Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

*Sent via Blackberry



Emerging Worshiper

Katrina Relief

Today was a big day. We did not quite finish the house we were working on. To put it positively, the house was VERY well made. The cabinetry was all solid wood and very hard to tear down, even with crowbars and sledgehammers. And the drywall was nailed very thoroughly. In fact, there were probably a minimum of ten nails per stud that ALL had to be removed. So lots of hammers pulling lots of nails out of lots of studs took a long time. The worst part was the metal corner bead, which had about ten nails on EACH SIDE. What a pain...

To do my part, I took down about 75% of the cabinets in the kitchen and also demolished a bathroom, tiled shower and all. Took out the cabinets and the counter and the sink and the closet... The only thing we left was the toilet! Worth saving I guess!! What a process.

Now we are on our way to Starbucks on Magazine Street, apparently a swanky/artsy area similar to Northwest Portland. We have 17 people riding in a van right now that has seating for 11! Here's what we did. We fouind a cast iron bench, like the kind you find on porches, and we put it in the back of the van facing toward the rear. We have several people sitting on the floor and between the seats as well.

No, there is no seatbelt law in Louisiana. They don't even have an open container law, much less a seatbelt law. You can buy daiquiri's at drive-thru windows. Who needs a seatbelt??

By the way, did you know Nutria's are edible? Apparently they taste like rabbit. "They good eatin'."

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

*Sent via Blackberry



Emerging Worshiper

Bourbon Street and the Bayou

Today we were able to get back to the house we started yesterday and get the whole place cleaned out. Tomorrow we will return and remove all the drywall and paneling and reduce the interior to the stud frames. Then we'll be done. I get on a plane Saturday afternoon and fly back to Portland.

This afternoon we had a half day off and we went on a tour of the swamp. It was incredible. Our tour guide's name was Claude, and he was quite a storyteller. We explored the rivers, sloughs and bayous by boat. We saw alligators, blue herons, bald cypress and tupelo gum trees, duckweed and spanish moss... We even saw a house that had been moved a quarter mile down the river by hurricane Katrina. Amazing stuff. The houses in the swamps are all on stilts. Smart thinking!

Tonight was surreal. We went to Bourbon Street again and stayed a little late. We checked out a few music clubs and souveneir shops. I bought a couple T-shirts and some alligator body parts, severed heads, teeth, etc. We saw a good blues band play. They had a song called "Kiss My A**, I'm Not Takin' Your Sh** No More". (If you know what those asterisks mean, then I don't need to apologize to YOU for writing them!) Needless to say, hillarious! It was good to see the town in a fun and happy mood. Lots of people out enjoying themselves. But at the same time that I wanted join in the celebration, my heart was heavy over what so many were turning to in order to find that enjoyment. Lots of booze. Lots of sex. Lots of things that feel good for a short time, but in the end are empty and meaningless apart from Christ.

BUT, I have to admit that I love a good blues guitar solo! MAN I wish I had more time to check out the scene here. But there are more pressing matters at hand. Back to work in the morning.

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

*Sent via Blackberry



Emerging Worshiper

Rain, Rain, Rain

Today we had some severe thunderstorms in the morning. We went out to a homesite anyway, unpacked all the tools and wheelbarrows, got drenched, and then came back home. All told, we were gone for 2 hours. My clothes are still soaking wet. The humidity is close to 90%, so the chances are not good that they will dry anytime soon.

So we "worked from home" today. We cleaned things up around the church/mission shelter. We fixed wheelbarrows and sorted laundry, installed drywall and fixed leaks... We were a big help to the staff, as they are getting ready to go home for a break over Thanksgiving and needed to get a lot of this stuff done before they go.

The forecast calls for sunshine Thursday and Friday, so we'll be back out in the neighborhoods again cleaning out houses. In the meantime, we're trying to stay dry and busy.

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

*Sent via Blackberry



Emerging Worshiper

I Had No Idea

So today was really a wake up call. It's been 14 months since hurricane Katrina and there are still total neighborhoods that are like ghost towns. Houses full of people's belongings, furniture, clothes, appliances, toys, books, photos... All devastated by water damage, mud, mold... Abandoned and rotting... Full of rats, roaches, spiders, lizards... Left behind...

We cleaned out two houses today. The first had water damage from a leaking roof. The second had been totally flooded to the ceiling... At least eight feet of water, maybe more. We found the remains of a pet that had been left, a cat or small dog. It was just bones and fur, laying on what was left of the bed.. The clock on the wall had stopped at 12:39. The closets were still full of clothes. The couch was upside down, where it came to rest after floating in the living room. The cars were still in the driveway. Abandoned. And the house next door looked the same. And the house next to that...

What amazes me is that volunteers from all over the country are coming to New Orleans and cleaning up the place. 14 months later. And the city is still a wasteland. How long will it be? What is the city doing? What is the state doing? What is the federal government doing? I'm sure they're doing SOMETHING. But its not enough. Can they do more? I don't know. I'm not in a position to know. Part of me thinks "This is America?" Then part of me realizes I don't even know what that means.

What I DO know is that I had no idea before today that things were still this bad. And I'm shocked that I didn't know. How many people like me around the country are oblivious to what it's like down here?

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

*Sent via Blackberry



Emerging Worshiper

New Orleans

Greetings from New Orleans! I am with the missions team from Our Place working with Crossroads Missions doing Katrina clean up. Today is my first day. I got in yesterday afternoon...

It is amazing that there is still so much devastation here. Just driving in from the airport we saw hundreds of abandoned houses and apartments, whole strip malls left deserted, gas stations boarded up, broken windows, damaged roofs... How long has it been? And still things are this bad.

We are just about to leave to head out to the worksite. Some of us are cleaning out houses and some will be doing construction. I am on the demo team. Should be fun. And sad at the same time. I'll blog more later.

Sorry its been so long since my last blog. Thanks to Terry for the encouragement to start again!!

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

*Sent via Blackberry



Emerging Worshiper

Ape Caves... FINALLY!



So I finally made it to Ape Caves today. John Stacy invited me to go with some guys from the Undiscovered group at our church. It was awesome! I brought Luke with me, my five year old, and he totally ruled the caves. He was climbing and scrambling like a champ. I could barely keep up with him!

We headed out early, 9:30ish (I was late!) and hit the lower cave first. Down and back was about an hour or so, and then we took a break for lunch. For those who don't know, Ape Caves is a large lava tube up in the Mt. St. Helen's area, and the lower cave is pretty much a straight walking hike underground. Not a lot of climbing, just a cool air-conditioned walk.

After lunch we hit the upper cave, which is a LOT more climbing and rock scrambling. We had to climb up an eight foot sheer face in one spot, a slippery one at that. But it had enough toe holds to make it manageable. It sort of reminded me of the caves in Indiana; lots of breakdown. But smaller, both in distance and in the size. Limestone caves are Mammoth (pun intended).



Overall it was an INCREDIBLE time. Got to hang out with friends and enjoy God's amazing creation.


Emerging Worshiper

Celebrate Recovery

Our Celebrate Recovery ministry launched to the public on Wednesday. It was awesome. There were two mens groups and two womens groups, plus a newcomers group... Over 50 people all together!

Brooks Doherty brought a very good word on denial, the first lesson in our series. The Recovery Band led worship. And the Blue Moon Cafe' went until 10pm. I am really excited by all the people who came to support and participate. And the message series isn't even over yet.

I know its not about numbers. That's not really the important thing. And I don't measure the success of the ministry by attendance. But I feel really good that the ministry has a core group, a critical mass, and it seems to be sustainable. We have a GREAT leadership team. And we have already seen God at work just in our leadership team. I know He has some great things in store for this ministry.

The most important issue for me is to see our church change. I feel that we are already a church that is well known as a place where people can be open and honest about who they are and what they deal with. But now I see that increasing even more. Church has often been a place where people feel pressured to put on their church masks and act as though everything is fine. Its often a place where people are not allowed to be broken, to be sinful, to be struggling. Especially leaders. What a joke! We are all sinful. Better to admit it and find strength in fellowship and accountability, than to hide it and be fake and never get healthy.

God is the great physician, and churches should be hospitals for the spiritually sick. And to do that, people need to feel safe about discussing their sickness... SIN! Let's be real. And not in the cliched formulaic churchy way like "we're real people, with real lives, serving a real God". Duh! I'd rather say: "We're a group of screwed up people stumbling together in the same general direction." We're all trying to follow Christ, and none of us are doing a very good job. But together we are better than alone, as long as we can be honest with eachother.

Celebrate Recovery is about honesty. Its about truth. And that can be scary. It can hurt. But its better than the alternative.


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry



Emerging Worshiper

Prophet Killers

"He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'

" 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "

Luke 16:27-31


Jesus was a prophet. And in this parable, Jesus is setting himself up as greater than all the other prophets. Like all the other prophets before him, the people killed Jesus instead of listening to him. But unlike all the other prophets before him, Jesus would rise again, come back from the dead, prove that there is an afterlife, and STILL there are many who do not listen.

Being a prophet is not a fun job. Prophets tell people what they don't want to hear. So if you're a prophet, at best the people don't listen. At worst they kill you.

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!

"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

Matthew 23:29-34, 37


I think churches and pastors and ministry leaders kill prophets all the time. We don't like to work with prophets. We don't want them on our teams. Prophets are the "negative" ones that "bring everyone down". They're always asking tough questions, telling us we're making the wrong decisions, pointing out our faults, our shortcomings. Shouldn't they just humbly support us? We ARE the pastors after all! But NOOOO, they have to keep being negative and tell us everything we're doing wrong all the time...

So we kill them. We ostracize them. We sideline them. We refuse to work with them. We call them aside and have a "talk" with them about their "authority issues". In our hearts we want them to leave our church and go somewhere else. But we know its wrong to say that. So we just make it impossible for them to use their gifts and serve. Then after a while they go away and we forget about them. To us, they're dead. We killed them.

Who are the prophets in your life? Are you listening to them? Or are you killing them?


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry


Emerging Worshiper

Passion Week

Last week was a very tiring week for me. At our church we do this thing called Passion Week where we have two gatherings a day for the 7 days leading up to Easter. The idea is that we journey together as a church through the last week of Jesus' earthly life. Sort of a take on Holy Week.

We rearranged our auditorium so that everyone could be seated in a circular fashion around a central station. And each day we set the station up to be different. So on Palm Sunday we set up the middle with a table covered with stones and palm leaves. And we covered the whole auditorium floor with palm leaves.

For Monday, we set up the center with a large dead tree to represent the withered fig tree. And we had lots of dried figs to hand out for people to taste. At the end of the gathering people were asked to come to the tree and break off a twig and take it with them outside to our parking lot where we had a fire set up. Then they threw their twigs in the fire, representing the unfruitful branches in their lives being pruned. All of this being based on Jesus' teachings during his last week on fruitfulness and his cursing the unfruitful fig tree.

For Tuesday we set up the center with a table turned on its side, and baskets and miscellaneous items strewn about as if the table had been "turned". We also took about $50 in pennies and spread them out all over the floor. This represented Jesus entering the temple and turning over the tables of the moneychangers.

Wednesday was a day of contemplations. So we set up the auditorium with many mirrors and gave each person a small craft mirror. We talked about how Jesus said to give to Ceasar what is Ceasar's, based on what image was on the coin. Then we said that we are bearers of God's image, and that we ought to do as Jesus said and give to God what is God's. And we used the mirrors to illustrate this point.

Thursday was the last supper and the serving of communion...

Friday, the crucifixion...

All of this was set in an atmosphere of darkness, of candles, and of contemplation. The music was very subdued, mostly a capella congregational singing of traditionals such as the Doxology and the Gloria Patri. There were congregational prayers and responsive readings. A prayer of confession. The Lord's prayer. Everything was done very liturgically, in an ancient high church fashion.

And each day a different tangible item was distributed for meditation and remembrance purposes. One day a strip of linen dipped in nard. Another day an iron nail dipped in red paint and placed in the palm of the hand. Another day a small stone to remind us of our duty to praise God...

And we did this every day at noon and at 7pm. It was fairly well attended, with close to 200+ people coming each day. It was a very powerful week, and very emotionally draining. Monday, the day after Easter, I was at home sick in bed most of the day. Today I am still stuffy and light headed!

But it is worth it to know what work God has done in the lives of people through this last week. I have heard over and over how it has helped bring people closer to the Lord during Easter season. How it opened their eyes and hearts to Jesus in a way they had not experienced before. That's awesome.


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

Suffering and Prosperity

I had a conversation the other day that reminded me of some observations I have about suffering and prosperity. I thought I would share them...

WARNING! I am about to make some generalizations. Generalizations are useful tools to organize our perceptions. Generalizations are well known as debate starters and feeling hurters. Generalizations have exceptions. Please do not read any further if you are overly sensitive to generalizations.

OK. Here goes:

I observe two kinds of churches in the world; churches that preach suffering and churches that preach prosperity. What do I mean by this?

Well, on the one hand, you have churches preaching that to be good Christians we must suffer. That the call of Christ is a call to sacrifice. That we will be persecuted. That we must give up everything that we have. That we must count the cost. That the last shall be first. That the world hates us. That the Christian life is about giving, serving, sacrifice, endurance, piety, humility...

On the other hand, you have churches preaching that Christians shall receive rich blessings. That good and perfect gifts come from God. That if we ask we will receive. That good stewards receive a hundredfold return. That by faith we can move mountains. That God is able to give us more than we can imagine. That Jesus carries our burdens. That God takes care of His children. That no weapon formed against us can prosper. That we shouldn't worry. That the Christian life is about prosperity, success, overcoming, reward, peace, happiness, joy...

So we have two kinds of churches preaching two seemingly very different messages. Why?

I have also observed that churches whose members and attenders are generally upper middle class usually are the type to preach suffering. And in general, churches whose members are more impoverished are likely to preach prosperity. I have seen this over and over again. Rich suburban churches preach suffering and poor inner city churches preach prosperity.

As to why, I think it is because these are the messages that need to be heard by these congregations. Both messages are true. Both come straight from scripture. But what does a wealthy Christian need to hear? I believe they need to hear that they must use their riches for God's Kingdom. Therefore they must give, sacrifice, and serve. They need a message of Christ that challenges them where they are. I count myself today as a wealthy suburban Christian. And I need to remember that all I have God has given me. It belongs to Him and I've got to use it for Him. I've got to be willing to give it all up for Him.

By the same token, when I was poor I needed to hear that God had something better planned for me. That He wanted to bless me. That He wanted to pull me up out of the miry clay and set my feet on solid ground. That my faithfulness would produce fruit in my life. That giving my life to Jesus would result in huge blessings, more than I could imagine. That He would change me, take care of me, protect me, provide for me. That He loved me and had a wonderful plan for my life.

I've been in both places in my life. I've been to both kinds of churches. I've needed to hear both kinds of messages. And both are the truth.

I think its awesome how God works.


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

Guitars

Another weakness.

I finally got to send my Les Paul in for a fret job (thanks to tax time). It has needed one for a while. I took it to Portland Fretworks on Friday, which I hear is just as good as Twelfth Fret, but cheaper. They're going to replace all the frets, fabricate a new bone nut, and put on a newly slotted Tune-O-Matic bridge.

When I brought it in they seemed pretty impressed with the windeburst flametop. Then they saw the big crack behind the headstock! :-) Oh well. I play it. That's why I bought it. And with a new fret job it ought to play well for years to come.

I also own a Fender American Standard Stratocaster. Mid 90s vintage. Black, with a maple neck and tortoise pickguard. I put a Baggs X-Bridge on it, which has piezo pickups in the saddles to emulate an acoustic sound. So it has a stereo output like a Parker Fly with both piezo and electric sounds. I used to have a Seymour Duncan JB jr. Humbucker in the bridge slot, but I took it out. Yes, my strat is a frankenstein.

My main player right now is my PRS Standard 22. Translucent red over mahogany. Bird inlays. Hard tail. I dig it. Its like my Les Paul, but lighter, more elegant. Thinner neck. Thinner body. Hotter pickups. 2 Humbuckers with coil taps for the single coil sound. Its a mid 90s model too. I think my strat, my LP, and my PRS were all made within a couple years of eachother. I think the 90s were an awesome decade for guitars.

My acoustic is an Ovation Legend. I need a new acoustic guitar. I am thinking about a Martin D18 or D28. I'd love a D42 but can't afford it. Or a Gibson J160e. That would be nice. The Gibsons are fatter and warmer sounding to me. The Martins are more balanced with a good top end. I'm not a Taylor fan. They're ok I guess for a NKOTB. They sound kind of flat to me.

Electrics I would love to own:

Gibson ES-335
Gibson Flying V
Jackson Soloist SL-1 (Cherry Flame)
Hamer Duotone (USA of course)
Fender Telecaster

Someday I will write a post on all the PA and recording equipment I own. Not to mention a drum kit, keyboard, hand percussion. To be honest, I don't feel bad about it. Music is one of the things God made me to do. My passion. My calling. My hobby. My career. My life. Its only money. And its all going to burn.


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

Amps

We have moved our weekly recording to Wednesday nights at 10pm. Russ and I have been doing guitar overdubs and whatnot. I was thinking about selling my Mesa Boogie Road King, but I decided against it. That amp just sounds too good.

It has a bypass switch on the back that switches out the loops, boost, and master volume for a purer tone, and it sounds awesome. So I switched out all the unnecessaries, and took everything out of my signal path (no tuners, no pedals, no wireless). Now it is just a guitar, a cable, and an amp. And the tone is really sweet. Pure Tube TONE! All through an oversized RoadKing 4x12 cab. I could spend hours tweaking that amp and get all kinds of tones that I like. Its definitely not a one trick pony. I might like to have it tweaked a little to get some more gain out channel 4. It has plenty of gain, just not the super saturated sound I like sometimes for lead.

It has 4 channels, each with three switchable modes (not "models", but actual analog circuitry changes). And then each channel also has a choice of 5 power tube combinations (2 6L6, 2 EL34, 4 6L6, 2 6L6 + 2 EL34, or 4 6L6 + 2 EL34). So its a little like having 60 different amp combinations, or 60 possible varieties (4 channels X 3 modes X 5 power tube options). It also has a power sag switch and a pentode/triode switch.

I have too many amps. I have a Marshall JTM310 combo, a 30w all tube 2-channel combo with 2x10" speakers in an open back config. The clean channel sounds awesome with the gain and master both cranked to 10!

I also have a Marshall TSL602 combo, a 60w all tube 3-channel combo with 2x12" speakers (open back). The TSL is one of the best combos Marshall has ever made imho.

I also have a midi switching rack system with a Marshall JMP-1 tube preamp, MesaBoogie 50/50 tube poweramp, Rocktron Intellifex, and Bradshaw floor unit. I run this through my Marshall 1960b 4x12" cabinet.

I also have a SWR California Blonde acoustic amp and a Samson KM140 keyboard amp. The Samson is on its last legs and needs some serious repair work. But it has been a workhorse for me. It does bass, acoustic, keyboards, vocals.. Its like a mini pa system. I've had it for almost 10 years. And I think only one of the channels works now!

Both of my tube combos are currently broken and need repair. I can't stand the service OR the quality of work at Inner-sound or KMA (All Service). So until I find a good tube amp guru they will sit dormant. Anyone know a good place to get tube amps repaired? I mean a GOOD place?? I'd like to get the samson fixed eventually as well.

I have too many guitars too. But still not enough. I want an ES-335, a Tele, an SL-1 Soloist, Hamer Duotone, and maybe a Martin or Gibson acoustic? That would round me out.

I admit it. I suffer from gear lust. I struggle with music equipment addiction. Its a vice.


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

You Changed My Life

Here's a song I wrote many years ago. When I first wrote it, I was deep into drugs, but the lyrics were very philosophical, bordering on suicidal. It was called "Face of God", and the chorus said

Is reality just what you see?
Is there nothing more than this?
Should I dare to touch the face of God?
Is there more to life, is there more to life
Is there more to life than this?

Then I went to prison, and my reality changed. And the words of the song changed. Now it is called "You Changed My Life". Now it is about Jesus. There IS more to life for me now.

This recording was done on a Tascam 4-track tape recorder in a garage in Carrolton or Finley, Indiana (the town can't decide on a name, so its called "Carrolton or Finley". I'm serious). I'm playing acoustic guitar, and my best buddy Neil Hall is playing lead. You can even hear the cricket in the garage, probably echoing off the lawnmower.



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They're on

Blow me away. This is an incredible show. They're about 5 songs in now. The drummer already toasted the first snare drum and is on a backup. Gabriel is sounding awesome. Inspirational. Spiritual. Floydesque. Wall of sound. Wow.

Toddly, you missed it!


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

The Listening

So I'm at Berbati's Pan right now waiting for The Listening to start. The bands tonight have been pretty good.

I went to get some pizza earlier tonight and had an encounter with a homeless person named Reginald. My buddy Steve and I spent probably 45 minutes talking to him. We gave him $5 and a slice of pizza. Nothing really in comparison to the devastation in his life. After telling him that we were former addicts, he shared that he was an addict also. He sang us some worship songs. One was "As the Deer" and another that he improvised on the spot.

Street ministry is somewhat surreal. I know this guy has heard the gospel message a hundred times. Homeless people hear it everytime they get a meal at the shelter, or get into a program. Reginald clearly has psychological issues, probably brought on by years of addiction. Maybe some things even deeper. He is a long way from getting off the street. He's done programs, he's been through rehabs. He has resigned himself to his fate.

We tried to give him a little hope. Told him how Jesus had helped us beat our addicitions. We gave him hugs, and he walked away.

Now I'm back in a warm nighclub sipping soda and listening to music. Wierd.


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

This Way

Here's a song I wrote not too long ago. I have a very early post on this blog about it, which I'll copy here again. I didn't know how to post music at the time, so here it is in updated form.

Recently my songwriting has been focusing around ideas of helplessness, doubt, confusion... I've really gotten inspired by some of David's Psalms where he really unloads what he's feeling, crying out to God in frustration. Lamentations is awesome in that way too. And a few months ago I got blown away in my quiet time reading Romans 7. In the 15th verse Paul says "I do not understand what I do". What an amazingly vulnerable thing to say. For goodness sake, this man was an APOSTLE! He was writing the very WORD OF GOD! The Holy Spirit may have been literally speaking into his ear, inspiring his thoughts, directing his pen, revealing divine wisdom to him one on one... and he had the guts to admit "I don't understand myself". And he then labors over his sinfulness, in the end calling himself "a wretched man". I totally get that.

Here I am, broken and ashamed
Its all I can do to turn and call Your name
And every day I turn away and follow after lies
But here You are with open arms and tears are in Your eyes

I don't know why I'm This Way
I can't take another day
Lord I turn to You and pray
Come and wash my sins away

That's how I feel sometimes. That's honest and real for me. Sometimes my choices bring tears to my Savior's eyes. And I can't pretend to understand it all. All I can do is pray.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24-25


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The Listening

The Listening (formerly Rock n Roll Worship Circus) are playing downtown tonight at Berbati's Pan. Thursday at 9pm. 2nd and Burnside near the Paris.

19 SW 2nd Avenue
Portland, OR
(503) 248-4579

A group is meeting at Our Place at 9pm to head downtown. You can catch a ride with us if you want.


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

Open Source Theology

I found a pretty cool place for conversation about emerging theology, postmodernism, and all that jazz.

Check out www.opensourcetheology.net

I've been spending some time there posting comments, so haven't been keeping my blog current like I should. I'll post more soon.

The coyote hunting trip was pretty cool. I didn't do any hunting, but I did build some pretty cool bonfires. I'll post pics soon!


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

Caving Update

Yeah! Let's plan a trip to Ape Caves. Maybe a saturday day trip this summer??

I was browsing the other night and found some cool pics of Buckner's Cave. I'll post some links later. In the meantime, just google buckners cave indiana and you can find them. Buckner's has 2.9 miles of passages, and the crawl is closer to 700 feet, not the 500 feet I had guessed. I also learned that there are actually over 2900 caves in Indiana! Whoa!!


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

Chess anyone?

I met Terry today for some chess and scrabble. Check out his blog in my links. Wasmachstdugern. Its german for something. I need to ask him what.

Anyway, we played two games of chess and each won one. I won the first due to a blunder by Terry. Terry won the second due to a blunder by me! So I'm looking forward to playing him again soon. Anybody else up for a game over lunch or coffee?

The real news is that Terry straight up whupped me at scrabble. He played 5 bingos, including "hearten", "liquids", "soviets", and "sparring". He scored over 550 points on me!! Amazing! I didn't even break 300... Lame!

So needless to say, I'm hoping we get to play some more chess.


