Yearender: Best of 2014

Hi friends, few hours from now we’re gonna welcome 2015; and before we do that, I want to share to you my yearender blogpost featuring the best of 2014 (best song, album, book, and movie). In my two years of blogging, this is my first time to make a yearender post. I am hoping you’ll find it interesting and useful. Let’s get started!

Best Christian Song of 2014

Among others, this one is the hardest to pick. You know, there are lots of Christian songs that have impacted my life this years. Songs of faith and worship that are so irresistible. But this one song has captured my attention and has impacted me in a very different way, and that’s Kari Jobe’s “Forever”. This amazing track can be heard on her latest album “Majestic”. It is theologically-rich, and musically-brilliant. Hillsong United’s “Oceans (Where My Feet May Fail)” is a runner-up.

Best Christian Album of 2014

I have reviewed numerous Worship albums from different labels this year, and I must say 2014 was a good year for the Christian Music Industry. I did not write a review about this album, but Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff’s “Heaven Raining Down” is the best for 2014. I bought my copy of it at one of Cindy’s concert events, and hearing its songs live is the best. This ten-cut album was uniquely and brilliantly-recorded. A runner-up mention goes to Kari Jobe’s “Majestic”.

Best Christian Book of 2014

It was published in 2007 but only in this year I’ve had the chance to read this amazing, faith-stirring book; the story of a church that believed God for the impossible, “Prepare For Rain” by Pastor Michael Catt of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia is the best Christian book of 2014. Pastor Catt has a very big heart for 3 P’s: People, Prayer, and Persistence, and these things are wonderfully manifested in this book. “Prepare For Rain” is a must read, a story of faith and revival. 

Best Christian Movie of 2014

2014 was not only a year of beautiful things, but also of challenges. There are so many attempts to crush Christianity, but we serve a God who cannot be shaken. Pureflix Films’ “God’s Not Dead” is a very timely film, and is worthy to be 2014’s Best Christian Film. It tells of the story of a Christian College Student who defended God against his atheist Philosophy Professor. Because of its unique message, and huge impact to the viewers, many people have requested for a sequel.

Goodbye 2014

I hope I am not the only one who have enjoyed these bests of 2014, but also you. I pray for 2015 to be more abundant, faith-filled, and most of all God-centered, Jesus-revealing, and Holy Spirit-filled. If you have your own bests in these categories, I’d love to hear from you! Thank you and have a joyous and Christ-centered new year, 2015!
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#BookReview: The Book of God

Recently, CLC Philippines has published a series of comic books from Kingstone Comics. Today, I want to share to you my review of “The Book of God”, one of those titles, written by Ben Avery.

Truthfully speaking, I am not fond of reading comics. Actually, this is my first comic magazine ever, and I’m serious. I have never owned one since my childhood. What I love most about “The Book of God” is the author’s presentation of facts and ideas. He began by introducing the Bible, how it was written, how its books was selected, how it spread, how it survive the time, and its trustworthiness. Even my sister liked and enjoyed it.

The good thing about “The Book of God” is its entirety is a presentation of facts about the Bible. It is, I must say, one of the important aspects of the book, especially for the children and for all the people who have limited resources. You might think that it can be overwhelming, but since it’s a comic magazine, the facts were laid in a vivid, light, orderly and most of all, in an enjoyable way.

My favorite thing in the book is, it tells us that the Bible is trustworthy, not because it was taught to us, not because of tradition, but because it is the truth. We are living in a world that says Jesus never existed, and the Bible is just a book of fairy tales. See how Satan has distorted the minds of people. That’s why the world needs it more than ever. Though everyone knows of this book, not everyone knows what it’s about.

Overall, “The Book of God” is a brilliant book for all ages; a very good introduction to those who don’t believe in the Bible; and for those who just want to learn facts. I am telling you, you will enjoy and learn while reading. Do yourself a favor, grab a copy now.

“The Bible is not a man’s account of his efforts to find God, but rather an account of God’s effort to reveal Himself to man.”
– Dr. Henry H. Halley

Watch out for more comic book reviews in the coming year! Blessings! Jesus be revealed!
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#Event: Youth Factor 8 "Dominate"

The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, and the National Youth Commission bring us the Youth Factor 8: Dominate. A praise and worship celebration featuring guest speakers: Pastor Ed lapiz, Bishop Efraim Tendero, Pastor Clem Guillermo, Atty. Winnie and Ate Maloi Salumbides, and Mr. Hayden Kho Jr. The worship celebration is going to be led by Pastor Rommel and Susan Guevara, and the Musicians On Fire.

This event is happening on the 18th of April 2015, at Cuneta Astrodome, Pasay City, Philippines. For more details on how to register, refer to the poster above.
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#AlbumReview: Planetshakers' This Is Our Time

Before the year ends, Melbourne, Australia-based worship band Planetshakers released their newest live praise and worship album, This Is Our Time. Boasting 15 tracks available in Standard and Deluxe editions, this new record is their second album for 2014. But it is no longer surprising, for they have done this a lot of times before. Their diligence and gift in songwriting is wonderfully shown through the years.

It is undeniable that “This Is Our Time” marks a new season for Planetshakers City Church, for the message of the songs on this record shows just that. Their music is like no other; and it has captured the hearts of people across the globe. Their mission to empower generations, to win generations, is prophetically manifested on their projects.

The title cut, “This Is Our Time”, opens the album with an energetic praise which has become the signature of the group. More than any other Christian artists, Planetshakers have resourced the church with a plethora of praise songs which the people, especially the youths love to sing. Celebration continues with the singing of the next track, “Joy”, and “My Heart Is Alive”. These songs offer a variety of instrumentation which will surely awaken your senses and lead you to dance for Jesus.

Previously heard on their Endless Praise album as a studio recorded track, “Leave Me Astounded” marks the first worship song on this project. Being one of the prime cuts on the preceding album, this new version is a very congregational one unlike its first release. Worship Pastor Sam Evans has given the song a ‘churchy’ treatment which is good.

“Covered”, the fifth track, is one of the simplest songs on This Is Our Time yet the most theologically-rich. Written by two big names in the field of worship songwriting today—Israel Houghton and Planetshakers’ very own Joth Hunt, this song declares Christ’s atonement and His grace given to humanity. Being said that it’s a co-write with Houghton, “Covered” is the carrier single of his upcoming 2015 album, “Alive In Asia”. And speaking of God’s amazing grace, another Hunt-written song by the same theme is “It’s Your Love” which for me is the album’s most congregation-friendly song because of its familiar and easy to learn melody and lyrics.

One of the tracks you don’t want to miss in this new album is the faith-stirring “The Water Is Rising”. Instrumentally and lyrically-brilliant, this is one of the album’s prime cuts. It speaks of God’s power and ability to do miracles and bring healing.

Born out of a spontaneous worship, Natalie Ruiz’ “Kiss Towards” on their “Endless Praise” album is one of my favorite tracks; and I believe This Is Our Time’s “Holy” is also a track birthed out of the spontaneous worship. Though lyrically short, its different atmosphere captivates the very heart of the people as they sing: holy…holy…holy. And if you’ve been carried away by the ethereal moment brought by “Holy”, their cover of the Gaither classic “He Touched Me” is simply magnificent. Surely, your spirit will be filled with joy and your heart overflow as you listen to it.

Joth Hunt’s gift in songwriting is so astounding. As a matter of fact, he has written the majority of the songs on Planetshakers’ recent releases. “Look To You” is just one of the tracks in the album that catches the listener’s attention at first listen; and it’s Hunt-penned. This is, I think the most appealing and catchy track on This Is Our Time, and also my favorite. Before the album ends, Joth’s co-write “Abba, Father” leaves the message of our Heavenly Father’s love towards us.

Overall, This Is Our Time is an excellent album to end 2014 and to start 2015 with praise. I must say that this album is one of 2014’s best releases, and Planetshakers’ best, so far. They always set the bar high. There is just one thing that I pray their team would work on for their future releases, that is to write songs that are more theologically-rich. I believe people today need songs that are sound and full of theology, songs that will draw them closer to God, to the knowledge of who He is.

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#Event: Let's Talk About Worship

The National Worship Convention presents “Let’s Talk About Worship”, an event full of fellowship, sharing, teaching, and worship, hosted by Pastor Rommel and Susan Guevara.

Happening on the 12th of June 2015, at Cuneta Astrodome, Pasay City, Philippines, the worship conference also features some local and world renowned speakers including: Andrew Yeo, Haydee Sampang, Bob Fitts, Maloi Salumbides, and Roman Guevara.

For more details on how to register, refer to the poster above.
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5 Mistakes People Make When Reading the Bible

As someone who grew up going to church, I’ve often viewed the Bible as both fascinating and daunting, but somewhat inaccessible. Hearing about all the stories in Sunday School was definitely entertaining, but they were harder to make much sense of once I got older and read them for myself.
When I began reading the Bible on my own initiative, I found it difficult at first to get much out of it. I knew there was a lot to unpack, but it was hard for me to believe I’d be able to make much sense of what I was studying unless I decided to attend seminary.

Over time, I was able to learn how to read the Bible and become familiar with it, but it took numerous changes in how I approached it before I was at a point where I could read it daily and make some sense of what it was trying to tell me.

