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


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.


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).


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.


Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Friday, September 18, 2009


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 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


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...


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

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Back To Basics, part 1

A little while back I felt an urgent need to share the Gospel on this page. I wanted to give you Jesus in a way that was simple enough to understand yet relevant to what anyone may be dealing with in life at the moment. I hope it worked, even if only one soul decided to surrender to Jesus.

A good preacher-friend of mine reminds me on a regular basis that Christians often make the mistake of leading people to Christ, getting them baptized, and then leaving them to fend for themselves, not helping them grow in their relationship with Jesus whatsoever. Gotta win more souls to the Lord. Can't be wasting time teaching people how to be Christians. They just need to know!

So, I decided to try to give some help to you new Christians, and some reminders to us seasoned ones. If anyone has something to add, please feel free to leave comments (I've been feeling a little unloved in comment world anyway). Most of the Scripture references I will use, at least for a while, will be from the book of Ephesians. If you have a Bible, this is a great time to open it to Ephesians 1. If you don't have a Bible, fear not. Just click here for Ephesians 1.

And we're off... like a herd of turtles!

Eph. 1:3-4 (NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

The first thing Paul is telling us in this passage is that God is our Father and the Father of Jesus, which makes Jesus our Big Brother. But not in the way most Americans think of "Big Brother," as though someone is always watching us, waiting for us to mess up so he can punish us. In John 12:47 Jesus said that he "did not come to judge the world, but to save it." That means that even though he is always watching us, he is not watching us for the purpose of punishing us. He "chose us" to be his people and to live in a way that glorifies him before the world was even created. Before there was even an earth, he chose his teammates, and we get to be on his team!

Paul also said we have been called to live the way Jesus lived, "holy and blameless." To be holy means to be set apart for God's special purpose. When we are set apart for what God has in store for us, we give up our old way of life. We give up our old thought patterns, our old bad habits, our old way of treating people badly, our old selfishness, our old greed, our old pride, our old self and accept the new thoughts, habits, attitude toward people, selflessness, charitable, humble self that God has been so gracious to give us.

When we truly give up the old and accept the new, we get the honor of standing "blameless" before God who loves us unconditionally. John 16:33 says that we will have trouble as Christians. Becoming a Christian doesn't mean life will get easier or that you will get rich or that you won't get sick or anything of the sort. It means that life is going to be difficult, but we have the promise of eternal life with God, in complete love and fellowship with him for eternity. This life will be tough. The Christian life will be tougher. But everlasting Life trumps the worst situation anyone could ever even imagine! And for those who stand "blameless" by the grace of God, we will experience that Life!!!

How's that for hope?

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Hey Family!

I have a huge and urgent prayer request to share with you all. Please lift up my sister Rahnee (sounds like Ronnie) Williams to the Father as soon and often as you can. I received word this morning that her the oldest two of her four daughters have run away and she hasn't seen them since Friday. As bad as this is, it gets worse. She is going to be evicted as of tomorrow, September 2. At this point, she has no idea what she will do, where she will take her two young girls, how she will feed them. There is a church in Eugene, OR, where she currently lives, that is trying to help her, but there is only so much they can do at this point. I don't really know how to help other than to pray for a miracle. I know a God who still works miracles and He listens to the requests of His children. So, please, pray. It's the least you can do and the most you can do.


The Tenth Arbor-versary

September 1, 1999.
What a day.
I don't remember much of what happened that day, but I do remember this:

It was Wednesday, the third day of classes, three days before the first football game, and my first time to be drum major for the band. For some reason, I had missed about half of my advanced music theory class in the library, but I was determined to redeem the rest of my day and play well in the upcoming wind ensemble rehearsal. When I left the library, I decided to walk across the back lawn between a small grove of trees because it would get me to the Fine Arts Building faster, and I needed to be on time.

As I was walking across the back lawn of the library, between the trees, I heard something that sounded like a bowl of Rice Krispies (snap, crackle, pop!). I didn't know where the sound was coming from so I thought to myself, "Maybe I should walk a little faster."

So I did.

Maybe that wasn't the best move. The noise got louder and louder until it hit me, "That's the sound of a tree limb falling..." Then it really did hit me! I ducked and covered my head with my hand just in time for the large branch to land on my hand... and my head! It was so heavy that the weight of the rest of the limb swung down and landed on my left leg, knocking me down into a concrete ravine next to the bottom floor of the library.

This joker was huge! It was so big that it knocked my hat, sunglasses, and the backpack that I had on both shoulders completely off! It was so big that I thought it had broken my femur! It was so big that I had to be strapped to a hard board and rushed to the emergency room to make sure it hadn't done permanent damage!

I found out later that the limb was close to 2 feet in diameter, 20 feet long, and fell from about 25 feet up in the air!!! I also found out that if I hadn't ducked and covered like I did, it probably would have broken my neck and killed me... so there's that.

When I went to marching band rehearsal the next day, barely able to walk, wrapped up in bandages, the guys in the band were very encouraging and supportive. They went out of their way to make me feel welcomed back to the land of the living. It's true. They called me George of the Jungle and threw small branches at me while yelling, "Watch out for that tree!" Isn't that sweet?

All in all, it was a memorable experience. I mean, it's been ten years today and I still remember it like it was... well... ten years ago!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate