Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Christ follower vs. Christian



Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25 and the Search for the American Dream

Scratch beginnings I just finished this book by Adam Shepard on my vacation to Michigan.  Here's a quick review.  

I was turned onto this book by Dave Ramsey, who recommends it on his website.  

It's the true story of a young college graduate who sets a goal after 365 days to go from homeless with only $25 in his pocket and the clothes on his back to having $2500 in savings, having a roof over his head and a car to drive.  It's an entertaining story, told from his perspective. 

It made me appreciate what I have and reminded me to stop whining and complaining when I begin to think about what I don't have.  The book restored my "make it happen" attitude.  It reminded me to get back to the basics, set goals, and do everything I can to achieve them.  I highly recommend it.  I won't ruin the ending for you.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Butternut Blog

Puggle What kind of people would give away a puppy - especially one as a cute and cuddly as a puggle?  Apparently the Nordhoff family, whoever they are, would.  A friend of mine forwarded this blog from a poor puggle named Butternut.  This puppy started a blog in hopes that his "Papa Eric" would find him.  How sad?  If any of my readers know "Papa Eric" or the Nordhoffs who apparently live in a place called "Nordhaven", please contact Butternut.  


Our prayers go out to you, Butternut.  From the looks of it, you may not want to find "Papa Eric".  He sounds like a very bad person to give you away like that.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Eat For Life

To truly live, you must learn how to eat.  Here are some simple reminders of advice you've probably heard before:


Eat 5 to 6 times daily (3 meals and 2-3 snacks).  It keeps your metabolism working around the clock.

Drink at least 8 eight ounce cups of water a day.  This also helps with metabolism and keeps everything well 'lubricated'.

Understand labels.  Ingredient labels on the food we buy are sometimes really hard to read.  Simple advice: if the list of ingredients is long, it's man-made and not good for you.  

Don't eat processed and refined foods such as white flour, sugar, bread and pasta.  Complex carbs are best - such as whole grains.

Stay away from saturated and trans fats.  This means anything fried or high in sugar.  Look for healthy fats high in Omega 3 and essential fatty acids.

Control your portion sizes.  Don't eat large portions.  A general rule: anything the size of your palm or fist counts as a portion. Remember this when you want to eat a portion of vegetables, protein and carbs.  

Keep the red wine to a minimum.  Anything more than one glass a day is harmful to you.

Slow down.  This one is tough for me.  I generally want to gobble up my food.  Eating slower and chewing well is good for your stomach.  It helps the digestive process.  It also allows your body to tell you when you are full much quicker.  Allow yourself to taste and savor your food.  It will be much more enjoyable overall.

Eat with your family.  I've read studies that families that eat together stay together more often.  Eating a meal with your family will give you an opportunity to touch base and talk about all kinds of things.  It's amazing what happens if we slow down for a bit and enjoy a meal together!


GMA-ANZ HOSTS 2ND ANNUAL CHRISTIAN MUSIC CONFERENCE

GMA AUSTRALIA-NEW ZEALAND HOSTS 2ND ANNUAL CHRISTIAN MUSIC CONFERENCE

Sees 38% increase in registrations




The Gospel Music Association Australia-New Zealand (GMA-ANZ), an affiliate of the US-based Gospel Music Association, held it’s second annual conference May 28-29, 2009 in Brisbane, Australia.  The Gold Coast event saw a 38% increase in attendees this year - up from 102 registrations last year to 141 this year.    



“The standard of artistry on display during the various showcase opportunities was impressive”, says Anton Bekker, GMA-ANZ Board Member, “Our registrants were also very positive about the various workshops they attended.”



The event enjoyed top quality messages from industry leaders Mark de Jong (The Power Of A Song), Jeff  Crabtree (The Twenty First Century Christian Musician) and Roma Waterman (The God Artist - The Power Of Sound). The event also featured a special message from Dorry Kartabani, Senior Agent from the Harbour Booking Agency in Sydney, as as a last minute keynote speaker on Passion, Persistence and Perception.  The event featured showcases from the following area Christian artists: Rapture Ruckus, Trigger Theory, Lydia Cole, Magnify, Candice Long, The Smart, Chris Billing, Mark Lowndes and Nathan Eshman.



Anyone who could not attend had an opportunity to view a special 2009 GMA-ANZ Conference webcast.  Some of the content from the event will soon be will be put onto the GMA-ANZ website for members to access.



