Thinking Out Loud

April 3, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Not new, but too good just to link; you have to watch this…

  • Edith Shaeffer, wife of the late Christian philosopher Francis Shaeffer, has died at age 98
  • A member of The Church on the Way in Valencia,CA — and grandson of Jack Hayford, the church’s founder — is now back home uninjured after being kidnapped last week in Mexico.
  • Singer Carrie Underwood and NHL hockey player Mike Fisher discuss their shared faith in Jesus.
  • Know the song “‘Tis a Gift To Be Simple”?  Terry Mattingly says that definitely applies to the new Pope.
  • Yes the Easter story really happened in a real place, and if you want, you can even get the GPS coordinates.
  • And did they play that “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a-Coming” video at your church this week? Here’s the text for all you aspiring preachers to give it your best shot.
  • And don’t miss this story about church pyrotechnics gone awry. This could have ended very badly.
  • Also at Parchment Pen: Did the author of the Gospel of Mark sleep in the nude?  The public wants to know.
  • Sandy Patti is headlining at Carnegie Hall with the Manhattan Pops Orchestra and the pianist formerly (and still) known simply as Dino.
  • For 32 years, Rick Warren said ‘no’ to the idea of doing a radio show. But then a year ago
  • A friend of ours, Rick Webster, pastor of The Third Space church in Peterborough has written Introducing Jesus — but he doesn’t use the word pastor, preferring Spiritual Wilderness Guide and Community Architect. We don’t normally do this here, but you can order the book online
  • From the artist who brought us the Reimagine song, a cover of Larry Norman’s UFO song.
  • Canadian author and blogger Sheila Wray-Gregoire says that if you are concerned for someone, you need to ask yourself three questions before you say anything.
  • Another Elevation Church high-tech year end summary. Does your church’s annual report look like this?
  • Maybe some cartoonists can illustrate complex issues, but Dave Walker finds himself somewhat lost for ideas in Uganda
  • Okay, Doug Wilson, curiosity was killing me when you wrote Good Friday and the Death of Same Sex Envy. (And then he also discusses pattern recognition, too.)
  • Shauna Niequist is the wife of a Christian musician and daughter of a world famous pastor. And a published author.  But she still deals with jealousy.
  • Money Where Your Mouth Is Department: Michael Kelley offers us two things we can learn from the Veronica Mars movie campaign on Kickstarter.
  • How about another 30-or-so links, all on the subject of apologetics? And don’t miss the first comment. 
  • Blog flashback — one year ago: James MacDonald’s holiness test.
  • The latest addition to our “lost song” collection at YouTube is this original version of God and Man at Table by Craig Smith. 
  • And I didn’t realize until today how much this song and this song sound alike. Guess some classic gospel music or CCM just flies under the copyright radar.

Top Bible Sales 2012

March 6, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Jesus is the Light of the World

Regular readers will know this already, but I’ve never quite come out and said it: I find it somewhat snobbish when bloggers publish link lists where anything older than 2-3 days is considered obsolete. A true link sleuth will unearth some great material and won’t be concerned if the post is dated 30 days ago. If it was true then…

  • Essay of the week: Church Planting in Montreal. A somewhat typical couple has been living together for ten years but has never gotten close to having any kind of spiritual discussion. And that’s just one challenge. The Quebecois version of Hybels’ “unchurched Harry” is quite different from “Harry” in the rest of North America. 
  • Runner up: Remember that feeling when you were young and you came home from school only to find nobody home and you immediately thought everybody had been raptured?  Well, it happens to not-so-young college students, too.
  • Okay, so that video about how to write a worship song wasn’t the first time Jordan at BlimeyCow waded into Christian music criticism. Or church camp. And different types of churches
  • While everyone else on Sunday night was watching The Bible miniseries on History, one blogger was putting the final period on his review even as the credits rolled. I guess that way you get to say, “First!”  (The cable channel show beat all the big networks in the ratings.)
  • If you know people whose Christian faith is characterized by what they are against, may I suggest you copy and paste this article and email it to them.
  • For people who don’t know how to use a “table of contents” in a book, The Alpha Bible presents the Bible books in… well you know.
  • Given the success of The Book of Mormon, a Broadway production by The Foursquare Church denomination on the life of Aimee Semple McPherson probably seemed like a good idea at the time
  • The idea of gospel tracts probably seems somewhat archaic to most readers here, but the concision of these short presentations actual suits present attention spans. Now 31 Good News tracts are available on audio.  
  • Matt Hafer comes out of church leadership hibernation with five ways for pastors to tell if people are truly on board.
  • I know I often link you over to Christianity 201, but I really want you all, if nothing else, to catch this video.
  • In some ways connected to a link we had here last week, a Christianity Today women’s blog suggests a little bit of Christianese is OK.
  • As someone whose entire wardrobe was purchased at Goodwill and Salvation Army stores, this is scary: Pat Robertson allows the possibility that those shirts and sweaters could have demonic spirits attached. (That’s why Pat buys professionally tailored suits, I guess.)
  • Once we know the name of the new Pope, the new Pope has to choose a name. Past Pope picks included these. (You remember Pope Urban, right?) 
  • How is it possible that this great song by the Wheaton College Gospel Choir has had less than 2,500 views in two years?  If this don’t bring a smile to your face, your mouth is broken. Watch, copy the link and share.
  • Jon Acuff finds himself in a prayer meeting with someone who gives a whole new meaning to the phrase too much information
  • If you missed it January, Shaun Groves shares songwriting secrets for worship composers. But ultimately, “I think worship writers have parted with standard songwriting practices because they’re creating with the live experience in mind. So their priorities are much different from those of a traditional songwriter.”
  • The people at Thomas Nelson flatly refused us a review copy of this, but I’ll be nice and tell you about it anyway. Jesus: A Theography is a new book by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola combining theology and biography with –[free review time expired]
  • …Mind you, that was already better than this guy’s review. “After a while, I finally put the book down and said enough.” (When you accept a free book you do agree to finish reading it.)
  • Remember Anne Jackson? Well she’s still kicking around, still writing, and apparently this Friday is a special day
  • Nadia Bolz-Weber, the Lutheran with attitude, shares her struggle preparing to preach on The Parable of the Vineyard. (Open the audio link in a new tab, then click back to follow the text; the whole sermon is about ten minutes.) Actual quote: “…you’d think that I’d totally remember a parable where poop is mentioned.”
  • Meanwhile Steve McCoy’s kids, age 12 and 14, are taking sermon notes while he preaches.
  • On our fifth birthday, we introduced you to Derek the Cleric. We had a tough time that day choosing between two cartoons and thought we’d stretch the written permission we received to do just one more.

Derek The Cleric - Powerpoint

January 23, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Christmas production at  First Baptist Church in Curitiba, Brazil as seen at Church Stage Design Blog.

Christmas production at First Baptist Church in Curitiba, Brazil as seen at Church Stage Design Ideas Blog. That’s one huge choir.

It all begins with a design template that looks like this.

It all begins with a design template that looks like this.

Lloyd the Llink Llist Llama Crashes the Party Exactly One Year After His First Visit Here

Lloyd the Llink Llist Llama crashes the party exactly one year after his first visit here

For the last couple of weeks there has been a weekend link list here. Some of the most interesting articles this month have been listed in those two editions.  So be sure to check them out.

