Sunday, April 08, 2012

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Before The Throne CD Released!

Just a quick update on how things are going since the new album was released on Saturday, April 5th. We kicked off the day with a great in-store launch party at the Christian Supply Division Street store in Portland and we sang some of our new songs during services at South Lake Foursquare church in West Linn, Oregon that night and the next morning. Sunday night we had a really fun, full album release concert at New Hope church in Clackamas, Oregon. The volunteers who made that night a success blessed us in incredible ways, from lighting, sound and video, to running the CD table. We had a chance to thank the many folks who have continually blessed this ministry, and we were able to honor our wives and Doreen with bouquets of roses. We had a blast!

The next weekend we flew to the bay area to do a concert for the Santa Cruz, CA Pregnancy Resource Center and to sing a few songs during services at the incredibly supportive Twin Lakes Community church in Aptos, CA. The response to the new album has been very good, and we have felt extremely blessed to be able to present our newest project at long last.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Aldersgate, Tim Lewis

Saturday Night (3/1) we took a trip down to Turner, Oregon and sang at Aldersgate Conference Center. We had a great time doing praise and worship along with a concert for a men’s retreat there. We got a great response from the guys at the CD table afterwards and I was able to chat with several people who were extremely moved and encouraged in the Lord during the concert. We chatted at length with some of the guys after the concert and safely got to our homes at around midnight.

One of the highlights for me was that since our sound tech, Will, was sick tonight and Mike Zumstein was out of town, we had the privilege of having Tim Lewis join us, just like old times. Brandon had never met Tim, who has done sound for us a lot in the past and is a gem of a Christian brother, so he was quite happy to meet him at last. Brandon discovered what we’ve all discovered; Tim Lewis is a great guy to work with and such a kind, gentle soul. Brandon said, “I’d love to spend some more time with that guy!”

Isn’t it wonderful to know Christian brothers and sisters whose attitude and actions just seem to refresh others? I feel convicted to ask myself questions like these:

How many times do I let opportunities to bless others go by when all that was needed was a word or a small kindness?

What can I do this week to be a blessing to others and to show the love of Jesus through my life?

What are practical ways I can let people know my appreciation for them and let them know that there is a God that loves them and that I love them too?

Lord, help us all to stir up the faith to allow your love to be expressed through us as we give, love and serve others in the coming days.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lake Grove, Coeur d'Alene

We had the opportunity to sing at our sound tech Will’s parent’s church, Lake Grove Presbyterian Church, on Sunday evening (2/10). It was great to see his family there working on this special event for their church. Steve had some special guests there that night as well. One of the co-owners of the mortgage company that Steve works for came with his sister (who also works with Steve) to see what crazy group Steve is a part of when he’s not in business attire J. He sat right in front of one of the subwoofers so that Steve was able to give him the full bass experience. After the program he seemed very thrilled by it all and we had a great time joking around with him.

We got back on Thursday night (2/14) from our three-day trip to beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for a conference of people involved in running and staffing Christian campgrounds all over the Western states. The Conference was held at the incredible Coeur d’Alene resort there, and was organized by Janet Kerns whom we know well from her organizational involvement at the Cannon Beach Conference Center. One of the speakers said he heard a youth pastor say, “We spend all year packing dynamite into the souls of the kids in our youth group and then we bring them to camp where you guys get to set them off!” We had a great time singing to these servants of God and hearing some great speaking from Pastor Ray Johnston from Bayside Church in Granite Bay, California as he spoke from his Series of messages entitled, “Winning Battles You Can’t Afford To Lose”. One session was called, “Unleashing the Power of Hope”, another was “Balancing Marriage and Ministry”, and “How did the Early Church Become So Effective”. They were all designed to refresh ministries and help restore priorities that get skewed in the midst of the battle. I think it was no coincidence that God allowed us to be in this particularly encouraging conference at the beginning of another year of ministry. We gave Pastor Ray some of our CD’s and he gave us some books that will be very encouraging to us. He gave us a book called, “The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham” by Harold Myra and Marshall Kelly that has been extremely inspirational to me just after reading the first couple of chapters.

We have been hard at work on the album and Jason has worked, at times, around the clock trying to meet the deadline that he set for the release of this album. We are very encouraged by the album that is taking shape and we hope that every bit of the love that has been put into this will be heard and felt by every listener who hears it.

As always we are happy to be God’s servants in this process and hope that many saints will be encouraged and that it can be used as a tool in bringing souls to Christ.

Friday, January 11, 2008

My Job, God's Plan

Since our last Prayer Bulletin we had a very fun time in the studios of KPDQ in Portland chatting with the multi-talented talk show host Georgene Rice, and sharing clips of our newest music during the 5:00pm rush hour period on Wednesday the 19th of December. On Saturday the 22nd we sang for morning services and shared an evening concert with our friends at Vancouver SDA, and on Sunday the 23rd we got up bright and early to sing for the uplifting morning services at Beaverton Foursquare. All of these events were incredible blessings and we met many wonderful saints and saw ministry happen.

Behind the scenes in the Sell family, let me share a little of what was happening in our home. Friday the 7th of December (Pearl Harbor Day) my wife called me to tell me that her employer was shutting down the sales portion of her office and that she would be laid off unless she was to move to Des Moines, Iowa. I know people are reading this from all over the world, but Des Moines is a long way away from Oregon, and it’s a LOT different. I almost dismissed the idea right away, because it would put a real crimp in the way RESCUE operates, and I didn't want RESCUE to have to make those kind of adjustments because of my location.

My wife wisely said, “Brian, we need to really look at this and seriously consider that God may want us to move.”

For any husbands who may be reading this, you know that special tone of voice that your wife gets that means business. She’s a wonderful godly woman and I get real nervous stomping around areas where she is feeling a check in her heart, so I agreed.

They wanted to bump up her salary and give her large bonuses if she moved, the cost of living is much lower and we could afford life much more easily than we can on the West coast, my mom will soon be moving back to Omaha, Nebraska and we’d only be two hours from her.

Her company paid our way to Iowa, so to make good on my promise to seriously consider moving we left on Friday the 14th and spent the weekend in Des Moines tooling around the city, looking at neighborhoods, schools, and churches. We spent time with the people she’d be working with at the office there. I am surprised to tell you that we loved what we saw. Things were definitely stacking up in favor of moving. We found a great area, we could get twice the house for less than what we were paying, the schools were the best in the state, and we found a really great church nearby that reminded us of our home church. Kim loved the people she would be working with and had already spent a week with them as part of her training earlier this year. By the end of that weekend, only three pieces of the puzzle remained. How quickly could we get our house sold, what was I going to do for work, and how would this all play out for RESCUE.

Did I mention that we got back on Sunday the 16th and her company needed an answer by the Friday 21st. Only five days to decide. On one hand we had been financially struggling to live here in the Northwest for the last decade. My job hadn’t seen a raise in over five years and 2007 had been one of the most difficult years in a long time for both of our jobs, but we also had the incredible blessing of being a part of RESCUE. On the other hand we had possibilities of a much better life for our family if we moved. The advice that I was getting from all of my elders, family, friends, and other RESCUE members, was that I needed to think of my family first. But it just seemed wrong to put such a burden on RESCUE, which has been such a gift in my life.

Jason prayed for us throughout the time we were in Des Moines. He was up late nights working on a revised business plan to make it all work if I moved. All of my RESCUE brothers were supportive of us either way and were praying for us.

Then the job offers started rolling in from Des Moines for me. Great jobs, at way better pay! On Wednesday the 19th I let the CEO of our company know that we were seriously considering a move. He said we’d have a chat on later on in the week about what he could do to keep me and that I should have a figure in mind as to what I would need if I were to stay considering the possibility that Kim would be losing out on such a great opportunity.

I have taken to heart and tried to live by Proverbs 25:6-7 where it says,

“Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great; for it is better to be told, ‘Come up here,’ than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.”

Jesus mentioned the same concept in Luke 14:8 and I think that in this day of self promotion we need to stop and realize that God does the promoting, not man. When the time is right God will act on our behalf and good things will happen.

I was feeling more and more that we were going to be moving to Des Moines as the week went on. Thursday afternoon the CEO and I had an hour and a half phone conference. Because of the job offers and seeing what my skills were worth in the industry for the first time, I was emboldened to ask for a large raise. I wasn’t emboldened because I was being prideful and thinking more highly of myself than I ought. I was asking for a very conservative amount in light of the job offers I was getting. Let me assure you that I would never have asked for a raise had I not been through the process of looking for a job in another part of the country. I now had the position of, “walk away power” because I felt secure that my family would be taken care of either way. All I needed to do was simply ask and consider the response.

The response was incredible! Admittedly, I am not accustomed to asking for raises. I am not a savvy money guy, but rarely have I heard of an employer giving an employee more than he asked for. Normally they meet somewhere in the middle. In fact the general consensus was that I should ask for more than I needed so that he would settle on the true amount, but I didn’t. I just couldn’t posture like that. Even so, my employer gave me well over what I was asking for with the distinct possibility, through incentives, of even more than that. I started to wonder what God had in mind. Now the weight was starting to shift back to staying in Oregon.

Out of obedience to our commitment to exhaust all possibilities in Oregon and in Iowa, Kim went to a job interview on Friday the 21st. It was a long-shot, but she went anyway. She called me afterwards and told me that it went incredibly well. She didn’t have the job yet, but it was really looking good, and would be a substantial upgrade in pay, even from the job in Des Moines!

