Vertical THEN Horizontal [Part 4/4]

Now we come back to our original question from 3 blogs ago:

Could it be that our horizontal relationships with each other are jacked up because our vertical relationship with God is jacked up?

To that I would like to add this supplemental question:

If our relationship with God gets right, could our relationships with each other get right?

To both of those questions I would have to respond YES… but don’t take my word for it. Check out this passage of scripture for yourself.

“If anyone boasts, ‘I love God,’ and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.”

This scripture is taken from 1 John 4:20-21 (MSG). The idea is pretty simple. Love God. Love People. You can’t do one without the other therefore you’ve got to do both. Nowhere in this scripture did it say that loving people would be easy, it just said that you have to do it. I’ve learned over the years that you can love people, but you don’t have to like everything that they do. Part of the human condition is that we mess up from time to time (to time to time to time). Sometimes that can make loving people really difficult, BUT your love for God has to supercede all of that.

Jesus stated it simply in John 14:15 (NIV): “If you love me, keep my commands.”

How about that. Yet another simplistic thought to apply to our everyday living. So if you’re having trouble loving those individuals around you that just constantly and consistently get under, over, in, through, and up in your skin, then I would suggest that you check your vertical relationship with God first because your horizontal relationships on Earth are important.

We’re not on this Earth alone which must mean that WE NEED EACH OTHER, but don’t forget that the proper order in relationships is vertical (with God) THEN horizontal (with each other).

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Vertical THEN Horizontal [Part 3/4]

In the previous blog, we discovered how Adam and Eve messed up in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). The relationship from that point with God was damaged. Didn’t mean that God didn’t continue to love both Adam and Eve, but the relationship status had definitely changed to “It’s Complicated”. Now think about this. God TRUSTED Adam and Eve to follow His command and NOT eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We can deduce that God TRUSTED them because in the first part of Genesis 3:8 (MSG) it says that God was “strolling in the garden in the evening breeze”. To me, this indicates that at some point God was coming BACK to check on Adam and Eve ultimately TRUSTING them to do what He said.

When God’s TRUST in Adam and Eve was broken, the relationship became damaged. So is it any wonder why in our modern day and age that we commit so many resources to finding, mending, or breaking up relationships?

Enter in reality television; the visually broadcasted microcosm of modern day relationships. For those of you who watch reality television shows, think about how many of these events you’ve seen:

Arguments?
Backbiting?
Bickering?
Deception?
Desire for another person’s stuff?
Desire for another person’s spouse or significant other?
Envy?
Fakeness?
Fights?
Immorality?
Lies?
Phony-ness?
Sex?
Shade? (apparently a new term on the block)

…so on and so forth…

It’s not to say that’s the case in every reality TV show everytime, but let’s keep it real. Drama keeps the ratings up and all of the events listed above pretty much equal DRAMA! And for those who may think that reality TV is scripted, I’d be inclined to agree with you… but only to a certain point. I agree that the situations may be staged, but the human interaction is more than likely real because it’s in our “human” nature to give a “human” response even in a staged situation.

But the bigger question is how many of those events are a result of underdeveloped relationships where TRUST is just a word and not a real factor?

Don’t believe the whole “underdeveloped relationships” theory? Allow me to cite precedence. Do you remember this famous reality TV show intro?

“This is the true story… of seven strangers… picked to live in a house… work together and have their lives taped… to find out what happens… when people stop being polite… and start getting real… The Real World.”

Why would seven strangers ever have a reason to TRUST one another? Sounds to me like this starts off with no relationship moving towards an underdeveloped relationship and possibly ending with either (1) a tolerable relationship, (2) an awesome relationship, (3) or no relationship at all (topped off with hatred sprinkles and grudge sauce).

But look at where the relationship starts. Being that the intro credits DON’T say “This is the true story… of seven God fearing, Bible believing, commandment following strangers…” that definitely starts the relationship behind the 8-ball. So I invite you to watch/listen to the intro credits on your favorite reality TV show and see if you can determine whether or not God is/will be in any of it. That will indicate what kind of “relationships” you’re about to observe for about an hour.

Stay tuned. More to come…

(And I’m not picking on “The Real World”. Just using it as an established example.)

Vertical THEN Horizontal [Part 2/4]

So what do “relationships” have to do with “reality television”? Moreso than that, what does all this have to do with our vertical relationship with God?

Glad you asked. I counter your questions with this reality television script. Check this out:

Father: “Stevie? Stevie? Where are you?”

Stevie: “Oh heeeeey Daddy… so wha ha happened was… I heard you coming through the garden and I got scared because I didn’t have any clothes on… so I hid behind the bushes.”

Father: “Stevie… who exactly told you you didn’t have any clothes on? Did you eat from that tree I told you NOT to eat from?”

Stevie: “Now hold up. This chick Laura that YOU gave me as a girlfriend gave me some bad fruit and sure I ate it but it wasn’t REALLY my fault.”

Father: “Laura?… What have you done?!?!?!?”

Laura: “Ummm… I mean… yeah… I ate the fruit… but it was really a talking snake that tricked me into thinking that the fruit was good to eat… so I ate it… but it really wasn’t my fault either.”

…and scene.

