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Remember… is one of the most frequently repeated commands in the Old Testament. Even God Himself, as revealed through the prophets, appears as much a reflective and contemplative Being as one Who focuses only on the future. That the God and Father of us all and the Creator of the universe would take time to ‘remember’ should give us some idea of the importance of such a discipline. For me, ‘remembering’ often makes me deal with the truth about how dependent I really am. I believe that this is particularly important in Western Civilization where such a high value is placed on independence.
I think ‘remembering’ puts independence in its proper place. The truth is that we are not independent at all; and our forgetfulness of this truth epitomizes our sinful condition. “Remember” is a compilation of two nights of ministry. The first night was recorded in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The tornado that devastated Oklahoma City was headed right for us the night we were scheduled to begin our ministry at a local church. At first the church leadership wanted to send everyone to a protected area. I suggested, ‘maybe we could sneak a little worship song in before we head to shelter’. They agreed and we began to sing the song, They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love. When we got into the middle of the song I was led to begin speaking directly to that tornado. I did not want to do this because I could not get past the thought of how stupid I would look speaking against this tornado and then, when the song was over, all of us having to run for our lives to shelter. I was afraid that my words… .might just be words… absent the power of God to stop that tornado. But while thinking this very thought I found myself already speaking… it was too late to stop. So it surprised me more than anyone else to later learn that, immediately as we started praying, the tornado system mysteriously broke apart. (How weak my faith is!) God literally stopped a tornado that night as we played and prayed. I hope I never forget it.
Yes God can stop a natural tornado. But much more importantly, if we would ask, God will stop the spiritual tornadoes that divide us and render us such an anemic force on the earth. My prayer is that we will ‘come to the water’, the very love of the Father, and quickly shed the independence that so weakens us. Only then will we be able to take on the radical dependence of a child that was the strength of the early Christians. The remainder of “Remember” was recorded eleven weeks later in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Great River Road is the beginning of that journey into childhood. This song is my own personal testimony… followed by a spontaneous time of leading the people through deliverance from rejection, anger, disillusionment, etc.
When You Were a Child, was inspired by Hosea 11 and by watching my own children. The second verse, “when you were a child the world was the unknown, but you were wise to simply trust in me, that I would never leave, and hold on tight”, reminds me of the joy our Father must have in the trusting ‘wisdom’ of a child. At the time I wrote this verse my little daughter, Emma, was holding onto my shirt so tightly that I could not set her down long enough to finish the song on my own… so she ‘finished’ it with me. The combination of Trust, First Language and Lullaby is one free-flowing spontaneous song, childlike in its simplicity, and separated into three thematic elements of being a child. Childhood begins with Trust. It’s a natural gift given by God. And trust, in its most developed state, leads to complete dependency. Trust isn’t something we say to God. Trust is a way of being; it’s the primary way of a child… and it must become the primary way of the children of God.
Using the words of Eugene Petersen in his book, “Praying the Psalms”, First Language is the primary language of the Psalms. (If all of the theology in the world could be summarized into one word I believe that word would be ‘Daddy’… accompanied by the belief that He hears us.) First Language is not so much about the development of speech but the passion of it. In this section you hear a baby cry before the singing begins. I was reminded at that moment that baby Emma had been trying to say my name all that week. All she could get out of her mouth was the sound you hear me singing. Somehow I just knew she was trying to say my name. Then the day after this recording my wife, Rachel, told me that Emma said “Dada” for the first time. I believe this was more than a coincidence. (In many ways I feel like I am also learning to say ‘Dada’ for the first time.) In Lullaby, I could not help thinking about how my son Samuel and I play this game. He says, “Daddy, come get me”, and then he waits for me to chase and catch him.
Parents know that one of the greatest gifts to a child is the pure touch of a parent. Kids love to be touched and held… and so do adults! I realized that night that God is indeed chasing me. I have tried my whole life to chase His Kingdom, hoping to be made righteous, only to find that nothing makes me holy (or whole) like the presence of my Father. Because of that I am trying to learn to slow down long enough for Him to catch me. God could catch me if He wanted; but He likes it when I wait for Him.
There is no explanation for the last song, Fly, except that during the “do you see what I see” portion you will hear a soaring voice over the top of the other voices (6 minutes and 11 seconds into this section). At first we thought it was an ambient microphone picking up an overtone. During mixing all of the channels were searched and we found that this ‘boys choir’ type voice was not on any of the other microphones, but was bleeding through my own microphone ( which would make it impossible for it to be an overtone because it was not present on any of the other microphones). If you listen carefully you will hear it again later in this section; it’s not quite as clear because, unfortunately, my voice is prominent on that microphone. Interestingly, a boy came up to me that night and told me that he saw an angel standing about fifteen feet behind me… and another one behind our drummer. At the time I doubted that; but after hearing the ‘voice’ alone during the mixing process with no other instruments around it, I do not doubt it anymore.
It was very humbling and convicting for me to realize that I had not believed the boy. I sometimes wrestle with why I so often disbelieve the supernatural (why would I first think it was something natural like an overtone, instead of believing it was an angel). The Bible tells us that we should not be surprised by angelic visitations; but I must admit, I was surprised! Finally, I am putting out this CD because it is an authentic ‘spiritual experience’. Actually, I had originally planned to be recording another CD with many of my new songs. That will have to wait until later this year or next year. God obviously had other plans. We did not re-track anything on this recording; we just mixed and mastered what was there. I pray that while listening to this CD you will “remember” your first love and come into a greater revelation of the Kingdom of God.