Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Worship music lyrics

My friend Scott Lenger, and I are going to start a little blog thread about worship music lyrics. We were inspired by a hopelessly bad blog about the subject (I won't link here. . .:) ) and thought we could contribute to the discussion. Off we go. . . .


Worship music lyrics:

As a worship leader and song-writer I interact with worship music lyrics alot. I try to write them, I sing them, I change them :), etc. . .

There are a few priorites I have when choosing songs and writing songs:

1. The lyrics should be biblically based and/or theologically correct.

I know that sounds really boring. But, that's our issue, not the song in question. When we sing we want to, ideally, sing what God has written for us to sing (Psalms. . the various songs in the N.T.) and when we write a "new song" we want it to be in line with what the bible teaches. If a song is way off on this. . . . I don't sing it. If it's close, I might try to change it, or at least make sure I talk about it with the congregation as we're learning the song.

Example: "Above all" by Lenny LeBlanc. I don't think he's a terrible person or anything,. . i've heard explanations of this song that work. . .but, for me to sing "you thought of ME, above all" (emphasis mine) would be untrue.

2. The lyrics should make sense or ring true when expressing emotion.

You save yourself alot of headache here if you have a balance of emotionally expressive songs and truth-declaring songs. Alas, many churches are heavy on the emotional expression, so this is a problem to deal with.

Some examples:

in the uber-famous worship song, "Breathe", it repeats the phrase "I'm desperate for You". I think I know what the author was trying to say, but it's not true that we are "desperate for God", in the sense that we don't have him, or he's holding out on us. If we're trying to convey our need for God, than I'm ok with it. Perhaps there is a better word than desperate.

In "Knowing You" it says "You're my all, you're the best. . "
I just feel funny calling God, "the best" like he's my mailman or something. . . "you're the best, dude!"

In "In the secret" by It says '"I want to touch you, I want to see your face". With how quick that line goes by in the song, I think it's important to remember that we can't touch God. . (folks died in the O.T. touching even the Holy Objects). Whether we will touch His Face in Heaven is up for debate, but, again, it would require some explanation in the service (and I'm not sure how that would go)

I don't use any of those songs above. Not a definitive statement, just my preference.

3. The song must be singable

This is a hard point, because there are many schools of thought. One way is to have everything easy to sing so that all feel comfortable singing the words. The other says that we should key things a bit high so that folks will have to "sing out" in order to participate, and will hopefully connect their heart to the song more as they really have to go for it while singing.

Being a tenor, I usually err on the side of #2, first of all, because I can't sing many of the low notes, and because I do think folks sing more passionately, when it all isn't "easy or comfortable".

David Crowder songs are another interesting topic, because for most of us, they're not phrases and melodies that we would be used to singing. However, his church sings them out with all their might. . . so this is a "church by church" issue.

This is already too long, so I'll get out. Your turn, Scott!


Monday, February 23, 2009

Mobile, Hostile, Versatile

Hi all,

Malachi started walking recently, and so we finally tried to get it on tape. He's a bit shrewd as to when he'll actually begin to walk :). With the "encouragement" from Provi, and the bribe of a Lego from Eden, how could he resist?. I also like how he tries to reach the lego without walking. Apparently, he thinks he is very tall and can lean over, grunt, and reach it from 5 feet away. :)

and, here's one of him taking off a bit too fast. . .(and his mom laughing at him in the background :) )

ps. If anyone knows anything about the Canon 950, It seems a bit blurry to me during videos now. Pictures still look great, but not videos. I don't know if I need more space on my card or what?

Get 'em Matt!

I've pubbed Matt Chandler on this blog many times. Apparently the guys at Desiring God were listening, and they had him speak at the pastor's conference last month :) . Anyway, this is a great clip and a helpful reminder of the mistakes we can make in the church when we get away from the gospel and bringing what Christ did to bear on EVERY issue.

HT: Justin Taylor

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kids, stand up for your rights!!!

If you have kids, or have ever taken kids to the doctor's office, this is hilarious. :)

Study: Most Children Strongly Opposed To Children's Healthcare

HT: Deyoung, restless, and reformed

Check out some of the items on the ticker too! I love the Onion :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Steroids and the universal human knowledge of sin

Is anyone else sick of hearing about steriods?

Well, I am, and I"m not. . . .at the same time. I feel like Baseball should probably just shut down for a while, or perhaps actually release records/tests/concealed docs. . .from the last 7-8 years so that everything's on the table. So, in that sense, its still compelling to me. . . how deep does the rabbit hole go?

Its interesting how this has brought out the universal judge in all of us. Even the sportwriters who are known for hyperbole, false dichotomies, and overstatement, suddenly want to know the WHOLE TRUTH about steriods. Everyone is disgusted with the half-truths, the admissions of wrongdoing without details, the "not wanting to talk about the past". Even A-Rod's admission was devoid of some authenticity. Even if he doesn't remember exactly what he took (which, I actually believe. . . )a true apology means he goes back and finds out what he took so that he can apologize appropriately.

Why all the uproar? Why the judging? Why the handwringing? Why the "I don't know if I'll ever go back to the ballpark again!"

Because we know something is wrong here. . .we understand cheating. We feel like we were had, like the truth was kept from us, while folks made money off of us.

We understand Sin at some level. Especially when others are committing them. :) We have a conscience. Suddenly the relativists and the "anything goes" crowd are hardly heard from. We know something is wrong.

We know.

We know.

A disconnect

Regarding the jobs created by the current stimulus package. . . . . . Does the government really think that 5,000 people laid off by Sun Microsystems, . . . who were software engineers, project managers, developers, etc. . . . are going to go build bridges and fix roads? Those are two very different jobs and two very different giftings. The white collar folks are probably not going to be too excited about fixing our country's highways. It seems to me that many of the jobs lost (at least in my area) were from the tech sector. I know Detroit lost many, many jobs, but I'm not even sure our car manufacturers are going to go work on bridges. It doesn't seem to add up to me.

Just a thought. . . .

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A little frustrated. . . .

I must say. . the economic stimulus package and the debate therein is frustrating the old random mind these days.

President Obama is framing the discussion that if you don't agree with the package than you are being "partisan" and you have ulterior motives. Also, according to him, he's the one who cares about the country, and jobs, and those against the package care about politics.

(first off, this is fear mongering in the worst degree., . . but we'll stay away from attacking Obama here)

Now, the reason I am against the stimulus package is because I think it's a bad bill. . . a terrible bill in fact. This has nothing to do with my party affiliation (I don't have one) and it has nothing to do with me hoping to gain the "I told you so" upper hand in the next election.

Are there Republicans who might be operating this way? Sure,. . who knows. What I do know is that some of the Republicans have had very, very cogent concerns about the bill and have disagreed with it ON IT'S MERIT'S, not for political reasons.

Here's an article that explains just how bad this bill is: wow Don't take my word for it. . this guy is from Harvard.

Here's an article that shows some of the dumber pork projects lumped in with this bill Again, this isn't Rush Limbaugh or anything, .. it's the Wall St. Journal.

(I thought the President was against pork like this? And, even taking the idealism out of it for a minute. . . .in our current state, could we not skip the pork for this one bill? Just this once? )

Bottom line, I don't like the bill because I think it's a bad bill, not because:
a) I'm a republican (I"m not)
b) I don't want job creation (I do, I think this bill might hurt)
c) I don't care about the economy(I do, I think this bill will definitely hurt)
d) have a vendetta(I don't)


Monday, February 9, 2009

Know your strengths, Know your environment (grammy wrap-up)

Let me apologize for encouraging everyone to watch what was truly, a mediocre grammy awards. There have been many that were better. There are a few reasons why. . . here are my random thoughts.

--Know your strengths: This one goes out to Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift (we won't speak of Miley Cyrus), and U2.

You have to know what "butters your bread" as they say. Carrie Underwood is a great singer, not dancer (nor dresser, apparently), or entertainer. So, she came out and did an uptempo, dancy, rocker that was not great. She sang really well, as always, but this kind of song is not her "A" game. Now, I know she's done what I've described a few times, so maybe she was trying to change it up, but it didn't work for me. Terrible, terrible outfit as well.

U2. Now, in their defense, they were obviously pumping their new album (march 8th release date, check it). But, they do best at meaningful songs, not mindless dance jams. "Get Your Boots on" does JAM. I like the song alot. But, the lyrics are pretty hard to understand, and the guys are 50. These kind of u2 songs only work in their live shows now. . . .with the most ridiculous lights and sound, you've ever seen/heard. They tried to pull this off with the video screen, but it fell a bit short, in my opinion. It's not that they have to do an acoustic ballad or something, but "Boots" is the fastest song they've recorded since the 90's. They should've picked another tune off the new album.

Taylor Swift: Not good enough of a vocalist to go basically un-accompanied. She's a good songwriter, but she needs some back up singers, and a loud band. Sorry, she's a just a little weak on vocal technique and power.

Know your strengths.

Know Your environment:

This goes out to Coldplay, u2, whoever wrote the script for Justin Timberlake, MIA, etc. . .

The problem that Coldplay, u2, other big bands have at the Grammys is that they're performing without all the bells and whistles they usually have, and most folks are sitting down (besides the few hundred people being paid to go up front and jump up and down). Chris Martin's shtick looks a bit funny in front of a bunch of people sitting down.(and they looked like the wiggles. . .thanks Jody :)

You have to bring your own energy to the stage:
(See, Radiohead, who was great. . and Ricky Martin, circa 1998. . . one of the best grammy performances ever)A band of 4 guys, trying to rock it out, by themselves is hard to pull off at the grammys with the vibe in that room.


It was a bummer that MIA and T.I. messed up what was a historic rap moment. It was glaring who had the talent there and who didn't. And, I'm sorry, but it was not heroic for MIA to perform (lip synching, by the way, she was the only one in this spot) the day her baby was due. Her horrible outfit detracted from some serious greatness from Kanye and Jay-Z.

Miley and Taylor: We've covered that

Katy Perry: sad

Sugarland: The girl in Sugarland has gone from "wow, she's a really good singer, but a little twangy. . . they have some good songs". to. . . . . "she's really annoying".

The Poorly produced mash-ups: Al Green and JT, . . JT and T.I.,. . . Keith Urban, John Mayer, BB King, etc. . . Smokey, Jamie Foxx and two other guys singing the Four Tops.
The grammy's have pulled this off in years past. . this year, not so much.

Not having the Jazz or Classical piece: I know it seems like a "token" classical piece, but it adds some perspective to the show, and it's usually the best of the best. If you're going to have Katy Perry perform, you could get Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall, Boston Pops, Placido Domingo, etc. . . Just so we all get some humility about our short moment in the history of music. I missed it this year.


The Lil Wayne/New Orleans thing was cool. Robin Thicke was a suprise. . .that dude can sing.

Radiohead: Very cool, hey, I used to be in marching band. Thom Yorke wisely understood that this crowd would not "get" he and his bandmates up there by themselves (see: Coldplay), . . it was the best performance of the night.

Allison Krauss/Robert Plant: This was great as well. I still don't understand T-Bone's equipment, or his tone, but I like it :) . They rightly won album of the year, it's great music.

Really, the biggest problem last night was the production/flow of the show. And, the sound guy gets a D -. You couldn't hear Bono singing. . .Keith Urban's mic was off. .(there were many mics off for a few seconds). . the mix wasn't great. When the mix is good, shows like last night can be amazing.
The writing was awkward and the flow of the night was not smooth.

I promise to write less about the grammys next year. :)
Here's the radiohead clip for your enjoyment. rock and roll


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Shameless Proud Father Baby videos

Just call me Bob Saget. . . .(Does anyone else find it sad that Arsenio Hall is hosting a "funny videos" show? My, how the mighty have fallen. . where's the dog pound? )

Anyway, here's some fun videos of Malachi. Basically, the dude loves music. . . which is convenient, because its always happening at our house. He especially loves music from his homeland, which we were able to find on Youtube. So, here's some video of him rocking out!!

and another. . . .

And here's one of his favorite games. . . the "flop down on the couch while everyone watches me" game. good times. . .

Friday, February 6, 2009

Satriani vs. Coldplay (music nerd alert, long post)

Did I mention the Grammys are Sunday night???? I"m a little excited. . see former post.

Anyway, one of the controversies is Joe Satriani's pending lawsuit against Coldplay for copying a song of his for their hit, "Viva la Vida".
Apparently, Satriani is "rooting" for "his" song to win. Coldplay responded to the accusations a while ago.

I'll post the youtube link here for you to listen for yourself.

My opinion:

You cannot copyright Chord Progressions. . . . .anyone who plays music knows that we're all using the same chords :) and sometimes, in the same order. At any rate, the harmonic structure of a song is never really unique only to that song. . .we're all ripping off Bach.

Now, you can copyright a "melody" or tune that you came up with (even though it's likely not unique either. . . which is what seems to have happened to Coldplay).
Melodies are unique to their songs, and the speed and key with which they are played, etc. . . are property of the artist.

After listening to the clips, the melody of the verse is the same between the two songs (although, allegedly in a different key. . . . the youtube guy might have been messing with the keys :) ) .

But, the coldplay song goes to a few different places after the main verse riff. Most notably, THE CHORUS :) "I hear Jerusalem bells. . "etc. . . So, the verse of the song is similar, but not the chorus, or instrumentals.

Actually, the phrasing in "Viva" is totally different because the vocal note goes up after repeating the phrase twice in the verses. Satriania does not do this with his guitar part.

All in all, I don't think Satriani has a case. Melodic fragments are shared between many, many songs. Do we need to talk about all of the songs that use some form of Pachabel's Canon? This is a coincidence, and all parties need to just walk away and get over it. This is a far cry from Vanilla Ice adding one note to David Bowie's "under pressure", copying the entire groove and selling a zillion records with "ice, ice baby". Coldplay doesn't lift anything like that from Joe Satriani.

ps: if you're interested in a discussion of this kind of thing,. . check this out here

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Good stuff

HT: 9Marks blog

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Holy Hyperbole Batman!!!

Cautionary Tale

Ok, so I'm one of the last nerds to continue following American Idol. If you want to judge, that's fine. . . it's one of the few shows I can watch with my kids, so we enjoy it each week.

It's good to use whatever opportunities you have, as a parent, for teachable moments. Tonight's American Idol featured some of the worst behavior by females that I've seen since High School. I decided to use this opportunity to talk to the girls about how we treat each other. "Those girls weren't being nice to each other huh?". . ."What happened to them?"

Provi and Eden: "They didn't make it through to the next round!".

Well, perhaps not the most profound lesson was learned :) but, we did talk about being kind to each other and speaking nicely.
Sometimes we should reject what culture has for us, sometimes should accept it,. . .and sometimes, like tonight, we should seek to redeem culture for the sake of the Kingdom, or in this case, parenting.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Book Recommendation

I don't really read fiction very often. I get my fiction from movies, t.v., and whatever my 4-year-old son says :)

But, I was recommended this book: "Peace like a River" by Leif Enger. It was written about 8 years ago.

It is absolutely fantastic, a page turner, stirs the heart, makes you long for bigger things in life, etc. . . I absolutely recommend it.
(Especially for those of you addicted to the teen trash genre, or as I like to call it:
"Pretty Vampires with Problems")

Peace like a river



The USOC "Views differently" the use of Marijuana as opposed to performance enhancing drugs. (re: Michael Phelps)

HA! Yes, duh. . . .

What's the opposite of a performance enhancing drug? A performance destroying drug?

Great line. . . . . .

Monday, February 2, 2009

Breadth and Depth

I'm not the world's biggest John MacArthur fan, but I congratulate him on 40 years of ministry at his home church in California. I heard this quote from him, and thought it was great:

Worry about the depth of your ministry,. . and let God deal with the breadth of your ministry.

That may seem like a no-brainer. . . "yeah, we'll make sure we're going deep and teaching sound doctine, and leave the results to God."
Ironically enough, many modern churches do exactly the opposite and spend all their time worrying about the breadth of their ministry (how big their church is) and let God "handle" the depth of the ministry by hoping folks go "deeper" than the weekend services on their own (not necessarily a bad thing) and simply suggesting resources from outside the church for their spiritual development. They'll say "we'll leave the conviction to God".

We should have large gatherings that are deep and full of truth (and grace and joy), we should encourage people to live in communites marked by depth and truth (and grace and joy), and let our ministry be known as a place where those things happen. God will do what He wills with the "success" of a church doing those things. And those are Hands you like to be in.

CBS reads this blog!

Ok, maybe not. . . but I'm excited for this series. Maybe the wedding will actually be genuine, unlike other loathsome reality match-up shows which will go unnamed here.

New Series

You. . . . Complete. . . . Me (tear)

I watched a fascinating 20/20 on Friday night. ABC spent the hour talking to an Indian couple (living in the U.S.) about their arranged marriage. This couple, both independently, asked their parents to find a suitable spouse for them. . .and were matched up by their parents. They then went out for about 3 weeks, got engaged, and subsequently, . . married. They now live in the U.S. and the show was comparing and contrasting dating/courting with a few couples in America who were on their first few dates.

It was interesting on so many levels. First of all, you should know that in India 5-7% of all marriages end in divorce (yes, you can get a divorce there). In the U.S. that number is, of course, 50%. When they interviewed the bride she said that she didn't notice physical attraction first, but saw a man she could respect, and agreed to marry him. She also said, when asked "how long to you plan to be married?" "Forever!", enthusiastically. (this little episode, in itself, was a huge indictment of our culture, 90 percent of our T.V., and 99.9 percent of our "dating" literature)

They talked to a relationship expert of Indian descent who now practices in America, and she said the biggest problem with the way we date and court in American was that we were looking for a "life saver" while Indian singles are looking for a "life partner". She brought up the famous scene from Jerry McGuire, (ridiculed at the top of this post :) ) as a terrible example of how to view your spouse. She's right, in a sense, that we don't need any human to "complete" us, even though we feel like it at times. The truth of the matter is, if we're matched right, the other person just brings their complete (growing) self to the table, as do we, and you start to help each other as your strengths compliment their weaknesses and vice versa. Only Christ "completes" us with his work in our hearts by the Spirit. We're not perfect, but we don't need "completing" by another human. . . perhaps that's a whole nother post. . . . alas, I press on. . . .

So, of course, as we look to another person to complete us, or to be perfect, (since we know we're not), we are disappointed, and in America, alot of us get divorced at that point.

I love the verbage , that in India, folks are looking for a"life partner" that they will fall in love with as they grow together. Most of this falling in love takes place after marriage. Risky, some in our culture would say,. . . but the numbers don't lie.

(actually, if we're being honest. . . most healthy couples in America do most of their "falling in love" after marriage too. . . but that doesn't make good movies, or sell books, or make us responsible for our feelings, . . ouch)

It's also huge, that they (the arranged marriage folks) are not looking at their spouse as a commodity (as some men, especially, in America do early on. . "my girl is so hot!!!"), but as someone that they're going to do life with and that they will grow to love. It also re-inforces a biblical point that love is an act of the will and something we must decide to do every morning with our spouse, whether we feel like it or not. Thus, your "partner" will become more and more attractive to you, because you're deciding to love them more and more.

This may sound hopelessly un-romantic, . . and maybe it is. But, if you've been married for a while (I have been for 10 years), you know the feeling of "I'm with this person, we're going to do life together, I so get them and where they're coming from" . . . is a much more joyful, and fulfilling feeling than "they're hot, let's go get it on".

Of course, there are problems with arranged marriages but maybe if we:

a) started to look at our significant other as someone we will do life with and partner with on all things. . . and not a commodity, or contest winner, . . . we'd have more clarity in our dating

b) started to consult our parents (if there's a healthy relationship there) on these matters as they know us best, . . even though we don't think so when we're 14. . .

c) as married people, made the decision to love more often (how about daily :)!!!) instead of waiting for our spouse to come around and act like we want before we love them.

d) take divorce out of our vocabulary (except for the biblical discussions and reasons) by viewing our spouse as our life partner with whom we'll figure things out with, grow with, be patient with, and love.