Tag Archives: Music

Speaking Of Death The difference between not fearing death, and not really living.

cemetery

A good friend remarked recently that death or dying came up frequently in our family’s conversations. His comment was more a good-natured jab, I think, as we were all enjoying funny thoughts and stories, joking around.

But I have thought about that since. I wondered if we perhaps give death—one of God’s enemies, defeated by Jesus on the cross1—too much air-time in our daily conversations and thoughts?

I do not imagine us to be morbid, by any definition. But neither do we fear or avoid the biological fact that each of us will expire at some point in the unknown future. The passing of our good friends, family, and friends of friends is, of course, a constant reminder of that fact of life, just as it is for you.

One reason we can so confidently discuss our own deaths without fear is that we are confident in what lies beyond. When we die we are with him in paradise2; to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord3; this world is not our home4. All of those truths (and more) assure our hearts that death is nothing to be feared, rather it will be a welcome door to our true, eternal home.

On the other hand, while it is right to so fully trust God with our souls that we do not too tightly grasp this life, a point can be made that too much focus on the next life will cause us to miss where we are right now. Where God has placed you, and is with you, right now.

We just released a new song last month. (My wife and I are musicians, working on a new album.) The song is called This Journey. I sometimes wonder if people will interpret the lyric of this song incorrectly.

“All along this path of life is where the real treasures are”

I know that our true home—that goal toward which Paul reminded us we press forward, our whole lives—is heaven, eternity with God and his people. I know that. That is the “real treasure”. What I hope to inspire with the words (and music) of that song is a renewed joy in sensing, seeing where God is right now, right here, right where we are. In the beauty of the things he has made, in the people whom he has surrounded us with, in the very fact that we are breathing, our hearts beating.

There are two extremes. One focuses entirely on the eternal and misses the present, while the other focuses entirely on the present (which will pass away, just as we will) and misses the eternal. I think there is a balance found between the two, where God is with us all along our journey.

A quick, related aside:

There is a man we know from our college days at Cincinnati Bible College (now Cincinnati Christian University) who has battled physical ailments for quite a while now. His name is Rod. Rod is always smiling, always loving other people (like, beyond-your-imagination loving), that’s just who he is. I happened to catch a Facebook post of his (actually posted by another on his behalf) that was essentially a good-bye to all his friends. It seemed his body was most likely ready to give out, and he would be home with Jesus soon. He wrote that he was not afraid, but would also be glad to stay, much like Paul in his letter to the Philippian church.

The short version of the rest of Rod’s story—which, as far as I can understand, is amazing—is that God has brought him through that! For now, he has much (or all?) of his health back. He is grateful to God for more time to serve him here, with the people he loves.

And this is my point. While we can be fully, confidently, supremely unafraid of death because Jesus has overcome that, and death is not our end… there is still an amazing joy (even in hard times) of waking up to a new day God has given us here, now.

I’m sure that when I die, whenever, however that will come to me, there are seven people in this home who will miss me. (They seem to be rather fond of me.) There are others, too, I know. (Hi Mom and Dad!) But my hope is that I can, do, and will live my life in such a way that it is fully known that I will be where I am made to be, and any sadness will only last for a short time. And, mostly, that all would know I lived my life to its full, with and in Jesus.5

It may be after I pass a hundred years in this body, or it may be next week. We can’t know, and I understand that is what can cause us to fear. But if our trust, our hope, our life is in Jesus, we have nothing to fear.

And we will also truly live here. And forever.

Twelve Years

cd-caya-2This is the week for remembering, it would seem. Just days ago I marked the eleventh year since the start of this blog, and today, August 29th, we passed another special day in our family’s history.

In the year 2002, our music had become the primary focus of our days and weeks, and even years. Our young family—married less than five years, with boys aged nearly-three and almost-one—we had begun to accept invitations to share our music with people around the entire country. Weeks and months were spent on the road performing the songs I had written previously, as well as leading groups of Christians in worship music composed by others. This often led to more songs being written by me (including some more worship songs to lead more people in singing) and it eventually led us to produce another album-full of these songs in recorded form.

