Amazing Grace at Woodstock and Other Weird A.G. Tunes & Facts


Amazing Grace at Woodstock?  What?!?!  Sure. Amazing Grace is played everywhere.  Funerals, Weddings, Folk Festivals, Live Aid and Church.  Arlo Guthrie performed it at Woodstock as one of his three songs.  One of the others was "Coming into Los Angeles bringing in a couple of keys (as in kilos of marijuana) don't check my bags if you please Mister Customs Man." Oh well... And you know Willie Nelson has performed it. It's as though Amazing Grace was written for his voice. Even Rod Stewart (You've got to be kidding!) performed it! It's an amazing song (pun intended.)

John Newton might not appreciate it, but some of us have discovered that his song, Amazing Grace, - the most recorded song ever- can be sung to a variety of tunes.  Today in our church we sang the song in its original form, and then I moved us to some more creative forms, including "The House of the Rising Sun,"  to the tune of "Gilligan's Island," and then my newfound arrangement of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall."  While goofing around with these together  somebody shouted out "Happy Birthday!" Combining the two seems too difficult on the spot, but when I got home I tried it.  Sure enough Happy Birthday works!  So does "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow," "Old MacDonald"  "The Brady Bunch Theme" and even to "Jesus Loves Me!" It's real kick.  What songs can you think of?

On serious side the song itself IS amazing! Here's the story:

"Early in 1748 he was rescued by a sea captain who had known John's father. John Newton ultimately became captain of his own ship, one which plied the slave trade.

Although he had had some early religious instruction from his mother, who had died when he was a child, he had long since given up any religious convictions. However, on a homeward voyage, while he was attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm, he experienced what he was to refer to later as his “great deliverance.” He recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy upon us.” Later in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him. (story taken from

Artists who have recorded the song

The hymn has been recorded by many artists over the last century. Two versions have made the UK Singles Chart; between 1970 and 1972, a version by Judy Collins spent 67 weeks in the charts, a record for a female artist, and peaked at number 5. In 1972, an instrumental version by the Pipes and Drums and Military Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards spent five weeks at number one, also reaching the top spot in Australia.

