These songs have brought me comfort

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I’m not going to lie. The last few months have been hard. Heartbreaking, really. I went through a similar experience while preaching south of Muncie. I think I wound up conducting something like four funerals over the span of three months. It takes its emotional toll.

Back in November, we lost David, his mother, and his daughter. My grandma died right before Christmas. And then Dr. Phil Gerhart, a man who impacted my life and the lives of so many others in ways I cannot even describe (but will try to at some point in the very near future), died. There are moments when I feel overwhelmed with wave after wave after wave of loss. It’s almost like I’m drowning.

And that hurts.

In these moments of hurt and loss and sadness, it is inevitable that a song pops into my head and I find my heart pouring out in worship. The songs that keep popping up in my head? They are songs I haven’t heard or sung in years.

The Old Rugged Cross

It is Well with my Soul

Are you familiar with Audrey Assad? You should be. There’s a haunting beauty in her voice. And her story as the daughter of a Syrian refugee is especially poignant today. I admit that this was not the version of this hymn that has been churning in my soul, but it could be. It could be…

How Great Thou Art*

The majority of the congregations where I’ve worshiped and served over the past 30 years have leaned toward the contemporary side of Sunday morning worship. I’ve sung countless worship songs during that time. Many are deeply moving and have strong connections to my own personal faith story. And songs from the likes of Andrew Peterson, Rich Mullins, and Steven Curtis Chapman are woven into my story, too.

It’s an interesting thing, however, that the songs that I have found my heart singing over and over again these past months are songs from my childhood. Don’t read too much into that if you’re looking for me to take some kind of stand in the decades-old “Worship Wars.” I just think it’s a fascinating thing that during times of sorrow and heartbreak, I have found myself turning to the classic hymns.

Of course, it’s not just the simple music of the hymns. It’s not the creativity of contemporary songs of worship. It’s the One to whom these songs point. That is where real comfort, hope, love, and strength is found.

I don’t really have anything profound to say about this. I just pray that you are able to find some comfort in these songs that I’ve shared. And I hope they impact you they way they have touched me throughout the years.

*Yes, I know this is sung by the BYU Singers. Yes, I know BYU is a Mormon school. No, I’m not getting into any theological discussions or debates about that. The history of the hymn is powerful. Challenging. Inspiring. I don’t care who is singing it. The message remains. 

Remembering Rich Mullins

"It's not gonna matter if you have a few scars. It will matter if you didn't live." Rich Mullins

You might remember that I mentioned back in April that I announced to the entire Ichthus Christian Music Festival that Christy was not, in fact my girlfriend. Of course, we all know she really was my girlfriend by this point. We just hadn’t admitted it to each other. If you don’t remember that post, or have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, you can go to this post and catch up. Don’t worry. I’ll wait for you. It won’t take that long to read.

That was also the last time I heard Rich Mullins perform. I did get to meet him about a year later, but I missed out on hearing him sing. If you don’t remember that story, you really should read it.  It’s OK. I promise I’ll wait for you.

There are a few things I remember about that concert, even though it was twenty years ago. I remember he was barefoot onstage. At least, I’m pretty sure he was barefoot onstage. I also remember he sang a song that he had written that Amy Grant had originally made famous. When he introduced it, he jokingly said that she had screwed it up. Or maybe he wasn’t joking? I guess you can decide for yourself.

I spent some time listening to Rich today. I’m not gonna lie. I wept when I heard some of his songs. In some ways, I think his music speaks to me today more than it did when i first heard him. A few musicians have taken up his mantle, but there will never be another Rich.

Next year marks the twentieth anniversary of the crash that took his life. I think it would be great to put together some kind of tribute to him, celebrating the impact he made on countless lives in the past as well as the present. I’m not sure what it will be, but I think it should include some form of audience participation. I don’t know. Maybe some kind of crowdsourced video or something?

We have a few months to think about it. I’m sure we can come up with something. Right? Who’s with me?

 

“She’s NOT my girlfriend!”

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20 years ago today, I found myself walking through a field near Wilmore, Kentucky with a girl I had a HUGE crush on. A group of us from Milligan had made the trek from Tennessee’s fair eastern mountains to my friend, Scott’s, hometown. Scott lived a mere hop, skip, and jump away from the granddaddy of all Christian music festivals: Ichthus Music Festival. So we crashed at his house and spent the day Saturday listening to band after band after band. I honestly don’t remember many of the bands we listened to that day. We did get to hear Rich Mullins, which was an experience I’ll never forget. I’m pretty sure I listened to a band called The Choir. They had a really cool shirt with something that looked like a flying frog on it. I bought that and wore it until it literally fell apart.

VenueKings.comThat’s about it.

I’m sorry I don’t remember much about the bands. If you performed that weekend and I saw you, I’m sorry. I’m sure you were great. My attentions were kind of focused elsewhere. I couldn’t believe this girl wanted to hang out with me and walk around the festival with me and share a snack with me. We might have even held hands a time or two. I was in heaven.

Yeah, there were some awkward moments. We hadn’t exactly expressed our affections for each other yet, but everyone knew. Shoot, even one of the guys in one of the food trucks could tell. He told me I should buy some food for my girlfriend.

“She’s NOT my girlfriend!”

I snapped back at him. Yeah. Smooth move there, Casanova. They should’ve called me Rico Suave.
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In spite of my ineptitude, that girl still hung out with me after I shouted down that poor food on a stick salesman. And now, 20 years later, it’s a lot less awkward. I love hanging out with her and we don’t worry if anyone sees us hold hands. We’ve traveled the world together and we have four amazing kids. Yeah, it was awkward in Wilmore, Kentucky. But I’m incredibly thankful that she stuck around. We’ve been on an amazing journey together and I’m excited beyond words to discover the next chapter of our life together.

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Man….

20 years…

Has it really been that long? It feels like a lifetime and a blink of an eye all wrapped into one. And I can’t believe I get to share it all with her every day for the rest of my life.

“It’s not gonna matter…”

"It's not gonna matter if you have a few scars. It will matter if you didn't live." Rich Mullins

Christy and I saw Ragamuffin, the movie based on the life of Rich Mullins, this past weekend. Quite a bit of it is still rattling around in my brain. This quote was used in the film and it hasn’t left me since I heard it. It sounds like a challenge. A challenge to accept the gift that God has given us and live life in relentless pursuit of God.

Challenge accepted?

“So go out and live real good and I promise you’ll get beat up real bad. But, in a little while after you’re dead, you’ll be rotted away anyway. It’s not gonna matter if you have a few scars. It will matter if you didn’t live.”

Rich Mullins
Lufkin, Texas
July 19, 1997

 

My Ultimate Christmas Playlist: You Gotta Get Up (Christmas Song)

You Gotta Get Up

In You Gotta Get Up (Christmas Song), Rich Mullins captures the excitement of a little child ready for Christmas morning.

Last night I heard reindeers on my roof.
Oh you may think I’m exaggerating but I know
I’m telling you the truth.

Did my sister get a baby doll?
Did my brother get his bike
Did I get that red wagon –
The kind that makes you fly?

Man – what a fun song. And I find myself singing this song all Christmas morning long.

Merry Christmas, everyone! What did Santa leave you for Christmas this year?

It’s hot. And you need a cool #TwitterTuesday

TwitterTuesday

Yeah. You have to read the entire thread to get full glory of the tweet.

Speaking of cups….let’s take a moment and listen to the original Cups Song…

I know. It’s way too early for a musical interlude. But it was totally worth it.

Time to press on into cool #TwitterTuesday awesomeness (because it’s hot, Don!*)

My evil plan is working. Soon I will take over the world…mwahahaha

One of the many, many reasons tubas rock.

Nothing more to say about that.

Not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that I’m associated with Miley’s performance. It is what it is, I guess.

Thank you, Dr. King. Thank you.

Then the Hoosiers did this…

Unfortunately, this past Saturday was a different story. But that’s another post. An entirely different post.

I love my co-workers.

Yet again, Los knocked it out of the park.

So….what are you dreaming about? What God-sized dream has He given you?

Yeah. The crowd was electric. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Gonna recap that in another post. Probably tomorrow.

SO EXCITED about Indy Pop Con!

Thanks for checking in to this installment of #TwitterTuesday! Tune in next time where I might just include your tweet. Unless you aren’t on twitter. Then I won’t. Because I can’t. So maybe you should just get on twitter and follow me.

Whaddya say?

*If you have any connection to Evansville at all, you want to click that link. Trust me.

Flashback Friday: Rich Mullins

This trailer for Ragamuffin, the story about Rich Mullins, was released this week. I cannot wait for this movie. Yes, I’m more excited about this movie than I am about Star Trek and Iron Man.

True, the man playing Rich doesn’t have Rich’s voice. Not sure anyone has a speaking voice like his. But he captures his speech pattern and accent pretty well. As I watched this trailer, I couldn’t help but remember my one-on-one encounter with Rich Mullins oh so many years ago…

The Summer of ’97 was the year I stuck around at Milligan and took summer classes. I was walking into the Student Union Building (commonly referred to as the SUB…I know – creative, isn’t it?) for a reason that I can’t recall. I do remember that it was hot and I had on my Chewbacca t-shirt. As I walked in, I saw Rich walking with someone else (I had no idea who the other guy was…still don’t). Rich had on some jeans and a plain white t-shirt. He walked by me and said, “Hey, nice shirt!”

All I could muster was, “Thanks,” as he walked out the building. I’ll never wash this shirt again, I thought to myself. Then I kicked myself for not grabbing him and thanking him for the influence his music had been in my life.

The story doesn’t end there, though. If you haven’t read it, you have to read what happens next.

Flashback Friday

My Senior portrait. And do note that the t-shirt says Milligan, not Michigan.
My Senior portrait. Notice the Milligan t-shirt.

Today was the last day of school for Christy and the kids.

Cowan’s graduation is tonight.

And fifteen years ago, I donned the cap and gown and did all I could not to actually march to the tune of Pomp & Circumstance.

I like to say that during the early 80s, I kind of lived under a rock when it came to popular music. After you watch one of the more popular videos from my Senior year, you’ll see why I decided to climb back under that rock and spend my time listening to the likes of Rich Mullins, Tchaikovsky, Aaron Copland, and Simon & Garfunkel.

The Music Died

The music died 50 years ago today. And a nation mourned. I never really understood that mourning until twelve years ago when I heard about Rich Mullins’s unexpected death. I’m no rock n roll expert or historian, but I do know that Buddy Holly had a huge influence on many musicians…and he still influences many today. If those three had never stepped onto that plane, I wonder what the music landscape would have become. Of course, we’ll never know that now.

Of course, we wouldn’t have Don McLean’s American Pie without that tragic event, would we?

Are any TV channels showing The Buddy Holly Story or La Bamba today? Someone should be.

Christmas at Home

After far too long of a delay, I’ve finally managed to upload chapter 2 of the 2008 Todd Christmas Extravaganza. If you missed the first installment, you can watch the video here.

You might be wondering what’s going on at the 1:12 mark. That’s the invitation we wrapped for the kids, telling them that we’re going to Disney World! It’s all Alyson talks about now. I think she might not even care about the long car ride this time. 🙂

And yes, that’s a picture of a crackling fire – on TV. There actually was a station that was showing a fireplace with Christmas music playing. We were quite proud of our new fireplace.

I had to put this one on youtube instead of Photobucket because Photobucket wouldn’t allow it for some reason. It said there was an error. Oh well.