Saturday, January 28, 2006

Estes Park Recap

Well, you have to come down from every mountain top. However most don't have to come as far down as New Orleans. Though I could have used several more days in Colorado, it's good to be back below sea-level again.

This was my third time of going up to Estes Park for the anual worship leaders retreat. An awesome time all around. Ben Davis went with me for his first time up there. It was cool having him in on the action. Of all the conferences and church things I go to this is my favorite. Of course I'd probably dig a beenie baby convention if it was held in Estes Park. The philosophy of the retreat is simply of worship and community as the highest priority. We had one speaker for one night - Brian Doerksen, who spoke an incredible word on the final evening. Other than that we did a lot of worship and a lot of small group time. We also had a great deal of time to just hang out. Time which we used on one day to go snow-shoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park. Though Estes usually atracts a huge crowd in the summer it is quite beautiful in the winter. The day we went snow-shoeing we may have seen a total of 7 or 8 other people the whole time. The view up there is breath-taking. It kind of makes you feel stupid even trying to take a picture of it because you know it will fall so short of the way you experienced it. But hopefully I'll have some pics for you soon. Any way it was a super-cool retreat and continues to be one of the highlights of each year that I go.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hey From Estes Park

Well it's that time of year again. I'm in Estes Park for the anual Vineyard worship leaders retreat. Great day so far. I knocked out a few episodes of 24 (2nd season) on the plane. Then me and some of the other worship leaders got some lunch outside of Boulder before checking in at Estes Park. I'm feeling relaxed already. It'd been agreat time so far. Tonight after the first session me and Ben Davis, Nathan Anderson, and Ben Kenedy hung out helping each other with songwriting. It's late but I'm not too tired yet for some reason. it may be the Starbucks I had at 6:00. Well I'll have more updates and maybe some pics tomorrow.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Lamp or Flashlight?

Just some ponderings here:

in the book of Matthew verses 14-16 Jesus said,
14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

I think much of Christianity in America in recent years has been more concerned with being a flashlight than a lamp. We want to focus our light on political and moral causes at the expense of the rest of the room. A flashlight can be a good thing when the power goes out but the words of Jesus call us to the type of ambient light which fills the room that lights up like a city on a hill. This is hardly the flashlight type of light. This is the ambient light that comes not from focused efforts but from every day living. When we engage in flashlight spirituality we only light up the things we are aiming for while everything behind and beside us remains dark. But lamp-light spirituality is the type that give light to everything around it. Whenever our Christianity becomes simply about a cause or political persuasion we have limited our expression in a very narrow and unatural way. Soon we begin gathering with other flashlights until we've become a whole group of flashlights shining at the same thing. This is hardly the way our lord intended us to live. Our spirituality should touch every aspect of our lives - conversations, work, ethics, mercy, etc... Often it feels much better (at least to our egos) to engage in flashlight Christianity - revealing the wrongs of the world or showing others the standard to which we should live. Being a lamp seems less "spiritual" most of the time, but it counts big time.

Well these are some random thoughts for now... My next post will hopefully be from Colorado.


Friday, January 20, 2006

Round 2 - El Crispino

Well the long day of barbeque is over and it looks like I won this round. If it is possible to get burned out on smoked briskets then I must be treading awfully close to that threshold. I think this was my best batch of briskets yet. I tried a few new techniques that seemed to pay off.

This is a good time of year for smokout and burnout though being that I will be going to Estes Park, Colorado on Monday for a worship leaders retreat. This will be my third year of going to this retreat and I am really looking forward to it. As much as I like cooking I'm starting to get a bit smoked out and burned out. So a good few days away ought to have me back on track.

I will keep the blog updated during the week to make those of you in the south jealous.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

truth, music, food, repeat...

A friend of mine, Steve (From Boise) emailed me some comments about my blog that I thought were interesting:

"I haven't been reading your blog for very
long, but I'm beginning to see a pattern.
Truth, music, food, Truth, music, food. I think your on to something."

So in keeping with the unintentional formula I will give a very serious food update. Today I am in a barbeque cookoff against "Texas" Doug Anderson in the smoked brisket category and competing against Teaxas Doug and Iowa Phil Schisler (sp) in the Pork Tenderloin Category. This is going to be a hard one. Doug won round one the other day and today we are both at it so I'll need all your prayers to take down this worthy barbeque advisary. The judges: a team from Coumbus Ohio and various other by-standards.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"Resource" People

I recently aquired the Eugene Peterson book "Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places" at the recomendation of a good friend. The subtitle is a "conversation in spiritual theology". I've read several books by Peterson and really dig his take on things. This book is no exception. I will probably post some excerpts from this book in the coming weeks. As a person who has worked with churches and currently is on staff at a church I find the following quote from this book very relevant:

"[the word] 'rescource,' is commonly used of people who can help us in our work. I can still remember how jarring that word sounded to me when I first heard it used forty years ago by a man who was giving me direction in my work of developing a new congregation. He kept pushing me to identify the resource people that I could use in my work. And then I noticed he was using the word as a verb; he frequently offered to resource our church board, our financial committee, our planning committee.

but 'rescource' identified a person as something to be used. There is nothing personal to a resource--it is a thing, a stuff, a function. Use the word long enough and it begins to change the way we view a person. It started out harmlessly enough as a metaphor and as such was found useful, I guess. But when it becomes habitual, it erodes our sense of this persona as a soul--relational at the core and God-dimensioned" --Eugene Peterson from Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (P38)

I find that what he hits on cuts right to some of the fundamental problems with the way modern church is done. Most start off with good intentions and nobel aims. They've been aprehended by the love of God and want others to experience it. But it is so easy along the way to start seeing people as a commodity. I remember years ago when I was pastoring a college ministry at SLU getting to a point where I became so concerned with charts and graphs and numbers that the very thing I wanted others to experience was getting choked by the subtle viewing of people as a resource or commodity. We cannot let ourselves forget that God's Kingdom is relational and Jesus' ministry was always in the context of relationship and restoring relationship among people and with God. His example was not the spirituality of the smug elitists but of Emanuel-God With Us. Jesus got down in the muck and mire with humanity as a human. Shouldn't we ourselves follow his example rather than retreating from the world around us or by simply treating everything around us simply as a resource to be used. Just some thoughts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Buying CDs on Ebay

I've found a new vice! Buying CDs on EBAY. Buying CDs on ebay combines the best of impulse buying and comulsive gambling. Seriously I've come across some great deals on brand new CDs.

My CD purchases from Ebay last week were:
1. Shangrila by Mark Knopfler
2. Summerteeth by Wilco
3. Songs From the Analog Playground by the Charlie Hunter Quartet

Charlie Hunter

Well in keeping with my new years resolution to get into some new bands I've given Charlie Hunter a try in the last few days and I'm definately going to get some more. This guys is pretty incredible. He plays guitar and bass on this eight-string hybrid guitar. He's a killer bass player and lea guitarist. The first CD I bought of his is called Songs From the Analog Playground by the chralie hunter quartet. The CD features guest vocals from Norah Jones, Theryl de Cloet (Galactic), and Mos Def. Musically the CD is Jam based funk-jazz. Real nice playing but nothing too cerebral. This band has real soul. The 2 tracks with Norah Jones are killer and I really like some of the instrumentals. I love Galactic but have never been a big fan of Theryl de Cloet's vocals so the tracks he's on are not as exciting to me. YOu can check out a live video version of the song "Mighty Mighty" at . I prefer this guys vocals over Cloet's. Also check out the video clip of "Just A Closer Walk With Thee"

Another day Another Bar-b-Q

Well even though I've only recently got into the brisket business I have been doing a whole lot of briskets in the last couple of days. As our adopt-a-block list grows larger every week we are trying to keep up with the demmands. This week my good friend Doug got in on the action bringing in 18 briskets from Houston to add to my 8 for a total of 26 which we will serve to the community tonight. Doug showed up wreaking of Texas pride which is only made worse when mixed with mesquite smoke. He got out of his pick-up with a cowboy hat, boots, an apron from Goode Company Barbeque in Texas complete with a meat thermometer hanging like a ball-point pen from the apron top. He brough me a jar of "Doug's Rub" which is supposed to do wonders for any smoked meat. Well, it seems to have worked pretty well.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

My New Years Resolution

I realized the other day after looking at my music collection from recent years that I'm getting old. I'm passing out of that golden demographic group that record companies target - the 16 to 28 year olds that consume large quantities of CDs and downloads and that are responsible for keeping the record companies in business. Sure I don't have the disposable income for the luxuries of things like CD as much now with a wife and 2 kids, but I think there are other reasons as well.

When I was a teenager I consumed a whole lot of music, everything from industrial to blues to jazz to brazillian pop to classic rock to alternative. Music was the frontier and I was an explorer. I didn't have much of an idea at the time of the complexities and subtleties of music but I just kept on getting more. Bit by bit I aquired a taste for certain bands and styles. By the time I was in my late teens I had settled on a few bands as a real fan. Thus my music collection became more narrow and focused.

