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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Never Lose Sight - Chris TomlinNever Lose Sight – Chris Tomlin (Deluxe Edition)

Chris Tomlin is one of my favorite artists. We get the benefit of his music on the annual Passion releases as well as his solo albums. His worship songs are sung by an estimated 30 million people in churches around the world each week, leading some to refer to him as America’s worship Leader. This highly anticipated release is his eleventh studio album and first album of all new non-Christmas songs since 2014’s excellent Love Ran Red.  Tomlin has stated that joy is at the heart of the album because of what Jesus has done for us.

Every well-crafted and performed song on this album is excellent, resulting in what most artists would be proud to have as a “Greatest Hits” collection. It will most likely (short of an unexpected release), be my favorite album of the year.

Below are a few comments on each of the songs on the Deluxe Edition of the album:

Good Good Father – This song was written by Pat Barrett and Tony Brown, and has been recorded by a number of artists, including Housefires. It is probably the most popular song that Tomlin has ever recorded, winning the 2016 Dove Award for song of the year. The single was released a year ago and is still near the top of the Christian charts. The song was also the inspiration for the children’s picture book of the same name co-written with Pat Barrett. 
– Written with Ed Cash, this was the second single released from the album. This is a straight forward worship song about our Savior:
Who walks on the waters
Who speaks to the sea
Who stands in the fire beside me
He roars like a lion
He bled as the lamb
He carries my healing in his hands

Impossible Things – Danny Gokey, a third place finalist on the eighth season of American Idol, joins Tomlin on this song. He recently won the Dove Award for Christmas album of the year for his album Christmas is Here. The songs starts an infectious beat with Tomlin singing over acoustic guitar and drum. Gokey joins him on verse 2 which is from Psalm 23. Our God is with us, we will fear no evil because He does impossible things. This joyful song will be wonderful to sing in a worship service.
Home – Written with Ed Cash and Scott Cash, this song is about longing for Heaven, our ultimate home and where we belong. This is an upbeat, joyful song that opens with hand claps and is instantly likeable. It is based on Revelation 21 and will sound great in concert or a worship service.  
God Of Calvary
– Written by Tomlin, Jonas Myrin and Matt Redman, this is Tomlin’s favorite song on the album. The song takes us from the cross to the resurrection. It begins with what takes place on the cross at Calvary and then moves into a triumphant chorus. We are set free by His wounds and redeemed by His blood. Christ crossed the great divide for us. Redman provided the bridge, from which Tomlin takes the title of the album. He will never lose sight of the cross and Christ. The song then moves to Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

He Lives – This power ballad starts slowly with piano and synth and gradually builds. Christ rose from the grave to life. He lives reigning in power. He lives name above all names. He lives in me. 
Glory Be
– This is an upbeat praise song version of the Gloria Patri. It’s a song from his lips from the time he rises about the Trinity.
Glory be to God, the Father
Glory be to God the Son
Glory be to God the Spirit
All Glory to the One  
Come Thou Fount (I Will Sing) – Like he did with “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)” Tomlin merges a classic hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, written by Robert Robinson in 1758, with some new lyrics. He starts with the hymn over acoustic guitar. The new section is about how God’s mercy yet pursues us, His mercy never fails. Till the day we die we will sing of Him. Features some good backing vocals.    
Yes And Amen
– This song is also featured on Housefires III, and was written by Nate Moore, Chris McClarney and Tony Brown, the latter of which co-wrote “Good Good Father” with Pat Barrett.  He is faithful and all of His promises are yes and amen. Features some good backing vocals. This is one of many songs that will sound good in corporate worship.
All Yours
– This is a worship song about the God of creation. God reigns over all of creation, it’s all His, the earth, sky, the day, the night and every breath we take.  All creation praises him – the mountains, oceans, everything is His. Features a good drum beat as the song builds to a worshipful chorus.  
First Love
– This is a duet with Kim Walker-Smith of Jesus Culture.  It starts with piano and acoustic guitar and slowly builds. Jesus is still our first love and all we are is His. He is our anchor and guiding light and greatest joy. Musically, this is a bit of a departure for Tomlin.

Deluxe Edition Only:
The God I Know – This praise song opens with guitar and drums and builds with a good beat. He sings of God’s goodness and mercy. God will make a way, whatever comes, whatever we face. He is strong to save. He is the Lord and conquered the grave. He works all things for our good (Romans 8:28).      
God And God Alone
– This song was also included in the Passion album Salvation’s Tide is Rising released earlier this year. It is written by Jason Ingram, Jonas Myrin and Tomlin. It opens with an acoustic guitar. It is sung to the Lord that He is forever God and God alone, and forever seated on His throne. Nothing can separate us from the amazing love of the God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39). Every knee will eventually bow down to the Lord.
Kyrie Eleison
– This wonderful song features the vocals of Matt Maher, Matt Redman and Jason Ingram. Their voices merge well on this song that begins with piano and synths. Lord have mercy and Christ have mercy, hear our cry. Let God’s kindness lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Who is this God who pardons all our sins, so ready to forgive? He delights to show His mercy.

these-christmas-lightsThese Christmas Lights – Matt Redman

This is singer, songwriter and worship leader Matt Redman’s first Christmas album.  He is perhaps best known for his song “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”. To help with the songwriting for the record, Redman went on a retreat to Israel. He walked through the old roads that Jesus would have walked, and went to some of the key places where key events of the gospel happened when Jesus walked this Earth. During this time he thought a lot about Jesus coming as a little newborn baby. His intent is not just to tell the story of Christ’s birth, but to make sure we put ourselves in the story as well.

As always, Redman provides us with biblically based worship music that we can enjoy and also sing in corporate worship this Christmas season.  Below are a few comments on each of the songs:

These Christmas Lights – In the title song, he sings of the lights shining bright as the cry of the angels sing for the glory of the King (Luke 2). We need to sing that sacred song again. This is really a prayer that our eyes be opened and our hearts believe that the wonder of that Christmas night be born in us, and that our Christmas lights will shine for Him alone.   
His Name Shall Be – Written with Jonas Myrin. His name shall be Jesus, it’s the name that came to save us. The joyful chorus for this song comes from the angel’s song in Isaiah 9:6 that we can sing now:
His name shall be called Wonderful,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father
Prince of Peace for all eternity oh,
His name shall be
O Little Town (The Glory Of Christmas) – This is a new version of the traditional Christmas hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. It opens with Redman singing with piano, and it gently builds with the help of a backing choir. The glory of Christmas is the glory of Christ and the story of his love.
Angels (Singing Gloria) – This song features vocals from Redman’s long-time friend and occasional collaborator Chris Tomlin. It features keyboard, acoustic guitar, horns and choir. It is based on Luke 2:14 – Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Help From Heaven – This song features strong vocals from British singer and songwriter Natasha Bedingfield who shares lead vocals with Redman. It begins with piano and builds gently with strings, and then powerfully with the help of a choir. Every heart needs a rescue, every soul needs a breakthrough. We all need help from Heaven. The song is a bit of a departure for Redman.
Hearts Waiting (Joy To The World) – This song opens with a hand-clap and a sample of the Christmas hymn “Joy to the World”. The chorus joyfully proclaims joy to the World, the Lord has come to us. It closes with a sample from Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus”, “And He shall reign for ever and ever”.
Glory To You In The Highest (O Come Let Us Adore) – This song features the vocals of urban contemporary gospel singer Tasha Cobbs. It is a song of adoration to Christ, based on Luke 2:14. Christ came to bridge the great divide. To us Christ has been born and to us He has been given. He is the hope of all the earth and the highest name in Heaven. The song builds including a choir and includes a sample of the hymn “O Come All Ye Faithful”.
How Far – This beautiful song has Redman singing with just piano and strings. There is a theme of “how far”? He asks how far is it to Bethlehem where hope was born and sin conquered, and the great divide bridged with perfect grace and sacrifice. How far love has come to bring us home. How far Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem and how far Christ went for Calvary. No greater grace was ever known. No great love was ever seen.  From Bethlehem to Calvary, our hearts will always follow Him. This simple, but powerful song is my favorite on the album.
Glory Hallelujah – This song begins with a heavy beat, piano, guitar and adds good backing vocals. It is simple lyrically, has a live sound, and would be excellent for corporate worship as we raise our voices high to join the angel’s choir singing the praises of our God.
The Name Of Emmanuel – This song looks at God coming as a man. It opens with keyboards as he asks can it be that the voice that said “Let there be light” is now in the newborn cry of the Christ child. He is God with us (Emmanuel). The holy One is one of us.  Can it be that the almighty God who never rests is lying here in perfect peace? It’s the amazing miracle of Christ’s incarnation, Son of Man and Son of God. The song builds powerfully and features good backing vocals that can lead to nothing other than praise.
Holy Night – This song is about the sacred holy night in the fields of Bethlehem that includes a heavenly symphony from the angels. God has come. God’s glory is shining bright on this holy night. It builds with keys, drums and choir. Let Your Glory shine on us just like on that holy night.

