Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas!



Hey Everyone...

I'm still here. Alive and well and crazy busy.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Prayer for Children



It's been an awful week here in Tulsa. Sick things in the news. Children killed and abused in monstrous ways. Trust destroyed. Hearts broken. In our staff prayer meeting yesterday, we prayed and cried out to the Lord on behalf of these precious children and their families... and our own children. It's a scary world out there sometimes. Sin-sick. Broken.
Sometimes all we can do is cry and somehow hang on to hope that God will make it all right someday. And do our part in the meantime to make this a more just and loving world. Child abuse is not OK. Child sex trafficking must be stopped. Lord, have mercy.
Here's a song I wrote for Josh years ago that sums up how I'm feeling about all this today:


Oh My Child
Music & Lyrics: Matt Nightingale
from the album "Still Standing"
For Joshua Matthew, Jacob Connor, Emily Grace and Zachary Joseph.

(Download the album for free or whatever you want to pay over at NoiseTrade. Widget to the right. ----->)

Oh my child, I am trying to raise you well
Oh my child, so far so good, but who can tell
Cuz the world is a violent, empty place
They don’t care about you and your precious face
Not really, not really

Oh my child, be strong and courageous
All around you, heaven knows, there’s a battle that rages
And the angels are fighting for your soul
And your daddy is praying that you will know
The Father, the Father

Big blue eyes and busy hands
You’ll grow up as time demands
How many days, how great the cost
Till I look in your eyes and see innocence lost

Oh my child, I am only human too
And I know any minute now I am going to fail you
And I hope you’ll remember how I love you
And that I was an innocent child like you
Long ago, not long ago

Big blue eyes and busy hands
You’ll grow up as time demands
How many days, how great the cost
Till I look in your eyes and see innocence lost

Oh my child, how I long for what’s to come
All the violent, empty things will finally come undone
And from Eden to Golgotha to Kingdom Come
All Creation is groaning, “Thy will be done”
Oh rest in that, Oh rest in Him

Oh Joshua, rest in Him
Oh Jacob, rest in Him
Oh Emily, rest in Him
Oh Zachary, rest in Him

Oh Father, Thy will be done

© 1998 A Little Nightingale Music (ASCAP)
Lyrics reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Veterans Day Prayer



Found this great prayer over on Facebook via my friend Matt Anderson, worship pastor at Thornapple Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was written by the Rev. Dr. Jennifer Phillips, Rector at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church at the University of Rhode Island.

I'm grateful today for men like my dad, Chuck Nightingale, my father-in-law, Lou Tondino, and so many others who have served our country.

God of all nations, you are our Strength and Shield. We give you thanks today for the devotion and courage of all those who have offered military service for this country:

For those who have fought for freedom;
For those who have laid down their lives for others;
For those who have borne suffering of mind oir of body;
For those who have brought their best gifts to times of need.

God, in your mercy and love, we thank you for their lives.

On our behalf, oh God, many have entered into danger, endured separation from those they love, labored long hours and born hardship in war and in peacetime.

God, in your mercy and love, we thank you for their lives.

We ask today that you would lift up by your Spirit those who are now at war; encourage and heal those in hospitals or mending their wounds at home; guard those in any need or trouble; hold safely in your hands all military families and bring the returning troops to joyful reunion and tranquil life at home.

Give to us, your people, grateful hearts and a united will to honor these men and women and hold them always in our love and our prayers until your world is perfected in peace and all wars cease.

Through Jesus Christ, our Savior,

Amen

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Another Morning After



I’m reminded today, as I was on the morning after the election in 2008, that Jesus is Lord, that nothing happens outside the will of God, and that our hope and future are NOT found in elected officials or political parties. Today I am called to live as I was called to live yesterday: as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, a pilgrim in a foreign land, a citizen of heaven living for a time in the United States of America. I pray for our nation, our state, our city, and those who have been elected to govern us. And I continue to place all my faith and hope in Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Worship Leaders & Planners... Need Your Help!


