Outreach in Palestine, Texas 05/21/22

I never thought of myself as an evangelist, but I am finding more and more that all I want to do is reach the lost and tell them about JESUS! I am blessed beyond measure to work with a team of worshipers that are totally committed to spreading the Good News. Today we did outreach in Palestine, Texas.

First, I want to thank Pastor Gaither E Bailey at First Presbyterian Church of Palestine, TX for allowing us at Church on the Avenue to use their property for the event. I want to thank Pastor (just call him Brother) Martin Bellone for sharing the vision God gave him for the ministry and honoring me with the opportunity to co-labor beside him, Josh Hazelwood and Dodi Cheree Hazelwood, and their family for cooking and feeding so many, and the worship team, Isaiah 61 One. Pictured left to right: Clyde Sparks (worship leader for Victory Fellowship in Nacogdoches) on bass, myself, my bride, Rachel Powell singing vocals (she and I attend Covenant Churches of East Texas in Rusk), Trisha Renee (worshiper at Branded by Christ Cowboy Church, Rusk – Texas), behind her, Jeremy Bishop on drums (worshiper at Faith Bridge Community Church in Douglas) and our worship arts coordinator and chief flagger, Susie Ellis holding my precious Josie. One team member that couldn’t be with us, Lane Kennedy (lead guitar, attends The River a Church for Whosoever formerly Alto Community Fellowship Church) is also an invaluable member of the team!

Danny Powell

We’re about to get JESUIFIED!

“I think we’re about to get JESUIFIED…” I overheard as I was bringing my guitar into Tabu Coffee Sunday evening. I wasn’t really sure how I felt about that. I knew when I decided to start performing every Sunday night at Tabu, I want to say “lead worship at Tabu”, that not everyone would appreciate what we were doing. I realized that we were invading other people’s space. Most of the people that are in the coffee shop didn’t plan on “going to church” when they set out to go there.

Quite frankly, it’s incredibly easy to sing songs worshiping God at church. It’s easy to sing and pray at church. When I’m at church, the discussion seems to always come around to take our faith in Jesus Christ outside the church walls. But truth be told, that’s not as simple as it seems when I’m surrounded in comfortable surroundings with a group of fellow believers. I have to admit that the vast majority of people that I surround myself with are believers.

At heart, I am an evangelist. It breaks my heart to know that in my small town there are no fewer than 60 church listings in the phone book but on any given Sunday morning more than 60% of this same town is not in service of any kind. A few years ago I started a group called Suntribo, which is translated broken-hearted in Luke 4:18. When I looked it up in Vine’s, it translates literally, “broken to pieces”. That’s my story. I couldn’t submit to His will until mine was broken. So be it. Because of this, broken people seem to be attracted to me.

In our early days, we did play at churches for youth groups. Rachel would give her testimony and the young girls would want to talk to Zac after our performance. At one point I thought we might start working the church circuit. Plenty of churches wanted what we were offering but I always thought I wanted to take what we do to secular places. I wanted to take Suntribo outside the church walls.

So here I am Sunday night with Rachel and Zach and Cheyenne, setting up at Tabu Coffee to sing a few songs to Jesus before John comes up and gives a lesson. That is what I wanted, right?

Truth be told, it is easier to sing to Jesus in the assembly than it is in a place and time that wasn’t predestined for that purpose. We pray together and then go up on stage. No mics, no fanfare. I usually don’t say anything, I just count off the first song and we go.

For the most part, people ignore us. They keep talking. The coffee grinder keeps grinding espresso beans, laptop lids stay up and earbuds remain in place. While John is speaking sometimes the music on people’s computers is so loud I can hardly hear him. Zac is usually oblivious to it all, he just beats on his drums, but Rachel and I usually look at each other for support while we’re singing. Frankly, it’s uncomfortable. It’s a lot easier on Wednesday night singing for a youth group in Huntington, Texas than in my hometown coffee shop.

Yet, next Sunday night I’m going to pack my guitar and go out to the coffee house and sing songs to Jesus again. For all the discomfort, this outreach is proving rewarding. While I’m not receiving accolades for my incredible performance and being told that I’m under some sort of anointing, I am seeing people express interest in Jesus. Not a bunch, but an average of one per week. Jesus tells the story of a shepherd that leaves 99 sheep to go look for one. Jesus commanded us to go into all the world and make disciples. I can’t do that if I stay confined to the four walls of my church and surrounded only by my friends who are also believers. I take comfort in this fact: it’s not my responsibility to build the church. Jesus said that on this rock HE will build His church. He said that He is the true vine and that I am just a branch. And the Holy Spirit (not me) came to convict the world of sin.

What Is Worship?

When someone introduces me to someone else and states that I’m a worship leader, what is that person saying about me? When someone comes up to me after a service and tells me, “The worship was good today,” what does that mean? Is worship 20 – 30 minutes of singing contemporary praise and worship songs in a service? Is it singing some songs and taking up an offering? Is it singing some songs, taking up an offering, and listening to preaching? Is that all of it? Is there more? Can I show up at church once or twice a week and check off the worship box?

I found this explanation of “worship” in the Word of God:

“Sing to the LORD, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth; yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!””

1 Chronicles 16:23-31 ESV

Let’s break this down some:

Tell of His salvation from day to day” alright, telling people, every day, about how God has saved you; sharing your testimony is also part of worship.

“My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness And Your salvation all the day, For I do not know their limits. I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.”

Psalms 71:15-16, NKJV

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens.

Write about Him, post on your social media about Him. Talk to your classmates or co-workers about Him. Tell your family about Him. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to his name;

That word, ascribe means: to refer to a supposed cause, source, or author: to say or think that (something) is caused by, comes from, or is associated with a particular person or thing
bring an offering and come before him!

Don Moen, a well-established worship leader, sums up worship with Psalm 100:

A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

Psalms 100:1-5, ESV

Worship isn’t simply a ceremony. It’s not reciting prayers from a book or singing songs reading the lyrics off a screen. It’s not sit, stand, kneel, pray, or any other ritual. Throughout history, mankind has had many religious traditions. God spoke to the prophet Isaiah regarding religion just for the sake of religion:

“And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,”

Isaiah 29:13, ESV

Now let us read from John, chapter 4:21-24:

“Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and
those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.””

John 4:21-24

The overall lesson about worshipping the Lord in spirit and truth is that worship of God is not confined to a single geographical location or necessarily regulated by the temporary provisions of Old Testament law. With the coming of Christ, the separation between Jew and Gentile was no longer relevant, nor was the centrality of the temple in worship. With the arrival of Christ, all of God’s children gained equal access to God through Him. Worship became a matter of the heart, not external actions, directed by truth rather than ceremony.

In Deuteronomy 6:4, Moses sets down for the Israelites how they are to love their God: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Because the idea of “might” in Hebrew indicates totality, Jesus expanded this expression to “mind” and “strength” (Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). Worshiping God in spirit and truth necessarily involves loving Him with heart, soul, mind, and strength. Our love for Him directs our worship of God; as we love, so we worship.

True worship must be “in spirit,” that is, engaging the whole heart. Unless there’s a real passion for God, there is no worship in spirit. At the same time, worship must be “in truth,” that is, adequately informed. Unless we know the God we worship, there is no worship in truth. Both are necessary for God-honoring worship. Spirit without truth leads to a shallow, overly emotional experience compared to a high. As soon as the emotion is over, when the enthusiasm cools, the worship ends. Truth without spirit can result in a dry, passionless encounter that can easily lead to a form of joyless legalism. The best combination of both aspects of worship results in a joyous appreciation of God informed by Scripture. The more we know about God, the more we appreciate Him. The more we understand, the deeper our worship. The deeper our worship, the more God is glorified.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:1-2, ESV

Grace ‘n Peace

Trading Truth For A Lie

This is a repost of my Yahoo! Blog dated June 7, 2007

Thinking about dying isn’t something I like to do on a regular basis. In fact, I probably spend little to no time thinking about it. When I do think about it, I assure myself that I’m not worried in the least about it, because I know my destination. I absolutely believe in the promise of John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Begotten Son, that whosoever shall believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. I believe that my salvation has been paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ, and because of my faith in Him, I will spend eternity with Him.

The company I work for has among its divisions a Hospice. Recently, the head of our Hospice was in my office chatting with another of my co-workers when the subject of death came up. Specifically, Desiree told Sherry that she couldn’t work in Hospice knowing all her patients were going to die. She looked at Desiree and told her matter of fact, “We don’t focus on the dying; we focus on living!” She goes on to explain the more important aspects of her job like meeting someone that has lost weight and can’t (or won’t) eat, has no energy, etc., and then 3 weeks later seeing them eating and playing with their children (or grandchildren) and pets. THAT is what they focus on.

Something else that Hospice does is help people find spirituality. It’s unfortunate but true; many people don’t seek out God until they realize their own mortality. There’s something to be said for realizing our mortality. The Bible tells us that “it is appointed for all men to die once, and then the judgment” (Hebrews 9:14). Suddenly, eternity is a priority. That statement really touched me. I was telling my pastor, Jim, about it, and he said, “…that’s God’s mercy…” Many people don’t have the luxury of knowing when and having a specific time to prepare. We have the promise of eternity but not for tomorrow. The majority of the people Hospice works with pass on to the next world peacefully.

