Saturday, December 20, 2008

Piracy - A Handy Guide

Note: I'm not making any comment on the morality of performing any of the above actions, just providing a reference guide for those whose definitions have become confused by those looking to deceive.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Most Exciting Thing In Life

So I just filled out a "Connections Survey" for my alma mater, Life Pacific College, and it was interesting to notice the questions that it asked. Of course, it asked the standard stuff, Name, Years Attended and Graduated and contact info. And of course family info (I have no family of my own), so that was blank.

Then it wanted to know church info. The name, address, phone number of it. That's something that would be terribly relevant to someone in a "traditional ministry position", which is probably the occupation most people go to Bible College to acquire... but it may not matter nearly as much to someone who does something outside of church, either for their "day job" or ministry.

The survey next wants to know "Ministry Service or Career Path" since graduation. Now, I'm assuming this is information that will be going in the college's newsletter that goes out to alumni and supporters of the college to update everyone on what everyone else is doing. Is it in some way a measure of success for someone who can list off churches or ministries they've been a part of? When people receive this, do they compare what other people are doing to each other? Do they compare their own "Ministry Service or Career Path" with those of their peers? I mean, it's not like it's a competition... but it seems like human nature would turn it into one, no?

The most interesting question on it however, was the last one: Tell us the most exciting thing that’s going on in your life. Did your son just graduate from high school? Did your first grandchild just arrive? Are you in the middle of a building project at your church? To be honest, the most exciting thing in my life just happened a couple days ago, but due to confidentiality reasons I can't go into detail about it where all can read. But it has to do with my day job and it was pretty sweet.

Aside from that, I've moved out of my parent's house, I left my dad's church and found a new church (plant), I am living in an apartment on my own and I'm making a name for myself at work. Not in the "famous" making a name for myself way that phrase is usually meant (which is still somewhat true), but I'm making a name for myself in the way I conduct myself at work. The way I build relationships and the way I interact with people (customers, employees who work for me, my peers and those above me) stands out. They know I'm different than the person who had the job before me because of the way I talk, the decisions I make and how I treat people.

Of course it's a "secular" job, which means that there are politically correct things that one can and can't say and do. But I believe there is so much that words and actions can say and do without going into "politically incorrect" territory. There are dozens of people who I would love to have a conversation with when one of us no longer works for my company. But who knows if I will ever be the one to have that conversation? Maybe God is using me to (pardon my Christianese metaphors), "soften the earth", "plant the seed" or "water the plant" and someone else will "reap the harvest"?

I'm enjoying this stage of life and in truth the most exciting thing in my life right now is the relationships I am building and the lessons being learned (on both sides) from these relationships. Even with all this I can tell that this stage is still preparation, and the most exciting things are yet to come.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


From today's Quote of the Day...

"Invention is the mother of necessity."
-Thorstein Veblen

I disagree. In today's culture marketing is the mother of necessity.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

1 Sam 14

So a couple things stood out to me about this chapter. First of all... Jonathan did something I am very much not comfortable with: "god if this happens, then it means yes, but if this happens, it means no." it's not that I don't think that god can't speak to us when we set up a dichotomistic choice like that, but how does one know it's a fair thing to do? How do I know I'm not just stacking the deck in my favor if I so something like that? "god if the pastor looks right at me during the altar call and sings the third stanza of the star spangled banner, then I know you want me to respond. Otherwise, you don't." an extreme example, yes, but I think you get the point?

Is this something that we should be doing today as Christians? I mean, maybe it was different for Jonathan back then because he didn't have the holy spirit? (see also: casting lots to determine guilt) But speaking of the holy spirit... How do you even know if it is really god speaking to you, and not just your self? Or worse, an "unclean spirit". (pardon my christianese) yes, I know that we can learn what god's voice sounds like, or what he would say by being familiar with what he says in the bible. But when it comes down to it, we read the bible through the lens of our mind, and that can skew god's written word as much as his spoken (verbal or nonverbal) word.

I'm not saying we can't know what god is saying to us, because there have been a few times that I've really *known*... It's just all those other times that confuse me.

The next thing... Saul had to take roll of his men to learn that his son was missing. What kind of a father is that?! Dang. I hope I never have to do that. I'm betting that Jonathan was a young man at this time, because he led an army, but I doubt he was over 20. Probably 15 or 16 as an upper age limit. So it's not like Saul took his t ball son along with him to work (war) and lost him... But still, dad... Keep an eye on your kid! If you die, he's next in line man!

And then he made a stupid oath, based on a stupid rule that he made. Strange that he mentioned his son's name in it. After "losing" him was be trying to get, rid of him? Or did he feel like he was shown up and he wanted to get rid of him? Or was it just a proof that he was really serious? If it was, then why did he divide the groups into him and Jonathan, then the rest ofnthe people? Did he know? Surely he must have known Jonathan didn't hear the stupid command, he just took role and found him to be missing. The whole thing just seems fishy too me.

Lastly, he doesn't keep the oath that he made. Why? And why doesn't he get in trouble for it either? I mean, the people sin by eating meat without draining the blood, and then Jonathan is the one the dice point at because he broke a stupid rule that his dad made that he didn't know about! Surely the people sinned more than Jonathan. Surely Saul sinned worse than Jonathan because of the stupid rule he made that endangered the lives of his men. I mean come on, I don't think that skipping meals is a good recipe for success if you want to beat down a foe who is more BA than you. Yet it's Jonathan who the finger is pointed at instead of either of the other two groups.

