Thursday, May 31, 2007

Update from Mexico

Our trip is going extremely well. The team is working hard, and everyone is excited to be making a difference in the lives of these people. I plan to write more later, but I thought I'd share some pictures so you can see what we have been doing these last couple of days.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


This will probably be my last post for the next few days because I am leaving in the morning with a team from Grace Family for a missions trip to Juarez, Mexico! We are going to be working with missionaries there, helping them build a facility for the elderly. Please pray that God will use us to share His love and hope with everyone that we meet, and pray for safety for the team.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

We spent this weekend heavily focused on family time and hanging out with friends. On Sunday, we spent the afternoon at Anne's parents house. Lately, we've become fans of a card game called Hand and Foot. It's rare to go through a Sunday afternoon without somebody getting a game going. A couple of weeks ago, Morgan and Sydney asked if they could learn how to play. We didn't really think that they would be able to understand all of the rules, but we showed them anyway and they had been playing by themselves because we didn't think they could play with the adults. Well, yesterday it was decided that the "adults" would play one game while the "kids" played a game with me. I am not proud to say that they both beat me! In fact, it wasn't even close. But, it made me feel better when they did the same to the other adults later in the evening.

Today, we had our Memorial Day picnic at my aunt Cheryl's house in Palm Harbor. The kid's always have fun with Lauren, and having uncle Bob throw them in the pool. At sunset we went to Wall Springs Park for a nice walk and a beautiful view. At the end of a pier that looked out over the water I told the girls to take a mental picture, because the scenery's going to be a lot different in Texas. Oh yeah, we're also still trying to sell the house, and had become a bit lax in keeping everything spotless for a showing. So, this morning as we were getting ready to leave for the picnic, we received a call from our realtor letting us know that someone wanted to see the house! Arrgh! Of course we wanted them to see it, so we all ran around and cleaned up and the house looked great when we left. Of course, it sure was nice coming home to a clean house after the picnic! :)

We have a winner!

20 bonus points to Angie Macy for doing her research and figuring out the Random Abstract was the name of an album by Branford Marsalis released in 1988. (In fact, she found a good review of the album which I'll post below.)

10 bonus points to my sister Angela Malz who also guessed it, just a little later. She probably remembered hearing it in the room next door and being annoyed. :)

5 bonus points to Stephanie for at least responding, even if she didn't really hazard a guess. :)

Thanks for the participation!

Here's the review of Random Abstract:

For those people
searching for an album that represents the highest
level of music being produced at the time, Random
Abstract is what you've been searching for. Recorded
in 1987 at the time where the direction of jazz had
been heading in a different direction for quite some
time, Random Abstract re-focuses that bearing to what
some people may call mainstream today. As the third
jazz album to be released by Branford Marsalis there
is evidence that an artist mature beyond his years has
emerged. In not only sound but also his ability to
create melody's that can stand on their own, without
the aid of a band to back them up.

Random Abstract comprises of several tributes to some
of the main contributors to Branford's concept of
music. The two most memorable is Crescent City, a
tribute to John Coltrane's 1963-1964 period, and his
`steep plays bean' version of I Thought About You. You
can tell there is a close place in Branford's heart
for Ben Webster when he plays a whole song as accurate
as he can in one persons style. The hidden track on
his latest release Contemporary Jazz is only testimony
to this fact. The other is a tip of the cap to the
Blue Note concept with a fantastic rendition of Wayne
Shorter's Yes And No. Yesterdays is also a highlight
not only because of the groups cohesiveness as a unit
but also the unusually slow tempo.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bonus Points

I'm very disappointed that I have not been able to award the bonus points mentioned at the end of my Random Abstract post. In fact, nobody even ventured a guess! Well, I'll give you another day to give it a shot. I was kind of expecting to hear from Shakadu, because I thought he might be able to figure it out. All guesses will be worth 5 points. If someone gets it right, they will get 20 points! Here's a clue: It's a reference to a title and it has to do with music. Oh, the points...they're not worth anything in the real world, but they are extremely desirable here, so start guessing. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2007


This week I have spent a lot of time in prayer asking God to help me truly TRUST Him through this moving process. In fact, I've realized that I'm more of a worrier than I ever thought. And so, today as I was reading the bible, I came across a passage that hit me right between the eyes. In 2 Corinthians 6:8-10, Paul shares his experiences, "through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; HAVING NOTHING, YET POSSESSING EVERYTHING." (caps are mine) Wow! I have been focusing so much on my problems, that it's clouded me from seeing all of the blessings that are all around me. The truth is, I have so much to be thankful for. I have so many experiences to draw upon where God has provided and sustained me. Instead of worrying, I should be thanking Him for already providing the answers. "Thank you God for helping me to see that you are taking care of me, and that with you, I have everything!"

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Random Abstract

With all of the preparations for our upcoming move, the uncertainty about when we will sell our house and what house we will be moving to, as well as keeping up with my regular responsibilities, my mind has been a little more random than normal...

Just finished watching American Idol. I'm glad that Jordin won, but we had a split vote in our house. Morgan and I were Jordin fans, but Anne and Sydney were Blake fans. Samantha couldn't split her affection, she was voting for Jor-ake. :) Last night, Anne and I were in a "call a thon" and I'm glad to see that my extra perseverance paid off!

Speaking of random music...yesterday I loaded the Yahoo music jukebox with the new album from Linkin Park. I was interested to hear what Terry Storch had been raving about. Then I decided to check out Gretchen Wilson, (Texas prep music) and I couldn't pass up Andre Previn playing Gershwin. Tonight I added the new Maroon 5 album. I've been waiting for this one...

Whatever happened to Basia? When I was in college (half a lifetime ago) she was the freshest voice around. I was reminded of her while I was waiting in line for takeout at Pei-wei. They were playing the track From now on (Live). I loved how great her voice sounded with just an acoustic guitar and simple percussion. I have a dream that one day I'll be waiting in line at a take out store, and hear my music played in the background. Lofty stuff, I know....

I had to open a new bank account since my current bank doesn't have any branches in Frisco. I looked online and found a Washington Mutual branch in Frisco, and there's one here too. Even though I originally chose it for the free checking account, I was pretty impressed with their approach to banking. (It may not be new, but I haven't shopped for a bank in a while.) Instead of the usual line up of tellers, these tellers stand at kiosks in the middle of the bank. The bank has a real open feel to it which I find refreshing. I'm always thinking of ways to make the church feel inviting, and it seems like these guys are doing the same thing with banks. I like their slogan too, "free checking, free smiles."

I just finished reading (actually listening to the audio versions) two books by Rob Bell. Velvet Elvis talks about doctrine and the basis of Christian faith. He uses an interesting metaphor and says that our interpretations of the bible and doctrines should be more like springs of a trampoline, rather than bricks that are built upon. I'm still processing that...

His second book is called Sex God. I liked this much more than I thought I would (I'm not a big fan of titles for shock value). The premise is that God has created us as both spiritual and sexual beings. If we are too far on the side of sexuality we become animalistic, but if we repress and ignore our sexuality we become angelic, which is not who God created us to be. You'll have to read the book to get the longer explanation. But, it makes a lot of sense and also is a great celebration of what true love is all about.

Well, that's all I've got for tonight. Oh, one more thing...20 bonus points to the first person who knows the significance of this post's title.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Tonight I was checking my sitemeter just to see if anyone is actually reading my posts, when I noticed that someone had been referred to my site from another blog called revmcgator. I knew right away that it had to be my friend Tim who I worked alongside in my first position in full time ministry in N. Ft Myers, FL. I was eager to read his blog and catch up on the happenings in his life, since it's been some time since we've seen each other. I had read almost all of his posts, and was getting ready to leave the site, when I got to the very bottom of his first post titled "Getting Started". I was shocked to see the last sentence that read, "Thanks to Mark Lunsford for inspiring this." Since I am still a blogging novice, I was surprised to think that anyone would be inspired by my blog, but I appreciated the sentiment and left a comment for him that he had made my day. And, since it made me feel so good, I thought I would take a minute to give kudos to the person who inspired me to start this blogging journey too. My friend Roy over at Hooked on Grace is a member of my church, and one of my favorite guys to hang out with. One day I saw his blog address attached to an email he sent me. His writing is always thoughtful and thought provoking, and I am continually blown away by his insight. When I finally decided to start my blog, he was one of the few people I told about it. So, thanks Roy for your example and for helping me catch the vision for this. You inspire me!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rethink Christian

I never watch commercials anymore. In fact, since I bought my first Tivo seven years ago, I have come to loathe the two and a half minutes plus that the networks expect me to sit through while waiting for the next segment of my favorite television show to come back on. But, every now and then, a commercial catches my eye and I forget to push fast forward. That happened last night. As I started watching it, I couldn't figure out what product it was advertising, until the last few seconds when the brand came into view. Obviously Anne wasn't as stricken, as she was clearing her throat and pushing fast forward on her "air remote." It was a commercial for the Saturn auto company. You may have seen this, but I'll try to describe it to you. (You can see it for yourself here)

(There is an image of a fist showing four gaudy rings) Rethink Bling (Changes to a fist with a simple wedding band).

Rethink Power (A picture of a power plant chimney billowing smoke changes to a picture of a large solar panel).

Rethink Strength (a picture of a body builder changes to Lance Armstrong.)

Rethink Status (a picture of a car with a big engine "V12 Biturbo" changes to a picture of a hybrid engine)

The commercial ends with the phrase "Rethink American."

The commercial is trying to tell us that the game has changed, and Saturn is changing the way you should think about American car companies. I can't verify that all of that is true, but I was definitely impressed with the commercial. I started thinking about it today...what if we substituted "Rethink American" with "Rethink Christian"? Should we re-look at that way we think about our faith in the context of bling, power, strength, and status? Here's my new take on this commercial....

Rethink Bling - The world's view is that he who dies with the most toys wins. But Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Rethink Power- 2 Timothy 3:2-5 sums up the state of affairs in our world today. "They will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money,...lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power." But Paul urges us that in spite of this we should "not be ashamed to testify about our Lord" (1:8) because "God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of POWER, of love and of self-discipline." (1:7)

Rethink Strength- The world tells us never to show weakness, but 2 Corinthians 12:10 says that "when I am weak, then I am strong."

Rethink Status- The world says that you're not cool unless they say you are, but God says that you mean so much to Him that he sent His only son, Jesus, to take our sin so that we can have a personal relationship with Him. (John 3:16). In fact, we are God's children. That means that we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17) Sounds like more status than Paris Hilton!

Sometimes we can lose sight of how God wants us to see these things and get caught up in the same mindset that surrounds us. But maybe it's a good time to stop, step back and "Rethink Christian."

Monday, May 14, 2007


It's looking like my posts are hanging out in the "Life" category more than normal. But, I guess that's the way it goes when you're making a life-changing decision that's taking your family half way across the country. :) Well, to give you an update...This weekend we cleaned out the garage and had a garage sale. Last weekend was focused on preparing the house as it is now "on the market." We spent Friday and Saturday trimming hedges, putting mulch in the beds, and pressure washing the cage over the pool and the deck, which was an incredibly tough job. Many thanks to Anne's parents and my parents who came and rescued us from the overwhelming tasks. I didn't get a picture, but I don't think I'll forget anytime soon seeing my father-in-law fully clothed, soaking wet, in the middle of the pool, standing on a ladder trying to spray the mold off the pool cage cross beam. I was sore at the end of the day, and I thought to myself, surely Anne's father is sore too. So, I asked him the next day, and he said that he wasn't. So now I know I'm just really out of shape. :) Anyway, through all of this, our kids were helping out some, playing more often, and generally just enjoying life through the process. I got a glimpse of their perspective when my 9 year old daughter Morgan let me read an entry in her journal from that day. It made me smile so big that I asked her permission to re-print it on my blog. Here is her take on the day (spelling errors and all)

"Today is 'day 2' of house cleaning. Getting ready to move is hard work. 'clean, clean, clean'!! I usaly get the easy part. SWIMMING!!! And sometimes SWINGING!!! I'd like to move more often! Mimi and Papa came over. Now all of the adults are working. We are just swimming. It is a lot of fun. Just sitting here in such beutiful weather. I love the smell of freash mulch. My parents are laying new freash mulch. They want our house to look perfect for the open houses. I think this work is hard and boring. I can't wait till Tuseday. On Tuseday we get to tell everybody at school we're moving. I am not happy that I am moving because I will miss my friends, but I am happy that we are moving."

My favorite line is when she says, "All of the adults are working. We are just swimming. It is a lot of fun." Sometimes it's just a matter of perspective. :)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Telling the kids

As you may expect, Anne and I were a little nervous about telling our girls about our upcoming move. This was the first big family decision that we have made since they were old enough to have an opinion about it. We decided to tell them as soon as we arrived back in Tampa. All of us gathered in the living room and I told them that we had to have a family meeting. They knew that we had just come home from Frisco, and they knew about the church since we had been there on a family vacation before. I started out by saying that the church in Texas had really been growing, and that they needed another pastor on staff, and that they had asked me to join them. I told them that their mom and I had been praying about it, and that we felt that this was what we were supposed to do, and that we were going to be moving to Texas. It seemed like they immediately understood what that meant, and how that impacted all of us, and we all became a bit emotional. After a few minutes of crying together, they began to ask questions about the new church, the new town, the new house. One question they had about the church was, Did it have a children's ministry? We explained to them that that was very important to us too, and that we had even sat in the children's service. We told them that even though it wasn't going to be the same, we knew they would like it. Scott, the children's pastor there, had given us t-shirts with their church's kids ministry logo on it for the girls. I didn't know how they would respond to them, but they have ended up wearing them all the time. I think it's been kind of a "connection point" for them. When the time came that they could tell their friends at school, Morgan wore her shirt and explained that this was her new children's ministry. I have been amazed at how resilient the girls have been. In fact, after our family meeting that night, we decided to do our devotions together. The girls brought their devotional books out and shared ones that they felt applied to our situation. One read a page about "worry." Another read about being "sad". It was a special night. Anne and I commented to each other that it was so great to see our children applying the bible to their own lives in the proper context. So far, they are excited about the move and the new possibilities. I'm sure that there will also be times of sadness as we get closer to leaving, but their positive reaction has been a real relief.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

BIG, BIG News!

The time has come for me to share with everyone some very big news that is happening in our family. We are going to be moving to Frisco, Texas! I have accepted the position of Executive Pastor at Hope Fellowship. I will be reuniting with my friend John McKinzie who I worked with for five years in Nashville. He started the church seven years ago, and it has grown to a current average attendance of 1200-1300 a week. We are excited about what God has in store for us, but at the same time, are sad to leave Tampa. This has been a huge decision for us, especially since most of our family lives here. But, we believe that this is a step that God has called us to take, and we feel a real peace about it. My last Sunday at Grace Family will be on July 1. Please keep us in prayer as we make this transition, and pray that our house will sell quickly!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

You see

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." Romans 5:6

As I read this verse today, it literally jumped off the page at me. Just as the first two words say, "You see," there are many times when I don't see! As I have grown in my relationship with God, I have become accustomed to His love. I think that there are times I have taken it for granted. But this verse reminds us to "see" how big God's love truly is.

"At just the right time, while we were still powerless." Sometimes I wonder about God's timing. It doesn't always feel like He's working on my time table. That's because He's not. He knows when it's the right time, and sometimes we have to admit that it's only through His power that it can get done. Yet, He always responds at "just the right time."

"Christ died for the ungodly." If Christ had died for the godly, we might wonder what we had to do to be included in that number. But, if in fact He died for the ungodly, then He died for everyone. Not just those who were "living right" or "measured up." But He has even died for those people that I haven't prayed for in a long time because I figured they were lost causes. There are no hopeless causes! Christ died for them.

"Lord, help me to see people through your eyes. Help me to show your love in all that I do. Thanks for your perfect timing." Amen.

Music Stuff: New Jazz and good muzak

I recently downloaded Joshua Redman's new album, Back East. Although it's a trio album, which is typically not my favorite, he is in great form. He continues to establish himself as a modern master of the saxophone, and will be listened to for years to come. Along those lines, another saxophonist who is moving the art of jazz forward is Chris Potter. Check out his recording, Underground, especially his take on the classic track, Yesterday.

Today I was having lunch with my wife at Ruby Tuesday and my ears were drawn to their muzak selections. They were playing some great tunes! I'm pretty sure it's a bad sign when you start to enjoy restaurant music, but there's just nothing like the classics! Songs they were playing that I liked included:
Bonnie Raitt- "I Can't help you now" Her voice is so good, and she's got just the right amount of soul.
Corinne Bailey Rae- "Put Your Records On" This was my favorite album of 2006.
The Police- "Message in a Bottle" Can you get too much Sting?

Heard any good music lately?