06.03.11 - New Tires
We played a concert in Olathe, KS last week. I always like playing in Kansas because I get to see my family and hang out with old friends. We drove all night to get there, and everyone at the rock church was incredibly hospitable. While we were unloading the trailer, some of the guys that were helping noticed our tires. They seemed very concerned as they began to notice the tread was completely worn off. In some places, the steel wires were showing through and they were obviously on their last leg. I explained, as I have many times before, that we blow tires all the time. Since we have a dual axle trailer, it's not really that big of a deal and we (usually) always have a spare. The warranty policy on the tires replaces them if they blow anyway, so in the name of pinching a few pennies we tend to just "go till they blow." I realize this probably isn't the safest ideology to abide by as a band on the road, but I felt like I had eased their minds a bit, and we continued to load in. I was fortunate to have dinner with my parents after sound check, and when I got back Tim and Seth had some news for me. They explained that the guys who were concerned about our tires kidnapped our van. They drove off with it and somebody told us that it would be back in a couple hours. Right before we played that night, they brought the van back. They took it to a tire shop and put brand new tires all around. This was huge. This was incredible. One of the guys gave us the receipt so that we could get a free rotation, and let me tell you...it takes a lot of money to put brand new tires on a van and trailer. I couldn't believe it. As much as I tried to telll them we didn't need their help, we actually did. They saw a need and met it. They knew we couldn't afford to do do that, and they knew they could. We played the concert that night, and Charlie ( I think he was the pastor) shared from the stage. He talked about his experience helping the victims from the recent tornado in Joplin, MO and encouraged us to look out for one another. As he spoke I realized that I was listening. I mean really listening. This guy was for real. He was telling us that we can do something in this world. That we can make a difference. And I heard him. Maybe because he was passionate. Maybe because he drove down to Joplin. Maybe because he put his faith into action. Maybe because they bought us new tires. I talked with Charlie after the show. I told him I've never heard the voice of God Audibly. I've never had a vision or dream or seen a lame man walk. But I see people like the people at that church and I believe. When people step in and help those who need it, that's God. When volunteers drive down to Joplin to help people who have lost everything, that's God. When guys at a church chip in to buy new tires for a travelling band: that's God. When I see his people put actions behind their faith I see him.
thanks for the tires guys!
03.09.11 - FAILED
I live in Tennessee. I've lived in other states before. Kansas, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri. I guess you could say I'm a midwesterner at heart, but now I live in the south. Living in the south has brought a few cultural changes. Did you know they call shopping carts "buggies?" And they say strange made-up words like "y'all" and you'ins, I guess I've gotten used to some of the southern drawl but living in Nashville has exposed me to something else that is a bit foreign where I come from: The dreaded emissions test.
This is the first time in my life as a driver that I have lived in a place where an emissions test is required. I've always driven older cars and this process has become a thorn in my side. Don't get me wrong, I think the test is great for the environment, but this is an added stress and expense to my already long to-do list. I've never really thought about it before, be I can't really believe some of the cars I've driven in the past have been legally allowed on the road. My sister had an old Nissan Sentra that would produce a white mushroom cloud of smog every time she started it.
I don't know how, but I've passed the test every time. The first time was scary. My palms were clammy as my white knuckled fists gripped the steering wheel with anticipation. I was sweating profusely and I was grinding my teeth. I carefully examined the other cars in front of me as I tried to calm myself. "If that car can pass, surely mine will", I told myself. "That one doesn't even have a muffler! It's crazy loud..." It must have worked because I passed with flying colors. Three times in a row! Maybe the their equipment was malfunctioning. Maybe God sent down a fleet of car angels to quickly fix my vehicle. Whatever the case, I pretty much stopped worrying about it, until today.
Today was different. I don't know why, but my lucky streak ran out. I failed. My little Cecil failed. That's the name of my truck. Cecil's old, I know, but he's been so good to me. He turned twenty this year. Maybe he's having a mid-life crisis? Well, maybe it's more like a three-quarter life crisis but he failed...miserably.
I drove off into the rain and started stressing hardcore. What now? My plates are going to expire...oh wait they already have. AHHHHH! I should have done this two weeks ago. I need a new sticker for my license plate. One of those eighty dollar little red ones that everybody else has. If you have a red sticker you won't get pulled over. I don't. Oh know I'm gonna get pulled over and then I'll have a ticket and I don't have enough money, and... and...my brain was racing. Traffic was heavy, of course and I was low on gas. Gas is expensive. It's like 3.50 a gallon!
I made it home and sat down on the couch. "Breathe", I said in my head, "breathe." I pulled out my computer and consulted Google. The answer was obvious: get the truck fixed and try again. Some "fixes' include regular maintenance like changing the il. Thankfully a re-test is free, but this oh-so-annoying process is going to take even longer thatn I planned.
The more websites I visited the more I realized that this really wasn't a bad thing. As bad as it felt to "fail", and to have that frowny face staring at me, this test had my best interests in mind. If I fix my truck now it will obviously keep the air that I breathe everyday cleaner, and probably prevent more problems in the future. I'll even get better gas milage!
I started thinking about how good can come out of bad things in our lives. Something may happen that seems "bad" at the time. I don't always know how, but God can turn a "bad" into a "good". We may not see it right away, but hindsight is always twenty twenty, right? I don't know what you are going through right now. Maybe you feel like a failure. Maybe somebody failed you. Our new song "Eye of the Hurricane" talks about feeling helpless. Sometimes we feel like we are constantly fighting the wind and waves life throws at us. It seems like we're battling a huge storm.
When our lives feel out of control and...Hurricanish, Jesus is the calm. He told the waves to be still and they obeyed him! He told the blind to open their eyes and the lame to walk. Breathe. Take a minute to look at the bad in your life. Is God using it for good? Maybe it doesn't seem like it yet, but he can. He has your best interests in mind and can turn your bad into good.
11.12.10 - Christmas in the Kalahari
I've been workin on finishing my bachelor's degree online.
Here's a little sneak peak into my anthropology class:
"Christmas in the Kalahari"
Richard Borshay Lee is an anthropologist. He has been living in the Kalahari desert for three years among the !Kung Bushmen. They affectionately call him "Ontah" which means, "whitey". As he studies them he maintains a bit of a distance from their hunting and gathering practices. He has focused his study on the way they gather food and established the fact that it is essential that he not aid in their search or provide them with food. As hunter/gatherers they generally have only a few days of food stored up, while he maintains a two-month supply of canned goods.
The tradition of celebrating Christmas was brought to the tribe in the early nineteenth century. The birth story of the savior of the world was stripped down to "praise the birth of white man's god-chief". The Bushmen are fond of one part of this celebration which is partly why it continues: the slaughtering of an ox. The entire community rejoices and spends several days feasting and dancing. It is a very anticipated festival and everyone looks forward to it. Richard or "Ontah" had been feeling guilty of his plentiful supply of food and came up with a plan to make amends: He was going to purchase the biggest ox he could find for the celebration.
As the Christmas celebration approached, Ontah began his 'hunt' for the perfect ox. After several days of examination, he found a giant, black beast and paid 56 dollars for it. He left it with the heard until the celebration, but word soon got out that he bought an old, frail, worthless cow. Six, seven, then eight men from the tribe approached him and asked about this ox. "The black one? Do you expect us to eat that bag of bones"? They all seemed so dissapointed. Everyone began talking about what a bad choice he had made saying, "After three years of living with us, have you learned nothing about cattle?" They teased him relentlessly and said the ox he had chosen had no fat, and the people would have no energy to dance.
Richard tried to find another cow, but failed. He was distressed but decided to feed them the animal anyway. As the slaughtering process began, he looked on. He watched as they began to cut into the cow. Expecting the bones to show immideately, he was shocked to see thick layers of creamy white fat, three inches thick at least. The bushmen began to go on about the worthless cow, but this time they were all laughing! Richard knew what had happened. Though his feelings were hurt, he slowly began to realize that all along it was a joke. He asked the Bushmen why they had done this, and they told him it was their custom. "That's the way we always talk", they said. Richard soon discovered that this was the !Kung way of instilling humility. If a young hunter makes a big kill, in their culture he may begin to feel arrogant. They do not want anyone to think they are somehow better than another. They wanted Richard to know that his act of purchasing the cow didn't make up for his short-comings or stockpiled food supply. What a great lesson can be learned here about humility. A truly remarkable story from the Kalahari. These gentle people taught Richard a deep truth. They accepted him as their own, treated him like a bushman, and taught him to be humble. Christmas was a great feast, and the people danced.
"But those who exalt themselves will be humbled,
and those who humble themselves will be exalted."
10.28.10 - i love the road at night
I love the road at night
The highway, by moonlight
The city fades
The music plays
The darkness invites
We carry on
From dusk till dawn
Our destination in sight
I dread the day
The sunny rays
This blackness feels so right
My thoughts drift away
The miles do the same
And I find myself talking, with you
We chitter and chatter
You ask what's the matter
As our small talk changes mood
When prayer becomes idle
This conversation is vital
The engine purrs
Through the slow curves
I find myself content.
The truckers pass
We burn the gas
I focus on the task ahead
I remember the times
We shared our lives
I love the road at night.
09.27.10 - parable of the lost ipod?
I have an ipod. It's not a fancy ipod, it doesn't have not a million gigabytes of storage, or a touch screen, and it's not a phone. I still like it a lot and use it all the time. It helps me tremendously when I'm trying to sleep in the van, or in the same room as seth as he is snoring like a lawn mower. I realized this afternoon that I lost it. I looked in my pockets. I looked in my backpack, I looked in my suitcase. I looked in the van. I looked in my backpack again. I looked in the van again. I called the last hotel we stayed in. No luck... it wasn't anywhere. I looked through all my drum cases and retraced my steps. Nothing. I shut my eyes tight and tried to replay the events over the past 24 hours, but to no avail. Later in the evening I drove back to the hotel and the lady at the front desk, Cheryl, was nice enough to open the room and let me look. It wasn't there so I said my thanks and continued to scour the parking lot. I finally moved on and accepted the fact that it was gone. Maybe stolen, maybe smashed on the side of the highway, but nonetheless, gone. I got back in the van feeling defeated and started to drive off, when it suddenly dawned on me. I remembered where I put it. I stepped on the brake and pulled the sun visor down. I reached up and there it was. Neatly tucked in one of those CD holder thingies was my ipod. I smiled. I laughed out loud! Literally. I was so happy! I know that this ipod isn't worth that much in the grand scheme, but it made my day. I immediately texted my wife and several other friends that knew of my dilemma to tell them the good news. I breathed a sigh of relief and drove away, beaming.
The Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15)
"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
This Parable obviously came to mind as I could relate to this woman, so closely. I knew exactly how she felt as I rummaged through all my things. I knew that feeling of, "Eureka!" I love the simplicity of Jesus' parables. I love how they are everyday reminders of how much he cares about us. He wasn't an intimmidating teacher, who talked down to people. He was a storyteller. He gave us easy examples to teach us about the kindgom. What parable have you related to lately?
