Posts Tagged ‘ Music ’


So it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here on The Green Couch. And I think a light bulb just went off that helps me understand why. Ready?

I am not a writer.

I know, I am writing now. There was once a blank space here and now there are words but when I say “I am not a writer” what I mean is that I don’t get this urge deep down to puts things down on paper or save them to my hard disk.

I can write. And a lot of the things I do involve writing. As a pastor, I craft 3000 word messages week after week to share with my community. As a musician, I jot down lyrics that explain an emotion or idea that I want to share in a song. As a game designer, I have to write clear instruction so people I don’t know can figure out how to play my games.

So, I write but I am not a writer. It’s not in my blood in the same way as real writers. You know the kind I am talking about. The ones who would be happy to spend much of their lives in a small, quiet office massaging the keyboard in a way that every word becomes a part of a sentence that forms a paragraph that makes you gasp for air because of the beauty and truth in what is being shared. Yeah, that’s not me. That’s someone else.

Don’t think I am being overly hard on myself. I am okay with this discovery. I am not a writer. I write. And I can even write well if I put my mind to it. There have been many times when I wanted to see myself as a writer because writers are important. And who doesn’t want to feel important?

I’ve noticed that the times I do write are always connected with doing something that connects me to the people around me.

I write a sermon each week to connect with the people of much church. I hope that what I share adds value to their everyday lives and, in the long run, to our community. We have to do something when we get together, right?

I write songs to help me communicate things that are hard to communicate. But I also write songs because I get to record them or play them in front of people. Music is about creating an experience.

And that weird board game thing I’m into? Well, that’s about creating an experience, too; bringing people together in a real life situation, face to face, using their brains, having fun, and making memories.

I don’t write just to write. I write when it leads to bringing something new into the world. I write when I see an opportunity to connect. I write so I can do.

I’m not a writer. And that’s okay. I’ll keep writing because it’s what gets me to the life I want, to the life I feel called to. I’ll keep writing because if I don’t there will be many things I want to see in the world that never come to be. Writing is a tool. Writing is a gift. I am not a writer. Or at least that’s what I tell myself when I don’t feel like writing.



Click on the picture to listen to audio message.

The following is part two of a message given at Wildwind Community Church on January 29th, 2012.

Our new family and my relationship with Christ were beginning to blossom. I had a desire to continue figuring out where this rebel Jesus was going to lead us next. I remember being struck by reading the story of Jesus sharing a meal with his friends, but it wasn’t so much them sharing a meal together that struck me, but what happened afterwards.

John 13:4-5 (NIV)
4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.
5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

To me, this is such a beautiful picture of who Jesus is. The king of the universe who was given all authority in heaven and earth humbled himself, not only to live among us everyday people, but to serve us. The way he lived his life was in tune with the words that he spoke. The conversations he had with people lead them to reflection and invited them to participate in living the kind of life that he lived.

John 13:12-17 (NIV)
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.
13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.
14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.
15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

This picture of Jesus as a servant became the picture I wanted to model my own life after. So Lisa and I began getting involved in ministries that were meaningful to us. My first ministry was putting away the folding chairs in the gym at Brendle Elementary in Grand Blanc where Wildwind was meeting at the time. Then, I started occasionally filling in on bass when Aaron wasn’t around.

Lisa and I got involved in Young Life, a ministry that is focused on building relationships with teenagers and sharing the message of Jesus with them. The first time I met Lisa’s family, I was in high school. Lisa invited me to a Young Life meeting at their house. At the time I still didn’t get the whole Jesus thing but I loved being around such nice people. We have always seen Young Life as an important part of our journey so we became leaders at their Grand Blanc club as our first ministry together.

On one occasion, I got to take a group of students to a camp in the mountains of Virginia and found myself keeping up with the superstar high school football players all week even though I was super out of shape at the time. I walked away from that trip with the sense that I was supposed to spend the rest of my life sharing God’s love with people.

