Monday, July 2, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
I was listening to a Mosaic podcast on the way home from the beach on Saturday. Erwin confessed how, from time to time, he gets bored with the scriptures. Funny thing is, this unspoken boredom is common among believers of all ages, however, it's quite the faux paux to make public mention. After all, it's God's word, and God's not supposed to be boring. Only church is supposed to be boring. He's quick to mention, however, that he doesn't find God boring, he just doesn't always tune in to the right frequency when he's reading the scriptures.
I do that sometimes too.
It reminds me of my first day of class in Old Testament when I was a sophomore in college. The professor told us that since this was a liberal arts college (albeit a Christian liberal arts college - go figure) that we would not study the OT as a spiritual text but, rather, as a work of literature. I wondered how this spiritual text, based in faith, was to make any sense when not studied from a spiritual context. Spiritual things, much of the time, make no physical sense. We were about to crack open this goldmine of text, but our leader was on the wrong frequency - we were doomed to miss the point of it all.
But if you're a follower of Jesus Christ, then the bible should be a powerful text, right? Yeah, I know, I know, because I do it too. It's tough sometimes. It's tough more than sometimes.
I want to challenge you to approach the scriptures offensively, not reactively - with an expectation of illumination and enlightenment. Not that you would merely learn about God and His Kingdom, but that you would have an experience WITH the King that rocks you to the core - forever changed.
And if you're not a follower of Jesus Christ, then the bible is the best place to investigate Jesus' claims. Check Him out.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
If you were to crack open a bible and open up to the book called 1st Thessalonians chapter 5 verses 16-18 you'd see where the Apostle Paul is encouraging the church at Thessolononica to hold fast in the future. To treat others as they knew to - with love. Here's the part I want to look at - Paul says to be joyful always, pray continually and to give thanks in all things. Yes, he says to give thanks in all things - crazy huh?
"So, Mike. I'm supposed to be happy and thankful when life totally dumps on me?" Well, no, not exactly. Note that he said "in" all things - not "for" all things. Do you get the difference? It means that I'm not necessarily happy about a bad thing occurring, but that I can find peace in stepping back to take in the whole of the picture. Much like pruning a tree - we cut it away so that it can flourish in due season. God pruned me a bit today.
Don't worry. Nothing life-threatening. Just life stuff. Those who know me well have already heard my story. I'd be glad to share the details with you guys but some things you just can't post for the world to see. Well, not yet anyway.
This "thing" that happened today - well it's really the capstone on a series of "things" and not really unexpected. Though sometimes even the expected is shocking when it finally occurs. Some people would consider my today a horrible day. Some would see it as a reason to be angry or bitter. But, you see, I stand (well, i'm sitting actually) here with information to which you do not have access. Why? Because it's just not for you - it's for me. It was not designed for you to know, but for me to know. Doing what you know you are called to do is a soft pillow at night, my friend.
As I step back to see the big picture - the pruning of the proverbial "Mike" tree - I have a huge grin. My time to flourish is just around the corner. Seems the Gardener has His eyes on me.
May you be pruned only to produce a record crop in due season.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
I'm uncomfortable telling you that, but it's the truth. I suspect that most of you feel the same way much of time.
It's actually somewhere between "some of the time" and "much of the time." Maybe that's more honest. But, either way, it is too much of the time. Do you ever feel bad about something and then feel bad about feeling bad? A terrible vicious cycle usually brought about by our own poor decisions - decisions we knew better than to make - and culminating in yet another poor decision to feel sorry for ourselves.
But is there something that you are a part of that is incredibly satisfying? Is there something that moves you? Something that you miss when you're not a part of it? Something that is on your mind often? Something that you hunger for? Something that you need to be a part of? Something that would significantly decrease the quality of your life if you were not a part of it?
beacon12 is my something. What's beacon12 (hereafter referred to as b12, vitamin b12, b12 nation, b12 and the new power generation, b12 is one better than b11, b12 biv devoe, b12-a-palooza, or b12 / b4 = b3)? It's the band I've been a part of for a few years now.
I'm not alone in this. I know three other guys, Jeff, Justin and Seth, that all feel the same way. They're the other 3/4th's of the group.
You see, when all the "stuff" is done - we get to minister to people. Sometimes it's through songs. Sometimes it's through the talks after the event. Sometimes it's on the phone with the event coordinator 2 weeks out. Sometimes it's before or after a show - spending ten minutes with a guest speaker and encouraging each other. Sometimes it's having a talk with your opening act backstage and finding out some great things you never knew. I suppose it all boils down to opportunities to love. These experiences that come about through b12's ministry - these are experiences that I cherish.
We've been asking God to increase these opportunities. And they have increased in a major way. We haven't lifted a finger to book an event in a year now, and we've made more cash than in the previous couple of years combined. This was perfect, because we've been in the studio working on our second album - a full length release - and it's not cheap. We've ministered to thousands since we began. We've seen hundreds come to hear and accept the Gospel. The blessings are innumerable.
God has designed you for ministry. Ministry comes in various shapes and sizes, but it's all founded in two very simple principles that Jesus mentioned one day: love God, love others.
May you be satisfied through living the life you are called to live.
P.S. if you'd like to see about having b12 come out to your place, send an email over on our myspace.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Friday, March 9, 2007
Those were the words that did him in for the day. He broke down into a mess of tears right there on the parking lot pavement and whaled and moaned an awful sound you wish to never hear from a human. I was sad.
...I was with a group of Belmont University students. We had just completed a presentation to Sony/Monument Records - a marketing plan for the launch of Wade Hayes' third album. It was a fascinating group project and one of many highlights of my college experience in Nashville. Many tireless weeks of research had paid off and we knocked this one out of the park.
Interesting side note: due to our research and focus groups to determine the release of the first single, the Director of Marketing called me weeks later to tell how our group had sparked debate among the marketing department. They decided to change the first single. They would not release Wade's version of "Wichita Lineman," but instead went with "The Day That She Left Tulsa (in a Chevy)" - our recommendation all along.
Back to the parking lot...
We were celebrating, screaming, hugging, high-fiving and the like as we walked out of Sony Records that day. The weight of the world lifted off our shoulders. Our professor, Dr. Rolston, was throwing out the compliments and joining in our little micro-celebration.***
He walked up quickly. Beat-up guitar case in hand and backpack across his shoulders. It was the kind of figure you see on every street corner in Nashville. "My name is Johnny," he said smiling. "Would you like to hear me play?" We smirked at each other. We knew the routine.
You see, it's an all too common story in a place like Nashville. Country boy has a little to no talent. Country boy's family and friends think he's the best thing since sliced bread. Country boy sells all his possessions to get a bus ticket to Nashville. Country boy concocts a plan where he will play guitar for labels up and down the "row" until someone signs him by dinner time. At which point the royalties begin to immediately flow and he buys a 50 acre spread on a hill down in Franklin.
We stared blankly. Johnny threw open his case, wrapped that old Martin around his neck and began to pick the out-of-tune strings. I don't recall the song, but I do recall that he sang it with every bit of emotion he could muster.
He rested his gangly arms on the guitar body and with a broad smile looked us all in the eyes and blurted out,"What do you think? Will you sign me?" Johnny thought we worked for Sony Records. We didn't. He thought we were a ticket to fame. We weren't And neither was his talent, rather, lack there-of.
Julie stepped up towards him, "Sorry man, it's just not very good."
It was around 5PM and you could tell from his hopeless look that it had been a long day of rejection piled on top of rejection. Julie knelt down to place her hand on Johnny's back, an attempt to offer some solace to this stranger. Her eyes welling up as she looked back at the group.
Julie began to tell him who we were and that we weren't label staff, but college seniors. As his tears dried he began to ask questions. What was bad? Was he good enough to get a record deal? Who would sign him? Our answers were truthful, yet grim I suppose. Not what a young man full of hopes and dreams from Calhoun, Georgia wants to hear as the sun is setting on a long day in Nashville.
