"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pirate Monks

Every Thursday morning I begrudgingly pull myself from the warmth of my covers, and roll over fumbling to turn off my alarm clock. Rubbing my eyes, I stare at the red digital numbers, casting their evil early morning glow. "Why do I do this? I hate this! I need this. I want to sleep. No, I really want to go (but I don't). I need to go." The argument rages in my sleepy head.

It's time for men's group.

I drive in my cold car, hearing the engine's belt screaming, "Why do you do this to me!", ducking my head below the frost on my windshield, watching the road pass beneath the tires. I often wonder why I do this to myself. Even as I drive into the Church parking lot, I hear a voice saying, "Maybe no one saw you pull in. You could still turn around and catch a few more winks before work."

There are times when,I admit, the voice wins out well before I pull off the covers, much less into a parking spot, but I know it will throw any lies it can at me to keep me from meeting with these godly men; my lifeline.

Why is it so hard? The cold? The hour of the day? Or is it becoming emotionally, and spiritually vulnerable before a group of men. Confessing. It's admitting to men I respect that I messed up that week. It's letting them see me for who I am, rather then who I want to be. It's the accountability of knowing they can keep tabs on me. They'll know if I am making changes in my life or standing stagnant.

Vulnerability is horribly uncomfortable. Ironically, it's also what keeps me coming back.

Men's group is not a tea time (although I do like tea times). We don't eat crumpets (although I certainly wouldn't mind a crumpet every now and then), and cry about how the world has failed us. We don't check our masculinity at the door. Instead, we strive to become better men--fathers, sons, husbands, and brothers. To take responsibility; to live disciplined, God honoring lives. We are Pirate Monks, as a favorite book of mine would call us--sinners in the process of sainthood. Active journeyers in our Christian walk, recognizing Christ's sanctifying work in our lives.

I have seen godly men fail. I can no longer say, "I could never do that." I know my heart is deceitfully wicked. I am capable of all kinds of evil. I know all human hearts are. Without the grace of God, the cleansing sanctification of Christ, and the uplifting support of the church, we are all doomed to fail. We can't afford to pretend any longer that we got it all together. We don't, and no one does.

There is such a beauty and freedom that falls upon that circle of men in our vulnerability with one another; uncomfortable yet truly liberating freedom. I realize that every guy in that room is just as screwed up as me, and that God loves us each immensely.

Human beings are capable of deep bonding. Trials, interests, values, experiences; all of these things can weave a bond as thick as family between people. But the link between brother's and sisters in Christ is different. It runs deeper then the blood of family ties; because it is eternal. It is family in the truest sense of the word.

I love these men(a manly, beef jerky-football-grunting kind of love of course...). We are the Church, living as the Church. I can't imagine what life would be like without the support of the body of Christ. So empty, and constricting. I will choose to live in the freedom I have been given. Even if I have to set my alarm clock a bit earlier.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Rudolf arrested for flying under the influence

"You know Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixon. Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzon. But do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?"

Many of us grew up singing these words; a holiday favorite of millions. Children will undoubtedly be disappointed to find out that Rudolf may go down in history for a very different reason then that stated in the song.

Rudolf was pulled over for reckless flight under the influence on Dec. 6, 2:00 a.m. after a party at a friend's establishment, North Pole.

Deputy Conner Gillespie stated, "Rudolf's breathalyzer revealed that his blood alcohol level was .21; well above the legal level for a reindeer. The test was unnecessary, there was such a strong scent of hard egg nog on his breath."

The song, Rudolf the Red nosed Reindeer, was introduced to the public shortly after the rookie reindeer joined the current line up back in the 1930's. Very few have ever doubted the validity of this song. Now it seems that all of Rudolf's credibility is crumbling like a Christmas cookie.

"Well for one thing, Rudolf was not the most famous reindeer. That was pure propaganda shoved on the public by an agency Santa hired to recruit reindeer hopefuls back in 1939. We had made it through many "foggy Christmas Eve's" before Rudolf--heck every Christmas Eve is foggy somewhere in the world," said Vixon.

Vixon and the other seven of Santa's team have been flying together every Christmas Eve since the early 1800's. Though the song makes claim that "all the reindeer loved him" after Santa asked Rudolf to lead his sleigh "one foggy Christmas Eve", some say these words are far from the truth.

"I hate that cocky, shiny nosed punk." said Donner in a phone interview this morning. "That hoodlum thought he could just strut into a group that had been working together for over a hundred years, becoming the glowing face of our team. He thinks he's the ginger's snap."

It is true that Rudolf was practically unknown before the song stated his fame, but like a self-fulfilling prophecy, Rudolf's fame grew--along with his pay check.

Frank Turner, current reindeer trainer and stable hand said, "Rudolf makes considerably more then the rest of the reindeer. First, he's got the royalties going for him. The song, films, children's books...this guy will never be in want of carrots or hay!"

One of Santa's elves, who wished to remain nameless spilled to Reindeer Weekly last year that Rudolf makes more per flight then the other's as well.

"Rudolf is making a quarter of a cent per roof top. that might not sound like much, but hey, they are hitting up thousands--millions of houses every Christmas. Do the math. That is one rich deer!"

It appears that the fame may have went to Rudolf's head. Santa's establishment took notice.

When asked if Rudolf's drinking habits were known, all eight reindeer attest that this was common knowledge.

FedEx CEO Carl Berkly was not pleased with the news. "Every year we entrust millions of dollars worth of packages to Santa and his reindeer, for nostalgia's sake--people don't want the FedEx guy to come to their door, they want the fat guy to come down their chimney. We could loose lots of revenue, not to mention the danger of a drunken reindeer weaving round people's homes. Santa needs to drop that sorry cow. Pathetic!"

Rudolf's pilot license has been revoked, and it is currently uncertain when, if ever, Rudolf will be rejoining the team.

"Good riddance", said Blitzen. "I am sick of flying down wind from him anyway. His engine is never short of gas, if you catch my drift. haha...drift."

Many share Blitzen's sentiment, especially on the eve of a new technology that may make Rudolf's nose obsolete.

"We are working on a technology alongside Princeton Tec for a reindeer LED head lamp that should aid navigation in future Christmas Eve journeys." said, Troy DeVries, lead design manager of Santa's workshop. "It should be ready in time for this years flight." This couldn't be more timely, given the circumstances.

"This was a long time coming."stated Corbin Anderson, Technician for Sleigh Control tower. "Rudolf was just to costly, and his behavior was to dangerous. LED technology will cut down our costs, provide more light for the whole team of reindeer, and a LED light doesn't skip work with a hangover."

