30th March 2012
1) As a music reviewer, how do you think Contemporary Worship Music has changed over the past number of years?
I’m not sure there’s been a truly significant change in the essence of popular worship music in the past decade or so, to be honest. Pop/rock praise anthems, with punchy hook lines and congregationally singable choruses have been very much the order of the day in modern worship music for many years now, and that’s still the same today. British worship writers/musicians like Matt Redman and Tim Hughes remain hugely popular both sides of the Atlantic, as do American dudes like Chris Tomlin and David Crowder. What changes over time is the number of new names in worship that are cropping up – the market is saturated with worship albums and mp3s, and so much of it is really good. My only issue is there’s often not much variability – much contemporary worship music sticks to a very similar, indistinct format.
I am impressed, though, with a number of fresh sounds in worship that are cropping up from time to time. I’m thinking, for example of that Northern Irish team, The Rend Collective Experiment. or that energetic group from Colorado, known as Gungor and led my Michael Gungor. Or the original, rootsy sound of Australian four-piece Sons Of Korah, who have yet to become widely recognised, but who’s impressive output focuses almost exclusively on the Psalms, into which biblical pieces they breathe wonderfully fresh and inspirational life.
2) You mentioned in Cross Rhythms that two of your all time favourites ‘Back Home’ by Caedmon’s Call and ‘Myself When I Am Real’ by Bebo Norman, is that still the case or have you changed from that?
I’m listening to Caedmon’s Call right now as I write – their Chronicles album! Love that group. their combination of folk and rock with catchy melodies and great harmonies really appeals to me. And yeh, I still think Bebo Norman is great too. His songwriting skills are first-rate; in terms of both lyrical content, which is rich in spiritual depth, and in catchy hook-lines, which stay with you. He has a great voice, too. Among other favourites, I’d include the above-mentioned Sons Of Korah, Jadon Lavik and Canadian Steve Bell. Actually, one of the most beautiful, Spirit-led worship albums I know of is a very early recording by Rita Springer called ‘Love Covers’. It’s out of print these days, and very hard to come by, but the album contains a whole string of the most spiritually-sensitive piano-led worship songs I’ve ever heard. Love listening to that album (or I would do, if only my friend would return it to me!). Another worship beauty is ‘Divine Whisper’ by former Vineyard worship leader (now based in Seoul, South Korea), Scott Brenner. Gentle songs of adoration – utterly heaven-inspired. And then there’s Misty Edwards, one of Kansas City IHOP’s worship musicians. Her album ‘Relentless’ is powerful, prophetic and wonderfully engaging.
3) Any up and coming acts you think are ones to watch, or any good albums from old favourites (g.Stuart Townend, Graham Kendrick)?
Loads of up and coming musicians out there who are worth watching for, including some already mentioned above. One guy who’s been making a big mark on the Scottish music scene is Steph Macleod. Now well-know in his native land, but still undiscovered by many, Steph’s distinctly bluesy vocals and impressive songs are most noteworthy. Or how about Dutch worship musician, Kees Kraayenoord, almost completely unkown in the UK – his album ‘Speak The Word’s is full of ear-catching p&w sounds. Or again, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.
You mention Graham Kendrick. Some of his output in the last ten or fifteen years has been excellent. He kinda went through a period in the late 80s and 90s when his music wasn’t too exciting. But then came ‘What Grace’ – with guest appearances from ‘youngsters’ Martin Smith and Matt Redman. A gorgeous album of diverse worship sounds. He’s done the same thing more recently with ‘Banquet released in 2011. Remarkably it’s his 30th album to date – which makes it all the more impressive that it sounds so fresh and interesting from start to finish. Another worship veteran, Robin Mark’s most recent recording ‘Fly’ is also worth checking out
29th March 2012
The following post is inspired by the recent preaching by Kenny Borthwick at the Church I attend in Edinburgh, Holy Trinity Wester Hailes.
From SermonIndex.net. Articles and Sermons :: How To Be Filled With The Holy Spirit – A.W. Tozer
How To Be Filled With The Holy Spirit – A.W. Tozer – posted by worzle, on: 2008/3/10 10:29
Almost all Christians want to be full of the Spirit. Only a few want to be filled with the Spirit.
But how can a Christian know the fullness of the Spirit unless he has known the experience of being filled?
It would, however, be useless to tell anyone how to be filled with the Spirit unless he first believes that he can be. No on e can hope for something he is not convinced is the will of God for him and within the bounds of scriptual provision. Before the question ‘How can I be filled?’ has any validity the seeker after God must be sure that the experience of being filled is actually possible. The man who is not sure can have no ground of expectation. Where there is no expectation t here can be no faith, and where there is no faith the inquiry is meaningless.
The Doctrine of the Spirit as it relates to the believer has over the last half century been shrouded in a mist such as lies upon a mountain in stormy weather. A world of confusion has surrounded this truth. The children of God have been taught contrary doctrines from the same texts, warned, threatened and intimidated until they instinctively recoil from every mention of the Bible teaching concerning the Holy Spirit.
26th March 2012
Tom Lennie was born and raised in the beautiful parish of Orphir, in Orkney. Earning a degree at Aberdeen University, he worked in accountancy for some years. Though debilitated by chronic fatigue syndrome, Tom has served as a music and book reviewer for many years. With a particular passion for spiritual revivals worldwide, he owns a sizeable library of revival literature of books and journals from all over the world. He presently resides in Edinburgh, where he is working on the next volume of his trilogy on Scottish revival movements. His first book, Glory In The Glen, was released in 2009 through Christian Focus Publishing. To contact Tom or find out more information, please visit http://www.scottishrevivals.co.uk/.
1) Can you name some occasions where music has played a prominent role in a revival?
Music has played a prominent part in virtually every revival I’ve read about.
22nd March 2012
This interesting blog post was taken from Mark Stibbe’s website, http://fathershousetrust.com/, a Christian charity that “brings the Fathers love to the fatherless.” Stibbe is a very gifted writer and speaker, and has a lot of interesting thoughts on fatherlessness.
The Singing Dad
Tue 31st January, 8.57pm
If I was given £5 for every time I’ve heard someone quoting Zephaniah 3.17, I reckon I’d be a rich man by now.
Time and again I’ve heard people recite these memorable words from the Old Testament:
“The LORD your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Reading that, it’s no surprise it’s quoted so often! There’s so much to love here.
I love the fact that my God is with me, that he is not a remote deity whose absence is keenly felt but rather a loving Father whose presence is easily accessed.
20th March 2012
Phil Collins, whether you love him or loathe him, is a good drummer. He just is. Well, in my opinion, anyway. His prog drumming with the band Brand-X is worth checking out, and he also sounds pretty decent laying grooves down for Eric Clapton and the Buddy Rich Big Band. However, he is perhaps most well-known for playing ‘In The Air Tonight’ (as shown below). What does this have to do with ‘Church drumming’ you say? Lot’s. Currently I am writing about it in my book. At this point, I will only say three more words to conclude this brief post. BIG CHORUS. STADIUM. More to follow on the next article. In the meantime, check out Phil’s playing!
18th March 2012
I don’t usually post things about atheism or apologetics, because this is a music website. But it’s a subject you can’t stray from, and I randomly came across this interesting article from J.John’s website, http://www.philotrust.com/.
One inescapable feature of the twenty-first century has been the emergence of what has been called the ‘New Atheism’ – that angry denial of God and religion linked with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens. It is inescapable in the same way that a drunk at a dinner party is – and for the same reasons – embarrassingly loud, resistant to reason and desperately anxious to be heard!
The New Atheism seems to be so widespread that it raises the interesting question of how we as Christians should respond. Some believers have felt moved to attack the ‘New Atheism’ and I appreciate their efforts. I am inclined to take a slightly different position and, in effect, ignore it. Let me give you three reasons why.
My first reason for largely ignoring the New Atheism centres on the interesting fact that it is a belief (or an anti-belief) system that has a hole at its heart. What the New Atheists are against is very clear: God, religion and the supernatural. What is conspicuously absent is what they actually are for. Once you get beyond the furious barrage of attacks on any form of religion all you find are some rather sad statements to the effect that ‘we are alone in the universe’, ‘because there is no ultimate meaning we better make one up’ and when we die ‘all that happens is eternal darkness and silence’. These are not inspiring words and they are matched by a lack of inspiring deeds. There are no grand visionary atheist projects that I know of: no schools for the poor dedicated to unbelief, no humanistic hospitals, no atheistic cathedrals, no campaigns in the name of evolution to put social wrongs right. True, there is a proposed ‘New College of the Humanities’ with very strong atheistic overtones, but with student costs of £18,000 a year it’s hardly going to be for the struggling masses. I mention these things because I believe that it is precisely because of this hole at its heart that the New Atheists themselves desire to be attacked. Skirmishes with religion allow them to hide the fact that beneath their many words there lies a void. They need disputes and frankly I’m not sure I want to give them the pleasure.
Second, I think that despite its title the New Atheism actually has very little new to say. It’s just the old atheism given a makeover and made more aggressive. From what I’ve read and heard of their views New Atheists present no radical new arguments against God or the Christian faith. So, for instance, they present no new manuscripts with archaeological evidence revealing the Gospels to be a fabrication. (Actually, they generally fail to comment on the Gospels except in hasty sneers; perhaps they are aware of the new confidence among New Testament scholars on the historicity and accuracy of the Gospels?) In the area of science – allegedly their strong suit – there is little new. They simply demonstrate the rule that the more you understand about the universe, the more mysterious and puzzling it remains. The reality is that the biggest objection to Christianity remains exactly what it always was: the hard question of how a God of love and power can let sin and suffering occur. It is an objection that needs to be respectfully treated and I can’t do justice to the answers here; but the key point is that it is not a new objection. For centuries Christian men and women who were personally acquainted with far more pain than most of us will ever know repeatedly defended the Bible’s outlook on pain and loss. Let the New Atheists engage with such historic arguments first, rather than have us repeat them.
Finally, it seems to me that to be preoccupied with the New Atheism poses a subtle danger. If atheism must always be on the attack because it has nothing much else to do, the Christian faith is the exact opposite. Yes, we are to defend what we believe, but the New Testament makes it clear that Christianity is far more than disputing about ideas. We who follow Christ are to encourage holy living in ourselves and others, to help mend broken lives and to do justice. That’s our calling and it would be tragic if the New Atheists distracted us from doing that.
So, Richard, I am going to keep on helping people live their lives on the earth and prepare well for their eternity.
12th March 2012
Here are a few books about Worship which I find useful. It is by no means an exhaustive list, but a good starting point.
Bennetts, Neil & Ponsonby, Simon. Now To Him: Putting Christ Back At The Centre of Our Worship. Oxford, England. Monarch Books, 2011.
Best, Harold. Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003.
Bryant, Terl. A Heart to Drum. Eastbourne, England: Survivor Kingsway 2006.
Carson, D.A. Worship by the Book. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.
Frame, John M. Worship Music: A Biblical Defense. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 1997.
Frame, John M. Worship in Spirit & Truth. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 1996.
Hughes, Tim. Here I Am To Worship: A Passion For Your Name. Eastbourne, England. David C.Cook, 2003.
Kauflin, Bob. Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God. Wheaton, Illinois; Crossway 2008.
Keller, Timothy J. Evangelistic Worship. Retrieved from The Resurgence http://theresurgence.com/files/2011/03/22/Evangelistic_Worship.pdf
Mark, Robin. Warrior Poets of the 21st Century: A Biblical and Personal Journey In Worship. Belfast, Northern Ireland; Ambassador International.
Morgan, Robert J. Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories Nashville, Tennessee; Thomas Nelson Inc.
Peterson, David. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992.
Taylor, Justin, ed. (chapter from Bob Kauflin). The Wonder of Words And The Power Of God. Wheaton, Illinois; Crossway 2008.
12th March 2012
Free Church of Scotland College Certificate in Theology/Diploma in Christian Studies: 2011/12
Practical Theology Assignment
In what ways does the incarnation of Christ serve as a model for mission and outreach?
Responding to John Chapter 20 v 21, “As the father has sent me I am sending you”, John Stott writes as follows: “Now he sends us into the world as the Father has sent him into the world. In other words our mission is to be modelled on his. Indeed all mission is incarnational mission.” (John Stott, The Contemporary Christian)
John 1:14 says “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (ESV).” It is perhaps the most well-known verse of the entire Bible about the incarnation of Christ. The ESV Study Bible describes the incarnation as “the most amazing event in all of history: the eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, infinitely holy Son of God took on a human nature and lived among humanity (ESV Study Bible 2009).” Relating this to Christian mission, John Stott says that “all mission is incarnational (Stott 2004)”, as we are sent into the world to proclaim the power of the Gospel as image-bearers of Christ. This essay will take a look at the incarnation of Christ as a model for mission.
The incarnation is Jesus Christ arriving on the earth in human form. Jesus came to announce the Kingdom of God through humble beginnings, and, as Jesus rose in stature (Luke 2:52), He grew in favour with God, and announced that the prophesied Messiah had arrived. Influential evangelical Pastor Mark Driscoll states in his book Doctrine that: “the incarnation is more of a miracle than the resurrection because in it somehow a holy God and sinful humanity are joined, yet without the presence of sin” (Driscoll 2010 pp209-10). In the incarnation, Jesus came to earth in human form, giving up His seat on the throne in Heaven to be with His beloved children on earth. Theologian J.I Packer notes how the incarnation and the Trinity are linked together, describing it as “the Son who came from the Father’s side at the Father’s will to become the sinner’s substitute on the Cross” (Packer 1993 p90).
As God calls all Christians to be missionaries to follow in the pathway of His only begotten Son Jesus and not to the world, questions can be asked as to how we can we be missional Christians and be as bold as Jesus was. Two verses linked comparing worldly living and Christ-like living are: 1 John 2:15 “do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (ESV),” and Romans 12:2: “do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (NIV).” These verses also linked to mission, as two essential traits that Christians need to be disciplined in are found. The first trait is love. Without love for our fellow humans and for God a Christian can not do mission well. The second trait is a renewed mind. Without a renewed mind, one that has been changed from a worldly perspective to a Christ-like perspective, a Christian can not do mission well. When we live out in the power of God, living for His Glory, then we should not fear the world. As Jesus stood boldly declaring the Kingdom and enduring pain on the Cross, so then we as Christians must declare the Gospel boldly through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the book of Acts, the disciples “were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4 ESV). This is a true encouragement to all Christians today of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. As Spirit-filled missionary ambassadors for Christ in a postmodern world, we can boldly proclaim the power of the Gospel, just as the Apostles did in the First Century. Being filled with the Spirit also awakens our heart to the Word of God more, as well as imparting Spiritual fruit and gifts into our life, whilst also rebuking and correcting us. Romans 1:16 says: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” It’s a verse that speaks straight to the heart of mission that Christians are not ashamed of Christ and the power He so freely gives to those who are willing to believe in Him. If as Christians we are to truly believe in God’s power and just as then being filled with the Spirit is again a daily choice that we must make. As Mark Driscoll has quoted, “God revealed that through the power of the Holy Spirit, the followers of Jesus are given the ability to live a life like Jesus by the same Holy Spirit that enabled Jesus” (Driscoll 2007 p129).
J.I Packer in his trademark book Knowing God described the incarnation as the “supreme mystery” associated with the gospel (Packer 1973 p45). This “mystery” is truly something special, and that we all partake in as Christians. When we partake in incarnational mission as Christians, we truly see how to live in the world. We are missional because Jesus was missional. In His time on earth, Jesus spent a lot of time speaking and teaching the Word of God, amazing His followers. He didn’t necessarily perform many miracles of His own accord but they came to Him because He lived out through the love of His Father. When we truly realise who we are as adopted heirs as God’s beloved children, we can have the mindset of Christ. As believers in Jesus, the need for renewed minds and a prayerful, missional heart is a daily choice that we also must make.
A third quality for incarnational mission is what Paul speaks about in Philippians 2, and that is humility. Paul writes: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4 ESV). Humility in the context of mission takes many different forms, from being humble knowing that God is sovereign to honouring other people and caring for them the way Jesus would. The ESV Study Bible describes Christ’s earthly life as “one of continual humiliation. He subtly and selectively revealed his divine glory, even keeping it a secret at times” (ESV Study Bible 2009). So as Christ was humble, then we are to be humble.
Another quality that comes with being missionaries for Christ on earth is being cultural. John Stott in his book The Contemporary Christian writes: “no word of God was spoken in a cultural vacuum; every word of God was spoken in a cultural context” (Stott 2004 p194). Today many evangelical Churches are highlighting the importance of contextualising the Gospel in culture. To use a practical example, one that is making airwaves across Christianity is the emerging Church movement, of which Timothy Keller, Joshua Harris, Mark Driscoll and Matt Chandler are prominent names. Generally known to be charismatic in worship and Reformed in doctrine, these “emergers” are trying to make the Church more relevant, accessible and culturally-connected. This is done through various means, from worship concerts such as the Passion Movement, headed by Louie Giglio, to coffee house evangelistic outreach. The emerging Church is a good example of how to be cultural in mission, where some of their Churches are based in God-less areas of America.
In conclusion, mission is something that we are all a part of as Christians. Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins not so we could go just to Church every Sunday, tithe, and be in fellowship with each other. Jesus died so that everyone could receive eternal life from Him, everyone who freely receives it with open arms. That’s our job as missionaries for Christ, to live for Him, a life full of faith and grace, hope and humility, all led by the Holy Spirit. As image-bearers of God and co-labourers with Him, it is our honour and privilege to serve our Heavenly Father in this way. Wherever our mission takes us, whether it’s to the student in the hallway or the receptionist in the Hospital, God has a purpose for each and every one of us to do mission the way His Son Jesus did it.
Word Count: 1,328
References and Bibliography:
Driscoll, Mark & Breshears, Gerry, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway 2010)
Driscoll, Mark, cited in The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World ed.
Packer, J.I. Concise Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993)
Packer, J.I, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973)
Stott, John: The Contemporary Christian (InterVarsity Press, 2004).
Taylor, Justin & Piper, John (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway 2007)
Thoennes, Erik: Life’s Biggest Questions: What the Bible Says about the Things That Matter Most (Crossway, Wheaton IL. 2011).
Mars Hill Church, Seattle. Religion Saves: The Emerging Church. Retrieved February 10th from http://marshill.com/media/religionsaves/emerging-church
Christianity Today. Young, Restless, Reformed: Calvinism is making a comeback—and shaking up the church. Retrieved February 10th from
Scripture quotations indicated as from NIV are taken from The Holy Bible: New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by International Bible Society.
Scripture quotations indicated as from ESV Bible are taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version Study Bible. Copyright 2001, 2009 by Crossway Bibles, Wheaton IL.
9th March 2012
Robin Mark is one of the most popular worship leaders and Christian singer-songwriters over the past 2 decades. He is best-known for songs such as ‘Days of Elijah’, ‘All for Jesus’ and ‘Revival’. With his distinctive Northern Irish Celtic style (which comes out in his book also), his theologically deep and musical songs are a joy to listen to. The following is taken from his book,Warrior Poets of the 21st Century: A Biblical and Personal Journey In Worship.
“Herein lies a fundamental problem within the Church, when people get upset or wish to assess another church’s or individual’s worship, they will generally comment on whatever outward expression of worship they can see. They will pass critical judgment on the quality of the style of the worship activity that they can observe with their eyes or hear with their ears. That well-worn phrase,
7th March 2012
The following are just a few basic rudiment examples I thought I would put up here whilst trying to figure out Sibelius 7. Enjoy!
Drumming in Church Rudiments – Full Score