  • Aaron Neville
  • Alabama
  • Andy Griffith
  • Anne Murry
  • Ani Difranco: Dilate
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Arlo Guthrie: 1969. Woodstock Festival
  • Auld Town Band and Pipes
  • Avalon
  • BeBe Winans
  • Bill and Gloria Gaither
  • Billy Ray Cyrus
  • Blind Boys Of Alabama
  • Bluebells of Scotland
  • Byrds (Lyve Twytter 1969 Bootleg of Filmore SHow)
  • Canadian Scottish Pipes Regiment
  • Charlotte Church
  • Charlie Rich
  • Cherokee National Children's Choir
  • Chris Squire: Going For The One
  • Chris Tomlin
  • Crabb Family
  • Crystal Lewis on her Hymns CD (With Greg Laurie introducing her)
  • Daniël Lanois
  • Destiny's Child
  • Diana Ross
  • Dirty Dozen Brass Band
  • Doc Watson
  • Dropkick Murphys
  • Edinburgh Military Tattoo
  • Eiko Shimamiya: (I'VE) In EIKO SHIMAMIYA LIVE 2005 ULYSSES CD
  • Elvis Presley
  • Flatfoot 56: Knuckles Up (2004). Track 12. (A Celtic punk version which includes a verse of repeated "Praise God!").
  • Frank Ticheli
  • Glen Campbell
  • Golden Books Lullabies
  • Hayley Westenra: Pure
  • Hee HAw Gospel Quartet
  • Hubert Laws
  • Irish Tenors
  • James Galway
  • Janis Joplin
  • Jars of Clay
  • Jeff Beck (on All Star Christmas)
  • Jerry Garcia: The Pizza Tapes
  • Jim Brickman with Ginny Owens
  • Jim Nabors
  • Joan Baez: 1985. Philadelphia stage of Live Aid. Also often reserves the song as the closing number for the most appreciative concert fans.
  • John Fahey
  • Johnny Cash
  • Judy Collins: 1970; re-released in 1971 and again in 1972. Spent 67 weeks on the UK chart. Recorded at St Paul's Chapel, Colombia University.
  • Katherine Jenkins
  • Kikki Danielsson (on her 1982 album "Kikki")
  • Krishna Das: Pilgrim Heart (2005). Track 3.
  • Kylie Minogue: Performed on her Let's Get to It Tour in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo: with Paul Simon on various releases.
  • Laura Love
  • LeAnn Rimes
  • Leadbelly
  • Lee Greenwood
  • Lennon Sisters
  • Lincoln Brewster
  • Lisbeth Scott
  • Mahalia Jackson
  • Michael Crawford
  • Mika Nakashima: Crescent Moon single (2002) as track three, True album (2002) [with differing album version] as track one, Best album (2005) as track one. The version appearing on Best was re-recorded and rearranged (retitled "Amazing Grace (05)")
  • Nan Mouskouri
  • National Philharmonic of London
  • New Orleans Saxaphone Ensamble
  • Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • Oak Ridge Boys
  • Odetta
  • Paul Coleman
  • Pete Fountain
  • Pete Seeger
  • Petra
  • Phil Vassar
  • Phish
  • Ralph Stanley
  • Randy Travis
  • Ray Charles
  • Renee Fleming and Mark O'Conner
  • Rod Stewart
  • Royal Scots Dragoon Guards: 1972. No 1 in the UK.
  • Ruben Studdard
  • Sandi Patty
  • Selah
  • Seven Nations
  • Shinobu Sato (World Music)
  • Shirley Ceasar
  • Sissel
  • Smith Siters
  • Soweto Gospel Choir
  • Statler Brothers
  • Steve Hall
  • Stryper
  • Steve Green
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • Susan Aglukark has recorded a version of Amazing Grace in Inuktitut.
  • Suzanne Balcom
  • Taliesin Orchrestra
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford
  • The Black Watch
  • The Charlie Daniels Band
  • The Groundhogs: Who Will Save The World?
  • Todd Agnew performs a rock version called Grace Like Rain
  • Tramaine Hawkins
  • Twila Paris
  • Walela
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Willie Nelson
  • Windham Hil Collection with John Doan
  • Vickie Winans
  • Victor Wooten: Live at Bass Day '98

The Metro-Spirituals Are Here!

Richard20gere I'm fond of saying, "People are incurably religious." The apostle Paul on Mars Hill said, "His -God's- purpose in all of this was that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist."  Centuries later, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) said it this way, "There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every person which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known by Jesus Christ."  You can't escape it, sooner or later people are going to have to find 'some way' to express this inner, created need.

There's a new outward expression of this inner need on the scene, this time lead by some of the more visible personalities in the entertainment industry.  Many of us have started to notice it, but haven't known what to call it.  It's the "spiritual expressions" of the likes of Angelina Jolie, Richard Gere, Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman and even Madonna. Last year a BeliefNet article called it 'metro-spirituality.'  This time around, it mixes Buddhism, Taoism and other ancient forms of spirituality with products.  A spiritual consumerism.  Going shopping as a holy experience?   It's not shopping at Wal-Mart, QVC or Stop and Shop though.  Although these wise retailers are sure to have a product line for metro-spiritual types soon.

OK, what is it? It's about values, choices and the search for inner peace in the modern world turning into expressions of spiritual life.  This time much of the expression comes from purchases and consuming. Food and where it comes from is a big part of a metro-spiritual lifestyle.

Some say the "Holy Trinity" of metro spirituality is: (1) Honoring the Planet (2) Healing Yourself (3) Exploring Other Cultures.

Others see it in a more consumer oriented package (1) Organic, artisan foods purchased under fair trade agreements (2) Clothes and furnishings from the global community (3) Health, Beauty and Alternative Medicine Products.

Before you hear anything too negative about all of the above, it should be said there is nothing wrong and maybe a lot of things right with those categories.  The church I pastor deliberately buys coffee from PuraVida because they enter into fair trade agreements with coffee farmers in places where they otherwise are frequently taken advantage of. Truth is we probably pay a bit more, but the coffee is good and the practices are fair. PuraVida also returns a percentage of their profits back into coffee growing communities and social projects. Everybody wins. That's good.

