Monthly Archives: September 2007

#79: Remedy

A-ha. At long last.

I know it comes out on the 25th. But that never stopped piracy. And who’s to say that it wasn’t the band themselves who started distributing it all over the internet. Although, I later found out after having downloaded it over night that a site is giving a free preview of the CD. So perhaps the copy I have is possibly a recording of that. I doubt anyone would go to that sort of trouble

So, here’s my review of Remedy by the David Crowder*Band. (in case you haven’t figured out at this point, they are my favourite worship band)

There are only 10 songs on the CD. Shock and horror. Especially when their previous album, A Collision, was 21 tracks long. Although 14 of them are actual songs in themselves. Let me post a list of the songs to help you understand better:

  1. The Glory Of It All
  2. Can You Feel It
  3. Everything Glorious
  4. …neverending…
  5. Never Let Go
  6. O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing
  7. Rain Down
  8. We Won’t Be Quiet
  9. Remedy
  10. Surely We Can Change

Regardless, I still quite floored by it. Although this was also a progression. Let me explain. Everything Glorious, I heard first on the Passion 06 CD, and then they released it early in June I believe. So that got through my system. The Glory of It All was performed live at Passion 07 to which I went, and Passion released a live version. So that got through my system. Then I heard …neverending… over YouTube. And then I found out about a freebie download of Can You Feel It.

However there was one song in particular which was quite different. Crowder rearranges hymns amazingly in my opinion. And at Passion he played his new song, O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing. And Passion had a live stream. Which cut short halfway through the Crowder song. So I’m not satisfied there. And then I realised I should have recorded the video, but the window was gone. And no one had really caught on to the song and recorded it as well.

And so I wait. And wait. Until yesterday, when worshiptogether.com released a preview of the song, and Remedy as well. I can’t get over those two songs yet.

But that’s for the review.

So how’s the album generally?

Fantastic. Inspiring collection of songs on love, on grace, on glory, on redemption and the position that puts us in and the mandate we have.

The rest of the post is a specific review so read on if you want to be bored by me (or inspired when you listen to the album) – either way works.

Alright. How’s the album specifically? This is going to be like one of those internet reviews drawn out longer. Much much longer.

The Glory Of It All on the album doesn’t disappoint. The increased sonic clarity as compared to the live recording gives it a more reverent tone and you can hear the layers built beautifully as the song hits its crescendo. Makes you want a violin *cough*ShanBerg*cough* in worship services. It hits my list of favourites because it paints quite a vivid picture of the glory of God from start to finish and the story of redemption. Oh the glory of it all is you came here for the rescue of us all that we may live for the glory of it all.

Can You Feel It is well plain catchy. You can only classify it as a techno track. The loops and synths are quite awesome actually. But I wouldn’t let the music distract you from the lyrics, which basically setup the rest of the album. It beggars the question whether you can feel the presence of God. And that we can’t comprehend that God is there, is everywhere. But as the music dies off with that question, it builds up into the idea that regardless, we know and we BELIEVE that our God is here with us. And it is this belief, this idea of faith that gives us the platform to do much for God.

So we then head into Everything Glorious. This one I have to thank Tim for bringing my attention to it on the Passion 06 CD. I still remember him saying at camp “I think this song is going to be a hit.” Good call Tim. This is yet another song about the glory of God, and how that is reflected in all God creates. He makes everything glorious, and the catch line here is: And I am Yours.

Then we head into …neverending… Haha. Now this is one of two fun songs on the CD. He plays this with a Guitar Hero controller. But past the video game like connotations of the music, there is an interesting message here. It’s probably the spiritual successor to Foreverandever etc. on A Collision. It talks about our eternal God and then goes on to say how He is in us, and that this makes all the difference, this changes everything and makes our whole existence worth something.

The next song is quite an abrupt change of tone. It’s an especially poignant song. It is set within the context of a time of personal troubles, a time of spiritual turmoil and darkness, “when hope has flown“, it clings to the promise that God is known to be ever faithful, ever true, and he’ll never let go. And if we cling to that promise, we will begin to comprehend the overflowing power of the love of God, to drive out our despair. Joy and pain, sun and rain, you’re the same, you never let go pretty much sums up the song as it draws to a close.