Sherry told us that she’s only had a couple of patients that were atheists to the very end. I interjected at that moment, “I bet those two were afraid of dying!”

I was right.

She went on to describe one of the two. A man that was so adamant about not having god or religion around him that the nurses tending to him were required to either remove or cover up any jewelry or other markings that might indicate some sort of religious significance (for example, a cross necklace). One nurse made the mistake of having her cross necklace come out of her shirt into plain view and she was reported to the state for violating his religious freedom (i.e. freedom from religion).

He was scared. He had people all around him, but he was alone. He had nothing to comfort him. This is it. I think about the words of Jim Morrison, “This is the end, beautiful friend; this is the end, my only friend, the end.”

I can’t help but think that even this man believed in God at the end, but that he refused to acknowledge it. Paul writes about this in his letter to the Romans:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. Rom 1:18-25 NASB

The phrase that really leaps off the page is “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie”.

We can disagree on who God is or what His nature is, but not about whether He exists at all. What makes life? There are currently 114 known elements in the universe. Everything we come in contact with, including each other, is made from combinations of these 114 elements. What is it that makes human beings alive when chemically we are not all that different from a shopping cart? Or to take it even further, what is different the instant after we die? Chemically our bodies are identical pre or postmortem.

At the risk of sounding like an ignorant religious nut, I’m going to say the answer is actually in the very beginning of the Bible. Genesis 1:3 reads, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’ and BANG! there was light.” If you ever look at a living cell under an electron microscope, you will see the most amazing thing. Little sparks of light between the individual atoms. Where does this light come from?

Forgive me for quoting a new ager:

Imagine you’re standing outside on the grass looking towards the sky. Hold your hands in the air and feel the heat of the sun, the movement of the wind brushing over your skin. As the wind touches your hand, it deposits molecules of every chemical needed to create life. As the sun warms your face, it radiates all the energy that generates life. We are nothing more than these chemicals, this energy, but with one tremendous difference: An invisible principle holds you together.

What is this invisible principle? Quite simply, God is this Invisible Principle. Because of this invisible principle, you were created out of the whirlwind of atoms that fly through the universe. Instead of being scattered inside a galactic dust cloud, your body has organized itself into thousands of precise operations. With every breath, you inhale hundreds of millions of gaseous molecules, and within a tenth of a second, the ones that sustain life, primarily oxygen and hydrogen, enter your cells to create enzymes and proteins.

How do they know to do this? They don’t. The oxygen in your blood is no more alive than the oxygen in a diver’s tank; the sugars in your brain are no more intelligent than those in a sugar cube. Yet the whirlwind turns into life somehow…the invisible principle causes this transformation. (Deepak Chopra)

Although the principle cannot be seen nor weighted, it possesses certain qualities;

  • It is intelligent – Omniscient
  • It is conscious of itself
  • It has power – Omnipotent
  • It can organize things, creating complexity out of simplicity.

I chose to call the invisible principle God. With or without any religious beliefs, everyone knows these qualities exist in themselves, as human beings have known for centuries. God operates within all life and He cannot be extracted…

One of the great theological questions is, “How can one prove God exists?” Ironically enough, the Bible never sets out to prove God’s existence. It (His existence) is always assumed. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that one doesn’t have to prove God exists because God doesn’t have to exist, God is. God doesn’t have power, God is power. Goes doesn’t have knowledge, God is knowledge, etc… GOD IS. The proof is in everything else that exists.

God is, but man exists.

You and I can argue about the attributes of God, we can argue about His nature and about salvation, but if we are honest with each other, we cannot argue that there is or isn’t a God.

Sherry told about the end of her patient. She was in the room when he passed on. As the moment arrived, his face and body began to contort in ways that a human body simply doesn’t move. The contortions were like those described by people writing about exorcisms. As she was describing it, I could see demons grabbing him, pulling on his flesh, actually ripping the flesh from his body.

Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. (2 Co 5:11 NKJV)

Grace ‘n peace

Surviving a Nuclear Explosion

Nuclear explosions

The nice thing about nuclear explosions is that before you really understand what’s happening, it doesn’t matter and you don’t care!

During my work week, I meet a lot of very interesting people that I wish I had more time to visit with and get to know. A couple of days ago I met Tom. Tom is a retired professor from SFA University. He called me because of a computer issue he was having that couldn’t be resolved by another repair shop here in town and that shop recommended he call me.

