Todd's Blog

Song Story – Writing “Rest In Me”

When I was on staff at Calvary Church in Pueblo, CO, I was sitting alone at the piano in the church worship center early one morning. It was well before office hours so there was no one else in the building making it the perfect place for a quiet time. Weeks before that day I had placed a piece of Plexiglas on the piano to hold chord charts in place when the ceiling fans were running. As I played and worshiped in the stillness of the early morning I suddenly saw quick movement behind me reflected in the glass. Because I thought I was alone it startled me. I jumped and immediately spun around as my heart skipped a beat. What a relief to realize it was only a squirrel on a telephone wire outside the window behind me. I took a deep breath as my heart resumed beating. I felt embarrassed by my reaction even though nobody was there to see it. Then, in that unguarded moment God began to speak to my heart.

The squirrel startled me because I didn’t realize it was there… but God knew it was there. I felt like God was saying “I’m completely aware of every detail of that little creature’s life, the coming and going, searching for food… every single detail. How much more, then, am I aware of the details of your life?” It was like the ‘squirrel version’ of Matthew 10…

 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)

Within moments I went from being startled by a squirrel to being deeply moved by God’s overwhelming love. I went back to playing the piano and without even thinking sang the first lines of the song…

 I see the sparrow fall from the sky. These little creatures cannot escape my eye.

I continued to play and sing as the song poured out effortlessly. In 30-40 minutes Rest In Me was complete. I decided it was just a simple little song between me and God and that I wouldn’t be sharing it with anyone.

In my next post I’ll explain why I changed my mind.


What’s Your God like?

Recently I was blessed to be the speaker and worship leader at a youth retreat for a group of Huntsville, Alabama students. The theme of the retreat was Go Deep and the messages and worship music emphasized the vastness of God and how much there is for us to discover.

I began the opening teaching with an interesting exercise, the results of which have haunted me ever since. I handed out 3×5 cards and asked each person to write out how they would honestly finish this statement, “I wish God wasn’t so ____________.” I instructed everyone to leave off names to ensure anonymity and honesty. They then placed the cards into a box where I later retrieved them.

Now before you read on, take just a moment to fill in the blank for yourself. Until I did this activity (which was an unplanned last minute idea) I had never considered such a thing. Like many people, I was taught at an early age to accept God as he is and that ‘ours is not to question’. To some it may even seem blasphemous to consider or confess something we don’t like about God. I disagree. I think questions like this are honest and probing. Going deep with God means taking a hard look at ourselves and any ‘issues’ we may have with him. God can handle it!

Later when I read the cards I noticed many were expressing similar things in different ways. All the comments easily fell into two categories. The most popular response was, “I wish God wasn’t so distant.” The second and only other response was, “I wish God wasn’t so strict.”

I was both saddened and excited about the results of the exercise. Saddened because these teenagers held such a depressing view of the God of the universe. Saddened because I believe a large number of Christians, young and old, would probably give the exact same answers. The picture of a distant, strict God is one that the Church has all too often painted. If I were to give a definition ‘religion’ it would include a description of God as distant and strict. I’m so thankful Christianity isn’t a religion!

But I was excited, too! Excited because I now had the privilege of sharing some GREAT news with these teens. God is NOT distant and God is NOT strict! Woohoo! (yes, go ahead and do a little happy dance right now) Throughout the remainder of the retreat we discussed why God sometimes appears to be both distant and strict. We talked about suffering, legalism and why we sometimes feel abandoned by God. To sum it up…

God sometimes appears distant because…

1) The harshness of life and a fallen world seem at odds with his goodness.
2) God’s goodness necessitates freewill for everyone. Some misuse it and create tremendous suffering for others.
3) A sense of guilt that comes from others is often mistaken for God’s displeasure.

God sometimes appears strict because…

1) Sin is fun. If it wasn’t, hardly anybody would do it.
2) Christianity is often taught as a pathway to God instead of God’s pathway to us via the cross. This leads to lots of rules and the need to perform.
3) A sense of guilt that comes from others is often mistaken for God’s displeasure (yes, this is also point three from the other misconception).
4) God has given us instructions, commandments, etc. out of his goodness. He does this so we can be safe and enjoy life but we think he just wants to keep us from having fun.

Of course, this is not an in-depth theological discussion but I hope these few thoughts are enough to get you thinking and asking some questions, too. Go ahead and fill in the blank for yourself. Then ask God to show you where you may be wrong. As A.W. Tozer has pointed out, holding a wrong view of God is the essence of idolatry. Personally I have found nothing to be as liberating as dropping the chains of a wrong view of God.

For a deeper look into these issues I recommend the following books…

2969X: The Problem of Pain The Problem of PainBy C.S. Lewis / HarperOne
565065: Shattered Dreams: God"s Unexpected Pathway to Joy Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Pathway to Joy
By Dr. Larry Crabb / Random House, Inc
48096: Suffering and the Sovereignty of God Suffering and the Sovereignty of GodBy John Piper & Justin Taylor, eds. / Crossway Books & Bibles
82372: When God Doesn"t Make Sense, softcover When God Doesn’t Make Sense, softcoverBy Dr. James Dobson / Tyndale House
021436X: Disappointment with God Disappointment with GodBy Philip Yancey / Zondervan

For a deeper understanding of God’s character and attributes, spend some time in the book of Psalms and all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John if you are not familiar with the Holy Bible). I also recommend these classics…

7310: The Knowledge of the Holy The Knowledge of the Holy
By A.W. Tozer / HarperOne
1650X: Knowing God: 20th Anniversary Edition Knowing God: 20th Anniversary Edition
By J.I. Packer / Inter-varsity Press