The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Month: November, 2018

#30SongChallenge – Day 5

DAY 5:  A Song That Reminds You of Someone

Artist:  Heywood Banks

Song:  “Toast”

Album:  Picky Picky

When I was 17, I attended a weekend retreat called Chrysalis. The weekend was a whirlwind, and 16 years later, I still think back often to the friends that I made over the weekend, the subsequent “flights” in years after. Enter Nathan Bayless.

Thanks to Nathan’s masterful utilization of elevated voice in celebratory timbre, the song “Toast” became ingrained in my brain. Over the years of flights, the song “Toast” became an unofficial ritual; and while I was asked on quite a few occasions in the years after to help lead the rollicking number, no one could perform it with quite the flair of Nathan.

So every time I hear this little diddy, my first thoughts are usually to him.

Nathan, wherever you are and whatever you are doing, know that I still think about you from time to time, my friend.

#30SongChallenge – Day 4

DAY 4:  A Song That Makes You Sad

Artist:  Bayside

Song:  “They Looked Like Strong Hands”

Album:  Acoustic

There is something about knowing the back story on a song that helps give the song an additional layer of emotion. “They Looked Like Strong Hands” is an example of one of those songs for me. The original version -with electric guitars and drums blazing- comes off of Bayside’s self-titled sophomore album. That was how I first heard this song. Loud, heavy, energetic. But after Bayside’s drummer died in an accident, the band recorded a collection of their songs performed on two acoustic guitars; this song is one of the ones they chose.

This version of the song brings out a different emotional dynamic. Also, the fact that the acoustic version was recorded in honor of a friend having died makes it hit even harder.

Sometimes, when I am feeling excessive amounts of stress, anxiety, or depression, I will put this song on because it makes me feel as if I’m listening to someone talk about the same stuff I am feeling and then some. It makes me feel sad but then starts to make me feel better.

#30SongChallenge – Day 3

DAY 3:  A Song That Makes You Happy

Artist:  Sonseed

Song:  “Jesus Is a Friend of Mine”

Album:  First Fruit / Jesus Is a Friend of Mine

I’m a sucker for a catchy tune. Listen to this song and then tell me “thank you” later.

#30SongChallenge – Day 2

Day 2:  Your Least Favorite Song

Artist:  Jamie Grace

Song:  “Hold Me”

Album:  One Song at a Time

Alright! I am two days in on a 30 day challenge, I haven’t skipped a day, and I am feeling good…well…mostly. But that’s a different talk for a different time.

Today’s song is one that on its own, I cannot stand. The only reason I even provide a link to the video is so that if you haven’t heard it, you can. But this song is also fitting with a bigger issue I have with a lot of the music labeled as “Christian.” That problem is actually articulated if I share a few of the comments for this video:

-@WarriorWolfeh:  “So many people don’t know that they’re singing about God’s arms holding them and not a lover…”

-@Katie Weakley- “So my non Christian friends heard this and thought it was a love song and when I told them it wasn’t they became Christians it’s so cool” (at least she remembered the apostrophe on ‘it’s’)

-@Yes- “i love how everybody thought this was a genuine love song and listened to it not knowing it was christian”

I think you get the idea. These “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs seem to paint faith and the Christian life as glib, inauthentic, equivalent to what happens in a Hallmark film. I do not believe that was Jamie Grace’s intent with this song; I believe that she wrote this song from an authentic place of excitement. I am not judging her, only sharing the perceptions I have for this song. And while I do not care for this song, it strikes me as a stand-in for an entire genre classification of CCM tune.

#30SongChallenge- Song 1


A friend posted on social media that he was starting a “30 Day Song Challenge.” The list he is using is shared below:


I like the list but want to take it a step further and turn it into a reflection exercise. Music is an integral part of my life, so I will be using this list as the framework for 30 posts related to 30 songs. To that end, I will be writing about 30 songs with the goal of being done before the end of the year; I am not guaranteeing it will be a “one song per day” sort of thing; there might be a day or two between songs sometimes.

DAY 1:  Your Favorite Song

Artist:  Dashboard Confessional

Song:  “Screaming Infidelities”

Album:  The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most

My parents raised me on a steady diet of Christian rock. Dc Talk, Petra, Audio Adrenaline, and Newsboys filled the headphones of my Walkman and Discman continually. While this “too worldly” music was not on the metaphorical approved music list from the leaders of the church in which I grew up, my parents figured it was probably better for me than some of the other music choices I could have been listening to. The music was okay, but at 15 years old, my mind was on friends, school, the fact that I didn’t quite fit in, and girls (this was only complicated by the previous item on this list). Enter emo music.

I remember where I was when I first heard “Screaming Infidelities.” I was walking through the local Target with my friend Nathan after we had gone to see a movie at Eastside 10. I was walking towards Nintendo 64 display when the music video for “Screaming Infidelities” started playing on the row of T.V.s in the electronics department. The emotion behind the voice of the singer caught me from the first words and I detoured my route to the CDs to find this album by this band I had never heard of. That was $8.99 (on sale) very well spent.

Little did I know that this album would end up being a gateway disc to a much broader world of music that seemed to fly under the mainstream radar. Reading up on Dashboard Confessional’s lead singer informed me that he also sang in a band called Further Seems Forever. It turns out, the local store where my parents went to buy me music was where I could also special order Further Seems Forever’s The Moon is Down, the album on which Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional sang. Reading the liner jacket for The Moon is Down referenced Luti-Kriss (a.k.a. The Almighty Norma Jean), Juliana Theory (r.i.p.), and Saves the Day. Juliana Theory’s Emotion is Dead brought me to Zao (the lead singer Juliana Theory’s former band), Project 86, Dead Poetic, Anberlin, and a host of others.

Looking back, it actually startles me how important a part Dashboard Confessional has played in my musical life. Without this introduction to emo music, I would not have been aware to the scene which would bring me my favorite band of all time Brand New (r.i.p.???) or any of the bands connected to them. Or bands like American Football. Or groups coming out from Victory Records like Hawthorne Heights, Silverstein, The Forecast, etc.

While Dashboard Confessional and The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most would become a significant event for me in the long run, the immediate impact of “Screaming Infidelities” and the other songs on that album cannot be overlooked. For the boy who couldn’t connect with a girl and get her to like me, The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most was a collection of 10 songs about unrequited love architected to hit the listener in the feels. This music spoke to me in a way that CCM would never be able to. Plus, for being so simple, the acoustic guitar work throughout the album is so stinkin’ good.

So with that, I leave you this:

Looking ahead to next year.

I’ll keep this brief.

I enjoy reviewing and blogging about books. It is a great hobby and I think I’ll keep doing it next year. But in looking at the content I published this year, most of it was reviews and not much other content.

While I will continue to to do it, that will not be my focus for next year. Next year, I will be on a regular publishing schedule, honing my chops (excuse the cliche) as I work on my first book. I’m going to use this blog as a place to practice or work out thoughts.

I will also be using this a lot more for typing up and sharing sermon ideas, as I continue the journey into church ministry.

2019 is going to be epic.

Review: The Spirit-Filled Life Bible

This is a review of The Spirit-Filled Life Bible, Third Edition from Thomas Nelson.


Photo courtesy of Amazon.

As far as study Bibles go, I am not the biggest fan of them, necessarily. When I sit down to read the Bible, too much extra stuff on the page can distract me easily and before too long, whatever I read that was trying to get in can slip from my mind as I am reading the footnotes, maps and graphics, etc. And the Spirit-Filled Life Bible has a lot of extra stuff on the page; but it works. Really well.

As a study Bible, the key features come in handy in helping come to a deeper understanding of what is “going on” in the text of Scripture, as well as providing practical applications:

-Word Wealth: Interspersed throughout the Bible are different words which have been “word studied,” and provided are their original language, meaning, contextual meaning and comments, as well as Strong’s number to go with it.

-Kingdom Dynamics: Various contributors have written series of articles on different topics related to Scripture complete with applications or comments for further study. At the end of each one of these sections is a chain reference to the previous reference on the topic and the next. Added to this edition are contributors such as Robert Morris and Mike Bickle, amongst others.

-Praying the Word: Also, throughout this study Bible are short prayers after impacting verses that can help guide the reader who is looking toward a more devotional than academic approach to reading.

-Truth in Action: Each book of the Bible is categorized by key themes, and the editors provide markers to help the reader identify themes clearly.

Also, the articles in the back are a solid additional source of additional learning on Biblical topics related to salvation, the Second Coming, the place of suffering, etc.

I previously reviewed one of these Bibles in the New Living Translation, but I have to admit that there is something about the language of the New King James Version that just seems more appropriate for the Spirit Filled Life Bible. This edition is worth the time to pick up, study, and read for oneself in how to best walk the Spirit-filled life.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for reviewing it; I was not obligated to publish a positive review. The opinions expressed are solely my own.

Why I did 300 push-ups yesterday.

Yesterday, my eighth graders had work which would take them an entire 70-minute class period. And they still wouldn’t be done with the task.

Fourteen-year-old kids have trouble valuing a long-term goal because they cannot effectively process the notion of delayed gratification.

I had a student yesterday who I challenged to do 10 push-ups every five minutes with me.

We had fun doing it.

And when other learners saw we were having fun and knew the goal that my student and I were shooting for, they joined in.

Suddenly they had a goal that they could realistically see accomplishing.

And they moved their focus towards waiting for the five-minute timer to go off.

And in the meantime they did the assigned work because it gave them something to do while waiting.

And at the end of the period, even my students who usually do nothing got a significant amount of work accomplished. And they also did 150 push-ups.

And then my afternoon class found out what they morning class did and wanted to do the same thing. So I joined them.

They also accomplished a lot and did 150 push-ups.

That is how I ended up doing 300 push-ups in one school day.