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JFH Staff Blog | April 2020

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Elevation Worship Interview with Chris Brown and Jenna Barrientes

Check out a new Q&A below with Elevation Worship's Chris Brown and Jenna Barrientes as they discuss their new album, Graves Into Gardens.

You all are such gifted writers. Talk about the process of what that looked like for creating GRAVES INTO GARDENS album and what was one of your personal discoveries in it?

CHRIS BROWN: Some of the songs on this album were written a couple of years ago. Some of them, like “The Blessing” and “RATTLE!” were written in the last couple of months. But, I love that this collection of songs feels very authentic to who we are as a church, from the music to the emotional passion that was captured, and of course, the spiritual message in the songs. We work hard at writing the songs that bring us deeper in our faith with God. And, we come around them as creatively in the production. But, I really feel that our church as a whole helped create the sound that was captured on this album. We did it together. We made this project together. The months of writing, rehearsing and imagining the production was a huge part of the process, of course, but the night we shared together with our people at the live recording is one of the most special things about this album. You can hear and feel the energy and passion for God in these songs. 

On this new project, you collaborated with a few different artists like GRAMMY® nominee Brandon Lake from Bethel Music, GRAMMY® nominee Tauren Wells, GRAMMY® nominee Kari Jobe, and Cody Carnes. What was it like to work with these artists and how did they help shape this new record?

CHRIS: We’re grateful to have good friends with a similar passion and mission. We’ve known Tauren for years and have collaborated with him before. And, the poppy, RnB-esq “Never Lost” just begged to have him bring his voice to it. Brandon was a part of writing a few of the songs on this album and became a good friend through the process. We’ve toured with Kari and Cody before and have gotten close, but our first time writing together was the very end of February of this year, only a couple of weeks before the pandemic became a reality here in the states. It’s apparent that God had orchestrated our time together that day to bring about “The Blessing” as we’d unknowingly head into this crisis only two weeks later. 

GRAVES INTO GARDENS is the new album. That is such a statement title. Talk about the meaning behind it.

CHRIS: Many of our songs come from sermons that Pastor Steven preaches. The title track in particular launched from a message of his called ‘The Mystery of Potential.’ He was in that 2 Kings passage which details that after the prophet Elisha died, his story didn’t end there. Two Israelites were near his gravesite about to bury another man. When they saw a band of enemy raiders coming, they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. As soon as the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet (2 Kings 13:20-21). Elisha still had a resurrection miracle left in his bones, and God is still in the business of bringing dead things back to life. If we’ll trust God even with the seemingly dead areas of our lives, if we’ll believe in the power of God, if we’ll declare resurrection power over everything we sow, nothing will be wasted. Nothing is over. God can turn any situation around. 

Elevation Worship has brought so many powerful anthems of worship songs to the church over the years such as “O Come to the Altar,” “Do it Again” and now “The Blessing.” What do you hope in light of the current pandemic that these songs bring as a source of comfort and strength to those who listen to them?

CHRIS: Our greatest hope is that we’re writing songs that will activate and encourage your faith. Whether it’s just a few notes, lyric lines, or the entire album, we want the music and message to encourage your faith to believe in the resurrection power of all the dreams, hopes, and promises you’ve sown. And to be reminded, that in every season and every circumstance, God is able to do more than we could ask or imagine when we trust Him with our present and future.

Speaking of “The Blessing”…you co-wrote that track with Cody Carnes, Kari Jobe, and Pastor Steven Furtick and planning to release it on the upcoming GRAVES INTO GARDENS album. What was the inspiration and story behind this song? Why do you think its resonating so well with listeners and making such a huge impact on the world right now?

CHRIS: It actually feels very difficult to describe how that song came about. Almost like, I don’t want to over-explain it for fear that I’ll take away from some of the mystery of how it came into the room. What’s interesting is we were turning in the masters for the album the same day we were writing with Kari and Cody. So, there was, of course, no plan of including any song we may write that day on this current project. But, the best I can say about it in short is that we were finishing up the day and starting to demo another song we’d written with them, and Pastor Steven began mumbling and fiddling with singing the Benediction from Numbers 6. After about ten minutes of us coming around the idea, we decided we’d press pause on the other song and shift focus to this one…and from that point on, it kind of began to pour out rather quickly. We just wanted to be careful not to ‘over-write’ it or over think it, but just let God download the song. A couple hours later, we left with a demo in hand that had us in tears the next day (Friday). And, we decided to introduce it to church that weekend. And so, two days after it was written we were singing it as a church and the recording we’ve now released is from that very first weekend we’d sung it.

JENNA BARRIENTES: You never know what songs the Lord will choose to have His hand on in a very specific way. I think with the state of our world as this song was being released, a time when all of our faith was (and still is) being tested, it serves as a reminder that God isn’t just the God of my past, He’s the God of my future and my family’s future and no matter how unstable our surroundings may seem. He’s constant and faithful through the ages. I also believe there’s something so powerful and sacred about declaring scripture out loud. It’s a truth that we don’t have to overthink or debate but something we can all trust in. 

What makes the songs on GRAVES INTO GARDENS different from other projects Elevation Worship has released in the past?

JENNA: I love that this album showcases so many different expressions of worship and it’s a beautiful representation of the people in our church. Some like rock, some like gospel, others like CCM, and this album truly hits home for so many different types of people who are in different seasons of their journey of faith. My favorite part was getting to incorporate our choir - that’s us, that’s who we are as a church and I hope people catch that same spirit as they’re listening.

Right now, in our county and the world at large, there is so much fear, uncertainty, and even depression that people are dealing with regularly. How would you encourage others to be expectant and to look for life that can be in the seemingly dead places we are facing now? 

CHRIS: We’re clearly in such a unique and quite unstable time for our world right now. And, I think we’re all trying to figure out how we face each day, how we respond to the reports we hear every single day. But, I want to remind us that God is unshaken by any of this and His plans are still good. And, the weapons we have to fight with each day, the weapons to fight the battles in our minds or the anxiety that's trying to creep in our spirits, those weapons we fight with are not weapons of this world. Praise is our weapon, and worship is our sword. So, when we choose to worship instead of worry, It’s our way of throwing a counter attack on whatever the enemy is trying to bring against us. We can be confident that we are not having to fight for victory, and because of Jesus, we’re fighting from a place of victory.

Community is also something that’s key for everyone at this point in time. What are some ways that you hope Elevation Worship’s music can bring people together?

JENNA: We see so many times in scripture, specifically in Acts where power is released when a body of believers come together with the same heart and mind, and we pray that as the Church starts singing these songs of the faithfulness and power of God, unity would begin to happen.

Creatively speaking, as many of us are having some more downtime, what are some ways we can use our creativity proactively?

JENNA: I keep hearing this common theme of people feeling more distanced physically but have never felt more connected than they do now. I think this is such a unique time in our lives where we get to connect with people that maybe we weren’t able to before. And, we are seeing so many collaborations, more people stepping up to lead and different worlds colliding - which has been such a beautiful thing to witness. I would just encourage people not to fall into the comparison trap and put an insane amount of pressure on yourself but be intentional and make goals that you want to achieve. One practical goal I’ve set for myself is to do a better job at sharing my experience in leading worship and teams with other church leaders so that looks like me taking Zoom calls, doing Q&A’s, recording encouraging videos, etc.. Just make some attainable goals and be consistent and faithful enough to stick to them.

Is there anything else you want listeners to know about the upcoming album?

JENNA: Our greatest hope is that this album will cause your faith to rise. That you will let the words and melodies settle deep in your soul and produce real, genuine change - change in how you live your life, but also that it would challenge your expectations and idea of who God is. He’s worth trusting, and He’s just as faithful now as He’s ever been. We pray that these songs would not only unlock a greater dependence on God, but will also remind you of the power that He has placed inside you. That your soul would be reminded that Christ’s resurrection wasn’t just an event that happened a long time ago but that same power is still active and available for us all today. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

'The Paradox Of Finding Life Within A Loved One’s Death' by Alex Henry Foster

I’ve always needed some time to muse about the nature of what I want to commune and share with people every single time I have the privilege to be invited to expose myself as I’ve generously been by Jesus Freak Hideout, who recently offered me this “carte blanche” opportunity. It’s even more special for me, as after more than 10 years of being part of the pretty singular and evolving entertainment world, it is the very first time I express myself on a Christian-faith oriented website.

To be honest, I have never been too concerned with the media I would be invited to share with nor too preoccupied with the brands supporting or sponsoring any of those. I have neither been troubled with the political agenda that the groups could be associated with or not. My vision, maybe naive, has constantly been to look beyond the labels, the tags, and the uniforms. Beyond all differences usually designed to maintain an obvious separation between groups, there is a person, whom I’ve learned to look at without the judgmental assessment of my own values, misunderstandings, and prejudices... Even when it’s hard to see through those differences.

In fact, it’s that continuous attempt at reaching out to others that has led me in all sorts of wonderful places and that offered me the blessing of meeting incredible individuals, from whom I’ve probably learned more than I would like to admit or can even understand. Paradoxes are strange and bizarre reflections of our world views. We can learn a lot about ourselves from those, and maybe that’s why I'd rather see the world from under His bright light than from my shadowy perceptions... Or at least, that may be why I am fascinated by human nature and why I am so inspired by what made us who we are - or so we like to think and believe.

And it’s with that perspective that I wrote my album “Windows in the Sky”; in order to mourn, understand the vibrant faith and honor the life of my lost father, a complex man who was a very singular and unique person. A former alcoholic, depressive, unreachable person who completely turned his life around the second he became a Christian, another one who was taken too fast by cancer, but who was tremendously excited to finally be with his true love in Heaven. I have never been there much in his life, but I was at his bedside the moment he passed away, broken as a man but peaceful as a believer. It troubled me, to be honest, and for several reasons. The evolution of my own faith, the reflection this moment had on my own mortality, as much as how it suddenly put my sole existence into a different context... It wasn't his death that hurt the most, but my inability to feel anything about it, an emotional black out of sorts, perfectly exposed when I fronted my band and headlined a 90,000-person music festival in Taiwan less than 5 days after my father's passing. The next 3 years would see me in that same state, miserable at best, and in total denial of the reasons beneath it.

I found my way back into the light when I finally decided to let go. I was then living in the dazzling city of Tangier, where I had found refuge of my own, alone, and where I ultimately stayed for 2 years. How ironic is it for me to say that I’ve been able to grieve my Christian father in a Muslim country? I told you, paradoxes are a way to see through your own darkness. I wrote a lot in Tangier, reflected on life… Mine, my father’s, that of the people I know, as much as that of passers-by...  After 10 years screaming in a microphone, I was able to listen, to admire the simplest of all details... From the silent contemplation of my new personal journey to the cathartic noises of life being lived in the streets of what seemed to tourists like an ancient lifestyle. There’s kindness to be found in hopelessness, as much as there’s freedom in faithlessness. It’s at that point in time that I realized that my trust in what was "absolute" was in fact a need for security, and it’s only when I started to free myself from all those religious clichés I had holed myself in that I started being able to feel again, to emancipate my heart and spirit, to see what had been invisible for me all along…

I left Tangier with less answers than I thought I was entitled to give others about their lives, but it felt good. I went home and finished what would become my album “Windows in the Sky” by writing a song called “The Hunter (By the Seaside Window)”, a song that adresses that inner struggle we all have, at different stages of our lives, actualized in different ways. The essence of being the hunter or the prey, when we are both at once, trying to figure out what to make out of our existence and the emotions that come with it. It’s a song that reflects on our intimate doubts as much as the comfort we find in Him, the turbulences of insecurities, the disturbing motions that lead to the establishment of the cultist religion of self rather than the honest admission of our fragility and need to be consoled, dispossessed of that invitation to be real. Whatever it means for ourselves or others, we are disoriented, our identity is lost, and illusions take place, so close to the model they are copied from, but still only make-believes… until we let go. There’s no defeat in abandonment, no fatalism in kneeling down, no condemnation in confession. Those are some of the undertones I wanted to illustrate in the song. The self-preservation with which we feed our so-called security, dealing with our own contradictions and their confrontational nature also illustrates that by denying our humanity, we also deny God’s divinity and therefore His identity, may it be towards our struggles or daily life devotionals.

I have often seen “acceptance” as surrendering. That is, I guess, the real challenge we all have, especially nowadays; to admit our fear in the storm, our weakness in time of unknown. We live in a society that praises highly performances and results, and confessing our real state of heart and mind is seen as being either a lack of faith or character. It may be even more true within the context of the Church, where “performances” are the ultimate temptations, from raising kids into wonderful adults, to cultivating a fulfilling marriage, up to being exemplary employee and employer. No one wants to be the prey, but we rarely take care of the hunter that lives within us. And this might also explain why it took so long for some “scholars” to see mental distress for what it is; a need for help, not a reflection of how spiritual or not a person is. It is ok to confess just how out of breath we feel. Can we have faith and be scared? Can we believe in God and admit we are fearful for what tomorrow may be? Well, reading the Bible tells me that not only it is ok to be tired, but it comes with the fabulous promise of being welcomed and discharged… How amazing is that? But how complicated do we tend to make such a blessing as we become more atoned with our religious culture and become somewhat blasé with the simplest of all miracles - the one we can see everyday in the mirror? Is it due to a fatigue after seeing so many miracles and no longer recognizing them?

I guess, in retrospect, looking at my father laying down on his deathbed, utterly joyful regardless of the tiny fraction of strength he had to fight the implacable enemy that is cancer, that this has been the most impacting image my heart could have been imprinted with. Even if he was unable to articulate a word at this point, I knew what his kind and passionate light blue eyes wanted to tell me: “Let go, Alex… Let go. It’s time get back home and be healed now”. It took me 5 years afterward to be able to say: “I love you dad. Thank you for everything. I am home now.” 

Again, I would like to thank Jesus Freak Hideout for their generous carte blanche invitation. I do hope, even though there would be so much more for me to share and commune with you, that my personal testimony has not only been an encouragement for those who needed some, but also a consolation for anyone looking for as much as an opportunity to let go. We all need to do so at some point in our lives and for so many different reasons, regardless of the present relational structures we are all intermingled in and so often lost within, social distanciation or not.

Wishing to have another opportunity to chat with you all.

Be safe and peaceful,

A friend,

- Alex

 

Join Alex Henry Foster & The Long Shadows in the church-studio for 60 minutes of live music on May 1st at 9pm: https://www.facebook.com/prog/videos/1514162032079476/  

Friday, April 17, 2020

'Co-Creating With God: A Scriptural Approach to Songwriting' by Krissy Nordhoff

 Co-Creating With God: A Scriptural Approach to Songwriting

I don’t know that I’ve felt a pressure quite like what I experienced during my first few co-writes (songwriting with others.) Sitting in a room with more experienced writers, feeling like I’m being sized up. Feeling insecure about bringing ideas of value to the room and the song. Feeling obligated to express my opinion about every facet of the song: the chords, the production, the theology, the melody, the structure, the content. And that’s not to mention the silence! The deafening moments where people appear to be in deep thought, and I’m hoping it’s not about me. I bet I’m not the only one who’s experienced these things.

Everything about how I approached these moments in the writing room changed when I heard a beautiful story about a songwriter who had what some call a “near death experience.” The writer said he went through the gates of heaven and began to worship then realized that they were singing a song he’d written. He said to an angel, “You’re singing my song!” (Can you even imagine?!) That’s when the angel responded, “No, we let you hear one of our songs!” He was then sent back, and he lived to tell the story.

Wow. All that pressure I had carried thinking that creativity was dependent upon me seemed to vanish. I realized for the first time that I could lean in and listen to the Creator himself. No one has better ideas than Him! In fact, I believe if we listen to Him in the early morning hours, it’s no different when we sit down to write or co-write with others. It’s amazing how He will tell us what He wants us to say and how He wants us to say it when we give Him the room… the way He moves when the focus is not on us (what we are contributing, what others are thinking of us, etc.) but on HIM!

We can’t depend on ourselves to be that creative, consistent, imaginative, inventive, fresh, deep, prophetic, or profound. But we can completely depend on Him to be those things. We just need to listen.


Proverbs 3:5-6 The Voice Translation

Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on Him completely; never depend upon your own ideas and inventions. Give Him the credit for everything you accomplish, and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead.

Our Prayer

Lord, teach me to listen. I want to know your heart. Not just for my songs, but for life. Help me remember that the best way to create is to co-create with you.

-- Krissy Nordhoff

Krissy Nordhoff is a professional songwriter, co-founder of the
Brave songwriting community, author, and creator of The Writing Worship Course. A Michigan native, Krissy grew up in a Christian home, learning a love for church music from her pianist grandmother. That love carried through the years as she attended Anderson University, studying songwriting with the legendary Gloria Gaither and later as Krissy taught piano and performed as an indie artist.

 

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Friday, April 10, 2020

Why It Is A Joyful Command To Love The Church by Kevin King

I once had a pastor give me this advice when dealing with those we serve: “Kevin, the church is a bunch of sheep, and sheep are dumb.” I was 23 at the time, and whether you find this phrase offensive or not, I just took it to heart and tried to learn from it. On one hand, it did help me to not take comments of people too personally (both positive and negative), but on the other hand, it subliminally caused me to distance myself from my flock. While it’s true that sheep are not the smartest of creatures, and Jesus refers to us as sheep, our Good Shepherd never holds our abilities against us but leans in constantly to love us.

As worship leaders, we can be fragile creatures. We design worship services and can wear our hearts on our sleeve, as if each Sunday we ask, “Did you like it?” Now, there’s a whole lot of gospel missing from this scenario, but nevertheless, it is the experience of many worship leaders all over the world, and it has been mine for years as well.

By God’s providence, I have been placed frequently in church bodies that have wide generational demographics. There is so much beauty in this, and I believe it is how the church is meant to be, with older generations mentoring younger and younger serving and loving the older. However, this can commonly lead to a “sides” mentality and especially when it comes to worship. As a young worship leader, I felt caught in the middle of a war I had no idea how to win. As any green worship leader might do, I looked to popular influences for answers. Those seeming answers were “be cool, and they’ll like you,” “create an experience, and it’ll work out,” or “the old people just need to get over it and realize they’re not in anymore.” While no one overtly says these words, it can be written in between the lines all over our culture. And so I would lead worship with a bit of forced passion, eyes-closed, hands raised, and hoping the “experience” would copy and paste to the congregation. Well, that was clearly an epic fail.

What is the outcome? You start to receive prayer cards that become a suggestion box with comments like “TOO LOUD” or “Your guitarist wore a T-SHIRT. A T-SHIRT!” or “Choir members swaying? What are we? Holy Rollers?” (All of these are actual comments I’ve received). On the other hand, when you do something people approve of, you get comments like these, “I just love when you do the old hymns,” which can be a back-handed way of saying, “Do more hymns.”

All of this can make for an easily embittered worship leader and a disgruntled and distrusting congregation. So what are we to do? How do we become a conduit of unification for a body of people that range from newborn to over 100? We put down our battle sword and stop crying “Follow me!” and point to the cross and say, “Follow Him!” The difference here can make or break the health of your heart and your church. Why? Because if I’m relying on my charisma, my talent, or my ideas that I perceive are so full of innovation, then I will tire myself seeking the approval of others and finding my identity in my work. The congregation will feel that, and I would have not treasured Christ in any of this. To be an under-shepherd under the Great Shepherd means I spend my energy, gifts, and creativity pointing to Jesus. Suddenly, your worship sets are not first an experience but rather a retelling of the Gospel and a beholding of Jesus, and people know the difference. Though we may be sheep, we’re not that dumb. Jesus is the one who can change a heart. He is the one who can convict of sin, and He is the one who can (and wants to) unify His church in worship.

The apostle Paul writes in Colossians 1 “To them God has chosen to make known…this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” You may have heard it said that the church is the hope for the world, and here it is evidenced. Christ in you is “the hope of glory.” It is the church that Jesus has enjoyed imparting the task of advancing the kingdom, being ambassadors in His name, and making disciples. It is also the church that he prays for in John 17 that we would be one with the Father as He is. Jesus LOVES the church, and it is this love that fuels it to health and mission. As his under-shepherd, then, it is my task and my joy to do likewise.

The church is the place where you will experience the power of God in the presence of people. You will encounter elderly couples who have generosity of time and resource beyond what you can fathom. You’ll experience families who welcome the lonely into their homes. You’ll see college students forsake a promising career for the mission field. You’ll watch children sing and learn to love Jesus. It is truly a marvelous place. It is also the place where you, as a leader, may incur some of the deepest wounds. However, the beauty of the Gospel is that Jesus perfectly follows the command to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) that we can fall into his nail-scarred hands, see His spit on face, and find the grace to love the church, as Oliver Cromwell would say, “warts and all.” Jesus understands what it is like to be mocked, to be betrayed by those close to him, and to hold out your heart to your people and be utterly rejected. However, it was still the “joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2) that caused him to endure the cross, and while he hung there, he saw generations of future believers and “was satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11). It was for a joyful and worthy cause that Jesus laid down his life for the church, and it is to our joy that we do the same.

We are commanded to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). While in the midst of a season of heart-wrenching conflict in the church body, this can seem like a daunting and threatening word. However, what God commands, he surely has the grace to provide. Praise God it is not from my effort that I love from a pure heart, but it is that hope – Christ in me – that causes me to say, “This is my beloved” as Jesus would. All His commands are for my joy and for our good.

This is the heart behind the new Grace Worship “Christ Be All” EP. I and the members of Grace Worship desire to craft songs that serve to unite the church to treasure Jesus. It is out of a love for the church that these songs were born. The church is a family of worshipers, and they are worth loving and giving yourself for. I have dug to the end of the well of seeking acceptance and self-exaltation, and that well was ugly dry. However, “there is a river that makes glad the city of God” (Psalm 46:4) and that well of Living Water never runs dry. I pray that these songs, which intentionally draw from the historic church as well as modern influence, cause you to treasure your Savior, and allow for generations to stand side by side and worship together with joy. May Christ be all!

 

# # #

 

Kevin King is the worship director at Grace Worship, which is the worship ministry of Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Peoria, IL, a church that is passionate about making the gospel known through song and story. Drawing on its 150-year church history, Grace Worship brings a multi-generational focus to its debut EP Christ Be All. The EP, which is available to preorder now at https://slinky.to/ChristBeAll-EP,  is centered on Jesus' prayer in John 17 for the body to be “one” and honors the rich heritage of Christian hymnody while incorporating modern anthemic choruses and pop hooks.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

'Creating From A Place of Thankfulness' by Krissy Nordhoff

Creating From A Place of Thankfulness

It was one of those conversations I didn’t want to have because it was unexpected and hit close to home. My husband had asked how many of my actions are motivated purely by guilt. I had never really thought about that and honestly didn’t want to. But I felt prompted to examine my heart. So, I sat down and began journaling… not only is journaling how I work through my own two-way conversations with God, it’s a powerful tool in the creative process.

The more I journaled, the more I realized what an underlying foundation guilt had played throughout my life. I believe it began in childhood, when as the oldest of four kids, I always tried to make sure things were “equal” amongst us. If I felt I had more or was shown more favor than my siblings, I felt guilty, something that carried into adulthood.

I often talk about the pitfalls of comparison with the songwriters I mentor, usually from a “they have more than me” perspective. Comparison – weighing our gifts and successes against others – kills community, which is essential to our spiritual and creative wellbeing. What I hadn’t realized was that comparison was still operating in my life in the form of guilt. I came to realize, with God’s help, that my greatest gifts in life, like my husband, children, ministry, and music gifts were all things over which I carried guilt. Why? Because I knew others who wanted those things. And I just couldn’t make it equal! 

Ultimately, I believe this way of thinking is a form of pride. It appears as humility, but it actually keeps us focused on self. So, I prayed and asked the Lord to help me form a fresh foundation no longer influenced by guilt. He replied, “The opposite of guilt is thankfulness.” Wow! Thankfulness gets the focus off us and back on Him.

I also realized that when the Lord gives us a gift, the way we receive it matters. If we receive a gift with thanksgiving, it becomes a blessing. If we receive it with guilt, it can feel like a burden, a boulder in the path of our relationships with Him and others. And if you are a songwriter, musician or artist, it can become a boulder in your creative path.

These verses helped me understand a little better. 

1 Timothy 4:4-5 ESV

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is RECEIVED WITH THANKSGIVING, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. 

Colossians 3:17 NIV

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS to God the Father through him. 

Our Prayer:
Lord, let thankfulness be the foundation of my life. Help me to stop comparing myself with others and instead receive every gift that you give with thankfulness so that it becomes the blessing it was meant to be. Let everything I do be done out of thankfulness too, not out of guilt, so that you remain my focus.  Thank you, Jesus!


-- Krissy Nordhoff

Krissy Nordhoff is a professional songwriter, co-founder of the
Brave songwriting community, author, and creator of The Writing Worship Course. A Michigan native, Krissy grew up in a Christian home, learning a love for church music from her pianist grandmother. That love carried through the years as she attended Anderson University, studying songwriting with the legendary Gloria Gaither and later as Krissy taught piano and performed as an indie artist.

 

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Friday, April 3, 2020

'2020 Has Been One Of The Craziest Years... Ever...' By Phil King

 

In my own life, and I know for many others’ as well, 2020 has been an absolute roller coaster. I just released a brand-new album with Gateway Music titled “All Glory,” and I had so been looking forward to releasing it. And also, in January I asked my girlfriend’s dad if I could have his daughter’s hand in marriage, and he said yes! We got engaged in February and began all the exciting phases of wedding planning before COVID-19 suddenly struck and has seemingly taken over the world, causing me to hit pause on some of the most monumental things I’ve ever done in my life. I’ve even had some distant family members contract the virus and end up seriously hospitalized — and although they live out of state, for me this thing is hitting a little too close to home.

 

So the big questions I keep asking myself deep down is, “How do I stay steady right now? How do I stay full in my spirit? And how in the world do I thrive when the world has seemingly been thrown off its axis and into chaos?” 

 

The one thing I keep going back to is what Paul said in Ephesians 2:6, “For He (the Father) raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.” In times like this, it is really good to know that my spirit man, the most important part of my being that has been born again (John 3:1-21), is at this very moment seated alongside God and is united with Him where He is in Heaven. This is a deep deep thought — but it sure highlights the importance of being born again — and in unprecedented times like these, it is sure good to know (thanks to the Holy Spirit) that I can hold onto this truth over all others. 

 

As I  listen back to some of the songs I wrote with some good friends of mine for this album I just released, one thing I can’t help but notice is that so many of these songs remind me of the worship that happens in Heaven as recorded by John in Revelation chapters 4 and 5. This is in no way a sales pitch, but I want to encourage you to fill your home and your heart with songs like these during this time. Whether it’s my album or somebody’s else’s, I believe it is vitally important as believers that we fill our hearts and homes with the kind of worship that John said is happening in Heaven right now. COVID-19 is begging for us to dwell in fear, but what we really need to do is fill our atmospheres with Ephesians 2:6-worship that focuses on the eternal, immovable, unshakable and steadfast King that we serve.

 

1 Samuel 30:6 talks about a time when young King David was in great danger and had much to fear, but he “ found strength (encouraged Himself) in the Lord his God.” I believe as we begin to focus on Heaven while the world begs for us to focus on fear, we will  find the sustaining strength that we need and emerge from this season stronger in the Lord than ever before.

 

God bless you!

 

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About Phil King:

For much of the last decade, Phil King honed his craft, working with Jennie Lee Riddle (“Revelation Song”), Leeland, Lauren Daigle and many other influential singers and songwriters. He also sang on two Michael W. Smith albums when he was younger and traveled with him as a vocalist. King further released his pro-life anthem “Not Forgotten,” which was written last year in response to a New York law that permitted late-term abortions. The song caught the attention of FOX News, CBN, EWTN and Focus on the Family, which tapped King to lead the song as the closing anthem for 20,000 people in Times Square at its “Alive from New York,” the largest pro-life event ever held in New York City.

Hailing from Turlock, CA and now based in Dallas, King has led worship at conferences around the world, written a book on worship and released an independent album, Giants & Oceans, in 2014. After leading the worship department at Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, he is now a full-time worship pastor at Gateway Church. His aim is to carry the Presence of God everywhere he goes and the message of loving God with all that we are. the music artistry of Gateway Church. The album is available now at digital and streaming outlets globally through the link, https://smarturl.it/AllGlory-PhilKing.