Great Video of God’s Grace

This is a fantastic video that Desiring God did about how God got a hold of Michigan State linebacker Chris Norman’s life and redirected his life’s plans.

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The Real Worship Wars

One thing that seems to be a continual point of contention among the church is what type of music we sing. Everyone, whether they are musical or not, seems to be the expert critic who can instinctively tell when people are putting on a show or if they are truly worshipping God. But how often are those people the ones who are putting on a show by distracting others from their worship of God with their stoic bodies and frowns on their faces? How many of us need to fight the worship war inside our own heart instead the the “war” of which music we prefer? Ultimately this idea of a “worship war” should be such a foreign concept to the church who is called to live in unity (Ephesians 4, Philippians 2, John 13:35). Relevant magazine has a great article about these worship wars we should be waging and says,

Worship is war. But it is not to be fought over our own preferences. We must turn our energy towards killing the selective, prideful nature within us. We must fight to put to death anything in us that would hinder us from pursuing Christ with all we are. We must fight to worship him with a joyful adoration that cannot be contained.

What things do you need to make war against in order to, “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment”?

August – The Month of Music

This past month has featured the releases of some fantastic new music, including a brand new band! So here are my 4 favorite albums that released this month with a brief review of each of them, and no, John Mayer did not crack the list, I’m not sure if I want to get it yet, I’ll probably end up listening to it on Spotify at some point.

Ben Rector – The Walking In Between

Ben RectorBen Rector has been one of my favorites for a few years now. My sister introduced me to him back in 2010 because he was coming to her college and I happened to be visiting the weekend he was playing there. His music continues to get better with each album, and this one was another great one. My favorite song from this album is “Sailboat” but there isn’t a song on the album that I ever skip. In a recent tweet I asked him what the main inspiration for this album was, he said, “I’d probably say getting to catch a dream I’d chased and not being as happy as I thought I’d be.” This is aptly summed up in his song “I Like You.”

“there are way too many love songs, and I think they’ve got it all wrong, ‘cause life is not the mountain tops, it’s the walking in between, and I like you walking next to me.” All in all, this is another fantastic album that has been on repeat since it came out last week.

Andrew Belle – Black Bear

Andrew BelleMy second favorite album this month came from a fellow Taylor University alum who has had songs appear on numerous television shows and was named the Best Break Out Artist in Chicago by MTV in 2009. Andrew’s sophomore shows a slight change in genre with hints of M83 thrown in for good measure. Instead of focusing on the acoustic guitar, this album leans heavily on the electronic music for it’s base. This album seems to deal with relationship issues that have cropped up.  His first single from this record, “Pieces” says, “There’s too much smoke to see it, there’s too much broke to feel it, I love you, I love you, and all of your pieces.” While I don’t like this album as much as his first release, this is another good one to add to the collection. Another one that I’ve enjoyed listening to regularly since it came out.

Matt Wertz – Heatwave

Matt WertzI was introduced to Matt Wertz in college (if you couldn’t see a theme here, I really enjoy the singer/songwriters) and his latest album dropped yesterday so I haven’t had as much of a chance to listen to it yet, but it is very different than his previous albums. This album seems to be inspired by classic rock with many more electric guitar solos than his previous albums had, and his most recent music video hints to this 80s influence as well. The video is worth watching just for the dance off between Matt and Ben Rector! So while this albums is very different than the previous ones, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard so far.

 

The Digital Age – Evening & Morning

The Digital AgeThe final album in my top 4 albums this month is not from a singer/songwriter, but from The David Crowder Band minus David Crowder. The four remaining members went on to found a recording studio and a new band who have taken a different sound than the David Crowder Band did. This album has some fantastic guitar parts and some great harmonies. I’m not sure how the songs would do singing in a church setting, but I may try a few out here to see how they work. I’ve loved using it as a personal worship album as I drive to work in the mornings.

 

 

What a great month for new music! Just in time for the school year to start and even a new band! What are your favorite albums from this summer?

School Blues

School is just around the corner, which means summer is over! How many of your summer goals did you accomplish this year? I for one am looking forward to finally starting the school year again, and despite not being able to start seminary this fall (Liberty doesn’t offer the only class I wanted to take in the fall) I’m looking forward to jumping in to youth group and finally having a good rhythm again in church. Life feels so chaotic when there’s no rhythm to dictate things.

One big thing I learned this summer is that often, vacation is more work than work! It’s really hard to jump off the treadmill of life, even for a day, but it’s oh so necessary the maintain the pace that I need in my life and ministry. If I don’t have those times of break I know I will burn out much quicker. I had some great times away with friends and family this summer, and even got to try biking the Mikkleson trail (I didn’t make it the whole way, I guess I should have trained beforehand?). Overall, it was a very different summer than I anticipated, but a joyous one nonetheless. So what am I going to be doing this fall now?

Besides the normal routines of my ministry (music, small group, youth group) I’m going to try to get licensed by the E Free denomination, continue to help guide the youth group (got a new blog for it! Check it out here), and continue to lead music every week. I’m excited to see how God will lead, guide and grow me this school year.

Youth Ministry and Family

Youth ministry can be a very tough area to be involved in. There are so many students whose parents aren’t involved in their lives, but then there are also so many students whose parents don’t even care what they do. Yet we have such a small amount of time for such a short period of their lives to be involved in and caring for these students. I really enjoy seeing the students grow and seeing them fall more in love with Christ, but ultimately the responsibility of the students comes to the parents. My job is to point the students to Christ and come alongside the parents as they do their best to help foster the students loves for Christ. The Gospel Coalition has a great blog today on this very topic that is great encouragement to those involved in youth ministry. First, remember who we serve, and then remember that we aren’t the students’ parents.

Thick Skin, Soft Heart

This is a very helpful article on how to let people in your church come to you without weighing you down. The article is titled ‘Thick Skin, Thin Skin’ but my dad always told me to have a thick skin, but a soft heart.

A Beautiful Picture of the Church

How many people live with a skewed perspective of the church and what the church should look like. Would you ever think that the church would be most evident from a 20 year old autistic man-child? This is a beautiful picture of what the church should look like!

Jesus – the True Elder Brother

Jesus was stripped naked of his robe and dignity so that we could be clothed with a dignity and standing we don’t deserve. On the cross Jesus was treated as an outcast so that we could be brought into God’s family freely by grace. There Jesus drank the cup of eternal justice so that we might have the cup of the Father’s joy. There was no other way for the heavenly Father to bring us in, except at the expense of our true elder brother.

-Tim Keller The Prodigal God