Like an old Sabbath

A few weeks back, I was invited to do special music for the church I’ve been attending since I arrived in Houston. Given that I really had not other performance opportunities in sight, I accepted.

I haven’t played much, and I have honestly felt the void. On Monday, I had an excellent practice session. It was productive and fun—one of those you don’t get all the time. Then on Wednesday, while preparing the piece for Sabbath, I hated my guts because my altissimo register just plain sucked (that’s what practicing is more like on a daily basis).

So even though I generally don’t play music outside of the classical genre, I looked forward to performing once more, to feeling those nerves and the adrenaline, to enjoy being shaken by the beauty of music.

My faith has been faltering; my spirit has struggled with finding purpose, my self-esteem with the ever-challenging demands and expectations of a PhD program. But today, playing for the worship service at the West Houston Seventh-day Adventist Church, I felt fulfilled. Making music, participating in worship, if only for a moment, I was home.

The Sabbath closes and I thank God for a much-needed reminder of who He is even as I am overwhelmed with, not doubt, but questions. And I am grateful for another chance to make and share music. I needed it.

#023 – Michael Paradise

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Before leaving Lincoln, Neb., for good, I sat down with Michael Paradise in his office at the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church where he serves as the young adult pastor. I was curious to know what it is like to work with young adults and what made him want that job—it may have something to do with having a pretty wife.

After a fun chat, I left so he could continue eating pizza and playing worship songs on the guitar, which is basically his job description—according to him, not his employer.

#017 – Tyler Morrison

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Today on the show we have Tyler Morrison, a talented Christian singer-(now)songwriter. On September 4, he’ll be releasing his debut album “Surrender.” Tyler is here to share all about how his music ministry has evolved and where it may go.

To receive a free download of “He Leadeth Me” visit tylermorrisonmusic.com and subscribe.

This week’s book and film recommendations (check them out!):

Dave Eggers’s “What Is the What” (recommended by Pablo Colindres)

People Places Things (recommended by Slade)

If you liked this episode, share and subscribe on Facebook, iTunes, and Twitter!

Love trumps my pessimism. Thank God!

This post was first published on April 4, 2015.


There is so many things I dislike about the Adventist “culture.” Growing up in Mexicali and now having lived almost three years in Lincoln, Nebraska, I have experienced two different sides of Adventism. I gotta say both annoy me.

At the same time, both have things that I like. But I can go on and on about the things I dislike and how I wish we could be better and do more. I strongly believe God has granted us potential to do great things in His name, but we don’t. I become sarcastic and snooty. I get angry and cynical. I feel hopeless and overwhelmed.

This same anger has led me to focus on other things, like getting those things that are wrong right. It’s important work, it’s true. However, while I believe in and talk about God’s love as the answer, I feel like I show less and less of it.

God’s love can change us. His love can change what’s wrong. He can make it right. He can transform our laziness into hard work. He can transform our conformity (should I say mediocrity?) into excellence, our proneness to follow the world (or at least imitate so much of it) into leadership, our stagnant congregations into innovative communities.

If God’s love can do that, maybe I can get my recommended dosis and let that love do its work. God’s love can change our lives, it can change our communities, and it can change our church.

A church that fits me

While going through some old posts from an older blog of mine, I found a quote from C. S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters.” Every time I read this passage I think about what the point of church is. Is it important to find a church that fits you? Is it about something else? I’m really not sure of the answer, although sometimes it might seem obvious. Lewis poses some thought-provoking ideas.

In “The Screwtape Letters,” a demon and senior tempter named Screwtape writes to his nephew Wormwood, a junior tempter. The uncle provides advice to Wormwood, who has been assigned a man. His task is to prevent this man from following God. The “Enemy” referred to in the letters is God.

My dear Wormwood,

Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.

The reasons are obvious. In the first place the parochial organisation should always be attacked, because, being a unity of place and not of likings, it brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity the Enemy desires. The congregational principle, on the other hand, makes each church into a kind of club, and finally, if all goes well, into a coterie or faction. In the second place, the search for a ‘suitable’ church makes the man a critic where the Enemy want him to be a pupil.

Your affectionate uncle,
SCREWTAPE

#006 – Abner Campos

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This week, Abner Campos is on the show! He currently works as vespers coordinator for the campus ministries office at Union College in Lincoln, Neb. Our conversation goes from the negative view a lot of students have of campus ministries to Abner’s personal struggles in his relationship with God. Also, Slade Lane, who will be on the show next time, appears as co host.

The song featured in this week’s episode is “Ven a Jesús” from Guillermo Ximenez’s soon-to-be-released first album. You can listen to episode 004 to learn more.

To support him, please visit the Indiegogo campaign at http://igg.me/at/guillermo-ximenez.