As I write this, I’m experiencing simultaneous – perhaps conflicting – emotions. Allow me to explain.
We just finished up our Fall Tour – which was a blast! We had a great time and it was so much fun to play my songs, tell my stories and talk about the good and faithful God that I love.
And it’s always a bonus that I get to hang out with my buddy Chris (21 years of playing music together!) – and this time, with my new friend Jordan (who, it turns out, was one year old when Chris and I started playing music together. Man, I’m getting old…).
Plus there was lots of good food and pretty much non-stop laughter. It was everything I love about going on the road.
However, near the end of the trip we experienced an unexpected and frustrating complication.
In Spokane, Washington, our van was broken into and nearly everything was stolen. Various guitars, most of my merchandise, equipment and gear – even my pillow. (Seriously guys? My pillow?).
I don’t want to make too big a deal of this; it’s just stuff.
And I’m reminding myself to be grateful; in all these years, I’ve never had to face this particular challenge.
We’ve filed a police report, submitted a list of everything we can think of that was stolen, contacted insurance (fingers crossed), repaired the damage to the van – basically, we’ve done all the things you can do in this situation. Now we wait and hope for the best.
Following the theft, we still had three shows to go. All three churches graciously provided instruments for us, and we adapted, using whatever was available. The people were wonderful, the ministry continued, and God’s faithfulness was reaffirmed.
In fact, during the very next show, it dawned on me how much these songs and stories underscored that theme. God is faithful. I can trust Him.
It’s all true. And while I would prefer to live in a world wherein vans don’t get broken into, instead I am reminded that Jesus is with me and will be with me through everything.
I guess that partly explains why I’m a songwriter; there’s something both mysterious and incredibly satisfying about taking a handful of nouns and verbs and shaping them into something new and beautiful. I like cleverness, wordplay, rhyme, alliteration – the whole deal. Language is fun.
And part of the fun of language – at least, the English language – is that it can be surprisingly silly. I’m a big fan of goofy slang (“jinkies” is a favorite expression of which I have yet to tire).
Even better? Mash-up words. These are officially called “portmanteau words” – i.e. stuffing two words into one “suitcase” (or portmanteau). Common examples include smog (“smoke” blended with “fog”), brunch (“breakfast” and “lunch”) and one that you might expect has its origins in current entertainment culture but actually debuted in the 1930’s: celebutante (“celebrity” plus “debutante”).
My current favorite portmanteau word?
Anticipointment:the state of mind resulting from excitedly anticipating something and then being disappointed when it fails to meet expectations.
When you get your hopes up about something – say, a movie or concert or sporting event, Christmas or a birthday or anniversary, or a new relationship that shows promise – and then, as often happens, expectations are not met, hopes are dashed, promises are broken…
Jesus is the only One Who will never disappoint – Who always keeps His promises.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 NIV
I think we have a very weak understanding of the word “hope.” It’s not wishful thinking, it’s not Pollyanna optimism. It’s not rooted in emotion or circumstance. Hope is a disciplined and determined focus on the faithfulness of God. To “hold unswervingly” to hope is to choose trust over fear.
In light of this, I need to learn to trust Him more fully. To believe that His love for me is as deep as He says it is.
Hey there, fellow Idahoans! If you’re in the Boise area I hope you’ll come to this Sunday’s Night of Worship at Eagle Christian Church, where I serve as the worship pastor.
It’s not going to be a concert or a typical worship service. It’s essentially 90 minutes of uninterrupted praise. If you’ve never experienced something like this, I think you’ll be surprised at how moving it will be.
Childcare is provided for kids up to 3 years old, and there will be a fellowship time (with food!) afterwards. I would love to see you there.
Ever been hungry? I mean, really hungry? Stomach-rumbling hungry?
You know what doesn’t help at at all when you’re hungry?
Talking about food.
The idea of food does nothing to satisfy your hunger. Thinking about food and talking about it really just makes it worse.
So what does help? Pretty obvious, right? The way to stop your hunger is to just eat something.
In John’s gospel, chapter 6, Jesus’ ministry is starting to gain traction and His teachings – and especially His miracles – are getting attention. Suddenly He’s got lots of new fans.
At the beginning of the chapter, He had miraculously fed the 5,000 and now people are following Him everywhere. Asking Him for more signs and wonders. “More bread, please!”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:32 ESV
I fully accept the idea that we are all hard wired with a deep need for relationship with God; that we all experience a kind of hunger that can only be satisfied by the Bread of Life.
So with this deep instinct at work in us, we look for fulfillment in all of the obvious places: material possessions, entertainment, relationships, physical pleasure, spiritual enlightenment, etc. Many of us spend our entire lives working our way through an exhaustive but largely unconscious list in the search for what’s missing.
When Jesus says that he’s the Bread of Life, He’s telling us that all of the hunger that we experience as human beings – all of our need and desire and longing – find ultimate fulfillment only in Him.
Jesus was never interested in making fans. Followers, yes. But not people who stand at a distance and applaud.
I’ve come to realize that many of us have been talking about the Bread of Life for years but have failed to really partake.
Remember: the ideaof fooddoes nothing tosatisfyyour hunger. Talking about Jesus, singing about Him, writing blogs about the life of a Christ-follower – these things are all well and good. But they are no substitute for partaking of a relationship with Him.
I wrote the song “Hollow” about my desire to know God in a real and intimate way:
It’s likely you’ve never heard of Button Gwinnett. And while you may not recognize his name, he has a special place in history as the the second man to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Gwinnett may not be as well known as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and some of the other signers, but putting his name on an official notice of separation from Britain was a brave and dangerous act. It amounted to a declaration of war.
Here’s where Gwinnett’s story gets interesting: collectors search the world trying to obtain a full set of signatures from the 56 signers of the Declaration. Letters with the signature of Ben Franklin can be found for $6000, and other documents signed by Jefferson and Adams have sold for similar amounts.
In contrast, a letter with Gwinnett’s signature sold recently for nearly $800,000 dollars. Yeah. Not a typo. And the only signature that sells for more? William Shakespeare’s.
Why in the world would this man’s signature be worth so much?
First, Button Gwinnett was never as prominent a figure as the other signers, and so his signature is much more rare. Second (and without minimizing his one very significant contribution to history), Gwinnett didn’t really do much of anything else that was notable.
Except . . . he ran up a lot of debt. So the documents that have been found are mostly I.O.U.’s.
Whenever I hear about objects like this that are assigned great value – i.e., a comic book, baseball card, rare signatures (Babe Ruth, Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe), etc., I always feel like the value seems a bit arbitrary.
But in the collecting world, value is determined by how much someone is willing to pay.
You may not feel like you occupy a significant place in history. Your life may never be the subject of biographies or TV news stories. Fame and notoriety may not be in the cards.
But don’t ever forget how much value God places on you.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:6-8 ESV
Today is that dark and beautiful day that Christians call Good Friday. Both a celebration and a time of sorrow, it is “good” because of the love of Christ Jesus, who died on behalf of mankind.
C.S. Lewis writes: God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing – or should we say ‘seeing’? there are no tenses in God – the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is ‘host’ who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and ‘take advantage of’ Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves. (The Four Loves)
The lyrics of the old hymn “Hallelujah, What A Savior” capture this same dichotomy – the sorrow and joy of the Cross. A God Who chooses – for His own mysterious reasons – to love us. This is beyond comprehension, and is both beautiful and distressing.
When I recorded “Hallelujah, What A Savior” over ten years ago, I wanted it to sound completely different and new. So I chose to feature some unique percussion (soccer ball, bike tire pump, cardboard box, a pencil striking a guitar string, etc.) and a lot of overdubs of my voice. In spite of the quirkiness of the track, I think the weight of these words still rings true.
Blessings to you on Good Friday,
Hallelujah What A Savior
“Man of Sorrows!” what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
words and music: Phillip P. Bliss (public domain) arrangement by Scott C. Riggan (c) 2008 Spinning Plates Music (ASCAP) from the EP “Act of Surrender“