Thursday, December 23, 2010

Prelude and Allegro

Here's the other piece I played at my recent recital... The Prelude and Allegro from Bach's Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro, BWV 998.


Prelude and Allegro (Bach) from Zachary Roux on Vimeo.


http://vimeo.com/18116985

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Here's another video from a recital I played in. This is a Theme and Variations on Good King Wenceslas, arranged by Mark Anthony Cruz. Please forgive my early memory lapse... :)



Theme and Variations on Good King Wenceslas from Zachary Roux on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving

You can force a man to do a great many things. You can make him stand up or sit down. You can make him do work for you. You can use force to keep him from harming other people. You can even use force to make him do good things for other people, at his own expense.

But you can't force a man to be thankful. Gratitude has to come from the heart.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Procrastination...

Delayed or postponed action.

(Note: I meant to put this up yesterday, but I didn't get time until today! :)

Sometimes we value that which we can gain in the short term more than that which we can gain in the long term. But is it really worth more?

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Everything was going well for me. I was working on videos, composing a soundtrack for one of them, seemingly having plenty of time... Then, one morning, a reminder popped up on my computer – the day before a deadline. Instantly everything was chaos. School was left behind, and even guitar practice was shortened; preparing to register for the ACT (the deadline was the last day of registration) was top priority. I called the test center, and asked if they were offering the test at the next test date (in February) but as it turns out, they only do it once a year, in December. So I had to get this done in time, or else wait a year!

As things turned out, I did manage to get all my school papers together, and averaged the grades, so I could report my GPA on the registration forms. And I did finish the registration... 2 hours before sunset on Friday afternoon!

While I was working on finding papers, grading, and averaging my scores, I realized that the things which had been taking up my time now seemed worthless. My soundtrack could wait. The videos could be edited later. In the face of a deadline, these things seemed dull and unimportant. I valued taking the ACT far more than getting a perfect soundtrack for a video, yet I gave more priority to the soundtrack; until the time came to register.

This was just a test. If I make a poor score on the ACT, I have the option to take it again, and hopefully do better. But if I run my spiritual life that way, I am setting myself up for disaster. The ACT is just a way to assess academics. But when the time comes for my life to be “tested” by God's law, no amount of scrambling to get ready will remedy insufficient preparation.

I don't want to let anything get in the way of that preparation...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

La Vida Breve

Here's a recent performance... and one that was quite a landmark for me. The first time I've ever performed under these circumstances. But praise the Lord, it went reasonably well. And it's a piece I absolutely love to play and listen to, although I've never been able to perform it by myself, and it's unlikely that I ever will be able to do that (by myself). So many thanks to my friend Aaron Vasquedez for playing this with me... It was an experience I'll never forget!


Manuel de Falla, La Vida Breve

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video

Monday, September 20, 2010

No Turning Back

I'm really looking forward to this year's GYC. I believe it's going to be an amazing experience, and one that will motivate me to a "no-turning-back" level of commitment. GYC is a movement, not just a conference, and so I expect that this year's conference won't be a repeat of last year's conference, as wonderful as last year was. This year's conference is going to go to a new level, and things will never be the same. No turning back...

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2010 GYC Promo V2 from Brandon Mascarenas on Vimeo.

Monday, September 6, 2010

PC vs. Mac

Note: you might think from the title that this will be a post describing how I think Macs are better than PCs. This is not the case. I do like my iMac better than any Windows PC I've ever used - in fact, I'm exceptionally happy with it! But in this post, I'd rather not engage in fruitless debates regarding Windows vs. Mac. I'd like to convey a more elevated point.

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I recently purchased a new computer. This computer is amazing! In less space than I would have dreamed possible, the designers crammed a massive quad-core processor, advanced 3D graphics, and a terabyte of hard drive capacity, not to mention a screen with over 3.5 million pixels. And all of this, within the confines of a 27 inch widescreen monitor - there's no tower to take up additional space. The operating system is another wonder. It speeds up the simplest tasks, in ways I didn't expect. It's faster, more reliable, and more powerful. This computer was made by a company known for thinking "outside the box." They certainly came up with some good ideas and implementations with this computer.

After using this new computer for just a week, my old computer suddenly seems much slower and more unstable than I had realized before. I've even wondered, how did I manage to do (such and such) on here before? It doesn't seem like it would have been able to handle that... But somehow, I managed.

I always used to think that my previous computer was doing pretty good. It certainly was the most powerful PC I had ever had. But the iMac is different. It's as if I've discovered a new world of computing.

