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.


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.