Touching Lives for God with Chris Tomlin

Touching Lives for God with Chris Tomlin

Lifest – Oshkosh, WI

Ever-popular Christian artist Chris Tomlin has been leading people in glorifying God, and recording worship songs that are widely used by churches, for over a decade. He continues to come out with songs that become hit worship anthems, touching a multitude of lives for God through his music.

Love Ran Red

The title of Chris Tomlin’s most recent album, Love Ran Red, comes from his favorite song on the album, “At the Cross,” which he considers the centerpiece of the album. “It’s really a special song to me, and obviously that’s why we titled the record that,” he explains. He goes on to say that there have been people outside of the body of Christ who ask what “love ran red” means, providing the perfect opportunity to tell them about what Jesus did for them at the cross. “When I say ‘love ran red,’ I’m talking about the love of Jesus, the cross, and the blood of Jesus,” Chris Tomlin informs. “When I think about my music, I’m trying to do two things – share about the greatness of God, and the grace of God . . .” he continues, stating that this was where he was heading with Love Ran Red. The album includes songs like “Almighty,” which are all about the greatness, majesty, and holiness of God, and songs such as “Jesus Loves Me,” which are centered around God’s grace, demonstrating that he met his goal.

What Is Worship?

Chris Tomlin, who has long been involved in leading others in worship, defines worship as our response to God. “For me, it is responding to God for what He’s done in my life, who He is in my life,” he states. “I try to write songs to help people respond to God,” he continues. He explains that everyone worships something – that what you worship is what sits on the throne of your life, which you consider of highest value. For many people, that’s God, but there are many with whom that isn’t the case. According to Chris Tomlin, worship is about much more than singing. It’s responding in how you live your life. “Every part of our life is a worship moment to God,” he concludes.

Favorite Bible Verse

Chris Tomlin’s favorite Bible verse is Romans 11:36 – “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (NASB) “I love how that just captures everything – that one simple verse,” he explains. He compares it to the doxology, saying that it captures all the theology and what we’re talking about during worship.

This summer, I had the opportunity to chat with Chris Tomlin at Lifest. See what he had to say about the role worship plays in his life, his advice to those who are having a difficult time connecting with God during worship, and more!

Myths About Christian Music

Myths About Christian Music

There are a number of myths about Christian music that have become quite popular. Are they really as true as they sound? Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Myth – All Christian music sounds the same. There’s no musical diversity. If I want to listen to a certain style, I need to turn on secular music.

Christian music is no less diverse than secular music. In music in general, whether secular or Christian, there are trends that are popular for a while, then fade away to be replaced by the next big thing. Maybe you aren’t into the trend that is popular right now, but rest assured that it will soon be replaced by another musical trend – one that may be more to your liking. And there are bands with styles different from what is currently in. All it takes is a little time exploring the world of Christian music to find one you love!

Myth – Christian music isn’t very good quality-wise. Musically, it can’t even begin to compare to secular songs.

Just like in the secular music biz, there are Christian songs that are less than stellar musically-speaking, and ones with high-quality music. And though it’s great to listen to music that you love, you need to pay a little attention to the lyrics as well, because what you are constantly listening to will eventually begin to affect how you view things.

Myth – Christian music isn’t as deep as it used to be, or should be.

Yet songs that don’t talk about Jesus at all are more deep? And some of the songs that we think are very surface-level, filled with “simple” concepts like the fact that God loves us and gives us second chances, are actually a lot more deep than we may think. God’s love and grace are so great we could study them forever, yet never do more than skim the surface. And the fact that Jesus gave His life for us when we didn’t even care about Him doesn’t make sense in the natural. It takes the help of the Holy Spirit to really understand what He did for us at the cross.

Myth – Who’s to say what makes music “Christian?” Any song that is positive or morally sound is Christian music.

This is probably the myth that I’ve heard the most often. Think about it like this – does being a good person get you to heaven? No, it doesn’t! In the same way, you can have a good song that isn’t necessarily a Christian song. How do you tell whether or not a song is a Christian song? It’s very simple – does it talk about Christ? If it doesn’t have anything to do with Him, then no matter how good it is, it probably isn’t a Christian song. Why is it some important to listen to Christian music? Because songs that are centered on Christ can encourage you in your faith and help you draw close to God in a way that secular songs simply can’t!

Which of these myths have you heard?

Introducing I Am They

i am they again

Lifest – Oshkosh, WI

Newcomers to the Christian music scene I Am They are off to a great start in their career! They released their self-titled debut album towards the end of this past January, and have been going strong ever since. They joined the Rock and Worship Roadshow this past winter/spring, alongside MercyMe, Jamie Grace, Group 1 Crew, and other big-name artists in the faith-based music biz, in addition to joining Matt Maher for the Saints and Sinners tour. Recently, they were nominated for the Dove Awards New Artist of the Year award!

I Am They originally formed as a worship ministry in 2008, called Solomon’s Porch. In 2011, the band took on the name I Am They, the name they’ve become known by professionally. The band has felt blessed to do what they’ve been doing, pursuing God’s call for them, which has been quite a journey!

When asked to describe the band’s style of music, Adam Palmer called it folk-pop. “We’re very much an acoustic band,” he continues – with few, if any, electric guitars, or anything like that, on their album. He said their sound is very organic, because that’s what they both started with and write on. “We just kind of stick to what we know,” he explains.

I Am They’s debut album contains 10 songs that band member Adam Palmer says are very precious to them – very much from their stories and their hearts. “It’s been neat to see how the church and how the listeners have been able to just kind of own those (the songs) as prayers with a melody,” he continues. “It’s been amazing to see how these songs are touching people’s lives.” Band member Matt Hein said that some ladies he worked with for 10 years who don’t know Jesus or listen to Christian music actually picked up a cd, and haven’t taken it out of their cd player since! “They’re hearing the gospel for the first time,” Matt says, “and for us, that’s what it’s all about, so that’s been very, very much a blessing for us, as well.”

I Am They has come out with music videos for two of their songs – “From the Day,” and “Your Love Is Mine.”  The video for “From the Day,” the band’s first single, was filmed out in a field that’s right out in their back yard, in Nevada. “You can tell we’re in Nevada, because our faces are all wind-blown . . .” Matt Hein comments. The video for “Your Love Is Mine” was actually filmed amidst the trees in the forest!

If you like music with a folksy/slightly country kind of feel, make sure you check out I Am They’s debut album. They have had a great beginning to their career, and a bright future ahead of them!

Over the summer, I got to chat with a few of the band members. See what they have to say about the band’s journey so far, and their hopes and plans for the future!

Catching Up with Kutless – Ministry Opportunities

Catching Up with Kutless
Lifest – Oshkosh, WI

Recording and performing gives Christian artists unique opportunities to minister to others, both onstage and offstage. One of the ways Kutless uses their platform to do this is by getting involved with helping out those who have been in the military.

“We actually feel like we can identify with a lot of military guys, to a certain extent,” lead singer Jon Micah Sumerall claims. “. . . talking with a lot of those guys as we travel on the road, we realize we have some very similar struggles.” What are some of those struggles? Spending a great deal of time away from their families, consequently needing to intentionally pour into their marriages and kids’ lives to keep those relationships doing well, and continuing to grow spiritually, since touring takes them away from their home church quite a bit of the time, and they can’t always attend church on Sundays while on the road. The band has a heart for these military members, whose families pay for the fact that they’re off serving their country. Kutless offers free concert tickets to active military members and their spouses, encouraging them to spend time together as a couple, and to invite their friends who are also a part of the military. In addition, the band helps out the Samaritan’s Purse organization Operation Heal Our Patriots, which reaches out to wounded military members.

To hear more about the kind of opportunities Kutless finds as a band to minister to others, and the secret to doing so effectively, check out this video from Generation Arise’s YouTube channel!

Catching Up with Kutless – the Music

Catching Up with Kutless - the Music
Lifest – Oshkosh, WI

Christian band Kutless has been in the music industry for a number of years now, having released their first album in the early 2000s. Over the years, the band has demonstrated both the hardcore and more laid back sides of contemporary Christian music. Kutless has fluctuated between a heavier rock sound and more of a worshipful style, with the band’s latest album, Glory, falling on the more worshipful side, and focusing primarily on glorifying our Heavenly Father.

While writing Glory, which guitarist James Mead describes as “vertical, exaltation-based praise music,” the band was studying the book of Revelation. “What we were really struck by,” he states, “is that in the Bible, in the scenes of worship you see in heaven all throughout Scripture, it is very much focused on Christ, and it is not very self-centered.” Mead mentions how in Revelation 4-5, it talks about the nations being gathered before the throne, and when Jesus steps into the throne room, it becomes an unanimous praise party. “We felt like ‘Man, that is exactly what we would hope for our concerts to be like,’” he continues. The band even jokingly started referring to it as “heaven practice!”

The song “In Jesus’ Name,” which is featured on Glory, reminds us that it is in Christ that we are saved and healed, and points listeners to Him. Lead singer Jon Micah Sumerall says that in Portland, Oregon, where the members of Kutless live, the name of God can be pretty generic, and used for a lot of different things. When you say Jesus, however, it becomes very specific. “The song really focuses in on the fact that there’s power in the name of Jesus,” Jon Micah Sumerall states.

All Kutless fans will be excited to know that a new album is in the works! The band will be working with the producer who did their first several albums. They’ve been writing new music. “We’re kind of turning back to the heavy days, which is gonna be super fun,” guitarist James Mead informs. “We just wanted to come out, and just do something crazy again, so we’re gonna rock your faces off!” The band will be touring this fall with Mark Shultz, Rush of Fools, David Dunn, and Natasha Owens, playing in about 30 different cities!

What is your favorite song and/or album by Kutless? Will you be attending one of the shows on their tour this fall?

American Idol and the Music Industry with Colton Dixon

cd edit
Lifest – Oshkosh, WI

Before Colton Dixon performed at Lifest, I got to chat with him about what he took away spiritually from American Idol, the pressures of the music industry, and how he’s seen them affect people. To see what he had to say, check out this video from Generation Arise’s YouTube channel (Generation Arise is my site geared specifically towards teens and young adults)!

Colton Dixon finished in 7th place on the 11th season of American Idol. He has gone on to establish a career in the Christian music industry. With many devoted fans, Colton Dixon has a great platform to encourage others in their faith through his music!

Colton Dixon’s most recent album, Anchor, is all about distractions, and focusing on your relationship with God.  While touring, Colton discovered how easy it can be to get distracted on the road, even just by the little things that will steal your time if you let them. Sometimes in ministry, you can begin to count the time you spend ministering to others as your time with Jesus, and Colton realized he wasn’t getting the personal time that he needed with God, which was necessary as an anchor in his life.

Colton Dixon’s single, “Through All Of It,” has done extremely well. Colton did a social media campaign in support of the single and its message, encouraging people to send in their stories of how God has been with them through all of it – both the joy and the pain. What he didn’t tell them was that a few of the stories were going to be selected to include in the music video for the song! It is his favorite video that he’s been a part of. Lots of other people like the song and video too, and it blew up on social media! The video released around the time of the tragedy that took place in Charleston, so Colton Dixon dedicated it to the people of the city.

For Colton Dixon, American Idol proved to be a crash course in the music industry, aiding many different aspects of his career, such as teaching him how to do camera interviews and work the stage, and helping him with his communication skills and confidence. It presented him with a great platform, which he’s thankful for.

Ever wondered how Colton Dixon began styling his hair the way he does? It’s actually a result of the rules of a private school he attended, which required his hair to be trimmed above their eyebrows, behind his ears, and above his shirt collar. Colton started putting it up with lots of gel, so if he shook his head it would stay in place, meeting the dress code. Thus, his trademark hairstyle was born!

Colton Dixon grew up in a Christian home. He accepted Christ at the age of 7. That was the beginning of his story, and since then, he has seen God move in his life. He’s wanted to do what he’s gotten to over the past few years ever since he was 13. He says the first time he tried out for American Idol, he wasn’t ready, but then when he wasn’t looking for anything was when it happened. He also says that his desire has shifted from wanting it to be about his career and fame to wanting to win souls for the Lord – a goal that his music clearly portrays!

If you love Colton Dixon’s music, then you’ll want to be sure to check out his upcoming EPs, Calm and Storm, which feature remixed versions of fan favorites. The EPs will be available September 11, both separately and together as 1 full length album!

Christian Music, New Record, and God’s Not Dead 2 with Duncan Phillips of Newsboys

Duncan of Newsboys

Lifest – Oshkosh, WI

Earlier this month, Newsboys performed at Lifest (which took place July 9-12 in Oshkosh, WI). Before the show, I had a chance to chat with Duncan Phillips, Newsboys’ drummer, and discuss common perception of Christian music, the new record the Newsboys are putting together, and God’s Not Dead 2. To see what he had to say, check out this video from Generation Arise’s YouTube channel! (http://generationarise.com/ is my website geared specifically towards teens and young adults.)

Fun Fact About the Members of Newsboys –

  • Lead singer Michael Tait grew up as a pastor’s kid. He had 8 siblings – 3 brothers, and 5 sisters.
  • Drummer Duncan Phillips uses Insanity to get in a workout. (Although I’m sure he already gets a pretty good workout any time the Newsboys perform!)
  • Sports are what goes on the tv in the Newsboys’ tour bus, and keyboardist Jeff Frankenstien loves hockey in particular! He plays it with other team members in Nashville, where he lives. His last name is on the back of his jersey, but people have a hard time believing it’s for real, and wonder “Who’s that guy?”
  • Guitarist Jody Davis doesn’t like down time, so he has taken to building guitars, which Newsboys have used in their shows. Zane Guitars let him know they wanted to do an artist model with him!

newsboys and me

 

Christian Music Songs and Lyrics Matchup

Matchup

How well do you know keep up with current Christian music? See how many of the lyrics and songs listed below you can match up!

Lyrics –

#1 – “In this broken generation, when all is dark, You help us see. There’s only one salvation.”

#2 – “If you wanna know how far that love can go, just how deep, just how wide; if you wanna see how much you mean to me, look at my hands, look at my side.”

#3 – “True to who You are, You saw my heart, and made something out of nothing.”

#4 – “I wish I was the perfect picture of somebody who’s never not good enough. I try to measure up, but I mess it up.”

#5 – “You plead my cause. You right my wrongs. You break my chains. You overcome.”

#6 – “Let us become more aware of Your presence. Let us experience the glory of Your goodness.”

#7 – “I’d love like I’m not scared, give when it’s not fair, live life for another, take time for a brother . . .”

Songs –

Drops in the Ocean by Hawk Nelson
Day One by Matthew West
How Can It Be by Lauren Daigle
He Knows My Name by Franchesca Battistelli
We Believe by Newsboys
Fix My Eyes by For King and Country
Holy Spirit by Franchesca Battistelli

Answers –

Song – Drops in the Ocean, Lyrics – #2
Song – Day One, Lyrics – #4
Song – How Can It Be, Lyrics – #5
Song – He Knows My Name, Lyrics – #3
Song – We Believe, Lyrics – #1
Song – Fix My Eyes, Lyrics – #7
Song – Holy Spirit, Lyrics – #6

Interview with Sixteen Cities at Generation Arise

Interview with Sixteen Cities at Generation Arise

Got to interview the Christian band Sixteen Cities. Sixteen Cities is all about praising God with their music, and leading others in worshiping Him! Head over to Generation Arise to check out the the three-part interview!

Part 1 – 

Learn about the band – how they got started, the meaning behind their name, and how they have seen God use their music to impact others!

http://generationarise.com/songs-of-worship-with-sixteen-cities-part-1

Part 2 –

Hear all about worship straight from a worship band!

http://generationarise.com/songs-of-worship-with-sixteen-cities-part-2

Part 3 –

For more info on Sixteen Cities’ latest, album, check out Part 3 of Songs of Worship with Sixteen Cities!

http://generationarise.com/songs-of-worship-with-sixteen-cities-part-3

Do you listen to Sixteen Cities’ music? Which is your favorite of their songs?

K-Love Fan Awards Nominees

K-Love

This past Wednesday evening, the nominees where officially announced for the K-Love Fan Awards, which take place on May 31, 2015!  The award categories for the K-Love Fan Awards include Male Artist of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, Group/Duo of the Year, Best Live Show, Worship Song of the Year, and Artist of the Year.

The nominees for Artist of the Year – 

Casting Crowns
Chris Tomlin
for KING & COUNTRY
MercyMe
Newsboys
Tobymac

 

The nominees for Song of the Year –

“Come As Your Are” by Crowder
“Home In Front of Me” by Danny Gokey
“Fix My Eyes” by for KING & COUNTRY
“He Knows My Name” by Franchesca Battistelli
“Do Something” by Matthew West
“Greater” by MercyMe
“We Believe” by Newsboys

To find out the rest of the nominees, as well as to see performances by Colton Dixon, Franchesca Battistelli, and others, visit http://www.klovefanawards.com/! Or if you just want to view the nominees, follow this link – http://www.klovefanawards.com/nominees\.

Which nominees do you think should win the award for Artist of the Year, and Song of the Year? Let us know by participating in the polls below!