Friday, December 4, 2009

the vinacular of the saints

I guess after 30+ years of being immersed in "the organized church" system, I've grown a bit tired of the various ways we churchy-types talk to one another. Like, even right there - "one another" - even THAT sounds a little stiff... well, to me.

For those who've been keeping up with me, you know that in May of this year (2009) I walked away from full-time music ministry to pursue a new life direction in entertainment, primarily comedy but with acting, writing and songwriting still tagging along for the ride. Since May I have had the chance to meet with a few churches for more of a part-time position - just to see if there might be a need to have an on-going regular income - albeit, at a smaller pay rate than a full-time job - but just to know that every 2 weeks we would have "X" amount to count on. Thus far, God has not seen fit to bless us that particular way - and, to be honest, while it has really stretched my faith, and while at times it makes me nervous, I am also feeling VERY taken care of by God - in ways I never really imagined. I've moved, I believe, from the "talk" aspect of being a Christian more into the "walk" aspect.

As I spoke to a few churches, I was met, once again, with the unmistakable way we churchy types communicate with each other. Honestly, it's rather icky on many levels.

Phrases like "ministry fit" and "God's will" fly around as if there is some huge gavel of ordination that will be THE determining factor in someone being hired to work at a church. Often times, the main reason we churchy types talk like this is because it's EASIER to blame GOD for things "not working out" than to blame ourselves or take responsibility for our decisions. If I don't like you as a candidate, for whatever reason, it's a lot easier to say, "Well, this is just not God's will" rather than, "you know, I just don't think you are the right person for this church." Just today I received a "rejection" letter from a church that did a very good job of attributing their reason for not hiring me to some sort of God-ordained reasoning. Bottom line - they wanted a rock band leader - not a 50+ piano player. Honestly, I would have felt better had they just said, "Gee, we really want an electric guitar player with long hair and hip clothes..." but then, that would make it more of a HUMAN decision, right? And we just can't have that in a church... or so we think!

Another side aspect to this - they also wanted me to supply a DVD of me "leading worship." I made the decision many years ago to NOT provide this. Ever. I have my reasons and I believe they are not only valid, but biblical. I will never send an "audition tape" of me leading a gathering of people that is supposed to be focused on GOD - and not the one doing the leading. Churches that don't like that should simply not call me. End of story. I understand the current trend - I understand that this is "how things work" these days. For me, it completely undermines the actual purpose of the position - and bases selection on PERFORMANCE rather than on WORSHIP. I am sure that part of the reasoning to not hire me had to do with my decision to not offer a DVD that they could watch.

I believe churches TEND to fail in our true ability to really reach people with Kingdom love and that one of the main reasons we are failing is due to our lack or normalcy in how we communicate with each other. Jesus was transparent and real. He calls us to be the same. We really need to trash all of our churchy talk and simply meet people and love them where they are - today - now. Otherwise, we are simply continuing the role of Pharisee...

Hint - Jesus didn't like the Pharisees very much...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

FEAR is a terrible thing.

I'm aiming this note primarily to all my Christian friends but all are welcome to read it because I think we all deal with this issue at times.

See that picture attached to this note? Isn't if funny? It's President Obama - you know, the president of our country. He's the man whom this country elected - like it or not - to reign as the leader of The United States of America. Granted, there are things about him that I don't like. Some are huge. Some are not so huge. But, the bottom line - Mr. Obama IS our president.

A lot of conservatives are afraid of him. Well, not him. But what he is "...doing to completely destroy our country..." They are so afraid, in fact, that they are relentless in their on-going attacks of the man. Some of these conservatives must actually believe that their constant Obama-bashing will magically get him kicked out of office. If they call him the anti-Christ enough times, eventually the moniker will stick and we can "...get the rat out of office..."

They were afraid of "the message" he would bring to our children on Sept 8. So they reacted by yanking their kids from school that day. (That'll show those socialists!) They yank their kids because they are AFRAID of what their children might HEAR...

LISTEN - - I'm MORE afraid of the "FEAR MESSAGE" being taught to our children by that action!!

Yep. Those damn conservatives live in fear.

Oh - guess what - so do the liberals...

They were (and many still are) in FEAR of Sarah Palin becoming "... just a heartbeat away from the office of President..." They FEARED her policies and did all they could to drag her through dung in order to make their point.

They are AFRAID of "...the right wing agenda..." So they FIGHT to ensure that we remove the words "Under God" from the money. They are doing all they can to silence Biblical teachings. They are AFRAID of their children hearing a philosophy they don't agree with... hmmm - sounds familiar.

The LIBERALS fear...

And for you Christians who happen to dwell in any of those camps - FEAR is a completely unbiblical way to live. Call it "concern" or call it "wisdom" - RATIONALIZE IT ANY WAY YOU LIKE - if you are SPREADING HATE-FILLED messages ABOUT either side, FROM either side, to WARN America in any way, shape or form - then guess what - YOU ARE AFRAID!!

Some will say, "Damn right, I'm afraid! Look at what is happening to our country, Dan!"

Yes, the country is in trouble. Surprised? If you're a CHRISTIAN, you should NOT be surprised. There is evil all around and the darkness is on duty 24/7 to DESTROY. And you're FEAR-based campaigns are NOT HELPING!

The evil one (who does exist) destroys in many ways - but most recently it has been through seemingly insignificant ways such as divisiveness, anger, hatred, finger-pointing, slander, gossip, political party loyalty over a loyalty to God, arrogance and, yes, FEAR!

Go ahead America... live in fear... it's your EKG...

Go ahead Oprah, and Beck, and leftists, and right-wingers, and conservatives, and liberals, and Christians and "sinners" - go ahead and continue to live in FEAR! Let's make sure we Christians teach future generations of Christians that the FEAR OF MAN is far more important than TRUSTING GOD.

Maybe it's time to just take a step back - and consider the following...

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
- Isaiah 41:10 -

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Serve Somebody

Today I was reminded of the great "post-conversion" song written by Bob Dylan, "Serve Somebody." You can listen to it here.

In the meantime, todays' message at Bridgeway Church in Denver, CO focused on how all of us need to stop living with our feet straddling a fence... make a decision - decide once and for all whom we will trust - either completely and fully trust God - or - trust the world and all it has to offer. But it is foolishness to say "I trust you God, but..." That does not work.

Is it hard to fully trust God? Of course! It's hard to fully trust anything or anyone. That's why it is called "trust."

The lesson focused on Elijah challenging the prophets and people who followed the god, Baal. He basically put God to the test and, in the process, showed that there is only One God - and it was not Baal. It's a great story found in Exodus 17.

I am still digesting the message, trying to own it - because I do tend to be someone who proclaims with my mouth that I fully trust God - but who, at the same time, struggles with the reality of that declaration.

The goal, of course, is to be bold and courageous as I choose to fully trust God with all aspects of my life. May that be true of all of us.

It's All About - Me!

One of the very common, probably overly used phrases, in the exciting world of "being a Christian" is the notion that "it's all about HIM" (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit). In other words - all we do - should be focused towards and on the Living Lord Jesus Christ.

But I would like to propose that, while I understand and accept that notion - the REAL truth is that it is all about - US! It is all about - Me!

Let me explain.

All of us go thru "stuff" - every minute of every day, every day of every week, every week of every month, year, decade... etc. There is a constant sculpting taking place in our lives. We are the clay, He is the Potter, working on us and is us to craft us into the exact creation HE wants us to be.

"Bad things" happen to us. Some are fairly minor... the car breaks down, you miss the train, you don't get the raise you expected. Some are quite horrific... death of a loved one, dark secrets revealed, drug or some other addiction exposed. And, in the process, we hurt, we learn, we grow and we are refined - solely for the purpose of becoming more and more the person God is crafting us to be.

I've said that word "crafting" twice, now. On purpose.

We are like a huge piece of clumsy stone that the master sculptor us chipping away at in order to bring about the deep beauty that is within - that only He can see. That chipping is painful.

So, while it is true that all of our glory, honor, delight, joy, etc. needs to be aimed at the Only One who fully deserves it, the truth is that along the way, sometimes painful hammering, chiseling and molding are taking place - - - and that is all about me.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


In looking back through this blog, I realized I never updated my millions of readers with news on our car...

It is a long, miserable, horrible - "God-thing" story... but bottom line, we did not end up keeping the blue Ford Escape. It is back at the dealership ready to be pawned off on - er, uh - I mean - lovingly sold to - the next victim - er, uh - I mean - customer.

Instead, we ended up purchasing a used Subaru Outback. I never pictured myself in one of those but I really like it! The more I looked for cars, the more I came to find out that the Subaru is really an amazing vehicle. And it's the perfect size for my needs.

I was going to post a picture but they are everywhere on the highway - just turn your head to the right the next time you hit a stop light - you'll see one!

Who Cares? (God Does!)

If you read the previous post (and, why wouldn't you?) you know that I have stepped away from my full time career as a music and worship director in the church - to pursue doors that seem to be opening primarily in the areas of comedy, acting and music.

As of May 1, I made the bold step of faith and have been somewhat up and down emotionally since then - it's a huge move.

At the same time, I have begun to notice something- something that all Christians SAY talk about but I'm not sure many of us really, truly, actually believe it - God really is faithful. He really is interested in our lives.

God really cares!

In the past two weeks, for example, I have had more auditions for commercials and other on-camera opportunities than I have had since January of this year. A former church staff member of mine tried to link that to the reality that NOW my agent feels more free to send me out on auditions - since I am no longer tied to my full-time church job. That sounds so obvious, doesn't it?

But the truth is - my agent did not work LESS on my behalf before, and she is not working MORE on my behalf now. I believe there are two things at work. First, "the biz" is fickle. That's just the nature of the beast. You can go months with "feast" and you can go months with "famine" and neither is an indication of how "good" or "bad" you are as a talent. It just is what it is. But the other aspect of this - the far more important aspect, in my opinion, is that GOD CARES about me. He cares about my dreams, my passions, my gifts, my wiring, my welfare. God is interested in supplying my needs (Philippians 4:19). Therefore, I am of the mindset that God is the one ultimately "behind" me getting these auditions.

He's also the one behind me booking comedy gigs, getting voice over jobs and composing songs for Christian music publishers and projects.

80% of the above mentioned opportunities have yet to see actual income. But that is not the point - at least that is what I am discovering. The point is NOT "the money." The point is me recognizing that God "is at work."

And the hard lesson there is one all Christians deal with - - letting God do His job as our "pilot." Yeah, it sounds corny. But it's true! God does not want to give us directions - - He wants to STEER THE CAR.

It's not easy, but that is what I am learning. He cares. He drives.

It's that simple.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tugging At My Ear

One of my favorite things in TV history was how Carol Burnett used to tug her ear at the end of each show to say "so long" to her aunt (I believe it was).

I'm in ear-tugging mode of late...

After nearly 30 years of being involved in church music ministry in some form or another, the past 20 heavily involved as the director of music and worship for churches, I am laying down the baton and heading in a new direction - pursuing opportunities that are opening up for me in the areas of comedy and acting - and, of course, continued opportunities in songwriting.

In some ways this is a very easy move. Frankly, the seeminly never-ending angst of ministry has caught up with me and left me weary and worn out. Some call this "burn out" and, perhaps it is - especially for those out there who just MUST label things for whatever reason. Bottom line, I'm just tired of the on-going debates, fights, arguments, whining, complaining, and more that well-meaning, God-loving, church-going followers of Christ seem to crave.

I don't crave it. I hate it. It is a waste of time, energy, and resources and it has a way of killing whatever joy of the Lord began each day.

I wish more church attending believers realized what they are doing to their leaders. At its core, it is simply pure evil - there is no other way to describe it.

That said - this will also be a difficult transition. It's hard to say "so long" to a nearly 30-year career that has enjoyed pockets of delight, blessing and joy. Music and worship are gifts from God that I have always beed drawn towards. And, of course, there are the people who I will miss not seeing. Especially at my latest church position which lasted nearly 11 years - a true miracle in the world of church music these days!

But it's time. The right time. God's time.

And so, I press on - I cast my net on the other side of the boat...

I tug my ear and say, "so long..."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Oh, Come On - God's Not THAT Big...

How BIG is God?

The Bible says He will provide for ALL of our needs...

Will He?

The Bible says He will never leave us nor forsake us...

Is that true?

The Bible says He has a plan for us - one to prosper us...

I dunno - seems a bit "out there" to me.

The Bible says "faith" is believing in things you cannot see...

Yeah, easy for GOD to say!

The Bible says if I commit my way to the Lord He will act on my behalf...

Seems too good to be true, doesn't it?

I think NOW would be a good time to see if any of those Bible truths - or the other bazillion Bible truths that speak of how much God loves me, and cares for me, and is guiding me and directing me - are actually true.

The journey begins - right now!


After about 9 years of great service, our Dodge Caravan finally met his maker - well, sort of... as we were closing in on the 169K mark, "things" began to go wrong... dials stopped working, rear wiper blades gave out - - noises and creeks here and there - - the end was in sight - - or - - money had to be paid out just to keep the thing alive.

So - because we've enjoyed my wife's Ford Escape for a while now, we decided to go find a good used one for me as a replacement for the minivan. One of those wonderful deals jumped out at us and we decided it was time.

Now we have "his and hers" Ford Escapes... hers is a burly "man red" - and mine is a "cute bright blue" -- not sure how that happened, but it gives each of us companionship during the day so there ya go...

No, there WE go!


Monday, March 23, 2009

The Other Side Of The Boat

In some ways, the passage in John 21 is so very simple - almost TOO simple really.

The disciples - skilled fishermen - are out on the sea doing their "job" - trying to catch fish. They are not having much success. In fact, they are catching nothing. They are probably pretty frustrated - they are, after all, SKILLED at this job, right? How hard is it for them to catch fish? Then Jesus - the CARPENTER - makes a suggestion. Hey guys - why not cast that net over onto the OTHER side of the boat?

I can imagine these ruddy fishermen snickering amongst themselves. Pssst - d'you hear what the carpenter said? He told us to cast the next on the other side of the boat. Ha ha ha ha... That is what I would have done. Yeah, um, listen Jesus - thanks for the "tip" 'n all... but, well, I've been doing this for a while - - I think I got this fishing thing down pretty good... at the very least, just to play along, I would have peeked over the edge of the boat to see if I could see signs of any fish before lugging that heavy net all the way over to the other side...

But that is not how the disciples reacted.

They immediately obeyed what Jesus said and tossed the next on to the other side of the boat.

And the funniest thing happened - THEY CAUGHT FISH! Amazing!

In their time of struggle and frustration, they:
> listened
> obeyed
> repead the rewards of listening and obeying

Sometimes we have to cast the net without any evidence of a REASON to cast the net - other than the voice of God telling us to cast the net. That's not easy. We want proof. We want evidence. We want to know before we go - -

But that's cuz we are humans.

These past several months I have been on a journey of net casting - and today, I made the decision to cast the net to the other side of the boat with very little evidence (okay, I do have SOME evidence - cuz God is loving and knows I need it!) to do it. And now, I wait and watch with anticipation as the fish start to wiggle their way to the net...

I can smell the tartar sauce already!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Reaching vs Preaching

In recent years I have come to the very sad realization that for far too much of my Christian life I have acted more like a "preacher" than a "reacher."

I suppose, if we look at Jesus as our example, we would be prone to say that he knew how to balance the two out - he was both a "reacher" AND a "preacher." Unfortunately, we tend to spend a lot more time focusing on, and putting into practice, the "preaching" part - meaning that we come on a bit strong with those unfamiliar with the faith - as opposed to the "reaching" part - which is actually more difficult because it involves establishing relationships with people who might make us feel uncomfortable.

You know - sinners.

I am, today, a firm believer in "reaching" people first, and then letting the "preaching" come later - either naturally, though HOW I treat them, HOW I live, letting them observe the choices and decisions I make, etc. and then, of course, if God opens the door - sharing the gospel (preaching).

Frankly, I am a little tired of hanging around Christians. Let me clarify that - I mean cranky, narrow-minded, critical, bitter, angry, finger-pointing, Bible-waving Christians. Folks who shudder if they hear someone say "shit" or who go into panic mode if they have a friend who smokes or imply that God only loves those who have jumped through some sort of series of spiritual hoops... or, ya know - Pharisees.

I am tired of hanging around Pharisees.

I am hoping that I get more and more opportunities to hang out with a whole lot of people who are in desperate need of RELATIONSHIP and UNCONDITIONAL LOVE and ACCEPTANCE. Well, ya know - like the DISCIPLES.

I wanna hang out with Disciples. Because the Disciples had issues.

So which are you - a "reacher" or a "preacher?"

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged...

Judge not, lest ye be judged. If you're a Christian, you've heard that phrase many times. If you are not a Christian, you've probably heard it, too. In fact, those from both sides of the coin have uttered those words at times - usually when we are trying to rationalize our belief system or actions... "DON'T JUDGE ME!"

Well, let's talk about this statement - what is it REALLY speaking about?

The truth is - I cannot judge ANYONE. Read that again - I did not say I should not judge anyone - I said - I CANNOT judge anyone - I am incapable of that act - judgement is reserved for God and God alone. At an appointed time, God will step into the role of "judge" and set the course for the next "stage" of life - eternity.

But we misread that - we wrongly assume this statement means we cannot hold others accountable for their actions, or call into question their morals, etc. And the question we need to ponder is this - IS THAT TRUE? Am I NOT allowed to call your actions into question or hold you accountable for unbiblical conduct or morals? And are you now allowed to treat me with equal accountability? Well, the answer to that is - YES, of COURSE we are "allowed" to do that with our brothers and sisters in Christ - in fact, we are COMMANDED to do that.

And doing that - is NOT judging.

So, as a Christian, am I allowed to call into question the immoral, completely unbiblical belief of our newly elected president on his pro abortion stance? Or, if I dare question this aspect of his belief system, did I suddenly step into God's territory and have now "judged" him? Who decides if I am "judging" or "holding him accountable?"

I get Obama's lure - I truly do. I'm old enough to remember men like John Kennedy who had a similar "lure" on a nation tired of "old people and old ways." I get it. I get that Obama has, what he believes, are "hope-filled" plans to turn our country around. I also "get" that God is in total and complete control of all situations in life - which I interpret to mean that God may not CAUSE all events - - - He simply knows what to DO with our screwups...

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28)

So, while I am not convinced that God WANTED Obama to become our president (and I base this hunch on the fact that God does not WANT us to be killing innocent unborn humans), God WILL work all things (including his election) for the good - for those who LOVE HIM.

Part Two of this commentary is really more of a question - and it's not an easy one. Does God really - no, I mean REALLY - "judge" a nation for their ungodly actions and decisions? Or have we simply moved past that - like, God DID that - way in the past - but He's come to His senses and no longer has a need to "judge" His people. I ask because if God no longer judges, man - I'm gonna live it up! However, if God DOES still judge "a people" - does it matter - SHOULD it matter - to followers of Christ what we use as the foundation of our decision making when it comes to our nation? Does it really matter that President Obama is pro-abortion - as shown as recently as today (Jan 23) in his reversal of President Bush's ban on funding abortions? Or, should we just stand on that nice scapegoat of "church and state" and simply put "God" in a nice box over here - and "real life" in a different box over here -- to make sure we can keep our cars filled with gas, our kids in college and food on the table...

You know, the IMPORTANT things...