Sunday, July 28, 2013

ZOE Conference 2013 Registration

Greetings, ZOE friends, old and new! We are excited to announce that the 2013 ZOE Worship Conference, “Here With Us”, will be held in Nashville, TN at the Otter Creek Church on October 25-27. This year our conference and CD will have a Christmas theme...specifically, Advent. Advent teaches us what “God with us” really means. Advent is about waiting… waiting on the Lord, watching for Him, believing in Him… even when He is silent. Advent celebrates the absolute truth that God is faithful and that His steadfast love is present, even in difficult times, to bring a deep peace unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. It takes what can become a very commercial holiday season that can leave us empty and lonely and infuses it with life and hope.

Recently, some of the other ZOE singers who are also worship ministers and I had a conversation about the things that are most helpful to us. We asked the question, "What would WE want and need in a conference?" Well, we love to worship. So, we want to have great times of celebratory and heart-felt worship as the ZOE Group leads us (including a Saturday afternoon worship session with song writer and worship artist, Carl Cartee from Fellowship Bible Church in Nashville). We also want some inspiring Biblical feeding. So our key note speakers, Mike Cope, Jonathan Storment and Jeff Walling will take us deep into the Word.

We also need to help us be better at this calling on our lives. So, we've worked hard this year to broaden our break-out sessions to address both topical and thematic things like Josh Ross's and John Mark Hicks's classes all about waiting on the Lord, while also offering practical worship ministry, technical, and hands-on creative and inspiring classes. We hope that some of these classes about leading praise teams, innovative lighting ideas, worship planning, caring for your voice, innovative ways of using art, Planning Center, and more will help you not only leave feeling refreshed spiritually, but also equipped to do the technical parts of your job.

And, back by popular demand, we're doing another New Music Pre-Conference to kick off the weekend! In addition to the great new music we’ll learn at the conference from the upcoming ZOE CD “Here With Us,” New Music Nashville will provide an opportunity for attendees to discover even more great new songs for worship. Beginning on Friday morning, attendees will have a chance to learn a dozen new songs with Randy Gill, DJ Bulls and rehearsal accompanist Jerry Reed. These selections are brand new arrangements in a variety of styles that will be wonderful additions to your church’s repertoire in the coming year. A folio of the new music by Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Israel Houghton and others is included in the price of the Pre-Conference. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to be part of what one participant last year called “the greatest a cappella worship choir ever assembled!” The songs are great, the singing is incredible and it's just a blast! You won't want to miss New Music Nashville!

We know how hard it can be to take time away from your home church--whether you're a volunteer or a full-time minister. We know it's difficult to make time to go other places on the days when your job seems to count the most. But it's YOU we have in mind as we've carefully begun painting this canvas that will be "Here With Us". We're planning all sorts of surprises this year...and don't want you to miss even one of them. We would love for you to stay through the weekend and then worship with us Sunday morning too as Mike Cope and I close out the conference.

My prayer is that the Lord would begin building excitement and anticipation in your hearts as we look ahead to October 25th when we will gather and experience the Lord in ways that will shape our lives and ministries. I'm praying that these hope inspired words, "God with us", will begin to just haunt you....ring in your ears...and surround you on days of trouble and in times of rejoicing.

Registration opens tomorrow (July 29th). SIGN UP! Do it! I promise, this is one ZOE Conference you won't want to miss. I'll see you in October! I CAN. NOT. WAIT! Go here to register!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Here WIth Us

Don't forget to save the date on your calendars for the first ever ZOE Christmas conference in October! October 25th-27th in Nashville at the Otter Creek Church. You can register online at

We begin recording our first ever Christmas CD this Friday. We're excited and covet your prayers as we enter this process!

Monday, July 01, 2013

Hold to His God's Unchanging Hand.

My great-great grandfather (William Samuel Herndon) was a Church of Christ preacher and church planter back in the mid 1800's. He moved his family to West Texas and planted a church that would soon his family did. (They ended up with 14 kids. I mean seriously.) 

The woman to your right in this picture is my great-great-great grandmother...born in the early 1800s.) My great grandmother is the one over William's left shoulder. She learned to love Jesus from her parents and she passed it down to my grandmother and then my mother. I'll bet things looked different back in the 1800s, don't you? 

This past Sunday we did an exercise in nostalgia and actually took out the hymnals and turned to #613 and sang "Hold to God's Unchanging Hand". It's a song my mother, grandmother and even great grandmother would have sung, written in 1904. Funny how songs with good theology form us. Those lyrics...verse one and chorus especially...are important. Funny to think that words sung so long ago could help all of we move into the church of the future. 

The song says, "Time is filled with swift transition...keep your hopes on things eternal. Hold to God's unchanging hand." Forms will come and forms will go. But the love of Jesus is everlasting. It is an everlasting love and his power is never ending. 

In her later years, my great grandmother went to Central Church of Christ here in Abilene. It later dwindled out and the building was given to Highland and it now serves as our Grace Fellowship campus. Interestingly, I remember walking in one day to rehearse with the worship band for our service that Sunday and stopped in my tracks. I looked around at the red carpet and the wooden ceiling and realized....this was my great grandmother's church. This is where she worshiped. And now, 150 years after William Herndon planted a church near Anson and then exploded the population with his own offspring, his great-great grandson is leading worship...instrumental the church his daughter attended well into her 90s. 

So, what is eternal? Buildings? Song books? Red carpet? Certain hymns or styles of worship? No. Jesus. The same yesterday, today and forever. The Alpha and Omega. And I hope that William Herndon's love for Jesus will live on in his great-great-great grandchildren and Maddie is already leading worship with the youth band every Sunday morning at Highland in the middle school class. 

I pray that, as Psalm 145 says, "One generation will commend His works to another...and tell of His surpassing greatness." Keep your hopes on things ETERNAL. Hold to God's unchanging hand.