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Archive for the month “November, 2011”

Album Review: The God Anthology

The God Anthology

I like the idea of concept albums… I don’t however always like the albums themselves. So when I heard National Community Church (N.C.C.) lead by pastor and author Mark Batterson was releasing an album around some of the attributes of God I have to say I was interested… I where do you start when you’re talking about God?

As it turns out the actual answer may be where would you finish talking about the attributes of God.

This is a really well done album, especially since it’s tackling such a huge topic… and by huge I mean immeasurable. The NCC team of songwriters and worship leaders have done a fabulous job in creating songs that really let you reflect on a different aspect of God, but not only that… but what it means to us as a body of believers, especially when God in our society is becoming more like a one trick ‘love’ pony.

Now I’m from New Zealand… a country that is renown for punching above our weight… claiming the first man to climb Mount Everest, when everyone else told us it couldn’t be done… and Peter Jackson creating the Lord of The Rings trilogy… but not only having the guts to attempt it… but do ALL three movies at the same time. And it’s with this gutsy determination that NCC have tackled a huge task in this album… and God has anointed it.

One thing the song writers have done really well is to not only give great melody… but also great lyrics that stay with you in your mind for ages.

For me… one stung extra hard in the Portishead tinged song attributed to a ‘God of Wrath’ called “Day of Rescue”

“A hanging execution
A ruthless resolution
Out of wrath true love has sprung

and it’s lyrics like this that are really cleverly thought out… and divinely inspired, as we often look to the Wrath of God negatively and even try to skip over it in the Bible, because it doesn’t fit our expectations of who God is.

And I’m grateful for this album… I’m grateful that along with Gods attributes like Love, Beauty, Mercy and faithfulness NCC have tackled wrath, jealous and the mystery of God.

This is a great album… go onto iTunes and buy it. Every single Christian should be listening to things that give us a bigger view of God, because “there is nothing more important than a right understanding of God.”

As A.W. Tozer once said

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

So lets think about God, and thanks to NCC we can do it to a soundtrack… WIN!

 

Album Review: Jesus Culture – Awakening ‘Live from Chicago’

I always get nervous when I’m  about to listen to an album where the average song is about 6 minutes each, and there is two disc’s…

On my lap was the new album by Jesus Culture ‘Awakening – Live in Chicago’… a Live worship album in a sea of Live worship albums, can this album stand up against Live albums from Hillsong, Planetshakers even Matt Redman weighed into the live worship album battle.

So what makes this album different?

Well… for a start this is Jesus Culture, and this is a Jesus Culture album… and live is where they are at their best. They’ve never been a band that has played by the rules… in fact they seem to have stumbled to their own style as they’ve come on this ‘worship’ journey… and they view their world differently.

Jesus Culture call themselves ‘a new breed of emerging revivalists’ so what does that mean? Mainly they are wanting to help ignite revival through connecting people in worship, ‘reawakening’ Christian values and commitment to God and God’s word…

Sonically the music is very much in line with indie based worship that you would hear from groups like ‘Hillsong United’ – but not as polished (which isn’t a bad thing) – but the lyrics are very much walking you through the Gospel message… but the thing that’s interesting is that this is an album to re-awaken the hearts of those who have believed, and so it’s an album full of reaffirmation… rather than new conversion or just praising God because he’s God. Now don’t get me wrong all that stuff is in their too… but if you were to stand back and view the album obectively as a theme… Awakening is most apt… so a two thumbs up from Jesus Culture from the outset.

The album starts of with the indie sounding keyboard that you would expect hear on a a David Crowder Band album… and from the start the band are showing they’re not hiding anything… there is nothing up their sleeve… this is about good honest music and being honest to God “Eyes to see and ears to hear your calling, our hearts respond to your Spirit falling” – now I’m not going to get into the theological aspect of the songs on this album as I am yet to hear one whole album that would line up with everyone’s theological view perfectly – this is not about theology this is about honest praise to God.

I like the reoccurring theme of repentance that comes up throughout the album… there is a real sense of never being the same after this moment, you will see the world in new light, and I like that… it’s a turning away of your old life.

The more I listen to the album the more I’m reminded about how church music used to be… when we would be able to go into ‘free worship’ and that meant something different to just a ‘instrumental’ or ‘guitar solo’

Jesus Culture’s aim seems to be giving people the promises of God in nice bite sized chunks… and they are more than happy to let you sit on the same phrase from phrases like “There is power in the name of Jesus… Break every chain, Break every chain” and to “Have Your way, Have Your way, Have Your way’,

A couple of things make this album work as a worship album… one of which is Kim Walker Smith’s voice… holy smoke Batman, what a powerful yet tender instrument…

The other is the focus… it’s all on God and it’s all about reminding Gods people, that they are part of this might army and that we are to stand on the promises of God…

This is a long album… filled with every aspect of the event… this is great if you’re needing something to help with freed worship at home… however I’m unsure if you would want to listen to the free worship EVERY time you listened to the album…

This album is release 29/11/11

www.manna.co.nz

 

 

David Crowder Band “Let me feel you Shine”

10th of January 2012 marks the end of an era…  one of the bands to push truly the boundaries of church music David Crowder Band will be releasing their final album  ‘Give Us Rest or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys])’ -

The final album tips it’s hat to all the past DC*B albums and moves across ALL the genres that have made this band the ground breaking juggernaut that they are today… and nothing is sacred (or maybe it all is)  as the band recreates worship music playing with pop, rock,  electronic and of course bluegrass.

The album features the new DC*B song “Let me feel you shine”…

If you haven’t heard it watch the YouTube video below

and if you do like it you can buy it from iTunes HERE:

So for your aural pleasure… here is the first single from the final album “Let me Feel You Shine”

 

Are your prayers gutless???

Image of a thunderstorm line (in dBZ) seen on ...

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever read a verse in the Bible and been stopped in your tracks by what you read?

I have… and this is the verse:

“Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!” James 5:17

Whoa… talk about conviction.

Did you read that?

“Elijah was as human as we are…” and yet he had the guts enough to pray that it stopped raining… and it did… for over three years!

What are your prayers like?

Are they like this maybe? “Dear God be with us??”

Why do you even pray that? Didn’t God say that he would NEVER leave us or forsake us??

Now please hear me… I  pray this type of prayer to… yep guilty and I kinda know the heart behind it so I’m not saying it’s wrong however it’s short of the kind of prayers you COULD be praying. Here is the deal.

The Bible is full of ordinary men and women who prayed BIG GUTSEY prayers… and the rain stopped… or the sun stopped in it’s tracks or battles were won… not because of anything that they had done… but because they had the Kahunas to pray BIG and expected God (the maker of all things) to live up to his promises… and do it BIG time…

But here’s the thing… these people weren’t praying for new cars or boats or MP3 players (mainly because these things weren’t invented) they were praying, reminding God of the things he had ALREADY promised… they were merely standing on Gods promises.

So do you have the guts… the audacity to pray BIG prayers?

Or are you happy with the mediocre?

 

 

 

It’s not about you…

Do you ever get the feeling that God is trying to tell you  something???

I get it all the time… and God obviously knows that I’m a slow learner so for the last couple of weeks, I have been listening to podcasts from 3 or 4 different pastors and ALL of them have focused on the same idea… and the idea (or thought/lesson) is “It’s not about YOU… it’s NEVER been about YOU”

Whoa… that’s a hard lesson to learn.

1st time I heard it it was like “yeah… I get that”

2nd time I heard it it was like “hey… this guys preaching on the same topic”

3rd time “ok ok… I get the point… I’ll listen!!”

AND THEN… to really drive the point home… I read the chapter in the Bible where one of Jesus’ good friends was sick and he was dying and MAry and Martha sent a message that pretty much said “come quick it’s not looking good”…

So what did Jesus do?

He waited a couple of days and by the time he got there… his friend was not only dead… but dead and buried.

Can you IMAGINE the agony Mary and Martha had been through… they would have sent message in hope that because it was a good friend that Jesus would have come running… but he didn’t… was he being insensitive? I mean he was healing strangers left right and centre but he couldn’t even find time for his mate… in fact he took his sweet time.

And then he says this…

“And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” – John 11:15

How insensitive… you mean to say even while everyone was going through this hard time Jesus was saying… “it’s not about YOU”

You can hear the frustration in Mary and Martha’s voice…

“if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” – John 11:21

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” – John11:32

“by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” – John11:39

Then  Jesus turned to the tomb and said this prayer

“Father, I thank you that you have heard me You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me” and then he said “Lazarus come out”

So basically he was saying this “I’m only doing this show so that know one thinks it’s just me… this is for YOUR glory”

You see sometimes we are so focused on the pain that WE are going through that we don’t realise that God is holding off to REALLY show his Glory

That God is holding off because he’s got something BETTER to show you…

You see we think it’s about US?

When it never was?

It was ALWAYS about him… because for the really BIG miracles to happen… we need to go through the biggest amount of pain sometimes.

Have you  noticed the BIG miracles happen when we HAVE to let God be… GOD???

FOR his Glory… We’re Here for HIM.

Album Review: Newsboys ‘Gods Not Dead’

Newsboys - 'God's Not Dead'

I love covers of songs, I like hearing how someone else other than the songwriter interprets a song… I have most recently become fond of cover song of worship or church music… why? Well it started off because a lot of the churches I have been involved in didn’t have 3 guitarists like groups like Hillsong or Planetshakers, and lots of church didn’t have guys with a vocal range like Chris Tomlin and some of them were coming so technically hard it made it hard for church bands to play… so I started to look at new versions of old or harder to play songs…

So with this in mind I was excited to hear that Newboys were releasing an album of worship songs.

Now this album of worship songs had been in the pipeline for a while… even before the addition of new front-man Michael Tait and even before the release of last years album ‘Born Again’. This is the first album since 2003′s Adoration, and 2004′s Devotion to be solidly worship songs.

The album starts of with ‘The King is coming’ and it’s very clear from the start that this is going to be a pop/rock album which is refreshing with the range of Hillsong United want to be/sound alike bands out in the Christian market place at the moment… it’s actually refreshing to hear pop-rock worship songs.

This album is like a who’s who of church Anthems… The jewel in this albums crown is the first single featuring Kevin Max of DC talk fame ‘God’s Not Dead
(Like a Lion)’ the Daniel Bashta hit song that has already had the David Crowder Band treatment to it for the Passion album ‘Awakening’ and hearing the Newsboys version of it takes it up a notch… in fact the further through this album you go the more you realise how BIG some of these choruses really are…

This album is like the greatest hits of BIG choruses… Mighty to Save by Hillsong, Savior of the World by Ben Cantelon and Revelation song made famous by Kari Jobe and more recently Jesus Culture… these are all church songs with BIG strong choruses,  proclaiming God’s mighty power, love and grace.

Something I would have loved on this album is more softer songs, songs that really draw you in… as much as I love the BIG songs they all start to get lost within each other… all of them individually are great songs, however on an album together they all seem a bit smaller next to the next song…

For me, the highlight of the album is ‘I am Second’ a song that sits differently to the other song, and rocks with a little more swagger as  Kevin Max makes a grand appearance singing with his old DC talk off-sider Michael Tait… (ahhh the memories) – the song sets a great platform for the www.iamsecond.com movement that inspires others from all works of life to live for God and live for others.

If you’re looking for an album of large church anthems that will fill any hall… this is the album you are looking for… if you’re looking for an album full of variety… maybe not so much.

 

Don’t forget your roots…

Standing upon the shoulders of giants

Standing on the shoulders of Giants

One of my favourite songs at the moment is the song by New Zealand group Six60 called ‘Don’t forget your roots’ and I love it… not only do I love the song but I love the image of not forgetting our past.

It reminds me of the image Isaac Newton used when he quoted John of Salisbury when he talked about ‘Standing on the shoulder of Giants’ which was alluding to the fact he was able to see where the future was going by standing on the beliefs and efforts of those who had gone before.

In New Zealand I think back at people like David Lange and the government at the time standing up against a super power to make a stand against Nuclear ships coming into New Zealand.

The All Blacks this year brought back the ‘white collar’ to their playing strip as a sign of respect for the All Black side that won the first Rugby world cup in 1987… they were inspired by their past.

I am very very honoured to be an honourary member of the 26 Australian Infantry Battalion a group of men who fought for our freedom in World War II (My Grandpa was part of this group) – I remember marching with the Battalion in the ANZAC day parade that marched through some of the main streets of Melbourne. I was a lasting memory for me and I remember people waiving Australian flags and yelling out “thanks guys for fighting for our freedom here in Australia” – I remember holding back tears at one stage of the march as I realised that I have my freedom as I’m standing on the shoulders of the people who have gone before.

As a Christian our ‘roots’ go back even further and even deeper… not only are we standing on the shoulders of giants, who were martyred, thrown in prison, fought for equality, for freedom… but we’re standing on the shoulders of Gods word.

I get frustrated with people who try and justify the Bible to fit in with their own theology… the Bible has remained constant over thousands of years… the Bible itself is a library of books written over thousands of years in itself and has this amazing thread of continuity… it was inspired by God.

It’s good to question your past… and learn from your past… in fact it’s wise to do so… however when you start to question things, just for the sake of questioning them… not only is it unwise, but it is being disrespectful of those who fought hard to bring you to this place to start off with.

Are you standing on the shoulders of giants so you have a better view of the future?

Or is your ego so inflated that you think you can make your own future without the need to look forward from the vantage point of those who have gone before?

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