Sunday, April 27, 2008

When you're having writer's block...

... the best thing to do is to point out really great stuff that other people say about you, which distracts readers from the issue, which is that you don't blog much these days. The family was out all weekend, and I've been generally slammed for the last week, but I should be back in a day or two. Whilst you wait for more brilliance and humor, go read that thing that I linked to. It may be the only time I ever get any kind of pseudo-mainstream props, so forgive me if I'm a little geeked about it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In short...

... the PA/MD tour was a success. I'm too busy playing with my sons and making out with my wife (not at the same time, and not necessarily in that order) to write about it now, but you can get some recaps, stories, videos, and various other perspectives here, here, and here.

Big thanks to Jill Lejcar, Rob and Cheryl Tyson, Lance Burch, and the nicest man in show business, Jason Fullen.

More later.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pennsylvanians, Marylandians, UNITE!!!

Here's your chance. Come see me for free in Reading, PA this Thursday (April 17) and/or in Baltimore on Friday (April 18).

Reading info: I'll be playing at the world's coolest Christian Retailer, Gravity Bookstore, which can be viewed online here and here.

Baltimore info: house show at the home of Jill Lejcar. Jill would love to have more guests if anyone is interested. Contact her at

I'm also playing in Reisterstown, MD on Sunday morning and Sunday night (April 20). If you're interested in either of those, let me know and I'll get you info. I'm not sure the Sunday night show is open, but I can find out.

Thanks everyone. Contact me if you need more info about any of this.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Like "Cloverfield," only really lame

Ben, Michael and I had a gig in Ohio this weekend. It went really great. On the way to the airport in Houston, Ben mentioned that he thought he might have a toll tag somewhere in his car. I decided to document the search for said toll tag, using my handy Flip video camera.

Most of the video is just me making bad jokes and Ben and Michael pretending like I'm funny. The camera work is extremely poor and very shaky. The sound is inconsistent and bad. Oh, and the video isn't very interesting or funny. But there is the drama and tension of wondering what horrors and mysteries we might find in the atrociously unkempt bowels of Ben's SUV.

So, enjoy. But only if you're really bored.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Kyle, John, Etc

My good friend John Sherrill was in town Tuesday with his family, and we had some great time visiting with them. John and I have been friends for about a decade, maybe a little more. Many of you know he joined me on the Breakaway worship team in ’98, and we’ve worked together, in one way or another, a lot since then. He’s just a good man: full of faith, very talented, loyal, honest, and funny as a monkey on a pony.

Anyway, I have two “praise the Lord!” thoughts on our time together. First, Staci and I got to see baby Kyle for the first time since we visited him in the hospital. When we saw him then, he weighed less than two pounds. I remember when I walked up and spotted him in the incubator thing, with all those tubes tied up to him, his body so small and frail and not-much-like-a-real-human-baby looking. I just started crying. I’m a big sissy about stuff like that. I cry at movies and pretty much every time Ty Pennington moves that bus to reveal a big house that doesn’t fit at all in its neighborhood, filled with rooms made to look like aquariums and cookie jars and space shuttle cockpits.

So it was probably wrong to even let me take a peek at little Kyle in that state. John actually laughed at me. At that point, they had been in the hospital for several days, so I guess he was used to it. I wasn’t. Hence the waterworks. It’s kind of ridiculous if you think about it. Me, the not-very-involved friend is balling and John, the daddy, is comforting me and trying not to laugh.

The point is that the last time I’d seen Kyle, he was just a little tiny dude with all the odds against him and a good chunk of hospital personnel attending to him.

When we saw him on Tuesday, he was 11 pounds of healthy baby. What a joy that was. I mean, he’s a little miracle. I guess all babies are, but Kyle might deserve to be put into a separate little category.

It made me think of my brother, and how right now, he and his family are facing a bunch of unknowns. Everybody is praying and trying to talk positive and trying not to talk about anything else. That’s how folks were with baby Kyle when he first appeared, way ahead of schedule, onto the scene.