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

www.myspace.com/ourplaceband

I added an Our Place Band page to My Space. Check it out.

www.myspace.com/ourplaceband


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

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Caving

I used to be an avid caver. In southern Indiana, there are some of the largest limestone deposits in the world. And where there is limestone, there are caves. There are probably at least 500 different caves in southern Indiana. I've been in about 15 of them I think.

I prefer wild caves. Tourist caves are the kind with lights and handrails and tour guides. Wild caves are the kind that flood while you're in them.

There is one cave in particular that I am very fond of. It's called Buckner's Cave. I've been there at least 50 times. My first time was as part of a church camp when I was in middle school.

Buckner's has a fairly large opening in the side of a hill. You walk in, scramble down some rocks, and you're in a pretty big cavern, maybe 30 feet high. You walk a couple hundred feet and it dead ends. This is where the fun begins.

To the left is a small hole in the ground about the size of a manhole cover. The only way in is head first, and you find yourself in a little tunnel about 4 feet wide and 2 feet high. So you can't crawl, because you can't get your knees under you. So you army crawl for about 100 feet. Then it opens up to about 3 feet high, so you can get on your knees, but the rocks on the ground are killer on the patellas. Then after a while its back to the army crawl again. Some people find its easier to roll like a log than to army crawl, but rolling is much slower and makes me dizzy.

So this goes on for about 500 feet or so, and you come to a "T". This is called the T-Room (like Tea Room). From here you can choose left or right. Either way you go, if you know the way, you will end up back in the T-Room, as the cave is one large loop. To the right is the Signature Room, so named because the entire room is covered with spray paint signatures (actually there used to be an old signaure from the 1800s there, which I remember seeing when I was in middle school, but it is long gone now). Beyond that is the creek, which does flood when it rains, the Volcano Room, Cushing's Rock, and on around through the loop.

If you go left at the T-Room, you follow a large cavern around until the floor begins to split, then you walk one side of the crevice or the other, and you end up in the "Big Room". This is not the largest room in the cave, but it is big. From here you have to climb up some rock faces, through a room called the Air Force Room, and into the Mountain Room on the back side of the loop. The Mountain Room is so named because you enter the room at the top of a huge mountain of breakdown, which you then have to climb down to get to the room's floor.

From the Mountain Room, you walk through huge caverns, again up to 30 or 40 feet high (give or take). And it kind of dead ends at a hole in the ground that you have to jump into. The hole leads down into the creek that leads back to the Volcano room, but you can't climb in, you have to jump down about 8 feet. It's pretty fun to jump down into a creek from 8 feet up with a flashlight in your hand.

The cool thing about caving in a wild cave is that there is no place in the world that is darker. And there is no place in the world that is quieter. Turn the lights off, stop breathing, and you are left with your thoughts and your heartbeat in a black void of nothingness. You can't see your hand in front of your face. There is nothing like it that I have experienced anywhere else. Its like the womb.

I hear there are caves in Oregon and Washington. I have been in one lava tube in eastern Oregon. But it didn't compare. Not wild enough. I miss the limestone caves, with creeks running through them, with numerous passages and twists and turns, the possibility of exploring, of climbing through a tiny hole that no one has been through and finding a huge cavern on the other side. I have only been in one lava tube, but lava tubes don't seem that exciting. Kind of like one big tunnel.

I've never been to ape caves up by St. Helens. Anyone up for a trip?


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

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Coyote Hunting

I'm going on a hunting trip.

I went a couple years ago with some friends from church, and they're doing it again, so I'm going again. Last time I got to shoot an Uzi. That was pretty cool.

The trip is to Christmas Valley, Oregon. Way out in the desert. Freezing cold. Propane heaters. Boots. Guns. Men. Should be fun.

Last time I didn't see any live coyote, just a couple dead ones someone else shot. I guess they cause a lot of trouble on the ranch where we're going. They harrass the cows and sheep and whatnot. So we kill them. They look like dogs, sorta like german shepherds, but scrawny and undernourished.

To hunt coyote, you have to use a coyote call that makes a noise like a dying rabbit. So you act like food to trick them into coming close. Then you shoot them.

Technically, my understanding is that as a convicted felon, federal law prohibits me from possessing a firearm. Not only can I not own one, I cannot even possess one. That means touch. But like I said, I did shoot the Uzi last time. I couldn't resist. Being with all the manly men in the desert with rifles and shotguns and submachineguns, what's an ex-con to do??

My favorite part is building the campfires. I prefer bonfires myself. The bigger the better. I go for height rather than width. Usually at least a 3:1 ratio.

I used to be a purist when it came to campfires. One match only. No manmade materials. No newspaper. No accelerants. Build a firelay, starting with tinder, a teepee of kindling, a larger teepee of "sqaw wood", then add the fuel on top. Make it as large as you can. Leave a windward opening. Light it with one match, stand back, and let nature take its course.

But nowadays I'm all about newspaper and lighter fluid. Why turn your back on technology?

Say a prayer for me.


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

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My Space

I've been working on a My Space account for the church. You can check it out at www.myspace.com/ourplacechurch

I've been inviting all the friends I can find and, no surprise, they're almost all from the youth and college groups. Awesome!

So what's the deal with My Space anyway? I see all these kids that I know are 14 or 16, and their profiles say they are 25! What's up with that? I am assuming that My Space puts some kind of restrictions on minors? Just to be safe, I lied about the church's age too. The profile says the church is 99 years old! Oh well.

So check it out. Add us as a friend. Right now the church has only 4 friends! Where's the love?!


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

Body Language

Police investigators are trained in the art of reading body language, to pick up on what might actually be going on in a person's mind, despite what they may be saying or doing. Our body language is often an unconcious way that we communicate. We are sometimes not even aware of it.

But our body language does much more than communicate how we are feeling or what we are thinking. A concious approach to our body language in worship will lead to a more intimate experience with God. Rather than just worshipping with our voice, we can at the same time worship with our posture. The hebrew word for worship, shachah, is actually a description of posture. It means to bow down, to prostrate oneself. So posture is obviously very integral to worship.

There are a number of different worship postures that can be used, and lots of different ways of doing things. But right now I want to touch briefly on one particular area:

Open vs. Closed

It can be helpful to think of body language in some simple terms. I like the idea of open vs. closed. Think of a person sitting down, their arms crossed over their chest. This is a closed posture. Now think of a person standing up, their arms wide open. This is an open posture.

Specifically, there are times when I am led to worship with my hands raised near shoulder level, palms up. This makes me feel open, listening, ready to hear from God. With my body I am saying, "I open myself to You."

