Saturday, February 28, 2009

Step by Step - Beaker (David Strasser)

"His eyes are on the ways of men; he sees their every step.” (Job 34:21) A zookeeper probably can tell you that newborns in the animal kingdom are quick learners. And having grown up on a farm where we had a few animals, I feel somewhat qualified to add that they are indeed quick beginners. All the animals I’ve ever seen enter the world (a few calves and kittens) are able to take steps within hours, or at least after several days or weeks. In fact, the calves I’ve seen, if not captured within a few hours or days, seem more like deer than bovine. I’ve chased my share of ‘em through the tall grass of a large field! What about human babies? Most pediatricians and veteran parents can tell you that infants don’t walk for several months, most likely not even until they’re a year old. And why is that? Are we less intelligent than the animals? Perhaps taking those first few steps are instinctual for the animal, whereas I, the human being, must learn this skill. Without delving into this deeper, we could also say that babies are pretty dependent on adults – for food, shelter, language development, well-being, and all sorts of things. If you really think about it, none of us actually becomes truly independent however…we all depend on others for something. A guy we know as Beaker may have been onto something similar when in 1991 he wrote a well-known Christian chorus “Step by Step”, which was popularized by his friend Rich Mullins. Beaker (as a kid, his friends said he looked like the muppet named Beaker) is the nickname for David Strasser, a Christian songwriter and collaborator on many tunes written by his good friend Rich Mullins. Beaker and Mullins co-wrote over 30 songs together, including "Step by Step",after meeting as teenagers years earlier. Mullins also incorporated the chorus that Beaker wrote into “Sometimes by Step”, another musical hit the two friends produced. Before the untimely death of Mullins in 1997 (a car accident took his life), Beaker and Mullins were also co-writers of a musical, based on the life of St. Francis of Assisi, called the “Canticle of the Plains”. They were so captivated by the life of St. Francis that they also formed something called “The Kid Brothers of St. Frank”. It’s a ministry to Native Americans, in which Mullins and Beaker sought to mentor young men -- to help them in their life steps. Mullins took concrete steps to put this ministry into action by moving to Tse Bonito, New Mexico in 1995. Even after his death, Mullins’ family and friends have continued the ‘Kid Brothers’ dream, by creating the Legacy of a Kid Brother of St. Frank, a mission work that provides art, drama, and music camps for youth and a traveling music school to Native American reservations. Two friends, a common purpose, and talent…that’s what one might say about the combination of Beaker (aka David Strasser) and Rich Mullins. But, they no doubt learned their skills with the help of others, through someone willing to help them with a few steps. Certainly their songs demonstrate that God has been guiding their steps too. And, their musical walk with God didn’t end at the stage or the recording studio, but has continued, even beyond the grave (in Mullins’ case). There’s a preschool at the church where I worship called Stepping Stones. It’s a visible example of the first part of step-taking – we all begin by learning from someone else. Later, hopefully, I put my learning into action, maybe even in an exceptional way like Beaker and Mullins, so that others learn from and perhaps are inspired by me. As I get older, I think maybe the teaching part takes over more and more, but I confess I don’t know that I’m a very good teacher, or that I’m such a good example of skill in action. Trial and error, that’s me. But, with my Father leading, at least I can be sure this awkward stride is taking me in the right direction. The following is the Wikipedia website from which the information about Beaker was obtained: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaker_(musician)
The following is the Wikipedia site from which the information about Rich Mullins was obtained: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_Mullins
Information on the mission work of Kid Bothers of St. Frank obtained at http://www.richmullins.com/kidbrothers.html

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