Reflections of a Broken Man

On Music by StephenMac
January 29, 2009, 11:13 am
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , ,

*currently listening to Paramore: The Final Riot!*

I love music… I really wish I was a more skilful muso so that I could actually use the term to describe myself without feeling like a tryhard, and also to justify the sheer constancy of the stuff coming out of my speakers…

It was during high school where I learnt that songs actually had meaning. You couldn’t just like music for “music” sake, the lyrics were just as important. I’ve used the excuse that “I just listen to it for the beat, I don’t listen to the lyrics”, and then found myself singing along to the song…

Music is important: it expresses what you feel more often, better than you can express it. Music expresses your inner most desires and feelings, music that you love will be the music that “strikes a chord with you” (excuse the pun). Not only does music express what you feel, but you will often feel what music expresses: it’s a two way street. You will be influenced by the type of music that you listen to (Nirvana, though musically brilliant, always depresses me).

And so, the meaning of songs is important (a fact that is not lost on many of the readers here who have found this blog by searching for song meanings). I may be preaching to the converted, so to speak, but we need to be aware of the music that we listen to. 


I write this, pretty much because I bought the Paramore album. Some of you may know this band, others may not ( There is a song called Misery Business which is quite a sad song, but musically awesome. Yet, as you begin to get into it, singing along to the chorus, you find yourself taking God’s name in vain…

No, I never meant to brag… but i got him where i want him now.
Oh it was never my intention to brag…
to steal it all away from you now
But God does it feel so good cause I got him where I want him now
if you could then you know you would
cause God it just feels so…
It’s just feels so good.

What do you do?!? Hayley (writer of this song) has already produced an explanation for this lyric, which I quote in part below (from Paramore’s LiveJournal blog)

i’m ashamed to say that, although i’m a believer in Jesus Christ and i claim him as my God, when i wrote those lyrics i wasn’t addressing him. i was using his name casually. in vain, to be blunt….

i don’t want to be held accountable for being the cause of so many people using his name in vain. you don’t have to believe in what i believe and no one in Paramore is ever going to go around forcing our faith into people’s lives… but believer or not, i might have led some of ya’ll to believe that i take my saviour lightly. and i don’t. …

when i sing those lines that i used to sing in vain, i mean them in a different way. i don’t want to opportunity to be held responsible for causing a lot of people to use my God’s name in vain. so, whether or you not you believe in Christ. whether or not you care if it means something when you say God. just know that as for me, when I am singing those lines, i’m telling God that it feels good to stand up for myself and be victorious after long months of confusion and pain. i don’t hurt the same way anymore.

Please read the post in full, because I don’t want to misrepresent her. And for the cohenrecord, who am I to criticise… I’m no better. My point is this: Unless you think hard about the lyrics, unless you are critical about what you are singing along to, you could end up like me taking God’s name in vain. 

This is why I love Paramore’s “We Are Broken“. In the live version, you hear the passion of the lyrics, you know that this song means something genuine to the singer.

For Paramore’s “Hallelujah”, they begin with singing “hallelujah” from Leanard Cohen. Never heard of him? It’s his song that is sung in Shrek. Here’s another song you need to be careful about… Cohen’s song is quite misleading: it sounds hymnal and nice, but have a look at the lyric changes (h/t BBC for an insightful article):


1984 version 1988 version

Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby, I’ve been here before.
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor.
I used to live alone before I knew you.
Yeah I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch,
But listen, love is not some kind of victory march,
No it’s a cold and it’s a very broken Hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time you let me know
What’s really going on below,
Ah but now you never show it to me, do you?
Yeah but I remember, yeah when I moved in you,
And the holy dove, she was moving too,
Yes every single breath that we drew was Hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

Maybe there’s a God above,
As for me, all I’ve ever seemed to learn from love
Is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.
Yeah but it’s not a complaint that you hear tonight,
It’s not the laughter of someone who claims to have seen the light
No it’s a cold and it’s a very lonely Hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

I did my best, it wasn’t much.
I couldn’t feel, so I learned to touch.
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come all this way to fool you.
Yeah even tough it all went wrong
I’ll stand right here before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

Now I don’t know about you, but neither of these version I think I would be comfortable singing…

A long winded post, but something that was on my thoughts… would love yours…


Alas and did my Saviour Bleed by StephenMac
January 18, 2009, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Reflections, Sermons | Tags: , , ,


I posted this song after preaching on getting Christ right… we sang it immediately after the sermon, and it just seemed to hit the right notes (excuse the pun). I remember hearing that there is something about the traditional hymns, that in a few short verses, they convey sooo much theology; something that is curiously lacking much of the modern Christian music. This song, arranged and performed by the Morrows, is also really awesome musically. It’s expresses both the grief of the death of Christ, the shame that we feel as sinners, and the joy and hope that we have because he died and rose again, that we have because we are redeemed.

I feel somewhat vain posting sermons online, as it sometimes feels like I do it for my own gratification, but some people actually find it useful. But that’s God’s hand at work there, not mine. So may God use this his way:



Alas, and did my Saviour bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head
For such a one as I?
His body slain before its time
His head was bathed in blood
He bore the mark of wrath divine
While in my place he stoodcross copy

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in
When Christ, the mighty Maker died
For man the creature’s sin
Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity, grace unknown
And love beyond degree!

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While his dear cross appears
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness
And melt my eyes to tears
But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe
Here, Lord, I give my self away
‘Tis all that I can do

Words: Isaac Watts (1674-1748);
Additional lyrics: Michael Morrow;
Music: Traditional, arranged Michael Morrow
©2008 Michael Morrow

*h/t for pic… slightly edited*

“You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” by StephenMac
January 14, 2009, 11:05 am
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , ,

*currently streaming “Riot!” off the Paramore website… We Are Broken is a fantastic song*

“You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Mark 8:33

So I am currently trying to get on top of my sermon for this Sunday, and the more you read a passage, the more it impacts you. Yea, I know… why am I blogging instead of sermonising? I wanted to clarify and share some thoughts…

What do the things of God look like?

34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

cross copy2

Here is love: here is the care and selflessness that is required of all Christians. The absolute trust to devote everything to the God who provides all. To deny yourself, to stop putting your worries/fears/concerns/priorities first, and start putting God’s there. A harsh rebuke… a challenging application. It hurts: to be able to pray with all conviction and honesty “Yet not as I will, but as You will.

I am preaching this to my congregation, and yet it has to apply to myself first… it hurts.

(h/t CreativeMYK for pic… poorly edited)


Home by StephenMac
January 12, 2009, 10:43 am
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , ,

*currently listening to “Define the Great Line” – Underoath. I think it matches my mood this morning… The Leeland album I recently acquired just doesn’t seem to feel right at this moment*

Yeah I know, it’s been a while since my last post. And the last one was merely the posting of lyrics, so it doesn’t really count as a post either…. I seriously play too much WoW

It became apparent to me these holidays, Christmas/New Year, that I lack love. I’m told to love my neighbour as myself, but what does “love” actually mean? Love is not that soppy bull that society would have us believe. Love is not that lustful crap that magazines and TV shows and movies and games want us to have. Love is care. Taking time out to make sure that you are serving others. Loving your neighbour as yourself means that you are spending your time/resources/etc on other people, just as much as yourself. I was chewed out (and rightfully so) for being unloving.

I did not love my family, becuase I didn’t spend time with them. I did not love my church family, because I would leave my sermons, my leading preparation, my kids talk, to the last minute, forget to turn up on time, and do things really poorly. I did not love because I spent time doing the selfish or mechanical things, and not the selfless and personal things. Like leaving setup for evening service so that I can be welcoming to the new person, who obviously needed someone to talk to. But I didn’t. Because I suck.

I tried this week… I really did. I planned things in advance. I made sure that I set time out to be prepared. And still I screw up. I was not loving, and the evening service reflected a loveless place… Church should not make me feel like crap… and yet…

I feel responsible. But I don’t know what to do. I know there are a million and one things that I could improve. But sometimes I feel that it would require me to put every spare moment I have into it. Maybe I should. But I then feel like I miss out on other things… the fear of burn-out haunts me…

Why do I feel like crap? I think the root cause of it all is my lovelessness. There is just so much that needs to be done. I need an attitude adjustment, but I fear for myself (selfishness).

“When life is in discord, praise Ye, the LORD”