I'm putting together a workshop for my denomination's annual pastor's conference in February. Here's the official description, from the Midwinter 2011 website:

204 | Better Together: Worship Planning in Our Diverse Denomination

Our vibrant denomination includes churches of nearly all ages, sizes, ethnicities, and approaches to planning and leading worship. This interactive workshop will focus on several "case study" churches while inviting participants to share experiences from their own unique perspectives in an attempt to foster learning, connection, communication, and resourcing within our Covenant worship community.

My vision is to create video profiles of 4-5 churches within the Covenant. We're talking to several different "types" of churches in an attempt to capture many differing approaches to worship planning... from a megachurch with a large worship staff to a small church that utilizes laypeople extensively. We'll be looking at other types of diversity too, engaging worship planners from ethnic and multi-ethnic churches, liturgical and decidedly non-liturgical churches. These videos will be shown, and a representative from that ministry will speak and answer questions about their approach. Participants will interact with the church leader and in small groups. I will simply act as facilitator... encouraging interaction and keeping things on track.

My question for you today: Worship leaders, pastors, planners... What would YOU ask? We're preparing to produce these videos, and I need to come up with interview questions for these teams to answer.

My sense is to simply ask them to describe and explain their process, from start to finish. But what specifically would YOU ask? What questions and problems are YOU experiencing in your worship planning?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Blogging Tips from Bryan Allain



Today's post comes courtesy of the very talented Bryan Allain. He would absolutely qualify as one of those bloggers I wanna be when I grow up. :) You can subscribe to his podcast here or check out his blog here...

7 Things You Should Know as a Beginning Blogger

1. No Blog Writes Itself - Behind every blog post you read on someone else's blog is a person just like you doing the writing, editing, and publishing. They have other stuff to do, but they find time to blog.

It won't be different for you. You will never wake up to find out that your blog has done the work for you while you were sleeping. The Keebler elves make cookies, not blog posts. Expect to work hard.

2. Blog Posts Are Not Like Kids - You might love all your kids the same, but you won't be able to say the same thing about your blog posts. Some posts will be home runs that take hours of writing. Others will be opposite field singles that you bang out in 10 minutes as you're headed out the door.

Would this happen in a perfect world? I guess not. Ideally you want each blog post to be as good as the last one, but that's not reality. If your readers expect 4 posts a week, I'm of the opinion that it's better to give them two homers, a double, and a single than to give them just two homers. If you start only posting your best work, eventually you'll stop posting altogether.

3. Consistency is #1 - Building off that last point, the most important thing you can do as a beginning blogger is be consistent. It will help you develop good habits and it will develop a bond between you and your new readers.

The FIRST thing I look for when I visit a blog is the dates of the last few posts. If they seem too spaced out and erratic I'm already gone. If you want me to be a consistent reader you need to be a consistent blogger.

4. Don't Fear the Crickets - Don't be afraid to post something because you think no one will respond. So you only have 20 readers? Who cares, go ahead and ask them a question at the end of your post. I promise you, no one is going to come to your blog, see that no one responded to your question, and laugh at you.

If you never ask for comments because you are afraid people will see that no one is reading, then guess what, you won't get many comments. The worst that could happen is that no one leaves a comment. Really, it ain't that bad. Even the best bloggers get disappointed from low response numbers all the time. Get used to it so you can brush it off and keep writing.

5. Your Most Important Reader is You - I'll read a blog on just about anything if I know the writer is passionate about the subject. If you're writing about stuff that you know well, but bores you, then guess who else is going to be bored? Answer: everyone.

The only chance you have to write an interesting blog is to write something that interests you.

6. You are Whispering at a Rock Concert - Don't expect to be heard right away, no matter how many important people you know or how many links you get. There are so many voices out there blogging about so many different things, it's almost impossible to be heard.

Discouraged? Don't be. Just because it's tough to be heard doesn't mean you don't have something to say. Your voice is unique, so stay true to it and trust that everyday more and more people will find it and stick around if it resonates with them.

7. It's Your Gig - The best thing about being a blogger is that it's your creation. You decide how often to post, what to post about, and every other detail that goes into making a blog unique. Have fun with it, invest yourself in it, and if it's not working out for you don't be afraid to shut it down.

A blog shouldn't be a burden you carry around all the time. If 90% of your thoughts about your blog are "man, i really need to post something", then take a break from it and see if you want to start back up or not.

Blogging isn't for everyone, but for some it will be an amazing experience. You might discover that you don't love writing as much as you thought you did. Or who knows, you might discover a voice you never knew you had and an audience excited to hear what you have to say.

Truth be told, there's only one way to find out, so get your butt in a seat and start creating.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cover Band Essentials?



I'm in a cover band here in Tulsa (no, really... I know I'm not in the pic, but that's cuz I just joined the band), and we are just starting to play here and there. We play restaurants and festivals, and it's generally a lot of fun and an opportunity to make a little (very little) money from time to time. It's a fun gig, and I'm grateful to get to song some pop songs and work with great musicians. We consist of a rhythm section (guitar, bass, drums, keys), horns (trombone, trumpet, sax) and three singers (two guys and a girl).

Here's my question:

In your opinion/experience, what should every cover band be able to play at the drop of a hat? What are the songs you want to hear at a New Year's Eve party or a wedding reception?

Here's the list of the songs we currently do:
  • Always Entertaining Me (The La-La Song) - Original
  • America the Beautiful - Ray Charles
  • Back To You - Original
  • Breathe (2AM) - Anna Nalick
  • Bright Lights - Matchbox 20
  • Come Together - Beatles
  • Crazy - Gnarls Barkley
  • Don’t Know Why - Norah Jones
  • Drops of Jupiter - Train
  • Everything - Michael Buble
  • Everything You Want - Vertical Horizon
  • Fly Away - Lenny Kravitz
  • Fly Like an Eagle - Steve Miller Band/Seal
  • Freedom 90 - George Michael
  • Harder to Breathe - Maroon 5
  • Heaven - Los Lonely Boys
  • How To Save a Life - The Fray
  • I’m Yours - Jason Mraz
  • I Don’t Wanna Be - Gavin DeGraw
  • I Forget to Breathe - Original
  • I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near) - Michael McDonald
  • I Wish - Stevie Wonder
  • If I Ain’t Got You - Alicia Keys
  • Iris - Goo Goo Dolls
  • Isn’t She Lovely - Stevie Wonder
  • Josie - Steely Dan
  • Just Haven't Met You Yet - Michael Buble
  • Life Is A Highway - Rascal Flatts
  • Listen to the Music - Doobie Brothers
  • Living in America - James Brown
  • Love Shack - B-52s
  • Love Song - Sara Bareilles
  • Lucky - Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat
  • Madly - Tristan Prettyman
  • Many the Miles - Sara Bareilles
  • Minute By Minute - Doobie Brothers
  • Mustang Sally - Wilson Pickett
  • Need You Now - Lady Antebellum
  • One Week - Barenaked Ladies
  • Peg - Steely Dan
  • Pick Up the Pieces - Average White Band
  • Pink Houses - John Mellencamp
  • Please Don’t Leave Me - P!nk
  • Pony (It’s OK) - Erin McCarley
  • R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. - John Mellencamp
  • Saturday in the Park - Chicago
  • She Is - The Fray
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours - Stevie Wonder
  • Smooth - Santana & Rob Thomas
  • So Much To Say - Dave Matthews Band
  • Superstition - Stevie Wonder
  • Unwind - Original
  • Vertigo - U2
  • Walking in Memphis - Marc Cohn
  • What a Fool Believes - Doobie Brothers
  • What Would You Say - Dave Matthews Band
  • You Make Everything New - Original
  • 25 or 6 to 4 - Chicago
So what do you think? Given our instrumentation, current repertoire and aspirations, what should we cut? What should we add? Talk to me.

