Thursday, October 14, 2010


     I have two initial thoughts after listening to the NEWSBOYS latest full length project with new lead singer Michael Tait, BORN AGAIN (2010, Inpop).  First of all, this sounds neither like a NEWSBOYS record, or a TAIT project.  It sounds like a fresh new band for the most part.  Secondly, the album strikes me as being one of the most blatantly Christian albums lyrically I have heard in the Christian market lately.  It is a textbook of sorts for the Christian lifestyle.
     BORN AGAIN leads off with the title track, which is a good rock number that describes what the process leading up to conversion can be like: "I found myself looking into the mirror/Knew I wasn't who I wanted to be/Was living life the way I wanted/But my eyes reminded I'm not free."  'Escape' is another rocker, this time about fighting temptation.  It encourages believers with these words: "Press toward the Light/And the Light will ground you/Go with the flow/And the flow will drown you" and "Don't believe the hype/It's such a letdown."
     'One Shot' and 'When the Boys Light Up' are about sharing one's faith in Christ.  The latter song also addresses those who thought the band was done when lead singer Peter Furler retired from the road: "All the doubters-I heard 'em say/Now the band's gonna fade away/But the boys are back for a second act." And that they are!
     'Way Beyond Myself' has a contemporary, techno feel to it, and features female vocals by Chanel Campbell.  'Impossible' feels like a R&B song, and lyrically will be appreciated by possibility thinkers with a Christian bent.  'Running to You' and 'On your Knees' are both melodic numbers about prodigals returning home to God the Father.
     'Mighty to Save' is a great cover song for this band, which emphasizes the Good News and shining it brightly: "Saviour, He can move the mountains/My God is mighty to save/He is mighty to save/Forever, author of salvation/He rose and conquered the grave/Jesus conquered the grave."  The cd closes with a good cover of dc talks's 1995 hit 'Jesus Freak', with rapping duties handled by KJ52.
     Not only is BORN AGAIN a good pop/rock album, more importantly it encourages youth to give themselves wholeheartedly to Jesus. And this could start a spiritual revolution!
     I'm giving this one an 87%.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


     THE OCEAN is Bebo Norman's seventh studio project.  It was released September 28, 2010 on BEC Recordings.  It opens with a nice pop song, 'Everything I Hoped You'd Be', which expresses a desire for an intimate relationship with God: "Take me to the river/Lead me to the healer/Let it wash me over, oh my soul." 'God of my Everything', of which there are two versions on the album, one being more radio friendly, similarly petitions God: "Oh God of Heaven, come and hem me in/Gather the pieces that are broken/Show me the wonder of You again/Oh God of Heaven."
     'Could you ever look at Me' finds his voice sounding ragged.  It is a ballad about how God is the center of his wife's world, and not him: "I hope you never look at me the way you're looking at the ocean/Cause in the sunrise I have seen I was never meant to be/The light of your world." 'The Middle' is a ballad about relational struggle that I could see Michael Roe doing.
     Two inspirational tracks at the end of the album are noteworthy.  'I hope you see Jesus' is co-written and sung with Laura Story.  Norman's vocals are appropriately shaky on this one: "Instead of anger, instead of unbelief/Instead of weakness in the heart of me/Instead of a wounded soul that sometimes loses faith/I hope you see Jesus." Do I hear an "Amen" from the congregation?  'Remember Us' is a song of surrender to God: "When the light of day is gone/And our suffering is long/We lift up our needful song/To the Maker of all."
     OCEAN is produced by Bebo Norman and Jason Ingram.  Ingram co-writes and performs on the album as well.  I recommend this one to fans of light pop artists such as Sara Groves.  I'm giving it an 80%.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


     I just finished reading HOW TO BE BORN AGAIN by respected evangelist Billy Graham. The book was published in 1977 by Word Books.  That's right, thirty-three years ago!  Of the new birth, Graham writes: "Some have thought of the new birth as a single event in time, while others use the term to speak of all God wills to do in our lives.  Ultimately, there is a mystery about the new birth; we cannot understand everything about it, for our minds are finite." I found this to be an interesting quote. Graham points out that humans try to fill the void in their lives and souls with many things including fame, alcohol, eastern religions, and academics.  Of intellectuals, he writes: "They would like to save themselves, because pride nourishes self-esteem, making us believe we can manage ourselves without God." What a grave error this is! Graham believes that we should not reject the Gospel just because we don't fully understand it. There is much in life we accept but don't fully grasp. He writes: "If the human mind could fully prove God, He would be no greater than the mind that proves Him."
     Graham tackles the question of the eternal destiny of those who have never heard of Christ: "I am convinced that when a man sincerely searches for God with all his heart, God will reveal Himself in some way.  A person, a bible, or some experience with believers will be used by God to reach the one who seeks." This answer will not satisy everyone, but I think it is pretty decent.  Graham believes there are false religions who will use Christian terms such as 'messiah' and 'salvation', so we have to be on the lookout.  He believes, as do I, that there is only one way to heaven: "Nothing could be more grossly wrong than the old cliche that 'any religion will do, as long as you're sincere'." He reminds us that Abel brought God a blood sacrifice that pleased Him, while Cain did not.
     Sin is what separates us from God. It is 'living for self'.  He writes: "Sin is like cancer.  It destroys step by step. Slowly, without our realizing its insidious onslaught, it progresses until finally the diagnosis is pronounced; sick to death."  There is hope though.  God sent His innocent and pure, only Son, Jesus, who was fully God and fully man at the same time, to redeem us.  Graham proclaims: "The only human hope for peace lies at the cross of Christ, where all men, no matter what their background of nationality or race, can become a new brotherhood." The resurrection of Christ is key to the Christian faith. If Jesus did not rise up after three days, then our faith is worth nothing, and is 'folly'.  If we believe in this tremendous event there is much to be gained: "If you trust the resurrected Christ as your Lord and Savior, He will be with you when you die, and will give you life with Him forever."
     In order to come to Christ, we must repent of our sins and change our lifestyle.  Johnny Cash is an example of someone who did this. Only God can help us do this.  (Anyone who is a Christian knows this is a lifelong process in many ways in my opinion).  When we become a Christian, we are forgiven of our sins, past, present, and future.  We are adopted by God, and filled with His Spirit.
     To conclude the book, Graham prescribes three things to help a new Christian grow in their faith. These three things are spiritual food if you will. They are Scripture reading (the Bible), prayer, and Christian fellowship (church, small prayer groups, etc).
     Having been a Christian since 1986, I found HOW TO BE BORN AGAIN, to be a good refresher on the basics of the Christian faith.  It was also a good reminder of how salvation works and what follows.