May 30, 2011

Those overly emotional Type B people


am a musician! I don’t see any need to hide from that. I am also a graphic designer—another part of my personality that I do not run from or try to hide. So... I am definitely a type B personality. I am laid back, accepting, creative. I don’t feel the need to judge other people. I don’t get overly concerned with deadlines, rules, regulations, or boundaries. I cherish creativity. I adore people who see the world from a different perspective. I don’t much care how you get there; but I love what you produce when you reach your goal. I understand the meaning of the lyrics to “The Climb.”

This personality type does great with some people. It does not do as well with others. And quite often I have wondered why I have to live in such an emotionally charged world. Often, my emotional overload has scared people. When I burst into tears during a hymn or in the middle of a movie, some of my friends wish they weren’t sitting in such close proximity. Some of those “friends” are no longer friends, after experiencing one of those emotional tsunamis.

One of my friends, a coworker who is married to a bass player, loaned me a book written by one of the best bass players ever—Victor Wooten. I am thoroughly enjoying the book. But a passage I read recently really jumped out at me and I wanted to share it.

From the phenomenal book, The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music, here is Victor Wooten:

“Anyone who can get another person to express himself freely is powerful because it allows all involved to recognize their collective and individual power. Again, this is beautiful to some and frightening to others.” He smiled and spread his hands. “Welcome to the world of the musician.”

“The world of the musician.” Wow, it was exciting! Hearing that information made me understand the importance and potential power of music. I thought about how I would use this kind of power if I had it. I could be like Elvis. I could be the Bass King. I playfully fantasized. I liked the idea of using music in a powerful way, but it bothered me that music or musicians could be frightening to anyone. I just couldn’t fully understand it. The possibility of being watched by the government, the way Michael described, disturbed me. This couldn’t happen in this day and age, could it? The thought of another King who had been assassinated because of his power brought me back to reality.

“Michael, I don’t want to frighten anyone with my music, but I do wanna know more about ‘the world of the musician.’ If music really is powerful, how can I develop it to the high level you speak of? You talked about emotion. If this power is developed through emotion, how do I develop it and express it through my music in a positive way?”

“Intention!” he answered without hesitation. “Intention is the key to everything.”

“What do you mean?”

“Emotions are natural. You have always had them and you will never get away from them. I look at my emotions the same way that I look at musical mistakes. Trying to get rid of them or control them can seem an impossible task. Learn to recognize and understand what they have to tell you. Only then can you effectively work with and use your emotions. How they are used is up to you. This is where intention comes in.

“Pure, honest intention can bring out the beauty of any emotion. And like notes, there is a world of beauty residing inside each one. The proper technique can bring you to the understanding and use of each emotion. Now you can start to see how the different elements of Music relate to and help each other.”

“But how do I use intention?” I asked. “You haven’t told me that yet.”

“Just have a good heart. That is all.”

I expected a more complicated answer. Michael paused in order to allow the simplicity to sink in. Sometimes he could discuss a concept for hours, and other times, just a few words did the trick. After I smiled and nodded, showing him that I understood, he continued.

“It is like trusting the river current to take you where you want to go. To fight the current could be disastrous. In each situation, whether it be in Music or in Life, take a moment to close your eyes and feel the current of your heart taking you where you need to be. After your awareness develops, you will no longer need to close your eyes. You will feel the pull of your heart’s current and ride it with open eyes, allowing you to view all the astounding scenery around you. I tell you this: If you can follow the current at all times, you will not have a thing to worry about, ever.”

Victor Wooten, The Music Lesson

Galatians 5:1
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Thank you


oday is Memorial Day—the day we remember those who paid the ultimate price in the defense of our liberty. I’m glad our nation takes this day to thank our fallen heroes. Sometimes it’s difficult to say, “thank you,” so this day helps those of us who don’t know how to put our feelings into words.

So thank you. Thank you to all of those in the military now, military veterans, and to all those POWs, MIAs, and KIAs who over the years have served and sacrificed so that our country may remain free and safe.

May 28, 2011

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Mystery. Style. Color. I love this photo that I took last Saturday at the Front Royal Wine & Craft Festival. A little bit later we got a picture of this woman and her friend in their hats and then had someone else take a picture of the two of them with my wife and me (because we were wearing hats too).

Hats aside, I love the emotion of this photo.

May 27, 2011

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

May 22, 2011

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This is my son loving up on a chicken. He loves anything that can be cuddled. After he played with these chickens he kept saying, “chickens are so lovable!” Go figure.

May 20, 2011

What’s in a name?

