blogs by Mike

What's Your Passion?

I grew up in a musical family and my earliest memories are when my father’s side of the family would get together and play music together.  I was fascinated with how every instrument would compliment one another to create this sound.  So I had the passion of music early on. If you are a musician there has been a cartoon going around that pretty much explains it.  It reads. “ Musician” the only people I know who spends $5000.00 for equipment, loads it up in his $500.00 car, travels for 5 hours to the show and plays for 4 hours for $50.00. Musicians are the most passionate people I know.  The love for playing music consumes you.  

There are many levels to being a musician.  Either you want to play music for fun or you want to earn money for playing music.  When you decide to play music for money you are putting your self out there because the competition is brutal. When I first went to Nashville, a friend of mine who played piano for George Jones told me when you get to Nashville. “ YOU FIND OUT HOW GOOD YOU’RE NOT” which scared me to death.  I learned to play all instruments by ear not by the note. So me not being able to read music I thought I was defeated but then he said find your niche.  I went on the road for 3 months and off for two weeks and back out on the road and repeated the process for 10 years.   I have slept in “Band Houses” “Motels” “back rooms where I would not even let my dog sleep now.  But for the love of the music I did it and did not even flinch.

I know no other profession where people would say “I would love for your band to come and play for X event next weekend, it will be great exposure for your guys”.  You would never ask a plumber to come out and fix your problem and say I will make sure my entire neighborhood will know of your service.  You expect them to do a job for a fee.   People don’t understand that for a band to play any event there is travel time to the venue, time for the band to set up equipment, and then sound check, which is normally 2 hours prior to start time.  The next step is to play for 1 or 2 hours for the EXPOSURE and then you get to tear down all the equipment and then travel back home.  So for a job from 12 till 2, you start at 9am and you get home about 4pm, but your only playing for 1 maybe 2 hours is what the promotions person tells you even though that is an 7 hour day for the musicians.  There is a great line in a Travis Tritt song that says “Why's the rich man busy dancing while the poor man pays the band”.

I say all of this because of the passion I have for playing music. I have gone through all of these scenarios and lived to tell about it. When you see someone playing at a club, beach restaurant, or on a street corner, they are there because the love for what they are doing is outweighing any obstacles they are facing.  


What is your passion?  Would you do almost anything at almost no pay just to pursue it?  That is what Jesus asks us to do, is pursue him with passion. Be devoted to him, draw close to him and trust him. 

Colossians 3:17  “What ever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of Lord Jesus”. 

Romans 8: 28     “ And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”


Ok, So what does this all mean?  What ever you are passionate about is the purpose according to his will?  Regardless of the passion you have it can be used to further the kingdom.  Sometimes just being nice to someone or helping someone in need is a gift.  God uses everything and every one for his kingdom.  
As James says in Chapter 1: 25  “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard but doing it---he will be blessed in what he does.”


Are you using your passion to further the kingdom?

Your reward in heaven will be waiting.  

God Bless

Mike


Excuse Me!

Since moving to Northwest Florida 2 years ago from Orlando we have learned how to “Bring it down” a few notches.  Which is a good thing.  Yes, Orlando is the home to Mickey Mouse, Universal Studios, Sea World, The Orlando Magic, and many football bowl games. But living there we wanted to be as far away from the theme parks as we possibly could.  Yes it is an exciting city with something going on every single weekend.  And it can be a great city just so your money doesn’t run out.  

There is another side of Orlando where you are so keyed up because of the traffic in town or always being aware of your surroundings because the crime is so apparent, it just wears on you physically.

For instance in March every year in Winter park they have the Winter Park Art Festival.  They have nationally known music artist to play in the park on Friday night of the Art Festival.  To get a seat for the concert you have to take a blanket down to the concert venue early in the morning the day of the concert.  I’m talking 7am.  Someone will have to stay with it to hold your spot.  Of the ten years we attended we never once got to sit in front of the stage, we always threw our chairs and blanket at the rear of the stage.  We always had a good time but it was a 5-6 hour ordeal for a 1-1/2 hour concert 15 minutes away from our house.  There are 300,000 people attending over a weekend.  It’s wall-to-wall people, and not all people are nice.

And since we have been here in Northwest Florida we attend Bands on the Blackwater in Milton for the past 8 weeks and we get there five minutes before it starts find a great place (in front of the stage) and enjoy a 2 hour concert under the stars.  I know Milton and Orlando are two different city’s but, the stress level is way down.

