Friday, March 29, 2013

Disdaining the Cross on Good Friday?

I tried to sleep in a bit this morning, but the usual arthritic pain in my back had me out of bed and up with my cup of coffee watching Fox & Friends. One would hope that on Good Friday—the weekend of Resurrection Day—one could see something uplifting about the hope of Jesus and the Resurrection. Although FNC is a secular network, they are typically more respectful of traditional values than their other mainstream counterparts.

Instead, I had to watch an interview with the author of the controversial book "The Shack," who tried to wax eloquent on Easter, Christ, the Resurrection, and thoroughly bungled the job in my humble opinion. I shouldn't have been surprised, since the serious theological, biblical problems with "The Shack" have been well documented by Bible-believing, Bible-preaching, biblical scholars since its release. But I still almost threw a piece of firewood through the television, especially after one line:

"The cross was not God's plan."

Excuse me? Is there perhaps a little remedial biblical education required here? The Lamb "slain from the foundation of the world" was not God's plan?!? God's redemption of His people through the willing sacrifice of His Son was in the works before creation, according to God's own Word. The death, burial and resurrection of Christ is central to the whole Christian faith. In fact, the Apostle Paul—under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—expounds at length on the resurrection, the cross and why it matters. He said if it wasn't true, then "we are of all men most to be pitied." (1 Corinthians 15:19). Let's see what God's Word has to say in even more plain, between the eyes truth:

"But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death."

That quote is from 1 Corinthians 15:12-26. It really can't be any plainer. And there are more Scriptures I can cite showing the centrality of GOD'S PLAN FROM THE BEGINNING.

Again, I shouldn't have been surprised. We are in an age of deception and judgment, and it shouldn't be any surprise that the enemy has false teachers by the score out to mess people up on the most important spiritual truth in God's Word. But it still infuriates me. False teachers will be held accountable, according to God. They'd better be afraid. Very afraid indeed.

But let me end on a more upbeat note. Those tombstones pictured above? One day, the dead in Christ will hear His voice and the sound of the trumpet, and they will rise again as Christ rose again. Resurgam! Praise His holy name!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chuck Missler on the "Emergent Church"

It's been a while since I've posted anything about the so-called "Emergent Church" movement, or updated where things are with it these days. In many ways, it seems like it's fallen off the radar screen, which is unfortunate. It hasn't gone away. It may have morphed into different forms and different names, but the ideas are still out there being pushed within evangelicalism, and it's just as deadly.

Back when I was still doing radio, I had author/researcher/teacher Chuck Missler of Koinonia House Ministries as a guest several times, usually on geopolitical issues, Israel, and biblical prophecy. In his newsletter this month, he revisits the Emergent Church and explains some of the problems with it from an orthodox Christian perspective. I am posting it below for your perusal—a good summation.



