Saturday, October 31, 2020

Stay Home Tonight

Here's an older song that maybe makes the most sense for this year's Halloween with all the rising concern and increasing positive testing of Covid-19. ๐Ÿ˜ From NeedToBreathe:


Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2020

Flashback Friday

Joining Arnold with the Time Displacement Sphere to take us back to the early 90's for this week's featured group... Caedmon's Call.

Caedmon's Call was a contemporary Christian band which fused traditional folk with world music and alternative rock. Caedmon's Call was a Houston, Texas-based band at Texas Christian University in the summer of 1992. After spending some time playing locally, Caedmon's Call began touring college campuses across the South, steadily building up a dedicated following of young Gen-X singles. The band's unusual name was inspired by Cรฆdmon, an Anglo-Saxon cow-herder and monk who lived during the 7th century. Legend has it that Caedmon was afraid to sing in public due to a lack of musical talent, and shied away from occasions where he had to sing. After leaving a feast one night because he was too embarrassed to sing, he lay down in the pasture with the cattle to sleep. An angel appeared to him in a dream, calling him to sing. After refusing, he eventually decided to sing and when he did, he sang beautiful verses that had never been heard before. His songs were in the local vernacular language at a time when all other Christian songs were in Latin. Founding band members decided on the name "Caedmon's Call" after all three heard this story during the same week and thought it was fitting.

Caedmon's Call self-released their first album in June of 1994. In August of 1995, they released their second record. Both independently released albums sold over 10,000 copies apiece, and were distributed in Canada and the U.K. as well as America. The two albums, plus their live shows, led Musician magazine to call Caedmon's Call one of the best unsigned bands in America.

After being signed by a major label, they released their first mainstream, self-titled release Caedmon's Call in 1997. Over the years, Caedmon's Call have enveloped and adapted many different musical stylings, the most obvious being their folk and alternative rock roots. On Caedmon's Call the band utilized stylings that ranged from straight-up folk-rock ("Lead of Love", "Coming Home"), rock ("Not the Land"), folk ("This World", "Bus Driver"), and simple acoustic guitar ballads ("Center Aisle"). Perhaps one of my favorite songs comes from this album, "Hope To Carry On" (written by Rich Mullens):


Their second album, 40 Acres, released in 1999, has a more settled folk-rock sound. Songs such as the Derek Webb-penned "Thankful", for instance, took advantage of those folk-rock stylings, relying heavily on percussion.

In 2000, Long Line of Leavers, their third wide-release album, became something of a milestone for the band, including a wider range of instrumentation and stylings. "The Only One" featured a brass accompaniment, something Caedmon's Call had never experimented with before, whereas "The Ballad of San Francisco" was debatably the most folkish song ever included on a Caedmon's Call album. "Prove Me Wrong" was a simple guitar-driven pop song, while "What You Want" stands in the tradition of "Not the Land" as upbeat rock-and-roll.

Caedmon's Call is still together and has continued to produce albums through the years. Caedmon’s Call has sold millions of units of its 16 records to date. Their folksy vibe, clean harmonies and creative percussion caused a resurgence of acoustic music in the Christian pop scene and earned the band a large and loyal fan following, known as The Guild. Caedmon’s also helped launch or boosted the careers of artists like Bebo Norman, Jill Phillips, Waterdeep, and Andrew Peterson.

Their last album on 2010 was a studio release, Raising Up the Dead. Caedmon’s Call had matured into one of the most distinct bands in Christian music.  Raising up the Dead highlights the personality of each band member and comes together to form an album that defies cookie-cutter conformity and instead explores the diverse creativity of some of the industry’s most talented musicians, vocalists and songwriters.  Caedmon’s Call is all grown up, but their ability to blend the deep themes of faith and life into new and groundbreaking music is as fresh as ever.  

Thursday, October 29, 2020

51st Annual GMA Dove Music Awards

 Don't forget to tune in tomorrow night to TBN for the biggest event in Christian and Gospel Music — the 51st Annual GMA Dove Awards. Because of the ongoing pandemic, this year’s Dove event will look a little different, with powerful performances from nominees and artists pre-recorded and coming to you from TBN’s Nashville studio in place of live presentations.

Among the artists and nominees performing this year are For King & Country, Jekalyn Carr, Jenn Johnson of Bethel Music, Jeremy Camp, Jonathan McReynolds, Lecrae, Leeland, Mandisa, Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Tauren Wells, Travis Greene, We The Kingdom and more! 

Mark your calendars now and don’t miss all the music and excitement of the 51st Annual GMA Dove Awards. See it Friday, October 30 @ 8pm ET/ 5pm PT on TBN.

New Music Releases

New music for this week:

Pop singer/songwriter Riley Clemmons released a new uplifting single “Healing” last week. Among the darkness and pain that this year has brought to so many, “Healing” is a reminder that we can overcome the hardships and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You can feel Riley’s authentic emotions throughout the music video as she portrays the perfect combination of beauty and strength. The extravagant landscapes and heartfelt emotions will absolutely pull on your heartstrings.

