Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fresh Beginnings

Hey Friends!

I'm so thankful that New Year's Day is only a week after Christmas. You see, I love Christmas and it's always kind of sad to me when it's over. But then New Year's is only one week later and I love fresh beginnings.

January is a time to start over. It signals the completion of one year and the beginning of a fresh new one. I love finishing things. Like when I have a list of to-do's and I can scratch off each item on the list at its completion. It's a satisfying feeling. Finishing out 2010 is a satisfying thing for me. Each year comes with it's blessings and it's struggles, and each year I make it through is a small victory. Or maybe it's a large one. After all, our lives are made up of years. And our lives are not insignificant.

I have always been bothered by people who are ashamed of their age. I think it is a sign of how backward our society is. We value foolish youth and beauty over aged wisdom. But I suppose, part of the shame of being a year older comes from knowing, deep down inside, that your end is nearer. However, for those of us in Christ, this is not the case. Every year, we are not only wiser-- if the Lord permits-- but we are also one year closer to our completion. As it is right now, we are like fish out of water. Or as the writer to the Hebrew church so eloquently put it, we are "foreigners and strangers on the earth" (Heb. 11:13).

As January 1st rolls around, I not only look to the coming year, but also to the coming King. Yes, we just celebrated our King's birth last week. He is with us even until the end of the age. But He is not here physically. We cannot see His face or hear His voice. We have His words in the Scriptures, but we have to have faith that He is the One who has spoken them.

To be honest with you, I miss Him.

Sometimes I have found myself wondering, what's taking Him so long to return? I mean, really, what's up with this 2000 year delay? I used to think that the Bible didn't answer this question. But I was wrong. Check out this Scripture:

"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance," 2 Peter 3:9.

Or how about these:

"This is what is written: the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem," Luke 24:46-47.

"The good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come," Matt. 24:14.

Has the gospel been preached to all the nations yet? To our shame, it has not. We've had 2000 years to preach the gospel, and yet there are well over 2 billion people in the world who have never heard the name of Christ.

So as 2010 comes to a close and we rejoice that we are one year closer to our King's return, let us remember that 2011 arrives with fresh opportunity in its wings to hasten the Lord's coming. Our work here is not complete. He will not return until we have finished the task. Thankfully, He's patient like that.

Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Favorite Songs of 2010

Hello Friends!

I love to make year-end lists of my favorite music and this year is no exception. So here are the songs I've been listening to the most in 2010.

Top Five Songs From 2010

1. "Crazy Love" by Robbie Seay Band - I LOVE this song! It's one of those songs that I put on repeat and listen to five times in a row. I believe Robbie Seay wrote this one as a love song for his wife, but for me it is a love song for my Savior. RSB's entire Miracle album is amazing!

2. "Something to Say" by Starfield - As awesome as this song is, it was hard to pick only one favorite song from Starfield's The Saving One album. You should check it out. It's awesome!

3. "You Are More" by Tenth Avenue North - Great lyrics, great sound, and my favorite music video of the year.

4. "Heaven Song" by Phil Wickham - I heard Phil sing this last month when he was on tour with Mercy Me and I was blown away. It captures my longing for Heaven so well. Absolutely beautiful.

5. "Snow" by Sleeping at Last - I have been very much enjoying SAL's Yearbook project that they began in October this year, consisting of a three song EP released every month for a year. Their music is a bit different for me as I usually prefer more commercial music, but they've managed to captivate me with their sound. I couldn't pick a favorite, so I chose their newest release "Snow".

So there you have it! What are your favorite songs of 2010?

Merry Christmas to you and many blessings in the new year!


Friday, December 3, 2010

The Story Behind the Song: I Need a Rescue

Hello Friends!

The release of a new album is one of the most exciting times in a band. There are a lot of mundane moments, but times like this one make it all worth it. It's been about three weeks since Where I'm Found released, and things are starting to get pretty exciting! Today though, I will continue the Story Behind The Song Series with my viewpoint on the song "I Need a Rescue".

It is nearly impossible to pick a favorite song from Where I'm Found because each song has a special meaning for me in some way or another. With that being said, I do connect with "I Need a Rescue" in a different way than all the others. That is because I was the one on that lonely island begging God for a rescue. But that isn't how it all began.

Back in the spring of '06, I became a big fan of a great new band called NEEDTOBREATHE. Maybe you've heard of them ;-) . They had just released their debut album, Daylight (which I still think is their best) and I was totally addicted to it. So one beautiful, sunny day I grabbed my guitar and headed for the Florida room--which was my favorite songwriting spot at the time--to write a song that sounded like NEEDTOBREATHE. I have a tendency to write sad, mellow music and I wanted to write something different. Something energetic and exciting. So I started playing. At first, I thought I was doing well. I was going to write a happy, up-tempo song just like I wanted to! I had the chord progression for the chorus written and I liked it. Then I started writing the verses, which took on a sadder sound. That wasn't what I was shooting for, but I liked it anyway. Finally, I wrote the music for a bridge. When I played the music for Sam, my sister and frequent co-writer, we both thought something just wasn't working. Finally I scrapped my happy chorus and turned the bridge into the chorus. My upbeat, energetic song was gone. But now emerged a much more honest one. The one word that Sam and I both kept thinking of as we listened to the music was "rescue".

Sam is the one to take most of the credit for the lyrics of "I Need a Rescue". I don't know how she does it, but on multiple occasions I have written music and told Sam what I thought the song should be about and then she took that and put it into words. But "I Need a Rescue" was not exactly an easy song to write. The lyrics for the first verse were somewhat of a challenge, the chorus was fairly easy, and the second verse was really hard! But the most difficult part of the song to write was this, "Oh God, tear open these clouds and rescue me". It took us years to write that. Seriously.

We kept writing bridges that were too long and wordy. And honestly, we really didn't know what to say. The song was already a confession, but then what? How do we get off the island? Is God going to come and rescue me? Where is God in all of this anyway? This time, we weren't just stuck on a lyric. For me, this was personal. I have a strange salvation story, and perhaps sometime I will tell it here. But the gist of it is, I thought I was saved at the age of five, though I didn't really trust Jesus at all until I was fourteen. Ironically, during those nine years that I thought I was saved, I never once doubted my salvation. But five years after I truly was saved, I was assaulted by fierce doubts that felt like they would destroy me. I had no idea how much of a wretch I could be after God had saved me. I thought that maybe I was mistaken. Maybe He hadn't really saved me in the first place. Maybe I've been on this deserted island my whole life and didn't know it. And I didn't know if God was going to rescue me. I had no idea what to say in the song. One day I read this half of a verse from Isaiah, "If only You would tear the heavens open and come down..." Isaiah 64:1. That said everything right there. Unfortunately, it still took us at least another year before we figured out a way to say the same thing in words that fit "I Need a Rescue". And then, even when we had written it, we still weren't sure if we liked it. This song was put on the shelf many times before we finally decided it was exactly the way we wanted it. In the end, it took four years until we were satisfied.

The end of my story happens after "I Need a Rescue" is over. God did eventually come and rescue me. But it wasn't a dramatic scene where all my troubles ended suddenly. It was gradual. I almost don't even know how it happened because it happened so slowly. One by one, my doubts were replaced, not by answers, but by faith. It felt like starting over. I had all these ideas about God. I thought I understood Him. What I found is that our human minds cannot understand God. But He can be trusted.