Announcement: You're a Princess

Hey, everybody!

My sister's blog, You're a Princess, is finally up and running. Check out her first posting at www.youre-a-princess.blogspot.com, or click the link to "You're a Princess" under blogs on the right side of the screen. Be sure and leave a comment to tell her what you think.


Inspiration: Getting Started

Hello all you songwriters! Written any new songs lately? I hope so!

Possibly the most difficult part of writing a song is starting. It's one thing to want to write a song, but it's another to actually sit down and write it. So, how do you start? How do you know what to write about? What's the process for writing a song? Where do you get inspiration?

Inspiration can come a variety of places. I have found that one of the best place to write a song (at least a praise and worship song) is in my personal time with God. I often pick up my guitar and sing songs that help me enter into the presence of God. They may be songs I sing at church, or original works, but I have found that when I do, songs sometimes just come to me. When you get into God's presence, a natural reaction is to sing. The songs that come at these times are usually simple, and not very "polished" or finished-sounding. New songs rarely are.

Also, the Bible is a great inspiration for songs--and scripture songs are second only to praise in worship in their spiritual value. There is a huge volume of material that can be made into songs in the Bible--from the Psalms for praise and worship, to the New Testament revelation of the life of the believer. You may not find it all in one place (a concordance is very helpful), or it may all come from one verse, or be based on part of a verse. As a Christian, God's Word will be revealed to you and you can share what you have learned in your music.

Another source of musical inspiration is at church. Pay attention to what is being said and take notes--and mark what sticks out to you. One of my songs, "Alive," was written from an offhand comment made by a woman of God in our church before the service. She simply said "It's a great time to be alive," in reference to living in the last days. That phrase struck me and I wrote it down, and later I wrote a song using that phrase. I also wrote a song called "Sing Forever" that was based on a word (one of the spiritual gifts) that was given one night.

It does take some time and effort to write a good, polished song, and it takes practice. Don't expect your very first song to be a huge hit or anywhere close to perfect. Only two or three songs that I have written came all at once and stayed pretty much unchanged. Most songs take anywhere from a few days to a few months to refine. Maybe I'll write some more about that next time.
Until then,
Keep on Singing!

Tim Heider

Am I helping anyone? Got any songs or song ideas you would like to tell me about? Leave a comment--please!


Crossing Over

I don't usually publish posts this close together, but I thought I would explain something that I mentioned in a previous post about crossing over.

An artist who "crosses over" is a Christian artist who performs music that is more palatable to the unbeliever in an attempt to reach the lost. Many bands have done this, and though they may be successful as a music group, their message is too often watered down. They often begin to dress and act like the world and as a result, their witness for Christ is very small.

Jesus didn't tell us to act like the world in order to bring in the harvest. It is signs, wonders, and miracles that will attract people, not long hair and earrings. I'm not saying that long hair and earrings are necessarily wrong, but they are worldly and should be avoided. To be different from the world by living a clean, holy lifestyle will be a far better witness than trying to imitate the any popular secular performer.

To read another great blog on this subject, go to http://wordpress.christiansongwriters.org

Heaven, heaven help me,
I'm one of the dominoes
From the song "One of the Dominoes" by Mark Heard


You've Got a Song

"Sing a song, sing a song in the heat of day
Let it soar, let it soar with the wind of change
When the sun is shining, when the sky is gray
Let the whole world know you've got a voice to sing
Your heart is soaring high like a bird in flight
Hopes and dreams giving way to the light
You've got a reason to sing
You've got a reason to sing ooh ooh"

"Sing" words and music by
Tim and Christa Heider
(c) 2004

Check your pulse. Check your breathing. Are you still alive? Then praise God! The most powerful way we can worship God is by singing and making a joyful noise unto Him. God wants us to sing--every single one of us. He's given each of us a song and He wants us to release it.

Did you know that there was music at Creation? Job 38:7 says, "When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy." (NKJ) Music is a part of God's nature. He created music, and He put music in His creation. Obviously, music was corrupted by sin, but that just gives the believer all the more reason to sing about his wonderful redemption.

There are many commands in the Bible to sing and make music for God. Psalm 96:1-2 says, "Sing unto the Lord a new song! Sing unto the Lord all the earth. Sing unto the Lord, bless His Name. Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day." (NKJ) It also tells us to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. That joyful noise may be a completed song with beautiful harmony, or it may be a yodel in the bathtub, but the mandate is the same.

How could you think about all that God has done for you and not break out in song? Praise and worship is how we get into God's presence. "Come into His presence with singing and enter His courts with praise." (Psalm 100:2, NKJ) Your song may never be played on the radio or on stage, but if it helps you get closer to God, that is all that matters. There is a song in you and you must learn to let it out.

"Let every living, breathing creature praise God! Hallelujah!"
Psalm 150:6 (The Message)

Tim Heider

Here are a few more scriptures to study about singing:

Psalm 100:1-4
Psalm 150
Isaiah 44:23
II Chronicles 20:1-30


The Entertainer

We live in a very entertainment-oriented culture. TV, Internet, IPods, they all contribute to our "need" to be entertained. The area of music is no exception. Teens and young people spend many hours a day listening to music. That is why music is such a powerful medium for spreading ideas and philosophies. Even when entertaining, music is spreading some sort of philosophy.

Obviously, Christian music spreads the ideas of Christianity, and can be utilized to spread the Gospel. However, as I mentioned before, most Christian music is geared toward entertainment.

Christian music? Entertaining? "Surely not," you say. Well, when you think about it, just how much spiritual value is there is today's Christian Contemporary Music (CCM)? How much is devoted to actually lifting you up, and how much is just "fluff," devoid of substance? To be honest, I don't really like to listen to Christian radio very much because much of the music tends to make me feel worse about myself by continually hearing about someone else's shortcomings and struggles. It is somewhere in the fuzzy gray area between spiritually helpful and neutral. It is just fluff.

Thank God for Christian music and Christian radio. At least I have the option of listening to the secular junk that plays on most other stations. And I am not against wholesome entertainment. I do listen to the radio sometimes, and I will watch a good movie from time to time. But as I said before--and will probably say again--a steady diet of entertainment, even good, Christian entertainment, has the potential to take up your time with God and do more harm to you than good. And be very careful about the content of what you are listening to.

So, what does this have to do with songwriting? As a songwriter, you must decide what kind of music you are going to write. I would like to point out four kinds of Christian songs that you could write:

1) Christian songs of entertainment. These songs have a positive message, and may mention God or Jesus. They may be fun songs that you would like to hear when you are driving, or performing some other task. My sister and I wrote a song called "Sing," which encourages the listener to sing through circumstances. It does not even mention God, but it is still uplifting.

2) Christian songs of encouragement. These songs are based soundly on God's Word, and give messages that will build your spirit. They could be a direct adaption of Scripture, or base on a Scriptural theme (as all songs should be). New Creation Realities is an excellent subject for these kind of songs.

3) Christian songs of evangelism. These songs portray the Gospel for sinners. This is a great type of music, but tricky to use. They must be perfomed in the right way at the right time. A performer of these songs should be careful not to "cross over" in order to reach the lost.

4) Christian songs of praise and worship. These songs are in a class of their own (that's why they don't start with "E"). They are the highest and best in Christian music. There are numerous verses in the Bible that command us to praise and worship God. They are songs that minister to both God and the singer.

So, what kind of music are you going to write?

Until next time,

Think on These Things

Tim Heider


Music in the Fuzzy Gray

First, I want to say I'm sorry to those of you who were expecting a daily blog. I don't want to get too far ahead, too fast in the material that I'm publishing, and I really don't think I could put anything of any value on the blog if I wrote every single day. So, you'll just have to keep regularly checking my irregular blog entries. Keeps up the suspense, eh?

To continue the discussion on the three categories of music, I don't mean to say that all music will fall into only one of those categories. The three areas are, you remember;

1) Music that is spiritually harmful
2) Music that is spiritually neutral
3) Music that is spiritually helpful, or uplifting.

Of course, nothing is that cut and dried. There are a lot of gray areas between those three divisions.

First, there is music that blurs the line between music that is harmful and music that is neutral. This could be a secular band performing a love song that may be slightly questionable in its lyrics. While it may seem to be a harmless love song, its lyrics may be spiritually harmful by stiring up the flesh and its desires. This is only one example. And while this type of music may not be overtly "bad", i.e. promoting the works of the flesh, such as drunkedness, perversion, etc., a steady diet of this will do more harm than good. Just keep Phillipians 4:8 in mind when listening to this music.

Also, there is music that is somewhere in between being spiritually neutral and uplifting. Sad to say, I believe most Christian pop music falls into this category. It may mention God, or occasionally Jesus, but it often portrays ideas that are not scriptural. You must realize that merely saying the name of Jesus, or believing in God does not make something Christian. Actions have to follow words, and those actions have to line up with the Word of God. So, songs that refer to a person as a sinner, even after he has been born again, are not scriptural. The Bible refers to us as new creations, whose old sinful self has died (II Corinthians 5:17). If a Christian artist sings perpetually about how he/she stumbles or falls all the time, or how they are always struggling, there is something amiss.

Naturally, there are plenty of excuses that can be made for music in the fuzzy gray. I have heard people make comments such as "Oh, but he's/she's singing about his/her husband/wife" when speaking of a questionable song. Or "Oh, he/she is singing about Jesus" even when Jesus or God is not mentioned at all in the song. Remember, if you have to defend it, it probably isn't something you should be listening to.

Tim Heider

Did I step on anyone's toes?? Write me a comment! Just click where it says "comments" at the bottom of this or any entry.