The Storm and the Stone


I was driving on I-94 West, on the way to deal with another layer of trouble. My heart was weighed down and weary. With some semblance of slight perseverance, I decided to listen to a “Faith” playlist I’ve been building in recent weeks. Some of these songs are like spiritual legacy touchpoints. They meant something to me in my spiritual development. However, some of them don’t quite resonate anymore.

Not all the legacy songs are outdated or smack of my own version of “old time religion.” As I drove, one of them grabbed a hold of me and didn’t let go. It’s a song I’ve always felt deeply. It’s called from The Jesus Record by Rich Mullins and a Ragamuffin Band and is simply called “Jesus…”

Back in the 90’s, Rich Mullins was one of my favorite artists. He was a part of the Contemporary Christian Music industry, where the waters can be very shallow and religiosity can pervade. In contrast, Mullins’ lyrics and approach always seemed earthy and real and his music was part of my spiritual soundtrack.

Mullins died in a car accident in 1997. At the time, he’d been working on the songs which would comprise The Jesus Record. The double album was released in 1998, with one disc containing field recordings of Mullins’ demos of those songs. The other disc was recordings of those same songs by his friends and colleagues. “Jesus…” was sung beautifully and hauntingly by Ashley Cleveland. This tragic backstory is part of the reason this song and that album have always meant much to me.

On this day, as I traveled toward trouble, the song set up shop in my heart and soul in a new, richer way.

“Jesus” is a prayer. Honestly, it’s more like a desperate plea. The singer knows all the Bible stories. She’s heard of Jesus’ miracles… walking on water, calming the waves, making a lame man walk again… She doesn’t refer to these in a disparaging or faithless manner. No, it’s clear she believes the stories.

While her belief is strong, her personal connection to that story is lacking. She sounds destitute. The troubles in her life have overwhelmed her and she needs just a touch of that miraculous power. And, it’s almost as if that touch is being withheld from her, even as she endures those troubles.

Jesus… They say You spoke and calmed an angry wave
That was tossed across a stormy sea
Please teach me how to listen, how to obey
‘Cause there’s a storm inside of me

“…there’s a storm inside of me…” The wind rushes. The rain pelts. The thunder crashes. The lightning flashes. I get this. In the midst of my multiple layers of trouble, I feel the storm inside of me all the damned time.

Even as she sings of the storm raging in her, she is not hopeless. She reckons leaning into Jesus is the key. Somehow, she believes learning how to listen and obey can fend off the storm.

The chorus gets right down to it. She wants to move from belief to experience. She longs for more than mental ascent and blind faith. Such things seem irrelevant in the middle of the maelstrom. She wants to feel Jesus’ power at work while the storm rages.

Jesus… write me into your story
Whisper it to me
And let me know… I’m yours

There is hope undergirding this request. Why even ask if there’s no hope that it can happen? Again, she’s leaning in and expressing the desire for more, for deeper. She’s read the story, but that’s not enough: she wants to be in the story. Being written into the story would provide assurance that this faith is directed at something very real and intimate.

Despite the hopeful basis of the chorus, the song ends somberly.

Jesus…They drove the cold nails through Your tired hands
And rolled a stone to seal Your grave
Feels like the devil’s rolled a stone onto my heart
Can You roll that stone away?

Oh, that damned stone. I know that stone. For Jesus, it’s the final “nail in his coffin.” verifying he was dead. For the singer, it sounds like a stone formed by trouble, weighing down her heart, keeping her from feeling God’s presence, love, and power. Perhaps it’s even making her heart hard, like the stone itself.

I know that dynamic. When the trouble just keeps on coming, the pressure, stress, and pain begin to accumulate. The sediment begins to calcify into what can feel like a monolith. That monolith not only lays on my heart but can seem to encapsulate it. Sometimes, in those moments, hope begins to wane. I can feel lost and unsure that help is even available or accessible.

This singer’s experience resonates with mine. Notice, she asks Jesus if he can roll the stone away. “Can you?” is significantly different than “Will you?” Perhaps there’s no question about Jesus’ desire to help. She is wondering if he is able to help.

