Wednesday, 5 November 2014

For King and Country: Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong


Artist: For King and Country
Album: Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.
Genre: Rock, Indie, Chilled
Rating: 4/5

For Kind and Country are a band that originated in Nashville, Tennessee. For some reason I read “Nashville, Tennessee” in a very thick Tennessee accent.

For King and Country have an amazing history of releasing great albums. Their latest is no exception. From beginning to end this album brings across an amazing sound. The album starts us off with “Run Wild”, a song about feeling trapped by yourself or your circumstances, encouraging everyone to “Run Wild”. This is a great way to start the a;bum, and we really get a sense that this album was created in order to encourage the audience.

This album has many slower songs, as they create ballads and powerful songs with this slower tune. However, even the more upbeat songs have deep and relatable lyrics. Whilst many of them don’t speak about religion in any way, all of them have many Christian undertones.

My personal favourite song is “Without you”. The featuring artist, Courtney, accompanies the style so beautifully. Her voice compliments the brothers of Joel and Luke Smallbone. The song is about not wanting to live without someone. A person can take this and understand it as a man and woman singing to one another, telling the other that they want to remain together forever. However, this is one of the many songs that has a Christian undertone, as two people cry out never wanting to live without God by their side.

The whole album is composed beautifully, with every song complimenting the previous song, and the songs to come. I would recommend this album to anyone looking for some exciting new songs to add to their playlist.

Stay Awesome Everyone.
M

Saturday, 1 November 2014

HalloWHAT!


Halloween. Taboo for some and the raucous party of October for others… I grew up knowing little to nothing about Halloween. My family don’t celebrate it, in fact my granny warned us against having anything to do with it – no celebratory carved pumpkins, no dressing up and no accepting sweets from strangers. And to be honest, I never really cared. Which is weird, because SWEETS!

Only until about a week ago, I still knew nothing of the history or meaning behind Halloween.  Most people say that, like Christmas or Easter, Halloween no longer has any meaning and has become just another fun, commercial festival where you get to dress up like Spiderman or Katy Perry and eat sweets for days... The reason we celebrate things is something worthwhile checking out and contemplating instead of blindly celebrating something you’re not exactly sure of.

Here is a link if you’re interested in the history of Halloween – Wikipedia works just as well. So clearly the evolution of Halloween is a bit not Christian and dodgy, and we immediately think, 2 Corinthians 6:14 - Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? Truth. Be aware of what you’re celebrating and whether you agree with it and if it is good for yo soul.

In the same breath, I don’t think it is wise for Christians to seclude themselves from the greater community at all times, because what impact can we then have on others? How can we bring salt when we sit on our butts at home?

But what got me started on researching Halloween was a common thread I noticed among all of my friends and fellow Christians throughout this last month…

Physical, emotional and overall spiritual attacks have been going all over the place this last month. Myself, my family and nearly all of my close friends and their families have been sick, facing very difficult problems at home, at work or in their relationships. It is strange that I have only noticed it this year, but I hardly think it is any coincidence that this has been happening, all at once, in such high concentration, in only one month.

My friend chatted to me about October being the month of High Times, referring to the occult ritual of ‘time-released curses’ that take place throughout the year, but in a high concentration throughout the month of October.  A time-released curse is a period that has been set aside to release demonic activity and to entrap souls to a large extent. Grrreeeaaat… Obviously it is not only in October that these things happen, but I’m sure if you think back on this month, many of you will realise that you and people around you have also been under spiritual attack in one form or another. Makes sense, right? A friend of mine shared this post on an Ex-Satanist’s views on Halloween, which also places some things into context – there is a link to her testimony at the bottom of the page.

My post is not to instill fear or guilt about whatever your feelings are towards the celebration of Halloween. I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t go to Halloween parties, because heck! it is clear that the community around us needs the love of Jesus, especially in this season. It is rather to inform you, and encourage you to have a more intentional approach to this season, and above all, to pray and ask God for protection, wisdom and discernment.

Ephesians 6:10-18 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Totally comment on this post if you can relate to anything that’s been said. Or if you have any questions or alternative viewpoints.

So much love,

Sammy

Monday, 20 October 2014

The only Christian at the Jol

So there I was. standing at the sidewalk cafe in one of the busiest streets in one of the 'trendiest' suburbs in Joburg, sucking up my chocolate milkshake (I was driving). Surrounded by the most beautiful homosexual women and not-so-beautiful drunk men. I overheard stories of 'doing lines' in bathrooms and a warning that the young men who decided to befriend us, could possibly just want our belongings. Nice.


It's been a while since I was around people with these kinds of habits, let alone called them my very dear friends. A while ago I didn't have any non-Christian friends. No, I was comfortably cocooned in my quiet little righteous bubble.
Sometimes I would wonder how different my life is from other 'non-saved' people and if I'm really making a difference in anyone's world at all. Normally these thoughts would occur to me at about 10pm just before I turned off the light and fell asleep, only to be forgotten in the morning.
But when you spend most of your time watching bands and artists perform live at clubs, bars and festivals, people with these habits are just part of the deal. And when you hear people say stuff like 'i haven't gotten laid in 4 weeks' or 'I might still be drunk from last night' ... you realise your lifestyle is very, VERY different indeed.
It's not always fun being the only Christian girl at the jol, often the only sober person, and therefore (most of the time) the designated driver.


