Tag Archives: music

Yesterday … All My Trouble Seemed So Far Away (Our Story Through Music)

Photo from RollingStone.com

We all have experienced it … yes, even you. That emptiness within us that longs for purpose, that void as if not all the pieces are in place, that question of what is this all about (and often the question is left unanswered). We try to fill that void with so many things … possessions, experiences, pharmaceuticals, relationships, et al. And though these desires my give us satisfaction in the moment, it is fleeting, like dust in the wind.

Wow … that was depressing. But don’t leave me yet, I getting to some good stuff.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared how I have a study group looking at classic rock songs and how these songs express the Larger Story that all of us have in our journey. We talked of the emptiness as seen Running on Empty and California Dreaming. Week two, we looked at desires. And we explored songs like More than a Feeling and Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. Unfortunately, these desires leave us unfulfilled and we realize the loss, the sorrow, and even the laments of broken dreams. This crushed aspect is seen in American Pie, Yesterday, and What’s Going On. After all, I am not half the man that I used to be, there’s a shadow hangin over me.

It’s as if Hope is given then sucked right out of our lives.

Wow … Still a bit depressing and overwhelming … especially on Monday.

Here is the twist, the flip, the pivot …. here is the good news. There is hope, there is purpose, there is a place we find freedom and deliverance from our chains and bondage … it is with the very Creator who made us in the first place.

This is also seen in music … music that expresses this freedom in our story … music that lifts the spirit and frees our souls to soar. Born to Run, Proud Mary, and Come Sail Away have lyrics, tones, emotions, and character that encourage us that freedom is possible.

Isaiah 61, later quoted by Jesus as He states these words are referring to Him, states He brings good news, He came to bind up the broken hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and open the prisons to those who are bound.

Now that is something that deserves a WOW. The emptiness, the brokenness, the lost dreams, all find restoration and fulfillment in the One who created us.

So, it’s Monday. Ugh, back to school/work. Ugh, it’s rainy … and rainy days and Monday’s. But have hope, great hope, a blessed hope.

And if you want to see some lyrics that lift your heart rate, a tune that motivates, and a truth that frees you … here is Chain Breaker by Zach Williams. And if you want to see a crowd that gets it, watch this video where Zach songs it at Harding Prison. Click here.

If you’ve been walking the same old road for miles and miles
If you’ve been hearing the same old voice tell the same old lies
If you’re trying to feel the same old holes inside
There’s a better life
There’s a better life

If you’ve got pain
He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost
He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving
He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you’ve got chains
He’s a chain breaker

We’ve all search for the light of day in the dead of night
We’ve all found ourselves worn out from the same old fight
We’ve all run to things we know just ain’t right
And there’s a better life
There’s a better life


If you believe it
If you receive it
If you can feel it
Somebody testify, testify (repeat)


Songwriters: Jonathan Lindley Smith,Mia Fieldes,Zach Williams

The Song that is Stuck in My Head

My brain is a perplexity of conundrums. As I talk to myself and listen to the voices in there, I find some highly unusual conversations. But this week, it’s been about a song.

There are songs that just stick in there. (Like the military cadence to Baby Shark … ugh). They ramble around and I hear them over and over. This week it is the song No Longer Slaves. Maybe I should blame Mary B., for she sang it with such pathos and power Sunday, I can’t get it out of my mind. Maybe it’s the video I watched where Zach Williams sings it this song and Chain Breaker at Harding Prison, just touched me in a way I felt God’s hands on me and his voice speaking with such intimacy and reassurance of His deliverance.

The imagery of God delivering the Israelites out of Egypt is vivid. He split the seas that we can walk right through it. He has our back, He fights for us, He delivers us, and He empowers us to never fall back into that which enslaved us … fear, sin, bondage, defeat.

Romans 6.6-8 and 8.15-16 truly hit home. We are no longer slaves to sin. We have been set free from the power of sin and we are overcomers. But even greater, I am a child of God. He has chosen me, called me by name … He knows my name. He knows my name. The King of King, the Lord of Lords, He knows my name. Get that … with everything that occupies His mind, with all of creation and infinite details … I AM A CHILD OF GOD and HE KNOWS MY NAME!! Yes, all caps, for I want to shout that.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (8.15-15)

I get so wound up in fears at times … fears of not meeting people’s expectations, fears of insignificance, fears of failures. And so many more. But He unravels me. He sticks with me as I calm down and remember what He has already done. These things of the world, these fears, these struggles … all unravel, fall apart in the perfect Love of God.

So … today, to those that are His, remember these truth. No matter what you face, no matter the struggles, fears, failures, pressures, problems, losses, hurts, pains, battles …

  • We are no longer slaves to sin and fears
  • We are free
  • We are a child of God
  • He knows our name
  • He loves us with perfect love

If these don’t get you smiling, I don’t know what will. So have a great weekend. I have to go back to humming the song bouncing around in my grey matter … you split the sea so I could walk right through it, my fears were drowned in perfect love, you rescued me and I stand sing, I am a child of God.

Pink Floyd … Time (Our Story as Experienced Through Music)

It’s a bit different. You don’t normally have your pastor tell you to listen to Pink Floyd in preparing for Bible studies. But that’s how I roll.

Every one of us has a story, a life journey that is filled with questions, drama, soul searching, relationships, and a search for something bigger, something beyond ourselves. We tell this story in various ways, but one way is music. And music seems to have a way to connect people … unless you’re talking worship music styles, then that is a whole now avenue we call worship wars. Ughh. Let’s do that another day, or not.

But music is expressive; it draws our souls and emotions. It brings out memories, feelings, joys, sorrows, and so much more. We may have different styles of music to express these emotions, but it hits pretty deep when it hits.

Week one of the study is the beginning of our story. We all have within us a void, an emptiness that we try to fill with multiple things or such. But it is there and we find we can’t really fix that void ourselves, no matter how much we try or how many ways we try.

One of the four songs I recommended to listen to was Time, by Pink Floyd. The song comes from his Dark Side of the Moon album that explored the darker side of ourselves and life.

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day 
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way. 
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town 
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

It begins with a introduction of clock sounds. Bells, ringing, tick-tocks, clanging, etc., challenges us to ponder the passing of time. The instrumental aspect, as it builds from only instrumental, to adding more parts, then a guitar, and more as it reaches the conclusion … this show the progression of life, slowly starting, thinking we have forever, but time catches up and we never have enough of it.

Mankind does have a void. We are told eternity is written upon our hearts, and man can’t find the fulfillment without Him (Ecco 3.11). And we try to fill that void with so many things … which in the end, are all meaningless. But there is hope, there is purpose, and there is that which brings meaning to life and eternity … but it’s only found in God.

The song Time never gets there. It shows us the void without the hope. But there is hope. And what a great thing it would be if you know that hope. Don’t wait too long. Time does run out.

I also encouraged them to listen to How Soon is Now (which most found really dark), California Dreamin’, and Running on Empty. All show the void in our life.

Next week, Desire. So listen to Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Stairway to Heaven, and More Than a Feeling.

Pleas note: this is not an endorsement of all these artists’ music, but an exploration of how these songs hit home when sharing the emotions and questions we all have when we explore our story.

Importance of Music and the Lyrics that Go with it

All day long I’ve been listening and making music selections. I’ve been repeatedly going over the choir’s choices for the next two weeks and laying out the worship that highlights not only the flow but the message.

I don’t want to write too much (everybody is reading about UVAs victory anyway) so I leave you with this …

Maybe not sad – but contemplative. Listen to some of the great worship and Easter songs – and just take the music and the lyrics in – His is risen, Come alive.

I Committed Musical Heresy

This past Sunday, Christmas Sunday of all days, I made an informational blunder during my children’s message. I had a gimmick that I thought would get a great point across. I had a 100 meter rope lined up and down the aisles. Then I had the kids scatter down the aisles and grab the rope. No matter where the kids were, they were connected by the rope. If they let go of the rope, they were no longer connected. The rope was representative of love. (Safety note … I had men at each corner of the aisles so the rope wouldn’t chop off people heads as the kids rounded corners)

Colossians 3 tells us to wear love, put on love … which binds everything together in perfect harmony. They got the point … and the candy afterwards … which they had to share one piece of candy with another person. Now this really confused them till the older kids figured out they could swap candy with a friend, thus still having two pieces. Smart kids.

