Here are a few images captured during Redline Conference this weekend. For those of us fortunate enough to have been there, our lives will never be the same because of King Jesus.
I’m very proud to announce that my amazing, talented, and enigmatic mother – from whom so much of my personality is derived – has officially begun taking new vocal students here in Northern New York.
For those that know about Nina, her diverse musical background, and her history in the greater New York music community, this is an obvious blessing for those in her new home of Jefferson County. Since moving here 10 months ago, I’ve been eager to see what she (and my father) will impart to this region to enrich and beautify the lives those who live here; the joy of appreciating and creating music being just one of those contributions.
For those who don’t know about her, I’m excited to see their response, for she is one of the most talented, enthusiastic, joy-filled people I’ve ever had the privilege to know. And her passion for the arts is certainly one of the main reasons I am thriving as an artist today. I owe her a deep debt of love.
So help me spread the word, if you don’t mind; at the very least, tell those you know in Northern New York about her website. She’s accepting new students at the moment, and getting a terrific response. I’m so excited for her, and for those whose lives will be touched by her just as mine has.
Go make some noise!
My home church, New Life, hosted the first Ignite: Musicians Conference on our campus in Watertown earlier this week on Tuesday. The heart was to invest into the training and betterment of artists and engineers in our county by bringing in high-end, Christian teachers and coaches at no expense to attendees.
The night consisted of two parts: breakout clinics for individual disciplines, and a group clinic on the main stage with the entire team.
We also asked the teachers to come in early so they could offer private lessons to people in the community (*the only paid portion of the event, with payment going directly to the teachers).
I think the event was a win-win, allowing musicians in our region free access to quality training, and giving teachers a chance to impart their skills to willing players along with giving them a revenue stream.
Here are some pics from the event that I posted on Instagram. Enjoy!
My buddies Mike Kim and Nate Cronk just released their new single together, Sing Hallelujah. Go snag the track on iTunes, and watch the music video on YouTube. (You may or may not see a crazy bald white guy in the video). The video was shot on-location at Red Booth Studios in Rochester, NY – shout out to the notoriously good-looking Brian & Kim Moore.
Hope it blesses you and all those you know.
[A worship-painting by Brigitte Schacher]. atelier-du-rivage.ch
A smattering of notable images from our time here in Yverdon.
If you wanted to take over the world, what would your agenda look like?
Try this on for size:
Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions.
Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. Eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms.
Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”
Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.
Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”
Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”
Are these shocking because of how brash they seem? Or is it because the reality of their materialization is a little too close for comfort?
Like, it’s already happening.
These are just eight of the Communist Goals as recorded by U.S. Congressman Albert S. Herlong, Jr. of Florida (Congressional Record Appendix, pp. A34-A35, January 10, 1963). The full list can be found in numerous places on the internet, including here, here, here and here.
It’s taken a while. But here they are. And here we are.
Knowing the enemy’s plan, however, is not only good for staying it off, but for countering it. Just try the inverse:
Support the freedom of press. Submit book-review assignments, editorial writings, and esteem policymaking positions.
Work to serve the public through key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures by creating virtuous content.
Continue affirming American culture by supporting all forms of creative, artistic expression. Eliminate all bad sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute beautiful, graceful and meaningful forms.
Proliferate art connoisseurs and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote beautiful, tasteful, meaningful art.”
Support all laws against obscenity by calling them “morally degrading,” and a violation of human decency and press-worthy virtue.
Build up cultural standards of morality by discrediting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “abnormal, unnatural, unhealthy.”
Promote churches and replace “social” religion with joyful worship of God. Promote the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual understanding and divine experience of the Lord.
Now that’s something to dedicate your life to. It’s called The Kingdom.
I just got in late last night from Europe.
But as a Christ-follower, having one’s life spent on the welfare of others is one of the greatest blessings imaginable.
Speaking and leading worship at the Radikal For Jesus youth conference in northern France is always inspiring. I’ve rarely attended a more spiritually-free gathering anywhere in the world. Nations represented include Scotland, Mexico, Spain, Belgium, Congo and Switzerland.
I managed two quick stops in Madrid and Brussels on this trip too. Always great photo-ops.
Among my favorite moments were the messages, the 4-hour long worship sets, 1 planned baptism and 15 spontaneous ones, and celebrating my 10th year of working with Church Without Walls in Longwy, France.
Here’s my trip in pics.
Today wraps up my third and final day of posting notes taken from the worship song writer’s workshop I sat in on with master song writer Brenton Brown. Of his three points, this was his shortest, but poignant nonetheless.
In fact, I’ll leave it worded exactly as he delivered it.
It Feels Like a Crossword Puzzle
Sometimes writing a song is like trying to fill out a crossword puzzle. Which I suck at. The puzzle says, “Name a five-letter word for a flat service.” After drilling my brain for hours, I decide there simply is no such word. Then in desperation I walk around the house asking people, “What’s a five-letter word for a flat service?”
Man, what didn’t I think of that? Because I wasn’t really dedicated to hunting the word down. I just wanted it easy.
Stop rhyming the last word in a stanza with praise, and name, and grace – there are other words out there that work. Please hunt them down! Work at it!
This is a continuation of my 3-day series on notes taken from Brenton Brown’s workshop on worship song writing at CMS in Buffalo, NY.
It Feels Like Preparing a One Point Sermon
Songs are short. They use 100 words to make a point.
What’s the main point of your song, and the reasons (sub clauses) for the main point? How tightly argued are the successful songs you know/write? The reasons behind them?
How well a song is received is determined by how strong and concise an argument it makes.
To lead people in prayer you need to give them a clear prayer.
Find out what’s not being said doctrinally around you. Because you’re actually responsible for teaching them doctrine in your songs. And even more severely:
People remember your songs long after they remember your sermons.
Ask your teaching pastor where your church is lacking. Writing worship songs shapes the way people think about the Lord – it’s a teaching role.
The first gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was to communicate with people in their own languages. Likewise, how are you pursuing trustworthy communication?
Writing a worship song is composed of three core elements:
1.) Have something worth saying.
2.) Say it in a way people will understand.
3.) Say it persuasively.
Don’t waste one word.
As you come out of a verse, just before you sing the chorus to a song you’re writing, say, “And that’s why I want to say…” Then you’ll have your chorus.
The song Here I Am to Worship has 11 sub-clauses to support the reason to worship right now.
Repetition also serves as a type of sub-clause.
Example: let my life revolve around you, be my focus, be the center, be the most important thing in my life. All saying the same thing, just different ways of saying it.
The Koran is not allowed to be translated; meanwhile Pentecost opened up Biblical (and dangerous but potentially powerful) re-interpretations.
David Wilcox (folk music writer) tries to fill 3 legal pads with a single theme of thought.
Storytelling worship songs are difficult to write, and not popular in pop music (almost exclusively in country, however). But they’re extremely effective. To work in worship, they must encompass a universal theme (Example: I Coming Back To The Heart of Worship: first the music faded, then You searched deeper, now I’m coming back, etc).
Universal themes are essential. During a particular songwriting competition we held back in England, we had one great entry that had a bogus ending: “God you’re amazing / Your power is awesome in the place / You heal your people / And my cousin Dave.”
How to chose your topic? Yes, some songs flow Pentecostally and just “happen” to us; but others we must labor over. Start to think about your songs as you would a sermon: it makes it easier. Like Alister McGrath said about writing sermones, at a certain point in writing a song you’re going to have to study.
Lastly, try lowering your goals as a writer. For example, yes, everyone wants to write a collection of songs in a week that are worthy of recording on a CD; but how about just vowing to write one good song a year – one song you’re really proud of and that stands on it’s own. Now that’s a solid goal.
I had the privilege of sitting in on Brenton Brown‘s workshop on “worship song writing” this weekend at the CMS event in Buffalo, NY. He’s known for writing such memorable choruses as Your Love Is Amazing, Lord Reign In Me and Holy Holy Holy.
Aside from appreciating Brenton’s ability to articulate profound truth with effortless means both with regard to Christianity and in teaching song writing, he’s also an extremely personable man. The first time I ever met him, we were sitting in the VIP trailer at Creation, talking about South Africa, Boy Scouts and family. He didn’t know me, and I didn’t know him; only later would I piece together just who he was.
His points on song writing for churches were profound enough that I felt lead to share them here over the next three days. I hope his words are as inspirational to you as they were to me, and that my notes do his talking points justice. I’ve taken the liberty to expound in places in the hopes of capturing what he was saying and eliminating the “chicken scratch” mentality of the moment I wrote this in.
Enjoy. And write well.
It Feels Like Fishing
Our goal is to help a large group of non-musician people who don’t normally sing at all to worship the Lord with music.
We need to write songs that are easy enough for a large group of diverse people to sing, but interesting enough that people will want to sing them again.
This thing is art. It’s elusive. And songs are like hums:
You don’t find hums, hums find you.
-Winnie the Pooh
To get “found” by a song, you need to find head spaces that inspire you. This is because we’re essentially playing when we make music. It’s important to be in a playful mood when you write. The other head space we write from is pain, brokenness and desperation, and I don’t recommend actively looking for that one.
What things make you happy? What seasons where you most prolifically writing in? Take 30-seconds to think of these things and seasons in your life.
My wife tends to know what mine are better than I do; I love to be around water and to surf. She has always notices that I’m happier when I come home from surfing, and grumpy when I’m not. So she’ll kick me out of the house on occasion to go surf. I tend to write a lot of my songs while I’m sitting on the water. It’s a good head space for me. These are your fishing holes. Find good fishing holes.
Fishing also has a catch and release element to it. You must work an idea until it’s “done” and then put it away. Let’s songs gestate and mature. This practice ensure only your best stuff will come out. If a melody keeps popping back out and getting stuck in your head, it’s a keeper. If a particular lyric or phrase won’t leave you alone, it’s a keeper.
Stephen Covey talks a lot about the Scarcity Mentality and the Abundance Mentality. The Scarcity Mentality says, “Hold on to the precious, few songs you’ll ever get, and don’t share them with anybody, especially don’t share the credit.” The Abundance Mentality says, “There are plenty of wonderful ideas out there that I’ll discover. I need to share them to bless other people, and to let my ideas get refined, regardless of who gets credit – I’ll always have more.”
Write with the door open.
This open door policy will help gain outside perspective. Anyone can critique a song; my mom can tell me when something sucks. But asking other writers for objective input will build your songs.
What’s makes you feel good in this song? And what makes you feel odd in this song?
Remember that when you’re writing a worship song for people to sing, you’re actually contributing to an ongoing conversation between God and his people. What do people need to say to God? (Prayer). And what does God need to say to his people? (Prophetic).
Take 30-seconds to think about the 3 favorite careers you’d love to have. It’s in these personal states of “favorite” that we find the same inspiration to write out of as artists.
I flip the lights on early this morning and I see that people have been hard at work.
It’s under construction.
Someone’s been in the house.
Preparing. Thinking ahead.
Working with others in mind.
Tonight in this house, hundreds of young people will gather to worship Jesus. Some for the very first time.
Their arrival was planned for.
The sacrifice of many for the freedom of a few.
Tonight we’ll meet with God. And turn a house into a hall of homes. Where the Holy Spirit can reside.
It’s just a house. Full of miracles.
We’re expecting the Lord to prove Himself powerful to teens yet again, and our staff is anticipating an even larger attendance than last year. If you can’t make it, then let us know who to contact and we’ll take care of the rest for you; we don’t want to miss anyone.
Here’s the deal:
I’ve learned to take advantage of and exploit every single opportunity I can to get myself and others into the presence of the Lord. My life has been so impacted by corporate gatherings of seeking God that I can’t imagine not trying to do everything in my power to put teens (and adults) I know in similar environments. In fact, I’m convinced God will hold me accountable for the things I failed to promote, and reward me for the endeavors I did.
So here’s the pitch:
1.) You have no idea what Redline is, why you should go, or what flavor of jelly beans you like. I can help you with the first two issues by sending you here; the last one you’re on your own. Sorry. If you, your church’s youth ministry, or teens that you know aren’t yet registered, I’m strongly recommending that you do, they do, and they do. (Nice).
2.) You’re reading this and you don’t live anywhere close to NY. That’s ‘ight. But you probably know someone who does. A crazy uncle in PA, a niece in NJ, an old youth pastor in CT, a pen-pal in Kingston, a grand-daughter in OH, an ex-boyfriend in NH (that you really shouldn’t be emailing, but sending him to Redline might still get him saved, which doesn’t give you license to get all crazy with him again ’cause he needs to grow up in Jesus for a few years first, so lay off). Please tell them about Redline, that includes those of you who live in NY and can’t make it. Help us get the kids Jesus wants into this venue for the last weekend of April; I know you’ll have an eternal reward because of it.
It’s going to be so un-real it’s real.
Bigger, badder, and bodaciouser than last year.
And the guest speakers may actually make up more words on the fly than I do. Which is probably the least of a hundred reasons why peeps should come to Redline.
And if you’d like fancy-shmancy posters and handbills sent to someone, please let me know in the comments section below, and I’ll have someone from the Redline Office Staff take care of it same-day. They’re here to serve you.
And I’m here to provide you with really cool words, like shmancy, bodaciouser, and double-independant uses of the word “they.”
You’re welcome. ch:
Today I live in the United States of America.
Today is Sunday.
Today I was given the chance to freely worship God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit.
I often wonder what it would be like to have been born and raised deaf, only to hear for the first time as an adult, either through a divine miracle or modern technology. Or perhaps blind, only to see later in life. The fact is I don’t cherish my hearing or my vision like that person would.
Similarly I don’t think I cherish what I have at New Life the way a Christian from North Korea would.
Today, worship the Lord as if you couldn’t. Then take note of that person and the way they cry out, lift their hands, dance, celebrate and appreciate the presence of God. Because you’ll need reminding when you forget what you have. ch:
It’s not often that I get to play drums anymore.
I’m rusty, so that’s a liability to a leader.
I don’t have much time to get un-rusty.
And there are better drummers all around me.
But every now and then the forces of heaven and earth align themselves in such away that I get to step up.
Last night I had the privilege of serving one of my dearest friends, Mike Kim, as he kicked off our Momentum Leadership Advance at New Life. The conference is specifically for our over 200 leaders and volunteers – just to bless and encourage them.
Mike made mention earlier in the day that he’s been dwelling a lot on the subject of oil in the Bible. No, not the oil that our political parties are playing with at the expense of our families’ wallets. The anointing oil of the Holy Spirit. And neither you or I can afford it.
Good thing it’s a gift.
Mike truly has the oil of God on his life, and we were all soaking in it last night. There’s nothing quite like prolonged times in God’s presence, waiting on him and delighting in his pleasure.
Many thanks to the rest of the team: Jennifer Hopper, Jacob Widrick, Jason Rodgers, Daniel Gilchrist, David Woodkirk, Tammy Desormo, Joseph Gilchrist, and Tim Desormo.
Probably the greatest moment for me was when my father Peter came up backstage left and started playing the cowbell behind me (pictured below) – something he taught me to do behind him when I was just a boy and he was the drummer. Full circle. Resulted in the best text message ever (below).
Picking it back up this morning with Pastor Pierre du Plessis from The Father’s House in Rochester, NY. ch: