I remember having a meeting that day with Jason Ritchie the Executive Pastor of Creative Arts at Crossroads Church in Vancouver, WA. As that meeting ended and we started making our way out of the office, Jason looked at me and said, Martin follow me this way, I want to introduce you to someone. We walked down the hallway and then into a music studio room and there was Brandon Bee producing and working on an album project. It’s been about two years now, on that day I met Brandon for the first time. Since then, I have come to know him through his music ministry as someone who is not only an incredibly talented and gifted worship leader, music producer, and songwriter with a passion and calling for music, but he is someone who has an even greater heart for God, for His people, and for worship leaders here in the Northwest. Today, Brandon and his family currently make their home in Tri-Cities where he also serves as the worship pastor at Calvary Chapel Tri-Cities.
I am pleased to write an album review piece on Artist Brandon Bee's latest album "Songs From The Sky" which was released this past June 2, 2017. This is also Brandon's fourth solo album and let me just say, be ready to be blessed and encouraged as worship leader Brandon shares his heart in these seven wonderfully written songs.
From the very first song you can't help but be captivated by beautiful synth pads, vibrant vocals, and a worshipful heart that draws you into the story being shared on this album. Its sound and feel is the creative blend of praise and worship and some alternative rock. If I could compare Brandon's sound on this album to other artists out there, I would have to say, a blend of Anberlin and Charlie Hall. Each song on this album is poetically crafted and honestly expressed. I have to say my two favorite songs are, “Your Name Says It All”, a song that invites us to remember and embrace once again the goodness and the splendor of who Jesus is in us and all around us. My other favorite song is “Remain” which helps us see the beautiful dance between our broken humanity and God’s desire to embrace us with his unconditional love, mercy, and grace. After listening to the entire album, I walked away uplifted, challenged, and filled with hope.
Also, this album contains more than just great music; it provides a fresh perspective on Christianity, the character of God, while encouraging us towards an authentic relationship with Jesus. It proclaims the good news of love, mercy and hope to all and is filled with powerful truth that has the power to set captives free and comfort the broken hearted.
So, if you haven't yet, I want to encourage you to purchase a copy of “Songs From The Sky” and help support this incredible music ministry of Brandon Bee. And if your church is all about partnering with and showing support to ministries that truly are making a difference for kingdom of God here in the Northwest, I can attest that Brandon is one of those individuals and ministries that is doing just that.
Learn more about Brandon Bee and the life of this ministry below.
"Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29 NIV)
Every other month, I do my best to schedule myself a visit to the message therapist. I remember during my last visit thinking to myself, how I was about to treat my body to something good and delightful that morning. Yes, there was dim lighting; Yes, there was a soft message therapy table; Yes, there was soothing rain forest music playing in the background. The room had everything that one needed to help one get into a relaxed state of mind. Lastly, yes, there was a professional and certified message therapist who's number one mission was to help bring relief to my body. But let me be very clear here, my experience during this last session was everything but good and delightful. It was probably the most painful one I had experienced yet. My friends, knots and tension are NO JOKE. They Suck! At one moment I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs and say, I Give Up!...Uncle!,...Fine! I'll give up the information just tell me what you want. You see, knots, or muscles adhesions as they are commonly referred to, come in the size of pin heads or the size of your thumb which can be found in our bodies like our back, our neck, our shoulders, our arms, and legs. They are typically the results of overworked and improperly recovered muscles, but they can also be symptoms of stress or dehydration. When these symptoms are not addressed, they can cause tightness and stiffness throughout our body ultimately effecting our physical posture and well being making it difficult to go about our daily activities. The following are daily practices that can help us avoid these kinds of situations, like staying hydrated, stretching, using foam rollers, exercising, resting or in my case scheduling a one-on-one visit to see the message therapist.
Throughout this painful session experience, I couldn't help but think about this kind of tension and knots we at times can experience in our own spiritual lives. Sometimes we can carry it in our hearts. Sometimes we can carry it in our minds. Sometimes we can carry it in our soul. When we ignore these symptoms and choose to not acknowledge them, we then open ourselves up to experience more stress, more fear, more anger, more worry, more sin, more shame, more despair, and more hopelessness. These things are not what Jesus desires for us today. You see, when we make it our priority to address the spiritual symptoms in our lives, we are not only saying yes to God's invitation to come as we are. We are also giving God permission to meet with us in the real places of our lives and to care for us there (Tweet This). And as we practice this way of life, we open ourselves up to His love, His peace, His joy, His forgivness, His mercy, His grace, His freedom, His healing, His hope and victory. Who better to model this truth for us, than Jesus himself. Throughout Scripture we see Him making time to be alone with his heavenly Father. "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." (Luke 5:16 NIV) Jesus knew that His source of love, strength, selflessness, peace, joy, hope, power, focus, patience, and confidence was found in no other, but in God alone.
There will be times when one-on-one sessions with God won't always be about feeling good and relaxed, sometimes, it's about going through the grind and dealing with your stuff head on (Tweet This). Trust me, I may have went into this message session with an attitude that sang, "Let me hear joy and gladness", but instead, I was screaming "Let the bones you have crushed rejoice". As I endured this session, I knew the message therapist was not putting me through this pain and agony to hurt me, but to help me find the relief and healing my body needed. The following are daily practices that can help us experience God's care and rest for our heart, mind, and soul: Prayer, Scripture, Confession, and Community.
If you have spiritual symptoms that need addressing, let me encourage you to schedule a one-on-one session with God today. Now in order to do this, we need to set some time aside throughout the day or the week. This will also require us to disconnect from our phones and remove ourselves from all distractions. Jesus says, "Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace" (Matthew 6:6 Msg.) As we find ourselves alone with God, He draws near to you and makes the invitation "Come To Me",
My hope and prayer is that you were blessed and encouraged by this blog.
"We speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts." - 1 Thessalonians 2:4
Whether you were at church, at home or while driving to somewhere, can you remember a time when you listened to a song and said to yourself, wow, this is a powerful song and it is really speaking to me in a powerful and meaningful way? The song was probably so impactful that it continued replaying in your mind and in your heart throughout that day or maybe throughout the entire week. You could hear yourself singing or humming that memorable hook line throughout the day. Has that ever happened to you? It happens to me a lot. Why was this song so powerful and moving for me? What kind of effect did the words of this song have on my life? And how did it impact the way I saw and approached my life situation? Was I ever the same after hearing that song? My friends, songs are powerful and filled with purpose for our everyday lives. Just reading (Isaiah 61:1) is a wonderful reminder of this truth, that each song you select is not only anointed, but has power and purpose behind it. Power to bind up the broken hearted and proclaim freedom to the captives.
As worship leaders, why are the songs we select so important? Let me first begin by saying, we do not select songs just because they sound cool. We do not select songs just because they are popular on iTunes. We do not select songs just because that one popular church wrote it. The selection of our songs serve a much deeper and greater purpose and here is why it matters. Songs are powerful. Songs are inspirational. Songs are filled with powerful truth that moves us emotionally and spiritually. Songs have the power to shape hearts, minds, culture, and our congregations vision and theology of God. Songs help usher people into an awareness of God’s presence. And songs give us a clearer revelation of who Jesus is and who He is in us as believers. I remember hearing once, that “our song selection isn’t so much about hearing them, as it is experiencing them”. I so agree with this statement, but imagine with me for a moment, what if we turn it around here, what if our song selection wasn’t so much about experiencing them, but were more about just hearing them. What if we just picked random songs with no intention or heart behind it. Songs would just be meaningless and empty noise with no expectation for these songs to speak to our hearts, our minds, and over our life situations. What kind of experience would that be for us and our congregation? I think it would be a very empty, boring, pretty silly, and meaningless experience? Read the following scripture to see how God has reacted in the past to this type of meaningless noise Amos 5:21-23. God’s Word reminds us, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what is says” (James 1:22). When we come together to give God praise and worship, we come believing that we will meet with our creator, our God, our Father, our Savior, and our King and never again be the same after such an encounter.
A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we talk about God
is the most important thing about us.”
Every week, people from all walks of life come through our church doors with real situations, real needs, real brokenness, and real tragedies. Real people waiting to hear from God. Real people longing for God to move in supernatural ways. Real people seeking and desiring real change. Real people longing to experience the God’s unconditional love, mercy and grace. Real people hoping to experience something real and powerful during our time together in worship. I know this to be true, because when I come to church, whether when I’m serving on the platform or sitting among the congregation, I too come with a longing to meet and hear from my Father, hoping that he too would speak into the areas of my life as a believer and follower of Christ (read Psalms 33:20-22 & Luke 4:18-19). This is why our role as worship leaders is so crucial and important. It is God putting all that is precious to Him into our hands and saying to you and I, I am entrusting you with this. It is a time when we as the body of Christ can come together to declare who God is. To remember what God has accomplished. To see and hear what God is saying and doing among us. And to put our faith once again in a God who is faithful, who is for us, and who is still very much with us. Yes, it’s exciting to prepare another setlist and maybe even introduce a new song to our team and to our congregation, but more importantly, you and I have been entrusted by God with His gospel message and with His people. So whether leading worship at a Wednesday small group setting or leading worship at a Sunday corporate church setting, you and I have the honor of re-telling the story of God to His people. You and I have the honor of preparing a place where our congregation can engage a real God who so desires to meet with us in the real places of our lives.
“If we were to build a theology only based on the songs you sing at church, what kind of God would that be? What kind of God would be described by the lyrics of your setlist this weekend? Think about those things.” - Glenn Packiam.
Our songs may have great melodic hooks and memorable lyrical lines, yes, those things are important as well, but let us not forget that our songs also have a message that has the power to cause real change in the hearts of real people. A message so powerful, that it is “living and active and sharper than any two-edge sword. Penetrating even dividing the soul and spirit; joints and marrow; and judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrew 4:12).
Whether they are the songs we sing at our church; Whether they are the songs we sing in our quite time in prayer; Whether they are the songs we sing on the battlefield; And whether they are the songs we sing during tragedy or during dark seasons in our lives...Songs are not only a gift from God, but songs can be a powerful way for us to invite Him into the real stories of our lives. And it is in those moments, we can be reminded once again, that he is still our God, he is still our Savior, and he still our King who has never left us nor forsaken us. A God who loves us unconditionally. A Savior who is fully present in it all. And a King who leads us into victory on the battlefields. This is the song I will sing and this is the song that will live in me. These are the songs that sing over us and these are the songs that will transform us from glory to glory, Amen, Amen, and Amen! (read 2 Corinthians 3:18)
Biblical examples of the power and purpose of a song: 2 Chronicles 20:17-22; Joshua 6:20; 1 Samuel 16:23; Acts 16:25-34
Some thoughts to take into consideration when selecting songs for your next setlist.
May the Lord bless you and keep you Worship Leader.