Thursday, December 28, 2006

During This Christmastime...

This song has been pounding it's way through my head all Christmas season.

Happy Christmas (War is Over) by John Lennon

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
War is over over
If you want it
War is over
More to come...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

One Last One!

I promise that soon some solid content is coming! Hang in there with me, faithful readers, all three of you!

Another One!

New Pics of Peyton

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Review: Self-Titled - Daughtry

Okay, I admit it. I'm one of millions who tuned in to watch American Idol last season and was one of millions who couldn't believe it when North Carolina rocker Chris Daughtry got eliminated over mediocre competition. Here's my review of his debut album!

Self-Titled - Daughtry

Review: Gravity / Love - Sandra McCracken

This is a great album by someone who deserves to be heard by more! Check it out!

Gravity/Love - Sandra McCracken

Monday, December 11, 2006

Review: Christmas Treasures: McPherson Guitar Instrumentals

Here's a kind of rare review for me, a review of something I wasn't particularly enthused over. Feel free to check it out.

Christmas Treasures: McPherson Guitar Instrumentals - Various

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Jesus Junk of the Year Award

Borrowing a page out of Marko's book, I'm offering up my nomination for "Jesus Junk of the Year Award." For my money, this is just wrong. I can just picture the commercial now....

"An emblem of suffering and shame...unforgettable torture and cherry, watermelon, pina colada, and other assorted fruity flavors! It's fun and yummy for the whole family!"

O Vanity Thy Name is America!

Romans 1:25 - (NASB) "For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."

Just recently I found myself watching "E", the channel devoted to celebrity gossip and worship because, well, I really like Joel McHale and "The Soup". I'm a sucker for keeping up on the latest meltdown by Danny DeVito or what Paris Hilton is up to just, because. But the other day, I was greeted with a bizarre story via a commercial for one of the channel's flagship shows, Dr. 90210. I watched, in the span of a commercial, as a young couple came to the doctor in "need" of some critical surgery. The need? She apparently suffered from a lopsided labia. His need? A saggy scrotum.

What is wrong with us? Is this what we've become? Time was, you were just glad to have someone interested in those most delicate of areas. Now we're even obsessed about their appearance? And this comes at what expense to us? And to our communities? I truly wonder how much money goes into genital-based plastic surgery. I wonder how many hungry mouths that may feed or how many Christmas gifts that may buy for underpriveleged kids. Even in light of the argument regarding self esteem and whatnot, the money would have been better spent on some type of therapy, helping these young people to love and appreciate who they are as opposed to having to artificially augment themselves. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves.

Review: Love Like a Mule - Stoll Vaughan

Here's a new review for you! For fans of solidly performed alt country, Stoll is a good guy to add to your playlists!

Love Like a Mule - Stoll Vaughan

Thursday, November 30, 2006

New Kid Pics

So I'm a proud Dad! Sue me!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Stallone Speaks...

Here is a very interesting link that discusses a conference call Sylvester Stallone recently had with pastors and ministry leaders. Yes, I said Stallone. The Oscar-winner speaks about his new film, "Rocky Balboa", and the overarching Christian themes inherent within. He also discusses his personal faith journey and where he stands now. Very interesting ready, especially for someone who grew up on Rambo and Rocky!

Here's the link!

And for those of you who haven't yet caught the trailer for Rocky Balboa, you can check that out here!

Black Friday Musings

As I'm sure I've mentioned and as my three faithful readers know (Hi, guys!), I work in the Christian retail industry. Honestly, if I had my druthers, I'd rather not be affiliated with it but, at this point in time, it seems to be the place where the good Lord has planted me and where I'm to be for the time being. But, either way, I've had some general misgivings surrounding the concept of Christian retail around the Christmas season.

It's no secret that the Christmas season is known as the time where stores make a huge ton of money, hence the label of the day after Thanksgiving, "Black Friday", so named as the point at which retailers make the push out of the red into the black of profits. This is no different in the Christian industry. Yet, I wonder if this ought to be so. Now, I'm not totally condemning capitalism as a system nor saying that it is improper or sinful for Christian business owners to make money during this time of year. But, there seems to be a bit of a paradox inherent in the system at work. Let me explain.

Most Christians, and most people for that matter, realize that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ, the coming of the promised Messiah. Many will tell you of their frustration with the commercialization of the holiday, of the focus being placed upon gift giving and Santa Claus and "Happy Holidays" rather than upon the Christ child himself. Christian booksellers across the nation, and perhaps even the world sell buttons and ornamental items and whatnot emblazoned with slogans like "Jesus is the Reason for the Season", and "Keep Christ in Christmas". Now, I agree with these things to a degree. We do celebrate Christmas because of the birth of Christ and I think it's foolish to try and separate the two.

However...That's right. You knew it was coming. Well, here it is. Do we not make ourselves complicit in the commercialization of the season by selling these very products? By prepping for the rush and opening our doors early to the hordes of shoppers? Are our "Black Friday" sales geared toward, as some would say, spreading the good news or with breaking a profit margin? All too often I think that our eyes have shifted from God to mammon. It's not a conscious decision but it is a decision that has been made nonetheless.

My prayer is this. Please enjoy the season of Christmas. Rejoice in the times of fellowship with family and friends. Please partake in the rituals of giving and receiving gifts in honor of the One who was born so long ago. But, somewhere along the way, take a few moments and analyze the "why's" of what you're doing. Are you stressed out, frustrated, and overspent financially and physically? If so, you might need to do a motive check. Are you focused on what you're getting for Christmas this year? If so, you're either a teenager or someone who is struggling with selfishness and greed. Take time out and savor the moment and look to help someone in need. Allow this season to merely be a kickstart to that kind of lifestyle as we push forward toward the New Year. And, most of all, make Christmas about Christ. Don't make it about a bottom line, a profit margin, or pushing an agenda. Instead, let the amazing truth of the Incarnation sweep over you like a cool breeze, carrying you away to a place of love and grace that truly sets itself apart as the greatest story ever told.

Christmas Time is Here!

We are officially in the realm of Christmastime now and, well, I'm excited. I'm a sucker for the sappy music, the lovingly wrapped gifts, and all the cookies. I love Christmas time. I'm the kind of guy who still refuses to let my wife put out the presents until after I've gone to bed in order that I can get that whole "Santa's come!" kind of feeling when I arise in the morning. There's nothing like arising to a tree surrounded by a bevy of gifts and goodies! Anyway, being that we're at least at the dawn of the Christmas season, I thought I'd share this quick clip with you that lets you know how excited I am that it's this time of year!

Click here and check it out!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Review: Eyes Open - Snow Patrol

This one hasn't left the CD player much since I bought it! "Chasing Cars" is addictive and the rest of the album follows suit! Here's the review:

Eyes Open - Snow Patrol

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Invigorating Friends

I've sort of been out of the loop lately as far as deeper thinking goes. It's not so much that those thoughts have left my mind or gotten to a place wherein they have disinterested me but, well, I just found myself getting a little overwhelmed. It's tough to imbibe so much information sometimes and to know what to do with it. So, I took a break. Lately I've been spending my free time devouring paperback novels and listening to music. Now, that's not going to change entirely, especially the music part, but I think I'm ready to wade back into the deep end of the pool.

The forces pushing me toward this again are twofold yet very much the same. Both are due to friendships I have, one forged over twenty-plus years and the other really less than a year old. One friend I talk to quite frequently and the other, well, only now and then. One was once a NASA engineer and the other is a musician and graphic design artist. What both of these friends have in common is a restless mind and a heart that keeps on giving. They both come from diverse backgrounds, have tasted of very different slices of life, but both continue to ferry on, thinking, pondering, loving, and living. I'm thankful for the challenges that their lives bring to me and for the contribution that they make to this great life of mine, whether they realize it or not.

So, to Ryan and Holly, and to Celena, here's to you!

Just FYI....
Ryan and Holly are featured on this week's Emergent Village podcast. You can check that out here!

And Celena and my conversation has just really begun to pick up steam over here as we discuss friendships, faith, life, and other sundry items! Please feel free to join us!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Conversation Between Friends

Recently, although that really implies that its just been in the past couple of weeks or something which isn't the case, a wonderful longtime friend of mine from childhood and I have gotten back into touch and have been sharing our lives with one another. We are seriously friends from childhood too. We grew up a couple of miles away from one another, went to elementary, middle, and high school together. In fact, in high school, for a good amount of the time, she was my ride although sometimes it was a little unnerving. Our friendship has survived good times and bad, those awkward "is there more to this?" moments, and more. Ultimately, we've found ourselves having spent some time apart, lived vastly different yet similar lives, and are now back in touch. I love her very much and am so happy to see her happy with the life she has now.

A few months back Celena and I had this nifty idea to just kind of discuss some things, really whatever came to mind, but to do it in a blog format. The reason for this varies but partly we both wanted to keep working on our writing skills plus, let's just be honest, the blog world is kind of cool and any sort of additional input is more than welcome. So, I want to share that site with you. I'm going to add a link on the side as well so you, as well as I, can access it quickly if any of the three of you who read this so desire.

Please check it out!

A Conversation Between Friends

Review: Migrations - The Duhks

For fans of skilled acoustic performances and soulful vocals, the Duhks are a must listen!

Migrations - The Duhks

New Pics of the Kids...

I'm really going to be posting more, really! Please trust me! But, until then, here's some sweet, sweet eye candy!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Review: Songbird - Willie Nelson

I've become a huge fan the past year or two of this country legend and Ryan Adams only helps his star shine brighter here! Check it out!

Songbird - Willie Nelson

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bathroom Humor

Okay, in keeping with my committment to post something a tad more regularly, here's a quick thought that I had this week.

All righty, now stay with me here because this is going to unpack itself quick and well, might be a little off kilter. We've all certainly had this experience and I want to ask you how you feel about it. It deals with a certain number two and said number's relationship to public restrooms. No, I'm not trying to be vulgar or just gross here but, well, I'm curious. Have you ever had that moment where, well, despite all good intentions, you've just got to go and you're out and about? Of course you have. It's that bodily function nobody really wants to discuss but it's there. We can't escape it. And sometimes it takes us down in public.

So, we hurry off to the nearest restroom, Lord willing not at a roadside gas station or some other similar home of every disease known to man and God and enter in. Now, here's the part I'm particularly freaked out by. It's the part of the show where one must drop their britches and sit down. The freaky part is when you sit down to take care of the impending issue and the seat is warm. Warm! This should not be! This is a porcelein toilet bowl, not a towel fresh from the dryer nor something you really want to be warm. I'm not saying that I particularly enjoy the chilling feeling of a cold toilet seat but, in the confines of the public restroom, yes, that's what I want. Because if it is warm, then the obvious is apparent. Someone has been here. Someone has been here recently.

This is not a comforting thought to me. Some might think otherwise. They might contend that the commonness of our humanity via our waste functions and whatnot show a bond between all humans and that this sameness is a beautiful expression of who we are. They might state that to be freaked out by something so inane, so banal, is to simply deny being who you are. Well, to them I say, WHAT? I'm just not incredibly excited about allowing my hinder quarters to be sharing space with just anyone elses. It's one thing to share a seat, with a layer of clothing between us and whatnot and even then, sometimes, it's questionable. But to share something upon which my bare cheeks will rest, knowing that not minutes before, Joe Jones has rested his own very behind upon as well. Well, that disturbs me.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Attention Faithful Readers...

Okay, I realize that I'm really just addressing myself here and maybe a few other people but, well, listen up anyway. I apologize for the lack of compelling material as of late. Pretty much all I've been able to do is to link to my reviews as of late and for that I am sorry. The good Lord willing, and this will be greatly dependent upon my powers of self control, I am going to attempt to post something, hopefully something more intelligent and significant, than what you've been seeing as of late. I just thought you should know.

(And if you've stumbled upon this, wondered why I'm addressing myself via the blog, it's just a bit of accountability! Maybe seeing myself tell, well, myself, that I'm going to keep writing will help!)

Review: Smoking City - David Condos

Keep your eye on this kid! He's got some good stuff to say and says it well!

Smoking City - David Condos

Review: Wintersong - Sarah McLachlan

I'm a sucker for the Christmas music! It's a nice, understated album perfect for curling up by the fire with a loved one!

Here's the review: Wintersong - Sarah McLachlan

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Review: Germ - Robert Liparulo

If you like fast paced, action packed, "they have to make a movie of this"-type books, check this one out! Good stuff!

Germ - Robert Liparulo

Review: Ray Sings Basie Swings - Ray Charles

This was a terrific album! Here are my thoughts on it!

Ray Sings Basie Swings - Ray Charles

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pumpkin Pics

We took the kids (the other little girl our friend's kid!) out to a local pumpkin festival this past weekend! Here are some pics:

Monday, October 30, 2006

Just Nasty...

Dysentery sample analysis?

Semen washer?

I ran across this bizarre article on AOL that detailed the ten worst/nastiest jobs in science. Check it out!

10 Dirtiest Jobs in Science

Review: Last Man STanding - Jerry Lee Lewis

This is a great album by the Killer himself! Check it out for some good stuff!

Last Man Standing - Jerry Lee Lewis

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Six-Word Stories

I ran across this interesting article which shares a number of six-word stories. Yes, you read that correctly. It's really the ultimate in short stories and they've culled such stories from people in several realms of creative life. It's an interesting read at the very least. The question I'm left with is what my own six-word short story would be?

