Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Let's Go Away

Another pointless post about my journey through my iTunes playlist. Currently in the M's. Rocking out to Ace Troubleshooter's Madness of the Crowds. Great album. I'd guess I'm about halfway through my playlist... Who actually knows though.

Next 5 albums in rotation:

Efterklang - Magic Chair
Magic Lantern - Magic Lantern
Hopesfall - Magnetic North
Thrice - Major/Minor
Kenna - Make Sure They See My Face

Monday, December 26, 2011

Something Must Break

I don't write songs a lot any more. Mostly because I'm not a great song writer and I get pretty frustrated with myself. I write poetry to express things that I would say in songs, only in poetry I can be as long winded as I want and ramble and don't feel a need to make sense. Plus I don't have to play guitar to write poems.

Anyways, I wrote some songs the other night. Well, parts of some songs. But I wrote a whole song called Something Must Break. The chorus says "If something must break, it must be me" and it's about needing God to break our hearts and open our eyes to the world around us and even when we feel alone and broken, and useless, God is still there with us and taking care of us no matter what.

The video quality isn't great and my singing voice won't be heard on the radio ever but the words are important, so enjoy.

As The World Turns...

It was this week 2 years ago that I made a huge decision that would change the course of my life. It had been brewing for a while that I was going to leave my job but with a week off between Christmas and New Years to pray and talk to people, it, at the time, seemed like the right move for my life. Hindsight being what it is, if we're just being honest, if I had known that the last 2 years were going to play out like they have, I probably wouldn't have taken the step of faith and left my job without anything new lined up.

And I don't say that to be negative about the last 2 years of my life. I've gotten to make most of my living as a musician, made some killer records with friends of mine, got to travel more then I would if I was tied to a job, and have gotten to see God be faithful and bless me in more ways then I have begun to be thankful for. I've seen my little music obsession and blog turn into something others consider a credible music source.

While it's been tough and pretty financially frustrating, I'm trusting that God has a plan and that all the good that's happened in the last couple of months is Him starting to move and position me where He has me going.

So what's on tap for 2012... Who knows. But I have a lot of good carrying over from the last 6 months of my life and I know if I remain faithful, He is always faithful.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How Committed Am I?

One thing I've found to be true in my life is that God will use pretty mundane and innocent things to convict me about bigger issues in my life.

So a friend of mine texted me today and asked what got me up before 8:30. The answer was simple, I got up at 7 to run because I had somewhere to be this morning.

No big deal. I run every day. If I have somewhere to be be in the morning I'll get up early to get my run in. I run 6 days a week. I'm a pretty dedicated and committed runner. (You can see where this going right?)

So later this afternoon as I was on the train going through my text messages the thought came to mind "What would my life be life if I was as committed to God as I am to running."


I've had similar experiences before and the heartache you feel when convicted like that sucks. It's a stinging pain that's hard to get describe.

It's not that my running is a bad habit or something God hates but I far too often am more committed to running, and other things, then I am to my relationship with God and that is not right. And I'm grateful for this conviction and grateful for my friend's text even though they were (probably) in no way trying to convict or judge me. But God uses a little bit of everything to get people's attention. And all I can do is apologize to God. Because he deserve's my best and my attention and my first fruits and more often then not he gets my worst and my leftovers. And that's not right. And that's on me.

So... What are you committed to more than God? What else am I committed to more than God?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Embrace Your Place

I have a folder on my computer of sermons that I've saved for repeated listening. There are some messages that have been so impactful in my life and speak simple truths that I need constant reminding of and so I listen to these often. Well this weeks message from Christine Caine will be added to the folder.

Christine Caine talked about being content with where God has placed you, even if it seems like you're in the far side of the desert. God knows where we are and he's placed us there for a reason, even if we don't see it.

I've posted before about spending 40 years in the desert but even still it gets hard to see that God has a plan and that the promise land is there. But I can say, even in small moments, that God is moving me in certain directions and opening doors that weren't there a year ago and while the promise land is still in the distance and hard to see, I know I'm headed in the right direction.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Starting the Day off Right

One of things I've tried to focus on the last couple of months is just being grateful for what I've been given and blessed with and trying to keep a positive mental attitude.

Something I started doing about a month ago was to kick each day off with some worship music. Not a big thing to add into my day but when I wake up and am checking e-mail, getting ready to run, I throw some worship music on in iTunes and let that play. It's a simple change in my morning but it's made a difference. Starting my day off in praise and worship has been great.

I've also made a change to my daily run. Pastor Mark has talked aout redeeming small, every day things and I'd like to think that I've "redeemed" my runs. I normally just watch NHL on the FLy while I run. And I don't think there's anything wrong with watching hockey highlights. In fact, that part of my run still happens. But I have started muting the tv and instead have started to listen to worship and uplifting music while I run. Again, a small change that I'm noticing is making a big difference.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

2011 has been a great year and there is so much to be thankful for and praise God for. But I think what I'm most thankful for is my friends. I am so rich with friends and have been surrounded by so many fantastic people over the last 6 months. It's been awesome. I have meet, connected with, and befriended so many wonderful people lately and my life is better for it.

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Let Go of the Good Thing

One of my favorite Pastor Markisms is "I'd rather have one God idea then a thousand good ideas."

While I was running this morning the phrase 'Let go of the good things and chase after the God things' kept running (no pun intended) through my mind. It's really an answer to prayer for me as I've been wrestling with certain situations in my life but the idea has stuck in my brain this morning.

There are a bunch of people I know who have given up good jobs and comfortable lifestyles to pursue the dreams and passions God has placed on their heart. I know people who have been ridiculed and outcast for the convictions God has given them. But I think the idea can be applied in every day life. I know sometimes I will settle for things because they're good and when things are going good, I know my tendency is to think that God is blessing me. And sometimes He is.

I know in the last two years I've really struggled with where my life is going and what it was that God wants for me. I've felt pretty directionless over the last two years. It sucks. And while I'm still not sure what my next step in life is, God has begun to show me snippets of where I'm headed. And while life might not seem "good" from the outside, I have a God sized dream I'm starting to chase that's more important then anything else.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I wrote a song in Berlin called Perceptions. Walking the streets of Berlin and witnessing the prostitution really struck me and I knew that it was an idea I wanted to wrestle with in some form. Perceptions is a two fold song.

The song is a first person perspective of a prostitute. The first aspect of the song is just in how she is perceived. Each verse deals with how a different person views her, from herself to people passing by on the streets to other prostitutes on the street, to the guys she's sleeping with and ending with her dad. Her dad wishes his little girl, who would innocently climb up his knees and just sit in his lap would be the girl she was again. It's the idea of no matter what happens in life and where we currently are there is always someone who loves us and is willing to embrace us and accept us, even when it feels like the entire world is judging us.

The second part of the song is the chorus and bridge that talk about freedom. In our debrief conversations the idea of finding freedom and false freedom kept coming up. We think we're free because we have the freedom to do whatever we want and and choose whatever sort of lifestyle is available to us but we become slaves to drugs, alcohol, sex, jobs, etc... The chorus of this song is a cry for help. It says I could be anything I want but I don't know how to be free and the bridge just echos this idea of not actually being free.

"What do I see when I look in the mirror?
Just a dirty old whore getting down on her knees
Trying to make a dollar so that I can eat
Well that ain't so bad.

What do they see when they're passing by me?
Just a dirty old whore who can't get off the streets
That I should get a real job and have low self-esteem
They don't know me.

I could be anything I want but I don't know how to
If I could be anything I want but I don't know how to be free

What do they see when they're laughing at me?
Just another old whore working the same street
Trying to take work out from under their feet
They're just jealous

What does he see when he's lying with me?
Just a dirty old whore getting down on her knees
So he can forget about his wife and kids
He's just using me

I could be anything I want but I don't know how to
If I could be anything I want but I don't know how to...

Am I free?
What is free?
Can I be free?
Am I Free?

What does he see when he's thinking of me?
Just daddy's little girl climbing up his knees
Wishing I could have my innocence back
Where'd his girl go?"

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Give Thanks

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice.” ~ Meister Eckhart

I've been back from Germany for a week and a half now and life is back to what is passes for normalcy. Well, the new normal where the are now 8 people in my life who I need to see and talk to all the time... But that's for another post.

The problem with being back to normal is that my normal is filled with financial struggles, workless days, a lack of self motivation, discouragement, disappointment, etc...

Of course I have great friends, a loving family, a home to stay in, food to eat, and God has always provided a way for me to pay my bills. But I'll be honest, that's not always my focus. The negative stuff always overshadows the good.

