Friday, February 24, 2023

My Top 10 Greatest Albums of All Time

Without a great deal of commentary, here are my Top 10 favorite albums (as of today . . . )

But first some honorable mentions: 

  • Billy Joel - Piano Man (1973)
  • Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
  • Blood, Sweat & Tears (1968)
  • Three Dog Night - Around The World (1973)
  • Van Morrison - Astral Weeks (1968)
  • Doobie Brothers - The Captain and Me' (1973)
Now onto my Top 10 Albums!

10) Boston (1976) Debut album - technological and musical marvel. Groundbreaking. 

9) Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1966) The Beach Boys eleventh album and by all accounts their greatest masterpiece. Vocal harmonies that sound like they were created in the realms of the heavenlies. 

8) Joni Mitchell - Court and Spark (1974) Her sixth studio album and her first combining her folk style with jazz elements. Simply stupendous. 

7) John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (1963) This breakthrough album combined two of the giants of jazz and big band vocals. It was rumoured that all of the tracks of this record were recorded in the first take except for the first song when the drummer dropped his drumsticks during the recording. Amazing. 

Friday, February 17, 2023

Just Come In (Part III)

There are some things you just can't imagine. For instance, I couldn't imagine as I walked in the doors of my grandmother's church what was about to happen. Thirty plus years later and it still seems like a dream. Church hadn't formally begun, I remember there was an organ playing, and BOOM! 

I was kneeling at the front of the platform, sobbing, unable to contain myself, and equally unable to move from that spot. I was wailing (or so I was told afterward) and halfway through the service a kind gentlemen suggested that I move to the side of the church as to not interfere with the service. I leaned on him until we got almost to the last pew closest to the door and BOOM! 

This time I kept proclaiming, not using my inside voice, (or so I was told afterward) these words, "I can't do this myself." Over and over. Tears flowing, sobbing continuing, and yet I couldn't stop saying those words. For the first time in years I truly cried out to God. I didn't care where I was, how loud I was, (which was pretty loud or so I was told afterward), or what else was going on. Toward the end of the service two men knelt beside me and prayed but I couldn't begin to tell you what they said. I just remember God piercing my heart with every utterance and the growing realization that my life was about to radically different. I didn't care about my pain, I didn't care about my job, I didn't care about my apartment, I didn't care that I had been robbed of years worth of savings, I didn't care about having to sell my car . . . okay that's not totally true but you get the point. The only thing that truly mattered was confessing to God that I couldn't continue to live my life without Him. No way. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Sunday, February 12, 2023

The Asbury Revival

Our church social media has been lit up all week with posts from members and friends telling us about the "Asbury Revival" at Asbury University, a Methodist school in Kentucky. Tom McCall, head of the theology department at affiliated Asbury seminary, writes in Christianity Today about what's happening. 

"Most Wednesday mornings at Asbury University are like any other. A few minutes before 10, students begin to gather in Hughes Auditorium for chapel. Students are required to attend a certain number of chapels each semester, so they tend to show up as a matter of routine.

But this past Wednesday was different. After the benediction, the gospel choir began to sing a final chorus—and then something began to happen that defies easy description. Students did not leave. They were struck by what seemed to be a quiet but powerful sense of transcendence, and they did not want to go. They stayed and continued to worship. They are still there.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Just Come In (Part II)

1989. The sky was growing darker and yet I was blissfully unaware of the storms ahead. The rumblings began with an unexpected late night conversation with my then fiance, which led to her calling off our upcoming wedding two days later, six weeks away from the event. To someone who had led a pretty charmed life until then this was devastating - she was truly the only girl I had ever loved and I couldn't imagine the possibility of life without her. 

To make it worse, we worked together which meant there were constant interactions that neither one of us wanted to endure. I was finally able to honor her request to be transferred to another location, but that didn't stop the pain. I was drinking, way more than I had been, but that wasn't dulling the pain either. Work started to suffer, and my upcoming promotion was threatened if my performance continued to decline. My boss urged me to take a extended vacation, with the stipulation that when I came back everything needed to be back to normal. 

Yet, that was the problem, nothing seemed normal and the prospects of regaining any normalcy in my life seemed slim indeed.

Monday, February 06, 2023

Happy Birthday Mr. President

Ronald Reagan was born one hundred and twelve years ago today. It is my opinion that the world has not seen the likes of him before or since. He was one of the few presidents in all of American history who truly motivated all Americans through his love of this great country. As a country we are far better off for his leadership and beliefs. 

Speaking of his beliefs, one of the many things that made Ronald Reagan such a defining leader was his steadfast belief in God. He famously put this belief into a statement that read, "Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God." 

As the Great Communicator, in his written and spoken words, Ronald Reagan left many clues for us to find and decipher. Some seem as if they were given not only to America and the world but were almost as if he was also describing his own North Star.  Like his motto quoted above - one he lived out both publicly and privately.  Good words for us to adopt and live out too. Simplicity. Love. Generosity. Caring. Kindness. Faith. 

When stated like that maybe he wasn't so elusive after all.

Friday, February 03, 2023

Just Come In (Part I)

1989. Life was good. Making a boat load of money, had a beautiful fiance who I loved more than anything, and my boss had hand-picked me to take-over his position. The benefit package would likely set me up for life, seeing that I would be given the opportunity of accrued ownership of my own Wendy's restaurant in Nashville, TN. My family was doing great, had a awesome apartment, took postcard vacations, my health was excellent, and I had every reason to believe that life would only get better from here.  

And yet, I'll bet you can figure out what's about to happen . . . 

Because under the surface, even to the point that I was unaware, there was a huge portion of my life that wasn't doing great, my relationship with God. Or lack of to be more accurate. I had been giving Him lip service throughout my twenties, while steadily moving further and further away from His influence and presence. I didn't pray on a regular basis, couldn't find my bible if you paid me a thousand dollars, and had not even considered attending a church service since I was seventeen years old. When you have everything (or so you believe) that you need, God can easily become an afterthought.