Here I am now at age 33 and I have realized that I don't buy too much from bands that i'm unfamiliar with anymore. I don't think this is all just due to me getting old though. I think much of this is due in part to the emotional investment it takes to be a fan of a band. There are very few people (though i have met one or two) who can know intimate details about hundreds of bands. For most of us we can only be emotionally involed with 10 to 15 bands at a time. For me these some of these bands would be U2, John Scofield, Mark Knopfler, Bruce cockburn, Medeski Martin and Wood, Daniel Lanois, and more recently Wilco. When it comes to these bands I am a fan. I will keep buying their stuff. I will read the credits and see who produced and played on their CDs. I'll accumulate bits of meaningless trivia about them, and if I get to see them in concert I will show up hours early and do things that would likely embarace me in other settings (like screaming like a little girl).

Sure there are tons of great bands that are out there that I have yet to come across but even when I do come across them I'm carrying the emotional baggage of being a fan of this other hadful of groups. A band might spark my interest but I'm kind of already "taken". If I have a new years resolution this year it will be to become a fan of some new groups. This will be a dificult thing to do at this point in my life but hey isn't that just what new years resolutions are about.

So I've done some reading on some artists lately and I'm going to give a few bands a chance to let me be a fan. I have just ordered CDs by Sufjan Stevens, Iron and Wine, and Charlie Hunter. I think there is a good chance that I will be able to expand my collection and become a new fan again. I will update you on my progress.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Jambalaya Recipes - A Reply to Randall

The following is a comment posted by my friend Randall from Boise who came down with some teams to help out after the hurricane:

Randall: "Speaking of recipes, we tried to get one for the jambalaya and gumbo the ladies fixed for us and they said "mmmhmm" and never gave one to us even when we gave them one for some killer enchiladas. We were thinking it must be some sort of southern secret!"

Well Randall I still have not attempted making anything but boxed Jambalaya in the 12+ years I've lived in Louisiana. I am a big fan of the stuff though. In fact we udes to have a friend named Jimmy Jam Bordelon who would travel around with my band Mary's Den cooking Jambalaya. In fact I wrote a song about the stuff called Funky Jambalaya which can be downloaded free from my website. Shameless plugs aside there can be several reasons for not getting the recipe from the women. Here are a few possible reasons.
1. Jambalaya is more caught then taugt. It's not so much a science as an art. The best Jambalaya requires an informal aprenticeship with a jambalaya master. Jimmy Jam has been one such mentor to me but I am still not ready. I have not been able to snatch the red bean from his hand.
2. A magician never reveals his tricks and many cooks are the same way. A good jambalaya is magical stuff. The truth is you may not want to know what goes into some jambalaya and gumbo. Just enjoy!
3. It's a regional thing. Many of the best ingredients may be hard to come by in Idaho.
4. Or they may have just forgot and in that case I will remind them and get the recipe to you.

One thing I know is the very best jambalaya and gumbo is done in a huge cast iron kettle.
One suggestion for Idaho folk. You have pleanty of potatoes so by you some crab boil and try boiling your potatoes in that stuff. We had some mashed potatoes in crab boil with one of the Idaho groups, i'm not sure if it was yours but they were quite tastey. I'm not sure if you can get crab boil up there though.

I'll check on the Jambalaya and get back with you.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


One of the odd things to come from this whole hurricane recovery bit is that I've been doing alot of cooking. Cooking is like playing music or songwriting or recording to me. It's a creative endeavor. I like to approach it intuitively. no recipe books thank you. Of course every person starts off not knowing much of anything about cooking. So if you don't get it from recipe books where do you learn? That's part of the fun. You find people who cook good. For instance my dad is quite good on the old barbeque pit so I've been picking his brain on how to make the ellusive perfect brisket. Hopefully I can learn from his years of trial and error.
The other great teacher is experience. This is one of the funest parts about cooking and playing music when you stumble on to some technique that brings your whole game up.
And like music you need an audience for cooking. Sure cooking for my self is nice. I enjoy it at least but nothing like sharing good food that you've put your love into with others. Here in Louisiana food is a huge part of experiencing community. And cooking down here is a man's thing. Whether jambalaya, gumbo, stewed chicken and even barbeque there is community in the making of the food and the partaking of the food. Right now I'm onto my third batch of briskets and I'm loving the experience. Sure I come home smelling like smoke but it's worth it. Today we will be feeding some folks in the neighborhoods and some teams staying in our church and hopefully there will be a little left over for some of the people working at the church. Of course they've been sneeking end and sampling the stuff all day. This is a good batch. As with music you can only get better at it, and my skills are improving a bit. I read about a ministry called blood and fire one time that reaches out to the poor in Atlanta. They do a whole lot of barbequing. One of the guys said about cooking for others there: "don't ever serve somebody something you wouldn't want to eat yourself in a restaurant." Good rule. You see good food gives people a sense of dignity. It ain't left overs and day old bread but the best you can offer that really shows some love. I know I may be getting a little too philosophical here. Maybe the smoke is going to my head. Well that's my brake from the pit and it's time to get back to work.