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Christmas’18

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

The past few Decembers I have taken to posting something about Christmas. A song. A devotion I read. A quote. I plan to do that this month as well.

My first post is by my favorite singer probably of all time. He made his mark with a group in the 60s and then went solo in the 70s and beyond. He put out a Christmas recording (what else should I call it?) back in 2008 and it stays close to my truck CD player for the whole month in December.  One year it never left the player. 🙂  What’s funny is I have a compilation of his 40 greatest hits and the title tune from his CD is on it: “I Love Christmas.” When that song comes on it truly is Christmas in July.

Anyway, in keeping with the real meaning and spirit of Christmas, I’d like to feature what I consider one of the highlights of the CD. Hope you enjoy it.

And Floyd: you know I had to do this.  In fact, I included this just for you!

HYMNS

Friday, November 16th, 2018

I am not preaching this weekend. My brother, Rob, will be here to sing and preach. So, I decided I would do something that I hope will set your heart right.

Worship is often confined to what happens on Sunday morning at “church.” I’m a firm believer though that worship is 24/7. However, focusing on the time we gather together on Sunday morning is what I’d like to do in this post. We gather. We sing. We partake of the Lord’s Supper. We give our tithes and offerings. We preach. (Okay…I preach). 🙂  But chances are when we talk about worship to the everyday attender most will point to the singing.

Sunday morning singing has gone through several time warps. It used to be it was all hymns. (I still love Great is Thy Faithfulness and Holy, Holy, Holy and some others like them). Then a few spiritual songs were added (think I’ll Fly Away or When We All Get to Heaven). The Jesus Movement brought in a whole new type of song, both worship songs but also “feel good about me” songs. The evolution of those types of songs has been slow but eventually we morphed into a band, a group of singers, guitarists, drummers, and (choke choke) light shows, smoke machines, and theatrics. Some have even introduced “secular” songs into a worship set (Like the church that played Highway to Hell to introduce their Easter service one time).  We now have songs that last 5-7 minutes due to repetition of verses and choruses. And, of course, there is the resident “jump around and act crazy” songs mistakenly substituted for and called worship. Now…please understand I love some of the music played. I like a beat, even a rockier kind. But there is a point of saturation.

Enter a new breed and new wave of hymns. Yep, that’s right hymns. I never thought I’d be saying it but I welcome it. Not going back to singing the old ones that drone on, but new ones which highlight God the Father and Jesus the Son in meaningful, heart-touching words and music. I’ve come across some of the “new” hymns lately by a church out of Australia (no not Hillsong). The group is called CityAlight. I have been touched by their music and lyrics. You know I have been if I tell you I have been to the Y the past two days and have had them in my ears. I’d encourage you to listen to them on your own but I would like to highlight a few songs that have touched me deeply.  No comment will be made by me. I’d like you to listen and then let me know what you think. I’m encouraging our Worship Team to pursue learning some of this music.

First, this was the first one I ever heard by them.

Second, this one is a cry of my heart.

Third, I heard this one today and it jolted me.

Fourth, this one is for good measure.  🙂

I hope you will check out more of their music. I believe you will be blessed beyond measure.  Have a great weekend of worship! Enjoy being in the Father’s presence.

Nostalgia#4

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

It all started with this song.  I had heard it sung on the very first worship CD I ever bought- The Passion Band’s second recording. Christy Nockels actually sang it. In 1999 I went through a revolution in my faith. After spending so many years in legalism, I had started getting out of that around 1995. I had read a book called Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur which rocked my world.  By 1999 I was enjoying the freedom from legalism, but there were some dark clouds on the horizon.

They had actually been there. In July of 1998 my father-in-law went to be with Jesus after dying on the operating table for open heart surgery. We were living 6 hours from Jo’s mom who was showing signs of “not being with it.” With a fear of dementia creeping in, I told her it was time to move and I would try to move closer to Sandusky, OH. Some dark clouds were forming in my ministry which I was aware of but never felt them threatening. In August of ’99 Tami visited another church in town (Maryland Community Church) and totally loved it. I asked her if she minded if I went the following Sunday night with her. That is when it all started. I heard the opening song for the first time and heard worship music which rocked. No fog or lights. No hymns. Just worship songs to a beat I liked.  And some good Bible teaching (which I desperately needed). One Sunday led to another to another until Sunday night’s at Maryland were a staple for father & daughter. ‘Course she liked that I bought her something to eat afterwards. 🙂

The clouds became a gathering storm and in June I found myself moving to Sandusky. There is so much more to say about that time but this is not the time or the place. What I can say is that from August of ’99 through June of 2000 the communion I had with God had never been sweeter and I am hard-pressed to find a time since (except following my accidents and the renewal of my love for God and Jo).

Since that first song, many worship songs have gone under the bridge of my “favorites.” I have two which make my list of favorites which I never tire of hearing. One is here by Chris Tomlin. The newest one is this one by Planetshakers (which I featured awhile back).

As I grow more mature in my faith, I’ll find others I like but this is where I am right now. Hope you enjoy it.

Nostalgia#3

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

When I was first introduced to Christian music it was in high school but it was “old” stuff. When I went to college I was introduced to Gospel Quartet music and since that was all I knew (other than my “secular” bands) that was what I listened to. I graduated from college in 1974 and for a few years listened to more “oldies” rock and roll. But in the later half of the 70s I heard of bands like Resurrection Band (Rez Band), Darrel Mansfield, Sweet Comfort Band, and others.  But there was one band which struck my fancy. The first time I heard them I was hooked.

Their album Straight On was played over and over (by LP and cassette). Remember those?  🙂 The ensuing years brought Stella This Ain’t Hollywood; a Double Live album and multiple others. The two founders were friends since 1st grade. They grew up in Memphis and loved rock ‘n roll music. Their conversions to Christ gave them the motivation to make “another kind of music.” Music with meaning.

Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key were the brain-masters of DeGarmo and Key, one of the pioneers of Christian rock. After a run of over 20+ years of making music together, they chose to make solo projects. One of Dana’s most heart wrenching songs was his song to Eric Clapton following Mr. Clapton’s song, Tears in Heaven. Dana’s song was simply titled Dear Mr. Clapton.  On June 6, 2010 Dana died of a ruptured blood clot at the age of 56.  Tragically his wife died a couple years later at the age of 52.

My song of nostalgia is one DeGarmo and Key’s early songs. But it stands as #3 on my hit list. I never tire of hearing it. I love the lesson it teaches. I love the imagery it presents of the Christian race being a long distance run. I know many of you don’t/won’t like this song, maybe because “I don’t like rock music.”  But all I ask is that you give it a listen. You will be surprised at the lyrics and that it is easy to listen to.

Here is Long Distance Runner by DeGarmo & Key. Sorry I couldn’t find it the lyrics but I think they are pretty clear.

Nostalgia#2

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

Last week I decided I would do a short blog series on my Top 5 songs of all time. My #1 song of all time is Crystal Blue Persuasion by Tommy James and the Shondells. Floyd was not surprised (see comments).  🙂  I guess I’ve written about him quite a bit for him to know.

My #2 song is another one which does not seem to fit the times I grew up in. I was born in 1952 so that means my teenage years were during the ’60s. I graduated from high school in 1970 so my high school years were smack dab in the middle of the “peace, love, sex” era. Woodstock. Haight Ashbury. Black Power. Drugs. LSD.  A whole host of other recognizable markers. But it was the music which set it apart from previous generations.

Before those formative high school years music was different. I can remember a classmate named Chuck. In 8th grade he listened to The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Four Tops and others. Come 9th grade his musical tastes had changed to rock and the early psychedelic music.  Definitely a 360. But I hadn’t quite latched onto the new music…not yet. That’s where my #2 song of all time comes in at.

There was this group made up of 4 singers. One guy, though, had a really unique voice. Once they hit it big with songs like Dawn (Go Away) and Sherry that voice was never mistaken. In fact, every recording had a signature: “Featuring the sound/voice of Frankie Valli.” I liked the 4 Seasons…still do. I still listen to them. But this one song hit me the first time I heard it and never left. I listened to it over and over (I’m sure my mom got sick of hearing it). I wore out the 45 (remember those?). Then I wore out the album it was on. Even today, I never get tired of hearing it. It featured Frankie’s tenor but not his falsetto voice.

Here is my #2 song of all time. Hope you enjoy it and maybe it will even bring back memories.

Nostalgia

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

I’m feeling nostalgic for some reason. I didn’t post a song last week because I know my style of music is not most of my reader’s style. But lately, even as I drive and workout or cut grass, Spotify has been on several of my “oldies” lists. So I decided to wax nostalgic for a few weeks. Over the next 5 weeks I’m going to post my Top 5 favorite songs of all time. I don’t know if you have ever done this but I do rankings in my mind a lot. I’m going to start from Top to bottom as opposed to bottom to top.

The ’60s was an age of upheaval and sometimes strange music. A war that seemed to have no beginning; no rhyme or reason; no ending dominated the airwaves. Campus unrest was the norm. Long hair on guys became more common than short hair. Many women went with the long, straight look. Clothes were definitely a different look than the ’50s more prim and proper suit with the straight leg pants.

But the music! The music! Once dominated by doo-wop and lounge-type singers and Elvis suddenly turned 360 degrees. Strange sounds were coming out the guitars. Long guitar and drum solos. Loud music. Songs which talked more openly about sex and drugs were pretty much across the board.  It was during this time I was in my teen years. Jimi Hendrix. Led Zepplin. Vanilla Fudge. Grand Funk Railroad. Even the Beatles were still slightly in the mix (although I never was much of a fan).

Into this mix came my favorite group. Psychedelic they were not. Not by a long shot. I was in Junior High when they hit it big with one song dug out of a bin by a DJ in Pittsburgh. Hanky Panky became a song which launched Tommy James and the Shondells into the atmosphere.  But in time even they were influenced by the music of the Woodstock generation and they released Crimson and Clover. (I always liked the longer version).  But while I like that song, it was the next one which was released that caught my attention and is still today my #1 song of all time. Tommy says it was inspired by his reading of the Bible. He was searching for meaning to life and an escape from the drugs which had begun to take over his life. He read the Bible. His book tells how he accepted Christ but still struggled with his demons. I believe he has put them behind him now. His voice today has lost some of its upper register (as is typical) but it is still rich and soothing.  And yes, I still listen to him…a lot.

So to start out this Top 5 series, here is my #1 song of all time.

From 1969

From a live concert at the Bitter End.

Hope you enjoy!

Miscellaneous

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

I’ve been somewhat absent here this week. Life has a way of doing that you know? Tuesday afternoon I made an hour trip to Greenwood to visit someone in the hospital. Cancer is an ugly disease and what he has is especially vicious.  Please pray for Billy & Becky as they pray for God’s healing or His will. He has fought for two years with an incredible will to live.  This is where I wish I was Jesus…I could speak the word and he would be instantly healed. But I’m not. I just believe in the power of prayer, but also the reality of God’s sovereign will.

Today is my daughter Janna’s birthday. I will not tell her age but simply say she is less than 40. Just less than. 🙂 God blessed me and Jo with two beautiful girls-Tami & Janna. I am proud of both of them.  But this is Janna’s birthday and a tribute to her. I am so thankful God blessed us with her. She and Tami were so-o-o-o different. Where Tami would sit for long periods of time with me and let me read to her (and eventually turning that around), Janna would have nothing to do with that.  Her learning curve was different. “You won’t teach me how to put those little shape things in that box. I’ll do it myself at my own speed.” “I’ll learn to read when I’m good and ready to read.” (She did). I am thankful God gave her to us. I am thankful for the woman, wife, and mother she has become. (Both those latter ones she was not interested in for awhile). I am thankful she still loves her dad (and mom), even though we are getting old. And I’m thankful she loves Jesus. I don’t have a song from 1979 that I liked. It was the disco era and…well you know…  But I did find the song we danced to at her wedding. She was a Stryper fan as was I so this is the song she chose. Yeah, I know…the hair.  🙂 🙂 🙂  Happy Birthday Janna!

Today I get to meet a camera crew. The folks from RoadID are coming to film me for a promotion video.  For those who may not know: I was hit while riding my bike by a hit-n-run driver on November 7, 2016. I was pretty much recovered from that when I had a more devastating wreck while going downhill on February 17, 2017. I broke my collarbone, 3 ribs, did a face plant, split my helmet in 3 places and had other abrasions. When the squad came I pointed to my RoadID for them to get contact and medical information. Click on the sidebar to find out more information. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings. Hope you have a great day.

Wonderful

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

I was getting out of my truck the other day to lock a door and had my music blaring loud playing. I honestly wasn’t thinking anything about it since I tend to listen to my music a lot little louder than Jo likes it.  But she wasn’t with me; I was heading for the gym to work out; so I opened my door to get something at the church building and left the door open. Two people were talking and all of a sudden, the man who is close to my age said, “I love your choice of music Bill!” Say what? Someone else likes my choice of music? So I made a comment about the artist being from the ’70s and all of a sudden he shouted out the words to part of the chorus which came on that moment. I cracked up! I think the young lady who was there had to be wondering what is wrong with these two old codgers. 🙂

My song this week is NOT a Christian song, unless you look at it as a man’s thoughts about his wife. I do.  After 45 years I still feel this way about Jo. We have both changed. Wrinkles have replaced smooth skin. There is a bit more weight on both of us. There is less hair on our heads. We aren’t as active and energetic as we used to be.  I have put her through the wringer-moving more than we should have (much of it due to my arrogance). We have had our emotional ups and downs. She has put up with my bike wrecks and surgeries as a result. But she still loves me. Go figure!

She’s some kind of wonderful. These past two years have shown me more than ever how much she loves me. And have shown me how much I love her and how valuable she is to me.

My song this week is a feel-good song.  It is a good toe-tapping song. Maybe even one which will take you down memory lane. The only “Christian” part of this besides love for your mate, is Mark Farner gave his life to Christ and sang about the “sweet loving Savior” when he redid it.

Lonely???

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

Back in the 1970s a group which seemed totally out of left field made an impact on the music world. In a world of heavy and hard music came a threesome who played mostly acoustic music. No blaring guitar riffs which went on and on. No double kick bass on the drums. No speed drumming. No thumping bass guitar beating out a low end rhythm and sound. Even some of the lyrics were strange or seemingly incomplete/incoherent:

“I’ve been to a desert on a horse with no name it felt good to be out of the rain.” Some speculated it was about heroin.

“Oz never did give nothing to the tin man that he didn’t, didn’t already have/ And  cause never was the reason for the tropic of Sir Galahad.” Say what?

Others were fun songs. Ventura Highway. Muskrat Love.

Some were philosophical. “Don’t cross the river if you can’t swim the tide.” Makes sense to me.

But there was one which struck a chord for many. It is my song for the week. The late Dan Peek, was a member of America for years but left all the fame and fortune behind to follow Jesus.  I still have his vinyl album called “All Things are Possible,” his first release to the Christian market. Same signature sound. Smooth. Acoustic. Mellow. But the one song America did is the one I’m highlighting this week. I’ve got Dan’s music (as well as America’s) on my Spotify playlist and this song came buzzing by me this week. I’m going to put Dan’s version first here and then America’s version here. You can hear the difference because Dan found the answer.

Listen

Monday, July 30th, 2018

Just listen.

https://youtu.be/sIaT8Jl2zpI

I failed to post a song yesterday. Got busy. Watched Incredibles 2 with Jo (great movie. Laughed a lot).  Prayed for what to write or say.

N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

Then I remembered a song while returning from a chiropractor appointment that Jo played for me while we were coming back from Ohio this past Saturday. I couldn’t remember what it was…the name…the words. All I remember is the tears that formed in my eyes as I listened.

So I found it. And I want to share it. Profound. Insightful. Probing. Truth.

So listen…just listen…with an open mind and heart. I did.  (I’m not really this singer’s biggest fan. I like my music rockier). May this song be a light for you today and for you this week.