BSR Episode #24 Pt1: Crystavox/Adam Lee Kemp

Picture of Crystavox

BackSpinRadio #24 pt1:
Bill talks with Adam Lee Kemp, the lead singer of Crystavox, about awkward over the top shows, and their debut record. Also available on iTunes

New Music From Mike Roe & the 77’s

Gimme A Kickstart ... And A Phrase Or Two cover art

Message from Mike Roe
For those keeping score, in June of 2013 I had the privilege of launching the “Guadalupe” Kickstarter campaign. Part of my campaign included a reward where you, the fan, could sponsor me to record a song of your choosing. And you did, in rather overwhelming numbers. Over 30 songs were chosen ~~ some were your original compositions, others were covers by various artists that you wanted to hear me sing read more 


The Downside of Growing Up Christian: Petra, Good News

Let’s face it, growing up Christian can have has its downside.
One example could be the loss of meaning that certain “christianisims” have after repeated hearings.
For me, this would be when someone refers to the Gospel as the “Good News”. Unfortunately, after a lifetime of hearing sermons and songs about the “Good News”, the incredible power of what that actually ment had either lost it’s impact, or never really sank in. That changed recently when I came across this passage during one of my morning Bible studies.

”  And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near”  (Ephesians 2:17, ESV)

According to the MacArthur ESV Study Bible the Greek word for “preached” literally means to bring, or announce GOOD NEWS, and in the NT  it is almost always used in proclaiming the good news that sinners can be reconciled to God by the salvation which is through Jesus Christ.

I can’t really put my finger on what was different this time, but MacArthur’s explanation blew me away! How power-packed could our personal evangelism be if we could let the reality of what Paul is saying sink in, and become a major part of how we live out our faith every day?

Jesus came to re-connect broken, and sinful people to God! That, my friends, is the “Good News!” Everything that is wrong with this world can, and will be, made right, because of what Jesus accomplished on the Cross!

Does that not make you ridiculously happy? As true believers,and stewards of the “Good News” should we not be oozing joy? How much easier is it to share this Good News than to bring a message of judgment and damnation? It seems to me that Christians today are percieved to be mean spirited, and critical rather than the winsom and welcoming community that was descriptive of the early church. I truly hope that this is a trend that can be reversed.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I absolutely believe that it is vital to warn our lost friends and neighbors of God’s coming judgment on un-believers. But how much more effective could our evangelistic efforts be if our attitudes and actions reflected a deep knowledge of what the Good News really is?

Our country seems to be more polarized now than at any other time that I can remember. Politics has so saturated our culture that where you choose to eat chicken, and drink coffee has become a political statement. It’s my prayer that those of us who claim to follow Jesus will come to more fully understand the unspeakable joy that is the Gospel. As a result, we’ll begin to crack the wall of antagonism separating us from those  who need to hear the Good News of Jesus. Christians may not have laid the bricks in this wall, but I’m afraid we helped mix the cement.

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My Life, In Music: Undercover, Boys & Girls (When Faith Heroes Fall)


Lately I have been mourning a few “fallen” heroes of my youth. Last weekend I learned that a couple of the Christian musicians that I really looked up to have either publicly come out as gay (Ric Alba, Down the Line magazine May, 2010), or have openly renounced their faith in Christ (Joey “Ojo” Taylor, DTL magazine July, 2010).

Like a well placed sucker punch, the reality of human brokenness took my breath away. After all, who likes to be blindsided by the failings of their heroes? It was an un-welcome reminder of my own sinfulness. My first reaction was to lash out at those who had dared to come down off their assigned pedestals. So I ended up getting into a heated online “discussion” with Ric (Undercover, Altar Boys, DAS). I know that I was wrong to react that way, but It’s hard to face the reality that not everyone believes the same as you do, especially when they had a part in shaping your faith and career direction.

One night I couldn’t stop thinking about Ric and Ojo. Having once believed in the absolute authority of the Bible, both of them now seem to have rejected that view. I was losing sleep trying to wrap my mind around the “why” of their rejection. I grabbed my iPod and started listening to Undercover’s 3rd album Boys and Girls. I don’t know, maybe it was some desperate attempt to connect with, and be comforted by the younger, “safer” evangelistic version of Ojo. But as I lay in my bed clinging to each word, and absorbing each note, God began to speak through Joey’s lyrics.


Babies climbed up on His knee, He said “Let them come to Me.”
Little ones believe–Boys & Girls can see
The man said, “Take them all away, I’ve got important things to do today,
But little ones believe, Boys & Girls can see,

And I could see the world turn around
If I could live my life-like that,
If we could live our lives like–Boys & Girls

Big men reach for the stars, spend time on toys and cars
Politics and war and money from the poor
But the Kingdom belongs to a little child
And I don’t wonder why
Cuz little ones believe Boys & Girls can see
God came down and died for kids like you and me

As the song “Boys and Girls” washed over me, the irony of the situation was glaring. My fallen hero had forgotten the simple truth contained in the song that he had penned!

(Matt. 18:1-4)  Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.

So what do we know about the basic nature of children? They’re Innocent, trusting, literal, humble, needy, and willing to give love unconditionally. And unless we can come to Jesus with a penitent heart and these childlike characteristics, we will not be counted as one of God’s children, nor will we be welcome His Kingdom.

Look, I understand that the Gospel  doesn’t jive with our modern sensibilities. I get that, I really do. But I have no explanation as to why God chose the period of time that He did for Jesus to intersect human history. I know it’s hard to swallow, but I can’t tell you why He decided to speak through fallible men and the written word of the Bible. I am also at a complete loss as to why He wants the screwed up “whore” that is the “Church” to be the vessel in which Kingdom living is modeled.

Even the Apostle Paul had a clue as to how crazy the Gospel message seemed, when he wrote this to the Corinthians,” The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction…”  ( I Corinthians 1:18 )

I will not deny that to truly surrender to Jesus one must partake in a “willing suspension of disbelief.” Understandably, really smart people find that absolutely offensive. But this is what Jesus requires of mankind. And If we can just get out of our own way, put aside all the human arguments based on “our reason” and “our logic”,  the Father is waiting with open arms. And if we are brave enough to take a risky leap of faith, that is contrary to all that our common sense is screaming, He promises to catch us, and to never let go.

 (John 10:28) “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,”

So as I finish sweeping up the last bits of my broken pedestals, I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for those pieces of innocence lost. Both of which are stark reminders of the need to keep my eyes on Jesus, and not so much on man.

Whether or not Ric and Ojo come back to the faith they once sang of I can’t say, but I’ll pray for them, hoping that God will somehow use their own songs as a reminder of who He is. I wish both men well, but I will leave them with this humble suggestion. Be careful with what you say, and where you say it. Even though you may no longer believe the things you once did, you affected the faith of many people. And whether you like it or not, you still do.

(Matthew 18:6) But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.

 Have you had any faith heroes, or mentors in your life, have they fallen away? How did you deal with the disappointment?

My Life, In Music: Smalltown Poets, Trust (Holy Spirit Double Whammy)

Smalltown PoetsLife seldom if ever, goes as planned.(thank you captain obvious!)
People lose jobs, loved ones are taken with out warning,
close friends stab you in the back, politicians lie, evil seems to prosper, while good people seem to struggle. I could go on, but you really don’t need me to do you? We all know that this world is broken, something is seriously wrong with the  planet, and with all of us.

Recently my family and I have been dealing with the loss of yet another job. That makes my 3rd job loss within a span of  5 years. Include an 18 month stretch  of unemployment in the middle of those 5 years, and the struggle starts to take shape.

As you can imagine, all of these situations have been painful and embarrassing, but this last ordeal stings just a little bit more, because on paper, it seemed like a really good deal. 1) I was working for a friend who was a Christian. 2) It was more money than I had ever made. 3) It had serious growth potential. 3) The job had a great benefits package. 

Don’t get me wrong, as great as things looked on paper there was going to be a huge risk of failure and I was facing a big uphill battle. 1) I had no experience in this particular industry. 2) The typical employee in this industry could be very “rough” in nature, and not open to those from “outside” the field. To make a long story short, in spite of how hard I tried, everything that I feared would go wrong, did. And after working their about a year, I was let go.

Digging deeper, one might be able to make the case that I was treated unfairly, or not given the proper training for success. However, in the end, I feel like those arguments are just sour grapes. The fact is, for whatever reason, I just couldn’t make it work. And once again, I have been left to work through my failure.

You can imagine the questions I’ve been toiling with. There’s the very basic,” why did this happen again?” Followed by the soul searching, “what did I not learn the last time Lord?” And then it’s all wrapped up nicely with the, “seriously God? WTF! (on that one, I’ll leave the interpretation to you)

The good news is that I actually did learn a few things the last time I was without work, so the “licking of the wounds” phase, has transitioned to the “throwing myself at your mercy” phase much faster than before. Now that’s progress!

Once again God is showing myself and my family “Mercy in the Wilderness” and while we are currently enjoying a peace that only He can provide, occasionally fear and panic will assault my serenity. It was during one such attack that the Spirit broke in to comfort my restless heart. It all started when he lead me to that day’s portion of scripture in my ESV One Year Bible:

“My grace is sufficient…”,”When I am weak, then I am made strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

“Cast your burden(s) on the Lord and He will sustain you. He will never permit the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22) 

Obviously this was a Word I needed to hear, but the Holy Spirit wasn’t finished, and as I read and re-read the verses He drew my attention to the chorus playing in the background…

“…Another soul forsaking pride
Quickened by the spirit, he’s so sure that he could hear it
Jesus His savior calling him to come

Take this bread, drink this cup
Know this price has pardoned you
From all that’s hardened you
But it’s going to take some trust

Come every soul by sin oppressed
There’s mercy with the Lord
And He will surely give you rest
By trusting in His word

Take this bread, drink this cup
Know this price has pardoned you
From all that’s hardened you
But it’s going to take some trust.”

The music soared, the scriptures took root, and as the peace that passes all understanding washed over my body, I thought about the double whammy the Spirit had just dropped on me. Happy tears trickled down my cheek, as I grinned, and whispered a little prayer of praise. “Thanks Dad, but now your just showing off”.