Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December's Song of the Month

"Sweet Treats At Christmastime"

I wrote this song in December of 2008. This inspiration hit me as our YWAM team was preparing to go down to 9th Street. The first line in the song is directly from a prayer Jimmy prayed before we took off. He said something like "God, help us experience you in sweet treats at Christmastime together on the street." I wrote most of this song on the way to 9th St. in the van and the rest of it down there.

This is a snap shot of our work on 9th Street. We have some treats and coffee, we have some chairs, we have us. We go, we sit, we listen. Some of the people have changed but it's still what we do. As I look back, I am humbled and dumbfounded at the miracles our simple, little cafe on the street has experienced. It has all happened, with God's help, through the beauty of friendship.

If you're reading this on facebook or if you want to download for your computer or MP3 player and/or subscribe to future posts with itunes, CLICK HERE for the podcast site

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Top 10 indicators that Youth With A Mission, Modesto is way more female than it used to be:

#10 - team members now wonder if I’ve noticed their new hair highlights

#9 - If you serve team members coffee, it’s best to have fancy creamers like “French Vanilla” available.

#8 - Coded language like “BF” and “BFF” is used way more frequently.

#7 - Team members are already planning a staff party to watch the royal wedding in April.

#6 - Everything kind of smells better.

#5 - There is much more giggling.

#4 - Amie actually shows up to meetings.

#3 - Conversation could be incredibly deep one minute and in an instant, “Jersey Shore”.

#2 - Public burping (among other functions) are at an all time low.

And the #1 indicator that Youth With A Mission, Modesto is way more female than it used to be...

We actually think through the details!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Fairy tales and the Soul of YWAM Modesto

I was reading last night in "Blue Like Jazz" by Don Miller (I know, everybody read this 5 years ago) in his chapter on community. He says that he always assumed his life story was about him. I guess there's a way that we all kind of do this. We see ourselves as the star of our own little show. It's easy enough to live this way, our eyes are literally the eyes through which we see the world.

I woke up this morning thinking about stories. Have you noticed, in many imaginative stories (fairy tales, fantasies and the like), the plot boils down to a group of three? If you read literary critics much smarter than me, they would explain that a lot of imaginative stories work with what is know as the "soul tryptic", three characters that represent the soul...body, mind and heart (or spirit).

In the Harry Potter stories, Harry is the heart, Hermione is the mind and Ron is the body (always eating!). In The Lord of The Rings, Frodo is the heart, Sam is mind and Gollum is the body (" catch a fish so juicy SWEET!"). In Percy Jackson, Percy is the heart, Annabeth is the mind and Grover is definitely the body (always hungry!). Dorothy's quest is aided by three who are looking for a heart, a brain and physical courage. After being made aware of this, it's fun to look for. There's Trinity, Morpheus and Neo; Gayle, Peeta and Katniss; Luke, Leia and Han and Peter, James and John!

The "mind" and "body" in these kinds of stories exist to help the "heart" find it's goal or accomplish his or her task that usually involves saving the world from a great evil.

I have been a part of a beautiful working tryptic for the last few years in YWAM Modesto. People would refer to Jimmy, Aaron and I as "the guys" or "the YWAM guys" and they meant the three of us. Even though Amie, Kelly, all our kids and John and Rhiannon have all been with us to varying degrees, we three have been seen (for good or for ill) as the core of our work here.

And like any short sighted person may do, I have assumed for my self the role of "the heart" of this story I'm living. It's been easy to do. Of the three, we were here first. It's the only reason I was given the role of "director". I've been hailed as the leader, the pioneer.

If I'm the heart, then Jimmy is for sure the body. He has always pushed me to my physical limits. From learning how to build things to getting in better shape to actually pushing me up a mountain, Jimmy has been a great challenge and encouragement to me. And Aaron is most definitely the mind that has served me. He has helped me think a better way more times than I can count. He has handed me book after book and sat with me through many dark hours to help me see things more clearly.

But as the Sustars have left for Thailand and Aaron took off today for a Sabbatical year away in Canada and who knows where else and after I read what Don Miller wrote about assuming you were the star of your own show and after pondering this idea of the tryptic while in the shower today, I'm changing my mind.

