Monday, October 25, 2010

I missed Church this Sunday...

I didn't play at church last Sunday morning...usually on Saturdays and Sundays you can catch me playing at the church that has become my church home FBCI in Arvada Colo....This past Sunday was different. I was up at my Brothers house wanting to get out for awhile at night like I usually do (musician standard time) So I look for Wifi Coffee shops or maybe a movie.
I had just seen "Secretariat" which is a great film by the way and was going to see it again when I turned right and happened to see a church just starting it's service.
It was called "Journey" I believe, and so I pulled in not knowing anybody and walked into the foyer asking a young man, "where is the service being held?" He very cordially pointed me around a corner and I heard it.
On the video screen was the pastor talking about "a million miles in a thousand years" By Donald Miller. This book is significant to me because my former band mate, Steve Taylor, is one of the characters in the book and I actually met Donald Miller last summer at a fund raiser I was running a Vid. Cam for S.T. at in Denver, and the two of them spend a lot of the first part of the book talking about his relationship with Steve and Ben Pearson writing the screenplay for "Blue Like Jazz."
I call them God moments, when I know without a doubt that God is talking to me crazy. But I did NOT invent the internet.

Steve and I go all the way back to high school where we played in Jazz Band together in, uh...1976. It's just kinda weird how our relationship has weaved in and out, wait, did I say In-n-out? How 'bout a double double with cheese and those fresh cut Fries...never mind. Where was I? Oh yeah, The pastor is talking about the book and weaving it into Esther from the Bible. You see Esther had a lot of conflict to deal with. She was the Queen to Xerxes and back then if you ticked off the King you could be in a lot of trouble, as in, losing your head kind of trouble....enough about feminism....
So Esther figures out that This guy Haman is a bad dude, a Jew hater, kinda like Hitler only older, and he was also one of the Kings close advisers. That's bad for Esther because she's Jewish, and Haman convinces the King to annihilate all the Jews because he's like Hitler, only older.
So you may ask what does this have to do with Donald Miller and my Former Band mate? Well, In "A million Miles in a thousand Years" Donald and Steve keep talking about "Conflict" a lot.
In fact, as they're writing the screen play, a Teacher of screenwriting tells them that you have to put your Characters through Conflict, and Severe Testing. Because nobody wants to see a movie that has all nice people that are always nice to all other nice people all the nice time. Instead, great stories are about conflict and what happens to resolve that conflict. Sort of like Esther, who has to inform the King (her husband) that this guy Haman is deceiving his highness and is one slippery Jew hating slime ball.
Now just telling the king and approaching him in the wrong way can get her killed so she uses her charm and gets the King to agree to a few dinner parties where She exposes this troglodyte Haman and the Jewish people get can guess what happens to Haman and it's not good...
So all this just to point out that if you miss Church one Sunday (Something I don't recommend BTW), go check out some place you've never checked out before and see if God talks to you too.
You May be surprised!

Remember, I'm just the Sax Player...:) Copyright, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A "Tune poem" for Blue Like Jazz

Holy "Meltdown!" "Clone" man! "Blue Like Jazz" the Movie was "On the Fritz" and we were thinking "It's Harder to believe than not to" but "I predict" the movie will not fail due to fans saying "Over my dead body" and "You Don't owe me nothing" but it's a "Written Guarantee" they will get cool freebies anyway.

The Director and friends were getting a "Bad Rap" and I'm sure he was thinking "Am I in Sync?" as the months and years went by. We were warming up to sing "Since I gave up hope I feel a lot Better" and wondering if "Jesus is for Losers", but thanks to the many fans of "Blue Like Jazz the Movie" has been given a "Second Chance" and the "Finish Line" is in sight!

However "I just wanna know" "If it all comes true" and there's a "Cash Cow" in hand that we don't get "Smug" just yet, 'cause the last thing we want is to be "Guilty by Association" to a mediocre movie or we'll be comitting "Murder in the Big House" in a rage of "Violent Blue" and spinning records at "This Disco" instead of playing "Blue Like Jazz the Sequel", a "Million Miles in a Thousand Years". But I'm confident this will not be our fate, and I'll even swear on "Jim Morrison's Grave" that this will be an amazing life changing film because everyone involved is a "Principled Man" and "It's a personal thing" to all of us!

Remember...I'm just the Sax Player. Copyright, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Blue Like Jazz the Movie" Rises from the dead! (and other miracles)

I have a personal interest in the "Saving" of "Blue Like Jazz" the Movie....I was in a grocery store in Denver in 2007 and the title caught my interest. I'm a musician, specifically a professional Sax player so when I saw the book "Blue Like Jazz" in the table by the sodas and chips I grabbed it. It didn't hurt that it was also on sale...
And like millions of others that read the book, it captivated me. The whole story of Don and his christian college cohorts plotting how they were going to "reach out" to their peers at a very liberal college was intriguing.
Just the audacity of putting a "Confession Booth" in the middle of a pagan festival at their college was brilliant, but then reading on that they (the christians) would be doing the confessing was fascinating. I was caught up.

About a year later I was chatting with my longtime friend Steve Taylor who lives in Nashville and whom I used to travel around the country playing christian rock and roll with, and he was talking about writing a screen play for a book called "Blue Like Jazz". I was floored... My ex classmate from Northglenn High School, whom I used to ditch theory class with was going to direct and write the screenplay for a book I and millions of other people loved!
So, about every few months Steve would call me just to see how things were going because I was going through some serious life changes and "stuff", and I would usually ask..."Uh, how's the "Blue like Jazz" Movie coming along? and for months, which turned into years, Steve would say, "we're still raising the money", to which I would say, "how much do you need to raise?" and He would say..."about 1.5 million". "Oh, O.K. I'll pray about it" would be my reply, and then we wouldn't talk for another few weeks.

In the summer of '09 (No, not a remake) Steve called me and asked if I wanted to run a video camera for a cool fund raising event in Denver for some well to do really nice people that loved the book too, and I said "Ya, that sounds fun!" so I set up my little vid cam and shot video of some Denver Bronco type people, the ex Governor of Colorado, and Don Miller whom I got to meet! Wow! how cool was that! I got to meet the author of BLJ and film him, Steve, the lead Actor guy that would play Don in the movie! and some pool tables....
Fast forward to Sept. 2010 and I chatted with Steve and asked my usual "So how's the movie funding going?" and Steve said "Well, we're going to use this thing called Kick Starter to raise funds, and as usual I asked"How much?". "$125,000 in about 25 days" said He, To which I replied, "Where are the t-shirts?, I would have bought a t-shirt a year ago" I said in exasperation.
Now, on October 5th, 2010, Fans of "Blue Like Jazz the Movie", (including myself) have donated over $100,000 in about 9 days...
I, along with millions of generous BLJ fans are "Jazzed". Sorry, couldn't resist.

Remember, I'm just the Sax Player

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What the "Gospel of social justice" means or, if you don't like my Marxist theology I'm going to call you a racist.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, "The gospel of social justice", or what many call "Liberation Theology".
I've heard noise about "Social Justice" quite a bit recently mostly I think because we have a president that was a community organizer in Chicago before he became a Senator, and those that elected him president believe in the same type of "Gospel" that the presidents former pastor of decades Jeremiah Wright preaches.
"Liberation Theology" is a thelogical belief that we, as christians must work to free the poor, the oppressed, the underpriveledged, and anyone that claims to be disadvantaged or in an oppressed minority to rise up and resist, even to the point of using violence if necessary to set the captives free.
Any Christian worth his "salt" (sorry), believes that oppressed groups or the widow and orphan should be helped and brought closer to mainstream society's economic level.
Where most evangelical christians disagree with those who preach "social justice" is how we lift up the poor and disadvantaged. Liberation Theologians like Jeremiah Wright and possibly his former congregant, our current president, think that the "Game" is fixed so that the disadvantaged cannot rise up to the same economic level as mainstream America and so we must realign the social construct to help the disadvantaged.
Another way of putting this is "Wealth distribution", changing the game so that in the liberation theologians way of doing things wealth is taken from the wealthier members of society, large corporations, those that have done well in business or investing and redistribute the wealth to even things out some. The problem with this line of theological thinking is that in redistributing wealth you start taking freedoms away from people, freedom to start a business because there's too many taxes, freedom to raise capital because you know that the govt. looks down on such entrepernurial thinking, freedom to disagree with those that redistribute wealth (government) because they are powerful.
And who is to decide how the wealth is redistributed?, who makes those decisions?, surely it's not the voting population but an elite group of people in the government and thus you have classic Marxism, or communism.
A musician friend of mine started debating with me on a social networking site saying that "Well, the christian thing to do is to help the poor, and if I'm guilty of that, so be it". My argument was not that we should not help the poor, but how we do that. My friend believes like many marxist Liberation theologians that we must redistribute wealth through taxes on the middle class and wealthy and fund programs for the poor and needy. I believe that we definitely need to help the poor and needy but I choose to do it by donating through charities of my choosing, playing music for an inner city ministry (most of the time for no pay), and donating time and money in an unseen way ( do not do your works before men as the religious hypocrites do). This debate with my musician friend brought to the surface the difference between Americans that seek to help the widow and orphan, but are miles apart about how to do it.
In the words of one of my favorite columnists, Thomas Sowell. "Liberals have no problem with people that violate the standards of the society at large, but crack down on those that dare to violate liberals own inklings and fetishes". In other words, people that like to redistribute wealth are usually uber control freaks that don't like it that some have acheived success through hard work.
Remember, I'm just the sax player...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Using Social Media to reach the unreachable in a "Facebook" age...Or how to use Facebook and twitter for the church in a post christian Era.

People have tried to get me to shut up on, really. I've had well meaning christians tell me, "Quiet down bro, turn it down a notch, Facebook isn't the medium for airing your social, political, religious views"
Bunk...and I'll tell you why.
I began posting scriptures straight out of the bible on Facebook about a year ago, (Late 2009). Because of that I've had people call me "Jesus Boy", and a whole plethora of more unpleasant names in Facebook right in front of everyone to see.
I know I'm having an impact on FB Twitter because a friend of mine after 15 years of being an atheist began communicating with me on FB asking me questions about scripture, Faith, and that he wanted to believe but wasn't quite sure how. So I began a dialog with (Grady, not his real name), and he asked me questions about sax playing, (he was a sax player at one time), and was a big fan of the Christian Rock Band I used to play in which was Steve Taylor and Some Band back in the 80's.
You see, Grady wanted to believe but had bought into the worlds lie that Jesus, God, and christians were just a way for men to make themselves feel better and ease their guilt. Grady kept telling me as we debated back and forth "Stay with me, I really want to believe", so I did just that.
After about two months of debating, arguing, throwing scriptures back and forth, (Grady knew the bible well), He started coming around and now says he's a believing Christian! Wow! I never thought I'd lead someone to Jesus Christ on Facebook but there it is! live and in Living color.
Back to my well intentioned friends that try to get me to "pipe down" the Rhetoric as they call it, God can use anything, even Facebook or Twitter to reach those that will never step foot in a church because they were given a horrible church upbringing, maybe had parents that were well meaning but a bit authoritarian about church, or perhaps had seen hypocritical examples of Christians early on. But Thanks be to God through His Son Jesus that we can use Facebook, Myspace, Twitter to reach those people that may never see the Gospel any other way. What a fantastic tool!
I have to say that Humor interjected everyday as well as scriptures, viewpoints, and since I'm a Musician, I post a lot of music videos and pictures from recent performances which draw people in that have the same likes I do. I also like to use the personal touch posting events In my daily life in a humorus way so as to lighten things up a bit and let people see that I'm a real person not some right wing untouchable person that can't relate to the human experience. I let people see my day to day struggles and frailties as well.
But Thank God for Facebook and Twitter and Youtube that can be used to reach the unreachable with the good news!
And , as always, remember, I'm just the Sax Player. Signing off. D.T.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

So I find this law at work, when I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

So I find this law at work, when I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work in my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ! Rom. 7, 21-25

This verse is encouraging to me. Here we have the Apostle Paul, the greatest evangelist of all time admitting that he has the same struggle with sin that I do. What a wretched man that I am..! Mind boggling...

There's a Van Morrison song called "Oh I'm tired Joey boy" that describes a lot of what I feel as a musician with high mountaintops one year, and deep dark valleys the next..

"Ambition will take you

Ride you too far

Conservatism bring you

To boredom once more"

This little verse caught my ear the first time I heard it because it says exactly what my life as a musician has been for decades. Following my ambition to be someone, to make my mark, and let people see my God given talent and when I follow that to an extreme it sometimes has gotten me into trouble. And then I begin to go to the other extreme by going conservative, shutting off the "Me" as it were, completely to the point that I pretty much lost my identity as a musician and as a person.

When I look at the life of Jesus it's different than my own experience. I want to be like Christ, the teacher, the wise master, the miracle worker, the compassionate healer. And also the courageous Christ. The Righteous fiery Jesus that threw out the money changers, the Jesus that confronted the self righteous Pharisees and healed on the Sabbath. Here's the only human in history that lived a perfect sinless life. No self ambition, always able to set the perfect example. Always saying and doing the exact right thing. But I don't come anywhere near what Jesus was like.

I've had a lot of loss the last year. Lost my grandma, lost relationships, lost my job of 12 years, and I almost lost my life in a car accident and I'm still recovering from that. I'm not saying these things because I want sympathy but because at the same time I've seen God work in some amazing ways. My two boys were recently baptized and confessed Jesus as their Lord and savior. I've been praying for that for years. And the fact that I'm writing this right now is a testament of God's grace and power.

Maybe you've been going through a loss year as well, maybe you've made some mistakes and maybe bad things have happened to you that you had nothing to do with. And yet we can be confident that in this body of flesh that carries with it sin and death Jesus is working through us. Thanks be to God through his Son Jesus Christ!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Gospel According to Comedy Central

The Gospel According to Comedy Central

Last week Comedy central, the Network that regularly depicts Jesus as a "Regular Guy" decided to censor an episode of South Park because it showed the Islamic Prophet Muhammed in a bear suit.
The creators of South Park were none too happy according to reports on media outlets but have to toe the line if they want to keep their jobs (and maybe their heads).
Comedy central decided to censor the show because of threats and intimidation from Islamic groups
deciding perhaps it's better to be PC than deal with people that like to intimidate anyone that does not bow to their way of thinking.
This sets a dangerous precedent in "The Land of the free, and home of the Brave" because if a national cable television cartoon network can be intimidated into censoring a cartoon what does that mean for average Americans that might speak their minds on Islam or anything else so controversial like you and me?
I would have some sympathy for Comedy Central except for a couple of shows they produce like "South Park" that regularly depict Jesus, whom the majority of Americans believe is their God, as a joke or in the case of a brand new show CC is contemplating producing called "JC" that will depict Jesus as a father who lives under the shadow of his father's giant reputation and sits around all day playing video games ignoring his son.
I don't hear any church going american Christians ranting angrily, protesting Comedy Central for blaspheming their prophet, and in fact many of my believing friends watch these shows, (some in secret). And here is the point of this whole meandering mass of media is that if you make fun of Jesus in a cartoon show, some Christians might get irritated, maybe even write a blog about it. But if you make a funny, satirical show depicting Muhammed in a bear suit making fun of sacred cows, you will get censored by your network, and if you're not careful. you might get your head cut off. Just ask Theo Van Gogh.
Believers of Christianity have to decide if we will bow to pressure like Comedy Central just did, or stand up and speak up while we still have the opportunity to do so.
Remember, I'm just the sax player.

Friday, April 30, 2010

There's something going on in this Country of ours and by something I don't mean the Yankees will be in the running for the ALCS again or American Idol is really boring this year.
No I'm talking about an groundswell of righteous anger coming from people that are fed up with the way things are run and how their lives are going recently, myself included.
For years through the nineties things were humming along quite nicely, we were raising our families, going about our business, the economy was growing and expanding, housing prices were
going up every year, and then I remember my wake up call. It was Columbine H.S.
I remember sitting there in my parents old house watching the t.v. praying for those kids and teachers hoping they all got out or were safe in a locked room. The Church I played saxophone at was not far from Columbine and some of those kids and parents were members.
As the horrific events of that April day in 1999 unfolded I resolved that somehow I would get involved. This tragedy would not be for nothing and I personally would get involved with young kids and with my own kids education and well being so I took a part time band teacher job at a charter school in the Denver area.
For five very cool, rewarding, and frustrating (at times) years I taught scales, arpeggios, and Movie Theme songs to 4th through 8th graders. I took minivans packed with budding musicians to jazz band festivals, Core Knowledge Music Festivals, and Amusement parks at the end of the school year.
At the same time I was playing professional saxophone for about 80-90 paid performances a year and things were humming along nicely and then another wake up call. In 2001 I watched along with everyone else, first one world trade center tower hit with an airplane, and then another building hit and the America I grew up in suddenly became a different place. A more fearful, less confident place.
We were vulnerable, We could be attacked by radical fanatics who thought by killing innocent people on airliners and office buildings they would go to heaven with virgins.
Now as my oldest child gets ready to graduate from a suburban h.s. next year and by some miracle gets into college I realize that his place in the world is less safe than mine was. Less innocent, and not as forgiving a time as mine was. We are still involved in a war 9 years later, the economy is still in a deep recession, (in spite of billion dollar bank, car company bailouts), and it's politics as usual in spite of who is in the white House. Politicians are still in the pockets of Goldman Sachs, or some other large banking firm whether anyone wants to believe it or not, and most of us are still suffering from a horrible housing market and 10 percent unemployment.
Some will say "You don't have the right to criticize the government", and several million of us are saying, "Oh yes we do, it's guaranteed in the Bill of Rights". And that's what this country was built on. What many will find out this coming midterm elections that the Government serves the People, not the other way around.

Remember....I'm just the Sax Player, and that's my first Blog.