Gossip… Spiritual Cancer!

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Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me…? So who seriously came up with that little nugget of wisdom? Do any of us believe that? I think the attempt in this teaching was to encourage people to look past the absence of real physical harm, and to look at someone’s words as the coward’s way to inflict pain. Where living in a certain place or one’s lifestyle where it’s not so appropriate to just punch someone square in the face, words can take the place of that real need to “haul off and let someone have it”. Words aren’t fists, so they shouldn’t hurt us, right? The outcome though is actually anything but pleasant and when someone uses words as way to cause pain, they usually get their way. In fact I will go on record to say, I’d rather take the punch to the face because it’s over quickly and the pain will subside where I can get up, brush myself off and move on and deal with it. When someone hits you with a blindside though, and I mean in this case gossip, it leaves a lingering effect of hurt and turmoil that lasts much longer than the result of physical harm. Jesus once said in Matthew 12:34-37 For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

This, along with many other references in God’s word helps in our time of reflection on this subject, because quite frankly gossip just kills the heart of worship, and brings down the walls of unity in Christ’s church! Many have been on the wrong side of this blindside, have experienced every ounce of its wrath, and felt its pain. Those who are growing in Christ, seeing the error of their ways may even have been on the giving end of this. Those who have been here also have a significant testimony about good that came out of evil. Either way gossip is a stealth weapon that is every bit as lethal as a nuclear missile because it leaves nothing but devastation and death in its path! No good comes from this, only the doing of evil, and from it we will be judged. At least for the sake of comparison, you can see or receive information that a missile is headed your way! Gossip is deadly, under the radar and seeps into those you love and trust, doing damage in tearing apart the nerve center of love and care, and destroying one’s reputation without the person on the receiving end even knowing it is happening. In much sense it’s like a chemical weapon, after its release you one day, even many weeks later without warning you feel it’s affect and it overtakes your nervous system like serine gas. You don’t even know what hit you, but suddenly you are not the same to others that you once were. You aren’t treated with love and kindness, and people begin to steer away, or have critical or scrutinizing opinions quickly about things you say and do. Sound dramatic? Am I over doing this analogy? Those who have truly felt the effect of gossip would not disagree with this statement, and perhaps would even add some other choice adjectives to increase the awareness. In the end there are consequences as we read again 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,- Matthew 12:36 . If today as you read this you have either been the victim or the aggressor in this vicious act sometime within your life, and there is wisdom we can take from it to grow…

1. We are not blameless! Every one of us has fallen to sin and will continue wandering down this path until our end. Romans 3:23   23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. No one escapes this truth. We can all strive to live and act in accordance to God’s word, but our words don’t do anything for our good. It is our decision to act upon these words and change our evil ways that will make any difference. The way that God gets the glory is through our action to change our sinful ways!

 

2. Every person has a reason to feel emotion for the way we are treated, good or bad. When we are approached by someone with corrective words it is either out of love, concern, impatience, ignorance or malice. Somewhere in this mix their words exist, and we need to seek God for the truth if it exists, and the connection before we act on our next step, which often times is to gossip about the incident. It is human nature to want to share our hurt with others, because we ‘need’ people to feel what we feel so we can either justify our emotions to them, or find a source of the blame. Nothing good can ever come of either of these, because as we all feel the effect of being corrected, spewing it onto others will always and only be a quick release of hurt that now takes our pain or anger and drags the innocent bystander right into the middle of it. Many offenders after the fact will look back and realize the wrong that came from it, but due to embarrassment and shame they will walk away acting as though nothing ever happened with the hope that the person they wronged will never find out. Often times unfortunately that is very true (hence the nerve gas analogy). Often times though in this silent but deadly assault the wounded never recover, they just don’t know they have been hit until it’s too late, and the damage is done!