So I'm trying to focus my prayer life on being thankful for all that God has given me. And there's a lot to be grateful for. Being grateful in prayer helps me see more of God's blessing and goodness in my every day life and keeps me praising God throughout my day and it helps me keep a positive mental attitude.

Give thanks for what you have and don't fret about what you don't.

What Remains

What Remains from National Community Church on Vimeo.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Berlin Reflections Post 1

I'm calling this post one of my Berlin reflections because I'm sure as the next couple of days pass there will be many more thoughts that I want to post. Plus I have a lot on my mind and heart and putting it all in one post might be overwhelming and probably won't make a ton of sense.

This trip to Berlin was one of the greatest moments in my life, both spiritually and personally.

I can't talk about Berlin without talking about all the amazing people I got to share this experience with. So much talent and passion in the small group of us that went. From John already in Berlin, to the entire team, to all the great people we met in Berlin, it was just an amazing group of people who got along and gelled so well together. I am blessed to have met and become close friends with everyone on the team. If I haven't expressed it personally to anyone on the team yet, I'll say it here; I love you guys and am so glad to have been on this trip with all of you. You are all amazing talented people who put together a killer gallery in such a short time... It's mind blowing all the work that was done. I am blessed to know you all.

The trip itself was nothing like I expected and I will say it was completely successful in a handful of different areas. First, and maybe most importantly, the team was able to be an encouragement to John. Getting to hear his vision for the first time and see his passion was awesome. Getting to be there with him and help him take the first steps in seeing what a cafe/performance space over there could look like was awesome. I'm so grateful for John and the vision God has placed on his heart and I'm glad to say that I was a part of what God is doing in Berlin.

Secondly the team was able to be an encouragement to the Christian organizations already in Berlin. Which was really a double blessings because we were so blessed and inspired by what other people were doing in Berlin that our creations reflected the stories we were told. Having them show up to our gallery and being able to perform our songs and show our work to them that was inspired by them... I think it was a nice encouragement.

On a real personal level I was pushed this week. Walking the streets that second night in Berlin and seeing the prostitution really... Convicted me... I don't know if that's the right wording. I was extremely sad as I was praying that night and honestly I felt helpless. I wrote a song called Perceptions. It's the story of a girl and the way she and those around her perceive her. The moral behind the story is being trapped and not knowing how to break free and in the end, still being loved. It's a rough song content wise but... I got some positive feedback. At our gallery I performed the song. I don't like singing in public (even though I led worship for 4 years and used to perform as a singer/songwriter). I'm just not that comfortable being behind a mic but I did it this week. I don't think I sing very well but I'm glad I could perform this song and sing with the conviction that was inside of me.

The best moment for me came on our last night in Berlin and the second night of the gallery. I wrote a song with Tiffany Thompson that was inspired by a story I heard at the Berliner Stadtmission. Dorit, who showed us around the Stadmission and told us the story, came to the Gallery the second night and we were able to perform the song for her and show her the lyrics. Dorit wanted to take the lyrics with her to the Stadmission and present it to have the words posted on the wall at the Stadmission. It was one of the most touching moments of my life and it took every part of me to not breakdown and cry in that moment. It meant a lot to me and really touched my heart.

I could go on forever about conversations with people that touched my heart and challenged me but I'll stop for the moment. It was an amazing trip and I'm still processing all that God has begun to do in me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Berlin: Post 2

After a couple of days wandering the city and exploring Berlin and taking in the culture and observing some of the social justice issues in the city, today was the first day of creating. I had been struggling with what aspect I would create from. Would I be musical or take pictures? As the days had progressed I've felt a pull to use my musical abilities.

So today I sat in a round table with my musician friends and discussed ideas and passed on going to take pictures. I was a little bummed about not going out and taking pictures but I was excited about the idea of working on music with other people and collaborating. So I got to write a song with the wonderful and talented Tiffany Thompson. I've never worked on writing a song with another person before. I was mostly nervous about my ability to contribute to the process.

After a handful of moments of awkward silence, an idea for the song was born, chords were written, a melody put in place, and the song writing process was in full swing. Beside coming up with a killer song, it was an awesome experience of getting work with someone and have your ideas help and compliment each other in creating a single minded piece of art.

I look forward to the next 2 days of continuing to create and collaborate with others and seeing what kind of awesome songs we can come up with.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Berlin: Post 1

Not really day one because it's Monday and we've been here since Saturday so post one will work.

When I started praying and thinking about going to Berlin Isaiah 61 was a verse that was heavy on my heart. And it's been a verse that's floated in and out of my mind for a couple of weeks.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed.” I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations."

It's been one of my favorite passages of Scripture for a couple of years now. So last night we walked around parts of Berlin to observe the sex industry and prostitution in the area. As we walked I was just sad. What had happened in these girls lives that had brought them to a life of prostitution. I think back to my blogs about speaking potential and life into others and women and I couldn't help but wonder where people had been careless with these girls lives.I was sad, near tears, and I felt helpless. What could I do? How could I help? But through it all, as I was praying while waling down these streets Isaiah 61 kept running through my head.

We were on the train between streets and I wrote this little poem.

"These words hold me hostage to this feeling of emptiness. This deep sense of sadness is haunting me. What can I say? How can I be a light in this dark corner of the world? You came to bring change. To bind the broken-heart and free the captive. How am I supposed to be your hands and feet...

Friday, September 30, 2011

I Want My City Back

Just another progress report on my journey through my iTunes library. Finished going through the I's last night. Currently listen to the Mighty Might Bosstone's Jackknife To A Swan. Ska to kick off one's morning is a great idea. What've learned singe my last update...

I don't like the Cross Movement. Solid songs but not digging their albums. Daft Punk... Same deal. Both no longer have a place in my iTunes library. I do like Venetian Snares but when am I ever going to listen to glitch? The answer is never so most of their album have found a way out of my library and into the trash.

Next 5 records:

Value Pac - Jalapeno
Converge - Jane Doe
Jars of Clay - Jars of Clay
Jatun - Jatun
Scattered Few - Jawbone of an Ass

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I'm Going to Germany!

It's been a little over 10 years since my last missions trip. Having gone to NCC for the last 5 years it seems crazy that it's been so long.

In October I'll be heading to Berlin, Germany with National Community church on a new mission: To engage locals in discussions of faith through art.

There isn't an overwhelming physical need in Berlin, but the spiritual need in Germany is just as devastating. After German reunification in 1990, Berlin is re-establishing itself as one of the most influential cities in Europe. Berlin shapes the landscape of politics, arts and media, culture, and academics throughout Germany. Yet the controversial history of Berlin continues to affect the vibe of the city. It forms a society of vast diversity, open tolerance, alternate lifestyles, and an edginess that is uniquely Berlin. Berlin is no longer the land of Luther. It's a secular hub of atheism and agnosticism, but a place of great hope and potential. To contextualize the gospel in this post-Christian landscape requires creativity and imagination. This won't be your average church mission trip. We'll spend a few days engaging the city's social justice issues like human trafficking, drug addiction, urban poverty, and refugee issues. We'll then spend a few days responding to what we've experienced through art: music, photography, painting, etc. The trip will culminate in a two day art gallery where we'll engage locals in discussions of faith through the art we have created around these issues. We'll be partnering with John Hasler, an NCC staff member working with Reach Global who is preparing to launch a marketplace ministry.

An art based trip makes a lot of sense for me to be heading on as I've spent the last couple of months really being active in how the church can embrace the arts community. I've super excited to go over to Germany and use the talents and abilities God has given me to further his Kingdom and bring glory to his name.

Please pray for me and my team members as we travel on this journey. If you feel led to support me financially, it would be a blessing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Something Beautiful = Success

:Takes out life goals list:

Art show

Ok, well maybe we shouldn't cross this off the list completely...

The first Something Beautiful Art and Music show actually happened! And I'm calling it a success. Everyone who attended had a great time and I think any time you get a group of artists together and they can hang out and chat, it's challenging, inspiring, refreshing, and a kick in the pants to keep pushing forward.

I had an amazing group of people who came alongside me and took my vision and made their own and they are all very much a part of what I hope is something bigger then this one art show. I am still overwhelmed with gratitude for all the artists and musicians who showed their work and played, as well as those who were praying for me and this event.

Thank you for making this happen!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Something Beautiful

This coming Sunday I'm putting on an art show. It's a dream about 8 years in the making. It started when I was 19. I was trying to put on a concert for a touring friend of mine and myself at the church I was attending. After playing an open mic I was told by the guy in charge that he loved what I was doing but the church just didn't support it.

I've conversations with many people and while the particulars change of the situations change, the theme is always the same: Arts in the church is not a priority.

For a while I wasn't sure how to tackle this idea. I knew I wanted some sort of arts based community but wasn't sure how that would look. And to be honest, at various points in my life this wasn't a huge priority for me.

But 2 months ago, after another conversation with a friend who was looked down upon for their art, I decided it was time to do something. And thus, the Something Beautiful Art and Music show is born.

Something Beautiful is built off the basic idea that we are created in the image of God and I believe the image of God has more to do with the character and personality of God. So God is the creator and some of us have more of God the creator in us then others.

Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning God CREATED the heavens and the earth.

I want Something Beautiful to eventually be something where all creative people can come together and share their thoughts and ideas. From musicians, photographers, sculptors, painters, tattoo artists, fashion designers, cake makers, whatever, to be able to come together and use their talent to reflect God's beauty. For artists from all different backgrounds to come together and share their creations, their personal expression of worship, with each other and with others.

On top of that, I want this to be an encouragement to young artists. I want artists to be encouraged by those around them and to know that their art is important and has a place in the body of God. A place where older artist can help younger artist refine their craft. I want young artists to be lifted up and inspired. Not discouraged and questioning their passions.

I'm excited for this art show and excited to see where things go from here.

Create: Something Beautiful

Let's Just Drive

:Takes out life goals list:

Drive across country

It took me 3 days to drive my Laguna Hills, California to Damascus, Maryland. It might not have been the most adventurous trip but I did it.

I have two regrets on this trip (aside from the obvious not having more time to take my time and do more awesome things). The first is doing it alone. One goes crazy in a car by themselves for that long. I think I cried at one point. I'm not sure. I do know that making the 20 hour trip from Tulsa back to Maryland, at around 1 in the morning I found a pop music station that didn't play commercials and yes, listening to Katy Perry became acceptable at that point in my trip. Friends don't let friends drive across the country by their lonesome.

My second regret is not having enough music.

Here is where all my Cali friends turn against me. I didn't think I-N-Out Burger was all that great... It was good but the hype machine failed me. The fries were ok, the burger was tasty but nothing mind blowing, and the chocolate shake was one of the worst shakes I've had in a while. Glad I tried it but something didn't click with me. I was expecting more...

"God must be a painter. Why else would we have so many colors?" That line from A Beautiful Mind ran through my head as I traveled through the desert. I also understand why Donald Miller called his book "Through Painted Deserts." Driving through the Mojave Desert and into Arizona and New Mexico, I was just in awe of how beautiful the desert was. Coming into New Mexico on Wednesday morning with the sun coming up over the hills and the clouds resting right on top on these beautiful purple and red hills... Its the kind of sight that makes you just wanted to worship God for his creation. Amazing.

Sadly the middle of America is just as boring as I remember. Once you get to Texas, its flat dusty plains. Not that exciting.

One thing that did make me sad was while driving through New Mexico. Basically every exit in New Mexico is a giant tourist stop to by Native American jewelry, clothes, whatever. And it made me sad. All this rich culture reduced to tourist bullshit… It was frustrating for me.

I did find my favorite radio station, Radio U, was being broadcast in Oklahoma City. That was an awesome surprise.

Some good Christian rock stations all throughout the country, yet DC has none…

My intent was to buy blank cds and create a bunch of killer road trip mix tapes to jam to while I crossed the country. Due to the trip being slightly up in the air for a moment (and mostly my own general laziness) this didn’t happen, so I quickly through together some cds to listen to. I didn’t grab any metal/hardcore or hip-hop. Major fail on my part.

My playlist for the trip:

The Arcade Fire – Funeral
Audio Adrenaline – Until My Heart Caves In
Audio Adrenaline – Worldwide
Caspian – Tertia
Jeremy Enigk – Ok Bear
Jeremy Enigk – Return of the Frog Queen
MxPx – Favorites Mix
P.O.D. – Favorites Mix
Thrice – Beggars
The Make – This Box
The Hawk in Paris – His + Hers
Crosses – EP
Dashboard Confessional – Dusk and Summer
Jimmy Eat World – Futures
mewithoutYou – Catch For Us the Foxes

Friday, September 9, 2011

Life Goals

I don't have a super long list of life goals, which is a little sad, but I'm adding to it every day. This coming week however, I get to cross off the goal that started my list!

Back when I was 21 or so my best friend and me had talked about a road trip across America. Getting in our car and without any plan or set destination taking off across the country, just because we could. Sounded like a great idea. My girlfriend at the time thought we were dumb and couldn't wait for me to grow out of my "college phase".

Well this upcoming trip isn't a get in my car and just drive with no plan or destination in sight, I do get to drive from California to Maryland next week.

I'm flying out to California to pick up a car for my buddy whose wife just had a baby. The trip doesn't allow for a ton of time to take side detours and do a bunch of cool things (I leave Tuesday morning and need to be back in DC Saturday afternoon) it does give me the chance to get in a car and drive across the country, something I've wanted to do for a while now.

I'm super excited about this trip. I'm burning road trip mixes, googling cool places to check out along the way. I'll get to see friends I haven't seen in way too many years, will sleep on some couches and will probably spend a night in my car.

It might not sound very glamorous but I'm excited to cross this one of my life goals list.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Don't Know You

Sometimes I forget that people who may follow me on twitter or who follow my blogs don't actually know me.

I read an article the other day about how the awesome people who run the Creation Museum are starting a theme park called Noah's Ark. And I posted a link to the article on twitter and said this is exactly what the world needs.

Now people who know me read that knowing I was being snarky and sarcastic and that I think Noah's Ark the theme park is as great an idea as the Holy Land Experience in Florida (a place that I think should be burned down and the money gained should be given to the poor and needy).

So I was retweeted by a guy who follows me on twitter. While we have a mutual love old Christian rock music, our Christian beliefs vary slightly drastically. Now I don't know why he retweeted me but I think he took me as being serious and not an asshole.

Pointless blog about not knowing who follows you and who actually knows you. Go back to your lives. I'm sorry for wasting your time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Technology Can Be Difficult Sometimes

Karol Patton, Come on Down!

It might not be the biggest difference between my sister and me but as a point of reference she prefers DreamWorks Animated Films and I think Pixar is clearly superior.

There's a great line from Talladega Nights where Susan says "Well, Ricky Bobby is not a thinker. He is a doer." When it comes to technology, Karol is not a thinker. My sister has probably gotten better with technology over the last couple of years. Thankfully this story happened before she went to college. She will argue that this happened differently, but it didn't.

Way back in the day, iPod's used to be these big clunky white things that played music. The technology was still fairly new and having one was pretty cool. My sister bought a 16 Gig Refurbished iPod from the Apple store. I had bought mine refurbed from the Apple store, never had a problem, and loved it.

(Since I no longer own an iPod or mp3 played or any kind this was obviously before my holy war against technology and how much I hate Apple's battery life but that's for another blog).

So my sister gets her iPod in the mail and she's excited. But that excitement didn't last long. She just couldn't get the iPod to work. She had the usb cable plugged into her computer, iTunes up... But nothing. Her frustration grew louder, filling the house with anger.

I went up to her room to see what the problem was and looking at the iPod I quickly noticed the problem.

"You have to turn it on."

Turning the iPod on it quickly showed up on the computer and in iTunes. Not one of her smartest moments.

Now in Karol's defense Apple did send her a busted piece of junk and the iPod never did work correctly. Of course my sister never sent it back and tried to get a replacement but that's another story.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How Old Are You?

I was going to save my sister Becky for last but since I'm having a hard time coming up with quality blog stories for my other siblings. So congrats Becky, it's your turn.

My sister and I have a love hate relationship that goes all the way to be beginning of her life. When she was a baby I wanted to play her, so 1 year old me climbed into her crib, picked her up and dropped her out of the crib. Later in life, as I would be trying to sleep in the top bunk, with my arm hanging over the side, she would bite my fingers. Every night. I was clearly not very smart or else I would have stopped hanging my arm over the side. A few years after that I took a pair of scissors and almost successfully cut off two of her fingers. I don't know why I did this but I'm sure she had it coming.

As you can see, there's a lot of back and forth of terrible things done and said to each other. I'm surprised we still talk sometimes.

So what out of all the great moments in her life could I talk about? I could have posted a picture of her as a small child with an awful lesbian haircut. But I won't. There are always fat pictures of my sister from middle and high school but for some reason I also seem to be in the pictures and I'm not posting fat pictures of myself on my blog.

Instead I'm going to pick on my sisters age. Not her actual age, the age she lives. Where my sister is a mere year younger then me (she's dreading turning 26 in December), the ages we live our not even close. My sister acts like she's in 70's or 80's. I mean, if she and her husband got off work earlier she'd totally have dinner at 4pm. My sisters never been a late night partier so it's no surprise that she's not down for late night hangs. But her bed time is beyond me...

We went on a cruise last year and my sister was in bed by 9 every night! Are you kidding me? I know my brother-in-law keeps hours closer to mine and I just don't know how he does it. If I call at 10 on a Saturday night she's asleep and has no interest in coming out for a drink. I just don't get it.

So last night on Facebook my sister asked if it was bedtime yet. It was 8. At night. Let me say that again.


If I'm contemplating going to bed at 8pm something in my life has gone horribly wrong. Even if I didn't sleep the night before my head probably isn't hitting the pillow till 10:30 at the earliest and I'm never that lucky.

You don't want to drive the 20 minutes from Germantown to Bethesda and have a drink with your brother, fine. But going to be at 8pm and you're only 25? I just don't get it.

If it works with gummy bears...

A few months ago I posted a blog about how I would like my future wife to bake cookies and was very honest and open about part of my reasoning is that I wanted pretty girls to bake and bring me cookies. In my shallow honesty I got no cookies. Got a couple promises of cookies but no actual cookies were made and given to BP because of said blog. Which is fine. My hopes for cookies were balanced by the realization that no one would be bringing me cookies. So I wasn't shocked when my attempt to get free cookies was met with no cookies.

Anyways, I've tweeted over the last couple months about my gummy bear addiction and general love for gummy bears. And people started bringing me gummy bears. My brothers and sister just started handing me bags of gummy bears that they bought while at 7-11. I got home from band practice last week to a bag of gummy bears on my pillow. It's been awesome. While I feel like the gummy bears have contributed to a little bit bigger mid-section, it's still awesome.

I know baking cookies is a more complicated and committed task then buying a dollar bag of gummy bears but there's got to be a way to make this happen, right? Don't get me wrong, I love gummy bears and if gummy bears continue to come my way, I'll be a happy man. But my love for cookies is far greater then my love for gummy bears. And if I could start getting free cookies coming my way...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tree Hugging As an Art Form

Today's blog is about my brother Kennan. For those of you saying to yourself right now, Kennan, that's an interesting name. The answer is yes it is. (Apparently we're going to pick on Becky too for a minute).

Side note: All of my sibling's name start with B or K. My parent's are Bruce and Karen and taking after my dad's family, decided all of their Children's name would start with the same letter as the parents. My dad's from a family of 10. 10 kids whose names all start with the letter B.

So My parents were going to name Kennan, Kevin. My sister at the age of 3 or whatever she would've been couldn't say Kevin and kept saying Kennan. My parents liked it and my brother has spent his entire life explaining his name to people.

Alright, back to Kennan.

Apples to Apples is my favorite game to play. You get a group of 6 or 7 people and have a blast. I love it. I hate people who just want to be funny all the time while playing Apples to Apples. We get it, the word was peaceful and you picked bomb. Really funny Adam Sandler.

My brother is one of these people. So we're playing a couple of weeks ago and the word my brother draws is masculine. The cards laid down were great. The Godfather, Construction workers, Babe Ruth, Robert De Niro. Great cards.

Someone put down tree huggers... Obviously they had nothing better.

Kennan picked tree huggers.

Nobody playing thought it was funny. We all thought he was just an ass and any other card picked would have been a better option. He is still getting made of for picking tree huggers.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Didn't We Not Learn Anything From Toy Story 3?

Yesterday I picked on my Kyle. Today I'm going to pick on my brother Bobby. I have 2 other brothers and 3 sisters, so this could be a fun series of blogs.

Now Bobby is a Star Wars fan. Well, Fanatic. He loves Star Wars. Which is cool. I love Pixar, he loves Star Wars. He has Darth Vader action figures, I have Buzz Lightyear and Mr Incredible. No big deal.

My brother is prepping for a possible move to the state of Virginia. Throwing at some stuff that's not necessary, packing books in boxes, that sort of thing. As I was looking in my brother's room and looking at his toys that were still out I noticed that an action figure of the Joker (from Batman) was missing from his dresser. He was talking about giving some toys away and sending some to Goodwill.

A little back story. My sister Karol somehow acquired this Joker action figure only a couple weeks earlier and because Bobby saw her first, he got it.

As Bobby and me are talking I come to the realization that he has thrown out the Joker action figure. And I become a little upset. Like I start yelling at my brother upset. How is he going to throw out a Joker action figure without first offering it to me? I couldn't believe it. How could he throw away a Joker action figure?

Luckily the Goodwill bag with the Joker in it had not been thrown out and the Joker was saved and now sits on my dresser next to Mr Incredible and Boo (from Monsters Inc).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tennis Balls

Can I tell a story? This story will not do any justice to how this happened in real life but it's funny and because my brother-in-law and me talked about it last night, I feel it should be shared.

You ever have a moment where you say, I wish we caught that on video because we so would win America's Funniest Video if we did? Well I did. A moment so awesome, so funny, so classic, that I wish it would've been video taped so I could relive it over and over and over again!

I love baseball. I'm not very good at playing baseball but I love it. My family likes playing a game that's based on baseball. It's baseball but there's no team, no score, no real base running of any kind. And we use a tennis ball. But it's a fun time and the whole family plays. It's great. A couple of summers ago we were playing in the backyard, the whole family (minus my parents). I was up to bat. My brother Kyle had handed his glove to my brother-in-law.

I point at Kyle like I'm Babe Ruth, a signal that I was going to smack the ball right at him.

The pitch came in, I swing, hit the ball...

BAM! The tennis ball smacks Kyle right in his bits and pieces.

And while my poor younger brother falls to the ground, writhing in pain, the family laughs. Because it's funny. It's a one in a million chance that it would happen. I'm not that good at baseball. I didn't plan this. But it was brilliant.

It still makes me laugh to think about it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

God's Got It Under Control

I tweeted yesterday that I had too many upcoming projects that involved spending money I don't have. I knew this was going to be the case but when I started doing the math it became real. There are some cheaper ways of going about doing some of these things but money will still be tight (as money is already tight in my life to begin with).

But then I get a call letting me know that I got a check in the mail for the great state of Maryland. Not a large check but when I heard that a check which I was not expecting or even knew was coming had come in I had one thought; God's got things under control. And if He's put something in my heart, he will provide a way for it to be fulfilled.

Monday, August 1, 2011

God Anthology

The God Anthology series is now over. I'm a little sad to see it end. God wrecked my world in all sorts of good ways during this series. And I'm excited for the future and what's next but when something is so good and moving and life and perspective changing, it's tough to move on. I will probably revisit these sermons again especially the first two (Mystery and Holiness). My life was in flux was this series started and God used it to show himself in new ways to me.

I won't re-chronicle every message and my thought process with each one as I've already done a good job in getting my thoughts on each message to this blog.

But my question is what now? What do I do with the feelings and thoughts and ideas that came out of God Anthology? There were a lot of passions re-ignited and new passions and purposes created. God had been creating a stirring in my spirit for a couple months and it all came pouring out over this series. I saw God move in my life in new ways, spiritually, personally, and relationally. On the night I heard Pastor Mark speak on God's Sovereignty, God brought this character to light, as I was feeling so overwhelmed with gratitude and God's goodness, full of praise, only to come home to find out my cousins 11 month old baby was going to die... How was I going to respond?

The A.W. Tozer quote "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." is a quote that kicked off each message and throughout God Anthology what comes into my mind when I think about God has changed. And it will continue to change as I grow and learn more. I'm so grateful for this series.

God is Love

God is Love. It's such a huge statement and it's a lot harder to grasp and comprehend then I think a lot of people would admit. Heather Zempel spoke on the love of God to close out the God Anthology series at NCC. Heather said we have a false and incomplete understand of God is love, and I'd agree with that statement.

I struggle with the love of God. And if I'm honest, I struggle with it because I don't understand it. I've seen it shown to me in my life by God and from others. I've been overwhelmed by God's sacrifice and by His goodness to the point of tears because I realize I have nothing to say or offer that can match God's love for me. I hope that I've been able to show the love of God to at least one person around me.

One of the most impacting statements from this weekend that I've been thinking about is this: God is love does not mean God is nice. It's a distinction I don't make naturally. Because it's easy to say if you love someone you're nice to them. Or is that just me?

But it's not true. We aren't always nice to the people we love. And the reason we're not always nice is because we love them. We don't let the people we care about run around and make terrible choices. No, we interfere and at the risk of being the bad guy, try and stop being from doing harm to them because we love them and don't want to see them get hurt long term.

I wrote about people letting us down and how we need to respond in love and not give up on people. Part of acting in love is helping those see their mistake and showing tough love or rebuking what they've done. It's not coming alongside and just saying its okay buddy. Because there's no real love in that.

I think a verse that stood out to me most is one I've heard a billion times but struck me in a new way this weekend.

"Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance" ~ 1 Corinthians 13-7.

I'm a failure. There have been countless times when I've just faced the reality that I disappoint God all the time. I disappoint those around me constantly too. And no matter what good I do and no matter how nice I am or generous, or compassionate, or anything, there are still black marks in my life. There are still things I will never be proud of having done. There will probably be something that happens or something I say this week that I won't be proud of. Because I'm a failure and if I were God, I would have thrown me to the curb years ago.

But love never gives up and if God is love then God never gives up and thank goodness for that. God never gives up on me, never loses faith in me, is always hopeful, and endures through every time I disappoint him, and he's still willing to forgive me and accept me as his son.

I don't have a pretty way of tying this in a bow and making it a neat blog post with a point that gets you thinking. Because the post is me thinking out loud and my thoughts don't make sense or have an answer and they aren't wrapped in a bow. In fact if I'm using the wrapping analogy, my thoughts are wrapped like a Christmas present I have personally wrapped. Meaning they're messy and not pretty.

Love is the foundation of God's character. God is love. I will never fully understand the love of God and I'm okay with that. My hope is that I can show God's love to those around me better and better with each passing day.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Those Beady Eyes That Watch You From The Shadows

We've all been there. Sitting on the train, in a park, at a red light, out at dinner, in the movie theater. You're sitting there, minding your own business, when you feel it. You turn to find out what has brought this sense of being watched on you and someone turns quickly away, hoping to avoid your notice of them staring at you. And the same is true that at one point or another we've been the watcher quickly turning our head in hopes that someone didn't see us staring at them. Certain cases of attraction will see a guy and a girl go back and forth, each checking the other out. Each turning quickly away when the other looks.

Sometimes it's not subtle at all. Sometimes it's just creepy. I was on the train going to church one Saturday and I had a woman just stare at me the entire time she was on the train. It was weird.

So why do I bring this up? In my recent metro rail adventures (And by adventures I mean I get angry and swear loudly about how awful WMATA is) I've noticed people trying to discreetly look at my tattoos. Peering over their paper, around other riders on the train, titling their heads in odd directions to try and look at my tattoos. Which is fine. I understand that my body art is awesome looking and other people should be allowed to enjoy it. Art is for the enjoyment of all right?

Side note: I do love when I'm sitting next to or near a girl on the train and she is checking out my tattoos and when she sees the bible verse on my arm, her interest vanishes. It's funny.

Anyway, people think they're being slick but I totally see them checking out my ink. It's not just on the train, but the train is such a small and confined space that I do notice it more there. And I know what those people are thinking.

"You were once a sane person. What possessed you to pay somebody to put you in pain and ruin your arms, out casting you from normal society forever?"

Now I love tattoos. I love having tattoos. I don't like getting tattooed, but it's a small, painful price to pay. I regret, and am grateful, that I waited until I was 22 to get my first tattoo. Ever since I started listening to punk rock and hardcore, I was always enthralled with tattoos. When I see people with tattoos, I always want to ask them about their tattoos. What they are, why they got them, etc.

Anyway, so people discreetly try and see what's on my arm. And I want to say, hey, you can ask to ask to see them. I love when people ask me about my tattoos. I like talking about myself. And better yet, I have scripture on my arm. Talking about my tattoos always leads to me talking about God and Jesus.

So if you're trying to secretly look at my tattoos just come up and ask to see them. If you want to know about them, ask me. I'll gladly talk to you about my tattoos.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Whosoevers

God does change lives. This is a great 11 minutes film about The Whosoevers. People who God has changed, bringing the word to people who need it. A great watch.

Beauty Everyday

I sent my friend Jenni Heather Zempel's message on God's beauty. As a fellow artist I figured it would be something that would interest and maybe inspire her. And it did.

She posted a 30 day challenge on her blog ( to keep track and recognize God's beauty around her, in her life, and in the lives of those around her.

She also challenged anyone else who wanted to participate to join her. I think this is great for a couple of reasons. First, it gives me something to consistently blog about. Secondly, it will help keep me focused on God's beauty and goodness. I've been pretty positive and upbeat the last month but I know sooner or later something will come along and derail me and I'll want to be all sad and bitter again. Hopefully this will help me focus on the good things and keep me going through the next month. Lastly, she did bribe me with cookies. And as I've stated, I LOVE cookies!

So the month of August will be full of God's beauty and goodness. Get excited.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Let Down

They say only two things in life are certain, death and taxes. Can I add a third? People will let you down.

We have people in our lives that influence and inspire us. People that make us want to be better then we are. People that help us become better people. And on the same side of the coin, there are people that we influence, inspire, and drive to become better then they are.

But the problem with people is they're human and sooner or later, someone whom we look up to or is looking up to us, will disappoint us. And we'll disappoint someone too.

One of the most heart wrenching experiences I had in high school was when a friend of mine told me how I inspired him to worship freely and be ok with lifting his hands and truly worship God without worrying about what other people thought of him. It's heart wrenching because my worship at that point in life was fake. My Christianity was fake. And he was telling this to me because he was disappointed in me. We weren't friends for a while after this.

Thank God my false witness didn't stop him from really serving God and continuing to follow Christ. God can use us despite us. But that's not my point. The point is I had let a friend down. And it was this let down that got me going on the right track with God.

But how do we respond when people who influence us or people we're influencing let us down? How do we respond when we let someone down? Honestly, I'm not 100% sure. But I know we can't give up on people. If we shut people out any time we're disappointed, we'll become cold and build up walls between us and others. And that's just not awesome.

I'll say, when we're disappointed or let down by people that we're investing in and trying to help them become better people, we can't give up on them and shut them out for falling or failing, or just not meeting our expectations. There was someone along the way who believed in you and didn't give up on you, so let's not give up on those we believe in. Failing today could mean success in the future.

We have to remember that no one is perfect and when people let us down, we can't let that destroy our world. I think that's where so many people go wrong. We put so much faith into other people and when they fail to meet our expectations and fail us, we are so rocked to the core that we begin to lose trust in people altogether and let all their good work count for nothing. When the people who inspire us let us down, I think it's the perfect opportunity to show the love of God and be there for them and help pick them back up, not give up on them.

I think it's time to see people letting us down as an opportunity to show God's grace.

Not in line with this post at all but Radiohead is a great band and since they have a song called Let Down...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Christian Art?

Back in May I had this question asked of me: "Can a Christian ever create art for the sake of creating art, or does all Christian art have to be a form of worship?"

My response was pretty simple.

"Art is an expression of ourselves and Christians should view their creative side as being ade in the imagine of God the creator. Art comes from the heart no matter what form of expression it is. The bible is full of heartache and disappointment and love and art. Song of songs is an entire book of the bible devoted to love poems. It's a highly sexual book and it's part of the bible. Is that worship? Is it art? Is it just an expression of the heart and what's inside. If our lives are supposed to be worship in and of themselves, then isn't any expression of art, even creating art for the sake of art, an expression of worship to God."

As I've been reflecting on Heather's sermon of God's beauty this question came back to me. I'd love to see other people's opinions on this. So, Can a Christian create art for the sake of creating art?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

This Beautiful Mess

"God brings beauty out of the mess." - Heather Zempel

Sixpence None the Richer the Richer named an album on the concept, Rick McKinley wrote a book about it but it wasn't really until Heather made the above statement that I had really thought about it. God brings beauty out of the mess. Isaiah 61:3 says he will give a crown of beauty in exchange for ashes (I know I'm taking that WAY out of context but roll with me a little).

Heather talked about life being messy and gave numerous examples of biblical messes that God brought/found beauty. And in my reflection on this week’s message I started thinking about my own life and those people around me and how God has brought beauty into lives and situations that are messy. Most recently I've seen God help a friend let go of past issues that have held them back and kept them captive for years. I've seen hope restored, confidence gained, and God completely transform someone’s life in the last month. And they radiate a new kind of beauty.

I love Hookers for Jesus ministry. Talk about bring God's beauty to messy situations and lives. I know their name raises eye brows and offends a lot of people but I love their work. Annie Lobert is bringing God's beauty to people who need it.

But I just come back to this thought again; We have the power to speak beauty into people's lives. Whether I go back to Heather saying a few weeks ago that we have the power to speak potential into others lives or going back to Pastor Mark asking how does God take care of those around us, how does He swoop in, my mind comes back to how we interact and treat others. And I'm struck again with this thought that the ball is in our court and we have the power to bring God's beauty in people's lives.

