Sunday, September 28, 2008

On the road...

I thought we should start recording a little bit of video while we're traveling. We're new at this, so forgive us for the lack of showmanship. Maybe we'll get a better camera soon that will make this easier ... right now there are twenty steps just to post a video!

Nathan, Jenna, and Gary on the road in Ohio - Sept 2008

Nathan and Jenna on the road in Florida - Sept 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Who are you becoming?

There is a junior high school right across the street from our house. (recently built, and frankly I wish it wasn't there by the way, but that is another story). I was driving by the school today, and I saw a bunch of kids standing around, waiting for their parents to pick them up. Every Wednesday they get out early, and if I leave at just the wrong time, I'm stuck in parental deadlock for a long time before I can even get around the block.

As I sat there, waiting, watching parents cut off other parents, honking horns at each other, picking up their loved ones, I started wondering what each of these kids would become someday. Would the red headed girl laughing with her friends become a business woman, running some kind of successful enterprise? Would the young man sitting off all by himself become the next Bill Gates and start a new technology empire? Would any of these kids end up crashing their lives on the rocks of bad relationships, substance abuse, and fade away before they ever got a chance to live? Would many of them just come out "normal" in society's eyes -- because that is the path of least resistance?

And then I thought about that phrase: "what would they become?" What a strange, permanent sort of phrase that is. As if we as human beings start out young, get educated, and then "become" whatever it is we are trying to be - doctors, lawyers, truck drivers, plumbers ... and then we're done. How tragic life would be if that were really the case. And what a tragedy it is for people who do stop growing, changing, and learning at some point. 

In life, either you're growing, or you're dying. Status quo is just another form of fading away, and waiting to die. 

My hope and prayer for all of the kids standing around, waiting for their parents to come pick them up, was that they would never "become" anything. That they would never cease "becoming" who they are -- life is a journey of becoming, drawing closer to family, friends, and God, or moving away. The choices that we make every day, the plodding commute to work and back, the words we exchange in anger or in love -- they are either part of becoming something more beautiful, or becoming something less beautiful. 

Who are you becoming?


Friday, September 12, 2008

Ode to St. Paul's EYC

Oh what a sad day
When After the Chase couldn’t fly away
To Shreveport is where they had wished to go
To be with a special group that they know
But blasted Ike reared it’s head
And dreams of seeing friends seemed to be dead
And now here we are so sad and blue
St. Paul’s EYC we’re so lonely without you!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tour Update

We just got back from a weekend in Oregon. We played in Mt. Shasta on Friday, Portland on Sat, and Sweet Home on Sun. I just wanted to share an article that someone wrote about our Friday night experience at a small coffeehouse called The Coffee Connection. It's a little embarrassing how this article reveals that we sometimes play for an audience consisting no more than my parents but it also paints a great picture of why we do it. You just never know what opportunities you might pass by if you are not willing to look a little foolish for God. Click here for the article. And if you really want to know what it was like that night, you can watch it here. I'll try to post the other video of our rendition of "La Bamba" soon:)


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thanksgiving in LA - 2 years ago

Here is an old blog from Nov 2006 that we had on Xanga – now we’re blogging here, and I only wrote two things on that other blog, so I thought I would move it over here:

Nov 2006 - 

We just got back from a weekend in Los Angeles. It was Thanksgiving at it's best - 30 people crammed into my grandmother's house, all catching up on 5 years of life that we haven't shared together. My extended family is very loving when we're together, but not very good at visiting each other, other than when someone like our grandmother calls us all together.

My Grandma told us stories about her childhood in the old south, about the gifts of the Spirit, and about how she forgave her father. She spoke in tongues for the first time when she was 45. Soon after, she felt a heavy pressure on her heart to forgive her father and apologize for the mean things she had said to him when she was young about his drinking. It was really wonderful to see how God moved in her life to bring reconciliation and healing to her family. The day she apologized to her father, he stopped drinking and never drank again.

She told us stories about my Dad and his brothers throwing mice into the maid's room to keep her trapped there while they rampaged through the house -- decorating the windowsills with crayon drawings, drawing on the walls, and knocking things over around the house. They were throwing things out the windows when my grandma showed up to give them a serious spanking. My uncle said that once they realized they were going to be in trouble and get spanked within and inch of their life, they decided, what the heck, why not just keep doing more fun stuff until we get caught?" My grandma said she used to invite her to eat with her at lunch time at the same table, and she never told my grandfather (who passed away 7 years ago) because he wouldn't have approved of such a thing. I don't think she ever protested for civil rights in public, but I was glad to hear that she treated people like human beings in the privacy of her home.

We got a chance to play concerts at a church in Upland and a Calvary Chapel in Redlands. We had a blast playing our songs, and it was wonderful to hear people come up after the concerts and say "I don't know if you were here for any other reason, but I know for sure that you were here to play that one song just for me -- it was exactly the message God wanted me to hear today." Nothing makes our day more worthwhile than to hear that.

