Driving around Manila yesterday, I found myself listening to the following song and somehow it picked up my spirits a bit. Maybe it will yours as well!
After a week away in silence, maybe I appreciate the worship these guys lead us into with drums! Oh yeah!
First, the Little Drummer Boy Rocks
And after listening to that, I thought of the Prayer as Creativity short video produced by 24-7 prayer guys
Two outstanding songs here from JJ Heller. In the End and Control.
First a few of the lyrics to JJ Heller’s powerful new song In the End.
Oh this silly heart of mine
Looking for new things to buy
Nothing really satisfies
In the end, in the end
Greed is making fools of us
Waging war betraying trust
Empires only fade to dust
In the end, in the end
Safety is not for sale.
[You can not buy peace of mind]
Earthly defenses fail
[There's nothing new under the sky]
Build your kingdom all your life
And say goodbye
In the end, in the end
And you can listen here to the music on youtube.
It’s time, time to let you go
Perfection has a price
But I cannot afford to live that life
It always ends the same; a fight I never win
It’s time, time to let you go
I’m letting go of the illusion
I’m letting go of the confusion
I can’t carry it another step
I close my eyes and take a breath
I’m letting go, letting go
Here are a couple of songs by Daniel Martin Moore that I have enjoyed this year. Best listened to when you can be in a quiet place and have some time for reflection.
O My Soul
In the Cool of the Day
After 56 years, I have learned a lot:
The nature of the problem: me
God, awake my soul!
Not guilty anymore!
Because I dance with the melody of your love
Following are the lyrics to “We sing Jesus,” written by a former OMF missionary, Frank Houghton. Song is based upon 2 Cor 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
Paintings are from The Vancouver Art Project II. Check them out.
Off to a contemplative (read silent) Lenten retreat tomorrow near a volcano that is threatening to blow up. No internet until Sunday evening. Have a great Easter all.
Here are Houghton’s lyrics:
You Who were rich beyond all splendor,
All for love’s sake became so poor;
Thrones for a manger You surrendered,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
So we sing, “Jesus!”–
You humbled Yourself to death on a cross.
We sing, “Jesus!”–
Come for love’s sake to rescue us.
You Who were God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake became a man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heav’nward by God’s eternal plan.
You Who are love beyond all telling,
Savior and King, we worship You.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Our minds and hearts, we pray, renew.
Is that music Christian? Secular? Authentic? Does it matter? Hmmm
I recently (May 2010) discovered the music of Mumford and Sons, a folk/bluegrass group from London. What first attracted me was the great music and outstanding use of the banjo–they are fun. But as I have begun listening to the lyrics, I keep adding more of their music to my collection. Some of you will likely be offended by at least one of their songs. As Relevant magazine said about their music, Mumford and Sons sing about “doubt,” their songs “question or confuse” and their songs “speak about God in a way we don’t always hear,” Their music expresses “authentic feelings of spirituality.”
“The feeling of not being clean enough and asking for the truth is a notion that is often too close to home for some Christians—both new and old. But it exists, and is often ignored—particularly between the parallel lines of contemporary worship music. And if we ignore that which aches inside of us, where will we be with our God?
With all the doubt, the longing, the uncleanness—all the things we believe Christ can conquer—what do we do when we’re still frustrated?”
Ok, they do use profanity in Little Lion Man as they describe someone regretting that they “messed” up. As shocking as that was the first time I heard it, that is not the reason I like their music. I am aware that some are offended (my wife) and I need to be sensitive that they may not want to hear such words (put on headphones!). But these guys appear to be reaching an audience out there that other christian music does not touch. Does that justify their language? I guess you need to decide for yourself. Liz Rigs writes (again from Relevant Magazine)
I’m not saying we bring profanity into the church, or that we all express our frustrations with faith using swear words. Rather, we can take a look at how a moment such as this can be so deeply rooted in a relationship with Christ. And isn’t that how our relationship with God works sometimes? One second we feel the need to curse, to shout out in frustration and confusion and plea for insight or answers, and the next second we praise, or maybe we glimpse a moment of understanding and truth. And yet, most of the songs we sing—out of the hymn book or the WOW worship mix—don’t address a lot of the feelings we inevitably come across in our relationship with God.
Here are the words from one of my favorites, Roll Away Your Stone. I found the lyrics on a lyrics site–don’t remember which one and they had reversed the meaning in two lines (in blue) by adding “not.” A Christian understands the struggle about which they sing. No easy solutions, it does not always work but I keep on trusting! A number of their songs are out there on youtube if you want to try them out.
Roll away your stone I will roll away mine
Together we can see what we will find
Don’t leave me alone at this time
For I am afraid of what I will discover inside
You told me that I would find a home
Beneath the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal
And all the while my character it steals
Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think
Yet it dominates the things I see
It seems that all my bridges have been burned
But you say ‘That’s exactly how this grace thing works’
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start
Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think
And yet it dominates the things I see (x2)
Stars hide your fires
For these here are my desires
And I will give them up to you this time around
And so I will be found
With my stake stuck in the ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul (x2)
I started my Christian life singing hymns, not that I am THAT OLD and so I am partial to hymns when they have been juiced up a bit. This afternoon, I have been listening to songs by Page CVXI that I had downloaded a while back–Come Thou Fount, My Jesus I love Thee, Solid Rock, Nothing But the Blood and Joy. I have always liked “Joy” that starts out with I’ve Got the Joy Joy Joy Down in my heart and finishes with a crescendo of joy triumphant from the 2:15 to 2:50 mark of the song.
But this afternoon, I have listened three times to Nothing But the Blood–wow, it is capturing my heart.
Although they call it “natural quiet,” I prefer the term natural music to describe recordings made in nature here, apart from any man-made sounds. Starting with butterfly wings and ending with the waves of the Atlantic, you will hear two minutes of each sound. For some, this might be tedious–I mean two minutes listening to butterfly wings! There is a link to a still picture where the recording was made and I wish they had a video along with the nature music but maybe that would have been a harsh intrusion into this beautiful and delicate symphony.
My favorite video short from 24-7prayer.com Explores Tribe, a prayer group that uses percussion instruments to pray and pray and play they do!!! Is it possible for prayer to be a drumbeat or prayer to be art? Here are some favorite lines. Enjoy!
“Whatever language you speak, whatever comes from your heart, that becomes a prayer.”
“Wouldn’t it make sense that the God who made rhythm would understand what’s in our hearts and how that came out in this language called rhythm.”
“Prayer is about being with God and whatever kind of communication as long as it is authentic, as its honest, its sincere, its vulnerable, then that’s prayer.”
How you connect is really not the issue, the issue is really connecting with God is.
If you haven’t heard “I will trust you” by Steven Curtis Chapman, you will likely be singing it in church before too long. I put it in the same class as “Blessed Be Your Name” by Matt Redman. Could not find the lyrics on the web and so I transcribed them this morning. In doing so, I find this song is even richer than I previous thought. If you don’t know the story out of which this song arose, here is one story. I have added a few pictures that seem to fit with the song.
I don’t even want to breathe right now. All I want to do is close my eyes. And I don’t want to open them again. Until I’m standing on the other side. I don’t even want to be right now. I don’t want to think another thought. And I don’t want to feel this pain I feel. Right now, pain is all I got. Feels like its all I got. But I know its not. Oh, I know You are all I got
And I will trust you, trust you, trust you trust you God I will. Even when I don’t understand. Even then I will say again. You are my God. And I will trust you
God I’m longing for the day to come. When this cloudy glass I’m looking through. Shattered in a million pieces. And finally I can just see you. God you know I believe its true. I will see you. But until the day I do.
I will trust you, trust you, trust you God I will. Even when I don’t understand. Even then I will say again. You are my God. And I trust you and with every breath I take. And For every day that breaks. I will trust you, I will trust you. And now that nothing makes sense. Even then I will say again. God I trust you, I trust you
I know your heart is good. I know your love is strong. I know your plans for me are much better than my own.
So, I will trust you, trust you, I trust you God again. And I will trust you, I will trust you I will. Even when I don’t understand. Even then I will say again
I will trust you, I will trust you I will. I know your heart is good, your love is strong, your plans for me are better than my own. I know your heart is good, I know your love is strong, I know your plans for me are much better than my own.
