Cover Songs

In the Music Business I have noticed lately that there are a number of songs out there that have been redone recently by different groups.  Some have a good quality to them, but we all know that it is hard to replace the original.

What I have realized in thinking about this is that there are many different versions of  the same song, but the original always seems to be the best copy because it has the artist’s original intentions for the song.  The original is the purest form of the song, it always seems to be the best and most preferred version for the listener…especially the listener that loves music.

That being said, there are often good cover songs out there, songs that remain pure to the artist intentions, and sometimes you will find a version that compares very closely to the original, but again, there is just something to be said about the original.

In thinking about this, however, I also realized that there is a preference for some to the first version of the song that they heard.  If a younger generation hears a song by a new artist that is a cover, but have never heard the original, sometimes they tend to prefer the version that they heard first.  Many times it tends to be the first version that is heard that becomes the one that is hard to overcome when hearing other versions….this leads me into a discussion that takes place within the church.

There are many versions of the scripture that have taken hold within the church today, and honestly, I understand the debate…but let me ask this question: Is the Word leading them to the One, True God?  This is not a debate about which scripture to use…in fact, what I want to discuss is that we are to be examples of Christ to the world…in essence, we are his cover song.

Is your life echoing the original, or have you messed with the tune and tried to make what was perfect better? Are you living a life that resembles Christ or are you trying to become a different version of Christ? There was only one version of Christ, and that version came to this earth and lived a perfect life, put it all behind him and endured a cross that was intended for you and I…and we are simply asked to live a life that resembles Him to the world.

Since we are the cover of the original, we may look and sound similar, but we are not the original…rather than trying to improve on the original, I would challenge you to try to look and sound as close to the original as you can, so that others can see the truth about who He is. The fact remains that the original was the purest form of what we are to be in this life we have on earth, and there is not a single one of us that can do it better than Him…so stop trying to form your own version of the Gospel, and live out the life that resembles the original artist. The Original was Jesus Christ Himself…do others see Christ at work in you? Or do they see you working to try and improve on Christ?

Just a thought.

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“I Just Don’t Get it…Why Lord?”

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“Why did this person have to die?”

There are many questions that we sometimes ask; especially in times when we thought things should have been different.  We just don’t understand why things happen the way that they do in this life…that being said, we must look to the scripture for answers.

One of the best examples that we can find is the story of Job.  Job was a man who served God…he was a man that caught the devil’s attention and one that Satan wanted to cause to fall away.  Let me start by reminding you, if Satan is challenging your faith, you need to stay strong, you wouldn’t be on his radar if you were already living a life for him.

So why do bad things happen to God’s people?  Because Satan wants to try and make anything happen that will cause us to question our faith.  He took away Job’s family, his home, and all his belongings, but Job stayed strong through the testing and fire.  Are you staying strong in your trials today?  Scripture tells us in James 1:2-4:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

The testing that comes from Satan will produce a sturdy faith that will stand firm no matter what storm we face if we will keep our focus on God.  Job stood firm, chose to continue following God, and when he became weak and questioned God, we see that God answered him, reminding him of who He (God) is and when all was said and done, Job was doubly blessed by the trial he faced.

Remember:

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:26-28

God will help you through, don’t let these trials tear you down, but let them become a blessing; both for you and for someone else.

Life…Filtered

Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Instagram…

All of these apps for our smartphones have become a way for folks to put aside the reality of life and almost put on an alternate reality in many cases…

Before you get mad, let me explain. It all has to do with filters.

Each of these has a way to alter reality and make it more appealing to our audience…we can change the lighting of a landscape, we can remove blemishes from our faces and add a dog face if we so desire.

What it comes down to is that we can take what we feel is ugly and turn it into something that we think people will be drawn to…something that they will talk about…but are we being real? Or simply just trying to mask the ugliness of life?

We tend to try and do this with sin as well…we see the ugliness in our lives and we try to cover it up by “filtering” it.  We try to cover it with a story of how it’s ok for us to do this or that because “God wants us to be happy,” or “God didn’t design us to be boring.” But the truth is, he does want us to be happy, but not by covering up the world and hiding who we really are.  In fact, the best filter that we can put on is Christ.

Jesus is like a permanent Snapchat beauty filter. He removes the blemishes from our lives, takes away the dark and the sin and leaves us beautiful before God.  He has smoothed out our wrinkles and made us look brand new because of his sacrifice.  Stop trying to find things to cover your sin and allow the blood of Christ to wash them away.

Live life unfiltered by the world so that the savior can work with the beauty that is the real you…allow him to be your filter….there is nothing more beautiful than when others can see Christ in you.

What is your Goal?

Goals…we all have them, we set them daily. We strive to make things better by setting goals that we think we can attain.  Whether it is a goal to be married by a certain age, to have a certain number of kids, or even a career goal that we set out to achieve, many of us have a goal for where we would like to finish up in an area of our lives.

I’ve noticed recently, however, that when it comes to our Christian walk we have set goals that seem to get us off point when trying to move forward. Bear with me for a moment and I will explain, but I feel we need to be quite careful when setting ourselves goals in this area.

Let’s take a look at some goals that we may have:

“My goal is to get to heaven.”

“I have a goal to keep myself out of hell.”

“I want to be the best person I can be in this life.” Or maybe, “I want to be known as a good person.”

And while all of those are well and good, they miss the point of what our Christian life should look like.  Heaven is not a goal we should strive to attain…Heaven is a reward for living the life that we have been called to live.  Living just to stay out of Hell will certainly send you there if your focus is solely on that.  Being a good person doesn’t accomplish the goals that God has for us in life.

If these are your goals, you’re missing the point.  Our lone goal should be to establish a relationship with our Creator…to establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who thought that we were worth dying for…even when we weren’t worth dying for.

Romans 5:8 says, “God showed His love for us in this way, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

While we were yet sinners…he didn’t wait until we got it right to die for us, and he doesn’t want us to wait until we accomplish our goals of getting it right before we accept his gift. Set a goal today to accept his sacrifice in your life….if your journey is based on getting to heaven you’re missing the road to get there.  Jesus said there is only one way to God and that is through him.  He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), and the only way to get to heaven, stay out of hell, and become a good person in this world is to die to ourselves and develop a personal relationship with him by allowing the Holy Spirit to take hold of our hearts.

So…what is your goal today?

Being Still and Just Knowing

Silence and Rest…

It is something I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about because life can get very overwhelming at times.

One of the things that came to mind is the importance of silence in our lives. As a coach, I often encourage athletes to relax and take a few moments to quiet themselves and just focus on the upcoming game or event, sometimes encouraging them to separate themselves from others so that they can truly focus without distraction.

I have found that many times in life we tend to need moments like that as well; times where we just get away from the noise and focus. How many times have you found yourself longing to get away from all the distractions of life and just be alone with your thoughts? Maybe you have tried to separate yourself to accomplish a task with no interruptions…maybe you just wanted the peace and quiet that you can’t seem to get with the hustle and bustle going on around you.

Whatever it is, I believe it is a natural feeling to find solitude at times. God created this world and took a day to rest and enjoy what He had created…we need those times to get away and enjoy His creation as well.

I firmly believe that times of quiet are vital to our relationship with God.  I don’t mean the “Quiet Times” that we were told about in Youth Group growing up, where you pull out a devotional in the middle of a busy restaurant or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office…I mean times where you actually pull away from everything and practice what Psalm 46:10 says…a time to “be still, and know that I am God.”

How do I know that these moments are important to us? Jesus even told his disciples to get away from all the distraction to reflect on what they had seen and experienced.  Mark 6:30-32 gives us this insight that Jesus finally told his disciples to come away with him by themselves “to a quiet place and get some rest. (v. 31)”

Get away with God today…separate yourself from the paperwork, from the noise, from the errands and the running around.  Hop in the car, turn down the radio, and drive to a spot that is secluded…remove yourself from the noise and find a quiet place to sit with your Bible and reflect on the good things that God has done.  Get away with Jesus to a quiet place and get some rest.

You might be surprised at what you will hear when you take the time to be still and just know that He is God.

Forced Removal

This is not at all the planned article for this week, but given recent circumstances I felt that this is the article that needed to be written…

This is not political…this is not in favor one way or another of the situation given that I do not have all the facts, but it did lead me to a very deep thought process that truly has opened my eyes to something that maybe we have difficulty seeing sometimes.

By now, I’m sure that many of you have seen the video on the news of the passenger being forcefully removed from a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville…the story being shown is that the passenger refused to give up a seat on an “overbooked” flight to apparently open seats for pilots who needed to get to Louisville for another flight the following day.

What it spurred in my mind is this…that nothing is overbooked with God.  We will never be forced to leave His presence…we will never be pulled out of His grasp.  The airline asked for volunteers to leave, and then as one passenger put it, “United decided for them” who would be removed.  God welcomes all to come and will never ask us to give up our seat at the table to accommodate someone who is “more important.”

It is a truly sad video to watch, and honestly, as I said before, I do not know enough details about the situation to determine who was right or wrong, but as I watched it I was comforted in knowing that Christ died for all of us and not only for a few elect.  No one else can determine whether we are worthy of the sacrifice that he made for us because God has already determined that we are all worthy of His gift.  The fact is that none of us are worthy on our own, but because of God’s mercy and grace we have been accepted as rightful heirs to His kingdom.

We are God’s children, and no one can take that away from us. NO ONE can tell you that you’re not good enough, no matter what your past holds.  NO ONE can tell you that you are unworthy of Christ’s sacrifice, because it is not their place to judge for God.  NO ONE except for YOU can remove yourself from the benefits of God’s grace.  Only you can decide whether you accept His gift.

Today, I encourage you to accept the gift that God has so freely given…accept that Jesus came and died on a cross for your sins and was raised again, defeating death and hell, to give you a chance at life eternal with Him.  You are a child of God and it is your rightful place, not because you earned it, but because He gave it…so accept His grace and live a life guided by the Holy Spirit, showing others how to take their seat at the Table of God; after all, there are plenty of seats available.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23, HCSB

God Plans for Our Success

I have been studying the first few chapters of Genesis lately, and in studying I have come to a realization that we fail to see in many aspects of our lives today…God truly plans for our success.

In Genesis 3 we see the story of Eve and the Serpent…God had made sure that Adam and Eve were aware of the tree that they should not eat from…in fact, just as a child knows not to stick a fork in an outlet or to touch a hot burner on a stove, they took God’s word for it when they were told that if they were to eat or even touch the tree that they would die…until Satan stepped in and changed Eve’s perspective.

What we see is that Eve told the serpent that she could not eat from the tree because God had told them not to eat from the tree, but much like today, Satan convinced Eve that God was withholding something “good” from her.  We are all like Adam or Eve…we are either passive and partake because someone else is doing it, or we are the ones who know it is wrong and yet we partake because we convince ourselves that God is holding something back from us and that we need to experience the joys of life.

I challenge you today to take a close look at these “joys” of life that we believe we are missing out on…God has a reason that we should avoid certain things…It might have been the best tasting fruit in the Garden…it might have been the prettiest tree, but God’s command was clear; They were to avoid that tree…but Satan convinced Eve that she was missing out on a blessing…which turned out to be a curse.

Look at how Eve’s mind changed from not wanting to partake to seeing that the tree was “good for food” and “attractive to the eye” in Genesis 3:6-7, so she ate.  She threw away everything God had told her with His Word, and His Word should have been enough, just as it should for all of us…but, it wasn’t…she felt the need for proof, but it would be a deadly decision…and Adam went along with it.

Today, I challenge you to take God at His word…listen to what He says to you and filter it through His word…If the world tells you how God would want you to have it and how God would want you to be happy, look to His word and see what He has to say about it, it could just be the devil in snake’s clothing slipping in and telling you everything is going to be alright…but just because it looks and tastes good, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you.  Just some “food” for thought.

God has a plan for your success…don’t listen to those who tell you His plan is simply Him holding out on you…it might be that you just don’t see the consequences until it’s too late.