Reflections of a Broken Man


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

**EDIT**

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:
http://www.mediafire.com/stephenmac

EBHG

*h/t http://morrowmusic.com/#3*

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 http://s3.amazonaws.com/creativemyk.com/2190.jpg for pic… slightly edited*

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Too Bright To See, Too Loud To Hear by StephenMac
December 12, 2008, 9:18 am
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , ,

Lost in the Sound of SeparationIt’s been quite a while since I last posted here… first exams, then my laptop’s wireless not working, and then WoW… probably the latter is the most prominent reason. Anyhow, while doing some Christmas shopping, I came across Underoath’s latest album, Lost in the Sounds of Separation. Having not listened to much screamo music of late (Define the Great Line being the only one that I listen to regularly…) at first hear, this album was rough… Yet, after listening to it quite a few times, it begins to grow on you… For some reason, my albums always require repeated listening session before I start liking them. But one song really struck me: Too Bright to See, Too Loud to Hear. I love this song, not only because (a) it has minimal screaming, and (b) musically it’s great, but also because it has a fantastic message. I think the songs that I love are the ones that actually require thought and have real meaning. Sure, the typical pop love song may be great, but the songs that hit home are the ones that mean something.

Good God, if your song leaves our lips
If your work leaves our hands
Then we will be wonders and vagabonds
They will stare and say how empty we are
How the freedom we had turned us up as dead men
Let us be cold, make us weak
Let us, because we all have ears
Let us, because we all have eyes
Good God!
How they knew that this would happen
they knew, they knew that this would!
We’re so run down
Good God! Can you still get us home?
How can we still get home?
I’m not dreaming
We’re forgetting our forgiveness

I don’t think that this one needs commentary, so I recommend that you find a copy to listen to!

EBHG



A Man is Coming in Thirteen-one by StephenMac
October 29, 2008, 7:26 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , ,

Since posting the lyrics of Miserabile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum), there have been a number of people who like me, have google-searched the meaning of the phrase “A Man is Coming in Thirteen-One”. There are quite a few thoughts out there, and there is one in particular where the person has gone through and referenced nearly every line. There are some thoughts on that interpretation that I am still unsure about, but have a look if you want. I thought I might post some thoughts on this lyric, from a most awesome song.

**NOTE** As an afterthought, this appears to be a long and detailed post. For those who hate details, scroll down to the **IMPORTANT SECTION**

The Context: Here’s the bridge, repeated twice.

A man is coming in thirteen-one
To charm the daughters and the sons
Scared for our lives, I turned to your hand
Hold this tight while we run, if we still can

It’s actually best if you see this in context. On both occasions, “a man” is mentioned in the line before. The first time, the phrase is “A man who was raised up in the sea”, the second being “a man from the seven hills”.

The Reference: Thirteen-One by online consensus seems to be Revelation 13:1. This fits with the general tone of the song, being about the end, and so the assumption for the moment bears out. Revelation 13:1 is this:

Revelation 13:1  And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. He had 10 horns and seven heads. On his horns were 10 diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names.

anberlin2_1280x1024 So where is the man? In light of the first use of this stanza, in the context of “a man who was raised up in the sea” we could speculate that Anberlin are drawing the two images together. But that’s just guess work isn’t it? Well, Revelation is what is called an “apocalypse”. The word means a revelation or viewing of some previously unknown information. Revelation is therefore an unveiling of previously unknown things. The content is quite mindblowing though, it’s the end of history, the big Finale. And so that we can understand it a bit better, God reveals the information through imagery. So we could make the case for the beast being an image that represents some reality. We must be wary however of being too allegorical and saying that for every image, there is a corresponding “reality”. This is the limit that keeps our interpretation in check.

Revelation 13 in its wider context is about a series of characters who come to persecute the Church, the Christians who hold Jesus Christ as Lord. They blaspheme or mock/misuse the name of God, they kill people and they “deceive” people (Rev. 13:14). Perhaps from this idea, we can see the second line of the stanza – “To charm the daughters and the sons”. This would probably also fit in with the “fear” aspect: “Scared for our lives, I turned to your hand; Hold this tight while we run, if we still can”

At this point, we look at the second time this stanza is mentioned, in the context of the man from “Seven Hills”. While we could see that because the number seven recurs, the seven hills is the same as the seven heads of the beast, this is not a good enough reason. Seven Hills is another way for referring to Rome, which was founded on seven hills. This is significant, as Revelation can be seen through a political lens. As such, Revelation also could be interpreted as a political treatise against “Babylon”. If you were being persecuted, it’s not wise to draw attention to yourself by attacking the persecutor with a political letter against them. Anti-language is used, and as such, it is common for “Babylon” to be used for “Rome”. Hence, the man from seven hills could be a direct reference to the persecution from Rome. “Coincidentally” there is a passage in Daniel where the image of a beast is again thought of to be “Rome”. Drawing on these thoughts, it is more than possible that the seven-headed beast is Rome.

What does this mean for the man? What does Rome have to do with the man mentioned earlier? Well, Rome is the epitome of evil, everything that God would hate, and which hates God in turn. The two are polar opposites. As such, Rome could be described as an instrument of Satan, the one who fights against God. However, we are not talking about a dualistic eternal struggle between “good” and “bad”. God tells us that this war is won, but not yet over: there are residual conflicts even though the outcome is already decided. Back to topic however, as the man is now the reality behind the image of the beast. He is the one who deceiving people, who is killing people, who putting people to flight. Identity? Perhaps Satan himself, perhaps his agent the Anti-Christ, I’m not sure which. new_surrender_wallpaper copy

**IMPORTANT PART**

“A man is coming in thirteen-one” is a reference to the one who in the end times will persecute and deceive mankind, particularly Christians. Most probably the antichrist. But don’t leave it there. Because whatever Anberlin meant (I give my opinion, but it is by no means certain), they make a clear plea in their chorus.

What disasters may come
Whatever it may be
At the end of the age
It will land you and me
What tragedy may bring
Whatever may fall
The end of the world
You’ll still belong

Yes, the end times will be more than a tragedy, it will be a nightmarish hell. Filled with fear and suffering. Yet there is a hope. Whatever happens, you’ll still belong. Belong to what? The other part of the chorus is this

Look children to the eastern sky
When you hear the voice say your last goodbyes
Look there to the eastern skies
When the ghosts take hold of the men who died
Look children to the eastern sky
When your fathers weep and your mothers cry
Look children to the eastern sky

Children is a term often used by the author of Revelation as a way to refer to the family of believers in Christ. This is their hope: look to the eastern sky (where the sun rises). Look to the dawning of a new day. The day when Christ will return, and finally defeat the man in thirteen one. The day when suffering and horror of this life will end. I now ask you a personal question. Will you belong? Where do you stand on that last day?

EBHG



Miserabile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum) by StephenMac
October 13, 2008, 8:55 am
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , ,

The final song off “New Surrender” by Anberlin. Online consensus is Rev. 13:1 is the driving image behind the song. Not too bad for a band who has just gone mainstream. IMG_0477 - CopyAwesome musically, and the content is an important reminder of what we are moving towards. Our sermon last night was on God’s guidance, finishing off a series on Listening to God Speak. The message was last night, keep your eyes on the prize, and your feet on the path. It was a strong reminder that as Christians, we are moving towards a goal – heaven – and that every choice we make must be aiding our journey there. “A man is coming in thirteen-one“. He’s gonna try and sway us from this goal. Keep your feet on the path. Keep your eyes on the goal – Christ. “Look children to the eastern sky” because that’s where the sun (Son) comes from each morning.

