When God Makes No Sense

Reflections from "No Easy Answers"

Once upon a time, wrestling with God about the pain and confusion going on in my world and those around me, I wrote this song called  “No Easy Answers”. Recently there’s been a renewed interest in the song and I’ve been in a lot conversations with folks about these thoughts. I’d like to share some reflections.

When God makes no sense.

Perhaps the greatest challenge for believers in God, followers of Jesus and lovers of His ways, is  – how do we honestly reconcile the painful realities of life that lead so easily to disappointment, distance and even anger towards God?

Sometimes there’s a silver lining and a redemptive purpose in suffering, like the story of Joseph. “What was meant for evil, God used for good.” (Genesis 50:20)

Sometimes self sacrifice results in a greater good, like those who serve in the military or first responders.

Sometimes people just do evil wicked acts that steal, kill and destroy – like serial killers and terrorists.

But …

How can you explain the unexplainable?

How can you make sense of the senseless?

There Are No Easy Answers

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The Hymns Birthed from Seasons of Controversy and Conflict

Ray Hughes Teaching "The Journey of Worship"

So as I write this, Ray Hughes is teaching a series called “Journey of Worship” at Grace Center in Franklin, TN. I happened to catch session #7 (there will be 12 total).

It was totally, prophetically, inspiringly awesome. If you can attend live, do it. If not, watch the video series here.

I’ve known Ray for a long time, his teachings have profoundly influenced my understanding of worship.

Here’s one takeaway from the night I was there. Regarding Martin Luther and the lives of the psalmists and hymn writers…

You know revolutionaries, and those who carry awakenings, typically walk through seasons of controversy and conflict, until conviction and conversion comes. But until that comes, your life ends up being redefined on many levels.

They were pioneering and birthing something in the spirit realm that was hanging on the balance of how they stood with integrity and character.

The power of the might of the Lord, the One who touched them, and the One they had their encounter with, would hold them up until their conflict and controversy would become songs. And then it would begin to carry a life of it’s own from generation to generation.

When you become a songwriter you are creating something that holds a promise for a future generation.

Ray Hughes, Journey of Worship, Session 7 February 22, 2017

Many of the great hymns of history, written by “revolutionaries who carry awakenings”  were birthed through seasons of controversy and conflict. This was the legacy of pioneers like Martin Luther and Isaac Watts. They paid a heavy price. Today their message still inspires and carries the purposes of God through song.

Can you relate to this? I know I can. Don’t give up singing your new song. God is on the move. Let faith rise up.

“It’s time for a generation to begin to fully trust Him with the sound that they have been given. You see, faith and trust is part of this thing called worship. Faith is the ability to respond to God’s definition of your future.” – Ray Hughes, Journey of Worship, Session 1

Faith is the ability to respond to God’s definition of your future!  

Here’s a link to the video. 

Draw Me Nearer: Songwriting As An Overflow of Intimacy

My Guest Post for WorshipTeamTraining.com

Note: I’m delighted to be a guest contributor to the WorshipTeamTraining.com website. This article contains my recent guest post “Draw Me Nearer” along with bonus links to the recording of my song and lyrics. 


Guest Post http://www.worshipteamtraining.com/draw-me-nearer/

In this article I want to talk about two things. First, some biblical principles for developing greater intimacy with God. Second, how the fruit of our intimacy with God can result in many good things, in this instance writing new songs.

Designed For Intimacy

We are designed for intimacy. First with God, then with others. The gospel promises that we can connect with God at the deepest, most authentic part of our souls.

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Available Now! “A New Joyful Sound For Christmas”

Well it’s finally finished and available everywhere, the full length 11 song version of my new album “JOYFUL! Christmas Praise and Worship”. Complete Digital Downloads* of the whole project are available on iTunes, CDBaby, and Bandcamp. There’s also a limited 5 song “sampler” version on NoiseTrade.

BANDCAMP, includes Songbook excerpt

https://robstill.bandcamp.com/album/joyful-christmas-praise-worship

The feedback from listeners has been great!

  • I am SOOO enjoying your new Christmas CD. I knew it would be good but WOW! The music was beautiful and unique!!  I can hardly listen to the radio during this time of year, but your CD has played continually since I got it. Thank you for bringing a new joyful sound to Christmas this year. ~ Karen L.
  • I love your new Christmas CD! Of course I really like the background singers. ~ Gaylora W.
  • I normally hate Christmas music but really digging this worship album by Nashville artist Rob Still. Also, if you’re a worship leader and need last-minute arrangements (trust me, I’ve been there) just uh, “cheat” using this project.  ~ Mike Kim
  • I like the arrangement – thanks for sharing! – Janet D.
  • Ooo! I love this song. ~ Christina B.
  • Whether or not you are religious, you should listen to this. Rob Still is the former worship pastor from my old Nashville church and is the primary reason I know how to improvise on the viola and play anything else because classical music (especially “commercial” percussion).  We worked on his Christmas album this summer. This song [As With Gladness Men of Old] I think is one of the best things we have done together; he is playing guitar and singing, and I am playing both of my violas and percussion (Finger cymbals, triangle, trine, singing bowl, chinese cymbal, nut rattle, 2 different djembes, frame drum, floor tom, surdo, udu, cajon-bongos, ghungroo bells, tambourine, toy cymbals, etc.). Enjoy! ~ Christopher Lowry, Principal Violist, Acadiana Symphony Orchestra and Conservatory of Music, Orchestral Assistant at Louisiana State University, Principle Violist Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra

Available at these fine outlets. You can listen and check it out right here.

iTUNES

Listen to short samples and download the album in iTunes.


NOISETRADE – 5 SONG SAMPLER, includes Songbook excerpt


  CDBABY


 

* Note: If you want a physical CD before Christmas, send me an e-mail [rob at rob still dot com]  

JOYFUL! Christmas Praise & Worship. (Sneak Preview Available Now)

I’m thrilled to offer this “sneak preview” of my new Christmas project “Joyful!” for a very limited time.  To listen and download click the cover image  below…

CD Jacket Template copy2 full

So here’s the quick story … I’ve been leading worship with these arrangements of traditional Christmas songs for several years, mostly with the youth praise team from back in the day. I’ve had a desire for many years to produce nice rockin’ Christmas album with these songs and others. On a mixture of opportunity and unction I started recording late December of 2013 for what will be a 2014 release. But like a kid who can’t wait for Christmas, I wanted to share what we’ve got so far. This “sneak preview” is not perfect, but you’ll get the idea and I pray it will bring some joy to your Christmas season. God bless you and enjoy!

To listen now and download your copy,  click this link : JOYFUL!

It’s a “name your own price” deal. To get yours for free, simply enter “0.00” as the price. I just want you to have it. Donations are very much appreciated,  proceeds help fund our non-profit missions work.

Merry Christmas!

Comments? We love comments!

JOY! My New Christmas Project Coming 2014

The best time to produce a Christmas record? The year before!

The best time to produce a Christmas record? The year before! A sneak may be coming soon … stay tuned ….

Maybe I’m crazy to make a record right now. But for many years I’ve had some fun/ energetic praise arrangements of Christmas hymns and carols. We’ve got some raw live recordings with the youth group from back in the day,  but “you had to be there” to appreciate it.

So, it’s been in my heart to produce a Christmas worship record that, well,  rocks. And we’re doing it. Now. The opportunity to record with some fantastic players, some friends old and new, came all of a sudden and , well, it just seemed like the right time to go for it.

So earlier this week we recorded basic tracks. I’m working on vocals now. I hope to have a “sneak preview” with mixes for 4 of the songs released by December 21, a week from today. I’ll release the finished project in time for Christmas of 2014.

But, like a kid who can’t wait for Christmas, I’d like to share something before then.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Recording the Band Tracks for “Christmas” In the Studio

Christmas Recording: Rob Still, Blair Masters - keys, Jonathan Crone - electric guitar, Tony Morra - drums, Scot Dente - acoustic guitar, Matt Pierson - bass

Christmas Recording: Rob Still – guitar & vocals, Blair Masters – keys, Jonathan Crone – electric guitar, Tony Morra – drums, Scot Dente – acoustic guitar, Matt Pierson – bass

 

Scratch Vocals & Guitars

Recording Scratch Vocals & Guitar

Recording Scratch Vocals & Guitar

Over To You

So .. would you be interested in hearing a “sneak preview” of some of the songs? Leave a comment ….

Stay updated! Leave me your email address and I’ll a send you the free download to the sneak preview when it’s ready. I’ll be tracking vocals December 19 & 20 and will have rough mixes up by December 22.

* indicates required


“Dash Between The Years” – A Song For All Saints Day

dash between the years img

This Sunday at HFUMC we will commemorate “All Saints Day”.

In the United Methodist Church, All Saints’ Day is observed on the first Sunday in November to remember deceased members of the local church congregation. A candle is lit as each person’s name is called out with their photograph, followed by prayer.

I wrote a song a while back that I thought would be appropriate for the occasion.  “Dash Between The Years” is about making  your life count and living with no regrets. It was inspired by a poem called “The Dash” by Linda Ellis.

You can hear the song on this youtube video. The strings were played by my friend and amazing viola virtuoso Christopher Lowry. 

Dash On A Tombstone

On a tombstone was written the date of her birth
And the day of her last breath
The sign of a lifetime of living and tears
Was a dash between the years
And it said nothing at all of good deeds and kindness and faith
Cause a dash on a tombstone is never enough
To show what a life has meant

For there’s only one life and soon it will pass
Only what’s done for Jesus will last

I’m reflecting on decisions and choices I’ve made
Will I live with no regrets?
Did my life make a difference
Or was I captured by fear in my dash between the years ?

Would it say I was faithful
Did I live for the glory of God?
Cause a dash on a tombstone is never enough
To show what a life has meant

And we’ve only one life,  soon it will pass
Only what’s done for Jesus will last

This is my dash between the years.

Copyright Rob Still November 2002. Rob Still Music (ASCAP)
All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by
permission.

Comments?

Is there a song that has been special to you for remembering loved ones or motivating you to live your life to the fullest? Thanks for sharing!

A Song for Easter: A New Anointing

“A New Anointing” as performed by Zoe Group [Video]

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This post features a song I wrote that we’re working up for Easter. I’m excited to direct our church choir on this acapella arrangement of “A New Anointing / This Is The Day”, as recorded by the wonderful Zoe Group.

This will be the first time I’ve had the pleasure of leading the choral  version, and it sounded so good at rehearsal last night!

So, here is a link I’ve put up for the HFUMC choir to download. I will leave this up as a free download for a very limited time.

Download MP3 audio > Click this link:  A New Anointing – Acapella

Also, here’s the music score for the HFUMC choir to download for a limited time only:

Download Choral Score > Click this link: A New Anointing Choral Music

[Note: If you’re not in the HFUMC choir you can purchase the recording from the I-tunes store here > Deep Calls to Deep – The ZOE Group and, for the choral arrangement, you can purchase the sheet music here.]

MORE ABOUT THIS SONG

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2 Free Palm Sunday Worship Songs: Lift Up Your Heads / King of Kings

“Lift Up Your Heads”: Psalm 24 Scripture Song

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This is a live worship video of “Lift Up Your Heads”combined with the song “King of Kings”. I’ve used it frequently as  a processional song for Palm Sunday.

  • “Lift Up” is straight ahead antiphonal singing the NIV translation of Psalm 24 verses 7-10.
  • “King of Kings” is a compilation of several spontaneous riffs created over many seasons of worshiping with this song.
  • This a pretty good example of my Davidic approach to writing and leading worship.

This was recorded and mixed live at Belmont Church. No Auto-tune was used, as you can tell. 🙂

Free MP3 Download on Bandcamp

Lift Up Your Heads Mp3 Download

You can download this recording (actually in any format, even CD quality .aiff) and lyrics FREE here on  “Rob’s Exclusive Content” Bandcamp page.

Free Downloadable Charts:

Click the links below for a PDF

Lift Up Your Heads Lead Sheet

Lift Up Your Heads Lead Sheet

Lift Up Your Heads / King of Kings (Lead Sheet in D)

Lift Up Your Heads (Chord Chart/Lyrics in D) 

King of Kings (Chord Chart /Lyrics in D)

I’ve been thinking I would video tape a tutorial how to play this song, would that be useful to you? Let me know in the comments!

I love comments, add yours!

Coming oh so very soon! My new “Wholehearted Worship” e-book series. 

Song: “Never Alone” A Lesson in Perseverence From Martin Luther King Jr.

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I remember the tears welling up when I first heard Martin Luther King ‘s message “A Knock At Midnight”.

It  inspired by me to write the song Never Alone”.

The story King tells in “A Knock At Midnight” is so raw and emotional. He was despondent. He was desperate. He was at the end of the end of his rope.

He needed a word from God.

Then he had an encounter right at his kitchen table.

I discovered then that religion had to become real for me and I had to know God for myself, I bowed down … and then the Holy Spirit revived my soul”

Shortly after that speech, his calling would  require his life. It brings tears to my eyes when I hear him say:

“He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone, never alone, no never alone .“

The promise of God to never abandon his children has inspired the courage and perseverance of saints through out the ages.

“And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20

 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6

That promise is what inspired  “Never Alone”.

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A special “THANK YOU” to Michael Hyatt’s podcast 8 Leadership Lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The 8 Lessons are fabulous, go check it out that link.  At the end of the podcast he answered listeners question, one of which was from moi:

 “What does Dr. King have to teach us about overcoming discouragement, especially when our ideas are rejected by those in power and authority”

Michael’s answer, “perseverance” led to this blog post!

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You can listen to  NEVER ALONE on this player and read the lyrics below, also a  free song download this week.

Never Alone black2.001NEVER ALONE

You will never leave me
I know You will never forsake me
And even when I can’t see You  – I know that You’re there
And even when I can’t feel You  – I know that You care
And when my heart is shattered and broken
Your ways seem a mystery
Still I believe you’ll never abandon me

Cause I’m never alone, never alone        
through the dark night of the soul, I’m never alone
I’m never alone, never alone        
through the dark night of the soul, I’m never alone
You hold me ,you surround me, with the sound of Your love
I’m never alone, never alone, never alone, never alone
I’m never alone, never alone, never alone, never alone

I know you’ll never leave   me
I know you’ll never forsake me
I know you will never abandon me
I’m never alone, never alone, never alone, never alone
I’m never alone, never alone, never alone, never alone
You will never leave me

Copyright 2001/2011 Rob Still /Rob Still Music (ASCAP)
All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

“Never Alone”  is a free song download this week. If you like Never Alone or the “What Words Can’t Say” project , you can help spread the word by liking it on Facebook, or write a review for I-Tunes or CD Baby.

Words CD Cover

Thanks for sharing your thoughts in the comments. We love comments!

Coming oh so very soon! My new e-book “Wholehearted Worship”.  :