Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Another Sidewalk Prophets Concert

Sidewalk Prophets have announced another Live Stream Event... The Reasons For Joy Tour.

"If you've been feeling down, out, hurt, or helpless you aren't alone. This night is all about finding joy in the midst of all life's struggles, and the best news is that you don't have to go through it alone."

Tickets are now available for the following dates:  Feb 17th through the 20th and Feb 24th through the 27th. Lots of opportunities to see this concert. All dates on the “Reasons For Joy” tour will feature interactive moments, plenty of hits from Sidewalk Prophets’ extensive catalog, and fresh favorites from the band’s latest full-length album, The Things That Got Us Here, featuring new songs like “Smile” and “Chosen.” Pick you date and claim your ticket HERE. Your ticket gets everyone in your home access to enjoy the HD virtual tour experience for one low price. (AND the free option is still available). All paid tickets get early access to the pre-show Band Devotional.


With a career spanning three major label studio releases—These Simple Truths (2009), Live Like That (2012) and Something Different (2015), plus 2013’s celebrated holiday offering, Merry Christmas To You, and their newest album, The Things That Got Us Here, released July 3, 2020.—and multiple hits, including Gold-certified “The Words I Would Say,” “You Love Me Anyway” and “Live Like That,” among others, Sidewalk Prophets remains a mainstay at Christian radio. The Dove Award-winning band has sold more than 740,000 albums and 1.8 million digital tracks. In addition, the group has garnered five No. 1 songs, nine Top 5 radio singles and more than 43 million views on YouTube. 

The band originally formed at Indiana’s Anderson University, and since signing with Curb | Word Entertainment, they’ve been nominated for a Billboard Music Award, multiple K-LOVE Fan Awards and four Dove Awards, taking home the New Artist of the Year Dove in 2010. Over the course of their career, they’ve played for more than 2.5 million fans, and counting. Known for spending more days on the road than anywhere else, Sidewalk Prophets’ most recent tours have morphed into interactive experiences for their fans, whom they affectionately call “The Great Big Family.” 

I have attended several of their Live Stream concerts and they are always great. Get your tickets now!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

New Music / Videos

Some great new videos were released last week. First, genre-defying artist and multi-instrumentalist Crowder released a new single today. "Good God Almighty," which was debuted at the all virtual Passion 2021 conference and the song was met with rave reviews.

"This song is just some good old fashioned group singing," Crowder shared on social media. "And what I love about that is it is a group of people in harmony together. That’s what we need and what I'm praying for, some harmony and togetherness."

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Next, GRAMMY and GMA Dove Award-winning artist Zach Williams released the official music video for "Less Like Me.". The track was first featured on Williams' 2019 album titled Rescue Story.

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Finally, after announcing their farewell last year, Tenth Avenue North released their last offering as a band with newly recorded versions of their hits over the last two decades. The album, Unplugged For The People (The Acoustic Greatest Hits), is available now and features 10 of the band's greatest hits and fan favorites including "By Your Side," "You Are More," "Control," "Greater Than All My Regrets" and more. The band felt it would be fitting to close this season of their lives by recording and reimaging some of their greatest hits for their loyal fanbase. With their farewell tour being last year postponed due the pandemic, the band was able to dream and record these new versions during lockdown.

More than 20 years ago, Tenth Avenue North was formed as three friends in a dorm room, and they have gone on to sell more than two million albums, win multiple GMA Dove Awards including New Artist of the Year and tour around the world. Tenth Avenue North has been awarded a RIAA Platinum certified single ("By Your Side"), two RIAA Gold certified singles ("Worn," "You Are More") and a RIAA Gold certified album (Over and Underneath). Since their acclaimed national debut, Over and Underneath, Tenth Avenue North’s career has been built one hit song at a time thanks to radio favorites like “Love Is Here,” “Hold My Heart,” “By Your Side,” “You Are More," and their multi-week No. 1 smash “Control (Somehow You Want Me).”

The band has begun releasing music videos from Unplugged For The People , beginning with three new videos. I'm sure you are familiar with these songs, but these versions are great.