Grandma's stories and playing concerts - all in all, not a bad way to spend Thanksgiving at all.


I looked back on some old journal entries when I was a teenager -- all I talked about was grandiose dreams: changing the world, inventing time travel, and learning to be more like Christ to people around me. Every once in a while I would stray from these things to writing about whatever girl I thought was going to be my future wife. I haven't invented time travel or changed the world (at least that I know of) -- but I did find a wonderful wife in Jenna. Or rather she found me. Or something like that.

But contrary to popular opinion, the band that we named After the Chase has nothing to do with romance between us. It does come from an old saying the south "He chased her, until she caught him" -- but it's more of how we relate to God. We chase after truth and God, trying to find what's really out there, what made the universe, what made us -- and in the end God catches us. So if you were ever wondering, or didn't catch the meaning on our own website.

I spent my lunch time yesterday with my nieces and nephews, and talked about light sabers, star ships and teleportation. And my niece pretended to be an alien with little ear muffs on her ears. Then they had to work on their school work (they are all home schooled) and I helped them learn how to add and subtract fractions with different denominators. It was a a good day, even the school part. My sister sure has a lot of work on her hands, home schooling four children. I had fun teaching one of them about negative numbers.

I've got to say - lightsabers were definitely more fun than denominators. But lightsabers will probably never really get invented without denominators.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I went to visit my grandmother a few weeks ago in Los Angeles. I slept in the guest room that she keeps nice and clean downstairs. It was very strange to lay alone, asleep in the guest room downstairs in her house, where 10 years ago my grandfather lay dying. I stared at the cover over the four poster bed, wondering if during those last few months my grandpa stared at the same thing. What an odd thing. I remember the last time I saw him when he was alive, he looked like he was in pain, but he was filled with more love than I ever remembered before. He was a pretty conservative guy, not too expressive most of his life. He was a successful business person, he attended church regularly, he liked to cook breakfast for my grandma, he was an incredible carpenter ... but I seldom heard him speak about Jesus. But from what my grandmother told me, the last thing he did when they were carting him into the hospital was to share his faith with the orderly who was pushing the cart. Wow. Too many things going on there to even write about.

Do you ever wonder what your ancestors were like? Your great, great great grandfather? Did he want to be remembered? We are so disconnected from our ancestors in the US. Unless we have an ancestor that was famous for something, then we brag about it. So many years, so many lives going by that nobody remembers. Nobody but God. I'm sure glad He makes this life worth living.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

I got into another environmental discussion. I think this is starting to become a passion of mine. Uh oh.

The other “Christian” viewpoint that came up when we began discussing this issue was “well, this is all going to come to an end soon anyway – God is going to wipe the whole slate clean and start over again.” Another excuse for not taking care of our home.

The problem with this is that everyday behavior of Christians is driven by their understanding of the Bible. One simple change in understanding can have such a huge impact.

Or to put it more simply. Would you put your car in your family room, and leave it running all night while you sit there with your family and watch a movie? I hope not! You would all die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Somehow we know that in our own house, this is a bad thing – but in our own world, we drive our cars for hours, and hope the poison will just go away. Disappear. Vanish somewhere without impact.

So where am I going with all this? I guess I’ve found a passion I didn’t even know was there. We as Christians are commanded to “be responsible” for this earth. That’s not a passive, “sit back and hope things get better” charge from God. That’s an active command to get up and do something. To use natural resources responsibly. To recycle. To buy products that are ecologically sound. To carpool whenever we can. To think about this globe as our living room, and treat is like we live in it.

This is a command from God. It’s like “honor your father and mother”. Or “do not lie”. This command was given to us long before those other commands. If Adam had looked God in the face and said “no way – I don’t want to be responsible for all this – I’m going to poison it all until everything dies” – wouldn’t this have been a sin, just as not obeying these other commandments is a sin? That’s the thing about living in this world – we’re just not good enough, ever, to live up to the standards and commands God called us to. This is yet another reminder. I’m sure glad we have God’s grace to fall upon for all of this, otherwise we’d be in a world of hurt. No pun intended. Or maybe pun intended just a little bit.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Christian Environmentalist?

I had a discussion the other day with a friend about global warming.

Apparently they read an article recently that stated instead of global warming, we actually might be facing a period of global cooling. “So,” they went on smugly “Al Gore might not have been right after all, and the earth may just be going through another cycle of warming and cooling.” All I could do was stop and stare.

None of us really want Al Gore, and thousands of scientists who have been warning us for decades, to be right. It would mean we would start reaping what we have sown.
But in this case, the theory is that global warming might come back to bite us in an odd way. Maybe instead of global warming, we face global cooling because the increased melting rate at the polar caps (caused by warming) is shutting down the huge oceanic currents that circulate around the globe, and a natural backlash is going to happen: perhaps an ice age awaits instead of a global desert. (like in that movie The Day After Tomorrow). Either way we’re talking about disaster for human beings.

But no matter what environmental disaster may await us, I think that Al Gore is actually preaching something straight from the Bible. Christians seem to ignore this passage so easily.
The Genesis 1:28 in the NIV translation of the Bible says “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Unfortunately, in our land of democracy, we really don’t have a great intuitive grasp of what “ruling” means. Our general cultural considers ruling to be the same as dominating, “lording it over” … pictures of French monarchy living in splendid wealth while stomping on the backs of starving peasants come to mind.

I must say, I like the Message translation of Genesis 1:28 better. It converts the intention of the word “rule” into a meaning relevant in our cultural context: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”

A good ruler is responsible for the well being of those under his/her rule.

So should we rejoice that we may have global cooling coming instead of warming? Hip hip horaay! Let’s drive our SUVs more, because we really haven’t ruined the world after all! We’re going to need to warm this place up more! That was the short-sighted response my friend seemed to be having to the “latest study”.



Friday, March 21, 2008

I got sick a few weeks ago– sore throat, fever, followed by nasty congestion. It was strange to feel the moment the tickle started in my throat. Normally I really can’t tell the moment I got sick, but I sure did this time. Both nostrils plugged up with congestion, headache, cough, etc … it’s a flu, or something like it. I couldn’t think of a better time to get sick – I actually thanked God that it started now, after our big CD release concert, instead of a week before the concert. Jenna got sick a few days after me - my poor wife. It hit her harder than me - she still has a bad cough.

It was odd to thank God for getting sick. I’m not thanking him so much now, many days into it. But I certainly am glad to be alive. This virus has gotten a lot of people around here, and it seems to last for weeks.

So as I was sitting at home, reading a book, watching some movies, doing dishes, I started thinking about comforting memories. I thought – what if I could pick any memory I wanted to relive, or recreate today, what would it be?

My thoughts first circled back to my friend Wyatt and I playing with Legos in his basement, with Star Wars playing in the VCR in the background. I think we probably watched Star Wars at least 100 times that year, or absorbed it in the background anyway. We were always making up our own stories and characters, and giving them adventures that were way cooler even than Star Wars.

Then I thought about the days I first discovered Narnia, reading all seven books in a row while listening to Keith Green music. I still get that magical sense of something beyond these shadow lands when I listen to certain Keith Green songs. The songs somehow trigger a faint memory, or longing for heaven, or something of both. 

I just searched the web for a Keith Green picture - here he is - man, I've got hair envy. :-)

Then I thought of the hours I played Descent 3 (a networked video game) with my friend Mark. And ping pong, and the times we went water skiing and slept outside under the stars. And the girl Susie who I had a crush on at the end of high school, who introduced me to climbing on top of the Healdsburg reservoir and gazing at the stars.

And of course thousands of memories with Jenna, the girl who I fell in love with and who I love even more every year. Walking in the park, writing music with her, hiking, playing Boggle (we are very competitive Boggle players :-), watching 12 episodes of Lost in a row while we were sick together, performing together, leading worship together, going to Latvia on short term missions together …

Well, needless to say, by the time I was done walking memory lane, I felt better. And realized that I really didn’t want to go back in time and relive them – just soaking in them was enough.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Make Me New CD Release Concert

Last night was a blast - we had a great CD release concert. Many thanks to all who came. We got some video footage and pictures that we will be putting up in a few days. It was a wonderful time of music, art, and fellowship. Now it's time to hit the road with the new CD!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


It’s morning now and the shock still hasn’t worn off…

Late last night our worship pastor called to let us know that our electric guitar player died of a massive heart attack while on stage playing worship music at the mission. Wow!...

Well, he wasn’t really “our” guitar player but he had played guitar with us in the past. Actually, to be more specific, he had practiced guitar with us for one practice last Monday. He was someone who had always been fond of our music and always talked about playing with us but the timing in his life was never right and we never got around to it. Finally, last week, things had settled down in his life and it looked as though it was going to work and he was going to play electric guitar with us for our CD release concert on March 1st. We had a great practice with him on Monday and he died the following Tuesday…

He only made it to Tuesday. He didn’t even get to finish the week…

Whenever I’m this close to death I’m reminded that we tend to live our lives with this notion that we deserve every day we get to live. We assume that we will be able to finish out our week when in actuality we might not make it past Tuesday.

Out of these statements I could easily say that every day is a gift but I don’t actually think it is. Every day is just a day and it’s up to you to make it the rest. Will you make it a gift or will you keep it all to yourself today? Will you make it a gift or will you wait to forgive that person next week?...

Just a thought
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