Much of the music we hear on the radio today is saturated with elicit drug use, casual sex, violence and other bad influences that are hurting our society. Every once in a while, however, there is a rare gem of a song that encourages you to rise above the coarser parts of human nature and be a better person. This blog features some of our favorite uplifting pop songs along with what they mean to us.

Feel free to leave your own interpretation as a comment!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Most Important Thing About Love...

This poetic piece of advice does not come from a song, but I feel it was too good (and too rare) to pass up. Somehow, somewhere along our society developed the belief that love is a flitting, finicky butterfly that lands on the fortunate for but a moment, and then flies away again. We teach our children that every princess has a perfect prince out there somewhere that will swoop in someday to knock them off their feet and take away all of their troubles for the rest of their life. Our perception of love has made many of us remain as selfish, entitlement-demanding adolescents when it comes to relationships and intimacy.

Don't believe me? Observe the portrayal of love in most of our songs, books, and movies. We extremely disproportionately emphasize the infatuation stage, omit much of the adjustment and reconciliation stages, and pretty much completely fail to explain what keeps love going strong in relationships that thrive for decades. We idolize unstable, immature relationships focused solely on sexual attraction and emotional infatuation. Our real appreciation should go to those couples that take that initial emotional high (a drug-like euphoria that psychologists say lasts about only a year) and nurture it into the deep and abiding love that truly lasts a life time. Such a love not only sustains the couple in all their needs, but also the children that it creates.

The New York Times recently displayed all that is wrong with our society's view of love as they praised a couple that met and "fell in love" at their children's school and left their respective spouses to marry each other in the pursuit of "love." (There was no mention of marital problems with their original spouses.)  Fortunately, most of the Times' readers are more wise then the reporting journalist: most of the article's comments lambasted the couple and the newspaper for their actions.  Leaving your spouse and kids for another woman or man just because they make your heart twitter again is the epitome of selfishness.  Approximately one-half of marriages today end in divorce, and those who don't get married have a much worse chance of remaining in a steady relationship.  What do you think this sharp increase in broken homes has done to us?  To our children?

More than ever, we need to learn what love really is, and what it takes to sustain and grow it.

  Chaos Theory

"The Most Important Thing About Love," from Chaos Theory

Ever heard of chaos theory, Ed? It's a science, tries to determine underlying patterns in chaotic systems like weather, ocean currents, blood flow sort of things. But it turns out that are few things more chaotic than the beat of a human heart. Its beating up, slowing down. Pretty face, flirty stares. It's always changing on what's happening to ourselves out there. It's an erratic S.O.B. But underneath all of that bump-da-bump mess, there is in fact a pattern, the truth, and it's love. The most important thing about love is that we choose to give it, and we choose to receive it. Making it the least random act in the entire universe. It transcends blood, it transcends betrayal and all the dirt and makes us human.  If you can figure that out, the Jake Lee's in the world got nothing on you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"The Reason" by Hoobastank

If you have ever tried to be really good, you quickly are brought to the realization that you are not perfect.  Despite your best efforts, you fall short of your ideal.  We all stumble and hurt the ones we love most from time to time.  And while it hurts a lot to be the one who gets hurt, sometimes it is even more painful to be the one who does the hurting.  It takes great strength of character to pull yourself up in these moments of moral failure and commit to do better next time.  It takes even greater dedication and faithfulness to make sure that you do.  But even the most messed-up person can change, and with God anything is possible.

For great changes to occur, there must always be a great reason.  That reason may be a new job, a valuable friendship, or a life-altering event.  It is often said that an addict must hit rock-bottom before they are willing to accept that they really have a problem and need help.  Whatever the motivation, if it is powerful enough it can provide the strength of resolve and momentum to propel an individual to a new set of actions, new beliefs, and even a new lifestyle.

"The Reason" by Hoobastank

I'm not a perfect person
There's many things I wish I didn't do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

I've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
And the reason is you

I'm sorry that I hurt you
It's something I must live with every day
And all the pain I put you through
I wish that I could take it all away
And be the one who catches all your tears
That's why I need you to hear

I've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
And the reason is you

I've found a reason to show
A side of me you didn't know
A reason for all that I do
And the reason is you

"Beautiful" by Mercy Me

This world can be a very cruel place.  Too many people feel that the only way they can build themselves up is to tear someone else down.  Many of us isolate our feelings from most others, only opening up to a few choice friends in whom we feel we can trust.  The greatest betrayals are when even those trusted friends thoughtlessly, or intentionally cause us the greatest emotional harm. 

It's hard to feel good about yourself when you get rejected.  You feel like if they don't value you for your looks, your mind, your personality, then why should you?  Because there is one that values you more than you could ever value yourself.  He thought you were worth so much that he suffered torture and gave his only life to make sure you would be safe for all eternity.  He is in heaven right now, right this instant, looking down on you, reaching out through the immensity of time and space to surround you with his own tender love.  To let you know that everything will be okay. 

To Him, you are beautiful, you are treasured, you are irreplaceable.  You are in the middle of a dark valley on your journey of life, but his loving arms await you in the warm sunshine.  If you look up to Him, He will send the sunshine to where you are and begin to heal your broken heart.

"Beautiful" by Mercy Me

Days will come when you don't have the strength
When all you hear is you're not worth anything
Wondering if you ever could be loved
And if they truly saw your heart they'd see too much

You're beautiful
You're beautiful
You are made for so much more than all of this
You're beautiful
You're beautiful
You are treasured, You are sacred, You are His
You're beautiful

And praying that you have the heart to find
Cause you are more than what is hurting you tonight
For all the lies you've held inside so long
And they are nothing in the shadow of the cross


Before you ever took a breath
Long before the world began
Of all the wonders He possessed
There was one more precious

Of all the earth and skies above
You're the one He madly loves enough to die


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Only Hope" by Switchfoot and Mandy Moore

Hope has become a misunderstood word.  Nowadays, we say things like "I hope it's sunny today" to mean we have no idea if it will be sunny (and with our luck it probably won't be), but still, it would be nice if it was.  This isn't what hope used to mean.  Hope is a conviction that something is true.  It leaves no room for doubt; hope is the opposite of doubt.

The misunderstanding of the word hope illustrates the fact that many people today do not have much hope.  Agnosticism and moral ambiguity have left people uncertain what they should do and uncertain what the ultimate results of it will be.  We have been taught that there are only us humans and humans cannot be trusted.

What a benefit those people have who believe in a supreme power and objective morality.  Like the North Star sitting still in the heavens while the rest of the universe spins in circles, their belief and religion provides a clear path for their actions and strong hope for their eternal future.  Whatever may happen to them in this life -- friendships and relationships betrayed, sickness, financial failure -- they know for certain that it will all be okay.  They place their only hope in that conviction.

Scoffers who may criticize their supposed naiveté would do well to remember Pascal's famous wager: should the believer's hope be placed in reality they win an eternity of happiness.  They also get a lifetime of moral certainty which leads to a lifestyle of happiness.  Should they be wrong, they still keep the lifetime of peacefulness and then cease to exist at death. Not a bad bet.  Those who refuse to recognize an objective morality are much more likely to act in a way in life that will leave them unhappy, will lack the peace of mind of moral certainty, and risk eternal damnation for their actions.  Which do you think is the better bet: following the wisdom of an eternal being (or at least of collective humanity) or stumbling about in the dark on your own?

"Only Hope" by Switchfoot and Mandy Moore

There's a song that's inside of my soul.
It's the one that I've tried to write over and over again
I'm awake in the infinite cold.
But you sing to me over and over and over again.

So, I lay my head back down.
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only yours, I pray, to be only yours
I know now you're my only hope.

Sing to me the song of the stars.
Of your galaxy dancing and laughing and laughing again.
When it feels like my dreams are so far
Sing to me of the plans that you have for me over again.

I give you my destiny.
I'm giving you all of me.
I want your symphony, singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs, I'm giving it back.

So I lay my head back down.
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only yours, I pray, to be only yours
I pray, to be only yours
I know now you're my only hope. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"The Hand Song" by Nickel Creek

I once heard someone say that people's perception of God are often created from their relationship with their parents.  As I think back on my own life, that seems to be true.  That certainly puts the importance of good parenting in perspective.  Parents quite literally act in place of God during those formative years of raising, nurturing and teaching their children.  Rather than getting angry at a child for a careless mistake they have made, instead wouldn't God choose to use that moment to teach the child and set their moral compass to point true north.

As the old adage goes, children certainly do learn what they live; and no matter how astray they may go in life, I believe they never forget those lessons they learn on their parents' knee.  There is no greater, more important job in this world than faithful mothers and fathers who teach their children of love and duty and sacrifice.  Those children grow up to be our great, principled leaders that strive to make this world a better place for everyone.  Those parents could never receive all of the thanks they deserve for their quiet, unobserved, daily efforts.

"The Hand Song" by Nickel Creek

The boy only wanted to give Mother something
And all of her roses had bloomed
Looking at her as he came rushing in with them
Knowing her roses were doomed
All she could see were some thorns buried deep
And the tears that he cried as she tended his wounds

And she knew it was love
It was one she could understand
He was showing his love
And that's how he hurt his hands

He still remembers that night as child
On his mother's knee
She held him close and she opened her bible
And quietly started to read
And seeing a picture of Jesus he cried out
"Momma, he's got some scars just like me."