North Pole locals are pleased, for many reasons. "When it's a stormy night and you see this eerie red glow and here the sound of sleigh bells, you're not thinking, hey, must be Santa and his reindeer come to spread holiday cheer. You're thinking Horsemen of the Apocalypse, that's what you're thinking." said Bob Burr from his North pole igloo pad.

Neither Santa nor Rudolf's lawyer have responded to our request for comment, concerning Rudolf's sentence.

The other reindeer are taking it in stride, even joking about the song they have come to detest so much.

"Whoever labeled Monopoly a reindeer game? We have hooves, we hate that game!" stated Dasher.

Rudolf better polish up that nose of his, he's got one dark road ahead of him.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It's snow good

Snow has come to Minnesota.

My family went to cut down the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. Its just not quite the same walking on grass in tennis shoes to cut down a tree. But December came and along with it, the snow. And it has really come. I had one of those excited moments where I stood outside smiling, thinking, "At last! It is finally here, a Winter Wonderland!" which quickly transitioned into, "and it will probably be here for five more months....sigh...." Where has my inner child gone?

Today I went outside to play with Mom's daycare kids in the snow (only for a short while, its cold out there!). Addie (she's three) asked me to build a snowman. I said, "Sorry kiddo, it's to cold; the snow won't stick together. We can't build a snowman."

Her response. "That's OK, do it anyway."

I love the logic of a three year old.

Has anybody ever made a snowman and really pretended he is Parson Brown? Apparently Parson is just an old term for a minister (you know, parson--parsonage...makes sense now, eh?), hence the "He'll say are you married, we'll say no man, but you can do the job when you're in town!" Unfortunately, snowmen cannot sign marriage licenses.

I think that some day around Christmas if I ask a girl if she's married, and she responds, "No man, but you can do the job when you're in town," I'll go and elope with her right then.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Faith and Reason

I frequent Patrol Magazine's site from time to time. I recently read a blog about faith and reason, by Tim Raveling titled How I became Agnostic; You can't have faith and reason at the same time. I had to choose.

A very well written, well thought blog. I enjoyed it, and was excited to see that he originally posted here, and that there were many comments. It's such a refreshing rarity to read respectful debate in comments on such a topic.

I wondered, is it true? Is it impossible to have faith and reason at the same time?

Tim states,

"Faith exists in the absence of reason. The two cannot coexist for any given belief."

and at another point in his post,

"Every action we take as human beings has something of reason and something of faith, but those “somethings” do not coincide."

He goes on to explain...

"When you fly, your reason tells you first that airplanes work, and rarely crash, based on the evidence of your knowledge, your visual perception of other planes taking off and, if you are a physicist, your knowledge of aerodynamics. Your faith tells you that your knowledge is accurate, that your eyes are working, and that the laws of physics will continue to function. Coincidentally, the less faith you have in these things, the more nervous you will be to fly."

I believe I disagree with Tim here. It appears to me that even in this example, faith and reason do coincide. When we climb into a plane, we believe it will fly because it is reasonable to believe it will fly. Faith and reason are serving the same purpose and acting at the same time; a reasonable faith and a faith-filled reasoning.

But what if reason and faith do conflict? Can faith and reason then coincide? Tim states that there are three responses to such an apparent contradiction; blind faith (who cares what it looks like, I know this is true simply because I believe it's true!), rationalization (bringing reasoning to the level of faith; at surface level this doesn't appear rational so there must be a reason beyond the surface level that can explain it). Or rejection, simply accepting that what was believed to be true was not true; believing that putting faith in the irrational is insane.

One of my favorite Theologians, Thomas F. Torrance, (a student of Karl Barth) spoke on the relationship of Faith and reason. His book Incarnation says,

"For Torrance, faith may be defined as what happens to our reason when it encounters the nature and reality of God. It encounters a personal reality it has not met before, which it cannot fit into its predefined categories, which far outstrips its powers of comprehension but which makes itself intelligible in terms of its own unique reality. Reason must either reject such a reality or recognise it and learn to reshape its whole way of perception in accordance with the nature of this new reality. If it does the latter, reason becomes faith" (xliii).

I guess this means, in Torrance's understanding, that reasoning is rationalized into faith.

And that is the thing. Sometimes it seems ludicrous to live in faith. But even then, it is reasonable. In my last post, I wrote of the faith of George Muller. God provided for all his needs. He never once had to ask for finances in his different ministries. It certainly seems foolish to count on an invisible hand to provide for the physical needs of hundreds of orphans under your care; downright irresponsible! Common logic would say if you don't ask for money to go buy and prepare food for the kids, there will be none. George stepped out in blind faith, and God provided.

Was he unreasonable to do this? God had always provided. should he not expect that God would do so again?

Sometimes its just more reasonable to believe in the unreasonable.

Tim says, in his last paragraph, "...I still believe in God, and I still believe that Christ was humanity’s best incarnation of him."

I have other friends who have left the Christian faith who would probably say similar things.

My question is this: Is it rational to believe that Christ was a good man; the best incarnation of God, if he was not God himself? To me, this seems far less reasonable then Christianity itself.

C.S. Lewis said it best,

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. "

I do not know Tim. He is quite obviously a talented writer, well-read, and intelligent. I am sure he exceeds me in all these areas. I also do not believe he came to this decision lightly. In many ways I understand his struggle recognizing that there is a lot to our faith (much of which Tim mentions) that just doesn't seem to make sense. I can hardly imagine the struggle and how fearful it must have been to leave a life long faith and hope behind. The only difference between Tim and I in our struggles with the Christian faith is the direction our reason took us. He chose reason over faith and my reason became faith. I pray that as Tim continues to seek truth, the true God will guide him to His arms.

Check out Faith and Doubt by Aaron Espe. Good song.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Come and see what God will do!

Every now and then, I get asked to speak for some youth event or something of the sort. I often speak on the very things I struggle with the most, like faith. Recently I read a book about George Muller, a great man of remarkable faith. George Muller; The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans. An amazing book--you could easily read it in a day, and everyone should.

George Muller, amongst the multitude of wonderful things he did, started the first orphanage of Bristol, England back in the 1800s. Starting an orphanage, though amazing in itself, may not be the most amazing thing in the world. Starting it with the trust and expectation that God would provide everything--EVERYTHING--for such a ministry is. George Muller was also a pastor, and though he truly desired to provide for the great need of countless homeless and needy orphans in Bristol, his main desire for beginning the orphanage was as a testament of faith to the members of his church and the community at large. George Muller determined to never ask for one cent in the support of his orphanages. In the sixty or so years of his life after beginning the orphanage, he never once asked for any provision, trusting that God would completely provide.

And he did.

I love this one story. George was in his office going over some business with one of his assistants. The daughter of friend and assistant, John Townsend was playing out in the garden below. George watched the then eight year old Abigail Townsend through his window with a smile; she was like a grand daughter to him. He loved her dearly. There was a knock on the door. It was the matron from Orphan house three. At this point in the orphanage history, there were three orphanages; I believe each had about 300 or more orphans living in their walls. The matron informed George that there was no food in the kitchen. none. It was breakfast time for 300 hungry orphans. George just said. "I'll take care of it."

I can almost picture the excitement and smile on his face, like a child on Christmas day, as he ran down the stairs, out the door and straight to Abigail in the garden.

"Abigail, come with me. Come and see what God will do!"

As they walked into Orphan house 3, George stood before the 300 orphans all quietly and patiently standing before their spots at their tables, empty plates and cups before them. George said, "Good Morning Children, Let us pray. Dear God, we thank you for what you are going to give us to eat. Amen."

The children pulled out their chairs across the wooden floor, and that was when a knock came at the door. The baker. He couldn't sleep the night before feeling as if he was supposed to make bread for the orphans, so he stayed up, and now had fresh bread for everyone.

"God has blessed us through you this morning!"

Then there was the next knock. The milkman. His cart had broken down right in front of the orphanage. The load was to heavy. It would need to be lightened in order to fix the cart. Milk was given, free of charge if they would only help him take it off the cart.

Sometimes God multiplies loaves and fish; other times he breaks down milk carts.

I have always thought that faith is something that I need to muster up; something I really need to work on. But the bible says it is given to us. Eph 2:8 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Why does it seem that some Christians have a George Muller faith then, while others have...my kind.

The more we walk with God, the more he blesses our faith. The more time we spend with our Father, the more we trust him. George Muller read through his bible over 300 times in his Christian life. He became a Christian in his early 20s and died at 89. Do the math. This man loved God's word, and he was in love with his Lord, his constant provider.

Are we self-sufficient? Independent? In control of our situations? Bummer if we think so; we're missing out on a lot of excitement.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Where is my blog? right here.

I have had this blog for many years; all the way back to 2004. It didn't take me long to regret choosing a domain address as confusing and difficult to type as once-a-sinner-now-saved.blogspot.com. I thought it was cool at the time... Recently, I discovered that it is possible to change your blog's address with just a few simple clicks. Yes, it took me five years to discover this. Sinnernowsaved.blogspot.com should be much easier to remember. Soon after making this change, however, I realized that this will screw up any link ever made to my blog, as well as prevent many people from finding my blog being that it is no longer located at the old address. Oh foolish, foolish me. In fact perhaps no one will even read this because they won't be able to find my blog! Gasp!

What's that? Just change it back you say. Yes, this would make sense, but the first time I made the change, it messed with my layout a bit, and I lost a few things, so I dare not return to my old address for fear of doing irreversible damage to my page. I am not computer savvy enough to prevent these blog blunders. Sigh. sorry for all the confusion.

In other news, for those of you who perchance have stumbled upon this page despite the change of address, I have another new blog--an indie music blog with my friend, Taylor.


I am pretty stoked about it. Taylor is a veritable Indie genius so hipster wisdom should abound.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Raw Chicken Stimulates the Imagination

I am currently in job purgatory--that place between college and career when one works a menial part time job often reserved for high school students. But its not that bad, it provides lots of time to think. I often pray, sing to myself, think about church planting, youth ministry, girls, family and friends, books, music, God. Some times when breading the raw chicken, I imagine that there was a strain of chicken zombieism that went unchecked; that some farm butchered and plucked those zombie chickens, and then shipped them to our pizza place. It wasn't their fault really--they didn't know; zombies often run around like chickens with their heads cut off--especially zombie chickens. As I quickly bread the chicken, I accidentally prick my skin on a chicken breast rib, contract the chicken zombie virus and begin rampaging the town of Roseau. The government sends in snipers to destroy all the strutting, clucking undead. But it's to late, soon all Roseau is running around, pecking at each other in a zombie stupor!

These are the mindless places mindless jobs take me. I have had many stressful, think-on-your-feet-or-crash-and-burn jobs, so this can be a pleasant change...for the time being, at least.

I recognize that even having a reliable job in small town Minnesota during a recession is a blessing in itself. Even though I am not in full time ministry right now, God is still providing opportunity to hone my skills, and serve within my own church. And though a pizza place is not the most exciting job in the world, I can't help but think that God has some lessons and opportunities here for me. The job has already challenged my pride (go minnimum wage college grad!), and I am beginning to see that if I put myself out there, God could really use me to touch lives for him through relationships I form. Pray that I take that leap--that I see the opportunities before me and take them. That I really love the people I work with. I want to bring meaning to this period in my life, to show the love of Christ to the people I encounter. I continually find myself imagining friends, family and co-workers on the day of judgement looking straight into my eyes and asking me why I never told them about Christ. That is so much scarier then zombie chickens, and yet, it seems so much easier to push out of my mind.

It shouldn't be.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What the...

My roommate from last year is a photographer. This has made me a professional model. Here is the story.

Taylor: Hey Tyler, let me take your picture.

Tyler: OK, let me do something stupid first.


Tyler: Ha! There we go.

Taylor: Oh...wow...

One year later, I receive this email from Taylor.

"Dear Tyler

An image of you has sold through Getty images. It's the one of you against the pink background with your poorly shaved beard. A company paid close to $600 for it. Best of all that company lists itself as an "Addiction Agency." I laughed and laughed and laughed. And then laughed some more. Thought you might get a kick out of it. I owe you a cigar.


I am the face of addicts everywhere.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


My family is a pet family. We've had animals since I was very young. Fish, birds, cats, dogs, hamsters. Right now we have a cat and dog; so we're not quite the zoo we have been. Most of these pets have been wonderful, and quite smart. Our first dog wasn't.

It was perhaps the cutest stupid animal to ever gnaw a tennis shoe. One time this dog climbed onto our dinning room table...and peed. I have had many years to contemplate what was (or wasn't) going on in the head of this ridiculous animal. The only logical conclusion I can come to is something like "hmmm....this surface is often full of delicious food, I had better claim it as my territory." Dumb mutt.

I realize that my love for animals is conditional. I am so thankful that God's love for me is not. I have spent so much of my life trying to earn the salvation he has already freely given me. I can't earn his love through my works, and though I pee on the proverbial table all the time, God loves this stupid mutt! His love does not change.

A good friend shared some verses from Hebrews 10 with me; how we can confidently walk into the thrown room of God with clear consciences because Christ, our High Preist, goes before us. Awesome. I especially like verse 14,

"...by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy."

We are made perfect, yet are in the process of being made holy. Already but not yet. Already viewed as perfect even as we are slowly being made perfect. Our God is great. Our High Priest is beautiful.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Philosophy of Humor

It is my belief that even the lamest joke/pun will be found humorous to the recipient if the deliverer delights in said joke/pun.

If I am wrong, please don't correct me.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

John's church plant

I met John one summer at camp. It's crazy to think that if either one of us had chosen a different path that Summer, I may have missed out on one of my most treasured friendships. I remember one particular week of camp when the youth revealed to us beyond a shadow of doubt the propensity towards wickedness in all mankind. All have sinned and fall short of God's glorious standard; try sleeping in a cabin of boys for a night and you will be convinced of that truth. They stole and hid our clothes, put toothpaste in each other's shoes, ran our boxer's up the flag pole (and through poison ivy...I won't explain how we found that one out), pushed a counselor's refurbished, collector's car down a narrow wooded path scratching the paint on the way, snuck out at night, and used my car shocks as their own personal trampoline. When we said one thing, they challenged us to our faces; practicing deliberate disobedience without a hint of remorse. Yet, when it came time for games and hanging out, we became their greatest buddies. The strong confidence we entered the week with had diminished to jello. We were exhausted, and as is the case at camp, we didn't have much free time. In fact, our only moment of peace was hitting the showers. One evening, as we stood in adjacent shower stalls, the hot water easing the stress from our aching muscles, we talked about our campers and the way they were treating us--the utter disrespect wearing us down. I don't know how that train got into the men's shower room, I swear there were no tracks, but it plowed us both at the same time. We saw with heaven sent clarity that we were those campers before our God. There, standing naked in our stalls, we revealed our darkest sins to one another; the ways we each were spitting in the face of our Saviour. Two sinful servants standing in the shower room. John was half dressed by the time I stepped out of the shower, wrapped in a towel, tears falling from our cheeks as we realized who we were and what we had done to our Lord. We embraced each other and prayed.

That's when one of our campers walked in.

It is a bad idea to hug in a shower room while wrapped in a towel (or any state of dress for that matter). It wasn't until later that John and I even considered what our moment of embracing prayer must have looked like to a horribly confused (and potentially scarred) camper. Its fun to look back at the awkwardness of that situation, but even more so, it is amazing to look back and see God grabbing the hearts of two friends, convicting them, and preparing them for the plans He has for each of us.

John inspires me like very few do. At the age of 23, he has already helped form a church, having lay pastored and preached there for over 2 years. Though he has never gone to a Christian college, his passion and utter excitement for learning, growing, and seeking our faith supersedes that of just about anyone I know, as does his knowledge. John loves God, and loves people. Period. God will use him, because he is willing to be used by God.

Three or four summers ago, my sister had a bible study that John's wife made the over an hour long trek from their home town to attend every week. This gave John and I a good chance to meet, play at the park with his little boy, and catch up. One week, John told me of his dreams to plant a church some day. I casually mentioned to him how Winnipeg might be a good city to plant a church, and we (somewhat) jokingly began to dream how wonderful it would be to be in ministry together some day.

Two weeks ago John quit his job to focus full time on preparing for a church plant; his current thought being in Winnipeg! John has his church planting assessment with ConvergeUSA (our church conference--formerly called the Baptist General Conference) in January. It is so exciting to see a dream beginning to sprout some legs. I share these stories to invite you to pray for John as he prepares for this next step, and makes his final decisions as to where God is calling him.

John has also invited me to consider joining him in this church plant. At this point I couldn't even tell you the likelihood of such a possibility becoming reality; only that I am seriously and prayerfully considering it. I beg your prayers for discernment and wisdom in this very important decision. I believe that God can, and will give us each a very clear sense of where he is calling us, and where he can best use us. I do not want my excitement for working with a beloved friend in a familiar city to distract me from any other path God may have planned for me. It would be easy to stop looking elsewhere for ministry positions. Please pray that wherever God takes each of us, that we will humbly follow his lead in obedience and that we will love him and love people. Period.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

And now for something completely ordinary

I created my own super hero in third grade. He had his own back story; a dapper young orphan boy with the secret identity of LIGHTNING BOY!(...soon to become Lightning Man--a much more heroic name). My mom even sewed me a costume (under strict design guidelines). After I drew my first draft of my hero, I showed him to one of my friends, who promptly pulled the paper from my hands and said, "Nice, all you need now is this" and carelessly wrote a crooked, jagged "L" on his chest. He took no care to consider how the contours of Lightning Man's muscular physique might affect the way the "L" lay on his chest. He did not consider how the pressure with which he pressed the pencil down upon the paper might make a line much darker then the that seen throughout the rest of the composition. He didn't ask, "Will this "L" match the likeness of the rest of the hero's attire?" No. Instead he made a line that could hardly pass for an "L" even by the standards of a preschooler. Most people would respond by erasing the dastardly line and shading over the mark. My response was to furiously pull my offender's hair. I am sure I almost scalped the poor guy. It took me a few moments to realize fire was shooting from my eyeballs, and that I had gone all Hulk on the poor kid before I sheepishly apologized.

Oh the irony of ironies. I find now that my greatest joy of artistic expression is to take another's piece of art and to draw upon it. Hypocrite that I am, There really isn't any form of expression that I currently enjoy more. I have begun to take old paintings (prints only is my rule...it would be a true shame to ruin someones original), and draw ironic scenes over top. I don't know precisely what it is about my generation that seems to so greatly appreciate the ironic...art, fashion, music, literature...maybe these pieces are my tongue in cheek way of pointing out how we are continually corrupting the natural beauty of God's creation with commercialization and cheap thrills. Maybe our joy in irony is simply the recognition that their truly is nothing new under the sun, and so we simply strive to find new ways of looking at the old. All I know for sure is that I get a kick out of the ironic. I mean really, there is nothing cool about an old man's cardigan sweater....but seriously, old cardigan's are awesome!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Toast to Maturity

Summer is coming to an end. The days are getting shorter. The occasional leaf is shedding its green for a coat of yellow, with reds and oranges anxiously awaiting their turn. The air is getting warmer--huh? what!?! (...strange dyslexic Minnesota--reading our seasons backwards!). It is a time of new beginnings, and has always been a favorite time of year for me.

