Category Archives: The Father’s Song

Moses & the 40-Year Band Rehearsal

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One divine melody permeates the grand narrative of redemptive history.  In The Father’s Song series, Jeremy guides us through the biblical narrative–from Genesis to Revelation–with “ears to hear” the penetrating God-beat keeping everything in sync. This excerpt is called describes the 40-year stubbornness of Moses and Israel in the desert.

I spent several years substitute teaching in the public schools to pay my way through seminary. Substitute teaching is not for the faint of heart. In order to survive, you must have thick skin, the patience of a saint and the ability to give the impression that you’re in control when you have absolutely none!

Some subs choose their classes carefully, avoiding certain subjects and grade levels that will prove more difficult than others. For example, library monitor or 10th grade history are two safe choices: the first you just read a book and occasionally remind the children to “use inside voices”; the second you usually pop in a History Channel video and hit play. Other subs live a bit more on the wild side. Perhaps the boldest of them all is the 6th grade band sub with no band experience…

I remember well the day I walked into the band room expecting to show”The Music Man” or something and instead found a conductor’s baton and detailed instructions on which musical pieces to lead the class through! The rest of the day is a blur. Continue reading Moses & the 40-Year Band Rehearsal

FATHER’S SONG (13): Dancing Together As One (Paul & NT Letters)

DancingJesus lived his entire life completely swept up in the rhythms of The Father’s Song. Remember that in the very beginning, before the creation of the world, all that existed was the eternal dance of the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit enjoying pure, self-giving, mutual joy and love between their three eternally distinct persons.

This is a mystery for sure. But when “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14) we were given a glimpse of what it looks like when a human being lives in perfect oneness with the Triune Godhead. This is the One who said: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does” (John 5:19).

The Bible defines “sin” using an old archery term (Geek harmartia) which means to “miss the target.” Borrowing from the world of music, sin is then “singing out of key” or “playing out of tune.” Every single word and deed of Jesus’ life was right on target, with perfect pitch and totally in tune with the Father.

Before Jesus left this earth to return to the Father he prayed a most majestic prayer on behalf of his followers. His famous prayer is recorded in John 17: Continue reading FATHER’S SONG (13): Dancing Together As One (Paul & NT Letters)

FATHER’S SONG (12): More Than Sheet Music (Jesus)

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As the OT comes to a close, God’s plan to bring a tone-deaf and clumsy footed people back into the harmonious rhythms of The Father’s Song seems a giant failure. If only these notes on a page could become music in one’s ear.  If only someone could learn to play each note perfectly, perhaps the world would be irresistibly drawn to the music and join in the chorus. If only someone could breathe life into the sheet music and make it dance like those dry bones did in Ezekiel’s vision. If only the Word, God’s very wisdom, power and purposes, could become flesh and dwell among us.

Enter Jesus.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  This shocking statement brings us to the climactic point of “The Father’s Song” survey of the Bible. Continue reading FATHER’S SONG (12): More Than Sheet Music (Jesus)

FATHER’S SONG (11): Country Break-Up Songs (Prophets)

ce71465f6e2affc042319e2c5b0ecebc-377-250There is the right song for every situation.  There is music for every mood.  And everyone’s musical library should include a good collection of quality break-up songs.

Country music provides plenty of options for this category.  My go-to-guy for heart-wrenching, gut-punching break-up songs is without question Chris Isaak.

I bought Chris Isaak’s Forever Blue album back in ’95 when I was 16-years old.  Every single track is a tale of romantic woe, heartache and a hopeless outlook on love.  Isaak’s matchless Elvis-Orbison-like voice and soothing acoustic guitar makes this otherwise painfully depressing collection of songs enjoyable.

My friend, Peter, is still upset a decade and a half later that I made him listen to the entire album start to finish in my car as part of his “healing” the night he broke up with his girlfriend.  I thought it would provide some solace and sympathy reminding him he wasn’t alone, and “misery loves company.”  He claims it was pure torture and only threw salt on his wounded heart. Here’s a taste:

172357_1_fThe stars have all stopped shining,
the sun just won’t break through.
Each days the same, more clouds more rain.
You’re left forever blue.

(Chris Isaak, Forever Blue)

On second thought, maybe he was right…

Unfaithful lovers.  Wounded hearts.  Longing and regret. Fighting and forgiveness.  Pain and sorrow.  Long, lonely nights. All core elements of a good break-up song and all part of the universal human experience — going back thousands of years by the way. As we continue our melodious trek through the Bible, tracing the theme of The Father’s Song, we come now to the books of the prophets of Israel.   Continue reading FATHER’S SONG (11): Country Break-Up Songs (Prophets)

FATHER’S SONG (10): Elevator Music (Solomon)

TV Dancing With The StarsIf you want a powerful image of what it looks like to living in tune with The Father’s Song and in perfect step with the Spirit, watch an episode of Dancing With the Stars. The dancers must be in perfect step with one another; but even more importantly they must be intimately familiar with the music.  Every note, beat and break must be exhaustively rehearsed and every step, stride and strut perfectly choreographed and timed to precision.

One thing is for sure: These dancers are completely absorbed in and focused intently on the music that is moving them so purposefully and elegantly across the dance floor.

Now, contrast this image with another one.  Step into your local bookstore, Dentist office, hotel lobby or elevator and you will likely hear soft, inconspicuous background music setting the mood.  Background music serves a completely different role than the music on Dancing With the Stars.  Rather than being swept up, taken over and moved to and fro by elevator music, it’s intended purpose is merely to provide a splash of ambience and atmosphere.  It holds little influence or power, it simply adds a touch of sound to fill the silence.

By the time we reach David’s son and successor to Israel’s throne, King Solomon, The Father’s Song would seem to be serving more and more as background, elevator music in these bumpy narratives.  Solomon, in particular, is a case in point.   Continue reading FATHER’S SONG (10): Elevator Music (Solomon)

FATHER’S SONG (9): Israel’s iPod (Psalms)

1046367_f3f7_625x1000I have over 2,000 songs in my iTunes library.  I also have a much smaller “Playlist” of all my favorites: songs that make me smile and move me to dancing, songs that evoke significant memories, songs I’ve shared with special friends, songs that comfort me and songs that move me to tears.  Skimming through another person’s music collection can often give you a small window into that person’s soul.

By God’s grace the ancient “Favorites Playlist” of Israel has been preserved for us in the 150 song collection we call the Psalms.  We have in the middle of our Bibles essentially the iPod of the ancient Israelite people.  This collection of 150 songs includes hymns for holy days, community laments, individual laments, songs of pious persons, thank-offering songs, royal songs and more.  They were written by the community and for the community of Israel.  Many are attributed to individuals such as David and Asaph.  They are the raw, unfiltered poetic scribbles and lyrical expressions of man’s search for God amidst all the struggles common to man.   Continue reading FATHER’S SONG (9): Israel’s iPod (Psalms)

FATHER’S SONG (8): David Sings the National Anthem

64643~King-David-Posters

One divine melody permeates the grand narrative of redemptive history.  In this series, Jeremy is guiding us through the biblical narrative–from Genesis to Revelation–with “ears to hear” the penetrating God-beat keeping everything in sync.

The winner of the second season of the ancient Near Eastern version of American Idol was the electrifying, rags-to-riches shepherd boy from Bethlehem named David. (Though the word “idol” probably wouldn’t be used so loosely among the people of Israel!) David’s first brush with stardom came after his defeat of the the giant Goliath. This would be only the first in a long string of award-winning victories on the battlefield. David became a mighty warrior-king and violent battle imagery would be a prominent theme in many of his future hit singles.  When he wasn’t in battle, he managed to have a productive musical career as well as “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Sam. 23:1).

Yet, let’s stop for a moment to examine the great shift in mood that is taking place in this ongoing soundtrack to The Father’s Song. If something like Handel’s Messiah captures the majestic mood of the Triune God providentially at work in a world, moving history towards its goal of everlasting justice and universal “shalom”; then the background music to the violent, military sagas of David and his victories over national enemies in the early years of the monarchy sounds more like the abrasive, tension-filled score to the movie Gladiator. Continue reading FATHER’S SONG (8): David Sings the National Anthem

FATHER’S SONG (7): Before American Idol: Saul (1 Samuel)

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One divine melody permeates the grand narrative of redemptive history.  In this series, Jeremy is guiding us through the biblical narrative–from Genesis to Revelation–with “ears to hear” the penetrating God-beat keeping everything in sync.

The Patriarchal and theocratic years of the Old Testament (Genesis-Judges) have provided the first several musical tracks of the Father’s Song. So far we have caught a glimpse of the eternal, harmonious dance of the Trinity before the creation of the world, and witnessed the Father singing the world and humanity into existence. We saw our first human ancestors stray from the Creator’s intended groove, starting their own amateur, out-of-tune band. Cosmic dissonance was the result (Fall). God’s solution was to start over by forming a small band of people beginning with Abraham and his descendants who would live once again in the divine rhythms of the Father’s Song.

Exodus through Judges has been one long, 40-year long, ear-piercing band rehearsal as God’s people struggle to get in sync with each other and God. The book of Judges ends on a rather sour note reminiscent of a band on the verge of break-up. Perhaps, they wonder, if we found the right lead man, we could turn this thing around and make it on the charts! Here’s my paraphrase of Judges 21:25: “In those days Israel’s band had no lead man; all the musicians played their own tune.”

At last, we now enter the era of the kings and the monarchy of Israel in our exploration of The Father’s Song — a sweeter sounding, broad sketch of the Bible.

Long before there was American Idol, there were wandering, religious charismatics with significant tribal influence called “judges”. Gideon, Samson, Deborah, Barak and others came first. Then the prophet-judge Samuel begins the transition from the period of the judges to the monarchy of Israel. Despite having received the written score of the Father’s Song at Sinai, the band of Israel was unable to learn to live and perform the song on their own. They decided, against God’s will, that they need a talented, charming, crowd-swaying lead man to get the band back on track. They cry out their aging “producer” or “agent” Samuel: “Now appoint for us a king to lead us like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:5-6). Continue reading FATHER’S SONG (7): Before American Idol: Saul (1 Samuel)