// sunday music: aftermath

Okay, this week’s sunday music is coming from the new Hillsong United album “Aftermath”, which I know a significant amount of the readers of this blog have probably already heard. If you haven’t, though, it’s well worth a listen – you can hear the full thing on grooveshark here.

The last Hillsong United studio album was “All of the Above”, which featured in the top worship albums of the past decade, and the new one is equally powerful. It’s reflective, innovative and profound; proof that Hillsong are at their best not when they are doing the epic and high-energy but in the moments of stillness instead.

Pick number one is the title track, Aftermath. Love the piano on this and the lyrics are amazing:

My favourite track from the new album, Bones, is pick number two today. The simple chorus – a breath of “oh, Jesus” that sounds like a whispered prayer – has a real power, and I love the spoken word refrain of Isaiah 61, even if the synths do make it sound a bit like worship music has just now reached the 80s:

And finally, pick number three is Awakening, the title track of the last Passion album and a song co-written with Chris Tomlin. It’s appeared on a few albums, but I love the slow, thoughtful delivery on this CD and the bridge, with Reuben Morgan declaring “like the rising sun that shines | from the darkness comes a light | i hear Your voice and this is my | awakening” is amazing:

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And that’s your lot for today. I’ll try to post the saturday round-up later today but I can’t make any promises on that front – life is so busy at the moment it’s unbelievable.


// freedom

So you know how Paul once reminded people in a letter that it was for freedom that Christ set them free? That they should stand firm, and not let themselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery?

And you remember how Jesus himself told us to come to him if we were weary and burdened, because his yoke was easy and his burden was light?

Well, for all of that, as a Christian, do you never feel a little bit… paralysed?

We read endless books and blogs hoping that when we just understand a particular part of theology we will “get it”, and everything will fall into place, and so we hold out for that day.

We complain to each other about our inability to conquer the addictions that take hold of us or the fact that we don’t know how to talk to our friends about Jesus or we’re anxious or we can’t talk to the opposite sex and we hope that one day, somehow, this will all get easier.

We listen to worship music that yearns for God on our ipods, day after day, and we wonder why He doesn’t seem closer to us.

Maybe the answer is already here, right in front of us. Maybe we’ve just been doing all of that stuff to keep us from the difficult business of having to live it.

Because the truth is this: we are not paralysed. We have been set free.

That’s a short message today, and a simple one, but I think it’s important.

You might not feel it. Everything in you might seem to cry out that you are still trapped and nothing will ever change. It might not seem tangible, plausible or possible.

But this is true. I will promise you this.

It is for freedom that you were set free.

You are not trapped. Not bound by fear, doubt, loneliness, pain, pressure, culture or anything else that stands against you. You have been set free by Jesus Christ to live the life that you were created to live.

Stop living like that’s not true.

// sunday music: music for a found harmonium

Just the one pick for today’s sunday music, really – made famous by its appearance in Napoleon Dynamite, today’s music is Patrick Street‘s cover of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s Music for a Found Harmonium. It’s marvellous – quirky and cheerful, a lot like the film itself. Listen to it on grooveshark here, or there’s a Youtube video below:

I was also going to post a video of the prom scene from Napoleon Dynamite, soundtracked by Alphaville‘s original version of “Forever Young” and probably one of the most poignant depictions of teenage loneliness that I’ve seen on film. However, it’s not on Youtube, so you’ll have to make do with the tune here.

A band called Youth Group did a good job on it before Jay-Z got to it, too (listen to that here).

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And that’s your lot for today – I’ll see you next Friday!

Sorry about the irregular posting the past two weeks, things have been crazy busy – I’ll be back to normal next week.

// teaching

I’m taking a leaf out of Seth Godin‘s book this week and going for a shorter post instead.

I’m looking forward to watching Jamie Oliver’s Dream School, which starts on Channel 4 on Wednesday this week, both because I admire Jamie’s outlook on the world generally and I think his philosophy will translate well when it comes to teaching. But a few discussions this week have got me wondering what is is that teachers should do and be.

Is a teacher someone possessed of superior knowledge trying to impart that knowledge to others? Is a teacher a facilitator for young people, a spur to revelation and self-realisation? Is a teacher a mentor, a model for how people should live and act?

How holistic do you think teaching can and should be – both generally, and in a Christian context?

And where do you get that from?

Thoughts please.

// saturday round-up (19/02)

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK: “the Holy Spirit, the internet and bloggers like you and me” – Loved this article describing Christian bloggers as “pioneers”, people stepping out into uncharted territory. What do you think? It seems to me like there’s a lot of good in the discussions about Christian faith currently going on online.


// learning how to reach out to all families in your community – Great article from REyouth pastor about holistic and whole-family youth work, which links in well with Krish Kandiah’s article below. Check it out here.

// it takes a whole church to raise a child – On a similar theme to REyouth pastor, it’s great to see this topic on people’s radar at the moment. Check it out here and see if you can shed any light on the conversation or how you can live it out in your situation.

// the beginning and end of marriage – More great stuff from The Church of No People‘s “Love Month”. Some controversial topics for discussion, but all in all a very thought-provoking article from a great series. Go here.

// going solo – Another week where Jon Acuff’s Serious Wednesday post was exactly what I needed to hear. It’s here.


// come alive – Amazing video from CMS (thanks jonnybaker for passing it on) which creatively uses Foo Fighters lyrics to create an excellent, thoughtful meditation. I love this:

// the ‘love chapter’ as you never heard it before – Amazing rendering of a very familiar chapter that brings a whole new freshness to the words. Go here (via. Jesus Needs New PR).

// james blake – If you’ve not heard James Blake yet, check him out here. Echoes of Bon Iver and a really novel approach to music – his album’s streaming all over the place but you can hear bits of it here; it’s a grower, but it is weirdly beautiful.

// spring offensive – Certainly one of my favourite Oxford bands, Spring Offensive are giving away a “pay-what-you-like” acoustic EP called Between You and Me for another two days here. You should get it, and then you should go to see them, too, because live they are amazing.


// awkward “you’re single?” conversations at church – Yep, I’ve had some of these.

// purchase justification – “Is it even possible to make Kingdom impact while using a Dell?” The answer is no (I know.) Brilliant guest post from Tyler Stanton at SCL. Read it here.

// hardcore bible thumping spirit filled jesus freaks: This is just amazing:

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And that’s your lot for today. See you tomorrow for sunday music.

// sunday music update: long distance lullaby

I just realised what today’s sunday music was missing, and it’s this – Oxford’s Stornoway, and their stunning album closer “Long Distance Lullaby”. Best enjoyed through headphones and accessible here, it tells the story of a man who finds himself drunkenly wandering home one night in a tone that both simultaneously resigned and hopeful, like the ramblings of a close friend. For all the melancholy, it’s also kind of life-affirming.

Eccentric, ambitious and building to a stunning climax, it is the perfect love song to be listening to as you step into Valentine’s Day, whether or not you are attached. It’s on YouTube here, but the grooveshark link above is higher quality so I’d advise using that instead. Enjoy:

// sunday music: Valentine’s Day

Well, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and so today here are three (kind of) love songs. Don’t say I don’t know how to treat you:

First up, the joyful Hellogoodbye with “Oh, it is Love!” – on grooveshark here and youtube here (it won’t embed, but the video is worth following up).

Summery, upbeat and exuberantly romantic, you can’t really beat it, especially on a grey February morning:

Pick number two is a whole different kettle of fish, with The National and “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” providing an oddly triumphant cry of “All the very best of us | String ourselves up for love” that should provide a fitting antidote to your situation if you’re single and feeling depressed about it. Grooveshark here and watch it here:

And finally, Switchfoot and “Your Love is a Song”, a kind-of love song that provides a fitting coda to this post. It’s not on Grooveshark, so watch it here:

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And that’s all for today.

I love you all, I hope you know that.

See you on Friday!