A KSM update.....
Hard to believe, but more than one full month has already flown by in 2023. Shaunda and I find ourselves right in between two exciting, yet vastly different adventures, and I finally have the opportunity to much to share so much with you!
Thanks to some great, albeit very quiet, supporters, we just returned from a week’s vacation. This couple has provided a vacation experience every year now for several years running. This time it was a week long cruise to mainland Mexico, Cozumel, Honduras and more importantly the buffet (and the restaurants and the burger stand and the pizza spot, and the soft serve and… well, you get the picture). And now without unpacking anything except to recycle dirty clothes we head out tomorrow for our first conference of 2023, this one in Palm Springs, CA.
This conference is a bit different, and a first of it’s kind for us; a couples conference. First of all, any of you that have been around Shaunda and me know that the very thought of us helping lead a couples conference is quite funny in itself. As you might have already guessed though, this one is a bit different and well suited to our ministry. Every couple at this pre-valentines day couples weekend has also lost a child.
After this weekend we launch into 2023 in earnest. I have several Sundays yet to fill including an extra Christmas Sunday this year. I’ll begin that process in March. We already have several Sundays on the calendar as well as four more conferences. One of those is another marriage conference, this one a bit more on the normal side. As I think of this great Pastor and his wife, I’m guessing it will not be very “normal” at all, but a lot of fun for sure! We also have two sound and video system installs on the calendar as well as more than a handful of larger recording and video projects. WHEW… And I haven’t even gotten to the big news yet!
As many of you know, Prairie Valley Church has been a huge blessing to us, and a place we truly can call home. After a couple years as their part-time Worship Leader, it was finally time to step down. No worries though, Joe Knight is still their worship leader… this one of the “Jr” variety. Joe Jr. began his tenure as Worship Leader on January 1. What? Me proud? Never… With that vacancy of time in my life, God has chosen to show me the next step in the Journey. Just like it has always been, only one step at a time.
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that I took my first paid position as a Music Director when I was 15 years old. It was a huge, high paying job at a small church in Stow Ohio… $25 a week as I recall. And now I find myself starting a brand new task almost exactly 50 years later.
I have accepted another part time position, this one as an Associate to the Director of Missions for the Hunt Baptist Association. In addition to doing whatever that Director of Missions says (I did spend most of those 50 years as a second man you know) I will be serving more than 80 churches in the technical, media and musical areas. I have also been challenged with a monumental endeavor.
One of the greatest needs in so many churches today is in the area of developing the public worship service. We have already launched a beta program with one of our churches (who has a patient and willing Pastor). This partnership includes media, music and ministry components. The lessons learned in this first rattle out of the box (sorry about that, couldn’t resist) along with 50 years of more trial and error than I care to admit to is slotted to become book #5. This one has a working title of “KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE A Philosophical and Practical Guide to leading Worship in the local Church”.
In addition to the enormous “research” I’ve undertaken through my career, we are also launching a 10 part podcast of the same title. This podcast will include 8 in depth interviews with Pastors, Worship Leaders and Church members in an effort to discover a myriad of different views on worship. These will eventually be edited and posted as training videos of sorts. This work is intended to cover the philosophical side of Worship (Why do we worship? What really is worship?) and the practical side (How do you plan a worship service? What is the Nashville Number system? Using beds, pads and bumpers etc.). We’re also planning an accompanying workbook and a full training series of classes for prospective and current Worship Leaders.
As you can now see, this could easily become the busiest year of my life. I find myself again humbled by a large number of Pastors and a great Director of Missions willing to believe in me and take on a project of this magnitude. And in a big way, it feels good to know that God still has a plan for my life. He still loves me and wants me! Wow! Humbling to say the least. Please remember all this when I ask for your prayers as Shaunda and I travel and minister.
Those that know my Journey best know that one of the really tough things for me about losing Matt was the fact that we made music together side by side for so many years. Many of you have also heard me tell how our incredible “God of Restoration” allowed me that privilege one more time as Joe Jr joined my band at Prairie Valley. Those good folks will never know how many times I was overwhelmed with tears of joy at what were seemingly inopportune moments (to everyone but me). I guess its good that the cinema in my mind was never readily visible to all those around.
You may be thinking that I’ll miss making music with my son. Actually, I may be around a bit more this year and I should have many more opportunities to make music with my son. He won’t be in my band this time. I’ll be in his.
Hmmm…. maybe I am proud… just a little. How great is our God!
Here's a repost of the 2017 blog entitled: ONE "CRAPPY" DAY
FROM 2017... Now if that title seems inappropriate, please forgive me and read on. You’ll figure it all out shortly. I think that you will likely agree with me as well.
This tour to this point has been amazing to say the least. After awesome April weekends in Texas, Georgia, Missouri and Arkansas, it was time to head out. One of those churches was one of the those Churches that were so essential in our beginnings. It was truly a blessed evening among great friends.
First stop after pulling “The VIrge” out of Greenville was a Thursday/Friday/Saturday campout with yet another of those three churches. Time spent with these folks always seems much like a homecoming. Every worship service was a blessing. Every moment spent underneath the warm spring sunshine overlooking Lake Whitney was a memory in the making.
Following a great Sunday morning with yet another great church (and one of the most beloved Pastors we have ever met) it was time to head west again, on towards California. The second weekend of this tour happened to be at the third of those three churches. Didn’t plan it that way at all, but it sure was something! The few mid-week days were spent at Fort Griffin Historical site near Albany Texas. This is a beautiful, remote location that beckons relaxation and reflection. So much so that we stayed an extra day.
When Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, the three and one half hour trip to that third special church promised to be a peaceful morning’s drive. The air was fresh and clear when we pulled out of the campsite and headed for the sanitary dump. It was the last wonderful thing I would smell for days.
Pulling up to the dump station, I commented as we stepped out of the truck to do the necessary “dirty work”, that I wouldn’t want to be in that campsite right next to the dump station. “This is the smelliest dump station I have ever seen”. Words that would haunt me for the next… well, they still do.
“Oh Joe”, Shaunda called from the other side of the RV, “something’s not right here”.
O how right she was. There was, shall we say “water” streaming from the center of the RV underbelly. And then it hit me. It’s not the dump that smells so bad. It’s us.
Dirty work completed, we left that campground as fast as we could. The “leakage” had subsided. The smell had not. I pulled over to the side of the road as we drove through the small town of Albany to check… ok, to smell. I didn’t have to. A man mowing his front yard passed out right behind his push mower. (That part is a bit exaggerated, but I’ll just bet you he would remember us).
On we drove to the west. The silence was broken only by Shaunda asking me what we were going to do, and me answering that I had no earthly idea. Repeat the conversation. Repeat the conversation. Repeat the conversation yet again.
It was then I remembered that I “knew a guy” at this little church we were going to. He’s a guy I have really had a lot of fun with every time we have visited this congregation. He had a few “unkind” things to say about cops. I had a few comments of my own to share. It was just one of those strange things where I felt like I really knew him. We have both experienced loss. This young guy also raises a little bit of cotton out in deep West Texas. Surely he had someone working in his operation who wanted to do a nasty job and make a ridiculous hourly rate. I was ready to pay any amount the repairman asked. Hundreds? Sure. Thousands? Maybe.
Nope, no one was available. He had already sent his hands home for the weekend. And then he stopped me in my tracks. “Bring it on over. I’ll bet we can fix it”.
“You don’t understand” I argued. “This is likely a mess… a real mess”.
He insisted. I had no options.
He met us along the main road to take us back to a little shop on a little cotton farm. Good thing he did. It was miles and miles down county roads. I finally pulled The Virge into the long driveway and up to the 25’ tall door on this “little” shop behind the house. It looked more like a giant warehouse to me. Every imaginable tool we could need. A few green cotton strippers in the back awaiting their next opportunity for work. In the field behind the shop stood more giant green tractors than I have fingers and toes. Add to that the other various implements and this city boy was bordering on overload. You see, this guy and his family farm more than ten thousand acres.
“Pull her on in” said my buddy.
“Are you sure?” I responded.
“Oh yeah”, came the answer.
I pulled The Virge in. He pulled out a giant knife. He rolled under the middle of the trailer and gave the plastic underbelly a quick slice. And then came a disaster of near Biblical proportions. Poopageddon.
“You’re right”, he said laughing and sputtering. “Better back her outside!”
For the next three hours we laughed, worked and rolled around in the “water”. Not to be too graphic, and I’m not sure why this happened, but the black tank on The Virge had twisted and fallen to the frame on one side. When it did, it tore loose the vent pipe. When the vent pipe came loose, it left a three inch hole in the top of the tanks. When we rounded the curves to the dump station earlier that day, the “water” sloshed out the top of the tank and into the underbelly.
Anyone sick yet? Imagine me rolling around under the RV. Now imagine a friend rolling around with me for three hours on a Saturday… in someone else’s “water”.
Repairs finally complete, we headed to the place where we would camp that night. Following a bath of bleach and a ceremonial burning of my clothes, we went to the church to set up. Then it was on to the closest town (25 miles) for diesel fuel and a glorious Sonic supper at nine pm. Only then did the real dilemma of the weekend present itself. In a little more than twelve hours I would be preaching in Church. I had already selected my topic. I already had my theme chosen. I already had my text.
I Thessalonians 5:18
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
In everything? EVERYTHING????
How could I possibly give thanks for what had just happened? Especially when the smell still lingered in my nasal passages. Perhaps it was just in my imagination. Yeah, that must be it cause I can STILL smell it. Probably always will.
And then I realized that I had much to be thankful for. Had this never happened, I would have never known that this Cotton Farmer in West Texas would be willing to make make such a sacrifice for us. Now let’s be honest here. This is a man who, as they say, could buy and sell me a hundred times over. And yet he would humble himself to solve a problem for me I could not solve for myself. Whether he even realizes it or not, we would likely have had to turn around and head back home, tour ended before it really began.
For the record, Sunday was wonderful. This small church sits at a crossroads in the middle of cotton fields and oil wells. Services began at 10am. The Pastor gave me the service at 10:01am. Other than a short break, these folks worshipped with me, listened to me sing and heard me talk about our journeys for an hour and a half. And only THEN was it time for me to speak. I gave the text at the beginning of the sermon. At the close, I returned to that text, and man did I have an illustration to close the message.
You see, if I had never experienced a catastrophic failure of our waste system, I would have never realized the level of commitment that these folks have made to us. Even though I would likely never choose to relive such a disgusting situation, I am still thankful for what the situation revealed. I believe that somewhere in the middle of a cotton field in deep West Texas is a man driving a giant green tractor. And I think that guy may really be my friend.
Today, I am grateful for my crappy day. I just don’t want to do it again… EVER!
AUTHOR'S NOTE... The reason for this first trip to California back in 2017? Our VERY FIRST Umbrella conference. The one that would have never happened for us had we turned around and went home. And very likely, none of the conferences that followed would have ever happened for us either. Perhaps now you understand how important this church is to KNIGHTsong Ministries... and why we love them, and this very special, humble man, so much.