This warm air is filled with even more excitement then in years passed now that I am no longer a student. As Summer's end quickly approaches, I realize I have written nothing about what God has been doing in my life since I stepped from a stage, tassel bobbing and clinging to my beard, with an expensive piece of paper--the result of several years of studying (and falling asleep) in the library--held proudly in my hand. Soon after graduating, I had my 24th birthday. There are a few birthdays that are significant moments in a young persons life--16, when a crazy young person is allowed behind the wheel of several hundred pounds of fast moving metal, 18, when a crazy young person is allowed to choose our country's leaders, and 21, when a crazy young person is allowed to consume intoxicating beverages; but for me 24 hit with a wave of intensity that no birthday before has. Walls of panic and depression began to close in on me as I experienced a "crisis" (here's hoping its not mid life; I'd like to at least reach 50!). I began to recognize that I have been acting like...a crazy young person. Though I have technically been an adult for 6 years, there is very little to suggest that fact. "Man" is a title that should be earned. There are far to many 20-something, 30-something boys--and I am one of them. I am not a man, and seeing that scared and saddened my heart. Though I have held many leadership roles throughout my life, many of which have been in areas of ministry, I am beginning to see the depravity of my own spiritual maturity. I have pridefully viewed myself as a "mature Christian" when I am still living as a child in my faith. I have began to see that there is very little scripture stored in my heart, and lots of garbage taking residence. I had the wonderful opportunity to work at a bible camp this summer, something that most twenty-somethings don't get the opportunity to do, and God revealed a lot to me there. With the majority of my co-workers being under 20, I was impressed with their commitment to working hard, and serving God. They spurred me on in ways they may not realize, and I hope I did the same for them.

I believe that perhaps I have convinced many others (as I convinced myself) of a spiritual maturity in my life, but maturity spreads its roots deeply into integrity; it is not merely who I am in the public eye, but who I am when all alone that speaks of my maturity. God opened a door for me to meet with other Christian men on a weekly basis to talk about our hidden selves--the behind the door selves; the hidden boys that keep us from being open, honest, and Godly men. I am not there yet, but at least now I can say I'm trying.

This summer I told many embarrassing stories from my life to campers around the campfire with the hope of drawing analogies that teach. "Stupid moments from the life of Tyler--that teach." I will try once again.

Every September, Providence has a Welcome Banquet for all the students to usher in a new year. A few years back, as I sat dressed in my finest (a thrift shop suit) at a beautifully decorated table amidst some of my favorite people, in dim candle light with the murmuring of people visiting after a summer apart, my friend across from me said, "Tyler, we haven't visited for quite some time. We should have a nice, deep conversation." I responded by lifting my cup of tea, saying, "Yes we should," and then dumping the cup in my lap. Not on purpose. I missed my mouth. By about 4 inches. It was as if a piece of information was attempting to jump the synapses of my brain, but hadn't gone to the gym for awhile, and didn't have the strength to make the leap. It is hard to have a deep conversation with a girl when your table companions are laughing in your general direction and you have a cup of hot tea wetting your crotch.

Believe it or not; I think there is an analogy for spiritual maturity hidden in this story (I'll allow you to judge whether it be a good one or not). Like me in my three piece, thrift shop suit, we so often put on our best "spiritual" garb so that we can look the part for our brothers and sisters around us. Yet, though we hold God's word--the living water--in our hands, we rarely allow it to make a connection, drinking it down as we should. We all to easily get distracted from conversing with our creator and God, simply content with looking mature rather then being mature.

Yet, there is no need crying over spilt milk (or tea). The important thing is that we strive towards maturity. Like a bibbed child in a high chair, we can lift the living water to our mouths; we may spill, we may emphatically spit it out or miss the mark all together, but at least we are trying, digging in to the food of God's word. We are learning to find nourishment in him, learning to feed ourselves. We all have to go through one messy faced, spaghetti smeared, high chair photo (what parent hasn't taken one of those?) before we learn to eat like adults.

It is important that we examine our maturity. Where are we in our walk? Is it where we believe we are, or are we fooling ourselves? Are you drinking in the living water or are you just holding the cup. Drink up! Savor the beauty of of our Lord. Drink and be satisfied. Become a mature adult, and enjoy a nice, deep conversation.

...maybe put a napkin in your lap.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bird, Bones, and Something New

Considering I haven't written anything on here in over five months, I feel I shall break silence. Often, I feel if I have nothing thoughtful or witty to say, then I have no point in writing. It simply wouldn't be worth reading. And I'll tell you flat out, this post won't be worth reading, but it sure will be worth listening to (I hope). After all, what better way to break the silence then with a few tunes. This is what I've been listening to lately.

First off, nothing super new being that his album came out in January; I have been listening to a whole lot of Andrew Bird lately. The guy is a veritable genius--I could swoon over his talent as a multi-instrumentalist, or his amazing voice, but what really gets me is his whistle. Yes. Whistle. You know, that crisp sound from puckered lips; that simple talent most of us learnt in elementry school, and save solely for those moments of thumb twiddling or remembering the Andy Griffith show theme song. Not Andrew. His whistling is done on stage in front of thousands of adoring fans. Yeah, he just learned how to whistle a whole lot better then the rest of us. You will just have to check him out for yourselves if you have not yet had the pleasure.

Secondly, Brand New is coming out with a new album Daisy on Sept. 22. I fell in love with these guys a couple of years ago with their album The Devil and God are Raging inside of Me. Knowing that Lead singer, Jesse Lacey grew up in the church, it is a fascinating listen. One of my favorite albums. You can hear searching and struggle in his lyrics, voice and tone. On the bands myspace page, you can currently hear several (if not all) of their new albums tracks. It didn't grab me the way Tbe Devil and God... did; I think it will have to grow on me a bit, but good none the less. I suggest listening to their last album before checking out Daisy if you are new to the band (oh, and just click on their highlighted name above to get to their myspace page).

Lastly, an act that I am extremely excited about is the pet project of one of my favorite actors, Ryan Gosling. The guy can sing. It is a very unique project being that both Ryan, and band mate Zach Shields didn't really play the instruments they used until approaching the project, and they committed to playing as few takes as possible before recording. Some would say sloppy and stupid, but I say it adds to the charm. Add to that a choir of children dressed in Halloween costumes singing on each track, and you have something incredibly unique and special. Not every one's cup of tea, but I love it. They are called Dead Man's Bones, and their debut releases October 6th.

One more treasure I've discovered is not a band but rather an online music store that is pretty great. The thing about lala that I love besides the fact that they are 100% legal, their prices are great, and that they have almost any band you can think of is that you can listen to nearly any album in its entirety one time through before deciding to buy it. I apologize to my Canadian friends; rumor has it that you cannot access this gift from lala in the great white north. I comfort you with the fact that you have CBC Radio 2 and 3, which, really, is a pretty amazing gift to a music lover's heart in its own right.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Where The Sentimental Childhood Memories Are

Here is a movie I am incredibly excited for! Maurice Sendak's classic children's story Where the Wild things Are is coming to the big screen, under the direction of Spike Jonze

Its like cozying on the coach with my sisters in our PJs eating dry cereal or vigorously peeling an orange before bedtime, listening to Dad read a bed time story all over again.   *and contented sigh*

Arcade Fire, giant puppet monsters, classic children's story....

This trailer makes me giddy.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

God is wooing me

I am reading an incredible book right now called Incarnation, by Thomas F. Torrance. I'm not super far yet (though I am supposed to turn in a review on it by tomorrow, sigh...shame on me), but it has already blessed me deeply. In my life, I see how much I am Israel; stubborn and rebellious, running away as God pursues. I have not been spending much intentional time with God for quite some time, and there is very little in my life to suggest that Christ is my first love. Yet, he persists. God is wooing my heart and I am amazed. This book is giving me a new and clearer understanding about why God has acted out his plan the way he has; a deeper understanding of the Incarnate Christ, and of the beauty of a love that is beyond comprehension. As I have been reading, there are those moments when all I can say is, WOW!

It's a bit like when a guy is in love, and she does that beautiful and unique thing that is distinctly her, and he thinks, "My goodness, how in the world am I so lucky as to be with this person?"

Right now, I look at my savior and creator and say, "Jesus, how is it that your love is so big and so merciful that you call me your bride?"

I am sure I'll put up a few quotes, or share a few ideas from this book soon (...soonish).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I don't belong here

Back when I was in high school I was voted Mr. Congeniality of my Sr. class. I felt honored to be given such a title (though I was really hoping for "luscious locks"...), but in one sense, I felt cursed--I could hang out with anybody, but never really felt as if I belonged anywhere. I was a drifter; my connections with my classmates for the most part were amiable, but not deep.

Providence has been my community for five years now, and it has become dear to my heart, so much so that I often grieve at the thought of leaving this place. I've hung out in my professors homes, had fish put in my slippers, performed in front of the friendliest crowds ever during Prov Coffee Houses, danced to "another one bites the dust" numerous times when friends hooked up, puked after wrestling matches, swam in ditches, raced sticks on the Rat River, hucked apples into the dark night sky, ate bugs, preached sermons, mourned the death of beautiful lives, and rejoiced in life found in the beautiful love of Christ's death. I have went deep with these people. This is where I belong.

But, really, it isn't.

College is a peculiar place and time in life, where one comes with the ultimate purpose of leaving. All my years here point me to the door. "Come forth to learn, go forth to teach."

I heard a sermon awhile back by Paul Matthies that reminded me that, as Christians, we are always to remember that this earthly world is not our home. we are not to set our roots to deep, because God will soon call us home with him. Like Israel and Judah before us, we are in exile.

It is the same thing here (albeit on a smaller scale); Prov is not my home. God has a purpose bigger then this place for me. I feel it. I am out growing this place I've called home for so long. Though, my friends here are some of the best I've ever made, our relationships are changing as they enter into long term relationships, marriages, ministries, and countries that pull them a bit further from me (and, appropriately so), tweaking, just a little, who we are to each other. I love them all so much, but once again, I have to say goodbye to a family.

It is a scary thing to know I have to leave; to drift once again with the fear of not really having a place to belong. The fear of being alone. God is teaching me a lot about trust right now. It has been encouraging to look back over the last several years, seeing that in all periods of transition, God had things worked out even before I arrived. I am finding peace in that, though little comfort. But I'm not supposed to be comfortable...I'm not home yet.

Monday, March 09, 2009


I know that you care,
but right now I just don't see how this could end well,
and its just the beginning.
I usually play it by ear,
Knowing there's nothing to fear.

But carelessness drives a fast car and I'm walking.

I'm worried and alone, and I'm feeling prone
to fall on my face.
Failure, disgrace.
I'm scared to leave this comfortable space.
Pushed out of the womb and into the tomb

But if I don't die, how can I live?

where will I go? I'm scared to be alone!
Do I trust you'll be there? --(...Somthing about lilies and birds of the air...)
I want someone with skin on
...sometimes they just seem more real.

But I know that no one is more real than You.

You ran to me, I'll fall to You.
There isn't anything else I can do.
Tomorrow's a worrier,
and he's full of himself,
So I'll set him back down
up on the shelf.

We'll read that story tomorrow.

Monday, February 16, 2009

If I had a Snoozatron, perhaps I wouldn't fall asleep in the library

Sometimes I struggle falling asleep at night. recently I have started writing at least one joke every night before I go to sleep. I now have enough jokes for a very poor comedy sketch (poor, unless of course, my whole audience is very tired). Then I practice my routine as I slowly drift off...

I admire Wallace's ingenuity.

I wonder what sheep do when they have trouble sleeping.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day.  Any day devoted to celebrate the essence of who God is; the one who is love, is beautiful in my book.

Talking with a friend, he expressed to me how much he hates this day because of how commercial it is.  I understand his frustration.  I believe we can make this day what it should be.

Billions of people daily go without the clean water we so greatly take for-granted (I wonder how many liters I used today while washing dishes?).

About 25,000 people die daily of either hunger or hunger related causes--the majority being children.  This is about 1 person every 3 seconds.

According to BBC, in 2005 the US and Europe alone profited $15.5 billion in trafficked forced labor.  This includes the sex trade.

Thousands of Children are recruited or forced to become Child Soldiers throughout the world.  Girls are not excluded from this life style as they are often forced into the military for sexual purposes, combat, and to lay out explosives.  It is impossible to know exactly how many children are forced into this life style since so much is hidden on this issue.

In Winnipeg (The city I live near and do my internship in) there are an estimated 1700 homeless.

Someone you cross paths with today is having a really lousy day, and doesn't see God's face.

God deeply loves the marginalized, hurting people of this world, but his expression of this love comes through our hands and feet as Christians.  There doesn't seem to be a place for "Singles awareness day" when there are so many people in need of love.  