Monday, January 18, 2021

Martin Luther King Day

Today, Monday, January 18 is the federal holiday in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King’s birthday. Signed into law in 1983 and first observed in 1986, the holiday is a deserving tribute to King for advancing civil rights and social justice through non-violent protest. His was only the second birthday designated as a federal holiday after the observance of George Washington’s birthday. The making of their respective holidays reveals the still unresolved tension between independence and freedom in the making of the United States.

Since the nation last celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, it’s been “a year of extremes” that underscores the urgent need of creating the “Beloved Community” that the civil rights leader envisioned, his daughter said last week.

“As I consider the inhumanity, injustice and indifference currently persisting in our world, particularly in the United States of America, I cannot imagine a more relevant and powerful way to commemorate my father’s birthday than with focus on the urgency of creating the Beloved Community,” said Bernice King. “Now, more than ever, we must turn our attention to fostering reconciliation, which includes truth and repentance, and also turn our attention to achieving true peace, which includes justice.”

Looming over this year’s events are the tense and contested presidential election and last week’s attacks on the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., where five people were killed.

This year’s commemoration will be quite different from past years — events will be held virtually. The coronavirus pandemic, which disrupted almost every aspect of life in 2020, continues to rage. The events will be streamed live at the King Center, (which I had the privilege to visit years ago when in Atlanta, GA with our church youth group for a convention.)

“A great part of me is sad, not being able to do some of the things we traditionally do in connecting with each other,” King told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It feels very awkward to me. But I thank God for the gift of technology that allows us to still do something that is meaningful and, in many ways, can be impactful. I don’t know what we would do without it.”

53 years after King’s death, the promised land where Black people “take their rightful place on earth,” remains elusive. The protests against police brutality and the demonstrations in support of Black Lives are a powerful reminder that the United States has yet to fulfill its promise to Black Americans. King’s closing words at the Bishop Charles Mason Temple the night before his death captures the purpose and meaning of Black protest and sacrifice. “I might not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.”

In honor of MLK Day, here is perhaps his most remembered speech, "I Have A Dream".

You can also watch a great special remembering the life, legacy, and message of MLK, and the church’s role in measuring up to the ideals of Martin Luther King, I Have A Dream: Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  HERE on TBN.

On this MLK Day let us all re-dedicate ourselves to building a promised land where Black protest and sacrifice are not a requirement to live in the United States.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Flashback Friday

Today's Flashback Friday takes us back around 50 years to the beginning of Contemporary Christian Music. Larry Norman was an American musician, singer, songwriter, record label owner, and record producer. He was a groundbreaking rebel rocker with long hair, a principal architect of what came to be known as "Jesus Music", and is considered to be one of the pioneers of Christian rock music. Through his career, he released more than 100 albums.

Larry Norman was born in Corpus Christi, Texas. Norman graduated high school in 1965 and won an academic scholarship to major in English at San Jose State College. After one semester, Norman "flunked out of college and lost his scholarship". Although he was able to play a variety of musical instruments, he never learned to read or write musical notation.

In 1966 Norman opened a concert for People! in Pacific Grove, California. He later became the band's principal songwriter, sharing lead vocals. People! performed about 200 concerts a year. Soon after Norman left People!, he had "a powerful spiritual encounter that threw him into a frenzy of indecision about his life and for the first time in his life, he received what he understood to be the Holy Spirit".

In July 1968, following a job offer to write musicals for Capitol Records, Norman moved to Los Angeles, where he "spent time sharing the gospel on the streets". As he described in 2006: "I walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard several times a day ... witnessing to businessmen and hippies, and to whomever the Spirit led me. I spent all of my Capitol Records' royalties starting a halfway house and buying clothes and food for new converts." He was initially associated with the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, and its Salt Company coffee shop outreach ministry, where he explored and pioneered the rock-gospel genre.

In 1969, Capitol Records released Norman's first solo album, Upon This Rock, which is now considered to be "the first full-blown Christian rock album". Norman was denounced by various television evangelists, and Capitol deemed the album a commercial flop and dropped Norman from the label. However, his music gained a large following in the emerging countercultural movements. Sales of the album rose following its distribution in Christian bookstores.

By the early 1970s, Norman was performing frequently for large audiences, and appeared at several Christian music festivals. In 1971, Norman first visited England, where he lived and worked for several years. During this time he recorded two studio albums. The first, Only Visiting This Planet was released in 1972 and "was meant to reach the flower children disillusioned by the government and the church" with its "abrasive, urban reality of the gospel." It has often been ranked as Norman's best album. The second album, So Long Ago the Garden released in November 1973 was met with controversy in the Christian press, due to the album's cover art and some songs.

Some of his most memorable work came off the Only Visiting This Planet album. Songs like "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus," "Righteous Rocker," "The Outlaw," and one my personal favorites, "Wish We'd All Been Ready"...

In 1974, Norman founded Solid Rock Records to produce records for Christian artists "who didn't want to be consumed by the business of making vinyl pancakes but who wanted to make something 'non-commercial' to the world". Norman produced music on the label for artists including Randy Stonehill, Mark Heard and Tom Howard.

Throughout his career, Norman had a contentious relationship with the wider Christian church and with the Christian music industry. He wrote in September 2007, "I love God and I follow Jesus but I just don't have much affinity for the organized folderol of the churches in the Western World." Norman's music addressed a wide range of social issues, such as politics, free love, the occult, the passive commercialism of wartime journalists, and religious hypocrisy, that were outside the scope of his contemporaries. Defending the confrontational approach of his music, Norman said, "My primary emphasis is not to entertain. But if your art is boring, people will reject your message as well as your art." In the 1980s, he complained that Christian music generally meant "sloppy thinking, dishonest metaphors and bad poetry," and that he had "never been able to get over the shock of how bad the lyrics are."

Norman disapproved of Christian musicians who were unwilling to play in secular venues or to "preach" between songs. He also criticized what he saw as the "commercialization of Christian music in America", including the role of copyrights and licensing.

We could go on and on about all the hits and successes as well as all the trials, tribulations, and controversies of Larry Norman. In 1989, Norman received the Christian Artists' Society Lifetime Achievement Award and his songs have been covered by over 300 artists from DC Talk to Janis Joplin to Geoff Moore to Phil Keaggy. After a lengthy illness, Norman died on February 24, 2008, at the age of 60.

In 2008, Christian rock historian John J. Thompson wrote, "It is certainly no overstatement to say that Larry Norman is to Christian music what John Lennon is to rock & roll or Bob Dylan is to folk music." Thompson credited Norman for his impact on the genre as a musician, a producer, and a businessman. Steve Camp, Carolyn Arends Bob Hartman, TobyMac, Mark Salomon, Martyn Joseph, and Steve Scott have credited Norman as influences. Larry Norman is often considered the "father of Christian rock" and it was once said that if you could combine the onstage magnetism of Mick Jagger, the lyrical brilliance of Bob Dylan and the personal fragility of Brian Wilson, you would only have begun to scratch of the surface of Larry Norman.

Larry Norman wrote and sang too many great songs to mention in this article, but I am going to leave you today with another hit from the Only Visiting This Planet album that seemed to sum up Larry Norman' musical philosophy, "Why Should the Devil Have All The Good Music"...

Thursday, January 14, 2021

New Music

Last Friday, Jon Foreman (of Switchfoot) dropped three new songs from his upcoming solo album titled Departures. The full album is set to drop on February 12th, full of songs "born from the Journey, not the destination." The pre-release tracks include "Education," "Red And Gold," and featured below...  "Jesus, I Have My Doubts" .  


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Also last Friday, singer/songwriter, worship leader and record producer Tim Timmons released his newest single titled "This Is The Day."  
"Psalm 118 was written in the midst of a CRAZY, SCARY, DANGEROUS season. So in the middle of it all, this song was sung," Timmons shared on social media speaking about the heart behind his new song. "This is a new year, with a new beginning. This is the day!" 

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In recognition of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, eight-time GRAMMY nominated artist Tauren Wells and Tim Tebow Foundation President Tim Tebow recently united forces to release “All God’s Children.”

Wells debuted the song in a live performance on New Year’s Eve at the virtual 2021 Passion Conference, an annual gathering of roughly 50,000 young adults uniting their voices to promote a spiritual awakening of their generation.

