Dove Awards or Carp Awards

I just took a look at one of my frequented sites blog.worship.com. Anyway, they had the breakdown of all the 2008 Dove Award winners. I shouldn't have been, but I was shocked at some of the winners. There are two notables that baffled me and I just wanted to mention them here. The winners in question were Song of the Year and Worship Song of the Year.

First up, Song of the Year was won by none other than Christian music super group/wannabe preachers (have you read their lyrics....good sermons, not so great songs) Casting Crowns with their smash hit/nonsensical and ever-so-confusing "East to West". Oh man, have I ever mentioned how much that song bugs me. I know I know...the underlying meaning, the heart behind it, etc. etc......but man that song...seriously seriously! They also won Christian Group of the Year, which I am totally fine with, if they now consider that award the Christian Group Who Uses (read as Abuses) the Art Medium of Music to Preach. (It's at this point that I want to make it clear to those of you now doubting my salvation that I am not against preaching, or the message....and I'm not totally against music with a Christian message..just not so sure that we're doing art and music justice when we overstate our points in mediocre-at-best packaging to an audience who is most likely already convinced....especially when we use would-be-tired-if-they-actually-made-sense cliches...again I understand the east is to the west reference, it's the comparison that seems incongruent. All I'm really asking for, from myself and others, is a little bit of artistic integrity).

The second winner which left me with furrowed brow and tilted head (try it...you'll see what I mean) was the winner of Worship Song of the Year. The winner....."How Great is Our God". We'll overlook the fact that a song won an award (does the song have hands to accept the award, a mouth to say thanks, a list of song-friends to thank?!?! Just asking!)and get to the main question. Isn't this song like 5 years old? To correct myself, the song came out in 2004 and is considered the most popular worship song in the whole world by CCLI. What you may not realize is that this song already won Worship Song of the Year in 2006. (I wonder if the 2008 song thanked itself --the 2006 version of course-- for this honor and success?!?!)So my question to the Dove Awards (the entire collection of trophies preferably) is what does a song have to do to STOP winning an award? I mean how long can this song....and by the way, I think it is a great song....great for corporate worship, lyrically sound, singable, decent music....how long can it continue to win? I mean, if "How Great is Our God" continues to win best worship song, what's to keep "Good Ol' Gospel Ship" (huh? Can someone PLEASE tell me what this song means!??!??!) or "Old Time Religion" (cough...heresy..cough cough) from winning the Southern Gospel Song of the Year 2008? In my mind, if you're going to allow a four year old song to win, you're gonna have to go ahead and consider a 54 year old song to win. And I'm just guessing that if you were to consider the aforementioned Southern Gospel songs, you would have no choice but to a)pick one of them and b) curl up in a bawl, cover your ears, and sing the ever-more-comforting chorus of "Momma Sang Bass Daddy Sang Tenor" until you fall fast asleep. At least that's what I would do. But I digress.

One final note.....the Dove's did give proper...props to some great music, most notably Glory Revealed, tobymac, and of course VeggieTales Music (not kidding).
So without further ado, I'd like to give an honorary Dove Award to you, the Dove Awards, for honoring the best, preachiest, confusing, and oldest songs in the debatable (perhaps tired, not worth it, and perhaps not nearly as bad as I make it out to be) Christian music genre.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to recommend....or not recommend a book I am reading. I am not sure whether or not to really recommend this for a couple of reasons. The first being that I am not completely done with it, so it could take a horrible turn before I finish. The other reason is that this book is causing me to have more questions about things that I already had questions about (and if you've read any of my previous posts, you realize that the theme of my life is becoming QUESTIONS!). So I'll say this, if you already have some questions or discontentment specifically with the Church as we now know it, then this book will only stir your questions. So you may NOT want to read it.....though discontentment and questions aren't necessarily bad.

So what is this book that has so upset the Matt-ian apple cart? It's called Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna. It is quite honestly a history book, which automatically sounds completely boring, but it is presented in a really easy-to-read fashion. The premise is that the Church of today not only doesn't look like the first century Acts 2 church, but it even more looks like a smorgasborg (a word that is way underused for the record....I'm actually really excited that I just used it!!!) of Pagan religions that preceded it. Viola is a big proponent for what he calls "organic" or house churches. He uses history to support his beef with the institutionalized church, and it is obvious he has a bone to pick. Though the material is quite unbiased, it is still really interesting to see the progression (or regression I guess is how Viola sees it) of what we practice today.

I really wish some of you, my faithful readers and friends (I'm looking at you DAD and Josh!!!), would read this book so I could discuss it with you. What I am not doing with it is drinking this guys kool-aid. I try to read everything with a balanced perspective (as best I can, wading through my own personal biases.) What I am trying to do is allow this to stretch and challenge my thinking. My honest desire here....and by here I mean in life....is to honor God. I don't say that in some self-righteous vain....I really mean it. Right now, the biggest question for me for the church, and for my life, is "Is this really what God designed? Is this really the way things should look? Does this really honor Him?" Pagan Christianity forces this issue.