Which lead me to wonder... Are there really so few Christians around? Or are most of them doing what i so often do ... Wonder how we can change the world from the comfort of our homes? Hey, maybe we can do it online? That way we won't even need to get out of bed!!?
Another thing i started wondering about, was whether or not me being there was even worth it. 'Is it enough for me to just be hanging around? Should i maybe have something really profound to say? A word of wisdom that i can just throw out there to make everyone question the meaning of existence and the significance of life?'
But if we're called to be the 'salt of the earth' ... then we should at least be around, right? How will people know we are Christians 'by our love' if we're never there? After all, nothing is going to get salty if the salt is kept far away! But that's what we expect isn't it? We think if we chuck out one liners or inspirational verses on social media people will suddenly understand Christ. That's why God used salt as a description, I'm sure... i mean, he would have had coriander back then. He definitely knew about it! But He doesn't want us to be some sort of garnish, or addition... to be chucked on right at the end. Or chili that just smacks people in the face with it's flavour and then leaves them to burn. No... salt is something that gets right in there, gets cooked and stewed and grilled. It's exposed to the heat, slowly but surely working it's way through, and eventually, gently, there's evidence of it's saltiness on everything it touched.
I'm obviously not saying that these other things don't have any place in the world. All I'm saying is, the majority of people out there are living very dangerous lives. They use sex and drugs and alcohol for everything from entertainment to medicine, and it's all fun and games until it's not. And when they realise it's not, they'll need someone to show them that they are loved something FIERCE, and they'll believe it, because we've been an example of it. Without ulterior motives and without judgement. Not because we want them to 'see the light', but because we actually care about them.
I stood looking at all these people. Drunk people. High people. 'Cool' people. I listened to their conversations... and all i could think was. 'Jesus, these people need you, and some of them probably have NO idea.'
We need to get over ourselves. We need to stop staying away. We need to get exposed to some heat and get our hands dirty because we're called to stay pure, not clean. We need to stop getting offended over every little thing, and we DEFINITELY need to get out more.


It's like they say... No one ever changed the world by never leaving the house

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Providence: How Firm the Foundation


Artist: Providence Worship Band
Album/E.P: How Firm the Foundation
Label: Independent
Genre: Worship, Folk
Similar Artists: Page CXVI, Sufjan Stevens
Rating: 4/5

Providence is a gospel-centred church in Austin, Texas. Their aim is to understand the gospel in all its fullness and apply it to all of life.

Their E.P, which can be downloaded here, is a beautiful collection of hymns declaring what Jesus has done for his people. The title track, "How Firm the Foundation", starts the album on an upbeat note with its catchy beat and blend of acoustic and electric guitars. The male and female vocals compliment each other perfectly not just in the opening song, but throughout the entire album.

Providence have altered the hymns from their original composition to a more folky, upbeat form in such a way that the true meaning and message behind the hymns are not lost.

On the whole, the sound of How Firm the Foundation is soft, gentle and melodious - progressing from an upbeat nature to one of worship (the album ends off with "Amazing Grace").

Personally, this has recently been my go-to album during quiet times and when I just feel like worshipping. If, like me, you enjoy folk, worship and old hymns, I really recommend downloading it!!

Peace and Love
A

Monday, 13 October 2014

J & A's playlist: October

Here is this months Playlist.

A's playlist:

The Brilliance: The Sun Will Rise

Ike Ndolo: Riverside



Page CXVI: Peace like a river


Amazing Grace



J's Playlist

Paper Route: Dance on our graves


Reliant K: Lost Boy


Sanctus Real: Lead Me


Skillet: One day is too late


Let us know what you think of this playlist...
Enjoy.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Disciple: Attack


Artist: Disciple
Album: Attack
Genre: Rock, hard rock
Release date: 23 September 2014
Rating; 5/5

It has been a long time since I have given an album 5 stars. I do not think that there has been a rock album released for a while now that can rival this one. Not even previous achievements from Disciple are as good as this. So spoiler alert, this album is good. In fact, I am going to state here that I believe this album is the best rock/hard rock album of the year. Here's why...

I am not going to say here that the reason for this album's success is the independent nature of it, and I mean that literally because Disciple developed this title independent of a label. So no, I do not think that it is because of the label. I am going to say here that I am proud of Kevin and the guys for standing strong in their beliefs and never wavering no matter what the obstacle.

The success of this album for me is the unashamedly invigorating way in which the band is able to morph their incredible musical talent with lyrics that are not "cheesy" or "over-used". Instead, each song tells a story, and each story sends a message, and each message can have a positive effect on someone.

Titled 'Attack', you can expect just that, an album that attacks your senses in every way possible, but just as you think it is getting too much, a ballad arrives to save the day. The flow of the album shows experience and grace from the band members. Praise is not only due to the band, but also to Travis Wyrick who managed to produce a quality product.

This album combines old school Disciple rock riffs with new school Disciple indie vibes. The blend creates a new sound for the band, and results in an album that you can listen to again and again. For me, one of the elements of this album that solidifies the 5 star rating is the fact that I believe whether you are a fan of rock or not, you will enjoy this album. I know that rock is not everyone's cup of tea, but what I do know is that this album has it all: fantastic riffs; awesome (as always) vocals; a message in the music; and most importantly, a diversity that does not detract from the album.

So there it is, in my opinion the best album of the year, the only problem is that it hasn't landed in South Africa yet, but don't worry too much, we are working on that.

So do yourself a favour, click here to buy the album.

Have a rocking week.
J

Monday, 6 October 2014

You Are Not Invisible

Often life tends to throw us something we didn’t expect. They say when life gives you lemons you should make lemonade, but what happens when life gives you an avocado, or a banana, or even, dear I say it, raisins (I despise raisins). What do we do when things are out of our control, when things just don’t seem to be going our way? Most of us turn to friends or family who have gone through similar experiences. However, what we should do is turn to God.

Often we forget that God is there in both the big and small moments of our lives. From the job interview that goes badly, to the marriage that lasts a lifetime. God doesn't just work in mind blowing miracles like parting an ocean, sometimes He chooses to act through the people in our lives.

