Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Day In... Day Out...

Many of you know this already, but if you didn't, I am a runner.
I enjoy waking up in the early morning hours and leaving for a long run.  I have convinced myself that the morning is best, and it must be for me.  Others I meet, enjoy running in the afternoon or evening.  Not me - I am a morning runner.
Even better in the cold.

Over the years though, I have to say that there are times were my running times are better than others.  I mean, that after a short or a long run, I'll come back to the house and I may feel great.  Other times, not so much.

That is what has frustrated me.  I am sure that there is some sort of scientific explanation to this.  Why are there good runs and bad runs?  I am sure it probably has a lot to do with what I ate the day before, how I slept that night and a million other factors.

Either way, I run.

The other day I was thinking about my quiet time with God.  In true confession, I have to admit that there are times where I open the Word of God and feel like God is speaking directly to me. Almost as if His voice is audible.  On the other hand, there are times where I feel nothing.

Do you ever experience the same thing?  Sometimes the moments with God seem to be a conversation with the ceiling or the table... Empty or vacant.

I have often found that in days like that, there is a temptation to quit.  To leave the pattern of devotions because it's not working.
I mean, if God wanted me to get something out of this, then wouldn't He just show up or something?
Do I really need to be in the Word everyday?
God obviously doesn't need me.
I have a really busy day scheduled. I don't think I have much time left.
The downward spiral begins...

In running, the moment that I start making excuses not to run is the same moment that I start to lose my focus.  All my training goes out the window... The spiral begins. So I run, not to always find those good runs, but because I know it's what I should do.  What's what is good for me.

Same with a quiet time.  Our goal in them is not to continually look for those spiritual highs, but to just spend time with God.  For in our attempts for the spiritual high, we may end up losing who God is.  For He meets us, not just in those good days, but also in those bad days.

Solomon in the book of Proverbs wrote, "Those who seek me (God) diligently find me." Jesus said as recorded in the book of Matthew, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness."
 Day in and day out.  It will do your heart good.

Psalm 8-11 
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Friday, November 8, 2013

I Want to Live My Life Like That

My personal vision statement is:

To declare the Supremacy of God found in the Gospel of God through Jesus Christ.

I want to invest my God given talents to further the impact of His Kingdom in the world.

Martin Lloyd-Jones said, “The true Christian cannot be hid, he cannot escape notice.  A man truly living and functioning as a Christian will stand out.  He will be like salt; he will be like a city set on a hill, a candle set upon a candlestick. But we can also add this further word. The true Christian does not even desire to hide his light.  He sees how ridiculous it is to claim to be a Christian and yet deliberately to try to hide the fact.  A man who truly realizes what it means to be a Christian, who realizes all that the grace of God has meant to him and done for him, and understands that, ultimately, God has done this in order that he may influence others, is a man who cannot conceal it.  Not only that; he does not desire to conceal it, because he argues thus, ‘Ultimately the object and purpose of it all is that I might be functioning in this way.’”

I want to live my life in the same way.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Music I'm Listening To

It's been a while since I posted about some the new albums I've been digging into lately, so I thought that it would be good.

We know he’s talented. He’s produced over a hundred records. He’s played in multiple bands. He’s put out half a dozen solo albums. We all know Aaron Sprinkle is talented. But do you really know Aaron Sprinkle?

If you’ve listened to his latest record, you do.

Over the course of twenty years, Sprinkle’s life has been dedicated to creating and producing music. Outside of his own musical endeavors (playing in bands Poor Old Lu, Fair, and Rose Blossom Punch, and making his solo material), Sprinkle has engineered and molded records for countless talented musicians, building for himself the much-deserved reputation as an outstanding producer.
It’s through his exposure in the studio that he’s been able to cultivate his own style as an artist. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing people that inspire me,” he explains, “They push me to grow and explore and hone things that I wouldn’t have had on my radar before… like this record. You would have never heard anything like my new music on any other record I’ve done.”

It’s true.