"I'm broke." We managed to come up with a few dollars between us and handed it over to Julie - the self-appointed mediator of the group. Johnny ran his fingers through his hair and across his red eyes. "Thanks." We told him of a new social program in the city where they gave steeply discounted and even free bus passes to people in Johnny's situation. This situation was so common that the city would rather give you a bus pass home than have you become a vagrant.
We said our goodbyes as Johnny walked away defeated. But I have a feeling he didn't go home that day. I don't know. Something in his eyes. Maybe it was my wishful thinking. But I suppose a large part of me wanted to see him fight it out and win. It's not talent, after all, the gets you in the door. It's a personality. A song. A favor. It's many things, but so, so rarely raw talent.
***From here on the story is completely fictional. Why did I tell it? Before I sang with the Dapper Dans at Walt Disney World I interviewed for a position with Disney's Magic Music Days. It's where they bring in guest entertainment groups to perform in the parks and other areas. I was interviewing to be a coordinator for these groups. The group of 10 or so people interviewing me asked me to tell a story. Disney likes to verify that you can be assertive, make eye contact and generally sound half-educated when you speak to people - at least for these positions. I didn't know in advance that I would be asked to tell a story. "What kind of story?" "A story of a personal experience." The presentation at Sony Records came to mind instantly. However, I felt that adding some emotion would make for a better and more memorable overall story experience.
I got the job.
Saturday, March 3, 2007
"It sounds reasonable. It's not," he says.
Small markets aren't as sexy, but they're actually a better place to start."
It got me thinking about evangelism. By evangelism, I mean telling other people about the message of Jesus Christ. I've struggled lately with the methods and motives of evangelism; both the way I feel and the way I perceive others. Sometimes I think the Church (by capital "C" church I mean the worldwide body of followers of Jesus Christ) stands on the highest hilltop and screams out for others to hear the message, believe the message, and do as it says. Is that wrong? Well, it depends on what day of the week you ask me that question. However, in general, I'd say no. I think it's like the "China problem" Seth mentioned - "it might work."
But I think the small markets (aka friend, co-worker, etc.), these people you encounter during the daily traffic patterns of life, who see you in good and bad, with whom you have built trust and a genuine friendship - well aren't these the entryways, the small markets, that offer a better place to start?
I think that with many people we have to "earn" the right to tell the gospel. Not always, but many times. Otherwise it has cost us nothing in their eyes. And much of the time that first step may be merely to reach out as a genuine human caring for another. Not with the intention of befriending someone to later tell your gospel, but to love them because of your gospel.
May we love because it's what we are called to do.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I created these on THIS website a few weeks ago. So do you think I could make a million by slapping these on posters and selling them in the mall?
UPDATE: Thanks to Tina for recommending THIS site.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
For you kids of both the '80's and current re-runs, I hope this stirs up memories of a cozy little nook in Boston. Home to Sam, Woody, Diane, Rebekah, Cliff, Norm, Frazier, Carla and the rest of the gang at Cheers.
My point? People feel special when they're enthusiastically and sincerely greeted. A place "where everybody knows your name-and they're always glad ya came" (go ahead, sing along with me) is a place where we want to be. Well, I can think of exceptions, but go with me here.
ME: "What would you have done differently if I answered yes to your question?"
GIRL: "I would have said 'welcome.'"
GIRL: "I have to ask or I'll get in trouble."
Friday, February 23, 2007
"Produced by free range unicorns fed a healthy, high fibre diet. Simply press buy it now and your very own packet of enchanted turd will be stuffed through your letterbox before you can say horse laxative!" Buy it Now: 3 quid See it HERE
2. Toothbrush - Only Two Months Used
"While I am cleaning out my closet I figured I would clean out my bathroom as well. I change toothbrushes quite often and figured it was time to change again.. What better thing to do with my old one than sell it on eBay... " Starting Bid: $.99 See it HERE
"These earrings are made of REAL raisins, glazed, then hung from good quality earring hooks using really thin wire. They are no longer edible, but instead make a really unique style statement! Who needs beads?!" Starting Bid: $3.91 See it HERE
4. Britney Spears' Sinead O'Conner Starter Kit
"This is the Ultimate Britney Spears Experience! It is a piece of history that can not be duplicated! A portion of the proceeds will be donated to various charities. The winner will have the choice to remain anonymous or to use this for publicity purposes." Starting Bid: $1,000,000.00 I'll take two! See it HERE
Thursday, February 22, 2007
If you're a follower of Jesus Christ and a musician, this blog entry of his will have some significance for you. I should say, if you're a follower of Jesus Christ and a musician AND not stuck in the vacuum of the popular christian music scene as your only source for righteous entertainment. I thought it was enlightening and heart-felt. It's a struggle I feel all too often. I hope it's a catalyst in your mind.
So here's his blog entry from today. I've cut and pasted below, but I'd encourage you to check out his site sometime. Thoughts?
"Once again, let me say how much I love you people. I love that an actual discussion is being had, and that you don't all agree! If you haven't been around in a while I'm talking about my previous post and the comments that have followed.
In the meantime, the interview I mentioned last post has been put up, as has a review of my latest record The Morning. Here is the interview and here is the review.
I want to expound on a couple points brought in the above articles, as well as stuff I said last night. In no particular order, here are my thoughts, as always, open for discussion…
- Thanks to the bulk of you who advised and encouraged me to keep on doing what I'm doing. I appreciate that more than you know, and it's what I'll be doing.
- My big concern, however, is that people who might really like my music are turned off if they hear about me as a "christian artist". This is what the interviewer, A.L. Harper says, and it's why she wouldn't have done the interview had I been brought to her attention that way.
And she's right. Completely. I'm exactly the same way. I don't really listen to "christian" music, and if you give me some music to check out and you call it that, I probably won't listen to it. It carries with it a connotation of not being good, and of being music I won't like. That's a stereotype, but stereotypes don't spring up at random. They're hasty judgments based on previous experience, and while some are terribly wrong, they are also often accurate.
Most "christian" music I have heard, and believe me, I've heard more than most of you, will tend to be simplistic, preachy, poorly made and shallow. There are wonderful, incredible exceptions, but that's just what they are: exceptions. I've had enough experience to know that, as a genre, "christian" music rarely affects me and often offends me.
There are two major problems with a genre defined not even by lyrical content but by the religious belief of the artist. One is that the content has to be very surface-y to cover a wide variety of actual beliefs. Secondly, it makes great assumptions on the artist's purpose and allegiances.
Most people assume that "christian" music is evangelistic, meaning its a means to an end to convert people. And most people would, historically, be right. Until very recently that was the main goal of the genre.
Most people then also assume that the artist is pro-life, voted for the Bush family, has perfect kids (who will soon rebel) and that they don't drink, smoke or watch R movies. And again, they may be right. Sometimes. But not all the time. Just like any other group in any situation, people are people, and they are all incredibly unique and will continue to surprise you with what they think.
This broad canvas over every artist who professes this certain faith implies so much, and I don't want that, and that's what I want to know how to be rid of.
Hear me now: I am not ashamed to believe in Jesus. I am ashamed of Pat Robertson hijacking my faith for his crazy political agenda. I am ashamed of a President who confuses good vs. evil with "they have oil and I want it". I am ashamed of Jerry Falwell and Benny Hinn. I called Bruce Wilkinson, author of The Prayer of Jabez, a liar and a crook to his face. I would do it again today. Because he, like these other guys, is taking what I believe and twisting it for money and for power and, in their headline-grabbing foolishness, making the truly faithful and honest believers look like idiots.
This is the main reason I am scared of "christian" music. I don't want to listen to it, because I assume it will be shallow, preachy and offensive to those who don't agree. I don't want to be called it, because I like my music and I want others to hear it, without the Left Behind-reading, Harry Potter-burning stigma.
BUT I'm here, so what do I do?
ALSO there is a great need for the Church to overcome this negative image. The links I posted last night to Dalit Freedom, Compassion, Blood:Water are what we should be seeing. I wish that the image people thought of when they thought of Christianity was feeding the poor and freeing the oppressed instead of picketing gay-rights parades.
