Tag Archives: TED

Play Through Me In Spite of Me…

fiddlersWe’ve been attending the local Fiddler’s Conventions in our area lately with friends and family. While there are contests for various instruments and talents I’ve forgone any attempt in competing to win; rather, I have found it much more rewarding to use the opportunity as a platform. I know there are some who would say, “You shouldn’t waste your time going if your not going to compete to win.” Well, in a sense, I am competing to win, but not in the monetary sense.

Allow me to explain.

A couple weeks ago I watched a TED presentation on “Your elusive creative genius” by Elizabeth Gilbert http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html and found her lecture spoke to me quite profoundly from my Christian background. 70532_74x56What she said that struck such a chord with me was that when we are true to our faith, we become the channel, the vessel if you will, through which a power greater than ourselves can flow.  The fallacy of so many artistic minds is that we start to believe the talents we pocess are because of us, something “We” are responsible for creating. With this responsibility comes great pressure. Once you’ve created that awe inspiring masterpiece, then everything after that becomes compared to the one that made you famous. More often than not, the vaccum that follows leaves many in such states of depression that they fall into either a dependency behaviour or take their own lives. However, all of this can be avoided if we realize the source of our talents; our inspiration.

It was from this TED talk that I was reminded of how we must give God the Glory, that everything we have we owe to him. When we try to take credit for it, we are only kidding ourselves and quickly fall into that trap of thinking we are more than we really are. So when the 2013 Fiddler’s Conventions came around, I realized I had to do more than just go on stage and perform; I had to deliver a message, even if it was brief.

So each week, before the performance, and most of the times on the way to the event, I listen for God to speak to me, telling me what I am to do, what song or scripture I will share with the audience. Some weeks he has told me in advance; others, I found out only minutes before. Such was this past week at the Seagrove Convnetion. Before we arried I had picked out a song I thought would be good enough, but on the way there, the idea of rewording the song, “House of the Rising Sun,” and playing it on my fiddle flashed into my brain. Upon arriving, I found my cohart and backup on stage in the recent weeks, a young man who is wonderfully talented and a great Christian, Tanner Henson. I presented to him the song and we tried it out but found neither one of us knew the chord progression on the guitar. I was about to scrap the idea unless I could find one of the many guitar virtuso’s in attendance. Just a few minutes before stage time, I found Harold Pickett; one of those guitar experts. I was also wonderfully surprised to find Harold a fellow Christian as well. Soon, the gig was on.

I prayed for guidance from the Lord and told the crowd before I started that I had to sing a couple lines to the song, so that they would know where I was coming from; meaning, not the original song but the new verse I had written on the way to the convention. So, with the power of the God flowing through me, Harold Pickett on guitar, Clyde Maness on bass and myself on fiddle  performed “House of the Rising Sun” but with these words as the intro instead, “There is, a House, at the end of the street, Where we go to worship God, and many a poor boy, has waited for judgment day, to accept the Spirit of the Lord.”

After that verse, we kicked the song into overdrive and the rest was a blur. I know I couldn’t have won anything monetarily, for I could barely contain the energy that swept through my fingertips as the bow nearly flew off the strings. There was a complimentary applause following our performance, but I think most folks were just being polite. I followed up the fiddle with an old Tom T. Hall song on my guiatar, while I sang and played, “Me and Jesus“. I left the stage, shaking from the adrenaline rush that had come from the fiddle performance and prayed I had not dishonored God in any way. Afterward, all I could think of was the TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert and how it was God playing that night, not me. Regardless of how it sounded, I was more concerned that I had probably ruined my chance to touch a heart. I kept asking myself, “Did I get in the way of God?” You never know until its over if what you did was respectable in his eyes, but again, I kept the faith and carried on.

Shortly after coming off stage, just as we were about to walk out the door, a young man walked up to me and said, “Now I know who you are. Your that preacher from over around Asheboro aren’t you?” I smiled and thanked him for the compliment but told him I was not a preacher; at least not yet. I told him it was a little ironic that he ask that since I was scheduled to preach my first sermon of my book ministry at the Crestview Wesleyan Church in Asheboro on April 7th. I gave him a card and invited him to come to the service. We shook hands and parted ways.

As we walked out, I realized something special had just transpired.  As we drove home that night, I felt as if I had somewhat achieved my goal; at least one heart had been touched, even if it was a case of mistaken identity… and that was all the prize I needed.

All we ask is that he plays through us in spite of us, in God’s name we pray….Amen!

ps. We were tired and there was a lot more convention left to go when we left. We rarely stay to the end to find out who won. We found out a couple days later that my daughter had won second place in vocals when she sang, “Amazing Grace.” You can bet we were proud of her, thanks be to God!

Do you find yourself getting caught in that trap of feeling like its you, like you have to do better next time? Let me know, and better yet, let me know if you’ve touched someone’s life by something you did recently.

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Too Much Thought for a Simple Mind…

As I watched a portion of the documentary film about the annual TED conference yesterday  http://www.ted.com/ (albeit old news now that it was filmed in 2007), I got the feeling that as much as we try, we often are like waterrunners, sprinting as fast as we can go,  but our legs are submerged in water, impeding our progress, slowing are real abilities.  It was invigorating to see various speakers who ranged from Rick Warren to Larry Brilliant, all with ideas and visions that exceeded what they could do locally, taking these thoughts to the global scale; the God-scale.  They were all interviewed either before or after they spoke and described having the similar feeling, as if they couldn’t do enough on their own to achieve their goals or visions which was part of the reason why they were there at the TED conference.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and was created as a platform to bring together diverse thought and ideas from around the globe in order to concentrate the human capacity for each of the three aspects in hopes to achieve a higher degree of psyche as a global community.

I  began to think about the scope of what we do daily in our own lives and how little if any that affects the outcome of what goes on in the world. That is the fallacy we face.  Yes, we  put our time in for charitable purposes, telling ourselves, “Every little bit helps.” Then we turn around and second guess ourselves, thinking inwardly, “How can this really matter when there are thousands more children who will go hungry, people without adequate housing or enough clean water for entire towns?”  However, in reality, it does take thousands, even millions of tiny inputs to make dreams come true.

Answer: We cannot do it alone.

Each TED prize winner was asked before they left the stage if they would tell the world, if they could have one dream answered, what would it be. Each of the speakers or audience members, many were  entrepreneurs of significant industries or inventions that have transformed our world, were  interviewed in the documentary and realized either before, during or after the conference that those dreams were only capable because of the financial, intellectual and inspirational collective whole in attendance or connected to the conference in some manner.  In other words, it took the world to make changes on a global scale. Granted, there might be the occasional oddity that might take off on its own and become something without little or no input. But the real game changers, the ideas that could make an impact either by, for example,  preventing a global pandemic to creating sustainable housing anywhere in the world, were only going to be possible with the creative minds of the world working in unison.

A global consciousness is what began to emerge as a theme for the movie; a consciousness that seemed to be taking something for granted. This is where it began to bother me, the fact that many of the most brilliant minds were quite full of themselves, egotistical if  you will. Only when they were placed on a global scale did they feel small and insignificant; thus they had for a second stepped into God’s shoes. It was here, they realized they were incapable of the daunting task that would be required to achieve their dream. It was here they realized they needed help.

Now, few of them, if any, gave pause to reflect on the spirituality of what they were creating as a whole. Again, I have to stress here that it is and was exciting to hear and see all of these brilliant minds present their thoughts and visions. While I may not agree with some of them or adhere to their tenants, it was more than inspiring to learn all they had to tell. When I stopped watching, my mind was on fire. I was ready to jump up and do something,..anything, yet here I was getting ready to go to work; another night shift, another proverbial shift in the salt mines.

It was here that the feeling of, “So much to do, but so little time to get it done,” came back. Yes, we might feel as if we are running in place, or submerged in water feeling as if we can’t do enough to make something happen, but what we have to realize is that we cannot do it alone. And if we really think about it, we cannot do it without God. Leaving faith out of the equation is a mistake mankind has made before, when it comes to giving God the credit for what we are capable of acheiving.  When we don’t give credit where credit is due, we will soon find that we will falter and become mislead in what we seek to achieve. We have seen it time and time again in the Old Testament, when the Children of Israel forgot who they were and what they were there for. They sought to build grand temples, only to have them destroyed, again and again, when they would become misguided and wander down the wrong path.

Let us go forward, seeking to make the world a better place, but be cognizant of the fact that we are not alone, neither in our effort nor in our abilities, which were given to us by the creator; God the Father. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves and think we know more than he who hath made all things, great and small.

Let us do great things on a global scale for noble causes, but keep it all in perspective  and may God bless us all.

“O Lord, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You shall be ashamed. “Those who depart from Me Shall be written in the earth, Because they have forsaken the Lord, The fountain of living waters.” – Jeremiah 17:13

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