Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Did you hear that?!?

We recently have added a new family member
! Gabi has been wanting a puppy for a long time and this Christmas Santa came early! Our new puppy's name is Jingle Bell and it has been so much fun to watch Gabi as they are playing and learning how to handle a dog! She is a great 'Big Sister' and LOVES playing with her new friend.
The other day I was in the kitchen and Gabi and Jingle Bell were in the living room playing and all I could hear was Gabi giggling and laughing and having so much fun! I just had to stop for a minute and listen to the pure joy coming from the other room. I love that sound! As a dad it made my heart so happy!
It made me start thinking about some of my other favorite sounds, so I have put a list together - in no particular order. Enjoy!

Gabi playing with her puppy, Jingle Bell
The opening guitar lick on U2's "All Because of You"
The crack of a baseball bat when it hits a home run
Thunder storm when going to sleep
Children singing
Opening a Dr. Pepper
The cheer of a crowd when their team wins the 'big' game
New strings on my guitar
Meat cooking on the grill
Stillness of the house when I first wake up
Lawn mowers on a Saturday afternoon
Bob Dylan playing the harmonica

I would love to know what some of your favorite sounds are! Let me know on our Facebook fan page !

Friday, December 2, 2011

I'm a weakling.

When I was 16 years old I wanted to be a weather man. Yeah, I hear you giggling! That is what I really thought I would be doing when I "grew up." God, however had other plans...
One Wednesday night I sat in church after performing a drama with my youth group, and God spoke to me. Not out loud. I didn't hear Him with my ears, I heard Him in my heart, my mind. I heard Him telling me he had bigger plans for my life. He was telling me that He wanted me to be a Worship Leader, He wanted be to lead His church in worship through song. "What?!?! No way, dude! I have my life planned out and I will be just fine!", were my thoughts. After a bit of a power struggle, I realized that Gods plan for my life is much better than my plan for my life.
I have followed that call on my life, and have dedicated my life to doing what God has called me to do...BUT, and this is a big 'but', I struggle with the responsibility of being a good leader. Sure, I can lead a song, and put music together in a way that flows and makes sense, but that is not all that a worship leaders job is. I struggle with wanting to please everybody all the time (not a trait of a good leader). I am a huge procrastinator. I don't follow through on the things I say I will do. I am generally a lazy person and I coast by on the fact that I have done this long enough that I can just throw something together quickly and it will work. Again, not a trait of a strong leader.
I worry constantly about making the right choice, so much so I get paralyzed with fear can't make decisions on my own and then make the people around me make the decisions for me.

It's at times like this I wonder, "If God has called me to this, why am I so afraid of doing it?"
"Why can't I step up and be the leader God has called me to be?"
"If God has created me to do this, then why do I have so much self doubt and insecurity?"
I have really been soul searching, and trying to figure out what it is that keeps me from stepping up and taking control of my life, and I have realized that that is my biggest problem...I am trying to be in control of my life.

God tells me that He will provide all I need. He won't give me more than I can handle. He will be my strength and power. I have to live daily remembering these promises and holding on to these truths. Paul, the writer of the letters to the Corinthians, says this in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10...

8 I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. 9 But the Lord said, “My grace is all you need. Only when you are weak can everything be done completely by my power.” So I will gladly boast about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can stay in me. 10 Yes, I am glad to have weaknesses if they are for Christ. I am glad to be insulted and have hard times. I am glad when I am persecuted and have problems, because it is when I am weak that I am really strong.

