music

Music and Movement

Music and Movement

Music is a very powerful tool. Have you ever left a concert and commented to your friend, or tweeted out, “that was awesome!” What caused that reaction? Was there a subversive message in the music telling you to praise them? No.

You praise what you enjoy. And music helps fuel that action.

No one knows this reality more than God. He created music. Music has always been a part of God’s story. Think about how He used Joshua and the ‘orchestra’ to bring down the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6), or how when David played his harp it calmed and serenaded the evil spirit annoying King Solomon (1 Samuel 16:23).

Two thieves...two very different ways to die.

davidIn Luke 23 we have the account of the thief on the cross. There are actually two thieves being crucified along-side Jesus. One thief asks Jesus, “Are you not the Christ?” It looks like maybe he does believe that Jesus is the Christ, but in the next sentence that comes out of his mouth you hear his true motivation, “Save yourself and us!” He is ultimately asking Jesus to save him from death. Basically asking the Son of God for a gift while ignoring the gift-giver. The other thief on the other hand knows what’s at stake. He says to the other thief, “Do you not fear God?” He knows that after death he will face God. He also knows that there is a distinct difference between himself and Jesus. He knows they are being justly punished for their crimes, but that Jesus has done nothing wrong. So, he sees past his own need of physical release from death into an eternal need of salvation and then turns to Jesus and says, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus responds and says, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” I imagine those words were pretty incredible to that thief. He is going to die. It is a horrible way to die. But right after, in the same day, he’s going to be in paradise with Jesus. That’s amazing. I imagine those two thieves experienced the agony of death very differently as they eventually took their last breaths. Thinking through that story gets me very excited about the power of the Gospel. That thief knew his life justly deserved that punishment. And that’s the truth for all of us. We were, even if we grew up in church, dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2) and just as vile as that thief. Hallelujah that God opened our eyes to the reality of who Jesus is. And now, just like the thief, our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sin is the most amazing truth and reality in all of life. May we sing the chorus of this song forever!! [youtube width="560" height="315" video_id="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctQw4bIDu3Q"]

May we never get over it...

Literally two years ago I wrote this version of 'Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.' I really wanted to draw the listeners heart and mind to 2 Corinthians 4:4-6,

"..the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ...For God..has shone in our hearts to give the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

The glory of the gospel is Jesus Christ. If we don't see Jesus, we see nothing. If we claim to know God, but reject Jesus (for who he is) we do not know God. When we look at Jesus, in the Scriptures, and he is glorious and we are drawn to him, we are seeing the very nature of our heavenly father; namely the one true God. Once we did not see this. Once we were far off (Eph. 2:13). Once we were dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). Let's give God the glory for opening our eyes to the glories of his son. May we never get over it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuwsHp1ZZ9c

Sometimes missions looks like this...

DSC01452

There are times in my Christian life where I feel as if I live a “desk job” Christian life, while the real Christians are “on the field” battling the enemy. The truth is, I do have a desk job (in a cubicle actually), but the war that we Christians are in is a spiritual one that can be fought from anywhere. It’s not where we are fighting that’s important, but only that we are fighting. We are called to be light wherever we are, whether that is in a cubicle or on the mission field in a foreign land. That being said, I still have a special reverence for missionaries, people that give their lives in a specific role, in a specific time and place to build the Kingdom of God in a foreign land. There are special roles, callings and gifts that God has given to specific people, to accomplish specific goals. I think those of us who are in our cubicles should be the sending and giving power behind missionaries that change the world like that.

Before a couple of years ago, I didn’t know any missionaries personally. Growing up, our church would give money to Lottie Moon, but I didn’t really know who Lottie was or what Lottie did. We also went on “mission trips” but often times it felt like vacation to get away from our parents for a week (no offense mom ‘I love you!’). All this really changed when we went on that first mission trip with The Village to Guatemala when we met Selena.

On that trip we also met two very inspirational ladies serving the people in Guatemala. They housed our team, gave us a place to stay, food to eat, and showed us around the beautiful country of Guatemala. They showed us what ministries they were involved in, and our team helped out as much as we could that week. The two missionaries that impacted our lives and would later play a critical role in saving Selena’s life are Linda DeVault and Kailah Jones.

LindaLinda DeVault is a missionary with ‘Commission to Every Nation.’ At the time we met her, 5 years ago, she was invested in caring for the orphans at, “Fundacion Salvacion,” heavily involved in a crisis pregnancy and battered women’s shelter, visited and loved on people staying at a local special needs home, and led worship in her home church. This list is just a little of what Linda did day in and day out. She is an amazing woman, serving the local people of Guatemala. The week we met she really had an impact on us. She seemed to have such a quiet confidence in the Lord. She had so much love for the people of Guatemala and it was evident in everything she did. Linda led the way that week and took our team to the mountains and let us serve alongside her. It was a special week for us. When we started hanging out with Selena a lot that week, I think she knew there was a deeper connection being formed. She was so encouraging to us, and when we left crying that week because we had to leave Selena, she hugged us and told us it would be okay. She would keep a watch on Selena and try to help in whatever way she could. After our story developed a little more, Linda sat with me in the orphanage director’s office as I tried to communicate our heart for Selena. Linda (the white woman from San Antonio who speaks Spanish fluently) translated what I was saying, and when we were brainstorming families to take Selena in, she was the one to suggest the Echeverrias. She called and talked to them and within 10 minutes they were at the orphanage ready to take Selena. It was amazing!! We believe in Linda and her work and have supported her since. Her current ministry involvement includes leading woman's and children's Bible studies, teaching Bible classes in the local public school, and helping raise support for the local woman's shelter for battered women, not to mention all the extra needs that show up at her doorstep regularly. If you do not have someone like this that you are investing in, and supporting, would you consider coming alongside us on a continual basis to do so?  Here is a link to that organization where you can do that: Commission to Every Nation

DSC01452The second missionary I’m referring to is Kailah Jones. Kailah was serving alongside Linda and traveled with our team that week. Kailah was amazing. She’s an amazing cook, really down to earth and also really loves serving the Guatemalan people. Kailah has some very interesting Guatemala stories to tell, and if you ever message her on Facebook, ask her about driving around after dark on her mope-head. (Let’s just say it’s not safe to drive around late at night...) Kailah also played a critical role in saving Selena’s life. On our website we explained how Selena got very ill early on and spent about three weeks in the Huehuetenango ICU. We received that phone call, about that, from Kailah. She was the one that would stay by Selena’s side, praying for her and keeping us updated on her progress during that scary time. She also took in Selena for about two months once Selena was released from the hospital. Selena kept getting sick in the orphanage and the director agreed to let Kailah and Linda watch and take care of Selena for a few months. It was an amazing time for Selena, and she really flourished in Kailah’s care. She was eating more than ever, smiling more than ever, and just receiving the love from that one on one attention. Kailah really sacrificed a lot during that time. She put her ministries on hold and set her schedule aside to take care and nurse Selena back to full health. Her and Linda’s care for Selena probably saved her life (and that’s not an overstatement). Kailah is very special to us and we will always be grateful to the Lord for her love for us and for Selena.

Sometimes God interrupts your daily ministry with unexpected tasks. Taking care of Selena was not part of the "agenda" for these two. But they accepted the challenge as just another part of their ministry work in Guatemala for that time, another way of living out the Gospel. The Bible says, “Blessed are the feet of those that bring good news.” I think that sharing the good news could be on the side of a mountain in Guatemala, but I also believe that it could be in the next cubicle over. I want to be more like Linda and Kailah. Thank you Lord, for these two amazing women.

 

Behind The Hymn: In The Garden feat. Michelle Garner

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/119894588" params="color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /] Imagery in music is a beautiful thing. It’s one of the reasons IN THE GARDEN stood out to me during the writing process of this album. I love the imagery of getting alone with the Lord ‘in the garden’ and spending time with him in the mornings, ‘while the dew is still on the roses.’ I also am very familiar with this hymn because it was my wife’s grandmother’s favorite hymn, and she tells me stories of the two of them singing it together when she was a child. She was an amazing woman of God who understood and daily experienced the message of this song (we even named our daughter after her!).

I started working through this hymn and felt like I wanted to add an additional chorus. The verse that came immediately to mind was Psalm 16:11,

“In your presences there is fullness of joy. And at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

What a perfect way to sum up the message of this hymn. So I added that to the chorus and it really felt like a good fit.

I grew up in a Christian home and we went to church a ton. Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday night, and really, any other night could’ve been a possibility too! I don’t mention this as a bad thing, I think it shaped a lot of who I am, but only probably within the last several years have I really begun to understand what it means to enjoy God’s presence. I guess that’s with any relationship, but it really has changed the dynamic of my Christian life. A lot of this shift for me happened reading through John Piper’s book, Desiring God: A guide to Christian Hedonism. Usually Hedonism is not used in this Christian context (and Piper doesn’t care about the label as much as the principle), but it fits because our ultimate joy is joy in God. And when we are enjoying God, and are satisfied in Christ, then we glorify God in its highest form. This doesn’t mean that every day we are skipping around, with plastic smiles on our faces, holding Jesus’ hand. But at the root, or core of our being, we are satisfied in who God is for us in Jesus. This kind of joy and satisfaction will supersede the circumstances. That means that even in difficulty and pain, our joy is rock solid. That’s different than happiness for sure! I want to continue to grow more in this area. And I believe that one day we will experience the fullness of what Psalm 16:11. When we are literally in heaven, by God’s side, there will be fullness of joy, never decreasing, never anything else more satisfying…that is amazing.

MIchelleMichelle Garner is featured on this hymn. She is a dear friend of ours and has a beautiful voice. Her and her husband Jeff, live near San Antonio and Michelle helps lead worship at her church Nineteen:Ten Church. I met Michelle a long time ago when I played bass for a band called ENVOY. It was a good time and I really enjoyed the relationships that were developed. I remember this because it was when I was still in college. I would travel with the band during the summers and play bass and I remember particularly coming to Michelle, even then, and asking her if she wanted to ever work on writing songs together. I love music but God didn’t given me a beautiful voice, so my M.O. is to ask other talented people to do that, and I’ll stick to the writing. So we did that and had some great tunes, well probably not great now thinking about it, but it was fun. Michelle and Jeff have always welcomed Angela and me into their lives, and I loved reconnecting with Michelle for this record. She even flew to Dallas, on her own tab, to make the recording date. The hymn turned out amazing and I love the Ukulele vibe with her voice (Thank you, to my cousin Lindsey for letting Aaron and me borrow your Ukulele). So here’s to spending time with God and enjoying his presence. Let’s be the most satisfied people in all of life. The best kind of hedonist.

If you have not downloaded the HYMNS FOR SELENA record for free on NOISETRADE, do that here. 100% of the proceeds go straight to supporting Selena’s needs. Thank you.

Behind the Hymn: God Moves In A Mysterious Way feat. Micah Blalock

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/119894512" params="color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /] God Moves in a Mysterious Way was written by William Cowper in 1774. The story behind the song is that William was struggling with depression and one night had decided to go out to the river to kill himself. He called a cab, but on the way to the river there was a crazy amount of fog. So the cab driver couldn't find his way to the river. Frustrated, William told the man to pull over, and when he got out he was surprisingly at the front of his own house. He later pinned these words talking about God's sovereignty,

 "His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour, The bud may have a bitter taste but sweet will be the flower,"

I was introduced to this hymn when John Piper referenced it in a sermon I was listening to. It intrigued me so I searched it out. Writing this arrangement was very smooth and came together quite nicely. I love songs like that, but it felt like it was missing something. So I thought for a long time about what the true message of the hymn was. If I could boil it down into one idea, what would that be? That's when Romans eight started to turn in my mind and heart. In my opinion, I thought this hymn was teaching us that God's ways are not ours. And he does things that we don't understand, and we don't have the ability to comprehend. Sometimes we don't even get the blessing of looking back and realizing why he did what he did. But we know that, despite that, God is always for us and never against us. Going through difficult seasons of life can make it feel like God is against you. It's really tough when it feels like your prayers don't go past the ceiling. So how do we know that God is for us? We know that because of the cross. We can forever look to God, in child-like trust and faith, because we know that if he sent his son, Jesus, to die on the cross in our place, he is always and forever for us. If he has accomplished the more difficult thing (dying on the cross) then he will most assuredly be able to all other things. As Roman's eight would say, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." This doesn't mean that bad things, sometimes really bad things, do not happen to us. Just keep reading in Romans eight. Believers are getting killed by the sword! But we know

"..if God is for us (which is proven for us on the cross) who can be against us?"

MicahMicah Blaylock is the contemporary worship pastor at White's Chapel Methodist Church in Southlake, Texas. Our friendship goes all the way back to our days at Dallas Baptist University. I've played bass with him for years and he even helped me out last year with a music project I created for my school district. He has, maybe only second to David and Jillian, asked more about and prayed for Selena, than anyone I know. He just cares. It has meant so much to me over these years, to tell him stories of our Guatemala adventures and our struggles too. He has always been quick to listen and pray for me and Selena. When I called him about this project he said I didn't even need to explain; he was in.

I hope this song encourages us. The first time I heard a solid mix of the ending I was on my daily bus commute back to Spring from Houston, and I wanted to stand up on the bus and yell, "YES!" That would have been super awkward but that's what was rising up in me. I hope that anyone who has lived life a little, and knows that it's not easy, and we go through very difficult things, feels that same thing rising up in them on the outtro of this song. To that end, God Moves in a Mysterious Way.