There and Back Again…

Well, we made it to Waco and back. It was, for me, an amazing journey. I've been trying to describe the weekend to folks and I'm having a hard time summing it up or accurately capturing the beauty of the trip. I've tried describing it like this...25 years ago I was a freshman at Baylor University. During Welcome Week I sat on the right side of Waco Hall watching as Michael W. Smith debuted a song called Rocketown. That same year a guy named Louie Giglio started a bible study called Choice at a friend of mine's apartment. I never made it to that bible study, but over the 4 years I was at Baylor it grew to be a worship gathering of over 2,000 students every Monday night. My wife (girlfriend at the time) Laura and I had a spiritual awakening during the last couple of years she was there. We started attending Choice. The Lord spoke many truths thru Louie into our lives. These were things we'd heard before, but had never connected with on a heart-level. This is where we really began to grow in Christ for the first time. During my 4 & 1/2 years there, I lived with a guy from my hometown named Todd Brandenburger. We also lived with another guy from Eagle Lake, Texas - Mike Sibley. Our house was near 10th & Speight, just up the street from Vitek's BBQ - home of the "Gut Pack" & right around the corner from the ghetto HEB (our grocery store). I played in a rock band called The Spin that had a significant following on the Baylor campus there in the late-80's/early-90's.

All of that is just some set up for where I was this weekend. Most of our time this past weekend was spent in Waco Hall, just up Speight Street from our old house. On the way down from Kansas City, we stopped at my mom's house in Lewisville . Most of the band ended up staying with Todd and Sharon Brandenburger, who live just around the corner from my mom. As a side note, Todd & Sharon supported me financially when I first started at Jacob's Well and his dad, Jack, gave a large contribution to the building of the studio, where we have recorded our albums. Being with them reminded me of God's provision and His hand in the music we make and the community that's built up around all this music.

From mom's, we headed on down to Waco and went straight to Vitek's for some BBQ. The Gut Pack was just as I remembered it...Fritos, Chilli, Cheese, Spicy Sausage, Chopped Beef, Onions, Pickles, Jalapenos...completely delicious! We went by our old house and then to the Dr. Pepper museum. We then went over to Waco Hall and met my friend Jim Cocke. Jim was another friend during my Baylor days that basically got the band I was playing in at the time our first shows in Dallas. He also played on most of our records and played in a band with me called Builder for a while. Jim now works at Crystal Clear CDs, the company that prints and packages our CDs. He was there with boxes of the new CD in hand. They look beautiful btw...

That night was the first session. As the Welcome Wagon started playing I got really nervous..."oh my gosh, we're going to play down there on that stage..." Francis Chan got up to speak and one of the first things he said was, "we should be singing songs like they were singing in Exodus 15, why aren't we singing songs like this?" He went on to teach thru Exodus 15 - which is the first example of corporate worship in the Old Testament. It just so happens that our song Horse and Rider was the first song on our set list. Horse and Rider is pretty much just us singing Exodus 15. At that moment I breathed in and recognized that God had us there in Waco for a reason and that He was with us.

The 2nd day was great too...Bifrost Arts opened up the morning with some beautiful liturgical worship. Then Rob Bell spoke about the kinds of words we use in worship. I really was resonating with him and felt like he was challenging us to be more thoughtful in the imagery we are using in worship music. I felt, again, like he was affirming what we are trying to do with our music and lyrics at Jacob's Well. I was still super nervous though...

Friday afternoon, Laura and I went with Cole and Macyann to visit Baylor's Art Building. This was where Laura spent most of her time as an Intaglio major. It was a perfect time for us to visit, as two of her professors were there. We got to talk for a long time to Mr. Klingman - the printmaking professor...It was so cool, he still had one of Laura's prints up on display as an example to current students of "good" work. It was a full size print of me...funny...We then went down the hall to where Mr. McCoy (Laura's ceramics professor) was teaching a drawing class. He came to the door and said, "may I help you?" I said, "Mr. McCoy, I don't know if you'll remember me, my name is Mike Crawford and I used to play in a band called The Spin..." His eyes got huge and he shouts out, "oh my gosh, you guys were KICK ASS!" My kids (and his students) all looked over at us like "what the heck is going on???" It was a huge blessing to see them both.

That night, Louie Giglio (see above) spoke...Before he went on, I had a chance to talk with him a little bit. I told him Laura's and my was really cool to be able to thank someone for doing the Lord's work and being able to tell them what it meant in your life. As I'm standing there telling him all this, he says, "it's so cool that we are meeting here - right across the street from 7th & James Church where we used to meet for Choice"...It was in that moment that I recognized the significance of this trip, the significance of being in this place. I felt  like God was telling me something. I felt like He was saying, "Mike, I've been walking with you for 25 years, working in your life when you couldn't see it, waiting for you when you were doing things on your own, listening to you when you were desperate, crying with you when you were sad (like that time when you had to leave your dad sitting in his chair, dying of cancer - you knew it would be the last time you saw him - when you got to your car and had to turn back around and you walked slowly back to the front door, crying, and you opened the door to find him crying, knowing that he would probably never see you again and you climbed up into his lap as a 21 year old and sobbed uncontrollably as he asked you to take care of your sister and your mother and you told him "I'll try dad" and then you drove back to Waco, you remember that drive, thinking that things would never  quite be the same - I was there on that trip back to Waco with you - it seems like so long ago, but it really wasn't that long ago...). I've been setting some things up for just this weekend, I want you to know that I like you a lot, a whole lot, and I'm proud of what you are doing with your life."

Louie went out and spoke about was an astronomical talk...he spoke about how everything worships, how everything in the universe is singing, how our "bandwidth" is pretty limited in what we see and hear, how the universe is resonating with worship to our Creator.

He showed us a picture of “Globular Cluster 47 Tuc”  which has 24 rotating pulsars that vibrate to the point of making an audible sound that we can pick up with equipment from something like 200 billion times 1,000 miles away!

Listen to 47 Tuc


We stuck around that night and listened to John Mark McMillan play - it was an amazing set...

The next morning I was scheduled to give a talk at a workshop. Again, I was extremely nervous. I'm not a public speaker and don't have much experience teaching. We were pretty much unknown going into the conference, so I was thinking maybe 10 people would be at the workshop. I was speaking in Roxy Grove Hall - a pipe organ concert hall and chapel. About 350 people showed up - standing room only - I was even more nervous then...But as I began to speak I felt like God had me there for a reason. I felt like the Lord was actually speaking thru me, encouraging other worship pastors through my lived out experience of 10 years at Jacob's Well. I spoke for about 50 minutes and when it was done, it seemed like folks responded in a great way.

We walked straight from the workshop to sound-check...we played our set and, for the most part, I think we did ok. We were pretty rushed in sound-check, so I don't think any of us were really hearing like we needed to. None-the-less, it seemed like people were blessed. I talked with quite a few folks afterward who really connected with our songs. That was a huge blessing to get to talk with those folks...Crowder got up after we played and gave us some big props, talking about our record, basically saying we are on the right path, that the church should be making music like the music we're making. It was humbling and we felt so honoured to play music at the conference...

We loaded up the van and drove back to my mom's house. My mom and step-dad took us to the grocery store and bought steaks, baked potatoes, a huge salad and lots of wine. We went home and cooked out on the back porch. The evening felt perfect. The temperature was sort of that "no temperature" temperature. You know, where you can't feel it on your skin, like 68 or 70 degrees, not hot, not cold, just perfect...There was a fire in the chimenea and we were sitting around waiting for the steaks to cook. I looked at my friend, Andy Michael, and said "I feel like I'm in heaven right now, this really is eternal life. I'm with my family and good friends, we're drinking some good wine, we're sitting outside under a beautiful autumnal sky waiting for a huge feast. It doesn't get any better than this." I honestly don't know if I've ever felt that sense of God being with me as I felt last Saturday night. I hope this post doesn't feel like someone bragging about themselves...

I feel like my life was all converging in one weekend and my heart was so full of praise and thanksgiving. I've never had a weekend that was so intense and I may never have one like that again. I wanted to write it down so that I wouldn't forget that God does beautiful things like this...I'm so thankful to David Crowder for inviting us into such a space...

14 thoughts on “There and Back Again…

  1. Thank you for putting more words to the con­fer­ence. Tru­ly, it was a bless­ing to be there. It was def­i­nite­ly an ever­last­ing expe­ri­ence, the bride of Christ gath­er­ing to wor­ship the ever­last­ing Father. It was soul-ful­fill­ing, very real. Again, thank you for your songs, they touched my soul deeply.

  2. wow, i’m hap­py for you that this was such a life-con­firm­ing expe­ri­ence for you.. my wife and i attend­ed the con­fer­ence, and your music was (for me) one of the high­lights — so hon­est and grit­ty… thanks for what you do! 

    Pineville, LA

  3. I am smil­ing huge­ly read­ing this, your sto­ry of God’s ever last­ing pres­ence in your life. I am so very hap­py for you Mike, and can attest that in the same way God worked through Louie to speak to you, He is now doing the same through you for many oth­ers, myself includ­ed. Amen. And Amen forever­more.

  4. I teared up as I read this. . so amaz­ing. . we are all so thank­ful for you and your music, Mike! Thanks for shar­ing about the great weekend/experience.

  5. I am soo proud of you and thank­ful for your abil­i­ty to share your tes­ti­mony through this writ­ing and your music! Love and hugs!

  6. OH my word! Michael John, you are a total bless­ing from God! It is so beau­ti­ful to hear that God uses you to bring inspi­ra­tion to oth­ers through your jour­ney with Christ! I am so proud of you, always have been! It seems like your life as a whole came full cir­cle that week­end, that is so cool! Bay­lor was used to lay a foun­da­tion for liv­ing your life for Christ, and now, you Have such a deep rela­tion­ship with Him, God revealed that to you. An ‘ah ha’ KINDA MOMENT. God is AWESOME KNDA MOMENT! And believe me when I say that you hon­oured our dad when you told him you would “try” to take care of your mom and sis­ter. Every­time I am in need of spir­i­tu­al guidence, you are the first per­son I run, too. God is in con­stant use of your obi­di­ence to Him, and you, by your faith­ful­ness, you reach oth­ers in ways unimag­in­able. Even peo­ple you don’t know. An exam­ple of this is 2 of my dear­est friends here in WAsh­ing­ton, were hav­ing such a hard time and I down­load­ed “Words To Build A Life On” on my iPod and let them lis­ten to it. They were both in tears and said God is good, that is just what I need­ed to hear, Thank You! It kin­da reminds me of the peace and pow­er that Dad’s book of poems gives to peo­ple! I still give out dad’s book of poems that he wrote to peo­ple as a gift. A gift, that God gave to dad, to share with oth­ers. I love the fact that I can keep Dad’s words and mes­sages, God inspired of course,to others.…It’s just so cool to see how God has used both of you to inspire oth­ers! That sounds exact­ly what the word of God does for peo­ple, may­be I should be hand­ing out the bible? But you know what I mean,right? So here’s to your jour­ney, Michael John, God bless you always, and when we are all in heav­en we will rejoice at the fact that, the weath­er is per­fect, the com­pa­ny spec­tac­u­lar , the wine good and remem­ber­ing that God was always with us, even when we didn’t real­ize it!
    I love you,
    Michelle *sis­ter*

  7. Praise God for how he is using your tes­ti­mony and tal­ents! I shed some tears of joy read­ing your and Michelle’s posts. I’m cer­tain your dad is beam­ing in heav­en and know your moth­er is so proud as well. Keep on shin­ing for HIM! (Your moth­er keeps me updat­ed on your min­istry.)

  8. Where can I pur­chase Time and Back Again? I loved Mikes voice in Builder. Fight­ing type of rare Leukemia that old­er adults get. I would love to know more about his work here. Look for­ward to hear­ing from you.


  9. Mike,

    I was fan of The Spin. Great mem­o­ries, and you guys were such good peo­ple. I’m glad to have been a part of your fol­low­ing dur­ing the late 80’s at Bay­lor. The Spin and The Exec­u­tives were a an eye open­er that great music didn’t have to come from else­where.
    Any chance I can find The Spin’s first album to pur­chase any­where? I do have your cd The God­dess of Love.

    Be well, thanks for the mem­o­ries.


  10. The Spin House! I remem­ber being there as a fresh­man in 1987. Thought it was the coolest place ever

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