20 December 2009

new life

I've found my life
I've found my life

Sojourn . Amen, Amen [follow link to mp3]

07 December 2009

innocence [revisited]

Kiaya Mouer . Untitled
October 2009

I've touched on innocence before. This painting, by my 5 year old niece, led me to consider it once again. It occurs to me that the very core of innnocence has less to do with a lack of knowledge and more to do with an implicit trust in all things. For instance, its not that my niece doesn't know about violence (although she probably may not), but rather that she trusts that everyone she comes into contact with is inately good. The result is that she, in turn, is able to love others more purely than most. Certainly more than me.

For years I've tried to act out this level of trust in Jesus. And I've failed. Or maybe fallen short is the better way to characterize my feeble attempts. And I know that this kind of trust is not possible without the work of Christ and the Spirit within me. I'm just not exactly sure what that looks like on a daily basis. Or how to better cultivate it.

Actually, I think prayer and otherwise spending some quality time with Him would go a long way in fostering this; but I find it so hard to commit. It almost seems that I'm afraid to lose my life. The very life that, at times, leaves me in ill contempt of Him for the very reason that I am unable to give it all. Like every single breath. Every single step.

And I know its a process. And I know it takes a certain amount of balance.

But I'm way past that, and the reasoning that follows.

I want to hang (on the cross) with Him. I want to struggle to find the next breath. I want to give up my spirit.

Because I know I can't truly live until I do so.

27 October 2009

In The Secret

What's it been...like a month or so since I last checked in? I don't know...I have a number of posts started, but none are finished or ready to be published. I guess at one point in this blog's history I would have felt pressure to complete them and get them posted, but the Lord has freed me of that. Anyway...I've already said more than I intended to on this subject.

Kinda stumbled upon this video earlier this evening and a few chords in I realized it was exactly what I needed. Like exactly what I needed. So I spent the next few minutes in worship to the god who saved Daniel from the lions; and his friends from the furnace. The same god who gave his beloved, chosen people chance after chance to turn from their idols and honor Him as the God above all gods. The Great I AM. The same god whose love I sing about, write about and talk about; but have a very hard time trying to comprehend given the state of my heart.

I want to know You.

I want to truly and honestly know You.

That's my prayer tonight.

21 August 2009


rest[ing], originally uploaded by defythegray.

The weather was extremely active today. Crazy humid in the early morning; followed by a tremendous, mid-morning storm with driving rain and wind. Then it cooled off and the sun played around in the clouds for a time, before giving way to grayish skies again. Only to return just before sunset to say its final goodnight before resting for the day.

18 August 2009

Upon This Rock [ReBlog]

Photo by Trey Ratcliff [Stuck in Customs, Flickr]

Tim over at Fantastic Distraction has a thought-provoking piece on the foundation of the church.

Has the church lost it's way...or have we?

Join the conversation...

08 June 2009


every day

every single person we encounter

every single person

a chance to breathe life

a chance to be the very person God intended us to be

a chance to react in a way that runs counter to everything that is selfish inside us

even the slightest, most insignificant act could change the life of another

take nothing for granted


it all hangs in the balance








defy the gray

own life

26 May 2009


Really starting to feel like summertime around here. The garden is in. Had a great time hanging with family yesterday and celebrating a pretty big birthday for Angie!

And summer always has to have a soundtrack. Last year it was the Ting Tings. This year, I can't say enough about Phoenix's new album that dropped just in time to be officially dubbed as my album of the summer. Check a few tracks and then do it proper (i.e. buy the album) -- if it's your thing, of course.

Phoenix . 1901
Phoenix . Lisztomania

17 May 2009

St. Mary Church
The Sixteenth of May
Two Thousand and Nine
Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania
Nuptials of Mary Shearer & Kevin Owles

13 May 2009

Stay Sharp! (Revisited)

Given the long-term media blitz that has lead up to the release of Angels & Demons, the prequel to Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, I'm sure you know that the film premiers in theatres this Friday (May 15, 2009). So I think it's appropriate to revisit one of my posts from the archives. Obviously I haven't seen the new movie yet, but I can tell you I thought Angels & Demons was the better of the two books.

Originally posted on May 19, 2006:

The DaVinci Code opens in theatres today amidst much talk from both the Hollywood crowds (as happens with any blockbuster) and the Christian community (as happens with any blockbuster that happens to touch on the fundamentals of their faith).

Before jumping into the heart of this post, I encourage you to read a previous post of mine on the general topic of profanity and blasphemy in some of the music and literature that I consider to be among my favorites, which briefly addresses The DaVinci Code. For those of you short on time, here's the digest version: I believe that what I consume is a matter of personal conviction from the Living God based on where I'm at in my spiritual journey. As such, I'm not a big fan of blanket statements from those in authority telling all Christians across the nation to avoid a certain book or movie.

Given this, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I implore Christians leaders to refrain from supporting widespread boycotts of the film. More importantly, I plead with fellow Christians to exercise caution and avoid jumping on misinformed, judgmental bandwagons that are merely cloaked in Christianity.

Leonardo da Vinci is credited with making the following comment about maintaining mental sharpness: "Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind."

What's the state of your mind today? Exercised it lately? Or do you continue to exclusively feed at the breast of a select group of Christian leaders -- either local or national? Read Hebrews 5:13-14. I'm pretty sure that passage points to the fact that the Christian life is about personally growing in knowledge so that we can learn to choose the right path. Our lives shouldn't be about others choosing for us, and then forcing those choices on us under the guise of "proper Christian living". I sincerely believe that if you truly seek the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind, He will bless you with knowledge that will equip you to make your own life choices. Free your mind of the status quo, ask God for direction and pray for Spirit-led decisions. Stay sharp!

Oh yeah, back to The DaVinci Code...I highly recommend the novel and I'm looking forward to seeing the film -- it's fictional entertainment at its best! And don't even get me started on the topic of "protecting" non-believers from being exposed to the fictional elements portrayed in the novel/film that contradict Biblical truths. Instead, let's focus our time and energy on praying for all non-believers, including the guy who will walk into a Hindu temple tonight and discover something there that is initially alluring to his soul. Or the teenage girl who is so caught up in the lies of this world concerning beauty that she literally starves herself to be thin.

10 May 2009

Mother's Advice

Dear Mum:
You can have the note back now. I'm pretty good at ironing. I've come a long way since those days. Thanks for all the little things you've imparted to me over the years. My life is rich and full because of your love for me!


04 May 2009

09 March 2009

enjoy the silence

Photo: Robert Stadler

"I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds...Satan is quite aware of the power of silence."

I challenge you to spend the next 5 minutes in silence -- "unplug" from your electronics, turn out the lights, close the door and simply stop whatever it is you're doing -- and then just sit and bask in the silence. I think it's safe to say that God is at work even when we're not.

Somewhat adapted from Mark Driscoll's, Sound Wisdom
RELEVANT Magazine . March-April 2009

27 February 2009

Home Alone

See what happens when my wife leaves me home alone on a Friday night...I go and redesign the blog!

Earlier this week it occurred to me that I needed to update the design a bit. I knew I wanted to go with words only (i.e. no pictures) in my redesign of the header. I tweaked the dark gray background color until it was perfect (probably spent a little too much time doing that!) And then I found the font -- it was pretty close to what I had in my mind's eye -- close enough that I didn't have to troll the internets to find THE PERFECT FONT. That saved me a few hours, no doubt. So then I like played with all kinds of textures for the header, but I just keep coming back to the clean and simple look of the gray by itself.

Then I tweaked some of the background colors to better match the header. I even experimented with some oranges and blues for the sidebar colors, but again, feeling the mono vibe tonight. Oh...and I so wish Blogger allowed you to pick whatever font you wanted for the main text areas, but alas, it doesn't -- so I play within their rules.

Do you even care about any of this?

Probably not, but what can I say, I got home from work at 5pm, changed out of my work clothes and have been messing with this every since. I'm just now starting to realize that I'm a bit hungry. Must take care of that...

23 February 2009

02 February 2009

XLIII Champs!!

Congrats to the City of Pittsburgh and all my Steeler-lovin' peeps!
I still miss the 'Burgh and all you guys!

06 January 2009

08 In Sound

Odd year in music for me.

Two of my life-long favorite musicians -- Weezer and Beck -- released new albums this year, but I didn't buy either one. In fact, other than one or two Weezer songs that I stumbled upon, I didn't even take the time to look them up on the Internet. For Christmas, my wife surprised me with Jon Foreman's solo-effort best-of, Limbs and Branches, but I just didn't buy hardly any music this year.

I listened to David Crowder Band's Remedy and Jeremy Riddle's Full Attention a lot during 2008, but both were released in 2007. I also found myself gravitating to a lot of old Sufjan Stevens, in lieu of any new material from him in 2008. Dare I say it, but I honestly had to scrounge around my MP3 files to even find songs to post here. But don't click away from this page just yet...upon further review, these songs definitely deserve a listen.

As always, follow the link to the MP3 and grab them quick because the links expire in 7 days.

Alias . Crosswalks
This track is epic! Layer after layer of sound. And just full of everything I love about a really good song.

The Ting Tings . Keep Your Head
You know them from the Apple® commercial, but their entire album is chock full of quality indie-pop, with this song barely squeezing out Be The One as my favorite.

TV On The Radio . Halfway Home
This song tells of a journey, the destination of which is somewhere different for every ear that hears.

Jon Foreman . Your Love Is Strong
"[S]ongs have become my way of finding beauty in the midst of chaos and the pain. It’s a way of finding redemption for mistakes and regrets that I have." Jon definitely tapped into the beauty of life on this one...bask in it.

Mount Eerie, Julie Doiron & Fred Squire . You Swan, Go On
Short...but sweet. And that's really all I have to say about this little gem.

Lykke Li . Dance Dance Dance
Up and coming artist whose music Stereogum describes as a mix of soul, electro and "powdered-sugar pop." That works for me, I guess. I just call it "intelligent pop."

Regina Spektor . The Call
This song kinda got buried in a movie sequel that didn't exactly live up to its predecessor. Regardless, it touches a spot deep within and Regina elicits emotion with her soft voice that few can match.

Previously: 2007 In Song . Six for '06