That summer we had spent a few weeks in the studio, after a few weeks in various practice locations, after a few years of crafting and “learning” the songs ourselves. The culmination of these weeks produced our third full-length studio album: Come As You Are. And on August 29th, at Crosswinds Wesleyan Church in Canandaigua, NY, with our friend Paul Robert Jones opening the evening by performing some of his own music, we celebrated the finished work of this album with a hundred or two of our friends. It was a great, fun, memorable night.

Through the years, the songs we recorded that summer have spread across the globe. The CDs and cassettes have made their way through postal services, and carried by hands to far away lands. They have been downloaded to computers and other digital music devices. And they have impacted hearts and minds and lives with the message from our Father: come as you are, not who you will be; it’s rough from the start, you might think you are beat. But it’s not the righteous I want, for I came to seek and save the lost. Just come to me!

The song—the whole album—was a collection of the words God spoke (even still speaks) to me. His invitation to a broken soul, well aware of his inabilities and shortcomings and failures, to a life of freedom with him. Free to be my broken self. Free to hope for better, to know he accepts me and wants to show me, lead me to the Life that I’m meant to have with him—in him.

We listened to it again tonight. Most of my kids and I. (Mom and oldest daughter were off sorting clothing for a community clothing give-away, and scoring some that would also help our family.) We listened, and sang. I told stories from the recording days. I thought through the words. I think they did the same.

The message still resounds in my heart. All of these songs. I want to know you better Lord. I want nothing less, nothing more.1 And, I don’t want this to end here; my life for you just in a song. Please change my heart, Lord, and let me words speak for you. I give my life to you.2 And, songs like The Mountain To The Sea, and My Visible, See-Through Friend, and Because… all of them, really. All reminding me of my life, found in him.

If you’ve not heard the album, you can listen to all the songs here. Or, we’re on Spotify. And iTunes. And Amazon. You’ll find us out there. I would love for you to hear the whole thing. All the better if you can find a quiet time to listen to not just my voice, and Jen’s voice… but the voice of The One who made you, loves you, and invites you:

Come as you are.

  1. The One – basic – Come As You Are
  2. Heart Of Mine” – basic – Come As You Are

No Guarantees

My Taylor GuitarToday is a musical post.

In a former life, I was a musician. It’s true! I broke out the recording gear for this song, and when my youngest two children discovered its presence in my office they were pleasantly astounded. I confessed to them that their mom & dad used to be something akin to rockstars. This made them giggle and smile even more. They’re fun.

This type of post will be rare here. I just recently rediscovered this song, penned last October, and really wanted to share it here. The audio is just me and a guitar (with a tiny bit of reverb in GarageBand) … but it should help get the point across.

Enjoy.

No Guarantees

©2012 Greg Campbell

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There are no guarantees in this world

We can not manipulate it
Though we often try to fake it

We are not the ones who made it
But maybe we made it …This way

Don’t try to anticipate it
We never see clearly up ahead

Today has enough trouble of its own
No need to add on tomorrow’s or yesterday’s
We have no guarantee of our next breath
Let alone a day, let alone a day

We have no guarantee that we’ll not know pain
It’s almost certainty that there’ll be some today

It seems my dreams nev’r come true

The more I hope for it, seems
The less hope there is

I see everything so clearly
But clearly, I just can’t see

Why things go so poorly
What have you got against me?

I may fail at everything, and I may never be loved
My life may crumble around me … there are no guarantees


To listen to and purchase Greg & Jen’s music, please visit http://basicmusic.bandcamp.com.

Well-Seasoned

Taylor Guitar - 314ceThese days most of my music making happens whenever the youngest pay me a visit in my office. My guitar is out on its stand, ready for any action it might be required to perform. Most times it just sits there—looking great—but on occasion it will get a little exercise.

Something I have been noticing recently when I pick up my guitar to play a song for my eager visitors (or even for myself every now and again) is that my feel is different. The way I communicate through the sounds and rhythms of the instrument feels different. At least it does to me.

Then today I think I finally had words for this different feeling: aged.

Not aged as in “old” or, “over the hill”. (I’m not yet forty… isn’t that the crest of the hill?) It’s more of a sense of all the life I’ve experienced being added to these songs, both familiar and brand new. An abiding depth that was not there before seems to inhabit the words, and even the way that I phrase and sing them. At least to my ears there is a noticeable difference.

I think this is how it’s meant to be.

I’m still a young pup. Yes, I know that I have a son who is fourteen (and a half) … and I know that I have been married for fifteen (working on sixteen) years to my beautiful wife … and I know that I’m remembering events in my life—significant events to me—that I am now three decades removed from …

But I’m also considerably younger than the Buffalo Bills’ coaching and front office staff, who are supposedly ridiculously young. I’m younger by half a dozen years than the youngest man ever to assume the office of President of our United States. I’m not even a grandpa yet!

Age, as far as years is certainly relative.

But with those years come experiences. Events of our own doing, caused by our own actions and inactions, as well as events that happen to us. The only constant through them all is that Jesus is with us. And as life happens all around us, no matter how I or the rest of the world sees it… it happens. It often feels like an immovable, unchangeable force, but through it all, he is with me. So each step of the way, I learn more of who he is, and how he sees me; and so I learn more of who I really am. I become more of who I really am.

That’s the journey. That’s the aging process. There’s no predicable timetable. We all ripen at a different pace. Somehow the Master Gardener knows the perfect pace for each of us, and he’s even patient enough to wait for us (I think) when we slow down the pace—even by our own rushing ahead.

However it happens… we do age.

I thought of the word “vintage” today, until a bit of research led me to a better understanding of that term. We use it to refer to “older” things, particularly wine. But it really means that the grapes were all harvested in a certain year. So, a bottle of wine with a certain percentage (varies per country) of grapes from the year 2013 would be a “2013 vintage”.

Interesting…

So I landed on another word: Seasoned.

This is perfect. Seasoned. First, it brings up the images of well-seasoned food. Herbs and spices add flavor to most anything, and the right combinations also bring out the natural flavors. I love to season food. I like spicy food, yes, but I love seasoned, flavorful food. Muy sabroso!

Then there are the seasons. Seasons of life. I’ve mentioned this here before, how the seasons of life are so important. As is understanding that they are seasons, and not permanent. Good or bad.

To think of our lives as becoming “seasoned” over the years seems just about right. Not only are we slowly being flavored by the Master Chef—umm… not that he’s planning to eat us, or anything… just working on his masterpiece—we are being shaped and “seasoned” by all of the various events—seasons—of our lives.

And we are different. Changed. Seasoned.

Better.

Not every season is enjoyable. But as long as we’re here, being seasoned… it happened. It is part of your story. Your seasoning.

My seasoning.

I can think of many of the events that have seasoned me since I was a full-time, traveling musician. I remember the events of the years before that, and during that time, when I was writing the songs that we sang. I know what went into those songs then … and I know why they sound different now. But I would guess that there is even more that I’m not fully aware of.

I’m not the chef. I don’t know all that’s being added to this masterpiece.

And I don’t need to.

I just get to enjoy the seasoning, and see evidences of it in how I see things, and the things I say, and how I sing my songs.

I don’t know for sure that it’s better… that’s for someone else to decide. To me it sounds and feels “better”, but not just in a performance metric sort of way. It feels more seasoned. It really does!

And without a doubt, I’m convinced that seasoned, is better.

So at age thirty-eight, I think I’m noticing that I’m becoming more well-seasoned. And I’ve only just begun? Imagine if God and life continue to season me for another four or five decades… or more?

Wow, am I gonna taste good!

Life is a long process. The process is seasoning you to perfection.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.—Eph 2:10

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.—Phil 1:6

Beautifully Stained

stainingI wrote a new song recently. Actually, I wrote two. (That was quite odd. Two in one day was a new experience for me.)

