The Power of Music

This speaks for itself…. There is something powerful about music. It connects on a deep level and brings us to life in ways nothing else can. How are we using the power of music to connect and stir people to life?

Masters FTW – Use Your Platform


“The Shot”


“The Jacket”

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, tgiving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 (ESV)

Gotta love Bubba Watson. Fellow Bulldog. More significantly, fellow brother in Christ. This guy can’t stop talking about His Savior (insert Masters cliché here). I read a great article on BillyGraham.org about his faith. I won’t recap it here – click the link and read it. The main thing that struck me, was how he is seeking to be true to his personality and his platform to share the gospel with anyone and everyone he can. He’s a twitter evangelist and he jumped at the opportunity, tearfully, to remind the world that Sunday was bigger than golf and green jackets – it was the celebration of our risen Lord. My favorite tweet was this: Most important things in my life- 1. God 2. Wife 3. Family 4. Helping others 5. Golf

That’s a man with his priorities in line. How does your list look? Where are your priorities…. not just what do you say are your priorities, but what does your lifestyle reveal to be your priorities?

Bubba also realized that he had to get his own attitude and emotional outbursts in check if he was going to be successful in his career or his witness. Gut-check.

And what about your platform? How are you using your gifts to glorify God? What is your circle of influence and the ripples of your testimony?

Follow @BubbaWatson (Christian, Husband. Daddy. Pro Golfer. Owner of General Lee 1.) or just check out his twitter feed and personal website.

Murdered Son

Here’s a new song off of John Mark McMillan’s latest album Economy. We first heard this song at Vinyl, a small bar in Atlanta… although some guy in the audience turned the chorus into the song that never ends at the set’s close… That over-zealous fan almost ruined this song for me, to be honest. But it’s a great one for reflection this week, in keeping with last year. Check out his own blog (here) for a friend’s theological unpacking of the song’s lyrics.

I love what John says: “At the end of the day, I’m a songwriter who dabbles in theology. I don’t sing about Jesus because I want to spread a message. I don’t sing about Jesus because it’s the Christian thing to do. If I sing about Jesus, it’s for one simple reason, and that’s because I believe he’s worth singing about. While it’s never been my intention to communicate theology through my music, my heart’s fascination with certain subjects have carved out a good bit of space for it in my songs over the years.”

Here are last year’s videos and blog posts:
Maundy Thursday – How He Loves
Good Friday – Death in His Grave
Saturday – Closer
Easter Sunday – Skeleton Bones

How to talk about your faith… and make people WANT to know more

This guy continues to floor me with his passion, depth, and humility. Being deeply entrenched in the Bible Belt and Mega-churches for most of my life (with a brief stint as a sort of hippie) the way most people talk about faith, gets hung up on using the “right” words or checking off a list of theological truths… and honestly, there’s a bit of pressure to “win” or “convince” the other person that you are correct and they too want to be on the right side of belief and theology (and church membership and tithing).

But when I watched this short clip of Josh Garrels’ IN:5 interview, I just sat here thinking… yes.. Yes… YES… I can imagine being any random person Josh encounters as he skates through Portland, pops in and out of small coffee shops with his guitar, or as he plays with his kids and the neighbors…

He speaks in a way that draws you in. He chooses his words carefully. Speaks conversationally but confidently. There is an eagerness and healthy fear in his eyes that makes you want to know what it is he’s talking about.

I’ve been on this thought again for a while, and I’m not at all suggesting that sound theology isn’t important, BUT what I do believe is that if we truly believe and are following Christ and being changed by Him, then we’ll have more than theological formulas to sell someone or cliché Christianese… Granted, Josh is a poet and songwriter, so he has a way with words. But can we share, in our own words (and a barely containable enthusiasm in our body language) what we say is the single most important thing in our lives?

Josh Garrels IN:5 // Believe from IN:5 on Vimeo.

Listener – A True Original

I was excited to finally receive a late Christmas gift in the mail… Listener’s Wooden Heart album on vinyl + digital download… (if you like these videos, pick up a copy of this album). I admit, I wasn’t on board when I first heard this guy years ago on a rickety wooden stage on a field beside a lake. My friend and I were first introduced to Listener at PAPA Fest (People Against Poverty and Apathy) but his style has matured significantly since that first encounter. (And I’m in a different place too.)

His unique “Talk Music” is best described as Hardcore Spoken Word Poetry backed by sparse Indie Rock. He’s not hip-hop (He used to be). What used to stress me out is suddenly restful. This album just clicked one day near the end of 2011… There is an incredible empathy as Dan Smith confesses and relates stories in a brutally honest and emotional style that is like nothing else you will ever hear. There is a grace and hope that is as unexpected as the Christ he follows. After finally dialing into where he was coming from, I felt not only encouraged personally, but motivated in community. (be sure to check out Building Better Bridges and House On Fire and Seatbelt Hands… Save Up Your Hopes Friends is an urgent reminder of the truth in The Book of Revelation) The album is below to stream in its entirety. Skip around. Listen through. Just do yourself a favor and give it a chance.

Memorable, Creative, Low-Budget Sermon Ideas

PROOF that effective communication and creativity don’t require huge budgets – just great ideas. Don’t think these are great? Ask yourself this: How many sermon illustrations do you remember? How many do you remember from 5 or 10 years ago? How many do you know from a church you’ve probably never visited or maybe even heard of? How many could you not wait to share with a friend (or someone couldn’t wait to share with you)? Years later… we’re still talking about these.

Here’s all 4 classic “Jesus Videos” from Vintage 21 Church – These came up in our small group last night as we began studying the Gospel of Mark – the discussion and these videos (from a 2003 sermon series) dealt with our misconceptions of Jesus and what it means to be a disciple…

If these offend you, you’re either missing the point or simply not the intended audience, the rest of us can laugh at the creativity in shedding light on our own issues (the joke is not on Jesus – it is on our own hang-ups) These still own me.

And one more video – after thinking about the “stickiness” of the Jesus Videos, the only other sermon illustration as memorable (but more powerful and worshipful) was also a super-low-budget idea in creative communication. Unlike Vintage 21’s Jesus Videos, this idea was copied by countless churches.

I’m also honored to say that Pastor Tommy Politz and his wife, Donna, are old friends of the family. I remember getting to the end of this video several years ago (2008), teary eyed, and then saying “That’s Tommy!” I hadn’t seen him since he moved to Texas to pastor Hillside. (Also the worship band sang John Mark McMillan’s “How He Loves” – a song which changed the worship “scene”)

Seryn… WOW.

Seryn. Think Anathallo from Texas. …Sufjan, Sigur Ros, The Low Anthem, Mumford & Sons, even Guster… BUT, here’s the kicker, all in worship. Seryn is hands down the best thing to come out of the Texas Indie scene since Explosions In The Sky. The closest comparisons would be hints of Josh Garrels or Gungor’s eclectic and atmospheric folk/worship. I can’t get over the creative resurgence in Christian Indie music. It’s like a second Renaissance. Creatively and theologically, there is a sweeping trend through our culture… the Church is seeking truth and beauty and expressing awe with integrity. No more shirking spiritual labels, yet still refusing to be pigeonholed by any genre. Unapologetic in faith and artistry, the result is wholly inspiring.

Can’t wrap your mind around that? Listen here. (Click on the arrow in the music layer for a free MP3 download of “We Will All Be Changed.”) Snag the 180gm white vinyl and digital copy of the whole album…

Do We Appeal to the Flesh in Faith? (Francis Chan)

Francis Chan takes a break during his video shoot with BluefishTV to share his reflections on the intense faith and sacrificial life of Believers. Take a minute to consider God’s call on His Church around the world and in America. Is there any difference in what is expected of people in the West and in the Rest?
Is your faith real?
Is it intensely distinct?
Are you different from the world around you?

Check out another great video moment with Chan at the RightNow conference, speaking on the “New Middle Way” (And if you’re not familiar with BluefishTV and RightNow check out this video)

Easter Sunday: Skeleton Bones

HE IS ALIVE!

The resurrection is not just a historical fact, theological truth, or future promise. It is a present reality. It is more than mere doctrine, it is definitive. This is the core of our life as a Christ-followers: New Life. Abundant and Eternal.

We worship the resurrected Son of God. And He has breathed His immortal Spirit into our mortal bodies. By His shed blood, the dead have been granted life. The sinful has been made holy. His love is our heart beat. We live on every word that proceeds from His mouth. Live in this power and freedom as you worship your risen King today!

“Skeleton Bones”

Peel back our ribs again
and stand inside of our chest.
We just wanna’ love you
We just wanna’ love you

Peel back the veil of time
And let us see You with our naked eyes
We just wanna’ love you
We just wanna’ love you

We want your blood to flow inside our body
We want your wind inside our lungs
We just wanna’ love you
We just wanna’ love you

Skeleton bones stand at the sound of eternity
On the lips of the found
And gravestones roll
To the rhythm of the sound of you
Skeleton bones stand at the sound of eternity
On the lips of the found
So separate those doors
And let the son of resurrection in.

Oh let us adore the
Son of Glory drenched in love
Open up your gates before him
Crown Him, stand Him up

Saturday: Closer

“God is dead.” Nietzsche penned his infamous 3-word sentence almost 130 years ago. What he meant was that religious belief in God no longer had a place in society – we didn’t need Him anymore. Or at least, mankind did not live in recognition of a God from whom absolute morality and justice was found. Look at his words:

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us?”

The irony, we know, is that while it is true that mankind largely lives as if God does not exist, or at least as if He does not have authority and power in our lives and the world, we need Him desperately. Though not as he meant it, Nietzsche’s words ring partially true of the Christian faith and of this holy weekend. He did not remain dead, but in some divine mystery, God became flesh and willingly died at the hands of sinful men. The Creator was murdered by His creation. What on earth is man capable of doing to make right this unthinkable sin of killing God metaphorically, but even more so of killing Him literally?

Nothing. There is nothing we can do.

It hit me a few years ago, that between Good Friday and Easter Sunday exists 24 hours of Saturday. For one day, Jesus lay in that tomb. The stone had not yet been rolled away. God… was… dead… Not in every sense, don’t get bent out of shape theologically if that sounds blasphemous to you. What I mean is simply this: Can you wrap you heart and mind around the historical fact that on Saturday, following the crucifixion, Jesus the one and only holy begotten Son of God was dead. Man had literally killed the divine: Jesus being fully God and fully man… Dead.

And there was no hope for anyone. What was a sacrificial death on the cross without the resurrection?

It is the Light breaking forth on Sunday that is our hope. It is by the power of His resurrection in us that we too experience newness of life. If the story ended with the cross and the tomb and a stone rolled over it, we would have merely sealed our own damned fate – eternally guilty of not only rebelling against God, but murdering His own Son. By His grace alone did He overcome the world and give us hope of redemption.

Don’t rush from the cross to the empty tomb. Meditate today on the fact that Jesus laid in the tomb, His body lifeless, as He waged war on sin and death. Yes, we know that tomorrow is coming. But today, the shadow of death was darkest as Christ was lain in a tomb, wrapped in grave clothes, and sealed in the earth by stone, guarded by Roman soldiers.

We need more than philosophy, science, morality, inspiration, or even religion. Today, we need a God who is real. A God who not only loved us enough to endure the cross on Friday and conquer the grave on Sunday, but to lay in that grave, burying our sins on Saturday – forever removing Death’s sting.

There is nothing we could do to ever draw closer to the God we have sinned against. We are helpless. We are forever in debt to sin unless our ransom is paid. But by His grace, He came to us, not just as the promised Messiah, but through the power of His Spirit, revealed in the gospel and received by faith. We have been set free. And we owe Him the very lives He has given to us!

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
(James 4:8-10 ESV)

“Closer”

Come closer, closer to me.
Find me broken, find me bleedin’
cause I need more now than a fairy tale,
a god who lives in a book.
I need someone real.

So would you come?
Would you come?
If i begged you, would you come closer to me now?