3. Every person can change! Will they..? That’s another conversation. We have the ability though to enact God’s word in our heart and lives. By realizing first who are our allies and who are our enemies. Let me direct this to the allies first… those in your church, or other believers who you do ministry with you side by side, reaching others, and bringing people to Christ… are your allies! If there are people in your midst, or you are reading this knowing this is you, and you even “kind of” fit this description, and yet still cannot stop gossiping, I implore you as you read this to seek a strong and mature spiritual mentor and good Christian friends whom you trust that will stand by your side as you walk through this, study God’s Word, pray together and form accountability. You cannot and will not get through this without those entrusted to help you break free of Satan’s grip in this area. Allies need to realize we fight on the front lines together and that no weapon that can or will be formed against us will prosper (Isaiah 54:17). We have the tools and resources through God’s word and His people to overcome every bit of evil that tries to break the bonds of unity in Christ’s church! It’s up to us to align with those who benefit us not break us down. On the side of our enemies this is actually much easier to deal with often times because we don’t have a bond of unity with them like we do with those closer to us that cause us hurt. We can choose to walk away and stay at a distance if it’s possible, and often times that is the only choice we have and still remain close to the Lord. If you’re like me, our enemies bring the “fight” in me out and make me revert to my flesh. I don’t want to “take it” so I resist! Are you of the flight, or the fight mentality here? First off there is no formula to help or aid our enemies. They simply do not believe they have any issues to resolve, it’s not their fault and they do not care who gets mowed down in the process. These people can be identified quickly because hurting you or others is just a part of their daily lives and it’s the norm of living that they accept. People in general (us) stand in their way. Whatever pleases them, and their selfish motivation is their only thought and process they operate by. What then can change this type of person? The only thing that can penetrate our enemies and bring authentic change is the love of Christ! Prayer and the Holy Spirit living in and through us is the only chance we have of our enemies being overtaken and restored. If/ when it happens it’s a sweet thing because the glory returns to Christ when they surrender to Him.

 

Some of us work with people that we simply cannot get away from, and we view them as our enemy. If that is you, pray and ask God to either remove you from them, or them from you, or from the situation itself. Ask God to bend their will according to His plans for them, and for them to find His love. If that means to endure the situation then that may be the direction, and the cross He is asking you to bear…or He may create a situation where He releases you in time. His will be done and something will happen. These people who gossip and stir up dissention without account, have limited time because when life is said and done judgment will come back upon them. Reputations get walked on, names get smeared, and stories and lives get twisted in the wrong direction, and make no mistake in this either, it is also just as wrong to listen to it and do nothing, as it is to participate in it. The body of Christ is to build up and edify, encourage and grow, never to tear down and destroy. That alone is the work of the enemy, and we cannot be a child of the most High God and yet be used as a pawn to divide God’s precious bride, His church! Yes, people can change, but we also need to identify when we should walk the other way, and stay there!  There is also the time where even believers who can’t stop their bitter and gossiping ways must be asked to part ways and seek help by different means so their toxicity stops affecting others and damaging lives in their wake. Gossip, if given a clinical term is spiritual cancer, and we know there is no medical cure. The only chance we have overcome this terrible disease is to humble ourselves, turn from our evil ways, fall on our knees before God, pray and beg for mercy; that He would deliver us from its grip, change our heart, and heal us forever. This miracle can happen, but it starts with our decision to extinguish the fire of evil that is our tongue, commit our lives to building up and encouraging the church, speaking positively into others lives, and leaving gossip behind us never to return!

A Songwriter’s CCLI Testimony!

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Something cool happened last week as I walked in from getting the mail. I’m flipping through the normal junk mail, and coupons, bills and such, then I see this large white mailer envelope in the back that looks official, not your normal bulk “Postage Paid” thing. I stopped, looked at the front and noticed immediately that it was from CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International). CCLI is Christian Music’s global church wide database and counting system for the music that we all sing in church every Sunday. They track the use of the churches who are singing the latest Chris Tomlin or Hillsong release, and yes, even the smaller independent artists like me, who took the initiative to submit my music and get it in the system for public use.

Back to me standing in the driveway… I quickly thought, “it must be some bill, or renewal papers for my account, or some advertisement for a new service, etc. I tore it open and pulled out the contents. I read the cover letter, which contained thank you’s for being an account holder, and artist with their company, and then it started mentioning that the pages included were my 2011 tracking and stats of my 30 songs which I hold copyright and publishing too. This statement was certainly not “junk mail”, and now I was curious to know more about how my songs are doing out there in the world with the tens of thousands of other songs that are in high demand (I was expecting a good laugh to be honest). As I turned to the next page I saw my familiar song titles and numbers next to them indicating the numbers of unique churches counting, then different numbers such as copies made per use, streams, projection use, etc. next to each song. They were listed in the order of church use from greatest to least. I scanned down the page and counted 11 songs with statistics next to them, then noticed on the far end of each they calculated a total. I wondered briefly to myself “what… am I getting a little royalty check or something?” I then verbally said aloud as I stood there (now in my doorway) “this ought to be good. Do I even try to deposit a check for $2 or $3.00 It’s probably more like pennies on the dollar?”  Then I flipped to the back page where a check was attached. I turned it over and almost fell on the floor… I was staring at a $365.00 royalty check! What?? (My eyes were pretty bugged out at this particular time, and my mouth was hanging open). Something I never really anticipated would happen with my music… just happened. Don’t get me wrong,  I’ve wished it, prayed about it, and hoped for it through the years, and I guess you could say it was the catalyst for why I even submitted my material to CCLI to begin with. So glad I did!  Apparently I was not the only one playing my original music in church on Sunday. The only way this happens (receiving a royalty) is by people using the songs and reporting it with their weekly/ monthly reports to CCLI.

This event really made me think about what I’m doing, and why I do it. First off… I love my job! I am blessed beyond words to think that the Lord allows me to work full time for His church, but outside of the already obvious workload, He gifted me to also bring new music into the church, and songs no less that are original, and not thought of and recorded by someone else. We all do the new Tomlin and Paul Baloche music, but for those of us who are out there and writing music for the church body because we love it… please listen to these words I write (if it’s the only thing you get from this blog)… COPYRIGHT AND PUBLISH YOUR MUSIC! Then take the next step and submit them to http://www.CCLI.com . It is the industry standard that every (legal) church in the known world uses for reporting their usage of music that your congregation sings on Sunday morning. It’s a process that will take some patience, and follow up with their offices, but by taking this step you move from being another local artist, to placing yourself in a position for the Lord to elevate His music to a new global level that can never exist unless you agree to trust, and make yourself a part of the system. It doesn’t just stop there however. You also need to be using every available opportunity to promote through various websites, your own personal website and let’s not forget your social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. In fact, I can honestly say without these two elements working and my account with ReverbNation.com, there would be little to no chance that anyone would EVER find me on CCLI, but because each song entry all were assigned numbers to them, when the count goes in by each church through the CCLI website or via Planning Center Online (worship team scheduling media), the usage gets counted, and those who took the time to set it up are now getting their fair share, and are respectfully getting their “due” by those using the music legally in church each week.

I found that I have 28 churches globally using at least 11 of my songs from 2 different published CD releases. I would have never even imagined this until I opened that envelope and read it with my own eyes. It truly encouraged me, and put a smile on my face (ear to ear actually). It was nothing really about the $365, that was just an overflow of the thrill of it, but all about how this media stuff, and internet promotions can work for us when we use it correctly. Now I am motivated to keep writing new material, using it in church, and also doing everything I can to put my chord charts and lead sheets out there free of charge so people will be more apt to use them in their churches. Someone either played this music by ear, or they charted it themselves for their worship teams. If we assist this process, the chances are we will gain even more use by those leading worship, worship teams and programming music in our churches each week.

I hope this testimony encourages those (especially the songwriters) reading this! God gives us music and lyrics from our heart that we play and sing back to Him. It’s about Him, for Him and is all for building up His church. If we stick to this heart and mindset in all we do, yet still intentionally place ourselves and our music in a place to be seen and heard… anything can happen. Keep writing music for the church, keep leading His people towards Him, and allow God to elevate His music for His glory alone!

God’s Richest Blessings!

Dan

HCG Summer– 60 lbs later!

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May 2011                                                   September 2011

This past summer had me occupied with some specific goals. I have been consumed with great and exciting work at the church as we are growing by large numbers, launching a new “Coffee” venue across our campus via fiber optic video feed, not to mention the things happening at home.

So to summarize where I am going with this post… In the last year I have been watching several people (mostly women) at our church dropping large amounts of weight, and in quick fashion. I asked my wife (Shelly) what they are doing to shed the pounds. Her explanation was that all of them had been on a diet called “HCG” which uses the hormone – Human chorionic gonadotropin . I was pretty fascinated at what it did, and why it caused the weight loss to be so rapid. I didn’t jump right on board, but I wanted to do some research and see why it seems to work on all who do it. After I got online and “Googled”  it, I found all sorts of opinions but very little fact, even from Doctors. In fact it was the Doctors who were supplying most of the opinion. The thing in question was two fold- 1. Does the hormone really do what it is promising (?), and 2. Can people still lose the weight in the same fashion without taking it? Those were very good questions that no one could seem to lay fact to. The hormone as I read and understand is naturally created by females during pregnancy. When their body is carrying a baby the hormone and the hypothalamus gland are working actively together, which starts to pull the needed nutrients from stored fat cells in the body. This is because they are giving nourishment not just to themselves, but also to the baby. Great… so how do men’s weight loss factor into this equation you ask? At some point the founding Doctor (A.T.W. Simons) speculated that by giving the hormone in daily dosage to people who were not pregnant, combined with an ultra low calorie diet, it could produce weight loss results in the same fashion. The thought was that if the hypothalamus gland was able to be activated and was pulling stored fat cells, then in essence you would lose weight quickly as the excess is being flushed out. The other claim was that by keeping the hypothalamus active it was also re-setting the person’s metabolism. As we all know by living life, the older we get the more our metabolism slows down. This well known fact is why I have stayed around the weight I have been at for many years. Yes, we can always (and should) eat better and exercise every day. I guess in all honesty I was at a place where I was highly discouraged and felt that nothing I was doing was working any longer. In the past 9 years I gained about 6.5- 7 lbs per year, and after a while you just level out. Many times during this time I would go on a diet, start working out hard, etc., but after about 20-25 lbs. I would level out and I could not get off the plateau. It discouraged me so much after about the 3rd attempt in 2009, I think at that point I mentally gave up. I just had come to a point of believing “this is where I am at and what I am suppose to look like”. How wrong I was!

To fast forward, I read this diet plan, saw what it had done for the women in our church, and I noticed that guys could also do the diet. After reading further, the reports indicated that men seemed to respond even better than women to the hormone’s effects. At this point I was being convinced I needed to give this diet a try, and jump in with full motivation! I was still a little hesitant only because there was nothing really noted on found and documented side effects, or any visible proof that it was good, bad or indifferent. Even Dr. Oz on afternoon TV spoke to it, but really didn’t offer much on the effects from it. Every doctor had a different opinion of it, and what it did (or didn’t do) for the person taking the hormone. The diet called for the person to either get a prescription for the hormone by a Doctor, and take one injection daily, which I really did not want to do. The second option was a bottle of drops that you take 10 drops three time daily, a half hour before you eat, which sounded more appealing to me. You also were not suppose to exercise accept some simple daily walking. As I soon found out, you just did not have the energy to burn, so they highly discouraged it. This was a selling point also to the diet I will admit, as it is hard to get into this mode and eat better all at the same time. The second and most difficult part of the diet was the caloric intake. The diet called for the first 2 days to be “load days”, which consisted of almost making yourself sick from eating until you were beyond full. Then on the 3rd day you begin the daunting task of a 500 calorie a day diet plan for a 40 day duration. Yes… this is a starvation diet, and yes… you can lose weight on it without the hormone. However, what the diet plan promises is that your body is living not just from the 500 calories you are consuming, but the stored fat cells that are needing to flush out of your body. Your body is being nourished daily on the excess, and you lose it as you go. With this in mind, if it does what is promised, it will enable quicker than normal weight loss and by doing so my metabolism will be working towards being back to where it should be. It was good enough for me… so I went for it!

I looked at the diet plan and after I was in the first week I realized that the toughest part was definitely the first week. Yes, it was a regimen of what you can and can’t eat, but it had a little room for tweaking so I looked at where I could change things and still stay under my 500 calorie limit. It called for you to only eat proteins, vegetables and fruits. No sugars, fats, carbs or starches of any kinds. You were also limited to green vegetables like green beans, lettuce, celery, etc., and you had to avoid vegies such as corn and carrots as they are higher in sugars, and no ‘sugary’ and fatty fruits such as bananas, watermelon, and avocados, and any others that had a higher than normal fat content. I looked at the stores and found a great salad dressing alternative from Walden Farms (TM) that boasted no sugar, fat, calories, etc. I must admit I was not crazy about the taste at first, but after a week or so on this diet your pallet and taste of sweets changes, and you adapt.  After 40 days I was sold on the dressing and loved them, and now I won’t go back. I never realized how many calories and fat we consume from dressing, sauces, coffee creamers, etc. They are one of the easiest ways we pour calories into our bodies! I went at this diet like it was all I had left, and I stayed on it faithfully through the 40 days. I will also admit I found a way to “cheat” on my vegetables and still work the diet as it was meant. I just could not deal with the portion sizes of 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast or steak and the measly amount of food I had to operate with. It’s amazing what you can do mentally when you cook up a bunch of green peppers, sweet onions, and mushrooms, then add them to your plate. Suddenly your empty plate looks really full! Very low calorie, good for you, and it fills you up! The last and most important part to this diet was the water intake. You were encouraged to drink 6-8 20 oz glasses of water per day. I got into a quick habit of drinking this quantity of water, especially after I was seeing the pounds drop off. I didn’t know how fast it was going to come off, but it was working for me and quickly. After the 40 days I had lost 35 lbs, and I decided at that point I was only going to use the HCG as a “kick start”, and see where it would take me after that. My intent was to use the phase 2 part of the diet to introduce dairy slowly back in, adding 300 calories daily. This was a welcome treat I must say, milk, cheese, eggs, sour cream, etc. My daily menu just jumped from the typical fish, chicken, steak, apples, oranges, and salad, etc., to all sorts of great tasting meals. It was like I was being rewarded for my hard work… I loved it.  During this phase I also began exercising more and getting back in to shape. I quickly saw myself drop another 18 lbs during this 3 weeks. Hmmm…?? Metabolism kicking in? It was making a believer out of me! So, here I am now barely 3 and half months past the start date, and I weighed in this morning at 183 lbs. I started out on June 18th at 243 lbs, which means I have officially lost 60 lbs! I am at place where I can finally be happy at accomplishing my goals, but even more so I am seeing my diet change and my desire to eat healthier and exercise regularly. I have not been actively trying to lose weight this past 3 weeks, but still it is coming off. I am eating approximately 1500-1700 calories a day now and tracking food intake and exercise with an iPhone app called “Lose It” (which by the way is awesome- I highly recommend it to all doing this diet). I am working out, eating right, and still having snacks when I feel like it, just being moderate in how I eat, and how much. It’s all about moderation!

I am living proof this diet works, and I have witnessed my metabolism working much differently now than it did prior to my starting it. I feel 1000 times better, I don’t sweat like I did, my back pain I had is much better, and I feel about 10 years younger. I have officially heard of 3 people starting this diet because I “motivated or inspired ” them. One of them in fact has lost 20 lbs, 10 days in. Pretty cool to see how things happen in life. I can honestly recommend this diet to people by the experience of doing it, but I will say that you have to have ambition and drive. It is not for the willfully weak, or those who are easily tempted. If you have come to the place of giving up much like I was, I hope you will give the HCG diet a try. Be diligent and patient as it does not work for every person the same way. You will have plateau weeks where you may lose only 1 pound, and you have to keep pushing through them… but you will, trust me! The result of your hard work though is a thinner and healthier you!

Thanks for letting me share this great experience with you. Now the part that I will do much smarter and with due respect… maintaining my weight, eating with healthy wisdom and exercising regularly.

Serving in Christ,

Dan

Audio Visual Upgrades

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The past month or so has been a challenge (with my already full plate), as our church is preparing to simulcast to our Activity Center building on the opposite side of our campus. It’s an overflow type video venue that will show one of our services in it’s entirety, countdowns, videos, music and more. It is made possible by the wonder of fiber optic cable. We now have a full link up with audio and visual, data cabling and more. In this process of upgrade we are making needed changes to our recordings of the sermons. Our church has gone from the old days of audio tape, to CDs, mp3 file recordings, to video. We have been video podcasting to iTunes for the past 3 years . During this time we had one good Panasonic DVC and tripod, and two below standard camcorders that did the job, but nothing to build a video ministry on. We used an older Videonics switcher, that again did the job, but was not going to win us any awards. We dumped all footage onto a DVD recorder. When we were done I would take the rendered disc home and spend my afternoon editing it to post online the next day.

Since our recent changes we made the following improvements with my $5,000 budget. This is not a lot of money in the world of video equipment, but was enough that I could at least purchase some good used gear and improve a few needed areas. I needed to push a clean video signal with warm color to the fiber optics, and this would at least give us a nice image on the other side of our campus to our overflow crowd. With this new venue it also meant that I would be leading worship from the main building with our worship team. This was only going to be a pro type effort if we offered a pro type audio mix. We have a very nice sound system in the house, but we didn’t have the same to our video gear. I purchased a 24 channel mixer board and patched our instrument and vocal channels to the new video mix. This has improved each week, but has proven to be our biggest area of need. It is imperative that this is done on a professional level if we are to bring excellence to the new venue. It’s one thing to not be led in worship by a “live”  band, but if you are faced with a virtual worship leader, it must look and sound very good. The screen we are using is 11′x 8′ and goes from ceiling to floor. It’s more than life size, and should look really good. Hopefully (we will see) the sound will begin to match the picture sooner rather than later.

This is an exciting time as I just purchased a new Panasonic (used, but new to me) video camera. It does great job and is enough to get me some great footage and hopefully enable some professional video jobs in my future. We now have this set up in the sound booth as one of secondary cameras, we also purchased a Sony EVI-D70 robotic camera, and a Sony DSF 500 switcher. These new items allow our worship and teaching time at church to look quite a bit better than it has in the past. With this new video gear, we also made the move to put a stand alone Dell computer as the capture source for the video feed. We now use the DVD recorder as a backup in case the computer was to freeze up. We can capture in real time in un-compressed AVI footage straight to the editing software (Sony Vegas Pro 8). No more stripping the DVD to an mpg, and then re-rendering later. The quality is 50 times better now, and looks like you’re watching TV when you pop in a DVD of the sermon later. It also enables our video team to record the 10:00 sermon, then pull in the captured file, edit it and render it during the 11:15. Thus making the sermon available immediately after service. We can upload the podcast now quickly that afternoon, post online, and make it available in our new resource center/ book store. We are now getting ready to start duplicating the DVD’s and offering them in the store on the day of service. Pretty cool how within a month we have gotten this streamlined as an A/V dept in our church. Every detail of our ministry is being run by volunteers, and each person has embraced their new assignments, changes in how we do things, and has created a great avenue to be challenged as we learn to do new things as a team and church.

This new experience has been no different for the worship team. They are all front and center on video now, which means they must be intentional to be engaging, smiling and moving, enjoying their time as we lead others. People will follow to the degree they are led. You just never realize how little a person smiles or moves until you see yourself on video a few times. It truly helps you grow and be challenged to be better at what we do each week. On every level as we grow a church, we also must be okay with growing as a team, stretching our abilities and skill to new heights. I am extremely blessed to work with the gifted people I lead. May the Lord grant me favor as I continue to teach and train new things to our team members, and ask them to bring excellence to their position. We test run the new venue this Sunday in our preparations for Easter, and soon we will be ready for bigger and more challenging areas, i.e. streaming to an internet campus, or even another campus in general. Who knows what the future holds, but we all learn as we go, seek help from those who have been there, and be ready to bring our best in any situation.

Until next time, be blessed.

Dan

A Digitized Universe!

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Okay… it seems that everything in the known world has now been digitized! While this has been a long awaited resource for media, and a seemingly never-ending process, it really is the way that artists should want it in the end, don’t you think?! Since the late 90′s, we have taken analog sources of all our favorites, i.e., music, movies, books and pictures galore… and brought them into a much easier format of use, storage and lasting memories. You don’t have to worry about albums warping in the trunk of a car, tapes getting unwound and pulled apart by the kids, and now we don’t even have to worry about a cracked or crushed jewel case. All we need is our iPod or iPhone, and a computer to sync it to.  The digital age has been a Godsend for the artist. Even since 2004 and my last recording project, I had no idea how much it has changed. In the last 3 weeks I have placed my new CD “By My Side” all over the place digitally in cyberspace. Where once you needed a record label to place a music release on a store shelf… now barely anyone goes into a store to purchase their music, unless you’re at the mall!  iTunes, Amazon, Zune, Rhapsody, and other sources have become the way to “get” your media. The great part is, the artist of any genre can also occupy a vendor space in their store. All you need is a product to promote…and time! Time is the key word I might add. In the past 3 weeks “By My Side” began on my host site http://www.ReverbNation.com , and from there I purchased a digital media distribution package which connected me with accounts on some 15-20 different media sources online, including iTunes and AmazonMp3, etc. From there, certain websites then send your info to other websites without as much as you even clicking your mouse. Before 3 days go by I have invites from 3 or 4 more digital sources asking me to upload my music onto their databases. Then the Internet Radio Stations get involved. After spending more time and sending more uploads, “By My Side” has made it onto 2-3 various streaming radio station online. Now I am in the process of submitting my material to PandoraRadio, and my account should be active soon. There are now multiple ways to be “heard”… you just have to be diligent, creative and persistent with your time and the promotion of the music.

