Monday, March 30, 2009

The Music Monster

One of the benefits of being a musician, songwriter, producer, and worship leader is that I get to wear what I want to work and, most of the time, have control over my schedule.  
That is....until I have a deadline for a project.
Then the Music Monster devours my life.
My wife and kids forget what I look like (or that I can offer them my attention) and I disappear until I'm done.  
Fortunately, this is more of a sprint than a marathon.
Like the whale that swallowed Jonah, the Music Monster will spit me on dry land in another day or two.  
Basically...what I'm trying to say is, "sorry there isn't a post this week...."
"....I've been sitting in a belly surrounded by half eaten fish." 


Monday, March 23, 2009

Bermuda II: Agag and Lawn Envy

Back when we moved into our house the neighborhood was still under construction. 

That meant that our beautiful first home looked out on….

…thirty, muddy lots.

And a dumpster. 

But our youthful optimism would not be quelled.  No! We saw opportunity where other, less visionary types, might have seen a festering metal box of construction waste and half-eaten Taco Bell lunches.

And so, with grit and determination, I built garden paths out of the bricks we salvaged from those alters of waste. 

There was only one problem. 

No one was getting rid of gravel, sand, or rock dust.

And so, instead of using the tried and true method for building a walkway, I took those bricks and shoved them in the clay (which is all we had left after the developer had his way with our topsoil). 

That was mistake number one.

Mistake number two was using the free bricks.

You see, the bricks from the dumpsters were for building walls. 

They weren’t “pavers”. 

They had holes through the middle to let the cement bind to them better. 

Now fast-forward five years and you may be able to figure out how I spent my weekend.

I just spent two full days, on my hands and knees, pulling every brick up and removing the knotted mass of roots that had grown through all the holes.

Without being too gross, I once saw a picture (in a science textbook) of a pig’s intestine that had been blocked by parasitic worms. 

The roots really reminded me of that. 

They also reminded me that gardening is war.

I have, yet again, met General Bermuda on the battlefield. 

For those of you who remember my previous post about Bermuda grass, you’ll know that this plant is my sworn enemy. 

It’s my white whale.

It’s the Joker to my Batman.

The Capone to my Eliot Ness.

And it was those roots that had taken over my walkway.

So why, you may ask, do I still have Bermuda grass if I hate it so much?

The simple answer is “lawn envy”.

Bermuda grass fills in our lawn and, when the weather gets hot, it's a nice green color.

This hides the fact that we don’t have great grass in our yard. 

Having great grass is a mark of manliness in The South.

Not having great grass is shameful.

Just shameful.

But since I actually have work to do and can’t spend all day trimming individual blades of grass with scissors and singing “Eye Of The Tiger” to them, l allow my enemy to live in order to hide my own inadequacies. 

Now, I don’t believe that it’s a coincidence that I’m dealing with Bermuda again while, in my quite time, I’m reading about Saul.

Here was a guy who did foolish things to hide his own inadequacies...a lot.

The particular situation I’m thinking of involves a king named Agag.

You see, God had told Saul to wipe out the Amalekites but, instead, he captures Agag, their king. 


I think it was the kingly equivalent to “lawn envy”. 

King envy. 

Saul wanted to be able to parade Agag around to show everyone how powerful he was compared to the other kings.

His kingly lawn was greener and had those cool, diamond-shaped mowing lines. 

Here's the irony: that is what cost him his kingdom and his life.

He didn’t deal with Amalekites and it was an Amalekite who ended up killing him.

(Actually Saul tried to commit suicide but was dying too slowly and an Amalekite finished him off)

Often it’s the things we don’t deal with that end up coming back to haunt us. 

If we’re honest, most of us are afraid of how messy things will look.

In the case of my lawn, I have bricks everywhere.  

It looks awful.

And, were I to try and kill off the Bermuda, I would have brown, dead sections all over my lawn. 

And that’s just shameful.

So I get the roots out of my walkway where it’s inconvenient but never actually kill it all off.

Fortunately, God has not allowed me to ignore “soul Bermuda”. 

I’m still in process, but those roots are coming out.

How’s your lawn?


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Johnny Depp and Hwin

Do any of you have movie stars that you like but don’t want to like? 

I mean…do you dislike yourself, if only a little bit, for being entertained by them? 

For me the list is long, but here are a few:  Tom Cruise, Leonardo Dicaprio, and Brad Pitt.

I never go into any movie that they’re in expecting to like it.

But I almost always do. 

And I almost always dislike the fact that I do. 

One of the reasons I feel that way is because they always have too much of themselves in their roles.

I always think of them first and their character second.

all of them have graduated to such a level of fame that I can’t help but watch them and think, “mmm Brad is being very convincing as Napoleon” or, “I didn’t know Tom could do such a great Fred Astaire impression.” 

Leonardo escapes this critique, but he’s been on my black list ever since “Titanic”

One actor who continually impresses me, however, is Johnny Depp.

Even if I find myself thinking about him and not his character, it’s fleeting.

He IS Willy Wonka

He IS Jack Sparrow

And he IS Sir. James Matthew Barrie

Now, this last name might not be so familiar to you. 

Maybe it’s because it isn’t as iconic as some of his other roles.

He played Barrie straight.

No strange affectations or costumes.  

But when Laura and I saw the movie “Finding Neverland”, we were in the final five minutes of the movie when Laura shouted, “Hey!  That’s Johnny Depp!!” 

We were at home.

Not in the theater.

I kinda wish that we had been in the theater. 

It would have been a better story.

But anyway….

Ole’ Johnny was so lost in his character, that he disappeared. 

He was that way in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” too, but since only me and five other people saw that movie, I won’t talk about it. 

Plus Leonardo is in it so….

But one of the things I like about Johnny is that, while his face is always recognizable, you never see him. 

Recently I’ve been listening to The Chronicles of Narnia on CD with the kids.

We keep it in the car and so whenever we drive anywhere, we listen to the story. 

Now, I’m a big fan of Narnia.

I’ve been known to check the backs of closets looking for snowy forests.

(if you don’t know what that means….READ THE BOOKS!)

Anyway, I think I may have come across one of the most beautiful passages in the whole series the other day. 

It’s in the story “The Horse and His Boy”

I won’t tell the whole story but towards the end of the book, Hwin, a talking horse, meets Aslan, The Lion for the first time. 

“Please," she said, "you're so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I'd sooner be eaten by you then fed by anyone else.

For any of you who are familiar with The Chronicles, you will know that Aslan is Jesus. 

And so, Hwin’s words are words of devotion, worship, and total surrender. 

She’s willing to be lost in….consumed by God.

When I heard those words, I started to cry.

I cried because there was something that resonated deeply with me.

In the same way I don’t like watching actors who have too much of themselves in their roles, I don’t want to have too much of myself in my life.

I want, like Hwin the horse, to be totally consumed.

I want to be the Johnny Depp of Christendom where my life would be so characterized by God, that people would say, “Hey!  Wait!  That’s Adam.  Man…I almost didn’t recognize him.”

I want this, not in any unhealthy way, but in a Biblical way. 

You see, for once, Hollywood gives an amazing picture of Biblical paradox.

Johnny's greatness is directly linked to his ability to be consumed.  When he makes himself small and totally loses himself, that's when he's at his best.

And, much like Aslan’s response to Hwin, I believe that God’s response will be, “Joy will be yours.”


Monday, March 2, 2009

Mirror Writing

As I mentioned in previous posts, I recently led worship at a marriage retreat. 

Usually, at such events, the amount of information you receive is the brain equivalent to filling a tea cup in Niagra Falls. 

If your brain cup doesn’t get totally knocked out of your hand and shattered on the rocks below, the shear volume of the information “flow” splashes anything you might retain right out leaving you with a mere “mist” collected inside. 

That, basically, amounts to one or two things you actually remember and take home from any retreat/meeting/conference/war council. 

One of those things from this particular retreat was the whole “Pray Naked” concept, which I explained two posts ago. 

The other was mirror writing.

I’m not talking about writing backwards like Leonardo Davinci did. 

This requires a $1.50 dry erase marker and a bathroom mirror.

The idea is that you can have a place to write love notes to your spouse where they won’t miss them. 

They wash off with Windex and are read when most people feel the most insecure.

While they are noticing all the pimples, growing crow’s feet, and slowly inflating mid-line tires. 

It doesn’t have to be anything “flowery” or eloquent. 

Men, if you want to write, “You smell good”, I’m sure your wife will understand that you really mean, “Honey, you are an amazing and attractive woman whom I admire and adore.”


And so, as you have probably guessed by now, Laura and I decided to adopt mirror writing into our lives.

Our kids have even jumped in and asked us to leave notes for “mommy” or “daddy”. 

We love it.

But I noticed something the other day.

As I was trying to shave or brush my teeth or strike my best Calvin Klein model pose….I mean comb my hair…I realized that I was looking through the notes.

My eyes were focused on my own reflection, reducing the letters on the mirror to mere blurs. 

And I sensed God saying, “Adam, that’s how you approach the Scriptures sometimes.”

I share that for two reasons.

1) Because God was right and…

2) Because I think lots of people do the same thing.

I think that most of us start off OK.

We read Scripture focused on what God is trying to say to us and believing that THOSE words are true.

But somewhere along the way, we become distracted by our own beauty or flaws and slowly, those things pull into focus while the words of Truth and Life fade into the foreground.

We miss the love letter.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I’m all for self-reflection. 

But I believe we can get stuck there and miss what it is God wants to say to us, and the life He offers us.

This past Sunday at my church, we sang a song that deals with this very idea of focus.

As I sang in worship, I thought of mirror writing and The Love Letter of God, Jesus.

Here are some of the words:


O soul, are you weary and troubled?

No light in the darkness you see?

There’s light for a look at the Savior,

And life more abundant and free!


Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.