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Jesus Joshua 24:15 Newsletter June 2009

The Band:
Bobby Shepherd: Drums
Steve Pettit: Lead Vocals
Jay Woody: Bass
Will Rauser: Guitars

The Crew:
Mark Bussell: Webmaster, Computer Tech, Photography, Roadie
Tammy Woody: Video Production, Wardrobe
George Sparks: Roadie

Editor's Lead

Real Conviction or Just Avoiding the Issue?

Hi, and welcome to the June edition of the Jesus Joshua 24:15 Newsletter. This month, I would like to tackle yet another issue that has been steadily annoying me, but I have had a hard time placing my finger on the reason why.

Recently, one of my good friends posted a link to a rather interesting article entitled "Jesus Junk," by a Mr. Jason Janz. Now, before I go off on my tirade, I wish it to be known that I do not know Mr. Janz, but judging from the article he wrote, I think he is a thoughtful and intelligent man with deep conviction.

His article, in a nutshell, is a reasonable criticism of how a lot of Christianity's traditions and symbols have been "commercialized." Hence the title of his article, "Jesus Junk." On the surface of his contention, I agree with his assertions.

But, as I read deeper into the article, I started to notice a trend that seems a little disturbing to me. While there is a lot (unfortunately) of legitimacy to Mr. Janz's conclusions regarding the over-commercialization of Christianity, there was an undercurrent of some secular and political conditioning in some of his words. It was as if Mr. Janz was, unintentionally, giving credence to some of the world's opinions regarding Christianity and agreeing with them. Now, let me say up front that I do not see a conspiracy or falseness in Mr. Janz's convictions. But, as I shall try to explain, he seems to be an unwitting pawn of cynical secular ideology. First, let me tell you where I agree with Mr. Janz.

He writes:
"While I believe that some Christian products serve a good purpose, most Christian merchandising, or Jesus Junk, cheapens the very faith we seek to proclaim."

I agree. I do think it is a little ridiculous to have "Christian breath mints." Does not the Bible say that bad breath falls on the just and the unjust alike? Oh, maybe that was "rain." My bad. Anyway, the essentials of Janz's statement rings very true. There is a cheapening of the Faith trying to market it in such ways.

Janz continues:
"Picture this. A man, dead in trespasses and sins, sits on Waikiki Beach as he gazes across the mostly naked bodies baking in the sun. He decides to take a stroll/strut down the water’s edge to “see what he can see.” Luckily, he glances down and sees an impression in the sand — right there in bold letters on the sand “Follow” and a little further “Jesus.” His eyes follow the footsteps and sure enough.

About 15 feet further down the beach is a beautiful babe wearing just enough clothes to keep a squirrel warm on a windy day. Conviction overwhelms him as he gazes at her. He runs to her and grabs her hand and says, “Please, give me a reason for the hope that lies within you.”

She says, “I’d love to. I’ve been waiting for this divine appointment.”

He takes in her breath, recently made fresh by her Scripture Mint. And right there, she flips her hair over her shoulder, takes out her EvangeCube, kneels with him on the beach, and leads him in the sinner’s prayer. As they part, she encourages him to take her sandals and continue to spread the Word wherever he goes. After all, how beautiful are the feet of them ...

I’m not nearly as concerned with the pragmatic argument as I am with the reductionist argument. This type of “evangelism” cheapens the Gospel and reduces it to easy-believism on its best day. Jesus hung on a cross and died to atone for our sins. To be saved, one must repent of his sin and self-righteousness and receive Christ. A bloody cross, a risen Christ, and a humbled sinner cannot be communicated in sandy footprints."

Again, I must agree. This type of thinking defies reality, and only serves to justify doing or wearing certain things by slapping a Christian label on it.

Now that I seem to be in total agreement with Mr. Janz, allow me to express where I am not. He writes these words:
"Why do we, as Christians, feel compelled to plaster our “faith” over anything and everything? I have come to the conclusion that we usually do so for three reasons."

Now stop. Initially, he makes a fair point. And I am going to list the 3 reasons and respond where I think Mr. Janz is off track.

"First, many people trust that wearing Jesus Junk will result in conversions."
Okay, so far, I think his point is sound. But, would you feel that way if someone was wearing a T-shirt bearing the logo of a beer company?

Would you not think "He must want me to buy beer," or that maybe this person just likes beer? Or maybe, he/she just likes the look of the shirt? So, would you then conclude, "First, many people think that wearing Beer Junk will result in more drunkenness,"? If you answer 'yes', then you would have to conclude that this form of advertising is effective. If you answered 'no', then you would have to conclude that this stuff is just not a big deal.

"Second, many Christians seem to believe Jesus Junk promotes Christian community."
Okay, on it's face, that point is sound. I think he is right, but I am not sure that promoting community is such a bad thing. The early Church promoted community. So what? What is wrong with trying to show that you are different from everyone else? And now this is where I begin to get a little hesitant.

"It is somewhat natural to feel this way. After all, the Christian culture warriors raise millions of dollars with a steady drumbeat: “We are besieged. We are marginalized. We are going to lose the culture war if you don’t send in your money.”
On the last sentence, I think he makes a fair point. However, I hate to be the one to break it to Mr. Janz, but we Christians are besieged. And we are being marginalized. And it isn't because some of us sell trinkets that have verses on them or because some Christians might be trying to make a buck (legitimately, of course).

In various arenas, from the political to the social, from the marketplace to the media (especially the media), Christians are being mocked, maligned, impugned, ridiculed, and marginalized. It is not a figment of our collective imagination that Christianity is in the process of being bullied. Jesus warned us that there would come times of conflict with the world. The Scripture even warns us that there would be those who would persecute us convinced they were doing "God's work." And we see that very attitude manifesting itself in the moral indignance people have toward Christians. Many non-believers have their own sense of morals offended when Christians say or do things that appear un-compassionate or legalistic.

I guess where I am a little uneasy with Mr.Janz' analysis of the "Jesus Junk" is not so much the issue of the "Jesus Junk" itself, but the undercurrent of his thinking, which is only a microcosm of a larger group. That group is a collection of believers in this day and age that think that Christianity should be more subtle and less bold about their faith. This thinking girds itself with the veneer of despising the commercialization of Jesus (which is a noble sentiment) but in reality is simply afraid of what the world thinks. I shall try to explain what I mean.

I see it as cowardice masquerading as Christian virtue. Basically, I think that many modern Western believers have become afraid of the world's opinion of us. To go even further, I think that were they to even concede that we Christians are being bullied or marginalized, they believe "it's probably our fault anyway." This, to me, is dangerous thinking for believers to be caught up in.

In an effort to tamp down on real or perceived misbehavior by Christians, we may be giving in to the world's feeling that we Christians should just "be quiet" and that we are like children "best to be seen, not heard. And even better to not be seen..."

Believers now want only to spread the "Love of Christ", and that is also noble and correct. I'll tell you right now, the world has no problem with the "Love of Christ." As long as that love does not require any changes in our behavior, then we're all for it. As soon as Jesus instructs us to "take up our cross and follow Him", then the Love of Christ isn't so attractive.

We believers are also called to be the "watchmen on the wall" (Ezekiel 33). We are to tell people about the truth, no matter how hard it is to swallow. That is part of the Love of Christ that the world doesn't want to hear. And we believers are succumbing to the instruction of the world how to handle Kingdom business, rather than on the King's instructions.

No, I am sure that "Jesus Junk" is not the best way to instruct on the business of the Kingdom. But neither is following the world's opinion.

Top Ten List

For this month's Top Ten List, I would like to offer my top 10 albums.

I like them for various reasons, but mainly because these albums are classic feats of production, musicality, performance, songwriting, attitude, and sonic variety. Some are secular artists, some are not. I am speaking from a purely technical perspective.

  1. "Empire" by Queensryche
  2. "Fair Warning" by Van Halen
  3. "Miracle Mile" by Gaurdian
  4. "Mob Rules" by Black Sabbath
  5. "Gretchen Goes To Nebraska" by King's X
  6. "Pyromania" by Def Leppard
  7. "Images And Words" by Dream Theater
  8. "Lovewar" by Lovewar
  9. "Countdown To Extinction" by Megadeth
  10. "Fear Not" by Fear Not

Guitar Points from Will

Building Chords: Manipulating the 3rd

Last time we examined how to build chords using the Root(1) and the 5th(5) of a major scale. This time out, we are going to manipulate the middle interval, the 3rd. It is crucial to understand that the 3rd determines whether a chord is Major or Minor. If the chord is Major, then the 3rd will be called a "Major 3rd" (M3) or simply "3". If the chord is Minor, then the 3rd will be called a "Minor 3rd" (m3) or simply a "b3". Now, as last time, we shall build our chords on the 6th string Root.

There will be examples of building the same types of chords from other strings, but for right now (and for simplicity) we shall continue to utilize the 6th string as our starting point. Let's review some scales first. We shall start with the Major scale in the key of G:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 E|-------------------------|| B|-------------------------|| G|-------------------------|| D|----------------2--4--5--|| A|-------2--3--5-----------|| E|-3--5--------------------||

Let's also review the G minor scale, for comparison:

1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 1 E|-------------------------|| B|-------------------------|| G|-------------------------|| D|----------------1--3--5--|| A|-------1--3--5-----------|| E|-3--5--------------------||

FYI, I am not trying to display the easiest way to play these scales.

Rather, I am attempting to illustrate where the intervals lay. Now, let's build a G Major chord and a G minor chord, building only a basic triad:

G Gm E|------------|| B|------------|| G|------------|| D|-0-----0----|| A|-2-----1----|| E|-3-----3----||

As you can see, the 3rd changes position depending upon it's function.

However, it is easier to visualize the effects of manipulating the 3rd when they are played an octave above:

G Major scale in two octaves * 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 E|----------------------------------------2--3-|| B|----------------------------------3--5-------|| G|-------------------------2--4--5-------------|| D|----------------2--4--5----------------------|| A|-------2--3--5-------------------------------|| E|-3--5----------------------------------------||

G minor scale in two octaves * 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 1 E|----------------------------------------1--3-|| B|----------------------------------3--4-------|| G|-------------------------2--3--5-------------|| D|----------------1--3--5----------------------|| A|-------1--3--5-------------------------------|| E|-3--5----------------------------------------||

From these we can now create fretboard shapes that manipulate the 3rd a little easier:

G Gm (M3) (b3) E|--------------------------|| B|--------------------------|| G|-4--------4----3--------3-|| D|-5------5------5------5---|| A|-5----5--------5----5-----|| E|-3--3----------3--3-------||

If you will notice, the first chord (G Major) is voiced from the 6th string G(1)-D(5)-G(1)-B(3). The second chord (Gminor) is voiced G(1)-D(5)-G(1)-Bb(b3).Now, we can further manipulate the chords to create voicings that sound more colorful. Let's just manipulate the string where the 3rd is found:

G Gm Gsus2 Gsus4 G#4 G5 (Doubled) E|-------------------------------|| B|-------------------------------|| G|-4----3----2----5----6----7----|| D|-5----5----5----5----5----5----|| A|-5----5----5----5----5----5----|| E|-3----3----3----3----3----3----||

Bear in mind that some of these examples are not really practical to play. Also, there is no rule that says you have to finger every voice of the chords above. It is okay to omit a note that is impractical to play, as long as that note is not crucial to making the chord sound right. I would probably play the above examples like this:

G Gm Gsus2 Gsus4 G#4 G5 (Doubled) E|-------------------------------|| B|-------------------------------|| G|-4----3----2----5----6----7----|| D|-5----5----x----5----5----5----|| A|-5----5----5----5----5----x----|| E|-3----3----3----x----x----3----||

But, those are my particular ways of playing them. I am still visualizing the shapes in my head, even if I am not actually playing all of the voices. Doubled voices are usually clumsy and mushy sounding, anyway.

Now, let's manipulate other voices in that same 4 string group. We shall manipulate around the "7th" voicing on the fourth string:

G GM7 G7 G6 Gm Gm/M7 Gm7 Gm6 E|-------------------|--------------------|| B|-------------------|--------------------|| G|-4----4----4----4--|--3----3----3----2--|| D|-5----4----3----2--|--5----4----3----3--|| A|-5----5----5----5--|--5----5----5----x--|| E|-3----3----3----3--|--3----3----3----3--||

On the last chord (Gm6) I chose to omit the fifth string voice, simply because it is difficult to play that chord using the 5th string.

However, it is not wrong if you can play it. I just think it is easier to play it my way. Whatever suits your personal needs is fine. Yet, you can still visualize how the voicings can be manipulated this way.

Now, let's manipulate several voicings at the same time:

G G7sus4 Gdim7 G7b5 Gm7b5 G7 Gm7 G9 E|-------------------------------------------|| B|-------------------------------------------|| G|-4----5-----3-----4-----3-----4----3----2--|| D|-5----3-----2-----3-----3-----3----3----3--|| A|-5----5-----4-----4-----4-----x----x----x--|| E|-3----3-----3-----3-----3-----3----3----3--||

There's an infinite number of variations, just with this particular string group.Now, let's just take this idea, and move the Root to different Keys:

Key String Fret Voices C 6 8 1,5,7,3 G 6 3 1,5,b7,b3 D 6 10 1,b5,b7,3 A 6 5 1,b5,b7,b3 E 6 12 1,b5,bb7,b3 B 6 7 1,#5,b7,3 F#(Gb) 6 2 1,5,7,3 C#(Db) 6 9 1,5,b7,4 Ab 6 4 1,#4,b7,3 Eb 6 11 1,5,b7,9 Bb 6 6 1,#5,b7,3 F 6 1 1,5,b7,b3

To further understand the above chart, let me example a few chords built from it:

CM7 Gm7 D7b5 Am7b5 Edim7 B7#5 F#M7 C#7sus4 Ab7#4 GbM7 Db7sus4 Ab7b5 E|----------------------------------------------------|| B|----------------------------------------------------|| G|-9----3----11----5----12-----8-----3-----11------5--|| D|-9----3----10----5----11-----7-----3-----9-------4--|| A|-10---5----11----6----13-----10----4-----11------5--|| E|-8----3----10----5----12-----7-----2-----9-------4--||

Eb9 Bb7#5 Fm7 E|--------------------|| B|--------------------|| G|-10------7------1---|| D|-11------6------1---|| A|-13------9------3---|| E|-11------6------1---||

Once you cycle through manipulating the voices, you can rearrange the chart. Instead of using the 1-5-7-3 voicing in the Key of C, you can change it to 1-5-b7-b3 (or whatever). The point is to learn how to know how to figure out where you are in relation to the root of the chord, and then manipulate the rest of the voicings to suit your needs.

Next time, we'll begin building chords from the 5th string root.

Guitar Points from Will

Double-stop bends

I would like to review a technique that really sounds cool, and isn't too difficult to master; double-stop bends. Now, I have touched on this before, so this will repeat some earlier material. But I would like to embellish some old ideas to make them new.

Double-stop bends do not always have to be full bends. And, they don't always have to be bent to perfect pitch. One of the attractions to the technique for me is that double-stop bends tend to give rather mundane lead lines some grit, fire, emotion, and life. I like to hear two strings being slightly bent to give some inflection to a line, much like using a Southern drawl in your speech to help make a point, or to use slang to give emphasis to a phrase.

First, let's take a simple double-stop lick, unbent:

A7 (or Am7) E|-------------------|| B|--5-----5--7--5----|| G|--5-----5--7--5----|| D|-----7-----------7-|| A|-------------------|| E|-------------------||

Now, that is pretty easy to play, fast or slow. But, to me, it has no life. It's just a series of notes. Exact pitches played evenly. That's fine, if that's the effect you're going for. However, if you were to add some slight bends to your double-stops, you will begin to taste the flavor of a little seasoning;

A7 (or Am7) * * < > * Vib E|------------------------|| B|--5-----5--7(8)7--5-----|| G|--5-----5--7(8)7--5-----|| D|-----7---------------7--|| A|------------------------|| E|------------------------||

* = Slight bend (less than a 1/4 step)\
< = More pronounced bend (approx. a half step)
> = Release the slight bend
vib.= Vibrato

Now this lick has more fire on it. The "slight bends" (less than a 1/4 step) are approximate. They are meant to be felt more than actual pitch. In truth, the bends are slightly out of pitch. It is not enough to sound out-of-tune, but it is enough to add some tension and release to an otherwise bland phrase. It is more vocal-like, in the sense that we do not speak in exact musical pitches, but in scattered and emphasized tones. It creates a sense of individuality in speech, even though we all use the same vocabulary.

Adding things such as vibrato, slight bends, and releases give a phrase more punch, and sometimes even make you sound faster than you really are (probably because there's so much musical space being taken up by less notes floating over the static beat). A distorted tone really helps bring out the string vibrations beating against one another out-of-synch.

Try some other areas of the neck where you can slightly bend two notes to create a strong phrase. I chose the second and third strings for this example, but you can perform this on any combination of strings (even three strings at a time).

News and Events

  • School is letting out! Drive safe, because children may be in the road
  • Please continue to remember James Matney, Mike Kindred, and David Kelsey in your prayers and petitions to the Father. While we have heard some good reports from all sides, some things still are unresolved and incomplete.
  • It is June, but we are looking toward August for a couple of show dates. As usual, nothing is etched in stone, but we'll keep you all updated.
  • June 13 is the 17th wedding anniversary of Will and his wife Juli.
  • If anyone would like to hear music samples, or post more comments to the band, check out our other sites and

A Final Thought

As I close out this edition of the Newsletter, I am watching my now 13-year-old outside mowing the grass. It doesn't seem like that long ago that the only way he could do anything was if I held him in my arms, or marked off the areas of danger to his safety. Now, I look at him and he can handle a very dangerous piece of equipment (if not used properly) with ease, and my mind rests in peace. And now I can trust him to handle bigger jobs with responsibility. Some things are still beyond his capacity to be trusted with. But, right now is a stepping stone to those larger things.

Time has a way of getting away from us. Yet, during the passage of time, I see how God is molding us to handle larger and more dangerous "equipment". We often do not see the process happening in our own lives. When you stop and think about the times that God told you "No" and you didn't understand why, is it possible that it was because you weren't ready to sit on God's "lawnmower"? Is it possible that He had to step you up into that position of responsibility in a progressive manner?

I tend to think that we Christians think that once we receive Jesus as our Savior, we're ready to tackle anything that comes our way. But God, in His infinite wisdom, knowledge, and vision, can see the incomprehensible and irreversible damage we can cause ourselves by jumping into something we're not ready for. We think we're ready, but God knows we're not.

I am not trying to diminish faith. Clearly, with God, all things are possible. But, is that not God's responsibility to decide what is possible for us? We can recognize that God gives us our gifts and abilities long before we implement them for His Kingdom. But, just because we possess those qualities does not mean we're prepared to utilize them at the proper time.

My son has always had the ability to do things, but he has not always possessed the wisdom to know when to use them properly. He needed to be prepared; he needed to be aware of the dangers; he needed for me to constantly remind him of the potential harm to his person; and he needed to see me exampling the proper method for using the equipment.

I think there are times for waiting on the Lord to show us how and when to use those tools He has equipped us with. For if we do not, we may very well harm ourselves or others in the process of "doing God's work."

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