Saturday, January 31, 2009

Doodling worship/hell during worship

Someone at TBC brought this drawing up to the band after the gathering was over. They said one of their kids drew it. It's a picture of the musicians on stage. Love it! Click on the picture to enlarge it to see what the musicians are saying. Then scroll below for the second picture...

Here is the SECOND picture they drew. Do you know what the message topic of the morning was. Don Whitney spoke on "Hell Is Real." Seriously.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Drum shield attacks worship leader

It's not funny and funny all rolled up in one! Thanks to Rich Kirkpatrick for sharing his goof.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Is Christian music dying? Good or bad?

Not sure how you feel about the Contemporary Christian Music industry (CCM). Just read an interesting article by Scott McClellan over at COLLIDE and he referenced Charlie Peacock's ominous predictions for CCM.

Scott asks a great question in his article — Is Christian music missing something? He believes it is.

His message to artists, labels, and fans?

Artists — Innovate, don’t imitate.

Labels — Don’t play it safe; take some risks.

Fans — Support great art.

Is Christian Music Dying?

Before we go much further, let’s establish what Charlie said. His complete essay, titled “The Future of Christian Music,” is currently available at, but the five most important ideas Peacock put forward are:

  • The major labels aren’t in danger of going under anytime soon, but they’ll be forced to depend on dwindling revenue from their song catalogs.

  • The term CCM, or Christian Contemporary Music, will go away.

  • Christian music that matters won’t have any affiliation with the Christian music industry but instead will be written, recorded, and released in the mainstream.

  • Worship music serves a purpose within the Church, which guarantees its survival.

  • The big names from CCM’s glory days (Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, etc.) will survive, but many artists from the last decade will be left looking for a reason, roaming through the night to find their place in this world.

One of a kind guitar in Topeka

You'll need to ask for Rick to show you this nice piece located here in Topeka.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thinking of bringing back soul to my face

What do you think? My wife will surely leave a comment.

Hey — be thankful I'm not David Crowder. He's got alotta soul, baby.

Buy an Apple computer, get music lessons

That's right. Apple now has guitar, piano, and other music lessons built into it's operating system "Garage Band" files.

Guess I didn't need to spend as much on music education afterall...darn it.
clipped from
The GarageBand Lesson Store Could Be Apple’s Next Revolution In Music

Apple’s Lesson Store is the perfect compromise. Each lesson offers a lengthy video of the artist discussing how to play their song section by section, which is displayed alongside the music being played (either in tab or traditional notation) and a diagram of where your fingers should be on your instrument. And because you’re dealing with the original artist, you know you’re learning the song as it was meant to be played.

True to Apple tradition, the interface shines. You can quickly jump between sections, slow down video playback to half speed without distorting the notes, and can easily set the program to loop any segment of music until you’ve got it down. I honestly can’t think of anything that would make it any better.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Casey talks with Vintage Classics

Casey doing a bang-up job with the wiser generation at TBC.

Questions they asked Casey:
- How did you end up at TBC?
- Are you happy here?
- Did you enjoy your part in The Shack (book discussion)?
- Do you consider people who go to church and call themselves a
Christian but do not believe the same things as I do (like the Bible
being truth) a believer?
- What is your goal in the future?
- How do you think the nation is going to go this year?
- Do you have any specific protocol for your quiet time?
- Do you do well at memorizing scripture?

TBC's got trouble

Looky what I found downstairs @ TBC! Gasp! A pool table.

Yes, ya got lots and lots o' trouble
I'm thinkin' of the kids in the knickerbockers, shirttails, young ones
Peekin' in the pool hall window after school
Ya got trouble, folks, right here in Topeka City
With a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'P'
And that stands for 'pool'

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ash pastors the pastors over lunch

Lunch downtown with Ash - check out these photos of Ash in his prime
and his lovely wife.

Hunter kisses another one

Had a little accident there, Hunter?

Downloadable worship guitar tones for Line 6's POD X3

Thanks to Kenny over at for posting this nice set of tones for Line 6's POD X3. Listen to the video at least for 1 minute to get to the good tones — and a nice example with looping at the end.

Pod X3 Update

After a month or so of tweaking + playing for two church services, I've made further adjustments to my Pod X3 patches. Check them out below, and download them here. For those without the pod x3, some of the examples with the wah, flanger, and random S/H might give you some ideas....
I recorded using a cheapo computer mic, so the tones in the video have a thin quality to them, especially the clean tones. Also apologies for the out-of-tune guitar!

Too quiet in the bathroom

Joshua seemed too quiet in the bathroom. Water running. Then giggling. So I walked in and this is what he was up to.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Recording setup in the office

About once a month I record the vocal tracks for the Vocal Team to rehearse with. Why? Because most of them come to rehearsal with the parts learned — which leaves more time for fun stuff, like putting it together. Here's a shot of the office recording setup when it's open recording season.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Yo Yo dude, what's up with not playing live?

Just learned what you heard was and wasn't Yo-Yo Ma.
While the music group with Yo-Yo Ma and others played live, it wasn't what you were hearing through your TV set or on-site at through the speakers. See article at the end of this post for details.

Just posing a question here...which do we value more, excellence or authenticity? I'm inclined to admire someone more for taking a risk and sounding not so hot (or not doing it at all), than to take the safe road and not being real.

Instead the truth comes out afterward — we chose this option. There may have been other options they explored. For example, what about a second cello in the wings tuned ready to roll? Or ONLY IF a string broke, pull out the recording and say up front — this is what we are using.

What do you think? If I used a pitch correction unit on my voice (which TBC worshipers could benefit from), is that OK? How about makeup on women? How much makeup? Cosmetic surgery?

Where's the line for you?

See also...
clipped from

Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma (traditional Chinese: 馬友友; simplified Chinese: 马友友; pinyin: Mǎ Yǒuyǒu) (born October 7, 1955) is a French-born Chinese American[1] cellist and winner of multiple Grammy Awards. He is one of the most revered cello players of the 21st century.

He performed John Williams' "Air and Simple Gifts" at the inauguration ceremony for Barack Obama on January 20, 2009 along with Itzhak Perlman (violin), Gabriela Montero (piano) and Anthony McGill (clarinet). While the quartet did play live, the music played simultaneously over speakers and on television was a recording made two days prior due to concerns over the cold weather damaging the instruments. Ma was quoted as saying "A broken string was not an option. It was wicked cold." [13]

Imagine seeing this at your church

Another example of creativity in the local church below. Imagine walking into a church for a worship gathering and seeing this. What do you think? Like? Over the top?

Friday, January 23, 2009

My best investment

Everyone is talking about it — the financial markets are scary. Nobody knows what to invest in, how much, or maybe when to take a pause from investing for awhile.

The Bible has a story about the stock market — of sorts. The Bible says Jesus shared a story about giving talents and taking talents (talents was a unit of money) from servants based off how much or little they invested it for the master. The story says that the one who invested wisely for the purpose of the master (not himself) — was entrusted with even more. In fact, the servant who didn't invest it (and just hid it) lost his talents to the servant who invested.

What has God entrusted to you? Family? Friends? Acquaintances? Material possessions? Resources? Influence? Fame? Skill or knowledge? Maybe something else of value?

Whatever that 'something' is — God is watching us. And me. He wants to see how we will handle, today, what He's entrusted us with. Will we squander it? Will we invest in it? Will we use it for our personal gain, friend's gain, family's gain — or His gain?

Too many times my mindset is, "God, I want to be entrusted with more (for myself). What am I doing wrong?" Maybe He's not because I'm not currently investing wisely what He's given me TODAY. And maybe my motive is to gain more for me instead of Him. I'm not talking just about money, but everything my life is. That includes my time and the words I'm writing right now. It includes this very moment as you are reading these words. Are you investing wisely?

I sometimes wonder what the wise servant did with the extra money given to him. Did he continue investing for the master — or did he think it was his to spend? Or did he learn "if I invest, I get more." Or did he learn "if I invest, my master gets more."

Matthew 25
23 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’"

Lord, You've entrusted me with a certain amount of everything today. Help me gain the perspective that I should invest so that YOU gain more, not me. I want to be the servant that you smile at simply because I've invested wisely so Your return is greater.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Music snapshot of 2009

Music defines moments in history. This week's inauguration is no different. Check out the lineup of musicians at the concert this past weekend. Who was selected? What did they sing/play? What did they say?
clipped from

Obama at concert: The dream of our founders will live on

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Inauguration revelry began Sunday afternoon as thousands of people packed the National Mall in Washington for a free concert featuring big stars.

President-elect Barack Obama addressed a roaring crowd after 90 minutes of high-energy acts such as U2, Mary J. Blige, Usher and Beyonce.

During U2's performance of "Pride (In the Name of Love)," a tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., frontman Bono referenced the civil rights leader's "I Have a Dream" speech, saying that it was also, "an Irish dream, a European dream, and African dream, an Israeli dream, and a Palestinian dream." Video Watch performances from the concert »

Stevie Wonder belted out "Higher Ground" with Shakira and Usher. Herbie Hancock backed Sheryl Crow and will i. am. as they sang Bob Marley's "One Love."

Revisiting what the word "Hosanna" means

The Bible says people shouted "Hosanna" when Jesus entered Jerusalem. Did you ever wonder what the word means? Did you forget, like me?

The next time you need someone to save you — the word works.

Check out this blog post on the word...

What does “Hosanna” mean?

…And the multitude that went before and that followed cried saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest’.” And, later on that day, when Jesus was in the temple, the courtyard of the temple was full of children crying out, “Hosanna to the son of David.”
What made the Priests so angry was that they knew very well what Hosanna meant and where it came from. It is a quote from Psalm 118 and verse 25.

Hosanna is a prayer that can only be said to Jehovah. These children were calling Jesus the Son of David and Jehovah, just as Jeremiah had done in Chapter 23, verses 5 and 6. Hosanna means, “Save us! please!”

-Since we, as believers are already saved and redeemed, it is an echo of our gratitude to God, a thanks to Him in worship for rescuing us.

Too cold for you?

My brother lived in Siberia for awhile. When he heard about the cold weather we were having in the US, he chuckled. Then I saw this video...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Songsmith: tells me it's not real

Someone please tell me this isn't real. Pleeeease — anyone.

Sleeping beauty

Her! Not me.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Global turns local

Check out this picture of my brother, his wife, and twins!

One of the things I enjoy most about technology is the fact that it's turning the term "global" into "local." My brother is on the other side of the globe, and we were able to talk to him via video for free with Skype. It was like he was in the room. I know many of you use Skype, but for those that haven't — give it a try and you'll realize how small our world is.

Friday, January 16, 2009

YouTube can help you fix stuff like this

Learned to fix our Peerless faucet. Thank you Mr. SiriusLightheart! Check out the fix it video.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The King works at Burger King

Some of you know that I frequent Burger King. Since it's so close to the church, I head down there frequently. Too frequently, according to my wife. But the side benefit of getting to know the crew that works there has been great.

I've had some great encounters at Burger King. A woman biking her way across the US because she wants to find God's direction for her life, inviting a Lowe's employee to church (who virtually helped me finish my basement), a man who lost his wife to illness (now eating alone), and a spiritual conversation with the manager after an employee was killed tragically in an automobile accident last Christmas. If I didn't eat there this frequently, then I may not have had that opportunity — or the opportunities to come.

Please understand, the crew at Burger King is not a "project" to me. They are each loved by a God that would love them to know Him. I want them to know this God that loves them.

Recently, I hit the jack-pot when they wrote each of their names on a dry-erase board. I now have a list of names to be praying for. And it really helps to remember their names when I walk through the door...because I'm naturally challenged with names.

And here's Tom, the guy from Lowe's, who helped me finish my basement. He walked into Burger King — and he had lunch with me and Hunter, just by chance. Who says the King isn't at work?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

House destroyed next to TBC

It's completely gone...on purpose. Potentially more parking for the
church (after the hole is filled in).