"It’s no secret that this year has been full of hurt and loss for so many people, and I think more so than anything we’re all in need of some healing. I hope this song reminds you that there is a way to find strength through the pain, that what was broken can stand again, and that after the hurting comes the healing," says Clemmons.

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And of course, more new Christmas music...

Unspoken releases Good News this week, which is a new three track EP. Good News is available now for streaming and downloading. The official audio for the title track can be heard below.


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Artist/songwriter Hannah Kerr released a new song featuring Cochren & Co titled, "Here To Stay."

Kerr states, "During this crazy year, I’ve felt so inspired to write songs about hope and our God who never changes. Even with 2020 being so difficult for many of us, we can look at the Christmas story and remember that God is with us. His love is never out of season; it’s always available to us."



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GRAMMY Award-winning singer-songwriter and recording artist Francesca Battistelli presents her sophomore Christmas project, This Christmas. The brand-new 14-track collection, comprised of both originals and Christmas classics is available now.

“I am so thrilled to get to share these songs with all of you! Making this Christmas album has been an absolute labor of love. We started the process a year-and-a-half ago, and I don’t think I have ever enjoyed an album process so much. Through all of the uncertainty this year, it has been a true bright spot to write and record these songs,” Battistelli shares. “I know that for many people, the Christmas season can be very difficult. My prayer is that these songs offer hope, glorify Jesus, bring joy (and maybe even some laughter!), and truly bless you, now and in the years to come.”

This Christmas also features the chart-topping single, “Messiah,” as well as four other originals co-written by Battistelli, including “Behold Him.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Bible Thought: Follow

 Often, when we read the Bible, we don’t think we can live up to God’s standards. You don’t have to do it alone. Jesus has given us a Helper – His Spirit.

God wants to guide your life so you become more like Him. It’s your daily choice, and it’s not always easy! Will you follow the Spirit’s leading? The difference is huge!

Colossians 3:5-17 NLT

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Galatians 5:16-25 

Living By The Spirit’s Power

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 


So are you willing to follow where God is leading?

 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Halloween

On October 31st each year people across the country celebrate Halloween or All Hallow's Eve. Widely-geared toward young children who enjoy wearing costumes, trick-or-treating, and pumpkin carving, 

Whether you reject Halloween as a pagan holiday that promotes worshipping the devil and glorifying evil or whether you accept it as a harmless opportunity for kids to dress up and get lots of candy, Halloween has become the second-largest commercially celebrated holiday in America grossing over $8 billion in sales.

We should probably remember that Jesus told us that we should be IN the world, but not OF it, right? Right. But what does that mean? Does that mean that evil is out there and as long as we close our doors and turn the lights out, evil will stay away? If we can look at Halloween as an opportunity to engage with the community around us, maybe we can approach the holiday with more compassion and grace, rather than judgment. Also, recognize that Halloween is the eve of “All Saints’ Day” (November 1), and is also associated with Martin Luther and the Reformation. They celebrate the religious freedoms won at that time in history.

So, with Halloween arriving at the end of the week, there is still time to put together your costumes... Here are some Christian Halloween costume ideas for you..

  1. The Bible
    Because what could be more biblical than dressing up as the Word itself.

  2. David & Goliath
    No Halloween costume could possibly be cuter than this little boy dressed up as young David with his dad dressed as the big bad Philistine Goliath.

  3. The Holy Ghost
    Add a halo on top of this ghost costume or carry your Bible with you and BOOM. Holy Ghost costume for the win.

  4. Moses
    Probably should not carry a burning bush, but who wouldn't like to show up with the ten commandments?

  5. Noah’s Ark
    Whether you are steering the ark on your own or need to suit up the whole family, this costume is a winner.

  6. The Armor of God
    If you take the instructions in Ephesians 6 TOO literally you might find yourself in this costume…

  7. Daniel and the Lions Den
    The perfect Bible costume for you and your pup.

  8. VeggieTales – Bob & Larry
    Because why NOT dress up as the only vegetables every child can agree to love!


  9. Jonah and the Whale

  10. Catholic Nun
    Costumes aren’t just for people, let your pooch get in on the fun too! This costume is sure to turn some heads.


...and just for fun, check out the Good Christian's Guide to Trick-or-Treating:

Monday, October 26, 2020

Attitude of Gratitude IX

For this week's topic of gratitude I would like to talk about is family dinners. We don't have kids at home anymore, but my wife and I always sit down at the table together for our evening meal. We can discuss the events of the day and often we are joined by one or more of the kids and/or grandkids on Facetime. 

I think this gratitude was expressed best by an email from Jason Kotecki that I would like to share with you...

One good thing about the COVID-19 pandemic keeping us closer to home is that it brought back family dinner for many people. If this is one of the things that remains as part of what people refer to as a “new normal,” then I am all for it.

