The Beautiful Compassion Of The Record Store (A Post For Record Store Day 2016)

View More: http://jbltphotography.pass.us/alexandkateA trip to the record store these days is an act of compassion. 

Sure there are plenty of new releases out on vinyl. In fact vinyl records are the fastest growing sales segment in the music industry.

But most record stores fill the majority of their shelves with vintage LPs. These are the records that get traded in by people who have no use for them anymore.

Maybe they inherited a collection from their parents or grandparents and they’re just not that into music. Or maybe they’ve played the records a million times and just aren’t into the bands anymore. Or maybe they thought vinyl died out 30 years ago.

For whatever reason they don’t see any use for the old Cat Stevens or Doobie Brothers albums. They look at vinyl records as an outdated format just taking up space in their attic.

Yet when I and other collectors come in to a record store we see the value in the classic pieces of wax. Continue reading

When Your Story Goes Up In Flames, Remember This:

IMG_5092This past weekend my wife and I got the incredible opportunity to spend some time working at Pioneer Plunge, a majestic Young Life camp in Weaverville, NC.

If you’re not familiar with it, Pioneer Plunge is unlike any other Young Life camp. Nestled high in the mountains and hidden away at the top of Windy Gap (another Young Life camp), Plunge consists of only 3 minimal cabins, a pond and a garden. There’s no electricity or amenities of any kind.

The purpose of the camp is to provide young people with a chance to live in the wilderness for a week and discover God’s calling unhindered by any distraction.

Kate and I met as Young Life leaders and look for any chance we can to give back to the ministry. We never had the chance to visit Pioneer Plunge when we were leaders so when the chance came up to participate in a Work Crew weekend at the camp we jumped at the opportunity.

Unfortunately we didn’t see the camp in all it’s glory. In August of 2014 the main cabin at Pioneer Plunge burned down in a tragic accident. No one was hurt by the fire and it was miraculously contained to just the one building. Continue reading

Let’s End It

end itLast week our box spring broke.

After standing up on the bed to pull the switch on our fan the box spring caved in on itself.

We had to laugh about it. We’ve had a nice string of bad luck since getting married. Our shower curtain keeps falling off the wall. Our toaster oven exploded. We can’t seem to catch a break.

Really though, our problems are small in comparison with one of the greatest problems the world faces today: slavery. Continue reading

What It Takes To Win An Oscar

mashable.com

mashable.com

This Sunday night hundreds of nominees will sit inside a Hollywood theater anxiously awaiting to hear their name read. For if a presenter opens an envelope and does shout out their name it means they’ll be taking home the most important prize in the movie business – an Oscar.

For weeks and weeks the actors and writers and producers and directors nominated have been endlessly campaigning to win the golden statue.

Ads have been taken out in magazines and papers. Billboards have been plastered across Hollywood. Talk shows have been littered with performers on their best behavior trying to impress the voting audience.

But when the Academy Awards begin this Sunday there will be nothing anyone can do to alter their fate. Continue reading

The #1 Trick To Getting More Treats

FullSizeRender-6Want to know the #1 trick to getting more treats?

Here it is: Don’t expect them to come for free.

Sure – you can get some decent treats in life for free. A miniature Kit Kat is nothing to scoff at.

But if you just go out asking for treats, no one in their right mind is going to give you a King Size candy bar for free.

If you want the biggest and best treats in life you have to pay for them.  Continue reading

What Garth Brooks Taught Me In Concert

FullSizeRenderWithout a doubt the CD I’ve listened to the most in my lifetime is “Double Live” by Garth Brooks. 

There is something magical about this album to me. Garth Brooks’ songbook was the soundtrack to my childhood. Growing up in Tennessee and Georgia I was raised on 90s country music. And Garth’s music was the gold standard.

“Double Live” collected all of Garth’s greatest hits across a 2 disc live set. So to begin with every song was a winner. Add in the raucous live crowd that Garth drew to his incredible live performances and you have the makings for an amazing album.

I listened to that CD on my headphones in the backseat of so many family car trips. I blasted it on the boom box in my room. I’ve rocked out to it with the windows down in every car I’ve ever driven.