Come closer, closer to me.
Find me broken, find me on my knees,
cause I need more now than philosophy.
Some god in outer space doesn’t mean anything to me.

So would you come?
Would you come?
If I begged you, would you come closer to me now?
Would you come?
Would you come?
If i begged you, would you come closer to me now?

Son of David, do not pass me by,
cause I am naked,
I’m poor and I’m blind.
Son of david, don’t pass me by,
cause I am naked,
I’m poor and I’m blind.

Good Friday: Death In His Grave

Death In His Grave Performance from Christopher & Nathaniel Calnin on Vimeo.

I’m especially excited about this Good Friday. Amanda and I are meeting her brother and his girlfriend for Secret Church tonight at Brook Hills. What an incredible time to focus on Crucifixion, Salvation, and the Glory of God. Intense time in God’s Word and in prayer for the persecuted Church around the world.

My prayer is that the suffering, salvation, and sanctification of Christ becomes deeply personal today as we reflect on the work of Christ for the glory of God. (Read Luke’s account of Friday’s historical events here.)

*Check out John Mark McMillan’s blog for yesterday’s line-by-line commentary on today’s song.

“Death In His Grave”

Though the Earth Cried out for blood
Satisfied her hunger was
Her billows calmed on raging seas
for the souls on men she craved

Sun and moon from balcony
Turned their head in disbelief
Their precious Love would taste the sting
disfigured and disdained

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke with keys
Of Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

So three days in darkness slept
The Morning Sun of righteousness
But rose to shame the throes of death
And over turn his rule

Now daughters and the sons of men
Would pay not their dues again
The debt of blood they owed was rent
When the day rolled a new

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke holding keys
To Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke with keys
Of Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

He has cheated
Hell and seated
Us above the fall
In desperate places
He paid our wages
One time once and for all

Maundy Thursday: How He Loves

So, it wasn’t until the last couple of years that I knew what “Maundy” Thursday even meant. It comes from the Latin word for “Commandment.” So Commandment Thursday…. What is that all about? And what does it have to do with Easter Week? (Maybe you already know this – but it was a big deal for me.)

On the day before His crucifixion, Jesus met one last time with His disciples. As they celebrated the Passover at this “Last Supper,” Jesus said to His disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV)

The world should see the love of Christ in our lives as His disciples. That’s how they’ll know we follow Him. Not because we go to church on Sundays (or at least on Easter). Love. The Way Christ loved us. That’s what we should be known for. Deep. Passionate. Love for God and for each other. Is this what it means for us today to be a disciple, a follower of Christ? If we’ve turned it into anything else, I pray that this Easter weekend, we let Christ redirect our hearts’ desire.

A few weeks ago, we saw John Mark McMillan at Vinyl – a small bar venue in Atlanta, GA. The worship of our Resurrected Savior was undeniable. And I’m sure the bartenders had never experienced anything like the raucous praise filling the dark room and pouring out onto West Peachtree Street… flooding downtown with the love of Christ.

So for the next few days I wanted to post a video and lyrics from John Mark McMillan that fit the events of this Easter Weekend. What better way to kick things off than with:

“How He Loves”

He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane
I am a tree
Bending beneath
The weight of his wind and mercy
When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these
Afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize how beautiful you are
And how great your afflictions for me

Oh how he loves us so
Oh how he loves us
How he loves us so

Yea He loves us
Oh how

We are his portion
And he is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
If grace is an ocean we’re all sinking
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart burns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way
He loves us

Oh how he loves us so
Oh how he loves us
How he loves us so

Yea He loves us
Oh

Radical Together: THE GOAL IS CHRIST

This is worth spending our lives on. This goal. This God.

David’s second book is about to release:
Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God

For anyone who has misunderstood or worried that others might misunderstand where David / Radical is “coming from,” (you can read my own confession and watch the video for the first book here) watch this video from Taylor Robinson @ SixFootFive Productions. I think this should not only clear up any confusion, but hopefully stir up your passion to see disciples made of all nations. (And speaking of, be on the look out for some great stuff from DMI/disciple-making international… more on that soon.)

