Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Dove Awards

My first thought was, I've never seen this many born again folks skipping Wednesday night church together.

I've been in Nashville for a couple days, and I'm kicking back in my hotel room now. The three-hour extravaganza known as the 38th annual Gospel Music Association's Dove Awards was held at the Grand Ole Opry House last night.

Another big night for Chris Tomlin. Aaron Shust stepped up to the platform several times to receive awards as well. A full list of winners is here.

Highlights: Prior to this event, I'd never seen MercyMe live except at an "unplugged" KSBJ Brown Bag show. They we're good there, but they sounded incredible last night. You can't go wrong with TobyMac and Kirk Franklin performing together. Stellar Kart, Aaron Shust. And Chris Tomlin and Christy Nockels leading worship together? Awesome.

A couple of the bands that I would have really liked to see live, Leeland and Family Force Five, were shown on screens via video hookup from another Nashville live music venue. At first I couldn't tell if we were actually watching live footage or if it was taped, but it was a nice touch.

Natalie Grant, Brian Littrell and Donnie McClurkin were great as hosts. The presenters were excellent, too. The unfortunate thing is that the televised version isn't going to be quite as entertaining as the live version, because some of the absolute funniest parts of the show turned out to be mistakes and behind-the-scenes stuff. Donnie McClurkin stumbled through part of an introduction, and there was a portion with Dino and two other presenters that was hysterical.

"Top of copy."

I guess the message there is you need to see the show live.

I wasn't sure how rare it was for someone to come in from out of state for the Doves. This was my second year to do so. After chatting with some people seated near me, I discovered they had come in from Pennsylvania -- and this was their eighth year to visit Nashville for the event.

Larry the cucumber and his tomato friend were something else. I'm afraid I need to come clean about some thoughts I had last night. Do you remember when the video was playing and Bob and Larry were being led out by flashlight across the dark stage?

Stagehands were working so hard to keep that cucumber standing upright, and to get him up on the platform. I kept thinking how funny it would be if the cucumber fell over. I know it's just wrong to want the cucumber to fall down, but that thing would have required four people to pick it up.

I'm sorry, Lord, but you know that would have been entertaining, too.

And I realize she was hosting, but Natalie Grant should have sang. Great show!!

I got out of the Grand Ole Opry House, came back to my hotel and found a total blackout. I heard conflicting reports as to what had happened (it had been raining), but my hotel and several square miles around it was completely in the dark. The lights didn't come back on until after midnight.

So, it's not quite time to leave Nashville yet. I've got to figure out what to do this evening. I imagine it would only be proper for me to find a place to watch the Rockets playoff game. There must be a place in this big bad city that is airing the game.

I got a real treat the other night when I had some "authentic" Tennessee Mexican food. I'm serious. A guy at the gas station suggested I check out this Mexican food place. At first I was apprehensive because I eat more than enough Mexican food in Texas, but when I drove by the restaurant and read the sign that said "authentic," well, I just had to check this out. I have to be honest and say it wasn't too bad. The guy at the counter even called me "amigo." I walked out thinking, "Man, I'm an amigo of God."

I went downtown the other evening. Nashville has a beautiful skyline at night.

You can drive just 15 or 20 minutes from downtown and find yourself practically in the country. Big hills and lots and lots of trees. It's very pretty here.

I'll be back in Houston tomorrow in time for the Astros game at Minute Maid Park.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bad fried chicken and 120 gallons of wine

Question #1

Why don't you blog more often, John?

Because I don't have to.

Thankful to have the tedious Q&A session behind me, I want to talk a bit about advertising. I saw an ad that has me scratching my head.

Do we have any high-powered, high-paid advertising executives out there? Anyone reading this stuff who feels they have a grasp on what motivates the masses to need or desire certain products or services? If so, let me give you a scenario and tell me how you would handle it.

Let's say I work for you, and you have called an important meeting for our client, a fast-food, fried chicken company. This is a brainstorming session, and we need to discuss how to best move some fried chicken.

Here's my idea: How about a guy is in a prison cell, and some guards walk in with a bucket of our client's fried chicken. They toss the bucket down in front of the inmate, who picks up a chicken leg and smells it. He then falls to the ground screaming and yelling, practically convulsing in displeasure.

You'd do the right thing. You'd throw me out of the meeting for wasting your time.

Well, get a load of this video. Someone fell for it.

How's that for selling the sizzle and not the steak, so to speak? Obviously I'm missing something in the translation. Or, this agency is hoping some people are willing to pay nearly $200 for what appears to be very bad fried chicken.

I remember a great ad that a guy brought into my college newspaper office. He had a display ad he wanted to run with a big headline: "How to get 1,000,000 people to send you $1." The only other text in the ad was the words, "For more information, send $1 to (his name and address)."

After careful consideration, the advisor and the editorial team came to the tough decision not to run the ad, although we commended the guy on his clever writing skills. I hope he graduated and found a job in advertising. Maybe he's got the fried chicken account.

Let's spend a few minutes in God's Word, shall we? Jesus has just performed his first miracle by turning more than 120 gallons of water into wine at a wedding. If he thought the Pharisees were bad, imagine him pulling that stunt today in America, if he were on planet Earth now.

He'd never be able to walk into an evangelical church in the U.S. again. They'd have no part in that nonsense. Seriously, think about it.

Jesus said that we would do greater things than even he did (John 14:12). If you're looking for something great to do for God in the miracles department, I suggest pulling someone out of a wheelchair or raising the dead. Turning water into numerous gallons of wine in public sounds like a good way to find yourself church shopping.

It was an interesting choice for Jesus' first miracle, wasn't it? He is God. He could have done anything amazing that he wanted, but He chose to turn water into wine.

It reminds me of a story I heard once. A parishioner asked his pastor if it was OK for Christians to drink alcohol.

The pastor said, "No."

"But I thought Jesus turned water into wine," the parishioner replied.

"He did," said the pastor. "So pour yourself a glass of water, and when Jesus turns it to wine, please feel free to drink it."

Ha ha. I was reminded of this because I read the second chapter of John today and this passage jumped out at me:

...and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had to much to drink; but you have saved the best until now." (John 2: 9,10)

Isn't that just like our God? Saving the best for last? That's kinda the way I like to look at my life during this season. Sometimes it feels like I've run out of wine at this little party, so to speak.

What's God saying here to me and you? "The best is yet to come."