Sunday, May 8, 2016

How A Christian Music Station Affected Me

The greatest thing just happened to my hometown of San Diego.  K-Love Christian Radio came to town!!  Do you know what this means?  We are no longer a Christian music wasteland.  We have “positive and encouraging” contemporary Christian music 24-hours a day. 
What’s the big deal?  Can you believe it? In my lifetime, San Diego has NEVER had a Christian Music station.  We do have a small station with a 1000-watt transmitter located on the outskirts of town but you had to be within a few 100 feet of the transmitter to hear it clearly. 
If I wanted to listen to Christian music in my car I had to rely on my CD collection, and when I forgot to bring a fresh set of CDs I would listen to sports talk radio.  It was awful.
But K-Love, the largest contemporary Christian music network in America, bought the tower of an old secular rock station (102.1 FM) with a powerful signal that can be heard clearly throughout our great city.  Yea.
Let me tell you how it has affected me. 
First, it expanded my knowledge of Christian music.  Before K-Love came to town, I would listen to my favorite Christian songs and listen to them over and over and over.  My Christian music knowledge became very limited.  Good music, but very limited.    
Second, since I have been listening to K-Love regularly a plethora of Scriptural principles have been permeating my mind throughout the day.  Without thinking about it, biblical principles became a part of my thoughts, discussions, and choices. This morning I woke up humming "Grace Wins Every Time."
Third, subconsciously I began using these biblical principles and phrases, as I counsel people online throughout my workweek.  This past week, I literally was texting responses to a friend who was struggling with the frustrations of life with advice such as “Keep on living for Him."  "God isn’t done yet."  "He’s making your struggles into diamonds.”  Without realizing it, each phrase I used replicated the exact lyrics or biblical principle of a song I had recently listened to.  
Sometimes I hear friends complaining that K-Love doesn’t vary its playlist enough. I respond, "If you don’t enjoy their playlist, find a station that fits your tastes better.But I love their playlist because it helps me memorize so many songs and principles that radiate in my soul. 
This station has given my wife and me a whole new perspective on spiritual living.  We are constantly singing, thinking, and communicating biblical principles.  It’s like we have rediscovered The Christian Music Challenge that I have been teaching all these years and it has brought a renewed joy to our lives.  Really.  
Note: I'm not "selling" K-Love radio.  I am simply advocating that you listen to a contemporary Christian music station in your area that helps you focus on life from a biblical perspective.  As you listen throughout the day for 30-days it will change your perspective on life because it can help you focus your mind, heart, and soul on Jesus Christ.  And Isaiah 26:3 tells us that when we focus our mind on Him, we will know His peace. 
Are you experiencing the peace and joy of the Lord in your life?  If not, why not take The Christian Music Challenge for 30-days.  What do you have to lose?  Thirty days?

This is NOT intended to be ad for K-Love.  They didn't pay me to say this.  I don't think they even know who I am.  I'm just excited that they were able to buy a broadcast tower in my little area of the world.

Find a Christian music station in your area

Thursday, April 28, 2016

If God is Dead...What Then?

