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Archive for December, 2009

For Sale

For those who read this here blog via a Feed Reader of some sort, you may not have noticed that I threw in a new section here at the actual site. I’ve started a small list of things for sale that I hope to add to as time goes on. I think I’ve run out of physical room for much of the stuff I’ve accumulated so I’m hoping to find a new home for some of these things with you guys.

If you’re bored, please take a look and see if there’s anything that strikes your fancy. Happy browsing.

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Last night I attended a Dave Matthews Tribute Band performance at the House of Blues here in Houston thanks to free tickets provided by the HOBHouston on Twitter. I wasn’t really sure what to expect – DMB is a pretty serious band and to cover them surely takes more than adding “Tribute” to the band name. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Those guys were good! There’s this precision to DMB’s playing that was sometimes missing but these Tribute guys held up well.

When I first walked in, I noticed the lead singer had a Dave Matthews look going on which made me laugh. But he was good. He sang well, and his playing was no joke. They even pulled in a good-sized crowd. I think the crowd also really enjoyed the band, as was evidenced by the abundant “dancing,” though I’m not sure if the drinks helped play a small part in that.

The whole night made me think about the phenomena of cover bands and imitation in general. I mean no disrespect to the band who played as they are great musicians offering a performance of some great music. They don’t claim to be anything more than a band offering tribute to another band. That’s cool. And this ain’t really about them.

When someone comes up with something that is great or novel, there are immediately a couple dozen imitators to cash in on the success and popularity of the original. They’ll copy the basic formula and slap a new name or gimmick to it and hope to find the same success as the first idea. But I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t roll their eyes at the sight of the copycats after they’ve experienced the real thing.

Sometimes the copycats offer a more affordable option to the real thing and that makes it a viable choice. I often buy generic brand soda, though it was an afterthought to the original Coke or Pepsi. It’s a cheaper copycat, with arguably little difference in taste (sorta…).

This becomes more lame when businesses, organizations or churches adopt methods that were successful for someone else and then try and apply it to their own plans and wonder what happened when it doesn’t work for them and why people aren’t drawn to it. They often forgo the step of assessing what is right for them at a particular time and they too quickly adopt someone else’s winning method hoping to find the same results.

Here’s an example: I’ve essentially stopped listening to mainstream Christian music. One reason is because the local station has poor reception on my side of town. The other, more dominant reason, is that the quality of music is awful. Yeah. Thoughtful songs have been replaced by clichéd drivel. I do, however, find hope in artists like Sara Groves, Randall Goodgame, Derek Webb, Andrew Peterson, Andrew Osenga and the like who write with a sincerity and honesty that doesn’t get heard much. I cringe when I hear Christian music that is directly copied from popular, non-Christian artists in terms of instrumentation and sound. They’re not even hiding the fact that it’s not original anymore. After Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song” was first released I remember soon hearing a Christian song that sounded eerily similar to the piano rhythm of the intro of the song. I actually thought it was “Love Song” until I heard a few more seconds of the song and realized I’d been had.

I understand that sometimes Christians want to create a safer, cleaner alternative to some of the filth that exists in the world. But is it necessary to completely sacrifice artistic vision in the process?

If there’s something popular out there it seems the Church will find a way to create a lame, Christian copycat product. There’s little creativity invested and it shows. Cringe.

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I’ve seen churches find great successes in adding various services, Bible studies, cell groups to their regular routine. I’ve then seen other churches also notice these successes and, wanting such things for themselves, adopt the exact same methods and programs hoping to ensure the exact same results only to be greatly disappointed soon after. Why?

This is not always easy for me. When I see something work for someone else, whether it be musical taste, fashion sense, church leadership, teaching style and I witness their successes with it I often feel the need to adopt such things for myself, not realizing I do a disservice to myself in the process. I don’t allow myself to grow for myself, to think, create or stretch for myself.

Just because something works for one person or group does not mean it will surely work for you. I believe it’s more important to find what works just for you, even if it looks like a huge step back in comparison to what everyone else is doing. You will be where you are supposed to be and you will grow how you need to grow and you will be better for it.

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Man, that guy don’t take mess from no one.

HT: Eugene Cho


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RIP, Oral Roberts, 1918-2009

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Remember The Time

It’s easy for me, after neglecting prayer time with God, to return to him discouraged about life and now armed with a list of things that need to be improved in my life. I sometimes wonder why certain events in my life have turned out far differently than how I first joyfully expected them to and go. I turn to God disappointed and question whether He still hears me or if I’ve done something to royally screw up my life and God’s work in me.

I have to stop and remember where I am and how I got to this point in the first place. I’m here because of God’s goodness, guidance and grace. I can’t simply forget about the countless amazing things he’s done in my life when the next unfortunate event comes across my path. What does he have to do prove that he’s on my side? He’s already done it. I’m the idiot who forgets it and questions his loyalty and love over and over.

I’m reminded of Moses and the people of Israel wandering around for years before reaching their Promised Land. Moses has to remind the people at different times to remember what God had done for them, how he got them out of slavery in Egypt, how he saved them from the Egyptians who chased them, how they weren’t in need of clothes and shoes after spending 40 years rocking the same threads, how he fed them in a place that couldn’t possibly sustain that many people.

It’s like Passover, where time is set aside to remember what God did in saving the people while in/from Egypt. Sometimes we have to set aside time and make ourselves remember the good things God has done for us before we think about how we’re not currently getting what we want.

Thanksgiving is a handy holiday in forcing Americans to remember the many reasons we have to be thankful for everything in life. Be it once a year, once a month, or every day – try and find time to remember the abundance of good things that make up your life and give thanks for those as well as for the things you can’t remember.

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Inspiring

I listened to Saleim Kahleh share tonight how many years ago a simple invitation he received from a friend led to his conversion from Islam to Christianity and how it eventually led to the conversion of his entire family from one faith to the other. Hearing him speak reminded me of a conversation I had with Roommate Tanner several years ago in our apartment in Tulsa. He was talking about the artists who influence other influential artists. The influences of influencers.

I think I remember him talking about how they’re usually on the fringe and often lesser known than the influential people they have an impact on but, all the same, they’re vitally important for the inspiration they spark. I think we were talking about music and video during the discussion but tonight I was reminded of the reverberations one person’s actions can trigger in all areas of life.

It’s at times a heavy thought to imagine yourself inspiring others; it becomes even more humbling imagining the effect you have on those who may influence the hundreds, the thousands, and so on. Maybe it’s not something we’re aware of – maybe we never see the full reach of our actions. But I believe it’s reason enough to treat my actions and my words toward others with caution and respect and love. I may never know the value those moments may hold.

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