Showing posts from 2016

Making Choir Great Again

How do you make a great choir?  same way you make a great church. 
"For him (Wilhelm Ehmann) a company of singers, no matter how well-trained, can become a choir only after it has become a unique fellowship--a choral community. Singing must serve to enrich the personal life of the individual. The choral sound must not only be of a high musical standard, but it must also reflect the human and spiritual qualities of both composer and singers."
That community, when built on a foundation of God at its core, becomes a powerful asset in promoting community, and faith... and a focus on excellent things. So in my mind, a choir, is just a singing church. A church is a choir... in every sense.   #WCCstrong

Mighty Fortress = Peace

A mighty fortress is our God is about peace not war... If the bulwark never failing... Message is so simple and elegant. 
The declaration is personal... individual and collective.
When we stop abiding in Christ alone and seek refuge in ego and popularity, and yes... government.. we are exposed as the frauds which we all are... Deeply flawed, forever fighting... Foolish and even fiendishly selfish...  
When we focus on things other than Christ... and service.. we end up fighting.  
Such is our reality. In fact, this is as it always has been. The other reality is that the bulwark is there... we need only seek it and we are provided refuge.

Confidence from the journey.

Monday with #morbidobesity - as the weight loss journey continues I am struck by how much more confident I feel. I know this may come as a shocker :-) but my weight has always been my Achilles heel. I put on a good show, but the judgement was painful. Most of that is already gone.  It isn't because I have lost so much weight or look better... it is because my perception of cultural judgement has been assuaged. I know that I am doing everything that can feasibly be done to change my size and weight so the odd gazes, anxiety about chairs, seats, and travel is gone. 
Even when I'm done "people" will still think I'm fat according to some moving norm... I will know that I am as I am and anyone who doesn't like it can stick it. I should have felt this way all along I guess. I advocate constantly for personal awareness and self worth... guess I need to listen to my own sermons more often. #SpecificBelovedFirstbornChildofChrist

My Vision for the local church where I serve.

My vision for FHPC, is a small but viable and thriving faith community… ~100-200 person church with dynamic worship opportunities(great choirs of course, all ages, all abilities… bells, instruments.. etc… and partnerships in the community for arts…), and empowering Christian education classes… which emphasize the example of our lives in this region...  We need the numbers to be solvent fiscally…

We need the focus on living our faith everyday to establish a new way of doing church.  Our worship is our gift and offer to God and he will bless it.. It should be diverse… passionate and disciplined.  
In the short term, I believe that we need more families… thus more “generations” to empower us… I  and my family are committed to this reality, but for things to change… things must change… We must accept that we are not the priority for most… schools, clubs,  sports…. etc… We must compete for attention… and submit to others up to a point… 

Growth in family ministry in today’s world is a result …

Social justice for being fat

Does our culture/system oppress fat people? (America)

Maybe I need to rethink my approach to social justice? 

If I'm biased against fat, it is my issue to deal with, not the government... life is not fair, sooner we all learn to deal with that fact the better off we will be. Move on. "Always forward"

#morbidobesity is not a moral failing. 
I keep repeating that. A disease? My doctors say so... I'm working to embrace that idea.

As I think about it, I'm so proud of my friends who accept me regardless. I'm not as good at acceptance as they are... I do judge... then I smack myself... tolerance is a learned behavior for me.

I spend too much energy on discerning why I'm not like others. 
I should spend my energy focusing on how blessed I am to be specific/special as God made me.

I could be a sumo wrestler... and be revered, and respected... 

Private things: Weight and surgery

#morbidobesity  Been asked question lately about why I shared publicly of my journey and plans...  Here is what I said.

I believe in living out loud.  My decisions are for me, made by me and largely about me and of course my family.  That said, virtually everything is about service to others.  I'm not losing weight because I give a flip what others think about me, or how I look, or whether I literally "fit in"..  I'm losing weight because I need it.  I... I... I... I'm sharing because I think others might benefit from hearing and seeing my thought processes, and decisions, and journey.. ups and downs.

This is NO different from my writing about music, or ministry, or politics, or family...  My ideas are my ideas... I don't write to try and change yours.. Most often I am seeking input, and community... and opportunities..
But shouldn't I keep things like this private "they" say?
 I answer: Perhaps, but that is a choice.  It is not my choice..…

Who is this left/right?

Who is "the left" or who is "the right"?

I know people, individuals with opinions that are free to hold and discuss them. I reject these simplistic "buckets"... on principle.

I respect the people even when I don't respect the views that they hold.

 People are equal. Ideas are not.

Collectivist character assignment is a false premise. It is embraced by the foolish who wish to divide and embrace demagoguery,
 and has no place in civil dialogue or practical approaches to progress.

Yes we can.

So many people feel trapped in their neighborhoods. No Hope. No Change. They see no future. Black lives matter indeed. Rule of law matters. Facts matter. Policies matter. All lives matter and life is not fair. 

Solutions are local. Individual. Personal. 

Each of us can make a difference. When we vote... and in how we love. 
Be a part of the solution, not the problem. Yes We Can!!! 

We need fundamental change indeed.

Deplorable behavior.

Denigrating others because of their ideas is deplorable.  I myself do it sometimes, but I shouldn't and I pledge to do better. 
Division and demagoguery are destructive at every level.
Free speech allows it. 
We decide with every sentence we choose to write or say whether we will embrace and edify, abstain... or diminish ourselves.

Putting it together.

If you are adding something/someone else to manage(from drama, to personal needs, to look at me,) you are not really helping... 

Our collective contribution must be more than the sum of the individuals or we are failing. It is as simple as that when you assess teamwork, and collaboration, and service based ministry. 

To help, you have to actually help... 

Goals, leadership, communications... are critical to assembling and aligning... for ACTUAL progress... 

It doesn't just happen. From Opera Stage to the Board room... principles are the same.

Powers of Secrecy

Secrecy is applied power. "Privacy" is power. Appropriate? Of course, but when applied in an institutional setting it must be treated with great care and should be rare. Abuses cut both ways. When coupled with positional authority and policy absent discretion(intentional and measured thoughtfulness), the danger is real and benevolent intent can quickly turn. The application of power has consequences and comes with expectations for both parties, not just one.
Danger is increased exponentially when a secret document is being created as a record.  Absent context, these documents can easily be misused and abused.  Experience informs... that secrecy over time will become corrupt... as power corrupts almost always.  Questions to ask when invoking a secret proceeding. Whose power am I protecting? Is it truly required? more often than not, the answer is NO.

It is all LOCAL... in the end

--In response to so much demagoguery and mean spirited commentary in the social media channels as a result of the RNC and DNC conventions. 

Despite all of the condescending rhetoric, I and my conservative friends are not ashamed or morally compromised in any way because of our conservative beliefs and positions. (from small govt, to limited spending, to personal accountability, and restrictions on abortion) Shocking as it may seem to my liberal friends, we actually believe that we are right. No political party holds the moral high ground... there may be no such thing in politics... Framing every argument as though your position is the only morally acceptable one is highly offensive and only furthers the very division and demagoguery which you espouse to stand against.

Government has long proven that it is ineffective and incapable of legislating morality and in most cases... even basic human decency. The system is a failure... but it happens to be the best in the world... which says v…

Voice of the People

The Voice of the People is not unified, never was, and never will be... It is not represented in the media, nor on FB or any poll... Our systems allows us to unify, execute, and then adjust...

When we consider Trump vs Hilary vs Gary Johnson vs whomever... THAT is when we are using our voice.

When we vote we use our voice. Not voting... is to remain silent. Not being involved is surrender. Sheep submit. Americans stand and are heard... red state, blue state, United States...

