Archive for February, 2015

God and Music

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Wow, when things get busy, they really get busy. Denise is working harder than ever, and I’ve been out of town. Still, I have no excuses for not talking about God. Supernaturally speaking, it’s sort of inevitable. The more you want to talk about God, the more resistance you’re going to get. But that, my friends, is a completely different blog.

So when I’m rushed and don’t know what to say, I talk about something that I really love, which is music. Now, I don’t know about you, but you just can’t explain music without God. There is simply no way to fit music into evolution, or secular humanism, or anything apart from God, who gives some of us the gift of being able to play, and the rest of us the ability to feel the powerful emotional touch that comes from music. That’s why most musicians will never attribute anything they do musically to themselves. They can’t. Even when they don’t necessarily call it “God,” they know that it all seemed to exist outside of them, and that they were merely permitted to grab onto a part of it. If you watch the Oscars, you’ll see a lot of people thanking their producers, their directors, and their fellow actors, but if you watch the Grammys or the County Music Awards, a ton of people thank God or Jesus Christ.

When I play concerts, which is certainly not very often, I try to end by talking about the notion of gifts and infinity. God gives all of us gifts. Some of us are blessed with the gift of being able to make music, but we all have something, and each of you have at least one, and probably several, really wonderful gifts from God. And because we’re also given an ability to understand the concept of infinity, we can immediately take a known concept and imagine what it might be like in its infinite or perfect form. So, for example, if a piece of music seems beautiful, people can think of beauty and imagine it in its perfect form. This perfect form, of course, is the thing that awaits all of us when we enter the Kingdom as followers of Jesus Christ.

Every good thing that we do provides people with a glimpse of God and heaven, because we can reach people through our gifts and then tell them, “now imagine how you might feel if you experienced this thing in its infinite and perfect form.” That’s probably why one of my favorite passages is Matthew 5:14, which says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before [others], that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

So . . . whatever your gift, find someone and share it with them. Heck, share it with me!

But never forget to give all the glory to the one who gave it to you.

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Pope Francis, Freedom of Speech, and Love

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I didn’t have time to write about it when it happened, but I was quite impressed by the Pope’s comments concerning freedom of speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris. Basically, he said that there must be limits to what we say or depict, and that perhaps deriding someone’s deeply held faith should be one of those limits. No, he didn’t condone the killings in Paris, but he took a decidedly Jesus-like attitude toward the whole thing. Here is the Wall Street Journal’s story on it:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/pope-francis-sees-limits-to-freedom-of-speech-1421325757

Think of it this way, is making fun of anyone really a loving thing to do? What if it hurts people to do it? In the Charlie Hebdo case, the cartoons led not only to killings in Paris, but also to a variety of politicians saying that we should root out radical Islamists and kill them. Everything surrounding the decision to run the cartoons seems to have led only to a focus on killing other people, and that simply cannot be squared with anything taught by Jesus Christ.

Sure, we allow freedom of expression in America, and so we allow people to get away with tons of horrible and hurtful things in the name of the First Amendment because we are “Americans.” But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have some self-restraint.

In another story, the group Reporters Without Borders said that the Pope’s statements were dangerous, and that limits to freedom of expression should never be set by religious leaders. Well, I disagree. By following Jesus, I often have to refrain from things that may be within my rights to do, but that would hurt people, and thus would not reflect God’s love. Everyone has a choice, and I simply choose to follow Jesus. He limits my secular freedoms every day, and I am better for it.

A couple of weeks ago, Face the Nation host Bob Shieffer said that he likes Pope Francis because he often reminds us that religion is about kindness. And so Shieffer, a self-described “strong” defender of the First Amendment, nonetheless ended his show by saying that the Pope’s comments about freedom of expression remind us that “there is a difference in having the right to do something and doing the right thing.” I think Jesus would agree.


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