Wisdom Moon – who’s podcasts have been an encouragement to me on many occasions – was kind enough to include Saint Lewis‘s song “All in All (You’re all I Need)” as the closer for the 10/8/08 edition of the ALL ABOUT WORSHIP podcast.  Why don’t you hop on over and subscribe today?

If you’d like to use “All in All (You’re all I Need)” in your own worship service I’ve attached the pdf files below… thanks!

All in All chord chart
All in All chord chart capo

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Yo! I’m down wit it!

October 3, 2008

I ain’t black (but two of my nieces are), and I don’t listen to much rap, but I must say:
THIS IS DA BOMB! 

Probably the best rap record I’ve heard since High School, and it’s totally God-centered, & Christ-exalting!

This has been a good week.  I call it a good week because it was a week chock full of me doing what I was made to do: worship.  Yes, that should happen ALWAYS – we should all live there – but I, personally, find a heightened sense of God’s presence when I’m worshiping in community and with song.  

First, My wife & I led our church’s Wednesday noon prayer meeting.  Pulling from an assortment of old favorites like “Consuming Fire” & “Give us clean Hands“, a few newer ‘prophetic’ songs from IHOP, and an original chorus by my wife, we spontaneously led various numbers interspersed with and flowing from the prayers being offered up in the room.  I’ll be honest – I find that degree of spontaneity personally challenging (though, I’ll admit it: my wife LIVES THERE), & I was a bit unsure of whether or not we really ‘connected’ to those in the room.  I found hope in the fact that, at least from my own heart, God was worshiped, and I received a number of kind remarks about it later in the week.  That’s an area I’d like to grow in, but God graciously showed His face to us in spite of my weakness.

Later than night, we had a special INSIDE OUT Sr. High service with an extended time of worship, which I co-led with one of my youth leaders, Aaron.  His worship leading is energetic and infectious and most definitely connects with his peers, and I love to see younger leaders stepping up to the plate.  Though it wasn’t the single most passionate/expressive Wednesday night we’ve had so far this school year (there have been weeks that I wondered if we’d go ‘pentecostal’), the Holy Spirit was clearly present, and hearts were changed.  First, Aaron led the opening set of “My Glorious” (Delirious), “One Way” (Hillsong United), and a powerful song he introduced to our youth the week before – which, I might add, I’ve been pulling for since I heard the demo – “Glorious One” (Fee).  What’s more interesting, HE LED FROM THE BASS – and did it very well.  My personal favorite from his set is Steve Fee’s “Glorious One“, as it’s such a good balance of Biblical truth and personal response, packaged in a powerfully melodic chorus, yet at the same time it’s very easy to pull off (unlike his other awesome, but nearly unreplicable, “All because of Jesus”).  Later, following a time of sharing & testimonies, I continued our corporate singing by re-introducing our youth to the infamous “Healer” (which I love even more BECAUSE of the controversy: the song feels even deeper knowing the real story behind it), “Jesus Paid it All” (a favorite at our church, especially among our youth), and sent them home with a challenge, much like Fred delivered on SSCC’s night of worship, to reach our community, with “God of this City“.  Overall, it was a truly exciting night as I looked out over the room and saw a mix of indifferent (dudes who are merely there to pick up chics – at least they’re coming and hearing the Word and seeing authentic worship) and those truly moved (at least 4 groups were huddled up, praying, and in tears).  I love Inside Out and am proud of what goes on there week by week.

 

And this portion is ‘participating’ in Fred’s Sunday Setlist blog.

Lastly, I was in the rotation to lead for this past Sunday morning as well, which is always a joy.  Our Sunday AM musicians are professional, friendly, and a pleasure to work with, so rehearsal is rarely a chore (though even the best band has their moments, I admit it).  I was particularly excited to have my wife on both keys and singing alto for this morning!  Thursday night’s rehearsal was one of the smoothest I’ve ever had to date, and seemed to zip right by, and Sunday morning – apart from me forgetting lyrical phrase (along with EVERYONE ELSE) from one song – went spectacularly.  The band played almost flawlessly, the congregation was fairly responsive and seemed to be connecting with the songs (pockets folks stood and raised their hands of their own initiative), I personal felt ‘connected’ to God and our congregation as a leader.  Our set started off with Tim Hughes’ “Happy Day” – one of my personal favorites – after which I welcomed everyone to church, and dove into a 2 song set of “Your Grace is Enough” (Maher/Tomlin) and “Mighty to Save” (Hillsong).  Though I am by no means a servant of Hillsong – there is particularly much in their lyrics that I question at times – this song in particular deserves recognition and use among churches of every flavor: the lyrics are powerful proclamation and intimate response all wrapped up into one, and the melody is infectious.  I wouldn’t mind singing this song every week, personally.  After an far-more-intense-than-usual sermon by David mostly about trusting God in our current financial climate, we had communion, during which we sang “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)” and Tomlin/Redman’s classic reworking of a great hymn, “The Wonderful Cross“.  Sadly, we ran short on time during our first service and had to cut our closing song, but for the 2nd service we responded with “Though I Will Trust You“.  If anything were to have gone better on Sunday, I think I should have considered my words more carefully – somehow, I had given what I was going to say that morning little thought, and found myself digging for the right turn of phrase at times, but I don’t think that was too distracting, thankfully.

All in all, it was a wonderful week.  Thank You, Father!

Pride & Phone Theft…

September 23, 2008

Sounds like a powerful new book title, doesn’t it?

This past Saturday I bought my wife’s phone back.  I got a phone call on my cell phone from my wife, Cyle, which was only odd because she appeared to be calling me from her cell phone, and yet we were both home and she was JUST outside – I could’ve heard her just as well if she just called my name a little more loudly than would be normal under not-in-the-middle-of-an-argument-like circumstances.  The voice, however, is what really threw me; “Hey, do you know this number?

Immediately I wanted to kick his… um… rear.  No, I wanted to do far worse than that.  My first impression was that Cyle was being held at knife-point in the back-yard, and I was immediately trying to figure out how to kill him, while not harming her.  Yes, I went there that quickly.

I was absolutely trashed last night and I bought this cell-phone at the gas station on Gloucester“, he said next – not even realizing that I had been planning my wife’s rescue, and his demise.

He was now off the hook, to a large degree, but I still wanted to beat him down.  I got the details of the story from him, and his tale had some merit.  I asked some facts of my wife and it appears she left her phone in our car – which was parked on the street – and forgot to lock it.  She talked to him for a few minutes, and it came to the point that he asked for his money back, at least in part.  We said ‘yes‘, sorta.

We TOLD HIM, verbally, “yes” – but what we meant was, “I’m not quite sure yet – I want my phone back, and I can’t get a new one for $20, but I’m considering all sorts of things to protect my pride in this matter, including just sending a cop over to pry it from your fingers.”  So, we called the cops, and talked through all of our options, including the possibility that he was some sort of evil conspirator, and that I would be taken hostage or jumped/mugged/killed in broad daylight in a busy parking lot when I drive to meet him with my $20 to get my wife’s cell phone back.

At the climax of this story, I drove to his mama’s house – where he was recovering from his hang-over – handed him a $20 in his yard, and got my wife’s cell-phone.  He was clearly a nice fellow, and it would’ve made a rather boring scene in an action/suspense movie.  Then I drove home, still carrying the gnawing sense that I wanted to woop on someone viciously.