This is how God shows His love for us. Even when we feel distant from Him, He reaches out and protects us. He turns our lemons into lemonade, and raisins into chocolate chips. Our problems are never so big that we can't come to God with them. We aren't invisible to God, He'll always have our best interests at heart.

I think the important thing to remember is that we can never be so far away from God that He won't help us. Jesus' shoulder is there to cry on when you have no one else. His spirit comforts us when we can't find peace anywhere else. There's an amazing truth that Jesus sees us for more than what we are - people with a bunch of lemons. Jesus sees us as being worthy of love, worthy of lemonade.

You may wish to be someone stronger, more accomplished, or more involved. I can tell you know God loves you regardless, and He wants what is best for you. All you have to do is trust Him, and listen in the quiet moments.

Stay awesome,
M

Sunday, 28 September 2014

God Doesn’t Call the Qualified, He Qualifies the Called

Have you ever heard the quote: “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called”, or “God equips the unequipped”? These quotes have entered the realm of cliché, but the truth behind them is as strong as ever.

Look at Moses, David and Gideon to name just a few in the Bible… These are men who had every right to have self-doubt – they were weak “average Joe’s”; speech problems; sheep farmer; poor family respectively… Yet each of them effectively went on to change the world as it was at the time.
The key element? God.

No man or woman can change the world in their own power, weak or strong. Yet what seems to happen is that God identifies someone who has characteristics in their early stages, with humility being a key element, and then places a grand mission upon them. He then helps grow them into the potential that He has ordained for their lives. It is so important for us to be open to the mission that He has for our lives, and if we feel something on our hearts – something that is so terrifying yet so mesmerizing  - we should ask for confirmation that it is a mission from Him (check Biblically, consult with pastor etc) – and then trust that if you commit to His mission, He will help you realize all the talents that have been lying dormant up until that point, and you could, without exaggeration, change the state of the nation, and the world. That’s not another cliché or throwaway statement… I genuinely believe that with God on your side, you truly can change the world!

This is not something to take lightly… We all have something on our hearts that we would love to pursue but we make up 1000 excuses not to because of overriding fear. I sincerely hope that you look at examples set by Moses, David and Gideon (there’s probably hundreds of more Biblical examples, and millions of examples in modern times – Nelson Mandela, anyone?), and use them as inspiration to courageously pursue His grand plan for your life; remember, He wants to use you to build His Kingdom… Would it not be selfish to turn that opportunity down?

Peace Amigos


Jordz

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Colton Dixon: Anchor


Artist: Colton Dixon
Album: Anchor
Release Date: 19 August 2014
Genre: Rock
Label: 19 Recordings/Capitol CMG
Rating: 4/5

Wow… So, to be honest, I did not expect to like this album when I first read about it, visited Colton Dixon’s webpage, looked at his hair, read about the genre, read that he had placed 7th in Season 11 of American Idol, read about the type of sound I would be reviewing...  But wow!  Was I reeled in, humbled and anchored (LOL) by the first two tracks!

S.O.S. introduces the album with eerie astronaut, or mission control radio crackles and voices, already setting a tone of urgency for a mission that he may be passionate about.  In my head, anything regarding space communication or travel immediately triggers the Infinite, the Eternal and some kind of bigger picture… The glory and wonder of God, the creator of the universe.

The second track, Our Time Is Now surprised me with its crispness, the uniqueness and unpredictability of its melody.  The rest of the album is equally surprising and kept me enthralled.  It is honest, passionate, appropriately dramatic and worshipful.

My favourite track is no. 7, More of You: “I refuse to gain the world and lose my soul”.


A cool thing about track 6, 35.8483, -86.4518. Type in these digits into the Google machine and it gives you a location, a road in Murfreesboro, Dixon’s home town J  A link back to his foundation, his family… Pretty cool.

“My hope is that at the end of it all, you feel closer to God than you did when you first pressed ‘play.’”
- Dixon

Strong vocals, interesting arrangements, strong piano, strong foundations. Strong album!

Big love,

Sammy

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Anberlin: Lowborn


Artist: Anberlin
Album: Lowborn
Release Date: 22 July 2014
Genre: Rock
Label: Tooth & Nail
Rating: 4.5/5

Anberlin is an American band from Florida. The band has been going since 2002, and since the beginning they have been releasing great albums. Their latest album, Lowborn, is no exception.  From start to finish, Anberlin once again proves to us that they are one of the best rock bands out there. Each song has its own theme and message for us.

The album starts with “We Are Destroyer”, an amazing song about the kind of people that we come across in society today. This song speaks to a generation of people that need to be better than generations that have come before them. This album was clearly not meant to be a light hearted listen. Instead, Anberlin have written songs that can be taken to heart. It’s a refreshing change from mainstream music, and this is where Anberlin really shines.

There seems to be one single theme that Anberlin highlights in each song. This is a theme of improvement and bettering oneself. However, there is a hint of hope in every song, the hope and knowledge that we can be better. With most of these songs, Anberlin don’t expressively sing about God or their faith. However, it is through this theme of hope that we get the feeling that the hope is in God.

This album has a touch of sadness though. From start to finish it is enjoyable to listen to, and there is no doubt in my mind that each and every member of the band is extremely talented. However, this is the last album that Anberlin will be releasing together. This album, and this album tour, will be the last time these members will perform under the banner “Anberlin”. Each member is going their own way, but there are no hard feelings amongst its members.

For their last album, Anberlin have ended with a bang. Anberlin have definitely created a masterpiece with this album. I’m excited to hear more about the future of each of the members of Anberlin, and where the road takes them. My personal favourite song on this album is “Stranger Ways”, a song about finding truth and searching for answers.

I highly recommend this album; it’s a great listen for fans of Anberlin and rock in general.