Creativity in the local church

I'm always on the lookout for creativity. Recently someone from TBC went to a church in Florida called Northland. Check out one of the songs they did for their Christmas events. Wait until the band kicks in — then watch the eye candy. A little over produced for my taste, but MAJOR technical and creative feats happening here. Wow.

"Sound of the Round" from Northland Video on Vimeo.

And for those of you who enjoyed the light show "Christmas Time Is Here" with the recording of the Charlie Brown kids'll appreciate this rendition that gives the jazz tune justice.

"Christmas Time Is Here" from Northland Video on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Song picks from "have it your way" at TBC

Last weekend, we didn't plan or select any of the music. That's right. We walked onto stage with nothing in hand.

Instead, we took requests from worshipers all three services. It was a little nerve-racking not knowing what was going to come up. But the musicians and lyric tech did a phenomenal job. No crash and burns.

Here's how it played out...

1. I explained what was going on.
2. I invited people to raise their hand for me to call on them to give us the title, lyrics, or melody line of a song they'd like to submit.
3. We paired up the hymns and paired more recent songs together.
4. I had them vote with the applause-o-meter — so we had them vote between (for example) Amazing Grace and The Hallelujah Chorus. Whichever won...we put into our song set for that morning.
5. We took a total of 8 songs...and voted half of them off the island, leaving just 4. If there was a tie, then I kept the 5th song, and we did it at the end of the morning after Jim spoke.
6. I turned to Lisa, she said what key and we launched.

Special thanks to my wife — the musical glue for me, Thad (drums), and Stephanie (vocals). And a special thanks to Matt (lyric tech) who pulled up the songs on the fly and followed nicely.

And here were the results folks...

3rd Hour
Ancient of Days
Open the Eyes of My Heart
Shout to the Lord
Holy, Holy, Holy
Amazing Grace

2nd Hour
Days of Elijah
I'll Fly Away
Awesome God
Revelation Song
In Christ Alone

1st Hour
He Lives
Amazing Grace
Days of Elijah
Everlasting God
Speak O Lord

What's interesting is that I had to PROMPT for an additional hymn in the 2nd and 3rd hour. That surprised me. It also surprised me that Days of Elijah made it in two of the three hours. Sometime soon I'll give you some insight into the song that may surprise you.

Take a look at this church sign

I'm not a fan of church marquee signs — so it's an uphill battle to begin with. But check out this church sign I drove by today. What do you think? What does this communicate to a target audience of people you'd like to see in your church?

Happy Birthday, Nat!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Voice Box in Worship Setting

I would LOVE to use this in a techno-worship setting at TBC...anyone game?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Loops in Worship

Every week at Topeka Bible Church we use "loops" and "click tracks" with verbal cues. A loop is something that is a backtrack or an audio pattern played underneath what a live band plays. A click track is simply a metronome that the band listens to to stay together. With a verbal cue, it's easy to tell where the song sections are — so we rarely miss entrances. A full list of our 100+ library of loops and click tracks are available through

Here's an example of a loop/backtrack that we used several months ago on a song by Delirious? called "Our God Reigns." Most of the audio is created by a Apple's Garageband audio - but the voices and whistling were recorded through my MacBook. If you enjoy these loops, head over to Our Rising Sound blog ( to catch more examples of loops used in a worship setting. Enjoy.

Click here to listen to loop for Our God Reigns.

And you can watch the video here...

(almost) Impossible Guitar Playing

These have been around awhile, but fun to watch.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Following Jesus without fear

How does my current ministry practice align with what Jesus asked His followers to do? If I follow Jesus, should I have the same results (people persecuting me). Do I live in fear? Or do I live my life in such a way that normally a person would be fearful ... but because of God's care I don't have to be. Or am I taking the easy road?

Matthew 10 is Jesus' charge to His disciples. What were they supposed to do? Here are the verbs he used...

  • go to the lost sheep
  • preach
  • heal sick
  • raise dead
  • cleanse lepers
  • cast out demons
  • do not acquire money
  • inquire who is worthy
  • abide/stay with the worthy
  • enter the house
  • give it your greeting regardless of how it returns
  • if rejected, go out and shake off the dust
He goes on...
  • beware of men
  • do not be anxious for how you will speak
  • flee persecution
  • do not fear
  • speak in the light and proclaim
  • do not fear
  • do not fear
In a nutshell, they were to take action. When they met resistance, they were to move on and continue in another location. Jesus knew it was going to be seen in the public eye and looked down on. So he told them to not fear, move on, continue the work.

Lord, show me how I can follow you better. Help me to not fear man or things of this earth if it means following you as a legitimate disciple.

Friday, January 09, 2009


Interruptions. They frustrate us. We don't see them coming. We wish they didn't happen. We are relieved when they are over. How many times when sitting in my office do I view unannounced people as an interruption?

The Bible has a similar story about a tax collector (Matthew 9). This IRS guy was at his office when Jesus stopped by. Not only did the tax collector listen to what Jesus had to say, he simply followed Him — and left his work. And it appears He left immediately.

In the end, the interruption was really an appointment with God - a divine appointment. This tax collector ended up inviting Jesus over for dinner - where many other of his friends (other tax collectors and "sinners") were also eating. It caused a commotion because it looked bad — Jesus hanging with the bad crowd. But Jesus' motives were to do what was right in His Father's eyes, not man's eyes.

When an interruption happens - do I ever look beyond it to see the divine appointment? If I see the divine appointment, do I embrace it - or think the opportunity to follow it is too risky?

Lord, help me to look for how You are working — and when You ask me to follow You, give me the courage to move where you want me to be.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

My thoughts on the light show future

In short, it's a green light - the light show should continue another year. Why? Because the percentage of unchurched people who came not only is above 10% - but it increased from 14% to 23% from 2007 to 2008. Folks, that's WHY we are doing it. It's not for media attention. It's not for bragging rights. It's not because it has become a tradition. It's not for ANY other reason - other than to tell people about Christ.

In the future, if the number of surveyed people stays above 10% unchurched - it's a good indicator that we are doing some good. Most outreaches I've been involved in in the past were 6% or lower. While the true percentage is probably higher, the measured amount is the only tangible number with which to make decisions.

Also, if the percentage of surveyed people who are unchurched begins to drop over consecutive years - it's time to admit that we are most likely on the backside of an S-curve. This means reinventing the light a light show on a Kansas grain elevator...or completely killing it for a different event would be wise. What counts is not the sheer number of people who come to the event - but how many people who don't know Christ. It's all about having an opportunity to share Christ with them.

God, help us to make wise use of the resources You give us (time, money, people, energy). You said the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So we want to make what we do count. May You be broadcast in our us learn how to best do it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

She let me do it

Right back to her!

2 year old facelift with stickers

This is our 2-year-old Kayla's artwork with stickers on my face.

Should we kill/continue the Topeka Light Show?

It's important to really evaluate after a resource-sucking event whether or not to continue or kill it.

I'm taking a risk in publicly revealing the results from the online survey from the 5,500+ people who came to the 2008 Topeka Light Show. Why bare all and reveal the results? Because we need to know if we should continue it.

Without saying whether or not we'd continue the 3-story drive-in light show with live musicians - download the comparison report to take a look at the results and decide for yourself. In another post, I'll share my thoughts on the data and let you know what I think.

UPDATE: Link should now work properly. Thanks Dustin for catching it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Lazy musicians use parking cones...really?

The breakfast musicians who use cones for a parking spot will now be parking in the back West Mulvane lot - instead of parking in front of the church.

Here's why...

One of the things I was impressed about TBC's musicians right from the start was the fact that they have breakfast together every Sunday AM between the 1st and 2nd hours of worship. They usually pile in one or two cars together and head out for some grub before they came back for the 2nd and 3rd round.

This impressed me because it builds relationships and camaraderie far more than anything structured I could ever set up. They laugh together. Learn about each others' lives. Rehash the 1st hour of worship. Share joys and frustrations. This is MORE IMPORTANT than the music we play. I'm not gonna make it a challenge for them to do this - I'm looking for ways to make it easier. In fact, I take a $20 out of the offering each week to pay for their breakfast...and I ask them to keep the change (ok folks, kidding).

They use a parking cone to get a prime parking spot when they return from breakfast. At first glace, the cone looks like the band members are lazy or simply don't want to walk further to the church. In fact, an anonymous person wrote the word "LAZY" not once - but twice on the cone. I don't know who wrote it - and I hope I never find out. I'm not a big fan of poker playing Christians who like to do things anonymously whether it's a back-handed joke or just crank turning. The only place anonymity has in Christianity is when you are praying/worshipping, giving, or serving - all perfect places for a cloak.

They aren't LAZY - trust me. These folks come every Thursday for 2-3 hours. They practice music at home. They show up every Sunday at 7AM to setup gear and don't leave until after 12:30PM. Let me ask you - is that a lazy group to you? No. OK, so you might think they are lazy for parking in the front. I wonder if the person who wrote LAZY is giving as much unpaid volunteer time. Enough of my poison-pen-cone-scribing friend. I forgive you - publicly.

Allow me to explain the #1 reason they NEED to park close to the church. They simply don't want to be late to the 2nd hour of worship. I don't want them to be late either ... I need them to lead worship with me. So they park close to the church so they can pile out and be ready to roll.

Folks, I want this musician breakfast vehicle parking close to the church!

However, I can completely see how parking right in the front makes the rest of the TBC worshippers and our guests feel. In fact, if you were looking for a good parking spot, saw a bunch of people get out of a vehicle to move a cone and park there - then you yourself have to hike two blocks to the church in subzero weather ... and as you enter the auditorium, you see the same group of people lead you in worship ... well, I might be a little miffed to - if I didn't understand the "why" behind the cone.

So here's what we are going to do...all musicians who use the 1 or 2 cones for breakfast parking will park right next to the church in the back West Mulvane parking lot (right outside the backstage back door). This will get them to breakfast quicker and back quicker - and allow the MORE IMPORTANT thing to happen ... RELATIONSHIPS.

Listen, at the end of our life on your deathbed - where you park isn't going to make any difference, but the relationships with the people around your deathbed will.

By the way, I'm finished with my library parking lot commitment for 2008. I have to admit - it wasn't just bitter cold some spirit was slightly bitter when I made the walk up to the church and back to the car in the cold. I'm not going to be lazy and park right up at the church so my car takes up 3 parking spots all morning.

Lord, help us focus on things that really matter to You. I'm talking about the big things. Not what we wear, eat, drink, or where we park - but where our heart is with You.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Oh Lord, move my butt

Matt 7:26 “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand."

Lord, I don't want to simply hear Your words.
I want to act on them. But if I'm honest, many times I'm not even listening to Your words.

Here's what I need to do...

1. Read the Bible to listen to Your words
2. Determine what action You'd like me to take
3. Act on it
4. Look back to evaluate what action I've taken and how it matches up with Your word
5. Don't be satisfied with taking one action, repeat #1-4

Thank you for being patient with me while so many times I hear, but don't budge. I don't want You to have to move my butt for me. I want to do it because I love You and want to follow You with every move I make.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Why do people insult you?

In the US, there's not a lot we are insulted or persecuted for. We are a pretty tolerant nation these days — one where it's culturally wrong to insult or discriminate. One might argue that we are too tolerant.

Regardless, we've all been insulted at different times in our life. Maybe it was our mullet, rolled jeans, or comb in the back pocket in the 80s. Or maybe because we like music that isn't popular. When it gets really bad, some call it "persecution." The larger question for me is WHY have I been insulted.

The Bible says God desires to bless those who are insulted and persecuted because of Him (Matthew 5:11). I may be insulted, but if it's because of a decision/action that I made on my own — it doesn't count. If I'm insulted/persecuted just 'because' — it doesn't count. But if I'm insulted by someone because I've lived my life in light of how Christ would live — then I believe I'll be blessed.

The question is — the next time I'm insulted, am I being insulted because of my association with Christ? Or something else? Am I ever insulted at all for Christ for anything? If not, am I playing my life too safe and wasting away opportunities God is bringing me?

Why do people insult you these days?