I SEE YOU (RICH MULLINS COVER)

Still thinking about the anniversary of Rich Mullins’ death. Here’s a clip from my duet of “I See You” with Jaime Thietten:

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IN MEMORY OF RICH MULLINS

Today is the 20th anniversary of the death of one of my heroes, Rich Mullins.

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NIGHT OF WORSHIP THIS SUNDAY!

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.

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HOLLOW

breadEver 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 idea of food does nothing to satisfy your 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:

Hollow

To have found You – this is just the beginning
I will not have my seeking done by another
Just to know You – this is all that I wish
I am not satisfied with just knowing about You

I am hollow – I am empty
I am a vessel – come and fill me
Wherever You go – that’s where I will be
Oh I will be following

I have tasted – I have tasted the water
Now I find that I thirst for – only Your love
Still I hunger – for the fruit of Your garden
Like a man who is starving – I can’t get enough

I am hollow – I am empty
I am a vessel – come and fill me
Wherever You go – that’s where I will be
Oh I will be following

Words & music by Scott C. Riggan and Benjamin D. Bauman. (c) 2008 Pleasantview Music (ASCAP). From the CD “Clouds & Fire”. Use only as directed. See your doctor if symptoms persist.

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THE SIGNATURE OF BUTTON GWINNETT

Button_GwinnettIt’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

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HALLELUJAH, WHAT A SAVIOR

Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 9.09.40 PMToday 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,
Scott

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
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ALL CREATION

I grew up in Northern California, where my family attended a small church that met Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings and even Wednesday nights. If the church doors were open, we were there. First to arrive – and typically the last to leave.

And at every service, we sang hymns. These hymns were the first songs I ever knew, and they shaped a lot of my ideas about music and singing.

2017-03-24 19.58.33

The Riggan Ranch in Idaho at sunset, late March 2017.

“When Morning Gilds The Skies” is a beautiful hymn that has been re-worked and re-translated from the original German several different times. My version is called “All Creation.”

I just love how vivid these lyrics are, and it really resonates with me that our deepest desire should be to join with all creation in glorifying and praising our Savior Jesus. Continue reading

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WAKING UP

Isn’t it Spring yet?

Unfortunately, the answer is “no.” At least, not for another few days (March 20, to be precise). It has definitely been an unusual winter here at the Riggan Ranch in Idaho – and probably wherever you are. 

This season has been one of creative restlessness for me.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the luxury of immersing myself in songwriting – too long, to be honest. But something has been stirring lately, and some new songs have started to shoot up out of the cold earth.

A lyric fragment here, a melody there. A tentative start, maybe. But it feels like something is waking up.

My last couple of records – Deep Roots and Peace On Earth – were deeply satisfying projects for me. In both cases, I got to enjoy that magical experience of creating something that somehow takes on a life of its own, unexpectedly blossoming into something beautiful and surprising – even to me, the artist.

That said . . . I’ve missed writing and producing songs that are all my own – as much as I love hymns and Christmas songs.

So I’m looking forward to Spring, and hoping for a creative reawakening. Believing that maybe I’m not quite done with bringing forth new music. I’ll keep you posted as those songs come to fruition.

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ARE WE NOT ENTERTAINED?

424094_10151190598817167_484475476_nAwhile back, I let the band and singers have a weekend off while I led worship for five of my church’s services – just me at the piano. This is very different from our usual full-blown production. But I chose simplicity for a reason; I saw an opportunity, at the beginning of a new year, to articulate something that’s been on my mind for some time.

So, straight from my heart, I shared the following:

We have to stop thinking that we should be entertained at church. Few of us would ever say that’s what we expect from our services, but in fact we approach our selection of a church with the same criteria we approach everything else: does it meet my needs?

It seems like a reasonable metric, right? After all, if a restaurant doesn’t offer food to your taste, you don’t go back. If you can’t find the clothes you like at a particular store, you won’t shop there again. So it’s not a stretch for us – as consumers – to expect our church to provide programming that clicks for us. A preacher that we agree with – and whose teaching style appeals to us. Music that we like. We expect our church to conform to our preferences.

If we only participate when we like the songs, what does that say about us? If we tell our worship leaders “worship was great this week” – is there a message embedded in the compliment? Something like, “You chose the songs I like! Keep it up!”

I’m here to gently suggest that we cut it out.

As a worship pastor, I want to make this clear: I’m not an entertainer. My church has articulated what we are all about with these four words: REACH, TEACH, EQUIP and SEND. Note the glaring omission of the word ENTERTAIN . . .

Our congregation is a big family, and like most families we have a wide range of musical tastes represented. We have people who listen to folk music and others who love upbeat dance music. Then there’s country and bluegrass, loud rock and praise choruses (do you prefer those of the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s?). A lot of people love the ancient hymns – and then there are the rousing camp-meeting songs from the last 100 years or so. After making a joke about polka I heard from several people (from Wisconsin, of course). But the point is this: in any large group you will find a variety of different preferences.

Can you imagine any way to incorporate all of these preferences into a single worship service? If I select one style, will I alienate everyone who doesn’t care for that style? This is what I wrestle with all the time.

Here’s the burning question: do you have to have everything your way in order to worship God? Your honest answer to that question tells you a great deal about your relationship to the church – and, I think, about your spiritual maturity.

Can you still offer your worship to God when you don’t care for the songs or the music style? Can you still worship when the environment isn’t the way you like it (too quiet, too loud, too dark, too bright). What if you don’t like the worship leader’s voice? Or his cutting edge fashion sense (or even worse: his uncool fashion sense)? Or the way the words are projected onscreen?

Your preferences are all legitimate; it’s perfectly natural to have individual likes and dislikes.

But too often we spiritualize our preferences and become convinced that “my way is the right way.” When conditions have to be just right in order for me to worship God . . .  When my ability to praise Him is limited to my personal musical preference . . . When I’m unable to participate in corporate worship because I don’t like the leader’s song choices or his fashion sense rubs me the wrong way . . .

When my worship of God is so fragile and precarious, I think the real problem becomes crystal clear.

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JANUARY SALE: THREE CDS FOR FIVE BUCKS!

It’s January! And it seems to me like a good time to clean out some of the CD’s that are lying around here. So here are a couple of special deals to entice y’all to click the “add to cart” button.

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First, here’s a “bargain bundle” – THREE CDs for JUST FIVE BUCKS!

Includes the CDs Act of Surrender, Great Is The Lord and Bring Glory. With songs like “Eleanor Rigby,” “Movin’ To Mayberry,” “Show Them Jesus,” “Mrs. Taylor” and more (total of 24 tracks).


page01Second, here’s a deal on multiple copies of my recent hymns record, Deep Roots.

You can SAVE TEN BUCKS when you purchase 3 copies.

This record includes “My Jesus I Love Thee,” “10,000 Reasons,” “Nothing But The Blood,” “Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus” and more.

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