Monday, January 31, 2011

lost journal entry: bleeding roots.

i've collected and filled (some partial, some entirely) a handful of journals over the years. most of the journals are used for brainstorming. lately, i've been looking through some of them. i figured i'd scan in and upload some entries and then blog about it.

bleeding roots.
[journal entry from july 11, 2009 while at the DCLA event in Washington]

the sun gives life to the seed that is planted.
the seed takes root.
once rooted, a new source brings growth.
the roots are watered - which brings growth.
the water is blood-like for the tree.
it is the nutrition that it needs to thrive and produce fruit.
the blood saturates the soil - giving life to all things...
making dead things alive again.

light gives us life - shows us where true life takes place (deep within the soul). the light is of God - His Holy Spirit showing us the way to true life.
once seeds of faith are planted true growth only happens when one realizes and embraces the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. His blood drips down the roots of our soul - infiltrating our entire state of being. it is at that point when our dead-to-sin-hearts are given new life.
that new life then allows our faith to grow and eventually bear fruit - which is the evidence of the faith (in Jesus) that anchors us - deep down within the roots of our soul. we may bend and sway from time to time - but our lifeblood is rooted in Christ - giving us a strong, firm foundation.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


finding stuff. the more random the better.
i have a simple collection of found stuff in my office - most are mementos from days gone by; trips to here or there. some of the found things i know where found - but i know not from which they were. i simply can't remember.

a glass 946 mL milk bottle from the Caldwell organic Dairy farm (found in a soup kitchen in Portland, Maine)

a key to a lock to a door from who knows where. found in cushion of a recliner.

a green softball jersey with the number 34 and the name 'ED' on the back. found by one of my former students - given to me. now hanging on my wall.

i can't remember where i found this stick, but it's been on my desk for years. i think it has some sentimental value. i don't remember, though.

the EXIT sign was found in an old downtown church in Lexington, KY. we were doing 'demo' work - so that the basement could be remodeled into a kitchen and cafeteria to feed the homeless.

the tire tread is from the bus tire that blew just outside of Columbus on one trip south. it took hours on that Sunday afternoon to get the bent frame off and repaired.

there we sat... outside the repair shop... killing time... wasting time... frozen in time...

the Kodachrome slide was a special find - in the attic of an abandoned boarding school that at one time housed mentally ill teenagers. it's a picture of a dairy cow. i will never forget the haunting things written on that attic wall.

the randomness of found things is what makes finding them so interesting.

the more random, the better.

there are websites devoted to the like: Found Magazine is one of them.
old picture of someone's Sunday Best
letters written to mom from summer camp.
one piece leisure suits from the 70's (known to drive the ladies wild, so says the advert)

finding stuff.
because everything's got a story.
just like in the movie Amelie, when she finds an old tin box filled with a little child's trinkets and toys. she goes out of her way - many years later - to track down that child, now a grown man - so that she can give it back to him.

finding things. pure joy. because the memories associated with the finding are simply priceless.
what have you found lately?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

st. patrick's breast plate

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Friday, January 21, 2011

reign/rain. (lost journal entry from oct 31, 2008 - 2pm)

i've collected and filled (some partial, some entirely) a handful of journals over the years. most of the journals are used for brainstorming. lately, i've been looking through some of them. i figured i'd take a picture of some entries and then blog about it.

[the following journal entry was written while in the midst of 'worship' during a Youth Specialties training event in Pittsburgh in 2008]

worship music plays... it's praise... it's God centered.
i don't feel like raising my hands
my arms are i wrestling with something?
what am i waiting on?

"God with us... mighty to save"

voices raised... not mine. contemplative and silent.
that is my voice right now.
'Blah' is the word to describe me.

foot begins to tap.

i think i need to express myself.

it's like i've discovered a poem written by hand in a book --
but it is not my own. i'm borrowing the words.
are they someone i know? are they psalms of David?