By Patrick J. Buchanan, Published in Human Events Wednesday - April 27, 2016

In a recent column Dennis Prager made an acute observation.
The vast majority of leading conservative writers ... have a secular outlook on life. ... They are unaware of the disaster that godlessness in the West has led to."
These secular conservatives may think that "America can survive the death of God and religion," writes Prager, but they are wrong.
And, indeed, the last half-century seems to bear him out.
A people's religion, their faith, creates their culture, and their culture creates their civilization. And when faith dies, the culture dies, the civilization dies, and the people begin to die.
Is this not the recent history of the West?
Today, no great Western nation has a birthrate that will prevent the extinction of its native-born. By century's end, other peoples and other cultures will have largely repopulated the Old Continent.
European Man seems destined to end like the 10 lost tribes of Israel — overrun, assimilated and disappeared.
And while the European peoples — Russians, Germans, Brits, Balts — shrink in number, the U.N. estimates that the population of Africa will double in 34 years to well over 2 billion people.
What happened to the West?
As G. K. Chesterton wrote, when men cease to believe in God, they do not then believe in nothing, they believe in anything.
As European elites ceased to believe in Christianity, they began to convert to ideologies, to what Dr. Russell Kirk called "secular religions."
For a time, these secular religions — Marxism-Leninism, fascism, Nazism — captured the hearts and minds of millions. But almost all were among the gods that failed in the 20th century.
Now Western Man embraces the newer religions: egalitarianism, democratism, capitalism, feminism, One Worldism, environmentalism.
These, too, give meaning to the lives of millions, but these, too, are inadequate substitutes for the faith that created the West.
For they lack what Christianity gave man — a cause not only to live for, and die for, but a moral code to live by, with the promise that, at the end a life so lived, would come eternal life. Islam, too, holds out that promise.
Secularism, however, has nothing on offer to match that hope.
Looking back over the centuries, we see what faith has meant.
When, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the West embraced Christianity as a faith superior to all others, as its founder was the Son of God, the West went on to create modern civilization, and then went out and conquered most of the known world.
The truths America has taught the world, of an inherent human dignity and worth, and inviolable human rights, are traceable to a Christianity that teaches that every person is a child of God.
Today, however, with Christianity virtually dead in Europe and slowly dying in America, Western culture grows debased and decadent, and Western civilization is in visible decline.
All the Western empires are gone, and the children of once-subject peoples cross the Mediterranean to repopulate the mother countries, whose native-born have begun to age, shrink and die.
Since 1975, only two European nations, Muslim Albania and Iceland have maintained a birthrate sufficient to keep their peoples alive.
Given the shrinking populations inside Europe and the waves of immigrants rolling in from Africa and the Middle and Near East, an Islamic Europe seems to be in the cards before the end of the century.
Vladimir Putin, who witnessed the death of Marxism-Leninism up close, appears to understand the crucially of Christianity to Mother Russia, and seeks to revive the Orthodox Church and write its moral code back into Russian law.
And what of America, "God's country"?
With Christianity excommunicated from her schools and public life for two generations, and Old and New Testament teachings rejected as a basis of law, we have witnessed a startlingly steep social decline.
Since the 1960s, America has set new records for abortions, violent crimes, incarcerations, drug consumption. While HIV/AIDS did not appear until the 1980s, hundreds of thousands have perished from it, and millions now suffer from it and related diseases.
Forty percent of U.S. births are out of wedlock. For Hispanics, the illegitimacy rate is over 50 percent; for African-Americans, it's over 70 percent.
Test scores of U.S. high school students fall annually and approach parity with Third World countries.
Suicide is a rising cause of death for middle-aged whites.
Secularism seems to have no answer to the question, "Why not?"
"How small, of all that human hearts endure, That part which laws or kings can cause or cure," wrote Samuel Johnson.
Secular conservatives may have remedies for some of America's maladies. But, as Johnson observed, no secular politics can cure the sickness of the soul of the West — a lost faith that appears irretrievable.

Editorial comment from Al Menconi:  
Wow!  I encourage you to reread Patrick Buchanan's editorial.  The truth of what he wrote didn't penetrate my thick skull until the third time I read his article, then hit me like a club!  Our nation is dying because we live as if God is dead. Let's pray that our nation will come to its senses.

We may not be able to stop our national self destruction, but we may be able to slow it down somewhat if we can become a catalyst for spiritual renewal for America.  The purpose of our Christian Music Challenge is to help Christians become catalysts for spiritual renewal.  Please join us in prayer as we are putting the final touches on a new Christian Music Challenge for this coming school year and 2017.  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

