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6/30/2006

HELP ME HELP YOU HELP ME SOME MORE

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Have you pinged yourself lately? That's free too.

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See? So help me help you help me some more. Register with technorati and ping yourself.

This has been a self service announcement from SHLOG.COM.

LOVE PRAYER

For the person who asked for it and anyone else interested, here's the prayer we closed with at ikon on Tuesday night. Again, the night was about love and how we love other people partly because we are aware of God's love for us, and we love them in the same ways we've been loved...

LOVE PRAYER:
Our Father in heaven, thank you for loving me better than anyone on earth ever has. I want to love like You do. I need Your Spirit to love through me.

When people see us living like Jesus together we want them to notice the family resemblance. We want them to see Your love in us.

Your will be done down here the way it is in Heaven.

Thank you for giving us three square meals every day. We’ll feed the hungry.

Thank you for giving us bodies that work. We’ll heal the sick.

Thank you for teaching us about You. We’ll pass on what we know.

Thank you for listening to us always. We’ll listen to those around us.

Thank you for being kind to us when we had nothing to give you in return. We’ll be kind when it doesn’t benefit us.

Thank you for forgiving us when we were Your enemies. We’ll forgive our enemies and not just the people we like.

Thank you for not bringing up our past mistakes again and again. We’ll let go of other people’s mistakes.

Thank you for giving up creature comforts, wealth and popularity for us. We give up all this for others.

Thank you for loving us so we can love like You do.

Amen.

OUTSIDE EYES

Mark Driscoll's giving his approval of a new book by SPIN writer Andrew Beaujon called "Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside The Phenomenon of Christian Rock" via his blog. Fascinating since I know from Mark's latest book that he thinks kids who listen to Christian music have been "forced to ride the cultural short bus." Does this mean the book is kind or unkind to Christian music? I wondered. Luckily Mark linked to a fluxblog interview with the author where my wondering found some answers...sort of.

I'll read this book, if for no other reasons than to benefit from - and be humbled by I'm sure - an outsider's view of what I do for a living. God knows I have my criticisms about "Christian rock", even my own. May be helpful to see things from the outside looking in.

Here's a taste of that interview from fluxblog.org:


Matthew Perpetua [fluxblog]: As an outsider to the world of Christian music, how did you come to write a book about it?

Andrew Beaujon: Well, it started with a conversation. My friend Jim Coe had just graduated from seminary in Richmond, and we were talking over dinner about his Christian-rock past. I talked to more friends about it, and I found out it was a really common experience for a lot of them - getting really into Jesus as a teenager, attending a festival or two, and then usually getting out of it during college. Jim mentioned that the Cornerstone Festival was a big one, so I pitched a story to the Washington Post about it, and they liked the idea. And that's really how it started. While I was prepping for the article, I couldn't find anything written about Christian rock that wasn't by Christians who loved Christian rock or Christians who loathed it. And being the enterprising sort....

MP: Was there much written about Christian music by non-Christians?

AB: Nothing I could find. The odd sneering article taking that "Planet America" tone, you know what I mean?

MP: Reading the book, I kept running into mentions of acts that I had no idea were Christian. I did not realize how many of the promos I've been sent over the past two years of so had been Christian bands. I've definitely written about a fair few bands without knowing that was part of their past. It's become amazingly mainstream in the last five years, was that part of the interest?

AB: Definitely. I had a similar experience when I was doing a piece on P.O.D. for Spin. I guess I knew they were Christians, but I'd never really given it much thought. But when you look at the numbers of Evangelicals in America, it's really striking how many people have this cultural background.

MP: Was Pedro The Lion at that first Cornerstone Festival you attended?

AB: Yeah. Bazan was drunk as a skunk.

MP: Were you familiar with Pedro before that show?

AB: Not really. I think the beard kept me away! You know, you're sorting through promos, you see facial hair...

MP: I don't have any idea what David Bazan looks like, actually. I just remember Pedro The Lion being on some decidedly secular mixtapes that I got from a friend back around 1999.

AB: He's interesting, because he does what a lot of Christian artists wish they could. He supports himself on the secular scene; he only does a couple Christian events a year, and I think he does them to mess with people. Not in a mean way -- I think he genuinely wants to shake the foundations of Christian kids' faith, to get them away from the literal take on the Bible.

MP: Do you think he would be able to work so freely outside of the Christian scene if he didn't have so many philosophical differences with the Evangelical movement? Or maybe not able so much as eager and willing.

AB: I dunno. I mean, it doesn't seem to hurt mainstream alternative acts, but on an indie level? I think those kids like their religion ironic.

MP: How much involvement have the Danielson Famile or Sufjan Stevens had in the Christian scene relative to Bazan?

AB: Danielson has played Cornerstone. Dunno about Stevens. I saw both at a conference about faith and music. I think Stevens is pretty uncomfortable with that whole scene, but he went to a Christian college, and I'll bet he knows a lot about it. Bazan is like an alien.

MP: How so?

AB: In that he has almost no grounding in pop culture, and you don't have to have grown up Evangelical to like his music. One time we were walking through a parking lot, and someone's car alarm was going off, and I mentioned to him that it sounded like the start of Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom." He'd never heard the song.

MP: Is there any particular song by Bazan that you find especially interesting or moving?

AB: I really like "Foregone Conclusions.”

MP: If I recall, that's the song with swearing that the Cornerstone people had been freaking out about?

AB: Yeah, that's the one.

MP: What's going on in that song lyrically?

AB: Well, it starts out "I don't want to believe that all of the above is true.” It's about confronting absolute certainty. Christians are obsessed with absolute truth.

MP: How did you come to discover Larry Norman?

AB: It was just part of the research. He's such a big part of Christian music history.

MP: As of right now, I've only heard "I Wish We'd All Been Ready," which is a pretty amazing song. Is that representative of his catalog?

AB: Kiiiinda. Some of the stuff is great. A lot of it is really average rock music, but there's always his crazy voice and the hectoring lyrics. It's sort of like hearing Pat Buchanan front an acid-rock band.

MP: He's become something of an outsider over time, is that right?

AB: Yeah, as I understand it he's pretty difficult to work with. He really dislikes the Christian music industry, and I get the impression the feeling is mutual. A couple people told me off the record that he's somewhat shunned.

Read the rest here.

6/29/2006

EVERYDAY

For those at ikon wanting to know where to get that video we showed last Tuesday, here it is: Dave Matthews Band's "Everyday." Old video, but apparently not to twenty year olds.



The point? Love acts; it shows and spreads. If it's not visible it's not viable.

I counseled a guy who every week had a new problem for me to "solve". After months of this listening, praying and working in his issues, I told him I'd keep meeting with him but I wanted him to try something: Do something for someone else for one hour this week. Something no one, even I, will ever find out about. Sort clothes for a shelter. Serve food there. Read a book to seniors at a retirement center. Something. Just find something to do for someone else. One hour. One week. Then we'll talk again.

My belief was that this guy's biggest problem was self-centeredness. His issues weren't all that large really but they consumed most of the space in his brain and heart. THey were all he saw and all he talked about. I hoped focussing him elsewhere for an hour would be good medicine. Maybe eventually his focus could be there everyday.

I haven't seen him since. It was medicine he couldn't swallow.

This video, as silly as it seems, is inspiring isn't it? Inspires me to take the medicine I prescribe. One guy doing one small thing for strangers who then pass it along. Idealistic? Sure. But love makes us that way doesn't it?

BUSTED. I'M HURT.

