Into the Night

I have always admired the cello playing of Sharon Gerber. I just heard about her new album Into the Night and this video in which Sharon shares about the personal tragedy that drove her to the Psalms with cello in hand. The 2nd half of the video is a beautiful excerpt from one of the tracks!

“This album is all about clinging to hope and light through times of darkness. I wrote and arranged the music to minister to my own heart during some especially dark times over the past few years. There have been many times when I didn’t have words or my mind was just a jumbled mess. But music has given me a way to communicate with God on a deeper level while preaching truth to myself in a way that I can remember. Preaching truth to myself has been and continues to be key. God’s truth is our only hope and light when we get overwhelmed by the darkness of our circumstances or feelings. It is so important to cling to what we know rather than what we feel!”

This quote is part of an interview with Sharon by Andy Nasseli. Read more.

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An Interview with Frontline’s Tim Keesee

dispatches-header

Several years ago, my church showed a DVD on a Sunday night called Dispatches from the Front. I was stunned. Moved. Awakened. It was not the typical “missionary video” I was expecting. That happened to be the first episode: Islands on the Edge. Since then, I’ve seen most of the episodes. They’re all good. Really good. You need to watch them.

I love seeing creative media used to point people to Christ and move them toward godliness. That’s why I love these films. They’re not ostentatious. They’re well crafted. They have soul-enriching value.

The films follow Tim Keesee as he journeys to “the world’s difficult places.” The skillful camera work and rich script (Tim’s vivid journal entries) take you right along with him as he traces the gospel’s advance and meets its unsung heroes.

Earlier this summer, Tim took the time to answer a few interview questions:

PK: Briefly, for those who don’t know you or Frontline Missions International, what is Frontline, it’s purpose, and your part in all of it?

TK: My first foray into missions was years ago when I worked on behalf of persecuted Christians behind the Iron Curtain by organizing letter-writing campaigns for Christian prisoners and raising funds to smuggle Bibles into the Soviet Union.  After the Berlin Wall came down, I was in Eastern Europe with pastors—teaching and learning from them. It was there that I first saw the power of Gospel partnerships. In the early years, our work centered in the former Iron Curtain countries. However, the walls came down and new Macedonian calls were heard in Siberian Russia, central Asia, India, China, and the Middle East. The mission answered these calls and changed its name in 2002 to Frontline Missions International in order to underscore our wider sphere of ministry. You can find out more at www.frontlinemissions.info.

How did the Dispatches series come about? (What’s the story behind it?)

 

How many films have you made, and what is your latest project? 

We have completed 6 episodes of Dispatches from the Front, and the 7th is coming out in July 2014. The new episode, “Day of Battle” is set in North Africa. Here are all the episodes:

Episode 1: Islands on the Edge
Episode 2: A Bold Advance
Episode 3: I Once was Blind
Episode 4: Souls of the Brave
Episode 5: Father, Give Me Bread
Episode 6: The Power of His Rising
Episode 7: Day of Battle (coming in July 2014)

I am very interested in the creative use of media for the sake of the gospel and discipleship. What have been some of the effects (perhaps unexpected) of these films, for yourself, the Frontline team, and others?

God has become so much bigger in my view. Seeing the power of the Gospel at work in so many diverse cultural contexts and seeing the unity and diversity of the Church has been a personal revolution for me. I thank God that He is using these as a Gospel tool to impact the life and vision of His people. We hear from people all the time across America and from other parts of the world who have been deeply impacted by these stories. The reason for the impact is because we are simply telling what God is doing, and people are moved, strengthened, and motivated as they see God at work in the world.

One of the things that first struck me about the Dispatches films was how well-produced they are. The films are modern and compelling in their look, sound, and communication. Do you have any say in the artistic direction of the films (the look, graphics, music, etc.)? Is there any articulated strategy in your (team’s) choices?

While I am involved in the artistic direction of the film, this project would not be possible without Pete Hansen’s extraordinary skill as a videographer. But it’s much more than technical skill—Pete is able to let the story be heard and seen more than his techniques. He is also a very good traveler and has become accustomed to shooting in all kinds of situation—sometimes very complicated ones!

As far as a strategy, I am not sure if this is a strategy, but we made the decision at the outset that these videos would not be used overtly for fund-raising nor promoting any particular organization. The only reason Frontline’s name is on it is because we produce these films, and obviously people need to know where they come from. But we aren’t about using these as glorified “info-mericals.” I believe the Gospel at work and advancing in “every tribe and language and people and nation” is the greatest story in the world. It doesn’t have to be enhanced or over-produced.

Is there a lesson here for Christians to use media in a creative and compelling way? 

Different films will have different purposes and will, therefore use different creative techniques. For our series, we want to show life as it unfolds—giving people a “street-level” or “jungle-path” view of life on the Gospel front lines. So our films do not always have tidy conclusions, because that isn’t usually the way life is either.

Who is your creative team on the films? 

We are a pretty small operation: myself, Pete Hansen, and Brannon McAllister (who works with us on the package design).

You’ve traveled widely and been a part of many Christian gatherings in cultures around the world. How has your perspective been shaped in regard to corporate worship and the use of music in corporate gatherings? Do you have any insights for our gatherings here in the states? 

I have been blessed to see the variety of musical expressions of worship in many different cultures. Music is a very important cultural connector. It’s like language, dress, and customs—one of the important ways we create community. And that’s true whether the community is around the world or around the corner. So it’s beautiful to see this diversity in worship—and yet unity in Who is worshipped and magnified. It is a foretaste of Revelation 5, when people from “every tribe and language and people and nation” will praise Christ, their Redeemer, the Lamb who is worthy!

When can we expect the latest Dispatches film to be released?

The release date is July 20, 2014. It is titled “Day of Battle” and is set in North Africa.

 

I understand you’re working on a new book with Crossway as well. Can you tell us about it?

The book, Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World’s Difficult Places was released at the end of May 2014. It is my journal entries drawn from 8 regions of the world (about 20 countries). Once again, it tells of our great God’s unstoppable Gospel! You can read reviews of it here and here.

The Book of Revelation

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I finally had the chance to read (“view”) through The Book of Revelation graphic novel. I found it stunning. And I thought it was worth recommending.

I first learned about this project back when it was Revelation App (before I had any apps, or even a smartphone) through Doug Young who was the model for John and helped Chris Koelle (the illustrator) with much of the shot planning and model photography. I was really impressed with what I saw, but through Doug, I got an appreciation for the exhausting work that went into this project.

I’ve always admired Chris Koelle’s artwork. And though any art can point to The Artist, I have been particularly blessed by his overtly biblical projects such as JOB, The History of Redemption, and now The Book of Revelation.

Christian artists have a unique opportunity to use their media to spread a passion for God’s glory. Chris’s work (and all involved in this project) has inspired me to give glory to God with a fresh glimpse into this amazing, mysterious, and worship-filled book of the Bible.

Here are a few resources to help you experience The Book of Revelation:

Please Note: As several reviewers point out, this is not a “comic book” meant for children. You would do well to exercise discretion before sharing this resource with children or teenagers. I would call it “tastefully graphic,” but it is graphic nonetheless.

A Christmas Carol: A New Musical

Carol-CD-bannerIn 2010, I wrote original music and lyrics for a new musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It debuted to rave local reviews by those who were fortunate enough to get tickets (which sold out within 90 minutes).

Well, if you missed the show or haven’t yet heard the recording, today is your lucky day! The original cast recording of A Christmas Carol: A New Musical is now available for digital download by clicking on this link.

You can preview the entire recording and purchase favorite tracks individually. Or, even better, purchase the entire album for a great low price!

Some fan favorites you’ll want to preview include: If Anyone Knows How to Keep Christmas, I Love the You I Used to Know, and God Bless Us, Every One.

It’s not too late. Get yours before the clock strikes One!

Media Revival

In a recent post, I shared how artists can have a unique impact on spreading the fires of spiritual revival. Here are two examples that have recently blessed me:

Visual Theology

If you are a visual learner like me, you might really benefit spiritually from some of these “theological infographics.” They were commissioned by Tim Challies and are available here, at his website. These are brilliant pieces of design and could at potentially be wonderful graphic aids in Bible study and understanding. I’ve posted one of them below: it’s a graph of the books of the Bible designed to look like the periodic table of elements! You’ll want to see all twelve of them on Tim’s site.

Video Devotional on Glory

I’ve read many of John Piper’s books. I’ve heard lots of his sermons. But these five brief heart-to-heart video devotionals are as powerful and effective as anything that I’ve experienced from his ministry. Share them with Christian friends and spread a passion for God’s glory. Share them with unsaved friends and start a conversation about the meaning of God’s glory. Pastor Piper is very kind and clear in His explanations. These would make a great gospel introduction. For links to all five videos, click here. Below, I’ve embedded the 2nd video which offers what I think is the clearest, most succinct definition of sin I’ve ever heard. If sin is not related to God’s glory, it loses its weight of seriousness.

New Hymns from Friends!

I wanted to pass along these new hymn offerings from some very talented friends of mine. I hope you can make use of them for your personal worship and congregational song times.

Keep Heart

This is a brand new hymn by Dustin Battles and Dan Kreider. Dustin’s text draws from several Scripture passages and aims at encouraging Christians who are going through trials of all kinds. Dan’s music is very fitting–complementing the text with a tender, modern strophic style. You can take a look and listen on Dan’s website.