Again, that’s all very real to me. When I experience these stony and stormy moments, I can lose sight of who I’ve always believed Jesus is. While my faith is constantly morphing and cutting fat, it is still alive. And I trust God is always trying to pierce through my armor and break the stone. That trust is not built on maxims, quips, or even bible verses. It’s based on my own experience. Too many times, I’ve sensed God’s love and peace busting through it all and invading my heart.

Lately, I’ve felt the storm and the stone, every damned day. At times, they feel all-consuming, and hope seems distant at best. But, I know… even as my eyes moistened while driving toward more trouble and listening to this song, Jesus has always shown up. He has always, eventually, calmed the storm and moved the stone. It just doesn’t always happen as quickly as I’d like. But it happens… every time… eventually.

We Need You


We need you. For real. You have stuff living in you that the rest of us need. You do. Impact is hard-wired into your system.

This is not about blowing smoke up your arse. You’re not perfect. Just like me, just like your neighbor, your father, your mother… just like everyone you know… you are faulty and frail. You are limited.

This is not about making you feel like whatever you do is good. Like, just because you are wired for greatness somehow means anything you think, say, or do is justified in some way. Nah… that’s not real. That’s not true. No, you make mistakes. You hurt others. You hurt yourself. Just like I do. But, this is not about that.

No, this is about the good stuff residing in your heart, in your mind, in your body, in your spirit. Living in you is something divine. Greatness that speaks to something greater, someone greater. Holiness that reflects the holiest.

The trick is discovering how that greatness looks, defining that holiness, and harnessing that good stuff. And when you do, everything changes. I mean, you’ll still make mistakes of course. But, everything still changes. Finding your wiring and then living in accordance with it changes everything.

…how you see yourself

…how you see others

…how you see the unseen

See, you being fully you is not just about you. Yes, it works for you. It gives you purpose and meaning. It makes you more effective in the things you try to do. All that is true. But, as importantly, you being fully you changes the world.

You bring things to the table… talents, skills, passions… that we need. We have oppressed people to liberate. We have injustices needing to be ended. We have poverty ripe for erasure. We have disease to be eradicated. We have a world to be revolutionized. And we need YOU.

So, please, be you. Be fully you.

The Hard Work of Peacemaking


Someone much wiser than me once said, “Blessed are those who make peace, for they will be called the children of God.” Blessed means fortunate or happy. The key there is being seen as a child of God, because the act of peacemaking doesn’t feel especially blessed when you’re in the middle of it.

I’ve tried to be a peacemaker over the years, and I can’t say I’m very good at it. Regardless, I am convinced it is the best way for me to align with how life is designed to work, as best as I can understand those things. However, it is not easy, and it can quickly make me into a target for folks on either side of a conflict.

Sometimes I shy away from the work of peacemaking. It’s easier to choose a side. It’s easier to vilify the other side. It’s easier to dehumanize my enemy. It’s harder to see them as fellow bearers of God’s image because that truth calls me to lean in more, to see the value they inherently carry, and listen more openly. At the end of it all, we may still disagree, but hopefully they’ll know I love them, even if we can’t agree.

Back in my grad study days, I read portions of a book by E. Stanley Jones, called The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person. He wrote a little about peacemaking and I find his words encouraging. Basically, he talked about three different ways we can respond to those around us:

Evil: Someone is good to you, and you respond with evil or hatred.

Normal: An eye for an eye… You return good for good and evil for evil. Makes sense to an extent, but never brings real resolution.

Good: Someone does you harm, and you love them in response. You return good for the evil they gave you. You know, like “turning the other cheek.”

Mr. Jones labels that last way as the “Christian” way, but that word has lost it’s meaning in 21st century America. I think there’s a better word: holy.

Now, I recognize the word “holy” likely needs to be demystified a little. It’s a very churchy word unfortunately. To say someone or something is holy is to say it is unique, set apart, different, etc. It is transcendent in a way.

On the Tomme Suab Show on Converge Radio on Wednesday nights, I’ve been talking about the need for us to make different choices. We look around us and we see all kinds of conflict and turmoil. Division is pervasive. Dehumanizing and vilifying the “other” is the norm. If we want something different, and I really hope we do, it will require us to make different choices. It will require us to live extraordinarily. It will require, if I may, an element of holiness.