Water & Guns, Sprinkle’s fifth solo album, is unlike anything he’s done before. Yes,
exposure to varying musical styles expresses itself tangibly in each track, but there’s something new in the mix – his electronic roots. Reaching back to his musical beginnings, Sprinkle douses his new material in colorful synth, programmed percussion, and keys that sprout and flourish, making this his most vibrant record to date. It’s a pop album – its catchy melodies, synth, and acoustic guitar color the entirety of the record – but for Sprinkle, it’s more than that.

“I started making a record that I thought people would want me to make, and ended up making a record that I just really enjoyed,” he confesses, explaining, “I wanted to portray who I am now. I wanted this album to reflect me.” Musically it’s an epic, pop album. Lyrically, it’s a journal. The record’s upbeat sound juxtaposes its heavy message in a flawless marriage of playful purposefulness.

With songs that deal with topics from grace and blessings to sin and death, Sprinkle furthers, “this record took so long because I changed my mind in the middle of it – I thought no, this is isn’t what I want to do. I want to write about real things I’m dealing with.”

A perfect example is the track “Alright”, a song that could easily act as the album’s anthem. The lyrics, “When your life rips at the seams / When it seems like the worst is really happening / When you can’t see the light / It’ll be alright” encourage perseverance through trial. The electronic, danceable track breathes joy in sound and hope in content.

Similarly is the springy track “River of Lead”, an optimistic sounding song that couples lively keys and an upbeat, sing-able chorus with a weighty lyrical topic. Singing about being consumed, Sprinkle delicately addresses human nature’s attraction to destructive behavior. The lyrics, “Down this river of lead I roll / Feel it pull me underneath / If the fire don’t kill me the water will / Feel it pull me underneath / Lay me down to sleep / I pray there’s something left to keep” transparently speaks to all-consuming struggles and the desperation for relief.

“Whisper Something”, “Heatstroke”, and “I’ve Missed You” offer the same mixture; profound lyrics that cover themes of reconciliation, death, and longing are woven within strong, accessible beats and addictive melodies. Sprinkle curated an album that speaks to both contemporary, pop-enthused music lovers and those thirsty for poetic lyrics that resonate.

“I want to relate to people,” says Sprinkle, “I wanted to be honest, both musically and lyrically. I’ve realized that every time I’ve been brutally honest in an intimate setting, I’ve never been greeted poorly. This is what I like, this is how I feel, this is who I am.”

This is Aaron Sprinkle. Enjoy.  

Beautiful Eulogy is a Portland, Oregon-based group made up of artists Braille, Odd Thomas
and Courtland Urbano. The group introduces a distinct and directive sound that’s driven by a desire to worship and glorify the God of the Bible, based in the context of its members’ hip-hop roots and shaped by influences like electronic music, folk songs and old hymns.

The natural way Beautiful Eulogy came together parallels its organic creative process. As its members cooperated on various musical and church-related projects, they realized their chemistry and the opportunity before them to form a completely collaborative group that would emphasize a new gestalt — one that would allow them to steer away from a pure hip-hop trajectory while holding onto its origins, and that would free them from the courses of their solo careers while applying their individual talents to a collective. 

“We’re reinventing ourselves together,” the group says. Its members enjoy their creative
freedom within self-imposed boundaries, by predefining their work’s message, sound and purpose. This type of intentionality is central to the way Beautiful Eulogy creates songs, settling on concepts and driving them through a process and reprocess of musical and lyrical shaping.

The resulting tracks are lyric-driven, but contain an equally deliberate musical backdrop. This panorama enhances and clarifies the presentation of weighty spiritual and theological truths, inviting listeners into the artists’ ideas about and experiences of God. Listeners may have first heard Beautiful Eulogy on Rapzilla’s King Kulture compilation, or featured on “Misconceptions,” a track from Lecrae’s Church Clothes mixtape. Beautiful Eulogy’s debut album, Satellite Kite, serves as a foundational prototype of the group’s approach and ambition.

Their new album, Instruments of Mercy is available now.

Having joined the Christian group, FFH, in 1999 and contributed to seven No. 1 radio
singles, seven GMA Dove Award nominations, and records that have sold into the millions, Michael Boggs is no stranger to the music scene. When FFH took some time off the road in the fall of 2006, Michael stepped into the role of worship leader at a fast growing young adult gathering, Kairos, in Brentwood, TN hosting nearly 1200 college students and young adults every week, and has served as a regular guest worship leader at various churches, including Max Lucado’s church, Oak Hills, in San Antonio, Texas.

Although Michael continues to keep a rigorous, solo-touring schedule performing and leading worship over 100 dates a year, he has established himself within the music community as one of the foremost sought after songwriters. Lending his songwriting ability to other artists, such as FFH, Diamond Rio, Big Daddy Weave, Anthony Evans, Josh Bates, Jason Crabb, Selah, Matt Maher and more have garnered him multiple Top 10 singles as well as a featured song in the major motion picture release “Facing the Giants.”

In April 2010, Michael took home the Dove award for Country Recorded Song of the Year for “Somebody Like Me,” at the Gospel Music Association Dove Awards where he was also nominated for Songwriter of the Year and Song of the Year. The same year, “Somebody Like Me” served as the featured single from Jason Crabb’s self-titled Grammy award-winning album.

In the Fall of 2010, Michael’s song, “Said and Done,” was featured on the Max Lucado: Out
Live Your Life CD, and carried the banner for Lucado to AC/ CHR/ Soft AC radio. “I’m proud to have this single carrying the message of Out Live Your Life to listeners,” says New York Times best-selling author, Max Lucado. Following the Out Live Your Life release, Michael Boggs debuted his first solo record, More Than Moved, on October 19, 2010 through in:ciite and Word Entertainment.

In February 2011, Diamond Rio’s album, The Reason, received a first-time Grammy, spotlighting “Reaching For Me” as one of the album’s featured singles. Matt Maher’s latest radio single, “Turn Around,” which Michael penned with the artist, topped the charts and remained in the Top 10 for over 16 weeks and earned him a 2012 ASCAP Award. In 2012, Michael was also honored as CCM’s Songwriter of the Year.

When asked where this journey is taking him now, he laughs and says, “Those plans have never been up to me. I’ll just continue to follow Jesus.” His new EP is titled More Like a Lion.

How about you? What's new on your playlist?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Your Best Life Now

Well, he said it.
He put it out there for the world to hear it.
 The Strange Fire conference is going on right now that includes Dr. MacArthur, RC Sproul, Joni Eareckson Tada and others. This conference is based off of a new book from MacArthur under the same name. You can find it by clicking here

A while back I interview Dr. MacArthur about his new book.
Listen to it here:

Read it by clicking here.

So what are your thoughts after reading the quote above?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Peace That Destroys Anxiety

Recently, after a wild day, I was in bed tossing and turning. Unable to get to sleep. My mind was plagued by both the things of the day as well as troubled for some things that I had to face in the future.

In the past, I would try to "ride the wave" of despair and let what ever was bothering me leave. It never helped. I felt like the "wave" was never fun and my mind would continue to travel a downward spiral.  Sometimes those worries would come like a ton of bricks, weighting me down.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever been so troubled in your heart that it felt like there was no way out? No way to rise above? 

Thankfully, there is always the Word. Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippian church, "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (4:7)

So that night I got up. I was tired of wrestling with the situation and I needed to hear from God. I needed to pray to the Father.

At first I thought that I should just open the Bible and read where ever "the Spirit led" type of thing. Then I thought, "No, Isaiah. I should start there." The truth was, the Spirit led me to what I really needed. There was a random piece of paper stuck at Psalm 120. So that is where I started.

Psalm 120 starts "In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me..."
This was for me, for I was filled with distress. "Oh God, you are giving me the words to say."

I continued. Psalm 121, "I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper..."

Like a balm to my soul. I continued to pray. I continued to read. 
Psalm 122. 123. 124. 125 and 126.

As I was reading I keep "hearing" God speak to me. He kept "saying" that He had all things taken care of. I was worrying for nothing.

My heart was calming. My mind was changing. God was at work.

At the end of Psalm 126, the verse states, "He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bring his sheaves with him."

That night, I rested. I was able to go to bed and sleep. His peace destroyed the anxiety that my heart was wrestling with.

Have you ever felt like God was speaking to you? What verses has He used in your life?