Before long, I had left my band and quit my job and was headed back to school full-time to pursue my calling to ministry. Dave gave me the opportunity to take over the teen ministry at Wildwind, where I got to volunteer as the Student Ministry Coordinator for 3 years before coming on staff in 2009.

Early on, I remember Dave sharing his dream that Wildwind would be a church that planted other churches and it instantly resonated with me. So I had some bits and pieces of a dream to plant my own church floating around but I didn’t think it made a lot of sense for me to jump into so early, never having been a part of a church before, let alone work in one. My time at Wildwind has been beautiful. Working alongside Dave and the various folks who have served on the Leadership Team over the years, leading the youth ministry and small groups, coordinating service events, and getting to know so many awesome people, has been one of the best experiences of my life.

But all along, I had this sense that being at Wildwind wasn’t the end of the line for me. The dream of starting a church was continuing to grow. I kept thinking about this idea that early on, I felt like Wildwind was created specifically for me. What I mean is that Wildwind began at a specific time, in a specific place, with a specific group of people that connected with me at the right time in my life. If it wasn’t for Dave and Christy and that team of 30 people who stepped out to follow where God was leading, I would be a very different person than I am today. I’m sure that’s probably true for a lot of you guys, too.

The more I have gotten to think about that idea, that Wildwind was created just for me, just for us, I couldn’t help but think about those people in my life, in my neighborhood, that don’t have “their” church yet,  and I wondered if maybe, just maybe, they don’t have their church yet, because it doesn’t yet exist.

So here we are, preparing to create a new expression of church that is seeking to connect with people who might not have a sense that God is already working in their lives.

Looking back, I can see how my life has been splattered by encounters with God through art, music, coffee, relationships, and service. All of these encounters were not always as clear as the fluorescent pink and orange of “A Young Rebel Jesus” but they were all significant steps in my journey towards God. All of these themes are shaping where we are headed with our church plant.



In this 3 part series, I will explore some of the best of 2011. These selections are based on things I experienced in 2011, not necessarily things that came out in 2011. Please feel free to discuss my list and what you would add in the comments section.

Kelsey Rottiers and The Rising Tide

If you have been hanging around The Green Couch at all over the last year, the name Kelsey Rottiers might ring a bell. She’s a fantastic singer/songwriter that lives in Grand Rapids (she grew up in my home town of Davison, Michigan). Last March, Kelsey released her debut, self-released full length album entitled Kelsey Rottiers and The Rising Tide. As soon as my wife and I heard her latest work we knew that is was something special. A few months after that initial hearing of the record, I offered to help Kelsey by becoming her booking agent. I was convinced that she has something so special that it was worth pouring time and resources into sharing it with others. I used to handle all of the booking for my old band so it started to come back after a while. In the last half of 2011, Kelsey Rottiers and the Rising Tide has played something like 40 shows. We are playing lots more for 2012 including at least two short tours. It’s been a lot of fun to get behind such a talented musician and person of character.


Cheap Girls

This is one of my favorite new bands over the last couple of years, even though I’m pretty uncomfortable wearing their t-shirt in public, especially when I’m scooting around town with my wife and daughter. 🙂 Cheap Girls are old friends from Lansing, Michigan. My old bands used to do shows all the time with their old band. I have known a couple of the guys since they we in middle school and have continued to love them more and more with each release. Cheap Girls’ music has a way of reminding me of all the bands I loved in the early 90’s before I discovered punk rock and thought I was “above” all that “Alternative-and-Grunge-nosense”.  It’s part Replacements, part Dinosaur Jr./Buffalo Tom but a little more punk rock. Great melodies deleivered over a wall of sound. They just signed with Rise Records and their new album that was produces by Tom Gabel from Against Me! comes out in February.


