Keeping it real...

Its been quite a while since I last posted some thoughts - maybe "a while" is in understatement. The reason? Well there are a few factors that have entered into my lack of blogging: Busyness at work and home have been at an all time high and more importantly there haven't been too many topics and thoughts that I have felt pressed to comment on and share my thoughts.

That changed yesterday as I was doing my random Twitter check.

Twitter is great because you get short bursts of peoples thoughts. opinions, locations, and goings ons. Its also a great place to practice the art of discernment. I often talk with my friends and co-workers about the power of positive tweeting and sarcastic tweeting. I will have to admit, I don't always tow the line on using twitter to encourage (UK fans are well aware of this-#freeenes-see pic above) but I am attempting to keep my sarcasm and negative thoughts off the computer screen as much as possible.

Another way that I see this social media craze taking a left turn is when people will post updates and it is obvious that they are trying to side step accountability by "letting it all out there".

I follow several random artists/celebrities and there is one particular guy that we'll say is more of a "progressive" christian - I'm pretty sure he would be flattered  with that label. He likes to post things and then invite anyone who is conservative in their politics to "unfollow" him. He's often known to update how many followers he has lost in a day - a badge of honor, I guess. He is criticized for his "falling away from true Christianity" and praised for his "realness'.

I'm rambling - here's his tweet:

     "regarding the content of my twitter feed, expect me to write about the whole of life, not just my spirituality. otherwise, best to unfollow"
Most of the replies to this talked about how great it is that He is so "real" or how he needs to come back to his roots as a Christian. I replied that I wasn't sure you could separate spirituality from your "whole" life but i digress....

Here's the deal: Realness does not equal controversial. I certainly don't agree with everyone on Twitter or even the friends I interact with in person daily. I don't have that expectation of my relationships. What I wish I could expect from everyone is that they be "real" in their convictions and struggles and not use them to boast or as a badge of honor.

Victories in life, struggles with Sin, political views, social convictions and any thing else under the sun should be shared to encourage and grow with one another. Not shock, intentionally offend, or marginalize others.

Flaunting our choices knowing it will offend others, I believe, often shows our uneasiness with our behavior. We want to put on a front of confidence and a "don't judge me" because I am being "real" attitude when in fact we are dodging what the bible outlines as accountability. Yes - it's best to be "real" with one another but it's so we can encourage and uplift one another.

I love this passage in James 5 out of the Message Translation:

13 Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing.14 Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master.15 Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.16 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

In Verse 16 we are urged to confess and then pray so we can be whole and healed - or as I like to think "Real". Wouldn't it be great if we all could do this every day with everyone...


Summer Namm...Silly and Sick Gear

Had a chance to attend summer NAMM last month. Below are some pics of the goofy gear and my list of top gear.

    I of course was most interested in finding some new Bass maker but was unsuccessful. I did however see some funky Bootsy Collins Signature basses, a 12 string bass, and THE BASS player Victor Wooten:

There were all sorts of custom Pedal and Guitar Makers but none really were standouts compared to what I am already familiar with. We did however find the most annoying sounding and looking guitar every built:

Warrior Guitars were there and they are exploring a new DeathMetalWorship line of guitars. This one is called "Crown of Thorns":

Enough of the odd and silly stuff. Here is the gear I found most interesting:

1. Mono Cases "Fly By" : Mono has always made great guitar, bass, and DJ cases but this new backpack is designed for the mobile studio. It has a detachable section for your laptop (great for flights) and plenty of room for all those cables and interfaces you need to cart with you.

2. Burriss Amps "Dirty Red"  : This Lexington based company has built a really sweet little head. It really sang at low volumes and had a really smooth breakup as it was cranked up. Not sure about the lunch pail design of the case but you can get past that as soon as you hear it.

3. Sensaphonics Ears "3D Active Ambient System" : I have been a faithful user of a certain IEM company for almost a decade but these Ears are making me think about switching. The folks at Sensaphonics have added ambient mics into their Ears and allow you to dial in (in 4db intervals) how much stage volume you want. They also have a switch for full ambience at a moments notice. Incredible advancement in the realm of personal monitoring.

4. Eden Electronics EGRW264 "gig rig" : This little package is AMAZING. The wtx-264 bass head weighs less than 5 pounds and can be dropped into any decent sized gig bag. Add to that the full range punch and drive of the ex110 bass cabinet and you can drop into any small-medium sized gig at the last minute, set-up and hold down the low end without issue. This rig is perfect for those of us using ears and wanting some stage presence with that classic punchy/full Eden sound.

5. Telefunkens ELA m 260 microphone : One of the great things about these shows is all the Mic companies setup their product in a way that you can quickly compare. There were all sorts of great mics but this mic caught my attention the most. Its tight pattern (it barely picked up the show floor noise), warmth, and clarity were second to none. I am anxious to hear this in a studio application but I have no doubt it would carve out its own niche on the spectrum of sounds.

There of course was all sorts of other cool stuff but these were the 5 that made me stop back by the booth at least twice!


Having an Impossible Week...Do Something Illogical!

I shared the following with our staff on Monday and have had several great conversations in the days that followed. I thought maybe there might be something in here that could speak to the readers of this blog.

In your next prayer time maybe you could go through the following areas - it will take 15 to 20 minutes of your day. When you are finished i would love to hear if God has revealed anything specific to you about your life!

Read Luke 5:4-7

We need to dive into the Impossible/Illogical things God is Calling us to 
       - Are there Projects/Relationships I find impossible?
        - What in my life seems so far out in left field? Am I able to trust God in those illiogical times?
         - Pray that God would place you in an impossible/illogical situation where only He can take credit

Read Exodus 17:1-13

  We need to be available and supportive to those we follow (Exodus 17:9-13)
         - Am I a good follower? Even when my leader seems Illogical or the situation seems Impossible?
         - What ways can I support those that lead me? God show me the small ways to encourage
         - Ask God to put you in a position to Trust and Follow – Ask for wisdom in how to be supportive

Read Phillipians 3:14-17

Mature in life so when confronted with Impossible/Illogical situations you imitate Christ and in turn are imitated. (Philippians 3:14-17)
         - Are there areas I am not imitatable?
         - Ask God to place on your heart an awareness of who is watching you
         - Pray that God would provide situations and opportunities for you to grow in your maturity and provide  an example to those around you


The Environments Marketing Problem

I am a Twitter guy. I quickly became frustrated with Facebook, from the constant layout changes to the daily updates on pregnancies and children and all the people in the mafia that own farms. Twitter was there in my time of social networking need and I couldn't be happier to have it update my FB status for me so i don't have to endure all the "noise" on there (i can't really shut down my account - all my "friends" would be offended).

Of the many reasons I love Twitter (and there is an ever growing list) one of them is the fact that i can follow a few "fringe" people in our culture and get some insight on popular culture and viewpoints in 140 characters or less. I got a great quote in my feed the other day that really made me think about 2 areas in life that I tend to find myself in conversation about: Recycling and Religion. 
"Ruining the environment all week then absolving ourselves by recycling on Monday is as close to religion as some of us get."
Soak that in for a second. It doesn't take long to see the connection does it?

Of course most reading this go to thoughts of being a Christian on Sunday and then back to our routine throughout the week. I admittedly did the same at first but then I began to think about why I cannot stand to recycle and why I am always quick to discredit environmentalists an there causes.

I made a list:

1. I am not interested in causes that are popular because of trendiness - even if they are intrinsically good. I tend to fight against that.
2. I am not a fan of the color green.
3. Everytime i go to throw a piece of plastic in the recycling container my wife tells me that it can't go in there because of some random property it contains (ex. frozen cardboard, bottlecaps).
4. The "inconvenient truth" that the environmentalists use natural resources poorly, even in advertising and promoting their cause. Anyone watch "Live Earth"?

Really the list could go on.

Do I think recycling is bad? Of course not! Does the marketing and process by which its accomplished prevent me from buying in. Unfortunately yes. If I observed real people really applying their beliefs with a process in place for me to buy in and be engaged without all the hoops to jump through I'd be inclined to not only buy in but promote the cause.

Now on to The Church...Do i really need to spell it out?

We've got work to do.


One of those moments

I had what i call "one of those moments" this weekend.

It's always special when a series or sermon topic parallels something in my life. We are in this sermon series "Miracle Grow" and this weekends topic dealt with providential relationships. God has blessed me with so many different people that have influenced my life and I hope and pray that I have had a positive influence on others experiences. As I worshipped this weekend it was so powerful and moving to think about the people sharing the stage with me that have each influenced my life on different levels.

I thought of Deuce who recently went through a terribly heartbreaking time with his wife. His infectious smile, energy and passion for leading our church in worship are all an example of faith that I want to have in my life. Then there is Barry who is such an encouragement to his wife and children, I hope and pray that my children know how much I believe in them and that I am as solid a family man as him.

I've watched Stephen and Emily put so much sweat and heart into preparing for a weekend that I have been challenged to re-evaluate my efforts in preparing to lead worship. Charlie and Tracy have brought a deeper level of spiritual depth to the team and model a fully devoted life that is infectious!

One of my favorite faces around church is James. I think that he has been one of the most pivotal people in our worship experience. When James showed up in the "old sanctuary" with his electric guitar and crazy guitar synth he was on the front end of our transition into a modern, guitar driven worship style.

Not only was he in the right place at the right time but he has embraced 100% the vision both musically and spiritually. We have had spirited debate and great talks about family, faith and music over the years and I consider him one of my "brother in arms" in this worship journey.

And finally there is Kevin. Now Kevin is not someone that our church sees very often - in fact he has a community of believers that he belongs to and is fully committed to but, every once in a while I convince him to bring his amazing God-given voice over to the south side of town. Kevin and I were in a band together for almost 7 years and being around each other and collaborating musically have helped to bring perspective to our lives and music. He has such a heart for people and for his wife and kids. I heard one of the team members say to him this weekend "i'd pay money to hear you sing" (to be honest there are few people that I think are that good and Kevin is one of them). He hasn't ever wanted that though. He would prefer to write songs and collaborate with friends all the while developing his walk with God.

Standing on stage behind Kevin and alongside the team during the song "Let It Be Me" I had that moment where i realized how impacted I have been by those around me and how cool it is that God allows us to influence each other and collaborate in this song we we call life.

If I wanted I could write this post every weekend - seriously! I am so blessed to have a diverse, Christ centered team of people i serve with. I was reminded this weekend to watch and learn from each one of them. So if you serve in the team just know I'm watching you!