#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)

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Looking the other way

I have to admit I wanted to look away from the Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Dallas shooting cases. I didn’t want to know what happened.

By the many posts on Facebook, I knew it was terrible and I knew I’d be mad. I knew I’d feel powerless and I once again would ask no one and everyone, “How can … what … is going on … just how?”

There is so much wrong in the world, it is overwhelming. Should I keep my sanity and just ignore some occurrences without really knowing much about them? Let’s be honest, once you begin looking, you’re all in and the anger and disbelief is just too much to continue … and yet we do, we have to.

I looked the other way when I first read the name of Alton Sterling because it was late at night and I needed some rest. “I’ll look at this tomorrow,” I thought—part of me hoping I wouldn’t remember.

I wanted to look the other way when someone shared the Castile video and Facebook warned me the video might be upsetting. “Can I skip this? No, not again.” Except, this was a different case, and “upsetting” was a gross understatement.

I tried to look away when I learned about the officers killed in Dallas. I tried to look away because once more there are so many who just want to get along and then some who make matters worse.

I want to look away when the next tragedy happens. I really do because I don’t understand and I don’t want to understand because this is irrational.

I’ve lived in the United States for the past four years and I admire the diversity I find here, but I’m baffled at the enmity that is so prevalent within the American people against their own.

I looked away, but I shouldn’t have. I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t. I will try to look away, but I’ll fail. What affects you, affects me.

For now, I just hope we can remain close and pray for enough strength to continue being confused, horrified, hopeful, loving.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

—Mother Teresa

My birthday anniversary; the 22nd

I turned 22 last Tuesday. Unless we’ve been friends for a long while, you probably didn’t know. My birthday is not on Facebook and I might mention it once or twice throughout the year.

A few years ago when I was in that teenage (a euphemism for stupid) state of my mind when you want to learn who truly cares about you, I deleted my birthday from my Facebook profile. I have not put it back since.

I should probably put it back. I don’t know why as a teenager I expected people to know my birthday; now, I’m sure I don’t expect you to. You have way more important stuff to store in your brain, like elevating lyrics coming from the genius of Kanye West and Nicki Minaj.

Many people want to offer you their best wishes sincerely. Am I taking that chance away from them? It’s probably not a big deal. If it is to you because you’ll have to consistently interact with me in the near future, don’t worry; there is another chance next year.

The week before my birthday I went through all the cards I have people have written for graduations, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and other less important occurrences. In one of them my dad said I should never say my birthday doesn’t matter, that it is just like any other day. I guess he thought I didn’t care much about it; perhaps that was the time when I wanted to believe I didn’t care.

This year, I cared. I wanted to have a special day, even if it was spent by myself. So, from the night before I decided it would be a great day and I would eat brunch at Bagels & Joe. That much I knew.

From the time I woke up, I felt happy. It was a great day even though nothing had happened yet. And by nothing, I mean nothing (I didn’t wake up to any 12:01 a.m. messages).

After brunch I returned a DVD of Le Nozze di Figaro to the library and tried to figure whether my student account from college had the right figures. I then paid a short visit to the office where I was a student worker for three years. I walked around the Haymarket, spent some time looking at books at Indigo Bridge Books, used my birthday reward from Starbucks to get a flat white (after basically only consuming drip coffee from The Mill for a month), finished reading Jane Glover’s Mozart’s Women (excellent!), and watch The Lobster.

An honorable mention goes to a conversation I had with my friend Stella, who happened to be at Starbucks studying (nerd!) when I got there. If there is something that energizes my soul and takes my mind off self-hatred (an exaggeration perhaps), it is a conversation with an extremely talented person who just needs a little push.

I experienced the daily doses of loneliness, confusion, and fear, but I also experienced beauty as I hadn’t in a while. And I experienced love that felt so present while being far away. The people closest to me (and yet away from me) called and wrote me. They reassured me I am loved, and I love them.

Those plans are not yours

If we have talked recently, you know things have not turned out as I expected, or at least hoped. Even then, I felt confident I was heading in the right direction and it was only a matter of time for things to come together. Little by little, as the reality of the situation settles, that confidence wanes. Those plans I was so sure about, even when interrupted as they are now, now seem a bit unclear.

Were my plans ever clear then? No, they really weren’t. I just knew the general direction. But the problem doesn’t lie there—I can deal, even thrive, with some uncertainty.

The thing is that those plans were not mine. I liked and internalized them, but they still didn’t belong to me.

It was at a moment when my devotional life, although not great, it was stronger than at many other points in my life. God helped me to constantly remind myself of who was in control and what I was really after (or wanted to be after)—Him. Surrendering my fears and dreams, I began to experience His promise from Jeremiah 29:11.

As my connection with Him grew stronger, so did my confidence in His plans, regardless of things not heading in such a hopeful direction. I knew my way, because it was His revealed way.

Just recently, I can’t even point out when, I seemed to have forgotten about God, being preoccupied with graduating, figuring out a way to afford grad school, staying in Lincoln, moving out of the dorm, finding work—becoming an adult.

I don’t even know what happened. Without realizing it, I soon found myself lost again. My plans didn’t work. Without Him, they meant nothing and directed me nowhere. They only mattered because they were His. He had shown them to me and I took them away trying to make them mine. I took them away from He who had designed them, and without Him I couldn’t understand them.


Perhaps this is a bit unrelated, but I want to show you what brought about this epiphany.

I just finished reading C. S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” where he writes:

The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self—all your wishes and precautions—to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead.

For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call ‘ourselves’, to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good’. We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way—centred on money or pleasure or ambition—and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do.

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)

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.