Andrew Careaga asked bloggers to post 10 albums that changed their lives. I have to ask AC: 10?! That's a tall order. However, two pop right to mind (along with another one from before my trip to Damascus which I will not post about)

The first album is Speechless by Steven Curtis Chapman. It's probably the first Contemporary Christian Music CD which I purchased. "Dive" expresses Chapman's and my desire to have a deeper relationship with God: to be fully immersed in the grace and the love and to be carried wherever His will takes us. It's a goal I am still seeking after, and it's a song that I still love to play much too loud. "Speechless" is the same way. How is it that God loved me so much that He let His Son leave heaven to come to earth and die for my sins. Not just mine, but the whole world as well. Jesus could have called armies of angels to liberate him from the cruel death He was being subjected to, and yet He did not. His words, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do", still cause me the stand in awe at the grace and forgiveness He showed in spite of a punishment so cruel it needed a new term to describe it: excruciating. The other songs are wonderful, and I could write much more about this album. However, I want to touch on two final songs from this album that are intertwined in my life in the events of September 2002. When my maternal grandmother passed on the Wednesday before my wedding, "With Hope" comforted me with its message of peace based on I Thessalonians 4:13-18. She had picked out the dress to wear to my wedding, and yet, her battle with cancer ended days before I would wed. Because of the shingles she suffered through, my wife never got to meet her (my wife has never had chicken pox, which left her vunerable to the virus that causes both chicken pox and shingles. As an adult, one does not risk chicken pox). However, the sadness of her passing was tempered by knowing she had an invite to the wedding feast described in Revelation 19:7-9 and the hope that I will see her at that celebration. I also have the hope that she and my wife will meet and discovered the sisterhood in Christ that they never knew here. The second song from September 2002 was played during my wedding and is called "What I Really Want to Say". It's a song of unspeakable gratitude. Gratitude for my salvation, gratitude for this wonderful sister in Christ that is my bride, and gratitude for the friends and family sharing this celebration. Chapman captures this idea of gratitude that we cannot express perfectly.

The second album is Johnny Cash's American IV: The Man Comes Around. I first heard this album cruising around the back roads of Grady County with my brother in his Audi. I immediately recognized the source of "The Man Comes Around" even without seeing the liner notes. I was inspired that Cash was spreading the good news even to those who weren't brothers and sisters in Christ. I realized that people who would have no interest in buying a Bible did buy Cash's album. I claimed the promise revealed to the prophet Isaiah: "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." Cash's rendition of "Bridge over Troubled Water" was awesome as well. The voice of a man who has seen troubles and pain brought special meaning to the song. I pray I haven't dissuaded anyone from buying this album.

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