Stay awesome everyone


M

Monday, 8 September 2014

Travel

I love to travel. I’ve been blessed enough to see numerous countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. I lived in South Korea for a year (you can read about it on my personal blog – Bullet Trains and Bicycles), where I taught English and learned as much as I taught. I’ve also just come back from a trip through Botswana and Zimbabwe which I loved! There’s something about being in the wild, completely cut off from technology and all you know, just observing some of the most amazing animals in their natural habitat. I love what travel brings you; not only do you get to see some incredible sights, filled with new people, food and experiences, but you learn so much. When you travel, there is no space for closed mindedness. You’re forced to experience things as an outsider and have to be willing to open your eyes to possibilities you may never have thought of before.

Personally, Korea was a major game changer in my walk of faith. I strayed almost completely, only to be welcomed back by God in the most beautiful ways. I would recommend travel to anyone and everyone. I know that big overseas trips aren’t always feasible but it’s so much more than seeing Europe, America or Asia. I think we need to travel where we are more often. See other provinces, cities, suburbs. We have the most breath-taking country and it’s right at our fingertips. Even just a trip to a new restaurant or market on the weekend can breathe fresh air into a mundane week. If you usually fly to Cape Town, try road tripping it. If you like going to the beach, try the bush. Get out, open your mind and let God and this world speak to you in ways you can’t imagine. Nothing says God is beauty, love and pure awesomeness like watching the sun set over the Zambezi River or hearing the roar of the Victoria Falls.

I just think it’s so easy for us to get bored and wish we lived somewhere else, did something else, was someone else. But we have so much we can take advantage of. Don’t let too much time go by without appreciating your area, city or country. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll notice when you open your eyes.

This past holiday was so incredibly refreshing and I was reminded of how clearly God speaks when we are just still. I had little else to do some days other than sit and look out of a car window. And it was in that time that God was able to break through my busy mind and reveal things to me. I just think it’s so important not only to have that down time, but also to allow ourselves to broaden our horizons and see how other people live, think and experience the world. Even religion. And I wanted to share that with you. Travel often. It doesn’t need to be far, it doesn’t need to be for long. Just do it.

Until next time,

Let go and let God;


B

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Judah & the Lion: Kids These Days

Artist: Judah & the Lion
Album: Kids These Days
Release: 9 September 2014
Genre: Country, Folk
Rating: 4/5

So it's almost time for the three-piece folk band's latest release, Kids These Days, which is set to be out on the 9th of September.

According to Brian MacDonald (mandolin) the album has a "young and free feel to it". I personally see them following a similar trend to Rend Collective's latest album The Art of Celebration, with light-hearted lyrics, sounds of happiness and joy and songs of praise. MacDonald goes on to say "Kids These Days is about making the choice to be happy and content with our current situations."

The "youthful" theme runs, not only though the joyful/care-free melodies, but also in the lyrics. Lead-singer, Judah Akers, sings about issues pertinent to "Kids These Days" I guess! :p Songs sharing one's fear for the unknown, excitement for what's to come, hope for the future and being content with the present.

As someone who is in his early 20's I really connect with Judah's latest venture. It is an album filled with energy, joy and honest/heart-felt lyrics. I know many people's critique of country/bluegrass is the fact that a lot of it sounds the same. I, however, cannot fault this album on that. Kids These Days is packed with variety. Straying somewhat from the overall feel of the album is my favourite song "Water" with its rock-type riffs and vocals.

This band is growing from strength to strength and I am excited to see where God leads them! I highly recommend that you support these guys and purchase this album on September 9th!

Peace and Love
A

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Forgiving Your Enemies

The topics of discussion at our men's group this week were "Turning the other cheek", "Forgiveness" and how, as Christians, both should be  vital aspects of our lives.

Luke 6:27-36:
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. 

“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

This isn't going to be a long-winded blog post. I just want to urge you to meditate on the above scripture, and I pray that it serves as a reminder that, as Christians, we are called to be Holy, separate from this world. 
I know from experience how difficult loving someone who has hurt you can be. It almost feels against our nature to forgive in many instances, but we must lay down our pride, submit our problems to Jesus and do something that often feels impossible to do...love our enemies....and I mean truly LOVE.

This coming week I am challenging myself  to be more compassionate than I have been before...and, if this post has touched on a nerve in anyway, I pray that you will not forget this scripture and that God will work in you and give you strength/wisdom to be the compassionate being you are called to be.

Peace and Love
A

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Thousand Foot Krutch: Oxygen:Inhale



Artist: Thousand Foot Krutch
Album/EP: Oxygen:Inhale
Release: 19 August 2014
Genre: Rock
Rating: 4

The name of this album gives you an idea of what you are in for. TFK have been around for a long time, they have produced a lot of good music in their time and there is now a certain amount of weight placed on the shoulders of the band with each new album.

The band goes for a breath of fresh air with this album. Breathing a new sound into the scene they belong too. One of the things that has always impressed me about TFK is the fact that they are so good at letting the world know about their faith through some of the best melodies in the business.

As always, there is a lot of faith put in the ability of the band's front man Trevor McNevan to pull off a variety of genres within one album. Songs start off in melodious rock, then lead into a rap chorus followed by a combination of rocky vocals mixed with harmonizing with instruments. This task is something he takes in his stride and has a virtually flawless execution rate. There are a couple moments during the album where I personally feel that they could have been a little more consistent within the songs, but then the next chorus starts and you soon forget about that.

If you follow TFK you will know that there is a definite characteristic that all TFK songs have, and that is 'Rawkous' beats. Each and every song (even the ballads) have drum lines that will have you trying to keep up with Steve Augustine on drums. Then there will be moments when you will be air guitaring, not even caring who is watching.

Overall this album is a good product. TFK have managed to yet again produce a high quality rock sound. For me the only thing keeping this album away from a 5 out of 5 is the diversity within the album. Nevertheless, this album will be on repeat in my car for many weeks to come.