(And in the meantime, enjoy a couple of vids from a performance we did at Utica Square last July... Pretty lo-fi but maybe you'll get the idea.)





Monday, October 18, 2010

Found Art: A Glimpse Into My Daughter's Heart



Sometimes the little glimpses into our children's hearts and minds are so precious. I found this written on a sheet of notebook paper this morning:

I've always wanted to be a sinetest that waches the clouds or a storm chacer. most kids don't think about being a storm chacer but I do. I have my jurnals or some kind of paper always with me. I love listening to music I foces more on the sunde track than the singer. I've always wanted a sister me and my three brothers don't get along the best. I love Drawing, writing, and reading. I speand a lot of time out side observing or writing in my jurnal. I'm learning incorsive. I'm in theard grade.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rumor Has It...



So, rumor has it that a famous blogger will soon be guest posting right here on my humble little blog. I'm not going to say anything else. I'm not even gonna tell you when it's gonna happen. But it's SOON.

(Can you feel the expectation in the air?)

My question to you is: If you knew a famous blogger was going to do a guest post on YOUR blog, and you had the potential to have hundreds, if not thousands, of people poking around your site for the day, what would you do to prepare?

Would you do a "Who I Am" post? A blog re-design? Would you try to pimp your music or your church or your Big Idea? Would you try to look as absolutely cool as possible in the attempt to draw these one-time readers back for a second visit? Would you try to write The Best Post of Your Life? Would you switch out your profile photo?

Or would you think to yourself, "This is stupid. Why do I care what So-and-So's readers think of me?"

Decisions, decisions...

Loved and Cherished



My mom has been going through all of the old family slides, converting them to jpegs and putting them on CD-Rs. Eventually, all of us kids will have copies of all of these slides. It's a cool project.




She recently send me some pictures of myself as a little boy, and I was unprepared for the waves of emotion that rolled over me. Nostalgia? Sure, but I don't think it's just that.



Is it that I have kids of my own now and I see myself reflected in their faces? Yes, I think that is a big part of it...



But deeper than that, I think it's reflecting on my own life and loss of innocence. When you're a child, things are simple. Playing in the sprinkler on a hot summer's day is about as complicated as it gets. But of course we grow and live. Our lives become more and more complex. We find ourselves in situations we never imagined. We lose heart and hope. We see the dark side of life. We lose, we fail, we let ourselves and others down. Childhood dreams are let go.



And then, sometimes, we find grace. And we realize that God is bigger than our failures and the boxes we've put God in. We find that there is hope for redemption, that Jesus came because we're screwed up, because eventually we all fall, we all fail, we all break. And that we are loved beyond anything we could ever hope, dream, ask or imagine.

So thanks, Mom... For loving me (then and now) and for sending these photos as a reminder of who I was and who I am in the eyes of God... a precious, innocent child. Loved and cherished.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Celebration of Freedom



Last night my family held hands around my computer and prayed as they started bringing the miners to the surface. Wasn't it incredible? As they brought the first man, Florencio Avalos, to the surface and his son started bawling, I gotta admit there were some tears in my eyes too.

A friend of mine on Facebook just said, "I was cynical about the Chilean president photo-opping at the rescue at the beginning but have mad respect that he stayed the whole 24+ hrs." I agree. One of my choir members at Redeemer was talking about this tonight. He and his family were missionaries in Chile for many years, and he talked about the incredible unity of the Chilean people. He said that was one of their most highly valued national traits... the ability to pull together and be unified in the face of danger or hardship.

Last night on Facebook Chris Seay said something that's been on my mind all day. As we rejoice with our brothers and sisters in Chile, let us not forget that we have been freed too. Freed from the darkness and bondage of sin, brought into the glorious light of Jesus Christ.

Grateful tonight for freedom.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

To Save A Life



Perhaps we've reached the tipping point in this dialogue. All I know is that something must change. I don't care about your or my theological/biblical/philosophical thoughts on the "issue" of homosexuality. We can certainly have those thoughts, and we can discuss them peacefully and lovingly.

What must begin NOW - especially among us Christians! - is to stand up against the persecution of LGBTQ people. Because that's what they are: people. Just like you and me.

Lots of people have written about it. Here are Eugene Cho's thoughts. Here are Jay Phelan's. Here's Ellen's video:



Let's agree, people of faith, to get involved in actively loving the LGBTQ people who are all around us, every day. Support The Marin Foundation. Read Love Is An Orientation. Speak up when people around you use derogatory terms like "fag" or say "That's so gay." You may save a life. Maybe it'll be your own daughter or son's.



One final thought: I'm praying tonight for Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei too. What a terrible burden to bear for these young people. Their whole lives are ahead of them, and they will forever be marked, forever shunned and hated for their roles in this tragedy. May God grant them peace, forgiveness and healing as they seek him.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Catching Up

Huh, look at that. It's September 27. I'm 39 years old now, and I'm already into my second year here in Tulsa. For a while there, I was trying to blog every day. That's just a dim memory now... So why the writer's block? I think there's been so much going on, and I've wanted to get all caught up, make sure that everything I've done was noted somehow...

Why? I don't know. Immortality through Blogspot? Anyway, what follows is a simple list. That (I think) I can pull off... and then maybe I can move forward, unencumbered by months of "Oooh... I should blog about that!" regret.
  • I've been singing with a local cover band called Pandemic. It's so much fun... I've always wanted to be in a band like this. It opens up great opportunities to meet people outside the walls of the church and move in completely different circles than those normally occupied by pastor-types. We've played some pretty cool gigs in the last several months, including the Rock -N- Ribs Festival at the BOK Center and the Summer's 5th Night series at Utica Square.
  • We had an incredibly busy and wonderful June at Redeemer, starting with our Vacation Bible School. The next week was our "Dreambuilders" Rhythm & Arts Camp with low-income kids at Mark Twain Elementary School in West Tulsa. I did a "GLEE" club, and it was a dream come true for me.
  • We had a really fun month of visits by people we love a lot... We got to host my sister, Sarah, and her family; Luanne's mom and dad; and Luanne's brother, Dominic, and his family (on their big cross-country move from Simi Valley, California, to Nashville)! And after all that was over, we got to host Nate Bartoshuk, one of Jacob's best friends from our old home in Redwood City, California.
  • While Nate was here in July, we took the family on a short vacation to Dallas. We spent a day at Six Flags Over Texas and a day at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (water park next door). We went to a Rangers baseball game and visited with Luanne's old friends from Simi Valley, Carolyn Stults and her kids and grandkids.
  • Like everyone else, I saw Inception and loved it.
  • We have had a couple of Sunday night worship services at Redeemer. I'm really excited about the possibilities of moving forward on Sunday nights with a new format. And I must confess, I am having Sunday At 6 flashbacks and hoping we can capture some of that experience here in T-Town!
  • Luanne and I had an amazing experience this summer. ALL FOUR kids went to New Life Ranch at the same time! We both ended up working most of that time, but just to havd the house to ourselves was pretty nice. Grateful for that space and time together!
  • This one really deserves a post of its own, but... Our friend and Josh's former youth pastor, Michael "Slim" Wilton, broke his neck in a diving accident on July 10. He and his wife, Sheena, have been our thoughts and prayers as they begin a very different life together than they had ever imagined. Please join us in pray and support for them!
  • School has started again! I'm taking another seminary class through North Park (Christian Theology), Josh is a sophomore, Jacob is a seventh-grader, and Emily & Zach are third-graders, all in the Jenks school system.
  • Luanne is working full-time now at Trak-1 Technology, and of course I'm still at Redeemer Covenant. We live very busy lives!
  • Zach is playing soccer with Metro Tulsa Soccer, and Emily is doing gymnastics at Tulsa World of Gymnastics. Jake is playing percussion in the band, and Josh is running track at the high school.
So... Now that all THAT's out there... I wonder if I'll ever post again?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

9 x 2

Happy Birthday, Emily Grace & Zachary Joseph! Can you really be nine years old already?