Lastly, I submitted 31 songs last week to CCLI.com, and I now have an artist profile being created in the Christian Copyright Licensing database in Portland, OR. This is where they keep track of all the copies of worship music used by churches throughout most of the known world. My catalog of music consists of all original work from “By My Side”, as well as past releases in the last 10 years or so. This catalog that will appear is not functional quite yet, but in about 2 months it will be active. Should a Worship Leader desire to use a song for their worship service, they can simply click it and it will take them to my download page on my website. As copies are counted at CCLI, this will determine it’s usage, and creates a steady record for where and how my music is being used in the church.

Until next time, I hope you are enjoying the CD if you have purchased or downloaded one. If you haven’t yet, please click the CD on my website at order your copy now!

-Dan

Missions in Thailand Recap

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Downtown Chiang Mai- December 2010

Riding in a Song Tao

The old temple still stands in downtown Chiang Mai. This was the first site where a Wat was constructed in the area some 700 years ago.

After 10 days and Thousands of miles traveled, crossing the Pacific Ocean, the International Dateline, to Asia and back, our First Baptist Royal Palm Beach Missions Team just completed a great and successful trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand. This was our second and very blessed trip to SE Asia in 2010, and we all made great memories on this journey.

You never know quite what you will encounter, but we saw many things, and several of which set a bar for how you prepare for this type of trip, what to expect in communication with your hosts, and how to be really flexible when things change at a moments notice. All of those things we saw a little of, along with a very real dark side of spiritual warfare. Stuff that you just don’t experience everyday. How do I start to recap this trip?

The best way to experience this trip is to visit our Facebook page (if you have an account). Enjoy the pictures and the captions that tell the story in as few words as possible.

He are some details of our trip: We worked for two days with school kids in the Moobaan (neighborhood) of Sarapei in Mae Wang. We taught Christmas crafts, both in which we were able to share the salvation message and gift of Jesus. The kids had a great time and we enjoyed each others company. They are learning English there, so having Americans come and visit makes it a really neat cultural exchange to have us help them with their learning. We worked with a very low level poverty stricken area for one evening, where we gave testimonies, sang songs and again taught about the Christmas story. We shared the gospel through the story, and handed out candy to the kids and their parents. It was a great time of just loving on the kids and spending time with them one one one. We spent one day walking through the middle of Chiang Mai and visiting the Wats in the inner city. The two we visited were the oldest in the city, and were foundational in the way in which Chiang Mai was built. During this trip it was very eye opening to see the impact of Buddhist culture that has made up this area of the world for hundred of years, how it has become a way of life through the generations dating back before Christ’s birth, and even hearing stories about the dark side of their faith. Most people in our western society see the Buddhist faith as quiet, peaceful, anti-engaging and anti-confrontational people, who operate on a very deep peaceful lifestyle. Their object to become nothing in the world and existence, this all stems from the goal to reach a perfect nirvana as their ultimate goal in their lifestyle. While that all may all be true, the roots of their faith are far from peaceful. The peace they strive to live by begins with operating in such fear that they feel they must appease multiple Gods for them to feel like they can obtain any kind of prosperity in their work, homes and families. Their existence as it turns out is rooted in this every day of their lives. As I learned in Thailand, most people when it comes to Buddhism are not avid followers, but rather participants who go through the “motions” of the faith much like Christians who only show up to church on Christmas and Easter. They almost associate being a Buddhist to someone explaining to another that they are German or Irish. Their faith through the generations have become who they are almost like a nationality. The people we have spoken to there  just don’t think for themselves very often, and they allow the culture to dictate their beliefs, not being led by their own hearts. What scared me and identified what they were going through was a young couple in the Wat- Chetty Luang. They were taking photos in the temple and acting like a tourist (which they were). They suddenly looked around at the people sitting on the carpet in front of these hug gold plated Buddhas and other idols at the front of the temple (pictured at the top of the page). It was obvious these people did not know what was happening around them, but yet still they sat down, glanced around a bit and began mimicking what the others were doing, bowing slightly and acting the part. They clearly did not know the ramifications of what they were doing, but in fact they were bowing down to a false god, and only doing so because they thought it was what “they were suppose to do.” As if to say… “well, everyone else is doing it, so this must be what I’m suppose to do, right?” This is a smaller example of how most people in Thailand must be with their Buddhist faith. Some truly believe what they are doing, but many just do what they see to be what their culture dictates. It made me truly understand what the missionaries are dealing with in their battle with a religion packing hard barriers. In all this spiritual awakening, our team experienced God moving in a powerful way on Thursday night as we worked with the kids from the low poverty area. The Lord allowed one of our teammates to feel the weight of their oppression on his mind and heart, and during this 2 hour ordeal while we ministered inside the church with them, our team member sat in solitude time and proclaimed the name of Jesus out loud and committed the people of Thailand to our Creator. This spiritual war that is going on between good and evil is something we don’t physically see everyday, but goes on every moment around us. This night there was a real battle going on around us, and our team was enlightened to God’s work that is going on under our noses. The Lord appeared to have removed this oppression on these kids in a way that allowed them to hear His truth, even for the short time we were there with them. It was a night that none of us will ever forget as we saw the need up close and personal for persistence in our ministry work.

