Sunday, December 25, 2011

Apology to My Non-Christian Friends

I'm sorry that we Christians have defined this holiday as "the war on Christmas." I'm sorry that we get our panties in a bunch over the use of the word Xmas. I'm sorry that we write CHRISTmas, as if you hadn't seen the root word before. I'm sorry that we display the zeal of politicians in our embrace of Christmastime. I'm sorry that some Christians will read this and think, "Don't apologize for me!"

Even though you may not embrace Jesus as the center of this season, I appreciate that you like to embrace the general goodness and generosity of this season. I appreciated that you too, try to make this world a bit better during this season. I appreciate every kindness you extend to strangers regardless of your beliefs. I'm sorry that some of my fellow Christians don't appreciate that about you because "you're not getting it exactly right" from a Christian perspective.

I want you to know that like my fellow Christians, I too am guilty of making it a point to say things like Merry Christmas and God bless you, more than I am actually serving people in compassionate ways. I want my life to be exemplified as the hands and feet of my Savior, but sometimes--maybe even especially at this busy time of year--I give lip service to my faith more than actual compassionate acts. I'm sorry if I've displayed my Christ-laced words more than my Christ-based lifestyle.

But I want you to know that I and other Christ followers are trying to do better. I am so proud of my church. Can I share just a little? Just one small paragraph, I promise.

This past year we've given over 20,000 lbs of food to people in need in Kokomo. We've given 4,000+ man hours to help people and organizations in need. We've built two wells in third world countries. We bought a trailer this year just so we can take tangible things to people in need. But please don't hear bragging; I'm just proud that we're stepping up our tangible ways that reflect the heart of Jesus.

Like other churches, my church isn't perfect. We're doing better trying to live out our Christ-centered beliefs, but we have tons of room to grow. We are trying. I am trying.

Even though we Christians get it wrong, turning this season into a war and showing you our zeal; I want you to know that my heart breaks a little every time we don't lead with love. My Savior was all about love. He is love. That's what I want you to see and know. That love...the real love of Christ changes my life a little every day. I'm sorry it's not always the first thing we lead with.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Merry Xmas...


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Politically Incorrect Music Editorial

There are two groups of singers/front men pictured. Take a look at them. Look closely.

One of these I can naturally relate with; the other not-so-much. As I write this I am 47. I relate with the older guys, but not because of age. It's because of something less tangible.

One these groups simply isn't very manly. They embrace their not-so-toughness and wear it like a badge of honor. I have no problem with that. No problem.

It's just that I don't relate with it. As I was coming of age, it was all about becoming a man. Not like a mindless macho douche kind of way, but in the completeness of manhood. Tough enough to not run from a fight. And tender and intelligent enough to appreciate art.

One group looks like it would have been chased down the halls of high school. The other group might be the chasers. One I relate with and the other I don't.

I'm not trying to trash a certain style of band here. It's just that I've been wrestling with why I'm not identifying with a lot of the current music style. Part of it is my age. I'll give you that. But the other real part of it is I don't relate with guys who could get beat up by most of the girls on their high school volleyball team. There. I said it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thoughts on Guns and Protection

(Just for the record, my interest in shooting for recreational enjoyment started months before our little ordeal in Haiti. My interest in guns is not a reactionary response to what happened there. I am interested in recreational shooting. I'm not interested in guns for the protection of my home. Currently I do not yet own a gun. I do love to borrow them ;-)

So a few months ago my friend Daryl B. asks me to go to the shooting range. I've always been fascinated with guns so I said a quick yes. Honestly I had low expectations. I figured he'd be a great shot given his current military career. And I figured I'd suck, since I hadn't fired but a few guns in my life; none of which was recently. I guessed it would be like playing horse with Kobe Bryant.

It was a banner day. It turns out I didn't suck! I wasn't ready for Top Shot, but I did ok. Physically, it was fun. And the big surprise was what an emotional therapy session it was. Holding something lethal in one's hand has a singular way of focusing one's thoughts. It de-cluttered my mind. It did for my gray matter what a masseuse does for my back muscles. And did I mention it goes BOOM? In your hand?

On the periphery of this new hobby (and coming back from Haiti) is a line of thinking that I'd like to address.

People want to keep a handgun in the house to protect themselves and their family.
I have no problem if someone wishes to do that. But I do want to state that the idea of any kind of gun in the bedroom is a last resort; a last line of defense. So here are some thoughts on this:

a.) Before you spend money on a gun for the bedroom, spend way less than the price of a gun for lighting around your house and property. Lights are proven to be a great deterrent to bad guys.

b) Invest in solid doors on your house with solid dead bolt locks.

c) Keep you cell phone by your bed. 911 is a great defense. Even if you have a gun, don't you want back-up? (As many of us have dropped our land line, our cell phone is often charging in another room. Safer to keep it charging by your bed.)

d) If you're legitimately concerned about people getting in your house, get an alarm system. A gun alone is a horrible defense plan. Putting several things in place like lighting and an alarm system that greatly prevent you from having to use the gun, is a plan.

e) Having to shoot someone has strings attached. As my friend Daryl said,

"Be thankful none of you had to kill one of those Haitians. That creates another whole level of trauma and personal issues."

This is from a man who knows firsthand of which he speaks. Also consider the trauma to one's family.

f) A gun is not a system. Put a plan in place so the gun is the last resort, the final line of defense in your multistage system.

Plug: My friend Rodney Godfrey owns & runs Griffon Alarm & Security 765-513-6131

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Baby is Proof...God Cries Too

Click here for a free PDF copy of my message text.
   (Click here if you need FREE Adobe Reader to read PDFs.)

By Tuesday afternoon an audio version shows up here.
Or you can open iTunes & search for "Oakbrook Podcasts"

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bought a Car...via TWITTER!

So Meg was able to buy her first car today--through Twitter! She and I were looking at used car lots last Saturday and quickly realized that the amount she had saved was more of a private sale car price than a car lot price.

I thought, "Hmmm, wonder if one of my 800+ Facebook friends might have or know of a car for sale in that price range?" I tweeted it since my Twitter automatically dumps into Facebook.

Within a minute I get a tweet from someone I didn't know that says he has something in Meg's price range. I tweet back to find out where he is and we're off to Adam's Auto Group.

We get there and a man flags me down. "Hi I'm Jeff Kearnes. I'm Kevin Sprinkles brother. He said I should follow you (on Twitter) because you're funny. I recognized your picture from the Haiti deal and so I said to our manager, 'Can we make something happen for this guy?'"

So he shows us this late model Grand Prix with the 3800 engine they just took in. He said they'd go over it, make some repairs and even though they'd planned to price it much higher, they'd give it to us for what Meg had saved. Wow...seriously?!

How cool is social media? When shopping for a car, a car can find you! And how cool is the generosity of Jeff Kearnes and Sam Holloway that they'd try to make a deal for a guy they didn't know, but through a story in the local news?

And how cool is God who uses creative means and good-hearted people to provide yet again?

See you on the Twitters!

p.s. Thanks to my other friends who immediately replied to Facebook and offered to help as well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Baby is Proof, wk1

Click here for a free PDF copy of my message text.
   (Click here if you need FREE Adobe Reader to read PDFs.)

By Tuesday afternoon an audio version shows up here.
Or you can open iTunes & search for "Oakbrook Podcasts"

Will the month ramping into Christmas be:
A 4-week shopping trip
An intimate relationship?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

How am I Doing, Really?

It's now a week later after the attack on our apartment in Haiti by six armed gunmen. (Click here for the Oakbrook recap of it.) A natural question for people is, "How are you doing?"

Let me answer that by first taking you to my myopic view of the ordeal. I awaken to the siege in progress. I walked out of my bedroom door into a struggle just a couple feet away at our exterior door; bad men trying to rush our door. Chris Herr, Jason Braun, Bruce Donaldson, and Brad Downing were holding an unlatched door closed; unlatched because they had lodged a crowbar and other items in it.

Jason shouts, "Morg, get on the door!" From there Jason and Brad run to work on a plan B. They settled on plan C, Jason jumping out the window for help. Bruce hung in there by the door until he yells, "I'm shot!" He goes for a towel for the blood that's flowing from his arm.

The rest of the 25-30 minute assault it's Chris and I on the door. The entire time the Haitians trying to rush it. I turn my head towards Rex as he screams as he's shot. It's getting crazier and bloodier. More desperate. I'm scare to the depths of my soul. I have cotton-mouth to a ridiculous degree. I'm shouting prayers. Gunmen are shooting. Glass is breaking. There's no power; it's dark. I hear them reload. A round shoots through the door. Had I not moved seconds earlier it would have hit me in the chest.

I feel an intense heat on my left thigh. I say, "Shit. I'm shot! Shit, shit, shit. I'm shot!" I only know that because Rex told me later. I had no recollection of saying that. In my mind, I simply realized because of the heat and feeling the blood rolling down my leg, that I'd been shot. I never felt the slightest pinch of the bullet.

Chris and I stay on the door. I know I'm shot but my leg seems to still work. It only makes sense to stay with Chris on the door. If they get in it's over for sure. I'm not thinking; I'm simply reacting. At what feels like the utter desperation point, I start yelling as loudly as I can, repeatedly, "STOP SHOOTING AT US!"

Shortly thereafter there is no rush upon the door. Are they reloading? No. They have left.

At this point an unbelievable peace and assurance washed over me. Time slows down back into real time. I need shoes. I need help walking to get my wound tended to. Joel and I share a worship chorus. I ask Joel to help me walk because I may be standing only because of adrenaline; perhaps my leg will buckle as I settle down.

I am relieved. I am only shot. Nothing like the more terrifying thoughts I had moments ago. I get to the back bedroom. Several people are there in various stages of shock and emotion. It's clear that I need to stay calm and help calm others. I make a joke about not being able to drum tonight. More than bandages, I want a drink of water. Maggie almost drowns me.

I'm laying on the bed while DeeDee puts a towel on my bloody leg. I turn my head to the left and see my sister (ok, she is like a sister to me) Julie sobbing in front of Shelia. I call her over. I pull her head into my chest, put my hand on her head and say in a repeating whisper, "It's ok. We're all ok."

This may sound odd, but I've been ok ever since the gunmen left our apartment. That's not to say I haven't been sad, worried, troubled, mad and a host of other emotions, but I have had peace.

I think one of the questions that has nagged at my soul all of my adult life is, "Do I really have what it takes? If it hits the fan, will I freeze or be able to stand?" I've had bad dreams where I couldn't speak or move.

But it's as if in the calm of the gunmen's exit, the Holy Spirit said to me, "Let's not ask this question any more. You held the door. With a bullet wound, you stayed on the door then kept a cool head. You have what it takes."

To be incredibly clear, I count everything I was able to do as grace and provision from God. All of us were in the places God wanted us to be. I didn't make any decisions that night other than staying where Jason asked me to be.

At this point I consider myself blessed to be more whole than I was before this hideous ordeal. I ran how I was feeling about all this past one of our trauma counselors. He said that there is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that we often hear about. There is also something called Post Traumatic Growth, where we grow or learn something positive having been through trauma. That's how I feel. I feel more like the man God made me to be.

How am I doing? By the grace of God Almighty I am more whole than I have ever been---even with two holes in my leg ;-)

Much love to the tons of people who've expressed love, concern and said prayers on my (and our) behalf. Keep praying for healing for our team!



Monday, November 7, 2011

Oakbrook Staff Learns from Scott Pitcher

From time to time our Oakbrook staff hits the road to sit under local leaders to try to learn and grow. Last Tuesday we were graciously hosted by local businessman and entrepreneur, Scott Pitcher.

In addition to being the driving force behind Kokomo having an attractive downtown, he's also been instrumental in Oakbrook's development over the years. Everything from wise advice to a young Mark Malin to offering us first shot at the land that is our current church home on Emerald Lake.

Here are just some of the things I took away:

"You gotta have a little bit of a mean streak and a lot of patience to survive in this business."

"Before I put together the front of the house for Cook McDoogals I had my secretary order every book Amazon had on Irish pubs..."

"Kokomo is now in a lateral market; when one business opens, another one closes...the housing market isn't coming back for a while. Now's a great time to buy."

"There's nothing new in architecture since the 3rd century."

"Everything cycles."

"I'm paid to be an optimist."

What do you have to do and what shouldn't you do for Fortune Management? "I have to set the quality standard on every job every day. The girls in the front office really run the company. I couldn't do what they do."

You've had lots of opportunities. You could have moved to other areas of the country. Why Kokomo?
"It's home...Kokomo is what we make's a good city--it's well run compared to lots of cities..."

What do you think about the future of Kokomo? "Since Chrysler's putting a billion in I'd say we're good for another generation...Syndicate Sales and Haynes are doing well...I think we're going to be fine...but there are always challenges wherever you go..."

I love being around Scott Pitcher. He's a colorful guy who's like an iceberg: much more to him than meets the eye. He's a tough businessman, a generous soul, a creative genius, an infectious optimist and when the history of Kokomo is written, there will be a chapter on him.

Bibles for Haiti UPDATE

How do you buy 48* Creole Bibles for Haiti at a cost of over $1,440? One or two at a time!

I published this post soliciting help purchasing Bibles on Oct 11 and they've been trickling in since. Mostly one Bible at a time. Sometimes two, a couple of times, four at a time.

They were purchased predominantly by people from Oakbrook but I know of at least one from a friend in West Virginia. They were purchased by 20-somethings to senior citizens and every age in between.

If people say that Facebook and Twitter are only noise, I have 48* reasons that say this isn't so. It was through social media that I was able to get the message out and how people responded.

We will take many of these with us this Saturday. I expect that we have enough Bibles to send some with subsequent trips heading down in the next few months.

It's important to note that there is a genuine desire to know God and His Word among the Haitian people. These will be highly appreciated and prized.

Cynics often ask, "Why take Bibles to starving people in Haiti?"

The answer is simple. We are trying to minister to them holistically--to their hunger for food and their hunger for God. Missions isn't base needs OR spiritual needs. It's base needs AND spiritual needs because people hunger for both. People need food to get through today and hope to want to rise tomorrow.

A huge heart-felt thanks to everyone who bought a Creole Bible!

One more request: If you bought one, pray for the future recipient of it... 

Our team will be there Nov 12-21. If you'd like to pray for us:
Jason & Cole Braun
Didi Petty
Brad Downing
Bruce Donaldson
Chris & Linda Herr
Shelia Miller
Julie Baldini 
 (of the "Flying Baldinis" circus fame)
Maggie Duncan
Monty Sanders
Joel Larison
Rex Byers
Morgan Young

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Grace: wk 1, "Chosen by Grace"

Click here for a free PDF version of my talk.
(Click here to get free Acrobat Reader to view PDFs)

Tuesday an MP3 shows up here.
Or in iTunes search "Oakbrook Podcasts"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Will You Buy a Bible for Haiti?

I'm heading to Haiti with a team from Oakbrook Church to share Christ with the rural people around the village of Koupon.

There is a huge shortage of Creole Bibles in Haiti. Many Haitians know how to read (and more are learning) and many have a serious desire for the Bible; but God's Word isn't available.

Would you buy a Creaole Bible so we can take it to Haiti in Nov? My hope is we would have have cases we can take down; some now and some with each team that goes.

Click here to buy one (black) for $25.75 +ship*. Or click here (red) if the other link says "sold out."

Simply drop it off at Oakbrook Church or have it shipped directly:
Oakbrook Church
3409 S. 200 W.
Kokomo IN 46902
Please help us share the hope and Word of God with the receptive people of Haiti.

Thanks in advance for your help. If you order one I'd love to know--think about posting on this blog if you do.

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations..." 

(*It is very hard to find any kind of Creole Bible. These are somewhat pricey but that is because the law of supply & demand. There is simply no supplier for an inexpensive Bible that Haitians can understand.)

Bible 101: Circumcision

A question that comes up a lot when people start reading the Old Testament is, "What's the deal with circumcision? What does it mean?"

We see this in Genesis 17:9-14. Click here to read it, then come back. I'll wait.

(Thought you'd never get back. Not a speed reader? Me neither...)

Why did God require circumcision:

1. As a sign of obedience to Him in all matters.

2. As a sign of belonging to his covenant* people. (*God promised to be with the Jews--His chosen people.) Once circumcised, there was no turning back. A man would be identified as a Jew forever.

3. As a symbol of "cutting off" the old life of sin, purifying one's heart and dedicating oneself to God.
(credit: NLT Life Application Study Bible)

Now aren't we all relieved Jesus is the way of a new covenant? ;-)

Monday, October 3, 2011


c2 stand for "Christ Centered." We're in a series based on the natural movements that one goes through from the beginnings of faith to maturity in faith:

EXPLORING Christ > GROWING in Christ > CLOSE to Christ > Christ CENTERED

This is my teaching on Relationships, or as I hijacked it; CONNECTEDNESS.

Click here for a PDF transcript.
(Get FREE Acrobat Reader to view & download PDFs)

By Tues an MP3 will be posted here.
Or in iTunes search "Oakbrook Podcasts"

"If only there was an audio Bible narrated by Marcel the Shell." ;-)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Church Artists: The 2nd Service

What seems like most of my 19 year tenure at our church, we've had two or more services. In recent years we've been at one service--and gotten used to it. Two weeks ago we're gladly back at two services.

My observation of the band last week, and dialoguing with guys I was playing with this week, reminded me that as a musician (or vocalist), the second service is harder.

This might not make sense, since intuitively you have one under your belt. You have the confidence that you and the rest of the crew can pull it off. This is deceptive.

It's harder for a number of reasons:

1. You're talking and hanging out with friends in between services. Your mind is elsewhere.
2. Your adrenaline is down--you don't have that natural edge you had in the first service.
3. Emotionally, you've done it before; it's not fresh; doesn't feel spontaneous. 

Playing well in the second service requires something we didn't have to conjure up for the first service that we don't talk about in music rehearsals: discipline.

The second performance requires us to be more disciplined mentally. It's tougher in the space between our ears. And as musicians can be an emotional lot, this feels odd. We're having to think and focus more on something we'd rather feel more spontaneously.

You might say that the uncertainty of never having performed this set, fuels us in the 1st service. But it's our mental focus that fuels the 2nd service.

Musicians want to feel music similarly to the way we all want to feel love. And it actually works very much the same.

When we start dating someone (with whom we're compatible), just being with them fuels our feelings of attraction. The situation of newly dating seems to provide its own fuel. That's the first service.

But after enough time passes, emotional love doesn't exist without the discipline of loving actions. We're no longer new to each other--the situation no longer fuels us quite like it used to. So we choose loving actions that result in loving emotions--that's how post-courtship love works. That's the second service.

What music teams are doing in churches is art. And art requires discipline. Art without discipline isn't very good art, really. So I encourage us as church arts teams to grow in the discipline of playing second services even better than the first.

And please don't get me wrong--I am not mentally robotically playing the second service. That would be hideous. That wouldn't be art.

I am trying to be at least as emotionally vested in the second service as I was the first--and perhaps more. I'm trying to nail it technically and authentically exude it emotionally. This is difficult. I didn't learn to do it overnight. And that my friends is what makes it art...


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Say Something Before You Do Something

In this point in history we are a very vocal people. That is, on social media and to our friends. We're vocal in all the easiest of situations.

But if there's something or someone we don't like; if there's something we don't care for, we quietly, secretly back away. We back away from friends, family, church, restaurants, websites...without a word to those involved.

Last year we had what I thought was a raw deal in terms of a cut-and-dried auto insurance claim. It had been bugging me. I was thinking about leaving our long-time agent. So I went to his office and politely, respectfully talked to him about it like a human. I told him my thoughts and why I was entertaining leaving.

We tried to help each other better understand each other. I talked with him like a man, not an agent. And he talked with me like man, not a customer. I'm probably more likely to stay with him after that. But I'm not 100%. If I do leave his agency, he will know why.

The other day I renewed one of my website domain names. The website was horrible. It was like a visual representation of an army of Billy Maze's yelling at me. I emailed the company. I respectfully told them I didn't appreciate their strategy and that they could do better; that their web strategy will make me reconsider using them in the future.

Those examples were pretty benign: insurance and a website. But what about the local restaurant that goes out of business because no one tells the manager/owner what the product or service was like?

What about the spouse that you stop communicating with because you don't have the nerve to engage them about______________?

What about the friend that's just easier to stop contacting because of ________________?

We think negatively: believing that our words will not result in any change, and so we keep quiet. But in reality our words might initiate change or understanding.

Then of course, if we withhold our words, it's a 100% certainty that things will continue on like they always have.

We're talking about integrity. Believing the best in someone or an organization. Believing that someone might be open to our words. Believing that the other party does not want to let us down or worse.

Holding back our words will certainly add no value to that person or organization.

Holding back our words will simply fester and annoy us while the other party goes blindly and obliviously on their (sometimes errant) way.

In the Bible there is this concept that we all belong to each other. This wise truth makes it harder for me to keep from saying something to people or organizations. Even if that person or organization isn't Christian, isn't it better for everyone if I treat them this way?