Often parents try to choose their childrens’ names by looking at the meanings of those names. For example, my name is Richard, which means "powerful ruler." Of course, my parents weren’t trying to make any particular statement with that name choice other than the fact that my father is also named Richard. And my name didn’t really predict my eventual outcome—at least not so far.

But some names do. Really. And not even necessarily given names. Last names... family names, sometimes tell the whole story as well.

For example, what do you think you could glean about a person whose last name is Stoner? If you haven’t figured anything out yet, let me help you with an excerpt from the most recent news snippet about this guy:

In 2007, Stoner was ordered into a pre-trial intervention program after a December 2006 arrest on charges of possession and manufacture of marijuana.

Yeah... that kind of Stoner. Oh—and why does every bizarre thing that happens in the United States happen in Pinellas County, Florida?

Read about this perfectly named dude here: [Man Named Stoner Arrested on Drug Charges]

Got gas?

May 19, 2011

What Fifty Said


ast night I called my parents. They had tried to call to wish us a happy 25th anniversary and a storm prevented us from taking their call. So I called them back last night and we talked about 25 years of marriage and fifty years of life. And I am reminded again of how old I am.

Fifty is a different age than all those milestones that have been passed before. I remember when I didn’t trust anyone over the age of 20. And then I was 20. And I remember when 30 sounded very old, until I turned 30. After that, 40 sounded really old—until I turned 40. Throughout all those years 50 sounded ancient. And now I’m just a few months away from turning 50. And it still sounds very old. And made older all the time when I look at those around me. Most people are younger than I am. And the people who are my age are far, far more accomplished than I am.

Last night my parents reminded me of their 25th anniversary. They celebrated by touring Europe for multiple weeks. For our celebration, Kim and I walked around the town of Front Royal, walked through a few stores where we couldn’t afford to buy anything, and then went to an inexpensive restaurant for dinner.

I’m beginning to see why this 50-year milestone has been more difficult to swallow. I’m not sure how it will end, but it has been a roller coaster year and doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. I guess the only thing I’ve learned so far is that I’m not nearly as smart as I used to think I was.

What Fifty Said

When I was young my teachers were the old.
I gave up fire for form till I was cold.
I suffered like a metal being cast.
I went to school to age to learn the past.

Now when I am old my teachers are the young.
What can't be molded must be cracked and sprung.
I strain at lessons fit to start a suture.
I got to school to youth to learn the future.

Robert Frost

May 18, 2011

They'll know we are Christians by our...


emember the song from the 60s, “We Are One In the Spirit”? I remember singing this song with full-on lack of attention to the lyrics, even at a time when I was urging everyone to pay attention to lyrics instead of to musical styles. My ulterior motives of wanting to enjoy rock music notwithstanding, I have always had a problem following my own advice.

We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love

So there we were, at the apex of the “Love” movement, the era of the hippies, joining with our culture in crying out for peace, kindness, and calling on everyone to make love, not war! What a sad and total failure we have produced.

When I sang that song with my well-intentioned friends, we saw the Christian community split into a few groups that didn’t mix well. At a high level there was the split between Catholics and Protestants. The Catholics had declared at Vatican I that non-Catholics were “anethema”—cursed. I was brought up in yet another faction—a subdivision of the Protestant collective known as Fundamentalists. Fundamentalists are known outside the Christian community as angry and bitter people—sort of the current iteration of the Puritan witch-hunters. That’s a much kinder view of Fundamentalist Christians than the view most Christians hold of Fundamentalists. In the Christian community Fundamentalism is most known for its total rejection of any person or group who behaves in a slightly different manner than they tell their own people to behave. It is known for its total rejection of any person or group who differs in the slightest regard (including semantically) from the doctrines they proclaim, in the manner they proclaim them, using the grammar, spelling, and syntax they use to proclaim them, or defending the exact same doctrines using a different bible version or hymnal than they would use. Not a pretty sight.

The Fundamentalists I knew growing up explained to us that Catholics were not to be called “anethema,” because that means that they are cursed and only God can curse someone. But they are definitely unsaved and headed straight to hell unless they repent of their Catholicism, make a profession of faith in the Baptist Faith & Message, and get full-body dunked before a crowd of onlookers. As for the rest of Evangelicalism/Protestantism, most of them are not truly Protestants because they still hold onto vestiges of Roman Catholicism. After all, the line went, Presbyterians talk of “sacraments” rather than “ordinances.” And some so-called Protestant churches actually observe more than two of those ordinances/sacraments. Clearly these people are more Roman Catholic than Protestant, and therefore will eventually end up in hell along with the Catholics.

I’m stating this a bit more strongly than the way it was presented to me as a child, but the message I heard was most definitely what I have just written.