"You are God with us, you are victorious, you are strong and mighty to save.
for your word stands true -- there is none like you. and when all else fails you remain."

when all else fails... why do we wait until all else fails? stupid human nature waiting... not on God - but on all of the other options to fail.

same mistakes repeated.

dumb. stubborn. silly. full of ourselves. unable to be filled by God.

glass full of water.
add water of God and it spills on to the ground. wasted. not in us. we are full. of it. not Him.

no room for God. no room for God to reign.
also, then, no room for His love + grace to 'rain' down on us/in us. we are full. can't experience the filling of God's grace reigning + raining onto + into us and our soul.

[my scribbled notes - tucked into a free journal i received while attending this youth workers convention in 2008.]

Monday, January 17, 2011

This is America? (Sarah Palin, Battle Hymns and Guns Ablazin)

America is addicted to guns. the more powerful, the better. the larger the magazine the better. the more automatic, the better.

how anyone can logically justify a need of any sort of assault weapon is beyond me. i don't think it can be done. what is even more amazing is that some Republicans have stated they wish more people would carry concealed weapons so as to somehow step in and 'take out' a lunatic killer.

what do they want? the old west back? it's a fantasy - that, perhaps, some civilian will step in and kill a killer... heaven forbid one to suggest that more terror would come if more people carried guns.

our country's infatuation with guns is astounding. just because the 2nd Amendment gives us the right - doesn't make it right (or even a necessity).

what's even more astounding is that some politicians (mainly on the right) have neglected to take responsibility and/or apologize for their past 'gun-related rhetoric.' apologizing for poor choice of words does not mean you are responsible for what took place in Arizona - but it would show the country that you are capable of acknowledging a misstep. what a lesson that would be to the children and youth of our country.

And now for something completely different:

Lord help us all...

(you've got to love the open Bible just below the pulpit... who should Christians worship? political leaders first - God, second... apparently?)

one last thought: today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. a day in which i hope we have all been reminded of the unifying power of non-violence and peace. peace brings unity - not force.

it is also a day to remember where our great country once was. it wasn't that long ago when segregation and (of all things) unity was considered to be communist. remember?

i pray for peace. i pray for unity. i pray for action - without rhetoric... without hate speech. if we really want the country to come together it's going to take a revolution - but not a revolution in which some 'take back America' or 'Reload', 'not with ballets, with bullets.' it will be a revolution of love.

love is what we need. both sides. love. but that might mean thinking before speaking... that will be the biggest challenge in today's 24/7 news world.

just my 2 cents.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

interactive worship: awaken/see afresh/live the change/pass it on

last year i read a review of the book Spiritual Intelligence on Jonny Baker's blog that piqued my curiosity. once the book was available in the United States i ordered it and read it last fall. Brian Draper wrote the book that looks at spirituality from a Christian perspective - but written for a wider audience.

Draper uses 4 icons to help guide the reader though a process of deepening one's spiritual focus in life.

the alarm clock icon is Awaken.
the eye is See Afresh.
the paint brush and palette is Live the Change.
while the arrow is Pass It On.

The book follows a pattern of these four icons while Draper also lists on his website a clearer understanding of what each of these four icons represents.

i liked the ideas found within the book (see my brief review on GoodReads) and felt compelled to design an interactive worship service based around the 4 themes Awaken, See Afresh, Live the Change & Pass it On. This time of worship meshed well with the natural tendencies of setting new years resolutions and what not - but i think this kind of service could work at any time.

this experience was also designed for a youth worship service - but i think it applies to all ages.

here is what we did:

introduction: God is doing a new thing.
18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
~Isaiah 43:18-19

brief overview of 4 themes: AWAKEN / SEE AFRESH / LIVE THE CHANGE / PASS IT ON

awaken: what was the top song of 2010? Katy Perry ~ California Gurls
(i played a 10 second snipit of that song on repeat)
What if this song were played on repeat indefinitely? it wouldn't take long to grow tired of it (some may already be tired of hearing it.) Why? because it would get old, etc.

it's a new year - and it's time for a new song. What will your song be for 2011?
are you awake enough to see what new things God has in store for you this year?
sometimes we need to slow down, look and listen for the the simple things in life - trying to get our attention.

showed short video Gentle Falling Snow (a simple video i made and posted on Vimeo)

see afresh: showed some photos from Steve McCurry (including his famous 'Afghan Girl" photo). talked about how art and photography, if studied and investigated - can help us 'see afresh.'
Each picture has a story behind it. What is that story? where is God in the image?

I also showed a series of 'found' images (lost photographs that have been found in random places).

this image from ASBO Jesus animator Jon Birch seemed relevant to 'See Afresh' also.

i finished up this segment with a brief reference to the Apostle Paul's transformation (Acts 9) where he was blinded on the Damascus road - but when the scales fell of his eyes - he saw a fresh vision from God. It was Saul/Paul's journey that was transformational - and enabled him to see something he had been missing (i.e. the truth found in Christ alone).

Peter Rollins once shared a story about Two Chimney sweeps that proved the point "it's the journey that is most important - not the destination."

live the change: the Parable of the Sower was then shared (Matthew 13) in a modern way (a surfing story created by a co-leader, Bryan).

Christ's challenge to be 'salt + light' was added to this. (from Matthew 5). Draper talks about this in his book: "salt doesn't tell you what to do. it simply is." light is the same way. live the change means grabbing ahold of the story of Christ and His redemption and 'living it' with action and word.

pass it on: how can we/should we 'pass it on'? check out 1 Peter 3:15. check out Matthew 28 (the great commission).
one easy simple and easy beginning step is what Draper calls the 'Smile Project.' it's easy - when you walk into a room of people, smile. watch for the reactions of others. watch how a simple smile can bring change (both in you and in others). watch how it can be contagious.

after this - we finished the worship with a time of interactive worship - a time for students to connect with God.
here is a brief description of each station.

interactive worship stations:
collection of interactive stations images [1] [2] [3] [4]

awaken station (a new leaf): various leafs were cut out and placed on a table. students were invited to list the high and low points of 2010 on one side. then they were to 'turn over a new leaf' and write hopes and dreams and goals for 2011 on the flip side. then they tacked the 'new leaf' side to a bulletin board.

see afresh (every picture tells a story): this station featured 48 images from the Youth Specialties publication Every Picture Tells a Story. the instructions were as follows: look and examine the image. what stories do they tell? what are the stories of their past... their future? then 'if one were to take a snapshot of your life, what would people see when they looked at it?

live the change (salt and light): on one side of the table were some flashlights. students were to shine the flashlight around the room and take note of how the light illuminates the things it shines on. they were then asked to write on Post-it notes 'how can you shine the light of Christ this week?'

on the other side of the table were some salted and unsalted Saltine Crackers. Students were to try one of each and to note the difference in taste. Then they were to write on Post-it notes ' how can you add flavor to your life and to the lives of others?'

pass it on: 5 or six different pieces of card stock were laying on a table with words like Generosity, Kindness, Stillness, Genuineness at the top. Students were invited to write, in their own words - how living this out would be a benefit to their life and to others.

one final station had a printout of The Lords Prayer (in NIV and Message translation). along with the text i had images from the deluxe version of Derek Webb's Feedback album (an instumental album based on The Lords Prayer). the images were painted by Scott Erickson and photographed by Jeremy Cowart. (feedback video promo on vimeo)

we had a good response to the interactive stations. thanks to Brian Draper for the inspiration.
it is my prayer that all who participated and interacted will be compelled - God willing - to Awaken, See Afresh, Live the Change and Pass it On. may you be compelled, also.

collection of interactive stations images [1] [2] [3] [4]

