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Thursday, April 27, 2006

raise the bar or stop jumping

i had the opportunity to do some worship music with my son recently and was reflecting upon it after the first rehearsal...

it was inspiring... reminded me of what i like second-most about leading the worship band ('most' being the simultaneous connecting with God and his people using multiple languages):

the mentoring and the participation in the realization of God's intentions for the musicians (especially young ones) that step forward. i love that. it has been that way with numerous others... now with my own son and the son of my best friend. a pretty cool way to spend an evening.

after the sunday that followed, i started thinking that perhaps i had set the bar too low on dreams. i mean, i've always said that my dream was to one day share a stage with my boys in laying musical worship offerings before the throne of God. then the analogy of the high jump continued...

what happens when you clear a specific height?
you either raise the bar or stop jumping.

i'm not about to stop jumping. i've already begun talking with my sons about missions overseas and the like. that's my next dream- to serve God with them abroad.

interesting thing about dreams and visions... had God imparted upon me the idea of missions trips with my sons, my reply would have been a rather predictable "but i don't do missions." God gave me the music dream at a time when that was the extent to which i was being used of him. as we grow, so does God's revelation to us of who he is, who we are and what we are to do for him.

yep, time to raise the bar.

i am strangely reflective today, as it was one year ago today that my personal journey out of the land of ideas began with a really good friend over some really bad coffee. (

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

u2 and the lion king

Pride (In The Name Of Love)

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come, he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love?

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach.
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love
What more in the name of love?

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love?

recently curious servant posted a piece concerning pride and humility. knowing that he is a u2 fan, i found myself somewhere else. you see, i have always found the word 'pride' in their big 1984 single to be an interesting one...

our language is such that different words carry with them different meanings- whether intended or not, sometimes connections are there by 'coincidence.' are all coincidences equal, or are some by accident while others are by design? where one thing is implied, something very different is inferred. both can be truth. such is the nature of communication and language.

example? the word 'pride.'
part of the narrative aspect of u2's song addresses the assassination of martin luther king.

king... good word on so many levels. the idea of kingship- in particular a benevolent monarchy- still bears some (although increasingly little as time passes) meaning for us. that the 'king of the jungle' is a lion and a pack of lions is called a pride is either an interesting coincidence or some clever wordplay. whatever the case, the lyric suddenly takes on a richer meaning...

free at last, they took your life- they could not take your pride

intended or unintended- does it matter? once a work of art is released for public consumption, its impact on the culture that has given birth to it begins to be realized. art touches lives and brings us all to a new level of interaction with ourselves and others if we let it.

drawing deeper understanding of life is usually dependent upon how deeply we want to understand life and how receptive we are to the messages that are communicated to us through the wide variety of life languages in which we are so conversant, yeah?

but what about Jesus? called both the lamb of God and the lion of judah... if we consider the alternate meaning for the word pride are we caught in a loop of coincidence or co-incidence which turns on this uncommon usage of a common word and takes us into the realm of a lion king named aslan? regardless of what the poet intended, does heaven open up to us slightly as we embrace the presumed taking of a life which is really the giving of it by a perfect victim in order that victory would be realized once and for all on behalf of the whole pride?

i love that curious servant included phil2 as part of his piece on kingly humility... it occurs to me that our sense of self and pride needs to be in the extent to which Jesus expressed our inherent value: in the eyes and the actions of God, we are worth dropping everything and undergoing absolutely anything in order to redeem. therein should be our greatest pride and our greatest humility.

free at last, they took his life... they could not take his pride.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

everything under the sun is in tune...

"Music without words means leaving behind the mind.
And leaving behind the mind is meditation.
Meditation returns you to the source. And the source of all is sound."

— Kabir

although this is the holy mantra of a new age company that makes cosmic tuning forks for people who desire a common vibration, it struck me a different way than was probably intended...

nice to know that the source of all is sound... not unsound.
there would be, for me, one big reason why i choose to believe in God even before all of the facts are in... within humanity there is such unsoundness that i just cannot subscribe to any doctrine which asserts that we are as good as it gets...

as a dear friend of mine has been known to observe:
people are just too damn crazy.

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Friday, April 21, 2006


a friend of mine and i were messaging back and forth early in the lenten season... i had just mentioned the whole no-blogging thing...

Interesting…any reason or rationale?

hmmm. now would the answer to that question be a blog?

quick response: although there is some measure of good in engaging in theological/philosophical discourse online, i think that blogging also has built into it an inherent self-indulgence for the blogger. good to let go for awhile in order to focus on other relationships that are face to face, yeah?

habits are habits, man.

But are f2f experiences more intellectually productive or simply more emotionally viable?

good question- emotional viability probably takes on many looks.
however, the whole blogging thing can be a huge distraction for those of us who procrastinate...

But is procrastination intellectually productive or philosophical avoidance?

depends on the reasons for procrastinating... there are always things which have merit on their own that we can choose to put in front of other things- but where does one draw the line between personal growth/ intellectual exploration and his/her role as part of community?

Is any thought, personal or public, not eventually broadly distributed through actions, reactions and/or innuendos and body language?

yep- but it is not the distribution of said thought so much as the lengthy formulation of it that provides the kick!

anyway, lent isn't really about philosophizing... it's about setting aside something self-indulgent in order to focus that energy on the spiritual journey at hand. my personal journey has been one of becoming increasingly more about action over idea.

ideas don't cost me anything except time. they're fun to synthesize and they're even more fun to share with others, but all of this time is something that i could be applying to an end that is of greater impact.

still trying to sort out what that all means.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

no excuses for forty days

this is the post that sent me on my blog-free lenten journey this year. i find it really amazing that God the Holy Spirit can even speak to a man through himself. even more amazing is the personal journey of the last six weeks... as lloyd bridges' character said in airplane
"looks like i picked the wrong day to quit amphetamines!"

meaning? i am one of those people who writes his way through life. i don't know, as i write things become more clear for me- it's like the lucid dream at 5:00 a.m. that provides the solution to the challenge of the day before in preparation for the day to come.

riddles? sure, why not?

hey, by the way, welcome to cinder and uomodeldio! thanks for your emails and prayers, cinder, uomodeldio, societyvs, curious servant, and regina. it's been a wild ride and your friendship is a gift.

Manager: Good evening, sir, good evening, madam. I am the manager. I've only just heard . .. may I sit down?

Man: Yes, of course.

Manager: I want to apologize, humbly, deeply, and sincerely about the fork.

Man: Oh please, it's only a tiny bit... I couldn't see it.

Manager: Ah you're good kind fine people, for saying that, but I can see it.., to me it's like a mountain, a vast bowl of pus.

Man: It's not as bad as that.

Manager: It gets me here. I can't give you any excuses for it - there are no excuses. (italics and emphasis mine-jb) I've been meaning to spend more time in the restaurant recently, but I haven't been too well ,.. (emotionally) things aren't going very well back there. The poor cook's son has been put away again, and poor old Mrs Dalrymple who does the washing up can hardly move her poor fingers, and then there's Gilberto's war wound - but they're good people, and they're kind people, and together we were beginning to get over this dark patch ... there was light at the end of the tunnel . .. now this . .. now this...

(typing courtesy of the mostly silly people at
every year around this time i start to try to sort out whether, why and how i'm going to observe the season of lent. in the past, i've tried literal lenten sacrifices (giving up caffeine etc) as well as some more figurative ones (giving up a specific painful experience or whatever to the cross of Christ). recently i was reading of curious servant's decision to shave his beard for lent and was challenged once again to consider that which i should give up in order to grow closer to Christ in my life's journey as we approach resurrection day.

some of the best times for thinking take place behind the wheel of a car- especially if you have a couple hours of uninterrupted perspective-focus time. the other day, as i headed out for a series of meetings that i was required to attend in a nearby city, i began to prayerfully (note: very important to pray with your eyes open while operating a motor vehicle) consider the lent question.

and my answer was there as i rounded the first corner
(which, due to where i live, was about twenty minutes into the drive!)

excuses. there can be no excuses.

making excuses is the classic self-justifying behaviour. it permits me to remain the same, while requiring the grace and patience of everyone around me. it allows me to somehow abdicate my responsibility for my actions- all the while defaulting to a notion that there are all these forces which are interfering with my ability to get things done according to agreement or deadline.

excuses have to go. they are my behavioural fat and they get in the way of cultivating deeper relationships with other people, allowing me to basically passively control situations while expecting everyone to be fine with that.

so that's it. no more excuses. do or do not, there is no 'try.'
(woah, geek quotient just increased exponentially- a monty python quote AND a star wars quote in the same post?)

there's some craziness here. one decision often implies many outcomes, both direct and indirect. as i think about this decision to not be making any excuses, i realize that there is an area that is going to be affected... didn't expect that, but here's where it's going:

i will be giving up blogging for lent as well. as i think about my reasons for ditching excuses, i realize that one of the greatest excuse areas in my life is the blogs i maintain. i'm always coming up with reasons for investing this time in a bunch of writing for a mildly imaginary audience... i mean, my excuses sound great- make my blogging feel more like a ministry and all that. i justify doing this instead of that when the reality may be, however, that i am just using blogging to fill time that could be better invested in building into the lives of the people that i know face-to-face.

i know my blogfriends out there will understand, and no one else knows of my blog, so others remain unaffected anyway.

the challenge for me (apart from the obvious one: just breaking the really satisfying blogging rhythms that i have going) will be to continue to journal and articulate my journey, that a hurt would not be wasted, nor a learning missed.

if you are a praying person, pray for me- i didn't expect this one, but it feels right

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Reflection is the current story of my life and when I reflect I need to get it out in black and white. So, since I've reflected on my blog already, I'm now on northVUs, continuing to reflect. Life lately has been a constant state of's an exhaustive process, but man when you get to a point of answers, it's the most peaceful place to be! It's funny how God uses vastly different avenues to reach each of us...for me it's music. Small portions of songs by Sanctus Real were impressed upon my heart this feels like a response from God and the other is a promise from me to Him.

His response to Me...
Say it loud. Say it loud and clear.
Forget about. Forget about last year.

Stop wishing it were backwards...
Stop wasting all the time
We could have spent together.

My response to Him...
Lord, you see every part of me.
I'm tired of feeling underground.
Time to take this inside...

And all my insecurities,
It always gets the best of me now.
Time to turn this thing around.
It's time turn this thing around.

You and I will be alright.

I don't think I could have summed up my life better if I tried.

"It's okay to admit we are human and that we are weak...that's what in the end makes us strong." I heard this quote yesterday and it made me really think. Once we truly are able to allow ourselves to be broken from our pride, insecurities and all those other things which our human nature causes us to want to cling to, only then can we find true purpose and vision. It's a lot easier to say or type it, then to sometimes put it into's definitely a continual process.