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T O P I C    R E V I E W
AXEMAN2415Posted - 14 Jun 2008 : 14:58:55

Jesus Joshua 24:15 Newsletter - June 2008

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

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

Editor's Note

Welcome to this late edition of the Jesus Joshua 24:15 Newsletter. I apologize once again for my tardiness, but there really is a decent explanation as to why. Right before I was to begin work on this Newsletter edition, the air conditioner in my home went on the blink. Naturally, this was the first week of some very, very hot weather (the upper 90's to 100), and my home had become very uncomfortable to do much of anything, much less work on the computer. Well, it took a solid 7 day week to get everything in order for my new unit, and now that it is in (and working wonderfully, I might add), I can now concentrate on the Newsletter. I am sorry for the delay, but I am certain all of you can understand.

Editor's Lead

A Distorted Gospel

As many of you are aware (even those of you readers outside the United States), our country is in the middle of a very dramatic political cycle. It is time to select a new President for our country. As with any campaign, the intensity, vigor, and tactical political maneuvering is at a very serious level. Words are thrown about by both the candidates and their acolytes in the press, as well as the political constituents. And often the real meanings of those words are lost, or at least disfigured, by those who would try to gain the seat of power, or who wish to be within the inner circle of power.

As many of you who follow the band know, we do not consider ourselves a "political band". Though each one of us has our political opinions and desires, that has never been what Jesus Joshua 24:15 has been about. If we are asked, we will gladly share our political opinions with you. But, that is not the mission of Jesus Joshua 24:15, for two important reasons:

#1: Of absolute central importance to the band is pointing people to Jesus Christ. It is the calling of our very lives to preach Jesus Christ, and Him crucified and risen, for the salvation of all people. That mission is without regard for race, gender, nationality, or political affiliation. Our mission is not to be "rock stars" nor to be "political proselytes". It is to minister the Gospel.

#2: Politics tends to be divisive; precisely because it is a deeply personal choice. Often, a person takes any criticism of their choice of candidate as a personal attack. It is not the desire of the band to alienate anyone from the Gospel by professionally endorsing a candidate. The Apostle Paul wrote that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) Whether I personally agree with a candidate or not, it is not my professional place to impose my views upon anyone. Of course, some may argue that just preaching the Gospel is somehow imposing my personal views, I would respond that our preaching is not secretive nor hidden. It is right out in the open to accept or reject. No one's arm is being twisted to force them to listen to our message.

Having said all of that, I would like to offer an opinion of the political landscape, as it reflects upon the Gospel. This is not a political rant. It is rather a rant against so-called "preachers" of the Gospel, who inject themselves, and there personal agendas, into the message of the Gospel. While I agree that no one can totally divorce their political leanings from their political one's (and I am not certain one should), when someone willingly and unashamedly distorts the message of the Gospel of Christ, I think that person has crossed the line.

Case in point: The Reverends Jeremiah Wright and Micheal Pfleger. I do not care who you are for in the presidential election, and I do not care whether you think that these two individuals have no effect on a certain political candidate. The issue is not the candidate (at least, as far as this article is concerned), but the issue is whether or not so-called "men of God" are really preaching the message of the Gospel at all.

Regardless of how you view the United States of America, and regardless of whether these men have deeply embedded feelings of bitterness (real or imagined), the preacher's job is to preach the Gospel to all flesh. The pulpit is not there for them to preach racism or personal political agendas. The pulpit is not there for these men to excise their personal "demons" of rage, hurt, and bitterness.

The pulpit is not there to preach a message of hope in one breath, and then bear false witness in the next. The pulpit is not there for these men preach about the love of God, yet in the very same message breathe hate-filled diatribes against another group of people. Though the black man was a victim of horrible crimes because of his skin color, and there is an unquestionable cloud over the history in this nation, responding to racism with racism is not a solution. To quote commentator Bill O'Reilly, you cannot justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior.

Rev. Wright declares that the U.S. government somehow invented AIDS for the express purpose of killing off the black man. That is not just a simple opinion. It is an out and out lie. Rev. Wright feels that he is justified in perpetrating such a lie (as well as other falsehoods) because his race has been so unjustly abused throughout the centuries. Yet, the same Scripture that speaks about loving our neighbor as ourselves also says, "Do not bear false witness."

Father Pfleger feels it is necessary to declare that the United States is sin, because since God is love, and there is no sin in Him (which is true), the United States must be contrary to God, because there is still racism in this country. Pfleger feels he is justified in judging the entire nation based on a historical sin. Of course Pfleger, who is Catholic, fails to mention that it was Catholic priests who sexually abused young boys for years. Should we then by his twisted logic condemn all Catholics for the misbehavior of a few? I think not.

Both of these men are trying their hardest to equate the real or perceived negatives in this nation (the U.S.) with those they politically disagree with, and want to push their political choice upon the rest of us. In all of their preaching, they have used the name of Jesus as a shill for their political agendas. There is no Gospel in this.

Oh don't worry, there is plenty of guilt on the other political side to go around. I have heard Pat Robertson and others, who tend to fall on the political right, say irresponsible things and attach Jesus' name to it. But, it is usually not used in conjunction with hate and outright lies. When the late Jerry Falwell said that 9/11 was God's judgment upon this nation for the evils of homosexuality and other issues, I though that was completely irresponsible. But, there is a possibility that he may have been right. I personally doubt it, and I don't think it should have been said, but he was not bearing false witness when he said that. Falwell was offering his opinion. When Jeremiah Wright says that the U.S. government purposely invented AIDS to give to the black population, that isn't just an opinion. It is an accusation that has no facts whatsoever. It is a lie to perpetrate hate, bitterness, and a certain ideology. Two distinctly different motives.

Russel Kirk once wrote, "Christian faith may work wonders if it moves the minds and hearts of an increasing number of men and women. But if professed Christians forsake heaven as their destination and come to fancy that the state... may be converted into the terrestrial paradise - why they are less wise men than (Karl) Marx."

"Christians in politics," writes Charles Colson, (in his book Kingdoms in Conflict), "can make a difference." But then Colson goes on to warn, "Today's misspent enthusiasm for political solutions to the moral problems of our culture arises from a distorted view of both politics and spirituality - too low a view of the power of a sovereign God and too high a view of the ability of man. The idea that human systems, reformed by Christian influence, pave the road to the Kingdom - or at least, to revival - has the same Utopian ring that one finds in Marxist literature."

Folks, I am the last one to criticize anyone who desires to be politically active. Christians in politics is a good thing. We read of many great men of God who were in great positions of political power and authority, and God placed them there. Joseph and the prophet Daniel are two that come to mind. And let us not forget Esther, who used her influence to save her people from wholesale slaughter. I believe that one, as a responsible citizen, should participate in the affairs of his or her nation. Particularly when (as in the case of the United States) that privilege was bought and paid for by the blood of others.

To again quote Colson, "A Christian writer [James Skillen - ed.] has summed this up well: 'The Christian state is one that gives no special privilege to Christian citizens but seeks justice for all as a matter of principle.' As we have said earlier, power can be just as corrupting - or confusing - to the Christian as to the non-Christian. And the results in some ways are more horrible when power corrupts men or women who believe they have a divine mandate. Their injustices are then committed in God's name. This is why an eminent conservative historian has suggested that 'religious claims in politics should vary inversely with the power or prospects for power one has.' It is a fair distinction: Prophets should make religious claims. Political leaders should not - otherwise they become ayatollahs."

All of this may seem off topic, but it is really central to my point: We cannot distort the Gospel, or the purpose of our mission as followers of Christ, in an effort to push our political ideologies and agendas. The Apostle Paul wrote this, in II Corinthians 4:2-5; "Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God... for we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake."

To me, it sets a bad precedent when preachers distort and dilute the message of the Gospel in the process of affecting a political outcome. As Americans, we have a Constitutional right to advocate our Christian view in any and every form. Christian citizens should be activists about their faith, striving by their witness to "Christianize" their culture - not by the force of the sword, but by the force of their ideas. But Christians should not unwarily plunge into the political marshlands, thinking they will drain the swamp. And Christians should not use deceptive and false methods in order to camouflage a personal agenda, and call it the "Gospel."

Question for the band

Q:Where do you see Jesus Joshua 24:15 in 20 years?

Answer: Not a clue! I would like to think that we will still be around making music. But 20 years from now we'll be in our 60's. I am sure that life and situations will change drastically for each one of us. I don't foresee a reason not to still be doing music as Jesus Joshua 24:15. Hey if the Stones can do it, we sure can! But, to be perfectly honest, I really can't say that this incarnation of JJ24:15 will even be the same in 20 years. I try not to make predictions, because we don't even know if any of us will still be alive on this planet in 20 years. We do not have a time table for ending the run, but we cannot speak for what God would have us do at that time. We prefer not to guess, just follow.

Guitar Points from Will

Extended voices

One thing that I have always loved about playing the guitar is how simple chords can be given extra sparkle and clarity by adding extensions and alterations. Many times, a bland chord progression can be given new life by simply adding notes found outside of the basic triad, or dropping a note in favor of another, more colorful note. I like to do this to make a part have distinction and give the illusion of movement, even if the chords are static (unmoving).

This month we will look at extensions, notes added to a chord voicing that fall within the parent key of the chord, but not necessarily part of the original triad. In previous columns, I have already utilized extensions to a small degree, so you should be familiar with some of them. Let's take our basic A-D-E major change and make it more colorful and interesting. First, let's arpeggiate the progression;


A D/A E/B E|---------0-------|---------2-------|---------0--------|| B|-------2---2-----|-------3---3-----|-------0---0------|| G|-----2-------2---|-----2-------2---|-----1-------1----|| D|---2-----------2-|---4-----------4-|---2-----------2--|| A|-0---------------|-0---------------|-2----------------|| E|-----------------|-----------------|------------------||

Now, let's sweeten this up a little. Let's add some extensions to the basic harmony. First, find some common tones that the chords might share. In the first example, We have the high "E" note on the first string. Obviously, that note is shared by the "A" Major chord and the "E" Major chord. So what if we were to drop the high "F#" note from the "D/A" chord, and just played the open "E" note through out all 3 changes? Let's see;


A Dadd9/A E/B E|---------0-------|---------0-------|---------0--------|| B|-------2---2-----|-------3---3-----|-------0---0------|| G|-----2-------2---|-----2-------2---|-----1-------1----|| D|---2-----------2-|---4-----------4-|---2-----------2--|| A|-0---------------|-0---------------|-2----------------|| E|-----------------|-----------------|------------------||

The "D/A" chord now becomes a "Dadd9/A" chord. The high open "E" note in the chord is the 9th of the "D" major chord. It can also be referred to as the "sus2", but since it falls in the upper register of the chord, we'll call it an "add9". Now, "add9" is different from a "Major 9", a "minor 9" and "Dominant 9" (or just "9th"). An "add9" simply adds the 9th tone to the triad. In the case of the "Dadd9", we have D(1)-F#(3)-A(5)-E(9). You may also see the tone, "E", called a "sus2", but that is only if the 3rd("F#") is left out of the chord, like so: "Dsus2"= D(1)-E(2)-A(5). If the 3rd is resent, then the added tone is considered "9".

Now, let's play around with the concept a little further. Another note that can be used is the open "B" note, on the second string.


(A6/9) Asus2 D6add9/A E/B E|---------0-------|---------0-------|---------0--------|| B|-------0---0-----|-------0---0-----|-------0---0------|| G|-----2-------2---|-----2-------2---|-----1-------1----|| D|---2-----------2-|---4-----------4-|---2-----------2--|| A|-0---------------|-0---------------|-2----------------|| E|-----------------|-----------------|------------------||

At this point, we are now making the harmony more colorful, yet without totally losing the harmonic identity of the chords. But, we are starting to obscure the harmony a little more, because, as in the example above, we are now starting the see how a chord can be interpreted in different contexts. The "D6add9/A" chord can be thought of as an "A6/9" chord OR as some kind of "F#m7" chord with no 5th. If another instrument (say a bass or piano) is playing a "D" Major triad, this voicing is considered a "D" type chord. However, if the bass guitar plays an "F#" note on the bottom, then the context of the chord can be thought of as an "F#m7" with and added "B" note and no 5th.

Context is everything, yet it really doesn't matter if you understand all of the ways of naming a particular chord. If you are able to understand the basic notes of the triads, then you should be able to swap out notes to make the harmonies more interesting.

If you'll notice, all I did was take a note that works in another chord, and add it, or substitute it for another note, in a different chord. In other words, if a "B" note is found in the "EMajor" chord, then it will probably work as a color tone in another chord found in the same key. Since the chords "AMajor-DMajor-EMajor" are all found together in the key of "A Major", the notes from each chord will "swap" out, or can be added to, the notes of one of the other chords.Let's look at the triads and see what I mean:

A= A-C#-E D= D-F#-A E= E-G#-B

Notice how each chord shares some of the same tones. The "D" chord and the "A"chord each share the "A" note. The "A" chord and the "E" chord each share the "E" note. "Trading" those notes would not change the color of those chords. However, if you were to add the "B" note (like we did above) to the "D" chord, you would now have either a "DMajor6"(D-F#-A-B) or a "Bm7" (B-D-F#-A). Notice that those chords are essentially the same, except that you start at a different note?

This is how one can make a harmony richer and more colorful. Take a note that you know works in another chord of the key you're in, and put it in another chord of the same key. Of course, it doesn't always sound good, especially out of context. Sometimes your voicing will not sound good unless there's another instrument to play the proper bass note. Some blended or colored voicing sound very obscure and confused without an anchor tone.

Next month, we'll take this idea further.

Lead Techniques from Will

String Skipping Scale Patterns

Last month I utilized String-Skipped Arpeggios (or "Broken Chords") to help with the picking technique. This month, we're going to follow up on that, and focus more on the string skipping technique, but this time with scale patterns. Now, I realize that we haven't really worked on "scales" too much, yet. And, we will. But for right now, I am trying to focus on the physical obstacles that we have to hurdle when picking over more than two strings.

First, we need to look at a scale pattern. We shall use G Major/ E minor:


v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ or v ^ v---| ^ v---| ^ v---| ^ v E|----------------------------7--8--10-|| B|-------------------7--8--10----------|| G|----------5--7--9--------------------|| D|-5--7--9-----------------------------|| A|-------------------------------------|| E|-------------------------------------||

This is just a scale fragment, starting on "G", going up an octave (to the next "G") and then climbing another 5th before stopping (ending on a "D"). This is just to use a symmetrical pattern. It is easy to visualize, and it is rather easy to play. And if you notice the pick strokes, I have provided for strict alternate picking and using "economy picking" (where you continue the same pick stroke going to the next string).

Now, let's take the same principle and play the scale pattern up AND back down:


v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v or v ^ v--|^ v--|^ v---|^ v ^-p---|v ^--|v ^--|v ^ E|--------------------7-8-10-8-7--------------------|| B|-------------7-8-10------------10-8-7-------------|| G|-------5-7-9--------------------------9-7-5-------|| D|-5-7-9--------------------------------------9-7-5-|| A|--------------------------------------------------|| E|--------------------------------------------------||

There are many ways to pick these notes, and these are but suggestions. But, as you can see, I included a "pull-off" on the 1st string to help smooth out the economy picking, because you are playing an odd number of notes in the pattern.

What does all of this have to do with "string skipping"? Well, at first, nothing. But, as you will see, what you learn to do with your picking on scale patterns doesn't quite come out right when you string skip, particularly with economy picking. Economy picking works real well when you are playing two adjacent strings, but when you skip strings, it isn't as efficient. The next example will illustrate this fact. First, let's take a scale fragment and skip a string:


|-S-| v ^ v ^ v ^ E|--------------|| B|-------7-8-10-|| G|--------------|| D|-5-7-9--------|| A|--------------|| E|--------------||

As you can see, the pick strokes remain even when you skip a string. In this case, we are skipping from the 4th string to the 2nd string. I have indicated the pick stroke "down-up"("|-S-|") that occurs during the skip. If you tried this with consecutive down strokes, you would trip up on the 3rd string.

Now, here is a similar scale pattern exercise, but going up and then back down:


|-S-| |-S-| v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v E|-------------------------|| B|-------7-8-10-8-7--------|| G|-------------------------|| D|-5-7-9------------9-7-5--|| A|-------------------------|| E|-------------------------||

Again, notice that alternate picking works much better when skipping strings, as the picking patterns remain even and consistent.

Now, let's try playing the pattern, but alternating the skips:


|-S-| |-S-| |-S-| v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ E|--------------------7-8-10--|| B|-------7-8-10---------------|| G|--------------5-7-9---------|| D|-5-7-9----------------------|| A|----------------------------|| E|----------------------------||

This pattern utilizes the same picking principle as before, only you are now alternating the strings you skip.

Why is string skipping scale patterns useful? Because it helps break you out of the "box shape" patterns that most guitarists find themselves in after playing for a while. Plus, it adds large interval skips, which tend to sound more melodic than regular scale patterns. When used in conjunction with standard lead techniques, string skipping can breathe new life into tired ideas.

Here's another string skipping idea:


|--S--| |---S---| v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ E|------------------------7---7-8-10--|| B|-------7---7-8-10-8-7---------------|| G|----------------------9---9---------|| D|-5-7-9---9--------------------------|| A|------------------------------------|| E|------------------------------------||

This exercise requires several consecutive string-skips. To practice this, you might have to isolate the actual skips first, and practice them by themselves:


v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ E|-----------7---7---------|| B|---7---7-----------7---7-|| G|---------9---9-----------|| D|-9---9-----------9---9---|| A|-------------------------|| E|-------------------------||

As always, start real slow, and use a metronome. Make sure that you can skip cleanly in the slow tempo before notching the metronome up one. You will find that if you start slow and play these cleanly and accurately, you will actually sound faster than you really are! Plus, the wide interval skips give the illusion of speed as well. Trust me.

News and Events

  • Jesus Joshua will be sharing the Soul Joy Records stage at Cornerstone '08, with Wisdom's Call, Eden's Way, Lord Chain, and F.O.G, and several others TBA. This will be July 5, 2008, in Bushnell Illinois.
  • Continue to pray for our friend and Soul Joy Label executive, David Kelsey, as he recovers from surgery and treatments for cancer. There have been some great reports of his recovery and healing. We know to give God ultimate praise for those reports. But David still needs your prayers.
  • Also on the prayer front, I would like everyone to lift up our dear friend John Henton, formerly of Wisdom's Call. John has been very ill and laid up in the ICU at a Lexington, Kentucky hospital for a couple of weeks now. Although his condition has improved as of this newsletter's pressing, and I have personally spoken to him, he still suffers from what is essentially an unknown malady. Although praise is definitely in order for John's recovery so far, he is still very sick, and has some very serious decisions to make regarding personal finances and long term care.
  • Let's give a "Happy Anniversary" to Will and his wife, Juli. They will be celebrating their 16th wedding anniversary on the 13th of June!
  • If you have any questions for the band, or any single member of the band, send an email to Axeman2415 via the JJ24:15 website. Any questions are welcome, but the band reserves the right not to answer any questions of deeply personal or vulgar nature.
  • Check out Jesus Joshua 24:15's Myspace site: . Come, hear the music, buy the CD's, leave a comment, and fellowship with us!
  • You can also check out Will's Myspace:

A Final Thought

You know, there are times when God teaches me the most important lessons in life through the most mundane of situations. Today for example, I let my dogs in the front yard to do their "business". There is a stretch of road that goes through my neighborhood right in front of my house. The stretch is roughly a half mile long, and fairly straight. Unfortunately, some people take that to mean they can drive down it as fast as their vehicles would allow - even though the speed limit is 35. To them, the speed limit is a mere suggestion.

Anyway, I have 3 dogs. One is not even a year old yet, but she's very playful and tenacious. I also have a dachshund that is older and less playful. He's usually pretty good about staying in the yard. But, I also have a white Lab, and she's a very well-behaved dog. She's not too big, but big enough to give the impression that she's not going to be pushed around. She's extremely loyal, and will follow me wherever I go... well, in the house. Outside, once she gets where she thinks I cannot see her, she would bolt from the yard, into the street, and over to the neighbor's yard where their dogs are.

If I am not outside with her, she will slowly wander to the edge of the yard (which is quite sizable), until she has opportunity to run across the street. If I see her, and I yell for her, she will stop, look at me, and make her way back to my side. If I take my eyes off of her, she will end up 3 houses down, or in the middle of the road. So, when she even gets close to the edge of the yard, I immediately call out to her, and she makes her way toward me. She will do her "business" and all is well.

The problem is, if she makes it to the edge of the yard, she may not hear my voice, once her attention is drawn by what looks so good across the street. If her focus is pulled, no matter how loud I yell, she has made up her mind to dash across the street. And of course, she does not understand that she is in mortal danger of the speeding cars that use our road as a racing strip.

There have been the rare times where I have to discipline her for running out of the yard. And she knows that she's done wrong, just by the tone of my voice. She will eventually trot back to my side, or into the house (if I am holding the door open), with her tail tucked under her legs. I have swatted her for running across the street. And she knows it, because there have been times where all I have to do is call her name, and she'll stop where she is.

The lesson God has been showing me, throughout the years, but illustrated (as of late) by my dog, has been that we are not always aware of the dangers that are before us, but God is always aware. He often calls out to us in a loud voice, just to get our immediate attention. We are so focused on that "thing" (whatever it may be) that we are willing to race out in front of potential danger without looking, or even realizing that we are in danger.

How often are we like my dog? We are totally oblivious to the dangers, because we really have no concept of many of them, because they are spiritually discerned. We race out with all confidence and total ignorance, and God is on the porch, vigilantly watching out every move. Not because He wants to hold something over us, but to protect us from those things that we cannot see or understand.

You see, my dog is not being evil or defiant when she runs across the street. She's simply being a dog. She doesn't really know better. She's following her instinct. She's curious, playful, and very affectionate. She's not at all harmful. But she's a dog. She does not have my understanding. She thinks like a dog. So, it is my responsibility to watch for things that she has no clue or concept to watch for. It is not because I want to hinder her freedoms or oppress her. I want her to live, and live well.

Folks, God wants us to live, and live well. But, there are dangers, both seen and unseen; both in the realms of the natural and the spiritual. And God stands on His porch, watching our every move, knowing that often we will give in to instinct and run right out into the road, to see what's on the other side. And we are completely clueless to those dangers that God plainly sees and knows are there.

Yet, while my dog has absolutely no resentment toward me, even when I am angry with her for being disobedient, we cannot say we aren't angry with God when He "swats" us for running into the road. Many times, we throw our fist in the air and demand an explanation from God why He called us away from what it is that we want. We resent God for protecting us, and keeping us from the dangers that we cannot readily see.

The main lesson, for me, in all of this is: God sees the dangers, pitfalls, and traps that we will never be able to see or understand. So maybe we need to be less resentful and more humble toward the God who desires more for us than we could imagine, and sees more than we could possibly see.

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