I Love Billy Mays/Pressure's On.


Sarah and I are sitting on the couch, preparing our collective dinners. Billy Mays came on the TV. I stand here to tell you, every time I see a Billy Mays comercial, I am saying "I love you Billy Mays". There is but one soul who can even stand up to Billy Mays' awesome power:

Today Ian Gallo came by the church to record. Ian does not at all enjoy recording, but I very much enjoy it. Good times. Good times.
ridiculous e-mail by you.
As I mentioned previously, I am reading Coffeehouse Theology right now, and I plan on reviewing it here at the olde blog. I mentioned I have some disagreements with the author after reading the intro and the first chapter.
Then it turns out, the author has been to my blog.
I seriously thought that the only people who read this blog was my wife and perhaps some mentally disturbed guy in his bathtub in Columbus. Apparently not! Apparently this is the place for movers and shakers!
I don't want to give too much away, but now that I am in to chapter 5, the book has picked up quite a bit. More for the official review.
Pens and Bruins tonight. Some inspirational English please:

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Hey everybody.
As mentioned in the Monday Morning update, just as I was wrapping up I was called and asked for an interview with a lovely reporter from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Such a sentence is great, because it pretty much just hangs out there and causes more questions than answers.
The truth is, I'm starting a class here at the church for garage bands who want to know a little bit more about the practical side of rock and roll. How do you set up gigs, how do you record a CD, how do you promote yourself, etc. I feel thoroughly unqualified to teach such a class, but Lisa from the WROC assures me it's a good idea, much like I'm sure this guy's friends told him this would be a good idea:

It felt so weird to be interviewed, particularly while I was in the middle of cleaning my office. (You might note that the call came both while I was cleaning the office AND while I was blogging. Procrastination strikes again). How could anyone possibly care about what I had to offer as a 25 year old musician?

I struggle with pride. Not stupid pride, where people refuse to take credit for their decent work, a sort of "awww shucks" kind of pride. When this woman was asking me about the kind of music we play at the Bridge, it was all I could do to not start bragging about the albums of music I have written for our lovely congregation. It was all I could do not to promote the blog, in the vain hopes that more people would read it than my wife (Love you dear!). I kept my cool, knowing that such shameless self promotion would only be seen by the reporter as dorky.
So for the moment, pride is kept at bay for all the wrong reasons (I held my pride back so I wouldn't look bad...ironic?). Perhaps another dive into that pile of garbage under our desk will help straighten me out!


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Monday Morning Update.

Good morning faithful readers. It's time for the Monday Morning update, a useless recounting of what's going on in my world. So grab that cup of coffee, and let's dive in.
Current Listening: The Album Leaf Station on Pandora. Sometimes music is just better without words.
Current Reading: Having just wrapped up Marley and Me last night, I've moved on to Coffeehouse Theology. I will do a full write up on the book later, but at the moment it's clear that the author and I are going to have several disagreements. I forgot to bring the book with me to the office, so I might dual book this week and pick something else off the shelf that's caught my attention.
Bible Study: Haven't really read yet today. As for my new years resolution, I haven't exactly figured out how I'm going to go about it. Should I start at the begining to read straight through, which will likely end in a boredom flame out somewhere around Leviticus? Should I follow the Presbyterian Church's daily lectionary, which will be choppy and not straight forward? Should I just pick books at a time based on what I find interesting? I don't know. Some thought will be dedicated to this later in the day.
The Gym: I had planned on hitting the gym this morning before coming to work, but my headache and lingering cold prevented me. I have my shorts with me, and I'm going on the assumption that today will be like yesterday, where I'll start to feel a lot better in the afternoon. Hopefully.
Big Project: At the moment, I'm cleaning the office. If any of you have ever been to our office, you know how big of a project this is. But with Ed up on a mountain, and a whole week of nothing to prepare, I figure now is the time.
Holy cow, being interviewed for the paper! More later.

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Book Review: Marley and Me

Greetings friends.
As previously mentioned, my plan is to read at least a book every two weeks. In my busy life, I don't always have time to read, but that's a lie. I have tons of time to read, I just never use it wisely. So I'm going to read more as a means to pass time while I'm home and on my day off. To help with this, I'm planning on reviewing the books I read. This is more to keep me reading, as I'm sure no one out there cares what I think about books. Here we go.

This is the reason I first picked up Marley and Me. Sarah and I got a dog just a few months before we were married, kind of on a fluke. We were originally going to get a really neat looking dog that came with tons of dreadlocks:
Obviously the name for such a creature would be Marley, as in Bob Marley. However, when we found ourselves at a friends wedding being offered a lab-poodle mix for a relatively small amount of money, we couldn't pass it up. The name however was transferable.
Shortly after we brought Marley home, the book became really popular. The other day when I was in my parent's house, I found Marley and Me sitting on my mom's bookshelf, and I borrowed it.

Ok, I'm done building the background.
John Grogan is one of those authors who writes like I think, which should scare the daylights out of he and his family. The book has a wit and a charm that makes you want to turn pages at a fevered pace. The Marley of the book is a yellow lab, known for very little beyond getting into tremendous trouble. Marley in the book actually reminded me a bit more of the golden retriever I had growing up than our current K-9.  It's one of those books that after sitting here reading the end of it, I can't imagine the film currently in theaters has any hope of being nearly as good as the book.
(Member of Nick Howard's Chump List (C) )
Next up:
Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life
Tune in next week.


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Sunday Post Game: Sore throat blues.

Good day everyone.
If you've been following my twitter, you know that I've had a pretty sore throat the last couple of days. I've been hoping and hoping that it would go away by this morning so I could lead worship, but alas it did not. We suffered through it though.
It was actually kind of cool. The Bridge sort of turned into a coffee house environment, with just me, EWoo, and Rob Shogry playing. It was hip.
Tammy spoke this morning. She spoke from Luke 2:25-30, one of my favorite post-Christmas passages. She spoke about joy, and how we seem to loss track of joy in the midst of whatever might be going on in our lives, whether it's financial difficulty, or illness, or family situations. She noted that we treat joy kind of like desert, we're allowed to have it only after we've gotten through the broccoli of life.
The thing she wrapped up with at the end of her sermon really stuck with me. She said that she was ending this sermon with no challenge. No instructions, no improvements to be made. All we were to do was to enjoy God's world today, and soak in the joy. So as I sit on the couch, grasping my hot tea and preparing to sleep off the cold, I'm not going to feel a twinge of guilt. I'm going to let God's joy over-flow, and invade the living room.
Oh, and I'm going to take joy in the utter destruction that's coming the Brown's way.


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New Years Resolutions

Hello friends,
I was a little bit ill for the last few days, so I've been sitting on the couch doing nothing. I think atrophy set in for a little bit there. However, as is usually the case with illness for me, I woke up this morning as though nothing had ever happened. I feel like a million bucks, and so I am back on the wonder drug.
I'm reflecting on my new years resolution. As is so infrequently the case, the President of the United States (current) had a bit of an influence on me. It turns out that Karl Rove had challenged the President to read at least one book a week as a New Year's Resolution.
(Upside down)
So I got to thinking about what my New Year's resolution should be, and actually there are a ton of them. So I figured I would share them with you, the readers. I'm not sure which will stick, but these are what I'm thinking about resolving myself towards right now:
  • Read at least one book every two weeks. (Let's face it, I am not the fastest or most avid reader out there. But I really want to become a better writer, and everyone says to do that I must become a better reader. Game on)
  • Be absolutely solid in my devotions and quiet time. (As a youth leader, I am horrible at this. I talk and talk about how the Bible should have a central place in our lives, but then I don't really live it out. I think too often I use the excuse of "Would a mail man go for a walk?" In other words, it's what I do for work, should I read it at home? Lame.)
  • Go to the gym at least 3 times a week. (I bought a gym membership with Matt and Ed not too long ago, and at this point have all but abandoned going. Again, there are plenty of excuses, none of which are any good. I think going hand in hand with this resolution is getting a better grasp on my time management, because up till this point it's been pretty piss-poor.)
  • Do a better job around the house. (Sarah is infinitely neater than I am, and it's beginning to show. This must come to an end.)
(Four. Four resolutions. Ah ah ah!)
Four New Years resolutions. Very much do-able. 
How about this, for acountability, I will post on Mondays and keep everyone up to speed on where I stand with each of them? What book I'm reading, what book in the Bible I'm working through, what I've done at the gym that week, and what I've done around the house that week? Game on. No one reads this, but game on. 
PS, haven't posted a stupid youtube video in a while. 

PPS, The Pens play tonight, and they haven't won two in a row since forever ago. They're due.

Christmas Time Is Here

Hello everybody!!!
Last night was the first ever bridge Christmas Eve Service. It went smashingly. We did the traditional Candle Light service to the tune of Silent Night, and it is one of those moments at the bridge that I don't think I'll ever forget. Photos are coming.
What am I up to today?
That's right. Sarah and I are wrapping up our Christmas presents (pun intended), and then heading in to Murrysville to celebrate with the family. Life is good.
David Crowder had some really interesting things to say about Christmas and consumerism at his blog. Check it out: www.xanga.com/emprise34

More bloggin later.



Toys, Blues, And Traffic.

Greetings one and all. The events of the day came together in such a way that it resembled getting a pencil shoved in your eye. But the rewards were wonderful.
I went to get the extra guitar rig for the Bridge. Christmas eve is going to be spectacular, and we needed to gear up for it.
First of all though, I must brag:
We had this VOX amp from the about the first week of my tenure at Westminster. However, it broke, and we were too lazy to do anything about it. However, knowing that we would require some more power in our set up, I spent about 20 minutes with it today, and got it back in working order. Then I paired it with it's brand new love (though we'll have to share her affection):

A brand new Fender (not Squire, like I probably would have bought for myself due to my overwhelming poorness) Telecaster. When paired with the above repaired VOX, this thing is just solid beauty. The tones that were coming from the amp made me want to sit down and weep. It's the perfect combination of blues and grit, oh...I wish blogs were capable of describing the tones that were coming from this marvelous set up. 
Of course this leads to a dilema. My gear:
Taylor 314ce (At the shop unfortunately, stupid wiring) named Valentine
Yamaha Compass named Arallia
Ephiphone Dot Studio named Micah
Ukelela named Pineapple.
Fender Telecaster- no name!

Question: What should I name my the new addition to the family?

Sunday Post-Game: Everything worked?

Can't believe it. Simply can't believe it. We went through a whole Bridge worship service without a single technical malfunction. Actually, I heard that happened last week while I was away too. That's a two-fer. This of course means that when we do Christmas Eve worship on Wednesday, we'll be looking at a failure of epic proportions!
Where: The Bridge, WROC, 9:45.
Today I preached and helped Ed out by playing a little piano. I like to tickle the keys every now and again, but of course I need a little help. Today I attached a guitar effects processor to the piano to play with some delay and flanger. This is an older picture, but you'd get the idea:
(Mad Scientist)
Scriptures: Isaiah 9:6-7, Micah 6:8, Matthew 5:9
I actually felt pretty good about the sermon today. Got a couple of affirming e-mails about it too (this happens so rarely that I thought I should post about it). I spoke about Jesus being the Prince of Peace. For the most part, the key sentence to the whole sermon was "True peace is not simply the absence of conflict but the presence of Justice". Sound familiar?
That's right sports fans. I stole the sermon illustration from Air Force One.
(No Photoshop Game At All)
Question: Is there a situation in your life in which you are not at peace? What would be the first step towards bringing peace to that situation? 
There may be more tonight. Beware!

Wednesday Night Post-Game: Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrtay!

Hey friends. Here's the post-game report:
Cafe Time
Nothing too monumental. I spent most of my time chasing Jr. High boys out of the freshly re-modeled game room because of their refusal to obey the "no food or drink" policy. Some kids just don't listen.
(Problem Child)
I was a little bit out of it for Cafe time, as I was also setting up for the night's GLOW Service. Pretty distracted...
For a game, we did our yearly white elephant gift exchange. I'm not certain, but I think the balloon punching bag was my favorite. Not for it's overall value, but it won it for me when someone said "look, a colostomy bag!"
Really from there it was just chill out time. Ian Kristy Curt and I played at GLOW that night, and there was a scripture that just sucked the wind right out of me:

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands (Isaiah 49:16)

Chew on that a little bit this holiday season!
Till next time,

Christmas Party

I am over-dosing on Full Throttle. A friend of ours (because calling him a "former student" would be a gross understatement of our relationship) brought us a Christmas present based upon our most recent lock-in pep talk:

I've developed quite an unhealthy addiction to this substance, but I'm really alright with it. Ed had to stop me the other day from drinking two in a row, because he felt like it would end my life. I disagreed, but after hearing a few horror stories about people who actually went into caffeine inspired cardiac arrest, I put the FT down in light of a diet cola. 
I am planning our Veritas Christmas party and our Veritas Volunteers Christmas party. I think it's going to be a quite lovely affair. We managed to finish the media room this week, with the help of Dr. Jim (the parent, not the pastor). I promise, I think he's a robot.

I love celebrating with people. I'm getting all kinds of giddy at the idea of people together in a room enjoying each other's company. I mean, Wednesday night is always like that, but something is different about Christmas. I'm excited. 
I should do a bit more work today though...more later.



Sunday Post-Game: No Place Like Home.

Greetings friends, and welcome to another post-game blog. This one comes from the usual antics that will come and go on Sunday mornings. Let's check it out!

Where: Usually a no brainer, but this week I was speaking back home at First Presbyterian Church in Murrysville.
I was speaking in relief of my pastor and good friend Chuck, who suffered a heart attack a few months ago, and the subsequent surgeries that followed. I believe I was also speaking in relief of his wife, who I imagine is having a difficult time keeping him in bed...

Scriptures: Genesis 3, Revelation 22, Isaiah 9:6

Summary: This was actually a sermon I preached a little while ago. I used ribbon instead of Christmas lights, which seemed to be a way to avoid any technical difficulties. I was wrong.
The day began of course with a trip to Dunkin Donuts, to score some of the most delicious coffee on the planet:
First Presby does two services, a more laid back traditional affair at 8:30, and then the full blown traditional service at 11. It was fun to catch up with old friends and see how well the church is doing these days. They really seem to have a strong CE program going, which is what the doctor ordered there. I spoke at the first service without incident, and then made my way over to speak at the second service. I couldn't believe my ears when I discovered that the microphone was broken at this service as well. The moral of the story: I'm never preaching this sermon again.

Question: What would it mean for you to give some part of your past that's difficult to let go of to Christ? What kind of steps would you have to take to do that?

Anger Management.

I decided that we ought to have some post-game discussions each week. For those of you who don't know, our youth group meets on Wednesday nights, and our contemporary worship service (The Bridge) meets on Sunday. Since those two nights are the two most important/stressful events of our week, I figured each week we'd have a break down of what went on, and some further thoughts on whatever teachings went down. So here's the low-down on last night:
Cafe Time:
(From 5-6, we mingle with the kids while they eat our scrumptious foods.)
I had a simple goal during Cafe Time this week, and that was to make one of our students shoot cola out their nose. Sometimes it's helpful to have goals! After many many failed attempts, I finally got one. Honestly, it surprised even me, but witnesses say that they could hear me laugh in Bridgeville.
We actually had a special guest come by and run games for us. Our communication commission chair stopped by and led our kids in a spectacularly awesome communication game. If it were played properly, kids would have learned a great deal about how to work together and overcome obstacles together. But that would of course assume that our kids weren't criminals.
We had the first of many strong talking to's of the evening with Jr. High Students, who complained later that my "principals office" was a bit too small. This was the first time in the evening I was happy to posses decent anger management skills.
I led this week, which turned out only later to be a mistake, as I would also be leading the GLOW service (more on this later), and my poor voice couldn't take it. The Senior Highers were totally into worship, as were several Jr. Highers. However, the pocket of above mentioned cheaters were enjoying the fact that they could  block the projector with their bodies and pillows, and then sat on each other and screamed. Nothing ruins a quite worshipful moment quite like "HEY GET OFF ME!"
We split the Jr. and Sr. high, as has been our custom the last few weeks. After a couple of really poor teachings on my part, I finally felt like last night we were clicking together. I felt like the kids were at least somewhat interested in what I had to say, and that they were at least awake enough to participate with me. 
We walked through Romans Chapter one, and did so with only 15 minutes of time. I felt so bad, there was so much stuff in there, and we just didn't have enough time to cover it all. So this Friday, I'm inviting them all to join me to finish the conversation if they're really into it. 
(Happy kids)
*Having kids attempt to give Ed a piggy back ride=hilarious.
*Trying to play my guitar at a serious worship service after 15 minutes of acoustic thrashing=out of tune guitar
*Trying to sing at youth group, teach a bible study, and then sing at a serious worship service with my horribly unprofessional voice=



Let the games begin...

Good morning friends!
For various reasons, I am a little bit cranky today. The good news is it has little to do with my return to work, and a lot to do with how someone out there tried to screw me over. I will be spending the day trying to figure out who.
So I figure while I'm already cranky, I'll pick a fight that I've been thinking about fighting for a while now.
This issue of gay marriage is a serious one, which almost suggests that this blog is not the place to discuss it. I have long been conflicted about the issue. My heart goes out to people, and my default position is to love. In a sinful and broken world, is it right that we pick out one sin and make some people feel horrible about it? Isn't it our job to build up and support people? Isn't it our job to encourage and bless others? But then on the other side of the coin, the Bible seems to be pretty clear on the issue, and I want to do my very best to live according to the Word. My heart is torn on this, and all of this is by way of saying that if you think I take this lightly, you're out of your mind.
However, (and the reason this is all in my mind at the moment) I found unusual wisdom in an unusual place. Zach Lind from the band Jimmy Eat World has a blog that I found today, and in it he wrote some interesting stuff about the concept of gay marraige and the attempt to make a constitutional amendment to ban it:
So with that said, and before I try to answer Dan’s questions, I want to point out that I think the question leaves some pretty big stones unturned. First, our society as a whole (Christians included) has already accepted that marriage today is not the same as marriage was when the bible was written. For example, we’ve already discarded polygamy as a valid form of marriage, which was not prohibited, across the board, for all members of the church in the NT. Another example would be that divorce has become commonplace and increasingly accepted, even within the Christian community. So if one is to say that marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman, forever, they have come to that conclusion while relying largely on their own rationale derived from experience and cultural understanding, not from a strict adherence to what the scriptures say on these various matters. If this isn’t the case, then why aren’t proponents of this view doing all they can to legislate an end to the entire concept of divorce, along with banning same-sex marriage. If one shares the view of “one man, one woman” but doesn’t fight to eliminate any kind of marital practice that deviates from that formula, then “definitions” obviously don’t matter a whole lot…..at least when it comes to heterosexual, post-biblical marriage practices. And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe it’s as simple as gay sexual relations being perceived as inherently “naughtier” than heterosexuals who commits adultery by entering into multiple marriages (or the more snappier name, “polygamy in intervals”). If definitions were that important, that battle would have been fought a long time ago.

On this issue, I don't claim to have all the answers. I think the people that do are either ignorant or arrogant, or perhaps both. Thoughts like this fill my mind with more questions than answers, and will likely keep me awake at night. What if we were to make divorce illegal? What would that do to our thoughts about marriage? Would people take it more seriously? Where do we get the idea of "one man, and one woman" when almost every place where the Bible speaks out against homosexual relationships it advocates polygamy? Are we perhaps trying to stuff our own cultural views into the Bible and call them truth? 
Of course, I'd love to hear from you. 

Leave some comments.

Photoblog part two! And a question!

More photos!
Me outside of Keith and Em's house. Trying to look fabulous. Failing...
After that, we went to the national zoo to look at lights and some animals. What follows are the only photos that turned out, and the captions I thought of while I was taking them...
Behind the times..

Not good at night photos...
Really not good at night photos..
Our lovely ladies!

Pictures of the picture takers...

Just clap your hands...

The following is a lesson in Ape Etiquette...


For Ian.

Gingerbread hot tub...
It was good times at the zoo.
Right now I'm working on my next sermon for the Bridge, which is going to revolve around Jesus being the prince of peace. I wonder (if of course anyone reads this), what are the things you need to be at peace with this season?
Comment away, and I'll post as I'm writing.