Recently more Christian leaders been paying attention to the environment, without resorting to worshiping the earth.  The earth has been given to us as a stewardship and we should care for it in a similar way to how we care for our bodies and our cars. Which for many of us, isn't much care or investment at all, but even the worst of us give occasional thought and maintenance to both.

Take note that you can't really be poor and be a metro-spiritual, most of this costs money and the products that appeal to metro-spirituals are quite a bit more expensive than their counterparts in WalMart.  The Yankee Candles we burn in our house probably won't pass the muster with most metro-spirituals.  I do have some sandalwood oils I brought back from India, they would probably have a better chance of towing the line.

Origins, a health and beauty company, whose byline is "The Genius of Nature" offers "Peace of Mind" aroma products.  The "Peace of Mind" product line includes some spiritual hints on living the peaceful life: (1) Turn off your cell phone for one hour (2) Create rituals (3) Reconnect with nature (4) Breathe deeply (5) Reach for a 'Peace of Mind' product.   

For totally cool and very expensive clothes and home furnishings putting you in tune with the global community and making you feel spiritual be sure to shop Anthropologie or ABC Carpet and Home.  If you have doubts that home decorating can be a global spiritual experience, just click on the link to ABC and enjoy the world music and world visual collage on their home page. They put forth their products as "illuminate, timeless, sustainable, spiritual, nomadic, beauty."  And they DO have some totally cool stuff!!

Food, the organic kind, grown by artisans is course part of the life of metro-spirituals.  Be forewarned though, it's expensive!  Somebody described the life of a metro-spiritual as one having, "hippie values and a yuppies pocketbook."  Pretty fair.  But what drives it?

The human need to touch divinity, to experience inner peace and be connected to others is the driving force. We're incurable. We need to be religious.  The 20th century made all of us aware that we are in fact a global community and equality does not exist across the global spectrum.  Metro-spirituals are trying somehow to connect with the rest of the world and to show their solidarity and concern, even if their carpets are overpriced and the profits never get to the peasants that wove them together with bleeding fingers.  But at least they're aware and they are trying to appease an inner calling to connection. Or as others would evaluate it, maybe they are just filthy rich and are trying to appease their conscience. Maybe a little of both. 

The problem, as I see it, and what makes it obviously clear that it doesn't embody absolute truth, is that everybody cannot practice metro-spirituality. The truth is the people in the developing world that are creating the product base that connects so many metro-spirituals to the global community are not earning a sustainable income from their products. In fairness many companies are recognizing this, but the Buddhist peasant that carves out a statue sold in a Manhattan shop could not pay the street price of his own creation if he saved all of his income for a lifetime.

If something is true, it will be true for all people in all places at all times. This is what we mean when we use the phrase "absolute truth."  With one billion people still without clean drinking water, metro-spirituality is a long way from being able to meet the spiritual needs of the global community.

Some say that metro-spirituality is actually contributing to some of the problems it is trying to identify with. Eco-tourism is a growing industry among metro-spirituals, but some say it is harming the very environments people are coming to see and experience.

One of the proofs that true, Biblical Christianity, is the expression that has come from heaven is its ability to morph in every culture, every locality and any age. Poverty is no barrier to the practice of pure Christianity and neither is great wealth. The Bible is full of the accounts of people with nothing and people with abundance. Christianity works for both and has admonitions to both.

Jesus gives peace to people who are not able to afford luxury health and beauty products.   

The up side is that it's finally OK for Hollywood and celebrities to be spiritual.  Celebrities are humans too. They have a God-shaped vacuum as well. Madonna told Larry King, "I was looking for something. I mean, I'd begun practicing yoga and, you know, I was looking for the answers to life. Why am I here? What am I doing here? What is my purpose? How do I fit into the big picture? I know there's more to life than making lots of money and being successful and even getting married and having a family...  There's only one thing that lasts and that's your soul. And if you don't work on that, and you don't pay attention to that, then all the money in the world is not going to help you."

Some say that America is 'post-Christian,' that they have tried Christianity and moved right past it. Maybe so. But if it is post-Christian, than it must also be pre-Christian. Most of those that have rejected Christianity haven't rejected Jesus. They've rejected the institutions they have seen around them.  Beginning with the baby-boomers, America began to increasingly distrust institutions and started to opt for more individualized and personal outlets of spirituality. That would be fine, except that it will not ultimately satisfy.  There is only One that will satisfy and put our hearts at rest.

Metro-Spirituality is only one more evidence, one more proof that there is an emptiness in our hearts that is longing to be filled.  Madonna's Kabballh is destined to end up empty and fashions and home furnishings will go out of style. The day will come when getting into an aroma bath will be more painful than it is helpful.  There is something of eternal weigh and worth that works for all people everywhere. As the old hymn says, "Come into my heart Lord Jesus, Come into my heart today!"

Did Bob Marley Become a Christian?

Marley_2Well I hope so, because I really like his music! He was one of the world's most creative musicians, blending rock music with the feel of the islands and the rhythms of Africa. If it wasn't for Bob Marley most people would know nothing about reggae music.  Besides his innovative musical style, Marley was also known both for his playful and sometimes dead serious lyrics. One of my favorite Marley lines is, "Oh please don't you rock my boat, because I don't like my boat to be rocked."  Many know Marley for his pointed political statements and his passionate Rastafarian practices heard in his songs, including his passion for smoking ganja (marijuana.)

Yea, but did he become a Christian?  You just can't hope, especially when most people know that Bob Marley was one of Rastafarianism's best known spoke persons.  Marley was bright and articulate. He was no misinformed convert to Rastafarianism. When it came to his religious committment through his music Marley was completely informed.  There is no doubt he had a good grasp on the Rasta's spiritual, social and political positions.  While there are reportedly 700,000 practicing Rastafarian's worldwide, Marley was perhaps the best known.

One of his most moving songs (which includes a repetitive line chanting "Move!") is "Exodus: Movement of Jah's People"   It's a passionate "Back to Africa" plea. "Exodus" reflects some of the prominent tenents of Rastafarianism.  Rastas saw, Haile Salassie, emperor of Ethiopia as the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah."  The Messiah.  "Exodus" is about the worldwide scattered African community moving "Back to Africa.' Specifically to Ethiopia a.k.a Holy Mount Zion.

Some of Marley's lyrics (Get Up, Stand Up) reflected his disdain for the indifference of the established church on earth to the suffering plight of the poor and oppressed on earth. The song also indicates his affirmation of Salassie as Messiah/Savior. 

Haile Salassie knew that the Rastas had put him on the level of the Messiah and to dissuade them he commissioned the forming of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jamaica (home to Marley & reggae.) Salassie and the church made many statements against "emperor worship" and "herbal sorcery" (the marijuana smoking in Rastafarianism.) The church was formed in Jamaica to lead the Rastas AWAY from worshiping Haile Salassie as the Messiah.  If a Jamaican joined the church they had to renounce Haile Salassie as the Messiah. The church maintains that one can ONLY be baptized in the Name of Jesus.  There have been standing issues between the Rastas and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The issues between the Rastas and the EO Church have revolved around the Rastas claim that the EO Church has moved away from the Bible's emphasis on the poor and justice. The obvious ones to me are that the EO Church has better historical doctrine, while the Rastas have way better music..  but we digress...

Bob Marley, one of Reggae's best known artists, one of Jamaica's best known sons and the world's best known Rastafarian 'non-official' spokes-person battled cancer for four years, beginning when he was 32 years old. His cancer began as melanoma on the bottom of his foot. A strange place indeed for that type of cancer.  Marley let the cancer go for a period of time before getting treatment.  In the later days of his cancer he was shuttled (secretly and quietly) to some of the best and most famous cancer treatment centers in the world.

In the midst of his cancer battles and on his last tours Bob Marley's faith and worldview began to change.  On November 4, 1980, Marley was baptized by the Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Kingston Jamaica.  Here's the account of the Archbishop concerning Bob Marley, his baptism and conversion:

"Bob was really a good brother, a child of God, regardless of how people
looked at him. He had a desire to be baptized long ago, but there were
people close to him who controlled him and who were aligned to a different
aspect of Rastafari . But he came to Church regularly. I remember once while
I was conducting the Mass, I looked at Bob and tears were streaming down his face...When he toured Los Angeles and New York and England, he preached the Orthodox faith, and many members in those cities came to the Church because of Bob. Many people think he was baptized because he knew he was dying, but that is not so...he did it when there was no longer
any pressure on him, and when he was baptized, he hugged his family and wept, they all wept together for about half an hour."