09.20.10 - Trending...Asian Unicorn
I logged into yahoo today to check my email. Nothing special. Nothing out of the ordinary. I check my email almost everyday. It can be a difficult chore because I'm usually distracted from the task at hand. The latest news stories always try their best to grab a second of my precious time, but this time something else stuck out to me. I made it past the gauntlent of weather widgets and Gaga gossip to my actual inbox. YES! What an accomplishment. You see, I'm easily distracted and maybe slightly ADD, so this was big. However, before I proceeded to filter through the spam to get the the real stuff, I noticed two small words at the top of my screen: 'Asian Unicorn'. Just as I read them the words vanished. Was it my imagination? Was I losing my mind? Or did I really just see this strange combination of words appear and dissapear? I focused my attention once again to the top of the screen and saw that the word 'trending'remained. As I squinted I saw something else. Right after the word 'trending', was this: "PSP2", and then it vanished again! This pattern repeated severeal times like a game of celebrety roulette until the cycle started over again with "Asian Unicorn". As I thought about these different 'trending' topics, my mind began to think about the book of Ecclesiastes, and this verse came to mind:
"Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course..."
...Then I thought of this verse in Isaiah:
"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever."
The "trending" topics will all be different tomorrow, and someone else will have their window of fame. We are all like grass. None of our accomplishments will mean anything after our life is over. The word of God stands forever. Knowing him and making him known is the only thing that will last. This little reminder gave me a fresh perspective on what really matters. I did some research on the Asian Unicorn. Apparently a very rare animal known as the wild saola died in captivity. The story of this endangered species is saddening, but I'm glad this unicorn-like creature grabbed my attention and pulled me into the scriptures. Let's try to remember that we too are endangered. We are like grass. Our glory will fade, but the word of our God stands forever.
07.02.10 - GOING OLD SCHOOL
So we're currently in our van driving home from a show in Richmond VA last night, which was a lot of fun, except for the fact that my guitar kept going out on me during the show. Not to mention, the light controller crashed before the show. And also, the power for the entire building shut down halfway through our set. But besides that, it was a blast, and the folks in Richmond were super fun. What else matters at the end of the day anyway? :)
This was not the first show that my guitar has gone out on me. In fact, I feel like the past several shows, I've had some kind of different issue with it every time. Last night, the first thing to go out on it was my wireless pack. The cable that connects my guitar to the wireless transmitter apparently has developed a short in it. But no worries, our road manager Josh came to the rescue with a guitar cord to replace the wireless. So we're good to go...for a minute anyway.
It works fine about halfway through the next song, and then something in my pedalboard started making tons on loud alien noises and then all of a sudden just went out altogether. I did what any intelligent person would do when this happens, and I kicked it several times, hoping that it would work out whatever kink it was experiencing. But no, that didn't work. So I bent down and unplugged my volume pedal and just bypassed it, hoping that this would fix the problem, as I've had issues with them in the past. But no, that didn't work either. Meanwhile, Tim and Dex were still playing and I was having to keep the vocals going on top of all of this.
I got so frustrated that I just said in my head "forget it", and unplugged the entire pedal board and went straight into one of my amps, going "old-school" again.
Luckily enough, this worked well enough to get us through the rest of the show.
Now as frustrating as this all was, it reminds me of a simple fact that I feel that God teaches me over and over again in my life, and it's simply GETTING BACK TO THE SOURCE. When I just took my guitar and plugged it straight into the amp, there was no room for error, and it just worked fine. With everything in between, there is a risk that any one of the small little cables or power supplies could go wrong at any given time.
This is the same with our lives, and the relationship we have with our creator. When we fill our lives with clutter that we so often think is essential to our survival, our "direct connection" to God gets fuzzy, and can sometimes get cut off. We forget that He is the reason for our being, and that He is the one true source of our purpose and balance. It's my prayer today for myself, and for everyone reading right now, that we are just reminded to get right back to "the source", and make sure there is nothing standing in the way.
