Sea Glass Conversations [a poem]


Along the crook of where ocean meets land
I find myself walking over sea glass;
treasured gems in reverse,
not found in nature and refined by man
   but having been discarded by man
   has been refined by nature

I pick up a piece and ask it a number of questions.

What onslaughts have you withstood
to become so smooth and beautiful?

How many times did you wonder
if all the ocean's tumbling was worth
this beauty you could not have seen
   along the way?

Where did you gather strength
to endure years pitched about
   after being pitched out?

What does the voice of God sound like...

when it bores through self-hatred
and burnishes your broken edges?

How did you stay strong without fracture?
How did you patiently await the vision
   of what you would become?

I slip the gem into my pocket
and I can hear it look me in the heart to say,
"I have al the same questions for you?"


“These experiences I have cherished”


Poetry got me married. My sophomore year of college I was in a social club, which was essentially a fraternity without the beer, and even some of them disregarded even that stipulation. I was a member of the group called Novus Dux, and our greek letters were Alpha Upsilon Omega.  We were a group of guys dedicated to service and various other things.  We had a sister group entitled L’Amifidel. Their letters were Alpha Pi Epsilon. 


There were a lot of things we did together with L’Ami (as they were affectionately called).  The connection between Novus Dux and L’Amifidel was pretty strong.  As a result, we would periodically have days set aside in Novus Dux that would be dedicated to serving the L’Ami girls.  We’d ask that all of the girls would wear their T-shirts as there were more than 50 of them, and we didn’t know ALL of them.


The goal throughout the day, whenever you saw a L’Ami girl, was that you would do something to serve them in that moment.  Most of the guys would resort to the easy way out by doing things like opening the door for them or taking up their bright orange lunch tray.  I chose a more interesting path…more creative…more….???...tenacious.


I went to the library and checked out a few books of sonnets and various other poetry and went out to The Valley. The Valley was an area about the size of a football field with rolling hills and green green grass and converging sidewalk pathways that generally got you to anywhere on campus. I would sit in a patch grass with my books at hand, and whenever at first glance of a L’Amifidel T-shirt, even if it were the length of the valley, I would recite poetry from the books in my most dramatic fashion.


At one point, I looked up and saw a stunning blond girl walking toward me in a blue T-shirt with the yellow greek letters Alpha Pi Epsilon on it. I saw her from a distance, and I flipped quickly to “a good one”, and knelt down and screamed as loudly and dramatically as I could. I didn’t even know her name. She gave a wry smile and eventually a hearty laugh at my idiocy that was both ridiculous AND charming.


Years later, that stunning blond would be my best friend until my 5th year of college where we started a dating relationship for a year before getting engaged to be married. Our friendship and relationship in college was included candlelit taco bell dinners and driving until we were purposefully lost.  After I was married to her, we would be asked frequently the common question, “Where did you meet?” It wasn’t on a road trip with friends.  She would be sure to let you know it was on a day when he read me poetry loudly and inanely in The Valley at Anderson University.  Poetry got me married!

Another memory is sitting over coffee with my hero, Brennan Manning, and sitting over hotdogs a few years later. We can say we know someone by reading all their words, but there is something different that sets more concretely when you sit across a table from one another. Brennan would not have remembered our conversations, or me but those are two experiences I will not soon release. I can remember asking him what books he recommends, as I was accustomed to recommending his books to everyone. It was before I had a phone in my pocket to write down all the recommendations, which meant it was left to shitty memory, which means I’ll never know what he told me that day.

The most cherished moments in life are the ones, which set a person (or group of people) in your heart forever like drying concrete. My entire life has been so full of hard-drying moments like this I cannot help but leave very important moments and highly cherished people out of the list.

