Rain, Rain, Go Away

Every year I forget that it rains pretty much the whole month of April! I get bumbed out and surprised every time I awaken to a cloudy sky. I try to hold on to the age old saying that “April showers bring May flowers,” and that all this rain will bring about awesome beauty.

I think sometimes life can be this way…we forget that there will always be rainy seasons and that, often times, these seasons will bring about beauty. My prayer for us all is that we will hold on to hope in the rainy times and be thankful for the sun when we are blessed to feel its warmth.

Above all, I pray we would know that, rain or shine, God is good.

Amanda Lee

Why Lyrics Matter…

Lyrics matter. All of us know that music has the ability to go where a 1,000 speeches (no matter how inspired or heartfelt) could never go. And because this is the true, lyrics matter.

I have often heard it said that the worship leaders are the true theologians of the Church. What this means is that what we sing is what is really taken into the conscious and sub-conscious of our people. It’s not the scholars who are on the front-lines (though without them, we would have no effective front line), it’s the singers and songwriters. If we sing and/or write bad or weak theology, the people believe bad or weak theology. If we sing and write the truth, people believe the truth.

Sadly, much of the current pop-music landscape (mainstream and Christian) is littered with annoying anecdotes, corny catchphrases, and horrible clichés. Lyrics matter! There’s a reason why James Taylor’s music is still loved after all these years…

I spent a few years hanging with James’ brother, Livingston Taylor (he took me under his wing during my college years). During our time together, he would often say that he and his brother were not the best singers and not the best songwriters. “But James is a master communicator,” he would say. And he was right. Love him or hate him, James’ lyrics have a way of communicating something transcendent, something beautiful. And James is cherished still because of this gift.

Will we as songwriters leave behind golden nuggets like John & Charles Wesley and John Newton did? Or will we simply be the noise of a generation that withers as soon as it is born?

In no way am I criticizing out of feeling that I’ve arrived! On the contrary, I am frustrated by my own shortcomings. I must confess, when I read some of my own lyrics, I am disappointed. How I long to write truly great songs! To write lines that inspires hope! Lines that makes people think. Lines that directs them to something and Someone greater than themselves.

Am I being overly dramatic? I don’t think so. How many times have you been at the end of your rope and turned to a song or a poem that gave the strength to hang on? How many times have you heard the soft whisperings of God through the power of music? I cannot keep count.

Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 30 years in a tiny cell. What gave this man the power, after those 30 years, to forgive the very people who put him there? This is the poem that, as he put it, “gave me the strength to stand, when all I wanted to do was lie down…”

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Lyrics matter. Help me Lord to write and to sing with divine inspiration. Help me not to settle for 2nd best. Anoint me to write hope. I cannot do this by myself.

Amen,
Steven Andy

Manifesto for Worship

I have a good friend that likes good music. He’s passionate about creativity, art, and hearing God’s prophetic voice to create things that are truly beautiful. His name is Scott McElroy and he recently started a collective called “The New Renaissance Rising.” He’s got a very cool site for creative Christians at: http://thenewr.org/.

Anyways, last week we were driving to get some great burritos and he played for me a new worship band called “The City Harmonic.” I was really impressed by their stuff (plus, they are a piano-rock band) and wanted to share the video to their current single “Manifesto.” As you watch, really listen to the words and be inspired by the declaration of what we, God’s people, profess and confess as our faith. It’s really beautiful. I want to start doing this song in worship and in concert with 1000 Generations…

Amen,
Steven Andy

The Alabaster Box

Hey there! This last Sunday I got to do something I rarely ever get to: preach! It felt great speaking, though I definitely don’t want to trade my piano for the pulpit. 🙂 The message I gave was on worship (titled “The Alabaster Box”). CLICK HERE to listen.

A Time To Die

What if fear is an indicator that we are “still alive?” Maybe fear means that we haven’t died yet. Because if we were dead, what worldly thing would cause you to be afraid?? Let me explain…
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Romans 6:1-11
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
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In the series, “Band of Brothers”, the most heroic and successful soldiers were those who came to the realization that they were “already dead” and then fought with bravery and valor to make sure their life mattered and made a difference. The men unwilling to come to this realization cowered in their foxholes…………frozen in fear.

I have GREAT news for you!!! You are fatally ill – you WON’T get out of this life alive. As is such, you are FREE!!

Have you “died to self?” Are you willing to “die to self” with the assurance that Christ will live in you and through you when you do?

If we don’t come to the conclusion that we are all “dead men walking,” we are delusional. You have a fatal disease called humanity and you won’t get out of this life alive.

But that is NOT the end of the story. If God wears a locket, your picture is in it. You were created by the King of all that is good to be in relationship with Him and to bring him glory. May you step out in faith today as the loved one I know you are and want to be. God didn’t save you just so you could be saved!! You were blessed to be a blessing to others. That is the story of creation and your actions can bring the Kingdom to others based on the decisions you make today.

God loves you and so do I.

Taken from an email sent by my friend Jerry Johnson.