Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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My Reflections of the 2019 Gospel Coalition National Conference

Last week my wife Tammy and I attended the 2019 Gospel Coalition Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. This was the first time we had attended this particular conference and it was a wonderful experience. Logistically, there are a number of hotels nearby the Indianapolis Convention Center (ours and others had walkways from the hotel to the convention center) and more than 200 restaurants in the surrounding area. About 7,200 people from around the world attended the conference, which had a theme of “Conversations with Jesus”. Each of the main messages was from a passage in the Gospels in which Jesus was interacting with people.   The video of all main sessions, and audio of all other sessions are available for FREE here:

There was definitely an international flavor to the conference, as it was emphasized that the Gospel Coalition is not just a U.S. organization. There was a conference bookstore with thousands of titles at discounted prices (check out the Gospel Coalition’s new online bookstore), and an exhibit hall with in excess of 100 exhibitors representing ministries from around the world. A conference app was valuable in helping us to navigate the convention center and conference sessions.

The conference started with pre-conference sessions on Sunday evening and Monday morning, with the first main session beginning Monday afternoon. In addition to the eight main sessions, there were three breakout sessions you could sign up for. In addition, there were auxiliary events early morning, during meal breaks and late in the evening. Needless to say, we were pretty tired when we returned to our hotel each evening.

In addition to the excellent teaching, a highlight was the worship led by Matt Boswell.
We also enjoyed running into a lot of friends (from our presbytery, from ministries we support and one of my former professors from Covenant Seminary).
It was a great experience and we can’t wait for the 2020 Gospel Coalition National Conference.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from some of the sessions I attended. Continue reading

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rolling-stones-blue-lonesomeBlue and Lonesome – Rolling Stones


In their first studio album in eleven years, the Rolling Stones return with an album of twelve mostly Chicago blues covers, the type of music that they cut their teeth on when they started out. Having been largely introduced to the blues by my brother-in-law, I really enjoyed this album; it was one of my favorites for 2016. To read more about the blues music from a Christian perspective check out Stephen Nichols book Getting the Blues: What Blues Music Teaches Us about Suffering and Salvation.    

This wasn’t the album that the band intended to record. While in the studio to record new material, they would play a few old blues songs to warm up. They had so much fun playing them they recorded this album with co-producer Don Was last December over just three days. As an added bonus, Eric Clapton, who was recording in the studio next door, came over and played guitar on two of the songs. Overall, the album feels like a labor of love for the Stones, who are joined by bassist Darryl Jones, who has been playing with the band since 1993, and pianist Chuck Leavell.

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

Just Your Fool – This song was written by and recorded by Buddy Johnson in 1953 and a Chicago blues version recorded in 1960 by Little Walter. This is the first of four songs on the album credited to Walter, a large influence on Jagger’s harmonica playing style. It’s Jagger’s harmonica that is the first sound you hear on the album. Richards’ and Woods’ guitars and Watts’ drums propel the song along. A great start to the album.
Commit a Crime – This song was recorded in 1966 by Howlin’ Wolf. It later showed up (titled “What a Woman!”), on 1971’s London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions, which included Stones Charlie Watt and Bill Wyman. The song features some great guitar work as Jagger spits out that a woman poured poison in his coffee. He’s gonna leave her before he commits a crime. Jagger adds some excellent harmonica work here.
Blue and Lonesome – This slower sad song was recorded in 1959 by Little Walter. It again features Jagger on harmonica, who Richards once referred to as probably the best blues-harp player that he had ever heard, up there with Little Walter.  The song also features some excellent guitar work.
All of Your Love – This song was Magic Sam’s debut single in 1957 as “All Your Love”. He updated and retitled the song “All of Your Love” in 1957, just before his death from a heart attack at age 32. The slow blues song opens with some excellent guitar work and beat provided by Watts and Jones, which sets the pace for the song. Leavell adds some tasty piano work in the middle of the song and Jagger adds a brief harmonica solo before the song ends with a guitar solo.
I Gotta Go – This song was recorded in 1955 by Little Walter with the Jukes. The song opens with Jagger on harmonica and gets going right away, propelled by Watts’ drumming. It’s a real toe-tapper, and it’s impossible to stay still listening to it. He’s got the blues and he can’t stay here no more. A great take on the song. One of my favorites on the album.
Everybody Knows About My Good Thing – The newest cover on the album, this slow blues song was recorded in 1971 by former Mighty Clouds of Joy member Little Johnny Taylor. The song opens with great slide guitar work from Eric Clapton, which makes this song another highlight for me. While the focus in on the guitar work, I also enjoyed Leavell’s piano.
Ride ‘Em on Down – This song was a 30’s era original by Delta blues legend Bukka White, then titled “Shake ‘Em On Down”. It was recorded with this title in 1955 by Eddie Taylor. It starts with some great guitar work, and a driving beat from Watts, which sets the pace for the song. The song features a blistering guitar solo mid-song and a harmonica solo from Jagger near the end.
Hate to See You Go – This song was recorded in 1955 by Little Walter. He got his start in Muddy Waters band before going solo in 1952. He would die at age 37 and is the only artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame specifically as a harmonica player. The song immediately grabs your attention with a driving beat propelled by harmonica, guitar and drum.
Hoo Doo Blues – This song was recorded in 1958 by Lightnin’ Slim, a good example of his stripped down, swampy style. The song opens and features Jagger on harmonica, and the slower beat is driven by Watts’ drumming and Jones’ bass.
Little Rain – This song was recorded in 1957 by Jimmy Reed. The Stones have long admired Reed, having covered his “Honest I Do” on their first album. This is a slow blues song featuring some excellent guitar work before the bass and drum kick in behind Jagger, who adds a lengthy and restrained harmonica solo.
Just Like I Treat You – This song was recorded in 1961 by Howlin’ Wolf as the B-side to his single “I Ain’t Superstitious”.  It starts out with a great beat right from the start, and amazingly sounds like it could fit nicely on a mid-1960’s Stones album (reminding me of 1964’s “It’s All Over Now”). It features some nice guitar work, tasty piano from Leavell along with some harmonica work from Jagger. One of my favorites on the album.
I Can’t Quit You Baby – This song was written by Willie Dixon for Otis Rush, who recorded it with him in Rush’s first sessions in 1956. You may recognize it as a heavy blues cover from Led Zeppelin’s debut album, which they built off Rush’s 1966 version. This slow blues song begins with a guitar and the bass drives the slow beat. He can’t quit her but he’s gonna have to put her down for a while. The song features some excellent guitar work from Clapton, and Jagger offers some of his most expressive singing on the album. Continue reading

