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


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


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