Thursday, June 29, 2006

Einstein Anyone?

I've been reading an insane amount lately. I can't stop. I should stop. I have music to write. Lots of it. I am stuck on...You ready for this...

Physics, science, design.

Intelligent design has had a bad rap lately but I really don't care. All of this started way back in my sophomore year in College before Intelligent design was a big fat sword of the religious right to smack everyone around the head with.

I have never liked math or science. In fact, I have hated it. Partly because I have had the real-life versions of the teacher in "Ferris Bueller's Day off." Bueller...Bueller...anyone?

Anywho, it wasn't until an ex-construction-company-owner who decided to get a masters in Math and taught a class one summer at my hometown college MSU that mathematics, that physics took hold of my imagination. (It also helped that I went straight from this class to Astronomy) Somehow this guy was able to relate math to life. I don't mean everyday life as in, "is a 45 degree angle the distance between the ladder and the wall then what is the blah blah blahdidy blah let me polish my pocket protector." I mean philosophy, math, life, the Science of God.

We miss out on this in our schools. The great mathematicians were also great philosophers. Pythagoras, Descartes, Plato, Aristotle. They were also great thinkers and dreamers. Einstein, Newton, Galileo. It took great imagination to dream up all that these chaps dreamed. I just wish that these subjects could be taught now with the awe and wonder that they deserve. Not cut off from the things that could cause us to wonder and dream. I wouldn't be slaving over relativity now at 30+ when the file cabinets of my mind are already heavy and full of TV shows and endless, useless movie quotes.

For instance, did you know that one of the leading atheist physicists of our day has stated, after studying and searching in vain for the smallest particle/energy/building block of life, that "we are almost more of a thought than anything" As a Christian my mind wonders at this statement. Jesus is the Logos, the Word of God or the "thought" of God. Paul and John says all things are held together by and through Him, Christ, the Logos or "thought" of God. Just one of the many things that keep me fired up about science these days.

So what do you think of Intelligent Design. What do you know about it? If you had the opportunity as a teacher, would you slip it in? Is teaching evolution WITHOUT the option of a Creator (or "Mind" as the LEADING SCIENTISTS OF THE DAY INCLUDING STEPHEN FRIGGIN HAWKINGS call it so why can't we?,) the same as teaching from an Atheistic perspective?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Smell of Play

I went for a walk tonight with my wife. The neighborhood where we are house-sitting is really nice. It has a built-walking track around a semi-park area that is right in the middle of the neighborhood. Away from cars and roads and business. It's kind of like a little quiet central park in Sugarland suburbia. And did I mention it was nice. It is amazing what smells can do to your mind and memory. Fresh cut grass, the faint smell of a grill, and out of nowhere, just for a lingering instance I smelled fresh cinamon rolls. I immagined some kids peeking throught the oven window to see if they were done. I could hear a lawnmower in the distance, a dog barking, maybe kids playing somewhere I couldn't see and the sun was just out of sight. It was just before twilight and it was beautiful.

Walking through the uncommonly cool breeze for this time of year, I remembered back, just for a moment what it was like to not have a care in the world. I remebered what it was like when your only concern was meeting your friend down the street halfway on your bikes. Finding a field of fresh cut grass, gather another friend or two and playing any game that you could invent. It could be a combo of football/dodgeball/baseball/ and war. It was a fantastic time to be alive. I can't believe I was so laden with stress at that age. As I wandered passed these gorgeous upper-middle class homes and fields ripe for play, I was amazed to find not a child in site. Not one. I wonder if it is because kids or parents would get fined if they played on the grass. I wonder if it is fear. Nobody really knows their neighbors anymore and everyone locks their doors, all the time. I don't know what it is but they were sure missing prime play-time.

I am not going to live in fear as a parent. I am not going to let my kids miss out on days like today. I know it's hard not to be afraid but if I have to walk out there and break or pull something playing freeze tag at 40, by golly, they are going to have something to remember someday, like I did tonight.


So we have been house-sitting for a few days. This morning I picked up a copy of CCM ("Contemporary Christian Music Magazine" for my non-Christian-music-listening-readers/buddies) that our friendly homeonwners subscribe to. Flipping through I have one question to ask every musician in those nifty pictures and advertisements. -"Who died?" EVERY SINGLE PICTURE of a band or solo artist looks like they are on the verge of: 1. Suicidal thoughts 2. Loosing their home to government repossesion or 3. About to kick everybody's butt starting with the camera guy.

I hate to be critical but I find myself sort of depressed as I flip through the pages of uber-solemn-madman-esque glares. I am sure there is a mountain of talent in each artist and it is incredibly important to express oneself, but do we all have to manufacture scowls to be so dang cool? I just don't believe that everyone is that hacked, Christians no less. "I'm Chrisitan and I'M PISSED ABOUT IT so BACK OFF...BUCKO (followed by a rockstar kick and air guitar riff)!!!"

I tend to think that it is simply the "cool" factor kicking in. Its all about acceptance. "The world won't take me seriously unless I look serious, i.e. EXTREMELY ANGRY." I just have this sneaking suspicion that these scowling chaps are really much happier than they appear.

The equivalent was back in the 80's Michael Jackson put out that song and video "Bad" Where he strutted his stuff around like a West Side Story skit on crack. Even I, at the age of 9 didn't buy it. We all knew he was a big wimp and any girl in the dance chorus could have mopped the floor with him.

So come on guys, your touring the States with your best buddies, you've got big record deals, you live in a plush touring bus, you are mostly in good health, AND you are in a magazine which means someone out there likes your music. So come out of that closet, you are really in a good mood. Admit it. Show it. No need to fold your arms and push your bicepts out to make them look bigger. You are who you are, a Jesus Freak and proud of it.

Come on, sing it with me...

"I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free...