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hits-deep-liveHits Deep Live – Toby Mac

Eight years after his Grammy winning live album Alive and Transported, Toby Mac returns with another high energy live album Hits Deep Live recorded at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City, Louisiana. The 16 songs (64 minutes of music), are pulled primarily from his last two albums 2015’s This is Not a Test (9 songs), and 2012’s Eye on It (4 songs). There are also 2 songs from 2010’s Tonight and one song from 2007’s Portable Sounds.

Having seen Toby play many of these songs live, I’m convinced that his music is best experienced live in concert, and the sound quality here is excellent. He is backed by his Diverse City band and joined by several special guests – Colton Dixon, Britt Nicole and Hollyn. For “Love Feels Like”, former D.C. Talk bandmates Michael Tait and Kevin Max are not present, but their voices from the recording of the song are included, giving the feel of a live reunion.

With Hits Deep Live you get excellent songs performed well in a live setting, which adds to the energy. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I always thought that “Feel It” would sound great live and it doesn’t disappoint here.

This will be appreciated by Toby Mac fans and would also serve as a good introduction to the artist for those wanting to check out his music.

trip-leeThe Waiting Room – Trip Lee

This 10-song mixtape is the multi-gifted (musician, author, pastor) Trip Lee’s follow-up to 2014’s excellent Rise, and it gives us some new music until his next full-length studio album, which he has said will be coming soon. The mixtape features excellent writing and musicianship, weighty topics, and some familiar friends (GAWVI, Tedashii, Alex Medina, etc.).

As far as the title, Lee has said that he wanted to give us music, a soundtrack that feels like the world we live in. One of the themes that kept coming up for him was how much waiting we have to do in this life. Themes of waiting, longing for God to heal him, what’s it’s like to be a Black man at this time in our country, and longing for Heaven come through in these ten excellent songs.

Below are a few comments about each of the new songs:

Continue reading

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For Music Lovers

Passion - Even So Come

Even So Come – Passion (Deluxe Edition)
Each spring I look forward to the release of the latest Passion Conference album. This year’s album Even So Come, featuring twelve songs, was recorded live at three separate Passion gatherings in front of more than 30,000 college students (Passion’s focus is students ages 18-25), at Phillips Arena in Atlanta and the Toyota Center in Houston. The album features the usual Passion gang – Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Crowder, Kristian Stanfill, Brett Younker and new entry Melodie Malone. Tomlin and Stanfill each get four songs and Crowder three. The music tends to be a combination of worship ballads and high energy worship songs which are easy to get stuck in your brain after just a few listens. There are a number of excellent songs and performances on this year’s album.
I purchased the Deluxe Edition of the album which includes four songs recorded at a late night acoustic session. It features three well known worship songs: Tomlin’s “We Fall Down”, Redman’s “The Heart of Worship” and Crowder’s “How He Loves”, along with Stanfill’s cover of the hymn “It is Well”. The Deluxe edition also includes videos of the Redman and Crowder songs. Unlike past Passion albums, this year’s does not feature one of Louie Giglio’s sermons, which was fine with me.

Here are a few thoughts on the twelve songs on the standard edition:
“Even So Come” – Chris Tomlin. One of my favorite songs on the album. This reminded me of Tomlin’s excellent “At the Cross (Love Ran Red)” from last year’s Passion album Take it All. The song went a bit long, but an upcoming studio version may tighten it up a bit.

Like a bride,
Waiting for her groom,
We’ll be a church,
Ready for You,
Every heart longing for our King,
We sing…
Even so come,
Lord Jesus come

“Shout Hosanna” – Kristian Stanfill. This song has a big sing-along chorus and pounding drums.

The same power that rolled the stone away
The same power alive in us today
King Jesus we call upon your name
No other name

“Forever” – Melodie Malone. Passion newcomer covers the Kari Jobe song. Malone’s powerful vocals on this songs makes it one of the highlights of the album.

“Lift Your Head Weary Sinner” – Crowder. A live version of a song from his excellent Neon Steeple album.

“Draw Near” – Kristian Stanfill. This is one of those worship songs in which lines are sung over and over (and over and over). At eight minutes in length it’s probably my least favorite song on the album.

“The Saving One” – Chris Tomlin. Another wonderful song from Tomlin that will be great to sing in worship services.

Your love is amazing
Grace never fails me
You are the saving one
You reach from the heavens
Hope of the nations
You are the saving one

“The Awesome God You Are” – Matt Redman. I can’t get enough of Matt Redman’s music. The only disappointment is that this is the only new song of his that is included on the album.

God, let hope arise and faith
Become the fortress of my heart
I will lift my eyes and see You as
The awesome God You are

“My Anchor” – Christy Nockels. The only song on the album from Nockels. This song will be included on Let it Be Jesus, her upcoming live album recorded at the Passion City Church in Atlanta.

“Wonder” – Crowder. I love Crowder’s music and enjoyed this new song, the chorus of which is a reworking of my favorite hymn. This is another of my favorite songs on the album.

Oh Lord my God
When in awesome wonder
Sing my soul
Your song again
Oh Lord my God
When I’m lost in wonder
Sing my soul
How Great Thou Art

“The Way” – Brett Younker. He follows up “Burning in My Soul” from the Passion: Let the Future Begin album with this high energy song.

“You Found Me” – Kristian Stanfill. This song was written by Matt Maher, Jason Ingram, Brett Younker and Stanfill. It’s another high energy sing-along song.

“The Cross of Christ” – Chris Tomlin. The album closes with the most upbeat of Tomlin’s three new songs. It’s a wonderful song that is probably already being sung at contemporary worship services.

It is the cross my only plea
The blood He shed delivers me
Our Savior’s arms are open wide
A love so great
The cross of Christ

Rise - Trip LeeRise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story by Trip Lee. Thomas Nelson. 240 pages. 2015
*** ½

Trip Lee is barely 27 years old. And yet he has released five popular rap/hip-hop albums and now two books. He was a Pastoral Assistant at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C., where Mark Dever is the senior pastor, for four years, and recently moved to Atlanta to plant a church in Atlanta.

The foreword of the book was written by John Piper. Piper writes “One of the main things I like about Trip Lee and his book, Rise, is the interplay of reverence and relevance.“

Trip writes that this book is written for those who are young, to give hope to those who feel they have little to contribute. He states that it is written with the conviction that when a young person sees the glory of God everything changes. They Rise! He wants the book to be one that skeptics and seekers can enjoy and understand as well.

The book is split into three main sections: getting up, growing up, and pointing up:

  1. Getting Up: This section talks about what it means for each of us to embrace our role in God’s story and rise to the calling.
  2. Growing Up: This section talks about how to grow in the roles God has shown us.
  3. Pointing Up: This section talks about how our rising points people to the glory of the God who raises people from the dead.

The book is a quick read and contains subjects that young people will easily relate to. I highlighted a number of passages in the book and would like to share some of them with you below:

  • We were made to be mirrors perfectly reflecting God’s goodness, but with sin that mirror was fractured and the reflection is distorted.
  • The myth of procrastination is that it will somehow be easier later. The truth is, it’s never easy, and putting it off only makes it harder.
  • There are several problems with writing off young people. One of them is the strange assumption that for some reason God can’t get glory from young people.
  • What do we do about those people who think we’re worthless? Be an example for them.
  • It’s powerful to see a young man in his early twenties who would rather spend time with God’s people than go to a club. It’s powerful to see a young man fighting to remain sober. It’s powerful to see a young woman finding her identity in Christ and not in what others think. What an amazing picture of God’s grace.
  • Have you ever thought about how disastrous shortsightedness can be in our lives? Too many of us are trying to live our lives with no regard for what happens later. We have to think big picture. Every decision we make is a small piece of a larger puzzle. And without looking at the big picture for reference, we’ll place the pieces incorrectly every time.
  • When it comes to morality, all of us have bad taste. None of us is born with natural moral sense. None of us has that perfect combination of heart and deeds. Instead, we’re repelled by good things and attracted to the wrong things. Because of this, when we don’t get to take part in wickedness, we feel like we’re being left out. We feel like we’re missing out on the fun. But we have it exactly backward. Strangely, we complain about missing the chance to waste our lives. That’s like complaining about being spared in a deadly hostage situation.
  • Does God want you to have a boring life? To answer yes is to say something untrue about Him. He’s the Creator of life, and it’s tragic to suggest that He might not want you to enjoy it.
  • God doesn’t try to keep us from good things; He’s the giver of all good things. He’s the source.
  • When we focus on the wicked, it seems like they have everything. But when we look at our God, we see the truth. He’s all we need.
  • There are no super-Christians, only regular Christians denying themselves and embracing their Lord. When was the last time you said no to yourself? Denying self isn’t a one-time thing, but a daily task.
  • There are really only two ways to respond to Jesus: you can deny yourself and follow Him, or you can deny Him and follow yourself. Who do you think is the better leader?
  • Scripture treats time less like an entitlement and more like a treasure. The Bible talks about time as if it’s a loan from God that we should invest well. Everything we have belongs to God, including our time. We should invest it well, putting it where He tells us to instead of robbing Him and chasing what we think will satisfy us in the moment. We should be thinking carefully about how to spend every moment for the glory of God. You should invest your time in things that have an eternal impact. You should spend your time loving God and loving others.
  • One of the most important things I learned early on is that everyone is a theologian; some of us are good ones and others of us are bad ones. What I mean is that all of us have an understanding of who God is. Some have accurate pictures of Him, and others have inaccurate pictures.
  • Build your life on the Word of God. And I don’t mean just declare that you think God’s Word is true. I mean dedicate yourself to it. Meditate on it day and night. Do what God says. Building your life on the Word of God is an ongoing process, not a one-time thing.
  • Another key to going deep is finding a good church.
  • This obsession with others’ approval has the potential to poison every thought we have, every decision we make, and every assessment of ourselves. It turns opportunities to glorify God into opportunities to glorify self.
  • Social popularity is fickle and temporary. But acceptance by God through Christ is rock solid and eternal.
  • One of the quickest ways to ensure compromise is to obsess over what other people think of you. Sooner or later, the obsession with approval will make you do something that grieves God—all so you can please other people.
  • God has given us one another to help fight our sin, but we often hide from each other in shame. That’s an understandable response for those who are still exposed and vulnerable to judgment. But our sin has already been covered, so we have no need to hide it. Why hide a bill that’s already been paid?
  • As you read this, you may have some serious unconfessed sin in your life. Please remember this: Confession of sin is your friend, not your enemy. Confession of sin can only be perceived as your enemy if you have a goal other than God’s glory.
  • Every time I confess my sin to another Christian, he has some sin to confess to me as well. Confessing your sin encourages other Christians to do the same. And it reminds all of us of our need for Jesus.
  • My first lessons about sex came from R&B albums.
  • I know sex is a good thing, and treating sex as a disgusting thing to be avoided is unacceptable. It’s one of the greatest, most enjoyable gifts God has given us. My problem is the way the world celebrates sex.
  • Sex is meant to be a physical expression of a greater reality: the coming together of a husband and wife in marriage.
  • Sex is beautiful, but outside of marriage it loses everything that makes it that way. Marriage itself is a symbol of an even greater reality: Christ’s love for His church.
  • Sex outside of marriage is a perversion of God’s gift. We are sinners, and our sinful hearts distort everything, including the great gift of sexual desire. Thus, lust is the horrible disfiguring of our sexual desires, turning a good man into a monster.
  • It may be more common for guys, but it’s not rare for women. There are many women who struggle with porn, and the more we pretend it’s only a male problem, the less women feel comfortable talking about it. This is an everyone problem. It seems to have affected all of us. It’s rare to meet someone who hasn’t been touched by its devastating effects. And I’m not just speaking about the nonbelieving world. This is a dark struggle for many Christians. The difference has to be that we fight. And our God has given us the power to do so.
  • At the root of our porn problem is discontentment with God’s plan for our sexuality.
  • Some of us need to delete our social media apps because idle clicking always leads to the same place. We need to tell our friends all our dirt. We need to get accountability software. We need to get rid of our laptops and phones. Are you willing to do the drastic things you need to do?
  • There is no halfway or lackadaisical way to fight lust. If you’re not fighting your sin, you’re befriending your sin.
  • My goal is not to say that the younger you get married, the more holy you are. I just want to dispel the myth that we should delay adulthood and only consider marriage after we’re thirty or older. Whatever age you are, seek to view marriage the way God does.
  • This isn’t to say our peers always give terrible counsel, but we shouldn’t avoid counsel from older folks because we don’t like it. We should hear their counsel and measure it by the ultimate source of wisdom, God’s Word. That’s why I’m encouraging you to specifically spend time with godly older people.
  • Another natural way of gaining wisdom would be strengthening your relationship with your mom or dad, if they’re believers.
  • Here’s the grey rule: embrace things that lead you closer to Jesus, and reject things that lead you away from Jesus.
  • The question is not whether or not you will face trials. The question is, how will you respond when you do?
  • As I write this chapter, I still haven’t been healed. It continues to complicate every area of my life. In fact, the book is being turned in a week late because chronic fatigue left me bedridden for a few days the week it was due. I’m still praying the Lord will heal me, and that He’ll give me grace to glorify Him in my weakness. My energy is never the same from week to week, but my God is.
  • Ultimately, whatever it is you’re doing, it’s for God. Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 2:23). No matter where you are or what you’re doing, your supervisor is Jesus. He’s the one who will reward you, and He’s the one you’ll ultimately answer to.
  • What we do with our lives every day, whether at school, a desk job, or keeping the home in order, is our most basic opportunity to glorify God. That’s what your role in His story looks like day in and day out. Instead of waiting to be offered a new role, play the current one well.
  • When you put your faith in our compassionate God, it leads to a compassionate life.
  • Showing compassion is one of the clearest ways we can visibly show people what the gospel looks like.
  • As a minister of the gospel, you have one primary task: proclaim Christ. We get bogged down, confused, and discouraged because we get away from the main thing. Tell people about Jesus.
  • At the core of this gospel message is the truth that God is holy, man is sinful, Christ was perfect and died for sinners, and He rose from the grave. And those who turn from sin and trust in Christ will be saved. That’s the message you’ve been called to preach.
  • If joining a church seems more like a nuisance than a privilege, that could be evidence you still have some growing to do. It’s much more than an annoying necessity in God’s eyes. And I want to encourage you to be excited about the things God is excited about. He loves the church, and we should love the church as well.

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Record PlayerMUSIC NEWS:

The Winter Jam Tour Spectacular 2015 will return to the area on March 29 with a 6:00 pm concert at the Peoria Civic Center. Doors open at 5:00 pm. There are no advance ticket sales. All tickets are just $10. Artists include Skillet, For King & and Country, Jeremy Camp, Newsong, Francesca Battistelli, Building 429, Family Force 5 and more.

Congratulations to Trip Lee for debuting at #1 on iTunes Hip-Hop/Rap charts and #3 on the overall charts with his new album Rise.

Congratulations to Chris Tomlin for debuting at #6 on iTunes overall chart with his new album Love Ran Red and #1 on the Christian chart.

Lecrae has released a new autobiographical new single on iTunes “Non-Fiction”.

Third Day’s new albumLead Us Back – will be released March 3.

Paul McCartney has released a Collector’s Edition of his excellent 2013 album New. This edition includes a 2 CD and 1 DVD package in a hard bound book with new photos documenting the release. It includes 3 previously unreleased tracks and 4 songs recorded live at the Tokyo Dome in 2013. The DVD features footage from release events in Las Vegas, New York, London, plus behind the scenes films and much more. I was interested in the three news songs, “Struggle”, “Hell to Pay” and “Demon’s Dance”. The latter two are quite good, but I didn’t care much for “Struggle”, which was a bit too experimental for a McCartney song for me.

Music Reviews

Rise – Trip Lee

This highly anticipated album is Trip’s first since 2012’s The Good Life and one of the best of 2014. Later in 2012 he announced he was leaving music and pursuing ministry and released his first book The Good Life. The 26-year old Lee has attended Boyce College, interned at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C. with Mark Dever, and is a frequent speaker at churches at conferences. He became a pastor in 2013.

This album debuted at #3 on the overall iTunes charts and #1 on the hip-hop/rap charts. Four of the fourteen songs were released early to those who pre-ordered the album – “Shweet”, “Beautiful Life 2 (Mine)”, “Manola” (featuring Lecrae) and “Sweet Victory”. Then the album was streamed in its entirety the weekend before its release. Instead of collaborating with multiple producers as in the past, this time Trip worked solely with producer Gawvi for the entire album at his Atlanta studio. Gawvi also worked with Lecrae on his excellent Anomaly album and has produced several other Reach Records projects. Throughout, the music is diverse and Gawvi’s production is outstanding.

Writing about the album, Trip writes: “Rise has a lot of different meanings,” he explains. “It’s a call-to-action to rise from the dead and actually live. We’re born spiritually dead, and I’m calling for everyone to become spiritually alive. Secondly, don’t wait until later to live the way you were created. God created you to honor Him, find joy, and serve others. Don’t sleep on that. Lastly, rise above the low expectations people have.”Trip Lee

Below are a few comments and/or lyrics on each song:

Rise – Trip makes it clear he’s back:
Hold up, I’m back to boast in these tracks like
I’m mad that I might back slap mics
Never mind the fact that I never left I’m hype
Listen up, right, you ain’t got to ask my twice
I’m here, I’m here

How am I’m gonna retire when we need a crier that tells us to rise up and stand?

We all die, John 5:28-29
The judge returns
And all rise

Lights On – Talks about how we are all walking in total darkness until the lights come on from Jesus.
I’m praying that we’ll flip that switch and shine, you’re so blind
We know You got it, Lord, we know You got it
Only You could take us higher, You’re the Pilot
Lights, please!

Shweet – Here is Trip’s excellent video for this song.
I got a lot of problems, but I’m straight (that’s shweet)
I know my God will toss em in the lake (that’s shweet)
How many times I gotta tell ya He’s the boss
Under Him anything’s a piece of cake

Manola (featuring Lecrae) – I have to admit that when this track was released I didn’t get it. It sounded great with Lecrae joining Trip, but I didn’t understand the lyrics at all. Trip clears it up: “In Spanish, ‘Manolo’ means ‘God is with us’. There’s some gun terminology, but the weapon we’re talking about is truth. We fight lies with the word of God.” The song also features a hook from Gawvi.
I flip that page on em, my trigger finger stay workin
I got plenty ammo, got old and new, they both testify, my Lord

Red letters like a red dot on your door

His Word is my weapon

You Don’t Know – This song features some excellent drum work. It opens with a sample of Christon Gray’s 2011 song “Even with Evil Within Me” and is a beautiful song about the joy of being in Christ and making his election sure.

All Rise Up Interlude – A spoken word track about Trip’s ten year history with Reach Records artists.

All Rise Up – In this song Trip looks at his career thus far.
Plus there’s more haters
Saying we just do it for dough

If we all rise up
That’s be my dream
That we should all rise up
And give a standing “o” for the King
Cuz He’s good

I ain’t retired but I thought about it
I feel called to be a pastor. I’m all about it
See His glory in His Word and I gotta shout it
So I’m just trying to figure out how I can shout the loudest
Plus, I saw it’s hard to be a pastor

I read John’s vision and it’s plain
Christ reigns so I’m sticking in my lane
Rap don’t need me
Reach don’t need me
Christ don’t need me
I’m limping cuz I’m lame

Beautiful Life 2 (Mine) – This is a song from Trip to his young son and baby daughter, who you can hear in the song. It is a sequel to the pro-life “Beautiful Life” on The Good Life.
And I’ll be sure to tell you everyday
You made in His image baby, you ain’t gotta wait
To hear no affirmation from them dudes in the streets
You already know you’re beautiful to me

What a great gift from a great God
You belong to Him, but He gave you to me

Insomniac (featuring Andy Mineo) – Mineo is my favorite hip-hop/rap artist behind Lecrae and Lee. I can’t wait for his next full-length album.  This song is about going strong for the Lord while we can.
My life could end today, yeah, my heart stop
If I go out tonight, I’m going out on top
I give it all, this life ain’t all I got

Something New – A one verse track about Trip’s addiction to sneakers.
My addition isn’t to women or to booze.
Sneakersheads anonymous
I’m itching for some shoes

Lazarus (featuring Thi’sl) – This is a song about how as dead men we are raised to life by Christ.
From now on you can call me Lazarus
From a dead man walking to the risen ones

I mean the Captain, the Almighty Lord
Setting captives free, all aboard (all aboard)
Can’t stop Him when He got His mind made up
He don’t like that grave, sayonara, see you later
He make the blind see and got the lame up
So it’s no surprise He can raise us

All My Love (featuring Natalie Lauren) – about a married man battling his online pornography addiction.
Now it hits the depths of the heart, He calls
The way he grieve our Lord as he hang on the dirty cross
The way he hurt his wife and flaunts his perverted flaws
He might mess around and lose his family, so he pause
He takes his laptop, her pictures on the backdrop
He smashes it with a hammer and takes the trash out
He calls his wife and he’s repenting in tears
And says he wants to be committed for years, and God hears

I’m Gone – This song includes an upbeat piano and some serious words about Satan’s schemes against us.
I hear what you’re saying
But I don’t believe you
Cuz you’re just be lying
And I don’t need you
I got a new Lord
I know I don’t see you
But I see right through you
So I gotta leave you
I’m gone

Sweet Victory (featuring Dimitri McDowell & Leah Smith) – Trip shares the pain from his seven year-long battle chronic fatigue syndrome and how hard it has been on him and his wife.
So when I say “It’s been a few hard years” they think I’m playing
But you don’t know my life boy
You don’t know what it’s been like on my wife
Don’t know my fight boy

He then shares that as believers our victory is now based in what we do and how our life is going but in Christ’s finished work on the cross.Trip Lee Book
The victor ain’t the one that’s winning in the 7th inning
Trophies don’t go to ones that got a good beginning
When I say I win I don’t mean the state I’m in
I mean that day when the grace got fade out then
I’m winning cause I ran with him.

On January 27 Trip will release his second book Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story.

Love Ran Red by Chris TomlinLove Ran Red Deluxe Edition – Chris Tomlin
Chris Tomlin is a worship leader at the Passion City Church in Atlanta (where Louie Giglio is lead pastor), and a prolific writer of worship songs for the church. Each year he writes several new songs to be sung at the Passion conferences and included on the conference live album, in addition to his own solo albums. Some of the songs included on the Passion albums end up on his solo albums as in this case with “At the Cross (Love Ran Red)” and “Almighty”, and “Let it Be Jesus” (sung by Christy Nockels), which were included in this year’s Passion: Take It All album.

Prior to the release of Love Ran Red Tomlin released three songs, the singles “Waterfall” and “Jesus Loves Me” as well as “Greater”. The Deluxe edition includes alternate versions of “Waterfall” and acoustic versions of “At the Cross (Love Ran Red)” and “Let it Be Jesus”.

The album debuted at #6 on the overall iTunes charts and #1 on the Christian charts. One reviewer wrote that this album felt like a “Greatest Hits” package, as each song is “so power packed with potential that it’s a challenge to decipher which would be the next single”. I have to agree. Tomlin is at the top of his game with this release. He knew as much when we saw him in concert at the US Cellular Coliseum on July. He mentioned at that time that he knew he had a special set of songs and couldn’t wait to get them out to everyone.

Jesus is the subject of each song on this wonderful new album, which will definitely be among my top releases of the year, along with those by U2 and Lecrae. Below are brief comments/and or lyrics on each of the song on the album:

Greater – A worship anthem and one of the songs you received when you pre-ordered the album.

Greater is the One who lives in me
Greater is the love of Jesus
Greater than my sin
Greater than the grave
Above all other thrones
Above all other names

Waterfall – The first single released from the album. Tomlin performed this song at his concert Bloomington in July.

Your love is like a waterfall, waterfall,
Running wild and free
You hear my heart when I call, when I call
Deep calls to deep
Your love is like a waterfall raining down on me

At the Cross (Love Ran Red) – Since I first heard this song on the Passion: Take It All album, it has been my favorite song this year. Tomlin, as he has in the past, uses elements of an old hymn – this time “At the Cross” by Isaac Watts. I put this song in the category of Matt Redman’s “Bless the Lord (10,000 Reasons)” and believe it will soon be sung in worship services around the world.

At the cross, at the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You, I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red, and my sin washed white
I owe all to You, I owe all to You

Jesus Loves Me – The second single released from the album.

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence
Couldn’t run from His arms

Jesus, He loves me, He loves me
He is for me
Jesus how can it be, He loves me
He is for me

Boundary Lines – One of the more upbeat songs on the album, this one would be a good concert song.

My heart is a cup
Your love is an ocean
God, You fill me up
Like rivers overflowing

Almighty – A piano driven worship anthem that first appeared on the Passion: Take It All album earlier this year.

Almighty, we’re standing in the presence of Your majesty
You’re Holy, You alone the sovereign crown of royalty
You’re the king of kings

The Roar – This is another upbeat song that would sound good in a concert setting.

I heard the roar of the Lion of Judah
I heard the voice that calms the raging sea
He came to me, came to me
When I needed the Lord
I heard the roar of the Lion of Judah

Fear Not – Tomlin sings about God being our mighty warrior.

God He is faithful, faithful to us
Through every storm
Through troubled waters
He won’t abandon
Fear not, the Lord God is with us

The Table – This song has a Black Gospel feel and ends with a choir. It is a refreshingly different sound for Tomlin. It is a song about community, fellowship and the invitation of the gospel.

Come all you weary, come and find
His yoke is easy, His burden is light
He is able, He will restore
At the table of the Lord

Psalm 100 – This is another upbeat song which would be great for churches with a more contemporary worship service.

For the Lord is good
And His love endures, His love endures
For the Lord is good, and His love endures, His love endures
Forevermore His faithfulness it has no end
For the Lord is good, His Love endures, His love endures

I Will Boast – This is a beautiful piano driven song with a nice piano refrain that makes use of the title song’s melody.

I will boast only in the cross
Where my Savior died for me
Nothing else no other love
Goes so far and runs so deep

Only One took the nails
Only One tore the veil
Only One spotless lamb
I will boast only in the cross

Jesus, This is You – This is another great song for corporate worship.

Jesus, You are greater than the grave
Jesus, You have broken every chain
Forever You will reign
Forever we will sing
Jesus, this is You

In the End – This song starts with just a piano and then piano and then builds to a powerful ending.

In the end love will fill the earth
Raise the dead to life
In the end, we will see the Kingdom come
In the end all the darkness will be bursting into life
We will live here forever in the end

Deluxe Edition Songs:
Waterfall (Tritonal mix) – I didn’t find that this new mix added much to the original version.

At the Cross (Love Ran Red) – (Acoustic) – The is the third version of this excellent song released this year, with the live version on the Passion: Take it All album and the original studio version released on the standard version of this album. This is a beautiful acoustic guitar version of the song.

Let it Be Jesus (Acoustic) – A beautiful version of a song that was sung by Christy Nockels on the Passion: Take it All album.

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Weekend Update: Looking for a Good Movie and Some New Music?

Are you looking for a good movie this weekend? Check out our review of St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray below.

And if you would like to get a head start on listening to Trip Lee’s new album Rise, which isn’t released until Tuesday, you can listen to it here

Have a great weekend!

St. VincentSt. Vincent, rated PG-13

I’ve been a Bill Murray fan since his three years (1977-1980) on Saturday Night Live. He is an extremely versatile actor, equally able to handle serious roles (received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in Lost in Translation) as well as comedic ones (Ghostbusters, Stripes, Caddyshack, etc.). I’d been looking forward to this film since seeing the trailer months ago, which made the film appear to be a comedy. Although I very much enjoyed the film, especially the excellent acting performances, the film was much heavier and more serious than expected. Murray’s role as the cantankerous, heavy drinking and broke Vincent is a combination of Bill Murray’s serious and comedic roles, leaning more on the serious side, showing us his depth as an actor. Like all of us, Vincent is flawed, a combination of good and bad.

Vincent owes everyone money – Daka the pregnant prostitute he sees weekly but also cares about (played by Naomi Watts, who received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in The Impossible), Zucko his bookie (Terrance Howard) and the owner of a long term care facility. We assume he is retired. He drives an old car and lives in a modest and not very clean home with his cat Felix, perhaps his only friend.

After coming home drunk and knocking over the fence in his front yard, Vincent hits his head and passes out on the kitchen floor only to be awoken the next morning hearing employees from a moving company arguing. They had just hit a large tree in Vincent’s front yard, knocking off a large limb that fell on Vincent’s car in the driveway. Vincent is furious and seizing the opportunity also blames them for knocking over his fence.

The movers are there to help Maggie (Melissa McCarthy in a likeable role for once) and her young son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) move in. Maggie’s husband has had multiple affairs and she has moved out with Oliver hoping for a fresh start. Oliver attends a Catholic school and has the likeable Brother Geraghty (Chris O’Dowd) as his teacher. Maggie works long hours at a local hospital to pay for the private school as Oliver’s father isn’t helping them with anything. She often comes home late, so she agrees to pay Vincent (who desperately needs the money) to babysit Oliver.

Soon, the two develop an unconventional relationship – the gruff Vincent and the small and shy Oliver. Vincent is certainly not your typical babysitter, and Maggie, who really doesn’t know anything about Vincent, has no idea what is taking place while she’s at work.

Murray delivers a very strong performance as does the young Lieberher (10 years old when he filmed the movie) and McCarthy, who is finally allowed to show what she can do in a serious role after playing the same over-the-top one-dimensional characters in films such as Bridesmaids, Identity Thief, The Heat and Tammy. I also really liked Chris O’Dowd’s humorous performance as Oliver’s teacher.

The theatre included a number of children when we saw the film. They were exposed to a good deal of adult language, a brief sex scene (no nudity), and a scene in a strip club (no nudity). This is not a children’s film, but one mature teens and adults would enjoy.

I mark the film down a half a star for its dismissive attitude toward Christianity. Although Oliver attends a Catholic school, he states that he thinks he is Jewish, while the class also contains Buddhists and a whole lot of “I don’t knows”. And when Vincent is asked to pray before a meal, he bows his head but eventually is unable to utter a prayer.

If you can get past these content concerns, you’ll be treated to a memorable performance from Murray.