That afternoon she told her employer that we were staying in Oregon and that she was turning down the job in Des Moines!

It was a Moses-at-the-Red-Sea and Isaac-on-the-Altar all rolled into one for me! I know that everyone in RESCUE breathed a sigh of relief. I hadn’t broken into spontaneous dance like that since the day in late 2004 when I heard that Jason wanted to talk to me about joining the group. It would have been embarrassing but I was too joyful to think about it!

Looks like Oregonians are going to have to put up with my presence a bit longer!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Colorado, Singing Christmas Tree, Texas and Arizona

Dear Prayer Team,

It’s been a crazy month full of some great highlights and God’s blessings have been evident throughout! I am writing to you after having our first weekend off in a while, and it was very sweet! I love traveling with RESCUE and seeing what He’s going to do next, but it’s really important to touch base and enjoy some time with our friends and family.

On November 11th we were in Highland Ranch, Colorado at St. Andrew’s United Methodist church for morning services and an evening concert. We had such wonderful host families, and we felt very ministered to by them. This church took a bit of a risk having us in, since we were only known through our CD’s and they weren’t sure what they were going to get live. We had a really great time with them and the response from those in attendance was outstanding. We received this testimony email from someone in the concert:

“Hey guys.”

I was at your concert earlier tonight at St. Andrew and I would like to tell you how grateful I am that I attended. Just by chance I had an extra ticket and I invited my friend to come with me. This friend had recently told me that she was thinking about suicide and I had to talk her out of it several times since then. Jason when you were talking before you performed Come As You Are, you said to lay all the burdens we had on our shoulders at God's feet. She leaned over and thanked me for inviting her, and now I would like to thank you for making such a difference in her life. I got tears in my eyes because I could see so clearly God at work in your ministries, and because you and I together saved her life. You said many things that I could not, and for that you have my gratitude. God bless.”

Please pray that God would continue to give hope to this woman in her most desperate hour.

On November 23rd through 25th RESCUE performed at the Portland Singing Christmas Tree at Keller Auditorium, which I believe is Portland’s largest performing arts theater. RESCUE has been a part of this event several times in the past, but I had not had the chance to be a part of it since I started sing with the group almost three years ago. It was a thrilling time for all of us! We had the chance to share the stage with an amazing choir and some outstanding talented soloists, and we performed for thousands of people during the 6 shows that we did. The first half of the program was a joyous celebration of the traditions of Christmas (we sang a new arrangement of a Brian McKnight song called “Home For The Holidays” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”), and the second half was a heartfelt retelling of the story of Christ’s birth (we sang “Mary Did You Know”). It was a powerful presentation and was a bold proclamation of Jesus in an extremely public forum. In fact the event was listed as the number one show in the local newspaper’s A&E section for that weekend. What a wonderful thing to be a part of. RESCUE is VERY thankful that we were allowed to add our part to this program. Amidst the mass exodus following the programs, many people made the effort to stop by our table and supported our ministry by picking up a CD this year. God is GOOD!

On December 2nd we had the great opportunity to sing in a largely Hispanic church in Mission, Texas called, Primera Baptist Church. The church is about three miles from the border of Mexico and has been trying to get RESCUE there for quite some time. Finally everything came together and we were able to join them for morning services and an evening concert. This fairly small congregation was full of such sweet hearted saints of God, it brings tears to my eyes as I remember them. I didn’t know how our music would translate to them and if it would have any effect at all. God had His way, and as far as I can tell everyone in the house, including us, was blessed by what God did that weekend. Just the fellowship alone was worth the trip down there. This is a congregation that has mobilized their resources to buy property where they have made a place for missionary teams to sleep before they cross into Mexico for ministry. They house many hundreds of saints per year as they bring help to those in need across the border and even those locally who are in great need of the saving power of Jesus Christ! We were humbled that God would allow us to be of encouragement to such a wonderful group of people.

On December 9th and 10th we spent some time with our friends from last year in Phoenix, AZ at Calvary Community. You may remember that this large congregation is meeting in a beautifully converted old mall. We did four services and a 45 minute concert on Sunday night. I remember taking note last year that this was an extremely responsive congregation, but this year was incredible! They were so gracious and kind to us in so many ways and the congregation just seemed to accept and embrace us from the first moment. We are not deserving of such an outpouring of sweet fellowship, but we are very thankful that we get to have these times of refreshing for the many difficult times that come in the period of a year. We heard many, many testimonies of CD’s that were being purchased for those who were in great need. We heard of children afflicted by physical problems that said that the RESCUE CD’s that were played over and over in their hospital rooms were the one thing that they could count on to bring them comfort.

The testimonies that we hear from our brothers and sisters about the ministry of RESCUE speak nothing of us, the weak, wounded and flawed vessels, but they speak countless volumes of a caring, loving and concerned Father in Heaven.

Friday, November 09, 2007

An Incredible Month!

Dear Prayer Team,

October (and the beginning of November) has been one of the most exciting and memorable months that I’ve had since I started singing with RESCUE!

We started off with an ACSI conference in Portland. Then we made a trip to the Sacramento, California area for an ACSI conference, a visit to New Folsom State Prison, Folsom Community Bible Church and Pollack Pines Baptist Church. We sang at fundraising banquets for Emmaus Christian School (Cornelius, OR), Options Pregnancy Resource Center (Corvallis, OR), and Options 360 Pregnancy Clinic (Vancouver, WA). We sang at a pastor’s breakfast hosted by local Christian radio station KPDQ and sponsored by several Christian businesses and organizations, with main speaker Luis Palau. We were the special music over four days at the first ever men’s retreat at Hume Lake Christian Camp about an hour and a half out of Fresno, California. And last Saturday night we sang at the First Presbyterian Church in Salem, Oregon.

I’ll just mention a few of the highlights that happened during this incredible month.

Last Sunday we sang to a very responsive and excited group at the First Presbyterian Church in Salem. Afterwards we met many wonderful people who made us feel right at home. There was a particularly talented high school aged young man who spent six and a half hours earlier that day penciling portraits of us based on the photos on our website. We were floored when he gave us the originals! Steve has scanned them for us and I’ll try to post them to my blog so you can see his wonderful art work.

Hume Lake Christian Camp was an incredibly uplifting time for all of us. The main speakers were Stu Webber, Ken Hutcherson and Steve Farrar. I felt so blessed to be able to sing at a conference like this because the speakers were so incredible and God’s truth was being shared so eloquently, I was personally compelled to respond in worship to God. RESCUE was just the outlet I needed! We had the chance to speak with Stu and Ken and they were both very encouraging of our ministry. The outpouring of love and support we felt from the guys who attended this conference was nothing short of overwhelming. We dined so fully on the word of God and had such encouragement through fellowship that I left there feeling like I was overflowing. It was just the thing we needed during this busy season. They also gave us CDs of all of the sessions. Kim and I have been enjoying these encouraging messages as we drive to work in the mornings.

Finally I wanted to mention New Folsom Prison. I recognized the Chaplain from our first visit and it was great to see him again. He is such a big-hearted man who has been burdened to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have been cut off. His life is a testimony to us. Since there is only one chapel per yard in the prison, it is shared by people of different faiths. I was noticing the Muslim literature had been laid out carefully on the table in the back before our session with the inmates. There was fog that morning and the Chaplain told us that we should pray that God would lift the fog so that the guards would feel comfortable to escort them from their cells to the chapel. The fog did not entirely lift. But God had a plan you see because as it turns out, the officers allowed them to be escorted to the chapel but they did not allow them to enter the yard for normal activities. So, those who were cleared to come to the concert ended up having no other choice unless they wanted to stay in their cell. We were blessed to be able to sing for a nearly full chapel! After the concert the Chaplain let us know that there were many who were there and even some who had greeted us who were Muslim. He would have you pray for the souls of those who heard the Gospel that day that the seed that was planted would grow into a fully converted life.

On our way back from Sacramento we stopped in Pollack Pines, California to sing for their morning service. God allowed all of our voices to make it through the trip to California and we were able to finish strong that morning. Afterwards, as we broke down our equipment and carted it out to the trailer we noticed a little girl darting around from pew to pew. I thought she was picking up the bulletins and Sunday school papers that were left there, but awhile later her mom came down the center aisle with the little girl hiding behind her, blushing. “My daughter really wants to meet you guys but she is too shy.”

We all stopped what we were doing and greeted her and her mom.

Her mom continued,” We heard that you guys just came back from Folsom. Her father is very sick and did some bad things. His arraignment is just about over and it looks like he’ll be going to jail for a while. We’re hoping he’ll get well while he’s there. This little girl has been through a lot.”

We told the little girl that we were sorry about what was happening ... that God very much loves her and has a plan for her life.

Then her mom said, “We can’t afford a CD but she was wondering if she could get your signatures.”

As she was speaking I saw Brandon quietly sneak away, and I thought I knew what he was up to. We signed her paper and Brandon reappeared with some CDs for her. We quickly ripped off the wrapping and signed them for her. It felt like such a tiny thing to do for a girl who was facing such a difficult life, but at the same time we always feel confident that when we share a RESCUE CD that it has a lot of Bible scripture woven throughout and that God will use His holy scriptures to encourage and bless his children no matter what type of circumstances they are in.

I remember looking at Steve as we walked away, and he said, “Something like that makes it all worth it!”

Thanks for your prayers! We wouldn’t be able to continue without them.