For Bob Marley, he knew exactly what he was doing in his baptism, probably more than many people know when they are baptized.  While most people will profess a "turning towards Christ" in their baptism, in order to be baptized in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Bob Marley also had to RENOUNCE the "heresy of Emperor worship."  He was turning from Rastarfarianism and towards Christianity. Marley knew what he was doing. He was turning to Jesus Christ. This sent shock waves through the Rastafarian community.

Bobmarley At 36 years old, the undisputed "King of Reggae Music" on May 21, 1981 Bob Marley was buried with his Gibson guitar and his Bible at his side.  His last words to his son Ziggy were, "Money can't buy you life" and according to his mother, Cedella, his very last words were, "Jesus take me."

I've always loved Bob Marley's music.  I can't wait to see him!

"One Love, One Heart.  Let's Give Thanks and Praise to the Lord and We Will Feel Alright!" Bob Marley

Was Elvis Presley a Christian?


Was Elvis Presley a Christian? 

It has been 29 years since Elvis left the building on August 16, 1977.  To read the report as it was published in the Washington Post click here.

I discovered the music of Elvis late, but I'm pretty convinced the rock and roll era really began with him.  He wasn't the first in the genre, but it never would have gone where it did if it wasn't for Elvis. Growing up I saw a few of his movies, although he never caught my attention until I saw a special on the dance moves of Michael Jackson.  The entire special was in black and white and showed Jackson's moves from the waist down.  They showed a comparison of Michael Jackson's dance moves and then showed Elvis.  Michael took a LOAD of his moves DIRECTLY from Elvis.  The bent leg move was a direct copy from Elvis. Jackson also took moves from James Brown, Sammy Davis Jr., Fred Astaire and other famous dancers.  Hardly any of his moves were original, including the 'moonwalk' which he copied from Sammy Davis.

Elvis knew that God was God and he wasn't.  'He didn't like being called 'The King', says Ray Walker of the Gospel group The Jordanaires that backed Elvis up on many of his hit songs. "The 'king of rock 'n' roll' was one thing, but not 'The King'." He said one time, 'There's only one king, and that's Jesus Christ.'  He'd be appalled by the Church of Elvis. He knew who he was. He wasn't fooled."  (click here to listen the Jordanaires singing Gospel.)

There are other accounts from the colleagues of Elvis where he would say, "Im not the king, Jesus Christ is the king."  He also said it in Vegas.

Elvis has a step brother that became a Christian and he reports that Elvis believed in Jesus.  His step brother, David Stanley said, "Elvis read a lot of books, The Impersonal Life, the Shroud of Turin, endless, but he always went back to the Bible."

Elvis had another step-brother, Rick Stanley, who today is a Baptist Evangelist that has spoken in over 4,000 churches. Rick Stanley has written a book, Caught in the Trap where he highlights many of the spiritual events and struggles in Elvis' life.  Stanley recalls when Elvis was in Las Vegas, he asked Evangelist Rex Humbard and his wife to be backstage with him. Elvis dedicated "How Great Thou Art" to Humbard that night.  It was then that Elvis knelt down to pray with Humbard and recommitted his life to Christ.  Elvis was talking about Jesus being the Truth the night before he died. It was Rex Humbard that conducted Elvis' funeral.

David Stanley says that fame caused Elvis to be conflicted about just everything in life. "I would sit down on his bed and watch him open the Bible and cry his eyes out 'God give me strength!' One day he's taking a handful of drugs, next day he's praying for forgiveness."

Elvis' childhood friend, Becky Martin, said that Elvis always wanted to be a preacher. She says that in the 70s Elvis told her, "Becky, just think what I could have done if I had become a preacher! Just think of the good I could have done for the Lord!"

Elvis struggled for sure. He loved doing Gospel music, but he struggled his whole life to connect the two worlds without success.

The great thing is those of us who are believers will see Elvis again. If you missed how great he was in this life, you can meet him in the next.  At least that's what his minister step-brothers tell us. But between now and then get some of his real early stuff and you'll see that he truly is one of the originators of roll and roll!