SISU = “Stubborn Guts” in Finnish

That’s your foreign language lesson for the day. How many Finnish words do you know? Probably one. Now.

I can’t remember the last time I was so floored artistically and uplifted spiritually as when I was introduced to the music of Josh Garrels. Truly unique, but the best I could put it is think: the surprisingly rich soul of Paolo Nutini or Alexi Murdoch, the beautiful realism of John Mark McMillan or Ben Harper, an occasional bend toward the eclectic hip hop of Citizen Cope, the haunting atmosphere of Sufjan Stevens or Gungor, and the middle eastern Mumford & Sons collaboration… all infused with a heavy dose of Holy Spirit. Did you follow that? Josh Garrels takes it to church. I want to see and feel and love Christ the way this guy so clearly does in his music. I want to know this deep kinship with martyrs and our brothers and sisters around the world.

Mason Jar Music Presents… Josh Garrels from Mason Jar Music on Vimeo.

Below are some links to freebies to get you started (including the song “SISU” which was too interesting a title to pass up) and if you like him… or love him… support what he does and buy something and spread the word – fresh, artistic and worshipful music that flows from and into a realm that is anything but mainstream and stale.

Go to his site joshgarrels.com to hear more, download free mp3s (click on the harmonica), link to his vimeo account and check out his store. *UPDATE: GET HIS NEW ALBUM FREE*

Click here to download a free concert from the Relevant Magazine Podcast.

Helluva Brouhaha: Devil’s Advocate or Ally?

This week’s controversy over Rob Bell’s latest “teaching” has caused a virtual firestorm. No, not a new nooma video. A promo video for his forthcoming book: Love Wins. Before jumping on the heresy bandwagon without having even read the book (though let’s be honest, he does seem to be pretty clear about where he is going with this book) I want to pray that he is playing devil’s advocate and giving voice to the apparent paradox of a loving God and the reality of judgment in hell. My hope is that by stirring up such controversy that people both inside and outside of the faith will seek out the truth… hopefully in what Bell has to say (that he says the Bible has to say) about the true message of love, salvation through faith in Christ, the gracious character of God, and the reality of eternity. Perhaps, he’s willing to take the heat temporarily in order to open new eyes (and old eyes) to the reality of eternity… Lets hope. And either way, let’s seize this opportunity to springboard from this hot topic (no pun intended) into the Good News of an orthodox gospel. Let’s share the love of Christ, found in His life, death and resurrection, glorifying God and saving man from himself (not from God).

Ironically, I’ve been talking to my dad lately about our own increased awareness and sense of urgency concerning the reality of hell. He just finished teaching a series in his church. I’ve been working on a post for another blog (that post may or may not ever see the light of day now that it could seem reactionary) concerning the apparent lack of belief in the reality of hell among the church in America – if the gravity of eternal judgment gripped us as Christ-followers, it would radically change our lives. Not only our personal view of holiness, but our sense of urgency in taking the gospel to all nations – people both near and far – should be given the urgent priority it deserves. Im’ not talking hellfire and brimstone, scaring people into surrender. Not wanting to go to hell is not the same as following Christ in faith… it is still selfish ultimately. But we can square the holy judgment and, yes, wrath of God as part of what makes His grace such good news!  They are all good and loving, ultimately.

At the very least, it’s a great reminder of the power of words, questions, and what we communicate without coming right out and “saying” anything… And we are all accountable for every word that comes from our mouth, blog, book, video… you get the idea.

His official Vimeo account is embedded below:

LOVE WINS. from Rob Bell on Vimeo.

Merry Xmas from The Colbert Report

This clip from The Colbert Report owned me… “reporting” on Christmas & charity.

Colbert’s over-the-top satire speaks louder and more directly than most sermons.

Sometimes it takes a comedian to say the things the rest of us are scared to admit.

Watch it to the end and tell me his conclusion doesn’t leave your mouth wide open.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> March to Keep Fear Alive

“If this is going to be a “Christian Nation” that doesn’t help the poor
EITHER we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are
OR we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor
and serve the needy without condition…
and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”