Friday, June 29, 2012

"A Broken Man" who knew the true "Treasure Of The Broken Land" -Remembering Mark Heard 20 years later


It is so hard for me to believe that as we prepare to celebrate the 4th of July this summer, we will also be, albeit unknowingly for most, commemorating the 20th anniversary of Mark Heard’s final concert at the Cornerstone Festival in Illinois. Criminally under known and under appreciated at the time, Mark Heard had just finished recording and subsequently releasing “Satellite Sky” in June of 1992, and had planned to go on tour as well as looking forward to the prospects of signing his first ever major record label distribution contract later on in the summer.

All that was in the back of Heard’s mind that hot summer mid-western Independence Day night in 1992 as he took that stage for a midnight concert. No one knew then that as the show was drawing to a close Heard began suffering a heart attack! Upon finishing his set he was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with having major artery blockage, something he planned on having treated upon his return to California. However, this would never happen as Heard would have a second more serious heart attack just hours after his initial discharge from the hospital, leaving him in a coma, that which he would never recover as he died on August 16th, 1992.

Just a little over ten years ago, a young man was nearing the end of his freshman year of high school, and really struggling with the state of the American Church landscape, and what he was hearing out of the Christian Music Industry. Too much ‘life is always great with Jesus” which he saw as not lining up with reality at all; especially in the wake of the worst Terrorist attack in his lifetime which had of course occurred that previous autumn.  Despite his anger and frustration in all this, the young man decided to research deeper in the history of Christian rock and roll and fortunately discovered this gentleman by the name of Mark Heard, who had three albums appear in the Top 100 Albums in Christian Music book he had checked out from the local library. In June of 2002, this young man managed to track down a cassette tape copy of the aforementioned “Satellite Sky” album, and his Faith would begin anew at this point, and to this day he has never looked back!

Now you may have figured out already, that the young man in the second part of this story is in fact, me, and yes this blog post will once again be a little different than what you are used to from me. These are my thoughts/reflections on a man and an album that had an incredibly profound impact on my Christian Faith when I was 15 years old, an impact he had ten years after his time on earth was way too soon completed! 

On “Satellite Sky” Mark Heard wove together 15 amazing songs that expressed both disenchantment with the way culture was continuing to sink further and further away from the Christian values that had still mostly shaped it a mere forty years earlier, and the unfettered hope of the Gospel in the midst of such a mess.

Heard was writing things like “they have captured our siblings/they have rendered them mute/disputed our lineage and poisoned our roots/we have bought from the brokers who have broken their oaths/and we’re out on the street with a lump in our throats” (from “Orphans of God’) Initially, I simply had no idea what Heard was talking about, but as I listened closer and more often, I realized he was in fact describing how secular thought on both the origin of the human race, and God’s existence, have put Christians in a position of mockery instead of a position of respect. Heard unflinching was honestly saying this and was without a doubt angry about it! Such bold writing like this wasn’t anywhere in Christian Music at this point in time. He didn’t stop there, elsewhere he described the “Long Way Down” culture was spiraling as they removed God from the forefront, he spoke of being “A Broken Man” over such cultural shifting, and how his generation was so often “Lost On Purpose”.  He also put an interesting spin on Original Sin with “We Know Too Much” which I have come to interpret over the years as a allegorical look at the result of the fall of man recounted in Genesis chapter three.

Yet amongst all this despair, Heard balanced it with the hope he had in Christ on songs like “Hammer & Nails” where he boldly proclaims “Your love never can fail to pierce me” and declaring how one way to attempt to reverse such hopelessness is to live out and communicate1 Corinthians 13 in practical ways (“Love Is So Blind” and “Language of Love”).

However, one of the most powerful songs on the entire album was the incredible six minute closing track “Treasure of The Broken Land” where Heard reflected on the death of his father, and the sadness he felt over no longer being able to see his father and converse with his father on a regular basis, or as he said ‘all that remains is the aftertaste of circumstance that can’t pass this way again”

Yet among all this Heard longed for the promised hope of the bodies of all Christians one day being resurrected upon Christ’s return to establish his Kingdom on earth. He also gave us a reminder to use our time with one another wisely as he sings a line that has forever impacted my life with "Nobody gets a second chance to be the friend that they meant to be”

Some days I still am in awe of how the events of that summer of 1992 occurred. Heard released this incredible statement of an album in ‘Satellite Sky” in June, and by August he was in Heaven with both his earthly and Heavenly Father. As I have listened to this album many, many, times over the years, I always have this sense that Heard somehow had an indication this would be his final project. If not, it sure seemed that way, as I can’t think of a more honest portrayal of life in a fallen world, and best manner in which we as Believers should cope!

I can honestly say that outside of the Word of God itself there have been few greater impacts upon my Christian Faith as the songs on this album. No matter what I am feeling whether deep despair or overflowing joy, these songs have ministered to me.  As the rest of the country commemorates another July 4th, I commemorate the 20th anniversary of the release of my all time favorite Christian album, and the life of the man who wrote and recorded it. One day in heaven, I hope to be able to share with Mark Heard how much his music impacted my faith, and how thanks to him I was able to begin the growing process of my continuing Faith in Christ. For now, I have shared it with all of you. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Happy Summer: Here's a List of Summer Albums For You

Okay all, this is not a real post this time, but a list. More specifically a list of 65 for so albums that make me think of spring/summertime in honor of the official launch of summer yesterday! I posted this on my Facebook back in March and have added and critiqued it slightly, as more albums came to mind. You will notice a wide variety of current new albums making there way into my summertime subconscious, and albums that have been riding around in my mind for years this time of the year, as the weather warms up! Enjoy, and look for a new real post from me next week, as I prepare a memoir/testimony about Mark Heard, a man whose "Satellite Sky" album (which is on this list) forever altered my Faith in high school.

Spring/Summer Albums

Vigilantes of Love - Summershine
Making God Smile-Silent Planet Records Brian Wilson Tribute
Bruce Springsteen-Darkness On The Edge Of Town
The Beach Boys- Pet Sounds
Owl City- All Things Bright And Beautiful
Guns N Roses- Appetite For Destruction
Starflyer59- Leave Here A Stranger
The Lassie Foundation-Pacifico
Big Tent Revival- Open All Night
Josh Garrels- Love and War and The Sea Between
Rich Young Ruler-S/T
Mark Heard-Satellite Sky
Poole-Alaska Days
Oasis-(What's The Story) Morning Glory
Mae-The Everglow
Coldplay-Viva La Vida
Copeland- Beneath Medicine Tree
The Ataris- So Long Astoria
Farewell To Juliet-Echoes Of Laughter
Joe Chrismas-Upstairs, Overlooking
All Sons and Daughters-Season One
Satellite Soul-S/T
Yellowcard- Ocean Avenue
Death Cab For Cutie- Transatlanticism
Over The Rhine-Ohio
The 77's- Sticks And Stones
Fair-The Best-Worst Case Scenario
Reliant K- Two Lefts Don't Make A Right (But Three Do)
Daniel Amos-Horrendous Disc
Tonio K- Ole
Last Winter- Under The Silver Of Machines
Denison Witmer- Philadelphia Songs
Lady Antebellum-Need You Now
Lost Dogs- The Lost Cabin And The Mystery Trees
The Foo Fighters- There Is Nothing Left To Lose
Matt Redman- 10,000 Reasons
Needtobreathe- The Outsiders
Fountains Of Wayne- Traffic And Weather
Burlap To Cashmere- S/T
Switchfoot-The Beautiful Letdown
Ben Folds-Songs For Silverman
The Innocence Mission-Befriended
Band Of Horses- Everything All The Time
She & Him-Volume Two
Sleeping At Last- Keep No Score
Passion- White Flag
Geoff Moore & The Distance- Home Run
Third Eye Blind- S/T
House Of Heroes- Suburba
Jay Michael-Vices or Virtues
Audrey Assad-Heart
Sixpence None The Richer-S/T
Lovedrug- Wild Blood
The Choir-Circle Slide
The Throes-Amerafriasiana
Wilco- Sky Blue Sky
Guster- Keep It Together
Dryve-Thrifty Mr. Kickstar
Daily Planet- Hero
The Swift- S/T
Amy Grant- Behind The Eyes
Waterdeep-Everyone's Beautiful
Caedmon's Call-S/T

So hopefully you've got some new album suggestions to become the soundtrack to your summer this year :-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Exhortation is an Essential Part of our Everyday Christian Lives

It’s amazing how God can speak to us through various events that occur in our cities and in the case of me last week, our favorite sports teams and athletes. Growing up in Cleveland, OH I’ve loved the Tribe since my Grandfather first began teaching me about baseball when I was eight years old. This past week, Indians closer Chris Perez drew attention to from the media when he diverted from his usual happy, cheerful and friendly personality by slamming the fans all around north east Ohio for their lack of support for the Indians since they are in first place. He also expressed anger over being booed in his outing on May 17th in which he got himself into a jam in a tie game, but worked out of it.  “It p**sed me off" Perez was quoted as saying. He then said that ‘the Indians are a first place team and we are LAST in the league in attendance?? Come on fans get out here and enjoy this, your team is in first place!”