And it got me to thinking... Are we satisfied with the "PC" version of Christianity? Or are we willing to consider that maybe there's another kind of Christianity... the real kind? Christianity that can stand up to the world, and be unashamed of Christ... Christianity that's reliable, life-changing, and unlike anything else we've ever experienced...

Its only cost - complete surrender...

Oh, if only we wouldn't hold on to the things of this world... they're not worth it anyway... God has ever so much more that He wants to give us.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Another year of life...

New opportunities, new responsibilities, and new privileges.

There will be uncertainties, but one thing is certain.

My life will be a success to the proportion that I allow the love of God to shine through my heart...



Monday, August 9, 2010

The controversy ended...

Isaiah 65

The end is come. Justice is served.

The righteous will eat, but the wicked will be hungry. The righteous will have water to drink, but the wicked will be thirsty.

Why? Because when God called, the righteous answered, but the wicked did not answer. When God laid out a requirement, the righteous obeyed, but the wicked did not listen – instead, they went their own way and did that which was displeasing to God.

And as a result, when the servants of the Lord sing with fervent joy, the captives of Satan will howl with vexation of spirit.

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The reward of the righteous will be more wonderful than our wildest imaginations. But I wanted to point out something that I thought of recently. We’re told essentially that we can’t hurt ourselves in heaven. Now, if you couldn’t hurt yourself, no matter what you did… Imagine the things we would attempt if we knew we wouldn’t get injured. Exploring the rainforests without fear of biting insects and dangerous animals… Going into outer space without having to worry about muscle deterioration… Swimming and splashing down huge waterfalls without hurting yourself on the rocks… And my imagination takes off from there…

In other words… It’s worth all the trouble it takes to get there. If it took giving everything I have on this earth – I would do it.

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And meanwhile, what has happened to the wicked? They have been utterly destroyed. Isaiah uses the word, “consumed.” They are gone… never to live again. Their memory will live on through eternal ages. The universe will never be the same. Yet in a way, it will be better. For now, God’s justice has been vindicated. Satan’s original claim has been proven false. No one will ever challenge God’s supreme authority again. Sin will not rise a second time. And the awesome love of God has been demonstrated before the entire universe.

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And though there is another chapter of Isaiah, that I could write about, this post concludes my series of posts on Isaiah. I've learned a lot from reading through Isaiah. It was definitely worth the time. And more than ever before, the reality of the Great Controversy has burned into my heart. I've been challenged to reconsider my personal priorities, and evaluate what's really important... And maybe, just maybe, someone who read one of these posts was challenged to do the same... I hope so...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Isaiah 47

The result of oppression? Utter humiliation

Babylon trusted in herself. She dwelt carelessly, for what did she have to fear? Nothing… who would dare to challenge her greatness? She was, and none else beside her. And as such, she felt at liberty to make others conform to her wishes.

But wickedness cannot stand forever. Judgment was sure to come. And to the extent of her boasting, Babylon received humiliation. Utter shame, humiliation, and embarrassment…

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Now, they that wait upon the Lord… They truly have nothing to fear. But it’s not because they have any strength in themselves. They rely upon One who has all things under His control. They forget themselves, and surrender themselves absolutely to their Best Friend.

What is the result? Eternal life and joy…

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

One "small" choice

Isaiah 39

Imagine yourself as the king of a prosperous nation. You’ve just gotten over a dread disease, and you’re guaranteed 15 more years of life. God temporarily suspended the laws of the universe, just to give you a sign.

Then some messengers come from a foreign king. They bring greetings from the king. The king has heard about your sickness, and your miraculous recovery. He’s quite impressed. In fact, he’s so impressed that he has sent his servants with a present for you!

What do you do?

Do you thank them for the present, and lodge them for the night, then kindly send them back?  Or do you give them a full tour of your palace?

Hezekiah decided to give them the tour. He showed them everything, from his silver and gold to his collection of exotic spices to his military warehouse. Nothing was hidden from them.

It was a poor choice. And Isaiah the prophet told him so. But the damage was already done. Years later, the Babylonians would come and take over that palace. They would take everything of value, and all the occupants would become prisoners.

One small choice. All the king’s successors – and his subjects – would suffer because of one small choice.

I wonder what would have happened if Hezekiah had sent those messengers back with a report of how God had raised him from his deathbed. Those messengers could have borne the light of Heaven back to their master. King Merodachbaladan might have learned of the power of the God of Israel. It could have been the dawn of a new day for the Babylonians. Yet because of Hezekiah’s pride, none of this happened.

One “small” choice. Does it really matter?

You decide.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Nothing to fear!

Isaiah 12

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation.”

When God is my salvation, there’s nothing to fear. Absolutely nothing. Why? The most powerful being in the universe is taking care of me.

Now that’s an awesome thought!

We can’t comprehend God’s plan for us. There are times when everything around us is dark, and we can’t see what’s ahead. But He’s promised to hold my hand every step of the way… and what’s more, He’s already walked the path Himself. He knows how to get me to the destination safely. And He is always true to His Word.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Touched by a coal

Isaiah 6

Touched by a coal from the altar before God’s throne… A man of unclean lips, purged, so that he might speak the words of the Almighty.

When God asked, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah answered readily, “Here am I; send me.”

What a heavy message was given him! But he delivered it faithfully.

Oh, the wonderful compassion of God, to provide this vision of encouragement to a prophet whose words would be rejected by his listeners, and who would eventually meet a cruel death, because he faithfully preached the message that was given him! Isaiah certainly would have remembered this vision for the rest of his life. He was a changed man… touched by a coal from the altar.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Live by the instruments!

Now is the time to learn of Christ. We have opportunity now to study the Bible, to go to church freely, and to choose which day we worship on. It will not always be that way. And how will we stand when our freedoms are taken away? There’s a sure way to tell…

Right now we’re flying under clear skies. But a great storm, such as never has been before, is directly in our flight path – we cannot escape it or go around it. The only sure way to navigate through that storm safely is to learn to trust our instruments now, under clear skies. The instruments (the Bible, the Holy Spirit, Spirit of Prophecy, God’s revealed will, etc.) will never let us down if we use them correctly. But sometimes we seem to think that we can fly on our own during clear skies, and we’ll turn to the instruments if a storm or clouds arise. This is dangerous! If we don’t trust the instruments now, how will we trust them in a storm? We can’t just turn to the instruments in a crisis; we must live by the instruments.

“It is in probationary time, the time in which we are living, that we should calmly contemplate the terms of salvation, and live according to the conditions laid down in the word of God. We should educate and train ourselves, hour by hour and day by day, by careful discipline, to perform every duty. We should become acquainted with God and with Jesus Christ whom he has sent. In every trial it is our privilege to draw upon him who has said, "Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me." The Lord says he is more willing to give us the Holy Spirit than parents are to give bread to their children. Then let us have the oil of grace in our vessels with our lamps, that we may not be found among those who are represented as foolish virgins, who were not prepared to go forth to meet the bridegroom.”

(RH September 17, 1895)


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Is there anything more important?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ready to meet Him...

“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Revelation 3:11)

In the last days, there shall be a time of tribulation such as has never been upon the face of the earth. Some have thought that we should stock up food and learn self-sufficient habits so that we will be able to live on our own and hide from the government. Is that the solution?

Some use the coming tribulation to convince others to get ready to meet Jesus. It’s coming ever closer, and so we should be afraid and get ready because it’s coming. Is that the right spirit?

Jesus is coming soon, and we need to be ready to meet Him. Why? Out of fear? No… out of love.

If we love Him, it will be a joy to get ready to meet Him. The more we trust Him, the less we will fear what men may do to us.

And please, please, if you’re not ready… Don’t wait. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to turn around. We are not promised tomorrow – only this moment. Life is too fragile to put these things off…

To meet Him with joy, when He comes in the clouds… To hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…”

It’s worth any sacrifice…

Sunday, May 9, 2010

La Catedral

Here's the video of my recent recital - at least, part of the video. In this part, I play the entire La Catedral by Agustin Barrios.


video

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Miracles still happen...

Do miracles still happen? Does God still care for His people as He did in Bible times? Or is His power somehow limited after exercising it though the ceaseless ages of eternity?