Of course, this was the power of my internal sense of justice and right-doing, right?  Probably not.  It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t believe someone stole a cell phone out of a car right in front of a home.  It was that someone stole MY wife’s cell phone, out of MY car, in front of MY home!  How could they do that TO ME?!?!

Ah, world – bow to the mighty Shannon!  Recognize his greatness, and humble yourself before him, lest ye pay!

Pride is a real jerk.  You think your doing pretty good spiritually (there’s the first mistake, actually), and the next thing you know, you’re your god – the al-wussy judge of the universe, to whom all must pay their dues if they attempt to hinder – or complex-ify – your way whatsoever.

The good thing about this discover is that now I know who’s tail to kick.  Mine (some would call it the flesh).

I’m diggin’ you a shallow grave
An’ to the sun your face I’ll raise
I’m diggin you a shallow grave
One hundred buzzards a’buzzin’

 

I’m diggin’ you a shallow grave
An’ on your rotten bones I’ll raise
Yellow daisies For my true loves hair
One hundred buzzards buzzin’

I see death runnin from his Majesty
O Lord, where is the fear in me?
In between your praying hands
You hold the skeleton key

(Lyrics from “Heal on the Shovel” by Sixteen Horsepower)

When have you found pride slip in on you when most would feel your actions were justified?  
How do you personally war against the flesh?  What techniques word best for you?
Why wasn’t Sixteen Horsepower world-famous when they were still a band?

Important questions to consider – discuss…

I’ve made a mix of some of our favorite corporate worship songs at INSIDE OUT & RUSH HOUR over the past few years.  There’s some good stuff here.

Time to get a clue…

September 9, 2008

If you haven’t yet awoken from your CCM induced stupor, it’s time to buy this, and wake up.

It’s about time we all got a clue… what a great c.d.! Creative, original, refreshing worship, indeed.,

I wouldn’t be lying if I said – which I will, and am about to – that I have checked iTunes at least weekly since I discovered it (about 4 years ago now) for literally ANYTHING by the great Australian alternative rock band, Midnight Oil.  Known best for their 80s mega-hit “Beds are Burning“, most do not know, however, that lead singer Peter Garrett is not only a former surfer, and a social activist, but also a Christian, and currently serving full-time in the various areas of the political sphere down-under.  As some have asked; “Do you remember what it was like to listen to music with a message?”  Midnight Oil were like the Australian U2 – and fans of the Cure, the Church, the Clash, or the formerly mentioned kings of Anthemic Brit-rock should most definitely explore their catalog.

A great place to start is their compilation, 20,000 WATT RSL, but my personal favorites are BLUE SKY MINING, and DIESEL AND DUST.

If you’re going to be scanning singles, check out; “Beds are Burning”, “Blue Sky Mine”, “Dreamworld”, “Underwater”, “Jimmy Sharman’s Boxers”, “King of the Mountain”, “Golden Age”, & “Forgotten Years”.  Here’s hoping that Midnight Oil return to the music business soon!  ENJOY!

So, not a dissertation today – just a question:

What ‘current’ (defined as you see fit) corporate worship songs move you to worship God the most passionately right now?  Do you have a gem that’s just ‘ripping you up’ currently?  I know that for me, “Let Your Kingdom Come” by Bob Kauflin has been my anthem for quite sometime, the Vineyard’s “All I Have“, & Sov. Grace Music’s “Out of the Depths” have really turned my eyes upward, and I can still – after over a year of using it – hardly get through John Mark McMillian’s “How He Loves” without crying, even if we sing it two services back to back!

What about you?  What songs are really moving you at the moment?

THANKS FOR LISTENING!

September 3, 2008

I just wanted to give a shout-out to all who came and and all who listened to us on 89.3FM, WECC The Lighthouse last night, either in person, on the air, or online.  We recieved many encouraging words, and – I must say – we were really blessed to have been there and hope to return again soon in the coming months!

In the meanwhile, they’ve added our song “All in All (You’re all I Need)” to their rotation, so be encouraged to give them a call (800-577-WECC) and request it when you’re in the mood.

Lastly, we were asked by a few people for chordcharts of our originals last night.  Though they’ll be on CCLI and on our own website soon, just drop me an email at saintlewis@bellsouth.net and I’ll get them to you right away.  Thanks for listening, and for the encouragement – blessings to you and yours!

appearing live on the air – tonight – on the Lighthouse, WECC 89.3 @ 6:30PM!

I’ve published a full review of Sovereign Grace Music’s “COME WEARY SAINTS” over at theWorshipCommunity.com.  Stop by and take a read!

This one is a bit different… hope you like.

Do you go to the Inside Out / Rush Hour youth groups at St. Simons Community Church and are looking for recordings on the songs we sing?  Are you a worship leader looking for a few proven new songs to add to your set?  Do you just enjoy worship music and are always looking for something new?.  This iMix is for you:

INSIDE OUT/RUSH HOUR – greatest hits

And now for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!

My stack of c.d.s to review has grown taller than is manageable, so in a desperate attempt to knock out some reviews, and promote a few dear friends, here’s is my ‘Triple Play’ review special!


McKendree Augustas
A View for Opened Eyes
(c)2008 

My brother-n-law – and one of my best friends – has accomplished quite a lot since he moved to Nashville a few of years back.  He’s toured with Jeff Deyo,  Britt Nicole, and is currently on tour with SonicFlood, and in the midst of the madness he still made time to write and record a debut cd worth being very proud of.

Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what to compare McKendree’s sound to.  He’s got the ghostly electronics of Radiohead, the wide open atmosphere of Coldplay, with the pounding piano of Ben Folds, and the worshipful lyrics of John Mark McMillan, and at least a peripheral awareness of emo-guitar, all mixed into a creative, original, & refreshing debut.

By far the stand-out is “Beautiful“.  The melody line is original enough to keep you guessing, but still has hook.  The chorus is simple and singable.  The music builds slowly, with the addition and subtraction of instruments sometimes from one line to the next.  With the right people behind it, combined with a good music video, I’m convinced it could be a hit single – not only in ‘Christian’ radio, but a ‘cross-over’ hit.  Yes, it’s that good.

A few other stand-outs are are the two corporate worship songs; “Attention“, & “Strength to Carry On“.  Though the first verse of “Attention” is a bit hard to grasp at first, the rest of the song is the sort that a whole room of people can quickly latch onto, as is all of “Strength to Carry On“, which I’ve already led at our youth service.

There are some places that may lose the casual listener.  For one, the intro song – “Proemial” – is likely going to turn away some, particularly those not already familiar with McKendree’s more accessible songs.  That said, this c.d. is only a glimmer of what he is capable of (I’ve heard it ALL), and is a shimmering sign of what is to come.  

A View…” is well worth picking up, and will leave you wanting to hear more from McKendree in the future.

 


David Herndon
Into Danger / Out of Rescue
(c)2008

I would be lying if I said that I expected to be blown away from David’s 2nd c.d.  David & I have been friends for a few years now – we’ve sung on worship teams together, & I’ve long been familiar with his music.  Though there were a few good songs on his debut c.d., nothing there really moved me.  In comes “Into Danger / Out of Rescue“, and I must confess: my jaw was wide open during the whole first listen.  This was David Herndon?!