And then! Then! Saul allows himself to be persuaded by the people not to kill Jonathan! Saul breaks his own stupid oath by not killing his kid who broke his own stupid rule unknowingly. Wow. Too much stupidity for me.

But on the other hand... What if god's hand was in this after all? What if god knew that David would need Jonathan, and it so he just worked out the best way to keep him alive? What lessons are there to be learned from this dysfunctional family and king?

God is with those who seek him. God has a plan that stupid people can't thwart? Maybe because he knew that the philistines were more screwed up than then the israelites, god decided to overlook their sins to kick some bad guy hiney? Idunno, I don't get why god does what he does a lot of the time. Why did he even give the Israelites what they wanted (a king) if he was just going to be a screwup anyway? Why does he entrust screwup Christians, like me, to do his will anyway?

Posted with LifeCast

A New Routine

So last night I realized that I needed a new bed time routine. I was losing sleep and losing touch with God with my previous one, so I decided to try something new. I liked it, so I'm doing it again. As always, we'll see if it sticks.

After getting ready, I get in bed with my iphone and read from Maybe research a little bit, maybe not. Then through the medium of blogging (again, from the iPhone... We're going for ease of use here) I meditate on what I just read. I'm not following any sort of homework assignment style of blogging. No SOAP, no exegesis, no theology, nothing but what naturally comes to mind about it. It may be brilliant, it maybe be stupid, and it will probably be full of errors. (Hence why last night's was titled 1 Sam 12 instead of 13.)

So I apologize to my one reader out there, but this is for me... Yet if God amazingly uses my ramblings to speak to you, it's because he's awesome and stuff. Don't expect anything spectacular, because it's more stream of consciousness than anything. Even so, comments are welcome and I would love to have a discussion if something said sparks something in you.

Posted with LifeCast

Monday, November 17, 2008

1 Samuel 12

"A man after my own heart."

Saul screwed up and disobeyed God. I don't know if he really thought he was doing the right thing by sacrificing before battle, or if it was more like his version of a good luck charm, much like some MLB players cross themselves before each at bat, or point to the sky after a strikeout. Perhaps it was just religion (read: tradition) to make a sacrifice before battle so he was just doing what he always did because Samuel was delayed. Or maybe, this seems most likely to me, Saul was just panicking and lost his trust in God. His troops were deserting him and he wanted to get the show on the road before it became a one man show (not a good recipe for success for a new king).

An interesting thing to me is that Saul was replaced by God when be had just barely started. He didn't even get his 30 day review before God told him he wasn't going to make it as king. Yet God allowed him to remain in power (even in "lame duck" status) for 42 years.

God had found a man after his own heart in David, but what took him so long to actually reach the destination that God had planned for him? One could say he was ready to lead the nation militarily (Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands), the people loved him (the same, also killing the giant did wonders for his rep I'm sure), he had the right woman (princesses don't just marry anyone), and it seems like he was ready to lead spiritually too (he spent so much time with God as a shepherd, wrote psalms, played spiritually soothing music in the king's court).

Was God not through with Saul even though he'd rejected him? Was Israel just not ready? David certainly seemed ready, even though we see he learned many lessons between the time he was anointed and the time that he became king. But what really made David qualified to be king?

He was handsome, sure. Pretty awesome with a stringed instrument, voice and pen. He could fight, lead and stand up against hard odds. But it seems the key above all these was that he was a man after God's own heart.

What does that mean? Certainly not that he was sinless (see: Bathsheba). I think it means that more often than not, he took the actions that God himself would have taken as a man, felt what God would have felt, and lived how God would have lived.

David's priorities were in line. He worshiped God and knew He was with him. He cared more about what God thought of him than what other people thought of him. He did what was right. He honored his family. He lived and loved with his whole heart.

I hope those are things that can be said of me. I will work to be sure they are, God willing.

Posted with LifeCast

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Late Night TV Lessons

So watching late night tv this evening I realized something about the shows that I watch and why I watch them. I don't watch much tv, but the main show that I do watch is Stargate, both the SG-1 and Atlantis versions. I don't just enjoy the science, the special effects and the cheesy jokes... I realized I watch it for the leadership situations and what I can learn from them.

It's interesting because there are decisions that have to be made at multiple levels. Sometimes it's the leader in the field that has to make a split second decisions that affect more than just his (or her) team, but they affect the entire program, or the expedition. Some situations call for a show of force and others for an intricately negotiated peace treaty. Sometimes there are decisions that are made by those above you that you can attempt to influence, but the final say lies with someone who just may not understand how wrong the decision they are making is. Most, if not all decisions have lasting effects that will be felt by the rest of the team.

What I have been learning above all though, is that decisions have to be made. Decisons are not meant to be ignored, or thrust aside. Leaders delegate tasks, not decisions, and certainly not responsibilty.

The other show I've watched recently is the Cosby Show. Yes, the oft adored and nearly as often maligned Cosby Show. It should be obvious what I've be learning about... family and fatherhood.

I sometimes wonder if when Cosby was writing the episodes if he intentionally wrote in these lessons, or if they naturally come out of the situations that he sets up. Every interaction with his children, with his wife, with his parents, even with the neighbor kids next door... All of these are quasi-consciously analyzed and lessons are gleaned. How to motivate children to succeed, how to treat a wife, how to create a culture within the house of an open home... I could go on.

Of course, please understand all of this in context. None of this is taking place in a vacuum. I'm not just some coach potato lounging on my sofa (though that is my posture at this moment, heh) being spoonfed junk from the tube. All of this is related to the experience I had in college, in church, growing up with my family, and now in my own apartment and with my work. I am who I am because of how I was raised by my parents, the influence of teachers and professors, the way I pushed myself in school and my desire to know God more.

