Archive for the 'FAITH' Category

Lyrics o’ the day: Josh Garrels, “Revelator”

It’s difficult to relay *exactly* what type of impact the latest album from Josh Garrels has had on me.  I would say the best word to describe it is “profound”, and I don’t use that word lightly. 

I’m rarely moved by new artists musically, and much less often moved by them lyrically.  Almost never, in fact.  I am *extremely* critical of lyrical content, which is a frustrating bent to have.  That said, finding an artist that moves me musically, vocally and lyrically nearly never happens.  I was moved to the point of tears on several occasions.  Truly.

Up until a couple of months ago, Josh Garrels was absolutely unknown to me.  While working alongside a friend that I attend church with, the conversation turned to music.  I was surprised to find that he and I had such similar musical tastes.  As we discussed “what artists or albums were currently floating our respective boats”, he mentioned a guy named Josh Garrels that had a powerful mix of lyrical content, vocals, and musical aptitude.  I told him that I would have to check it out, which typically translates to “I’ll forget about it within 24 hours or so”.


A couple of days later, I received an email from the fine folks at  As it so happened, the artist spotlight was on the newest release from Josh Garrels, “Love & War & The Sea In Between”.  I took the hint, downloaded the album, and began to listen.


Here’s a link to one of my favorite tracks.  Lyrics below.

Had a dream I was alone
A vast expanse of complete unknown
Sea of glass so clear it shown,
Like gold

Then a voice like thunder clapped,
As a dead man I collapsed
I am the first, I am the last,
Now rise my son

Then behold ten thousand kings,
And every creature worshipping
Every eye was on one thing,
One man

He’s like a lion like a lamb,
As though slain he holds the plan
To make war and peace with man,
And reign on earth

Holy, Holy, is the One,
Who was and is, and is to come
In a robe as red as blood,
He comes forth

Ride like lightning in the sky,
Upon the war horse he draws nigh,
The same one we crucified,
Will come again

I’m not just impressed by this album, I’m actually thankful for it.

“Thank you, Josh Garrels, for using the gifts you’ve been given in such a powerful, obedient way.  Consider me blessed.”


Removing The Veil (A.W. Tozer)

This is one of the most profound, moving, and (hopefully) life-altering pieces I’ve ever read.  From A.W. Tozer’s classic work, “The Pursuit of God” (chapter 3).

Here is an excerpt from the last portion of the chapter:

The answer usually given, simply that we are ‘cold’, will not explain all the facts. There is something more serious than coldness of heart, something that may be back of that coldness and be the cause of its existence. What is it? What but the presence of a veil in out hearts? A veil not taken away as the first veil was, but which remains there still shutting out the light and hiding the face of God from us. It is the veil of our fleshly fallen nature living on, unjudged within us, uncrucified and unrepudiated. It is the close-woven veil of the self-life which we have never truly acknowledged, of which we have been secretly ashamed, and which for these reasons we have never brought to the judgment of the cross. It is not too mysterious, this opaque veil, nor is it hard to identify. We have but to look in our own hearts and we shall see it there, sewn and patched and repaired it may be, but there nevertheless, an enemy to our lives and an effective block to our spiritual progress.

This veil is not a beautiful thing and it is not a thing about which we commonly care to talk, but I am addressing the thirsting souls who are determined to follow God, and I know they will not turn back because the way leads temporarily through the blackened hills. The urge of God within them will assure their continuing the pursuit. They will face the facts however unpleasant and endure the cross for the joy set before them. So I am bold to mane the threads out of which this inner veil is woven. It is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit. They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and their power.

To be specific, the self-sins are these: self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them. The grosser manifestations of these sins, egotism, exhibitionism, self-promotion, are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy. They are so much in evidence as actually, form any people, to become identified with the gospel. I trust it is not a cynical observation to say that they appear these days to be a requisite for popularity in some sections of the Church visible. Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice.

One should suppose that proper instruction in the doctrines of man’s depravity and the necessity for justification through the righteousness of Christ alone would deliver us from the power of the self-sins; but it does not work out that way. Self can live unrebuked at the very altar. It can watch the bleeding Victim die and not be in the least affected by what it sees. It can fight for the faith of the Reformers and preach eloquently the creed of salvation by grace, and gain strength by its efforts. To tell all the truth, it seems actually to feed upon orthodoxy and is more at home in a Bible Conference than in a tavern. Our very state of longing after God may afford it an excellent condition under which to thrive and grow.

Self is the opaque veil that hides the Face of God from us. It can be removed only in spiritual experience, never by mere instruction. As well try to instruct leprosy out of our system. There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free. We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us. We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgment. We must prepare ourselves for an ordeal of suffering in some measure like that through which our Saviour passed when He suffered under Pontius Pilate.

Let us remember: when we talk of the rending of the veil we are speaking in a figure, and the thought of it is poetical, almost pleasant; but in actuality there is nothing pleasant about it. In human experience that veil is made of living spiritual tissue; it is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole beings consist, and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us and make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die. To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free.

Let us beware of tinkering with our inner life in hope ourselves to rend the veil. God must do everything for us. Our part is to yield and trust. We must confess, forsake, repudiate the self-life, and then reckon it crucified. But we must be careful to distinguish lazy `acceptance’ from the real work of God. We must insist upon the work being done. We dare not rest content with a neat doctrine of self-crucifixion. That is to imitate Saul and spare the best of the sheep and the oxen.

Insist that the work be done in very truth and it will be done. The cross is rough, and it is deadly, but it is effective. It does not keep its victim hanging there forever. There comes a moment when its work is finished and the suffering victim dies. After that is resurrection glory and power, and the pain is forgotten for joy that the veil is taken away and we have entered in actual spiritual experience the Presence of the living God.

Lord, how excellent are Thy ways, and how devious and dark are the ways of man. Show us how to die, that we may rise again to newness of life. Rend the veil of our self-life from the top down as Thou didst rend the veil of the Temple. We would draw near in full assurance of faith. We would dwell with Thee in daily experience here on this earth so that we may be accustomed to the glory when we enter Thy heaven to dwell with Thee there. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Amen indeed.

Biblical overview done ‘right’?!?

A buddy of mine, Riley Taylor, has created some video sequences for a study in the Book of Acts.  These chapter overviews are not only hilarious (they really are), but they’re also well-done, helpful, and just plain awesome.

Check ‘em out!

Only two of them are currently posted (as of this blog entry), but I happen to know that he has a few more… and they’re all really good. 🙂

Nice work, Riley!

Say hello to my little friend…

At the recent men’s retreat for our church, our speaker exhorted the guys to follow some dreams.  Do something.  Get out there.  Don’t just sit around.

I’m paraphrasing, of course, but I took his words to heart.  It’s easy for folks like you and me to fall into a rut and rarely (if ever) get out of it.  The challenge was inherently spiritual, though the results don’t necessarily have an overtly spiritual look to them.  In my case, the “dream” was to get better at playing the guitar.

Some background.

Having been in a band for quite some time, you might’ve thought that guitar playing just “came with the territory”.  It didn’t.  In fact, during our “band days” I only contributed a guitar part to one song that I can remember.  Try as I might, guitar-playing just never “clicked” for me over all those years.

It was some time later, though, that I was leading our youth group – which invariably includes worship time.  Thankfully we had a guy who was fairly gifted in that area, ‘cause I couldn’t do it.  I knew the songs, of course, but I couldn’t play.  I wanted to, though.  I really did.  So I prayed about it.  It went something like… “Lord, help me to learn how to play the guitar.  I don’t have to be awesome, just good enough to lead worship songs.”  Shortly thereafter – like within a month or two – I began playing guitar.  I vividly remember being out at a retreat, guitar in my hand, playing a worship song that I knew fairly well.  All of a sudden, the strum pattern *clicked* for me.  I got it.  I understood.  It was like the door had been shut for years and years, and all of a sudden it was opened for me.


After that day, I began playing better and better – and eventually took over with the worship for our youth group.  That was a number of years ago, and I’ve since become one of the worship leaders for our church.  The Lord has certainly been faithful.

Sad to say, I haven’t done a whole lot to “grow these gifts” over the years.  Although I’m a better guitar player than I was a year ago, for instance, I lack a lot of the basic know-how. 

Enter the “dream”, as mentioned in the beginning of this post.

The challenge from our men’s retreat struck a chord with me – no pun intended.  I want to learn to play better, to play correctly, and to fill in the many gaps in my know-how.  Part of the “dream” for me also includes the bass guitar, since I really do like it a lot.  Not that I’ve played much, mind you, but I do enjoy it.  Perhaps learning the bass guitar could help me get from here to there?  It’s possible.

IbanezJetKingBass Valentine’s Day passed just a couple of weeks ago.  Although my wife and I don’t normally go too crazy with Valentine’s stuff, my wife (bless her heart!) gave me a blank check to help “meet this dream”.  After some discussion with her, I was off and running to find a bass guitar.  It didn’t take long before I found a couple of bass models that appealed to me, but eventually I settled on the Ibanez Jet King Bass in ‘vintage sunburst’.  This isn’t a top-of-the-line model, by any stretch, but it gets the job done and it looks *very* cool, if you ask me.  I ended up getting a great deal on a floor model from our local Guitar Center.  I took it home, plugged it in to my late-70s vintage Fender Twin amp, and away I go!  Now I’m working through a “bass for beginners” book as if I’ve never played before!  It’s quite humbling, actually, but good for me to learn “why you play what you play”.  It’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure, but it’s a lot of fun. 🙂

Assuming that I don’t drive my family crazy, I’m hoping to be a better guitar player (and half-way decent bass player) later this year.

Thanks for reading.

The “Politics of Modern-Day Science”

A few days ago (while unable to sleep), I finished watching the recent Ben Stein documentary, ‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’.  If you care at all about science, evolution, or ‘Intelligent Design’, this movie is worth watching.  It’s also humorous and well-made.  For those with streaming Netflix accounts, you can easily add this movie to your Watch Now queue!

Let me first say that I am a believe in ‘Intelligent Design’ and ‘Creationism’.  They are NOT one and the same.  That said, I believe in the God of the Bible, I believe that God created the Universe, I believe that God created the Earth, and I believe that God created Mankind in His image.  I also believe that Jesus Christ is came to this earth as both God and man, died for our sins, rose again, and that those who have accepted Him as Lord and Savior will live forever with Him in Heaven.  Does that make me a right-wing, naive, brain-washed Bible-thumper?  Perhaps it does.  So be it.

Moving right along…

You might be surprised, as I was, to find out that the movie ‘Expelled’ was not pro-Intelligent Design.  Rather, the movie attempts to shine a light on the fact that those who are brave enough to ‘suggest’ that Intelligent Design at least be considered as a viable option regarding the beginning of this earth (and mankind) are systematically shut-down, belittled, and ostracized.  The movie features no support of Intelligent Design or Creationism, nor does it necessarily attack the theory of evolution, but boy has it made people hot under the collar.  So much so, that a search on Google for ‘expelled’ first brings up a sponsored link to a website called ExpelledExposed, which happens to be maintained by the National Center for Science Education.  Touted as an “anti-evolution movie”, the NCSE seems obligated (for whatever reason) to answer this movie.  Watch the movie for yourself and decide.  Is it anti-evolution, or is it simply asking that “all theories be considered”?

Hot on the tails of watching this movie, I head out for lunch with a good friend (and co-worker) of mine.  Although he’s not a “religious guy”, he touted many views that fall-in-line with ‘Expelled’ as we began discussing it.  I was quite surprised, actually, and I listened intently to what he had to say.  Today, he emailed an article to me, titled  ‘Aliens Cause Global Warming’ featuring a speech from the late Michael Crichton.  The article is far less sensational than you would think, and is really worth reading if you have 15 or 20 minutes to spare.  It is well-written and easy to read.

Here’s the issue at hand, as I see it: science has become majorly politically motivated.  Gone are the days of devising a theory, setting out to prove it, and taking the results at face value.  Now we get our major scientific statements based upon a “consensus view”, where we believe what we believe simply because a group of scientists (or politicians or whomever) have said so.  It seems that science has become a religious movement, and has thus declared a holy war against anyone who would stand in its way.  It’s frightening, really, because science should serve mankind, not itself.

As a Christian, I’ve never felt particularly “at odds” with science.  I believe in God, I believe in the Bible, and I believe that science ultimately (and eventually) supports what the Bible says.  I also understand that much of what I believe and live by is based upon faith.  Faith, as defined in Hebrews 11, is “being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see”.  Science needn’t be scary to believers, but I now find that the “scientific establishment” is.  These are folks with an agenda who wrap it up with ‘science’ packaging and present it to the public as “truth” – never mind whether or not it can be proven. 

So sad.

Audio find! Daniel Amos ‘Darn Floor, Big Bite’ Remastered

Was cruising the Zune Marketplace today and found a very interesting new release!  One of my favorite bands, Daniel Amos, has (evidently) remastered and re-released their 1987 album, ‘Darn Floor, Big Bite’.


Other than the fact that it’s been about 20-years since this album was released, I’m not exactly sure why this particular disc was chosen for a remaster and re-release, but I’m glad it was!  In some ways, ‘Darn Floor’ is perhaps one of their more accessible albums, and a good option to draw fans back in again.  Here’s hoping that some of their other great albums (Alarma, Doppelganger, Vox Humana) follow suit! 🙂

Not staged.


Dogs are funny creatures, sleeping or not.

I’m always taken aback at God’s creativity in creation, as well as the personalities given to them.  Truly amazing!

Oof. So bad.

If you’re not already convinced that “Jesus is your friend”, then perhaps this awesome throwback video from the super-group Sonseed will convince you.

Is that Bob Saget?


The Guitar Strap Saga (TM)

I can no longer call myself a “hobbiest guitar player”.  I help lead worship at my churchwhich I enjoy very much — and in that role I have to take some things more seriously than I did before.  My guitar has to be in tune.  I need to have a decent pickup system installed.  I have to be able to play standing up!  (By the way, that was a bigger issue than I thought it would be).  I also need a decent guitar strap.

Don’t mock me on this.

Between rehearsal and the worship “set”, if you will, you end up with a guitar strapped around your neck for a considerable amount of time.  The guitar strap is important.  My previous strap has given up the ghost, so to speak, and easily pops off of the straps nuts.  Not cool, and not fun.  I set out to find another strap that is both stylish and comfortable.

My first trip was to Guitar Center in hopes of finding a good, reasonably-priced replacement.  I figured that leather would be a good long-term solution, but I was unpleasantly met with $70+ guitar straps.  Wha? I don’t think so.  Too rich for my blood.  Shortly thereafter, I found that Levy’s Leathers makes some nice guitar straps that can be found for a reasonable price.  I found a 2.5″ black embroidered strap that cost me less than $40 shipped.  Nice!  Well…until it arrived and I found that it was too short for me.  You see, I’m 6’4″ tall, and I tend to play with my guitar hung a bit lower.  Not “punk rock”, mind you, but lower.  Most leather straps tend to max out at around 53″ long, which was about 4″ shorter than what I was set at previously.  No matter how I sliced it, it didn’t work for me.  After some emails back and forth with the fine Levy’s Leathers folks, I find out that they make “XL” versions of almost all of their straps, which lengthens the strap by 12″ or so.  Wish I’d known that earlier.  I also wish I’d had a better up-close shot of the strap that I was ordering — a bane of “online purchases”, I suppose — because the suede finish was not entirely to my liking.  I decided to return that strap and keep looking.

Upon further reflection, I decided that I didn’t have to have a leather strap — it was enough to have leather at the ends for long term use.  In fact, nylon and/or cotton straps can be quite comfortable, practical and affordable.  Somehow or another, I ended up stumbling upon a company called Franklin Strap.  I liked the looked of their stuff, and I was immediately taken with their ‘Seatbelt Series‘ strap.  Very cool!  Sadly, I couldn’t find them online anywhere.  Grasping at straws, I emailed the Franklin Strap company themselves to inquire as to where I might purchase one of these fine straps.  I had no idea about pricing, availability and so forth.  Well… a few hours later I get an email back from the company owner himself — Greg Bennett of Greg Bennett Guitars!  He let me know that a shop called Artisan Guitars carried these and could help me order one.  Good deal.

Here’s the great part: I call Artisan Guitars — friendly folks, by the way — and tell them my story.  They find the strap I’m talking about and get me going on ordering one.  I still had no idea on pricing, so when the sales person mentions that the strap is $6 + shipping, well… I’m pretty blown away!  Needless to say, I ordered two of them.

So… here’s hoping that this strap is as awesome as I hope it’ll be.  If not, well… atleast I got a cool story out of the whole process.

Lyrics o’ the day

One of my very favorite bands (ever, Ever, EVER!) is Over the Rhine.  Incredible music, beautiful vocals, and haunting lyrics.  It’s strange to think that I’ve been listening to this band *actively* for 15 years now!

Anyhow, I wanted to post a selection of their lyrics that I love.  It was difficult to choose any one song, to be honest, because they have so many great selections.  That said, this song showcases how even early on (circa 1994) they could paint pictures with words…

Within Without“, from the album Eve

is it because I cannot see you
that you feel so free to steal
my excess baggage full of darkness and despair
while I fumble with my locks
you’re content to stand and knock
yet I know your knack for thievery is rare

do you know they call it arson
setting fires without permission
in my heart for sure and maybe elsewhere too
though your lack of inhibition
captures my imagination
I end up a wiser person thanks to you

it’s coming to fruition
the sympathetic vibration
your train is at my station
within without

then there is your flare for murder
there’s a dagger in the border
of your cloak and I suspect a captain’s gun
as you put to death suspicions
kindly kill my fears as well
exorcise and slay the demons one by one

though I’m usually pacifistic
you are mercifully sadistic
and I didn’t know that murder could be good
but the roses came crimson
springing from the prison
of the floorboards where there once were stains of blood

it’s coming to fruition
the sympathetic vibration
your train is at my station
within without
it’s calming my suspicion
with soothing intuition
your train is at my station
within without

If you’ve never listened to Over the Rhine, you are truly missing some incredible music.  Go check ’em out right now, then get back to me!  Some of my *personal* favorite albums of theirs are… Eve, Ohio, and Drunkard’s Prayer.