Other times I lift my hands higher, my palms facing forward, as if to surrender. With my body I am saying "I give up. I give in. I am Yours."

Still other times I will lift my hands as high as they will go, stretching my back, stretching my fingers, reaching for the heavens. With my body I am saying, "I am desperate for Your touch. I want to be close to You."

I wrote a song a while back that touches on this idea of posture. I had in my mind the picture of my son reaching up to me, wanting me to hold him. A child desperate for the touch of his father, longing to be close to him. I wrote the words:

I lift my hands like a child to You
I lift my hands like a child to You
I lift my hopes to You
I lift my dreams to You
I lift my hands like a child to You

And I cry Jesus...

So what are we saying to God with our body language? What does our worship posture say about our feelings, our spirits? How much more completely could we worship if we included our bodies?

Other postures to think about... What do they say? What do they mean?

Bowed head
Bended knee
Prostrate
Dancing
And so many more...

Search the scriptures for more examples of posture in worship. Let me know what you find!


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

Camping

Sorry to miss a few days on the ole blog. Peg and I took the kids camping this week. I am also in the process of changing my internet provider at home and don't have a connection right now, so I'll get all your comments moderated and posted hopefully this weekend.

We went to South Beach State Park in Newport, OR. We spent the day on the beach Tuesday and God blessed us with the highest temperature on record for that day in Newport. It was clear and beautiful. Then it rained the next two days! That's Oregon for you.

We went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, which is awesome if you've never been there. The boys loved it. Huge aquariums with sharks and fish and crabs and all that cool oceanic stuff. And we ate at the original Mo's restaurant on the old bayfront. It's a hole in the wall with like six tables and a "please seat yourself" sign, but the chowder was awesome as is true at all the other Mo's I've been to. And we went to the public docks on the bay where the sea lions hang out. They are huge!

Luke and I went on one of our "midnight" hikes (actually we got back about 11:30p). We hiked the trails in the park out to the south jetty and then down to the bay. Then we decided to walk across the bridge. It's a pretty cool bridge, and even more fun to walk at night. The wind was blowing and we were up VERY high.

On the way back a lady in a minivan stopped and asked us if we needed a ride. I think she thought I was a kidnapper or something. She asked Luke if I was his dad. I'm glad he said yes! We were only about 30 walking minutes away from camp, but it was late and she was worried about us.

So I asked Luke, "You know that you are NEVER to take rides from strangers, right?" He said "Yes", and then we got in the van. What was I going to do? It had started to rain and this nice lady pulled over to give us a ride. Turns out she is a music director for a Disciples of Christ church. Wierd.

We had planned to be gone for half an hour or so, but it had been about 90 minutes by this time (did I mention that the bridge was cool?) So while we were late, and since I forgot to bring my phone with me, Peg had been worried and praying to God that we would make it back soon. Then at the same time this Christian lady pulls over to give us a ride and gets us home 25 minutes sooner than we would have made it walking.

Just more evidence for me that God uses people. How else was He going to answer Peg's prayer and get Luke and I home sooner? I guess He could have sent the Angel of the Lord in a flaming chariot, but that would have scared Luke to death. And I'd be like, "God, did you really have to go to all this trouble? We're only a half hour away." So He found a lady to give us a ride instead. God has a pragmatic side I guess. Why waste energy on a chariot of fire when there's a perfectly good minivan going right by?

"Now you know Luke, you should never take rides from strangers UNLESS they're in a flaming chariot."


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

High School Poetry

One single tear in the oceans of life
One single stone on the mountains of strife
The oceans I'll swim and the mountains I'll climb
Its only a grain on the beaches of time

One single blade in the fields of esteem
One single thought in a lonely man's dream
Through fields I will walk and from dreams I will wake
In drifts of depression its only a flake

You have your own path, so climb your own stairs
I shouldn't expect that my cross you should bear
My stairs descend, but in time they will rise
And the wounds will be healed that were caused by my lies

My hope is that your stairs will rise just as mine
That the oceans you'll swim and the mountains you'll climb
That you'll walk through the fields and awake from the dreams
And find light once again in another sun's beams


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

Celebrate Recovery

OK, back to serious bidness.

We had our first Celebrate Recovery orientation tonight. I was very happy with the turnout (12 all together). We prayed and watched the DVD and asked questions and prayed. I feel blessed to have that many serious prayer partners covering this ministry.

We are looking at a 90+ day ramp up toward launching the ministry. We're going to take the first month to continue praying about our involvement, praying for the possible leaders, praying for the people who need to come.

One of the key foundations of CR is that EVERYBODY needs recovery. We have all been hurt, and we have all hurt others. CR is not a ministry you hide in the basement or in a back room. It is for the whole church. I am really excited about how God might use this at Our Place. If we are faithful and follow His voice (as best we can), my gut tells me that it will change all of us.

Another cool aspect is that I have a really good feeling that we will not have to swim upstream with this. Our Place is already a place where people feel comfortable to come as they are. I can remember more than a few times where I have smelled alcohol on someone's breath or looked into bloodshot eyes and could tell someone was intoxicated at church. That says a lot to me. It tells me that people feel comfortable coming to Our Place no matter where they're at or what they're struggling with. I'm glad that is the case. We will not have to struggle too much to make the church inviting to hurting people. It already is to a great extent. So we are building on a good foundation there.

If you would, take a minute to say a prayer for the Recovery ministries at Our Place.


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

Star Wars Trivia

Have you ever played the Trivial Pursuit Star Wars edition? It's weak. Here's some trivia for you, Trilogy style:

What kind of droid is R2-D2?

What staff like weapons do Tusken Raiders use?

What is the name of the medical droid that aided Luke Skywalker on Hoth?

What is a dewback?

Who is Snaggletooth?

What race is Greedo?

Where did Han Solo run into a bounty hunter BETWEEN Episodes 4 and 5?

The Millenium Falcon is what type of spacecraft?

What is another name for the Blockade Runner?

Name Lando Calrissian's assistant at Cloud City?

Okay, enough for now. Some of these were pretty easy, so if you have some harder ones, leave a comment.