I hope this didn't discourage you, but encourages you and inspires you to live out love.  I hope you celebrate love today, and do so by demonstrating it to someone who needs it.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Why Tooth and Nail doesn't Suck Eggs: part III

Teenage boys have angst. I was a teenage boy once. With an acne covered face, pipe cleaner arms, and my perpetual awkwardness around girls (hmmm..., since I don't have stud appeal going for me, I'll win the ladies by sticking insects in my mouth, balancing on teeter-totters, and snorting jello cubes. OK, the jello cubes were in college.), I turned to the elixir that all teenage boys drown their angst in; beautiful, blissful, angstful emo music.

My arms are still pipe cleaners (but I am getting a gym pass), and I still eat insects (they are good protein). I have, however, given up standing on see-saws (one broken arm to many for those shenanigans), and only get the occasional zit in times of stress. And in those times of stress, I still turn to those emo bands that helped an awkward teenage boy express his emotions oh so many years ago.

Please allow me to clarify. These were back in the days before emo became a swear word and joke in the music world. A couple bands in the mid nineties (Sunny day Real Estate, being one of the primary and most important; Fugazi being the first) formed this new and interesting genre, and by the late nineties-early 00s emo was the thing to be, so bands in high school would ask,

"what should we call our genre?"

"I don't know....emo is cool. lets be emo."


Pretty soon every band was doing this until what was "unique" and cool eventually became lame and satirized to no end.

It happened to grunge before it (remember when everyone liked Creed, and then when everyone hated Creed?), and will happen to "indie" next (don't worry, it won't affect the music...all the bands that once called themselves emo just call themselves indie or punk now and still basically sound the same).

There are those bands that have a way of helping you understand yourself; that speak into a situation that you couldn't quite express any other way. Singing "Getting over you" with Acceptance after a high school break up, or singing a Copeland song with that cute girl from youth group on your mind that you know is out of your league; these were the bands that told me what I was feeling when I couldn't quite peg it myself.

A couple of those bands on Tooth and Nail were Further Seems Forever, The Juliana Theory, Anberlin, Mae, and underOATH.

Its not hard to see most of these bands success and contribution to the music world. Anberlin is now a major label success, Mae has been on Capitol records, and is now doing there own thing independently (a current trend it seems; Radiohead, Switchfoot...).

UnderOATH first created the classic screamo sound that every screamo band would eventually try to emulate with their acclaimed They're Only Chasing Safety, and then drastically changed their sound and hit number 2 on the billboard 200 in 2006, the first time a Christian artist had done so since '97--not just a Christian band--a METALCORE Christian band; #2 on the Billboard 200! wow. Their latest album, Lost in the Sound of Separation only got the best of reviews from just about everyone.

The Juliana Theory developed quite a fan base, and developed the emo genre greatly. Singer and guitarist, Brett Detar's other project Zao has done volumes for Christians in the metalcore genre (underOATH included)--and simply for metalcore in general--having been labeled one of the hardest bands....ever.

But the band I really want to focus on is the one I called favorite throughout high school.

Further Seems Forever did emo right. I jumped on board with their second album, How to start a fire, but each of their records were brilliant (each of the three albums had a different lead vocalist).

Arguably, FSF greatest contribution to the world of music isn't anything they did, but rather jump starting the career of Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional fame. I say arguably because I love FSF far more then Dashboard (don't get me wrong, I feel no shame in stating that Dashboard is great).

Each lead singer brought something unique and beautiful to the mix that set apart each album. Yet, it never felt like you were listening to a new band...even though the style of lyrics and singing change quite a bit.

with Chris Carrabba on The Moon is Down, you got that standard emo vibe. Just beautiful music. It's really no surprise that Jeremy Enigk of Sunny Day R. Estate came along to help Chris get Dashboard going strong (Oh, and there's another side note. At one point the famed Jeremy Enigk was on T&N records with a band called Poor Old Lu with the likes of Aaron and Jesse Sprinkle--Aaron now an amazing producer and head of the band Fair, and Jesse drumming for Demon Hunter as well as several other bands).

Jason Gleason (now of ActionReaction) led for their second album, How to Start a Fire. Jason brought his amazing voice, and his strangeness. "...the trees are tired from breathing sharks keep moving never stopping..."--what the heck kind of lyrics are these?! Even if the album makes no sense, it is still one of my favorites. ever.

Jon Bunch (formerly of Sense Field) also brought his unique, beautiful and warm voice to the helm of FSF. He also brought the most powerful lyrics that the band ever had. Hide Nothing is more worshipful then many worship albums. Lead the Way has become my life song.

Tooth and Nail deserves props for discovering some truly beautiful and innovative bands that lead in the formation of modern emo music. I'll pump the fists of my pipe cleaner arms to these bands any day.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

David After Dentist aka best youtube video ever!

I can't wait to have kids!

This is what the father had to say about the video.

"This is my 7 year old son who had an extra tooth removed last summer, 2008.

I had the camera because he was so nervous before and I wanted him to see the before and after.

He was so out of it after, I had to carry him out of the office. The staff was trying to keep from laughing. I had tears from laughing so hard.

He is doing fine now and the teeth are great.

Best of all he is the best kid as is his brother William. I couldnt have asked for two better sons!"

I love seeing dads enjoying being dads.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

When nothing is certain, you are.

When I feel broken and unloved, I am broken and deeply loved.

When I wonder if I am worth anyone's time, you long for time with me.

When every fiber of my being screams failure, you scream son.

When I long to be held, you remind me I am.

When nothing is beautiful, you are.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Why Tooth and Nail doesn't Suck Eggs: part II

When thinking early Tooth and Nail, people often think of punk music;  MxPx, Slick Shoes, Calibretto 13.  Me, I entered the T&N universe in their emo glory days...and I'm not even ashamed to say it (Further Seems Forever will always be close to my heart). 

Though it would be hard to guess looking at the label today, T&N has also made some pretty significant contributions to the folk rock world.

Lets start with a band called Danielson that signed with T&N  back in '97.  Daniel Smith was just a young gun at the time and had created a band with his siblings as a thesis project for college.  What other label out there at the time would sign Danielson, Christian or otherwise? You just don't hear bands like Danielson on Sparrow records(...his voice is like nails on a chalk board, yet peculiarly endearing at the same time).  T&N has opened the doors to several young artists who wouldn't have had a chance anywhere else. This was an incredibly wise move for T&N.  When we look to the indie music cannon, Pitchfork, we see that Danielson (who is Daniel Smith) is one of the great kings of the indie realm.  He has gone by many a title.  Danielson, Brother Danielson, Danielson Famile, and TriDanielson.  Though his name has changed, the music world's respect for him has not (Pitchfork gave his album, Ships, a 9.1 rating...this is almost unheard of).  And this is why Danielson (and therefore Tooth and Nail) is so important:

Danielson befriended and mentored a young fellow named Sufjan Stevens (one of the biggest names--the indie darling--of the indie scene) , and released his record, Seven Swans on his label, Sounds Familyre.  Yes, Daniel Smith has his own label with many names that have cult followings (Wovenhand and Half-handed cloud are a couple of my faves).  

Sufjan has his own label (asthmatic kitty records) that has made quite the stir in the indie pot as well.  You may have heard some of these names if indie music is a world you commonly frequent: My Brightest DiamondWelcome WagonShapes and Sizes ...

Yes, it's true, this indie tree is beginning to stray far from it's T&N roots.  Fair enough, but I just like to ponder what the music world may have missed out on if Tooth and Nail didn't give  a young Daniel Smith his big break, and he in turn didn't reach out to dear, young Suf.

There are a few other folk legends that had a stint on Tooth and Nail as well-- Pedro the Lion (David Bazan)Damien JuradoDenison Witmer (he went by the name "The River Bends" at the time).  All of these guys have played a huge roll in the indie-folk scene, and have albums that have received stunning reviews.  Tooth and Nail brought Pedro the Lion to the world (something that they may not be so proud of anymore due to his controversial content; David Bazan also recently announced his becoming agnostic).  Whether you are a David Bazan fan or not, there is no denying the incredible influence he has played in the indie music world (David Bazan rubs shoulders with Ben Gibbard from Death Cab For Cutie, for example).  

Damien Jurado has had an album produced by David Bazan, and got his big break when Jeremy Enigk of Sunny Day Real Estate fame spotted him, and encouraged Sub Pop records to sign him.  They released his first full length album back in '97; the same year T&N released an E.P. for Jurado.  This is significant because it opened Jurado to two different audiences; widening his fan base.

Witmer hangs out with the likes of Rosie Thomas and Sufjan Stevens, as is apparent in Rosie's album, These Friends of Mine in which both Sufjan and Witmer make appearances.  Witmer had released several albums before he released The River Bends on T&N, but to have that caliber of an artist on a label says something about the qaulity of the label.

So there you have it, Several influential artists who have all had a stint--or even began on T&N; each owing a debt of gratitude to this label for bringing their music to a wider public.  Who would have thought that the label that brings us the hardcore gutteral screams of Underoath could be the same label that shared with us the gentle folk melodies of Denison Witmer?  

More to come soon.    

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why Tooth and Nail doesn't Suck Eggs: part I

I am a bit of a music snob. I admit it. In fact, I go beyond admitting it, I relish in the title. I like to try to follow the indie scene. I occasionally read paste, HM, pursue the web for music blogs, check out who pitchfork is currently raving about, and on the rare occasion, I have even cracked the pages of RollingStone. By no means do I declare myself an expert in the world of indie music. I am just an indie loving, hipster-want-to-be, who is not ashamed to admit his crush on Rebecca St. James (and really...that’s not very hipster of me). Acknowledging that my opinions do not follow the strict sect of hipsterdom, or their cannon--Pitchfork, I have to bring to surface what I believe to be a great sin of the indie music world. This is the out right down play of Tooth and Nail Records. Senior writer for Spin magazine and author of "Body Piercing Saved My Life; inside the phenomenon of Christian rock" (great book by the way), Andrew Beaujon says, "...it's really quite astonishing how few of Seattle's hipsters know that there is a local independent rock label that routinely sells hundreds of thousands of CDs and it isn't named Sub Pop or Barsuk."

I confess, I have been rocked and nurtured in the proverbial embrace of T&N since I was an indie infant, so they are a label close to my heart whom I would fight tooth and nail (pun completely intended) for. However, as I approach my critical indie adolescence I have become aware of a few of T&N supposed "faults".

It is true that Tooth and Nail has a niche that will follow them to the ends of the earth. Any band who signs to T&N is bound to have thousands of fans before they have even started touring (heck, if in some hellish parallel universe Nickelback signed with T&N, they might even gain a couple fans...I shutter at the thought) just because of the immense fan base that T&N as a label carries.

It is also true that many of Tooth and Nail's bands sound a lot alike; those Anberlin fill-ins after the band's exit and move to Universal Republic Records. But lets not hold that against T&N either. T&N is a business, and these are the bands their target audience (the youngins) are listening to these days. Certainly they have some bands that currently fall far from the category of pop alternative (whether for better or worse, I will leave you to decide)--Neon Horse, Joy Electric, Surrogate, and Corey Crowder are a few that come straight to mind.

Perhaps the greatest thing that Tooth and Nail has going against their "cool" factor in the indie scene is what Andrew Beaujon calls "one of the last politically correct prejudices"--that its ok to ignore a Christian label because it's a Christian label.

The problem is that in the fast past world of indie music, the great accomplishments of Tooth and Nail have been forgotten, or flat out ignored because of their Christian status. And so here it is, here I make my oh-so-bold claim; there are few indie labels that have made such an impact on both the general and indie market as Tooth and Nail.

"What!" you say. Are you seriously claiming that the label that brings us KJ-52 has been one of the greatest contributors to the indie music scene?!?!

Yes. Yes I am.

In my next few posts I will attempt to reveal the impact T&N has had in the music world in the past sixteen years.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Instead of a show

The best songs are those that reach in to your chest, grab your heart and twist a bit just to remind you its there--and challenge you to live that way. This evening I heard a song I've heard before, but this time I really listened to it, and it breaks me. It's Jon Foreman's Instead of a Show.

"You turned your back on the homeless, the ones who don't fit in your plan, quit playing religion games, there's blood on your hands."

I am afraid for my future in ministry. But not simply in ministry, I am afraid for my walk as a Christian. How much of it is a show? How much of my integrity am I willing to sacrifice for comfort? Will I pursue justice, or convenience, God or glory, security or servanthood? Who's name will be exalted? Will I walk the path of ease and comfort or that of wreckless abandon to my Savior? Where does my trust lie? What is the value of my words?

And forget all these "What will I do" questions--What am I doing?

It is so easy for me to cry out for justice. But crying is just crying. Babies do that. I want to be known as a man who pursues Justice.

Instead of a show.