The journey we find ourselves on

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Great Worship Music You Won’t Hear on the Radio: Cities Apart

This is a friend of ours named Josh Smith from Memphis that my wife Kolby knows from high school. He leads worship at Christ United Methodist Church. These are a couple songs from the two CDs he’s released under the name Cities Apart. You can find more info and chord charts at http://citiesapartband.com/ or buy the songs on iTunes.


Good News for Struggling Christians

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
(1 John 2:1-2 ESV)

These verses struck me as I was working through 1 John 2 tonight. John writes, “so that you may not sin.” He sets out with this purpose, but clearly recognizes that Christians still sin. He doesn’t take that opportunity to beat us up for our failure. Rather, he points to our advocate. Jesus stands at the Father’s side, reminding Him, not of our failure to live up to his righteous standard, but of his own righteousness on our behalf. Christ pleads the merits of his blood, shed for us.

The word translated propitiation here, likely refers both to the satisfaction of the Father’s wrath against sin and to the expiation – the wiping away of our sin. The propitiation means that God is no longer angry. We no longer need to fear punishment! Jesus took our punishment! And not only this, but he is continually our righteousness, and every time we sin, he wipes the slate clean!

What good news this is to us as we struggle! Jesus Christ the righteous is our advocate! And so we say with the psalmist “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you!” (Ps 73:25)

For Sale: PRS Starla, Gretsch Country Classic, Fender Tele, 65 Amps Marquee, Boss DD-7

This is not what I normally use my blog for, but it’s my blog, so who’s gonna stop me? The guys at church laugh at me. It’s become a running joke how many guitars and amps I have gone through, but I’m at it again. I love trying new things, so I go through a lot of gear. It’s become a bit of a hobby to shop around and find good stuff and trade with people. And I’ve met some cool people doing it, so it’s a win-win.

Prices are for a local sale in Memphis, TN. Otherwise, I could ship and take Paypal, but that’s on you.

Gretsch Country Classic $1500
It’s in nice shape, with Bigsby. I believe this is a 2002. Strap locks, OHSC.

PRS Starla $1100 SOLD
PRS Humbucking pups hwith coil splitting and a Bigsby. This is an extremely versatile guitar! They started making these in ’07, but I’m not sure the exact year. Dunlop strap locks, OHSC.

Fender American Standard Telecaster $700 SOLD
Blizzard pearl with two single coil Tele pups. Rosewood neck. 2009 model in like new condition. Dunlop strap locks and OHSC.

65 Amps Marquee Head w/2×12″ cab and road case (fits the head and cab together). Has been on tour and has a few signs of wear, but sounds phenomenal.
Would sell the head for $1500 SOLD
Cab for $650 (no pictures of the cab, but the condition is very similar to the head) sOLD
Road case for $300 SOLD
To sell the cab, I have to find another amp, which mean the head has to sell first. Really would prefer to trade for a Morgan.

Boss DD-7 $110 SOLD
It’s a Boss delay pedal. Internal or external tap tempo and looping. In good shape with velcro. It’s sturdy and reliable.

Here are some pictures of everything, including some other stuff I already sold: Album 1 | Album 2

Trades I’m interested in would be a Gibson ES-137 (or something similar), a Morgan amp in head/cab config (prefer EL84s and EF86), or a tube mic in the $1500 and under range (Advanced Audio, Lawson, ADK Custom Shop, Pearlman, Soundelux).

If you’re interested, leave me a comment or Tweet me.

The Story of Our Lives is God’s

This is a great song by a friend of ours called “White Page.” As good as the song is, the video is even better. Check it out.

The Priority and Risk of Community

I hear so many people talk about community in the church. We want to develop community. We want to foster community. We want to use the word as many times as we can so everyone knows we value community. But there is a danger in all this talk of community becoming little more than a buzz word that we use to identify ourselves, especially over and against those other churches, who don’t have such great community as we do (or so we tell ourselves).

I read a book about self-deception for one of my seminary classes called I Told Me So. One of the arguments in it that stuck out to me the most is that the things we value most often become the areas where we are most easily self-deceived and least likely to listen to correction. When we value things more than we should, they become untouchable. We find it nearly impossible to reassess the priorities closest to our hearts. What does this have to do with community?

In the church, it is easy to talk about valuing community without getting into the nitty gritty of putting it into practice. Sure you may say you value community, but do those around you feel like they belong? Are there outsiders in your church? People who don’t quite fit in? When they speak up about their frustrations, do you even hear them? Have you become so enamored with the successes of your community-shaping endeavor, that you don’t understand when someone feels like they aren’t a part of your super awesome close-knit tight community?

In all our talk about community, it’s easy to miss the fact that community is not an end in itself. Community itself is an elusive goal. The goal instead should be love and unity in truth, the natural result of which is community. If you are shooting for community, but not seeking love and truth, you will never find it. If you are not actively loving people, speaking the truth, and hearing people when they speak the truth to you, there can be no community.

So let’s talk about community. But let’s recognize the priority of love and truth. Let’s be open to the truth that our community may not be the best thing since sliced bread. We may just be insiders (and who doesn’t love having a good group of friends?). But the outsiders disagree with our assessment of how super sweet our community is. Are we listening?

Loving the Church While Seeing Her Flaws

There is a tension I wrestle with. I love the church. I’ve spent all my life in churches and serving the church. I’ve given the last four years of my life to studying to serve the church. But I am also intensely aware of the shortcomings of the church in this age that is passing away. I am constantly working through this tension, recognizing that the church is filled with fallen and broken people like me, who do things that fallen and broken people do, while maintaining hope.

Jesus died for his church, for those who were his enemies. He is preparing her “as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2). This gives us a great hope. The church is “a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). It is God’s arena for revealing His wisdom to the heavens (Eph 3:10).

But in the meantime, we have this group of people that sometimes leaves us scratching our heads… And sheesh! Have you looked in the mirror lately?! I’m a part of the problem. You’re a part of the problem. We all are.

Is it healthy to look at the church and see her flaws? I believe it is. It can certainly be unhealthy to look at the church and either not see her flaws or see only her flaws. But there is a healthy sense in which, we need to see the flaws of the church. These are the things that drive us to strive for purity and to dig deeper into the Lord and His Word.

The flaws in the church were what led the Reformers. They saw a church in need of washing and purifying, and they fought to do it. In the midst of this tension, there is an opportunity for us to wrestle with the Scriptures and seek the face of God. If the church is His wisdom and part of His plan for the advance of His kingdom, then He certainly is deeply invested in her. She is not a plan B. She is His plan for the redemption of sinners and the restoration of creation. We pray for His will to be done. May His will be done in our churches, as we continually press in to the Word together and seek to love one another more deeply.

Nothing is What it Seems: Social Media and Perception Management

Is it just me, or do Facebook and Twitter make it look like other people are having way more fun than you? For all the great things social media has done for us, it presents us with some interesting dilemmas. One is what we share. It is very easy for us to share the best part of our lives online and create the perception that all is well, regardless of reality. We manage our image so those around us know how cool our friends are, who we just hung out with, how great our date was tonight, or how hot our wife is.

We have to be careful on two fronts. First, we can easily create a perception of ourselves that is false. We can convince people that we are someone other than who we are. I’ve literally watched people whose marriages were falling apart, but their Facebook profile picture showed something different. The images and words were joyful, but everything was broken.

The other danger is to look at the public images of others, not realizing that it has been sanitized, whitewashed, and sugarcoated, and then never see the imperfections, the brokenness, the struggles, and the real life situations. As I have been looking at church websites recently, I have noticed how easy it is to judge a church by its online presence – its website, its media, the pastors’ tweets – all contribute to a public image that may or may not have any basis in reality. We say talk is cheap and a picture is worth a thousand words. The reality is, online talk – where there is no one to question our view of reality – and profile pictures – always posed at our peak moments of sheer bliss – create a romanticized version of our lives.

We need to be able to look through these things. We need to see through our own facades and those of others. We desperately need to see the brokenness, the fallen mass of humanity, and our need for hope and a redeemer. Nothing is what it seems.