Thursday, July 1, 2010

Those pesky emergents...

I still have no idea what the emerging church is. All I know is it's apparently emerging, Rob Bell has something to do with it as does his arch nemesis Mark Driscoll although he has tried to distance himself from it now; he would refer to himself as 'emerging reformed'. One of the reasons he has done this is so he will not be associated with the heathen that is Brian McLaren and his friends. I also get the impression that it elevates social justice and likes to do church in different ways to the opening song, welcome, opening prayer, 3 songs, prayer, bible reading, sermon, closing hymn, closing prayer way of doing church. I also know Steve Chalke is involved somehow and made a lot of people very very angry with comments he made about the atonement.
What I do know is that many a person in bible college and those interested in theological academia are trying to figure out exactly what it is. I also know that most people in the reformed camp are very unhappy with the emerging church, especially Don Carson, Albert Mohler, John McArthur amongst many others. Apparently the emerging church is quite dangerous to these folk.
It seems like lot of times church people try to understand a different belief or expression of christianity is so they can find it's faults and inform them of the right way of doing things, rather than finding the gold in it and applauding it for the same. That goes for most theological camps I should add, apart from the anabaptists of course; they just want some peace!
Anyways, all this to say I read Don Millers blog the other day. Apparently he's another advocate of the emerging church and his books can dangerous to read depending on what side of the spectrum you're on. I for one would recommend 'Blue Like Jazz', it's a great book and you can get it here. Here's what he has to say about the whole thing; it's an interesting read and I should add he didn't mean any insult to catholics.

A Leader in the Emerging Church?

For the past few years, I’ve been considered a leader in the emerging church. I’ve read as much in articles, mostly attacking the theology of the emerging church. I’ve even sat in a room where they talked about me being a leader in this church. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to embarrass them. There were only about ten people at the panel discussion, in a room without more than 500 chairs. I’ve normally laughed, because whoever wrote these articles clearly didn’t do their research (and by the way, they have never called to verify their facts) because I don’t attend an emerging church, and for that matter have never used the phrase in any of my books. So I am not sure how you lead something without talking about it, but this doesn’t seem to matter to the critics!

But my question is this: Why don’t these people go after the Pope? Whatever the emerging church is (and I’m not pretending not to know. I really don’t know, because conversations about it bore me and I’ve never read a single book on the subject).

Do they agree with the theology of the Catholic church? If not, why don’t they ever attack it? Aren’t they leading billions astray, when the emerging church is only leading a few? Are they scared of the Catholic church?

I’m not asking the question to be sarcastic. I’ve actually been curious. It’s kind of like pulling a guy over for running a stop sign when there’s a holdup at a bank happening a few yards away. At least that’s the case in my understanding of theology.

My only thought is that this attack community is a small, insular community that really doesn’t know about “the world” outside the more conservative evangelical church. This is their fort, and they have an entire ecosystem wtihin it that is the world God created, and everything else is Mars (God didn’t create Mars, science created Mars, and science is outside the fort.)

Another thought is that the Catholic church tends to agree with the Evangelical church on political issues, so who really cares about their theology, right? The theological attack may really be about something else, the threat of the loss of power in another sphere, an earthly sphere.

Is this a fair assessment? Is it too critical? I am wondering why the leaders of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity don’t attack Catholics. Thoughts?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What if we took all the energy we spent faking and used that energy to enjoy the Lord instead?

"I want to write...dangerous songs that give you permission to wear your heart on your sleeve before Jesus, unencumbered by the grave cloths of mindless tradition."

I'm a big fan of John Mark McMillan, as much as it pains me to say it, it's very rare to come across an artist who loves Jesus who actually writes great songs and crosses genres. His music has a strong southern feel to it and his raspy voice perfectly accompanies it. It's strange to have an album where the same song can play after Kings of Leon or Jesus Culture and not sound out of place.
He's re-releasing his last album 'The Medicine' next week, you can read the reason why here.
Below you can see a cool video about his upcoming release, an album I would highly recommend. 'How He Loves' was originally on his 'The song inside the sound of breaking down' album, but he's tagging on a radio version of it to 'The Medicine'. Notice here on Amazon it has an explicit lyric warning beside the album? How funny is that. I guess some conservative type reported him for the 'sloppy wet kiss' lyric, amazing! Actually while on the subject, not sure if I posted it before but here's a quote from him about that line...

The idea behind the lyric is that the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of earth converge in a way that is both beautiful and awkwardly messy. Think about the birth of a child, or even the death of Jesus himself. These miracles are both incredibly beautiful and incredibly sloppy ("gory" may be more realistic, but “Heaven meets earth like a gory mess” didn’t seem to have the same ring). Why does the church have such a problem with things being sloppy? Do we really think we’re fooling anyone on Sunday morning, especially God? Are we going to offend him? I mean, he’s seen us naked in the shower all week and knows our worst thoughts, and still thinks we’re awesome. What if we took all the energy we spent faking and used that energy to enjoy the Lord instead? That could be revolutionary!

Enjoy the video, it's short and enjoy the album if you get it, it's awesome.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pearl Jam June 23rd, Belfast, Ireland

I always get strange looks from people when they realise I've seen Pearl Jam two nights in a row. "Belfast?, are you not going to see them in Dublin?" I always feel the need to justify my decision, my reason for people this time around is "well they played 15 different songs in Belfast, it's not like U2 who will play one different song if you're lucky, two if you've hit the jackpot". But frankly I'd see them in Belfast if I knew ahead of time that they were going to play the same setlist. They're my favourite band, they don't play here very often so why not? They have set the bar pretty high for themselves though with their always varied setlist (in 2003 they played 3 shows in Boston playing 82 different songs as well as 11 covers, immense), so I knew I was in for a treat.
When we arrived into the Odyssey I was stoked to see that we had cracking seats, even happier when no one sat infront of us. Ben Harper played the same set as the night before but it was again very enjoyable. His new band is tight and as much as I'd have loved to have seen him with the Innocent Criminals these new guys are excellent.
Pearl Jam opened with Sometimes, a song I was disappointed to hear them open with in 2000 but was delighted to hear this time, a great little song which I've come to appreciate with time. Do the Evolution came next followed by a favourite of mine Animal. Always intense and always rockin. As there was a notable absence of any songs from 'vs' in Dublin it was nice to have 4 songs from it in the set. The Fixer had me realise that the Belfast crowd was great and just as up for it as the Dublin crowd as they sang along with the many 'yeah, yeah yeah's'.
Next up was a real treat for me 'Tremor Christ', man I was so excited to hear that song, not one I was expecting. Eddie said it was a request and my respect goes out to whoever asked for it. Such a great tune. Low Light a sweet tune from No Code was next. The 1-2 Even Flow and Unthough Known from the night before was next, Mike McCready again tearing up the solo in Even Flow and Unthought Known reminding me of why it's in my top 3 favourites off Backspacer. Love that tune.
Another super rare treat came next, 'No Way' a song only played 9 times in it's 12 year existence. It sounded so good live. Eddie's chat with the crowd was well enough received however it was interesting to see the difference between a Dublin crowd and a Belfast crowd in response to banter about 'Irish' things. A joke about Michael flatley and a reference to his girlfriend being a 'McCormick' amongst other banterings, weren't as well received as he thought they might be (he stated this). I guess the mix of Irishness, Britishness and Northern Irishness in the venue make for slight awkwardness at those moments. Eddie didn't understand it and I'm not quite sure if any of us understand at the moment what the true identity of Northern Irish folk is, but as this is not a political review I'll move along swiftly.
Eddie did mention politics himself in introducing Insignificance as a song conveying his upset that his tax money helped build planes in Boeing in Seattle to drop bombs on kids in foreign countries, whether one agrees with his politics or not it was interesting to hear his thoughts about the song. Present tense a great slow burner from the much underrated 'No Code' was next, followed by a quick 1-2 of 'Got Some' and 'Save You', a welcomed 'Riot Act' song.
Eddie dedicated the next song to someone as Stone began the chords to 'Blac'k but Eddie said 'we can't dedicate a depressing song to them' so Mike kicked in quickly with 'Given to Fly'. The crowd loved it, an amazing staple song live. Black came next with the crowd singing an extended 'do do do do do do do....', it sounded great. The set closed with an ever excellent rearviewmirror.
The first encore started as the night before, with 'Just Breathe', by now the three empty seats infront of us where filled with 3 absolute planks, but I was just about able to ignore them. Following 'Just Breathe' Eddie said he had gotten a message from a very brave man who had gotten married that day and took his guests to the show so he and his now wife could say Pearl Jam where their wedding band (I found out later there where only 24 of them at the small wedding). He mentioned their names and dedicated the next song 'Amongst the Waves' to them and asked the crowd to clear a space so they could have their first dance. Sweet.
Another favourite of mine 'State of Love and Trust' was next, what a song. Eddie then told a little tale about the lady in his life and his two kids and how much he missed them as Boom played 'Wasted Reprise' in the background, 'Betterman' then followed which predictably send the crowd into a tizzy.
The second encore began in a very unique way. Eddie explained that a very good friend of theirs Brendan O'Brien (record producer) was 50 in three days time and he's a hard guy to please to they wanted to do something special. We were asked to stay quiet as they spoke to a camera infront of a black sheet and when they sheet dropped we were all to cheer and sing happy birthday. It actually looked and sounded pretty cool. The 12 string bassed intro to Jeremy came next and brought the house down. It was a fun song and the crowd loved it, as did I. Next was another song with a bass intro; 'Leash'. So fun to hear live and a fan request for many a year, noted for it's absence for 12 years until it was played in 2006.
A cover was next, whats a Pearl Jam show without a cover? Crazy Mary, this song used to be quite the rarity but not so much anymore. It's a great song, although one of the very few songs that I prefer the studio version to the live one. The set finished in the same fashion as Dublin with the lights on and 'Alive' and 'Yellow Ledbetter' played. It was great fun and the crowd was so into it as apparently where the band. Mike McCready teased 'I Will Follow' by U2 at the end of Yellow Ledbetter. A great end to an amazing two nights.
It was a stellar show, and I think it may have just topped Dublin. Hopefully they'll be back soon!