100% of the proceeds from “All God’s Children” will benefit the Tim Tebow Foundation’s Anti-Human Trafficking ministry. Funds raised will support the deployment of a multi-faceted global strategy to confront human trafficking through prevention, rescue, and restoration through long-term relational care of survivors. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Church Triumphant

Last Friday, I talked about the remaking of 50 year old Bill and Gloria Gather song, "The Church Triumphant."  If you haven't heard it, here is the 2021 official music video for "The Church Triumphant" featuring: Ben Backus, Francesca Battistelli, Harper Bovi, Laurie Crouch, Jim Cymbala, Christine D'Clario, Gloria Gaither, Bill Gaither, Gaither Vocal Band, Kathie Lee Gifford, Jack Graham, Natalie Grant, Mark Lowry, Toby Mac, Mandisa, Martins, Jody McBrayer, Pastor Mike, Jr., Nicole C. Mullen, Sandi Patty, David Phelps, Wintley Phipps, Mac Powell, Joel Smallbone, Michael W. Smith, and Michael Tait...

While the Covid-19 pandemic may be holding the world hostage at present, and political divisiveness may seem out of control, believers and followers of Jesus can be assured that ultimately God is still in control, and that His Church is and will be triumphant.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

New Song Cafe

If you are not familiar with New Song Cafe, it is a program from Worship Together, a resource website for worship leaders, musicians, and fans. Worship Together provides free weekly resources such as chord charts, sheet music and New Song CafĂ© videos. The videos are on YouTube and listed HERE.

New Song Cafe showcases an exclusive acoustic version of a (fairly new) song and talks with the artists about the story behind the song and offers tips on how it can be played. I find it very interesting to hear about how and why the song was written and the show often provides great personal insight into the artists.

Last week, the program featured "Child of Love" by one of my favorite groups, We The Kingdom.

Monday, January 11, 2021

New Music

Happy Monday, we are starting to see a few new videos now that the holiday season is behind us. First is from the alternative-pop duo Apollo LTD. Bandmates Jordan Phillips and Adam Stark have learned to keep a steady perspective during unstable times. Apollo LTD and Social Club Misfits members come together again, this time as animated characters in the “Good Day” video that premiered last week.

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Last week, breakout Contemporary Christian/Country band We The Kingdom ​(​Ed Cash, Scott Cash, Franni Rae Cash, Martin Cash and Andrew Bergthold) released the video for "Take Me On A Ride."


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Next we have a new release by singer/songwriter JJ Heller.  Heller began releasing monthly singles in April 2017 that together have amassed over 55 million combined streams to date (through August 2020). The songstress will continue to announce a brand-new song on the first Friday of each month. Last Friday's new song is titled "I Believe In You".


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Finally,  Christian singer-songwriter Simon Khorolskiy has released a new Country single based on Isaiah 6:1-8, the Scriptures that conclude with Isaiah's famous call: "Here am I, send me."    

Simon comes from a Russian Christian family that immigrated to the U.S. when he was two years old. His music ministry began in 2016, primarily serving the Russian-speaking community in America, but soon included enthusiastic fans from diverse nations around the globe who often say that although they don’t understand Russian, they still enjoy--and are inspired to worship God through--his music. English subtitles and translations are provided on YouTube.

His new single launched a couple weeks ago, "Holy Is the Lord" is Simon's original composition using lyrics straight from the King James Bible, yet surpassingly modern. You will soon be singing along, quoting this extraordinary passage. I'm not quite sure how I feel about this song, but it is oddly appealing and I find myself listening to it repeatedly.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Not A Flashback Friday

Today I am not presenting a flashback on a CCM artist, but kind of doing a flashback to a song. This is not a CCM song, but rather a famous gospel song that could be considered a hymn.  In 1973, Bill and Gloria Gather wrote and released "The Church Triumphant." 

Here is a live performance by the Gaither Trio from 1991 at the Reader's Choice Awards...


So what is the significance of presenting this song? Well, as it was written in 2 Corinthians 5:17 "The old has gone, the new is here!"... Let me share the words of Michael W. Smith:
The Covid 19 pandemic has taken its toll on all areas of society and the church is no exception. The vital routines and rituals of worship and fellowship—everything from “passing the plate” to potluck dinners—have been embargoed by the virus. For many who live alone, the church has been a reliable place of connecting with others. The pandemic has only compounded their loneliness.

Through all of the adversity of 2020, and its impact on the church, God still has a people. He has always had a people. Whether they occupy the pew or the pulpit, our sense as Christian and Gospel artists is they could really use a rallying cry to lift their spirits and build resolve to be the people of God. As many churches are starting to re-open their doors to in-person worship, we think the timing could not be better.

The very nature of pastoring is intimate and personal – the opposite of social distancing. Many pastors are very discouraged, lonely, and, according to various reports many have left the pastorate while others are on the verge of doing so.

In the early 1970’s, we saw firsthand how a song titled, "The Church Triumphant," brought millions to their feet as they were reminded of God’s faithfulness to build His church irrespective of the circumstances of the day, or the whims of the age. It is our desire that we revive this powerful song as an anthem for the church as she gathers once again in sanctuaries and screens across the US and beyond.
Christ’s church has always faced difficulty with hope and resolve. And often with a song. To encourage God’s people, especially Pastors and Leaders, some of the most respected recording artists in Christian music have come together to offer this re-imagined anthem for 2021. Many artists have joined with Michael to sing this new anthem. 


Church Triumphant 2021 debuts Friday, January 8 on TBN (8, 9, 10, 11pm Eastern).  This one-hour special debuts the Church Triumphant video, featuring Mandisa, Toby Mac, Mac Powell (formerly of Third Day), Francesca Battistelli, Joel Smallbone (of for King & Country), Natalie Grant, Michael Tate (of DC Talk & Newboys fame), Sandi Patty, Gaither Vocal Band, and many more joining with Michael W. Smith. The song will be available on YouTube to share beginning Sunday, January 10th. Find out more info on the Church Triumphant website.


After a year like this, we need something reminding all of God’s family that His Church is alive and well and I am anxious to hear how this song is being renewed.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Kindness & Peace

Last night, Sidewalk Prophets released their song "The Comment Section" which had previously only been seen as part of their live concerts. In light of yesterday's events they decided to release this video. This is what they have to say in the email that they sent...

Be kind at all times. This is a song about all about kindness and the lack thereof. Kindness seems so small. It’s a word we push aside in favor of words that are full of sound and fury, but signify little to nothing. But, kindness is powerful, defiant and strong. I’d argue that it takes more effort, more strength, and more power to be kind in the face of opposition than to plunge head first into battle. So when you awake tomorrow and look back on the news of today, I hope you simply do just this one thing:

Be kind.
Be kind when no one is looking.
Be kind when the world is watching.|
Be kind when you have no idea what to do.
Be kind even when you know you’re right and they’re wrong.
Be kind when it’s free and easy.
Be kind when it costs you everything.
Be kind behind your mask, the one you wear today.
Be kind behind your mask, the one you’ve worn for years.
Be kind to the point that the world points and laughs and calls you names that hurt.
And then, be kind to those that call you those names.
Be kind when you see their tune change.
Be kind even when you think they will never change.
And never forget the 3 keys to ultimate success
As Mr. Fred Rogers once softly, sagely said,
“Be kind, be kind, be kind.”

Be kind unto another, tender-hearted forgiving one another, just as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you” - Epehisians 4:32 

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Also,  Steven Curtis Chapman released a new song last night in response to the day's events, "A Desperate Benediction.". In his own words...

Words can’t describe the sadness that I feel as I watch the events currently unfolding in our country. I’m so heavy hearted at the brokenness and division that we are witnessing and experiencing in our world today, and I am processing in the way most natural to me as a singer-songwriter: with a song. I actually started writing this song about a year ago with my brilliant songwriter friend Tom Douglas, but have been waiting for the right time to share it, and I feel like now is that time. Now more than ever before, it seems like the soul of our world (& our nation) is aching, longing and desperate for PEACE. Whoever & wherever we are, I’m convinced that at our core we are all brothers and sisters crying out for the same thing, what the bible calls “shalom”... a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness. And ultimately, I believe that true peace...the peace that transcends all understanding and guards our hearts and minds...comes from the Prince of peace, Jesus Christ. So it is with a heavy yet hopeful heart that I share this new song with you...as a prayer...a cry...a Desperate Benediction for all of us....praying for peace, and praying that it starts with me, with you, with each of us.