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

More Freedom

Here's another Freedom Band clip. This is an old gospel number, with three-part backing vocals and a bluesy/r&b groove. I think I'm the first "ah". We used to have the nickname, the "Wizards of Ahs", because of our backing vocals on numbers like these. I've tried over the years to incorporate stuff like this into the worship at OP, but somehow it just never comes off in rehearsal the right way. In prison, we had a horn section with trumpets and saxes. Oh how I miss that! Maybe someday...


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Geek?

Yes, I am a chess geek. Okay?! And a Star Wars geek too. So what?! Ya love me anyway!


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

Addicted to Chess

I'm an addict. One of my addictions is chess. I haven't decided if it is healthy or not. Part of me hopes that chess prevents alzheimer's. Otherwise I'm not sure what I'm gaining from it.

I have a Gameboy Advance SP, and I have the old Chessmaster cartridge. They don't make it anymore. I went to three stores before I found one. It kicks my butt! I can usually win on the first two levels, but at level 3 I only win about 5%, draw about 10%, and resign the rest. Apparently there is a huge leap between levels 2 and 3.

My weakness is the middle game. I play fairly decent in the opening. I am familiar with a couple openings, Kings Gambit, Queens Gambit, Ruy Lopez... I understand development. I get castled before the tenth move. I move my rooks to open files. I get all ready to go. And then I falter. I just can't execute a plan of attack.

If I happen to make it through the exchanges and middle play without getting behind in material, then I do pretty well in the end game usually. At least well enough to draw if not mate. But it's always the middle that kills me.

I read chess websites, rent chess movies... If you're interested, there is a documentary called Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine. It came out in 2003, and it's about Kasparov playing the IBM computer Deep Blue. Deep Blue is the first computer to beat a grandmaster in a championship style match. And the movie reveals a whole conspiracy theory about how IBM may have cheated. IBM has refused Kasparov a rematch. Why? What are they hiding?? Hmmmmm...

There is another true story chess movie called "Searching for Bobby Fischer" that I love. It's about Josh Waitzkin.

Bobby Fischer is fascinating. He may be the greatest grandmaster of all time. But Kasparov doesn't think so. And he is a genius nutcase type. He is living in exile in Iceland for breaking a trade embargo. What's up with that?

Chessmaster on my Gameboy has a library of famous games. I think there are like 140. It let's you play through them move by move to see how grandmasters play. I love Capablanca, Lasker, and of course Fischer, and the Kasparov Karpov games are epic. But half the time I don't know what they're doing.

Yeah, its a hard habit to break.


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

The Freedom Band

When I was in prison I was in a worship group called The Freedom Band. It was a whole lot of fun to be in that band. It's where I got turned on to gospel and the blues. We did all kinds of styles, as there were so many different guys in the band at different times. Something about getting released from prison seemed to override a person's desire to stay in the band!!

After prison, we had a Feedom Band reunion at a coffee house in Indianaplis. A bunch of guys from the band got together and had a jam session. It was incredible to get together with all the guys like that. It was hard to get everyone together, but we had a good group that night. I miss those guys. It's so hard to stay in touch.

We recorded the session straight to two-track from a couple of room mics, and the results were not bad. This song, Don't Let the Devil Ride, is one we used to do in prison together. It's a bluesy 12-bar number with a couple guitar solos and three guys trading vocals. Sure brings back a lot of good memories. Funny to think that prison memories would be good. But they are. Prison was the best thing that ever happened to me (that is, until I met my wife and started a family). Strange, but true.







Emerging

"Worship is a response to God."

At Our Place, our gatherings culminate each week in what we call "Responding Time". It is a time of personal and corporate worship, where people are encouraged to listen to God's voice and Respond to Him.

Responding Time usually lasts 20 minutes, and during that time there are a variety of ways that people can choose to respond. We have a prayer station near the front that has a large wooden cross surrounded by rugs, pillows, communion elements, Bibles, annointing oil... It is a place for people to come and pray, and to be prayed for.

There are also four communion stations located at the four corners of the room, where people can go and receive communion as they feel led.

There are also two additional worship stations, one for art and one for writing. At one, there are papers, canvases, easels and tables, with paints and pastels and clay, where people can worship God through artistic expression. At the other, there are notebooks, journals, and large hanging papers, with pens, pencils, and markers, where people can write their responses to God, be they prayer requests, praises, poems, freeform, stream of conciousness.

We also have a baptistery where people can come and be baptized if they feel led. We encourage people to make decisions for Christ during Responding Time, and to come and be baptized as part of that. Many of our gatherings each month have ended with a new baptism. It has been powerful to give people the freedom to act on God's voice as He leads them!

All the while, our worship bands create an environment of musical worship, where people are encouraged to sing, to listen, to watch, to kneel, to stand... To worship however they are led. At Our Place it is ok to just listen, or to just watch. As a worshiper, I do very little to lead or manipulate the response of the crowd. I don't want to lead, I want the Spirit to lead.

There are times where I feel it is appropriate to lead more actively, to ask them to sing, ask them to stand. But on the whole, I am less of a leader and more of a facilitator. The music is really only one part of "Responding Time". There is so much more that can happen, so many other creative ways for people to respond to God. I don't want to close doors on that by saying "everybody stand and sing".

I feel like our Responding Time is one of the ways that our church strives to embrace a more emergent theology of worship. We have moved away from the typical songleader approach to worship and have attempted to be more comprehensive. I think music still plays a huge role in our gatherings. But it is not the only role.


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

Church Survey

I created a survey for our church to take. I used Survey Monkey, which is a very easy way to make an online survey.

I started the survey with a number of demographic questions (age, gender, marital status...) And then asked a short series of open ended questions. I based the open ended questions on what is called a SWOT analysis, or Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. This is an analysis used by many organizations to aid in decision making, strategy formulation, etc.

I sent an email out to our database today with a link to the survey. In less than 8 hours the survey had been completed over 100 times. I was a little surprised by that.

The reason I have felt so strongly about doing a survey is that I have been a little frustrated with my own decision making process. My decision making in the past has been based on anecdotal evidence. Someone makes a comment, or someone says they have "heard" comments. That sort of thing. Then I pray about the comments, and listen for God, and try to think about a course of direction to address the comments. But that is not a very good way to make decisions! I really have no idea how many people would have similar comments. No idea how much of a problem the problem really is. Just hearsay and good intentions. But no real evidence.

So I'm hoping that this preliminary survey will at least give myself and the leadership a sense of what the real issues are. Then I plan to do a follow up survey that addresses each of those issues more in depth. That way we will have a good sense of what people are really thinking and feeling, why they have stayed, why they have left, why they serve, why they don't, what they need, what they desire, and how best we as leaders and as a church can serve them.

Of course I am under no illusion that this survey is the be all end all. It won't solve all our problems. But its a step in the right direction. One of many steps we need to take as we grow and mature as a church. I am still amazed that we are only four years old! God is good!


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

The Role of Women

Here's my take on the gender issue.

There is a body of scripture that seems to indicate that there is a difference between the roles that women and men have in the church (as well as in family, marriage, life.. but we'll stick to church). I agree that scripture teaches that there is a difference.

Now, what to do about that difference. Some churches interpret these passages to mean that women can do "nothing" in the church. These churches know their Bibles and their leaders have gone to Seminary, and somehow they have come to that conclusion.

At the other end of the continuum, some churches interpret these passages to mean that there is no difference at all. That women can have any role in a church, or even denominational leadership roles over 100s of churches. I believe that this is disregarding the Bible's teaching that there is a difference.

So, we are left with a decision. Where on that continuum do we choose to draw a line. Do we draw it down close to the fundamentalist churches who won't even let women ushers pass communion trays to men? Or do we draw it somewhere closer to those churches who say there is no difference at all?

My opinion (that's all it is), is that I would like to draw a line that gives women as much leadership and responsibility in the church as possible, that utilizes their gifts to the fullest possible extent, while still honoring the difference that scripture teaches.


So I choose to draw that line at Elder. I find no descriptions of women Elders in scripture, and I do find prescriptions that Elders be men. I believe drawing the line at Elder is the best way to give women as large a role as possible without thumbing our nose at the Bible.

My 2 cents.


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

"Why?", I ask. "Why?"

"Why should the devil have all the good music?"

Larry Norman


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

Iron Maiden

Worship was incredible today. I don't know exactly why. Maybe because it was Mark's last day playing bass with us. Kind of emotional. And we did an old worship song that we never do, Shout to the Lord. Part of me doesn't like to do it because its old. But that is so wrong! Its an awesome song. I hadn't played it in at least a couple years. Its wierd to have songs like that, that I used to feel were cutting edge and contemporary... now they're like classics. Shout to the Lord is like a hymn.

I've been wanting to break out a few more hymns. We do Blessed Assurance somewhat randomly. I love that it is in 9/8! There is a song by Iron Maiden called "Revelations" on their Piece of Mind album that is actually an old hymn. Its on page 484 of the old United Methodist Hymnals (circa 1985ish). The words go:

O God of earth and altar
Bow down and hear our cry
Our earthly rulers falter
Our people drift and die
The walls of gold entomb us
The sword of scorn divides
Take not Thy thunder from us
But take away our pride

THAT IS AWESOME! Hymns are so cool. And I must admit that Iron Maiden made this one ROCK. If you know the song, you know what I mean. Is it ok for a pastor to say that Iron Maiden inspires him? They do. I wanna make hymns ROCK!


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

Fort Building

My four year old son Luke and I have been building a fort in the park by our house. We built a lean-to between two trees big enough for three or four people to crawl inside. It's covered with branches and leaves and ferns. We play firehouse and build firefighting equipment out of sticks.

Sometimes I wish I was four again. Luke asks to go to that fort everyday. He loves it there. I tell him someday someone might tear it down. I hope they don't. He just replies that we'll build a better one. That we will.

It's better than any fort I was ever able to build as a kid. I always wanted a fort like this one. Deep in the woods, big enough to play in, almost keeps the rain out (we're still working on that!). I have so much fun playing with Luke there. Even Joshua our two year old loves it. Peg cooked pizza and brought it to us one afternoon. We ate in the fort. That was cool.

What is it about boys and forts? Why the fascination? Luke would rather play at the fort than go to the playground. Something about ownership I guess. And dirt. It's like a castle, a refuge, a secret... But he invites everyone he sees to come look at it. Even old men walking their dogs. Sometimes they come. They love it too. Something about forts.

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

I'm Back

It is really challenging to stay up to date with this blog. But I have been inspired by my friends Steve and Logan to get back into the swing of this. Their blogs are awesome! I could read their stuff all day long. I'll post links to them here when I get back to my desktop.

I'm in the middle of a recording project with my band right now. We've got drum and bass tracks down for about eight songs, and Russ and I did some listening today and talked about what we liked, what worked, what didn't, where to go from here, all that. Its really tough to listen to stuff objectively, when there is so much creativity and emotion wrapped up in the songwriting process. My mind goes in a million directions. How do I want it to sound, what parts need to be added, how should the dynamics flow, what should be cut, should it be simple, should it be deep, blah, blah, blah.

Most importantly, I'm really struggling with "what is the purpose of this?" "Why are we recording these songs?" What's the goal?"

One of the songs is a remake of "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus". I wrote new lyrics for the verses and added a bridge, and changed the chord progression and melodies and whatnot. The lyrics in the bridge say:

So I won't look for glory, or fortune, or fame
I'll look to the heavens and call on Your name

And I was thinking about that. I MEAN that. Lately I have not been eager to make my music known. I haven't done any semi-real recording in a long time. I haven't tried to play lots of gigs. I haven't pursued much of anything outside of leading worship at church, and doing church type events. I know some people have been frustrated by that. I've been fielding requests for years now... Ken, when are you guys going to record? To be honest, I just haven't wanted to. Its a lot of work, a lot of time investment, and I'm not really sure of the purpose. I DON'T want this to be about my own ego. I DON'T want to pursue a record deal, or become a famous worship guy. I don't want to tour and play Passion festivals and worship conferences. I don't want to sell records and make money.

Because all of that would be bad for me. I know my own pride and ego would get in the way. It would start to become about me, and how talented I am, and how unique I am, and look at me, I'm a big star. Look at how God is using me. Aren't I special? He picked the right guy when He picked me!

I don't want that. So for years I've been avoiding doing anything that might appear like I am trying to seek my own success. And yet, now I am recording. And I don't know why. What are we going to do with this CD once its done? Sell it? Promote it? Shop it? Give it away? Hide it? I don't know.

What is God going to do with it? What is He going to ask us to do with it? Am I going to say "yes" to Him? I'm not even sure if He has asked us to record this at all.

What a rambling mess this post has become. I'm listening for God on this one.


Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry