Tag Archives: music ministry

Toward a New Normal

To those who faithfully or even occasionally visit this page, thank you.

This is less a “Why I haven’t been posting” blog and more of an update on my personal life for those who value that sort of thing.

I’ve spent some time juggling and reevaluating where all my efforts are going, so I thought I should post an update to projects I’m involved in and commitments I am pursuing, as so much of my life is currently in flux. Most of these changes come from one primary cause:

In the next three months, I will retire from active duty in the United States Air Force after 24 years of service. 

All the chaos of the ever-changing flight schedule with my squadron won’t be a factor anymore. I’ll have a relative stability to my future planning that I haven’t known for a long time. My wife jokes that every appointment or get-together we plan has an asterisk next to it, with the caveat “unless the flight schedule changes.” That will be a thing of the past… and I don’t think I’ll miss that part at all.

We finally get to focus more on family matters. While I’ve had it pretty good as far as not having to deploy repeatedly for months or years, I’m excited to think I can be around more for the time and activities my wife and children desire.

Right now, I have a couple job opportunities that will enable me to continue supporting my military friends and squadron family in some capacity, which thrills me. I’ve seen our squadron crush a demanding and ever-changing mission even when we ramped up to more than double our usual workload. The number of operational sorties is never going to decrease, so any way that I can help keep some aspect of squadron life a little more together is exciting to me.

Meanwhile (and starting next week), I will be more involved in music ministry than I have been in the last ten years. While I love filling in and helping out at local church services or gatherings, I haven’t found a reliable, recurring need, until a month ago, when an opportunity dropped into my inbox out of the blue.

I’ll be performing every week as a contracted musician for the Contemporary Worship Service on Kadena, and while I’m excited and passionate about that, it comes with a learning curve as I learn to work with the Choir Director and look for ways to fulfill the chaplain’s vision for a service that is on a restricting schedule (sandwiched between Catholic masses).

I’m excited about this because having an upcoming worship service in mind on a regular basis usually keeps my attention and thoughts on grace and the Gospel more than the garbage and glitz that beckon from everywhere else in life.

Additionally, the band is full of amazing talents both on vocals and on their chosen instruments, so I’m eager to jam with old friends once more.

In the writing world, I have a number of friends who routinely ask me about Book Two of my fantasy novels, and I don’t want to keep letting them down. I also have a number of projects incubating in OneDrive files and Scrivener folders into which I would love to invest time and effort.

The local writing group has really become that critique group I always wanted, with a core group of four writers sharing chapters every other week.

NaNoWriMo 2018 is rapidly approaching, and that has been a fantastic experience for me every year I’ve done it. I will continue working as a Municipal Liaison for Japan – specifically Okinawa. While I don’t know how much of a chance I’ll have at cracking 50,000 words in the month of November, I will be able to facilitate and support regular meetings and ‘Come Write In’ events for those who can pour words onto the page.

Additionally, infrequent but recurring events like BlogBattle give me a chance to write something disconnected from bigger projects, so I’ll probably continue posting Grant & Teagan stories once a month at a minimum.

My experience with tabletop roleplaying games has shown me that it’s a wonderful opportunity to gather friends around a table for laughs, snacks, excitement, and fun. I’ve got a growing list of co-workers and friends who express interest in an ongoing campaign, but I have barely been able to keep the one group I’m running going.  On top of that, I have a few settings and two or three systems I really want to run. (BattleTech… D&D 5E Curse of Strahd… those 5E Lord of the Rings setting books…)

Once my schedule finds smooth air and level flight, I’m looking forward to arranging some gaming groups where I can commit to bringing my best to the table.

Maybe I can finally work out some opportunities to be a player as well. There’s nothing like being a Storyteller or Dungeon Master (or whatever your chosen system calls that role)… but it’s nice to be on the other side of the screen sometimes and react to the game without knowing what’s lurking beyond the next fork in the road.

In other words, all of this mess of conflicting interests and passions will still be simmering in the crock pot of my life, but the sliders for various activities and priorities are going to shift a lot in ways I don’t fully know just yet. All of this adds up to a lot of reasons to say, “No, sorry” to things I might otherwise enjoy or participate in, especially in the short-term.

I appreciate your thoughts, encouragement, friendship, prayers, and any other support you might offer during this period of instability.

Rich Mullins Was Aptly Named

A few days ago (before I went on this short work trip away from home), my wife and I finally watched Ragamuffin – the life story of Rich Mullins’ ministry and struggles fitting in to the Christian music industry.

She pointed out that Rich Mullins’ name is appropriate: a guy who’s always mulling over the deep and rich things of God’s love, the practical expressions of it that get lost in religious structures and routines.

I know as a newly-recommitted Christian, Rich Mullins’ songs challenged me and pushed me to go farther and deeper in my faith, to be authentic and to think about what it really meant to pursue Christ.

For days since watching the film, I’ve had one of my favorites of his songs stuck in my head: If I Stand.

The chorus really captures a simple passion that it would all be about Him and not about me:

If I stand, let me stand on the promise that You will pull me through

And if I can’t, let me fall on the grace that first brought me to You

If I sing, let me sing for the joy that has born in me these songs

And if I weep, let it be as a man who is longing for his home.

In the verses, he points out how the “stuff of earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things.” As I write this, I just finished reading through Psalm 4, which includes the phrase, “How long will you love what is worthless?” (v.2)

I love a lot of arguably worthless pursuits. Or I’ll say I engage in a lot of pursuits of debatable value. I can make a case for the “good” that may come out of them. But it rings hollow.

Songs like “If I Stand” refocus me and get me centered back on Christ. But that’s just one of the awesome songs Rich wrote, just one topic on which it felt like he spoke and sang directly to my soul. So for a while I’m going to post a song a week, starting Wednesday, and briefly share my thoughts or why the song means so much to me.

Here’s If I Stand, recorded live. (I had to see him actually playing piano, because I don’t want to believe he can intentionally hit all those keys. He also makes a mistake in this, so you know he’s human.)