This painting, titled “Home Fries,” is a reminder that home is where the heart is. And the place our heart gets nourished most is around the dinner table.

In the the last hundred years or so, we’ve seen technology bring about more advancements than the rest of human history combined. We’ve come a long way, baby.

For the most part, these advancements have served us well. We’re able to produce more food, travel longer distances in less time, eradicate once-deadly diseases, and improve the length and quality of our lives. 

Unfortunately, we are so eager to reach for the new and improved that we often throw the wisdom of the ages right out the window. It’s dangerous to be too quick to discard the traditions of the past as old-fashioned and out of touch.

One such tradition that seems to be going the way of the dodo bird is the family dinner. Our busy, packed schedules have pushed this old-timey tradition to the brink of extinction. After all, with so many things going on these days, who has time to gather together all at once? With such full plates, family dinner is the first to go. The rise of fast food joints and microwave ovens make it seem an easy sacrifice.

Unfortunately, the very thing we’re sacrificing is the health, intimacy, and future of our family.

As Miriam Weinstein wrote in her book, The Surprising Power of Family Meals, “We’ve perfected the segmentation of the family. Nobody has to eat the same food, watch the same show, listen to the same song, let alone sing it. We love to imagine the French with their lush tables, or the Italians with their big families, but we prefer to gobble our take-out, our home delivery, our single-serve microwave, on the run, in front of the TV, in the food court, or in the car, while we dream of quality time, of family vacations, of someplace far away.”

If you care about your family at all, you may want to reconsider the importance of family dinners in your life. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University did a study that divided teenagers into two groups. The first group had dinner with their family five times a week or more. The second group had dinner together with their family two times a week or less. The results were astounding.

They discovered that the kids who ate dinner more often with their families were up to 45% less likely to smoke, drink, use drugs, be suspended from school, or have sex at young ages. They are twice as likely to receive A’s in school. Kids who frequently eat dinner with their families are likelier to confide in their parents and are at a lower risk for thoughts of suicide. Other studies from a wide variety of divergent fields have found equally surprising results. Regular family dinners discourage obesity and eating disorders and make kindergartners better equipped to read (even more so than getting read to!)

Isn’t it amazing to think how much depends on dinner?

Please note, we’re not talking gourmet dinners here. The study didn’t mention anything about preparing meals that would make Bobby Flay jealous. And the conversation? That doesn’t have to be all that engaging, either.

Heck, in my house growing up, a typical dinner conversation often included my Dad farting and blaming it on a duck under the table. Which resulted in giggles from me and my two brothers and an icy glare from my Mom (which usually was concealing a nearly undetectable smirk.)

Oh, and my Dad also had a penchant for asking the same, stupid, boring question every single night: “How was school today?”

Naturally, we’d respond with the same stupid answer: “Fine.”

But the thing is, if by some freak occurrence, something actually DID happen at school that I wanted to talk about, I knew my Dad (and Mom) would be there to ask the question. That shared time together, that calm amidst the storm that we call life, is so vitally important. In a world that often seems like it has gone crazy, the best thing you can do for the health and sanity of your family is to step off the hamster wheel once a day and share a simple meal together. The conversations that do occur help parents to learn more about their children’s lives and help them to better understand the day-to-day challenges their kids face.

Maybe a regular family dinnertime really is tough to swing. Well, who says you can’t make breakfast your regular meal time? If all parents knew how important eating dinner together as a family was to their children — something that used to be an unquestioned element of family life in this country — I think we’d see a lot more people doing it. If you struggle finding time to corral the troops for mealtime on a regular basis, I encourage you — no, I beg you — to try harder. Not only is it a pretty good way to escape the hustle and bustle of the outside world for a few moments each day, the benefits it provides your children are priceless. 

And if family dinners are already part of your regular routine, why not give it even more attention, intention, and fun?

Life is fast, and technology is making it even faster. Don’t get so sucked into the promise of the future that you abandon a time-tested ritual that our ancestors knew to be vital.

Bring the tradition of eating dinner together back into the fabric of your life. 

The health and happiness of your family depends on it.


Friday, October 23, 2020

Flashback Friday Time

 
Again this week we are back in the 90's to talk about CCM artist, Wes King. Wes is an American contemporary Christian singer, songwriter, photographer, and musician. He is perhaps best known for his 1993 album The Robe.

After picking up the guitar at the age of 14, Wes wrote his first songs two years later; after studying the Bible at Covenant College, he relocated to Franklin, Tennessee. Wes signed with Reunion Records and recorded his first solo LP The Ultimate Underlying No Denying Motivation in 1990. After issuing Sticks and Stones a year later, King resurfaced in 1993 with The Robe

I listened to this album a lot back in the 90's. Some great songs, like "The Robe" and "Second String", but my favorite song off The Robe is a song called "I Believe".

