Praises

 

Praise the Lord, all nations
Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Praise the Lord!

 
Psalm 117
 
This is one of my current problems: I forget to praise God.
Sounds crazy right? If you know me, you know that I LOVE to worship. 
Whether it’s leading a congregation, in the crowd or jamming out to some UNITED in my car, I am always worshiping God; 
but lately I don’t catch myself praising Him too often. 
Worship comes easy, praise, not so much. 
 
Here’s where you may be asking yourself, What’s the difference?
Let me try to define.
 
Praise is expressing a warm approval or admiration of something or someone; expressing respect or gratitude to a deity.
 
Worship is showing the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity
 
Praise seems to be a word to describe the rejoicing that takes place after something good has happened. We praise God for what He has done. 
When the Israelites were freed from Egypt, they built an altar and praised God. 
Worship takes place out of an expression of adoration or reverence. A more humble approach. A response to who God is. 
 
Again, let me be clear, I have no problem with worshiping or praising God if we leave it to these two dictionary definitions. 
But when I look into the context they are used in scripture, I begin to understand that each of them bring a different element to the entire worship experience, and that I cannot leave these to words separated by how our current dictionary defines them. 
 
As I read Psalm 117, I was struck by how short this entire chapter was. Just two verses, entirely on praising God. 
This praise seems to be a reminder that EVERYONE should be praising God, for His love is steadfast and His faithfulness endures. 
And that’s it. The whole freaking chapter. No conflict. No problems. No asking God to do something. Just a praise simply because of WHO God is. 
A praise reminding us of His love and faithfulness. 
 
This chapter doesn’t seem to stick with the dictionary definition of the word PRAISE. 
Now, if you’re like me, you’re familiar with praising…because you’re a sports fan. 
I love going to football games or watching on TV and praising anytime my team scores. 
I am expressing my “warm approval” or “adoration” of what they just did.
But according to Psalm 117, praise can happen just from a place of worship; as in an expression of adoration for WHO a person is, rather than WHAT they have just done.

 

This philosophy would change the entire game. If this were true, I should be praising and cheering on my team whether or not they do something good or bad.

If they score a touchdown. “YAAAAAY!”
If they throw an interception. “That’s right! Hit them where it hurts!”
The players would be so confused as to who i was rooting for.
 
As confusing as this is when we apply this principle to our world, when we apply it to God it seems to make more sense. 
Go ahead and this about this phrase for me:
 
God is good.
 
Just let that sink in for a moment. 
 
Your definition of whatever is GOOD comes as an extension of WHO God is
There can be no GOOD outside of God and God cannot do anything that is not GOOD.
He is the very definition of what is GOOD. 
 
He is the finest steak you’ve ever had and now compare every other steak to. 
He is the perfect passer rating.
He is the finest espresso.
He is the standard. 
 
And this is what our praise surrounds, the GOOD He has done in our lives, to which I have no problem doing.
I LOVE praising God when He shows up and does AMAZING things. 
In fact, this type of praise is what leads me to my most intimate times of worship. 

I see what God has done, that He has forgiven me, healed me or someone close to me.

Maybe He came through and answered a prayer I’ve had for a really long time and in turn I give Him glory, praise and my thankfulness leads to an intimate time of worship where my adoration for Him has grown now that I have associated the GOOD He has done with WHO He is

And there is nothing wrong with that. 

 
In fact, I think that’s how we keep our faith moving forward. 
Reminding ourselves what God HAS done and that He WILL pull us through. 
 
But I think our praise can go deeper. 
 
I think we can praise out of a heart of worship. 
I think, that I NEED to strive to be able to praise God when He hasn’t done anything at all. 
To praise God when He hasn’t spoken to me. 
When He hasn’t pulled me through and I’m still stuck in the middle.
When my prayers are unanswered and I’m waiting for a response.
 
When an interception is thrown. 
When I’m injured and out of the game. 
Doesn’t God still deserve our praise?
 
This is where I’m stuck. 
I love worshiping God because of WHO He is,
and I love praising God for WHAT He has done, 
but I struggle to combine them both; 
to praise God because of WHO He is and WHAT He hasn’t done yet. 
 
To Praise God is a response for what He has already done, 
but to Worship God in Praise is to thank Him for what He hasn’t done yet. 
 
Praise is your Worship in Faith.
 

Psalm 71:6 says “I’ve hung on you from the day of my birth, 
the day you took me from the cradle; I’ll never run out of praise.”

 

Notice, a reminder of WHO God has been leads the Psalmist to say that “he will never run out of praise.”
This suggests that God is who He is no matter what happens and still deserves to be praised no matter what your life may currently look like.
Praise is the sustenance of God.

 

This is the kind of praise revealed in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

God’s will is for us to give Him praise NO MATTER WHAT.
It’s easy to Praise God when things are good, but what about when things don’t look good.
When we can’t make sense of our lives, or what He’s doing.
Where are our Praises then?
This is where I’m at.

 

It seems like each year my life gets better, it also becomes a lot tougher.
The faith that got me through last year isn’t the faith that is going to get me through this year.
I have to grow. I’m forced to.

 

And I’m very thankful that God’s sovereignty doesn’t want me to be stagnant; but that doesn’t come without walking through some uncertainty in the present.

 

And when I read the book of Psalms, I’m reminded that I cannot just worship God, I must give Him praise;
not simply the praise for completing a request of mine, but a praise centered around WHO He has been this whole time and the HOPE of WHO He will continue to be.

 

“Praise” is mentioned in the book of Psalms over 137 times.
Some of these songs and poems were written in the darkest and most uncertain times of David and the other writers. 
Yet, their main message rings true; PRAISE GOD for WHO He is, for WHAT He has done, and for WHAT He will do.

 

God is good, all the time. 
The time has no affect on when God is good. He just is.
So don’t let the time have an effect on when you let God know that He is good.
He is good regardless of what time it is.
He is good regardless of whether I tell Him or not. 
So why does God want us to praise Him if He doesn’t need it?
God’s praises are for us

 

 
God wants us to praise Him through the uncertainty, through the pain, through the unknown.
This is putting your FAITH into action.
Praise: letting your FAITH be turned into HOPE and your HOPE turned into WORSHIP.
To praise God is to call attention to His glory.

 

Worship isn’t for God. Worship is for you. 
God doesn’t need your worship, but through your worship,
God can shape you;
HIS worth shaping WHO you are by WHO He is.
 

 

Let’s let our Praise be a reminder of WHO God is no matter what time it is. 
No matter the problem. 
No matter the uncertainty. 
Let’s magnify the LORD amidst our problems. 

 

Let’s focus on HIM, for WHO He is, for WHAT He has done and for what HE will do. 
 
Father, teach me to Praise you.

My Top 10 Albums of 2014 (On REPEAT)

*This post has been revised from it’s original version to include NEEDTOBREATHE’S Rivers in the Wasteland. I formally apologize to NEEDTOBREATHE. I will never forget you again.

 

I LOVE music! Seriously. I listen to music more hours throughout the day than I sleep sometimes. I have my favorites, the albums I play over and over again. But I also do a serious amount of searching for new artists. I love buying an album. I know these days are long gone, but I used to love the feeling of going to FYE, Target or the local record store, buying a cd and listening to it over and over again through a boombox. No headphones. No statuses to update. No liking the album online.

I would lay down on my bed, stare at the fan and listen to every single album I bought at least twice before I got up. Three times if I was lucky.
There was a time soon after Switchfoot’s ‘The Beautiful Letdown’ came out that I would fall asleep at night with it on repeat. A great idea except that I had accidently scratched the cd right where the song “On Fire” was at and I would wake up to Jon’s voice repeating the word “Mysteries-ies-ies-ies-ies-ies-ies-ies-ies-ies” endlessly until I turned it off.

I literally wore out cds.

But now we live in the digital-streaming age. I’ve grown to love Spotify. I still buy albums off of iTunes (gotta support your favorite artists and friends) and the occasional cd (1989, duh), but Spotify is a great way to branch out of your current musical-taste bubble and discover some great music you could be missing out on!

That all being said, I’d like to comprise a list of my favorite albums of 2014! Mind you, this isn’t necessarily my list of the “Best” albums of 2014, these are just the ones I found myself pushing the repeat button on more than once! Maybe they are worth listening to! All albums are posted with a Spotify hyperlink! (Purchasing albums is the best way to show love to your artist)

10. One Direction – FOUR (Deluxe)

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Okay don’t hate me. I had to give it to them, this album is catchy as FRICK. In 2014, I became a 1D fan. “Story Of My Life” caught me by surprise. Those boys can SING. And they’ve got style (someone will catch this joke). This album fuses boy-band craziness with rock anthem style and that’s a pretty great mixture if you ask me!

Notable Songs: “Stockholm Syndrome” “Steal My Girl” “18” “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” “Fool’s Gold”

 

9. Brooke Fraser – Brutal Romantic

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I have to be honest, I didn’t expect this sort of album from Brooke Fraser. She’s grown into her sound but hasn’t lost her RIDICULOUS talent for lyric content. Give it a listen, you’ll have this weird taste in your mouth wondering how you feel. Give it another listen. You’ll love it.

Notable Songs: “Psychosocial” “Brutal Romance” “New Year’s Eve”

 

8.  Bleachers – Strange Desire

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This dude from fun. totally captures the 80’s pop-rock sound and refuels it. This is another “summer” album. Road trip. Beaching. Running. This is really an anytime album! Have fun!

