Please pre-order the digital album by clicking on the “listen” link above! Thank you!
Please pre-order the digital album by clicking on the “listen” link above! Thank you!
I’m grateful for my friend Dave who recently asked me “what I’ve been learning lately.” It didn’t take long to come up with a few overarching ideas that I feel have been at the core of the good stuff I’ve been experiencing lately. Perhaps you might find some hope and encouragement in them like I have.
1) Be Productive. Just do something. This immediately gives you energy and confidence to keep tackling other things. I find it easy to get consumed making to-do lists and rarely digging in…for fear of possibly spending my time working on the wrong thing. The other day I turned up the music and cleaned out my closet. The good feeling I got continued with energy to tackle stuff hiding in the kitchen and living room…
2) Be Clear on Your Bigger Picture. Where are you going and what do you want to accomplish? Get a good picture of the target you’re wanting to aim your arrow at. Little things that don’t point to the bigger thing can always distract, if you let them. Filter down from the bigger picture to the smaller, more reasonable things you can do today to help you get where you want to go.
3) Don’t Worry About Tomorrow. For tomorrow has enough worries of its own. So let it go. Be as present today as you possibly can. And as a result, you’ll find yourself being as awesome today as you’ve been hoping to be in the future. Boom!
What about you? What would you add to this list?
1. Some people never change…even after 30 years. A person who I remember not being able to look you straight in the eye when they talked, still couldn’t. Another who loved being dramatic and the center of attention, still did (and I’m not talking about me! HA!). One who always had the inside scoop about other people, did this weekend, as well. A person I remember as always calm and compassionate, still was. People still drift toward what and whom they are most comfortable.
2. Some people really change. People mostly get more awesome. I believe I made some new friends this weekend—people that I shared a similar location with for three years, but never really knew. I love that Sue, who wasn’t ever in theater, moved to LA, got into comedy and acting and has been on “The Office” and “My Name is Earl.” I loved hearing how Jenny trains dolphins and other animals at the Minnesota Zoo. I love that Tom makes BINGO cards.
1- Some people will like you. Some people won’t. It’s painful when the people you want to like you—don’t. The key is to be yourself completely and authentically. Then the people you really want in your life will find you.
2- There are always going to be people better than you at certain things. Or more attractive than you. Or funnier. Or more successful. None of these are indicative of your worth and value as a person. Find the things that you love to do and do them passionately and relentlessly. Then you’ll always be happy.
3- Don’t assume that you know anybody’s story. Everyone is walking around and fighting their own battles that they never show. You will be valuable if you show compassion to everyone regardless of their religious beliefs, hobbies, sexuality, or smell.
I’ve been on a kick recently where I’ve been really enjoying suspense and mystery shows on television. I’ll credit “Breaking Bad” with some of that. But lately, I’ve really been entranced by “True Detective” on HBO and “Fargo” on FX. I even watched PBS’ “Masterpiece” mystery entre’ “The Escape Artist.” What is it about these shows that keeps pulling me in? I believe it’s something akin to a roller coaster. I’ll ride a coaster because it’s probably going to be super scary, but I know (from past experience) the overall exhilaration will outweigh the fear of dying.
These shows take me on that same kind of journey. You might have no idea where the story is heading, but the ride is so filled with suspense-fueled adrenaline that I both: don’t want it to end and can’t wait for it to end.
It helps me to view the life of faith in this same way.
To be completely honest, I’m at an interesting time in my life. After three CDs and numerous concerts around the country, including three Christmas tours over the past few years, I’m excited to talk about the new direction I’m heading.
I am working on some new music—but it might not look like what you think.
As you know, I’m all about hope. I believe people living lives of hope can radically change the world and make it an increasingly beautiful, gospel-centric place. More than ever I’m passionately on a mission to know more about hope—what is it (beyond simple optimism), and how we can all live it out on a daily basis.
So, I’m developing the LIVE HOPE project.
My goal is to create a 12-week curriculum for personal or small group study which will literally show people how to live hope on a daily basis. I’m taking it apart and analyzing it and then putting all the information together in a way that I believe can change lives. And yes, in addition to the text and study guide, my plan is to have it include music, as well as video, audio devotionals, online blogs, interviews, and more. I’m even picturing a LIVE HOPE magazine…you know, if Oprah can have her own magazine, so can we! HA! Does this interest you?
One of my favorite parts of life is hanging out with some guys inside the walls of a local prison here in Nashville. I find great value to the investment of my time and attention, aiming to pour hope into the hearts of men who have experienced more than I can fathom. I want to share the story of one of those men. His name is Adam, and his journey toward hope is startling and inspiring. Please feel free to add a note of encouragement to him at the end and I’ll make sure he gets it. Thanks for reading! Here’s Adam…
I have learned so much since being incarcerated. I could write a book (or two) on all of the life lessons, and knowledge, that I have attained. In retrospect, I see that the first stepping-stone on my path to real freedom was love. Most importantly, learning to love myself.
How can love be found in a place like this? Especially when so many men in here hate themselves more than any other person could. Your worst moment, your weakest point is now your crowning achievement. You are that moment now. How can you not hate yourself? I blamed everyone and everything I could for my fall from grace. However, at the end of the day all arrows and fingers pointed back at me.
