5 Best Cover Songs You May Not Be Aware Of.

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A lot of the most memorable songs over the past 50 years have not been originals, but remakes of other artists. Sometimes, the cover is the song that the world remembers for years to come. Examples of great cover songs are endless, some notables would be Jimi Hendrix’s version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower”, Jeff Buckley’s version of Leonard Coen’s “Hallelujah”, or Johnny Cash covering “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails. A good cover of a good original song brings out previously unnoticed qualities of the song, comparable to a person moving to a foreign culture and being forced to adapt yet retain their core personality. And in this unique sub-category of music, there are some songs that have flown under the radar, wether stuffed on a B-side of a single or overlooked for innumerable reasons. Now, I could never do justice the entire concept of cover songs in one blog post, but here are 5 that are worth a listen. Continue reading

4 Marks of Gospel Growth from Solomon

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I am truly convinced that if we believe the Gospel and enjoy Jesus then God will take care of the rest and spiritual growth will happen. Christians put SO much on the things we do for Jesus, when we need to put the emphases on what Jesus did for us. The Gospel. It is central to why the Christian does what the Christian does, it really is the foundation to Christian wisdom. Before Christ, this was just as true, enjoyment of God was still the root of wisdom. Solomon, a wise man in his own accord got this and in his wisdom, with the Holy Spirit, he penned Proverbs that reveal the nature of God and pierce cultural precepts of “wisdom”, shedding light on the true nature of Godly wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 says “Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge”, so running with that, here is what Solomon says occurs in us when our attention is on our Lord. Continue reading

Artist Profile: Noah And The Whale

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The new Noah & The Whale album “Last Night On Earth” was released three weeks ago. It is 7.99 on itunes. The album has been getting compared to Tom Petty and Phoenix, and despite bringing some new sounds into the traditional NATW mix, it really works. The single L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. is simply addictive. Also check out 2008 album “Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down” for the essential Noah & the Whale sound. They had some success on that album with the song “5 Years Time”, a light-hearted, ukulele driven song about a cute, budding romance. As Spring is here and the snow is (hopefully) being exchanged for green grass and sunshine, NATW is quite the soundtrack to warm up to.

Theology creates Biology, resulting in Doxology. (Pt. 3 of 3)

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You are what you worship. It is as simple as that. It defines us as humans, making us act strangely at times. Worship is an interesting facet of the human existence, seen today within the church primarily as singing songs and outside of the church as something that cults do. The truth is that worship is instinctual in us humans, done by the most religious and the most irreligious without ceasing.

We are by nature doxological beings. Doxology=worship and worship is the submission, affection and adoration of something for its glorification. It is hardwired into our DNA, no one can avoid it, because we were made to worship. Pastor & author Mark Driscoll says “We were created to worship God and make culture in which God is worshiped in all of life”. It is our designed purpose, and something has gone horribly wrong. Continue reading

Review: Hayes Carll “KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories)” (2011)

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Hayes Carll is a real gem on the Texas music scene. He has the a voice that reminds me sometimes of Steve Earle and at other times of Hank Williams Sr. An accessibility from your Garth Brooks fans to hipster college kids. This album is Texas through and through, but stands out with it’s sad, unique and often funny lyrics. Carll had some success on the Americana scene in 2008 with the song “She Left me for Jesus” (which is funny as hell, no pun intended), but I knew almost nothing about Carll until a few months when a friend introduced me to his stuff, and within the next few weeks I saw him on Austin City Limits and then Jay Leno playing the song “KMAG YOYO” (which stands for ‘Kiss my ass guys, you’re on your own”). I was sold on that song right then, so I bought the whole album (KMAG YOYO & Other American Stories) last week and it’s been on constant circulation since.

The first time I listened to the album all the way through, sans the songs “Stomp and Holler” and “KMAG YOYO”, I was a little bored with the album as a whole. But recalling my first listen to The National’s “High Violet”, (which almost put me to sleep, but every listen after it developed and revealed itself more and more, and now is one of my favorite records) I decided to give “KMAG YOYO” another shot, and I am glad I did. On that second listen the tracks “Another Like You” and “Grateful for Christmas” jumped out at me and sucked me into the stories Carll was singing. Upon each listen another song or two sticks with me when something new or funny reveals itself in the songwriting. Continue reading

Why Gospel Community is weird, but necessary.

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Sitting on a fold out chair in a basement with about 15 other rag-tag small group attenders, including multiple married couples with small children, a few middle-aged divorcees and couple other single dudes may not sound like what most 19 year olds are doing on a Tuesday night, even in modern evangelicalism. But I was participating in Gospel Community. Our Gospel Communities (fittingly named) at Charis Community Church are more than small group Bible studies (although, we do study the Bible at them). Gospel Community is more than a small group because we find our identity in more than just individuals studying the Bible together. Our identity is in the Gospel, then in our Communities, it is not a meeting, but a lens in which we are learning to view the rest of our lives from. This random bunch, with varying intelligence, social class, gifts and maturity levels is much more like a family than a small group. Not just by our close relationships, which to a degree, also vary. But simply by the uniting by a calling larger than our preferences and existing relationships, the calling of the Gospel. Sometimes, like family, it can be as awkward as a bad Thanksgiving dinner or more unifying and intimate than any interaction with chosen friends. I think this is sufficient grounds to see Gospel Community as weird, even unsettling. So why? Gospel is cool, but why not just do your own thing? Church hopping is easy, you get to worship the way you want, you are doing good things in your para-church ministry or reaching out to friends on your own, what makes that wrong and “Gospel Community” right? Continue reading

Movie Spotlight: Valhalla Rising (2009)

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This week I watched Valhalla Rising, a Danish/American film by Nicholas Winding Refn. My dad is a big fan of Refn and the star Mads Mikkelsen (Casion Royale), so trusting his judgement, I was game to watch. Before watching it, he prefaced the film with “you may hate this but…”. I did not hate it. In fact it has stuck with me like only a film like this could.

Plot: Not much was explained to me before I watched it, which is ideal with a movie like this. Don’t IMDB this film, just watch it. In brief, the film follows a quiet viking slave/gladiator and a little boy who strike an odd partnership, who together strike an even stranger partnership with a band of angry Christian’s on a “convert or kill” kick. From there they end up in a strange surreal foreign land that may or may not be hell. Oh yeah, and there are only about 120 lines of dialogue in the entire film. In scope, that’s about half as much as the first scene of The Social Network. It is surreal, spiritual, beautiful, and hard to watch at times.

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Theology creates Biology, resulting in Doxology. (Pt. 2 of 3)

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In part one of this post the idea of theology as unavoidable was brought to attention, and I think the Bible makes itself plenty clear that, regardless of what you believe, you believing something, and that is theology. And the Bible goes as far as to say that your theology makes you who you are. The idea here is that how you view God is how you view the rest of the world. It shapes motives, purpose, morals, even relationships with other people. This is not just a question of if you believe in God, but what do you believe about Him. Belief in the biblical God is another question in itself, which is not what I intend to talk about in this post. Since Romans 1:20 it says that ” [God's] eternal attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world…” I can safely assume that the idea of God has popped into your head a few times. So what to do with this knowledge, or theology, if you will. And as Christians, the knowledge of God becomes central to living. [1]Romans 6:11 says we, as believers are “dead to sin and alive to Christ”, a paradigm shift has occurred, and the focus of life shifts to the divine. Continue reading

Theology creates Biology, resulting in Doxology. The life cycle. (Pt. 1 of 3)

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In the young evangelical circles that I have been around, I have heard the phrase “I’m not big into theology, I’m more spiritual” repeated by many a Christian. This sounds innocent enough, but I believe that this phrase and the mindset behind it is extremely foolish at best, satanic at worst. Behind this whole “spiritual, but not theological” kick that young Christians are hopping on board with rests with the idea that “theology” is reading big boring books, quoting things in greek, and talking about things irrelevant to their “walk with Jesus”. With this assumption, come three huge errors about what “theology” actually is, who we are and what “spirituality” actually is. Continue reading