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Day In the Life of an A.D.D. Man

You day begins groggily with the feeble but honest thought, "I need to pray." You go to living room to pray and on your way, the need for a cup of coffee is overwhelming. You take a short detour to the coffee maker to start grinding coffee. As you are running the water for the coffee you are reminded that you have not used the bathroom yet since you woke up. You stop the running water and go to the Bathroom. In the bathroom you see a Magazine. This magazine has a very interesting article on the human genome project and you are reminded of the book that you were reading earlier in the week, "A brief History of Everything." This spurs you to go find the book and pick up where you left off. You leave the bathroom to find the book. Luckily it is in the other bathroom where you left it and you sit down in your bedroom to read it. You are happily reading away and realize that you have a bit of a headache. You need caffeine.....Coffee!. You go back to the Coffee machine and find that you have already ground the coffee you just need to pour the water in and press start. This you accomplish not 45 minutes after you first began this task. The coffee is running and you sit down for another chapter. As you read about genetics, the Eve gene, and finally the Human Body and how it is a miracle, something triggers in your mind and you remember that you need to exercise. "I'll go for a run and go work out" you say to yourself enthusiastically. You stop what you are doing and decide to change for working out.

While getting ready your wife calls you and reminds you to mail off a CD on your way to church, to a person who bought online last night. This information somehow reminds you that it is Monday not Tuesday and you remember that you have students in an hour and a half and if you want to work out you need to do it quick. This puts you in a brief state of panic and rush. (the kiss of death for an A.D.D. man) Hurriedly you finish getting ready throwing on a t-shirt and a pair of tennis shoes you get ready to walk out the door. Opening the door, to your amazement you notice that you have forgotten a crucial item of clothing- shorts. You have your t-shirt, running shoes and a pair of underoos. Very annoyed and hurriedly you try to save some time by attempting put on a pair of running shorts over your shoes. You know that this could be disastrous but you try anyways. Five minutes later you have defeated the obstacle but this shorts-over-shoes challenge has left you in a greater hurry. You grab your keys and head for the door. Your mind is racing with how you are going to work out, take a shower, drop the CD off at the post office AND get to your lessons on time all the while small pictures of long DNA strands are flashing in your brain to confuse you further. Half-dazed, with towel and Ipod in hand, you reach the door. You then lift your car clicker to the door and try unsuccessfully to unlock the apartment door.... WITH YOUR CAR-DOOR CLICKER. After a perplexed moment or two you are aware of your lunacy and quickly check again for pants. Good. You have pants. You're out the properly unlocked Door, and you are on your way.

You work out in record time and hop in the shower. Out of the shower, you throw on some clothes. On your way out the door again you see the book that you put down before working out and grab it just in case you have a few no-shows for lessons.

By the end of this day, you have lost your keys a grand total of 6 times, left the CD at home that you were supposed to mail, left the coffee pot on without ever drinking a cup, tried to go workout half naked, attempted to unlock your front door to leave the apartment with your Car Clicker, forgotten to eat, missed the exit for the church, twice, on the way home you've gone to your old apartment complex thinking that you still live there (they actually look alike in your defense) and you never got to do the very first thing you set out to do at the beginning of the day, PRAY.

And let me tell you, their should be volumes on helping those of us with A.D.D. in Prayer, if we actually make it there. This should be a topic for a sunday-school class. "Prayer for bad concentrators." Much more usefule than that ever-so-fascinating study of Leviticus. ZZZZZZZzzzz

This of course does not include all the microcosms of A.D.D. episodes happening WHILE you are doing a task that you FINALLY remember to do.

Can I get an Amen. Can I get a witness.

Ultimately, I blame the TV.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Grass is Bluer

Swimming pools. We have all had times in our lives where we thought we have wanted them. The young poor Oklahoma boy plays in a sandpile with some hand-me-down G.I. Joes and a couple of worms for massive serpents and thinks to himself "man I wish I had a swimming pool like the O'dells do down the street"

Amber and I have been house sitting now for a day and will be for the next two weeks. In the back yard is a very nice swimming pool. When they asked us to house sit, one of the first comments made to us to tantilize us was "we've got a swimmin' pool" Suddenly my mind is flooded with thoughts of gliding underwater free as a fish or sitting by the pool warming up after a good swim rich-man style.

Truth is, I have yet to step 10 feet of the thing.

Come on, really what is so great about a swimming pool? When you go over to a persons house do you ever see anyone swimming. No. You see a father reluctantly and annoyingly cleaning the sucker, probably thinking "what a pain in the buttcheek" He then probably immagines the water turning to money and watches the money flow in and out of the filters. He would if he were my dad anyway.

Its not just that, its that actual getting in that is also un-fun. (good word, admit it) Especially for men. You know the drill men. You step in, foot by foot. Then as the water makes it's way up your legs your body is covered in tortorous freezing bumps. Then you look down and notice that you have 4 inches left till the freezing water reaches the ole' reproductive compadres. You know this is going to suck so you do a sudden fake out and splash em'. It is a wonder that we do this. I mean, its not like we can really fake em' out or anything. "Hey look! an asteroid!" SPLASH SPLASH!!!! "HA HA fooled you!"

Anyway, I guess the moral of the story is this; I am really wanting to swim but I am too lazy to go an do it. I am trying to find excuses not to swim. If I had the choice I would still pick a house with a swimming pool. You are all going to die someday. Go for a swim.

How's that for wise words?

Splash your neighbor and splash them often!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

My deepest and saddest blog yet.

I'm really liking this new Dr. Pepper can. Something about it. Kinda makes me... drinky drinky..... must drink.

I am sitting at church waiting on a student and trying to take my mind off the ferocious tazmanian devil that is my stomach. I have just noticed something. I have been pretty darn serious lately in my blogs. One friend even said "why don't you just tear my heart out! When I read the "I see an angel part", I think my tears just shot out of my eyes and hit my computer screen."