1995's Common Creed was his biggest hit to date, notching three CHR chart-toppers -- "Life Is Precious," "The Love of Christ" and the title cut, "Common Creed". 

In 1997, King issued A Room Full of Stories, his most acclaimed effort yet followed by What Matters Most in 2000 which was released on Word Artisan.

Wes is probably best known for his collaborations with other CCM artists such as Susan Ashton, Kim Hill, Michael Card, Michael W Smith, and most notably Phil Keaggy on the 1997 album, Invention.

In 2005 Wes was diagnosed with Lymphoma and underwent many months of extremely difficult treatments and years of side-effects. Wes is now cancer free and is feeling well enough to spend time in his studio again.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

More New Christmas Music

Okay, I give up. We've had our first snow of the winter (about 6") and most of the new music being published is Christmas music. So even if I don't want to, maybe it's time start embracing the upcoming season of celebration...

For KING & COUNTRY released “Heavenly Hosts,” the latest track and lyric video from the duo’s forthcoming Christmas album A Drummer Boy Christmas, out October 30th. “Heavenly Hosts” is one of two original songs written by for KING & COUNTRY for their new album.

Fresh off their win last night at the Billboard Music Awards for Top Christian Song, Joel and Luke Smallbone, the brothers who make up for KING & COUNTRY, shared in a statement: “Writing an original Christmas song is a bit of a daunting task, but we were always very intrigued by what it looked like when the angels met the shepherds. What did it look like, and what was being said? One of the beautiful storylines of the song is that the simple shepherds were the first ones to see the beautiful spectacle in the sky, and we thought it would be an appropriate story to tell through song for A Drummer Boy Christmas.”


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Matthew West also released a new original holiday song last week. "The Hope of Christmas".

"I had the idea for 'The Hope of Christmas' pretty early in 2020," shares Matthew West on his new holiday track. "It’s felt like we could use a little Christmas right now! I find myself looking back at the Christmases of my youth, life seemed so much simpler then. There’s a line in the song that says, 'these days peace on earth is hard to find, and I need you to remind me one more time.' I guess that pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling this year, and I have a feeling I’m not the only one. I see a world reeling from the turmoil of a pandemic, political divides, and racial tension. I’ve always felt that my calling as a songwriter is to extract that hope even from situations where it seems all hope is lost. Writing this song helped me remember the reason why we can always have hope. Hope has a name. His name is Jesus, the Hope of Christmas."

This is a great new Christmas song:


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Although, not a new original Christmas song, Zach Williams is bringing his signature style to a Christmas favorite, "Go Tell It On the Mountain".

"Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ was born - I can't think of a more needed message right now," Williams states on his revised classic. "2020 has shaken many of us to the core, and as this year comes to a close, I want THIS to be the message that ends our year. No matter your struggles, Jesus Christ was born to set you free. I checked another box on my bucket list - recording at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals Alabama, and this rendition is filled with a mix of the soul of that legendary studio, the camaraderie of my bandmates, and the message of hope that Jesus was born to save us all."

This may be my new favorite version of this classic Christmas song:

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Bible Thought: Change

Today's Bible thought is about being changed. We all know we’re sinners! How bad off are we? Today, we discover we were beyond hope because of our many sins. But our kind God gave us new life in Jesus Christ. He has a great plan for you!

Ephesians 2:1-22 NLT

Made Alive with Christ
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Oneness and Peace in Christ
Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.

For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.

He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

A Temple for the Lord
So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.

The truth can hurt, but it can also heal. Why? Real truth can't be separated from love, because real truth and real love are both perfectly embodied by Jesus. God's truth tells us we’re all sinners. It's a hard truth to admit, but with God, there is really no getting around it.

How bad off are we without Jesus? Without Him, all of us are as good as dead and without hope. Thankfully, out of God's perfect love he offered us His kindness rather than His anger. Because of Jesus, we can live a life filled with hope - God's hope. 


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

New Music

 Last week, Michael Cochren announced his debut album release from Cochren & Co. Don’t Lose Hope, releasing January 22, 2021.

The 13-song project will feature Cochren & Co.'s back-to-back Top 10 Billboard Christian Airplay radio singles “Church (Take Me Back)” and “One Day,” along with the current Top 25 radio single “Who Can.”

It's been just two years since Cochren & Co.'s debut. Helmed by Michael Cochren, he is one of two new artists to have two back-to-back Billboard Christian Airplay Top 10 radio singles as well as a GMA Dove Awards® New Artist of the Year nomination. The awards will be announced on October 30 via TBN. 

To date, Cochren & Co.'s debut single, 2018's “Church (Take Me Back),” gained a combined 30 million streams across Amazon Music, AppleMusic, Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube, and was nominated for a K-LOVE Fan Awards Breakout Single of the Year in 2019. Additionally, “One Day” gained more than 17 million streams across those music services in just one year. 

To celebrate the news of his album release, he has also released a new video of the title song.

"I wrote 'Don't Lose Hope' to remind us that the sun always comes out again after a storm," Michael Cochren shares. "No matter what we are facing - even when we feel like we're at the end of ourselves - it's not over. We're going to see the brighter days." 


Monday, October 19, 2020

Attitude of Gratitude VIII

 This week, I am grateful for music. I spend a lot of time listening to music, Even during my workday I usually have the radio or YouTube playing in the background. I especially like Contemporary Christian Music since that is my primary listening choice. If you have followed this blog at all, this should come as no surprise to you.

Music can bring me joy, can keep me focused, or can keep me calm. I enjoy listening to current favorites, or listening to favorites from many years ago (see the Flashback Friday posts). I especially enjoy finding new music and new artists that I have not yet discovered.

 Music is an inherent part of every society.  Since music is such an important part of life, it should not be surprising that the Bible says much about it; in fact, the longest book in the Bible is its song book—Psalms.

The church is commanded to communicate with each other “with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). Both the Old and New Testaments address music and strongly support its use in worship. The extensive anthology of actual songs found in the Old Testament indicates the importance and value God places on creative musical expression. Music’s use in worship in the church today is valuable and can honor God in a special way. Music is a communication tool, and a Spirit-filled Christian is a singing Christian. There are no New Testament instructions on the type of instruments to be used (or not used), and no particular “style” of music is recommended or forbidden. The simple command is to sing “to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16).

As with many things in life, we do not all agree on the type of music that we listen to. That's okay as long as it does not lead to destructive or immoral actions, I feel that there is no right or wrong type of music. Music is a blessing from the Lord. It is such a beautiful powerful thing that we should not take for granted. Sometimes God uses it to speak to us. I strongly believe that all Christians need to be listing to godly music throughout the week. It helps me to stay calm, be encouraged, and it helps me to keep my mind on the Lord and when my mind is on the Lord I sin less.

With that in mind, if you are looking for a fun evening of great music, Sidewalk Prophets are performing another virtual livestream concert. The Midwest Region show date is November 20th at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are "pay what you can" so you can watch for free or make a donation, but tickets are required and can be gotten at https://sidewalkprophets.com/pages/virtual-tour-dates, I saw Sidewalk Prophets in a live streamed concert earlier this year and it was a great show. I encourage you all to get tickets for The Chosen Tour by Sidewalk Prophets.



Friday, October 16, 2020

Another Flashback Friday

Today we will use Obadiah Price's Time-Jump devise to send us back to the 90's to take a look at this week's Flashback Friday artist, RAY BOLTZ.

Ray Boltz (born in June 1953 in Muncie, Indiana, United States) is a singer-songwriter who first came to wide notice in contemporary Christian music. Many of his songs tell stories of faith and inspiration.

Boltz began his career with his first album in 1986, but was virtually unknown when he wrote "Thank You", which won the Song of the Year prize at the 1990 GMA Dove Awards. His song "I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb" also won a Dove Award for Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year at the 25th GMA Dove Awards in 1994. After the release of Songs from the Potter's Field in 2002, and his last tour in 2004, Boltz retired from the music industry. 

My favorite Ray Boltz album is probably Concert of a Lifetime featuring his best hits like "The Anchor Holds," "The Altar," "Watch the Lamb," "I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb," and of course the song that brought him recognition, "Thank You."


Though there was some controversy with Ray after the turn of the century, it doesn't diminish the great CCM songs that he produced.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

New (Christmas) Music

I hesitate to post this today. Don't want to be like the Hallmark channel and start celebrating Christmas too early, but most of the new music news this week deal with Christmas releases.

Rend Collective released "Today Is The Saviour's Day" This is the first track pre-released from their second Christmas album, A Jolly Irish Christmas Vol. 2, which is set to drop later this month on October 23.

The band shares, "Like many of you, we need the hope of the Christmas story more than ever. To be reminded that Jesus came down into the dark chaos of life and brought hope like the world had never seen before." The group continues, "Especially with everything going on this year in particular, the Saviour's day feels even more significant to us. Jesus came into this world as a baby, to bring peace and reconciliation to the world. That is what we are celebrating this Saviour's Day and every Christmas!"


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GRAMMY winning artist Chris Tomlin has released a new Christmas EP, Miracle Of Love: Christmas Songs of Worship

“Christmas is the great surprise to the world, and personally this Christmas continues in the spirit of unexpected gifts. When I found out that my wife and I are expecting our third child this December, I was surprised… to say the least,” said Chris. “Around the same time, I was starting to write music for this Christmas project and as I sat down the concept came so quickly. Christmas is about celebrating a gift from God, a surprise child for Joseph and Mary, a true Miracle Of Love. For me, it is another gift to be able to write a song about the surprise of our third baby girl and the parallel story of the birth of Jesus. As a songwriter, I felt so inspired and loved how each line of the song could have a double meaning.”

