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

>sent via blackberry

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

>sent via blackberry

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

>sent via blackberry

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