J100From the beginning, Cornerstone has been blessed with a number of talented young musicians. Earlier this year, several of our youth won a local competition and were blessed with 30 hours of recording studio time with the Audio Lab run by Brett Sexton here in Galax. They have just finished up their first CD, with 6 tracks, and it is incredible. You can learn more about the band on their website at www.splittingcedars.com and you can also pre-order the CD. If you plan on purchasing a CD, it will really help us to pre-order so they can cover the expenses of having the CD’s made.

This has been an awesome experience for these teens learning about the recording process and learning more about leading worship.  My son Luke plays guitar and mandolin on the album, so I may be a little biased, but I really think they have the talent to continue growing and recording as Christian artists. Fortunately, they also have the Godly character to match their talent. You can preview a couple of the tracks below. They will be leading worship this week at Cornerstone and they will also be opening for a Coffey Anderson concert on October 26th.

Click Here to Preorder the CD

It will also be available on iTunes and Amazon after the release next month

What Paid Facebook Means for Churches


This is a great article. I’ve struggled with the same problem. Facebook really isn’t effective for a church now unless you are willing to pay. This quote should make you think. From the article ..

Facebook without payment is like a trial version with 15 percent functionality.



It’s Ordered

September 16, 2014 — 4 Comments



Two years ago, I switched from the android world to Apple when the iPhone 5 came out.  I liked the power of android phones and the ability to customize, but I got tired of having to root my phone just to get updates that the manufacturer refused to release. The fragmentation of android is a little better now, but it’s still a big problem. For me, since I also have a Macbook Air and iPad, the iPhone just makes sense. And with the new continuity features between iOS 8 and Yosemite, the integration just keeps getting better. I’ve actually been using both new operating systems for the last month and I’m impressed. I really like the look and functionality of the new Yosemite OSX.

Today, I went ahead and reserved a 64 Gig iPhone 6.  The 6 is a good size and can still fit in my pocket. I can also trade in my 5 so I’m not paying much.  I’m looking forward to trying out Apple Pay and the new camera improvements. My phone has become a huge tool to help with my daily organization and planning, so upgrading is always exciting.  Here is an extended commercial for the new iPhone.  And, I might add, I’m still completely undecided on the Apple Watch for 2015. Right now, I’m thinking it’s too much money, but we will wait and see.


I shared last month about the Shift Media Creator App. It’s a great way to create graphics for your church. I wanted to share with you another video showing you practical ways you can use it to create announcement graphics for your church with your phone. Just snap a picture, add effects and filters, save it, and you have a great image. You can then use an app like Phonto to add text to the image. There are also other apps like Snapseed that enable you to do great effects on your photos.

It’s amazing what you can do just with your phone. You don’t have to have a big budget to create great graphics. Let’s all agree that clipart should never be used on your website or screen.  Check this out, it’s really a great example of what you can accomplish.



The past three weeks have been incredible. It’s amazing how clearly I start thinking when I actually slow down. The image above is our view each night at sunset, so it has been easy to relax and soak in the beauty of God’s creation.

The first week, we spent most of our time at the Fiddler’s Convention in Galax and with friends. The second week was spent working around the house and cleaning up. The third week has been spent at the beach, enjoying time with the family. And now, as we enter into the last week, my mind has started shifting back into thinking about the church and our future. I want to create a rhythm of life that is more sustainable and that I want to use what I have learned through these last few weeks.

What I love most about the extended time of rest is the chance to read and reflect. I have read a number of books and I have spent time in God’s Word, and I am regaining a love for learning and growing. (If I have this much time to read every month, I would definitely go broke spending money at Amazon!)  I ask for your continued prayers for me and my family as we take this time to connect and grow.

Here’s a quick rundown of my reading last for the last three weeks. I still have a stack of books I’m hoping to finish this week.


It’s been quiet here on the blog for a few weeks. Preparing for a sabbatical is a lot of work! But now, after a week of rest, I’m starting to unwind and think a little more clearly.  My pace of life has been wide open for a long time, and this break has come at the perfect time for me. It’s hard for me to slow down and not hurry, but I love what John Ortberg says, “Hurry is not about a disordered schedule, it is about a disordered heart.”

This first week my focus has been on rest. I’ve read a few books about the Sabbath and rest. In the book Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul by Lance Witt, he shares the following troubling statistics

Today’s troubling statistics on pastors paint a bleak picture.

  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America.
  • 80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles.
  • 70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.
  • Over 50% of pastors are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could but have no other way of making a living.
  • Over 50% of pastors’ wives feel that their husband entering ministry was the most destructive thing to ever happen to their families.
  • 30% of pastors said they had either been in an ongoing affair or had a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.
  • 71% of pastors stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis.
  • One out of every ten ministers will actually retire as a minister.

This really gets my attention, because I don’t want to become another statistic. I want to be a healthy pastor and leader, and I want to be a great husband and father.  At first, my plan for this sabbatical was going to be a lot of studying and reading and planning for the future. But after talking with the elders at Cornerstone, they really encouraged me to rest and to just simply listen to God.  Already, after just one week, I have found myself smiling more, laughing more, and I feel much less anxiety and stress.

Eugene Peterson shares

If we are going to take sabbaticals, let them be real sabbaticals: a willed passivity in order to be restored to alert receptivity to spirit-prayer, silence, solitude, worship…The original intent of sabbath is a time to be silent and listen to God, not attend lectures; a time to be in solitude and be with God, not “interact” with fatigued peers. If help is to be given to the pastor in midcourse, it is not going to come by infusion of intellect but by renewal of spirit.

The most enjoying part of this time has been the discussions with my family about our rhythm of life. I am thankful to our church for allowing me time to recharge. I am looking forward to getting back in September and preaching, but I’m truly excited about the next three weeks with my family.

2014-08-09 20.27.39I started a month long sabbatical this week (I’ll be posting thoughts on it here on the blog as well) This week I have been reading, relaxing, and enjoying a lot of old-time and bluegrass music. Our town hosts the oldest and largest fiddlers convention in the world each year. It’s a huge event, with people camping all week long and playing music long into the night. Here’s an aerial view of the convention.

The best part of the week is watching my kids play and compete. It’s been a great week to unwind.

My ten year old son has been playing fiddle for the last year and competed in youth old-time fiddle. My fourteen year old son placed fifth in youth mandolin and his band of youth all-stars finished fourth. Here are just a few clips of their music. It’s incredible to see the talent that the youth have.


Let me introduce you to a great app for your iPhone. The Shift Media Creator allows you to create worship graphics on your phone. You can take a photo, apply effects, add motion overlays, and then save a background video and photo straight from your phone. The best way is see how it works is to watch the video overview.

Now, let me show you a real life example that I created in just a couple of minutes.

First, here’s the photo of one of my favorite local spots to run and bike on the New River Trail.


Now, after a couple of tweaks, you can see the results.

I could see this really working well to create graphics for your church. I would love to see the ability to take a video and make it loopable. I would also like to see a few additional effects. They are also hoping to add an android version. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Click here to view the app on the iPhone App Store

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