Tuesday, October 30, 2007

An Evening with Ben Harper


On Sunday evening, a friend and I spent the evening at the Alabama Theater in Birmingham listening to Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals with an audience that was as diversified as the artist, Mr. Harper, himself. If you haven't heard of Ben Harper, you might have heard him in some of his joint projects and weren’t aware. He has been associated with the likes of Willie Nelson, Pearl Jam, John Mayer, Jack Johnson, and The Blind Boys of Alabama. My first introduction to Ben Harper was in 2001 when a friend of mine was married and he and his new bride danced to a song that I cannot remember the name of, but was filled with soul.

The previous issue of Relevant Magazine (Sept.-Oct. 2007) features Ben Harper as their cover story. The writer of this article states something about Ben that I also experienced at the show here in Birmingham, in that it "...feels unique, special, like Harper is pulling off a once-in-a-career act." One of the things my friend and I noticed is that Harper makes a very real attempt to connect with his audience. He goes out of his way to make it feel more than just a good show. He constantly thanks the crowd for their applause, but in a very sincere way, not out of obligation. At one point, he quieted the crowd, and his band played softly. He came to the edge of the stage, leaving his mic behind, and sang without it. All this took place in a beautiful theater with outstanding acoustics, and the result was a very appreciative audience.

I have discussed this with a couple of my friends that are pastors and ministers. It can be very challenging at times to "reach your audience." Sometimes, we can get caught up in our delivery, or in the academic side of a message, and in the process, we lose our audience. I am not comparing pastors to showmen, but I think we do have an obligation to connect with those we are teaching, and to tell the Story well. So what do you think?

Needless to say, if you like good music and Ben Harper is playing in a city near you, the show is well worth the ticket price.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Prayer for Friends

To any who read my blog on a regular basis, I would like to draw your attention to another blog.

http://www.lizapollok.blogspot.com/

Alison and I have been friends for a long time with the most beautiful family you will ever meet, the Polloks. Scot and Liza were mentors to us, were a part of our wedding, and have ministered to us in ways they will never know. They have two beautiful children and make outstanding parents.

This blog is dedicated to Liza and her journey toward brain surgery. If you have a chance to go to the site, I encourage you to start from the beginning, with posts beginning in September. This will help you to get the full picture of their story and will help you to know how to pray for them.

Liza will have surgery on Wednesday, so please pray for her as the day approaches. If you take the time, you will be blessed as you read this blog. Their trust in God is so sweet and fragrant, and their understanding of His goodness in all of this will take your breath away.

If you feel like it, leave a comment and let them know you are praying for them. They will appreciate your prayers. They have listed some specific requests on this blog.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Talladega Days


Okay, let me preface this blog by saying I am from Texas. We love things big in Texas, and we are not too proud to tell you we think our state is better than yours. In fact, it is agreed upon at birth, and stamped on your birth certificate, as a good will ambassador for the state that you are to spread the news that Texas was its own country once and we didn't need the U.S, they needed us, and our capital building in Austin is taller than the U.S. capital builiding, and we are allowed to fly the state flag higher than...you get the idea.

So in Texas, there is a love for the sport known as NASCAR. I even have an uncle whose name is Dale(I am serious) who Alison and I call Uncle NASCAR because of his love of the sport. I grew up watching the races on Sundays and kept up somewhat with the sport a little, but mostly because the men in my family watched the races and shouted quotes from Days of Thunder at the TV like, "Rubbin's racin'!"

It wasn't until we moved to Alabama that I truly understood the affection people have for this sport. Living in Birmingham, we are relatively close to Talladega Superspeedway, the premire venue for the greatness that is NASCAR. One of the students in my ministry actually had the option to skip school today because of the UAW-Ford 500 that will be held in Talladega this weekend. That race isn't until Sunday! Out of school! Now that is called dedication to the sport when the schools in Talladega County let kids out for the race weekend.

We have been surprised at the number of people that we know who are unlikely NASCAR fans that will rush home, or skip out on a social gathering to watch this sport that they will simply call, with great mystique, and a little misty eyed, "The Race."

So this native Texan has learned that when in Rome, act like the Romans, and so I send out to all of you a blessing and greeting from Alabama, in the words of Ricky Bobby, "Shake and Bake." Shake and bake people...shake and bake.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ava and Me



Here is a recent photo of Ava and me. This is the look she has on her face most of the time. She studies Alison and myself with observant eyes, seeming to drink in all that surrounds her. Sometimes, she appears to be an old soul, and seems to understand more than should be possible for a person who has only been here for 6 months.

She can also get pretty wild too. I think it might be jekell-and-hyde syndrome. Ah, the joys of parenting.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bilbo and the Sabbath

Have you ever felt like you have lived a lifetime in just a matter of a few weeks. In an email to a friend the other day, I told him that like Bilbo Baggins, I was "feeling thin, like butter scraped over too much bread." He said he also has been feeling this same way lately as well. As I talk to my wife and my friend it seems like we are all feeling like Bilbo, and that we could use a vacation, and like Bilbo, we would like nothing more than to never return from this holiday that we so much desire.

For me personally, I am thinking my weariness stems from the lack of a true Sabbath. I think that with the way our society is structured today, that rest is not easily found by most. How about this statement: "I can rest when I'm dead." Have you ever said this or had someone say it to you. And yet the Scriptures tell us that rest is intimately connected to LIFE. Rest prolongs life, it improves the quality of life, it is like air, and water, and food; we need this rest, this sabbath.

So if rest is so important, than why have we all but erased it from our lives? What is it that keeps us from our sabbath? Is it our schedules, our lifestyle, or our own fear of what might happen if we sit still for more than five minutes?

I don't know about you, but I could use a vacation.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A onsie made for Ava


On my wife's blog, she posted a photo of a onsie. (See "Alison's Blog" in my links)

Well, here is a onsie I think Ava should be proud to wear.

Where have the days gone?

Can you believe that it is July 6th already? Today, which incidentally is also my dad's birthday, I came into the office, looked at the calendar, and could not believe that we are already this far into the summer. And because school begins so much earlier than it did when I was a kid, (I think some start at the ungodly early date of something like August 8th) July means that summer is almost over.

I can remember being young and the days seemed like lifetimes. Not in a bad way, but in such a way that everything was slower moving. Slower passing were the hours of my youth, and I think I wish to have those days back. I don't know why this has grasped me so. I think a few things are contributing, like my daughter will be 4 months old in a few days, and we are coming up on our year anniversary start date at Mountain Chapel. I think I am very aware of how quickly life can pass you by if you aren't intentional about slowing down.

For some reason, when we lived and worked in Wilmore, life didn't seem so fast moving. People weren't in such a rush. We weren't in such a rush. But we didn't have a child then, and that makes a big difference. I sometimes think back over the last few months, and life is like a blur.

Have any of you experienced this phenomenon of lost time that I have?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Give me that Online Religion


OK, how many ways can we be connected to our friends. We have cell phones, IM, texting, not to mention email, myspace, facebook, and all the other sources like these. How does one keep up? Last month's issue of Fast Company, a great magazine that Alison turned me onto featured an article on the creator of Facebook. This Ivy League college dropout has changed the way we communicate. Most of the students in my student ministry are on Facebook, so with the prompting of Alison, I became a facebooker.

What has happened you might be wondering? Well, I will tell you. I have connected with people I haven't seen in years, spoken to close friends I have lost contact with, talked to people I graduated from high school, college, and seminary with, and connected more with some of my current friends because of it.

But I am also spending more time on here talking to people than on the phone or even face to face? So have we become a generation of people that prefer our computers and technology to communiate with others rather than a personal conversation?

A few years ago, I read a book called Give Me that Online Religion by Brenda E. Brasher. She discusses the need for religious leaders to be connected online. She wrote this book 2001 and isn't completely up to date on technology, but that isn't what the book is about. It gives sort of a pros and cons list of the online communities.

So my question is this: Can we have community, true ekklesia/church, with our online interaction with others?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A new blog I am reading

I have linked new blog in my Links section. It is the one called Rob's Blog. Check it out.

Rob and I attended seminary together. He is hands down one of the funniest people I have ever met. I have never had so much fun translating Hebrew as I had with Rob. There are books of the Bible and Italian pastry's that I will never view the same way again after spending time with Rob. I wish I could explain more, but there are church people that read this blog, so I will leave it at that.

Rob is a pastor in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He also loves poetry, art, interpretive dance, and show tunes. Read his blog, you'll be glad you did. Very insightful stuff to be found there.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ava




Alright, so here she is looking cuter than ever. Ava has entered our lives and we are changed people for it. She came and joined us about 7 weeks ago. Sometimes though, it feels like she has always been here. There are unspeakable joys that come with parenting, along with fears that will keep you up in the night.

She captured our hearts the moment she arrived. Like her dad, Ava doesn't sleep very much at night. I've told friends, you almost don't mind being woken up in the night ...almost. Alison is a great mom and impresses me every day with how much she is able to get done with a baby to care for as well.

The world has changed for the Frenzels. Stay tuned for more updates that are sure to come.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Just Breathe


These last few days, prayer has been on the forefront of my mind. As the nation mourns along with those at Virginia Tech, I too am grieved to think of how terrible this must be for the friends and families of the victims. A few years ago, a similar incident took place in Killeen, Texas at a Luby’s cafeteria, in which there were two of my family members gunned down in similar fashion. Incidents such as these bring us to our knees, sometimes in prayer, and sometimes with no words at all to speak.

Something that has struck a chord with me as I have watched the news coverage of this tragic event has been the convergence of students and faculty to prayer vigils. There are photos and footage of the campus coming together, not expressing outrage, but instead coming together in solidarity, with tears, holding hands, and praying together.

I am reminded of when I was in college living in College Station, Texas and the Bonfire collapsed killing Texas A&M students. The campus came together and prayed and found comfort in this.

I also think of an article on Jessica Simpson my wife told me about recently. While in New York, Jessica stepped into famous cathedral to escape the paparazzi and to pray. When asked about her time in the church, she talked about how she went it, lit candles, and just breathed prayer. Breathing prayer. I like this, even if it comes from an unlikely source.

There are times when there are no words. Romans 8:26 tells us that the Spirit intercedes for us when we do not know how to pray or what to pray. But praying is something that I think is directly connected to being alive. Even people who claim to not believe in God find themselves praying at times. Its as if praying is encoded in our DNA. It is deeply connected with life. God hears us, by way of prayer. He is listening to us, even when we can’t find the words to say.

So when the campus of Virginia Tech gathers at these prayer vigils, when the woes of living in this world seem too much to handle, we need not struggle to find the proper words to say. Just breathe and let God hear you.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pimp My Soul


Last weekend, we had some of the young adults from the church over to the house for a visioning and planning session. One of the points on the agenda was to think of a name for our gathering time and a name for our group. There are many in the church that find the title "young adults" confusing and most in our group find it bland and non-descriptive. We tossed around ideas for a while when one of my closest friends in the group said, "wait a minute, Brandon, I've got it...we can call it Pimp My Soul."

There were obvious outbursts at the absurdity of having a church service called "Pimp My Soul." No one would ever sign off on this of course. We all had a good laugh at this and more ideas were thrown out that only encouraged us to keep moving in this direction. But when I began to think about a specific show on MTV, I began to like this idea even more.

Think about the show Pimp My Ride with me for a moment: They show a person with a beat up and run down car trying to drive it around town. Xzibit shows up on their doorstep with the good news that MTV has decided to restore the car. Xzibit drives off in the car and the next scene has the car limping into West Coast Customs and the work crew reluctantly taking on the job.

They show the skilled artists, after planning and executing a complete restoration (and making major improvements), returning the car to its owner.

I know that this may break down under theological scrutiny, but I thought about how "Pimp My Soul" could work (let me have my fun). It is a place where broken down souls come and have a complete restoration done. After the proper "pimping out," the soul is made new.

So let me know what you think about a new ministry I might start up called "Pimp My Soul."