KINGDOM: How NOT to be a KISS-UP!

IdentityHave you ever been in class with a “kiss-up” – a “teacher’s pet”? Someone that said whatever he or she had to in order to find favor with the prof? Why do they irk us so? I’ll tell you why: insincerity – knowing that they really don’t care for the professor, but are just working an agenda. “Kissing Up” & “Honor” – though on the outside they may look similar, are really different beasts entirely: one recognizes the King’s imprint, & treats the individually appropriately, & the other simply appropriates flattery in order to use people as a means to an end. I hate seeing people used as a means to an end.

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KINGDOM: the King’s Welcome, misunderstood

TrulyHumanHave you ever thought it odd that Jesus – being so centered on the idea of GRACE – when standing before his biggest crowd, gave everyone a bunch of new rules to follow? Yeah – me to.

I’ve devoted a lot of time on this blog to exploring what the Bible means when it speaks on “the Kingdom of God”, & so today I thought it’d be a good idea to look at the King – Jesus – and his most popular sermon, the oft-misunderstood “Sermon on the Mount”.

So, one day Jesus made a campaign speech of sorts (it was like he was accepting his party’s nomination, really) while standing on a hill, & a lot of people came to hear him – around 5,000! Jesus took this opportunity to lay out the important stuff. [Read more…]

the New Liturgical: Sojourn share some in-house ‘classics’ on “New Again”

NewAgainContinuing along the theme of “the new liturgical” movement, it’s hard to deny the impact of Sojourn Community Church. It seems only right to look at this next…

 

 

Artist: Sojourn Music
CD: New Again
Label: Independent
Release Date: 2/17/2015

(Click here or the Image Above to Pre-Order)

NEW AGAIN is the 10th release from Louisville-based worship team, Sojourn Music, & in many ways is their most accessible & contains some of their most corporate songs since their 2007 release, BEFORE THE THRONE. And for good reason. Some of these songs have been around since then – standard, go-to originals, sung week-by-week at Sojourn Community Church, beloved by their people, & just hadn’t found a home yet on any of their previous releases. That’s to say, these songs have been tested, week in & week out, & found to serve their community well. And that says a LOT.
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the New Liturgical: the Brilliance offers a new liturgy on “Brother”

BrotherHaving spent this week considering the current growth pangs of the church, & the resurgence of a new liturgical movement, it only makes sense to spend a few days testing those waters, & maybe going for a swim.

ARTIST: the Brilliance
CD: Brother 
Label: Integrity Music
Release Date: 2/17/2015

click here or the pic above to order

The Brilliance are the sound of mystery & peace.

A re-introduction of sorts, BROTHER by the Brilliance is a beautiful collection of re-recorded favorites which have already gained traction within the greater Body of Christ, + a few brand new songs. With obvious sonic tie-ins to their former band, Gungor – David’s vocals are almost a dead ringer for his brother Michael’s – stylistically, the Brilliance would sit well in a mix alongside bands like Bon Iver and Iron & Wine. That’s just to say, the Brilliance sound like mystery & peace.

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They aren’t Coming Back (2)

Abandoned church© Photographer: Alexandre Dvihally | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Yesterday we took a glance at the rumors surrounding the church’s – supposed – impending demise, & noticed that the decline in church attendance in the USA is almost solely taking place in historically traditional or liberal-leaning denominational churches, alone. “But wait! That can’t be right!“, I imagine quite a few of you are thinking, “I read that liturgy was making a comeback!

Yeah. Sorta.

I wouldn’t be encouraging any traditional, we-wear-our-denomination-on-our-sleeves, hymns-singing, choir-led churches to be adding onto their buildings any time soon, because stats can be very deceiving.

There are 2 very healthy things, & one very unhealthy thing, taking place that are leading to those numbers.

Do everything you CAN to become a church ON MISSION, or your empty building will be purchased by a thriving church plant that is willing to do what you are not. It’s that simple.

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“Rumors of my Demise have been Greatly Exaggerated” – the Church (1)

TheChurchwillPrevailIt is a commonly accepted notion that the Christian church is in a tailspin. Almost every week a new article or blog surfaces (See HERE, HERE, and HERE, for example) which read, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!“, but at the end of the day, I’m ignoring those fearful chickens. Sure, I know of some churches that are in a decline, but I also know of many others that are flourishing. [Read more…]

KINGDOM: the Gospel of the Kingdom – it’s not about Heaven

JustWrite copyI talk about the Kingdom of God a lot. I’m there so often because I’m still unpacking it for myself, but also because it is often a missing – and central – component to Jesus’ message of Good News. When we forget that the Gospel is also the Gospel of the Kingdom, what we’re left with is what we’ve all heard a thousand times: you’re a sinner; Jesus died on the cross for your sins, & rose again from the dead, & if you only pray to receive Him into your heart – voila – you’ll go to Heaven when you die! Sounds almost trite, once you hear it often enough – “pie in the sky, by & by”. Is that the whole Good News? Simply that someday, when you die, you won’t go to Hell? What about till then? What about NOW? [Read more…]

I write because I write because I write…

JustWriteI won’t lie – as a songwriter, Writer’s Block has given me a beating a time or two… I’ll find myself holding a guitar, & there’s just NOTHING. What do you do?

My oldest fought with this a few months back at school. His teacher was concerned because he wasn’t finishing stories during writing time. During our face-to-face after school he explained, “I just didn’t have any good ideas.”

So I told him, “Just. Write.”

When you’re facing a blank page, or screen, the best way to put cuffs on Writer’s Block, & escort him from the room is by JUST WRITING. One word follows another – one sentence follows the next. They don’t have to be good [Read more…]

Hey now, you’re a Rockstar!: A review of Stephen Miller’s “Worship Leaders, we are not Rockstars”

WorshipLeadersWANRIt’s hard to keep up sometimes with the deluge of new music & books, so sometimes one gets overlooked. In this case, it was my loss. Worship Pastor/Artist Stephen Miller has penned a helpful little gem with Worship Leaders, we are not Rockstars – one that will be added to my “must read” list for all beginner worship leaders, & a suggested read for anyone in worship ministry in general. Two added bonuses: it’s a speedy read, & the price is RIGHT!

As a baby believer in college, a local campus ministry realized I was 1.) a Christian & 2.) a musician, so I was given a prominent roll on the worship team. Don’t bother that I had only arguably been a Christian (that’s a long story in itself for another blog) for a few months, & had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what worship WAS (“You want me to spice up these awful songs with a few friends in front of 400 college kids, 65% of which are girls? I’M IN!” the young college me responded wholeheartedly), I was encouraging fellow students to sing along, while – quite literally – going to FISTS with others on the team in the hallway before and after our set. It was a mess. I wanted to be the next Bono, or Sting – if you gave me a platform, I’d take it. But I wasn’t a “worship leader”, at least not in any Godly sense. How I wished this book had existed back then. [Read more…]

REVIEW: Cameron Moore – self-titled e.p.

CamMooreEPCameron Moore
Self-Titled E.P.
Independent

Highlights: “Drowning”, & “Unrelenting”

 

 

 

This past Summer I took First UMC‘s youth to CROSS MISSIONS in Charlotte, NC. While there one of the staff that led our team was a fuzzy, kind, humble young man named Cameron. He worked hard & served our team well. One morning he pulled out his guitar, & we co-led a song or two – some popular covers, & I began to see a side of him I didn’t expect. Over the course of the week, I realized he was a writer & was recording a CD – so I asked if I could hear a track before the week was out. Let’s just say that I was more than pleasantly surprised! [Read more…]