A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in church listening to my pastor talk about the cross. His message was one of a series he has been teaching leading up to Easter titled, "This Is Not The End." Somewhere near the middle of his message I got lost on a tidbit of information he presented. My mind began wandering and chewing on a thought that I couldn't seem to shake and even still, some three weeks later I am still pondering/meditating and now blogging about it. Here is the unraveling of those thoughts: ...
Here we are again, chasing the songs that inspire our feet to hit the pavement time and time again. What songs are doing that for me right now? Oh, let me tell you (they are good!). But don't be stingy, share with me your musical running inspiration.
Recently, I excitedly went to Barnes and Noble and chose a few new books for my 4 year old daughter. This is not a rare occurrence and is not what made this particular trip so exciting. This trip and these books were special because they are the next step up in my daughters reading/learning.
I like Van Gogh. I like the beauty and mystery, the bold mixture of colors, and the movement and honesty found while gazing at his paintings. I'm looking at a painting he did of himself right now as I write this and I am struck by the way he painted himself. He looks sad. He looks tired. He looks worried. He looks real while still looking intriguing. I also love his "Starry Night" painting. I had the opportunity to see the original painting in New York at the Museum of Modern Art about 18 years ago and I remember standing in front of the painting, leaning into it as if I could crawl into that moonlit landscape. Van Gogh had a gift. He was able to paint in a way that no one else could/can and we are able to see the world differently because of his artistic gift.
Now I will jump to my point of this blog.
Music. Unfortunately, frequently, christian music drives me crazy. Instead of being pulled towards what the songs are attempting to reveal, oftentimes, I find myself hitting the mute button and frustration filling my chest.
Where is the great craft? Where is the great songwriting? What in the heck are they trying to say? What picture are they trying to paint?
I feel like we are being handed mediocre artwork and being told to get over it, ignore the shabby work because they are at least using the same colors. Same colors, same painting right?
No. Not even close.
How is anyone supposed to know what is being painted about if the artist is a bad painter? How does the bad painter's artwork keep being put in the most prominent place of viewing?
Where are Christian Music's Van Gogh's? I want to see Jesus from their perspective.
I think the title of this blog might be a bit of a lie. I'm sorry. I don't mean it, but this will be not so much a review of the new Daniel Bashta album "The Invisible" so much as me trying, with all my written power, to persuade you to go out and by this album immediately.
Reason #1- The same brilliant (this is not stretch or exaggeration) team that produced my last album "Current," also, once again collaborated to produce this Bashta album. They did not hold back. They didn't play by any rules or candy coat or allow anyone to shove them within the tight constraints of a box. They just stood alongside Daniel and shaped the songs as they are meant to be shaped. The results are stunning.
Reason #2- The songwriting. Daniel is an intense life live-r and this is shown in his songwriting. There is never a moment on this album (unlike much of the Christian industry, unfortunately) where you don't think Daniel cares passionately about what he is singing. You never find yourself thinking, "it doesn't really sound like he knows who he is singing about." No, you listen and you think, "Ahhh, this is a very real God he is singing about and he is singing like he actually knows Him, very well." Daniel's songs are like a painting of who God is, a revelation of Christ and Daniel's painting is clear. We can clearly see our Savior. We don't have to strain our eyes at a fuzzy, blurry image, we can see Jesus in these songs. This is a great achievement of a songwriter/singer and Daniel does it flawlessly.
Reason #3- The singing. Passion. I remember being downstairs while Daniel was upstairs recording vocals in our studio and he was singing so passionately, with so much energy, with such belief and conviction, that I remember getting chills without even being able to hear any other bits of the song. Just his vocals only. He doesn't resign to doing this only once on this album but instead, song after song, he is singing with every ounce of his being. This kind of vocal performance stirs me, as a listener, to do just the same.
I could keep listing reasons. I could keep going on and on but it really comes down to this, there are few records in the Christian music industry still being made like this one. The kind where there is freedom, where there is creativity and musical excellence. The kind where you can see a creative, real, God within every note or beat or word. I believe that this album will change lives because of the great truth being clearly revealed within it.
Yes, you can hear me singing on various songs throughout the album and I even had the opportunity to co-write on the opening track called "I Want It All (Just Give Me Jesus)" and I couldn't be more proud to get to be a part of such a stunning project. Go out and buy this album now. Support Daniel and this record so that he can continue to make music that moves us and grabs us and hurls us into the presence of our Savior. Our real Savior and not some candy coated religious one.
Then, once you have listened repeatedly, I want you to come back and tell me which songs are your favorites. I say listen repeatedly because your favorites will change listen by listen. Every song is that good.
Ohhh I'm excited for you :)
Buy the album right here, right now:
At the start of each year I try to go back and take a look at the blogs that I posted over the 12 months and see which had the most impact or greatest response from you, the readers. I'll admit, in doing so I am constantly humbled that you have invested your valuable time in following and reading my blogs and then even more astonishing, you have passed some of them along to your friends or co-workers or neighbors because they meant something to you and you wanted to share that meaning with them. I am baffled that you wold do this and feel greatly honored by it. Thank you from the depths of my being. Your affirmation is a treasure of great worth.
So here we are again and I have my 2012 list. These blogs rose to the top above the 50 something blogs that I posted over the year. I hope you find some that you want to re-visit or re-share or perhaps even some that you have never seen and you can read for the first time.
1. Music To Run To Blogs- Without a doubt, my music playlist's are the most popular blogs on my site. I love it. People stumble upon these lists from google searches for running playlists all the time and then frequently let me know that it was a happy surprise to find my blog. Here are the Music to run to lists that I posted throughout 2012. Happy running/listening.
2. "Every Good Endeavor" By Timothy Keller (Book Review)- This blog had the most hits in one day than any other blog I've posted (probably because Timothy Keller tweeted a link to the blog also as well as his book publisher). If you haven't read this book yet, you need to get it now and get it read!
3. Freedom-Loss- I'll admit, I have been surprised by the number of hits and reads this blog has gotten. I love that it hit a nerve with people and as a result it has been widely read.
4. Burned By The Church Video Blog- This video blog has been viewed almost 8,000 times in only the short 4 months since it was released. What I love most is that it has been shared by hundreds of you. Thank you.
5. Never Underestimate How Weak You Are- This is one of those blogs that I needed to write for myself as much as for anyone else.
6. Thankful/To Be Known- I was nervous about posting this blog on Thanksgiving Day because I thought perhaps everyone would be too busy to read it, but boy was I wrong. You read and you shared even with turkey in your mouth and gravy on your chin.
7. "Live For Now" And The Fool- I got angry and I wrote. Boom.
8. The Incision and The Pain Echo- Ahhh a Hope blog.
9. Best Albums I Heard In 2012- I love making lists and apparently you love them too. Music is cool.
10. Live Performance Videos- In 2012 I released 4 of 5 performance videos that I filmed. Each of these 4 videos and the blogs that they were attached to found their own spot at the top of last years most read/watched blogs. Which one was your favorite?
Now on to 2013...
Proverbs 3:5 (in three different translations) says:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." (ESV)
"Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding." (AMP)
"Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own." (MSG)
I have been wrestling with this. Not just the trusting part but the "letting go and not trying to figure everything out on my own" part. I have a hard time not trying to unravel things, sort things and looking at what they mean, how the line up and make sense. I will shuffle and re-shuffle my thoughts about various things going on in my life until I feel as if I have made sense of them, but, every now and then it just isn't possible, there is no sense to be made and I find myself falling back onto these words written some 3000 years ago. I find myself thinking, "Dang, Sarah, when will you learn that this is the place to start, not to end up, after you've worn yourself out." So here I am again, flipping the worn pages of my bible till I land on this verse, that I have underlined and starred as if it's meaning should've already been absorbed, it's lesson learned.
I know I talk a lot about running, but, I am going to do it again because the things I learn as a runner frequently coincide with the spiritual. I have learned, over time, that the running routine needs to change frequently or the body gets unresponsive, no longer getting faster/stronger/fitter/etc. I can run 3 miles a day for weeks and watch my body go from at about a 10 minute mile to perhaps a 9 minute mile but after a while I stop getting faster and my muscles stop toning. In fact I have run so frequently in my life, I have conditioned myself to be able to go out and run 3 miles easily even if I am my flabbiest, most un-fit self. If I desire more speed or more fitness I have to change my routine and challenge my body again. I have to close out that know-it-all voice in my head that says "Do what you're used to, what's easiest, what takes the least energy! Don't change!" It's almost like I have to start from scratch, doing something new, so that my body will once again need to improve it's ability in order to function.
It is the same with the bible. I have read it cover to cover a number of times and yet I still find that I have let myself act as if I have never read this verse in Proverbs 3. I have let the words fall away into a reservoir in my brain that never gets tapped into.
If you jump down a couple of verses to Proverbs 3:7 it says
"Don't assume that you know it all."
I think this is the root of the weeds that I have been wrestling with. I don't think that I know it all, but, I frequently think that I know some, or if I'm being truly honest, that I know a lot, but the truth is, who cares how much I know if it is doing nothing in my spiritual life? If I am forgetting the bare bones? If I am overlooking things that would relieve stress and worry and anxiety in my life and replace them with peace and comfort or as Proverbs 3:8 says about us if we truly know these words
"Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!"
I am thankful that there are these moments when I can be reminded that there needs to be an adjustment. I am thankful that God is patient and will take responsibility for what I need to know and what I don't, for what I need to learn now and what I'm not ready for, making my only responsibility watching, listening, following Him. So, once again, I am going to change up my spiritual routine. I am going to shift gears, even though there may be a bit of grinding and difficulty so that I can be ready for whatever He may say or wherever He may lead.
Once again it is time to muzzle my inner know-it-all get back to "Trust[ing] God from the bottom of [my] heart; [NOT] try to figure out everything on [my] own."