The melodies were memorable, the song-writing catching, his vocal delivery is absolutely convincing, and most of all, the lyrics CUT DEEP.  I was already nearly in tears before finishing track one.  “Into Danger…” is David’s “Time out of Mind” (Bob Dylan) or “Yankee Foxtrot Hotel” (Wilco) – production-wise, an alt-country masterpiece, and as far as songs are concerned, a very solid, and challenging collection that makes me proud to say “I know that guy“. 

The most note-worthy song is “Church or a Brothel“, which – by title alone – brings up issues many will be uncomfortable with, and asks questions which society as a whole often shy away from.  My personal favorite, however, is “Reflection” – an alt-country performance that, oddly enough, rings with subtle shades of mid-80s Tears for Fears, and the Police.  It’s that sort of genre-bending creativity, and the strong production value, that makes “Into Danger…” so worthwhile.

Personally, I hope to hear David pursue this direction even further, but until then “Into Danger…” has been – and will be – a permanent fixture in my car’s c.d. collection.  That’s where I keep my favorites.

 


Matthew Perryman Jones
Swallow the Sea
(c)2008 

As I’ve written about before in this blog, there was a time a few years back when Matthew & I used to occasionally play out together in the Athens/Atlanta area at places like Eddie’s Attic & the Bean’ry, and he’s the fellow who introduced me to Indelible Grace’s music (he appears on most – if not all – of their cds).  He’s a gentle spoken man, a strong songwriter, and has an absolutely beautiful voice.  

I was excited to discover earlier this week the release of his 3rd studio full-length, “Swallow the Ocean“, and though the whole c.d. has not yet grabbed me, it holds promise, and a few singles which have already probably made it into my ‘favorite new music of ’08’ list.

The first song of note, which I’ve featured on this site before,  is “Save You“, which has already enjoyed some popularity as an iTunes single, after appearing in a number of popular prime-time television shows.  The song is simple, and lovely, bringing to mind what Coldplay might have sounded like if Chris Martin had been raised in the southern USA.  My personal favorite is “Without a Clue“, which show-cases a nice piano hook, and great lyrics that look back on the romantic naivete’ of youth.  With it’s anthemic chorus, it’s hard not to note U2’s influence on Matthew’s otherwise southern acoustic folk style.

Though I’m not yet sold on the whole disc – his debut was so fantastic that it’s hard not to judge all his later releases by that standard – it definitely contains a few ‘must-download’ singles, and if my guess is right, will prove to be a worthy investment as a full-length as well.

Here’s hoping I get to gig again with Matthew in the future.

That’s all… I hope I’ve been of service to direct you towards some great new music that will move your soul.

I present to you… my first worship confessional… well, actually my second.  I deleted the whole first draft.  I came across as an arrogant, self-centered idiot in it, which rendered me entirely incapable of editing it in iMovie.  This one is better, but still I wonder – will anyone want to watch a 13 minute worship confessional?  I can taste the sinking blog stats now…

By the way, in order to participate in Fred’s ‘Sunday Set-Lists’, the set-list for Sunday was:

WALK IN: Tell the World – Hillsong United
1.  My Savior Lives – New Life Church/Desperation Band
2.  Marvelous Light – Charlie Hall
3.  Lead me to the Cross – Hillsong United
4.  How Great is Our God – Chris Tomlin (w/ How Great Thou Art)
CLOSING: Hosanna – Hillsong United 

One thing that made Worship God ’08 unique from many worship conferences is the content of the main sessions.  Apart from the fact that the Psalms are the Old Testament hymn-book, none of the sessions were necessarily directly related to worship as it is commonly understood: corporate singing.  Likewise, only one of the sessions was taught by an individual others would consider a “worship leader”, and that was Bob Kauflin, the organizer of the whole event.  Instead, the speakers were  primarily Bible teachers, Pastors, & even Seminary professors, all of whom were solidly evangelical, and who took their time applying serious scholarship to the text before reaching into the various areas of application.  It was like a 4 day seminary for worship pastors, and much akin to drinking from a fire hydrant.  In fact, I will likely be going over my notes for several weeks in order to process it all.

The Wednesday night main session was KNOWING GOD WITH THE PSALMIST by Craig Cabaniss, a pastor in Frisco, TX.  “Where do we get our ideas about God?” Craig asked at the outset, noting that “…our perception of God will shape our response to God.”  Focusing his attention on Psalm 33, he drew attention to the WHY of worship, and challenged us to “…respond to GOD, who He IS and what He has DONE, and not to whether or not we are familiar with or like a song“.  Craig taught with great passion, and began the conference on the right step.

Thursday morning’s session was EXPRESSING EMOTION WITH THE PSALMIST by Thabiti Anyabwile, a jovial yet passionate pastor currently serving in the Grand Camman Islands, and the author of the excellent new book “What is a Healthy Church Member?” in the IX Marks series.  Taking apart Psalm 73, and teaching through it piece by piece, Thabiti pointed out that “…we as humans are terrible at predicting the source of joy…“, later adding that all “man-centered emotions ultimately lead to despair“.  The 73rd Psalm, it turns out, is a helpful reminder that believers may be experiencing a wide range of emotions.  Thabiti challenged us “too often we lead from ‘happy’ to ‘great joy’“, not addressing the fact that much of our congregation are simply not there.  Emotions are real, and important, but we – as pastors and worship leaders – need to address our congregations, and lead worship, in a way that directs our emotions God-ward, and guides and trains people’s hearts to respond to the right things.  Emotions for emotions’ sake will lead to despair, but “when I see Him, I will be satisfied“.  I found Thabiti’s applications particularly helpful, as he encouraged us to:
1.) Avoid shallow ways of triggering emotions
2.) Address the full range of emotions in our corporate worship
3.) Teach about and address suffereing
4.) Help our people see God in  way that draws them from self-centeredness to God-centeredness.

In many ways what I drew from these first two main sessions is quite similar: to lead passionately, doing all I can to put together worship sets, and lead in a way, that meets our people where they are, and merely where I think they should be.  I was also challenged to better address our congregation in a way that leads them to see God, and aspects of God, and leading songs that give them an opportunity to respond to revelation genuinely, rather than merely encouraging emotion and excitement for the sake of emotion itself.  Though it may be exciting for me to see a whole room ‘stirred up’, doing so when the emotion isn’t genuine may actually be training our people to lead the ‘train by the caboose’ to use the old Campus Crusade for Christ illustration of FACT (the engine), FAITH (the cars), & FEELING (caboose).  These were helpful reminders, indeed.

Next up, Mark Dever, & David Powlison’s main sessions…

At the very outset of the conference Bob Kauflin noted that there were, usually, two different sorts of conferences, as far as worship goes.  There were those where the worship teams pulled together sets of all the most popular, and familiar new tunes, which everyone would be familiar with, or there was THIS CONFERENCE, where they would predominantly do all brand-new, original music, so we’d have fresh, new, Scripture-drench songs to bring back to our own congregations.  In all honesty, given that the great majority of those in attendance were worship leaders themselves, we grabbed hold of even the entirely unfamiliar songs and sang them with every ounce we had within us.  I must say, it was very refreshing to be in a room full to the brim of folks who’s hearts were just overflowing with passion for God every time the corporate singing began.

