Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And in the End...

Those of us who are Beatles fans are simply loving the release of the Remastered discs, and the arrival of the incredible Beatles Rock Band.

But the only thing that the Beatles have in common with this Road Journal is my appropriation of a song title. Those of you who follow this blog can now follow it on our newly re-imagined Project Onefifty website.

All of our posts have been ported to the new site, and you can simply subscribe via RSS to keep 'em coming (and I promise to do a better job about posting).

So we now say farewell to this faithful Blogger site. You've served us well...

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make!

Couldn't resist that lyric!

See you at the new site!


Friday, April 03, 2009

Behind the music... "I Will Trust in You"

Lately I've been talking a lot about this new collaboration with Wes Hampton of the Gaither Vocal Band. We've recorded brand new versions of two of my most popular songs, "Forty" and "I Will Trust in You". Both of these songs are several years old, but they seem to resonate with folks. So I was looking back through past journal entries and noticed something; I've never shared the story behind the songs here in this journal. So if you will allow the length, here is the inspiration behind "I Will Trust in You."

If you’ve ever gone through a failed pregnancy, then you know how devastating this experience can be. To go from the joy and expectancy of a new life... to the bitter pain of a life lost prematurely, the physical, emotional and spiritual toil can leave permanent scars.

God has blessed Carol and I with five children, but in between our second and third sons, we endured not one but two miscarriages. I almost cannot describe how this affected us. Needless to say, when we became pregnant again, there was always a shadow of fear in the background of our joy.

In February of 2004 we found that we were expecting a fifth child... we were so excited! Having four boys, we were of course hoping and praying for a daughter. When we announced our ‘impending arrival’, family and friends went crazy. As we were in our 40’s, we laughingly endured being called ‘Abram and Sarai’... lol.

But on the very day of our announcement, Carol started having problems. We immediately called her doctor but could not get an appointment for two days... two days! All the old fears and emotions were raging in my heart. How could God allow such a thing? We’d already been through all this twice! I’m ashamed to say that anger at God was just one of the emotions I was dealing with in this crisis. My heart prayer was for all to be made right. Thankfully God is big enough to take my puny rage.

I am a musician and songwriter. Part of who I am and how I deal with life and the world is through song. I can distinctly remember sitting on the edge of my bed on the night before Carol’s appointment. With my guitar in hand and my journal open, I was halfway playing and praying to God for guidance and understanding. I ran across a song fragment I had jotted down a month or so before. All I could see were the words of Psalm 56:3 leaping off the page... “When I am afraid, I will trust in You”.

It may seem like yet another songwriter story, but at that moment God gave me the song “I Will Trust in You”... it came into this world complete... chords, melody, and lyric. Through my tears I wrote down this incredible gift of comfort from Holy Spirit. I assumed that this was meant only for Carol and I, but in coming months this song found it’s way to Wes Hampton, where he and I performed it for the first time as part of a Celebrate Recovery worship service. God obviously had other plans for this song!

Audra Grace Vinson was born on October 29, 2004 and at the time of this writing is a healthy and vibrant four year old (going on twenty!). God not only brought our family through this trial, but the message of hope and grace and trust at the heart of “I Will Trust in You” is now being heard all around the world.

In this time of hopelessness in our world, God is using this simple song to proclaim the truth that He is hope, and that He is trustworthy!

Thank you for allowing me to share with you. It is the prayer of both Wes Hampton and myself that the promise of Psalm 56:3 will be at the center of this project and in everything we do.

God bless,


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Fall

No one likes a fall. I'm not talking about 'fall' as in the season (love that kind of fall). I'm talking about the 'I've fallen and I can't get up' kind of fall. Which is about what happened to me this past Sunday morning (in more ways than one).

It was another busy weekend on the road (can you say 'thank you, God'?), but things weren't going all that swimmingly. On the way down to Oxford, AL Saturday morning for an event that night, I started feeling a bit under the weather. By the time I arrived at the venue for set up and sound-check, I was in full-fledged 'virus' mode. Yep... the 'Full Monte(zuma)'. Thankfully our host and the band guys were very patient, and the event schedule was very kind to me. I got through the gig and made it to Birmingham that evening, as I was scheduled to play at Hunter Street BC in Hoover, AL the next morning.

By the time 6am rolled around, I was still a bit shaky but on the upswing. Whenever I play, I typically like to stand, especially in a worship setting. But that day I was just too dang tired, so I played from a folding stool. Two out of three services... no problem.

Can you see it coming? Of course you can! We had no more started the opening bit of music for the last service that it happened. There I was... sitting there, minding my own business... listening to the beautiful strains of "Shout to the Lord"... waiting for the measure to come where I strum this gorgeous A2 chord, replete with shimmering chorus and my trademark delay sounds. Suddenly as if the New Madrid fault line had a seizure, I found myself involved in literally the longest fall I've ever experienced in my life. Oh... I'm sure it only lasted seconds... but in that moment, I'm certain that Einstein's theory of time dilatation came into play and that my tumble was exponentially longer.

Somehow I started to fall backwards... yes, backwards and off the 18" high riser, all the while holding my prized '82 Strat. It would only be poetic justice (or poetic license) if the lyric at that moment was the 'mountains bow down' line in the song being played. But who knew... all I knew is that I was falling!

Finally I fell to earth. In best Olympic tradition, I immediately jumped to my feet. You know when the gymnast misses the final 'stick' but jumps up and acts as if nothing had happened? Yep... I tossed my stool back onto the riser, made sure that me and my guitar were all in one piece and plunged right back in (ok, I did re-tune first... lol). Fortunately there was no long-term damage, other than my ego. I have been told that part of this wonderful event was captured on video... oh, great!

But then it gets serious. I was on the way back to Nashville when I received a phone call from Carol. Our son Justin had been in a car wreck in Huntsville. Apparently he was on the way home and was literally a few hundred yards from his house when a car came out of the blue and hit his vehicle on the passenger side. He was in an ambulance on the way to the ER when he made the call to my wife. We planned on meeting at the hospital as soon as possible.

Thank God for grace and mercy! Other than a few minor cuts and some bumps and bruises, Justin was fine (his car, alas, was not so good). We spent the rest of the day getting him back to his house and settled.

On the drive back later that night, I couldn't help but think about all the events of the weekend. If you believe in luck, then you'd have to wonder why me and the family were patently unlucky. But I don't think that way. I don't even think it was the enemy or an 'act of God'. The Bible is clear that we live in a fallen world. When we fell in the garden, we pretty much told God what He could go do with himself. And ever since then we've been living in a world full of random chaos. Sometimes, stuff just happens!

But even in the middle of 'stuff', God never stopped caring or protecting. In every event of the past weekend, God's grace and mercy were evident. From getting through the event on Saturday, my Humpty Dumpty impersonation on Sunday, and to Justin's near brush with disaster... God protected us from far more serious consequences. And if feeling some sore muscles or replacing a vehicle is the price to pay, those pale in comparison to what could've been the end result.

No one likes a fall. Least of all God... when we fell, imagine his grief. But continue to imagine his love and mercy... so much so that Christ came and lived and died for me and for you and everyone who needs that mercy and grace.

Guess you could say that God 'took the fall' for us.

In His Mercy,


Monday, March 02, 2009

"What's in a Name?"

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

You've heard that one before, right? And while words can't really 'hurt' per se, what about your name?

Yep... your name. Your moniker, handle, designation, sobriquet... the list goes on. I love words and their meanings, but there is no more meaningful word than the one that signifies... you!

It's interesting the cyclical nature of the names we give or curse our children with. I was at a music workshop just this past Saturday, and three of the guys in the band were named 'Justin'. I have one of those too (son number two). It means 'full of justice', by the way.

So what's the deal with our names? Some of us have them because our parents just like the way they sounded. Names are also given to honor a past family member or great world leader. In fact, I'm named for both my maternal grandfather AND British kings... woo hoo!

Most ancient cultures believed that names were powerful and could shape the destiny of the individual. Some even have birth names that are used until maturity and then their 'real name' is bestowed after some 'right of passage', or at least until the nature and character of the person has been revealed. The popular young adult book series 'Eragon' has an important plot point in that everything in that fictional world has just such a 'true name' and the holder of this secret knowledge can wield immense power.

The Bible is pretty clear about what God thinks about names... especially his! All throughout scripture, God tells us that his name is so holy, that it's what he swears by. All the promises given to us in the word has the God-name 'seal of authenticity'! The people of Israel were so in awe of God that they wouldn't even speak his name aloud or inscribe it.

So do our names define us? Are these seemingly random bestowed appellations really self-fulfilling prophesy for our lives?

And it seems that the nursery rhyme about names and pain is not really accurate. There are some names that wound so deeply that these titles can shape our thoughts and emotions. 'Loser'... 'idiot'... 'cripple'... 'tramp'. Given years of repetition, these names begin to stick to our souls. Called 'loser' enough, a person will believe it, giving power to the lie and dominating their life until God knows what end.

But there IS hope! The Bible tells us that God not only knows our name... he has a new name for each of us, known only to him. Jesus promises that "to him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it."

Wow! The God who created the universe knows and cares for me so much that he has an intimate name that only he and I will know. And I believe that this name will be the defining descriptor of me and my life and purpose... the ultimate 'true name'. Incredible!!

Finally, in a passage in the book of Revelation, the name and identity of Jesus is made crystal clear:

"On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

So what's in a name? Apparently... everything!!


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Hope... and other four-letter words"

Today is a historic day... but you don't need me to tell you that!. Whether with excitement or dread, we've all been looking toward this day when Barrack Obama will cease to be the President Elect and will become THE President of these United States. Whatever your opinion of the man or your political persuasion... he will be the God-ordained leader of our country, and deserves our respect and more importantly our prayers.

Barrack Obama early on was labeled the 'candidate of change' and ran openly on a platform of 'hope'.

Hope... now there's something to talk about.

I tried to search out all the political speeches that contained the word 'hope' but quickly realized how futile a task that would be. Just about every politician has, at one point or another, embraced or even tried to personify the concept.

The word itself is defined several ways. 'Hope' can be 'to wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment' or even 'the theological virtue defined as the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God's help.' Hope... just say the word. It's powerful... and you can see why speakers are quick to invoke this magic phrase.

And that's the problem. We are quick to make the promise, but rarely can we deliver! When bandied about so casually, the word becomes (like it's close relative 'love') just another 'four-letter word'.

My prayer is that Barrack Obama will be a great President. We're in desperate times and need the fulfillment of the promise of hope. But ultimately we need to trust not in a man or a system or the hope that political promises will be kept... we need to find the true source of Hope... Jesus Christ.

"What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you'll have it all—life healed and whole."
1 Peter 1:3 (The Message)

Now that's Hope!