Now to my favourite of the whole album. O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing. I would almost think it’d suffice to post the lyrics of this song and let them explain themselves. But the lyrics are long. After all it’s a hymn WITH an added chorus and bridge. So I won’t do that. Why do I love this song? It’s one of those rare blends of amazing lyrics and instrumentation. It’s a song of joy over the love of Jesus and the glory of redemption which builts into a response to the “one great love, Jesus” – So come on and sing out let our anthem grow loud, there is one great love, Jesus. And the bridge hits a note on what it’s all about. There are so few words that never grow old, Jesus. It’s a foretelling of what heaven will be like, where this one word will never grow old. Can’t really describe the music here so just go to http://www.worshiptogether.com/ and click on the newsongjukebox in the corner to hear it.

Rain Down. Haha. I first heard this on the All I Can Say album. It piqued my interest actually. Let me post the lyrics and I’ll explain why:
Holy is the Lord, Holy is the Lord
Holy is the Lord, Holy is the Lord

Rain down your love on us, rain down your love
Rain down your grace and cover me
Rain down your love on us, rain down your peace

Pretty short huh. What caught my attention the most was the progression. It’s a song of prayer. It’s extremely rockish on both cuts, with added electronic flair on the new album, but it’s essentially a prayer. And here’s how I finally realised it linked. Our God is a holy God, and His holiness means we deserve his wrath, but we’ve been saved by His redemptive work through Jesus. So what we have here is as we try to be holy as God is holy, we hit a problem, the problem of our ‘flesh’. And thus the plea that God rains down his love, his grace and his peace on us. Strange outro on the song though.

Next song. We Won’t Be Quiet. Kind of like We Win on A Collision. It’s one of those anthem like songs and it’s the second of two “fun songs” on the CD. The title’s pretty much self explanatory, that we won’t be quiet about what Jesus has done for us. However, upon further reflection, is this always the case?

And now the jewel of the CD, the self-labelled Remedy. This song is amazing and it completes the list of my three favourite songs. I should just post what i believe the lyrics are.

Here we are, here we are/The broken and used/Mistreated, abused/Here we are
Here you are, here you are/The beautiful one who came like the Son/Here you are

So we lift up our voices and open our hands/To cling to a love we can’t comprehend/Lift up your voices and lift up your hands/To sing of the love that has freed us from sin

He is the one who has saved us/He is the one who embraced us/He is the one who has come and is coming again/He is the remedy

Here we are, here we are/Bandaged and bruised, awaiting a cure/Here we are
Here you are, here you are/Our beautiful King bringing relief/Here you are with us

So we lift up our voices and open our hands/Let go of the things that have kept us from Him

He is the one who has saved us/He is the one who forgave us/He is the one who has come and is coming again/He is the remedy

Oh and I can’t comprehend/I can’t take it all in/Nor will understand/Such perfect love/Oh the broken and beat/The wounded and weak/Come fall at his feet/He is the remedy/He is the remedy

He is the one who has saved us/He is the one who forgave us/He is the one who has come and is coming again/He is the remedy/He is the remedy/He is the remedyHe is the remedy/So sing, sing/You’re the one who has saved us/You are the one who forgave us/You are the one who has come and is coming again/You are the one who has come and you’re coming again/You are the one who has come and is coming again/To make it alright/To make it alright/You’re the remedy/You’re in us/You’re the remedy/You’re in us

Let us be the remedy

Enough said there.

Final track is Surely We Can Change. Kind of like Stars on Illuminate but even more quieter, and more violin, less audible acoustic strumming. It talks about our mandate. That we seldom get into action despite all we’ve experience from God. The whole album has been about love and glory and grace and things like that, a stunning story of redemption, and yet we just never know what to do with such love – And the problem it seems is with you and me not the love who came to repair everything
– and that we must choose what our hands will do especially in our world today which is full of love and hatred. And it calls us: where there is pain let us bring grace, where there is suffering bring serenity, for those afraid let us be brave, where there is misery let us bring them relief. And there’s an amazing line: And surely we can change, surely we can change something. It’s not a question but a statement. That we have God on our side to go out and do something in this world.