When I read these statements from Perez (who I have lovingly nicknamed “Rockstar” due to his long hair and scraggily beard) something inside of me was stirred up! I agreed with his gutsy statements completely, and felt he deserved major kudos for being willing to express how he felt. How he felt, that is what hit me immediately. You see, I myself, and I think so many sports fans sometimes forget that baseball players are human just like we are, and they have feelings too! When they are booed, it hurts, and that hurt leads to anger! Especially when it is an unjust booing. If Perez had given up three runs and ‘blown the game’ it would kinda makes sense for him to be booed, but to be booed just because he got into a jam is ridiculous and totally un-called for!

This leads me to the scripture verse that I felt drawn to through all this. I have been reading and journaling through Hebrews this past two weeks, and we then studied the specific passage I am about to share with you this past week at my Bible Study (amazing how we God speaks a passage to your heart, he allows it to come to you from multiple sources!). Here it is:

“Take care, brothers, less there be in any of you and evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

-Hebrews 3:12-13 (ESV)

“Exhort one another every day” from verse 13 stands out to me like fireworks on the fourth of July. Exhort means to ‘strongly encourage or urge (someone) to do something’ Our author of Hebrews (whom that actually is, is a classic Bible mystery) is speaking here of course to the Church and every member of the body encouraging one another to be walking out their faith, but I somehow think this can apply to encouraging one another to do our best with the gifts God has given us too (1 Peter 4:10-11) To tie this back to Rockstar, as fans of the Indians and him, it is our job to show our support with the gifts God has given him, which is his case would be the ability to throw a ball 95 miles and hour with movement!

It was pretty cool how this story panned out as the week went on. You see Perez made these statements on Saturday night (May 19th), and then did not pitch Sunday, and the Tribe then had an off day Monday. Tuesday night the Tribe opened a three game series against Division favorite the Detroit Tigers and if a save situation were to present itself in the ninth inning everyone knew Rockstar would be coming in. The question was how would he be received by the fans for the first time since making those strong statements?

I had the opportunity to attend last Tuesday night’s game with my Mom, and wore my Chris Perez jersey as a sign of support for him and what he said. Sure enough, the Tribe played really well, and led 5-3 going into the top of the ninth. Then as the scoreboard flashed flames mixed with highlights of Chris Perez striking opposing batters out, Perez walked down the steps from the bullpen and onto the field…

As this was happening the crowd of over 15,000 people stood up in unison and began to cheer as loud as they could. Rockstar began his walk to the mound and the entire stadium was roaring, cheering loudly in full support mixed with thankfulness and perhaps for some apology for booing in the past. Here was a guy willing to speak his mind and we fans had the chance to show him we like that here in Cleveland. As the ninth inning progressed Perez would put a couple runners on and then come back to retire the Tigers two best hitters in striking out Miguel Cabrera and getting Prince Fielder to ground out to shortstop to end the game, only to be then given another standing ovation as “Cleveland Rocks” blasted out of the stadium speakers!

Perez would state after the game that he did not know what to expect from fans as he entered the game, but that he was truly humbled by the standing ovation, and thankful to the fans. As it would turn out, the standing ovation continued the next two games, as Perez would earn the save in all three wins of a three game sweep of the beasts from Motown, and Perez stated after Thursday afternoons 2-1 win that this had truly been a week he would never forget. Sometimes that is what exhorting someone looks like, it is letting them know you believe in them, and their ability to use the gifts God has given them, even if that gift is to play a game really, really well!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dreaming of Paradise: Stupid Fleshly Fantasy, Or God-Given Desire?

“I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

-Isaiah 43:6-7 (ESV)

God created humans for his glory to and bring glory to himself! We were formed and made by him out of dust and when we were created, we were created without blemish and without sin. Take a look at what God said here at the end of the Genesis chapter 1:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

-Genesis 1:27-31 (ESV)

“It was very good!” See all things God created were good. We were created to live in a paradise where no harm could come to us and no pain would grace our presence. Yet mankind rebelled against God and chose to disobey God and ate of forbidden fruit, which brought sin into the world, which then consequently brought suffering, pain and death into the world as well (Genesis 3). This my friends is why suffering, pain and death are so un-natural to us, because we were not created to have to deal with them in God’s original plan. This fact reminds me of the opening lines of Coldplay’s recent single:

“When she was just a girl,
She expected the world,
But it flew away from her reach,
So she ran away in her sleep.”

We all at one point in our life are like the young girl in this story song. We expect the world, that is, we view the world in a way that is positive, exciting and ready to grant us the opportunity to have happiness in our lives. We haven’t experienced pain, sadness, loss and grief yet. However, at some point in our young lives we experience one or more of these and we feel like the dream we had of a safe world has flown ‘away from (our) reach’.

As the next lines in song Chris Martin sings are about the girl dreaming of ‘paradise’ after running away in her sleep, I realize that this in fact is also a direct result of the way God designed us. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 Solomon tells us that God has "put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” You see God has put this idea of something greater than ourselves into each of our hearts, and idea that says this hurt I am feeling is not natural and not what was intended to be in my life. He also keeps things hidden from us in order to draw us to Himself and so that we put our trust in Him.

Putting our trust in Him though, does not come without good reason. Jesus, as he was preparing to go to the cross spoke to his disciples in a long, four-chapter narrative that is only recorded in the Gospel of John. As he concludes the teaching part of His talk and moves into what Bible scholars call Christ’s High Priestly Prayer, he tells his disciples that “in the world your will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b) Hear that? In the world we live in that is sinful and fallen we will have trials and (as some versions say) trouble. Jesus is telling us that this is going to be a part of our lives, and we should not be surprised when they occur. Yet, there is that small word that packs so much meaning there in “BUT take heart, I have overcome the world!” Jesus is reminding us that he has dominion over everything in the world, because he was there, and a part of, its creation with God the Father, and thus He is greater than all of the pain that is in the world because of the result of sin. While the world in its current state is still full of sin, when Christ returns one day and establishes his kingdom here on earth there will be no more trials and troubles!

That leads me to my next (and final for now) scripture passage on our Christian hope. In Revelation 21 John has a vision of what the new heaven and new earth will be like one day:

“I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ’Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ’Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”

-Revelation 21:3-5 (ESV)

You see friends, for those who put their faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, there is a way to one day be re-united with Him in an eternity that will be once again like the Garden of Eden, absent from all death, mourning, crying, or pain as the above verse tells us. We will one day be in the ‘para, para, paradise’ we have all been longing for since birth once again! I don’t know about you, but that makes me extremely hopeful during any trials that I face in my life. While we will never find our paradise on earth, there is one waiting for us one day, either in Heaven and/or at Christ’s return!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Christian's Musings on the "Best Picture" Nominations- Well Seven Of Them At Least

Oscar season, as I have dubbed it is one of my favorite times of the year. What is Oscar season you ask and when does it take place? Well, it begins right after Christmas, and extends until the end of February when the Academy Awards (also known as the Oscars) air on TV. It is that time of year where I try to see as many of the films nominated for the “Best Picture” category as possible. At least, this has been the case the last three years. It truly is what gets me through those long winter months before baseball season begins!

This year, I have seen seven of the nine movies nominated, and the crop of films this year has been top notch in my opinion. All good films, and all films that pack a lot of punch when it comes to Biblical themed messages layered within their plots. What follows are my quick paragraph thoughts/reviews of the seven films, and the themes they contain.

The Help

A film about a brave young wannabe journalist named Skeeter who chooses to write a book based on the stories of African American maids in Alabama during the turbulent 1960’s is bound to be full of Christian themes, and it is! It is hard not to think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 20:16 where he says one day in heaven ‘the last shall be first and the first shall be last” as these brave women are sharing their stories of being treated as second class citizens by their white employers. As it is, main character and maid Viola Davis hears her Pastor talk of Moses in Exodus chapter 3 being told by God that he would never be alone for the Lord would be with him as he went to Egypt to free the Israelites, and summons the courage to share her stories in the first place. The book of course becomes a best seller, and Skeeter’s mother in recognition of her achievements states, “sometimes courage skips a generation.” Indeed God desires to see us being people of courage for his namesake and his will in our lives, and this film demonstrates what can happen when we harness that courage (Joshua 1).

The Artist

The story of this throwback to the 1920’s era of silent black and white movies is rather simple and centers around two movie stars. The first, George Valentin is at the top of his game in his career in silent movies. The second is young and beautiful Peppy, who gets her big break as an extra in one of Valentin’s movies. However, soon young Peppy’s career takes off as ‘talkies’ are introduced, while Valentin’s career plods down deeper and deeper into non-existence, mostly because he refuses to act in any ‘talkie’ on a count of his pride in being an artist who tells the story with his face and action, not words! Naturally of course it is easy to see this film as a summary of Proverbs 16:18 where Solomon writes “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

War Horse

This movie probably has the least amount of scripture illustrations of any of the seven nominated films I have seen. That is not to say though that it isn’t a wonderful story about a young man and his horse, and the journey they both take throughout England and then into combat on the battlefields of France during World War I. Both are separated during the war, yet both despite great odds seem to keep finding ways to survive, and encounter people to help them along the way. Overall, the impression I felt by watching this movie was God’s providence on both of their lives, and a great illustration of the often quoted Romans 8:28 “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good.”

Tree of Life

Considering this movie opens with a quote from Job 38:4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding” you would expect it to be heavily themed in biblical ideas, and that is very much the case. Though it is disjointed and at times confusing, especially the ‘creation interpretive theme’ section that lasts about 30 minutes and features a definite worldview of the theory of evolution mixed in with creation, it is an excellent movie. The theme is definitely faith in God, and moreover understanding that the reason we worship and fear God is because ‘his thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways’ (Isaiah 55:8). It centers around a family growing up in the 1950’s where the father teachers his sons to be tough, and the mother teaches her sons to be gentle. Ultimately both are needed in life, and both are characteristics and attributes of God, as he is both a God of Love and a God of Wrath.

Midnight In Paris

“Say not, ‘why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” (Ecclesiastes 7:10) If there was a theme verse for this movie it would easy be this one from Ecclesiastes. “Midnight in Paris” is the story of a young writer (Gil) who takes a vacation to Paris, France with his fiancĂ© and her parents. During his vacation he is troubled by feeling unsure about how solid his first novel draft will be viewed in the eyes of publishers. One night he is magically whisked back to Paris circa 1925, in the height of the roaring 20’s and has the opportunity to hang out with the likes of Ernest Hemmingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Gil is very enamored with the opportunity he has to talk with such people, and even gets advice on his novel from Ms. Gertrude Stein, a lady whom Hemmingway trusted to evaluate his work. Ultimately thought, Gil learns though a series of events that would spoil the movie if I were to tell you, that one should not believe one era of history was better than another. Every era had its share of problems, and longing for the past is not a wise way to live one’s life.


I devoted a full blog to this wonderful baseball movie based on the true story of Billy Beane, the man who stood firm in his convictions (Galatians 5:2) and helped build the 2002 Oakland Athletics into a winning team using a theory that Bill James had developed based on ‘buying runs’ by building a team of players who have a high on base percentage. Read my full blog on this film for more insight. It is in my view another film to add to my ever-growing list of ‘excellent baseball movies.’ Then again I love baseball so much I am kind of biased.

The Descendants

Imagine your wife was injured so bad in a boating accident she is now comatose, your oldest daughter is in rebellion away at her freshman year of college, and you are in the middle of a huge business deal involving the planning to sell property that has been in your family’s possession for generations. Then imagine you find out your wife has been unfaithful to you and there is no way to discuss with her why she would cheat on you to begin with. All this we come to find out is what Matt King is facing within the first thirty minutes of this incredibly powerful drama, that teaches us deep lessons about ‘turning the other cheek’ (Matthew 5:38-39) and a powerful illustration of Paul’s command in Romans 12:15 to ‘mourn with those who mourn.” King is surrounded by he and his wife’s family and friends throughout this grueling process of both saying goodbye to his terminally injured wife, and his attempt to come to grips with his wife’s infidelity. He even begins to bond with his rebellious daughter again. Overall a common theme of this wonderful picture is the importance dealing with our own mortality, much like Solomon wrote about in Ecclesiastes 7:2-3 where he teaches that the house of mourning is the end of all mankind and the living should “lay it to heart.”(V2b). There is also a theme of everything having its time in life, which echoes the famous Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 which inspired Pete Seeger to write his often covered classic “Turn, Turn, Turn.” So I don’t reveal too much more of the plot I will stop here, but you can probably guess that this is my favorite of the seven nominated films I’ve seen, and thus my hope for receiving the coveted “Best Picture” award!

Okay friends, there you have it I hope you enjoyed this slightly more disjointed blog post. We will get back to my more typical in-depth critics of secular movies, music and books next time around.

Peace out!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

"Come On Let Your Colors Burst"

The 4th of July is my favorite holiday. It has been for quite some time. That may sound kind of strange and almost shallow coming from someone like me, because if you know me you would probably think my favorite holiday would be one that has a very large Christian significance to it, such as Easter or Christmas, but truth be told the 4th of July is my all time favorite. I think it is because it takes place right in the middle of summer and because I have grown up in Cleveland, OH and summer is really are only time of the year to enjoy the outdoor weather on a consistent basis. It also is a time of year for cookouts and community parades and picnics, which bring communities together. There is also generally a baseball game to attend, and what would the 4th of July be without fireworks!

That is probably why I initially was drawn to the song I will be putting under the microscope today, “Firework’ by Katy Perry. Now, as many may know, Katy Perry’s real name is Katy Hudson and she in fact did release one album under that name in 2001, on a Christian label. Yes, Miss Perry was raised in a Christian home and grew up singing songs in her church in California. However, she no longer considers herself a Believer and many songs certainly seem to reflect that (“Last Friday Night” is one blatant example!). However, “Firework” has several messages that in my view are important to us as Christians.

Let us begin by looking at the first stanza:

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag drifting through the wind
Wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin like a house of cards
One blow from caving in?

So often in life, we feel fragile and somewhat aimless, not sure what God is trying to do, whether it be with our careers or a relationship or any number of different things. David felt this way to, as he often cried out to the Lord many times in the Psalms. One example is Psalm 88:3-4 that says: “For my soul is full of troubles and my life draws near to Sheol. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am a man who has no strength” (ESV)

It is not wrong to feel this way, and it is completely okay to bring God into the uncertainty and fears that we all have from time to time. However, scripture is full of encouragement in these areas as well, as we will see here soon. But now back to the song lyrics:

“Do you ever feel already buried deep six feet under scream
But no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there's still a chance for you?
'Cause there's a spark in you
You just gotta ignite
The light and let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July”

I love that line where Perry states, “there’s still a chance for you/Cause there’s a spark in you.” I believe as Christians, God desires to communicate that to us. In Joshua 1:5 God promises the nation of Israel that he will never leave or forsake them. The author of Hebrews re-iterates this fact in Hebrews 13:5 adding a quote from Psalm 118:6 where David states: “The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

God also sees the potential (or the ‘spark’) in us and rejoices ‘over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exalt over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV). He plants desires and dreams within us and will not abandon us when we are walking them out! We also bring the Lord joy when we honor him and follow those dreams and desires that He gives us.

Thus the chorus of the song fits right in with God desiring for us to use the gifts he has given us to work toward fulfilling our dreams:

“Cause, baby, you're a firework
Come on show 'em what you're worth
Make em go oh, oh, oh
As you shoot across the sky
Baby, you're a firework
Come on; let your colors burst
Make em go oh, oh, oh
You're gonna leave em fallin down oh oh”

Particularly the line about letting ‘your colors burst’ stands out to me here. God has saved us for a purpose and we each have different gifts to accomplish the purpose of bringing His hope to a world that so desperately needs it! However, Paul tells us that we all have different gifts that when we work together as a Church body brings about the work of the Lord in the world (1 Corinthians 12). Thus these different gifts could almost because ‘colors’ in a sense that are all unique and beautiful in there individual ways, but ultimately truly form a masterpiece when they are all used collectively in a piece of art, in this sense the art of bringing about transformation in the lives of the people and places around us!

One other part of the song that is important to highlight is the third verse were Perry sings:

“Maybe you're reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to a perfect road”

Friends we don’t see the completed picture of our lives the way God does, so we are often going to have unanswered questions about why God did or did not allow certain things to happen, however, sometimes in time we can see that the reason one door was closed in our life is in fact so He could guide us to the right path that is part of His big plan for our life! Psalm 16:7 says “I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.” (NLT). You see, God does guide us, and if we are willing to submit to Him and trust that He knows what is best for us, he will lead us to the right path for what we should do or go next!

Therefore, it is important to have the confidence that by spending time in prayer on a regular basis seeking God, He will reveal to our hearts what we are to do. Then we need to take action and do it, which will lead to us bringing glory to Him. As Paul wrote at the conclusion of his first letter to the church of Corinth, “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain”(1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV). Thus, when the Enemy tries to make us believe we are worthless and that our work is in vain, we can have the confidence to use our gifts from God anyway, and ‘let our colors burst’ so the world may see Christ in us!