Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Anthem Pictures Round 3

This picture captures the heart and soul of Anthem. It was taken during the 1.5 hour concert of prayer.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our house is for sale by owner...

I just started our marketing campaign to sell our house. Check out our house (click here) or copy/paste: http://2505claytondrive.blogspot.com/

Monday, December 14, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Anthem Reflection

It's been a week since Anthem, and I'm finally sitting down to reflect on all that God did.

Going in, there were two scriptures that I felt God was pressing in...

2 Chronicles 16:9, "the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." This is a cool verse lodged in a frightening context (Asa, a king who lost faith toward the end of his life). Going in we prayed fervently that the gaze of Christ would stop on the corner of Interstate 35 and Highway 30 as over a thousand young people gathered for worship and prayer.

The second verse, which is sort of a running theme, is from 1 Corinthians 14:25, where the unbeliever sees the body of Christ in action and “will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’”

Here's a recap...

We started at 8 p.m. and finished at 11:30. Three and a half hours of worship and prayer with over 1,000 teenagers and college students... the atmosphere was electric. For the first hour and a half, we did the usual non-stop worship set with the full band. Then, we did a musical intermission where we let people take a break, or leave if they were ready to go. Then we came back for an hour and a half of prayer as some of the team led an acoustic set. There were three movements of this prayer time: Adoration, Communion, and Intercession.

It was beautiful to see the auditorium turned into a house of prayer as 300-400 students were spread out around the auditorium, some praying in groups, others as individuals kneeling, sitting, or standing with arms outstretched. It was a house of prayer for the nations.

Then the Anthem Warriors- those who stayed to the very end (about 300)- rushed down to the front as the band kicked in "He reigns" at about 11:10. That bled into "Glory" and then our set was done. At that point I said, "Whatever you start singing, we'll sing with you."

The crowd spontaneously broke into the intro of "One Life." They were even in the right key! The place erupted and got rowdy with the worship of Jesus and "one life, one love that saved us, we trust in the promise of salvation..."

Here's how God answered prayer...

As to the first prayer (2 Chron. 16:9)- as one couple left halfway through the prayer time, they were turning north onto I-35 when they saw a display that looked like heavenly fireworks. Falling from the sky over Cornerstone was a bright green shooting star. As it got closer, the thing just exploded in the sky right over the building. They looked at each other stunned and silent. Oh the pleasure of God in the prayers of his people. I think there's a special place in his heart for children who are praising him!

Regarding our second prayer from (1 Corinthians 14:25), there were three direct answered prayers that we know of.

One high school student came in as a skeptical atheist. But as a musician and songwriter, he was interested in hearing original worship music. He was talking to one of the high school leaders during the intermission and said he wanted to become a Christian. Asked why, he said, "As a song writer, I know that music comes from the heart. To hear these songs written as an overflow of love for God and to see people worshiping from their hearts, I cannot deny the truth of this."

One girl came with a friend and was a meth addict. She turned to her friend during the first set and whispered (or maybe yelled over the music...), "I want to become a Christian." During the intermission, she prayed with her friend and Todd Wallace in his office.

A Chinese guy came with his Chinese and American friends In the middle of worship he asked Brian Cheney, "Why does everyone lift up their hands?" Later in the worship, there he was with outstretched hands in worship. During the intermission, he also prayed to receive Christ in the office.

It was fun to see friends visiting from Kansas, Nebraska, and other parts of Iowa. Here is a picture of our drummer Clint Robinson with Giri Nam, from South Korea. She's a gifted song writer that we met when we were leading worship for a conference in Kansas. She has an amazing heart of worship, and a gift to put it to music.

I'm a little hesitant to post these, since it's raw footage and bad audio, but it will give you an idea of the first set.

For every person that came, there is another story of how God spoke and acted on their behalf.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Story time with James and James

James and James... funny cats indeed. They showed this video last night at Salt Company. You gotta love Pastor Tom sporting his tattoos. And the hand shake at the end was over the top :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Church Planting Quote

Here are some great thoughts on church planting. I first read this over the summer and it was one of the puzzle pieces in the Iowa City church plant. Click here for the whole article by Tim Keller. Here's the quote:

"The vigorous, continual planting of new churches is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of existing churches in any city. Nothing else- Not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting or renewal process will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is an eyebrow raising statement. But to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Blogging Slump is Over

One of the bummers in this life is that when you have the most on your mind, you have the least amount of time to process it.

Because I use this blog as an outlet for my thoughts on family, ministry, life... there's so much I've wanted to write over the last four weeks but never got around to it.

So it's time to break the slump.

There's no better way to break out of it than with some random thoughts and pictures. My blogging forte.

Below: Makai comes over to me and says, "pusssups." I thought, "I have no idea what you're talking about but I'll just pretend I know what you mean." A few minutes later I go over and see the superheroes all lined up in the living room doing pushups.

Sucks to be Aquaman, being relegated to one-armed pushups while naked.
I looked at my dinner plate tonight and thought, "Seriously?" A little salmon and squash. It's times like these when I realize how spoiled and overfed I am.
Below: Guess what the stain is. Multiple choice:
A. Grass stain
B. Mustard
C. Part of the American Eagle design
D. The aftermath of Jett's blowout (i.e. poopy diaper)

When the kids get quiet, it's bittersweet.

On the one hand, you have a chance to get something done. On the other hand, you know that you're going to have to do more work because they are causing problems and making a mess of something.

In this case (nice pun), Makai ruined a perfectly good pair of contacts.

At least there weren't any condoms in the sink this time (click here and just scroll down to the last picture...).
Every once in awhile Leatha makes our butter. It doesn't look like butter. More like a big ol' white...
However you ended that last sentence is a good indication of your maturity level. If you answered:
"Turd"- Junior high
"Log"- Adult
"Stick of Butter"- Organically inclined adult.

What does it say for the person who typed the question?

Below: I love visiting Omaha because my parents have a family pass to one of the world's best zoos. And with the pass we can stop in for an hour and not feel bad about it. That's about my zoo, shopping, museum (anything boring) threshold.
Thanks to my redneck friend Stan (click here), I got my first (legal) kill. We had a lot of squirrel and rabbit deaths in our back yard growing up in Omaha.
Speaking of rednecks. Our lead pastor, Troy, recently caught a snapping turtle. He power washed the poor thing and had a plan to put it in the baptistry and then pull a prank on our facilities guy. Thankfully, the thing escaped from the back of his truck before he could do it. Here's a video of our pastor Troy hunting for the turtles...

This is "spiritual intensity week" for our college ministry as we prepare for what God is going to do this Friday night at Anthem. It's 9:14 and I'm with you, Makai.

Time for bed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Iowa City

Well, it has been a crazy few weeks. There's so much I've been wanting to write, but haven't had any spare moments, and much of what I have been processing wasn't ready for the world wide web.

A couple weeks ago, Jeff Dodge and Troy Nesbitt asked me to consider planting a Cornerstone Church of Iowa City, along with Salt Company at the University of Iowa. I told them I'd pray.

That whole week, every page in my Bible seemed to say, "YES! GO!" It came less as a command, and more as an invitation to a journey. My mom had some great insight on this- this is what God seemed to be saying, "The path you're on is a good path. But Mark, what would you think about going with me off the path onto a trail you can't see? Follow me. You're going to love the view. Let's go."

I went in to Jeff and Troy a week after I was asked to pray about it (I don't sit on decisions for too long), and said, "Let's do this. Count me in."

The day after, Andy and Amanda Sage were visiting TSC. I asked Amanda what she thought of the night. Staring at the 700 dispersing students with a look of heaviness, she said, "I couldn't help but think this whole time... 'What if this never existed? What if Cornerstone and Salt Company was never here?'"

In the millisecond I had to think, a thousand names went flooding through my mind (Leatha, Rachael, Wally, Martin, Mark, _______ (insert your name here; I probably thought of you!)

If she only knew how prophetic that statement was to me.

As if it weren't enough, she followed it with, "I just wish there was something like this in Iowa City for my brother."

It's as if God put the exclamation point on the decision. "YES! GO!"

There are so many more little pieces to the puzzle, but this summer we will be moving to Iowa City to plant Cornerstone Church of Iowa City (First services early September) and Salt Company at U of I (TSC kickoff on August 26).

Since it was announced at Salt on Thursday and Cornerstone this weekend, over 100 people have said, "I'm thinking God might be calling me to go with you. Please pray for me." Wow.

There will be much more to come. But for now...

Anyone want to buy our house?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Facebook Holdout Has Ended

I'm coming out of my walled in compound with my hands up, holding a white flag of surrender.

I've met my match. The global social network was too much for me to handle.

Gone are the days of not being able to put a name with the face, or a face with the name.
Gone are the days of not being able to get in touch with someone because I don't have their email.
Gone are the days of "free time" and "getting stuff done". That's old school.
Gone are the days of not being able to instantly be updated about all aspects of everyone's life (and getting other people's thoughts on it)

What's next?


Sign me up.

Friday, November 6, 2009

No You Didn't

Yes I did.

I really did trade away this (MJ rookie Fleer Premier)
To get this (Mike Greenwell rookie):

Why did I bring that up? Because it was an illustration in my talk last night at TSC. For a weekly ministry update click here.

Some friends from Pine Cove camp took our family out to Hickory Park. We looked over and Makai had his shirt off. He's in the "fascinated with muscles" boy phase. Boys-Teens-Men, they never really get out of that phase. C'mon fellas, didn't you flex in the mirror today?

I didn't.
This is not at all an uncommon scene in our office... Pastor Tom on his knees. He is the most fervent 72 year old I've ever met. Perhaps his rival is Max Barnett, who will be speaking to our TSC leaders in January. More on that in a couple months.
No guitar strap, no mic stand...are you kidding me? That's not going to keep Makai from rocking out!
There have been Darth Vader spottings around our house. He sneaks around like a ninja.
Makai and Jett.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Today I did my birthday ritual by reading the story of King Asa (2 Chronicles 14-16). My greatest fear in life is that my most passionate, sold out, and radical for Jesus days are behind me. I read Asa's story to remind me that complacency and shipwreck are crouching at my door.

I hope this year will be more fruitful and sanctifying than any year to this point.

I'm overwhelmed by the love poured out to me by my wife, kids, staff and student leaders. They each gave me some meaningful and generous gifts. For example, Cameron has been saving for quite some time and he gave me $5, which is all the money to his name. He put the money in a Spiderman card that he drew himself. I love that kid! Leatha has been saving money from a small side job and used a couple months wages to buy me some gifts. Our staff and leaders poured on the love with an ISU sweatshirt, a gift card, and some jack to take Leatha out.

I have no idea why, but I'm a blessed man.

And old.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Leaves and Halloween

It's easier to worship when every tree in Iowa seems to be on fire.

This is the perfect time to cue the Elizabeth Browning quote, "Earth is crammed with heaven. Every bush is aflame with the fire of God, but only those who see take off their shoes. The rest just pick the berries."
Cameron gave Beck a Bob the Tomato tattoo.
Ava gave Makai the same tattoo. I guess we all have different gifts...
Our church had a big open house today (Click here for weekly ministry update). One of our pastors saw these inflatables sitting unused Friday night and called for a spontaneous party. Why not put them to use?
The kids had a blast before going to a nursing home in a neighboring town for trick or treating...
We rolled into the nursing home, and it was empty. They cancelled it because they didn't want the kids bringing in the flu, which is going around. Talk a hope deferred making the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12)...
But then we went to Grandpa and Grandma's... "but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life"
Today at the open house one kid dressed up as "Paul Sabino". Unfortunately he wasn't there to enjoy it, as he was in Indianapolis on a Father-Son trip to a Colts game.
Happy Paul-o-Ween.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Anthem on iTunes

Over two months after it's release, Discmakers finally got the Anthem "One Life" album up on iTunes. A general search for "Anthem One Life" is the quickest way to find it.
My personal favorite songs are:
1. One Life
2. Take the Day
3. Lost Sheep
4. Both the Selahs

But I don't think those are most likely to have mass appeal. I guess that list would be:
1. Glory
2. I Adore
3. To Do Your Will
4. I will lift up my voice
5. One Life (it's still a little unconventional, however, with phrases like "definite God" and "shed our mortal woes")
6. Take the Day (Any song Ryan Seiler writes is going to be very... "original"... and yet it has a way of getting in you. This is one of those songs.)

Our goal is first and foremost is to inspire passion for Christ in the youth of our church by giving them a relevant lyric and melody. I hope Anthem will be a spark of revival for the next generation.

So now that it's on iTunes, God can finally use it...

Oh wait, He already has been. But the global nature of technology is still cool and used by God.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Makai, the Stuntman

My brother taught me how to build half pipes and launch ramps growing up. Who would've guessed how well that skill would transfer into being a dad? Instead of wood, we just used scrap paper.

This is the consequence of being the youngest child available to test the effectiveness of our launch ramps. Jett (our 3 month old) was napping at the time, or we would've tried to jump two kids...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cornerstone's New Auditorium

Today we had our first services in the new auditorium. The pictures tell the some of the story...
During the 9:00 service, every seat appeared to be taken (1,040) and there were a couple hundred people sitting on concrete steps in the unfinished balcony. The 11:00 was also packed, but there weren't quite as many in the balcony. Next week's Saturday night service should relieve some of the pressure.

(Below) Every hand seemed to be raised during "Jesus Paid It All". It was cool to see the worship temp so hot on the first day of services, and the focus of every song, drama, video, and message was Jesus Christ and his kingdom (i.e. not the building).

The Cafe provides a great place to hang out and enjoy some bean.
The baptistry in the entry serves as a reminder of our union with Christ.
The green room is a great place for the servants who lead us throughout the weekend to hang out and relax.
The video room was in full gear.
This sweet little baby is Jaida Paullus, the new daughter of Andy and Jill (who serves on staff with TSC). God has a special plan for her life- may He lead her on a path of righteousness for his name's sake. Bless you, Jaida!

For family movie night, we were struggling on what to watch. tvland.com saved the day with some "Leave it to Beaver" and "Brady Bunch".