Now, here is the moment of heresy. I held up an LP still in the original cover. Then I asked them if they knew what it was. They said something granddad has … but most were clueless. I said it was a previous century’s way to listen to music, like what we do from iTunes now. They looked confused. Now I also shared this album – one of Lisa’s from her childhood – was by the Carpenters, one of our early life favs. And on this album was a great song … which I played as they distributed their candy. The song … Love Will Keep Us Together. Such slips have been identified to me as categorized as musical heresy … tongue in cheek I hope.

I got jumbled, scrambled brains and a did a musical mishap by confusing the Carpenters’ album with Captain & Tennille. How could I? I know I put foot in mouth often, especially when Lisa is not around to prevent me from doing such acts of stupidity. But how did I even go there.

I was corrected shortly after the service. And then I realized I had grabbed the album in haste, after burning a CD from iTunes for the wonderful sound techs. I apologized in the following service and immediately ordered the correct LP off eBay. It has already arrived.

All this took place in a blink of the eye. A slip. A quick action that should’ve been fact checked … after all, I have a youth pastor to do my fact checking, don’t I? JK

What I think is more interesting is many people will catch a cultural slip such as this moment of musical heresy or a confusion of Will Ferrel with Pharrell Williams … but they miss real slips, like compromising of scripture, taking scripture out of context, or taking pastoral pondering as solid truth.

I am not calling for weekly fact checking conferences after every sermon. But I do wish God’s people would grow in knowledge and wisdom, be grounded in the Word to such extent that any compromise would cause them to return to the Word for assurance and correction (look at 2 Tim 3.16 for this). (I am talking to God’s people in general, not about the Evergreen family directly).

So, yes … I committed musical heresy … but may I ever be vigilant to never preach anything but truth. And you … may you be so grounded in the Word you can discern the difference.

Excited for 2019.

Post note: just for fun, I threw in a picture of and quote by Bob Marley just to reemphasize that love does make a difference in our lives

Shout It to the Heavens


Does the Next Generation See You Praising God?

Washington DC. RFK Stadium. 50,000 men. Preaching by greats like EV Hill and more. Gathered for one reason. To worship God. When the singing began, the stadium rocked and vibrated. Now I am sure it did that for the football teams that played there back then. I mean, I root for the Redskins quite often, but this was different. We were not there to praise 11 people on a field of metaphorical battle. We were not rallied behind a team or a sport that will one day pass away.  We were there to roar for the worthy God who loves us and saves us for eternity. We lifted praise for a weekend – and that was a little sliver of the praise that will go on for eternity.

Praise – we were all there to praise God.

One Word = Seven Words. No this is not new math, though some might think so. It seems that in Psalms, there are seven words in the Hebrew that are translated as ‘praise’ in the English. Just like ‘love’ has agape, eros, philio in the Greek, this little seven to one ratio/connection is often missed by English readers.

This season, when we give thanks to our God – may we also offer praise.
A Holy Roar in reckless abandon reaching the throne in Heaven.

These words give a fullness to the word praise. But more than that, they challenge us as to how we praise a God who is worthy to be praised. Arms extended, knees bended, hearts in brokenness, a raving excitement about the God who loves us, full liberation with no inhibitions to our praise for Him, a desperation of ourselves who need Him, with shouting and musical instruments, a roar that is heard beyond the walls. This is just scratching the surface.

This season, when we give thanks to our God – may we also offer praise. A Holy Roar in reckless abandon reaching the throne in Heaven. Now I could go into the seven words – but I leave that to the book. But I will attach a pdf that was done by the Jubilee Celebration Centre in Elgin, Il. They did a great job of summarizing the material from Chris Tomlin & Darren Whitehead’s work, Holy Roar.


Bottom Line – May we praise the God who is worthy!! Join me in a Holy Roar.

Post Script – some of the words from the song, Holy Roar.

A holy roar
Reaching for Heaven
Our praise poured out
With reckless abandon
Our worship God
Is wholly Yours

Forever worthy
Forever worthy
Forever worthy is the
Lamb who was slain

All the earth a holy roar
We’re lifting up a holy roar
All the earth a holy roar
We’re lifting up a holy roar