Thinking Out Loud

September 15, 2010

Wednesday Link List

This week's links lynx is actually an Iberian Lynx

A special blessing will come your way if you click all these links and then send the list to ten friends.   Seriously.   Would I lie to you?

Actually, it’s just a list of things I found worth reading this week.   This weekly list is now consider the #1 list of links published on a Wednesday by a blog called Thinking Out Loud.   BTW, the Iberian Lynx is making what is only his second appearance here.  The first was in January this year.

  • If 56 million Bibles are printed annual in China, why would you bother to smuggle any?   Maybe because the number of Bibles produced are often English Bibles and Bible story books for kids which are exported for sale here in the west.   So the need is still there.
  • She was the champion of the use of the arts in church worship.   And still is.   But right now, former Willow Creek creative arts guru Nancy Beach is sitting in a director’s chair in Toronto on the set of a movie.
  • Sometimes you hear about charity fund raising projects and you wonder if anything is actually being accomplished.   18 months ago, I wrote about one involving worship musicians, Compassionart.   (I still enjoy the CD/DVD combo, especially the DVD.)   This past week, Rick Apperson dug up the stats on the projects accomplished by the project so far.
  • You can vote in the comments section whether or not you love this week’s YouTube clip or hate it.   But how can you not like little Mary Margaret’s flawless dramatic narration of the story of Jonah?
  • Back to the heavy stuff.  Here’s a great piece at Think Christian that helps you identify American “civil religion” when you see it. Simple marker: “Any statement that identifies the USA as God’s unique instrument for the salvation of the world is by definition blasphemous and idolatrous for a Christian to make.”
  • Mandy Thompson’s husband discovers that he didn’t actually marry that Mandy Thompson.
  • Thirty seconds of thinking:  Seth Godin on why it matters that there’s a difference to jazz versus bowling.
  • David Fitch wants you think twice about church planting in an auditorium as opposed to church planting in a living room.   Your choice could have repercussions for decades.
  • Here’s a great 5-minute animation of the Casting Crowns song, Praise You In The Storm.
  • Actually, I’ll give you a bonus video this week.   This is by Aaron Niequist, former Mars Hill (Grand Rapids) now doing the same job at Willow Creek.   The song is simply titled Changed.
  • Then again, why not go three-for-three.   This one may not fit your definition of a worship song, but it earn the adjective as much as anything else.   Check out Owl City’s Meteor Shower.
  • It’s one thing to have a more gender-inclusive translation of the Bible, but T.C. Robinson wonders aloud what do you do when “elders” in Titus 1 is gender-neutral as it is in the Common English Bible?
  • Are you a book-review blogger?  Here’s some advice to put what you do in perspective.
  • Skye Jethani is concerned because there are people attending church each week who are just plain bored.   Certainly that shouldn’t be.
  • Personal link:  This is what my oldest son gets up to when we’re not looking.   The musical instrument he’s playing here is called a Sonome.   Elsewhere on his channel you can do a quick tutorial he posted and find out how they work.   (If you’re reading this months later, it’s the Super Mario clip that was upfront when I wrote this.)
  • Our comic this week should be familiar to you.  Here we have Dolly partially deep in prayer at The Family Circus by Bil Keane.   Do you ever pray like that?   I’ll bet Mary Margaret does.

May 22, 2009

Paul Baloche: A Blend of Worship, Testimony and Humor

If you attended a Christian music concert in Toronto anytime in the 1980’s, I was there.   The reasons were often quite varied:

  • attending to a display of Christian music by other artists  (many times)
  • being the master of ceremonies (at least half a dozen)
  • working with the concert promoter (about a dozen)
  • being the opening act (twice that I can remember)
  • doing sound (once)
  • escorting and assisting a video crew from a local TV station (twice)
  • being part of the counseling team (once or twice)
  • playing keyboard with one of the bands (twice)
  • actually being the concert promoter (once, and only once!)

But when we moved out to the boonies, a lot of concert connection — including the free admission and going out for pizza with the artist after the concert — abruptly ended.   (Although personally, I think my wife once saved a Brian Duncan concert in a nearby town when she had the necessary cough candies in her purse.)

Then the kids came, and nobody wanted to be our regular babysitter, so we just gave up on the ‘date night’ concept and stayed home.   For about twenty years.

Until Wednesday.   Given that one of them is starting university in the fall, we don’t need a babysitter anymore, so I realized we were running out of excuses.   So for her birthday, Mrs. W. got, among other things, tickets for us to go to a “worship concert”  — the woman who took our tickets told us to “enjoy the show” — with songwriter and worship leader Paul Baloche.

Joel AugeListening to open act Joel Augé, who apparently is also known for inventing some game that is part of Facebook, I got this strange feeling — not a deja vu, exactly — that I was doing something I had done in another lifetime, only now the sound and lighting were better.   Although he’s a worship leader at The Meeting House, Canada’s fastest growing church movement, for this night Joel did a short but excellent peformance set including a killer version of James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.”

The remaining 2 1/2 hours — less an intermission and the now obligatory presentation for Compassion, which didn’t exist back in the day — belonged to Paul Baloche.   If you’re still scratching your head wondering what songs he has contributed to the worship genre, check out a post I wrote here several months ago about a rather obscure French worship album that Paul released which lists a few, or a most recent post here about the Compassionart project, to which Paul was a contributor, or just hang on for a few paragraphs.    (The host church, in their newsletter, actually counted the songs their worship team does which Paul authored, and there are twenty-one of them!)

Although some of us were expecting a worship event, and not a concert, while others were expecting a concert and not a worship event, Paul’s treatment of the evening was certainly commendable.    Starting out conversationally, he sought to get to know. and thereby connect with, his audience.  I’ve read more than a few blog posts recently where the opinion is expressed that some worship sets fail because the element of connection between worship leader and congregation is missing.

Admittedly in the middle of a tour that had left some of the band a bit punchy, he later defined what he was doing as trying to blend the worship into the everyday; something about which he believes strongly.   My wife put it this way, “I liked that he didn’t take everything seriously, but he knew what to take seriously.”

Then there were the many, many personal moments in the concert, including introducing people he recognized in the audience, and telling a bit of their story, which a few times intersected with his own.

And then there were the many, many lighter moments.   If you’ve seen the Compassionart DVD, you know that Paul takes life a little less seriously than most.    Around the middle of the evening, I wondered if that would prove a distraction to worship purists, but really, that’s who he is, and it is out of all that his worship songs quite naturally flow.   Throughout the evening he was able to move from rather silly moments to serious worship, and the audience was willing to make the transitions.

The worship songs were strong; actually it was a kind of worship “greatest hits” evening, to the point where the projected lyrics were redundant.   Paul likes to start songs with just the band, but a few times the audience jumped right in.  Although not all these songs were performed that night, consider this is the guy who wrote or cowrote:

  • Paul BalocheA New Hallelujah
  • Above All
  • All the Earth Will Sing Your Praises
  • Arise
  • Because of Your Love
  • I Love to Be In Your Presence
  • Offering
  • Open the Eyes of My Heart
  • Our God Reigns
  • Praise Adonai
  • Revival Fire Fall
  • Today is the Day
  • What Can I Do?
  • You Gave Your Life Away
  • Your Name
  • and the various Compassionart songs
  • and another 120+ worship songs

~source CCLI

I wished that Baloche had done one of the songs from the French album, although Belleville, Ontario, while it’s part of Canada, isn’t exactly a French part of the country.   I also wished that a couple of the songs from Compassionart had been part of the concert, especially with all the airplay they are currently getting, not to mention the natural lead-in they would have been to the Compassion appeal before the intermission.   But with over two hours already accounted for, these aren’t major concerns.

My biggest take-away from the evening is that when you subtract the stories and testimony and some of the lighter moments, just about 100% of what was shared was from the Bible.   If you want to make your mark as a worship leader, begin in the Word.

Given my strong suspicion that no two Paul Baloche events are the same, I would definitely buy a ticket for another concert, now that I’m a Christian concertgoer once again.

Wanna read more about worship?  Check out this post from Ben Cotten at LiveAwake blog. (HT Jeff McQ at Losing My Religion.)

March 12, 2009

Compassionart: Creating Freedom from Poverty

compassionartIsrael Houghton is as high energy off stage as his music is on stage; Paul Baloche is a wild man with a big sense of humour, and growing up in Australia hasn’t stopped Darlene Zschech from being able to hold her own in a snowball fight.    That’s the kind of insight into their lives you get into some of your favourite artists and songwriters as Martin Smith (Delirious) brought the top names in worship music to a country estate in Scotland in 2008 for a writing, recording and fundraising project called Compassionart: Creating Freedom from Poverty.

Mac Notebooks are everywhere, seen best as Michael W. Smith moves his nimble fingers easily between both types of keyboards.   Does a song need help with an extra line?   Graham Kendrick (Mr. Lyrics) is called in for re-write suggestions.   Also among the Compassionart dozen are Matt Redman, Andy Park,  Tim Hughes, Steven Curtis Chapman, Stu G, and Chris Tomlin.

compassionartThe concept:   Top writers co-draft 14 worship songs in five days with all performance and publishing royalties signed over to charity, and then meet up a month latter at famed Abbey Road Studios in London to record the songs in only three days.      Monies raised from the CD/DVD sales and publishing royalties from songs used in churches go to Compassion, four “headline” charities, and twelve charities chosen by each participating artist.  As one observes, “This time we are writing worship songs for money.”

Of the two discs in the package, I enjoyed the 49-minute  DVD much more.    It was great to see the creative processes involved in songwriting, as well as the spirit of cooperation among the artists.   I’d strongly recommend, if you are able, watching the DVD prior to listening to the CD, to get some context as to what you’re listening to.    As for the CD, if this is a review, then my top three would be Highly Favoured, Come to the Water, and Friend of the Poor.

If you’re an online downloader, why not take a retro moment to actually purchase the entire CD/DVD oldschool.    You’ll be striking a blow against poverty both where you live and around the world.

Create a free website or blog at