We all get into situations living life where it’s just the way it is and we forget there are people living a whole different existence and surviving. 

It’s the same way when you live a certain way and you have minimal or no faith life.  Now many of you are doing well, have a good job, great family, house, cars in the driveway.  You think I don’t need God.  When we focus on ourselves we have this tendency to always want more.  Bigger house, another car, better clothes, traveling or what ever IT might be.  God is blessing you. There is another side of this life.

We need to step back and say “Excuse me” I need to check myself at the door and understand I am being blessed.

1 Timothy 2: 3-4

God our Savior…wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of truth.


When we are stressed about our situations, even when God has not answered our prayers the way we desire, the knowledge that God is on our side and wants good for us should be comforting to us even though we may not understand.  There may be a different life God has planned for us and we need to be open to the new life which God has in store for us.

  Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.


Blessings

Mike

How Rested Are you

AE is a term that is used in Church circles when everyone tries to catch their breath.  AFTER EASTER.  There is such a build up to Easter Sunday and Christmas Eve for everyone involved in and around church.  All of the volunteers who open doors, greet, run lights, run sound, run the PowerPoint, clean the church, fold bulletins, prepare children’s programs, musicians and singers rehearsing prior to these dates.  As much as we prepare for these important dates it seems like all of the build up and “POOF”, they are gone and its on to the next big thing.  

The bottom line is that Easter Sunday and Christmas Eve are important services, but everything that was done for Easter and Christmas Eve is done every single week.  Each and every service is about every person walking into service and having a connection to the Lord.  Regardless of what kind of week we have had, God will meet you in your situation.  

I have a friend who is the worship pastor for a large church and during Holy week he rehearses with the band Tuesday night and Wednesday night for Easter.  Thursday afternoon rehearses for Thursday and Good Friday service. Then he leads a Communion service for Holy Thursday and then leads a completely different service for Good Friday.  Oh yea, he still does 2 Easter services on Saturday evening and 4 Easter services on Sunday.  Each and every service would not take place if volunteers did not make it happen.  They are just as exhausted as the Worship Leader.  So family time at Easter does involve a nap.

AFTER EASTER, or in the springtime, everyone starts talking about vacations.  Normally our mind is running a million miles an hour trying to do way too much on too little time. When we do make an effort to try to slow down or go on vacation the first thing we do is organize a schedule.  Now that’s relaxing!  I’m reminded of the movie “Vacation” when Chevy Chase travels all across the US to see the Grand Canyon. He and his wife look out of the vastness of the Grand canyon for 3 seconds he then nod’s his head a few times and says “lets go” cause they have to get to Wally World.  A band mate from Missouri once told me this about Floridians, “People are in such a hurry to get somewhere so they can relax”.

A few years ago my wife and I were one of 3 couples who traveled to Spain for 10 days.  We traveled in a van and had somewhat of an itinerary.  We were in Torremolinos and we were looking for a lunch spot around 2 pm.  It was siesta time and all, and I do mean all shops were closed for a nap.  I can just see the sign here in the states.  “Sorry we are closed for lunch and a nap and will return later this afternoon”.  Not going to happen.  There is such a different culture overseas where dinner might last 3-4 hours and the conversation and laughter could last deep into the night.  

What ever your form of rest or rejuvenation is, make it a point to put down what is stressing you out and find your quiet place and turn everything over to God. Let him work out all the details. Enjoy your family, friends or what ever your refuge is. Know that what we are doing today will be our past soon and it forms our character. Pull back the reigns and focus on what is important and keep that thought in the forefront of your mind to make this day count.

Matthew 11:28 New International Version (NIV)

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.


God Bless

Mike



How Is Your Week Going?

So how are you doing on your Lenten sacrifice?  What did you give up or what did you do to better yourself?  I made a commitment at the beginning of the year to make this a year of Thankfulness.  Each day I want to make sure I take the time to say thank you and to be more attentive to many little things, which happen each day that I could have over looked.   

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It’s just a small thing but I gave up all sodas.  I was drinking about 3 per day.  I have had one slip in the past six weeks where I had one soda at a meeting (for the caffeine) because I do not drink coffee.  Shocker, I know, there are actually people who do not drink coffee.  

