All posts by judkossum

I'm a worship leader and writer who wants to see the church become what Christ always intended it to be - a family built on authenticity, relationship, and the Truth.

Confession for a Change

Proverbs 28:13 (New American Standard Bible)
13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.

Sin thrives in the darkness.

And yet, when we sin, the first thing we do is shove that nasty little sin into the back of the closet, turn off the lights, quietly close the door, and hope no one noticed what we were doing. We’re afraid of being found out. If anyone knew what we’d done, we’d be ostracized.

I wish I could say that wasn’t true. There are some sins the revelation of which probably would get you ostracized, but that’s not the way it should be.

I’ve written before about the bent of people in the church – everyone really – to hide their indiscretions, to wear masks. And I’ve written about the need to be real, but this is different. This isn’t about what hiding our sins does to the church as a whole. It’s about what it does to us as individuals and our relationships with God and others.

I confess to you that I have sinned. (Whoa, seriously?!) In fact, I may be sinning right now. You don’t know!

I confess to you that I have hidden my sins, and when I did, here’s what happened. I became a slave to them. You see, there’s a lot of talk in the Bible about darkness/evil/sin and light/goodness/righteousness. I think that’s more than just a visual way to think about the difference between God and Satan or sin and righteousness. I think it tells us something about the nature of these concepts.

Let’s talk about darkness. You can’t see in it. Therefore, things can be hidden in it. It’s really easy to get lost in the darkness. It is – by definition – devoid of light.

Now, how about light? When a room is lit up, you can see everything. It’s impossible to hide in an open, sunny, expanse. You can generally – given the absence of other obstacles – see right where you’re going in the light. Light drives away the darkness.

Let’s compare sin and darkness. Attachment to sin can “blind” you to what you should do. Or, if you like, it can cause you to “lose your way.” (Take a look at Romans 1:18-31 to see how sin takes root and leads to more sin.) We all have a tendency to hide our sin. Sin is the exact opposite of righteousness – there is nothing good in it.

Hence, my opening statement: Sin thrives in the darkness. It grows and breeds and takes over. But once the light shines on it…

This is confession. Shining the light on our sin.

It requires humility to truly confess your sins. Therefore, a true confession requires not just speaking them aloud, but forsaking them, i.e. repentance. It is in this repentance that we find compassion. God shows compassion to those who confess and forsake their sins. What does this mean?

Remember how God hardened the hearts of those people in Romans 1? They became, as Paul later writes, “slaves to sin.” (Romans 6) I believe that sin’s power over us is found in the darkness, and when we shine the light on it by confessing, its power is broken. We are then free to become “slaves to righteousness.”

So, to whom do we confess? To God, of course. He has the power to forgive us and deliver us from our sins, but let’s be honest. We confess sins to God, but it’s still really easy to hide them.

I believe God calls us to confess our sins to our fellow believers. (See James 5:16.) This means we must trust one another, and that’s a near impossible thing to do when you can’t tell if the face someone is showing you is real. But we must trust one another.

So, confession is a powerful instrument of God in freeing us from bondage to sin. But there is an even greater impact.

I sincerely believe that if you find one fellow Christ-follower that you think you can trust and confess your sins to that person, this can be the beginning of change in the church. Masks will fall away. True faces will be revealed. People will be humbled before God, and they will see him do amazing things (2 Chronicles 7:14).

I’ll close with these words spoken by Alistair Begg during an exposition of Hebrews 3:13: “God has determined that it is in our relationships with one another that we are strengthened and equipped.”

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My Thoughts on the Presidency (and the President)

I think we’re all aware that today is a great day in the history of the United States. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican – or neither – you know today is big.

Today our first African-American President was inaugurated. It’s a day to be proud of our nation. The dream of racial equality is coming true. It’s also a day that I find myself a little sad – and more than a little embarrassed – about the state of civil rights in America. What took us so long?

Like millions of Americans, I am ready for change, and President Obama speaks of change my heart longs to see – a change in the way the politics of our government work. (For the sake of full disclosure, let me say that I did not vote for Obama.) A change in the petty arguments, the partisan divisions.

His words are beautiful and paint a portrait of an America I think most of us would love to see – one defined not by consumerism and narcissism, but by generosity and kindness.

But I’m not sure that government-enforced wealth sharing is really the way to go.

And the fact that Obama’s record is extremely pro-choice is terrifying to me.

My prayer is that God will grant him the wisdom to lead our nation and the humility to serve our nation. My hope is that he will be just as great a president as some think he will be.

Jud’s a Loser

Today is going to be another short entry because it serves simply as an invitation. I’ve begun a journey to better health and less of me. Literally. And I want you to be part of it.

I’m on my way to being 80 pounds lighter, and I’ve started a new blog to chronicle the journey called “Jud’s a Loser.” The first entry will be there today, Jan. 16, 2009, describing the beginnings.

My hope is that you will help keep me accountable, and that those of you who are also struggling with your weight will find some encouragement.

Click on the link above and join me in the journey.

(For those of you wondering when I’m going to do another “real” blog entry here at Words, not to worry! I’m planning a new full entry on Monday, Jan. 19, which – in addition to being Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – is the first anniversary of this blog!)

Review of Francis Chan’s Crazy Love

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
First of all, I am a HUGE fan of Francis Chan. If you haven’t heard his message from Passion 07, go download it on iTunes now!

Crazy Love is disarming in its charm and conversational tone – so much so that at times you may find yourself wishing for more meat only to realize you’re still chewing on the last chapter. Chan writes the way he speaks – like he’s just telling you what he thinks. He puts on no intellectual airs, though the issues he addresses go deeper than the great majority of Christian books today.

Chan loves God’s Word. He loves Jesus, and that completely comes across in this book. He is speaking in Crazy Love from the same place in which many Christians today find themselves – the place where we have realized that all is not right with the bride of Christ.

He calls us on to the radical life in the voice of a loving, laid-back dad.

View all my reviews.

A Day at Hyde Park

Hyde Park 6

We arrive at Hyde Park Studio at 10 a.m. on Oct. 27, 2008.

Rod Drake (my bass player) and I spend the first half hour or so helping Ryan Booth (the engineer) and Joe Green (my drummer) set up the drums and all the equipment. If you don’t know, recording drums is the most tedious part of the process. It’s like recording eight instruments at once! Every one has to be checked, and all the levels have to be right before you can lay down the first track.

So we do that.

Then I lay down a scratch track – a quick run-through of the song with vocals and acoustic guitar so everyone has a point of reference. (You can’t just set a drummer loose to play. They’re crazy! Just kidding.)

So for the next three hours, while Joe does an AMAZING job on the drums, Rod and I sit around. This is the majority of time in the studio – sitting around. Then you get to listen to the same drum track over and over while the engineer edits three takes into one seamless performance.

Joe goes to bring back lunch for everyone. Since the bass is plugged directly into the system, there is nothing to be miked, so Rod just sits down in the control room with all of us and begins recording the bass line. This goes really quickly.

We make a few changes as we go, which often happens in the studio. Once you start to hear it all together in that context, you begin to have ideas you never considered before. Of course, when you’re limited to one day of recording, you can’t spend too much time on those crazy ideas.

We eat lunch, and Rod finishes the bass track. He does an amazing job, but it still doesn’t sound like a song yet.

Then, we all tear down the drums and unplug all but two microphones. Ryan mikes up my acoustic guitar, and we pretty much breeze through that in just a couple of takes. We sit around for a little more editing and listen to it about a hundred times. It’s starting to sound a little like a song at this point.

Next, I set up my Stratocaster and effects pedals in the control room while Ryan runs a cable through the wall and connects me to a Vox AC30 in the other room and mikes it. Again, the electric guitar parts go quickly.

Then we plug the keyboard directly to the system and I run through some keyboard stuff in a couple of takes.

Then, I go into the vocal booth and do three takes of lead vocals.

All this while, Joe and Rod are sitting around. (Oh, the fun!!!) After each instrument, we listen about 4,000 times to little bits and pieces or the whole thing.

Now, it sounds like a song.

Then, Rod goes into the vocal booth to do harmony, which goes really quickly because Rod is a great singer and he only has to do harmony on a few lines.

Then, we pack up equipment and carry it downstairs while Ryan sets up more mikes for the final task of the day.

Joe, Rod, and I team up for “gang vocals” or, as Ryan calls them, “group vocals.” (I like my name better.) You know, in a song, when it sounds like a whole bunch of people are yelling the vocal line? Those are gang vocals. Love ‘em!

This was an idea I’d had for the chorus. I thought, “It will really give the chorus some energy.” The more I thought about it, the more doubts I had that it would actually work. But we decide to give it a shot, and it sounds flippin’ sweet!

So, we head back into the control room and listen about 400 more times while Ryan edits and tweaks. The song sounds freakin’ amazing!

We’re done for the day at 8 p.m., so we pack up and head home. All of it takes about 10 hours. And it is AWESOME.

Writing a Theme Song (lyrics included)

Well, we’re slated to hit Hyde Park Studios in Houston, Monday morning, Oct. 27, at 10.

It’s been quite the roller coaster ride getting us to this point. A good friend who was going to play lead guitar had to back out pretty early on, but God provided an amazing replacement (Ryan Truso, former guitarist for Jeremy Camp, who will also be mixing the project.) We had an engineer lined up who then disappeared off the face of the earth. That was fun!

But it’s all ironed out now. Ryan Booth at Hyde Park will be laying the tracks down for us.

Oh, and by the way, “us” is me on guitars and vocals, my new friend Joe Green on drums (a very talented percussionist), and my old friend Rod Drake on bass (and maybe keys). Those of you who’ve known me since the Standing Still days will remember Rod as Standing Still’s bass player.

I said in my last blog that I’d write about the challenges of writing a “theme song,” which is essentially what I had to do with “You and I.” When my friend the missionary wrote me and asked me to do this, I was excited about it from the first moment. As a more or less unknown songwriter, you don’t get a lot of requests for songs, so I was really looking forward to the challenge.

It has always seemed to me that if you approach a theme song just as a theme song, it’s doomed to mediocrity. You have a specific message that may or may not be readily relatable to every listener, and when you write pop or rock songs, you want to write songs that people relate to. Think of just about any movie theme song that has the same name as the movie. “Ghostbusters,” any of the James Bond movies. Those songs are generally not very good. (I’ll be the first to admit that I LOVED the Ghostbusters song when I was a kid. But I was a kid! Who you gonna call?!) There are, as always, exceptions, like Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better” from The Spy Who Loved Me or Madonna’s “Die Another Day.” But for every “Live and Let Die,” (How could that title NOT work in a rock song?!) there are at least 12 of “Another Way to Die” (by Jack White and Alicia Keys from the new Bond movie Quantum of Solace. I’m sorry. It’s awful.)

So, I approached it a little differently – although I’m sure that I’m not the first songwriter to do so. I tried as much as I could to internalize the details of the theme “Engage Russia,” which is the name of the new project the video production I’m writing for is highlighting. I watched videos of the same kind highlighting other missions projects.

Then I thought about it all. A lot. I looked for aspects of the theme that really hit home with me. I thought this idea of walking in someone else’s shoes, of stepping into and living someone else’s life in order to better love them for the cause of Christ – this is something that touches my heart and will touch the hearts of a lot of people.

So, that was really the big challenge. Rather than just try to write a song around theme, I need to find the aspect of it all that would make a good song.

And I think I did. And you can judge for yourselves – at least on the lyrics. Let me know what you think!

You and I
by Jud Kossum
9/30/2008

Verse 1
We’re separated, you and I
By countless words and ways
Unrelated, you and I
Our paths will cross today
I’ve decided just to try
To live life where you do
We’ll be the start of something new

Chorus
I want to stand where you stand
To engage, to see the change
I want to reach out my hand
In Jesus’ name

Verse 2
We are so far, you and I
On two sides of the earth
But here we are, you and I
In a common place of birth
I will walk by your side
Because your pain is just like mine
Let’s walk together, you and I

(repeat chorus)

Chorus 2
I want to stand where you stand
To engage, to be the change
I want to reach out my hand
In Jesus’ name

Bridge
Though we walk down different streets
We live through the same days
Though our hands may never meet
Our hearts are just the same
And I want to love you
Just like Jesus loves you

(repeat chorus 1 & 2)