(Thank you to my son Caleb and daughter-in-law Jillian for joining me on this song.)

Peace be with you,
scc 

Lyrics:
Peace on the mountain peace in the valley
Peace on the bulls on wallstreet and the lost sheep in the alley
Peace on the painted desert down the Mississippi river
Peace on the takers and peace to all the givers
Peace in the blessing and the curse
Oh let there be peace on earth
Oh let there be peace on earth

Peace on the lovers peace on the leavers
Peace on the doubters and peace on the true believers
The star in the spotlight…the fearful in the shadows
The divers in the deep end and drowners in the shallows
For all I’m not and for all it’s worth
Oh let there be peace on earth
Oh let there be peace on earth

Peace on the poor man peace on the king                                   
The radio flyers and the broken wings
Let there be peace let there be peace on
The babies being born and the roses on the grave
The losers the winners the fearful and the brave
We’re all brothers and sisters crying to the Father for

Peace on earth Peace on earth
Oh let there be peace on earth
Oh let there be peace on earth
And let it start with me
Oh let it start with me


I believe that kindness and peace are two things we should all be praying for!

A Prayer For Our Country

America is hurting. Pandemics, racial inequalities, job loss, and political division have caused great suffering. We are called to be salt and light on the earth. As Christians, we can begin healing our land through prayer and action. Let us come together not just by words but a faith that produces works. The love and grace of God can begin turning the tide of America.

Dear God,

We look to You and to You, only, Lord. Help us make wise decisions that move our country in the right direction. Help us to do our part in praying and in staying with what we know is right according to the truth of Your Word. Teach us to make our actions count and our words matter, and line them both up to Your sense of rightness, not ours. Guide us with Your eye; grip us with Your strong arm; teach us what we need to know to make our lives - and our nation - count for you.

Make us a great nation, yes. But more than that, make us good, Lord, with a heartbeat that wants every person of every creed and color to know Your love, Your goodness, and Your worth. Make us wise as serpents, but gentle as doves. Turn our fears to faith, as we look to You and You alone for the future of our country. Give us God-confidence that no matter what happens, we will believe You are not only in control, but that You know exactly what is needed to accomplish Your purpose. Help us not to second-guess Your moves, but to move at Your command, always without hesitation.

Forgive us for wanting our own way and making our own paths—often the ones paved with least resistance. Forgive us for fence-walking, or for ignoring completely the truths that can so easily set us free. Deliver us from mindless quarrels and destinations that lead us nowhere, but away from You. Free us from divisiveness, and melt our hardened hearts to love, not hate, and to heal, not debate.

We pray that you would unify your people for the glory of your Name that all who call themselves Christians would rise up, believing your great Truth. Wake us up Lord! Remind us to live aware, to redeem the time, to listen to your words, to be willing to make a difference in this land. We pray for all those in authority, that you would give them your wisdom and discernment as they lead. 

We need, You, God. Oh, how we need You! You have exercised nothing but faithfulness and fairness in Your treatment of our country, even when we've turned our back on You and forgotten Your goodness to us. Your discipline at times is hard, but You are just. Your purpose is always to draw us close to You, to bless us, and to make us a great nation who honors You. You are a good, good, Father—and Your love for us has endured.

Amen.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Free Livestream Event with Dave Ramsey

 If you are fond of Dave Ramsey you will not want to miss this event...

It’s Time for a Reset
Free Livestream Event

Wow . . . 2020 sucked, didn't it? But we made it to the other side, and now it's time for a clean slate. This year can be different, and your fresh start begins at Reset Live—a free livestream event on January 12.

Tune in for motivation, encouragement and the kick-start you need in order to say goodbye to money stress—for good. Dave Ramsey, Chris Hogan, Rachel Cruze and Craig Groeschel will show you our proven money plan, so you can gain the security and freedom you've always wanted. 


Go HERE to RSVP to see this livestream event.

