Shark vs Oreck: Our 22-Second Vacuum Cleaner Review

This is how I like product reviews. Short, sweet, and conducted by real people in authentic environments.

This one is 22-seconds long, and shows what our new Shark did after just two times through our house. Needless to say, it picked up the dregs of what our Oreck had been leaving behind.

Gross.

Here’s a link to this vacuum on Amazon.com.

ch:

Just Before the End of the World

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Just before the end of the world, Jennifer Lee and I snuck in one more anniversary.

But we cheated.

When we chose our wedding date 9 years ago, we consulted the Mayan calendar.

Nice when a plan comes together.

Babe: Thanks for walking beside me and making these the greatest 9 years of my life. I’ll stand with you on the edge of eternity any day, and leap.

Forever yours,

(at least until the Zombie Apocalypse)

ch:

Opening for Phil Wikcham

The only thing better than hosting Phil Wickham at your church is being asked by the promoter to open for Phil Wickham at your church. Such a privilege is exactly what Jenny and I will be doing on Sunday, October 21st at 6pm, along with The Royal Royal.

If you’d like more information, including tickets, please visit New Life.

ch:

Oil Not For Sale

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It’s not often that I get to play drums anymore.

I’m rusty, so that’s a liability to a leader.

I don’t have much time to get un-rusty.

And there are better drummers all around me.

But every now and then the forces of heaven and earth align themselves in such away that I get to step up.

Last night I had the privilege of serving one of my dearest friends, Mike Kim, as he kicked off our Momentum Leadership Advance at New Life. The conference is specifically for our over 200 leaders and volunteers – just to bless and encourage them.

Mike made mention earlier in the day that he’s been dwelling a lot on the subject of oil in the Bible. No, not the oil that our political parties are playing with at the expense of our families’ wallets. The anointing oil of the Holy Spirit. And neither you or I can afford it.

Good thing it’s a gift.

Mike truly has the oil of God on his life, and we were all soaking in it last night. There’s nothing quite like prolonged times in God’s presence, waiting on him and delighting in his pleasure.

Many thanks to the rest of the team: Jennifer Hopper, Jacob Widrick, Jason Rodgers, Daniel Gilchrist, David Woodkirk, Tammy Desormo, Joseph Gilchrist, and Tim Desormo.

Probably the greatest moment for me was when my father Peter came up backstage left and started playing the cowbell behind me (pictured below) – something he taught me to do behind him when I was just a boy and he was the drummer. Full circle. Resulted in the best text message ever (below).

Picking it back up this morning with Pastor Pierre du Plessis from The Father’s House in Rochester, NY. ch:

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[Picture by Nina Hopper]

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Just Point and Click

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Jennifer asked me to shoot a few pictures of her and Levi while it was snowing yesterday morning. She came downstairs in a beautiful black gown, and she asked me to wrap Levi up in one of her favorite blankets.

What happened next was magic.

With the snow gently falling, she and Levi posed in our front yard, supported in the background by a melancholy thicket of branches bowing under the weight of the heaven-sent dust.

All I had to do was depress the shutter.

Sometimes in life we get golden opportunities – opportunities where we couldn’t take a bad picture if we tried. But we must realize that our good fortune is actually the result of someone else’s preparation, talent, and natural gift.

Turns out Jennifer had been planning what she’d wanted for a while. She’d already thought through the wardrobe, the the need for light snow, and the locale. That combined with her natural beauty and Levi’s 10+ cuteness-factor made for a perfect storm.

Anything wonderful that befalls us is never an accident. Whether a job promotion, church growth, new friendships, a break in the monotony, or a new successful idea, we’re standing on the shoulders of others and recipients of the divine.

The sooner we realize life-gifts have very little to do with us and a whole lot more to do with others, the sooner we’ll start to trust God in his infinitely wise provision and enjoy the process of responding. Which usually is just depressing the shutter and looking on in awe. ch:

Cover design by Jennifer Hopper. Friend her on facebook.com/jenniferhopper to see the whole album.

Born To

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My wife was born to worship, and born to inspire others to worship.

Yes she’s also a remarkable wife, a sacrificial mother, a faithful friend, a talented photographer, and a gifted songwriter.

But she was born to help people enter the presence of the Lord with her voice.

We do not choose gifts, gifts choose us.

We may want to be a world-class golfer or an elite scientist, but all our hoping and hard work can never acquire what God has placed innately within us. One of the worst things that could befall out destiny is to be successful at something we were never born to do.