What this says to me is that when I stop trying to control and fix the 'problems' in my life and live in the fact that I am weak and only through God I am strong, I can become the leader that He has created and called me to be. When I do things in my own power because I like to be in control and not admit my weakness, I will always fail. Here is a real world example...
I have a horrible memory. When Michelle asks me to remember something I always tell her I will, I tell myself I will, , but NEVER do. Even though I know I have a horrible memory, I don't want to admit it and I don't do anything to help myself remember because I think I am a big strong man and can do things on my own. But what I am learning is that when she asks me to remember something I have to accept my weakness and make a note for myself, put it on my calendar, or tattoo it on my forehead because I know I will fail if I try to just remember on my own.
The point I am trying to make with this silly example is that when we recognize our weakness and admit to it and ask for help, God will use us in ways that we never expected. If I try to be a better leader on my own just by saying "OK, I am going to be a better leader. Ready...Go!" I will fail every time, but if I say "OK, God, You have called me to be a leader, I know I am weak in the area of leadership, so I need you to lead through me." Not only will He do it, He will do more through me than I ever thought possible. I have to rely on His strength, not my own because "His strength is made perfect in my weakness."

Monday, November 21, 2011


With this being the week of Thanksgiving I thought I would make a list of the things I am most thankful for. Hope you enjoy!

1. My Salvation
2. My amazing wife, Michelle
3. My sweet daughter Gabriella
4. Dr. Pepper
5. Freedom
6. Our home
7. Rock-n-Roll
8. My job
9. Our church
10. Pecan Pie

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 7, 2011

You live a different life.

I was hanging out with my friend Matt the other day, and we were talking about life and family and work and stuff. We started talking about the weather and how weather changes affect people.

My wife, Michelle, for example LOVES the cool weather. Any day it is cool enough she will open every window and every door in the house just so we can feel the cool breeze. It energizes her. It makes her more productive (her words). It gives her a pep in her step. She LOVES the cool weather! I, however, am not a fan of the weather changes. When the cool front blow in, I want to hide. I get cold easily. It makes my allergies act up. It causes me to loose my voice (which is how we make a living). I am not a fan of the cool weather.

As I was telling Matt all these things, and telling him about how we have to think about stuff like weather changes and how it affects our business his comment was "Wow, y'all live a different life." I asked him what he meant and we discussed it further. He told me how interesting it is that in our line of work we have to pay attention to things like the weather, how the time of year affects what we do, how we have to think about things that 'normal' people don't ever pay attention to. We had a good laugh, but it made me start thinking about his comment, "You live a different life."

Am I, as a Christ-follower, living a different enough life that people notice? Is my lifestyle different enough, that the people I come in contact with know there is something different about me? Is the way I treat my family and friends telling of my love for God?

It was a good wake-up call for me, a reality check of sorts, to remind me that I should be living my life in such a way that people who know me, and even strangers I meet would notice that I live a 'different life.' A life that reflects God's love, a life that is modeled after the greatest commandment, "Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and Love your neighbor as yourself."

So now that the cool weather is arriving, I will put on my sweat-shirt, load up on vitamin C and allergy medicine, and open all the windows and celebrate this wonderfully different life that God has called us to live!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gravity always wins.

There are some things that we take for granted. Truths that we never think about, but that will always hold true no matter how hard we try to change them. Here is a list of a few I have put together. Enjoy!

It is almost impossible to not know someone who plays the guitar.
Ketchup makes everything taste better...except for Ketchup.
Things are always in the last place you look for them.
Time speeds up when you are on Facebook.
Everyone has had an uncle who tried to steal their nose.
No matter how hard you try, you can never get your least favorite song out of your head.
Where ever you go...there you are.
The older Bob Dylan gets, the harder he is to understand.
"They" will never run out of things to say.
Gravity always wins.

If there are any I have missed, please feel free to send them my way!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Be Still and Know...

Michelle and I have just gotten back from a much needed vacation. She and I went with some very good friends of ours to Boston for a long weekend. This is the first non-working vacation we have taken in over 5 years. Yes, we do get to travel to many different, very cool places, but usually we are working. Typically someone hires us to come and lead the music for an event, or church service, or we are on our way to a gig somewhere and happen to stop for a little fun or sight-seeing on the way. This time however, no guitars, no music books, no sound systems made the trip. It was AWESOME! We were able to just relax and be tourists, not worrying about what time we had to be back to get ready for the gig or plan the next set, we just enjoyed hanging out in a new town and saw everything there was to see!
It really hit me when we came home that we can get so caught up in planning and doing and going and working and planning and doing and going and working, that we forget to take time to rest and let God refresh us and renew our spirit. It doesn't have to be a trip somewhere or even an extended period of time, it can be just a few hours each week. I am learning that I need to make time to rest in God. If I don't, then I will get caught up in whatever the next project is and forget all about it. Then when I do make that time I don't need to fill it with watching T.V. or playing on Facebook or other things that would distract me from resting in God. (Not that there is anything wrong with T.V. or Facebook, but if I am truly trying to find my peace and rest in Christ then I should be focused on Him.)
Just a few thoughts...I hope you find true rest in Christ this weekend. Take some time and unplug, just for a bit and let God renew your passion and love for Him.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Simple...not Easy.

You may have heard this quote from Gandhi, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Or you may have heard the Golden Rule, "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Maybe you saw Bruce Almighty and heard Bruce tell us at the end of the movie to "Be the Miracle!" Or how 'bout when Jesus told us to "Love God and Love Others."

If we as Christ Followers want to make a difference in the world we need to be that difference. There are so many times each day that we have a choice to show God's love or to hide it. That is the theme behind the our new CD, Live to Love. When writing for Live to Love we wanted to focus on verses from scripture that enforce the idea that we as Christ Followers can show God's love in everything we do. Loving God and Loving Others is a choice, it is not something that just happens.

If we want the world to be a kinder, more loving place we must first cultivate that in our own lives, then choose to share that with the people we meet each day. By basing all that we do on the idea of Loving God and Loving Others, will help us see everyday situations differently. This is a concept that sounds simple, but to put it into practice is not always easy.

This week, make a difference, be the miracle, let God's love shine through!

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Sing the Songs...

I have often gone into a church service and thought..."I hope I get something out of this today" or "I hope they sing the songs I like" or "I hope the message is something I want to hear."

If you have been around me for any amount of time, you have heard me talk about how worshiping God is not just about singing songs or going to an event. We shouldn't go to worship, it should be the way we live our lives every minute of every day.

However, singing is a part of worshiping God!

I found this video today and thought about how many times I have sung these songs, and the right words have come out of my mouth, but my mind is wandering off somewhere thinking about what is for lunch or who is winning the the game or what I am doing later. When what I should be focused on in my loving God. He is my defender and my friend. He is my comfort and strength. He is my fortress and my salvation.

Yes, listen and laugh because this video is funny, but when you go to your church services this week, don't just sing the words because they are on the screen or handout, sing them so that God hears your heart, (whether it is your favorite song or not.) Don't think about what I can get out of this, but instead what can I give back to God for all that He has done in my life. Worship should not be about how much we get, but how much we give.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gabi does it again.

The other night while on our road trip across America we stopped for dinner just outside Kansas City. We had been in North Dakota and were driving to Kansas City for the night. We had been in the car for about 13 of our 15 hour drive and stopped to eat at Olive Garden. Gabi was so excited because one of her favorite foods is pasta! Well, if you have ever eaten at the OG you know that at the end of the meal they bring you an Andes mint, who doesn't love chocolate and mint!?! Gabi may have had one before but did not remember what they were, and when she ate hers, she loved it! Michelle ate hers and John, who was playing with us over the weekend, ate his. I was so full I could not even think of eating another thing, not even a little piece of chocolate. So I decided to give mine to Michelle, and she said to go ahead and give it to Gabi.
Now, the other day when Gabi came home from school she was telling us that they had learned the 3rd person rule, Jesus - Others - You. JOY. She told us how we should always put Jesus first, others second, and ourselves third. That goes right along with what we are always talking about with Gabi, Loving God and Loving Others, and how we can do that every day even in little ways.
So, Gabi takes the candy, opens it, and without giving it a thought, she takes it and breaks it. She looked at it and saw that it didn't break exactly in half. She examines the pieces and takes the smaller piece and puts it in her mouth and hands the bigger half to Michelle. My heart nearly burst out of my chest! I could not believe this amazing little girl! We all immediately told her how proud we were of her for wanting to share, but more than that, how she decided to give the bigger piece away. She looked at us and said, " I was using the 3rd person rule. Jesus, Others, You." Which blew me away even more.
I realized how often I don't practice this simple rule. I like to keep the bigger, better piece for myself. I often times get the 3rd person rule backwards. Y - O - J. I think of myself before others. I am learning so much from my sweet 5 yr old!
I will never look at an Andes mint the same!