If you are not familiar with Dave Ramsey and his "no-nonsense" approach to life and financial security here is a recent show talking about America post election...

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

New Music Releases

A couple weeks ago, Steven McWhirter released the video for "Heavy Load" from The Choir Sessions Album. This album is a kingdom collaboration of culture and creativity, feat. Jason Clayborn and The Atmosphere Changers. In a time where the world and the Bride are more fragmented than ever, we are pressing into the longing of God for His children to be one (John 17:20-21). It’s the marrying of worship and gospel choir music that releases a new sound. 

Some great music on this album like "Come Jesus Come", "Oh Your Blood", and "Stand Up" and the versions really bring a gospel feel to the music.


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I don't talk about many gospel groups here, but this group reminds me of the classic sound of the Statler Bros. Redeemed Quartet is a group from Indiana singing country-styled southern gospel. Raised on traditional gospel music and Biblical values, the 4 best friends (who are actually 2 sets of brothers) began their work in the hills of Southern Indiana as teenagers. From their start in 2014, their mission has been to be a light in the darkness and lift the weary traveler, as well as showcase the tight blend of 4-part harmony that has come to define the traditional male quartet. Internet recognition grew in 2015 after posting a simple video of their performance of the classic “Just A Little Talk With Jesus”.

In 2021 they will be releasing an album titled Timeless Classics.  Here is a just released song from the upcoming album, "Thank You Lord, For Your Blessings On Me"...


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Ben Rector who gave us "The Thanksgiving Song" in November, now has a new song called "A Song For 2021". 

In his own words:
This verse and chorus hit me late last night out of nowhere. This year has been the strangest year I can imagine, for everybody and for me specifically (having the twins, my job suddenly just grinding to a halt). In the midst of a lot of sadness and loss in the world it has somehow been one of the most formative years of my life, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. I think I imagined that by the time I had kids music would have burned me out, but somehow in being home I’ve really fallen in love with it again and feel deep peace and excitement at the same time. Here’s to putting 2020 behind us and believing that the best is yet to come. 

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Finally, Passion continued their tradition of ringing in the new year in a spirit of worship and with some new music. The Passion 2021 Conference was held virtually this year and was free to youth and adults alike. (You can still sign up and re-watch Passion 2021 HERE.) Pasion 2021 also featured the debut live performance of two new songs from Passion Music titled "Breakthrough Miracle Power" and "You Are The Lord." Passion Music shared, "these two songs felt like a stake in the ground for us declaring who God is and that there is hope that He is always working. We couldn't leave Passion 2021 without sharing them with you."


Monday, January 4, 2021

COVID Vaccine News

Still have questions about the COVID 19 vaccine? Here are some helpful answers to questions you may be having, or questions that people in your life maybe be asking. Know that the developments around the vaccines change daily, especially with the different stages of approval, distribution and availability. 

1. The safety of COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority.
The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. While the vaccine was developed faster than normal, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would not have granted approval if it wasn’t as safe as other vaccines that may have taken longer to develop.

2. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you.
Two doses are needed. You need two doses of the currently available COVID-19 vaccine. A second shot three weeks after your first shot is necessary in order for you to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer against this serious disease.

3. When and where will I get the vaccine?
Right now, the COVID-19 vaccine is being offered to healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. We expect essential workers to be in the next phase. Hormel Foods will be working with local and state healthcare officials on vaccine availability and will let you know about timing as soon as we know. The supply will increase in the weeks and months to come. It is expected that anyone who wants to get a vaccine will be able to get one by summer. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as large enough quantities are available. Once the vaccine is widely available, the plan is to have several thousand vaccination providers offering COVID-19 vaccines in doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals and federally qualified health centers.

4. What about side effects?
After COVID-19 vaccination, you may have some side effects. This is a normal sign that your body is building protection and the vaccine is working! The side effects from COVID-19 vaccination may vary from a sore arm to mild flu-like symptoms. Nothing that we can’t handle!

5. How much will it cost?
Cost is not an obstacle to getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost.

6. Is there only one vaccine available?
Currently, there are two vaccines that have been authorized for use. The vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are currently being used. Both offer excellent results. If more COVID-19 vaccines are authorized or approved by the FDA, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will quickly hold public meetings to review all available data about eachvaccine and make recommendations for their use in the United States.