Our words have weight and it's our responsibility to speak potential and to speak beauty into people's lives. We have to take personal responsibility for speaking truth, beauty, potential, love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and even rebuke from time to time into people's lives. Because if we don't, who will?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bad Art

"Just because you are a follower of Christ, does not give you permission to make lazy art."

Heather Zempel spoke at church this weekend about God's beauty. It was a great message and like the last time she spoke a series of blogs will be spawned. I took a lot of notes and I'm sure as I process things this week, I'll continue to post things.

But the statement above is one I completely agree with and I'm pretty sure I've soapboxed this topic before. And I usually come at it from a music angle and I'll probably do so again because music is my life and the art form that matters most to me.

And I guess because I've harped and harped numerous times about Christians making bad or mediocre music, I want to ask a different question; Why are Christians so willing to just accept bad art made in Jesus' name?

I know it's a big and unfair question to as and it's not entirely true. But I think there is a truth to this question. And it doesn't just apply to music. Anyone who's ever bought a t-shirt with the Pepsi logo but Pepsi was replaced with Jesus knows what I'm talking about. Well... I guess if you bought that t-shirt you're part of the problem and willing to disagree with me. So I'll rephrase that. Anyone who's ever seen someone wearing a Pepsi t-shirt but the Pepsi was replaced with Jesus and shook their head in mild disgust and embarrassment knows what I'm talking about.

Even though my dad loves it, I know there's probably a good chunk of Christian fiction flying off shelves somewhere that isn't worth the paper it's printed on. And I can't talk about bad Christian art and no bring up the Left Behind movies. There was another series of Rapture and most rapture films that my parents had at one point but I can't remember the name of that series. They were shitty bad films. One of them starred Gary Busey. Enough said.

And we all know there is some Christian music out there we wish would go away because it's embarrassing. I won't name names because I feel bad for picking on people who are trying to glorify God with their music and doing what they feel called by God to do. But I've heard music that's awful and worse, I've read lyrics that are so cheap and easy, and they honestly make me a little sad.

But someone is buying these books, films, albums, t-shirts, and so forth to give someone a reason to continue to make mediocre art. And people buy bad and mediocre art forms all the time. That's why Transformers can make a lot of money and Lady Gaga can sell out concerts (am I right?). I mean, Soulja Boy isn't really what I consider quality anything and people seemed to love him for a minute.

So what's the point? I guess my ultimate question is should we as Christians demand better art from their artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers, etc? And I know this is a ridiculous example but we would never eat awful tasting cookies just because a Christian made them. Am I right? Of course I am. Who wants to eat bad cookies?

Like I said, I know it's a stretch to try and compare cookies to art but I think the idea works. I know responsibility should fall on the artist to create better, deeper, more meaningful art. But if people won't ask for it, demand it, then why change? Instead of complaining about how bad things are, why not demand better? Why not just create better ourselves?

Winnie the Pooh

So I went and saw the new Winnie the Pooh movie yesterday. If that still comes to a shock to some of you, I don't know what to say. I love Disney movies. It's time to accept that.

First off I want to say that I did completely enjoy the new Pooh movie. As soon as it started a got a huge grin on my face and I'm pretty sure it stayed there while I watched the entire movie. The short in front of the film was great too. Some short, simple, very classic in every way.

But... I love Winnie the Pooh. And more to the point, I love The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It's one of my favorite, if not my favorite, Disney animated classic. I could watch that movie at any time and enjoy it every time. It is a deeply rooted part of my childhood. I grew up with a stuffed Winnie the Pooh. I love that movie.

I was even a huge fan of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (anyone else remember that show?). I loved that tv show, even though they gave us the disturbing image of a stripeless Tigger.

And I guess this is where my issue with the new movie lies... It just didn't have that charm factor that The Many Adventures has. And they tried. I absolutely loved Zooey Deschanel's songs in the movie. But some of the other songs just didn't click with me. Maybe it'll be liked Tangled where after a couple of times watching it the songs will grow on me (and I will be seeing Pooh again). I loved the movie, but it was just missing that charm factor.

Go see Pooh. You won't regret it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Diamond in the Rough

God is awesome. It's been a pretty consistent theme in my life this last month and it still holds true. God is good and it's awesome getting to watch him work in my life and others.

I think sometimes we don't acknowledge miracles that are happening around us because it's not a healing or job or water to wine. We look for miracles that are of the instantaneous variety and we miss the miracles happening right around us all the time.

As I was driving the other and just thinking about my life, I just started to see things as miracles. One of my best friends has had their life change in a big way the past year and in the past couple of weeks had prayers answered and found a new freedom in Christ and has just been able to step forward in a a new way. It's been a blessing to watch and be a part of and I just had to thank God for the miracle of/in her life.

God is good and always performing miracles around us. Sometimes we just have to take the time to notice them.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Spirit of '84

So I've been pretty sick and home the past two days. I haven't done much but I have listened to a lot of records and I figured it's time to update my travels through my iTunes playlist. Currently spinning Every Time I Die's Gutter Phenomenon. A killer record. Ending the G's and headed into the H's. I think I deleted more records in the G section then in any other to this point. Not really sure why. Just a bunch of stuff that held little interest to me.

Anyway, my next 5 albums are as followed:

H2O - H20
Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
Converge - Halo in a Haystack
Mortification - Hammer of God
Living Sacrifice - The Hammering Process

The Unnamable Name

Have we lost our reverence for God?

This question ran through my head this morning and so I'm just throwing it out there.

We're currently in the middle of the God Anthology series are church and it's been awesome trying to go over the different aspects of God's character and get a deeper understanding of who God is. During this series Pastor Mark and the teaching team at NCC has been clear that they can never truly explain or comprehend the character of God. God is a mystery and even our deepest understanding of him is so far from who God actually is. We'll never truly understand God. And that's ok.

But my question about losing our reverence for God comes out of this idea that he think we know God. We actually think we can understand how God thinks and how God loves, or judges.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

But somewhere along the line we think we have figured God out. I know there's a lot of things I don't understand and I'll never understand. I have some major hang ups when it comes to God and there are things that I don't know how to accept. But that's ok. My theology is ever changing and ever evolving. What I believe and think at 26 isn't anywhere close to what I believed or thought at 21. But I still have questions and I still don't understand things in the bible.

But I also "know" God is good and his goodness and love is so much greater then I could ever wrap my head around. And I don't need to have God figured out to love and follow him.

Just a thought.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Toy Box

Soap Box Blog Time! Everybody's Favorite!!!

So I was walking back from Starbucks and overheard a girl tell her sister she was too old for the toy store. First thing's first, that's wrong. You're never too old for the toy store. In fact, the toy store gets better as you get older right? Maybe that's just me.

Here's my bigger issue with this comment. How are you going to tell a kid that's probably between the ages of 8 and 10 that she's too old for the toy store? Are you kidding me?

I've said a lot lately about how we speak to each other and treat our girls and about the state of the human heart and growing up too fast and this is an instant that tears my heart.

Because I understand the older sister probably just wants to run her errand be done and going to the store is going to hinder whatever schedule she's on but these words could be really damaging. A harsh tone, yelling at a little girl, telling her she's too old for the toy store. My heart hurts... It doesn't seem like much but these words could have a damning impact.

You never know how the words you speak are being taken. Speak carefully. And go to the toy store!

Scream the Prayer

So I went to the Scream the Prayer tour yesterday. A day full of Christian hardcore and metal music. It was fun.

The first comment on this tour is, I'm old. I know I know, 26 isn't that old. But when I go to hardcore shows like this I realize just how old in that scene I am. I don't wear skinny jeans. I don't like bright colored t-shirts or shirts with tons of crap on them. Whatever happened to a black t-shirt with the band name? 808s and techno samples don't belong in metal. I'm too old to mosh or hardcore dance or whatever those kids were doing yesterday (I wasn't paying attention to them). I wore ear plugs for the entire show yesterday. That is old. On top of that, I wore ear plugs and my ears were still in a bit of pain this morning. That my friends is old. I will continue to go to shows because I love the music and I want to continue to support the scene which has given so much to me. But I am getting old.

At one point yesterday I went to tweet "Hey asshole, did you not see the expensive camera I'm holding? Watch where you're jumping." But then I remembered my little sister follows me on twitter and thought better of it.

I went over to The Great Commissions merch table to see if they had any physical copies of their new record. Their guitarist said they did not but tried to sell me on instant digital download card with a code for a physical cd pre-order. It wasn't my intention to be a dick but I was really only interested in picking up a cd so I said I'd think about it and walked away. He came up to me later when he found out they had actual cds. I felt like a dick so I got a t-shirt too.

I then spent some time at the Great Commission table talking about hair product. I like it when people who also rock cool hair are shocked to find out that I just use everyday, find it at CVS hair gel.

The Chariot are a fun band to watch play live. They are a super hard band to photograph live. Those guys do not stand still. They payoff is worth it because I think I got some super killer pictures of their set. But I took a ton of shots and most sucked.

Camera battery died right as Sleeping Giant started. So no pictures of Sleeping Giant or Norma Jean were taken.

Norma Jean played a killer set featuring tracks from all their albums. I wish they would've played more Anti-Mother songs and in general I wish they would have played longer. Norma Jean is by far my favorite band currently making heavy music and I always hope the headliners who have 5+ albums would played super long sets.

Close You Eyes is awesome. First band of the day I really enjoyed.

Another sign of my aging in the hardcore scene, beer. A lot of kids with X's on their hands. Not much work for the bartenders yesterday.

I don't think I have anything else to add. Yeah I do, I still dislike Baltimore. Just saying.

Pictures will be up on facebook eventually.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hidden Faces

I complain a lot. Just throwing that out there to start this off. And you, as the oh so loyal reader of these rambling that you are, know this. Because I think most of my ranting and raving and general displeasure that brings everyone a solid read starts with my bitching about something.

So as mentioned earlier, Pastor Mark spoke on God's sovereignty. And as all of the God Anthology messages have done, it got me thinking about various aspects of things said. The ideas of God as always faithful, or sovereign, or loving are hard to grasp with the reality that we live in. Bad things happen all the time and bad things happen to good people.

So Pastor Mark talked about all the terrible things we see around us and how we want God to scoop in and take care of things. Because he's God and if he was faithful, loving, and sovereign certain things wouldn't happen. But that's not how things work.

Mark asked the question, how does God take care of those things around? How does God swoop in? And then he said, "What if we started seeing with His (God's) eyes and feeling with His heart? Would we start to care like He cares?

I love that statement. Isn't taking care of people and loving those around us, also how we love God?

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!" ~ Matthew 25:34-40

I don't think it has to be a huge grand gesture. I think it can be as simple as buying someone a cup of coffee, or paying for a meal. And while we need people who adopt children, and go into the mission field full time, or do non-profit social justice work, all of which are awesome, but that doesn't have to be the aim. The aim should be to do what we can and take care of the little things around us to start.

"God is great because nothing is too small for him."


God is good. And it doesn't matter if life is going great or life just sucks at the moment. It doesn't matter if God is moving and doing great things in your life or if God seems so far away. God is still good. If it seems like a "duh" thing to say, I get that. But I feel like we all too often forget that God is good. And God doesn't have to be doing anything to be good. Because he's already done it. And out life situations don't change or affect is goodness.

Driving home from church Sunday night I was overcome and overwhelmed with a sense of God's goodness and my heart was filled with gratitude and praise. I'm embarrassed to share this because it was such a personal moment for me but there's a contrast and point I'm going to get to.

Pastor Mark talked about God's sovereignty this weekend. And he talked about how God orders our footsteps and guides us. He talked about how good God is. But he also mention that the world is full of evil and bad things happen.

So when I come home Sunday night, overwhelm and grateful for God's goodness and find out that my cousin's year old baby isn't going to make it through the night... How am I supposed to feel? It light or Pastor Mark's sermon, it was almost funny to see how that night progressed, from being so captivated by God's goodness to being heartbroken over the loss of an innocent child.

It was hard for me to move past God's goodness in that moment. There was no question God as to why it happened. There was no blaming. There was prayer for a miracle and outside of that, prayer that God would use an awful tragedy to someway bring glory to his name and some good would come from this.

But God was still good. Because God is always good.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wrath Vs Grace

So for all my commentary on Heather Zempel's fantastic sermon from last weekend, I actually haven't unpacked wrath yet and put some thoughts to it. Obviously it's awesome and you should check it out.

I've been reading Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christianity and really enjoying it. And while I haven't agreed with everything I've read there's a lot of good insight and reframing that's really nice. McLaren's chapters on the concept of God being violent are actually where he and I disagree most... Not because he's wrong or off his rocker, but I've just had an issue wrapping my head around his points. They're not bad points or far fetched, I'm just still working through what he had to say.

But that is all beside the point. And you'd think if I was going to use something from his book in my talking about God's wrath you'd think it would be from his chapter about God as violent. But it's not. Because McLaren, when talking about reframing the narrative of the bible, used the same text Heather used when talking about God's wrath. So let's go to Genesis 3.

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life."

This story, as most of us have been thought, is about when man rebelled against God and sin entered the world. But both McLaren and Zempel reframe this story a little differently. Eve and Adam disobey God by eating of the tree of knowledge. In Genesis 2:17 God says "But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die."

Eve confirms this is Genesis 3 when she responds to the Serpent. And I don't think I'd ever really thought about it until reading McLaren's book that Adam and Eve don't die when they eat the fruit. Genesis 3 isn't just the story of sin entering the world. It's more importantly the story of God's grace entering the world! God doesn't kill Adam and Eve for their mistake. Instead, he offers grace and shows his love. He not only doesn't kill Adam and Eve but he also makes them clothes to cover their nakedness. As Heather pointed out, there is a sacrifice made in Adam and Eve's place. An animal did have to die to make those clothes for the two of them. But God, in this moment of mans first downfall, extends grace and shows his love.

And then I start thinking about all the times in the Old Testament when God extends his grace and doesn't pour out his wrath.

"At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. So the LORD let him alone." ~ Exodus 4:24-26

On top of that, how many times does God, in his frustration say he's going to kill the Israelites but Moses intervenes on their behalf and prays that God won't destroy the people but will remember his promise that they would be his people? How many times did Abraham pray for Sodom and Gomorrah before God, who can't even find 10 righteous people, destroys it? And before he destroys it, shows grace to Lot and his family by making sure they escape the city before he destroys it.

Now there are consequences for sinning against God and that's where we see his wrath. Lot's wife disobeys God and turns to look upon the city as they're fleeing and turns into a pillar of salt. Israel wanders the dessert for 40 years so that an entire generation dies before they can enter the promise land. Adam must now work the earth. Eve has to endure the pain of childbearing. But where God's wrath is, his love and grace are intertwined.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fighting Losing Battles

I try to stay away from political debates and Christianity because it’s pointless. Because people will almost always disagree with me and because I'm just a guy in search of answers and trying to do what's right, I don't ever really know what I'm talking about (which I'm pretty honest about).

The only time I stick my nose into Christian political battles is when it comes to homosexuality. Why? Because I get upset when people talk about gays getting married being the destruction of America. Like that's the straw that's breaking the awesome moral fiber of this godly country.

So gay and lesbian couples can now get married in the state of New York and people are upset.

I don't want to talk about homosexuality as a sin or if it's right or wrong for gays and lesbians to get married. But I do want to discuss the battles Christians pick and choose.

Because I think we should all be able to agree that there are bigger problems in America then gays being allowed to marry. If that is what we perceive as our biggest morality issue in America then we have big problems.

Innocence is Dead. That statement is true whether you believe it or not. Disney has declared they're not doing princess movies anymore because young girls are just not interested anymore in being princesses. They're more interested in boys and fashion and whatever else. It's a problem.

I've been on a kick about speaking potential and love into the lives of those around us, especially our young girls and women. What about reclaiming innocence as well? Is it even possible? Can we undo the damage done?

ABC "Family" is one of the most offensive channels to me. Their branding of what family is disturbs me. I'll just start with Secret Life of the American Teenager, aka Little Whores of America. Is it really appropriate to have a show based around teenage girls having sex and having babies? High school dropouts with children dealing with immature teenage boys who are fickle and leave and comeback and leave again? Is this the type of family image we want our children watching? I know I don't like my sisters watching this show.

MTV has 16 and pregnant. I believe there's a show about teenage moms. And I don't know if I buy into the claims that shows like these discourage teenage pregnancy. I don't think shows like this are preventing teenage sex and in doing so, no matter how careful anyone is, it doesn't prevent teenage pregnancy.

Can we reclaim innocence when trash like this is on tv all the time? Is it possible?

I look at my cousin, who at the age of 11 or 12 says she's had dozens of "boyfriends". Really? I'll say this again, we have been careless. Is there an element of bad parenting in the loss of innocence, absolutely. But I don't know if it's possible, even with all the best parenting skills in the world, to shelter children from everything that's out there now.

And I can't help but think what if we were less concerned with rallying against gay marriage and spent more time trying to reclaim innocence within our young children? What would that look like? Wouldn't it involve speaking better things into our children's lives?

Am I being naive? Is this even possible? Even if it’s not, isn’t it worth trying?

Monday, June 27, 2011

When Adam Named Eve Pt 2

I didn't really intend to make this a series blog but the idea has stuck so deeply in my brain and infected my soul that I have to continue to talk about the idea of naming our women and the words we use.

A year ago Christine Caine spoke at NCC and like Heather Zempel this past weekend, she made a statement that really stuck with me. She made the statement that people had been careless with her life. That the lost aren't always lost because they're bad people. That other people have been careless with their lives and now they're lost.

And in relation to naming peoples potential and speaking worth into people's lives, we've been careless. And men have been careless about the words they speak into women's lives. And I know I'm guilty of this.

Whether its fathers or brothers, boyfriends, or friends, we have got to do a better job at speaking love and beauty into girls. Because I know too many young girls with already messy relational pasts and bad ideas of what a man, a father, and sadly, even what a godly man is. It's not good. And it needs to stop. Because it's happening to girls at younger and younger ages. 14 year old girls should not be sexual active and having babies... We have been careless.

It's heartbreaking. And I talk to people with twisted ideas of what love is and what is "normal" guy behavior and it's upsetting. I just think to myself, God has so much more for these girls and women and if they just had someone in their life to speak real truth and love into their lives and to set a solid of example of what a godly man is.

I don't have an answer or anything grand to say really. But I am disturbed in my soul at what I see. Heather Zempel said we have the power to speak potential into our women's live and that's all I'm saying. I just want to encourage men to speak better things to the women and girls in their life. To stop being careless with others lives. Because things are not headed in a positive direction.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Walking Spinning Backing Free

About a year ago, someone who would become a close friend of mine confided that they were struggling with God and weren't sure if they could believe in God. The last year has been spent in dialogue and conversation, answering questions and being honest with each other. Over the last year, countless bible verse of encouragement, challenging words and articles sent, in an attempt to get my friend to a level where God was something real, moving, beautiful, meaningful, anything...

It all came full circle in a note I got this week that was probably the most meaningful and touching thing anyone has ever said to me.

I'm not special. I don't have all the answers (anyone reading this blog knows this). But I didn't need to be. I just needed to be available and honest, and try.

Isn't that all loving people really takes? Being available to be open and honest and there with someone? I know I'm making this way to simple but sometimes people just need a hug and real conversation. If God can use me to influence someone and help them see and hear God, he can use anyone. Put yourself out there and be available... It's that simple sometimes.

Cars 2 - A Review of Sorts

So... I saw Cars 2 on Friday and I loved it! I think Pixar delivered another fun movie. A movie I will be buying when it's released on DVD and honestly, a movie I might go see in theaters again. And as I watched the film, I kept thinking, why do critics hate this movie so much? I don't get it.

I guess at the end of the day, people expect more from Pixar. The heart that every Pixar film has isn't really in Cars 2 and at times is a little forced and gimmicky. Like they had to have something deeper. And so there's tension with Mater and Lightning McQueen. The message is still a good one. Be yourself, no matter what others think and true friends will always stand by you no matter what. Good, positive message. But it's not the same as say Up, or Toy Story 3. There's an element to that part of the story in Cars 2 that just seems secondary. And if you're expecting something deep and heartfelt, then there's a level of disappointment.

But on a pure movie level, on an entertainment level, Cars 2 is fantastic! It's James Bond in Cars form. Yeah, it's a little mindless but it's still entertaining. The first thing one notices is how, once again, Pixar's animation has taken a step forward. This might be their greatest film on a purely visual level. The opening of the film at sea, the water looks incredible. The scenery in France, Italy, and London is gorgeous and in particular when they're racing through the streets of London at the end of the film, I was struck with just how amazing all the background looked.

The racing scenes are more compelling. A road course with twists and turns has to be better then your Nascar circle right? There are gunfights, chase scenes, and tons of action. On top of that, the movie is pretty funny. A couple of jokes for the adults in the room, which I always appreciate. As a movie fan, I was entertained. As a Pixar fan, not disappointed. Was it their best film, no. Was it better then the first Cars, I enjoyed it more.

If you're on the fence, I say go see it. I loved it. I would also say, the price of admission is worth it just to watch the Toy Story, Hawaiian Vacation short at the beginning of the film. That was well worth the price of the two tickets I bought Friday.

When Adam Named Eve

So church this morning produced a bunch of different thoughts and questions in my mind. And it's awesome. That's how church should work and a sermon on wrath better have me asking lots of questions and thinking about a lot of various things.

But this post isn't really about wrath. It's about a side note in today's message.

Genesis 3:20 - Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

A little verse that probably doesn't get a lot of attention paid to it. It happens. Heather Zempel took a moment to say a quick word about Adam choosing Eve's name. I don't think it had ever occurred to me before that Eve didn't have a name until after they had gotten kicked out of the garden.

Her point was in the name chosen. Eve, the mother of all the living. After all that had happened, eating of the tree of knowledge, being kicked out of the garden, Adam chose to name her for what she would become. He saw and named her potential. Heather commented that men need to be thinking about how they name their women. And I couldn't agree more.

Women are to be cherished and loved. And we should be speaking to their potential.

But more then that, we need to be careful what we say to each other. Sticks and stones isn't really a true statement. Words hurt and you never know who's dwelling on what you say. Statements like you're a coward, you're a loser, you dummy, have a deeper and more lasting impact that we think. And we need to really be careful what we say. I'm guilty of saying some pretty hurtful things and I have no idea what kind of impact those words have had. I know I've said some things said to me that have had a negative lasting. I've also had some things said that have had a positive lasting impact.

Words that cure are always better then words that hurt.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Bible On the Coffee Table

6 or 7 years ago I wrote a song called The Bible of the Coffee Table (Has Never Been Opened). It is probably the best song lyrically I ever wrote and the demo recorded was also probably the best vocal performance I've ever given. I would love to be able to post the song but I do not have the demo to that song anymore. I'm sure my old roommate and an ex-girlfriend both have copies but I do not.

Anyway, I was thinking about this song last night. Because I don't have a copy of the song the lyrics are foggy to me (The music on the other hand I can play perfectly. Go figure) I know the first line of the chorus went, And what if I threw everything away, would still care. The song is about deciding whether or not God is still an important person in ones life. The verses talked about staring at the bible and trying to decide if the fair tale like stories from childhood had any place in our adult life and if the protagonist in song was going to jump in and believe or throw out all that they had believed as a child and youth.

The song was written about what I saw happening to friends of mine. I saw too many people after high school, go to college and if not walk away from their faith, lessen its priority in their life. And it saddened me. To be fair, my life and faith were taking their own struggled walk together and from the point where I wrote this song to about the time I turned 23 or so I fought with the faith and Christianity I grew up in and the kind of life I was discovering through studying the bible and having in conversations with fellow believers.

So what’s the point of this post? I have no idea really. I just start typing and things happen. I guess the statement from the chorus of this song, What if I threw everything away, has been a question I’ve asked myself many times and in a way I feel like it’s a statement come true… In many ways I feel like I’ve thrown everything. For better or for worse the Christianity that I grew up knowing isn’t the Christianity I live in now. And to be honest it was a hard fought battle with myself between trying to live in a way that I had grown up knowing I was supposed to live and living my life how I was living it. It was a struggle and I really hated myself for not being the type of outward Christian that I thought was more… Acceptable? Can one be a Christian and look so different from the churches I had grown up in? Could I have so many different ideas and beliefs? It was a fight I was constantly having with myself.

What changed? God came and healed me in a major way. So major that even as I type I’m tearing up. There are two moments in my life where God has physically touched me. And this is the second. I had the condo to myself and was having an all out fight with God via prayer. I was struggling with my life and things weren’t good and I remember asking God to just help me overcome this constant battle between what I thought being a Christian should look like and how I knew I should be living. And I remember in this moment feeling a physical weight literally being lifted from my shoulders. I felt the burden lifted and God said I didn’t have to worry about trying to look or act out the faith or Christianity I had grown up in. And I fell to the floor laughing and crying… So happy and relieved. In that moment I threw everything away and knew that life could go forward and that my faith in God wasn’t defined by any of these outward things that I had felt for a long time didn’t really matter. It was a beautiful moment.

And that’s why this song is still real to me. That’s why I wish I had a copy. I don’t understand how life goes in so many different directions for so many people and I hate seeing friends who walk away from God or just aren’t as moved by the Gospel as I am. How can people not feel or be moved by something that daily challenges me and moves me in emotional and new ways. How can they throw everything away?

Well this post took an unexpected and super personal turn… If you’re reading this, God Loves You! More then any of us could ever comprehend.