Please… No More Singalongs!

If you visit any village pub in Ireland of a Saturday night you can join the locals as they sing their favored folk, traditional or drinking sings. A soloist will often lead the chorus and stir up the congregation in unrestrained harmony but, when it comes time to share the much anticipated lament or Caoineadh, the time honored telling of great hardship, loss, betrayel or brokenness, a respectful quietness will settle upon the flock… and towards the end of the telling there will not be a dry eye in the house.


And this is not so much to do with the sad tale itself, but rather the gift of the story teller… for the sweet angelic soprano bar maid or the french hornlike baritone farmer will draw the audience inside the story… and make them feel that the telling was just for them.  These balladeers carry in themselves a deep understanding of both the sacred shared moment and, their responsibility to lead their spiritual kinfolk across troubled waters.

They are not given the story telling duties just because they have a fine voice, or for any physical beauty, youth, wisdom or their standing in the community. They are called to this role  because they carry the gift. And, for reasons not quite known or understood, they have an anointing to move the hearts of young and old, rich or poor.

If you visit most any Church on Sunday morning, more often than not you can join in a fine sing along. Some of these event centers specialize in joyful sounds, others more traditional and on occasion there will be tears amongst the congregation members as the deeper meaning of a hymn or song hits home. But rarely, will a singer or musician carry an understanding or authority to reach into the hearts of the visitors and deposit a treasure so fine or tender as the song of the Irish bar maid.

In the Irish community (and many other tribal or non corporate communities around the world) the gift to move the hearts of men, woman and children (through music, song, fine art, theater) is considered a high honor. Those that give themselves to this calling are treasured while the youngsters that show inklings of the natural talent are encouraged to fan into flames these giftings and apprentice themselves to the musical ‘Gandalf’s’ or  experienced anointed one’s near or far.

In the modern world, the concept or word ‘Anointed’ has been belittled as if it belonged to another time… an ancient word no longer in use… or, if someone speaks of it today they are often labelled as so ‘last century’. But a simple meaning; to be anointed is to be enabled… or allowed… or given permission. It is most difficult to develop a natural gift when permission is denied… even if it goes unsaid.

If you are happy with plain old singalongs then far be it for me to be a stone in your  shoe… or a fly in your ointment. But I have no time for them. I also have no time for ever trite happily- resolved testimonies or predictable faith based movies, or hallmark designed artwork.  I would rather go without than suffer a life of mediocrity. But that’s me. I’m weird like that.

I do have a lot of time however for those with the natural gift to sing and play music or create and tell stories through their various art expression. My heart aches for them in fact. Sheep without a shepherd.

If you want to continue this discussion or would like to have some old geezer from last century visit your community to pour a drop or two of oil on your musicians, artists and communicators, then contact us at Planted by the Water. You can also leave a disagreeable comment… we like open discussions. It comes from hanging out in Irish bars.

Keys Were Designed to Open Stuff

I had a lovely moment alone at the office early this morning and at some point I began to sing this phrase…

“I left the door open for you… so come right in”

& then

“I have given you keys to every door… ever made”

And then I saw a moving picture (kind of dream sequence) of me in a type of an old castle, down deep in the dungeons and on a wall I found a large key ring with keys of all sizes. Each key represented a door. The smaller keys belonged to the doors that I was already able to open… and each key’s size was determined by either how much I used it or understood how to use it or… believed in its actual existence.

Some keys were too big for me to even lift.


And so I looked at one of the largest keys and saw that it was for the door to wealth. I dragged the key over to a door that was locked and I knew somehow that this door had two names. On the side facing me it was called Poverty, but… I sensed that speaking to this door was the secret to the key… rather than any heavy lifting… and after I spoke to the door to open, I saw that the other side of the door was called Wealth.

For as I waited there asking wisdom about the keys I understood that the shape of a key was merely a symbol, for the kingdom keys come in many shapes and forms. A key could be speaking or proclaiming, it could be giving or sacrificing or letting go, it could be waiting still, fasting, calling on the name of Jesus, loving unconditionally, obedience, repenting, serving, following, worshiping alone or calling many others to worship.

And in this ‘dream scape’ I knew that the keys to the kingdom had been given to all of us. We are all invited inside the kingdom and, when we are in that place we can begin to decipher each key, understand its value, its purpose and learn how and when to use each key.

I stayed in that dream place for as long as I could… considering the use and purpose of different keys. I tried speaking and singing to several doors that seemed locked to me and in this realm, when one large door opened I saw another picture of me standing on a platform in the sky, just above my earthly life. I could see LA, my house, all around the greater city and then I understood that, while I could freely enter this place of quietness, wisdom and presence, it was right here where I am today, not on some distant mountain top. It is a slightly foreign notion to accept… that the door is always open, that I am invited, and that it is up to me to enter… and linger as long as I am able.

The Release

I want to invite you to watch our new short film entitled “The Release” which tells the story of a victim of child abuse who, after an encounter with a mysterious man, finds the courage to let go of her past and allow the healing process to begin in her life.

The film will challenge some viewers, while playing the role of a timely intervention to others.

Emotional wounds are not so easily detected or understood. There is no X-ray machine on which we can lay our broken hearts or troubled minds and for many of us, the wounds of our childhood, having been left untreated for so long have caused us to limp through life without any understanding or belief in a cure or… release.

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If, after watching The Release you want more information about emotional healing, then please visit this help page.

And if you want more information on how you can use this short film in your community, church or counseling center please visit our media page.

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Here’s a link to the song featured at the end of the movie.

From One Perspective We are all Special

The other day we were walking through a quiet neighborhood on our way to a hike in the San Gabriel Mountains. Blue skies were sparring with white and grey clouds and there was a lovely light that did strange things to the colors of trees, leaves , flowers and foliage. Or at least the light did strange things to my eyes, for I am, what the ignorant, ill informed, biased, mean spirited and loud majority label as color blind.

When passing this particular tree I asked my wife ‘what color are those leaves?’.

Now this may seem a strange question or mode of conversation but it is one with which she is most familiar and, I have learned, through trial and error (especially when buying clothes) that it’s best to obtain her ‘second’ opinion before I blurt out my own.

And she replies… ‘A grey-greenish kind of color’

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And my wife lovingly looks at me and says ‘you’re special’.

And I say to myself. She’s right… I am special. I can see colors that 92% of the people living on the earth today cannot see. I feel sorry for the rest of you… I really do.

Continue reading “From One Perspective We are all Special”

Waiting for God Oh!

Sometimes we have to wait a long time to receive an answer….. often years…. and after a while the question, desire, need or quest may have changed or been forgotten…. because we have changed and the answer we first sought is now quite irrelevant or… it just doesn’t matter anymore.

I am inspired by the 4th century desert fathers and mothers…. ordinary people who chose the way of the hermit…. sensing to leave behind all their belongings, their friends, their reputations, their dreams…. they embraced a life of solitude in the deserts of Egypt, Palestine and Syria. Of course public opinion raged against them….. they were deemed crazy…… and though many were poorly educated peasants, former slaves and prostitutes, some of these and prostitutes, some of these men and woman were giving up vast incomes, houses, careers and good family names….. all in the search of something better……. something they knew they couldn’t find in their current lifestyles.

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Of course most of the ‘new seekers’ returned home disappointed because they were not given the answer they desired.

Busy people demand immediate solutions to their problems.

No the desert fathers and mothers were prone to offer suggestions like this ….. “friend, consider the farmer….. he understands the seasons… first he sows… then he waters…. and then waits patiently, allowing nature do work all things together in perfect harmony… in its own time.”

Waiting isn’t easy…. if it were… well… anyone could do it.