Sunday, December 27, 2009

WHAT I GOT FOR CHRISTMAS

This has been one of the best Christmases I've ever had; not because of the presents I got or even because of the presents I gave. It was the best because I got to spend valuable time with my family, and there is only one greater gift that I know of - the gift of Jesus. Without that gift, there would be no point of Christmas. This song says it all:



I hope and pray your Christmas was even better than ours...which is very tough to pull off!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

CONGRATS ALL AROUND!

Congratulations are in order for the newly-crowned champions of NBC's The Sing-Off, NOTA!

As I wrote in my last Sing-Off post, I was really captivated by their uniqueness and courage to stay deeply rooted in their own sound and traditions. These guys are very professional in their approach to music. They know when to scale back and be sensitive, but they also know when to let loose and get wild without losing control. I love the fact that out of the six singers, all six have weapons that contribute to the group's arsenal and can "smack you right in the mouf" at any given time!

I'm really proud of NOTA and I hope to get to know them and work with them if I ever get the opportunity!

In other news, today is my sweet mother-in-law's birthday. I won't give her age (for my own protection) but I'll say she doesn't look a day over the age she was yesterday!
Happy Birthday, Cathy! Congratulations for making it around the sun one more time! Love you lots!!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

GOOD READING

As you may or may not know, I like to read different blogs, books, articles, and all kinds of other stuff. I want to share some of the things I'm reading in hopes that you might be encouraged by something on the list.

I recently finished reading More Than Enough by Dave Ramsey and it has totally changed my thought patterns about money management. Great book for those who are financially stable, financially destitute, and everyone in-between.

Before that, I read Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, which is changing (for the much better) the way I try to give my love she desires and deserves. If you're married (husbands and wives both), this is a must-read-and-do!

I just came across this post from Compassion International's blog that I found to be very uplifting.

I'm nearing the end of Every Man's Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. I read it about three years ago and found it to be some of the best artillery available in the battle for sexual purity. Now that I've been married for nearly a year, I felt it necessary to refresh my memory and take every measure possible to love my bride better. I highly recommend this book to every man who has ever in his life struggled with sexual sin. Of course, there are books in the "Every Man" series geared for all generations of men and women. Please, if you value your family and the future of God's people, read this book and put its principles into practice. When it's all said and done, you will be more than glad you did.

On hold, I have Lord, Save Us From Your Followers by Dan Merchant, which has also been made into a movie. I have read the first couple of chapters and plan on finishing it within the next couple of weeks. It's thought-provoking to say the least. So far, I'm really convicted to try to love people more like Jesus would instead of the way I would. I'm diggin' it!

I plan on sharing other good reads when I get the opportunity. Hope you will check out some or all of these suggestions.

Have you read anything good lately?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Monday, December 21, 2009

THE JESUS - SANTA CONNECTION

'Tis the season to go crazy trying to remember what "the season" is all about. Maybe this will help.



So, who do you prefer - Santa or Savior?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Sunday, December 20, 2009

MY SISTER'S KEEPER

Steph, Gabby and I watched a fantastic movie today - "My Sister's Keeper".
What a tear-jerker! Of course, I wasn't crying, but the girls surely let the tears flow! If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend that you do.

The movie brought to mind several questions:

How would I react if my child had a terminal disease like leukemia?
Would I do everything in my power to keep my child alive, or would I let the Lord take my child without a fight?
Would I have a "test-tube baby" so I could have "spare parts" (bone marrow, rare blood-type, kidneys, etc.) for my sick child?
Would I allow my selfish nature to dictate the way I treat other people, especially my family?

Then I thought to myself, "Don't I act that way about my selfish desires anyway?" Thankfully, it's not about my sick child. Unfortunately, there are plenty of other things over which I act selfishly and really need to stop. There are plenty of other things over which I disregard the feelings of other people for my own gain. There are plenty of other things over which I lose my ever-lovin' mind!

These are the things for which I truly need God's grace. Fortunately, and undeservedly, He has already given that grace to me and to you; grace in the form of a man - Jesus. And I am forever grateful!

Have you noticed God speaking to you in unique ways (e.g. movies, friends, books, road signs, etc.)

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Saturday, December 19, 2009

REACTIONS SPEAK VOLUMES

What do you do when someone has done you so wrongly that you want to do them harm instead of showing grace? Steph, Gab and I are dealing with just such an issue, and we have been for several months now. In order to preserve my family's privacy, I won't go into detail about this issue. However, I will say that it gets more and more difficult to forgive the more we deal with it.

Jesus said to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." (Matt. 5:44-45a - NIV) I'm finding that more and more difficult to do every time I'm wronged. Jesus answered that one, too:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

(Matt. 18:21-22 - NIV)

What an incredibly difficult concept to grasp when you're in the heat of the battle.

Maybe this video will help us understand the concept a little better:


How easy is it for you to forgive, and how often do you practice it?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'M KEEPING MY MAN-CARD


This one is for the men, namely husbands. I'm going to ask one question at the end of this post that is intended to make you guys take a good hard look at yourselves and get real.

Now, I'm going to share something that a lot of guys wouldn't dare exposing. But then again, I'm not a lot of guys. Anyway, I wanted to show Steph how much I love her, so I did something I thought I would never do. I mean, I thought I could possibly talk my way out of it, or avoid it for a long time, but it was inevitable.

Tonight, for the first time in my life, I sat through the entirety of "Dirty Dancing."

You can say what you want about me, but I just made my wife extremely happy and that matters more to me than your opinion of me!

And I still have my Man-Card!!

So, here's my big question to all of the men who actually took the time to sit through this post:

What have you done lately (or will you do...or should you do) for your wife that might otherwise get your Man-Card revoked?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

THEY GROW UP SO FAST!

Last night was a first for us. Steph and I (and Anthony) witnessed Gabby's very first orchestra concert! She did a great job, as did all of the students. For having played only 3 months, give or take, they are really coming along well. Even though you can't really see Gabby up close (she's on the front row with the blond hair that looks a little extra bright, like she's an angel...which she is!), I just had to share the clips from the concert. We are so proud of her, but she is growing up way too fast!

Mama and I love you very much, Sweet Pea!




Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

THE SING-OFF, 3rd ROCKIN'

Before I talk about tonight's show, I want to point you to my darling bride's blog. She has been writing a lot of great stuff lately and I'm proud of her. Go check it out!

