Jun 19, 2009

Name That Tune

First of all, I wanted to address my throng of Facebook acolytes. I'm sure you are wondering why I have been putting up so many Notes lately. Well, I found a way to link my blog to my Facebook account, so any time I post on the blog it creates a Notes. That way Facebook people can read the blog without going to the blog. Now to the handful (literal) of you who read the blog on its own, the same great blogginess will be posted on the davidstaples.blogspot.com site. It just is also streamed to Facebook. What does that mean? There are now thousand and thousands and tens of thousands of new readers thanks to RSS feeds and Facebook. (I hope at least ONE of you got that reference.)

I know that many of you were thrilled to see me back to my powerful blog posts like yesterday's Tallahassee restaurant assessment. But, the reality is that I can't deliver that kind of earth-shattering posts all the time. I am just one man. So today, you have to deal with sappy, reflective, spiritual thoughts. As always, bear with me. The idiocy will return in short order.

This week was a little weird for me. Things were going well for the most part. Gabe has been fighting sleep like it was a pack of wolves. But I have been keeping up with the chores, having fun cooking, actually getting Defender work done. I've just been tired physically and emotionally. Part of the problem is the oppressive heat - which just saps my energy immediately. My Rheumatoid Arthritis has been acting up for a couple of months now, so I have a lower level of strength to begin with each day. Last night we had Family Night for VBS at Immanuel Baptist Church. The kids had gone there this week, which gave us a chance to try the church. They had a complete blast. Last night we got to go hear them sing and show what they had learned. Afterwards there was a cookout and bouncy houses.

Carrying Gabe there, standing in the heat, walking up the hills. All of it just really wore on me. I had been stressing all day, too, about the fact that Heather's first test is Monday. That means she is going to spend a lot of time this weekend studying. Weekends have always been a big deal with our family. We try to protect them so we can have family time. But test time means that the weekend is compromised - understandably so, seeing how much work Heather has. So I was tired, feeling down, hurting physically, and honestly a little lonely. This morning we overslept and had to rush to get everything done. They water at our complex was turned off at 9am to fix a busted water main - so we were really on a time crunch.

After I got the kids dropped off, I checked the mail. There was a letter from ICS (the school I taught at) with my "end of year gift" from the principal. $30 in iTunes cards. iTunes cards are one of my absolute favorite gifts. I get to go on the online site and pick from movies and music and television shows. It is just awesome. When I get right down to it, iTunes and Apple are my two favorite stores. So while Gabe was feasting on Blues Clues, I got to play on iTunes. I downloaded some free television shows and a $2.49 Christian music sampler. I was debating about a few different titles and decided to get Travis Cottrell's new "Jesus Saves LIVE" concert album.

I love Travis Cottrell. First of all, he led music at a few conferences I went to with the college ministry I was running. He just had a great heart and a wonderful way of leading worship. His guitarist, Benji Cowart, was in my seminary classes. As he has become more popular, it really seems like he has remained grounded and humble. I just like his worship style and his CDs. I downloaded the album and burned a copy to listen to in the car on the way to pick up the kids. The last song on the album was "In Christ Alone." There are two different songs by that name. There is the one sung by Michael English and then Brian Littrell. It is a great song. But then there is the one sung by Travis Cottrell and Avalon. They both are great, but the Cottrell version is one my all time favorite songs.

I started listening to the album, but skipped back to the last song, which was "In Christ Alone." I was singing with the song and within a minute I was just crying. I couldn't help it and really couldn't stop. I don't know why. I guess the mixture of everything going on just really hit me when the song was playing. But it was also the song itself. The words are so powerful - and they really ministered to me. Here are the lyrics:

In Christ alone my hope is found.
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This Cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace;
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease;
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied.
For every sin on Him was laid,
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay.
Light of the world by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth in glorious Day,
Up from the grave He rose again.
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me.
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand.
‘Til He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

The thing that I needed to be reminded of is the centrality of Christ in all of . . . this stuff. He is my hope. He is my salvation. He is my victory. He is the strength and power I need to survive everything this world throws at me. He is the One who has crafted my path in life. No one can take me away from Him. No one will break His love for me. He is the only One who will always be there for me. But beyond that, He is my reason for living. He is why I even try. He is my everything. When I am joyful and enjoyable to be around, it is because of the joy He has given me. If I teach well or preach in a stirring fashion, it is because He gave me the words to say.

Some people may feel this is stupid or foolish. And I know that some people I am friends with will hate my stance on this. But I can't deny it or apologize for it. It is simply what makes me who I am. If you are my friend, if you think highly of me, the reason for that is because I believe in Christ - because He is my central focus in life. It is because of my faith - not in spite of it. If I didn't have that, I would be a dark and moody and cutting and rude person. I have seen that side of me take hold before. But my desire to live for Christ overwhelms that. It is why I love my wife and want to serve her and help her. It is why I am patient with my kids and want to teach them. It is why I am generous with my friends and want to have fun with them. It is everything. That song drives all of that home more than almost anything I have heard. It was a good reminder to me.

I needed to hear all of those things. I needed a good cry. I needed to remember it is not about me, but who lives in me. I needed hope and encouragement. I needed those iTunes cards.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on a job well done, deserving of an end-of-the-year gift!

Thanks for the encouragement today.

My family appreciates the "new" hymn, "In Christ Alone" We have several recordings of it. I'll pull those out today and listen again.

Diane S.

Michelle said...

I was just recommending that song to someone yesterday. It is one of my all-time favorite songs. I studied the words on the way home from Guatemala last year as I faced what would be either the greatest joy or greatest disappointment of my life. The words brought me so much comfort no matter what the outcome would be.

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Anonymous said...

Love love love that hymn. So powerful. Yep.