If you're reading my blog, you should have figured out by now that I play the guitar, and you probably know that I have a CD for sale. Tomorrow (Sunday, May 2) I'll be at a garden show in Missouri. They have a folk music competition there, and I'd like to enter and play Simple Gifts. It's a folk style arrangement for classical guitar, and if I play it (and especially if I win) then I'd like to have some CDs with me in case anyone wants to buy one. Hopefully I could sell quite a few, and if I won, that would attract even more buyers. However, I'm almost out of the ones I had produced back in December. So after OKFCM (the first week of April) I mentioned to Jenae that I would need more CDs soon. At this point, I hadn't decided to enter the competition, but I was needing more CDs anyway. About midway through April, I decided that I wanted to play at this competition, and have some CDs with me available for sale. I told Jenae about it, and she assured me that there was enough time to produce more before I left. As things turned out, the schedule was a little tight, and Thursday morning I realized that we would have to pay for expedited shipping in order to get the CDs to me before we left for Missouri. (I was expecting this would happen, so it was no great surprise.) I called Jenae, and explained the situation, and she said she would try to get them mailed that day. That evening, I was playing my guitar at a recital in Norman, at Hillsdale Baptist College, (I'll put the video up here soon) and so I forgot all about the CDs and focused all my mental energy on practicing the guitar for my performances. I left my cellphone backstage, in my guitar case, on silent mode. The recital went smoothly, and the Lord really blessed. When I got off stage, I found two missed calls from Jenae and a voicemail. I didn't have time right then to attend to that, as I had a number of people who wanted to talk to me. On the way home, I listened to the message. Jenae said that she wanted to talk to me about prices for mailing my package. Oh no, I thought. It's probably too late by now; she would have mailed it already. So via texting, I found out that she had mailed it with FedEx, and that it was $45, and it would arrive Sabbath morning or early afternoon. I wasn't fully sure about it arriving on Sabbath, but since we were planning to go to the park to have church on our own, I figured we could wait until it arrived before we left for the park. When we got home, I found out from my parents that it wasn't quite that simple. We were planning on eating at the park with a friend, which meant that I might have to stay home by myself (because we would probably have to sign for the package). And my mother wasn't comfortable with mailing a package knowing that it would arrive on Sabbath. But at this point, there was nothing we could do – the package was already out of our control. Jenae said that it would have been $80 to have it arrive on Friday, and thankfully she didn't want to spend that money without getting my approval (since ultimately this is my money). :) I went to bed depressed that night. I forgot all about the wonderful recital. All I could think about was this package, that it was going to mess up our schedule for Sabbath, that I should have called Jenae sooner, that it was too late to do anything about it... In the morning, I decided that all I could do was pray about it. I had a very bold thought. What if I prayed that the package would come a day early? No, that couldn't happen. That would mean it would have come overnight, which would have been almost twice as expensive. FedEx is a business service. When they tell you a package is going to arrive Saturday, the package arrives Saturday. But I also knew that with God, all things are possible. I knew that I was asking something very large (at least it seemed to me at the time). But I decided I was going to pray anyway, and see what God would do. I prayed, with the most faith I could muster. I didn't really believe that God would do what I was asking, but I knew He could, so I prayed that He would give me more faith to believe that He would work things out for the best. Jenae was praying too, I found out later, although she probably had more faith than I did. I couldn't see any possible way for it to work out, except a miracle... and I doubted that I would get one of those.


The next morning, after breakfast was cleaned up, I went upstairs to begin my schoolwork for the day. I had a hard time concentrating. My mind was on that package, wondering what would happen to it.


Gravel crunched on the driveway. My mind raced. Someone's here! I looked out the window, and behold, a large white van had arrived. Like a streak of lightning, I had a sudden thought. The package... No, it couldn't be. It wasn't a FedEx van. It must be someone going door to door handing out literature.


The driver got out, carrying a box and wearing a FedEx uniform. Of course, my mother went out to meet him. He said the package was for Zachary Roux. At this point I was just coming out of the house. I looked at the package, and decided it must be something we had ordered... probably something for my garden. The driver said that the package was marked for Saturday delivery, but for some reason it had come early. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I still thought it must just be an interesting coincidence. Then Mother handed the package to me. I scanned the label... It's the CDs! My mouth dropped open, and I could say nothing. Mother thanked the driver, and we returned into the house.


It was 9 AM. The package was mailed at 7 PM the night before. 14 hours...


With God, all things are possible.


He protects the sanctity of His Sabbath. He cares about the plans of a lowly human being. And He loves to give blessings to His children.


God still works miracles.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Beyond comprehension...

Here's a thought from this morning...


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His power is beyond comprehension.

He can speak a world into existence, cause water to flow from a rock, and raise the dead to life. Nothing is an impossibility.

All authority is His. When He speaks, things happen.

Yet with all this incredible power, He doesn't become a tyrant. He loves His subjects with an everlasting love. And to prove it, He chose infinite sacrifice, so that we might know just how much He loves us...

This is the God I serve and love... Oh that I might know Him more...

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Time of Thy Visitation

It was a day of great rejoicing. The crowds were shouting the praise of the One whom the disciples called their Master. He was in a perfect position to accept the throne of Israel. What a glorious day! As Jesus rode on a colt, the disciples prepared the way for Him by spreading their coats on the ground for a pathway. Was there ever a brighter day in the history of Israel?

And suddenly, when the procession reached the Mount of Olives, it all came to a stop. Jesus beheld the city of Jerusalem in all its glory. The majestic temple with its huge marble walls, glistening in the light of a setting sun… The many pilgrims from foreign lands who had come to celebrate the Passover…

We are told that “when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it.” Why did He weep? Not for Himself, although He well knew that His way would soon lead Him into the valley of the shadow of death. Not for His disciples, although He knew that they would be sorely tried by the events of the next few days, and one would abandon his integrity so far as to betray his Master. It was for the inhabitants of the glorious city of Jerusalem that Jesus wept.

“If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes… For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”

All that Jesus predicted about the destruction of Jerusalem came true, although no one believed Him at the time. It came true in a far more dreadful way than anyone supposed was possible. Why? How could this happen to Jerusalem, and the temple??? The pride of the entire Jewish nation… After all, was it not God’s own temple? How could God let something so terrible happen to His own temple?

Because Jerusalem knew not the time of her visitation…

Maybe there’s a lesson for us today…

We have seen a great light… Shall we follow it, or turn away?

History repeats itself because we don't learn from it… Must it happen again?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

His ways...

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are My ways your ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8, 9)

When we don’t understand why… when we wonder why God lets innocent people suffer… remember this:

“God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him.” DA 224, 225

Never question His love. He knows what He’s doing. And though you don’t always understand why… Trust Him still… His ways are higher than our ways. How could mortals expect to fully comprehend Omnipotence?

He has plans for you that are higher than the highest human thought could reach… And He has plans to bring something beautiful out of a situation where our finite minds can see only chaos and distress.

Everything is clearer in the light of eternity.

Trust Him…

He’ll never let you down…

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's your own choice!

What do you look for in life? Prosperity? Money? Happiness? Good friends? A “good time”?

Are these the most important things in life?

No…

Are these bad things?

No…

Should we spend our life seeking these things?

No…

So how do we get them?

Will God give us these things if we’re faithful to Him?

Yes!!! He might not choose to give these things to us when we think we need them, but He will provide in His time… He’s promised…

“That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace;

That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store; that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets:

That our oxen may be strong to labor; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets;

Happy is that people, that is in such a case; yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.(Psalm 144:12-15)

Now that’s an attainable goal! It’s your own choice if your God is the Lord! You can’t always choose if you have money, or prosperity, or fun, or good times… but you can always choose for your God to be the Lord!

It’s a sacrifice…

But you’ll never regret it…

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The True Sign...

The church leaders came to Jesus, asking for a sign of his Messiahship. “Show us a sign,” they demanded. Christ wrought no miracle in response to their request. Why? Wouldn’t it have been to His advantage to win the most influential rabbis in the nation to His side? Certainly His life would have been easier had He fulfilled their expectations. But He had come for a higher mission than to gain the applause of crowds. He had not come merely to attain to earthly glory… indeed, He gave up inconceivable heavenly glory when He became a man. And besides, no miracle that He would show someone with that attitude would have convinced them that He was truly the Messiah. Nor would He work a miracle for His own benefit. His Father had given Him power to work miracles to relieve suffering, to bless men, and to give evidence of His divinity, but never for His own personal benefit.

Is there no miracle to prove the Gospel then?

Yes there is a miracle… in my own heart.

The miracle of a changed life… Old things are passed away… behold, all things are become new…

A changed heart… A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart from out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh… Ezek. 36:26

“Is it not a miracle that we can break free from the bondage of Satan? Enmity against Satan is not natural to the human heart; it is implanted by the grace of God. When one who has been controlled by a stubborn, wayward will is set free, and yields himself wholeheartedly to the drawing of God’s heavenly agencies, a miracle is wrought…” DA 407

The most powerful evidence I have for the Gospel is the miracle it has wrought in my own life. If it were not for the saving power of my God, I tremble to think of where I would be today.

It’s a journey… and I have committed to hold on no matter what. I may stumble and fall… I may slip and slide… but I have a commitment that I will press on.

And if you share my commitment… if you’re on that upward path… pray for me… We are stronger when we unite under the banner of truth…

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Allegro Soleme

Here's the last movement of La Catedral: Allegro Soleme.


video

The Cathedral, 1st and 2nd movments

Here's another song I'm practicing for my recital in April... La Catedral by Agustin Barrios Mangore. This video is of the first two movements: Lento, and Andante Religioso. The third and final movement, Allegro Soleme, is very difficult compared to the first two movements... Its video is coming soon (I recorded all of these videos the same day, by the way, so I'm just editing them... )

With this song being La Catedral, meaning the Cathedral, I just couldn't resist putting some cathedral-style echo on it... :) So in case you were wondering... my room isn't that impressive acoustically! :D


video

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Here is one of my latest videos... practicing Prelude No. 2 for guitar, by Heitor Villa-Lobos. I'll be playing it at a recital in about a month and a half. Yes, it needs some work, but it's not that difficult of a song in general.


video

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Master Potter...


Isaiah 64 presents a bleak picture of an apostatized nation. They are all unclean… Their own works, which they think are righteousness, are as filthy rags… No one calls on the name of the Lord, because the Lord has punished them for their iniquities. And they all know that God has great power, since He’s done great things in the past; yet they are afraid of what He will do to them because of their sins.

The holy cities are a wilderness, Zion a wilderness, and Jerusalem a desolation. The temple is destroyed. It seems that everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong.

Yet a light is at the end of the tunnel… a glimmer of hope for a nation in darkness…

“But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our Potter, and we all are the work of Thy hand.”

Think about clay and potters for a moment. Which determines the final outcome of a pot? Or, more precisely, who needs special skill and ability to make a quality product? The potter. The clay has very little to do with it. In fact, the clay has almost nothing to do with it. All the clay has to do is submit to the potter. The potter is then responsible for the outcome of the pot. No skill or talent or beauty that the clay has will make any difference in the outcome.

We are the clay, and Thou our Potter...

Our skills and talents are not what qualify us to make good pots in God's hands. Our only qualification is to be moldable, flexible, and willing to submit to the Master Potter.

We all are the work of His hand…

He wants to make us masterpieces…

Monday, February 1, 2010

Be still...

"Be still and know that I am God..."

I had a beautiful opportunity to do that very thing this past weekend...

A major ice storm hit Oklahoma on Thursday morning. We received enough freezing rain to coat every exposed surface with almost an inch of ice. At around 5:30, our electricity flickered briefly and then all was dark and quiet.

The next three days were all very similar... Not much to do when the power's out. By Sunday our lives had pretty much become a round of bringing in clean snow to melt for various purposes, including drinking, bringing in wood, making sure our animals had fresh water...

There's nothing quite like coming in from a world of snow and ice, and taking off your boots and jacket, and feeling nice and warm... and then stepping in a puddle of melted snow from the previous person's boots...

We had many character-building experiences over those three days... :)

Sunday afternoon we went outside to play freeze tag in the snow. Matthew had made some paths in the snow, and with a few modifications to the rules of freeze tag, it made a very fun game. When we came back into the house, we had a surprise! The power was on!

God was so merciful to us...

Even if it seemed hard at the time...

The power stayed on all of Monday. Tuesday morning... it blinked some more, and then it went off again! We were somewhat more prepared this time, though. It was still not what we had wanted... as could be expected... :) But we did have some jars of clean water sitting on the counter, and lots of wood for the stove...

We had some errands to run Tuesday, and we hoped the power would be on when we returned. But it wasn't... We spent a dark evening...

At 7:45, when it was really dark, suddenly the power came on! We were so excited to have it back! But this time we knew there was a possibility that it would not stay on.

This time it has stayed on (at least for now...)

I learned a lot from that time. I had plenty of time to contemplate what God wants me to do. And also, I realized that in our modern culture, we don't give ourselves time to slow down, and be still, and know that He is God. It's so easy to rush from one thing to another, and try to get everything done that we possibly can... Productivity and efficiency and hard work are good, but overworking ourselves to the point where we lose our sense of God's presence are not. I've been there... But the Lord has been showing me that I need to take more time in His presence, not only in my morning time with Him, but all through the day.


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An interesting little story...

When the power came back on Sunday night, the ice hadn't melted yet. All the trees were still bent over with the weight of inch-thick ice. It ended up that there was a tree branch touching the power line... You can guess what happened when the power came back on.

Again, God was very merciful to us, and it burned out and fell where it no longer made contact with the line. Praise Him!

video

Friday, January 8, 2010

The real GYC

GYC was a huge blessing. Anyone who was there would agree with that statement.

GYC stands for the Generation of Youth for Christ. It’s not just a conference where we can go to spend time with our friends, although networking with other young people is certainly a valuable part of it.

The real Generation of Youth for Christ is the group of young people that go home from GYC and make a difference in the lives of those with whom they come in contact. It has nothing to do with the convention. The convention is only there as a way to train young people to be prepared to do the work that God calls them to.

If I go to GYC, and spend time with all of my friends, and listen to the messages, and come forward at all the appeals, and know all of the right people, and even go on outreach… all of which are good things… and then I go home and live exactly the way I lived before GYC, then my trip to GYC was just a waste of money. If it doesn’t make a difference in the way I relate to others, to my family and friends, or cause me to reach out to others to show them God’s love, then it has been a failure.

At GYC, on Sabbath evening, Pastor Asscherick had a powerful sermon, “Unashamed of the Coming Christ.” I was sitting on the front row, in a group of some of my close friends. The message really inspired me to make a commitment that my life from this point on would never be the same. Never again will I be ashamed of Christ. Though He was crucified, and the world thought they would never hear His name again, He is my Redeemer and Savior. He’s coming soon, and I have purposed in my heart that I will, by God’s grace, be ready to meet Him. Time is running out, and the longer we wait to get ready, the harder it will be.

My dear friends made the same commitment that night. Pastor Asscherick called for all those who were willing to make a public commitment to come to the front. We all went forward. Two young musicians shared a beautiful song, “Hands to the Plow.” I can’t remember all the words, but the main point of the song was that there is work that needs to be done, so why are we waiting? There are many souls perishing, and they need someone to come and show them the way to Heaven, but we say, “Lord, send someone else…” Maybe He’s calling you

I will never forget that night. It was such a powerful time. I don’t think that anyone else there, especially those at the very front, will ever forget it either. After the appeal song, we all sang, “I have Decided to Follow Jesus.” We were all crying (at least quite a few of us were crying, including myself) and afterwards we all encouraged one another to be faithful to our commitment. My life will never be the same. From now on, I will go where God wants me to go, say what He wants me to say, and do what He wants me to do… even if I don’t understand why… even if the world thinks I’m a fool… That’s my commitment. I want to thank those closest to me that night for encouraging me, by words, actions, and example… but most of all God, for leading me to that commitment…

Now… I’m back to normal life. School, music practice, video production, chores around the house…

This is the real Generation of Youth for Christ… the generation that lives for Christ in their personal lives… not just at the conference.

That’s my commitment…

May I ever be faithful to my dear Savior and Friend…

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

UNASHAMED!

January 5, 2010

We’re back from GYC! What an amazing experience! It really flew by…

I don’t even know where to begin talking about it. There was so much that happened within those four days… staying up very late, meeting new friends, seeing old friends, lots of great music, great sermons, going door to door inviting people to a health expo and Bible studies, sitting in the very front row with a bunch of friends, even a trip across the street to a restaurant to tease some other friends…

Wednesday afternoon we arrived at GYC, found our hotel, and settled in. We went to the registration table, and I decided to tag along, in case I saw anyone I knew. Of course, I did within the first 5 minutes… Carl and Christine Brugger. Then while we were waiting in line, I found Jenae on the other side of the room. We talked for a few minutes, and then I saw her brother standing by the opposite wall. I started to walk over to say hi to him, and Sean snuck up behind me and totally startled me! Of course, we all had a pretty good laugh over that! :) Soon Alan and Aubrey arrived, and Chanteé was also there (which was a surprise), and thus was set the tone for the rest of GYC… :)

Justin McNeilus spoke at the first evening meeting. It was very inspirational. He used the example of the life of William Wilberforce, who spent almost his entire life in the cause of eliminating slavery from England.

I could give summaries of the meetings, but that might be rather boring to read, especially for someone who wasn’t there. So… I’ll just describe about the meeting schedule… and you’ll get an idea…

In the morning at 7:00 was a devotional meeting. It usually lasted until 8:20, even though it was supposed to end at 8:00. As soon as it ended we had to rush to breakfast, and then eat as fast as we could and go to the room to get our Bibles and brush our teeth and be back to the convention hall at 9:30. At this time we had to pick from about 15 different seminars, all of which were very good, making it a difficult choice. The seminars lasted until 10:30, then we had a break until 10:45, which was the next seminar session. Those also lasted an hour, then we had another 15 minute break. After this came a meeting at 12:00 in the main auditorium, which usually lasted until 1:15 or so. Once again, we rushed to the cafeteria, amid crowds of thousands of people, and tried to inhale our food while Justin Kim reminded us to eat quickly and then leave so he wouldn’t have to keep making announcements… At 2:30 we had more seminars, and those went on until 4:45. At 5:00 was another meeting in the auditorium, which went till 6, and at 6:30 was the last major meeting of the evening, which usually lasted until 8:30 because David Asscherick would go over the time limit. Then we would all run to our pre-assigned small groups, and discuss how we could apply the message. The first night, we couldn’t find our group, so I ended up being the leader… which was fine, except I hadn’t prepared, so somehow I got a sheet with the recommended questions, and God sustained me, and it went great (although the next night we made sure to go to the right place.)… Those usually lasted until 9 or 9:30. After that we all would go to the exhibit hall, where a lot of ministries had booths with promotional materials, or videos, or CDs, or stuff to sell, and things of that nature. I walked around, and either talked to friends who were also there, or talked to the people behind the booths, both of which were fun. My friends and I tried doing both at the same time, but somehow we were either talking amongst ourselves, or walking… not both. So that didn’t work too well. After walking around for a while, we would go to our rooms and try to get some sleep before the next morning came. Before GYC, someone told me that GYC is “late to bed, early to rise” and I found that to be completely true… :) I was also told that it was “crazy busy” and such was quite accurate… but it was worth it anyway… :)

It was amazing how many people were there. At any moment, there might be 500 people in the hall, and on Sabbath, there were over 5,000 people there. GYC is quite expensive, and most people traveled quite a ways in order to get there, but they come anyway.

On Friday afternoon, we all loaded up on buses, and went out to invite the community to a health expo that GYC was holding on Sunday morning. We had a total of 38 buses, all completely full. Bus 24 went across the Ohio river, and therefore we were actually in Indiana at that point (that was the one I went on). My new-found friend Nick and I went together, and learned a lot about each other while knocking on people’s doors. Join us as we come to someone’s door…

Knock, knock, knock… “Hello…”

“Hello, I’m Zachary, and this is my friend Nick. We’re with the Generation of Youth for Christ, and we’re having a convention in Louisville this week, and I’d like to take just one minute to tell you about two great free opportunities.

“First, we have a health expo (handing them the flyer) on Sunday morning at 11:00. It’s completely free, and there will be free blood pressure and glucose screening, free doctor’s consultations, free food samples, and much more. It’s downtown at the convention center.

“Secondly, we’re offering a free Bible study course (hand them the card to sign up) which deals with Bible prophecies and questions like what happens to people when they die, why is there evil in the world if God is good, and things like that. You can go ahead and fill out this card and then give it to us, and your Bible studies will arrive in a couple of weeks.”

No one actually filled out the card and gave it to us, but some of them said they would fill it out and mail it in. We didn’t always get that far – sometimes the person would say “No, I’m not interested” and close the door. Nick and I knocked on a total of 42 doors, talked to 19 people, and left cards and flyers at the doors where no one answered. Later we found out that some of our friends who had gone to other parts of the neighborhood had knocked on over 70 doors, and even gotten some cards filled out for the Bible studies. We were told that a guy – girl pair was more effective, but as things turned out we had 2 pairs with just guys, and 2 with just girls, (among the people I knew on that bus), and I think it would have been more effective if we had redistributed… but we can try it next year. And next year, I’m bringing my gloves for sure! Nick and I ended up sharing… we alternated streets after a while, and whoever carried the flyers got his gloves, because the person who talked could put their hands in their pockets. We were out for 2 and a half hours… in 23 degree weather. I’m just thankful it wasn’t too windy. We were the last ones to be dropped off, and some of the earlier ones to be picked up. Poor Aubrey and Chelsea were the first ones to be dropped off, and the last ones to be picked up. They didn’t have gloves at all. Chelsea got very cold, and wanted to go to sleep, but of course she didn’t dare… If you’re reading this, Chelsea, just understand that what I’m writing about you is what I was told… I don’t claim to be 100% accurate… :) because I heard it from others, not from you… :D

So there is much more I could write… but I don’t have time at the moment…

And that doesn’t even begin to tell all the interesting stories that happened at GYC…

But it’s a start… :D

I am so inspired…

Let’s be UNASHAMED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!