<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d12585839\x26blogName\x3dthe+old+SHLOG+(moved+to+shaungroves.c...\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLACK\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://readshlog.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://readshlog.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d-6606949357892583233', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

7/31/2006

DISCUSS THIS

Pastors, church musicians, and those who hate/love the music in their church might want to get in on this.

DISMANTLING EVENT CHURCH

I've been a vocal critic of "event church" and it's cousin "event evangelism." I think it's time to move from saying I don't like it do examining why and then doing something productive to counter it - with your help.

WHAT IS EVENT CHURCH?
These models of doing "ministry" invest most of their people power, talent, money and time into creating an event (usually a church service). The goal is sometimes to attract non-Christians to the church and to the Christian faith. A church with this goal is an "attractional event church." It is possible though to be an "event church" without being "attractional." Many churches with pipe organs and hymnals don't expect non-Christians to show up at their church services, for example, but they still invest most of their efforts and resources into those services, thus centering the church around the event of Sunday morning and making it an "event church" by the definition I'm using.

ONE PROBLEM WITH EVENT CHURCH: THEN WHAT?
Let's say you're not a Christian. You come to an event church service one day and you leave buying it. You pray for the first time in your life, you believe in Jesus for the first time too, and even join the church. Then what?

The event church doesn't answer this question all that well - if it even asks it. The pastors know the bible is clear on what God wants from them: make disciples. But they either think 1) they're doing that with their excellent worship service OR 2) they're doing that with "Sunday School" classes or small group bible study classes OR 3 )they think making believers is the same thing as making disciples.

THIS IS WHAT REALLY AILS YOU?
So the event church laments the horrible puny percentage of personal incomes given to it (tithe) and wrings it's hands over how on earth they'll ever get 98 people to volunteer to work in the childrens ministry. And they don't even dare dream of creating programs to end poverty and hunger and illiteracy and unemployment in their city or around the world. Hell, who would give and volunteer for such ambitious programs? It would never work.

So, I'm a critic of the event church because it attracts bored Christians and a small percentage of non-Christian adults but spends little on making disciples - which, ironically could grow a church and would definitely eliminate the beg for money and volunteers portions of the Sunday service.

WHAT ABOUT THAT CHURCH OVER THERE?
I know, because I've played at them, that there are many churches with killer music, using creative video and drama and other means of communication that are also making disciples. And there are churches that bore me to tears with their liturgies and read sermons and well-rehearsed choir pieces that are doing a great job making disciples. Being in these churches has kept me inspired to fight the event church mentality even more. Without fail the pastor of these disciple making churches explains to me how the church has grown and repaired it's city not by extolling the virtues of music and film or tradition and pipe organs but by teaching me how they make disciples that make disciples. The highly effective churches I've been in over the last several years are not event churches. They are churches that see Sunday morning as one of many cogs in the disciple making machine called church. They've somehow kept discipleship in their minds as the goal.

I've been a critic of event church because it doesn't work, it's not obedient to God's command to make disciples and see God's will done on earth as it is in Heaven, and it sells a false salvation to people - one that says getting "saved" one day for a future Heaven is why Jesus died. He did not. He died to save all things in all times in all places through His disciples who respond when He says, "Follow me."

NOW WHAT: BEYOND COMPLAINING
  • First, don't fill the comments section with your complaints about event church. I think we get it. There are lots of us who don't like it. We don't need to dog pile any further.

  • Second, let's talk about what a disciple is. Read anything good on the subject? Been discipled yourself? What did that look like specifically? How did it change you? How has that changed others?

  • Third, tell good stories. Use the comment section here to tell us who's doing it well. Who is making disciples - whether or not their services sound and look amazing? Brag on someone we can all be inspired by.

  • Fourth, talk to your church leaders calmly, kindly and lovingly. Go to them to learn, not to preach. Ask them what your church's mission is for it's church services. Ask them what they think discipleship is and how they do it? Ask them how you can help and then pray for them consistently.

  • STAR TREK, MONTY PYTHON AND GOD'S MYSPACE PAGE

    WARNING: I don't have cable so I'm easily entertained by moving pictures accompanied by sound, therefore these may only be worth watching to me...and a few of the Amish.

    Here are a couple free videos I've been saving up for a blogworthyless Monday like this. Enjoy.

    Star Trek Monty Python Mash-up:


    God on Myspace:


    (I personally think God would play a gold top Les Paul but at least they got his computer of choice right.)

    CLOSE BUT NOT YET

    YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING! You gave the $622 needed for the new website (under construction now) in just 7 days and now you've given $1797 of the $1800 needed to record the live CD. Wow! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Only $3 to go. Anyone?

    7/30/2006

    THANKS, GOVERNOR

    The governor of Texas links to SHLOG.COM. Who knew?

    Thanks, governor.

    7/28/2006

    GETTING HIGH, AVOIDING TOAST

    I'm teaching three seminars next week at The Gospel Music Association's Seminar In The Rockies - or what's commonly called just "Estes Park."

    It's way up there. Miles above Nashville so I'll be speaking, and walking, a little more slowly I'm sure. If you're there check out one of the seminar's I'm leading as part of Worship Leader Magazine's "Worship" track (I write for them now too; check it out.) :

    Thursday 9:45 - 11 AM Toast: Preventing and Surviving Burnout In Ministry
    Practical biblical strategies I've learned the hard way for balancing work and family, staying emotionally and spiritually fit, dealing with difficult people in the church and more.

    Thursday 1:30 - 2:45 After The Music Fades: Worshipping without song
    Should be called "Good news for the tone deaf"). Discover what the word "worship" really means in scripture. (Hint: It's never music in the original Hebrew or Greek.)

    Friday 9:45 - 11 AM The Kingdom of Heaven: When Worshippers Work
    What is the kingdom of Heaven and what do musicians have to do with it?

    I'll also be critiquing songs for burgeoning new writers brave enough for it (Friday 1:30-2:45) and co-hosting the National Finals of the Artist competition with my friend Rachel Lampa (Friday 7PM). (I think I get t play a song or two at that as well.)


    See you there.

    BRANT'S AFRICA JOURNAL

    Brant Hansen (That's a new link for him; looks like he took my advice. Gee.) is in Africa touring Compassion International's work there. His trip is part of WAY-FM's efforts to support the work of Compassion and rescue children from poverty around the world. This is just one of the many things I love about my friends at WAY-FM. Support them by listening and consider giving and know that you're supporting a radio station that mobilizes it's listeners to care for the least.

    Here's an excerpt from Brant's Africa Journal, go there to read about Compassion's work with AIDS patients, hear formerly hopeless people sing to God, meet African college graduates, and more.

    Today, I met a boy who told me he lives in the "second biggest slum in Africa." He's right, but it was disturbing that he knew. He also told me he's going to be a surgeon.

    I believe him.

    I wonder if his sponsor knows just how brilliant he is, how his mind shines amidst the dust in the second biggest slum in Africa.

    (He's pictured with me, standing and looking serious. He is a serious thinker! I love that!)

    Today, I bought a pair of sandals for 200 shillings. They're made out of tires -- just rubber and nails. A little boy named Daniel has a father who takes tire scraps and makes them, selling them in their on-the-busy-street home that's the size of my closet. He doesn't sell enough to keep his family together. They had to send their oldest away with extended family in order to survive.

    Daniel is still home, thanks to his Compassion sponsor. His mom's heart doesn't have to break, again, thanks to his Compassion sponsor. I wonder if his sponsor knows.

    Today, I saw kids playing soccer on a dirt field with a ball of bread-wrapper plastic. We brought some true soccer balls from a store in Riviera Beach. The kids played with abandon, and then, as we began to leave, returned to give us back our soccer balls.

    They couldn't believe they were for them, to keep. They were thrilled to get the news, and ran off to play.

    I wonder if their sponsor knows what kind of little boys they are.

    Today, I heard a little Muslim girl break down in tears. Her parents defend her Compassion project to friends and neighbors. "No, they're not the enemy, because they show love to our daughter. They give her food, and they're teaching her. They are good!"

    I wonder if Amapura's sponsor knows why she broke down in tears. When asked what her favorite thing is she had learned, she cried and said, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

    I wonder if her sponsor knows the hope her family is finding.

    7/27/2006

    SUMMER SKIN



    SUMMER SKIN (Death Cab For Cutie)

    Squeaky swings and tall grass
    The longest shadows ever cast
    The water's warm and children swim
    And we frolicked about in our summer skin

    I don't recall a single care
    Just greenery and humid air
    Then Labor day came and went
    And we shed what was left of our summer skin

    On the night you left I came over
    And we peeled the freckles from our shoulders
    Our brand new coats so flushed and pink
    And I knew your heart I couldn't win
    Cause the season's change was a conduit
    And we'd left our love in our summer skin


    BUY IT:
    Death Cab For Cutie - Plans (Bonus Video Version)

    EAVESDROPPING ON THE DIFFERENCE

    I eavesdropped on a conversation this morning over at Leaving Munster and thought the crowd here might like to pick it up and add on...seeing as how we're mostly the Americans in question. What do you think makes for so much difference of thought among the churches here on this issue?:

    LISA [An American; you can tell by the spelling and grammar]: Now, here’s what I find really interesting. While evangelical America is willing to embrace violence, Quakers, Anabaptists, Mennonites, and so forth shun it. The different in approach doesn’t lie in religion: same sacred text, same Christ. With these denominators being common, isn’t the difference essential secular: teaching and approach? The teachings of one group emphasize one thing and the teachings of the other group emphasize something else.

    GRAHAM [A European of some kind; you can tell by the "thus" and "perhaps"]: I think that there is a more essential difference than that. All of these groups oppose the Christendom marriage of Church & State. And that opposition is central to their identity. Thus, they are free to let the words of Christ take precedence over the welfare of the Nation-State. Perhaps then, in that sense, they have a different Christ and a different text.

    7/26/2006

    MEETING THE UNIBAUMER AT CHURCH

    So a friend of mine in NYC e-mailed asking me to come speak at his church. He didn't tell me what day of the week they meet, and being one of those new-fangled churches run by a youngin' with a mohawk and few piercings, well, Sunday wasn't a given. So I went to his church's site looking for a meeting time and poked around until I hit the link to their myspace page. And this beautiful song started playing. I was in love.

    I clicked on the music player and was whisked away to The UNIBAUMER's myspace page where I found little info about him/them but hopped a link to his/their blog from there where I fell in love once again - this time with his design skills, affection for all things Apple and his wordsmithery. (It's a word, I swear.)

    All that in 15 seconds. Nashville to NYC. My couch to The Unibaumer via...the church?

    Still like to know how I can get my hands on a disc. Jon? Hook-up? Speaking fee?

    RELEVINTAGE ON REFORMISSIONAL REV

    For anyone still interested...the most thorough and well-written review in the blogosphere of Mark Driscoll's book Confessions of a Reformission Rev is over at Relevintage. Brad writes a great summary and a brief interesting little discussion/diversion on Mark's choice of language in which Leonard Sweet is quoted as once writing:

    "I can enjoy and quote Nobel Prize-winning author Elias Canetti without embracing his sincere belief that he was never going to die. I can learn from and be instructed by the theology of Martin Luther without embracing his beliefs about the evil of Jews or his rejection of Copernicus. Ninety percent of Isaac Newton’s writings consist of treatises on theology, alchemy, and mysticism. Does that mean that his scientific colleagues should have dismissed his scientific work? Any visit to the Christian Hall of Fame [Hebrews 11] reveals a gallery of greats who didn’t have it all together or get it right, either."

    Click here to purchase Confessions of a Reformission Rev and read more about it.

    SMALL LEAP

    The thermometer will take a small much appreciated leap the next time it's updated thanks to Randy's plug yesterday. Thanks, man. I don't deserve friends like you or such kind reviews of my work.

    Power to the blogosphere!

