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Writing a Blog is Tough….and other life lessons

May 6, 2009

writing

It’s true. Anytime I feel like I have something worth blogging about I manage to re-write my thoughts about ten times. This blog is my attempt to write something without changing anything. This is the director’s cut, Baby, unedited, unfiltered, and IN YOUR FACE!

Moving on.

I have been thinking quite a bit about the songs that we sang last night at Genesis. I had an amazing time worshipping God through music but I have been wondering what I am supposed to do now. Simple. Practice what I preach. (or sing in this case) I am not going to let myself sing songs of surrender to God and keep parts of myself from Him. I am done with that.

Woohoo!!! I did it!

Stuff Christians Like But I Certainly Don’t (sarcasm implied)

April 24, 2009

adidas“I want to say, ‘Whoa, whoa, please don’t judge me or God by Christian radio.’ I want to admit the times we’ve dropped the ball on issues or ideas that people called to love their neighbor should have knocked out of the park. I want to blow up misconceptions and preconceptions about what it means to be a Christian.” This is a quote from the author of the blog called “Stuff Christians Like”.

          I find myself reading this blog quite often and I think it’s because it has that terrible-car-accident-that-you-can’t-look-away-from type of quality. Like his quote above states, he writes about the silly things that have become a part of “christian culture” that actually have very little to do with the Bible. However, there is one problem I have with reading this blog: When he pokes fun at the expense of other people I laugh and subconsciously feel like I am better than them. When he talks about something that I do, I get all defensive inside or try and convince myself that I don’t actually add the word “and” onto the beginning of every line of a song when I sing. Now, I realize that something like that seems trivial but he does bring some real issues to the table and I worry that we all just get defensive and no change actually takes place. Why do we as christians feel the need to pretend like we are perfect? Why can’t we ever take criticism?

          At Genesis, we are in the middle of a series called Acts 29. (Click here to listen) We are talking about the fact that we are the continuation of the movement that started in the early church, but we have also dropped the ball in many key areas. Lately I have been hoping that everyone else will hear the message, put down their defenses, and actually become the people God has made them to be. Today I realized that I need to constantly include myself in that “everyone else” category. I guess what I am trying to say is: Whether we are reading the book of Acts or a silly blog, we all need to listen. Listen and act.

Band of Brothers…and a Wife

April 2, 2009

Each week at Genesis(our college ministry) I get to work with some of the most talented and faithful people I have ever met. I want to acknowledge each of them right here….First up, we have

Josh Luke. n671418135_2418921_8131672

For as long as I can remember, Josh has been playing drums at Northwood. When he first started he told us he only knew how to play a couple beats (which was true) but now he has become one of the best drummers I have ever played with. I am very blessed to have been working with Josh for almost 10 years.

Next up we have Teddy Gorman. n136102264_30503645_2498

Teddy is a great bass player and someone that I can always count on. Ted is also very talented when it comes to running our light board or running sound…he’s basically a do it all kind of guy. He has come through for me in many last minute situations (including me calling him at 6:30a.m. in desperate need of a bass player) and for that I am very grateful.

Billy Rogers n1152254107_30333346_2269

Billy plays acoustic guitar and sings in the band. He has been playing at Northwood for quite a long time now and is also the worship leader for Northwood Student Ministries. He has a passion for God and for music and I know God has big things in store for him.  Random fact: He used to have an afro.

Benji Varnern505365582_1681966_1287

My secret name for Benji is “The Silent Killer”. When you meet him he seems quiet and very laid back but then you go to his facebook page and he has pictures of himself surfing and catching crazy air on a BMX bike. His guitar playing is very similar. Because I use an in-ear monitor when we play I can’t always hear what Benji is playing, but each week when I listen to the recording of the night I am blown away by the stuff that he plays. It sounds great. Even as I write this blog I am seeing more and more just how valuable Benji and every other member of this team truly is.

Sam Jackson n1437117632_131423_7773

Sam has only been playing with us for a couple months now but he is already a huge part of our team. He is also one of the best drummers I have ever played with. If I could use just one hyphenated word to describe Sam it would be hard-working. Many weeks that he plays he has never played the songs we are doing before and has had to try and learn them in just a couple of days….and each time he has amazed me and played them with ease. It’s great to know you have people who are willing to give their best for Christ week in and week out.

Austin Campbelln136100489_30715506_6931

Austin is another great bass player that I have the privilege of working with. When I first met him I was in a “band” at Charleston Southern University and Austin was trying out to join the band the following year. He has come a LONG way since then and I am blown away when i think back to that day. He is SO good now and also runs all of of loops and click tracks. Yet another great team member who helps me out in more ways than one.

Brian Jarvis 2576_1027427614727_1496400043_30073409_2535444_n

Brian is the Service Programming Director and Worship Leader for Northwood Student Ministries. He also plays electric guitar for me on Tuesday nights. He is yet another extremely gifted musician and I can’t imagine our band without him. Brian came to Genesis about  3 and 1/2 or 4 years ago and wanted to be involved right away…and ever since he has been my right hand man and I know he has my back at all times.

Jason Smith n503768439_1330669_4015

Great guitar skills, great sense of humor, and an ability to paint and draw that will leave you speechless, this is Jason. I have known Jason for a long time and he has always been great at anything he does. Skateboarding, guitar, painting, etc…. and it almost makes me sick! haha just kidding.

Tim Hino n1378875248_100504_9772

Tim is our sound guy and he is a great one. I know I can always count on him to give his best and we are so thankful for him. His ability to make house mix recordings actually sound good amazes me. He also does a great job at not letting our many monitor mix requests bother him…haha.

Ricky Taylor2642_513668413582_136100475_30799693_4515569_n

Ricky is our man on the keys…well, actually, he fills in on electric for us too and also leads some of the songs that we do. He is also the Worship Leader at Crosstowne Community Church (a sister church of Northwood) where God is using him in huge ways. It has been great getting to know Ricky and work with him for a year now and I hope I am able to for many more. And last but certainly not least we have, my wife:

Anna Baurn1494780009_30114732_1378025

Anna runs the lightboard on the weeks that Teddy is playing bass and she does a wonderful job. Of course, I know that you guys probably think I am being biased but seriously, when I am on stage and I think, “Hey, I wish the lights were such and such at this point right now.” usually at that same moment Anna does that exact thing. It’s really great getting to be on a team with my darling wife.

There is so much more that I could say about each and everyone of these people but I just wanted to give you an idea of the privilege I have to work with them. I care about them immensely and wanted them to know how much I appreciate what they do.

(Feel free to point out any grammatical errors in this post. It was very late when I wrote it.)

Songwriting 101

March 28, 2009

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I have been writing songs for about as long as I have been playing guitar and I absolutely love it. However, I have been in somewhat of a rut lately and can’t seem to finish anything that I start. I think I just over-think things a little too much. (For instance, it has taken me about thirty minutes just to write these first few sentences) But I am beginning to wonder if I have been over-thinking things that need extra attention or if I am too worried about how artistic my lyrics sound, how “hip” the melody is, etc… Now, those things are important, but I think that I put more effort into those things than in what I am really saying with the song. I think that if I were writing any other type of song then this wouldn’t matter but, because I intend to write songs to be sung by a congregation, it is very important.

A close friend and I had lunch the other day and we talked about this exact subject. He said that he and the other worship leaders at his church have started meeting together and trying to write songs for their congregation but they have very strict criteria as to which songs they will use. These are things that should always be given some extra thought by a worship leader writing a song. Here they are in no particular order:

1. The songs have to be relatively easy for others to sing.

  • This is point seems obvious but, in all honesty, it is very difficult to remember this when writing. As musicians i think we naturally want to write melodies that show off the extents of our vocal ability and range. However, if people can’t follow you, chances are, they won’t be able to pay attention to what the song is saying.  

2. The lyrics need to really say something worthwhile and be Biblically based. No fluffy language. (don’t just put words in the song to fill space.)

  • We need to make sure that every word in the song is meaningful and theologically accurate.
  • Also, don’t just throw a random hallelujah in your song because you can’t think of what to
  • write for the bridge. Try and write something that allows people to see God and what He has
  • done for us in a way they never have before.

3.  The songs have to be about OUR God. If they are ambiguous enough that they can be sung to the God of any other religion, they won’t be used.

  • This is the only point that I don’t know how I feel about. On one hand, yes, we want our songs to talk about Jesus Christ and specific things He has done for us but on the other hand how far do you take that? I don’t refuse to tell my wife that I love her just because someone else uses the same language to say the same thing to their wife. All in all, I think it is at least an important thing to consider but….I am still not 100% sold on it. Who knows? Maybe if our songs are too vague they actually aren’t worth singing. What do you think?

I hope I haven’t bored you non-songwriters (and even songwriters) with all of this but I just wanted to share because I have been dwelling on all of it quite a bit lately. Also, I am starting my own songwriting group at Northwood so keep us in your prayers as we try to write songs that we can all sing together to glorify our Savior.

Let’s Focus

March 26, 2009

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This blog is my attempt to focus. My brain is constantly swimming in dreams, problems, and ideas and I am through with keeping them to myself. Now, you, the reader, may not care about what I have to say (or even agree with me) but that’s okay…let’s make this blog a place of debate and discussion, as well. I want this to be just as much yours as it is mine. Ready. Set. Go.