I never finished this, but it was an idea for a poem or song or something to give to my children. It expresses the things I plan to share with my kids when I take them to visit Meridian State Park someday. I’ll tell them the story of how I came to know Jesus. I’m so excited about that day! These words capture some of the emotions I feel as I think about telling them.
Anyway, maybe I’ll finish it someday, but I wanted to go ahead and post something so I wouldn’t lose it.
Come let me show you this place, this place full of grace.
Come let me show you the spring where we sat and listened to the quiet
And the outcropping where we waterbombed the bus.
Let’s go walk the carpet of bluebonnets
and run past the bees on the trail of Mesquite
As a child I ran these trails and stepped on a snake
These vines scratched my legs but helped heal me too.
We played frisbee golf and waterballoon volleyball
Chased Bulldog to soak him
James Garner taught us the Scriptures under the tree.
Ross Senter spoke around the campfire.
Let me show you the grace in this place.
Come watch the horizon swallow the sun
Breathe in the lights. See the milky way run
From up on the ledge and above the lake
Lets watch the sky. and see the stars come awake.
Come hear distant voices from the lake down below
Let’s sit and sing and wait – take it slow
If we’re lucky we’ll see a star fall from space
Here in this place – this place full of grace
And this is where I sat and sang and cried
Around the campfire On the night I gave my life to Christ.
This place is so dear. It’s a place I want you to know
Whether this place or that place, I want you to have your own place full of grace.
I really believe that the most amazing woman in the world has married me. We’re coming up on 6 years of marriage and I’m more and more amazed by her each day. Let me tell you about the her most recent extravagant efforts: As many of you know, we’re going through a tough time right now. I need to find a way to support my family by January due to some financial troubles in our church. (They’re making all full-time positions part-time – due to finances, not performance.) Anyway, God had been making it clear to me that He wants me to begin moving in some different directions. I chose not to say anything to Miranda for a couple of reasons. 1. I have come to understand that women need to feel secure. Stability and consistency are highly valued among them. 2. All my contacts and my reputation is in youth ministry. I could probably get a youth ministry job relatively easily. 3. The timing was horrible – I just lost my job and it would not have been smart to tell her that I was planning on seeking another position the hard way.
Here’s what’s so amazing about her though: I came home from work one day about a month ago and she sat me down saying that she had been praying and God had revealed something to her. She went on to explain that she would be willing to let go, even lose our house and sacrifice/scale back on our living expenses in order to wait for the “right” position. She knew that God was leading me elsewhere and wanted to give me the freedom to chase the lion that she knew I was being called to.
Whew!!. . . For me, this was incredible! I was feeling tons of pressure to “provide” for her and the kids in the same ways that I had been doing so for the past few years and yet I also knew that this new calling would probably mean we’d have to make some sacrifices. I have the most amazing bride!!! One who seeks God and who is willing to follow Him even when it’s hard to make sense of the things He’s calling us to do. She not only came to those decisions, but also recognized that out of my love for our family, I was in an awkward position – wanting to provide and wanting to follow God. So she took care of it. Before my stress grew too large to handle – even before I came to the place where I needed to find a way to tell her what I was feeling, she alleviated the stress. She is good. I love her more today than any other day. I know we’re probably going to see some hard times ahead, but I wouldn’t want to go into these uncertain times with anyone else. I’m so blessed to be able to walk through this life with her by my side.
Recently, I had the privilege to join some friends (Thanks Shelby’s!) at their bay house. It’s a beautiful place and a perfect place to “get away” a bit.
I don’t think I’ve ever really sat and watched pelicans diving for fish before. They fly up high to get a good wide perspective and scan for prey. When they see something they circle to get a good angle and then dive with abandon. Recklessly even. They aren’t very graceful – just effective. In order to survive, they must do this regularly – every day even.
I wonder what leaders can learn from pelicans? Do we escape our normal routines and seek out “high places” where we can get good perspectives? Do we continually scan for new opportunities? Do we work to get a good angle and then dive recklessly? Are we so afraid of being ungraceful that we just continue to circle without ever diving? Do we get comfortable enough that we stop working this process or do we do it daily?
I love this picture I took of Kasen and I the other day. I love seeing him riding alongside daddy’s shadow. I wish you could hear the sounds he was making at this very moment. He was laughing and smiling as he just enjoyed being with daddy and doing tricks on his bike. It’s my prayer that he always loves being near daddy’s shadow. And even more importantly, I pray that he will one day realize that it’s God’s shadow that he should seek to be near. I can’t help but think about Psalm 36, “People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” When no one else is near, when no one else can help, when no one else can protect or give him comfort, God can. I pray that he enjoys being with God like he enjoyed being with daddy that day. If so, his laughter and smiles will be more than laughter and smiles. They will be an offering of praise to the Lord. I couldn’t help but smile that day and I believe God will smile with him too.
Riding bikes is one of our favorite things to do. At 3, Kasen rides over a mile to the store to get a snack with daddy and then back home. He’s been riding without training wheels since the week of his 3rd birthday and is even beginning to do “tricks” these days. (like riding with one hand, coasting with no feet, putting his feet on the forks of the front wheel, or standing up and riding)
After church today, we came home and went outside in the back yard. Here’s the conversation I had with Kasen. (3yrs)
Kasen: Daddy, where does the wind come from?
Me: I don’t know Kasen. We can’t see it, but we can feel it.
Kasen: We can’t see Jesus, but we can feel him too.
Wow!! We’ve had a similar conversation before, but I didn’t think he’d remember it all so clearly. I told Miranda about it and she said she had talked to him about it as well. It makes me so excited to see him understand so much about God at such an early age.
The sermon today was from John 3, where Jesus is talking to Nicodemus about the work of the Holy Spirit and relating it to the wind. Seems like the wind is what God is wanting us all to remember today. I love it when His voice is so clear!!
Sometimes saying, “I’ll pray for you.” just isn’t enough. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Our friends have lived out this passage and I want to tell you about it:
We had an incredible experience last night!! A bunch of friends (both old and new) surprised us and showed up at our door Christmas caroling. It was Nov 20th. We gathered the family to hear them and when they finished singing, they explained that they knew our year had been tough (with my unemployment) and wanted to come “be the church” to us. They handed Miranda a gift bag and then (like the movie) one by one filed by and dropped $$$/gifts in. We were all in tears. In addition, we received tons of cards and beautifully written notes from people who were unable to come as well as financial gifts both large and small. Some of the small ones are incredibly touching too – from students and people who really don’t have much to give.
Their presence, encouragement, love, and gifts could not have come at a better time. Although God has carried us through this past year, we have had discussions lately about how we’d make it through the next few months. We’re learning to trust Him more and these incredible friends were the faces of God’s provision for us last night. I can’t describe how much of a blessing they really are. My friend Josh said that God could have just given us the $$, but instead, out of His goodness, He decided to bring His people together so we’d receive both $$ and encouragement. God knew what we needed. He is an incredible provider!! He is good!! And we are blessed!!! It’s truly a Wonderful Life!!! I am grateful, humbled, honored, and probably most importantly: I know the LORD and His character better because my friends and family have represented Him so well to us.
I’d also like to say a great big “THANK YOU!!” to everyone who played a role:
Those who came.
Those who sent messages or $$ or both.
Those who organized and planned.
Those who were sneaky and lied to us so it’d all work out.
Those who got the word out.
Those who drove such long distances to be with us.
Those who prayed.
Those who cooked.
We are especially grateful to God for bringing these people into our lives, for providing us with $$ and encouragement, and for motivating them to “be the church” to us.
I was a witness to a miracle a few years ago. Let me tell you the story: I used to play in a Christian worship band that recorded a couple of CDs and traveled around to play a few gigs. We played for church services, youth camps, and in coffeehouses, etc. Anyway, one night after rehearsal I was talking with my buddy Eric as we tore down the equipment. I packed my stuff up and took it out to my car and then headed back in to turn out the lights and lock up. I met Eric in the building as he was getting his stuff packed up. (He played electric guitar and carried around a lot of equipment.) We continued talking and carried his equipment out to his truck to load it up.
There it was!!! Did you catch it?? The miracle I witnessed that night was incredible!!
OK….maybe it wasn’t the parting of the Red Sea or anything, but it was still a miracle! Let me explain: I absolutely HATE loading and unloading music equipment. I’ve done it for years and it’s the worst part of being a musician. But that night as I talked to Eric, I served him by helping him carry his stuff out. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but here’s why it’s so significant. I never actually thought about it. I never made the decision to help him or to carry his stuff. As I talked to him, I just naturally picked it up without even thinking about it. Because of my friendship with him, I served him without any thought. Service just came naturally.It was almost an accident. It was out of the overflow of our friendship and my love for my friend that I ended up serving him.
I think God intended for us to serve this way too. Christians are great at making decisions to serve. They decide to go on a mission trip or to volunteer as a Sunday School teacher or VBS helper, etc. Those are great decisions and I believe we should make them as often as possible. But I also wonder: If we had a closer friendship with God, do you think we might serve Him without thinking about it? Could we end up serving God by accident? What would it take for service to be a reflex instead of a decision?? Have you ever told somebody about God without thinking about it? Does the name of Jesus come out of your mouth out of the overflow of your heart? Have you ever helped someone just ‘cause you loved them so much?
Ephesians 2:4-5a “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ.”
God’s love is what motivated Him to send Jesus to the world. His love should motivate us to serve Him. (Check out John 14:15 too.)
Prayer: Lord, invade my life in such a powerful way that I’d be able to serve you without thinking about it. Let service & love become a reflex in my life and not only a decision. Mold me into a man who reflects You in everything I do – not just when I make conscious decisions, but also in my everyday quick reactions and interactions with people. Teach me to love others like You love them and cause that love to overflow out of me in simple everyday acts of service. AMEN!
PS: Eric, if you’re out there and reading this, I miss you. Wish I we lived closer and I had the opportunity to carry your stuff to your truck again. Those were good times. I’ll say a prayer for you and your family tonight.
A request before my post: If Throne Together impacted you in some significant way, please post a comment below. I’d love to pass on some of your stories to the band. Now I’ll continue with my post.
I was at a wedding a little while back (Congrats Jon Eichler!) that made me start thinking about the band I used to play in – Throne Together. At the wedding Jon Godbold and I took a few pics in honor of the band – that’s probably what made me start remembering. Anyway, there’s no way to describe the impact that “Throne Together” had on me, so I figured I needed to write something to try to capture a part of it.
“Throne Together” was originally organized as the worship band for a Saturday Night service which Mike Mathews (Pastor @ TUMC) wanted to start. We got the band together and began practicing. Most of us had never played in a band before but we were having so much fun that we just kept working. Meanwhile the Saturday Night service start date kept getting pushed back so I talked Mike into letting us play one Sunday morning as a special event. Although it stirred up some trouble for him, Mike decided that he wanted us to begin playing every other Sunday morning and so we did.
When the service finally started we had grown into a full fledged band and adopted the name “Throne Together” from Jeremiah 3:17 “We come to the throne together for worship.” We rehearsed during the week, and played for the Saturday Night service as well as every other Sunday morning. It was during this time that the “Worship Wars” began at Tomball UMC. Although many loved the addition of the band to their traditional service, some church members weren’t too happy about it. Along with Mike Mathews, we became the target of much criticism. It was a tough time but it was also an incredible time. In spite of the critical people, we were also riding the waves of excitement among our supporters. The persecution only served to bind us together and solidify the sense of purpose we had in following the calling we felt to find new ways to express our own gratitude and relationship to God. Throne Together became a sort of family to one another. We took care of each other and supported each other. Our weekly rehearsals became a sort of small group. We studied all kinds of books (usually about worship) and together, we all grew closer to God. We hung out together outside of church. We were friends. (and still are)
We tried to find places to play outside of church as much as possible. Each year we spent a full week playing for the Texas Conference NW District Camp for about 400 High School students. These times became important for us as they allowed for us to have extended practices and lots of shared time to hang out and simply grow together. There was also a young man named Charles Jones who would sit in with us on the piano. All he needed to know was the key we would play in and he’d just jam away. (Charles is now a professional musician living in LA. He was in the movie “Dreamgirls” and plays with John Mayer, Jonny Lang, Jennifer Hudson, etc.) Playing at “camp” also allowed us to bring a few extra people along. We always had someone to run sound/video (Evan Godbold, Zach McNair, Jon Eichler, Ryan Floro, Jarrod Ambrose) for us during our worship times. Many of these “extras” eventually became musicians themselves and ended up serving in other bands and ministries. We also played pretty regularly at “His Word” Christian Bookstore/Coffeehouse where our church members would come out to support us in great numbers. One of those nights a young man named “Todd Agnew” opened up for us. (He eventually went on to have quite a bit of success himself.) Another yearly gig we had was playing for the Susanna Wesley Day School Fall Festival. Those were great times ’cause we got to play outside and let our hair down a little bit. Things were very laid back and we could experiment a bit. One of our greatest compliments actually came from one of those gigs. One young boy told his mom that we weren’t really playing and it was a recording. Also by the way, we put together a group called the “Four Tune Hunters” to play for one of the first Fall Festivals which included Jon Godbold, myself, Terry Crump, and Kurt Narum. This may very well have been the beginning of Throne Together as it brought Jon and I together to collaborate.
We recorded two CDs during our time together. “Knock Just a Little” was released in 2000 and “The Return” in 2002. Although there were a few exceptions, Jon Godbold was our main songwriter. He would bring a song to the band and then we’d collaborate a bit to figure out song structure and add musical ideas to his foundation. The songs reflected many of the feelings and thoughts that we were experiencing together. Those were fun days. We recorded in a home studio with the leadership/production expertise of one of our great friends – Mike Briscoe. Kristy, his bride was also very gracious to allow us to invade her home so regularly during those times. Mike is an incredible musician himself. If you ever have an opportunity, check him out.
Original Members were:
Steve Corn – guitar, vocals
John Creed – bass
Buck Miller – drums
Eric Courville – electric guitar
Sarah Rampy – keys
Janice Stump – vocals
Leslie Morgan (Banatwala) – vocals
Shana Googer (Gumienny) – vocals
It wasn’t long before John Creed moved away and so Jon Godbold reluctantly joined the “church band” as our new bass player. Shana Googer, Janice Stump, and Sarah Rampy also moved away. We chose not to replace them, but eventually found Chip Leitschuh to play keys. These changes brought us to what would become the backbone of the group.
Steve Corn – guitar, vocals
Jon Godbold – bass, vocals
Buck Miller – drums
Eric Courville – electric guitar, vocals
Chip Leitschuh – keys
Leslie Morgan (Banatwala) – vocals, flute
Shana Googer (Gumienny) – vocals – always a part of the group when she was in town
Tragedy struck the band when Buck died of an accidental overdose with a bad combination of prescription drugs. Other than family, I was the first to arrive on the scene that night. Buck’s son, Dustan Thrift was in Hawaii working as a trainer for the SMU football team and his mom asked me to call to give him the bad news. It was a tough night to say the least.
Eric eventually stepped out and Leslie and I moved away.
