Wednesday, November 23, 2011


('there's got to be a better way' - my mantra as of late.)
('another world is possible - inspired by jonny baker.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

it's all about perspective

this past weekend, i led a retreat with the youth group and decided to become intentional about taking a simplified approach. i designed a series of mini sessions with the flexibility of adding to or deleting from any given session at any given time. the retreat was dubbed the Q Retreat. the Q stood for Quest - whereas looking at life's big questions involves a 'quest' of sorts, a journey leading deep into one's very soul.

perhaps the deepest question was this "What does your soul look like?"

Some inspiration for the retreat derived from Rainn Wilson's Soul Pancake website and book. Other ideas came from the power of music (U2 - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For; Katie Herzig - Make a Noise; Mumford & Sons - Awake My Soul etc), images ( - the artwork gallery), creativity (howies® - life is complicated), film (nameless moment from erwin mcmanus) and scripture (among others: james 4:7-10; john 21:1-14)

discussions ranged from 'How to deal with the unbalance of life' to 'Things we search for' and to 'Things that make life complicated'. At one point the students made a list of 'Life's Biggest Questions.' This, no doubt, was most meaningful and impacting.

After a lengthy discussion on the tough questions of life (why do bad things happen to good people?, how do i know God's calling on my life?, what is my purpose? etc.) i showed this video: (a video made In Association with: the Melbourne Skydive Centre)

Experience Human Flight from Betty Wants In on Vimeo. [info]

after it completed i said "The next time you get consumed with life's big questions, remember... someone in Australia is skydiving."

in other words: it's all about perspective. for the person experiencing human flight the view is simple yet magnificent... the challenge overwhelming yet exhilarating. basically, God is in control. He enables mankind to do great and mighty things. and some things can make our problems look small... from His perspective, there is a plan and that path leads to full life.

Later, after a discussion on life's big dreams and a challenge for students to 'dream big' i showed this video:

Experience Zero Gravity from Betty Wants In on Vimeo. [info]

after viewing it, i said "the next time you think and feel your dreams are too big to accomplish remember... someone is base jumping in Switzerland."

lastly, at the end of the retreat after a final discussion about how life can become overwhelming and tempt us to go back rather than go forward (see John 21) i showed this video:

I concluded by saying "the next time you let life overwhelm you remember... someone is surfing off the coast of California."

it's all about perspective. form God's POV he's got the everything under control. he's got a plan for one and all and his creation speaks of his power and might and order.

life is complicated - but when we utilize our senses to see, hear, taste, touch and smell all that God has for us our perspective suddenly simplifies our life. even if for a moment... it's a moment given to us by God himself.

it's all about perspective. sometimes a change of scenery is all we need...

God is good... All the time...

Friday, November 18, 2011

listening to (the history of...)

since may 25th, 2005, 56,725 songs have been counted as 'listened to' by Last FM, a scrobbling app that tracks songs played on iTunes and now Spotify. the number of songs listened to is assuredly much higher than 56 thousand - not every song has been tracked (such as some plays on iPod's or iPhones or if the app is turned off, etc.) regardless, my Last FM page (if nothing else) shows a fair representation of what i listen to.

i've been a music fan since childhood, where i can remember 'borrowing' my sisters 45's and cassettes. i think my first cassette was either The Police - Synchronicity or Michael Jackson - Thriller. i bought my first 45 at age 11, in 1985. it was 'Til Tuesday's one hit wonder Voices Carry. after collecting a handful of cassettes and 45's i progressed on to the 'cassingle' mostly consisting of late 80's/early 90's hip hop (Biz Markie, Young MC, Public Enemy, Digital Underground, etc.) i can remember hoping in my friends vintage hatchback after school and driving to the music store. on a weekly basis we'd spend a buck and pick up the latest hits.

after that, the compact disc invaded my soul and i was never the same. first CD purchases included George Michael - Listen Without Prejudice vol. 1, Bell Biv Devoe - Poison & U2 - Rattle and Hum. over the next decade plus I accumulated well over 500 discs... with many bought, traded or sold... some of which I wish I had kept. over time i very well may have had many many more - but I lost count and once the CD burner was invented, my CD numbers sky rocketed.

A few years back I all but gave up on the compact disc and mostly purchase music digitally or now (with Spotify) listen to it streamed on the internet.

many music forms have come and gone. some have returned (i have a nice collection of vinyl records that I play once in a while - thanks to scouring garage sales and second hand shops - my most treasured being The Beatles - Rubber Soul).

