A Surprising Light

I am a fortunate man…
• Husband to a wonderful woman for so many years it is assumed I must have married her when she was five years old.
• Father to two talented, grounded young men, both of whom I would choose as friends if I wasn’t already their dad.
• Grandfather to four beautiful grandchildren.
I am a fortunate man…
• Still finding new avenues for the work I love after some four decades.
• Privileged to make music with incredibly talented cowriters, artists, and recording musicians all along the way.
• Blessed to work with ethical, creative clients from all around the globe, in the worlds of church music, advertising, musical theater, & broadcast media.
I am a fortunate man…
• Saved by God’s grace when I was a boy.
• Forgiven by God’s mercy every day since.
• Still learning how amazing the Lord truly is after all these years.
I am a fortunate man.
(And other things that might make you think I’m a big deal)
• Winner of six Dove Awards. (Not as big a deal as some think.)
• Writer of eight Top Ten Christian radio hits. (A bigger deal than many think.)
• Producer of Point of Grace, the Talleys, Kurt Kaiser and several other talented recording artists. (A bigger deal for me than for them.)
• Writer/Arranger/Orchestrator of a small mountain of choral music anthems, collections and musicals. (Which at least speaks to my work ethic.)
• Author of The Craft of Christian Songwriting. (Which speaks to my obsession to finish even the most unprofitable of tasks.)
• Seller of tacos, airline tickets, jewelry, and frozen cobblers, during a decade of writing radio & TV jingles, including a recording session with the legendary Mel Torme`. (Now that’s a big deal.)
• Teacher of songwriting from a Christian POV since 1995. (Only time will tell if that’s a big deal or not.)

“Sometimes a light surprises the Christian as he sings…”  

I cannot count the many times the Lord has used music to shine a light through the fog of life and speak to me with words of clarity, healing, and encouragement.  And so the words of William Cowper’s (1731-1800) beloved hymn text speak a special truth to this musician. For often, it is in the simple act of singing that a melody rises above the daily din, bearing reminders of God’s unfailing love, His underserved mercies, and His ever-constant presence.

It might seem incongruous that in the immediate glow of Easter and the Resurrection, that a church musician might sing any song other than an “Alleluia!” But I suspect if we are completely honest, many in the ministry of music are exhausted right now. The privilege of providing music leadership for Easter is also an enormous pressure. There is virtually no break at all between the responsibilities of Christmas and Easter, and you, the worship leader, have likely been operating on “high alert” since last October.

What’s more, just because the two most important Holy Days of the church calendar occur nearly back-to-back, it doesn’t mean that our day-to-day lives stop and patiently wait for Christmas and Easter to pass. Along with the joys of the holidays, we still experience sickness, doubt, worry, and loss, but with little or no time to stop and reflect on these things. And so they pile up and wear us down. By the afternoon of Easter Sunday, it can all feel like too much.

So in this time just after Easter, if you need, take comfort and reassurance from Cowper’s hymn text.

Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say,

“Let the unknown tomorrow bring with it what it may.”

Yet God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice.

And while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice!

May we all remain open-hearted as we continue to sing, so that God’s surprising light, like the sun, may rise with “healing in His wings.”



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