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Welcome to the Back Burner

For everyone that has ever felt that the world around you is too small for your ideas . . .

For everyone that sees the beauty in the grotesqueries of life . . .

For everyone that has identified more with what's in your mind than what's in your home . . .

For everyone that has ever had to field questions from family or friends like "Why in the world would you want to do that!!?" . . .

For everyone that has dreamed bigger than you'd first thought possible . . .

For everyone that has recognized that pain, risk, grief, loss, sorrow, and hurt are as much a part of life as joy, safety, ease, abundance, and comfort . . .

For everyone that has ever felt like there's more to life than what you currently do to earn a paycheck . . .

For everyone that has had to fight, tooth and claw, to be heard by somebody . . .

. . . this blog is for you. It is for you to be encouraged, to be inspired, to be allowed to immerse yourself in the ideas your alter ego has been telling you to let go of. It is for your entertainment, your enlightenment, your benefit. It is for all those that feel they have been forgotten by the world at large. It is for those who are wondering why God would create a person like you, with a mind so capable of formulating new ideas and concepts, and then allow you to be placed in the midst of people that seem content only to compact those ideas down into peacemeal contributions that are but a vague shadow of the original.

It is for those that feel let down by life, but are still hopeful that they can overcome the naysayers and detractors, the obstacles and roadblocks, the self-doubt and pessimism with which they have become so well acquanted.

It is for you.
It is for me.

"The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness." -- Jeremiah 31:3

When I was 7 years old, a man by the name of Dick Mills spoke this scripture as a prophecy over my life. He wrote the scripture reference on my hand in red ink, and on my way back to our seats, told me not to wash my hands for six weeks. I understood his joke but also thought in the back of my head, My parents'll never let that fly.

From the time I was young, I was always looking to try something new. I found comfort in the same things, the typical things of life, the routine, but I also thrived on discovery of the new. Sometimes it was accidental, like when I bit into our aloe plant at the age of 2. Sometimes it was deliberate, like when I pressed my thumb as hard as I could on the blade of a carving knife to see how much force it would take to break my skin. But when I began to find the new in the worlds of music, entertainment, comedy, and acting, that's when the sky above me seemed to open wider than I'd ever seen before.

Since my childhood, I've acted, sang, made people laugh, written songs, played a variety of instruments, and worked with a myriad of other talented people who challenged me in my gifts. But as I got older and found my inspiration coming from infinitely more sources than what I'd been exposed to in my schooling years, I began to see that not everyone around me was digging the same thing. Eventually, I became even more frustrated with the same thing being pumped out by every outlet, as though the whole of the corporate entertainment cosmos decided to create carbon copies with little embellishments here and there. So I began to write.

I opened up a completely different outlet for myself when I began to write. I found it difficult, yet satisfyingly challenging, to consistently push for new ideas, different methods and approaches of old concepts, and new concepts altogether. Out of this forced exercise, I began writing songs. I have over 120 finished lyrical pieces, and about 40 with music attached, and all I have to do now is find someone proficient enough in guitar and piano that can also match the vision I have to get these songs down on tape (or on audio file, as it were).

Then I started working as the director of production for my church, and things launched in another direction again . . . I began to direct and edit film. My pastor decided I would be the perfect candidate to create short video segments that would feature testimonies, promotional spots for events and services, and messages that would enhance the series or sermon he would be teaching. So far I've produced and directed over 45 pieces, and there are more on the horizon.

So there are times I feel spread out, and that while even though I'm working at a full time job where my gifts and talents are being utilized for the purposes of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is what I've always been open to, there's a part of me that still wants to see the originality in me come to light in a manner that isn't necessarily connected to a goal of my work. I still have hope that I will be able to silence the voices in the tongue of No long enough to see the fruit of my labor extend beyond what I can see right now. God has given me hope, and he's given me a future, just like he said he would. Now I only need to head in that direction.

I hope what you read in this blog will encourage you, challenge you, make you think twice, open your eyes about who God is and what he wants for you, and instill in you hope that while you may be struggling now, your best days are still ahead.

There Is No Box.

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So I've learned one thing about writing a blog series: plan better. For instance, don't try to write the last installment the week before Easter when you work at a church full-time. That's just a losing proposition.

Here we are. The pinnacle. The peak. The top of the mountain, the best of the best.
The Top 10 Christian Albums of the 1990s. Forget AC/pop radio, because you're not going to hear mid-30s mommy music here. Unless you were a mid-30s mommy in the '90s and actually listened to this stuff. Then it's totally yours. But these albums, to me, are the most beloved, most artistic, most groundbreaking, most creative, and most important albums from that decade, and they span from the very beginning of the 1990s to the very end.

If you hate spoilers, and you want to revisit the rest of the Top 100 before actually diving into the Top 10, you can find them here:
Honorable Mentions

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When the clock finally strikes midnight on this list, my hope is that those who read this series will be inspired to check out some of the albums listed here, and thus find out more about the goodness of God. Yeah, the music is an example of great, quality musicianship and stellar production, but there are truths about the nature of God inherent in the very music itself. If nothing else, we have an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the Father with our eyes completely shut.

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I saw a print ad for this album in CCM Magazine, and I liked the fashions that Stephen Crumbacher and Christopher Duke were wearing. Back when many Christian bookstores were doing the "Buy 4 Get 1 Free" sticker promotions, I used the stickers I'd saved to get this cassette for free, and I'm glad I did. It would be several years later when I realized who the "Crumbacher" was in the duo, but I was very glad to hav…

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Greetings once again, brothers and sisters.

We're getting closer to the midpoint of this little excursion, and things are starting to heat up. There will be some surprises in this installment, like why in the world THAT band had an album THIS FAR DOWN on the list. Well, that's because it's my list. When I first put this list together, I would often wonder how arbitrary my choices were. As I analyzed my choices, I found that the albums that sounded the most timeless deserved a higher spot, and the ones that were very much a product of the time, and therefore not as easily removable from the 1990s, found themselves at lower points. It's not that they weren't great when they were released, they absolutely were. But hindsight is always 20/20. I mean, even Roger Ebert called "Weird Al" Yankovic the Antichrist upon the release of UHF. But who's laughing now, eh?

Sorry, I forgot Ebert was dead for a minute. My bad.

Let's get on with it.

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