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Hymns or Me’s

February 25, 2009 5 comments

My wife pointed me to the following article on the sad state in much of our Christian music.  From an article by Tony Woodlief on World Mag site.

Interesting comments section–some music mentioned there I am going to check out.  As my dear one noted this morning, some of these songs might be ok if sung privately as an individual act of worship but they just don’t work as part of public worship if their goal is to bring us together as a group before God’s throne.    Thoughts?

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Life lessons from the world of music

February 23, 2009 1 comment

Unexpected lessons from classical music.  In the linked video, Benjamin Zandler gives a demonstration about the power of classical music.  Along the way, he shares some lessons.

On a leader: “He (does) not doubt for one moment the capacity of the people he is leading to realize whatever he is dreaming.”

Our words and the difference they make.  “I will never say anything that could not stand as the last thing I will ever say.”

Beauty in art

February 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Came down last night and caught the end of a movie called Copying Beethoven. (2006)  Understand it is a fictional account about the last year of Beethoven’s life when he was deaf and needed someone to assist him in conducting and in recording music.  A couple of quotes I heard made me think of an article I read this week in which the author laments about the loss of the “spiritual” in art today.

Theodore Dalrymple wrote in “Beauty and the Best,” how the loss of the spiritual in Western art has led to a “terrible impoverishment of our art.”  He is referring to an article by Roger Scruton.

Professor Scruton’s suggestion that western art had become impoverished as a result of its radical repudiation of anything transcendent in human existence in favour of the fleeting present moment.

Dalrymple’s quote about beauty is worth quoting in full.

Beauty is a fragile and vulnerable quality, and moreover one that is difficult to achieve; ugliness, by contrast, is unbreakable and invulnerable, and very easy to achieve. (How easy it is to look bad, how difficult to look good!) By espousing the ugly, we make ourselves invulnerable too; for when we espouse the ugly, we are telling others that ‘You can’t shock, depress, intimidate, blackmail, or browbeat me.’

We use the ugly as a kind of armour-plating, to establish our complete autonomy in the world; for he who says that ‘I find this beautiful,’ or ‘This moves me deeply,’ reveals something very important about himself that makes him vulnerable to others. Do we ever feel more contempt than for someone who finds something beautiful, or is deeply moved by, what we find banal, trivial or in bad taste? Best, then, to keep silent about beauty: then no one can mock or deride us for our weakness, and our ego remains unbruised. And in the modern world, ego is all.

What a contrast with Beethoven and his sense that his music came from the hand of God.   Found the following quotes from Copying Beethoven at IMDB

The vibrations on the air are the breath of God speaking to man’s soul. Music is the language of God. We musicians are as close to God as man can be. We hear his voice, we read his lips, we give birth to the children of God, who sing his praise. That’s what musicians are.

God whispers into the ears of some men, but he shouts into mine!

[conclusion--Beethoven is describing his "Song of Thanks to the Deity"] No key. It’s common time, molto adagio, sotto voce. First violin, quarter notes. Middle C up to A. Measure. G up to C, tied, F. Second violin, bar two. Middle C up to A. Double note E, G, C. Viola clef, 2B pressed. It’s a hymn of thanksgiving to God, for sparing me to finish my work. After the pianissimo, the canon resumes. First violin takes the theme. Viola, C to A. It’s growing, gaining strength. Second violin, C to A, an octave higher. Then the struggle. First violin, C, up an octave, and then up to G. And the cello, down. Pulled down. Half notes, F, E, D. Pulled constantly down. And then, a voice, a single frail voice emerges, soaring above the sound. The striving continues, moving below the surface. Crescendo. First violin longing, pleading to God. And then, God answers. The clouds open. Loving hands reach down. We’re raised up into heaven. Cello remains earthbound, but the other voices soar suspended, for an instant in which you can live forever. Earth does not exist. Time is timeless. And the hands that lifted you caress your face, mold them to the face of God. And you are at one. You are at peace. You’re finally free

Back to “the day the music died”

February 6, 2009 1 comment

I know I am dating myself but I used to enjoy listening to American Pie by Don McClean.  Now I found out that McClean wrote it in memory of the death of Buddy Holley–the day the music died!! Most of you probably already knew that but I didn’t.  Check out here for a line by line interpretation of the song. What started this was seeing a post on World Mag that linked to an article in the Washington Post about the the 50th anniversary (on Feb 3)  of the death of Buddy Holley. I had that lp album and only got rid of it a few years ago.  Just checked and thankfully, it looks like it was not a collectible! But, I do still like the song and I am downloading as I write so I can listen to it after this.    Just read over the lyrics and it is a long song (over 8 minutes and more than 10 stanzas).  Actually, McClean refers to God in a number of places in the song.  Here is the last one–I know, bad theology but fun to sing and a reminder once again of the power of music.

And in the streets: the children screamed,

The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.

But not a word was spoken;

The church bells all were broken.

And the three men I admire most:

The father, son, and the holy ghost,

They caught the last train for the coast

The day the music died.

My Weakness: His Strength

January 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Talking to a friend the other day about depression and weakness. I could sense he was not used to being in a position of such weakness.  I tried to show him that being shown his weakness is a great gift.  It was always there anyway! So, why not let God use it.  Here are some lyrics to a song by Jason Gray, called “Weak” from his album All The Lovely Losers.

All the Lovely Losers

All the Lovely Losers

I also like his song grace off of this album.  His music works for me.

I was afraid to be weak
Afraid to be me
I was afraid
Because I didn’t want them to see
What’s broken in me

But I guess I was wrong
I should’ve known all along
When I’m weak You are strong in me

You make up what I lack
You shine through the cracks
Where I was shattered
Because You pour out Your grace
Through my broken places

CHORUS

So I won’t be afraid to cry
To confess or question why
I won’t hide the pain I feel
Now I know these wounds are how you heal
No I won’t be afraid to cry
I don’t want to live a lie
They will see Your love is real
When I let You use my wounds to heal
These wounds are how You heal
You can use these wounds to heal

If they’re afraid I stand too tall
They’ll tear down the bridges and build a wall
But if they see I stumble the walls may crumble down

I was wrong
I don’t have to be strong
I didn’t want to believe
But now I finally see
My deepest point of need
Is the better part of me
`Cause when I’m weak You are strong in me

Loving God

December 7, 2008 Leave a comment

From William Cowper, 1768 hymn, “Hark My Soul, It is the Lord”

Lord, it is my chief complaint that my love is weak and faint.

Yet I love Thee and adore. O for grace to love Thee more.

Reformation Day

November 2, 2008 Leave a comment

I didn’t even know such a day existed until this week.  Reformation Day is a religious holiday that recalls the beginning of the Reformation on Oct 31, the day in 1517 that Martin Luther posted his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church door.  David Mathis has an interesting post showing that Luther never forgot his desperate need for the cross.

First Thesis

The truth of Luther’s first thesis would reverberate throughout his lifetime, even finding expression in his last words.

His first thesis reads,

When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.

All of the Christian life is repentance. Turning from sin and trusting in the good news that Jesus saves sinners aren’t merely a one-time inaugural experience but the daily substance of Christianity. The gospel is for every day and every moment. Repentance is to be the Christian’s continual posture.

Last Words

Almost 30 years later, on February 16, 1546, Luther’s last words, written on a piece of scrap paper, echoed the theme of his first thesis:

We are beggars! This is true.

From first thesis to last words, Luther lived at the foot of the cross, where our rebellious condition meets with the beauty of God’s lavish grace in the gospel of his Son—a gospel deep enough to cover all the little and massive flaws of a beggar like Luther and beggars like us.

Here is a smart rap video about the 95 theses.  They also have the words posted on the site if you don’t want to wait for the video to upload.

Alternative ending to “Above All”

May 4, 2008 5 comments

Thanks to Nigel, our worship leader this morning.  I have not been able to enjoy singing “Above All” by Hillsong because of its ending, “You took the fall and thought of me above all”  No, despite what we sing and what many churches seem to teach, it is NOT about me–it is about God and His glory.  Check out Unveling Glory for more on that.

Here are Nigel’s revised words to the chorus of Above All.  Maybe we could come up with other alternative endings?

Crucified
Laid behind a stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose
Trampled on the ground
Your life for mine, now love abounds

Original Lyrcs below

Crucified
Laid behind a stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose
Trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
Above all

Easter and the Prodigal Son

March 23, 2008 1 comment

For some reason, as I have been meditating on the risen Lord Jesus this morning, I thought of the song, When God Ran by Benny Hester. It must be an old song by now and I don’t think he is even singing anymore. Maybe the younger generation won’t like it but I do–this song is about our return to the Father as in the prodigal son story in Luke 15. How grateful I am that God moved (and continues to move) towards me in love. May I respond back with love and gratefulness to Him.

Here is one video link to the song as sung by Benny Hester

Here is another video of the song but sung by Philips, Craig and Dean. Too “religious” for me but I do like it when the son runs to the father in this video.

Here is a painting by Wesley that I like of this scene–not as much as Rembrandts but still worth a look if you have not seen it.

forgiving-father-by-wesley.gif

One of my new favorite songs

March 21, 2008 1 comment

Thanks to La Shawn Barber’s Corner I found out about seeqpod which is a search program for the web in which you can find lots of music (and much more although I have not looked at more than music). La Shawn Barber is a Christian political blogger that some of you may want to examine–her post about 11 years of sobriety is powerful. Thanks La Shawn!!

But what I really wanted to post was to tell you how I found on seeqpod a number of videos for the song “Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns. There are a number of youtube videos–not all I can recommend. By the way, I would be very interested to learn about the legality of posting a copyrighted song on youtube. Here is one home made video of this awesome song that I think will touch the most hardened among us.

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“Slow Fade”–a song worth hearing!

January 18, 2008 2 comments

Bought Casting Crowns “The Altar and the Door” CD and have listened to it a number of times. The third song, called “Slow Fade” is a delicious haunting melody with words that slap you around–in a good sort of way. Indeed, we are led astray by small, seemingly insignificant decisions.

Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you’re thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see

My new favorite song

November 21, 2007 Leave a comment

Our church sent us a new CD by their worship leader, Tim Suel, on his new CD, Come Like the Fall.  It is awesome. I can play one of his song, “Take Me”, over and over.  It is about the overwhelming love of Jesus.  It makes me want to enter into the presence of Jesus and just sit there and enjoy Him.  Looked for the lyrics somewhere but they don’t seem to be anywhere.  It is not an original composition so maybe that is the problem.  He talks about it on his website–written by a 19 year old!   If I can find more words I will re-post this. But here is the first stanza to give you a taste.  You can order the CD on his website–I am sure he gets more money that way but of course you can also go onto itunes if you got to have it now!

Sweet Jesus, my lover

my passion, my desire

Your love consumes me oh God

When I feel your touch

I can’t help to feel in love with you

all over again.

“When you go it alone, you damage yourself and those around you.”

September 10, 2007 2 comments

Each morning at our office, we have a brief time together for some reading and prayer.  The topic today was on pain and our response to it.  As Christians we should be most prepared to deal with and face pain when it comes since our faith is based upon a God willing to suffer pain on our behalf so that we might have a relationship with Him.  I have heard amazing stories about Christians bringing glory to God as they have faced intense physical or emotional pain.  The problem comes when we do not face the pain in our lives. As Terrence Real says in his book, I don’t want to talk about it, one reason so many men face depression is that they do not face or deal well with the pain in their lives–often leading to addictive behavior to cover up the pain.

As the Pastor Steve said on Sunday, we are not created to carry our burdens (or pain) alone.  He said, “When you go it alone, you damage yourself and those around you.  Where are you carrying a burden alone?”  Great message from Exodus 18, a very familiar passage. What happens when others share the burden?  In the New Living translation of verse 23, “and the people will flourish” which was the title of the message. He concluded the sermon by playing a song by U2 that Bono sung at his father’s funeral, Sometimes you can’t make it on your own    which is a very moving song.  For too long, I think I thought I could make it on my own.  May each of us remember that we do not have to carry our burdens alone and be available to others who need someone to share their burden.

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Taize Service

September 9, 2007 2 comments

I have experienced few church services as powerful as the Taize service that I participated in tonight. It was a simple service in which we were listening to God and speaking to God. One of the brothers from the Taize community in France was in town and put the service together with some of the local church people. I was invited to be one of the readers (reading Psalm 63).

A small choir led us in a number of short Scripture passages, composed with a simple melody and we did each one with enough repetition so that the Scriptures we were singing had time to sink deep within one’s soul. But, it was not a performance, the choir’s purpose was to guide us along in the melody at the beginning of each song. Everyone sat facing the front, including the choir and readers. The front of the church was full of candles and we had little overhead lighting.

Here is the basic order of the service. After two opening songs, we read a couple of Scripture passages. Interspersed in between verses of the Psalm I read, we sang a simple Alleleuia chorus. Following the Scripture passages, we had a significant time of silence and then sang one more song.

We then entered into a time of intercession beginning and punctuated throughout with the choral response of “O Lord hear my prayer, O Lord hear my prayer: When I call answer me. “O Lord hear my prayer, O Lord hear my prayer: Come and listen to me.” There were 8 prayer times with a different person assigned to pray for a designated topic. But, what was really cool; each one prayed in a different language!

Following the Lord’s Prayer, we concluded with a final song:

“The Lord is my light, my light and salvation, In God I trust, in God I trust.” When you sing that a dozen times or more, it begins to take on new significance.

What a great way to conclude a week and/or begin a new one! By the way, you can download the Taize songs on I-Tunes.

Why worry when you can trust?

September 1, 2007 2 comments

What a morning! Or is it evening? I admit I am a bit confused with the time change!

I didn’t realize how much I have missed my music so I set up in our new office this morning and put on my ipod!

  • A few Taize songs to prepare my time with God
  • “Walk Like a Man” and “We Carry On” by Tim McGraw reminded me of the need to endure
  • “God is in Control” and “How Beautiful” by Twila Paris were wonderful songs that helped me remember the character of God.

My reading was in Mtt 6:25-34 in which we are commanded, “Don’t Worry” A few reflections from these verses.

Why not worry?

  • Your heavenly Father will take care of You!
  • You are valuable to God!
  • He knows what you need!!

The Big question:

  • Will I trust God to take care of me?

The Problem with Worry

  • Worry does not make anything better.
  • Worry anticipates future problems.
  • Worry prevents us from living in the present.
  • At the heart of worry is fear!

The Solution to Worry

  • Trust God.
  • Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness.
  • In other words: make sure that God and His priorities are really first in my life.

About what am I worried?

  • a house–where will we live?
  • a car/motor–how will we get around ?
  • our stuff–will we get back together all our stuff?
  • friends–who will be support and encourage us?
  • exercise–how and where will we find exercise that works for us?
  • money–will we have enough to live in Manila?
  • culture–will we re-adjust to life here? How will we cope with the traffic, noise, pollution etc.?
  • church–where should we attend?
  • ministry–relationships? stress? necessary giftedness? satisfying and/or rewarding? strategic?

Final Questions:

  • Does God care?
  • Is God able to meet our needs?
  • Will He?

Final Songs to help me remember His priorities, His goodness and His faithfulness

  • I belong to Jesus–Alvin Slaughter and Dennis Jernigan
  • Who can satisfy my soul?—Jernigan
  • You are my all in all–Jernigan
  • Thank you–Jernigan
  • I bless you–Jernigan
  • Marvelous Light–Caedmon’s Call and Charlie Hall
  • Like a Child–Jars of Clay

Here are the great words in Jernigan’s, “Who can satisfy my soul?”

  • Who can satisfy my soul, like you?
  • Who on earth could comfort me and love me like you do?
  • Who could ever be more faithful and true?
  • I will trust in you! I will trust in you, my God!
  • Living Water, Rain down your life on me
  • Cleansing me, refreshing me
  • With life abundantly
  • River, full of life, I will go where you lead
  • I will trust in you, I will trust in you, my God!
  • There is a fountain, who is the king
  • Victorious warrior and Lord of everything
  • My rock, my shelter, my very home
  • Blessed Redeemer, who reigns upon the throne!
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