And I will trust you. You are my God. And I will trust you
I suppose there are a few people out there that don’t feel threatened by chaos. I suspect that my post-modern friends embrace chaos since out of chaos, a new order will be formed, one that is better than the previous order. I am sure I will be corrected since that is a bit of an over-simplification. Is that a trust in an evolutionary process? Off topic a bit now….
Psalm 46 offers us a different source for confidence in the threat of chaos. We don’t have to fear the threat of chaos when God is our refuge, our protector, our strength. Lots of threats out there this day–not sure what are yours but a few that come to mind for me.
- external pressures–economic crisis, social unrest, political instability
- internal struggles–self-doubt, flesh-spirit battle, etc
- satanic assaults
- worldly temptations–to covet, towards power and control, to lust
- direct verbal assaults or implied criticism
Read this Psalm and discover that God cares, He is willing to help and He has the power to do something about it!! The LORD of Hosts, the God of Jacob will be exalted among the nations. As Dr. Craige says,
Because God controls both history and nature, the chaotic threat which both may offer to human existence may be faced fearlessly. The very worst manifestation of chaos is merely a threat, for the Creator has mastered chaos. 346
So, what do we do, “Relax and know that I am God” is Craige’s translation of verse 10 and my new Living says, “Be silent and know that I am God. ” May we all find God to be our refuge and strength in the chaos of today as we wait in silence before Him, reflecting on who He is, what He has done and what He will do!
Totally unrelated except to the picture of the volcano above–downloaded last week, volcanoland by Caedman’s call–a fun song. You can find the lyrics online if interested and get a 30 sec clip to see if it is your type of music.
Another recent favorite that I missed yesterday is by Shawn McDonald, “Wash me clean” from his most recent CD, Roots which is highly recommended. Also found a blog by Mr. McDonald and here is a link to his music website. Check him out.
Here are the words from Wash Me Clean–not exactly out of Psalm 51 as my posts were yesterday but nonetheless a beautiful song.
Awaken me from my sleep
And open up my weary eyes
Move me from my complacency
And bring my soul back to life
Won’t You take this heart and mind
And help me to believe?
In the fire that ignites my bones
It’s in the water that brings life to my soul
It’s in the blood that washes me clean
Consume my wandering thoughts
And renew my mind
And remake and recreate
And interrupt my life
Won’t You breathe Your breath on me
And help me to believe?
Won’t You help me to believe?
Won’t You help me to believe?
It washes me, washes me
It washes me clean
Update: Just found this song on youtube–enjoy
As I spent the week in Psalm 51, I found myself singing the old Keith Green song, Create in me a clean heart. As I looked on youtube, there are a number of videos people made using the song but here is a simple one of the music.
But you can find him singing other songs. Powerful words and presence–thanks Lord, here is a fun one.
A couple of recent songs on mercy and Psalm 51 that I have downloaded
and Whiter than Snow by Jon Foreman–now on my favorite list!
Yesterday, I wrote about the problem in the world today. Well, this week I have been meditating on Psalm 150 and it seems to me that praise offers us a perspective changing solution to the the problems we face. It does not solve our problems or the world problems but it helps us to see the bigger picture. To be honest, when I first started reading the Psalm early in the week, I didn’t get much out of it but with multiple readings and a little help from the Holy Spirit and Derek Kidner, I discovered some refreshing things in the words.
Not surprisingly, the hebrew word, hallal (praise) dominates the Psalm, being used 13 times in the 6 verses, 12 of these are in the imperative mood. It starts and finishes with Praise be to Yahweh (Hallelujah transliterated). The focus is on praise to Yahweh, the covenant making and covenant keeping God of Israel (and now of the church)! Then it says to Praise Elohim in verse 1 followed by nine commands to “Praise him.”
Kidner suggests an easy to remember breakdown of the Psalm, Where of praise v1, Why of praise vv2-3, How of praise vv4-5, Who of praise v 6
Where–likely, the reference is to the holy place of God in the heavenlies. We are to remember that this one we praise is not like us, yes, we have earthly tabernacles and churches but they are merely representations of his transcendent reality. As Kidner says, “His glory fills the universe; his praise must do no less.” As I wrote in my journal, “There is something transforming about praise. It keeps my focus on where it should be and not on my problems, my self-preoccupation is moved to reflect on our majestic, worthy, awesome, redemption-gathering, compassion-giving God, who is LORD of all!!
Why of praise v2–we are to praise God because he is strong and he has abundant greatness. We remember the amazing things he does for us every day and we remember his character which is so unlike our own. He is good, kind, loving, full of grace, merciful, knows all, has unlimited power, is present everywhere, is unchanging in his holy and just character. All we have comes from his hand, including each breath we take–how could we not want to praise him?
How of praise vv3-5 What a variety of sources for praise, worship instruments, secular instruments, tools for communication (today’s internet and email). Each word we speak, breath we breathe–are they offering him praise. Do we see the dogs barking, the cocks crowing as giving him praise–animals, cattle, small creatures and birds are commanded to give him praise in Ps 18:10. All of creation longs to give him praise (Rom 8), had the people of Jersualem not given him praise upon his entry, even the rocks would have cried out with praise. If praise is to come from every imaginable source, why do we fight so much about it??? Sigh. . .
Who v6 Let every nephesh give him praise says the Psalmist. Yes, all of creation is to give him praise.
How can we not be lifted up when we give our hearts to praise? I need to go back and re-read, reflect on 31 days to praise, a small journal type book focusing on praising God. But, praise is something that I need to carry throughout the day, seeing the beauty and goodness of God in each moment of each day!!
Downhere sings about The Problem, a new song I downloaded last night. In the song, they are asking about the problem of misery and evil in the world today. They are looking around for the causes–evil corporations, government conspiracies, even the devil and surprisingly, they discover the problem is: Me!
Here is ther first stanza
There’s got to be some reason for all this misery
A secret evil corporation somewhere overseas
They’re pulling strings, arranging things
It’s a conspiracy
and the third stanza
Everybody’s wondering how the world could get this way
If God is good, and how it could be filled with so much pain
It’s not the age-old mystery we made it out to be
Yeah, there’s a problem with the world
And the problem with the world
Not very popular today to take responsibility for ourselves but as they song goes, if we all accepted that the problem begins with us, the world would be a different place.
And even better, the solution that they point to is that we need a redeemer!
So great is my need for a redeemer
That I cannot trust myself
No, I cannot trust myself
I dare not trust myself
So I trust in someone else
Since Discipleship magazine has now published their last issue, I have to find a new source for new Christian music. They had a monthly page which listed different new CDs and the favorite songs in the opinion of the reviewer. Found a lot of new music that way in the last year–Jon Foreman, Shawn McDonald and Jason Gray are my favorites that I have discovered but I also now listen to Mike Farris, Third Day, Travis Cottrell, Newworld Son, Justin McRoberts, Jeremy Casella, Fike and Dana, David Crowder Band, Charlie Hall, Bart Millard, Andrew Peterson and Amy Courts. I know a number of these have been around awhile but I have just discovered them.
So, last night, I found on the Christianity Today website a place in which they review new Christian music. Found a few I liked and one song in particular that I will be making a post about. Found some new music by Chris Tomlin that I didn’t know about, a new Hillsong United song I downloaded and discovered two new artists Brooke Fraser and Downhere.
If I had the time and self-discipline, I would talk about some of my favorite songs by each of these artists but I doubt if that is going to happen anytime soon. But, I would appreciate any new Christian music that you would recommend. Actually, it does not have to be Christan–I discovered a new James Taylor song about the suffering of the Seminole Indians a few months ago and now enjoy Tim McGraw and Rissi Palmer, who are more country.
Just listened to Deathbed by Reliant K on this youtube video. Some sad but powerful words with haunting music about someone on their deathbed who is reflecting on their life.
Here is a link to the lyrics but here is how the song starts out
I can smell the death on the sheets
I can’t believe this is the end
But this is my deathbed
I lie here alone
If I close my eyes tonight
I know I’ll be home