Home is Where My Stuff Is
Stories Behind The Songs
This is the first album I have ever titled after a track on the album. But the theme of "home" fits the entire album so well. When I write the word "home" I almost have to stop and think of which home I am talking about. Sometimes it feels like home is where my stuff is. That's the life I have had while living/traveling in Asia for three years. But after several weeks of travel it always feels good to return to my house in Chiang Mai. Then there is also my home in America. While writing this album I had a niece and nephew I had never met. I had family and friends on the other side of the world that I missed tremendously.
And finally, another home I often think about is our eventual home in Heaven.
Living in a foreign land reminds me daily that we are all foreigners on this earth and that our true homes await us in eternity!
Only For You
Idol worship is rampant in Thailand. Within 100 yards of my house are at least a dozen idols public and private. Daily you can see people knelling before these idols in front of their houses, by the road, in front of the mall, everywhere. They pray to the idols and bring offerings of food to appease the spirits. One day I was sitting in a café and I started watching a man bring his offerings forward. As he knelled in the hot sun with the food he had prepared I was struck once again at how futile his efforts were. He is dedicated to his worship, but he operates out of fear. I was challenged anew to serve the one true God out of hope and love and thanks for what he has done for me.
Romans 12:1 says that we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Him. If we live for ourselves our lives are just as futile as the food that
is laid before a piece
During my first week in Thailand I was experiencing an abundance of new feelings and emotions. My journey of learning the language, culture and food had begun and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. But one thing I was feeling above all else was God's presence. My fears regarding my own insecurities began to melt away as He reassured me that he had a plan for me, and that He would use me. I spent my first few weeks down in the Tsunami affected region before heading North to my eventual base of operations in Chiang Mai. The song also touches on saying goodbye to new friends and heading off on a new mission.
This would be a reoccurring theme in my nomadic style ministry
over the next three years.
Is It Just Me?
My time in Asia has had it's ups and downs. Successes and failures in the areas of language, cultural adaptation and my spiritual life decorate my calendar. The story of Elijah in 1 Kings chapters 18-19 came to mind. Elijah had just had one of the most stunning spiritual victories recorded in the Bible. In a test of faith he defeated the prophets of baal at Mt Carmel. God had shown up big time and proved his existence and power in a mighty display. In the end 450 false prophets were dead and God's glory rained down on the alter. If this were a movie I could hear the orchestral score building as the CGI fire consumed the screen. Then the music stops and all you hear is a few birds. The scene has changed and now Elijah is hiding in a cave, afraid for his life. Well, from what I have seen so far, that about sums up the life of a missionary.
I have experienced amazing displays
of God's power and I have also found myself hiding in a cave from time to time.
However, the end of the story brings redemption to our fear. God tends to the
physical needs of Elijah and then reveals himself to Elijah not through the
wind, not through the earthquake, not through the fire but through a gentle
whisper. God has been faithful to me. I've had my struggles, I've had my fears,
but God has always been there and continues to use me in ways which make me feel
emboldened and humbled at the same time.
Studying the language is a must when living in a foreign culture. Knowing the language is essential for surviving culture shock and for thriving as a foreign citizen.
Of course... learning a new language and living in a foreign culture is also extremely frustrating at time.
One afternoon while studying in a coffee shop and pulled out a clean sheet of paper and wrote this song.
I'm not sure how many miles I have logged in the air over the past 3 years.
Tens of thousands for sure.
I had the opportunity to travel and serve in over a dozen countries.
Sometimes that meant ten or more flights in a month.
The more I flew the more I found myself becoming a bad passenger.
I found ways to bend the rules and work the system.
This song is my confession.
For one reason or another I didn't date during my 20's. Sure there were a few girls I was interested in but it never seemed to go anywhere.We would talk and get to know one another... but it never seemed to work. It was always a struggle and never felt right. So, I never got around to actually dating anyone.
One thing I can say about the process of getting to know someone is that I always struggled with the quandary of whether or not I was the hero that was fighting for the girl... or if they just thought I was the creep who wouldn't quit calling them.
When I met my wife Staci it was an obvious perfect match.
Getting to know her was easy and fun.
I wish I had understood all along that was how it was supposed to be.
This song was written over the course of my East Asia assignment. It serves as an overview of what it felt like to live overseas doing your dream job... but being so far away from friends and family. During those three years I traveled for my job continuously. Moving in and out of vastly different cultures, as I was, can be very stressful and draining. Thankfully, God helped me to deal with all of that
and I loved (mostly) every minute of it.
(I'm looking at you India!)
During my travels my home was whatever corner, room, bus, train, plane or boat I happened to be living in.
Home was not an address... it was where my stuff was.
"The War" is one of my favorite songs my brother Jonathan has ever written.
To me it is the quintessential song on spiritual warfare and reliance on God for survival. I included a studio version with a piano driven arrangement on my third album "Dare to Die." This is a live version recorded at my home church, Wayside Chapel, during my home assignment in June of 2008. Kelsi Johnson provided the background vocals and Sarah Salisbury played the synthesizer.
This arrangement is guitar driven.
It was fun to be able to use my first acoustic guitar for this recording.
A nylon stringed Roy Clark signature acoustic.
This is another song about being single and trying to find the one God has for you. On the field men are outnumbered by women 5 to 1.
So I endured many "ambush" setups orchestrated by members of my team. I always believed that when the right one came around she would blow me away and there would be no doubt. With this belief I didn't see why I needed to "play the field." Many people told me that I should be out there looking for her.
But I wanted to wait on God, not sit around waiting on her. If God had the right woman for me, out there somewhere, then how could I miss her?
Fortunately, I was right!! One day, out of the clear blue Staci showed up
and I knew I would marry her.
I can do a lot of things... but I'm not really that good at any of them. It took me a long time to be ok with that. Growing up I didn't like myself. I didn't like the way I looked, the way I acted, etc.. I wasn't good at sports
(even though I REALLY wanted to be.)
My music teachers told me that I could sing and I learned to play guitar in High School. But I was never a standout at anything.
Nowadays I am thankful for who God made me to be. It makes it easy for me to give Him the credit in everything because I know it's not me!
The idea for this song came to me one day as I was jogging on a beach in southern Thailand. I had the chorus written before I got home.
Smog is a serious problem in my city in Thailand. Every January the farmers burn off their fields and it sits in the valley for months waiting on rainy season. The mountain that overlooks the city disappears for months. As I was riding into town one day it just seemed so amazing that a mountain that was so close could disappear in the haze of man's actions. The metaphor slapped me in the face. God is so close and wants to be a part of our lives. But so often our junk clouds the air and we can't even see him. The album closes as a prayer for my beloved second home of Thailand.
"Lord, please clean the air. They need to see Your glory!"
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