The ways of complaining, whining, ranting to uninvolved parties is easy. Integrity--finding respectful ways to appropriately speak into people and organizations is more challenging. And it is the path that potentially makes both parties better. Integrity is doing the right thing even if the other party doesn't.

Not saying something because you don't think the other party will respond in kind, is dysfunction.

Our culture needs more integrity. Integrity rises and falls on all of my interactions and all of yours--from simple things like insurance to momentous things like marriages.

We all belong to each other.
Respectfully say something before doing something.
We can all get better; with each other's help.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Learning from Younger People to...

1. Be Connected
Social media is so much than more noise in my life. It's the potential for real time connections, reconnecting and connecting with people I'd never have the chance to before.

Authors like Mark Batterson, Shannon O'Dell, Rob Bell, Donald Miller, Andy Stanley & Craig Groeschel are speaking every day, and I listen in on Twitter.

The other morning I had a real time 3-way Twitter conversation on my phone with two friends: one in Noblesville and the other in Nashville.

And because life's too serious, I follow Tweets from Jim Gaffigan, The Church Curmudgeon & my son ;-)

2. Be Concise
Now that every baby boomer is on Facebook it's full of bloated posts & comments that look more like essays. Twitter forces me to pare it down. What am I really saying? How do I say it in 140 characters? That's a healthy discipline. I've noticed it's reshaping how I think as well--thinking in more concise thoughts--getting down to the issue.

3. Be Open
Lately I've noticed how much I've heard people my age proudly proclaim, "Ah, I have email and texting. I don't need Facebook or that Tweet thing!"

Let me paraphrase that, "I'm old and don't care what anyone else is doing. I don't need to keep up with the times. I don't need to learn new technology or ways of staying in touch with people."

Imagine someone saying as the telephone was coming in, "Well who needs some clanging noise-maker in their house when I can go down to the telegraph office and get it in writing?"

4. Be Patient
It's so easy at this age to want to jump in, redirect, show them the "right" way. (As if I'm always right ;-)
It's harder to be patient and gracious. It's easy to butt in. They remind me how much I wanted to do it myself at that age.

This is challenging. I want to add advice appropriately, sparingly, encouragingly. I also want them to feel valued and built up. I want young people to smile when I'm headed their direction; not annoyed, "Great, here comes Morgan again..." (Insert eye roll.)

5. Be Alive
Younger people model excitement and happiness like no one else. The things they love in this life ooze out of them. They smile and laugh a lot. They're passionate.

What a noble, endearing and attractive quality. And as I observe them, I realize the more decades I live, the more likely that stuff nu-noticeably leaks out of me, a drop at a time. Resenting this trait will make me old before my time. Aspiring to be more like them in this, has the opposite effect.

Speak Up
I'm blessed to have so many younger people in my life. I'm not just living a segregated life of people my own age. There are so many integrity-filled and talented younger people I have the privilege to know, work and serve with.

To all the younger people in my relational world, I ask that you would speak into my life when you see something that I need to grow in. I want to be open. I want to be approachable. I want to be connected with you. I want us to learn from each other and have fun in the process.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Andy Stanley; Recovery Road pt 1

This talk is about the road to recovery in America. I've yet to hear anyone speak so profoundly and simply about it. This is a bright bright spot in Christendom. Please make the time to watch it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

ReWork ReView

It's a new day. Our world, and specifically our working world, is different. Who can deny it?

As social media, marketing, and cultural guru Seth Godin preaches, "We're in the post industrial age." Which means we've left the age that was almost single-handedly defined by Henry Ford: Americans mass producing things for Americans and the world.

We've not just left the age of mass production, but also the age of rigidly defined processes and hierarchies. The industrial age was defined by things like boxes, rules, authorities and permission. This new age? Not so much.

As I've 100% agreed with this view, that we're in a new age in America; I've also wondered, "What does that look like? What specifically defines the post industrial age workplace? What is it and how do we function?"

ReWork has answered those questions!

This book has not only put tangibility to this new age, but even the form of the book is a reflection of it. Out of 271 pages, the chapters (lack of better word) are a mere 1-3 pages. The ideas: simple, concise, applicable.

Who is it for? Everyone. People who care about their career. Business owners. People wanting to start a business. College students. Church leaders. Non-profit people. People who want to get better. People who want to grow with the times.

Some of my personal underlines:

"Whenever you can, swap 'Let's think about it' for 'Let's decide on it'...Don't wait for the perfect solution. Decide and move forward." 77

"Delegators are dead...everyone's got to be productive. No one can be above the work." 218

"Build an audience (v customers) audience returns often--on its own--to see what you have to say." 170

"Make tiny decisions...the best way to achieve those big things is one tiny decision at a time." 130

"Interruption is the enemy of get in the alone zone. Long stretches of alone time when you're most productive." 104

"Meetings are
1. Set a timer. When it rings, meeting's over. Period.
2. Invite as few people as possible.
3. Always have a clear agenda.
4. Begin with a specific problem." 108

"Hire the best writer...clear writing is a sign of clear thinking...they makes things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else's shoes. They know what to omit...writing is today's currency for good ideas." 222

"Send people home at don't need more hours; you need better hours." 258

"They're not thirteen. When you treat people like children, you get children's work...when everything needs approval, you create a culture of nonthinkers." 255

Check it out.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I Have Issues

One of the thing we do well in our culture is ruin words: Gay, bitch, cock, balls.

The Flintsones had a gay ol' time.
Our greyhound is a bitch and a great one at that.
The gun isn't automatic, you have to cock it.
Let's pickup the dodge balls, people.

Odds are that's not how you interpreted those words in the opening sentence.

And let's not leave out words like: Muslim, conservative, liberal and Christian.

These words used to be benign adjectives; descriptors. Words that helped define a picture. Now, to large groups of people, each of these is a very negative adjective. Each paints a dark picture.

Just as ball can be the toy of an innocent toddler and an anatomical noun (whew!), so too Muslim can be a person of faith or someone with terrorist ties.

For me, I'm vexed by the word Christian. Some of my best friends are Christians. Some of the people that most irritate me are also Christians. Oh yeah, I'm a pastor. Is this a problem?

This dynamic seems to ebb and flow in my life. Probably because in the first 20 years of my life the thing that most repelled me from faith was the "faithful." God seemed good. The "godly," not so much.

I'm in that mode again. Two weeks ago I attended the Global Leadership Summit, a very Christian event. And it rocked my soul, challenged my mind, strengthened relationships, revealed the Holy Spirit of God and made me so proud to be thrown into the pot with the Christian label on the outside.

Then a week later my Christian brethren (why do only Christians have brethren?) threw a great Christian friend of mine under the bus for blogging in a way that offended them.

My inner dialogue went something like this:

"&%$# Christians! Glad we can count on our people to beat up our own people. Where's the flippin' grace we LOVE to sing and preach about, peckers?! Maybe I should get out of the game...maybe I could have these same beliefs and only renounce my affiliation with Christians?..." Seriously. (This is called "I Have Issues" for a reason.)

Of all the things I have belonged to in my 4+ decades of life, Christianity is the only one I have been cautious about owning up to 100% of the time. I never hesitated to tell people what school I went to, what activities I was into, what music I was into etc. But in owning my Christianity...sometimes I play it like a hand in a poker game.

And it's funny, I'm never second guessing who God is or what He calls us too. But some days the word Christian feels like the word ______(your choice: conservative / liberal) does to you.

I hate this. I feel bad. I feel bad in the sense that as a member of Christianity I have had a part in ruining the word Christian by what I've done or not done in front of family, friends or people I don't even know.

And too, I have this hideous tendency to have the most hate for things in others that exist in me.

The thing is, if we're judging by externals, I'm mostly kind of rockin' the Christian thing. But in the less public parts of me, some moments, not so much.

So maybe my condemnation for the people who are clearly publicly botching the word Christian is my way of dysfunctionally yelling at myself for those unchristian thoughts and struggles that rear their ugly heads in my life.

Oh yeah, reared is also a ruined word. Seriously, stop snickering.

My name is Morgan Young and I have issues. And I'm trying to rock the Christian label inside and out. What say we rebuild the word Christian, one thought and one action at a time?

Now I gotta go let my bitch out...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

We're So Full of Piss and Vinegar

Christians, I mean. Probably some are outraged at the title of this post. "How inappropriate for a pastor to use the 'p' word in a public forum!" Even though we'll all hear far worse words than that tonight on TV and not bat an eye.

As much as I love the internet and all it makes possible to me, it also serves up an unloving and quick-to-judge side of us Christians.

This writing is fresh off yesterday's post on worship by Tim Stevens (original post, followup post). And before that, it was the firestorm of anger toward Rob Bell.

Here's the response to Tim in a nutshell: "How could you? You're immature. You're embarrassing. You annoy me. You're elitist. Self-absorbed. I've lost all respect for you. Quit being so self-serving, I'd never go to your church..."

(To be fair, several posters thanked him for his transparency and honest sharing in the spirit of helping us all get better and for saying what they'd wanted to say.)

Sadly we Christians respond just like the culture does these days. If people think differently than we do, we write them off personally. Jab their character and throw stones.

In terms of Tim and Rob it's as if their body of work up to that point didn't matter; like they're as good as their last soundbite.

I think a better way to love is to ask questions. A better way to love may be to seek first to understand (S. Covey), rather than condemn. It looks like this:

"Tim, it reads to me like you're tearing people down, being sarcastic...was that your intent or am I misunderstanding?"

"What was your purpose in writing that--I think I missed the point--I'm confused by it. Can you help me understand?"

Those are better lead ins, I think. These questions presume the best about a man who's served God in incredible ways for decades.

I'm talking about civility. Assuming the best about someone with different opinions. Respecting someone simply because everyone has value. Civility is hugely missing in our country right now.

I believe civility ought to be thriving amongst God's people. I remember reading somewhere about people outside the faith knowing Christians by how much they loved each other.

And why I'm here...I don't understand the general defensive and argumentative nature about the topic of worship among Christians in social media. At the heart of worship is this idea of unblemished lambs; bringing something excellent.

As far as I can tell, when talking about a skill set like musical worship, pursuing excellence and getting better requires discussions, feedback, coaching and evaluating.

Maybe this subject is a powder keg because we musicians are touchy, sensitive and opinionated as hell instead of being totally surrendered to heaven. (That was just for me. I'm a musician and I struggle.)

This world is watching us more than ever, because what we say isn't hearsay anymore. It's written word for word on Facebook and Twitter. And our piss and vinegar interactions enable would be Christians to look in and say,

"Eh, it looks as jacked up as political circles to me--I don't need more of that crap in my life."

We have the Love of the world inside us. Let's let Him out--especially when we don't agree with someone or understand where they're coming from.

Love does indeed make all the difference.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Global Leadership Summit Day 2

Mama Maggie Gobran
This extraordinary woman killed me before she spoke a word. Her presence...her facial people welcomed her with applause. It was simply other. I've never experienced anything like it. I have no words worthy to capture it. Her presence eclipsed her words like nothing I've ever sensed.

"The silence is the secret...the kingdom lies within..."

"Silence your body to listen to your words.
Silence your tongue to listen to your thoughts.
Silence your thoughts to listen to your beating heart.
Silence your heart to listen to your spirit.
Silence your spirit to listen to His Spirit."

"In silence we leave many to be with the One."

Michelle Rhee
"It wasn't just about closing 23 schools, it was about changing the culture."

"Teachers rated high while kids were falling behind was a problem."

"I'd rather deal with anger than apathy."

"If you turn your attention to who's yelling the loudest, you may turn your back on who needs you the most."

"I'm an aspiring Christian." ;-)

Dr. Henry Cloud
"God called you to be a steward over a vision--He's called you to change or affect something."

"When your maturity in one area is not strong enough, add an external structure."

Wise people: When truth comes to them, they adjust. They like feedback, it makes them happy. So talk to them, resource them, coach them, keep them challenged.

Fools: When truth comes to them, they adjust the truth. Excuses, minimize problems,don't own things, shoot the messenger. Do not like feedback.

So stop talking to them. Give them limits. Ask, "How can I talk with you so this will make a difference?...what will we do if I do what you want but nothing changes?"

Fools can change:
1. Limit exposure
2. Clear consequences
3. Give them a choice
4. Follow thru

Evil people: Destruction in their hearts; want to inflict pain. "reject a divisive person after a 2nd warning." Be prepared for lawyers, guns and money. (just for fun)

John Dickson
5 reasons to cultivate humility:

1. It's common sense
2. It's beautiful
3. It's generative (we learn new things b/c of it)
4. It's persuasive "The most persuasive person in the world is the one who has our best interest in mind."
5. It's inspiring

"We don't need a Christian nation to win a nation for Christ."

(In response to meeting U2 as impressionable young musicians) "Because they acted like us we believed we could be like them."

The crucifixion changed how people perceived humility. It was a negative trait in the world up to that point. Philippians 2:3-8 was the first text in human history to connect humility with greatness.

Pat Lencioni
(Funniest man with deep insights I've ever experienced.)

"People need reminded more than instructed."

"Vulnerability is powerful." His new book Getting Naked.

3 Fears of Vulnerability:

1. Fear of losing business (rejection)
"Enter the danger."
(Idea of improv group taking the most "out there" idea from the audience.)
Don't avoid difficult situations and things you don't know the answer to.
"Speak the kind truth." People are hungry for people who care enough to do this.

2. Fear of being embarrassed
"Ask dumb questions."
"Celebrate mistakes."
(Story of lady who farted in conference room but didn't acknowledge it--oh my.)

3. Fear of feeling inferior
"Do the menial things...serve so interested in people."
(Story of his agent wearing "Little Miss Matched" socks.)

"We're called to be vulnerable by the One who never had to be."

Erwin McManus
"There's nothing new under the sun is false!...After that was written, the virgin birth was new, parting Red Sea was new, crucifixion, resurrection etc."

"Outside of God, there's nothing new under the sun. Inside of God, there's no limit to what can be new!"

"There's never been an ordinary baby born on this planet, but too many of us die ordinary."

"The church needs to be the nurturer of the human spirit."

"People are going to die with dreams still in their souls."

"We (Christians) used to be the best poets in the world."

"Whoever tells the best story, shapes the culture."

"It's not hard to lead people to Jesus when you tell them a story they can see themselves in."

Global Leadership Summit Day 1

The Summit is one of the highlights of my year. I so wish everyone who follows Christ would attend. No, that's too narrow. Add to that, "And everyone who cares about this world." That's better.

It's like getting a drink of high octane truth and revelation from a fire hydrant. It's rocket fuel for the soul coming at you at mach 2. It can change our lives and those with whom we interact. Here are some sound bytes (forgive my paraphrases & misquotes.)

Bill Hybels
"We do our best work between 'appropriately challenged' and 'dangerously challenged.'"

"We have to field and develop fantastic people in a fantastic ministry to serve a fantastic God."

"Are you naming, facing and solving the problems that exist in your organization?"

"Can you some up what you're about as a church in 5 words?"
("Love. Evil. Rescue. Choice. Restore.")

"What if your next 5 years were your best 5 years?"

Len Schlesinger

"Data says that everything we assume about entrepreneurs is not true:
They don't tend to love risk and have a clear vision."

"We are all entrepreneurs, just too few get to practice it."

"The idea that we can deal with things sequentially is false."

"Historical results do not predict the future. So if you can't predict the future, create it!"

"To be an entrepreneur, imagine you're Indiana Jones having fallen down a pitch black hole. Take small steps. Use whatever you have. Build on what you find."

"Stop worrying about what you want to do. Think about what you want to do next."

Honorable Cory A. Booker
"We are here because of other people's incredible vision and courage...let us stand because people stood for us."

"Criticizing is just spitting into the the change you want to see...if it's meant to be it's up to me."

Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil
Acts 1:8 "Without a catalyst we stay stuck in Jerusalem."

"If you want to break thru:
1. Pray for a divine mandate,
2. Name your catalytic events,
3. Mobilize people to go!"

"Don't just go and help, go and learn."

"An educational degree means nothing unless it's relevant to people around you."

Seth Godin
My paraphrase of hisgeneral concept: the industrial revolution is over. It shaped our culture (and churches) up to this point. It's a new age. We have to live differently.

"The new means of production is a laptop."

"In this new age we need to be artists."

"Quit bowling! (it's boring and the goal is perfection)"

"We teach people to wait to be picked. Pick yourself!"

"If failure is not an option, then neither is success."

"Even though the tide is out doesn't mean the ocean has less water in it."

"Give gifts, not favors."

"The world is begging you to lead."

Steven Furtick 2 Kings 3:9-20
"The difference between a daydream and audacious faith is action."

"If your vision isn't intimidating to you, it's probably insulting to God."

"To see the world filled with water, dig some ditches."

"Life can beat the audacity out of you...God can put it back in you."

"We compare our 'behind the scenes' to everyone else's 'highlight reels.'"

Bill Hybels addresses why CEO & Founder of Starbucks, Howard Schultz couldnt make it. Click here to watch video. Click here to positively contact Starbucks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Drummers Only pt 6: Pull 'em Out; Don't Beat 'em In

Great drummers never beat a drum; they play a drum. This final installment is about pulling the notes out of a drum, not beating them into it.

This is important because how you hit the drum has everything to do with your drum sound. Pull the note out of the drum and it will have great tone and will sing. Play into the drum and it will be choked and have less tone. (This definitely applies to the bass drum too--big time!)

If you don't understand what I'm talking about yet, don't worry. It's easier at this point for me to show you an exercise that will clearly illustrate this concept.

The exercise is called "da-da mommas." You can do this with your hands on a table right now if you don't have sticks handy.

Play two notes with your right hand, play the first very soft and seriously accent (play louder) the second note. "da-DA!"

Did you see your hand (or stick) jump off the table (head) on the second note because you accented it?

Do it again. Accenting the second note makes you pull that note out of the head; you're literally pulling the stick (or hand) back. Be sure to keep the first note soft and the second VERY LOUD.

Try to do this with your wrist more than your forearm.

Now do the same with the left hand and alternate between hands. Do this very slowly at first:

right RIGHT, left LEFT, da-DA, momMA Over time slowly speed up.

THAT is how you strike a drum properly! Pulling the note OUT of the drum or cymbal.

Have you ever dented a drum head? Seen dimples in a drum head? Guess what---you cannot dent a drum head when you're properly pulling the notes out of the head.

When I was younger I tried. I knew I was changing the head anyway so I tried to annihilate it. I couldn't get one dent in it hitting it as hard as I could while striking it properly.

Play into a head with a lot of force? Dent city.

If you were to be at eye level with the top of my snare drum watching me play, you would probably swear that my sticks don't even touch the drum. It would look like I'm playing about an inch off the head.

Why is this important?

1. The drum will always have better tone when struck properly.

2. You will develop faster hands. Not kidding. If you start that da-da momma exercise slow and slowly build up your speed until you can play a da-da momma drum roll, you will have some serious chops!

My ability to play fast and play doubles like a fiend come from working da-da mommas like crazy when I was younger. Speed comes by mastering the control of pulling the sticks off the head, not pressing them into it.

3. You will have more control. I tune my toms very loosely. But because of working da-da mommas so much, I can play doubles or rolls over my very loose tom heads. Why? I'm not counting on the head bouncing the stick back at me. I'm literally pulling each note out of the drum.

It's never too late to develop great technique--working da-da mommas will get you there!

Great drummers pull the notes out of a drum. They don't pound the notes into it.
Great drummers play the spaces.
Great drummers play with volumes, not volume.
Great drummer realize they must decrease in their monitor mix.
Great drummers keep time from their feet up.
Great drummers are humble, putting the band and song before themselves.

Thanks for reading. Now lets elevate the gifts we've been given by developing them and making even better music!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Drummers Only pt 5: Play the Spaces

I realize the further I get into these articles, the more Zen-like this drumming thing becomes.

This is about when to put in the tasty fills and the stuff beyond just keeping time. In essence, play that stuff in the spaces left by vocalists and other musicians.

I said in pt 3 that playing music is a conversation with instruments. So in that light, don't interrupt when someone else is talking.

Here's one example of how this works. In most music we're playing 8 bar phrases. At the end of most 8 bar (or measure) phrases, drummers often add a little fill, a little something that says, "That's the end of that phrase, let's go on to another."

(NOTE: whether you read music or not, you have to know the phrasing of the song. At the end of each phrase we cue the band that we're done with this and moving onto something else. We don't play fills for the sake of fills. It's our way of saying, "Here comes the bridge." Or, "We're going to get soft/loud now." A fill is a way we conduct the band from the drum chair.)

If I'm playing with vocalists, I'll often wait and listen to make sure they've left me a space to put that fill in. Or I may even put a tasty snare or tom variation in the middle of a phrase IF there's a vocal space there. Again, I don't just plop a fill in at the end of every phrase--I want to do it in the space at the end of a phrase if I can.

I try to think about a song as a give and take between instruments and vocals. Sure, there are times when we're playing the same rhythm at the same time. But when a vocalist or lead instrument is shining, I try to support him/her and try not to "step on" what they are saying.

I think there is a lot we drummers can do by paying close attention to the vocal lines. I'll sometimes try to stab accents with them to give the song more punch and make them feel shored up and supported. Likewise, when they leave a space, I'll try to use that opportunity to add something interesting and fitting to the song.

At Oakbrook Church, Jlee often does rhythmic add libs at the end of phrases. Whenever he's leading worship, I'm really listening to see if there's something he's doing that I can mimic on the kit. If I can hit his add libs, the band sounds more like we've been playing that song forever instead of just Thursday night and Sun. morning.

This is about listening to phrases and listening to how lead instruments are playing through them. Support them rhythmically when you can, and wait for the opportunities to play the spaces they leave open.

Great drummers play the spaces. (Told you it was Zen-like.)

Coming up: Pt 6 Pull the Notes Out; Don't Beat them In (last one?...)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Drummers Only pt 4: "Volumes, not Volume"

If we're not careful, the drums can be the most non-musical instrument in the band. Everyone else has things to work with like pitch, notes, melody, harmony, counter-melody etc.

What do we have? Timing (pt 2) and volume. This post is about playing with dynamics, or more than one volume.

Every drummer is good at playing loud. It's in our divine nature. I've never had to teach anyone to play loud. One might paraphrase this post, "The Zen of Drumming," because without soft there is no loud. Loud is only relative to what came before it. (Hmmmm, deeeep thoughts.)

Contrast is what commands our attention and makes impact. The cool swimming pool never feels better than on a 96 degree day. The Red Robin burger never tastes better than when you are legitimately hungry. Ice cream tastes best after a spicy Mexican dish. Loud has more impact after you've played softly.

Think of it this way. Any schmoe who can play a beat can play loud. Anyone. Do you want to be a dime-a-dozen drummer? Do you want your loud rock-god-anthem choruses to be mediocre? No, you don't. Read on musical drummer.

The truth is our louds stand out, have impact, blow people's hair back, when we've played softer elsewhere in the song--when we've worked up to it.

Studio recordings can lead us astray on this point. Why? Because they can record the drummer playing a nice loud snare sound and then turn it down in the mix. We hear that sound and try to copy it, but it's not copyable--unless we're in a studio too. Playing live is different. Don't worry about it--that same recorded drummer sounds differently live too.

When we choose to play the verses softer, the band will follow suit--the whole band will play with more dynamics and the whole ensemble will be more musical. The drummer wins, the band wins, the song wins, and the audience wins. Beautiful!

Caution: there's nothing worse than a drummer playing softly with loose mushy time and no intensity. (More zen coming up here.) Learn to play soft, but with intensity.

That's really vague, I know, but it also happens to be true. It's like momentum in sports; you can't define it but you know it when you see it. I can't tell you how to have intensity but I can tell when a drummer does not have it.

(Just to be clear, intensity has nothing to do with volume. And for the record, one of the hardest things to do as a drummer is playing quietly, in time, with intensity.)

For me playing soft with intensity means I'm going to rhythmically nail every 8th note on the hats and stick every kick drum precisely where it needs to be. And I don't care who in the band wants to rush because I'm playing soft--I ain't budging!

That's how I go after intensity when I'm playing soft, anyhow. All I know is that a drummer needs intensity to play soft well.

Do you want your loud choruses to rock your world?
Do you want to be known as a musical drummer?
Learn to play everything from very quiet to very loud in strict time and with intensity.

Some practical guidelines:

Way back when people read musical charts there were these great little things called dynamic markings:

pp = very soft (pianissimo)
p = soft (piano)
mf = medium loud (mezzo forte [met-zo for-tay])
f = loud (forte)
ff = very loud (fortissimo)
fff = school of rock loud (fortississimo)

When I'm charting songs for myself I always use these markings. Even when I'm not using a chart, I bet I play 3-4 dynamic volumes in a given song. Why? I want to serve the band well. I want the band to be as musical and as expressive as possible. Don't you?

To be a great drummer, be known as a drummer who has many different volumes, not just one volume--volumes, not volume.

Coming up: Pt 5 "Play the Spaces"

Drummers Only pt 3: "I Must Decrease"

I got this tip years ago from an article with famed bassist Lee Sklar. Apart from his funny name and looks, he's one of the most recorded and toured musicians of the modern era. In this instance he spoke of how his bass was always the lowest thing in his mix. Why? So he could hear everyone else.

More and more drummers (as are other musicians) are using some kind of in ear or headphone monitor mix. This is great for at least 2 reasons: a) getting a monitor loud enough for a drummer to hear makes it even worse on a drummer's ears. b) it keeps the stage volume down for the front of house mix.

Since I share a drum chair with several drummers, one thing I notice when it's my turn to drum is how loud the drums are in the headphone mix. Hence today's post:

My drums in my mix must decrease.

Put the drums in the mix to the point you can hear them and loud enough you're not overplaying them (hitting them harder than needed). Your drums should sit LOW in the mix. You should hear lead vocals/instruments and bass player very clearly--louder than you.

Since our goal is to make the overall sound of the band better, we need to be able to hear what everyone else is playing. A humble drummer (pt 1) needs to hear everyone else more than his/her self.

If you can't get over how amazing your drums sound in the mix, and you just can't get enough, then turn yourself up on your own practice time. When we're playing with the band, our focus needs to be the greater good of the band. "I pledge allegiance to the band." Thank you for that, Jack Black.

Playing music is a conversation with instruments. In a conversation we have to hear what other people are saying so that when we chime in, it makes sense. What others are playing dictates the pattern and feel I'm going to lay down. I can't serve them if I can't hear what they're playing.

To listen well to the musical conversation and best serve the song and the band, I must decrease in my monitor mix. Simple.

Coming up: Pt 4 "Volumes, not Volume."

Drummers Only pt 2: Time from Your Toes

This tip profoundly changed the way I conceptualize and execute keeping time when playing a kit. I think I first read about this in a Modern Drummer article with/by Steve Smith many years ago. Derek W. if you're reading, it may be in that musty stack of MD mags I gave you last year ;-)

Time from Your Toes
Drummers usually keep time with their hands. Right handed drummers primarily with their right hand. In other words, of the 4 appendages a drummer plays with (exception Rick Allen), our dominant focus is our hands. And we tend to keep time, in our minds and physically, with the sticks. In essence, our feet follow the lead of our hands.

In this article I encourage you to flip that: Keep time with your feet. Or another way to say it, play from your "feet up."

Thinking about keeping time with your kick drum and hi-hat will "shore up" those looser appendages. Your foot playing will become more solid. As a result, your overall playing will improve. Not to mention that in any mic'd-up rock situation, the kick is the most dominant part of the kit. Loose feet = loose grove. Tight feet = tight groove.

You probably don't think about it, but it's likely your hands and feet are playing slightly different time. Unless you've worked on it a lot, your right foot is developmentally behind your hands. Why? Because drummers are always working on having fast hands.

As I've been mulling over this post, John Bonham came to mind. Think about a a Led Zep song like "All My Love." Bonham seems to drive his time with his kick drum. And his overall time-keeping always sounds rock-solid.

Here's an applicable example of "feet up" playing. When you're playing a song and a fill in bar 8 is coming up, what do you think about? Your hands. You think about what you're going to play between the snare and toms. Your kick drum is an afterthought.

Keeping time with your feet will change how you think about and play fills; which is great, because our timing tends to suck when we play fills.

Also by thinking of your feet more and incorporating them into a fill, will make for more interesting and impacting fills. Now speaking of timing...

The biggest problem among drummers is we keep bad time. This is our #1 problem.

Ladies and gentlemen, this has got to stop. We have no chords or scales to memorize, no transposing to do. So let's get serious about this.

If you don't have a metronome you can listen to with ear phones, get one. Turn it on and start playing--from your feet up.

Once you start feeling comfortable with it, slow it down. It just got harder. Why? It takes more control to play slow. Your feet (and hands) have to be more precise when the tempo is slow. Playing really slow tempos, in rock-solid time, is a phenomenal exercise!

Work that metronome from super slow to fast and everything in between. I promise you, the first time you put the metronome on, you'll swear it's not keeping steady tempo. Trust me, the error isn't with the metronome.

So, conceptually and physically, play from your feet up. It will help lock all 4 of your appendages into the same groove, which will make your time more solid, which will help you better serve the song and the band.

Coming up: Pt 3: "I must Decrease" (it's prob not what you think it is)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Drummers Only pt 1: Humility

I've been beating on things for forty+ years. Took my first lesson in '73. Studied briefly with Dr. Mueller at Ball State. I play anything from rudimental marching snare, jazz, pop, rock, country, worship music, blues etc., sight read a chart or sit in and play by ear.

I recently had the honor of sitting down with a young 20-something drummer looking for feedback and advice. In our conversation I realized there are some foundational truths that relate to all drummers. This is a 6-part series on the essentials of successful drumming for all musical styles.

HUMILITY: Putting others first.

This may be the most difficult principle of drumming. Why? Because we become drummers to gain attention, take the stage and gain accolade. This is what's best about my drumming and at the same time, most difficult.

This is about putting the good of the song and the group ahead of yourself. As a drummer, there are always licks, patterns and fills that I want to play. That's the wrong focus.

The song and the group, since they're more important than me, determine what I should play. Sometimes a song demands rhythmic simplicity. That means I swallow my pride and lay down the most simple, solid musical groove I can. Great chops over-used in the wrong song is the wrong part.

Sometimes I'm playing with a band that has a weaker rhythm section; or perhaps you have vocalists that aren't in time. That scenario demands that I simplify what I play so that the other members of the band can more easily lock into the groove. If a vocalist, bass player or keyboardist is loose rhythmically, I will always simplify my part to better serve them.

In a rehearsal situation I may talk to the players who aren't keeping good time. I strive to be kind. I usually broach it in the form of a question, "Did you know you slowed down going into the bridge?" I will try to do it discretely so others can't hear. If I do this well, they'll usually ask me later, "Was that better?" When it's done well, every healthy person loves feedback.

On the other side of things, if I'm doing a prog rock, The Who or Dave Matthews Band tune with a solid crew, heck yeah, I'll tear it up with some appropriate wicked chops. But again, only as that flashy style fits the song and serves the group as a whole.

The goal of a great drummer is to make the band better. If people compliment me without complementing the band, that's a lose. If your goal is to be noticed as a great drummer, you'll never be a great drummer. Great drumming lifts the level of the whole ensemble.

Being humble doesn't mean you never have the spotlight or are noticed. It means you have the spotlight and are noticed IF it's appropriate to the song, the gig and serves the group.

Humility: Put others first. Let the tune and the group determine what you play. That's the path to great drumming.

Coming up: Pt 2... "Time from Your Toes"

Videos of me playing live.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Oakbrook at the Movies "INCEPTION"

Great times doing 3 in a row of this summer series. This was my 100th talk @ Oakbrook; God is good! Look for Mark to close it out with "Tron" and "Hoosiers" in the coming weeks.

Message text in PDF click here.

Checkout YouVersion Bible app click here.

I forgot to say that YouVersion will actually READ THE TEXT TO YOU! Does it get any easier? I'm really enjoying the reading plan "The Essential Jesus."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lukas Nelson & Fireworks @ Foster Park

Had a GREAT time Friday night at Foster Park taking on one of Kokomo's free concerts at the new arts pavilion. Lukas Nelson is the son of famed Willie Nelson.

Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real did a great job of Willie covers to their originals. It's blues+rock+county+Willie+60s = fresh good jams! Really enjoyed them.

The rained out fireworks from the prior week followed the show so by the time the concert was over there were more people in that grassy lawn than I've ever seen before--huge crowd!

And the fireworks were AMAZING; one of the best displays I've seen in quite a while!

Pictures of Lukas and the band click here.

Pictures of fireworks click here.

Oakbrook at the Movies "Forrest Gump"

Really enjoying teaching biblical truths through the perspective of movies. Next week I'll take a look at Inception.

To read a PDF manuscript of today's talk click here.

An MP3 usually shows up here by Tues.

Here's the song that followed the message click here.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Oakbrook at the Movies: "Up"

Fun times teaching on biblical truth represented in the great movie, "Up." No matter your age, I highly recommend renting this one.

Here's the opening video: Carl & Ellie

Here's the Zimmer's "My Generation" video click here

Here's my message text in PDF click here

Podcast of message shows up a few days later click here

Monday, May 30, 2011

Solution pt 5

Click here for a PDF of the message text concluding our explosive "Solution" series. Wow--Oakbrook stepped up in HUGE WAYS! So proud and excited for what we'll continue to do!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

We Are the Solution

Do you get tired of driving past homes in your neighborhood that look like this? Me too. Do you notice that it creates tension in you when you look at it? You furrow your brow. You squint. Tension.

I used to think I would call the city and let them know about it. Then I thought about how long that list is and how much money is spent for government employees to mow it and send a bill that will never get paid.

Then I thought that I am probably a better solution. We always think that the government or the church or some organization is the solution. But boil it down and it's people that are the solution. It's my neighborhood. "My" implies ownership. Responsibility.

So again this year I've started mowing a few yards within a block or so of our home by Highland Park. It's good for me. Good for my kids. Maybe even good for my neighbors.

A friend of ours started coming to church earlier this year. On about the third visit this person said through tears to our lead pastor as to how they ended up at Oakbrook, "Those dang Youngs--mowing people's yards and being nice to people--dang them!"

We all lead. We all influence. We all have the capacity to be the solution to something or someone. But, will we? Whether you're into God or not, you can be part of the solution. What needs done in your neighborhood, school or workplace?

Right now our church is rallying around this idea of "solution." We're trying to fill local food pantries. Serve physically throughout the city. Build wells for clean water, kitchens for orphans and houses in Haiti.

And here's a thought--if you think church is a bunch of pew-sitting, high-minded, low-impacting goofs; I invite you to check out our church as we try to be the solution, locally and globally. Doesn't that sound intriguing? When was the last time you stood up to be part of a solution? When was the last time you gave church a try. Maybe now's the time.

Oakbrook Church: imperfect people trying to make a difference.
Sundays 10am