Do you see the makings of a reality television show here? Naked people? Forbidden fruit? The constant blame game where everybody is “justified” in their actions but nobody is accepting the blame for their actions? Well, in case you didn’t know, this scene is a treatment from Genesis 3:9-13–also known as the scripture passage where man messed up paradise on Earth… also known as the original sin.

(just replace “Father” with “God, “Stevie” with “Adam”, and “Laura” with “Eve” and add lots of “thee’s”, “thine’s”, and “thoses-es”)

If you continue reading that chapter, you’ll see where God passes judgement on Adam and Eve for what they did. Ultimately, the rest of the Bible from that point all the way to the Revelation of John on the Isle of Patmos, is the attempt to get back in right standing and right RELATIONSHIP with God.

Stay tuned. More to come…

Vertical THEN Horizontal [Part 1/4]

Could it be that our horizontal relationships with each other are jacked up because our vertical relationship with God is jacked up?

…is the premise that I came to when I was working on this 4-part blog series. I’ve actually been thinking about writing this for a while, but didn’t quite know where to start. Therefore, I will take you through the process, how I arrived to this question, and my thoughts on an answer. The process simply starts here:

I WATCH TV!

Granted, I don’t watch a whole lot of TV because of my schedule, but when I’m home I do like to kick back, relax, and watch a little mind-numbing television. In small doses, it’s ok. As my Uncle would say “Everybody needs a ‘Gomer Pyle’ in their life.” Often times I watch TV with my wife which is a mix of reality television, medical dramas, or scripted shows. If it were up to me it would either be something funny, animated, historical, or science/science fiction. We’re definitely different in our selection of television shows, but the shows that catch my attention the most are the reality TV shows.

Have you ever heard of the phrase “variations on a theme”? That’s what reality shows are to me. You might ask the question “Well, if there’s one common theme between ALL reality TV shows, then what is it? I can’t see how Real Housewives of Atlanta is related to Teen Mom or Preacher’s Daughters or Flava of Love or Preachers of LA or Basketball Wives.”

Glad you asked. In my opinion, the common theme is simple. Relationships.

Stay tuned. More to come…

I Love My Wife [Part 2/2]

Musicians are a unique breed when it comes to relationships because, much like other professionals/experts, musicians fall under the general rule of “the thing that you study/focus on the most tends to be the thing you build your life around”. Where that mindset is concerned, I can honestly group musicians into the same category as doctors and lawyers. They’re good at what they specifically do and they’re good at what they specifically do for a specific reason.

While that’s a great thing (because, Lord knows, we need more people who know what they’re doing in every field), the other side of the spectrum, when it comes to relationships, can be tumultuous (awww yeah… finally used that SAT word after all these years). Don’t take my word for it. Think about every famous musician you know of and think about whether or not their personal lives are all that great. I can’t help but think of movies like “What’s Love Got To Do With It” or “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” or “The Five Heartbeats” or “Dreamgirls”, etc.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’ve either (1) messed up pleeeeeeeeenty of relationships or (2) been in plenty of messed up relationships. My constant fallback was “Well… at least Jesus still loves me and I still have my music”. The thing with that line of thinking is that if you clam up, you’ll miss out. Relationships go sour all of the time whether you’re a musician, doctor, lawyer, or anything else. You’re human and since the beginning of time humans have been working at this thing called “trying to get along with one another”. You don’t want to let one bad professional or personal relationship ruin it for all of your potential future professional or personal relationships.

If I can offer some advice to all of my fellow musicians out there… don’t get so caught up in the glamour of what you do that you overlook or ignore the authenticity of who others are to you. There are people out there who genuinely like/love you for you who are whether you can play an instrument or not.

And to my wife… 143.

What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.

I Love My Wife [Part 1/2]

I know this is a blog that centers mostly around music, but I would be remissed if I did not mention one of my major sources of musical inspiration here on this blue planet we call Earth. You know the old saying “Behind every great man there is a great woman”? Well, from my perspective I can tell you that I have a great woman right behind me. My wife has not only been one of my biggest fans, but she exudes a level of love, patience, perspective, and balance that can only come from God. For all of the rehearsals, studio sessions, gigs, concerts, workshops, teaching engagements, late nights, early mornings, etc, she has been right there to support me and for that I am truly thankful.

As a musician, I’ve seen a lot of sides of the relationship scale. The good… the bad… the ugly… and everything in-between. The “good” is always great, but the “bad and ugly” sides are, unfortunately, the best teachers. It’s hard to look at “bad and ugly” as a good thing, but when it gives you the insight to know who’s got your back and who doesn’t, you can look at “bad and ugly” in a good light. It’s all necessary in order to develop real relationships as a musician. Additionally, it helps you to determine and define your “professional” relationships versus your “personal” relationships. It’s not to say that there can’t be some gray area there (because there always is), but I will say that I’ve confused the two often enough to know first hand that if the relationship goes bad it’s a hard lesson.

I’m not a relationship expert, and will never claim to be, but I will say that for the personal relationships built on “you the person” and not “you the musician”, those are the ones worth keeping because those people will tell you the loving truth… to your face… repeat it multiple times if necessary… be ready to fight if you get mad… be ready to give you a tissue if you decide to cry… and still love you afterwards. To me, those are the people worth keeping in your life. It’ll often be a very short list, but a cherished list… and who knows… you may end up marrying one of those people on that very short list… much like I did.

And to my wife… 143.

What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.