I remember when I was young and if I set a cup or soda (pop if you are from the mid-west) can on the coffee table or end table I would always hear “please use a coaster.” I never really understood the idea behind it until I became an adult and had a place of my own, a coffee table of my own. The idea of protecting the items that I purchased became much more important to me after I had to pay for them.

So why do people use coasters? Besides protecting you valuables the idea of a coaster makes it impossible unlikely that a condensation ring or sticky soda ring is left behind. In reality it’s a fantastic invention (even if it is just a piece of cardboard) that if properly used serves its purpose.

…but…I don’t use them!

Why?

Because the more I thought about their purpose, I started thinking about my life, my existence on earth. When I get a drink and put the glass or can on the coaster I simply drink it and then throw the can away or put the glass on the counter or it he sink. If I look 10 minutes later you would never know that a drink had ever been there. When I don’t use a coaster that ring remains, reminding me that I had that 140 calorie Coke against my better judgement or that the water I had was a good decision. The ring is a reminder that the beverage was once there. That’s what I want from my life! I want to leave rings everywhere I go. Hopefully the rings I leave will be positive and inspire others to make good choices as well, but maybe the bad rings will help others learn from my mistakes.

Whether you grew up in the church or not, everyone has been asked “what do you want on your tombstone when you die?” I’ve pondered that from time to time, wondering if my legacy will be one that many will recognize, that many will celebrate. In other words I don’t want to be forgotten when I am gone, I want others to remember my passions and carry my flag when I no longer can.

I hope that you decide to stop using coasters. I hope that you leave your mark on this world and everyone around you. Don’t play it safe, get a little crazy and leave some rings on some tables.

Posted: May 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

// Disc Golf //

Posted: May 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

Recently a few of the guys at Summit Ridge Church got me hooked on Disc Golf. If you don’t know what disc golf is, simply put, it’s like ‘real’ golf but with frisbees instead. If you still don’t understand here is a video on how to play. I figured after my knee surgery, this would be a great way to ease my way into more strenuous activities but I soon found that I was watching videos on how do play better and what discs to buy for different types of throws. For those of you wondering about the different discs…again its like real golf in the aspects of clubs. Some discs curve more than others, some fly longer than others, etc.  This is my bag of ‘clubs’:

Each disc does something different, its a part of the whole. Without the others the job can get done, but its not done in the best way possible and the strengths of each disc is not being used to its potential.

The body of Christ is the same way. Just like the discs, we are all gifted differently. The strength of one person may not be the strength of another but when we work together, the goal can be achieved efficiently and with higher quality.

In 1st Corinthians 12, Paul writes about the body of Christ and its many parts. If you read verses 14 – 26, Paul clearly states that each individual part of the body NEEDS the others, that we are to care for the other parts of the body that are not our own. It is the differences in all of us that make up the body of Christ and when one part of the body suffers, we all suffer as a result.

A few verses later Paul talks about striving to better our gifts, to grow in the gifts that are the most helpful to the body of Christ. Even then he breaks to give an amazing piece of wisdom. Chapter 13, 1-7 gives the definition of love and states that even with all the gifts that we are given if we do not use them, grow them, grow others and grow the Kingdom, IN LOVE, we have gained nothing. In other words we can grow our gifts and we can walk with others that are doing the same, but when we are weak or broken, or if another is weak or broken, if we do not love, the body is broken, we are broken…all of us, together.

Spiritual gifts are given to us to bless the Lord, to honor and praise Him. We should affirm others gifts as they appear to us, we should nurture the gifts that we have and grow in them. It takes support and practice.

What I found with disc golf  is that just like anything else that you are trying to learn it takes practice. A lot of practice. There is so much to learn when you take on something new or try to grow in your abilities. The joy of the journey is that, whether its disc golf or spiritual gifts, whether you are playing in a foursome or having community with your church family, the people around us make us better and push us to grow, and growth is good.

This year marks my 10-year High School reunion. Besides wondering where the time has gone, I have been trying to figure out what the point is in attending such a reunion. Is it to compare lives with the people that you grew up with? Is it about remembering all the great times we had back when we didn’t have to be responsible adults? Better yet, maybe awkwardly reconnecting with an ex that, like you, has moved on in life and started a family of his or her own.

I have contemplated whether or not I wanted to be involved in this event for some time now and have come to a rather interesting outcome. Let me explain.

In high school I never really fit in. I was a music nerd, a band geek, and rightly labeled as such. I was band President, choir Treasurer and involved in every musical ensemble that my school had to offer. It was that label that kept me from attaching to a certain group for fear of continued judgment of the fact that I loved music and was good at it.

It was the invite to the reunion that caused some of those old memories to come back. The funny thing was that instead of feeling hurt or angry for the past, the things that were pointed in my direction back then, I began judging the very people that judged me all those years ago. I found myself looking up classmates on Facebook and looking at my old yearbooks picture by picture remember just how badly so and so had treated me. I thought about the ‘jocks’ the ‘popular girls’ and the ‘girls that got around’ and started judging them for all the things they did back then and the fact that they are surely the same today as they were 10 years ago. I was doing the exact thing to every one of those people that they had done to me while we were in school.

As I searched out my classmates I noticed that many now have families of their own, successful jobs and many have come to know the Lord. In my mind I was thinking ‘there is no way (insert name) is a Christ follower. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Who am I to judge? Who are any of us to judge each other?

In John 8, Jesus forgives the adulterous woman from a crowd of religious leaders and others that want to stone her for her sins. I found myself standing in that crowd ready to throw stones at people I no longer know, simply judging them for things they had done.  At this point I could all but hear Jesus saying, “let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”

It would be interesting to see if the “adulterous” label followed the woman or if her new life was started fresh in the eyes of those who previously judged her.

When we enter into community with others, we learn each other’s stories, the past, the redemption of that past, and the transformation to our new selves. I would like to challenge you, in your times of fellowship with one another, not to judge but rather to forgive the past, celebrate the redemption of that past and walk along side one another in love as our lives are transformed by God’s radical and unending grace.

As a musician, you always strive to do better, learn more about your craft and expand your skill set. It’s a constant battle of thinking how can I do better, telling yourself you are good enough to even do the things you are doing now. You practice not only your instrument, but your writing, in an attempt to find that connection with anyone that will listen. At the same time you walk a tightrope knowing that at any moment your abilities could be torn to shreds by a criticizing word. The truth is musicians are the craziest people out there. We ask people to “listen to this new song I wrote,” fully knowing that we are giving them the opportunity to dismantle the very thing we pour our hearts into for hours, days and sometimes years. Its hard. Everyone has an opinion, a criticism, a suggestion. After we get over ourselves and our anger with the person WE asked for critique, we realize that they are usually right and we get back to it. Nose to the grindstone. We try new things, we write 3 lines of a song and throw the paper in the trash because it’s not perfect. The truth is we strive for a perfection that will never come. I recently read an article that you can find HERE that talks about practice. It hits on the point that the idea of practice isn’t to be perfect but to make mistakes and learn from them. INSERT LIFE LESSON HERE. I love this paragraph in the article:

But then there are times when this no-mistakes-allowed definition of perfect practice makes us afraid to try a new way of doing things – something that might help us take our playing to a new level in the long term, but make us sound worse in the short term.

Or times when we are afraid to stretch ourselves. Reluctant to explore the edges of our current technical ability to see what cool things we might be capable of. Unwilling to really take some risks and go for broke in such a way that might lead us to fall on our face – but could also produce something very compelling to listen to. Far too many students I’ve spoken with are afraid to experiment and risk sounding bad even in the practice room, fearing the judgment of students who may be passing by or eavesdropping.

I want to be trying new things, stretching my abilities and risk sounding bad, why, because as a musician that’s where we  find our love for music. Not in the familiar, everyday stuff that we know we can do, but in the things that we can’t do. The things we strive for and achieve, no matter how long it takes to get it right. The best part is…when we do get it right, there is always something more we can learn, something new we can try. It’s a never ending cycle. It’s an unending love / hate relationship that us musicians live for. It’s our passion.

So I was thinking about heaven the other day. What it will be like. The truth is, it will be beyond all expectation or imagination. It’s still fun to consider the possibilities, the endless imaginative encounters that could occur. I think about meeting all those characters from the stories I’ve read in the Bible, asking them questions, finding out if they struggled with the same things that we deal with today and what was ‘left unsaid’ in their written accounts. I imagine a new body that doesn’t ache and crack, a new knee, and walking barefoot on the streets of gold.

I know its strange but I would love to take a look back into history, see all those events that shaped the world. I would love to know the story behind the JFK assassination, walk the decks of the Titanic, experience D-Day, not from books but from a first person perspective. It would be interesting to see if you could change significant events in history what would change in the future, and then be able to change it back. From the Civil War to Pearl Harbor to 9/11 what could have changed if one decision would have been different? I would love the chance to meet Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, Robert E. Lee and other figureheads of American History, just to know who they were apart from written history.

I love to imagine the chance to play music with the cornerstones of different musical genres. Getting the chance to jam with guys like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie, Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury and Elvis, to name a few, would be invigorating. I would love to watch an all-star cast of musical talent on the stage together in perfect harmony, not clashing because of ‘musical differences.’  I get goose bumps just thinking about the amount of joy that would bring.

I think about pulling out a Driver on the 1st tee of a beautiful golf course and rubbing shoulders with Payne Stewart, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, and Seve Ballesteros. Yes I know its technically a 5-some but in my heaven thats OK cause no one is in a hurry.

Yes I know this is all wishful thinking but I’m a dreamer. Sure sounds cool to me thought!

Life / Music

Posted: November 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

There are things in life that get you from day to day. Things that make bad days better and good days great. Music and I connect. We always have, but sometimes life gets in the way. Between moving from Las Vegas to Colorado back to Las Vegas, and everything that comes with finding work and trying to provide for my family, I lost touch with the thing that keeps me…..me.  It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down on the computer and just listened to some music and over the last few days I had the chance to just take some time and reconnect with the art that I love. The beat, lyrics, melodies and emotions of the songs, it all felt so new to me. Almost like there was new life in it for some reason. I sat for 2 hours listening to songs and watching videos of different songs, drumlines and worship. Man it felt good! It’s Time to make this a part of my routine again. Grow in my craft, more and more ,by learning from others. I’m glad I took the time.

Life lesson #1043:  Dont forget to take time for your passions.

If you take the time to do the things you love, your days will be brighter and full of life.

In these times, where the economy is slowly making a comeback, it can be really easy to focus on things that are negative and not going your way. Its easy to find myself leaning towards cynical and downtrodden, but the more that i have seen myself walking down that road i have really worked on keeping myself positive. Like any other human being there are times that the frustration takes over and i find myself allowing my emotions to take control of me and 99 times out of 100 i end up regretting something i said or did because of it. I have made the choice to, when i become consumed by the negativity, to force myself to think of the things that i have going for me.  As i have practiced this concept i have come up with quite a list of things that make me realize that i dont have it nearly as bad as many people in these trying times.  Here are just a few of the many things that keep my head above water when i feel like im starting to sink.

1. My Girl – I have never experienced being with someone that love me unconditionally and without ceasing. Its a great feeling to know that when i am frustrated and at the end of my rope i can lean on her to support me and keep me sane.  Its so easy keep going when you have the support and love that Taylor gives to me daily.  I only hope that i give back to her what she gives to me even if only in part. I love you baby!

2. My Family – I couldnt be more thankful that my parents have been willing to put up with me in their home after being on my own for 2 years prior to the downturn.  Ill admit there are some hard times and some times that i think id be better of roughing it, but the truth is i know that they are there for me and will be there when i need them. Its also been really great being able to hang with my brother, it was pretty hard being away from him before i moved out here.

3. My Music – Im not really sure where i would be without music.  Its all i’ve really been good and and i know that its a total gift from God that He’s given me the ability and heart to lead others in worship.  It doesn’t stop at leading worship though, i’ve been really focused on writing music lately and have been able to vocalize a lot of the things that are going on in my life that i think people can connect with no matter what point of life they are in…I hope!  No word yet on when any sort of recording will materialize but i did just acquire the ability to do some home recording via ProTools so more on that to come.

Last But Not Least

4. My Entertainment – Movies, Sports, Video Games, FACEBOOK, Dinner, you name it, but there is something about being able to get away for a while and just have fun.  Gift cards to movies and dinner, watching baseball or football on tv, call of duty, and yes, facebook are outlets for me to keep my sanity.  Although i dont have the money to go out all the time, the times that i do get to have a night on the town i take full advantage of enjoying the time with the people i love and care about the most.

What are some things that have kept you going in hard times?  When all else fails, fall on those things that bring you comfort and joy.  Use them to keep you energized and positive even in times of worry or trouble.