  • I never know for sure when I check out new blogs if the writer is on our side or not, especially when the first post I see looks like this one at Loon Watchman.
  • Deans at other schools are fighting the possibility of accreditation for what would be Canada’s first Christian law school at Trinity Western. 
  • Why swear an oath on one Bible when you can swear an oath on two?  A writer at Think Christian notes: “What I like about these [Bible] selections is the way they point to public and private figures who influence or inspire President Obama, and whose faith probably all shape the way he approaches his faith and his work.”
  • You’ve heard of the dog who shows up for daily for a church service its late owner regularly attended. If not Fr. Z blogs the story, but notes that the dog’s appearance at the altar risks affecting the church’s ‘sacral character.’ 
  • Sometimes it’s hard to become a Christian knowing that, if you do, someone is going to starve to death. Here’s a dilemma for missiologists.
  • Don’t miss this one: J. R. Briggs gets an inspiring lesson on grace when he has to ask his 6-year-old son for forgiveness.
  • Tyler Braun notes that summing up the gospel as “Jesus Loves Me” is too me-centered, unless we include spreading that love as part of the gospel mandate. 
  • Zac Hicks has an interesting article about the role of Worship Pastor as Emotional Shepherd and the dangers of manipulating the congregation.
  • A central Pennsylvania Wesleyan church officially opens a $4M expansion including a fitness center, jungle gym, café restaurant and Christian bookstore.
  • So what exactly does it mean when you find a dead bird on the steps leading to your workplace?  Especially when you’re looking for more than, ““A dead bird on the step means either a cat loves you and has brought you an offering of food, or it means a bird flew into the window/door and killed itself…” 
  • By now you’ve probably had occasion to look up a favorite TV show, movie or actor at IBDb, but did you now there’s now a Christian Film Data Base (CFDb)? The site also has a blog that’s updated daily with reviews and interviews.
  • I’m writing this listening to an at least five year old song by Starfield – Reign In Us. Just clicked replay for the fourth time. 
  • And news last week that Jason Dunn from Hawk Nelson has a solo album releasing in May.
  • Meanwhile at American Idol auditions in Chicago Curtis Finch, Jr. impresses the judges with a brief gospel performance.
  • For church leaders and pastors, Dave Kraft’s website, Leadership from the Heart is must reading. Here’s a piece outlining three temptations that can undo you and your leadership
  • And here’s more good leadership advice from 9Marks on counseling people who haven’t crossed the line of faith.
  • Looking for a career in ministry? Check out ChurchJobs.tv
  • I suspect that Christian bands like Sidewalk Prophets love it when bloggers take one of their songs and use it as springboard for a devotional piece; like the writer at Journey of a God-Follower does with their song, He Loves Us Anyway.
  • Not So 31 is the name of a blog based on a reference to “the Proverbs 31 woman.” She does a lot of book reviews and book excerpts in particular, including some recent ones by Steven Furtick and Chris and Kerry Shook.
  • We linked to this picture — one of my favorite images of 2012 — late last year but never included it. Until today.  It was taken by Andreas Solaro for the Getty wire service and is captioned: Pope Benedict XVI caresses a lion cub as thousands of participants in the “Pilgrimage to Rome” festival – circus professionals, carnival people, street artists, pavement artists, bands and folk groups – gather at the Vatican on Dec. 1, 2012.  We think the Pope should have a few kittycats running around the Vatican the way the Queen has her Corgis at Buckingham.

