kyle lake 1972-2005

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Pastor Kyle Lake was electrocuted this morning when he reached for a microphone during a baptismal service at his church University Baptist Church. He is pictured here at left, with two members of his church staff, including his worship leader, David Crowder, at right.
Kyle leaves behind his wife Jennifer, a 5 year old daughter, and twin 3 year old sons.

Pray for the Lake family during this difficult time.
Pray for the University Baptist Church family.

Kyle Lake was a talented writer, a forward thinker, and a kindred spirit. He will be missed.

CLICK HERE for the coverage at CNN
CLICK HERE for Pastor Kyle's comments when he last visited culture driven life


happy birthday to malachi!!!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Malachi is TWO years old today!!! Happy Birthday Son! I love you!!!

CLICK HERE to see how he celebrated


i'm a published photographer

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Relevant Magazine was doing a story on the relief effort following Hurricane Katrina and they used one of the pictures I took in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for the Pulitzer Prize Photo Committee to call me up.
Should be any day now.


all saints day

Remembering the martyred and the persecuted.

If you will be in Northern California this Friday come be a part of this alternative worship experience.

CLICK HERE for gathering time, and directions

CLICK HERE to view past worship experiences


my reasonable service

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Katie recently returned from her trip to New Orleans with a team from UGO4GOD. That's her in the back row, in the middle... no, not the one with the mustache, the cute one. One of her teammates, Gina, posted her diary, and some pictures from the trip.

CLICK HERE to go to "Not Only Here"


art apart from the artist

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

“self portrait, 1889” Vincent Van Gogh

I got a phone call the other day from a producer in the music industry. He was talking with me about a recent trip he had made to California and specifically the time that he had been at a worship service where I was leading the musical worship. He said that normally he would be unable to enjoy listening to music at churches because he would be analyzing the mix, or the musicians, or the arrangement, or whatever. But he said that he was able to fully relax and enjoy the service. Then he said that he experienced something that had never happened to him before. He said (in hushed tones, almost embarrassed, like he didn’t know if he should be admitting this) “I felt a warmth, a physical warmth wash over my body.” He said, “I’m not the type of guy who believes in that stuff, but it really happened.” He said that the musical worship was really amazing, and that he could really “feel” something special there.

I remember meeting him after that service and I specifically remember what I felt during that service. You know what I felt?


I hadn’t put in any extra special effort, or extra prayer time or anything like that. I was just doing my thing. That got me to thinking about the “art apart from the artist”.

How much do our acts of worship actually have to do with us?

I can remember several times of musical worship where I felt like the music sucked, or I lost my voice, or I was in a bad mood, or I felt like my personal sin would negate my acts of worship, and in those times people would say that they had never been so moved in worship. I’ve come to the conclusion that our acts of worship have very little to do with us. I think God will use vessels that are willing, I’m pretty sure that’s the main qualifier in His eyes. Even hugely flawed vessels are used by God, myself included!!!

My dear friend Dean and I have been talking about this lately. He pointed me to an excellent article “art apart from the artist” by musician/writer Manuel Luz on this subject.

Manuel writes, “There must be some aspect of art that has the potential for expression, interpretation, and ministry separate from the artist who created it. For art is a painting apart from the painter, a story apart from the storyteller, an expression apart from the expresser. It is as if art has a life of it’s own, used by God at his discretion, for His purposes, in His timing. In a sense, art becomes alive, self-existent, legitimate. And we as artists have an obligation to birth the art, and set it free.

The work of an artist can have meaning and ministry outside of the scope of the artist who created it. Because the nature of God is that He can and does not only redeem the artist, but the work of the artist as well. He can use the work of a psychologically flawed, self-destructive painter in spite of himself. He can use the work of a sinful, prideful king in spite of himself. And He can use my music in spite of myself.”

CLICK HERE for the full article from www.manuelluz.com


update: mercy killings?

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Did staff at the New Orleans Memorial Medical Center carry out "mercy killings" during Hurricane Katrina?

CLICK HERE for the original story

UPDATE: 10-17-05

The Louisiana Attorney General's Office is overseeing the investigation into whether or not there were indeed "Mercy Killings" carried out at New Orleans Memorial Hospital. They are also overseeing the investigation into the possible abandonement of elderly patients at a New Orleans nursing home. The scope of the investigation is staggering.

Over 20% of the deaths attributed to Hurricane Katrina are now being called into question.

CLICK HERE for the updated story


good quote from a good book

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

“There may not be a more dangerous weapon for violence or oppression than religion. It seems counterintuitive, but when human beings create religions, we use them to control others through their guilt and shame. True religion always moves us to serve others and to give our lives to see those oppressed find freedom. [The Apostle] Paul persecuted followers of Christ and even instigated their deaths, but then he risked his own life so that others might live. He once personified the very worst that happens when a religion becomes civilized. It moves away from God and oppresses humanity in God’s name. Paul was once consumed by religion, but then he was transformed by the living presence of God Himself.

We, too, must find the barbarian way out of civilization. How have we come to this sanitized view of the faith to which Jesus calls us? Somewhere along the way the movement of Jesus Christ became civilized as Christianity. We created a religion using the name of Jesus Christ and convinced ourselves that God’s optimal desire for our lives was to insulate us in a spiritual bubble where we risk nothing, sacrifice nothing, lose nothing, worry about nothing. Yet Jesus’ death wasn’t to free us from dying, but to free us from the fear of death. Jesus came to liberate us so that we could die up front and then live. Jesus Christ wants to take us to places where only dead men and women can go.”

Erwin Raphael McManus, "The Barbarian Way"


tattoos kill

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

If only I had read THIS STORY maybe I wouldn't have gone and got myself all inked up...

Well, no, I'd probably still do it...

CLICK HERE to read the full story, "Man falls dead while getting tattoo"


Katie's been in the South for too long...

Katie just boarded the plane to head home. We'll be picking her up tonight. And not a moment too soon. She's been in the south too long! She's been eating jumbalaya and gumbo, chitlin n' grits, and collard greens...

And she even started talking like them!!!

CLICK HERE for a special audio message from Katie!


it’s the end of the world as we know it

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The death toll in the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Pakistan has soared to over 30,000 people. Officials say that the average age in the hardest hit areas is 18 years old. They say an entire generation has been destroyed.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The earthquake was so strong that it could be felt across all of South Asia. The United Nations has warned that 2.5 million people are in need of shelter following the earthquake.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Guatemala's death toll from torrential rains last week associated with Hurricane Stan are projected to reach 1,000 people.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Mudslides a half mile wide and up to twenty feet deep have swallowed entire villages. Overwhelmed officials have declared some areas mass graves and have stopped recovery efforts.
“Panabaj will no longer exist, we are asking that it be declared a cemetery. We are tired, we no longer know where to dig.”

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!? Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Stan, earthquakes, mudslides… Is it me, or is this stuff happening with a lot more frequency than in the past?
Is it God's judgment? Global warming? Happenstance?

If I were the apocalyptic type I’d be gathering up my “left behind” books and heading for the bomb shelter.


the boy in the bubble

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I was reading a Q&A section in a christian publication the other day. One of the questions was this:

“Q. We are saturated today with morally questionable images and messages through myriad media outlets. Besides moving to a deserted island, what are some ways I can guard my kids and instill godly values-without over-sheltering them from the real world?”

Now, I’m sure that the answer given by the columnist was fascinating but I quit reading right after the question.
I thought back to the many discussions my wife and I have had since having our two sons on this very subject. Katie and I are products of vastly different parenting styles. This has made our conversations about our children’s future very interesting. Here’s a little background:

I was raised in a very strict family, with Dad being very much the authoritarian. I was very sheltered. I was home schooled, my parents “screened” my friends, I didn’t get to watch “dirty dancing”, I didn’t get to listen to secular music, I didn’t get to sleep over or do things like that.
Katie jokingly calls me “the boy in the bubble”.

Katie’s parents had a different approach. They were of the opinion that they had done their best to instill godly values in her as a small child and they were going to let her go out there and let her figure it all out. They said, “what good is the light that is in you until you take it into a dark place?” Don’t get me wrong, they cared, they were protective as well, she wasn’t a wild child or anything, but still a very different approach.

So, I guess that question in the magazine is my own. How can I teach my children to be real, and relational, and relevant, without compromise? I don’t want to over-shelter, but I certainly don’t want to under-shelter either.

We live in the tension. Where is the perfect balance point?


leavin' on a jet plane...

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Katie just sent me a text message to let me know that she was boarding the plane headed for New Orleans. She's going to stay for a week and help out the same group that I was with when I was in Louisiana about a month ago. Pastor Troy and his crew have set up a kitchen area to feed the construction crews, and the people of New Orleans that are slowly making their way back home. Pastor Troy tells us that they have been feeding over 500 people per day. Katie is going with several people from our church including Gina and Liz.

I would appreciate your prayers for the safety of Katie and her team. Katie asked also for everybody to pray that I will remember to feed the boys. I think she was being sarcastic, but I can't be certain.

CLICK HERE to go to the UGO4GOD blog.



The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father
Almighty Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried;
He descended to the dead.
On the third day He rose again;
He ascended into heaven,
He is seated at the right hand of the Father,
And He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
One holy church,
The communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting.


An American Creed

I believe in my income and Standard of Living,
Maker of pleasure on earth.
And in Things-I-Own and Things-I-Want-To-Get,
Which are conceived by desire for possessions born of a regular paycheck,
Suffered under monthly payments,
Then glorified, cherished and admired.
They descend in their value,
But on a future day I'll acquire some more,
Ascending in my status,
'Til I sit in quite comfortable retirement,
From whence I shall come to enjoy them all without end.
I believe in my home or apartment,
My comfortable automobile,
My vacation with pay,
My insurance for life,
The satisfaction of my wants,
And a bank account ever increasing.


R. Vallet, Congregations at the Crossroads