My father was in Vietnam on two tours of duty with the First Cavalry Division of the U.S. Army, served for a while in Bremerhaven Germany and taught at Fort Sill near Lawton, Oklahoma when I was born. I would sneak into his closet as a boy and try on the jacket of his uniform. I'd prowl through his dresser drawers and open the square silk cases containing his medals. We looked through shoe boxes of black and white memories together: a younger more muscular dad with a snake around his neck in thick jungle, my father with a smiling vietnam boy wearing around his neck the Converse sneakers my mother sent him as a gift, a grouping of tents and shirtless men wearing dog tags and baggy pants and carrying beers, a firing mammoth cannon dwarfing my father and his men.

My father gave me three miniature cannons when I was probably ten. Made of wood and iron, they were built in Hong Kong and sold in military PXs - replicas of America's fiercest fire power on land at various points in her history: Civil War, WW1, WW2, and the modern age. They were three of my favorite things because they were his. And behind them, folded properly in a triangle, Old Glory.

In those days I saluted the flag and pledged allegiance to her. My favorite part of a high school football game was the presenting of the colors, the military personnel turning sharply, snapping to attention, marching in perfect sync with each other. I wanted to be them. I wanted to be like my father.

Today my evolving understanding of historic Christianity and scripture has me talking from time to time - more often here than anywhere else - about the Church's relation to Nation. I view myself as a citizen of God's kingdom first and America second. I don't pledge allegiance to a flag or cross my heart and repeat a pledge to a nation mostly as a symbolic refusal on my part to vow my life and death to anything but the Christ. I think most of what the governments of earth do to care for people in need is the job of the Church, a job the government does because we no longer see it as our own. I don't think the government does anything benevolent better than Christians working together can. We the Church are the institution charged by God to show mercy and set things right. The government also defines peace differently from the Church and secures it with violence I believe to be a temporary surface solution inherently opposed to the character, example and teaching of Jesus. We the Church are the institution charged with peace making.

I'm not against government but indifferent to it. Working to supplant it almost entirely with a loving active Church. I'm thankful for the benevolence of my government and the many pleasures and freedoms that are mine because I live in America. But her freedom is not thee ultimate freedom. Her pleasures are not the greatest I can know. And I'd like to think I'd go against my country and my flag and my father to pursue the greater freedom and pleasure of following my real King whose nation has no borders.

How'd a good Republican boy from a military family get so screwed up? Somehow I went from patriotism to indifference. From future to soldier to pacifist. How?

Ask me that yesterday and I would have gone on and on about how I began studying the example and teachings of Jesus more diligently through the lense of non-American theologians. I would have talked about Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Howard Yoder and various Anabaptists and how they helped me see what Christianity was before America was even a dream and what it should still be - what it was when it started with twelve disciples and a revolutionary named Jesus. I'd quote early church fathers and their policies against patriotism and military service and I'd recite the passages of scripture it was all based on. I'd talk about the Church in Jerusalem and their nearly socialist practices of sharing all things with each other.

That was yesterday.

Today I have to confess that while all of this is true, well, there's more to it than that. There was more at work transforming my thinking than I've admitted.

This morning as I mowed the yard I stewed over a piece of "fan mail" I received last night and had an epiphany. The "fan" asked what my beef was with America. He accused me of a being a Democrat (hardly), a communist (huh?) and a heretic (maybe). But then he asked an accidentally great question: What did the government ever do to you?

Funny how the right question can force us into honest introspection isn't it?

See, I'd heard about the early church's pacifism and about Christians rejecting patriotism a lot in college and rejected it. It wasn't until my late twenties that I began warming to these ideas enough to study them and eventually accept them - about the time my father was diagnosed with cancer. His government, the one he served diligently for many years, the one he pledged his allegiance to and saluted every morning, doused him in Agent Orange and other chemicals while in the jungles of Vietnam. The American government, some say, knew the danger of Agent Orange but loved winning the war more than loving the people who loved her most. This caused my Dad's cancer, his doctor says and his government admits. The cancer is gone for now but he's slowly losing sensation in his body due to exposure to these harsh chemicals. The doctors say that eventually the numbness in his feet and hands will spread throughout his body and bind him to a wheelchair.

What did the government ever do to me? Is there a wound there that influences my theology of nation? Apparently, I think today, Yes.

I realize this morning that my theology of nation wasn't crafted in a vacuum. No theology is. Doesn't mean it's wrong. Just means maybe - I'm thinking now - I was made ready for forming that theology by hurt. I hurt when I see the man who's always been my hero, who taught me to love my country and love my government, tossed aside and incapacitated slowly by the object of his allegiance and affection. And the hurt weaned me off of blind patriotism so I could learn a new way of thinking about my country and my faith - a way I couldn't stand to listen to, let along accept, before.

Now, I'm trying to be honest with you and with myself and trying to figure out how much of the hurt is in the foundation of my theology on war, nation and Church. I want to dig it out, forgive, and base my beliefs and life on something stronger than past pain. I want to base it on truth - the best I can know it.

How about you? How much of what you believe about God or anything else is under the influence of your past? If the past was stripped away would you still have a basis for your beliefs?

So you don't believe in my God. Why? Because people who do have hurt you? Because people you know who do are nuts or just annoying? Is that a basis for life-long disbelief?

So you do believe in this God of mine. Why? Because you associate this belief with happy memories and kind people? Is that a basis for life-long belief? Strip everyone else away. Try to look around the past and not through it. Stare God in the face the best you can...now what do you believe?

Is that possible?

6/28/2006

MEETINGS AND CARS

I hate posts that really serve no purpose but to say "Sorry for not posting. Been busy." But here I am saying basically that: Been too busy to post today. Sorry.

I spent the morning with my friend and manager, Glenda. We spent a couple hours together at Atlanta Bread Company talking about my plans for the future: the web site, on-line sales, touring, booking, personnel, income, lack of income, generating income, book writing, marketing, etc etc. It was good to try communicating everything that's in my head and on my plate for the first time. Taught me what a poor grip I have on my ideas right now. Ever thought you knew what you were talking about until you started talking about it? I was all over the place. I need to work on some details. And she's great at helping me do that.

The big question before us isn't "How do we do the independent musician thing" but rather "What parts of the label machine, things like publicity and magazine/internet ads and radio play, do we try to maintain now and what parts do we just live without?" We started that conversation today.

Then I ran home - drove actually - made some Mac and Cheese for the kids and then took them on a "date" to see Cars. Gabriella put on a dress, wore her "Sunday shoes", brushed her hair and painted her nails. Gresham put on pants. It was a special outing. Just the two oldest and me and enough Coke to wake a dead man. Gresham fell asleep halfway through.

Good flick. Good story. A little slow for a three year old boy. Enough romance to please a five year old girl.

That's pretty much my day. Gotta go play outside now. Maybe tomorrow will be a better blogging day...or maybe we'll go to the zoo and blow off jobs and music and, well, you again.

6/27/2006

WHAT'S LOVE?

Bette Midler claims love isn't a river or a razor like some say it is. She says "love, it is a flower."

Michael Jordan says love is "being a rookie" and winning a championship and making a lot of cash in the process.

Yale professor and psychologist Robert Sternberg says love is the intersection of passion, commitment and intimacy.

One of the first Christians, a guy named Paul, described love like this:

"Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end."

Tonight at ikon we'll try to get a better grip on what love is. See you tonight.

6/26/2006

EGO FOOD

One of my sisters-in-law works in New York city, um, I'm not sure what the correct terminology is...doing hair for television and film. She's worked in Faith and Hope and All My CHildren and Dukes of Hazzard, something called Beerfest that isn't out yet and other stuff too I'm sure I'm forgetting. (Of course her crowning achievement was the transformation of dorky me into a (soft) rock star with spikey hair for my debut CD years ago.)

She'll remain nameless along with the villain in this story for obvious reasons. Sister-in-law is working on a film with a cast of Oscar winners. They bring onto the set their tremendous talent but also equally tremendous egos. The female star of this motion picture, for instance, treats those around her with contempt and brags often about the mean and twisted things she's recently done to them: her famous husband, her hair dresser, her assistant, the guy who brought her lunch. She's that caricature diva we hope doesn't truly exist but apparently does.

One day, for example, the shoot was running long. Catering was gone for the day. Everyone was hungry. So some kind someone bought a pile of fried chicken for the cast and crew to snack on. The diva flipped out. She cursed and warned that she could fire whomever had done this heinous thing to her.

The heinous thing? Well, in her contract it states clearly that there will never be food eaten around her while she's working - no matter how hungry those around her become. So the chicken was put away and the cast and crew continued to work with growling stomachs and even more contempt for the diva than before.

I'm trying to empathize with her as I retell this story, to make an excuse for her. Of course, I think to myself, hounding paparazzi, million dollar incomes and limo drivers could mess with anyone's mind. Maybe mine. Maybe we'd all lose perspective and begin to worship ourselves if everyone else bowed to us daily for so long.

But then I think of the numerous stories I'm told by promoters, fans and radio stations on the road: "Christian" artists who are almost as demanding and self-centered, refusing to sing without room temperature water, never mingling with fans, unwilling to do interviews before noon to promote a show, blowing off interviews booked for weeks without apology, cursing and fighting with each other and crew back stage, trashing green rooms, running up large bar bills at hotels for promoters to later pay, never saying the simple "thank you" for a job well done by sound men and volunteers. And I've got plenty of first-hand stories of my own to share if I ever feel like decimating a career or thirty.

No, egos and self-worship are just as prevalent in my industry as in sister-in-law's. And what about in business - the top salesman in an office struts around offering advice when he's not asked for it. Preachers: bragging about the size of their budget or the conference they just taught at, constantly drawing attention to how wonderful and wise they are. The beautiful people in school: Refusing to even speak with those below their station. The college athlete: boarding our plane with sunglasses on and no manners for the flight attendant.

But there are good guys in our industries too, people unaffected by their level of fame and fortune. Alec Baldwin is a good guy on the set right now with my sister-in-law and Downhere is a band in Christian circles I consistently hear great things about from promoters and fans alike.

So I wonder then, what keeps Alec and Downhere from acting like those other egomaniacs? What about status or success brings out the ego in some of us? And how do the humble stay that way regardless of how much they achieve or earn admiration?

6/25/2006

NEW ORLEANS

STEVE'S STORY:
I meet thousands of people and hear hundreds of stories every year I wish I could remember long enough to retell. Problem solved. Here's Steve, our runner, and his story:




THE SHOW:
(Pictured: The Newsboys, with eyeliner and confetti cannons) Playing in New Orleans last night was a scary thing for two reasons: 1. The best music America has ever birthed came from New Orleans and the people there can hear better music than mine any day. 2. Disaster and loss, I believe, teaches us tremendous amounts about God, ourselves and each other so New Orleans is a city that has more to teach me than I have to teach them.

(Pictured: the most important component of any festival: "the facilities") But New Orleans showed up, listened and clapped for me anyway. Thanks for your hospitality, your funnel cakes and snow cones and, Steve, thanks for telling your story.

6/23/2006

AFTER THE SHOW: LINCOLN, NEBRASKA

She looked to be about nine. Blonde hair. Cropped just below her earlobes. I took her hand.

"I'm Shaun, what's your name?"

She told me shyly, handed me a CD and asked me to sign it for her.

"Sure, I'd love to...Who are all these people with you?"

She introduced her three little brothers and her smiling aunt to me.

The oldest of the boys, a brown eyed seven year old, piped up as his name was said. "Today's my Dad's birthday."

"Really," I said. "Well, where's your dad?"

"In Heaven." And the smiles of the four siblings relaxed into straight lines.

"How long has he been there?" I regretted asking the moment the words fell out. I didn't know where this was going. There are only six basic directions an after show conversation usually heads: autograph, how old are you, where you're from, where are you headed next, wife and kids, prayer request or other need. I've mastered them all. I'm a professional. A professional now stumped, now drawn out of the routine and into the life of this little boy. My dad's in Heaven never comes up.

"About a month and a half."

I handed the signed CD back to his big sister while their Aunt explained what had taken place in their family over the last six weeks. A stranger, a man, put his arm around her as she told us the tale. The line waiting to talk to me and have something signed, stood patiently, leaning in, eyebrows furrowed by shared pain. And eventually smiles returned - by the simple miracles of time passing and conversation.

"Thank you for making their dad's birthday a special celebration," the aunt said as we hugged good bye. "Love your kids," she whispered over her shoulder as they walked away.

And I'm reminded once again that your job, no matter how great you think it is, sucks compared to mine. I don't mean to ruin your day, but I get to do this every week. I play some chords, sing some words, and then the good stuff happens: I hang out with people. I hear the most amazing stories. I meet people who have been healed. I get hugged by little kids and told I'm loved by them. I have conversations with skaters, moms, stock brokers, painters and astronauts. I get prayed for and get to pray for people in tremendous pain and trouble. I listen to eight year olds tell corny jokes and I laugh. I get to feel, every night, like all that stuff about Christians being family because we believe in the same God is actually true.

And tonight I got to be the entertainment at a dad's very important birthday party in Lincoln, Nebraska thrown by his four kids. And just being together we all got a taste of the world he lives in.

I told you. My job is better than yours.

Tomorrow: New Orleans.

FISH OF UNUSUAL SIZE

Brian and I, our wives and kids (seven of them...kids, not wives), took a two day vacation together to Georgia's Aquarium this week. (Because Brian and I don't see each other enough already.) We got back last night and left this morning - Brian and I minus the wives and kids - for Nebraska.

Nothing beats two days of hotel swimming, junk food around the clock, and fish as big as mini vans. Nebraska doesn't come close...at least not yet. I'll let you know after the show tonight.

6/20/2006

STEP 2: WHERE SHOULD THEY GO?

Last week after showing the Invisible Children documentary at ikon, Brian asked the crowd of twenty-somethings to brainstorm a little about what could be done for the children of Northern Uganda.

The first five solutions offered were...

1. Government.

2. Government.

3. Government

4. Government and capitalism.

5. Government.

It struck me as odd that a group of mostly Christians attending church services mostly regularly for most of their lives would think first of government and capitalism when confronted with the suffering of kids in Uganda.

Odd.

Here in America many of us Christians say we believe the Church should help those in need. (Though the government still does most of that for us.) Yaweh is our God here. But when faced with the problems of, say, Uganda, it becomes evident that He's not or that He can't get a visa to work outside the U.S.

We believe in Yaweh enough to answer questions like "Where should we go when we need help?" with "God" and "Church." But not enough to answer "Where should THEY go?" in the same way.

Justin's words, posted here, typify this thinking. (Or seem to) When I asked Justin what the Ugandan Church was doing about the problems of Uganda and whether Invisible Children was aiding the Church in that work, he said the Church in Uganda wasn't doing much - they're too poor. Then he sent this in an e-mail: "...about the churches lack of response to this war, know that it is my opinion based on being there and talking with many pastors. Invisible Children has no comment on this subject as we have no intention to look into it. "

"No intention to look into it." No intention to aid our Family in Uganda, to meet their needs, to help them become the army of peace makers and mercy showers they were saved to be. Best to call on our God's people: Senators.

The problem with calling on government first is that it often becomes the only call we make. And so I wonder if Lesslie Newbigin was right in claiming "the nation has taken the place of God...governments are widely assumed to be responsible for and capable of providing those things which former generations thought only God could provide - freedom from fear, hunger, disease and want - in a word: 'happiness' " (THE OTHER SIDE OF 1984: QUESTIONS FOR THE CHURCHES pp.13-15)

When asked "Where should they go?" or "What can be done for them?" do you answer the way you do when asked "Where do you go?"





