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Album Review: Charlie Hall – ‘The Rising’

You really have to feel sorry for Charlie Hall.The Rising

As a worship leader he’s stuck between two great worship leaders who also just happen to be great songwriters as well. Charlie is almost as eccentric as David Crowder with his use of both electronic and acoustic instrumentation -even with matching ‘crazy man beards’ – but he falls short in the bringing them together… to a point that at times it just sounds quirky, which works well at times, just not all the time.

On the other hand Charlie’s songwriting is solid, blurring the edges between what is seen as traditional style of contemporary worship music -albeit with an alternative edge and secular music -the kind of music anyone would hear on the radio by Life House or The Fray, which I believe is needed because  church worship should reflect what is happening in the world and pointing us towards heaven… but that’s a whole blog right there.

Like Matt Redman, Charlie is good at interpreting  Christianize and putting it into language that we would all use as normal human beings, in normal conversation, the difference is Matt Redman has this amazing ability to be able to make it sound intelligent and his songwriting has that U2 ‘zing’ to it… While in comparison Charlie Hall’s songwriting is simple… simple rhyme, simple phrases – and it just doesn’t seem to challenge you as a listener, there’s no need to really dive in and submerge yourself in Charlies writing because it’s all there in front of you… I personally like to be pushed and challenged both musically and lyrically in worship just like when I read the Scriptures and it feels like sometimes Charlie is playing Worship nursery rhymes.

I know that it’s not fair to play comparisons but Charlie Hall has fallen from the song leader who was most likely to push boundaries in the Christian scene to someone who is almost pushing the alternative envelope… falling from someone who put words in a fresh new way to someone who has forgotten the importance of measuring and fussing over every words and every phrase – it may not be that way but  it comes across lazy.

I was left feeling disappointed – not gutted – just ho hum about The Rising… Charlie has so much potential as someone who could really push boundaries in the worship music scene, but has been left floundering somewhere between Matt Redman and DCB while new artists like Gundor start to out Charlie – Charlie Hall.

The Rising is a good album, but not a great album… certainly worth a listen, my personal preference is to download your favourite songs from the album… but as yet… I’m not convinced enough to by the whole album. New songs will shine on this as people start to hear them living in that personal setting known as The Concert with 50000 people singing along with you.

Key tracks: Let Earth Awake, Make me Alive – purely for the guitar riff that Orson would be proud of.

Stand Firm Soldier…

NYC - Metropolitan Museum of Art - Field Armor...

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I recently preached a sermon on Prayer and since then everything that can get in the way of me spending time with the Lord has been there. Family issues, timing issues, work issues… issues, issues issues… they’ve all ‘just suddenly’ started happening and it’s really distracting.

Most recently my wife and I were about to go to our growth group – a place where a small group talk about God and pray for each other on a more personal level… anyway… one of our girls who was fine a few minutes before hand ‘all of a sudden’ felt really ill and had diarrhea meaning only one of us could go… it was distracting.

And I thought… yep this is exactly what the enemy tries to do, he distracts and he tries to hit you from ALL angles

In The Bible its says:

“Put on all of Gods armour so that you will be able to stand firm against ALL strategies and tricks of the Devil” Eph 6:10

You see the Devil uses tricks and he uses distractions to stop you doing things that will help your growth, as Christians…

  • Are you finding it hard to pray?
  • Is The Bible suddenly really hard to read?
  • Are there distractions that are stopping you read The Bible
  • Are there distractions that are stopping you from praying?
  • Are there distractions that are stopping you from spending time with your partner… your soul mate?

the it may be that you’re heading in the right direction and the Devil doesn’t want you to grow anymore in that area… you may even start to see a pattern emerging… think about it….

Sometimes it’s easy to just get caught up in the flow of the business… but we need to make God our priority…

In Ephesians it tells us to “put on the Armour or God” because we’re not dealing with things we can see – we’re dealing with a spiritual realm… and by doing this -putting on Gods armour with ‘Faith as your shield‘ we can STAND FIRM even though it may seem like you’re in the middle of a large giant pickle.

We need to “Pray at ALL times and on Every occasion”… that ALL the time… it’s find to pray in the middle of strife, but wouldn’t you want to hand it over to God BEFORE you got into trouble, because at least you know that God has full control of this situation.

And Lastly… stay ALERT… be persistent.

As I mentioned, it could be easy to think you’re just in a dry patch or just having a tough time but when you can see that there is a pattern emerging….

Like everytime you go to pray something distracts you… Push on through… be persistent

Like when you schedule family time or your own personal time for Bible reading, the phone rings or someone keeps dropping by… keep being persistent

It may seem like you’re alone in these times, but God is just a whisper away – in fact he’s closer than that if you think that the power of God is within you… You see he’s got your back, while you battle forward being persistent… not giving an inch of ground.

“no weapon formed against us shall prosper”

STAND FIRM soldier!

God wants to Hunt You Down…

killing time... with a bullitt

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To say I love Psalm 23 is a understatement… I have made it unofficially our families Bible verse… you all know it I’m sure, “the Lord is my shepherd I will lack nothing, he leads me down to rest in green meadows, he leads me beside peaceful streams…” and it goes on but the part of the verse I’m loving at the moment is this part:

“Surely goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life”

– NLT version

Now in some versions it’s says “follow me all the days of my life” but this doesn’t even come close to what the original Hebrew said… you see the word used to get “follow” is actually a hunting term meaning to pursue or capture – one place it was translated “bloody avenger” one commentator has noted that “this is the only place where this verb and this noun are combined and coupled together in Scripture”… and if you think about it, that’s pretty cool.

But now picture this… God is wanting to hunt you down… he wants to track you down… he’s pursuing you- like some 80’s car chase… TO BLESS YOU!

He’s like the “ghosting” champion of the world – for those not sure what ghosting is check the link  here

But he’s planning on doing it… ALL THE DAYS OF YOUR LIFE.

So even when you turn away from him… he’s chasing you down… now please here me… I’m not talking about some great ‘bless me club’ that no bad thing ever happens to them, because God never promise an easy ride, in fact he promised it will be hard, but have you ever found yourself in a situation where you KNOW that only God could have landed you in that situation, where you got so much more than you deserved in a good way?
That’s God chasing you down… hunting you.

Know the favour of God… know his blessings… it may not be wealth and power – although scriptures do show that God will give those thing to those who need it… but be prepared to be blessed!

Some call it the favour of God… when in the darkest of cirumstances God is still blessing you. Think about Joeseph , thrown in prision… shadrach meshach and abednego thrown into the furness… we could go on for a while.

turn around now… God is there waiting to give you a blessing!

New Zealand National Anthem – a revival hymn

Inside a New Zealand flag

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How on Earth could New Zealand be becoming more an more a secular society?

I mean have you read the National Anthem? Have a look…

God of Nations at Thy feet,
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our free land.
Guard Pacific’s triple star
From the shafts of strife and war,
Make her praises heard afar,
God defend New Zealand.

Men of every creed and race,
Gather here before Thy face,
Asking Thee to bless this place,

“Gather here before thy face… asking Thee to Bless this place.” Wow, no wonder we as a country are falling away from God… we’re not even living the words of our own anthem… our last Prime minister Helen Clarke said we were a secular Nation.

From dissension, envy, hate,
And corruption guard our state,
Make our country good and great,
God defend New Zealand.

Peace, not war, shall be our boast,
But, should foes assail our coast,
Make us then a mighty host,
God defend our free land.
Lord of battles in Thy might,
Put our enemies to flight,
Let our cause be just and right,
God defend New Zealand.

Let our love for Thee increase,
May Thy blessings never cease,

Wow… imagine if we sung this every time we played a sports game… we would have a revival before the game even started.

Give us plenty, give us peace,
God defend our free land.
From dishonour and from shame,
Guard our country’s spotless name,
Crown her with immortal fame,
God defend New Zealand.

May our mountains ever be
Freedom’s ramparts on the sea,
Make us faithful unto Thee,

Instead of focusing on what other countries are doing and what they are into, wouldn’t it be great to be known as the country that had God at the centre of it… I wonder what that would look like?

God defend our free land.
Guide her in the nations’ van,
Preaching love and truth to man,
Working out Thy glorious plan,

New Zealand is becoming more and more violent, and I can’t help but think… wouldn’t it all be different if we preached Love and Truth and looked at advancing Gods kingdom “Thy Glorious plan”?

God defend New Zealand.

Amen to that…

back handed compliment??

Walk on the water

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One thing that I have always thought about when Peter walked on Water… is when he started sinking Jesus said to him “You don’t have much faith”…

Now there are people who say that it was Jesus telling Peter off, although I wonder if there was a part of Jesus saying “you have little faith and you walked on water, you did the impossible, imagine what you could have done with more faith!!!”

Jesus himself said “With faith even as small as a mustard seed you can tell the mountain to get up and move from here to there and it will”…

When Peters eyes were fixed on Jesus he was able to walk on water… he was able to do the impossible. It didn’t take that much faith… sure it wasn’t easy either… I mean have you ever tried to walk on water?

Do you get that sinking feeling?

I’m think Peter is pretty cool… the guy walked on water with no surf board.

If faith as small as a mustard seed can help move mountains… how much faith did walking on water take?

And how much faith would it take for us as Christians to do amazing things in our world with the power of Jesus Christ “that is already within us”

Album Review: Israel Houghton ‘Love God, Love People’

After listening to the New Israel Houghton & New Breed album I found my self thinking “what just happened here???”
I mean here is a guy who is known as a worship leader, a multi instrumentalist, and a great song writer… and so this album should be great right?

But  apart from every now and then thinking, wow that was well done, I was left with disappointment.

The first track Love God Love people was just a modern Michael Jackson rip off., complete with the trade mark MJ  ‘ahh’s and ‘oohhs’ .. please people Christians should -if anything, should be more creative because we are in touch with the God of creativity, any douche can re-hack something.

I thought maybe it was just a bump early in the road so I continued listening… the more I listened the more I felt like I was listening to a Disney soul soundtrack. The album was all clean and gleaming, but the soul was shallow…
The Album didn’t start getting ‘real’ until Kirk Franklin turned up on the track Mercies and did what only Kirk Franklin can do – he did “chuuuuurch!”.

The message is good if not somewhat chiché and seems like a bit of a general ‘Christian’ push for market share than anything else, which is disappointing.

Take away all the effects and the ‘Auto tune’ from this album… and you could have a good album… a real album.
But this album – as it is… is just and over produced album.