For those of us who have been a part of church for our whole lives, it just seems natural to be there. If someone were to say, “Why do you go to church on Sunday?” you may be tempted to say that you’ve always gone to church on Sunday. That’s pretty true. But what about those who came for a while, stopped coming for a noticeable amount of time, and then returned? What do you think they hear most when they come back?
“Where have you been in so long?!”
That’s an honest question. You very well may be wondering where they’ve been and why they haven’t been at church. But may I suggest something? Don’t lead off with that question. In fact, don’t ask it at all. Honestly, it has probably taken them a long while to return to church because they were afraid of that very question and they may or may not have a good answer for it. And, for the record, it is none of our concern where they have been and why it’s taken so long for them to return. Instead, go this route:
“I am SO glad to see you today! I’ve missed you incredibly. Here, come sit with me.”
The last thing an infrequent churchgoer needs is someone prying in their business wondering why. The first thing they need is a hug, a sincerely receptive attitude, and an invitation to worship with someone. Consider this the next time you see someone at church you haven’t seen in a long time.
For my first book of 2021, I chose one that I’ve had now for just over a year. It had been on my Amazon Wish List and my in-laws so graciously got it for me in 2019. I’m a huge fan of Matt Boswell and his perfect voice, perfect musical talent, perfect tan, perfect hair, perfect songwriting, perfect…well, you get the gist of it. Anyhow, it was nice to finally pick it up and read it.
Normally, I am not one to gravitate towards books with many authors. In my opinion, it is very difficult to adjust to a different style of writing with each chapter. However, Boswell carefully selected extremely qualified individuals to contribute to this book, and edited it with care. This process cranked out a well-organized and cohesive book that made sense. Some authors I was familiar with and some I was not. I loved hearing from people like Boswell, Matt Papa and Mike Cosper. Each was given a subject and all the chapters were titled “The Worship Leader and X.” Great subjects were addressed and the down-to-earth language prevented me from having to read paragraphs 2-3 times.
My favorite chapter was one of Boswell’s own on the subject of family worship. I’ve heard plenty of folks discuss this topic before and most of them have a pie-in-the-sky idea of what family worship can be. Boswell first addresses why family worship is important, saying “Our task is to lead our home…to the reality of the gospel.” He then gives a glimpse into his own life and suggests ways to have family worship even with small, rambunctious, short-attention-span kids. Knowing that many readers will run into this issue when trying to have family worship, he says “We adapt to where our children are at, meet them there, and trust God for the results.” How much more gospel-centered our homes would be if parents adopted such a strategy.
I highly recommend this one to all worship leaders no matter your setting (church, camp, small group, student ministry, etc.). This could easily be used in a collegiate church music course as it has subjects and viewpoints from a variety of today’s worship leaders. Links to purchase are below!
In a slight adjustment, I’ve decided to revamp how I review worship songs. It makes more sense, I think, to just review one song at a time so to make the song stick. With that begin said, here we go!
Christ Our Hope in Life and Death (written by Keith Getty, Matt Boswell, Jordan Kauflin, Matt Merker, & Matt Papa) was inspired by first question/answer the Heidelberg Catechism. I think I first came across it in 2018 when I found an anthem at JWPepper and really loved it. I bought the congregational arrangement and stowed it away for future use, though I often pulled it from the shelf to play on my own time. Then in October, when I went to Tennessee for my piano teacher’s celebration of life, the worship leader asked me to do this song with him at the service. Once I listened to the recording and played it with Jeremy, I could not get it out of my head. The words are not lofty, the melody is quite simple, and TRUTH ABOUNDS. I was glad to introduce it to my church this morning and look forward to using it more this year.
Q: What is your only comfort in life and death?
A: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.
I proudly read 20 books in 2020. That’s more than I normally read. It’s a bit shameful, but with three small kids running around, there isn’t a whole lot of time for leisurely reading. I read some great ones this year. I’ll include the entire list and review my top 5.Comfort from a Country Quilt by Reba McEntire
Steven: A Runner’s Life by Jennie McNeal
A Hill on Which to Die: One Southern Baptist’s Journey by Judge Paul Pressler
Letters to an American Christianby Bruce Riley Ashford
Of all the books I read in 2020, this one wins the prize for the best read. I’d had it for over a year before I pulled it off the shelf, and what a timely book this turned out to be. Since 2018, I’d felt politically homeless as an evangelical Christian. I’d spent years as a Republican, but recently, I began to see places where my faith was at odds with the party platform in a few places. I knew I could not in good faith affiliate with either major party at the time, so I felt politically homeless. Dr. Ashford addresses those questions in this fantastic work and assures believers in America that it is okay not to have permanent political allegiances. In fact, he encourages believers to constantly square political ideologies with orthodox Christianity to see how they square up. It was a breath of fresh air in this year of political turmoil and chaos. Whether you find yourself on right, left, or middle of the political spectrum, Letters to an American Christian serves as a great tool for believers who care about American politics.
Reba: My Story by Reba McEntire
One Assembly: Rethinking the Multisite and MultiService Church Models by Jonathan Leeman
My Affliction for His Gloryby Daniel Ritchie
I find it gratifying to read books by people you know. My family has known Daniel for a number of years and welcomed him into our home on several occasions. He is armless from birth and his testimony is incredible. This is one I’d also had for some time, but never could find the right moment to pick it up and read it. It’s a short book that would fit in perfectly between two long or hard reads. Daniel tells his story and how God has shown his grace to Daniel despite his physical limitations. He has been given a platform
Standing Firm by Vice President Dan Quayle
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
A classic. One of the most cherished works in all of Christian allegory finally found its way to my house this year. Becca got me a beautiful copy of this novel and I was able to enjoy it pretty early on in quarantine. John Bunyan’s novel (accepted by many as the first novel written in English) is a great resource for Christians who may struggle to understand some of the Bible’s teachings. It’s helpful in putting things into context and I highly recommend it.
What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert
With All Due Respect: Defending American with Grit and Grace by Nikki R. Haley
Letters to the Church by Francis Chan
This is one I began reading last year and never finished for some reason. I was glad to pick it back up again and finish it this year. As someone who has been a part of the American church since birth, it was quite a bombshell to me to read accounts of churches in China and other Asian countries who meet in secret. What was an even bigger bombshell was the idea that many believers in countries where the church is persecuted pray for the opportunity to be sacrificed for the sake of the gospel. It made me stop and think about the state of the American church. I wonder what we could experience if we simply got back to the gospel and relied on it fully. Francis Chan did an amazing job pointing out areas of American Christianity that simply are extrabiblical and, at times, distracting from the essentials laid out for us in the New Testament.
God in the Whirlwind: Stories of Grace from the Tornado at Union University by Tim Ellsworth
The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership by James C. Hunter
Hymnology by David Music
Wonderful Words of Life: Hymns in American Protestant Theology & History ed. by Mark Noll and David Mouw
Tough Choices by Carly Fiorina
Carrying on my favor towards biographies and autobiographies, I was glad to find this book pretty cheap on Amazon. I’ve been a Fiorina admirer for 5 years and reading her memoir about her early life and career at Hewlett-Packard was enjoyable. Though I got lost a few times in the technical/corporate jargon, I managed to get past it and enjoy reading her account of her time in the corporate world. This makes the second book I’ve read of hers and I’m looking forward to reading Find Your Way in 2021.
The Unquenchable Worshiper: Coming Back to the Heart of Worship by Matt Redman
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas ed. by Nancy Guthrie
I was able to finish my final two books of the year, completing my self-imposed “20 in ’20” challenge. This year provided more time than ever for leisurely reading, and I’m so proud of the ones I read. Either at the end of the year or right before the start of next year, I’ll give a review of my top five from the year.
Each year, the Methodist church in our town puts on a live drive-thru nativity and they do a SPECTACULAR job with it. This year, they secured a powerful floodlight to serve as the Star of the Magi. Our girls saw it out the front door and of course we had to go see it. We had all intentions of going anyway, but their seeing it and inquiring about it made it more special.
Rebecca and I celebrated five years of marriage over the weekend. We spent the evening at Longhorn’s (where our dinner was paid for by some church family who saw us there!), and then we went to tour the Old Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville. The director of museums at Georgia College plays in my wind ensemble at church, so we were happy to finally make a trip out there to see it. Marrying that girl was one of the best decisions I ever made and I’d do it again without hesitation.
Open House for FBC Preschool meant that K is finally getting ready to go it! She was supposed to start in August, but they opted not to open in the fall. She is very excited to go and I’m excited for her to go too. Her teachers are so precious and we love what goes on there. It’s such a great place for kids as they prepare for elementary school.
Country music lost perhaps the most legendary icon it’s ever known. Charley Pride’s tragic death from COVID-19 will be a defining moment in 2020. My grandmother has always loved his music and introduced me to his music when I was younger. He was a trailblazer in the country music industry and I’ll never forget his last impact. For now, I’ll continue to play “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin” as many times as my kids request it.
The kindness continued last week as we remained cooped up in the house because of COVID-19. Several came to our rescue when we discovered forgotten items on our grocery list while others covered for me at church. Apparently, it takes a village to keep the Brashers going!
Our quarantine activities have consisted of crafting homemade ornaments, doing puzzles, playing with GarageBand, purging/organizing the closets, and trying to keep the place cleaner than usual. Might as well do something productive and positive when you can’t go anywhere.
The cabin fever set in at the end of the week. Our only outings have been to the bank, fast-food restaurants, and the thrift store for drop-off. We are all ready to get back to our respective places even if it’s for just a few days. This quarantine thing is for the birds.
The first half of the week was spent in Mud Creek, much to my enjoyment. It’s always good to go back to the roots and enjoy some relaxation. Our days with the extended family included playing in leaves, riding the four-wheeler, building a fire, and enjoying lots of good food. We, of course, made time for more important things like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I only make Becca watch that once each season, so she suffered through it on our last night there.
Several members of our church family displayed incredible acts of kindness over Thanksgiving weekend. We were doubly blessed.
Our wins column is super-short because we discovered on Wednesday that Becca had contracted the coronavirus. That sent our plans into a tailspin and called for some massive rescheduling. We packed up everything and headed back to Gray on Thanksgiving Day to begin our 2-week quarantine. Thankfully, her symptoms are extremely mild and none of the rest of us seem to be displaying anything. I guess it was bound to happen at some point!
Because choir is not meeting for a season, I was able to worship with our students in the chapel on a Wednesday night. In 2.5 years of ministry in Gray, I’ve never been able to do that. I was incredibly blessed by our youth praise band (led by my wife in an unforeseen circumstance) and our student pastor did an incredible job teaching from 1 John. I don’t get to interact with students very much, so this was a real treat for me.
I found some DELIGHTFUL holiday recipes that I absolutely cannot wait to try my hand at next month. My favorite parts of Christmas are the decorations and the desserts. I have a bonafide sweet tooth. I’ve tasted a few of them before (Reindeer Puppy Chow), but I’m looking forward to trying some new ones (Cinnamon Roll Pancakes). You can see the whole list here.
The news headlines announcing advances in COVID-19 vaccines were welcome signs last week. I’m thrilled to see many medical advances to combat this pandemic and hope to see more positive news stories about it this year.
As much as I LOVE decorating for Christmas, having small kids and a dog around stifle the amount of decorating I am able to do. After putting all our ornaments on the tree, I took them all off and instead only put up the cheap, store-bought ornaments. It’s a simple fix that will be probably last the next three years, but we do what we have to do. A couple of small decorations on the porch, a cheap tablecloth & centerpiece, and a few decorative hand towels will suffice us for now.
We dedicated our youngest, G, to the Lord on November 1st. It was a sweet moment and he looked some kinda cute in his sweater vest that morning. He was dedicated alongside 7 other kids that day and we were so proud to have many family members around for the moment.
I enjoyed Election Night 2020 from the comfort of my living room couch. Watching the returns every two years is an invigorating thing for me and most likely the only time I feel comfortable with numbers. While watching ABC News (my news outlet of choice), Becca commented on the guy running the map/giving out possible scenarios and said, “Who would ever want that job?” I quickly responded that if I ever wanted a job on Election Night, that would be the one. I kept up with races that I considered important (mostly Senate races, TBH), and then of course went to bed around 12:30 when no presidential candidate had reached 270. We’ve learned a lot since then, and I look forward to doing it all again in two years at the 2022 midterm elections.
I finally finished Tough Choices by Carly Fiorina (17th book this year!). This was the first book she wrote and it came about a year after she was fired by HP. I had begun it in the summer, but had to take a break to focus on my reading for grad school. The majority of the book was quite good though I tended to get lost in the business jargon every once in a while. I’m a sucker for autobiographies and I greatly admire Carly Fiorina. So I was happy to finish this book and look forward to reading her most recent book, Find Your Way, next year.
My heart breaks for the nation over and over again. I am so proud to live in a country where the right to vote is protected by law. I enjoy the freedoms that are afforded to me…freedoms for which others have died that I could enjoy. I just wish folks could understand that a vote for a person is a vote for a person and whatever happens is a result of the democratic process. There seems to be no patience anymore and we forget that people are imperfect. I long for kindness and cordiality. Perhaps my standards are just too high.
Warm weather permeated through middle Georgia for the beginnings of November. I wore t-shirts and short-sleeved polos and shorts for most of the month. It was only after we passed the midpoint did it begin to feel like fall again. I knew when I moved further south that I would experience warmer temperatures. But…it’s…NOVEMBER!!!!
In 2008, I was hopeful that John McCain would take the presidency, but had a sure feeling that President Obama would win. And he did…soundly. In 2012, the first year of my voting eligibility in a presidential year, I became very involved in the Republican Party in my college’s town and hoped and predicted that Mitt Romney would squeak out a win with some help from New Hampshire, Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado, and Ohio. He lost each of those states and the election. In 2016, I had two predictions: either Hillary Clinton would demolish Trump in a historic landslide, or Trump would squeak it out in the end. Though HRC won the popular vote by 3 million, Trump shocked the nation with his Electoral College win, particularly in the Rust Belt. Pennsylvania was his saving grace.
So, here we are again. I love Election Day. My day is usually spent reading the headlines and preparing for the results to come in. I love to stay up late and watch the returns. It gives me some sick thrill and my adrenaline is on a high. Lots of great memories flood back to my days with College Republicans and the Madison County GOP at our election night watch parties. I’ll do the same tonight. Start the (full) pot of coffee around 7:30pm after many east coast results come in. And then sit on the couch with Twitter close by to see what happens. Utilizing historical patterns & polling data from RealClearPolitics.com, I used the interactive map on 270 To Win to make my predictions. I have two: president and Senate.
Logan’s 2020 Presidential Election Prediction
Notice that I’m predicting neither candidate gets to 270. I’m predicting that President Trump will hang on to the battleground states of Ohio, Iowa, Florida (his new home state), Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina. I think Vice President Biden will flip Arizona (!!!), Wisconsin, and Michigan. I also think Maine will split its electoral votes once again due to their state laws allowing it. If this happens, both candidates land at 269. I’m fully convinced that no one on either side likes this scenario. In this case, the election goes to the House of Representatives & the Senate. In the House, each state casts one vote for president based on a majority poll of that state’s delegation. The same method happens for vice president in the Senate. Despite the Democratic majority in the House, the incumbent currently has the advantage based on state representation. So, provided the SCOTUS doesn’t get involved, I’m predicting that President Trump & Vice President Pence will squeak by and land another term.
Logan’s 2020 Senate Projection
The Senate projection is quite a bit more complex. Considering battleground states electing senators, here are my thoughts.
State with GOP hold:
Thom Tillis (R) ofNorth Carolina will barely hang on to his first-term seat. His opponent has proved quite competitive, despite a sexting scandal. I’m also predicting that Mainewill flip to Sara Gideon (D), after being in Republican hands, albeit moderate, since 1997. I believe Arizona will not only flip to Democrats presidentially, but will also be won by Mark Kelly (D), who is the husband of former representative, Gabby Giffords. Many of you remember the special Senate race in Alabama 4 years ago when Doug Jones (D) won. This was a major victory for Democrats largely due to the Republican nominee’s miserable sexual misconduct allegations. He has served for 4 years, but I strongly believe Alabama will flip back to the Republicans with former Auburn coach, Tommy Tuberville. Considered the most vulnerable Republican in 2020, Cory Gardner (R) of Coloradowill probably see his Senate term come to an end tonight with a victory by that state’s most recent and very popular governor, John Hickenlooper (D). Though Steve Bullock (D) is also an incredibly popular governor in Montana, I don’t see him flipping that state’s Senate seat. Therefore, the Republicans will retain the seat currently held by Steve Daines (R). That brings us back down south to my state of Georgia. Not to appear biased, but I think control of the Senate will end up in the hands of Georgia and we won’t know its outcome this year. Georgians have the rare distinction of electing both senators in the same year thanks to Johnny Isakson’s retirement in 2019. Senator David Perdue(R) is running for reelection to a second a term and Senator Kelly Loeffler (R) is running in a special election to serve out the remainder of Sen. Isakson’s term. I think Sen. Perdue will hang on to his seat and by a mostly comfortable margin. The special election (the one that will determine control) will most certainly go to a runoff, and I predict that Sen. Loeffler will lose to Rep. Doug Collins(R) who will then face Rev. Raphael Warnock(D), a pastor from Atlanta. Collins is extremely popular among Republicans here in the Peach State, and I think he’ll win the runoff in January 2021 (an awfully late time for a runoff, in my opinion). I’m not sure how close that election will be, but I do see Republicans keeping this seat. This would keep the Senate in GOP control, but only by one vote.
I’d love to hear your predictions as well, so leave them in the comments!