PS. I'm not picking on ikon people. I love 'em. I know they know that because they know me, but you don't, so thought I'd clarify. We had a good discussion that will continue about what the Church's response should be to Uganda. And they're more open than I was at their age to learning a new way of helping the world and thinking about Church.

PSS. I support the work of Invisible Children. I wish they were partnering more intimately with the Church in Uganda - that's no secret to them or you - but I also know they are doing tremendous good in Uganda and could use your help and prayers.

6/19/2006

THE NEXT BIG THING: UNDERESTIMATING YOUR INTELLIGENCE

Does anyone know why this site exists?

(Hint: What do all these people have in common? Or rather WHO do they have in common?)

"They" think you don't know why this site exists. Now, my question is, does it matter if you do? Does the site still do to you and for "them" what "they" want it to if you know?

REVIEW: MARK DRISCOLL'S CONFESSIONS OF A REFORMISSION REV.

I stopped reading Mark Driscoll's Confessions of a Reformission Rev today. I didn't finish it. I just stopped reading it. (And I'll start reading David Augsburger's Dissident Discipleship tomorrow.)

The reason? While Mark is a pastor I listen to a lot and am entertained and challenged by always, his writing comes across as just, well, mean. Way mean. The book version of Mark would probably mock me for even saying that right now, accuse me of being an effeminate loofa user (a charge made against Emergent Church leaders in the first chapter).

I still suggest listening to Mark's great teaching and hanging with him if you get the chance. But some personalities just don't work on paper and his is one of them...for me. (This book was a needed warning to me to be sure my humor isn't misinterpreted in print as mean.)

The ideas we speak and write are not all there is to our message. The method is also part of that message. And for me, at a time when I'm realizing my own tendencies to divide instead of unite the Church, Mark's writing was a repellent two-faced message. The ideas presented say, "Love God. Love people. Build a church that does the same." But the method, the words and tone, say instead, "I love God and if you don't agree with me then you don't. I'm a better person than you and if you don't think so then, well, my church kicks your church's ass. So there."

I highly recommend the teaching and ideas of Mark's. Just not this book of them. I was sent Mark's book to review on this blog. One day I'll pick it up again and give a more thorough review after finishing the last couple chapters. But right now I'd give it 5 stars for lessons worth learning and 1 star for writing style and unnecessary low blows. Here's what other folks are saying about it:

Jeff at healing malchus writes...

"...the book hits its lows when Driscoll starts swinging prescriptive ethics like a club, demeaning people caught in a cycle of sin or theological confusion. He thinks his banter is humorous; it is actually base and cruel. Ironically in the last few pages he feels compelled to put forward all his own struggles asking for sympathy. It seems to be the mark of a particular sort of bad man who fragrantly insults those wrapped in moral failure, then turns and asks for pity for their own sin. I hope I miss read him on this front. Thankfully, most of the readers of this book will be mature believers, primarily pastors who will easily slide over Driscoll's over-exaggerations, self absorption, and straight out mean-spiritedness. If you buy it, cherish the good when you find it cause there is much to be discarded."

BUT worship.com says...

"This book is highly recommended and should be read by every pastor, elder, and worship leader. Those who have a desire to reach an increasingly post-modern culture without compromising doctrine will be encouraged to know they are not alone in either their struggles or their passion to reach the world for Jesus."

Have you read Mark's book? What do you think? Not about him but about his book.

6/18/2006

FROM THE ROAD: TULSA


6/17/2006

WHERE'S THE FIRE?

My song writing is the collision of two influences:

1. Alternative rock music beginning with Nirvana and the rest of those long haired Seattle earth tone wearers with loud amps and not-so-great voices AND modern rockers/pop rockers like Weezer and Matchbox Twenty and new bands like Fountains of Wayne, Jimmy Eat World and All-American Rejects: People making passionate interesting (to me) and hooky often-distorted music with shallow or unintelligible or even pointless lyrics.

2. Singer songwriters like Fogerty, Fogelberg, Cat Stevens, Cash, Neil Diamond (I said it), <Barry Manilow (I said that too), Elton John (actually Bernie Taupin), Sting, Rich Mullins, Nichole Nordeman, Andrew Peterson and the like: People who have a way with words but sometimes - I said SOMETIMES - leave me bored musically.

My mission has been to mash the two together, to make concoctions from varying amounts of each. One of the greatest inspirations for this approach early on (high school for me) was Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire". Now, it's no rocker by today's standards but in a pre-grunge world it was edgy for the piano man. He crafted an interesting yet repetitive melody we could remember, edged it up a little with guitars and production gimmicks and a video with lots of fire in it and embedded a history lesson/sermon in the thing. Genius.

Where have all the entertaining and thought provoking collisions of creativity and content gone? (Christian music fans, I said "entertaining" and "creative" AND "content".) Who's doing this well in your opinion? Smart but not sleepy or acoustic. Modern but not insultingly stupid.


We Didn't Start The Fire
by Billy Joel

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio 

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe

Rosenbergs, H-Bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, "The King and I",
and "The Catcher in the Rye"

Eisenhower, vaccine, England's
got a new queen 
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana
goodbye

CHORUS
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Josef Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser
and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, dacron
Dien Bien Phu
and "Rock Around the Clock" 

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, "Peter Pan", Elvis Presley, Disneyland

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev
Princess Grace, "Peyton Place",
trouble in the Suez 

CHORUS

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, "Bridge on the River Kwai"

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide,
children of thalidomide

Buddy Holly, "Ben-Hur", space monkey, Mafia
hula hoops, Castro, Edsel
is a no go

U2, Syngman Rhee, payola
and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, "Psycho", Belgians in the Congo 

CHORUS

Hemingway, Eichmann, "Stranger in a Strange Land" 
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs Invasion 

"Lawrence of Arabia", British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson

Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex 
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say

CHORUS

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon,
back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock 
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollolah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

  "Wheel of Fortune" , Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
  Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz 
Hypodermics on the shores, China's under martial law
Rock and Roller Cola Wars, I can't take it anymore

CHORUS

We didn't start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on...


On a related note, Jars of Clay - masters of this approach in my opinion - are officially out of their record deal after the forthcoming CD "Good Monsters" releases and plan to make music independently. There's a lot of that going around eh?

TALK TO ME LIKE A PURPLE COW

Randy told me recently of a Web 2.0 guru who said no website should ever be made again that isn't a conversation.

Comments. Message boards. Questions for visitors. File trading. Linking. Interacting with each other on-line seems to be what we want. Better, it seems to benefit us all more than reading a digital pamphlet posing as an on-line presence. Boring.

Case in point. Yesterday on the plane I read an entire book. Never happens. Easy read. It was Seth Godin's Purple Cow. It's a marketing book, since Seth is a marketing speaker/author/consultant/blogger guy - about how old school advertising like TV ads and on-line banner ads and radio ads and magazine ads don't work any more and why and how it is in such perplexing marketing times one gets a product, cause or person noticed.

I had a question after reading it. (Lots actually) Nothing pressing but a friend of mine had one answer and I had another and I was curious what Seth thought.

But books are the king of monologue media aren't they? You read them. Page after page of talking at you while never pausing to ask, "Do you follow me so far?" They'll read the same way no matter how many times you repeat the process. They sit there ignoring your raised hand and furrowed brow. How rude. How pre Web 2.0.

But not any more. I got to my hotel and sent off a quick e-mail to Seth asking my question. Short. Kind. To the point.

I woke up this morning - DING! - e-mail from Seth Godin: my very own personal world class marketing consultant. He had a one sentence deciding vote answer for me and suddenly a book went Web 2.0. Purple Cow went from fascinating monologue to tailor-made dialogue.

Suddenly I feel the urge to buy more of Seth's books and tell you what a great writer and thinker and all around nice guy he is.

Those with stuff to tell us and sell us take note. We want dialogue not monologue. And if you give us what we want we'll tell others and you'll that much closer to becoming a rare purple cow in this brown cow world: noticed.

Thanks Seth.

TRUTH IN ADVERTISING



(HT:CC)

6/16/2006

SOLOMON GIVEN BOOT FROM HIP CHURCH CONFERENCE

(AP) -- A noted writer has been "disinvited" from a cutting-edge church conference, say conference organizers, after a calmly-delivered, but highly controversial, speech.

"He just doesn't know how to put things," one disgruntled listener said. "It's like 'Oh, I've got truth and here you go, here's what you need to know'," he said, adding that Solomon ruffled feathers right off the bat.

"He said wisdom is what matters, more than anything else. We were all like, 'What about authenticity?' But he said an authentic fool is still a fool. He said that. He used the word 'fool' a lot. I was really disappointed," another added. "It was offensive."

But that wasn't the worst, according to others.

"He used the term 'evildoers'. That's just not right to say some people are evildoers. It's so black-and-white, and lacked nuance. He said it several times, too. That may fly in America, but what about the rest of the world? This guy just doesn't understand other cultures and contexts like we do," said one church-planter in a Starbucks cap.

Read the rest here. (Only one man I know could write this - always worth reading. Thanks for another great post, Brant.)

6/15/2006

TECHNICAL HELP NEEDED

My former label just sent me the massive "fan mail" e-mail list we built together over the last six years. It's an Excel document and I need to get it into Entourage's address book. Big problem: I'm stupid. Anybody know how to do that? You guys are my IT department now you know?

I'll fool with it more tomorrow on the plane to Fort Worth, Texas but if you have tips I'd sure appreciate them.

Thanks,
SG

6/14/2006

RAILROAD TRACKS

I grew up in a town laid out like a diorama of Civil War America. Through the approximate center of town ran a railroad track and a major thoroughfare: our Mason-Dixon line. North of the line brown faces drove past billboard ads for liquor and cigarettes, down potholed streets to poorly supplied schools. South of the line my white friends and I enjoyed shopping at the one mall in town, riding our bikes down smooth roads and learning in well-stiocked classrooms. Their high school was named after the notable Union general, John Tyler, and ours after Confederate general, Robert E. Lee.

I remember only a handful of kids darker than me before my teen years. Only knew one by name. By high school there were four or five non-white students in my classes. The lack of diversity bothered me I guess but I still kept my relationship with even those few minority students I knew of about as close as Baptists in a liquor store: Nodding as I passed but finding reasons not to avoid conversation. I had the biggest crush on an almond-eyed African-American girl in my computer science class but stopped short of asking her out, afraid of what she and everyone else might think of me - of us. At church an older white woman shouted in a business meeting, upset about "colored" people from the neighborhood visiting our services more and more. "I come here to be with people like me!" And I didn't want to be one of them when I grew up.

I walked out my back door this morning to laughter. Fourteen kids of every shade in my yard: Swinging each other in my hammock, playing catch with my football, riding their bikes in my driveway, and sitting at my folding table rolling snakes out of Play Dough mounds. Fourteen hot and sweaty kids a couple hours later circled Becky and I and a tray of cantaloupe, strawberries and crackers brought out from our kitchen. Becky's face radiated contentment, and mine awe, as dirty hands clamored for helping after helping of snacks, no one seeming to notice the peculiarity of what to me is a miracle.

People my color only crossed over the tracks back home because they got lost, to go to church or to throw a parade. And we weren't apt to make friends while we were there. Every year Tyler, Texas still gathers for the Rose Festival. I remember it well. The richest eighteen year old white girl in town sits on a float as "Rose Queen" and rides through the streets of the North side. The white haves parade across the tracks and flaunt their wealth before the mostly non-white have nots, leaving them no better off and no better friends when they head south again.

When parade day comes around this year I'll be a decade and seven hundreds miles away from it - in my front yard with a pile of fruit, some crackers, Play Dough and fourteen friends. Just like every other day, far from the railroad tracks.

JUSTIN SPEAKS FOR IC

The last time we spoke today I invited Justin from Invisible Children to look over what I've written about them so far at SHLOG.COM to make sure I've understood my conversations with IC accurately and not misrepresented IC in any way publicly. He did and then e-mailed me this kind letter with a few corrections and clarifications to make. And rather than trying to explain his thoughts to you and risking doing a poor job again, I thought I'd just let you read them for yourselves.

So, here's Justin (church relations guy) of Invisible Children in his own words...

"I read your blog and its good. There are two things that could be changed. The Delta reports are not only for churches, they also document organizations and communities. This is a new project that we are working on so we will not be launching it for some time. So there are no churches that have done this yet. We are developing it and talking with Geneva Global in more detail about it. Also, about the churches lack of response to this war, know that it is my opinion based on being there and talking with many pastors. Invisible Children has no comment on this subject as we have no intention to look into it.

We feel like we articulated an appropriate answer to why we are not just a mouth for northern Uganda. The organizations present have been there for twenty years. There has been no change...there is no other organization fighting to end this war. In order to do that we must have a presence on the ground. If people read our mission statement, they know we are equally
as passionate as ending the war as we are to providing aid. We have studied what other organizations are doing on the ground...but yet 85% of the children are still unable to go to school...education was needed, that is why we created the program. Jolly does not need our help, she has her own organization called HEALS that is very successful in the north. We needed her to run the program because she has experience and she understand the culture. We will put more kids in
school as money continues to come in. The children in this program are taken care of completely. They not only go to school but have a mentor in which they meet with weekly. This menor is Ugandan, it is his/her responsibility to make sure that the kid is going to school and that they have enough food to eat. It is an amazing program in which World Vision has commented on numerous times.

We may be young but God has completely blessed this company and has given us wisdom thus far. We are kids but we believe with all our heart that we can change this world...

I just wanted to get you this info. It was a pleasure to talk with you man.

Justin "

CALL FROM INVISIBLE CHILDREN

Just got off the phone with Justin at Invisible Children. He's the "faith outreach coordinator" or the "church relations" guy depending on whether you're reading e-mail or a web site. Either way he deals with Christians wanting to get involved with IC.

Here's the skinny - and I can't believe the IC web site or their peeps haven't just come out and said this to us yet:

Geneva Global, a for profit aid research group, finds churches in Northern Uganda and studies what their needs are and what they are doing and able to do for others in their city.

IC brokers these reports, called Delta Reports, for Geneva Global.

A church in the US (or elsewhere) can contact IC and BUY a report on a church from Geneva Global via IC.

The average price, IC says, is about 30K. Ten percent of that price tag goes to Geneva Global. The rest of the money goes to the church the report is about. These churches are in the city of Gulu. Money does not go directly to these churches though. IC accountants - Americans - on the ground in Gulu administer the funds. If the money was handed over in one lump sum IC fears it would be squandered.

The report tells the "sponsoring" church what needs the report church has and what their potential is. The reports are said to be very detailed. It tells sponsoring churches what exactly will be bought with their 30K: ten tents, five chickens, 100 shovels, irrigation etc. (Anyone seen one of these reports and gone through his process with Geneva Global and IC?)

The churches in Uganda are not at this point doing anything directly to aid the night commuters documented in the Invisible Children film, according to Justin. They are in "survival mode" and have been for 17 years since this war began. They receive little or no money from members and are not in a benevolence frame of mind - again, according to Justin.

I asked why the churches don't at the very least open their doors to let night commuters sleep in their buildings instead in hospital basements and outdoors. He said the night commuters are guarded by Ugandan soldiers and those soldiers will not patrol churches. Separation of church and state. So the commuters go where the guards are: hospitals, hotels etc. And churches lack the ability to go to the children themselves to administer aid. They have no aid to give.

More later. Justin's calling me back.

PHONE CALL TO INVISIBLE CHILDREN

I just got off the phone with Invisible Children. I spoke with two folks in their office and got many answers and the chance to tell them what a great job they've done with the film and getting the word out about the children and war of Northern Uganda.

Essentially, they admit to being a better mouth at this point than feet and hands. When asked why they've chosen to be feet and hands AND a mouth instead of just the best mouth telling the truth about the war in Uganda they can be, they weren't able to articulate a specific response. I sense that they grew so attached to Joly (a woman they met in Uganda while making the film) that they saw an opportunity to love her and help a small number of children in Uganda by making her the director of a child mentoring program currently serving 300 kids. The program pays school tuition for the children and provides limited amounts of other support: clothes, food etc. This is good work from what I can tell, though I've not been there to see it in action. If you have, your first hand recollections are needed.

I asked why they didn't remain a mouth and steer the money and time and talent of their compassionate audience to one or many of the numerous organizations, faith-based and not, already working in the area - the hands and feet. Again, no specific reason other than being moved to do all they knew to do at the time. They saw the need and did what they could.

There seems to be a sense, from this conversation with IC today, that NOW they are regrouping and reevaluating their efforts in Uganda - trying to see what they could do better. They are working to build relationships with other relief groups in Uganda to create synergy and not duplicate efforts. They are working to get more of the money from bracelets sold on the IC site to those meeting the needs of the invisible children. They are working to become a non-profit (I was shocked that they haven't done this yet!) and have met with government leaders and even gave a tour of their region and work to the Ugandan president's daughter - who was shocked by the truth of what's going on in Northern Uganda. She had no idea.

But now she does. And so do we. And we all have to decide if we'll be hands, feet, mouths or all of the above on behalf of the children of Uganda and the world without basic needs and knowledge of a loving God.

I'm waiting on a call from IC's church relations guy who e-mailed me wanting to talk and I hope to learn even more from him and build some kind of relationship with IC, if for no other reason than to just keep interested SHLOG readers informed on progress and need in Uganda.

I'm very committed to the holistic long-standing faith-based work of Compassion International (working in Uganda and around the world) and don't feel the need to invest more of myself in another relief organization at this time. But if you have yet to join hands with a group of people like this to meet the needs of children in the world, consider Invisible Children as an option - watch, ask questions, demand results, make them earn your trust, pray for them, work with them, contribute time and talent and cash and let's see what faith in action can accomplish.

One last thing. I asked Ben at IC how we could pray for them and here are a few requests of their and few of my own:
1. Rest and attention to personal relationships. Working around the clock as they do makes it hard to get sleep, stay healthy and of course tend to wives, girlfriends and friends. Pray that they get rejuvenated and reattached to those they love.

2. They need a vehicle to carry supplies from South Uganda to Northern Uganda. This costs money. Donations can be made through their site (invisiblechildren.com".

3. Wisdom. Pray for older wiser people to help them see and steer well in this time of restructuring and rethinking IC. Pray for the folks they currently have to be good listeners, clear communicators, strategists, and lovers of God and people above all else. This is a critical time, I believe, as they strive to build hands and feet (on the ground aid) as large as their mouth (the film).

4. Bridges. Pray that relationships with the Church here and in Uganda and Sudan are built and that lessons and aid flow in all directions.

5. Slow growth. Odd sounding I know but the first person I spoke with at IC said "to be honest" she felt IC took off faster than it was ready for and is just trying to catch up. They have more interest than solutions and they know it. So slow growth is one way to catch up and do the best job for the people of Uganda. My fear being that continuous press and interest could lead to splash without substance and teach a generation of folks that big ideas and campaign bring about no real change. Solutions have to have time to evolve. But I could be wrong. Way wrong. Let's ask God and see what He does.

I'll keep you posted as I learn more.

Thanks to the folks at IC for taking my call today.

NEW GOAL: LIVE RECORDING

There's a new donations goal up: $1800.

Here's what it's for; check my math:

$400 - recording engineer for one day (Jim Dineen)
$300 - rented piano/delivery/tuning
$300 - upgrade sound system (microphones, mixing console, etc)
$400 - recording gear (splitter, microphones, etc)
$400 - mix engineer and his facility for one day

This is a HIGH estimate. We may not need to upgrade the sound system where we're recording $300 worth, for instance. The piano price is based on Nashville numbers since we can't be certain where we'll do this recording yet (though we're hoping for Knoxville). We're trying to beg and borrow microphones and other gear as well, so the cost may be lower than $1800 in the end.

It is also just as possible that the cost could be higher. Depending on where we end up recording we may need to do more upgrading to that venue's sound system and rent more gear, and piano's could rent for more in that city. Depending on how things sound in the end we may need to master the recording. And that's hundreds as well.

So, we've created our best estimate - and estimated high - based on what we know today. Music making isn't science I guess, much to my former-accountant wife's chagrin. (Did I just use "chagrin"?)

I'll keep you posted as things develop: city, date, songs etc. Thank you again to all who've given. I have an amazing number of friends out there. Thank you for being so generous.

-Shaun

6/13/2006

STEP 1: WHERE DO YOU GO?

QUESTION: Where do you go when you're hungry?

ANSWER: If I have money I go to a store or a restaurant - the free market economy.

QUESTION: What if you don't have money? What then? Where do you go to get some of that?

ANSWER: I go to work.

QUESTION: What if you don't have a job? Then what? Where do you go for work so you can have money so you can have food?

ANSWER: I ask friends and family for help. If that doesn't work out I head to a government office and enroll in assistance programs that will help me out until I can better answer the job question, and the money question and the food question.


THINK: Is anything missing from these answers?

6/12/2006

TWO NEW TIMESUCKS

Timesuck: n. 1.A person, good, service or activity one spends a large amount of time on; possibly more than one's spouse or mother thinks one should. (eg. homestarrunner.com, X-Box, Dungeons and Dragons, world peace)

Here are two new timesucks for the internet savvy. Tagworld.com and Multiply.com. I have a toe in them both (here and here); they've only sucked an hour of my time each so far (Firefox required). I'm undecided on whether these two burgeoning rivals to myspace are time worthy yet - and they WOULD require large amounts of time to fully utilize. What do you think?

Here's what Fast Company thinks:

"TagWorld's real competitive advantage, however, isn't its jukebox or some other widget. It's the real-time information the site gathers. Musicians who post their music and videos online will be rewarded with demographics on exactly who is listening and where, bloggers will see exactly which other members are reading them, and advertisers, once there are some, will be able to find out similar information (within privacy guidelines, of course). That kind of supermuscular data and easy, automatic feedback makes TagWorld's platform even more potentially valuable to businesses than the current generation of social networks. "It's really the way business will be conducted going forward," says Rifkin. "Businesses can have a lot of data without putting the work into it. Let's say you are sitting on your computer listening to Bloc Party and automatically that info is posted on your Web site. You've generated content by the act of doing something for yourself. That information will automatically get pushed to me, as a marketer, and I get a list at the end of every day." In other words, when you press play on your music player, that choice could become a bit of autogenerated content, and a piece of easily aggregated and invaluable marketing information (e.g., the number of urban 19-year-old girls who downloaded the song yesterday)." (The Network Unbound)

INVISIBLE CHILDREN: QUESTIONS WITHOUT ANSWERS...YET



The film Invisible Children (watch the entire film above) documents the travels of three Abercrombie-ish looking friends who accidentally discover the untold story of the "invisible children" of Uganda and document it in hopes of bringing the world to their rescue.

These children live in fear of kidnappers from the Lord's Resistance Army patrolling the night in search of young ones to kidnap and force into soldiering.

Watch the film and you'll be moved to action. But what action? The recurring suggestion throughout the film is simply this: Tell the U.S. government to pressure the Ugandan government to end this war with it's enemy and protect these children.

We'll be showing the documentary Invisible Children this Tuesday night in the chapel of The People's Church instead of holding our usual Ikon gathering in our usual Ikon place. Join us if you're in the Nashville area.

After the film we hope to discuss, among other things, what other action we in the Church should take, if any, on behalf of these victims half a world away.

Here's some of what I've been asking myself in preparation for Tuesday. And I'm having a hard time finding answers. Chime in with any thoughts you may have.

1. Is the Church in Northern Uganda? What are they doing for peace in Uganda and what help could the Western Church be to their efforts?

2. What relief organizations or peace making forces are already on the ground bringing solution to this problem? How can we join them in their established efforts instead of duplicating them?

The Invisible Children website doesn't answer these questions. IC is made up of a handful of very young folks extremely gifted in communication. But solutions are lacking. For now they are asking their audience to buy a bracelet and tell a friend about these kids, place pressure on Congress, buy merchandise, demonstrate (Night Commute) and give Invisible Children, Inc. more money.

IC has no formal partnerships, from what I can tell, with the Church in Uganda or the West or with more established experienced organizations like World Vision and Compassion International who have proven their ability to save children from poverty, sickness and spiritual need around the world - including in Uganda.

I'm calling Invisible Children this week in search of answers/more details and I'm sure they have many. We desperately need them. Like the three young men in this film, the Western Church will have it's perspective shifted by this film and it's heart moved to compassionate response. Then what? Will we tell the Church to call their representatives? I think we can do better. What do you think?

Some more info about Invisible Children from the blogosphere:
  • A blogger visits a bracelet making project
  • Lord's Army and child soldier history
  • A journalists thoughts on ending Uganda's cycle of revenge
  • Children of Northern Uganda blog

  • 6/11/2006

    FROM THE ROAD: CLEARWATER, FL.

    Brian and I deplaned to the gummy humidity of Tampa late last night and slept like rocks in our newly designed Courtyard by Marriot beds. I must say, if Marriot can bring their shower heads up tot he consistency and quality of Holiday Inn Express' they'll be my new favorite hotel chain...and if they add WiFi to every room.

    So after a great night's sleep, and a so-so shower, we were shuttled over to Countryside Christian Center in Clearwater, Florida to play two morning church services. I've played at Countryside three times in the last six years; every time a great experience. It's hard to do this church justice with words. It was founded and is still pastored by a former hippie from the Jesus Movement days. He once ran The Adam's Apple in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a venue hosting any kind of rock musicians willing to play sober and let a preacher close their show. Everyone from Honeytree, Randy Stonehill, Phil Keagy, and Larry Norman passed through there over the years along with numerous mainstream rock acts who didn't know what they were in for. What they were in for was a no holds barred discussion of Jesus. Imagine Billy Graham in a biker bar and you get a peek into the late sixties and seventies club known as The Adam's Apple.

    After years of running the club, preaching, and traveling, Jon Lloyd left the road and the music business and eventually settled in Clearwater. His home bible study has grown since then to include 2,000 members (at least) and every kind of ministry and "club" imaginable. If you have a problem they can help. If you have a hobby they've got a handful or hundreds of others in the church who have it too.

    It's always inspiring to hang out with a man like Jon who was around for the start of the Christian music industry in America, has done everything, made mistakes and experienced tremendous success as well and is willing to tell the next generations his story and share his stage. It's refreshing to see someone his age who hasn't lost his appetite for Christian rebellion, who hasn't settled for less than the life he knew in his twenties he was made for. It can be done.

    And it's always good to be in the same place twice, let alone three times.

    Brian and I are resting this afternoon but we'll head back up to the church tonight for a concert/church service very much like those hosted at The Adam's Apple in its prime. It's like a country artist today being asked to participate in the Grand Ole Opry - it's a privilege to be part of such a long legacy tonight.

    6/10/2006

    ATTENTION INDIES

    A new blog all about marketing your music on the web.

    6/09/2006

    NORTHERN UGANDA CHURCH

    I need the help of a SHLOG.COM reader. You people are everywhere so...

    Does anyone out there have a contact for a church or church official in Uganda, preferably Northern Uganda? I'm trying to make a connection and am having a hard time. If you can help me out or know someone who might be able to, feel free to post any responses here in the comments or you can e-mail me at shaunfanmail@bellsouth.net.

    Thanks,
    Shaun

    LIVE RECORDING UPDATE

    Just got off the phone with a very experienced live sound engineer friend of mine. I called him after not being able to get through to a couple other guys. I didn't call this friend first because, well, I assumed he'd be too expensive and too busy to hire. I finally called him only out of desperation just to ask if he knew of anyone else I could hire or could give me an idea of how much this live recording might cost us - ballpark figure.

    He did me one better. He's not too busy or too expensive. He's sending over a budget tomorrow sometime. And if this works out as I hope it will I'll be recording live with the best there is - and he's a friend too.

    Great news I had to share.

    Where will we record? I'm leaning towards Knoxville,TN. There's a place there called New City Cafe that's always treated me right, always promoted well, always packed the place out and always attracts a good mix of all ages - college folk included. This being the Summer, getting college aged people to come out for a show will be difficult but if anyone can do it it's New City Cafe. Who'd be willing and able to come out to a show in Knoxville in the next couple months? (PS, I haven't exactly asked the folks at New City about all this yet so...shhhhh.)

    30 CC INTERVIEW

    This interview with a MidWest public access show called 30CC is a year old now but has just been posted to YouTube. It's only been up a couple weeks and already I've received mail from all over about it. It's amazing and frightening to me that now every interview I do has the potential to spread around the world thanks to P2P technologies like this one.

    The conversation is public.

    What's spreading about/from you/your company through YouTube, Flickr and Technorati? You can start the conversation for free.

    By the way, enable embedding of videos you upload to YouTube.com so they can spread more easily...unlike this one. You cant' actually watch the video below IN this blog post; you'll have to go here for that.

    6/07/2006

    ENTER THE CLOUD

    I'm reading a lot of Mennonite writings lately and stumbled onto this beautifully concise prayer.

    "O God, you withdraw from our sight that you may be known by our love. Help us to enter the cloud where you are hidden and surrender all our certainty to the darkness of faith in Jesus Christ." (Mennonite Hymnal, prayer #676)

    I especially liked the suggestion that God's left or sight so that we're left to represent Him. to make Him visible with love. We're His ikons. And the image of a cloud of darkness around God through which human wisdom, formula and conjecture can't penetrate. There is a limit to what we can understand and describe of God. The rest, where faith is required, is darkness. And it might be in this darkness, the uncertainty surrounding the mysterious God, that many of us (all of us?) are compelled to surrender, not by our certainties. And this surrender brings us back around again to love.

    There's a song in there somewhere. I just have to find it. In the cloud.

    ABOLISHING THE TITHE

    Radical words from my favorite Anabaptist:

    Though I began to follow Christ over 14 years ago, I can still remember the first sermon I heard after I became a Christian. The text was Malachi 3:10 and the sermon was a call to tithing as an expression of radical Christian commitment. As eager converts are prone to do, I lapped up every word of it and became a fiery advocate for tithing.

    A year or so later, I wrote to the pastor of the church to inform him that God was withholding blessings from our church because we had failed to continue emphasising and obeying the command of Mal. 3:9-10:

    "You are under a curse - the whole nation of you - because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have enough room for it."

    What I failed to notice is the explicit Jewish context of Malachi 3 and the fact that this whole passage is addressed to the 'descendants of Jacob.' God charges his people with failure to live up to their covenant obligation to care for the Temple in Jerusalem. I also missed that the rewards offered to the nation if she did tithe were a repetition of God's covenant promises to the people of Israel.[1] There is simply no getting away from the Old Covenant context of the book of Malachi.

    Today, I no longer tithe, nor encourage those in our church to do so. In fact, I would echo the words of Stuart Murray in saying that tithing may be biblical, but it is not Christian.



    Find out why by reading the rest of this mind bender here. Then come back here and let's talk. Is he on to something or on something? Can you do this? Can I? Why or why not?

    6/06/2006

    UPDATE: THERMOMETERS AND MOVIES

    Hey, without Photo Shop I had to go looking on-line for some already existing graphic to show our progress in this little fundraiser of ours. Couldn't find anything cooler than a thermometer (See left side bar). A stinkin' thermometer! But I pimped it out, turned it black and blue from white and red. Hope it suffices. It came with a free program that colors it in for me and the time that saves me makes up for the not-so-creative visual I guess.

    Hey, and congrats! $537 has been raised for the rebuild of this site. We'll get started on that whole process soon.

    I'm waiting to here from two engineers about recording the live disc. Waiting to hear if they're interested and if so how much it's going to cost.

    I'm also talking with a film maker friend of mine about chronicling this whole experience of becoming independent as well as filming the actual live show for inclusion on the live disc. Just a brainstorm brewing at this point. I'll let you know if it actually starts raining. What, if anything, would you like to be part of the live CD and film?

    Lastly, thank you. Thanks for giving and spreading the word about this campaign to make together what I can't make alone. I appreciate you.

    -Shaun

    HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE ANTI-CHRIST

    6.6.06. Day the anti-christ is revealed? Day the world ends? Day Satanists take over? Start of WWIII?

    Douglas Adams had a name for today's date in his Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy: a number whose value can be anything but itself, and its use in practice was that the given hour for a dinner party was the one moment in time when it was impossible for any of the guests to arrive.

    Predict a day or an hour for anything, in other words, and it will be the exact day and hour on which that thing certainly WON'T happen. So rest easy, world, if Douglas Adams is right today is not the end or beginning of anything because some folks say that it is.

    TONIGHT AT IKON: GIFTED

    I sat in the freezing metal folding chair waiting. The elders paced, deciding what to do with me next. As they did they occasionally spoke the same gibberish sounding language.

    The answer from me that threw them into indecisiveness was, "No." Their question? "Have you ever spoken in tongues? Been slain in the spirit?"

    This posed a problem for them. Their belief was that regardless of how much money they'd paid me to be at their church that morning I could not take the stage and sing or speak to their congregation if I wasn't a Christian. And they believed a Christian - a true Christian - spoke in tongues and got knocked down by God's Spirit from time to time - at least once.

    I didn't argue. I waited. I prayed. The pastor eventually entered the room and after being briefed on the situation rolled his eyes dismissively at his elders, cupped his heavy hand around my shoulder, raised me to my feet, said a quick prayer thanking God for my visit, amened and ushered me to the stage where I sang and spoke to his congregation about the God we have in common.

    We know from Paul that Christians are supposed to understand what these gift things and this Spirit character are but we also know that in trying to figure them out we Christians can become prideful and arrogant (like the Corinthians), harming one another accidentally, erecting walls that shouldn't exist. So we have to be careful and prayerful don't we? Or we could just be ignorant, decide not to learn what the Spirit and it's/his/her gifts are. But then we'd always wonder what we missed out on wouldn't we?

    Tonight at ikon Brian will help shed a little more light on all this while teaching 1 Corinthians 12, and hopefully we'll leave with a better idea of what these gifts are and why they exist and just how important or not important they should be to us. See you there.

    Until then, here's some of what Paul had to say about all this...

    "What I want to talk about now is the various ways God's Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often mis-understood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable. Remember how you were when you didn't know God, led from one phony god to another, never knowing what you were doing, just doing it because everybody else did it? It's different in this life. God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. For instance, by using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say "Jesus be damned!" Nor would anyone be inclined to say "Jesus is Master!" without the insight of the Holy Spirit.

    God's various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:

    wise counsel

    clear understanding

    simple trust

    healing the sick

    miraculous acts

    proclamation

    distinguishing between spirits

    tongues

    interpretation of tongues.

    All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when." (1 Corinthians 12:1-12 from THE MESSAGE translation)

    TEXAS THANK YOUS

    To everyone in Round Rock/Austin, Texas this weekend, thanks for the best time possible in 100 degree heat. (I didn't know children could just burst into flame like that.) Wish I could have stayed for the game but Pappasito's was calling my colon to the party. Congrats to The RIver 102.3 for getting off the ground and running. Thanks for spreading the word about the show. And thanks to Nolan Ryan for the autographed baseball...which I left behind. Doh!

    I'll be back to post later in the day hopefully but seeing as how I've been away for a couple days I need to hang out with my family a while first. I'm off to make some waffles. (by "make" I mean "heat up" of course.)

    6/03/2006

    THANKS CMCENTRAL

    Thanks to CMCentral.com for getting the word out about the donations drive here at SHLOG.COM. Again, donations will rebuild this site and fund the creation of my next CD. All donations over $10 get that CD in exchange.

    Thanks for the press guys. Anything I can do for you? Pay 'em a visit to say thanks.

    6/02/2006

    HERO

    Forget partisanship. You've got to read this story.

    WEB SITE COST

    Got the estimate on the website rebuild today. The new site will cost an ESTIMATED $622. You guys have already donated $379 of that. Wow!

    Kat is building the new site PRO BONO - everything but the graphics. Kat's a SHLOG.COM reader I got to meet in person when I played Waco not long ago. We geeked out talking web stuff together and she's contributed lots of insightful comments here over the past several months - so she's one of us. She has a reason to make this site great: she reads it. All we need to pay for is the software itself and Kat will install and configure and tweak for nothing! Again, wow!

    If there's anything you'd like to have on the new and improved shaungroves.com/shlog.com site speak now so we can get Kat crackin' on how to make it happen. If you know a great graphic designer who'd be interested in working with us on the redesign let us know that too.

    I still don't have an estimate on the recording cost for a new live CD and what not so for now the donations goal is $622. I'll up that goal when I get my act together on figuring out the live recording costs.

    Thanks for giving.

    DATING MY WIFE

    Truth is you never stop dating. They don't tell you this when you get married, and maybe that's why so many couples stare at each other silent in restaurants by the time they're forty. I don't know. I do know that dating my wife, asking her out to lunch or to a movie or whatever she's hinted not-so-subtly about wanting to do, helps us stay attached to each other.

    People keep learning and changing and growing their entire life - or I suppose so. Like hair and fingernails on cadavers, even the stiffest most inactive people I've ever known can't help but be pushed and prodded forward and back, side to side, by the living around them. And how do two married people keep up with each other's changes when this forced evolution occurs - especially when both are busy changing diapers, running errands, soft rocking, taxiing kids here and there, churching, working, and, um, blogging? Life moves fast and it's easy to miss each other in the blur of activity and wind up only spending time together at the end of our busy days - sleeping butt to butt in a King size bed. Isn't it? Am I alone on this?

    So I'm dating my wife today. Baby sitter gets here in a few. We'll go out and try to act as in love as we are - try to not think about what we're making for dinner or where I'll be this weekend, when the water bill's due or whether we're messing our kids up by leaving them alone with a sixteen year old for the day.

    It's the only way we've found to keep learning and growing together and not apart.

    So, no more blogging today. I have a hot date.