06.28.10 - The Wheelchair Plaque
I was waiting at the county clerk's office today, sitting in the lobby as a friend of mine renewed his license. I sat on what looked like an old church pew and enjoyed some people-watching. As entertaining as this activity can potentially be, boredom began to settle in. I purused the big map of the city and found my house. I checked my phone. I chewed my nails. You know, normal stuff you do when you're bored. Just as I was about to get up to stretch I noticed a wheel chair folded up next to the bench. It looked fairly aged, but perfectly functional. As I looked closer I noticed it had a plaque-like piece of plastic glued to the side with engraved words on it. Carefully etched into this plastic were the words "donated by ________" The blank can be filled in by the organization of your choice. I actually don't remember the actual organization, but that's not what caught my eye. It was the first part. "donated by". Seriously?!?! I instantly thought of Matthew chapter 6:
1"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Why is it engraved in our human nature to always crave credit for the things we do? What is motivating us to do good? Is it just so that others see? It is a sad reality but so true. Arenas have their donors names is huge print and many edifices have brick sidewalks with names carved into them so passers by know who gave money and exactly how much. It kinda makes me sick. There have been a few times in my life when I received a gift from someone anonomously. This is the true heart of a cheerful giver. This is how we should give. Regardless of recognition.
06.12.10 - We got a cowbell player in Charlotte NC!
Trivia: name our cowbell player from the Charlotte NC show last nite!
06.11.10 - TYING THE KNOT
ME IN MOTION TOUR BLOG: TYING THE KNOT
JUNE 11 2010
Hey All! Sitting here backstage before we go on in Charlotte, NC. Sorry it's been forever since you've seen a blog from us. As you've probably guessed, we've all been crazy busy. One thing that has kept me particularly busy has been planning my wedding with my fiance! We are tying the knot on July 21 in Sweden following up our second year at a Christian Music Festival there called JesusRock.
Needless to say, all your prayers are greatly appreciated as we enter into this new season of our lives.
I don't have anything incredibly profound to write today, but I just wanted to share with you a reminder that I've received in the midst of doing all this thinking about marriage.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." (EPH 5:25-27)
The Master reigns,
our God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Let us celebrate, let us rejoice,
let us give him the glory!
The Marriage of the Lamb has come;
his Wife has made herself ready.
She was given a bridal gown
of bright and shining linen.
The linen is the righteousness of the saints." (REV 19:6-8)
I think there's something huge that we need to take from how much God correlates the church as His bridge in the Bible. Look at the verses above, Jesus instructs us men to love our wives just as He loves the church. Now when I think about marriage, and what it arises from, knowing that it is simply the union of two souls when they can no longer see their lives as complete on their own. Not to get sappy or mushy, but I can so easily relate it to my wedding coming up, and it just makes perfect sense - me and my fiance know that we no longer want to live as two individuals, but we know that God has brought us together to be one, and that we will have the most satisfied and fulfilled life this way. I think Jesus views us the same. He is one day coming back for His bride, as the Bible tells us. To think, how much Jesus loves His people, that he relates it to marriage.
Now I know a lot of you out there maybe don't have the best of marriage stories. Maybe yours is on the rocks as we speak. And we can also look at the church with all of its flaws that it has today, and criticize it until we the day we die. But lets just take a moment and think about what Jesus had for us by saying that we are His bride! I believe that He simply loves us so much, and wants to be with us for all eternity, which is the entire reason why He is returning for us to be "married" to Him. No more distance, no more pain. It will just be us and Him, in perfect communion forever. Sometimes it's a little scary to think about all the "end times" talk, and read the books about Jesus coming back to rapture His church. But for us who know Him and are living for Him, it could possibly be the best thing that we could ever look forward to - to finally join with our creator, and the one true lover of our souls for eternity.
What I take from all of this is that it makes me look at the church with a little different perspective. Sure, there are so many things that I might do differently about church nowadays, from what I've experienced. And of course, there are a lot of people that don't "practice what they preach". But lets remember that any time we involve people in ANYTHING, we are all inherently flawed. The church that Christ intended for us to be, as his body, and as His bride that He loves more than anything, is as simple as being a good wife - to submit to Him, to love Him, to support Him, to stay faithful even through hard times, and to have an open, honest relationship with Him. So until Jesus comes back for us to tie the knot for good, I want my heart to simply see the church become like the bride that Christ wants us to be.