Loving eyes

yellow piano 2His love is more potent than any other because His eyes are more powerful than the rest His eyes see through the filth and crust they see through perversion

His eyes caught and catch glimpses of the Divine intention hidden in every person in every way His first loving act is to give new eyes

Machine + For the Broken Ones

I performed a combination of two pieces at The Worship Conference NorCal this past weekend. I was asked for the text of the piece. So if you are interested, here it is. He told me "We're very proud of the ministry we have here." "We have worked very hard to build a well-oiled machine." He went on to describe what I could only assume to be parts of his machine and turned to ask if could see myself as a part of his ministry, and I wish he hadn't asked.

You see, some people build ministry like a well-oiled machine. They put in all their time, money, and people in hopes that the machine will produce the right produce, the right person, the right number beware when your ministry becomes a well-oiled machine for machines have not hearts

And some people build ministry like a well-oiled machine that keeps breaking down. They put in all their time, money, and people and the machine will not produce. Take courage, my friends; it is still a machine and machines have not hearts

Machines have no need for miracles they only ask for miracles and then operate in ways to make miracles unnecessary Machines are built with big budgets and bigger buildings and I wish I could write these words in braille so someone could feel what I'm saying

You don't need God to build a machine

But worship is for the broken ones smart enough to know how foolish they are It is for those who have tried and found life lacking but are not content to confess that 'this' is all there is

If is for those wearied of wondering if our crying hearts might drown us but know that our tears are telescopes to heaven looking through trembling lenses for hope and deeper senses of home

It is for those who don't need church to be a menagerie of saints but an emergency room for sinners it is for those whose shadows are faint from finding too much light

Worship is for those who will step out onto nothing hoping to land on something because accepting that you are accepted is a perception of yourself not everyone can afford it is for the wobbly and weak-kneed who have let loose the luxury of denying a handout of amazing grace

It is for those who chose a path though straight and narrow is still rugged and beaten you are still on the right path

Worship is for phobic confessor who could never match the projections of the pious but know that perfection is a gangly wire no one could ever walk

It is for the child who holds that heaven is full of five year olds sparing themselves the futility of proving themselves to people who will never speak your language of half cartoon, half boo boo, half "Daddy, I love you." Three halves make one more than whole

Do not accept yourself as you should be but as you are because you will never be as you should be Quit rinsing your filthy rags in gas station bathrooms as if hand soap and make believe will make them believe you belong; but you belong. You belong to a kingdom belonging to people not trying to cleaner than they are You belong

Worship is for the sin-soaked and the broken who are loved and outspoken knowing unworthy is not the same as worthless

It is for the paupers who have made peace with their flaws It is for those who have prayed in silence but have never ceased to pray

Worship is for you do not for one second take your gift for granted make sure it is contagious because while it is yours to have it is only valuable in its giving away

be sure your every conversation leaves a sensation of love because this is where the mighty descend and the lowly rise to comprise what we all crave

Worship is standing on the lip of the Grand Canyon with a contagious tour guide tell you to "Look at THIS! Look at THAT! Look at THIS! Look at THAT!" and if the Grand Canyon is only a faint shadow of God's glory you have to wonder, "What must HE be like?"

You are not a worship singer, a backup vocalist, a drummer a guitarist, a basist, or a sound tech You are a worship leader You are a tour guide to God's glory So stand and shout for all who will listen "Look at THIS! Look at THAT! Look at THIS!"

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kEW1WRJTpM&w=560&h=315]

Throw up first

throw up I am teaching a workshop on the creative process in March at The Worship Conference. I am having similar feelings as I do when given opportunities to teach God's Word; who am I to teach this? All is grace!

Same as intimate connection with God, moments and periods of creativity are exactly that; moments! [Tweet That] We all have times when God seems as distant as our creativity. As a follower of Jesus, I believe the two are intimately connected. I am my most creative when I am most connected to the heart of God.

There are practical steps to take for jumpstarting that intimacy, and there are practical steps for jumpstarting your creativity. I will communicate those in my workshop in March, but one I will communicate in a great quote I just came across.

"Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon." - Raymond Chandler

2012 in review of ragamuffinpc.com

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 13,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.