I don't know what to write. - Andrew Greenhalgh

Monday, October 23, 2006

Through A Glass Darkly

I was talking to a friend the other day and he was remarking to me about what he feels is a rise in the Christian community, particularly among those of an artistic bent, that seems to be focusing more and more on the idea of our depravity, or the idea that without God we are nothing. This makes him particularly happy due to his Calvinistic leanings and on this point I do agree with him. There is a growing sense that we are insignificant without God and that God is utterly beyond all that we can imagine. Yet, our conversation continued and he spoke of the idea that many have tossed aside the ideas of doctrine and theology as things which serve no purpose because we can "never really figure God out". I countered with the idea that there are many of us, some of which would coin ourselves "emerging" or "emergent" depending upon your bent and buzzword of choice, others who just don't care what they're called, that are very much about theology and the concept of doctrine, yet we tend to hold these things in our hands lightly, delicately. We realize the danger of proverbially boxing God in or making some definitive declaration about Him that is only trumped by some new revelation later. My own journey has seen numerous shifts in thinking in those areas and perhaps we ought to not hold to such a dogmatic stance of those things?

My friend then offered up an interesting comment regarding his conversion and story. He shared that his life didn't really change until he really started getting into and understanding the doctrines of Scripture. He asserts that it wasn't until He studied the Scripture and the doctrines therein that he truly developed a healthy understanding of reality. I see where he's coming from. Yet, as always, I have a slightly alternative view on this issue. I instead wonder if it's possible to view the Scriptures accurately without having first tasted of and experienced what some may view as reality. The Scriptures themselves remind us that creation itself reveals the glory of God. Reality itself offers up a compelling portrait of God.

Now, I'm sort of rambling here so please allow me to flesh out my thoughts. First, I realize that we view all of reality through some sort of lens. Our philosophical views are critical elements in how we look at the world. My friend, I believe, would contend that a Scriptural view is the only lens by which we can truly know reality. Yet, my question is how we can be confident in our lens of viewing Scripture? I'm not holding to a relativistic viewpoint or abolishing the idea of concrete statements as we approach the Bible. Yet, I do realize that there are theologies that have been developed and utilized by people, well meaning, intelligent, and God fearing people, who come down on opposite ends of theological spectrums. Where is the dividing line? Where is the truth?

The truth, I think, comes in that ubiquitous relationship with Christ that we all toss around. In comes in loving one another, in loving our brothers and sisters, in loving our neighbor and our enemies. It comes in not being so obsessed with being right, with having all of our t's crossed and our i's dotted but rather in living right, in living in peace, harmony, and love with one another. This cannot occur without Jesus, without the grace and indwelling of Him, and this is the one thing we can all agree upon.

In Lieu of Substance...

In lieu of having the time to write anything right now of substance, here are a few more pics o' the young 'uns!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Review: Body Piercing Saved My Life - Andrew Beaujon

This is a great book written by a senior writer for Spin which looks at the Christian music industry, good and bad. It's really, really good!

Body Piercing Saved My Life - Andrew Beaujon

You can pick the book up here!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Review: So Far So Good - Paul Thorn

Here's a review I did for one of my favorite artists, Paul Thorn! Check out this album!

So Far So Good - Paul Thorn

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Random Question

Just yesterday as I was exiting the bathroom of the company that I work for I was struck with a bit of an odd thought. There's really no good reason for this thought and no real reason I want to know the answer other than to possess said knowledge. Yet, I really do want to know. Here's the question:

Why did we start wearing underwear?

Okay, I know it's a weird question and, no, I'm not anti-underwear but, well, I'm curious. Before you (all three of you who maybe read this every now and then!) start hitting me with your takes on the whole concept and development of boxers, briefs, and brassieres, let me offer some of my ideas and thoughts on this critical topic.

1.) I'm not talking about women's undergarments here, particularly brassieres. There is an obvious reason here for the advent of these items that falls under the heading, "support".

2.) A practical view of underwear may find it's birth in stylistic changes. Fashion changes and the need for something to guard against such evil forces as painful zippers and relentless buttons may be part of the reason.

3.) The Puritans. These were not people very keen on the idea of my skin showing, let alone getting a quick peek due to a strong breeze. Therefore, maybe underwear were their idea of preserving sexual purity and moral integrity?

4.) Warmth. We're all familiar with those Scottish fellas and what they don't wear beneath the kilt, but, doesn't it get a bit chilly there in merry old Scotland? Maybe they're just trying to keep their proverbial goods warm and toasty?

5.) Sin. Okay, admittedly this sounds a little deep for such a "trite" topic but I think there is some legitimacy to it. Consider the whole story of Creation and Adam and Eve. They sinned, realized that they were naked. Covering themselves with leaves, God eventually makes them some nice lambskin fashions. Perhaps underwear were another aspect of covering ourselves, of hiding our shame. And, we've got to admit, as a people, humans are pretty ashamed, with exception of some, of our cash and prizes.

Those are just some theories. While friends may think me a bit off, I'm actually going to have to Google this mess up and see the real story.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Beautiful Prayer

Here's a prayer that resounds with my heart that was in my reading this morning in Shorter Christian Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ,
true light of the world,
you guide all mankind to salvation.
Give us the courage, strength and grace
to build a world of justice and peace,
ready for the coming of that kingdom,
where you live and reign with the FAther and the
Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Review: Good Monsters - Jars of Clay

Another review for your, um, enjoyment! It really is a good album, by the way!

Good Monsters - Jars of Clay

Monday, October 02, 2006

Moving Forward

I've been rereading Brian McLaren's, A New Kind of Christian, with a good friend of mine and it's reawakened some thoughts within me. Actually, it's reminded me of where I've been and where I may be going. One particular thing has struck me thus far, and we're only a dash back into the book really. Early on, Brian, in offering up a reason and understanding of the book, presents a chart drawn up for him by, Andrew Jones. The chart essentially outlines a progression from 1 - 4, with portions 2 and 3 finding themselves sqeezing through a small area. Basically, 1 is when all is well, 2 is when we begin to question, doubt, and whatever else and begin to see the fuzzy lines around. It is here that we are most critical and deconstructive in our thinking. Part 3, however, presents a place of healing, a place where we progress constructively, seeking out answers for our questions rather than simply being critical. This leads us to part 4, wherein we rest in the new world we've found.

I'm finally finding myself in part 3. Honestly, I'm not entirely sure that I thought it would ever come. But it has. A renewed fervor for ministry is building underneath me, although a different view of ministry than I might have had before. A new view of God, of the world, of the sacred and the secular all lay before me and, rather than full-on cynicism and skepticism, I now view these things as opportunities and challenges. This is a huge change and is pretty important to me.

This renewal does not imply any desire to stop thinking, however. There will still be moments of wrestling with doubt, times of pain and suffering, and certain heartbreak. Some would accuse that statement of being pessimistic but I see it only as realistic. Life is that series of ups and downs on the proverbial roller coaster and we must acknowledge it as such. But, perhaps the real key is how we respond and in whom we place our trust? May I be encouraged in reflecting back upon my past and looking forward to the exciting place that is the future while always living in the present.

Friday, September 29, 2006

A Soccer Story...

So just recently we decided to enroll our son, Tyler, in soccer. We had missed the deadline due to the fact that we were kind of tied up with that whole "having a baby thing" but found out about an opening from a young lady Erin works with. So, we signed him up. It's been an interesting ride, to say the least. I struggle to sit through practices. It's tough watching him play with cones, roll in the grass, and whatever else you can think of while everyone else is actually learning soccer but I know it'll come.

Anyway, yesterday, as we arrived at practice, he was kind of amped up and the coach hadn't shown up yet. So, as Erin, Peyton, and I perched on some large rocks underneath a tree, I told Tyler to run over to another tree and back just to get some exercise. Sometimes it's good to be the parent! So, off he goes. I look to Erin for a moment, the look in my eyes saying, "Yeah...I know what I'm doing", when I turn back to look at Tyler and the tree. He's standing there in front of the tree, now tugging down his britches! Erin starts laughing incessantly, near crying, saying, "He's going to pee! He's going to pee!"

Good times. Long live soccer practice.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

One of My Heroes...

While this might seem a bit contrived or whatnot, I just felt compelled, in the small space of time that I have this morning, to share with you about one of the heroes in my life, my lovely wife, Erin. My wife simply amazes me. For whatever reason, it has just struck me more so lately. I've watched her negotiate the tricky hormonal waters of pregnancy with grace and ease, working through nearly the whole time up to birth. Rarely did she complain, whine, or moan about the crazy demands her body was making upon her. After the birth of both of our children, most recently, Peyton, I've watched her dilligently climb out of bed at all times of night in order to feed and soothe our new little one. As circumstances have deemed for our life at this time, she's had to go back to work but, each and every night, she still pulls herself from slumber to love on this little bundle of joy. She stands as the more lucrative breadwinner in our family, a fact that brings both frustration and pride to my heart, and definately has the better financial head on her shoulders. She continues on hard with her schooling, hopefully to be completed in December, while all of this presses on her. On top of it all, she puts up with a husband who has hemmed and hawed over his place in this world. I could go on and on but, essentially, I've said all of that to say that, well, I really love my wife.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006