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My Top 10 Favorite Christmas Albums

December 26, 2012 Leave a comment
North Point Christmas

My favorite album this year.

Since it’s about time to take all of the Christmas music off of my iPod, I thought I would share with you the top 10 Christmas albums I enjoyed this year. They weren’t necessarily released this year, just ones I listened to most for the Christmas holidays in 2012.

1) North Point Christmas – This album was released in 2010. North Point Community Church is the main campus of the church I attend (Buckhead Church). It contains songs by several of the worship leaders at both campuses including Seth Condrey, Chrystina Fincher, Todd Fields, Eddie Kirkland, Casey Darnell, and Chinua Hawk. Whenever I listen to these songs, it makes me feel like I’m at church worshiping our awesome God!

2) PTXmas by PentatonixPentatonix is an a cappella group that won the third season of the reality show The Sing-Off. Their unique sound blends pop, dance, and electronic music just using their voices.

3) A Very She & Him ChristmasShe & Him is made up of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. This album to me is a representation of a “modern day classic.” It has a very nostalgic sound and feel…it reminds me of the Christmas music we listened to when I was a child.

4) A Myx’d Christmas by Scott BlackwellScott Blackwell was the first Christian DJ I had ever heard. This is just good Christmas music to which you can dance. It has classic Christmas songs everyone knows plus a few original tracks.

5) When My Heart Finds Christmas by Harry Connick, Jr. – It’s hard to believe this album was released in 1993 because it is so timeless to me. Harry Connick, Jr. has an amazing voice that is much like that of Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin. Listening to this album was the first time I had ever heard him. You have your classic Christmas songs along with original songs (my favorite track has to be I Pray On Christmas).

6) If Every Day Was Like Christmas by Elvis Presley – I can’t help but think of Elvis Presley’s Blue Christmas when I think of Christmas music. This album makes me think of a time when all was right with the world (so to speak)….the simpler times. You didn’t worry about the troubles of today…you just spent time with your family and friends enjoying Christmas and all that came with the holiday.

7) Christmas Songs by Jars of Clay – Dan Haseltine’s voice just puts me in a good mood no matter what is going on around me. Jars of Clay has been one of my favorite bands over the years and this is a great sample of the sound.

8) The Family Force 5 Christmas Pageant – Gotta show some love to the guys from the ATL! Family Force 5 has a unique sound that is all their own. This is just a fun album that mixes pop, rock, rap, and dance with Christmas music.

9) Christmas Remixed: Holiday Classics Re-Grooved – I am a big fan of remixes and mash-ups and this album is a great example of what makes Christmas fun and exciting. It’s the classic Christmas songs you remember, but with a twist.

10) Merry Mixmas: Christmas Classics Remixed – Another album that shows several examples of classic Christmas songs with a modern twist.

What Christmas albums were your favorites to listen to this year?

Photo Credit: By Amazon.com

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Psalm 40 and U2

March 26, 2012 2 comments
prayer

"I waited patiently for the Lord..."

This afternoon I had a coffee meeting with a friend from church. Before I met with her, I had few minutes to spare and so I opened my Bible to Psalm 40. For some reason I just found I could relate more to this passage right now. As I shared with my friend over coffee, I do not really feel like I have anyone against me…but I do feel like I’ve been through the muck and mire when it comes to things in my life lately – job search, SUV issues, and some personal matters.

I love how The Message version of the Bible translates several verses in this passage:

Psalm 40:1-2 “I waited and waited and waited for God. At last He looked, finally He listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip.”

I honestly feel like I am still in that “waiting for God” stage most days. I know eventually He will lift me out of the circumstances with which I am dealing and put me in a safe place, but right now I feel like He is using those circumstances to help grow me and to teach me something.

Psalm 40:11-15 “Now God, don’t hold out on me, don’t hold back your passion. Your love and truth are all that keeps me together. When troubles ganged up on me, a mob of sins past counting, I was so swamped by guilt I couldn’t see my way clear. More guilt in my heart than hair on my head, so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out. Soften up, God, and intervene; hurry and get me some help, so those who are trying to kidnap my soul will be embarrassed and lose face, so anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable will be heckled and disgraced, so those who pray for my ruin will be booed and jeered without mercy.”

In some ways I can related to David (the author of this passage). I do feel like I’m waiting for God to intervene and do something – and do it quickly. However, I do not feel like anyone is intentionally trying to make me miserable or that anyone is praying for my ruin. The only things that I feel like I’m facing are circumstances that are brought on by the devil (and not in a “the devil made me do it…he’s in everything that I see as negative” type of way, but I do believe he is alive and well and orchestrating things behind the scenes to trip us up and denounce our faith — “spiritual warfare” as it is often called) and I would love to see him embarrassed, lose face, heckled, disgraced, and a whole lot more!

Psalm 40:17 “Let those who know what You’re all about tell the world You’re great and not quitting. And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing: make something of me. You can do it, You’ve got what it takes — but God, don’t put it off.”

This is a great reminder that God is not finished with me (or any of us for that matter) yet! I agree 100% with David – I am a mess on my own, but through Christ I have the strength to do all things (Philippians 4:13).

Each time I read this passage, I immediately think of U2’s song “40.” Enjoy a live rendition of this song in the video below.

Photo Credit: By Chris Yarzab

You Make Beautiful Things

September 13, 2011 2 comments
Gungor-Beautiful-Things

"Beautiful Things" by Gungor is amazing!

Music is one of my passions. Hearing moving lyrics together with amazing instrumentation is just something that moves me. Last week at church we had re:Group (an annual small group leader training) and at the end of the night, the worship band played this song I had never heard. The lyrics felt like they were speaking directly to me – like they were written by me to a loving Heavenly Father who is providing for me and taking care of me. The song is “Beautiful Things” by the group Gungor. Here are just a few of the lyrics:

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

This song just reminds me that regardless of the circumstances that are going on around me, God can use them to make something beautiful. Even with all that is going on in my life right now, it is comforting to know that I have not been forgotten and that everything is not happening in vain.

Enjoy “Beautiful Things” by Gungor below.

Photo Credit: By Amazon.com

Maybe She Did Just Need A Friend – RIP Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse

Amy Jade Winehouse (1983 - 2011)

“I don’t ever wanna drink again. I just, ooh, I just need a friend.”
– Amy Winehouse from Rehab

By now, you have probably heard that singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London home on Saturday, July 23. What is so sad about this tragedy is that Winehouse has become a part of what some call the “27 Club” (a group of musicians who all died at the age of 27) – this group includes Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain. It is widely known that Winehouse had a problem with drugs and alcohol. What caused her to turn to these substances? One will never really know.

Some say she was lonely, so maybe she did truly need a friend like her song said. The songstress had a strong amount of influence on her fans and the public, whether it be through her music or her fashion (she single-handedly brought back the beehive hairdo). Her album sales have sky rocketed since her passing. Part of me wonders if she really had any friends – I’m not talking these “yes man” people who tell you what you want to hear…I’m talking about true friends who tell you what you need to hear whether you want to hear it or not. This is not an excuse for her bad choices, but if she possibly had someone in her life to encourage her to make the right decisions she might still be with us today.

Her personal problems had a tendency to overshadow her music. She was a very talented individual who has influenced artists like Adele and Duffy. Watch the video below of Winehouse’s first appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Photo Credit: By Fionn Kidney

Waiting Is The Hardest Part…

July 20, 2011 2 comments

This is something I wrote back in October 2007, but it is still very pertinent today. Enjoy!


Wait, wait on You. My hands are tied and I’m broken in two. No sense trying to wear Your crown. You are King so I lay it down. Wait, wait on You. My will is dead and I’m black and blue. You know best and You are true. Give me strength to trust in You and wait.
-“Wait” written and performed by Todd Fields on his 2000 release, Now For Then

Woman waiting

Waiting is never easy!

In a world of minute rice, instant coffee, and microwave popcorn we are called to “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 37:7a) More often than not, I have found myself crying out to God, “Why?!?!” Patience is not (and will probably never be) one of my spiritual gifts. I want things to happen in my timing or not at all… I hate to wait.

Isaiah 30:18 tells us, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!” We can be blessed if we are willing to wait, but I have to admit that quite frequently I would rather see things resolved immediately than to have to wait for a blessing that may not happen when I think it should. When I question God about the “hold-ups” that occur in my life, I feel like Jesus is answering me directly (instead of His disciples) in Matthew 17:20a when He replies, “Because you have so little faith.”

When I examine my faith, I have to know that true faith is “…being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) If I can see something, I know I can depend on it and place my faith in it. When it comes to an unseen God, sometimes (more than I would like to admit) I am very reluctant with my faith. Often it takes Him showing me that “We live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) Other times it takes Him giving me what I want like a spoiled brat so that I can truly see that I do not know what is best for me after all.

Every time I hear James 1:4 “Perseverance must finish its work so that you can be mature and complete, not lacking anything,” I am reminded of the road trips and vacations that I took with my family as a child. Between me and my two younger brothers, one of us would frequently be asking, “Are we there yet?” I often find myself asking God the same thing. “Am I there yet? Am I complete? Have I matured? Have I persevered enough?”

Just like the family road trips, the destination gives us something to look forward to upon our arrival. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) Renewed strength, the ability to run and not get weary, and the ability to walk and not faint are far better than a week at the beach, the mountains, or even Grandma’s house! (Sorry Grandma!) I challenge you (as well as myself) to continue to ask Him “Am I there yet?” and if the answer is “No” then how are you preparing yourself for the time Christ brings you there?

Photo Credit: By Josep Ma. Rosell

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