Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere

This post was first published on June 18, 2014.


From Disney-Pixar’s Ratatouille:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new.

The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto:

Anyone can cook.

But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.

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Christ is my righteousness

As I have previously stated so many times before, I am so stressed out most of the time as I plan my future after college—as much as I can actually control. It is so difficult to focus on God and pray to Him and read the Bible. The further away I move, the more I worry about my performance.

In fact, performance is such an important word for me. As a musician, I prepare performances, I deliver performances—it’s all about performance. Long hours in the practice room must result in a competent performance or else I’ll feel all my efforts are doomed.

Spending three hours every day in a practice room means a big part of my personal fulfillment and happiness is based on my clarinet performance. Worrying all day about whether my études will be ready for my lesson next week or whether I have the elegance required to perform Mozart’s concerto, has made me forget a bit about how my life and my worth depend on Jesus—not anything or anyone else.

Although we Christians don’t always portray it, the gospel is simple and mind-blowing.

Last night, as I drove back to school I sang Matt Maher’s “Lord, I Need You.” As I assimilated every word, the gospel once again struck me to the core. “My one defense, my righteousness. Oh, God, how I need You,” says the song.

I worry and worry as if this world mattered more than God’s kingdom. My idolatry has consisted in putting my worldly struggles and ambitions above God’s love and grace and mercy and peace. And the only thing I’ve accomplished is a greater sense of hopelessness.

But this world is not my home and my salvation is not dependent on my performance.

The gospel tells me that Jesus came to die to take my place. My salvation is not based on what I can do but on what he has done. He is my righteousness. If I am asked what I’ve done to be saved or how can I be saved despite all my sin, I can say I am saved because of Jesus.

The greatest reliever is that Jesus does not look at my performance to decide whether I am accepted or not. Whatever failures I face in this world, Jesus has a place for me in the Father’s kingdom. He takes away the need to base my worth on my performance. Instead, as Maher’s song goes, “Holiness is Christ in me.”

Jesus is my righteousness and that thought is freeing.

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:30,31 (NIV)

#009 – Ben VandeVere

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Although I believed Ben and I were completely different people, I learned we have many things in common. Ben VandeVere has founded two a cappella groups in the last few years. He talked about V7‘s history and all the time he put into that project before starting his new group R3sonate. As if that was not enough, Ben also has a Youtube channel titled “Deep-Fried Brain.”

All these projects present many challenges. Ben and I talked about them.

Ben VandeVere in the “studio” where the magic happens.

Almost forgot, here is Ben’s blog where it all started.