(You can check out previous birthday pics here, here and here!)



And of course, like always since this day in 2007, Happy Birthday to Cousin Ellie, too!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

An Encouraging Note

Got this in my Facebook inbox the other day:

Matt, appreciate your commitment to your faith and wrestling with that faith. I've missed your blog entries, since, while I don't always agree with everything you put down, you remain faithful to what you believe and are doing so in a way that speaks clearly of your belief in and following of Christ as Savior. Just wanted to say thanks for staying faithful.

Wow. What an incredibly encouraging note. I realize I have not posted much this summer... OK, not really at all, save some family photos on special days. Work, family, seminary and much more have conspired to take away whatever energy and attention I had reserved for regular blogging. I know I owe some posts to some people... and I'll get to them soon.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Seventeen

Seventeen years ago today, on a beautiful day in Simi Valley, California, my best friend became my wife. I'm grateful today, to God and to Luanne, for the life we've built together.



Monday, May 31, 2010

Just a Few Loose Ends

A quick retrospective on some of the teeny-tiny loose ends that never got tied up...

15



Happy Birthday, Joshua! I love you and I'm proud of you.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The La-La Song Lands on IRIS

Way back in March I blogged about my song "Always Entertaining Me (The La-La Song)." At the time, it looked like a Korean TV show, IRIS, might use it in a scene. Later I was told it wouldn't work out. I forgot all about it.

Then this morning, I got an email from someone saying he had been watching on Hulu, heard my song, Googled the lyrics and found me! He just wanted to say he liked the song. What? I honestly thought someone was messing with me. But no... Turns out it's true! Check it out... At about the 44:00 mark:

Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST: The Finale



Last night, after the show, I tweeted: "#LOST was perfect. Thank you to @DamonLindelof and @CarltonCuse. You guys made the best show on TV..."

What did you think? No, not everything was wrapped up neatly with a bow on top, but I think they did the best job they could do given all the variables. Sure, lots of questions remain, but would we really have wanted them to explain it all? In the end, one thing remained: relationships with the people we had loved from the beginning. They were all together, and they were at peace. Beautiful.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Awkward Family Photos



I'm in a book! I just stopped by Barnes and Noble to pick it up, and it's a winner

The book is based on one of my favorite websites: Awkward Family Photos. I submitted my photo for the website, but they asked if they could put it in their book instead. I said sure. It's on page 128.

Honestly, my picture is more cute than awkward (that's for my mom and dad), but I still think it qualifies... Check out those lovely 1981-style glasses, the wood paneling, the curtains, the plaid... Classic!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Forty Never Looked So Good...



Happy Birthday to the love of my life! I'm grateful I get to spend my life with you, Luanne.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Let's Make a Record!



Exciting news from Over the Rhine! Wish I was rich...
Let's Make a Record!

Thanks for your interest in helping us fund the next Over the Rhine record! We begin recording on Monday, May 17, 2010, in South Pasadena with producer Joe Henry and an amazing group of musicians. We can’t thank you enough for your help.

Please select whatever donation level is a good fit for you.
All donations however small or large are greatly appreciated.
We can’t do it without you.

Gratefully,

Linford and Karin

Sunday, April 25, 2010

An Evening with Stephen Sondheim and Frank Rich



I still can't quote believe it. Stephen Sondheim and Frank Rich came to Tulsa last Monday night as part of the University of Tulsa's Presidential Lecture Series. And I was there.

Back in 2000, to commemorate Sondheim's 70th birthday, Rich began a series of conversations with him to talk about Sondheim's life and career and the state of American musical theater. You can read about them here. And now, ten years later, they are doing a limited number of engagements across the United States. The format is simple. They sit in chairs and have a conversation, with Rich asking questions and Sondheim answering. Monday night felt like sitting in on a conversation between old friends! And as a fan of Sondheim's for decades, it was an especially sweet evening. I sat there grinning like an idiot for most of the night. My favorite Sondheim moments:
  • Stories of growing up with Oscar Hammerstein as a mentor and godfather.
  • Describing what it was like to see "Oklahoma!" for the first time.
  • Cracking up with Rich as they described attempts to "fix" Sondheim's shows by overly ambitious college theater department heads. One changed "Merrily We Roll Along" to go forward chronologically in time. One had Bobby shoot himself in the head at the end of "Being Alive." Funny stuff.
  • Describing the writing process for the song "Sunday in the Park with George."
  • The story of writing "Rose's Turn" and introducing it to Ethel Merman.
I'm honored to have been there and grateful to TU for bringing them.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jennifer Knapp & Derek Webb at the Cain's



I haven't been blogging much lately... I'm way too busy, and frankly, blogging had been eating up way too much of the time I should have using for other, more important things. So rather than try to write a brilliant review of the Jennifer Knapp/Derek Webb/Amy Courts show here, I'll just hit a couple of the highlights and then link to some more information:
  • Hanson was there. Yes, Hanson. Isaac and Taylor at least. They jumped up with Derek to sing "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" at the end of his set.
  • The crowd was so small (maybe 150) that the show was not held at the Cain's Ballroom after all, but at the bar next door instead. I have no idea why ticket sales were so low. Maybe because Jennifer came out as a lesbian two days prior to the show? No idea. I preferred the venue. It was an all-acoustic show... just voice and guitar. The small venue was great. Plus we got to sit down. :)
  • It was a very supportive crowd. People seemed genuinely glad to have Jennifer back, and she seemed genuinely glad to be received so warmly.
  • The music was amazing. Period. Amy did a great job with her three songs. Derek was awesome as always. Jennifer rocked. Amazing voice, presence and guitar skills.
  • Lyrics, as you can imagine, had all kinds of new significance. I'm really glad she sang oldies like "Whole Again," "Martyrs and Thieves" and "A Little More," but it was really hard to listen without reading into the lyrics like mad. And I am almost positive she got a little choked up during the first chorus of "Martyrs...": So turn on the light and reveal all the glory. I am not afraid to bare all my weakness, knowing in meekness I have a kingdom to gain where there is peace and love in the light, in the light. Oh I am not afraid to let Your light shine bright in my life, in my life... Judge for yourself here.)
  • The new songs rock. I've had a copy of the new record, Letting Go, for a couple of months, and I think it's some of her strongest work. No, it's not a "Christian" album. But it is infused with spirituality and a seemingly deep yearning for truth and God. It's well worth a listen.
Thanks to joshua4578, we have some Youtube footage of the show. Check it out here.

Here's a review from Tulsa Today. Great photos!

Excellent article from Timschrader.com. He interviews Nathan Albert from The Marin Foundation, and I couldn't agree with his thoughts more. My favorite quote: "There is a difference between validation and affirmation; standing with doesn’t mean affirmation of. We can stand with people even though we may not affirm their actions or beliefs. I stand with my non-Christian friends even though I do not affirm certain political views or their private lives. So too should we stand with Jennifer Knapp and others who have had similar experiences."

One more newsflash: Tomorrow night Jen will be on Larry King Live - along with Ted Haggard, Clay Aiken and Pastor Bob Botsford. Should be very interesting. And maybe surprising. Jen just tweeted, "Deeply impressed by T. Haggard on Larry King set." Wow... Maybe the two of them won't square off like I expected them to.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jennifer Knapp Comes Out



Big news today from Jennifer Knapp. The rumors swirling around her for the last seven years were, for the most part, true. She is a committed Christian in a committed relationship with another woman. And she's OK with that. The question is whether her Christian fans will be or not.

Christianity Today

ABC News

The Advocate

Looking forward to seeing her in Tulsa on Thursday.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Bike

Just remembered this song tonight. It's a great one. Here's the Matt Nightingale Band (circa 2007) covering Amy Correia's "The Bike."



The Bike
Amy Correia

I became the owner of a red and rusted bicycle
Built like a tank from Sears and Roebuck, circa 1952
It had been entrusted to me by my late, great Uncle Pat
And I guess he didn't ride it much. Both tires on the bike were flat.

Pat had died at Christmastime in 1991
He had fallen off the wagon and had sunk into a Christmas funk
My father, he had found him two days after Pat had died
Well he drank himself to death one night in a little home he owned by the seaside
Well I took the bike, I cleaned it up, my father he patched up the tires
Am I going to town or just spinning my wheels?
And when I die, I wonder how it feels

Hey, and I'm ridin' around, ridin' around on it
Hey you know I'm ridin' around, ridin' around on it
Hey, I'm just ridin' around, ridin' around on it
Hey...

The funeral service was a few days later at a place down the street from where he had lived.
There wasn't a heck of a turnout. He had never married and he never had kids.
The coffin lid was open, Pat was lying inside
His sister had a picture of a poodle named Pepper. She put it in his hands and then she cried.

Now I'm riding through the city, through the smog and the summer heat
And I'm blowing through all of the red lights. I guess you could say I'm feeling lucky
And the taxis and the trucks, everybody's blowing their horns
And I got a bicycle bell to ring, and I got a notion to sing while I'm riding along

Hey, and I'm ridin' around, ridin' around on it
Hey you know I'm ridin' around, ridin' around on it
Hey, I'm just ridin' around, ridin' around on it
Hey...

Well I wonder if I ever really knew him at all
And I wonder can he see me
As I'm ridin' along, ridin' along?

The day that Pat was buried, the air was cold and clear
And we drove out to the cemetery and snow blew around in the air
And a hired man from the state, he played Taps on a coronet
And a flag was presented to his sister for time in the service that Pat had spent

When he used to ride on the bike, way back in '52
He was starting out on life, and the bike, it was brand new
And life was laid before him like a platter before a king
He was young and he was handsome, and the world was alive with meaning
And the world was alive with meaning

Hey, and I'm ridin' around, ridin' around on it
Hey you know I'm ridin' around, ridin' around on it
Hey, I'm just ridin' around, ridin' around on it
Hey...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jennifer Knapp Interview



I just bought tickets for Luanne and I to see Jennifer Knapp on 4/15. Very exciting. Somehow my friend David Kennedy scored an interview with her... Check it out on his blog.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cathleen Falsani: Grace, Eventually


As you know, I'm a voracious reader. One of the first places I go when I move into a new community is the public library! I can spend hours and hours there, perusing the books, discovering new authors, reading big-city newspapers...

When I moved to Houston last year, I spent a lot of time at the library closest to our house. While there, I discovered a great author named Cathleen Falsani. (You can read all about her impressive credentials here.) Her book, Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace, really captured my imagination. Like Yancey's What's So Amazing About Grace? and Manning's Abba's Child, it opened my eyes again to the wonders of God's grace and love. The book is part travelogue, part memoir, and Cathleen's strength lies in finding God in the most mundane and extraordinary circumstances.

I was really enjoying the book until tragedy struck. If you followed my blog last year at all, you know that our Houston Experience was challenging sometimes, especially during the times our rental house flooded. This library book was a casualty of one such flooding. We tried to salvage it, propping it open, blow drying its pages... but alas, we could not save it.

I thought perhaps its subtitle would score some points or something as I meekly walked to the library desk, looking for some sign of grace. I mean, the pages were still readable, even if the book would no longer fully due to ripply pages!

Nope. $24.00 later I was the proud owner of a severely water-damaged copy of Cathleen's book.

A year later, I was chatting with her on Twitter (follow Cathleen here) and I told her my story (edited down to 140-character chunks). She asked for my address, and a week later, this was in my mailbox...



Grace may not come on our timetable, but sooner or later it eventually comes. Thank you, Cathleen!

Check out Cathleen's other books, The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers and The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People.

Read her fascinating account of exploring Barack Obama's faith for the Chicago Sun-Times in 2004.

Check out Cathleen's official website here, her blog here, and her Facebook page here.
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