Posted In: GeneralKoerts Music
So 2016 was a whirlwind year. The year in which I turned 40 gave me no time to pursue a mid-life crises, ha! My first priority has been my family. Our daughter (9 years old) enrolled in a Christian school for the first time this year. She is a social butterfly, and flourishes with friends, schedules and structure. In addition to that, we home school two of our boys, and our three year old continues to bring an overload of joy to our family.
Second has been my church ministry. Things have continued to grow and flourish. We are enjoying the second year of the implementation of our music leadership team, a group devoted to the growth and work of the ministry. I attribute much of the success of our ministry to this group of fellow laborers who love the Lord and are committed. And frankly, that describes the majority of the people I am privileged to serve with week after week. Above all, God is doing a great work at Mikado Baptist Church, and as my pastor likes to say, “we are just glad to be on the bus!”
It’s been a joy to continue to contribute to the online work here at Koerts Music. Here is a list of all the major projects I was able to accomplish in 2016, thanks to the grace of God:
- 2 new Flex Instrumental solos (Jesus Paid It All and Christ Arose) — Flex Solos are instrumentals adapted for various instruments
- A new Easter piano collection
- The new Loved piano collection
- 2 new patriotic piano collections: One Nation Under God
- We launched our new Piano Club, which has done really well. You should join it!
- 3 new African American Spirituals piano collections
- A piano duet collection: Repeat the Sounding Joy
- A new Christmas piano collection: Rejoice
In addition, about half way through 2016 I began recording and making YouTube videos of all music I produce on this website. Please check out my channel, and if you like what you see, please subscribe. I expect to continue this with all future projects.
So, it has been a very busy year, and I give all the credit to God who has allowed me to keep up at this pace.
What can you expect this year? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a few plans I have for 2017
- Continue my current pace of musical output. Perhaps even exceed expectations. There are plans for new piano collections, more duet and duo arrangements, as well as more Flex Instrumental solos.
- Continue to deliver amazing content for the Piano Club members.
- Release a new simple series, with piano collections that include arrangements that are easy.
- Releasing music by other composers, not just that James Koerts guy. 🙂
- A renewed emphasis on blogging.
Let me just park there for a moment. Blogging is, frankly, a chore for me. I find it easier to “do” ministry than to blog about it. But the longer I’m in church music ministry, the stronger my passions in the field have become. There are some things I simply want to say. There are other things that I just can’t figure out, and I’d like your input. I view it as a worthy exercise, and so it’s something I’m willing to commit to do in 2017. I don’t know if it will be once a week or more or less frequent than that. But I do plan on sharing my thoughts more often, and my whole goal is encouragement and engagement.
It’s been sort of quiet around here. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy, however. Besides my family responsibilities (you do know my wife and I have four children age nine and under!), and my full time job (music minister at the church), I’ve been keeping the side projects rolling. I can’t divulge all the details, but I can give you a glimpse of what’s coming up… Read more…
One of the things that I just love about the new website is the new store. In my previous website, I would just throw in my piano arrangements, and they wouldn’t be very organized. They would just be displayed in the order in which they were added, and that meant that older arrangements would just be buried, and difficult to find.
Not with this new site. I’m excited about the way the new store manages the songs that are available. Read more…
It’s been a rough few weeks here at the Koerts Music website. For a few months now we had been casually working on a new website design that would be rolled out as soon as it was ready. In addition to the front-end changes we were working on, we were also working on some back-end changes like hosting.
Then things started to get difficult. Apparently, one of the sites hosted by my friend who also hosts my site was attacked by hackers. While the hackers didn’t get to this site (don’t worry, I don’t store credit card info on the site), it didn’t stop Google from putting a warning page on my site, telling all visitors to enter at their own risk. Translation: the site was dead until we fixed it. Read more…
It’s been a very busy summer, so much so that I may have forgotten how to blog. And the summer and all it’s events are not even close to being over. Here are a few highlights of my summer so far:
Choir rehearsals on Sunday afternoons
We have taken a bit of a break from our normal Wednesday night choir rehearsal, and moved it to Sunday afternoons, prior to our evening service, for the summer months. This has allowed our folks to get involved in other ministries during the summer. My wife and I have been able to lead a parenting class, something which we both have learned a lot from. (It’s been a “learn as you teach” sort of thing.)
VBS, Bible Conference, and Freedom Festival
Our church has hosted three main events this summer that have all been hugely beneficial to me and my family. Our kids loved our VBS, which had an island theme to it. I played the piano, and provided lots of island music for it (of which I can hardly remove from my head these days). As part of our church’s 100th anniversary, we hosted a Bible conference, which had some great speakers and was well attended. A little over a week ago we hosted a Freedom Festival, and saw over 800 people in attendance, including several first time families to our campus. We are excited to continue our outreach from our church through these and other ways.
Two music conferences
I confess, I’m not much of a conference type person, but I decided to step out of my comfort zone this summer. I’m glad I did. Both were composer symposiums, but they were both very different. One was hosted by Lorenz, and was an assortment of many of the “names” in the industry (Joe Martin, Mark Hayes, Lloyd Larson, and on and on). It was neat to get to meet many of them for the first time, enjoy some great fellowship, and learn how they go about their craft. It was truly inspirational. The second conference was hosted by Joe Martin and Pine Lake Music, and it’s focus was more on training and craftsmanship. We got to sit under Martin, Robert Sterling, Joel Raney, and others and learn how to better develop our craft. I walked away with some great tools, and it was great to be reacquainted with some wonderful friends, and make many more friends.
July brings with it a family vacation and some very exciting projects that I’m eager to tell you all about once they materialize. Until them, I hope you’re staying busy and serving faithfully.
In January a great man of God died who had a tremendous impact on me and my ministry. Dwight Gustafson, who served as the Dean of Fine Arts at Bob Jones University, had a profound impact on countless men and women who studied there. He was uniquely gifted in many ways, but above all, he was a godly man who you just enjoyed being around.
(If you are interested, you can learn more about this professor—who we affectionately called “Dr. Gus”—by visiting this memorial webpage.)
He was a tall, thin man, with a big smile. Even at the time that I met him and knew him—near the end of his full time ministry at BJU—you could tell he loved his life’s work. I had the privilege to study under him in an undergraduate orchestration class. I really enjoyed the class because I had hoped that what I studied there would assist me in my future ministry. He was a great instructor.
And he had a great sense of humor. I have many fond memories of him in this respect, but by far my most memorable was the time we were rehearsing for an end of school year commencement concert. I don’t remember the piece, but it was for a full orchestra and mass choir. I was singing in the choir. Something happened, or was said, in a rehearsal that made the choir break out in laughter, and for whatever reason, I found it particularly humorous. Without thinking much about it, my laughter—for some unknown reason—bellowed over everyone else’s and lasted longer than anyone’s. Dr. Gus looked right at me and in a very kind manner said, “That was funny, wasn’t it Jim?!” Again, the choir erupted in a second round of laughter. He was always good about making us feel comfortable and enjoy ourselves, even in the midst of some of the most intense rehearsals. This endeared us to him, and made us work harder for him.
But it was my first interaction with him for which I am most grateful. In fact, as I look back, I can see God all over it. I remember as part of freshmen enrollment being paired with him to go over enrollment options. In this roll he was serving as a guidance counselor. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to study in college. I knew that it should be music, and I had initially planned to enroll with a music education focus. But when I met with Dr. Gus, he spent some time to get to know me. He asked great questions like, “What do you enjoy doing?” and “Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?” …questions that I hadn’t really thought much about. When he recognized the conflict in my spirit about the direction I had chosen, he asked what my passions were. I told him that I loved music and that I love church. I sensed a call on my life to be used of God in the area of music, and it would have been a joy to be able to use that in a church setting. It was then that he wisely directed me to the course of study: church music. I knew it was just what I wanted. God used Dr. Gus in a special way to guide me in His will for my life.
I’m so thankful for Dr. Gus’s life as a choice servant of Christ. His life dramatically blessed mine. I will be eternally grateful for the gift of this man’s legacy and testimony for Christ.
Photo credit: Hal Cook
Should we celebrate the Wise Men at Christmastime, even though they really weren’t present at Jesus’ birth? The short answer: YES! I’ll explain in a minute.
