Saturday, January 25, 2014


I recently attended a church music conference.  We listened to about 250 new compositions and arrangements from 6 leading publishers.  Here are some observations regarding the vast majority of pieces.

Music is being written in only 2 or 3 part harmony.  This leaves the basses to sing either in a tessitura which is too high or relegated to singing the melody in a lower octave.  Is it any wonder my choir only has 3 bass singers?

Another trend is writing accompaniments that are clearly reductions of guitar parts.  This leaves the music minister with three options.  He either will attempt to present the piece live with a rhythm section, force his pianist to "work it out", or have the choir sing it with an accompaniment track.  I have been using too many tracks lately and I know my pianist is growing tired of coming to choir only to rehearse vocal parts.

Many songs are also being arranged from solos heard on Christian radio.  The trouble is that the rhythms are challenging enough that the arranger must write the piece for a soloist with the choir serving the role of back up singers.  So while the all attention is on the soloist, the choir is singing oooohs, ohhhhhs, and ahhhhs with an occasional phrase that doubles the melody.

I urge music publishers to consider publishing real choral music again with great piano accompaniments, and legitimate bass parts.  I understand there is a good reason this music is being published.  It would not be published if there were not a market for it.  I urge music ministers to be more discriminating in what you purchase for your church.  That is the only way we will ever reverse this trend.  The time has come for worship leaders to take a long and critical look at our methods and effects that will result from them.

I must assert that I am greatly encouraged by the spiritual depth of new composers such as Keith & Kristyn Getty, Matt Redman, Travis Cottrell, Stuart Townend, and Reuben Morgan.  It seems the pendulum has begun to swing toward hymns being written for today's worshippers.  These texts are filled with biblical quotations and solid theology.  What will worship in the church look like in 30 years?   Worship`s future will likely be determined by the choices that worship leaders make today and forward.

Monday, January 6, 2014


As we begin a new year, many of us have already broken our new years resolutions.  I was thinking about something crazy.  If Satan made resolutions for 2014, what would they be?

Satan said, “I know the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  My time is short.  I must claim every soul possible before Jesus returns.  Here are my resolutions concerning the church.”


1. Do whatever I can to make sure the church uses a steady diet of songs written at least 50 years ago. Using melodies, harmonies, rhythms, & instrumentation common in current times will allow this generation an open door into the church.  I want the music to be as archaic and foreign as possible so I can claim this generation.
2. Convince God's people that they don't need to worship together.  That way, the body of Christ will be lacking.
3. Offer a false god for people to serve; musical style.  They will be deceived into worshiping their style of choice and fight over which god (style) should be exalted.  All the while, they will fail to worship the One True God.
4. Do whatever it takes to insert songs that employ poor theology.  The church believes the words in the songs, so this is an effective way to impose false teaching on the church.
5. Make sure that services are boring.  The last thing I want is a pep rally for Jesus that spurs the Church into battle mode!


1. Tempt Christians.  If they stumble, they will not feel worthy to tell others about Jesus.

2. Propagate lies.  My favorites:
    a.  It's best to keep your faith to yourself these days.
    b.  You don't need to invite people to church.  They already know where the church is.  There is no need to be           pushy.
3. Keep people so busy that they don't have time or energy to work for God.

BUSY is:

        Being Under Satan's Yoke


1. Foster division in the church.
2. Lead God's people to gold grudges and stay bitter.


1. Keep Christians isolated so I can devour them.
2. Keep Christians immature so I can devour them.
3. Keep Christians unhealthy and entangled in sin so I can devour them.


1.  Tempt God's people to live beyond their financial means.  They will not be able to give to the work of the church.  This will cut off funding for local, state, national, and international ministry and missions.

Friday, August 30, 2013

My Amazing Row Boat Restoration

Several months ago, I seriously contemplated building a 14' Carolina Dory using Stitch and Glue methods.  After months of reading and careful study, I decided it would be best to purchase a used boat and see how I liked boating before endeavoring to build my own wooden boat.  I found a boat on Craigslist and started on a new journey.  I hope you enjoy reading about this amazing before and after project!

First I ordered a cheap, lightweight trailer from  It came in 3 boxes and I managed to assemble it with a little help from Evan.  I also order a hitch and assembled it by myself.  That was a bit of a challenge, but I was successful.

I drove to Gladewater.  The boat was onshore at the bottom of a steep hill.  I had to drag it up the hill to the trailer.  I couldn't drive down there because I would damage the property owner's sprinkler system.  Dragging the boat up hill was a chore on that 100 degree day!

Picking the boat up at Gladewater Lake

I stopped at a local Ace Hardware store to buy 100 pounds of play sand to keep the light weight boat and trailer from bouncing too much.  I also got a

red flag for safety.

The boat is at home in Center, TX

Inside boat (Before)

Hull (before)

Transom (before)

Rotten Transom

I sanded the inside

I epoxy sealed a leak where a dent was in the hull

Self-Etching primer applied to inside of boat

Primed the inside
 I decided to purchase all of my paint from Tractor Supply.  I used Majic brand reducer and Majic brand hardener.  It took 30 minutes to "cook" each batch, but it was worth the trouble.

Ford Blue paint applied to inside surfaces

Frog Tape applied to inside trim

Light Grey Ford paint applied to inside surfaces.  Inside painting is complete!

We flipped her over and applied self-etching primer.

I primed the hull, but accidentally started with the light gray paint instead of the primer.  Can you spot my error?

Next it was time to paint the hull.  I think it came out beautifully!

Shopping for boating gear.  "It's a bit tight, Dad!"

Added the oars

New Boat Cover

Attached the transom and sealed all bolts and plate with silicon

David Bain's router came in handy on this transom

 Evan and I tested the boat for leaks at Mildred Webb's property in the Arcadia community.  What a beautiful private lake!!!
Row, row, row my boat!

All major leaks were sealed!

A view of my van and trailer from our boat.

By George, I think he likes it!

In thinking of a name for my new boat, my thoughts drifted to Matthew 11:28, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

The Greek work for rest is in Matthew 11:28 is Anapauso.  

It is derived from ana (again) + pauo (to give rest).  I'll have to order lettering for a nice finishing touch!  I'm looking forward to many great fishing trips with Evan and Ethan in Anapauso!!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

When Jesus Is In Your Boat

When the disciples were on the boat in a terrible storm, they panicked.  They caved to fear because all of their focus was on the storm.  They had forgotten WHO was with them on the boat.  Just as you may be, I am facing storms.  First, make sure Jesus is in your boat.  Then trust completely in the FACT that HE has power over the storm.  In time, the storm will subside if you just call upon the Lord.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, 
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
in the light of His glory and grace.”
      -Helen H. Lemmel (1922)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mission Cebu 2012 (8 of 8)

God really did a great work last month in the Philippines.  We could really feel the prayers of the church in the States.  I hope you've enjoyed reading about my experience.  Here are the numbers.

Mission Cebu 2012 (7 of 8)


I made some general observations about the Filipino Baptist Churches. The buildings are usually constructed of cinderblock.  None had air conditioning, but we had pretty good ventilation because they were open on one end and the side walls usually included cinderblocks with airspace built into them.  All of the churches were staffed very lightly.  Only one church had a full time pastor.  That same church had a bi-vocational music minister.  This church, Eastside Baptist Church in CarCar was the only one that had live instrumental music when we were there.  The others sang acapella songs led by their bi-vocational preaching pastor.  Although these churches were probably unaware, they were employing a simple church model; a model I think frees church to have the time and financial resources to focus on the meat and potatoes of ministry: preaching, prayer, evangelism, discipleship, church planting and ministry.
The pastors we met were all thoroughly trained through Pastor Galera’s seminary.  I was impressed with their spiritual depth.  It was exciting to see churches being planted all around us.  Pastor Juval Galera pastors Eastside Baptist Church.  He is a “Director of Missions” of a sort to 13 churches in the Eastside Baptist Association of Church.  I envied the simplicity with which they do ministry there.
As in the West, the Filipino churches we visited used different styles and expressions of worship.  One church used modern praise and worship music, while all of the others employed traditional hymns.  I did not witness a church using blended or “balanced” worship.  Are we who use blended worship only trying to keep the church appeased under the guise of keeping unity in the church?  I freely admit that sometimes I see myself as a worship pacifier in America.  I also noticed that a couple of the churches imitated the western church and even had projected lyrics.
On Sunday, June 24, we celebrated the 5th Anniversary of Eastside Baptist Church in CarCar, Cebu.  That morning John Rayburn preached a half hour sermon on the radio to an audience approaching 1,000,000.  Following the radio address, we had breakfast and then went to the church service.  The spirit was great and I just loved being a part of it.  We got to hear their speech choir and the children sing and dance.  They used a praise band (keyboard, electric guitar, bass guitar, and drums) and 3 praise singers.  They sang only modern praise and worship songs by writers like Chris Tomlin, Keith Getty, and Matt Redman.  Each of us gave our testimony and Steve Thompson delivered a sermon.  After the service I had the privilege to meet Meljim, the student we sponsor.  After lunch, we drove to the sea and baptized 17 students who were saved through Eastside Christian Academy.  Seeing that made me realize that I haven’t spent a red cent in vain.  What a blessing!
On Monday and Tuesday, June 25-26, we hosted a Pastors Conference.  We paid travel expenses for 25 pastors to attend.  Each of us preached a sermon.  I know people were praying because I could not wait to get up on the platform and preach.  I felt complete freedom.  My message was “The On Time God”, the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  The application is that many of us have aspects of our lives and ministries that were once much more vibrant.  It is never too late to call on Jesus.  He will come and breathe new life and resurrection to us.

On Wednesday, June 27, Pastor Juval decided to surprise his mother and father.  Bro. Juval’s father is Pastor Johnny Galera who leads Bible Baptist Church in CarCar.  We arrived fashionably late.  They were singing in Cebuano.  When Pastor Johnny saw us coming, he asked them to pull out the English hymnals.  “Oh no,” I said.  “Can we please sing in Cebuano?”
“Very well,” replied the pastor.
The last time I had that much fun was worshipping at Fe y Poder Iglesia Bautista in Donna, Texas on last year’s mission trip.  My background in the Spanish language benefited me when reading from the Cebuano Hymnal.  All of the vowels were written with Spanish phonetics.  I only had to learn a few new consonants and I was off and running.  Bro. Johnny’s wife saw me singing and came to sing next to me.  She was obviously overjoyed that, although I had no idea what the words meant, I seemed to be getting the pronunciation correctly.  Embracing the language of another person is a powerful statement that you are accepting them and they are accepting you.
After the singing time, Pastor Johnnie called me up to sing a solo.  I sang “God Raised the Ransom” acapella.  Then he called the youngest member of our team, Colin Rayburn, to preach the sermon.  It was an incredible evening; one that was not on our itinerary, but I am so glad we came.  It was amazing to see the joy of John Rayburn’s face as his son preached.  I told John, “I don’t know what God is doing in my heart.  I have fallen in love with missions.  I have fallen in love with the Filipinos.  I have the crazy desire to learn Cebuano.  What in the world is going on?”

John enthusiastically replied, “Eric, God may be calling you to missions!”
This is something that was completely unexpected for me.  Is God really calling me to some sort of mission work?  What will that mean for me?  I need to pray for God’s direction here so I will know how to prepare.  Will I continue in my current role in the American church and simply get more involved in our local missions.  Is God calling me to be a North American missionary or will I one day pastor abroad?  Maybe I will one day work for a mission support organization.  How do I prepare for that?  To I need to pursue a Masters of Divinity while serving as a music minister?  I endeavor to pray for God to reveal His perfect will to me over the next months and years.  I do know that I need to involve myself more in our local missions and read all I can about missions, evangelism, church planting and theology.
Friday, June 29, was our final day in the Philippines.  We traveled to the southern part of Cebu.  We visited Pastor Antonio’s house church, and then we went to a church plant called Metropolitan Bible Baptist Church.  John and I each preached a sermon there, and then we ate lunch with the church.  It is a great honor when they slaughter a pig for you.  It is called lechon; another word I knew from Spanish.  After lunch we drove to Pastor Leonardo’s church.  Currently everything is in his house: sanctuary, library, kitchen, fellowship hall, and parsonage.  They are constructing a sanctuary adjacent to the home.  He needs about $3,000 for a roof.  We were unaware than Pastor Leonardo’s wife would prepare lunch for us, so we attempted to eat again.  This is the most precious couple.

On the drive back to CarCar, the reality hit me like a ton of bricks that our mission trip had come to end.  I was deep in though and prayer, when Zenny Galera said, “Eric, you look so sad.  You don’t want to go home?”  I said, “I have mixed feelings, Mrs. Zenny.  I want to see my family, but I have loved being her.  It will be very difficult to adjust to my regular life.”
Leading up to this mission trip, both Bro. Juval and John Rayburn had spoken to me and indicated that they would like me to come again as the leader of the mission trip.  At the time, I told each of them that I would have to pray about returning and certainly about leading the team.  After all, it takes a lot of money, time, planning and carries a heavy weight of responsibility.  It suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t have to pray about leading a mission team to Cebu next year because God was speaking to me presently that I am to go.

The worship was dynamic!

Eastside Baptist Church in Carcar

Eastside Baptist Church students leading worship

17 students to be baptized

Steve Thompson speaks at the church anniversary

Group photo at 5th Anniversary

I got to meet Meljim (the child we've sponsored for 4 years)

Baptizing students in the Philippine Sea

Baptist hymnal in the Cebuano language


Colin Rayburn preaches at Bro. Johnny Galera's church

Pastor Johnny Galera

Antonio's house church

John Rayburn preached after I did at Metropolitan Bible Baptist Church


Sanctuary under construction and Pastor Leonardo's church.

Lunch at Pastor Leonardo's church