Month: September 2012

Sunday Tunes: Ben Rector

Today’s Sunday Tune selection is none other than Ben Rector. I say that as though you should know who he is and well you should. The man is a lyrical genius and his melodies in combo with his lyrics will leave you wanting more. I discovered the Tulsa, Oklahoma native while searching through Adele’s music on YouTube about three years ago and I have been a huge fan ever since. Rector’s writing feel good music for the whole family and suitable for any occasion. The artist is currently based in Nashville, TN and said to be touring with NeedtoBreathe this Spring.

I look to the day when the One Direction’s and Ke$has are put to the rest so the real talent like Ben can shine effortlessly. Today’s selection is When a heart breaks. My wife fell in love with this song because she said it described how she felt during her battle with Aplastic Anemia. If you want more info on the artist. Check it out here on Wikipedia and the website for tours, albums and more info.

My Ben Rector Faves
White Dress
Need You Tonight
Autumn

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Walk off the Edge

I’m so afraid of what God will do if I decide to let people in. So instead of  allowing people to invade my personal space I only give them the shallow surface. I keep them at bay with witty words and sarcastic humor that doesn’t cause for me to be transparent. I’ve become such an expert at this self-defense mechanism that I often don’t realize I’m doing it.

I was sitting in the mall today just reading a magazine and drinking lemonade. There was a woman sitting next to me and she appeared to be engaged in a heavy conversation. There was such emotion in her voice and worry painted on her brow. Well, given my earthly nature I began to eavesdrop on the conversation. Now, I’d like to tell you that I was only listening because we were sitting close, but that’s not the truth. I’m just nosy. Don’t Judge Me. She was talking a female friend or acquaintance out of committing suicide. Apparently, the individual had been dealing with a lot of emotional trauma in her life. Issues ranging from the lost of a parent in 911 and a friend enlisting in the army. I know ,it sounds storybook, but it’s what I heard. And what alarmed me is not once did I hear anything about the love of Christ.

Anyways, it reminded me of how I go daily without letting strangers, friends or family members know about God’s Love because I’m afraid of what it will do to my world. How  it will change the way I do life? I keep refusing to walk off the edge for my God because I don’t want it to interrupt my plans. But why do I have plans when I should let God be in control. In short, I was thinking, what if I could have been the one to lend a few kind words, a smile or an opening of a door. What if that suicidal girl sat across from me in Sunday School or on the bus. What if shes in the cubicle next to me or my cashier?   Why do we continue to look over the edge in fear as supposed to having faith that God already has a plan? Is this anyway to live your life for Christ?

Scripture References

Mark 16:15-16
1 Thessalonians 3:2 NIV
www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
www.afsp.org

Sunday Tunes: Gungor

The Grammy nominated Gungor is not your typical Christian Music and I don’t even know if you can coin them as Christian. There writing style is uniquely poetic and complex in design. Their music addresses the problems of the heart and simply being human in an ever-changing sin ridden world. I love to describe to their music as “porch swing and coffee music only to be appreciated in the middle of God’s country.”

Here is a great video of Gungor describing their music and telling you all about the inspiration for their new album Ghosts upon the earth. It also provides a better feel for who they are as believers and musicians. I hope you fall in love with their work as much as I have.

One thing I really love is that they write lengthy pieces that actually allow you to reflect and praise God. It’s a beautiful thing because a lot of times when the words begin to speak to you in a song, it’s over. My Sunday Tune selection from them today is ‘Beautiful Things’ from the album Beautiful Things. One of my favorite lines in the song is “out of chaos life is being found in you” and this is so true. I believe the chaotic moments in our lives are where we typically come to meet Christ. It’s not the accidental epiphany of clouds and rainbows that some would have you to believe. I also encourage you to read Michael Gungor’s blog found on the website. Where he discusses openly his issues with life in general, church and Christianity.

My Gungor Faves
Beautiful Things
Dry Bones
We will run
God is not a white man

Inked Thoughts

I have been writing poetry since I could remember. I have about 5 or 6 journals that are filled with the rants of an emotional adolescent. I don’t even remember the rules and guidelines to writing proper poetry but I know that it was the best way for me to capture the vivid thoughts I had. And it was better than continuing to store my thoughts in dark places.

I can’t remember what I was feeling the day I wrote this. But it was probably feeling guilty about doing something I shouldn’t have. That’s when I was the best at writing, is when I was convicted about something that I knew God wouldn’t be pleased with. I hope you can relate but if not, simply take a moment and reflect on the things you might be storing in the dark corners.

Dark Corners

i’m so afraid of being judged
that i’m a prisoner to my flesh
i can’t allow anyone to come in
because the floors are dirty
and the walls are covered in grime
you’ll find flickering lights
and critters that scurry at noise
there’s a stench that plagues the nostrils
and a smoke that blurs the eyes
refrain from applying too much weight on the floor
to the quicksand, you’ll fall captive
i’d find you liar if you say you never been here before

Sunday Tunes: Jimmy Needham

Today’s Sunday Tunes selection is none other than the man himself. Jimmy Needham. I discovered Jimmy Needham when I began my conversion over to CCM Music and I have never turned back. I absolutely enjoy anything musically this man has ever created. I recently saw him live in Nashville and was shocked that it wasn’t a full house. He has a distinguished writing style that gives way to jazzy tones, electronic pop with an undertone of soulful swoon that will leave you wanting more.

Needham’s transparency with his pornography struggles was one of the reason’s I was able to connect with him and his music. Seeing as how I too was introduced to  porn at a young age and dealt with some of the same issues. You can often read his blogs that attack the issue head on in an attempt to assist others who also struggle. Here’s an exert from one of his previous write-ups:

“For a while I thought about sin, and in particular my porn addiction, as a violation of God’s law, the 10 Commandments.  I was committing various crimes against God’s standard and thereby indicted myself before a holy God.  My sin, my monster was primarily an activity-based issue.  Of course, the point of this blog is not to deny that.  The Bible is profoundly clear that our sins are activities of the mind and body against God’s perfect standard, His Law.  But I believe there to be an even more profound lens through which we can understand the monster of sin and in this case, lust:  Sin is not just a violation of Law, it is a violation of appetite.”

You can find it @ http://www.jimmyneedham.com/ under What Monster Movies And Porn have in Common, but be sure to read the preceding blog first. Titled All in The Family: Lust & Her Ugly Cousins

The song selection today is Jimmy’s Clear The Stage. An amazingly simplistic written piece of work that is sure to pick at your heart-strings. I like to consider myself to be a pretty passionate person when it comes to music. I can’t break down the technicalities of it by any means, its more about the lyrics and melodies. You can find out more on Clear The Stage here. And here’s a snippet of what Jimmy Needham had to say about the song. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

“The first time I heard this song as a high school student, it shipwrecked me. I don’t think anyone can be the same person after hearing this song. I’ll never forget hearing those words and immediately getting on my face before God. As the final track on the record, it’s a heavy way to close, but my hope is that by the end, every listener will say ‘I want more of Jesus and less of everything else.’”

My Needham Favs:
Clear The Stage
Rend
Fence Riders
If I Ever Needed Grace: Live/Acoustic
Before And After

Imperfect when Light Comes

First things first. We recently moved into this new apartment complex with this awful 1970’s inspired tropical pastel wallpaper that my wife and I refuse to let live. So I spent the first two months replacing it in both bathrooms. Yes, two months, not two weeks! She still talks about it…But anyways this leads me to today’s discussion of  how light reveals our imperfections.

You’ve heard this sermon many times before and it never gets old. You know- the one about Christians being light in the darkness. And this hit home with me in the simplest of ways Thursday morning. I went to our guest restroom to utilize the facilities and in that moment of glimpsing at the wall. I realized that the sunlight that was permeating through the cracks of door and highlighted some areas of this wallpaper I hadn’t fully painted. Well, for a moment I wanted be furious because I worked so hard to put this nightmarish wallpaper up. And the completion of this task alone left me feeling as though I found a cure for cancer.But we know that’s not the case. It also left me thinking that it’s really that simple . It’s as simple as stepping outside of our comfort zones to lend a helping hand, to say a few kind words, to put aside that anger and find resolution in order to be light.

It’s so easy to get caught-up in taking the worldy approach to issues in this life that we forget to be light in a dark place.  Pastor Mike Glenn of Brentwood Baptist Church once said that, “The world is angry at us (Christians) because we are not differnt enough.” I work in the restaurant industry and it is so easy to fall prey to looking like everyone else in an attempt to not be cast in the role of Jesus Freak. But this is something that I’ve slowly over time have learned to hone in on. And God in his own timing has equipped me with the skills to stand against these temptaions to belong when I should be standing out. I realize that everyones perfect in the dark, there’s nothing to shine light on the imperfections. But the moment light permeates through the cracks of a bathroom door. We’re all the same.

In short, I am so far from being the person that I believe God wants me to be. But everyday I am willing to journey with Him. And I’m here to tell you that there are days when I don’t have any idea what that looks like or who that person is. But every now and again. In the silence, He gives me a little glimpse into his plan. And I am comforted knowing that God has a plan for me. I’m in Awe! when I think of it. And there are moments in my depravity where it breaks me down and I find myself crying because I know that I’m always falling short.

Passages of Scripture for reference:
Ephesians 5:7-14
Isaiah 50:10
Luke 11:33-35
Romans 13:12

Sunday Tunes: All Sons & Daughters

Welcome to the first installment of Sunday Tunes. I’ll be giving you some of my favorite praise and worship selections from some of your favorite Christian Artists & More.

Today is All Sons & Daughters. David Leonard and Leslie Jordan teamed together at The Journey Church in Franklin, TN where the are currently Worship Designers in the Creative Arts Ministry. The best way to describe them is a snippet from their website:

“David & Leslie have found a way to capture the thoughts, emotions and sounds of their local church & put them into songs,” says Jay King, Integrity’s vice president of A&R/Artist Development. “All Sons & Daughters is more than a worship band…they represent us as people who are still on a journey. And they are creating the soundtrack for that journey.”

Here’s one of my favorite’s by the duo. This song is a great inspirational start to your Sunday Morning or any weekday. I hope you love it as much as I do.

All Sons & Daughters: Wake-Up Video

Sunday’s Best

You can’t wear that to church! You are no stranger to this phrase if you grew up in an African American household; or that of stern parenting.  You might have heard this phrase quite often. Or your church attire might have been picked out for you the night before and ironed. (Thank God for the dryer!) Either way I find myself often shocked or uneasy by what people choose to wear to worship on Sunday’s. I was taught that you wear the best you have to  God’s House in obedience to what the Bible say’s about modesty or simply out of respect for a God who died for you to have eternal life.

Now, I’m often conflicted with several things:

1.What is dressed up to me, may not be dressed up to you.
2.How much skin is too much skin?
3.Are hats appropriate or do they deter one’s focus?
4.Is it okay to dress up for Sunday service but not Wednesday night?
5.Well should we always be dressed up since Praising God in one way or another should always be taking place?

Here’s a snippet from a girl who’s friends brought to her attention the attire she chose to wear from day to day & to church. But this definitely doesn’t exclude men from the topic…

“My friends aptly nicknamed me ‘Scantily.’ When choosing what to wear I thought only of what would flatter me, what would bring more attention my way, and what most resembled the clothes I saw on models or other stylish women. I wanted to be accepted and admired for what I wore. I enjoyed my attire, the undue attention I received, and the way it stimulated my feelings.”

-C.J. Mahaney (church member interview)

I actually found myself falling into this slump of jeans and t-shirt as acceptable attire when we moved to Nashville. After realizing that most churches are trying to appeal to a wider demographic here by coining themselves as contemporary and accepting of all. Well, yes we should be accepting of all because I’m not naive to the fact that everyone’s wardrobe is limited due to financial situations.

Now, there will be some of you who will think:
Is this really that important?
I mean, shouldn’t we just be thankful that people are in church? Well, who’s the authority on Church fashion?
This is why I left the church in the first place.

And I really feel as though it should be common sense, but I’d be a fool. But anyways to wrap this up. All I’m saying is those of us that can afford to. Are typically dressing nicer to go to work, date-night, concerts, dinner or a family event than we do to Praise the one true God. When you take that last glance in the mirror, ask yourself, is my appearance worthy to be in the presence of Jesus?
Just think about.

Here are some Bible verses & Blogs on the topic I found to assist:

Is Modesty an Issue in the Church today? by John Piper
Modesty: God, My Heart, and Clothes (pt. 1) by C.J. Mahaney
Modesty to Kids by Julie Sanders
1 Timothy 2:3–10
1 Timothy 2:9
1 John 2:15