Those opening chords of “Callin’ Baton Rouge” on disc one stir up a special feeling in my soul no other album does.

So there weren’t a lot of surprises when my fiancé and I saw Garth Brooks this weekend in Atlanta as part of his first world tour in over 12 years.

I knew when all the solos would be. I knew when Garth would stop singing and let the audience sing the words to “Unanswered Prayers”. I knew to expect the mysterious 3rd verse for “Friends In Low Places”.

Yet as many times as I’ve listened to Garth Brooks live on CD, there was something so incredibly different about seeing Garth Brooks live and in person.  Continue reading

Why I Don’t Like The Taste Of Communion

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

I was always nervous about Communion Sunday growing up. 

When I was young I wasn’t sure if I should take a cracker from the plate or keep passing it down the aisle. Sure, I was hungry, but was I really allowed to “come to the table” as the pastor would say?

Then, once I did feel comfortable participating, I became nervous about spilling the juice. What if I soiled the carpet in God’s living room with Jesus’s blood?

Communion never meant much more than anxiety to me growing up. I never really got the relationship between a flavorless cracker, a baby shot glass of grape juice, and the immense sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

I thought to myself, “If the life Jesus offers is so full and abundant, why is this remembrance and celebration so stale and bland?” Continue reading

Snow Day Blues

IMG_1927Every Snow Day must end.

As kids (and sometimes as adults) we pray each winter for the conditions to be just right for a glorious interruption of our daily routine, even if only for a day.

Of course, if the wintry flakes of wonder could fall on the right day, that would be even better. The day of the big test, or the big presentation, or whatever day you may be dreading.

Then, every few years (if you’re lucky), the special day comes. The weather reports turn out right.  You wake up to the sight of snow on the ground and iced over roads and the best news anyone could ever get: school and work are cancelled.

But a Snow Day is not the solution to your problem. Continue reading

POP GOD POPcast: Episode 12 – Jeff Owen of Tenth Avenue North

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Welcome to Episode 12 of the POP GOD POPcast – an exploration into the lives of people seeking God in the present tense.

This week’s guest is Jeff Owen. Jeff is the Dove Award Winning guitarist from Tenth Avenue North, the band behind songs like “By Your Side” and “Healing Begins”. Jeff and Tenth Avenue North are currently touring all across the country as part of Winter Jam and will be hitting Augusta on February 13. Jeff takes a few minutes off from the tour to chat about his early influences, dealing with success, life on the road, the latest Tenth Avenue North album, and Fraggle Rock. Enjoy this deeper look inside the life of a musician truly seeking God in the present tense.

Listen to the podcast here:

Subscribe and download on iTunes

Listen on Podbean

Find out more about Jeff and Tenth Avenue North and purchase their latest album at tenthavenuenorth.com

Find out more about the Winter Jam Tour at jamtour.com

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, rate it, leave a comment, listen to all the other episodes, share it on Twitter and Facebook and anywhere else. I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.

I’m so excited to open up POP GOD and share more stories of people seeking God in the present tense. I’d love to hear your feedback. Leave me a comment and let me know how to improve things, what you’d like to hear discussed, and give me your ideas as to who you’d like to see on the POPcast.

The_Struggle_Tenth_Avenue_North

The Conspiracy Of Hope

denver.post.kennedy.assassination.croppedI fell down the rabbit hole. Like many others this week, I became fascinated by the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination.

The JFK killing appears to be a once in a lifetime time type event – one that only could have happened at a certain point in history where there was not enough media saturation to find out the truth but just enough media saturation to create the controversy and conspiracies which continue on some 50 years and counting down the road.

One podcast I listened to featured one of my favorite authors Chuck Klosterman giving his analysis on the conspiracy theories. Klosterman made an interesting point on conspiracies in general.

Klosterman hypothesized that conspiracies are often more comforting to believe than the more probable truth. He said believing that a few people somehow orchestrated a catastrophic event is more comforting than believing all things happen by chance. If we simply believe all the events of life are random and by chance, that can be even scarier than thinking a secret society or some evil mastermind acted outside of normalcy.

I think Klosterman is spot on. In fact, I’ll take his theory one step further. I think conspiracies can be more comforting than believing God is actually in control.  Continue reading