Graduation (Finally)!

It is finished. I finally graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with my Master of Divinity degree. Many of you didn't know that this was even going on, but I have been working toward this for a LONG time.

Here are some fun facts about the journey to graduation:

  • 85 hours of coursework for the M.Div
  • 12 years to finish (began Fall 2002)
  • 8 moves
  • 5 cities (Gainesville, FL; New Orleans, LA; Jacksonville, FL; Lakeland, FL; Topeka, KS)
  • 3 states (Florida, Louisiana, Kansas)
  • 3 children
  • 3 ministries/churches (UF Baptist Collegiate Ministries, First Baptist Church at the Mall, Fellowship Bible Church)
  • 1 hurricane (Katrina)
  • 1 temp job because of said hurricane (Fidelity National Insurance)
  • 1 wedding to my incredible wife who supported me and encouraged me the entire time we have been married!

It is done, and it is surreal. I have been "in school" for as long as I can remember. I was talking with someone the other day who mentioned that it was weird to get to the point in life where he had been out of school longer than he had been in school. I'll be 70 before that's even a possibility... This degree doesn't really change anything in my day-to-day reality. I wanted to pursue this degree because my heart is more to be a pastor than it is to be a musician. I want to pastor the church through music, and that has always been the desire. My education has helped me to grow in that regard, and I don't regret it in the least, no matter how long it took. If nothing else, my kids saw what it looks like to persevere and finish, despite many obstacles and challenges.

So, my encouragement to you is this: don't quit, whatever it is that you're pursuing. It might take longer than you think. The journey might look much different than you thought it would at the outset. There may be many obstacles making it difficult. Don't. Quit. There is something to be said for finishing what you start, and it says it about you, and it says it about me.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here's a high level summary of its overall blog health: Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,200 times in 2010. That's about 13 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 47 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 53 posts. There were 12 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 28mb. That's about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was October 10th with 393 views. The most popular post that day was Change is Coming, and it is Bittersweet..

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, theworshipcommunity.com, churchatthemall.com, twitter.com, and en.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for bill horn band, shutterstock, bill horn worship, bill horn blog, and bill horn.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Change is Coming, and it is Bittersweet. October 2010 9 comments

2

Store September 2010

3

About December 2009 3 comments

4

Currently Listening December 2009

5

Media February 2010 3 comments

Change is Coming, and it is Bittersweet.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” This verse has always been one that has guided Diane and me through our marriage and ministry together. We have sought to trust God, even when it’s difficult, and to follow Him wherever He leads, because He knows what we do not know, and He sees what we cannot see. His will is what we would have chosen if we knew everything about any given situation. In February of 2006, after the craziest 6 months we had ever experienced, God called Diane and I here to First Baptist Church at the Mall. He confirmed this in many ways and made it absolutely clear that He wanted us here. When He said, “Go,” we went. Before Lakeland He called us to New Orleans for seminary, and before that it was Gainesville, FL, to serve as campus missionaries. He has been faithful to guide us and direct our steps, leading us where He wants us and providing for us, and that has only furthered our trust in Him.

In mid-July, God again made it abundantly clear to Diane and me that we are to go. God is calling us to serve in what we believe to be a smaller church or church plant as the worship pastor, but we are not certain of where yet. At this time, we have talked with several pastors about different opportunities, but nothing certain has developed. Throughout this process, we have sought to be wide-open before God, saying to Him, “Lord, whatever You want is what we want.” We shared this with Pastor Jay and the executive staff team when we knew, and they have been extremely supportive and helpful through all of it. Words cannot tell you how grateful I am for these men and for the church taking good care of us during this time of transition.

This has been one of the hardest and most uncertain times in our lives, as we have never had to walk this road with so much at stake, but we are trusting God to lead us and to take care of us as He has so many times in the past. It may seem foolish to step out like this with no sure thing on the other end, but I would have failed you as a leader and a pastor if we ignored God’s calling on us and disobeyed His direction.

Please know that it has been our privilege to serve such an amazing church family. We have some amazing relationships here. We have witnessed God move in amazing ways, and we are so grateful to have been a part. We have been able to share the joy of the birth of both of our children here. You have encouraged us, nurtured us, and loved us as we have learned and grown over these past 4 ½ years. We have never felt as loved as we do here. Many times, however, following God means letting go of something that you treasure. For us, that is you. We love you like crazy, and we will miss you terribly. So much of our hearts will be left here. We consider this home, and saw ourselves staying here indefinitely, but God had other plans.

We ask that you would please pray for us as we take this step. Pray for God’s clear direction. Pray that we will be able to sell our home. Pray for our kids as they deal with change. Also, pray for the church leadership as they seek out God’s man to take up where I leave off. We are trusting that the greatest days for Church at the Mall are still ahead, and that God will bring just the right man to continue on in leading you and caring for you. I know for certain that you are in great hands with this worship team, as they are some of the most talented musicians and leaders I have ever served with.

I will be leading for the next few weeks, as long as I am needed, and we look forward to sharing time with you and worshiping together as we all continue to pursue the heart of our great God. He is the only one worthy of our praise, and the only one worthy of our lives. Let us lay our lives down for the sake of His name and His Kingdom, because He laid down His life for us at the cross.

Worship and Generosity

Today was really cool. Our church is getting ready for a Christmas music presentation, so our stage is in complete disarray. This was the impetus for us to try an acoustic setup for the band, with two acoustics, a piano, and a cajon (a wooden box that the drummer sits on and thumps the front of in different ways to get various percussive sounds). It had a completely different feel for us at our 930 service, but to me, it was refreshing. This next week it will only be me on acoustic, and I'm excited about that, too. I think anytime we can tear things down and get to the real heart of the matter, it re-focuses us and reminds us what is truly important. In terms of worship through music, the things that are often enjoyable (high-energy, lead electric guitars, full drums, etc.) are not essential. The problem is that we often get our wires crossed and begin to think of the things we enjoy as necessary for us to worship, which is way off the mark. I'm not talking about style issues, because I do think there is a lot of validity to those issues, which is part of why I do what I do. However, the presentation within those formats doesn't necessarily need all the flash and whatnot. It needs to be focused on Jesus, it needs to be true, and in my honest opinion, it should be done well to avoid distractions.

Another really cool thing about today was something Jay led during the invitation time. He had single parents with kids at home, and parents whose spouses were serving in the military all stand up, and then asked our church members to go to them and be a blessing to them during Christmas. He suggested helping through prayer, through gifts, through presence, through encouragement, and the like. It was a beautiful thing to see the church reaching out to each other, when the absence of significant others is more glaring than usual. The message was essentially on generosity, and I thought this was a great demonstration of that idea. I hope those families are richly blessed because of it.

This afternoon, I'm feeling a bit helpless, because my wife and my children are all sick, and there's not a whole lot I can do about it. I can only help where I can, and do what I can do, and pray they all get better. I don't think it's a bad thing to feel this way. It is ultimately the reality of the situation. I am powerless to affect many things, and this is one of them. Meanwhile I'm trying to juggle all my class work which is due tomorrow, and planning on working through the night, just so I can be available to help with whoever wakes up in the middle of the night and needs something. The Lord is faithful.

Have a great week.

b

random

Well, I've decided to start a new blog at a different host site. Here it is. I'm told it's easier to make it sharp-looking by people who know more than I do. Anyway, I don't have time for this right now, and should be in the process of being more productive at the moment, so I'm off. More to follow.

Peace!

Bill