We spent a day painting the inside if Chiang Mai Baptist, cleaning it up and giving it a make over. The church is only one of a few Christian churches in the area. We gave a gift of our labor and love to them that day. We ended our time in Thailand by helping host a big event day in the village of Baan Tha. This is the neighborhood next to the school we taught in the first two days. Here we are seeing a great response from the Thai people. They are excited to meet people who care about them and will take the time to get into their element with them, fill the space next to them to build friendships and come to know them better. This is truly how a person starts the ministry process and does missions work any where they go. What begins with love is a person who cares enough to want better for you. A person who’s only agenda is to built trust, and then through that, a way to express this love through sharing God’s truth of His Son, Jesus! Our team did not go to Thailand to make ourselves feel good, or to say we “did something fruitful.” In fact, just the opposite, because in the end the glory is always with God, and what we bring Him! Our fruitfulness depends on our relationship with Him first, and extends to others as a result of our walk with the Lord. We believe in the Great Commission, which commands us to “Go”, and tell people, train people and love people to Christ. How you do this is by being obedient… the Lord does the rest when we put faith in Him. We know that God wants the Thai people to know Him personally, and through the work we are doing there, we are in the midst of a great work that God is doing in and through His people.

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Serving In Christ,

Dan

Project Complete!

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CD Cover

The new CD is finally complete!

It’s a great day! December 4th, 2010 at exactly midnight, I completed the final mix of the 14th song on “By My Side“. What a process this has been. Easily the longest drawn out recording project I have ever done. Not that it couldn’t have been done a bit sooner I suppose, but this time I was working a full time job on top of my extra work (on my off time) with the CD. It seems that every project I have been involved with in the past has either had multiple people doing parts, or I was unemployed during the recording. :) In fact in 2004 I was without a job! My last 10 plus song project (ARC- “Rising Up“) was indeed the case. I was able to spend all day at it, 5 days a week of the week, and I got it done in 6 weeks. This time I was not handed that kind of ease, I really had to plan strategically in every aspect from the beginning all the way to the girl’s vocal tracks the last 3 days. Aaron’s drum tracks began in June right after he graduated, and I have not stopped until last night!

I have been blessed to have several singers from our worship team participate, and I have also had Rich, Jeff and Liana lay down some instrument tracks on a few as well. I have never mixed so many songs, so many times… and still felt really good about how every one of them has turned out. It’s a good sign for me to be this happy with the final product because usually I am my own worst critic! With this said, it’s now up to others to enjoy listening to it with that kind of favor. :) It’s a joy to be done, and I hope everyone will take some time to enjoy this with me.

With my recent promotional package today, I have now submitted “By My Side” to at least 20 different online sites where it will be soon be available to download. It takes 6-8 weeks for most of these store fronts (iTunes, Amazon Mp3, etc.), but you can download the CD right now in it’s entirety at my ReverbNation.com Store. If you prefer a physical CD, I will have copies for sale in January, 2011 where you can purchase directly from my website.

Please enjoy a few song samples now from the CD: Click here to preview “By My Side”

Thanks for keeping track of the project with me, and the CD’s will be here in about 6 weeks!

-Dan

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