Music Monday: Lead Me On by Amy Grant

As a music lover, there are plenty of albums that speak to me in one way or another. However, over the course of my life there have been a precious few albums that have impacted my in so many ways…musically, creatively, spiritually…as Amy Grant’s Lead Me On.

My crush on Amy Grant began six years before Lead Me On was released. She became a truly big name in the Christian music world with the release of 1982’s Age To Age, and she continued to rise to prominence. It had been three long years since her last full release, Unguarded, and two years since her greatest hits collection, so by 1988 Amy’s fans were ready for something new.

With Lead Me On, Amy Grant’s camp promised a more mature record than anything she had released before, and that’s what she delivered. The mid-80’s pop/rock style of Unguarded was backed off in favor of moodier, more acoustic textures. Flourishes of folk and country made their way on the album, and the songcraft was more ambitious.

That’s to say nothing of the subject matter of the record. Rather than rely on the sunny, everything’s-okay platitudes of most Christian music, Lead Me On reflected a more honest view of life, even for a believer in Jesus. The songs on the record dealt with injustice, marital issues, temptation, and the fears of modern living. For this impressionable 15-year-old in the summer of 1988, Lead Me On offered what really seemed like a balanced view of what life is truly like. Most Christian music didn’t even come close to the scope and scale of this album.

Twenty-three years later, Lead Me On still sounds amazing. Very little of the album sounds dated, and the themes on the record resonate today (possibly more now for me than they did back then). Lead Me On was a high creative watermark in Amy Grant’s career, and it was rewarded with a Grammy. Not too many years ago, the now-defunct CCM magazine ranked it as the best Christian album of all time. That’s no exaggeration whatsoever. Lead Me On is absolutely one of the greatest, most influential albums for me, and it’s one that sounds powerful and special every time I give it a listen.

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A Return To Routine After A Strange Week

It’s so nice to get back to what I can only hope to be a normal day tomorrow. This past week was pretty surreal, and it honestly stretched to about nine days, from last Sunday through today. It’s been a most unusual stretch of days.

Of course, the craziness started last Sunday with the threat of winter weather. Add to that my grandmother’s stroke that evening just as the snow began to fall. It definitely didn’t help to have the snow and ice that kept the whole family inside for pretty much all of five days (with occasional trips out). My sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and I all camped out at my parents’ house all week to save on heating and having to walk up and down the hill.

Then Hadley (my 19 month old niece) burned her hand on my parents’ pellet stove Tuesday night, causing an anguished, painful night for her. She got up Wednesday morning, and hit the ground running, not missing a beat, despite blisters, and later a big bandage on her hand. My sister and mom were able to take her to the doctor on Thursday morning. Continue reading A Return To Routine After A Strange Week

A Prayer Request

Please pray for my grandmother. My grandfather called my mom this evening and said they were taking her to the hospital with possible stroke symptoms. Pray also for my whole family, especially my grandfather, mom, and aunts.

Thank you.

UPDATE: She did have a stroke. Needless to say, there’s a long road ahead. Thanks again for prayers, and please keep praying!

What God Has Done…

Yesterday, at the end of our staff meeting, we took time as a staff to list the things that we’ve seen God do in our ministries and at Eastridge as a whole. Everybody had something to say, and before long we had filled up a whiteboard with praised to spare! God has been faithful and has taken care of us for sure…

Here are just a few of the things we’ve noticed that God has done here:

  • Opened dialogue between parents and their kids.
  • Started a culture of leadership among our students.
  • Given us a system to track people and their decisions.
  • Provided for us financially.
  • Brought us a lot of first time visitors.
  • Brought large numbers of people who have accepted Christ and recommitted their lives.
  • Blessed us with unity as a staff.
  • Increased our level of communication.
  • Given us some great elders who are active and who care.
  • Established a culture of genuine worship.
  • Increased our level of creativity.
  • Allowed us to enjoy His favor.
  • Shown us that if we’re faithful to Him, He’ll take care of us.

…and there are many more ways that He has blessed us. I think that sometimes we get caught up in the day to day, with our noses to the grind, and we fail or forget to see the big picture. God’s doing amazing things in all our lives, and it’s up to us to take the time to notice them and give Him the glory and praise for it.

What’s He doing in your life? I’d love for you to share…

If you want to read more from Eastridge staff, check out The New Normal, Trey Bailey’s blog. I guarantee you’ll be enlightened and entertained.

The Personal Is Spiritual

There’s a saying that was used by radicals in the 1960s & 70s that summed up their commitment to their cause: “the personal is political.” The gist of that simple, four-word sentence is that these radicals were so committed to their cause…whether it be feminism, Black Power, the anti-war movement, or any other cause… that everything they did they considered a political act.

We who are believers in Jesus Christ can learn from such sold-out devotion, especially since ours is not a temporal cause but the eternal cause. Most Christians could stand a little dose of radical fervor. (Don’t get me wrong…I’m not advocating the politics of these groups or the means they used to achieve their ends, but there’s something to be said for a passion that permeates all we do, when it’s used in the right manner and for good.)

As Christians, we often need to be reminded that our relationship with Christ is meant to permeate all we are and all we do. Christianity isn’t meant to be compartmentalized. Our commitment to Christ shouldn’t be something we put on and take off, like a hat or a pair of shoes. It is meant to be our entire being.

Jesus himself talked about the kind of commitment it takes to follow Him. He said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, NIV, emphasis mine). He doesn’t call us to take up our cross on Sundays, during business hours, when it’s convenient, or when we feel like it; he intends for us to be committed to him every day.

I want to be consumed by my love and devotion for Christ; I want to be driven by His heartbeat. I want everything I do to be a spiritual act. Will I truly be this way all the time? Not as long as I’m human. But I sincerely hope that I can align myself with the heart of Christ more and more.

Perhaps this could become a rallying cry for the revolution: the personal is spiritual.

A Great Walt Disney Quote

I got another great Walt Disney book this week, this one a used book originally distributed to Disney cast members containing quotes from Walt Disney himself.

From everything I’ve read, he considered himself a believer in Jesus Christ even though he did not attend church in his adult life (he did raise his daughters to attend church, however).

Here’s one of his quotes on faith:
“I ask of myself, ‘Live a good Christian life.’ Towards that objective I bend every effort in shaping my personal, domestic, and professional activities and growth.”

What an amazing philosophy on life. I wish more Christians lived like that more often. Most of all, I wish I lived like that more often.

I’m also pretty impressed that the company included that quote in the book…smack in the middle of the Eisner era, no less.

True Unity

I don’t feel like writing much tonight, so this is going to be quick…

A magazine article has led me down some Internet rabbit trails looking at different Christian organizations/faith-based websites. I’ve run across some sites, some churches, some communities, some Christ-followers with beliefs (political, cultural, even some doctrinal…but not the “non-negotiables”) that are extremely divergent from mine. I’ll admit that I’m grateful and glad to be here in the so-called Bible Belt, surrouned by people whose beliefs are aligned with mine far more often than not, but it’s an amazing testimony to the power of Christ that I can read and view these websites in the security that these people and organizations are united with me (and I with them, lest I sound like it’s all about me) in the one area that truly matters.

Here’s to a body of Christ united by Christ, if by nothing else.