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Cold War Kids // Music Monday


Every once in awhile I scroll through my iTunes artists or songs, I might even get crazy and shuffle! I have A LOT of music on my computer, stuff I never ever listen to you. (tempted to brag of how many hours of music or how many songs I have on my computer but I’ll hold back. You probably have more then me anyway.) I do need to figure out a good way to get it all off my computer but still have access to it. Any ideas? I subscribed to the iTunes Match but to be honest, I’m not a huge fan, I haven’t found it super helpful and it doesn’t actually get the music off my hard drive. So I have many gigs of unlistened to music on my computer that I can’t bring myself to delete. Oh no, I’m a hoarder! ;-)

With all that said, the other day I ran across the Cold War Kids. SO GOOD!!! I had kinda forgot about them, it’s probably been 2 years since I’ve listened. I don’t really listen to rock and roll all that much! I’m more of the singer songwriter type these days but for the last week or so they been on a heavy rotation. They have some really great tunes!

Hang Me Up To Dry is one of their more popular songs. One of my favorites. It’s really good. Here’s a video…
[ I wanted to post a live video of this song because they are a really great live band! I was able to see them with my friend Brad Strouse who works in the music industry in Nashville. He was like, “you’ve got to check these guys out and I have an extra ticket.” DONE! He was right, they put on an amazing live show. Tons of energy, musically the album totally transfers to their live show (can’t say that about many great bands ) and in general they just draw you in and give you a great experience. But I couldn’t find any great video on youtube that show this so here the “official music video” of the song…

They have some really great music, their album Robbers and Cowards is the best! In my opinion.
Here are some of my favorites songs…

Hospital Beds
We Used Vacation
Royal Blue
Mine is Yours

You can check them out on spotify but add them to your playlist however!

A couple more video’s worth a watch…

Louder Than Ever

Miracle Mile



RHYTHM :: Life, Love and blogging…


I had an amazing time at camp this past week! Our theme was RHYTHM and I look forward to sharing more about that with you! I had a few people at camp ask me about my blog… WHAT?!?!  I didn’t think anybody even read this thing. I’ve been trying to hit my blog once a week for the past few months. Don’t look back to far, you’ll see my failure!  But i’m gonna keep trying to hit this about once a week. Some times it will be more and sometime I might even miss a week (don’t give up on me — i’m giving you opportunity to practice Christian love, patience and persistence.)  ;-)

I’ll be blogging on ministry, music, life and other thoughts and pondering.
I have a couple writing projects that i’m working on and starting to work on. I’d love to run some of that by you!

Basically i’m always thinking, working and creating.
The more voices, the better the conversation! So let me know what you think.

The next few post will about about camp. And some of the things I shared there. Our these was RHYTHM. So much fun!!!

Stay tuned for the conversation! I’m loving it!!!



Summer Camp & My Philosophy (and a few memories)


For the past 14 years I’ve been speaking at summer camps! Haven’t missed a summer, at least 1 camp for the past 14 years, WOW! And for a good stretch of that time I was speaking at 5, 6, 7 — I think my record was speaking 8 camps in a summer!

I remember one summer having an open week and as I was traveling from New York back to Nashville for my week off when I received a call from a fellow camp speaker and friend, “Erik, I’ve got car problems. Can you go to West Virginia this week and speak a camp for me?” I was on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. My answer, “HECK YEA!” I turned around and headed to West Virginia for an amazing week of camp.


I’ve grown over the years in how I understand camp and how I see my role at a camp when I’m the speaker / camp pastor. I understand the importance of the role and believe it to be a sacred privilege to come along side youth pastors and camp programmers in the ministry of summer camp. And the amazing opportunity to connect with students, if even for only a week, on their spiritual journey is absolutely trilling!

I also feel like I understand this in a deeper or at least different way now that I’m also a youth pastor who takes students to camp. I understand a bit better the hopes and prayers of those youth pastors sitting next to their students whom they’ve loaded up and driven hundred of miles to camp. Youth pastor and volunteers who have taken time away from their families and are sleeping on poorly padded slabs of plywood and eating less then desirable food all with the hope that these students they love and are invested in will encounter God and be transformed to live their faith when they get home!


These days I speak at 1 or 2 camps in a summer. It’s perfect!

Life is busy. I’m a full-time youth pastor, which I love and is my ministry priority. I have a growing family, which is actually my highest ministry and priority. I’m writing books and blogs and dreaming about the future God has for my family and me.

Life is busy but I am so very thankful that I still get to do camp ministry as a speaker!

This summer I’m speaking at 1 camp. It’s only an hour from my house, which is awesome!
(Although I love traveling – which I don’t get to do much these days.)

I was emailing with the camp director the other day and was trying to communicate with him about my philosophy of camp and something like this is what came out…

“My philosophy of being a camp speaker / pastor is that I’m at the disposal of the director of the camp and the youth pastors of the camp. Whatever you need and however you can use me to make the camp experience what you are hoping for, I’ll do my best to deliver that! I don’t see myself as a hired gun who comes in with a prepackage set of messages that may or may not work for your camp. I’m crafting message specifically for you, your students and the experience you are trying to create, trusting with you that God will be encountered and transformation will be set in motion as we come along side God and what He is wanting to do! So let’s do it!”

That’s my heart!
I love it!
I can’t wait till next week!
It’s camp time!!!


As I write this blog I’m remembering some of my favorite camp experiences!
I’m thankful for these people and places! Thought I would share…

#1. Manville Nazarene Camp – NWIL Camp :: This has to be number 1 because it’s the camp I grew up at and it’s the place and the people who God used to draw me to himself. I remember getting the opportunity to be the camp speaker. I was probably 22 or so and in absolute awe that God would bring my life in such full circle. From being the little middle school student with no clue of who Jesus was to now being the speaker He was using to tell those squirly students of who He was and the good news of a relationship with him and the abundant life He was leading them into! WOW! So awesome!

(no order for the rest of the camps)

* Alaska Naz. Camp :: 2 weeks in Alaska, hanging with students, sharing Jesus and doing a lot of really cool experiential exercises in faith and growth. Bob Sugden, the camp director is a stud who really loves students and puts on a GREAT low key and transformational camp!

* Youth Front / KC Naz. Camp :: The Youth Front people are some of the coolest folks I know. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE what they are doing! They would probably be my highest recommendation if I were to asked by a youth pastor “where should I go to camp.” (With camp Illuminate & Bryant Underwood a close second, even though I haven’t spoke for Byrant.) Youthfront is doing some different kinds of things these days, still LOVE IT though. Micah Thomas and Mike King are some of those people who I really wish I could spend exponentially more time around!

* Edge Camp :: Bob Swan is probably one of the best youth workers I’ve ever crossed paths with! A veteran – lifer youth pastor! He puts on a RAD camp for sure!!!

* IL Naz. Camp :: Spoke at this camp many times! Have make many friends at this camp that I still keep in touch with! Amazing people like Jamie Toolen, Brad Grinnen, Todd Holman, Erin Murphy and more! I’ve also had the weirdest camp experience ever at this camp. That’s a story for another day ;-)

* Barefoot Republic Camp :: This camp has one of the coolest missions ever as they seek racial, economic and denominational reconciliation. I had an amazing week with them despite rooming with the loudest snorer I have ever encountered in my life! Tommy Rhodes is doing an amazing ministry here!

* Fuge Camp Belmont :: I don’t often get to hangout with the Baptists at camp but the handful of Fuge camps I’ve had the opportunity to speak at have been really great. They’ve all been mission camps, working and participating in God’s mission during the day and connecting your actions to God’s Word at night. Love that model! Jerod, Kyle Cravens, James Jackson — such great camp hearts and minds!

* Fuge Hawaii :: Hawaii — enough said! But it was also a great camp. Got to dig in with students in Bible studies and activity groups. Exhausting week but really great and did I mention it was in Hawaii!!! And Lori Mangum, Brad Puckett and Eric Vinson were amazing to do ministry with!

* NY Metro Naz. Camp :: Hanging and sharing at such a diverse camp was a really cool experience. And the pranks were EPIC! ;-) Lou Zambito and Darren Ojeda are amazing dude and the Morales crew are simply amazing people!!!

* Smithmills Camp :: I been to Smithmills a couple times, such a great family experience! A very primitive camp, open air tabernacle and all the trappings that remind one of the “good old days!” And really great people and the best seafood ever! Bill and Jayne Eklund and all their amazing student leaders! Amazing place, amazing people!

As I make this list I just realize i’ve had so many amazing camps experience and I can’t even remember them all! Chicago camp, So Cal Camp, Virginia Naz Camp, Ohio Camps and the list goes on! Thankful for all the people and places God has introduced me to!



Worship Music // Music Monday


My father-in-law asked me for some good worship music the other day. I sent him this little list with some links to check out these tunes on spotify (if you don’t have a spotify account you might need to sign up for a free account.) I thought I would share here as well! And I added a few video’s for good measure.
(some of these tunes have been featured on Music Monday already but that’s ok, all are really good and worth a REPEAT!)

Passion: Hymns Ancient and Modern

Spotify link :: Passion – Hymns Ancient And Modern

All Sons and Daughters :: The Longing EP
:: The Live Album is also really good.

The Brilliance :: The Brilliance Road Recordings
:: Their Lent Album is AMAZING! And their 1st Advent album is also really good

Gungor :: I Am Mountain
:: Ghosts Upon The Earth

John Mark McMillian :: Borderland
:: The Medicine

And here is a playlist i’ve make on spotify of some worship music i’ve been listening to. Some of what’s above is included and a lot of other stuff as well.
My Spotify Worship Playlist



Gungor // Music Monday 34


It comes in spurts but it seems like I never go to awfully long without a Gungor spurt!

I’m a bit fan! I think Gungor is one of the more creative and real bands that play music overtly about God and His work in the world. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy them but they are also just REALLY musically talented and amazing song writers with pretty good theology in my estimation. I also think it’s cool that they dabble in like of different waters…

Michael Gungor wrote a book (Rob Bell gave me a copy and I’ve read bits, it’s pretty good.)

They are involved in cool side projects like THE LITURGISTS. Check it out…

They participated in this interesting conference on liturgy, art and the Church in an evangelical context. The Praxis Conference.

And in general it just seems like they are always up to something cool!

Now for my only nock on Gungor :: On each of their albums they have about 2 or 3 songs that absolutely slay me! The songs are amazing and I listen to them on repeat for months after purchasing the album. They usually have another few songs that are really really good but maybe not repeat worthy. Then half of the album I could do without. This is true for each of their 3 full length albums I have. The good stuff by far out weighs this but I’m waiting for an album from them that I can just push play to and sit back while they melt my face off.

With that said… I thought I would give you my best of Gungor play list. It’s probably most of the usual hits you would expect but I haven’t featured them on a Music Monday before so I thought I would give you my favs!

My Gungor Triple AAA Playlist…
(in no particular order)

Long Way Off
I Am Mountain
Beautiful Things
You Have Me
The Earth Is Yours
Brother Moon
This Is Not The End

The Honorable mentions.

We Will Run
Cannot Keep You
Please Be My Strength
People Of God
Let There Be
Crags and Clay
The Fall
When Death Dies
You Are The Beauty
Let It Go

And here are a few video’s. The 1st is a CLASSIC!

And here is my current favorite song of theirs. It’s on repeat! This is a cool live video shot at Relevant Studios. They have a few other videos on the Relevant Youtube page worth checkout as well!



Why you should quit The Ministry…


I have a friend who is a full-time pastor, associate actually but probably does more than his Sr. pastor, he’s good! But I think he should quit his job and get out of ministry. Let me tell you why.

Another guy I know, he’s a priest at a local parish and is experiencing what a lot of us “professional Christians” experience, the inability to really dig in and share life with people. We were talking about his community group and he isn’t sure he can do the small group thing because there is an expectation that he would have the answers. There is also probably a bit of a compulsion to give the “right” answer if the wrong ones are being tossed about. This isn’t uncommon, i’ve felt it and so have many of my friends who are pastors and preachers.

Now maybe you could still get a pay check form the church. Wear the collar and park in the clergy space at the hospital (there are some perks we don’t want to give up right!) But maybe we need to quit doing ministry and just start doing life people. Live in a way that should be standard for all Christians not just those that get paid for ministry. Maybe we should only do things as professional ministers that we would also do as professional bike messengers or professional lawyers or you fill in the blank. If you wouldn’t do it when you weren’t getting paid, don’t do it JUST because you are.

Maybe this is idealistic. Maybe there are things that are apart of any job as professional that you’d hate but can’t help, things you have to do. Does anybody love every aspect of their occupation? If so, teach me your ways. So i’m not saying this is some hard and fast rule but what I am trying to get at is what I see in my friend and if I were honest, it’s what i see in myself all to often. I can be a horrible friend, a really crappy neighbor but when it’s my job or when i’m “ministering” i’m all over it. If you’re going to be a crap friend to your friends don’t act like your a good friend to the people you’re getting “paid” to be a friends to.

The goal in quitting ministry is to have the ability to actually live life with people and let ministry happen as it should for all of us, no matter how we get paid. You might even still get a check from the church and preach a message on Sundays. If we can find ways to shift our professional mentality I really think that our status as simply authentic human beings, people who has quit ministry will begin to shape how we actually share life with people. It will shape the conversations we have, the dinners we go to, the beers we drink and the games we attend. All these things and more might all be a bit more natural as they flow from life instead of being contrived via a job.

“So what do you do?”
“Oh, i’m i just a dude. I happen to work at a church though.”


So, do you get paid by a church? How have you felt this dilemma? Or have you?