And the whole album goes out on a tense note: The whole world’s about to change… The funny thing, or maybe not, was that reading this line on a blog post of his, I thought: Isn’t this a premature statement? But listening through the whole collection, if this message will not inspire us, then what will? The whole world will change, if only we realise what we have on our side.

Inspiring collection of music. I know this has been a huge gush. Ah well. I also realised that he uses the word comprehend quite a bit. But fairly accurate term as we try to take the vastness of it all in.

#78: Knowledge vs. wisdom

Well. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a sermon-like post.

The concept which I wish to consider today is the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Or simply (succintly – another word to improve your vocab) put, what’s right isn’t always wise.

To illustrate my point, let me use two examples that are close to my heart. The first is what we call a Pyrrhic victory. The story behind the term is an interesting one. It originates from the story of King Pyrrhus and his invasion of Rome. The Greek and Roman armies were evenly match but Pyrrhus appeared to possess better troops, better tactics and a wealth of battle experience. Yet after several days of fighting, the outcome wasn’t any clearer.

Finally, the Greek army managed to prevail and drove back the Romans. Yet, Pyrrhus was now in an incredibly weak position. Far from home and without reinforcements, the enemy may had lost the battle but were still in the stronger position. Pyrrhus said “One more such victory and I am lost”. He never conquered Rome.

The lesson of the story here is that some battles are won at too great a cost. This is often the case in relationships with other people. You know you are dead right, and maybe the person eventually does too. But pride stops us from stopping when we should. And so we end up forsaking the relationship for the victory as we argue and slam the other person’s opinions. It was right, but it wasn’t wise. Treasure the relationship, not your pride. If the other person is wrong, gently correct, never assuming yourself as a superior example, but as a friend to guide.

The second illustration I feel applies to exemplary leadership. And this is ever more evident in the context of the church today. It can be summed up in one key bible verse:

“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” 1 Corinthians 8:1.

This verse was written in the context of eating food sacrificed to idols. Although all foods were proclaimed clean, for the conscience of the weak believer, the mature wise believer should refrain from such foods as to not condemn their weak consciences. The bible calls us to refrain from becoming a “stumbling block” to other believers.

And this applies across every facet of leadership. From your relationships to your actions, it is important that none become a stumbling block to others. Knowledge in its context here can be interpreted as a truth without love. And so I present wisdom as its extension, a truth practiced in love. The wise man is known by God, because he loves God. This is seen in verse 2. And to be known by God in this context is something not to be taken lightly!

This gives us the foundation to move from knowledge to wisdom. And as the wise man loves God, this love overflows onto others. And this love being rooted and established in God, who is Truth, the embodiment of all that is Right, thus surpasses knowledge. It’s really the difference between “head knowledge” and “heart knowledge”. The first precludes love, the second is borned out of love for God.

So here’s the exhortation. In all you do, in every aspect of your life, always act rightly, not out of a knowledge of good and evil, but out of a wisdom that comes from loving God and knowing God.

And to the leaders (both present and future and even past) of the youth/college group at my church, this is an ever more important exhortation:

Don’t go for Pyrrhic victories. Always treasure the relationship over your pride. As mentioned, this doesn’t give us license to let wrongdoing fester, but it tells us to enforce the truth IN love.

And in all your ways set a wise example. Maturity does not give you license to do everything without consideration for love. The biggest example of this is, in my opinion, in the area of boy-girl relationships. Just because it’s not wrong to pursue one discards the principle of wisdom. If you do not want to be a stumbling block, the wise course suggests to steer clear until you’re 18, i.e. out of secondary.

And finally, to those who might think this post is directed at them, well you are in every sense right. But I do this out of love for you as a person, not out of a need to stamp my ways on you. The course of wisdom is always justified by the blessings of God, as perceived in the book of Proverbs.