Though I’ve not yet grown familiar enough with these songs to know which one’s I will choose to introduce in the various corporate worship environments that I’m blessed to lead in, here are a number of the new songs we sang this weekend that have at least become a part of my personal worship time:


From the brand-new Sovereign Grace Music c.d. “Psalms” (you can listen to these songs at this link) these songs really moved me:
“Praise the Lord”, “God Shall Arise”, & “Blessed be the One”.

From the NA Band release “Looked Upon” I was really touched by:
“God over All”, & “Nail My Glory”.  I must say that I am VERY interested in seeing Devon & Jordan Kauflin continue on as songwriters.

And lastly, from Pat & Joel Sczebel’s independently recorded “You and You Alone“:
“Trust in You”, & “You are Good”.  I’ll admit it, these recordings could be better, but those are two POWERFUL songs, and seeing them lead (with Pat’s other son, Joel’s brother, Josh) brought tears to my eyes, not only because they demonstrated how music can be both simple and excellent, but also thinking of my own two sons, and looking towards the future, and what a blessing it would be to have my boys writing, recording, and leading worship with me one day.

More reporting on the actual sessions still to come…

Though I did indeed miss my lovely wife and family, I am in a bit of conference withdrawal!

In all seriousness, it’ s been a strange week. Though I never knew her personally (I had seen her before, but I don’t believe we’d ever met), we had a number of friends in common, and as it has many others, her music moved me deeply. Having followed her battle against cancer this past year or so, it really hit me hard yesterday to learn of the loss of Katie Reider. Apparently, there were many others her life and music touched as well, for it was the highest number of blog readers I’ve had since I started publishing my thoughts online several years ago (on Xanga – does anyone use Xanga anymore?). My prayers go out to her closest friends and family.

On the other side of the coin, I guess you’d call yesterday “bittersweet” – the source of my new-found “fame” (though I hope, in fact, that it expresses God’s fame): I’m excited to announce that my article “WORTHY” is being featured at TheWorshipCommunity.com, an new online Worship ‘magazine’ which facilitates discussion and community among worship leaders & worship musicians who are “in the trenches”, as some have said – those who are leading their congregations in worship in churches around the world every Sunday. I’ve made some wonderful connections, and new friends, during the time that TWC was merely an online forum, and I’m excited to see it grow, and take the obvious next step into a full-blown online publication. I’m also honored to have the featured article this week. Please swing by, read it, and be encouraged to comment!

Lastly, it was a good evening because I can see the release of Saint Lewis’ “Songs from the Hope Farm” e.p. immediately on the horizon. Very late last night my wife & I were putting the finishing touches on one of her originals, and it just excites me to see this small sampler (all of these songs – albeit more professionally mixed versions – will also be featured on our full-length c.d. expected early next year) of original worship material come together, and I’ve been really blessed by the positive feedback we’ve received on many of our songs these past few months. A very limited edition printing of the e.p. will be ready very soon, but until then please stop by our website-in-the-making: Saint Lewis Music.

May God’s blessings be evident, & His Spirit be near…

Today is a sad day for earth, and a happy day for Katie.  Please pray for her family & close friends.  She is indeed a voice that will be missed.

I’m sad to have not known this until now, and I’ve even sadder to know it at all.

Please visit the link below, and do whatever you can to help…

So I don’t forget to let you know, my talented bro-n-law has released a c.d. The official release is this Friday. It should really be incredible, and better yet, it’s free. On top of that, my band is opening, and debuting some brand new material. Doors open at 7:30 PM. We do hope to see you there!

Consider this your coursework for today. Become familiar with the more popular side of Dean Wareham, through his bands’ Galaxy 500 & Luna. These tunes are a happy step back into college for me. Yay.

So, how many of you guys recording tunes with Logic have ever had it stop mid-session and the words of doom pop onto your screen: CORE AUDIO: DISK TOO SLOW!?  I’m running Logic on a Mac Mini, so I’ve been encountering this problem often as of late, which is terribly given that I’m in a crunch on finishing a few tunes.  Well, apart from purchasing a Western Digital external fire-wire drive, which took a bit of the load off of my system, I discovered another simple fix.  If you’re like me and love using the plug-ins, that can apparently really suck the CPU dry.  So, once you’ve got those tracks pretty much as you want them, click on the little ‘snowflake’ besides the ‘solo’, ‘mute’, & ‘record’ buttons, and freeze the tracks you aren’t going to be messing with for a while.  It takes all of the info in those tracks and creates an aif file for each track freezed, which it refers to until you ‘thaw’ it to make changes to later, which frees up a ton of memory.  In my case, it gave me my ‘recording studio’ back.  So, just a little tip for those interested.

Blessings…

In case you didn’t know about this, if you haven’t followed their career very well, it’s worth checking out:

Honestly, production-wise their earlier work doesn’t have the ‘teeth’ I wish it did, in hind-sight – I actually prefer live versions of many of those songs off of their debut. And yes, if you have at any time in your life been a Jars of Clay fan, the consistent quality of their output means that there are surely fan favorites that are not included (I’m still in shock that the songs “Good Monsters”, “The Eleventh Hour”, “Collide” aren’t on here). However, if you’re already a bit more familiar with their work, and want a wee bit more ‘bang’ for just a little more ‘buck’, you may want to look here:

No, not ALL of these songs are ‘essential’, but it is a very solid collection.

That’s enough ‘reviews’, though.

I remember the Summer after my Junio year in college when a friend of mine (who was also their good friend – I think he was in the studio at some point with the band for all of their first 3 or 4 cds) pulled out a little demo called “Frail e.p.” and asked us to listen. At the time it didn’t really strike me as fantastic – we had been working in the studio on our first c.d., so we were feeling pretty over-confident about ourselves – but they were a good band, and pursuing some of the same ‘edge’ that my band at the time, Set on Edge, were toying with. We (both bands) were still playing coffee-house style venus (shortly there-after we would move up to ‘bars’ – they would move up to ‘stadiums’), so we talked on numerous occasions about doing shows together. In fact, at one point our drummer told them they might consider “opening for us sometime”. In hindsight, that’s quite funny. Through a strange set of circumstances involving one of the their sisters, two singles on their debut full-length ended up being produced by Adrian Belew, the lead singer and one of the guitarists of King Crimson, from whom – oddly enough – I had purchased an electric guitar just a couple years before (he lived in Cincinnati at the time). Belew’s touch took Jars of Clay’s sound into top 40 land, and one moment we were making phone calls to still try to finalize pulling together an elusive gig together, the next minute Jars of Clay were the opening act for Sting (you may have heard of him?), and totally in a league of their own.

Since then I’ve bought all of their c.d.’s, and I’m proud to say that they’ve done some really fine work. On occasion I’ve slipped back stage – some of them vaguely remember me. I’m fascinated also by how – in spite of how different our ‘careers’ have been, how our ‘theological journeys’ parallel each other very closely: the signs of that in their songwriting may be one of the reasons I’m still drawn to them, as they always seem to speak to me where I am. As it goes, the world moves on – times change. The largest audience Set on Edge ever had in one room was 3,000, and we only sold a little over 4,000 cd’s in our time – Jars, let’s just say, has done far better.

