No Training Wheels!!

Kasen learned to ride tonight with no training wheels! He’s been trying for about a week, but it all came together tonight. This is his second ride. (We missed the first ’cause Miranda had to run in the house to get the camera.)

Here’s another a few minutes later.

Throne Together Story & Downloads

Jon Eichler's Wedding Pics

A request before my post: If Throne Together impacted you in some significant way, please post a comment below. I’d love to pass on some of your stories to the band. Now I’ll continue with my post.

I was at a wedding a little while back (Congrats Jon Eichler!) that made me start thinking about the band I used to play in – Throne Together. At the wedding Jon Godbold and I took a few pics in honor of the band – that’s probably what made me start remembering. Anyway, there’s no way to describe the impact that “Throne Together” had on me, so I figured I needed to write something to try to capture a part of it.

Story

A Start:

“Throne Together” was originally organized as the worship band for a Saturday Night service which Mike Mathews (Pastor @ TUMC) wanted to start. We got the band together and began practicing. Most of us had never played in a band before but we were having so much fun that we just kept working. Meanwhile the Saturday Night service start date kept getting pushed back so I talked Mike into letting us play one Sunday morning as a special event. Although it stirred up some trouble for him, Mike decided that he wanted us to begin playing every other Sunday morning and so we did.

Saturday Night:

When the service finally started we had grown into a full fledged band and adopted the name “Throne Together” from Jeremiah 3:17 “We come to the throne together for worship.” We rehearsed during the week, and played for the Saturday Night service as well as every other Sunday morning. It was during this time that the “Worship Wars” began at Tomball UMC. Although many loved the addition of the band to their traditional service, some church members weren’t too happy about it. Along with Mike Mathews, we became the target of much criticism. It was a tough time but it was also an incredible time. In spite of the critical people, we were also riding the waves of excitement among our supporters. The persecution only served to bind us together and solidify the sense of purpose we had in following the calling we felt to find new ways to express our own gratitude and relationship to God. Throne Together became a sort of family to one another. We took care of each other and supported each other. Our weekly rehearsals became a sort of small group. We studied all kinds of books (usually about worship) and together, we all grew closer to God. We hung out together outside of church. We were friends. (and still are)

Recording/Gigs

We tried to find places to play outside of church as much as possible. Each year we spent a full week playing for the Texas Conference NW District Camp for about 400 High School students. These times became important for us as they allowed for us to have extended practices and lots of shared time to hang out and simply grow together. There was also a young man named Charles Jones who would sit in with us on the piano. All he needed to know was the key we would play in and he’d just jam away. (Charles is now a professional musician living in LA. He was in the movie “Dreamgirls” and plays with John Mayer, Jonny Lang, Jennifer Hudson, etc.) Playing at “camp” also allowed us to bring a few extra people along. We always had someone to run sound/video (Evan Godbold, Zach McNair, Jon Eichler, Ryan Floro, Jarrod Ambrose) for us during our worship times. Many of these “extras” eventually became musicians themselves and ended up serving in other bands and ministries. We also played pretty regularly at “His Word” Christian Bookstore/Coffeehouse where our church members would come out to support us in great numbers. One of those nights a young man named “Todd Agnew” opened up for us. (He eventually went on to have quite a bit of success himself.) Another yearly gig we had was playing for the Susanna Wesley Day School Fall Festival. Those were great times ’cause we got to play outside and let our hair down a little bit. Things were very laid back and we could experiment a bit. One of our greatest compliments actually came from one of those gigs. One young boy told his mom that we weren’t really playing and it was a recording. Also by the way, we put together a group called the “Four Tune Hunters” to play for one of the first Fall Festivals which included Jon Godbold, myself, Terry Crump, and Kurt Narum. This may very well have been the beginning of Throne Together as it brought Jon and I together to collaborate.

We recorded two CDs during our time together. “Knock Just a Little” was released in 2000 and “The Return” in 2002. Although there were a few exceptions, Jon Godbold was our main songwriter. He would bring a song to the band and then we’d collaborate a bit to figure out song structure and add musical ideas to his foundation. The songs reflected many of the feelings and thoughts that we were experiencing together. Those were fun days. We recorded in a home studio with the leadership/production expertise of one of our great friends – Mike Briscoe. Kristy, his bride was also very gracious to allow us to invade her home so regularly during those times. Mike is an incredible musician himself. If you ever have an opportunity, check him out.

Members

Original Members were:

Steve Corn – guitar, vocals
John Creed – bass
Buck Miller – drums
Eric Courville – electric guitar
Sarah Rampy – keys
Janice Stump – vocals
Leslie Morgan (Banatwala) – vocals
Shana Googer (Gumienny) – vocals

It wasn’t long before John Creed moved away and so Jon Godbold reluctantly joined the “church band” as our new bass player. Shana Googer, Janice Stump, and Sarah Rampy also moved away. We chose not to replace them, but eventually found Chip Leitschuh to play keys. These changes brought us to what would become the backbone of the group.

Backbone Members

Steve Corn – guitar, vocals
Jon Godbold – bass, vocals
Buck Miller – drums
Eric Courville – electric guitar, vocals
Chip Leitschuh – keys
Leslie Morgan (Banatwala) – vocals, flute
Shana Googer (Gumienny) – vocals – always a part of the group when she was in town

Tragedy struck the band when Buck died of an accidental overdose with a bad combination of prescription drugs. Other than family, I was the first to arrive on the scene that night. Buck’s son, Dustan Thrift was in Hawaii working as a trainer for the SMU football team and his mom asked me to call to give him the bad news. It was a tough night to say the least.

Eric eventually stepped out and Leslie and I moved away.

Third generation of players

After Buck died and Eric left, we had a lot of instrumental shoes to fill. Luckily, many of our original fans had grown into musicians themselves and so Josh Cook and Dale Googer took on semi-permanent roles. We also discovered Chris Montes during this time and were trying to figure out why God would send us another acoustic guitar player/vocalist when we really needed an electric player?? Once God revealed his plan to move me, it all became clear. Chris took my place and was able to lead them to become much better musicians. Here’s the last line-up:

Chris Montes – guitar, vocals
Jon Godbold – bass, vocals
Dale Googer – drums
Josh Cook – electric guitar, vocals
Chip Leitschuh – keys
Shana Googer (Gumienny) – vocals

Other Short-Term or Guest Members include:

Ray Victor – soprano sax, drums
Patti Mathews – vocals
Dan Johnson – drums
Keith Cathcart – keys, vocals
Evan Godbold – vocals, bass, guitar
Hans Googer – guitar
Josh Gumienny – guitar, vocals
Zach Godbold – bass, vocals
Andrew Gay – electric guitar
Charles Jones – piano at church camp

According to Jon, one of the very last line-ups was what he called “Throne in the Greenhouse.” At their final District Camp the members of Throne Together (Chris, Jon, Chip, Shana) joined forces with those from “Greenhouse Effect” (Zach, Dale, Josh, Andrew Gay). Jon says it was “loud of full of energy.”

Impact

The impact of Throne Together is tough to describe. We were mentioned in the Cy Falls High School Yearbook as one of their students favorite bands. (That may be our highest official honor.) The entire community of believers at Tomball UMC was directly impacted each Sunday as they were led in worship. (Some would say it was a horrible impact.) Throne Together was also a part of a beautiful movement of the Spirit during those days. Quite possibly the greatest impact was eventually seen in the number of young people (once fans) who would go on to be involved in worship music themselves. There have been quite a few worship bands who were formed from the ranks of Throne Together fans. Even more interesting is to watch the 3rd Generation of bands – people who were impacted by people who were impacted by Throne Together. There’s no way to know how many people have been touched by all these musicians, but I feel confident in saying that God rejoices over them all. And I feel humbled and blessed to have been able to be a part of it.

If Throne Together impacted you in some significant way, please post a comment below.


CD downloads

Each download below includes entire CD. All songs + a Digital Booklet which was created from the original artwork. These files are large (high quality) and will take a while to download. Just right click and select “save as” to download.

Download “Knock Just a Little” here:

Knock Just a Little.zip

Track listing:
Knock Just a Little
Everlasting King
Motel 7
When I Fall Away
Show Me Your Face
The Way You Lead
Need
Not Long For This World
Wish
Begin to Understand
Whirlwind

Download “The Return” here:

The Return.zip

Track listing:
All for You
Inside Out
Hasten the Day
If
Breaking Free
Everything You Do
Prepare the Way
Just a Little While Longer
Take You In
The Return
Fade Away

Download some previously Unreleased Tracks here:

Unreleased Tracks.zip

Track listing:
Fade Away Lullaby (altered lyrics)
(changed for Steve’s son Kasen)

All for You (Cheesy Techno Mix)

Happy Song (live @ His Word)

All I Want (live @ His Word)

Things I Prayed For (live @ His Word)

Troop Carrier or Luxury Liner?

In his book Radical, David Platt writes:

In the late 1940s, the United States government . . . construct[ed] an 80 million dollar troop carrier for the navy. The purpose was to design a ship that could speedily carry fifteen thousand troops during times of war. By 1952, construction on the SS United States was complete. The ship could travel at forty-four knots (about fifty-one miles per hour), and she could steam ten thousand miles without stopping for fuel or supplies. She could outrun any other ship and travel non-stop anywhere in the world in less than ten days. The SS United States was the fastest and most reliable troop carrier in the world.

The only catch is, she never carried troops. At least not in any official capacity. . .

Instead the SS United States became a luxury liner for presidents, heads of state, and a variety of other celebrities who traveled on her during her seventeen years of service. As a luxury liner, she couldn’t carry fifteen thousand people. Instead she could house just under two thousand passengers. Those passengers could enjoy the luxuries of 695 staterooms, 4 dining salons, 3 bars, 2 theaters, 5 acres of open deck with a heated pool, 19 elevators, and the comfort of the world’s first fully air-conditioned passenger ship. Instead of a vessel used for battle during wartime, the SS United States became a means of indulgence for wealthy patrons who desired to coast peacefully across the Atlantic.

Things look radically different on a luxury liner than they do on a troop carrier. The faces of soldiers preparing for battle and those of patrons enjoying their bonbons are radically different. The conservation of resources on a troop carrier contrasts sharply with the opulence that characterizes the luxury liner. And the pace at which the troop carrier moves is by necessity much faster than that of the luxury liner. After all, the troop carrier has an urgent task to accomplish; the luxury liner, on the other hand, is free to casually enjoy the ship.

The SS United States = The American church

Unfortunately, most churches in America resemble the luxury liner. Although God designed us to carry soldiers into battle, we’ve become more interested our own comforts during the journey – so much so that we’ve actually quit moving toward the battle! When you attend a service at the average church in America, you typically hear more about the programs/amenities you can find on the ship than you do about the mission which is ahead. I guess it is what they say it is: a service. Like the staff on a cruise ship, the church is there trying to serve it’s patrons/members. Unfortunately, those members are there selfishly “getting fed” and consuming those services when they should be thinking in terms of being transformed/trained by the Gospel so they can accomplish the mission of “serving the world” with the Gospel.

To borrow a phrase from James, “My brothers, this should not be so.” (James 3:10)

On the other hand, what if the church was coming together to equip it’s members/troops to take ground for the Kingdom of God? What if we didn’t have “services” but “training exercises?” What if we removed the luxuries from the church and focused on the mission? What if we saw our ultimate goal as sending troops into the world rather than catering to the whims of our members? What would it take to convert the luxury liners that we have into troop carriers again? What organizational changes do we need in order to make quick, in-the-heat-of-battle decisions? If we were to return to our “troop-carrying calling,” would the church be able to accommodate 15,000 soldiers who shared space as opposed to 2,000 patrons fighting for position and space? If we focused on this calling, would the church move at a faster pace unhindered by petty internal arguments?

Anyway, these were just a few of my thoughts after reading this section of Radical.

Quote: Try Different

“The usual mantra is to ‘try harder’. Trying harder is impossible when you’re already trying as hard as you can. But you can always try different. . . If it’s not working, harder might not be the answer.”

– Seth Godin, Try Different

I would also add this:

“Instead of working at it,
play with it.”

Check out this blog post too: Play

Rocks

My collection as it remains today.

As a kid, I collected rocks. The obsession followed me into adulthood and my first youth ministry job in Tomball. I think I like rocks, ’cause to me, they aren’t just rocks, they represent stories, times in my life, memories, etc. The movie “With Honors” also features a guy who collects rocks as symbols of his life. Anyway, I took a few pictures and thought I’d share a few of them with you guys. I’ll start with the oldest ones and move through my life:

Rose Rocks

As a child, my parents took us on all kinds of short little weekend trips where we could discover the world around us. I remember taking shovels to dig up salt crystals (Oklahoma Salt Plains) and collecting “rose rocks” another time. Although the salt crystals didn’t survive my childhood, I still have a few of the “rose rocks.” They will always represent my childhood and the adventures my family would take us on.

The first individual rock I remember finding and keeping was a piece of pyrite (also known as “fools gold”) in the bottom of a creek in Yellowstone National Park. I’m not sure if I really found it or if my dad dropped it in the water before I arrived, but nevertheless, I became a “rock hound” that day. It was the summer of 1978 and I was 8yrs old.

After that my collecting became more intentional. I also spent lots of $$ (well lots for a kid) buying polished rocks from every souvenir shop we ever entered. I also used my collecting as an excuse to hit my parents up for “rock candy” every chance I got.

Fossils from Meridian State Park

There are many more rocks I could show you, but these are quite possibly the most important. I found these fossils in Meridian State Park when I was in High School. These represent the greatest decision of my life. It was in that park that I began my relationship with Jesus Christ. I found them with my friend, Shayne Hackworth as we hiked around the lake with a group of friends. You just see rocks, but I can still picture the trail where we dug them up. I can still feel the weight of them in my pocket and remember the joy of my first days as a Christian. I’ll refrain from reminiscing more.

The next rock has a bit more of a story. When I was attending Texas A&M, I went on a canoeing trip with some great people from the Wesley Foundation. My friend Scott and I decided to climb the side of a cliff to crawl into a cave that we had seen. Once we were in, we couldn’t see the back of the cave, so we started throwing rocks to see if we could hear the back wall. One of the rocks slipped out of my hand and hit the ceiling which then crashed down in front of us. We realized then that the whole ceiling was crystal. We grabbed a few rocks and climbed out. I ended up using this rock many times throughout my Youth Ministry career to show students how the body of Christ works together. Each crystals fits perfectly with the others. Together, they make up the whole rock (Jesus is the Rock). If one crystal is removed, other crystals fall out. One time I was preaching and as I shared the story I dropped the stone on the ground in front of me. It broke. At first I was upset, but then I realized that the Body of Christ was broken for me too. Anyway, there’s are lots of great symbols in this one.

I found this rock on a beach in San Franscisco. I was with a group o youth ministers who were attending the National Youth Workers Convention. We had pooled our $$, rented a van, and taken a little trip to see the sites. I picked up this rock, cause I noticed the holes in it. Once I looked closer, I also noticed the small stone within one of those holes. I tried, but couldn’t dislodge the small stone from it’s position. If the rock is Jesus, then He was protecting that stone very well. It’s been at least 15yrs and that stone is still there. It remains because the larger stone remains. I think there’s a lesson in that for me. I will remain as long as I’m able to remain in in the hands of God.

The Fish Fossil was given to me by a student who was in the Youth Ministry in Tomball. Shane Sampson was the son of a science teacher and he and his dad actually dug this thing up. He contacted me on Facebook recently and to my surprise is very involved in doing ministry himself these days. He is an area director for Young Life – doing student ministry himself. This is not just a rock. It represents all the stories I’ve been able to hear from my ex-students about the things God is doing with them now.

I cannot speak of my rock collection without mentioning these. On January 3, 2004 I married my beautiful bride Miranda. We asked each of our guests to grab a stone as they entered the sanctuary. During the ceremony, we had them hold the stone and say a prayer for our marriage. You may see rocks, but I see prayers. I see friend and family who are encouraging us in our commitment to one another. I see hundreds of voices who joined together to request God’s intervention on our behalf. Our marriage has been great! The past year and my job/financial struggles have certainly tested us, but the truth is that we are probably stronger than ever in our love for one another. I believe these rocks are part of the reason why. Well, not really the rocks, but the prayers of our friends and family are priceless. They are able to touch us with God’s hand even when we don’t know we need a touch. This vase sits in our living room. I see them every day and I’m grateful for such amazing friends and reminders.

So there you have it. A few of the rocks in my collection. I have enjoyed this little walk through my life and hope somebody out there is actually still reading. (I probably should have started with my wedding rocks if I had wanted people to read about them, but. . .well, it is what it is.)

Singing Your Song

I am grateful for the people in my life who have been singing to me lately. They are reminding me of who I am. And quite honestly, I’ve been struggling with that a bit. I have needed singers in my life, and God has provided them for me. Let me explain:

The other day, I heard a story about a song. A story about identity. It is supposed to be true, but I can’t verify it. Either way, it’s got a great message. Here’s how it goes:

There is an African tribe where pregnant women go out into the wilderness with their friends to “hear the song of the child.” After hearing the song, they return and teach it to the tribe. When the baby is born, the whole tribe gathers to chant the song. As the child grows, he/she hears the whole tribe singing their song many times: when they start school, when they pass into adulthood, and when they get married. When they die, the tribe gathers around the death bed to sing them into eternity. Another time that the song is sung is when/if the child commits a crime or horrible act. The tribe calls them into the center of a circle and then sings their song to them – reminding them of who they are. It’s not sung with judgment, but with love and concern for the child who has forgotten who he is.

Alan Cohen (who I believe authored the original story) writes, “A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.”

I love the idea of reminding each other of our identity during those precious times of transition in our lives. And also when we have done something wrong, but I think there’s a crucial element missing in this story – Jesus. As a Christian, my identity is in Him, and Him alone. When I need to be reminded of my beauty, my wholeness, my innocence, and my purpose, I need to be reminded of Jesus. For I am only beautiful, whole, innocent, and given purpose as I find myself in Him. The “friend who knows my song and sings it to me” is Jesus. He knows me better than anyone and can remind me by speaking/singing through the voices of my brothers/sisters in Christ.

And for me, that’s exactly what He is doing in my life right now. I’m down and so He is using all my friends to remind me of who I am. My friends are singing to me and I am grateful to both them (the singers) and Jesus who is the one behind the song.


Other Stuff:

By the way, here’s a short list of what I know about my identity in Him: Who I Am in Christ

And here’s a song I wrote for my kids: Fade Away Lullabye

P.S. – If you’re interested in the original story I read, you can find it here: http://www.motivateus.com/stories/thesong.htm

Fruck in Fractor

Here are a few funny words that my kids use. I hope you’re not easily offended. (especially with the 1st one.)

Kasen:

“Fruck in Fractor” = “Truck and Tractor” – Example: As we drive down the highway, Kasen says, “Hey daddy! There’s another one “fruck in fractor.” (He also uses the phrase “another one” instead of just saying “another.”)

“Bwink” = “Drink” – Example: In his most whiny voice, “I wanna brink.”

“Yesday” = “Yesterday” but it also means any day that has already past. – Example: As we read a book about Jesus, Kasen says, “We saw Him yesday.” referring to the live nativity we saw this past Christmas.

“Chawket” = “Chocolate” – Example: “I want some chawket milk.”

“Yogurt” = “Ogre” – Example: “Daddy, Why Shrek is a yogurt?”

“Pissin” = “Fishing” – Example: “Daddy, get my biderman pissin pole.” (“biderman” = “Spiderman”)

“G-aired” = “Scared” – Example: When he’s stalling and trying not to go to bed, he says, “Daddy, I’m g-aired somebody.”

“Uh-wy-ee” = “Hawaii” – Example: “Daddy, we go kating in Uh-wy-ee someday?” (“kating” = “skating” which also = “surfing”)

“Opane” = “Airplane” – Example: “My opane is fying!” (“fying” = “flying”)

“Mintin” = “Mint” – Example: “Mommy, I want a mintin?”

“Meese” = “Please”

“Kee-in” = “Skiing” – Example: “Daddy is kee-in with mommy in that picture.”

“Pwate” = “Plate”

Kesleigh: (Isn’t too verbal just yet, but she’s learning more everyday.)

“Yeah – sssss” = “Yes” – Kesleigh used to say “Yeah” until Miranda began correcting her. Now she still says “Yeah” but then remembers and adds the “ssss” on the end.

“Rash” = “Trash” – Example: When Kesleigh finishes her gogurt, she grabs the wrapper and says, “rash” as she heads to the trash can.

“Icccccce” = “Ice” – She says it correctly, but hangs on the “sss” sound a little long. Example: Holding her cup up when I’m standing at the fridge, she says, “Iccccce.”

“Yight” = “Light” – She points to the light fixtures and says, “Yight.”

“Bubba” = “Brother”

“Case” = “Kasen”

In the Master’s Name

“All this we ask in the Master’s name. AMEN.” is a phrase I heard over and over as a kid – every time my family would sit down to eat. Both my parents ended their prayers with this phrase each and every night. I’m not sure if it was passed down to them or if they created it themselves, but. . . Well, I’m glad they used it. There’s just something about the way it rolled off their lips. To this day, I listen for it when my mom prays.

I wonder if there will be phrases that will remind my kids of the faith that I carry and cling to?? What will those phrases be?? Will I pass along a legacy of prayer and faith like my parents did??

PS: I asked my mom where the phrase originated, and she isn’t sure either. We’ve heard my grandmother, (mom’s mom) use it too, so our best guess is that it came from her side of the family. I wonder how far back it goes? Did my great grandmother use that phrase too? (Mom keeps forgetting to ask my grandmother, so I’m going to post this without knowing where it originated.)

Where am I Going?

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. There will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” – Thomas Merton

“I Want You”

We’ve been in the car a lot lately. Kasen and Kesleigh are pretty good travelers, but on our way back from Ft Worth recently, Kasen had a little meltdown. He was tired of being in his car seat, and kept repeating, “I want you.” to Miranda and I. It’s a phrase that he says quite often when he wants us to hold him, but the number of times he repeated it that day in the car was overwhelming. Sometimes we can get away with just holding his foot, but he was having nothing of it that day. By the end, he was screaming “I want you!!!” over our explanations of why he had to stay in his car seat. He asked. He cried. He yelled. He squirmed. He mumbled. He kicked. Whatever it took – he was willing to try anything to be with us. Unfortunately, for his safety we couldn’t allow it.

Do I scream “I want you!” to God like that? Am I willing to do whatever it takes to be with Him? When I feel trapped, do I cry to Him at all? Or do I just squirm around trying to get myself out of the mess on my own? When I do cry out to Him, what if He remains silent ’cause He sees some sort of danger or purpose that I can’t see?