Music Review: Manic Drive

I don’t often do music reviews, but I am constantly looking for new Christian artist both for my own personal enjoyment and to share with the kids and families I minister to. So, when I was given the opportunity to review a new release from a band called Manic Drive I jumped on it. So, what did I think?

Band: Manic Drive
Album Title: VIP

The cover of the album gives us our first view of the band members and our first clue as to what to expect. My first impression upon seeing the cover was that it screamed boy band. Not really my style, but it deserved a listen. The first couple songs proved that my suspicions were correct. Manic Drive has a upbeat, boy band style that shows their high level of talent. While this is not really my style, I do think that it is something that would be very popular with younger girls, particularly preteens.

While the overall quality of the performance and production is good, there is evidence that these guys are young as the album lacks a little of the polish that comes with experience. This guys are good now, but with a little time they could be great. I sincerely hope that they get that chance. It could be exciting to see what these guys are able to do given the chance to hone their craft.

Lyrics are very important as it really is what differentiates Christian music from non-Christian music. The lyrics on this album are solid. They are uplifting, encouraging and even worshipful. Certainly I would consider these lyrics safe for your child. I’d let my little girl listen to them. As mentioned above I think that the lyrics show a lack of experience. They are good, but not great. What they do show is the ability to write. Given time and the opportunity I believe that they have what it takes to hone those skills.

Bottomline: A quick look on iTunes shows that this is not the first album by these guys. Still I think that they have some work to do to get their work up to the level of most of what is out there in the Christian music world. That being said, if you have young girls I would recommend that you check these guys out on iTunes. I am convinced that preteen girls will love these guys, even if this 40 year old man did not.


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How DARE You!

How DARE You!

That is often my response when something doesn’t go my way, or when someone says something in disagreement with my views. Certainly I never actually say that and I can’t say that I am actually thinking exactly that, but as I think about it I can tell you that my reaction to such things proves that deep down inside this is what I am feeling.

Because I said SO! This is often the response when my kids ask WHY when I tell them to do something. Now there is some truth in saying that because I am their father and I have told them, then that is all the reason they need. After all, for our children we are their greatest earthly authority. How they learn to respond to us can reflect how they respond to God in the future. For this reason it is important that they learn to obey. But, how we respond to them can also reflect how they think about God in the future. Our kids learn a lot about our Heavenly Father from their earthly Fathers. When we lash out in anger, they can come to believe that God is the same. But, for me the true heart of the issue is m own pride. When I lash out at my children what I am responding to is the thing INSIDE ME that says, HOW DARE YOU question me. Or HOW DARE YOU talk back to me.

You should just submit to me. I am ashamed to admit that I often respond to my wife in the same way. We have both grown and those moments are far fewer than they once were, but they still happen. In that moment I am certainly not thinking that she should just be submissive like the Bible instructs her and I would never say it to her. The truth is that very thought is not true to what the Bible says about this. What I am thinking is HOW DARE YOU talk to me that way. HOW DARE YOU question me. HOW DARE YOU not go along with what I want to do. These are not attractive thoughts and certainly not thoughts that I am proud of, but it is clear that in these moments these are the deep seated feelings that I am responding to.

Do you know who I am? One of my biggest struggles in life is with pride. My pride leads me to respond poorly in a variety of situations. While I am not actively thinking or saying this, my reactions tend to say, DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? or DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE DEALING WITH? I can not remember any instance when I was actually thinking these things, but my reactions show that this is what I am feeling, even if not actually thinking it.

So, who am I. While my pride gives me an over-inflated view of who I am, the truth is that I am nothing. I am a broken person. I am a sinner. I am unworthy of being followed, obey, or submitted to. I have not value in and of myself. For this reason HOW DARE I respond in this way. HOW DARE I think myself higher or greater than the person I am lashing out at. HOW DARE I act in anything but love and grace. After all, that’s how God responds to me.

