Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement


Libera Boys Choir Sings Amazing Grace

Libera Boys Choir Sings Amazing Grace
Beautiful voices here.



Negotiating With Mosquitos, a poem about the end of détente

mosquitoWelcome to spring. Spring brings rain water sitting in unturned pots, old tires, hidden ponds -- all creating breeding grounds for mosquitos.

Negotiating With Mosquitos
by Anthony Trendl

Springtime in Illinois, land of corn,
land of woods, land built on swamps. I spoke
to a morning mosquito minding the screen at my bedroom window.
We discussed the news, the way the warmer winter of this last year would bring him
much bounty, an abundant crop of young in tender sloughs near my home.
We talked about how hard it was, being a mosquito,
with all the fish nibbling at larva waiting for wings. I understood, I said. I have children too.
It was hard talking, as our languages were different,
and the traffic news mumbled quickly in the other room.
I asked him not to bite me, not me. I am his neighbor. I pass ponds of milkweed and
He flew from corner to corner of the screen, while a breeze pushed him around.
After a few minutes, after the radio finished traffic and went into weather, he flew off.
I would not kill, and he would not bite. He told me he would not bother me again.

Springtime in Illinois, west of Chicago,
where the suburbs meet auburn sunsets, and corn grows better than grass I saw
my neighbor and he felt welcome to the colors and smells of dinner cooking on my grill.
He brought friends and relatives, and I laughed, knowing his progeny would be large.
His voice was different, harsher. No, it was no mosquito I knew, but his voice was familiar.
We talked about his father, the insect I met the month before. Was March so long gone
that the next generation was born? His father now was hid up, buzzing in a gutter, waiting for new rain,  watching out for bats. I told him the promise his father made, and so it was known,
this father’s son might follow to keep his word. His father’s son, indeed, kept the pact,
all the while buzzing with urgent wing batting for a few minutes, pulling my attention away from the cool  swarm of tiny wings around my ankles. I noticed, and made a swift change in our détente.
My hand, quicker than light, ended all treaties. I told him he would not bother me again.


Jeremiah Wright Claims Criticism is Against Black Church

Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's friend and former pastor, makes the claim that all the heat he is taking for his racist remarks are an attack against the black church.

The AP article cited below refers to him as "The Rev. Jeremiah Wright." I will not make the same mistake. 'Reverend' he is not. Not only is he not my pastor, but he sees Christianity as a black-white thing. In fact, he wants this discussion to be focused on race, not Jesus.

Give me more Jesus, less skin color, Mr. Wright. Otherwise, take your neo-marxist social gospel and join a black version of the KKK.

With Jesus Christ, there is no white church. There is no black church. True, segregationists like Wright prefer to think of God's Body in this way, but this serves only to divide.

Malcolm X, and later, Louis Farrakhan wanted to see people as white and black too. Neither man has ever claimed Jesus as their savior, but the idea is similar.

Barack Obama was either naive, mislead, in denial, or lying as he sat under Wright's teaching. Presuming Obama agrees with Wright is naturally in error, but trusting Obama's judgment on the basis of him being a believer is similarly in error. Nor does Obama's poor judgment increase the spiritual depth of his direct competitor, Hillary Clinton, or the Republican contender, John McCain. None have demonstrated any dependence on the wisdom of God. This is one reason I am not a member of either party.

Read more on the issue of racial reconciliation and the church.

Obama's ex-pastor says criticism is attack on the black church
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Rev. Jeremiah Wright says criticism surrounding his fiery sermons is an attack on the black church.

Barack Obama's longtime pastor says he hopes the controversy will have a positive outcome and spark an honest dialogue about race in America. Wright says black church traditions are still "invisible" to many Americans, as they have been throughout the country's history.


6:15 Ante Meridiem, Travel Coffee Mugs, and Romans

Why men's Bible studies and other related church groups need to start before birds awake is beyond me. As it was, then, I awoke at 5:45, checked me e-mail, grabbed and shower and leaking mug of coffee and ran out the door.

I was late.

Grace abounds, and received grace I did. Though I was the last man to sit, all was good.


If we could live life without personal guilt or judgment, would we choose this? That's what study guide author, and theologian, John Stott asks.

Yes? No? Easier answered quickly than deeply. What do you think? Why?

As the time ended, coffee mugs - the travel kind - came into discussion. Less important than what Paul wanted us to know, but not unimportant. Mine leaks.

The reason? According to consensus, dishwashers.

I have lost more mugs than I have, and more seem to show up daily. Clients give them to me. Then, I leave them in meeting rooms, church, on trains. Anywhere somewhere else.

Now, late, I am running off to run. Actually, driving. It is raining, or was the last I looked so, like my coffee mug, I expect to wet. You'll see how my run went by checking my running blog. It is tough workout today, and I'm tired already.


Jesus Christ Superstar on American Idol (Carly Smithson)

It was Andrew Lloyd Webber night on American Idol this evening. Officially, he is called 'lord' by the Brits. One of his popular songs, Jesus Christ Superstar, ostensibly about the actual Lord, was sung by Carly Smithson.

First, get past that this is secular TV singing songs written by a man not known for his Christian devotion. Next: Consistent with Christian theology or blasphemous? Somewhere in between? Why?

also: Shout to the Lord ('no Jesus' generic version) Shout to the Lord (original lyrics)

Carly Smithson version

Carl Anderson (from original motion picture, 1973)

Jesus Christ Superstar (also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Christ_Superstar)
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Voice of Judas

Every time I look at you
I don't understand
Why you let the things you did
Get so out of hand
You'd have managed better
If you'd had it planned
Now why'd you choose such a backward time
And such a strange land?

If you'd come today
You could have reached the whole nation
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication
Don't you get me wrong
Don't you get me wrong
Don't you get me wrong, now
Don't you get me wrong
Don't you get me wrong
Don't you get me wrong
Don't you get me wrong, now
Don't you get me wrong

Only want to know
Only want to know
Only want to know, now
Only want to know
Only want to know
Only want to know
Only want to know, now
Only want to know

Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Do you think you're what they say you are?
Jesus Christ
Do you think you're what they say you are?

Tell me what you think
About your friends at the top
Now who d'you think besides yourself
Was the pick of the crop?
Buddah was he where it's at?
Is he where you are?
Could Muhammmed move a mountain
Or was that just PR?
Did you mean to die like that?
Was that a mistake or
Did you know your messy death
Would be a record breaker?

Don't you get me wrong Don't you get me wrong
Don't you get me wrong, now Don't you get me wrong
Don't you get me wrong Don't you get me wrong
Don't you get me wrong, now Don't you get me wrong

Only want to know Only want to know
Only want to know, now Only want to know
Only want to know Only want to know
Only want to know, now I only want to know

Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Do you think you're what they say you are?
Jesus Christ
Do you think you're what they say you are?

Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Do you think you're what they say you are?
Jesus Christ
Do you think you're what they say you are?


Modernity, a Poem with Commentary

Tonight, a dear friend remarked that at the southern college he is working at in ministry -- that a student leader bought into a lie so severe that she blatantly, publicly has compromised herself yet defends herself as if she believes it.

It is not just at that school. Lies are not unique to one school, or one person. We all lies. As Greg House says on TV's House, "Everybody lies." Is he cynical, or does he, an atheist, understand the essence of sin? True, House is not a real person, but is he right? Let me know your thoughts.

Romans 3:23-26 says,
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
What sin is not a lie, or the agreement of a lie?

Anthony Trendl

Chicly depressed,
overcast and earthtoned,
she brimmed
of fresh mourning
and words
of all things demised.

Laden and poured,
empty was she—
pursuant of men
who didn’t exist,
losing to men
who were fallen,
never considering the man
who was risen.


Something I Do: I Run

A Runner's Dilemma: Can a 41 Year-old Man Run a 20:00 5K?

What's that? My running blog. There was a day -- for many years -- I used to run a lot. Two times, most significantly. Now, I run again, a third time. So far, this one is the charm.

What do a broken soul, a broken heart and renewed spirit have to do with long-distance running?

The first time, I was in junior high school. Spindly, without the tall part, I was struggling in school, and terrible at every sport I attempted: Baseball? Awful. Football? Basketball? Too small. Soccer? Americans didn't care yet. Swimming? Not so much that I will drown, but not so much that I will win, or even finish better than behind the guy in second to last place.

So I joined track. I ran the distance all the leftovers were put into, the mile. My first race was something like 7:25. We had a guy who ran 5:10, so I was not going to do much there.

My brother ran in high school, and I looked up to him. As a 400 meter runner, or, 440 yards as it was then, before we used metrics, he was strong. Not so tall, but he had thighs that could pull an elephant. Since we had no elephants in Palos Heights, he did the next best thing, and that's where running the 440 came in.

Having realized there was no other sport for me, I gave running a go, but my 7:25 never amounted to much. However, I liked the correlation of distance and time, and the absoluteness of it. There was no one throwing a ball to me I had to depend on. It was me running. Just me. No matter how many other runners were there, I could still run better than I ever had. And I did.
(related: Clocks Never Lie: Why I Like Racing)

Sometime during my freshman year, as I ran in the middle of a crowd of much taller runners, at the 200 mark of the track, it occurred to me that I was not tired. So, I ran faster. For once in my life, I was somewhat good at something. It felt all right. Give me more of this fantastic feeling!

I ran a little faster each race. I ran cross-country, and step-by-step, finished the three mile races better and better.

Eventually, in high school, I whittled my mile time down to 4:44. I was then a junior, and would not run as a senior.

I wound up team captain, and winning a lot of dual meets (when two teams are matched up). I read running, ate running, ran all kinds of races in the summer, joined other teams, and ran, ran, ran. Sometimes, I ran until I collapsed at the end of the race. Rarely would I ever say I did not try hard enough.

A combination of a teacher strike cancelling the entire senior cross-country season, and recognizing I had let running consume me, caused my fire to dwindle.

The good side of running then was I believe my involvement kept me out of some of the usual high school challenges. I also got in great shape.

The downside was I let running become a god. God thought otherwise, and using the teachers' strike, and a few other events, stripped from me the fire to race. It stopped mattering. It was not long after this I took my faith seriously. There's more to that story, but this post is about running.

In college, I ran once in a while, and I even raced in some 5Ks and triathlons, but it was not the same. I did not care. I even managed a long distance running club which had dozens of runners, most of which were training for the Chicago Marathon. (picture: Bud Light Triathlon 1983. I was 16).

Later, in 1999, after an enormously difficult winter of losing my job, my apartment, my car broke down, I had bronchitis, and a serious girlfriend dumped me cold, my church, and many friends (fallout from both the church thing, and the girlfriend thing) I started to walk.

This was the beginning of the second time I ran.

Remember in Forrest Gump (see video below) when he just decides to run? That was my decision to walk. One night, in early March, in the pouring rain, I put on my headphones, popped in a CD of Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits, and just played 'Tusk' (second video) over and over. How far did I walk? At least two hours worth.

As things went on, I walked listening to John Michael Talbot's Quiet Side CD, working the outside lane at Wheaton College's track until I jogged.

Just a lap, then some more. I prayed through each lap. The release of my angst flowed like a dam broken at every brick.

Soon, I was running 10 miles a day, most days a week. No pace in mind. Whatever pace it was, it was. I did not wear real running shoes, or think about training. I just ran, exorcising the intense stress I felt. Had God left me? No, I never thought that, but I certainly did not understand His plan. I praised Him, singing aloud as I ran.

Then, as my apartment was no longer mine in late August, I moved. Unprepared financially, I found the worst apartment in town, a broken down basement of a broken down house owned by a landlord who never fixed things.

The only other economically suitable place was in the complex where said ex-girlfriend lived, so I chose elsewhere. Somehow, in the process of moving, the spring and summer of running was over. Whatever needed purging was satiated. I stopped.

Now, speeding up to January 2007, it was time to run again. I needed a purpose, and I needed drive. Just 40 years old, fitness was part of it. The other part of it was a desire to reclaim what I left behind, only this time, keep my senses about me: run hard, but don't make it a god.

As it turned out, I met through church a guy who I watched through high school, a running star as quick as Illinois ever knew, Jim Spivey, a three-time Olympian. Now retired from racing, he coaches a running club of runners who are more or less in my situation. I used his club to help me restart.

On Thursday, May 3, 2007, I showed up out of shape at the track for a Spivey club practice and had the best-worst workout I have ever known. My fitness level was terrible. I could not finish the plan (3 sets of 3x400). Though a bad workout there, running hard again felt beautiful.

From time-to-time, and increasingly more often, I am finding the good place when pace, attitude, distance and fitness as converge. These are the best runs, whether short or long.

Since then, I have been renewing my fitness, with an unplanned stalling in the winter. At it again, I am planning some hard races, and fully expecting to meet my time goals and beyond.

There you go. Something I do. I run. I have posted extensively at the Runner's Dilemma (over 250 posts and counting), complete with workouts, race results, pictures, reviews of running-related products, links to running sites, opinions about running issues.

If you run, I invite you to join us. Just see the link at the top of the page there.

What do you do?



Leann Rimes Sings Amazing Grace

Leann Rimes Sings Amazing Grace

She sings it A cappella, in a cavernous church. No audience, except for the million+ who have seen it on YouTube. The style is classic, with a country twang. While her rendition is not creative, it is executed perfectly, and sounds beautiful.

The spiritual side of Rimes is in contrast to the persona she presents in other videos, but consistent with country music's sometime tradition of faith:secular duality.


Read Great Literature to a Telemarketer (satire)

Read Great Literature to a Telemarketer
A guide by Anthony Trendl, reader of literary classics to random callers, but otherwise editor of hungarianbookstore.com
see also:

In this present world in which telemarketers believe they have a right to call us with their wares, and the courts look desperately for a solution that is legal and enduring, let me offer some ideas.

Since telemarketing is emotionally equal to gambling and mortgage spam, realize those calling us are either children who thought calling people would be a better job than fast food, or difficult to employ adults. Help them out.

As with any rehabilitation effort, you need to reeducate, or in most cases, educate the poor caller. Who knows what kind of home theyve grown up in. Culture is surely lacking, and thats where you come in.

Read to Them
Choose your passages carefully. Have them ready when the unsuspecting caller tries to find you as his pigeon. When they pause, after you gently interrupt them, start reading.

While the world is reading Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right and The Da Vinci Code, you are a step ahead, considering deeper topics, The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?. What is your purpose? Your purpose, in the situation with telemarketers, is to lift up great literature for the sake of improving a few of their lives.

What should you read? The classics are a good place to start. The Riverside Shakespeare will give you some excellent passages from "Romeo and Juliet", "King Lear" and "Hamlet." "To be or not to be," ponders Hamlet as he considers his own mortality. Read with vigor.

A favorite of mine is either the beginning or ending of Edgar Allan Poes "Tell Tale Heart," which youll find in Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. "TRUE! - nervous - very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?" You can feel the excitement. Share that excitement with the telemarketer.

As the holiday time approaches, bring the right spirit into things, and read Luke 2:8-14 from the King James Bible. Verse nine will somber up the call, "And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid." Listen to KJV Audio Bible Dramatized to remind you what Gods Word can do to a virulent phone salesperson.

If that doesnt work, break out the thick books. War and Peace will calm the beast within the caller. Moby Dick is a good choice too. For the more ambitious of you, A Concise History of Hungary will enlighten the listener.

If thats not your style, thats OK. Your goal is to enrich their lives. Almost any literary genre will do. Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, or Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham (I Can Read It All by Myself Beginner Books) will do fine.

If you are a product of the cha-cha music, martinis and lava lamp world, you can bring him your world with Tiki Drinks

This is why they are reading books like these below. You need to help them. It is a civic duty, like helping out the Salvation Army, except with a literacy goal.

* Stephan Schiffmans Telesales: Americas #1 Corporate Sales Trainer Shows You How to Boost Your Phone Sales
* Motivating With Sales Contests: The Complete Guide to Motivating Your Telephone Professionals With Contests That Produce Record-Braking Results
* Selling by Phone: How to Reach and Sell to Customers in the Nineties
* The Unfair Advantage: Practical applications of psychological selling skills (NLP)

Bring all of your passion. Reading to the caller is your catharsis, your weapon and his literary redemption.

Anthony Trendl

Other Products
Let me admit that the CDs here are only funny once, and some of the writing in these books missed the editor. However, anyone serious about helping a telemarketers reeducation should be aware of the others on the subject.

Presents Hymns & Carols in Historical & Theological Context: review: Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories

Presents Hymns & Carols in Historical & Theological Context
Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories
book by Robert J. Morgan

Robert Morgan has collected the stories of familiar hymns which transcend denominational boundaries. I sang many of these as a youth at Catholic Mass, and later, as I have regularly attended Protestant services. Not only did I enjoy reading the lyrics in the quiet of my living room, but I also learned more about the intended meaning of each song.

Significant Songs (just a few of another 50 I could list)
* "O Sacred Heart Now Wounded"
* "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring"
* "Joy to the World!"
* "The First Noel"
* "O Holy Night"
* "O How I Love Jesus"
* "I Love to Tell the Story"
* "Beulah Land"
* "Nothing But the Blood"
* "God of Our Fathers"
* "Softly and Tenderly"
* "I'll Fly Away"
* "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?"

Christian hymns are part of world music, going back hundreds of years. Whether written by a repentant slave owner or a Catholic priest who believes scripture should be in the common man's language, or as an extension of a theologian's great poetic skill, the stories of the classics are anything but ordinary.

What impressed me was the easy style of Morgan's writing as he explained the theology and origin of the songs. Each song receives one page describing its author and history.

I learned, for example, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" by Ada Ruth Habershon isn't a secular song of generic faith sung only by folk singers, but a rich song of longing for eternity in Heaven specifically for Christians.

I like that Morgan included "Away in the Manger" and other Christmas carols. In the Christmas holiday context, they feel like simple ditties, but reading the lyrics showed me how many started as hymns sung throughout the year as worship.

A downside of the book was the organization. Morgan researched this carefully and grouped the hymns chronologically. Each song gets its own entry. In many cases, specific material was lacking, or, as in the case of the Wesley brothers, John and Charles, many were written by one author. There was only so much Wesley information to spread out over all of their songs. It would have made more senses to collection the songs of one author together, with one essay to avoid this problem.

"Then Sings My Soul" is aptly titled, referencing the famous lyric. It is as instructive as it is encouraging. For me, as I walked through memories new and old, I found that this coming Sunday as I sing these with my fellow parishioners, I will be singing with more soul than the Sunday before.

I fully recommend "Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories" by Robert J. Morgan.

Anthony Trendl
editor, HungarianBookstore.com

If I’m Still Here When I Die (poem)

If I’m Still Here When I Die
Anthony Trendl

Bury me in a Baptist churchyard.
I’ve been a Catholic, a Methodist, a Lutheran–
but bury me
in a Baptist churchyard.
The dead are dead and bones are bones
and my broken frame will be no different.

Give me a coffin of pine or oak–I don’t care.
Slice the wood so the edge is sharp,
and stain it brown as dirt so it matches right.

Dig the hole four by seven by six with two
big men with brittle, callused hands,
with spade stem slivers hidden under thick skin.
Pay them well so they use a straight plumb line
and not their eye.

Pray the prayer all dead men hear,
let it resound and echo across the yard, from stone
to stone, ear to ear and back
to the preacher.

Toss the dirt scoop by scoop
but let whomever loves me most
fill the space between the box and earth.
Pack it hard, flat and smooth
and sprinkle grass seeds for birds to eat.

Cut the stone in good Roman letters–
big and proud, “Here lies
I.” Any name will do and this year is as good as that.
Next year would do just fine.

Leave the grave, my bones, box and stone
until grass is so thick that the stone cracks long lines.
So long as it is in a Baptist churchyard.
Only the Baptists know how to cheer.

What do you think? How futile is death? Does it matter how we are buried if the grave does not really hold us?

What about the name on the grave? If I am not there, why put my name?

What about cheering? Not picking on the Baptists, of course, but asking the question: should we celebrate death, and what should such a celebration look like?

These questions stem directly from a worldview - a faithview - that includes eternal life through Jesus Christ. The body remains where it landed, but the soul moves on.


American Idol Includes Jesus 'Shout to the Lord' - Modern Christian Praise Song

Jesus Christ gets his due? Hard to say, but he was mentioned tonight.

The overwhelming interest in this morning's post draws me to look at tonight's American Idol - Idol Gives Back edition, beginning with the familiar Zschech Darlene version (Hillsong Australia). In an earlier post, I included her version, but below I am including Don Moen's.

According to Wikipedia:

"Shout to the Lord" is a popular worship anthem, written by singer/songwriter Darlene Zschech in 1993, published by Hillsong Music Australia. It is sung regularly at many Christian churches, festivals and youth gatherings.
Tonight, the words seem to reflect the original. Did American Idol producers bow to pressure from Christians? Was this in the contract from the start? I don't know.

American Idol Waters Down 'Shout to the Lord' - Modern Christian Praise Song

Worship, Hymns, and a Little Rock n' Roll: What Gives?

As I am seeing massive hits on this morning's post: American Idol Waters Down 'Shout to the Lord' - Modern Christian Praise Song, I thought I would look at what makes Christian music, and what counts as worship.

Dicey territory? Absolutely. I am not proposing I know the answer here.

Worship is serving God. There are many ways to serve God, whether through physical service, donating money in a church tithe or to missions, making a meal for someone hungry, helping a person suffering from AIDS to be more comfortable, talking about His great gift with others, or, to sing a song.

Not all songs with Christian themes are worship, however. Nor are all good things holy. What is the criteria for worship?

Look at musicians well-known as Phil Keaggy. He spanned varieties of worship, but also played 'secular' tunes. Which are worship?

  • Do we tell God who He is?
  • What about songs which tell God of our submission to Him?
  • Does it make a difference if the musician him or herself is a Christian?
  • Can I still worship if that song was written by, say, Church of Satan founder Anton LeVey, if, presuming, the lyrics are, say the same as "My Jesus I Love Thee"?
  • Is it worship if I am singing one of the great hymns, but myself am not a believer in Jesus?
  • What if I am singing, and my theology is right, but I am living like I do not believe -- is this worship?
  • Must worship be music from the pre-1800s, accompanied by an organ?
  • Is is still worship if missing a guitar?
  • Can we worship alone - why worship with others?
  • Sometimes songs have only a few words, with a stanza song 10x. Is that still a worship song?

Content, instruments, attitude, belief of song. That's all those questions really are. But we add so much to what is worship, and, in doing so, take much away. Anyone who has ever considered this issue knows it is both easy and difficult to reduce to a single blog post.

I invite your comments, favorite hymns, and idea about worship.

Phil Keaggy - Shades of Green

Phil Keaggy - Hold Me Jesus (cover of a Rich Mullins song)

Glenn Kaiser - Most of All (from "All My Days")

Avalon "My Jesus, I Love Thee"

Elvis Presley - How Great Thou Art

Sandi Patty - How Great Thou Art

American Idol Waters Down 'Shout to the Lord' - Modern Christian Praise Song

American Idol - Idol Gives Back

Like many Christians, part of me was cheering as I sat in my living room hearing the idols sing "Shout to the Lord." A closer listen shows though the lyrics were changed. Below is the video and then the lyrics in the familiar Zschech Darlene version (Hillsong Australia).

While the American Idol people no doubt watered down a beautiful song because of fear that they have promoted Christianity, they indirectly have.

I suspect a few of the singers knew the original, while others are listening to it as cheesy nonsense. As sung on American Idol, it is just that: cheese.

In the original, it is a praise song to Jesus Christ. No other. Not some generic 'lord'. Offensive to only those who do not know Him, and a sweet name to all who do. Catholics often sing this song, protestants of all flavors do as well.

What good can come of this?
Two things: hopefully as this issue gets blogged and discussed, people will think more about what they sing Sunday mornings. Does it mean anything? Secondly, Zschech Darlene and related artists (Don Moen, for example) will see a spike in sales. The real songs will get into the hands of more people.

There is no escaping the fact that many of our treasured songs are based on Christianity: "Amazing Grace," "Silent Night," "Be Thou My Vision," "How Great Thou Art." While "Shout to the Lord," has yet to show the staying power of those classics, it is popularly sung in churches around the world. While the defunct moral character of music sung by Nelly Furtado and Fergie will no doubt continue, people keep returning to songs in which God's holy character is exalted.

Darlene Zschech, Ron Kenoly, Alvin Slaughter version

My Jesus, My Savior
Lord there is none like you
All of my days, I want to praise
The wonders of your mighty love
My Comfort, My Shelter
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship you


Shout to the Lord, all the earth
Let us sing. Power and majesty, praise to the King.
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of your name
I sing for joy at the work of your hands
Forever I'll love you, forever I'll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in


My Jesus, My Savior
Lord there is none like you
All of my days, I want to praise
The wonders of your mighty love
My Comfort, My Shelter
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship you


Shout to the Lord, all the earth
Let us sing. Power and majesty, praise to the King.
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of your name
I sing for joy at the work of your hands
Forever I'll love you, forever I'll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in


Let the earth sing
I declare your great name
All of my life I will
With all of my breath
I will praise you
Lift it up, life it up


Nothing compares to you
I shout your praise
Nothing compares to you
Nothing compares to the promise I have in you!

See an update regarding the April 10 edition of American Idol: American Idol Includes Jesus 'Shout to the Lord' - Modern Christian Praise Song


An Icon Dies: Charlton Heston's Life on Earth is Over: What is a Miracle?

Charlton Heston has died (see Moses Will See The Promised Land - Film legend Charlton Heston dead at 84).

I know little about his personal life, but there is no getting around the stunning skill he brought to characters like Moses. His parting of the Red Sea, when I was 8 or 10, watching for the first time in the mid-1970s, blew me away. It was part of what caused me to think of what a miracle might look like.

Was the ground dry? All of that water would have left the sea bottom soaking. What about seaweed, fish, sunken vessels? God must have managed that. An imperfect miracle, however defined, makes no sense. If God does a miracle, He will get it right.

Miracles are not natural. Supernatural. Beyond natural. As such, hard for my natural mind to imagine. What did the Red Sea really look like when the real Moses raised his staff? I don't know. The Ten Commandments movie with Heston started that question, still yet unanswered.

I can't explain a miracle. When God, going beyond the realm of science He already created says, "Do this," and His command carries (which it always will), that's a miracle. Sometimes we see them, other times we don't. The Apostles saw Jesus make five fish and two bread loaves into enough to feed thousands. They saw the product of a miracle when Jesus walked among them after His death. Had to be hard to imagine, even right in front of them.

Where does Charlton Heston go from here? I don't know. Only God knows.


Django Reinhart in a Waco Cafe?

The brother of an old, dear friend is rocking out Django Reinhart on guitar.

Performing Minor Swing by DJanjo Reinhardt
at Beatnix Coffeehouse, Waco, TX
JB Smith, Tim, Neil Rowe Miller