Peacemaking is a holy act, which is why engaging in it shows us to be God’s children. Peacemaking requires courage, humility, and a measure of vulnerability. It is not easy. However, there is no better way to approach conflict. In fact, Mr. Jones, who I referred to before, wrote that, of the three levels, it’s the only one that actually has power. Returning evil for good perpetuates evil. An eye for an eye only makes the world go blind (thank you, Mahatma). Choosing to respond to evil with love changes the game.

An Ode to Lightning


Honestly, I’m still in a little bit of shock. Less than a week ago, one of my best friends of all-time left us. It was so out of the blue. Bruce was a couple of years younger than me and always seemed to be in good health. It’s so, so surreal that he’s gone. My heart is broken.

I‘m hurting, but I cannot imagine what this is like for Bruce’s wife and two young boys. Crystal was the love of his life. His boys no longer have their daddy. It’s just wrong. And then there are his parents.  I can’t imagine losing your son. I don’t want to imagine. Again, it’s just all wrong.

Over the last six days, I’ve grieved a lot. I’ve not full-on cried yet, but I’ve had tears in my eyes on multiple occasions. During work meetings earlier this week, it was all I could do to stay focused on my incredible teammates as we handled our tasks together. And yet while I’ve been sad, I’ve also smiled a lot.

One of our mutual friends sent me a text earlier this week with the following quote: “da dink dink dink.” I know that means nothing to all but a very few people. But to a select group of friends, it ought to bring a smile when they think of Bruce. It takes me back to the first time I heard him utter those “words.” WCW Starrcade ‘98. Bruce’s living room. And every time some wrestler got knocked out of the ring or took some kind of tumble, Bruce chimed in with “da dink dink dink.” It was one of those silly little things that made us laugh every damned time.

Pro wrestling was a huge connection point for Bruce and me. It’s what drew us together in the first place. I remember the first time he and I began to hang out was at a church youth group function. We must have started talking about wrestling, because before long we were inventing a new backbreaker move (which would be called “Thunder Road”) out on the church grounds. We attended one of our youth group functions as a tag-team with his brother and with Bruce acting as our mouthy manager. We were, as my Mom would say, “ate up with it.” Those were fun times.

Whenever we would goof off with wrestling moves, one of the main dynamics was his “slightness” and my not-so-slightness. He was 5’9” and weighed just above a buck fifty. I was 6’1” and outweighed him by well over 100 pounds. And yet, when we wanted to act like a tag team, we acted like The Hart Foundation (look it up, kids). However, he always wanted to be Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart (the huge powerhouse of the team) and I always wanted to be Bret “Hitman” Hart (the smaller, quicker guy). Neither one of us, apparently, knew how to stay in our proverbial lanes.

All that wrestling stuff led to us making our own wrestling videos. Four volumes came to be over the years, chronicling the incredible rivalry between “Lightning” Bruce Dallke and Ed Thunder over the ever-prestigious championship belt (made of cardboard, construction paper, wood, or whatever else we could find). There was much silliness, smiling, and unrivaled wrestling action (tongue firmly planted in mouth).

One of my other favorite memories of Bruce was our trip to Minnesota from Virginia back in 1995. We drove up to my old college to see some of my friends before they graduated. We didn’t intend to, but we ended up driving straight through to Bloomington. We had a great time, but toward the end of the trip, I began running out of money. Bruce became my sugar daddy and even bought us both matching University of Minnesota basketball jerseys (one of which he would use in one of our wrestling videos when he was The Minnesota Mauler). He was so patient with my foolishness.

When it was time to head back home, we learned that it was much easier to drive straight through on the adrenaline we gained from the excitement of reaching our destination. That adrenaline was non-existent on the way home. We were tired by the time we got to Chicago and ended up stopping at the Indiana-Michigan border for the night. We were worn down. The next day, we stopped somewhere in Pennsylvania for some McD’s. Bruce was in the habit of giving me the pickles from his burgers since he didn’t like them. Well, tensions must have been high, because when we were sitting in the car eating, I asked him for his pickles and he strongly declared, “No,” got out of the car, and literally threw the pickles in the garbage. I think he put up with a lot of crap from me.

