Archive for the 'Life to the fullest' Category

The Power of Five

On October 7, 2003 in the thriving metropolis of Kendallville, IN (yeah, I said it!), I thought I was seeing my favorite band for the last time.  My love for Five Iron Frenzy started in 1997, when I was a freshman in high school.  I frequently made trips to the local Christian book store to check out new music.  On one occasion I happened upon Upbeats & Beatdowns, which I loved immediately.  If my memory is correct, I got the album in my Easter basket that year and listened to it too loud while getting ready for church.  After that, I bought every album, went to shows when I could, bought a lot of their t-shirts (I think 3 of them made it to my t-shirt quilt), and sang their songs loudly at parties.  One of my favorite FIF memories is when in high school my girlfriend (wife now!) and I drove two hours to Louisville to see Five Iron at Champ’s Roller Dome for the Holy Roller Tour.  It was a school night and we got back super late, but man it was so much fun! Thanks mom and dad and mom jr. and dad jr. (my in-laws) for letting us go.  Still can’t believe they let that happen.

But last night, on March 23, 2013, almost 10 years later, I got to see Five Iron Frenzy again! On Nov. 22, 2011, 8 years after their last concert, they announced a project on Kickstarter to raise money for a new, independently produced, album.  They had a goal of $30,000 in 60 days.  They reached that in 55 minutes.  Within a week they had raised $150,000 according to Relevant magazine.  $207,980 was raised by the time the 60 days was up.  So what’s the deal?  Why Five Iron Frenzy?  What draws people to give money like that to see some band that’s been gone for eight years?  What makes me get on a plane from Evansville, IN to fly down to see them, besides the fact I would be hanging out with my old roommate Dave Haller? Plus it’s a Christian ska band.  If you’re a middle school or high school student reading this blog, you probably have no idea what ska is! And if you do know what ska is, you might be glad it’s gone.

Five Iron Frenzy show in Orlando!

But here’s what I think it is.  Integrity and Authenticity.  First off, Five Iron Frenzy, and especially lead singer Reese Roper, is goofy. They do silly dances, they took medical questions from the audience, and they make fun of themselves.  Reese has always said he’s not a rock star, just a normal guy who happens to sing and have a band.  He won’t sign autographs, at least not his own name.  He does this humbly, not some I’m-so-cool-I-don’t-sign-things mentality.  And last night a kid who probably wasn’t even born when FIF played their final(?) show, asked for an autograph.  Reese signed it, but he signed it Justin Beiber.  Five Iron also never does encores.  They say encores are for rock stars and that’s not what they are.  Even with the crowd chanting loudly for another song, the drummer came out and said, “We never have, and probably never will do encores.”

But the most striking thing from the evening was when Reese broke down and cried during their final song, Every New Day.  It wasn’t some thing for show, he just got choked up, then he bent down on the stage and cried.  That song is a powerful song and if you’ve never heard it, you should go listen to it.  They end almost every show with that song and it was an awesome moment of worship.  My friend Dave Haller (who I largely became friends with due to our common bond of FIF), and I debated the breakdown.  Dave said it had been almost 10 years since the last time they were doing this.  People change a lot in 10 years.  I hadn’t even graduated college the last time I heard that song live.  I’m now married, a dad, a homeowner, and a youth pastor.  That song talks about how we can lose our direction, but how God is always there with grace and makes every day seem so new.  And it was in that moment that I realized something about Reese Roper.  It was never about the band, or the music, or the incredible fans.  It was and still is about seeing Christ be made known in those that don’t know Him.  We all need that reminder that God is always with us no matter the circumstances, no matter when or how far we stray, He is there.  Reese is just a normal guy, with an incredibly deep faith, and he will do whatever it takes to make sure people know who Jesus Christ is.  May we do the same with our own lives, with the same passion, intensity, integrity, and honesty that Five Iron Frenzy has brought to us these past 15 years.

Every New Day by Five Iron Frenzy

When I was young, the smallest trick of light,
Could catch my eye,
Then life was new and every new day,
I thought that I could fly.
I believed in what I hoped for,
And I hoped in things unseen,
I had wings and dreams could soar,
I just don’t feel like flying anymore.
When the stars threw down their spears,
Watered Heaven with their tears,
Before words were spoken,
Before eternity.

Dear Father, I need you,
Your strength my heart to mend.
I want to fly higher,
Every new day again.

When I was small, the furthest I could reach,
Was not so high,
Then I thought the world was so much smaller,
Feeling I could fly.
Through distant deeps and skies,
Behind infinity,
Below the face of Heaven,
He stoops to create me.

Dear Father, I need you,
Your strength my heart to mend.
I want to fly higher,
Every new day again.

Man versus himself.
Man versus machine.
Man versus the world.
Mankind versus me.
The struggles go on,
The wisdom I lack,
The burdens keep piling
Up on my back.
So hard to breathe,
To take the next step.
The mountain is high,
I wait in the depths.
Yearning for grace,
And hoping for peace.
Dear God…
Increase.
Healing hands of God have mercy on our unclean souls once again.
Jesus Christ, light of the world burning bright within our hearts forever.
Freedom means love without condition,
Without a beginning or an end.
Here’s my heart, let it be forever Your’s,
Only You can make every new day seem so new.

Managing the Tension

A few years ago, Andy Stanley gave a talk about managing tension.  Basically he said that every church, organization, and life has tension.  As it pertains to the church world, the tension can be about a number of things: younger generation vs. older, music styles, seeker sensitive vs. deepening the believer, etc.  He said that the problem is when you focus on one area, another gets neglected and the people in that area feel undervalued.  He said it was our job as leaders to manage the tension.

For the past two years at Bethel, the tension shifted from outreach to strengthening our core.  Now this doesn’t mean we stopped telling people about Jesus or stopped doing outreaches, but it meant we were less intentional about those things.  The shift happened when a core of our staff and congregation took a vision God had given them and planted the One Life Network.  So out of necessity the tension that had been about the outward focus snapped back and became inward.

We started by focusing on the church debt.  We knew if we paid that off, we’d have the opportunity to do more things.  Chuck Elliott and Keith Robinson joined our staff as the high school pastor and young adult/teaching pastor respectively.  Over the last two years it’s felt a little bit like those cartoons where the dam starts leaking and when they plug the hole with their finger, another leak springs.  By the end of the bit, the character has fingers, toes, elbows, and nose blocking holes.  A lot of what we’ve had to do as a staff is plug holes.  It was overwhelming at times, but God has brought us through.

Today we launched Project: Connection.  Effectively moving the tension back from focusing on ourselves to focusing outward.  With that will come some battles, but the feeling I got from people after church was, “We have to do this!” Project: Connection is about building Bethel strong so we can connect with people who come in our building, but also empowering our congregation to start reaching out in their community, neighborhoods, and to the ends of the earth.  Today was a great Sunday and people are ready.

Managing tension is never easy because it involves change and probably means someone isn’t going to get their way.  But in the words of Reggie Joiner, “When you change, something has to die, and someone gets angry.”  These last two years have been good, but I’m really looking forward to going for great.

Lord, as we plan these next few years, we submit them to You.  You’ve taken us here and put this on our hearts, so carry us through.  We’ve already seen from today that there will be attacks from the enemy.  May we never forget that You can take care of all that.  You are God and You’re in control.  We trust you with these things Jesus.  Take over.  Give us wisdom in how to manage this tension in a way that will exponentially increase Your Kingdom.  Amen.