Do The Evolution
The Fixer
Tremor Christ
Low Light
Even Flow
Unthought Known
No Way
Present Tense
Daughter/The Real Me (The Who)
Got Some
Save You
Given To Fly

1st encore:
Just Breathe
Amongst The Waves
State Of Love And Trust
Wasted Reprise
Better Man/Save It For Later

2nd encore:
Happy Birthday Brendan O’Brien
Crazy Mary (Victoria Williams)
Yellow Ledbetter/I Will Follow (U2)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pearl Jam June 22nd, Dublin, Ireland

Driving in to the show I was reminiscing with Jane that it's been 14 years since I first saw Pearl Jam live, scary! Last night was pretty amazing and particularly rockin. Only real let up in the first set from the second tune on was Nothingman, apart from that they pretty much tore it up. They opened with the slow burner 'Long Road' which isn't a regular opener although it's opened three shows I've been to now. From there they just went into overdrive. Loved hearing the opening riff of once, I had a fleeting thought that they might play ten from start to finish but that's a ridiculous thought, although they did do it with the avocado album so maybe someday. 4 singalongs followed, the 'yeah, yeah yeah's' from The Fixer, 'why go home' from eh.. Why Go, pretty much all of what is decipherable from Corduroy and more 'yeah's' from Severed Hand. Two of my top three from the new album came next sandwiched with Even Flow as the filling, Amongst the Waves an absolutely stellar song which sounds fantastic live and Unthought Known an amazing song with a fantastic melody. Even Flow was as always a chance for Mike McCready to show off with a trademark solo and the crowd to go even more mental.
A note on the crowd, I wonder does it happen to everyone or is it just me but I seem to always get surrounded by the same group of cliches. The token shirtless American high fiving those around him when they play his favourite songs, the token shirtless guy showing off his pearl jam stickman tattoo, the long haired Portuguese guy who head bangs his hair into my face (it strangely smelled quite nice actually), the annoying guy who appears out of nowhere and stands right infront of me, the beer spiller on his way past, the tone deaf guy behind me singing in my ear and the token guy who brings his completely disinterested girlfriend. I guess it wouldn't be the same without them.
Anyways, back to the show. Nothingman was a real treat. I was delighted to hear that song, one of my favourites and it sounds just gorgeous live. Was also a nice breather. The breather didn't last long though as they scorched through Lukin seguing into Not For You. Another treat, the b-side Down followed before another song from the new album 'Got Some'. I wonder how drummers have the stamina to take on all those songs, Got Some has alot of drumming going on in it. Comatose went by with a frenzy, before Ed told a story about hearing about the death of Joe Strummer on his birthday December 23 and they launched into a song of his which they've never played before called 'Arms Aloft in Aberdeen'. Some pretty profound lyrics in it. The set closed with the ever enjoyable 'Do The Evolution'.
1st encore began with the absolutely gorgeous 'Just Breathe' a member of my top three from the new album. Having a wife and two kids has definitely rubbed off on Mr. Vedder. Following this was another crowd favourite 'Given To Fly'. They then played another song they've never played before this time it wasn't a cover though. Ed said it was so new it's not even a song yet. Although Jeff mentioned the song a while ago in an interview as an outtake from the Avocado sessions. It's a strange mix of jazz, punk and Peter Gabriel, has some great bits to it. A bangin Porch closed the set, always great to hear a favourite from 'Ten'.
The second encore was another sing along fest. Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In a Small Town, was great with everyone singing their hearts out, as they did in the next song Betterman. Ed pleased the crowd with letting us sing the first verse and chorus on our own. Another cover followed, 'Kick out the Jams', not one of my favourites. The set closed with 'Alive' and 'Yellow Ledbetter'.
Overall an absolutely cracking show; added to it by having Ben Harper and Relentless 7 support. A real treat. looking forward to Belfast tonight!

