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My favorite Broadway musical of all time is “THE MUSIC MAN”.  There is something about the combination of the setting: America at the turn of the century, the story-unique boy-meets-girl, the music-ballads, dances, barbershop quartets, bands.  But I also know that I’ve been influenced by both the movie AND the fact that it was the first musical I ever performed in, as a sophomore in High School.

Robert Preston, as Professor Harold Hill (even though Jack Warner asked both Frank Sinatra and Cary Grant to do the role before it was given to Preston) is definitive as the con man who changes his life through the love of a good woman.  In the story, however, he must “sell” the Iowa town folk on the idea of a Boys Band (not the Backstreet Boys, something completely different).  He isn’t a musician, can’t read a note, but he sells them instruments and uniforms and “cons” them into believing.

The technique he uses?  He reveals a serious “issue” in the town that they’re not even aware they have, and who can save them from this seed of degradation that has infiltrated their little prairie town? Prof. Harold Hill, of course!  And so, we have the song, TROUBLE; “O, ya got trouble…right here in River City, with a capital-T, that rhymes with P and that stands for POOL” – not a swimming pool, mind you, but a pool table.

Here Professor Hill has actually CREATED trouble, this pool table could’ve gone unnoticed except for the Professor’s sermon. He needed to CREATE trouble so that he could be the “hero”, and make out, literally, “like a bandit”!

It’s an old, old technique, a technique that Advertising Gurus have been using for years: to create a situation that can only be solved through their product.  Who has heard of “ring around the collar”, or “cellulite”?  Before advertising, these things were just called “dirt” and “fat”!

TROUBLE comes in all forms, and TROUBLE comes to all people.  Churches experience all kinds of trouble: economic trouble, growth trouble, a leaking roof here, not enough teachers there, sickness in the winter, simple-minded preachers, etc.  The Church doesn’t NEED any help, when it comes to trouble, in other words, the Church doesn’t need any Harold Hills; someone to CREATE a problem so that they can solve it.  The Church doesn’t need a hero to save them from trouble, the Church needs a pilot to steer them through trouble.

Being a Believer & Follower of Jesus has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s be honest, in some ways, being a disciple is not an easy choice OR an easy thing to do. There are troubles from within and without, many of which cannot be avoided.

But what every Believer & Follower has, and what the Church has, is not a “Harold Hill”, but a “Captain Von Trapp”!  A Captain/Pilot who can lead us through the dangers, who knows where the rocks are, who knows when the wind will be foul, who knows the currents and tides like the back of his hand, who knows what we will face and promises to guide us through it (“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me…”).  We have someone with us always, who has been there before.

As I’m writing, I can’t help but hear the voices of my home congregation sing one of my father’s favorite hymns:

Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea
Unknown waves before me roll
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal
Chart and compass come from Thee
Jesus, Savior, pilot me 

When the darkling heavens frown
And the wrathful winds come down
And the fierce waves, tossed on high
Lash themselves against the sky
Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea
(words by Edward Hopper)


No one needs “Christians” to create trouble so that others will believe they are being “persecuted”.
We don’t need anyone to create trouble so that their own egos are inflated by making others look bad.
And we certainly don’t need anyone to create trouble so they can appear to be our hero…

we HAVE a Hero. 

He doesn’t take away the trouble, He goes. AHEAD of it.
He stands with us in the MIDDLE of it.
He marches with us THROUGH it… 

…and He covers the scars left by it.