28 April 2006

Cool Hand Luke [Reviewed]

I had the amazing opportunity to see Cool Hand Luke at a small club in Lancaster last night. Although the band has undergone an extreme makeover of sorts with the guitarist and bassist leaving, the heart and soul (and founding member), Mark Nicks, continues to be the driving force behind the band. I so appreciate what Mark continues to do. The life he continues to live.

I totally remember (like it was yesterday) the first time I ever heard CHL – it was probably 3 years ago at an outdoor music festival – Purple Door. The music I heard coming from the stage immediately captured my heart – it spoke so deeply to my emotions. But what I’ll never forget is the authenticity with which Mark shared the inspiration for their music and the reason for his life – Christ Jesus. The words he spoke from the stage between songs wasn’t nice Christian banter about getting saved. There was no hint of obligation in his voice. And it wasn’t about selling records to all the cool Christian kids. He just shared his heart for a deity that cannot be proven, but exceeds all levels of scientific proof. The demonstration of a love for humanity that goes beyond all human understanding.

So back to last night...after a bit of a slow start, it seemed that Mark found his spot of worship. For the next hour, he just laid out his heart. He is such an intense performer. And it’s always focused entirely on Christ. He’s certainly not a rock star. He doesn’t even play to the audience, which kinda creates this cold and awkward feeling initially, until you realize that he’s singing to One (and One alone). At times, it almost felt like clapping for the songs interrupted his time with the Lord. But, at the same time, he was very gracious and expressed heartfelt thanks to the group of 25 or so that came out last night. He’s just an amazing example of fully and totally living a life for Christ. And I’m sure he’d be the first one to say it has nothing to do with him, but Christ working through him (and really mean it). Thanks Mark. I appreciate what you’re doing. I know it can't be easy.

As for the music -- in additon to a nice set of CHL favorites, they played two new songs last night. The first was just amazing, but I have no idea what it was called. Many different layers and levels to the song with Mark's vocals soaring. The second was a song from a guy to a girl. The guy being Jesus and the girl being someone who he might have been close to and had to say goodbye to before leaving to be with his Father. Mark was very careful in explaining that it wasn’t biblically-based. I think it was a great example of using artistic liberty in attempting to take another stab at explaining this immeasurable love we saw in Jesus. I'm excited to hear the new album!

26 April 2006


Currently Reading:
An Unstoppable Force: Daring to Become the Church God Had in Mind
by Erwin Raphael McManus
This is a book about returning the church to its early origins. It's not about growing a big church, but growing the church BIG. Highly Recommended.

Currently Listening To:
The Fires of Life . Cool Hand Luke
Another amazing album. So much feeling, so much emotion. Musically strong and layered. Lyrically sound and thought provoking. More stuff you won't hear on the radio.

Current Life Quote:
"The thing I've got to remember -- and you've got to remember -- is that God and his plans don't change just because our understanding of him rises and falls like the tides. Our outlook on life changes every day, but the one who created life is absolute." -Robin Parrish, INFUZE Magazine Editor In Chief

21 April 2006

The Journey

One of my best friends from college, Matt Hewston, and his buddy, Ryan, recently began a cross-country journey on mountain bikes! Their trip, which started in California, will take them through Texas, into Florida and then back up the East Coast to Pennsylvania, where they will head west toward Pittsburgh (Matt's hometown).

You can follow their journey here. Not only do they got tons of pics from each leg of the journey, they are also doing an audio blog, where they call in and leave a message on their progress. It's pretty cool stuff.

But the really cool thing about the trip is the personal experiences Matt is soaking in along the way. He's done a number of other journeys by bike, and it always struck me that what he took away from them was less about a sense of personal accomplishment and more about an appreciation for nature and the tons of good people that still inhabit the extremely selfish culture that is the United States. Here's a recent email I got from Matt:

This trip is allowing me to see places and meet people that I never would have! We spent Easter in Ozona, TX at a picnic hosted by Mexican-American Families. That was three days after a young couple we met brought us Pancakes to our tent for breakfast. Sounds made up, but there are some absolutely amazing people out there!!!!

This screams of hope!! Which gets me thinking, maybe the majority of people out there are truly good-hearted, and its only the truly self-centered and cold-hearted ones that make it onto TV and into popular magazines?

Why do we idolize such people in this country?

Why do we "do it to ourselves" time and time again?

Why do we ignore the path laid before us by our creator, in favor of the thorny and rocky path laid before us by man?

13 April 2006

Wounded For Humanity

He was wounded for the wrong we did;
he was crushed for the evil we did.

The punishment, which made us well, was given to him, and we are healed because of his wounds.

09 April 2006

Tears For Humanity

"I wish you knew today what would bring you peace."

"But now it is hidden from you."

07 April 2006

On Love

Then said Almitra, "Speak to us of Love."

And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them.

And with a great voice he said:

When love beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.

And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, "I am in the heart of God."

And think not you can direct the course of love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.

But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.

To know the pain of too much tenderness.

To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

-"Love" by Kahlil Gibran, from his epic poem The Prophet (1923).

-Artwork by troy., from his mixed media on canvas piece, Pondering Love (2006).

06 April 2006

What were they thinking?

Is it just me, or is Converse making some of THE ugliest shoes around these days? And at $100 a pop...are you kidding me? Converse couldn't pay me $100 to wear these things!! I'd love you know what you guys think. Hit me up with a comment. (And I know that soliciting comments is a foolproof way to ensure that no one will actually comment, but I'm willing to take that risk).