Pope Benedict XVI - With Very Large Cat

November 14, 2012

Wednesday Link List

These are some of the pages my browser history tells me I visited…

  • Married? So what about other opposite sex friendships? Here’s an answer you may or may not like. Check out the fifth video in this collection at Parchment and Pen. And the other videos, too.
  • An update from Heaven is for Real co-author and dad Todd Burpo on how life has changed, how it’s the same, and the movie version of the book.  
  • A longtime Baptist minister was beaten to death inside his church in suburban Fort Worth, Texas.
  • Rachel Held Evans responds — at length — to Kathy Keller in particular and others in general on accurate Biblical interpretation as it affects her controversial new book. 
  • Martyr’s Prayer is a CD that is also available as a live concert featuring the music of Michael Glen Bell and Duane W. H. Arnold with guests, Phil Keaggy, Glenn Kaiser, Jennifer Knapp, Randy Stonehill, Kemper Crabb, Margaret Becker and others. Learn more here.
  • The picture at right represents my wife’s contribution to this week’s links. Click the image for source.
  • The link you’ll be forwarding to your friends: Someone takes a hidden camera inside Mormon Temple rituals.
  • Go deep: How the belief in annhiliationism diminishes the gospel message.
  • Bookmark this for later: Tyler Braun offers ten things to say to people who are mourning.
  • Another new video from Worship House Media: Check out every Christian cliché you’ve ever heard at Stuff Christians Say..
  • Tony Jones considers Shane Hipps a friend, so his brief review of Selling Water By The River is somewhat telling.
  • Tobymac opener Jamie Grace may be the world’s only musician with Tourette syndrome, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, echolalia, anxiety disorder — and a Grammy nomination. Read the interview.
  • Christianity Today is re-launching the Today’s Christian Woman brand.
  • Congratulations to Canada’s oldest gospel choir, The Toronto Mass Choir, on 25 years of making a joyful noise.
  • A year ago we visited The Likeable Bible — all your favorite verses to be sure — and a year later it’s still online.
  • Retro link to September: John Ortberg looks at the unparalleled life of Jesus in an excerpt from Who Is This Man?

If you’re a Wednesday-only visitor here, be sure to check out the Weekend Link List from Saturday.

March 28, 2012

Wednesday Link List

  • Okay, so the guy who sold you the insurance coverage that looks after your pet dog or cat after the rapture wasn’t actually planning on doing anything after you vacated the planet.  Bart Centre, who lives in New Hampshire, came clean after the state Insurance Department delivered a subpoena because he appeared to be engaged in “unauthorized business of insurance” through his Eternal Earth-Bound Pets business. Just don’t tell Fido and Fluffy.
  • Equally ridiculous is the story where a Pentecostal church staged a fake raid on its youth group — to illustrate the conditions faced by persecuted church people  in the third world — and now face felony charges.  Be sure to catch the video where the pastor states he would do it again.
  • Jamie Wright may call herself “the very worst missionary;” but when it comes to the liabilities of short term mission projects, she really gets it. The “Hugs for Jesus” people who showed up in her part of the world had no clue what to do if anyone wanted follow-up. In baseball, a connection of bat and ball without follow-through is called a ‘bunt.’ Short term missionaries are bunting where they could be hitting home runs.
  • Not a Christian website, but does it count if a Christian told me about it?  Just kidding; anyway, enjoy Ten Lessons Parents Could Learn from the Pilgrims at NetNanny.
  • Got 36 minutes to hear a great sermon? I’ve dropped by Joe Boyd’s blog before but never heard him preach; but the idea of Jesus being blind got me curious. When was Jesus ever blind; literally or figuratively? This was videoed while he guested at another church, and his style is somewhat laid back but the content is excellent.
  • Your Sunday morning service was a communion service.  And after that there was a fellowship lunch.  Which one was closer to being the real sacrament?  Before you get nervous about that question, read what Deacon Hall has to say.
  • At age 103, Rev. Grover C. Simpson, pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Marked Tree, Arkansas is thinking it might be time to consider retirement. Well, closer to 103½ actually.
  • Brandon Hatmaker on serving the poor: “I’d consider it more a success if I spent an hour with a homeless guy and he never mentioned church, what he does wrong, or what he doesn’t do right. I know, sounds weird. But, I’d rather him talk about his story, his family, what happened that landed him on the streets. That would be an indicator to me that he’s not performing for me. And that maybe, just maybe, I really cared about his story. And that just possibly, my God might care as well.” Read more.
  • The post at Rightly Dividing is really short, but the comments add a lot of value to the question: Does anyone die “prematurely?” Does anyone die “before their time?”
  • Occam’s razor is not the latest personal care product for men. Maybe this will help. Anyway, at Glenn Peoples blog, loved this line: “…that this was one of those instances where a scientist had gone crashing headlong through a philosophical issue and made a bit of a hash of it.”
  • Two of the cathedrals destroyed in New Zealand’s earthquake may not have survived structurally, but according to one writer, “Increasingly, they had morphed into tourist temples…They were increasingly irrelevant to ordinary Cantabrians as vital centres of worship.”
  • As if we didn’t exhaust this topic yesterday, there’s always the website devoted to the forthcoming movie, Jesus Don’t Let Me Die Before I’ve Had Sex. The movie which just raise $32K in its Kickstarter campaign, will be “a feature-length documentary examining the teachings of the evangelical church on sex and exploring the undercurrent of idealism that leaves many lay members feeling frustrated and confused.”
  • Speaking of edgy movies, some people have seen the Blue Like Jazz movie already and have posted reviews; a lengthy review by Mike Cosper and a shorter one by Tiffany Owens at World Magazine.
  • And speaking of sex, Joy Eggerichs is the daughter of Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs who wrote the huge marriage book, Love and Respect. She blogs at Love And Respect Now, and offers this explanation as to why a rapidly growing number of women are watching porn.
  • No specific link, but if you head over to Timmy Brister’s blog, you should be able to catch the letter “Z” as he concludes his “Gospel Alphabet” series.
  • In Tennessee, when they say “community hymn sing,” it involves Michael W. Smith, Randy Travis, Committed, Marcia Ware, a 150-voice choir and full symphony orchestra. But you get to sing along with the projected lyrics.
  • If you go to Andy Stanley’s church, North Point Community, you know the worship time resembles a rock concert; hence a warning in your church bulletin: “This service contains flashing lights which may cause problems for people with photosensitive epilepsy.”  (Warning from me: .pdf file takes awhile to load.)
  • Can’t get enough links? There’s always Brian D.’s blog.
  • Today’s closing cartoon-type-thing is from Naked Pastor. David’s blog may seem irreverent at times, but tell me this is any different from what’s going on in many of the Psalms.

 

March 8, 2011

Swimming with the Dolphins

This past weekend I fulfilled a lifelong dream and participated in the extreme sport of church music, the gospel choir experience. The event was the 7th annual Power Up Conference presented by The Toronto Mass Choir (TMC). There were workshops and rehearsals culminating with an opportunity to perform in concert with TMC doing songs we had only begun to learn 48 hours earlier.

Basically, we’re talking about an opportunity for lily white folks like me to learn to how to sing and move their hips back and forth at the same time, which, if you know me, is a much greater task than say, sending a man to the moon and back.  In a era where saying “church music” implies the modern worship of Paul Baloche, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Graham Kendrick, Jeremy Camp, David Crowder, etc., with which 90% or more of us are familiar; this represents and entirely different genre.

The choir was started by Karen Burke, a woman who was trained in classical music but had a dream 23 years ago to bring the gospel choir sound to Toronto. The choir has been on a number of overseas tours and won a Juno Award in 2003 — the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy Awards — for best Gospel album.  You can read more of the choir’s history here.

Today, among her many activities, she is an associate professor of gospel music at Toronto’s York University, where, not so coincidentally, she also directs the York University Gospel Choir.  She recently presented, for the third year,  another weekend of the stage show, The Evolution of Gospel Music.  You can read more about Karen Burke here.

That said, I don’t think any biography would do her justice.  This is a unique individual who is a gift from God to the music community in Toronto.

So how can I describe this weekend?

First of all, Gospel music isn’t so much about musical style as it is about attitude.  The director’s passion and infectious joy quickly spreads.  My wife did this conference with some friends a year earlier, and the first thing she said when she returned was to comment about how positive the director and everyone else was.  Not about the songs.  Not about the band (which really cooks). Not about the rehearsal technique.

In Gospel choirs there are only three parts: Soprano, Alto, and Tenor.  Being more of a baritone combined with age and eventually exhaustion to produce some unintended results, but more on that later.

All of the parts are learned by rote, not note.  There is no printed music handed out.  Not even to the band members.  We were given lyrics sheets, but were not to use these at the final concert.  There was a fair amount to memorize in a short time.

Time was the one thing that we didn’t have, but instead of launching into each of three rehearsal sessions with wild abandon, Karen chose instead to take some time to explain the spiritual foundation for each song.  She told us to sing “with our faces and with our eyes.”  It’s all about communicating a message to the audience.

But you can’t do that and not be affected by it yourself.  My wife and I attended a concert years ago by a large American gospel choir, and so I’ve known the energy that this music conveys.  In the course of producing a radio show, I amassed a collection of Christian vinyl albums of all kinds, including a fairly large — by Canadian standards — selection of mass choir music.  Still, nothing prepared me for the transformation of actually singing the material; having the lyrics embedded in your mind and soul.

Twenty four hours later the songs — especially the lyrics — are still looping in my head.

There were some major challenges for me with this event.  The first was the range of the music.  The first day of the conference started with seminars and then after supper we practiced until 10:30 PM.  I felt I had damaged my vocal cords singing in a range to which I’m not accustomed.

We got checked into our hotel around 11:30 and had to be on the road by 8:00 the next morning.  I’ve said this before, but music ministry in the modern church is increasingly a young man’s game.  This was a workout that left me exhausted, which I would pay for later.

Then there’s the challenge of lyrical associations.   When we sang,

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;

Everything within me wanted to sing,

The righteous run into it and they are safe;

Instead of the correct line which was,

Just call on His name you’ll have the victory.

Then there was the problem of wanting to position myself next to someone who I could ‘lean on’ musically.  While there were a few TMC people scattered around the group, a lot of the people where I was seated were neophytes like me, some of whom with decidedly less musical training, and some actually hampered by extensive classical choral training.

And then there was the challenge of distractions.  There’s an obvious spiritual analogy here:  Keep your eyes on the conductor and you won’t get lost.  But what do you do when, as in the dress rehearsal, a baby carriage starts rolling backwards down the center aisle toward the communion table?  The amount of concentration and focus needed to sing this style is truly more than you might imagine.

…My greatest fear was screwing up in the concert, and I was not to be disappointed; although the way it happened was unforeseen.  I figured I might blurt out a line in an inappropriate place or sing a note completely off pitch.  Instead, it happened on the final note of the third of four songs, an arrangement of the hymn Jesus Saves.

We were supposed to hold the note for about four beats and somewhere between beat two and beat three, my voice just gave out.  Between the lateness of the hour (it was closing in on 10:00 PM when the Power Up group combined with TMC), lack of food (we hadn’t eaten since noon and were subsisting on the sugar in fruit candies), or just the formula of age-plus-exhaustion; I ran out of air on that last high note and instead of just fading out, my pitch dropped not unlike the Doppler affect one hears when a truck passes on a busy road.

Actually forget trucks.  It was more like a train wreck.

I considered the possibility of who might have heard this:

(a) Just me — most unlikely
(b) Just me and the two guys next to me — that would be nice
(c) Just me, the two guys on either side, and the director — sadly, she doesn’t miss a trick
(d) The entire audience — entirely possible, it was a sustained chord for both choir and band
(e) Me, the people around me, the director, the entire audience and every music teacher I have ever had — that’s how I visualize it.

For the final song, I combined the despair of the previous song into the mix of challenges and didn’t do the greatest job I could have.  My only consolation is that having heard some things and talked to some people in the rehearsal, I am sure mine was not the only mistake that night.  But it’s a small consolation when all your musical training is about excellence.  When you’ve spent your life as a “music guy” who plays almost every instrument and has an encyclopedic knowledge of music, it’s humbling to find out there’s something you really can’t do.

Gospel choirs are an entirely different paradigm from the church music I grew up with.  The music is up-beat and joy-filled.  I have a new respect for the people who compose the arrangements, teach the songs and perform the pieces; and I’ll never listen to it the same way again.

But it’s also, to some degree, an endangered species.  With church choirs replaced by worship teams, and Christian radio playing a steady diet of Chris Tomlin, Mercy Me, Casting Crowns, Third Day, and anyone else who fits that formula; it’s easy to see a new generation emerging who will simply never be exposed to the mass gospel choir sound, either live or recorded.

I am so thankful for an opportunity to not only enjoy it this weekend, but learn how the pieces fit together.  I’m glad I got to swim with the dolphins, though I need to warn you; they are excellent swimmers, they were born to swim, and they swim all the time.  Still, it’s fun to splash around in the same water, even if you make a bit of a mess of it!

…To watch videos of the four songs we learned, performed mostly by the original artists, click on the comments section of this article.

Footnote: If you ever see an advertisement in your local newspaper with the words “mass choir” or “gospel choir,” just quickly order tickets.  You’ll be glad you did.

Footnote: The concert we performed in also featured Greg Sczebel, an artist from western Canada who the MC described as a “nerdy white guy” who reminded me of a performer from an earlier generation, Bryan Duncan.  Check out his music.


December 8, 2010

Wednesday Link List

The finest links have been assembled for your reading pleasure…

  • Without doubt, the site to see this week is Paperless Christmas.   Start your tour by clicking on the guy in the delivery uniform and the other clips (all approx 1:00 in length; 9 in total) will play in sequence.   Great music, too.
  • A big HT to Vitamin Z for the above book cover shot.   He got it from Brian Lopez who got it from [drum roll] Exotesparemboles, which everyone knows means… [cricket, cricket] …
  • After being involved in a four-car crash, Greg Boyd is asked how an event like this squares with his open-theology view vis-a-vis praying for protection before you drive somewhere.
  • Don’t blow it, guys.  Trey Morgan has ten gifts your wife would like for Christmas;  which, three days later, resulted in a list of ten gifts your husband would like for Christmas.
  • England’s John P. Richardson gets into the moral and ethical dilemma created by the WikiLeaks story.
  • Linda at the blog, I Wonder as I Wander, would like you to meet Josh Garrels, who she describes quite well when she says, “He ain’t your typical Christian musician.”
  • The whole NIV thing gets a little more complicated for Bill Mounce after hearing someone’s proof that the Holy Spirit is a “she.”
  • Here’s the link for this year’s edition of Boston.com’s Big Picture series of Hubble Space Telescope advent pictures; with a new picture added each day.  I like to call this Artwork by God.
  • Here’s another website dealing with issues of sexuality; check out Six:11 Ministries, in particular, this organization ministers to the GLBT community.   Here’s their blog.
  • Brian Welch, a former member of the band Korn was a guest last week on The 700 Club.
  • Carlos Whittaker gets told, in essence, that he’s not white enough to lead worship in a particular church.
  • Tim Elmore guests at Michael Hyatt’s blog with a piece on teaching your kids generosity at this time year.   Would your kids be willing to think in terms of giving away some toys this season?
  • Youth worship from Canada:  Here’s a link for a free download of the band Nine O Five from east Toronto doing Hillsong’s With Everything with guest Aaron Gillespie.
  • Producers of the third and newest Narnia movie, Voyage of the Dawntreader, are hoping to capture the spirit and the profitability of the first one, as explained to the L.A. Times.
  • Ron Pai, aka The Brown Kid, is back blogging — or was — and asks the question, How Then Shall We Church Plant?   Some good thoughts.
  • Here are your CCM/gospel category nominees for this year’s Grammy Awards, not including Christian musicians who may be part of projects nominated in other categories.
  • Our picture this week (below) was found at the blog Ironic Catholic.

March 26, 2010

Modern Worship Issues: Too Repetitive

Anytime someone tells you today’s modern worship choruses are too repetitive, take another look at the gospel music of the mid twentieth century, like this classic.

Jesus is my Savior, I shall not be moved;
In His love and favor, I shall not be moved,
Just like a tree planted by the waters,
I shall not be moved.
I shall not be, I shall not be moved;
I shall not be, I shall not be moved;
Just like a tree planted by the waters,
Lord, I shall not be moved.
In my Christ abiding, I shall not be moved;
In His love I’m hiding, I shall not be moved,
Just like a tree planted by the waters,
I shall not be moved.
I shall not be, I shall not be moved;
I shall not be, I shall not be moved;
Just like a tree planted by the waters,
Lord, I shall not be moved.
Trusting him forever, I shall not be moved;
He will fail me never, I shall not be moved,
Just like a tree planted by the waters,
I shall not be moved.
I shall not be, I shall not be moved;
I shall not be, I shall not be moved;
Just like a tree  planted by the waters,
Lord, I shall not be moved.
On His word I’m feeding, I shall not be moved;
He’s the One that’s leading, I shall not be moved,
Just like a tree planted by the waters,
I shall not be moved.
I shall not be, I shall not be moved;
I shall not be, I shall not be moved;
Just like a tree planted by the waters,
Lord, I shall not be moved.

Video link (closest to what I remember)
Video link (Unitarian choral rendition)
Video link (early Motown feel)
Video link (instrumental family group*)
Video link (country gospel – different lyrics)

*If you think it’s repetitive with the vocals this instrumental is worse; but sadly this is the state of much of the North American church music I grew up with.   [UK/Aust/NZ readers please skip this one, okay?]

Historical note:  While what I say about mid-20th century hymns is true, this one has its roots in a Negro Spiritual probably from the 19th century.

Scriptural basis for this song:  Psalm 1: 3-4 (I went with King James here to not break the mood) and a variety of  “shall not be moved” texts like Proverbs 12 and Psalm 62.
And now for today’s bonus item:

Coming Soon to a DVD Player Near You
Praise Band – The Movie

Tradition and new ideas clash when Community Crossroads Church hires energetic Matt Young as the new worship leader. He assembles a talented group of young musicians who really rock as they praise God! But some in the congregation cling to their roots and resist change. Can the band unite the dwindling flock before it’s too late? Approx. 105 minutes.  Includes deleted scenes.  (Publisher marketing)

January 25, 2010

Connecting With Our Worship Roots

By and by when the morning comes
When the saints of God are gathered home
We will tell the story of how we’ve overcome
And we’ll understand it better by and by

Last night we caught a concert by the Toronto Mass Choir that was also a fundraiser for Haiti.   It’s the second time we’ve seen them, but only the third time in our lives we’ve been exposed to the volume, the energy and the passion that goes into any kind of mass choir (read: black gospel choir) concert.    This is the music of the redeemed.

Director Karen Burke — who is, no kidding, a Professor of Music at Toronto’s York University with a job description that includes gospel — mentioned an event she’s putting together in Toronto in February titled “The Evolution of Gospel Music.”  This was featured nationally on CBC-Radio many months back, and presented as a one night stage show.   This time they’re doing it for two nights; introducing the birth of the spirituals and artists such as Tommy Dorsey and Mahalia Jackson.

Then she said something profound, to the effect that many people involved in the creation of Christian music today, “don’t know about anything that happened before 1990.”

That’s too bad.   I think it’s incumbent upon anyone who is leading worship today to know something about their roots.     (Here’s my mini-history if you want to catch up in a hurry.)    Frankly, I don’t see how anyone can pretend to do this without knowing where it’s all coming from, anymore than a pastor can lead a church without some minimal knowledge of church history.

I don’t know how much money was raised last night — they never said — but I know that this music is the tonic for tough times.    Haiti was mentioned several times, but the message was clear that God saw the earthquake and its aftermath and He is still sovereign.

This is the kind of music that will lift your spirits on days that minimalistic two-minor-chord worship songs aren’t cutting it.

March 3, 2009

Guaranteed to Embarrass Entire Denominations and Entire Races

Filed under: Christianity, Humor, music, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:12 pm
YouTube Video of the Week
Okay, you people still on dial-up better thank me, because I’m really close to breaking the rule and start embedding videos.   This one is new, it posted to YouTube just two weeks ago;  I haven’t seen it on other blogs, but I can assure you it’s going to be going viral very soon.    It is simply called Breakfast Song and it gives new meaning to miinimalism in music (especially the backup vocalist); though it may be the deep theology that grabs most of you.    You can check it out here.

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