Tag Archives: Strange

The Burrito is Second

The Burrito is Second

Maybe you’ve figured this out by now, but I’m a metal-head.  From birth I’ve loved metal. My mom rocked me to sleep to Iron Maiden as a baby, I came home from pre-school and watched Metallica’s “One” Video and Motley Crue videos. I have ALWAYS loved it. Picked up a guitar and started playing at 13, started my first real band at 14. Of course, at age 14 in1998 the biggest band in metal was KoRn. All of my friends and I thought their sound was unique, fresh, and very identifiable  I can’t tell you how many times I saw KoRn in concert. I traveled to see them, watched webcasts of concerts. I went to every metal concert I could, local or national acts. I plugged myself into the local scene and helped with booking, promoting, and running shows. I formed a band that found a level of success and a following, my musical tastes had more or less outgrown KoRn, and through their own evolution of sound, I didn’t identify with them or follow them.

I was the vocalist in the band, and in my mind, believing I was a Christian, I wrote lyrics that espoused my conservative christian viewpoint.  Meanwhile, through moderate success and quite a few connections, my band was getting the chance to play at least once a week, as well as some light touring. In all of that, drinking and running around like an immoral jackwagon ensued. It didn’t matter, I was living my life for me, and it was awesome. People were filling up clubs to hear my band play, our MySpace had ridiculous numbers of followers, we were opening for really cool national acts that were huge influences of ours, people knew my name and sang my lyrics in chorus with me to almost every song. How awesome was I, right?

Moving forward, I had met a girl that just drove me crazy with good feelings, and I was climbing the ladder fast at my day job in big box retail. Next thing I know, I’m a dad. My band is over. WHOA…where’d all this come from? I sat down and began looking at my life. I had absolutely “KNOWN” that I was put on this earth to make music. I was positive that God was going to bring me to a point in my life where I was going to be making metal music that allowed me to spread His message. I formed another band with my drummer from the previous band and some other friends, wrote another album’s worth of material, recorded it all, and played some shows. I was gonna do it all over again, but before this band even hit a year, it was all over again. What was I missing here?

Well, of course, as so often does, life happened. I left the big box retail career, married the girl, and really jumped on the Dad thing. Of course, having both grown up in church, myself and my wife decided that we were going to raise our daughter in church. We shopped around a few, even walking out of mid-service a couple times. Our niece invited us to her church and we started going. It just fit. We did the baptism thing, and of course, me being the nerd that I am, I studied the Bible and christian history relentlessly. Then one day, the guy who was teaching the youth at the time called me and asked me to teach his class for him while he was going to be out of town one Sunday. I remember the lesson well, I taught about Solomon. I basically sat down one Friday and absolutely devoured 2Samuel and 1Kings, boiled it all down into what was basically an interactive narrative style story, and walked in that Sunday and just had an awesome time.

From there I was asked to be the assistant in the class. I hung out with the youth and was the “information guy” for the lessons each week as it all moved along. One day, the guy that was teaching the youth, wasn’t going to be teaching the youth anymore. In chatting with our pastor, my wife volluntold me for the Youth Director job and I jumped right at it. Wait, I’m a youth minister now? The dude that sang in a death metal band, drank like fish while doing it, and cussed like a sailor every other moment was now a youth minister? I  was thoroughly convinced that I was certifiably insane. I started looking around and then one day I saw a link to a video. It was Brian “Head” Welch, the former guitarist for KoRn talking about how he had found Jesus and completely changed his life. At the end of the video, he said something that stuck with me, and was apparently the key to the whole ministry he was doing this interview for. He said “I am Brian ‘Head’ Welch, and I Am Second.” I’d found it, I was second too, and it all made sense.

Flash forward about 4 years or so, and here I sit, writing the blog that  has become quite the adventure, and I am honored to say that I have been asked to be a launch partner for the new I Am Second book called Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First . What you will be seeing on here, as well as the I Am Second website (, is me reading 4 days worth of this awesome new devotional and blogging through it from my perspective. I hope you come back to check it out.

My name is Zach Emerson, I’m a Holy Burrito brother, and I Am Second.


Posted by on October 26, 2012 in I Am Second


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When you’re strange.

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Posted by on March 7, 2012 in FGC


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The Strange Burrito

The Strange Burrito

Let me start my entry today by disclaiming something: I am not cool. Yep, I admit it, I am unabashedly, and down right completely uncool. I know this to be true because I have a 6 year old daughter that tells me this quite regularly. I used to be cool. I was the lead singer in a fairly popular local band, a top of my class student at my tech school in high school, I even traveled a lot and won competitions and had really unique experiences. Now, I’m a youth minister, a dad, a full time employee for an insurance company, and I enjoy eating all kinds of food and watching Food Network all day if I can find the time to rest. I’m pretty sure most of that stuff are automatic qualifiers to the land of the uncool.

The question I have today, though, is “Do we need to be cool?” I find myself reading a lot and so often in most of the stuff I am reading you see people searching for or trying to make God “relevant” or “cool” to today’s generation. I’m completely guilty of aspiring to this myself, especially in my youth ministry, but I’m finding more and more that I don’t think that cool is where we need to be. Nope, as a matter of fact, instead of cool we need to be “strange”. In the book of Romans, good ole Paul says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  I can’t speak for you, but I don’t hear any cool in that statement, but I hear a lot of strange.

Words like “non-conformist” and “transformed” usually not connected to cool unless your one of those cats that are into the whole “I’m a non-conformist just like all these other people” types. That’s a much more stereotypical cool I reckon, but not what I mean for all intents and purposes here. I guess though, people thought Jim Morrison was cool, but all he wanted to be was “strange”. I think being strange is great though. It works out to my advantage quite often, being cool only worked for so long.

We are called to “pray without ceasing” as it says in the Bible, and that is a GREAT example of strange. I pray all the time these days, though it doesn’t always resemble typical prayer. For example, I typically do my grocery shopping late Sunday night every week. I chose Sunday night because it’s a low traffic time in my grocery store and it gives me an opportunity to spend some time praying over the week ahead as I select our menu for the week, in addition to the fact that when I go by myself, I spend a lot less money. Now, inevitably some folks see me meandering down the aisles staring at the items and, in their eyes, mumbling to myself, they immediately assume I’m some crazy mental case that has wandered into the store so they leave me alone, thus allowing me to continue my shopping in peace, if I were cool these people would want to talk and totally disrupt the whole experience. Strange: 1 Cool: 0

Another great thing about being strange is that quite often, I find myself in the position where people that I interact with ask me questions about why I’m so “strange”. Of course, the first order of business in these situations is to explain that it’s all because I recognized my call to be “set apart” and be different. Everything else just falls into place conversationally from there. All I can do is be that strange guy mumbling as I walk down the aisles of the grocery, or the guy that actually enjoys watching all of those documentaries on Netflix, or the guy that decides to pay for the meal of the person standing in front of me at Subway without handing them a business card or a pamphlet, or the guy that always talks about burritos. Either way, I’m a pretty strange guy.

I recently put together a contemporary service at my church and in doing so, was very purposeful to not follow a set formula in the order of worship. At the end, I walked up to give the closing, right after playing a video making fun of the way everybody closes a worship service. My church is a small one, and virtually everyone that showed up, I knew on an extremely close level, and knew they were all saved, all born again Christians. The strange part? I planned on that being the case, and gave an invitation anyway. Most often at the end of a service, you hear the “Altar Call” but I borrowed a quote from Shane Claiborne and gave an “Alter Call” because I know that there are a lot of people out there that have already been saved, what I want to see is a whole lot of people who are ready to change, be different, and show that they’re “set apart”. I’ve seen what people look like when they’re cool, I want to see what people look like when they’re strange. So do we need to be cool in order to reach this generation, or will strange work all the same?

Zach is a father, husband, and social media addict that describes his approach to faith as being a “Charismatic, Evangelical, Anabaptist that loves Catholic traditon, or just a plain old ‘lover of Jesus’ for short. He is the Youth director at Poages Mill Church of the Brethren and hangs out with an odd group he calls the “Holy Burrito Crew”.

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Posted by on March 1, 2012 in Karis


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