Yesterday was a great day at Journey Church northwest campus. This was our first time at the NW campus. And I have to say, the first impressions team absolutely rocked it! Tasha didn't play, so she came in as an ordinary guest just in time for the service, so I asked her how her experience was. She said it was awesome. Several people greeted her before she ever got through the front door. The signage was great, so she knew exactly where to take the kids, which is a huge deal for us since we're in so many new churches all the time. No problems whatsoever!
Monday, September 28, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Zeke holds a special affinity for his superman jammies ... well, more accurately any kind of hero-related outfit. And when he puts them on, you better believe he takes his role of crime-fighting seriously. And since I've officially been dubbed the Green Goblin since his last stay at Meme and Poppie's house (hmmm...what did you guys watch while they were there?), I'm usually the target of his evil-thwarting escapades.
As I was helping him get ready for bed a few days ago, trying to fend off punches and kicks while simultaneously attempting to maneuver his flailing limbs into the tiny holes they call sleeves, I happened to glance down at the tag and laughed out loud. I guess I can find a little humor anywhere, and this was no exception. But I don't think I'll be letting Zeke know the power that lies in his little blue polyester pants. Because with great power comes great responsibility.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Had a great day this past Sunday at South Pointe Fellowship in Pageland, SC. It's been almost 2 years since we began helping them out during their in-between time without a worship leader. The last time we were there was a year-and-a-half ago, and they are continuing to do a great work down in Pageland. Rev Kev continues to preach the Word without apology and they are seeing lives transformed through the power of the gospel. Great work South Pointe! One of the coolest elements of the morning was witnessing Rev Kev baptize his youngest son, Ben. As a Dad, I was totally engrossed in that moment. My prayer is that one day I'll be in his shoes baptizing my own children.
We had the pleasure of having Zach Griffin along with us. Zach has an amazing heart for worship and for the Lord and is super-talented to say the least.
1. Everlasting God (Brown, Tomlin)
2. Send Us Out (J & T)
3. Draw Me Close (Zach lead)
4. Holy Is The Lord (Tomlin)
5. I Stand Amazed/How Marvelous
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Just got back from Round Oak Baptist Church in Fredricksburg, VA with my dad. Had a great week of ministry. We finished up last night with a bang. Dad and I did "All That Glitters" live. It turned out pretty good, although I knew what the songs should sound like with the full band. But the acoustic version sufficed I guess. (Apart from the guy doing the singing :) But the Lord used it nonetheless and there were about 6 young people who committed their lives to Christ. It was a great way to finish up the week.
One of the highlights of the week for me came in the most unexpected way by a 10-year old boy named Graham. Graham was one of the boys saved last night. But earlier in the week he approached me with a sheet of paper in his hand, explaining that he had written a song for me. Here's what he said:
During your song tonight, you said everyone should have a song. Here's my song that I wrote after revival tonight:
"The Everlasting God"
By Graham Parker, age 10
The Everlasting God in heaven will defeat Satan at the end of the earth;
During our time on the earth, we shall rejoice God's name.
The Everlasting God will never end and He shall win the war against Satan.
Jesus will come back down to the earth and it will end;
But the Christian life will never end.
And the Mega Almighty will never, ever end;
And the Mega Almighty will never, ever end.
Thanks so much Graham. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and I hope you write hundreds more of these.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Fredricksburg, VA is known for its lush history--battlefields, war memorials, etc. Last night after the worship service, a couple from the church took us to experience one small piece of that history--a local landmark--a capstone of society--an ice cream place called Carl's that's been in operation for decades. I had the mapelnut sundae. Arguably the best sundae I've ever had. Ever heard of this place? If you're passing through Fredricksburg, you're gonna want to check this place out!
Monday, September 14, 2009
This week I'm doing ministry alongside my dad at Round Oak Baptist Church outside of Fredricksburg, VA. We had a great day of ministry yesterday, and we'll be here through Wednesday night.
This morning I went out to get me and dad some coffee. Can you guess whose is whose?
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
I came across this great resource for songwriters recently as it was emailed to me from a friend at Brentwood-Benson.
10 Traits the Top CCLI Songs Have in Common
- Marty Nystrom
About Marty Nystrom:
Marty Nystrom is a songwriter, best known for As The Deer, which has been a mainstay for years in CCLI’s lists of Top 100 Worship Songs. In the CCLI Copy Report results from February 2008, As The Deer was listed at #41.
1. How Great Is Our God – Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Ed Cash
2. Blessed Be Your Name - Matt & Beth Redman
3. Here I Am To Worship - Tim Hughes
4. Open The Eyes Of My Heart - Paul Baloche
5. Shout To The Lord - Darlene Zschech
6. Holy Is The Lord - Chris Tomlin, Louie Giglio
7. You Are My King - Billy Foote
8. Forever - Chris Tomlin
9. Lord I Lift Your Name On High - Rick Founds
10. Come Now Is The Time To Worship - Brian Doerksen
(CCLI US February 2008 Survey)
Christian Copyright Licensing Inc. releases a biannual list of the top 25 worship songs used by churches in America. This list is an indicator of those songs that have crossed denominational and worship style lines. As a songwriter I have studied this list closely through the years. Not only have I watched it for worship trends but also for song elements that have remained consistent regardless of changing musical styles. Here are ten traits that are important to the success of these classic worship songs.
1. Universal Theme
A successful lyric will be an existing sentiment in the hearts of worshipers from a broad audience. A song on the top of the CCLI list is there because its theme remains true to worshipers regardless of age, denomination or cultural background. Lyric phrases such as “How great is our God” and “Forever God is faithful” are relevant and honest expressions for all believers. A lyric should not require an in-depth Bible study before it can be appreciated.
2. Lyric Consistency
A strong song will have a theme that remains consistent through all of its sections. The lyrics in the verse will support or build on the topic stated in the chorus. A strong song will not wander from idea to idea. The second section of “Open the Eyes of My Heart” begins with “To see you high and lifted up.” This is an effective transition tying the sections together. The verses of “Blessed Be Your Name” bring more understanding to the message and encourages us to sing the chorus with even greater passion. A good question to ask, can the theme be stated in a word or short phrase?
Prosody in song writing refers to the perfect marriage of music and lyric. Not only should each compliment the other but will ideally bring out the best in its partner. When heard alone, does the music incite the same emotion or message that the lyric expresses? The pitch, rhythm, tension and energy in the melody married to the lyric “Shout to the Lord all the earth…” is an example of effective prosody.
4. Lyric Originality
The lyricist of a classic song finds a fresh way to express an old thought. Lyrics like “You stepped down into darkness” and “He wraps Himself in light” paint a picture in the mind’s eyes making the message memorable without being overly poetic. A lasting song will include words, phrases, and rhyme pairs that have not been overused and that cause a lyric to be predictable and trite. A good lyricist will seek out scriptural truths and make them accessible to the worshiper.
Right-brained creative types love to break the mold and free themselves from the restraints of musical structure. Before abandoning traditional song forms writers should remember that their audience is made up mostly of “left-brainers.” Their minds will be seeking a clear picture of how a song is ordered. They will not be satisfied if it leaves them feeling unsettled or disjointed. All of the CCLI examples contain solid song forms and are built with sections that are so distinctive that there is no question where the verse ends and the chorus begins.
6. Musical Interest
Songs included on the top of CCLI’s list are often included on instrumental recordings based on the merit of their musical interest. A great song will have a melody that is easily recognizable apart from its harmonic and rhythmic accompaniment. It will have musical integrity enough to be appreciated by musicians of all levels and will introduce new musical ideas with each section.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for the writer of praise and worship music is to find the balance between originality and usability. How do we introduce new musical ideas while keeping the song playable and singable for the local church? “Lord I Lift Your Name on High” has been high on CCLI’s list for many years. Apart from being an inherently strong song, it has lasted because its chordal simplicity makes it approachable for any church band.
8. A Well Placed Title
Ideally a song should never leave a listener wondering what the title is. The title should be unique, repeated appropriately and set in strong places within the song. “Here I Am to Worship” and “Come Now is the Time to Worship” place the title as the opening line of the chorus. “How Great is Our God,” “Blessed Be Your Name” and You Are My King make use of repetition. “Forever” and “Lord I Lift Your Name on High” end the chorus with their titles.
9. Balance of Repetition and New Ideas
Life is made up of the familiar and the new. Human beings love both as long as they are kept in balance. The same is true in song writing. Too much of a good thing can make a song boring. An overabundance of new ideas can cause a song to ramble. Songwriters repeat words, phrases, melodic motifs, and chord progressions to bring a sense of coherence to their song ideas. It’s not hard to find examples of these techniques in all of these top CCLI songs.
10. Effectiveness in Worship
I’ve saved the most important for last. The primary reason these songs are so beloved by Christians world-wide is simply because they are effective in helping worshipers exalt Jesus. Rather than drawing attention to themselves as musical works, these songs have been proven to incite worship in the hearts of people around the globe. This above all is what determines which songs will span generations.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
I just uploaded a new demo today called "Broken." You can hear it on our MySpace. Or you can download it by going here. It was one of those songs that just kinda came out of nowhere and had no particular person in mind when I wrote it. But maybe somebody out there needs it. Maybe I'll need it myself someday. Go download it and let me know your thoughts.
While the tides of change keep rising on this world's shore
And the waves of pain keep crashin' on your front door
And the tears You cry never clarify
Why the world seems blind to the Hell inside
Oh, it's hard to see through a broken heart
It was a bitter storm that weathered hard inside you
And these hollow caves you call your eyes remind you
That where bitterness and hatred rest lies a ticking bomb and an early death
Oh, it's hard to see through a broken heart
Oh, and you can't see the light
Cause your faith is lost in sight
While these sands of time keep droppin' in a straight line
And your heart of stone keeps sweatin' for a mainline
Brother, don't lose heart, there's one who knows
He's the Great High Priest and the King of old
Oh, and He died alone with a broken heart
And He died alone to heal your broken heart
Friday, September 04, 2009
Here's a little flashback for ya. Anybody remember Turbo-Teen? I used to love this show. It was about a teenage kid who turned into a car--kinda like Transformers, only not quite as cool. But still awesome!! And unbelievably it only ran for 1 season between 1984 and 1985.
My Dad had a routine every Saturday morning with his boys. We'd wake up and he would meet us in the living room with pillows on the floor and we'd turn on Turbo Teen, the A-Team, Transformers, etc. and watch glorious cartoons until about lunch time. Then, he'd set off with a couple of buddies from church and spend all afternoon visiting folks in their homes and sharing the Gospel. For me Turbo-Teen is an icon of an era consisting of quality time with a Dad who greatly loved his kids, and yet always found time to share the most important message the world has ever known.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
For the past several weeks I've been obsessing over a game called "Fantasy Football." I've been planning my strategy for the live draft that we had last night. I've been pumped up like a kid at Christmas. And then God, in his ironic, timely way, woke me up this morning with this email from Voice of the Martyrs explaining what our brothers and sisters in Pakistan have been doing lately. As I've been preparing for Fantasy Football here in the good ole U.S. of A., here's what they've been up to:
When the rumor was broadcast from the loudspeakers on the minarets of local mosques, it became fact. As part of a wedding ceremony, the loudspeaker shouted, Christians tore pages from a Quran. Then they compounded the disrespect by walking on the shredded pages.
"Defend Islam!" The loudspeaker called. Muslims answered, rampaging through a Christian section of Gojra on Aug. 1. Eight Christians were killed, including women and children. More than 100 Christian homes were burned by a mob. The mob, which was estimated to be more than 20,000 people, also burned a church.
Five Hours Without Help
Emergency personnel did not reach Gojra for more than five hours. Christians were forced to use vegetable carts to move their dead and wounded to the hospital.
Responding to an international outcry, Pakistani government officials have now said no Quran was desecrated. The government promised to help rebuild the burned homes of Christian families.
Even before the government acted, contacts of The Voice of the Martyrs were in Gojra, offering comfort to the wounded and praying with the families of the dead. They continue to aid the village, including helping with some medical expenses, offering encouragement and pressing for a forceful government response.
Pray Blasphemy Laws Are Overturned
Christians in Pakistan hope these attacks can be a turning point. They are praying to God and pressing their government to overturn unjust blasphemy laws that are often a pretext to attack Christians.
They are also asking us to pray with them. Pray for Christians in Pakistan to be bold witnesses for Christ, despite threats. Pray for those wounded and left homeless by the brutal Gojra attacks. Pray for Muslims to come to know Jesus Christ in a personal way.
Boy, am I lame.