I’m tired of cynicism and jadedness

I think cynicism and jadedness are some of the biggest threats to my faith and my community. Cynicism is an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest. To be jaded is to be tired, bored, or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something.

The root of cynicism in my life and I suspect in my friends’ lives is, ironically, selfishness. I expect people to pay attention to me, love me, laugh with me, support me, and perhaps most significantly, agree with me. I find myself drawn to low-conflict relationships where we agree on politics, music, parenting, church, movies, and TV shows. I find myself upset or frustrated when I haven’t been invited to hang out with my like-minded friends. When we are together, it is easy to celebrate our homogeneity and criticize the self-interest of the people we disagree with. We flirt with gossip and sometimes even reach second base with that so very tempting mistress (I’m still talking about gossip). Our social media and 24-hour news cycle world makes this worse. It is so easy to block THEM or never watch THEM and grow increasingly cynical (at best) and disparaging (at worst).

At the same time, it is so easy to have a, “So What?” attitude. It’s so easy to do things out of a sense of duty. The routine becomes the centerpiece and the reason for the routine is lost to a sketchy long-term memory. We set up church because we have to. We clean the bathroom before small group because someone needs to. We rehearse on Thursdays as quickly as possible because we just want to know the songs. We maintain records in Salesforce because someone tells us to.

I’m tired of cynicism stealing my joy and your joy. I’m sick of my jadedness stealing my sense of purpose. I want to fight back against my own attitudes that my joy is dependent on other people. My joy should be rooted in my purpose, and to realize my purpose, I have to abandon my jadedness. It’s time to stop doing things out of a sense of duty and instead do them out of a sense of purpose. It’s time to stop criticizing and condemning others because I’ve made my joy dependent on them agreeing with me.

When we start consistently lacking joy and purpose, our faith erodes. We start to see God as a taskmaster insistent on us fulfilling our empty, rote duties. We start to wonder why God is distant. What we fail to see is that by indulging in cynicism, we blind ourselves to joy God has for us. We live in a static (one might say boring), safe bubble where our sense of joy is dependent on input from other people rather than fulfilling the purpose we have in God. When we become jaded, we may even go through the motions of things God has put before us, but without purpose, we are blind to the joy in those motions. This is most notable for me when I am playing bass in the worship band and feel nothing. We neglect the truth that joy is rooted in purpose, and purpose is kept stoked by striving for goals and celebrating wins.

It’s time to stop focusing on tasks and burdens and start focusing on goals and wins. Some of my overarching personal goals are to grow closer to God, increase in compassion, and grow as a person. And I want that for other people, too. Yes, there are people I should be spending time with that are not easy to spend time with, but the win is seeing them and myself grow closer to God, get challenged in our understanding, and mature as people.

While I erroneously attempt to guard my joy with cynicism and avoidance, I fail in my purpose and fail to recognize the humanity of the people around me. The kicker is that they just want to feel joy, too. Even if they are dead wrong (in your estimation), their motivations are the same as yours: joy, purpose. Think on that long enough and you’ll hopefully conclude (like I have) that that means you may be dead wrong on some things.

Will you allow your cynicism to rob you of opportunities to fulfill your purpose? I’m tired of that route.

Will you allow your jadedness to replace purpose with duty and steal your joy? I’m tired of that route, too.

I am ready to fight hard to see relationships with fresh eyes, focused on goals and my own purpose instead of rote behavior and a need for agreement and affirmation. I’m ready to battle my cynicism and jadedness so that my joy is obvious and evident and dependent on my purpose-filled outputs rather than dependent on inputs from others.

I’m ready to clean the bathroom not because someone has to buy because someone might be at my house on Wednesday and experience God for the first time and I don’t want them to be grossed out by the caked toothpaste my kids leave in the sink.


I love Christmas Music (and a new playlist)

The holidays are upon us, which means the radio in my car is often tuned to 97.1 Wash FM. It is saved in my car’s radio memory solely for the month of December. I love the Christmas season because of what it could be, what it should be. I love that right now, I’m sitting in my living room with Becky sitting across from me and a Christmas tree obstructing my view out the window. I am really looking forward to my favorite Christmas traditions: 8th Annual Little Drummer Boy at Revolution (Dec 17!), Presents with the kids on Christmas morning, driving to Pittsburgh (yes, I’m even looking forward to that), and spending time with my grandmother, my parents and my brother.

I also love the nostalgia of Christmas time. For me, there is something about the aesthetic of Christmas that hearkens to good times gone by. It conjures false memories of anachronistic settings with Bing Crosby singing songs by a fire while How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) plays on a nearby TV surrounded by children in matching pajamas. Lights twinkle on outdoor bushes and a plastic Santa Claus and reindeer sit upon the apex of the roof. These are places I’ve never been but the nostalgic pieces of my brain can readily craft.

I don’t have anything against people who start listening to Christmas music around Halloween or even all-year round. For some people, like me, Christmas music, even bad Christmas music, is as comforting as a warm blanket. I personally don’t start listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving because I am a pleasure delayer. Forcing myself to wait makes those first few chords of Frank Sinatra’s Jingle Bells so very much sweeter.

So, raise your mug of egg nog or mulled wine. Here’s to Christmas! Cheers!

Here’s a Merry Christmas playlist for you with songs I love and why I love them.

2016 – The Murphys at Green Street Gardens
  1. August Burns Red – O Come O Come Emmanuel – Holy smoke. Everything about this is awesome, but I particularly love the timing and the bass tones.
  2. The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping – Listen to that bass line!!
  3. Straight No Chaser – 12 Days of Christmas – It makes me laugh. Anyone incorporating Toto into their music is okay by me.
  4. Elvis – Blue Christmas – First, his voice is amazing. Second, the background vocals are awesome.
  5. Bad Religion – Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – Punk rock, sort of irreverent, but still some great harmonies
  6. Louis Armstrong – Christmas in New Orleans – I’ve never been in New Orleans during Christmas, but this song makes e want to see at Dixieland Santa Claus leading a band to a good old creole beat.
  7. Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis – This line: “Rhymes so loud and proud you hear it. It’s Christmas time and we got the spirit.”
  8. Ludacris – Ludacrismas – Because I love Ludacris.
  9. Elmo & Patsy – Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer – Catchy, funny and honky tonk. What’s not to like?
  10. David DeBoy – Crabs for Christmas – Because Baltimore! My Christmas Wish’ll Come True

I also love Mele Kalikimaka and basically anything by Bing Crosby. Really, I love tons of Christmas songs. These are just some fun ones to give you something to listen to. I hope they bring you joy.

What is your favorite Christmas song?

How do you get the garbage out? (early 90s playlist)

In 1995, I was a high school freshman, and my mom and dad did something that would end up being a defining moment in my life. They bought me a black, pointy, Washburn Lyon bass with a ten-inch Park practice amp. I’d fallen head over heels in love with music in the preceding couple years, and the trombone I had been playing just wasn’t cutting it when it came to satisfying the visceral need to rock out I had started feeling.


Now, 22 years later, “bassist” is one of my favorite titles. I have played with a lot of different bands, but my favorites have been: Here Today, This Boy’s Trouble, Sweet Old Etc., The Good Old-Fashioned Rodeo, Tanager, and the to-be-named Susanne Leach/Pat Myers/Matt Murphy project. A few weeks ago, I played a show with Tanager and left every ounce of energy, pent-up frustration, manic excitement on that stage in a swinging, jumping, sweaty, bloody performance.


The two main ways I get out the things that pollute my psyche are playing and creating music and running, and now that it’s getting colder, it is harder and harder to motivate myself to go for a run. I hate being cold. So, music it is. I think it is important that people know how to get the garbage self-doubt, toxic unwarranted shame, painful anxiety out. Otherwise, we end up walking around with greasy jars filled with them and they weigh us down, slow us down, and it gets harder and harder to get out of bed, harder and harder to be the person you know you’re supposed to be.


Sometimes, when I forget about how to clear my own garbage out, I go back and listen to the music that first inspired me to become a bassist.


Check out this playlist:


  1. Nirvana – Sappy (1993)
  2. Nine Inch Nails – March of the Pigs (1994)
  3. Rollins Band – Liar (1995)
  4. Stone Temple Pilots – Silvergun Superman (1994)
  5. Smashing Pumpkins – Jellybelly (1995)
  6. Metallica – My Friend of Misery (1991) – Seriously, the bass tone on this one!!
  7. Primus – Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers (1991)
  8. Rancid – Salvation (1994)
  9. NOFX – Dying Degree (1993)
  10. Alice in Chains – Dam that River (1992)


Honorable Mention:


  1. Faith No More – Epic (1989)
  2. Offspring – Killboy Powerhead (1994)
  3. Jane’s Addiction – Mountain Song (1988)
  4. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Mellowship Slinky in B Major (1991)
  5. Pearl Jam – Animal (1993)
  6. Silverchair – Israel’s Son (1995) – Seriously mean bass tones on this one!
  7. Rage Against the Machine – Take the Power Back  (1995) – All the tone!
  8. The Cure – Burn (1994)
  9. Pantera – Walk (1992)
  10. Megadeth – Angry Again (1993)


I could go on and on, but I won’t.


Here are all the basses I have owned (or still own) ranked from my favorite to least favorite.


  1. 1994 G&L ASAT with hipshot tuner (still own)
  2. 1964 Fender Precision Bass (stolen)
  3. 1999 Music Man Sterling Bass (returned to person who let me use for a few years)
  4. 2014 Epiphone Jack Casady (still own)
  5. 2016 Kala U-Bass (still own)
  6. 1991 MIM Fender Jazz Bass (still own)
  7. 2003 Schecter Diamond 5 String (sold)
  8. 2016 Squier Jaguar 5 string (still own)
  9. 2010 Squier Bronco bass (returned to person who let me use for a few years)
  10. 1994 Washburn Lyon (destroyed rock star style on my parents’ driveway)



Happy Birthday to Ariella! (Plus a Playlist)

Today, Ariella turns ten years old. She is my first child, my beautiful daughter, my life-altering love, the one I affectionately and increasingly inaccurately call, “Little.” Inspired by a sermon, Becky and I chose to have children earlier than we had originally planned, and I couldn’t be happier that we made that decision. Now, a full two-thirds of the time Becky and I have been together (13 years of marriage and 2 years of dating) has been spent as parents. More than 25% of my life has been as “Daddy.”



It’s difficult to wrap my head around what the last decade of my life, the first decade of Ariella’s life, has meant. It has been a decade of laughter, exhaustion, celebration, frustration, excitement, and fear. It has been a decade of learning and relearning what it means to not be selfish. It has been a decade learning, usually from Ariella, what heartfelt conscientiousness really looks like. My Little has been the most impactful, demanding and rewarding teacher I have ever had.


When Ariella was born, in 2007, I was working at a call center, hating my job but feeling like (maybe fearing?) I was going to be there forever. I had no role model in my life for changing jobs. Fortunately, God stepped in, and I ended up with a new job, in a new state. Now, I’m working for my fourth employer since she was born, and I’ve had Lord knows how many titles. And yet, all that accomplishment is nothing in comparison to watching Ariella develop into a respectful, funny, smart and deeply caring person.


She is more resilient and has greater perseverance than either her mother or myself. We are on our sixth home since she was born. Ariella, a fourth-grader, is in her third elementary school and is constantly, easily making new friends. It is inspiring. Ariella has had straight A’s nearly every quarter and sets specific goals with intentional action steps to reach those goals and earn the rewards that come with her accomplishments. She is competitive, but more interested in ensuring fun, fair play than winning. She is ambitious, but she wants to see others come along with her rather than using them to advance. She is patient, but eager. She is confident but servant-hearted.


Somehow, at this point in life, the positive traits that she has inherited from her mother and I are untainted by their negative cousins: Ambition/Manipulation, Competition/Selfishness, Eagerness/Impatience. Being around her shines a bright light on the dark spots of those traits in my life and how they impact my relationships. Knowing Ariella helps me to develop better relationships.


She is not good at keeping her room clean. Like, really not good at that. That’s probably something she inherited from me along with a penchant for irrational fears and over concern with safety and rule-following. I hope these sometimes-negative inherited traits are overcome by rational evaluation and more than anything a joyous passion for living life to its fullest. I know that I am confronting  my irrational fears because I want her to see a life freed from being afraid.


Baptizing Ariella two weeks ago was an amazing moment of reflection for me as her father, and today, celebrating a decade of her life has amplified that reflection. I thank God for how I am learning from her. I thank God that it’s me and no one else that gets to be called “Daddy” by her here on Earth. I, probably inappropriately, feel like you should be envious of such an amazing kid being MY daughter and not yours. That’s a joke, I think.


I pray that God will continue to make His presence known in Ariella’s life and that the Holy Spirit works in her in powerful ways that will change the lives of the people who come to know Ariella like it has changed and is changing my life.


Here are ten songs that make me think of Ariella because she loves them:


  1. Katy Perry – Roar
  2. Britt Nicole – Gold
  3. Stellar Kart – Be Our Guest
  4. Kirsten Arian – Invincible
  5. Chris Tomlin – Good, Good Father
  6. Sylvan Esso – HSKT
  7. Paramore – Ain’t it Fun
  8. Hollyn – Alone
  9. Beckah Shae – I’ll Be Alright
  10. Taylor Swift – Welcome to New York

And one song that makes me think of Ariella because she hates it:

Frozen – Let it Go

Songs to Ruin Your Makeup (Playlist 4 – 18Sept2017)

I’ve never been a person who pauses for a “good cry.” I’ve cried a little more since Ariella was born almost ten years ago, but in those years, I’ve only had a handful of cries. Quick aside: the first time I can remember crying after Ariella was born was watching a commercial during a Ravens game that featured a dad and his grown daughter. I don’t remember what it was for, but I remember wiping away tears and thinking, “What in the world is going on?!?”

I just don’t shed many tears, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get moved deeply. I often feel the welling of deep emotions that feel like they should lead to tears even though none come.

I think it is important to be moved deeply. I think we should strive to feel the heights and depths of our emotions. Sometimes that means being sad. Having a “good cry” or whatever that looks like for you will help you feel the heights of joy more acutely. I believe it will help you enjoy the high points more thoroughly.

When I feel a little down, I tend to medicate myself by watching funny YouTube clips and snippets from the Graham Norton show, but eventually, I get numb to them and they don’t make me laugh anymore. That’s when I know I need to let myself feel without interference even if it means feeling sad. Those are the times, I turn on certain playlists or albums, get my pen and notebook and experience thoroughly…

It works. And science agrees. http://www.sciencealert.com/new-research-reveals-the-pain-and-pleasure-of-listening-to-sad-music

I’ve been working on this playlist for three weeks because sometimes I listen to these songs over and over again and get distracted from completing the list. This list isn’t even close to exhaustive, but these are songs that help me get to that raw, vulnerable place where I can have my version of a good cry. 

What makes you cry? What songs should I add to this list?

Glen Campbell – I’m Not Gonna Miss You (written after being diagnosed with Alzheimers)

Citizens & Saints – Oh God

Johnny Cash – Help Me (and basically his last two records)

Brilliance – Lord Please Save Me

Nirvana – Pennyroyal Tea (Unplugged)

Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven

Alice and Chains – Nutshell (Unplugged)

mewithoutYou – The Angel of Death Came to David’s Room

Brand New – Jesus Christ

Dolly Parton – Jolene

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

What you don’t always see (Playlist 4 – 30Aug2017)

What you see and hear is only the final product. When a new church is planted, there are so many hands, ideas that go into it. When a new album is released, there are so many people bleeding, sweating and crying during its creation. You see Justin Timberlake, but there are lots of fingerprints on what you hear (and what you see if you’re really honest). You see Revolution with Josh preaching, but there are lots of fingerprints on what you are seeing. Justin Timberlake is brilliant and talented for sure. Josh is an amazing visionary leader, absolutely. But before their talents get to the “stage,” there are a lot of other people engaging their presentation.

My must-do is to maximize church planting by leading and bringing clarity (and strategy) to the leaders I serve. I may not be the front or tip top person, but I am still a leader, not a cog. When I don’t feel like an essential, unique piece of the machine, I don’t feel like I’ve tried hard enough. When I can’t see my fingerprints on the finished product, I know I haven’t done what I was designed to do.

This second-chair, behind-the-scenes, but no less hardcore leadership has always been fascinating to me. I think that is why I have always loved learning about producers of records. I lament that my kids won’t be able to sit in their bedrooms with the doors closed, music up loud enough for the whole house to hear, reading through the liner notes of their music. I did that, and like I said in my first playlist a month ago, I learned.

If I heard a record I liked, I would find what else the producer did. I consumed Rick Rubin. I consumed Bob Rock. I consumed Butch Vig. I consumed George Martin, Phil Spector, Timbaland, Dr. Dre, Aaron Sprinkle… You get the point. Producers’ fingerprints are all over the finished product. You can tell when bands change producers. Listen to Metallica’s …And Justice For All, Load, and Death Magnetic. Three producers, three radically different sounds.


The infrastructure of all good things extends below what you see on the surface. Knowing where you fit and leading in that place without jealousy or envy and with a spirit of cooperation and excitement for the product is a joy. I hope to continue to serve and lead like this for the rest of my life. I hope that I can do this in the church planting community forever and make beautiful “music” with a great team.

As Napster and digital music got more popular, I read less liner notes, so I haven’t been great in recent years following producers. One producer though, I followed inadvertently and only learned after the fact that it was his fingerprints on a ton of records I love (including my favorite all time: …And Out Come the Wolves by Rancid). Jerry Finn was behind so much music from the late 90s and early to mid 2000s that I absolutely love. His fingerprints are magical. I can hear him as a thin line connecting all these songs I love. I hope to have a fraction of his legacy and recognizability in my field.

Here is a Jerry Finn playlist (the link is from Amazon because one of the essential songs on this list isn’t available on Apple Music). I limited it to songs he has producing credits. There is no way I could narrow it down if I include every album he worked on. There are too many amazing records on that list.

Who is behind the things you love most? If you don’t know, you have room to love it even more, and that is exciting!

Sometimes it’s better with the lights off…(Playlist #3 23Aug2017)

First of all, get your mind out of the gutter, you sickos.

The music I like the most, regardless of the genre (see the last playlist) moves me. There is something, usually hard to put your finger on, that strikes a heartstring and vibrates a complementary frequency with my soul. I like to let those songs crash over me like a wave. Some of them gently lifting me, some undermining my footing and burying me in the sand inch by inch and some slamming me down, taking my feet out from under me and leaving me gasping for breath. And each experience is wonderful.

While I listen to music all the time, I’ve found there are specific places where different songs are more easily experienced as the crashing wave. Sometimes, it’s while I’m cooking dinner (Sinatra, Satchmo, etc.). Sometimes, it’s while I’m driving (Metallica, As Cities Burn, etc.). Sometimes, it’s while I’m running (Rancid, Bob Dylan, etc.). Sometimes, it’s in a dark room, on my back, eyes closed, arms spread wide.


All music should be tested against this method. It allows you to get inside the song; feel the raw emotion of the voice lost when contrasting against road noise; feel the scrape of dry, calloused fingers against vibrating guitar strings; feel the earthiness of the bass. I’m ready to turn the lights off, how about you?

While all music should be experienced this way, this playlist has songs on it that for some reason always make me want to turn the lights off, lay down and listen…really listen…and absorb.

In no particular order:


  1. The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger – Moth to a Flame
  2. Battles – FF Bada
  3. Sylvan Esso – Play it Right
  4. Alkaline Trio – Blue in the Face (and everything else off Good Mourning)
  5. Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb
  6. Neutral Milk Hotel – In an Airplane Over the Sea
  7. The Postal Service – This Place is a Prison
  8. John Mark McMillan – Mercury and Lightning
  9. The National – Blood Buzz Ohio
  10. Nirvana – Something in the Way


What do you listen to with the lights off? What do you think of this playlist?

Today’s hidden track!