Notable Songs: “Rollercoaster” “I Wanna Get Better” “Wild Heart”

 

 

7.  NEEDTOBREATHE – Rivers In The Wasteland

610zMH8VYyLThis album is fantastic. Some of the best writing NEEDTOBREATHE has ever done. They continue to out due themselves every time. Make sure you catch them live.

 

Notable Songs: “Wasteland” “State I’m In” “Difference Maker” “Multiplied”

 

6. Coldplay – Ghost Stories

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A different sound from Coldplay with this one, but just what we needed. I really feel like this album was too short. They could have put one out twice as long and I still would have complained and begged for more. Go for a drive. Head for the ocean.

 

Notable Songs: “Midnight” “A Sky Full Of Stars” “Magic” “True Love” “Always In My Head” “O”

 

5.  Bellarive – Before There Was

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The best “unknown” worship band of all time. Bellarive is local to Orlando, FL but they are getting pretty well known around the world. They aren’t necessarily a CCM-radio worship band, but that’s a GREAT thing. They are changing the way that we see and experience worship. This album is their best yet, and their others are GREAT as well!

 

Notable Songs: “Calling On Fire” “Let There Be Light” “Lazarus” also THE WHOLE FREAKING THING

 

4.  Bethel Music – You Make Me Brave (Live)

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I’m not sure I would have made it through the year without this album. If at any time you are struggling to find the presence of God in your life, PLAY THIS ALBUM. He’ll be there by the first minute of “You Make Me Brave.”
Close your doors. Turn off your lights. Put on this album. Get into your posture of prayer. Your life will change.

 

Notable Songs: “You Make Me Brave” “It Is Well” “Forever” “Joy Of The Lord” “Come To Me” “Anchor”

 

3.  Foster The People – Supermodel

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Usually a band goes through a “sophomore slump” with their second album. Not Foster The People! This album is EXCELLENT! Listen over and over. The lyric content will surprise you once. So many metaphors and symbols. Plus, its pretty groovy.

Notable Songs: “Coming of Age” “Are You What You Want To Be?” “The Truth” “Fire Escape”

 

2.  Colony House – When I Was Younger

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GO LISTEN TO THIS NOW! I rode my bicycle to work everyday this summer and this album was that soundtrack. These are some seriously talented guys with GREAT, I mean GREAT lyrics. I’ve never heard a band’s debut album be this put together. They know what they want to sound like and they NAIL it! You’ll love it.

Notable Songs: THE WHOLE FREAKING THING

 

1. Taylor Swift – 1989

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DUH! You can’t be one of the best selling albums of all time and not be number 1! It’s no secret that Taylor is my favorite Woman artist right now, and probably always will be. I thought I loved her music in “RED” but Taylor has finally settled into HER SOUND with “1989.” It’s not on Spotify, but it’s worth the buy. I bought it the regular AND the deluxe! I’ve listened to this album so much, my car starts playing it automatically when I turn it on. Enjoy!

Notable Songs(besides the whole thing?!?!): “Wildest Dreams” “Shake It Off” “Style” “Out of the Woods” “This Love”

 

Honorable mentions:  Bad Suns – Language & PerspectiveYoung the Giant – Mind Over MatterNONONO – We Are Only What We FeelAmerican Authors – Oh, What A LifeWalk the Moon – TALKING IS HARDalt-J – This Is All YoursSt. Lucia – When The Night (Deluxe)The Colourist – The ColouristLecrae – Anomaly

For a playlist of the Top 10 (minus Taylor) click here:  Top 10 Albums of 2014 (On Repeat)

Be sure to post any of your favorite albums of 2014 down in the comments and I will be sure to take a listen!
Here’s to 2015! Still the year of Taylor, but there is loads of NEW music to keep an eye out for!

 

gb

Fading West…Just listen to it.

fading west cover

If you’ve been friends with me for any amount of time you know of my unhealthy obsession with Switchfoot.
Whether you were never a fan, only a fan because of “A Walk to Remember”, or the last SF song you listened to was “Meant to Live” back in 03, I’m going to explain to you why you should give SF your undivided attention.
(WARNING: this is probably my worst written post of all time. THE POINT: Listen to an album, go to a SF show. Fall in love. Boom.)

I was first introduced to SF sometime around 2001 after they had released their 3rd album and before they were used for almost the entire “A Walk to Remember” soundtrack. But I didn’t start paying close attention to them until I bought “The Beautiful Letdown” sometime in 03 and went to my first SF show, which was FREE, in my small little hometown fair. They had just spent their first year signed to a major label and were still playing small town shows with the passion of an area performance.

I was captivated by the words coming from Jon Foreman’s mouth. I was only 14 at the time, but I was able to see the heart behind the music for the first time. It’s like everything clicked. I would never listen to a SF song the same after that. Once I saw how moved the band is by their own songs on stage, every night, I became moved every single time I listened afterward.

Now, for many of you this was the first and last SF album you ever listened to and I’m not sure why. “The Beautiful Letdown” was a very well put together record both musically and lyrically. Jon talks a lot about the battle between the human condition and the life we are called to live. The more I listened to this album the more I realized that it wasn’t Jon’s amazing talent in writing or the band as a whole musically. What I was really attracted to was the way SF allows God to speak through the lyrics in their music.

Album after album, SF redefines their musical style and lyric, always furthering the exploration within themselves.

“The Legend of Chin” 1997 – the complacency of youth, love and why.
“New Way to be Human” 1999 – the search of the only thing that can satisfy our souls
“Learning to Breathe” 2000 – walking, breathing, living in this world that tries to distract us from our destiny, the thing we were destined for
“The Beautiful Letdown” 2003 – realizing this world has nothing to offer and the only thing you need is grace
“Nothing is Sound” 2005 – dark and hopeless times are imperative in our search for the light
“Oh! Gravity” 2006 – an honest look at our souls when everything is turned upside down
“Hello Hurricane” 2009 – how do you define yourself in the face of a storm
“Vice Verses” 2011 – the polarity of life. blessings and curses. the things you leave behind and the things you take with you, all awhile searching for a place to belong
“Fading West” 2014 – the search for the song, the wave, the wings to carry you home, the thing that stops time and hits the reset button allowing you to reconnect with the journey and enjoy the life you’ve been given.

It’s hard to explain the songwriting method. It’s different for everyone. But the way Jon writes is exceptionally satisfying and humble. Jon describes it as an ongoing search. As if the songs are out there and it’s the search to uncover them like you would uncover a hidden tomb or bones of a dinosaur. You uncover it one stone at a time. One bone at a time. Never knowing what it fully is until you’ve uncovered it all and you look at it in awe of this masterpiece that you could have never envisioned on your own, but you’ve created it somehow.

I call this divine inspiration.

I’ve watched almost every interview with Jon and the band I can get my hands on and every time Jon reveals the same secret to his song writing. He says in his most recent interview, “I use music as a way to talk about things I don’t understand. I use it to ask questions that I do not have answers to.” Whether its God, girls, politics or simply about why they love music so much, SF seems to always write the songs that connects with my soul.

I’ve personally met Jon on several occasions and I’ve never met such a humble man of God on the planet like him. I envy his ability to connect everyone in the room into one song, one heartbeat, one moment of unity every single night while traveling the world. And I think it’s because Jon realizes that there is someone greater in control and we are all a part of His Kingdom. Everyone has a song. A purpose. Meaning. Everyone is meant to live for so much more than the american dream and Jon has found a way to put the things that inspire him to live greater into a song and let that song inspire others.

It’s Jon’s raw passion on stage and how clearly you can hear his heart in the lyrics that makes me want to be a better musician, performer, and a better man. It’s hard not to try and emulate a band that is just being real. There are a lot of musical acts out there who are only in it for the money and fame and SF is definitely not that band. Now I know not everyone is going to like SF. They’re the kind of band that you either LOVE with the entirety of your soul or you just don’t care for, and I’m fine with that. BUT, if you’ve never given SF a second or third chance I really urge you to do so.

SF just released their 9th album! Crazy right? Bet you didn’t know that. It’s called Fading West and it’s not only an album but a documentary film about their travels across the world chasing songs and waves. This inside look on life, love and why is amazing for the die-hard fan as well as the avid surfer.

Since my first encounter, I have been blessed to have rubbed shoulders (quite literally if you remember Tim a few years ago) with SF and those have been some of the best nights of my life. If you never become a die-hard fan like me, I won’t hate you for it. But I do want you as my friend, family, or even if I’ve never met you before to give SF your undivided attention. Put an album of theirs on. Get alone. Quiet. Just listen to the music and let your Spirit become tuned to what is being said in and between the lines. 

I may never be the best songwriter or have the best voice in the world, or even sell a million records for that matter. But one thing I will be is a real human being talking about what it truly means to live in this world a sinner, incomplete, in desperate need of grace and how we are all living this life in search of meaning and a higher calling. That’s truth. That’s real and it’s what believers and non-believers alike are searching for. Authenticity. 

 -gb

 

But I’m not sentimental 
This skin and bones is a rental
And no one makes it out alive

Until I die, I’ll sing these songs
On the shores of Babylon
Still looking for a home
In a world where I belong

Where the weak are finally strong
Where the righteous right the wrongs
Still looking for a home
In a world where I belong

“Where I Belong” – Switchfoot, Vice Verses