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Jesus A Theography Review

March 11, 2014 — 1 Comment

_80_140_Book.705.coverJesus
A Theography
By Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

I had the Privilege of hanging, along with a small group of people, at an event to hear Leonard Sweet speak. The man is brilliant and I am honestly in awe of his brain. Full disclosure here…I received this book about a year ago and have not had the chance to review it. I also have every intention of reading it over again, not because I have forgotten about it, but because it is such a good read.

This is like an adult version of the Jesus storybook bible, but without pictures.
Jesus says, “The Scriptures point to me!” (John 5:39 NLT). This book draws our eyes to the attention of the narrative of scripture. That it isn’t just a bunch of stories jammed into a book and is instead one story broken up into parts.

This book gives the reader so much insight as it jumps from genesis to revelation. It is a compendium of THE STORY which gives is insight into the character of Jesus and His revelation through scripture.

It is not a short book and requires thought, but I think it is an amazing companion the the bible. It helps the reader truly appreciate the voice of God in the word as they are given new eyes in the “STORY” of Jesus.

So with that said… I will be reading it again.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from booklook 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.”

Bethel Music: TIDES review

September 3, 2013 — 3 Comments

tides

Bethel Music: TIDES

I have had the pleasure of being able to listen to the new Bethel Album for the last month. Sadly I have been so into the album that I forgot to do this review; so let me get right into it.

I am a huge fan of Bethel’s worship and as a worship pastor I love to lead their songs. Bethel over the years has become my personal worship “cave”. I remember when I first heard the song “closer” with Steffany Frizzell-Gretzinger. That night I felt God just reach out in the middle of that song. I ended up spending 3 hours continually repeating the youtube video of steffany leading the 12 min version.

There is something to Bethel that is different than other bands. There of course is quality in musicianship, well thought out lyrics and amazing chops. What sets them a part for me though is it is dripping with the Holy Spirit. These guys are anointed and I just can’t get enough. For me the dynamic duo is Gretzinger and Riddle leading together. Amazing.

I was excited to get this CD, but also nervous. Most of my favorite worship people cut studio albums and I find myself begging that they would do a live album. With bethel it was different because this was their first studio album and I was worried it would remove the ROAR that their other projects had. I worried for no reason.

This album is AMAZING! I have all of Ian McIntosh’s solo work and the minute I pushed play on the first track I heard his fingerprint all over this. In a world of U2/Hillsong/Coldplay ripoffs mixed with civil wars/muford copycats It is so refreshing to actually say that this album is fresh and original. Musically it is evident nothing is composed to be cool or hit and instead 100% supports the songs and it’s lyrics. Everything just makes sense.

Oddly enough I didn’t start listening to the first track. Instead I jumped to the title that hit me; “Be Still”.

“Be still my heart and know
You are God alone
Stop thinking so much
And just let go”

Smacked right in the gut. Those lyrics cut me to the core.
I was hooked after that. Simple truth sung with a prophetic edge and yet wasn’t cliche.

This album stylistically offers EVERYTHING.
Jenn Johnson channels Dido and Natasha Beddingfield on “Chasing You”, a song my 4 year old daughter cant stop singing.

Brian Johnson is consistent and clear with an almost hymn-like quality on songs like “strong in us” and “forever”.

Steffany Gretzinger KILLS it on “be still” and leaves you floating in the spirit of surrender in “letting Go”

Jeremy Riddle, the brilliant writer of “Furious” doesn’t disappoint either. He lends to the album a gritty indie rock feel on “heaven’s song” and on “breaking through” gives us a similar feel to The Killers “human” album. SO GOOD!

New Comer Hunter Thompson sings “come awaken love” which seems to be an homage to Owl City.

There are a few other tracks on here that I didn’t mention that are just brilliant. The only song that had to grow on me was “ascend” but after a bunch of listens I love it even with William Matthews shaky tremolo voice.

The Last song that hit me like a ton of bricks is the EPIC anthem song “For the Cross”. Brian starts the song it its powerful. All of a sudden Jenn DIVES into the song with what can only be described as a Groan of the Holy Spirit and you are instantly transported to utter thanksgiving for the cross. She screams out truth and hope almost as if she wants ever spirit to hear that this “violent hope” is a declaration that the battle is already won.

“But on that day
What seemed as the darkest hour
A violent hope
Broke through and shook the ground”

In the last 10 years there have only been a handful of albums I can truly say were perfection. Not just a 5 star rating, but where there isn’t one bad song, one misplaced note, or one cliche lyric.

THIS IS THAT ALBUM. Buy it now. Your spirit needs it!

 

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.”

OneEvent

Tonight I had the privilege of attending a service in Providence, RI called “ONE EVENT”. I heard about this event through a few brothers in christ that I know on Facebook, but have never met in person and they were both spearheading this with their churches. Andrew Mook from Sanctuary church and Jason Lee from Renaissance church along with pastors from a few other providence churches came together to meet, pray, and worship. They came together in unity to seek the face of God and to fight for their city.

If you have ever read my blog this heart should sound familiar. Not only is this something I think about daily and try to work towards in my own community/ministry, but it is the heart of God to see His body united.

We walked in and were greeted by some pretty cool/hip looking kids that made this prematurely bald worship pastor feel wicked old. Behind us was a mass of people piling into the building. There was something here that I don’t see very often in Newport area.

Anticipation.

Let that sink in for a second because it is key. They came in with expectation and you could see it on the peoples faces. Worship was great and so were the times of prayer. Nothing insane happened. Nobody rose from the dead. Nothing out of the ordinary to the naked eye. But for a guy who has been in ministry for 17 years and plowing through cement within the context of unity in the body there was something clearly out of the ordinary.

This group of people truly were there for the city. Every agenda, every theological difference, worship style, ethnicity, and cultural background was put aside for this time. There was a sense of purpose that I have not seen in the RI body of christ in a long time. There was an awareness that 5 churches being present in a building regardless of what they do is powerful in the spiritual realm. There was an expectation that the prayers would shake up the principalities in the area.

I have seen this hunger before in my area of RI and have seen the ebb and flow. We spend a ton of time praying for the church and for revival to happen. This body prayed that God would move in any way He chose and that they would be willing and repentant participants in His story.

They concluded with communion. There is nothing that unites the Church more than the cross.

Recently in our 1Prayer unity nights we have begun to do a very similar format.

I am blessed to have been able to have seen the Lord tonight. God is moving in providence. God is stirring up His people and calling them back to Him.

Monday night we have our own UNITY event in newport. I pray we continue to walk in expectation that God wants to do something amazing. I pray that the apathy that has enslaved our churches gets released.

I pray that our friends in Providence that are seeing God set the captives free intercede for their brothers and sisters in Newport County and the same way we are for them.

To God be the Glory.

Let end with this:
BEAUTIFUL BRIDE by FLYLEAF

Unified diversity
Functioning as one body
Every part encouraged by the other
No one independent of another
You’re irreplaceable, indispensable
You’re incredible, incredible

Beautiful bride
Body of Christ
One flesh abiding
Strong and unifying
Fighting ends in forgiveness
Unite and fight all division
Beautiful bride

Strengthen your arms now
Train your fingers for battle
Urgency’s here now

ironman

Iron Man 3: a review from a comic book nerd dad –
TIRADE ALERT

Last night I took my awesome wife out to see iron man 3. I have been crazy excited about this movie for ages. We bought tickets hours ahead of time and showed up 30 min early, greeted by a nice long long of fanboys and 4 year olds. 4 year olds? Let me segway here for a moment. I have many friends that let their kids see movies like this and ones that are PG-13 when the kids are clearly 6 years away from ever meeting that restriction age. I am fully aware that some PG movies play like PG-13 and some PG-13 movies really could pass for PG. I also know that every parent gets to choose how they parent. We might be in the extreme in that we haven’t let any of our kids, including our 12 year old, see any of the comic book movies.

The reason is simple… Innocence.

It is a word we seemed to have lost along the way in regards to our kids. We live in a day in age when 15 year olds can get the morning after pill, children bring guns to school, bullies no longer just pull hair, and terrorism can come from your next door neighbor. It’s possible some of my friends might be mad at me for saying this, but as parents I think more than ever we need to guard the innocence in our children. Notice I didn’t say put them in a bubble, but there is a difference between our kids just experiencing life and parents introducing violence and sex into an 8 year olds brain and heart. I will get back to that in a second.

This Iron Man was fantastic. It had every element I love from the comic, the other iron man films and even tying in the avengers through the movie. Some of the twists were interesting and I will eliminate spoilers here. Some changes I liked and some I didn’t.