The Swellers

Lots of  local music (local to me, anyway) on this list! I hope you are catching the theme that Michigan has some great music to offer! The Swellers are a Flint band that played some of their first shows with my old band South Bay Bessie. They were those kids who had some of the best chops in our little scene when they were 14-15 years old. Now, they have two albums out on Fueled By Ramen and they are the band that reminded me that I still like punk rock! Their latest album, Good For Me, was produced by the legendary (fanboy speaking here) Bill Stevenson from Descendants/ALL. For me, the album explores those people and places from the past that shape us in all the ways that make us who we are. I haven’t seen them play live in years but I don’t really have a good excuse since they have been busy trekking all over the world.


What are your favorite musical expereinces of 2011?


Mike Vial stopped by The Green Couch to play a couple songs and we caught it on video! These songs are from his latest e.p. entitled  “Where The Sand Meets The Tide”. In case you missed it, you can read my interview with Mike here.

I hope you enjoy the tunes!



In my recent interview with Kelsey Rottiers, you only got half the story. She shared some fantastic thoughts on her new record, forgiveness, and working in community. Now that you’ve heard the why, it’s time to check out the what of Kelsey Rottiers and The Rising Tide.

Kelsey and Derek recently spent some time on the green couch performing a couple songs from the new album. Give these tunes a listen and you’ll understand why I’ve shared so much space on this blog with Kelsey Rottiers and The Rising Tide.



Learn more about the band’s upcoming gigs and buy the new album here.


In this 3 part series, I will explore some of the best of 2010. These selections are based on things I experienced in 2010, not necessarily things that came out in 2010. Please feel free to discuss my list and what you would add in the comments section.

John Mark McMillan: The Medicine

My first encounter with John Mark McMillan came when I purchased  “Song Inside the Sounds of Breaking Down” on a whim. I fell in love with this album when it became the soundtrack to a retreat I took part in at Manresa, a Jesuit retreat house in the Detroit suburbs. His organic, rootsy, rock and roll hymns didn’t seem to be confined by the usual Christian worship formula. When his album “The Medicine” was re-released by Integrity this past year, I pre-ordered two copies just so I could get the double-volume, limited edition, live LP’s included with preorders. Here’s a taste:

Sufjan Stevens: Performing the Age of Adz Live

Sufjan Stevens is a genre-defying anomaly. Topically and sonically he’s been all over the map, trailblazing new paths through the indie-rock world. I have learned to think of Sufjan Stevens as more of a composer of large-scale performance art rather than a mere songwriter. His latest album, The Age of Adz, seems to have been created for the live experience. The record is interesting, combining his soaring melodies with electronic accompaniment but in this format you only get half of the experience. The live show I attended at the Royal Oak Music Theater, on the second night of his 2010 tour, was a multimedia  event. Themes of creativity, brokenness, and redemption were presented in neon, pop-locking included. If you expect a greatest hits concert when seeking out a Sufjan Stevens performance, you’ll be disappointed. But if you are open to an experience that engages the senses, you are in for a special night.

Avett Brothers: Live Vol. 3

My favorite band of the last few years, the Avett Brothers released a record that shows off their grace and expert craftsmanship in front of a hometown audience. While Sujfan Stevens creates large-scale pieces of art, the Avett’s provide emotion and authenticity (not unlike that of Johnny Cash) in 3-minute increments. If you haven’t experienced the Avett Brothers, this album provides a great introduction to some of the best songs written in the last 5-10 years, in my humble opinion.

Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More

These Englishmen are the latest group to steal my musical heart. Folksy, pub-rock with rich themes and undeniable energy characterize the Mumford and Sons first album for Island Records. I don’t know much about these guys other than that they make me want to go for a drive in the country and sing at the top of my lungs. Check it out to see if they make you feel the same way:


What are your favorite musical moments of 2010?


“I wanna soar with you
Up on wings like eagles
But I’ll crawl with you too
When the dark and lonely questions come
I wanna stand true
No matter what’s new or comes through
I cant stand still
Whatever hits I’ll keep making movements to you”

– Excerpt from “Movements” by Rend Collective Experiment

This is what life with God is all about: learning to move toward God in good times and bad, learning that we “move” only because he has given us the ability to move.

What does this kind of “Movement” look like in your life?

%d bloggers like this: