Come Around Sundown by Kings of Leon

The rock group Kings of Leon recently released the follow up CD to their highly successful album “Only By The Night”.  This new CD, “Come Around Sundown” depicts them more as a  beach-rock jam-band than the arena-rock alternative group they portrayed last time.

Many of the arrangements are scaled back from the band’s previous offering.  My favorite song, “Pyro”, is the song that feels most like it belongs on their last cd.  “Pyro” features a driving drumbeat with sparse instrumentation leaving room for lead vocalist Anthony Followill to squall “I don’t want to be your cornerstone.”  Other winners on this new cd include the good-time focused “Birthday”, and the chilled out “Beach Side”.

This CD isn’t as mind boggling as “Only By The Night”.  Still there are catchy melodies and refreshing sonic landscapes.  For those who enjoyed their last cd “Come Around Sundown” is definitely worth multiple listens.

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

How will you be remembered?  In “Outlive Your Life” author Max Lucado challenges readers to live unforgettably.  Lucado weaves Biblical stories of the early church with stories of current heroes inspiring us to think bigger than ourselves.

Just as the early church cared for orphans and widows of their day Lucado highlights the needs of the poor in our world.  He likens our world to a community of ten farmers with ten cows.  Our worldwide resources are distributed as if two farmers own eight cows leaving the other eight farmers left sharing two cows.  He challenges us to compassionately respond to the needy around us.

Lucado also used stories of the early church meeting in homes to inspire me to grow in neighborliness.  He challenged me to designate one meal a week as a “hospitality meal” and always plan on having people over.  Likewise he charged me to make a new rule for the next two months: no one sits alone.

Lucado’s inspiration to grow in compassion and hospitality hit home.  I hope to practice some of his ideas so when my days have passed my contribution to Jesus’ significance, not my own, may be worth remembering.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

New "Eyes Up" EP

In 2009 I accepted a challenge from Worship Leader magazine to create something tangible that inspires people to connect with God.  I wrote songs for my local church, LIFE Christian Fellowship in Chino California, to sing to God.  I hoped to record those songs so LIFE could use them to worship God during the week.

Marco Sassoon, my mentor, found out about the project and offered to help.  Together we began emailing each other song ideas and refinements.  We introduced the new songs to the churches we serve.  Musicians Pili Bailey and Matthew James also contributed their talent to the songwriting process.

We crafted these six songs to encourage us to lift our eyes up to Heaven.

1.  Strength And Song - inspired by Exodus 15.  After Moses and the Israelites crossed the Red Sea out of Egypt they sang a song of celebration to the Lord.  This new take on Exodus 15 teaches about the power of singing scripture.  The catchy melody aims to get people singing and clapping.

2.  On Your Name.  When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray He started off with “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.”  Jesus wanted us to respect God’s name.  The Bible continually mentions the name of the Lord as a significant force.  This song summarizes many powerful aspects of God’s name.  The melody is easy to sing and follow.

3.  Power - inspired by Psalms 96-99.  Based off of the psalms of enthronement that describe God’s sovereign rule.

4.  Lifeline - inspired by Psalm 86.  This song speaks to the place of desperation that we all find ourselves in at some point.  We can find power when we take our eyes off the desperation of the situation and place it on the truth of God’s always present love and goodness.  That change of thought brings us to a place of surrender and hope in the desperate places.

5.  All Of My Life.  This song accentuates the point of redemption when we run to God instead of running from Him.

 Renewed - inspired by Psalm 1.  This song celebrates life transformation and renewal.  It humbly acknowledges God’s way as the best and expresses a desire for His way.

Drums: Ricky Lawson
Bass: Gene Simons (tracks 1,2), Matt Morgan (3-6)
Guitar: Ryan Biermann (1-6), Mark Arvizu (3,5), Mark Bratton (4,6)
Keys: Luke Graham
Lead Vocals: Luke Graham (1-4,6), Laura Gonzales (5), Pili Bailey (4), Josh Boyer (6)
Background Vocals: Vanessa Barsamian (4), Dena Hempel (5,6), Cindy Lund (1,2), Stacey Percival (1,3)

Song information:
1.Strength and Song words & music by: Luke Graham © 2006 More Left Music
2.On Your Name words & music by: Luke Graham/Matthew James © 2008 More Left Music
3.Power words & music by: Luke Graham/Marco Sassoon © 2010 More Left Music
4.Lifeline words & music by: Luke Graham/Pili Bailey © 2010 More Left Music
5.All Of My Life words & music by: Marco Sassoon/Miranda Keller © 2009 CausePraise Publishing
6.Renewed words & music by: Luke Graham/Marco Sassoon © 2009 More Left Music

Craig Ferguson

In the midst of the recent late night fiasco Craig Ferguson retains my vote for best late night host.  He’s funnier and has more heart than the other guys.

In this video from 2007 he explains why he won’t tell jokes about Britney Spears on his show.

Goals For 2010

In his book "Against All Odds" Chuck Norris emphasizes the importance of chasing after goals. Put simply he encourages us to set goals, visualize ourselves achieving them and then go for it.

Goals help us live intentionally. For 2010 I want to release three worship EPs. These music recordings will contain roughly six new original songs each.  I want each song to be usable for church worship gatherings.

Not all songs will be written by me. My mentor Marco Sassoon and other friends are helping me write songs. The project will represent different churches and vocalists.

By the time 2011 comes around I hope to have recorded 18 worship songs for churches to sing to God together. It's a lofty goal. Now it is time to visualize then do.