31 August 2006

Mornings have turned cool from (hopefully) the last few days of muggy summer days here in Lancaster city. I've been lax in writing this summer but now with fall soon here and the little children back to school -- not that any of those children are mine; my wife just teaches some of them -- I will be writing a bit more.

A week or two ago I set up another myspace.com account for my music in hopes that I shall soon start playing out again. If you are reading this then you most likely have already heard my 2001 CD but in any case there is a track from that up as well as a very rough demo of a newer song which is unlike any thing else I've written. Listen, comment, and be a friend at myspace.com/chrisflinchbaugh .

In the middle of the summer I spent a few nights in Harrisburg with Nathan Horst doing overdubs (bass, wurlitzer, slide guitar) for Johanna Espamer's CD, KNOWN, which will be in her hands any day now and hopefully soon after in yours and mine. This project was very refreshing to participate in. The musicians (Chandy Thomas, Joel Semke, Nathan Horst, Johanna, and myself) created the arrangements together in a room together (with Gary Shelton: co-producer) and practiced them for a week before recording them as much together as possible. David Burger wrote and performed (real!) string arrangements for a few songs. They turned out really well. In short, I really recommend this CD whether you appreciate it for it's worshipfulness or it's comforting vibe... or both. Almost forgot, Grammy Award winning engineer Richard Dodd (George Harrison, Tom Petty, etc) mastered the CD!

PRINCE CASPIAN, in the CHRONICLES OF NARNIA series, is my most recently finished book. My set of the series has it has book two and so I read it second this time around. This is good bed-time reading.

31 May 2006

You may now see a good number of our wedding photos, directly, by clicking here . Click "view complete fotopage" at the bottom to see other non-wedding photos or use the link to the right on the this blog. Once you find a set that you want to see all of you must click "view all photos" to see more than just the first three.

Happy viewing!

25 May 2006

Megan and I have been having church with some folks on the east side of town on Lime Street; a house church plant out of Weaverland Mennonite. How did we find them? Dawn (one of Megan's bride's maids and college/current friend) and Greg Yoder (newer but dear friend for me) are part of the church planting team that founded and lead the group and they, after telling us about it a few times and us going on and on about what we want to do church/community wise, they invited us to visit. Upon arriving that first week over two months ago we discovered that they would start reading CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE by Richard Foster together. That coupled with the feel of a functional group with an active purpose has us committed to stay at least through the book. Darin Horst, one of the other founders, and the Yoder's were over last week to pray with us about the vision Megan and I have to plant a house church and live in community. It was a great time of sharing of our visions and stories.

How did I forget to mention this? I suppose having written it in a number of emails or given it enthusiastic mention in conversation that I had documented it's existence here. Alas I had not.

Tonight we will start attending a summer small group from Millersville University Christian Fellowship of which Duane Metzler is the pastor. You may remember Duane as the pastor who did the vows/communion portion of our wedding ceremony. He asked us to a planning meeting for their summer groups and upon the group coming up with some ideas for topics I suggested a few books. In this group the goal is to talk about and through social/religious issues and Christian living and, of course, their interplay. So of course this ends up entailing and adjusting everything but this is a good theme to approach it from. As our guide we will be using Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo's ADVENTURES IN MISSING THE POINT which came out in paperback at the beginning of the year. I read most of it about a year and a half ago but am enjoying the refresher.

Please keep Megan and I in your prayers as we discern the timing and placing of our visions. Pray also that God refines and corrects our vision when needed.

11 May 2006

This weekend I will be my first set with the James Chester Band. I will be playing bass with them at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA on Saturday night. I haven't had the chance to play with, my longtime friend and former bandmate (TLM), Adam Ryan (drums) since Jason and Krista Wendle's wedding a few years back. And finally Aaron Gotwalt and I will combine musical sounds. More as it happens.

Married life is still quite grand, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Working at Rhubarb's on Columbia Ave in Lancaster is very satisfying and I love my coworkers.

Megan and I have only watched a few movies over the past two monthes and I would recommend two to almost anyone: JUNE BUG and GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK . We also watched MATCH POINT late this past Saturday night. Certainly the best Woody Allen movie in years but honestly it didn't really seem like a Woody Allen movie at all. I thought it was very well done but certainly a chilling toward the end and a bit creepy. And long? Maybe, yes. Necessary to gain some sort of insight in life? Not likely. But Scarlett Johansson
IS amazing.

Johanna Espamer's album is really turning into something wonderful. Though in all honesty, the arrangments were wonderful almost from the first practice. You can't go wrong with those songs and voice like that together. Nathan Horst and Gary Shelton have done a great job producing.

Update complete for now.