I am N book review

I just finished reading a book that all Americans – especially Christians – should read.    Say the title out loud – I am N. -- and you’ll understand why I had to explain the title every time I told someone what I was reading.  It's a tongue twister but worth you time.   
N in the title is the Arabic symbol for Nazarene, which represents all Christians to the radical Islamic terrorists.  If the Muslims paint the symbol for Nazarene on your home, it means that you are marked to be killed, raped, and/or taken as a slave.  Some have the option to leave before they are killed.  Others don’t have that opportunity.   
I am N is an accumulation of nearly fifty stories of Christians who are being tortured, raped, kidnapped and killed by Muslims in Muslim countries around the world.  This is a book of present day Christian martyrs.
I am N gives the details of the tribulations these Christian people have endured. It reads like a news report that presents the who, what, where, why, and how that American newspapers and the electronic media are not reporting.  The story of each martyr provides a name, location and description of the situation he had to undergo because of his faith in Jesus.  Most were given the option to deny their faith before they were killed or otherwise persecuted, but each stayed faithful to Christ like the heroes of the faith in Scripture.  The names of some survivors were changed so they would not again be targeted for their faith. 
It took me nearly a month to read this book because it was very difficult for me to absorb more than 2 or 3 mini stories in an evening.   I stopped and reflected extensively after  each report.  My prayer life became stronger each day as I began to dialogue with God about atrocities endured by His people. Each story, though detailing a different circumstance, offered a similar scenario -- a Muslim converting to Christianity or identifying with Christ in some way, but then the parents, family, and/or community  turning against him simply because Christians, who refuse to  revere Muhammad, are despised in Muslim countries. 
I kept thinking of the insistence of our political leaders and the media that Islam is a religion of peace.  Consistent persecution of Christians for no reason does not reflect a friendly, conciliatory religion.  Although many of the stories illustrated the brutality of Islam terrorists, the majority of the abusers and killers were everyday Muslims who lived in Muslim controlled territory. The book clearly demonstrates that locations where Muslims are in the majority or near majority, they believe it is their right and responsibility to kill or persecute Christians simply because Christianity is an affront to Islam. 
One story describes how a group of men invaded the home of a Christian and sliced him to death in front of his family because he had the audacity to share the Gospel in the town center.  In a couple of stories young believers were locked in their home and beaten by their parents because they “brought shame” to the family by their identification with Christ.  Others tell of Christians who were unable to find a place to live or work and the struggles they endured because of their faith in Christ.
One of the most violent killings happened in a little Nigerian village. The local Muslim ethnic group had been getting more and more radical and violent until one day they rushed into the village with guns and started shooting people who had identified as Christians.  The surviving Christians hid in the largest building in the village, but the Muslim group simply burned down the building and shot anyone who came out.  The next day at the mass funeral, the gunmen attacked again shooting the mourners who were Christians.  Although the local pastor lost his whole family he quoted Job.  “Job lost everything but he did not turn his back on God. His story has helped me, not only to deal with the situation, but even to remain who I am.”  Please continue to pray for Pastor John who continues to serve God in that village. 
Fortunately, this book chose not to describe the violence in detail, but I am N is a poignant reminder that we are living in the Last Days.  These stories were a real eye opener for me as to the hatred Christians experience daily in many countries of our world today.  We may hear a twenty-second TV news report that whole villages were wiped out by angry Muslims and forget that it happened to real people YESTERDAY by the time the weather report is given.  I am N reminds us that our Christian brothers and sisters are being tortured and killed for their faith today, tomorrow and every day.        
I am not sharing this to get you politically charged against Muslims, it is just a fact that it's only Muslims who indiscriminately kill Christians.  But this problem is really a spiritual issue that can only be won on our knees before our God.  We must pray for and reach out to these martyrs as best we can.  This book is written by the “Voice of the Martyrs” mission agency that helps persecuted Christians around the world.  You may wish to support them directly, or maybe you just want to encourage your church to get involved in foreign missions in Muslim countries. We are so fortunate to live in a country that is relatively safe and secure that we should take this opportunity to help the poor and needy as well as the persecuted people of the world. 
Christ and the New Testament writers warned us, “In the last days people will hate you because you are Christians.” The detailed accounts contained in this book suggest that this is only the beginning of worldwide torture and persecution.   There was nothing special about these martyrs.  They were just like you and me.  Most had a family, a home,  a job – and none were looking to be killed and persecuted.
I urge you to read this book, then share it with a friend who needs to understand that there is a war against Christians around the world.  As Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “Our God is able to rescue us, but even if He doesn’t, we will never bow down to your god.”  How about you?
The title of this book is a constant reminder that our Christian brothers and sisters around the world are being killed daily for their faith.  Do you care?  If it were a crime to be a Christian in your community, would there be enough evidence to convict you?  The furnace is built, and they are assuredly starting the fire.  What will you say when they come for you?
You can buy I Am N where you buy new Christian books or on Amazon at this link:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Why You Will Enjoy Miracles From Heaven

I just returned from viewing Miracles From Heaven, starring Jennifer Garner.  You probably saw the TV commercial for it – a little girl gets an incurable illness, then falls from a tree and miraculously gets well.  Before watching the movie, I thought the producers made a big mistake by telling the “whole story” in the commercial trailer.  Frankly, I was expecting the typical “religious” film: maudlin, trite, and corny, with actors who barely had their lines memorized. Boy, was I wrong!
Before I go any further, I want to be the first to say that Jennifer Garner deserves an Academy Award for acting.  She showed us exactly what a mother in crisis looks like and feels.  When she was pleading with a reluctant doctor to examine her daughter there wasn’t a dry eye in the theater. 
My wife remarked that one could tell that Garner is a mother in real life; she couldn’t be so convincing if she wasn’t.  She used every ounce of her motherhood experience to demonstrate that she is also a terrific actress, and the rest of the cast supported her admirably.  This truly is a very enjoyable, satisfying, and entertaining film.
Personally I would have preferred more of a direct emphasis on “the four spiritual laws” and the plan of salvation, but that would have made the film everything I don’t like –predictable and preachy.  And that probably have limited its audience to “preaching to the choir.”
Miracles had enough God, Jesus, faith, heaven, and potluck dinners to leave no doubt as to its Christian perspective. But this film also made one think.  How do believers handle the struggles, the doubt, and the anger of real life?  This was a family just like us – messy Christians trying to make it through a dreadful situation. 
I could actually see myself attending their church.  The attendees were regular people, not the Hollywood versions of Christians.  The pastor was a normal, thoughtful, rather effective leader of his flock, preaching, visiting the sick, making announcements at the potluck dinner, and having fun with the children.  It’s the first “Hollywood movie church” that I would attend – particularly since Mac Powell from Third Day was the worship leader.  You are going to love the worship songs. 
Obviously, the thrust of the film focuses on the events between the daughter getting sick and then falling out of the tree.  How could a loving God allow people to suffer?  Why doesn’t God answer our prayers?  Does God really care about our pain?  This family managed to grasp a vital spiritual truth:  their daughter’s healing was only a single event in their spiritual walk, for God was displaying the miracles of His love for them (and us) every day.    
Bottom line, if you enjoy a quality story without sex, violence, and profanity, you will thoroughly enjoy Miracles From Heaven.   And don’t forget to bring your Kleenex.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Are You Frustrated With Our Political Choices?

