Friday, December 30, 2011
My 10 favorite albums of 2011….
10- (Tie) Fleet Foxes- Helplessness Blues
Explosions in the Sky- take Care, take care, take care
9- Beastie Boys- Hot Sauce Committee II
8-KanyewWest & Jay-Z- Watch the Throne
7- Foster the People- Torches
6- Foo Fighters- Wasting Light
5-Dawes- Nothing is Wrong
4- The Black Keys- El Camino
3-Radiohead- King of Limbs
1-Eddie Vedder- Ukelele Songs
Friday, September 30, 2011
I once read in the news that a Bollywood filmmaker has issued a wild challenge to horror movie fans: a $10,000 reward for anyone who can watch his latest supernatural thriller, alone, in a cinema until the closing credits. The director said the film fan who stepped up to the challenge will be wired up to a heart monitoring machine as well as a camera that ensures they keep their eyes open during the whole movie. Readings from the machines will be shown live on a screen outside the cinema, he said, and if the contestant succeeds, staying under a certain heart rate, they will win 500,000 rupees (approximately $10,850)! His claim…. "there is no way one can experience this, and NOT be affected".
I want to see that movie! Have you ever experienced something like a movie or concert and thought "anyone that saw that HAS to be changed. The 1st time I saw Pearl jam I felt that way! I often approach a big show with this expectation.
But strangely enough, rarely do I approach the inspired word of god like this. Far too often we are scared to share the good news with the world around us. We have come up with a stable of possible excuses to use. We are afraid of being rejected. But the truth of the matter is this: the world WANTS the truth! As I grow older, and more comfortable with sharing my faith and sharing God's word with folks, I am learning how wrong my youthful excuses were. I can say this assuredly; very VERY rarely does anyone reject you when you give them God's word. They want life and they want hope. Believe me, I have found this to be so true!
Stronger than any slasher flick or rockin' gig, God's word changes people. It is so powerful, because the letters you read are more than words! They are alive, and full of power! We are told in Hebrews 4:12 that "the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." When you truly experience this power, we have no choice but to react! The Word of God is powerful to resist temptation, to forgive, to lead, to comfort, to confront, to exhort, and to fill your life with every blessing. The Word answers life's important problems. The Word is alive!
Never fall into the trap that God's word cannot change things. Never be confused that is a a nice book of fairy tales. God's word moves this world! It shakes mountains! And I dare you to truly experience it and not react. Just like the movie director above, I challenge you to sit with it and NOT react. But this reward works differently. Your prize comes not for sitting still. Your prize comes WHEN you react. Your blessings come after you cannot sit still anymore! So get into God's word! Let it change you….and see who the winner is……….
Friday, September 23, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
I ‘m always learning. God is constantly teaching me. Many times, it’s from the mouth of my children. More often than not, it comes from my 6 yr old daughter Merrick. Have you noticed the web worm epidemic in the Valley? They are everywhere. These caterpillars nest in trees and then spin fine webs that take over a branch, and if left unattended, an entire tree. If left alone, they will eventually kill a tree! You can drive anywhere in the valley currently and you’ll see them everywhere! Yesterday in the car Merrick said these words: “Those webs are kinda’ tricky Daddy. Because when you look at them, they are actually quite beautiful, but REALLY, they are slowly killing everything”. I smiled, acknowledged her, and then bowed my head in the spiritual truth spoken from her tiny lips.
Isn’t that how the lies of sin work? Think about it. Sin, at it’s simplest form looks SO beautiful to us. If it didn’t, we would never struggle with it! On the surface, it looks SO lovely. It is shiny, and glamourous, and we can easily be fooled into thinking it is in fact “BEAUTIFUL”. But, if left unattended, it quickly takes over our entire lives, and before we even realize it, that which was once so beautiful has now killed us!
Satan is the father of lies. He is dying to deceive each and every one of us. But I have good news. God is TRUTH. And He wants to redeem us. The enemy came to kill, steal and destroy, but our God came to give us life abundant!!!
As I’ve researched how to deal with my worm problem, I’ve discovered that most of the time, if a tree is taken care of and ridded of these pests, it will recover. You and I are no different. We can recover too. We can turn around. We can get rid of our “infestations”, and God assures us that we can recover. But, we have to spot the problem first, and we have to get rid of it.
That is our prayer. May we all see the truth behind the lies like my daughter. May we all have the courage to get rid of it, and find the only true beauty in this world, which never deceives…the salvation of Jesus Christ.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
It was pretty simple for the most part. The catch was that it was for a small charter school organization of home schooled kids. It was run by a conservative group of individuals. The administrator and teachers had decided these kids deserved a prom…you know it being an American right of passage and all ☺. So……….it was a little trickier than expected. I had visions of Footloose…….visions where I’d be pumping the jams, then mid Flo Rida, in would burst John Lithgow in a sweaty fervor condemning me to hell…………..
But. I pressed on, determined to give these kids the night of their life. Yet, I was also a little intimidated by the unfair stereotypical picture of the event I had painted in my head. Pressing on, I drove to the town, found the little community center and entered into the great abyss (wishing that Kevin Bacon could have been with me) not knowing what would come next. It looked very nice inside. There was a lovely wood dance floor, several candlelit tables, a gorgeous old chandelier and white Christmas lights strewn about…it looked like a nice little prom! I met the lady in charge, and began setting up.
The night started slowly. As we waited for the kids to flow in, I played a setlist that I had put together with the clever title: “pre-prom and dinner”. It consisted of classics by Tony Bennett, Frankie Blue Eyes, Swell Season, etc…..mellow and nice. The adults CLEARLY liked this! A few kids came in….some as couples and one or two as singles (turns out, most of them were waiting on dates…a little different than most proms). And we waited, and waited……..the tunes still played “Moon River”, “Such Great Heights”, “Love Me Tender”……….and still we waited. Soon it became painfully clear that this was ALL that was coming. So the small (I mean SMALL) crowd convened for dinner (they did give me a really nice prime rib dinner). The mellow tunes continued and all were happy.
Finally as I sensed they were done with dinner and ready for something else, but not quite sure how to “get the party started” I made my way to the DJ Table and set it off! I wish I could describe the adults faces as the tunes subtly changed from Michael Buble to “Apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur……” ☺
But, the kids got out there on the floor! The tiny group gathered and tried as best as they could to get their young rhythmically challenged ,caucasian bodies to move with the computerized, autotuned dribble that they requested. It was very sweet, and a little sad. But man..they went for it! I was impressed. They were determined to make the most of this! Even if their intellect and arms couldn’t sync quite perfectly to spell YMCA with their appendages, they were surely trying………….and they were smiling the whole time.
The adults sat nearby watching, clearly confused as to how “the DJ had them fallin’ in love again” and just exactly what a “G6” is. At one point the head administrator came over to make small talk…….but it was clear he was checking out the playlist (which his own teacher had sent me as given to her by a student) for questionable content. But the party kept going for the kids who clearly understood the deep mysteries of Ke$ha and Gaga. After five or so truly life changing jams, it was time for the inevitable slow dance. The first offering of the night brought to light a problem: there was one lonely girl without a date. She was just so cute. As the couples awkwardly scooted around (and actually a few waltzed quite nicely thanks to the songs ¾ timing) the floor, I was captivated with this young lady. In all truth it broke my heart. She swayed uncomfortably, with a forced smile on the sidelines. It was clear that she so badly wanted to be swept off her feet. I thought hard about asking her to dance myself…but decided against it (for fear of a possible mace attack accompanied by screams of “stranger danger”). Yet I watched her and could almost hear the struggle inside of her. It was gut wrenching and I was faced with a tough decision. Should I keep the next song lined up, which was also a slow dance, or should I show mercy to this beautiful loner? I wrestled with this and like the dad in the old tale of the train conductor with a son stuck on the tracks, I chose in favor of the masses..despite every urge to do otherwise.
So as the Paramore ditty started I saw something incredible happen. A young man (who was clearly the cool alpha male of the party) noticed the young lady. He proceeded to whisper something in his girls ear, who then stood back, smiled and kissed his cheek, and walked off. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I had the best seat in the house and was seeing this through! What he did next gave me chills. He walked over to the girl by herself and held out his hand. She looked, and then hesitated. He smiled and said "let’s dance”. A smile the size of the Rogue River spread from check to cheek and she giddily grabbed his hand. The young man’s girlfriend took a seat as her man danced around the floor with this girl.
WOW! Who says chivalry is dead!?!?!? In all truth, my eyes welled with tears. I was sure this would not take place at any “normal” prom. It was such a visible display of kindess and grace. I just wanted to hug that fella’. The rest of the night, she was included in most every song. She still stayed awkwardly in the margins at times, but she no longer looked so alone. It was amazing.
As the night wore on I was able to see and learn a lot. I was reminded of how hard it was to be that age. You could tell they wanted to act mature, yet at the same time wanted to jump around and be silly like kids. There was clear confusion as to what was their exact role, and you could almost smell the fear of the uncertain future. There were very awkward caresses and even tiny kisses. The horrible and awkward sexual tension that is so present at this age choked the air. I remembered how hard that was. I recalled how scary that was. I watched as they literally teetered on the cliff between youth and adulthood. And as two teens gazed into each others eyes and swore life long devotion as they sang the words of Bruno Mars to one another………I felt for them. I wanted to tell each one that they were going to be okay. That yes…life is hard and right now is confusing…but they were going to be ok!
I think many times we belittle teens, not even meaning to. We treat them with attitudes that imply “stop whining. You have it MADE right now. You have NO CLUE what real stress is like. Wait until you have diapers to change and mortgages to balance with buying new soccer cleats and THEN talk to me about difficult life decisions…”. We act as if they have it SO EASY. I was reminded that these kids have anything BUT the simple life. They have issues MUCH bigger than we credit them with. Cures for “bacne” and the newest Call of Duty games are not their only concerns. These young people face real issues and really tough decisions. I hope that we honor them, validate that and support them as they grow into the adults God created them to be.
It was a fun night. It really touched me. I pray that each of these kids has a blessed life. May they never lose the spirit to try and dance even when you cant! May they always continue to try and include those who have no one, and may they always continue to smile. I pray that heir lives are…in the immortal words of the great poet of their generation, Taio Cruz……….dynamite!!!!!!!
Rock on young people………….the world is your oyster.
Monday, May 2, 2011
So she got dolled up and even got to wear lipstick (which was a BIG deal) and we took off. I cannot explain the joy I felt watching her. She was floating on air. She was beaming from ear to ear. She couldn't have been more excited. As we got into the car I asked her "Will you join me for a night of dining and dancing?" She smiled huge and then added, in a funny accented voice..... "And hopefully a little bit of drinkin'....." I laughed out loud, a little confused. She then followed with "yeah.....I am REALLY hoping that they have punch!" Can you GET any cuter than that?
As we entered our simple church's fellowship hall I was blown away at how it looked. It was covered with pink lace and ribbon and Christmas lights. Tables for 4 were scattered about elegantly covered with candles and flowers. The floor (and the girls liked this best) was blanketed in pink and purple balloons. We were ushered to the photo area for our photgraph. (we even got that in a keepsake frame at the end of it all)
The night was perfect. We shared a nice meal, listened to a brief presentation on the blessing of a Father/Daughter relationship, and then the dancing began. Man it was FUN! Merrick is the energizer bunny! We danced and laughed and danced and laughed. We scooted around to oldies, Cyndi Lauper and other crowd faves. We threw in some Hokey-Pokey and Chicken Dance action for fun! In between the dances were prize give-aways and silly games that the girls loved.
The night ended with a slow dance. Of course they went straight for the jugular with the song of choice being Steven Curtis' Chapman's "Cinderella". If you have never heard it and have a daughter...be warned!!!! :) It was so special. I picked up my angel and held her as tight as I could. Tears were streaming down almost every face in the place...in fact they are streaming down mine again just thinking about it. I hugged my baby and kissed her and promised her that I would always love her. It was a beautiful moment.
I am so thankful to Marcie Dixon for putting this together. It was done wonderfully. I will never forget it and look forward to next year already.
I am so thankful for my Merr Bear. She is a special soul who I love with all my heart.
Friday, April 29, 2011
American X- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
In Your Hands- bebo Norman
Don't Tread on me- Metallica
Strange Times- The Black keys
Bold As Love- John Mayer
How Much for Your Wings?- the Black Crowes
I Want to Know You- Dinosaur Jr.
Fever- Neko Case
Say Goodbye- Dave Matthews band
Candy- Magic Kids
Baby Boomer- Monsters of Folk
What Difference Does it Make?- The Smiths
Two Hearts- Ryan Adams
Now That We Found Love- Heavy D and the Boys
It Goes on & on- The Avett Brothers
Silent Lucidity- Queensryche
Royal Oil- The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Fingers of Love- Crowded House
Now that is a varied blend :)
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The answer is clear. INFLUENCE. Influence is everything. Positive influences can lead you one way, and negative the other. Sure there is free will involved, but influences are much stronger than we often give them credit for. The older we get the clearer this becomes. And once we have children, we start to understand. Suddenly I understand why my mom cared so much about the kids I hung around ☺! Those hoodlums really could affect my life choices ☺
Most kids in my world are blessed to have so much positive influence on their lives, from their youth group, to their families. They are surrounded by a group that loves them. But there could never be too much! I hope we all recognize this. At my church we do, and we are slowly moving to a more INTERGENERATIONAL MINISTRY approach. This method asks families and adults to walk right next to our teens. We want to be together and not segregated. We want the generations to know one another despite the massive gap that culture tells us is there.
