May 29, 2008

Perspective and Lost

After watching the season finale of Lost, I thought the following video from Rhett and Link might be a good thing to watch:

Not that I need Perspective, because God bestowed upon us DVR.

May 23, 2008

Music You Should Listen To

I'm not very good at picking favorites. I have too many and I like them for different reasons. Don't even ask me to pick whether I like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (from 1971) or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (from 2005). I can't even pick a favorite between those two.

But when it comes to worship music, I can indeed pick a favorite. Music that makes me want to sing all day, even when my voice becomes hoarse. Music that makes me want to dance and swing my arms around and just revel in the beauty that is God. Love it. What is this music I speak so highly of? Why, it's Enter the Worship Circle.

Here's the thing: I like raw, under-produced music. And that's what this is. They literally sit in a circle and record amazing music taken straight from the Bible or taken straight from their reaction to the Bible and God's love. It's not a group of people who act and sound like they're hyped up speed and the entire time, you can only think of the word "hokey" as you listen to it. It's just real--like you're sitting in a living room with these people and singing. Every time I listen to these CDs I feel a renewed eagerness to learn the guitar and djembe.

They just came out with the Fourth Circle CD and it's a bit different than the other three and in this case, that's not a bad thing. It has a fiddle, mandolin and another weird instrument in track four that I don't recognize. It has songs like the other three CDs but also works in some blues and gospel sounds.

They're also doing a series title Chair and a Microphone. It's literally a musician and one instrument being recorded--and that's it. So simple. It's also amazing to see how short songs become when you don't add a lot of extra instrumentation. But that's just a side note.

That's my commercial for today. I wanted to spread the love and let all three of my readers know about this amazing music. Go check it out.

May 6, 2008

Finding Joy in These Days

The whole world seems to be in a bad mood. And I can't really blame them. As excited as I am to see January 20, 2009 come, this election season seems to be dragging on endlessly as everyone waits to see which Democrat will finally win the nomination and as we try to figure out if McCain will just be another Bush. Add that to a falling economy, rising gas prices and rising food prices and it's the perfect recipe for a bad mood.

And that's just in the U.S. The rising cost of food is crippling other countries and a cyclone in Myanmar just killed 22,000+ people. The war in Iraq keeps dragging on and the situations in Zimbabwe and Sudan don't seem to be improving. What a world.

Joy has always been a concept that I had a hard time with. I remember in high school, my church's pastor (not the same church I attend now) was dealing with a rebellious daughter. His other daughter had always been involved with the youth group at our church (she's a few years older) and acted as a sort of mentor to the girls. And amidst these sad circumstances she was always smiling and full of joy. My friend and I asked her how she always seemed happy and her answer was quite simple: She chose joy. So simple to say but excruciatingly hard to do. I've heard it said that happiness is based on circumstances and joy is based on attitude. This is when I wish God loved lists as much as I do. Then he could have given me a five-step process to being joyful:

1. Eat chocolate
2. Pray the exact prayer found in 2 Hesitations 3:14
3. Take two ibuprofen
4. Drink a margarita
5. Pray the prayer again and voila! Joy!

But our God is not a God of lists or five-step processes or 40 days to a new you. He's a God that wants us to pray and delight in Him. I just started reading Desiring God last night for the first time (I know, I know--it's a classic. But I'm slow on the non-fiction reading). I had heard the concept of Christian hedonism before and I had heard John Piper being quoted as saying "God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him." But in these trying times (both in my own life and in the world around me), it rang more true than ever before.

A few weeks ago I was reading a blog and the author had a link to some of her music she'd recorded. The first song she linked to was "Weight of Joy." I put this song on repeat, downloaded it and then played in on repeat for two weeks. It's such a simple song but has such a profound message. It basically says that sometime during life she (I) was juggling and struggling with everything, and she dropped God's joy in order to "make room" for other things. "Relieved of its weight I trudged forever on, but the absence of joy had transferred to a burden on my heart." She continues on until she ends her journey on her face. God finds her "hollow and alone" and He gets down on His knees and hands her joy.

He gets down on His holy knees and handed her joy.

I'm not saying I'm depressed and on the verge of a breakdown. I'm nowhere near that. But reading the news and hearing about the struggles in the lives of others and in my own life--it can be burdensome and it's easy to drop God's joy. So many questions about the future and what this means or what that means or trying to ignore loneliness or trying to learn about a God who can seem so distant--it can all be overwhelming. But through it all, He's right there, whispering softly in my ear "My child you dropped this back there" and He hands me joy.

Psalm 37:4-6
Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;

trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.