Archive for the Category »Jesus and Jimmy «

Love Does What Love Does

Love Does What Love Does

Love Does What Love Does. Last year I read a great book by Bob Goff… Love Does. Bob tells story after story about the power of love to change people and circumstances. Bob does a wonderful job of showing how something as simple and yet profound as love can change the world around us. While we often use excuses that keep us from action (need for money, need more time or people to help,etc.), Bob Goff reminds us that love can overcome obstacles and take us places we could never imagine.

love does goff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The song Love Does was recorded (and I believe written) by Brandon Heath, accompanied by a beautifully done video…

I have read and reread the book Love Does several times now  and thought I would add my one thought to this wonderful concept… love does.  Love acts, love listens, love transforms…. and answers that timeless question, “what does God look like?” (loves does). The Bible tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Jesus came as “God in the flesh”, and as a follower of Jesus I seek to share Him with others. The most significant way that I/we can share God/Jesus with others is through love. Without getting too philosophical… here is my new song… “Love Does What Love Does

Love Does What Love Does

Love won’t fail or hesitate, love might bend but it won’t break

But love does, what love does – it changes everything

Love does, love does what nothing else can do,

love does, what love does…you know it’s always true…

Love is something you can know, see it moving to and fro

Love does, what love does… oh the joy it brings

Love does, love does what nothing else can do,

love does, what love does…you know it’s always true…

You can’t sit in your easy chair and tell someone how much you care

there’s always something you can do….

The world will be a better place, if you brighten up the place

showing love through all you say and do

Love is something we sing about, write about and talk about… but ultimately, love does something. What you do and what I do to show love may look different and that’s OK but let’s not just sit here… let’s get up and do something… people are waiting…

Beaches and blessings,

Bry Haris

Kala Ukulele ambassador

Eddy Finn Ukulele ambassador

Parrot Island Band

Kala ukulele Bry

Three Little Birds

Three Little Birds

Don’t worry about a thing.”  While these are words that many people recognize as being from Bob Marley’s song, Three Little Birds, they are also words that are captured throughout the Bible.

 

Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you?” (Matthew 6: 25-30)

There are many things that we worry about… bills, health, jobs, relationships, etc. There are so many things that seem to be out of our control and cause us great anxiety… the words of the apostle Paul remind me that it is not God’s desire for us to worry when he writes, “ Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

As I turn to God for comfort and peace, I often find that my worries are smaller than when I started. I am also reminded that I am not alone and that God’s love is bigger than my worries.

Paul also writes that we are to, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) If you have a lot on YOUR mind today… remember that God loves you and that you are not alone.

Blessings and peace from the Parrot Island Band. May your hearts be filled with songs of joy and love.

I Filled In For Jimmy Buffett

 

I filled in for Jimmy Buffett

I filled in for Jimmy Buffett today. OK, to be fair… he wasn’t asked to play for this gig but I’m sure he would have loved to be there. Last night I received a Facebook message from a friend (who had a friend… with me so far?) who was looking for someone who played Jimmy Buffett songs. This friend of a friend (who is now my friend, Patti Johnson ;-)) was trying to find someone who would visit Mike Hansell. Mike has struggled with Lou Gehrig’s disease for seven years.

Parrot Island Band highlight

Mike Hansell is a BIG Jimmy Buffett fan. He loves to sail. He loves his family. He has Hawaiian shirts all over his walls and filling his closet. Mike is my kind of guy. I wish I had known him before he contracted this terrible disease (I would love to have had the chance to talk with him). Mike can only communicate by using a computer program that follows his eye movements to type out (and verbalize) his thoughts.

Best applause ever for Parrot Island Band

(Mike gives applause by way of computer. He is able to reflect light off of his eyes in order to type on a special computer screen.)

Although Mike has been growing weaker physically in recent weeks, the last couple of days he has rallied a bit. Today Mike’s eyes were open and as I came in with my bright Hawaiian shirt and guitar, Mike smiled and seemed ready to listen to his favorite Buffett tunes.  I played for close to an hour, with family and friends gathered around… it was a wonderful time for me and hopefully for Mike and family as well.

With Mike’s grandchildren sitting on the bed, Barbara, his lovely wife, told me that the grandkids thought their grandfather’s voice was the voice of Jimmy Buffett (because Mike always played Jimmy’s songs for them and they had never heard his voice). I told them that was interesting because I thought I sounded like Jimmy Buffett :).  Everyone seemed happy that I had cleaned up the lyrics a little (no offense Jimmy, but Patti says some of my re-writes are even better than your original lyrics…).

Parrot Island Band

One of the unique parts of this story begins almost 3 years ago. I was visiting someone at the hospital and they had heard I was a musician and Buffett fan. They mentioned a friend of theirs (turns out to be Mike) who also loved Jimmy’s music and was struggling with Lou Gehrig’s disease. We talked about setting up a visit to see this friend but somehow time slipped by and we never got around to it. Fast forward to last night and another friend, Patti Johnson, (with God’s nudging, I believe) helped put together a very special afternoon (with fruit drinks, beach balls and beach umbrellas) .

When I graduated from high school (1978, where has the time gone?!), I was the one who would someday “open for Jimmy Buffett”. That would still be a pretty cool thing to have happen, but I don’t think it could ever top my time with Mike and Barbara (and their wonderful friends and family).  Today, I didn’t open for Jimmy, but in a way… I filled in for Jimmy Buffett (and giving one special family a day of beach songs and fun memories).  Of all the events Jimmy has played, none could have been more important than this one. One of Mike’s favorite songs that I played today was Lovely Cruise.  In light of Mike’s condition, I was a bit choked up as I sang this song but I was deeply touched by Mike’s faith and courage. While Mike and I are both big fans of Jimmy Buffett, today I became an even bigger fan of Mike and Barbara Hansell… thanks for the chance to be with you today… God bless.

 

God Made You Nose to Toes

 

God Made You Nose to Toes

God made you nose to toes.  We live in a world that constantly forces us to compare ourselves with others.  The models that we see on TV or in magazines rarely look like the people we see in our everyday lives. The houses I often drive by on the way to work are “humongous” compared to mine (although I know that many people would be glad to even have a house at all).

Parrot Island Band song

I wrote a song called Nose to Toes. It is a Trop-Rock kids song and yet we sometimes play it for adults and they seem to like it too. I think many of us still suffer from comparisons that were made when we were younger. “Why can’t you get A’s like your sister?” “You sing OK, but not as well as Johnny.” The comparisons never end and continue to haunt us even into adulthood.

The chorus to Nose to Toes begins the song:

God made you nose to toes and inside out

God loves you when you smile and even when you pout

God made you nose to toes without a doubt

So go ahead and be yourself and let it all hang out!

It helps when I am reminded that God loves me even when I don’t measure up to others. I love to sing and play with the Parrot Island Band (a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band from Atlanta, Georgia), but I sometimes find myself comparing myself (unfavorably) to other Trop Rock musicians or bands. While we get a lot of favorable feedback, I still find things about other bands that I wish did as well (I wish we could sound like some of the 6-7 piece bands…. but with only 3 of us. I know it doesn’t make sense but that’s how I think sometimes.)

The first verse to Nose to Toes looks at both the comparisons but also the reality that we are at our best when we are ourselves (and not poor copies of someone else):

If only I were smarter or taller I would be…

More popular or have more friends, at least that’s how it seems

I look into the mirror and finally I see…

That really all I need to do is learn how to be me

 

The second verse talks about what we see in the mirror:

When we look into the mirror, sometimes what we see

Doesn’t match with what the world tells us that we should be

So we spend too many hours trying to be somebody else

When if we want to be the best we have to be ourselves

Parrot Island Band has a unique tropical sound

As you and I know, it is easy to write (or sing) these words yet still struggle in trying to live them out. I continue to strive to be as authentic as I can, and hopefully encourage my family and friends to be who God made them to be (without adding the “if you would only” to the end).

The last verse of the song gives an example that I am sure many can relate to:

You think that you’d look pretty if you straightened out your hair

Or covered up your freckles so nobody else would stare

There is no one else like you in this whole wide world

So remember that God loves you and enjoy those pretty curls

How many people do we know that have straight hair that wish it was curly, or people with dark hair that wish they were blond?  Most of us have something (or numerous things) we would change about ourselves if we could.

I write a lot of songs that aren’t particularly deep (most are about beaches, boats and sailing away) and sometimes envy my Trop Rock friends who write some wonderful songs.  Ironically, when I do write a deep song… it ends up being a kids song (or at least a song for the kid in all of us). One day I will get it recorded and IPod ready, but until then… here is a “rough version” of (God Made You) Nose to Toes – I hope you enjoy…

 

 

Beyond the End

 

Beyond the End

Beyond the End.  Written by Jimmy Buffett, Marshall Chapman and Waylon Jennings, Beyond the End is a song that I can’t remember hearing until I was searching the Internet today for blog material. While I wish I could sit down and ask these wonderful musicians what they were thinking when they wrote this song (Jimmy still hasn’t sent me his phone number), I will be left to share what some of my thoughts are when listening to it.

Things end all the time. The Space Shuttle program ended this week. Many people who have spent their lives in an industry that they thought would always be there are now left to ponder life beyond trips to outer space.

Were they listening to Parrot Island Band in space?

Some endings are welcomed. My son recently graduated from high school and is preparing to head off to college. My daughter, on the other hand, just graduated from college. “Beyond the end” for her at the moment is uncertainty. Something will turn up, but jobs are hard to come by these days… When looking “beyond the end” some people look forward with anticipation and hope while others worry about tomorrow and what it will bring.

Included in the lyrics of Beyond the End are:

A sea of friends are singin'

Vaya con dios [Go with God]

Mis amigos [My friends]

We take their hopes and feelin's

To some new world

We'll be revealin'

Jesus said, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (John 3:8)

We spend a lot of time trying to plan our lives and anticipating tomorrow. The truth is (at least how I have experienced it) that as much as I have tried to figure out what tomorrow might bring, I am surprised more often than not. Many good things come to an end when I least expect it and many bad things turn out better than I could have hoped for.

Beyond the End. Many people worry about life after they die while others look forward to it. I’ve got friends who believe there is nothing “beyond the end” (and while I don’t share their beliefs, I do respect their rights to hold those them).

Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3) Roy Orbison sings on the recording of “Beyond the End”, adding a haunting vocal and reminder that like it or not, there will come an end.

Roy would have fit in great with the Parrot Island Band

There isn’t anything Tropical about today’s post. No plugs for the Parrot Island Band. No references to steel pan or Jimmy Buffett Tribute Bands. I will end the post here for today, hoping that whatever endings you are facing, beyond each end…you will find hope, joy and of course… beaches and blessings.

The Far Side of Heaven

 

The Far Side of Heaven

Mac would fit in great with the Parrot Island Band

Mac McAnally (of the Coral Reefer Band) has written many great songs but one of my favorites is The Far Side of Heaven. Mac apparently had an ex (and her boyfriend) in mind when he wrote this song. Although I can usually find anything on the Internet, I can’t find the words to this song anywhere.  Fortunately, I do have this song on my iPhone and the chorus goes like this:

On the far side of heaven, a long way from me

If I said, “go to Hell” I was only angry

Cause I pray every day when the time comes you’ll be…

On the far side of heaven

On the far side of heaven, a long way from me

This song can be found on Mac’s CD Semi True Stories and it has some other great songs on it as well. While the Bible tells us to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) and forgive up to seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:21-23), sometimes that seems a Hard Way to Go.

There are many, when faced with betrayal, who says they would have to be The Last Man Standing before finding the ability to forgive. To hold on to anger and bitterness only seems to hurt the one holding onto these feelings. I love that Mac acknowledges his hurt in this song but also doesn’t hold on to the hurt of the broken relationship (and become bitter in the process).

When our feelings towards someone are The Opposite of Love, it is easy to close the door to loving someone new. Instead of resisting a new relationship, there comes a time when it is good to say “Come On In If You’re Coming”.

Meanwhile, When Trouble Comes Around in any form… a broken relationship or just trying to find our way Home Again… it is good to have a sense of humor. I wonder if Mac wrote his song Stephon, the Alternative Lifestyle Reindeer during the same time he wrote The Far Side of Heaven? I know that when I am under stress, I have written some songs that make me laugh and help me keep perspective.

Bry from Parrot Island Band was a little too excited for this pic

(I was a little too excited for this picture… how about a retake Mac?)

As part of the Parrot Island Band, (a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band from Atlanta, Georgia) I often hear people comment that our music helps them escape the stress of what they are going through. While I have only met Mac McAnally (3 time CMA musician of the year) in passing (after one of his concerts here in Atlanta), I can attest to his music’s relaxing (and inspiring qualities). I have already gone on record that I would love to play a few songs with Jimmy Buffett. I hope that if/when this happens, Mac will be around and join in with us as well.

 

Tribute to Troy Allan

 

Tribute to Troy Allan

This week Beachfront Radio gave a memorable tribute to Troy Allan (it would have been his birthday on Monday). Troy was a wonderful Trop Rock musician who died this past year after a courageous battle with cancer (very rare stomach cancer called Linitis Plastica). While I didn’t know Troy personally, I (like so many others) was moved by his positive/fighting spirit throughout his illness.

Troy Allan teaches Parrot Island Band... I Can

One of Troy’s songs, I Can, is on my iPhone and I listen to it often as I try to push myself a little further while at the gym or when facing  a particular obstacle in the middle of my day. I wish I could have had a conversation about his faith and the strength that he shared with so many. In my own life, I often draw strength from the Bible verse that says, “I can do all things though Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Troy’s lyrics to “I Can” are quite moving:

I can do what I put my mind to, I can do all that others can’t

I have pride and determination, so don’t you ever tell me that I can’t
Because I’ll prove you wrong, my will is strong
Yeah, I’ve just got to believe…I can.

I can make a difference, my voice will be heard
Ideas can move mountains if the action’s more than words
I know I’ll go the distance, even though the road is steep
Hey, I’ve just got to believe…I can

Some say don’t even try, no matter what the task.
But if the human mind can dream it, well, the Bible says it‘ll come to pass
Expecting the best and accepting no less, if you just keep telling yourself…I can

Gotta take it on yourself, can’t blame nobody else, gotta do what others don’t
Willing and able makes everything possible, just keep telling yourself…I can

 

Well, I just gotta believe I can…I can…I can

 

I am proud to be a part of the Trop Rock family that reaches across the country (and likely around the world). I appreciate the Parrothead motto, “party with a purpose”, and the way in which so many followers of the Parrothead/Trop Rock lifestyle not only enjoy life but reach out to others along the way. One of Troy’s last efforts was a series of concerts that he played to give to others in need.

I wrote a song… Sail On Superman as a tribute to Troy and his tremendous strength in the midst of great struggle:

He had a heart as big as Texas, a smile that lit the sky

He never met a stranger, so it comes as no surprise

He touched so many people, he changed so many lives

We don’t want to, it’s so hard to… finally say goodbye

You put a smile on our faces, but there’s a tear in my eye

Sail on Superman, Sail on Superman

May our love fill up your sail, as you head into the light

 

We (the Parrot Island Band: a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band), will continue in the spirit that Troy Allan shared with so many. While we certainly enjoy songs about beaches and palm trees, we also seek to pass along the blessings that we have received.

It is said in the Bible, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Thanks to Troy for laying down his life for so many. I’m in no hurry, but I do look forward to the day when I can sit down with Troy and play a few songs together… until then sail on Superman, thanks for your inspiration to us all.

Is The Tide Going To Reach Your Chair?

 

Is The Tide Going To Reach Your Chair?

One of my favorite songs at the moment is Knee Deep by Zac Brown (and featuring Jimmy Buffett). The song begins:

Gonna put the world away for a minute
Pretend I don't live in it
Sunshine gonna wash my blues away

Parrot Island Band has room for these guys

In this crazy world of deadlines and stress, it is important to know when (and how) to relax. For me, images of blues skies, seagulls and sandy beaches quickly do the trick.  There are a couple of verses in the Bible that also help me find a peaceful place: “Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-7 MSG) Thinking about a beautiful sunset, or listening to breaking waves… I find myself in a prayerful mindset (sometimes knee deep in prayer) without even having to “work at it”.  It is in this peaceful place that I can often release the worries around me and enjoy the life God has given me.

Zac Brown continues to sing his own kind of wisdom with these words:

Wishing I was knee deep in the water somewhere
Got the blue sky breeze and it don't seem fair
Only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair
Sunrise there's a fire in the sky
Never been so happy
Never felt so high
And I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise

Parrot Island Band state of mind

While many people think of paradise as a place where there are streets of gold or maybe expensive high rises are abundant, there are many others like myself who are content to sit at the ocean’s edge and watch the beauty of God’s creation. I am thankful for those moments when, like Zac Brown, I only find myself worrying about the rising tide in relation to my chair in the sand :).

Towards the end of the song, there is an invitation to join in:

Come on in the water it's nice
Find yourself a little slice
Grab a backpack…
You never know until you try
When you lose yourself
You find the key to paradise

Zac Brown shares another nugget of wisdom when he reminds us that we actually find paradise when we are willing to lose ourselves. As much of Jesus’ life was spent by the water, I wonder if He was reflecting on the beauty of the water before He taught His followers that if they were willing to lose their lives (in service, love and giving to others), they would actually find real meaning in life (Matthew 10:39).

While some have to wait to take their trips to the beach to find the kind of peacefulness described in the song Knee Deep, as a musician I find it easy to escape through the words and music of a song. As part of the Parrot Island Band, if things are too stressful during the week, I can call a band practice or hopefully have a gig waiting where we can sing/play our way to a relaxing state of mind.

Whenever we play (the Parrot Island Band: a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band from Atlanta, Georgia), there are usually several people who tell us how relaxing the steel pan, congas and acoustic guitar music is. The great part of playing, for me, is that the music we play for others (maybe another link back to losing ourselves?), also brings us a great sense of joy and relaxation. 

Here’s hoping you find a comfortable chair by the ocean side. I also hope you find some relaxing (maybe Parrot Island Band) music to help wash away the stress and blues of your day. Until next time, wishing you beaches and blessings…

 

 

What A Weiner

 

What A Weiner

What a Weiner! Yes, I am talking about Anthony Weiner and his sexting/texting scandal. It seems that everyone is jumping on the Weiner wagon… so I might as well join in.

What a Weiner

I don’t know much about Anthony Weiner as a politician and as a result of this scandal, he will mostly be remembered for bad taste and bad judgment. What he does on Twitter is really none of my business, but as with Arnold Schwarzenegger, I feel sorry for his family, friends and constituents who most likely feel embarrassed and betrayed.

Jimmy Buffett pokes fun at all sorts of people in the song Fruitcakes, and rightly so. People are messed up. Bankers, lawyers, teachers and yes, even “religious people”. We are all messed up and do hilarious, scandalous and even embarrassing things on a daily basis.

Fruitcake

The Bible had something to say on the subject as well. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he says that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It’s funny how Jimmy Buffett can say the same thing the Bible says, but in different words, and everyone will sing along with Jimmy and take offense to the Bible.

As a follower of Jesus, the good news for me and anyone who will receive it is that while “the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Yup, I’m messed up, you are messed up and we begin to get better when we admit our own “messed up-ness” and ask for God’s help (and forgiveness).

My fondness for Jimmy Buffett is in part due to his ability to poke fun of our human condition (and even his own) without judging others. My love of Jesus helps me to look at others who are “messed up” and still care for them (as they often care for “messed up” me).

So why is this such controversial news? We all sin (mess up, fall short of God’s wonderful plan for us).  We also try to cover up (which people in the spotlight seem to do with varying degrees of success or failure). Perhaps we should try a new strategy, maybe we should “open up” to God’s grace and also spend less time worrying about how messed up others are.

Now that I think of it, all of this reminds me of a song I wrote called “I’m Not Quite Right”. Whenever the Parrot Island Band plays this song at one of our gigs, it is funny to see the smiles of acknowledgement (not just that I’m “not quite right”, but that we are all “not quite right”).

Come on out and enjoy a show. Maybe together we can get a little less messed up. In the meantime, good luck Mr. Weiner and as one comedian said…, “It’s a good thing you don’t have any kids or someone would ask how the little wieners feel about this”? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist;-)).

 

The Hokey Pokey

 

The Hokey Pokey

What If The Hokey Pokey Is All It Really Is About?

What If The Hokey Pokey Is All It Really Is About?

What is your philosophy of life, “live and let live”… “don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow”? Yogi Berra has some wonderful words of wisdom, one of my favorite sayings being, “if you come to a fork in the road… take it!” (pretty simple and obvious, but how many of us get stuck and just can’t make decisions… sometimes we just have to choose a direction and keep moving).

Some philosophy can be a bit glum, such as Solomon’s, “Meaningless! Meaningless!… Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Imagine walking around all day thinking everything is meaningless… what a downer that would be. 

Solomon’s other well known quote is from Ecclesiastes 3:1 where he states: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven”. While still a bit fatalistic, this viewpoint does help us realize there are certain things like birth, death, weeping and laughing that are a part of life (hopefully this can help us enjoy the “ups” and better face the “downs” of life).

Hokey Pokey Another great philosopher (Jimmy Buffett) sings, “What If The Hokey Pokey Is All It Really Is About?” There is certainly something to be said for not taking ourselves too seriously. As Jimmy points out, “My life can get as messy as a day old sticky bun… so I arm myself with punch lines and a big ol' water gun”. As serious as life can be at times, I appreciate a good one liner… and there are times when a squirt gun might just be what is needed to change the mood.

While there are countless passages from the Bible that I could quote to develop a “philosophy of life”, today I choose this quote from Jesus: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). The second half of the quote can also be translated to mean, “and have life abundantly” (or to the point where it/life overflows).  I hope that if you are reading this you aren’t just “getting by”, or have “given up” on life…. God wants us to enjoy the life we have (one of the reasons I like Jimmy Buffett’s music so much, it almost always makes me smile).

One the things I love about playing in the Parrot Island Band is that I can choose songs that are upbeat and fun. Also, I can write and sing songs that bring a smile to others. While there are many definitions of Trop Rock music, I find this category of music to be uplifting and relaxing. If you are struggling today to have a good outlook on life, take some time today to hum, sing or write a song that brings a smile to someone’s face….

Jesus and Jimmy Buffett

 

Jesus and Jimmy Buffett

(Disclaimer: If you are easily offended by religious discussions, please stop here… I’ll go get some chips and be right back… OK, if you are still with me please know that I am not putting Jimmy on the same level as Jesus, just sharing some personal thoughts, feel free to disagree).

What do Jesus and Jimmy Buffett have in common for me? We’ll… they have both spent a lot of time on the water and down by the sea. They also have a message that is appealing to the regular guy/gal (although we as Christians have often made it less accessible by adding man-made rules, formality and sadly… at times, a judgmental attitude. Remember, I gave some of you a chance to leave earlier 😉 ).

One of Jesus many facesThere was a book written a few years ago called Jesus in Blue Jeans, that looked at Jesus heart and message for the ordinary man/woman. What a great book and concept. I have found that there are many outside of the church environment who are followers of Jesus, but not great fans of “organized religion”. Many of these people are hanging out incognito in Hawaiian shirts and wearing flip flops (and are really neat/fun people)

 

Bry and the Coral Reefers share a laughAs I have shared in other places, I met Jesus and Jimmy Buffett within the same year. When I shared this at Tropstock (the Parrot Island Band opened the very first day of the very first Tropstock), a couple of the Coral Reefers present had a good laugh. While Jesus changed my life as a teenager, Jimmy’s music also got me through some very difficult years.

 

It was very moving for me at Tropstock (Trop Rock music festival) when one of the attendees came up after we played (during Tropstock Worship) and asked if he could talk for a minute. He share a renewed sense of hope and appreciation of God’s love for Him. At the end of our conversation, we shared a prayer and a sense that we had shared a special moment together (something that wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t combined our love for God and Trop Rock music together).

Much more to share about Jesus and Jimmy, but enough for today. One more connection between Jesus and Jimmy, they both celebrate the same birthday… December 25th (and bring joy to many, although in different ways!). No offense intended… I realize there are many more important discussions we need to have, but it is also OK to look at the lighter side of things from time to time (and trust me, I do…) Have a great day… time for another snack.

It’s My Job

 

It's My Job

So Let's Make the Best of It

Let’s face it, some days it is really hard to get out of bed and go to work. Even as a pastor, I have days when I would like to pack my bags and run, or maybe sail away. I remember one night in particular when I was on my way home from a very long (unpleasant) meeting and I found myself humming a song. When I got home, I pulled out my guitar and a piece of paper and wrote my song, “See Ya Later, I’m Gone”. When we play this song at our gigs, we usually see heads nodding and a smile that seems to say, “yes, I feel that way sometimes too”.

One of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs is a song that band member Mac MacAnally wrote called, “It’s My Job.” The song tells of an encounter street sweeper listenin to Parrot Island Band tuneswith a street sweeper who was whistling and bouncing along as he carried out what many would see as a “menial” job. Asked how he could be so happy to be doing this kind of work, the street sweeper said it was his job,

 

 

“to be cleaning up this mess
And that's enough reason to go for me
It's my job to be better than the rest
And that makes the day for me"

The next encounter was with the writer’s uncle who was a banker and self-made millionaire. Asked why he seemed so sad, the banker said,

“it's because in my contract there's a clause
That says "It's my job to worried half to death
And that's the thing people respect in me
It's my job but without it I'd be less
Than what I expect from me"

How do we find meaning in our work and embrace the attitude of the street sweeper?  In part, it is in finding work that we love, but it is also important to love the work that we find ourselves doing. Even the best jobs have their downsides and as we see, there are jobs that would drive us crazy that others seem to love!  Our faith can enhance our work when we follow the encouragement found in the Bible,

17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

One of the ways I have found to keep my perspective on work fresh is having another outlet. As part of the Parrot Island Band: a Jimmy Buffett tribute band from Atlanta, Georgia… I have found a way of getting away from the stress sometimes associated with my "day job". The Trop Rock music that we play, write and listen to is a great way to enjoy each day and look forward to the next.

Until next time… it's Jesus and Jimmy.

School Boy Heart

 

School Boy Heart

school boys love Parrot Island Band tooI love the song “School Boy Heart” by Jimmy Buffett and Matt Betton. It reminds us that everyone is multi-dimensional and unique. Among other interests and influences (including his southern/gulf-coast view and dialect), Jimmy weaves his love for flying, sailing and writing into this song. While many of us share Buffett’s love for music, fun and ocean waves, it is important to also be true to ourselves and our own unique talents and influences (and not merely copy the Buffett image).

While I grew up with a short drive of VA. Beach, Va., I also had a number of other influences that formed my view of the world. I was the son of a golf professional and spent most of my childhood chasing golf balls and turtles around the numerous ponds and lakes of the local golf course where my father worked.  My life was profoundly shaped by my grandmother and great-grandmother, as I spent many nights and weekends at their apartment. There I learned to appreciate Lawrence Welk AND Hee Haw, both playing on the same night back to back.

One of the biggest influences on me has been music (especially Trop Rock, although I didn't know what genre it really was until the last few years). At the age of 12, I was given a nylon string Epiphone guitar and 5-6 “group” lessons at a local YMCA. From that moment on my life has been shaped by the music I’ve heard, the musicians I have looked up to and the opportunities I have had to play with and for others.  I sometimes wonder if other people stop to consider the many outside influences that shape who we are and how we view the world.

In recent years I have recaptured the dreams of my youth by playing with our band, the Parrot Island Band. The Parrot Island Band is a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band based in the Atlanta (more specifically, Acworth), Georgia area. Through these experiences I have had the opportunity to meet several members of the Coral Reefer Band (Jimmy's backup band) and have actually played a song with Doyle Grisham… a highlight I have already documented in another blog.

Just as each of us have unique experiences and talents, we are also given unique gifts to love and serve others around us.  The Bible speaks of “spiritual gifts” that are given to us so that we might build up, encourage and love those around us (1 Corinthians chapters 12-14; Romans chapter 12; Ephesians chapter 4; and 1 Peter chapter 4).  I hope that if you are reading this, you might realize that you have special gifts and talents to make this world a better place (and make you extremely valuable to those around you). OK, hum along with me… “I’ve got a school boy heart…”, now go write your own lyrics (figuratively) given the influences, experiences and talents you have been given…

Until next time, it's Jesus and Jimmy.

Jesus, Jimmy and Peace of Mind

 

Jesus, Jimmy and Peace of Mind

Peace Like a Palm Tree

Peace lIke a RiverThere is an old hymn, "Peace Like a River"  (an African American Spiritual) that speaks of having "peace like a river" in our souls.  I have always found a great deal of peace sitting by  a lake, river and especially the ocean. This week I have faced some very difficult circumstances and I must admit I am not finding very much peace at the moment. Scripture tells us to "cast all our anxieties" upon Jesus because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) . Perhaps it is time to practice what I preach 😉 and let God help me with a problem I can't fix on my own.

 

Relax and enjoyI am also reminded of some difficult days in High School when I was learning to play guitar and hearing this relaxing music from an up and coming musician, some guy named Jimmy Buffett. Songs of island, beaches and palm trees had a way of calming the storms within. There is just something about a palm tree swaying in the breeze that  is relaxing and calming. There are no palm trees here in Acworth, Georgia, but I do have a guitar… probably time to pull it out and play a few Trop Rock songs.

 

Playing with Linda and Kevin in the Parrot Island Band: a Jimmy Buffett tribute band here in Atlanta, Georgia, has also been a very rewarding endeavor. Our music has taken us to Myrtle Beach, Cocoa Beach, Savannah, GA and many other beautiful places. I'll take a little time now to find my peace and give thanks for the many blessings and friends that I have. Perhaps you are facing some tough moments… God's listening, Jimmy's singing and if you ever need the Parrot Island Band to help you find a peaceful, relaxing place… please don't hesitate to give us a call.

Margaritaville Marketing Genius

 

Jimmy Buffett a Marketing Master

 

JimmY Buffett marketing genius

 

 

 

 

 

JimmY Buffett marketing geniusMargaritaville. What started out as a song about a lifestyle centered around "booze in the blender", became a brand that is tied to beaches, hotels, restaurants, sunglasses… you name it. Jimmy Buffett is not only an entertainer for the ages, but also a marketing master! While Jimmy may have blown out his flip flop back in his youth (and inspired many like the Parrot Island Band  from Atlanta, to form Jimmy Buffett Tribute bands), he found a new pair with Margaritaville rubber stamped on the bottom (and a few dozen probably waiting for him in the closet).

 

Speaking of brands and logos, I read today that Starbucks has redesigned its logo in order to reach out beyond the coffee market in order to break into new markets and new products. With the possibilty of beer and wine tastings on the Starbucks horizon, will we soon see Starbucks counters in the lobby of every Margaritaville Restaurant?starbucks logo

 

 

 

 

 

As today is Ash Wednesday, I am reminded of another brand/logo combination that has been changing the world for over 2,000 years. The Cross and the Fish. Both are used as symbols of the Christian faith and recognized all over the world. The cross is a reminder of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. It is a symbol for me of God's grace, love and a call to serve others along the way. As for the fish, Jesus called out to others, "follow me and I will make you fishers of men" Matthew 4:19. He often taught by the sea and several of his disciples were first fishermen before laying down their nets to follow Jesus.

On the surface, Jimmy Buffett is THE master of nautical marketing… but for many of us, Jesus is the one who still "walks on water" 😉

Thanks Doyle!

 

Thanks Doyle!

Tropstock Revisited

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it.” Psalm 118:24

Bry with the Tiki godsEver have one of those days when everything clicked and it was just a great day overall? I had one of those days (actually a weekend) last October at an event called Tropstock. The Parrot Island Band (a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band here in Atlanta, Georgia) opened the event that included some wonderful musicians, including several from the Coral Reefers (Jimmy Buffett’s band).

On Sunday, I led a worship service with Peter Mayer, Nadirah Shakoor, Jack Mosley, John Frinzi and Doyle Grisham (among others). When I sang a song that I had written for the event (River Runs Deep), Doyle Grisham was gracious enough to play along. Doyle did a great job (of course) and was kind enough to suggest that we might play together again someday (yes, I am smiling as I write this).

 

In case you don’t know who Doyle Grisham is, he plays pedal steel guitar for the Coral Reefers and with many other fine musicians as well (edit: I should have said, many other musicians have the privilege of playing with Doyle). What made my day was not only playing a song with Doyle, but finding out that he (as well as Peter, Nadirah and all the others) is an extremely nice guy (not surprised, but pleased to know).

 

Doyle Grisham a friend of Parrot Island Band

I hope I have other music highlights in the years to come, but I will certainly treasure this one for the rest of my life. I have a picture of Doyle and me that I see every time I turn on my iPhone and believe me, I have shared it a few times. While I often find myself asking God for things, I don’t take as much time to thank God for things that I should. So here goes… thank You God for a great moment and memory… and thanks Doyle, for being a great musician… and did I mention… also a pretty darn nice guy :).

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Window on the World?

 

What's Your Window on the World?

Looking for Sunshine

While our experiences cause us to look at the world in a certain way, it is also true that how we view the world determines how we feel about certain experiences. If we have had a number of bad experiences, we may tend to look at things from a “darker” perspective… OR,  if we look at things from a more positive perspective, we may be quicker to find a silver lining in difficult circumstances (and don't forget, a Parrot Island Band tune can always lift your spirits as well ;-)).

What's Your Window ont eh the World?In the song, Window on the World, Jimmy Buffett sings about a number of experiences like travels and musicians that were only here for a short time. As in the song, I can relate to nights without sleep and too much caffeine consumption (mine coming from a childhood developed soda addiction). I am sure that many can also relate to the longing of a loved one while spending too many nights from home.

 

Sometimes our circumstances are difficult and it is easy to be overcome by everything going on in life. A Bible verse that I have found helpful along the way is from Philippians 4:8, “Finally…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is praiseworthy- think about such things.”  Now, I’m not one of those people that believes that a “positive attitude” solves all problems, but I do believe that when we live our lives looking for the best in others and the good around us… we are more likely to feel better about the challenges that each day brings.

The title to the song Take the Weather With You (Neil Finn and Tim Finn) seems to beg the question, what kind of weather (attitude) will you take with you? It also seems to suggest that we have a choice as to what we see when we look out our windows and that we can decide to take sunshine or dark clouds with us as we go about our daily life (another reason I appreciate Jimmy's Margaritaville attitude, he invites us to look on the bright side of life). My window on the world?  Although I don’t always succeed, I try to see the blessings and blue skies that come my way… and I wish them for you as well. 

 

Jimmy Buffett

 

 

Charlie Sheen Hysteria

 

What's Up With Charlie Sheen?

Pray for Charlie Sheen?

I have been changing the channel all week trying to get away from Charlie Sheen. Every station. Nearly every program. All showing Charlie Sheen ranting and wild eyed, looking like he is about to implode. Just when I was ready to close the book on Charlie Sheen, someone asks that we add him to our prayer list at church. I'm torn. What about all the others who are struggling and aren't famous? Shouldn't we spend time praying for those who are really trying to get their act together? And as to all the publicity…surely there must be more important news on TV? The unrest in the Middle East maybe? Or the rapidly rising gas prices?

Just when I find myself ready to dismiss the request to pray for Charlie, I find myself speaking on the kind of people Jesus reached out to. Those far from God. Those even farther from the church. Those who feel rejected by people of faith. In other words, Charlie Sheen. Someone's son. Someone's brother. Someone's father. I'm not sure that Charlie is too worried about what God thinks about him (or cares if I pray for him), but I am pretty sure that God loves him and would indeed want us to pray for him (and the countless others like him who are on the edge of disaster).

Not all that glitters is ... a diamondIn the song Diamond as Big as the Ritz, Jimmy Buffett sings of a man who has everything money can buy, and yet becomes a prisoner of his own success (or in Charlie's case, fame and money).

 

 

As Jimmy puts it:

It's the prophecy of the unattainable dream

if you take one look behind the shine

it doesn't always gleam

All of Charlie's posessions, his giant house, his money, his cars, his godesses… can't buy Charlie what he really needs… peace of mind, peace with others… OK, I'm in… "God, bless Charlie and help him to know Your love… and forgive me when I am too judgemental". I'm still changing the channel, but I'm (and I'll get the Parrot Island Band here in Atlanta to do the same ;-)) pulling for you Charlie.

Until next time, it's Jesus and Jimmy.

Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9: 12-13)

Pastor and a Parrothead

 

Pastor and a Parrothead

Walking a Thin Line

Walking that lin lineIn his song Fruitcakes, Jimmy Buffett states that there is a "thin line between Saturday night and Sunday morning". As a fan of  Jimmy Buffett and a follower of Jesus, there are many opportunities to walk that thin line.  My relationship with Jesus and my love for Jimmy's music both began about the same time while I was in High School and at the time I didn't see any tension between the two. As the years passed, I came to realize that Jimmy has had his own struggles with "religion" (which is quite different than faith, but that is a blog for another day) and that many Christians feel that you can't be a parrothead and a believer.

What I have discovered over the years is that parrotheads and christians both come in all shapes and sizes. I have also learned that people from both sides have many misconceptions about each other. What has been a pleasant discovery is that there are many followers of Jesus who also call themselves parrotheads. Unfortunatley, most of those who are parrotheads and christians feel that they have to keep it a secret. My hope is that through these blogs, I can encourage those who are also walking this thin line to openly enjoy the laid back music and lifestyle of Jimmy Buffett (and yes, the Parrot Island Band), while also living out personal convictions of faith.

Yes, I am a pastor. More importantly, I am a follower of Jesus and His teachings of love and grace. I am also a parrothead AND I lead the Parrot Island Band: a Trop Rock, Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band. Here is a "Trop Rock" treasure to think about today; Jesus said, "I have come that they (you and I) might have life and have it abundantly". For me, (and many) that includes tropical tunes, beaches and plam trees.

Until next time, it's Jesus and Jimmy.

Parrothead