14 days to go

Ah.. 2 weeks to get everyting done. Lol. Things left to do: Apply for student visa, get medical checkup and buy lots of T-shirts.

Anyways, I know I did say a post a day. Now I think about it, it’s kind of impossible to do so. So maybe I should rescale to 2 moderately sized posts a week, or small posts every 2 days, bite sized news everyday and 1 big one a week.

Now that looks more realistic heading into term time.

Am I excited about heading to Cambridge? Haha. Let’s just say I expect it to be quite the experience.

So I finished reading one of the books today, “The Worldly Philosophers” by Robert Heilbroner. I would think a must-read by anyone interested in the slightest in economics. It is a narrative description of the evolution of economics as a discipline from its founding father Adam Smith, to the world today. Surprisingly, it’s not a dry text. Although Heilbroner has an annoying tendency to laden his text with big words, I guess to make it sound more intellectual, or perhaps it is the most accurate word available and in hindsight I think my vocabulary just expanded by another 200 words or so, it is quite fascinating and interesting to note that as suggested in the title of the book, he looks at the philosophers, not the mathematicians.

Thus, the book presents the grand scale of things, describing the oddities of the protagonists of the book and the environment(which he substitutes with the word milieu) in which they grew up in and how this influences their thinking.

And so as I was reading this book, it ended with the issue of the future of capitalism, the economic system of markets as we know today. For through the centuries since Adam Smith, many had theorised as to the direction of this economic system. And one comment caught my attention in particular – one of the philosophers, Joseph Schumpeter – states that capitalism may be an economic success, but not a sociological success.

Now I did not quite agree with the reasoning that followed that comment, but in my own way, I interpreted that quite differently.

It is without a doubt that we are at a point in time where the world is increasingly becoming more prosperous. Despite the fluctuations of the economy, the periods of recession and growth, there exists an upward trend of growth nevertheless. Yet prosperity does not equate with being better off.

I remember reading a John Piper sermon once that said, in my own paraphrased terms: Satan either attacks you through prosperity or pain, prosperity so that you will forget the need to depend on God, and pain so that you will doubt the existence of a good and loving God. This pattern is observed in the Bible with the Israelites who grew prosperous and forgot about what God had done to get them where the were, and with Job where in his pain he started to doubt that God was for Him in all things.

And in this age, the attack is in prosperity. For when God becomes superfluous, the devil wins. And with the economic success of capitalism, are we at all surprised that we are seeing a growing lukewarmness in the church, or that matters of spiritualism, of the purpose of life, are no longer important in the pursuit of wealth, or the pursuit of happyness, which was a good movie in one way and had a horrible value in another way.

Now, the disclaimer first: I think that without a doubt, this increased prosperity has been beneficial in the sociological sense that we are seeing more help going to the needy, also aided by the increased globalisation of this world. But then to look at the magnitude of everything, with the population of the earth at 6.7 billion, are the needy actually relatively getting more help, or losing out in the rat race?

I don’t know and I can’t back my hunches up statistically, but I certainly know that we are not doing as much as we can. Capitalism as a money making machine is incredibly efficient, but I believe that we are compelled, specifically as Christians, to channel that sort of wealth and time to help the needy. Don’t just leave philanthropy to the rich, everyone can do their part.

Where does the future of capitalism lie? Like everything else, in the long run everything is meaningless. The future of capitalism lies with us today. Our decision to use this God given system to love the world is what matters. As half of the people reading this won’t be working just yet, I suppose this post serves as a reminder to me and them in the future that we work for the accumulation of treasures in heaven and not on earth. Neither should we get so caught up in the money making machine that we lose our first love in the hustle and bustle.

I think this will be the first of 2 posts this week.

Picking up the pace

Interesting day today I must say.

First of all, I spent my morning in a stupor. How can your mind be on overtime but the rest of your body feel so tired is probably the most annoying thing in the universe.