Somebody turned up the thermostat, yet again, tonight on The Sing-Off! This time, it was all about classic, feel-good, blood-pumping, nostalgic, great music. Three of the groups sang twice, but only one, MAXX FACTOR, sang once. First, they sang medleys from some of the most famous musical acts in the world. Then, those who remained performed songs chosen by the judges. I'll touch on each group quickly and then share my favs.

THE BEELZEBUBS tackled the music of THE WHO and did it very well. I loved the diversity of their soft, somber intro to the powerful, fiery finish. The judges selected Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond for the 'BUBS to sing. What a great choice for them, and the roses they gave to Nicole Scherzinger added a sweet touch to a smooth performance.

MAXX FACTOR gave us a charming BEACH BOYS medley. It was ambitious and quite fitting for their voices and vocal style. I thought it was their best performance on the show. Unfortunately, it was not enough to keep them there. I do like them (even if some of you don't...which is totally cool either way) and I wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

NOTA broke out with a medley from one of my favorite groups of all time, THE JACKSON 5. Unfortunately, I got home a few minutes late and missed their performance. I only caught the judges critique, which was nothing but praise, so I know they killed it. When they got their song that was selected by the judges, Sledge Hammer by Peter Gabriel, there were some guys in the group who didn't konw the tune. Although their performance communicated their slight discomfort, they were very professional and even more funky!

THE SOCALS rocked us with the music of JOURNEY. I can confidently say that that performance was their best and most entertaining of the competition, although their Kelly Clarkson tune from last night was pretty fantastic, too. Sadly enough, their rendition of THE BANGLES' Hazy Shade Of Winter fell a bit short in performance value, and caused their departure from the show. I wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

VOICES OF LEE presented a beautiful medley of the music of THE BEATLES. There were times when I felt like their arrangement sounded reminiscent of TAKE 6. Outstanding! Since their signature style is "inspiriational" music, the judges chose Michael Jackson's Man In The Mirror for them to sing. Musically, they were spot-on. However, for those of us who know the original, we know that there is an intensity and drive to the song. Their arrangement, although very good and personalized, didn't lend itself to that same intensity and drive. Even so, they did a tremendous job!

So, which group or groups did I like best? I'm glad you asked. I loved the VOICES OF LEE for their soulful, warm, rich sound, but I had to vote for NOTA. The unique Latin vibe they bring to each tune, plus their sheer funkiness did it for me. They know very well how to groove and, well... you know I gotta have groove!

Which groups did you choose and why?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

THE SING-OFF, 2nd TIME AROUND

The competition in NBC's "The Sing-Off" heated up quite a bit tonight. Those of us who watched the show saw and heard dramatic improvement from all of the a cappella groups, undoubtedly making the judges' jobs much more difficult than last night.

Since I only got to review three groups last time, I'll review the other three groups of the six who competed tonight.

NOTA
This Puerto Rican sextet is so much fun to listen to. Their arrangement of Down by Jay Sean was peppered with some very tasty latin flavor, and their treatment of the BeeGee's Stayin' Alive was right on point. I truly didn't miss the band at all. It was rockin'!

NOTEWORTHY
These "nine white girls from Provo, Utah" put a lot of heart and soul into their performances of Coldplay's Viva la Vida and Wilson Phillips' Hold On. This group consists of, I'd say, about 8.5 sopranos, one alto, and two beatboxers who double as lead singers. Very unique configuration. They have a lot of energy and likability, but unfortunately they were eliminated tonight. I wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

VOICES OF LEE
These ten men and women from Lee University in Cleveland, TN were in great form tonight. The emotion they created in Alicia Keys' No One could be felt through the TV, and they were right at home with the gospel feel of Freedom 90 by George Michael. They were able to stick very closely to what they do best, and it really showed tonight!

Tomorrow night's performances feature songs from legendary musicians like The Jackson 5 and The Beatles. I am certainly looking forward to the next show.

Any of the groups catch your attention tonight?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Monday, December 14, 2009

THE SING-OFF

Kudos to NBC for bringing to light the not-so-well-known world of a cappella music by producing The Sing-Off. Hosted by Nick Lachey, and with judges Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men, Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls, and solo artist and bandleader Ben Folds, the show consists of eight a cappella groups from all over the country competing for the prize of $100,000 and a Sony recording contract. This show provides some good exposure for the genre that I have loved my entire life. It proves that it's not as easy as it sometimes sounds. It challenges the listeners' ears to break out of their comfort zones of pop music, or what we might hear on the radio (repetitive, droning songs that are auto-tuned all to pieces), and makes us listen in a whole different way.

Since I didn't get to see the first three groups tonight, I cannot give a complete review. Instead, I'll give my thoughts on a few of the groups I got to hear and leave the rest for you to make comments (If you comment on this post, just make sure to be kind, please. After all, they are people who have feelings just like us. Let's treat them like Jesus would).

THE BEELZEBUBS

For us Christians, they have a very unfortunate name. However, for the entire audience, they had probably the most charisma, energy, and stage presence of the night. This group of fourteen young men from Tufts University in Boston, MA carries on the tradition of their predecessors from the 1960's by performing the most current music in the most ancient form of music - singing. Just singing. Their rendition of The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour was very difficult, very courageous, and despite the "pitchy" moments, very fun to watch!

MAXX FACTOR

This group of "soccer moms" were the most unique ensemble of the contest. Regardless of anyone's opinion of "barber shop" music, this group was definitely talented and they earned their spot on the show. Their harmonies were spot-on and, although the lead voice did get covered up occaisionally, their version of Dancing Queen by ABBA was delivered with their own unique flair!

THE SOCALS

This group of USC alumni is the only mixed ensemble I got to see. They had a little minor trouble finding their pitch center, but their choreography and stage presence made up for that. Their arrangement of Queen's Somebody To Love showed their courage to do very difficult music with very difficult movement. Given their circumstances, I thought they did very well.

I hope to write more about this show tomorrow night after it airs. It's really neat to hear other groups from around the country do the same genre of music as I do. It's rare to see, but I love it!

Which groups did you like and what did you like about them? Remember, be nice!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Sunday, December 13, 2009

HE IS THE CHRIST, THE SAVIOR, THE MESSIAH



Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Friday, December 11, 2009

THE GREAT BICENTENNIAL

Okay, so it's not really a bicentennial, but it is a milestone for me. 200 posts only took me about four years to do. Here's a huge "Thank You" to all of you who have visited my blog over the past four years (Actually, the four year anniversary is January 13, 2010. Stick around and I might do something fun for that... Who knows?).

My last couple of posts were "Top Ten" lists leading up to the end of the year and this post. If you got to read them, I hope you enjoyed them. If not, I still hope you enjoyed them! A few posts back I said I would post a list of my top ten posts based on your feedback. Since I got so much feedback (Thank you, Baby and Tim), I had to choose most of the following list myself. There were a lot that I really liked that didn't make it onto this list. However, I think this one is pretty solid. Therefore, I hereby present,

"Rob's Top Ten Blog Posts: The Completely Biased Version (CBV)"

10. Ten Guidelines
9. R.A.K.
8. Brilliant, Bloody Brilliant: A Magic Moment from Colorado
7. Pray On, Sister!
6. Joy, Pain, Fear, and Perseverance
5. Honoring The Fallen
4. 16-13
3. Me: New and Improved
2. I Love My Wife!
1. My King!

Thanks, again, for reading my blog. I hope you are encouraged in some way by it. That's its whole purpose - encouraging, uplifting, entertaining, and hopefully glorifying God.

Blessings to you and yours. Remember, life goes on with or without you or me. Make it the best life you can by the grace of God.

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Thursday, December 10, 2009

TOP TEN, part 2 (post #199)

We are down to the wire, folks! This is the last post before "The Big 2-0-0" and I am pumped! This is also your last chance to tell me if you have any favorite posts. So far, besides my lovely bride, Tim H. is the only person to give me any feedback. If you're going to comment, now's the time...after you read the rest of this post!

This one's a "two-fer" - two lists in one post. I started to just do one list, but I couldn't decide which one I wanted to do more, so I decided to do both. You're welcome.

If you've been reading my blog for very long, you know that I love a good quote. There have been many quotes that have given me great inspiration, made me laugh until I wanted to cry, made me question my life. Here is a list of ten of my favorites (of course, there are plenty more, but these are the ones I thought of right now):

10. "If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
9. "His unconditional love motivates her respect. Her unconditional respect motivates his love.'"
- Emerson Eggerichs, Love and Respect
8. "Men and women aren't equal, they are complementary."
- Dave Ramsey
7. "Temptation - it's everywhere. Everywhere!"
- Believe It by Tower Of Power
6. "I am so blessed to be counted worthy of this."
- Pastor Matt Chandler, after being diagnosed with a brain tumor
5. "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians; they are nothing like your Christ."
- Ghandi
4. "Enemy-occupied territory - that is what this world is."
- C. S. Lewis
3. "Git somewhere and saddown! Where yo' mama at anyway?!"
- Madea
2. "The most dangerous man in the world is the man with no hope."
- Dr. Brent McCall
1. "Men and women belong to different species and communications between them is still in its infancy."
- Bill Cosby


One of our family's favorite hobbies is watching movies (You should see our DVD collection!), so it's only natural that I list ten movies that have influenced me this year. Again, there were plenty more that I wanted to list, but there's only space for ten...this time. Here goes:

10. The Secret Life Of Bees
9. Austrailia
8. We Are Marshall
7. Seven Pounds
6. Madea Goes To Jail
5. Slumdog Millionaire
4. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
3. Why Did I Get Married?
2. Michael Jackson's This Is It
1. Faith Like Potatoes








Seen any good movies or heard any good quotes lately?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

TOP TEN, part 1 (post #198)

In anticipation of my 200th blog post (Only two left; Have you voted on your favorite posts yet?), and the end of 2009, I thought it would be fitting to make some "Top Ten" lists of things that have inspired me or encouraged me or flat out made me happy this year.

Since I'm a musician, I'll start with one of my favorite categories: influential songs. These songs, (I think only one of them came out this year), had a big impact on me in one way or another. Let's do this!

10. Clean Slate - Tower of Power
9. Man in the Mirror - Michael Jackson
8. Keep Marchin' - Raphael Saddiq
7. Money Don't Matter 2 Night - Prince
6. Yes, I Do - Me (I wrote it for our wedding)
5. My Girl - The Temptations
4. For Once In My Life - Harry Connick, Jr.
3. Worthy Is The Lamb - Darlene Zchesch
2. Blessed Be Your Name - Matt Redman/Tree 63
1. All I Need Is You - Hillsong United

Any influential songs in your life this year?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

HE LOST (and I called it!)


Ladies and Gentlemen, congratulations are in order for the new Biggest Loser, Danny Cahill from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I am truly amazed at Danny's progress. He went to the show in a last-stitched effort to lose weight and regain life.

His starting weight was 430 pounds. That's two of me plus 60 pounds!

His weight at the finale was 191 pounds.

Danny Cahill lost 239 pounds in seven months!

(By the way, Steph and I totally called it that he would win!)

As amazing as that is, hunger in America is running rampant. One in six Americans is struggling with hunger right now. America! The "land o' plenty" is not proving to be very plentiful to those in deep need. And we thought we had to go to third world countries to find that kind of poverty.

So, what are you going to do to help fix it?

My family and I have joined the Biggest Loser Pound For Pound Challenge. For every pound you pledge to lose through June 30, 2010, the Pound For Pound Challenge will donate 14¢ to Feeding America® — enough to deliver one pound of groceries to a local food bank. How cool is that?! We have already made our pledges. Click here to make yours.

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate (because dark chocolate is healthier!)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

KAIROS: OKC

Something new is happening in Oklahoma City. By the grace of God the Aca-fam has set out on a new adventure that is exciting, to say the least. We have planted a new church! When we lived in Nashville several of us went to a worship service on Tuesday nights called Kairos (in Greek: "a unique moment in time"). At Kairos we were led in worship by a great team including Michael Boggs (Tulsa native and member of FFH), Melissa Greene, Anthony Evans, and many more. Our hearts and minds were taught the word of God by Mike Glenn. It was a great time!

When we moved to OKC, we missed Kairos. We tried different churches, and we liked them, but we didn't quite feel at home with any of them. We felt at home at Kairos. Zac and Lacey George, along with Steph and I, had been talking about starting Kairos here once we got settled in, but couldn't find a good time to do it. Then it occurred to us: "Since we don't have a church home, and we often travel on weekends, why don't we just do it Sunday mornings when we're in town?!" We settled on the "scriptural" time of 10:00 AM and Kairos: OKC was born!

Since most of us have a Church of Christ background, and we are affiliated with Oklahoma Christian University, a school associated with Churches of Christ, we do our services with a slight Church of Christ feel. We break bread together every time we meet, we (usually) sing a cappella, we read scripture and hear the word of God, we encourage one another. We don't call ourselves "Kairos Church of Christ" or any other denominational name. We are simply Kairos: OKC, a church that loves God, loves people, loves Oklahoma City, and is eager to serve however we can.

We started with ten people. Maybe we'll grow, maybe we won't. Either way, the name of the Lord of lords and King of kings will be praised here! We would love to outgrow our little Community Center. If you're in OKC on a Sunday morning around 10:00 in the morning and need somewhere to worship, swing by OC. We'd love to worship with you!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Monday, November 30, 2009

ROCK THE VOTE!


As we approach the end of the year (can you believe it?) I had a brilliant idea (or at least it was brilliant in my mind). I am now only five posts away from 200. In honor of the new year and so many posts, I'd like to make a request. If you have been reading my blog and like it (or even if you don't like it all that much), now is the time for you to give feedback. Take a few minutes and look through my archives (located on the left of your screen) to find your favorite post. When you have made your decision, post your answer in the comment section of this post. I'll tally up the votes and post a "best of" list on the 200th post.

Let the voting commence!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Sunday, November 29, 2009

RECHARGED

Steph, Gab, and I spent a few days with my great friend, Blair Fowler, and his beautiful family. We had such an amazing time relaxing and catching up with each other. Steph and Courtney (Blair's wife) talked "shop" about nursing stuff, Gabby played with Brock and Ollie (the kiddos) quite a bit, and Blair and I got to watch a lot of football! Here are a couple of pics of where they live:




After having been with the Fowlers for a few good days, we headed up to Borger to visit my folks (I'm still looking for some good pics of them, so bear with me). Please, if you think about it, say a little (or humongous) prayer for my dad. He's every bit of 90 years old, and his body seems to be breaking down more and more every day. As he struggled to get up out of his chair and to the bedroom to put his shoes on, he looked at me and said, "Son, I bet you never thought you'd see me moving this fast, huh?" At least his sense of humor isn't breaking down.

I ended up preaching in his place this morning because he didn't have the strength or energy to get ready for worship service. That's very unlike him. I mean, we're talking about a man who preached his own mother's funeral. We're talking about a man whose doctors told him to stop preaching and he refused. It kills me to see him so feeble. Please pray for him and for my family.

Now that we've gotten a little Sabbath and are recharged, it's time to finish the year strong! I hope and pray that your year finishes strong as well. Dig into the Word and keep your mind open to its guidance. All the best!!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

GIVE THANKS



Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.
(1 Chronicles 16:8)


Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
(Psalm 100:4)


Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.
(Psalm 107:21)


But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57)


Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate... and Thankfulness!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ENOUGH

Are you content? Do you have all you need? What else do you want?


Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Monday, November 23, 2009

41-13


Although this post is a couple days late, it's not too late to get your guns up!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Saturday, November 21, 2009

SIMPLE PLEASURES


I love watching Gabby get so excited about staying in a hotel room. Ever since she found out we were staying at a hotel this weekend, she has been planning what she wants to do, and it's adorable. When we first got here, she claimed "dibs" on the drawers because she loves unpacking her bags. Since then, she has been on top of everything, including the schedule. She was the first one awake this morning (five minutes before the alarm), so she quickly jumped in the shower...before she realized there was no bath soap in the shower! So she went to the front desk to ask for soap, extra towels, etc. Now, at 8:35 AM, she's watching Saturday morning cartoons on the nice hotel flat-screen, waiting for us to be ready so we can go eat breakfast before we have to leave to go to the venue for today's concerts.

It's the simple pleasures that make life so much fun!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Friday, November 20, 2009

ON THE ROAD AGAIN


On the road again
Just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again

On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been
Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get on the road again





On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We're the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way and our way

Is on the road again
I just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again
And I can't wait to get on the road again



© 1980; Full Nelson Music

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

SEE YOU IN SAGINAW!


For those of you who didn't know, or haven't been paying attention to the calendar, or don't really care either way, I wanted to let you know that the group of knuckleheads (and the 2 old guys) pictured above will be performing for the last time this year on Saturday and Sunday. This Saturday, we'll be at the Saginaw Church of Christ in Saginaw, TX. This will be a unique day for us. We're doing two concerts that day: at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM.

Then, on Sunday, we'll be heading down to Riesel, TX for a 7:00 PM concert. This concert was recently added as a community concert, so it's not on the Acappella website event calendar, but I'm sure people could find out where the concert will be if you ask around. The town is just the right size to find these types of things out easily!

If you live anywhere near either of those places and would like to see us (and meet Roo & Goo), this is a great opportunity!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

JUST BE YOU

My little girl loves this song. She's been singing it for the past few weeks now, so I thought I'd share it with you. I hope it speaks to you (both male and female) in a way that will touch your soul and open your eyes to what God has in store for you.



Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

YOU GOT A FRIEND IN ME

Friend 3: Brandon Scott Thomas
- I don't really know Brandon very well, and I don't have a hilarious story about him. What I will say is that he is a special guy and I'm glad to call him brother and friend. For the few of you who may not know, Brandon is one of the best worship leaders I know. He has been leading worship with the Zoe Group for over a decade and is still doing a marvelous job of leading people to God's throne. It's because of Brandon and people like him that I know so many great worship songs. What a wonderful way to express your passion for Jesus! Last year at the Zoe conference in Nashville was the last time I got to worship with him, but I look forward to it again someday, whether here or in heaven.

It also helps to know that Brandon is a Texan and, even though he went to my rival college (Abilene Christian University), he's still a Longhorn fan, so that takes him off the hook for being a Wildcat!

Sadly, Brandon recently celebrated his 40th birthday. If you get a chance, stop by his blog and give him some love. I'm sure he could use it!
I guess time flies when you're having fun...
Love ya, Brandon!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Monday, November 16, 2009

FRIENDS: HOW MANY OF US HAVE THEM?


Friend 2: Bryan Hackett
- I had to find the very best pic of Bryan that I could find because, besides my wife and Jesus, he's my very best friend! That wasn't always the case, though.

I'm a year older (and taller) than Bryan. He started school at WT my sophomore year and we got off to a horrible start! I'll give you the ten peso version. See, there was this girl (you know it's either really bad, really funny, or both when the story starts with "there was this girl.")... I had been dating this girl for a while at this point and she and I had gotten pretty serious. Bryan comes in as this freshman scum and immediately falls for her. Thus began the feud. Nobody won!