UNDERSTANDING THE EMERGENT CHURCH

Many Christians have heard of the Emergent (or Emerging) Church but have no idea what it is. In understanding the Emergent Church, it’s necessary to understand a cultural trend in Epistemology. Epistemology is a fifty-cent word meaning “the study of truth or how we learn truth”.
Through the history of man, we can discern three major trends in Epistemology: Premodernism, Modernism and Postmodernism. Each is tied to a time frame and is extremely general. There are many exceptions within each group. The focus here will be on Premodernism.
A Premodern epistemology assumes that God exists and knows everything. Our knowledge and ability to learn truth depends on divine revelation from God Himself. In other words: truth begins with God. Premodernism was the first known epistemology and lasted up until a bit after 1600 AD, during the Enlightenment period of history. René Descartes is generally attributed with the shift to Modernism.
Modernism assumes that truth can be found through the senses of man. What we can feel, see and measure becomes the focus of how truth is learned. This is where science plays a much more important role in society. Science, after all, just seeks truth through what man can observe. While an existent God is compatible with Modernism, we see the focus shift from God being the source of truth to man being the source of truth.
Modernism has lasted up until just the last few decades. Indeed a vast number of people hold to a Modernistic Epistemology but something called Postmodernism has begun to take hold over the past thirty years or so. Postmodernism is not an easy thing to define, however there are a few general trends that can be understood.
Postmodernism denies that absolute truth can be known, or even that it is desirable that it should be known. The process of learning or discovery is the important thing to postmodernity; the end point of this process should never be reached.
Jim Leffel, director of The Crossroads Project, an apologetics ministry designed to equip Christians to understand and effectively communicate in our postmodern culture, summarized the main tenants of postmodernism with these five points:
    Reality is in the mind of the beholder. Reality is what’s real to me, and I construct my own reality in my mind.
    People are not able to think independently because they are defined—“scripted”, molded—by their culture.
    We cannot judge things in another culture or in another person’s life, because our reality may be different from theirs. There is no possibility of “transculture objectivity”.
    We are moving in the direction of progress, but are arrogantly dominating nature and threatening our future.
    Nothing is ever proven, either by science, history, or any other discipline.
Postmodernism also denies that any story or written word has an absolute message. The author’s point or intent is not important, only what the reader receives has value. The written word only has meaning in how the reader interprets it. Here we can see that the focus of truth has moved from man to the individual, each who may define his own truth.
The Emergent Church can be thought of as a marriage of the Church with Postmodernism. There are many leaders in the movement, but each of them seem to share a dissatisfaction with the conservative evangelical churches from where they usually came. The stated goal is to reach the Postmodern society, but the means to this are to become Postmodern themselves. Thus absolute things such as sin, hell and judgment are not talked about. Instead members are encouraged to find God and their own truth through a number of means including many things that the evangelical Christian community (and the Bible) would call occultist.
Obviously this description does not do the movement justice. Books have been written on the various aspects of the Emergent Church.
The stated goal to reach our changing society is certainly a good one. Jesus gave the Great Commission in the end of Matthew 28. Verse 19 reads “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The next verse, though is verse 20 which starts with “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”
Verse 20 follows verse 19 by a comma; it is the method Jesus says to make disciples. Christians are not supposed to make disciples by telling people to find their own truth. Disciples are to be made by teaching them to observe all the things Jesus commanded.
Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Each person finding his own truth is not compatible with this. Jesus is the one and only truth.
Instead of becoming Postmodern to reach the Postmodern, the example of Paul should be followed in Acts 17 when encountering the philosophers in Athens. Paul didn’t become a Stoic or Epicurean; rather he understood their philosophy and spoke the gospel of Jesus Christ to them in terms they would understand.
The “emerging church” movement may urge us to concentrate on telling people about God’s love for them, but if we fail to warn them of the need to repent of their sin and believe the gospel, they will die—and God will hold us accountable for the Holy Spirit tells us in Ezekiel:
“If I should say to a certain wicked person, ‘You wicked man, you’re certainly about to die,’ but you don’t warn him to turn from his wicked behavior, he’ll die in his guilt, but I’ll seek retribution for his bloodshed from you.” (Ezekiel 33:8, ISV)




Saturday, March 23, 2013

Griffin Tucker: Encouraging Music's Future

As you no doubt notice if you've followed my blog for a while, I do deviate from theology, Bible teaching and geopolitics now and then. Earlier today, I was happy to promote the new Sweet Comfort Band album—their first since the 1980s.

Now, I'd like to help promote a young man who has been given significant musical gifts from the Lord (and yes, he is from a believing family). His name is Griffin Tucker (pictured right). Here is his Facebook page if you want to find out more about Grif and his music. 

Grif is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, and at the age of 11, is already making an impact on the music world as more people find out. My media friends out there—here's a great guest opportunity waiting for you. Seize it. You won't regret it!

Sweet Comfort Band is Back!

Christian singer Bryan Duncan has been a busy man of late, and it's a good kind of busy. You might remember that in addition to his tremendous solo music career, he was/is also the lead singer and keyboardist of Sweet Comfort Band.

After being disbanded since the 1980s outside of a few reunion shows here and there, the guys (Bryan Duncan, Randy Thomas (guitarist with the Allies), and Rick Thomson have reunited to record the new album "The Waiting is Over," pictured right. In part, it is also a memorial to SCB founder, bassist, and on-stage evangelist Kevin Thomson, who went to be with the Lord a couple of years ago. He had been a paraplegic for several years after sustaining a spinal injury.

I am hopeful the guys will have many opportunities to do concerts, and that of course will need as much help from as many as possible across the country to get churches interested (not to mention local auditoriums). Let's help get it done! You can contact Bryan's manager, Christopher Redner, via Facebook.

I also want to link you to info about Bryan's latest "Conversations" project. Please click here to see a short video from Bryan about it. You can also get on Bryan's mailing list for regular updates. He also has a special download and CD sale going, which you will no doubt want to get in on.

The new SCB album does not come out until next month, but Bryan has it available for pre-order. And what about a review? I hope he won't mind me reposting this one. It pretty well sums up what those of us who have been SCB fans through the years would expect—top notch message AND music.


Review of Sweet Comfort Band's The Waiting Is Over
by James Mileti of The Sunrise. www.thesunrisemusic.com


The worst song on this long awaited new album "The Waiting Is Over" by The Sweet Comfort Band is better than almost every current hit Christian song out there right now, and it may very well confuse and alienate nearly everyone! 

Here's why...

This album demands the long lost skill of active listening, it is not background noise. It employs active musicians who are gung-ho about actually playing their instruments and getting the most out of them that they can, which is a lot. It promotes dancing, both verbally and physically. It is produced right... very right. It doesn't chase trends, which guarantees longevity. It offers varied styles of music within the same listening experience. It mentions Jesus. It doesn't confuse you as to whether the band is singing about God or their 6th grade baseball coach. It doesn't say "You are worthy" or "Holy Holy Holy" dozens and dozens of times over and over again. There are guitar solos. There are piano solos. You want to play it on your BEST stereo system. People that buy this album will HAVE a best stereo system. It sounds current. It sounds retro. The songs actually go places musically. You won't secretly hope it ends soon. You will be proud to play it for your secular friends. It sounds like The Eagles, Hall & Oates, Maroon Five and Pablo Cruise rolled into one, and you'll be happy about that. 

I like my music with passion, enthusiasm, technical dexterity and a strong Bible based message. The new Sweet Comfort Band album offers all this wrapped in a package of great song writing and soulful vocals. They are a mature band without losing the sound that set them apart to begin with in the 70's. This new album offers an adult sound, a current sound, but still a recognizable SCB sound. You'll want to hear it again as soon as it is done and you'll find yourself saying "FINALLY" a lot. 
Finally there is a current Christian album that will be FUN to play for your secular music friends. Finally there are rich harmonies. Finally I can differentiate instruments that are not lost in an over-produced haze of sound. Finally there are some slow grooves. Finally there is an acoustic guitar solo. Finally there are a lot of intelligent Christian thoughts and concepts. Finally there are guitar hooks. Finally there are songs that wrap themselves up at the end. Finally I am proud to be a Christian musician, if I can be associated with this kind of album in any way, even if it is just writing about it! This is an example of why this band influenced my band, The Sunrise, so strongly.

This is the album the Christian music world needed right now. Let's hope it starts a trend, and shatters a few too!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Be Still My Soul (Naturally 7)

Tonight, with much of the world in turmoil, I want to leave you with the beautiful a capella voices of Naturally 7 singing a hymn that I have grown to love more and more through the years.

Listen, as the guys sing the gorgeous Be Still My Soul. It's probably the most lovely rendition I have ever heard, and only 3,000 pastors singing this (again, a capella) at the Shepherd's Conference in California came close to the power and beauty.

Anyway, listen and be blessed. And indeed, in His hands, "Be Still My Soul."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Verizon's "Gotcha Brothers" Wins

I don't often promote commercials—finding most of them irritating— but I can't help promoting this one from Verizon Wireless.

Cute, memorable, endearing. This ought to win an award. Brings back lots of fun memories for a lot of siblings over the years, I'm positive.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Kissinger on the Middle East

I have had mixed views on Henry Kissinger through the years. I have never shared the views of some on the fringes of past evangelicalism who thought he was a candidate to be the Antichrist, needless to say. (Yes, that really was the view of a few years ago) However, I have been cautious about some of Kissinger's views through the years, especially those that seemed to encourage a globalist agenda.

Having said all that, this Bloomberg News article is worth reading, and I think Kissinger is right in most of what he is saying here about the current Middle East picture. It's about time that someone of his stature made it clear that an enormous part of the Arab/Muslim population in the region has no interest in making true peace with Israel.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bloomberg Gets Slapped Down

Pardon me for expressing glee at this court development in NYC, but I just can't help it. As WSJ columnist James Taranto often tweets . . .

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Queen's Dilemma

There is a story in London's Daily Mail today that no doubt will cause a lot of concern and even grief for UK Christians—meaning Bible-believing, Bible-preaching churches and not the nominal, cultural variety. Read it here at this link. If the story is accurate, Queen Elizabeth II will soon endorse "gay rights." 

I note with interest that her aides stress that the Queen "takes no personal view" on the issue and is only endorsing the Commonwealth as does a constitutional monarch. And this is what leads me to my pondering this morning—how far can someone who sits as a "constitutional monarch" with limited powers go if said monarch is a professing Christian? There's always been an ongoing debate over what the Queen's powers actually are. On paper, they're considerable, but supposedly under convention, she always acts on the advice of the government in any act. There are a few remaining prerogative powers but she seldom exercises them. Her assent is required before any act of parliament becomes law, but Royal Assent has not been officially refused since Queen Anne in 1707. What goes on behind the scenes is a mystery.