Two weeks ago, the Rev. Franklin Graham told a large gathering of pastors in Washington, D.C. that they should address controversial issues from the pulpit, even going so far to say that “God hates cowards.” He was referring to Revelation 21:8 which lists a group of people who will be sentenced to the lake of burning sulfur, “the second death.”
According to christianpost.com, Rev. Graham said that the definition of a coward is someone who will not confront an issue that needs to be confronted due to fear. He continued, “God hates cowards. And the cowards that the Lord is referring to are the men and women who know the truth but refuse to speak it.”
I can’t stop thinking about this. That Billy Graham’s son somehow believes that God hates certain people. I understand that God hates sin, but he loves sinners, doesn’t he? In effect, it sounds like Rev. Graham is saying to this roomful of pastors, “Don’t be a coward, because then God will hate you.” If I knew someone who was being cowardly, or controlled by fear, I don’t believe my best approach would be to tell them God hates them.
Walking through town with a friend,
Though he lived with a scarlet letter
He chose nothing but love, and to never judge.
A stranger came up and yelled her poison
“I hope you burn in hell for what you’ve done,”
and then ran away.
I heard her voice, but didn’t see her face.
I asked, what was she wearing,
And he said, “A yellow dress.”
So I tore off to find the culprit, never to be found.
How do you deal, I asked my friend,
With these crazy judgers in the yellow dress,
Knowing she wasn’t the first and won’t be the last.
I’m thankful for those yellow dresses cause they remind me of where I’ve been
They tell me of the man I once was and the man I’ll never again be
They teach me to be more compassionate towards those I’d first want to judge
And love those it’d be easier to hate
They teach me to turn the other cheek and walk away instead of fighting
But most of all I’m thankful, for those yellow dresses
Because they’ve made me a stronger man
And without them I wouldn’t be me
A lot of people are looking for hope these days. Unfortunately, less and less are looking for it in the church. There are several reasons for that, perhaps as many as there are people. But instead of counting the ways it might be failing, let me tell you how I see hope in church. Some may say it shows up in the worship music, in the reading of the Word, or in the bread and wine, or maybe even in the passing of the peace. Not so much, for me, if I’m perfectly honest.
I see hope when people gather around a person at the end of the service and send up prayers up on their behalf. I see hope when our people demonstrate lives of selflessness by giving time and resources to others in need. I see hope when someone who I know is going through a really difficult time, still comes to church and testifies to God’s goodness. But perhaps the best way I see hope is in the connection with another person, whether its before or after the service. When someone is intentional about their desire to connect with me, I feel less alone than when I arrived.
Hope, to me, says you’re not alone, that God is in the middle of your life, and there’s every reason to believe that the best is yet to come. My desire is to show that to every person I meet, whether in church or out.
How do you see hope in your church experience?
If anything good has come out of last night’s botched execution of 38-year-old Clayton D. Lockett at an Oklahoma penitentiary, it is that the issue of capital punishment has been brought to the forefront of the news cycle.
I’ll spare you the details here, but the execution was apparently muffed by either using the wrong drugs, not enough, or a “vein failure.” Either way, it was enough for the administrators to “lower the curtain” between the viewing audience (including his family) and the proceedings behind the windows.
Here’s my beef: I’ve been very confused my entire life about how people who say they are pro-life or anti-abortion are perfectly fine with being pro-capital punishment. I don’t think it’s possible to be a Christ-follower and still be able to condone, much less celebrate, the death of anyone.
Are you a person who spends a lot of time trying to identify what organizations or persons are dangerous? It might be easy to point and then run for cover, but how much more of an act of faith might it be to actually move toward those we oppose, seeking understanding, and demonstrating compassion? But not so we can then drag them over to our side, but so we can see God in each of us more clearly, and even possibly be changed ourselves! When I find similarities between me and those I used to judge, I know that’s the very instance Love wins.
These are words I never thought I’d say, but the recently released “Son of God” film has offered me an unexpected little bump for my music. How, you ask? Well, at the end of the film, they play CeeLo Green’s version of “Mary, Did You Know.” Kinda random, but I guess it works! Well, over at amazon.com I had some success with my version of “Mary, Did You Know” being in the top ten “Holiday” songs downloaded over the Christmas season. Fantastic, right?! Really encouraging. Well, I just went over and checked the chart again (MP3 DOWNLOAD > MISCELLANEOUS > HOLIDAY) and CeeLo is up to #2 with his tune…but amazingly enough, my version is at the top…el number uno. Crazy! I’m greatly encouraged and find this to be quite amazing.
Thank you to amazon and all the random people who have downloaded the tune!! For fun, check out some of the comments people have left about my song and get your own free download. Some are super nice, and some are super, ahem…honest. Love it!
Did you enjoy watching the Olympics? I sure did. I love seeing people push themselves to the outer reaches of their physical and mental limits, seeking to discover just how fast or how excellent they can be at their discipline. But probably even more than any particular sport, I love the inspirational stories that come out of the Olympics. These private peeks inside the athlete’s lives that reveal a bit of the their long and difficult journey to the world stage, beyond just the few minutes or seconds we see them on our screen. It usually involves some kind of intense struggle having been overcome, right?
“My mother told me to dream more realistically.”