Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween Frights

With Fright Night, Halloween, only a few moonlit evenings away, a blog about scary things seemed appropriate.  What are you more frightened by, things of the imagination, or things that we all agree represent valid physical danger?  Maybe it is a combination of both that gives you the 'heebie-jeebies'.

I'm short.  I could be wrong, but I feel a lot of short people have a natural fear of heights, acrophobia.  It's not as bad now, but as a child I can recall being virtually dizzy if looking straight down from anything of height, more so if I wasn't confident in what I was standing or sitting on.

We had a barn in our backyard.  The barn, of course, had a hayloft.  My friend and I were in grade school.  He wanted to throw some loose hay down on the gravelly path and jump from the hayloft down to the ground.  He did it!  Naturally, he berated me to jump as well.  I failed to see a good reason to do it.  Then he said he would come up and push me if I didn't jump.  Well, I would rather go down on my own, so I jumped!  As a teen, I climbed a ladder onto the roof of the house for a chore.  In trying to get down, I knocked the ladder over.  Once again, I was faced with the need to jump!

Heights, clearly, represent a true physical danger, made all the greater for a person uncomfortable with those heights.

Another fear of mine is claustrophobia, the fear of being unable to escape or being closed in, tight quarters.  This fright is not too great unless combined with coimetrophobia, the fear of cemeteries.  Don't tell me you are not at least a little afraid of waking up in a buried coffin (typically in a cemetery).  By the way, coimetrophobia is a word I found on wikipedia but can't find in a dictionary.  That's another fear, using words incorrectly in public writing!

Ok, I gave you a couple of my fears, why don't you share yours?

My greatest fears are the stuff of my imagination.  Not Frankenstein, Dracula, Freddy, or any other horror picture ghoul.  Those belong to someone else's warped imagination.  My fears are the things I imagine: financial insecurity; extreme health issues; and greatest of all, loss of my wife and kids from accidents or evil people.  These are the elements of my own warped imagination.  The fear I feel is real, even if the physical danger may not be.

What can we do?  In Psalm 56:11 it says "in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?" (NIV)  But note, the verse says what can man do to me.  What if our greatest frights are NOT from people?  Then we need to keep it even simpler.  When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3 (NIV)

I have written a story.  It explores some fears.  Maybe the greatest fear you have is whether or not you will make the right choices.  My story, Lumen: The Guise of Darkness also explores making right choices.  This novel is free to read online or download as an Adobe Pdf.  Kindle users can buy it for 99 cents.

Read my superhero mystery novel free!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade - Day 18 - This Is Me

I once tried to explain the song This Is Me by Benny Hester as part of a devotion I was leading. I am certain I failed miserably. So I admit, this is me.  Now if you can honestly say that you've heard of Benny Hester and this song, then I think you are a rare person (and probably about 50 years old).

Assuming you are not 50, there is still something to be learned from this song. Please give me one more chance to explain it, because this is me. Listen first, or we won't get anywhere.

This song is difficult to explain because it tells three stories at once, but (I think) they are all related.

Now, I confess, I've never read or heard anything from Benny Hester explaining this song.  So everything I say will be my own interpretation.  If you or Benny Hester have a better interpretation, I would be thrilled to hear it.

Three stories about 3 men: a traveling preacher, Jonah, and Benny Hester.

The song starts with a traveling preacher at a small church in Texas.  Benny sets the scene: a small child with her mother, a couple filled with strife, and a disinterested 17 year old in a back row pew. The text for the evening, the story of Jonah.

God told Jonah to arise and go to Ninevah.  He was to preach against their wickedness.  Of course he ran the other way.

The scene shifts to Benny Hester reflecting on his mindset before a concert.  Earnestly, he seeks God's help to touch someone's life, in spite of his deep recognition of his own shortcomings.  He cries out, this is me.

The song continues to weave the story of Jonah in distress, a 17 year old suddenly engaged, and a preacher wondering at the mercy of God to use even those who run from Him time after time.

Something in the words of the traveling preacher, though missed by the couple and the little girl, touched the young man.  A longing within him rose, that he might be used by God.  The Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.  This time he obeyed.

Then the boy, the singer, confesses this is me, the part of me that I'm so afraid for you to see.

And this is me.  And this is you.  We have been like Jonah, running from God.  Time and again we missed the mark.  Yet, we earnestly wish that God would use us to touch someone's life.

Lord, this is me.  Use me, let someone's life be touched for you.

“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” Jonah 2:8-9 (NIV)

Bon Mot Serenade

A good word and a song of encouragement.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade - Day 17 - Save Me

We are Lois Lane--dangling from a rope hanging high above the streets of Metropolis.
We are Steve Trevor--captured by a Nazi Colonel bent on breaking the American soldier.
We are Polly Purebred--tied up and left on a railroad track by Simon Bar Sinister.

We need a hero--will someone come to our rescue?

We are the supporting characters in an animated adventure, earnestly crying out for our hero to appear in the nick of time.  Just like Lois Lane, Steve Trevor, and Polly Purebred, episode after episode we seem to get ourselves in trouble.

Our enemy is constantly laying traps. Somehow, we never get wise, we always fall into them.

What did the psalmist say?

Save me from my enemies, for you are just! Rescue me! Bend down your ear and listen to my plea and save me. Psalm 71:2 (TLB)

I think you know who our hero is, but who is our real enemy? Lex Luthor... Adolph Hitler?

Roman 7:19-20 make it clear that WE are the enemy.  We are the arch-villains-- our own nature of sin battles against us AND our hero, constantly putting our lives and souls in peril.

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (NIV)

In spite of our follies, if we cry out, HE will save!

Bon Mot Serenade

A good word and a song of encouragement.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade - Day 16 - Breathe

Breathing must not be as easy as everyone supposes.  For example, when a young child is crying hysterically, every parent knows to say 'breathe'.  When our children were young we urged them to breathe on several occasions.  Similarly, I attended a class with my wife so I would be trained to tell her to breathe while she was in labor with our first child.  So, breathing must not always come natural.

Last night I woke up suddenly because I could not breathe.  I had done some weed-whacking that morning without the benefit of a pollen mask.  At 2:00 AM my allergies kicked in and I was stuffed up enough that I could no longer breathe through my nose while sleeping.  I've also felt that discomforting situation at the pool when swallowing some water and having circumstances prevent me from immediately being able to cough it up and get air.  Both of those scenarios can be unnerving, because we so desperately need to breathe.

No doubt many people with asthma or other life threatening situations that affected their ability to breathe for awhile can feel this even more deeply.

Today in church, our music minister, Robert Comeaux exhorted us to make praising God like breathing.  It should be as natural and rhythmic as breathing to praise our Lord and Savior. Yet, it is often more like those times of struggle when we are holding our breath or gasping for air. Rather than simply praising God, letting His graces flow in as easily a drawing a deep breath, and letting the praises flow out as simply as exhaling, I am often asthmatic in my adoration of my Father.

When healthy, we need no training or process guide to breathing; we only need to breathe.  Neither are degrees or professional standards of excellence required, we only need to breathe.  In Exhale, Plumb focuses on the grace and goodness from God only needs to be breathed in, and then in turn, we exhale and breathe out that grace on others, and let that breath also bring praise to God.

Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. Psalm 150:6 (KJV)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade - Day 15 - Ceiling

As a kid, I would lie on the floor and look up at the ceiling. Imagination spurred me into thoughts of walking on the ceiling around hanging lamps, stepping over door frames like they were short walls next to a sidewalk.  Now, suppose it was night, and someone, also walking on the ceiling, handed me a shovel.  Could I dig a hole in the ceiling, and look down at the stars?  OK, that's random!

Returning to sane thoughts.

Last night we watched Colton Dixon streaming live on Stagehop: Night of Joy from Walt Disney World. #DisneyNOJ . One of my favorite songs by Colton is Limitless.  Prior to singing this song, he reminded us of Philippians 3:13 and the promise of that verse.  This is a song of faith.  Regardless of our condition (young or old, shy or bold) what we can do in Christ is limitless based on the amazing character of God.

The disciples experienced a crisis of belief in Mark 9:14-29.  They were asked to cast out a demon that was tormenting a child and his family.  No problem, they had done it before. But this demon, he wasn't going easily.  The disciples, the child's father, and even the crowd were distressed.

Then Jesus showed up and it was a different story. When he (the boy and his demon) saw Him (Jesus), the evil spirit caused the boy to convulse violently. Recall what James 2:19 says about believing faith, "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder." (NASB)  The disciples and crowd thought they believed God's power could cast out the demon, the demon had no doubt and he shuddered!

Jesus admonished them (really us, too) for our lack of faith, "O unbelieving generation".  The child's father asked Jesus to remove the demon, if you can.  Jesus' answer should cause us to shudder, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”  Maybe we should respond like this father, Help my unbelief! 

Back to Colton's Limitless:

Fear sees a ceiling
Hope sees the stars

Do we put a ceiling on what God can do?  Do we believe God can help us reach a few people for his glory, or millions? His inheritance is as uncountable as the stars, limitless!

Colton Dixon's Limitless appears on his new acoustic EP Calm.

And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:23-24 (NASB)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade - Day 14 - Ambiguous Ambivalent Ambulance Amb...

Out of the blue, better, out of the ambiance of the couch I was napping on, a strange thought struck me. Are there any really good circumstances surrounding words that begin with AMB? Yes, it is far from an ambrosial thought, that is, suggestive of the divine.  Rather, it is more of a rambling, ambling, barely ambulatory, series of awkward logical leaps.

The first word that came to mind is ambiguous.  Since I am on this ambagious, roundabout trail, I would like to come back to that word.

The second word to come to mind was ambivalent or indecisive.  Well, that's usually not good, especially if you are driving somewhere and are uncertain about the road to take.  Back and forth decision making not only causes confusion and delay, but often leads to wrecks.

The next word to come to mind is ambulance.  Which unfortunately, is closely related to ambivalence when driving.  There definitely appears to be a pattern with these AMB words.

A word that seemed positive to me is ambidextrous  Being able to do things equally well with both hands seems like a good thing.  Then, I recalled that I switched from my right hand to control the mouse to using my left hand because my wrist was hurting all the time.

Let's go back to ambiguous, or susceptible to multiple interpretations: vague. That was the word that started me on this tangent. So many songs today are written with vague meanings.  Jesus is merely an innuendo in the song.  It could be talking about boy/girl love.  It could be a song about God's agape love.  The FM Radio listener, if they still exist, wouldn't know for certain unless they were familiar with the band.

I love Steve Taylor and Peter Furler's lyrics in God Is Not A Secret:

Your in-depth research shows
drop the God, emphasize the beat


I am not running for office here
I won't keep it purposefully vague

I will not play those games
God is not a secret to be kept.

Let me add one more AMB word: ambassador. No one has ever been a secret ambassador.  In fact, the whole point of an ambassador is to be a bold representative.  This is not a time to be vague in songs or speech.  We are ambassadors for Christ!

that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:19-20. (ESV)


Bon Mot Serenade - Day 13 - Good Dirt

Good dirt! That is all that is required of my heart. The parable of the sower has always presented some challenges to me. I got caught up in the idea that there were 4 types of people. Once a person fell into their slot, they were locked in.

Based on that hypothesis, a person (for all time) was either hard soil, rocky soil, thorny soil, or good soil. Once they made their choice, they were done. While there is some merit to this idea, the tricky part came in deciding which of the soils represented true believers and which represented those who rejected the Gospel. Hard soil - pagan, thorny soil - carnal Christian, good soil - blessed believer. Then, what about the rocky soil? Jesus said 'this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy'.  Is that a person who receives salvation but loses it because they don't have a proper foundation, or in this case, a proper base of soil?

That is not a very satisfying idea and inconsistent with God's word about the Holy Spirit being a believer's seal of salvation.

So, I have to focus on the heart.  And, on the present condition of the soil of my heart for receiving a word from the sower, Jesus.

Recall in Matthew 13:19, Jesus says "When anyone hears the word about the kingdom" and later in the same verse he says "...what was sown in his heart."  All scripture is word about the kingdom including the story of salvation.  Jesus is clearly stating this parable is a message for the heart.  And, are our hearts prepared as good soil to receive that message?  Can the hard soil of our heart be cultivated to yield a bountiful crop?  Can our good soil be burdened by rocks of neglect or thorny weeds of materialism, causing our crop to suffer?

I know a young man that for some time had a heart that was a rocky road.  He claimed to be an atheist.  He spent some time at church, around believers: cultivation of his heart soil occurred.  At camp, he gave his life earnestly to Christ.  But between one camp to the next, his heart became rocky through neglect of God's word and fellowship.  He still believed, but was failing to thrive.  I pray for him regularly that his roots will be established and he will become the productive soil that the sower desired when He cast the seed.

Those of us who may feel we are good soil, but recognize that we have not produced as Jesus described, need to understand that even committed believers experience times when we reject God's Word in our lives. In those times, Satan plucks away what God is telling us, where He is leading us.  There are also times when we are rocky soil.  We will go to a conference or listen to a sermon, but then because we don't go deeper, that word is lost to us.  Certainly, none of us would deny the inescapable weeds of life and materialism that distract and choke out the joy of our salvation.

My encouragement is not to read Matthew 13 and be content that you are a believer so you must be in the fourth group.  Rather, let's ask ourselves what the condition of our heart soil is today.

But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. Matthew 13:16 (NASB)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade - Day 12 - Remodel In Progress

I began-- a couple years ago-- a glorious remodel for a bathroom adjacent to my daughters' bedroom. I violently hammered away at outdated wall tiles that enclosed the shower for 50 years.  Peeled away vinyl floor tiles, no doubt laced with asbestos or some other fatal material.  The old needed to be destroyed to be replaced by something new, beautiful, and functional.

After picking out tiles for the floor and walls, I laid the floor tiles. Awesome. Smooth. I wanted to do something special for the walls so I put in accents and followed a clever design.  So far, so good.  It was becoming what I envisioned for the re-created bathroom.

Floor tiles in place, most of the wall tiles in place, it was time to find a shower pan.  Wow, those are SO expensive.  I don't want to tile the shower floor, but a pan seems too expensive. After starting so well, the cost and reluctance to spend the money for a shower pan at the time derailed my plans.

In my personal history, I am a great starter and lousy finisher.  Now, aren't you glad that I don't have the responsibility of demolishing your former way of living, building you into what you were created to be, and finally bringing that good work to completion?  You might never get finished.

Now suppose Jesus had my character flaw.  He finds himself on the cross, ready to complete the work God sent him to do.  What if these were his thoughts?

Wow, this crucifixion thing takes forever.

My calves are starting to cramp up.

That's the last insult I'm going to take from that worthless fellow on my right.

I'm outta here.

No! What did Jesus say? It is finished!  Jesus finished what he began.

Back to my bathroom.  When you look in through the door, it appears to be pretty good.  But, when you step in for a closer look, peering into the shower.  Something is wrong!  It's not good for its intended purpose.

Jesus was faithful to complete his work for us on the cross.  That accomplished work made it possible for God to not only begin a good work in us, but to also bring it to completion. We may be 'remodels in progress', but God is making something beautiful, and he will not leave it unfinished!

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 (HCSB)


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade - Day 11 - Land HOpe!

...we finally gave up all hope of being saved.

That's how the NIV worded the last phrase of Acts 27:20.  Other versions said hope was gradually abandoned, taken away, and disappearing.  The circumstance for these dire sentiments was a storm on a tempestuous sea. Sailors, soldiers, and prisoners were in dread for their lives.  The ship, on the verge of coming apart, was held together only by ropes.

The words were penned by the physician Luke, a friend and traveling companion of the apostle Paul.  Luke was familiar with harrowing experiences.  Paul was a magnet. No doubt, he shared many experiences with Paul where death was a probable outcome.  Curiously, even though he had seen God work, and he had faith in God's protection, Luke confessed 'we' finally gave up hope.  I don't know if Luke intentionally or unintentionally included Paul among those who had given up hope.

Finally, in the midst of the storm, God gave a word to Paul.  Paul was told not to be afraid. God still intended that he should witness to Caesar and his household.  But, there was going to be a little detour.  That detour was the island of Malta.  After days and days of fighting against the storm, they were at last able to see a beach. Land HO!

Why are there so many songs about storms? Because we have all experienced them. Why must we endure storms? Because they accomplish God's purposes.

In Acts 28, after arriving on Malta, Paul has the opportunity to heal the father of the island's leader, Publius. Many others with diseases were cured as well.  Publius became a believer, and history indicates he was even a martyr for his faith. Without the storm, Paul would have missed Publius and the island of Malta.

As we search for hope in the storm, God has his eyes on the hopeless.  As our hope of rescue disappears, God prepares us to bring salvation to others.

Tree63 has a new album called Land and a new song called The Storm.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade - Day 10 - When I Arrive

Frustration and doubt are familiar feelings for anyone starting something new.  I've created a website with some neat capabilities for people wanting to find songs that correspond to specific Bible passages or topics: Grace Rocks Song Concordance  I've also done some writing, in this blog and a superhero novel for older teens and adults.  A creative person has to pause and wonder if that time was spent wisely, when no one sees my website, and no one reads my writing.

Is any one out there?  My writing is like the tree that falls in an uninhabited forest.  Did I make a sound if no one reads it?  Again, is any one out there?

Bryan Duncan shared some of his music through Twitter last week.  I was listening through the album The Last Time I Was Here when I heard the song 'Once I've Arrived'.  I had to camp out there.

His words struck me.

Somewhere beyond here
Is a dreamer's promised land
Faith is the road where without fear
I believe I'll understand
(Once I've arrived)

Once I've arrived... Where am I going, where are you going?  We think we've arrived  when we achieve a preconceived notion of success.  Maybe success for me is a best-selling novel.  How do you define success?  More importantly, how does God define success?  In God's eyes, where will we be when we have arrived?

In Genesis 12, Abraham was called by God to leave his father's house and journey to a land God would show him: a place of promise.  For Abraham, 'once I've arrived' was defined by where God took him.

Hebrews 11 summarized Abraham's faith.  Even though he didn't know where he was going, Abraham obeyed.  Upon arriving in the promised land, he lived as a stranger awaiting the fulfillment of God's promises.  The land itself did not signify Abraham's arrival, rather he looked to a future fulfillment in a city built by God.  Jesus is the foundation of that future city.

How will I know when I have arrived?  When I am right where God wants me to be, and living faithfully in that truth.  That means not letting discouragement cause me or you to settle for less than God's promise in our life.

One final note on Abraham's father, Terah.  We do NOT know if God called Terah to go to Canaan.  We only know, that he had it in his heart to move from his homeland and go to Canaan, himself along with his family.  But, he didn't make it all the way, instead he decided to settle in Harran.

We will never arrive if we settle for less than God's best.

Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:16 (NIV)

Once I've Arrived by Bryan Duncan from Christopher Redner on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade - Day 8 - His Kindness

There's no reason to mention the name of the website... the reason it became nationally known... or the people that were embarrassed. It's happened many times before, and is certain to happen again. People-- good and bad, prominent and lowly-- have their secret deeds exposed to public ridicule. We are born wicked, it comes natural, but most of us maintain a veneer of goodness. When the veneer of goodness is peeled away, then the turning point decision must be made!

David was a good man. No one was more prominent than the King of Israel. His secret deed was with Bathsheba.  He was exposed by Nathan privately, then publicly ridiculed when his son Absolam rebelled against him. (Read 2 Samuel 11-16)

In John 8:1-11, a woman caught in adultery was exposed to public ridicule.  Since the Pharisees took advantage of her weakness, most likely she had a bad reputation and a lowly position.

What was the key to restoration for this powerful king and weak woman?  Repentance.

God as a loving father desires to restore our relationship with him.  Suppose as father he reaches out to hug a prodigal son or wayward daughter.  Yet the son or daughter refuses to turn toward their father and fully accept his embrace.  There would be no restoration.  Only when the son or daughter caught in their sin turns to the father, does true restoration occur.  This is repentance.

When Jesus said to the woman "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more", she must have been overwhelmed with his kindness when contrasted with the bullies who had dragged her out for public scorn. How different they were from the kind father desiring true repentance.

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4


Friday, September 4, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade - Day 7 - Dragging Chains

It's a little early to talk about Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, but vivid imagery of Jacob Marley stumbling into Scrooge's mansion, chains dragging across the floor, comes to mind when I hear Crowder's song Lift Your Head Weary Sinner.  Just as Marley came as a warning to Scrooge, the song chides us for walls built 10,000 burdens high keeping us bound by chains of sin.

In concert the clang of the chains is even more powerful, reminding us of our former bondage.  The key is, the chains represent a former bondage, a slavery to sin that is now dead and gone.  How often do we carry around chains and manacles that have been unlocked?

The apostle Paul experienced chains: heavy reminders of his imprisonment.  He was not bound to sin, but rather to Christ.  His past and present circumstances were the platform of his ministry to others.  Likewise our former bondage, when in submission to Christ, can result in freedom for others.

And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. Philippians 1:14 (NIV)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade - Day 6 - Care Package

Sometimes when a kid is away at camp or perhaps a soldier is stationed overseas, a super-mom will put together a care package for her child.  That care package may contain homemade cookies, some candy, and other items that super-mom thinks will bring a smile to her son or daughter.  Mom is probably smiling and eager for her child to receive that package!

Super-mon would suddenly be renamed super-villain if instead of sweets, the child opened the carefully wrapped cardboard box only to find limp broccoli and moldy cabbage.  Suppose instead of a hand-written note of encouragement the box contained a copy of a utility bill with the scrawled message 'please pay'?

Now consider a favorite passage of many.

casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7 (HCSB)

God actually wants us to send to him a care package.  Not a package of goodies for God, but rather everything that we find distasteful or difficult.  Anything that is too hard for us (everything) needs to be thrown in a box and cast upon Him.  Oddly, God is actually like that smiling mother who anticipates and smiles upon the cares we send His way.  It is his delight.

Finding Favour, also part of the Air1 Positive Hits Tour, captures this sentiment well. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade - Day 5 - I am not a robot

I am not - a robot

The world keeps feeding me
Inputs about how I should be
Trying to conform me
To the image of humanity

But I am not a robot
Living the pattern of this world
Letting TV guide my thoughts
Letting culture shape my world

I am not, I am not, I am not a robot.

These lines are part of a poem and devotion in The Flutter of Angels Wings.

In the devotion I wrote about an irony.  In movies and books, robots are given human characteristics.  In the real world, humans act as if they are following robotic programming.  In other words, I assert that humans are robots.

Unfortunately, our programming is the culture we live in: books, TV, movies, and music that fill our minds. When this programming gets in our head, our thoughts and actions are directed not by the Spirit living in us, but rather by the powers and philosophies of our culture.

Not all inputs are bad.  Christian books, music, movies, and especially the Bible, have the ability to transform us, rebooting our programming to God's original plan (through Jesus Christ).

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)

A couple fun songs related to robots inspired today's serenade: Strobot by LZ7 and Mr. Roboto by Rapture Ruckus.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade - Day 4 Only a fool...

I was so annoyed today when I saw on Twitter that Geoff Moore was thanking his supporters for funding his Kickstarter campaign.  It's AWESOME that Geoff Moore plans to put out a new album...more awesome that his fans backed him!  I'm just disappointed that I didn't know about his campaign.  I would have loved to say I helped get his new album out.

Oh well, I suppose it is foolishness on my part.  I'll get his album when it becomes available. Sadly, I couldn't afford to go fishing with Geoff in a Michigan stream anyway.  And... I hope his album does super well and reaches a young audience, because his music has been a treasure to me.

From his days on the cassette, The Distance, playing 'Winning Back the Rock' to his more recent albums, the more a person listens to his music the more often you'll hear his lyrics whipping through your head without realizing it.  One of those songs I listen to over and over again is called 'Only a Fool' from his Threads album.

In 'Only a Fool', Geoff sings of people who have made a choice that seems foolish to friends, family, and the world.  Why exchange opportunity and riches for little invisible things like serving someone out of a love for Jesus? Only a fool...

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV)

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. 1 Corinthians 3:18-19a (NIV)

Check out Geoff Moore in the Grace Rocks Song Concordance for more of his songs and their related Bible Verses and topics.  Grace Rocks

Monday, August 31, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade Day 3

My favorite Christian fiction is by Frank Peretti: This Present Darkness and the sequel, Piercing The Darkness.  The stories are both suspenseful and thrilling adventures of battles between Angels and Saints on the Lord's side versus Demons and Anti-Christians on the side of evil.  The theme of each story is the power of prayer to aid the Godly and defeat the demonic.

When I noticed the band Piercing the Darkness, I was naturally curious.  Listening to their lyrics, it was easy to see they are taking a bold stand for their faith.  There are no diluted ambiguous themes in their lyrics.  Like the Frank Peretti stories, I feel they are poking evil spirits in the eye with their blunt and powerful message.

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38 (NIV)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade - Day 2

'Keep on, keeping on'.  I was probably 8 or 10 years old when my childhood pastor used that phrase.  He was a man with a gentle spirit.  He was loved deeply by the congregation.  I recall he came to our Sunday School class and told his story.  He was badly scarred on his face from burns caused by an accident involving gasoline. But he overcame, was faithful, and ministered in a wonderful way.

The youth at our church (and the leaders as well) were challenged with this question: where do you want to be in your spiritual life by this Christmas?  My personal answer is to be faithful in the little things.  In other words, to keep on keeping on.

NF, who is part of the Air1 Positive Hits Tour #PositiveHitsTour, captures that idea in his new song.  He actually talked about getting into God's Word as part of his personal mandate to keep on.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 (NIV)

Be sure to check out NF on the Air1 Positive Hits Tour. Get more info at Air1.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bon Mot Serenade

I won't mention any names, but a certain home-school mom is well known for falling asleep at the school table.  In fact, dictation is a subject that usually results in nodding off mid-sentence.  Now my kids and I (whoops, did I spill the freshly sharpened pencils out of the proverbial school box?) would never blame that mom for being sleepy.  She gets up early to jog and begin the day, she stays up late grading papers and washing clothes.

At any rate, this mom that I have not named, is a picture of our Christian churches working so hard day and night, yet asleep in the light.  My passion for Christian music of all genres began with my introduction to Keith Green's song Asleep In The Light.  This song first appeared on his album No Compromise.

For the next month, I want to share a song a day to listen and reflect upon (ENJOY) and a bon mot (literally, good word) from God's Word.

The first entry is a classic transformation song (see Romans 12:2) by Keith Green. It's time to wake up church!

This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:14 (NIV)

Keith Green - Asleep in the Light from theblessedhope on GodTube.

See more on Keith Green's music in the Grace Rocks Song Concordance

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Six Tracks To TobyMac

As I listen to The Cross from Kevin Max's 2007 album The Blood, I join literally hundreds of thousands of DC Talk fans pining for more songs by the preeminent Christian group of the early 21st century.  Fans speculate, amazing websites like New Release Today oil the rumor machine, petitions for a reunion of Kevin Max, Michael Tait, and Toby McKeehan have been signed.  Still we patiently wait.

There have been a couple rare reunion pieces by the trio from DC Talk. The Cross featuring DC Talk is a song that most fans of the super-group probably have never heard before.  It may have been their first post-solo career reunion song. It wasn't on Christian radio. I'm doubtful that many people are aware of the solo project The Blood by Max. 

TobyMac had a remix of Atmosphere that featured DC Talk.  The song appeared on Welcome To Diverse City.  It was a nice taste but didn't have the full mouthwatering power of a typical DC Talk song. 

Finally, in TobyMac's new album This Is Not A Test, DC Talk is truly back.  The album sports a humorous question and answer track alluding to a DC Talk reunion.  Then, in the second to last song, the trio combine on a song that is fresh and powerful, while still highlighting the musical blendings that made DC Talk so awesome.

The song is brilliant and no doubt a chart-topper.  I anticipate there will be many more reunion songs in the future.  In the meantime, Michael Tait, Kevin Max, and TobyMac have collaborated with many other artists.  I call the game Six Tracks To TobyMac.  I hope you'll play along with me.  More info on What is Six Tracks To TobyMac

Ever found yourself looking for a Christian song that ties in to the Bible passage you are reading?  How about needing some special music to illustrate a lesson?

Check out the Grace Rocks! Song Concordance.