This may be a sign for me to lighten up a bit. Hey, I think I'll do that. I HAVE been pretty darn serious lately and honestly, I am not that serious of a fellow. Honestly, I spend most of my day trying to figure out how to prank people, mostly my good friend Joey. The last prank was a bit harsh. He came to play at our church last weekend and stayed with me and Amber. My friend is a bit of primper and is horribly in love with his hair. Sooooo I decided to make a little trip to his Hair conditioner and replace some of it with a little Hydrogen Peroxide. As I was happily putting the cap back on I noticed that the friggin thing cost like 25 DOLLARS!!! So reluctantly before I shook up my pranking potion I tried to pour out what I had poured in. Well I think I got most of it.

After a few days I called him to break the news to him. (mostly out of curiosity) He laughed, called me a few choice words and told me that he had some pictures taken recently and the photographer who is his friend, asked if he was lightening his hair.

I know, I know, I am evil. (said as I recline and sip my delicious carbonated nectar)

Just Scribbling on a Cave Wall

It was no coincidence when a Priest and young boy wandered through an un-discovered cave, and stumbled upon the oldest evidence of prehistoric “human” life. They found no bones or tools, no weapons or signs of conflict, no evidence of a wild pagan sacrificial worship. They found art. They found pictures of animals drawn on the walls of a cave. When the priest and the boy saw this, there was no doubt in their minds who could have done such a thing. Only human beings are self aware, aware of the beauty around them, and can express it. These ancient men were aware enough of this beauty to express it on the walls of their cave home (or maybe they just stumbled onto it like the priest and boy) for no other purpose than the need or desire of doing it. This is where we fit in all those categories that Wikipedia lists. Category 5. The Cave Painter. I believe that God creates artists. If someone were to ask me today- "Can you show me one simple thing that could distinguish us from the other living bipeds and quadrupeds?" I would go to my sister's fridge and show them a child’s drawing of Mommy, Daddy and Pouncer the wonder-cat. The fact that we can make “art” alone elevates our intelligence (because of our spirit) by a quantum leap from the rest of organized life.

This awareness and expression of beauty in us is an awareness and expression of the work of God, in us and around us. It must be expressed and we as created artists express it differently. We are singers, songwriters, painters, and writers. We are also Masons, Architects, Graphic Designers, Doctors, Engineers, Editors, Organizers, Pastors, Mothers, Fathers, and yes even Politicians, or public servants, as they should be called. All of us have a vision in our minds of something beautiful, and we want to do it. We not only WANT to do it we are DRIVEN passionately to do it. This is how the kingdom was created. Someday when the new Earth is recreated and heaven is ours, this will be all that we do. Even what we consider now as mundane tasks will become something like the pleasure an artist feels with each stroke across a canvas.

I know I have been created in this time as a songwriter. In my songs I express what I experience. At times I have to write about the great marvelous Mystery that is God, Almighty maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth. At times I need to write about the beauty that is my wife or express the beauty that two young lovers can see in each other. Shoot, I might just feel inclined to write a song when I see a greater truth expressed in the comic strip “Peanuts” and decide to write about Lucy from the prospective of her friend Charlie Brown. I could very likely turn around and add a few verses and a bridge to one of my favorite spirituals “Give me Jesus”. I do this because this is the Joy that God has put inside of me. This is freedom. In all of it there is a reflection of him because I am creating something, and he has put a little bit of His creative spirit in me. However, I cannot create as God creates. I do not create from nothing. I simply hope to express in a unique way, to express the world around me that He has made from nothing and express how it is seen through the filter of what is “me.” I always hope this vision will bring Joy to others, and I hope that ultimately others see and know the awe-inspiring God that gives this joy to me.

So that’s just me. Scribbling on a Cave wall. Doing what man has done since man has been man -and for the same reason.

It is a brilliant and marvelous irony that the Great Artist, in whose likeness we are formed, would ultimately express himself in a similar way thousands of years after our Cave artist ancestors except in this cave, would be real animals, real shepherds, a Mother and Father and God himself would use flesh and bone to express himself to the created universe and to mankind in a newborn child.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Greatest

Many of you have heard plenty of stories and will hear more stories about my Dad's incredible life. What I have not told is Just what a great Dad he has been to me and my three sisters. Instead of telling a bunch of colorful stories (which I will save for later) I will just name a few things off the top of my head that remind me every day that I have the greatest dad a boy, teenager, and man could ask for.

When I was a kid, I suffered sever anxiety. I worried about world wars, vampires, bullies, having diseases, my parents getting a divorce (because of the occasional fight), and my sisters getting kidnapped, and dreams of my younger sister getting eaten by alligators in the pool (?). By the time I was nine years old I was getting up 3 times a night to make sure the oven wasn't on so that the house wouldn't burn down and had decided that I didn't believe in God because I added up the years in the bible and the Earth was only 3000 years old (crappy math) to my calculations. I was as sensitive as a cold sore and would cry at the drop of a hat and burst into raging anger fits over the smallest things. I was a bit of an emotional handful. On top of that I was ornery. Ornery as a starving raccoon. Just ask my sisters.

Despite my orneriness the thing that has plagued my life the most has been worry. Honestly, I still worry but not like I would if I didn't have the Father that I do.

One hot Indiana night, about 20 years ago, (that would make me 10 years old) I lay awake, eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling, worrying that I had a brain tumor because of some headaches that I was having that day. I finally got to the point where I couldn't take it any more and at 2 or 3 in the A.M. I got up, quietly walk to my parents door and gently "knock, tap, tap...." I heard some covers rustling. My dads voice emerged muffled from the other side..."What do you need?..." "Dad", I would say timidly, "could I talk to you for a second" There was a few seconds of silence....Then finally in a deep, tired and calm voice, "just a minute"

As soon as I heard these words I felt better. I knew that HE would have the answer. Finally after a minute or two my dad would emerge in a multicolored-striped robe and house shoes, hair a bit disheveled. We would walk into the living room, he would sit in his recliner and I would sit on the couch facing him. There he would quietly listen to my problem and worries. Then he would begin to tell me that I had nothing to worry about and there was nothing wrong with me. He would explain that the reason why you are having headaches is that "you rammed your head on the coffee table being rambunctious and that you just needed a couple of advils and a glass of water."

Then there was the time at 13 when my dad KNEW that I was smoking and drinking with my friends but of course he didn't let on that he knew. I came home from smoking down at Turnover-bridge with my older buddies (some 17 and 18). My sister said sarcastically, "were you down there smokin' with John and Dwight?" I would just say "No! Why don't you go smoke a barbie" which made no sense and was incredibly defensive. My dad just gave me a hug and said, "son, I love you and I know you wouldn't do something like that. You are too smart for that." -OUCH. It would KILL me inside to lie to my dad who I loved.

Like I said, he knew when to discipline and when to love. After all, as you will find out later in stories to come, he was pretty darn wild himself when he was younger.

Later in my early College years (17 as a freshman) it was my Dad who was waiting up for me at 2 in the morning worried. Not angry but worried. He would then probe into what I was doing and I would of course, tell a few windies here and there, and he would just sigh and say, "Okay, son, I trust you" and go off to bed at 2 in the morning...On a Saturday night....And he is a preacher. DOUBLE OUCH. After a few weeks of this waiting up it finally cured my short-lived partying days.

Recently I was reminded again what a great father I have when I came to terms with the fact that I won't have him forever.

6 months I got the call at church right before I was to go in and play for church. My cell phone rang and my oldest sister was on the line. "Seth, are you sitting down?" "What" I replied. "Dad is in the hospital and has to have emergency quadruple bypass surgery."

That Sunday morning they had rushed him to the hospital because he was having pains in his chest and back.

I stood there and I felt like someone had sucker-punched me in the stomach. It was the hardest church service I have had to attend or play through. The next day we flew in to Springfield to be at the operation.

Our prayers were answered and the surgery was successful. I was one of the six people to see him immediately after. Amazingly he was was already awake and talking. By the grace of God, my parents live near one of the top 10 best heart hospitals in the country. The surgeon was able to do the operation WHILE the heart was beating. Although the operation was a success, I had never seen my dad like this. Weak and frail. He had an oxygen mask on and He asked for my mom. She came over to him and he looked at her and said in a very deep but frail voice. "I see an angel"

This is the kind of father I have been blessed with and for this I am eternally thankful.

It is because of his encouragement and love that I think that I have such a healthy view of my Father in Heaven. I hope I can be half the dad to my kids that my father has been to me and my sisters.

Thanks Dad. Love you.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Wikipedia on CCM

According to the Wikipedia there are 4 types of CCM. These four types are different and we can pretty much classify most "Christian" albums in one of these categories. I love that our culture creates genres as soon as it can. We love to classify everything. From our Religion to personality types. We think that it helps us to understand ourselves and the world around us. Lately I have been re-thinking this whole compartmentalizing and will post soon on it. For now, what do you think of these four categories and for what categories do you feel the strongest. Do you think there is a need for these kind of assessments? Do you think that is good for us to know which category we fall under. How would you categorize Five Cent Stand's music pertaining to these categories. I am seriously interested in your thoughts. Amber and I have some decision to make in the next few months and some of our decisions will be contigent on how we fit into these categories or if we do, so opions and suggestions are appreiciated.

Category 1. The purists position
In this view, Christians should use music as a tool of spreading the gospel of Christ to others. The views of the Purist can be summed up with the words of Martin Luther. "I am not of the opinion that all arts are to be cast down and destroyed on account of the Gospel, as some fanatics protest. On the other hand, I would gladly see all arts, especially music, in the service of Him who has given and created them. I therefore pray that every pious Christian would be pleased with this [the use of music in the service of the gospel] and lend his help if God has given him like or greater gifts. As it is, the world is too lax and indifferent about teaching and training the young for us to abet this trend. God grant us his grace. Amen."

Category 2. "The 'spiritually reflective' position"
This position states that Christians should embrace pop and rock music more as an art form than a preaching tool. T-Bone Burnett, a Christian musician and producer, summed up this view well when he said that "You can sing about the Light, or you can sing about what you see because of the Light. I prefer the latter" [6]. Musicians known to hold this position include MxPx, Danielson Famile, and Sufjan Stevens. Many artists who hold this view experience frustrations with the CCM industry for a lack of originality, creativity, and depth; in fact, some have cut ties with the industry altogether (e.g. Sam (Leslie) Phillips), questioning the need for a separate Christian music "ghetto".

Category 3. The incidental position
This position holds that the artists' intent is irrelevant. In other words, Christians can find beauty and truth in certain music, regardless of the author's intent or spiritual stance. An example of this is Jeff Buckley's cover version of "Hallelujah" (originally written and recorded by Jewish singer Leonard Cohen), a song that resonates with many Christians but was sung by an artist not normally associated with the CCM industry. Eakins explains that music of this sort "is allied to no spiritual or Christian tradition and may form its inspiration from any source. Where as the purist or spiritually reflective positions have inspiration in God, any Christian music produced from the incidental position is precisely that, incidentally created." (my note)- Also, it might interest some that the Jackey Valesquez song "I get On My Knees" Was written by an orthodox Jew and never mentions the name of Jesus. It might fall under this category

Category 4.The separatist's position
This position states that Christians should not be listening to or making pop/rock music at all. Many that embrace this argument trace rock's roots to Satanism, and claim that any association with it is wrong. (my note)-uh huh...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Top Ten Favorite CCM Songs

Again I am comprising a list that is not exhaustive. There are plenty of songs that did not make it on the list that I think are just fantasic but I just chose to list the ones that have had the most long standing impact on me. A couple of songs that did not make the List are "Welcome Home" and "Jesus" by Shaun Groves. I think that Shuan is certainly one of the most talented Christian songwriters we have. I also love some Nichole Nordeman, Derek Webb, Genny Owens, Ray Bolz, Kenny G, ect... Okay not those last two but you get the point.

10. You put This Love in my Heart (Keith Green) The piano intro alone could put this song on my list. What a talent. So much Joy in his heart.

9. Rocketown (Smitty) I am a sucker for old Smitty. This song is so darn cool. It goes out of the norm and I played it over and over as a kid and get all nostalgic when I hear it again.

8. The Love of God (Rich Mullins) About 8 years ago one of my best friends in Undergrad introduced me to Rich Mullins. His name was Jerod McKinnley. We used to listen to Rich on the way to racket ball every morning one semester. Sadly, my friend Jarod passed away a few years ago from Cancer. He is with the Lord now and I am so thankful for his witness. I can hardly hear this song now without choking up. It is a little known song but the words are so stinking powerful.

7. Jesus Freak (DC Talk) This song rocked my world in College. I was soooo excited when this album came out. I worked at Blockbuster Music at the time and the workers could pick a CD for rotation to play on the overhead. I always picked this one. TONS of people asked who it was and loved it.

6. Sing Your Praise (Amy Grant, but really Rich Mullins) I remember singing this song at the top of my lungs as a youngster out in the parking lot of our Church. I imagined myself singing infront of huge crowds leading them to Worship the almighty, throwing my hands up in reckless abandon at the tender age of 6. I turned around and saw a deacon had been watching me and I acted like I was just stretching and sort of sauntered off.

5. Your Love Broke Through (Keith Greene) After almost 30 years this song is so powerful and fresh. It is the best of Keith and I just love it. It is a song that could be done a thousand different ways and still be powerful. However I still love it when Keith sings it best. BTW, did you guys know that Bob Dylan LOVED Keith's music and recorded some songs with him?

4. Untitled Hymn (Rice) Just beauty. This song shows a writer that has the spirit of David. A true communicator of Grace. One time Amber and I choreographed this song (Amber is an AWESOME dancer as well as singer) It is the best song for me to hear when I need to hear the message of Grace and hope in Christ again.

3. Great Light of the World (Bebo) Bebo has my favorite voice in Christian Music. (Shane Bernard a close second) He has a way of speaking to every demographic and you believe him. From the songwriting to the production I hardly get tired of hearing it.

2. Thankful (Caedmon's Call) I put this as my number 2 because this song just makes me feel so good. It is the perfect synthesis of Derek's great songwriting and the Joyful abandon that is so prevalent in Caedmon's music. Sidenote: I found this hilarious pic and had to post it.

1. The Color Green (Rich Mullins) This song is my favorite for so many reasons. It is the work of a true Artist. Passionate for God and not cheap. It is a redeemed soul crying out in Joy for being Born again. It has a sense of awe and wonder that is missing from so much music today, only concerned with getting people jumping up and down.

Okay, so whats yours!!

Movie Trivia

Movie trivia day!!

"I said NO camels. Thats five camels can't you count?" "compensation for my brother-in-law's car"

What movie?

Who said it?

Who said what?

What was the situation?


1. you can only answer one question per person.


3. you may ask for hints.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Mad at God

I got mad at God today. Busting mad. Shake my fist at the sky cuss-out loud mad.

“WHAT!” you say? That’s right, you heard correctly. It was time to get down to business. I won’t go into the details of why I was so mad because they are between God and myself, but I will tell you that they were ultimately about getting things my way, in my time.

We think we cannot get mad at God. I think that we are wrong. I felt so horrible at all these thoughts running through my head about God. I wanted to forget about him and do something else. Then I remembered that God Himself said, “be angry and sin not.” Now I am not advocating a constant anger towards God and I am for sure not insinuating that God is ever wrong. I am saying that sometimes it FEELS like He is wrong, and we act like we don’t notice. This is dishonesty. That kind of passive aggressive stuff only works on people. Most of the time, when we are angry in life, we are angry with God but are too afraid to admit it. We focus it to other people: our spouse, our kids, or ourselves. I think this prolongs healing and understanding of the God who loves us. I think that God wants to hear our anger towards Him rather than hear our namby-pamby beating around the bush prayers, never expressing our frustrations and fears and confusion. He wants to hear what we have to say even if we are angry, because we are being honest. When did God finally answer Job? When Job let it out. Job, the faithful servant, finally sat down and got real after his family had been killed, his cows and sheep died, house burned down, and boils had covered his body. He finally spit it out. “God, why did you even make me? I regret the day I was born. I DEMAND AN ANSWER!”

Now what God said was not exactly pleasant and if you read closely He did not really answer Job’s questions, but what He did remind Job of was who He was and who Job was. Many times when we are honest with God and we go ahead and let the anger out, we immediately feel a sense of calm and understanding. Sometimes, like today, we will probably be embarrassed. We might cry, and we will probably apologize. This is healthy. The woman who cries out to God after loosing a child, who is totally broken, full of anger, pain, hurt, confusion, is closer to God than she has ever been. It is the soul who Shuts God out and hardens the heart towards God, denying that God could allow such a thing, that is far from God. Believing that God, if there is a God, is not good. This ultimately leads to denying the existence of God and loss of faith.

Consider the Psalms. They are full of David or the Psalmist crying out to God in desperation. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” This was the Psalm that Jesus quoted from the cross. If you read the entire Psalm you see a perfect example of a man who is angry and alone. He is crying out to God, and after each phrase he (actually God) answers His own questions. Listen to how he begins the Psalm and ends it.

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me?
So far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, 

by night, and am not silent.

Then by the end:

28 for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn—for he has done it.

It is not ironic that Jesus said this Psalm (at least the first part) from the Cross. He knew this psalm well I am sure. I am also sure he probably knew the rest and maybe, just maybe he said the rest. We cannot know for sure and for some reason we are not supposed to know. The point is that it was the ultimate moment of despair. God’s will is not easy to swallow sometimes but it is always the best for us. Always.

