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Monday, February 27, 2006

Listen: Tyler James - "Stay Humble"

“My comfort and my glory are shaken when I see that my life’s not a story about me.”

Download (free)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Who's in the band?

When I go play concerts with a full band (we call ourselves “Matthew Smith & Indelible Grace,” and we do so with a completely straight face, unless you tickle us), it is a revolving cast of friends who fill in the different instrument duties (bass, drums, electric guitar).

The question I often get asked by concert promoters is “Who’s in the band this time?” Now, this may be completely in my head, but I get the distinct impression that under their breaths, as they wait for my answer, they are whispering “Please say Derek Webb/Sandra McCracken/R.C. Sproul/Bono no whammies no whammies no whammies.” Of course, I am always sad to disappoint them when I tell them three names that they have almost surely never heard of.

So, in case you are wondering, the late February dates will be Tripp Ethridge on drums, Jeff Irwin on bass, and Clint Wells on electric guitar. On the March dates, Cason Cooley will replace Clint. Clint will shake his fist angrily for having to sit out for a keyboard player playing guitar. I love you Clint. (Be sure to check out Clint’s work on the Red Mountain Music records).


Interests: photography, asking questions, surgery


Interests: zoos, massages, Emergen-C, asthma


Interests: cynicism, answering Tripp’s questions, inappropriate swearing, a surprisingly extensive knowledge of the Bible


Interests: pescatarianism, good restaurant service, being reasonable


Interests: freaking out, bad posture, prunes

Please come out to see us, enjoy these hymns, and do say hi afterwards. We are often painfully awkward, but do appreciate it.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Thailand pictures.

We are back from Thailand. Cason is running a fever and I am still a bit sick as well. We had a great time there, and had many adventures.

Phuket Town

This is what America is exporting to the world.

Restaurant in Phuket Town. Cason got the green curry.

I got the pattai. And looked unusually handsome.

Me on a Valentine's Day dinner "cruise." Not so fun without my wife.

Firedancers overtook our boat. The smell of gasoline was overwhelming. The guy on the far right acted bored and barely did anything. We were all afraid they would accidentally set us on fire.

Cason and I befriended this little elephant. We didn't name him, but I think we would have named him Pepe. You can imagine what the trainer thinks of us from the look on his face.

This was as awesome as it looks.

Not pictured: playing music twice a day while sick. It wasn't all elephants and firedancers, people!

Thursday night we played a concert. It is always a little awkward when you've been leading worship for a week to suddenly play a concert of the same hymns, so I put together a setlist of songs we hadn't used up to that point. I generally play a similar setlist at every concert, so this was kind of a gamble, but I really enjoyed it:

Jesus Everlasting King
O Come And Mourn With Me A While
Love Constraining To Obedience
Approach My Soul
Lo He Comes
I Asked The Lord
My Lord I Did Not Choose You
Free Grace
Arise My Soul Arise
All I Owe
Jesus I My Cross Have Taken

We loved our time in Thailand, and I am further encouraged and convinced that these hymns are tremendously powerful, beautiful reflections of the Gospel. I was also stirred up to see the Spirit moving across the world through the work of these missionaries. I could consider them heroes for what they do, but they mainly just made me think that Jesus is real and active and worth believing in, which I think is better than thinking missionary work is cool or admirable.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Read: Shlog

I can't help but mention that I have been on the edge of my proverbial seat reading each new entry on Shaun Groves' blog for the past few days. Shlog (as he calls it), is one of my favorite blogs, and a couple of weeks ago he stopped updating it (this would not be unusual for mine, but he is actually good at frequently updating his).

His recent Two Weeks Ago Today posts have been chilling. He's turned off Comments, which makes it all the more strange and dramatic. Start reading with this post, and go from there. I wonder how it will turn out, even if it will turn out, per se.

Safe in Phuket.

Sorry for not posting earlier. We had a lot of fun the first day, and then I got a little virus that took me out for a while. I'm feeling a bit better, but am not out of the woods yet, so please do pray.

It has been great to get to know the missionaries and learn of what God is doing all over the world. There are some truly amazing stories, and it's a strange and wonderful experience to lead these folks in worship. Many of the lyrics have new meanings in this context. Last night, as I croaked through "His Love Can Never Fail" with a very sore throat, I was taken aback by what we were singing. It is one thing to sing these in "normal" circumstances, but when you know that there are people in the room who are venturing into parts of the world where Christians have never been before, where there is a real, physicial threat, it is quite different.

I do not ask to see the way my feet will have to tread
but only that my soul may feed upon the Living Bread.
Tis better far that I should walk by faith close to His side.
I may not know the way I go but, oh, I know my guide.

His love can never fail. His love can never fail.
My soul is satisfied to know His love can never fail.

And if my feet would go astray they cannot for I know
that Jesus guides my falt’ring steps as joyfully I go.
And though I might not see his face, my faith is strong and clear
that in each hour of sore distress my Savior will be near.

I will not fear, tho’ darkness come abroad o’er all the land,
If I may only feel the touch of His own loving hand.
And tho’ I tremble when I think how weak I am and frail,
my soul is satisfied to know His love can never fail.

Pictures and more to come...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Layover in Taipei, Taiwan

Cason and I are sitting in a cafe in the Taipei airport, waiting for our flight to Phuket, Thailand. We just had our second breakfast of the day: noodle dishes (mine was beef), and are enjoying some grapefruit juice. Earlier, I talked to my parents and wife on iChat audio. Good times.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Cason Cooley and I are leaving this afternoon to go to Thailand to lead worship for a missionary conference. Please pray for our safe travel, health, and that God will be glorified through this trip, as well as for my wife as she holds down the fort here. I'll try to blog some while I'm there and post some pictures of our adventures.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Winter mix

I made a winter mix CD for my wife this week, mostly of songs I've bought through iTunes. Here they are, in case you are interested in what's been going through my ears.

1. Gorillaz - "Feel Good Inc (Single Edit)"
2. The Rolling Stones - "Let Me Down Slow"
3. The Arcade Fire - "Wake Up"
4. Sufjan Stevens - "What Goes On" (Beatles cover)
5. Mary J. Blige + U2 - "One"
6. Rosanne and Johnny Cash - "September When It Comes"
7. Alicia Keys + Bono - "Don't Give Up (Africa)" (Peter Gabriel cover)
8. Josh Ritter - "Blame It On The Tetons" (Modest Mouse cover)
9. The Arcade Fire - "Cold Wind"
10. Gillian Welch - "Black Star" (Radiohead cover)
11. Melissa Etheridge - "Refugee" (Tom Petty cover)
12. Paul McCartney + U2 - "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
13. Damien Rice + Lisa Hannigan - "Unplayed Piano (Chris Lord-Alge Mix)"
14. The Rolling Stones - "Streets Of Love"

Wow, it's half covers (if you count "One" and "Sgt. Pepper's"). With all the new songs that are being written everyday, it's interesting that new takes on familiar songs are still so gripping.

What have you been listening to?