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Being angry with God isn’t likely to change how He feels about you, but it sure does excite your demons.

One Voice

There is a place where it all comes together

your experience

your intuition

your gut level instincts

A place where your passion, and intellect sing with one voice

In that moment you just know

and it seems inevitable

It is the triumph of the human spirit

And in the end

it leads to death (Prov. 14:12)

The spirit of this age wants you to be angry

So that you’ll miss the joy that is your strength

The spirit of this age wants you to know that you’re a victim

So that you will be defined by the most painful moments of your life

The spirit of this age wants you to make your voice heard

So that the still small voice of God is drowned out

The spirt of this age wants you to fight for control

So that you will exhaust yourself chasing the unattainable

The spirit of this age wants you to be offended

So that you’ll withhold the grace that can change lives

The spirit of this age wants your hope invested in the wisdom of men

So that you can be crushingly disappointed again and again

The spirit of this age wants you to go to extremes

So that you’ll miss the straight pathway, which prepares the way of the Lord

The spirit of this age want you focused on what is seen

So that you’ll forfeit the provision that’s been made in the unseen realm

The spirit of this age has a narrative to fill your mouth

So that you will forsake speaking words of life

The spirit of this age wants you to be religious

So that you can feel righteous in your indignation

Eyes to See

You have given us eyes to see:

Beauty in midst of ashes

&

Value in those who’ve been discarded

&

Folly within our own hearts

*

You have given us eyes to discern:

The foolishness in what men call wisdom

&

The evaporating worth of temporal things

&

The emptiness of a life immersed in self

*

You have given us eyes to find:

Peace within the storm

&

Transformation through times of brokenness

&

Hope in seasons of tragedy

*

You have given us eyes to recognize:

The fear in the eyes of our oppressors

&

The inherent deceptiveness of human nature

&

Your fingerprints all around us

*

Let those who have eyes to see

See!

(Ezekiel 12:2)

Standing before His accusers, Jesus said not a word. That’s because silence is a perfectly appropriate response to a closed mind.

The Voice in the Closet is a collection of stories, poems, essays, lists, prayers, and thoughts that were inspired during times of prayer.  Taken together, they are effectually a prayer journal from almost two decades of walking with the Lord.  Volume 1 became available on Amazon today.  Volume 2 should be available in the coming weeks.

I’m not making a case that these are the five “greatest guitarists of all-time”, but they are my all-time favorites.

5.  Larry Carlton: 

Though Larry is a Jazz music legend, I am most familiar with his work with Steely Dan, which is nothing short of spectacular.  His fills are always tasteful, generally warm, and frequently remarkable.  Listen to the solo on “Kid Charlemagne” or his work on “Aja”, both by Steely Dan. 

4.  Stevie Ray Vaughan:

In his short but brilliant career, Vaughan created a catalog of memorable blues rock music that both paid homage to the classics and forged its own path forward.  His fluid playing woven into a raw vocal style created beautifully textured songs that stick to your soul.  Checkout his playing on “Riviera Paradise”.  

3.  Mark Knopfler:

Dire Straits was by no means a guitar driven band, but Mark Knopfler’s distinctive playing style was at the heart of their best music.  He was never showy or much on guitar solos, but his virtuosity was undeniable.  Checkout “Private Investigations” and/or “Telegraph Road”.

2.  Carlos Santana:

It is tempting to say Carlos is my all-time favorite.  His playing style is all his own, and it adds a savory tang to everything it touches.  It’s hard to pick a favorite, but “Europa” is a great place to start.

1.  Jimmy Page:

What makes Page standout for me is his ability to seamlessly shift from blues, to rock, to folk.  The sheer variety of his catalog is astounding.  Again, hard to pick just one, but “Since I’ve Been Loving You” jumps to my mind.

10 Underrated Classics

  1. Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd:  Though “Dark Side of the Moon”, and “The Wall” are undoubtedly the groups most iconic albums, die-hard fans often rank “Wish You Were Here” above them as the band’s finest work. 
  2. Aja – Steely Dan:  Despite being generally revered by Rock critics, Steely Dan’s albums are rarely mentioned amongst the all-time greats.  Arguably, “Aja” stands out as being one of the bands most cohesive projects.  Decades later, it sounds even better than when it was first released.
  3. Reggatta de Blanc – The Police:  While “Outlandos d’Amour” was a great introduction to this talented trio, it was “Reggatta de Blanc” which provided the first glimpse of the band’s spectacular potential.  It was a leap forward in style, songwriting, musicianship and production.
  4. Frontiers – Journey:  On the heels of the phenomenally successful “Escape” album, the band released this gem, which combined the best of that previous record with a heavier, more rock based sound.  While the former could be considered a pop record, with some rock underpinnings, the later was more of a rock record, with pop sensibilities.
  5. Bad Company – Bad Company: Formed from the remains of successful bands, “Free”, “Mott the Hoople” and “King Crimson”, Bad Company came out firing on all cylinders for their debut record.  Though this album contained numerous rock radio staples (e.g. Bad Company, Can’t Get Enough, Ready for Love, Movin’ On) and featured one of rock music’s best vocalists (Paul Rodgers), it is rarely acknowledged amongst rock’s elite records.
  6. In Utero – Nirvana:  There is no denying the massive impact the bands, “Nevermind” album had on the music industry, but in some ways that story has obscured the brilliance of their latter work.  With “In Utero” the band began to show its range, both musically and emotionally.  Tragically, their story was cut short before we got to see how far they could take it.
  7. One of These Nights – The Eagles:  The extraordinary success of 1976’s “Hotel California” didn’t exactly come out of nowhere.  1975’s “One of These Nights” was a number one album, featuring three top ten smashes, “One of These Nights”, “Take it to the Limit” and “Lyin’ Eyes”, which were each sung by a different lead vocalist.  Few records or groups have ever managed such a feat.
  8. Pieces of Eight – Styx:  The dynamic tension between Dennis DeYoung’s over the top pension for musical theater, and Tommy Shaw/James Young’s hard rock dreams came into perfect balance for the album, “The Grand Illusion” and on its breakout single, “Come Sail Away”.  But on the follow-up record, “Pieces of Eight” it was the duo of Shaw & Young who got to be the rock band they’d always wanted to be.  Unfortunately, the phenomenal success of the single, “Babe” from their next album, “Cornerstone” brought DeYoung back to the forefront, and marked the beginning of the end of the band’s straight ahead rock sound.
  9. Love Over Gold – Dire Straits:  Though it was not their best selling or highest charting album, “Love Over Gold” may be the band’s most artistically ambitious work.  The plaintive “Love Over Gold”, the haunting “Private Investigations”, and the sprawling, “Telegraph Road” create a soundscape that rivals the film scores that Mark Knopfler would eventually become famous for.
  10. Houses of the Holy – Led Zeppelin:  Though Led Zeppelin I, II & IV are most often featured on critics “best of” lists, “Houses of the Holy” features some of the bands strongest and most original work (e.g. The Rain Song, No Quarter, Over the Hills and Far Away, D’yer Mak’er).

In this era of digital downloads, the concept of a record album is somewhat lost.  Also referred to as an LP (long-playing), an album normally contained 10-12 songs, split into two sides.  Generally, you needed to like at least 3 songs on an album to justify paying the extra money as opposed to simply buying the single.  If you found a record with 5 or 6 good songs, it was a real treat. Since they were played on record players, having to switch between tracks was not at all convenient, so finding a record that had a side that could be played all the way through was a rare and beautiful thing.  Ultimately, the most exceptional experience was the album that didn’t have 1 song you wanted to skip (i.e. two sides that could be played all the way through).  The 10 records listed below fall in that category.  

  1. Tapestry – Carole King:  Includes classics, It’s Too Late, I Feel the Earth Move, So Far Away, You’ve Got a Friend, Will You Love Me Tomorrow?, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, and great album tracks like Smackwater Jack and Beautiful.
  2. Boston – Boston:  Includes classics, More than a Feeling, Piece of Mind, Foreplay/Long Time, Rock & Roll Band, and great album cuts like Hitch a Ride and Smokin’.  Their second album, Don’t Look Back was similarly complete.
  3. Dreamboat Annie – Heart:  Includes classics, Magic Man, Crazy On You, Dreamboat Annie, and great album cuts like How Deep it Goes and Soul of the Sea.
  4. Crosby, Stills & Nash – Crosby, Stills & Nash:  Includes classics, Suite Judy Blue Eyes, Wooden Ships, Marrakesh Express, Helplessly Hoping, Long Time Gone, and great album cuts like Guinevere, and Lady of the Island.
  5. Joshua Tree – U2:  Includes classics, With or Without You, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Where the Streets Have No Name, Bullet the Blue Sky, and great album cuts like, Red Hill Mining Town and Running to Stand Still.  Their albums, War and Under a Blood Red Sky were similarly complete.
  6. Hotel California – The Eagles:  Includes the classics, Hotel California, New Kid in Town, Life in the Fast Lane and great album cuts like Victim of Love and Wasted Time.
  7. Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd:  Includes classics, Money, Us and Them, Time, and great albums cuts like, Breathe and Brain Damage.  Their albums, Wish You Were Here and The Wall were similarly complete.
  8. Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin:  Includes classics, Rock and Roll, Black Dog, Stairway to Heaven, and great album cuts like, When the Levee Breaks and Going to California.  Their albums, Led Zep I, II, III and Houses of the Holy were all similarly complete.
  9. Escape – Journey:  Includes classics, Don’t Stop Believin’, Who’s Crying Now, Open Arms, Still They Ride, and great album cuts like, Stone in Love and Mother, Father,  Their follow up album, Frontiers was similarly complete.
  10. Rumours – Fleetwood Mac:  Includes classics, Don’t Stop, You Make Loving Fun, Go Your Own Way, Dreams, Gold Dust Woman, The Chain and great album cuts like Songbird and Second Hand News.  Their eponymous album from 1975 was similarly complete.

Honorable Mentions:  The Police (Synchronicity), Van Halen (Debut & 1984), Bruce Springsteen (Born to Run), The Beatles (Abbey Road, Sgt. Peppers), Metallica (Black Album), Steely Dan (Aja), Styx (Grand Illusion, Pieces of Eight), AC/DC (Back in Black), Rush (Moving Pictures), Peter Gabriel (So), Elton John (Goodbye Yellow Brick Road), Def Leppard (Pyromania, Hysteria)

Back in 2008 I published my first book, which was a little collection of stories I got during times of prayer. Unfortunately, there were some technical difficulties (e.g. font too small, margins too small), and the publisher set too high a price for it. Because of that, I’ve not encouraged people to look for it. For years I’ve been meaning to go back and fix it, and in recent weeks, I finally did. This Revised edition has a few more stories in it, and is hopefully more readable. The prices are better as well ($5.00 paperback, $3.00 Kindle).