07 April 2006

Another new link to the right just above Articles of Interest. My Fotopage. Presently you may view some photos from the honeymoon and random ones from my old apartment in Norwood, Ohio. More to come, including some cool wedding photos.

03 April 2006

See the flashing button at the top of my side bar? Click it! That means that you should (1) check out their music and then (2) vote for my friends FAREWELL FLIGHT in their quest to play Cornerstone Festival in Bushnell, Illinois.

Seriously, do yourself a favor and listen to a few of their songs.

23 March 2006

An update in brief for anyone interested:

Megan and I were married on March 4 in the evening at the beautiful Ephrata Cloister. We were blessed to have friends and family from far away (Spain, England, Colorado, Ohio, North Carolina, Maryland) and very close share in the ceremony and the food/festivities after. Thank to all of you who came and/or sent gifts our way. We shall write soon.

We spent the next week (mostly) in a cottage in Claryville NY. While there we hiked up a mountain 1 1/2 times, traveled to a few towns within two hours (at least one was highly over rated), Megan finished reading COLOSSIANS REMIXED and I got further into ROBBING THE BEES and AN INTRODUCTION TO THE OLD TESTAMENT, we cooked much, listened to interesting public radio shows that we hadn't heard before, played cards, and all the other things that people do on honeymoons. Great time. Megan said that she thinks she hadn't relaxed so much in her entire life... at least I think that's what she said.

At the moment we don't have internet access at home but are planning on buying a notebook computer on Saturday and hope to be up and running into next week sometime.

This past Saturday Megan and I participated in the peace walk sponsored by the Lancaster Coalition for Peace and Justice and the Lancaster Inter Church Peace Witness. There were plenty of people from all the different "angles" on peace and anti-war issues and an especially encouraging turnout of Christians in the form of Mennonites, Anabaptists, and Presbyterians. Tonight I will be attending a workshop with the LCPJ. Finally, good things on this horizon.

Megan found a spinnet piano for me for my wedding present. Can you believe that?! She is amazing.

In the next few days I will be deciding on which job to take. One which was offered to me now suddenly seems to be up on the air while another as come through as solid if I want it. There are many factors to weigh: schedule, kind of job, pay, benefits and, the most important, which one God wants for me. If you read this soon, keep my in your prayers and let me know if you hear anything!

Pictures and more words soon.

13 February 2006

It is truly sad that this lesson could not have been learned before Wilkinson set off to Africa. God, I pray that it actually HAS been learned and that there is time and willingness to turn that program around to still do some good. Here is the article:

The Prayer of Jabez falls short in Africa
by David Batstone [Sojourners]

Bruce Wilkinson, author of the best-selling book The Prayer of Jabez, made a big splash nearly four years ago when he announced his ambitious plan to help children suffering from AIDS in Africa.

Not everything for Wilkinson has gone according to plan, unfortunately. A page one feature in the Dec. 19 The Wall Street Journal captures the sad tale in a nutshell: "In 2002 Bruce Wilkinson, a Georgia preacher whose self-help prayer book had made him a rich man, heard God's call, moved to Africa and announced his intention to save one million children left orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. In October [2005], Wilkinson resigned in a huff from the African charity he founded. He abandoned his plan to house 10,000 children in a facility that was to be an orphanage, bed-and-breakfast, game reserve, Bible college, industrial park and Disneyesque tourist destination in the tiny kingdom of Swaziland. What happened in between is a story of grand hopes and inexperience, divine inspiration and human foibles. His departure left critics convinced he was just another in a long parade of outsiders who have come to Africa making big promises and quit the continent when local people didn't bend to their will."

It is not my aim to gloat at Wilkinson's failure. To the contrary, I mourn what this means for the millions of African children in crisis who apparently will not benefit from his efforts. I also want to honor Wilkinson's desire to help the least fortunate. It would have been easy for him to take the wealth he gained from his book sales and live a life of personal comfort.

This chain of events, however, should not pass without a moment of theological reflection. The "blessed life" that Wilkinson has helped to promote carries with it a number of assumptions about where God is present in the world, and how God acts in response to the prayers of the faithful.

The Prayer of Jabez is based on a passage out of the book of Chronicles, in which a devoted man named Jabez asks God for a favor: "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from hurt and harm!" The fact that God honors Jabez' prayer and blesses him with great riches indicates to Wilkinson a God-principle. If we in pure heart ask God for a blessing - and do so using the very words that Jabez prayed - then God will bring wondrous gifts into our life. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Wilkinson interprets the wild commercial success of his books (roughly 20 million copies sold combined) as yet another proof of the miraculous power of the Jabez prayer. In other words, it worked for Jabez, it worked for Wilkinson, and now it should work for you. With the fiasco in Africa now behind him - and the full Journal report makes clear that fiasco is the appropriate term - I wonder if Wilkinson has reconsidered his theology.

Maybe because I spent so many years in poor regions of the globe I could never accept the prayer-in-blessing-out approach to faithful living. Straight to the point, I have known too many devoted Christians for whom life did not bring them material blessing. Their children still died of infectious diseases that plagued their village. They could not avoid the violence that dictators and ideologues so often use to cow the powerless. Their territory did not expand because their only path for survival was a daily labor with their hands. Yet they did not lose faith, or cease praying for God's blessing.

As I ponder on their lives, I find a more fitting theology for God's presence and action in the world to be laid out in the book of Hebrews. There we are encouraged to have "faith in things not yet seen," and are offered models of individuals who tried to lead devoted lives that honor God. We read that some of them did receive great material blessings, while others ended up in the dens of lions or stoned due to their principled living. We learn, in other words, that God does hear their prayers and loves them profoundly, but it does not always bring them material riches or expanded territory.
Wilkinson's doctrine in fact implies that social structures are immaterial. An individual reciting the right prayer can transcend an AIDS epidemic in his or her village or escape being bought and sold into slavery (like 27 million people on this planet yet today). Perhaps now that Wilkinson has immersed himself in Africa, he better understands that the curse of poverty is not a spiritual punishment, or an indication of a lack of faith. To bring blessings to the orphans and widows of Africa, a dramatic shift in values - political, economic, and personal - will be required. And that challenge cannot be owned by Africans alone; it falls squarely on the shoulders of us in rich nations, who enjoy such great material "blessings."

Just like the next Bible reader, I could pick out individual passages that seem to suggest that God will give us whatever we desire as long as we ask for it with a pure heart. "You can even move this mountain" with such a prayer, as Jesus teaches his disciples in the gospels. I do not summarily discount these passages, nor do I assume that we should never pray for rain in a time of drought.

But the weight of the biblical message balances heavily toward a prayer life that yields courage, love, and compassion to do the will of God. The expectation of material gain and miraculous blessings may even distract us on that pilgrimage. The passage in Hebrews calls us, based on past heroes of the faith, "to run the race in front of us," confident that devoting our lives to God's work is all the reward we will ever need.

08 February 2006

In just over three weeks Megan Kaufman and I will be married and I will leave my present home with Luke Foley and Brandon Sundberg for the wonders of downtown Lancaster. My things have been moving slowly from here to there over the past two months trying to find space to fit in there. I must agree that the slow move is the best way if you have the option as trying to combine things all at once would just be overwhelming. Megan is wonderfully patient though, even though she might not think that she is. It's an exciting and very busy time. Oh! Last night we got the marriage license in Lancaster at the court house. Taking one's belt off in a public place, even to go through a metal detector, is really strange though it's actually the putting it back on after the fact that is the strangest. The police guard said "Those mil-i-tar-y style buckles will get ya ev'ry time. (chuckle)" Totally worth it though. Mmmmmmmmmmmm... March!

Nathan Horst (formerly of Farewell Flight) and I finished mixing and brushing up Tiffany Yon's EP, CARE OF, a few nights ago. It should be available during the Firestorm conference at Life Center in Harrisburg on February 22. She started this project over the summer and many hands have stopped in since to touch it up. It will be good to have it available for more ears to hear and Kristin Royer (computersspeakfrench.com) did a great design for the sleeve so it will be worth seeing as well.

Luke, Robbe, and Mark should be home from their second Farewell Flight tour this coming week. Can't wait to see them and hear all about it. If you haven't picked up their new EP, NORTHERN, or at least heard the tracks on myspace.com/farewellflight you should. My Gibson J45 acoustic guitar, played by Luke, is mixed nice and front on some of the songs. Good tones and great new songs.

Kim Zimmerman's live cd, DEEP, is now available through her site. I spent much time working on Kim's music this fall and winter. Thanks for all the wonderful fair trade coffee Kim!

Lately I have been trying to finish PROFIT OVER PEOPLE by Noam Chomsky and started a book on sex and relationships for (to-be) married people called SHEET MUSIC which Megan read just before me. I am looking forward to reading more in the coming weeks with no new projects until after the wedding. Rent NOAM CHOMSKY REBEL WITHOUT A PAUSE if you ever wanted a good look at what Chomsky is all about or just want to challenge your thinking at all. Highly recommended. I also watched THE CONSTANT GARDENER during a few meals over the past two weeks... What a disturbing and gripping film. Thank God for it.

I will be twenty-five years old on Saturday.
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