GMA-ANZ was formed on Easter Monday, 2006 when 150 people gathered in Toowoomba Queensland to express their enthusiastic support to the vision and idea of a Gospel Music Association in Australia-New Zealand.  The organization offers significant benefits to its Australia and New Zealand members including opportunities to connect, training and education, representation to local and national governments and financial discounts on music equipment, insurance and international attendance at the annual GMA Music Week in the USA.  To learn more about GMA-ANZ, visit www.gma-anz.org.
  



Thursday, June 4, 2009

Music in Recession

ChristianityMusicToday.com published a summary of the current state of Christian Music.  It is eye opening and painful to read for us in the industry.  However, it's very important for us to know the truth so we can decide where to go from here.  


I highly recommend reading it.  Here is the link:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/music/commentaries/2009/musicinrecession.html?start=1

Many of you know I'm on the Board of Directors at the GMA.  President John Styll challenged us today to review the closing remarks from Charlie Peacock at this year's GMA Music Week.  It is important again, for our realities to be checked.  This is crunch time.  Do or die.  Insert whatever cliche you'd like.  Here are his words...(hopefully with his and the GMA's permission)

Gospel Music:
Following Where Jesus Leads

GMA Music Week
Keynote Address

April 15, 2009 
It is a great honor to bring the last of the keynote
addresses here at GMA Music Week.
 
I still remember my first GMA experience 19 years ago.  I wore a black fedora, backwards.  A gold silk suit and black janitor
shoes, with chrome studs hammered all the way around the outside rim of the
shoes.
  And I wasn’t a young kid –
I was 33.
  I’d already been a
working artist for 15 years.
  I got
married when I was 18 and started figuring out how to make a living at
music.
  By the time I arrived at
GMA I had already recorded for A&M and Island Records, worked for CBS as a
songwriter, and toured as an opening act for a bunch of eighties bands you’ve
probably never heard of.
  I was the
rarest of birds back then.
  I was a
Christian who had been in “secular” music.
  There’s nothing unusual about that now.  Most of you probably don’t even know
that part of my story.
  If you know
me at all, you’re probably saying: isn’t he the guy that wrote In The Light for
dcTalk?
  Or, didn’t he discover
Switchfoot?
  Or isn’t he the guy in
the Verizon commercial?

I think I’m here today because I’m
haunted by four questions?
  What
does it mean to be an artist?
  What
does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?
 
What does it mean to the love the church through music?  And what does it mean to create
winsome, imaginative music for the common good, for people outside the walls of
the church?
 

Recently I’ve written, and been
quoted as saying, that contemporary Christian music as we once knew it is
coming to an end. I do believe that. The modern worship music explosion, as
good as it was, was a game changer.
 
It put a dagger in the heart of music with lyrics that brought a
Christian worldview to bear on a diversity of subjects.
  That shouldn’t have happened.  People kept calling worldview music
crossover, or secular, or watered down, or vague.
  The problem was that many people couldn’t tell what was
Christian about the lyrics because they hadn’t learned to think Christianly
about the whole of life.
  As a
result, worldview music went into the world to be heard.
  Now there are a hundred artists of
faith having a huge impact on popular music – you know their names. Ten years
ago when that music began to exit the Gospel music community, you could hear
many fans and gatekeepers cheering, finally they said, the Gospel music
industry is getting back to faithfulness, and phrases like “core business” or
“your base audience” were on the tips of tongues at record companies, radio,
and retail.

Today, there are new game-changers
like the economy, and a 50% drop in CD sales.
  Gospel music’s small group of genre superstars are waning in
sales and public interest – names that the GMA has depended on to magnetize the
music, to promote the genre. Their replacement crew is even smaller, and
there’s no strong indication that the rockets of the new guys will even burn as
long as their predecessors. So yes, I think we are at the end of an era. But I
don’t see it as cause for panic or pessimism, or dismissing good work when we
see it and hear it.
   It is an
opportunity for course correction though, for fresh ideas, and new faithful
dreams for the music -- AND new dreams for the ways and means that people
encounter the music.

This is a critical, fresh moment in
America’s Gospel music history.
  I
wonder though, will history show that we trusted God for good to emerge and
prevail?
  Or will history show us
enslaved to the same old relentless metric of quantity, with no room for
quality?
  Will we, in this fresh
opportunity see that it doesn’t matter how many points you put up on the board.
If you still lose by God’s standards of success, you still lose.
 