But first, why even ask this question? It seems silly. It’s because of all the truth police and fact checkers out there who are quick to inform us (in an ever-so-wise manner) that the Wise Men didn’t arrive on the scene until well after the birth of the Savior. You know who you are. You have enlightened us that the Wise Men came to Jesus when he was a little boy; they certainly weren’t anywhere near the manger in Bethlehem the night He was born. They didn’t get to swap travel stories with the shepherds because they had already returned to their sheep in the fields. The swaddling clothes had already become hand-me-downs as little Jesus wasn’t a baby anymore; indeed, He was a toddler. And how do we know there were three of them? We simply don’t. We’ve just assumed it. Or we’ve blindly followed century’s worth of church traditions. Shame on us! We ought to remove all vestiges of nativity Wise Men, and expunge nearly half of all the beloved Christmas carols we thoughtlessly sing each year at this time. It’s bad enough that we celebrate Old St. Nick, but the three Wise Men? There’s no excuse!
Truth police and fact checkers, you have had your day. You have set us straight. We are clear on the matter now, thanks to you.
But I’d like to suggest that it is appropriate to celebrate the Wise Men at Christmastime. My first reason is proximity. Look at where the narration of the Wise Men is placed in relation to the telling of the birth of Christ in the Gospel account of Matthew. The second chapter (23 verses) is entirely devoted to the story of the Wise Men. Chapter two follows chapter one (profound, right?), which is the genealogy of Christ, and a short account (nine verses) about the birth of Christ. You might argue that the account of the Wise Men actually IS part of the Christmas story merely due to its nearness in position to the rest of the story. The description of the birth of Christ leads right into the story of the Magi.
The other reason I would suggest it is appropriate to remember the Wise Men at Christmastime is suitability. The message of the Wise Men is appropriate at Christmastime. We gain so many valuable lessons from the account. Themes such as worship, seeking and obedience are deeply woven throughout. The lessons of the gifts presented by the Wise Men to Jesus give us much spiritual truth to reflect on. We see two kings; one who is enflamed with deceit, jealousy, rage, madness, and wickedness (demanding worship for himself), and another who is humble, innocent, and worthy of worship. In the end, we discover that the Wise Men are not wise because of their education, intellect, or old age, but rather because they listened to and trusted in God. The spiritual applications appear to be endless, and Christmastime—a time when people, in general, are more open to thinking about spiritual things—is a fitting time to reflect on these truths.
So I say get out your nativity figurines, intermingle those Wise Men with the shepherds! Or do what we do, put them off in the corner—a nearby men’s trio presenting all sorts of springboards for conversations with our children. And don’t cringe when you see the live nativity scene with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, angels, shepherds, Wise Men and donkeys. There’s a message in there for you. Don’t let it be lost on your blood-thirsty desire to critique and uphold, maintain and preserve the truth at all costs. Know the facts, but value the lessons.
(Now… Was the star in the East or in the West?)
Well, there could be. With your help.
Greg Howlett ran a contest in which musicians could send in a recording to be considered for a music competition. The grand prize winner receives a studio recording package, valued at around $6,000.
I entered his contest, and I made the top ten! The rest is up to you. You see, the winner is chosen by voting. Would you considering helping? It just takes a minute. Head on over to the poll and vote for me. I would greatly appreciate it.
Taking a risk will inevitably lead to stirring the pot.
I recently wrote this article about self publishing, which sort of outlined my thinking as to why I would do it. Greg Howlett wrote a blog post about it, as well. My post soon became my most popular on my website. Read them both to get the background for this article (be sure to read the comments section).
So… am I rethinking my decision, based on the title of this post? Not at all. In fact, I’m going forward with greater resolve. But the discussion has helped put some things into perspective, and it has helped me consider some things I hadn’t before. You should consider them too.
So here are my thoughts about why self publishing may not be right for you:
1. You need to have an excellent product.
The best way to attain an excellent product is through education, but beyond that, I can’t think of a better way of honing your skill than gaining experience. Any publisher who knows what they’re doing will have a great editorial process that will certainly contribute to the excellence of your product. I’ve been working with publishers for nearly 15 years. You should, too.
We’ve all seen a self published product that made us cringe because it lacked in excellence. We have wished that they had gone with a publisher who would refine their product. (Maybe they tried to, but no publisher would accept them. And understandably so.)
2. There will be additional investments in product development that you may not be prepared for.
Writing good music isn’t enough. You have to have a spirit of excellence when it comes to all the additional elements involved in self publishing your music: music engraving, graphic design, store front, music delivery, etc. All of these are huge considerations, and if you can’t handle them, then you need to pay to have someone else help you.
(Now you’re beginning to see more value in traditional publishers who handle all that, right?)
3. You will need to have an adequate platform.
Comparatively, my platform is very small. But I do have a good base of people who—for whatever reason—follow my every move (I have learned through the years) and who are interested in what I do. For some reason, God has allowed my music to speak to them (or through them), something that truly humbles me.
Certainly, publishers have contributed to my brand and have served as the sponsors of my art. In many ways, publishers have been a catalyst for my ministry. I really don’t believe I would have even considered self publishing if I didn’t have the privilege to work with publishers.
4. You will (however reluctantly) be forced to market yourself.
Sometimes I cringe at how awful this sounds, but the fact is, you will need to market yourself. It’s a balancing act, and I don’t always get it right. You may be accused of being arrogant or self-serving, but marketing is essential if you think you will have any chance of making any kind of decent profit. In my experience, a traditional publisher will keep 90-95% of the profit, but it will all be used in one way or another to produce and market the final product. This is, yet again, another tremendous advantage with going with a traditional publisher, especially if you are more musically inclined than you are business inclined.
Let me close with two thoughts: one about me, and one for aspiring published musicians. First, I have not arrived in any of these areas. I continually feel as though my product is inferior (and depending on who you talk to, it might be!), and I’m always looking for ways to improve. Though I feel more confident in product development, I know there is room for improvement. My platform is growing, but it is still very small. That’s okay. And I have a lot to learn about marketing. No, I haven’t arrived. So if you thought you were reading an article from an expert, I’m sorry to disappoint. No, I’m just a man on a journey, learning along side of you.
Finally, a note to aspiring published musicians. Whatever route you choose to take in your music publishing pursuits, I strongly recommend you consider initially going through traditional publishers. They will make you into a better musician, and they will give you more opportunities than you would have otherwise experienced. They will take care of all these areas discussed, and you will have the privilege of focusing on your craft. After you’ve traveled the traditional route, then consider other options.
So tell me, where am I going wrong here? What do you think?
We are very excited about our newest arrival, Jacob Erick Koerts, born on May 1st, 2013. So excited that I had to do a blog post about him! (Isn’t that sad?)
He is Koerts baby #4, so there’s a lot of excitement around our house! (As of this writing, our children are ages 7, 5, 2, and 1 day.)
Here are some pictures for your enjoyment:
Mom and baby are doing well!
This week I took a step of courage. I self published a collection of piano arrangements. There is no physical product, just a download that is delivered after it is purchased. (Click here to learn more about it.)
I call it a step of courage because you never know how your music is going to be accepted, if at all. And there doesn’t seem to be a lot of other people out there doing this (at least on their own websites), so that makes it even more nerve-racking.
I’ve had some friends give me great advice, and others who have listened and been very encouraging. Some have asked, Why do this? Don’t you have good relationships with your publishers? What would make you go in this new direction?
It’s true, I do have great relationships with some excellent publishers. I fully intend to maintain those relationships. (You can still count on some great new Koerts arrangements in the near future. I’m excited about them, but I won’t go into detail now.)
I guess it just came down to asking the question, “Why not?”
Here is more of what went into my thinking:
- Okay, I’m not gonna lie. The idea of receiving nearly 100% of the profit (as opposed to the industry standard 10%) interests me. That doesn’t feel like a very ministry minded thing to say, but one of my most important objectives in life is to provide for my family.
- More and more people are using digital music readers. A couple of us at our church use an iPad to read our sheet music. I happen to know of a lot of people who scan or photograph their sheet music so they can use digital devices to read their music. Let’s face it, the future is here.
- I understand that I don’t have the marketing arms that the established publishers boast, but I believe with hard work and patience, I can get there.
- E-books and e-readers have revolutionized the book industry, but I have to wonder when these changes will start to take place in the music industry. (Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t seem to find any composers who are self-publishing piano music, at least digitally.) I have to admit, being on the front end of something that could be big seems like a neat idea.
- I do follow some musicians (vocalists) who publish their own books, and whenever they come out with something new, I instantly desire to purchase it because I believe it can be helpful in my ministry. If I could do the same for others, I would be humbled and thrilled.
So there you have a little inside baseball about this decision. And so far, it’s been good. I haven’t sold millions yet, but I’ve been pleased with how well it’s been received. And… I have many more ideas for future projects.
What do you think? Am I just crazy? Or is there something to this? Leave a comment below.
Don’t expect something spiritual here, or musical. Just a word to the wise.
It was the day after thanksgiving, 2004, just a few days after Beth and I had announced our engagement. We were in love, and so I agreed to go stand in line with her at a heinous wee hour in the morning for a chance to get some pretty amazing deals. (I think it was a laptop at Best Buy for $200. Just amazing.)
So there we were, in Jacksonville, Florida, with a bunch of people who had been there much longer than us, waiting until the store opened. What we didn’t know then, and didn’t find out until much later in the morning, is that they had already passed out papers to all those wanting that $200 computer, and the last papers had been passed out. There wasn’t even a chance to get this amazing deal. By the time we learned this little fact, we were told to stick it out, because there was a chance we still might get the laptop.
So we did.
By around noon, they had been passing out $200 laptops all morning, and we were getting closer in the line. We were encouraged because there were a few ahead of us that didn’t have a paper, and they still got the laptop. But then, something horrible happened. The couple in front of us received the very last one. Can you believe it?! We waited in line all morning. I mean, ALL morning! And we had nothing to show for it. It was a major disappointment.
My wife has since become a better Black Friday shopper. Not me. I chose to never participate again!
What about you? What’s your Black Friday nightmare? Please tell me about it.
I was recently asked to speak on family worship at our church. I was overwhelmed with the opportunity, and eager to share what God had taught me as I studied this important area of worship.
We first discussed what real worship is (and what it isn’t). Then we spent a good deal of time discussing how we are to worship (in spirit and in truth, John 4:24). I concluded with the thought that if this isn’t happening on a personal level, then chances are it’s not happening in the family. And if this is the case, then by extension, it’s likely not happening on the corporate level.
If we are going to see dynamic, heart-felt, fully involved worship in our church services, I believe worship must be found in our families (and ultimately, in our personal lives).
Here are a few tips and ideas for meaningful family worship. By no means do I think this is an exhaustive list. I just wanted to give a few ideas to help encourage our families to action. I hope they’ll help your family as you seek to put God first, and honor him in the area of worship.
Develop an attentive eye for God through everyday experiences.
Otherwise known as God-moments. He’s at work all around us. Nature. Circumstances. Challenges. You name it, the hand of God can be seen in it. You just have to look.
If your young children have questions about God, do your best to acknowledge them and answer them. Intentionally draw life applications through difficult family situations. Ask your children what various events and activities teach us about God.
Cultivate a thirst for God through regular family worship.
In our home, we call this devotions. We usually get ready for bed, then all meet in the living room. (Often we’ll have the children bring out their bean bags; we like to make it a real fun, enjoyable and natural time.) Then we read a passage and talk about it together.
For small children, I highly recommend a book that our family has recently discovered: Long Story Short. (You can find it here.) This book has breathed new life into our family devotional time. Older children and teens might enjoy this DVD series I’ve recently come across, which I also highly recommend.
There are many things you can do together in this setting. We have been known to read the Bible, share testimonies, talk about hard things mommy and daddy have gone through and share corresponding biblical truth, read a missionary story and sing together favorite songs that our children have learned in church. It’s not rocket science.
Our goal is to be consistent with it. We live in an extremely busy life. (Doesn’t everybody?) So we often will only meet a few times a week. Our desire is that our children will gain a heart for God, and that their desire to learn more about him will compel them to want to partake in family worship.
Encourage courageous faith through eager expectancy.
What do I mean by this? Well, do you expect God to work on your behalf? Or do you live your life without any real desire to see God move and answer prayer? We can evidence to our children that we are expecting God to work on our behalf and for our good by developing a consistent prayer life that expects the Lord to answer. He may not always answer the way we expect (or want), but he is at work. This is the vision I want to set for my children: that we can pray in accordance with his will, and he will answer. I call it, “praying down fire from heaven.”
I’m not merely referring to having strong faith, or making it so by saying it so. I’m talking about exhibiting complete trust in a great big God who can do anything. We do this in the little things, like praying for a good parking spot at the shopping center, or asking God to provide a particular toy that the kids would like. There have been many times when God miraculously worked on our behalf—often in small ways—and we were able to share with the children how God had answered our prayers.
If we want our children to walk by faith, we need to be willing to do so ourselves. Let’s set the tone.
Nurture an excitement for corporate worship through faithful example.
Do your children say, “Oh! Do we have to go to church again?” Or do they say, “Yay! We get to go to church again!” I’m not sure I know of any children who say the latter, but I think it should be somewhere in between.
I am convicted about this whenever we prepare for a family vacation. Our family loves vacation! When we are getting ready, we talk about it a lot, and it’s easy to generate excitement among our children. We need to be doing the same thing with church.
If your example is a slouched posture in worship, if you are uninterested or preoccupied during worship, then you are setting a poor example for your children. We need to make worship a priority, partly because God is seeking worshipers (John 4:23), but also because as believers, it is an activity that we will be participating in all throughout eternity. When it is a priority in our lives, it will be a priority in our family’s life.
I’d love to hear your take on this. What are some ways you have been able to make your family worship meaningful?
I’ve been privileged to serve in the ministry for twelve years, the last five being at my current church. How to approach Easter Sunday has always been a hot topic of conversation.
For years we put a special emphasis on our Sunday morning services. We knew this was when most of our worshipers would attend, so it just made sense to focus the majority of our attention on these services. I would typically select a 30 minute cantata with narration and congregational singing, then our pastor would have the rest of the service. Read more…
I’m excited about this year’s Easter program. But then, I get excited at just about everything we do at our church!
This program, entitled “I Stand Redeemed,” is an adaptation of a musical (Brentwood) called “Then Came the Morning.” The program is a collection of songs and narration, with an optional drama available for free download on their site. It is the powerful drama which was the compelling factor in deciding to choose this program. This is the second year we are doing this Easter production (more about that later), so not only were we familiar with it, but we were able to adapt it to fit our theme. Read more…
Below is an audio interview I did with Paul Schmutzler at Piano Animato. He was interested in my background, and some of the creative processes involved in arranging music. Enjoy!
I’d like to see more commercials like this (which aired on Saturday evening, January 14th, 2012) on television:
The Bach Cello Suites are some of my favorite music. But you have to hear this take on one of the more popular songs. I just recently came across this video produced by The Piano Guys, and thought you might enjoy the level of creativity.
Recently I took my three children to a local play land at a fast food restaurant. It was a chance for me to get the children away from the house on a rainy day, and it gave my wife a nice break.
Towards the beginning of our time, I observed a father who was hollering at his boys. They weren’t even doing anything wrong; they were just annoying him. One of them had trouble with his shorts falling down, and the dad blew up at him about it. He kept losing his temper, saying, “Get over here! Right now!” Then, another one spilled drink down his shirt. That was the end. His dad ripped into him and said things like, “Now look what you did. Now I have to change your shirt!”
The dad’s behavior was embarrassing.
Then, towards the end of our time, there was a child who was being mean to my children. (Let’s just say there was blood, and lots of tears.) Now, my children can sometimes play a little rough, so when they are the ones being roughed up, I tend to be very forgiving, mainly because I know how it feels to be the parent of a rowdy child. After I consoled my kids, I observed the mother’s behavior. She simply took her son, held him, and said, “You are not allowed to play any more.” She was gracious, apologetic to me, and calm with her child. She didn’t raise her voice, yet she still dealt with the injustice that took place.
Even though her son might have been acting like a holy terror, this mother’s behavior was commendable.