Back in early 1999, I was living in Poplar Branch, North Carolina with my parents and I was terribly lonely and depressed. Bruce was a pillar for me those days and we were together virtually whenever we had free time. One evening, he attended a church service with me at a small Pentecostal church in Grandy. There was a special speaker that night: a lady who was prophesying all over the place. Everybody was going up front and everybody was going down (“slain in the Spirit”). Well, time passed, and it seemed virtually everyone in the auditorium had gone up except for Bruce and me. The lady looked right us and invited us to come down, so we did. There we were, attached at the hip as per usual, going up to experience whatever was going to happen.

I remember two things happening when we went up there: Bruce going down like a box of rocks and the lady telling me that I was going to move. I told her that I knew that already (I was planning on moving back to Minnesota) but she said “No, you’re going to move again.” As it turned out, she was right on multiple levels, but most immediately… my van blew out its transmission three hours into my move back north. I came back to my parents’ home with my tail between my legs. Here’s where Bruce comes in…

He and I talked and decided I would move in with him in his one-bedroom apartment. Right… a one-bedroom apartment. So, where was I going to sleep? In his hallway. Yeah, we were young and not very wise. We made all the preparation and erected my bed in that hallway. I didn’t even last through one night. In my depression and emotional disarray, I got up and went driving around town. The next day, I told Bruce I needed to back out of the deal. I don’t know what kind of bind I put him in, but I’m sure it wasn’t painless. And yet, he patiently and lovingly walked with me through that super weird period in my life and remained my friend despite my flakiness.

Eventually, I did in fact move back to Minnesota and then to Wisconsin in 2005. Obviously, I didn’t get to see Bruce very often. He was in my wedding in 2001, but then shortly thereafter, he and Crystal found each other and started their new life in West Virginia. After that, I only got to see him a few times, but those times were sweet. And, honestly, they were sweet because of how sweet that guy was.

Bruce Dallke was one of the most loyal and patient friends I’ve ever had. Yes, he called me a “clown” on occasion (although I likely deserved that designation every single time). But, man, he was such an amazing friend. I don’t understand all there is to know about heaven and what happens after we die, but I sure hope Bruce is sipping on some Dr. Pepper, listening to some Galactic Cowboys, and running the ropes with Eddy Guerrero.

This Is (Really) America


My boy is currently having a play-date with his best buddy. The two boys are sprawled out on the floor, making up stories with Lego mini-figures. The cuteness is almost overwhelming. Just two friends having fun, whittling the afternoon way, with no care in the world. I am taken by their cuteness and their innocence. There’s something so entirely pure and beautiful about what’s happening on the floor in front of me.

As I watch the boys play, I have a clear line of sight to my son, who has been growing his hair out now for several months. He’s keeping it short around the sides and back, and then letting it grow up top. So much hair! It’s adorable, honestly, although it’s making this almost nine-year-old look a few years older than that. Not sure I like that…

His decision to grow his hair out was inspired by the blockbuster Marvel movie, Black Panther. He was, like me, enthralled by the antagonist of the story, Erik Killmonger. After watching Michael B. Jordan’s outstanding portrayal and witnessing how incredibly cut the guy is, I think Joshua and I both wish we looked like him. Joshua’s got a much better shot at making that happen. And, he began letting his hair grow out toward that exact end. He wanted braids or dreads that would look like those Killmonger sported in the movie.

Over these last few months, we’ve been getting his haircuts at a barbershop where they know how to cut African hair. I think there’s still a part of him that wants the Killmonger look, but I also think he’s been enjoying growing this huge mass of hair on top of his head, like a big, textured box-top. And, it’s adorable. So, now I have this super-cute third grader running around with the same kind of hairstyle I see on young men and teen boys who are also from African heritage. Amid growing up in mighty white Eau Claire, Wisconsin, I think it’s comforting for him to see older guys who look like him and also happen to have a similar hairstyle.

Just recently, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, when I saw another young man with Joshua’s do. It was a still picture of a young man named Anthony Wall being pinned to the outside window/wall of a Waffle House by a police officer. I saw the headline associated with the photo; something about an older brother who had taken his sister to the prom. To be honest, I skipped by it quickly.

Why? It’s simple. That young man looked like my Joshua. In that moment, I was seeing my boy being pinned against a wall and choked by a police officer. I looked away and quickly skipped by that image. I didn’t want to think about that. It wasn’t that long ago that young Jordan Edwards was shot dead in the back of a car by another police officer. His story broke my heart. I could see my son in Jordan’s innocent smile. And it hurt.

Even though I didn’t want to linger in those thoughts, especially envisioning my son in the place of that young man at the Waffle House, I saw that image again on my feed and this time I chose to engage. That’s probably because I remembered Jordan Edwards. And I remembered why I need to care about this. I remembered I was wired to care about this. I remembered that I would be disobeying my God if I ignored this.

This second image wasn’t a still, it was a video. I watched the police officer forcing Anthony up against that wall. The officer looked to be at least twice the size of the young man. I could not see Anthony resisting in any way. I see the officer violently pressing his forearm into Anthony’s chest and throat area. For no apparent reason, I see the office then lift the young man off the ground and slam him down on the pavement, followed by the officer leaning on him, holding him down, and maintaining his intimidation.

It made me sick. What the hell was going on there? There are those who will say we don’t have all the context. Honestly, I don’t know what happened before this moment. Don’t care, actually. From the video, there is no apparent reason why the officer had to be so violent, why he was choking Wall, why he slammed him to the ground like he did.

As I write these words now, I can feel my blood beginning to simmer. I’m angry. I’m angry at the injustice and excuse-making. And, I’m sad for Anthony Wall and his sister. I’m sad for every young black man who is perceived as a threat for no legitimate reason. I’m sad for my son, who will no doubt be seen as such a threat before too long by some backward-thinking person. Who knows? Maybe he’ll fall asleep in the commons area of his college dorm. Maybe he’ll walk onto a country club golf course (of which he’s actually a member). Maybe he’ll be in his backyard doing nothing. Maybe he’ll just want to have a waffle.

To all my white, right-leaning friends who want to find a way to defend this officer, or the golf course employee, or the police who shot Stephon Clark 22 times while he wielded his deadly cellphone, I don’t want to hear it. Especially to my Christian friends who are more concerned about what Anthony Wall may have done to “deserve” the treatment he received from that officer, keep it to yourself. I can see nothing of Jesus in such thinking. So, don’t bring that here, please. It’s time for us to see things for what they are, and not just through the lenses of our personal experience in our little safe, white, Christian bubbles.

A few months ago, I had coffee with a good friend who shared with me a quote he’d come upon previously. I don’t remember the exact verbiage, but it amounted to something like this: “The artists are now our prophets.” Okay, so I will never say that Justin Vernon or Bono carry the same weight as Jeremiah or Isaiah. But, I think there’s truth there.

One great example of this artistic prophecy is the recently released video from Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover). The video was released on May 8th, but I’ll admit that it took me a couple of days before I wanted to watch it, mostly because I knew it would make me uncomfortable. You know, that discomfort I really need to feel. I eventually decided to engage, and I was changed.

I am still processing the meaning of the song and the imagery in the video. However, I feel like I can already say that it is one of the most important pieces of art I’ve ever seen or heard. The song is called This Is America and it is a poignant commentary on many societal issues, such as racism and gun violence. I will likely write more about this masterpiece later, but there’s one central theme I see in there that pertains to what’s happening to these black men and boys and my (our) response to these injustices: it is very easy to just keep living life while others around us are going through hell. The video is below (warning: it is pretty graphic).

Notice what happens throughout the video, not just what’s happening right in front of the camera, but what’s happening in the background as well. A man is executed. One of the four horsemen rides in the background. Riots break out. Someone gets thrown off a balcony. A choir is massacred. And what’s happening throughout all of this? Glover and those with him dance. They have moments of clarity about what’s happening around them, some of which they cause, but they are easily distracted back into the dance.

The lyrics, at one point, speaks of “shaking the frame.” The imagery there is of the frame of reality being shaken so we are distracted from what’s really going on. We hear of students being slaughtered at a school in Florida and we are forget a day later. We see images of a young man being powerslammed to the sidewalk and we turn away, not letting ourselves be affected. We read about a young white man sending bombs to the homes of people of color in Texas and we don’t bat an eye. We hear about another young white man bringing a rifle into a different Waffle House for the express purpose of killing black people, and we just go about our day-to-day as if this is normal.

It is not normal, friends. It is not okay. We need to stop victimizing white perpetrators. We need to stop justifying police brutality. We need to stop grasping at straws to understand how Stephon Clark, Anthony Wall, Jordan Edwards, Philando Castile, or Trayvon Martin somehow deserved what they got. We need to look at the pictures of those who have been killed or traumatized because of their pigmentation. We need to get real honest with ourselves. I need to get real honest with myself.

White friends, please hear me, we gotta stop acting like there is no race issue in America. We gotta stop pretending that all men are actually considered “equal” in our society. We gotta stop avoiding the voices and stories of black communities. By acting, pretending, and avoiding, we are saying one of two things. We are either calling them liars, or we are telling them they don’t matter as much as we do. Those are the only two options, friends.

Whether or not we want to own it or believe it, the stories of Clark, Martin, Wall, Edwards, Castile, and so many more are real. This is America, friends. And until we stand up, own that truth, and start having meaningful conversations about how to facilitate healing, freedom, and justice in our land, we are simply allowing more black people to be oppressed, slaughtered, and/or traumatized. This is America.

I cannot turn my head. I cannot ignore. I cannot pretend. I cannot, because that would not resonate with the life God has built me to live. A Christian ignoring these injustices is not aligned with the Jesus who came to set captives free, raise the dead, and preach good news to the poor. So, engaging in this is obedience for me, and I would argue, for anyone in America who professes to follow Jesus.

But, personally, I go right back to the boy playing with Legos on my office floor. He has already faced racism from other kids. And as he gets older, he will face more. I don’t want him to be the next Anthony Wall, Stephon Clark, or Jordan Edwards. So, I will fight. And, I ask you to do the same.

Every Son Is My Son


My head was pounding this afternoon. Learning a new work process can have that effect sometimes. So, I stepped away for a few minutes, put on my headphones, and took a walk around the block. I was listening to a TS10 from a few weeks ago, one that carried a mood of numbness, or maybe even despair. As I turned the corner, listening to these somber sounds, I was struck with a bit or irony.

My head was pounding, but it wasn’t due only to learning this new skill at work. No, my mind was troubled by something far more painful. This morning, I read about the senseless and shameful murder of a 15-year-old boy named Jordan Edwards. A black boy… just like my black boy. Shot by a police officer as the boy sat in the back seat of a car. Shot in the head with a rifle. A smart, athletic, sweet kid… snuffed out like a candle. No reason. No rationale.

My head was pounding… as I thought of the irony of me walking around the block with my hoodie and headphones on. Wondering… if my skin was black, would I be deemed suspicious by my white neighbors, by the police? Thinking about Trayvon Martin wearing his hoodie when he was targeted, armed with a bag of Skittles. And then thinking about the fact that I am (white) privileged enough to not have to worry about that.

My head was pounding as I thought about young Jordan’s family… when I thought about his grieving parents. Their beautiful and brilliant child was destroyed. I considered Nicholas Wolterstorff’s sorrowful Lament for a Son, in which the author lays his heart bare as he grieves the loss of his own son. I thought about my own precious Joshua. That he is not only precious, but he is also black. I thought about the fact that it could have been Joshua Hudgins named in that article instead of Jordan Edwards.

My heart was then pounding.

I am angry. I am grieved. If this was just some isolated event, it would still be sad, but maybe it wouldn’t have ravaged my soul this way. But it’s not an isolated incident. The list of such tragic, horrific stories seems to never end. Parents needlessly grieved. Children needlessly slaughtered. But it’s not just about racially-charged murder. Just this last weekend, a dear friend’s son was subjected to an ignorant, racist slur: “Run back to your slave master.” When my Joshua was three years old, a kid at the playground told him that he doesn’t like “brown people.” Racism is everywhere. It is pervasive.

I can’t say for certain that Jordan Edwards’ murder was racially motivated. But seeing this event in the context of the racism I constantly see around me and the long, never ending list of unarmed, unthreatening black people who have been shot by police over the years, it’s hard to imagine race didn’t have something to do with this.

I want to offer solutions right now. I want to offer hope. But, I feel devoid of solutions and low on hope. I have plenty of sorrow and a fair amount of rage. But more than anything, I am determined to grieve with Jordan’s family and friends. And, I am determined to fight. I will pray like I have never prayed. I will confront the dark heart of racism when I see its ugly head surface. And I will ask God to show me what remnants of racism still live in my fickle heart.

And now my heart is pounding again, because I know there will be another Jordan Edwards, innocently snuffed out like a candle. I pray my son is not the next son to be slaughtered. #everysonismyson

Death Gives Way to Life… WORTHY IS THE LAMB


Yep, he was dead. Gone. No heartbeat. No air pumping through his lungs. He was cold and lifeless as he lay there in that tomb. But, what seemed impossible was actually inevitable. He did not stay dead.

Why? Because death could not keep it’s icy grip on him. Death’s bony hand waved the white flag in surrender to the Author of Life. Jesus defeated the grave. And his victory over death paved the way for those of us who trust him to share in that victory.

It’s time to celebrate, my friends! Jesus has risen and he is Lord!

The songs below celebrate the life that could not be held down. I invite you to worship the Lamb with me. WORTHY IS THE LAMB!

2016 Tomme Suab Song of the Year: Bon Iver’s #29 Strafford Apts


I love this song. I hate this song. Let me tell you why. When I listen to this song, I hear this gentle, heart-on-the-sleeve tone throughout. That combined with Bon Iver’s talent and artistry would be the initial draw for me. There is a tender heart at the core of #29 Strafford Apts.

But then there are the technological, intentional blemishes that run throughout the entirety of Bon Iver’s 22, A Million record, and they are prevalent in this one. When I was first becoming acquainted with #29 Strafford Apts, that additional layer was not welcome as far as I was concerned. I wanted that tender heart to reign supreme. Not only did the techno-glitchiness interrupt that vibe, it totally “corrupted” the climactic third chorus in the song. Dammit. What was Justin Vernon thinking?

I cannot be sure what Mr. Vernon was trying to do, but my suspicion is that he did with this song exactly what he intended to do, and that was to disrupt the portrayal of that tenderness on purpose. At first, I was not very happy about that. And, I think maybe that was the point. As I’ve listened and contemplated further, there was another related dynamic I found provocative.


The techno-muffling during that third chorus sounds very reminiscent of when a tape got warped back in the day. Those of us who used to listen to cassettes on a regular basis know what I’m talking about and are well-acquainted with that malady. You’re listening to your favorite Thompson Twins song and then all of the sudden the voices are muffled and music is warped. Then it everything returns to normal. I’m quite sure this was the dynamic Vernon was going for.

However, when I heard my muffled version of Hold Me Now (look it up, kids), I knew if I heard it on the radio or someone else’s tape, I would hear the regular, pristine recording. That’s not the case with #29 Strafford Apts. I may NEVER hear the pristine, pure version of that chorus. And, that makes me mad. Furthermore, it convinces me further of Vernon’s genius. And when I consider that, it makes me smile.

So, yeah, I love this song and I hate this song. Which is why it is the 2016 Tomme Suab Song of the Year.

2016 Tomme Suab Album of the Year: Bon Iver’s 22, A Million


If you happened to see who was named the 2016 Tomme Suab Artist of the Year, then you may see a theme emerging with the Album of the Year. Yep, it’s Bon Iver’s 22, A Million. It just is. It’s been a long time since an album captured my heart like this one. Without going into great detail (I already did that in my post, Caught in Bon Iver’s Web… 22, A Million), this album is still in regular rotation in my personal playlist and it ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s beautiful, deep, provocative, and terribly creative. Congrats to Bon Iver for not only creating the 2016 TS Album of the Year, but also for making what could be one of my favorite records, period.