I work primarily with teenagers, and I find them repeating the same mistakes I did when reading my Bible when I was younger, and after talking with some peers when doing this Bible study for myself, I realized these mistakes are also common among most adults as well. I’m pretty convinced that, without some guidance, most people fall victim to the same traps when reading the Bible, and unfortunately lose their enthusiasm for God.

for believers, simply reading the Bible for information is not enough if we want it to have an impact on our lives.
There are a lot of things you can do to learn how to understand the Bible better, but first, here are a few common mistakes to avoid:

1. Looking for Insight Rather Than Personal Application

The Bible is a fascinating book, there’s no question about it. Even if you’re coming at it from a completely atheistic perspective, there’s enough historical and cultural significance, as well as action-packed sequences, to keep you occupied for days.

However, for believers, simply reading the Bible for information is not enough if we want it to have an impact on our lives.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like” (James 1:22-24).
Just about every verse you read contains some kind of direction from God on how we can change our lives for the better and open up to His transformation in our lives. The Bible is applicable to situations we go through on a day to day basis (Hebrews 4:12), from dealing with stress to loving those around us.
It’s a huge temptation to only read the Bible with the purpose of gaining more knowledge. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, you’re missing the whole point of the Scriptures if you never once sit down and read it with the intent to let it guide you to change something in your life.

2. Failing to Research Context

The Bible is one continual story, from cover to cover, about God creating us and doing whatever He could to build a relationship with us. While many verses work fine when read in a vacuum (most notably Proverbs and Psalms), most Scripture is meant to be understood in context. You can learn a lot more about the verse you’re reading by examining the details surrounding it, including:

Author - who wrote the book, and why were they writing it? What else do we know about this person?

Date - when the book was written can tell you a lot about the verses in the book you’re reading. For example, knowing that the book of Ruth took place in 1300 BC tells us that they lived during the time of judges, when Israel was at one of its most darkest points in history. This makes the story of Ruth and Boaz that much more inspiring and powerful.

Recipient - who the book was intended for can give you more insight on how the Scriptures were meant to be processed. This is especially true of the letters in the New Testament, most of which were written to different churches who were in various spiritual states.

3. Sticking to the Same Translation

If the only version of the Bible you’ve ever read is the one sitting on your shelf that you’ve had since you were a kid, there’s a chance you’re reading a translation that may not be right for you.

A lot of people make the mistake of sticking to the same Bible translation, either refusing to change because of tradition or because they’re unaware of the other reading options available. Since each translation is slightly different, reading a different version can give you more insight into the Scriptures, and can make an otherwise confusing Scripture more accessible.

The Bible is one continual story, from cover to cover, about God creating us and doing whatever He could to build a relationship with us.
Order another version (such as the New Living Translation or The Message) and see if it helps you understand a new perspective on the Scriptures, or clear up any confusion you may have previously had.

4. Reading in a Distracting Environment

This one seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many people I talk to who read their Bibles with the TV on, while playing iPhone games, or while friends or family are nearby asking for help. While those scenarios may work for homework or paying the bills, they make it close to impossible to really read the Scriptures and hear what God is trying to tell you.

As I mentioned in the first point, reading your Bible can (and should!) be a very personal affair. Eliminating distractions could mean the difference between reading a cool verse and finding the passage that changes how you view your life.

5. Thinking the Only Way to Read the Bible is By Looking at Words on a Page

In today’s modern age, there are countless ways to digest information. This is no less true for the Bible. Many people get stuck in a box and feel intimidated by the sheer volume of Scriptures, and end up never giving the Bible a shot. And while the fear is understandable, it’s completely avoidable.

If you’re feeling bored of reading, or perhaps have a disability or learning challenge, try listening to the Bible (via a full audio Bible, or a read along feature like the one found in the Tecarta Bible app) or watching the Bible (The Story is a great example of a visual presentation of the Bible).

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Brandon Heath To Release "No Turning Back" Feb. 10

NEWS SOURCE: Rogers & Cowan November 26, 2014
Nashville, Tenn. (Nov. 26, 2014) - Multi Dove Award-winning, five-time GRAMMY® and AMA nominee, and Emmy Award winner Brandon Heath invites listeners to travel back to one of the most impactful moments in his life through his new project, No Turning Back. Heath's sixth studio album will be released on February 10, 2015 on Reunion/Monomode Records, Sony Music. The debut title track single featuring All Sons & Daughters is already in the Top 20 on the National Audience Chart and impacting Christian radio. With adds in major markets such as Seattle, Tampa, Minneapolis, Dallas and Los Angeles, "No Turning Back" is currently in rotation on key networks including K-LOVE/Air 1, The Fish and SiriusXM, among others. 
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#Event: Planetshakers LIVE in Manila

Planetshakers is coming back again to the Philippines!

We’d love to have you join us at the Planetshakers Live in Manila on August 13-14, 2015 | 7PM at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Ticket Prices:
Patron (reserved seating) P1800
UpperA (reserved seating) P 1200
Upper B (free seating) P 600
GenAd (free seating) P 300

Visit for more details!
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Album Review: Wake Up The Wonder by Elevation Worship

A year ago, I discovered the music of Elevation Worship. They have welcomed 2014 with a new album, Only King Forever, and now, to end the year, they are offering us “Wake Up The Wonder”, their newest. I don’t know how they write their songs, but their passion for it is so stunning, that they have to release two albums in one year, having only nine months in between; where songs are all original and freshly-written.

Wake Up The Wonder is an album like no other. The musicality of the songs is unique and new to my ears. The messages of each cut are biblically-sound, and the vocals are perfect. Each track declares the salvation and victory in Christ which brings revival and hope. There are no album fillers, all 14 tracks are worth listening to—all prime cuts. “For The Lamb”, the twelfth track is my most favorite in the entire album. The theological truth found on its lines is so rich. You’ll surely love to sing it time and again.

I love how the album flows. I must say that there is no album that has ever affected me this way. The worship on “Wake Up the Wonder” is simply astounding and I don’t know how to express all of my feelings on this review. It’s unexplainable. I commend the whole team behind this project. Before the year ends, they have brought us new songs that will be cherished by the church for the coming years.

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My Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff Concert Experience

Last Saturday, 29th of November, I came to the second day of Harvest Youth Conference 2014 hosted by Cathedral of Praise Manila. This two-day conference was organized to gather and empower youths across denominations and organizations. What’s especial about this event is on each night of the conference there is 4REAL Worship Concert Event, where Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff is the guest artist. Yes, it is two birds in one shot. When you attend the conference, you’ll be privileged to attend the concert, and we did just like that.

The second day of the conference is empowering and full-packed. The speaker was Pastor Joey Pagadora of COP Cebu. He taught us that the people of God will never walk in shame, for God is our hope. After the plenary session, all the youths were encouraged to proceed to the parking lot for the youth fair. The youth fair is just fun and full of surprises, games, and activities.

To be honest, one of the reasons why I attended the event is because I want to see Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff in person. She is one of my all-time favorite female worship leaders. And that day, that dream came true. At 5:30 we entered the auditorium, and before that we first bought some albums of Cindy. At exactly 6:00 PM, the concert started with the front act, and then tithes and offering. After these, Cindy Ratcliff went up the stage for her turn, and it was also amazing to see her husband, Marcus, to speak about God's miraculous deeds.

What I love most about Cindy is not her excellent voice, not her music, those are just secondary, what I love most about her is her heart and passion, that I always feel when she worships and speaks. That night I felt it like never before, and most of all I felt God’s presence as Cindy leads us in worship. What a night!

The concert ended with the song Twenty-three, the title cut of her preceding album. The concert was fun, amazing, and most of all is anointed. My favourite part is when she sang “Break Every Chain”. The moment when she said, name every disease, bondage and curse, because there’s a name higher than those names, and that’s the name of JESUS. Just wow, I really felt the spirit of God moving that time, and breaking every chain. Hallelujah! I hear the chains falling!

As we leave the auditorium that night, though physically weak, but our spiritual strengths were so re-charged and replenished. I thank God for each moment He’s giving to live for His glory; to be unashamed for His name. We exist to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord!


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Youth Summit 2014 Update: Registration Extended!

The Registration for the Youth Summit 2014 has been extended 'til December 15, 2014!

To register, follow the mechanics below:

1. Deposit your payment to BDO account name KKB-CYN International Foundation Inc. and account no. 1230033295.

2. Inform your Area Youth Coordinator (AYC) of the deposit details such as date, time and amount paid based on the deposit slip.

3. The AYC will inform the RegCom Representative assigned to the region/area of the deposit details. He/She will email a scanned/image copy of the deposit slip to the RegCom Rep.

4. Wait for the confirmation of the RegCom Rep of the receipt of the deposit and the corresponding seats.

For more information contact 09175279814
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Vocal Warm Up Tips by Dee Uluirewa of Hillsong Church

Hi there, my name is Dee, and I've had the honour and pleasure of serving on team for about 11 years. I volunteer as a vocalist on our team and feel extremely blessed to be a part of THE best team on the planet, hands down!

Here are a few practical tips that I’ve found to be helpful.

1. Repetition Strengthens.

Warm-up your vocals on a regular basis. These help to strengthen or get the elasticity in your cords, which in turn helps you to connect/bridge your different registers. I try to spend about 10-15 minutes warming up, even longer if I've been unwell or haven't sung in awhile. I find it takes longer to get the voice back to where it was.

Warm-ups: Apart from doing vocal exercises on ascending scales, I find descending scales critical, especially if I'm reaching up to certain notes. The Seth Riggs warm-up CD and the Vocalize U app are the two main tools that I use. Brett Manning is another Vocal Coach who has great resources for vocalists.

2. Vocal Cords Work Off Memory

Practice singing songs at service level. This is a must for me whether at home or in the car. Don’t worry about the traffic, If you get any curious folks staring at you just throw up the 'V' sign = The Voice, lol!. Doing this helps me to work out where a song sits vocally for me, particularly when songs are in male keys, which register to sing in, where to breathe, the dynamics of the song, projecting my voice and working on my tone i.e. making sure I don't get nasally.

If there's a certain part of the song that I am struggling with, I'll apply a vocal exercise over that melodic line to iron out the problem and then slowly bring lyrics in.

The same way a musician practices their parts on their individual instrument, whether it be fingering, different sounds, or inversions, vocalists should also be learning more about their instrument.

3. Turn up to Sound Check – Mic Check: 1, 2, 3...

Early morning starts are not the easiest for the voice, so for me it’s imperative that my voice is awake and able to sing at service level when I rock up to sound-check... not whisper in sound-check and yell during P&W, lol.

Proper preparation = proper execution.

Sound-check/rehearsal allows me to set my in-ear levels. Endeavour to get a good in-ear mix of what I need i.e. what instruments/band, worship leaders and other vocalists. It’s really important to pay attention to the arrangements of the songs and to LISTEN to where the worship leaders want to go.
For those who use foldback monitors, always have a melodic instrument to pitch off in the foldback, either an acoustic guitar or piano, or both... not just all vocals.

Important Note - Since there is so much happening on the platform during soundcheck, there's a tendency to have spillage into mics, in particular those standing in front of the drums or guitar amps.Solution? Keep the mic close to my mouth, not fifty feet away, lol, and keep my vocals solid (singing at service level, not yelling) - this in turn helps the FOH engineers.

(No-No: I try to avoid turning my pack up or singing louder because this will only cause me to push and thus strain my voice)

4. Worship Service

Move as a unit: Phrasing is really important. The KEY is listening and locking in, be careful not to over enunciate. Listen to the Rhythm of the song and look at the whole line/phrase and not just individual words.

Watch cut-offs - I tend to taper off at the end of phrases rather than end abruptly... big vowels create a rounder/nicer sound and takes away from lazy singing.

Note: You want to create a nice wall of sound which helps the FOH engineers and this in turn encourages the Church to sing... you can make a HUGE difference!

Breathing - Breathing at the end of the phrase before I start the next line eases me into the next phrase and allows for a smoother delivery. Breathing provides great support for my tones and most importantly helps me stay on pitch! A lot of singers make the mistake of breathing just before the line starts and usually find their voices cracking or straining unnecessarily. 
Controlled breathing is Important, the air comes out the same time as the note.

These are just some of the practical things that I've applied over the years, whether at home or on the road. I try my best not to allow frustration to kick in when I'm experiencing technical difficulties, or if someone is over-singing/louder than everyone else aka not blending, maybe the guitars are too loud, cymbals are making my eardrums bleed, lol... this can hinder me and take my focus off what I really need to be doing…worshipping!

Hope this has helped you and your Team in some way, shape or form. Praying you guys have the most amazing weekend.

Take Care,

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JIL Church San Ildefonso Celebrates Two Decades

From a small  bible study in the early '90s, Jesus Is Lord Church San Ildefonso Chapter continues the journey of declaring the glory and salvation of Christ that is being manifested through its ministry.
For two decades now, this ministry that is founded in the heart of Bulacan is a living testimony of the miracles by the miracle-working God.

Join the celebration on the 16th of November 2014, Sunday, 8 AM, at JILC San Ildefonso Chapter, Malipampang, San Ildefonso, Bulacan.

Come and be blessed, be healed, be freed!

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Songwriting According to Charles Wesley

One of the attractive things about the Bible is how honest its characters are with God. The corresponding wonder is how gracious God is in dealing with their frankness. In Bible stories, people complain, lament, question, repent, cry out in pain, pester, and otherwise deluge God with candor. And time and again, God reveals the majesty and humbleness of love in his response. If you have hit any speed bumps in life at all or deterred into any ditches, you know how wonderful it is to find folks in the Bible who have hashed out with God all our same emotions in difficult times. And you know the relief in seeing how well God cares for them in those moments.

How can songwriters capture some of this same dynamic of honest expression yet do so in a way that is not simply self-indulgent? One possible answer is to root in biblical stories our songs to God. Eighteenth century songwriter Charles Wesley—an Anglican priest, co-founder of Methodism with John, his brother, and one of the most prolific worship songwriters of all time—often used two poetic techniques in his songs that allowed worshipers to express a wide range of emotions before God and to do so in ways connected to biblical stories. Seeing his techniques is helpful for sparking lyrical imagination today.

Intensely Corporate
One poetic device that he used was to sing a story from the inside out. These songs placed the worshiper in the shoes of the biblical character. Singing a biblical story from the inside allows the worship song to be intense but, because it comes from the book common to the whole Church, the Bible, it avoids being too private.

Consider the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30ff.). Following a long history of interpretation, Wesley placed the worshiper into the shoes (sandals?) of the traveler who is robbed, beaten up, and left by the side of the road in desperate need of help. In Wesley’s piece, this experience becomes a way of speaking about being waylaid by the ravages of sin, leaving the worshiper acknowledging her or his utter helplessness. Even short excerpts show the passion of a sin-sick worshiper’s cry:

The thieves have rob’d, and stript, and bound… / My putrid wounds stand open wide, My head is faint, and sick of pride, / And all corrupt my heart.[1] After Wesley explored how legalistic religious righteousness (the priest and the Levite in the story) don’t provide any comfort, the desperate worshiper notes the approach of another who can and will help (the Samaritan who represents [drum roll, please] Jesus Christ): But Life I see in death appear! / The good Samaritan is near…/ Bind up my wounds by opening thine, / Apply the balm of blood Divine.

The Great Source
Some of Wesley’s best loved pieces used this poetic device of singing a biblical story from the inside out to give worshipers the words for prayer which were deeply personal and intense and yet also common to Christians. By placing worshipers in the shoes of biblical characters, he could provide the Bible as the source of language for songs which prayed the agony and the ecstasy of what it means to be saved and encounter God. A great example is the song below—a relentless prayer that depicts the worshiper wrestling with God in order to gain an understanding of Him. He frames this struggle as that of Jacob wrestling for a blessing from God in Genesis 32. Eventually persistence in prayer pays off as Jesus is revealed as the one through Whom the blessing of God comes:

Come, O thou Traveler unknown,
Whom still I hold, but cannot see!
My company before is gone,
And I am left alone with thee;
With thee all night I mean to stay,
And wrestle till the break of day.

In vain thou strugglest to get free,
I never will unloose my hold;
Art thou the Man that died for me?
The secret of thy love unfold:
Wrestling, I will not let thee go
Till I thy name, thy nature know.

‘Tis Love! ‘Tis Love! Thou diedst for me;
I hear thy whisper in my heart.
The morning breaks, the shadows flee,
Pure Universal Love thou art:
To my, to all, thy mercies move—
Thy nature, and thy name, is Love.[2]

Need Inspiration?
Where can modern songwriters go to find the words for prayers that lament or complain or cry out to God in pain? Consider a biblical story where that’s the posture of the worshiper before God. What would David have prayed as he fled from Saul in the desert? Jeremiah as he endured the siege of Jerusalem? The woman caught in adultery under threat of being stoned but saved by the intervention of Jesus? Place the singer in their shoes.

Another poetic device Charles Wesley used to provide vivid language for worship songs was to fudge with verb tenses in recounting key events in the life of Christ. Although, strictly speaking, these events should be portrayed with past tense verbs, Wesley often grabs the potential of poetry and uses present tense verbs so that the worshiper is right there before Jesus, whether at his manger, his cross, or his tomb. This playfulness with verbs often came with an invitation in the song for the worshiper to see or sense what was happening with Jesus. The result was a startling immediacy:

See the slaughter’d Sacrifice,
See the altar stain’d with blood!
Crucified before our eyes
Faith discerns the dying God,
Dying that our souls might live,
Gasping at His death, Forgive![3]

Poetic Narrative

Such encounters could lead to intensity in the words stirred in the worshiper who had been transported into the biblical story by the song’s fudging with verb tenses. And so, instead of writing some generic statement about feeling broken before God, Wesley allowed the startling gravity of sin to sink into the singer by placing him or her at the foot of the cross. There one finds the proper cry as the worshiper encounters the “dying God” directly and sees the crucifixion in “real time” as it were:

Beneath my load He faints and dies.
I filled his soul with pangs unknown;
I caused those mortal groans and cries;
I killed the Father’s only Son![4]

What would we say to God if we stood at the foot of the cross or the manger? What about if we watched Herod’s killing of the babies in Bethlehem, gaped into the empty tomb, or observed Jesus healing the blind man?

In the Bible, God does not seem repulsed or angered by honest prayer, whether complaint, ecstasy, lament, or sorrow. Charles Wesley’s poetic creativity in songwriting shows us ways to dive into this book as a source for singers who still need to pray as honestly today.


Lester Ruth is a historian of Christian worship with particular interests in the early church and the last 250 years. He believes that careful reflection on the worship of other Christians—whether past or present, whether Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox—can serve to enrich the church today. He is the president of the Charles Wesley Society, a professor at Duke Divinity School, and he teaches at the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies in Orange Park, Florida.

Follow his latest research on Twitter @jl_ruth.

[1]The full text can be found in S. T. Kimbrough, ed., Charles Wesley: Poet and Theologian (Nashville: Kingswood, 1992), 114-8.

[2]This hymn can be found in many hymnals under the title of “Come O Thou Traveler Unknown.” It can also be found by looking for “Wrestling Jacob” in Hymns and Sacred Poems (1742)at, which is an excellent site to find Wesley’s published songs.

[3]Look for Hymn 18 in Hymns on the Lord’s Supper (1745) at,

[4]This text can be found as verse 11 in “A Passion-Hymn” in Hymns and Sacred Poems (1742) at

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Harvest Youth Conference (With Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff)

Pre-register now for the Harvest Youth Conference happening this November 2014! When you attend the Conference, you are automatically entitled to attend the 4REAL Worship Concert featuring Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff! This event is for FREE! Bring your family and friends.

Conference Schedule
November 28 (Friday)

On Site Registration Lobbies

Plenary Session

Youth Fair
Parking Lot

4Real Concert: Cindy Cruse Ratcliff

November 29 (Saturday)

On Site Registration Lobbies

Plenary Session

Youth Fair
Parking Lot

4Real Concert: Cindy Cruse Ratcliff

November 30 (Sunday
1:00 PM

On Site Registration Lobbies

4Real Concert: Cindy Cruse Ratcliff


The conference is going to be held at Cathedral of Praise, U.N. Ave., Manila
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Album Review: All Sons And Daughters

Leslie Jordan and David Leonard, the duo behind the group All Sons and Daughters, have given us great music since the release of their debut EP “Season One”. In 2013, they have released their first ever live album; and this year, they’re back with a self-titled project; giving us just the same vibe of folksy-woodsy worship. It features co-writes with Francesca Battistelli, Jason Ingram, Stu G, Derek Webb, Paul Mabury, and Sandra McCracken.

Unlike any other albums, All Sons And Daughters is unique because each track compliments each other. Every song has the same mood, all are emotional. It is just relaxing to listen at; and simplicity is the main element of the record; simple setting; simple musicality. The album just lacks some upbeat songs—a perfect opposite of Rend Collective’s The Art Of Celebration, which has the same genre. Vocally, the songs were given a very good treatment. The vocals of Leslie and David are distinctive, breathy and soothing.

Musically, the songs are pretty interesting, melodious, and elegant. The Victory, the seventh track, is the only upbeat song on the album and it justifies its title, but it also lacks a little more energy. Piano-laced Great Are You Lord is the most congregational, along with You Will Remain, and More Than Anything.

Lyrically, All Sons And Daughters don’t really break any new ground. There is no rise above the often-used generic worship lines for God. King Of Glory (You Restores My Soul) is Psalm 23-inspired, and it is my favorite track on the album. It speaks of the hope in Christ when we are in the valley. Other stand-out tracks include the vocally-creative and harmonious For Your Glory and My Good, and the Christmas message-inspired God With Us.

All Sons and Daughters’ self-titled album may not be on my top albums of 2014 list, but its beauty, class and elegance is stunning. There’s just one thing that I don’t like about the album: the lack of variety and diversity in musicality. Songs fall on a common ground: slow and lonely, making it “slownely” in mood. But in the end, I commend the creative mix of folksy vibe and powerful vocals. A very good record, but not for those who are into upbeat, energetic cuts.

Disclosure: A review copy of All Sons And Daughters was provided for review by House of Praise, from whom you may purchase the album.

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Top 20 Worship Songs of 2014, So Far

Each year in July, Worship Leader likes to offer our lay of the land so far as far as worship releases are concerned. So far this year has seen some wonderful offerings. There certainly are more to come throughout the year, but at this point, here are our favorite songs. Our criteria are biblical faithfulness, singability, and congregational use. The trend we are seeing so far? Well it’s a bit early, but we have found more meditational songs than we have ever before. Certainly the anthems are abundant, but it is refreshing to hear a bit of quiet and contemplation making waves in the worship realms.

20. “My God Is Stronger”
The Fading Veil
Classic City Collective
Writers: Josh Bayne, Paul Reeves

19. “Defender”
Kings Kaleidoscope
Live In Color EP
Writers: Kings Kaleidoscope

18. “Love Comes Down”
Various Artists
All The Saints: Live from the CentricWorship Retreat, No. 1
Writers: Lauren Daigle, Michael Farren, Seth Mosley

17. “Psalm 118”
Robbie Seay Band
Psalms, Vol. 2 (independent)
Writers: Robbie Seay

16. “Unstoppable Love”
Jesus Culture
Unstoppable Love
Writers: Christa Black, Kim Walker-Smith, Skyler Smith

15. “I Shall Not Want”
Audrey Assad
O Happy Fault EP
Writers: Audrey Assad, Bryan Brown

14. “It Is Well”

Bethel Music
You Make Me Brave
Writers: Horatio Gates Spafford, Kristene DiMarco, Philip Paul Bliss

13. “All Arise”

Michael W. Smith
Writers: Jason Ingram, Michael W. Smith

12. “Made for Worship”

Endless Praise
Writers: Andy Harrison, Joth Hunt

11. “Nearness of You”
Loud Harp
Writers: Asher Seevinck, Dave Wilton

10. “Future/Past”
John Mark McMillan
Writers: John Mark McMillan

9. “I Am”
Neon Steeple
Writers: David Crowder, Ed Cash

8. “You Lift Us Up”
Paul Baloche
Paul Baloche Live
Writers: Matt Maher, Paul Baloche

7. “At the Cross (Love Ran Red)”

Passion, feat. Chris TomlinTake It All
Writers: Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Jonas Myrin, Matt Armstrong, Matt Redman

6. “Vapor”
The Liturgists
Writers: Lisa Gungor, Michael Gungor

5. “Only King Forever”

Elevation Worship
Only King Forever
Writers: Chris Brown, Mack Brock, Steven Furtick, Wade Joye

4. “Joy”

Rend Collective
The Art of Celebration
Writers: Rend Collective

3. “Christ Be All Around Me”
All Sons & Daughters
All Sons & Daughters
Writers: David Leonard, Jack Mooring, Leeland Mooring, Leslie Jordan

2. “This I Believe (The Creed)”

Hillsong Worship
No Other Name
Writers: Ben Fielding, Matt Crocker

1. “Forever (We Sing Hallelujah)”

Kari Jobe, Majestic (Live)
Writers: Brian Johnson, Christa Black Gifford,
Gabriel Wilson, Jenn Johnson, Joel Taylor, Kari Jobe
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Album Review: Rend Collective's The Art Of Celebration

The Art Of Celebration is a humble attempt to bring back the often disregarded element in worship: celebration. As the group describes, it’s what the Psalmist calls “a joyful noise”. Boasting 13 tracks, this latest offering from Rend Collective gives a very positive and light vibe to the soul.

The first track, Joy, marks an energetic start. Its first line “we’re choosing celebration” is what the album all about. With a greater energy and tempo, Burn Like A Star stands out off the album. It calls us to shine brighter for Jesus, to change the History for His cause. And on the other side, the message of the next song, My Lighthouse, is Jesus shinning upon us. In the darkness, He is the One who leads us through, our peace in our troubled sea.

Musically speaking, The Art Of Celebration is superb in production. Embracing their native origin, Rend Collective chose their Irish folk instruments to give life to the songs. More Than Conqueror stands out in terms of this. The collective instruments in a slow pace complement the message and the vocals. And speaking of vocals, the most vocally-driven song in the album is All That I Am, an exhortation of the life of worship found in Romans 12:2.Laying aside the folky sound, Strength Of My Life, is the most mainstream-sounding cut in the album; finely orchestrated but generic in structure.

The album ends with its title track Boldly I Approach (The Art Of Celebration), which is kind of ironic for me. I assumed and expected it to be the most joyous of all joyous cut in the album, but in the end it’s the most solemn. The song is all about the freedom that Christ has given to humanity when the veil was torn, when He said, “It is finished”. It has given us the freedom and access to approach the throne of Grace in worship. What I love most about this song is the theological richness and truth found on its lyrics. It is the most “worshipful” track on the entire album, and also my favourite.

Indeed, Rend Collective is no longer an Experiment. So far, The Art Of Celebration is their best and finest.  Though some of the songs are not lyrically and theologically in-depth, still, they afford us a unique and different way of worship, with an element of celebration.

Disclosure: A review copy of The Art Of Celebration was provided for review by House of Praise, from whom you may purchase the album.

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