Through these many musical transitions, my ears have been exposed to a plethora of genres and styles and my horizons have been expanded.

here is a list of my 15 most listened to artists as logged by Last FM - over the past 6 and a 1/2 years:

I've always loved U2 - going back to the mid 80's when i found a U2 sticker as a prize in the bottom of a cereal box. (i kid you not, that's how i first heard of them - perhaps around 1984 or 85) From there I was exposed to The Joshua Tree (thanks to my sister who saw them in concert on that tour). But my love for them took off when the Rattle and Hum movie came out... i still own that on VHS - although I think I wore it out.

i think i first found out about The Appleseed Cast around 2001 or 2002 via message boards over at I sent away for Low Level Owl vol. 1 & 2 from Deep Elm and fell in love. Many listens ever since!

I think it was my friend Steviac who introduced me to Explosions in the Sky. They may now be my most favorite band. Seeing them live was monumental - a greatest hit moment in my life. I have yet to grow weary of any one of their songs... instrumental, progressive rock from Austin, Texas.

What's not to love about Radiohead? I never got much into Pablo Honey other than watching Creep on MTV a thousand times... but The Bends changed things... and then OK Computer really changed things. I bought that album after seeing the video for Paranoid Android and my life changed after hearing that in its entirety. simply brilliant.

What's not to love about Coldplay? A Rush of Blood to the Head is one of the best albums of all time.

I first saw David Crowder*Band at the National Youth Workers Convention in 2002. They had so much fun playing and worshiping - they were great performers. I was hooked. It's sad to know that they are nearing the end of their run.

I discovered Decoder Ring via eMusic. I signed up for one of their free promotional campaigns and downloaded a bunch of rare stuff. This Australian band is very unique... it was the soundtrack to the movie Somersault that hooked me. Every one of their albums is unique and I always seem to stumble on new things from them as their new stuff slowly migrates to America. They've had instrumental albums, ones with vocals, electronic albums and soundtrack-esque one's, too.

Muse. first listened to them because i was told they sounded like Radiohead. although their are similarities, Muse is more epic... another of my many favorite bands from across the Atlantic.

South was an English band that piqued my interest via Q Magazine ( a British music mag) as far back as 2001 or 02. I remember hearing them/seeing them on MTV2 also. i had to search high and low to get my hands on their album and it did not disappoint. Paint the Silence was the song that got me interested. I am most proud of 'discovering' this band. They had a string of really great albums before disbanding a few years ago.

I honestly don't recall where I found out about The Innocence Mission... perhaps it was my wife who has always had a knack for finding really good singer/songwriter and independent musicians. The simplicity and childlike nature of their music is lovely... a beautiful expression of the love of God.

The Beatles are rock and roll. The Beatles are pop music. What artist hasn't been influenced by them? the medley at the end of Abbey Road is nothing short of genius. i dare you to listen to tracks 9-17 and not be moved.

i started getting in to Bob Dylan a few years back when, with birthday money I deemed it my civic responsibility to collect and own some of the classic albums of all time. Along with Sgt. Peppers, Pet Sounds, Dark Side of the Moon, etc. I picked up The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. From there i picked up Another Side, Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks, Saved, Slow Train Coming, Bringing it all Back Home, Highway 61, The Times They are a Changing and and a series of bootlegs. a brilliant collection, i'd say.

Underworld was the featured artist in the movie Trainspotting. My late 90's electronica phase piqued with Second Toughest in the Infants and the song Pearl's Girl. but their music never went out of style, as far as i'm concerned. 2010's Barking was one of my favs from last year.

Johnny Cash is a legend. your collection isn't complete without Live at Folsom Prison or Live at San Quentin.

Electronic low-fi maestros Boards of Canada provide soothing electo beats simplified to sooth the soul. i can't remember how i became a fan - i just know that i am. the video for their song Dayvan Cowboy is magnificent and moving. BoC is the perfect instrumental electronic band, perfect for the background of life's simpler events.

These are my 15 most listened to artists. there are more that don't make the top 15 that have captivated my heart and soul, too - but these artists are special to me.

music is life. what is it about a song that it can become so powerful? music has power like nothing else... it's an art form like no other... and now you know a little more about the music that means the most to me.

time to put on the headphones...


Thursday, November 17, 2011

a quiet yes.

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet.
James 4:7-10 (the Message)

sometimes the Word is enough. no need to add to it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


you wanna get things done? gotta try. wanna bring about change? gotta try.
the secret word that changes the world.

Friday, November 11, 2011

morning bell: saints

thoughts from
@morningbell2u (in Devon UK)
an early morning call to prayer in the spirit of the monastics

saints don't have to control everything; they nurture openness to the surprising Spirit...

saints recognize and resist whatever dehumanizes us; they also see goodness everywhere and celebrate it...

saints try to do the good and right thing, whatever the cost

saints live in and live out their calling - pray for a new sense of your calling today...

Saints give themselves fully to both happiness and lament. From this grows a quiet joy that changes the world...

Saints don't hurt easily because their sense of belonging is deep. You are loved. This is enough....

Saints know that they are grounded in God's life and love. Let every step you take today take you into this experience...

which one do you connect with most?