I think we should think of anger at God as something akin to vomiting when we are sick. This sounds crude but it is really what it is like. Anger at God is in us. We cannot help but feel it at times, and it MUST come out. When we do, we may not like what we hear. This is good. Sometimes God does not answer immediately but what you have done is acknowledged Him instead of denying Him. You have been honest with God, and He hears an honest prayer. “If with all your heart you truly seek me, you shall ever surly find me” It is you at your most raw and exposed. He knows you are mad anyway, why not get it out and deal with it? Let it out. He can take it. He can take the worst we have to offer. His tolerance for our anger is high. Just as that Mother’s tolerance is high for a child who is angry, screaming that he or she hates her and wants her to let him or her go. However, the mother knows if she does they might harm themselves so they hold on, tight.

Just remember, He will answer, and when He does, reconsider arguing. He put you through this test for a reason. If you don’t learn the lesson the first time, He will put you through it again. I like what Rich Mullins said about arguing with God “It don’t do any good to argue with God because He always wins. He bloodies your nose and then gives you a ride home on his bicycle.”


Monday, June 12, 2006

Top Ten Favorite Albums

When I say albums, I mean ALBUMS. Several of my favorite songs of all time did not make this list. Album-making is a dying art form. A uniform work of power and beauty. The 20th century version of the Symphony. Each song leads to the other and every song is more powerful within the context of the Album. Each song enhanced by what came before and after. So I did not include some Albums even though my favorite Rock song of all time did not make the list, "Ocean" by Led Zeppelin. Words cannot express my love for this song, but it is not one of my favorite albums.

10. Appetite for Destruction-Guns and Roses. Appetite for destruction is the greatest Hair-Band album. It is the pinnacle of 80's glam rock and paved the way for the raw sounds of Nirvana and anti-established style. Guns and Roses in their own way were anti-Hair Band. They wore no make-up. They did not tease their hair and never appeared in public sober or bathed. Appetite has so many creative and inventive songs that it had to make my list. Fav. songs include "Sweet Child of Mine" "Paradise City" "Appetite for Destruction" "Mr. Brownstone"

9. Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits. The album that I grew up listening to most. I probably have every single song on it memorized (except for "for Emily..." which depresses me) and I still can't get enough of "America" "Kathy's Song" and "The Boxer." Plus, you gotta love their hair in this pick. Just Fantasic.

8. Liturgy and Legacy -Rich Mullins. One of the most impacting albums I have heard. It is so bold and beautiful and was always the album that I played for my die-hard-Christian-music-hating-friends to show them that you could be Christian and original and NOT cheezy. I still love "Here in America" and the "Color Green" on this album the best. Two songs that never saw the light of day on the radio.

7. Illinois -Sufjan Stevens. A huge Surprise. I did not think that I would be loving an album so much written in recent years. So much should be said about this album but since many reading haven't heard it, I think you should hear it rather than read about it. I will say that it is an Album that has inspired me and has given me hope. (sniff, sniff, tear)

6. Surfacing -Sarah McLachlan. This is probably the most beautiful album ever made. From beginning to end it is completely georgeous. I don't think I have ever immediately been blown away by an artitst and album so much as I have by this record. I can stil turn this album on at any time and still be moved and in awe by her artistry. From the first second to the last little haunting waltz this is a flawless synthesis of perfect songwriting and perfect production. The only album from top to bottom that supasses in this way for me is my number one choice.

5. Graceland- Paul Simon. This is one of those albums that I heard at an influential age and the song-writing style is embedded into my conscience. The African a cappela tunes are just magical. You can hear hints of the influence of "Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes" in my humble tribute to Paul Simon's Influence in the song "Bitter Kiss" on our Album.

4. Joshua Tree -U2. Oh man what an Record. I still remember when these guys hit the scene. I hated them at first and did not begin to love them until I realized how crappy motley Crue (with the improper umlauts) had become. When I entered my music snob days in College it was the only album I would listen to. (oh brother) I am still so amazed how overtly their religious beliefs are intertwined in all their lyrics and we never really noticed. There is hardly a better intro to a song than "Where the Streets Have no Name" My only complaint is that I wish Christian Rock bands would stop raping the style of this tune. Come on, enough is enough.

3. The White Album -The Beatles. Another "Oh man what a record" There are soooo many songs that I love on this album. "Rocky Raccoon" "Life goes on", "Blackbird", "Mother Nature's Son" (a lesser known jewel on the album) and probably my favorite on the White Album, "I Will." The sheer scope and experimental mood of this album (mainly because they all just wanted their songs to be heard, thus thus the length) is staggering.

2. Are You Experienced? -Jimmy Hendrix.

Two words.

Purple Haze.

(drum roll) and my number one most favoritest album that I love the mosteses is..... big surpise...

1. Sgt. Pepper -The Beatles. No album has influenced more song-writers, myself included. I remember when my dad first got one of the re-issued cassettes in the 80's. I literally wore the tape out and since I have probably bought the album 25 times between loosing it, giving it away and just sheer overuse. I now only allow myself to listen to it once every 6 months so as to experience anew the power of this friggin wonder of musical creation. No song can compare to this day to in creative genius and power of "A Day in the Life" ...Period.

There you have it. What would have made your list that didn't make this one? What do I need to check out that has rocked your world? What's your top 5, 10, or 20?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Every Man Should Have a Kramer or George Friend

My friend Joey is George and Kramer wrapped into one. It is now 11:43 and I will be traveling very soon back to the Church because the man is a loon tune in a flesh-suit. He has trapped himself between two alarm protected parts of our Church. He was safely working in my office on a film project and remembered that he had forgotten his phone in the sanctuary. He stepped out the door of the offices and into the hallway to be greeted by the most massive terrifying sounding alarm created by man. He then frantically ran to the alarm disarming pad and forgot to prop open the place that holds the keys to his car. So he is without his cell-phone AND his car-keys. This will be the 4th time he has had an alarm crisis at our Church in 6 months. Other times include him calling me at 2:00 a.m. frantically screaming into the phone over the alarm, asking what the code is because he can't remember, because he is too frantic. Then there was the time when he had a warrant out for his arrest for an unpaid ticket. The police came, and as the police arrived at the doors my friend disappeared into the nursery. As I was conversing with the police officer showing her my I.D., I hear in the distance outside the church a mortorcycle starting, then vroom off quickly into oblivion.