When I saw him again the other day, I was just standing there looking down at his little victorious body, and I thought, “we just have to keep praying, keep trusting the Lord, and keep telling Him when we’re too tired to pray and too scared to trust.” That’s what John and Kelly did. That’s what a whole slew of their friends and family did. That’s all we can do. And because we’re God’s Kids, it seems like that’s more than enough to get thru this.

So that was the first “praise the Lord!” It was a big one. 11 pounds and change. Thank You God for saving and sustaining Kyle. He is a living reminder of Your goodness.

The second thing wasn’t nearly as dramatic, but it was still pretty good. Some of you may know that John started working, about 18 months ago, on a new CD. He’s a musician, so no big deal, right? Not exactly. This was kind of a different thing. After much praying and counsel from trusted advisors and such, John had decided to do something a little bigger and more professional than anything he’d ever done before. He had some great songs ready to go, and he’d raised the necessary funds, so he got to work on what he hoped would be his best project ever.

Well, after nearly a year of work, he was so close to being done when – surprise – baby Kyle is born. So the CD was put on indefinite hold.

John had to stop everything and focus on his family and his little precious baby. As an artist, I know that had to be tough. Family vs CD-recording is no contest, but it's still tough to let go of all the work and creativity. I'm sure some part of him wanted to just give up on all of it at some point.

But he didn't. He just waited until the right time. He waited until baby Kyle got better (because we just knew that he would).

Yesterday I got an advance copy of the final, finished project, and it’s fantastic. I'm not sure when it's coming out, but go ahead and set aside $10-12 for it. You'll thank me.

Listen, we all know that John is my friend, so I guess you all expect me to say that his music is great. Fair enough, but this really is a great, great work of worship and art and production. I’m already learning several of the songs to lead in worship asap. More than all that, it just seems like this thing is kind of symbolic. I’m so proud of my friend (and his family) for suffering well thru this very difficult time. And I’m so proud of my friend for turning all that hurt and struggle and pain into something beautiful that will undoubtedly bring comfort and inspiration to the church.

I know, this isn’t my usual “style” around here. I’m not making fun of anything or trying to be Mr Hilarious. But I’m just so overwhelmed with the great victory of it all. For John and Kelly and their sweet boys, life is looking pretty good (finally!). And my prayer, honestly, is that God will give them a time of blessing and overflowing life. They’ve certainly seen the “other side” lately, but God is turning it all into something powerful; something that will change people.

See, I’ve done lots of recording and songwriting in my life. Musicians release new works all the time. But this is the first time I’ve ever been close to something that has been so clearly compelled and fueled by the trials and sufferings and victories of a real family full of real people living real life. I’ve never heard worship songs (and vocal takes) that I know for a fact came from times of deep hurt and question and faith-testing. I don’t know if any of that makes any sense.

I’m just glad, okay? I’m glad to know John and Kelly. I’m glad to see Kyle alive and growing. I’m glad to hear songs of praise born of a praise-filled life. I’m glad John is my friend. And I want you to know about it.

There you go.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Links and a short rant

First, if you haven't already (or even if you have), go here and write my brother a note of encouragement as he waits for all his cancer to go away and never come back. He's been getting lots of attention in these first few days since we got the news, but people are fickle and selfish and busy, so they might forget to keep doing it. I'm giving you the job. Don't blow it.


Second, go here to listen to what might be the best series on marriage, sex, and dating that you've ever heard. Seriously, this is some of the greatest "relationship" teaching I've heard in a while. If you don't have time for all of it, just check out the one on dating (3-30-08). You're thinking, "A series on dating? So what?" But I'm pretty sure you ain't heard nothing like this. My boy Thad (pictured below with me and our sons) puts the theological, exegetical smackdown on all the "what's the big deal?" thinking we do in Christian America. If you have kids and you wonder how you're supposed to handle this topic, you really do need to listen to this. That's all I'll say, lest I over-sell it.