The writing in this film is brilliant. Character development, story arc, love interest, and it keeps you entertained from beginning to end. Through the movie we start to see bits of humility shine through stark and yet we retain his witty ego which is a blast to watch. I would have loved to have seen iron mans Extensis armor. I can’t wait for Avengers 2.

Gwyneth Paltrow, an actress I am normally not a fan of, was pretty great in the film.Gwyneth is a woman who supposedly works out every day for 2 hours with personal trainer to the stars, Tracy Anderson. I actually have one of Tracy’s videos that my wife and I have worked out to and it kicked our tails. What I noticed in the film was they made sure to as much as humanly possible show Gwyneth’s Abs. At the end of the credits I was waiting for a workout video info-mercial.

Now back to what I started with. This was the most violent and dark film of the marvel superhero genre so far. It didn’t bother me one bit because I am 36 and have been reading comics all my life. I am a nerd/geek and proud of it. While I was watching a film a film with a hero that of course saves the day it also had terrorism, people being burned, people being shot, evil characters in bed with two women, and very close to home flickering scenes of maniacal evil people. The whole time I sat there I enjoyed one of my favorite characters, but only could slightly because I watched parents bring their 4 year olds into the room. In front of us 7 and 8 year olds were cheering their hero while watching scenes sprinkled with violence that was growing them up too fast.

I can go on for days on this, but let me end with this:
Iron man gets 5 stars from me. Its brilliant and dark and awesome. It is also PG-13 for a reason.
The parents who brought there 4-11 year olds into the theater last night get -12 stars because they chose not to exercise wisdom and are subjecting their kids to “comic book violence”. As much as we would not like to admit it the “comic book violence” we saw on that movie is happening all around the world even as I type this.

So GO SEE IRON MAN 3!!!! but… for the sake of keeping our children innocent for just a little bit longer please don’t take them with you.

 

 

elevation

So I just want to start off with a confession. I have not been a huge fan of any of the albums that have come out of Elevation. Part of that is because I am in a different place in my own journey in worship. I have done the “huge band” and “is this a coldplay concert” thing before and after a while for me personally it gets old. I have read all of Pastor Furtick’s books. Years ago I had conversations with worship pastor Wade Joye and Prayed fervently for his children while in the hospital. Over the years I have been so excited to see God move in this church and the people in it. GOD grew this church to close to 12,000 people in 7 years and He is daily doing an amazing work through them.

With all of that said I just could not get into the albums. A friend of mine asked me if I would review this new “nothing is wasted” double disk and I accepted. Why not… Lets see how this goes.

I turned it on and not only was I pleasantly surprised but I feel like THIS is the album that I was waiting for. My guess is based on content and lyrics that as God spoke to pastor Furtick on “Greater”. That God is greater that this vision seeped into the hearts of the worship and mantra of the church and that is very evident in the lyrics.

I am a sucker for the Live disk because I feel like it is more RAW. The studio version just feels a little too buttoned up for me and “over-polished”. I don’t know what it is, but it always feels like the heart and passion behind the song is intact in a LIVE recording and sucked out in a studio track.

I have been through this CD 3-4 times since getting a pre-release a few weeks ago. The only track I am not a huge fan of is “Let Go”. Stylistically that song just doesn’t want to resonate with me. I am letting the rest of the album ruminate in my spirit. The Lyrics are filled with truth declaring the Character of God. I was the guy who did not like the song “give me faith”. I know feel free to send me hate mail. I don’t exactly know what the difference is here, but something about this “new” declaration from elevation rings out for me. I believe there is power in the word and our declaring of the GREATNESS of God and this album is chock full of that.

“Lay down my rights.
Lay down my life
I will abandon All of my pride
Focus my eyes Away from myself
You become greater I become less”

There is a “space” on the live album. It is something I will be teaching in a class im doing actually. It is the idea of waiting on the Lord. Not the kind of waiting where we wait for an answer, but instead of waiting where we rest in the presence of the King and let Him renew our strength. This “space” is here. There is an expression of victory here that has been born out of experience and encounter with Christ.

This is the first Elevation Album that has made it to my “must listen to” rotation on my iphone and I think you need to buy it as well!

“You have overcome the world
Took the keys from death and hell
Joining heaven we declare
You’re greater, greater”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this album free from Elevation Worship 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.”