Thursday, December 27, 2007

Brandon Scott Thomas

Last Sunday, my good friend BST announced that he was resigning as the worship leader Otter Creek effective immediately. I've had a little bit longer than that to process this news but I can honestly say that it doesn't feel any better now than it did when I first found out.

I remember very clearly 12 years ago when Brandon came to OC. Buddy Arnold had just resigned after 37 years of leading worship there and in comes this 26 year old guy to take his place. I was both leery and excited. Leery because Buddy had been a surrogate grandfather to me and it was difficult to imagine anyone else leading worship. Excited because I knew from his tryouts that Brandon would continue in Buddy's footsteps by leading us on into new frontiers of worship. And he did. From the first praise team being on the first two rows of the congregation to instrumental worship on Saturday nights occasionally to the monthly Celebration worship services every third Sunday night. And that doesn't even include the ground breaking work at Zoe.

You know the interesting thing to me about Zoe has always been how much of an oasis it is for so many around the country. At Otter Creek, I think we take for granted the freedoms we have in worship whereas so many others look forward to the Zoe weekends as that time when they can break out of their shells. Anyway...

For the first 7 years of Brandon's work at OC, he and I were acquaintances. We would say hi to each other and had done some work with each other, but when I came on board 5 years ago as the tech director, our relationship started to grow. By necessity, a worship leader and tech director should work pretty closely, on lyrics and presentation and sound checks and running sound. Over the years, I've been able to distinguish little motions that BST makes to know what he's asking for, whether to turn himself up in the monitor or turn a specific person down. I know how he likes things run from a sound perspective and I know that the lyric changes on MediaShout need to be about a half-line to a line early because there's no guarantee that he'll remember what the next screen is, especially if it's another verse or new song. Professionally he and I have clicked.

And personally we have too. It's very easy if you just watch him in worship to think that he's a performer. And in some ways, he is. Because that's a part of who he is, but even moreso he's a worship leader. And to write him off as a performer is to degrade him and the work he's done for the last dozen years. I've learned his heart, both from his blog and conversations we've had. I know his heart for worship and leading other people into worship. And that's something that can't be faked.

Brandon's not perfect. He can be picky, he can get into a snit at times, and sometimes he doesn't answer email :-). Seriously, though, he has his quirks and can seem aloof at times, as I'm sure I can, when I'm in the middle of trying to get things done. He's not God's gift to worship ministry, but he is a tool that God has used to bring Otter Creek to what is is today. I trust that God will continue to have us in His Hands as we look to the next person to step into Buddy Arnold's and Brandon Scott Thomas' shoes. But it's weird having gone through this 12 years ago and I now have the same feelings that I did back then. It's going to be very weird to see someone besides BST on that stage. I hope God continues to bless Brandon and Sheryl and the kids (and mom, too) and I know that our relationships won't be ending with him not being OC's worship leader any longer.

I thank God for bringing him to Otter Creek and I thank Brandon for being such a good friend and co-worker over these last five years. Blessings, bro.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Word Is Alive

If you're going to be at Otter Creek tomorrow, here is the preservice video you'll see. If you won't, I guess you can watch it too.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Winter Solstice

Well, I was going to this great post about the Winter Solstice and how the Celts view it at new birth and new beginnings, and how early Christianity adapted some of these ideas and applied them to Jesus' birth, even to the point of celebrating that birth then... But I didn't have time to research it and didn't want to sound too much like an idiot (or at least more than normal).

But since all that didn't work out, I just want to wish everyone a very happy Christmas. I'll only be blogging once next week, and you'll understand that when you see it next Friday, so I wish you and all of yours a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful start to 2008. Thanks for reading and taking the time out of your day read a little bit about my crazy life and thoughts.

Pax Vobiscum.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

YouTube Thursday: 12 Days Straight No Chaser

One of the distinctives of the Churches of Christ is acapella music (without instruments). On one hand, it's easy to dismiss this dedication to a hermeneutic of fear as passe. But congregational acapella worship can be one of the most beautiful things you can hear.

And then there's the times when acapella music can simply kick butt, like in today's YouTube clip from 1998 where Straight No Chaser, the Indiana University Men's Chorus, sings the 12 Days of Christmas. Kind of.

If that embedded video isn't working, you can view it here...

Update 12/2008: Straight No Chaser released a Christmas CD in 2008. Check it out!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Otter Creek Christmas Concert

Here are some of the pics from the Otter Creek Christmas Concert Sunday night.

Brandon addressing the troops beforehand.

The whole shebang.

Sheryl Thomas and George Rowe duet-ing.

Michael Lusk doing a great guitar solo.

The Rest of the Band.

Jeff Berry and Amanda Vickers duet-ing.

Never thought you'd see interpretive dance at a Church of Christ? Wrong.

My brother Reco just killing it during his solo. Man, I miss hearing him at church regularly.

Closing it out.

If you want to view the rest of the pictures I took, you can view them at

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winter Dance Recital

Kinsey's Winter Dance Recital was Sunday, amidst the craziness of the rest of the weekend. But here are some pictures.

Getting ready

Starting off.

Looking for some direction from the teacher.

Starting the pinwheel (which they did amazing at)

The close.

Must make the proper exit.

With Uncle Gary and Aunt Donna.

With some of her flowers.

Two beautiful ladies.
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Monday, December 17, 2007


Wow. Long, long weekend. Friday wasn't too bad. Ran around a little that night.

Saturday. Y at 8. To church at 10 to start setting up for the "He Is the King" Christmas show for the rehearsal at 1. At church until 4:45. Managed to get out and get Sheryl her Christmas gift, which because I'm awful at keeping secrets, I went ahead and gave her. It's a Nikon D40 and we've needed to get a new camera for a little while and something happened on Sunday that we wanted one for.

Saturday night. Sheryl and her mom went out and did some Christmas shopping. And Connor had come down with a fever. Sheryl's mom, being a saint, offered to take Connor home to spend Sunday with her.

Sunday. Church at 8:15. Home for a couple hours. Then out to Kinsey's winter dance recital at 3, which is why we wanted the new camera (for blur-less pictures). Sheryl's mom watching Connor meant she missed the recital, which was a major sacrifice for her and Dad. I rushed from the recital and managed to get to church at 4 (slightly late for the 3pm rehearsal). At church until the show at 6 and then breaking down all the stuff we'd set up on Saturday. Left at 8:45. Home to collapse before getting up for work...

Friday, December 14, 2007


An adaptation of Mark 9:24 which is where I am these days.

"Lord, I want to believe. Help me in my unbelief."

Addendum: If you're wondering what this is about, a good reflection would be Mike Cope's blog and the following comments in the post titled, Philemon. Both the post and the comments sum up very nicely the issues that I've been having.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

YouTube Thursday: Prince Caspian

The first trailer for the next book in the Narnia series: Prince Caspian is out. And I'm officially excited.

So here's a fun question: What's your favorite Narnia book? And why?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What Time is the Dentist's Favorite?


Ok, a bad joke to lead into the real news. Kinsey lost her first tooth yesterday. Yay! and Aw, man... at the same time.

For those interested, check back for pictures late, late, late tonight. Like after church late.

Pics added:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Pictures 2007

Pictures from Breakfast with Santa or Family Christmas Breakfast or whatever it was called this year.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Here's why I'm torn on nonviolence.

Most of you have probably seen the stories about the two shootings in Colorado churches yesterday. The shootings were stopped by a security guard shooting the gunman, most likely preventing the further loss of life.

So the question is: Does act of preventative violence justify the death of a man who most likely would have killed many people at that church? And if the death of one man that prevented the deaths of dozens is ok, is the death of thousands to prevent the deaths of millions morally acceptable?

Or should Christians simply accept that the world is a violent place and attempt to non-violently react in the best way possible? And what about Christians in America who are protected on a daily basis by the violent acts of police men and women?

This is why I'm torn.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Help a Brother Out

Over the last couple of years, I've gotten to know Scott Freeman online. I'm not sure when we met or if it was through my blog or his, but be that as it may, he and I have had many conversations over IM about a variety of topics from politics to theology to Justin Mundie. I've walked with him through frustrations with his former congregation where he ministered to being let go from there to his new one. And even though we've never met in person, I feel close to him.

The reason I bring Scott up is because of his blog post yesterday, called The Whole Truth. It tells the story of his brother, who was wrongly accused and convicted and put in jail 11 years ago, and his continued attempts to be freed of this unjust imprisonment. It tangentially relates to the presidential election because Mike Huckabee was the governor of Arkansas while Scott's family was seeking his freedom. Scott tells the whole story at his blog.

After reading it, I was extremely touched and wondered if there was something that possibly we as the blog community (and especially the Christians in the blog community) could do. Here's what I would ask:

1. Read Scott's post. Whatever your feelings on Huckabee as a candidate whether positive or negative, I would still ask you to read it.

2. In an effort to garner more publicity, I've posted his blog post on at If you're a member at Digg and are so inclined it would be great if you could Digg it up and have your friends do it as well. If you know other ways of publicizing it, that would be great as well.

3. If you were as touched and outraged at this story as I was, consider posting on your blog about it. Perhaps if some measure of public pressure could be put on the current governor of Arkansas, it might help Scott's brother.

4. Pray. I'd ask you to pray right now that Scott's brother Steve would continue to have strength and perseverance in this time. And that other Christians would give him the support and strength in these times.