    If this whole indie musician thing doesn't work out despite your efforts to support it maybe I can just hang out at your dream come true and paint and play all day - or teach a little if you'd have me. We'll see. I may need the work.

    NINE YEARS

    Happy anniversary to me.


    7/25/2006

    WHAT IF IT'S NOT TRUE?

    IKON72506We're STILL reading through the apostle Paul's letter to the early Christian church in Corinth at ikon. Tonight Brian's going over chapter 15 and asking us, "What if it's not true? What if Jesus didn't come back to life after he was crucified? What then?"

    Here's some of what Paul says in chapter 15 of his letter...

    Now, let me ask you something profound yet troubling. If you became believers because you trusted the proclamation that Christ is alive, risen from the dead, how can you let people say that there is no such thing as a resurrection? If there's no resurrection, there's no living Christ. And face it—if there's no resurrection for Christ, everything we've told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you've staked your life on is smoke and mirrors. Not only that, but we would be guilty of telling a string of barefaced lies about God, all these affidavits we passed on to you verifying that God raised up Christ—sheer fabrications, if there's no resurrection.

    If corpses can't be raised, then Christ wasn't, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ weren't raised, then all you're doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. It's even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection, because they're already in their graves. If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we're a pretty sorry lot.
    (1 CORINTHIANS 15:12-20 from THE MESSAGE translation)

    MAKING MONKS

    Recently friends from a major publisher of Sunday school curriculum called me. They were researching trends in spiritual formation, they said, and they thought I might help them.

    After a few warm-up questions, they got to the heart of the matter: “What would you recommend for spiritual formation in our time?”

    “The monastery,” I said.

    There was a long pause.

    “I’m serious,” I said.

    Another long pause. “You’re going to have to unpack that for us,” they finally said.

    “It’s a proven model,” I pointed out, “a model that includes everything we know brings about transformation. What would happen to your life” (I was now turning the question on them) “if you lived in close geographical community and relationship with other people; if you lived in submission to authority; if you practiced silence and simplicity and discipline; if you regularly read the Bible and prayed and meditated on what you read; if you made study part of your life; and if you worked hard in some daily occupation, seeing your labor as full of dignity and offering it to God?”

    “But not everyone can move into a monastery,” they said. True, but...

    Read the rest.

    7/24/2006

    CHUNKING SPEROS AT CTI or HEY THAT'S ME!

    Must have been a slow news day. Spero News covered the dubious spamming practices of Christianity Today On-Line - the internet affiliate of Christianity Today (CTI) the magazine.

    Why are folks upset?

    Well, to blame, in my opinion, is our inconsistent definition of "spam." Is leaving a comment on a blog containing a link to your own blog or company spam? What if that link contributes in some way to the conversation taking place in the comments? What if the comment leaver is using a pseudonym? What if leaving a comment drives traffic to the commentor's site or business?

    What do you think? Was CTI or Mr.Herman spamming or not?

    And thanks for the linkage Spero News. I haven't gotten any traffic from you yet, but...Wait, you linked to me in a news story your unsuspecting readers will read and then, you know, click on. An of course now I'm linking to you. So, in a round about sort of way you benefit by linking to me. And doing so isn't spamming your readers because...

    Blurry lines. Definitions - or a chill pill - needed.

    BLOG POLL

    So it' not the meaning of life or anything but it's a good question - alright, a decent question - Ok, a boring question only interesting to me but please take the time to answer anyway: Why do you frequent the blog(s) you do? You can choose as many answers as you want but you can only register a "vote" one time. Results coming soon.


    WHY DO YOU FREQUENT A BLOG?
    Information/News
    Humor
    Inspiration
    Personal stories
    Read comments
    Leave comments
    Argue/Discuss/Debate ideas
    Don't know.
    Other.
      
    Free polls from Pollhost.com


    7/21/2006

    HUCKABUCK

    If you're Ritalin prescription has run out and left you bored bored bored to the point of disappointment with every aspect of your life including your search engine experience, well, have I got good news for you. SIX SEARCH ENGINES!...in one.

    It's called Huckabuck and it's the only way I know of to search Google, Digg, Yahoo, Technorati, MSN, and del.icio.us all at the same time. Hit the "search tuner" button to unleash your inner control freak and "tune" your front page results.

    Wow, thank you, Huckabuck. I've been itching for even more pages of search results to comb through.

    Why do we need this?

    (HT:SG)

    7/20/2006

    AHEM, SHLOG?

    Alright, I'm tired of friends reluctantly saying the name of my blog. And of fellow bloggers reluctantly posting the name of my blog.

    I get it. It's dirty.

    "Shlog" is similar to "shlong." "Shlong" (actually spelled "schlong") is a slang term used by thirteen year olds no later than the nineteen eighties for "penis." "Penis" is the anatomical name given to one component of male genitalia. Genitalia are utilized in sexual intercourse. Those who don't engage in sexual intercourse as regularly as we very attractive happily married folk giggle at the mere mention of a word in any way related to sexual intercourse.

    "That's funny. He said penis and then geni-something and a long word with sex in it...a lot."

    Grow up.

    Shaun + Blog = SHLOG. That's all.

    NAKED, NEEDLES AND JUMPER CABLES

    The thought of being naked before a stranger terrifies me. But not as much as being naked while a stranger sticks dozens of needles into my backside. And that level of fear doesn't begin to compare to my feelings the moment a needle wielding stranger said to a naked me yesterday, "Hold on while I connect the electricity to a few of these."

    Hold on? Where am I going? Where DOES one go naked and all, with, you know, dozens of needles sticking out of one's back and butt? And what would one say to the no doubt bewildered gawkers when one arrived where one was going? "I'm sorry for my prickly appearance and general lack of apparel but you see I was stepping into the shower a little while ago when I remembered I hadn't cleaned that blow gun I picked up on my last trip to the Amazon basin in quite some time. Needless to say something went horribly awry shortly thereafter. I ran here seeking your assistance. Is anyone skilled with tweezers?"

    So hold on I did. And boy am I glad. There's nothing quite as invigorating as several volts of electricity zipping into fleshy butt cheeks through forests of tiny needles - I've always said. In fact there are many days I wake up and gleefully greet my family with, "Hey, you know what I could sure go for right about now? A little pick me up. A little jump start to my day. Somebody grab the sewing kit and a spool of wire and meet me at that wall socket in the den. Let's party!"

    Of course I've never said that. Who would? Who sits around brainstorming medical remedies and comes up with this? "I've got it! Here's what we do. Alright, we stick a bunch of needles into people, hook those needles up to a car battery, put on that John Tesh in Asia CD my no taste mom bought me for graduation and - here's the kicker - they pay us to." Who would think of such a thing?

    The Chinese.

    Brilliant. Terrifyingly so.

    And you know something, as odd as it was - even on my fourth visit - I have to admit it works..at least for me.

    So tomorrow I'm going to see this Vietnamese lady downtown who, for only $100, promises she'll shove slivers of bamboo under my toe nails while making me watch Gaither Homecoming videos. Can't wait.

    7/19/2006

    LETTER FROM THE FRONT LINES

    Joel Vestal is the founder of ServLife and a close friend of Brian's. Joel plants indigenous churches, works to end poverty, and a lot more in places where it's not at all safe to be a Christian...or even a person for that matter. Visit ServLife later to find out more about what he and his team do around the world, but for now here's his latest letter (highly edited for length here) sent out to friends this week. Worth pondering and acting on.

    SUBJECT: Start a Movement of PEACE

    I have been asking myself in recent days from following so many complicated global issues, is it possible for the church of Jesus (that is you and me) to rise above partisan politics and economic/ethnic divide and be an instrument of peace in an ever increasing hostile world? I believe it is. ...We as the church should involve ourselves in the public square; however, we as image bearers of the most high God have more power within us than any military or commander in chief in the world to rattle the halls of hell and move the heart of God to awaken his people to action (Rom 8:11). Indeed, there is great power waiting to be unleashed among us to see peace in the world come through the church of Jesus Christ, that is you and me.

    As Israel’s offensive continues and the Hezbollah fights back, we are all [faced] with the ambiguity of Middle East policies, promises, and protocol. It is not [as] easy [an] issue as some want to make it out to be. [The situation] is very multifaceted in the Middle East and globally there are ethnic, economic, cultural, religious complexities as well that leads easily to scratching one’s head in bewilderment. I know I have been scratching in recent days...

    ...I do believe strongly that any war should be the last resort. I should say again, any act of war should be last resort and not the first response. The inevitable loss of innocent life saddens me profoundly. I wish to give four basic reminders on how we as the body of Christ, no matter where you are located or the kind of expression you embrace, can respond in the light of current political turmoil the world is currently in and see Shalom (peace) realized and expressed.

    Reminder #1: Gather others to pray. We must pray because we are not equipped to see peace on merely our own strength and ability. We need divine power and divine intervention. We need God. We need Him to reveal his love to the hearts of all people on the earth. We need God to touch his people and through His leadership to move out into relationships and regions to be the presence of Jesus. Need some help on what to pray for? Here are some requests for prayer from Christian friend in Lebanon:

    Please pray for God’s intervention in our country and the Middle east to stop any further bloodshed and destruction

    Pray for the local churches to come alongside the needy in practical support

    Pray for our leaders – for wisdom

    Pray for us as Lebanese Christians- that we may be salt and light

    Here are some requests from a Palestinian Christian who I just talked with one week ago while I was in a Palestinian region:

    Pray for our Christian Palestinian brothers and sisters to give our food and clothes to our Muslim neighbors who are suffering

    Pray for patience and endurance to follow Christ and love all people

    Pray for people to come to know Jesus Christ, the prince of peace

    Reminder #2 - Give resources to peace makers – I am not suggesting this to merely raise money for our own mission. There are thousands of organizations that are filled with peace makers with the gospel. They are acting justly and loving mercy and walking humbly before our God (Micah 6:8). The fact is that many work with little support and ability to give aid and assistance. Every one of us can do more, sacrifice more, and give more. A Lebanese friend in Beirut with little resources wrote me one day after Israel began bombing Lebanon and said

    “Air-raids started again as early as 3:00 am targeting the Beirut International Airport and the southern suburb of Beirut. This went on and off all day today. The artillery and bombs being used are horrendous. May God have mercy! Families are being displaced from the heavily targeted areas seeking shelter in school buildings. Effective early this afternoon, our Beirut Baptist School opened its doors offering temporary shelter to 200 Muslim people (around 30 families) from southern Lebanon. Upon arrival we offered them food and drink; yet we have no notion of how temporary will this situation be. We live each day at a time and trust God for his intervention.”

    Reminder # 3 - Be an instrument of peace: Go to an oppressed and controversial region and offer assistance, love, and relationship - Whatever it takes and whatever you have to do, there are multiple ways to enter into hostile areas and bring aid, love, and assistance. I was just in a Hertz rental car ten days ago and drove from Jerusalem to the west Bank (Palestinian area) and was stopped at a few check points and showed my passport and was allowed to drive on. We were met by some Christians who showed us the birth place of Jesus in Bethlehem and took us back to their store they owned. They shared without bitterness or anger of the 26 foot concrete wall the Israelis had built to keep them from leaving Bethlehem. Oder was a young, articulate Palestinian Christian tour guide who could not even get to Jerusalem to do tours because he could not get a permit. He shared that the Christian population in the Bethlehem had decreased from 80,000 to 20,000 in just about 7 years but he had no plans to leave.

    ...There are other regions filled with conflict that I will advocate you to creatively engage and enter into like Iran, North Korea, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, India, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc. What if you and your circle of influence could organize a way to raise $10,000 and go give aid, love, and encouragement to the Palestians who are suffering? Figure out how to distribute food in North Korea? Is it possible? Sure it is.

    Just one month ago, the United Nations released this statement, “Though gravely under-funded, UN agency is set to feed 120,000 more Palestinians Facing “an escalating humanitarian crisis” in the occupied Palestinian territory due to the non-payment of 150,000 government employees and more frequent Israeli crossing closures, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that it will increase the number of non-refugees it feeds by 25 percent, from 480,000 to 600,000. We are seeing increasing numbers of impoverished people whose means of survival are being pushed to the limit." WFP Country Director Arnold Vercken warned. “We are in a race against time to reach the most vulnerable with food aid and avoid an escalation of this crisis." No matter what your political opinion is on the issue, the fact is that Israel has stopped the transfer of Palestinian value added taxes (VAT) and customs taxes and innocent people are suffering. This comprises around 50 per cent of the Palestinian Authority budget. Other countries have also suspended contributions to the PA. The 150,000 employees on its payroll support 1 million people, or more than 25 per cent of the population. “...We are also very concerned about the growing numbers of people, often children, rummaging through garbage cans,” Mr. Vercken said. I recognize the reality and need for Israel to protect herself and that will be debated on to what degree they should. However, the reality and opportunity before us as the church to respond and act is present.

    In southern Thailand, where I currently reside with my family and other people in the ServLife community, we have launched a loan program. We have given loans to the Muslim community.to start fish farms who are poor and marginalized. Relationships have been created between Thai Christians and Thai Muslims as a result. Trust has been established and dialogue has been birthed and peace is a result. The opportunities are endless to care, love, and bring peace to millions in the world.

    Reminder #4: Peace will come when we preach the Gospel--

    The gospel of Jesus Christ is what people need to experience and embrace. The love of God will flow into the heart of anyone who responds to the gospel of Christ(Rom 8:39). The love of God will transform the heart of man and give them the power to love and forgive their enemies (Matt 5:43). How will people know and believe unless they are told? How will they be told unless we are sent? (Rom 10:15). As we live the gospel, we must also preach the gospel in love, humility, brokenness, and clarity.

    Preach the gospel where Christ is not known (Rom 15:20). Be eager to preach the gospel (Rom 1:15); Do not be ashamed of the gospel because it the power of God for the salvation of everyone (Rom 1:16) The righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel (Rom 1:17) Offer the gospel free of charge (1 Cor 1:19) Pray that those who are blinded to the gospel will have their veils lifted from their eyes (2 Cor 4:3). Do not preach about yourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. (2 Cor 4:4) Be prepared in season and out of season to preach the gospel (2 Tim 4:2).

    A movement is needed. It can start with you!
    Stay Led!

    Joel Vestal

    NINJA OR COLD?

    I've been attacked by a cold...or a ninja posing as a cold. I'm not sure. Anyway, while I recuperate watch this, because knowing is half the battle.


    7/18/2006

    THERMOMETER STALLED

    You may notice that thermometer over on the left has stalled out. Hasn't moved in days. I'm taking pre-orders on the road for the live CD in hopes of adding those pre-payers' cash to the thermometer's total. Maybe we'll reach the goal that way.

    Until the goal is met I'm not booking the venue for the live CD or securing the engineer, piano, sound equipment etc etc etc. I don't want to make all the plans for recording a live disc and not be able to pay folks on the day they show up to work. I know the music business is a work now get paid some day industry but I'd like to pay as I go.

    So, for those of you who've e-mailed or asked when the disc is being recorded and where, that's the best answer I've got for now. It won't happen until the thermometer is all blue. And it will happen, it just may take longer than previously hoped for.

    The good news the wait is buying me time to write new music for the disc and rework some old songs that never made it on previous projects of mine. Yes, that Texas song is getting some attention from me finally.

    7/17/2006

    ORDERING McCHURCH

    Churches would probably draw more people and fight less if steeples were just replaced with golden arches. If religion could be a little less organized and little more...what's the word...fast foodish, they'd do a brisker business don't you think?

    The arches on top would let people know that like the food chain that used them first this church will get you in and out quickly, with exactly what you're hungry for, made to order, for a very small price. Comfortable seats. Comfortable conversation - or none at all. It's up to you, the customer, who, by the way, is always right.

    But for now the steeple stays. And it reminds us, that regardless of what customers - I mean, members - think a church wasn't established to serve Happy Meals every week and pastors who don't double as short order cooks will never please every patron in their establishment.

    A church is a church.

    What would happen if the early Church pastor Paul were to encounter a McChurch in the making? He's bound to make some rules and pronouncements and changes, it's what Paul does, but what kind? How organized does organized religion really need to be? And why? Why can't Paul just let folks hang out and eat crap together if they're happy? Lighten up. Find out tomorrow at ikon as we take a look at the back half of 1 Corinthians 14.

    WORDS AND MUSIC

    After the gig a guy in his early twenties walks up to me and introduces himself. "I'm Shaun," I say. "I know," he says and laughs as if me introducing myself is silly. Then he tells me an amazing story of how his life "turned around" and how God "changed" him and how he's now studying to be a pastor. And the ending of his tale is that I'm somehow to credit for this. Well, a song of mine.

    He said he heard that song and it made him feel and think differently than he had and God "spoke" to him through it.

    And then those awkward compliments/labels got thrown on top of me again: Anointed. Blessed. God speaks through you like no one else. Etc.

    Awkward.

    I don't know what to do in moments like this. I used to cut myself down, pridefully bring up some negative aspect of myself or performance. "I only know five chords" or "Man, I'm just as messed up as you are" only made scenes like this one more uncomfortable. So now I just say, "Thank you."

    The fear though is that just saying thanks and not reminding "fans" and myself frequently that I'm no better, wiser, or closer to God than they are might allow my ego to get the best of me one day. Sooner than later I could be that guy wearing sunglasses inside and demanding sun dried tomatoes and brown M&Ms in his rider.

    So it was good to read the words of Philip Yancey this morning and feel like I'm in good company and not out of my mind to worry about getting swallowed by my own pride. He writes...

    "I think, frankly, every writer faces the temptation of pride. There’s an inherent assumption that what I’ve got to say is worth your time—read my book! [Laughter] Writing is an odd field because there is no more paranoia-producing, lonely occupation than sitting there with a blank computer screen wondering if you can come up with something that can capture people’s attention. So, that’s a very humbling aspect. But then, if the book works and you go out to a book signing or to speak somewhere, then there are all these people saying, “Oh, you’re so wonderful. You changed my life. You have all these answers.” Fortunately, 80 percent of my life is sitting in the basement struggling and the other part just seems like this unreal world."

    The next incarnation of this website is an attempt on my part to let you see more of the 80% of my life spent struggling to write music, to market it, to understand where it comes from and why it sometimes doesn't come at all. The new shaungroves.com will have two blogs - apart from SHLOG - simply called "MUSIC" and "WORDS" where I'll post about the creative process as it happens - maybe once a week. I'll try to explain what happens in the basement - the easy and not-so-easy path to creating something that will later miraculously benefit other people.

    The hope, I think, is that you'll be less likely to call me things I'm not and more likely to go off and create something of your own. You'll be grateful when something I write means something to you but you won't put me on a pedestal for having penned it. You'll know I stumbled my way through that chorus. I didn't sit down by a burning bush and take dictation. And then maybe if you see me after a show we can talk like two mere humans, equals trying to hear and follow God - and the awkward will stop.

    THE LURE OF THEOCRACY

    "Several years ago a Muslim man said to me, 'I find no guidance in the Qur'an on how Muslims should live as a minority in a society and no guidance in the New Testament on how Christians should live as a majority.' He put his finger on a central difference between the two faiths."

    Read the rest of "The Lure Of Theocracy" written by Christianity's Bob Ross, Philip Yancey.

    (HT:JSL)

    7/15/2006

    SERAPH

    I met the band Seraph last night. They opened for me at a minor league baseball game gig in Mobile, Alabama. Great guys. It's so rare that I get to work with indie musicians. It's even rarer that I'm this enamored with them afterward. Good music. Great attitudes.

    The guys in Seraph are congregational worship leaders at heart - meaning they sing songs the rest of us sing along with. And they're good at this. Their lead singer, after all, is a music minister at a local church in Mobile. He's not a cheerleader and I like that. I didn't feel like I was at a pep rally for Jesus, being told at the start of every song to put my hands together or sing louder. No, these guys just played, did it well and had so much fun doing it that we wanted to sing along. And we did, to every song - originals and covers of popular "worship" tunes by the likes of David Crowder and others.

    They use a lot of toys: mandolin, banjo, harmonica, electric guitars and bass, drums, keyboard, programmed loops. But the high energy noise they make with it all is tasteful and not distracting to the folks singing along. This is one of the most professional sounding indie groups I've heard live.

    But still there are hundreds of artists who can do what they do musically. They'd be the first to tell you that they're not blazing new territory, not all that unique in the end, not dethroning U2 as the best band in the world anytime soon - or even trying to. What is unique about Serpah, what most impressed me, what makes them truly great, is what they love to do most. They love going to youth camps (what??) and getting to know the kids for an entire week there and continuing to correspond with and support those kids long after camp has ended. They're not rock stars. They're approachable and generous with their time. As they put it, they don't slip out of a green room to play a show and then climb on a bus and drive off when it's over. They hang out all day every day at these camps they play AND make good music to top it all off.

    Every artist doesn't have to be this way of course. Some of us just don't connect with kids so well. Some of us hate camp food. Some of us still have nightmares involving underwear and a flag pole. But these guys love the whole camp and youth group thing. So I highly recommend Seraph to you, especially if you're a youth minister looking for good musicians who care about kids to come to your next event or camp. They'll show up on time, work hard, have a great attitude while they do it and befriend everyone they meet. They'll make you a fan.

    Check 'em out:

  • www.myspace.com/seraph6

  • E-mail them: burningcoalmin1@GMAIL.com

  • Book them: www.burningcoalministries.com


    Thanks to everyone at Hank Aaron Field last night for a great time, and a stadium hot dog.

  • 7/14/2006

    WWIII

    I heard three conservative AM talk show hosts yesterday warn of an impending WWIII. Their belief is that the current state of affairs in Japan, Korea, Iran, Israel, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere is brewing into a "war to end all wars."

    I don't doubt it. I can't. I'm no world scholar. I don't have the facts these sources have or the brains with which to prognosticate a different outcome from them.

    So, assuming they're all right and soon the U.S. will be drawn into armed conflict not only in Iraq and Afghanistan but on the Asian peninsula as well, what can be done NOW rather than later by Christians world-wide to sew peace instead? Anything?

    It's one thing to cry out against war once it's broken out - that's easy - but to work on preventing it as soon as it seems a possibility (and even before) is the hard task of the disciple of Christ. Ideas?

    7/13/2006

    THE RISE AND FALL OF THE HIT

    Not long ago I suggested record label types read a recent article by Chris Anderson on the death of the hit published in WIRED Magazine. On a visit to my former label today my former publicist - the talented April - said she did.

    Now you can too without buying the magazine. It's a little steep. April informed me that WIRED has posted the article on-line. Check it out here. It's good stuff.

    Thanks for reading, April, and thanks for the tip. Here's hoping you guys at Rocketown are the first in Nashville to conquer the new niche driven world of entertainment.

    THE PEACE STORE

    What if capitalists adopted a greater end goal than profit for profit's sake? What if instead we capitalists made profit for the purpose of profiting others? That's the idea behind The Peace Store, a new venture of mine built into shaungroves.com version 2.0 being crafted as you read this.

    Here's the concept:

  • You, the buyer, get to purchase things that don't have my name on them. Just cool stuff. In the beginning we'll only stock t-shirts but hopefully move into other wares as well. And these wares will be worth buying - shirts that look and feel great. No cheesy slogans. No Hanes Beefy-T's.

  • T-shirt manufacturers and printers donate the goods to the store or sell them to the peace store at wholesale. This keeps the cost of doing business low and profits as high as possible. (E-mail me if you'd like to donate your services.)

  • 100% of the profits from the peace store go directly to faith-based organizations making peace. Peace is not the absence of war and fear but the presence of completeness, of wholeness.

    So, for example, let's say you buy a shirt for $15 that benefits Compassion International's work in Uganda. A company sells me the shirt for $3.50, the wholesale price. You get to wear a swanky shirt from The Peace Store that impresses your friends and Compassion International gets a donation of $11.50 with which it feeds kids, clothes them, gives them medicine, teaches them about Jesus and, well, makes peace. That's what we call a win win.

    BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!

    If you sign up for the "affiliate program" you can earn money for sending other folks to The Peace Store to shop! So, Mr, Youth Minister, you need to raise some cash for your kids to go on that mission trip this Summer? Well, fear not. Become an affiliate of The Peace Store. E-mail your entire church a special link we provide you to The Peace Store. And BAM! You're earning 15% from every purchase made through that link FOREVER! Sweet deal.

    By the way, the store will have it's own url so people following your link won't have to go through shaungroves.com's homepage first. They might not even know they're deep inside my site at all. So even the weirdo who hates my music - is there such a person alive? - can shop undisgusted and unaware in The Peace Store.

    Just something to look forward to from the new and much improved shaungroves.com site.

    As always, any ideas or contributions you have to make to what we're doing now and in the future are welcomed.

  • THAT MAKES 2

    Last night was our second trip to the emergency room with a child. The first trip was less than a year ago when Gresham pole-vaulted from an ottoman over the couch and into a lamp and table, poking a jagged hole through his eyelid. Gnarly.

    Last night Penelope, a one year old novice walker with a mouth full of teeth, fell and bit a hole through her tongue.

    Well, it turned out that it wasn't through but pretty stinkin' close. She definitely had a gash on the top of her tongue but what we thought was an exit wound beneath was only a very dark bruise. After more than three hours at the emergency room entertaining her with blown up hospital gloves, Kleenex boxes that magically never run out tissue, and a TV playing Univision "comedy", I was given the choice of a stitch or "wait and see" how well it heals in the next few days. I couldn't take putting her through stitches on her tongue (!!) so we're waiting. We're eating popsicles and waiting.

    Waiting for that bill too. Ouch.

    7/12/2006

    TRUTH IN HUMOR?

    Evangelicals decided in about 1976 that Jesus' earthly ministry was essentially political and that he had intended to take over the Roman government precinct by precinct, using "get out the vote" drives and putting voter guides in synagogues each November. He was thwarted by a run-in with Roman authorities that turned out badly, but 2,000 years later evangelicals wish to fulfill Christ's goal of gaining control of the modern secular superpower...

    Jimmy Carter was the first "born again" president, but disappointed evangelicals by confessing his sins to a "skin" magazine (rather than to Rosalyn or to his accountability group) and quaffing Billy Beer. So the evangelical community threw it's support behind an army of divorced Republicans - Ronald Reagan, John McCain, Dick Armey, Phil Gramm, John Engler, Bob Dole, Pete Wilson, John Kasich, Susan Molinari, and Newt Gingrich - who at least understood that the Bible allows for divorce if your staff assistant is cuter (see Matthew 5:31). As a group, these politicians came to represent America's Moral Majority...

    ...Here is how evangelicals interpret Bible passages to arrive at their [political] positions:

    "Remember the poor" (Galatians 2:10) really means "Remember how lazy the poor are and thank God you're not on welfare like them."

    "My kingdom is not of this world." (Jesus in John 18:36) really means "But for now, make sure you keep control of the White House and Congress."

    "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" (Jesus in Matthew 22:21) really means "Only pay taxes on money you can't hide from the IRS."

    "Thou shalt not kill" (God in Exodus 20:13) really means "Kill only those who deserve it - like death row inmates, abortion doctors, sworn enemies of the United States, and the French, when possible."

    "The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it" (Genesis 2:!5) really means "Don't worry about the environment because when Jesus comes back he'll destroy the earth anyway."

    From A Guide To Evangelicals and Their Habitat.

    True or not? Well if you're laughing it probably is to some extent.

    IF GOD WERE A GEEK

    ?
    $CreateDate = strtotime(0);
    $SawThatItWas = (light == true) ? "Good" : "Bad";
    include("seas");
    include("heavens");
    require_once("birds");
    require_once("fish_in_sea");
    $mammal => "Human";
    rest(86400);
    ?

    7/11/2006

    AMAZE OR AMEN: TONIGHT AT IKON

    Tonight at ikon we're looking into 1 Corinthians 14 - the 14th chapter of the apostle Paul's letter to the church in Corinth. They have a lot of problems, not the least of which is figuring out whether or not they should be "speaking in tongues", what that means and how important it is? Is it more important than teaching, for instance? We'll try to get to the bottom of Paul's answer to them and learn a little something about that way-too-familiar word "amen" along the way - something that could make a big difference in how we look at church and ourselves.

    See you there.

    ANOTHER RADIO REPLACEMENT: PANDORA

    Why would I listen to the radio at work when I can listen to Pandora. Listen to music of all genres for free, no DJs, no ads for car dealerships, no traffic and weather breaks and no division of sacred and secular. Music is piped in for me based on what I like about music and nothing else.

    Upon arriving at Pandora you'll be asked to enter an artist's name. Let's say, you know, just for example sake, you put in my name. Pandora "programs" a station with my music and similar music - music with the same "dna." So you're likely to hear Robbie Seay Band, Tom Petty, Cool Hand Luke or Leigh Nash. But as each song plays you can tell Pandora if you like it or not, if you want to skip it or give it a thumbs up, and over time it learns why you like my music and fine tunes your station to better reflect your likes and dislikes.

    You can set up multiple stations. A Rob Zombie station. A Johnny Cash station. A Kanye West station. A Death Cab For Cutie station. Each station plays music with similar DNA to the artist you've chosen. You're in charge.

    Brilliant. For free.

    BACK FROM THE BUBBLE

    The anniversary trip is over. The "trip" was really more of a commute from our home outside of Nashville into the big city for a couple days. We walked around the gardens at Cheekwood first because we needed the silence to detox from kids and work and just be alone to sit and talk. Becky went to a spa for some pampering afterwards while I checked us into our hotel and made dinner arrangements. We ate at places we've never been to before at lunch and dinner because one of Becky's favorite things is trying new food. We shopped the clearance section of women's apparel at Target because Becky doesn't ever get to do that without having to corral small children at the same time or feeling rushed to get back home and help me corral the children. Then we ate some more. That was the first day.

    Day two was movie day - Becky's design. We slept in and ate unhealthy Cinnabons for breakfast - no usual morning exercising and no guilt about it either. We got showered and dressed leisurely without fixing anyone else's breakfast or getting anyone else's shoes on the right feet. And then we saw Pirates of the Caribbean (3 out of 5 stars), broke for Mexican food, saw The Lake House (1 star, and that's generous) and then headed over to the Saffire Grill to hear some live jazz and eat until it hurt...because moms and dads of small children don't get to go to movies very often, especially two in one day, and never get to eat for so long so late.

    Basically we hung out like friends for a couple days - friends who don't care what they eat, don't care about being productive, have no place to be and nothing important to do and no one needing anything from them. We lived in our own little bubble for 48 hours. It was nice in the bubble. A little too quiet after a while but nice.

    The bubble popped Saturday afternoon when my parents/baby-sitters left town and I did too, which left Becky at home alone with three kids again - but rejuvenated.

    We've decided to do this two day getaway thing every three months or so, even if it's just heading into Nashville. We need it like a car needs a tune up every now and then. Just getting away together and remembering why we got married in the first place - because we're crazy about each other - is something we need to do more regularly. It makes living outside the bubble of alone time a little less overwhelming.

    Getting away together makes eating right and exercising again even more painful though. But I'm easing my way back into healthy with a large Coke and two greasy hash browns from McDonald's this morning - don't want to shock the system you know. Re-entry's a process. A couple of days and I'll be back to granola and organically grown veggies. Something to look forward to.

    7/08/2006

    EMBRACING THE SEVENTIES

    I'm embracing the seventies tonight. Other hotel chains use fancy words like "renovate" and "redecorate" but not Best Western. Like Captain loved Tennille, Best Western has a hankering for Santa Fe themed wall "art" and teal carpet it's not about to let go of.

    Truth may be that I'm just bitter because I got spoiled by my room at the Marriot the last few days and had to leave town again sooner than I wanted to. Becky and I returned from our anniversary vacation just long enough for me to kiss the kids hello, then good bye again, and hop on a plane with Brian to Phillie...from whence I blog tonight. (That's right, I said "whence.")

    In the morning I'm at Calvary Church in Souderton, Pennsylvania. I'm playing in their two church services then speaking to/hanging out with about forty musicians at a lunch/forum hosted by the church, then an evening concert.

    That's a busy day. Better head to bed now...to my teal green and flower print bed.

    7/06/2006

    GONE

    I'm gone for the next three days , including this one, celebrating my anniversary. Nine years has flown by.

    We've had a full day so far. At breakfast at the Loveless Cafe, then spent the morning walking and talking without any interruptions from little people at Cheekwood botanical gardens and museum. After lunch there I dropped Becky off to get a massage and relax a little before we go out tonight for a long dinner - again with no interruptions and no place to be. More relaxation and alone time tomorrow...after we sleep in...way in.

    I'll be back here Saturday evening. Until then, I'm unplugged and loving it.

    7/05/2006

    BUSH + BONO = WRONG


    GETTING THE WIDOW WRONG

    The Anabaptist over at Leaving Munster reads SHLOG. In fact, he noticed when I posted a link to his article on jubilee recently, and he followed the discussion that took place here afterwards.

    Seems some folks ere and elsewhere have been using the story of the widow's mite in the bible to argue against his take on tithing (which was only part of his original post on jubilee I referred to). His response to the widow argument and his explanation of the widow's story is fascinating and well worth reading.

    Basically what you and I grew up learning in Sunday School somewhere about how the widow who had so little was praised by Jesus for giving so much might not be true after all. The Anabaptist says, "what is clear is that the passage is not about a very generous poor person." Find out what he thinks it IS about at Leaving Munster. And visit him often to learn from the very smart folks hanging out over there.

    7/04/2006

    WHERE TO FIND BLOGGER TEMPLATES

    Random I know but I've been asked about where to find Blogger templates. I remember when I first started on Blogger and all the trouble I had finding something more unique than the overused templates they provide. So, here's the best Blogger template source I've found: http://www.geckoandfly.com/blogspot-templates/ Enjoy.

    Never used any of these templates only because I never planned on staying with Blogger for long. Reminder: the new nonBlogger SHLOG.COM site is in the works thanks to your donations. Coming soon!

    7/01/2006

    HEY, RECORD LABEL GUYS

    I suggest buying this month's WIRED Magazine and reading the story starting on page 122 a couple times: "The Rise And Fall Of The Hit." It's an excerpt from the upcoming book The Long Tail by Chris Anderson.

    It puts forth irrefutable evidence that you're in trouble. The hit is dead. The old way of marketing and thinking about the fan and the artist isn't working anymore.

    "Twenty one of the all time top 100 albums [based on sales] were released in the five year period between 1996 and 2000. The nest five years produced only two..." (Norah Jones and OutKast)

    Your future, according to Chris, is the niche, open-source, long tail, internet connectivity, consumer empowerment and involvement, Web 2.0 and a lot of other trendy sounding words. Chris warns, "The Internet favors infinite niches, not one-size-fits-all fare. It has as many senders as receivers - it's the opposite of the broadcast. But the entertainment industry won't be able to internalize the lessons of this shift for decades."

    So, buy the magazine and the book. Read them both and repeat after me: I will not blame pirates or a lack of radio play for my sagging sales any longer. The world has changed and I have not changed with it. I am to blame. The methods of the past will not work as well today. I will learn a new way, work a new way, and stop whining. I will start today by befriending a fifteen year old with a laptop and a high speed wireless internet connection.