So throw up your Rawk Fist and party along to this new album.

Song of the week goes to "I see red"

Have a rocking week,
J

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Hearts on Fire

They said to each other, "Didn't our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?" Luke 24:32

Wow...what a crazy month it's been. I'm sure you've had a time like this...when it feels like your schedule is packed all day, ever day! I've barely had any time to just sit and be!? Waking up this morning I realised how much of an impact this busy-ness has had on my relationship with our God.

On my way home today I heard Passenger's song Heart's on Fire. Now although this song is about a man singing to his "darling"...the chorus really resonated with me and my relationship with God at the moment. Is my heart on fire like I know it has been before? Why not? My, how blinded we can get with the things of this world! We place such great importance on things that have no eternal value that we're willing to sacrifice the things that do!?

We, as sinners, are not consistent beings and fighting the good fight is a constant battle against the enemy. It is for this reason that I want to remind you of the importance of taking time out to spend time with Him and in His word. If, like me, you are feeling tired, anxious and feel as though you're lacking that fire and passion you once had, you really need to spend some intimate time with Him in prayer.

I read Ephesians 6:10-18 this morning:

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

After reading this I felt somewhat shocked, as I have been so caught up in "my own life" that I have side-lined my relationship with Jesus. Two passages of scripture that jumped out at me were, ..."stand firm against all strategies of the devil" and "Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for ALL believers everywhere." 

It is so easy to get caught up in everything but God....the devil is lurking, ready to put out that fire in your heart....put on all of God's armour and STAY ALERT!

It is my prayer for you and me that we will be strong in the Lord, that He will re-ignite (keep aflame) a burning heart within us, and that we will not lose sight of what is truly important in life.


Peace and Love

A

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Jordan Ruiz: The Mountain



Artist: Jordan Ruiz
Album/EP: The Mountain
Release: 28 June 2014
Genre: Folk/Indie
Rating: 4.5

So I downloaded this album a few weeks ago, coincidentally, as I sometimes do when I get my weekly new release emails from Noisetrade...  What a happy coincidence!  Ben Howard, Jon Foreman, Bon Iver, John Meyer or James Vincent McMorrow  fans - this is for you!

Upon hearing The Mountain for the first time, I found each song a continuation of the last, a journey of sorts.  At first I didn't realise that Jordan Ruiz was singing about God, but after hearing Enough, Enough, it became clear that the lyrics of this album are not merely an expression of human emotions or experiences, but are heartfelt and honest poetry, testament to God's love.  The journey begins...

Lyrics to Enough, Enough:

Lord of all light
I'm coming home, coming home
You will not deny
A broken heart, a broken soul
Reunion is my cry
Servanthood my goal
But you run to me and
Kiss my head, give me clothes 

Jordan describes the songs of this album as ones that "metaphorically document the change in seasons of life... a more intimate companion for those who know those changes well".  The album appeals to a variety of triumphant, subdued and restful tones and stylistic choices.  Uplifting, contemplative, wonderful lyrics accompanying soft and soulful vocals - so pleasing to the ears!

The title of the album is wonderfully appropriate. Speaking of, not only God's glorious creation but a mountain, a large steep hill. It's life, right? Obstacles, plights that we try get past, overcome. This album tells a story of overcoming - Jesus' overcoming and our reunion with Him.  One of my favourite songs from the album is A Darker Colour, give it a listen when you download the album here: http://noisetrade.com/jordanruiz/the-mountain
It is a song of hope amidst darkness - and we all need these words in our lives:

O my soul
Why are you downcast?
Praise the Lord
And find rest

In the first
In the only
Through the worst
Through the only 

Jordan also has a blog which is worth checking out: http://www.jordanruiz.com/blog/

Big love,
Sammy


Monday, 18 August 2014

J & A's Playlist: August 2014

J's Playlist

Relient K:That's my Jam
 
 
Vintage Kings: One Life


An Epic No Less: One Word

Capital Kings: You'll Never Be Alone

____________________________________________________________________________

A's Playlist

The Civil Wars: Dust to Dust
 
The Ember Days: Awake
 
Bellarive: Lazarus
 
Echosmith: Come Together

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Authentic?



Authentic /ɔːˈθɛntɪk/ adjective: of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine.

A couple of weeks ago, Alex and I had a conversation with friends of ours about what we think 'good' worship is.  A key word that came up in this conversation was authentic.  We all came to an understanding that good worship is all about ones heart towards God in that moment of worship, as well as in our daily living worship - what are your motives for singing praise or for doing anything else at all really?

At a worship team meeting earlier this week, the notion of authentic worship was echoed by many of us there.  After a discussion about authenticity in the act of worship, we looked at what the root of all of this is, what spurs on genuine worship or genuine love for God and people?  There are many things that were said, but what stood out for me was the ability to surrender your thoughts, your body, to sacrifice and put aside your worries and the stuff in your life and focus on the Lord of lords, giving everything you are to Him.  And this comes from an intimate relationship with Jesus - spending time with Him, listening to Him, discipline in drawing closer to Him... 

After contemplating the two previous Sunday posts by Jordan and Alex, I felt it fitting to continue the golden thread of reaching out to our immediate communities... Now Alex and Jordan both touched on what role the church plays in helping the poor and I would like to touch on something a little different:

What are we individually, genuinely doing to reach out to neighbours?


What are we doing to help the poor in spirit, the emotionally broken, those in need of a friend? I'll be honest - Most of the time, I am so tied up with trying to sort out my own relationship with Jesus, that I trick myself into thinking that I don't have time to spend praying for those around me, or take out time to listen to someone and get to know someone new, even my actual neighbour.

But how do you see the work of God in your life if you are not sharing your joy and your journey with others?  Yes, we have our close friends, our life groups, and we should treasure those precious friendships.  But what about acquaintances, neighbours, or even close friends who are going through tough times, or who need a hand, a prayer or some time to offload? How seriously do we take this commandment from Jesus? - Mark 12:31 "The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Wow... Loving another person in the same way, with the same amount of care you invest in yourself. Boom!  

Do humans even have the capacity to love with that intensity?  Nope.  But with God, with prayer, it is so very possible! The strength in which to do this is only found in Jesus, and the reason can only be Jesus.  If there is another reason, a reason of questionable origin, for reaching out to someone, be it pride, self-righteousness, whatever, our strength fades.  It doesn't work and we end up hurting those we're trying to 'help' and we hurt ourselves too.  This reason for reaching out needs to be 'of undisputed origin'.  God has shown me that this is a destructive way to go about loving your neighbour... And that the only motive for loving our neighbours can be the Love of Jesus Christ, for His Kingdom.

I want to challenge everyone who reads this, as I have been challenged by my God to grow and broaden my shoulders, to stretch my faith and do more for God's Kingdom: I would be willing to bet that we all know someone or know of someone who needs a friend, someone to show them the love of God, someone to laugh with them. Be that someone to them, even if in the smallest way.

This is an awesome song by Leeland that ties in with this post. What Dayton mooring says before the band starts playing is so wonderful. Do it!




So much of love,
Sammy

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Waken: Endless Light EP

Artist: Waken
Album/EP: Endless Light
Release: 7 June 2014
Genre: Indie/Electro Worship
Rating: 4/5

Waken is a new up and coming indie worship band out of FT Lauderdale, Florida. This, their first EP, has proven to be a great start to the bands journey.

The EP consists of four tasty songs that give you a sneak peak into the vibe and heart of this band. When the band chatted to another media agent they stated that their goal is to develop a new form of corporate worship. When I hear the term corporate worship I get excited. The world is changing and the way that people worship is changing, so then why should worship not change along with it? What Waken are proposing is new worship music with an even newer sound. 

So far so good. The first tracks kicks off the EP, and the career of this band with immense hope and positive drive. "We will run" lets you peak into what this band can do instrumentally, creating a vibe through their music while remaining true to their dream of developing new worship songs.

For me the excitement builds with tracks 3 and 4 when we hear Abbey and Rachel (the two female vocalists). Now I won't know for certain who is who until we chat to them, but both these ladies have voices that work spectacularly with the vibe Waken is trying to create.

The point of this EP is to give you a hint as to what the band can produce. Thus I am leaving my rating as a 4, because I believe that Waken are able to produce a full length album that shakes the worship world. Because of that expectation, I am waiting in great anticipation; and you should be too.

To listen to their EP click here.

Song of the week goes to "We will run"

Have a rocking week
J

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Everyone Can Give Charity....

"Everyone can give charity, but Jesus gives us so much more - He gives us community.... Family in Christ's love" - Jaco Strydom.

Jordan's post got me thinking about how I could REALLY make a difference in this world. What can I do to have a positive impact on the lives of the homeless, the broken and those suffering. His post came on the eve of my favourite week of the year....TuksMissions Week!

Every year the TuksMissions society organises a week of fellowship, worship and learning....all in the light of Missions. This year's speaker, Jaco Strydom, gave an incredible series of talks. Jaco runs a nonprofit organisation called ECHO Youth Development in Pretoria, South Africa. Between 2002 and 2013 ECHO established numerous houses, or intentional communities, for people in need. ECHO is made up of High School Youth and Young Adults from different cultures living together in 8 houses, called Echo Communities.

ECHO Youth Development hosts weekly youth programs. The community gather every week for communal meals with an open invitation to outsiders. Hundreds of teenagers from needy backgrounds attend Church multicultural services on Sundays. They provide counseling and social services and weekly programs at 9 schools.

Now I'm not meaning for this to be an ECHO advert. I just truly believe in what they are doing as a community of Christians.

The one talk that really stood out to me this week was his take on charity. Jaco has written maaaaany articles on missional-community and strongly believes that anyone can do charity....

"There is a difference between charity and community - and in this context I mean the typical feel good hand-out type of charity verses compassionate caring community with those in need.

The homeless, the lonely, the poor and the suffering need more than our charity, they need our presence.  They need God's people to connect and to at least try to understand. Caring community has a way of making people feel human again, giving them back their dignity."

Now, I am currently working on my thesis which is based in an informal settlement. I have come into contact with many people who are broken, lost and lonely. I remember when I first set foot in Mamelodi East...I was full of energy and optimism...I was ready to change the world! After walking through the streets for only minute I soon realised that the problem was a lot bigger than I had ever imagined....and there was NO ways that I was going to be able to help everyone!!!:/

God then placed someone in my life who would soon become a very dear friend to me...his name is Alpheus. Alpheus lives in, what he calls, "a tiny shack" ...he is 19 years old, finished his Matric, but, like so many South Africans, unable to find a job.

We met when I ran a photography workshop for my masters research.  Alpheus excelled in the competition that followed and, as a result, won a camera. His passion for the art was incredible and we soon began photography walks together. The friendship that blossomed from this has been amazing for both parties. I have learnt so much from him and he has confessed that the whole experience has given him a renewed hope in life.

Having this first-hand experience, as well as listening to Jaco speak about the importance of community, has made me realise that the only way to truly help others is by loving them. And I mean REALLY love them. Nothing compares to giving up your time and pouring out your love onto others.

" While charity might have its place in society, we as followers of Christ are called to journey deeper. We are called as his body to carry His presence in the lonely spaces of human suffering. Not only to give hand-outs, but to connect. Not only to send a light, but to be the light. Not only to share hope, but to be hope." -Jaco Strydom

Peace and love
A

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Kari Jobe concert review

 The night was finally here. The much-talked-about Night of Worship with Kari Jobe. 

It was one of those nights that you will always remember, one of those nights that will leave a mark on your memory for many years to come. 

It was the first time I had gone to a concert/worship evening where the artist started the night with a Q&A! I know I had spent weeks thinking what I would ask her, and on the actually night all my ideas seemed to fly straight out of my head! Thankfully, I got some of my answers from the other brave souls who could string their thoughts into a sentence…

One of the things she said that really resonated with me was her response to the question of how does she keep her focus on the right thing. And this is what she said:

“Sometimes it’s difficult to have the courage to get up and lead people in worship because sometimes we feel weak but in those moments, when we are weak, He is strong…. And it’s easy when His presence comes.”

“It’s easy when His Presence comes…” Words fail with a statement like that. As a worship leader myself, I have lived this yet in the moments when things are hard, you forget. To know that someone like Kari Jobe also lives and breathes for the presence, and largely depends upon it, was so encouraging.

From the moment she set foot on that stage, you could see she was a passionate lover of Jesus and His presence. In all of her answers, and in all of the songs that she sang, her genuine love for Jesus shone brighter than the amazing lights that surrounded her (and the setup at New Life Church is impressive to say the least!)

We all sang along to old songs and new, from ‘Revelation Song’ and ‘You Are For Me’, to ‘I Am Not Alone’ and ‘Breath on Us’ from her Majestic Tour.

The presence of God was so tangible in that place and there is always something so beautiful about getting together corporately to really worship Jesus. 

When she sang ‘Oceans’ the moment was so sweet, and she followed it with another incredible song that was recently released by Bethel’s Amanda Cook, ‘You Make Me Brave’. The crowd sang in total abandon and then she took a moment to pray for anyone who was feeling anxious or fearful, and who wasn’t feeling ‘brave’. Something broke in the spirit last night and there was breakthrough all over the room – you could literally feel it!

As the night drew to a close, you could feel the anticipation for her closing song. It could be none other than ‘Forever’. Being someone who watched the You Tube video of this song countless times, it was, in a way, a dream come true to experience this live. 

I am walking away from this night with my heart so full, with a fresh love for Jesus. 

I will never forget my night worshiping with Kari Jobe and look forward to having her back in South Africa.

His in Service,
Robyn



Some questions from the Q&A

Question: How do you keep your focus?

“Sometimes it’s difficult to have the courage to get up and lead people in worship because sometimes we feel weak but in those moments, when we are weak, He is strong…. And it’s easy when His presence comes.”

Question: How do you stay inspired?

“I spend time in the word and I have to always be grounded I need to always be reading stuff that encourages my spirit. It’s important to surround yourself with people who you do life with and who live Kingdom. I believe God equips us when He calls us. When I feel dry, I go deeper. I get more disciplined in my time and in reading the Word I go even deeper. I look for deeper material to really build me.”

“To get your worship team closer or deeper, it starts with prayer and fasting. You can’t lead people where you haven’t been. It has to happen first in the leadership and then it happens in the body"

Question: What is God doing in worship globally?

“The Spirit of God is the same yesterday, today and forever. And people are responding and people are coming to church hungry, more hungry than ever. People come wanting the Spirit to move. A shift has happened in the last year. Freedom to have the Spirit move has become what people want to see. That is what people are hungry for. We are seeing a modern day revival happening, and it’s not about a church or a bout a person. It’s about the body."

Question: What is the greatest thing God put in your heart this year?

“I have fallen in love. That will go public pretty soon. So, I am not single.”

Question: How do you breath and keep focused when you feel the presence?

“I don’t! In Port Elizabeth I cried all night. I love the presence of God so when I get overwhelmed, just like everyone else, I cry. I love to lead worship and it’s such a privilege for me.”

 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Is it Toxic Charity?

Due to the cold fronts that have hit Johannesburg recently, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about people on the side of the road; “hawkers”... “beggars” etc. The socioeconomic inequality of South Africa is still a major problem. The solution must be out there, somewhere, and I am confident we will reach it as a nation eventually, but we have not discovered it yet. As such, this is an extremely difficult topic to discuss, and I certainly have no definitive answers… so I would just like to put some questions out there, and hopefully it can raise some thinking and discussion.

The first consideration: Is it even our responsibility to give money to these men and women? This is obviously the most important question, and if the answer was to be a resounding “no”, there would be no need to write or read any more on the issue.

Assuming a lack of financial education, is giving them money truly helping? If we give them money, how much money will actually make a difference? There is a concept of “toxic charity” (with a book of the same name that I have yet to read) that states there is a type of giving that can do more harm than good to the recipient. Over the last couple years, I have begun to think that giving food and having a short conversation with the person is better, because we all need food as physical fuel, and human interaction with some encouragement is a necessary emotional fuel. But is that enough? Another consideration is, if we give money to people from “the goodness of our heart”, does it not matter how it is used?  If we believe the money could be used for alcohol or any other intoxicant, is it better not to give at all?

As I write this, I realize that I should do some further reading into research that’s been done on this topic. Everyone has different opinions, and many have become desensitized to “the man on the street” to the point where we indulge in our lunch within our warm car, while shaking our head as if to tell them we have nothing we can give them, as they stand there hungry and shivering. I am guilty of this all too often myself.

As Christians, we want to help people. But what is the best way to help? What is the best way to make a difference?

I encourage you to pray about it and discuss it with your friends. As South Africans, these are conversations we need to be having. If we can unify in finding the right way to help those in need we see everyday, we can start forming solutions to the poverty of this country.

Peace amigos!


Jordz

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Ian Yates: DNA


Artist: Ian Yates
Album/EP: DNA
Release: 21 July 2014
Genre: Alternative/Indie/Electro Rock
Rating: 4.5

DNA.  I love that this album's name is DNA.  It speaks of Jesus being within us, engraved on our hearts and the daily process of realigning oneself with Him.  All the songs speak of the outrageous Love and Grace of God and how we are born of our Father's image.  What a moving and encouraging album!

Firstly, thank you Ian Yates for pursuing the amazing talents God has given you, using them to glorify Him and for blessing all those who hear your music!  Secondly, thank you 7Core Music for investing in Ian Yates - he is truly a great and innovative worship leader.

Ian Yates and his wife, Kate, stay in Liverpool (which already makes them fantastic!) and Ian leads various events and churches in musical worship all over the UK.  You can download his new album on iTunes from his website:http://ianyatesmusic.com/

So, the album: I found  myself jamming to almost all of the tunes while listening to it on repeat last night! Definitely jam-worthy worship here.  The album displays truly innovative indie-alternative-electro-rocky worship, with a very full sound and unusual mixture of chord progressions.  The electro elements and underlying bass are fresh!  Each song also has the sincerest words and appropriate, contemplative open spaces at the perfect times.

Track 4, Innocent is where the vibe is at! Such an infectious rhythm with frequent gaps of stillness that let us really digest the positive and inspiring words.  And if you're like me, a sucker for the more mellow worshipping songs, experience Track 6, God I Need You.  Honest and heart-rending.  Track 10, We Enjoy You really brings something new to the 'conventional' lyrics we might be used to in worshipping songs.  So refreshing.

One thing that us as the writers at Rocking it Christian Style look for is fresh and innovative Christian and worshipping music.  This is it.

Big love,
Sammy


Sunday, 20 July 2014

God is good, ALL the time

Hi friends,

I was thinking about what I was going to write about this week, and although there are plenty of relevant topics to choose from, I really felt that a feel-good, encouraging post may be in order.

This has been a rather challenging year for me in terms of my studies; Masters has led me into many a discouraging and frustrating situation. This week in particular, it just felt like nothing was going smoothly. However, amidst all my frustration and pondering over “how could I have misheard God so much”, I just felt the need to trust Him and have faith. So I did. I took the steps I could to rectify the situation, I prayed, and I waited. And God came through.

Now this might seem like an obvious outcome – of course God came through. But sometimes it’s hard to believe things are happening for a reason. Sometimes we feel like we must have misread the signs, or think we didn’t pray hard enough, or that we’re on our own path and God’s going to leave us until we find the right path again. But that’s not what Romans tells us:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” Romans 8:28.

Trust me when I say this: God will not leave you. He is working in ways that we can’t always see but He sees the bigger picture. There is nothing we can do, no place where we can go, where He cannot use us and work it out for our good. I’m a firm believer in lessons and even when the situation works out in a way which seems like a failure, there is something to be learned from it. We need to live confidently in the freedom that God gives us, trusting that He will guide us when we seek Him but that even when we get it wrong, He’s still got us. How glorious the realisation that we can make mistakes, we can veer a little to the left and still His plans will be made known.

If you love Jesus and are open to his leading, things will work out. My Pastor said one of the most helpful things in a sermon a few months ago that I’ll share with you now: when asked by his son about how you hear God’s voice, he explained that often it’s when you look back that all the little lights line up and you find that God’s been leading you the whole time, you just didn’t know it. How true!!! How often I’ve looked back and been amazed at how God’s been working the whole time, all for my good. God is good, ALL of the time. He will use whatever you’re going through right now to bring you out the other side, better and more equipped to build on His Kingdom.

So have faith. Have patience. Trust that no matter how YOU feel, God is working and when you come out the other side, which you will, you’ll look back and smile at the wonder that God’s hand in your life is.

Until next time…Let go and let God.

B

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Judah & the Lion: Sweet Tennessee

Artist: Judah & the Lion
Album/EP: Sweet Tennessee
Release: April 2013
Genre: Folk, Country
Rating: 4.5

I'll never forget the first moment I heard the alluring voice of Judah Akers, the lead singer of the three-piece folk band, Judah & the Lion. From that first line of "Fill This House" I was hooked...."Holy Spirit come and fill this house up. Let your love fall like a fire. Consume us, Lord." This is what I was looking for. A folky band with a heart for Jesus.

You can just imagine the excitement felt when I found their latest EP Sweet Tennessee on Noisetrade! With their first release, First Fruits, being a worship EP, the band decided to create an EP that connected with a wider audience. Although the Christian connotations are not as obvious in Sweet Tennessee, they are definitely present. The lyrics are centred around Tennessee and the band's love for their country roots.

For me, this is one of the best EP's I've listened to all year! The beauty contained in this album is indescribable. I can honestly say that Judah and the band are able to paint pictures with their music....despite the fact that I've never visited Tennessee, I feel as though I know it intimately.

Although the country/folk instruments tie the sounds of each song together, the EP presents the listener with a diverse range of sound. Whether it be a slow, enchanting song like "Sweet Tennessee", or a foot-stomping, singing out loud song like "Southern Ground" it's got it all!

I pray that Judah & the Lion will continue to grow from strength to strength and that, in Jesus' name, they will continue to grow the Kingdom. I can't wait to hear their upcoming album "Kids These Days", coming later this year!

Peace and Love

A

Sunday, 13 July 2014

J & A's Playlist: July 2014

J's Playlist

Demon Hunter: Dead Flowers

Capital Kings: You'll Never Be Alone

Thousand Foot Krutch: The End is Where We Begin

Skillet: Monster
_____________________________________________________________________________

A's Playlist

Ike Ndolo: Crooked Soul

All Sons and Daughters: Christ Be All Around

Judah and the Lion: Our Love

NEEDTOBREATHE: Multiplied