Archives For Review

Permission to Speak Freely
By: Anne Jackson

I am a bit late on this review because I have had the book a LONG time. Ironically though I finished this book in a day.
The books tagline is “Essays and Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace” and it is just that. Anne is a very transparent writer as well as speaker. Anybody who follows her blog knows she bares it all. She is a broken woman and seeking after the heart of God. She posed the question of “What is one thing you feel you can’t say in church?” Hundreds responded with letters, emails and postcards.

Some of the book was inspiring and a bit of it was sad to see the oppression in the the church walls. The book is formatted much like postsecret. As a matter of fact I’m confident that was their inspiration for the style it was written.

Images and graphics are interwoven with heart-wrenching stories. There are essays and testimonies in the book that will make you want to pray harder for the state of the “Church”. The book is also sprinkled with tons of graphics and “postcard” style art with secret testimonies that will shake the brains and hearts of naive people in the church.

She does address the hope in Christ, but we also know this is an eternal journey so sometimes it seems there is not much hope on this side of death. All in all I really enjoyed reading this book and having met Anne before it just made me pray harder for her.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> 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.”

Before I write a review on this CD I want to publicly come on record with an apology to the worship community at large and Rita Springer. Rita has been one of the great worship leaders of our time and prolific writer as well. Some reason I wrote her off years ago by just not listening to her music even though people around me raved about her. Somewhere along the way I put my head under a rock prematurely.

It is interesting because a worship leader who also plays bass with me at a multi-church prayer meeting told me a month ago that he was going to new jersey to play bass for Rita. That same week Integrity sent me her new CD to review. Was it a sign? I don’t know, but I pulled it out of drop box and ignored the possible sign.

Finally my thick head said listen to that thing and I complied with it’s command.

What i heard was the first track “Come in”. A brilliant and rich call to worship. It starts off slow and then ushers in the Holy spirit with such amazing power. You can hear here screaming out… crying out for God. I was instantly hooked and at the same time kicking myself for taking so long to become a Rita fan.

The next track “in this forever” along with a few others have sonic nuances reminiscent of Jenn Johnson and Vicky Beaching. She has such beautiful vocals that are so versatile and more accomplished than most of the worship leaders out there.

“Make You Happy” reminds me so much of Christy Nockels Watermark CD’s, but amped up. It is such a well written song.

One of my favorite tracks is “I call You”. Which is so full of lyrics that glorify God. I can see using this song right away in my services.

Just when you think you have pegged Rita’s sound you are handed “Made for this” which sounds like what if Joss Stone, Kim Walker and Mellissa Etheridge had a baby. Rita just belts out from her soul and you know in your “knower” that she believes what she is singing.

The whole CD is capped off with a brilliant song “this blood” which has a johnny cash/Hymn type of feel.

Ultimately from first listen there was not a song on this CD I did not like. It is a must buy.

There is nothing better than a “believable” worship leader. Nothing better than listening to somebody who is obviously not just going through the motions and then worshiping right along side them.

I am a fan of Rita Springer and so glad to have this CD.

Gungor has been ingrained in my world of music since the days of his collaborations with Israel Houghton. Back then we knew he was brilliant and had crazy guitar chops, but when “Beautiful Things” came out we found out he was a kindred spirit of the creatives.

Don’t shoot me for this if you loved that CD, but I was not in love with every song. I felt like Gungor as a band was on a journey. A path of finding their place musically, artistically and spiritually.

I did however love much of it which is why I was chomping at the bit to get a hold of “Ghosts upon Earth” which released a day or so ago.

WHAT IS GOING ON!! Seriously, what is happening to Christian music? Are we finally getting that it is about creating for our king and not creating for a fictitious person listening on the radio and buying CD’s? Praise God artists are still out there and willing to be creative for Christ. I have seen too many brilliant artists start on the journey only to be squashed and then create art for many other things besides God.

This is but a piece of Gungor’s journey, but it such an amazing CD. There are so many layers of creative genius and heartfelt worship. I am a sucker for haunting melodies and this CD does not disappoint.

I hate going song by song because honestly who really reads that any way.

This is not a corporate worship CD folks. It is worship 100% through and through though. The production is just perfect. It is simple and lets the gutsiness of the music come through. It reminds me so much of what was coming out in the 90’s like michael knott, adam again, lost dogs, and at the foot of the cross from the Choir.

In Psalms we have so many nuances of worship. There is joy, sorry, battle, silence, lament and more. Why do we choose to only worship God in our happiness? I think one thing that creative albums like this do for us is show that we can worship God with “Everything” we have and are. We don’t have to fabricate a “new” us to present to God.

In conclusion Gungor is just 1 of the many new artists out right now bringing creativity and artistry back into the church where it needs to be.

Buy this beautiful CD, let it soak in and pray that it spurs you to use your soul to create like God created you to.

Today Daniel Bashta’s new CD “the sounds of daniel bashta” came out. I first heard daniel a while back with his previous independent album and then later heard a lackluster cover from the crowder band of “Like a Lion”

I had the privilege of getting an advanced copy of this CD from my great friends at Integrity Music. Because this CD has been threatening to come out for a while now I think I have had it since Feb.

This is one of those CD’s that I think we can call a turning point in “corporate worship”. People like Misty Edwards and Jason Upton, who I love, have been around for a while now, but most of their music is not accessible for all many churches. Integrity has been launching amazing artists that are not only accessible, but are also out of the box and skilled with their craft. They are not just trying to churn out hits. They are trying to create a new sound of worship and I love that.

Bashta just reeks of the prophetic and grips the soul with lyrics like “I am the sound I am the voice…I am Jesus to this city!” It is not a CD with bubble gum lyrics. His words inspire and convict and most of all lift up Jesus.

I like to describe this CD as Jason Upton with ritalin or Red bull for the soul. There is such passion that rips through the songs that I am pretty sure they had to clean off the mic with a towel during recording.

I love a guy who sings with unbridled passion and conviction and Daniel does just that.

Because I have had this CD for a while now I have been able to incorporate some of the music. I have used “with everything”, “freedom is calling” and of course “Like a Lion”.

There is something so pure about “like a lion”. Something so breathtaking about its simplicity “My God’s not dead… He’s roaring like a lion”. The bridge is my favorite part because it says “let heaven roar” and just connects the revival with the church with the outpouring of the heavens.

“freedom is calling” is amazing and once again a call for the church to RISE. Then there is the song “the sound” with lyrics

“Hell can you hear me
Can you hear me
Are you listening

Darkness do you fear me
Do you fear me
Are you trembling”

WOW…seriously. not much needed to write about that one.

There is so much I can say about this CD and it’s lyrics. I am a huge Ihop fan and the prophetic movement, but it seems that that style of worship has not permeated the church as a whole. I think this CD and more coming out of integrity like John Mark McMillan, Brothers McClurg, and All sons and Daughters are breaking the mold and introducing the church to things we have lost. Depth, artistry, mystery, revival, warfare, and true passion.

Bravo Daniel for making one of the best CD so far this year! (a close second would be Owl City). Thank you for fueling the fire and giving the church sustainable red bull for the soul.



Disclosure of Material Connection: We received this CD free from the publisher to listen and post a review on our site. We were not required to write a positive review. The opinions we  have expressed are our own. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 < <> > “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Vertical Self How Biblical Faith Can Help Us Discover Who We Are in An Age of Self Obsession

By Mark Sayers

I recently had the privileged of receiving this book in the mail via Thomas Nelson Publishing.

I was really excited to get this book because it looked very interesting. It talks about returning to a life of Holiness. It is a book about being less self absorbed or “horizontal” and having our eyes fixed on Christ “vertical”.

I personally love books that deal with our identity because I believe it is one of the biggest struggles we as Christians have. Who do we get our identity from? Are our eyes pointed upward or do we continue to look to our environment and peers as our barometer for how we should act and ultimately be.

While the insights are butt kicking and inspiring I felt the actual writing of this book made it a bit monotonous to read. Make no mistake, the content of this book is much needed in the church today and it has some fantastic points. It is a must read, but I just was not a fan of the writing style. It did not keep my interest and therefore it became a bit of work to get through it.

Bravo to Mark for tackling a subject that we as the church seem to forget about and that is Jesus calls us to be like Him and He always looked to the father. Hopefully this book will inspire more to start looking vertically.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> 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.”