It was good for me to see that. As I seek a proper balance in my parenting (not authoritative, and not permissive), it’s helpful to be handed some real-life experiences to observe.
This past weekend our church hosted a parenting conference. It was—hands down—the best conference I’ve ever attended, probably in large part due to the fact that it was extremely practical and helpful for my current situation as a father of three young children. I gained many valuable insights from the conference, but one truth that really hit me was the reminder that we are to lead by example. This is an obvious element of leadership, and an important part of parenting.
In a recent office reorganization, I came across a paper that was handed to me by a former colleague at a Christian school where I taught music. This teacher had asked his students to write a paragraph about one teacher they wanted to be like when they grew up, and why. One student chose me. It was a very interesting paper. My fellow teacher gave me the paper, and he wrote at the bottom, “You are being watched.”
I kept that paper, not just because the student was a smart kid (anyone who wants to be like me is smart, after all), but because it’s a reminder that I am being watched. My testimony matters. What I do and say is being observed. I’m not an island to myself.
It’s important to remember that we each have influence. There’s a fella I run into regularly who continually reminds me of the influence I have on his children and others. Honestly, it kind of scares me. At the very least it keeps me in check and reminds me that my faithfulness to God not only matters to me, but it matters to a whole lot of other people.
In the end, our goal as Christians is to be like Christ (the perfect example). Let’s further purpose to encourage those within the scope of our influence to be like Christ, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than by being the right kind of example.
I recently saw this shocking video online. The video itself is not shocking; it’s the message that is.
To fully understand it, you might want to read this scripture first:
The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be (James 3:8-10).
I guess a better question is, Could this be me? It kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?
Our church recently presented a special service that we called the Tender Mercies Service. It was an opportunity for the church to be reminded about God’s greatness and care for His children during our difficulties and trials. It was a memorable service. I’ve provided it here for you to watch.
So in my quest for the perfect look for my website, I updated my blog design with the Standard Theme. Nothing short of awesomeness, I believe. Simple, and sweet. It’s still being tweaked, but the basic concept is in place. What do you think about it?
For you blogging and website design techies, the internal debate I commonly hold involves whether I should have a “static” front page, with merely a link to the blog, or have the main page be the blog. For now I have chosen to put the blog on the main page. For one, I use this site quite a bit to inform you, the reader, of new songs available, and when I’m not doing that, well, I’m blogging. So it just sort of made sense to keep the blog front and center. If you look around, you can still find the free piano songs (which are wildly popular), and the choral music listing. (Be forewarned, the next sentence contains a shameless plug.) And, yes, there’s still a link to that piano CD, which is still available for purchase or download.
Speaking of internal debates regarding blogging, on occasion I admittedly have questioned my motives for blogging. What is, in fact, the reason I even have a website? I suppose it wouldn’t be entirely truthful to say that it’s not about self-promotion. I am, indeed, promoting what I do. (I’d like to think that at least one or two sales of my music were made as a result of this website.) But it’s my prayer that I promote what I do with the motive of being an encouragement to you and your ministry. So I guess I view this website as an act of service, a part of my ministry.
In the final analysis, if there’s anything good that comes from this website, it’s not because of me. It’s because of Christ.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
People often ask me how I have time to write music and keep my day job. (I don’t think I write all that much music; but I guess some people think I do.) It’s true: you make time for what you enjoy. And I enjoy writing music. Truthfully, it’s my No. 1 hobby.
The main thing that keeps me excited about writing music is the fact that I often get to see it be used in a specific way. Whether it’s being sung by our choir or an ensemble, or being played by our instrumental ensemble, or even as a solo, it’s just enjoyable to write something you know is going to be used in a tangible way.
Occasionally I will write a song for a specific publisher, or for a specific project that may never involve me actually using the piece. But my most inspiring music usually comes when I’m creating for the groups and ensembles that I serve with on a regular basis.
If you have the bug for writing music, I’d encourage you to write music for whatever groups you have the opportunity to be a part of. Use them as your “guinea pigs.” Make it an enjoyable experience. Encourage feedback and suggestions. You never know how helpful it might be. (I once completely changed a section of a song based on a random suggestion from a friend.)
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