So run right out and grab yourself a copy of the book....or don't and stay content in your safe, sanitary little bubble world of unchallenged thought and wasted life while the dangers and wonders of a vibrant, exhilarating, and close spiritual walk with Christ pass you by leaving you with nothing but pointless ritualistic traditionalism and meaningless, empty religion.......just kidding...no really....I'm pretty sure THIS book doesn't carry that much weight.. ..but it is challenging.....the Bible....now there's a book that could do all the aforementioned transformations!

Next post....we'll go for something fun..or funny....or both...try to get away from all the seriousness...it's just to heavy sometimes!!

Concert Report Plus

I just got back from a Switchfoot/Athlete concert in Huntsville. I went because I really wanted to see Emery who was supposed to play, but apparently the lead singer was really sick, so they didn’t play. I like Switchfoot pretty good….and Athlete was really amazing. The lead singer for Athlete is a great writer. All in all, the concert was mediocre I’d say, in part because while I really like listening to live music, I do not enjoy it nearly as much when I am surrounded by a bunch of 12-year-olds (funny how being out of student ministry has changed my view of students!). The concert was highly publicized by the Huntsville Christian radio station, which means there was a huge church-youth-group turnout. I felt pretty old. But I am glad I went!

Then on the way home I was in need of some good music, so I pulled out an older record I had not listened to in a while. It was by a band called twothiryeight. It was a refreshing listen. One line I particularly like from them is from a song whose name I do not know, but is about debt and materialism. The chorus says “In the miry stench of growing debt/ the deep dark secrets of the family are kept” but that’s not the line I liked the most…my favorite line is “credit is a whore who won’t wake up and leave/and believe me I’m not sleeping with her anymore” It’s a bit of a brash and perhaps crude statement, but makes a really great point about getting and staying out of debt, especially given our desire to be debt free!!

Speaking of prostitution (now there’s a conversational transition I bet you don’t use often), we sang a song in church this morning called “God of This City”. It’s a great song, and has a great back-story that deals with prostitution. I’ll spare you the details, but will tell you that I spent about 5 minutes of the worship set talking to my congregation about brothels, houses of ill-repute and “places where prostitutes do their business.” (Couldn’t come up with anything better!) I’m convinced that this is at least one subject that grabs people’s attention, especially in the squeaky-clean confines of the local church. I can bet if they didn’t remember one other thing from church today, they remembered that we talked about prostitutes.

Back to the record….they also have another song, whose name I also do not know, with a line that says “I’m totally deprived, buried alive, I couldn’t help myself to save my life.” In context, he’s asking God for guidance and wisdom, all the while admitting his total inadequacies and God’s sovereignty…in not so many words. Funny (or not so much) how that subject within said church usually flies over people’s heads without a second thought.

In completely unrelated news, there is a site that you all must check out. Stuff White People Like is a hilarious blog that I've just stumbled on. Their most recent update is a really funny one. I won't endorse all of the content, but the satirical look at white people is both hilarious and most often pretty accurate.

Ok well pardon my randomness tonight, it’s been a bit of a long day….and I have lots on my mind! Hope everyone has a grand week!

I Invented the Question Mark!

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about the lessons I have learned. The list of 10 or so things represent some of the concrete truths and tricks that I have been afforded the opportunity of grasping thus far in this journey called life. I am thankful, for it seems that those lessons, along with a handful of others that didn’t make said list symbolize the tangible, understandable, and rational part of life.
But I must admit, and have probably mentioned before, that the fraction of what I know and understand about life is very small for me.

Yep, let’s say that the average life consists of 10 percent. How much do I understand? 1 and ½ percent. The rest is filled with issues and questions that for the most part absolutely baffle me (please tell me you caught the Tommy Boy reference there…otherwise the whole 10% thing isn’t nearly as effective).
So in a tribute to all things completely not understandable in this life (at least not as yet) here is a sampling of the top questions present in my life at this…..present…time….presented in list form!

1) What’s next? For some unfortunate reason I always feel the need to look ahead, to know (or try to know) what the future holds. Sometimes it’d be nice to sit back and enjoy the present, but NOOOOO! I’d rather concern myself with something that is completely unforeseeable and virtually uncontrollable!

2) Will I ever make music like I want to? I myself am tired of this question. Of course the question has evolved over time. It used to be “will I ever play music again.” Now that I’m leading worship, I just ask, “Will I ever play music like I want to again?” It’s an annoying question! Makes me feel much like an ingrate! However, there is this writer inside of me dying to burst out and exercise his preverbal artistic voice!

3) How much wood COULD a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood? (that’s harder to type than you think!!)

4) What is this Church thing really supposed to look like? I feel pretty certain that we haven’t quite arrived yet with our current version of church. I’m even more afraid that we’re going the opposite way of what we’re supposed to. Now how do make a course correction and go back to God’s original plan and intent? (oops that’s two questions in one…oh well….it’s my blog…I can do that if I want…can’t I?…oh man that’s three!!)

5) Could we really exercise enough patience to become millionaires? I’ve been listening to and reading Dave Ramsey a lot lately and he has me convinced that we can do this. And literally, we are just a few baby steps away from putting ourselves in a good position to do this in the future. I mean it will take years (so don’t go thinking you should be asking me for a loan or something!). But the real question is can we live like no one else now so we can one day live like no one else. It seems like a great idea to me!

6) Is America going to make it? I suppose I have let the media really give me a gloom and doom outlook on the future of our country. Or maybe we really are headed for our great downfall. In any case, I sense an increasingly strong amount of instability across our nation politically, economically, spiritually, and otherwisely and I wonder what we can and are going to do. A follow-up question to that one is what country is most appealing so I’ll know where to move when it all breaks loose!

7) Am I doing a good job? I am a constant self-evaluator, and have found this question to be one of the hardest to answer!

8) What’s she thinking? If I were to get the answer to this one, I could quickly cash in and answer my number 5 question!

9) When will life throw us a curve or when will tragedy strike? This will seem like a bit of a morbid thought, but up to this point my life has been way too good and way too easy. Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful, and I pray for God’s continued blessing and protection. However, I never want to think that I am immune to tragedy, and I just half expect it to hit at any point. Not that I want it to, and not that I live in a state of fear or anxiety about it. I just don’t want to be completely blindsided by it if and when it does come. Anytime I hear of someone whose dealing with a sudden lose or unexpected disaster, I think to myself “that could just as easily be me one day!” Jesus even said that "in this life you will have many troubles".I think it’s a healthy tension I live with…to some degree.

10) If I could learn to break dance, would I do it and why? I just have a vision of me, 1985, a sidewalk, a flattened cardboard box, a nice red leather jacket,a giant boom box and one crazy break dance battle.

And one to grow on……

11) Is a cat’s purring voluntary or involuntary? And does it mean they are happy, sad, angry, or indifferent? (I’m gonna go with indifferent….that seems to be the general feeling…except when there is something new in the floor….then it is indifferent-curiosity). And can they control the volume or do they purposely purr extremely loud when they hover over you at 3 a.m. while you are trying to sleep? Ok this one is getting out of hand.

Literally this list could go on and on. It seems I have way more questions than answers. However, I expect life to be that way. If ever a point in my life comes where I think I’ve got it all figured out, then I must be doing something wrong. I am convinced that a life devoted to following this wonderful-yet- mysterious God as best as possible means a life with many questions. And I think I’m ok with that.

We had a great weekend this past weekend. If you check out any of my blog links to the right side of this page here, then you know already that Josh, Clay, Heath and I spent the weekend together playing at a Disciple Now, and just hanging out. It was a really great weekend and I am always thankful to hang out with people whom I don't feel compelled to add value to, and who hopefully don't feel compelled to add value to me. By that I mean that we all except each other for who we are, and we aren't trying to change each other, lead each other, teach each other, and the like. This may be an unfamiliar type of relationship for those of you who aren't in ministry, however my guess is this is a common approach for anybody in any type of business or work that has to deal with people. Ok, I've typed myself into a corner so let me explain.

You see, often times in ministry, a minister will have friends from church. However, because of the nature of the relationship, the friendship can only go so far. I'm not saying this is right, or is the way it should be, I am just saying that it is. It can be for a plethera of reasons, from both sides. Perhaps the minister feels that too much inside information, or too much self-revelation could potentially damage the ability to lead that person as a congregant. Or perhaps the congregant/friend feels that if the minister finds out too much about his/her life then the minister will condemn them. In any case there is a friendship there that usually stays at arms length. It's one of the downsides of ministry that in my mind I want to overcome as best I can. I suspect that this can happen at any workplace.

Anyway, back to my friends....so I feel like we have relationships with these couples that way transcends those aformentioned barriers. Josh and Clay and Heath are so honest and so real...and it's not just in a haphazard way. You can tell they really approach life thoughtfully and humbly, and above all they fear God (fear here = respect, love, honor). It is so refreshing to be around them. Furthermore we laugh and poke fun....it just feels like Karen and I can let loose when we are around them. Not that we intentionally don't when we are around people from church.....it's just that it happens...you know what I mean?

Well anyway, all that to say that it was a really relaxing weekend for us, and Karen and I were so glad to have friends in our home once more. And to top it all of, Josh, Clay, Heath and I got to enjoy what I think each of us would call our passions...playing music. And that, my friends, is why my friends are better than your friends! Because not only are they a pleasure to be around, but they are also emminsly talented such that we can go to a place a play for people and they don't just walk out on us! It really is quite great.

One minor problem with the weekend, we don't have another one scheduled yet! So anybody need a band for...anything?!?!?!?

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