Music Review // “Come & Drink” // Matthew Reed

About four months ago, I randomly won a cd from my friend John Wylie via Twitter.

Thus began my digital relationship w/ Matt Reed. He is a personable guy that I connected with on Twitter thereafter and he sent me a copy of his newest release, “Come & Drink”. The cd has since been in our car stereo for the last 4 months. My wife & I, along with our 2 daughters, were instantly humming along to the songs as we would run errands around town. A few weeks ago my wife voiced her only complaint regarding the EP… “It’s too short. Why are there only 6 songs? That kinda sucks.”

Not enough Matt Reed in your life is a good bad thing…

From the get-go, you realize that Matt knows exactly the message he desires to convey & precisely the direction he wants the listener to move. It is clear he is moving the listener to worship God. From the driving bass on “Awake, Awake” to the ever-present snare on “Pour Out”, Matt allows the rhythm & percussion to propel each song in synchronization w/ the corresponding lyrics. It’s almost impossible to separate the two from each other.

My most favorite song on the EP is “Crash This Place”. Within the same vein as songs like “Furious” (by Jeremy Riddle) & “Like a Lion” (by Daniel Bashta), “Crash This Place” uses a phrase (‘crash this place with love’) that we wouldn’t generally think as a common jump-off point for a worship song to be sung congregationally. Yet, that’s exactly our prayer. As a church and/or youth group, we want to see God just crash down within our midst with an overwhelming surge of love that captures the hearts of those longing for hope & healing.

All in all, I recommend that if you don’t have a copy then you need to get your hands on one asap. Below is the video for “Crash This Place”…


Who Would You Give a Second Chance? || NEVER beyond GRACE

I’m writing this in regards to the ‘Never Beyond’ series from People of the Second Chance’s blog.

The question is “Who would you give a second chance?”

My answer… my dad.

I grew up in a broken home.

My parents were on & off again constantly throughout my childhood.

I grew up bouncing back & forth from about 45 minutes west of Portland, OR in a small town (Rainier, OR) to Eugene, OR. When I was around 5 years old, my dad would take my younger brother & I to the river — the Columbia — and my brother Mark & I would explore the shoreline while my dad would hang w/ his buddies…

One day I innocently mentioned to my mom… “When daddy took us to the river the other day, he had ‘hearts in his eyes’ when he looked at ladies.”

I remember the look on my dad’s face when I said that. From there on out, He ALWAYS looked at me differently. He knew I was on Team Mom. He always made me aware that I was a momma’s boy. (And to this day I still am — a very MANLY momma’s boy.)

See, this statement didn’t come as a surprise to my mom. My dad was unfaithful. A lot.

From the time I was 6 to 16, my parents separated & got back together 3 times. When I was 16 my mom revealed to me that my dad was not only an alcoholic (something I grew up aware of & witnessing throughout my childhood — my dad struggled to stay sober), but he was also a functioning meth addict. My dad has a past plagued by abuse, loneliness, hurt, and suicide. My mom has a similar past. My mom turned to Jesus. My dad turned to drugs…

At the start of my junior year in high school, my parents were in the middle of a divorce when my father got thrown in jail. I was living with a friend & his family at the time. I was finally living in an extremely stable household – something I wasn’t really used to, and honestly, it was somewhat hard for me to process.

I was angry. I was upset. I was pissed off.

I was pissed off at God.

I grew up going to church. My mom took me from the time I was a newborn baby. She raised my brothers & I with her Bible always open and her heart continually singing praises to her King, all the while enduring a painful marriage. I came to know Jesus as my Lord & Savior when I was 6 at a vacation bible school in a little white chapel out in the sticks.

Yet, here I was at 16 pissed off at God. I cried one night desperately for God to save my dad. God heard my cry & answered my prayer. Remember, my dad was in jail. During that time he had a ‘come to Jesus’ moment.

While the paperwork was all set for my parents to finalize their divorce, my dad was locked up. He began to read a bible that was given to him. He began to recognize the patterns in his life & the dependencies he relied on were screwed up. He realized that he needed Jesus. He needed Love. He needed Grace. He needed a second chance.

He got all that. My parents didn’t go through with the divorce. My dad moved back into our home after being released from jail. He spent the next few months reading his bible from cover to cover.

I moved back home. We all started going to church together as a family.

I was no longer upset w/ God. He humbled me. He answered my prayer when I was – in my mind – the least deserving.

Time has passed. My parents have since got a divorce. (They’ve been divorced for almost 5 years now.) Unfortunately, my dad slid back into old ways.

I’m not upset w/ God. I’m not even really upset w/ my dad these days…

I’m just praying. I’m praying for the opportunity to give him another second chance…

I realize that I am in need of a second chance (aka GRACE) on a daily basis.

My prayer & hope is that my dad is a prodigal son on the brink of heading home. I am waiting patiently to run to him w/ arms open wide & celebrate his return.

I love you dad. Please come home. Jesus loves you. His grace is exceedingly sufficient.

Book Review: “The Grace of God” by Andy Stanley

“…you can run from God, but you can’t outrun Him.”

Andy’s ability to communicate a thought-provoking message that speaks to both the long-time religious & freshly converted is brilliant.

In “The Grace of God”, he shines a light on something that most of us are familiar with as a doctrine and/or seem to have a sufficient understanding of as a important value in life; yet, Andy conveys to the reader that the entire biblical narrative (and all of history) is fueled and driven by God’s grace. He employs the reader to recognize that God’s grace has ALWAYS been on display from the beginning of time when God spoke creation into motion and even today within the local church.

As readers, we see that the grace of God is something that we receive & are called to dispense. God has continually extended grace to us. So, as Christians, we too should extend grace to those that are undeserving… that pretty much covers EVERYONE.

