Andy Van Hook

July 20, 2011

This is Andy…

He has been one of my closest & greatest friends for the last 17 years.

It is hard to describe a friend you love so much, especially one as incredible as Andy.

Experiencing his friendship has been one of the greatest joys of my life.

Andy and I met when we were in 1st grade. Somehow my step-dad met Andy’s dad, and got me on his baseball team. We would continue to play baseball with each other for the next 6 years. Knowing Andy, meant knowing two of his other friends, Andy Gruel and Evan Dunn as well. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was joining a tripod of incredible friends, and it would take me about 4 years to make the tripod open up to a table. But it happened, and the two Andy’s, Evan and I became life long childhood friends.

We walked home together, ate sub stop together, played countless hours of N64 together, watched movies, swam, built dirt ramps, laughed, and played baseball.

This was growing up together.

In 7th grade Andy (VanHook) announced that he was moving to a place called Hallsville, Texas. Andy was going to be gone by summer, and we didn’t know what we were going to do.

I honestly thought that our friendship was over.

I couldn’t be more thankfully wrong.

Andy and I kept in touch, he would come and visit and tell me stories of East Texas and his friends, and I would catch him up on life in Oklahoma.

Every time Andy would visit, I would realize how old we were getting. He was getting tall and becoming a man, and in my mind we were still 12 playing N64.

We stayed in touch, and would switch off visiting each other every year.

We finally graduated high school and I decided to stay in Edmond and attend U.C.O., Andy headed to Baylor University in Waco, Texas. This is when I realized we were growing up, and fast.

Freshman year of college, I remember we were both dating girls at the time who we thought could be “the ones”. Andy drove up with his girlfriend (not his current wife) and my girlfriend (at the time) and we waited for them to get to my apartment, so that we could go on a double date together. I still remember opening the door and laughing the second we saw each other.

Without planning…

We were wearing the same shirt.

We went to dinner in matching shirts, and laughed a lot. Needless to say, the only relationship from that night that still exists is the friendship between Andy and I.

I visited Waco often, and loved getting to know the guys that Andy became friends with. They were guys that all needed a friend like Andy, someone to make them laugh, and someone that would be there for them in all circumstances.

I remember talking to Andy on the phone at length about what all college guys talk about: Calvinism, girls, and  Jesus.

Somehow we never could find the answers to our own questions, but knew exactly what the other needed to hear.

I remember when Andy started talking about this girl named MK. By the sound of his voice, I figured this was the girl he was going to marry. He was really nervous to talk to her, and I knew something was up, because Andy Van Hook doesn’t get nervous.

I remember meeting her and thinking what an incredible girl for my longest childhood friend.

I remember going down to Baylor last fall and walking around the campus with Andy, dreaming up ways for him to propose.

I remember Andy driving up on my 22nd birthday to surprise me.

I remember coming down in December for the night that he proposed.

I remember that she said yes.

And I will never forget this past weekend, watching him commit his life to her.

It has seriously been one of the greatest joys of my life being Andy’s friend. He is someone that changes the people around him, and makes them into something better.

He is kind and genuine.

And I have yet to cross paths with anyone that even remotely resembles him.

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Missing An Arrow…

November 23, 2010

Today I had a rekindling in my heart. I picked up a book I read 7 years ago, and begged a good friend of mine to read it. He shrugged it off because he “isn’t much of a reader”, and I found myself angry, wanting to defend this book with my entire heart.

Why defend?

This book represents so many wonderful things to me.

It was given to me by one of my best friends and mentor, Nathan.

I read it, and it changed everything about how I viewed God and the world around me.

I lent this book out

I bought copies to give to friends

I told everyone and anyone about this thing

And then today I picked it up, and realized the journey it had taken me on…

(Yes, I wish I could tell you that this book was the Bible, but it is not…sorry to disappoint.)

The book I am talking about is An Arrow Pointing To Heaven: The Biography of Rich Mullins

And before Donald Miller, Shane Claiborne, and all the rest…there was this odd fellow by the name of Rich Mullins

You may know about him from some songs he wrote, but I doubt you would actually know him by just hearing Awesome God a couple times.

Rich was different

He cared more about an honest relationship with the creator of the universe, than he did about his relationship with record companies.

His desire was never to become famous, as much as it was to bring fame to Jesus.

He told odd stories, spoke of his heritage, and realized his own foolishness and brokenness often.

He valued the actual scriptures more than the “famous” faces that preached them…

(He never trusted preachers anyway.)

He didn’t dress in nice clothes, and wore a pony tail… and once he told his record label off after the insisted that he lose weight and write songs with more pop in them so that he may become more successful.

He had a love for native americans

And above all he had a love for music.

I could tell you stories that I have either read about, or heard from guys who met him while he was still alive, but I want you to read the book, and I think you get the point.

I miss this guy.

Why?

Because I believe we are missing an arrow.

In an age where worship music has become about style and performance, and less about community and God’s presence

I get scared.

I fear there is more energy in what to wear, what product to use, what to say, how to look, what songs to sing…than there is in the energy spent in prayer.

I feel like there is more talking to God on the stage, than off the stage.

There is more confidence in our abilities, and less in His spirit moving.

And I think in the end, we will experience a show instead of the living God.

We will sell out to lights and wonderful transitions…we will play the piano or guitar behind our words to manipulate attention.

And we will forget that God is not just a muse to inspire songs…

But a King to serve,

A Rescuer to thank,

And a Creator to be praised.

I think the one thing Rich Mullins knew better than most worship leaders realize today is this:

It isn’t about me.

Worship will happen without me.

God just allows me the humble task of joining in.

I have never witnessed a more powerful worship experience, than one of my last winter retreats as a student at the church I grew up in. My friend Nathan was leaving to go serve in Colorado, and it just so happened that his last weekend with the church was our winter retreat. Nathan was leading worship and so the entire group was just sad to know that after this weekend was over, Nathan was going to be gone.

Saturday night of worship Nathan did something I have never seen, nor can ever be replicated in a worship service again. He was leading worship and had the boldness to stop, to say that tonight was not about Him leaving, but about worshipping God. He walked off the stage with his entire band, and then the room went pitch black.

It was silent.

It was pitch black.

Then someone started singing, no instruments. no leaders. Just began a song that was familiar to everyone.

Words appeared on the screen, and we sang together.

When a song was finished, someone would start another song and so on.

It was pitch black, white words on the screen.

God was moving.

Without motion backgrounds

God was moving

Without drums, guitars, and designated worship leaders

God was moving

Don’t get me wrong, God is definitely big enough to move in smoke, lights, and instruments.

But there was something that night that changed the way I see worship …here was a group of people that loved Jesus and loved each other so much, that they cared less about how their voices sounded in the silence, and more about the fact that they were singing to their God.

Simply beautiful.

I don’t write this because I want to go back to that retreat and experience worship like that again

I don’t write to tell everyone what a bad job we are doing

I only write this because I believe that worship leaders are arrows.

And it is up to you to decide what you are going to point to.

Sincerely,

-AB