What if Jimmy was the heart? His passion has pushed us to try things we would have never thought of. Jimmy has picked up the banner of love for the most vulnerable and run with it straight to Thailand. His and Kelly's obedience has been heartbreaking and beautiful to be a part of. If Jimmy is the heart then Aaron is his body. Aaron has been there to reassure, go along and serve, and be a true under-girding in regards to Thailand. Aaron has been Jimmy's traveling companion there and will be the one to show up way more than I will to support and encourage. That makes me the mind. Jimmy bounces things off of me. My role in his life has been to listen...sometimes to give advise but mostly to let Jimmy hear himself think and figure things out. Yep, Jimmy might be the heart.

Or maybe Aaron was the heart? The way he has supported struggling people has, in a way, been the soul of who we are together. His unrelenting hope for lives who many would say are hopeless and his willingness to fight for a better day has been the drive for much of what we have done together. If Aaron is the heart, then Jimmy has been the mind, faithfully cutting through fogginess and uncertainty to get to the heart of the matter for Aaron. And if Jimmy is the mind, I am surely the body for Aaron. I often ride along to help be eyes, to push us physically into a new spaces, I suggest places to eat and ways to be with people.

Looking at it this way, it seems we all carry a piece of a bigger heart and we can all serve that heart in others in a great variety of ways. Jesus is the heart, His Spirit gives us his mind and we are his body working his will in the world. We can all be these things for one another according to the natural gifts we carry and the specific grace God gives us for the circumstances we face.

And of course, you realize these things as you get far down the road and look back. Our little fellowship has made some wrong turns, we've not seen the whole picture, we have not been a perfect team. But that's not ever the point of any story. As long as the Heart is served by His friends, even through missteps and short sightedness, the world gets saved, evil is pushed back, sacrifices are made and light is shed in the darkness.

Amie and my kids and Aaron and Jimmy and Kelly and Dave and my Church and my friends and my extended family and supporters and countless others have faithfully served my heart, so much more than I deserve. I hope I have served them too. I can only pray for the grace to notice ways that I can be a physical presence, a listening ear, a comfort, a strong shoulder, offer a clearer perspective, a prayer of faith, encouragement and stubborn hope that a new day will come.

"But now faith, hope, love abide these three; but the greatest of these is love."

May our lives be marked not by great deeds and accomplishments, but by great love. Love for God, each other, and the broken world around us.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

10 boys and Giving Thanks

We've been doing a monthly event with the Club Awesome kids and this month was all about Thanksgiving. We gather the kids, play games and do special projects together. This month, after telling the story of Squanto, we made some makeshift Native American head pieces.

Then we watched the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special...

...and ate a Snoopy style Thanksgiving dinner complete with toast, popcorn, jelly beans and pretzels!

Awesome having Alexa and Julie coming out to help lead...

And after some basketball,

We assumed the "thankful" position, which Aaron says is with your legs out, head back and hands behind your head...kinda looking up wistfully.

We gave thanks for food, Jesus, friends, popcorn, basketball, hot chocolate and our time together. A great day!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

November's song of the month - Burning Bushes (Live)

Well, here you go folks, it's November's song of the month. This is a new song I shared at my 40th birthday concert on November 4th at my church. This was a surprise party...I learned about it as it was announced at church 4 days before the event. It was great fun and one of the best birthday presents I have ever received.

I was thinking to post the whole concert but it's 45 minutes long and that would considerably affect the quality of audio I could post. If you want the whole thing, let me know and maybe I can get you one in the mail.

You can listen right here by clicking the player or if you're reading on facebook and/or want to download, subscribe to future posts or whatever, go to our podcast site -

No explanation needed here...I tell the song's story right there in the track. Enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

At a soup kitchen in Winnipeg.

It was the second dusting of snow last week in Winnipeg. The YWAM Discipleship Training School students and I went to the soup kitchen to talk to folks and help out as best we could. Some of us cleaned up tables, some of us made coffee. The building was quite full. This was the only "game in town" as it was Remembrance Day. 300 plus people filed in to get a warm meal and a warm spot for a few minutes over lunch.

A volunteer and a "client" were talking. The volunteer was a middle aged man (a bigger man wearing plain but newer clothes) talking to the other who was homeless with that kind of classic homeless look. His beard and hair were overgrown, his clothes were a bit weathered.

The two spoke to one another for about 20 minutes and the last bit went something like this.

"I just want to encourage you that if God is calling you to something, you can do it and it's not a hardship. Obedience brings a blessing."

"Yeah, I know. It's hard for me to trust God with all of it."

"Just yield to him and he'll meet you in your obedience."

"Thanks, I kinda needed to hear that today."

"I'll pray for you. God has good things in store for you. You have something special bubbling up from a contagious joy. God's going to use you, I know it."

"Thank you"

"Can I just pray for you right now?"

"Uh, sure, I can use all I can get!"

And I let this homeless brother pray over me one of the simplest, most beautiful blessings I have ever received. Roy blessed me in Jesus name, recommended some good books to me and encouraged me with a timely word. What do you do with that? Say thanks. I want to be like Roy.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Chiara House

I (Chris) am in Winnipeg this week teaching on evangelism at YWAM's Justice Discipleship Training School. This team is attempting some ground breaking stuff. Not only are they a part of our international mission, they are an intentional community in a needy part of the city. Not just that but they have also partnered with a regional Mennonite denomination to plant and facilitate a church here in their neighborhood called Little Flowers Community. And now, not only that but they are attempting, as a small determined congregation (with lots of partnership from other churches), to open a community building to provide affordable housing and supportive connection in their neighborhood.

This is Chiara House (you can read more about it HERE). Like "Little Flowers" which is a reference to St. Francis and the community that formed around God's work in his life, "Chiara" is the Italian form of "Claire" who was an intricate part of Francis' story. It also happens to mean "clear" or "bright".

I got to walk through it's nine apartments today with Jamie and the others on the board and listen in on the dream for this place. I got the feeling like I was peeking in on a great story in the works. Speaking of work... needs a little. But I think these guys, with a few miracles (the ordinary and extra-ordinary kind), are up to it. Pray for Jamie and Kim, the little congregation here and all the pieces that have to come together to make Chiara House a reality. Here's a little video. And if you're reading this on facebook, go here to watch...

Chiara House from Camps with Meaning on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rushin' Horror

A four minute film by Chris and Josh. If you're reading on face book, you can watch the movie HERE.

Rushin' Horror from Chris Whitler on Vimeo.

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Haunted House

This is a slightly revised re-post of a submission I made over at the Hog's Head (dot org) this week.

The house where I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky felt Gothic. Friends would be amazed when they finally came over for the first time. My Dad collected antiques and was a bit of an eccentric. We had a fountain in the dining room. One of the walls had golden velvet wallpaper. There was an old chair that had rope across the arms to let people know that it was just for looks. You know, like a museum. Our bathtub had brass claws.

Going back there now it seems so small and normal. My Dad doesn’t live there anymore and the house has been sold to a pretty regular family. The walls are now beige.

The house is old and southern. It looks a bit like the one in “The Amityville Horror”. It has a face. The stairs creaked. When I was a kid, the shadows lengthened on the dark walls from candles in large black stands that used to adorn the altar of an old church. Dad would put on a robe at night and go lighting candles while chanting monks sang from the record player. Faces from antiquity peered down at you from oil paintings: Moses, the lawgiver, Jesus on the cross, Mary being assumed to heaven surrounded by cherubs.

The backyard was long and overgrown back to an alleyway. A grape arbor covered the sidewalk past a large statue (who I now think must have been Artemis the Huntress) in an unkempt garden. The leaves of the Magnolia tree clicked in Autumn wind. It was my job to take the garbage out. I remember being so scarred of that statue as I carried the trash out late at night. I imagined her turning her head toward me ala Ray Harryhousen and chasing me. I would run back to the house in a panic, all but feeling her breath on my neck.

For a while, my bedroom was in the basement. Half storage for Dad’s old stuff, half my room. Statues and old things sat cockeyed in boxes just beyond a curtain. Shadows played in that place and when the gas furnace turned on it roared and had a fiery face that lit up with blue flame. This was a scary place to be a kid.

