Monday, July 12, 2010

Top of 2010, so far.

I think it is funny that this blog, has somehow become a way of voicing my music taste instead of anything like a life update blog. Anyways... for me, this has been a disappointing year in music. Most of my top albums I was looking forward to have been sub-par, but there has been some good ones. So, with the year half way over, here are my top of 2010, so far (in ABC order).

Beach House: Teen Dream
Damien Jurado: Saint Barlett
Gorillaz: Plastic Beach
Local Natives: Gorilla Manor
Mumfor & Suns: Sign no More
The National: High Violet
The New Pornographers: Together
The Roots: How I Got Over
She & Him: Volume 2
The Tallest Man On Earth: The Wild Hunt

Albums I still need to listen to more.

Delta Spirit: History From Below
Fol Chen: Part II, The New December
Freelance Whales: Weathervanes
LCD Soundsystem: This is Happening
Stars: The Five Ghosts
Tokyo Police Club: Champion

What about you?
What have you been listening to?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Top CD's of 2009

Top 20 of 2009
1. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
2. mewithoutYou – It’s All Crazy
3. Thrice – Beggars
4. David Bazan – Curse Your Branches
5. Antlers – Hospice
6. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
7. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
8. Mos Def – The Ecstatic
9. Noah Jones – The Fall
10. Noah and the Whale – The First Days of Spring

Honorable Mention: Top 11-20 of 2009
11. Passion Pit – Manners
12. Relient K – Forgot and Not Slow Down
13. Port O’Brien - Threadbare
14. Monsters of Folk – Self Titled
15. Rain Machine - Self Titled
16. Krs-One and Buckshot – Survival Skills
17. Old Canes - Feral Harmonic
18. The Dodos – Time To Die
19. Drake – So Far Gone Mixtape
20. Fun. – Aim and Ignite

Top 10 Songs of 2009
1. mewithoutYou - The Beetle on the Cocount Estate
2. Animal Collective - My Girls
3. Animal Collective - What Would I Want? Sky
4. Jay-Z - D.O.A. (Death of Auto Tune)
5. fun. - Be Calm
6. Volcano Choir - Island, IS
7. Dirty Projectors - Stillness is the Move
8. Grizzly Bear - Ready, Able
9. Krs-One and Buckshot - Runnin' Away Ft. Immortal Technique
10. Passion Pit - Little Secrets

Top Ep's of 2009
1. Animal Collective - Fall Be Kind EP
2. O'Brother - The Death of Day
3. Bon Ive- Blood Band EP

Biggest Disappointments of 2009
1. Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything To Nothing
2. Brand New - Daisy
3. Kings of Convenience - Declaration Of Dependence
4. Jay-Z - Blueprint 3
5. The Most Serence Republic - ....And the Ever Expanding Universe.

Most Looking Forward to of 2010
The National
Sigur Rios
Vampire Weekend
Arcade Fire
Kanye West
Frightened Rabbit
Jónsi Þór Birgisson
Dear and the Headlights
Broken Social Scene
Saves the Day
Band of Horses

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Last Two Months

As I sit in my old favorite coffee shop in Glendora I can't help but reflect on the things that have come to pass over the last two and half months. I have moved from Glendora to Moreno Valley, back into my parents house. Out of my parents house to Tustin only a little over two weeks ago. Now I find my self back from where I use to be, sitting in Classic Coffee in Glendora, where this last summer I spent a majority of my time.

My time spent at my parents house was really good. It is what I will refer to over the rest of my life as, "my time of two months rest." As much as I loved living at the 702 house in Glendora, after moving I realized how unhealthy my life style had become, by no other persons fault but my own. Spiritually I was just exhausted and far from where I needed to be in order to best serve others in ministry. Ultimately I think God knew this all along, because on the eve of me moving into my parents house I had somewhat of an spiritual actualization through reading the great Henri Nouwen. Upon reading Nouwen, I decided to enter into a time of spiritual renewal. I spent time alone with God, working out, reading, and a lot of time with family and loved ones in hopes of re-energizing myself. This time was not easy, I realized a lot of things about myself and how I had created some unhealthy habits in my life. At the same time, I am not prefect after this time. I still have a lot of things I have to work through.

About two months after being in Moreno Valley, applying for church jobs the whole time, I finally received a call to join a community in Irvine. At first this job was not my first choice. It was only part-time and while it paid very, very well, it was not my ideal. Little did I know the my ideal was not God's. After many meetings and conversations with the pastoral staff and members of the church I was hooked. While I realized that the community was not prefect in any fashion, what was important and what stood out where the people's hearts. The staff cared more about my heart, my passion, my visions, and my relationship with God and others than if my theology aligned completely with theirs. As the head pastor Jim said to me, "We can talk about theology, but what is important is your heart, no matter how hard you argue you can't change someone's heart."

After receiving the call and taking with friends and family it was clear, as my friend Casey and Sarah told me, "I just need to do this." More than anything, God showed me this was a move I needed to make. Not because it made sense or because it was exactly what I wanted, but because it did not make sense and it wasn't what I exactly wanted. It is in this way that it became clear that God opened this door and I was to walk right in. I knew I needed to find a place to live and another part-time job to help me life but I just had faith that if this is where God wanted me he would provide. A week later I had a great place to live in Tustin with friends of mine, not strangers, and another job where I would make enough money to live with just the right hours.

Now two weeks into the job, it has not been easy. There have been a lot of changes, questions, and struggles in my mind and heart already, but I know that God is there. I have had a peace with connecting to students that I never had at Baseline. During my first Sunday, as I introduced myself to my small church plant of 150, I was calm not nervous. As I sat talking with kids at my new church community who have been really hurt by their past experiences at the church, they where open and really honest for where they were at in life. And even after my first break down with Katie about how am I going to get all the thing done I need to in only 25 hours a week, I am good.

I know that this new place in my life will have its struggles and hardships but looking back I can see the work of God and that gives me comfort. I know I am in a community on the forefront of a lot of change (changing lead pastors, changing denominations, changing community visions) I know that God is present in times of change. In ending I thank you all who read for your support, care, and love; May God bless you can keep you and allow his face to shine upon you as you serve the God of who is working to redeem his creation.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A New Blog

I am starting a new blog! But don't worry that does not mean that this one will come to an end. My new blog will be focused more about youth culture, things that effect today's families, and ministry. The hope is that this blog will be conversation more than anything, especially since I know I don't have all of the answers just some good ideas and more questions. This blog will be more for personal interaction and updates then for ministry topics or conversation. So I hope you follow my new blog also and still follow this one as well. Blessings to all. Hopefully more posting to come soon as life happens. Until then here is my new blog on Youth Culture and Ministry I hope you enjoy and join in:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"The King Beetle On A Coconut Estate"

One of my favorite bands over the last 5 years has been mewithoutYou. Now only do they make amazing music and put on one of the best live shows I have ever seen in my life, but they are an amazing group of people and those who believe work diligently with the Spirit to manifest the Kingdom of God in the world. One of their songs from the their newest CD "It's call crazy, It's all false, It's all a dream, It's Alright," has been stuck in my mind and I have meditated on it a lot as of late. I wanted to share the words to the song in hopes of you who read finding as much grace, love, and wisdom in the song as I have. Blessings to all.

Track 10: "The King Beetle On A Coconut Estate"

As the Moon rose and the hour grew late, the day help on a Coconut estate raked up the dry leaves that fell dead from the Trees, which they burned in a pile by the lake.
The Beetle King summoned his men, and from the top of the Rhododendron stem: Calling all volunteers who can carry back here, the Great Mystery's been lit once again.
One Beetle emerged from the crowd in a fashionable abdomen shroud, said: I'm a Professor, you see, that's no mystery to me...
I'll be back soon, successful and proud.
But when the Beetle Professor returned he crawled on all six, as his wings had been burned, and described to the finest detail all he'd learned.
There was neither a light nor a heat in his words.
The deeply dissatisfied King climbed the same stem to announce the same thing, but in his second appeal sought to sweeten the deal with a silver Padparadscha ring.
The Lieutenant stepped out from the line as he lassoed his thorax with twine, thinking: I'm stronger and braver and I'll earn the King's favor.
One day all he has will be mine!
But for all the Lieutenant's conceit he, too, returned singed and admitting defeat: I had no choice, please believe, but retreat...
It was bright as the sun, but with ten times the heat!
And it cracked like the thunder and bloodshot my eyes, though smothered with sticks it advanced undeterred.
Carelessly cast an ash cloud to the sky, my Lord, like a flock of dark, vanishing birds.

The Beetle King slammed down his fist: Your flowery description's no better than his!
We sent for the Great Light and you bring us this?
We didn't ask what it seems like, we asked what it IS!
His Majesty's hour at last has drawn nigh!
The elegant Queen took her leave from his side, without understanding but without asking why, gathered their Kids to come bid their goodbyes.
And the father explained: You've been somewhat deceived...
We've all called me your dad, but your True Dad's not me.
I lay next to your mom and your forms were conceived, your Father is the Life within all that you see.
He fills up the ponds as He empties the clouds, holds without hands and He speaks without sounds, provides us with the Cow's waste and coconuts to eat, giving one that nice salt-taste and the other a sweet.
Sends the black carriage the day Death shows its face, thinning our numbers with Kindness and Grace.
And just as a Flower and its Fragrance are one so must each of you and your Father become.
Now distribute my scepter, my crown and my throne and all we've known as 'wealth' to the poor and alone...
Without further hesitation, without looking back home, the King flew headlong into the blazing unknown!
And as the Smoke King curled higher and higher, the troops, flying loops 'round the telephone wires, they said: Our Beloved's not dead, but His Highness instead has been utterly changed into Fire!!!

Why not be utterly changed into Fire?...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Moving: from "loneliness to solitude?"