That is the main reason I play for Caedmon's Call. They are a "christian" band, without a doubt. And they're doing amazing things for the people in India, and they're getting the Church involved, using music to get in the door. That, to me, is incredibly worthwhile.
So I'm left with this: I don't want to play "christian" music if it means I'm expected to believe and act one way and only that one way. I don't want to NOT play "christian" music if it means I have to do the same thing with an opposite set of rules. I guess I stay where I am and make the best music I'm able.
But I don't want to just "let the chips fall where they may". Again, I have a wife and two very adorable little girls to care for. And I would like my music to have a bigger, wider audience. Suggestions? Opinions? Further discussion?"
Currently reading : Soul Cravings By Erwin Raphael McManus Release date: By 14 November, 2006
Friday, February 16, 2007
I was reading THIS Wikipedia entry as I studied a few things this morning. My thoughts began to center around words that I love and/or hate (well, hate is a strong word, just ask Tim Hardaway). Rather, words I love and/or strongly dislike. I don't mean their meaning or usage, i simply mean the way these words make me feel when I speak them audibly.
Words I Would Remove From the English Language:
Go ahead, say it. You'll hate it too. Did you know that "lozenge" is actually a rhombus shape?
"Them nuptials are great bait for catchin' flounder." -old man at the pier
Artistically speaking, this word has bad flow and general.....badness. I also submit that at least 50% of the time I hear people say "lax-adaisical." This is incorrect gross word pronunciation.
This word makes me feel as if reading a thesaurus is daily activity. Reminds me of a famous quote: "Never use a short word where a long one will do." Yes, you read it correctly.
Words That Deserve the Equivalent of the Grammy Award:
Now that's just ironic.
It's a light, fruity wine, and rolls off the tongue doesn't it? The word, not the wine. Some of you have no freakin' clue how to even pronounce this word. We're all laughing and pointing at you right now. By "we're all" I mean just me. And the guy from the pier. He came over. We're eating nuptials and pointing at you.
This word has such sonic authority considering it's merely a cloud. This word could also double as the name of a super-hero i.e., "I am Cumulonimbus! Smiting evil dryness with my sword of humidity!"
Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious. If you say it loud enough you'll always sound precocious. You take it from here...
There you have it. Please, do enlighten us with your favorite/least favorite units of language that carry meaning and consist of one or more morphemes which are linked more or less tightly together and have phonetic value. or words.
". . . I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels."
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
I recently heard this song sung live. Its tenderness and truth shot though my heart like a flaming arrow - seering a painfully simple truth in my mind.
Jesus trying hard to quit
When we love the least
Jesus with worn wrinkled hands
When we love the least
Jesus waves a foreign flag
When we love the least
May we learn to love all these.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Optional side dishes: SNL, Remember that SNL isn't funny anymore, Blog, Sleep.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Today is day 3 of 6 to wear your moderately heavy coat and/or wool sweater. Remember, only approximately 3 cool/moderately cold days left this season. You may want to layer up in your favorite winter clothing so you can display it all before we hit the '90s again in February.
-National Weather Service
Sunday, January 28, 2007
I submit to you further proof that "good enough for gospel" is still a valid phrase: Gifted - Season One.
Oh...my...Gosh! I don't really have much time for TV,so this show is all new to me. I have since found that a number of my friends are familiar with this show - most had seen a commercial at some point yet not seen the actual show. Airs on TBN - a Christian station, if you're not familiar. According to the site, Gifted is set apart because it's "not about image," but "about vocal talent, period."
I'm embarrassed. This is awful.
Where does the idea of Christians creating knock-offs of EVERYTHING end? Do you sometimes wonder why Christians seem to imitate "cool" things instead of simply being...i don't know...original? Think: 98% of all t-shirts sold in your local Christian bookstore.
Here's what rumbles around in my skull: The God of the Bible is an original. He is the Creator. He is the originator. He is the Instigator. He is the First and the Last. He is the source of original creativity. I think we short-change the ability for the Spirit to create in and through us when we are so quick to simply copy what is already happening.
I thought I'd use this as an opportunity to tell you about a great musician, a musician that is making an impact for Christ outside of Christian circles: Jonny Lang. Check out his website at jonnylang.com. He's a guitar virtuoso with a great mix of rock, blues and gospel. Respected industry-wide and has been since he was a kid. His testimony, his struggles, thoughts and aspirations are filtered through the love of Christ and woven through his latest album, Turn Around.
May you be an original for His glory.
It was on my heart...
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Where are the streets lined with Harleys? Where are the ZZ Top look-a-likes with shirts that read, "If you can read this, the (expletive) fell off?" Where are the old men with massive bellies wearing uncomfortably small bathing suits? Where are the brand loyal race fans with their "turn number 3" bumper stickers and Home Depot jackets?
And in case you're wondering, I found the WWJD-bracelet-wearers :)
Friday, January 19, 2007
I firmly believe that this generation will see the death of many pseudo-faith social groups that focus on self-preservation and suit-wearing exclusivity. Dare I say that many of these will be the local churches in which we grew up.
I'm growing weary of hearing about the irrelevant local church. Is this a new argument? Were 20-year-olds discussing a lack of relevance in their churches in 1907? Is your church relevant?
I read today about Mosaic church in Los Angeles. Maybe you've heard of their pastor, Erwin McManus. He's a popular preacher, teacher, conference speaker, futurist, encourager, etc. I'd encourage you to check out their pod casts on iTunes. I promise you it's relevant. So Erwin was discussing how their church changed locations (i'm guessing here since I can't remember exactly) about 4 times in as many years. You see, they decided early on that if Mosaic became a place where they preached and reached only Christians - followers of Jesus Christ - that they would stop what they were doing and regroup. And they did.
Why are there 50 churches within 10 square miles of my very location that run less than 100 people on a Sunday; and those in attendance know 99% of the other attenders? Is that relevant to the Christ-less? What does that say about the people that make up that body? I'm really not sure what it means.
Maybe you attend church and maybe you don't. Either way, relevance matters. And the point at which I see it as irrelevant to my community, well that's where it becomes irrelevant to me as well. I think.
I'd love to end with some witty series of questions to pull responses from you guys, but I'm not feeling that bright. Crap.
Well, now that I've solved all the problems of the world....
It was on my heart...
Friday, January 5, 2007
1. Men married for more than one year
2. All women
I have determined that most married men (again, married for more than one trip 'round the sun) are stupid. OK, maybe it's just me. No...no way it's just me.
It seems that I don't know how to do much of anything without my wife's assistance when it comes to many daily household and various other recurring duties. Not that I can't get these things done. OK, so some of them I can't get done - shutty. But I suddenly become the most inefficient person in the universe. Maybe it's my natural male instincts kicking in that determine that my ineptitude will get me out of doing the job altogether. Maybe I really am ignorant.
I am beginning to realize just how much my wife does for me on a daily basis - behind the scenes and otherwise. Bills (rather, the juggling of bills without bouncing a check off the wall, rim and backboard), kids, meals, schedules, birthdays, cards, thank you notes and a myriad other things I can't recall because she doesn't even bother me with them.
And not only my wife, but friends' wives too. Just the other day my wife gave me a pack of gum that was, evidently, sealed tighter than incriminating Watergate documents. The "other" wife present took the gum from me and opened it up in precisely .08 seconds flat and proceeds to hand me the pack along with a piece of gum. All the while I sit dumbfounded like a three-year-old. Little bit of drool. In my defense I had no fingernails to get into the pack of gum. But now that I say (type?) this out loud it does seem to be a weak defense. This type of incident is common.
Maybe you'd like to take a moment (yes, now, i mean, you wasted all this time reading so certainly you have a minute) and think about the women in your life that take care of you on a regular basis. Even if all they do it open a pack of gum for you - or the equivalent.
You'll feel better if you do.
It was on my heart....