Don’t fight your natural gifts because your appetite is for success in something else. That’s jealousy, and it leads to death. Instead, embrace your God-given talents.

True maturity is being content with what we will never be. Cherish who you are and what you’ve been born with. Then pursue it. ch:

UPDATE: For those looking for my notes from today’s message, here’s a free PDF of them: MESSAGE: A New Look

Resisting Squishy Pot Syndrome

by Jennifer Hopper

[PHOTOS BY: JENNIFER HOPPER]

No, I’m not about to reveal the secrets of curing soggy marijuana leaves. (Hippies).

This week I had the joy of speaking for a YWAM School of Worship in Yverdon. Pictured here with my dear friend and translator Sylvain Freymond (also one of Switzerland’s most beloved worship leaders and songwriters), I shared on accessing God’s heart of creativity and principles of group leadership. Teaching in this format – a pair of two-hour classes each day – is something I look forward to, and something I’ve become good at.

But I wasn’t always good at it.

Ten years ago I was asked to teach eight-hours a day for five days straight in northern France. I was scared. Mortified would be a better word. I compiled the notes of every sermon I’d ever preached and scribbled countless reminders of sermons I’d heard preached growing up. I thought for sure that I’d share everything I’d ever learned in first two-hour block.

Back then I was a nervous wreck. Today I’m thrilled for the opportunity.

That’s because some of the greatest joys in my life have only recently been discovered.

That may not seem like a very meaningful statement, but given the fact that our culture largely broadcasts what you should be enjoying right now, waiting for things is hardly status quo, nor is the process of building long-term expectation.

Have sex now. Make lots of money now. Be popular now. Get what you want now. Don’t wait. And if you do wait, you’re missing out on everything. 

But acting prematurely has some serious side-affects.

A pot that decides it should be filled with water before it’s fired in a kiln becomes a pile of watery clay by the end of the day. No matter how ready it thinks it is, the potter knows the vessel is simply incapable of fulfilling its purpose without engaging in the process of development.

Sure, I should have been happy with the opportunity to preach for a week ten years ago – and to a certain extent I was – but it wasn’t enjoyable. I needed time, coaching, and experience before I was truly ready to look at the invitation and discover the joy of doing it.

Becoming a husband and father has been much the same process. Oh, how I argued with God countless times, telling him I was ready for marriage, pleading (and pushing) for my spouse to be revealed. But he knew the vessel needed to be fired. And to a certain extent, I’m still being fired.

God is never late and he’s rarely early. He knows what he’s doing, and he will not be held hostage by pop culture or our adolescent demands.

Just remember that some of the greatest, most enjoyable moments in your life have yet to arrive. Recognizing the process is just as much a part of the arrival helps steady our impatience and temper the steel of our expectations.

Plus, being a squishy heap of soggy clay is downright embarrassing. Get fired and be useful long-term. ch:

Somewhere Over Frink Park

Jennifer and I had a wonderful evening leading worship at Frink Park in Clayton, NY last night. Joseph Gilchrist sat in on drums, and his brother Daniel on bass.

With a huge storm front moving in from the south, we decided to start early as there was already a good amount of people seated. We asked the Lord to hold off the rain, then told the audience we’d play as long as we could.

After more than an hour of playing, the dark sky loomed overhead. I turned to Jenny and asked her to sing one last song. She picked our favorite: Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Just as she started the bridge, she pointed up behind the audience and said, “I just want everyone to know there’s a giant rainbow up there.” To all our amazement, right on cue, a rainbow appeared. As if God was reminding us once again of his promises, and heard our request to keep the rain off.

As we pulled out of Clayton with all the gear packed away, the storm hit. Hard.

I asked people to take pics and send them to me so I could make a collage and post it here. If you were there last night and see a photo you took, please leave a comment below so we know who you are and can give you props.

Thanks to all those who came out; we love playing for the hometown crowd. ch:

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Shock & Awe

Most pictures my wife takes catch me off guard. But the ones that do the most are the images that remind me how much God blessed me the day she became my wife.

Not quite sure how I have less hair and she gets more beautiful. But I definitely got the better end of the bargain.

Husbands, love your wives today. Wives, send your husband a picture* to remind him just how blessed he is. (*This could be dangerous). ch:

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Photo by Jennifer Hopper

My Best Friend

So many of my posts are about my kids. Let’s face it: they are a source of endless content.

But the most important person in my life next to Jesus is my wife, Jennifer. My bride. My best friend. My second Holy Spirit. My inspiration when I’m at my lowest, and my checks and balances when I’m aloft. I would be dead without her.

