Monday, May 22, 2017

Great Things

What do you think are great accomplishments by you or others? Run a marathon? Set a record in high school or college? Achieved that promotion? Performed to a sellout crowd, and get a standing ovation? Win a championship? Get elected president of a group or a company?   Continue reading

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sweet Redeemer

This blog posts revisits a previous posting.

How do you read the Gospels? I know that I sometimes read them like a reading assignment, just wanting to finish the chapter. Sometimes I read the verses, trying to understand the spiritual message the evangelists were trying to convey. Sometimes, I try to put myself in the place of one of the people the evangelists describe - the blind beggar, the leper, the apostles, even the Pharisees and Sanhedrin.  Continue reading...

Monday, May 1, 2017

Christ Is Risen

This Easter season is a time when we should all ruminate on the great sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us. The consequences of his death and resurrection are so profound that it is easy to overlook their impact, and what it means for us as Christians. By rising from the dead, Jesus showed us the power of trusting in the Father, in contrast to the behavior of the Israelites before him as well as those of us now who do not put our faith entirely in God. Jesus submitted to a humiliating crucifixion in accordance to the will of God:

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Monday, April 24, 2017

All The Earth Will Sing Your Praises

This post, being written during the Easter season, will be a reflection and compilation of discussions about the historicity of Jesus Christ, his death, and his Resurrection. In addition, since the primary purpose of this blog is to expound on God's message as it is present in Christian rock, the post will end with a discussion of the song "All The Earth Will Sing Your Praises" by Paul Baloche.

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Resurrection Day!

This an update and reposting of a previous post.

Jesus Christ is risen!

Easter is the greatest and oldest Christian feast. It is the Feast of Feasts. And, it is the holiest day of the year for Christians. Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This is the act that is core to Christian beliefs. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (647) "it remains at the very heart of the mystery of faith as something that transcends and surpasses history".

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord

Godspell was a Broadway musical which opened in 1971, and is a series of parables based mostly on the Gospel of St. Matthew. The first song after the Opening and the Prologue is "Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord", which is started and led by the character of John the Baptist. It  is a representation of St. John baptizing the people in the Jordan River and calling them to repent and prepare.

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Above All

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be." (Jn 1:1-3)

"Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified." (Acts 2:36)

"...Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped..." (Phil 2:5-6)

"Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: “To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever." (Rev 5:13)

"...God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord..." (Phil 2:9-11)

These passages from the Bible all describe Jesus Christ, Lord (Kyrios) of all. The verses affirm that Jesus is above all things, including death. Based on this powerful message, Paul Baloche and Lenny LeBlanc wrote the song "Above All".

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Lamb Of God repost

This is a reposting of an earlier blog post.

In the Lenten season, we are called to reflect on our sins, and on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the redemption of those sins. The song Lamb of God, by Twila Paris, provides a powerful focus for our reflection. Twila uses the song to tell the story of Jesus, though in a very abbreviated form. She chooses those parts of the story which capture the love the Father for has for mankind, Jesus's great sacrifice, and our aspirations for grace and forgiveness. Twila has put so much meaning into this song both by her lyrics and by her singing, one will have a difficult time listening to it and not being touched.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Be Forgiven

As Christians, we all know that we are sinners. And, as sinners, we all would like to be forgiven of our sins. Some of us (most of us?) have at one time or another done some pretty awful things, making it hard to believe that we can be forgiven. However, the Bible makes it clear that God did forgive sinners. He forgave David for his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah. He forgave Israel for worshiping false gods, and breaking the covenant. Finally to show that God truly loves us and will forgive us, he offered up Jesus, his only begotten son, to redeem our sins. Yes, we can be forgiven. Tom Booth poignantly captures this truth in his song Be Forgiven, tenderly sung by Jackie Francois.

As the song begins, the refrain is sung quietly with minimal piano accompaniment. This beginning allows us to focus on the message that the song is trying to get across - that Jesus wants us to be forgiven. He wants us to be forgiven of those sins that we refuse to let go of. The ones that keep us from God. You know, the ones where we say "God will never forgive me for this." Jesus wants so much for us to be forgiven that he died on the cross for our sins, and rose from the dead to open the gates of heaven.

The two verses incorporate a fuller piano accompaniment, emphasizing the effort Jesus expended to get his message of forgiveness out to us. He wants us to have peace, and offered us his peace (Jn 20:19-21, Mt 11:28-30), - not the worldly peace but a true spiritual peace. He wants us healed of the damage that sin has done to our souls, the damage that blinds (Mk 8: 22-26, Lk 18:35-43, Jn 9) us to the love of God and the plight of our fellow human beings. He wants us to be reborn from the death (Jn 11:1-44) of sin to a new life of love for God and for our fellow man. Jesus consoled Lazarus's sisters by raising him from the dead (Jn 11:1-44), lifting them out of their mourning. Since many theologians consider leprosy as symbolic of sins, they interpret Jesus's cleansing of the lepers (Mk 1:40-45, Lk 17:11-19) as demonstrating that Jesus was without sin and was unaffected by touching the leper, something that the Jews could not do since they were not without sin. And, he wants to cleanse us of our sins. His love for Lazarus was so great that he wept upon hearing of the death of Lazarus (Jn 11:1-44). But, Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead to redeem us of our sins. If he would die for us, don't you think he will weep for us when we, too, die? All of these things and more were done by Jesus to lead us to forgiveness.

The bridge points out that Jesus knows all about us, as he knew all about the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn 4:4-19). He knows of our goodness and our sins. Notably, Jesus addresses the Samaritan woman first; she does not address him. In fact, she responds with anger - "How can you... ask me... for a drink?" But, Jesus persists, offering spiritual water. Just as he called the Samaritan woman and persisted in calling her, he calls us and persists in calling us. That's how much God loves us - he will continue to call us. And, if we open ourselves to him as the Samaritan woman did, he will tell us our failings. But, rather than reject and punish us for our failings, he will call us to follow him to forgiveness because of his great love for us. How many people would know and be able to tell you of your sins, and still love you so much that they will forgive you and even die for you? I'm guessing not many.

Tom Booth quite effectively begins to convey the love that Jesus has for us, and Jesus's desire that we come to him and ask forgiveness. Jesus gave his life for us, so that we can begin to see the depth of his love. So, go to Jesus. And be forgiven.

Description: God loves us so much that he will actively call us to himself, so that we can be forgiven. A beautiful song by Tom Booth, sung by Jackie Francois.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Come To The Cross

In this lenten season Christians are asked to prepare themselves for Easter, celebrating Jesus Christ rising from the dead and declaring victory over sin and death. During this time, we are guided through the final days of Jesus's life here on earth, and are reminded of his teachings. We are also reminded of the importance of the cross both in the time of Jesus and in our lives.

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Monday, March 6, 2017

40 Days

This is a repost from 2014.

As related previously, music is a key source of inspiration for this writer. The feeling of the music stirs me in a way that words and pictures cannot. And, one of my favorite Christian artists is Matt Maher. As an old time rocker from the 60s and 70s, the meaning of Matt's Christian rock music can be understood by this writer more quickly and more deeply than other genres.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Mighty To Save

When Jesus walked the earth, he preached a message of love, compassion, mercy and peace. These characteristics were demonstrated by Jesus and, by extension, the Father in heaven, and are the goals of all of us as Christians. While Jesus is the perfect expression of these qualities, it is sometimes difficult to understand how we can put them into practice in our lives. One approach to answering the question is to look to ourselves as recipients.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

People look for hope in many places. Some look to drugs or alcohol. Some seek companionships of various forms, respectable and not so respectable. Some just try to ignore their problems, hoping the problems will disappear by themselves. There is an endless list of places where people look. However, there is really only one place that we can look to gain strength, hope and help. That one place is in Jesus Christ.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Now Is The Time

The song "Now Is The Time" by Tom Kendzia is an interesting song, written from the perspective of a discussion with God. Of course, conversations with God are held frequently in the Bible. God first spoke with Adam and Eve in the garden. He spoke with Noah, warning him of the flood. He spoke with Abraham, and Moses. God called Samuel so that Samuel could call David. God called on Isaiah, and told him to preach. This song reminds us of these discussions, and calls us to follow their examples.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

How Great Is Our God

Chris Tomlin has penned the song "How Great Is Our God", describing the wonder and beauty of our God. In keeping with Chris's usual strong Biblical references, he begins with a point of faith in Revelation where, according to Irenaeus, all of our interpretation of the Bible should start. (Irenaeus was taught by Polycarp, who was a disciple of St. John the Evangelist. Irenaeus preached that all of Scripture should be read from the point of view that Jesus is the fulfillment of God's great story, and that only by understanding the meaning of his death and resurrection can the Bible be correctly interpreted.) The song begins "The splendor of a king, clothed in majesty". Think of the imagery in those words. What does it bring to mind? For this writer, it calls to mind a king wearing a robe of royal cloth, in a beautiful, well-adorned and lavish palace. They point to Jesus as Lord and King (Rv 19:16). Though these words are lush, they do not adequately describe the beatific joy we will all feel when we are with Jesus, the King.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Christ The Cornerstone

"The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone" (Ps 118:22).
"He is 'the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone'". (Acts 4:11).
"Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD: See, I am laying a stone in Zion, a stone that has been tested, A precious cornerstone as a sure foundation; whoever puts faith in it will not waver." (Is 28:18)
" it is written: “Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion that will make people stumble  and a rock that will make them fall, and whoever believes in him shall not be put to shame.” (Rom 9:33)

The four verses above all refer to a cornerstone which we Christians believe is Jesus Christ. The four verses, two each from the Old Testament and the New Testament, affirm the belief that God will and did send someone who would be the basis of a new covenant; this person would be rejected by leaders in Israel. Jesus as the cornerstone for our lives is the central theme to the Hillsong United song "Cornerstone", which is based on the hymn "My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less" by Edward Mote.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here

Before his Passover, Jesus told the Apostles that he would ask the Father to send another Advocate to be with them, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles, and filled them with the fortitude to go out and preach the Gospel to the whole world.

Not only did the Holy Spirit embolden the Apostles, the entire scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit. This is the Father speaking through the Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son through love as the author of grace, the Spirit shares the grace and love of the Father and Son with each of us.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

This Is Amazing Grace

Amazing grace. King of glory. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain. A traditional Christian spiritual. The Old Testament. The New Testament. What do these three things have in common? They are all lyrics in the Phil Wickham song "This Is Amazing Grace". This young Christian artist has captured one of the great truths in the Bible: Jesus Christ, the King of glory, died on the cross to save all of us from the bonds of sin. In doing so, Jesus demonstrated to the world the unending mercy of God, a mercy so great that the source of all grace would die for us, none of whom are not worthy of his grace.

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Your Name Rules The Atmosphere

Jesus was born to save us from our sins, to bring us hope, and to show us how to love. He is the source of our peace. We look to him for all of these things, and more. What is more fitting than calling on him and recognizing all that he has done for us?

Hillsong United had the opportunity to record their song "Rule" at a site close to the Dead Sea. This video was filmed at night, under the stars, in the open air. The atmosphere must have truly been inspiring, looking across the region where Jesus lived and died some 2000 years ago. The impact of their surroundings fills this performance

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