music news

  • Winter Jam 2017. Winter Jam 2017 will feature some of my favorite artists – Crowder and Andy Mineo, along with many others. Tickets are just $10. See if the tour is coming near you. If you are in the Midwest, it will come to Peoria, Illinois on February 17.
  • John Fogerty Sings “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. In a tribute to my Cub fan readers, here is one of my favorite artists, John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival), singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at Wrigley Field some years back.
  • In the Studio with Michael Card. I really miss Michael Card’s excellent radio program In the Studio. Check out some of those programs here.
  • The Pains of Humanity Have Been Draining Me. Lecrae offers this open letter to his fans and supporters.
  • I’m Good Video. Here’s another look at the video for Tedashi’s “I’m Good”, one of my favorite songs of the year. Just try to get the chorus out of your head.
  • Good news! Look for new Fernando Ortega music in February.
  • More good news! Trip Lee is back in the studio to make some new music.
Fernando Ortega's home

Fernando Ortega’s home

Trip Lee in the studio

Trip Lee in the studio


  • It’s about confidence, not arrogance. You have to know that you’re the best whether anybody else tells you that or not. Bob Dylan  
  • Congratulations to one of my favorite poets, Bob Dylan, on a well-deserved Nobel. President Obama
  • I started my new album backwards. Started w the last song. Easily my best work to date. Andy Mineo  


Song of the WeekCan’t Stop Me Now (Destination) by Lecrae 

Lecrae recently released this new single.  Regarding the single, he told Billboard Magazine “It started with a journal entry that I then wanted to bring to fruition as a song. It wasn’t intended to be a single. But when people put their ears to it, they said man, people need to hear this perspective. It’s me being raw, real and as transparent as I can be. The loss of lives from Michael Brown and Eric Garner to Tamir Rice and Philando Castile … these men and boys represented people who could be my family: nephews, cousins, brothers. So it grieved me deeply. I found that when I spoke about this, there was a large contingent of people with whom I may have shared similar beliefs in terms of faith. But they were completely on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of sharing my grief for the loss of these lives. So they lashed out and accused me of being political. That drove me to a place of deep despair and depression. What I also found is that a lot of us are wrestling with PTSD. You can’t be exposed to that much death and injustice and walk around unscathed. Layer that on top of losing my cousin to a tragic accident to my DJ passing away to close friends of the family betraying me. All of that culminated in a dark place where I said “God, I don’t know how I feel about any of this right now. And if you’re here, I don’t hear you, see you or feel you.” “Can’t Stop Me Now” was birthed out of that. I’m still obviously affected by it all. But the perspective I have now is, I’ve got to continue moving forward. I can’t let this doubt and despair stop me from speaking out; there’s a legacy to be kept up. People have sacrificed their lives for folks like me to continue pressing on.” Watch the lyric video here.

All those feelings of depression and doubt
You gotta tell them
Go away
You’ve gotta say get out the way
And let them know
You can’t stop me now
And you throw up both hands wave bye
And then you sail awaylecrae
You’ve gotta ride away
Let them know
You can’t stop me now

Last year I was feeling hopeless
I just wanted it to end
People stealing money from me man
I swear I thought that we was friends
And I was so depressed
I was such a mess
I couldn’t shake it off
Another murder on the television
Man somebody go turn it off
I spoke my mind
I got attacked for it
Thought these people had my backboard
Then they telling me I asked for it
I guess I’m just another black boy
And then they killed Tamir Rice
And they just go on with they life
They telling me shut up talking about it
Like I should just talk about Christ
But the truth is I started to doubt God
I started to question my purpose
I started to act out
I ain’t wanna sign another autograph
Or give a fake smile
Doctors told me that my man died
I almost had a breakdown

So tell depression it can fly away
Tell my doubts that they can die today
Imma catch me a wave, sail away
Can’t stop me now
Tell depression it can fly away
Tell my doubts that they can die today
Imma catch me a wave, sail away
Can’t stop me now

All those feelings of depression and doubt
You gotta tell them
Go away
You’ve gotta say get out the way
And let them know
You can’t stop me now
And you throw up both hands wave bye
And then you sail away
You’ve gotta ride away
Let them know
You can’t stop me now

Hey, hey
And recently I found a peace to be
Everything that I was meant to be
This my identity
This what he give to me
This what I’m made to be
My daddy still on that crack
And he might never come back
But I still love the man
I don’t judge the man
I could be on that track
I’m glad that Jesus ain’t American
And that’s the reason why I care again
People started praying for me
And homies telling me I was being arrogant
I quit popping them pills
And even though we get killed
I know that God got a greater plan
For the death and blood that we spill

So tell depression it can fly away
Tell my doubts that they can die today
Imma catch me a wave, sail away
Can’t stop me now
Tell depression it can fly away
Tell my doubts that they can die today
Imma catch me a wave, sail away
Can’t stop me now

All those feelings of depression and doubt
You gotta tell them
Go away
You’ve gotta say get out the way
And let them know
You can’t stop me now
Then you throw up both hands wave bye
And then you sail away
And you’ve gotta ride away
Let them know
You can’t stop me now

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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