My New Blog 4 Worship Leaders

It’s official: I’ve started a new website just for worship leaders: www.forworshipleaders.com. It’s a simple site that provides thought-provoking blog entries on leadership and theology, incredible resources (from gear to websites to conference recommendations), and links to some other things that I’m up to these days. If you are in any way involved in worship leadership, I’d love for you to visit, subscribe, and join the conversation that has already started! Blessings to you today…

Yours,
Steven

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Restoring a Childhood Favorite (part 1)

Back when I was 6 years old, my Mom used to take me out of school on the 2nd Tuesdays of each month. We’d head off for the local Chuck E Cheese’s because on those 2nd Tuesdays, all pizza buyers got free video games for the afternoon. For a 6 year old boy, this was like walking into heaven! I’d run around for hours playing all sorts of games: Pac Man, Centipede, Bezerk…but my favorite game there wasn’t a video game at all, but a pinball machine built by Williams in 1984: Space Shuttle.

This game rocked my world. I remember playing it over and over and over again. The lights, the sounds, the ball flying around the machine at blazing speeds; there was just nothing like it! It has never escaped my memory as being one of the coolest games ever made.

Sadly, pinball machines have lost their pastiche over the years and are disappearing. Back then there were many pinball manufacturers (Williams, Data East, Gottlieb, Stern, Bally, Sega, etc…); today there is only 1 (Stern).

As a result, I’ve been looking to restore an original Space Shuttle pinball for years. I finally found one worth fixing on Craig’s List a few weeks ago. This is the story of that restoration. Along the way, I’ll give several helpful bits of information I’ve collected  (like what color exactly the cabinet is) for those of you reading this because you’re restoring a SS yourself.

GETTING THE GAME
My buddy Erik and I traveled 30 minutes to pick the machine up in a borrowed cargo van. Through this experience I found out that pinball machines aren’t all that heavy, unless of course you have to travel up 2 flights of stairs! Ouch.

To move the game, the backglass comes out by using a keylock at the top of the back box. Behind it are all the CPU boards and some carriage bolts holding the back box vertical. I unscrewed these to get the back box to lay flat on the pinball machine and into the truck we went.

“Liftoff…”

After bringing it into the garage I was very pleased that our trip was successful and the machine powered right up. Everything except the display worked great. That isn’t to say the machine was in good condition though: the playfield was in awful shape with pieces of packaging tape used as mylar in certain spots, several plastic pieces were cracked, mechanical pieces were broken (the plunger for instance), the cabinet had never been cleaned and had collected 28 years of dust. Still, it was SUPER cool to be playing this game in my garage with some friends!

Here you can see years of wear over the “USA” area. A magic marker and packaging tape was used to hide the damage, but it looks awful.

TO RESTORE OR REPLACE?
Basically, I went back and forth about whether or not I wanted to either a) fix the original playfield, or b) remove ALL the top and bottom components and install a new playfield.

More packaging tape being used to “protect” the playfield. It is now bubbling up and steering the ball as a result. Click to see close-up.

After evaluating the surface thoroughly, I realized that either way, I would have to remove all the components on the top and bottom in order to work on the damaged areas. As I started to take off the top components, I could see that  the damage was much more extensive than I had thought. It was going to take me months of fixing the wood, resurfacing, repainting, and clearcoating the playfield to bring this particular surface back to life. I decided to scour the web and look for either “new old stock” or a reproduction playfield. I ended up buying one of the last reproduction units available from “Classic Playfield Reproductions” (http://www.classicplayfields.com/): highly recommended.

Just to give you an idea of how many components are on the BOTTOM of the playfield!!

WORKIN’ IT
I began the process of removing all the top components. This actually wasn’t all that hard, just extremely time consuming. I did NOT want to be stuck with pieces everywhere, so I very carefully placed each piece from each section in separate baggies. I also took copious notes on where each piece went, along with snapping a ridiculous amount of photos with my iPad. In short: this SAVED my butt. If you are restoring a pinball machine, please listen to this advice: DOCUMENT EVERYTHING.

With the top bare, I began the arduous task of labeling each of every single wire, solenoid, switch, and screw on the bottom (my wife was very generous in letting me the dining room table as an operating table for a week or two). Unlike the top of the playfield, this was not easy. The top is all pretty stuff; the bottom is where the guts are.

Along the way, I also cleaned every single plastic piece by buffing with “Novus 2” (a pinball industry tip), dishwashed the playfield pieces, used steel wool on each and every metal piece, vacuumed the interior of the game, and repainted areas that were badly scratched or damaged. I also replaced a few things:

  1. all the “rubber bands” and rubber bumpers. You can see the difference in the pic to the right.
  2. the pop bumper components (the metal sleeves, the switches, springs, and bases) and soaked the tops (which cannot be found anywhere online) in bleach to get them back to their original color.
  3. All of the light bulbs (two types: 44s, which I replaced with 47s due to a lower operating temperature and therefore, less power consumption, and 89s).
  4. Finally, as with all the SS pinballs this age, I had to replace the space shuttle toy on the playfield. It was horribly yellowed and cracked. The new one looks much better and is significantly stronger.