All of us that care about music, and
its distribution to the church and the watching world, have to guard ourselves
from the extremes of oversimplification.
 
We always need to critique our work and cast a vision for what the
future may hold, BUT it has to be done with
grace,
with charity, with an understanding of history, and most of all with love.
   Those in the church who pride
themselves on finding everything that’s wrong with Gospel music without
providing solutions, are just as misguided as anyone whose hysterical optimism
refuses to take a critical look. If we love Christ, his people, and the good
gift of music, then our stewardship demands that we speak out with an inspiring
vision for the future and not just words and deeds that are drenched in either
negativity or unfounded optimism. Truth telling is always in order. An absence
of faith, hope and love is not.
  

Now is the time for all of us to
lead Gospel music in new, revitalized ways. We need strong voices, leaders who
will give us radical hope in the face of inconceivable cultural change. We need
musical and business leaders of courage, wisdom and flexibility.
  What we don’t need is another
short-term vision of music designed to serve the young alone or the most
immature of believers. Instead, we need a vision for Gospel music that will
last the test of time, faltering economies, and new technologies. No
sustainable good can come from an industry with a past that cannot promise a
future. We can’t let ourselves ignore audience attrition or artist attrition
just because there’s always a new crop
of baby Christians coming up,
eager for a soundtrack to their new Christian
lives, impressed that there’s positive music safe for the whole family.
  THIS VISION IS TOO SMALL.  Faithfulness demands more.  Our people, the church of Jesus Christ,
the young, the old, all ages, deserve our best efforts in delivering into their
hands and hearts, a lyrically and musically comprehensive Gospel music.
  A music big enough, and beautiful
enough to
deserve the name, Gospel.

What we want is a remarkable demonstration of the musical people of
God, everywhere and in everything, spiritually and artistically mature and
authentic, eager to proclaim the mighty works of God in the church and the
public square, for the good of the church, and for the common good of all. I
will not rest until this is the norm for the music created by Christians
everywhere, but especially here in America.

I love this country.  America is a great nation, not in its
absence of faults, but in its presence of assets, not in its absence of
problems, but its presence of solutions. I believe that the Spirit of Wisdom
working in the lives of Christian men and
women in America
is no small thing. The spiritual and intellectual capital
of the millions of Americans that profess faith in Jesus is True Wealth. And
the faith, enthusiasm, and dreams of the people gathered in this room is no
small thing either.
  Achievements
count, but they are empty without the currency of God and the fame of Christ
crucified and risen.
  Jesus came
announcing the time has come. In the advancing kingdom, the time just keeps on
coming.
  It’s time for many things,
but most importantly, it’s time for faith, hope, and love. It’s time for
trusting that Jesus really does provide all that we need for life and
godliness.

Something good is coming. It’s not
far off. It’s coming with a demonstration of God’s faithfulness to sustain his
church and to provide for its true needs, INCLUDING MUSIC. We so easily forget
these truths about who God is.
  
We lose the Jesus/kingdom story-line. Other stories come in, they
compete for our attention, and in our weakness we exchange faith, hope, and
love for something altogether different.
But
Take Notice:
These kinds of stories have no light, no brightness, no true
quality.
  All they want to do, is
to see that you and I are scared, faithless, unimaginative, and unproductive.
Stories with this motive have leaked out of the world and into our music and
our ways of getting out to people. They divide, fill us with fears, and shake
our foundation. But this is not the time to run scared. As I’ve been saying,
it’s a good time to remember Jesus and his words--his story. His message went
something like this: Don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or drink--or
about your body, what you’ll wear.

Remember:  A follower of Jesus is one who
imagines, speaks, and acts the same whether in plenty or in want. Why? We
follow Jesus, not the money. Jesus holds the defining story for life – and HE
has all the resources to pull it off on our behalf. Like he said, we needn’t
worry ourselves.

I’ll say it again, this is the kind
of cultural moment that doesn’t come around that often. We’ve got to open up
the windows and let the wind blow through. It’s the right time for Christians
in the music industry to show through faith, hope, and love that they don’t
need a stellar economy and outdated music business models to make great music
to God’s glory.
  It’s time to focus
on Jesus, on what it means to be his kind of person in the world, and to use
the good imagination He gave us, fueled by the Holy Spirit of God.
  We’ve got some soul work to do though.

Every
generation of Christian musicians think they are
the only generation to come along and change the music for the
better, to rescue it from being “cheesy.” But you know what, tomorrow young
musicians will think that all music is dated and boring, and they will create
something THEY think is current and not cheesy, only to become someone else’s
version of cheesy ten years from now.
 
They’ll say things like: “We just wanna show people that you can be a
Christian and have fun, too.”
  Or,
“God has called us to change Gospel music, to show the world that not all
Christian musicians are irrelevant.”
 
Or, “We’re not gonna hit people over the head with the Bible. We’re not
Christian musicians; we’re musicians who are Christians.” Or, “We’re BOLD,
we’re totally sold out to Jesus. We don’t write vague, sugar-coated lyrics like
those other bands.”
  It won’t
matter what future generations say though if it’s
all retread hubris, pride, and boasting like this.  I’ve got good news for all of us.  Jesus doesn’t need us to protect his
reputation.
  He’s protected his own
reputation just fine for 2000 years.
 
It’s his people, you and me, whose authenticity is vulnerable. Let’s
concern ourselves with asking whether we look like we’ve taken the word and
work of Jesus seriously – that it’s actually changed our lives.

Popular
Christian music has been a house divided for too long.
  One half the house is so good at
competing with the world musically -- so good at describing the human condition
in all its glory and shame.
  The
other is so good at creating well-crafted music for the church and describing
the goodness of God and his salvation through faith in Jesus.
  Yet each half, each group, is always
sniping at the other, and each group at their worst, is a parade of fools.
  It reminds me of the story in 1
Corinthians where one group claimed to follow Paul, the other Apollos.
  A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Don’t
take that statement too far.
  True
Gospel music is not going anywhere.
 
You may fall, I may fall in this house divided.  But Gospel music is not going anywhere.

Do
you want to go where the music leads?
 
Then you’ve got to ask yourself some questions. Are you tired of
repeating history again and again as if you were the first to arrive on the
scene?
  There’s been a lot of
foolish, cyclical behavior in Gospel music over the last forty years.
  This must change – cease.

Are
you tired of being a cliché?
  So
predictable?
  I hope so.  It’s time for our musical community to
move from milk to solid food, from immaturity to maturity.
  It’s not about sacred or secular,
vertical or horizontal, modern worship or hymns, crossover or church, liberal
or conservative. This is the historical moment of the spiritual – now we will
deal in spiritual currency – people seeking God and a more beautiful, faithful
way of living that is holistic in scope – beyond pietism to a true
righteousness – the righteousness revealed in the person of Jesus.
  Not an American Christianity, left or
right, Republican or Democrat, but instead, an adoration of Jesus and his ways
of being human – his direction in being and doing, and reforming all things:
music and the arts, agriculture, business, education, politics, recreation,
communication, science – literally everything.
  It’s about being interested in what Jesus is interested in
and letting the music reflect those interests.
  It’s about following where Jesus leads.

Is
he leading some to deal with the fallout from genocide in Darfur?
  Tell the story in song.  Is he pointing you to the glory of his
Father, God of wonders?
  Tell the
story in song.
  Is he saving and
bringing back to life your neighbor’s sick child?
  Tell the story in song.  Is he healing marriages in the sanctuaries of our
churches?
  Tell the story in song.  Is he leading you toward good work,
giving you good things, food, laughter, baseball, sex, and marriage?
  Tell the story in song.  Is Jesus present in the praises of his
people?
  Tell the story in
song.
  Is he alive and working
everywhere and in everything, in history past, present, and future?
  Then tell the story in song.  This is Gospel music – the good news
that Jesus is redeeming all that he loves, people and place and the culture
he’s allowed and encouraged us to create.
 
There is no end to the creativity of God and there’s no corner of
reality that He is not the LORD over.
 
Gospel music is only truly faithful to the degree that it reflects this
awesome truth.
 

Because
of who God is and what He is doing, we can be sure that Gospel music is far
from being over.

Circumstances may change
But Gospel music is not going anywhere
The artists and songwriters
may change

But Gospel music is not
going anywhere

The economy may contract and
expand

But Gospel music is not
going anywhere

It may rise and fall in popularity
in America

But Gospel music is not
going anywhere

It may be known by other
names and those names may wear out

But Gospel music is not
going anywhere

Believe with me, that right now
there is an army of gifted musical artists quietly praying to God in their
hearts, revealing their desires, saying: “Oh God, how can I not serve you? How
can I not live for you--make my music for you alone, everywhere and in
everything. Jesus, grant me this great privilege to be your kind of musical
person in this world, full of faith, hope and love for you, your people, and
for those who don’t yet know you. Oh, Spirit of the living God fill me, come
with power and wisdom and strength. Give me faith to take you at your word, to
ignore the stories that make me fearful, unimaginative and unproductive. Help
me to tell a musical story with my life that says I’m following you and nothing
else. And please Lord God, send me people to help me get my music out to the
church and to world for the common good of anyone, anywhere who would enjoy it,
and be moved to praise you because of it.”

We
can never, ever forget that the life, death, and resurrection of one man Jesus
Christ, inspired the greatest body of music and art the world has ever
known.
  Gospel music is not going anywhere but forward to the new heavens
and the new earth where all God’s people will sing together:

"Worthy is the Lamb,
who was slain,

to receive power and wealth
and wisdom and strength

and honor and glory and
praise!"

"To him who sits on the
throne and to the Lamb

be praise and honor and
glory and power,

for ever and ever! 
Let’s pray as Jesus taught
us to pray:

Our Father, who art in
heaven,

hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily
bread.

And forgive us our
trespasses,

as we forgive those who
trespass against us.

And lead us not into
temptation,

but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory. for ever and ever. Amen

Praise God, from Whom all
blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures
here below;

Praise Him above, ye
Heavenly Host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost. Amen.

BENEDICITON:  I pray that the grace of our Lord Jesus
be yours today and in every waking day here on earth.
  May the Lord cause your love to increase and overflow for
each other.
  May he strengthen your
hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and
Father when our Lord Jesus comes.
 
May the God of peace, equip you with everything good for doing his will,
and may he work in all of us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to
whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


As an optimist, I'm very hopeful about the future.  It may only not look quite the way I envision it.  I'm very eager to meet with the Board in about 10 days to begin to see the future of Christian Music.


US Album Sales Down Nearly 18% in May

(From BillBoard.biz) ALBUM SALES DOWN NEARLY 18% IN MAY

 


Album sales in May dropped 17.8% versus May 2008, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and were 36.7% lower than May 2007. (For these purposes, the month of May 2009 was from Monday, May 4 to Sunday, May 30.) For the year through May 31, album sales are down 13.4% versus the same period in 2008 and are down 30.4% against the same period in 2007. Track Equivalent Albums (TEAs) were 13.1% lower in May 2009 versus May 2008. That was a reversal from the relatively successful month of April in which TEAs were down only 4.6%. Year to date, TEAs are down almost 7.6% versus last year. 



The flattening of digital track sales growth compounds problems that arise from falling album sales. Year-over-year track sales were up only 5%, 6%, 2% and 5% in the four weeks that comprised the month of May. For an indication of where sales are trending over the next year, look at the early adopting Pacific region of the country (as defined by SoundScan). Track sales in the Pacific are up 8% in 2009, the lowest growth rate of the eight regions. On the other coast, both the Northeast and Middle Atlantic regions are up 12%. At this time last year, the early adopters of the Pacific region had brought a 25% increase in tracks sales while the Northeast and Middle Atlantic regions were up 26% and 29%, respectively. The TEAs metric coverts digital track sales to album sales (by dividing track sales by ten) and allows for easy comparisons over periods of time. This is possible because ten digital songs have the same retail and wholesale amounts as digital albums. When looking at changes in purchase trends – as consumers buy more individual tracks and fewer albums – looking at TEAs allows for easy comparison of changes in overall recorded music spending (excluding ringtones). 



—Glenn Peoples, Nashville 




Mother Teresa Quotes

225px-MotherTeresa_090 I was at a concert last night and I reminded of a great quote by Mother Teresa.  "We can do no great things, only small things with great love."


After that, I started looking up some more quotes from her (thanks to BrainyQuote.com) Here are some of my favorites:

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.

Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.

Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.

Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.

God doesn't require us to succeed; he only requires that you try.

I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.

Jesus said love one another. He didn't say love the whole world.