I have read emails from my readers who are frustrated with our political choices for president. My question to everyone is this: Why are you surprised? 

Please read Romans 13:1 to 4.
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good.

Read that passage again.  Paul is speaking to Christians living under ROMAN rule!  And he called the leader of the land “God’s minister for good.”  Why?  Because God will direct us through the leader He has put over us.  No matter how bad we believe our choices are, they are a heck of a lot better than Nero. 

I definitely have my favorite candidate who I’m voting for.  I’m looking for a person with good character who believes strongly in biblical principles.  But, frankly, I don’t think “my guy” will win. But if you’re wondering whom YOU should vote for, try to think of this coming election like a job interview. 

How can we “hire” someone to do evil on our behalf?  That will eliminate at least half of the candidates.  Would you hire a proven liar? How about a bully who doesn't play well with others? Would you hire a candidate who supports killing pre-born innocents? Our choices aren't easy are they?

This is something that I've struggled with for months and then God reminded me that I’m “just passin’ through." While I will be a good citizen for America, we as Christians know our true citizenship is in Heaven.  This election just reinforces my understanding that I’m just a temporary resident representing my Savior and true Home.  I’ll vote for the candidate who will allow me to the most freedom as Christ’s ambassador, but my top priority is to carry out my assignment to the best of my ability (2 Cor 5:20).  WWJD is more than just a catchy saying on a wristband.  As Christ’s ambassador, I have to continually ask myself, what would Jesus do?

We have to remember “the church” expands during times of trial.  I’m not a masochist.  I don’t want to suffer, but we have to remember that the Christian church in China flourished during the past 65 years under repressive communistic rule. Today, there are more Christians in China than there are Christians in America! Think about that!

I want a simple easy life and “suffer for Jesus at the beach,” but I know difficult times are coming for us and are already here for most of the world. Time is short and I must focus on the eternal rather than the temporal.  A new president isn’t going to change much of anything.  I’m trying to see this from God’s perspective.  What are a few years compared to eternity? 

This is why I believe The Christian Music Challenge is so important for the Christian community. It will help believers keep their minds and hearts focused on Christ and biblical values which will lead to a life of peace (Isaiah 26:3). 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Christmas Eve and Other Stories by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

THE STORY OF CHRISTMAS EVE  Written and Presented by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

The following short story will help you understand the theme of The Story of Christmas Eve and Other Stories and when you follow the lyrics as you listen the first time, it will cement its message in your heart.  

On a snow blessed Christmas Eve a young man found himself alone in the back of an old city bar in the rundown section of town. Using his solitary drink as something of a moat between himself and the rest of the world, he was surprised when an elderly gentleman asked to join him at his table. Reluctantly, he nodded his permission but within minutes he found himself engrossed in a story that the old man related to him; a story about another Christmas Eve when the Lord looked down from above at all his children. It had been nearly two thousand years since the birth of His son and turning to His youngest Angel the Lord said, “Go down to the Earth and bring back to me the one thing that best represents everything good that has been done in the name of this day.”

The Angel bowed to the Lord and spreading his wings, descended from heaven to the world of man, all the while contemplating his mission. So much had been done in the name of honoring the birth of the Christ Child. For this day wars had temporarily ceased, cathedrals had been built and great novels had been written. With so little time, what could he possibly find to represent all this?

As he soared above the Earth, he suddenly heard the sound of church bells below. Their tone was so beautiful that it reminded him of the voice of God.

Looking down, he saw a small church whose bells were ringing out the carol, “Silent Night.” As the final note died away, it was replaced by one lone voice singing inside the church. It was shortly joined by a second voice that embraced the first in perfect harmony, and then another and another until a choir of voices rose through the night. Enchanted by the magic of what he was hearing, the Angel found himself listening until the song was finished. As he resumed his flight through the night, he was delighted to hear these sounds everywhere, from the largest cities to the smallest villages. He heard melodies from massive orchestras and in the voices of single soldiers alone at their posts. And any place where he heard these songs, he found hope in the hearts of men. Grasping a song out of the air, he held it in his hand (angels are able to do this) and thought that maybe, these songs could be the one thing that best represented Christmas. They seemed to give voice to man's greatest joys as well as hope to those deepest in despair.

But, though at first glance it appeared to be the answer he sought, his heart told him that this music was not enough. There had to be something more. So he continued his flight through the night until he suddenly felt the touch of a father's prayer on its way to heaven. Once again looking downward, he saw a man who was praying for his child; a child whom he had not heard from in a long time and who would not be home that Christmas. Seizing upon the prayer, the Angel followed it until it reached the lost child.

She was standing on a corner, in a quiet snowfall, looking very small in a very large city. Across from her was an old city bar, the kind that only the lost seemed to know how to find.

The patrons of this establishment rarely looked up from their drinks and so seemed not to notice the young girl. Now, the bartender in this bar had been working in there longer than anyone could remember. He believed in nothing except his bar and his cash register. He had never married, never took a vacation and as a matter of fact, had never been seen out from behind his counter by most of his patrons. He was there when they arrived and he was still there when they left. He gave no credit and for seventy-five cents, served shots of un-watered whiskey to people who used their drinks like a wall around their lives. For them, he provided a safe, unchanging world.

Suddenly, the door opened wide and into this world walked a small child. The bartender could not remember the last time that a child had been in this place, but before he could ask the child what he was doing there, the child asked him if he knew that there was a girl outside their door who could not get home. Glancing out the window, he saw the girl standing across the street. Turning back to the child, the bartender asked him how he knew this. The child replied: "On this night of all nights, if one could be home, they'd be already there.” The bartender looked back toward the young girl as he reflected on what the child had said. After several seconds of thought, he slowly went over to the cash register and removing most of the money, came out from behind the bar and followed the child across the street.

Everyone in the bar watched as he spoke with the girl. After a few moments, he called over a cab, put the girl inside and told the driver, "J.F.K. Airport." As the cab pulled away, he looked around for the child, but the child was gone. And what was stranger still, even though his own tracks leading from the bar were still clearly marked in the snow, the child's were nowhere to be found. Returning back inside, he asked if anyone had seen where the child had gone, but like himself, no one had, for they also had been watching the departing cab. And then, some would later say that the most miraculous thing of all happened, when for the rest of the night, no one paid for a drink. Later that night the Angel returned back to heaven and placed in the Lord's hand, the wish of a soul for the happiness of another. And as the heavenly host looked on, the Lord smiled.

At the end of his story the old man then told the youth that he had enjoyed their time together but that it was time for him to leave. After the old man had left, the youth found himself rushing out the door only seconds behind the elderly gentleman's exit so that he might ask his name, but not only was there no one in sight but there wasn't even a single track in the snow. The young man stood there for a moment perplexed but then he suddenly felt a sense of gentle peace and contentment flow through his body. Buttoning his coat the youth slowly walked home where for the first time since his childhood he dreamed a Christmas dream.

Lyrics & Poetry

















An angel came down
One night to the earth 
A mission from God
To find out the worth 

Of everything that
His children had done
Since that winter night
The birth of His son 

And then a sound filled the night
In the cold winter air
And in the midst of his flight
It was holding him there 

And as he looked toward the earth
For the source of this sound
On that cold winter night
It was pulling him down 

To bring something back
This angel was told
That no one could touch
But angels could hold 

So on that night
When the sky had cleared
Among all the stars
An angel appeared 

And then a sound filled the night 
In the cold winter air
And in the midst of his flight
It was holding him there 

And as he looked towards the earth
For the source of this sound
On that cold winter night
It was pulling him down


The sound that he had heard
Was the ringing of the bells
But now inside that night
There were voices there as well 

God rest ye merry gentlemen
God rest ye merry gentlemen
There up in the sky a star to follow
There up in the sky a star to follow 

Await the coming of the Lord
Await the coming of the Lord
Await the coming of the ...

Lead and we'll follow
Hope and tomorrow
Magic and dreams
You are all this and more now
Childhood recalls how 

You are
Visions and...
We are your children 
You take us back when
Ever we call

Each year we are here waiting
As the snow starts to fall
Merry Christmas
Merry, Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
Merry, Merry Christmases 

Ornaments and evergreens
With packages as yet unseen
All wrapped in paper
Colored bright
Reflecting candles in the night 

With carolers and mistletoe
And stockings all hung in a row
Or fireplaces glowing red
With children safely sent to bed 

Ring the bells, Ring the bells
Let the churches ring the bells!
Joy to the world, the Lord has come
Let his light shine on everyone
Christmas lead and we'll follow 

From London, Rome and Paris
To Berlin and Tokyo
Winter never really starts
Until it's given its first snow



As he flew over the Urals
He came upon a little town
Shining in the Arctic darkness
So the angel he set down 

Then he walked among the people
In a fitting earth disguise
So no one recognized him
Though they wondered at his eyes 


Then he asked a village peasant
What do Russian hearts desire
He answered peace on earth, of course
and a little, "Stolichnaya" 


In the middle of a forest
There's a clearing by a stream
Where a mother holds her newborn
And the child begins to dream 

And he dreams of hopes unspoken
When the tears of man will cease
And his mother holds him closer
For he is the Prince of peace 

And the moon is looking downward
Casting shadows through the trees
And the stars are shining brighter
As they whisper what they see 

How the emperor and the pauper
With the lion and the lamb
Kneel down before the infant
For his peace they understand 

Hark, the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn king
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled 

Glory all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the heavenly host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem 

Hark, the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn king 

Let the bells ring out these tidings
Let it echo across the land
That a king is born in Bethlehem
And his kingdom is at hand 

Let the world rejoice together
As it looks upon the stars
Knowing every man's our brother
And that every child is ours 

As he flew o'er Sarajevo
There were scars upon the land
There were scars upon the people
It was hard to understand 

And the deepest scars of all
Which to humans are unseen
But the angel could see clearly
Were the scars upon the dreams 

Like Belfast and Burundi
Rwanda, Palestine
The only decorations here
Had been awarded for their crimes 

And in gardens where the children played
Now soldiers only trod
And stranger still, he heard some say
That they were killing for their god 

Now the angel heard god speak many times
And he had always paid attention
But this killing of ones neighbor
Was something the Lord had never mentioned 

But as he neared the earth
Of a recent battleground
From among the ruins
He once more heard the sound 

It was a single cello playing
A forgotten Christmas song
And even on that battlefield
The song somehow belonged 

And as he flew away
The angel did take note
That where he found this music played
One always could find hope


As He flew over the countryside
He was still listening
When from a little church below
He heard a voice begin to sing 

Joy to the world
The Lord has come
Let earth
Receive her king

Now it was long ago
When it all began
Back in Bethlehem
In the promised land

When a single star
Appeared in the sky
And three kings saw
And they each asked why 

And they checked the books
Full of prophecy
And the one king said
Why it's plain to me 

You see it means
That a king is born
Who will save mankind
On this blessed morn 

So they packed some gold
Myrrh and frankincense
On some old camel
With some fancy tents 

Closed down the house
Set the servants free
And three kings rode
Into history 

It was long ago
In a foreign land
When the Lord looked down
Said to make a stand 

So He sent His son
And said, 'through him you'll know me!'
Then the angels came
And when they start to sing 

All at once the past
It doesn't mean a thing
And the star comes out
And the wise men say, Hey show me! 

And they followed it
Over hills and sand
Til' they found the child
Like it all was planned 

And as they knelt before
The newborn king
The angel's were singing
In their angel style 

How all of our hopes
Had come down to this child 

Then he reached for the song
And he held it in his hand
(It was something that he did
Because angels can) 

And he wondered to himself
"Is this the answer that I sought"
But something was still missing
Or at least so he still thought 

And so he journeyed on
Through the midnight winter air
When all at once our angel
Felt the touch of a man's prayer 

And looking once more to the earth
To determine whence it came
He felt a million souls below
But one was not the same 

For there he saw a man alone
Though he was walking in a crowd
And though this man had rarely prayed
Tonight his head was bowed 

For even in a crowd, you see
A heart can feel alone
When the night is Christmas Eve
A child is not at home 

So from a father to the Lord
A prayer did swiftly race
But the angel saw it first
And he listened to its case

There is an ornament
Lost inside the night
There on a Christmas tree
With a thousand lights

No one can see her
She's standing all alone
Somewhere she glistens where no one can see
I don't believe I can say what had happened 

All of those words that we put into play
No longer matter, I should have known that then
I just know you're far away
On this Christmas day 

On this Christmas day
On this Christmas .... 

Somewhere the wind
Carves moments in the snow
And if he sees her
He never lets it show 

He just drifts behind her
Erasing every step 

Tinsel and garland are whispered
through trees
I don't believe I can say what
had happened 

All of those words that we put
into play
No longer matter, I should have
known that then
I just know you're far away
On this Christmas day 
On this Christmas day
On this Christmas ....
Come, Christmas
Stay, Christmas
Watch over her this day 

Keep her
Protect her
From harm now in every way 

Shelter her
There in your arms she'll be 

Until the day
When you
Bring her back home to me 

There is an ornament lost inside the night

After he had heard the prayer
The angel gently set it free 
And followed it to the father's child
In a far away city 

And there the girl in desperation
Was searching through the sky
For a star that she could wish upon
But stars were in short supply 

And the only light that she could see
There shining all alone
Was a neon sign on an old bar
And so on this,
she wished she was home


Every light can be a star
Just depends on where you are 

And the distance that you're looking
Past the places you have been

In an old city bar
That is never too far

From the places that gather
The dreams that have been 

In the safety of night
With its old neon light 

It beckons to strangers
And they always come in

And the snow it was falling
The neon was calling 

The music was low
And the night
Christmas Eve 

And here was the danger
That even with strangers 

Inside of this night
It's easier to believe 

Then the door opened wide
And a child came inside 

That no one in the bar
Had seen there before 

And he asked did we know
That outside in the snow 

That someone was lost
Standing outside our door 

Then the bartender gazed
Through the smoke and the haze 

Through the window and ice
To a corner streetlight 

Where standing alone
By a broken pay phone 

Was a girl the child said
Could no longer get home 

And the snow it was falling 
The neon was calling 

The bartender turned
And said, not that I care

But how would you know this?
The child said I've noticed 

If one could be home
They'd be all ready there 

Then the bartender came out from behind the bar
And in all of his life he was never that far

And he did something else that he thought no one saw
When he took all the cash from the register draw 

Then he followed the child to the girl cross the street
And we watched from the bar as they started to speak

Then he called for a cab and he said J.F.K.
Put the girl in the cab and the cab drove away 

And we saw in his hand
That the cash was all gone 

From the light that she had
wished upon 

If you want to arrange it
This world you can change it 

If we could somehow make this
Christmas thing last 

By helping a neighbor
Or even a stranger 

And to know who needs help
You need only just ask 

Then he looked for the child
But the child wasn't there 

Just the wind and the snow
Waltzing dreams through the air 

So he walked back inside
Somehow different I think

For the rest of the night
No one paid for a drink

And the cynics will say
That some neighborhood kid 

Wandered in on some bums
In the world where they hid 

But they weren't there
So they couldn't see 

By an old neon star
On that, night, Christmas Eve 

When the snow it was falling
The neon was calling 

And in case you should wonder
In case you should care

Why we're on our own
Never went home

On that night of all nights
We were already there

Then all at once inside that night
He saw it all so clear

The answer that he sought so long
Had always been so near

It's every gift that someone gives
Expecting nothing back 

It's every kindness that we do
Each simple little act

Christmas time
On a cold December morning 

All is calm
And the world is still asleep 

Christmas lights
That have been caught without warning 

Gently glitter on
Stars to wish upon 

All the world is at peace
Christmas time and the year will soon be leaving

Cloaked in time till it's just a memory
Christmas stays if we don't forget its meaning

Days go quickly by
Years they multiply 

And we go searching for thee
And the dream is still alive

From that first December morning
And it always will survive 

As long as we can see
That the dreams we find in life 

Are the dreams we tend to seek
And Christmas has its promises to keep

Christmas time
And the moments just beginning 

From last night 
When we'd wished upon a star 

If our kindness
This day is just pretending 

If we pretend long enough
Never giving up 
 It just might be who we are

And so it's good that we remember
Just as soon as we've discovered 

That the things we do in life
Will always end up touching others 

So from a fading neon star
Somewhere shining in the night 

We find a father far away
Now reflecting in its light

So, tell me Christmas
Are we wise 
To believe in things we never see

Are prayers just wishes in disguise 
And are these wishes being granted me 

For now I see
The answering 
To every prayer I've prayed 

She's coming home this
Christmas Day 

So tell me Christmas
Are we kind
More this day than any other day 

Or is it only in our mind
And must it leave when you have gone away

It's different now
It's changed somehow 

And now you're here to stay
She's coming home this Christmas Day 

All at once the world
It doesn't seem the same 

And in a single night
You know it all has changed 

And everything is now as it should be
I have the ornament 

I have the perfect tree
I have a string of lights 

I have a chance to see
Everything that my heart thought could be 

For of all the dreams
You were the first I knew 

And every other one
Was a charade of you

You stayed close when I was far away 

In the darkest night
You always were the star 

You always took us in
No matter who we are 

And so she's coming home this
Christmas Day

So the girl had reached her home
And the bar was closing down 

As the angel started back
To bring his Lord what he had found

An angel returned
That night through the sky 
But time it was short
He had to decide 

And so as he flew
Back over the land
A gift for his Lord
Was there in his hand 

It was the glow of a light
It was the heart of a song
It was the tear of a child
Where they never belonged 

It was the wish of a soul
On an old neon light
And the Lord smiled at him
On that cold winter night 

Hear as they ring through the night 

Kyrie among nations
Kyrie among nations
Kyrie among nations 

Here the bells ring through the night 

Kyrie among nations
Kyrie among nations
Kyrie among nations 

Hear as they ring through the night
Listen to the bells as they ring 

Listen to the message they bring
Listen to the sound
As they sing as one voice in the night
Hoping that we'll all understand 

Every dream we have's in our hands
And for every bell
May they ring all through the night

Kyrie among nations
Kyrie among nations
Kyrie among nations 

Hear as they ring through the night 

Kyrie among nations
Kyrie among nations
Kyrie among nations 
Here as they ring through the night 

Listen to the bells as they ring
Listen to the message they bring
Listen to the sound as they sing 
As one voice in the night 

Hoping that we'll all understand
Every dream we have's in our hands
And for every bell
May they ring all through your life

And so with his story over
And our bottle nearly through
I asked, did this really happen?
He swore every word was true 

Then he said I see you're puzzled
For your mind tells you to doubt me
That my story can't be true
But your heart tells you, it might be 

He then asked, did it entertain me
And I admitted it had charm
Then he said perhaps you have learned something
Or at worst I've done no harm 

Then he rose up from his chair
And he said it's time that he should leave
But may God keep and protect you
This and every Christmas Eve 

Then he left through the front door
And I ran out to ask him back
But he was already gone
And stranger still he left no tracks 

So I walked back to my home
Recalling all I've heard and seen
And for the first time since my childhood
That night I dreamed a Christmas dream 

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Saints and Strangers on NGC Nov 22-23

I love American history. I fully enjoyed reading about it in school and studying it in college. But I usually don’t enjoy watching American history presented on TV. Until now! Saints and Strangers is literally the best presentation of any period of American history I have ever seen on screen. I strongly urge you to watch it with your family.

No political agenda. No gratuitous sex scenes, no excessive scenes of violence, no profanity – just the true story of the first Thanksgiving based on primary sources. We have often heard that those who came over on the Mayflower endured hardships, but to most Americans “endured hardships” is an innocuous phrase that doesn’t come close to telling the whole story.

This National Geographic Channel’s two-night movie event, Saint & Strangers, premiering this Nov 22-23 at 9 p.m., goes deep inside the familiar historical account of Thanksgiving, revealing the tribulations of the first settlers at Plymouth and their complex relationship with the Native Americans and with each other.

I am relieved that the producers didn’t make it a “soap opera” with fictitious love triangles, and I am just as pleased that they didn’t gloss over the Pilgrims’ dependence on God and their desire to propagate religious freedom in this new land. In fact, they emphasized it.

I felt that I was watching an illustrated version of early Puritan diaries and journals, which I was. These men and women intrigued me. First, they made a perilous 66-day journey to find religious freedom, depending on God every step of the way. But they weren’t the only passengers on the Mayflower. Another group of people made the journey. The Pilgrims referred to themselves as the “Saints,” the others passengers as the “Strangers.” The “Strangers” were motivated by real-world material objectives and adventure as opposed to the spiritual objectives of the “Saints,” hence the title Saints and Strangers. 

Finding out about this other group of “Strangers” making the voyage with the Pilgrims was the first indication that this series would be special. They didn’t have to add to the true story of survival, sacrifice, alliances and betrayals. It had my interest from the first minute as the story unfolded over two nights and answered many questions; such as How did they survive the winter? How did they get along with the Native Americans and with each other?

The storyline isn’t padded with “extra” non-essentials such as “soap opera” romances or manufactured hostilities. The simple true story has plenty of intrigue with a strong message of God’s faithfulness even in time of deep sorrow. I found myself emotionally involved with the settlers as they struggled to make wise decisions, to survive the hardship of a bitter winter, starvation, and disease.

The significance of Squanto, the former captive and slave of English explorers, was a crucial component of survival for the settlers. He helped them adapt to their new land as well as translated for them with the local Native American tribes. The last time I heard of Squanto was in a Sunday school lesson that taught how God provided for the Pilgrims. This series doesn't try to "hide" how absolutely critical Squanto was to their survival.

By showing the Native American tribes speaking their native tongue, the film gave the impression that we were actually there, looking over their shoulder and into their minds as they negotiated treaties, traded, and fought with the settlers. For the first time I was able to understand their fear of the English as well as the fear the English had for them.

I can’t give a higher recommendation for a television production. It is historically accurate, the production is first-rate, the acting is superb and believable, and the storyline was gripping. I was also pleased that this story of the Pilgrims isn't being promoted as a “Christian production" but is simply presented a true account of the beginnings of our nation – which happened to be based on Christian principles.

After watching Saints and Sinners you will have a new appreciation for Thanksgiving. Don't miss it.