I am convinced that relationship with adults who have truly been changed by Jesus are the key to showing young people what the Christian life is all about! We can have the biggest and fanciest programs in the world, but they will not matter without these relationships! I am asking all of you to join our youth ministry. Come to class with us. Sit with some teens in worship. Let's get to know each other and let’s show this world what power positive relationships really have. Together we can do anything!
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The Lord is the reason we are living
The cross is the most painful memory
Let’s get it going, the stars all RISE
The dead from the grave all RISE
We all RISE …to worship Him
Our savior, our rock, our protector
So let’s RISE……
He is our life. He is our blood and refuge. EVERYONE EVERYONE EVERYONE
So……I am going to jump on board here and say this is AWESOME ☺
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
It seems that one dark cloud after another keeps coming our way. It’s been rough, but we have pressed on and we know that there is a light at the end of this all. Still…it has been trying, to say the least. In each situation, the tragedies seem almost specifically targeted. It is really quite eerie. Let me explain.
Mel is in his sixties. He is in great shape. He is active and regularly exercises. He is a prolific walker, usually at the mall. He is not a prideful man at all, but if he was, he’d be proud of this, I think. He is known for walking the church building, watching over the flock and hugging and greeting all who “get in his way”. So this is what was attacked. He cannot walk. It HAS to be killing him. It means something to him. It defines him in the eyes of many folks at the church. It has felt empty without him “walking his perimeter”. His absence has been felt. It has affected morale at church, without a doubt. There is a hole.
Branson’s accident hit the hardest. To have someone SO YOUNG and SO FULL OF LIFE pass away really took the breath out of everyone. It hit the body here like a freight train, and took a little pep out of some usual VERY peppy steps!
Then the most recent event was Truman and his stroke. The stroke seems to have only attacked his speech and cognition center of the brain. He has NO paralysis, and looks great. To many this could be a pretty good diagnosis and prognosis. But to Truman it could be the worst news possible. This is a man who has built his entire life on WORDS. He is a preacher, teacher and writer. For these to be taken away are a CRUEL possibility. And we are already feeling the loss at church. He is the communicator for our shepherds. He is a calming and rational presence. And he is ALWAYS in the lobby, greeting everyone with a warm handshake and a hello. It is already missed, and we pray it could return.
It would be easy for us to look at all of this and throw our hands up in exasperation. It would be easy to want to cry out and give up. It is a harsh reminder of what can so quickly and easily be taken away from us. But in each of these cases there is something bigger going on. Mel is known for his tender heart and his YEARS of service to God’s kingdom. From his work overseas, to the classrooms, to years of teaching and evangelizing. This is WHO HE IS. You could take away his ability to walk, or anything else, but you could NEVER take away his legacy. That will live on forever. Same with Branson. His free living spirit, his daring attitude to take life had on….Nothing will destroy that legacy. And Truman’s body of work will be around long after any of us are! His many books, lessons, sermons and countless lives he has touched compile a legacy that can NEVER be damaged.
The reality is this: Our LEGACY is on thing that can never be taken from us. What we do today will STILL matter tomorrow. The lives you touch, and the love you leave behind will live on a long time after we pass away. This is a very SOBERING yet HOPEFUL thought to me. And I hope it causes us all to stop and pause and ask some questions. What kind of legacy am I leaving? For what will I be remembered? What will be said f me long after I am gone?
I urge all of us to live a life that we can be proud of. Lead lives that even if tragedy takes everything from us, our legacies will continue to work for the kingdom long after we do. Live a life worthy of the calling…..
Monday, April 4, 2011
This year was colder than normal. It got downright chilly in the evenings. The bonfire was especially popular. Our teens were so cool this year, and as usual took my kids in and made them feel uber special. Jude even pulled off a few upsets in the massive games of Knockout on the rusty ol’ hoop. That was pretty cool!
It was a great week. I really enjoyed watching Merrick experience it for the first time. She did great; Jude really took to the little 3 yr old boy “Charlie we were building for. They loved each other and that was fun to watch too.
The trip home had the annual trek to Magic Mountain theme park near LA. It was awesome. It was Merrick’s first trip and she quickly earned rock star status. She was FEARLESS. NOTHING scared her and she rode everything she was tall enough to get on. I took her on drops, loops, corkscrews and twirls, and she laughed them all off….it was awesome.
Yet, as good as the week was, there is no place like home. IO was thrilled to return to my lovely wife and youngest daughter I am still trying to catch up on rest. I already eagerly anticipate next year.
(surprise blizzard on drive there!)