Video Selection: Be Still MY Soul/What A Freind We Have in Jesus- Selah

Be Still My Soul/What A Friend We Have in Jesus


Be still, my soul: The Lord is on your side.

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;

Leave to thy God to order and provide;

In every change He faithful will remain

Be still, my soul: Thy best, Thy heavenly friend

Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul:

The waves and winds still know (still know)

His voice who ruled them

While He dwelt below

Musical interlude:

Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Be still my soul.

Poetry: Recessional by Rudyard Kipling’s


Rudyard Kipling

God of our fathers, known of old– 
Lord of our far-flung battle line
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
   Dominion over palm and pine–
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
   The captains and the kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
   An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away;
   On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
   Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
   Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe–
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
   Or lesser breeds without the law–
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
   In reeking tube and iron shard–
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
   And guarding, calls not Thee to guard–
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord!

Blog author’s note:  It is worth noting that Rudyard Kipling is a noted freemason. Yet, this particular poem fits truth and some things God is pointing me toward, so felt worth republishing this poem. Do not take the publication of this poem on the blog to point to his other poems and writing as being inspired by God. This poem is worth further study and contemplation.


Learning from the death of Ben Larson

Well today learned more about seminarian Ben Larson, who God called home in Haiti.   The ELCA News Service posted an article on Ben and reported information from his wife Renee about Ben’s death. The article can be found at: He Spent His Last Breath Singing: Wife, Cousin Remember ELCA’s Ben Larson – News Releases – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The touching thing about the article was Ben’s behavior and attitude at the time of his death.  He was seperated from his wife and cousin.  He was clinging to a beam as the building began caving down on them.  In the midst of it all, he was singing.  The article reports that he had a sang the  words “God’s peace to us we  pray.”   Ben was singing praise to God, looking for His wholeness in the face of impending death.  He represented an attitude focused on God and his love and in the midst of immense crisis and face of impending death.  He focused on God, being separated from the wife he loved.  His death reflected God’s peace. 

Another important consideration in examining Ben Larson’s death was that he was true to how God created him and used his gifts up till the end.  He was created with musical talents and the ability to communicate God’s message in words.  He was serving others, building them up in understanding of growing in God.  He invested in God’s kingdom over.  He didn’t hold back, he did not just use what other people created. He actively used what God gave him and used those gifts to touch others with God’s love.  He did leave a little bit of his work behind on the internet.  He left seven songs published on a Myspace page including a worship song based on Psalms 30 . 

There is more information posted about who Ben  Larson was at his churches website:  When you go to the church website, he hear Ben Larson singing varied songs, as they are playing four of his songs.  They also have a link to his obituary.   His obituary ends with a verse: I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will praise my God while I have my being. Psalm 104:31-33. As someone who only learned of Ben Larson due his death in Haiti, the little learned on the internet is that the verse sums up the man God created in Ben Larson.  He lived out the verse  till the end of His being in this life as he passed on to the next.  Personally, I hope and pray that what Ben has created becomes circulated amidst the church body as a whole, if his family and friends are able to find away.  In the meantime, take time to listen to what he has left and examine yourself to see if you are truly walking out and using what God has given you.   

As for Ben’s family and friends, may his Psalm 30 song echo in your hearts and mind and may God truly turn your mourning into dancing.  He clearly was a blessing and my life in enriched for learning of His love for God even unto death.  In fact, right now the thought that comes to mind is “Yet though he slay me, still I will praise him.” Ben did.  May the same be found true of us all.  


Amos Story Video by Aaron Ivey Band: An adoptive father’s longing for His children

Just learned of this Video from Troy Livesay as he shared it on his Facebook status.   I learned a little bit of the background of this song at the blog Gentrified. Apparently the song of this video was inspired by Aaron’s longing and wait for his two adoptive children from Haiti, Amos and Story.  The author of the aforementioned blog said the following:

The song expresses the desires of a father who would give anything to be with his children, it is the perfect expression of parents who go through the adoption process, which transfers a child from their current identity, and gives them a new identity inside of a new family. It’s permanent so the child is not simply an outside addition, but seen as the completion of the incomplete family without them.

Please watch the video and let it touch your heart. Please remember that for all the orphans who have been given a home, the earthquake has created countless more. 

My reaction to the video is the same as that of the author of the blog Gentrified.   The longing of connection is clear.  It is a clear picture even of God’s desire to take us from being lost in darkness into His Kingdom.  Not only that, God desires to commune with us and when we are lost and even turned away, He seeks us out and does not give up.  God longs for relationship with us. God wants reconciliation.  God provided a way out of darkness and Chaos into light, love, and wholeness.

Video Selection: One as Come- Livesay 2009 Christmas Video

This was shared on the Livesay blog as being brought to mind as important for this time.  Note the parents and children are now seperated.  May the video touch you.

Musing on Davey and Goliath

On January 9th, 2010 the creator, Art Clokey, of the television show “Davey and Goliath” died in his sleep. The show was developed and sponsored by the Lutheran Church of America, which eventually became the ELCA. The show was a positive show that taught children morals. As a child it was one of the television shows that looked forward to watching and felt it was a Christian television show. In retrospect, the show displayed and taught Christian moral values but did little real pointing to Jesus. Recently the characters have been used in marketing. In addition there was a program on the Hallmark channel in 2004 called the snowboard Christmas, that emphasized an ecumenical, there are many paths, view point of religion and faith.

The show is probably like how many people approach Christianity in the culture. The focus can often be on what are the right moral things to do. Stand against homosexuality and abortion. Give to charities and churches. Treat others as equal. Love others. These can all be good things. But without the core of pointing to Jesus, it all lacks. As the body of Christ and those bringing the light of the Gospel to the world, do we settle for the exterior moral behaviors and miss pointing to the Gospel with love? In making a broad appeal to the world at large, is the center truth ignored with the hope that someone will let them know sometime? Is there compromise with the world so strong that the Gospel gets set aside and false messages such as the message of “multiple paths” and “what believe does not matter” become taught and embraced? Christians are called to be both salt and light. It means always pointing to the truth, which is Jesus.

Looking back, Davey and Goliath was a show in my mind that was one of the few that pointed to truth. Looking back, it stood for true moral behavior, but the elements of the Gospel were limited. Question is does media today that would fall into the same footsteps? Compromising truth by focusing on morals and externals verses the matters of the Gospel and need for salvation in Jesus. The time is both here and coming where people who profess the Gospel and claim to follow Jesus will fall away and reject the truth for something else. Perhaps some of that deception comes from focusing on the externals rather than the matters of the heart.

Video Selections: You Gotta Tell Somebody- Don Franscico

This is a video  of  Don Fransico signing his song written from Jairus’s perspective related to looking to have Jesus heal his daughter, instead he raised her from death.  In viewing and listening to the song lots of think about.  Do we limit God?  Does we only praise God when victory is acheived?   How deep is our faith?  Do we truly believe that with God all things are possible?    Do testify to God’s working in our life?   How would you react if you were a mouner? 

Gotta tell Somebody – Don Francisco

She kept on getting weaker as day dragged into day
The doctors gave no hope for her; she seemed to fade away
My hours were filled with constant dread; time became a knife
That slowly and relentlessly cut the cord of life

There was a teacher in the region then some of us had heard
That He’d healed the paralytic by the power of just His Word
So with hope again rekindled I went at once to see
If I could find a man named Jesus from a town in Galilee

I began to search the city and soon I saw the crowd
They were pressing in to touch Him and they called His Name out loud
But with the strength of desperation I pushed them all aside
I through myself before Him and from my knees I cried

“Lord, come and heal my daughter, even now she’s close to death
Her fever’s uncontrollable, she fights for every breath
But God’s given You the power; life is Yours to give
If you’ll just lay Your hands on her I know that she will live”
(She will live, she will live)

Well, He’d just begun to go with me when a face I saw with fear
Came towards me with the news I knew I didn’t want to hear
And although I tried to steel myself I trembled when he said
“Why bother the Teacher anymore, your little girl is dead.”

Then Jesus touched my shoulder and He told me not to grieve
The trembling stopped when He looked at me and said, “Only believe”
Then He sent the crowds away except His closest men
And they followed right behind us as we started off again

But we were still a long ways down the road when I heard the sounds and cries
Of the mourners and musicians as they strove to dramatize
My grief they had no business with beneath their loud disguise
My wife just sat there silently and stared through empty eyes

Then Jesus asked the mourners, “Why is it that you weep?
She isn’t dead as you suppose, the child is just asleep.”
It only took a moment for their wails to turn to jeers
“Who does this man think he is? Get him out of here!”

