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Archive for April, 2008

Please Check it Out

You have to go and check out Shaun Groves blog and read his most recent posts. He’s on a trip to the Dominican shooting a video for Compassion International as a sort of behind-the-scenes look at what life is like for the children living there and the impact that a sponsor with Compassion can have on their lives.

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-I’m really digging The Weepies’ new album. So good. My personal favorite track so far (as if I could really choose just one) is “How You Survived the War.” You should really check out this album. You can find it for just $5 at Amie Street (at least for now).

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-I was thinking today that if McDonald’s should, for some reason, honor the Houston Rockets they should pay tribute to one of our star players and name a breakfast sandwich the “Tracy McGriddle.” They’d sell like Hotcakes; however, people would soon regret it when, coming so close to finishing the sandwich, they start choking*.

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-I’m watching an episode of The West Wing called “Bartlet for America.” Man, what a good episode.

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-How on earth is Charlie Sheen Martin Sheen’s son? I mean, look at Martin Sheen’s performance on The West Wing. Masterful. Then compare it to Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men. Absolutely awful. Two and a Half Men is a terrible show. It is not funny. At. All. How it was ever labeled “America’s Number 1 Comedy” I will not understand. I am only left praying for this country’s stability. (If you watch Two and a Half Men and find it hilarious I may claim to never know you.)

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-You know those cameras that are showing up on more and more intersections? You know, the ones that are used to catch you running a red light? They’re all over the place here in Houston. I haven’t figured out at what point running the light constitutes “running a red light.” My theory is that you don’t get ticketed when the light turns red only as you’re driving through the intersection. Can anyone verify this or show a ticket proving my theory wrong?

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*I kid Tracy McGrady! I have nothing but love and respect for the guy and mostly disagree with people’s opinions that he’s not a clutch player. Go Rockets.

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Weekend Update








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Awareness Test


Stolen from Brant Hansen

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Rich

I was excited. I was more than excited. That which I dreamed/obsessed about for so long was finally waking into reality. I couldn’t contain my delight as I held him in my arms for the first time almost six years ago, knowing I could call him my own. I knew he could handle anything but I made sure to be especially careful when holding him, carrying him around or just showing him off.

I realized yesterday that Rich’s birthday passed just a few days ago so I thought I’d take a moment and share about the one who has meant so much to me over the past six years.
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I don’t mean it lightly when I say that he’s special. Rich is my dear Taylor 414ce acoustic guitar. And he’s a fine piece of work, if I may say so myself. Somewhere between 2000 and 2001 I knew that there was only so far I could go with my then current guitar, who to this day remains nameless but loved. I had a journey to endure and he wasn’t up for the challenge. I needed a new companion, one who not only could face the next battle but many more to come. I spent the next year in and out of music stores testing out guitars, trying to find the one for me.

Hundreds of guitars were put through the test, from a wide variety of makers and an even wider margin of prices. My goal was to be realistic in selecting a guitar (price-wise) but not so much that I’d choose one I could simply afford but may one day regret and possibly neglect. Comparisons were made from store to store and I made mental notes everywhere I went, however I kept finding myself drawn to the Taylor 414ce. Everything about it suited me and I adored it. I kept an open mind, though, and continued to shop around for the course of a year. Sure enough, in each store I’d end up with a 414 in my hands, as if I were led to it by some musical divining rod.

In May 2002, I knew it was time. The week my sophomore year of college ended and the weekend before I left for an ORU Music Ministries Tour of the East Coast, my brother and I drove to Mars Music in Oklahoma City, where I learned they had a couple of Taylor 414s in stock. I can’t remember how long I spent playing the two guitars, comparing them, listening to find which one was speaking to me. All I know is that one of them did leave the store with me and I knew it was the start of something great between us.
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I named him Rich because of the influence the music and life of Rich Mullins had on me. I wasn’t really a devoted fan of Mullins like many were/are; he did, though, always stand out to me as an artist that wrote, sang and lived from a place of honesty that, sadly, seemed so rare in others. I wanted those characteristics in my music and he was who I most admired at the time. I have since grown to love and appreciate Rich Mullins’ work more than I ever have. “Rich” was an easy and fitting choice for my new guitar, which I knew would be around me for a long time to come. I loved this guitar and was so excited to call it mine. I was especially excited to take it out on the road with me right away and break him in properly. Oh, how I now regret those thoughts and the words “break him in.”

Our East Coast Tour team headed out the week after school ended and one of our first stops was a youth group in a small town called Peaster, Texas. The usual routine for our services was to set up our equipment, sound check, maybe eat a small meal, pray and then have some fun worshiping with music and testimonies/thoughts from members of the team. Here in Peaster everything went as planned. We set up, did a sound check, had a bite to eat provided by the church, and then prayed. I went back to the stage to check out my guitar rig, like I normally did before we started playing, when I noticed something terribly wrong. There was Rich, lying face down on the ground in a pool of blood. Well, there wasn’t really any blood but he was still lying there on the ground. When I left before our prayer time he was sitting peacefully on his guitar stand. And now this.

I inspected the guitar quickly and noticed right away there were a couple of new scratches that didn’t exist just hours before. I was crushed. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t figure out exactly how it happened or, maybe, who caused it to happen. I knew there was no time to dwell on it so I hid my pain for the moment and pushed through what was a relatively good service. While we were packing up I felt I should face reality the hard way and get used to the new scratches on Rich, who was in my possession for only a week by that point. As I followed a scratch with the tip of my finger my eyes drifted and then caught sight of it. And it hit me: “A couple of scratches – of course, that’d be too easy! You know you wouldn’t get off that easily! Fool!” There, below the pickguard was a crack about four inches in length. I couldn’t stand any longer. I was devastated. What had I done to poor Rich? Would he even make it through this? (As you may be aware, cracks are pretty bad for wood, particularly wooden instruments. Especially a wooden instrument that cost a young college boy a lot of money and was owned for only a week.)

I ended up playing Rich for the rest of the tour, rather than sitting him out. I sent him off to be repaired when I got home, which ended up costing me an additional $400 (there was not only a crack but bracings that had fallen within the guitar). Not so much fun, there. But Rich was whole again and I couldn’t be happier about that.
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So it’s been six years and Rich is playing and sounding better than he ever has. We’ve travelled a lot of miles, driven around the country, even crossed a few oceans together. He’s been played by so many different people, some close friends, some strangers. He’s easy to get to know, too, so don’t be shy. He’s been borrowed, banged up, scratched but I don’t mind so much now and I don’t think he does either. I think he’s happy being loved. I realize things don’t have to be perfect in order to be great or do great things. Sometimes the flaws make you that much more unique and special and more yourself than you would be if you were whole.

Rich and I have been through a lot. Other than Christ Himself no one knows more about me; nor have I opened myself up to anyone else like I have to Rich – he’s heard it all. He’s been used to give worship to the Lord, lead others in worship, he’s been part of numerous wedding ceremonies, some recordings and can be remembered for sparking countless spontaneous sessions in the park on beautiful spring days. He’s made friends all over the globe and I think he’s only just begun his journey. We’ve got plenty more to see, buddy. Thanks for being up to it.


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Imitating Christ

The Imitation of ChristIn 2001, on a worship tour with ORU Music Ministries, my team and I found ourselves spending our afternoon off wandering a mall somewhere in southeast Australia. I gravitated toward the book store, as I tend to do, and toward the Religion section, as the young Theology student in me took over. I wanted a book to read throughout the rest of the tour, something engaging for those van rides across the coast and those (rare) quiet moments we’d have with nothing else to do. I scanned the books, saw many familiar authors, many unfamiliar but no titles which called out to me. As I was leaving empty-handed I noticed the clearance bin near the entrance of the store. I casually rummaged through the scattered books until I found one that seemed a little out of place with its overtly Christian title. It looked like an enjoyable read and the price was just right (thanks, clearance bin) so I bought it.

There are very few books that I’ve come across that I’ve valued as much or held as closely as Thomas a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ, the book I found that day in the clearance bin. So many books today (and I’m talking about Christian books) serve as a loudspeaker for an author’s personal beliefs, a tool to sell the world on his opinions. That’s not bad at all, I just personally tire of that easily. Thomas’ book is so infused with Scripture it’s easy to accept and agree with the claim on the back cover: “Only the Bible has been more influential as a source of Christian devotional reading than The Imitation of Christ.” It’s beautifully simple at times, often gentle but with the right amount of force in persuading the reader to strive to be more Christ-like. Here’s a sample:

Chapter 7: Avoiding Vain Hope and Self-Conceit

A fool is he who puts his trust in men or created things. Do not be ashamed to serve others for the love of Jesus Christ and to be reckoned as a poor man in this world.
Do not rely on yourself, but place your trust in God. Do whatever lies in your power and God will assist your good intentions. Trust neither in your own knowledge nor in the cleverness of any human being; rather, trust in God’s grace, for it is He who supports the humble and humbles the overconfident.
2. Glory neither in wealth, in you have any, nor in friends, if they are powerful, but boast in God, the giver of all good things, who desires, above all, to bestow Himself on you.
Do not boast about your good looks nor your body’s strength, which a slight illness can mar and disfigure. Do not take pride in your skills and talents lest you offend God, to whom you owe these very gifts and endowments.
3. Do not esteem yourself as someone better than others lest, perhaps, you be accounted for worse in the eyes of God, who knows what is in men’s hearts. Take no pride in your good accomplishments for God judges differently than men and it often happens that what is pleasing to men is actually displeasing to God.
If you see anything good in yourself, believe still better things of others and you will, then, preserve humility. It will do you no harm if you account yourself as worst of all; but it will very much harm you to think that you are better than everyone else. Peace dwells in a humble heart, while in the heart of the proud man there is envy and resentment.

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