Secured by Sovereign Love

My friends at ChurchWorksMedia just released this new hymn (or Psalm, rather) by Veteran composer and arranger Faye Lopez. It’s an adaptation of an Isaac Watts text on Psalm 139. You can take a look and listen at Chris Anderson’s website.

Hosanna to the King

This hymn is a result of the collaborative efforts of Chris Anderson and Rick Nichols. Rick adapted a tune by Alexander Reinagle for a majestic new octavo and asked Chris to write words that would fit the tune. Take a look at the hymn version and listen to Rick’s octavo arrangement here.

Morning Stars

When we were editing the Watchsong film, Shane McMullin showed me a compilation video of stunning time-lapse photography shot by Christian Mülhauser in Madeira. “It would be cool if we could get something like this for your video,” says Shane. “You might try just asking if you could use it…it’s worth a shot.” To my great surprise and delight, Christian responded to my request and graciously let us use some footage for the video. Madeira is absolutely breathtaking and wonderfully complimented by the score from Jonathan Greer. To see more of Christian’s film work, check out his website. And enjoy the film below!

New Chris Anderson Hymn “Come, Lonely Heart”

I am very pleased to recommend a new hymn to my readers. Come, Lonely Heart (text by Chris Anderson and music by Greg Habegger) is a wonderful poetic exposition of John 4, where Jesus saves the woman at the well. You will be blessed by Chris’s doctrinal notes about the song. I was moved by his humble admission, “I am a Samaritan woman.” This text helps me experience the account through her eyes and glory in Christ’s compassion toward me! After all…”I am the Samaritan woman.” Here is the song text:

Come, lonely heart, to the outsider’s Friend—
To Jesus, Who seeks out the lost.
Your cruel seclusion has come to an end;
Find welcome, find home, at the cross.
No soul is too small for His mercy;
No sin is too great for His grace!
Come, lonely heart, to the outsider’s Friend;
Find welcome, find home, at the Cross.

Drink, thirsty heart, of the water of life—
Of bountiful, soul-quenching grace.
The world’s broken cisterns cannot satisfy;
The Savior is what your heart craves.
No soul is too small for His mercy;
No sin is too great for His grace!
Drink, thirsty heart, of the water of life;
The Savior is what your heart craves.

Rest, guilty heart, in forgiveness of sin—
In pardon from shame-stirring vice.
Though Satan and sinners and conscience condemn,
Your soul may be spotless as Christ.
No soul is too small for His mercy;
No sin is too great for His grace!
Rest, guilty heart, in forgiveness of sin;
Your soul may be spotless as Christ.

Joy, grateful heart, in the hope you have found—
In God, Who is seeking your praise.
Then go to the outcast, that grace may resound,
For Jesus is mighty to save.
No soul is too small for His mercy;
No sin is too great for His grace!
Joy, grateful heart, in the hope you have found,
For Jesus is mighty to save.

As a song/hymn-writer, I really appreciate Chris’s text on several levels (which I will share later). Thanks, Chris (and Greg) for your ministry to me and to the church for the glory of God!

Click here for downloadable resources on their website.

Exalt CD for Utah church plant

My friend Jonathan Jarrett has just produced a worship album that I think you should buy for several reasons:

1. Buying the CD will donate to help him as part of a church planting team in Salt Lake City, Utah! Read more here.

2. It’s a great album! Jonathan’s artistry on the keys is brilliant and so is Brad Joiner on guitar. These fresh arrangements accompany congregational-style group vocals on most of the songs that will have you singing along. In fact, you can hear it for yourself here!

3. I had a small part in helping on this CD! Actually, that’s the worst reason to buy it…but if even one person buys it for that reason, I’ll be grateful for that small part I had in helping Jonathan!

As a composer and music-tech-dabbler, I love the fact that much of the album was recorded and mixed “in house” using Logic Pro. I added strings to a few of the songs using what I believe is the best instrument sampler for strings on the market, Vienna Symphonic Library. Listen for the solo cello in the last two tracks on the album (“Wonderful, Merciful Savior” and “How Sweet and Awesome is the Place”). Not a real cello. Ha! Fooled you! Well, some of you might have been able to tell that it wasn’t a real cello, but I think it’s pretty close for a sample instrument! And that gets a nerd like me excited!

So, anyway…buy it! Donate! Enjoy, and be blessed!

WorshipGod09

Recently, I attended a music/worship conference in Gaithersburg, MD. I spent a week with some of the most humble, gospel-centered people I have ever met, and I left supercharged about my God who is worthy of all my worship, about the power and centrality of the gospel in life and worship, and about the beauty of what God is doing in his church…in my local body!

Click here for a link to all the sessions. The main session messages especially are worth hearing, even if you’re not a musician. May they encourage your hearts to worship as they have encouraged me!