November 30, 2010

Making melody in your hearts to the Lord

As a practitioner of the communicative arts, I love a good turn of a phrase. I love the rare and precious expression that gives a simple clarity to a deep concept and helps people understand.

Carla (Jeff’s wife) and Corliss (Jeff’s mom)
Carla–flute; Corliss–keyboards

I have often mentioned an example of such clear communication from the movie “The Color Purple.” Although not one of my favorite movies, the scene from which the movie derived its name is a powerful scene. Two young ladies are walking through an open field filled with tall grass. As they walk and talk one of the girls stops to look at a purple wildflower. The other girl urges her on, but she lingers at the flower. Finally she says (in somewhat cruder language than I will post here), “I think God gets mad when we don’t notice the color purple.”

In the context of the movie, this young lady was making a profound statement. God loves us and has showered us with blessings—but it is up to us to notice, appreciate, and praise God for those blessings.

Stephanie (Jeff’s daughter)–vocals and keyboards

Yesterday my wife called me—very excited—to tell me that God had stretched our available budget for food beyond all imagination. Our finances were quite tight and we were concerned about putting food on the table. We knew we wouldn’t go hungry, but we thought we might be eating beans and rice for all three meals every day for the next few weeks. But my wife had made a list of all the things we needed for the next two weeks’ worth of dinner recipes and headed to the store to see how much of this we could manage. Unfortunately, she needed to buy some cleaning supplies as well, which further cut into the available food funds.

Wyatt (Jeff’s son)–guitar, drums, vocals

As my wife excitedly told me about her visit to the grocery store, in which seemingly each item on her list was on sale, she became very emotional as she explained that she had picked up a box of very inexpensive breakfast sandwiches. She sends these to work with me in the morning so I don’t have to spend time preparing breakfast before heading out to the commuter lot. She had removed any “luxury” items from the food list in an effort to keep the costs under control—so there were no desserts on the list. But she was hoping to get these sandwiches for me and had decided that she would put them back only if the total cost for absolute necessities exceeded the money she had.

Tiffany (Jeff’s daughter)–vocals, bass, drums

As she picked up the box of sandwiches a coupon fell from the box to the floor. This coupon was for our son’s favorite breakfast food—cinnamon rolls. This was definitely a luxury item that had not been on the list. But the coupon was for those cinnamon rolls if you purchased the breakfast sandwiches. My wife immediately saw the color purple. This was a gift from God. This was a blessing we don’t deserve, and could not afford. But God gave it to us anyway.

As my wife mentioned this color-purple experience, I was reminded that I, too, need to look for the color purple and thank God for his continual blessings.

When we moved to Front Royal just over one year ago, we knew no one from this area. I had no idea if I would be able to get involved in music in the community or in our new church. And music is my cinnamon roll—it is the dessert to my life. I love music.

Jeff–guitar, vocals, leader of the band

For half a year, no musical opportunities presented themselves. My guitars rested forlornly in the corner of my library. My bass guitar amp became a credenza to my desk. Eight months after we moved to Front Royal I began commuting to work by bus. After another month or so I was riding home on the bus one evening and the bus manager sitting in front of me was looking through some pictures. I could see over his shoulder that each photo was of a guitar. And they were very nice guitars. I asked who owned them and the bus driver said, “they’re mine.” As we began to talk about the guitars I found out that the bus driver (Jeff Blakely) is the leader of a Christian rock band (Remembrance) in Front Royal. I told him that I had played bass guitar in a few worship teams but was not playing at the time. (Warning: Huge color purple moment coming!) Jeff said, “my band just lost its bass player, would you be interested in playing with us?”


It is now half a year later. Many things have happened during those intervening months. Jeff no longer drives that bus. I no longer commute on that bus. Jeff’s daughter, Tiffany, decided to play bass for the band just after Jeff mentioned the position to me. But then Tiffany headed off to Lynchburg, Virginia, to attend Liberty University. A whirlwind of events that seem, in my mind, to all point back to that short window of opportunity—the few months during which Jeff was driving and I was riding ... and the fortuitous conversation around the pictures of Jeff’s guitar collection.

Oh yeah, that’s me on the bass
(No relation – just a lot of the color purple)–bass, vocals, drums

God crossed my path with Jeff’s And now I am playing in a wonderful Christian band. We’re doing a benefit concert on Saturday, December 11, to raise money for a local little league team. We have played in Jeff’s church multiple times. And along the way, my family has gotten to know Jeff’s family. And we really enjoy this friendship. They’re a delightful family and they mesh well with ours.

Thank you, God. Sometimes the color purple can be overwhelming.


November 26, 2010

Orianthi Panagar at Crossroads Guitar Festival

I just recently learned about this incredible guitarist. Orianthi is a young Australian female guitarist who blows away almost every guitarist out there—no matter what genre. Carlos Santana was recently asked who would be his replacement now that he’s heading into old age. He said that he can’t imagine a better replacement than Orianthi. She’s every bit as good a guitarist as Carlos, even though she’s barely out of her teens. And she’s quite a bit easier on the eyes than Carlos too. ...Well, maybe that doesn’t matter so much in the world of guitar playing. But it’s a nice bonus.

And here’s a bonus, but this time with another one of my favorite guitarists—Steve Vai:


November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving dinner and giving thanks

Kim & David at the dinner

appy Thanksgiving! I have always loved this holiday—and not only because of the massive quantities of good food. I have always enjoyed getting together with family and friends and thanking God for his blessings.

This past Sunday, our church had its Thanksgiving dinner. We gathered together this past Sunday evening and cooked over 200 pounds of turkey. That’s a whole lot of bird.

My childhood friend, Whit,—now known as “Bill”—and his family go to the church also, and we sat with them as we chowed down on Thanksgiving food. Of course, David did all the talking and no one else could get a word in edge-wise, but it was great fun.

Bill, Abigail, and Lois Whittaker
Bill’s daughter Abigail

This year, I am very thankful that God brought us to Front Royal, reconnected me with my friend, Bill, and put us into a house that we love. Tomorrow we will be spending Thanksgiving Day with my wife’s parents, who live very close to us now. It is good to be one of God’s children.

Happy Thanksgiving!


November 22, 2010

Blog Header - November 17, 2010

I took this photo at the Prospect Hill Cemetery in Front Royal, Virginia. My wife and I were on a photo expedition, looking for the grave stones requested by various genealogy researchers. It’s a fun way to help people out and we made a family event of it.

November 19, 2010

Joe Walsh - Funk 49

This is one of the first songs I played in the first band I was in. Joe Walsh is a nut case and seems to have no brain cells left, but he sure can play the guitar. I’m not sure what that says about guitarists, but...

Here it is—Joe Walsh playing “Funk 49” from the James Gang.


November 17, 2010



Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried.
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I plead and I wept for a clue to my fate,
The Master gently said, “My child, you must wait!”

“Wait? You say wait!” my indignant reply.
“Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By FAITH I have asked and am claiming your Word.

“My future and all to which I can relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to WAIT?
I’m needing a ‘yes,’ a go-ahead sign,
Or even a ‘no’ to which I can resign.

“And, Lord you promised that if we believe
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
Lord, I’ve been asking and this is my cry:
I’m weary of asking! I need a reply!”

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate.
Once again my Master replied, “You must wait.”
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, “So I’m waiting…for what?”

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes wept with mine,
And he tenderly said, “I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

All you seek I could give, and pleased would you be.
You would have what you want – but you wouldn’t know ME.
“You’d not know the depth of my love for each saint;
You’d not know the power that I give to the faint;

You’d not learn to see through the clouds of despair;
You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there;
You’d not know the joy of resting in me
When darkness and silence were all you could see.

“You’d never experience that fullness of love
As the peace of my Spirit descends like a dove;
You’d know that I give and I save…(for a start),
But you’d not know the depth of the beat of my heart.

“The glow of my comfort late into the night
The faith that I give when you walk without sight,
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you asked
Of an infinite God, who makes what you have LAST.

“You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.
’Yes, your dreams for your loved ones overnight would come true,
But, oh the loss! If I lost what I’m doing in you!

“So be silent, my child, and in time you will see
And though oft may my answers seem terribly late,
my wisest of answers is still but to WAIT.”

Anonymous (this guy’s prolific!)


November 16, 2010

Blog Header - November 10, 2010

This portrait of my friend, Sophia, was actually taken by another photographer. We are trying to arrange an opportunity for us to do some portrait photography soon. If I end up capturing anything this nice, I'll share it with you.

Think before you speak

Thomas Jefferson

When making a powerful political statement one must use meaningful well thought out words. The use of profanity is a major loss of rare opportunity to express one’s thoughts when such opportunity arises.

It is so very easy for me to respond quickly and unthinkingly, launching into a tirade if I feel offended or attacked. I lose the opportunity to make a considered argument. I lose the opportunity to advocate or defend. And then I find myself telling my son to consider his words before he just jabbers. Perhaps he has learned his verbal technique from his father.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
—Psalm 19:14

Ephesians 5:4
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

November 15, 2010

Get out of debt – NOW!

Important and sage advice to launch your work week. Get out of debt with this unique program:


November 12, 2010

Larry Carlton - Josie

Larry Carlton is one of my all-time favorite guitarists. I loved him as the lead guitarist for Steely Dan and then closely followed his solo career after Steely Dan. I was especially pleased when I noticed more and more Christian songs on his albums. It’s great to have a Christian guitarist out there demonstrating solid musicianship.

Here’s Larry Carlton playing the Steely Dan song “Josie” at a concert in 2004.


November 09, 2010

Blog Header - November 7, 2010

This blog header is the result of a whole bunch of Photoshop manipulation. The original (seen below) didn’t have an old enough feel to it (being a knight and all), so I attacked it in Photoshop.

November 08, 2010

Be still, my soul

Be Still My Soul

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

What is sustaining grace?

Not grace to bar what is not bliss;
Nor flight from all distress... but this:
The grace that orders our trouble and pain
And then, in the darkness, is there to sustain.

—Pastor John Piper


Blog Header - November 3, 2010

One week ago I headed out to get something at the grocery store. As I walked out of our front door I took one look at the sky and turned around, went back into our house, and grabbed my camera. This photograph shows the late evening sky that I saw when I stepped out of our front door. Simply marvelous.

November 07, 2010

I photograph dead people

When my wife got into genealogical research about 20 years ago I never expected that I would end up photographing grave stones of people we’re not even related to. But that’s exactly what we did yesterday. And it was a lot of fun.

Twenty years ago my wife spent many hours at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., pouring over census reports. She hung out in libraries, researching records compiled and published by the Church of the Latter Day Saints. And from time to time she made a discovery that pushed our knowledge of our ancestry back another generation.

One of the graves related to a request we responded to

But times have changed. With the advent of the Internet, a world-wide community of genealogy researchers has formed—and along with it, a new spirit of cooperation and mutual help. It was the spirit of cooperation that took us to Front Royal’s Prospect Hill Cemetery to photograph tombs of people we don’t know who lived and died more than a century ago. produces an unspoken cooperation, and it has proven quite useful from time to time. But recently my wife came across a new genealogy collaboration site called Find a Grave. Among other things, this site allows you to request help in locating a grave. Researchers are able to post what they know about the burial location of a relative and then people who live in that area, if they are so inclined, may go to the cemetery and try to find the actual grave site. They can then post any new information that has been discovered, descriptions of the site in question, photographs, and even tomb stone rubbing facsimiles. It’s a great service and could be quite helpful for researching relatives from long ago who lived in a location a little too far away for a quick jaunt on a Saturday afternoon.

Another grave we photographed by request

So yesterday we headed up to Front Royal’s Prospect Hill Cemetery to take photographs of grave stones that had been requested through Find a Grave. With the help of one of the cemetery workers, we were able to locate the general area of quite a few different graves and then we headed out, map in hand, to try to locate the actual individual graves markers.

We managed to locate only a few of them. We took a photo of one stone that had the correct name and the correct death date, but the date of birth was off by 11 years from what had been requested. We’re quite sure that this was the correct grave marker, but that at some stage in the process some incorrect information had been recorded. The photograph of this grave stone, with its different birth date, may prove to be of great value to the researcher who may be having trouble finding more information due to the discrepancy.

Boy scouts placing flags on the veteran’s graves for Veteran’s Day 2010

I really love being a photographer. And I love being able to help people out in this unique and interesting way.


Yours To Break

Ever get tired of having heartaches? Tempted to wall off your heart so you can't care anymore? Here's a poem I wrote this morning in the AM service, thanking God for a heart that can break:

Thank you, Lord, for a heart that loves,
That hurts, and sometimes bleeds.
That gets itself wrapped up around
Some folks who have great needs.

Sometimes that means my heart will break
Or have a cause to grieve,
If some of those I've learned to love
Should one day have to leave.

But Father, this tender heart is Yours
For You to mold and make.
And if it brings You glory, Lord,
My heart is yours to break.



November 05, 2010

Thank you, God, for our nation


say can you see?

I remember singing this verse of the Star Spangled Banner when I was younger. It’s something we need to bring back into the public consciousness.

Truth and the artful dodge

A recent study reported in the Harvard Business Review revealed that people trust eloquence more than honesty.

In his excellent blog Head Heart Hand, David Murray comments on this study and draws applications for those in ministry. You can read Murray’s blog post here.

Posterous has recently become one of my favorite blogs. His posts are consistently thought-provoking and demonstrate a love for Christ and his kingdom. I highly recommend making Head Heart Hand one of your regular stopping points.


November 04, 2010

Oh my goodness!

This is truly amazing:


November 03, 2010

Election results


he Election is over. Now it’s time for the wrap-up. How do the results of this Election impact us?

During coverage of the 2008 U.S. presidential election, I watched a TV news interview with a woman who extravagantly proclaimed, “Obama is going to pay my mortgage!” And if that had been the case, that certainly would have been a cause for excitement—although I was sure at that time that if she were to not pay her mortgage someone else (other than the president) would have to or else she would find herself looking for a new place to live.

But I am now prepared to make some bold statements of my own. Because of the Election, No one will be able to attack us. They may as well give up—in fact, they won’t be able to attack us or even say anything against us. I will also go so far as to say that as a result of the Election we will be the recipients of everything! I’m not done yet. I will also say, with full assurance of the truth of this statement, that as a result of the Election, we will be loved forever!

How can I make such bold statements? Here’s how:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? (Romans 8:31–33) thought I was talking about the recent U.S. election? I agree that the U.S. election was important. But I’m talking about a much more important election here. The results of the national election will not save us. And the results of the national election will not destroy us. Again, these are bold statements, but here's the proof:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord
(Romans 8:35–39).

Now that’s a bold statement worth holding onto!

The results of the national election are important. And it is very important for those of us who are American citizens to be involved in the political process. But we must remember that our national politics are not a savior and we should not look to them as a savior.

The much more important election than the one in which we elect our representatives is the one in which God elects to save his people. That election actually saves us. That election actually makes us children of the almighty God. That election makes us conquerors. And we didn’t even have to campaign for that election. We didn’t have to spend money on advertising or on robo-calls. We didn’t even have to answer any questions.

We were elected to salvation because God had a personal relationship with us—he knew us intimately. And then, in spite of our frailties, our lack of competence, and our sinfulness, he elected us to become members of his family—the very brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified (Romans 8:29-30).

So the election, based on his intimate knowledge of us (“those whom he foreknew”) is just the beginning of what he is doing for us. As a result of his election, he called us to salvation, and he justified us (so that we could have a relationship with the righteous God even though we are vile sinners), and he glorifies us (which won’t actually happen until we enter his presence in heaven). So the whole thing is a done deal. He chose us and set our destiny to become Christ’s siblings. Then he effects every step of the way what must be done to result in our arrival in heaven at the great family reunion in the sky.

Galatians 3:24-26

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

So celebrate or mourn yesterday’s national election. That is good. But as you do this, throw a loud and boisterous party that God has elected you to salvation. Nothing could ever be as important. And nothing should be as worthy of celebration.

Are you not sure that you are one of the people who won election? Find out how you may be reconciled with God. If you have been reconciled with God according to the information set out here, you are one of those who were elected. Praise God!


November 02, 2010

We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight

Whatever the wrap-up to the polls, the people of God can rest in Him. After all, we walk by faith and not by sight.


November 01, 2010

Time to vote - get out there!

Be prepared to do your part!

Ecclesiastes 10:2
A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left.