In the next part, I’ll show what went into removing all the bottom components, as well as showing the differences between the new and old playfields…

Steven

Episode 41: The Story Behind “You Are Faithful”

Hear the heart behind the new song “You Are Faithful” from songwriter Amanda Lee Potaczek. You can download this song + 2 more for free at www.noisetrade.com/1000generations.

Video

Why Exactly I’m Letting “1000 Generations” Go

Last week, I announced on Twitter and Facebook that 1000 Generations is coming to close. We also released “The Last 3 Songs” that we’ve been working on, for absolutely free on NoiseTrade (to download it, click here). This week, I’d like to explain why exactly I’m moving on.

Let me start by saying that I love our tribe of 1000 Generations so freaking much. This truly has nothing to do with some internal struggle in the band. Over the years, we have truly become a family. I know them inside and out, and they me. We will continue to do life and music together, just not as “1000 Generations.” The reason we’re moving on is a bit a hairball, but I will try to peel back some of the layers for you.

The most focused and happy I felt with the band was probably around the time of releasing our 2nd album, “To Those Who Cry.” It felt pure. It felt honest. It was life-giving. Somewhere along the way though, I started getting caught up in “bigger, better, stronger, faster.” This became especially apparent to me after we started seeing some chart success at radio.

Getting radio was such a blessing. Yet for me, it seemed like all I did for a while was watch the charts to see where we were. I started having good days or bad days depending on our rise or fall. I hated it, and wasn’t feeling very good about myself either.

Around the same time, I started producing other artist friends of mine. I was having SO much fun. I wanted to get into this more, but never could find enough time.

I also started having a strong desire to go back to school to work on a Master’s of Science in Music Technology. I have always loved the nerdy, tech side of music just as much as the creative, emotional side. But we were on the road almost all the time.

I started losing passion for touring because my once clear, God-given mission with the band started getting hazy. What were we supposed to be doing? We tossed around a lot of good ideas but without a clear directive from God, I knew we were just floundering doing our own thing. I didn’t like this idea at all, and I know the other guys didn’t either.

Finally, Amanda and I started having this crazy desire to procreate. We noticed the world differently. We saw “families” for the first time, and wondered what that might look like for the two of us! There really is something to the whole “biological clock” thing I think. Prior to this, we really poured as many of our waking hours solely into 1000 Generations. That was our family.

All this started adding up until the day came that I just asked Amanda, “are we really supposed to continue 1000 Generations?” We’d worked so hard to establish a dream in our hearts, so even the thought of quitting seemed ridiculous. But I couldn’t shake the feelings. “What if it’s time to let it go?” Scary thoughts.

Around December 2011, Amanda and I got together with the rest of the band, and asked them what they thought we should all do. After going round and round for a few hours, we all came to the conclusion that without clear directives from God, 1000 Generations doesn’t make sense. It was bittersweet. It still is.

So what are we going to do now? First, we’re going to finish out this year strong as a band. We are thrilled about the upcoming events left on our calendar, and plan to put out a few more videos and things here and there. Apart from that, we’re not really sure. I know that I want to produce more artists, and spend more time with my amazing family (I also have this secret desire to release a children’s project that parents wouldn’t actually mind playing on car trips because the music is creative and good). We’ll just have to wait and see.

If you haven’t already, be sure to share “The Last 3 Songs” with your friends because they’re completely free. We did this as a way to say that we love you and sincerely appreciate you as one of the many who’ve supported us and our music throughout the years.

Keep watching as next week Amanda will release a YouTube video here sharing her heart behind writing one of the songs on the free release, “You Are Faithful.”

With love,
Steven

1000 Generations’ Last 3 Songs

ImageAfter much prayer, thought, and conversation, we inform you today that 1000 Generations is coming to a close. While we’ve loved every minute of being on the road, pouring our hearts into the music, and worshiping our amazing God, we have slowly been realizing that we’re longing to go after other pursuits. Being on the road almost non-stop for 8 years hasn’t given us the freedom to do that.

This was not an easy decision for us to make. We love one another, love the music, and love you, our friends. In the coming weeks, I’m going to blog further about our decision and where we see things headed.

For now though, we wanted to share with you our latest material that we’ve been working on since the release of our last album, “Wrecked For the Ordinary.” We’re very proud of this material and wanted it to see the light of day. So, we’ve decided to release a very special EP (available online only) of our last 3 works. These songs are available as of today!

We invite you to take a listen and download “The Last 3 Songs” by simply clicking here. If you like them, share them with your friends and community. We want them to be an encouragement to all who’ll listen. The songs can be downloaded for free, but if you dig them, please consider leaving a tip.

Know that we’ll continue to play a few shows till the end of the year, and also have some upcoming “stories behind the songs” videos planned for our website. Most importantly, we want to thank YOU for being a friend of ours throughout the years. We are so blessed to have you in our lives, and that you have allowed us and our music a place in your heart. We hope to stay in touch!

If you’d like, we invite you to share your favorite 1000 Generations songs, shows, and/or moments on Twitter by including @stevenpotaczek and #1000Generations in your post(s). We’ll also be posting our favorite moments and songs in the coming weeks and months.

Without further adue, click here for “The Last 3 Songs.”

With love,
Steven Andy Potaczek
1000 Generations

Letting of (False) Control

You ever have one of those moments where you feel like you get a revelation from God in a split-second? I think I had one of those today…

I found myself anxious and angry for a short time today. The reason was that I’m not able to eat the things I want to. Then the revelation came.

I get anxious about fasting because I feel like I’m giving up (too much) control. Hear me out. Sometimes I feel like there is so much in my life that is out of my control. As a result, I realized today that I cling to whatever vestiges of control I actually have. Eating is a BIG one.

Like I said in an earlier post, typically if I feel the desire to go out for pizza, I’m going out for pizza! Eating is sort of the one area of my life that I don’t skimp on. PF Chang’s craving? Cool, let’s go. It’s a sense of control for me. I want, I take.

Control isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But in that moment of revelation something else showed up: I fear letting go of control because somewhere deep down, I feel like letting go of the few areas I actually have authority over will mean that I’ll lose my mind. Kind of weird logic isn’t it?

If you’ve ever seen the music video for 1000 Generations’ song “Fail Us Not,” you know that a struggle for me is anxiety. It’s awful and at times it feels out of control. Somehow over the years, I’ve tied my “sanity” to my sense of (false) control. Again, it doesn’t matter that it’s food; it’s simply control. Odd, but true.

So here I sit with this revelation. My next step is to simply bring this before my Father and repent. I’m ready to be free of all that tries to hold me down.

How about you? Are there any areas of control that give you a sense of (false) authority? I know that’s a deep one, but I’m just curious if you struggle with something weird and illogical like this to?

With love,
Steven

What Is Lent?

-From BibleGateway.com

What is Lent? Is it an official Christian holiday? Was it instituted in the Bible? What does it mean to observe Lent, and are Christians “required” to do so? For the interested, we’ll try to answer those questions here.

Lent is the span of time in the church calendar that starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday commemorates the beginning of Jesus’ 40-day fasting and temptation in the desert, and Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus’ resurrection from the grave after his crucifixion.

Lent, then, is generally observed as a time for Christians to reflect, repent, and pray as a way of preparing their hearts for Easter. It is commonly observed by many Christian denominations—Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and others—although not every Christian church or denomination does so. Because Lent is not officially instituted in Scripture, observing it isn’t in any way a “requirement” of Christianity. However, Christians from many different theological persuasions choose to observe it as a way of focusing their thoughts on Jesus Christ during the Easter season.

How does one observe Lent? It differs from person to person and church to church, but some of the things Christians opt to do to observe Lent include:

  • On the first day of Lent (Ash Wednesday), some Christians mark their foreheads with ash as a symbol of sorrow and mourning over their sin. (See Job 42 for an example of ash used as a symbol of repentance.)
  • Special worship services, or additions to regular worship services, that focus in various ways on man’s need for repentance. This often takes the form of extra Scripture readings and prayer.
  • Some Christians choose to give up a habit or behavior during Lent as an exercise in prayerful self-denial. This might range from something as simple as not drinking soda during Lent to a full-blown program of fasting.
  • Some Christians commit to a special devotional activity during Lent—for example, daily Scripture reading, regular prayer for a specific person or topic throughout Lent, or volunteer work in their community.

The choice to observe Lent is a personal one—the whole point is to focus your heart and mind on Jesus during the journey to Easter. There’s no requirement to observe it, nor should you feel guilted into participating. However, millions of Christians around the world do observe Lent each year; if you’ve never done so, why not give it a try? Whether you observe Lent in a small or major way, you’ll be amazed at what happens when you devote a part of each day to reflecting on Jesus Christ and God’s Word.

We invite you to consider other ways that you can deepen your relationship with Jesus over the coming weeks. Whether you call it “Lent observance” or “daily devotions” or anything else, time spent reflecting on Jesus Christ is time well spent!

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