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    Paris and Thanksgiving

    25 11.15

    Dear Friends,

    I just returned from a few days in Paris.  After a grand celebration of our Dutch worship album in Holland and Mission Worship in England, I decided to make the short flight from London to Paris to see my youngest daughter. No need to describe the joy I felt when I hugged her.  A photo will do.

    Since her apartment is only a few blocks from where some of the horrific events took place, we visited both areas to reflect and mourn with others who were lighting candles, leaving flowers and saying prayers. Thousands of people including UK Prime minister David Cameron and France’s President Hollande visited the sites as well.  Shocking events like these force you to think about your response.  The “first out of the gate” reaction may be one of anger, fear, or revenge.  But after a few days, you have a chance to give a more thoughtful response, tempered by prayer and reflection.

    Many of you read my earlier message about the Bataclan (here’s a link to the article online).  More than 7,000 people downloaded the free songs that we gave away as our first response to the events in Paris.  My personal follow up response will be when I’ll be with my family in Philadelphia celebrating Thanksgiving Day.  Even if you live outside of the USA, I ask you to join me this week in expressing your gratitude to God – grateful for family, forgiveness, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing Jesus.

    Often during our Leadworship Workshops (next one in Ocala, FL on February 19-20, 2016.  Join us!) we invite husbands and wives to hold hands and pray for their relationship.  We pray for relationships between teams, worship pastors and senior pastors. I love that I’m serving a God of redemption. As I walked by the devastation on Boulevard Voltaire yesterday, I realized I want to have a third response.  Whenever the building has been repaired and re-opened, I want to return to the Bataclan.  I can’t wait to have another worship night there, a time of redemption. We’ll sing Matt Redman’s song:

    Blessed be Your name. On the road marked with suffering.  Though there’s pain in the offering.  Blessed be Your name.

    May all of you experience God’s peace during the holidays.



    Le Bataclan

    16 11.15

    As I was driving to the airport on a rainy Seattle day, I received a text message from my daughter who is studying in Paris.  It simply said “I’m in my apartment and I’m okay”.

    I had just finished worshiping with 1000 fellow believers that morning.  After checking my phone for news, the preliminary reports about the horrible events that took place in Paris started trickling in.
    Less than 6 months earlier, the entire Bataclan theatre had been full also as in the photo above.  We had gathered there with French worshipers to worship the only true God of Peace. It was an electrifying worship night that I remember vividly.  If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know France has a special place in my heart.  My grandparents came from Paris, my parents still spoke French with each other occasionally, and after visiting France a few years ago, I fell in love with the country of my ancestors.  I’ve met some precious believers there who’ve quickly become life friends. Last year, my daughter moved to Paris to study French.  And we’ve recorded 2 French worship albums that I know have encouraged French speaking believers, both in and outside of France.
    Just last year, I was much closer to a similarly tragic event.  We had just finished a tour of Asia, ending the journey with an amazing celebration in Kuala Lumpur. Few things are more joyful to me than worshiping God together with believers in other nations. As the band flew home, I had decided to join my manager and bass player for a 2-day stopover in Beijing before flying home.  My manager’s daughter had just moved there to study Chinese for a year.
    So on February 24, we boarded Malaysian Airlines flight MH 360 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Just 12 days later, a Malaysian airliner flew that exact same route and disappeared forever.
    In this broken world, tragedy can strike us in what seems like the most random moments.  We can miss it by just a few miles, like my daughter did, or miss it by a few days, as I did in February 2014.
    Today we grieve with those that have lost their loved ones in an event that was meant to cause pain and fear.  Though we can’t avoid the pain, thoughts of fear I won’t entertain.  I’ve dedicated my life to worshiping a God of love and kindness and there is no room for fear.
    If you know anyone in your family, your church, or your circle of friends and acquaintances that speaks French, I want to give you a gift of encouragement.  At the bottom of this message, you will find a link.  It contains 14 free worship songs, the entire French Worship Album “Glorieux”, that you are free to give away, email to others. Let songs of worship be our answer to any thoughts of fear that might want to intrude our minds.
    I am determined to respond to the events in Paris with a message of encouragement, peace, joy, and faith in a God who sees our pain and decides to be with us in our spirit as we journey through life.



    Link for a free download of the album “Glorieux”: