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» The Story Behind the Music Video

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The music video for There Is No Sin That I Have Done has been out for a couple of weeks now, and I'd like to share the story behind it. If you had asked me whether I'd ever make a music video as part of Reformed Praise a couple of years ago, I would have laughed, and laughed hard. I'm not naturally a great performing singer and could never have envisioned myself on screen in a production anything like you'd see on music television. Besides, I write worship songs – songs intended for congregations to sing – a genre whose songs are normally accompanied by music videos, unless they are of a live performance in a worship setting (like Hillsongs videos).

A friend and fellow member of my local church runs a music and video production studio, but I wasn't able to work with him on our last album, Merciful to Me. After the album was finished, I was approached by another member of our church, who asked me if I had any work I could give to the studio. Since I didn't have any music recording projects lined up, I couldn't... (continue reading...)

» There Is No Sin That I Have Done - Official Music Video

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We're thrilled to share the official music video for our song There Is No Sin That I Have Done on the album Merciful to Me. Special thanks goes to Terrell Ferguson at 121 Studios for directing the film. We'll share more about how this video came to be later, but for now the video alone will have to suffice. May God be glorified as people experience this song in a new way through the amazing medium of video.

» Responding to Judgment Day Predictions

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In the mid 1990s I used to periodically listen to a radio station in New Jersey founded by Harold Camping called Family Radio. Once I started hearing Camping teach about the Bible and learned of his failed predication that Jesus would return in 1994, I lost interest in listening. This same group has garnered a huge amount of publicity in the past few weeks, making the national media spotlight with Camping's prediction that the new day of judgment was today, May 21st, 2011.

While much biblical prophecy about the end of the world is clouded by culturally removed symbolism, all evangelical, "Bible-believing" Christians agree that Judgment Day is real. As Jesus said in Mark 13:32, "concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." The world will be destroyed and re-made, but not even Jesus knows the specific time of His return. Amazingly, Harold Camping thinks that he has come to understand the living Word of God better than the Word Himself (Jesus is called the "Word" in John chapter 1).

Predictions of a judgment day have been... (continue reading...)

» Worship Values: Worship Must Be Congregationally Oriented

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[ We've been working on rewriting our mission and also creating a series of "values" about worship that will communicate our vision for what worship should be all about. While those aren't completely finalized, I think it will be helpful to share some thoughts about each value in a series of short posts. ]

What kind of worship do we want to cultivate? Sixth: Congregationally Oriented

Gathered Worship
I like to call public worship "gathered worship" to emphasize several things including this very value. God commands that we worship Him in several spheres of our lives - in private, in our families, and with our local churches. I'll write more on these spheres next time in our seventh and last worship value. It is certainly true that worship is for God, and in an overarching sense, directed to God; after all, we are to worship God, not anything or anyone else. But at the same time, God wants our gathered worship to be edifying to the church. He has designed the church's public gatherings as a time when the entire church can participate, utilize their spiritual gifts, and be edified. Look... (continue reading...)

» A Personal Tribute to Chip Stam

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While there have been several fitting tributes to Chip Stam shared in the past week (Ware and Schreiner, Pierre, SBTS), I would like to share a more personal tribute and explain how Chip and I got to know each other and what he meant to me.

My first memories of "Chip" (Carl) Stam date back to the early 1990s when I was a high school student in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I became a Christian at the age of twelve and within a few years joined a church on my own called the Chapel Hill Bible Church. I was very involved in the youth group and worshiped there just about every Sunday. I remember pastor Jim Abrahamson preaching verse by verse through the book of Romans and Chip's ever-smiling face as he strummed his guitar and led the music on Sundays.

Chip had a flourishing music program which included both a choir and small ensemble with woodwind instruments and a rhythm section. The church used a variety of songs, the majority being the so-called "praise choruses" from that period including many songs by Graham Kendrick. This was the musical language of my... (continue reading...)

» Free Download of "He is Risen"

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Joshua Otte is offering his recording of the Reformed Praise hymn "He is Risen" off his Already But Not Yet project as a free download through NoiseTrade.

Get the download here. Pass along the word to your friends.

Thanks, Joshua!

» Worship Values: Worship Must Be Culturally Accessible

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[ We've been working on rewriting our mission and also creating a series of "values" about worship that will communicate our vision for what worship should be all about. While those aren't completely finalized, I think it will be helpful to share some thoughts about each value in a series of short posts. ]

What kind of worship do we want to cultivate? Fifth: Culturally Accessible

This might be the most controversial value because of the various positions theologians have taken regarding the Church's relationship to culture. Culture can be simply defined as the customs, values, and social forms, of a particular group of people. This includes both physical and body language, social customs such as how people express affection, and what drives, to some extent, aesthetics in areas like music, art, and architecture. We could also use the word "style" to represent what we are getting at by using the word culture. Mankind is made up of many cultures, even sub-cultures. Because of modern society's amazing ability to communicate (in various forms), travel, and trade, people associate around shared styles even within geographic areas. In fact, in developed countries, one... (continue reading...)

» Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted

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With Good Friday just 10 days away, I had to post what has become one of my favorite hymns on the weight of the cross. "Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted" was penned by Thomas Kelly in 1804, and it can be found in the Trinity Hymnal. We have used it at Grace Community Church in many of our Good Friday services. The original tune (or at least the one in the Trinity Hymnal) is very strong and can be arranged in a modern sound very easily. I will let the words speak for themselves.

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted, see him dying on the tree.
‘Tis the Christ by man rejected; yes, my soul, ‘tis he, ‘tis he.
‘Tis the long-expected Prophet, David’s son, yet David’s Lord -
By His Son, God now has spoken; ‘tis the true and faithful word.

Tell me, ye who hear him groaning, was there ever grief like this?
Friends through fear his cause disowning, foes insulting his distress;
Many hands were raised to wound him, none would interpose to save.
But the deepest stroke that pierced him was the stroke that justice gave.

Ye who think... (continue reading...)

» Gospel Coalition Conference

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I'll be attending the Gospel Coalition conference in Chicago this week where there will be three concerts of worship music given by fellow songwriters and artists who share a love for old hymns and theologically rich worship music. If you are going to be attending the conference this week and know about Reformed Praise, I'd love to meet you; just contact me through the website or just leave comment on this post (they are moderated, so if you pass me your phone number I'll make sure the comment doesn't get posted)

On Tuesday, April 12 at 9 PM several artists from the Indelible Grace Music, Sojourn Music, and Bifrost Arts will put on a concert of old/new hymns.

On Wednesday, April 13 at 9 PM Keith and Kristyn Getty will share their music

On Thursday, April 14 at 8 PM several Christian hip-hop artists will share a concert titled "We Are Unashamed"

The full schedule is available here

» Christianity Today - Focus on Worship

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The March 2011 issue of Christianity Today features several articles about worship and congregational singing. Allow me to draw your attention to two notable resources.

First, John Koessler's article titled "The Trajectory of Worship" follows the writer's personal journey through decades of worship music changes to the place where he finds himself today, a self-titled curmudgeon, struggling with his personal distaste for much of the music used in public worship. After admitting his struggle, he offers this insight which I find to be rife with humility and wisdom:
Like most churchgoers, I tend to view worship as something that moves from earth to heaven. We think of worship as something that originates with us, our gift to God. Perhaps this is why so many of us are conflicted about it. We consider worship to be an expression of our personal devotion. So when the musical style or some expression gets in the way, we don't feel like it is our worship at all. It is someone else's idea of worship. Perhaps the worship leader's or that of the majority. But not our own. - p.20
He then goes on... (continue reading...)

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