And as I was taking some pictures of her this morning to capture the last few weeks of her pregnancy, I was once again spellbound by her beauty, and awestruck at exactly how and why the Lord gave me such a perfect gift.

I love you, Jenny Lee. ch:


How To make Your Wife Happy #139

Jennifer Hopper iPhone 4 Surprise

I know what all you men are thinking: “Where are ways #1-#138?”

Let’s just say this is a family friendly blog, not a “family making” blog.

Today we’ll cover Way #139: iPhone 4 Wonderment

Step One: Secretly plot to buy your wife a new iPhone 4 (or whatever generation is currently “in” at time of reading this article). Please note this may involve months of saving, and in the event that your wife keeps the books, accruing a stash of cash that she won’t notice*.

[*Refer to Anarchists Guide to Money Laundering for Dummies when necessary.]

Step Two: Make a stop to your fast food joint of choice to acquire a brown paper bag. Please note that you may wish to purchase food substances to ensure realistic grease spots and true-to-life fast food smell. For best results: Choose a night which your wife previously mentions** she wants to cook  a “big dinner.” The adjectives “large,” “fancy,” or “special,” may also be used; when “special” is used, it is suggested that all offspring are “conveniently” removed from the home as this particular surprise may merit merriment not suitable for anyone else but you and your wife.

[**Listening skills required.]

Christopher Hopper Brown Paper Bag

Step Three: Insert activated iPhone 4 into brown paper bag. For best results: Have AT&T activate phone as close to intended delivery as possible so iPhone is “user ready” when she removes it from the bag. This ensures maximum wonderment effect.

Step Four: OPTIONALAssume patent-pending “Fast Food Drink Cam Grip” (or simply FFDCG for short) to accurately record the surprise, and yet hide that fact that you’re doing so. Please note that perspiration on cup’s exterior may inhibit recording device’s functionality; it’s best to drain cup of liquid prior to recording.

Christopher Hopper Fast Food Drink Cam Grip

Step Five: Walk into house casually, faux-surprised at the “big dinner” she’s making and offer her a burger and fries. (Utilizing the FFDCG here only adds to the illusion that you’ve “forgotten” about dinner).

Step Six: Enjoy whatever happens next. Watch my experience below.

PS :: I love you, Jenny Lee. ch:

Creation Festival 2010 :: Recap

Creation Candlelight Service 2010

Christopher Hopper on fire

[Feeling the groove; photo by Jennifer Hopper]

when words get in the way:

How do you describe heaven?

Sure, how many people do you know who have been there and back, right? And of those few books by people who have claimed to visit it, do you really fully believe them? Not entirely.

My point is, how do you communicate something as awe-inspiring as eternity?

You don’t.

And the thing about heaven is, it’s billions of people, created beings, universes of creations worshiping Jesus. The very fact that they exist is worship to Him.

I think there are moments, glorious moments, here on earth where heaven touches down. Sometimes fleeting, sometimes grand. But divine at the core.

Perfect? No. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? The divine co-mingling with something imperfect to make it glorious.

Christopher Hopper at Creation Fest 2010

[An abstract shot of me during our Late Night set; photo by Jennifer Hopper]

jamming the midnight oil:

Thursday night July 1st, Paul Rohling and I took center stage as the Late Night act. And you couldn’t keep the smiles off of either of our faces (except when we were focused on not messing up; see below). Those that ventured out for the midnight slot were granted a rare performance of material from our duet CD, as well as some new songs, and lots of spontaneous musings. To be sure, the air was electric, and we fed off it, going on musical tangents neither of us had ever explored before. No night would be complete without Erin and Jenny joining us with their sultry voices, and Jennifer dedicated “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” to Pastor Harry Thomas, Creation founder and president, for his birthday. We’ve never had such encouraging feedback from any set as we have with this one; even Harry was getting emails the following morning saying how much fun people had. No promises, but here’s to a repeat performance in 2011!

Paul Rohling at Creation Fest 2010

[Paul Rohling tearing it up on his acoustic during the Late Night set.]