So, who am I REALLY? The things I have said about myself in the last paragraph are completely true. BUT, they leave of some very important truths. I am created IN THE IMAGE OF GOD. For this reason I have value. I AM LOVED BY THE CREATOR of the universe. For this reason I have value. I AM FORGIVEN by the Son of God. For this reason I have value. I AM CLOTHED IN THE RIGHTEOUSNESS of Jesus Christ. For this reason I have value. BUT, what I can never begin to believe is that this value is of my own earning. I can never begin to believe that the value that I have received from God elevates me above any others.

How dare I! In the midst of my sin, God loved me. Even as I continue to stumble and sin, God loves me. When I respond badly to someone, God loves me. God ALWAYS responds to me with love and grace, far beyond what I could even begin to deserve. If God, who is perfect would respond to me that way, then HOW DARE I respond in any other way.

Think about it. As with much of what I write on here, this post is as much for me as for anything else. But, I encourage you to think about these things. Think about how you respond to your kids, your spouse, to other people. Think about how God has responded to you. Keep these things in mind and let them begin to change the way you talk to and treat people around you.


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Does How You Treat People Reflect What You SAY You Believe?

As I write this I sit in the lobby at the Orange Tour stop in Atlanta. There is a quote that Reggie Joiner spoke this morning that has stuck with me. He said it at the Orange Conference this year and it struck me there too, but this time I just can’t shake it.

“If your belief system causes you to be mean to people, you need to reconsider your belief system.”

Wow!!! Does that hit you the same way it hits me? Seriously, when we look around do we ever see people that claim to be Christians that are treating other people badly? Maybe it’s in how the church  generally treats the LGBT community. Maybe it’s how we treat the poor. Maybe it’s how we treat drug addicts or alcoholics, or people that struggle with pornography. Maybe it’s simply how we treat people who look different from us.

Think for a moment how YOUR church would react if someone covered in tattoos walked into your church.

Or maybe two girls or guys holding hands.

Chances are the reception for either of these people would not be good in MOST churches. I’m not trying to open a discussion about the right or wrong of any of these things. I am certainly open to discussing it. Meet me sometime, I’ll by you a cup of coffee and we can talk about it, but that isn’t want this post is about.

It’s about how we treat people.

Jesus summed up all of the Old Testament law in one sentence, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” BUT, he didn’t stop there. He then went on to say, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Would we claim Christianity, but hate God? That seem ridiculous, but at the same time, we claim Christianity while hating our neighbors. I know, if I asked most Christians, they would deny hating anybody, but how does that play out in their lives? What do their lives say about how they feel about people? Chances are their lives would say something different from what their mouths say.

Please understand that as with much of what I write, this is something that I struggle with at times as well. I’m not trying to condemn anyone. After all as Paul wrote, “There is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.” But, I do pray that the Holy Spirit will convict you. I hope that by reading this you will take a serious look at how you treat people and will begin to work to change that.

I understand that this is not necessarily an easy thing to do. In fact in our own nature it is probably impossible. BUT, we no longer live in our own nature. We are no longer slaves to our sinful nature. We have been set free and we have the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us. Pray that God would help you with this. Lean into the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Listen to that still small voice as it speaks to you. If your not sure how to do that, let me know. I’d love to talk more about that.


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Say Something !!! – RIP Robin Williams

Yesterday actor Robin Williams was found dead from apparent suicide. I simply can’t stop thinking about it. Robin Williams is one of my favorite actors, but that’s not why I can’t get it out of my mind. It’s the fact that he represents so many others out there. He dedicated his life to making others laugh while on the inside he had such pain and sorrow. He’s not alone…

I remember many years ago I took care of a teenage girl who had taken a bunch of pills in an apparent suicide attempt. I can still see her in my mind as we tied her to the stretcher, as we stuck needles in her arms, as we placed her on a heart monitor. I remember her face as we pushed a large tube down her throat into her stomach so we could pump her stomach. I’ve taken care of many such patients, but I remember this one; not so much because of what happened that night, but because of something that happened a few years later. You see throughout the torturous treatment that was required to ensure her safety and wellbeing I TALKED TO HER. Not like a stupid kid who had done something really stupid, but as a human being who was hurting. At the end of it all I took time to talk to her. I saw value in her that she could not see in her self.

As I said it wasn’t because of that night that I remember her. You see a few years later I saw her again in that same ER. This time she wasn’t tied to a stretcher with tube and wires coming from her body. This time she wasn’t a kid suffering the consequences of her bad decisions. This time she was a young woman, a wife and a mother. This time I saw her with her husband and their child. I remembered her as soon as I saw her, but I wasn’t sure if the might remember me. Turns out she did remember me and she remembered that night. She told me that I had not only saved her life that night, but I had changed it.

I share this story not to point to myself. God placed me there, the Holy Spirit gave me the compassion to see her as more than just the result of her bad decisions, and gave me the words to say. The glory goes to God. God saved that young woman, but he used me as the vessel for that work. He can do that only if we let him.

I am reminded of Matthew 9:36, “When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them…” You see, all those around Jesus could not have helped but recognize that there was a crowd there, but how many of them actually SAW the crowd. How many of them recognized that there were PEOPLE there. If the disciples had seen the crowd as Jesus saw them, He would not have needed to tell them about the abundant harvest. We are often no different than the disciples. All around us there are people hurting, yet we never bother to see them. Even worse, on the rare occasions that we do see them we don’t bother to do anything about it.

To those that might be hurting: Some may think i am crazy for what I’m about to do, but if you have pain that you have never told anyone about. If you are or have had thoughts of taking your own life. Please talk to someone about it. If you don’t feel you have anyone to talk to, talk to me. You can email me at mnormancarguy@gmail.com or you can text or call me at 863-412-8526.

For the people of God: Open your eyes. See the crowds around you. Look people in the eyes, it is there that you will often see their pain even when the rest of their face tries to hide it. Ask God to help you see those that are hurting, then do something about it. Talk with them. Let them know that you see the value in them, even if they don’t. Trust the Holy Spirit to guide you, then take some action. You never know the impact that you might have. I, for one, never want to read a story like Robin Williams’ and realize that I may have had a chance to minister to that person and find myself wondering what might have been different I had just talked to them.


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Rejected

“As you come to him, the living stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him.” 1 Peter 2:4

Let’s face it at one point or another pretty  much all of us have experienced rejection. This can be a feeling so bad that many of us will avoid certain situations that might put us at risk for rejection. Maybe we never apply for the job we want for fear of not getting it. Maybe we never chase our dreams for fear of not reaching them. Maybe we never as the girl we like out for fear that she’ll say no. Whatever the circumstances, we have all faced and experienced rejection. AND, no matter how hard we try, we WILL experience it again. But, we need not be discouraged by it.

It happened to Jesus. In the verse above Peter refers to Jesus as “the living stone – rejected by men.” The Jews had been looking for the Messiah for many years. There were many prophesies that pointed to who the Messiah would be and how they would be able to  identify him. Jesus fulfilled ALL of these prophesies. Yet, the Jewish people did not recognize him. In fact they rejected him and, in the end, demanded his death.

Why does this matter? It matters because Jesus is God. He lived a completely sinless life. He was the very person that the Jews were looking for and yet HE WAS REJECTED. I am not suggesting that this will take all the pain out of rejection, but sometimes it does help to know that you are not alone. The devil tries to tell us that whatever our struggle is we are the only one. He tries to get us to believe that no one else understands or has been through it. When it comes to rejection WE HAVE ALL BEEN THROUGH IT, even Jesus.

Be encouraged. There is some encouragement for us here as well. You see, Peter goes on to say that while Jesus was rejected by men, he was CHOSEN BY GOD and precious to him. This is encouraging because it is true of us too, if we have given out hearts to Jesus. Even as Jesus was rejected by men, but chosen by God and precious to him; so are we.

Remember that. Next time you consider avoiding a situation because of fear of rejection remember that you have been chosen by God. Next time you experience the pain of rejection remember that Jesus did too. Next time rejection has you doubting your own worth remember that you are chosen by God and are precious to him.


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