Jesus does sell (a revised reprise)

A month ago I wrote a blog saying that the name of Jesus does not sell very well in Christian music. It’s often hard to find Christ in contemporary “Christian” songs I hear on the radio.
After reading my post, a good friend told me a wonderful story about how one of the songs I profiled meant a lot to her. Her impression of that particular song is very different from mine. I thanked her for her honesty, and we shared a quick hug.
I never want these posts to be the last word. Let’s start a discussion. Feel free to disagree with me. Please.
In that vein, I will disagree with myself. There actually are quite a few Christ-centered songs on the radio these days. If we listen for them.
I tuned in to a different Christian radio station than I did for last month’s blog. Among the songs I heard on the playlist were these:

Jeremy Camp – Overcome

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8AB0vUU038

Seated above
Enthroned in the Father’s love
Destined to die
Poured out for all mankind
God’s only Son
Perfect and spotless One
He never sinned
But suffered as if He did

All authority, every victory is Yours
All authority, every victory is Yours

(chorus)
Savior, worthy of honor and glory
Worthy of all our praise
You overcame
Jesus awesome in power forever
Awesome and great is Your name
You overcame

Power in hand
Speaking the Father’s plan
You’re sending us out
Light in this broken land

We will overcome
By the blood of the Lamb
And the word of our testimony
Everyone overcome

Camp’s first wife died of cancer when he was 23 and she was 21. He understands God’s love from a deeper perspective than many of us do. I enjoy his music a lot.

Here’s a song that offers a solution for us:

Hawk Nelson – Drops In The Ocean

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZH13wFGffg

I want you as you are, not as you ought to be
Won’t you lay down your guard and come to me
The shame that grips you now is crippling
It breaks my heart to see you suffering

Cause I am for you
I’m not against you

If you want to know
How far my love can go
Just how deep, just how wide
If you want to see
How much you mean to me
Look at my hands, look at my side
If you could count the times I say you are forgiven
It’s more than the drops in the ocean

Don’t think you need to settle for a substitute
When I’m the only love that changes you

Open your heart
It’s time that we start again

This song does not mention Jesus by name, but it’s obvious that Jesus is who the song is about. The same is true of this one:

Anthem Lights – Outta My Mind

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSvNidujTdI

Feelin’ like I got a front row seat
To watch everybody be happy
Can’t even paint a smile on my face
It’s so hard to not complain
Gotta try not to say
O God, what about me
‘Cause I know that’s not the way
That I’m supposed to be

(Chorus)
Get me outta my mind and into Your heart
It’s not about me, it’s not about me
So I’m gonna start
Playin’ my part in Your design
Now is the time
Get me outta my mind
Outta my mind

There’s a bigger picture on display
And it’s starting to come in focus
Causing me to see to see the ones in need outside my little world
Gotta try, just to say
O God, what can I do
Doesn’t matter what it takes
I wanna lead them all to You

If anybody asks me what have I been up to
This is what I’m gonna say
I’ve been spending my time, outta my mind
And I’m really lovin’ livin’ this way

I heard several songs with this theme: Life is not about me. Anthem Lights does not specify what this life is about, though. This next one does, probably because Jeremy Camp wrote it:

Jeremy Camp – Christ In Me

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgGP3g1rjA8

In this obsession with
The things this world says make us happy
Can’t see the slaves we are
In all the searching, all the grasping
Like we deserve much more
Than all these blessings we’re holding
So now I’m running free
Into an ocean of mercy, unending

So come and empty me
So that it’s You I breathe
I want my life to be
Only Christ in me
So I will fix my eyes
‘Cause You’re my source of life
I need the world to see
That it’s Christ in me, yeah
That it’s Christ in me, yeah

Done with what holds me down
The things I once was chasing after
Throw off these heavy chains
That I have let become my master
So now I’m running free
Into an ocean of mercy, unending

Or this one, about my shortcomings and God’s mercy:

Moriah Peters – You Carry Me

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2H-zQjgurQ

Feels like it’s been miles and miles
Feels like it’s an uphill climb
Sometimes I get weary on the way
But when I look back at where I’ve been
When I look back, I’m sure of it
I was right there in Your arms and I can say

Every moment of my life
God, You never left my side
Every valley, every storm
You were there, You were there
I don’t need to know what’s next
You’ll be with me every step
Through it all, through it all
I can see You carry me

There are days I wonder if
You can fix the mess I’m in
Times when nothing seems
To go the way it should
But then I look back on every season
I can find there’s ten thousand reasons
To trust that You can work all things for good

Through the wind and waves
Through my worst mistakes
Through the times I thought I walked alone
You were holding me
You were whispering
I will never leave you on your own

Have you ever asked, “Why me, God?” Here’s an answer:

Manafest – Every time You Run

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yJseemI5P4

Last night got a little crazy
I don’t remember, woke up spun with the pasties
My friends say I was tweaked out,
Passed out on a dirty couch, still in the house
It kind a scares me, I don’t know
Am I out of control?
Always waking up still in my clothes
I wrote a note that said goodbye to pain, goodbye to shame
But couldn’t find a way, I just cry for days
I’m so depressed, soaking wet, I can’t rest
These thoughts just beat me to death I’m unkempt
I thought of a song my mom used to sing in church
But it’s been so long I can’t remember the words

(Chorus)
Every time you run, every time you hide
Every time it hurts, every time you cry
Every time you run away, every time you hide your face
And it feels so far away, I’m right here, with you
(Every time you run)

I keep sleeping in don’t want to wake up
I keep hearing from the landlord pay up
Hide my face in my pillow ’til the sun sets
Hung over and I haven’t seen a pay check
I took a job downtown at the factory
I was hired and fired with no salary
I keep running from responsibility
It seems impossible, the pressure is hitting me
I know I need to man up, or sit down
Stand up and get out of this crowd
I thought of a song my mom used to sing in church
But it’s been so long I can’t remember the words

Well I know I’m not ready to die, But I’ve
Sure thought about the meaning of life
‘Cause I can’t seem to find a purpose for me
It’s just the choices and I fail to proceed
I got a get up, get up, get up, get up
I hear voices in my mind, one’s a devil, one’s Jesus
I can feel it can you help me find the pieces
Like an angel on my shoulder, you hold the
Joy of the Lord raising up a soldier
You gave me the song my mom used to sing in church
I promised not to quit and I remembered the words
I promised not to quit and I remembered the words

Just a couple more. Here’s a wonderful worship song I heard on the radio. We sing this one at our church every so often:

Chris Tomlin – Our God

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJpt1hSYf2o

Water You turned into wine
Open the eyes of the blind
There’s no one like You
None like You
Into the darkness You shine
Out of the ashes we rise
There’s no one like You
None like You

(Chorus)
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God…

Into the darkness you shine
Out of the ashes we Rise
There’s no One like You
None like You.

And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?
What could stand against?

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God…
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God …
Here’s one of the most powerful songs on the radio these days. Because it’s real:

Francesca Battistelli – If We’re Honest

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDcTvtuuVU8

Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide

I’m a mess and so are you
We’ve built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do

(Chorus)
Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not
Living life afraid of getting caught
There is freedom found when we lay our secrets down at the cross, at the cross

It would change our lives
It would set us free
It’s what we need to be

Have you ever pretended to be something that you’re not? I do it all the time. As Battistelli sings, I’m not being honest – with myself or with God.
And yet, God knows all. I can’t hide from Him. I can hide from you, but not from Him.
So, Jesus does sell. Singers can mention Jesus Christ without shame.
I wish they’d do it more often.
More likely, though, it’s my fault. Perhaps I could hear Jesus clearly, if only I was listening for Him – instead of listening with a critical ear.
How we approach God makes all the difference. Are we willing to listen and learn, or are we seeking to justify our own views of who we think God is?
If we’re honest …

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Our savior is … Congress

Remember Michael Bloomberg?

Bloomberg, the billionaire former three-term mayor of New York, at one time considered running for president of the United States as an independent, saying he could not stomach Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders as our nation’s top leader.

Bloomberg, 74, in March decided not to seek the presidency, for a couple of reasons. One, Hillary Clinton – a longtime friend of his – is the likely Democratic nominee.

The other reason is much more ominous. In an editorial announcing his decision, he offered this commentary:

 

“… When I look at the data, it’s clear to me that if I entered the race, I could not win. I believe I could win a number of diverse states — but not enough to win the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to win the presidency.

In a three-way race, it’s unlikely any candidate would win a majority of electoral votes, and then the power to choose the president would be taken out of the hands of the American people and thrown to Congress. The fact is, even if I were to receive the most popular votes and the most electoral votes, victory would be highly unlikely, because most members of Congress would vote for their party’s nominee. Party loyalists in Congress — not the American people or the Electoral College — would determine the next president.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-03-07/the-2016-election-risk-that-michael-bloomberg-won-t-take

 

Bloomberg argues that the two-party system effectively eliminates any third-party or independent candidate from ever winning the presidency.

We, the registered voters in the United States, do not elect the president. Let’s call a spade a spade. The Electoral College does.

According to a federal government website, http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html, “the Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens …

“The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Your state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators …

Who selects the Electors?

“The process for selecting Electors varies throughout the United States. Generally, the political parties nominate Electors at their State party conventions or by a vote of the party’s central committee in each State. Each candidate will have their own unique slate of potential Electors as a result of this part of the selection process.

“Electors are often chosen to recognize service and dedication to their political party. They may be State-elected officials, party leaders, or persons who have a personal or political affiliation with the Presidential candidate.”

So, the Electoral College itself is highly political, and if it couldn’t determine our next president, then Congress would.

Which leaves us with the likely choice of either Donald Trump, the Republican, or Hillary Clinton, the Democrat.

I profiled each of them in January in this blog:

https://billcornishwordpresscom.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/where-she-stands-hillary-clinton/

https://billcornishwordpresscom.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/where-he-stands-donald-trump/

While both have passionate followers, both also have high disapproval ratings. When I vote in November, will I support one of them – or will I vote against one of them? An anti-vote is no way to elect our president, but it could happen.

Last fall, a liberal columnist I follow railed against Trump. I commented on one of her posts, saying, in essence, that Trump eventually will say something so revolting that the American people will reject him before he becomes a serious candidate. Just chill, I wrote.

Obviously, I was wrong. I misjudged the deep-seated hatred of politics-as-usual among many, many of us.

Clinton represents the political establishment, although as a woman, many see her as a ground-breaker as well.

How did we get here? Most of us are not happy with either candidate, and yet our “democracy” leaves no room for any third voice.

Perhaps by the 2020 election, both political parties will be forced to listen to the rest of us.

Whoever wins in November will not have a groundswell of support from a majority of Americans. He or she will have to convince us to follow.

And how will Congress react? Will the next president be able to pass his or her favorite policies, or will political gridlock get even worse than it is now?

As frightening as this sounds, perhaps Congress will be our savior. The president is not a dictator. Congress holds the purse strings. Congress can say yay or nay on policy proposals.

This fall, 469 seats in the U.S. Congress – 34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats – are up for election. Let’s not get so caught up in presidential politics that we ignore these races.

Will this country swing back to the center any time soon?

I hope so. We can’t let the extremists on either side ruin this country. We are too big and too strong for that.

Aren’t we?

Reaching success – and staying there

I don’t often write book reviews, but this read is so good, it’s worth supporting.

“Mindset,” by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, explains in detail two ways of thinking. The mindsets affect sports, business, love and relationships, teaching and education (including parenting), and other areas of our lives.

Each of us has a mindset that affects the way we think, which explains how others respond to us.

The main point of her book is this: Whatever our mindset is, we are not stuck with it. We can change if we so desire.

The fixed mindset

“Believing that your qualities are carved in stone – the fixed mindset – creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character – well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.”

Dweck explains this mindset with her sixth-grade teacher, who “believed that people’s IQ scores told the whole story of who they were … only the highest-IQ students could be trusted to carry the flag, clap the erasers, or take a note to the principal … she was creating a mindset: … look smart, don’t look dumb. Who cared about or enjoyed learning when our whole being was at stake every time she gave us a test or called on us in class?”

Our genetics define us. We are who we are. It’s fixed. If we are born smart, then we are smart. If we are born with an intellectual mark or two missing, then tough rocks for us. We have to live with it.

There’s a pecking order, and we have to justify ourselves all the time to keep ourselves at or near the top.

At one time, I worked with a photographer who focuses on winning awards from his peers for his work. Recently, he and his photo department entered several photos in two contests. In the first contest, they won one award. In the other, they won eight – with the same photos.

Rather than getting excited about winning eight awards, he was bummed they won only one in the first contest, and vowed to do better next year.

On Facebook, I told him that he didn’t need validation. He’s a good photographer. He knows that.

He responded by saying, yes, he does need validation. His self-esteem is low.

He then deleted those comments from his Facebook post.

That’s the fixed mindset.

Can we improve our self-esteem? Can we appreciate a pat on the back from one person, even if another person chooses not to follow suit?

The growth mindset

“The growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way – in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments – everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”

This mindset isn’t afraid of failure, but tries to learn from it. These folks see setbacks and obstacles as challenges to overcome.

An example from sports

Dweck contrasts the two mindsets by comparing leaders in several arenas of life, including sports. She refers to former tennis star John McEnroe as a prime example of the fixed mindset. McEnroe was well-known for his temper. When he missed a shot or lost a match, he blamed everyone but himself – the weather, his shoes, the chair umpire, the ball boys, his opponent …

McEnroe had enough talent to get himself to the top of the tennis world. He won several major tournaments. But he couldn’t sustain it, because he wasn’t willing to work hard and improve himself.

In contrast, Michael Jordan was cut from his high school varsity basketball team. We like to give that coach a hard time, but Jordan had yet to show the incredible talent that would make him one of the best basketball players who ever lived.

Instead of complaining or blaming the coach for getting cut, Jordan took another approach. He worked hard to improve his skills. He worked so hard, he eventually became a superstar.

Here’s the key: Once he became a star and started winning championships with the Chicago Bulls, he continued to work hard and improve his skills. That’s why he won six championships, a feat that very few players have ever reached in basketball.

McEnroe and Jordan both had huge amounts of talent. But they handled it differently. And they got different results.

An example from business

Dweck gives examples of both mindsets from the business world. She has a section titled “CEOs and the Big Ego.” Her first example of this is Lee Iacocca, who rescued Chrysler Corp. from bankruptcy by obtaining federal bailout loans.

But before Iacocca got to Chrysler, he was a top executive at Ford Motor Co. He wanted to succeed Henry Ford II at the top of Ford. Dweck writes that Iacocca said, “Ford corporate headquarters was a palace and Henry Ford was the king … I was the crown prince. I was His Majesty’s special protégé. All of us … lived the good life in the royal court … White-coated waiters were on call throughout the day, and we all ate lunch together in the executive dining room.”

However, Ford eventually forced Iacocca out of the company. Rather than trying to learn from Henry Ford II or build on the skills he learned there, Iacocca hated Ford after that. “So the king who had defined him as competent and worthy now rejected him as flawed.”

Iacocca poured himself into Chrysler and, in his autobiography, wrote, “Today, I’m a hero.”

But like McEnroe, Iacocca’s success didn’t last. After he rescued Chrysler, he spent the company’s money on improving his image, not on building better cars. He didn’t want his underlings to get credit for innovative engineering or design, so he quashed good ideas. Instead of keeping up with Japanese companies that were designing better cars, he railed against them and demanded the American government impose tariffs and quotas against them.

Chrysler’s board of directors saw what was happening, and got rid of Iacocca. He could have made a huge difference in the auto industry, but he didn’t – because that would have required teamwork and sharing the glory.

In contrast, Dweck profiles several successful business leaders, including Lou Gerstner, who turned around a struggling IBM. Instead of dining in the executive offices, Gerstner visited every IBM facility to get a first-hand look at how the company was operating. He listened to the shop workers. He learned. He rewarded teamwork. He focused on customer service, even though that hurt the bottom line at first. Wall Street was not kind, but Gerstner pushed forward. Eventually, IBM became a world leader in the computer industry.

So what?

Mindsets aren’t only for world-class leaders. You and I have a mindset, too. How do we handle failure or setbacks? Do we give up, or do we learn from our situation? Are we stuck where we are, or can we grow and change?

Dweck is convinced that each one of us can choose a growth mindset. We don’t have to, but we can.

The growth mindset requires effort. Hard work. Learning. Overcoming. It’s not judging ourselves or others. It’s teamwork. It’s not putting others down when they make a mistake – including our children, who will do things their parents don’t like. Do we encourage and teach? Or do we yell and punish?

Certain parts of my life have fallen apart in recent years. How have I handled that? How do I handle that today?

Can I change the way I handle my issues? Do I want to?

What is my mindset?