religion

Marriage and the Music Download


On Saturday, I wrote a song…

Or rather, a song was downloaded into my head. It was a total Neo inside the Matrix “I know Kung Fu.” moment. Although Saturday was the day I wrote the song down, it’s actually much older than that. Because, you know, the song was already written. It just hadn’t come to me yet. πŸ˜‰

matrix-i-know-kung-fu

Okay, what do I mean by all this crazy talk?

Well, my wife could attest to the fact that several of the songs I’ve recorded over the years have been birthed through divine inspiration. These songs are typically a combination of experience and passion that have coalesced into this emotionally infused audio representation of God’s heart and/or my heart toward Him. This was one of those songs. Even though the lyrics are directed toward Him from me (or from others who can relate), it’s like God wrote it, but I was just the one through which he chose to bring it forth.

This happens on occasion. Far too infrequently I might add. I suppose that could change if I would sit down and listen more often. But I digress. Back to the song on Saturday…

Some songs come to me in pieces. You know, a title here, lyrics there, and maybe a melody somewhere down the line. But there are times when the song He gives me is so complete that it all comes to me at once… the words, the music, the melody, the tempo, the vocal arrangement, everything. When this happens, it’s done so with such ferocity that I can barely get it all down fast enough.

So it was that I performed this downloaded song, titled Fall On My Knees the very next day at church after Sunday worship. A snippet of it is posted here… (no disclaimers)

Fall On My KneesFall On My Knees

While I was singing, there was a point during which I was so overcome with emotion that I was very literally on the verge of tears (I didn’t include that part in the audio snippet ;-)). This sentiment was echoed by people who came up to me after service to thank me for writing and performing the song. They said it was as if the song was written specifically for them. In a sense, I think it was. It was written for everyone who is in the exact same place I was in. I was just happy to be used this way.

It’s a certainly a wonderful thing when your gift blesses God and his people. But I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the critical piece of the puzzle that was key to this all coming together… my wife. For if it weren’t for the fact that she insisted I take some time to myself on Saturday, occupied our small tribe of children for hours, and created an atmosphere that encouraged self-care and creativity, this would never have happened.

So to my wife I say… THANK YOU, with all of my ever-expanding heart. ❀

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Just an observation…


Most of us, if not all, would agree that we can demonstrate the existence of love even though it is intangible in and of itself. Our relationships reflect it. Our behavior is motivated by it. Certain types of love even have financial implications. But it cannot be held in your hands, bought from a store or traded on the stock exchange.

Yet, we know it exists.

Nevertheless, we cannot accurately measure love’s depths or variations by any benchmark or standard of behavior established by mankind. For we have seen both the most beautiful and horrendous things occur in its name. There is no way to anticipate its affect from one person to the next. Nor does everyone define or describe it the same.

Yet, we know it exists.

Some people embrace it. Others fear it. But we never question its functionality or how deeply embedded it has become in our everyday lives. We accept that it is because of the preponderance of evidence that supports it. And when I think about all of these things, I come back to the same simple conclusion…

God is.

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The Gentleman’s Curse?


There’s an old adage (or aphorism? I never get those right) that goes “nice guys finish last”. It’s the belief that being nice is a terrible liability when it comes to things like romance or business. We’re told that girls prefer bad boys over gentleman. Or that in order to have any success in business, you have to be aggressive and shark-like with a “take no prisoners” attitude.

Crazy thing is, for most of my life I believed that statement to be a load of crap. And by “crap” I mean “an often repeated untruth that slowly becomes accepted as truth simply by the sheer volume of people who choose restate and quote it as fact”. But come on, there couldn’t possibly be any drawbacks to being considerate and full of compassion, right?

Wrong.

Like I said (only a short two paragraphs ago), there was a time I believed that to be true. That is, until I better understood the reasoning and truth that underlies this oft-quoted saying. Which is to say that I watched as the truth of it manifest in my own life. I finally understood that there was more substance to this than I originally thought. Having been a participant (victim?) of this truth, I have since dubbed the phenomenon the “Gentleman’s Curse”. Let me explain…

I’m pretty sure I’m what some would call a gentleman. There are at least a handful (read: 2 or 3) who could attest to the fact that I am patient, generous, transparent, chivalrous, and emotionally supportive. These are all traits generally associated with being an overall “nice guy”, if you will. **DISCLAIMER: I don’t describe myself this way simply to toot my own horn, but to provide the basis for what follows next. What follows next is that I’ve come to whole-heartedly believe that sometimes (and only sometimes) being nice was the worst choice I could have made. My “nice guy” nature has contributed to some pretty awful outcomes and circumstances over my lifetime. I know that sounds terrible. But as I’ve also learned over the years, the truth isn’t always pretty.mr nice guy

See, the thing is, it’s not that I can really help being a “nice guy”. It’s in my nature to be this way. My overall personality, typical responses and individual inclinations are hard wired into the fiber of my being. The problem is that some people can often be perceived (and at times, accurately so) as a bit of a softy or even a pushover. People take advantage of the fact that they know you probably won’t behave in ways that would make them feel awkward, uncomfortable or afraid.

Still, I don’t want this post to come across as all “bah humbug” about being nice. I’m not saying people shouldn’t be nice or even that I need to change who I am. I’m saying that I am exactly who God created me to be. I am fashioned by His hands and He is a master craftsman! I am neither a mistake, nor am I a failed or aborted process. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And with that understanding and acceptance, comes freedom to not feel pressured to be anything other than who I am.

I am NOT the one to rail on Time Warner Cable over their gouging practices (6 month undisclosed customer retention pricing that tripled in cost and won’t go down unless I call and complain). However, I AM the one who understands that as I love my enemies, bless them that curse me, do good to them that hate me, and pray for them which despitefully use me, and persecute me, God will bring both vindication and justice. I find rest in that promise.

Potters-ClaySo I will continue in my “nice guy” ways with the power of the knowledge that what I originally thought was a curse, was actually… a blessing. πŸ™‚

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Fair Trade


For the last few weeks, I have been… heavy. REALLY heavy. It hasn’t been a normal kind of heaviness either. This is an unfamiliar variety of encumbrance that I’ve never before experienced. I have been feeling the weight, not of the world, but of a life consisting of my multitudinous responsibilities, ongoing obligations, personal goals, interpersonal connections and work expectations, coupled with my undisguised exhaustion and noticeable (to me at least) vulnerabilities…Β  all on my recently more developed shoulders. :-/

As I was openly lamenting my burdens, my amazing wife (no seriously, she’s amazing) reminded me of the following scripture from Matthew 11…

“28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

And as we were praying together last night, I was overcome with gratitude for the invitation to shed this weight. To let it fall away. Not looking back at it. Not caring about its size, color or shape. But just knowing that once I’ve put it down, I can begin to walk away from it, in exchange for the Lord’s lightness and ease. It was in the immediacy of this moment I realized that as unbalanced and disproportionate as this may seem to me, as far as the Lord is concerned, it’s a fair trade. I really had to take it in… Jesus Holds

  • Giving him all the things that feel as if they will crush me under their collective weight = Fair Trade
  • Unloading all of my feelings of guilt, regret, unworthiness and insignificance = Fair Trade
  • Yielding those areas of my life over which (if I’m being honest) I have absolutely no control anyway = Fair Trade
  • Accepting the inequity of my load in exchange for His = Fair Trade
  • Salvation simply because He loves me = Fair Trade

I have been liberated.

 

“Lord I’m undone. I come to You. Show me Your face, Your spirit and truth. That I might worship free from my sin. I just want you.”Something New, Transparent

Categories: personal, religion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Promise of Prayer


This past weekend my beloved wife was delivered some absolutely heartbreaking news. The husband of one of her friends died unexpectedly from a heart attack after coming home from work on Friday. The news was a shock to us both. He was relatively young. I’d guess around 40, if that. And he seemed to be the picture of health. He leaves behind a loving wife he’s known for more than 20 years, and four beautiful children ranging in age from 7 years to 7 months. I can only imagine the devastation they are experiencing.

I will say that it’s been more than a little unsettling to acknowledge all of the similarities between our two families. Not the least being the fact that he was an African American man around my age, with four children whose ages mirror nearly exactly the ages of our own four youngest. Our wives were planning to get our two families together so that he and I would finally get a chance to meet. *sigh*

Naturally, the desire to pray is stirred in many of us. We want to pray that she, her children and his extended family might find comfort and consolation in this difficult time. And so, I did. I stopped what I was doing, and I prayed for them.

Of course, the topic of prayer got me to wondering… how many times have we said to someone, “I will pray for you” only to find that we never set aside the time to actually pray? I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve done it. And I am pretty sure that this is true for a good number of other people as well. Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not saying we were misleading, that we had a lack of good intentions or that perhaps our statement was insincere. But the reality is that circumstances are often cited as the reason for not praying in that moment, when in truth, that moment may be the only one we’ll have.

It’s very sobering to think about the frailty of life and the idea that a mere second can separate life from death. So when it comes to prayer, don’t let your gesture become an empty promise or just some nice thing to say to someone who’s hurting. Instead, let it motivate you to action in the moment, that we might take advantage of every moment we are fortunate enough to be given.

So please join me in praying for Colleen Johnson and her family…

Categories: commentary, personal, religion, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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