Belgian King Badouin I a few years ago refused to give his to a bill that loosened abortion laws. But rather than have a constitutional crisis, the King allowed himself to be declared unable to act briefly, and the law then was passed without his assent. After the parliament passed the law, the King was allowed to resume his normal duties and authority.

What would I do in such a situation? Hard to say. If I was facing an issue of moral conscience, and was a true, professed believer in Christ (and I am) and if I had the constitutional authority to refuse assent, I think I'd exercise it whether anyone liked it or not, and let the chips fall where they may. I might even abdicate rather than be forced into something that would disobey the Lord or violate His Word. I do have to commend King Badouin for his public courage and refusal to sign a law that he felt violated the law of God.

I honestly don't know how Queen Elizabeth really feels about things like this. I know she is a professed believer. We need to pray for her, and for all who are in authority, as Scripture commands us.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Dallas Holm: Chain of Grace

I've always liked Dallas Holm, but in the 1990s he came out with an album called "Chain of Grace." This is the title track. Give it a listen.

Normally Dallas (at least at the time) never got that rocky in terms of style, but he wanted to deliver a taste of the 60s rock bands he liked such as The Byrds etc. "Chain of Grace" is a great song and great message. And it's true.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Bucket List: G2 Definitive Genesis


As most readers of The Seventh Sola know, Genesis is my favorite band. There are numerous tribute groups out there, and I'm glad because they're keeping the torch going now that the band itself is on hiatus, perhaps permanently.

There is one of the tribute groups I've long wanted to see—G2 Definitive Genesis. I am here linking to their website so you can check them out.

Unfortunately, they pretty much only gig in the UK or Europe. I don't think they've made it to the States yet, which would be an expensive venture. They are known for faithful reproductions of the band's most classic songs, and staging with gorgeous lighting. The website has some great photos. I even see what looks like a Shergold doubleneck bass and 12-string in there somewhere.

So, just a little shoutout to some guys who love great, innovative music, and love to play it.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Revisiting "Love"

Below is a repost of a brief comment I put up here at The Seventh Sola a few years ago about the subject of love. It's been on my mind again of late—most recently as I reflect again on the four Greek words for "love," and what they mean. Those words are "storge," "eros," "agape," and "phileo." Of all those words, "agape" is the only form of love where emotional involvement is not necessary. It's the "God" kind of love—unselfish, disinterested, and intended for the ultimate good of someone else. Here's what I said back in 2008, and the reflection is worth revisiting:

The following passage from the Gospel of Luke is well known enough. It gets quoted quite often . . . 

And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF (Luke 10:27). 

I wonder if any of us really understand the ramifications of this commandment of Scripture, and I mean in their entirety? What would be the results if we really obeyed it?

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Illinois Gun Rights Battle Goes On

(You just KNEW I'd pick a film noir photo for this post, didn't you?"

The latest on the battle for the Second Amendment in Illinois courtesy of the Freeport Journal Standard. Read with annoyance.

It frustrates me to no end how Chicago can ram its will down the throats of the rest of us in the state. The Illinois House fell just short of advancing a bill allowing concealed carry for law-abiding citizens. Opposition mostly from Chicago lawmakers and Governor Quinn is holding the bill back.

The Illinois Sheriff's Association backs the firearm freedoms of the state's citizens. Illinois State Rep. Jim Sacia is a former FBI agent, and he backs the firearm freedom of Illinois citizens. So do many other law enforcement officials. And even though the State Police are on record as opposing the bill, when you read between the lines, they are under the authority of anti-gun Governor Pat Quinn (D). I suspect if they had a pro-Second Amendment governor, their stance would reverse.

Because I was in broadcasting, I've had the privilege of knowing quite a few law enforcement officers, sheriffs, police chiefs, prosecutors etc. Some are friends to this day. And almost without exception, they back the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms.

Chicago is a shooting gallery and murder capital because of the incompetence of the city's leadership. And instead of going after the drug gangs and criminals who are the cause of the violence, they'd rather tie a noose around the necks of the people so they can't defend themselves. Typical.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Joel the "Musician"


Why this post? Because I think some might have a mistaken impression of who and what I am. I have a Facebook page and Twitter account. If you look at my "friends" list, or on my "following-followed by" list on Twitter, you'll see I have lots of musicians in there. More on that in the next paragraph. But please understand— I have NEVER identified myself as a professional musician—quite the opposite. I say openly that I am a "frustrated musician," and spare myself no expense in mocking my limited ability. But there is a method in my madness.

In the telling of my story below, my hope is to encourage younger folks who have musical inclinations to pursue those interests with all their energy, and to let nothing distract them from pursuing excellence. Because it doesn't get easier the older you get. And I am getting older. Plus, at age 52 and being a caregiver of a beloved 90-year-old Mother (who is a painting artist and frustrated because she can't paint the way she wants now), my opportunities to make music are rare. I am limited now to playing guitar once a week for staff chapel, and very occasionally, bass for the church worship team. That's it. No more, no less.

What Am I?
I am—quite honestly—a mediocre, frustrated musician. I love music. I love listening to it and playing it. There are musicians in my family and friendships—some are quite accomplished. I have many friends and acquaintances who are great musicians. If you look at my Facebook friends list and my Twitter "follower-following" lists, you will find many musicians there. Some I know personally. Some I do not know personally, but have interactions with them. No doubt, some of this is helped by my 30-plus years in broadcasting and media. I've interviewed musicians, promoted them locally, became friends with some well known and not so well known, worked at their concerts at the door, even helped as a roadie now and then when they were playing at a local venue. It's even more fun when the musician playing at a venue is a fellow roadie. True humility! But because I have musician Twitter and Facebook friends, and some personal ones, that does not make me a mogul or impresario, or virtuoso. I'm chuckling as I type this. I DO know broadcasting and broadcast promotion. I DO know PR, at least the traditional methods. The Internet and email age has me scratching my head a bit, but I am studying and learning. I have to. I am the communications manager for a Christian missionary organization that helps churches and needy people in the former communist countries where persecution of believers is severe. I need to learn all I can in this changing age about how to communicate.

Musically, What CAN I Do?

What can I do? I "play" guitar, bass, keys, percussion, kazoo, recorder, a bit of mandolin, etc, and none of them very well. I sang first tenor in college choir for two years. I did one professionally recorded song in a professional studio, but only as writer, arranger and producer. Not as performer. I have dinked around recording myself at home, but only as personal amusement and not for public consumption. My most ambitious self-recording was a version of "Nights in White Satin" by the Moody Blues. I played 12-string guitar, software drums, bass, keyboards (including Mellotron sampled violins and flutes), but no vocal track. And that was only a trial run testing new recording software. Not a serious attempt, and I lost half of it when the hard drive on the computer failed. I have yet to rebuild the tracks I lost. I have written songs and instrumentals, almost all in the Christian/spiritual vein or prog rock genre. None have been recorded. And even half of those were lost in a house fire in 2003.

Dummy me, I lived alone from 18 to 41. I could have tried to do more, but I did not, and no one to blame but me. Now do you see why I say "frustrated musician?" But where did I get the bug?

Family Music History

My late father WAS a musician, though unknown. He was born in the Arkansas Ozarks and had only an 8th grade education. He was quiet, shy, and introverted. But when he spoke, his quiet authority demanded obedience and respect. His anger was seldom expressed, but because he was so quiet, his anger was even more frightening when he did visibly become angry. He was a brilliant man who was granted excellent materials by God. Despite his limited education—necessitated by growing up in the Depression-era South where he had to help feed the family by helping on the farm/ranch—he taught himself geometry, algebra, and trigonometry. He sought and got a diploma in fixing televisions because he loved electronics. But he loved music most of all. His instruments were violin, mandolin and guitar. He was excellent by the accounts of many who heard him. He would travel across the Ozarks with other musicians and play for dances and other get-togethers. Then came World War II, and he could have been exempted because my aging grandfather needed help on the farm. But Dad had issues. He was small in stature like me, and his older brother constantly made fun of him for not "being a man." He bullied Dad mercilessly. So Dad felt he had to volunteer for the army, and he went. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge. When he came home, he was not the same according to my mother and older sisters. He put his instruments up for a long time. But on the rare occasions when he did take the instruments out, it was special. But I got to experience very little of it. He worked in a farm machinery factory, and lost a finger. He could never play the same again.

Dad always had an issue with alcohol, but it became worse over time. He slowly smoked and drank himself to death. He only took out his instruments when drunk, and when he would hit a bum note because of his lost finger, he would grimace and stop playing. Then he put the instruments back in their cases, and would retire for the night to his room. As the night wore on, we would hear him playing David Oistrach and Mozart, and other great music. And we knew that as he listened, he was probably grieving for what he was once able to do, but could do no more. My Mom and Dad divorced when I was 13 due largely to his drinking, and I inexplicably chose to stay home with Dad. Mom was the believing, practicing Christian in the couple, and she was the main one responsible (under God's sovereign guidance) for me being a believer. I told myself that I wanted to stay to win Dad to the Lord, but in truth, I think I was just scared of leaving home. He died when I was 19 of emphysema. I prayed with him on his deathbed to repent and receive Christ before he lapsed into his final coma. I pray it was sincere, and that I will see him in heaven.

Dad's Musical Legacy

I inherited his love for music. To be fair, Mom's side of the Arkansan family had bluegrass musicians as well. My Mom and uncles even recorded vinyl records of themselves singing old standards in four part harmony. My older sister got an acoustic guitar in the hippie movement, but she never messed with it much. I picked it up and taught myself to play. I messed with Dad's mandolin and violin, but never seriously. I began taking Hammond B-3 organ lessons from a neighbor lady, but had to stop after only a few months because of finances (at least that's what I remember). She got upset at me because I wanted to play by ear instead of sight read sheet music. She died a short time later, but she taught me the basics of reading music, and the power of the glorious B-3. My parents bought me one of those old cheapie Magnus chord organs where you could push a button and play the chord with your left hand, leaving your right hand open to play the keys. I typically ignored the buttons, preferring to learn the real chords.

Late teens came and a radio career. Radio came first. But I still loved music and tried to keep learning to play. But I never could stick with it to become proficient. I bought various guitars and even a synthesizer. I'd play a while, then put the instruments in the closet for months. I gave the synth away to a youth pastor. I had Ibanez, Alvarez, Gibson, and other guitars and basses. I even had a Conrad doubleneck 6 and 12-string for a while. Sold it back to its original owner. I bought a really cool Samick 5-string bass with the low B string, but then sold it a year later. I'd play for my own amusement, play at church on occasion in the worship team, then sell my instruments and not play again for eons. Then the bug would hit, and I'd have to find a guitar at all costs and play again. When the computer age came and I could record digitally, I had a whale of a time for a bit, but life and work intruded, and I stopped. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Now, I have an Ibanez acoustic 6-string, an Ovation 12-string acoustic, a BELOVED Rickenbacker 4001 bass, an M-Audio midi-keyboard, and computer sampling software which enables me to use the M-Audio keyboard. In addition to various synth, string, piano and effects, I have Mellotron software and Yahama CP-70 sampled grand electric piano. At home, I use cheap old Garage Band, but at my office, I have access to Pro-Tools, Adobe Audition and other recording programs, plus professional grade sound studios. To date, I have used those upper level facilities seldom. Their main purpose is to further the Gospel mission, and any personal recording needs to be done after hours. With my caregiver responsibilities, that's pretty much impossible as I can seldom stay late at night to record. At least for now. I say this not to complain. I am taking care of my Mom, and I can think of no higher honor or purpose. I will not have her in a nursing home. I had many years on my own and alone to do what I wanted. It was sufficient. Now I have the opportunity to serve her, and to repay her for the years she took care of me. I am thankful.

Will I ever see the day when I can forget the day by day job stuff, retire and focus on making music? Or at least learning how to actually play well? I hope so. But if it never happens, I will have no regrets because a song always lives in my heart. And before the throne of God, I will join many others in singing a new song. I think I might even be able to play well then. I can wait.

But to those of you who are young, would-be musicians now who are reading this—learn it now, and learn it well. If music is your God-given passion, pursue it and do it with excellence for His glory. Do not squander the gift you have been given, and do not use it for things that would bring Him shame. He is the ultimate author of music and the giver of the gift. Be grateful for it.

I am happy to be a friend, a cheerleader, and a prayer warrior. I am happy to be a listener and analyze with a musician's ear, a producer's ear, and a (oh, I HATE this term) fan's ear. One gift I do have is a good ear, and a gift for arrangement/production ideas. But all this is only as a side thing as a friendship gift, not a professional thing. I charge no fees, and will urge you to listen to the professionals in your lives, as long as they don't steer you into doing things that violate your God-given conscience. Fame and fortune is not worth selling your soul, and that's the best piece of advice I can give you.

Outside of that, rock on. I hope my little personal account will encourage you, and illustrate that we all have our own stories that are still being written. You are still writing yours. Make it a good one, and one that will glorify our God and Father.