Like it or not, Trump does represent 10s of millions of Americans... same for Hilary... Identity politics and demagoguery is only effective if we allow it to be. OUR voice is the result of the election as it is translated into practical reality... Obama is my president even though I disagree with and despise most if not all of his policies. The next president will be OUR president... or we can choose to surrender our freedoms and our voice. Stand up and be counted my friends. Think, don't just follow... Consid…

Loss of a Giant

My friend Lloyd Arriola passed away this weekend and I'm not able to deal with it yet.  I've read the hundreds of glowing tributes and condolences online as I ponder this looming void in my future.  Lloyd and I became friends through the Lasker Summer Music Festival and our close mutual relationship with Dr Charles Hulin IV.  I remember first meeting him and thinking... wow... that guy is as passionate and powerful at the piano as an opera singer... That image still stands in my mind.

We argued often about politics as we held distinctly different world views about the role of governing powers in this crazy world of ours but whenever we actually talked face to face, mano a mano, we found so much more common ground than disagreement.  His love of the SF Giants and even the 49ers drew respect from me as a long time Denver Broncos fan... I still maintain that baseball is just not that big a deal...

Lloyd,  I can't help but think of the huge volume of guttural utterances you …

Blame game

Violence is not new. The cameras are... The solution to America's violence problem is rooted in unity, honesty, leadership and cultural change... Hope and change... Transparency... Focus and peace follow.

We must have Shared grief of course... But also shared resolve for a better future... That is the only way.

If we come apart at the seams, we have only ourselves to blame. The "blame" approach solves nothing in the end. Nothing.

Many have chosen to try and blame POTUS or the media for inflaming the public... I disagree with this, although I can see the logic particularly as it applies to the President's role in leading "the people"

We need the President and the media.  Ignoring either is catastrophic.  If we do so, we aren't unaffected, we are unaware.  The violence is real. Blame is useless as it abounds. We can make a difference by engaging locally with love and dialogue and FACTS. Emotions must come into check for change.

We need the media. We own…

What difference does it really make?

I watched a good bit of the news coverage this morning regarding the release of the Benghazi "report"... Terrorist attack... 4 brave Americans died... Lots of folks to blame... Obama and Hilary lied to the American people and to the families about who did what and why... Decision cycle times were ghastly slow...Those men were in danger for over 13 hours... and help could have reached them but didn't... Obama went to Vegas rather than receive his security briefing... Obama was reelected... There is almost certainly more to this story than we will ever know... It is possible that noone "intended" to leave those Americans...(I don't actually believe that) Here is the rub... Hilary was actually correct when she said... "What difference does it really make?" If we the people can know all of these things and still support her and the administration... then we do not have honor, we are not a free country and we the peopl…

Stop them...

How about this. 

We stop worrying about stopping anyone. And start focusing on listening to the people. The name of the game is liberalism versus conservatism. Freedom vs autocracy. Integrity vs corruption. Populism is a powerful force to be reckoned with and accommodated. It affects both parties. People must be heard. 

Our political process is the greatest in the world. Let it work. Conventions and delegates and primaries and elections represent the republic. The media and social media and the Internet do not change the basic structure. We aren't a direct democracy for good reason. 


Learn my friends, and get involved... 

Elect your representatives and then trust. Enough of the conspiracy theories and politics of personal attack. 

Trust your neighbors. Talk to them. Influence them but never demand. 

Embrace respect above all.

To sing together, you must breathe together -- said the Choir Director

It is with great excitement that I announce my return to "the chair" leading a great choir in worship on Sunday mornings.  Forest Hills Presbyterian Church in Martinsville VA has a beautiful facility, but its strength is clearly in the hearts of its members.  They are beautiful people who are striving to make a difference.

I am proud to join them on mission in our area and as a light unto the world to share God's love in music and ministry.  I'll be leading their choir and sharing my heart with all who are willing to lift up their voices in song and I may even be able to use a little technology to extend our network of people beyond the walls.  I invite you to come and sing with us. Wednesday nights at 7pm... and in worship on Sunday mornings at 11.  

We will love our music, but we will work hard and most importantly, we will live our music in worship and beyond.

I hope that you will pray for me and my family as we join with a new congregation and share the song nea…