Monday, April 30, 2007

Monday Top 10 List

I've seen these before, but it was a good laugh before bedtime:


1. “I can’t break the laws of physics just so you can have more vocal in your monitor. I didn’t invent the laws, I just live by them. You might see if God will change them for you.
2. “If you had spent the last fifteen minutes tuning your guitar instead of fixing your hair, we wouldn’t be late starting soundcheck.”
3. “No, there isn’t a ‘muddy knob’ I can turn down to make it sound better.”
4. “Instead of using another mic for your voice, why don’t we use another voice for your mic?”
5. “Sure, I’ll run all the way down the stairs, across the auditorium and up to the stage to move your monitor three inches. After all, we wouldn’t want you to break a nail by doing it yourself.”
6. “Oh, never mind me. I didn’t want anything from Starbucks. I’ve only been here by myself for the last three hours setting all this up for you.”
7. “No, if you ask me to turn all the house lights down, I can’t make it so you can see the audience’s reaction during the songs.”
8. “No, the camera doesn’t add ten pounds to your face. You did that by yourself.”
9. “There is not a knob to make it sound more round, more blue, or any other shape or color.”
10. “Tell you what: you don’t tell me how to mix and I won’t tell you how to play – deal?”


Emilee and I watched Freaky Friday today - twice. Not the old school version with Jodie Foster, but the 2003 Disney remake. I had forgotten how much fun this movie is! It also brought up some of the classic communication issues that parents and teens struggle with - but in a very humorous way. Does anyone else see a bit of themselves in the movie?

I love how the actors portray each other in the "switched" bodies. They do such an amazing job with the body language, expressions, etc. I started wondering what it would be like to switch bodies for a day. If you had that opportunity...who would you want to switch bodies with?

The Emerging Battle

I had the opportunity last week to attend a one-day seminar by Reggie McNeal that was sponsored by the Missouri Baptist Convention. Reggie is an incredible speaker, full of energy and humor, and his thoughts on the "missional church" were right on target. He is not, by any means, an advocate of "traditional methods" of reaching lost people. That is one reason I was very surprised that the MBC would bring him in as a sponsored speaker. Nevertheless, the day was delightful, full of interesting conversation, and an incredible asset to all those who attended.

Now I read today some disturbing thoughts coming from several news reports. I had hoped that the executive committee had "turned the corner" and were open to conversations on how to reach more people through a missional mindset. Now don't hear what I'm not saying. I'm not advocating that every new idea (if there is such a critter) is a good one, nor am I saying that the MBC should adopt or even consider changing some of the foundational biblical ideology that pervades the organization. Most of us would certainly agree on the "non-negotiables."

What's this all about you ask? There has been a growing conversation about the relationship between the SBC and the "emerging church" movement. We could argue forever about the meaning of the word emerging, but the fact is, it's out there and we can't ignore it.

Start with this article from the SBC Pathway for some background. Then you can go to Dr. Mark DeVine's blog and read his thoughts on the subject and his response to the SBC. I'll let you draw your own conclusions, but if you'd like my thoughts, feel free to email me.

I would like to suggest however, that we drop the political rhetoric and focus on what Jesus called us to do in the first place - love people. Loving people doesn't mean isolating ourselves from those not like us. It also doesn't mean frolicking along the path with anyone or anything that suits or fancy. It's all about balance. Developing relationships with others while not sacrificing our values.

Change is inevitable (I'm not advocating that all change is good). We can embrace the future or hide from it. We can be barbarians or monks. We can find a way to work together or we can become isolationists. The world can be for us or against us (or heaven forbid we work together!), the glass half full or half empty. So many times it's a matter of perspective. Where do you stand?

Friday, April 27, 2007

It's Time to Edit!

One of the most important aspects of printed material (and one most often overlooked!) is the editing process. I am a stickler for details, and nothing drives me nuts more than a poorly edited printed piece. Of course, I have seen some very FUNNY printed pieces (i.e. the Dumpling Pot turned into the Dumping Pot!) as well. We do our very best to catch every single typo, misspelled word, out of place graphic, mis-aligned text box, etc, but our team does make mistakes from time to time.

Here are some great thoughts on editing from graphic designer Ryan Hollingsworth:

• Begin by taking a break and allow yourself some time between designing and proofing. Get up and walk away from your computer screen or work on another project. Come back to it when you have a fresh set of eyes and a clear head.
• Print out the piece. Errors are easier to catch and easier to highlight when its on paper.
• Look for left-out words by reading the piece out loud, focusing on every word as you read. Don’t let your eye move ahead until you spot each word. Also make sure you don’t have duplicates of any words.
• Develop an assigned group of detailed proof-readers (2-3) who look over everything that goes out.
• To minimize spelling errors, look at each word in the piece individually. Move from the end of each line back to the beginning to prevent skimming.
• Assign or accept the responsibility of being the “last set of eyes” that sees a piece before it is sent out the door. This develops accountability and responsibility if errors are found.
• Hopefully these tips will save you some sleepless nights waiting for your brochure to come back from the printer, only to find out that ushers will not seat latecomers, but instead eat them.

Dreams, Designs & Developers

In a follow up to yesterday's post, I want to give props to three people who have been helping me with our graphic design. These guys are very talented in their own right, and have contributed a great deal to our creative team.

(1) Joe Clauser. Joe was on staff at Meadow Heights Church for approximately 7 years (did I get that right Joe?), but also served as a volunteer long before that time. Joe created most of our early graphics, and when I came on staff he really helped ease my transition to the team. I appreciate his dedication and effort in all tasks that he undertakes - he is a definite workhorse!

(2) Stephen Emlund. Stephen is a former student of mine and a pretty darn good saxophone player! He has been attending Truman University and studying graphic design and development in several other areas as well. His skill level has grown tremendously in just the past two years!! Stephen is a class act, and his designs are quickly catching the eyes of many developers.

(3) Tim Smith. Tim is the owner/operator of Unique Ink in Fredericktown. I've only known Tim for the past few years, but let me just say up front - you won't find a better guy to work with! He has some incredible designs - very creative, unique (thus the name!) and eye-catching. Not only does he have a great graphic sense and style, but he is also an accomplished bass player and singer. Quite the talented guy!

Behind every creative concept are the artist who turn dreams into reality. I appreciate each of these guys and the talents they bring to the picture. Here's to dreaming with you!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sermon Branding

I am going to shift the content of this blog over the course of several posts during the next few weeks as I focus on a few more of the practical aspects of my role at Meadow Heights Church. I will be talking about more of the practical applications I have experienced over the past few years. I will also be interviewing several folks in the near future who will bring additional insights to the realm of creative arts.

I want to start however with some thoughts from Mark Batterson. Mark describes the process his team goes through with a concept he calls "sermon branding." Mark is the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C. and someone I have referenced on this blog quite often. I love his writing, and his book "In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day" is a must read.

Sermon branding is very similar to the process we go through with the programming of a new message series. Here are the main categories Mark's team goes through:

Seven Steps to Sermon Branding:

#1 Come up with a series title
#2 Create a series logo
#3 Design a series evite and invite
#4 Brainstorm Big Ideas
#5 Shoot a Series Trailer
#6 Design a microsite
#7 Add Sermon Props

Let me comment on how we approach the topics above...

We do pretty well developing a series title. We will look at several message series from other churches and then combine the best ideas with many of our own. Then we'll brainstorm a title that is creative, compelling and captures the attention of the audience.

We'll then create a series logo. Again, we use a lot of graphics from other churches, but we also use Photoshop to create our own stuff, often times with stock photos. We'll then take those images and create our e-vite on We'll also create some invite cards for folks to hand out to their friends.

Our brainstorming process usually happens much sooner than number 4. A lot of our creative energy is captured in a weekly programming meeting, and then we'll take those ideas and blend them together to create the branding for a series. Brainstorming big ideas is a huge part of our strategy.

Number five is definitely something we see ourselves producing in the near future. We try to come up with a series opener, but I really see us moving this area forward with more creative opening videos and "teaser" videos to promote upcoming series.

Designing a micro site is a very cool thing to do. We tried this for the first time with the "Larger Than Life Blog." We had nearly 1000 people over the course of three weeks take a look at our blog. It was interactive and a great place for folks to share their stories and experiences. This is definitely something we'll be doing again in the very near future.

Last, but certainly not least, are message props. We are definitely in favor of using props or visual illustrations. This can be done live or via video for effectiveness. Different types of people learn via different methods, and church should not be the exception to this rule. We love to teach by using all types of learning styles - from visual to aural to practical applications, this is a huge strength of our teaching team.

I'll spend time in a future post describing a typical week, not just on the branding front, but an in depth look at the processes we go through when developing all aspects of the weekend. Until then!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The guys at Passion have dedicated this site to those who died during the Virginia Tech tragedy. They have five songs that you can download for free including "On Christ the Solid Rock," "You Never Let Go," "Come For Me," "Rescue Is Coming," and "Amazing Grace."

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hair Today...Gone Tomorrow!

Beauty School Dropout?

It was an interesting morning around the Goldsmith house today. I think every family goes through the "cut my own hair" child syndrome. Our family has been no exception. Kayla cut her hair when she was little, but fortunately just the front part of her bangs. I don't recall if Seth every cut his hair - boys don't get into that as much.

And then today...I was cleaning the house up a bit when Emilee popped downstairs and peeked around the corner. I knew right then that something was up. She was supposed to be playing in her room - yeah right. I didn't realize anything was wrong until I went into her bedroom and found piles of hair. I quickly whirled her around and to my shock and horror, Emilee had cut the very back of her hair. Not just a little trim, but the whole middle section was cut all the way up to the center of her head! I have no idea how she cut only the back side, but she must have some power over the small set of scissors she used for the deed.

Thankfully Mary Jo, a good friend of ours, is a beautician and she opened up her shop on her day off and came to our rescue. A HUGE thanks to Mary Jo - you are our hero!!

Of course after all was said and done, it's kind of a funny story. But don't tell Emilee that. We're still holding it over her head (pun intended!) for a little while. Enjoy the pics!

From the Weird and Wacky Files

Sheryl Crow is getting lots of attention for comments she has posted on her blog. She suggests that to help with the "so-called" global warming and to protect the consumption of oxygen, that each of us should do our duty (pun intended) by using only one square of toilet paper per visit. Does anyone really know how much toilet paper we can make from one tree?

The environmentalist wackos continue to spread the propaganda...resistance is futile...we are the Gore's book..........................................

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Ole' Tire Swing

For those of you who heard about the Fredericktown haunted "tire swing" during our gatherings this weekend, here are the specifics:
old Fredericktown rd off of oo hwy.

If you drive about a half mile down this gravel road and look off into the woods on the right side, you can see where there is a cleared off place in the woods and an old tire swing hanging from a tree. It is said that an old man and his daughter lived there many years ago until she was ran over by a train (the tire swing was hers.) If you stop in front of this spot at midnight and turn off your engine and headlights, weird things will happen. There have been reports of windows fogging up, cars not restarting, and the faint sound of a little girl laughing along with the sound of a train.
If anyone has been there or would like to go and give a report, please email me upon your return...if you return!

Whose in (gun) control?

My good friend Steve Marchbank has some great thoughts on "gun control" and the recent shootings at Virginia Tech and the NASA incident. Give it a read and then ask yourself, "Where do YOU stand on gun control?"

More Than I Can Handle? You Bet!

One of the best and worst things about working for a church is the amount of people you get to know. This can be said about any large organization, but with the church you tend to develop deeper and more authentic relationships. As I said, this is both good and bad - good because watching people grow in their relationship with God and others is an awesome thing to experience. Bad, because we live in an imperfect world where people experience the difficult circumstances of life.

We seem to be facing the latter during the past few weeks. We talked tonight about how things have been quite challenging since we entered and exited the 21 Day Challenge of prayer and fasting. Bryan taught about this concept again tonight - the myth that God won't give you more than you can handle. It was an awesome message, and I know many people were given some peace and comfort from God tonight. The truth is, God will give you more than you can handle because He wants us to learn to trust Him - not rely on our own capacity to deal with the junk in our life.

One of our own staff, Jeremiah Dietiker has been facing his own challenges lately. He's had a bout of pneumonia the past three weeks, then the doctors thought he had the flu, and now he's spending the night at Parkland hospital as they try to find out why he has been running a fever for the past 24 days or so and why he is having severe abdominal pains. So much pain that a guy who laughs at the every word has needed a morphine drip. Is God giving Jeremiah more than he can handle? In a word? Yes. But that's why Jeremiah has an incredible wife, an awesome church family, and some of the best friends in the world. He doesn't have to deal with everything by himself. Keep praying for him and Heather.

Does God give us more than we can handle? Absolutely. But He is also a loving Father who will help us pull through and conquer anything that He wants to overcome. God can work through anything and anybody if we'll just get out of the way and let Him. God's best is yet to come!

"Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner. So if you find life difficult because you're doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust him. He knows what he's doing, and he'll keep on doing it."
1 Peter 4:12,13,19 (MsgB)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It Is Finished!

It is finished! Those are some immortal words...but now I get to share them as well. After nearly two years, I have finally finished my very first reading of the Bible. Now this may sound like an easy feat, but my first Bible (given to me by my friend Derrick) was quite a challenge to get through.

When I first started asking questions about God, I had many pages of notes and thoughts. I love the fact that God is not afraid of our questions. Anyway, I had thought that I needed to be reading the New King James Version of the Bible. There is certainly no issue with reading this translation, but I can now say that I probably would not have started with this translation (for the record, I'd probably have started with the NIV). Not only is this a NKJV, but it is a John MacArthur study Bible. I loved reading this version because MacArthur provides detailed notes and explanation on most passages. While I did not agree with every single commentary, his explanation of certain passages (especially historical background) were invaluable. This did however, lead to a major increase in the time needed to completely digest this version of the Bible.

But I AM FINISHED!! Finished with this translation, but eager to start the next stage of my journey. I am very interested in Greek and Hebrew, and I would like to start looking into at least one of these two languages and doing some translations of certain passages myself. If anyone has any recommended resources, please email me or leave a comment. I look forward to the new path ahead!!

Tragic Events

Some terrible tragedies in the past few days. Of course everyone has heard about the shootings at Virginia Tech - a horrible event in the history of humankind. Tim Stevens (Granger Community Church) shares some poignant thoughts here.

There's another tragedy that has struck an everyday church in an everyday town just west of here. Our friends at Westside Community Church in Lenexa, Kansas will be going through some tough times ahead. Please be in prayer for their church and the people involved. Tony Morgan (NewSpring Church) has some great thoughts here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Who (needs to) Let the Gunk Out?

If you're like me, sometimes you struggle with life. The less important stuff seems to edge out the real priorities in your life. If this describes any part of you, don't miss this post from Tony Morgan on how to "Stop Gunky Build Up." It's a must read!! And I love his closing thought:

"Don't delay. And, don't let yourself get in a funk because you're unwilling to deal with your gunk."

Your Future Awaits

Are you running from something or towards something? Let me explain...

Many of us go through the motions of every day life - most out of necessity, many due to "busyness," and still others because they have given in to the mundane. Still others are running "from" something in their life:
  • We work feverishly because we are running from a debt-ridden lifestyle
  • We become isolationists - living life vicariously through the internet because we are running from true and authentic relationships
  • We let our kids do whatever they want to because we are running from our responsibilities as a parent
  • We ignore our spouse because we are running from an intimate and loving relationship
  • We selfishly cover ourselves in sin because we are running from a life-changing relationship with God
When you are running from something, you tend to keep looking behind you. It slows you down, it keeps your mind preoccupied, and life passes in an instant.

On the other hand, when you are running towards something, everything changes:
  • You have focus - a goal in mind
  • You develop expectations - you're expecting to arrive somewhere
  • You're looking forward - the path is in front of you
  • You develop vision - you have a mission and a preferred method of getting there
Do you tend to run from something or towards something?

Many people learn from the past. I want to challenge you to learn by dreaming about the future. Sure it's great to evaluate the past, especially to evaluate mistakes and to learn from them. But something extraordinary happens when you learn by imagining a preferred future. Leaders have done this for decades. Where are you now, and where do you want to be in the future. Then develop a plan on how to get there.

Of course, that was God's plan all along. From Moses in the Old Testament to Jesus in the New Testament - God was delivering us - not from something, but towards Him. He knows our best path in life, but so many times we are running from something instead of running to Him.

What's your dream? Or more importantly, what's God's dream for you? Embrace it. Run towards it. Don't look back; keep moving forward. Your future awaits.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Moment's Notice

I'm having a quiet few hours to myself tonight. I'm in St. Louis to be one of many judges for one of the middle school/junior high music festivals. Yeah...eight straight hours of saxophones. What more could a person want?

It's been a crazy week. It took a full day (and more) just to recover from our Easter gatherings at our local high school. Then I was asked to officiate the funeral of the mother of my good friend John. I've never officiated a funeral before, but I need to say that it was truly an honor to be able to do this for the family. It was an experience I'll never forget. In the same day (and only thirty miles away) my father-in-law was having heart surgery. Quite the hectic day!

So I'm taking a moment to catch my breath, read a few blogs, watch Survivor online, and contemplate life in a moment's notice.

Thanks Mel, for helping to hold me together this week. You walked with my heart in your hands and brought great comfort to my restless soul. You are truly my warrior princess!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Terry Storch

If you haven't been following Terry Storch's new blog, don't miss it. Terry has some unbelievable ideas about technology - specifically tech in the church.

You can also preview's new website (they'll be launching in about a week):

Prayers and Thoughts

I'm still here. Lots of stuff going on this week. My prayers go out to John Howser and his family on the passing of his mother, Mickey. I will be attending the funeral tomorrow, so I'll be checked out of Bucketology for another day.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday Prayer

Greg Atkinson points us to a prayer sent out by Highway Video - a perfect prayer for all of us working so diligently to prepare for what God wants to do this weekend:

Father, quiet our hearts and still our souls.
We have done our best to prepare for this weekend.
We ask now that you do what only you can do.
Prepare the hearts of those that you have called to hear your message.
Remove anything that might distract them or keep them away.
Pour your Spirit out on our time of worship together.
Speak through what we have prepared.
Make any changes you deem necessary.
Help us to worship in Spirit and Truth.
Accomplish all that you have in mind this weekend.
We place our efforts before you now and leave them at your throne.
Only You can change lives.
Grant us the joy of seeing your hand at work.
All this we pray humbly in the name of your son Jesus,
whose death we remember with reverence,
and whose resurrection we celebrate with joy.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sanjaya or Bust?

For those of you who may be interested, Chris Sligh (former American Idol contestant) has a blog where he talks about his experiences and gives his insights on the current competition. You can also check out his band while you're there.

I'll go on record by stating that Sanjaya will NOT win American Idol. I've heard all the rumors, the speculation, the "vote for the worst" sites, etc. Sanjaya is only on the show at this point because the votes are still too spread out. Mark my words, Sanjaya will only be around for two more weeks. Next week I look for Phil to get the boot - not because he isn't a good vocalist - but he doesn't have a great public draw. The judges don't have too many kind words for him either.

Once the votes aren't as spread out, Sanjaya will go home. It probably won't be next week, but the week after...look out. It will be his time to go and America will celebrate. It will also depend on what type of outfit Haley comes up with in the next few weeks (thus the fitting title, "Sanjaya or Bust"). Once Haley and Sanjaya are gone, at that point that the competition will get intense. It will suddenly become a very real contest. There's no doubt that Melinda is the best vocalist, but her sheepish smile and occasional shoulder shrug have really started to turn me off.

Best performer and entertainer? Blake Lewis.

What will the future hold? Only America knows, but I see a Blake vs. Melinda showdown in the near future. But until then, it's Sanjaya or Bust.

It's A Bit Complicated...

I love this post by Mark Batterson.

Life is full of complications. This week is full of complications. But God complicates our lives to give us more blessings. Quite a different way to look at it. Are you a glass "half full" or a glass "half empty" kind of person?
I have a theology of complications. Sin complicates your life in negative ways. God complicates your life in positive ways. I believe that complications are part of God's blessing. Remember the parable of the talents? The reward for good work was more work. In other words, God complicates our lives! And it's a blessing.
~ Mark Batterson

Monday, April 02, 2007

Three Peat Baby!!

It's official. I have made an incredible comeback, and now stand as the "2007 Meadow Heights Office Staff NCAA Tourney Pool Champion!!" The THREE-PEAT has arrived! It was a tough haul this year, and Debbie gave it a great run, but in the end it came down to the final score of tonight's championship game. Thankfully it was a high scoring game which sealed the deal. Congrats to the Florida Gators!

It is such a busy week. A lot on my brain right now, and much to blog about. Unfortunately it will probably have to wait. In the event I have a few spare moments, I'll be sharing some thoughts that have been invading my brain cells the past few weeks. Stay tuned!