I am pleased to announce that the band and I will be on tour for four weeks this summer! We will once again be joining Never The Same (NTS) for three of the four weeks. We recorded our soon to be released live worship project with them last summer. Be on the lookout for the live video's we shot last year as well. Great Stuff! We will also be returning to New Camp in Dayton, TN. Can't wait to see you all!!!
I ran across this quote recently, I believe it's from an old screen play. The character was a king describing how he felt about his missing daughter. I think it's both simple and profound. I am reminded that in all things we would do well to live our present with our future in mind.
"There comes a time when the jewels cease to sparkle, When the gold looses it's luster, When the throne room becomes a prison, And all that is left is a fathers love for his child."
Hey Everyone. It's been a crazy busy fall but it's been really good to connect with so many of you on the road. I wanted to let you all know that I have just met with my producers and will hopefully have a new record ready for release by sometime in late February. I thought I'd give you a little appetizer with a live recording of the title track from the new record, "It's Love". This video was taken during Christian Athletic Camp in Michigan. I'd love to get your feedback. Enjoy!
Hey everyone, I know I’ve been away for a few weeks but there are good reasons for that. I have been off line entirely, not just my blog. I have needed some clarity on some decisions that are still in process and felt it necessary to remove the mental clutter that often takes up a lot of the free space on my mental hard drive. More on that later.
Today I thought I would share a thought I’ve been chewing on lately. I recently heard someone say that they felt that perhaps they were in the midst of a “season of preparation”. In particular they were sharing this in light of the way they felt like their life was on hold, as if they had been put on pause. While the scripture makes clear in various places, Ecclesiastes 3 being the most popular, that there are times and seasons, I think it is important to keep our perspective clear.
There is never a season of preparation or waiting that was not previously prepared for in a past season.
(Pause, read that again. Ready? Ok). Simply said, every today is yesterday’s tomorrow. You have only now in this moment to live. While we diligently prepare for tomorrow we can’t be sure it will ever come and it is arrogant of us to assume that the Lord will gift us with it. James 4:13-17 says this very thing, our life is a vapor and we should not assume we will do this or that, but rather say “if the Lord wills it we will live...” I think that’s why James concludes this thought with verse 17, “To the one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to them it is sin.” James is saying that now is the only moment we’ve got. If we keep waiting in anticipation for a better or future time we will never do the right thing. If we know what’s right and don’t do it right now, that’s sin, because now is the only future we’ve got.
The Apostle Peter addresses this same thing in his second letter. He talks about how the character and qualities of Christ and how they should be increasing gradually in each of us as believers. Then he says this in verse 8, “If these qualities are yours and increasing they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” As we are becoming more and more like Christ, no matter what season we find ourselves in spiritually, whether spring, summer, fall or the coldest of winters, we are always useful and full of purpose.
Where are you? Are you struggling with your sense of purpose, like all of us do from time to time? Do you feel like maybe your life is in a holding pattern? Take heart and know that your Heavenly Father doesn’t waist anything! Even though you may be struggling now, know that the Lord has prepared you for this moment as much as He is using it to prepare you for the next. There is LIFE in this moment, right now. Embrace it, drink deeply of it, even if it stings and know that even in the toughest of times we can still bear fruit, we still have a destiny in Christ. Even as we have been prepared for this moment so this moment has been prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). We have a work to do right here, right now! We have not been forgotten about, we have not been left on the shelf!
Let us resolve again to pursue our Heavenly Father, to wade into the deeper waters of His love. As His character is revealed in us we may find that this is the moment we’ve been waiting for all along.
In 2005 I spent about six weeks in South Africa. I had been brought over with a group of American musicians to help lead and teach worship to university students and to churches in both Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. It was an amazing trip to say the least. We met one of Nelson Mandela’s closest officials and had tea in his home. He then personally escorted us on a tour of the bush and a wild game preserve where we saw giraffe, rhino, elephants and countless wonders you read about in story books from the time your in diapers. It was like nothing I have ever done before or since.
About three days before the end of the trip we were told a surprise had been lined up for us. We loaded in a van before the sun rose and proceeded “over the river and through the woods” until we arrived at a little house on a remote beach on the coast of the Indian Ocean. We were told that we didn’t have to participate but if we wanted to, we were being presented a very rare opportunity.....shark diving. Not just any sharks mind you but Great White’s! It was just like what you’d see on the Discovery Channel. You get in a metal cage over the side of a boat and float, surrounded by bait, until the shark comes along and in an attempt to eat the bait scares you half to death. Well if you know me then you know I couldn’t wait to get in that cage. It was surreal!!! I loved every minute of it and hope to do it again someday with my family.
Once I came back to America people asked about my trip: How was it? What did you do? Did you have a good time? Wow, I was overwhelmed, not by there questions so much but by how to answer them. I mean, what do you say when someone asks you what it’s like to stand 30 feet away from wild giraffe or float in a cage with Great White sharks literally inches from my face? What words do you use to describe that? Nothing I could’ve said could communicate everything I’d felt. But when I met someone who had been to South Africa the conversation was entirely different. There was very little said, it was mostly understood. They would say things like, “Wasn’t it just awe inspiring?” or “Can you hardly wait to go back?” or “I still haven’t gotten over my trip!” They didn’t ask many questions because they knew. They knew there was nothing I could say to communicate the way the trip had affected me and that perhaps anything I did say might feel like I was cheapening the experience.
That’s exactly what it’s like to try and describe my love for my son. What can I say, what words are there to describe that...feeling, if it is a feeling? How is that quantifiable? How do I make sense of the way I can wake up at 2:00am and miss him when he’s just the next room over? How do you understand the sincerity of my joy when I tell you “he peed on me.... again” like it’s an honor badge? Really, how do I describe that? I don’t know that I can describe it with words but I’ll try to show him, everyday for the rest of his life, just how much I love him by the way I live. Of course I’ll try to tell him, after all I’m a songwriter (words are never in short supply), but it will be the way my love for him causes me to act that will make all the difference.
So how do I describe our Heavenly Father’s love for us, knowing that my love for my son Henry is just a small shadow of the love God has for us? What would I use to measure it? What would I compare it to? I could tell you when I look at the mountains I hear the Father say, “Yeah, my love, it’s big like that” or when I look at the ocean He whispers, “My love for you, it’s wider than that”, but even the mountains and ocean fall short. It’s only when we look at our Heavenly Fathers actions that we even begin to realize just how incomprehensible His love for us really is. It’s only when we realize that His love for us caused Him to give up His own Son’s life, crucified on a cross, so that He might redeem our lives to Himself in exchange for the life of Jesus, that we understand that we cannot understand. There is no measure for that kind of love, there is no comparison.
I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the gospel six weeks ago. Since Henry’s birth however, I am convinced I am clueless. I’ll just be honest; I wouldn’t give up my son’s life for any of you. Yes, I’m that “selfish”, if that’s what you call it. If you don’t have kids it’s not a lot different than asking me about my trip to Africa. Trying to describe my sentiment is futile. For those of you who are parents you know exactly what I’m talking about. I don’t have to defend the way I feel to you. You just get it.
“For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son...”, I understand the value of that statement a little more today than I did six weeks ago, but I’m still a long way off.
That's me on the left, June 18, 1977 and Henry is in the exact same outfit on the right, May 7, 2010.They were almost my parent’s first words the first time they laid eyes on my son, “He looks just like you!” Without a minutes pause both grandparents started comparing noses and chins, eyes and hair. “Oh he’s got Daddy’s ‘this’, oh and ‘that’ looks just like his Mommy.” It was almost like watching a skit on Saturday Night Live, absolutely hysterical! I’m sure the whole experience was of course magnified by the fact that I had just met my son for the first time and was thinking many of the same thoughts. The truth is, Henry looked so much like me when he was born it was a little creepy. It was literally like looking at myself. Since Henry’s birth we have been blessed to have 50+ visitors come by the house to celebrate his arrival. It has become one of my most anticipated moments, when during each visit I know they will inevitably say, “He looks just like you!” There is just something about those words. They absolutely light me up inside.
Can you imagine it any other way? What if my son didn’t look like my wife or me at all? What if he came out looking more like and alien with green skin and beady eyes, like something from a low budget sci-fi movie? We would still be completely in love with him but there would be a lot of questions. Like, was Betsy abducted by a group of extra-terrestrials?! Are we his parents at all?
I don’t mean to take a weird turn with this but my point is, except in a few medically specific situations, children generally resemble their parents in some way. Whether it’s in their physical appearance or the sound their laugh, if you hang around children long enough you begin to notice more and more the little ways that they are just like their Mom and Dad.
It’s the same way in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Once we have been “born again” in Christ we are His children. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” As our old self dies it is replaced by the life and character of Christ. Our lives are to be lived in such a way that we become “mini-me’s” of Jesus. In fact, the early church was so successful at emulating the life of Jesus that unbelievers began calling them Christians, which literally means “little Christ”.
So my question is this, are we living our lives in such a way that when people see us they say, “You look just like your Father!”? Do we look just like Jesus? Can people see His love in our eyes? Are our hands serving like His? Does our mouth bring healing when we speak? If we don’t live in a way that reflects and resembles the character of Jesus and yet we claim him as our Father, it is no different then my wife and I giving birth to an alien child; people will wonder if He’s really our Father at all. But, when we do demonstrate the love of Christ, when we do reveal He’s our Father by the way we live it pleases Him more than anything else. He loves us unconditionally, there’s nothing we could ever do to make Him love us more or less, but our Heavenly Father longs to hear those words spoken of us “He looks just like Jesus.”
As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been asked to do a “Story Behind the Song” post for a website called Singers Club. In addition to “He Is Greater”, which I posted about yesterday, the are also featuring “It’s By Faith” from “Response” in the months to come. Here is another sneak peak.
I still remember hearing the news that my friend and youth leader John had been diagnosed with cancer. I had just returned home from a difficult semester in college. I was exhausted, not only physically but also spiritually. My integrity had not held up as well as I had hoped it would and my heart was full of doubt and questions. Oddly, news of John’s cancer stirred a deep sense of peace in me. I had been here before, twice, with my own mother’s cancer. I knew God in this dimension and I knew I could trust Him. In fact, trusting Him with the big stuff was just a part of life in my family growing up... our story has been pretty dramatic at times.
Why was I such a contradiction? Why is it/had it been so easy to trust God in the big things, in the mountaintop’s and the Red Sea’s, and not with the day-to-day and mundane? Why is it I could stand firm in the face of cancer and cower at the thought of writing a paper or sometimes even getting out of bed? All of these thoughts came raining down on me one afternoon at the piano.
“It’s By Faith”... that was my problem. Faith. Difficult circumstances required faith in order to get through them because I knew I could never make it on my own, but the daily grind was so simple I thought I could handle it alone. The Lord was using this opportunity to teach me that the faith I needed to climb the mountain was the same faith I needed to pour my coffee, that faith is not a switch you turn on and off but that “the just LIVE by faith” (Romans 1:17, Gal 3:11, Heb 10:38).
Is there any area of your life where you have been going it alone? Where maybe intentionally or unintentionally you have postured yourself to not need God?
“Through storms and trials of my own devise He’s never given up. And the farther I go the more I no I can’t escape His love. It’s by faith.”