And finally, these lessons are not merely academic, but are fed into
the superprocessor that is the mind to be crunched, ruminated over,
and put into action in everyday life. Sometimes the lessons learned
are put into practice the next day at work, but other lessons will
wait for that nebulous time in the future when I will be a husband and
a father... Or who knows, maybe even a "pastor".

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Response to Kristin's "Untitled"

So I was about to post this as a comment response to Kristin's "Untitled", but then realized it was probably too long to just be a comment. So it grew into a blog post of it's own.

I'm about to move out on my own with no roommate, to a city where the only people I know are my co-workers and because of my job title I'm discouraged from getting very close to any of them.

As far as the church thing if you get the weekend shift... I know it's cliche, but look outside the box. Look for places that meet more than just Sunday morning. Look for Saturday night services, and mid-week meeting times. Start a Christian community in your apartment complex or wherever you choose to live. At least, these are the ideas and things that I plan on doing. I may have even already found my church.

I'm fighting the same thoughts about Sabbath at my work, both for myself and for the people who work for me. For my role I have to work every other weekend because that's just the way it is. No ifs ands or buts. Sometimes I work early, sometimes mid-day, sometimes afternoon/late, (it rotates). For the people who work for me, we tell them, "This is retail. Or business happens on weekends. If you can't work weekends, find another job." Except usually most people don't say it quite as bluntly as that. And they won't tell the people who've worked there a long time that either. But that's another blog post.

Either way, over the past five years or so of over-working myself, I've come to realize the importance of having down time. I could be spiritual and call it "Sabbath Time" but I'll be honest because what I do on those days isn't always "holy". I play games. I goof off online. I watch movies. I generally don't do much around the house. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I'll play worship songs. Usually though, I don't.

Perhaps over the next five years I'll realize the importance of focusing on God on those off-days. But perhaps not. Who knows? What I do know is that it seems humans require a balance between everyday life that pushes your body/mind/spirit up to the red (car analogy), and times of idling. But it doesn't always have to idle, it could be just driving in another direction. Okay, maybe it was a bad analogy, but I think you get what I'm saying.

I think Qohelet said it the best, "There is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work." Finding satisfaction in work is not to be confused with overworking oneself. For that would be meaningless. Also, Pete Seeger (and The Byrds) also agreed with Qohelet on this one, "To everything there is a season."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A new tool

So I call it a tool only because it would sound wasteful to call it a
toy, but as much as I will be playing with it it may as well be a toy.
But it really is quite useful...

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Brad's Top 10 Sports Movies of All-Time

Ehhh, I needed something opinion based to post on, so here goes....
  1. The Sandlot - "Kidish" and cheesy, I know... but there's something this movie says about the spirit of the game and friendship during a magical summer playing a wonderful sport that just gets to me.
  2. Rudy - This movie makes grown men cry. "Rudy, Rudy, Rudy..." Nuff said.
  3. Cinderella Man - I liked this movie better than Rocky. He shows every bit as much heart, and I love the setting, cinematography, and story telling even more.
  4. Breaking Away - Little known (it seems?) flick about a kid coming of age and fighting accepted cultural norms. Full of heart.
  5. The Natural - Classic movie on the classic game.
  6. Chariots of Fire - I fear most modern movie aficionados will not appreciate this due to the movie's pace, style and age, but it's a classic movie based on an athlete's motivation when it's not based on money.
  7. Rocky (series) - Classic boxing movies that set the bar for all sports movies to come. It appeared the more they made the worse they became, but Rocky Balboa ended the series right.
  8. Bull Durham - Sharp, witty, gritty (and a mite bit inappropriate), this movie focuses on the realities of baseball and the love of the game. I loved how authentic the characters in this movie felt.
  9. Field of Dreams - Another classic, and while it contains quite possibly the most overused sports quote of all time, it's still a joy to watch and an inspiration for a dream.
  10. Remember the Titans - Top 10 list would be incomplete without one movie of this ilk, and this was my favorite. A great performance by Denzell Washington that makes you feel good all over.
  11. Shaolin Soccer - I realize this doesn't fit in standard Top "10" list, but this movie also doesn't fit in in many other ways. It's hilarious and either you love it or you just don't get it.
Top 10 Sports Movies Brad Wants To See:
  1. Eight Men Out
  2. Jerry McGuire
  3. Raging Bull
  4. Million Dollar Baby
  5. The Pride of the Yankees
  6. The Hustler
  7. The Longest Yard
  8. Hoosiers
  9. Miracle
  10. Seabiscuit
Any of your favorites I missed or forgot? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brad's 2008 Oakland Athletics Awards

Gosh, I really suck at this "regular posting on a blog thing". I can't believe I went a whole month without posting. And I even wrote the second part of that too! Anyway, this is borrowed from an Oakland Athletics Message Board Thread that I felt deserved a blog post...