Over the next couple of years, Bryan and I played in the band together and sang in various ensembles together. Apparently, we couldn't get enough of each other. The problem was that we couldn't stand each other! He hated me, I hated him. We even stood next to each other and sang "praise" to God... and wanted to strangle each other!

It had ended up that the girl I was dating dumped me, he went after her... and failed, and we were both bitter. Bitter at her for not wanting either of us, bitter at each other for having gone after her, just plain bitter. Then, Bryan's junior year, along comes Susan. She swept him off his feet. It was the first time he had ever confided in me about anything, "I really like her, Rob, and I hope she likes me, too."
"Go for it, Dude. What's it gonna hurt?"
(Can we say, "Worst soap opera ever?!")

Twelve years later Bryan and Susan have a fantastic marriage and two beautiful children together, and I have the best friend a guy could ask for. Love ya, Bry-guy!



Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'M ALIVE!



Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Thursday, November 12, 2009

DON'T BE TALKIN' 'BOUT FRIENDS...

Back in the early 90's Acappella released a song called "Don't Be Talkin' 'Bout Friends" which, as you can guess by the title, addresses the way we speak of our loved ones when they aren't around to hear it. I got to thinking about the song and I said to myself, "Self, you should talk about your friends when they're not around... in a good way, of course!" So I'll talk about my friends and if they're your friends, too, you can add your two cents (or ten pesos, whatever floats your boat).

note: These are in no particular order...except that I was thinking about them in this order.

Friend 1: Blake Bergstrom
- Blake is a great dude! I really don't know him very well, but he's the type that can make friends with a fence post and have the best stories to tell about their adventures together.

I met Blake for the first time back in March when Spot (my old truck) died. Steph and I were looking for a vehicle for me and she found one on craigslist that looked like it could be good. I called the number and got voicemail...from a guy with a whole lot of energy! I immediately thought, "Youth pastor. He's gotta be a youth pastor." He called me back and wouldn't you know it...he is a pastor! Since his name wasn't on the craigslist ad, I had no idea who he was. Come to find out, he's the new campus pastor of my sister-in-law, Ashley's church, Cross Point - Nashville. Steph and I had seen him preach for the first time at Cross Point just a few weeks earlier. How crazy is that?!

In talking more with Blake, we found out he had recently moved to Nashville from Oklahoma (which was kinda weird because we were trying to decide whether we would move to Oklahoma or not). We asked him what part of Oklahoma he came from and he said, "Oklahoma City." And I, being nosey, asked, "What part?" His reply, "Edmond." That's when I knew this car was meant for us.

So, I went to test-drive the car. He had it all clean and ready to roll when I showed up. He handed me the keys and said, "Take it for a spin and see what you think." I did. As I was pulling out of his driveway he turned to me and said, "Hey, I don't know if you know who I am..." I cut him off and said, "Yeah, I do."

Yes, I bought my car from that guy! You're welcome. Love ya, Blake!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Good Stuff

I was reading some of the bloggers I follow and came across this Brandon Scott Thomas post, this Trey Morgan post, and this Blake Bergstrom post. I consider all of these guys my friends and brothers, although I have very little relationship with either of them. If you don't read any of these guys, give them a try. They just might challenge you and make you laugh out loud all at the same time! And we need that in our lives lest we shrivel up and die!

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Who Would Have Thought...

...that a Lamb could rescue the souls of men?


Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Who Would Have Thought...

...that they would win 10-3?



























Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Friday, November 06, 2009

My Book List

I have always enjoyed reading... except, of course, most of my textbooks when I was in school. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to get back to reading on a regular basis, so I have become zealous for the written word again.

I've got an interesting (at least, interesting to me) list of books that I am currently reading and planning on reading in the near future.

I am currently reading Wild At Heart by John Eldredge. I read it back in '05 or '06, so I'm re-reading it now and learning a lot about myself and how my life has changed since my marriage. I'm also learning how to love and serve my family better now; that's always helpful.

Once I finish that book, I plan on finishing Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, finally starting His Needs Her Needs by Willard F. Harley, Jr., and re-reading Every Man's Battle by Arterburn & Stoeker, and Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey. I know these books may sound boring to some of you, especially if there are younger readers of my blog, but these books are exactly what I need right now.

I am also in the process of reading through the Bible in a year again. This year, my translation of choice is the English Standard Version (ESV). My in-laws bought my wife and me matching ESV Study Bibles for Christmas last year and they have been extremely helpful to us in our walk with Christ. I've also been more interested in the Holman Christian Standard Bible and the New Living Translation this year.

How about you? What books are you reading or planning on reading? What Bible translations are you liking these days?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Thursday, November 05, 2009

And I Quote... (a double-shot)


"I don't want excuses, I want performance."
-Roger Sharp to the Mustang High School drum line after having had enough








"I'm gonna try to say this in the most manly way possible, but you smell delicious."
-Zac George to a dude after a concert in New York









Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Sunday, November 01, 2009

I Want...

I've been hearing that phrase a lot lately, and it got me to thinking, "What do I want?"

Some people want security, some want freedom, some want easy, some even want difficult.
Young people want to be older while older people want to be younger... again.
Americans want the latest gadget, Africans want the next meal.
The wealthy want more, the poor want any.

Is there something you want that you "just can't live without?"
Is there something you want that will change your life?
Is there something you want that you know you can't have?

What do you want?

I'll tell you what I want later...

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Friday, October 30, 2009

Grace Defined

Maybe this sketch will help explain the concept of grace a little better than I can. Although this video is almost ten minutes long, it's totally worth every second.

You're welcome.

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pray On, Sister!

I just read this blog and it made me feel really good... until I read some of the comments. There is a traditional belief in most churches of Christ that says women should not pray aloud if a Christian man is present. I'm gonna come right out and say it:

I OBJECT!!!

I may be way off base in my beliefs, but I honestly don't think I am. The Scriptures say that women should not have authority over men (1 Tim 2:12), which is another highly debated subject in and of itself. However, it doesn't say that women cannot pray aloud in the presence of men. As a matter of fact, doesn't Paul (the author of 1 Timothy) clearly state in other passages that we should pray for one another? I find it insane to think that he meant for us to be so legalistic as to not allow our wives or sisters or daughters to pray for us while we are present. Men, what happens when you're having a hard time with your faith and can't find the words to lead your family to God's throne in prayer? Does your family simply not pray? Somehow I doubt it. If that is the case, think about this: dads who have good relationships with their daughters who get married and move away want to hear from their daughters, regardless of whether their husband is in the room or not. When they don't, they feel slighted and unloved. Do you think our heavenly Father wants to hear from his girls on a regular basis, regardless of who else is there? I do. God always wants to hear from the women He created. It strengthens the Father/daughter bond that women need. It also promotes unity within families. That unity should spread throughout the Church and promote unity of God's family.

That's what I think about it. What do you think?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Back To Basics, part 4

So far, we've talked about our spiritual blessings in Jesus, being adopted into his family, and the grace he gives. Now, let's talk about unity.

Eph 2:11-22 (NIV)
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.


As I mentioned in the last post, we were all at one point or another separated from God. We had no part in his family, his promises, his hope. But now, since we have believed in Jesus and named him Ruler of our lives, we have been included in the family of God to share in the hope of eternal life and all the promises that come with being his children. We have been brought near to Christ by his blood, reconciled to God, and unified as a family.

"We are not foreigners, not aliens. We're citizens, members of his household.
We seek the good, misunderstood, a brotherhood living for his household.

Once we had no hope, not a will to live.
Now we are a family with so much love to give.

We are joined together to become a holy temple,
built together to become a dwelling place where God can live."

Bonus points for anyone who can name the source of that quote.

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Back To Basics, part 3

It's been quite a while since I blogged on this topic (sorry about that), so I wanted to try to catch up with Ephesians 2 and see if we can unpack this short-but-powerful portion of God's word to us. As usual, feedback/discussion is welcomed and encouraged.

Eph 2:1-10 (NIV)
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Let's break this down from the beginning. Paul is saying that we who follow Christ were not really living before we came to know Christ. We were simply existing, being led by the adversary instead of by the King. He says the adversary is the one in charge of those who are disobedient to God. We all did it. We all made selfish choices that we thought would make us happy and satisfied for the moment, not caring about the consequences of our actions or thoughts. We just wanted what we wanted when we wanted it. We didn't care about what God wanted for us. Then he calls us something peculiar, "objects of wrath." That means that we started off separated from God. That doesn't mean he hated us; he has always loved us because he created us. But it does mean that he was frustrated and angry with us because we were not at all interested in getting to know him and what he has in store for those who love and follow him. That's the way we all were.

But, since he loves us so much, he pursued us and pulled us out of the dead lives we were living and gave us new life in the name of Jesus Christ. It's called "grace."

{Let's pause here for a moment. I think one of the best explainations of grace (and mercy) was made this way:

Grace is getting what we don't deserve, mercy is not getting what we do deserve.

Mind-blowing, isn't it?}

Now, this grace that we believers have been given is a result of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. God is so kind and loving to us that he purposefully sent Jesus to become the sacrifice for our sins in order to rescue us from this age in which we live and offer us joyful, peaceful, unmatched, unending, unimaginable life!

Ain't that good news?! Can I get an "amen?"

And all of this is done by us having faith (putting our complete trust and loyalty into something or someone) in Jesus, nothing else. There is nothing that we can do to earn God's grace. It is given as a free gift to all who will accept it. And this grace is such a wonderful gift that God tells us to share the grace we've been given with those who need it. Who needs it? We all do! If we didn't, then what would be the reason for grace in the first place? Although we don't do anything to earn it, grace becomes our reaction to this gift. Part of showing our gratitude to God is sharing grace with the people that God created and placed in our lives. As a matter of fact, God prepared in advance gracious works for us to do so that we could use his gift to its fullest potential.

Is any of this making sense?

Talk to me.

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Monday, October 26, 2009

Water, Anyone?

I was checking out the Compassion International website and came across this blog. Please give it a look as soon as you can. Someone needs you now.

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Amazing Love!

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Romans 5:1-11 New Living Translation



Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One Million Strong and Growing



You, too, can release a child from poverty in Jesus' name.
Sponsor a child through Compassion International today.

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And I Quote...



"Short-term sacrifice means long-term benefits."
-Allen Smith, The Biggest Loser (season 8)



















Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate ('cause it's healthier!)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pure Joy



Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Saturday, October 17, 2009

16-13



Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Then And Now

Acappella twenty years ago...



Acappella ten years ago...



Acappella three months ago...



Isn't nostalgia fun?!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I Love My Wife!

I want to take this moment to make it abundantly clear that I have the sweetest wife on the planet! Last night I had a lot of trouble sleeping, which is super important since my alarm goes off at 5:00 AM. Stephanie knew I wouldn't be able to fall asleep by just laying there, so she stayed up with me and we talked about all kinds of stuff - our goals for ourselves, family aspirations, frustrations. We talked about our desire to live healthy lives and cut out the junk. We talked about our financial situation and how we hope to improve it. We talked about the different things that cause us fear. She encouraged me in my new work endeavors and my exsisting work with Acappella. She encouraged me as a parent. She encouraged me as a friend. Most importantly, we prayed about all of it... together. I can't think of a better best friend to have! I love you, Baby!!

Husbands, if you're not praying with your wives on a regular basis, now is a perfect time to start. Wives, if you're not encouraging your husbands on a regular basis, now is a perfect time to start. What has happened in the past is exactly that - in the past. It's time to leave it there and move forward toward the goal that God has set before us.

I'd almost be willing to bet that my wife can "out-sweet" any other wife on any given day. Any takers?

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Monday, October 05, 2009

My Resilient Heritage

Today is an important day in the Brannon family. On this day, October 5, 1941, my dad, B. C. Brannon preached his first sermon. He is the only person I know of who has been a preacher for 68 years and is still at it! Although his health is not as steady as it once was, he still manages to find the motivation to study every day and prepare two sermons for each Sunday. I was beginning to wonder if he would be able to preach any more after coming down with pneumonia around his 90th birthday back in April, but my doubts were proven wrong in August. I haven't gotten to hear him preach since early last year, but I know he still "brings it" every time.


For those of you who know some of the history of the Churches of Christ, especially black churches, you know the name Marshall Keeble. Dad was baptized by Marshall Keeble back in 1939 and began studying to be a preacher at Keeble's seminary in Fort Smith, AR.


B. C. Brannon is my hero. He has been considered a great evangelist, a pioneer in the black Churches of Christ, and (most importantly) my dad. I am so proud of my dad and the legacy he is leaving for me. Someone who is determined to keep telling the Good News of Jesus until he is physically and/or mentally unable to do so will always have my utmost respect and admiration.

