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Welcome! The primary purpose of this blog is to explore and encourage around what it means to be winsome and sent into the world for God's glory. If you are new here, the definition of "lighthouse-searchlight" or our missional journey is a good place to start. Come peruse the blog and add me to your RSS feed!

Monday, August 29, 2016

New CD


I am excited to announce the release of The Depth of Worship, vol.1 - you can download for free on bandcamp (enter $0 when you name your price) and you can give it a listen there or in the player below. A short link for sharing is bit.ly/rmacd16

Some of these songs started more than 10 years ago; most were recorded in my first sabbatical in 2008, and I was able to finish the mixing and mastering this past summer during a second sabbatical, thanks to my wonderful congregation at Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church. (I also have about 8 new songs in the hopper... but still some work to do on them!)

Here are the liner notes, and explanation of why the project is sub-titled, "A Journey Home":

The album began as a collection of contemporized hymns, most of which are early on in the album. As original songs were added and organized, a theme emerged of journeying home. Like the father in the prodigal son parable, the songs reflect the persistent, merciful, gracious, and abundant love of God for His children, even when they are far from home. The song lyrics move from the nearness of worship at the beginning to the presence of God during the wandering, to the joyful return to a loving Father's welcome. While I hope the hymns are useful in worship, I also hope the album as a whole will offer an opportunity to reflect on God's extravagant love that welcomes even the most prodigal wanderer home.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Preview CD

I started contemporizing hymns back in the 90s. During my first sabbatical in 2009 I recorded several of my favorites along with some original music and got within spittin' distance of a full-band CD. Then I went back to my day job.  :)   I had every intention of completing the CD in a matter of weeks and to tide me over, I released an acoustic "preview" EP of five of the twelve tracks. I've given 100 or so of those away at conferences and to friends. Well, I'm winding down a second sabbatical now in 2016 and one of the things I was determined to do was to finish the first CD project.  (I was actually more like a short bus ride, medium hike, and spittin' distance away... but nonetheless am preparing to release it.) I also was able to write about 10 new songs, but that's a story for another day.

I'm going to put the CD on bandcamp.com and in order to get the hand of how that works I have uploaded the preview EP from several years ago. It's free to preview or download and there is a link below. I hope to have the full CD up by the end of June. I am listening through the masters now and working on artwork, charts, and lyrics for the bandcamp page.

We already sing a number of these at Good Shepherd and at conferences where I lead the worship music; I hope this project will enable them to find wider usage and bless the Body of Christ.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

communication and community


In this election cycle I am reminded of a post I wrote five years ago at the time of the NC Amendment One vote. I re-post it in hopes that it will encourage, challenge, and embolden those who read it and desire the best for our community and country.  

The North Carolina Amendment One vote has been on my mind and heart. My heart goes out to all who are personally grieving the outcome of the vote. I have a particular grief as well, a grief over our apparent inability or unwillingness to engage each other productively and compassionately. This was (and still is) nowhere more apparent than online, particularly on Facebook and in comments of various articles and sites. Now before you dismiss this as one more pitch for civility, here’s what I see as the grievous issue: we are fighting a war with each other and we ALL are losing!

Neither “side” on the amendment issue was exempt from this. Even the word “sides” indicates only two tribes: for or against, with the other as the enemy. My Facebook wall was plastered with descriptions of a “war on marriage” and “hateful bigots” and the like. And tragically, these were not only friends of mine, but friends of each other. It’s so easy to post a sentence, label, or ‘like’ something and not have in mind the 100, 200, or 1000 friends it goes out to. I understand that we have strong opinions and feelings, but is that really what we think of each other? What is grievous to me is that we’ve lost the sense of compassion toward the other. Particularly in the last week leading up to the vote, just about every post I saw was some form of bullying (on both sides) – brute exertions of power and force to generate a desired outcome.

“If you don’t vote ____, then you are against God!” (saw that on both sides)
“If you don’t vote ____, then you are against families!” (also saw that on both sides)
“If you don’t vote ____, I don’t ever want to speak or see you again!” (again, both sides)

And this goes out to… all our friends?

I’m not saying that strong opinion or feeling is wrong; it’s not. And I’m not saying that those who lost this vote should not be grieved or even angry; that’s human and natural. What I am saying is that if anger, force, bullying rhetoric, and political enemies are all we can muster, then it’s not going to get better for anybody. If this vote was “tyranny by the majority,” then the opposite vote in another year will be the same in the other direction.

There is a better way. It is simply this: listening and understanding the other deepens community, and that is of benefit to everyone.

I did not post my position on Facebook. What I did do was sit down with the 7-8 people who asked me what I thought and listen, ask questions, and reflect together. I’d like to think they then did the same with 7-8 friends. Some of us agreed; some of us differed; each of us learned and grew in the context of friendship and respect. 

I’ll also go so far as to say that in the context of that kind of conversation, one can actually express far more of one’s deeply held beliefs and opinions than in the kind of salvos I saw regularly on Facebook and other online forums, because if you see me coming already declaring you the enemy, you are either going to fight or run. It turns out that there are a number of complex questions that we need to wrestle with as a society. That’s not going to happen in a tweet or status message. It might happen if we sit down to listen and understand. That doesn’t require you to change your mind or your vote, but it sure helps you put yourself in the other’s shoes, and that is what builds community and a common society.

If you want to know how I voted, let me buy you a cup of coffee.

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