I was just reading the online community discussing the meaning of this song. The lead singer of this band Anberlin, Stephen Christian, is a man with nothing short of sheer lyrical brilliance. Someone made a comment that that final song of their last album (*Fin) made much of the motif of the “Patron Saint of Lost Causes”, which is supposedly Jude’s (author of the book of Jude) title. Supposedly. But interesting that Christian’s last song has made the progression from Jude to Revelation – well I think it’s cool, layers upon layers of meaning. Great to see it in the mainstream music media.

new_surrender_wallpaper copy

A red priest broke into our classroom
Caught us children by attention
“Listen closely to the words I speak
Lord knows if we’ll ever, ever again meet”

Spoke such words never spoken before
On the way he declared there were
Miracles like you’ve never seen
From a man who was raised up in the sea

A man is coming in thirteen-one
To charm the daughters and the sons
Scared for our lives, I turned to your hand
Hold this tight while we run, if we still can

What disasters may come
Whatever it may be
At the end of the age
It will land you and me
What tragedy may bring
Whatever may fall
The end of the world
You’ll still belong

Before the red priest took his last breath
He told me, “Child, now don’t forget
The sun will turn dark very soon
Your days are numbered when there’s blood on the moon

“The earth will shake and the sky will fall
The eyes will open of those involved
Don’t take this son, but you’ll be killed
By the man from seven hills”

A man is coming in thirteen-one
To charm the daughters and the sons
Scared for our lives, I turned to your hand
Hold this tight while we run, if we still can

What disasters may come
Whatever it may be
At the end of the age
It will land you and me
What tragedy may bring
Whatever may fall
At the end of the world
You’ll still belong

Look children to the eastern sky
When you hear the voice say your last goodbyes
Look there to the eastern skies
When the ghosts take hold of the men who died
Look children to the eastern sky
When your fathers weep and your mothers cry
Look children to the eastern sky

What disasters may come
Whatever it may be
At the end of the age
It will land you and me
What tragedy may bring
Whatever may fall
At the end of the world
You’ll still belong

Look children to the eastern sky
When you hear the voice say your last goodbyes
Look there to the eastern skies
When the ghosts take hold of the men who died
Look children to the eastern sky
When your fathers weep and your mothers cry
Look children to the eastern sky
Look children to the eastern sky



Latest Acquisition by StephenMac
September 21, 2008, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , ,

So I bought Switchfoot’s Oh! Gravity album this week. I was struck about the similarities in style of certain songs to other bands. Circles sounds like a track off a DC Talk album (yes HK, I will repent of that sin 😛 ) while Yesterdays has a very Coldplay feel (think X&Y style). But by far, my favourite song has to be Faust, Midas and Myself:

This one’s about a dream
I had last night
How an old man tracked me home
And stepped inside
Put his foot inside the door
And gave a crooked smile
Something in his eyes
Something in his laugh
Something in his voice
That made my skin crawl off

Said I’ve seen you here before
I know your name
How you could have your pick
Of pretty things
You could have it all
Everything at once
Everything you’ve seen
Everything you’ll need
Everything you’ve ever had in fantasies

You’ve one life, You’ve one life
You’ve one life left to lead
You have one life, You have one life
You’ve life left to lead

I woke up from my dream
As a golden man
With a girl I’ve never seen
With Golden skin
I jumped up to my feet
She asked me what was wrong
I began to scream
I don’t think this is me
Is this just a dream
Or really happening?

You’ve one life, You’ve one life
You’ve one life left to lead
You’ve one life, You’ve one life
One life left to lead
What direction? What direction?

I’m splitting up, I’m splitting up
This is my personal disaffection!
What direction? What direction?
What direction now?

I looked outside the glassohgravity
At golden shores
Golden ships and masts
With golden cords
As my reflection passed
I hated what I saw
The Golden eyes were dead
A thought passed through my head
A heart that’s made of gold can’t really beat at all
I wanted to wake up again
I wanted to wake up again
Without a touch of gold
Without a touch of gold

What direction? What direction?
Life begins at the intersection
What direction? What direction?
What direction now?

I woke up as before
But the gold was gone
My wife was at the door
With a night robe on
My heart beat once or twice
And life flooded my veins
Everything had changed
My lungs had found their voice
And what was once routine
Was now the perfect joy

You’ve one life, You’ve one life
One life left to lead
You’ve one life, You’ve one life
One life left to lead

I can’t stand the fact that HSC English has made me dissect and analyse every song I listen to, but this song I think has quite a clear message. The first verse looks at “Faust”, the man who sold his soul to the Devil for knowledge. The second to verses look at Midas, and his golden world…. no I’m not gonna do this. Enjoy this awesome song!

EBHG