Tim Beck
youth pastor
Christ UMC Louisville

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


happiness is a warm gun
the number one
or the setting sun

those $40 dollar jeans
a way to a means
the innocence of teens

your fav. television show
the seeds that we sow
a candles glow

that billboard muse
the things that we use
the delta blues

watching things grow
nostalgic radio
green light 'go'

purported rebellion
mug shots of felons
that 'one in a million'

a hip hop lyric
a writer that's satyric
a groove atmospheric

happiness is a warm gun
a fortunate son
a rhyme that's done

Monday, January 03, 2011

Best of 2010

best albums of the year: 2010. i don't buy as much music as i used to - and most of my music these days is purchased as MP3's rather than CD's. but below is a list of some albums that struck my fancy this past year.

Ellem - Inside Still Beats
the kind of jovial indie-pop music that finds its way into a Volkswagen or Gap commercial. chewy goodness.

Twin Tigers - Gray Waves
this music is a hot mess. i don't know if it's anywhere near 'best of' quality - but i did write a review of the album back in May for Circle Six Magazine...

Phantogram - Eyelid Movies
catchy electro-rock with mixed male/female vocalists.

Broken Bells - s/t
any Danger Mouse collaboration is worth your time.

Carney - Mr. Green vol. 1
wow is this eclectic album... at times Queen... at times Black Crowes... and Zeppelin, too. vocals similar to Jeff Buckley. Testify sounds a lot like Whole Lotta Love.

Röyksopp - Senior
i've always been a sucker for instrumental electronic synth music.

Four Tet - There is Love in You
Kieran Hebden's post-electro-rock project. Circling is one of my fav. songs of the year.

Derek Webb - Feedback
an instrumental album based on The Lord's Prayer. this album grows on me with every listen.

Laura Veirs - July Flame
singer song writer with backing harmonies that reminds me of the Fleet Foxes. very simplistic. very enjoyable. one of my favorite finds of 2010.

Decoder Ring - They Blind the Stars, and the Wild Team
i've been a fan of this group since they did the soundtrack to the film Somersault. from Australia, Decoder Ring left their vocals behind on this album but the nearly 100 minutes does not disappoint.

Vampire Weekend - Contra

i avoided this album on purpose - mainly because of all the hype... but then, with iTunes gift cards to spend, i decided to sample Contra. What's not to like? Catchy hooks with a unique sound.

North Atlantic Oscillation - Grappling Hooks
another surprise find on iTunes and their sound is just that - surprising. described as post-progressive electronica rock, there's something new around ever corner, it seems. somewhat similar to a harder, edgier Engineers. reigning from Scotland with 'hazy vocals' and a big layered sound, NAO satisfies. Hollywood Has Ended hooked me.

Underworld - Barking
i've always been an Underworld fan - going back to the Pearl's Girl and Born Slippy days (thank you Trainspotting.) Barking was my first Underworld purchase since 100 Days Off - and although the sound of Scribble (track 3 from Barking) at first seemed to poppy for my taste - i realized that i couldn't stop listening to it. I'll be honest, i can't stop listening to this album. Always Loved Film is the best track.

Linkin Park - a Thousand Suns
start to finish, this is one fine concept album. everything flows together perfectly. most of the tracks might not be radio friendly, but who cares. i feel like this is the most creative album of the year and thus - i am listing it as my top album of 2010. for a track by track review of A Thousand Suns click here.

here is a recap of top albums from years past:

My Top Albums:

also this year - i read a record-high 43 books. i'm most proud of this accomplishment since a few years back the only reading i partook in was Sports Illustrated. I rather enjoy reading now. to see my list of books read in 2010 click on my GoodReads page.

My Favorites include The Year of Living Biblically, Cracking the Code, Sabbath and Other.

I (we) watched 164 movies in 2010. i started keeping a movie log in 2007. i plan on doing a better job of that in 2011 - with more online logs and mini-reviews.

fav. movies from 2010: Toy Story 3, The Secrets in Their Eyes, the 30 for 30 documentary series on ESPN