Thursday, September 24, 2020

New Music

Here are a few new releases to share with you...

GRAMMY-nominated worship leader Kari Jobe has announced the release date for her upcoming album. THE BLESSING, recorded live at The Belonging Co in Nashville, TN, is set to drop October 23rd. "I’m really excited about this season and getting to share everything on this album with you," Jobe shared on social media.

In March, before the world was overcome with the pandemic, Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes and Elevation Worship gathered together to write "The Blessing" track, releasing it just days later via YouTube with the live video that now has more than 28 million views. We talking about this release at length earlier this year.

"I have cried so many times as I’ve watched different people all over the world declaring the blessing over their families, their churches and their nations," Jobe said on the impact of "The Blessing." "God is a God of His word and this song is straight from scripture. I love how He never changes and is always with us and for us. That brings so much peace, especially in a season of disappointment, uncertainty and fear like we have all been waking through this year. 'The Blessing' is truth that we can declare daily over our lives, families, and others. So grateful."

Jobe is planning to drop four singles ahead of the full album release. Listeners can get a taste of her new music with "First Love" released last week. The  video also features "Embers" and "Obsession" ft. Cody Carnes.

   *****
If you are a fan of more hardcore rock, Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum rock band Skillet delivered what Cryptic Rock called an "epic" deluxe project, VICTORIOUS: THE AFTERMATH (Atlantic) last week. The collection features all twelve original tracks from 2019s Victorious, plus eight additional tracks, including two brand new unreleased songs, and 5 reimagined songs. Of the brand new tracks is "Dead Man Walking," a favorite of lead-singer John Cooper, and for which the band released a 'Marvel-esque' lyric video.

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Christian radio hitmakers 7eventh Time Down release their new single last week, titled "Questions". The Kentucky natives 7eventh Time Down first catapulted into the spotlight with “Just Say Jesus,” the hit title-cut from their 2013 sophomore set which spent a total of 52 consecutive weeks on Christian radio charts. In addition, the band's multi-week #1, “God Is On The Move,” was one of 2016's most played singles at Christian radio, according to Billboard. Comprised of lead vocalist Mikey Howard, drummer Austin Miller, bassist Cliff Williams and guitarist Scoop Roberts.  Check out their latest release...

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Songs From A Mug

 Are you familiar with WayNation? WayNation is a social media presence that creates videos, podcasts, articles, streaming music, and other online content that is Christian, non divisive, and non offensive. Their goal is to provide content that will allow us to have fun, learn, and explore meaningful questions without being shamed or belittled, join us to laugh, learn, and be encouraged.

I encourage you to go to the website and look around. Lots of great content to watch and listen to - especially if you are tired of mainstream television and all the current political adds.

One of the programs that they provide are the videos "Songs From A Mug" where they ask various artists to answer song questions pulled from a coffee mug such as favorite song, song you wished you wrote, song your kids hate, etc. and then the artists play a bit of the song, These are often fun, funny, and provide a lot of insight to the personality of some of your favorite artists like The Afters, I Am They, Sidewalk Prophets, and many more. A couple weeks ago they featured Songs From A Mug with We The Kingdom and it was a great video. The latest one is with Matthew West and is a lot of fun...


Make sure to check out WayNation next time you are looking for some wholesome and uplifting entertainment.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A Rush Of Hope

Another good show on TBN last Friday called "A Rush Of Hope: Find Answers to Life's Questions". The intent was to present a Harvest Crusade in a completely new way. They simply called it a “cinematic crusade.” 

Hosted by Pastor Greg Laurie with music from MercyMe, Jeremy Camp, and for King & County—plus many more guests—this is a historic event, of which you’re going to want to be a part. 

Check out the trailer...


If you missed it, you can still watch it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/v_sbNbYo0IY.

Also, if you have the opportunity, I highly recommend watching the three movies featured in this show. They are all great.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Attitude of Gratitude IV

Today my gratitude is for my family. My wife, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, and more. I am grateful that my family is still healthy. We don't get together as often as we would like, but we still communicate often. 

So what does the Bible say about family? The physical family is the most important building block to human society, and as such, it should be nurtured and protected. Proverbs 17:17 tells us that "A friend loves at all times, and a relative is born to help in adversity." Friends come and go, but family sticks with you during the hardest of times.

The concept of family is extremely important in the Bible. The concept of family was introduced in the very beginning...The very first people on earth formed a family. From the beginning, God blessed and encouraged families, commanding Adam and Eve to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). The example of Adam and Eve shows us that families are of God. 

A few well-known examples of families in the Bible are found early in the Old Testament. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all followed God’s command to marry and have children. Abraham went to great lengths to protect his wife, Sarah (see Genesis 12), and exercised faith to finally enjoy the blessings that came with having his son Isaac (see Genesis 21). Under the Lord’s direction, Abraham’s servant traveled a long distance to find Rebekah, a righteous woman, to be Isaac’s wife (see Genesis 24). And Isaac’s son Jacob worked for many years in order to marry and establish his own family, which became the house of Israel (see Genesis 29–30).

We also see early on that family members were to look after and care for one another. When God asks Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" Cain’s response is the flippant "Am I my brother’s keeper?" The implication is that, yes, Cain was expected to be Abel’s keeper and vice versa. 

The Bible has a more communal sense of people and family... When God saved Noah from the flood, it wasn’t an individual salvation, but a salvation for him, his wife, his sons and his sons’ wives. In other words, his family was saved (Genesis 6:18). When God called Abraham out of Haran, He called him and his family (Genesis 12:4-5). 

The importance of family can be seen in God's Commandments, two of the Ten Commandments deal with maintaining the cohesiveness of the family. The fifth commandment regarding honoring parents is meant to preserve the authority of parents in family matters, and the seventh commandment prohibiting adultery protects the sanctity of marriage. These two commandments seek to protect marriage and the family. The health of the family was important to God.

So how has Covid-19 and the resulting implications affected a family? Covid-19 has certainly changed the ability to get together, but I think that the pandemic and the resulting quarantines has actually worked to strengthen family ties.

In a recent survey of 2,000 Americans — of which about 1,200 were parents — respondents were asked about their time sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the perks of being surrounded by family.

From developmental milestones to simple heart to hearts, three-quarters of parents polled experienced a key moment, which they otherwise may have missed, with their children while in lockdown.

