[Feeling the groove; photo by Jennifer Hopper]
when words get in the way:
How do you describe heaven?
Sure, how many people do you know who have been there and back, right? And of those few books by people who have claimed to visit it, do you really fully believe them? Not entirely.
My point is, how do you communicate something as awe-inspiring as eternity?
And the thing about heaven is, it’s billions of people, created beings, universes of creations worshiping Jesus. The very fact that they exist is worship to Him.
I think there are moments, glorious moments, here on earth where heaven touches down. Sometimes fleeting, sometimes grand. But divine at the core.
Perfect? No. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? The divine co-mingling with something imperfect to make it glorious.
[An abstract shot of me during our Late Night set; photo by Jennifer Hopper]
jamming the midnight oil:
Thursday night July 1st, Paul Rohling and I took center stage as the Late Night act. And you couldn’t keep the smiles off of either of our faces (except when we were focused on not messing up; see below). Those that ventured out for the midnight slot were granted a rare performance of material from our duet CD, as well as some new songs, and lots of spontaneous musings. To be sure, the air was electric, and we fed off it, going on musical tangents neither of us had ever explored before. No night would be complete without Erin and Jenny joining us with their sultry voices, and Jennifer dedicated “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” to Pastor Harry Thomas, Creation founder and president, for his birthday. We’ve never had such encouraging feedback from any set as we have with this one; even Harry was getting emails the following morning saying how much fun people had. No promises, but here’s to a repeat performance in 2011!
[Paul Rohling tearing it up on his acoustic during the Late Night set.]
[Erin Rohling singing a Barlow Girls song at our Late Night set; photo by Jennifer Hopper]
[My pedals, set list, and iPhone; photo by Jennifer Hopper]
[Paul going it solo; photo by Jennifer Hopper]
[Tearing it up on the Tele. I seriously don’t know how his fingers move that fast; photo by Jennifer Hopper]
into the woods:
Two days later I had the distinct honor of addressing over 2,000 attendees from the secluded stage of “Woods 1.” I was quite surprised at just how many people actually showed up to my session, as it’s quite a hike into the forest. I shared on one of my “heart messages” entitled, “Born To Affect Culture.” We had lots of laughs, divine pauses, and even a boy’s bloody knee! (You had to be there). It’s one thing to play music for people, but it’s quite another to be responsible with the teaching and preaching of the Word. While it’s nothing new to me, I kept reminding myself, “Christopher, don’t mess this up.” Thanks, Jesus.
[Gearing up to get my preach on; photo by Ethan Taylor]
[It’s all about focus; photo by Ethan Taylor]
[Something about those woods; photo by Ethan Taylor]
worshiping with the remnant:
The majority of people head home on Saturday night after the main event. But a die-hard core of lingering music heads stays through the final night and helps pick up in the morning. And for them we held one last service. Miles McKee from Ireland gave a beautiful Gospel message; no matter how many times I hear about Jesus’ sacrifice, it never gets old…and certainly not in an Irish accent. For my part, I had the joy of leading the tent meeting in worship. It brought back many memories of tent meetings as a boy; something about the smell of canvas and grass does that.
[Pastor Harry Thomas during the Sunday Morning Service.]
seeing like the Father:
The Christian Music Industry. Say that and you’ll get a pretty broad range of responses, everything from, “I love K-LOVE!” to, “Bogus,” to, “It has it’s own industry?”
And I’ll admit it, I have my own biases. Even to the point where I question if such an industry should exist. (GodTube? Seriously?).
But there was one common thread I witnessed that literally transformed my attitude entirely. Harry Thomas.
No matter who was on stage, you could find Harry watching on, bopping, lifting his hands, singing along. At first I was stunned. Really? I mean, here’s a guy who is the cross between Jesus (on the inside) and Santa Clause (on the outside). If you don’t love the guy you have serious issues. But more than twice my age (love you, Harry), he’s the last guy you’d expect to be dancing to Skillet stage-right.
And then it struck me. He’s wasn’t looking at them, judging how much or how little of Jesus they had, or how strong their ministry was, or even how successful they were making the customers’ experience. He was latching on to whatever looked like Jesus and celebrating it.
And I realized just how much like the Father that is.
Paul’s defining words, “I rejoice that Christ is preached,” seemed to echo in the air (Philippians 1:15-18).
God doesn’t look at us and cheer for us only when we’re 90% “in” to Him; He looks for anything that pleases Him–even if it’s 1% of our lives–and celebrates it.
Standing there, I realize just how judgmental of a human being I am, especially toward the Christian world at times.
So I started dancing with him.
[Jonathan Chu of Skillet playing us a private warm-up solo backstage right just before their set. I was blown away.]
[Paul & Erin taking a stroll up the hill.]
singing with the masses:
The release of one area of my life lead to joy in countless others. And isn’t that just like God?
After watching Harry, I was free.
I’m not saying we don’t need to have healthy dialog on the state of things. I’m not saying we don’t need to grow and challenge each other to be better. But I am saying that being delivered of the need to be right, and then look for and celebrate whatever Jesus we see in people, transforms our ability to walk in tremendous joy.
And in freedom the presence of the Holy Spirit snuck up on me.
During the candlelight service as tens of thousands of candles were passed out to an entire hillside of worshipers, Pastor Harry shared on not hiding our light but allowing it shine on the hillside. And this time, it wasn’t figurative. I still feel like my Canon couldn’t do the scene justice. At first I was simply in awe of the spectacle; but as as we all began to sing, God showed up. And it hit me.
This is a glimpse of what heaven will be like.
[Pastor Harry Thomas leading the candlelight service]
[You hardly notice them, but without them what would we see?]
[Pyro for Skillet during the final night. Yeah. It was hot.]
[I love looking at other people’s set lists. This one was Toby Mac’s backstage.]