7. Will we be able to get back to normal after the vaccine is widely available?
COVID-19 vaccines are one of many important tools to help us stop this pandemic. It’s important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds and wash your hands often.

8. Should everyone get the vaccine?
All people who are able to do so should get the COVID-19 vaccine. We know that the best way to get back to normal is to take the vaccine so the spread of COVID-19 can be stopped. Only through large numbers of people being vaccinated can we accomplish eliminating the virus from our communities. Additionally, while some people have mild symptoms from COVID-19, others have more severe reactions, including serious long-term health issues and even death. People don’t know how COVID-19 will affect their bodies until they get it. The vaccine is the top defense to keep you and your family safe.

9. If I’ve had COVID-19, can I get the vaccination?
Yes. Health officials recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccination, even if you’ve previously had COVID-19, but people should wait until they are no longer infectious to get the vaccination.

10. What about children?
Currently the vaccine is approved for persons aged 16 years or older for the prevention of COVID-19 infection. Studies are underway for children under the age of 16.


Still looking for more information? Check out this list of myths about the vaccine and the debunking answers from the Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/featured-topic/covid-19-vaccine-myths-debunked. Here are a couple of examples...

Myth: The current vaccines embed a tracking mechanism or microchip into the body. 
Fact: This is absolutely false. In order to track vaccine doses, there is technology on the packaging that ensures a couple of things – that it is the real vaccine and not counterfeit and it helps the health care system know how many doses have been given. COVID-19 vaccine syringes could contain RFID microchips on labels, but they wouldn’t be injected into the individual that receives the vaccine. The chip is not an injectable device but more like a barcode on a food item. The chip transmits information, it does not gather any. The chip is located on the outside of the container holding the vaccine.

Myth: I already had COVID-19 and recovered, so I don't need to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it's available.
Fact: There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again. This is called natural immunity. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed to better understand this. Mayo Clinic recommends getting the COVID-19 vaccine, even if you’ve had COVID-19 previously. However, those that had COVID-19 should delay vaccination until about 90 days from diagnosis. People should not get vaccinated if in quarantine after exposure or if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Flashback Friday

A new year and a new Flashback Friday. This week we are traveling way back to the 70's to feature the group, 2nd Chapter of Acts. This group was one of the pioneers of the Jesus music genre, later to be called contemporary Christian music.  2nd Chapter of Acts was an early contemporary Christian music group composed of sisters Annie Herring and Nelly Greisen and brother Matthew Ward. They began performing in 1973 and enjoyed their period of greatest success during the 1970s. The group disbanded in 1988.

The 2nd Chapter of Acts began as a result of the trio singing at home together as Annie played the piano. Following the death of their parents (Elizabeth in 1968 and Walter Ward in 1970), Nelly and Matthew, still minors, moved in with their older sister, Annie, and her husband, recording engineer and producer, Buck Herring. Annie was a self-taught singer and songwriter who composed and played her songs around the family piano. Her brother and sister would often join in as she played, and eventually they developed extremely tight and intricate harmonies.

They started singing for local coffee houses and small gatherings, then gained the notice of Pat Boone who arranged a contract to record and release two singles with MGM, "Jesus Is" (1972) and "I'm So Happy" (1973). The fledgling trio also came to the attention of 1960s folk singer Barry McGuire, who had recently become a Christian and was preparing to record his first Christian music album, produced by Buck Herring. The siblings provided background vocals for Seeds and McGuire's 1974 follow-up Lighten Up.

The trio released their debut album, With Footnotes, in 1974. This album featured "Easter Song" which would become a signature piece for the group and has been recorded by many other artists since. This is certainly their most recognized and remembered song.


The group released 15 albums between 1979 and 1989. Except for two sabbatical years in 1976 and 1983, 2nd Chapter of Acts toured until 1988. Their final concert was in Houston, Texas on August 12 of that year. 2nd Chapter was recognized by the Gospel Music Association in 1999 by their induction into its Gospel Music Hall of Fame.