Thursday, March 22, 2018

Palm Sunday Week 2018 - Song Story: "Right There"

About 20 years ago, there happened to be some moments of great pain and difficulty for some of the closest people to my wife Rhonda and I.  There were no easy answers to the situation and really no words that could be said that would make things better.  The wounds and the sorrow of the moment could only be healed by the One who is "the light and life of every soul and my only source of hope." (A Guide To Prayer, Page 136).  But even those words could be considered empty if we don't understand the lengths that the Giver of Light went through to heal the relationship between God and humanity.  Palm Sunday begins what we know as Holy Week.  In this week Jesus would feel and suffer every possible human emotion.  

Palm Sunday, Jesus enters Jerusalem as the loved, conquering hero.  He is cheered and celebrated greater than any Super Bowl winning quarterback or rock star.  Shouts of "Hosanna" (glory, save us, hallelujah, praise the Lord) ring out!  But as tends to happen in this world, people who are bringing great systemic change to the world (what what greater change could there ever be) are torn down by those that want to keep power, keep things the way they are, or simply just don't understand what they are doing.  And so in the next seven days, Jesus goes from the highest of highs, to quiet time with his closest friends (eating a meal with expressions of love and betrayal), to cries and prayers of anguish and loneliness in the garden.  Next would come arrest, false accusations, public scorn and rejection, and death on the cross.  We know what happens on the third day but we will leave that for next week.  

The point of it all is that this is the plan that God put into place from the beginning of time.  The Father, Son and Holy Spirit reintroduces humanity to the love of the creator in a way that says, "I understand, I am with you, I am not distant, I will never leave you, I am right there."  

For our friends, in a moment of prayer and playing along with my guitar, this song "Right There" came out of a "thin place" with God.  There was this great sense that I was to give this song to them as a reminder that, in the midst of ups and downs, moments of feeling major swings from a rock of stability to unstable shaking ground, God is right there.  It's been used in many different ways through many different seasons of our church.  It has been sung much better by different people throughout the years, but for now it is a mix down of live tracks that we recorded years ago, and a demo lead vocal that I have recently recorded.  I hope that in seasons of wounds and healing, sorrows and joys that you are reminded God is Right There!

Click on the link below to get to the song "Right There" on SoundCloud

Free download: Right There

Thursday, March 1, 2018

March 1, 2018: Songs for Lent 2018 - New Mercies

So here we are, approaching the third Sunday of Lent, and in the Guide to Prayer book that we use here at CCM, and for churches throughout the world, the theme is “Thirsting For God.”  One of the readings this week is from Henri Nouwen.  In it he says, “Listen to my desire to be with you, to dwell in Your house and to let my whole being be filled with Your presence.”  The season of Lent can inspire us to truly thirst after and have excitement for knowing more about the risen Christ and allowing transformation to happen within us.  To seek out and to realize the new mercies that were made evident for us on the cross and that show up every morning.

I’ve got a new version of my main blog picture on this post here today.  It shows my thisting and zeal as a little kid.  I wanted to chase after and be like my uncles and aunts and in particular when it came to playing guitar, like my uncles Jim and John (I’ve cut off the head of the particular uncle in the picture to protect the bell bottom wearer.)  To me at that young age they had a certain joy and excitement for life, and were just a blast to be around (until the “stop hitting yourself” game went too far).  I just knew, in whatever limited view I really had of their lives, that there was something that felt connected, good, and well... like pure family.

In the season of Lent, God shows the lengths to which he is willing to go to bring His family back together.  The Trinity (Father, Son and Spirit) working together to draw all people, to show new mercies, to help quench the thirst of those longing for relationship, restoration and transformation within the family of God.

I thought I would share a song demo tthat I recorded several years ago called “New Mercies” today.  One of the lines in the bridge says; “Hope springs up this precious morning.  All creation’s been made new.”

I hope you enjoy this free song today!!! 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

40 Days - walking in the footsteps with music and reflection

In 2011, our church Crossroads Church and Ministries put together a compilation called "The Road" that was our version of the ancient Stations of The Cross.  The Stations are a way for followers and seekers of Christ to experience what Jesus went through on the road to the cross.  As we prepare our hearts for Lent, and this 40 day experience that this year we are calling "40 days - walking in the footsteps" I thought I would share a song from "The Road" that I wrote called - "You Were Led."  It was God's great love that led him to the cross on the hill; no person, no group of people.  Jesus was constantly reminding us of the great love God has for all of creation and our need for relationship; relationship with God, relationship with one another and the never-ending love that is attached to them.   The words of this song attempt to tell that story.  "Even though like sheep we were led astray, You were led to the hill."

Here is a SoundCloud link to the track and I'm also including the chord chart for anyone that would like to use it.

You Were Led chord chart

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Community Thoughts for Kids and Parents: Injustice or Selfishness

There is something very dangerous that happens when we decide to go about on our own way simply for the desire to do it our own way.  There definitely are moments where it is time to throw off the shackles of oppression and do things that are correct in a higher calling kind of way.  It’s important to follow a dream, strike off on a new path, take the road less traveled.  But when the only purpose of that road is to get exactly what we want - then we have accomplished nothing.  Maybe the only thing that we can do that is worse than that is when we encourage our children to do the same thing.  
Our kids from the moment they come out of the womb will want what is coming to them.  They will cry for it, whine for it, demand it, fight us for it.  (I don’t mean at every moment of the day of course.  I have four of the most amazing young people in the world living in my house and I can tell you that we are all learning to live together in community every day)  It is up to us to point out, to direct them to the things that are really worth fighting for.  In their teen years they will come to us with their perceived great injustice.  Sometimes they will be right and the tyrant will be us (me) and we will recognize our humanity and change our own perspective.  Occasionally it will be a teacher, a boss, a coach and it will be our job to help determine if it truly is an injustice, a false truth, that is worth helping them in how to properly bring change to something that is not working the best way that it could.  But just as likely it will be an error on our child’s part that we can help bring a life-long lesson to.  If we are the brave strong parents that we hope to be, we will show how and where we disagree with them.  We will explain how we agree with the teacher, the boss, the coach and describe to them how we agree that the best thing for them, for their class, their team is to listen, to change, to do the thing that feels harder and more personally unjust because they are not the only person in their community.  
There are others, living together in community, (whether that community is a classroom, a team, a city) that need their connection, not their disruption.  The greatest danger is when we as parents (and I include myself in this) decide that it is better to give my child whatever she/he wants rather than consider what it might do their small community, their school, their grade, their class, their team.  The best thing when we don’t get our way is not to take our toys, go home and just start our own game.  It’s to figure out what or whom it is we are having such a problem with and fix that thing, or at least fix our attitude towards that thing.  If we haven’t taught our child how to navigate that, then I don’t think there are many useful tools that we have given them. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cutting the Inspiration That Is Focus:Hope

I woke up this morning to an article in the Detroit Free Press that is disturbing to me.  There are certainly enough bad news articles out there but this one is personally infuriating.  The article describes how because huge cuts in state funding 70 of Focus:Hope's 300 employees will be out of work and 225 students who are currently enrolled in it's training programs will be turned away.

Let me back up a bit and give you an imperfect history of Focus:Hope.  In the late 1960's after riots had overwhelmed much of the city of Detroit, a woman from the suburbs named Elanor Josaitis joined forces with Father William Cunningham to not only try to help combat the devastating effects of poverty but also bridge the very tenuous cultural divide.  Their mission statement was this: “intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty and injustice." They understood that if anything good would ever come in the city of Detroit, it would be through the combination of faith, training, education and the belief that the future for the young people of Metro Detroit was brighter than the existing landscape.  Their passion inspired men and women like my grandfather, Donald Pizzimenti, to give of their time, talent and treasure to invest in this better tomorrow.  My grandfather would visit churches and meeting halls to convince the people of the congregations to give, to invest in the next generation of Metro Detroiters and the world.  It was not easy then, in that racially charged time, but they did it.  Generations of young men and women have benefited from this amazing work.

But now we see a lack of care and respect for the futures of young people, especially those in areas of increased poverty and decreased opportunity.  Areas where there are no longer any bootstraps for people to pick themselves up by to make something of their lives.  The talk continues to be that we need to cut programs, cut investments so that we don't leave our children with a huge government debt.  And the desire to not spend more than we take in is an appropriate one.  But a future without debt accomplished this way will mean nothing to a generation of young people who have less and less invested in them.  The cutting of funding to Focus:Hope is a symptom of a much bigger problem.We have forgotten that hope produces dreams which produce great futures.  We must find that spirit, that focus on community that truly believes that we are our brothers and sisters keepers.  Focus:Hope has always believed that.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Where The Broken Go

Where the broken go

Where do the broken go
The bent, the skewed
Those who have sought and still wait
Ones who still wait to be new

Where do the broken go
Needing relief, un-renewed
Those who have loss and heartbreak
Each day they break anew

Will they find peace
Will they breakdown
Can hope still be found in this earthen town

Where do the hopeless go
The tired, the meek
Those whose minds cannot rest
Each day pushing the boulder to the peak

Where do the hopeless go
Hunger builds, thirst unquenched
They who have tasted life on the street
Ones who have felt useless energy spent

Will they find faith
Will they shut down
When no one feels as deeply as they, can be found

But as the broken come
And as the sick walk in
The hungry can then cease their searching

There is a new beginning
There comes relief
For them He has always been reaching

It is where the broken go

(Don Coppo c 2011)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I Will Follow

Although the sight of all of this snow and ice in the trees and the field outside my office window is quite beautiful (even with the shadow of the Aflac Duck in my sill), I must admit that the presence of any wintertime weather makes me want to quickly retreat inside and put on many layers of clothing.  I know this is quite a drag for my kids, especially my son who would like to snowboard, sled or ski at any given moment in the winter months.  The thought of following him or anyone else into the frozen tundra has absolutely no attraction to me.  This is the kind of thing that reminds me that I have limits.  Some limits are upon me because of physical challenges.  But many limits, I must admit are self imposed.  These limits can be good, limits that keep me from burning out quickly in a blaze of glory.  But many keep me, keep you from living out our full potential.  More than that, they keep us from knowing the fullness of God and the deeper things of a relationship with Christ.  If I am unwilling to go out into the snow for a little while, would I have been willing to respond to a call of "follow me and I will make you fishers of men."  
I've loved the song "I Will Follow" by U2 since I was a kid.  But somehow Chris Tomlin's "I Will Follow" has much more meaning for me today:

Where you go, I'll go
Where you stay, I'll stay
When you move, I'll move
I will follow...

All your ways are good
All your ways are sure
I will trust in you alone
Higher than my side
High above my life
I will trust in you alone

Where you go, I'll go
Where you stay, I'll stay
When you move, I'll move
I will follow you
Who you love, I'll love
How you serve I'll serve
If this life I lose, I will follow you
I will follow you

Light unto the world
Light unto my life
I will live for you alone
You're the one I seek
Knowing I will find
All I need in you alone, in you alone

In you there's life everlasting
In you there's freedom for my soul
In you there joy, unending joy
and I will follow