Is it just my wife and I who wonder about this?  Does anyone else feel a bit of guilt lying to their kids about Santa? Our almost-6 year old has been thinking about this and has asked us a few point blank questions such as “Are all the Santas we see real Santas?”

My wife and I have had discussions about how to approach the whole Santa deal. A friend of ours was pretty adamant that pretending Santa comes and gives presence to the kids is blatently lying to your kids – which I agree with. But then I guess the question is, is it OK to lie about Santa? I’m not so sure. Will our kids resent us when they find out we’d been lying to them all along about Santa or will they not have the maturity to think that way? It seems like most kids realize that it was just a fun ruse that Mom and Dad did to make Christmas more fun.

We haven’t landed on a firm Santa policy yet but are running out of time. One idea is to just be up front about Santa being pretend – and that it’s a fun thing to make believe that Santa is real and delivers gifts to us.

We just think its odd that at Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and then lie to our kids about a make believe Santa Clause who comes into our house and rewards “good” kids with presence.

How have you approached Santa Clause in your family?

The Technium: 1,000 True Fans

Thank you to my friend Andy for sending me this link. Interesting idea, 1000 True Fans. Basically, it proposes that if you have 1000 True Fans you can make a living in your niche. For me, that would probably mean music. It sure is a tempting venture to pursue.

My musical pursuits have been interesting throughout my life. When I was in high school I actually used to pray that I would get to be in a Christian band some day. After a year or so in music ministry it dawned on me that I play in a (more or less, cover) band every week. My prayer came true.

I won’t deny that time to time I daydream about what it would be like to be a full-time performer. It would so work for me, too. My wife doesn’t work and our kids our homeschooled so they could all come with me (if my family couldn’t join me, there’d be no deal)

To be honest, for me to pursue a music career right now would be self-serving. I can say for certain that God isn’t giving me any hint that He wants me to pursue a music career – even a side hobby career. For now, I’ll continue to explore things like this blog, my other blog, and above all, obedience to God because I did, after all, make him in charge of my life.

I’m not naive, though. I’ve had many people over the years make comments to me that have made me confident that God has gifted me in a way to use music to minister to people. That is also a tempting venture to pursue. But I need to make sure my motives are right and that I’m not just trying to be popular. Or do things so people will compliment me and make me feel good about myself. God gave me my gifts to serve others and He will be the one to take care of my and my family’s needs. I’m pretty sure that’s what Jesus meant when He said seek first the Kingdom of God.

In the coming year I have some ideas to use my gifts to share with others over the internet. So for my 3 True Fans, stay tuned!

As a worship leader I preview a good amount of Christmas music to use in our services. Over the years there have been a few that I always come back to. Here are three of my favorite slower songs for Christmastime.

Mary’s Prayer by Bebo Norman.
Sleep baby Jesus
Close your weary eyes
Hide yourself in faithful dreams
Before yo live yor life
Slip away to heaven
And rest in gentle peace
Never to awaken
The Lord your soul to keep

Cause your feet will walk on water
Your eye will pierce the dark
Your heart will save the souls of men
Your hands will bear the scars

Sleep baby Jesus
For now your time has come
To heal the wounded leper
To calm the raging storm
With perfect steps of perfect grace
You leave behind your fear
And walk along these dusty roads
Though your fate is clear

‘Cause your feet walk on water
Your eyes pierce the dark
Your heart will save the souls of men
Your hands will bear the scars

Sleep baby Jesus
My Father and my child
Beneath this broken cross of sin
Stained with men’s denial
And though you now are breathless
With thorns upon your head
Your body has been broken
So your children can be fed

‘Cause your feet have walked on water
Your eye have pierced the dark
Your heart as saved the souls of men
Your hands now bear the scars

A Cradle Prayer by Rebecca St. James.
Jesus I love you my Lord my life
Where would I be without you
Here in the quiet, the still, the night
I am in awe of you