As we enter Holy Week leading up to Easter I am trying to get a better understanding of the weight this week carries. Recently in Pastor Alan’s sermon, he mentioned the shortest passage in the bible John 11: 35  “Jesus wept.”  That verse has resonated with me all week.  Many times we hear of the stories of the Bible and Jesus is instructing the disciples or preaching to crowds.  We so often forget Jesus was a real human with real emotions, real feelings.  He lost a very dear friend in Lazarus and Jesus wept.  He was hurting and the pain was real.  I remember the first time I saw my Mom cry was when her mother passed away.  It was 11 o’clock at night and I saw my Mom face down on the table sobbing.  I hurt because my Mom was hurting.  The pain was real.   

I can only imagine what kind of anxiety Jesus must have felt as he came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday knowing what would happen in the next week.   Now lets be honest here, If we are leaving on vacation, going to the doctor, dentist, first day at a new job, leaving your kids at school for the first time or missing a deadline there is sooooo much anxiety.  Jesus knowing He had to stand in front of a judge and be found guilty, as Pilot asked Jesus “Are you the king of Jews?”  And Jesus said, “ Yes, it is as you say.”  

With those words He was found guilty and tortured and put to death on a cross.

Let’s understand the horrible fashion He suffered.  He was whipped with a strap that had hooks in it to pull flesh from his body.  Then carry his own cross so he could be nailed to it.  And a crown of thorns forced on his head. Jesus felt pain.  And as he was on the cross He was human when He cried out “I thirst.”  

My heart grows heavy with the realization of the suffering He took for my sins and the sins of the world.  So when I think about me just giving up soda’s for six weeks it seem very petty on my part.  

Yes it is a celebration on Easter Sunday, because that day changed our destiny. HE IS ALIVE, HE IS NOT DEAD. Jesus was sent here to forgive our sins. May we never forget the weight of the sacrifice for the forgiveness and love He showed to us and to be thankful everyday just not on Easter.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.


Love One Another

Years ago, I remember all Americans were saying baseball was the American pastime. Now, the culture has changed especially here in the south where college football reigns. Many pastors in the south have all voiced to me their number one question when coming to a new congregation is what college football team do you root for?

Just from my perspective, NFL football has lost passion because of all of the controversy over the last couple years where football players put their beliefs and agendas above what they are paid to do. We all go to our jobs each day and try to make ends meet. The climate of the America I know does not feel sorry for the millionaires who play a kids game and get treated like rock stars who want to be heard for their beliefs. There are ways to use your notoriety to better this land we love and many athletes have done just that.

But, I think the national pastime now has became an argument about the current administration, politician, Democrat or Republican. The news will spend a gross amount of time bashing what ever the network and/or the reporter wants to get behind. Yes there are stories which need to be heard, but there are stories where the compassion of people caring for others should be told.

I used to love to end the day watching the monologue of the late night shows just to unwind and get a few laughs. I cannot stand any of the late night shows anymore for the bashing reasons. Yet they get paid millions by networks who have their agenda to fulfill.

God wants us all to love one another. His greatest commandment is to love one another. Maybe we should look ourselves in the mirror every morning and ask a few questions to ourselves.

#1 Am I lying to myself? Tell the truth to yourself.

#2 Let what I value be more important than what I’ve got to have.

#3 I will not lead myself by myself.

You are responsible for you. Get someone in your life that is bold enough to tell you the truth so you do not get full of yourself. Guess what, every bad decision you have made you have been right in the middle of. People depend on you. Your family, your job, your employees, your friends. Are you leading your self well? The point is you cannot lead well if you are not leading your self well.

When you get up in the morning start a routine where you ask yourselves questions. Lead your self well now and the bad decisions you have made in the past will be in the past and the choices we make now will lead us to being a better person with better character. Maybe the national pastime could be compassion for one another, oh yeah, and world peace.

The song “We all Bleed the same” pretty much sums it up.

We all bleed the same

We’re more beautiful when we come together

We all bleed the same So tell me why, tell me why

We’re divided Woke up today

Another headline Another innocent life is taken

In the name of hatred

So hard to take And if we think that it’s all good

Then we’re mistaken

Cause my heart is breaking

Are you left? Are you right?

Pointing fingers, taking sides

When are we gonna realize?

So Father God, I pray

That our families will come together right now

And seek Your face

You will forgive our sins

And You will heal our incredible land

In the name of the only Savior, Jesus Christ

Amen

Have a great week.

Mike Conrad