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have it all

It feels like just yesterday that I did a review of the bethel album we will not be shaken, where I shared that I was pretty much lukewarm on most of the cuts on it. I have everything ever put out from bethel, brian and jenn, ian mcintosh, steffany gretzinger, jeremy riddle etc etc… You get it; pretty much anybody associated with that crew and usually love almost everything until the “we will not be shaken” album and I found myself, unlike the title, kind of shaken as it just would not stick with me. I also feel like I may have been set up for a trap because the marketing forced my brain to have an expectation of it being a cross between tides and loft sessions. It wasn’t.

Then came “Have it All” in my inbox to review a few weeks before it officially came out. I clicked the link and said to myself. “what is this!!??!”. I had no idea there even was another album coming and so unlike the last one I was not boxed into sonic expectation and my mind and ears were open to whatever would meet them. I was ready to press play, give it a few listens and then review it. My plan was to post a review a few weeks ago, but as you can see I failed. Now let me keep this review concise and simple as it will also explain my delay in typing this review in the first place.

This album instantly became a prophetic prayer over my spirit and my circumstances. 
It forced me to wrestle with a new level of surrender.
It reminded me that God doesn’t “give His heart in pieces”
It made my heart pour out “thank you” over the circumstances that I normally should not be.

Every track was dripping with the LIVE groan of the Holy Spirit and as polished as it sounds it is also raw and untamed.
Normally I would go through track by track, but there are 16 tracks and I will get acute carpal tunnel if I share on each one so instead I will just encourage anybody who reads my blog… Go buy this album and let it carry you into worship, challenges you to be more like Jesus, and brings peace as the Holy Spirit washes over you.

Oh the peace that comes
When I’m broken and undone
By Your unfailing grace
I can lift my voice and say
You can have it all, Lord

I can almost guarantee that the peace that passes all understanding dropped on you by just reading those words. It is that powerful of an album. It features Brian and Jenn Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook, William Matthews, Jonathan Helser, Paul and Hannah McClure, Kalley Heiligenthal, Josh Baldwin and Bethel newcomers Leeland and Cory Asbury. I think it’s ironic that the last two would be called newcomers, but they are to the bethel music. 

Music of course has a ton to do with personal preference. What surprised me as well is that while a few of those leaders stylistically are not my favorite on past albums, on this one there isn’t a voice, a lyric or a song that doesn’t move my spirit.

These 16 tracks are on continual repeat right now. “Have it All” has become a personal meditational prayer each time I listen and now that it still rings in my head an heart all day long.

Brian Johnson said it best ““The sooner we realize life is about surrender, the longer we have to make a real eternal impact here on earth.”.

Don’t buy this album to support Bethel. Don’t buy this album because you think of me as a bearded wise sage that told you to.

Buy it because your spirit, your journey, and the depth of your surrender needs it. 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this album free from Hoganson Media Relations and Bethel to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Double Book Review

December 5, 2015 — Leave a comment

The Carols of Christmas
By Andrew Gant

I was very excited to get this book because I think these days there is a disconnect with the songs we sing and understanding why they even exist in the first place. It showed up at my door at a time when I was doing a sermon series at my church on the correlation of christmas carols to the gospel and this was very helpful. This book has a nice feel and has a good number of songs. Of course it can’t cover all of them but I did feel there were a few obvious ones like “i heard the bells on christmas day” that were missing. However that could just be my hang up.
The author is a professor and church musician and sadly this comes across as more of a text book in some ways. With that said it is chock full of interesting facts and connections. I think for those who are not passionate about history and music and maybe looking for a light story read, it may be a bit of a bore. For people like me it was quite enjoyable and I am glad I got this.
3 of 5 stars

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The Miracle in the Middle
Finding God’s Voice in the Void
By Charlotte Gambill

In the middle…
When you are tired and stuck in the valley.
Sounded like the book to me. I had been through times of burnout in life and ministry and spent a lot of time researching and studying this topic. I loved Charlotte’s creative example of being on a trip with kids and them asking constantly “are we there yet”. Being a dad with 4 kids, this hit home for me.
I think this is fantastic book and what I loved most about it is that it doesn’t give you all the answers. It leaves room for not only the mystery of God but for the reader to have to use their brain and pray through the content.
This is not a quick read. Not because it’s a long book but instead because each chapter really needs to digest inside.
Seems to be a trend, but this book spurred on a sermon that I preached about being stuck in the middle between a promise and the promised land. I applaud any author who has the guts to write about the realities of real life’s frustrations and teaches biblically how to deal with such feelings.
4 of 5 stars

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

PIA

Sunday night was absolutely amazing: My wife and I, along with friends, went to the Poets in autumn tour with spoken word artists Jackie Hill Perry, Preston Perry, Genetics = Janette…ikz, and Ezekiel Azonwu. I had seen them before online over the years and had been hoping I could see them speak live one day. For me it was a surreal experience. It was my anniversary of 18 years of marriage. I was sitting in a room with a few hundred other people and some friends. Then they started speaking… The first piece I had heard before, but live it landed on my ears differently.

I grew up in NY, currently live in RI, but also lived in west coast, midwest and south. I am white. The reason why this matters is twofold.
1. I have never experienced racism in the way some of the poetry spoke towards myself.
2. While I have never experienced it, I have personally experienced prejudice and have seen first hand friends being profiled.

To hear Preston’s lens on racism today, something that makes me sick to my stomach, was mind blowing. I have no tolerance for the kind of hate the world spews out these days. I don’t see color. I see God’s precious creation. I Loved the way preston tackled the issues. He was bold, clear, unashamed and then so full of love and grace. He pointed to Jesus, forgiveness and that all life is sacred.

Sitting in a room with mostly black brothers and sisters in the lord and hearing his testimony broke my heart. I will never know what they have gone through and the hurt some of them have been through. However, I am so glad that Jesus can clean hearts, restore lives and that there is nothing this world can dish out that heaven can’t heal. I found myself in prayer for the great men and women of God in the room that night.

Lord… Take their lives.. make them yours.. use them to heal their city. Use them to break down walls. Make a way where there seems to be no way. Give them a platform and a voice that is greater than they can imagine.
Each artist shared from their heart with a mission to use their life story as a platform to arrest hearts and then step out of the way for the Holy Spirit to move. The stories were heartbreaking. The hope was mesmerizing. The talent was unparalleled.
I had just that morning preached at Ember Church about John the Baptist being a voice in the wilderness. I spoke on our picture of him being warped. He wasn’t a crazy man screaming repentance. He was a gentle yet bold man begging for children to return to their father. I spoke on ensuring that when we speak, much like john, that we need to be mindful if what we say points to Jesus. Clearly John the Baptizer did not water down the gospel. He wasn’t afraid to tackle hard hitting targets. Unlike the crazy doom, sign holding preachers on the street corners, John had a crowd that came out to meet him. He preached repentance and grace instead of judgement a prepared the way for the Lord. 

Sunday night in the middle of Brockton Ma, at Dominion Christian Church; 4 Modern day John the Baptist’s came to speak. They tackled the hard topics: Lust, Molestation, Broken Marriage, Deception of satan, Porn, Passion, Corruption, The word of God, Prayer, Abortion, Spiritual warfare… They were not afraid to speak truth and nothing was off limits. That had us in tears, in wonder, in shock, in self evaluation, in awe…

And then… With the voice of the Lord they prepared the way for the Lord and pointed everything they were and had to Jesus. 

They made sure every person in that room heard one thing. JESUS IS ENOUGH and I was honored to be present for that moment.

Unoffendable
How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better
By Brant Hansen

I have no right to be angry?
There is no such thing as a human’s righteous anger?
Offense is wrong and vengeance is the Lords?

That is pretty much what I read as the description of this book when I got it in the mail to review. I thought to myself. “Ok.. I will try this out because I know that offense and bitterness can kill my soul, but righteous anger is wrong?”

So I dove into it already offended by a few situations in my life, family and work. Now I am on chapter 2 and quite frankly offended by the book.

I am an artist… a Thinker and feeler. I have read many books on the use of anger and pain as the force that precedes GREAT actions. I completely understood that fact in my journey and have attempted to leverage it as much as possible. It always seemed the safest way to release offense and anger.

Brant says that instead we should make LOVE the best foundation for GREAT action.

“Choosing to be unoffendable, or relinquishing my right to anger, does not mean accepting injustice. It means actively seeking justice, and loving mercy, while walking humbly with God. And that means remembering I’m not Him. What a relief.”

Forgiveness and love are such tough things to embrace as a person of faith. As much as we strive to readily receive both we work much less at the act of giving them. Yet we are most like God when we do both.

Jesus had a right to be offended and a right to be angry. Quite frankly he was the only one who truly had that right and He chose to sacrifice that right on the cross so we could be forgiven and marked by grace.

I found myself by the end of the book not only not healed, but also still a sinner. However after taking an inventory of my heart and soul I realized that while I wasn’t easily offended or sensitive, but I had been deceived that I had a right to be angry over justice and truth.

Brant says we should “forfeit our right to be offended”… I’m realizing that when I don’t.. Joy does not come in the morning.

This was a great book. I highly recommend it. Reading it, but more so ingesting it has helped me release things to God that I was holding on to and given me a new peace in some areas I didn’t have.
I am still a daily work in progress… As we all are.

 

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Divided: When the Head and Heart Don’t Agree by Bill Delvaux Review

This book consists of three parts:

#1.  Viewing the Divide: How it Began and What it Destroys.

#2.  Tackling the Divide:  Three Terrains to Navigate.

#3.  Closing the Divide:  What the Journey Feels Like.

It is very simplistic in nature in the way it wants to tackle the divide between the heart and the heat. I can’t say that this has been a particular issue for me in my walk. As much as I have always been a thinker and love theology I have also learned the importance of aligning my heart with God’s. It is a nice place to start your journey I would say delving into thoughts and concepts like this.

With that said meditating on the word versus just reading the word is less about trying to break down that divide. I think far too often we spend a ton of time focused on ourselves and how to synch all that up. I am convinced that the mind can lie because it tries to know everything or justify everything. And our hearts can lie because they are focussed on feelings and not always rooted in truth.
For me bridging that divide requires the church, the eucharist, and prayer that is rooted in aligning your heart to the fathers.

Again.. a pretty good book and maybe a good starting point for new believers.

Disclosure of Material Connection:

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”