To be fair, these songs are not actually yet fully complete. I’m certain that I will tweak them musically as well we lyrically. But for the most part, two near-complete songs were birthed within the span of only a couple hours.

Even more special was the fact that one of the songs reminded me very much of a musician friend of mine, so I sent him the lyric to that song as well as a rough recording (because the melody was partly what reminded me of him), and he responded a while later just to let me know that the email and the song were sent at just the right time—a gift from God to him that day.

Very cool.

After I wrote that first song and sent it to my friend, Paul, I was listening to music and felt an overwhelming overwhelm-ment. (That should be a word, especially with the double Ms…) It was an amazing experience, actually. Quite literally moved by the music that, honestly, wasn’t even that good! 🙂

So I took that as a sign that it was time to play some more music.

And play I did.

Instantly out came another song. This one much more “my” style and feel. And the words were very personal; very meaningful to me. They may not be as much to another reader/listener, but I do believe the picture painted by the words of the chorus—and title of the song—illustrate well the reality of this life: it’s a beautiful mess.

Stains are bad. But stain is also good. (My dad makes beautifully stained furniture.)

Life is full of stains (those are bad) … but the sum of them often creates a beautiful piece of long-lasting, heirloom furniture.

We are beautifully stained—by our Maker, and by life.

A short post today… (and sorry, no music just yet!)

I present, Beautifully Stained

Beautifully Stained

It was the moment you heard the news
The one you’d hoped for was gone
You would never be the same
No matter what would come

It was the moment you saw her face
Something inside you bloomed
This deep assurance within your soul
That she was made for you

These are the moments …

chorus
Live every moment
Embrace both the joy and the pain
Breathe deep and let it all in
Life fully lived is beautifully stained

It was the moment she took her first breath
And when he played his guitar
Happy hearts sang out laughing at play
Togetherness in the air

It was the moment the pain gripped her face
Another tough day with you
Angry tongues loosed their wearied fury
Nothing now you could do

These are the moments …


©2012 Greg Campbell

basicmm radio :: [Faith To Be My Eyes]

I mentioned here earlier that we re-discovered our “basicmm radio” podcast from 2005. One show in particular that I thought might be encouraging to “re-broadcast” featured the song Faith To Be My Eyes.


Have you ever noticed that there are often patterns to life? There appear to be threads of thoughts, themes that weave consistently (if not obviously) through the fabric that is formed by our days.

One of mine is the illusion of control.

I’ve written several times about it here on this website. (This coming Saturday’s From The Archive post will be one selection from that significant number of published articles.)

It’s something I’ve thought about often, talked about with others, written songs about, and as I said, seems to be a consistent theme of revelation that God either has shown, or maybe wants to show me. (Sometimes it feels like if a specific idea or truth is recurrent past a certain understandable number of times that maybe the repetition is a result of one’s own thick skull, no?)

The more life throws at me as I quickly approach my fourth completed decade of life on this planet, the more it is so painfully (literally) obvious to me that we… are… not… in… control.

We’re just not.

We’ve seen it in our own life this past year or more. I’ve seen it. Jen has seen it. Our kids even know it. Certainly our friends know; so many tragic stories around us in the past year and more.

We are not in control.

And so, not knowing what is ahead, we rely on one who has been there, and will be there, and will go through whatever may come with us, beside us, and supporting us. He is for us, so what can be against us? We know these truths. And they make a difference.

But too often we get clouded. By “reality”, or what we perceive as reality. We are tricked by the illusion that our life is meant to be free of pain; free of the bad stuff that happens to other people. We are sometimes even fooled (in my opinion) into thinking that when things start “going against us” that there must be some reason—in particular, something that we have done wrong, or some good thing we did not do—and so, God (or the natural consequences he set in place) is enacting his just punishment (we call it “chastisement” or “discipline”) on us.

Long, perhaps run-on sentence aside, that is how it often goes. We use any other eye but our “eyes of faith” to interpret the world around us. What we really need to do is stand firm on the foundation of God’s clear, undeniable acceptance and deep love for us. His willingness to literally do whatever it took to restore our friendship with him. Even better, to adopt us as his sons and daughters. This gave him great pleasure.

With that as our focus, our lives look (and feel) very different. (And differently, if we’re going for proper grammar regarding the parenthetical addition—I think.)

The point of this post is the song (and even the whole episode of the basicmm radio podcast). I hope that it’s an encouragement to you today. There is more to life. Or if you need it to be less, it can be less. The hope that we have is the foundation of his truth, his love.

May you know that today, no matter how hard your day has been—or will be. We will never be without pain, until we are with him in paradise. Things will go wrong. People will betray us. Life will punch us in the gut.

But he is with us. He is for us.

I need Faith To Be My Eyes.

Faith To Be My Eyes (2003)

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Why is it that I can trust you
When I’ve got my ducks in a row?
But when anything goes against me
I wonder why you never showed

What is this right to perfection
That I feel my life must deserve?
When my life gets a little harder
I wonder where I made the wrong turn

chorus
I need to keep my eyes wide open
And know that you never change
Don’t let my worrying heart take over
I need my faith to be my eyes

We have this misconception
That bad things mean something’s wrong
But I have learned from example
That you can turn bad into good
This pain is just temporary
Though right now it overwhelms me
Please train my eyes to focus
On your faithfulness to me

bridge
Walk by faith, and not by sight
We’ve heard those words before tonight’
But when our world is fallin in on us
That’s when they really can take flight’

Keep my eyes off circumstances
And let me focus in on you
My worryin heart is prone to dancin
With every new point of view
But every new day is full of chances
To rip off the blinders and gaze into
The world of faith that can be before me
Knowing that you always come through

Keep my eyes on you – – – I need my faith to be my eyes


Words & Music by: Greg Campbell
Copyright © 2003 basic music ministries.


For further reading, please read Ephesians (especially chapter one), as well as Romans (especially chapters five and eight), and even second Corinthians five, and Hebrews (particularly chapters eleven and twelve). Those are referenced above, and the original is always better!

SCC25: Steven Curtis Chapman Celebrating 25 Years of Music {video}

Steven Curtis Chapman is definitely one of my favorite song writers/musicians. There is something in his music, and the way he says things that I really connect with. More than any other musician I can think of. I’ve written about this many times, including here.

Well apparently 2012 marks 25 years of making music for him. (Publicly/professionally speaking, I’m sure.) That’s a lot! We’re coming up on 17 years, but I dare say he’s been a tad more prolific in his musical output!

Starting a week ago or so, he’s planning to do a weekly video for 25 of his most-loved songs. (I think “most-loved” by people who like his music, but it could be most-loved by him, too?) The videos are six or seven minutes long and feature the story behind the song and a live, acoustic version of the song. The first video (above) was the song Speechless and it was a beautiful version of the song. Somehow when there’s just a guitar and a voice, there’s more room for the words to work their artistry. (As well as an amazingly rich-sounding guitar, played masterfully!)

A super funny sidebar here is that I recently thought of doing a very similar thing with our music! While driving in the van with the kids recently, we “re-discovered” our old basicmm radio podcast (which, is still online, believe it or not!) and I thought it might be something we should start doing again. The shows we recorded were nice reminders of some truth that God showed us in writing or performing the songs, and since we don’t get out to sing very much these kid-raising days, that might be a way that we could still encourage, inspire, and share the Life in us with others. Stay tuned there…

As for this post, just a short one today. I hope you’ll take some of the time saved and listen to the two videos he has already posted. It looks like he’ll be posting them on Wednesdays, and you may be able to view the latest one using this link. (But, I’m not sure.)

I really enjoyed them, and think you might, too.

SCC Twenty Five

January 11th, 2012 – Speechless
January 18th, 2012 – King of the Jungle


Update: I found the landing page for this series, and it says the updates are published 2 or 3 times a month, on Thursdays.