Waging War on our Poison Tongues

PoisonTongue
I once had an acquaintance state an observation they’d made about me that seemed out of the ordinary (they could take their pick, I suppose – “ordinary” is NOT something I’m often called). They said, You are almost completely without sarcasm, and that’s refreshing.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. [Read more…]

REVIEW REVISITED: Aaron Keyes – “Dwell”

By my standards, Dwell – by Atlanta area worship pastor/artist Aaron Keyes – is one of the all-around best corporate worship CDs of all-time. Serious! StuG’s production is fresh, even by todays standards, the songwriting is Grade A, & the songs are almost all corporate, & adaptable for almost any style of congregation. To top it all off, this is where Michael W. Smith‘s latest hit single, “Sovereign over Us”, originated from! If you’re looking for a great listen, but also would like to find a number of singable, new-to-you corporate songs to use for your congregation, look no further. Here’s the “revisited” review…
(stick around after the review for links to my live interviews of Aaron, as well)
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Artist: Aaron Keyes
Release: Dwell
Label: Kingsway

 

 

 

Highlights: “I am not the Same”, “Sovereign over Us”, “Song of Moses”, “Dwell”, & “Lavish Your Love

I vividly remember when I first heard Chris Tomlin’s newly released CD “Not to Us”.  Up to that point, apart from a couple “worship hits”, Tomlin’s catalogue had been pretty pedestrian, yet out of the blue he released a CD from which I used no less than 7 songs corporately, & which was a trend-setter production-wise for the next several years. Enter “Dwell” by Aaron Keyes. [Read more…]

REVIEW REVISITED: Paul Baloche – “The Same Love”

For Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday of this week I’m going to be revisiting “classic” reviews I’ve written of a few truly excellent worship CDs. Todays is The Same Love by a wonderful pastor & worship leader, Paul Baloche. To be honest, the first few times I’d heard it, I wasn’t sure what to make of it – the flavor & feel of the CD was quite different from all of his earlier work. In hindsight, I now consider it one of my favorites from among his recordings. As best I can describe, it’s still Paul, but deeper – the melodies are richer & more complex, & the lyrics deeper. Though I don’t use many of these songs corporately, it’s one of my favorite listens for personal worship. Below is my original review
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thesameloveArtist: Paul Baloche
Release: The Same Love
Label: Integrity
Highlights: “the Same Love”, “We are Saved”, “Just Say”

 

Paul Baloche needs no introduction. Even if you don’t recognize his name, you’ve sung his songs.  I regularly use no less than 12 of Paul’s originals in corporate worship, which is significant given the number of new worship songs that flood the market daily – he is truly a masterfully gifted songwriter.  What’s better, however, is the Jesus-centered heart of the man, which overflows in his lyrics & personally, for those who’ve been face-to-face with him.

[Read more…]

You are NOT Ordinary

ExcuseLike many young boys I knew, I grew up wishing I were a superhero. Unlike those other boys, my imagination was far more detailed and all-consuming.

My penchant for daydreaming earned me the nickname of “Martian” in elementary school – even the teachers called me that – because I was “always in outer space.”  My fantasy of choice was that a huge storm was bearing down on our school. I would imagine the teacher in front of me, but in my mind – as she was attempting to teach – waters rose up around her ankles, her waist, her shoulder – somehow unaware of the danger that was overtaking her.  I – in my minds eye – would then begin swimming each of the students in my class to safety, one-by-one, until the teacher – in real life – would call on me, and I would be at an absolute loss as to what she had been talking about.  “In outer-space again, Martian?”, and the whole class would giggle.  Even to this day, my favorite movies are Captain America, the Avengers, & Lord of the Rings – give me a hero with special abilities and an incredible call on his or her life and I am IN!

However, life feels so normal – so average – so day-to-day, pushing against the crowd, trying to make something happen.  Is there anything special about that? [Read more…]

The Real Reason we do not Sing

WhyWeDoNotSingThere has been much talk across the blogosphere this week on a topic I’m thankful is being discussed: the struggle to get a church to actually participate in corporate singing.  The conversations was begun – a few months ago – by Jamie Brown in “Are we headed for a Crash?”  Good observations.  Leading to helpful responses by David Santisteven and Dan Wilt, both of whom made some very good points.  More recently, the Kenny Lamm of the North Carolina Baptist association has chimed in on the subject as well. Having led worship in a wide variety of churches – from traditional a cappella hymn singing to free-form, “Spirit-led”, 3 1/2 hour charismatic praise, and everything in between – I’m familiar with the problem.  All it takes is one Sunday morning service with the room staring back at you, uttering not-a-peep, for us to go home contemplative, asking, “What did I do WRONG?”  That said, though they make many good points, I’m not convinced any of the fore-mentioned blogs gets to the heart of the matter.  Here’s why…
[Read more…]

God with Skin On (Christmas is REAL)

ChristmasBlogHow do you cope with the end of your world, & the beginning of another? As strange – & devastating – as that may sounds, that’s what Christmas is, and some of us even feel it.

God with skin on – the creator of the universe, putting on frailty. It’s like packaging an earthquake in a test-tube, or pouring all the world’s oceans into a coke can. It’s something profound – almost absurd – and if true, it changes – quite literally – EVERYTHING.  [Read more…]

CHRISTMAS SONG TUTORIAL FOR THE CHURCH: “Christ the Lord is born Today”

One of the reasons I moved away from traditional hymnody towards theologically rich modern worship was the excellent songwriting of Sovereign Grace Music. A few years ago I was blessed to lead Mark Altrogge‘s excellent modern Christmas song, “Christ the Lord is Born Today”, as originally recorded by Sovereign Grace Music.  

[Read more…]

Christmas Song Tutorials for the Church: “Mary did you Know?”

MaryI explained a bit about what this series is about in my last post POSTED HERE, so I won’t retread new ground, however I’m sure a few of you are puzzled: “Mary did you Know?” has been floating around for just under a quarter of a century! However, it’s a classic that moves my heart, & one that has some tricky spots for inexperienced musicians/worship leaders.

This tutorial video has two parts:

  1. A short intro & song demonstration and…
  2. A short breakdown of a few specific simplification strategies.

 Watch the video for more information:

[Read more…]

Christmas Song Tutorials for the Church: “Christmas Offering” by Paul Baloche

“I’ll bring an offering of worship to my King
No one on Earth deserves the praises that I sing
Jesus may you receive the honor that you’re due
Oh Lord, I bring an offering to You”

Are you looking for new songs to lead this Christmas? I know I always feel some trepidation approaching the holidays – expectations are high, & everyone seems to have an opinion. It often makes me cringe at the impending “celebration”, and that’s NOT right… but it’s true.

  • For one, we hear the SAME SONGS…over…and over…AND OVER
  • Secondly, the classics can be SO HARD to reproduce with a guitar-driven worship band, especially if you’re working with inexperienced musicians
  • Lastly, there’s such a flood of new songs hitting the market each year that it’s easier to just give up & return to those “same ole, same ole”, instead of seeking out a NEW “classic”.

These next few weeks I’ll be setting aside my normal serial blogs & reviews (for the most part) to share a series of tutorials. I’ll do the work of finding the songs, & teaching them, & you can grab the linked resources for the songs that will work best for your congregation, & enjoy worshiping Him this season with church family! [Read more…]

KINGDOM: the King’s Edicts

“The God of the Hebrews, Yahweh, was a king returned for His people – reclaiming His proper territory, proclaiming freedom for the captives, and His rule was FAIR and GOOD”

Last time we talked about the “missing piece” of the Kingdom of God from many believer’s faith. We concluded that LOVE for others is a sure-fire sign of that kingdom. However, we have yet to fully unpack what the kingdom IS. Well, as with any Earthly kingdom, the kingdom of God has it’s own rules. And, O, how we easily misunderstand them!

Most everyone has heard of the 10 Commandments, and many others also the Old Testament Law.  Laws written directly by God’s hands, we assume they must be all-around unique. But, they’re not, and in what way they’re not is incredibly interesting. The style/format would’ve been immediately recognizable to the believers of the day.  All of the Old Testament Law fits neatly within an ancient form of literature called a “Suzerian-Vassal Agreement.”  In ancient times these were penned whenever a King took a new territory: they spelled out the expectations they had of their new subjects, and set forth their promise to watch over them, and the consequences if they did not carry out their side of the bargain. For people who were often ruled by self-serving megalomaniacs – mere humans convinced they were God, who had multiple wives, and harems the size of which would make anyone blush – the rule of this good King – who had freed his people rather than enslaved them – was unique and beautiful. [Read more…]