Andy doesn’t try to show us how smart he is or wow us with unbelievably complex ideas. He simply magnifies that which all of us desire & desperately need… grace. And this book makes it apparent that only God’s grace will suffice.

Among all the great, timeless works of literature regarding God’s grace, this book belongs on that shelf.

***Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone…

It’s a new year!!!

I know it’s September, but this is really the start of a new year in the Sexton household…

School started. Our oldest is now a kindergartner. She didn’t attend preschool or anything, so this is totally brand new for her AND us.

Our youth kids (IGNITE) are back to roaming the halls throughout their schools here in South Orange County. That means that back-to-school outreaches, all-nighters, and trips to Knotts are in full-effect! Our student ministry is currently moving into a new/larger space within our church facility. So the creative juices are flowing through our veins as we usher in a new season seeking revival in our community.

LEGIT sports begin…

Soccer. I am a HUGE fan! My favorite player… my daughter, of course. We are rooting for the Pink Ponies to demolish every AYSO U6 team in Region 85. Go Emme!

College Football. Go Ducks! Though, we lost to LSU — the season is FAR from lost. I smell roses.

NFL. Praying the Seahawks lose EVERY game this year to ensure that they have dibs on Andrew Luck. (My fantasy squad’s name is “Suck 4 LUCK!!!”)

Rugby. World Cup time people! When Joy and I moved to South Africa back in 2007 the Springboks won the World Cup just a few weeks after arriving. It was INSANE! Our neighbors belted the national anthem at the top of their lungs 50+ times that night. Go Boks!

So, clearly, our year actually begins in September…

When does your year ‘begin’?

I like… beards.

From the time that I had a couple straggling whiskers poking out of my chin, I’ve always tried to sport the facial hair. When I was a senior in high school, I had a goatee that looked like I had taped on a patch of my armpit hair at the bottom of my face… looking back, that is a major regret in my book — along w/ every other ‘fashion statement’ I attempted to make during my years of adolescence. 🙂

I was always inspired by my friend, Rex. He could grow a legit full beard (mustache included) from the time he was 14. Plus, as an aspiring/avid b-baller in JrHigh & High school, he was the BEST basketball player I personally knew growing up… so the ‘power of the beard’ made a huge impact on me.

My Dad has always rocked either the beard or a SOLID ‘stache. I have NEVER seen him completely clean shaven. Despite our struggles to maintain a healthy father/son relationship throughout the years — I’ve always had mad respect for his facial hair capabilities…

Though it is an utterly trivial topic, what are your thoughts on beards? Do you have a preference? What do you think it says about a person?

Spontaneous Worship…

“Be ready in season and out of season…” — 2 Timothy 4:2

I was already cozy in some basketball shorts & a ragged t-shirt, cleaning up after dinner w/ my girls, when I received a call…

“Hey babe, the guest worship leader isn’t gonna make it tonight — could you race down here and lead worship for the women’s study?” (I love hearing the sound of my wife’s voice.)

So within 12 minutes I jumped out of my pajamas, threw on some proper worship leader attire, grabbed my acoustic, raced down the stairs w/ my 2 daughters in tow, and barreled down the road straight to Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills. (When I say “barreled”, its just a colorful way to communicate that I am a safe & slow driver.)

I literally parked, hopped out of the van, kissed my wife as she took our girls, walked through the back door up onto the stage, plugged in my guitar, and said “Good evening ladies, let’s pray”… The next 15 minutes started out a little rough (no vocal warm-ups and/or sound check), but ended w/ me and 150+ women singing to our King; proclaiming His love for us & professing our love to Him.

A lot of times we think of “spontaneous worship” as a time during a worship service where everyone breaks out into their own song, busts out their Holy Ghost booty shake, and begins to cry uncontrollably as if we were collectively watching The Notebook. (Those are good times, as well.) Yet, I learned that sometimes the most spontaneous worship happens when you receive a call from your beautiful wife while you are on your knees picking up spaghetti off the floor, humming a Bon Iver tune to yourself, and 15 minutes later you are singing the only 3 songs that you can remember all the words to off the top of your head at that precise moment.

Later that evening when I was back home w/ our girls in bed for the night & I was consuming some ‘trainwreck tv’ (cough*Bachelor Pad*cough*cough) — my wife texted me…

Joy: “Did you know what we were studying tonight?”

Me: “No… being ‘transformed’? :)”

Joy: “Shelly said all 3 songs hit a point of her message tonight. The verse of the beatitudes we were on was ‘blessed are the pure in heart’… She thought you planned those songs on the way.”

Me: “Nope, God planned it tho. That’s awesome! Love u xoxo”

I LOVE it when things like that happen! God is faithful to lead His people according to His ways which are WAY higher than ours.

So, are you prepared to be spontaneous? 😉

***Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone…

I like… summer camp.

I like summer camp.

We just returned from summer camp w/ our JrHighers (IGNITE) this past week. Its always one of my most favorite times of the year. I’ve attended summer camp from the time I was 10 yrs old. I worked at a summer camp for two years while I was in college. Probably every close friend that I have, I could tell you a handful of legendary summer camp stories we have shared at one point or another.

Its amazing to see kids grow up, overcome fears, discover truth, and experience life at camp. This year I had the privilege to lead worship for the 400+ middle schoolers that attended camp. “Like a Lion” ended up inadvertently becoming the theme song for the week. It was awesome!

I have extremely strong convictions that every adolescent should have an opportunity to experience the awesome memory-making adventures that go along w/ summer camp.

Good times are summer camp times!

…BTW, I believe (when/where applicable) that a pit stop at In-n-Out on the way home from camp is REQUIRED 🙂