Friday, March 25, 2011


     Being a founding member of Christian metalcore band Underoath, and currently lead vocalist for alternative rock group The Almost, Aaron Gillespie is not the most likely candidate to record a worship album, but that is exactly what he has done with the release of ANTHEM SONG (2011, BEC Recordings).  In the CD booklet he writes: "When time began God had a song; an 'anthem' if you will.  It is a song of truth, life, and ultimate love, which was displayed to us through Christ...Our lives exist to grab a piece of this anthem, the piece God has carved out just for us and sing as loud and as hard as we can.  He alone is worthy to be praised."  Aaron aims to introduce worship music to kids who normally wouldn't be interested in it.
     'Washed Away' is about losing yourself in God: "God we need You so much, let Your glory fall like rain/Till we are washed, washed away in You Jesus/I'm washed away in You."  'We Were Made for You' is a pop/rock song driven by guitar and drums, and is about being sold out for God: "You are God, You are God/We were made for You, just for You/You are God, You are God/We will live for You in everything we do/You are God."  'You are Jesus' contains this simple yet profound lyric: "You are holy/I am dirty/In You I am made clean/You are Jesus."  'All Things' is a pop number telling of how God can transform bad things in our lives into something great: "All things, all things are in Your hands, bright and beautiful/Wise and wonderful/All things are in Your hands." 
     'Earnestly I Seek Thee' is a beautiful ballad that builds.  It is about a desire for intimacy with God: "In life's troubles, sorrows and pain/Earnestly I seek Thee/Fill my soul with peace again/Earnestly I seek Thee."  'I Will Worship You' is slow and highlights a single minded determination to worship God no matter the circumstances: "When I'm losing, when I'm broken/When I'm sinking like a stone and it feels like I'm alone/I will worship You."
     Tracks 9 and 10 are perhaps my favourites.  'You are my Everything' is a straight up rock song with a pulsating rhythm and good guitar work.  This style seems to best suit Gillespie's voice.  'Your Song Goes on Forever' is a ballad of praise: "Your song goes on forever/I will sing my part with my whole heart/Your song goes on forever/I will bless Your Name/I will sing Your praise."
     Overall, ANTHEM SONG is a pretty good worship record for a first attempt, though Gillespie's voice is a bit of an aquired taste.  I'm giving this album a 75%.  I recommend it to fans of Chris Tomlin and Paul Baloche (who co-writes on the album), and the worship projects of Michael W. Smith, Newsboys, and Skillet.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


     Natalie Grant has one of the strongest female voices in Contemporary Christian Music.  Her latest offering LOVE REVOLUTION (2010, Curb Records) is comprised of seven worship songs and five pop songs.
     The album opens with two songs about finding one's identity.  On 'Love Revolution' she sings: "Fading/We're all fading/From who we've become and who we're meant to be/Dying/We're all dying/And wanna believe it's everyone but me/Oh great light of the world help us see/What can save us now."  'Daring to Be' sounds like pop being done by folks much younger than Grant, but she pulls it off.  On it she sings of discovering who she is: "Perfectly safe and complacent/Those are the words Your love's replaced/With fearless and brave, and courageous/Yeah, that's who I am today."
     'Human' is a mid tempo number about making a difference in our world by sharing: "A little love, a little kindness, a little light in this time of darkness."  'Beauty Mark'  has a funky groove to it and gets introspective: "Religious rock stars making a name/So churchified it is a crying shame/But I'll point the finger at nobody else but me/It's time to be the change we need."  'Someday our King will Come" has a rootsy Crystal Bowersox feel to it and is heavy on the percussion.  It is a song of hope for those times when everything seems to be falling apart.
     The worship songs are quite beautiful and rich lyrically and musically.  'Power of the Cross' speaks of the transforming power of Christ's work on the cross: "Once a stranger, now a child/Empty, now filled/Once condemned, now reconciled/Broken, now healed."  'Your Great Name' magnifies the Lord: "Jesus, worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us/Name above all names (Son of God and man)/You are high and lifted up/And all the world will praise/Your great Name."  'Desert Song' written by Brooke Fraser, is about knowing who God is and who you are in Him, and about praising God "when triumph is still on it's way."
     I'm giving LOVE REVOLUTION a 78%.  I recommend it to fans of the pop vocal stylings of Christina Aguilera and Rachael Lampa, and the contemporary worship stylings of Chris Tomlin.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


     I liked this book from the moment I read the title.  I'M FINE WITH GOD...IT'S CHRISTIANS I CAN'T STAND was published in 2008 by Harvest House Publishers.  It is written by Bruce Bickel (an attorney) and Stan Jantz (a marketing consultant) both of whom are believers.  "Every segment of society has its members of the lunatic fringe.  But Christianity seems to have a disproportionately high percentage of them."  This quote sets the tone for this particular book which is a critique of Christians who hold extreme views of one form or another. 
     The authors have a real problem with paranoid Christians, that is, those Christians who only listen to Christian music, only read Christian books, and probably homeschool.  They avoid contact with the world if possible.  This makes fulfilling the Great Commission impossible-that is, going into all the world and making disciples of all men.  The authors also have a problem with Christians who think science is the enemy of God and that most scientists are trying to disprove God.  They rightly point out that to be a Christian you should not have to believe that creation took place over six literal 24 hour days, or that the earth is a certain age.  In addition, they point out that Christians have added to the fundamentals of the faith.  No longer is it enough to believe that the Scriptures are inspired by God and inerrant, you also have to take all of the Bible literally, including the imagery used in the prophetic visions. 
     Bickel and Jantz do a good job of debunking the prosperity gospel, mainly by using the life of Jesus Christ as an example.  Christians are not all meant to be rich and live trouble free lives!  Those who fixate on the end of the world and just when that will be are another target in this book.  Rather than focusing on the end of all time as we know it, we should make the most of the opportunites we have in this lifetime to be a postive influence.   Christians who make terrible movies that are subpar to their mainstream counterparts are not given a pass in this book either.  Christian media should be just as good or better than secular fare, otherwise the world will write it off immediately. 
     Christians who don't study their Bibles, as well as those who only have knowledge about God without having a relationship with Him are also put under the microscope.  The authors spend a great deal of time writing about interacting with non-believers and those of other faiths.  It is time we stop seeing these folks as our enemies, the authors believe.  We need to learn to love all people and be ready to give a reason for our hope (that being Christ) when people ask us, rather than preaching at them.
     This is an important book for Christians to read.  I recommend it to those who love God, but find it hard dealing with their Christian brothers and sisters because of their quirks and quarks.  The Christian community could stand for the kind of thoughtful examination spelled out in this book.  This book also helps separate the fundamentals of the faith from our add-ons and subtractions over the years.  Thanks to Heather Wight for lending me this book.