Some other findings:

  • The survey found 66 percent of those surveyed said the pandemic has brought them closer to their family than ever before.
  • It’s no surprise that 77 percent of respondents were also in agreement that they’ve enjoyed spending more time with the members of their household.
  • The survey also found respondents have learned a lot about their families while sheltering in place as well.
  • Nearly half of respondents admitted they didn’t really know what their significant other’s job was before they began working from home during self-isolation.
  • Seventy-nine percent of parents surveyed said they’ve also learned more about their children’s hobbies and passions during this time.
  • While another 77 percent of parents said their children have become more open to learning new things around the house and trying new activities.
  • In fact, 31 percent of those surveyed said they’ve taught a family member a new skill while they’ve been in quarantine.
  • Seven in 10 respondents also shared their increased time indoors has been a wake-up call for them to focus on their families’ unhealthy habits.
  • Forty-one percent of those polled said they’ve added more priority to eating meals as a family during their time in isolation.

These all sound like good things, coming out of a bad situation. Remember Romans 8:28

I hope that you are blessed with family. Even if not surrounded by family during these times, I pray that you have the ability to converse and see each other even if only via the phone or internet.


Friday, September 18, 2020

Flashback Friday

Today we need to wipe the dust off H.G. Wells' time machine and go back to the beginnings of Contemporary Christian Music and talk about The Imperials.

In fact, The Imperials originated long before Contemporary Christian Music. They started out as a successful southern gospel quartet and have been active for over 55 years! This innovative group would become pioneers of contemporary Christian music in the late 1960s. There have been many changes for the band in membership and musical styles over the years. They would go on to win four Grammys, 15 Dove Awards and be inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

Past members have included such notable musicians as Gary McSpadden from the Oak Ridge Boys, Russ Taff, Terry Blackwood, Larry Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers, and more.

The group even recorded with Elvis in sessions from May 1966 to June 1971 and appeared with Jimmy Dean live and on his television show during the same period.

The Imperials surprised gospel music fans in February 1972 by hiring Sherman Andrus, a former member of Andrae Crouch and the Disciples. This made them the first interracial Christian group America had ever seen, which Andrus jokingly referred as: "to boldly go where no black man had gone before". 

The Imperials had some great CCM albums like Love Is The Thing in 1969,  Time To Get It Together in 1970, One More Song For You in 1979,  Priority in 1980, Stand By the Power in 1982, Let The Wind Blow in 1985, Free The Fire In Me in 1988, just to name a few and we haven't even made it into the 90's. A lot of this music takes me back to my childhood (yep, that long ago.)

The Imperials accomplishments are many:  

  • First Dove Award winner for male group of the year (1969)
  • First gospel group to perform live on The Grammy Awards.
  • First Dove Award winner for Artist of the Year (1981)
  • First group to have a No. 1 song ("Oh Buddha") on all three of the following charts (for 12 weeks): Contemporary, Inspirational, Southern Gospel
  • First Christian group to use four individual microphones on stage
  • First Christian group to use cordless microphones
  • First Christian group to use a live band on stage
  • Recorded the theme song for the Daniel Boone television series
  • Only Christian group to have a No. 1 song charting in 4 consecutive decades (1960s-1990s)

In 1998, The Imperials were inducted into the Gospel Music Association's Gospel Music Hall of Fame. All five original members, Jake, Armond, Gary, Sherrill, and Henry; as well as Terry Blackwood, Sherman Andrus, Joe Moscheo, Jim Murray, and Russ Taff were there to accept the induction.

In 2008, the Imperials were inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame. Russ Taff was inducted for his contributions separately but performed with the new Imperials and made the acceptance with them for the broadcast. In April 2008, The Imperials received the Southern Gospel News Awards' Album of the Year award for Back To The Roots.

Most recently, returning from a restless retirement and a short lived legal scrimmage for control of the "Imperials" name, Armond Morales, along with Imperials alumni Paul Smith and Dave Will, joined newcomer Rick Evans to continue the legacy of The Imperials. As the only “still performing” original member of The Imperials, Armond Morales, along with the reunited foursome, released Still Standing, their first project with Paul Smith in 25 years.

Hundreds of great songs to choose from... "A Thing Called Love", "Put Your Hand in the Hand", "He's Got the Whole World",  "Teach Your Children Well", "I'm Forgiven", "Because Of Who You Are", and on and on... but here is a video from a couple years ago giving a bit of history of the group and a medley of some of their greatest hits...

Thursday, September 17, 2020

New Releases

We Are Messengers have added to their sophomore project with Power +, released last Friday across all digital service providers. Included is a new track, “Image Of God.” 

We Are Messengers front man Darren Mulligan on the emotional track, which is slated as the band’s next radio single. “These are challenging times where we need unity, hope, empathy and love,” Mulligan shares of the message behind the song. “‘Image Of God’ is a song to unite us, reminding us that every single person is created wonderfully in God’s image, and as such, is invaluable and fully worthy of our time, respect, love and honor.”



Internationally known for worship anthems like “Death Was Arrested,” “Abundantly More” and “Love Come Down,” North Point Worship releases "Find A Reason" a week ago.

“‘Find A Reason’ was written a few months ago when a global pandemic was breaking out,” shares writer and singer Brett Stanfill, “and we had also just received word of a few different tragedies that had occurred in our local community. In that time, and in so many times throughout my life, I had to remember that regardless of bleak circumstances, heartbreak, fear or loss, God is still good, and He is still worthy of my praise. This song is a reminder that whether I’m experiencing the favor of God or it seems like all hope is lost, I can lift my eyes and find a reason to worship.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Pandemic and the Book of Job

Standard disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article are the rambling thoughts of the author and not necessarily representative of Living Word Lutheran Church.

I finished my pandemic-inspired reading of the Psalms and decided that my next "adventure" would be reading through the Book of Job. It seemed somewhat appropriate to read about suffering and faith during our current social and economic conditions.

The Covid-19 pandemic can certainly provide a new way to understand the Book of Job. I believe we will see that Job’s circumstances way back in time and our experience with the Covid-19 have a number of similarities, which will help us identify with Job and with his suffering. Because of the current pandemic many people have lost their jobs, and find themselves economically devastated. Job unexpectedly lost all of his wealth in a very short period of time. He, too, was broke. This pandemic has taken the lives of friends, neighbors, and relatives, and so there is much grieving going on, around the world. Job lost all of his children in a moment of time. He, too, had much to grieve over. And finally, many of those who are currently infected with the Covid-19 are suffering greatly. So, too, with Job, whose suffering took him to the very edge of death. I don’t believe many today could claim that they are suffering as much as Job did, centuries ago, but many are suffering the physical effects of this virus

A lot of people are currently like Job and asking "Why God?" I think this book of the Bible asked precisely the questions that many of us struggle with today, but it doesn't answer them the way that we might expect. These same unexpected answers can now provide hope to face the coronavirus pandemic.

I would like to share the following article that addresses these very questions:

1. Will I Be Protected from Suffering?

This virus has stripped away the false security we find in our health and finances, leaving an anxious fog in its wake. The narrative opening of Job acknowledges our basic yearning to find protection from suffering; even righteous and wealthy Job feels it. In his anxiety, he offers sacrifices every morning on behalf of his children in the off chance that any have sinned (Job 1:5), apparently thinking sufficient sacrifices will protect him and those he loves from suffering.

Satan, true to his accusing role, points out this apparent chink in Job’s armor to God. He questions whether Job’s faith will survive the suffering he has been so determined to avoid through his sacrifices and substantial livestock nest egg (Job 1:9-11). So God allows Satan to rip Job’s wealth and health from him, just as COVID-19 has done to so many, not because of his unrighteousness but because of his righteousness. The book’s answer, therefore, to the question on all of our minds right now, “Will I be protected from suffering?” is a resounding, “I wouldn’t count on it.” As Jesus declares, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33, NIV).

2. How Should I Respond to God?

The book forces us, like Job, to move on from the anxiety-ridden question, “Will I be protected from suffering?” to the faith-building question, “How should I respond to God in the midst of suffering?” Once again, though, it refuses to offer the expected feel-good answer. We like the stoic martyr of faith we encounter in the first couple chapters, who declares, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21). This is all we tend to hear from Job. But Job has more to say. He curses the day of his birth, lashes out at his friends, complains (as might we) about his isolation from friends and family, even appears to accuse God of injustice (e.g., Job 10:3), enmity (Job 13:24), and vicious attacks (e.g., Job 16:12-14). Something is not right in the world, he insists, and God must do something about it.

Shockingly, at the book’s end, God declares that Job, not the friends, has spoken rightly about Him (Job 42:7). God doesn’t justify this verdict, but the rest of the Old Testament does. Job joins the heroes of Israelite faith, Abraham (Genesis 18:17-33), Jacob (Genesis 32:6-12, 22-31), and Moses (Exodus 32:1-14); the psalmists who dare to cry ‘Why?’ and ‘How long?’; and prophets, such as Amos, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk, in confronting God and demanding that He make things right. And God repeatedly responds favorably to their protests. Reflecting this biblical tradition, Jesus tells a parable of a widow whose persistent pleading convinces an unjust judge to intervene on her behalf, concluding, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?...However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8, NIV).

Job’s initial pious submission is easy to endorse when we consider suffering from the outside. However, as more are drawn into the inferno of infection, it may forge faith and protest together into a stronger theological alloy, which cries out to God in faith to rectify injustice

3. How Should I Respond to Others?

If we would raise theological objections against Job’s bold protests, the book’s presentation of Job’s friends should caution us. Attempting to console Job, they preach profound theological truths about God’s just punishment of the wicked and sovereign deliverance of the righteous—to a man whom God has allowed to suffer because of his righteousness. As Job doggedly declares the injustice of his situation, the friends turn on him, accusing him of great wickedness (Job 22:5). They feel they must, because if Job is genuinely righteous, their righteousness won’t save them from his fate. Their fear of suffering drives them to blame the victim in order to create a distinction between themselves and Job that can protect them from his suffering.

This same fear is behind my relief when I hear that a young, deceased victim of COVID-19 had some underlying condition that I don’t have. I want to keep their suffering at a distance by putting them in a different category than myself. The book of Job draws us into the suffering of others by destroying these imaginary walls separating us from it.

4. Is This Divine Punishment?

In times of suffering, we can feel, as Job did, that God has turned against us and become our enemy. Some have even attributed this pandemic to divine punishment. But righteous Job’s affliction should make us wary of such conclusions. Thus, when Jesus’ disciples ask if a man’s blindness was caused by his or his parents’ sin, he responds, “Neither...but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:2-3, NIV). Job’s story encourages us to ask, not what sin this pandemic is punishing, but how we might display God’s glory through our response to it.

5. What Does Suffering Tell Us about God?

God’s long-awaited answer to Job also violates our expectations. God doesn’t directly address Job’s suffering at all. Instead, after establishing Himself as the creator of the cosmos (Job 38:4-38), God describes His meticulous care for His creatures: dangerous, unclean, and uncontrollable animals below and beyond Job’s concern (Job 38:39-39:30). If God is good enough to hunt prey for lionesses, feed young ravens, and midwife mountain goats, surely He cares for Job. Jesus similarly claims God’s care for sparrows should dispel fear, since “you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31, NIV). Then God turns this argument around. If God is powerful enough to control Behemoth and Leviathan, embodiments of human fear, then surely Job’s situation is not beyond divine sovereignty (Job 40:1-41:34; cf. Romans 8:31-39). God guides Job’s gaze from his particular suffering to the breadth of creation in order to address his suffering, to provide him with hope that also applies to anyone and any affliction.

No one who suffers from COVID-19 is too insignificant for God’s care; none of the suffering we face is too powerful for His control. And yet, people are suffering. Job suffers. Some baby ravens starve. The divine speeches don’t attempt to explain why a good and powerful God allows evil to exist, why God created Behemoth and Leviathan (or COVID-19) in the first place. They redirect our question from why God allows suffering to persist, the answer to which is different in each situation and beyond our comprehension in most, to whom we must trust in every situation, and why this God is worth trusting. Job understands this. He is consoled while still on the ash heap (Job 42:2-6).

6. Will Things Ever Get Back to Normal?

But God does not leave Job on his ash heap. Some find the book’s happy ending disappointingly trite, but it is perfectly appropriate for the good and sovereign God to make everything right in the end. We don’t know when that end will come in the current crisis. But the hope of the book of Job, as of the Christian faith, is that the God who allows our suffering will also eventually end it, that if we emulate “the endurance of Job,” we will see “how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11). Job teaches us that persevering through suffering can create a new and better normal, one in which we see the God we had only heard of (Job 42:5) and anxious sacrifices are replaced with deeper trust.

So how about it? Can we be like Job and remain faithful during times of trouble and turmoil? I like to think so, but it does take effort when things seem to be falling down around us. Stand firm and remember that God is always with us.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

National Suicide Prevention Month

September is National Suicide Prevention month. Suicide is a national health problem that currently ranks as the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10 – 24.  Suicide is also one of the leading causes of preventable death in our nation. 

This is especially relevant during our current social situations. From a pandemic to national conversations about justice and race to an election season featuring intense passion, there is a lot happening right now that can prompt anxiety or depression. 

In the era of Covid-19, as we all try to protect our mental health and cope with uncertainty, it’s more important than ever that we be there for each other and take steps to prevent suicide. 

In addition, across the United States, many communities are experiencing unrest and distress related to the unjust treatment of individuals who are Black in this country. Some individuals may have firsthand experiences of community discord, discrimination or trauma, or may be grappling with a loss of their sense of safety. Feeling overwhelmed or isolated, having trouble sleeping or difficulty concentrating are all common reactions to witnessing and experiencing community violence. Incidents of community violence can also contribute to heightened feelings of anxiety and depression, or lead to increased substance abuse. 

Mental health is important to talk about all the time, but September is a month dedicated to conversations about suicide and mental illness. You don't need to be a mental health professional to make a difference. There are several things we can do to work to change the conversation from suicide to suicide prevention, to actions that can promote healing, help and give hope.

  • ASK-   Research shows people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks after them in a caring way. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation
  • BE THERE-   Individuals are more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful by after speaking to someone who listens without judgment.
  • KEEP THEM SAFE-   A number of studies have indicated that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline.
  • HELP THEM STAY CONNECTED-  Studies indicate that helping someone at risk create a network of resources and individuals for support and safety can help them take positive action and reduce feelings of hopelessness.
  • FOLLOW UP-   Studies have also shown that brief, low cost intervention and supportive, ongoing contact may be an important part of suicide prevention, especially for individuals after they have been discharged from hospitals or care services.

Suicide and mental health is an important topic that we all need to be aware of and keep in our conversations.

Last week, Matthew West released a live performance video for "Too Young Too Soon". "Many of my songs are inspired by true stories, and sometimes those stories hit close to home," West shared on social media. “'Too Young Too Soon' was inspired by one of my daughter’s classmates who took his own life. Sam was an amazing kid, always had a smile on his face. But he was fighting a hidden battle."

West added, "This month is Suicide Prevention Month and I thought it would be a fitting time to shine a light on this song in the hopes that it might encourage anyone out there dealing with depression or thoughts of suicide. You are not alone, you matter, God loves you and your life is worth living."

Monday, September 14, 2020

Attitude of Gratitude III

Standard disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article are the rambling thoughts of the author and not necessarily representative of Living Word Lutheran Church.

I continue to practice having an attitude of gratitude throughout the day. It is a conscious decision to be grateful. Why? There is an old proverb that states "Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings." Having gratitude makes life better. So my thought of  gratitude for today is that during this pandemic I feel like I have more time. I know that this is not really true. Time is finite and there are still only 1440 minutes in a day, but for me it feels like I now have more time. 

As states issued stay-at-home orders to limit the spread of COVID-19, an increasing number of people started working from home, or they’ve lost their jobs and are navigating unemployment and hoping for the best. While this was all happening, we heard countless jokes about how people are bing-watching Netflix (like "Tiger King"), stress baking sourdough bread, decluttering their homes, or learning new languages. 

This is not really true for me... I still work every day (albeit from home instead of the office) and there are still things that need to be accomplished as always, but I no longer have to drive to and from work. Many of the "extra-curricular" events and social activities that I use to spend time on have been cancelled or postponed. Even so, I realize that in reality it is probably that my priorities on how I spend my time have changed.

I touched on this subject back in April... I feel like I have more time to reflect and spend with God in prayer and scripture. More time to do all those little things that I was putting off until I had the time. Time to spend in longer conversations with my wife and with my family (even though it may be via Facetime or Zoom).

But just because it works for me, I am aware that not everyone feels the same. More time spent at home doesn't necessarily mean more free time. For many, the pandemic means balancing their jobs with child care and home-schooling duties. For others, a layoff means filing for unemployment and finding ways to cut costs. Many of us are cleaning more to prevent the spread of the virus and cooking more  as restaurants close or offer limited takeout. As people work from home, the ability for work hours to bleed into personal hours becomes easier. Health care and essential workers are facing the stress of battling the virus on the front lines. At the beginning of self- and government-imposed social distancing, there was a flood of online discourse about how to spend quarantine, and some found it overwhelming. 

So if you feel that you have less time than before. Don't worry... you are not alone.

Remember as God tells us in Ecclesiastes 3...

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

So, maybe after more consideration, its not that I actually have more time... but "better" time. Time that is better spent than how I previously used it. Time to talk to family and friends (even if only via technology) is better. Time for thought and reflection is better. Time to do all the little things that I enjoy is better. Time spent with God in prayer and in His Word is better. If I am using my time for these things, it is better. 

So as they say in New Orleans (although I am certainly using it out of context),  "Laissez les bons temps rouler." - Let the good times roll.

I am grateful for the time that I have and that it seems to be better spent. I hope that you are blessed with "better time" as well.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Flashback Friday

 Its Friday again... time to be like Doctor Who and jump into TARDIS to go back to talk about Contemporary Christian Music in the 80's & 90's.

This week, I want to feature a Christian rock group from Minnesota, PFR. Though they never reached to level of success that a lot of our featured artists have attained, it seems important to feature a group with "local connections". 

PFR was founded in 1989 as the Joel Hanson Band by Joel Hanson, who was a camp counselor at Camp Shamineau, a Christian youth camp just outside of Motley, MN.  Patrick Andrew suggested the band change the name to "Pray for Rain" after a line from a poem. In 1992, the band released Pray for Rain, and gained some attention with the song "Do You Want to Know Love". Shortly after releasing the first album, an existing band (an instrumental group who did soundtrack work) known as Pray for Rain threatened a lawsuit, leading the band to settle on the name PFR

In 1993, PFR released their second album, Goldie's Last Day, whose title track was inspired by the passing of Patrick Andrew's pet golden retriever. One of my favorite PFR songs came off this album, "That Kind of Love"...

Also in 1993, the band recorded a cover of "We Can Work It Out" by The Beatles with guitar legend Phil Keaggy. PFR released their third album, Great Lengths in 1994. The album had the band's biggest hit, "The Love I Know", inspired by I Corinthians 13. The Great Lengths tour introduced a new band, Jars of Clay, who would become one of the most popular Christian groups to date, also enjoying great mainstream success.

Having changed musical direction with each album, PFR moved into an edgier, heavy sound for 1996's Them. While the album was well-received, the band shortly afterward announced that they were splitting up. In 1997, The Late Great PFR was released, a greatest hits album containing three new songs, with one, "Forever" becoming a Christian radio hit.

PFR disbanded in 1997, they reunited in 2000 and have since recorded two albums and performed several shows.

 In 2012, PFR performed the "PFR Twelve in 2012" tour. Their first show was at Joel's home church, The Church of the Open Door, in Maple Grove, Minnesota on January 27, 2012. In December 2012, PFR released a 13-track, live album entitled Minneapolis. This album was made available exclusively as a digital download.

In 2013, PFR reunited once again and played the main stage at the Sonshine Festival in Willmar, Minnesota, but unfortunately announced on October 16, 2013 that the band had once again disbanded, for the first time, permanently, since 1997. 



Thursday, September 10, 2020

Jeremy & Adrienne Camp

 Last week, GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Jeremy Camp and wife Adrienne Camp (former frontwoman of Christian band The Benjamin Gate) released The Worship Project, a 6-song EP that declares a steadfast faith in a faithful God. It is the first time in their 16-year marriage, and in nearly four combined decades as artists, that the couple has ever released music as a duo. 

Adrienne (Liesching) Camp is a South African-born singer/songwriter who was the lead singer of multi-GMA Dove Award-nominated pop/alternative rock band The Benjamin Gate, before retiring from the band to focus on her family. With five gold albums and more #1 radio singles on Billboard's Christian AirPlay Chart than any other solo act, Jeremy Camp is one of the most successful artists in Christian music. His most recent album, The Story's Not Over (2019), has already yielded two #1 radio hits, and three GMA Dove Award nominations. 

In March of 2020, Jeremy and Adrienne partnered with Lionsgate and Kingdom Pictures for the release of the movie, I Still Believe, a biopic based on a portion of Camp's life.

Check out this song from the new EP called "Whatever May Come".

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

New Music Releases

A couple of new music releases to share with you...

Phil Wickham’s highly anticipated new single "Battle Belongs," was released last Friday. Co-written with Bethel Music’s Brian Johnson, the track is a powerful proclamation that in Jesus we stand on the side of a battle that has already been won. 

"In 2 Chronicles 20, one of my favorite stories in the Bible, a huge army has amassed to come against the people of God," Wickham explains. "Every time I sing 'Battle Belongs,' it pumps me up because we know that in anything we might face, our God is bigger. I hope this song reminds people that He is with us and for us. If we stand firm and hold our position, we will see the salvation of the Lord on our behalf!"



Also on Friday, I AM THEY released their latest single, "Delivered". This release comes on the heels of "Faithful God", which released earlier this summer (and we featured back in July). Prior to this new music it had been two years since I AM THEY - made up of Matthew Hein, Abbie Parker, (vocals), Brandon Chase (vocals, guitar), Justin Shinn (keys), and Nicole Hickman (drums) - released "Scars," the chart-topping and award-nominated single from their 2018 album Trial & Triumph. With "Faithful God", "Delivered" and the other new songs to be featured on the new project, there’s a heaviness that's been lifted and the band has a redefined sense of what it means to hope for the future. 



Finally, the best-selling and most-awarded female gospel artist of all time, CeCe Winans released her new single “Never Lost”

Winans says, “The message of this song is so powerful. With so much going on in the world, the prayer for ‘Never Lost’ is to encourage and remind us that God is undefeated! Let’s continue to trust in Him like never before!”

As one of the most honored and beloved gospel artists in the industry, Winans has influenced generations of musicians over the course of her storied career. Overall, in her musical journey, she has won 12 Grammy Awards, 20 Dove Awards and seven Stellar Awards. She has produced 11 albums and sold more than 17 million records worldwide. Winans has also been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Nashville Music City Walk of Fame, in addition to being named a Trailblazer of Soul by BMI and garnering multiple NAACP Image Awards, Soul Train Awards, Essence Awards, and more. 

I predict that you are going to be hearing "Never Lost" often on CCM radio...

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

New Artist - Leanna Crawford

It's always fun to find new CCM artists to keep an eye on. Leanna Crawford is one such artist. For the past two and half years, the singer-songwriter from northwestern Washington, Leanna Crawford, has been writing, touring and singing with some of the biggest names in the Christian music industry. She’s gained more experience than many artists do in a decade, and while her music certainly displays the vocal and songwriting talent of a rising star in CCM, her grounded and honest lyrics make her feel more friend and confidante than star, more approachable than untouchable.  

Leanna points to a mission trip to Haiti in 2012 where she felt God spoke to her, calling her into music ministry, specifically reaching and speaking into the lives of young women. Since this trip, Leanna has been striving to do just that. Leanna’s hard work began to truly take shape when she won Praise106.5’s Music Search (2013) with her song, "Moment by Moment," produced by Dove Award winning producer, Ed Cash (from We The Kingdom). Over the next few years, Leanna capitalized on opportunities to open for artists such as Jars of Clay, Audio Adrenaline and singing the "National Anthem" for a sold out crowd at a Pentatonix concert.

Captured by her sound, Grammy Nominated & Dove Award winner Matthew West began working with her in an artist development capacity. Continuing to develop her song writing & performance skills, Leanna is actively songwriting around town and touring on a regular basis with artists such as Michael W. Smith, Matthew West, Jeremy Camp, Tenth Avenue North, Matt Maher, Plumb & Jordan Feliz.

Her best song to date, "The Truth I'm Standing On" is just now starting to get some widespread recognition. 


Keep a watch on Leanna. I think we are going to be hearing a lot more from her in the future.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Attitude of Gratitude II

Standard disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article are the rambling thoughts of the author and not necessarily representative of Living Word Lutheran Church.

A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Dave posed the question, "What are we thankful for?" This led me to do some thoughtful searching and publishing an article last week about gratitude for my church family. According to A.J. Jacobs (author of Thanks a Thousand),  "I have been an admirer of gratitude for years, gratitude is one of the keys to a life well lived. Perhaps, even, as Cicero says, it is the chief of virtues." Jacob cites research that demonstrates that "gratitude's psychological benefits are legion: It can lift depression, help you sleep, improve your diet, and make you more likely to exercise. A recent study showed gratitude causes people to be more generous and kinder to strangers."

Since today is Labor Day holiday, it seems appropriate that this week's gratitude is for work. We published an article about several things to reflect on for Labor Day in the September newsletter. I hope you have a chance to read it if you haven't already. 

Though I am thankful to simply have employment during these tough times when so many are unemployed, having a job just to survive is not really what I want to discuss in depth.

We all like to complain about work. It's easier to whine about annoyances and obstacles than it is to celebrate what is great about work. But, did you realize that it’s all but impossible to feel angry, restless or unappreciated when you’re feeling grateful. Gratitude fills us up in positive, productive ways and makes us much nicer people to be around. In fact, it can brighten those around us, too, making for a more positive working environment. Taking time to think about what you’re grateful for and expressing it changes your outlook and makes you more resilient. So, if you’re juggling oranges and someone throws you a lemon, you can adjust and adapt more quickly.

Everyone has bad days. Gratitude is a tool to help you get past them. It’s a positive way of looking at situations that relies on finding a silver lining. After all, who couldn’t use a little more positivity in their life and work? People who express gratitude are happier. They focus on what they have instead of what they lack. 

Think about some things at work to be grateful for. Maybe some of these apply:

  • Your boss
  • Your colleagues
  • Company Culture
  • The opportunity to learn and grow
  • Work Flexibility (personally, I love working from home)
  • Work-Life balance (mine is better know than it used to be)
  • The work is fulfilling (everyone wants to feel that the work they do is important)
  • Time Off (vacations and holidays are fun because it is time away from work)
  • Salary and Benefits (this one is obvious)

I hope that you can be thankful for some, if not all of these things.

And remember... be thankful for the problems that create your job.

The only reason a job—any job—exists is to solve a set of problems... be thankful for the problems at work. One of may favorite sayings with my coworkers when discussing (okay, more likely complaining) about problems is to state that they are simply "job security".  No problems, no job.

The problem of getting information to your friends and relatives around the world goes away when you have Facebook, email, and Skype—and so go thousands of postal service jobs, too. The problem of making it easier for customers to withdraw money from their account fades when you introduce the ATM—and reduce teller roles. And when the problems are not clearly defined and measured, such as in the value of leading and managing people, those jobs disappear, too.

So be grateful for the problems that create your job. You can still wish them away, but their presence ensures your presence.

Very few jobs are perfect (only God is perfect!) and there are always things that we would like to change, but if you really want to be happier at work, it's as simple as looking for reasons to be and making sure you're taking the time to really appreciate what you already have. You must actively focus your attention on the good to be happier at work.

This is where gratitude comes in. Gratitude is the act of focusing your attention and your energy on the things that you appreciate about your experience, making those things an active part of your awareness when your brain might have filtered them into the background before. When you make the good things happening a more active part of your experience by appreciating them on a deeper level, your whole experience becomes better and the negative things tend not to bother you so much.

The benefits of gratitude are extensive. Research has found that those who practice gratitude experience the following benefits:

  • You'll reduce your stress levels.
  • You'll experience greater career success.
  • You'll have higher self-esteem.
  • You'll have better relationships.
  • You'll be more empathetic and less aggressive.
  • You'll have better physical health.
  • You'll be more optimistic about the future and more positive about your life as a whole.
You may be thinking that the whole gratitude thing is naïve. Life is moving faster, stress and fear are increasing dramatically and the country is fast approaching a divisive election that’s on everyone’s mind. These are exactly the times that call for the benefits of gratitude. While there’s no gratitude gene, it’s a skill you can learn. And like anything, the more you practice, the better at it you become.

So, how about you? Do you have an attitude of gratitude towards work. I pray that you do.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Back to the 80's...

Time to jump into the DeLorean with Marty McFly and head back to the 80's. 

If you were to ask a CCM fan in the late 80's who is the best Christian rock band in the world, there would only be two contenders. The winner would probably be the band Petra, who we featured a few Friday's ago, but the case could be made for this week's featured group, WHITE HEART.

White Heart was an American contemporary Christian music pop-rock band which formed in 1982. White Heart's discography includes thirteen albums, the most recent of which was released in 1997. For a full-tilt rock band the group's origins hardly exude street cred. In the early 1980s, Bill Gaither (yes, that Bill Gaither) - massively popular songwriter exponent of inspirational and Gospel music was playing to packed auditoriums leading his Bill Gaither Trio. Among the Trio's backing band were Steve Green (who sang backup vocals, also fronted the Gaither Vocal Band, and who we will probably discuss more at a future time), Billy Smiley (who played guitar and trumpet) and Mark Gersmehl (keyboards and trombone).

Frustrated by their role as anonymous sidemen they formed a band with Dann and David Huff drawing inspiration from groups at that time like Toto, Boz Scaggs, Journey, and Steely Dan. They sent a demo to Word Records and by 1983 had had their first rock gospel album released White Heart.

The story of the White Heart's move from church hall to football stadium gigs was certainly not a seamless progression. The band faltered and hiccupped through numerous personnel changes  (including four different lead singers), moved through four different record companies and went through a crisis in 1985 which was the rock gospel equivalent of the Bakker and Swaggart scandals. Yet the resilience of their founding members Billy Smiley and Mark Gersmehl and the single unswerving vision to "take the gospel to the kids" (in the words of Gersmehl) saw White Heart not only emerge as rock gospel survivors but grow as men of God while their full-throttle guitar rock continued to find larger and larger audiences.

With hits too numerous to list, like "We Are His Hands", "Sing Your Freedom", "Let Kingdom Come", "Bye Bye Babylon", "Powerhouse", "The River Will Flow", "Independence Day", "Vital Signs", and many, many more great songs. White Heart was a favorite band of mine in the late 80's and I had a hard time picking which song to share, but here is "Desert Rose"...

In the words of Mark Gersmehl talking about White Heart:

What we do want people to think when they hear the name. Do we want it to be a great band, or great musicians? And he answer is no, we hope that's the basis for it, but it's that we hope to make a difference with people.

That is big idea for me, because there are so many Christian kids out there that have so little self value. And a lot of churches and denominations will teach that God loves you, but you're really nothing. And I really don't believe that. I believe God made all of us in his image, and that's a beautiful thing. We really want to tell Christian kids that God has made that difference in your life and so you make a difference in other peoples' lives. That's really the summation of what 'Power House' says, and it's what we are really about.

Although White Heart is considered one of the premier bands to ever play contemporary Christian music, and despite the many No. 1 hits and albums, they never won a Dove Award. White Heart was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame on November 6, 2010.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

More Contemporary Christian Country

Last week we discussed the evolution of contemporary Country artists releasing songs with decided CCM bent. 

Last Friday, seven-time GRAMMY Award winner and five-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year, Carrie Underwood, premiered the first pre-release track from her first-ever Christmas album, My Gift, available globally on September 25, 2020. The pre-release track, "Let There Be Peace", was written by Underwood, Brett James, and David Garcia. 

“I’ve always wanted to make a Christmas album and it’s been a long time coming,” says Underwood. “I knew this would be my next music project after wrapping my tour last year, and I think it’s turned out to be the perfect time for an album like this, in this period of such personal and spiritual reflection. For me, it’s more important than ever to focus on the true meaning of Christmas in a project like this. Even though it has been a tough year for all of us, sometimes I feel like the greatest realizations can be inspired by the most difficult times, and make us more grateful for the things we do have and for what truly matters.”

Though I hesitate to bring up the thought of Christmas since it is only the beginning of September, this song is appropriate for now and deserves a listen. I sure we will hear it often in the upcoming holiday season and even have a suspicion that this may be the big new Christmas hit for 2020.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

It Will Be Alright

Our local school system has just started. I'm sure that if it hasn't already, it will soon be starting for your area also. Whether the year is starting in-person, distance learning, or a combination of the two, there is much apprehension from school employees, parents, and children. This year has been stressful enough, but this involves kids and increases the worry and fear. Who knows if things will run smoothly this school year or need to be changed.

God knows! We may not understand or comprehend, but God knows. As Christians we must rely on that fact. “Fear not!” is the most repeated command in the Bible. It’s been said that there are 365 “Fear nots” in the Bible. This is not literally accurate, but "fear" is spoken of over 500 times in the KJV Bible. Often in relation to being taught to "fear God". But this simply means reverence to God alone and not to fear anyone or anything else. 

It has definitely been a tough year. testing our ability to not fear, not worry, and simply place our trust in God. Maybe this is ultimately God's goal for us this year. His way of telling us to place all our worries, anxieties, and fears in His hands. Maybe this is God telling us that "You Got This" because GOD'S GOT THIS.


Dante Bowe (of Bethel Music) just released a new song with Amanda Lindsey Cook called "Be Alright" which expresses this sentiment.

"'Be Alright' is dedicated to 2020," shared Bowe on social media. He continued, "Dedicated to people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, and point of views. Many of which have fallen subject to symptoms and effects of things like the Covid-19 Pandemic, Racial Injustice and/or hard, natural life situations. Things like financial struggle, job security, and relational challenges all matched with the inability to go to church, marital strain, and kids being unable to go to school."

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

NEEDTOBREATHE

On Friday, NEEDTOBREATHE released a new album titled Out Of Body

On Out of Body, the platinum-certified trio—Bear Rinehart [vocals, guitar], Seth Bolt [bass, vocals], and Josh Lovelace [keys, vocals]—examine life, family, and friends through a youthful prism. The guys take stock of not only two decades as a band, but also first-time fatherhood and the future over a rich soundtrack of soulful rock with stadium-size scope and poetic intimacy. After spending a week at a beach house in Charleston to gather thoughts and ideas, the trio headed to Nashville, to record. As they cultivated a team atmosphere, the songs organically came to life.

According to the band:

“We’re excited to release Out of Body into the world in a such a crazy time like this. In truth, it seems like this record was given to us exactly when we needed it and we are just thankful to be a part. The album is arranged to take you on a journey of healing and wonderment. Sometimes it takes a complete change of perspective to see the beauty around us, and this album is the music for your spaceship,”

Lots of good songs on this album. Back in June, we first featured one of the songs "Survival"Earlier this month, People premiered “Hang On” and applauded the track as “super catchy.” I agree it is a good and will surely get a lot of airplay. Last week Parade.com premiered the official music video for “Who Am I”, praising it as “a chill-inducing portrayal of this powerful song.” 

One of my favorites off the album... here is  "Who Am I"...

Monday, August 31, 2020

Attitude of Gratitude

Standard disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article are the rambling thoughts of the author and not necessarily representative of Living Word Lutheran Church.

I am having some random thoughts while I am sitting at home recovering from a hip replacement surgery (my second one this year) or maybe it is just the pain medication that I am taking. 😁 Anyway, I was thinking about the year 2020 now being 2/3's complete. It has been quite a year so far. Personally, I've gone through the two aforementioned surgeries and a few months ago, my wife fell and had emergency surgery to repair a broken leg and hip. Between the two of us, we now have enough metal to make airport detectors light up like Christmas trees. 

Then there was this global pandemic thing, and social isolation turning into social unrest turning into civil disobedience, polarizing distrust of figures of authority, the political divisions, conspiracy theories, racial tensions, record heat waves, massive forest fires, hurricanes, and though I know that it is not one of the seven last plagues, there has been an excessive number of frogs in my backyard this summer (see Ex 7:25 - 8:15). Yes, it sure feels like the four horsemen are running amok. But personally I doubt that the Rapture is near. I think it is more likely that God is just trying to get our attention. Often it takes something drastic to get our attention.

So, while I sit here in my "pain medicine induced" period of introspection, I choose not to focus on the negative things that have occurred, but rather all the positive things. I have many things to be grateful for:  I am employed and able to work from home, we are relatively healthy, the family and grandkids are great, no one in my family has suffered health issues, we have a home, food on the table, and enough toilet paper... and there still is church.  I am thankful for my church. I don't really understand all those people who keep jumping from church to church because they don't like a message, or style of music, or a pastor, or a church board or member. I think they are missing out on the real joy and sense of belonging of a church. I don't think a church should be too comfortable because that may lead to complacency, but a church should be like home. There is no place like home... though there may be countless chores, unpleasant duties, or repairs to be made, it is still great to be home.

To be perfectly clear, when I am talking about church, I am not talking about a physical building. My church has had several of those over the years. No, a church is the people. My church family. Like my physical family, my spiritual family is always there to support me... in prayer, words of encouragement, in volunteering to help in any way possible. Also like my physical family, I don't always agree with everything my church family says, does, or opines. Sometimes they surprise, perplex, annoy, or even anger me, but they are my family. Sometimes I don't even like or want to associate with all the members of my family, but I can still love them because love is a choice, not just an emotion (that is a thought too deep to discuss at this time). And just like my physical family, my church family is definitely not perfect. In fact to some outsiders we may seem to be an odd group of characters, but like Sister Sledge says "we are family". We are bonded together by the love of Jesus and though we are certainly not perfect, the Head of our family is, was, and always will be.

So my gratitude for today is my church family. I give them thanks and I thank God for them. I am truly blessed.


Friday, August 28, 2020

Flashback Friday

 Back to the 90's again this week, featuring PHILLIPS, CRAIG, & DEAN. They are a contemporary Christian music trio composed of pastors Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig, and Dan Dean. All three are senior pastors at their respective local churches. Since forming in 1991, the group has sold over two million units. They have also received ten GMA Dove Award nominations, winning four, including Praise and Worship Album of the Year in 2007 for Top of My Lungs, and Inspirational Album of the Year in 2010 for Fearless.

They have had many hits over the years. Some of their early songs include "Crucified With Christ", "Turn Up the Radio", "Favorite Song of All", "Table of Grace", my all time favorite Father's Day song: "I Wanna Be Just Like You" , and many more.

Perhaps my favorite Phillips, Craig, & Dean song is Mercy Came Running". released in 1995...


There have been many more hits throughout the 2000's and beyond. In recent years, they've shed their contemporary Christian roots and focused on more worship oriented music. On that line, they've released their latest albums. 

Since all three singers are full-time pastors and make it a priority to be at their respective churches in Sunday services, they have declared a virtual moratorium on Saturday night concerts. They have performed at the conventions of the National Religious Broadcasters and Christian Booksellers Association, appeared at Moody Church, played at Promise Keepers rallies, and recorded music for the National Day of Prayer.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

New Artist: Lion & Bear

Introducing another new CCM group... LION & BEAR. Hailing from southern California, Lion & Bear - a moniker inspired by the biblical story of David & Goliath - is a family band to its core. Members Andrew Enos and Michael Landingham are brothers-in-law (Michael is married to Andrew's sister), both work at their respective churches, and both have experienced devastating losses. They also both share that their unthinkable tragedies were followed by a stark realization: most people don’t know how to grieve. Lion & Bear was fashioned from the ashes of their tremendous anguish as an effort to not only find healing but to share that healing with others.

Lion & Bear is so new that their website is still "Under Construction" They will release their self-titled EP September 11 (an obvious choice of date for songs dealing with grief). The four-song EP will offer songs of hope and the unending love of Jesus, songs that offer praise along with lamenting, proclaiming the truth that pain is messy and uncomfortable. Their message is clear - if you go to the depths of your humanity, God will be there.

LION & BEAR have a nice, easy listening sound and their first release, "Held By Your Love", is very good. They have just released a video of another new song, "Stillness". 


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

His Love Endures Forever

 Reached Psalm 136 in my daily Psalm readings. The message of this Psalm is pretty straightforward... "His love endures forever".

Psalm 136 is a special psalm, with each one of its 26 verses repeating the sentence, "His love endures forever". In my mind I picture a great multitude of the people of God gathered in the temple courts. A leader would call out a reason to give God thanks, and His people would respond with, “For His love endures forever.” What better reason could there be to praise our God and give him thanks?

Psalm 136

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.  His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.  His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:  His love endures forever.
4 to him who alone does great wonders,  His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens,  His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters,  His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights—  His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day,  His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night;  His love endures forever.
10 to him who struck down the firstborns of Egypt  His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them  His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm  His love endures forever.
13 to him who divided the Red Sea asunder  His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,  His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;  His love endures forever.
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;  His love endures forever.
17 to him who struck down great kings,  His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings—  His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites  His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan—  His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance,  His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.  His love endures forever.
23 He remembered us in our low estate  His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.  His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature.  His love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.  His love endures forever.

When I read this Psalm, I am instantly reminded of the Chris Tomlin song "Forever" which we sing occasionally in church:

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Contemporary Christian Country?

Much of Country music was founded in Christian/Gospel beginnings. There is actually a genre of music that is often referred to Christian country music, but this most often a subgenre of Gospel music.

Recently the lines between Contemporary Christian music and Christian country music have become even more blurred. In fact the recent release of the album, Chris Tomlin & Friends (which was the subject of several previous posts in this blog) features many country stars and debuted at #1 on Billboard's Christian Albums. It features songs that have been getting airplay on both Country and Christian radio stations. In fact Chris, along with Rhett Thomas and Florida Georgia line were on the The Late Late Show with James Corden last week to perform "Thank You Lord".

We are also starting to see traditional country artists release songs that could easily fit within the CCM framework. Pastor Dave talked about one such song ("Monsters" by Eric Church) in a sermon about three months ago and I'm sure we can come up with many, many more examples.

That being said, I would like to introduce you to a song that was released a couple months ago by country artist, Larry Fleet called "Where I Find God". This is a great song about finding God in our everyday life.

From a bar stool to that Evinrude
Sunday mornin' in a church pew
In a deer stand or a hay field, an interstate back to Nashville
In a Chevrolet with the windows down
Me and Him just ridin' around
Sometimes, whether I'm lookin' for Him or not
That's where I find God


What examples do you have to share of mainstream country that could be a CCM release?

Monday, August 24, 2020

Unite to Fight Poverty

 Looking for something to do on Friday night? You could tune into a virtual concert event...

On Friday, August 28th at 7:30 CT Compassion International, Food for the Hungry, and World Vision are coming together to unite the Christian community through a two-hour concert event to benefit children and families worldwide who are most vulnerable to the aftershocks of COVID-19 as well as other natural disasters.

Featuring your favorite Christian music artists: 

  • TobyMac
  • Hillsong Worship
  • Kirk Franklin
  • Tamela Mann
  • for KING & COUNTRY
  • Michael W. Smith
  • Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Matthew West
  • Cece Winans
  • Natalie Grant
  • Zach Williams
  • Mandisa
  • Big Daddy Weave
  • Matt Maher
  • Phil Wickham
  • Christine D'Clario
  • Blanca
  • Rita Springer
  • Dante Bowe
  • Colony House
  • Jon Reddick
  • ... and more!

And hosted by Sadie Robertson Huff and Carlos Whittaker!

Tune in on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC44klyeTDNWqa3ACRKVHKAg
or watch on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/225365775433785/

OFFICIAL SITE: https://www.unitetofightpoverty.org

Friday, August 21, 2020

Flashback Friday

When I wrote yesterday's post about the theatrical production, Jonah, streaming this weekend on TBN, I thought about the song, "Big Fish". (In fact, the song was stuck in my mind all day 😒). With everything going on right now it sure seems like we are "sitting in the belly of a world gone mad" and its nice to know that the solution is as simple as the song states, just "Listen to God and follow His plan".

So without further ado, from this week's Flashback Friday artists, FFH, here is the 1998 hit "Big Fish". "Do de dum da digga dum dum da dum..."


Formed in 1993, FFH (Far From Home) is a Contemporary Christian band from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. FFH released six independent projects before being signed by Essential Records. Since then, they have released seven studio albums, as well as a "greatest-hits" album.

The group formed as Four For Harmony, an a cappella group. Over time they developed a vocal acoustic pop style, similar to that of Avalon, and changed their name to Far From Home, but that name was being used by a secular duo, so they morphed the name to FFH.

In addition to "Big Fish", numerous FFH singles have charted, including "Fly Away" and "Watching Over Me" which hit the number one spot on Adult Contemporary radio and the Top 5 on Christian Hit Radio, "On My Cross" which had a two-week run at number one inspirational radio, "I Want to Be Like You," "Lord Move or Move Me," and one of my favorite songs, "One of These Days"...