Third generation of players
After Buck died and Eric left, we had a lot of instrumental shoes to fill. Luckily, many of our original fans had grown into musicians themselves and so Josh Cook and Dale Googer took on semi-permanent roles. We also discovered Chris Montes during this time and were trying to figure out why God would send us another acoustic guitar player/vocalist when we really needed an electric player?? Once God revealed his plan to move me, it all became clear. Chris took my place and was able to lead them to become much better musicians. Here’s the last line-up:
Chris Montes – guitar, vocals
Jon Godbold – bass, vocals
Dale Googer – drums
Josh Cook – electric guitar, vocals
Chip Leitschuh – keys
Shana Googer (Gumienny) – vocals
Other Short-Term or Guest Members include:
Ray Victor – soprano sax, drums
Patti Mathews – vocals
Dan Johnson – drums
Keith Cathcart – keys, vocals
Evan Godbold – vocals, bass, guitar
Hans Googer – guitar
Josh Gumienny – guitar, vocals
Zach Godbold – bass, vocals
Andrew Gay – electric guitar
Charles Jones – piano at church camp
According to Jon, one of the very last line-ups was what he called “Throne in the Greenhouse.” At their final District Camp the members of Throne Together (Chris, Jon, Chip, Shana) joined forces with those from “Greenhouse Effect” (Zach, Dale, Josh, Andrew Gay). Jon says it was “loud of full of energy.”
The impact of Throne Together is tough to describe. We were mentioned in the Cy Falls High School Yearbook as one of their students favorite bands. (That may be our highest official honor.) The entire community of believers at Tomball UMC was directly impacted each Sunday as they were led in worship. (Some would say it was a horrible impact.) Throne Together was also a part of a beautiful movement of the Spirit during those days. Quite possibly the greatest impact was eventually seen in the number of young people (once fans) who would go on to be involved in worship music themselves. There have been quite a few worship bands who were formed from the ranks of Throne Together fans. Even more interesting is to watch the 3rd Generation of bands – people who were impacted by people who were impacted by Throne Together. There’s no way to know how many people have been touched by all these musicians, but I feel confident in saying that God rejoices over them all. And I feel humbled and blessed to have been able to be a part of it.
If Throne Together impacted you in some significant way, please post a comment below.
Each download below includes entire CD. All songs + a Digital Booklet which was created from the original artwork. These files are large (high quality) and will take a while to download. Just right click and select “save as” to download.
I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a risk taker. I love adventure. I love the adrenaline of not knowing. I love exploring. I love whitewater rafting, snow skiing, scuba diving, etc. I love the top of the roller coaster where you’re about to experience something, but you’re not quite sure how it’s gonna turn out. It’s these moments, where I truly believe I’m exercising my faith the most.
When I first decided to leave home to start a youth ministry job…When I decided to try and raise $20,000 for a student mission trip…When I knelt down to ask Miranda to marry me…When I step into the unknown…I believe those are the moments where my faith is being stretched. And I also want my life to be an expression of my faith in Jesus Christ. Even in the most uncomfortable and insecure moments, I hope my life reflects the undercurrent of trust in Jesus that somehow (by His power and grace) courses through my veins. Because of Him, I enjoy risk. Even when I’m doubtful, I still feel more alive when I’m risking something. (That’s when I’ve got to walk more closely to Jesus.)
I have also always said that I want my kids to learn to take chances – not stupid risks of course. But I want them to know Jesus personally, and I know that the life He calls them to, is one of risk. If you read the Parable of the Talents (Mt 25:14-30), it’s clear that Jesus Himself equates faithfulness with risk. I pray that my children will risk everything for the glory and name of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I want to be an example to them. By the way, if Jesus motivates your risk, it’s no risk at all.
My in-laws, Mike and Patti Mathews, are a bit of a different story. I don’t really think of them as “risk-takers.” Mike plans everything. He actually puts “Brush my teeth” on a “to do” list. By making the list, he’s making sure that all his bases are covered. He’s “playing it safe” by trying to be prepared for everything. Mike and Patti have gone on vacation to the same beach for the last 20 years and Patti has never gotten wet above her knees. (Well, she probably has been rained on.) Patti talks about Kasen, our 2yr old, breaking his neck when he jumps off the couch. I don’t know the real answer to this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard that Mike and Patti had never been on a roller coaster in their lives. These are all examples of a “play-it-safe” sort of outlook on life.
But wait. . . Mike and Patti ARE RISK-TAKERS!!! We just got back from a Hawaiian vacation. In spite of their fear, Mike and Patti both got in the water during our snorkeling excursion. Although he had never been in water deeper than 5ft, Mike jumped into a cove where the water was close to 40ft deep. The terror in his eyes was evident, but he actually ended up loving it. And check this out…Mike and Patti both went ziplining through the treetops of Hawaii! I’ll never forget the sound of Patti’s voice as she stood 70ft in the air at the edge of the first line contemplating whether she could do it or not. They both faced their fears.
They were scared for sure. But COURAGE is NOT the ABSENCE of FEAR! It’s ACTION IN SPITE of FEAR!!
As I look a little closer at their lives, I realize they’ve been risk-takers all along. They both gave their lives to Christ. That’s not a risk, but it certainly feels like one when you’re taking that first step into a new life. They both gave up a “safe” career in order to go to seminary. And my experiences in watching how Mike leads/disciples people, it’s clear that he encourages and lovingly pushes people to take more risks as they follow Jesus. Who knew??? Mike, the play-it-safe list maker, is also a risk taker!!
GOOD NEWS!! I want my children to be risk-takers and now I realize they’ve got “RISK in the BLOOD” from both sides of the family!!
(PS – Mike and Patti, I’m sorry for misjudging you.)
Miranda asked a simple question. “Where is Kasen?” I didn’t know. We had been home for a few hours from our vacation and were relaxing on the floor of the living room. Kasen had been right there with us just minutes before. We yelled for him. . . No answer or any noises from other parts of the house. We got up and started looking. There are only a couple of places he could be – the living room, the kitchen, his room, our room. (He can’t open doors yet and we keep the rest of them closed.) In a matter of seconds we had searched the whole house – panic was quick to follow. Miranda and I both were yelling his name. I checked behind the closed doors. And then the closets. Fear escalated. I remembered a story of a friend who had climbed in a trunk (Caylin Brashear) and I checked our trunk – then Kasen’s toybox. Miranda was screaming with a voice I had never heard. Shrieks. Her breathing had an unnerving “ohhh. . .” sound. She met me in the hall and screamed, “the pool.” Kasen loves the “poo” – maybe he could be there?.?. but logically, he couldn’t get the back door open. Could someone have come in the house and taken him? Could he have somehow gotten a door open? My mind raced. I was desperate. . .I ran outside slamming my face into the patio door. No. . .he wasn’t in the pool. . . Heart racing, I ran back inside.
Miranda was holding him and yelling to me that she found him. Evidently, he had been laying in his bed the whole time with his covers over his head. We had each been in his room multiple time during those moments. He likes to take Kesleigh’s binky and then run and hide getting his little oral fix ’cause he knows he’s not allowed to have one. Evidently, that’s what he had done and probably fallen asleep. Or maybe he didn’t answer our calls ’cause he was hiding.
Either way, it couldn’t have been more than 3 minutes total. But it was enough. Enough to realize how quickly things can go downhill. Enough to realize how great our love for our children is and how quickly it can turn into fear. This kind of experience changes a man.
As I look back on it I wonder, “Where was my faith during these moments? What happened to trusting in the Lord? Why did I panic so quickly?” I am a weak man. Sinful. Even at my best, I am still very frail. I need God.
Prayer: Lord, take care of my children. You have given them to me for a few years and I truly want to be a good steward. I want to be a great father and a good example. I want to protect them. I want to represent You to them. All of these things are noble thoughts, but the bottom line is that I can’t do any of these things near as well as You. Lord, cover them with Yourself. Protect them when I fail them. Hold them close and keep them safe. Lord, in the same moment that I pray for their protection, I also pray that You will ultimately use them in mighty ways. May they be arrows (Psalm 127) that break into enemy territory taking ground for Your kingdom. May they understand You and the strength they have in You so well that they are willing to follow You into situations that may even seem dangerous to others. May they be in Your hands at all times, with or without me, in every situation – that’s the safest place to be. AMEN.