Monday, August 29, 2011

With or Without You

Michelle and I spent the weekend in Birmingham, Alabama (yes, that is where they love the gov'ner). Kenny Conley and his team from Gateway Community Church from Austin, TX put on a Children's Ministry Conference called Illuminate #illumin8 that we were able to be a part of. We had such an amazing time meeting people and making new friends who are so passionate about God and kids.
At the morning session Michelle and I were able to just participate in worship, we were not leading or in charge of anything. That is not something we get to do very often. We were able to just enjoy worshiping through music. The music was being lead by worship leader Chuck Hooten, and the message was given by Jim Wideman. As we were there God really impressed on me something that I have always known, but have not thought about in a while. God doesn't need me to do His work for Him. So often I get caught up in set lists, and planning and where we are going and who is playing with us etc. that I forget that He is in control. He doesn't want me doing things for Him, He just wants me.
I really felt God saying "I just want you. I don't want you doing stuff for me, I just want YOU." I have always known this, but it really hit me this week. He will continue His work with or without me, but He wants me to be open to His leading. He wants me to offer Him myself, not my stuff.
Just some of the things bouncing around in my head this week....
Until next time.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ice Ice Baby

     Hello.  My name is Justin and I am an ice chewer.

     Chewing ice has become an obsession. All I think of day and night, is where can I get my next cup of ice to crunch and chomp.  I like the way it feels...I like the sound of it...I like the tongue numbing cold...I like the release of tension it gives me.  I have my own rating system of where I can get the best ice to chew.  I even have down to a science how long to let the ice sit and how much liquid it needs for optimal chewing depending on where I get the ice.  Chewing ice is my obsession.  It is my only vice. (Well, I guess except for Dr. Pepper, but that's not bad for me, right!?!)
     I have been an ice chewer for most of my life.  I did it off and on when I was growing up, and even stopped for a while, but here in recent years it has taken over my life. I have heard time and time again how bad it is for my teeth, or that I need more Iron in my diet, or that it is just not socially acceptable, but that doesn't stop me.  I spend so much time chewing ice thinking about chewing ice, that Michelle (my wife) has become concerned.  She has asked me over and over to stop, and I try, but I just can't seem to get a hold of it.  I have woken her up by digging in the freezer to get a cup of ice.  I have even taken my cup of ice in the other room so that she wont hear me chomping on it.  It is taking over my life.  As I sit here writing this I am deep into a large cup of wonderful Starbucks ice.
     I am realizing now, that if I spent as much time thinking about how can I worship and serve God today as I do on where my next cup of ice will come from, my day would look very different.  Instead of focusing on myself and my desires, I would be focusing on the people around me and how God could use me.  I would be able to see a bigger that I am not the center of.  One where God would be guiding my day, not my search for the next cup of icy goodness.  I would also be a lot less cold.
     So, today I am making a vow to officially stop chewing ice.  Yes, I am going off ice cold turkey (or would it be warm turkey?)  I am choosing to spend my days differently.  Instead of obsessing about my next cup of ice and spending time chomping it down, I will choose to use that time focusing on God and how I can be used by Him. I will need His help in making this transition to a non ice chewer, and I know that I can trust in Him to help me make it through this.  It sounds like such a simple thing, but I know for me it will be a big change.
     OK. So here we go!  Last cube...crunch...chomp... BURRRR!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The A-Team

     WOW! What an incredible summer!  We had such an amazing time with so many wonderful people!  We spent a lot of time in Truck Norris, and covered a good portion of Texas and Oklahoma, and all the while stayed healthy and happy!  Michelle had so many hats to wear this, merch sales, bass player, back-up singer, road manager, video blog maker and wife, and she ROCKED them all!  I am so honored that she chose me! Gabi was especially wonderful! It is so much fun to see her grow up and discovering God's plan for her life.  She amazes me every day!   Isaac did an killer job on the drums, too! It was such a great team that God put together for this summer camp season!
     We spent the first week and last week of the summer at a place called Camp Egan.  What a wonderful place! Who knew there were such beautiful places in Oklahoma! Josh Pulver and the staff at Camp Egan were so welcoming and friendly, they made us feel right at home!  If you ever get a chance to go to Talequah, Oklahoma, look them up!
     The first two weeks of July were spent with the wonderful people of Camp Zephyr. Shaune Martinez and Tyler Grantham were such wonderful hosts and took great care of us!  Durring that time we did 3 pre-teen camps with almost 500 kids each!   We have loved going to that camp for many years, and this year did not disappoint!  We were to meet and work with some wonderful people.  Audie Lawley, and Bryon Compton, both from the Corpus Christi area,  were such great leaders and have become such wonderful friends! We hope to work with them again soon!  We also had the privilege to work with Kenny Conley from Gateway Community Church in Austin, Tx.  He was such a great communicator and teacher for the kids. He really made God's Word come to life for them, and even us!  Please check out his blog He has some great ideas and wonderful thoughts on kids ministry and church ministry in general.
     It is so amazing to me how God brings so many people together from so many different places and ministries that have not worked together before and does such powerful things!  We can get so wrapped up in planning and preparing that we miss what God has in store for us.  When we get out of the way and seek God's plan and put our own expectations to the side, God moves in ways we never imagined. 
     I can hear God smiling and saying..."I just love it when a plan comes together!"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

From the mouth of babes

     It is amazing to me how children can pick up on such deep truths when you don't even realize they are paying attention.  The other day Michelle and I were having a meeting with our pastor, Ken, from Heights Community Church, (where we lead worship on Sunday nights at 5pm at Alamo Heights UMC in San Antonio) about what is coming up in the next few weeks.  We were talking through the Summer, Fathers Day, what day we are going to do baptism, etc.  When Gabi turns to Michelle and says "I want to be baptized."  At first Michelle was thinking 'OK, how cute, I'm sure she doesn't understand, but I will humor her.' So she asked Gabi, "What does baptism mean?" and Gabi replies, "It's when you have decided to be a Christ follower and you want everyone to know about it."  Now, we have never talked about baptism with her or even discussed it really when she is around, so for her to come up with that on her own blew us away!
     As I have been thinking about that, and as we have had more conversation with her about baptism, I have realized how much people, and especially kids, pick up on the unspoken language we all use.  I have often talked about a phrase that St. Francis of Assisi once said, "Tell everyone you can about Christ, and if you have to use words."  As I live my life, are my actions and reactions pointing people to Christ or turning them away? Am I living in such a way that encourages people to want to know God's love?  Are the things that I say building up God's reputation or tearing it down. 
     It is amazing how much we say when we don't use words at all, and how much people pick up on the things we do say when we don't think anyone is listening.  I am challenging myself this week to be more aware of my words and actions. I hope you will join me in this!  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sum - Sum - Sumertime !

     Yes, yes. It has been quite a while since my last post.  I have not kept my part of the deal of posting every week. I get so caught up with "other stuff" that I just put it off and think "I'll just get to that later."  Then "Later" never comes.  So then I think "Is it really that important?" or "Does it really matter or make a difference?" and I convince myself that I am OK without it and that it is no big deal anyway.  All the while, knowing that I had made a promise that I am failing to keep.  This seems to be a pattern in my life.  I will get all gung-ho about something then when it looses its shiny newness or I get distracted by something else, I forget about it. 
     I think I do that with my relationship with God sometimes too.  I will get all excited about spending time with Him and learning more about Him, and that will go great for a while. Then I will get caught up in doing things for Him and not with Him.  Instead of spending my time focusing on Him and who He is and what He has done and is doing in my life, I get wrapped up in the going and doing things for Him.  When that becomes my focus, not God, I have things all backwards.  Yes, God wants us to do things, but with Him not just for Him.  He wants us to be so in tune with Him that we can't help but let His love flow out of us because we can't keep it in anymore.  
     We are getting ready to start our crazy fun Summer full of camps and traveling and being on the road ALOT.  This is one our favorite times of the year! Spending time with kids of all ages and worshiping with them and teaching them about worship.  My prayer this summer is that I will not get so involved with doing things for God but spending time with Him too.  I will also do better at keeping you involved in that process.  Thanks for listening and thank you for your prayers and support as we go on this journey together!
     See you on the road!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sell Out

     Too often I take the easy way out.  Instead of working hard and giving everything my best effort, I tend to coast or just rely on the fact that I have done this a million times before and I can get by doing the same old thing.  It is very easy to fall into the trap of complacency, and just get by with the minimum. 
     God, however, calls us to something very different. He asks us to always give our best, even when we don't feel like it.  God has never said that the Christian life is easy.  He tells us all through Ephesians that this life we live is a battle, and the biggest battle I seem to fight is the one against myself.  When it comes to doing my job I make excuses like; "I am to tired" "I'm not good enough" "I don't have time" or "I have done this before so it's no big deal."  When in reality, I just want to get by with as little effort as I can and not work hard to make sure that God is glorified in everything I do.  I am realizing that no matter what the job, if I give it everything I can and work hard, God is honored.  I want to live and work in a way that brings God glory, whether I am planning a set list for a worship service, writing a song, mowing the lawn or going to the grocery store.
     These are just a few thoughts rattling around in my head today.  Thanks for listening!   Hope you have a great week!  

Friday, April 8, 2011

All Around the World

     The last several months have been CRAZY!!  We have been across Texas every way possible, to San Diego and Phoenix, all over Oklahoma, and now I sit in Western Australia.  Yes I said Australia!! This is the trip of a lifetime.  Michelle, Gabi and I have traveled half way across the globe to visit friends that now live in Perth, Australia and lead worship at the church they are here pastoring now.
     The most amazing thing that I have noticed as we have been traveling and leading worship in all these different places is; worshiping God unifies the Body of Christ.  It doesn't matter what location, denomination, church, event or song it is, if the purpose is to get together and worship our Savior, people will gather together and praise and sing and worship.  This has been so uplifting and encouraging to see.  We all have one purpose, and that is to love on the One who loves us most. 
     It has been incredible to be in so many different places and see how God is moving and working all around the world!  I am so thankful for this opportunity!  God is truly amazing! I can't wait to see what He has for us next!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Crazy Life

It has been a while since I last blogged, but I wanted to let you know what has been happening with the JGB.  We have been on the road a TON and continue to rack up the miles on good ol' Truck Norris.  In the last few weeks we have been to El Paso, San Diego, and Phoenix and are now headed to Oklahoma for the weekend.  Soon after that Michelle, Gabi and I get on a plane and fly half way around the world to see our good friends in Australia. WOW! What an amazing life!  As I look back at where we have come from and what we are doing now and it is so amazing to see God's hand guiding and leading us all the way!  I never could have imagined when God called me to be a worship leader at the age of 16 that I would ever be doing the kind of stuff that we are doing! It is so cool to see how when we trust Him more, He trusts us with more!  I know this is not because of anything we have done, or manufactured, but because we continue to trust and seek and follow Him with all that we are. Thank you, God for Your amazing and wonderful blessings! Help us to always seek you and follow where ever You lead!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Actions Speak Louder

     This week I became very aware of how empty words can be when they are not followed by action. This week Michelle and I had a difficult time with our daughter.  She just turned five and you would think she is going on 15 with what we have been going through lately. (Not that there is anything wrong with 15 yr. olds!)  I can see her growing up and maturing into a wonderful young lady, but with that comes growing pains.  The push and pull of independence and surrender, the balance of being in control and letting go.  At every turn, she was flexing her 5 yr old intellect, thinking she knows more than we do or that the rules don't apply to her. She was doing what she wanted, when she wanted, without asking, then when confronted would say  "Sorry.  I won't do that any more." Then two seconds later she was doing the same thing again, and when caught, another apology...then you will never guess what she did next...THE SAME THING AGAIN!! Followed by ANOTHER apology. AAAHHH!!! We were thinking, "Will this ever end!?!?" Then finally when it seemed we had that issue taken care of, another issue of the same kind would show up and the cycle would start all over again.
     My amazing wife, who has such an incredible grasp on how to handle things, would tell Gabi every time she apologized, that saying "I'm sorry" doesn't fix the situation.  "I'm sorry" means that you see what you did wrong and you will now change and go in the opposite direction.  Brilliant!  There are so many times I think that just by saying "Sorry!" it will make things all better.  I did that with my parents when I was growing up, I did that when I was in school with my friends, I do it still today in my relationship with Michelle. 
    It became so clear to me as we were trying to teach Gabi this concept, that I have over used this simple phrase. I have always known that just saying "I'm sorry" doesn't fix things, yet I have used those words so often that they seem to have lost their meaning.  If I say "I'm sorry" but then continue to do the thing I said I was sorry for, why even say it.  If I am truly sorry for what I have done, my actions would be speaking for me.  If our lives reflected the brokenness and sorrow we are trying to convey with our words, there would be no wondering if we really meant what we said.
     As I think about my relationship with God, I am reminded how many times I have said to Him "I'm sorry." and kept doing all the same things.  I am grateful that I serve a God who does not give up on us.  He guides and directs and corrects us with love and kindness, and does not give us what we deserve. 
     Thankfully, we have come out on the other side of this with Gabi.  As we have been patient, yet firm with her and let her know that we still love her, but that we don't like the way she has been acting, our relationship has grown.  I'm sure we will go through this again sooner or later, but what I have realized is that I need to model this behavior for her. If I am not doing the things I am asking her to do, why would she change?  I must live it out, not just talk it out. 

     I have seen myself this week in the face of my 5 year old. A wake up call to let my life reflect what my words are saying.  Better yet, let my life speak for its self with out me having to use words. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Faith like a Child

    Children are fascinating creatures. One minute they can be playing with their toys without a care in the world, then the next minute they tell you something like:
"When I grow up I don't want to get married because I don't want to have to cook for somebody."
Or like my friend, who shaves his head and has no hair, had his son ask the other day:
"Dad, where are you?"
"In the front room. Why?"
"Oh, I heard the hair dryer and thought you were drying your hair."

    Kids can make you laugh, cry and confuse you all at the same time. But to see how they trust completely and love unconditionally makes me think about my relationship with God.  My daughter has no doubt that I will protect her and love her no matter what.  She knows that I always want what is best for her.  Even when I have to discipline her she knows that I still love her.

     So why do I hold back when it comes to my relationship with God?  I can't tell you how many times I have felt God saying "It's OK I've got you!" and still I try to do it on my own.  Jesus tells us that we should all have the faith of a child, to trust and know that no matter what our Heavenly Father always wants what is best for us and will love us no matter what.  Sure, we may not always understand why things happen the way they do or how things will work out in the end, but we can always know that He will be right beside us through it all.

    We have some friends who's children have just recently entered a difficult and unexpected season in their life.  One of which is a little girl named Sadie.  She made this video around Christmas, but in light of all that is going on it is extremely powerful and relevant.  I would love for you to watch this short video and as you watch it I ask you to pray for Sadie and another sweet girl named Abigail.

    Gabi never has to wonder if her daddy loves her or will be there for her. I pray that I can RE-learn the unconditional trust and faith like a child.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Get out of the way!!

     You may have heard that simple "church-y" phrase "Let go and Let God."  It sounds so simple and so spiritual.  I think though that is what Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians when he says "Gods strength is made perfect in my weakness."  I have been becoming more and more aware of this idea lately.  I get so caught up in trying to make sure I am in control and I have everything the way I want it that I forget that God is the one actually in control.  If I would take all the energy I spend in trying to do things myself and let God use me for His glory then things would probably go much smoother.  I can try and try to be my best, the best husband,, best father, best leader, best songwriter, but that will always come up short.  Not just short by a little bit but like the Grand Canyon short.  But if I let God's power work through me and get myself out of the way, then like Paul, God's strength will be made perfect in my weakness. Something I am learning and seeing more clearly every day.  If I can live in God's love and grace and let that flow through me, I can be exactly what God has created me to be. 

Monday, January 17, 2011


    A common theme in my life is 'over complicated'.  I tend to find the most complicated and longest way to complete a task.  Whether it is writing a song or putting something together or writing this blog, I can find the hardest way to accomplish a task.  One thing I am trying to learn is how to keep things simple.  Michelle tells me all the time to stop over thinking, just sit down and do it, let it happen, don't get so wrapped up in trying to make it perfect.  Simplify.  I think I am going to try to adopt that as my theme for this year.  I have never been one to make New Years Resolutions, and I don't consider this to be one, but maybe with the start of a new year I can commit to simplifying.  I think this is a good philosophy in worship as well.  Sometimes I think we get too wrapped up in trying to make sure we are playing the coolest songs or have the hottest newest things going on that we forget what we are doing, worshiping our Savior and Creator.  Instead of trying to make it perfect, trendy or catchy we need to just simply worship.  Let it happen naturally, don't over think it, just tell Him what is in our heart, start there and see where it takes us.
    Simplify.  I'm going to give it shot.  Will you join me?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How does He do it?

    Michelle and I were looking at our calendar the other day and commenting on how full it is.  As I sit here to write this I am so overwhelmed with God's trust in us.  I am not sure how to even communicate what I am feeling.  I have started this blog over several times trying to find the right words, but the only words I can think of is "Thank you!"  When Michelle and I started our ministry together about 10 years ago the only thing we knew was that God was calling us to travel and lead worship through music.  We had no idea where that would take us or just what that meant but we knew that our job was just to trust and follow.  There have been times that I have tried to fit God into my box or tell Him my idea of what He wants me to do and He is always faithful to remind me that He is in control.  I am so humbled that He chose us to be a part of His plan.  I don't know how to describe the feelings of joy, worry, anticipation, wonder, excitement, and peace I feel when I think about what God has done for us and where He is taking us.  I may be unsure of how our bills get paid each month or how it is that we are able to continue doing what we do, but knowing that I am not in control and that God is a big relief.
    Lately, I have been becoming more aware of my calling.  When I was starting out in my music carer I just thought how cool it was to be able to play music for a living.  I knew that God had called me to be a worship leader and thought doing that would be a lot of fun, but now I am seeing how serious this business is.  I have always taken my music seriously, but have never realized the impact of my calling until recently. My head is full of questions, my heart is full of anticipation and my spirit is stirring.  I don't know how God continues to sustain us or why He has chosen us to be His messengers, but I am excited to see where this takes us.  I am learning to live up to my calling instead of just playing music for God. Trying to wrap my brain around how God makes this work is exhausting, so I will stop trying and just continue to trust Him.  All I know is that God has trusted me with this piece of His kingdom and whether we stay in San Antonio forever or continue to travel the country and the world, I want to live up to the call God has placed on my life, and the call He has given me and Michelle for our ministry.
    Thanks for listening to my ramblings for today!  See you soon!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hello World!

Ok, I am new to this Blog world.  I hope to use this as a place where you can get to know me and the things that go on inside my head.  I will be posting at least once a week. For those of you who don't know me my name is Justin Graves.  I am a worship leader from San Antonio, TX.  I travel across the country with my incredible wife, Michelle and our daughter Gabi.

As we travel across the country I will be sharing our experiences and hopefully giving you more insight to who we are and why we do what we do.  Hope you enjoy! You can check out our website and our FB page Justin Graves Band.  Hope to see you on the road sometime soon!  Keep rockin!