I think an interesting part of this conversation could be to flesh out a theology of the priesthood of believes and how the professional priest fits into this community of priests that we all are called to belong to. I’m sure there are some good resources on this, any suggestions?



Sabbath as Resistance


I recently read Walter Brueggemann’s book Sabbath as Resistance; Saying No to the Culture of Now. It was a stellar little book! It was a book I needed to read. I have a theology of Sabbath, I have some kind of belief that it’s important but to be honest, I’m not a great Sabbath keeper. This book said things I believe in poignant and impactful ways that reminded me that to follow the God who frees is to be free indeed. The world doesn’t revolve around my efforts and abilities and God gives me a day to remember that and to let it be a guiding reality to my entire life and ministry. 

I’d thought I would flip through and share a few of my favorite quotes. I would include a dozen more but check these out and then go buy the book!

“The departure from that same system (the Egyptian system of control) in our time is not geographical. It is rather emotional, liturgical, and economic. It is not an idea but a practical act. Thus the Sabbath of the forth commandment is an act of trust in the subversive, exodus-causing God of the first commandment, an act of submission to the restful God of commandments one, two, and three. Sabbath is a practical divestment so that neighborly engagement, rather than production and consumption, defines our lives. It is for good reason that sabbath has long been for theologically serious Jews, the defining discipline. It is for good reason that Enlightenment-based autonomous Christians may find the Sabbath commandment the most urgent and the most difficult of all the commandments of Sinai.”

“Moses, in Deuteronomy, imagines that Sabbath is not only a festival day but also a new social reality that is carried back into days one through six. People who keep Sabbath live all seven days differently. So the task, according to Moses, is to “seven” our lives.”

The “other gods” are agents and occasions of anxiety. But we, by discipline, by resolve, by baptism, by Eucharist, and by passion, resist such seductions. In so doing we stand alongside the creator in whose image we are made. By the end of six days God had done all that was necessary for creation… so have we!”

“… Sabbath is not simply a pause. It is an occasion for reimagining all of social life away from coercion and competition to compassionate solidarity.”

“Since Sabbath is the quintessential worship act of neighborliness wherein the workers rest “as you” (Deut. 5:14), we may see in this context a contrast with a practice of worship that offers no Sabbath rest but only reflects a social restlessness and feeds social restlessness by giving it religious legitimacy. Worship that does not lead to neighborly compassion and justice cannot be faithful worship of YHWH. The offer is a phony Sabbath.

We have so many requirements that are as old as Moses. But here is only one requirement. It is Sabbath, work stoppage, an ordinacnce everyone can honor—gay or straight, women or man, Black or White, “American” or Hispanic—anybody can keep it and be gathered to the meeting of all God’s people.
Sabbath deconstructs the notion of being “qualified” for membership.

“Sabbath is a school for our desires, an expose & critique of the false desires that focus on idolatry & greed that have immense power over us. When we do not pause for Sabbath, these false desires take power over us. But Sabbath is the chance for self-embrace or our true identity.”



Gregory Alan Isakov // Music Monday 33


I’ve been listening to Gregory Alan Isakov on repeat for the past few months. He’s is amazing! It’s a the quintessential kinda of music I would declare my favorite :: great voice, lots of drippy acoustic guitar, amazing song writing and a good mix of different tempo’ed tunes… just classic singer / song writer action. I listen to LOTS of different kinds of music but this would definitely be my favorite.

(a long list to check out if you’re interested)

It’s why guys like Griffin House, William Fitzsimmons, John Mayer, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Matthew Perryman Jones, John Mark McMillian, Josh Garrels, Ben Rector, Run River North (Monsters Calling Home), The Lighthouse and the Whaler, Bon Iver, James Vincent McMorrow,Ray LaMontagne, Tyrone Wells, City and Colour, The Lumineers, The Avett Brothers, The Brilliance, Alexi Murdoch, David Ramirez, Rouge Wave, Damien, Jack Johnson, Jurado, Cataldo, The Shins, Alpha Rev, Josh Rouse, Ari Hest, Jose Gonzalez, Of Monsters and Men and many many more are on my “liked” page on Spotify. It’s why soundtracks to the following movies are nearly perfect! Garden State, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Away We Go, Into the Wild, Nashville (the TV show), etc.

I love it and Gregory is climbing to the top of that list. 

Songs like…

Second Chances (maybe my favorite — live video below)
Big Black Car (video above but listen to the album version!)
Saint Valentine
The Stable Song
If I Go, I’m Goin

… are absolutely captivating! Here are few more videos but jump on Spotify or even better go buy one of his albums. So good!




To Be Doubted and Rejected…


How did Jesus feel when he was rejected and shunned? In all the little moments of his life and ministry, when people wouldn’t listen to him or forced him out of  a town or figured he was a heretic or crazy or drunk or worse. How, in his normal, everyday life, did he react when people didn’t believe in him, doubted him and thought him to be lacking in wisdom and understanding and in obedience to the God of Torah? In the stillness of his heart and mind, what did he feel and think, and how did his spirit react to all of these situations, rejections and doubts?

We construct these false selves to avoid the very rejection and doubt of others that Jesus experienced on a regular basis. We make elaborate facebook profiles and strategic instgram lives so that we might present our best (and often false selves) so that people might accept us, “like” us and believe in us. And then there is your resume… don’t get me started.

The layers to which Jesus experienced this might be a bit deeper, but let’s be honest, we want people to believe in us as well. We want to be thought of as “enough” and as capable and cool and worth listening to and being friends with. Much of our living energy is spent attempting to earn acceptance or prove our worth or maybe even prove to ourselves that we don’t need to prove anything or earn acceptance from anybody, but let’s be honest.

Does Jesus’ call to take up our cross and die have anything to do with this?

The example Jesus set and the life the Spirit enables is one of confidence and safety. Jesus always felt safe in the Father’s care and kingdom in which he had his primary residence. 

That same acceptance, confidence and safety is offered to us if we will find our primary identity (let me use a word we won’t misinterpret and run wild with), if we will find our primary life and citizenship in the Kingdom of God. This is exactly how Jesus could be a centered and whole self despite rejection. This is how he could live calm in the midst of chaos and how he would let some folks nail him to a tree, not only without retaliating but with words like “forgive them, they don’t have a clue” on his lips.

Jesus, I’m not there. My inner life is often tossed about when I experience rejection or when a person doubts my ability and my good enough-ness, but I desire to follow you to the place of peace and confidence that exists only in your kingdom. Help me to reside so fully in this place of your rule and reign that my moments in this present evil age and corrupt old creation are moments of prophetic presence and new creation living, bringing and invitation sharing. May my life be lived praying “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and also being used by you to be an answer, if only in part, to that very prayer you’ve taught me to pray and enabled me to live.


These are the thoughts I had today in morning prayer. The text of the morning was Acts 22:30 — 23:11. This is Paul’s experience with some of the ideas above, his thoughts of rejection and persecution. I would wonder how Paul dealt with it as well, but as is true for Paul and also true for us, the ultimate example for living is Jesus.

I was led in morning prayer on this day by Pray As You GO, a great resource for your commute to work or for the few moments you have before your day gets going. The song they sang was “We live in the shelter of the almighty.” Fitting for these thoughts, for sure.

Grace and Peace

(PS :: The image above is a depiction of a story from Mark 10, the familiar story of The Rich Young Ruler. This was one of the many stories that came to my mind when I thought of little, everyday ways in which Jesus was rejected and thought of as not enough or doubted as sufficient. There are dozens of others… What story comes to your mind?)



Best Of // Music Mondays


Over the past 5 years or so i’ve done nearly 50 music monday posts. I spent some time yesterday looking over old posts and the nerd in me even came out and I made a little spread sheet so I could keep track of all the posts and artist i’ve featured. This might surprise those who know me best, i’m a zero organizer (that’s an inside joke / info) but spreadsheets and to-do lists are how I survive in the organized world as a unorganized fellow. And i’ve read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People! Come on!

Anyway, as I perused through old Music Monday Posts on this blog I thought I would share my Top 5 All Time Music Monday posts (also an ode to my all time, #1  favorite music movie of all time — LINK HERE, careful there is some bad language there.)

#1. William Fitzsimmons
This was my first Music Monday of all time! WAY back in 2008! And I still love and listen to Willy Fitz!

#2.  Ben Rector #1and #2 
I’ve done 2 different posts on Ben Rector so he has to be high on the list! He has some amazing songs and his suburb song is still an anthem close to my heart!

#3. Griffin House
Griffin is still one of my favorite artist of all time, so of course he would be in my top 5! Check it out!

#4. John Foreman
I think I’m gonna do a post on Switchfoot’s new album soon, it’s REALLY good! They have some classic tunes and then John Foreman, the lead singer put out a absolutely beautiful collection of his own music. 100% amazing collection, so here’s a post about it!

#5. Josh Rouse
Josh Rouse just takes me back to a time and a place (Nashville) that is really special to me! His music is great and I can’t get enough!

Here are a few other favorites (honorable mentions)

All Sons and Daughters
Monsters Calling Home
Bon Iver
Paper Route