Francis Schaeffer

Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.

So, we young’uns sat around and sang in a minor key about how great the world would be when “all unity will one day be restored and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” It was our version of “What the World Needs Now Is Love, Sweet Love.”

How are we doing now?

Perhaps I was unaware of the number of factions within Christianity back in those days, but it seems to me that we young idealistic Christians have become older, angrier, and less unified than our forebears. I remember the various Protestant denominations that seemed, quite clearly, to show a lack of unity. So our generation left the denominationalism of our parents and began our ministries under the monikers “Bible Church,” or “Community Church.” We told ourselves that we rejected the denominational groupings because that only divided people. When we couldn’t defend our theological position against someone well-armed with scripture, we belittled their understanding of scripture by saying, “well, I believe what I believe because I’m a Biblicist; I don’t follow a man-made systematic theology!”

Jump forward about 25 years to today. I see many people who proclaim themselves Biblicists who are not associating with many other people who proclaim themselves to be Biblicists. One of the primary leaders who decried the Fundamentalist movement of yesteryear has a blog that regularly pounces on perceived enemies in our midst. In any given month this blog will likely attack Peadobaptists, Amillennialists, New Paulists, Rob Bell, the Emergent Church, Preterists, Calvary Chapel, Franklin Graham, Dispensationalists, Pentacostals, those who believe in a continuation of all spiritual gifts, John Piper, Douglas Wilson, R.C. Sproul, Jr., and on and on. I hear the same things from almost every corner of the Christian world (at least the part of the Christian world I am familiar with).

Erwin W. Lutzer

Christianity demands a level of caring that transcends human inclinations.

I don’t think we’re doing a better job than those who raised us and taught the faith to us. I think we have thrown out many of the good things we were taught and kept the same vices. And then we have developed those vices in our own way. We have turned our guns to fire at different perceived sins, but we’re still firing away at the people who commit those sins rather than firing away at the sins or at the attitudes and beliefs that motivate people to commit those sins. We no longer say, “those people are terrible because they drink alcohol” (or go to movies, or dance, or dye their hair, or swim with people of the opposite sex); now we say, “those people are terrible because they vote Democrat” (or read books written by Norman Geisler, or graduated from Liberty University, or send their kids to public school, or associate with homosexuals). We did hold onto the stated defensive position of prior generations: We hate the sin but love the sinner, but we don’t demonstrate that love to people other than ourselves any better than did previous generations.

Mary Carolyn Davies

If I had known what trouble you were bearing;
What griefs were in the silence of your face;
I would have been more gentle and more caring,
And tried to give you gladness for a space.

I am as guilty of this as we all are. My rambling thoughts today are not directed at anyone other than myself. But I hope that we all can turn this around and begin to be known by our love instead of by our hatred of others.

And not everyone demonstrates this problem in the obvious ways I have stated here. God recently led our family to join together with a local body of believers that strives to demonstrate the love of Christ to everyone. New Hope Bible Church is a very unique church. Our pastor often comments that he is “living his dream as a pastor” because this church is filled with such wonderful people and God is doing such an obvious work among us. He’s right. And I praise God for directing our path to this church. Now I pray that I will become one of those wonderful people our pastor is talking about that have made his job such a pleasure. Not because our pastor wants it, but because Christ demands it.

May 15, 2011

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I took this picture one week ago when our family headed to the Shenandoah National Park to have a picnic along the Shenandoah River. My wife noticed these cows wading in the river. It’s so great to live in the country!

May 12, 2011

Wouldn’t be fun to say this?


ometimes you just get the desire to let other people know how illogical they are. Not that I always show myself to be intelligent, but sometimes I just wonder how people manage to put one foot in front of the other.

And on those occasions, it would be great to be able to say something like this:

May 06, 2011

It's Friday... and time for music


fter a long and very busy week, during which I posted nothing at all, it’s finally Friday! And now it’s time to kick back and relax with some amazingly awesome music.

I present to you... Michael Hedges:

The only difference [between sports and music] is that [sports has] competition built in. That can cause disunity between athletes and their fans. Just as in politics, it can pit one person against another, based solely on which team each supports. Although a great athlete can cause a person to rise above this disunity, there is no built-in negative quality like that in Music.


When we attend a Music concert, we do not go in order to compete. When we put on a recording, we are not trying to win. Music is more significant than that.

Victor L. Wooten, The Music Lesson:
A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music

May 01, 2011

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I took the photo of this beautiful flowering tree a couple weeks ago as I walked around the neighborhood. I love springtime in Virginia. It’s just so gorgeous!