Long Road
The Fixer
Why Go
Severed Hand
Amongst The Waves
Even Flow
Unthought Known
Nothing Man
Not For You
Got Some
Arms Aloft (Joe Strummer)
Do The Evolution

1st encore:
Just Breathe
Given To Fly
Of The Earth

2nd encore:
Small Town
Better Man/Save It For Later
Kick Out The Jams (MC5)
Yellow Ledbetter/Cowboy Song


Ben Harper & Relentless 7

Better Way
I Will Not Be Broken
Number With No Name
Lay There & Hate Me
Feel Love
Keep It Together (So I Can Fall Apart)
Up To You Now

Saturday, June 19, 2010

We've only glimpsed his vast affection

I heard this song the night of it's début when we were in Bethel church a few weeks ago and I can't get it out of my head. Thought I'd share it here. It's not the best recording, but you'll get the gist of it. Hoping it gets on a proper cd recording soon. It's by Jeremy Riddle who is a very anointed worship leader and gifted song writer. I just love the overarching theme that we have absolutely no idea just how much God loves us, but he's on a mission to let us know. His love being furious reminds me of when you're a kid and you believe that your Dad is stronger than anyone elses Dad. Even though my Dad had a dodgy leg and didn't stand much taller than 5 feet I was still convinced that he'd beat the head of anyone else cause he was so strong. I needed to believe that, I needed to believe that my Dad would always keep me safe. Well I think that what it means for God to be jealous or of him being furious as described in this song is that sense of God being bigger than any of our enemies and his being furious against sin and death and the enemy on our behalf. He is determined to reveal his love to us, bring us into his family and keep us there!

Nothing can tear us from
The grip of his mighty love
We’ve only glimpsed his vast affection
Heard whispers of His heart and passion
It’s pouring down

His love is deep, His love is wide and it covers us

His love is fierce, His love is strong, it is furious

His love is sweet, His love is wild and it’s waking hearts to life

The Father loves and sends His Son
The Son lays down His life for all
He lavishes His love upon us
He calls us now His sons and daughters
He’s reaching out

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Go Spain...

I love World Cup time. Even though I'm still extremely disappointed about the fact that we're not there cause of that muppet on the right. At least I know who I will definitely not be supporting. The most entertaining thing about the handball injustice apart from our government making a fool of themselves was Patrice Evra the Man Utd and French full back making the following statement; 'The replay, I'll do it when you want on a PlayStation.' Amusing, although he did also state that they should make a statue of Henry for getting them to the World Cup and anyone who says what he did was wrong is a traitor to their country. Tulip.
Anyways, about the world cup. I want Spain to win and I think they will. I'm also hoping England do well. I don't buy into the crap that because I'm Irish I can't support England. If we support their club teams it's a bit hypocritical to then want their national team to do terribly. Although the media and the rubbish tv pundits do make it harder to want them to succeed.
I think my favourite thing about the world cup, even moreso than the football sometimes is Dunphy, Giles, Sounness, Brady and O'Herlihey. What absolute legends. They really make the bbc and utv look so boring and polished with their constant bickering and being painfully honest. I genuinely think they're the best panel tv have to offer even if they get their predictions wrong half the time, at least they don't tell the viewer what they want to hear all the time. Dunphy is a hero.
Last but not least, God bless the usa media. They really haven't got a clue about 'soccer'. Have you ever listened to commentary from a us commentator? It's spectacular. We watched some games from the confederations cup last year when we were in the states and oh dear me, it was hilarious. This sums it up beautifully...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Raw Camp 2010

Myself and Jane got home yesterday from a cracking 4 days at RAW camp in Avoca. It's such an honour and a privilege to be able to brag about how awesome and loving God is for 4 days straight. We looked at who we are because of Christ. So many of us Christians walk around miserable, condemned in our sin at the foot of the cross. The cross is the crux of forgiveness but the resurrection is the crux of life and we are to life a life not gritting our teeth waiting for heaven but with a joy in the knowledge that we have a Father who adores us, we are forgiven, he has our backs and in this joy we seek to bring heaven to earth.
We used the life of David and what was it that made him a man after God's own heart. Why was it that when he was in the pit of despair that he still fully knew that his God was with him and mighty to save.
We looked at so much more and a couple of talks had to go out the window cause God had something different on the agenda than what I had prepared. That's always so fun for me, allowing God to be God and to speak what he wants to speak. It made all the difference having some awesome friends come down to just pray for the campers. And the leaders who gave up their time as well were a brilliant bunch.
While I was doing the speaking and some worship, Jane was just loving over the teens, praying for them and encouraging them in their own unique gifts. I love nothing better than seeing Jane bringing the heart of God to people and telling them who they are and what the Father thinks of them.
There was a marker about 3 years ago we look back to for Jane when our friend Roly pushed her on and encouraged her in her prophetic gifting and it was so amazing to now see Jane doing that to some of the young people. One girl I know Jane was encouraging is going to be a world changer!
In the midst of God pouring his loving kindness and words of affirmation all over these guys and girls they went out for two afternoons and did some community service. Nothing glamorous, just cleaning streets and fixing gardens in a nursing home but thats the cool thing about it. There was absolutely no reward in it for them, except the knowledge that God loved what they were doing and our goal in life should be to make our God smile in how we live our lives.
We need to stop pursing the great commission before we obey the great commandment. If we do the stuff without truly loving our Father we can't really know why we're doing it and we don't know what God we're presenting to those we're serving. We need to transform the love of God from a knowledge in our heads to a burning in our hearts. Loving him with all our hearts, souls and minds and knowing what he thinks of us so we can love our neighbours as we love ourselves. We Christians are always putting ourselves down, oh we're such horrible sinners when actually we are called to value ourselves and know the resurrected power of Christ in our lives. Believe what he says about us so we can love ourselves and in turn love our neighbours and testify to them about how the Father has changed us. If being a Christian hasn't changed our hearts then we don't know the love of the Father.
We've never been so excited about this life in the love of the Trinity than we are now, even in the midst of some lovely times; it's so worth it. He's so good, so so good and I'm so thankful I got to share about his goodness with those guys.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mumford & Sons March 18th 2010, The Acadamy, Dublin Review

Love it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be

There is a design, an alignment, a cry
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be

All too seldom I hear a band that resonates with my heart and I know I've just listened to something special. The most recent band to do that to me has been Mumford & Sons. Their album Sigh No More is a perfect album from start to finish, I don't say that lightly. I find it seamless and one of the rare albums one can listen to from start to finish and it seems over far too quickly. They have recently been getting a lot of airplay and for some reason it's annoyed me. I'm not sure if it's a human thing or an Irish thing, but I'd rather keep Mumford & Sons to myself and a select few than share them with others. The thoughts of screaming 18 year old girls at their gigs is not a pleasant one but a nightmare that is rapidly becoming a reality. They have cracking music, they're humble, endearing, have accents and are good looking lads. A recipe to delight the ladies.
This gig went on sale 4 months ago and the tickets sold out in a flash. If they were organising a gig today they would have to play a much bigger venue so we definitely felt privileged to catch them in a relatively small venue. There was a buzz outside the venue filled with different emotions. Excitement of those attending, desperation of those looking for tickets and disappointment of those looking for tickets but realising the horrible touts where going to royally rip off the aforementioned desperate people, turning both sets of people into desperately disappointed people. Hopefully some of them got lucky. We managed to perch ourselves in some nice seats on the balcony overlooking the stage.
And I will hold on hope

They started with the sublime 'Sigh No More', a song which also opens their album in a perfect tone. It's a slow burner full of melody and emotion with truly amazing lyrics.
I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it's meant to be

They followed it up with the breezy 'Winter Winds', Jane's first favourite song on the album. She has since changed her favourite song on the album about 6 times. A compliment to the album, not a slight on her decision making.
It seems that all my bridges have been burned
But you say 'That's exactly how this grace thing works’
It's not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start

Roll Away Your Stone came next, a song which starts making you wonder how it will continue. A little lick which turns into a great big ho-down. Cracking song which I'm sure made everyone want to put some straw in their mouth, put on some cowboy boots, find a barn and start dancing. It made me want to do that anyway.
can you kneel before the king
And say I’m clean?

Another melodious wonder, White Blank Page followed. One of the strangely endearing things about Mumford is how they sometimes don't quite seem to be in time, and how Mumfords voice occasionally cracks and near constantly seems on the bring of being radically out of tune. It keeps you involved and somehow it adds to the emotion that you know he's conveying as he sings from his gut.
You can understand dependence
When you know the maker's hand

They then played a new song which is as yet untitled. It made me realise that they might not have quite the difficult time making their second album as so many bands have. This song perfectly followed their formula and sounded great.
Where you invest your love, you invest your life

The beautifully chilling Awake my Soul came before the giant sing along that is Little Lion Man. It was awesome to see everyone sing along at the top of their lungs. Even though it's a 'radio song' you know the guys where delighted to have everyone singing along to something they created.
But hold on to what you believe in the light
When the darkness has robbed you of all your sight

Another new song Lover of the Light had Mr. Mumford play the drums and sing, an art that must be hard to master but he did it easily. It's a powerful song that has a huge punch to it and looks like it's a fun song to play live.
And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

There was plenty of chat from the guys who seemed genuinely thankful and grateful to those of us in attendance and they also seemed to be really enjoying themselves on stage. Thistle and Weeds and the gorgeous Timshell were a great one two combo before another great singalong The Cave. Did I mention how amazing their lyrics are? I love the rawness and honesty of how he write and like I said, something about it resonates with my heart.
I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears

They closed the set with Dust Bowl Dance, probably their most rocking tune. You can tell they enjoy playing this song, a good set closer even if it's probably my least favourite song on their album.
You were made to meet your maker

The encore was an old song and a new song. If I recall correctly they were 'To Darkness' and 'Restless Heart', another cracking new song that makes me look forward to their second album. An album I hope they release very soon.
I left the acadamy truly satisfied knowing I had witnessed something special and was able to appreciate every second of it. As much as I don't want you to listen to them as I want to keep them to myself; it's too late now so I tell the album. It's called Sigh No More, it's only 12euro and I guarantee you'll love it.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

Here's the setlist

Sigh No More
Winter Winds
Roll Away Your Stone
White Blank Page
Untitled New Song
I Gave You All
Awake My Soul
Little Lion Man
Lover Of The Light
Thistle And Weeds
The Cave
Dust Bowl Dance
To Darkness
Restless Heart

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dave Matthews Band March 9, 2010 The O2, Dublin, IRL Review

Bam! Tuesday night I took my Dad to see Dave Matthews Band with my brother. That morning I got word that I had won two tickets so Jane got to go as well which was awesome. She brought her sister. It was a cracking gig, the guys seemed to be in much better form than the last time they played here which was in May 2007. Dave especially appeared to be having mighty banter on stage, full of strange musings and geeky dances which makes us Irish laugh at him all the while glad he's in a good mood!
They opened with the superb Bartender. Starting with the haunting violin and ending with a beautiful penny whistle solo with 15 minutes of a song in between. Sometimes they can frustrate me when they drag songs out to the death, but not this one, it was a great way to start the show. The sweet little Stay or Leave came next. A great song from Dave's solo album. It works really well with the full band. Next were 4 in a row from their latest album 'Big Whiskey...'. All short, snappy and great songs. Lying the in the hands of God was an exception as it had a 5 minute instrumental section added on at the end with some nice work from Jeff Coffin and Tim Reynolds.
One of my brothers favourites Gravedigger was next. It started with a minute long drum solo echoing 'Say Goodbye'. As with Stay or Leave this is a song from Daves solo album and is usually played acoustic so it was great to hear the full band play it.
Anyone seen the bridge into a Too Much fake and Ants Marching was a highlight. Loved it. Full of energy and Carter giving it socks on his ginormous drum kit.
#27 was introduced as 'Arms of a Woman' and was another sweet song for the ladies. It's a great song and a surprise it didn't make the cut for Big Whiskey, it did however make it onto a bonus cd that came with the deluxe edition. Seven from the new album was excellent followed by another huge highlight which was 'The Stone'. I was stoked to hear that one live. It sounded great. The ladies all melted with the next three songs; 'Crush', 'Crash into Me' and 'Where are You Going?'. Crush had the usual gazillion minutes interlude in the middle. It was fun to watch though as we had good seats, not sure how much I would have enjoyed it if I was standing. They did all sound great and I enjoyed Crash more than I expected. It's normally one I'll skip on the quadrillion live albums I have of theirs.
Their Leroi Moore tribute song 'Why I Am' which is the first song I connected with on Big Whiskey, was awesome. You & Me, a song which is destined to be played at many a wedding was next, it's a better song than I initially thought, perhaps having a wife makes me appreciate his songs for the ladies! 'You Might Die Trying' a song I can take or leave again was better than I would have anticipated, perhaps I was just having such a good time enjoying one of my favourite bands playing live. It's a treat to get to see them outside of the states. They finished the main set with a thumping version of 'All Along the Watchtower', not exactly a surprise to hear it as they've played it over 600 times!
The encore in terms of what we could have gotten was pretty poor. Baby Blue is another song for the ladies, it was just Dave and sounded great. They finished with Cornbread. A song that has grown on me, still I wouldn't have picked it for the setlist, never mind to finish the show with. However, I didn't mind what they finished with as I'd enjoyed the whole show so much anyway.
There were only 2 repeats between the show in 2007 and this one. Gravedigger and Ants Marching, 3 if you include Anyone Seen The Bridge?. All in all it was a fantastic show, they played for near three hours and appeared to nearly run themselves out of an encore. I'm sure, even though the setlist was fairly predictable the show kept the seasoned Dave Matthews fan happy, and hopefully won a few converts aswell. Hopefully they'll come here again sooner rather than later. Till then we'll have to wait for the release of their 49th live album!!
Here's the setlist

Stay or Leave
Funny the Way It Is
Shake Me Like a Monkey
Lying in the Hands of God
Anyone Seen the Bridge »
Too Much [fake] »
Ants Marching
#27 (Arms of a Woman)
The Stone
Crash Into Me
Where Are You Going
Why I Am
You & Me
You Might Die Trying
Stefan solo »
All Along the Watchtower
Baby Blue
Corn Bread

Monday, February 22, 2010

I was ashamed You call me beautiful

I love this guy (Anthony Skinner). His album 'Forever and a Day' is an awesome worship album. It has some of my favourite songs at the moment on it. I was having a flick through youtube and came across him doing a live version of the title track. I love the start when he gives a testimony of God healing him of a heart defect. Check it out.

I was afraid, your love set me free
I was in debt, you paid the price for me
I was hurt, you took away my pain
I was alone, till you called my name

I was broken, you mended me
Before I was, you loved me
You healed my body and you made me whole
No matter what I do, you don’t let go

I will sing to the king, I am the ransomed one
How I love your holy name,
Holy to the lamb who was slain
When I laugh, when I cry,
You are the reason why
How I want, to be with you, forever and a day

When I go to bed, you are near
When I wake up, you are there
When I play guitar, you are here
When I walk in faith, you’re everywhere

You catch and save every tear I cry
You journal everyday, all about my life
Your love for me, reaches to the sky
I am yours and you are mine

I was ashamed you called me beautiful (2x)
I was a thief you said I stole your heart (2x)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Striving is overrated...

Last week myself and Jane had the awesome pleasure of helping out at a weekend away for students. I love nothing more than talking about how good God is, facilitating worship and praying for people with my wife.
I'm more and more convinced that God wants to encounter every single person on the planet in a unique and tangible way. It was so fun and mind blowing to see God speak so specifically to people in a way that only he can, getting right to the core of them and telling them who they are.
I think the reason so many christians feel like they're in a desert with no water most of the time is because they've never heard from the Father what he thinks of them, and if they have; they don't believe it.
Why is it that we find it easier to tell God the things we aren't than thank him for the things we are?
As Christians it seems that we're subliminally (or sometimes blatantly) taught to think that we're worthless pieces of crap who continually annoy God by screwing up all the time. We're just gritting our teeth trying to be good moral people, waiting for heaven maybe telling a few people how crap they are and in need of saving from a loving God along the way all the while feeling that that same loving God may save us but doesn't really like us.
Lies. The bibles whole message is about a God desperate for his children to come back to Him. We need to stop being afraid that people will think God is too good and realise that he is, and always will be better than we can possibly imagine.
A whisper in our ear from the Father will let us know how good he is. We need to start hearing from God for ourselves. We need to allow the Father sing over us, rejoice over us and brag over us to all of the heavens. We need to hear from God. I'm so sick of the statement 'it's all about the word'. It's a cop out. A cop out for Christians who are too proud to allow God to be their Daddy, to allow their Father to wreck them with His love. We need to learn to be sons and daughters, sons and daughters who are doted on by their Father. We can preach till the cows come home, but if the message is not giving us an encounter with God it's just information and information never leads to transformation it just leads to striving. The word needs to be embraced with an encounter. How can we preach about the love, joy, peace of God when we've never felt it for ourselves. Let's this week hang out with God, not for information or theology but to just know him and know what makes him happy. I know one thing that makes him happy; when his kids believe Him when he tells us he loves us.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our ongoing adventures with God.

So we've been away for the last 2 and a half weeks and as always we had an awesome time. We went to sunny California except they forget about the sun part so it was just California. There was plenty of rain though which made us feel slightly at home.
Our reason for going away was two fold, 1. it's always good to just get away and 2. we were going to a conference in Bethel Church in Redding and catching up with some friends there, and making new ones!
We had a thought before we traveled which went something like "who said going away with your parents couldn't be fun?" so we brought my parents with us to the conference. It was awesome to have them around. The conference itself was exceptional. It was on healing and how God actually operates today. What is his character like? Does he still heal today or did he stop healing years ago like is taught in many churches? A big part of the conference was actually encountering God, there was plenty of worship where God could encounter us and there was plenty of healing. That part is always fun, watching people's faces when they are genuinely healed of pain, or deafness or blindness and so on.
I'm generally reticent to write about a lot of our experiences because I'm painfully aware that so many Christians don't believe in healing, deliverance, or even having genuine encounters with God. It seems like a huge percentage of Christians have more faith in their unbelief than in the power of God.
Many people stop short of a divine encounter because they are happy with good theology.Bill Johnson

Being in a culture where the presence of God is so tangible makes the statement "we will reflect the world we are most aware of" so true. Are we more aware of the presence of God or the presence of our enemies? By enemies I don't mean people, I mean things Satan throws at us like fear, unbelief, negative thoughts about ourselves, afflictions and loads more. Fear is a big one by the way. As I read yesterday in a Graham Cooke book "One with God is always in the majority". We just forget that and can let everything around us drag us down. We need to be constantly aware of His presence and we are to be the ones who change the atmospheres of wherever we go.
I'll reflect more on what we learned in the weeks to come. Let's just say I'm becoming more and more convinced that the Father is desperate to reveal himself to and encounter his children. We as believers in Him have to be the ones who facilitate that. To be able to release the power of Jesus in us we need to know who our God truly is, his character and to be fully able to embrace his goodness. We owe the world an encounter with God. An encounter forces people into a decision. It's not about just being nice moral people, it's about his world invading ours with power.
Whether people believe it or not, everyone wants a King like Jesus, a Daddy like the Father, and a comforter and guide like the Holy Spirit.