Over the years my music tastes have skewed away from CCM (contemporary Christian music) and mainstream music, and delved more into the realm of indie rock. It’s a pity really, because now I just think that radio singles are (with the exception of a few really good songs) rubbish.
As it is, I have highlighted for your attention two very brilliant Christian indie rock artists. First is Kevin Max (of former DC Talk fame) with his new release Cotes d’Armor (True Rebels). It’s a brilliant mix of catchy pop-rock and electronic songs, which prove to be rewarding to those who try to appreciate it.
Another good indie rock artist is Starflyer 59. Chances are you’ve never heard of them, but they’ve been signed to Tooth & Nail Records since 1993. Their new release The Changing Of The Guard is a very pleasant blend of acoustic and classic rock, with a bit of Starflyer 59’s signature “shoegazer” sound thrown in (don’t ask me what it means, but that’s the primary genre that they’ve defined themselves as).
Some of these indie rock artists CAN be a little bit vague about their faith (it doesn't mean they're not Christians), but don't let it put you off. In my opinion, someone has to balance out the lack of imagination in contemporary Christian music these days.
“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.” –Job 13:15.
Chronic pain, whether internal or external, has a way of changing a person. It is hard to believe God is good when one’s body or mind becomes a prison. Sometimes when I’m in pain, I can think about it theologically, knowing that pain is a result of the fall of man and that one day, everything will be made right. Most of the time though, the best I can do is repeat the phrase, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.”
I am not a big “theme verse” kind of person, but something about these words that Job wrote so many years ago resonates with me. Six years ago, I started having health problems, and my life completely changed. I had to abandon many of the plans and dreams I once had and instead learn about medications, insurance coverage, and alternative treatments.
I try to take the bad things in life and learn from them, and my illness is no exception. I am more aware of the suffering of others, and I am a more compassionate person now than I was before I got sick. I’ve learned that life is less about what you do and more about who you do it with. Sometimes things get hard and nothing makes sense. However, more and more I am realizing that God is the most real when He seems the most impossible.
Hope is a small word with huge implications. For followers of Christ, it is the single ray of light in the deepest of darkness. It is important in the midst of pain and suffering to hold on to hope and to continue to dream. One dream that has never left me is a desire to go to Antarctica. When I was a child, my mother gave me a copy of the book Mr. Popper’s Penguins, a book her mother read to her when she was a child. Ever since I read that book, I have imagined exploring the icy continent and walking amongst the penguins. Almost three years ago, I met a man who did not think my dream was crazy, and I was lucky enough to marry him. He promised me that one day we would walk hand in hand in Antarctica, and I believe him.
Like Job, we will all experience varying degrees of suffering before we trade this world for a better one. There is no formula or theological concept I can give that will make suffering easier. I do not know if I will ever get better and be able to do the things I once did or accomplish the goals I set for myself. What I do know is, dreams are worth dreaming, and hope is worth holding on to. Even when He seems the furthest away, God is with us and will not abandon us. I hope, dear readers, that whatever pain you are going through, you never give up hope and that you find your Antarctica.
*You can help my dream of visiting Antarctica come true by voting for an essay I wrote. Go to http://www.adventurewithjulie.com/blogs/view/235 and register to vote. You will receive a confirmation email with a link that you must click on in order for your vote to count. Thank you for your help.
In July, I challenged believers across the land to join me in praying for the spiritual well-being of our nation. As God’s representatives here on earth, we must be serious about our commitment to the Lord if we truly desire our nation to change. We must be dedicated to interceding for the salvation of our fellow countrymen and being a light in our communities. But most of all, we must be devoted to obeying the Father out of sincere thankfulness for all He has done for us.
No nation on earth has ever been as blessed as the United States of America. I believe this is because our Founding Fathers understood that liberty is a gift from God—one that comes with a heavy responsibility. They framed our government and established our Constitution on the foundation of godly, biblical principles, making this great country unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. Never throughout world history had there been a nation founded by the people, for the people—with freedom of speech, religious liberty, and such confidence in the common man. This was because these men understood the powerful influence Jesus Christ could have on each and every person for good.
As Americans, we are called to protect the great blessing of freedom we’ve been given through honorable acts of citizenship and prayer. The apostle Paul wrote, ―I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth‖ (1 Tim. 2:1–4). The Lord Jesus has made it possible for us to influence any person, government, and nation in the world through our prayers—as long as we first acknowledge He is the source of our strength.
This is why I challenge all Americans—and especially believers—to stand for the truth and to intercede on behalf of our land. I hope you will join me and countless others who have committed to spending the next 140 days in prayer for the United States of America. No matter what our trials or difficulties, I am confident God can overcome them if we will seek Him and acknowledge that He is the only who can truly bless America. May you and your family experience the wonderful, absolutely life-changing liberty He created you to enjoy … and may He continue to shed His grace on this nation from sea to shining sea.
Copyright 2010 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org
In celebration of the release of House of Heroes' Suburba today, and in marveling at what a fantastic release it is, I wanted to dedicate this post to them. I've been browsing the web, and I can't really find a negative word about it yet. In fact, most music critics so far have been more positive about it than I was in my review (More a testament to their level of enthsiasm rather than a lack of my own).
It's no secret that I'm an avid fan of the band. They've come a long way since the What You Want Is Now days, and I'm loving watching the journey. And I'm pleased as punch about that VINYL that should be at my door today! YES!
I want to present a thesis statement, and then let you guys run with it.
Fact or Fiction: Suburba solidifies House of Heroes as the best thing Christian music has going for it.
Now the Tennessee heat isn’t really something to mess with. I understand that it’s hotter elsewhere. Don’t worry, I know, I’ve been there. And yes, it’s not pleasant. That said, I’ll again say that the Tennessee heat really isn’t something to mess with. I grew up in Northern Indiana which has hot summers, but I’m not sure I was really prepared for the intense humidity of Tennessee when I moved here. Don’t worry, I’m glad I moved, as Nashville has proven to be a place that I’ve grown to love and to call home. It’s just that as I’m driving my car in a traffic jam on one of the main highways in Nashville, I realize I can’t escape the heat. The AC in my car doesn’t work real well unless I’m driving at a pretty good speed, and then the air moves well enough to cool me down. For this reason, I try and stay off the main roads during rush hour. I’d rather not bake in my car while I’m waiting 45 minutes to go half a mile. It’s a hot one this year!!!
I don’t believe I’ve given you guys a big band update in a bit, so I’m going to break down some of the fun that we having coming up in August. We have a pretty busy month coming, and we’re all excited about it. We’re traveling to Montana for the Downpour Festival, which will be the first time that our band has had the opportunity to play in Montana. We’ve heard a lot of great things about this festival, and we’ll be playing alongside some great bands who will be playing that weekend; including Pillar, KJ-52, and Newsboys. After Montana we’re touring back through Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. A handful of those dates we’ll be playing with our good friends Decyfer Down. We haven’t played a show with them since we both got done touring with Disciple back in March and April, so we’re really looking forward to hanging out and playing some shows. Keep checking our website for tour updates, and to see if we’re playing near you. www.satellitesandsirens.com/tour As I’ve said before, we love meeting new people and hanging out. We’re traveling to some new cities this coming month, so we’ll be meeting a lot of new folks, and we’re all excited about it!
Last week we spent the week at a Lifeway Camp leading worship. We’ve done a few 2-3 day youth conferences, but this is the first time that we’ve led for an entire week, and twice a day at that. It was definitely a new experience for our band, as we haven’t really done that yet. We loved it. We are definitely more of a performance band, but we all got our start playing music in worship bands. It was really refreshing to spend the week in one place, and to spend the week worshipping God with 500 youth. We also really enjoyed the Lifeway staff, and the staff at Union University where the camp was held. Good times. We’re already booked to lead worship there again next year, and we’re certainly looking forward to it.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about where I’ve been spending my time. This past week the pastor at my church challenged us to take a look at our lives and identify where we might have built up idols. Now granted, there isn’t a single person I know that actually bows down to a physical object, however, it’s easy to spend all of our time, emotions, finances, etc. on things that God didn’t intend for us to be “worshiping”. Granted, we are called to excellence in everything we do, and to be diligent with our gifts, but God really desires our hearts be turned to Him. It’s easy to let our jobs, or money, or relationships to garner all of our attention, when God’s desire is that we spend time with Him when we are looking at these areas of our lives.
It often does go back to faith and trust, and whether we truly give Him our hearts and our lives. If I don’t trust Him with my finances, I definitely spend too much time obsessing about how I’m going to pay my bills, or how I’m going to spend my money. Rather, He truly desires that we spend our time seeking Him regarding those areas. Can I really trust Him with my finances? Or my relationships? Or the things that I own? Man, if we’re honest, that’s no easy task. In Philippians 4:6-7 it says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the God of peace will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” If we really believe that, then we won’t spend our time worrying, but giving God room to move in all areas of our life. How freeing is that? Pretty amazing as far as I’m concerned.
Now, what if it isn’t worry that drives us to idolize certain areas of our lives? What if we just simply choose spend our time elsewhere? That’s a whole other area, and certainly an area where we have to take a hard look at our lives. There isn’t anything wrong with spending a lot of time at work, but there is something wrong with it being more important than God or our families. What if we made a real effort to spend those extra minutes with God every day? Where would that lead us? Does that scare us even more? Will he ask me to become a missionary? Don’t lie...that last question pops into a lot your minds when you’re thinking about pursuing God. “God, I’ll do anything...but please don’t ask me to do ____.” I know I’ve been there, as most have. It’s scary letting God into those areas, but God is good. And there is a peace that “transcends all understanding” when you really allow Him into your life.
As Cities Burn had a great start on Solid State Records, but after Son, I Loved You At Your Darkest, they seemed to be done due to having no lead vocalist anymore. Thankfully, they got the position filled and they came back with Come Now Sleep. It was one of those seemingly rare instances when a band changes their sound in some way and fans don't revolt. The sound was missing the screaming from their debut, but the lyrics were still as powerful and convicting as they were, while retaining a somewhat aggressive indie sound. Come Now Sleep was not only a relief for As Cities Burn fans, but it was also a great album that met fans' expectations. ~ Scott Fryberger
Our synopsis: "Convicting indie rock from a band that almost didn't make it." (Recommended by JFH's Scott Fryberger) Perfect For: Worship, conviction, humility Song Highlights: "Empire," "The Hoard," "This Is It, This Is It," "Wrong Body," Our World Is Grey"
So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album Come Now Sleep? Do you recommend it? If so, why?