So, I am off. Off to help unlock a door for Kramer so he can get his overpriced incredibly huge A.I. phone out of the sanctuary. But not before I sneak in a quick blog. If you would like to read another interesting story about this friend, go back into the archives here and read the "near death on the 12th hole" blog.

I needed to pick up some milk and coffee anyway.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Abbey Normal Christian

"What is normal?" We have all asked this question at some time in our lives and we have all heard the fun little catchy ironic phrases like; "being weird" is true normality and "being conformed" is abnormal. While there is much truth to this it is still unsatisfying and full of holes. Charles Manson is anything but a conformist. He is as wild and exotic as a dodo bird and he is absolutely abnormal. There are 88 keys on a piano, perfectly situated both visibly and tonaly. It is also (nearly) precise in it's tuning and yet a piano is anything but normal. It is a marvel of hundreds of years of invention. There is nothing in creation like it.

I think that what we really are asking is "what is sane and what is insane" I would argue that the life of a Christian offers the greatest example of what is sane whereas a life of Sin is the ultimate representation of insanity. You can be as wonderful as God created you to be, totally out of the normal-everyday-step and be completely sane because you walk in the Light.

In truth, you will actually be more wonderful, abnormal and free than you ever dreamed when you walk in this Light. There is this horrible lie going around Christian communities that conforming to the likeness of Christ means loosing ones fantastic personality traits, including dreams, talents, gifts, AND joy. What we actually loose is our insanity, our sinful self, not our personality and gifts. Would God create a flower and expect it to never bloom? (He might my black thumbs where it's caretaker) NOOOO!!! Religious extremism, usually spurred from the lie that God won't love us unless we give up our gifts for him in some sacrificial way, usually encourages us to be everything else but who we are. "Obedience is greater than sacrifice" Because obedience is His will. Now, I realize that some people are called out of something that they love to do, sing, dance, write, crochet, because God has some specific task for them. But when He does these rare things he usually uses the talents he has given you, including some you have yet to discover to achieve His goal. Anyway, I digress...

When we sin we actually are insane. Sin is the total opposite state of mind and soul that God has created for us therefore it is insane. How many of us have felt the desolate aloneness of the aftermath of sin? Depression, anxiety, loneliness, fear, doubt... Depression is the most self-absorbed state of mind that you can immagine. You are ONLY thinking about yourself. This is not what God had in mind for our mind.

One thing to quickly clarify. I am not speaking of people with medical conditions such as schizophrenia or Altzheimers. These are results of a physical and chemical imbalance out of the control of the individual's will to choose. But at the same time is not sickness and ailments still a result of the fall? (at the same time being very careful not to judge the mentally disabled simply stating that it is not what God intended and is a product and result of that choice in the Garden, OR stating that getting a cold means you are sinning).

Before Jeffrey dimmer was murdered in prison, he put his faith in Christ, was sorry for his sin, and repented and started going to Church. He actually started to go to church. This is hard for us to accept. We want to point our finger and call him an abnormal animal. He was living in a world that sin and right and wrong had no meaning to him which is REALLY what made him insane. King David was experienced total insanity when he plotted to have Bathsheba's Hubby murdered. It is not Charles Manson's incredibly creative mind that is abnormal it is his divulging into sin, self and the occult that has flung him into a world of insanity.

Our Father who made us from nothing made us fearfully and wonderfully. He made us to be see Him and to be united with Him. Therein lies our Joy, our sanity.

God wants us to see him just as His angels and the Saints in Heaven see him as Jesus said "they behold the face of my heavenly Father continually" (Mt 18:10). He wants us to gaze forever upon His unveiled face, our wills united to His in love so utterly that sin is not possible to us. And in that life, we are fully ourselves with all our wonderful "abnormalities" and every power in fullest operation, utterly fulfilled. THAT is freedom my friends.

So be as abnormal as God has made you to be, but walk in the Light as He is in the light. A beautiful abbeynormality awaits....

Friday, June 09, 2006

Teresa Recap

Hey I just figured this out. So back one more time by popular demand, (actually I just want to see if I get this right) Teresa.

I hope to put our "Hey Lucy" Video up soon if this works as well as "The Chronicles of the Wards" weekly series as well. Maybe I'll call it "The Wards and the Restless"

Any suggestions for the name of a miniseries?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Indecent Proposal and Answer

This story unfolds on a quiet night around Halloween in Springfield, Missouri.

My dad and I had just finished chopping and stacking some wood for the up-coming cold front. We came inside, sat down and flipped on the tube just in time for a Thursday night movie. That movie at that particular time happened to be "Indecent Proposal" starring Demi Moore and Woody Harleson. Now, I don't know if you have heard of this movie but the scenario goes a bit like this.

Demi and Woodie are a happy in-love couple. They take all their money to Vegas in hopes of getting their dream home for a million bucks. They almost make it all gambling, they get cocky and then big surprise, they loose it all. The next night Demi is trying on a dress at a Hotel shop and Robert Redford enters the story, a rich Billionaire visiting Vegas. He gets the hots for Demi and later invites her and Woody up for some poker and drinks in his big nice suite. After a while he hears about their plight and offers them 1 million bucks to sleep with Demi.

You can watch the rest of the movie to find out what happens.

At this point I don't know if my dad is interested in this movie or not. He has been disturbingly still and quiet the whole time, and for my dad, this is amazing. He can barely sit through the BEST of movies.

Together we watch as Robert Redford pops the million dollar question to Woodie, and then the movie goes to commercial. After a commercial or two still sitting in silence, totally curious I turn to my dad and ask,

"Dad, so what would YOU do if someone asked you if he could sleep with mom for a million dollars"

My dad waits a few seconds to respond. This builds the suspense for me. Now I KNOW he's been watching. He nods his head slowly as if he has already contemplated this and has come to the conclusion long ago. He turns to me, looking a little pissed yet calm, and says with his thick Oklahoma preacher accent:

"Well, I'd say, 'Hey, she's a grown woman and she can make up her own mind... But while she's thinkin' it over... I'm gonna STOMP YOUR ASS."

The movie came back on and that was the end of that conversation.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Menu

Got bored at Church today and was pondering our tendencies as Protestant to find a Church tailor-made to meet our needs rather than Join a Church because we want to serve because there is a need. A few days ago I was asked what Denomination that I am and could not, with a clear conscience, say that I am Southern Baptist. Nothing against Southern Baptists, I've been one my whole life, it's just that in the past 10 years or so... well thats another blog. So while trying to imagine the Denomination that suited me best, my mood, my allergies for extreme Fundies I felt like I was at a restaurant.

This might work better in that hands of a Forky or a Cachinator but here goes anyway.


Waiter: So what’ll you have tonight?

Diner: Well, my stomach’s a little funny tonight from some bad experience with some raw fundie Baptist chicken so what do you have on the lighter side?

Waiter: well, we’ve got some Presbyterian catfish that is light and liberal. Not to jarring, fluffy but with a spice that will tingle your palate as if it has depth, oh and it’s made with REAL wine (wink) not that grape juice that they cook the Baptist chicken in.

Diner: Well, I’m not too sure about that, I mean, yeah my tummy hurts but, I am not really liberal and I am kind of allergic to fish, but I do like me some wine. (winking and Ribbing the waiter)

Both: (subdued laughter and then they both clear their throats and regain composure)

Waiter: (dignified) I tell you what, we can keep the Wine from the Presbyterian catfish and maybe throw on some Methodist tofu. It tastes just like the Baptist chicken but it is not made of Chicken its tofu. So you get the feel of a Baptist chicken but without the fundamental dogmatic meat that goes with it.

Diner: awwwe I’m not so sure, maybe….hey this nondenominational Philly sandwich sounds pretty yummy. Some fundamental flavor but I can still get a little crazy and go dancing after.

Waiter: well, I have to be honest, it sounds good on the menu but you really never know what your going to get out of one of those non-denom Phillies. When in reality, isn’t non-denominational really a denomination. I mean, come on it kind of defeats the purpose to call yourself non-denominational if you don’t want to call yourself a denomination… so like what if I said, my name is “I don’t have a name” every one would call me “I don’t have…

Diner: Okay, okay, …. I get it. Well I guess we will just keep looking here. Do you have anything that’s not so War oriented? I mean, too much of that stuff is hell on my acid reflex.

Waiter: I have just the thing; we are having a special on Anabaptist and Quaker Casserole. It is divine.

Diner: well I tell you what we are going to do. I think I’ll have the Presbyterian catfish with the Baptist seasoning, then on my side salad I will have the Methodist tofu but I want it fried like the Nondenominational Philly is fried. And substituting for my Church of Christ raw veggies, I’ll have the Anabaptist Quaker Casserole, but can I still get the wine?

Waiter: (whispers) “sure” Just don’t tell my Boss.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Okay, so I decided to do a post today on my favorite movies. I'll post favorite songs (by genre) and books in the near future.


When picking my favorite movies I ran into a few snags. This is a difficult task for someone who would spend all of his days watching movies if he could. These are not necessarily the Movies that I think are the greatest works of cinematic art but these are the films that I watch the most, therefore they are by default, my favorites. Just like we have those favorite pair of shoes or jeans or underwear. So with that in mind, I have decided to list the movies that, if I had the opportunity, I would watch back to back ... today.

(Drum Roll)

10. Star Wars Episode III I just thik this film is a load of fun. It has a couple of cheezy scenes including the Darth Vader-Frankenstein moment. Also EVERY SINGLE moment of Anakin and Padme's dialogue shows us just how out of touch Lucas is with romantic dialogue of any kind. Even with those moments the movie delivers and I was enthralled.

9. The Matrix I. Enough Said.

8. Shawshank Redemption Another "Enough Said" film.

7. Spiderman I-II Still the best superhero movies made to date.

6. Godfather I. Now I know that Godfather II is great as well, I just can't watch it like I can part 1.

5. Harry Potter 1-4 (i know I cheated) I LOVE the books so of course I am going to dig these movies. The last two have been the best. The film score to Prizoner of Azkaban is a marvel.

4. Kill Bill I-II (now this is supposed to be one whole movie anyway) My sister will hate that I include these but hey, Tarentino is a genius and I'm a guy, so...

3. Empire Strikes Back By far the greatest Star Wars film of the entire franchise.

2. Lord of the Rings I-III The only thing that kept these films from being number one on my list was that I still love the books more than the films.

And the winner for my number one most favoritest movie that I have ever watched the mostestess.

1. Indiana Jones and the RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK!!! I have still seen no film as many times as I have seen Raiders. It is the ultimate summer movie. The summer movies that defined modern day summer movies. I can't wait for the next one. I hope they make it while Harrison Ford can still pee by himself.

Like I said, this is not a detailed list of what I consider the greatest cinematic masterpieces, (although some did make my list) and it gave me great angst to leave out movies such as: Gone with the Wind, Schindler's List, Pale Rider, Good Will Hunting, Shadowlands, Braveheart, E.T., High Noon, TRUE GRIT!!! (which has the manliest scene in the history of film), Rear Window, The Quiet Man (John Wayne's greatest film BTW), Street Car named desire (STELLAAA!!!!), Close Encounters of the Third Kind ("I have your young boy," -sang to the alien 5-note melody), Raising Arizona (holy crimy I need to see that again), The Shining, Dr. Strangelove... all my beloved Kubrick films (my favorite director) the list goes on.

However, one must be true to the guidelines that one sets.

Agree? Disagree? What is your list? What am I seriously missing out on?