We got to visiting before I took in his machine. We immediately had a good rapport although we were in very different places regarding our respective world views.  We genuinely liked each other and only because of time constraints did I reluctantly leave to go back to work.
This morning I was listening to All Sons and Daughter’s “Great Are You Lord”. One lyric stood out, “It’s Your breath in our lungs…”

Ironically, that made me think of Tom. Yesterday before I returned his computer to him I got an email from him thanking me for the update on his computer (he was quite worried when another shop told him they couldn’t fix it) letting him know that I had the situation in hand and would be returning his workstation that day. In the response, after thanking me for the update, he went on to ask me to do something about President Trump’s impending decision to pull the United States out of the nuclear agreement with Iran.

When I dropped off his computer I could tell he was worried. He had been watching news all day about the nuclear deal. He brought it up again. Asked me to call my senators to demand they reinstate the deal. We talked about that some. In the discourse I let him know that I pretty much stopped watching news TV non-stop (I was a news junkie myself for about 20 years). I was enjoying the sunshine and he was worried about being killed in a nuclear explosion. I told him to not worry, “the nice thing about nuclear explosions is that before you even realize what’s happening you’re gone.” He nervously laughed and then agreed with me.

This is where the lyric comes in, “It’s Your breath, in our lungs…” It reminds me of just how different it is to not be in fear of a nuclear holocaust. Some of that time I’m not watching or listening to the news I’m spending with God. Scripture teaches me that everything is in His hands. Also, that He’s a good father. I am secure in that regardless of what happens to the earth or my body, that He has me. We have numerous prophecies pointing to a time of cataclysmic events on the earth just prior to the Lord’s return. Regardless of the believer’s eschatology, at some point those in Christ Jesus will be with Him for eternity.

Grace ‘n peace

Coming right along!

The last couple of days has seen quite a bit of progress on the album. Yesterday I picked up the piano part for Rachel’s song, “Holy”. I debated using outside musicians on the album, because I really want this project to represent the band as we are live, but for “Holy”, I just couldn’t resist. We’ll either have to use a MIDI track to use it live or add a pianist/keyboardist to the group. Rachel thinks I’m a “wuss”, but I cried when I heard the piano part. Last Sunday evening John came to the studio and recorded our first actual vocal track on the CD (there are scratch vocals on the other tracks). Recorded 2 takes and either of them would stand on their own!

The plan now is for Rachel to record a couple vocal tracks tonight and/or tomorrow night. I’ll get Lee in to start doing trumpets next.

Grace ‘n peace

The HARDEST Part of Making an Album

We’ve been slowly working on the CD project for a few weeks now and the hardest part is not sharing the music as we go! None of the songs are “done” per se, but they are in various stages of completion and we’re excited about what’s been recorded so far. In this day and age of social media and instant gratification it’s HARD not to post as we go.


Rachel in studio

Rachel in studio about to lay down vocal track

We are currently recording our debut CD project, tentatively titled Make Me Shine. The plan is to spend most of July and part of August recording and then releasing it in September. We have 5 songs already written (Make Me Shine!, In You, Wash Over Me, Into the Light, and Be My Everything) plus have secured rights to record and release Your Great Name and Nothing Without You (the greatest song I wish I’d written!).  So far guitar tracks have been recorded for Make Me Shine! and Your Great Name. With everyone in the group living so far apart it might take a little longer than we anticipate, but we want to make sure we put out a high quality recording that reflects the atmosphere encountered at the live events.

Wash Over Me will probably be a mostly live recording. That’s one that we’ve never actually arranged and we like the spontaneous feel it currently has. We want to capture the atmosphere of that one for the album.

More pictures from the studio to follow…I may have to paint before I take any more pictures! 😀 ~Danny

1st Fundraiser COMPLETE!

Just got the last pledge we needed to purchase a 5X8 enclosed trailer to haul our gear while traveling to concerts and events. The total amount was raised through tee shirt sales and donations. Yesterday, while we were playing in Hemphill, Texas, I had a gentleman approach me. That in and of itself isn’t unusual, people talk to us all the time before, during, and after concerts. This particular person, however, had a question for me after he told me how much he enjoyed the concert (this event was not a Night of Worship!). He asked, “do y’all need anything?”

I’m just as proud as the next person but I heard in my mind, “tell him what you need,” so I did. I looked him in the eye and said, we are $600 short on our fundraiser to purchase a trailer. He looked at me for about 2 seconds and then said, “I’ll write you a check.”

I’ll post pictures of the trailer after we pick it up in the next week.

Grace ‘n peace.

UPDATE: 4/3/17 we received the check this morning. Should have trailer by end of week.