Erin Rohling

[Erin Rohling singing a Barlow Girls song at our Late Night set; photo by Jennifer Hopper]

Christopher Hopper's pedals for Creation Fest 2010

[My pedals, set list, and iPhone; photo by Jennifer Hopper]

Paul Rohling going it solo

[Paul going it solo; photo by Jennifer Hopper]

Paul Rohling at Creation 2010 (3)

[Tearing it up on the Tele. I seriously don't know how his fingers move that fast; photo by Jennifer Hopper]

into the woods:

Two days later I had the distinct honor of addressing over 2,000 attendees from the secluded stage of “Woods 1.” I was quite surprised at just how many people actually showed up to my session, as it’s quite a hike into the forest. I shared on one of my “heart messages” entitled, “Born To Affect Culture.” We had lots of laughs, divine pauses, and even a boy’s bloody knee! (You had to be there). It’s one thing to play music for people, but it’s quite another to be responsible with the teaching and preaching of the Word. While it’s nothing new to me, I kept reminding myself, “Christopher, don’t mess this up.” Thanks, Jesus.

Christopher Hopper preaching at Creation 2010

[Gearing up to get my preach on; photo by Ethan Taylor]

Christopher Hopper preaching at Creation 2010 (2)

[It's all about focus; photo by Ethan Taylor]

Christopher Hopper in the Woods at Creation 2010

[Something about those woods; photo by Ethan Taylor]

worshiping with the remnant:

The majority of people head home on Saturday night after the main event. But a die-hard core of lingering music heads stays through the final night and helps pick up in the morning. And for them we held one last service. Miles McKee from Ireland gave a beautiful Gospel message; no matter how many times I hear about Jesus’ sacrifice, it never gets old…and certainly not in an Irish accent. For my part, I had the joy of leading the tent meeting in worship. It brought back many memories of tent meetings as a boy; something about the smell of canvas and grass does that.

Pastor Harry Thomas during Sunday Morning Service at Creation

[Pastor Harry Thomas during the Sunday Morning Service.]

seeing like the Father:

The Christian Music Industry. Say that and you’ll get a pretty broad range of responses, everything from, “I love K-LOVE!” to, “Bogus,” to, “It has it’s own industry?”

And I’ll admit it, I have my own biases. Even to the point where I question if such an industry should exist. (GodTube? Seriously?).

But there was one common thread I witnessed that literally transformed my attitude entirely. Harry Thomas.

No matter who was on stage, you could find Harry watching on, bopping, lifting his hands, singing along. At first I was stunned. Really? I mean, here’s a guy who is the cross between Jesus (on the inside) and Santa Clause (on the outside). If you don’t love the guy you have serious issues. But more than twice my age (love you, Harry), he’s the last guy you’d expect to be dancing to Skillet stage-right.

And then it struck me. He’s wasn’t looking at them, judging how much or how little of Jesus they had, or how strong their ministry was, or even how successful they were making the customers’ experience. He was latching on to whatever looked like Jesus and celebrating it.

And I realized just how much like the Father that is.

Paul’s defining words, “I rejoice that Christ is preached,” seemed to echo in the air (Philippians 1:15-18).

God doesn’t look at us and cheer for us only when we’re 90% “in” to Him; He looks for anything that pleases Him–even if it’s 1% of our lives–and celebrates it.

Standing there, I realize just how judgmental of a human being I am, especially toward the Christian world at times.

Convicted.

Inspired.

So I started dancing with him.

[Jonathan Chu of Skillet playing us a private warm-up solo backstage right just before their set. I was blown away.]

Paul & Erin Rohling at Creation 2010

[Paul & Erin taking a stroll up the hill.]

singing with the masses:

The release of one area of my life lead to joy in countless others. And isn’t that just like God?

After watching Harry, I was free.

I’m not saying we don’t need to have healthy dialog on the state of things. I’m not saying we don’t need to grow and challenge each other to be better. But I am saying that being delivered of the need to be right, and then look for and celebrate whatever Jesus we see in people, transforms our ability to walk in tremendous joy.

And in freedom the presence of the Holy Spirit snuck up on me.

During the candlelight service as tens of thousands of candles were passed out to an entire hillside of worshipers, Pastor Harry shared on not hiding our light but allowing it shine on the hillside. And this time, it wasn’t figurative. I still feel like my Canon couldn’t do the scene justice. At first I was simply in awe of the spectacle; but as as we all began to sing, God showed up. And it hit me.

This is a glimpse of what heaven will be like.

Majestic.

Imitate.

Memorable.

ch:

Pastor Harry Thomas at Creation Candlelight Service

[Pastor Harry Thomas leading the candlelight service]

Camera Man at Creation

[You hardly notice them, but without them what would we see?]

Skillet pyro at Creation 2010

[Pyro for Skillet during the final night. Yeah. It was hot.]

Toby Mac's set list at Creation 2010

[I love looking at other people's set lists. This one was Toby Mac's backstage.]