10 Years Ago Today…

Ten years ago today, on October 7, 2007, Terri and I stepped out in faith and rededicated our lives to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We made our renewed profession of faith in a public baptism at a small, local church we had started attending several weeks before. A couple of months earlier we had taken a horseback ride up a mountainside near Taos, New Mexico. Neither of us are exactly sure what happened up on that mountain, but a spiritual transformation took root. Perhaps our spirits were overwhelmed by soaking in the majestic grandeur of God’s creation. Our souls were certainly hungry for God, even though we didn’t know it at the time we’d planned our trip. Yet, while we were yet sinners, God was faithful in His pursuit of us.

The decade since we set out on our faith journey has been a rollercoaster ride of high highs and low lows. There have been incredible, inexplicable highs–like Terri and I getting married, my being ordained as a minister, and the joy of performing several weddings. But to be sure, it hasn’t been all wine and roses. No, there have been dark moments like getting the left foot of fellowship, burying a good friend’s wife and 13-year-old daughter and our 24-year old niece in the course of a few months, and having to say goodbye too soon to another great friend and co-laborer in Christ earlier this year. Yes, there have been difficult valleys to traverse and hard mountains to climb. But through it all, God has remained faithful in seeing us through the difficult times. His comfort has been immeasurable; His love beyond amazing.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (ESV)

Terri and I have both marveled at how God has used us to share the Gospel all throughout the DFW metroplex as well as in different parts of the World. Through our involvement with the ministries of Operation Christmas Child, Terri had the joy of sharing the love of Jesus in Tanzania and through our home church she also had the opportunity to minister to the people of Barranquilla, Colombia.  We even had the opportunity to take a Bible study tour in Israel in 2012. God has left us speechless and breathless numerous times throughout the past decade.

Through our stewardship in leading our church’s outreach to Union Gospel Mission, we’ve had the privilege of sharing God’s Word and praying with a multitude of men and women to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior.

And to top it all off, most Sunday mornings I have the honor of helping lead our congregation in worship.

While taking up our cross and following Jesus hasn’t been the easiest road, it has been indescribably thrilling. For that, Terri and I are truly thankful. We look forward to the next ten years unless of course our Lord returns beforehand. Then we’ll celebrate singing His praises in Heaven.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good!

‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Mark 12:30 (ESV)

 

 

Turntable Thursdays 10/5/2017

Memories of Tom Petty

Before we check out Matt Redman’s new record ‘Glory Song’, I’d be remiss to start off this edition of Turntable Thursdays without stopping to pay tribute to Tom Petty. Petty was a consummate live performer and incredible songwriter who added a slew of rock classics to the Great American Songbook. If you ever saw them perform live, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers blew you away. Each of them phenomenal musicians in their own right, together the Heartbreakers etched out a unique sound that rocked our ears, touched our hearts, and stirred our souls. In a couple of interviews I watched the past few days, the band’s keyboardist, Benmont Tench, emphasizes the importance of listening to one another and giving each other space to play in, knowing when to play and when not, and taking care not to tread over one another. Tench stressed that these were key to playing in an ensemble. And Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were as fine an ensemble as any to ever grace a stage.

My earliest memories of Tom Petty go back to the late 1970s (no, there were no dinosaurs still alive then). I remember hearing ‘Refugee’, ‘Breakdown,’ and ‘American Girl’ around the time I was in 9th grade (1979). I had started playing piano a couple years earlier, around 1976.  The prominence of the keyboards in the Heartbreaker’s music naturally caught my ear.

A young, awkward punk kid with fanciful rock-n-roll dreams, I befriended another kid named Charles Van Devender who played a little guitar and who everybody called Van. Van was also a Petty fan and had already collected every one of the albums the band had released at the time. Van and I started jamming together on occasion, with him on guitar and me on piano and a Casio keyboaturntable-2501762_1920 borg editrd that Van had bought at Radio Shack.

In 10th grade, another friend of Van’s, Robert Bulloch, joined us for our jam sessions. We were just kids playing music. A few months down the road, we joined up with a couple of other dudes, who played bass and drums (Roy Hufstedler and Jon Beck) and before we knew it we had formed a little trailer band (we often rehearsed in trailer instead of a garage). We did covers of the Beatles and the Stones, the Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rush, Chicago, and Styx, along with some Zeppelin and Kiss. Heck, we even learned a couple of Cars tunes. And of course, we worked in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. By the time we’d formed our band, ‘Hard Promises’ had been released and we quickly added ‘The Waiting’ to our repertoire.  I remember the video for ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’ first coming out (1981) with Stevie Nicks joined by Petty and the Heartbreakers. Brimming over with testosterone, we instantly saw Tom Petty as our hero. Stevie Nicks had it going on and there was Petty crooning next to her. Honestly, I’m not sure we knew how good we had it back then, even though times weren’t easy.

Fast forward to the future…the sudden passing of Tom Petty Monday night has left the fans who loved him in shock, particularly on top of the tragedy that occurred earlier in Las Vegas. After weeks of seeing all the devastation wrought by a series of powerful hurricanes unfold, saying goodbye to one of America’s greatest songwriters felt like a kick below the belt.  To me, Tom Petty’s songs always provided a comforting reminder that let you know everything was gonna be alright, even though the world around us might seem like it was falling apart. Even though he has left this Earth, Petty’s music will live on, and I’m sure I’ll be joining you jamming out to his music while I’m truckin’ down the road.

R.I.P. Tom Petty. I pray you’re having a blast learning to fly somewhere where you are eternally free.

‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’ Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

matt-redman glory song

Glory Song/Matt Redman

Matt Redman’s ‘Glory Song’ is an incredible praise record filled with great songs that believers can celebrate and praise to. In the midst of what feels like an painfully difficult season in our World, Redman’s new project is a welcome reprise from the devastating anguish surrounding us. His latest release is an angelic sound to my ears and a big lift up to this worshipper’s heart. The record features a number of guest vocalists (Kierra Sheard, Tasha Cobbs, Madison Cunningham, Kim-Walker Smith)  and even a rapper (Guvna B).

‘Greatest Hallelujah (Acoustic)’ Matt Redman

Glory Song Track List

TITLE TIME
1 All Glory (feat. Kierra Sheard) 5:07
2 Gospel Song (feat. Guvna B) 4:32
3 Greatest Hallelujah 7:14
4 Gracefully Broken (feat. Tasha Cobbs Leonard) 5:50
5 One Day (When We All Get to Heaven) 5:42
6 Redemption Ground (feat. Madison Cunningham) 4:46
7 It Is Finished 4:07
8 Questions (You Are Faithful) 6:30
9 Still I Will Sing 4:13
10 Place of Praise (feat. Kim Walker-Smith) 5:08
11 Hope Is Marching On 4:16
12 Simple Pursuit / Glory Song 7:43
13 Your Ways 5:27

From the first track, which opens with  a very, spiritual, Gaither-esque feel, to the final song, Redman has put together a solid album that pays tribute to our Lord and Creator, proclaims the hope believers have in our Savior,  and offers praises reminding us how through His Spirit, God is working all around us. My early favorites include ‘All Glory’, ‘Gospel Song’, ‘Greatest Hallelujah’, ‘Gracefully Broken’, ‘One Day’, and ‘Redemption Song’. Go ahead and give it a listen on Spotify or iTunes or whatever listening method you use. You’ll be uplifted and blessed. It may be Redman’s finest record.

Until next time…keep the music playing.

turntable-1337986_1920 ingrid edit

Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com