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.

“Wand’ring Pilgrim” Music Video

Mitch Silvius (Silvius Motion Pictures) did a fantastic job creating this music video for our new song “Wand’ring Pilgrim!”

Mitch was also the Director of Photography for the soon-to-be-released documentary “The Life of David Brainerd” (available now for preorder).

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.

A Year In Review…Lord Willing!

The Pre-Post

So, I started off yesterday with the goal of sending out a timely “year in review” post, and I finished off yesterday with the disappointment of not sending out a timely “year in review” post. Somewhere in between, the Lord had to deal with my idolatrous heart.

You see, I tend to look at people or companies that seem to be very productive and successful, and desperately want that for myself—so desperately, that I would sacrifice my relationships with God and others on the altar of productivity. That’s idolatry. And that’s what God in His mercy showed me yesterday when I didn’t get this post finished.

A few months ago, on New Year’s Eve, my wife and I were up north skiing as part of our anniversary weekend when she broke her wrist. Not only did this put a damper on some of our plans, but with the soreness of her fresh injury, I had to do just about everything for her. I was utterly shocked at the ugly rebellion and selfishness that rose up in me that first day or two. But as the Spirit helped me to submit my plans and desires to God’s, a real joy settled in. And even though January was one of my least productive months ever for some of my personal goals, it was one of the happiest in recent memory.

Now that my wife’s wrist is all healed up, it appears the cries of my old “productivity idol” are getting stronger again. But my productivity belongs to God, and He has the right to make any interruptions in my life that He wants to. My wife reminded me of something Jim Binney once said when he realized something about all the people that would interrupt his plans in the ministry: “These interruptions are my ministry!” God breaks in through various means to remind us that He and other people are more important than things or goals.

The Post

A year ago [yesterday], Watchsong.com was relaunched with a new facelift and some grand goals! While I am slightly disappointed that I didn’t reach several (okay…frankly, most) of those grand goals, I am thankful to the Lord (now, considering the Pre-Post) for what He allowed me and my friends and fellow-creatives to accomplish.

Added several new songs to the site

This, after all, is the purpose of Watchsong: to share with God’s people the songs that God gives to us. I am grateful for the wonderful people with whom I’ve been able to collaborate, and I’m just as pleased to share some great songs that others have written.

Started Watchsong Blog

You’re looking at it. Thanks for stopping by! As the Lord allows, we’ll bring you interesting, relevant, or just plain fun content. Consider signing up by email or RSS feed!

Made a movie

This short film was originally a creative way to state Watchsong’s mission, but I’ve heard many stories about how this has helped people in their thinking about music, worship, and creating new things for God’s glory. The Lord had bigger plans for it, and I couldn’t be more pleased! It also kind of helped me get a job…but that’s a story for another post…. I’m so grateful to Shane McMullin for making this happen. He has recently experienced some much-deserved recognition for his work!

Made more friends

Thanks again to those who have joined Watchsong’s Facebook page! “Like” us there, and stay informed about everything new at Watchsong. You can also follow us on Twitter. Just look for our handle: @WatchsongMusic.

The Post-Post

So, what will this year bring? Well, I have some goals (several recorded songs, several new choral octavos, several new hymns, to name a few), but I’m going to let God interrupt those if He wants to. May His name be praised and His will be done!

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’–yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance” (James 4:13-16). “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

The Book of Revelation

book-of-revelation

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.

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.

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!

What Is Watchsong? [Video]

Why should Christian artists and musicians continue to create new content? What motivates them to create? Why do Christians need new music? Why do you need Watchsong?

I wanted to find a creative way to share the vision and mission of my website, Watchsong.com, as well as encourage Christian artists that they are vitally important. That’s where this short film comes in.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some more in-depth commentary about the film and some of the themes it presents. But first, I need to give credit to several people who made this film possible.

The “MVP award” goes to my friend Shane McMullin at NINTH HOUR Productions for bringing this project to life with such amazing skill and creativity and for the hours and hours he spent shooting, cutting, and editing this film. He also had to put up with me and all the crazy ideas I had, most of which he magically made happen.

Special thanks to: Christian Mülhauser (chrigu.org), who graciously let me use a few short clips from his stunning film Madeira; Doug Young (dougyoungstudios.com), my good friend, who let us shoot in his very unique studio space; and Fred Coleman, my pastor, mentor, and friend, who helped me think through the historical data and has always encouraged me in my writing.

Thanks also to: my friends, James Harris, Brian Pinner, Chris Barney, and Ben Fetterolf, who proofread my script and were very encouraging in this project; Ken Beale, who lent us his skill and expertise for an entire day in the mid-July heat working cameras and lighting for a Snickers bar and a verbal IOU; and my wife Heather, who also braved the heat to assist us and made sure you couldn’t tell how hot it was when you watch the film.

The end credits song is A Broken Vessel from Watchsong Music. You can find a lead sheet, lyrics, and an mp3 demo on the Music page. A full recording will be available soon on Watchsong.com.

New Intro Video Coming Soon!

I am very excited to announce a new video project that will soon be released on Watchsong.com entitled “When God Works, People Sing.” It really encapsulates the whole reason and vision for Watchsong and other similar creative endeavors. As the release approaches, I will be posting snatches of the script highlighting some of the different themes that will be touched on in the video.

I am especially grateful for the high quality production work of my friend Shane McMullin at Ninth Hour Productions. Here are just a few behind the scenes photos and stills of the stylized interview footage from the video. We were thrilled to be able to shoot at Doug Young Studios in Taylors, SC!