Team Awards:

Front Office: B (Hard to see a lot of those guys go, a couple seemed like poor deals, but the dividends from Nick Swisher and Dan Haren are already apparent)
On Field Management (Geren & Co): C
Player Performance: B- (Some great surprises, some great disappointments)
CBS Sportsline A's fans: A+ (My first season on the boards, even though I was only active the first half... dang crazy new 60 hr/week job)

Individual Awards:
MVP: Jack Cust (Will probably set the K's record, but who else is more deserving?)
Cy Young: Justin Duchscherer
Fireman: Brad Ziegler (Runner Up: Joey Devine)
ROY: Ryan Sweeney
Unsung Hero: Kurt Suzuki
Best Surprise: Dana Eveland and Greg Smith (Ziegler was more unexpected, but nobody would have even thought playoffs in the first half if it weren't for these two.)
Biggest Disappointment: Daric Barton (Runner Up: Eric Chavez)
Next Year's Rookie to Watch: Aaron Cunningham
So Long and Thanks for All the Fish: Rich Harden (A Douglas Adams salute)
Don't come back Award: Emil Brown
Hope he gets it figured out award: Daric Barton
Position that needs to be filled: 3B... possibly with Jeff Baisley?
Best Athletics Player in Community: Mark Ellis (Community activism with diabetes)
Best Name for a Pitcher Ever: Josh Outman

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Tale of Two Trips - Chapter First

It was the worst of trips, it was the best of trips... or something like that. It shouldn't be that hard to get from California to Kalamazoo, Michigan... right?

We were running late. My mom took far too long to pack and instead of leaving when we planned (to arrive at the airport two hours before our plane was to depart), we left in time to arrive at the airport thirty minutes before the flight would depart. Thirty minutes to park in a strange parking lot, figure out how to leave our vehicle in the long term parking lot, then determine the route of the shuttle bus that would take us from the parking lot to the terminal, rush (haha!) through the draconian, orwellian airport security “features” while my dad gets “special inspection” and finally find the gate where we would board.

Somehow we made it. (The door was shut immediately after my parents entered.) And then the flight to Las Vegas to connect us to Chicago. Now, I've been on more than a few flights. The worst of which was from Atlanta to Los Angeles on the way back from a Hurricane Katrina relief trip where I had a fever and constantly felt like losing my lunch... and never finding it again. But this was different.

I've never experience claustrophobia before, except one time as a young child when a hay maze caved in. I'd certainly never felt claustrophobic on an airplane before, but this time the walls were closing in. The air was becoming stale. My lungs could not breathe quick enough. The oxygen was not reaching my blood. I was going to die... then I defeated it with logic. (Have I mentioned I'm a nerd?) The walls could not be closing in, there was plenty of room (and air) on the plane and there was nothing wrong with my hemoglobin. I have no idea what happened. Well, I have a guess, but that's saved for another blog. Ask me and maybe I'll tell you. ;)

Regardless, I arrived at the airport, conscious and well. However, our hotel's free shuttle did not. It was five minutes past the time that we had confirmed (twice!) that there would be a free ride for us from Midway airport in Chicago to our hotel. The hotel that we explicitly made reservations with because they offered a free shuttle from Midway airport to the hotel. The exchange went a little something like this...

“Mom, we should call and make sure they are sending us the shuttle.”
“Well, they are only five minutes late, and it's a thirty minute drive...”
“Mom, it's two in the morning... I'm sure not even Chicago has traffic at this time, and the paid employees who drive the shuttle's certainly have nowhere better to be.”
*she calls*
“Oh I'm sorry ma'am, our shuttle only goes to O'Hare. We don't pick up from Midway.”
“But we made reservations with you because of your free shuttle pickup at Midway.”
“Sorry ma'am, there's nothing we can do.”
“You assured me today, twice, that you would have someone here to pick us up when we came off the plane. You told us to stand at door two at Midway and here we are... where are you?”
“I suggest taking a taxi. Goodbye.”

Supposedly, a manager was also called, but that did nothing to help the situation. We called Best Western's Guest Relations, also no help. In the end, we took a taxi. A $59 taxi. With a driver who played Elvis on his Ipod Touch. Elvis singing gospel hymns. Elvis singing my all time least like song, He Touched Me. I literally felt like I was in a nightmare that I could not wake up from.

We arrived at the hotel and the hallways smelled like a rotten seashore. It was a peculiar saltwater smell mixed with rotten fish and moldy seaweed. But we were too tired to care. We collapsed on our beds, exhausted, nearly two hours after stepping off of the plane and with our wallets $59 lighter due to non-budgeted expenses. After complaining to the manager face to face the next morning (still no help) we left in search of our previously arranged rental car so we could drive from Chicago, IL to Kalamazoo, MI.

Simply because nothing could be simple on this trip, the car rental place was found in the lobby of a hotel we eventually located three miles away. The car was a Subaru Forester and the three of us were cramped in the back seat. An uncomfortable back seat that was our little cubby hole for the next three hours while we braved Chicago construction traffic and a multitude of seemingly random “coin-only” tolls.

Five weary travelers arrived at the final destination, a(nother) Best Western in Kalamazoo, where the wedding party and family was staying. And we found the non-smoking hotel to be filled with the smell of smoke and cigarettes. While there was only a hint of smoke in mine and my brother's room, my parent's room was terrible. After a room change we were finally able to crash.

Here ends Chapter First...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

#2 - Real Christian (Part 1 of ?)

From my first "About Brad" blog post:
2. Real Christian. I believe in God, Jesus, and the Foursquare Doctrine pretty much defines my beliefs, yet there is more. I'm afraid to admit my questions, failures, doubts and struggles, yet the best that I'm able I do it anyway. There is so much that I don't know.
So I think this is another one that will take longer than one post to write about. And I know it's one that will evolve over time and I'll constantly be adding new posts (parts) to it.

Real. I can't stand fakeness... not just in others... but particularly in myself. I hate faking a smile. I hate faking a tear. I hate faking emotion. I hate faking knowledge (BS'ing, as it's commonly known). Only when it's absolutely necessary will I do so... and when I do it's almost never for my own benefit, but for the benefit of others. I value honesty, genuiness. Give it to me straight or don't give it to me at all.

There are a lot of things about my faith that I don't know. There are things I don't understand. There are really hard questions about my faith for which I don't have answers. Why does it seem more often than not that God doesn't answer prayer? When I (or anyone else) "hears God", how often is it really God, and how much of it is the person themself? How could an all powerful, all knowing, immensely good God allow so much evil, pain and suffering if he has the power, knowledge and goodness to fix it? Do we really just not understand the true definition of God's "goodness" and "righteousness" because of our finite minds, or is that just a lame cop out to avoid the truth of the matter?

I could go on with questions and doubts of my faith, but deep down inside, when (if?) this period of searching in my life is ever over... I believe that it is true. In the end, I do think that my faith, my trust, my hope in God will be found out to be true. Is faith irrational? If it is irrational, is that wrong? Can something that is irrational still be true? When did rationality and things that make logical sense become the definition of truth? What makes the Scientific Method the standard for how we measure all knowledge and truth in this age? Is faith in the Scientific Method an irrationally and illogically placed faith? Is that not really faith as well, the unfounded, unproven belief that the only "true" knowledge is "a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses."

I'm just rambling now... so I'll make my point and move on. I do believe God is out there, and very likely in here (all around us, within us... and not in a panthiestic way, but in the Biblical, theological way)... but I'm very honest about the fact that I don't have all the answers. I don't even have all the questions... and sometimes I wonder if I even want to know the answers.

Onto theology... as I said in the "mini-summary", the Foursquare Doctrine pretty much defines my beliefs, and if you asked me a question about most theological questions I could probably give you a decent answer on what I believe. The tricky part is how it plays out in everyday life. I have opinions on homosexuality due to my beliefs, but how does that affect my voting? I have moral and ethical scruples that may be brought to bear on a work related dilemma... how do I respond? What do I do when the right "Christian decision" differs from the right "business decision"?

Regarding the bad reputation Christians have received based on "judging" others... Sadly, I feel a lot of that is justly received. People who are only slightly informed of the Bible's "big catch phrases" like to say, "Jesus said 'Don't Judge!'" In Capitals No Less. People who are slightly more informed retort, "No, it says, "Don't judge because the same way you judge others is how God will judge you!" To me, it seems very easy to for most Christians to point out how wrong someone else is when they are no better at the same thing, or even worse. I think the wiser person continues on from Matthew 7:1 and 7:2 to Matthew 7:3-5.

Finally, on the topic of the "Christian" moniker... Many people have avoided it because of the instant stereotypes and images it creates. The funny thing is it seems that today a lot of people like Christ, but hate Christians. So some people will say "I'm a believer" or "Follower of Christ" instead of calling themselves Christians. I'm not sure how important the title is as much as the lifestyle. It's trite and Christianese...ey... but the walk really is more important than the talk. Don't preach with words alone, preach with the way you live. Your way of life is the most powerful sermon ever.

Friday, August 15, 2008

#1 - Name: BarlowBrad (Part 2 of 2)

So, I graduated high school and got to college, the realm of where "dating leads to marriage" is actually possible. I had this idealistic idea that I would meet the girl I wanted to marry sometime during my freshman/sophomore years, date during junior year, be engaged senior year, graduate, get married and gallop off together on my noble steed into the gorgeous sunset of ministry together.

I'll kill the suspense right now... That didn't happen. It was strange, but I felt this sense from God that he didn't want me to date anyone until I was a senior. Well, okay, so I did that, or rather didn't. I had no dates in college. Senior year rolls around and for one reason or another nothing works out. Hey God... what happened to my perfect plans for dating? Right.

So here I am... growing older, smack dab in the middle of my "quarter-life crisis" years (thank you John Mayer) and trying to rethink this whole "dating" thing.

I've always been of the opinion that I can become good enough friends with a girl initially to know if I could see myself marrying her. And really, that was easy to do with ready-made social interactions at school, extra-curricular activities, sports, etc. But now that I've graduated and have a very much full-time job... what would that look like?

I still want to date only the one I will marry, but it seems like the odds of that happening are approaching one in a million (or worse). How do can I get to know "potentials" while still staying within the bounds of my determination of "saving myself" for my future wife? Have I reached a point where my idealism and optimism need to meet with reality so that I actually "have" a future wife?

On a separate front, since it's been so long (it feels) and I haven't yet met someone who "fits me"... are my standards too high? I know everyone says (and I say myself), "Don't settle. Don't lower your standards." But there is a point where standards could simply just be too high, right?

So here I am... a quarter to a third of my life has passed and I have yet to date. Obviously there's more to life than dating, finding your "the one" and spending the rest of your life with someone, but it's reaching that point where I'm feeling like, "Come on already... bring on the next stage of life."

I know some at this point might want to trot out that loved/loathed biblical idea... "Maybe you have the gift of celibacy." No. I don't. Some also say you can't know if you'll get married or not... but I know. God didn't make me not to get married. Trust me. If anything, I feel like I would have the spiritual gift of fatherhood. (I know, I'm not a father, so I can't speak from experience, but it's the way I feel.) The way I interact with children, how they interact with me. The desire I have to be a godly example as a husband and father. It's just too strong for it not to be something that God has put in me.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

#1 - Name: BarlowBrad (Part 1 of 2)

Hopefully this is the start of some consistent blogging. I'm going to go through my initial "Table of Contents" and attempt to regularly post on them.

I picked up the name BarlowBrad (or BarlowGuy) sometime around the end of high school. Brad is my first name, so that much is obvious, but Barlow is not my last name. Barlow is a reference to the Superchick song "Barlow Girls". I picked up the name because it fit me. These lines in particular:
They don't date, they won't date
They wanna see how they're gonna grow up
Who they're gonna be
And yes there are guys who are willing to wait
Ask a Barlow girl on her wedding day
Now let's get this part out of the way right away... I wasn't the most popular kid growing up. In fact, I was the one that the unpopular kids made fun of. So not dating through my freshman year of high school wasn't something that was done much by choice. But I don't know how or why, but girls starting becoming interested in me after that and I had a choice to make. But then, as I looked at my friends who dated, I noticed they all broke up and most of them ended up hating each other. I decided that I didn't want to lose a friend like that.

I also realized that dating relationships tend to go one of two ways, either toward greater intimacy (e.g., marriage and all that goes with it) or away from intimacy. So I wanted to either date the I wanted to marry, or not date at all. Somehow I had the wisdom and foresight to realize that I probably wasn't going to find the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with in high school, so I decided dating in high school wasn't for me.

Eventually, I heard the song and thought, "Hey, they're like me! I suppose I could call myself that too." So I did.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Billy Beane - Genius?

Editor's Note: I refuse to give into the temptation of every couple (or nine) months starting off a blog post, "So, I haven't posted in a while..." Dang. Failed. Gave into temptation. Again.

Anyway, I wanted to put something here to show the world that "Brad is not dead" (tm) so I'm throwing a few paragraphs of a post from a sports message board. It was in response to someone questioning Billy Beane's (Oakland Athletics General Manager) status as a "genius" with regards to baseball management.


It's funny that not until the past two years (last year while injuries ran rampant and this year in a rebuilding year) did anyone ever question Billy Beane. You know why? Because he was winning. And on a budget not even close to his competition in the AL (Angels, Yankees, Red Sox).

While the skepticism is understandable, I think that Billy Beane's "genius status" among MLB general managers is rightly placed. He was named general manager of the Athletics in 1997, and in just a few short years he was able to turn around a team that was was averaging 73 wins a season (.454 pct) into a team that went 664-469 from 2000-2006, a .586 winning percentage (average of 95 wins a season). How many other general managers have done that? Not just that, but he did it with a payroll that was one of the lowest in the majors! The Athletics made the playoffs five times in those seven years, how many other teams made the playoffs that consistently?

Only the Yankees had a higher winning percentage from 2000-2006 and made more playoff appearances, and we all know how tough that was for them with their payroll constraints (sarcasm). The Braves and Cardinals had six playoff appearances in seven years, but fewer wins over that period (and Braves and Cardinals fans can probably speak to their budget comparison to the Athletics better than I can), though you have to admit that they were in the weaker league.

Some might argue that because Billy Beane has not won a World Series it means that he doesn't belong in the upper echelon of MLB GMs. But if you add up the Athletics win totals from 2000-2006 (ranking them 2nd, just a few wins behind the Yankees) it shows that he obviously knows how to give a team the tools they need to win a championship, but it's up to them to perform (and not be injured) during that time.

I would say the simple fact that Billy Beane has built an organization that competes with (and usually beats!) teams spending four and five times as much on payroll puts Billy Beane in pretty exclusive company. I suppose it all depends on how you define genius.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Last night I was driving back from Fresno (Target training) and a song came on and I realized, "This adventure, it was never about me, it was You" was true. That my life is is not about me, it's about God. And I didn't understand it. I couldn't figure out why or how. I turned off the music and drove the next hour in silence, talking with God. Asking, "So if you're there now... explain this to me. Beyond the cliche 'God made everything so it's about him.' Beyond the standard Christian answers."

And it took a while, but eventually He brought to mind the verse, "You are not your own, you were bought with a price." (I just had to look it up exactly to find it was 1 Cor 6.) But I realized it was true. If Christ bought me with his blood, if he ransomed my life from eternal damnation, then "technically" he owns my life here on earth too. But I've got some sort of lease/rent on my body here on earth where I can choose whether or not to follow him and his words. Where I can choose to live out this salvation (yay for Duzik's Romans) or not.

The best analogy I could come up with was like how a lot of truck drivers don't own the trucks they drive, and they certainly don't own the products in their truck that they are transporting. They get directions from their dispatch where to take the product and when to get it there. They choose whether or not to follow these directions and their orders, cause they're still driving the truck themselves.

In the same way, we're still living in our own bodies and choose whether or not to follow God's directions. A lot of the time though, I think we fail at this. Could you imagine what the trucking industry would look like if more often then not the drivers didn't follow their directions? Maybe that's what's going on with our world and why everything is so messed up here on earth? Because no one follows God's directions? *shrugs*

I'm still trying to understand this. And this is a new feeling for me (lately). Because I haven't felt like God has been speaking much to me lately. It could change my life... this realization that my life's adventure is not about me but it's about God. Now I'm present with choices. Do I want to follow this new thread of thought down the rabbit hole and see where it takes me? If I do follow thought thread, do I choose to act on the conclusions and reality that comes from it? And every day, ever hour, every minute... I have to choose to continue to follow these directions, this new way of life that the adventure is not about me, it's about God.

I'm mean, sure, I've said before, "I'll live my life for you God. I'll do anything for you." And I meant it. I think I still do. But even focusing my life on God, it has always been MY life. What should my life look like if I lived life as an adventure about God? I don't know. I hope I find out.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Finished! (But you want to know the rest of the story?)

You see the runner in the above picture? That's what I feel like. (Spoilers Warning!) This is going to be a long one, so if you just want the highlights... here they are: (1) I finished my RPM project today, (2) I got it mailed at 5:59 PM Pacific Time. (Spoilers Over!)

After spending most of the past three days furiously recording and mixing (mostly recording, not much mixing) I am nearly exhausted, but so glad to be done. I have gone through a mix of emotions, everything from anxiety, excitement, pride, humility, disappointment, and elation. Now I'm just glad the pressure is over (and that my butt was kicked by it) so that I can record on my own pace. I don't think I would have actually started were it not for the RPM Challenge. Now I can go back over the next few weeks/months and re-record all the tracks that I felt I could improve on... *counts*... uhh... yeah, that's all of them.

But that's okay. I wanted to create a raw, unrefined album for this project... and with the time that I had, that's what I got. I didn't have any choice in the matter. Ehh, there's always next year. Here are the details on the album. Take copious notes so that your ID3 tags are correct. I wouldn't want to be miscounted on

Artist: Bradley James
Title: Acoustically Magic HP
  1. From You
  2. Passion
  3. Can We Dance
  4. Redemption
  5. Wise Men Still Seek Him (When I See You)
  6. As The Days Go By
  7. Jane
  8. Lullaby
  9. Noah An Dah Flood (A White Boi Rap)
I didn't actually write any of these songs during this February, as most of them have been in development over the past 4-6 years. "Passion" and "Noah An Dah Flood" got the most work as "new(ish)" creations. I worked the hardest on "Passion", just working on getting the music how I wanted and creating space for the song to grow as it is re-recorded into an electric song. But I'm getting ahead of myself. If I'm going to tell a story, I should start at the beginning.

January 2007, I saw a post on Slashdot about RPM Challenge, a personal challenge to get off your duff and record an album in the 28 days of February. No excuses. Just do it. I tried. I failed. I didn't record a single track. Rather than making excuses due to my 30 unit course load at Life Pacific College, or worship pastoring at Country Life Church, or trying to maintain some semblence of a social life... who am I kidding? Those are darn good reasons... but I still left with an unfulfilled feeling.

January 2008 rolls around. I'm getting excited. A chance to redeem myself! And not to mention record all those wonderful song ideas that have been kicking around in my head, my notebooks, and my hard drives. I was determined to try to make due with what I had, rather than go out and spend a bunch of money on equipment I may never use again. At this time I voiced my interest on the RPM boards in the possibility of putting down a rap/hip-hop track. I got a ton of awesome suggestions, the best of which I found to be Hydrogen and Hammerhead. Hydrogen scores points for the slick interface, options and configurability. Hammerhead scores points for fun, simplicity and its ability to "just work" (tm).

Working 3-11 PM at the hotel had begun to turn me into something of an insommniac, so on days that I worked I usually ended up sleeping in until noon, which basically rendered my day fruitless for all intents and purposes. I was resigned to working on the project on my two days off each week.

Week one saw me restring my guitar and mostly get out the material and look at it a bit. I went down to Guitar Center to find out what was available as far as equipment goes and ended up just buying strings.

Week two was my first attempt to actually record with what I had... and it was frustrating beyond belief. I have an Audigy Pro soundcard and an old mic I swiped from a computer monitor 3-4 years ago. After having worked with real equipment at college, I could not stand the hum/buzz that was coming from my computer. I couldn't take how easily the microphone peaked even at normal vocal levels. I knew that next week I would have to get back to Guitar Center and buy the equipment I was looking at.

Week three I took the plunge. I bought a very nice condenser mic (Sterling ST55), a USB audio interface (M-Audio Fast Track Pro), a mic cable and a boom stand. The only thing I didn't buy was a pop filter, as that would have run me $50 and I wanted to check out alternatives first. I got home and was all excited to set up shop and try it out... only to find I could not connect my microphone to my boom stand. Fail. Epic Fail Brad.

Of course... I realized the next morning (after stressing all night about having bought the wrong mic? the wrong stand? wasted money because of no returns? etc?) that I just had to take out the metal adapter on the connector and it fit perfectly. How lame. Whatever. It worked now. So I spent the next few hours trying out various configurations of microphone, 1/4" line in and guitar and it sounded GREAT! Even my pop filter fashioned out of a coat hanger, nylons and one of this mini american flag sticks was going to work! I was so excited. I was going to record. Except I ran out of time...

Week four. This is it. The last stand. February 28. I had nothing down, and everything (10 tracks or 35 minutes of material) to go. I set to work like Rambo... with a vengence. I started with some songs I was less familiar with. "From You" and "Can We Dance?" (I'll save the stories for a later entry, lucky you... something to look forward too. :) I sent one to Tim and he LOVED it. He called me up and was like... "LISTEN BRAD! LISTEN TO THIS!!! I LOVE YOUR SONG THIS MUCH!!!" And then he played me one of the sickest guitar leads I'd ever heard. Seriously. I'm going to get him to record it for me for "Can We Dance?" when I fill it in with electric stuff.

February 29. I worked and worked, recording scratch tracks for guitar for the rest of the songs. And would you believe it... I came up short. I only had 27:30 and 6 songs. I still needed 8:30. Where was I going to get that from? I had an idea... but I was scared. I went to bed without finishing the vocals on any of those tracks.

March 1. Technically, today doesn't count. Everything was supposed to be finished and I'm just supposed to mail it off today. I voted extenuating circumstances on myself and cut myself some slack. I then used it to tie the aforemention pop filter/nylon-coathanger-flagpole to the boom stand because it kept falling off. Then I realized that I had a perfect clamp in an unused capo! Dun duh DAHHH! Captian Random to the Rescue!

My guitar scratch tracks became the final tracks (under the auspices of "raw, uncut, real"... it works, yeah? At least that's what I keep telling myself). My vocals got one take on most songs. Audacity 1.3.4 reminded me again why it is beta as it kept crashing in the middle of recording "Jane". Looking at the clock I realized I wasn't even going to come close to finishing. So I called into work.

How lame is that? I mean... here I am, my last day at a job I've worked at for six months, which I've never missed even once, and I call in... "Hey, would you hate me if I asked you to work the full shift today instead of just the half shift?" "No, of course not Brad, I could never hate you..." (See, the key is in the way you phrase the question. It's all in the asking. ;) "...why, what's going on?" "Well, I'm not sick, so if you can't do it, it's fine and I'll come into work, it's not really a big deal... but I've just got this project that I'm working on and I really want to get it done and in the mail today." "Oh, okay... well that's fine." "Sweet, thank you so much. :)" (She could hear my smiley emoticon on the other line, I'm sure of it.)

So I kept working. And when I had scratch vocals (which again, became the real vocals... I'm not "One Take Bradley" because I'm good) I still had the same dilemma as last night... too short. Not enough material. So I pulled out an older song that I'd written that I'd stashed away four years ago until my musical and vocal skills had progressed enough to do it justice (or until I could sell it to Kutless to do. This was before they had sold out to CCM.) "Passion" is a very emotional song and the music and performance had to be just right. Well, I guess today was that day. I actually spent most of the day on that song, and as excited as I am that I was able to "bring it to life" (Mwuhahahaa!!!), I'm more excited for what it has the potential to become. I seriously think it could be REALLY good. Really.

But one song wasn't going to take me to 35 minutes. No. Something even more drastic was necessary. I decided to follow through on my threat... erm... idea... to do a rap/hip-hop song. Hammerhead is my new best friend. It was soooooo easy to upload the "human beatbox" sound bank, click random parts of the measure and BAM! New hip-hop groove created. I'm sure there's a way to have it alternate grooves, but I didn't have the time to play with it that much and one was good enough for my purposes. So I pulled out an old rap I'd written (again, saving the story... hahahahaha) and practiced it... and practiced it... and practiced some more. You know, I've decided to give rappers some more credit. I mean, maybe it's cause I'm white... but that was actually harder for me to do than most songs that I've sung. Anyway, it was worth a laugh, an worth the last two minutes that I needed to meet the 35 minute quota.

Friday, February 29, 2008

RPM Challenge

Just one day left to complete my project for RPM Challenge. So far I have two songs mostly done, "From You" and "Can We Dance?". I still have a bit of mixing to do on them, but I probably won't mess with them much since I'm going for a more raw acoustic feel, rather than a fully polished sound. I'll probably take these tracks as practice for doing the real thing and then have a "real" CD later. But at least I'll have something. :)

Between these two songs I have 7:30 of recorded material. Which means that I have 27:30 of material that I still need to record. Or 8 songs. Just like with cars parts failing... it's whichever one comes first. Ha... so there. :)

I don't know why I said that. Which means it's time for me to get back to recording and mixing. Later y'all!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

One More Thing

How could I have forgotten this? It kind of falls under the same category as Random one, but it's important enough to highlight it on it's own.

I laugh. A lot. I smile, giggle, chuckle, lol, belly laugh, rofl and grin more often than I don't. I'm not sure if there's much of an explanation for this one though. The only thing I can think of is that I found laughing to be easier and less work than doing crunches every night.

So that would mean I laugh because I'm lazy? Lol...

Who Am I?

Well, I've done LiveJournal, Xanga, Myspace and Facebook... I figured I might as well give Blogger a shot too. I think I'll start out with a list of things that tend to define who I am, and then over time fill in that list with blog posts as "real life" gets slow and/or boring. Think of this as a table of contents to who I am. Of course, that is provided this whole "regular blogging" thing sticks.

  1. Name: BarlowBrad. Barlow is an obvious reference to the "Barlowgirl" song by Superchick, only I was that before the song was written. Yeah, I'll need to explain that later.
  2. Real Christian. I believe in God, Jesus, and the Foursquare Doctrine pretty much defines my beliefs, yet there is more. I'm afraid to admit my questions, failures, doubts and struggles, yet the best that I'm able I do it anyway. There is so much that I don't know.
  3. Nerd. I take that as a compliment.
  4. Athlete. I mean that in the loosest sense of the term in that I enjoy doing athletic things. Baseball ranks at the top. Oakland A's too.
  5. Musician. I write, play and listen to music. I'm an acoustic guitarist first, but I dabble in electric guitar, bass, drums and piano. Music is one of the ways I both communicate with God and worship Him.
  6. Dreams. I have them. Big ones. Like you'd think I'm full of myself if I told you them. Sometimes I am, but more I just know that God's gifted me and wants to use me to do immensely huge things
  7. People. I love them.
  8. Computers. I enjoy keeping up with the current trends, hardware, software, Open Source and gaming.
  9. Night. I tend to come alive at night, hence this post at 1:46 AM. I love the sun and I love California weather, but I just hate lying in bed waiting to fall asleep... so I wear myself out until I can fall asleep when my head hits the pillow.
  10. Deep and/or random. Just when you think you know me... I'll surprise you. They really don't know my rock and roll.
I think that's about it for now.