Spiritual Implications of Early John Coltrane

Here’s a surprising revelation for you- life is like a seminary class (in addition to being like a box of chocolates.) And since most of the time I have jazz running through my brain, a jazz seminary class is my life. Can you dig? I’ll let you in on another revelation- whereas some folks can listen to Christian radio all the time, I cannot. I love it…but my brain is not wired to listening to one genre constantly. Being a jazzer, I need jazz!

So, I was listening to one of my favorite jazz CD’s last week. Miles’ “Working with the Miles Davis Quintet” used to be in heavy rotation. In the days of cassette tapes I almost wore it out…I did wear out Marsalis Standard Time vol. 1 by Wynton (mostly listening/re-listening to Autumn Leaves). “Working with the MDQ” is a little oddity from 1956. It was recorded along with three other albums in a marathon recording session in order to fulfill contract obligations (namely so that Miles could get out of it!) Being in 1956 didn’t mean that the playing of the tenor sax player John Coltrane’s playing was at his absolute earliest, but it was fairly early on in his career.

For the uninitiated, Coltrane was, in short, a legend. Yet, what struck me as odd was that my listening today revealed a different aspect of his playing- he was reaching…sort of searching for what he wanted at times. He certainly wasn’t playing anything remotely bad, mind you.  If you want to hear “bad” jazz playing, then I have several examples of my own playing that would fulfill that.  Coltrane, not so much.  What I’m saying is that knowing the full arc of his career, I could hear that there were things in his brain that he wanted to reach for.

And then the spiritual application of his early-ish playing hit me: we should be constantly reaching, searching, and growing in our relationships with Christ!  I preached a sermon on this not too long ago, and in it I quoted Paul and Peter as they mention things like moving from an infancy in our faith to full maturity.  1 Corinthian 3:1-3 allude to this as does 1 Peter 2:2.  We have to start off somewhere.  We don’t just become believers and jump into teaching a Sunday School class… but we also have to grow and work out our faith.

Just some jazz theology thoughts for you.

Until next time!

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Blind as a Bat

I had a dream.  (No, not that one…)  I had a dream that for some reason I went blind.  Some clarification is needed here.  If you’ve ever seen my glasses I wear at night once the contacts go out, you’ll know this isn’t a far reaching idea.  These things are old school- the last frames I had before switching to contacts… in 1994.  I don’t think the technology (or my parents’ budget) was where it needed to be to make my glasses not look like things to see far away… like to planets.  Or the future.

But in the dream I had, I was really blind.  I don’t remember much about most of my dreams, but in this one I remember the blindness being totally new to me.  I was trying to figure the whole thing out.  There were several things I had to learn, or re-learn, to do.  Driving was one… no, just kidding.  Things like walking around the house were tough.  With a baby and a two year old, clear paths aren’t the norm.  Making coffee was a different endeavor.  Getting dressed was tough, too.  What if Jenn had already left for work?  It would take a whole new system of organization to ensure I wasn’t totally mismatched!  Sadly, my sense of fashion is also not too far of a stretch from this dream-reality.

One thing that I realized would change was pretty scary, too.  I wouldn’t be able to read the Bible!  Now, I know there are audio and Braille versions out there.  The thing I realized is from the aspect of having God’s word hidden in my heart.  I’m talking about laziness here… being blind to the gift that God has given us!  What good does a concordance do to a blind person?  That whole scenario of, “Oh, I remember a verse that says something like ______.  Let me look that up.” would be gone.  It hit me that I’ve really neglected the memorization aspect that Psalm 119:11 talks about:  “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

In countries that face no persecution for owning, reading, publicly using, and talking about the Bible we don’t see any application for this.  There are countless believers in countries where none of these things are allowed.  For them, to obtain even a page of Scripture is a great occasion.  I’m sure they don’t waste the moment by just reading it and then giving it little or no thought.  I’m sure they pore over it, and literally hide it in their hearts so that it can’t be taken away- even if the physical printed version is.  The next few verses of Ps. 119 talk about God teaching us and of recounting, meditating and considering, delighting, and not neglecting the word.  I wonder how much of that we are really doing today.

If, like in my dream, you suddenly became blind… how would you feel about what you have already hidden of God’s word?

Until next time!

Back In The Saddle

Oh man! What a… well, I was going to say “couple of weeks” but I think I’ve been away from the blogging scene for longer.  So… what an indeterminate time period!  A lot of stuff has happened, and at the same time (maybe not surprisingly) it hasn’t been that much different than before.  How vague and unhelpful this post is turning out to be so far.

I guess I can update my quasi- Lenten “vow”.  I cheated.  Yes, I stunk it up… don’t hate on me.  I know my smartphone was the thing that put the small chinks in the armor, the tiny cracks in the dam that let just a teeny bit of water escape leading to the crumbling.  It was so easy to check Facebook and Twitter with it right there in my pocket…. riiiight there.  With its little Android man, beaming up at me saying, “Not checking FB and Twitter.  Does not compute.  Need to post.  Need to check.  Human error.”  OK, I’m reaching.

We had some great things happening at Boones Mill Baptist on Palm Sunday and Easter.  The Palm Sunday morning services were led musically by the Ferrum College Vocal Ensemble.  Those ladies were jamming.  What a joy to host them and hear them use their talents and gifts.  That evening was the Easter musical, performed by the BMBC Choir and Drama Team.  I probably shouldn’t brag on it too much, since I played drums, but it went really well.  The children’s Resurrection Festival was a huge success as well.  Lots of fun!

The whirlwind continues, and I guess I’ve made my mind up about one life decision that’s worthy of putting down in writing (although a far cry from legally binding!)  I’ve decided not to take a summer class for my MATS degree.  It will mean pushing graduation to Spring of 2012, but it’s worth it to be there emotionally and mentally for my family and ministry.  I’ve had some times when I just felt like I was there but I wasn’t at the same time so, I’m taking the summer off from classes… in just two short weeks.  Who knows?  Maybe a little extra blogging/ writing time will come of it, too.

Until next time.

Knowing is Half the Battle

OK, nothing like a throwback quote… if you missed the 1980’s as a boy (probably some of the girls too) then you may not have understood that reference.  The G.I. Joe cartoons always ended with the tag, “Now we know, and…” well you read the title.  What does this have to do with anything?  I thought you’d never ask!

I taught high school band for six years (2003 to 2009) before being called to full time ministry.  As one can imagine it was a big part of my life, and leaving that profession was a tough decision.  Of course, obedience to God’s call on my life is more important and I have no regrets…but there are days I miss the music.  Now, some other parts of band directing are less missed!

I had the chance to help listen to two former colleagues’ bands last night and to give comments as they prepare for a big performance.  It was only the second time in going on two years now that I’ve been in front of a band.  Man, was I rusty!  It felt sort of like I was in a world that, at one time I belonged in, but now am not a part of.  It was great to look at a score and say, “Yeah, that’s going to be a problem spot.” But I can say that it gave me peace about things, too.  I had a peace about leaving the band world last night. 

That’s not to say that I’ll never work with another band, or have no desire to have any involvement with musicians in schools.  It’s was just to show me that (as if I had any doubts) God has me right where I need to be. 

Until next week!