Trials may come and friends they may go
What really matters is you my Lord

Beautiful Savior my God, my friend
I am in awe of you
Lord I am in awe of you

Trials may come and friends they may go
What really matters is you my Lord

Jesus I love you my Lord my life
Where would I be without you
Here in the quiet, the still, the night
I am in awe of you

Why would you, Creator and King
Come as a baby for all, for me

Beautiful Savior, my God, my friend
I am in awe of you
I am in awe of you

Welcome To Our World by Chris Rice.
Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting

Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child

Hope that you don’t mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home
Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven’s silence

Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born
So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy

Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world

In my final blog post tribute to Fourth Avenue, I share Fourth Avenue’s Promotional Video featured on their YouTube Channel. (They have a bunch of recent concert video footage posted there.)

Like I said, Fourth Avenue was a great experience. I traveled to about a dozen states (or more) and even got to travel to the Netherlands to sing on a new Holland-American cruise liner. (We were paid entertainment on the docked ship while VIPs toured the new vessel for 2 days.)

Check out If you’re interested in a cappella and supporting local artists, purchase the newest CD, High Energy Harmony. This was recorded live while I was still in the group and is a really good cd. And if you ever get a chance, check out Fourth Avenue in concert – they still put on a really great show!

While in Fourth Avenue we were asked to come back for a second commercial. I forgot to mention that in the first commercial we were officially “menacing urban youth”.  In this commercial we were supposed to be like a boy band (I think) – this was when boy bands were still hip!

This commercial was also shot in Columbus at a restaurant (obviously). I don’t think it got as much air play as the first one. It was pretty fun to be part of it. During this time we did a whole slew of school shows and we sang the jingle each time. It got kind of old but sort of made us a one-hit wonder in a way… Enjoy!

In light of the recent prime-time revival of a cappella I thought I’d do a shout out and a throw back to my vocal band days.

I spent 2001 to 2004 in a professional vocal band called Fourth Avenue.  I held the prestigious title of “tenor”.  This was an awesome experience and though the group formed in 1993, they are still together!  You can find out more at

One of the highlights of being in the group was our opportunity to make 2 commercials for Safe Auto.  You can watch the first one we made below.  We actually arranged and recorded our own version of the well-known jingle (which is what is heard on the commercial).  It was an interesting experience shooting the spot.  We shot it in Columbus, Ohio during the night.  Honestly, we spent most of our time sitting around in the trailer.  Enjoy!

Check out this article

How TV Affects Your Child: “its advantages, too much television can be detriment”

It’s way too easy to plop our kids in front of the TV. With our newborn and third child in the house, we’ve been doing this more often with our 5 and 3 year old. They’ve also gotten into and are constantly asking to be on the computer. Of course screen time has it’s positive advantages.  We can thank LeapFrog’s Letter Factory for helping our oldest learn her alphabet sounds and launch her into reading.  But too much screen time can reach a point of diminishing returns. No matter what, engagement with a window of light means a lack of human-to-human engagement, which is always by far the best life tool there is.  My wife and I even get sucked into the trap of vegging on the couch when we could be doing something a little more enlightening or relationship building.

Perhaps I need to get back on my Boycott TV kick.  Hmmm.  In my opinion, we’d all be better off if we trashed recycled our TVs.  I’m definitely preaching to myself as well since my wife and I love watching TV on and rent movies all the time.

I’ll close with the lyrics from the song “Throw it all Away” from one of my all time favorite groups, Toad the Wet Sprocket:

Throw It All Away
Lyrics by Glen Phillips.

take your cautionary tales
take your incremental gain
and all the sychophantic games
and throw ’em all away

burn your tv in your yard
and gather ’round it with your friends
and warm your hands upon the fire
and start again

take the story you’ve been sold
the lies that justify the pain
the guilt the weighs upon your soul
and throw ’em all away

tear up the calendar you bought
and throw the pieces to the sky
confetti falling down like rain
like a parade to usher in your life

take the dreams that should’ve died
the ones that kept your life awake
when you should’ve been all right
and throw ’em all away

with the time i waste on the life i never had
i could’ve turned myself into a better man

’cause there ain’t nothing you can buy
there is nothing you can save
to fill the hole inside your heart
so throw it all away
won’t fill the hole inside your heart

help me to empty out this house
all i’ve gathered all these days
and thought i couldn’t do without
and throw it all away

Ok, since I’ve started a theme here, I’ll throw in my last personal anecdote about homeless people.  I’ll then be all out and have to go out and create some more stories.

There’s a friend of mine, Tim, who works in Cincinnati.  Tim was regularly going through a certain part of town and started noticing these homeless people.  Out of compassion and Godly obedience, he felt he needed to do something for them so he started bringing them PB&J sandwiches.  He even got his Home Group involved.  Over time he developed relationships with these people and began to learn of other needs such as the need for gloves and sleeping bags.  We (our church) decided to do a video piece on his ministry.  Our media director was unavailable to shoot the footage so he asked me.

I travelled with Tim to Cincinnati and though I was behind the camera, I was able to meet some of Tim’s friends and interact with them.  One of the women was very grateful for the sleeping bags and said “We would have froze to death last night if you hadn’t brought us those sleeping bags”.  I remember sitting on the sidewalk with these folks as people in business attire walked by on the far side of the sidewalk.  I got a glimpse of homeless life. These people I met weren’t mentally ill (yes, some are).  They just fell on hard times and never recovered.

I have to tell you something.  When I think of that day, it makes so many things in my life seem like a useless wast of time.  Fortunately for my conscience, I keep busy enough to not think about people in dire need. You know, like changing the channel with sponsor-a-child commercials come on.  So I don’t feel so bad about wasting my money on coffee and wasting my time on YouTube.

But I have to ask myself as a church leader – even as a Worship Leader.  What is the point of all of this – church, sermons, worship experiences, home groups, etc., if we are not bringing peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches to homeless people?  Or if we are not inviting our shut-in neighbor over for dinner because he probably hasn’t had a conversation with a friend for 3 months.  Or if our hearts don’t break for every person we know of who is trapped in a dead-end life with no hope because they don’t know Jesus.

Like I said in my post about Jacob, in the moments of interaction with those homeless people, I felt God with me like no where else.  Wouldn’t that  make sense that God would be hanging out around these people in need just waiting for a Christian who is not so busy downloading the newest Chris Tomlin CD or writing a blog, to show up and offer their hands and feet for God to use?

How many homeless do you suppose die each day without notice of anyone but the local police?  My step-sister Gretchen may be able to give us the figure in L.A. where she’s studying social work.    I remember when Tim’s friend, Carl, died of cancer.  Tears were shed for him.  Hearts were broken for him.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s around, does it make a sound?

This is just a follow up anecdote to my recent post on the homeless guy.

A few months ago I was on my way to the office from a weekly breakfast meeting at the downtown Panera Bread.  As I was approaching the on ramp, I slowed down to a red light. I spotted a young, dirty and disheveled man panhandling and I quickly realized I would be stopping right next to him at the light. I did my quick visual assessment and was disarmed merely by the fact that this guy seemed to be the same age as me. In this situation I’m thankful that I acted without thinking.

I knew I had a few dollars in my pocket from breakfast so I grabbed for it as I started rolling down the window. I handed the young man the few dollars and without thinking asked him his name.  (Now, if you know me, this in itself was an act of God because I don’t initiate conversations with my own Mom let alone homeless strangers.)  He said his name was Jacob. I told him I would pray for him that day. He said thank you. The light changed and I was on my way. The whole interaction was about 15 seconds. That night and for a few days after we prayed for Jacob.

I drove away from that intersection feeling closer to God than I do leaving most worship services. I felt that in that moment God said to me “Yes! You’re getting the idea!” Everything about that moment felt right.

The following week I looked for Jacob and I was all ready with a sack of food from Panera – but he was nowhere to be found. I instantly regretted not going immediately back to Panera to get him some food that day we met.  I’m sure I will never see him again.  I wouldn’t know where to even start looking.

I do, however, know where to go looking for God should I need to find Him.