Monday, December 29, 2008

New Blog

Thanks for following me here in blogspot. I'm now posting at

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Seeing A Dream Come Alive Made Me Cry

In October of 2007, we began a series at Status called "Life In A Tent Without A Campground."  It was a 9 week journey with the Hebrew people from Egypt, through the wilderness and into the promised land.

At the beginning of the series, we built an ebenezer - a pile of rocks commemorating the miracles God has done in our lives - like the one the Hebrews built after God had led them across the Red Sea.  However, our ebenezer was two sided.  One side of our stones was thankfulness for what God had done in our lives.  The other side of the stones was where we feel God leading us next.

As I led our community through that experience, I spoke of a vision I had been having (and continue to have) for the Status community and our generation : God has placed a blessing of leadership, wisdom and adventure on us, and He desires to change the world - not from the top down - but from the middle outward.

We have been raised in an historical context of top-down leadership where the coming generations have waited and relied on the previous generation to mobilize or challenge them toward action.  But the vision God had given was clear in my mind - looking something like dripping water in the middle of a paper towel - the water creeping out into the dryness from the center.

In the past year, we've come a long way, and - through many conversations and much prayer - we are becoming an increasingly inter-generational community (more on that here and the left column on this page).

Today, I met up with a forty year old British man named Chris who has been coming to Status for a few months, and I heard him say one of the most incredible things my ears have ever heard...

"I walk into Status and see all those young people there and think, 'bloody hell, why couldn't I have been born twenty years ago?'  Those people are so talented and motivated and can do anything."

To know that Chris sees this same blessing on our generation is amazing... and more than that, to know that God has led us to tear down the walls of our man made box of twenties ministry to allow men like Chris in, is even more beautiful.

I could hardly say it without my voice quivering from the tears of joy in my eyes, "Chris, you have a lot to offer.  Let me know how I can help you invest your gifts as a contributor to the kingdom of God through Status."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas at Status

We've heard the Christmas story - and every variation thereof - dozens of times. We've sung the songs to the point of exhaustion. So, with these two things in mind, I'm supposed to help create a Christmas worship gathering? Quite a daunting task... but it was a powerful night, and - best of all - we actually engaged together.

We brought everyone together for one service, and for this reason as well as our desire for people to engage in experiences around the room, we removed the chairs. Ben White, from Origins Long Beach, CA led a few songs at the beginning of the night, then Trent Sheppard, one of our teaching pastors, spoke on the parallel between the book of John (specifically the beginning) and the book of Genesis and wrapped up talking about our command as followers of Jesus to be givers over consumers.

Then, we transitioned into a time of interaction based on some questions inspired by the participants of the first Christmas (ie. Mary - "what pain has Jesus caused us? how might this pain be used for the glory of God?" or The Star - "how are we supposed to be light in the darkness?"). These questions were meant to help us be introspective around the idea of giving over consuming. Several of the questions also had interactive experiences involved with them to help people engage sensorially and not just cognitively. This time was about half an hour long and was accompanied by a group of about ten musicians.

Thanks to everyone who made this stuff happen:
Melyssa Marshall - tech director
Jenn Janaciewicz - operations
McKenzie Parker - producer
Josh Luker - engineer
Jake LeBoeuf -guitar and vocals
Luke Domeck - guitar and vocals
Noemy Olson - viola
Lu Bonilla - trumpet
Paulo Clayton - guitar and vocals
Ben White - guitar and vocals
Greg Perkins - guitar and harmonica/Designer
Sarah Hester - keys and vocals
Andrew Ross - guitar
Jordan Dowty - runner
as well as all the ops peeps that took down and reset chairs and the lighting and video crews.

Here are some pics:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

If I Had the Energy...

If I had the energy, I'd write a blog post about this:

Something called the "Praise Awards."  Chances are, you know what I'd say about it anyway.

Rather than an entire post, here are some things to think about:
1.  A group of people sat in a room.  One of them said, "Let's have 'Praise Awards.'"  The other people in the room responded, "man, what a great idea."

2.  I've heard only one of the songs nominated for "song of the year."

3.  The music industry really knows how to squash authenticity and make everything they touch seem cheesy.

Cheers to the corporate world for doing your best to try and kill another genre of music.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Francis Schaeffer, Communal Living and The Products Thereof

Francis Schaeffer died in in 1984 at the age of 72, but his life had a significant impact on the way modern Christianity interacts with the world.  According to his son, Frank Schaeffer, Jerry Falwell once said, "without Francis, the Christian Right would have never existed."  But interestingly enough, Francis lived a significant part of his life as the founder and leader of a communal Christian living and learning space in Switzerland called the L'Abri community. This community was known for its loving acceptance of the outcasts and hippies of society. Young, unwed mothers and homosexuals were welcomed with open arms and compassion.

In his book, "Crazy For God," his son, Frank Schaeffer recounts how his life went from wandering thought Swiss hillside communities as a child to Christian rockstardom in his twenties to a supporter of Barak Obama today.

I heard an interview he did with Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air last week on Dec 9.  My aunt emailed me today to ask my thoughts on the interview.  As I re-listened to the podcast version, I was struck by how I could tie his words to where I heard them first.  As he spoke of the backlash of his Democrat support in the 08 election, I was passing under I-4 on Orange driving into downtown.  When he talked about the opera singer that moved moved to L'Abri to be part of the community, I was turning at the stoplight on Church and Hughey near my apartment.  As I pulled into my parking garage he spoke of his conversion to the Greek Orthodox Church.  When I parked, he said, "If I wanted to be an atheist, the first thing I would do is to pray to God to help me."

The vividness of these memories says something about the intensity and impact of what he had to say had on me.  Perhaps you'll find it interesting as well.  Here's a link to the podcast of the Dec 9, 2008 podcast in iTunes:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

From Distressed to Raw

I'd like to think I've always had some innate value and eye for aesthetics, but I can't remember thinking about fashion for the first 18 years of my life. Just like most kids, I woke up every morning for school and put on whatever shirt and pair of shorts were laying on the floor of my room. I didn't think much about the words "fit," "match" or "cut." I just wore what was around.

One afternoon, when I was about 19, I walked into Nordstrom at the Florida Mall. My department store experiences up until this point consisted mostly of Dillards and Sears, and chances are that a store that sells lawn mowers, washing machines and apparel isn't the most fashion forward of clothiers. I balked upon walking up to a rack of jeans and noticing a price tag of over $150. So, I turned up my nose and walked out of the store in my bootleg GAP jeans and stripped polo.

Over the next few days, I didn't talk of my experience in Nordstrom, but I must admit that my curiosity had been piqued.

"I wonder if $150 jeans actually feel different," I would say to myself followed by a quick, "but there's no way anyone could justify that!" Within a week, I was standing on a pedestal in the men's dressing room in my first pair of 7 For All Mankind denim. The in house tailor pinned them up, went upstairs, hemmed them and within the hour I walked out of the store with these in my hands.

At this moment, I would have never thought that I was walking down a road that would become somewhat of an obsession. I never thought jeans would ever be a subject of conversation. I never expected to amass a collection of rare denim. I didn't think I would lay them on the ground and take pictures of them. And I certainly didn't expect that it would connect me with people I might have never spoken to otherwise.

It was a few months later when I walked back into that Nordstrom store to purchase a similar pair of 7's.

One thing I knew when searching for this second pair of jeans was that I wanted them slimmer, and the men's section just wasn't cutting it for me. In 1999, it wasn't popular for guys to shop for jeans in the women's section of the store, but the men's jeans seemed to be made for guys with a size 28 waist and 25 inch thighs. So, I would sneak up the escalator and search for the most inconspicuous entry point possible into the women's denim section. I felt like a criminal... some kind of intruder into a sacred space. In actuality, I was an explorer - charting a way for the throngs of skinny guys to follow. You can thank me in the comments section...

Purchase two:

It was around this time I met Archie. Oddly enough, we were the only two people in a group of about 150 that were wearing designer denim at a campsite. In fact, Archie was the first person I had ever even seen wearing 7s. Our conversations, and subsequent years of friendship - bound together by music and pants - only pushed me deeper into the seedy underbelly of denimology.

Next was the - now obligatory - Diesel purchase. What this pair of jeans has become is somewhat an area of pride for me. While the wash was pretty distressed from the beginning, there was virtually no physical distress on the jeans. After about 5 years of everyday wear, the knees wore through, the thighs became paper thin and the pockets started fraying.

Unfortunately, Diesel has become the bottom half of the drunken frat boy party costume. That - combined with the fragility of the jeans - has forced them into retirement.

I spent a majority of that summer in Tennessee. One weekend, my band and I traveled to Memphis and found a store on the bottom floor of the Peabody called Lansky's. This was a first introduction to regional denim - specifically Japanese denim. Japanese denim is characterized by the old world style of hand made garments and moves away from mass production into more individualized styles. What I loved about these jeans is how light they were... 9 oz, I think. I patched them until they were just worn too thin to keep going. These Paper, Denim Cloth jeans were definitely my favorite.

As new jean designers and manufacturers would come upon the scene, I'd inevitably try them on and purchase some... Antique Denim, Joe Jeans, Earnest Sewn and Rock and Republic were to follow...

But my preferences changed over time. Eventually, I started sewing in flares and cutting my jeans into new fits.

... even turing some of them into shorts...

I took a several year sabbatical from buying jeans, but a few months ago, the bug bit me again. I was back in Memphis... this time with an entirely different band, and we were talking about jeans. Sean mentioned his friend, Sam, who had purchased some APC jeans earlier that year. He said they were some type of jean that came as solid indigo and became distressed with time. I had missed a new era in the course of denim, and I was hooked again. With the internet as my guide, I found raw denim.

Eventually, Sam and I ran across each other online and were connected by this denim sickness. He led me to forums where hundreds of people from all over the world talk about how jeans are made, what kind of fabrics are used, how to wear them well, how they fit and where to find them.

Since raw denim brick and mortar stores are so rare, they are next to impossible to try on before buying. So, these forums as well as conversations with other raw denim owners are necessary in making the right purchase online. My next purchase was from the Swedish company, Nudie. They are one of the only companies in the world that uses real indigo to dye their jeans, and they don't wash them before sending them to reatil - thus raw denim.

When my jeans arrived from Australia, they were completely blue. All raw denim companies suggest wearing jeans for at least six months before washing them to give them indigo opportunity to wear to the specific contours and bends of the wearer's body. After almost daily wearing for three months, here's what my Nudie's look like.

The color changing on the front of the jeans is called "whiskering" and is completely reliant upon the specific shape of me. You can see too where I keep my chapstick in my right front pocket.

The wear behind the knees is called "honeycomb" and you can see where I keep my credit cards in my back right pocket.

It's all really futile and quite ridiculous, I know. I'm not sure what has drawn me to denim over the last 9 years of my life, and I don't know what keeps me coming back. I do know that it sounds lame, but I really have made significant friends because of jeans. Like a lot of things (fixed gears, harleys, sports, music), jeans can bring people together. It's amazing that just by the insignia on the back of someone's pocket, I can make pretty accurate generalizations about who that person is or what they think about certain things in life. I guess to those who know about them, jeans can be like a secret handshake - some sort of secret society - a wink and a nod.

While I'm still a 28 (or sometimes a 27), i have grown and changed quite a bit from that first time I put on a pair of 7s in Nordstrom, and maybe my jeans - in some way - reflect that change.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas List

Every year, my mom asks, "what should I get you for Christmas," and I always reply, "I don't know."  So, I've been withholding some purchases I want to make and have listed them here, mainly for her, but you can take a look: