Josh Garrels: A Different Ethic and Sustenance for my Soul

“There’s a place, a garden for the young
To laugh and dance in safety among
The shimmering light in the garden of peace
But steal a bite and paradise is lost
With darkened hearts we didn’t count the cost
Forgot all we left behind
Life picks up speed before you know
We’re holding on for dear life, Oh Lord
We’re too proud to turn back now
One day it all falls down
It breaks our heart and it breaks our crown
Brings us down where we see
It’s gonna be alright
Turn around and let back in the light
And joy will come
Like a bird in the morning sun
And all will be made well once again”
-Josh Garrels, “Morning Light”

There’s something really cool about finding an artist long before he’s famous and watching him grow, improve, and ultimately “make it.” About ten years ago, when I was a college student at Anderson University, some friends and I used to trek over to Muncie and the surrounding areas to see a Ball State dropout play shows in coffee shops, churches, and bars. His name was Josh Garrels. Belted out of his tall, lanky frame, his music blended several styles: blues, folk, hip hop, and bluegrass. Watching him play seemed like a mystical experience. His songs poetically play with the beauties of creation alongside the corruption of our culture and politics, while calling us to Kingdom ethics and intimate love. The lyrics are passionate and intelligent, overtly spiritual without being preachy or didactic.

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Keep Wanting

I think I have found my anthem. You know, that song you keep coming back to for inspiration, to lift you up. It is The Fray‘s “Keep on Wanting” and for me, it’s all about keeping your desire(s), i.e. your heart, alive. Here are some of the lyrics:

Everything you want in broken pieces on the floor
And everything you thought you’d ever need
But it’s not what you want that matters it’s that you want more 
So go on, lie to yourself but don’t lie to me

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To Move Slower: My New Year’s Resolution for 2015

“I will love with urgency but not with haste” -Mumford and Sons

Okay, so my title wasn’t completely honest. What follows isn’t really a resolution. (My actual resolutions are to give up soda for good and to not buy books in 2015). As for this post, what I mean is I didn’t come up with this idea on January 1 any more than it will end on December 31. I will fail hundreds and probably thousands of times. It’s also not something that can be completely “accomplished,” “achieved,” measured in a tracker, or checked off a list. This has been developing in me for a while now, and it’s less like an attempt of willpower and more like a paradigm shift or an adjusted priority or an overarching principle.

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Rich Mullins and Raw Honesty

I am drawn to raw honesty. Brene Brown might call this “vulnerability.” In some contexts that have been life-giving to me, we have used the phrase “rigorous honesty.” It has been quite liberating for me to learn that I can show when I am hurting, that I don’t have to pretend to be perfect. I can just go ahead and resign from the dog and pony show.

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