About Me

Christ follower, husband, father, minister, musician.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It’s been 3 months since my last blog.

No, this is not a confession. It’s a reality.  It’s been 3 months since my last blog and that’s ok.

So what’s been going on?  Well, first, my son Haden was born in June!  That’s about all you need to know, really.  It’s been an amazing adventure navigating the early twists and turns of parenting two kids.  The latest curve has brought us to the shores of Preschool.  Reese started today.  Between now and then we’ve figured out how to sleep, eat, play, and function in our new reality.

Haden has incredible eyes.  Nicole and I have been trying to figure out what the color is/will be.  Infants are born with this grey-blue eye color that eventually settles into their true color by six months.  Our daughter Reese’s eyes were a rich tootsie-roll brown from week 2.  But Haden’s been holding on to this blue tint for a while.  His uncle and grandma both have blue or hazel eyes, so it’s quite possible that he won’t have the chocolate eyes that the rest of us have.  And that’s awesome. 

But the color is not the most fascinating thing about his eyes.  Haden has those saucer-big, observe-the-whole-world, never-blink eyes.  At first we were wondering if he’d ever make eye contact with us.  (Don’t worry, he does.) He looks at colors, shapes, textures; he soaks everything in.

The only time his eyes soften is when he sees you.  He locks his eyes on you and slowly the corners begin to squint as simultaneously he gives us the biggest gummy grin you’ve ever seen. He’s a happy baby.  He’s almost laughing.

Exploring life for Haden brings him pure Joy.  It’s a blessing to experience the world through his eyes. It makes me think…

…If I didn’t move, talk, or worry, how much joy could I find in what’s all around me?
…If I slowed down to look, what detail would I be able to appreciate?
…If I smiled at everything that I found pleasure in, how many smiles would I get back?
…am I missing out on something here?

The past few months I’ve been thinking/praying/conversing about how to better experience/ retell/ relate to God’s STORY.  I think it starts with being STILL. Before we can say anything, we need to take it in – to SEE it, hear it, smell it, taste it, feel it.

Psalm 34:8 (NIV)
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”
Psalm 46:10a (NASB)
10 “Cease striving and know that I am God.”

It starts with Stopping. How do you take refuge if you keep going?  How do you cease striving if you aren't still?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Haden and the New Chapter at the Chilcotes

It's been a few days since my last post.  I've been a bit busy.  My son, my boy, my 2nd born came into my life on June 11th, 2011 at 1:04pm. Here is a recap of the timeline:

  • Went to Nicole's Dr. on Friday June 10th. The baby was still breech, like Reese was, so we scheduled a C-section for June 23rd.  Dr. Arbona joked that she was on call at the hospital for the weekend, so if Nicole wanted to go into labor, she'd be there. (hmm...)
  • Back Labor started early Saturday morning (2:30am) and I did all I could to help Nicole find some comfort. Couch, bed, shower, back to couch, bath, couch, shower, bed. We finally fell asleep around 6am. Reese got me up at 6:30. We called her Dr. at 7:30 when Nicole woke back up. By 9am we were heading to drop Reese off at a friends house and then on to the hospital.
  • In the triage room,
    Nicole was treated for dehydration and pain.  The initial diagnosis was a possible UTI.  But tests were negative. Nicole wasn't progressing while we were there, and contractions were barely showing up on the monitor.  They suggested "extreme late pregnancy discomfort," which I thought was LABOR.  
  • 11:30am Thank God Nicole's OB was on call! She came in and examined her, and overrode the in house medical staff. We were having the baby today. We just didn't know if it was going to be a Haden or a Hadley.
  • 11:45am I made calls and sent texts to parents, friends, and church volunteers. The baby was coming today.  I wouldn't be leading worship. Someone needs to watch Reese.  Everyone was ready to go!  Nicole took a nap, thanks to some pain meds.
  • 12:15pm they roll Nicole off to surgery prep and give me some nice duds.
    I hung around in the triage room for about 30 minutes until they came to get me.
  • About 12:50 they begin the first incision.  If you've not experienced a C-section, it's an fascinating procedure.   The medical staff was awesome.  The anesthesiologist gave me the nod when they were ready to deliver.  From a slot the size of a wallet, I see a leg come out.  Then they maneuver around and get the other leg from inside the mysterious magical billfold. "Did you see that?" the Dr. asks. "I think I did." Definitely a boy!
    After they got his hips out they began really working at getting his torso and shoulders out.  He was a big boy. Reese just popped out like a rabbit in a top hat.  Haden was more like uncorking a bottle.  But just like his sister, he had a nice scarf on - the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck a few times.  Probably due to his trying to head down and getting turned back upright. No worries, though!
  • 1:04pm 8lb 20oz Haden Philip was born!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

SHIMMER PART 2: "DISEQUILIBRATE & WORSHIP CURATION" - or two phrases you've probably never heard of...

Ian Cron - www.thomasclark.com
“A good book, good art always destabilizes [people’s] egos…it knocks them off their equilibrium. It bring them into a counter-imagined space…suddenly you’re caught off a little bit…it de-centers the self and helps us to acknowledge, and even enter in to, the chaos of our life and think about who we are and the ultimates of life…”
-       Ian Morgan Cron, http://vimeo.com/24286777

I think this is one of the big “shimmer” nuggets for me.

Many conversations at the Gathering revolved around the concepts of beauty, art, ritual, and mystery.  It was good to hear some of my personal curiosities articulated and clarified.  (Don’t you love those “YES, EXACTLY!” moments?)

As worship leaders we are challenged with the task (as seen by most) of “creating an experience” for others to attend.  We all know it’s beyond a concert or performance.  Yet the truth is, it rarely reaches the level of sacred.  But isn’t that what our gathering are supposed to be? Sacred?

A second tension we navigate is one of authenticity and manipulation.  We don’t want to affect people’s emotion and perspective simply by the music or setting.  I’ve always wanted to hopefully anticipate where God might be moving and add a soundtrack, lyrics & melody, to help articulate and express where we would be as a congregation.

There’s an entirely new conversation going on in the worship circles right now regarding “Worship Curation.”  Ever hear of it?  Probably not (Apparently Microsoft hasn’t either because “Curation” has a little red squiggly line underneath.)

"We are starting to see a shift away from a linear, programmed approach to leading worship towards a multi-layered, nonlinear approach where environment is valued as much as content.”
A Guidebook for Visual Worship, Stephen Proctor http://worshipvj.com/store/a-guidebook-for-visual-worship/

I’ve been taking my own steps on a journey to mine for the deeper gems available in our worship services.  Over time I’ve adopted the vision/mission/purpose of our Worship & Arts ministry:
            to create an ENVIRONMENT where
             people can ENCOUNTER God and
                              ENGAGE Him in worship.

I’ve always been leery of the word “create” because I’ve felt that God ultimately is creating the environment.  If we are the soul creators, then it will always feel superficial or forced. Maybe Co-create is a better phrase.  But I’m liking the word “Curate.”  It seems to be more true.

So getting back to the other word of this post, “disequilibrate.”

My SHIMMER came when I realized that part of curating the environment is making sure beauty and mystery are part of what is presented. While there is definitely a place during our gatherings for a 3-chord rocking worship song, there is also the necessity for music that is more appreciated than understood.  And by understood, I don’t mean that it is impossible to understand musically or technically.  But there is a mystery, a deep source of wonder at the foundation of the song.  This is the Soul of the Creator, the sacred heart beat that has been passed on to all of us who create in His Image.

We can choose songs that accentuate people’s emotions – often, that’s part of what we do. There’s an emotional, spiritual, psychological journey that we’re taking with them.  We have happy moments, pensive moments, times of reflection and times of revelation. Beyond that, I’m feeling led to find music that tells the story on multiple levels. Let the lyrics direct the mind and the music – the tempo, timbre, tonality, harmony – direct the heart, and the art and beauty direct the soul.  They all need to be there.  God’s Story is a mystery unfolding.  It centers us and disequilibrates us simultaneously.  It reminds us of the reality that we live in a now/not yet reality – a spiritual and mortal world – a Kingdom present and still yet to come.

Could music, our worship services, our time together help that mystery to resonate?  Could we create (or curate) moments that de-centers us while simultaneously draw our plum line to God’s center?

Before I event went to the Gathering, God began bringing me thoughts about how to more completely tell the Story.  Beyond music, what other forms of Art can be used?  What artists exist that are telling the Story?  And does it have to be ART that brings us into this mystery?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Gathering Reflections: Part 1 "Shimmer"

There are moments and events that are so harmonious, to deny the divine orchestration of God is impossible. Our Worship Mentor Gathering at Villa Rockledge was one of those times. Ask anyone of the 40 or so guests of the Pacific Edge Hotel during our time together and they’ll all share similar accounts:


Let me take a second to say that I truly am grateful to be invited and allowed to be a part of the Gathering. So many sages and servants that have and continue to shape the worship landscape – to be a part of this community is an honor.

We were all equally honored to spend time with Ian Morgan Cron, an author, artist, priest, musician, and now we can all say friend. Ian is gifted with a great amount of insight. He is also a gifted story teller. And while he would probably deny it, he has been given the ability to articulate shades of the Mystery that very few have seen. It is apparent that God preordained Ian’s temperament, talents, torments, and triumphs to amplify a testimony of grace and wonder. (Pick up his new book “Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and ME: A memoir…of sorts” to read about how he got from there to here.) What Ian shared with us, and what we all shared together, was a time of ministry, mystery, and majesty.

So much could be said about the few days in Laguna Beach. But I will try to focus in, as much as my ADHD will let me, on a few. (Everyone with ADHD should have blogs. If they are disciplined enough to proof-read…. Sorry tangent) So in the next few posts I’m going to attempt to work through some of the moments that continue to, for lack of a better word, haunt me.

There are phrases, nuggets, moments during our time together when something “shimmered” above the rest of the conversation, as Ian would put it. I’m certain many of us shared similar “shimmer” moments, where Truth or Mystery resonated a bit louder in our souls. It is a phrase or concept, an “aha” that is worth writing down, worth revisiting. Beyond that, it is worth pondering. Not necessarily to figure out and ingest, but just to let it rest, or to let us rest in it. If something “shimmered” it meant that it was worth slowing your pulse so you could experience the thought from every angle, like the 360° camera shots on the MATRIX. It is the seconds between when a symphony ends before the ovation begins, or the black screen between the closing scene and rolling credits of a film. It is weightlessness and gravitas, like when a rock lands on the ocean floor and impact sends sand and debris floating around…Wait for all of that to settle and that sort of describes the sensation.

I’m thinking that God wants us to experience these “shimmers” all the time. But our pace and priorities of life disallow it. When have you had the “shimmer” moments? I’m guessing it was during a retreat, a time of solitude, a vacation in the wonder of creation, or just a short moment of absolute clarity. But they are few and far between, at least for me. 

My first “Shimmer” was the fact that I don’t allow God to “shimmer” enough. Either my eyes aren’t open, or my mind is to closed, or my pulse is to quick. God wants my life to be rich, but right now I can hardly afford to pay attention. How about you? The truth is it only occurs at places like the Gathering, or a long walk in the woods (if I had a beach to stroll on...).  Let's face it, our days - our hours are packed to the max.  I'm sure this isn't what Jesus had in mind in John 10:10.  But the reality of life allows for few breaks.  Unless we plan for them. If we don't choose to stop, we won't.

So this will be a good place to stop for now. Next I’ll begin to actually unpack some of the content of the time on the beach. But for the next 4 minutes or so, stop and listen. Enjoy the rhythm of the waves, the pulse of the ocean, the beauty of the beach, the shimmering sunlight...I think you get the idea. Rest in wonder.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Grass and Shooting Stars

There are three mundane activities that I do that allow for contemplation and dreaming. One of them is mowing the grass. Since it rained every day in April, I’ve gotten some good time to think and ponder. Wednesday I was pushing through my backyard and God began to put in my mind some “What ifs” and “howabouts.” (Solitude and silence are great moments for God to do this.) Most of these realizations are resurfacing themes and ideas that I’ve heard in seasons past. They are not original. But for the first time I began to envision them as my own. And that’s when it starts getting wild and crazy. *Enter picture of Steve Martin in your head* *Now back at me*

I’ll let you in on the rabbit trails I went down later. For the moment let’s just stick with the reality that we don’t have breaks. We intentionally honor God through our intentions, but usually that’s the best we can do is intend. A year ago I heard a wise man talk about silence and being still enough to hear God. Most often we don’t, or at least I don't. But every once and a while I’m rich enough to pay attention and I hear something. Or I think something. Or I feel something. And it’s not from me.

And then I plan on making sure I get more time to be with God. And God LOLs. Or is it LsOL? Either way He knows that unless I have some built in time where I’m forced to stop and not listen or think about anything else, it’s just not going to happen. He’s pretty much right, and I hate that!

But intentions have been made. I will try once more. Because if I do get there and He is speaking, I want to hear. It’s like when I worked summers at a camp in the mountains of Western PA. We’d spend many nights sleeping under the uninhibited canopy of mountain sky counting satellites and watching for shooting stars. We were hoping to catch the BIG ONE in our view as it scratched the night sky. Usually, though, there were only little blips. “Oh, there’s one!” and you point to a place that no longer has any remnant of celestial activity. Someone next to you would reply “Saw it” even if they didn’t because no one wants to miss the magic. But every once and a while you’d hear “WHOOOAAA” and you may even sit up in your sleeping bag and wonder. Did that enter the atmosphere and crash into a hillside in India?

We were at camp for 10-12 weeks and each week we’d have a different set of campers. Sometimes they were 8, sometimes they were 18. But most of them had never seen a clear sky and never seen a shooting star. So I intentionally brought them up to sleep in the field and experience it. Everyone wants to see a shooting star.

Everyone wants to hear God’s voice. From the littlest thought of a hint of a whisper to the loudest clarification of His guidance and presence, we want to hear from Him. It’s in our bones.

I’m grateful for every chance to mow my lawn.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Weekend

Easter is always great.  Many say it's the epitome of what your church could be in the future.  The energy, the enthusiasm, the extra-full seats - it is exciting.  At our church we often comment that each week should be "Easter" because each week we celebrate a Risen Lord.  But still, Easter is Easter.  We step it up.  We make it special.  We add musicians, ushers, danishes, and ties. If we had a pipe organ, we'd pull out all the stops (google it).

And it should be.  Christians have a day NO ONE else has.  On Christmas we celebrate birth.  On Good Friday we celebrate the death of One for the life of ALL.  On Easter we celebrate victory over Death, Life Everlasting, and no other truth is greater than that.  It's not a hope, it's a guarantee.  It's not an "If/ then" it's a "because/then." There's no more to do.  There's nothing left to prove.  We just need to believe.  Believe.  Is it that hard? Yes.  Impossible? Not with God. A paradox? Sure.  Worth it? Absolutely. It's reasonable and beyond all reason.  It's simple and beyond comprehension.  It's the LOVE from He who Loves to those He Loves, the unlovable.  We don't deserve it, can't earn it, can't repay it.  So God gave it.  Amazing.

Check out Greg Bondurant's message from Easter.  http://bit.ly/kOumae
It's entitled "My Perspective" from the series "Back From The Dead."  The truth is, the Resurrection changes EVERYTHING, including our perspective.

And here's the opening song we shared to begin our Easter services.  It's not perfect, but it was a perfect way to begin the day.  We are all Poor and Powerless, and Jesus died for each of us.

WCC Easter 2011 Opening "All The Poor & Powerless" from John Chilcote on Vimeo.

The song is by Sons & Daughters (www.sonsanddaughtersmusic.com @sanddmusic) and the videos are by www.shiftworship.com and @chrisacheson

The greatest day in History.  Death is beaten, you have rescued me.  Sing it out: Jesus is alive!  Christ The Lord is Risen Today, Allelujah!