We watched “Psycho” once as a family downstairs and halfway through the film, Dad disappeared for awhile. The electrical set up of this house was still very old and my sister’s room had a peculiarity about it. When you flipped the switch on, the light would flicker for a bit until it was all the way on. Dad reappeared for the end of the movie and kinda smiled as he wished us goodnight.

We heard a scream a few minutes later as my sister flicked her peculiar switch and found an old mannequin with a shawl and a wig in a rocking chair sitting with it’s back toward her in the flickering light.

Dad told us that when he and Mom were first moving in they were cleaning and getting the place ready. He remembered cleaning on hands and knees on the front porch and feeling a presence watching him. Out of his peripheral vision, he could see the shape of a woman looking down on him from the dining room window above. He thought my Mom was trying to creep him out for a joke so he didn’t give her the satisfaction of looking right at her or reacting. Minutes later, my Mom pulled up in her car. She hadn’t been home.

He told us that he never saw the woman again and was sure that this apparition meant us no harm. My Dad loved a good, scary story and a good practical joke. His antics and eccentricity is there in me now with my kids. Ghost or no, there was definitely a Spirit that haunted our house that made my childhood home a great place to remember.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Canalien Invasion or What We Did With The Canadians

October is our time to have our friends down from Stanley Park church in Kitchener, Ontario in Canada. Here's a few pics in no certain order...

We went to the taco trucks

We made some food

We served it to some kids

We played with some kids

We made some chili

We ate it with our friends on S 9th St.

We went to the taco BUS.

We saw some big trees.

We happened upon a dead whale.

Really...that's a dead blue whale...85 ft. long!

We went to church.

We had coffee with friends on 9th Street.

We went to a Bigfoot museum.

Yes, a big foot museum.

We went to Knights Ferry.

We made pancakes.

We even made very special pancakes.

We ate them with friends on South 9th Street.

A great week with good friends.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"He descended into hell"

We've been going through the Apostle's Creed line by line with our youth group and this line's lot fell to me (oh happy day). If you are unfamiliar with the Apostle's Creed, it's one of the oldest in Christendom (so old we don't know who wrote it) and has been for our non-denominational church, the bible affirming creed we look to for our understanding of Christian belief. It says...

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended into hell.

The third day He arose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.


Here are my notes and a little song I shared with the kids last week...

“He descended into Hell”

What goes up must come...? God’s kingdom is always backwards.

In our experience, it’s first come, first served.
In God’s Kingdom, the last will be first and the first will be last

The world, if you want to be the greatest, you fight and claw your way to the top (reality tv, survivor, the apprentice)
God’s Kingdom, the greatest among you will be the servant of all

In our world, to have it all, you have to take it while you can.
In God’s kingdom, to find life, you have to lose it

In our reality, when you die, you’re dead and you’re buried or cremated
In God’s Kingdom, when you die, you live. To go up, you gotta go down.

Jesus hinted at his future journey into hell when he taught his followers that he would give them the sign of Jonah. What is the story of Jonah?

Jonah jumped into the sea in order to follow God and save his fellow sailors. And the Bible says that God caused a great fish to swallow Jonah and he was in the fish’s belly for 3 days and nights.

Jesus went to the cross, not because of his disobedience but because of ours. He jumped into the sea for us. And he spent 3 days and nights physically in the grave and the Bible teaches that during that 3 days, he journeyed to hell itself and preached to all who were captive there.

There are hints of it all through the old testament but explicitly in 1 Peter...

1 Peter 3:18 - 20

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago

1 Peter 4:1- 6

1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles--when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

So yes, we believe in Satan (the devil) and we believe in hell (a place of punishment for Satan and all the rebellious spirits, human and angelic)

We do not believe this out of fear. Hell is not a place where Satan is King and God is Lord of heaven...Hell is a place where Satan gets punished. It is his prison and for all those who have chosen to follow him.

We do not fear hell. Jesus has been there and is Lord of it. He preached to the physically dead who were there and led the captives out of it’s prison. Jesus descended into hell because he loves people.

What does that mean to us?

It means Jesus is willing to go into the scariest places of all in order to save us and see us free. It means that there is someone who is willing to sacrifice everything and journey to the deepest places there are to see you live in love.

He created the earth and people because of love

He came from heaven to earth because of love

He lived with the sick, the poor and the ordinary because of love

He went to the cross, because of love

He descended into hell because of love

And the good news is that when life is lived for love...what goes down, must come up!

If you're reading on facebook, you can watch and listen HERE.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


A short film by Josh Whitler about our...uh...cats.

If you read our blog on facebook, you need to GLONK HERE to see the video

Cats from Chris Whitler on Vimeo.

Friday, October 22, 2010


A Spidie-Sense fable by A. Alford, T. Nelson and C. Whitler
Based on true events

The Famous Hollywood Star wants nothing but his breakfast. He likes this place. The food reminds him of another time. Another place. When life was simpler. Comfort food at its finest. So when the old man called up and wanted to talk shop, the Famous Hollywood Star recommended his favorite breakfast place.

He could usually eat in peace. Of course everyone there knows who he is. After all, he is a Famous Hollywood Star. But most people recognize that Famous Hollywood Stars like a peaceful breakfast like everyone else. He often frequents this place and it is usually no big deal.

Today, however, is no day for no big deals.

Chris, Aaron and Terry are basking in the glow of their one night stand in Los Angeles. Chris had remembered the breakfast place on a previous visit and told the guys about it.

“It’s the best!” Chris had said. “Their grits make me cry like a baby woman.”

If there was one thing Chris did know about, it was food. So, they all thought it would be the perfect end to a great visit before Terry has to catch his flight back to Canada.

The boys enter the old fashioned cafe, full of hopes and expectations for their chicken and waffle experience.

As fate would have it, Terry has a minor problem. His cellphone is about to die and he needs to charge it. Explaining his situation to the helpful hostess, she leads the guys to a patio area, near the only available power outlet in the restaurant, fatefully seating them right beside Famous Hollywood Star and his older table mate.

Terry, a slender, well dressed video professional, exchanges a knowing glance with Aaron, his heavily bearded Canadian compatriot. They know the score.

Chris, a large, noisy and silly man, sits down facing Famous Hollywood Star. The older African American gentleman, wearing a vest with a tag on the back that reads “Judge Joe Brown”, sits with his back toward Chris.

Chris is immediately flustered by the possibility in front of him.

“Is...that...him?!” he mouthes/whispers/says for all to hear.

Aaron tries to get Chris to calm down. Chris thinks Aaron is being too nonchalant about the celebrity in front of them. “No! We have to say something! We have friends that watch this guy everyday! We need to at least get a picture!”

“Everyday? Who? Don’t you think he just wants to eat in peace?” says Aaron through his dictator beard.

“Celebrity comes with a price!” says Chris, “he knew what he was getting into.”

“Who are you talking about?” says Aaron.

Chris hisses feverishly. “Judge... Joe... BROWN!”

The old man isn’t Judge Joe Brown. Chris doesn’t even know who Famous Hollywood Star is. Terry and Aaron cooly fill Chris in.

“Oooooooh...” says Chris as the light dawns. “Then what do we do?”

Terry had already formulated a plan.

“We play it cool” says Terry, the most experienced in meeting famous hollywood stars. “Don’t look over there. Take it easy.”

Chris tries to settle himself, although it’s hard to not watch Famous Hollywood Star eat his eggs, grits, fried chicken, waffle and sausage in his pristine track suit and his (now for Chris) unmistakeable, striking, usually-on-the-big-screen face. But he knows he needs to follow Terry’s lead.

“Here’s what we do” says Terry, “We talk a little louder than usual but just amongst ourselves...”

Aaron is now nodding, knowing exactly where Terry is headed. Chris has a vacant look on his face.

“We mention all of his famous movies in conversation to let him know we know who he is, capice?” Aaron is tracking. Chris pretends by making a face that says “Gotcha.”

“Hey Aaron” says Terry a little louder than normal.

“Yes, Terry?” says Aaron enthusiastically.

“As you well know, I am flying later today.”

“Yes, Terry, I know that full well.”

“Well, I don’t like to be first on the plane, nor do I like to board toward the end. I’m more comfortable getting on somewhere in the middle. I hope today I'm... oh... say... PASSENGER 57 or so.” says Terry.

Famous Hollywood Star continues to talk to his friend and eat his fine food.

“Well, that’s nice” says Aaron “I hope your plane doesn’t fly into the DROP ZONE.”

Chris is confused.

“Oh I’m sure we won’t.” says Terry, “I’m confident our plane will be as secure as the RISING SUN”

“Right you are.” says Aaron, “Say, is that coffee at the BOILING POINT? I like it hot. Like it was at this sweet little diner in New York. That coffee was the best. Definitely BROOKLYN’S FINEST.”

“Yes,” says Terry, “The coffee’s just right, but it does need some SUGAR. Maybe a mound of it. A SUGAR HILL, if needs must.”

This seals the deal for Chris. He decides to jump in. “Hey guys, do you like those courtroom TV shows?”

“It’s not Judge Joe Brown,” Aaron exasperatingly whispers. “But Chris,” proclaims Aaron, “do be a dear and hand me that BLADE, I want to PLAY IT TO THE BONE with this piece of chicken.”

A dawning realization comes to Chris’s confused mind, and his head makes an exaggerated nod as he hands a butter knife to Aaron.

“Do you want BLADE 2, Terry?” says Chris. He’s so happy to be in on the game.

“No thank-you, friend,” says Terry, “not even a BLADE TRINITY or fifty US MARSHALS could ZIGZAG this UNDISPUTED, UNSTOPPABLE breakfast from its path to my mouth. That chicken and waffle’s about to face the DEMOLITION MAN!”

Famous Hollywood Star is not acknowledging the conversation as he takes down another fluffy bite of waffle.

“Well that certainly is NEW, JACK. CITY dining is always the best, I find,” says Aaron.

“Funny you should mention that, Aaron.” states Terry. “This fine eating establishment reminds me of a story. My friend Julie took us out for dim sum last week. I was a bit nervous about the whole ordeal seeing as I had to endure chicken feet and other shady, off-putting dishes the first time I'd tried it. But, based on the confident recommendation by our gracious host, I really took TO WONG FOO. ‘THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, JULIE NEWMAR!’ is what I told her.”

Their cleverness has overwhelmed Chris with excitement, and he feels he is about to explode. I, too, am clever! thinks Chris. I too shall cleverly insert films into my dialogue!

“Oh yeah...well...MURDER AT” Chris stammeringly interrupts. He breathes heavily, “WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP with MO BETTER BLUES especially if they have...JUNGLE FEVER!”


Terry and Aaron know the gig is up. Their boisterous friend has once again ruined everything. There’s only one thing left to do. Slowly, they rise from their seats, and Chris follows. It’s time to reveal, finally, that they know who it is that’s been enjoying chicken and waffles and grits and eggs and coffee.

Three outstretched, pointed fingers point toward Famous Hollywood Star, as together the owners of said fingers proclaim...


Wesley Snipes ignores them.

And as the Famous Hollywood Wesley Snipes fingers one last bit of fried chicken skin from his plate, he doesn’t even notice the wormhole that tears open the fabric of reality behind the three morons, carrying them away to another universe where they can never bother him again.

The chicken is that good.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October Song of the Month

Well here she is and it's pretty self explanatory. I wrote this song after Stella spontaneously sang the hook line of the chorus while happily anticipating October.

Oddly enough, this month contains Amie's favorite holiday. She loves costumes, (of course) candy, and being out in the neighborhood. It reminds her of more innocent times. She dreams about pumpkin patches and fake spider webs all the way through September!

A small caveat...I know this can be a bit of a touchy subject and I'm not actually wanting to open up a discussion about that here. Might I suggest a great post from Jason Gray over at the Rabbit Room website (HERE) where plenty of great discussion is happening this week.

So, mostly for Amie but also for you....enjoy! (If you're reading on facebook and wanna listen or if you would like to download or subscribe to future audio, GLONK HERE)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jesus is coming soon.

"Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants!” - Luke 12

I’ve always seen these scriptures as references to the ultimate “second coming” of Christ but as I read it today, I see it through the lens of “the now and not yet”. Yes, Christ will come again ultimately (if not globally in our lifetime, for sure at the hour of our death) but he will also come to us today in unexpected ways.

He told us that he is the hungry person, he is the thirsty, he needs clothes, he is the sick one, he is the stranger, he is the one in prison. Am I ready at a moments notice to receive him? Even if it happens in the second or third watch of the night?

Lord, help us be ready and awake when you come today, tomorrow and at the end. Give us eyes that see and ears that hear.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Patronage: An idea whose time has come...again.

It used to be that artists were supported by wealthy patrons who helped them exist for the pure pleasure of the artist bringing good things into the world. I'm sure there was some kind of social status associated with being a patron of the arts as well. The world has changed quite a bit. While I know there are a few patrons out there in the classic sense and there are still opportunities for "artists in residence" at some institutions, this concept has been swallowed up into a more commercial model. That is, corporations investing in artists that they deem will be profitable in terms of product sales.

The bottom line drives corporations to only invest in product that will have the broadest appeal, playing to the lowest common denominator across as much of the buying population as possible. This is why most of our popular culture is quite simple. It is made for quick attention and flash sale. It ultimately has little staying power. Every now and again, some story, song or show slips through the cracks and changes the game for everyone. Then the corporations of big media go to work to try to reproduce other things that play off why that "slip through the cracks" thing was so popular. And we get a kind of copy cat culture. Artists and creators are not free to just create good things for the sake of it. Art and creativity become just another quick consumable item with little depth.

But there are alternatives. We know deep down that the function of art in culture is quite important. Music, story and visual art is part of what it means to be human. It is deeply connected to how we interpret and deal with the world, our lives, fears, celebration and pain. And there are new (old) ways that we can help good creativity come into the world.

One way is that we can be creative. We can learn an instrument, sing together, go see local artists, draw things, and write stories and songs. And we can look for local ways to enjoy these things. The internet and social media is also a way to share creativity. It's been helpful to me, but I am guilty of leaning too much on the digital age and forgetting to sit around a fire with some friends and just sing. You are in some way creative and to not develop it, even on the level of a hobby, is robbing you and us of something good.

And, on the scale of broader culture, there is a new type of patronage cropping up all over the place. These are a few I know about on the web with some exciting implications. I can only participate in one or two of them but that is the beauty of this new democratic patronage. It is we the people who decide what's important to us and have new opportunities to support, even with a little that we have, new good works.

Blue Like Jazz the Movie - I don't know if you've heard but there has been a big push lately for patrons to step up and save the production of the film version of Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller. The people came forward and actually have done it! After calling it quits from lack of funding, Blue Like Jazz the movie goes into production this month because of ordinary patrons that felt this is an important story to tell in our culture. Read about it at Don Miller's blog HERE.

Fiddler's Green
- I loved the book The Fiddler's Gun by A.S. Peterson (read my review here). I was able to buy it from him at a concert last year. He has written the conclusion, Fiddler's Green, which will come out later this year and is looking for patrons to help finish the publishing process. Check it out HERE.

Slugs and Bugs Christmas - Some of the best kids music I've ever heard is on an album called Slugs and Bugs and Lullabies. Randall Goodgame is looking for patrons to help him with a Slugs and Bugs Christmas album. Find out about Slugs and Bugs and the Christmas opportunity HERE.

Noisetrade - Also, Derek Webb and friends have a great website idea to help you find out about new music. It's at You can get music and "tip" the artist with what you can afford!

Adoption! - I have a good friend that has provided an opportunities for supporters to help he and his wife adopt a baby! You can find out about that at HERE! Talk about helping new, good things come into the world! Of course, in all of this, don't forget to support your church and other good works beyond the specific creative arts. There is so much good out there that we can participate in with our time, talent and resources.

And finally, if you care, there is a great 4 part series at the Rabbit Room website about artists and money and why it's all important and how we can be a part of it. I cried by the end of all of these entries. You can find them HERE.

So be creative and support good creativity! Do you know about any other patronage projects out there? Let us know in the comments.