Forest Creatures

Last week my mate Steve came back from a weekend in Cali, having been over to be there when a friend got married. As usual, he was laden with goodies, including some nice new tees from the guys at Something Sacred and a couple of CDs. The guys who run CanaVP were shooting the footage for the wedding film, and it turns out that Drew Barefoot, one half of the CanaVP duo, also makes music…and some fine music at that. Steve kindly gave me a copy of Drew’s album Forest Creatures, and it’s one of the best things I’ve heard for a long, long time. Peaceful Indie/Americana instrumentals at it’s best…a musical mix of tranquility and grace. Absolutely beautiful. If you’re looking for something a little different, and don’t mind the lack of lyrics, go download it here.

Velvet Elvis and The Kingdom of God

I’ve been reading Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis on the Kindle app and recently noticed when flicking through the chapters that I’ve highlighted almost as much text as I’ve left alone. In my opinion, the book is THAT good. I’m fully aware it’s been out for about 5 years now, but having spent time thinking about and speaking on the Kingdom of God recently, I’ve been mulling over some of Bell’s thoughts. I particularly like his approach to what God’s kingdom actually looks like here and now, and his take on the fly-me-away-to-a-faraway-land vs. help-me-engage-with-the-world-the-way-Jesus-would-here-and-now (I made these up, so don’t blame them on him!) paradigms.

Here’s a few quotes I liked:

“For Jesus, the question wasn’t, how do I get into heaven? but how do I bring heaven here? The question wasn’t, how do I get in there? but how do I get there here?”

“The goal here isn’t simply to NOT sin. Our purpose is to increase the shalom in this world, which is why approaches to the Christian faith that deal solely with not sinning always fail. They aim at the wrong thing. It is not about what you don’t do. The point is becoming more and more the kind of people God had in mind when we were first created.”

“The goal isn’t to bring everyone’s work into the church; the goal is for the church to be these unique kinds of people who are transforming the places they live and work and play because they understand the whole earth is filled with the kavod of God.”

“This is why it is impossible for a Christian to have a secular job. If you follow Jesus and you are doing what you do in his name, then it is no longer secular work; it’s sacred. You are there; God is there. The difference is our awareness.”

“What’s disturbing is when people talk more about hell after this life than they do about hell here and now. As a Christian, I want to do what I can to resist hell coming to earth. Poverty, injustice, suffering – they’re all hells on earth, and as Christians we oppose them with all, our energies. Jesus told us to.”

“The goal isn’t escaping this world but making this world the kind of place God can come to. And God is remaking us into the kind of people who can do this kind of work.”

The Ember Days

Really enjoying these guys right now. Come&Live have posted New Zealand band The Ember Days’ 3 albums/EPs for free download or donation. They’ve got some great instrumental stuff on the most recent Finger Painting EP and some good sing-alongs too. If you haven’t heard them, head over now to www.myspace.com/theemberdays or www.comeandlive.com

1 Month Today

Well, it’s little Leon’s ‘Monthday” today and life has definitely taken a turn for the better. Apart from nappies, noise and no sleep, I’m really enjoying fatherhood, and whilst I can’t say I can’t remember what life was like before kids – as so many fellow folks foretold – things really have changed. One thing in particular is the albums in my iTunes…one of the most recent additions being the fun new Bible-blaring band The Rizers. If you’ve got kids or you just need some perky pop to help you memorise some Scriptue, check these guys out at www.therizers.com If you’re worried about your image and want to stay hard, it might be helpful to know one of the main men behind this musical memorising is also heavily (no pun intended) involved at Tooth & Nail Records. You’re welcome.

Sweet Design at Tooth & Nail

Yesterday I came across a Tooth & Nail spotlight on architecture site/blog Arch Daily, featuring some tasty pics from their Seattle offices showcasing their clean, creative workspace, all custom-designed by Lead Pencil Studio. If you’re into architecture and design, Christian hardcore and metal, or just just generally like things that look good, then head over and have a look at the rest of the pictures here.

Creative Church – Invisible Creature

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get slightly (and other times not so slightly) annoyed at things like thisthis and this. That’s why it makes me happy when I see believers creating and innovating, rather than counterfeiting and plagiarising. It’s also always nice to see Christians both inside and outside of the church holding their own in artistic and creative industries and helping lead the way to new ideas and practice, rather than arriving 5 years late with half-hearted attempts and bad rip-offs. End of rant.

So, I thought I’d do a bit of a series and post some links to Christian creatives that I consider to be paving the way forward and expressing their God-given gift through the likes of music, communication, marketing, design, writing, teaching, programming etc. I’ll probably throw a few more rants and reflections in there along the way too, because I like to.

First up… INVISIBLE CREATURE

These guys are the Seattle-based toy-collectors who are possibly most well-known for their band Demon Hunter, but who actually hold their own just as well, if not better, in the world of media and design. With a client list including everyone from Nike, Target and Disney to the Foo Fighters, Kanye West and MTV, these guys have an impressive portfolio. Check em out at invisiblecreature.com

Limbs and Branches

If you’ve missed this one give it a listen. Along with the 4 seasonal 6-song EPs from which the 12 tracks on this one were taken, this album’s been part of my staple singer-songwriter diet for the last couple of years. Totally different to the stuff he does when fronting for Switchfoot, this is Foreman at his best.

Karl & King

It’s been way to long since I heard anything from previous NG worship collaborators Jonatan Brandström and Anders Eckeborn, but just got the news that they recently released an EP with their Stockholm-based band Karl and King. Click the banner above to head on over to MySpace for a listen.

Welcome to The Welcome Wagon

With my real-life abode taking up most of my time the online abode’s been sidelined for a while, but now that our internet connection is sorted and most of the painting out of the way (next job: sanding & treating wooden floors), I thought I’d to ease back into things with a quick songmaker spotlight and a couple of links. The reason for this particular band? Well, The Welcome Wagon have been keeping me company whilst brushing my now white walls, and their refreshingly casual/unusual/unpredictable approach to worship music keeps on catching me off guard (in a nice sort of way), and I thought some of you might appreciate something a little different to the usual anthems from the Sydneyites and Soul Survivorers. Signed to indie guru Sufjan Stevens’ label Asthmatic Kitty, the Brooklyn-based Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife make an odd mix of stripped back spirituals, hymns and alternative gospel, and with no musical training and their own lounge room as primary gig venue, there’s very little pretentiousness and a whole lot of down-to-earthedness to be had. How a farmer-boy agnostic becomes a Presbyterian church-planter and Sufjan-collaborator is a mystery, but The Welcome Wagon are full of surprises, and that’s what we like them for. Pay them a visit here and have a listen here.

Invincible

My wife says I’m overdoing it with daily blogs…I say it’s a good substitute for social networking whilst I’ve got my lent ban going on (that is the point, right?…just replace it?). Besides, I think she’s just jealous because she can’t keep up. But who said quantity = quality? Anyway, my good friends the 29th Chapter released their new single on iTunes today, so I thought I’d post a quick shout out and suggest you all go buy it and help the boys climb the charts and keep Jay-Z and N-Dubz company. Go yo!