When David Stanley said Elvis was "going back to the Bible" he meant it.  Elvis grew up in the Pentecostal church, in the Assemblies of God. He loved the music and went to many Gospel conventions.  All his life he would keep "coming back to the Bible."

Decemberadio @ Calvary Chapel

DecemberradioDecemberadio has been getting some great mainstream press and a lot of airplay on Christian stations across the country. Billboard and MSN called them one of the indie bands to watch in 2006.

They will be with us @ Calvary Chapel for our 9:30 & 11:15 services on Sunday morning, August 20th.  They will not be performing at the 8:00 service. They ARE rock musicians, that's a little early for them!!

Tom Miyashiro will be sharing the message that morning. It should be a great time of worship and encouragement. Be sure and bring a friend!

To hear decemberadio click here The music will automatically start.

To read what MSNBC said about them click here

For other reviews and articles try these article one  article two  article 3

Christian Music Goes Mainstream

Blue_billboard_1 Today on Billboard Magazine's "Daily Music News" I noticed that out of ten articles, four of them had the influence of Christians in them.  And out of the six CD reviews on the two had Chirstians on them. For the last ten years or so Christians have been fully engaged in the mainstream music scene. It used to be that most Christian artists were either locked into church music or locked out of the mainstream. Bluegrass and country seemed to be the exception to this.

The CD review was Leigh Nash's new CD on One Son records. She was for many years the lead singer of Sixpence None the Richer.  Sixpence has performed at the church I pastor.  It's great review. Read the Leigh Nash CD review here.

Pod_04l The first article was about the rockcore band P.O.D. (Payable On Death) and their departure off of Atlantic Records ( a huge mainline label) to who knows where. POD started in San Diego and were n a Christian label for some time, but they never went far on those circles. Without ever compromising their beliefs, and writing songs full of spiritual content, they rocketed to top of pop music having sold over 7 million records since their mainstream debut in 1999.   

The next article talked about a re-release and a reworking of a DVD from U2s Zoo-TV tour.  While U2 isn't generally thought of as a "Christian" band, Bono and other members have professed Christianity and spoken openly and somewhat frequently about it.  Bono in particular has used his celebrity to champion causes that are bigger than himself, the band and even nations to tackle. He has taken on worldwide poverty and AIDs.  Michael W. Smith is one of those that has partnered with Bono to bring about immediate relief and lasting change to some of the world's most difficult problems.  Bono recently addressed the National Prayer Breakfast. You can read his speech here:  Bono at the National Prayer Breakfast. Here's a great Bono quote about Jesus,

    "...but I'm holding out for grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity."  Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas

To see George W. Bush singing Sunday, Bloody Sunday, by U2, click here.

The next article was about a CD collaborative effect between Alan Jackson and Allison Krauss.  Alan Jackson has been around for a long time, but I only became familiar with him from his lyrics to 'Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?" his amazing tribute to the September 11th attacks.  Recently Alan Jackson put together a Gospel album of songs that he did as a Christmas present to his mother. The songs were scaled down musically and after he released them publicly the CD went to the top of the Christian charts. You can listen to clips of Alan Jackson's Gospel songs here. Allison's band Union Station has some very committed Christians in it.

The fourth article was about the release of a new folk music CD. Artists in the compilation included Ralph Stanley and the Stanley family. Ralph Stanley has been performing for decades, but was introduced to new audiences through "O Brother Where Art Thou?"  Of course Bluegrass has been a more acceptable platform for Christians and Gospel music in the past, but nevertheless, that made for four Christians in the ten "Daily Music News" articles. Pretty good.

Pray for Christians in the entertainment industry. They are only people, but they are people with a lot of visibility that work very difficult hours.

    Third Day on FX Series "30 Days"

    Thirdday Third Day was featured in Wednesday's episode of the FX original series, "30 Days."   (Maybe you remember the "30 Days" guy from "Super-Size Me." The episode titled "Atheist" placed an atheist to live with a Christian family for 30 days. While living together during this time period, the Christian family takes the atheist to a Third Day concert. The band's music and live performance were both featured in the episode. The episode is schedule to re-air at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 12 and on Monday, August 14 at midnight.

    Chevrolet hooked up and promoted Third Day for the tour release of their CD, "Wherever You Are."  The mainstream has defiitely been taking note of Christian artists.

    Let's pray they hear the message!

    Alice Cooper, Born-Again Shock Rock

    Alice_cooperAlice Cooper, one of the original shock rock artists has been born again for quite some time.  You can read his story in two parts here: Part One Part Two.  Alice Cooper's father was a pastor and his grandfather was an evangelist.  He has been attending a local church in Arizona for several years. 

    Since his conversion to Christ, he continues to perform his shock rock / fright rock concerts. His daughter has been known to appear with him in some of his on-stage stunts.

    When he's not on the road, Cooper has been busy raising his family, staying faithful to his wife of thirty years (his says he has always been faithful - good for him!) running a small restaurant chain and starting Christian ministries.  !5 years ago he started the Solid Rock Foundation, which is run by one of his good friends and an elder, Chuck Savalle, from his church.

    The most recent project of the Solid Rock Foundation is to build a 3 million dollar arts center designed to help young stay off the streets and to come to Christ.

    God continues to work in people's lives, leading folks to himself. What a great encouragement to hear of folks like Alice Cooper committing their lives to Christ, living for Him and finding ways to use their lives to reach out to others.

    Who's Going to Love You When Your Looks Are Gone? God Will!

    Paul_simon_surprise "Who's Gonna to Love You When Your Looks are Gone?"                  

    Good question?  God, of course is the answer.  And who would have thought that Paul Simon would be telling us that?

    Here's the lyrics from his new song, 'Outrageous:'

    "Who's gonna love you when your looks are gone?
    Tell me, who's gonna love you when your looks are gone?

    God will, like he waters the flowers on the window sill.
    Take me, I'm an ordinary player in the key of C,
    And my will was broken by my pride and my vanity

    Who's gonna love you when your looks are gone?
    God will, like he waters the flowers on the window sill.
    Who's gonna love you when your looks are gone?"

    Paul Simon's new CD, tilted 'Surprise,' is produced by Brian Eno, who is known for his work producing the Talking Heads and U2. The Eno influence definitely comes through. Sometimes it sounds like a U2 recording. But what is more pronounced is the spiritual influence.  What's Paul Simon thinking these days?  What's he been reading?  Who has he been talking to? There are spiritual references throughout the CD.  It reminds us that nobody gets out of here alive and everybody at some point starts asking the big questions. The big "surprise" on "Surprise" is Simon answers a few of the questions. 

    Paul Simon was born in 1941in New Jersey, then moved to Queens, New York as a youngster. It was there in high school that he stared the famous duo Simon and Garfunkel.  He has been married three times, and most recently to Edie Brickell (of the New Bohemians) since 1992.  They seem to be good for each other. Pray that they are able to stay together, as many entertainment industry marriages are terribly stressed.

    In 1986 Paul Simon toured with and wrote music with Ladysmith Black Mambazo.  The record they made together, Graceland - listen to clips here - went on to achieve both commercial and critical success. The South African founder of the group, Joseph Shabalala, became a Christian in the 1950's and continues to this day as a minister in South Africa.  His faith was severely tried recently when his wife was murdered in a church parking lot. He took the high road and decided to pour himself into God, forgive and trust.  It's hard to believe Joseph and Ladysmith didn't have some sort of spiritual effect on Paul Simon.

    Celebrities in the past have come close to recognizing the truth and turning to Christ, but instead turned away. Let's join together and pray that God will draw Paul Simon and Edie Brickel to Himself. The real Graceland!

    Hey You Did It! David Crowder Rules!

    000486In June we encouraged everyone to go to MSNBC and vote for the David Crowder Band to be "Artist of the Month."  Well they won! By a lot!  We sing a lot of David Crowder songs in church, so this is totally cool.  Christian Music is gaining widespread acceptance in the secular or "crossover' genres. 

    Another band that did really well this month was "UnderOath."  Underoath defines themselves as "a Christian metal band from Florida." They are playing at Cornerstone Festival, one of America's premier Christian Music Festivals, this week (first week of July 2006.) Their CD debuted at number on the Billboard charts. That means they sold a LOT of Cd's in a week.