And he knew it was love
It was one he could understand
He was showing his love
And that's how he hurt his hands

Now the boy's grown and moved out on his own
When Uncle Sam comes along
A foreign affair, but our young men were there
And luck had his number drawn
It wasn't that long till our hero was gone
He gave to a friend what he learned from the cross

But they knew it was love
It was one they could understand
He was showing his love
And that's how he hurt his hands

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Love Like Crazy" by Lee Brice

If you want to see what real love is, you only need go visit a couple that has been together for decades.  Long after the initial attraction has past, past all of the disagreements, hurt feelings and apologies, true love continues to sail through hoping for the best but ready to endure the worst.  True love is a decision that these couples made, again and again over the years, to be their spouse's best friend, to love them no matter what trials they come across.

It may seem crazy to some.  Humans are programed to look after themselves and to take an advantage over another when it comes along.  To truly love someone, you must open yourself up to be completely vulnerable to their actions.  But the rewards of such a intimate and trusting relationship have no other match in the world.

Choose your spouse very, very carefully, but once you have made your wise choice, abandon your own selfish desires and love them like crazy.  Work hard at cultivating your marriage and it will be there for a lifetime of happiness and fulfillment.

"Love Like Crazy" by Lee Brice

They called them crazy when they started out
Said seventeen's too young to know what loves about
They've been together fifty-eight years now
That’s crazy

He brought home sixty-seven bucks a week
He bought a little 2 bedroom house on Maple Street
Where she blessed him with six more mouths to feed
Yea that’s crazy

Just ask him how he did it; he'll say pull up a seat
It'll only take a minute, to tell you everything

Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse I Love You
Go to work, do your best, don't outsmart your common since
Never let your prayin' knees get lazy
And love like crazy

They called him crazy when he quit his job
Said them home computers, boy they'll never take off
He sold his one man shop to Microsoft
They paid like crazy

Just ask him how he made it
He'll tell you faith and sweat
And the heart of a faithful woman,
Who never let him forget

Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse I Love You
Go to work, do your best, don't outsmart your common since
Never let your prayin knees get lazy
And love like crazy

Always treat your woman like a lady
Never get to old to call her baby
Never let your prayin knees get lazy
And love like crazy

They called him crazy when they started out
They've been together fifty-eight years now

Aint that crazy?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"From God's Arms, To My Arms, To Yours" by Michael McLean

This last Sunday two ladies from a local pregnant teen counseling and adoption center spoke to us at church.  As they talked about the young teenage mothers who come into their office feeling alone and scared of the great decisions that they had to make shortly, my heart went out to them.  They told us that when an individual comes in with an unwanted pregnancy (or their parents, siblings, friends, etc.) they always sit them down and in a calm, caring manner discuss their options: 1) Marrying the father and raising the child together, 2) Raising the child as a single parent, 3) Adopting the child out to a family that wants them, or 4) Aborting the child.  Realizing that it is often impossible for the birth mother to get married or be a single mom, my wife and I agreed that we had great respect for the women who carried the baby to full term and then adopted them to a family.

As those ladies told us of the great heartache those pregnant girls initially have and the great peace they found in doing the right thing and adopting their baby, it reminded me of a song I had heard many years ago.  Songwriter Michael McLean was approached by a girl with an unwanted pregnancy about writing a song for her to give to the family she was adopting her child to.  From her journal entries, McLean wrote this unique song that has given hope and encouragement to many many girls in the same situation.  (Listen to his explanation here. )

"From God's Arms, To My Arms, To Yours" by Michael McLean

So many wrong decisions in my past, I'm not quite sure
If I can ever hope to trust my judgement anymore.
But lately I've been thinking,
'Cause it's all I've had to do.
And in my heart I feel that I
Should give this child to you.

And maybe, you could tell your baby,
When you love him so, that he's been loved before,
By someone, who delivered your son,
From God's arms, to my arms, to yours.

If you choose to tell him,
If he wants to know,
How the one who gave him life
Could bear to let him go.
Just tell him there were sleepless nights,
I prayed and paced the floors,
And knew the only peace I'd find,
Was if this child was yours.

And maybe, you could tell your baby,
When you love him so, that he's been loved before,
By someone, who delivered your son,
From God's arms, to my arms, to yours.

This may not be the answer,
For another girl like me.
But I'm not on a soapbox,
Saying how we all should be.
I'm just trusting in my feelings,
And I'm trusting God above,
And I'm trusting you can give this baby
Both his mothers' love.

And maybe, you could tell your baby,
When you love him so, that he's been loved before,
By someone, who delivered your son,
From God's arms, to my arms, to yours.

Resources for Unwanted Pregnancies:
It's About Love
Pregnant? You Have Options
About Abortion