With authority I’ve never heard in the lips of any man
He spoke and every sound rolled out with the thunder of command
And in the sudden silence they all hurried for the door
Wondering what the reasons were they’d ever come there for

Then He called his three disciples that were with Him on the way
He led them and my wife and me to where our daughter lay
He took her by the hand; He told her “Child, arise”
And the words were barely spoken when she opened up her eyes

She rose and walked across the room and stood there at our sides
My wife knelt down and held her close and at last she really cried
And then Jesus told us both to see that our daughter had some food
But as to how her life was saved, not to speak a word…
Not to speak a word…

I got to tell somebody
I got to tell somebody
I got to tell somebody
I got to tell somebody
I got to tell somebody, got to tell somebody, what Jesus did for me
I got to tell somebody, got to tell somebody, what Jesus did for me
I got to tell somebody, got to tell somebody, what Jesus did for me
I got to tell somebody, got to tell somebody, what Jesus did for me

Guest Movie Commentary: Avatar and Paganism by Andrew Strom

‘AVATAR’ and PAGANISM – Movie Review
-by Andrew Strom.

‘Avatar’ is an enormous worldwide blockbuster movie – the first to
use truly lifelike 3D – a huge leap forward that is sure to revolutionize
the entire industry. I managed to see the movie in 3D this week,
and like everyone I was utterly wowed by the lifelike 3D images
and special effects. But there were some things about the film
that truly disturbed me.

Maybe we should expect spiritual outrageousness from Hollywood
by now. After all, they hardly seem to be able to make a spiritual
statement in their movies without alienating every Christian in
the audience. (They have been warned about this before. As
Michael Medved has stated, Hollywood loses billions of dollars
simply by offending Christians and church-goers – who number in
the hundreds of millions in America). They often don’t seem to care.

But Avatar takes this to a new extreme. Many critics have
commented that it has a deeply pro-environmentalist message.
And indeed, it seems almost loaded with every touchy-feely New
Age environmentalist theme that you can imagine. Some critics
are calling it “Dances With Wolves in space.” But it sure does
look amazing – in fact, stunningly real. It truly is a work of art.

The futuristic story revolves around an ex-marine posted to a planet
with rich mining deposits – who has to inhabit an alien “avatar”
body so he can infiltrate the local tribe that opposes the mining.
Thus he becomes one of these blue-colored humanoids.

Though the film’s images are stunning audiences worldwide, the
spirituality in it is at the far extreme of New Age. And it is not
“subtle” either. It is a huge part of the story. More and more you
see the “Gaia”-type ‘Earth-goddess’ stuff – plus pagan or wicca-like
rituals – until half the film seems almost saturated with them.

As I said, most people have grown to expect this stuff from
politically-correct and spiritually-weird Hollywood by now. But we
are talking here about the most expensive ($300 million) and most
revolutionary new film in history. Surely they have to be concerned
that preaching such a message may lose them hundreds of
millions of dollars in potential revenue? Apparently not.

It always strikes me as sad when these great breakthroughs in
the arts fail to glorify the One who gave us creativity in the first
place. And sadly, this is one of those times. And I guess that is
why, even after the awe and wonder of seeing one of the greatest
visual spectacles of our age, I left the theatre feeling pretty flat.
And I wonder how many others felt the same – even non-Christians.
I wonder how many left sensing there was something very wrong
at the core of this story. I would guess it might be quite a few.
(There have been a lot of complaints about the storyline). Even
many non-Christians may not like seeing the “Earth mother
goddess” getting all the glory. Which is why I think this movie will
never take top spot as the most-watched film in history – despite
all the money spent on it. And also why I think the sequel will
never earn the kind of money that they hope for.

Will Hollywood learn its lesson? I strongly doubt it.

Send feedback to –

God bless you all.

Andrew Strom.

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Video Selections: Christmas Shoes by Newsong

Just recently learned of Newsong’s Christmas Shoes song.  The song was released on the Album: Sheltering Tree in 200 and reportedly influenced by a story that had been circulating on the internet.  In 2002 CBS made the story into a movie and Donna VanLeire wrote a novel based on the story. The story has touched many over the years. It is not really known if the story is real or fictional.  Yet, whether the story is simply parable or really occurred, the message is still powerful.

It is interesting that I had not really run across this video or the song before, but have this year.  This year my brother, his wife, and child are having a difficult time as the mother of my brother’s wife is dying and is due to die any day now.  The contents of the song also seem related to the giving challenge God led me to issue. The challenge was to give in such a way to build up others, reflecting God’s love.  So please take time to watch this video and pass it on to others. Maybe you have seen or heard the song before. Maybe you saw the movie or read the book. Maybe you received the initial internet story.  Maybe like me this is the first you are aware of the story.  Regardless, take time to watch the video and let God speak to you.

The words/story:

It is almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line tryin’ to buy that last gift or two not really in the Christmas mood. Standing right in front of me, was a little boy waiting anxiously pacing round like little boys do. And in his hand he held a pair of shoes. His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe and when it came his time to pay I couldn’t believe what I heard him say
“Sir, I want to by these shoes, for my mama, please it’s Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size. Could you hurry, sir Daddy said there’s not much time you see Moma’s been sick for quite awhile and I know these shoes would make her smile and I want her to look beautiful, If Mamma meets Jesus tonight”
He counted pennies for what seemed like years. Then the cashier said, “son, there’s not enough here.” He searched his pockets frantically then he turned and he looked at me. He said, “Mama always made Christmas good at our house through most years she did without. Tell me sir what am I going to do somehow I’ve got to buy these Christmas shoes.” I just had to help him out, and as I laid the money down I never forgot the look on his face when he said, “Mama’s gonna look so great”
I knew I’d caught a glimpse of heaven’s love as he thanked me and ran out. I know that God had sent that little boy my way to remind me just what Christmas is all about.


FYI: The CBS movie can be viewed online here:  You will need to download the DIVX movie player to view it tough.

BOOK REVIEW- Primal: A quest for the lost soul of Christianity by Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson's Primal

Mark Batterson is an author I recently became acquainted with the author via his blog: I had run across an article I found helpful and reprinted it on the blog:  As an author he seemed to be tuning into things God has been working and moving in me and as such challenging my growth in my relationship with God.

So given that initial introduction via Facebook and his blog I learned of an opportunity to review is upcoming book: Primal.  The books are read are carefully picked these days and done with the leading of the Holy Spirit. There is plenty of information and thoughts in the world at large but felt a leading to read this book and embraced the opportunity to discuss my impressions of the book on this blog site.  In discussing my impression of the book the discussion will involve examining the overall writing style of the book, the content of the book, and the personal impact of reading the material.  After examining the book I will add in my overall recommendations regarding the book.

The Writing:

As an author Mark Batterson is an excellent communicator.  He does a good job of communicating his points in an accessible manner that can be easily understood and digested.  Mark is able to take you into his perspective and teach what he has to offer.  Mark writes with a clear organization structure and the writing flows from one topic to the next easily.  As an author Mark is able to take you through a process and lead you to the summary conclusion in a seamless and succinct manner. 

The biggest strength Mark Batterson displays as an author is that of being able to use symbols that give fuller meaning and detail to the point he is making.  He is able to use symbolic images that illustrate adeptly the theological points he is making and give what he is teaching greater depth.

Another factor that is evident in the writing of the book is a deep genuineness. Mark writes in a way that is open and shares himself and his relationship with God. When reading the book, there is a feeling of joining in with the journey God brought Mark Batterson through in coming to the thoughts and the conclusions the book examines.

There is one issue though with Mark’s writing. Sometimes in what he shared it seemed he has repeated points he made elsewhere. Some of that may stem from the fact of having recently read his book Wild Goose Chase and have visited his blog several times upon discovery of his writing. So when an example is read that is similar to one read previously it just seems repetitive. Part of that is when you have got a powerful symbol that makes the point it is difficult not to keep using the symbol or try and find another symbol to say the same thing. It however can be frustrating to a reader to come to a point and feel like you had heard that point already.

Overall the writing in the book does excellent job of teaching the information presented in an accessible way that provides both depth and ease of understanding.

The Content:

The content in primal is that of primal importance.  The book content really does a profound job of describing genuine response to God’s revealed reality.  In other words, the book expounds on what it is to worship in truth. The content of the book really builds off of the points made in this article/sermon:

The book Primal in essence expounds upon the greatest commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Mark views heart, soul, mind, and strength as being four ways we move in love.  Mark connects heart with compassion, soul with wonder, mind with curiosity, and power with energy.  He then goes on to explain the meaning of those four areas. 

Mark Batterson does a good job at describing each area that gives a solid introduction to the concepts that also leaves the reader challenge to grow, explore and find out more.  The book cannot be read without being challenged to grow in compassion, wonder, curiosity, and energy. Even more, it challenges the reader to fully depend on God, as the true move in each dimension comes not from self but dependence on God. 

The content of the book though is not simply about explaining what it means to respond to God in those four areas of love, it is also a call to change and action.  It is call to others to move into loving God which requires action. He sums up the call to action of love in two words derived from Latin: Amo Dei. Meaning: Love God.

Personal Impact:

Personally the book was very complimentary to what God has been teaching and showing me. The connection with the examination of worship is spirit and truth has already been made. Yet I must admit that upon reading Mark’s perspective on the greatest commandment initially there was some struggle.  The first thought in my mind is that those four areas are not just ways we respond in love but the four aspects of self.  God though took those thoughts and through Mark’s writing enlarged them to a deeper understanding with Mark’s perspective added onto what I already had come to an understanding of.  So the book challenged me to move beyond my own understanding and look at the same concepts from a different perspective.  Ultimately Mark’s perspective expanded my understanding of moving in genuine response to God’s revealed reality.

The second impact was that the book challenged me to self-examination and growth.  The material in the book pushes the reader to really take a good look at the level in each dimension where operating in loving God, or settling for matters of gratifying self.  A personal reflective look results in knowing that there is a lot more growth needed in loving God and loving God well.  There is still a lot of self that dominates and gets in the way.  My heart, soul, mind, and strength are not as fully engulfed in loving God as they should.  Yet, it also leaves with knowledge that when I genuinely respond to God’s revealed reality and the initiative God takes in my live, the more I grow in ability to love not only God but others as well.

One other reaction to the book was that in each area of description it seemed that Mark only scratch the surface of meaning. It felt like taking a walk in the shallow end of the four dimensions examined by Mark.  There was a distinct desire to delve more deeply in understanding of each level. 

The true personal impact of the words written by Mark Batterson as God uses them in my life remains yet to be seen.  The book serves a good introduction at loving God completely and growing in genuine response to God with compassion, wonder, curiosity and strength that transcends self.  The book ends with a call to “Reformation” that brings the result of living Amo Dei. Living in such a way that loving God is greater than loving life. 


If you want to start off the New Year with a book that will challenge you to change and growth, start off with reading Primal.  Of course it helps that the book is scheduled to be released on January 1st, 2010. The book is definitely worth adding to your library.

The book is well written and does a good job of teaching the importance and essence of following the greatest commandment, loving God totally.  The reader will not be unchanged in examining the content as God speaks in the words Mark uses to examine all aspects of loving God. The book will leave you with a call to action to move in greater measure of loving God.   

It is a book that can certainly be used in any church congregation or small group as well. The book can serves as a good discipleship tool in teaching others what it is to live out loving God.  For Pastors who like to use books in conjunction with sermon series, the material in this book provides rich ground for even further exposition.   The book is written in such a way that the material can be used in a small group format along with questions and interactions that could result in a powerful small group learning experience.   It will be interesting to see how God uses the book to touch the lives of others and people reconnect with the primal meaning of loving God fully.

My final recommendation is regardless of whether or not you read the book or use it as part of a small group community or church ministry you should take time to learn how to love God deeply.  I support strongly the call to live Amo Dei. You do not need to read Primal in order to grow in your genuine response to God’s love, you can do so simply responding genuinely to what God has done, but the book will give you a good foundation and framework that can facilitate growth in loving God.

Places you can purchase Primal: Amazon, Random House, Barnes and Noble, Christian Book Distrubutors.