Monday, April 23, 2007


I had the privilege Sunday to make my debut with my church praise band playing bass. I play pedal steel guitar with Sky Blue, and before that, Dobro with Electric Prairie, but it had been a while since I had my trusty bass out of the house.

I began playing bass in 1964 and bought my current bass new in 1970. It is a Gibson Les Paul and every time I play it I am reminded of how much I love that instrument. Every few years for the past 37, I have gone to a music store to look at new basses, and I have never seen one that matches the tone, beauty, or craftsmanship of my old Gibson.

Needless to say, I am very content with the bass. I began thinking of other things I have that I have no intention of ever replacing – either because I consider them perfect, or I like them just the way they are.

Number One – my wife, she’s perfect.
My car – a Volkswagen Passat. If it ever wears out, I will buy another just like it.
My Emmons pedal steel guitar.
The National Tri-cone pictured on my profile.
My cat – Bonnie (she’s purrr-fect too.)
Wrangler jeans.
The leather chair that we bought 35 years ago.
The JBL speakers sitting in my living room.

There are a lot more, but you get the idea.

The Bible says to be content with what you have. Don’t go striving after newer, bigger, flashier. Sure, we can make improvement in our lives, but being content with what we have is the basis for true joy and happiness.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Rolex

In 1976 I bought a used watch from a friend. It was a Rolex Daytona Cosmograph. I paid him $150 for it. I wore it everyday for the next half dozen years. During that time I spent about $600 to $700 keeping it running. This included sending it to Switzerland once for a clean and lube. It was becoming apparent that wearing an expensive watch everyday was not practical – a little like commuting in a Ferrari.

One day I was at a trade show in Chicago when a man offered me $1200 cash for the watch off my arm. I sold it to him on the spot and went to Dillards the next day and bought a Swatch for $50. I couldn’t have been happier. I loved the Rolex, but it was becoming a burden.

Paul Newman was photographed several times wearing a watch exactly like mine, and that model has since become known as the “Paul Newman Watch.”

Not long after that I began seeing ads wanting to buy Rolex Daytonas for $3,000 and up. The current book value is $17,000 with a recent auction high of $84,000.

Do I regret selling mine for $1200? Not at all. Sure, I would rather have $17,000 than $1,200, but, to me, a $17,000 watch would be a real burden. I could never wear it, and keeping it safe and in good working order would be a chore.

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us lay aside every weight…and run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Expensive watches, cars, or guitars are not bad things, but they can certainly weigh us down. I know people with cameras so expensive that they never take them out of the house, musical instruments so expensive that they never get played, and cars so expensive that they never get driven. I guess just knowing that you have them can bring pleasure, but to me they are burdens that keep us from life.

The watch that I wear now, I bought at a kiosk at Oak Park Mall. It is not a Rolex, but it works just fine and when it quits, I will throw it away and buy another one.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Ability to Communicate

A friend of mine, who happens to be a college professor, told me the other day that his definition, or the minimum requirement, of a Bachelors Degree is the ability to communicate. A person with four years of college should be able to communicate, both verbally and in writing, in a clear concise way. I had not really thought about it before, but that seems to make sense. If that is all we learn in the pursuit of a B.A. or B.S. degree, it has been worth it.

At Homer’s Coffee House, we can tell in less than ten seconds if an applicant is someone we want to hire. It is all in their communication skills. If a person speaks clearly, looks you in the eye, and speaks in complete sentences, they are in an elite group. Chances are if that is the case, they can write clearly as well.

The ability to speak and write clearly is a primary indicator of future success in life.

Jesus was a master communicator. He was able to attract thousands to hear his stories and teachings. He didn’t have a college degree, but clearly he understood the importance of being able to make his thoughts and ideas clear.

Speaking and writing doesn’t come naturally to most of us, but instead requires work, training, and practice. Understanding the importance of communication is a good first step in making your dreams and vision a reality.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Christian Independent Artists Conference

From March 30 through April 1, Sunny Sundberg, Rob Robinson, (from Spirit's Wind) and I were in Nashville, Tennessee for the CIA Summit. (That is Christian Independent Artist, not Central Intelligence Agency.) The Summit is sponsored by Indieheaven, an organization for independent Christian musicians and performers.

The conference was a hit on three levels: entertaining, informational, and spiritually challenging. A common theme seemed to be calling or mission. Several times we heard the statement: “Do it for the mission and the provision will come.” Understand your vision or your purpose. Margaret Becker said, “If you don’t have a vision, someone will gladly provide you with one, and it will benefit them, not you.” If you know “the why” the “what” and “how” will follow.

To see photos and read the whole report, click here.