I guess the reason this story touched me is that I know Scott and I can only imagine how tough it must have been to write that post. I hope that maybe some measure of relief for Steve can happen and perhaps we can all be apart of that.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

YouTube Thursday: Nickel Creek at the Ryman

So... last Thursday was Nickel Creek's final show of the Farewell (For Now) tour at the Ryman. And while I'll admit that I haven't been to a real concert in longer than I can remember, this one is still the best concert I have ever seen. It was fun, and raucous (yes, guy in the back, we know you think Sarah is hot; we got the message after the 4th time you yelled it), and joyous and just plain fun. I got to hear the Lighthouse's Tale and got to watch Chris Thile look like he was having seizures while doing amazing things on mandolins.

And someone recorded parts of it. Rex Hammock, another prolific Nashville blogger, was also at the show and recorded two songs and put the clips on the web.

And he did one of the final songs of the encore, Why Should the Fire Die?

And while I was looking at this, I found someone who put the whole concert on YouTube, mpupik. Including the cover of the Jackson 5's I Want You Back.

AND Bela Fleck playing with them on The Lighthouse's Tale.

Just amazing stuff and the next time Sheryl and I get a chance to see them, you can bet we will.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Heroes Wednesday: Powerless

On the two entertainment websites I frequent, I've read about several people who have said they're done. That this finale is what has finally pushed them to a point where they can't watch Heroes anymore.

I'm not there myself, but even I couldn't stop myself from asking questions that didn't seem to have good answers (why hasn't Peter just read Adam's mind to find out the truth?). And the final section of the show where Nathan gets assassinated holds almost no resonance or fear of Nathan's death. Why is that? Well, the creators have totally undermined any death that happens on the show with Claire's blood. In the last two shows, we've had two people get shot, only to come back to life fairly quickly. So why should I believe that Nathan will be any different?

It's almost like the creators came up with all of these cool ideas for powers without thinking through the ramifications of each one. Or maybe that they can't put themselves properly into the heads of the characters themselves. Peter has all these amazing powers, but he appears as dumb as a post. Does he lose brain cells each time he goes shirtless? Mohinder IS a genius, but he's also as dumb as a box of pet rocks. So much of the plot of the show has depended on the characters acting in fairly stupid ways and so that takes the audience out of the plot and thinking, "Well, that's dumb. Why not fly after the assassin, or stop time to get him (or her)?" And it's not just that. It's some of the dumb writing. Sylar's "I'm ba-a-ack" was just lame. We know you're back. We just saw you telekinetically grab a can of spinach. Stop with the mustache twirling.

Now, I didn't completely hate the show. I thought that Hiro's plot line was very well done. I like Hiro being kind of gray and his solution for taking care of Adam was very clever. I thought that the scene in Mohinder's apartment with Sylar was well played and one of the better ones in the episode. Those two actors play well off each other.

I'm not done with the show yet. I'm giving it the rest of the season (whenever that happens, due to the writers' strike). But I'm not going to do what I did with Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which should have ended after Season 3). I'm not going to watch just to see what happens to the characters. If after this season, I don't think it's worth my time, I'll just stop watching. And I think there are quite a few people who are already on that train.

My score: C-

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Baby Picture Pictures

Over the last week or so, Sheryl and I worked on getting up on the wall the 12 month panels for Kinsey and Connor as well as their newborn pictures. Here's what we came up with...

It was kind of weird looking at the pictures, because I'm kind of flabbergasted at how different Kinsey and Connor look in general. I know I see them everyday and all, but there are brothers and sisters that you look at and know they're related. I'm not sure people could look at them and know that they're brother and sister.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Otter Creek Church of Christ History

Right now, Otter Creek is in the middle of series on time right now and as a part of a creative planning team, we've been trying to come up with some alternative ways of presentation. We've had a drama. We've had some readings. Yesterday we had the song "Seasons of Love" from the musical Rent. Yesterday, our topic was based in Ecclesiastes 3 and so, Brandon asked me to think about a video that could go along with the classic Byrd's tune, "Turn, Turn, Turn," basically taken from that passage. We scoured YouTube and tried to think about where it's been used in movies and just couldn't come with anything.

Now, two years ago, when Otter Creek was moving from our Granny White location to Franklin Road, we were encouraged to bring in pictures from the history of Otter Creek and we hung them on a wall. My thought was to do a video using those pictures so that's what I did. The video was shown as people were walking into church about 5 minutes before the actual service started, so I'm sure most people didn't see it. And I would think that most people who watched it had no idea what church the orange and brown one was (it was the way the building was configured before renovation in 1983) or even who some of the people were in the pictures. At any rate, it was fun for me to do and a nice way to pay tribute to the history of Otter Creek. Enjoy.

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