Even though there are only about seven people who attend services there on a regular basis, I will always have a certain fondness for the Jim Hall Street Church of Christ. It was the church where I grew up. It was where I made the decision to follow Jesus. It was where I was baptized. More importantly, it was where I saw my daddy at work week in and week out, teaching people about the God he knows and loves.


I hope to see Dad's name on this marquis for many more years. I pray he reaches at least 70 years in the pulpit. I would love to be in full time ministry at least half of the time he has been in it. Dad taught me what it means to never give up. I hope to live out that lesson!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Praise Time!

"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
- Psalm 118:24 (NIV)


...and how 'bout them 'Canes?!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Friday, October 02, 2009

Good Stuff

I love good drumming. It's almost a weakness of mine. Since I've been back in the drumming scene, I've been really itching to hear and see some great drumming.

Well, I'm proud to say that I've found some. Thanks to my old Blue Knights buddy, Rance Costa (great contra player from back in the day), I have been able to watch and listen to one of my favorite drum lines, Santa Clara Vanguard, playing the end of "Go!" written by one of my favorite writers, Murray Gusseck.



You're welcome.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What A Loser!


This is Sean.
He's a big loser.
He has lost over 115 pounds and he's still losing.

Because he is a real man, he lost his position on the Biggest Loser ranch.
Because he is a real man, he is about to be a father for the third time.
Because he is a real man, he is traveling around the country promoting healthy living.

He's one of my favorite people on the planet!

Pray for Sean and his family.
If you know him, show him some love.
If you don't know him, get to know him.

We love you, Sean!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Come On, Get Happy!

First off, let me say thanks to all four of you who have been reading my blog! It really does mean a lot to me. Let me know what you think from time to time.

I appreciate the comments I've received lately regarding singing. Like I said before, I'm still trying to learn the truth about the Bible and all it has to teach us.

One thing I have noticed lately is the way many churches sang for a long time (and a lot of them still do). Even though there will probably always be the debate on instrumental/non-instrumental music in worship services, let us not forget that we have been encouraged to sing to God with our hearts with thanksgiving like we mean it (Eph 5:19-20). If we are rejoicing for being blessed the way we have, we should sing as such in worship. It's probably not the best idea to sing like this:


I'm just sayin'...

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Difference Is...

Before I begin answering my previous question, I want to say happy birthday to Bruce Springsteen and the late, great Ray Charles. Thanks for the great music!!

Now, on with the festivities.

The question: "What is the difference between psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs?
As a follow-up question, why does Paul make the distinction in both of these verses?"

In order to give my answer, I needed to find the origins of the words. This is what I came up with.

Word Origin & History

psalm

O.E. salm, from L. psalmus, from Gk. psalmos "song sung to a harp," originally "performance on stringed instrument," from psallein "play on a stringed instrument, pull, twitch." Used in Septuagint for Heb. mizmor "song," especially the sort sung by David to the harp.

hymn

c.1000, from O.Fr. ymne and O.E. ymen, both from L. hymnus "song of praise," from Gk. hymnos "song or ode in praise of gods or heroes," used in Septuagint for various Heb. words meaning "song praising God." Possibly a var. of hymenaios "wedding song," from Hymen, Gk. god of marriage (see hymen). Evidence for the silent -n- dates from at least 1530.

spiritual (adj.)

"of or concerning the spirit" (especially in religious aspects), 1303, from O.Fr. spirituel (12c.), from L. spiritualis, from spiritus "of breathing, of the spirit" (see spirit). Meaning "of or concerning the church" is attested from 1338. The noun sense of "African-American religious song" first recorded 1866. Spirituality (1417) is from M.Fr. spiritualite, from L.L. spiritualitatem (nom. spiritualitas), from L. spiritualis). An earlier form was spiritualty (1377).

song

O.E. sang "art of singing, a metrical composition adapted for singing," from P.Gmc. *sangwaz (cf. O.N. söngr, Norw. song, Swed. sång, O.S., Dan., O.Fris., O.H.G., Ger. sang, M.Du. sanc, Du. zang, Goth. saggws), related to sing (q.v.). Songbook is O.E. sangboc; song-bird is from 1774; songster is O.E. sangystre. Phrase for a song is from "All's Well" III.ii.9. With a song in (one's) heart "feeling of joy" is first attested 1930 in Lorenz Hart's lyric. Song and dance as a form of vaudeville act is attested from 1872; fig. sense of "rigmarole" is from 1895.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper

What I'm noticing here is that there are distinct differences between our three terms. In the original Greek, psalmos is used in reference to a song with harp accompaniment. The Greek word hymnos refers to a song used to praise God. Spiritual song was a little more complicated since it's two separate words. As I understand it, the word spiritual is used with the intention of something originating in the spirit (or given by the Holy Spirit to the human spirit). And, of course, a song in this case means music produced by the voice.

Interesting? I think so.

When Paul was writing his letters, there was no "New Testament" as we know it. The Bible Paul read was what we know as the "Old Testament" and he says twice that we should sing psalms (songs sung to a harp), hymns (songs of praise to God), and spiritual songs (songs produced from the depths of our spirits given by the Holy Spirit).

In the comments on my last post (and thanks a ton for commenting!), Shane wrote: "Here's my first lean: I see Paul encouraging and appreciating some diversity in our singing by choosing those words."

And Brenda wrote: "I believe a psalm to be a song. (instrumental or not) There are also hymns in the book of Psalms. But, in my opinion, the Psalms read more like a personal account or testimony of some sorts as to where the hymns seem to be songs written about the history of things. I think that spiritual songs are ones that are given to us by the spirit that are put on our hearts and tongues."

I think both of them are on to something here. It certainly seems that Paul is not only encouraging diversity in worshipping God, but possibly commanding it. If Gabby were to draw Steph and me a picture, we would love it. If she were to draw the exact same picture for us over and over and over again, after a while we would encourage her to draw something else for us. Something fresh. She would probably have no problem thinking of something else to draw, especially if we gave her ideas. That's the same thought process in this matter. When we worship God, I'm sure he loves us pouring our hearts out to him, but he gave us so much more creativity so that we could think "outside the box" and find new ways to worship him. That's why Psalm 40 says that God "put a new song in my mouth." He created us to be creative worshippers.

Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs. Three separate-but-equal ways to worship God. So, could that be considered as a "commandment" to worship with instruments?

Your thoughts?

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Monday, September 21, 2009

What's The Difference?

A good friend of mine posted a great blog the other day about how we, as Christians, tend to misuse Scripture. He was raked over the coals by a fellow Christian for his thoughts and reasonings. I don't know about anyone else who read the post, but I was convicted. It brought up a question that has been in my mind for years. I have my own answers to the question, but I want to see what other people think. The question comes from a couple of verses that tend to be misunderstood and, therefore, misused.

"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord..."
- Ephesians 5:19 (NIV)


"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."
- Colossians 3:16 (NIV)


My question is this: What is the difference between psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs?
As a follow-up question, why does Paul make the distinction in both of these verses?

I will give my answers soon. I would like to see what other people think.

Discuss.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wow!

I just watched this video that Trey Morgan posted on his blog and I just couldn't go without telling people about it. So, for the three of you who actually read my blog, I hope you watch and enjoy it thoroughly.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Thursday, September 17, 2009

20 Things I Learned From Mama

It was 20 years ago today
God took my Mama away
To the "land of endless day"
That sacred land for which we pray

So let me introduce to you
A list I've made from all these years
How my Mama taught me to be a man!

(bonus points if you can name that tune)

20. Always respect authority.
19. Be on time.
18. Keep learning.
17. Don't put off today for tomorrow.
16. When you go to pick a switch, make sure you pick the right one!
15. Smile.
14. You don't always have to fit in to be cool.
13. You have no business dating until you can take the girl somewhere and pay for it.
12. Be still when I'm combing your hair (yes, I actually had hair once). It'll hurt less.
11. You're never too old or too big to get a whoopin'!
10. Just because your friends do it doesn't mean you do it.
9. If you say you're going to do something, do it to the best of your ability.
8. When you are asked to help, don't complain. Just do it.
7. Treat people better than you want to be treated.
6. A hard head makes a soft behind!
5. Always be honest.
4. Jesus wept and God is love. Memorize scripture.
3. Cancer may destroy your body, but it can't harm your soul.
2. Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. (Eph. 6:1)
1. I will always love you and be proud of you, no matter what happens to me.



Shirley Mae Brannon
January 12, 1944 - September 17, 1989

See you soon, Mama! I love you!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Great Advice

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”- 1 Peter 3:8

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dad Is Great

Sometimes you just need a little chocolate cake for breakfast. You're welcome.


Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remember

Remember the families of those lost eight years ago today in your prayers.
Remember that God loves them just as much as He loves you.
Remember that "love is the power that makes everything alright."
Remember that we in the U.S. are blessed far beyond what we deserve.
Remember that "this land was made for you and me."
Remember this classic and be thankful!


Peace, Love, and Remembrance

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Need To Laugh Today

It's been one of those days.

I set my alarm for 5:15 AM (unfortunately, that's not a typo) so I could be ready to leave for my first day on the new job by 6:00. I'm noticing the older I get, the more I have to get up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break (ain't it messed up that some of us have to take breaks from sleeping?!). This morning's break happened at about 3:15. It wasn't a big deal except for the fact that I never got back to sleep. Thank you, Insomnia. So, I get up and go to work. It wasn't bad. I'm learning what all I need to accomplish with the kiddos.

Anyway, I come home and pass all the way out for an hour or so...until I have to take another break! I go back to bed and wake up to the news that there was money taken from our bank account without our permission. So, I get up and deal with that, which is a headache and a half.

Now that that's all supposedly settled, I'm cranky! I need a laugh today, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. The following clip is just what we need right now. I hope you laugh as much as (or more than) I did.



Laugh today. Just don't be "that guy!"

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Giddyup!

So, I get to start working with these guys tomorrow morning...

teaching them how to do stuff like this...

and this...

and even some of this...


I just hope that we can achieve that kind of quality!

Go Broncos!!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Monday, September 07, 2009

Laboring On Labor Day

I pray everyone has had a wonderful Labor Day today. Ours, considering some of the financial muck we're wading through right now, was truly blessed. We got to live another day and attempt to make it the best today we could make it. Gab got to hang out with Mikayla a lot today. Steph had to go to classes but didn't have any life-threatening homework. I didn't have to go to work today... mainly because I don't have a regular job yet, but I know that will change soon. Maybe this is God's way of saying to take a little Sabbath today and not labor, but instead, trust him to provide everything we need. I have every confidence that God will make the right job available at the right time. In Psalm 37:25, David says
"I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread."

There's something to be said about those of us who know God. He is always faithful and just. He always takes care of his children. He knows exactly what we need, when we need it. That's why Jesus instructed us to pray "Give us today our daily bread" (Matt. 6:11) and also, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matt. 6:34).

So, we pause to pray for those who don't have the priviledge of earning a living on this Labor Day, but we also provide this word of encouragement: don't lose heart. God is not finished working on you yet!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Great Day For Football...


BYU! BYU! BYU!

That is all.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Friday, September 04, 2009

Back To Basics, part 2

Installment #2 in our study of the new Christian walk takes us a step further into the book of Ephesians. As we discuss the following passage, feel free to add your thoughts to make this more of a discussion than a lecture (and not the most informed one at that!). I'll do my best to make sense of this for myself as well as my readers.

Eph 1:5-10 (NIV)
[In love] he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

What I'm understanding this passage to say is that God created us with the goal of us being adopted into his family. Have you ever seen a foster child who loved their foster parents so much that they asked to be adopted into that family? That's the picture here with God. He was our "foster dad" until we decided we wanted to be in his family forever. As a matter of fact, his will for us is to want to be in his eternal family so much that we make that life-changing decision. That's why he sent "the One he loves," Jesus, to die in our place for our sins and to rise from the grave, defeating death and giving us everlasting life with him! That's the best news ever!

The blood of Jesus has redeemed us, or brought us into relationship with God the Father. The blood of Jesus has been shed for the forgiveness of our sins. The blood of Jesus gives us the grace that we don't deserve, yet spares us from the punishment we do deserve. That's called mercy and I'm glad God is kind enough to give it to us. That's all part of the mystery of his will. I don't honestly have a clue why he loves us as much as he does. We don't deserve it. We do things to deny his love all the time. We deny his love by the way we treat non-Christians, the way we treat Christians, and even the way we treat ourselves.

Before I get off track, I'll close this section by saying that all this has been put into place as part of God's great plan "to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ." Someday this will all make perfect sense!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate