Archive for the 'Spiritual Journey' Category

Thoughts on Turning 30

Man, I’m finally here. I feel this sense of accomplishment. I guess it’s because people often tell me I look like I’m 14. I’m kinda pumped to make the big three-oh.

Our culture worships youth. I’m no longer 20-something. I’m no longer relevant. I’m no longer the target audience. I’m no longer cool. (The jury’s still out on if I was ever cool.)

Youth worship always rubbed me the wrong way.

Scripture says,

Gray hair is a crown of splendor

The people who have had the deepest impact on my life all have gray hair. My parents. Dan Flynn. David Neidnagle.

The impact I have on the world today for Christ is crazy, rediculously more than even a year ago and exponentially more than before that. I enjoied being young, but I also mourn the foolishness of my youth. I love being 30, it’s exactly perfect. I also look forward to getting older and wiser. (Older ≠ wiser. God gives wisdom.) I can only imagine the kind of Christian I’ll be with 10 more years under my belt, or 20 or 30!

So right now you’re thinking, “wow, Billy’s pretty confident and content with his age.”

I am.

You may also think, “I wish I could feel like that.”

You can

– it’s a side-effect of following Jesus. Seriously, following Jesus won’t make your life perfect, but it’s the craziest awesome adventure on the planet. It’s what you were made for. It’s the only way to be content because Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Following Jesus will also cost you your whole life. (If you want to know more about following Jesus, you’re welcome to shoot me an email. I’d be happy to start a dialogue with you.)

Life Priorities

  1. God
  2. Spouse
  3. Children
  4. Friendship
  5. Physical health
    • Eating right
    • Exercise
    • Sleep
  6. Career
  7. Enrichment
    • Learning
    • Adventure
    • Fun
This is a list of life priorities I journaled recently. The idea was to have a broad measuring stick as I started to do task/time management to see if my calendar and my todo list were taking me in a direction I wanted to go.

Beginning a Search

Today we worshiped with Buliding Church. It surprised me how refreshing it was to just go somewhere and worship God. Not show up several hours early and do a bunch of set up and lead a sound check and various other distractions from God’s presence, but just show up and worship.

After the service I talked briefly with Pastor David about being an ex-church staffer trying to find a place to plug in. He said, “I know it can be awkward.”

Man, it totally is.

The pull is to critique everything. When you’re a church professional trying to find a church it’s like John Madden trying to simply enjoy a football game. Rather than focus on a “What impressed me? – What did I enjoy?” attitude I tried to have a “How could God use me in this community? Is God calling my family here?” attitude.

I will say I really enjoyed the worship and teaching. The welcome team was on point!

We sang –

  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Joy to the World
  • Angles We Have Heard on High
  • The First Noel
  • Another song I’d never heard before
  • Run, Run Rudolph (walk out song)

Check out other Churches’ Sunday morning set lists on Fred’s blog.

The Building Church worship pastor only led one song. It was cool to see a guy who empowers his team. I’m not a big fan of Christmas carols for Sunday morning services, but O Come All Ye Faithful and Angles we have heard on High were rockin’. Seriously, some of the most worshipful arrangements of those I’ve heard.

In terms of the big 4

Solid Preaching: Check. David spoke about how Christians don’t search for peace – they HAVE peace, they don’t search for Joy, they HAVE joy. In a culture where it’s super hip and trendy to be “seeking” and very nerdy to be “found” I really appreciated the good theology.

Another thing that struck me that was HUGE was how much vision was just littered through the message. Getting into a small group as well as going through the “growth track” classes were both plugged during the sermon.

Love Huntsville: Check. We prayed over some build-a-bears (“Building Bears”) that were being sent to Children who were spending Christmas in Huntsville Hospital.

Love the World: Check. The put a picture on the screen of the orphans in Venezuela who they were helping. The Pastor and his wife served as missionaries before become church planters.

Passionate about church planting: Big Check. What really impressed me the most was the confidence that folks had about being called to Huntsville. Pat, an associate pastor, shared with wild excitement about how he’d left a paying job to raise support, take on a part-time job and help plant Building Church. They are only a little over a year old and are looking open another campus in Madison in February.

With all this I didn’t hear the whisper of God saying, “This is the place.” I have a feeling like it’s probably not gonna happen that way. I envision it more like us visiting several places and then praying in light of those experiences about where to go.

You can check out Sarah’s take on visiting Building Church.

Obama – Helping me Share Jesus

This morning at work the crew was pretty pumped about the election results. Most of them supported Obama in the election. One of my co-workers was really excited about all the Democrats who won. She kept singing “Oh happy day, Oh happy day.”

She sang, “Oh happy Day” then someon else echoed “Oh happy day.”

At this point I chimed in with the next two lines, “When Jesus washed, my sins away.”

Another coworker said, “Break it down Church!” (They call me “Church.”)

I told the crew I’d bring my guitar in tomorrow.

Honestly I was pretty bummed when I woke up to today’s elections results. But when else do you get to sing about Jesus at work with your non-churchgoing coworkers? That’s a win in my book.

As for our political leaders I think I can deal. God is the one who sets up rulers and governors so I’ll trust Him on this one. Besides, my real citizenship is in the Kingdom of Heaven and Jesus Chris is my King.

Just to Put Something Up

Blogging is a tricky endeavor. My first week of bivocatinalism left me zero time to blog. The problem is that once you take a day off you tell yourself, “I can just do a really good post tomorrow that will make up for skipping a day.” Then you are 2 days behind and the stakes get higher. By the end of the week you start dismissing all of your blog ideas becuase none of them are this amazing prolific post you need to get back in the game. So here’s some multi-topic ramble to get things up and going.

The Job

Work is terrrific. It’s also tiring. I walk…a lot. I think I’m going to get skinny again like when I was a waiter. I’m not looking forward to that. I work with a great crew of people I just like to be around. They call me, “Church.” (You can’t say it “cherch” it’s more like “ch-uh-ch”) Apparently my addiction is immediately evident upon meeting me.

Ministry

As far as worship leading goes. I’ve had to drop tasks like crazy. I cut and cut and prioritized and cut some more and still ended up work-o-holic-ing my week. My daughter added, “Spend time with Eve-Marie” to my to-do list. Apparently she’s noticed my increase in busyness and thinks she’ll get left out. She’s right. This week failed. I need to recalibrate going forward.

The Bail-out

I am so angry over this. I have lost almost all respect for President Bush. This was the stupidest move ever invented. It was billed as a “we have no choice, it’s this or nothing.” That’s a wicked lie. There were many free market solutions. Alabama Senator, Richard Shelby did me proud.

Some Good Stuff

Mark Dirscoll is writing a free ebook called, “Porn-again Christian.” If you are man you need to read this and then point all of your buddies to it as well. The first chapter is up on his website. More chapters are coming soon.

I usually find Bob Kauflin’s blog painfully boring, but this video was SPOT ON:

My only qualm with this video is that it’s long on theory and short on practicality. It’s easy to pointificate about how noble it is to embrace paradox and “healthy tensions” but living them out is infinitely difficult. Bob sets up a problem for us and then doesn’t offer any solutions. Then again maybe I should read his book instead of making fun of his video. Check out 3 other top-notch videos here.

Becoming Bivocational

Be careful who your heroes are – you’ll probably end up like them.

For me, I have always admired bivocational pastors. I think it takes a tons of guts, a loads of dedication and a bit of insanity to work full-time and still be on a Church staff. These guys have the tenaciousness and fearlessness that makes them my heroes and very soon I will be one of them.

My Church Makes Me Proud

Last night my church’s Administrative Counsel passed the most recent wave of budget cuts. This time dramatic cuts were made to staffing costs and on Nov. 1st my position as Worship Arts Pastor becomes a volunteer role.

I’m am wildly proud of my Admin Counsel and those who specifically serve on the Staff Parish Relations Team (Human Resources Committee). The fact is that this decision was the right thing to do. This is a giant step forward for our church. It was an extremely difficult decision to make. It took boat loads of character, integrity and courage for those who stepped up to make it.

Why This is a Step Forward

According to Steve Stoope the money you spend on staff should be 50% of the money you have coming in. This include salaries, insurance, benefits, ect… all your staffing costs should be 50% of what you bring in. We are a church that averages 100 adults in worship on Sunday and we have 5 full time staff members. Our previous staffing costs were more than 50%. In a time of financial crisis we were spending above our means. Because of leaders with integrity who made difficult decisions we are now living with honest staffing costs.

It’s not the end of the battle – we still have a long way to go before we beat this crisis, but this is a huge win on the battle front. As the church grows and finances increase we’ll go back to having a full-time worship pastor.

You Can Help Me Find a Job

In the meantime I’m in the market for a secular job so I can pay my bills and still lead worship on Sunday. I’ve already had a few opportunities come my way even before this news went public – God is good and He is taking care of me. If you’d like to help me out – I’m looking for a job in Huntsville and I’m not scared of hard work. An 8-5 would work best leaving my nights and weekends for family and Chase Valley. A bonus would be some type of job where I get to contribute to Huntsville – where my job would show my love for my city. Shoot me an email if you have any ideas.

When It All Falls Into Place

Yesterday was hard.

After getting many positive replies to Sunday’s worship from members of my church community and online commmunity, I received one negative response. It was from a leader in my community who I respect. She didn’t dislike the idea of solo worship, but she thought it was poor timing.

The most important reason to do scaled down worship is to teach people that you don’t need all the glitter and sizzle to worship God. Glitter and sizzle isn’t bad. We intentionally make worship exciting every week and don’t apologize for it. But the flash and hype is just not necessary, and believing it is necessary is bad. My friend notes that it is a good and lofty goal to teach this type of worship theology, but now was probably not the time to do that.

The argument makes sense to me. People have a hierarchy of needs – they don’t really care how to increase the battery life of their iPod if they don’t have food to eat or basic shelter. Right now our church is in several layers of crisis. Is it the time to focus on deeper lessons of faith or stick to the basis? Despite my feeling that it was a smashing success, I’ve still been in thought over whether this was a wise call or not.

Today on the other hand was an awesome day.

Everything just fell into place. I seriously feel at ease and happy – two emotions that have been elusive recently. Today, plans that I didn’t think were going to work out, ended up working out. It happened all day long. One example was that I found out 2 band members could not play this week. When I called them up they had already taken the initiative to find their own replacements. Score!

I had five or six difficult conversations today. They were all difficult for different reasons, but in each case those who I spoke with surprised me with thier empathy, dedication and faith. I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised. God has surrounded me with some amazing friends.

I’m pretty thankful for today.

A Double Win

This is the conversation I had with my 8-year-old daughter today after dropping my mom off at the airport:

Maybe one day when I’m ready to plant a church you can be my worship leader.”

I don’t know…

You could do it, you’re already good at playing piano and singing.”

We’ll have to make a deal.”

Yeah, what kind of deal?”

I don’t know, a deal.”

What do you have in mind? Pitch it to me.”

Well, I was thinking we could spend a whole day together, just you and me, and then I’ll be your worship leader.”

That sounds like a win/win to me.

Can I PLEASE pray for you?

PrayI have been blown away by everyone who’s commented and emailed me that they are praying for me and my church.

How can I pray for you?

Something’s Brewing…

at CVC, but I can’t tell you yet.

Shhhh

I skipped out on  my guildmeeting tonight to attend the Chase Valley Administrative Counsel meeting. I was pretty bummed to have to miss a great discussion on Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning in order to sit through a church meeting. But tonight the Holy Spirit busted things up in a crazy unexpected way. You might even say we chased the Holy Spirit a bit tonight. The meeting stopped half-way through to launch into an improtu time of prayer. Then we all agreed that we couldn’t wait another month to meet again so we’d have to get together next week.

If you are part of the Chase Valley family you are welcome to hang out next Tuesday and get in on the ground floor of something BIG.

For the rest of ya’ll – I can’t wait to fill you in. I’m wildly excitied.

Guitar Pedals: My Unfulfilled Dream

I have a secret obsession with guitar effect pedals. Every time I see a post about pedals I start to salivate like a St. Bernard in a steakhouse. I’ve been playing guitar for 17 years and have always dreamed of stomping on a cluttered box full of boutique effects. For whatever reason I’ve never even bought a single pedal!

Something tells me all the trendy worship guys use stomp boxes on stage. I can’t say that doesn’t make just a little bit envious.

If I could put together a board tomorrow I’d stick these pedals in first:

It will probably be a long time before I have enough cash (and don’t have other priorities) to buy some cool effects pedals. But in the meantime I can always dream and put up a post for watercooler Wednesday.

Have you ever dreamed about something but never fullfilled that dream?

The Value of Narrative Tweets

Jordan posted some comments on a previous post that were so thought provoking I needed to respond with an entire new post.

Part of Jordan’s Comment

Let me see, what will people be reading in 100 years.

DA Carson’s works…check.
Edwards…check.
John Piper…check.
oh yes and Billy Chia’s twitters. hahaha

[]

My Reply

Jordan,
I may not be as famous as Piper – you don’t have to rub it in 🙂

You’ve inadvertently touched on a very important feature of twitter that many people don’t take advantage of: Narrative Tweets.

You see if I ever do get as famous as DA Carson there is a very high likelihood that they will be reading my tweets in 100 years.

Why?

People are fascinated by narrative. They love a story – this is why people read books that are diaries, journals, and autobiographies. My tweets not only connect me with other people – the tell the story of my life. But, not everyone’s tweets do this. You have to be intentional about it.

Non-Narrative Tweets

Some people tweet in a disconnected way – random “what I’m doing now” tweets pop up that aren’t connected to anything else going on. They are informative in the moment, but like you said, the value dies quickly. This is because they think of twitter in terms of the way they most frequently access it: via the ADD inducing stream on their twitter.com/home page.

Enter the Narration

However my tweets (and many others) have value when you go to my twitter page and look at all my tweets together. When I tweet later in the day I try to connect it somehow to something I said earlier. This could be as simple as “practice is starting” and “practice is over” or more complex like my commentary on homeschooling.  The point is that if follow me through out the day (or even just check in once and look at my twitter page) it tells the story.  There’s a narrative value to browsing my twitter feed. In this way the value is ever present – even 100 years from now.

I would love to see what Jesus’ twitter archives would look like. I guarantee if he would have twittered we’d be reading it today. The same goes for Piper, Edwards or Fowler.

In Closing: Thank You

The real point of twitter isn’t what will happen in 100 years – books are better at that hands down. The point is that right now there are 75 people who follow my twitter feed. 75 real people who matter. They care enough to plug into what I put out through twitter. There are even more who follow through my facebook status updates. When I my daughter was sick and I asked for prayer on twitter I got responses back through facebook. That’s meaningful kingdom impact in my book. So thank you for following me on twitter.

Meet Your Friends Faster with Twitter

Twitter connects people – even people sitting in the same coffee shop just a few feet apart from each other.

Yesterday Stearns was my office all day:

My 12 noon was a little late so there I was enjoying the free wifi, checking my RSS and Twitter feeds when Eric sent out this tweet:

“Wes Skinner” was one of the guys I was supposed to meet for the first time at 3pm. So curiously I clicked on his name and found this tweet:

So I looked around and said, “Wes?” A dapper fellow with shaggy hair turned around and a fun conversation ensued about in-ear monitors. Then I tweet’d this:

You can see fun pics from the event here.

This post is part of Watercooler Wednesday at Ethos.

Connecting with the Catalyst Podcast

I’ve been a fan of the Catalyst Podcast since episode 1. These guys put together a great show. Recently Ken did an email poll asking the questions, “What do your Evangelical Christian friends think of Obama?”

I have heard nothing positive about Obama. Actually, I’ve heard a lot of “the change we must change to the change we hold dear” but precious little about what he actually stands for and why people like it. This post sums up pretty well most of the reasons I’ve heard not to vote for him.

So I responded to Ken’s poll and he read my email on the show!

You can listen to episode 53 around 7:00 minutes in. They even got my name right.

This is not a political blog, I’m not endorsing any candidate here, I’m simply reporting my experience. If do you like Obama, feel free to drop some comments on why.

Cool, now I’ve been mentioned by name on the Catalyst podcast – my next goal?

To be the feature interview 🙂

I Can Do 100 Push Ups, Can You?

Here is a video of me trying to do 100 push ups. How many did I actually do?

Watch the video below:

This was part of my initial test on hundredpushups.com. They have a training schedule that shows you how to do 100 push ups in 6 weeks. Quite an ambitious goal, but I’m an ambitious guy so I’ll go for it.

Anyone want to try it out with me?

Sapient Reader’s Guild Tonight

One of my goals when I moved to Huntsville was to be a “Huntsville worship pastor” and not simply a “Chase Valley Church worship pastor.” I believe there is a responsibility of church staffers to invest in their communities and not simply spend all their time at church.

In the last 6 months I’ve failed miserably at this. I have spent all my time at church. I live, eat, sleep and breathe church. When I’m not at church or doing church stuff from home, I’m thinking about church and doing more church.

My pastors, with loving concern, have told me, “Billy, read a Harry Potter book.” They know all the books on my reading list are church-related. Even the ones I read for “fun.”

A few months ago Pastor Dorothy Ann gave me a flyer for “The Sapient Reader’s Guild.” It totally looked up my ally and I thought, “I need to make it a point to go to this.”

Except I didn’t go. I always found some excuse not to go.

After whining non-stop about how God is calling me to invenst in Huntsville Sarah has told me, “I’m going to be mad at you if you don’t go to that book club.” So last week I got Malcom Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point.” I did the assigned reading, wrote some questions and I’m looking forward to hanging out at Stern’s Coffee house in a few hours.

I don’t know anything else about the guild, beyond what is on their website. I’m not quite sure what to expect, but my hope is that I meet some people who are really different from me. Non-church people. I know every church pastor and his brother has blogged about the church implications of “The Tipping Point.”

Tonight I’m hoping to get a different perspective.

A Little Alone Time Does Wonders

Alone, but not lonelyI’m a pretty social guy. For the most part being alone drives me nuts. But every once in a while it’s exactly what I need.

Today I was at the church building doing stage set up and final prep for Sunday. Normally I do this on Saturdays and my girls come in with me to help. Tomorrow we’re headed to Nashville so I came in today instead.

Working for a few hours by myself brought some unexpected, and much welcomed clarity of mind.

Thank you for your prayers. They were felt and appreciated.

Transparency on a Wednesday

Man I’m just stressed out today. Nothing has really happened today to make that happen, it’s only 10am, but the collective happenings of the last week or so are weighing heavily. I’m finding it hard to get going today or get motivated.

I love the question “What’s one thing I could get done today that would make me successful?”

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to apply right now. I have 30 things that all need to get done yesterday. Maybe they don’t really “need” to get done. Maybe other people just want me to get them done and I’m just scared of hurting people or offending people. Maybe my struggle isn’t with my own calendar – I tend to be pretty good at being ruthless with myself. I can cut the non-essential down to the bone and focus like a mad man when it comes to my own heart.

When it comes to other people I wimp out.

I’m a people pleaser. I need people to like me and so I want to accomplish everything that everyone wants me to do – my bosses, my co-workers, my worship team, my family I want to keep them all satisfied. In that pursuit I’ve really haven’t impressed anyone at all.

Something needs to change. This way is not working.

Woohoo!

Man, sometimes everything just goes right.

I’ve got my awesome family with me again.

I had an eye-opening voice lesson today and feel about 1000% more confident with my vocals.

I had a great lesson today with one of my guitar students – he’s working hard and almost has “One” by Metallica nailed.

We had the flippin’ sweetest band practice since I’ve been here. I’m way excited for Sunday.

I worship the best God around.

I just doesn’t get any better than this.

All Moved In

This weekend I moved my family down to Alabama. It rocks.

The move was relatively painless. We had many people helping us out. Even the weather seemed to cooporate. Torrential amounts of rain mysteriously seemed to stop at just the right time when we needed to load or unload the truck.

The fun part happened when we showed up to the apartment and signed our lease. We got our keys and went out to meet the small army gathered near the Uhaul that had shown up to help us move in.  We put the key in the lock, turned it, and nothing happened. We had like 20 people standing around and no access to the apartment. My resourceful buddy Tim broke in through an unlatched window and the rest of the unloading went off with out a hitch 🙂 We got a new working key the next day.

I love having my family down with me. Man, I missed those girls like crazy.

A New Level

Last night I played Guitar Hero III on Hard.

The other 2 times I played I couldn’t move past medium.

Thanks for the coaching Jake.

Sabbath

I’ve been to plead guilty to number 3 on Perry’s list. It been a long time since I’ve actually taken a day off.

I wrote this yesterday and set it to post today.

Right now I’m drinking coffee somewhere reading my Bible.

Parents Rock

Why?

Well I’m a Dad and I’m pretty cool. My wife is the best mother on the planet. I love doing parenting with her. (I know “best” usually only means “one” but it’s ok if you think your wife is the best mother on the planet too.)

My parents are awesome. They just celebrated 38 years of marriage. I am a Worship Pastor today because they have always encouraged my musical and spiritual journey.

But when I talk about rockin’ parents I’m really thinking about Sarah’s mom and dad. Because of the rigmarole involved with selling our house we are in a crazy time crunch to get moved down to Huntsville. My parents-in-law are really bending over backwards to get us packed up, moved out of Evansville and moved down to Huntsville. (Tom and Margie thank you!!)

The cool news is that because of this I’ll get to move my family down next Thursday!

I’m stoked.

A Somber Day, A Joyous Day

My neighbor passed away on Easter and I went the funeral today. Even though I’d only met Ken a few times I felt a special connection to him because he spent his life as a church musician. I have to say I feel pretty sad as I’m mourning this loss. My heart also hurts for the family of such a great guy.

I celebrated Easter at my Children’s Pastor’s house (as my family’s not in town.) We ate an Italian feast and played Guitar Hero until we were silly. I drove home pretty late. When I pulled into the parking lot I saw a bunch of cars and knew something was wrong.

I knocked on the door. Mike, Ken’s son, broke the news and invited me in. We all talked for about an hour. Ken’s wife shared with me that she felt like Easter was such a great day to die. The day we celebrate the eternal life that comes through the resurrection of our Lord is the day that Ken entered into eternal life. I can’t even explain the enormous comfort I felt in that moment knowing where Ken’s eternal destiny lie.

The funeral was very close to how I’d like my funeral to be. There was a lot of singing and laugher over stories shared.

Today is sadness and happiness altogether.

Twisted Neck = I Can’t Sing

I’ve been having tons of back pain with that feeling like my ribs are out of place. It’s really hard to get a full breath and so it’s difficult to sing.

I went to the chiropractor today because the pain was just getting ridiculous. He took some x-rays and told me I have whiplash from the auto accident I was in. My neck, which is supposed to have a curve in it is pretty kinked and twisted. As a result my back is out of whack because it’s trying to align with a crooked neck. It’s going to take a few weeks of treatment to get me back to normal.

I’m a little bummed as I was hoping to be on my game for Easter.

But, Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness right?

Never Lose Hope

In his letter to the Romans Paul talks about Abraham. He says:

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed

(NIV Rom 4:18)

With Jesus there is always hope.

Rockin’ the Vox

Today I hung out with the local high school choir director to get some vocal coaching. It was an awesome time. He actually has a background in church music and worship leading. When he talked about the goal we’d be shooting for in terms of getting a clear tone that people can follow on Sunday it was exactly what I was looking for. He gave me some goofy stuff to try out and we’re getting together next week. I’m excited. I feel like my voice is decent, but that God deserves the best I can offer.

The Best Cup of Coffee

Right now I’m living in a temporary apartment until my house sells and I can move my family down. If all goes on plan we’ll close on the house March 14th. I’m looking at apartments for my family tomorrow.

So in the apartment I’m in now I have these elderly neighbors. They are awesome. I haven’t had much chance to talk to them but today they invited me in today for some coffee and I actually got to hang out a bit. I found out that the husband used to play organ and direct music in a baptist church.

When I got to the office everyone was talking about where you get the best coffee in town and which one’s are the worst. We talked about everything from Starbucks to McD’s to the indie places in Huntsville. This place has some tremendous coffee.

I think the best cup of coffee I’ve had in a long time was the one I shared with my neighbors.

Thoughts on Turmoil

This is what’s kinda been in my head as of late…

When everything starts gong wrong you start asking lots of questions.

Did I mess up and God is punishing me?

Is Satan attacking me because I’m following God passionately?

Does this really have nothing to do with spiritual warfare and sometimes lousy days just happen?

When will things get better?

When will something go right?

Do I really have it that bad?

Could things be worse?

Should I really feel so stressed out at my small stupid problems when other people go through more difficulty and with more class?

Should I really be comparing myself to others?

Should I really feel so guilty for not being as strong and I think I should be?

Should I stop shoulding on myself?

If I start feeling better is it because in some strive forward toward maturity I’ve gained an objective outlook or have I just given up and lost hope?

Can I be full of hope and absent of hope at the same time?

What would a mature Christian do in this situation?

How should I be responding?

If I bottle it up and pretend nothings wrong is that fake?

Will there be deeper consequences to pay down the road if I don’t deal with these emotions now?

If I spew hurt and “feel sorry for me” on to everyone else is that the right thing to do?

What’s the right, true and proper way to respond to hardship?

Is there such a thing?

Am I being spiritually mature and humble by admiting that I don’t have it all together and I still need Jesus?

Am I being spiritually immature and prideful because I’m letting the world get to me and I should really rely on Jesus?

Have I been asking too many questions?

This week just sucks

Seriously. The sheer number of random terrible things that have happened makes it almost funny. I brought my family back down with me from Evansville so Sarah could go apartment shopping. She lost her wallet and people won’t let her look at the apartments without an ID.

To top it all off we got rear-ended last night while waiting at a red light. Everyone is safe. The van is not. We’re going to have to pack creatively for our trip back to Indiana.

Blah.

Going to See My Girls

I’m headed out to Indiana this week! Man, I’m excited.

Permission to be Messy

Man it’s been one of those days. Tons of stuff awesome about this morning. Tons of stuff I’m just pulling my hair out over. I don’t even feel like doing a confessional or taking the time to post a set list.

I know for a fact that the standards I have set for myself are to high. I am most likely trying to please people and not God and that is stressing me out.
A friend of mine told me a great story today about how he had patience and God worked everything out in the end.

That’s kinda what I’d like right now.

Permission for things to be messy. Permission to not have it all together. Permission to BE stressed out while I figure out how not to be. I know God is working things out. Permission to wait on God.

Tornado Sirens

Last night around 4am the loudest, most annoying sound woke me up. Since I’ve been known to ignore severe weather warnings in the past I was hoping to simply go back to sleep. The incessant blast didn’t allow this.

I huddled near an interior wall listening to the radio station. It was nerve racking trying to figure out how close this thing was as I have no knowledge of Alabama geography. The the announcer mentioned that funnel clouds were spotted near Red Stone Arsenal and Jordan Lane. That’s about 2 blocks from my house.

It got kinda freaky and I thought maybe I should take this stuff more seriously. On Monday I hung out with Jeff, who’s church was torn apart by a tornado in the 90’s, and my pal Darren‘s church had a tornado cut right through the sanctuary about 2 years ago.

Around 4:30 I heard the strom was heading northeast and thought I was in the clear. Then they mentioned the only other loction I’m familar with -Winchester Road, where my church is.

I was happy to show up this morning to find nothing had touched down in Huntsville and our building was in one piece. I’m praying for the families of those who lost life in the surrounding counties.

The Turning Rocks Renown

Last night I checked out The Turning at Shae’s Express. On Thursday nights a group of people meets there called Renown. After The Turning played a few songs Angus (how cool is that name?!) took the stage to lead a discussion on transparency and being real. It was good stuff, but I had to jet out early because I had a phone-date with my wife. (Free cell minutes after nine right.)

I was really impressed by The Turning. These guys are a professional band from Nashville and they rock. The last time I saw them play was at a festival in Indiana to a crowd of a couple thousand. It was awesome that they were willing to drive down to Huntsville to rock out a coffee shop for a crowd of less than 50.

Great Huntsville Hot Wings

Last night there was a tornado scare around here. I met up with some buddies at Beauregard’s for some hot wings.

We were the only ones in the restaurant.

They were amazing wings. Definitely worth the risk of being suck into the air by a funnel cloud.

First Day and My Awesome Brithday

Today rocked!

I walked into an emaculately cleaned office that I know some people had to scramble to put together. My awesome pastor traded offices with me (and took a smaller office) because mine is closer to the worship center (and far away from the main office so I can make more noise).

For lunch the staff hit up Jade Garden. Jean, my awesome children’s pastor, gave me a paper Birthday crown with my name on it. I figured 29 was still pretty young and I could pull of wearing the crown. Then I got her card which featured “Top 10 hymns for over-the-hill people” like “It is Well with My Soul – but my back aches a lot,” so I guess I’m old anyway.

A bunch of people showed up with cake and presents in the afternoon. It was super cool to be surprised like that I felt crazy welcomed and way loved on.

Moving Day

Today I’m driving the down to Huntsville to move in a studio apartment I’ll be renting until the house sells. The minivan is stuffed full like a fat guy at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Despite the massive size of the precarious load I’m hauling down I actually feel pretty good the amount of stuff we’ve gotten rid of as a family. Over the last few weeks each garbage day has seen a sizable increase in quantity. Our two meager trash cans, unable to contain the volume, stand as lone towers among a sprawling trashbag city that populates the curb each Monday.

All the good stuff went to Goodwill. In the time it took me to unload 7 other cars had pulled up, dropped thier donations, and departed.

So as pudgy as my van may be, it still feels slim to me.

The Chia family goal is to continue to live on less, hoard less, and live simply. Selling the house has just been a nice catalyst to propel us forward.

I’m going to miss my girls like crazy.

Torn emotions doesn’t begin to describe it.

In regards to starting at Chase Valley I’m crazy excited. Tomorrow, my first day in the office (by my choice) is also my birthday. For a guy who’s been tent-making for too long I couldn’t think of a better present than to be officially back in a church office.

As for missing my girls I can’t even blog about it and I’m thankful that 5 hours is a drivable distance.

My New Church

This past Sunday I was announced as the new Worship Arts Pastor at Chase Valley Church in Huntsville, AL!

I’m beyond excited about this new position. Months ago when Sarah when I first started praying over what Church we’d go to to lead worship our biggest concern was not simply finding another place to work but truly finding a community that God was calling us to serve in. Chase Valley is a place where my unique talents, gifts and experiences can really be used for God’s glory.

After countless interviews over the past few months I hadn’t felt a real sense of calling. I drove down to Huntsville for the interview with a great deal of trepidation and not much hopefulness for anything different. Man, was I completely surprised and blown out of the water. Everything I experienced said, “Billy this is where you and your family belong.” I also had this amazing sense that those on the interview team were Godly people committed to prayer. I drove home with an great deal of peace knowing that whoever they chose for the role would be right knowing that they had sought God in fervent prayer. When they offered me the job, Sarah and I likewise received an immediate affirmation. It was still difficult as we had to turn down some amazing opportunities to get to this place. I simply believe this is exactly where God wants me.

We visited Huntsville for the last 4 days. I have loved everything about Chase so far. My Pastors rock and the people are amazing. I have already met tons of people who have deep faith and passion for God’s kingdom. The love that’s been lavished on me and my family has been unreal. I was blessed enough to be able to get on stage to play guitar yesterday. It was an absolute privilege. If everything falls into place my goal is to lead my first worship service on the 13th.

Of course like any church there’s tons of baggage. (CVC doesn’t really have any more baggage than your average church, simply a different kind. If you want to be in church without the baggage your probably in the wrong line of work.) For me it wasn’t an issue of finding a church with no problems (such a place does not exist) but rather finding one who’s problems I could specifically deal with. (Perhaps like finding a spouse?)

At CVC right now there’s been a lot of hurt and a lot of transition. Their Senior pastor of 16 years took a call to another church in the last year and then of course the old Worship Pastor is currently in the process of planting a church. Both of these are super exciting things that God is doing in these people’s lives. Unfortunately it’s left some turmoil within the community. (Imagine if your Senior Pastor and Worship Pastor left your church within 6 months of each other.)

For me this is great news.

One, because Fred and Dorothy Ann, the new Senior Pastors are amazing. They are veterans in ministry with a grounded faith and ridiculously enormous hearts. The know how to love people the way I can only hope to. I’ve already felt a deep sense of team and I can’t wait to start working with them more.

And two, becuase God is moving as Chase Valley Church in a powerful way. Everyone’s reaction to me coming on staff has been humbling. When I was introduced on Sunday several people actually stood as they clapped. I believe they are as excited to have me as come on board as I am. I believe what God is doing right now within the community at CVC, including bring me on staff, is just the beginning. As I talked to different key leaders with in the community I felt a deep sense of hunger for God’s spirit and expectancy. There was a widespread earnestness and passion that I’ve not seen in any church I’ve ever been a part of. I can’t wait to move down to Huntsville and be with these people more.

Thank you to everyone who’s been praying that I find the right church. I have.

Now please pray for our house to sell and a smooth transition to Huntsville.

Look for some new worship confessionals coming soon.

A Christmas Light Tangent

Tonight Evansville was wet. As we drove home from worship rain gushed from the sky and streamed down our windows like a never ending car wash. While driving past the neighborhood where Sarah grew up, the wavy distorted flicker of a house lit up for Christmas caught her eye through the windshield and water.

“Let’s drive through and look at Christmas lights,” Sarah says. The worst possible night for such a venture.

Our windshield wipers groaned under the strain of the relentless shower. Then, for just a moment, the rain let up and we saw the dazzle of beautiful shrubbery strung with artful lighting as well as the haphazard kitsch of inflatable snowmen and loosely strung chords shaking violently in the storm.

Each one in the family pointed out their favorites.

Mine wasn’t a decoration at all. It was the inconvenience of the moment and the beauty of sacrifice creating togetherness.

Why I Love Church Work

Yesterday I was reminded of why I love Church work.

As part of everything that was happening on Sunday morning some conflict arose and some people I care about were hurt. I left church with a heavy heart. Often these types of situations can be frustrating and cause us to question the call to ministry.

For  me it was actually an affirmation that I belong working in the church.

Our choir did a song that calls, “Let the Church rise from the ashes.” The implication is that once we were on fire and now that fire has gone out. I love seeing the Church shine. I love when people get saved, grow in their faith and turn back around to serve in their communities. But it’s not always like this. Church work is full of a lot of heartache and criticism. After all the church is a broken place full of broken people just like everywhere else.

I had to ask myself the question, “Do I only want to work in the church when it is burning brightly or do I want to get down into the ashes and love people through their struggles, doubts and frustrations?”

The answer for me is that I want to get dirty in the messiness of the Gospel.

The Golden Compass: Humility and Killing God

A startling amount of buzz and controversy has surrounded the upcoming release of New Line Cinema’s The Golden Compass starring Nicole Kidman. Blog posts galore and email chain letters have succeeded in spreading the word along with a very slick flash website and movie blog.

The Golden Compass is the first is book in a trilogy written by author Phillip Pullman. These books were inspired by The Chronicles of Narina, which Pullman hates because their Christian allegory. In his Children’s fantasy trilogy Pullman is seeking to promote atheism and attack organized religion.

Naturally many Christians are upset by this.

I am too, but I’m also asking:

How can we as followers of Jesus have a humble attitude about this? (Phil 2:5 -8)

How can we exploit this movie and use it for good? (Rom 12:21)

The Controlling, Domineering, Murdering Church

Pullman very overtly rejects religion because it has “involved persecution, massacre, slaughter on an industrial scale.” New Line Cinema has sought to water down the overtly anti-Christian themes in the novels. They don’t want to make a movie that offends but instead are seeking to spread a general “critique of all dogmatic organizations.”

Can’t we be humble and learn from this? Can’t we just admit, “Yes, it’s true, the Church has a record of being domineering, controlling and overly dogmatic. Many have murdered in Jesus’ name. We as Christians are sorry for our own actions, that actions of of Christian brothers and the lack of action we have taken to correct it.”

Admitting that we as people are broken doesn’t say that God is broken. On the contrary it affirms our need for God. God is perfect. We are not.

Boycott Religious Dialogue

The Catholic League has called for an official boycott of the movie.

Let me see if I understand this: There is a heavily promoted, high-budget major motion picture being released in December. It contains many references to religion and will most likely spark conversation and national debate on the topics of God, religion and the Church. People who seldom think about God and talk about him even less will now be engaged in a full fledged conversation.

And this is a bad thing?

Anyone who knows me knows I talk about Jesus all the time. I’ve experienced many people actually leave the room simply because I mention his name. These people hate to talk about religion and it has been very difficult to engage them in spiritual conversation. But when I have talked to them about The DaVinci Code we’ve been able to have a very engaging conversation about God and faith. This doesn’t make The DaVinci Code good. It means its a horribly researched, flagrant lie that I exploited to get to know some of my friends better.

Can’t we do the same thing with The Golden Compass?

Killing God

In the novels the characters finally find God and then they kill him.

The problem is they were just a bit late with this one.

Others have already killed God.

He rose from the dead.

Brick and Mortar Myth

I love shopping online. Who doesn’t these days? You can compare prices and products with ease all while wearing your PJ’s.

Many companies tote the notion that their online store is seamlessly integrated with their brick and mortar locales. You can order online and pick-up in store. Sounds like a convenient, consumer-friendly business idea to me. The only problem is it’s not true.

Freezing cold water.

Our water heater broke a few days ago and it has not been fun. (Yes, I know there are starving children in 3rd world countries with no water at all. Just let me dwell in my American consumerism for a few moments.) You all thought I was taking navy showers for the environment. Now the truth comes out.

So like any web-savvy gent in our generation I hopped online to find a good price on a new water heater. I ended up at Sears.com where I found a good product at a good price. I called the 800 number on the website. Within minutes I was connected with Denise, a polite and well-mannered sales representative. She placed my order quickly and easily. Their adept computer system was even able to show the inventory of my local brick and mortar Sears store. Denise assured me my product was in stock and that I would have hot water again very soon.

10am – I receive a phone call from Terry, a local Sears sales rep informing me that my product was in fact not in stock. “Yeah, those website people just read our inventory off of a computer and we don’t keep it up to date.”

After some banter I asked, “What can you do right now to remedy the situation?”

His best effort would be to sell me a more expensive model, and since he values my business so much, he’ll even refuse to take my debit card number over the phone and will require me to drive down to the Sears store to present my card in person. This is despite the fact that I ordered on the phone in the first place. Apparently I placed my order with sears.com witch is not connected in anyway with Sears, the brick and mortar store.

2 sales reps, a manager and one hour later the issue was still not resolved.

I called Sears.com back (not to be confused with Sears) and they were able to switch my order in 5 minutes. The plumbers are scheduled to install the heater tomorrow.

I kinda feel bad for Terry. He feeds his family on commission and he lost a commission today to the website. Perhaps if Sears Corporate implemented some policies to better care for their employees Terry would have simply had me call the website back instead of trying to sell me on coming into the store and wasting an hour of my time.

I’m pretty disgruntled with the whole process. At least installing a new water heater will make the house easier to sell when I get a new job.

The Best Evansville Dentist

I had a wisdom tooth pulled today.

To start everything out Dr. Charles Kendall, my dentist, gave me a numbing agent. While we were waiting for it to kick it he wrote me a prescription for Loritab (hydrocodone) saying, “You may or may not need this, you can play it by ear depending on how much it hurts.”

As he began the procedure he informed me that some teeth are easier to extract than others depending on the curvature of the root. Apparently my roots are as twisted as my sense of humor. When he busted out the drill I knew I was giving him a hard time.

He worked diligently and with precision. After removing the final piece a look of accomplishment came over his face like he’d just triumphed over an extreme challenge.

He then frowned sympathetically and advised me, “You’ll definitely want to pick up that pain medication.”

My dentist is a super awesome guy who goes to my church. Knowing my current job situation he gave me a deal. My pastor teaches us to pray, “Thank you God for [some hardship in our lives] because it means [some other blessing].”

Today my prayer is, “Thank you God for this excruciating pain becuase it means I was privileged to be able to go to such a professional like Dr. Kendall.”

New Stuff at billychia.com

So I’m emerging after a week of no blogging with some shiny new features to tote:

No more Inept as Icing

Yep, I ditched the fancy blog name in favor of plain vanilla “Billy Chia.” I’ve been wrestling with doing this for a while. I think “Inept as Icing” has a catchy ring but I just wasn’t a fan.

I thought about doing like a “Billy Chia’s Blog” or “The Zany Adventures of Billy Chia in Blogland.” In the end simple and streamlined wins again. Although I am open to suggestions.

New Resume

I updated my resume page and put together a brand new resume. After much prayer and talking to some wise people in my church and on the web (Thanks Jon and Fred) I’ve overhauled my resume to more accurately reflect what I’m looking for and what I have to offer. I’m hoping to see some fresh results in the coming weeks and am hoping to be sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned.

New About and Top Posts pages

I tweaked a few things on my about page and redid my top posts page. Some fresh posts made it into the top ten.

Haitus

I tell you guys what, God is speaking to me in a powerful way recently.

I need to fast and pray about it.

One of the things I need to fast is blogging.

I’ll be back when I figure it out.

Low D

I just sang a D two octaves below Middle C.

My normal low note is G which is an improvement of 5 half steps! (I’m just a little geeked)

It was a clear tone without all the “gravel.” I didn’t have to dip my chin and it didn’t hurt.

Man I love Speech Level Singing.

Share Answered Prayer

How I Pray

I find myself praying all the time for different people, especially when they ask for prayer. When I commit to pray for someone I start praying right there at that very second. That way I don’t forget about it but also it puts the prayer in my head and my heart. The next time something reminds me of that person I find I remember to pray for them again because I already did.

Often I find myself praying,

God help this situation… or is that already taken care of?

Many people ask for prayer, but few seem to get back with you and tell you how God has answered that prayer. I love when people keep me informed with news like,

God said, ‘yes’ here’s what happen…

God said, ‘no’ here’s how I’m dealing…

God is saying, ‘wait’ right now keep praying…

Some Answers

This past week I received several answers from friends that were extremely encouraging. Some were simple “the situation went well” emails but it was so nice to be in the loop instead of still wondering.

I have been praying for one friend who has a very serious medical condition for several weeks. I received multiple email updates as the situation changed and even when it didn’t change. Then yesterday I got an email sharing that amazing recovery had occurred. The doctors described it as “atypical.” One doctor said,

Keep having your congregation and your friends pray, because those prayers are working. [my friend’s] response is unbelievable, and even though I prescribed some medicine, there’s something bigger at work here, and I know that.

In this case the answer was “miraculous healing” which is cool. Although that’s not always the case. I believe all the answers to prayer, even “no” and “wait” are in fact miracles even if they don’t seem that way to us. I love to hear back from people either way.

For those who have been praying over my job search

  • Praise God my voice is improving every day. Pray for healing, my throat is sore from doing some vocal exercises wrong. I think I have it figured out now.
  • Praise God there’s been some exciting developments in my search. Although I’m still in talks and haven’t received a definite “this is the the right place” just yet. I’m still sending out resumes.
  • Thank God for all the awesome people who have been helping me out by pointing churches to my website.

How about you?

Do you like hearing answers to prayer?

Packing Light GTD

Right now I’m at the library working on updating my resume and writing some blog posts.

Getting things done from home was becoming difficult. I kept distracting Sarah and Evie from school and they kept distracting me from my tasks. (What can I say? My girls are simply beautiful and I love spending time with them.) So today I hit up the library for some quiet time and to give the girls some space.

As I walked out the door felt this amazing sensation that comes from not needing to take anything with me. I keep everything online:

It was so freeing not to lug around a ton of junk. I used to be anchored to my laptop, but now I can work from any computer. I am almost completely severed from using a Palm or Microsoft Word. I keep a small notebook in my pocket and keep everything else online.

Now if only I could fit my camera in my pocket

Top 5 Reasons I Should be Your Worship Pastor

Are you part of a Church looking for a worship/creative arts staff member?

Here are the Top 5 Reasons I should be on your team:

1. I am a worshiper.

I often tell worship teams I lead, “The most compelling credential you have that allows you on stage is your relationship with the Father.” I hold the same standard for myself. Everything else is secondary to living worshipfully. Any “leading” I do in a corporate setting is really just a side effect of the fact that God is intricately involved in my life everyday.

2. God has called me to worship ministry.

No amount of skill, talent, money or resources is going to make me effective without God’s call. God has placed a powerful call to worship/creative arts ministry on my life.

3. My wife is loved.

I know how to love the Church because I know how to love my wife. I’ll let Sarah speak on this one. See some posts on her blog: Awake, Just One More, Love Song for Billy, HOT!

4. My daughter is obedient.

For 5 years Sarah did amazing job of raising Eve-Marie as a single mom. Over the last two years I’ve had the joy of parenting together with her. I love my girls like crazy and I manage my family well in accordance with 1 Timothy 3:4-5. You can take a look at what fatherhood means to me.

5. I am a learner.

Because “disciple”means learner, I equate following Jesus with life change. God is working on me in a radical way. Because of God’s love I’m not the same as I was yesterday. Apart from the Bible, prayer, fasting, fellowship, and personal and corporate worship, God tends to use books, blogs, magazines and experiences to change me.

If these are qualities you are seeking in a staff member please visit my resume page for more information.

Evansville College Music Fridays

This afternoon Sarah and I stopped into the Briar & Bean. After buying a small Decaf French Vanilla and a medium Daily Dark Roast we parked ourselves on the couch. We were pretty engrossed in conversation when two girls walked in carrying a Telecaster and some sound gear. We asked them, “Are you doing some live music tonight?”

Ellen, the one with the guitar, informed us that she was playing at 6pm with her friend Kara.

We drove back later in the evening to find a small crowd of college kids enjoying Ellen signing a simple, heartfelt rendition of Ani Difranco’s “32 Flavors.” We manned the couch again and listened to the girls go on to play some of their own original music. They fumbled through the songs a bit and didn’t have a predetermined set list, but I always think coffeehouse shows are a little more laid back. Both girls had beautiful voices that made the trip back to the Briar & Bean worth it.

Recently Sarah has been hinting that she’d like to play some shows with me. I’ve kinda put this on the back burner, but watching this duo ignited something that made me want to play live again.

During intermission we introduced ourselves to the girls. I told them that we enjoyed the show and that I’d be writing this blog post about them. Ellen jotted down Kara’s myspace address on some notebook paper so I could check out more of her music. She also told me they play every Friday night at the Briar & Bean.

If you live in town and find yourself in the mood for some bluesy folk rock, go check these girls out.

The show was free so on the way out Sarah dropped a couple dollars in an over-sized coffee cup marked “tips.” When we got home we started to figure out the harmonies for So Long Sweet Summer.

Thanks for the inspiration, girls.

Maybe you’ll find us playing a gig soon as well.


 

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