Archive for the ‘ musical things. ’ Category

Josh Garrels

Original creativity is impossible. It’s impossible because we are products of our culture, which in America, is unfortunately pop culture. I mean, take Pocahontas and Avatar for example; however, I believe that every once in a while, gifted individuals are able to push past this wall of pure creativity-blocking evil, and create something that, at least, maintains the refreshing appearance of uniqueness.

Josh Garrels has a been a constant in this category, at least as I’m calling him to it. His music is different. He is not trying to impress, entice, show off, or conform by being non-conformist, like so many of the modern “indie-folk-rock” groups of today. He isn’t seeking fame and fortune. He’s just trying to create good art. His combinations of melodies, harmonies, choirs, and acoustic instruments (both percussive and melodic) are beautiful. Every track explores a new territory of music, pushing the bounds of both modern and traditional artists and looking for new and fresh ways to communicate age-old truths about redemption and timeless personal love narratives. Okay. Enough. Download his new album. It’s called “Love & War and the Sea in Between” and has 18 songs. … oh, and it’s free.

Click HERE  to download his album.

Music from Mason Jars

Meet “Mason Jar Music.”  I can’t stop listening/ watching this stuff.  It’s art.  It’s beautiful.  Take a couple moments (maybe a lunch or snack break??) out of your busy day to watch some of these videos.  Make sure to watch them in full screen (HD if possible), preferably with your headphones.

If you want to know more about what they do with their music, click here.

Meanwhile, enjoy your break:

am i a soldier of the cross?

Why must Chris Tomlin and Hillsong (no offense) replace this beautiful literature by Isaac Watts?  And please don’t be deceived into thinking it’s about “cultural relevance.”  That’s not viable anymore since outreach is no longer fulfilling its intended purpose, as it use to.  Every member of our congregation knows the songs we sing in church.  They have been playing on repeat for the past 20 years.  I think it’s time to start thinking beyond the silly analogies of our generation such as “if God’s grace was an ocean, we’d all be sinking.

Oh, this song!  My favorite hymn.  What truth and boldness such as I have never seen in any of the worship songs of our time.  I am actually challenged every time I read this.  The “hymns” of our age are few and far between that ever challenge me and my walk.  The members of our churches need theology in their worship.  Christ saturated, challenging, and thought-provoking songs.  Not analogies.  Not emotion.  If our worship services are based off emotional experiences, the church in America will fail.

Experiences run out.  Feed the congregation theology in worship, and you will reap a congregation quenching for more of Jesus Christ.

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease
,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.

Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
By faith’s discerning eye.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thy armies shine
In robes of victory through the skies,
The glory shall be Thine.

-Isaac Watts

“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…” -Hebrews 6:1

a story and a paraphrase

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Azusa Pacific Man Choir of 2008-2009 fame (i'm top left corner with my thumbs up)

The first two weeks of my summer were spent on a tour with Man Choir of Azusa Pacific University fame. The choir has 70 guys enrolled.  Here are two documented days of our tour that I wrote down for you. Why these two? Because they deal with Mormonism. Please read on. VERY fascinating stuff I must say.

Christian Church

Waiting to sing in the Christian Church in Utah

MONDAY
We woke up early. No surprise there. We left for Red Hills Southern Baptist Church in Red Hills, Utah at 9am.  The couple that invited us to the church were graduates of APU. Sweet couple. Well the drive was nice, mainly because I got a bunch of sleep.  It’s hard not to fall asleep to the drone of the highway… oh, and hours of driving. =]  We arrived at 4:30pm pacific time and our performance was at 6:30pm, but in reality by crossing the Arizona/Utah border, we crossed over into mountain time, loosing an hour (AZ doesn’t recognize daylight savings… too bad they’re missin’ out), so it was really 5:30pm. We were way late.  We had an hour to eat, set up the risers and sound system, and get our tuxes on.  Not much time for that, but we got it done just a little past 6:30pm.

This concert was special for a specific reason. Utah is believed to be the Promised Land for the Mormons. Because of the heavy population of the Ladder Day Saints (LDS), these Baptist church members experience a unique type of persecution.  It’s a type of discrimination. Of segregation.  People treat them cruelly and rarely make eye contact with them.  I’m sure the implications of this discrimination are much more far-reaching than you or I can fully realize. I have not yet experienced persecution on any level, so far as I can remember.
Well there wasn’t a whole congregation of people like there was in Arizona, but the few that did show up were full of joy and sincerely thankful for our visit.  They were encouraged that 70 men would come and sing for them. That was an encouraging stop for me. Praise Jesus.

That night we stayed in a Marriott. Again, praise Jesus.

TUESDAY

Waking up early again, we were served a complimentary breakfast by the hotel.  The next stop would be a public high school, which ironically enough was 90% Mormon.  Whatever.   It was interesting to see them respond to our songs. Most of our repertoire doesn’t coincide with LDS theology at all, (which I’ll touch on in a sec)…  but the kids were impressed and responded positively, and ultimately, Christ was proclaimed (Philippians 1:15-18).  The choral director even invited us to sing a few songs for his beginning choir.  Awesome. It was an interesting gesture, and for me, an unexpected one. Thank God that we were so well-received and that we were able to penetrate this Mormon-believing school with the truth of Christ’s Word.

The Marble-Painted, Soft-Wood Pillars.

The postlude to this high school experience was even cooler, for lack of better words.  Man Choir took a tour of the Mormon Temple Square.  THE Mormon Temple Square in the “Promised Land,” aka Utah…=]. Yyyeah. Well, we split into two groups and received a formal tour of the Square grounds.  We got to see the first tabernacle built by the first Mormon pioneers to America.  The entire building was constructed out of a type of soft-wood (the name of the wood escapes me), including the pews and the pillars; however, because the pioneers didn’t like the way the soft-wood looked, they painted the pews to look like hard-wood and the pillars to look like marble. The pillar pictured below is soft-wood, not marble. Weird? Yes. Their completely legitimate justification: They want the temple to look its best for the Lord. Well, I guess, amen to that. We toured a couple more insignificant buildings in the Square, then later ended up with the other group in the Mormon Tabernacle. The way in which the building was designed is unique.  Picture a football field. That’s how long the temple was. A huge organ at the front of the room took up 10% of the building.  Also, the ceilings were designed in such a way to allow the choir and any speaker to speak or sing without the use of any microphones. Perfect audible sound in the entire building.

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The Organ… yep.

When we entered the Temple Sqare, Harold, being the complete smooth talker that he is, talked the elders into letting us sing ONE song in the Tabernacle. Of course we pushed the envelope and sang two. A little background before I go on. First of all, there are unspoken ranks in the Mormon church. The 2nd Organist of the church is higher “ranked” than the elders.  We were singing on the Organist’s practice time; rather, he was allowing us to sing on his practice time.  I believe are second song was Pentatonic Alleluia/Holy, Holy, Holy, and one of the elders realized that it didn’t jive with LDS doctrine. He came up to Harold and said quietly, “Thank you, that’s enough,” and we then sat down. The organist PLAYED the song we JUST SANG (‘Of the Father’s Love Begotten) on the organ! HOW COOL! We gave him a standing “O” and asked him to play another… he agreed to only if we would sing more for him =D!! We agreed. =] WE SANG 5 MORE SONGS!!! Elder’s power usurped by the Organist. That’s God’s legit supremacy for ya. Here’s a few vids of us in the Tabernacle (Listen to both of these all the way through! You’ll miss the cool parts in both. AND listen at the very end of each… there’s about a 3 second delay. That venue was legit):

Now for some Mormon History. =] I’m just going to post this as a summary. I might be wrong on some parts, but you’ll get the general idea. If any Mormons read this, please feel free to correct me.

General Warning: I in no way support or condone or believe any of this history to be true.

Mormon Origins:

  • 13th tribe of Israel – Tribe of Mannaseh
    • Lehi was the prophet of this tribe
  • Israel becomes upset with Lehi’s teaching; Lehi has four sons – older sons included Laman and Lemuel and younger sons included Sam and Nephi
    • Lehi prophesied destruction and captivity of Jerusalem by Babylon
    • Israel didn’t like it -> God told Lehi and family to go to wilderness
  • Eventually, an angel revealed to the 4 brothers that Nephi would be chosen by God to lead family after Lehi’s death
    • brothers didn’t like this, especially Laman
  • After his father’s death, Nephi built a boat and took the whole Lehi family to the Americas, where they established a homeland
  • Lamanites escalate to violence causing Nephi to move his family elsewhere in the Americas
    • family of Lehi was then segregated
      • Nephites
      • Lamanites
  • Nephites eventually became wicked and rebelled
    • civilization dwindled
    • the moment Jesus was crucified, many natural disasters occurred around the world. One bein ghte “dust”-ification of all the Mormon monuments and cities… =|
    • when there were only 2,500 Nephites left, Jesus appeared to them (supposedly one of his appearances after he was risen)

      Jesus appears in the Americas

      Jesus appears in the Americas

  • Jesus then proceeded to spend many days with them
    • organizing the church
    • teaching them the gospel
    • blessing them
  • The last two Nephite were a man named Mormon and his son, Moroni
    • before dying, Mormon documented the history of the pioneers on golden plates
    • Moroni finished the last bit of history after the death of Mormon

This time was known as the “great apostasy” in which no new revelations from God’s prophets were heard, simply b/c there were no prophets (they had all been killed by the Nephites).

  • skipping ahead to 1819, Joseph Smith arrives at the scene
    • 14 years old, mind you
    • couldn’t figure out which church to attend… =\
    • stumbled across the book of James – “if any lacks wisdom…”
  • Smith goes out into the woods to pray
    • encounters 2 figures of light
      • The Father and Jesus Christ  – “the churches he seeks attendance at are false”
  • Smith later encounters the angel Moroni (yes, Moroni became an angel somehow) who give Smith revelations
    • shows Smith where the golden tablets are, which he then proceeds to interpret (by means of divine “inspiration”)
  • After he translated the plates, they go missing

TA DA! The End! Since then, the president’s (likened to the Pope of the Catholic Church) of the Mormon churches have taken liberties to divinely change “rules” of the Mormon church. The most recent rule change: Mormons may now drink caffeine, as long as it is cold. Psht!

Pray for these people. They need to be healed of their blindness to the true trinity known as God. The Alpha and Omega! The only God of everything. The Great and Mighty. Most of all, love them. That’s where true understanding and reconciliation take place, and with this comes the openness to hear the Word of truth! Thanks for reading. Comments?

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