By the way, why are some Christians so against topical teaching? I've heard this thing about "expositional teaching is the only RIGHT way to preach the Bible," and honestly I'm just really puzzled by it. Listen, I think expositional, verse-by-verse teaching is great. I think it's probably one of the most beneficial and "safe" ways to examine the scripture. But I don't understand why it's seen as the only right way.

If "all scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching," (and it is), then it shouldn't matter if we approach it, at times, contextually and topically, so long as we do that in the Spirit, with sobriety and caution. What if a church body is going thru something that has nothing to do with Leviticus chapter 9, but has everything to do with 1 Corinthians 4 and Matthew 18 (or whatever)? Too bad, we're studying verse by verse, and we're in Lev. 9, so we're going to ignore our people and their real-life struggles, even though there are really great passages in other sections of the Bible that speak to what the whole church is thinking about and dealing with right now. Seriously, somebody really thinks this is how we shepherd people?

That just doesn't sound like shepherding to me. It sounds like a something an uncaring professor with a lesson plan might do, but it doesn't sound much like a pastor.

There's just something really beautiful about watching the people of God closely and teaching them in direct response to the things that they are dealing with and thinking about and walking thru and living. There's something alive and interactive about saying, "many of our people seem to be at this stage of their life with Jesus, so we're going to teach them, right now, what the Bible says about that."

Or how about this:

"Lots of our people are trying to find the will of God as it relates to... dating or marriage or sex or culture or sin or money or freedom or idolatry or media or divorce or adoption or sickness or prayer or suffering or missions or church-planting, etc" (I could go on for days with the list, but you get the idea).

"So let's teach them what God says about that topic."

That would be topical teaching. I mean, I guess we could ignore the fact that many of our people -- who are voluntarily devoting themselves to our teaching and leadership, in accordance with scripture -- really want to know God's powerful, life-changing truth as it relates to areas of their real-life circumstances. I suppose we could turn a blind eye and an unlistening ear to the people whom God has entrusted to us and say, "no, what's most important is getting to the next verse in our study."

But I'd just rather deal with today's concerns today. In those moments, I'd rather teach in direct response to the current theme/concern/topic they are living in.

How, again, is this kind of thing less Spirit-led and pastoral and responsible than going thru the Bible verse by verse? How does it show a less fervent love of scripture? How does it show a less passionate affection for God's people and His Church?

Did I mention that I'm very puzzled by this?

I'm just thinking about the logic at work here. If we really think that we should only teach the Bible expositionally, then it seems to me that we shouldn't have any conferences, books, videos, or pamphlets that teach it any other way. We shouldn't have any kind of Christian media that conveys the biblical perspective on something as it relates to a certain "topic." We shouldn't have any retreats or events where anybody preaches anything in the context of a "topic;" no Sunday School classes or home groups where we study a Christian book or theme. No Christian marriage conferences, no "Experiencing God" or apologetics or "Christian Worldview"; no Beth Moore or Passion or whatever.

Verse by verse only. If that's the only right way, then it must be the only right way all the time.

Or is the Sunday morning pulpit the only place where this applies? If so, now I'm really puzzled.

In a world where people hardly know the Bible anyway, the last thing we need to be doing is telling folks that studying the Bible thoroughly, earnestly, and intensely is only righteous and profitable if they do it using the method that we approve.

In a world where Christ-followers are desperately trying to battle against the world's lies and the enemy's schemes, it seems to me that it makes sense to bring up specific topics and teach on them, in light of The Kingdom, and in the moments that bring them to that light.

Should we teach expositionally as well? Sure, when it makes sense to do so. But the moment we start exalting man-made study methods over real-life, flesh-and-blood, Spirit-led interaction and instruction in the Body of Christ, we're making a big mistake. Go ahead and teach expositionally. We at Community Church will do it as well, when/as the Spirit leads. But don't tell people that's the only way. Don't start criticizing churches and pastors for leading responsively, sensitively, and in-the-Spirit. If they're not leading in those ways, that's a different story. But we should never assume that a "topical teaching" is always reckless or man-centered. That's just too easy.

Sorry, this came out of nowhere. It's just that I've been so moved, as we've been in this topical study, by the power of scripture (there's loads and loads of it in these sermons) and what it has to say to us, and I recently came across something that implied that we're wrong for studying/teaching it this way. To put it mildly, I was a tad perturbed.

OK, am I going to get killed for this one?

Either way, go listen to that teaching.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


My friend (and long-time drummer/background singer) Andy Crawley used to point out places where he'd played drums before and call them DBR's. It stands for "Done Been Rocked." We'd just be driving down the highway and we'd pass some church building or other venue, and he'd be like "that there's a DBR." Only Andy could pull that off and not sound like a total idiot.

What does that mean for me? Oh well, it's not like I've never sounded (looked, smelled, etc) like an idiot before...

Had 4 great concerts this past weekend. Here are the basics:

Thursday in Fort Worth was great. Our old pal David “Pez” Lobban sat in with me on percussion, and he did a fantastic job. We hadn’t played together in a few years (we’re getting old, Pez), and he’d only heard most of the songs for the first time that day, but he nailed it. Pez has always been a real pro and a joy to work with, and this was no exception. There were maybe 25 people at the show, including some Aggies. Good conversations afterward. Big thanks to Aaron Finch for organizing.


Friday night was great too. Brady Redwine, The Man Who Can Play Anything, came out to join me on the dobro. Robert Conn organized the event, and I invited him to sit in on djembe for a few tunes as well. Both of them did great. Robert was nervous, I think, but he laid down the groove like a pro. It’s crazy how gracious God is to me. If I told you how much I usually “rehearse” with the various people that play with me, you’d be ashamed to be my friend. I hate practice. I just have such a low-maintenance, hippie-organic (read: lazy) approach to performance, it’s really a miracle that it always comes together the way it does. I guess it helps that I usually work with professionals and geniuses and such.

There were probably 25-30 people at the show, and nobody booed me or yelled obscenities during the slow songs.


Also, at the suggestion of pretty much everybody, we had dinner that night at Babe’s Chicken House (thanks to the Conns for picking up the tab). People kept telling me how good this place was, but I was (of course) skeptical. Well, consider me a believer. This Babe, whoever he or she is, can whip up a mean meal. Babe is to cooking what ninjas are to face-kicking. I consumed that food vigorously and entirely. Allow me to elaborate:

If I could’ve been guaranteed a shower after the meal, I’d have taken off my shirt and rubbed the cream corn on my chest in hopes that it would just sink into me like a corn-osmosis. I would've worn the chicken fried steak like a hat; an ugly but edible hat that would warm me when I'm cold and fill me when I'm hungry.

I would've drank the gravy like milk at the bottom of the cereal bowl. I would’ve had a gravy mustache and maybe the Babe’s marketing staff could’ve taken a photo of me to use on a billboard that said “Got gravy?” But there wasn’t time. I had to play a concert. So sorry, Babe’s, this little plug will have to suffice until we can nail down that billboard idea.

I liked the food there at that Babe's place. That's what I'm trying to convey here.

One more thing: Robert and Shelly Conn are some of the coolest people on the planet. Staci and I really enjoyed talking with them and sharing some life. Their son Levi worries me, and that Bobby Cates fellow is questionable, but the Conns are officially “in.” If you don’t know what “in” means, you aren’t. But fret not. I take bribes, flattery, and chicken fried steak as non-refundable “in” club deposits.

Saturday night was another winner. My in-laws Nicky and Vickie Otts were the gracious hosts. They had about as many people as they could fit in their living room: maybe 30. Brady came out again and sat in on the dobro. Man, that kid is a ridiculously good musician. I had to play louder a few times because people were starting to listen to him more than me, and Ross King will not be upstaged by any man, woman, child or beast.

No pics from that night, which is actually kind of a miracle, since I’m pretty sure my mother-in-law has pictures from every single event that has ever occurred ever. If scrapbooks ever become currency, Donald Trump will be her pool boy.

I’d like to believe that she was so enthralled by her son-in-law’s brilliance and wit that she found herself hypnotized and unable to move. Or that she felt that this was the most beautiful thing she’d ever experienced and that a photo would only cheapen it’s life-enriching vivacity.

Or maybe she just knows that I’m always a pain in the tail when she tries to take my picture, so she let me have a night off to enjoy myself.

Whatever. It was a fun night. Big thanks to my in-laws for believing in me and inviting their friends to do the same. It’s hard to express (and I’m actually talking serious talk here) how thankful I am to have married into such an amazing, generous, and loving family. I went and married their first-born daughter who is now the wife of a guy who plays concerts in living rooms. Not exactly every parent’s dream. But they have been nothing but gracious and welcoming to me these many years. Big thanks!

Sunday morning I was tired as can be, but I had one more concert to do. I drove out to Mesquite to play at a satellite campus of Lakepointe Church in Rockwall. This could’ve been a really great story, since the Mesquite campus uses a “via satellite” video feed for their sermon. But I decided not to play “Happy.” I asked Ky Martin, who invited/hosted me, if I should play it and he said, "if you do, I'd play it last." I thought that was funny. He was trying to give me freedom, but he was warning me that everyone would probably leave if I took it.

I played for a small-ish singles class and, I don’t know, once I got in there and started hanging out with the folks, I just felt like my limited time there would be better spent encouraging them. instead of subtly implying that their church is an evil empire that God will soon destroy with a meteor (I've been told that "Happy" conjures these kinds of happy thoughts, though I assure you that's not an inference that I endorse). Maybe I’m becoming a softy in my old age. Either way, it was a fun and soul-connecting concert. I really enjoyed the people, and they were kind and welcoming to me. Thanks to Ky Martin for the invite and the chance to share with your people.

All in all, a great weekend. I “sold” around 120-150 CD’s (I haven’t counted them yet), I made some decent money, and the feedback was great. Thanks again to all the hosts, organizers, etc.

Next house concerts will be in a couple weeks, when I return to PA/MD for a short tour with Michael and Ben.

Thanks to all of you who have emailed me and my family concerning my brother. I'll post updates here periodically.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


It's been a tough couple of days around here.

My brother Ken, the only person I've ever met who is almost as funny as I am, has cancer. We don't know a lot yet. We're not even sure exactly where the cancer is hiding at this point. But we aren't scared. My brother is one of God's kids. Cancer isn't. So just that right there gives my brother a serious advantage in the fight. When cancer feels alone or tired or weak, who can it call to for help? Nobody. Cancer is on its own in its evil mission to ruin people's lives. Ken, on the other hand, is not on his own. Not even close. The one and only Almighty God, Lord of the Universe and Undefeated Champ in All Battles Everywhere Forever, is Ken's ever-present help and stronghold. He will overcome and cancer will lose and be humiliated. Let's all agree on that and tell God that we believe it.

Go here to read the story, as it develops. Go here to read more about his family.

I'll continue blogging about normal stuff, because there's no point in doing otherwise.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Prayers, please

I have a post about this weekend's shows that is about 90% finished, but I can't get to it just yet. I found out today that my older brother, Ken, is facing some pretty significant health problems (possibly of the life-threatening variety). Until I talk with him a little more, I'd rather not share more info than necessary, but suffice it to say that his wife and 3 boys want their husband/daddy to be healthy, and Ken is having a tough time dealing with a lot of confusing and overwhelming data. My folks are visiting them right now, to be with their oldest son in his difficult time. You can pray for them too. If there's anything tougher than suffering, it's watching your children -- no matter how "grown up" they are -- suffer. More info when/if I can share it. Until then, you can pray for these folks if you have the time.

I'll have the show recaps in day or two.