Miracle Of Love: Christmas Songs of Worship EP includes two new songs, “Miracle of Love'' and “All the World Awaits (Hosanna)”. (Both are found below.) The project also features the songs from his 2019 Christmas Day: Christmas Songs of Worship EP as well as “Noel” featuring Lauren Daigle originally released in 2015.


So if you are in the mood to start the Christmas season already, have a listen to these new releases.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Bible Thought: Invited

 Today's Bible thought is about being invited.

God invites us to partake of His mercy. Do you expect to see mercy today? What is mercy - Having compassion. Jesus surprises us with His love for those who don’t feel worthy of it. It seems like Jesus is looking for those people. Are you one of them? We are invited to follow Jesus and all we need to do is accept the invitation.

John 8:1-11  A Woman Caught in Adultery

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.

Luke 19:1-10 NLT  Jesus and Zacchaeus

Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.

Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.

Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”

Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.

Matthew 9.9-13 NLT  Jesus Calls Matthew

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.

Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners."

How about it? Have you accepted the invitation of His love for you, and will you give His love to someone else?

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

God So Loved (the Whole World)

One of my current favorite CCM groups, We The Kingdom, released a video last Thursday of their hit song "God So Loved" being performed around the world in many different languages - Tagalog, Spanish, French, and German as well as English. 

Watching this video it is easy to be reminded of the world edition of Chris Tomlin's "How Great Is Our God." This is an excellent reminder of John 3:16...  that we are all children of God and He truly does love the whole world. Enjoy...

Monday, October 12, 2020

Attitude of Gratitude VII

With the end of summer, many people get depressed thinking about winter being just around the corner and bringing with it the upcoming cold weather and snow (though I know a few who anxiously look forward to snow, like a certain unnamed pastor's wife ๐Ÿ˜). But if that is your focus, you may be missing out on the most colorful season in Minnesota - autumn. Our state is known for it's expansive lakes and outdoor beauty. This is never more evident than at this time of year when the foliage changes to a painted landscape. 

So today I am grateful for the beauty of the season around us that God has provided. We only need to look around outside to remind us of Psalm 118:23... "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes." 

I think that as much as I enjoy the greenery of Spring, this is still my favorite time of the year. The weather turns cooler, the bugs and tourists tend to disappear, and everything around us becomes like a painted canvas. It is easy to see God's handiwork. The evidence is all around us. I only need to take a short drive to remind myself of the glory of God at this time of year. "On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate." Psalm 145:5

I hope you enjoy the Fall as much as I do and are grateful for God providing us a glimpse of His works.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Flashback Friday

 Back to the 90's again this week with the group Point of Grace. Point of Grace is a group of contemporary Christian music singers and authors. This all-ladies group started out at a quartet in 1991 and consisted of Shelley Breen, Denise Jones, Terry Jones and Heather Payne. In November 2003, Terry Jones decided she needed to spend more time with her family after giving birth to her third child, and left the group, with Leah Cappillino joining in March 2004 for their 2004 release I Choose You. In June 2008, Payne announced her retirement from the group, in order to spend more time with her husband and four children.

Point of Grace is recognized as one of the top Contemporary Christian music bands in the United States. In 2003, they released their ninth album, 24 - a compilation of their 24 consecutive #1 radio singles. To this date, no band in any genre has matched this record. As of 2006 the girls have 27 #1 radio singles.

Point of Grace got its start at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. They sang in a vocal group called 'The Ouachitones,' which was made up of 14 girls. Within the group, the girls formed a trio, and after a sound check for a Ouachitones performance, the girls were singing a cappella when they were told by an onlooker that they should do something together. They developed quite a following and spent nearly every weekend singing. After many fan requests, they recorded an independent album, and became favorites in the South and Midwest. The girls, encouraged by their family members, attended the 1992 Music in the Rockies Christian Artists Seminar in Estes Park, Colorado. They wowed the crowd and the judges when they performed "He's The Best Thing" and wound up winning the Overall Grand Prize in the Group competition. After their performance, there was major record label interest, and the group decided to sign with Word Records. They then moved to Nashville to start work on what would become their self-titled debut album.

On August 23, 1993, led by the No. 1 single "I'll Be Believing", Point of Grace released their self-titled debut album. It was quickly embraced by fans and critics, who compared the group's tight harmonies to that of pop group Wilson Phillips. The album's next five singles also reached the top of the charts, a feat unmatched to this day. Before Point of Grace, the record was held by Gloria Estefan and Mariah Carey with 4 consecutive No. 1 singles from their debut albums. The group's undeniably catchy sound, inspiring lyrics and fresh-faced image increased their following, and songs like "I'll Be Believing", and "Jesus Will Still Be There" became fan favorites. In 1993 they were named New Artist of the Year at the 24th GMA Dove Awards and embarked on a national tour with Wayne Watson. In 1997, their debut album was certified gold by the RIAA and was the top-selling Christian catalog album of 1998.

Towards the end of 1994 they began work on the follow-up to Point of Grace. On March 15, 1995, The Whole Truth was released. The album's first single, "The Great Divide", shot to No. 1 and became the girls' seventh consecutive No. 1 single. The album did very well on the charts, charting at No. 1 and staying there for 13 consecutive weeks. After it left the No. 1 spot, it remained in the Top 10 for 45 consecutive weeks. It was certified gold by the RIAA in 1997 and the remaining four singles also reached the top of the charts.

The girls embarked on a nationwide tour with Phillips, Craig and Dean (a previous Flashback Friday feature). They were named the 1996 Group of the Year at the Dove Awards and also won Doves for Pop/Contemporary Recorded Album of the Year (The Whole Truth), Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year ("The Great Divide") and Special Event Album of the Year (My Utmost For His Highest).

The media was paying attention to Point of Grace.  "Keep The Candle Burning", went No. 1 on the day their album released. It became the girls' twelfth consecutive No. 1 single. The girls announced that they would be co-headlining an arena tour with 4Him, (another previous Flashback Friday group), who had just released their album The Message. The tour hit major markets and was very successful, leading both groups to add a spring leg, which went into early summer of 1997.

Life Love & Other Mysteries has been one of their most successful albums to date. It was certified gold by the RIAA in 1997 and platinum in 1999. The album debuted at No. 1 and stayed at the top of the charts for 10 weeks. It was one of the Top 5 selling albums throughout 1997 and one of the Top 10 selling albums in 1998. The album was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album in 1997. The girls were also nominated for the 1997 Group of the Year at the Dove Awards and "Keep The Candle Burning" was nominated for Song of the Year.

One of my favorite Point of Grace songs is from this album, "Circle of Friends"...

Point of Grace continues to perform and release albums today. Their latest album was released in 2018. Also in August, 2018, Point of Grace were inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall Of Fame.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

New Artist Josh Baldwin

Okay, actually not a new artist, but I expect that not many people are aware of Josh Baldwin yet.  This Dove Award-nominated singer/songwriter and worship leader has released Evidence, his highly anticipated Bethel Music sophomore set. Produced by We The Kingdom’s Ed Cash and The Creak Music’s David Leonard, Brad King and Seth Talley, the 11-track project finds Baldwin embracing his most authentic artistic expression to date, both lyrically and sonically.

From organic, country-tinged pop to anthemic moments of worship, the album is punctuated by banjo, harmonica and close harmonies, bringing Baldwin’s North Carolina roots to the forefront. 

“Throughout my history with the Lord I’ve seen His faithfulness and goodness in my life, but now I’m finally coming to an even greater understanding of who I am in Him,” Baldwin says. “I didn’t realize it until all the songs on the record were complete, but that’s the theme running through it—embracing my identity as a new creation in the Lord and following His heart.”

“I think this theme seeps into the sound as well,” he adds. “The music is just a natural extension of who I am and my influences. More than any other record I’ve done, my roots really come through in this project. I feel like I’m finally fully revealing who I am as an artist.”

The album's title-cut and debut single, which is currently a Top 20 hit on both Billboard's Christian Airplay and Christian AC Monitored charts, extols God’s steadfast love through every generation.

There are some great songs on this album. You should listen to "Mighty God," "My King Forever," "New Creations," or one that I really enjoy called "Best Friends":

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

What's for Dinner?

 Looking for something different for next Saturday's dining?



Bible Thought: Pursuit

I'm following a Bible reading plan that I would like to share. Each week we will explore another concept that is taught in the Bible.  Today is "Pursuit".

Jesus pursues all who are lost (and we are all lost). It is comforting to know that we don't really need to go searching for Him because He is already looking for us and will bring us back to Himself.  Even better, when we come to Him and repent all of heaven rejoices. So let yourself be found and let's party...

Luke 15:1-32 NLT
Parable of the Lost Sheep
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

Parable of the Lost Coin
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

Parable of the Lost Son
To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

“A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

“The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

New Music

CCM artists, I AM THEY announced the official release date of their upcoming studio album, Faithful God, as October 23 . On Friday, they also released the project's third single and lyric video "Lift My Eyes".

 

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Musical group Array of Hope also released their new song, "Hope Can Last Forever."  The music video for the song was released on Friday.

The upbeat "Hope Can Last Forever" powerfully sings about placing our trust in Christ’s promises and not on our own strength. This timely release from Array of Hope expresses the hope in God’s promises to all of us during difficult times, and it is in these times we are searching for meaning and purpose.


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Selah premieres their newest single, "Step Into My Story", which can be heard below. The single is the first of Selah's tracks to be pre-released off their new album, expected to drop November 6, 2020. After more than two decades, Selah, the trio composed of Todd Smith, Amy Perry, and Allan Hall, is experiencing a rebirth of who they are with a youthfulness, excitement and passion as they release their first project with Integrity Music.

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Returning to the spotlight with her first full-length album in nearly a decade, acclaimed singer/songwriter and worship leader Jaime Jamgochian released All Things.

Highlighting All Things is the tender duet “Just The Way You Are,” a reminder of God’s unconditional love, featuring GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Danny Gokey.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Attitude of Gratitude VI

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.

Today, I am thankful that the political election season is soon coming to an end. Okay, that thought may be slightly sarcastic, but it is easy to get tired of the nonstop political news, derogatory television ads, and influx of junk mail from everyone who is running for some sort of office.


At this point, I see two options: Ignore it all until it goes away or try to convince everyone about the importance to voting regardless of whether we agree on political positions or not. Politics may not be a solution, but it is an influence in the world around us. If we ignore all the news, debates, issues, and candidates, then we are probably not going to make wise and informed choices with our votes that help further the causes of justice and righteousness

In spite of this, there are four things that I need to remind myself whenever I get entangled in any type of political discussion...

  1. I can't fix everything myself.  As much as I would like to make everything alright, sometimes I need to remind myself to follow the advise from Elsa in Frozen and "Let it go".

  2. Try to be like Jesus. Don't focus on the negativity, fear, and division of politics. Instead focus on trying to do what Jesus would want us to do (WWJD).

  3. Remember what I should really be trying to accomplish: My goal should be to get others to follow Jesus, not follow my political preferences.
    For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 
  4. Finally when discussing political viewpoints remember to "love our neighbors". 
    But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. Luke 6:27-28
    Whether we agree or disagree, I need to remember to treat others with dignity and respect. If I try to convince others of the validity of my opinions by cleverness or refusal to listen to their views, I have failed on point #2 above. I have failed to be a light and I will just make myself upset, overwhelmed, and/or angry.

So, who am I voting for in the election? Mark Twain said that we should never discuss religion or politics in polite company. I certainly don't mind discussing my religion, but I tend to agree on politics... This is not the forum for us to respectfully discuss our political views. The one thing of which I am certain is that if I print my opinion, it will have no bearing on your opinion. I am equally certain that if you send me your opinion, it will not change mine so we should just avoid the inevitable conflict inherent in social media. Besides, Mark Twain also said, "Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience." ๐Ÿ˜„



Friday, October 2, 2020

Flashback Friday

Back to the 90's this week featuring CCM artist, Clay Crosse.

Clay Crosse grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. He became a Christian at the age of 13. He married his high school sweetheart, Renee Kennedy. Initially, Clay worked as a courier for FedEx for six years. Clay then released his first album, My Place Is With You, in 1994. "I Surrender All" was the most successful single from the album. With the success of his musical career, Clay was able to leave FedEx and concentrate on music full-time in 1994.

This song that first introduced him to the CCM world probably remains one of his most successful and certainly a favorite of mine.

Crosse became known for singles such as "I Surrender All" "Midnight Cry" "He Walked A Mile" "Saving The World" and "I Will Follow Christ." . He won the Dove Award for "New Artist of the Year" at the 25th GMA Dove Awards in 1994. Clay's music has a soulful, pop style. Nine songs from his first four albums became No. 1 singles. During this period, his He Walked A Mile won the 1997 CCM Adult Contemporary Song of the Year. In 1999, his song ""I Will Follow Christ" won the Dove Award for Inspirational song Of the Year. He collaborated on the song with Bob Carlisle and BeBe Winans.

Following his initial success, Clay experienced difficulties with his singing voice and hired a vocal coach, Chris Beatty. At his first appointment with the vocal coach, Mr. Beatty questioned him about his spiritual life. After being asked this question, Clay went through a time of contemplation and reckoning in his life, one that he describes as "the greatest time of spiritual growth I had ever experienced."  With the changes in his personal life, Clay released A Different Man in 1999. The songs "98", "Sinner's Prayer" and "Arms of Jesus" were written reflecting his personal growth. Touring with Jaci Velasquez, he spoke to teenagers encouraging sexual abstinence before marriage. He also worked in conjunction with the national student movement, "True Love Waits." Clay states "During this life-changing time for me there was a clear change in my career. What was once a focus on 'Christian entertainment' was now a genuine calling to the ministry. With this change, Clay began serving in local ministry. Clay served as worship pastor for The Love of Christ (TLC) Community Church in Memphis under head pastor Dana Key (of the Christian Rock group DeGarmo and Key). This was Clay's first staff position at a local church. During this time, Clay signed a deal with the TAG Artist Group to release the CD and DVD Eternity with You: Live Worship. The release of the CD and DVD coincided with the publication of his book, I Surrender All. In 2007, he released the single "Believe".

Clay has served as lead worship pastor at the following churches. First Baptist Church, Bentonville, Arkansas 2013 - present. Faith Baptist Church, Arlington, Tennessee 2010 - 2013. The Love of Christ Church (TLC) 2004 - 2008.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Church Sign

 I'm not familiar with this book of the Bible... Maybe its part of the Apocrypha...