Apologies for the alliterative title! But I have been reflecting further on last night’s concert and have such a lot to share from that!

For those of you who have attended the Bible studies on James, you know that congruence in living is something I’m passionate about. Living what we believe and practising what we preach are vital parts of what I strive to do and be on a daily basis. One of Michael Card’s earliest songs (recorded by Amy Grant initially, and sung by her on the link below) explores this theme. It’s called ‘I Have Decided’ and says ‘I’m gonna live what I believe.’ That takes a lifetime to perfect, perhaps, but it’s one reason I get on so well with his songs!
‘I Have Decided’, sung by Amy Grant

Then there is his amazing talent with words. Lyrics such as “A human baby bearing undiminished deity” (Immanuel) sum up the mystery of the Incarnation perfectly. “The power of paradox opens our eyes and blinds those who say they can see” (God’s Own Fool) captures the essence of paradox and the Gospel in one sentence. The Incarnation is all about ‘humiliating humility’ (A King In A Cattle Trough). I love the way he uses words.

Most of Michael’s songs have their origins in a Bible story or passage. His new album (‘The Beginning of the Gospel’) looks at Mark’s Gospel in particular. On that album is a new song on Bartimaeus which is called ‘The Paradigm’. A paradigm is a typical example or pattern of something. Michael Card spent time last night (and on the video below) talking about what we can learn from Bartimaeus. There were three main points:
1) We have to believe before we see (since Bartimaeus was blind, that may seem obvious to us, but so often we seek proof and signs, whereas what God is looking for is faith.)
2) We have to be willing to beg for what we do not deserve (grace, mercy and forgiveness are all things that we don’t deserve!) We deserve judgment, punishment and hell, but when we realise we can’t survive without God’s help, we are in the place where God can, in fact, help us.
3) We have to be prepared to leave everything behind. Peter left his fishing nets. Matthew left his tax collector’s booth. Bartimaeus left his cloak (the thing he used to collect the proceeds from his begging.) Jesus healed Bartimaeus simply by saying ‘Go’. Bartimaeus’s response was to leave his old way of life behind and to follow.
Michael Card on ‘The Paradigm’

Finally, what I perhaps most appreciate about Michael Card is his honesty in tackling subjects that most people would prefer to avoid. He has written songs on the subject of lament, looking at the anguish, grief, suffering and pain in life. He doesn’t avoid difficult passages (he’s written songs on Job, on Leviticus, on Revelation!) and he does not pretend that life is all about fake joy. He is very good at asking questions (he’s even written a song called ‘Why?’ which looks at three questions connected with the death of Christ and many others look at the questions of why we do what we do, how we respond to Christ and how we walk with Christ on a daily basis) – and questions, remember, were what Jesus Himself excelled at asking! One of my favourite lines is “Could it be that questions tell us more than answers ever could?” So often in life it seems to me that we couldn’t even understand the answer if God chose to give it, but there is never any sense in which we are restricted from asking questions. There is a lot to learn that way… Questions make us think, ponder, reflect. They are not always easy to answer; maybe we learn more from the pondering and reflection than from glib answers anyway.