Sometimes it’s odd to look back over your life – not bad, but most definitely odd. That said, pick up one of these two discs. I think you’ll be very glad that you did.

“That’s not worship” or “They are not really worshipers” – there are few phrases which can come from someone’s mouth that sinks my heart deeper. Not that it might not be true: it is possible that there are people in any worship gathering whose heart is not turned towards God – in fact, given the nature of the flesh, there may be many of them. It may even, though I hate to think it, be whole congregations where few if any of the people gathered are worshiping the God of the Bible, as people tend towards worshiping a god of their imagination, instead of the God of revelation.

But how would you really know? Sure, there are outward signs, I guess – Biblical guidelines for what worship should look like, but those are broad and varied, and the Biblical descriptions no where say that it explains every aspect of what worship can or should look like. On top of that, there are Biblical examples of folks who may have done everything our accepted form of worship might expect to seem a ‘genuine worshiper’, yet their hearts were far from God – the worship was false.

I wrote a blog some time back on another aspect entirely of being a ‘worship critic’, but while thinking on this one I remembered one situation in particular that still stands out to me though it happened over 10 years ago. At the time I was attending a fairly conservative reformed church, and our corporate worship consisted of hymns played on piano, and singing – any song less that 150 years old there would be considered ‘that new one’ (and I only partially jest). I remember one occasion when a Pentecostal friend of mine visited on Sunday, and by the end of the service he was in tears. He said, “I’d never felt such a deep sense of the Spirit during worship before!” We sand songs like ‘And can it be’, ‘On Christ the Solid Rock’, ‘Be Thou my Vision’ (and those were the ‘rockers’!), off pitch and accompanied by a tiny upright – and there weren’t more than 100 of us in the room, and the Holy Spirit ruined that man in our midst.

You see, worship is about the heart, and it’s hard to discern the deep things of people’s hearts. Some of my deepest times of worship I seem outwardly expressionless, and sometimes when I’m totally ‘into it’, I’m actually TRYING to move my heart towards God, and my expression is pure will – not heart. That’s just to say, be very careful when judging other’s worship. It’s likely a far better project to judge the intention of our own hearts instead of the hearts of others.

amen…

Recently on one of the ‘lists’ I subscribe to online a fellow subscriber forwarded yet another email (this one from one of her personal friends) on the evils of secular music, and the blessings of Christian music. Though I admit that the heart behind her message was good, to draw such a line in the sand is nothing short of legalism.

You see, there is really no Christian/Secular distinction – at least I have yet to see a valid way for one to make such a distinction. For one, there is no Scriptural definition by which one can define music as ‘Christian’. A song can’t be ‘saved’, just because it’s written by a Christian doesn’t mean it’s content is necessarily Biblical, just because the content of a song is Biblical doesn’t mean it was necessarily written and/or performed by a Christian – the list goes on & on & on. Honestly, over the years I have known a good number of CCM musicians – and I know people who know a lot more than I do. Some of the ones who sing the most blatantly Jesus-centered middle-of-the-road ‘dear God please don’t offend a single soul‘ bland CCM, that mention Jesus every other line, and clone melodies and styles of music that were popular no more recently than 20 years ago, are – when not on stage – the most cursing, partying, and absolutely un-Jesus-like people you could ever meet. Likewise, some who don’t sing about Jesus WHATSOEVER (I have one in mind who’s released about 15 c.d.’s yet have never mentioned Jesus once in the lyrics, and has no openly Biblical themes), and rock so loud they’d scare your older siblings, let alone you grandma, are humble, Bible-believing, family men/women who are faithful believers in Christ.
So tell me, WHAT is a ‘Christian song’? Does Bach’s classical work count, particularly the stuff with no lyrics?
The only valid dinstinction I can think of is between music written explicitly for the Glory of the Biblical God, and that written for the Glory of another. Yet, with the former, sometimes an individual intent may be to glorify the Biblical God, but their theology is so askew that the results is actually the worship of a false God (since the song sings to Jesus, but not a Jesus that is actually written about in the Bible), and when considering the latter, which may have been intended to glorify someone other than God, such songs still glorify God in some sense as all creative acts point back to the creator. In fact, even something written explicitly to glorify God may not work to uplift my spirits and draw me closer to him, so in that case, it may be best that I avoid it.
What it really comes down to is “What do I personally feel edified by?“, which is an almost entirely subjective question, about which there are few very clear rules. Yeah, you PROBABLY shouldn’t listen to music with excessive cursing (though – to be honest – I have very rarely heard very powerful songs written by Christians, and about Biblical themes that have contained language some might find offensive, in order to drive home their point), and you PROBABLY shouldn’t listen to too much music written by people who’s overt intent is to undermine your faith through music. Other than that, I think the decision is yours…
What this means for me personally, as someone who deeply loves music, is that I need to stay in touch with my thoughts and emotions.  If I’ve had a rough day at work, and am tempted to be angry with God, I will likely need to ‘conform my mind’ by listening to explicitly God-glorifying corporate worship music, even though I may not want to.  However, if it’s a wonderful summer day, and all is well, I may just as easily worship God in my heart & mind while listening to some non-believers rockin’ out in French (okay, so I’m thinking particularly of Stereolab’s excellent song “Metronomic Underground”, which has accompanied me during many a wonderful Summer day).  There may be days that I need to mourn a loss, and I put on Vigilantes of Love’s Resplendent, but I need to remember not to stay there, for there is also a time to rejoice!
So, that’s it folks – there is no ‘Christian music’. Likewise, there is no ‘Secular music’. That said, be careful of what you take in, because music is powerful, and has the power to change your mind and move your heart. I suggest you make of point of evaluating where you mind and heart go when listening to music, and choose to listen to what moves you towards Christ.

Musical Flashbacks

March 11, 2008

So, I was eating with my family at Outback this past weekend, when I suddenly noticed a powerfully catching riff quickly above me coming from the speakers – I quickly excused myself from the table and moved around the room until I could better hear it. I was not wrong! It was “It’s a shame about Ray” by the Lemonheads – a song I used to have in regular rotation on one of my 3 different college radio shows back in the early 90s! As soon as we got home I went on an iTunes surfing fest from my early college days, and was engulfed by so many original, and fabulous melodies that I just had to share them, especially in light of my recent blog on Excellence & Creativity in Worship. Read the rest of this entry »

Wow.

March 3, 2008

Wow.

Read the rest of this entry »

So far this week I’ve left my house every day by 7:50 A.M. and haven’t yet been home before 10 P.M. Who knew when I scheduled my Dad & step-mom to visit from Thursday (today) till Sunday that it would turn out to be the same week as the GP fundraiser, Worship Night, and our new church facility’s grand opening?! Buy hey – who needs sleep?


1. TONIGHT: The Gathering Place‘s annual fundraiser at the Jekyll Convention Center is tonight, and I’M LEADING WORSHIP for it with a rockin’ inter-church youth band! The GP is what originally brought me to the Golden Isles and is, as a result, how I met my lovely wife, so we’ve got ‘history’, and I am very excited to be a part of this evening’s event. The speaker is Darrell Scott, and the event starts at 7 P.M.


2. TOMORROW: My church, St. Simons Community Church, is hosting a special ‘night of worship’ at 7 P.M. For most, it’ll be the ‘first taste’ of our new auditorium, and the first time corporate worship will take place in our new facility. We’ve been rehearsing all week, and Fred has not only picked a good set-list, but the new in-ear system takes things to a whole new level for us musicians – I can hear things I’ve NEVER noticed before, and it’s super cool. Tech aside, however, God is going to show up, and we want you to be there too!

Lastly, get your iTunes gift-card ready, and purchase THESE – it’s for your own good:

Friday Blog Love

February 22, 2008

Happy Friday! Just thought I’d spread some blog-love around before the weekend.

My friend (and one of my ‘bosses’, though that sounds so harsh & authoritarian), Fred McKinnon, has posted a pic of our new auditorium. It doesn’t represent the full room, but you can get a feel for it. I’m EXCITED!

I just discovered a very cool older post over at Fundamentally Reformed called THE RISE OF THE MODERN HYMN MOVEMENT, as well as a newer follow up post; MODERN HYMN WRITERS. Mandy, you should enjoy this. Being in a songwriting kick, myself, I found it fascinating.

One of my few living heroes, Tim Keller, has finished his new book THE REASON FOR GOD. Along with N.T. Wright‘s SIMPLY CHRISTIAN, this may be one of the best apologetics for the Biblical faith for post-moderns written to date. Good stuff.

Rich Kirkpatrick recently posted a very though provoking blog in his ‘Worship Mythbusters’ series entitled WORSHIP IS NOT ENTERTAINMENT.

I’ll be taking a much-needed blogging break until March 3rd.  Until we meet again!

Amen…and OUT.

Given how many ‘secular’ (I don’t actually BELIEVE in a Christian/Secular distinction, but I sometimes use it for the sake of simplicity) artists I talk about here, you may wonder why I mention them so often on a ‘Worship Blog’. Two words:

1. EXCELLENCE

2. CREATIVITY

God is great. He deserves our best – the ‘first fruit’. That is worship: giving God our best. Worship music – and all music made by Christians, which should be an act of bringing glory to God – should be original, inspiring, and – at least in some sense – cutting edge. This is one of the reasons I have been so convicted as of late to write new songs for worship, and to develop my craft as a writer: God deserves it.

God is also the creator, which is to say, He is the most creative being in the universe. We’re created in His image. Jesus is restoring us to that perfect image of God – our creator God: the creative God. Though there has been great headway made in this are the past few years, it should be the NORM, not the exception, that Christian be leading the pack in making music that is both excellent & creative, rather than creating more mediocre rip-offs of musical genres that are long passe to the culture at large.

Believe it or not, I listen to about 90% music that would be considered ‘Christian’ (as in, the artists either profess faith, and/or are on a ‘Christian label’ – whatever that means, and/or sing songs with messages primarily about Christian things – don’t fool yourself into thinking that all 3 of those must be in place in order for an artist to be labeled ‘Christian’ for marketing purposes, though), most of which is what would be called ‘worship music.’ Artists like Matt Redman, Eoghan Heaslip, Steve Jones, Jeremy Riddle, & the Sovereign Grace team encourage and inspire me: their songs are fresh, Biblical, challenging, and frankly I NEED that – I need to drink from that well. But they have their influences, and I only receive those musical influences distilled – watered-down – when I step into the stream at it’s end. I find it FAR more helpful, and far more challenging for me as a musician and a writer, to wander up-stream to it’s sources.

For instance, if you want to be the next Delirious stop sitting in your room trying to play “My Glorious”, and don’t even bother thinking you’re cutting edge by learning a U2 song – pick up My Bloody Valentine‘s LOVELESS (yes, those are GUITARS). Learn “Only Shallow” or “Loomer”, which inspired U2 to make their classic “Achtung Baby”, which then inspired 1,000s of clones in both Christian and Secular markets, even many ‘worship artists’. Besides, if you can work your effects and manipulate your guitar to sound like My Bloody Valentine, you will have no problems pulling off tunes that could tie Delirious in knots if you worked at it.

Similarly, if you want to explore the dreamier side of Brit-pop as a songwriter or musician, you may want to pick up “Serene Velocity” – an anthology by Stereolab, even though you’ll understand less than half the words (much of it is in France), and what little you’ll understand will primarily be political pro-socialism garbage. Yes, ahh – the music: a blend of Hip-Hop, Funk, Jazz, Chamber Pop, 50’s Lounge, Vintage Electronica, and ‘Krautrock’ – I THINK it fits somewhere in the ‘Rock’ category, but that’s debatable. I personally discovered a few of their early EPs as I was discovering the whole 4AD & Shoegazer music scenes in the 90s, and they had a long-term influence on my use of counter-melody and syncopation in many of my own songs. Here’s a good, balanced compilation of their tunes from the beginning until now. It might not be your cup of tea, but if you’re looking to expand your palette, here’s a good place to start.

And please, let’s not be derivative – good music should open our mind to the almost endless possibilities we have as songwriters and musicians…push yourselves. Remember: He deserves our BEST.

So, I’m apparently finding it hard to keep up.

A couple of the Saint Lewis band-members had been nagging me to check out a few new worship artists, saying that they were ‘over Hillsong United’, and were now listening to Planetshakers and Generation Unleashed.  I didn’t think anything of the comment until today I stumbled across both bands on iTunes and thought I’d give them a listen.  WHOAH!  How’d I miss this?

Honestly, I’ve not yet listened all the way through, nor have I inspected their lyrics (I don’t introduce new material that is unScriptural or terribly unbalanced, no matter how good it sounds), however my interest is most definitely peaked.

Here are both bands latest available releases from iTunes.

From what little I’ve heard, I think I like Generation Unleashed better than Planetshakers, but that could easily change.

So, have any of you heard (or heard of) these folks?  What do you know?  What do you think of them?  Why have you been holding out on me?  Please comment this one…

thanks

Last night we played “Alive” by P.O.D.

Aaron ‘rapped’/sang the verses and I sang the choruses.

Given the tiny amount of prep that went into, it REALLY sounded pretty good.

I love our Youth Group.

In other strangeness, I’ve been writing a new Saint Lewis tune, which is almost finished. I re-read the lyrics after returning from INSIDE OUT and realized that they almost exactly parallel last night’s teaching by Jon…confirmation that God is doing something VERY specific among us right now. Good stuff.

I’ve known about IHOP (International House of Prayer, KC) since they were about a year old. I discovered them around the same time that God so kindly reminded me that He was NOT a duality, but a Trinity (Hello Holy Spirit!), thanks, in part, to my friend Don Williams‘ book The Person & Work of the Holy Spirit. In fact, one of my ‘living heros’, Sam Storms, is connected to their ministry in many ways since the beginning.  I didn’t listen to any IHOP music until Misty Edwards debut, Eternity, was released in ’03. Since then a number of my friends have gone to IHOP for various periods of time, I’ve explored a lot of their music, alleviated a few of my more serious doctrinal concerns (which, I found also were quite justified in their early days), and found that Mike Bickle’s view of the end-times is quite interesting and attractive, even to a ‘partial-preterist‘-leaning fellow like myself.

Well, though IHOP related artists have released some very powerful c.d.s in the past few years (see the fore-mentioned Misty Edwards, Jason Upton, or Isa Couvertier), much of which I LOVE for times of personal worship, most IHOP material is simply not practical for even the most adventurous contemporary congregation. That being said, I think IHOP may be moving in the right direction with their newest release, IMMERSED.

Heather, our Youth Vocal Coordinator, who – I believe – I may have introduced to Misty Edwards’ music myself a number of years back, has done a great job at keeping me up-to-date on all-things IHOP. This week to dropped into my hands a few samples from IMMERSED and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – it was CLEARLY IHOP, yet with corporate worship potential! My absolute favorite was “Stir up the Flame”, but another stand-out was “Shine on Us”. The songs are singable, melodic, & Scripture-based, and the music is captivating. Thank you Heather – now I need to buy the whole disc!

Be encouraged to follow the above links to explore this new release, which should also be available on iTunes soon. I think it’ll be worth it if you do.

I’ve always enjoyed conferences. I come away from them rested (even apart from getting no sleep, oft-times!), encouraged, challenged, and just plain excited, with a fresh of vision of what I can do and how things can be. Wouldn’t it be nice to take your whole team to a conference? Unfortunately, that’s just plain not feasible, given the complexities of people’s schedules, and financial issues. So a few years back I began putting on my own ‘mini-conferences’ for my youth group musicians, and those interested in one day being on the team, which I call ‘Youth Worship Workshops’. They’ve done well for us, not only in giving the youth a new vision for our team and a new passion for worshiping God, but also as essentially ‘try-outs’ to discover and invest in future talent which will slowly be integrated into, and one day replace, the current team. If you’re a worship leader an interested in doing one at your church, here’s the basics of what we do: Read the rest of this entry »

This past Sunday was such an encouragement to me. After a hard week at both jobs, I just didn’t know how Sunday morning would go. I felt beat down, tired, and discouraged on all fronts, so what’s the next obvious thing to do?: WORSHIP GOD! How true that is! One thing that did strike me as a real blessing was how God led me in choosing the songs before I even knew what David was preaching on. It didn’t dawn on me until I sat through David’s sermon on Sunday morning how perfect the songs were – every one tied into and emphasized the overall message that morning. Such a blessing! Thank you, Holy Spirit! Read the rest of this entry »

I take great joy in tracking down new worship songs, as it provides for me new opportunities – fresh words – to worship God with privately, and sometimes new tunes to guide our youth upon a path towards seeing God more fully. Here are a few of my more exciting discoveries over the past few months: Read the rest of this entry »

So, here’s the proof. I know I’ve been SAYING that Saint Lewis is recording a c.d. for ages now, but TODAY I HAVE PROOF. Please visit SAINT LEWIS’s myspace page and listen to song #2, a VERY ROUGH, and quite unfinished demo of my original song “You Came Running”. The only thing that we’ll be keeping from this version are some of the acoustic guitars and the drums, but it’s enough to get a sense of the song’s vibe. The vocals, electric, bass, and etc are all ‘scratch’ tracks, but the band will be coming over this next week and putting the finishing touches on this song, and others. So, here I stand – baring it all it it’s rawest form. I pray this song, even as it now is, blesses you. Thanks for listening.

The Soundtrack of my Year

December 20, 2007


Copeland – Eat, Sleep, Repeat

Yes, it was released in 2006, but I received it as a Christmas gift last year from my brother-n-law, McKendree, so I spent most of 2007 discovering the beauty of this release. At first, it slipped right by me almost unnoticed, yet with every ‘audible glance’ another hook would step forth, beckoning me to come – enjoy – refresh myself. Then my eyes were opened. This is by far the best music I’ve heard in YEARS. Read the rest of this entry »

Towards the end of my freshman year in college I went on a retreat with our local Campus Crusade for Christ at Ohio University. That weekend I became friends with Steve Rieske. Read the rest of this entry »

Me B.C.

December 15, 2007

Today I stumbled across old live footage from the band God most directly used to lead me to trust Christ. Though I don’t ‘head-bang’ like I once did, something about this clip still puts a smile on my face. Good times.

p.s. – they’ve recently reunited to record a new c.d. In spite in my changed musical tastes, I may still buy it, even if just as a ‘thank you.’

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” —1 Peter 5:5

What a wonderful night! First, God had been convicting a number of us leaders on the importance of humility and unity among our team, and we – in our prayer meeting before INSIDE OUT – leaders began to set forth a vision for the evening: humble dependence, desperate thirst and hunger for God’s Spirit, and repentance. Then we prayed, with the call to not leave the prayer room until we’re really ready. God showed up. Heather, our ‘Vocal Coordinator’, went into much greater detail in her latest blog: Broken Things. I think the key for this night was that ‘worship’ began long before the music or singing – an important lesson for all of us. Read the rest of this entry »

4 A.D.

December 7, 2007

During one of my recent times randomly surfing around iTunes looking for new music (as I am prone to do), I stumbled across an incredible set of compilations from one of my favorite bands in college: Cocteau Twins.

Read the rest of this entry »

I recently was chosen to review a Christmas c.d., but I’ll have to be honest with you: I’m not a really big fan of Christmas music. There are a few artists/albums which I enjoy, such as Over the Rhine’s Snow Angels, Jars of Clay’s Christmas Songs, and Bruce Cockburn’s Christmas, but generally I find Christmas music either stale and overused, or just ridiculous and annoying. In light of those critiques, Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God become Man – though not a spotless gem – is indeed a breath of fresh air, and has been spinning almost continually since I received it over a week ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Matthew Perryman Jones

November 28, 2007

For all of you U2 & Coldplay fans out there, my old friend Matthew Perryman Jones‘ music is FINALLY available on iTunes! He and my old band, Set on Edge, used to occasionally play together at the Bean’ry in Athens, GA, and Eddies Attic in Decatur, GA. Read the rest of this entry »

What a refreshing morning! I don’t know exactly what it is about leading worship – maybe the Spirit’s anointing? – but I feel so energized by mornings like this one! Read the rest of this entry »

Sadly I don’t have time for an in-depth review, but I do want to give a heads-up on two new ‘worship’ releases.

First, a disappointment: I’ve long been a fan of the Desperation Band from New Life Church. Songs like “I am Free”, “Amazed”, “Beauty of the Lord”, and “Rescue” have been some of my most oft-used, and favorite corporate worship songs these past few years, and I even enjoyed their last c.d., though I didn’t end up using anything from it in our services. Read the rest of this entry »

I got to play electric guitar (the delay, wah-wah, & distorted type) on “All because of Jesus” by Steve Fee last night during walk-in music.  Yeah, other stuff happened, and we worshiped God, and had fun games, BUT…
…I got to play electric guitar last night, and if I may say so, I ripped it up!

That was SO MUCH FUN!

Discuss. 😉

my “kids”…

October 17, 2007

I’m very proud of my “kids”.

As many of you know, the ‘Inside Out Band’ – the Sr. High youth worship band I’ve been working with since May of ’03 – played alongside 4 other bands (not ‘youth bands’, mind you) at the Baby Boom benefit concert this past Friday night. Not only did we worship like only God was there, but we rocked HARD while we were at it. Don’t believe me? Read the rest of this entry »

For those who missed it, please read part 1 first – at least the intro – before diving into this blog. Otherwise, here are 3 more:

The One I LoveREM
Blood & RosesSmithereens
Prayers for Rain
The Cure Read the rest of this entry »

After re-watching the REM video from yesterday’s blog, and due to recently starting to record a new c.d. with my wife as Saint Lewis, it really made me step-back and personally reflect on the songs that have really had a long-term impact on my songwriting Read the rest of this entry »

My pulse is up…

October 8, 2007

Man. Maybe I’m just OLD, but WOW – this video just TOTALLY PUMPED ME!

I remember the first time I heard “Orange Crush” Read the rest of this entry »

Praise God, yesterday was a good morning! In spite of odd rehearsal times (we were on staff retreat during our normal rehearsal time, so we had to re-schedule for Monday), 2 of our regular musicians being unavailable to play, and numerous vocalists being unavailable (in one week I had 4 cancellations that I had to reschedule for!), everything went fairly smoothly, and we had a BALL! Read the rest of this entry »

Sojourn Community Church

Holy smokes, where in the WORLD did THIS Worship c.d. COME FROM? Read the rest of this entry »

I wish I had written this…

September 24, 2007

I do wish that I had written this, not because I agree with every word (though he makes a few good points), but because I’ve passed through this phase and understand where this man is coming from. I think it’s important to keep in mind that there are a great number of folks that feel this way (particularly many men) within our congregations, and we need to keep in mind that this is a segment of the folks we are ministering to as well. So, here you go ‘worship leaders’: I am not in love with Jesus by John Stackhouse.

p.s. – you need to read through the responses as well.

For starters, let me suggest, if you are at a larger church with multiple worship environments, leaders, and teams, that those leading the various environments communicate regularly – it’ll help you to avoid scheduling the same musicians in different environments at the same time, which we just narrowly avoided this week, thanks to the wonders of text-messaging and Planning Center Online, which takes me to another issue entirely: it may be possible to convince me of the legality and even importance of human cloning, especially as it relates to good drummers. 🙂 Read the rest of this entry »

Just stuff…

September 14, 2007

Fred McKinnon, the Music Director at St. Simons Community Church, has posted a very interesting continuation of The Original Mudpuppy‘s blog on how one becomes a ‘professional worship leader’. Knowing this would be of interest to some of my readers, I had to pass that along.  It has the potential to be a very interesting discussion.

Over at PerryNoble.com (again, thanks Fred), is an excellent post; 8 Things I think every Worship Leader should Know with Lee‘s excellent response (that’s Perry’s worship pastor), 7 Things Worship Leaders wished their Senior Pastor Knew. I think both articles are spot-on and well worth reading.

Lastly, Vineyard Music has a new download available – the excellent “All I Have” from Vineyards newest, Stand in Awe. Not only can you download the song for free, but also its’ chord-chart. Now, give me one good reason why you wouldn’t do this? That’s what I thought.

I hope you have a beautiful weekend!

This is the last of my machine-gun fire Worship TextFessionals: 3 in 4 days!

Last night was our first ‘normal’ INSIDE OUT meeting of the Fall Semester. INSIDE OUT is the High School youth ministry of St. Simons Community Church. Read the rest of this entry »

Wow. This is proving to be a very busy week.

Monday afternoon my friend Ben called me and asked if I would be willing to lead his team on Tuesday night at Elevate, a local college ministry run by the Gathering Place. Since I love any opportunity to worship and lead worship, I jumped on it.

After breaking a string during sound-check, I restrung my main guitar during our short break, and decided to lead off with my back-up, while the new string ‘settled in’. Read the rest of this entry »

This was a strange Sunday, I admit it. I felt as though I got everything I wanted this past Sunday, except for God showing up and giving us all a glorious Holy Spirit whooping. I had really been hoping to utilize several members of our youth band some Sunday soon, as it had been a while since we’d had a ‘youth Sunday’ at church, and our Inside Out Band has been in ‘top form’ as of late, and I really enjoy the opportunity to lead with them. So, I was really excited when I discovered that a couple of our ‘1st Chair’ Sunday morning musicians would be unavailable that week. It also worked out, since our primary Inside Out Band drummer was unavailable, that I was able to invite Saint Lewis‘s drummer, Jaimie, to sit in with us – I consider him one of my better friends, and since he and I were raised in the same ‘musical era’, our tastes and styles compliment one another quite nicely. That’s just to say: I love playing with him! Read the rest of this entry »

In an attempt to keep our youth worship ‘cutting edge’ and relevant I have our youth musicians & vocalists, and those connected with the various musical aspects of our youth environments, suggest new songs and, combining it with a few picks of my own, have all involved vote on which ‘new’ (sometimes, as is the case with this list, ‘new to us’) songs we will introduce over the next 4 – 6 months. Well, the results are in, and if you’re a worship leader and not familiar with these songs, I suggest you open up your iTunes and CCLI’s SongSelect and start downloading tunes and chord charts immediately! Here they are, in order of popularity… Read the rest of this entry »

As a songwriter I’m influenced by many different things. In fact, as a Christian, often I find myself quite surprised by what I’m drawn to write about, which at times has me second guessing myself. For instance, is it okay for a Christian to write a song about sex, like Vigilantes of Loves’ catchy ditty “Love Cacoon” or the Prayer Chain’s (though it was penned by members of the Choir) intensely moving “Bendy Line”? The mere fact that I linked those two songs will, for some, open a whole bag of worms, though both were written by self-professed Christians, the first by an a former elder at my last church – while he was still an elder there – and the later by one of the producers and writers of a huge amount of the contemporary worship songs we sing today, such as “God of Wonders”, to name only one. Yet, there is an entire book of the Bible on love-making, so it’s not un-Biblical to do so, is it? What about ‘murder’, a topic that Pedro the Lion, at one time one of my favorite bands, has composed multiple records on? Or what of ‘war’? Or, what of the time I was in a more traditional church where there was a reading of Psalm 137, where-in the last line is “Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!” Is such appropriate content for a Biblical song or movie? If proper context were given, could possibly a ‘corporate worship’ song be written – in good conscience – around such a Scripture? Remember 2 Timothy 3:16: “ALL SCRIPTURE is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” – if so, can it not also be good for use in worship? Read the rest of this entry »

Stand in Awe

I admit it: I missed much of the ‘contemporary worship’ movement at first. A few bad experiences had led me to grow quickly untrusting of the whole enterprise, and I spent from ’96 to ’02 singing primarily hymns, and on occasion – when feeling really edgy – re-worked hymns. It was the lyrics of Matt Redman’s incredible Where Angels fear to Tread that changed all of that. Not only was it a guitar driven rock record that came out of the gate with both guns firing, the lyrics were thoroughly Biblical, and almost hymn-like in their depth and beauty. I was playing leading “Blessed be Your Name” almost a whole year before it hit radio, as well as the incredible “Lord, let Your Glory Fall” and “Wonderful Maker”. To this day Redman is an inspiration to me and I purchase his records without a second though as soon as one is released. Read the rest of this entry »