Today I woke up at my parents house for the first time in a long time without a predetermined date of leaving. Over the last eight years I have lived in community with others - for the most part - but now I do not. Saturday I moved out of the house I had lived in for four years to move back home to Moreno Valley and into my parents house. The main reason for this move is because it will allow me to save money as I look for a job. While my parents are doing all they can to make this move easy on me, it has still been and will continue to be hard because other than my parents, I do not have any form of community where I now live. All of my close friends over the last eight years live at least a 45 minute drive away from me. On top of this Katie, my love, lives an hour and fifteen minutes away.

As I was packing up my stuff I came across a book a old friend of mine told me to read by one of my favorite authors, Henri J. M. Nouwen. The book is titled, "Reaching Out: The Three Movements of The Spiritual Life." As I started to put the book into the endless box of books something stopped me. I pulled the book from its space between cardboard walls and it's paper back bound friends and placed it on top of a pile of the to be read. Today, as I packed up my bag to go sit at a local coffee shop and read, I grabbed my four current books I am readying. Placing the books in my bag the spirit of God cried out to me within my heart for something new. I looked up to the small group of books I had placed in the "to be read box," which Saturday found their way onto the only small bookshelf I have in my current room. As my eyes panned across the book titles, they landed on "Reaching Out." Somehow I knew this was the one. I grabbed the book, replacing it for another, closed my bag and headed out.

Reaching into my bag, now at the coffee shop, I grabbed Nouwen's book and started to read..."It is far from easy to enter into the painful experience of loneliness. You like to stay away from it..." As I continued to read God began to open my heart to this present time and place I currently found myself in: a time of loneliness. In the first part of Nouwen's book he attempts to move the reader from a place of "loneliness to solitude." Reading through the book I realized that somehow I had become an American consumer cliche, filling my life with stuff such as reading, tv, movies, and even friends never allowing myself to be alone with my thoughts. Somehow in the mist of life I had crowed out my thoughts and forsook solitude for busyness and noise. Even though I swore to myself I hadn't, I had drowned out the silent voice of God with other things. Without me even knowing it, I think God has somehow forced me into this uncomfortable time and place in life. Why? Because I need to be in this time and place during this point of my least that is what it seems like for now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Community: Beauty in Diversity

Katie and I had a conversation the other night centered around our quest for community. On the heels of my last blog post and many conversations as of late with good friends, Katie and I have both thirsted more for a purposeful community with others. Even though to be completely honest both us do not feel that we have that right now, especially because in the next week and half we will both be moving home into our parent's houses. So we have decided that we will start taking up some of the practices that we hope our future community will take up. The first practice we are taking up is reading a book together in hopes of stirring up conversation among us that will help to both challenge our current points of view as well as help us grow. The second practice we have taken up is prayer. We hope and believe that this practice will allow us to focus our hearts and minds on God's kingdom purpose in the world and where and what he is calling us both to. Thirdly, we are in the process of seeking a church community that we can serve and worship. While this process is complicated by me looking for a job in youth ministry, we know that God has a place for us.

The goal of all of this is that wherever God might lead us, we might be people who manifest God's Kingdom of grace and love in the world. At the core of all of this conversation is our belief that Christianity is never meant to be done alone, but is meant to be done in community. After all as Christians we are to be a image of our God, who exists in prefect community as the Tri-une God. A community of people offers not only a place where the Kingdom of God can be manifested among a group of people, but a community offers a safe place of individuals to grow in their faith. As Thomas Malcolm writes, "Every person needs on safe place where he or she is able to stop pretending, a place of ruthless honesty and unconditional love where no one is allowed to fly underneath the radar." In this way community can challenge and help those within it to struggle, learn, and grow. This is why I really appreciate the intentional community that my friend Garret is a part of. His community is made up of people who in love can disagree while at the same time love each other.

It has become more evident to me that this is one thing the church in the post-modern world is really struggling with. It seems that somehow people believe that diversity equals the fear of "liberalism" or "heresy," which it does not (understand I am not advocating for a diversity in major theological tenets such as the doctrine of the trinity or who salvation is found in). Recently I was affect by this when I was denied from a church position because I was more open to a diversity of options within church ministry leadership. After being denied I was scared I was alone in my convictions among evangelicals who are not academics. Yet, the other day I was reading "The Jesus of Suburbia" by Mike Erre, pastor of a large church in Orange County. Mike Erre talked about the beauty of theological diversity among his church ministry staff. He said that it allowed for a fuller understanding of who God is. I really appreciated this. After all looking at the Church in the New Testament we can see that not everyone saw eye-to-eye. There were disagreements among Peter and Paul, arguments over what to do about Christian-Non-Jews, as well as other things. At the same time, is not our God diverse and unified in purpose at the same time? Call me liberal, even though I am not, but I think that the beauty of the church is found in a community of people that have a diversity of options. After all how else are we to grow if we all agree on everything?

So with that said, may whatever your community look like may it be a place of trust, a place of diversity, and a place of the beauty of God's worldwide Church.