Secondly, upon some reflection, I think my inability to learn to swim originates from a fear of asphyxiation/suffocation/not being able to breathe. This finds its foundation in that when I sleep, I have moments where I feel like my body is paralysed, and I’m struggling to get a breath but feel completely smothered. And so it becomes an intense struggle to regain consciousness, almost as if I’m limp under water or something. And then I wake up gasping for air. Before realising really that I’m not really gasping and that my body is in a breathable position – i.e. not buried in pillows. Although at this point, my heart is pounding quickly, and I’ve broken into a cold sweat.

Thirdly, Matt left for the US today. Sigh. There goes the cheese. What am I going to eat my corn with now?

Hehe. That was probably painful to read for some of you.

Fourthly, I am greatly looking forward to the release of Remedy. September 25th can’t come any faster, can it? Although I’m also leaving Malaysia on that day for the UK, so the feelings are a bit mixed.

And now, after having a review of my day, I wish to rant on/discuss/discourse on the reason why reading is an unpopular activity. My opinion is that people are lazy to read simply because of the amount of brain power it takes. However, if it’s reading a good fiction book, people can stay addicted to them. So I figured it boils down to one thing: interest. How can reading be made interesting becomes the logical question.

Well, I would think first of all, you would need to get a good book. However, it’s easy for people to read Harry Potter. It’s much harder to read the non-fiction stuff, or the ‘deep’ stuff as people would call it. Note the generalised use of people. So I suppose it’s just a habit that has to be cultivated. I read somewhere that the slow person reads 200 words a minute, 3000 words in 15 minutes, 1095000 words a year if he reads for 15 minutes every day, if translated into pages, would be 3041 pages assuming that the average book has 360 words per page. Most books are at most 300 pages, which then translates into at least 10 books a year.

That is a staggering amount put into context. So I would say get some books and start reading 15 minutes a day. You’ll be surprised how much you cover. And this assumes you read for just 15 minutes, slow enough to grasp everything.

And perhaps you might start to develop an interest for the things you read. If not, it’s time to switch reading material.

And in fact, I do have a second insight. Or rather a second point of discourse: Do only-childs tend to seek the physical presence and acknowledgment of others more than those with siblings? I’ll ramble about this further next post. The assumption here would be that the only-child in question is not of the introverted loner type, i.e. enjoys being by himself.

The return

Ahh. Well. I’ve managed to settle into a certain rhythm now.

Sure took a long time – 2 months and a bit in fact.

Anyways, this is my first post on my new laptop. Haha. Quite happy with it. Although at the moment I’m slightly disappointed because it still doesn’t feel like a super powerful processor with 4GB of RAM. And to disappoint me further, I discovered that Vista takes up half a GB of RAM. So my laptop is officially listed as having 3.5GB of RAM. What a rip-off, in a way. I think I better install a really powerful computer game soon to test how powerful this laptop really is.

I finally finished all my driving. Just passed today. Quite a peculiar road test I must say though. Haha. There were so many people that my invigilator told me to go as fast as I wanted to. Her two most popular phrases: “Tak perlu berhenti” and “Tekan minyak!!” As a disclaimer, I wish to say that the first phrase was in relation to all those stop signs, which she told me to not bother stopping at unless there were cars, and the acceleration bit was when i was speeding (again the term is relative) at 65kph. Although in fairness, another testee in front of me was really really slow, so I tried to overtake them, except that the pickup is not that fast, and said testee didn’t even look at his side mirror and just cut back in front of me as soon as i was about to finish my overtake, to which my invigilator then said, “Apa ini! Tak tahu memandu!” – to the car in front, not me.

Anyways, I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading in preparation for my economics course. And some shopping in preparation for going over. But I’m currently feeling quite under the weather – not at tiptop condition – for some reason unknown. So I’ve not really been in the mood to do much else.

To my faithful readers (7 according to my blog stat counter), I feel that this will mark the recommence of the daily post. I will try to think of a noteworthy theme to guide the next few topics. Although I should add one more disclaimer – I can only post provided I’m at home for at least 4 hours, not inclusive of sleeping, and in one solid block. Otherwise I won’t have the time.