Monday, 29 August 2011

My Testimony

I've been clearing out my ipod to get rid of tracks I don't want playing in shuffle mode and came across some tracks I wrote and recorded a few years ago. This is not something I do any more; partly because I realised I probably wasn't very good at it, partly because I don't have time any more and partly because I am so impatient with the recording process.

Anyway, this one song I'd like to share on here (not the audio, mind you) is basically my testimony. As far as I can tell from the Word file, this was written/finished on 25th February 2007. There was a first verse but I don't feel it added much to my testimony:

About ten years ago a voice spoke in my ears,
A voice that before had been greeted by sneers,
had been treated to jeers, but this time I heard it,
My mind was quite settled but the voice disturbed it,
It said that I was a sinner, and was headed to Hades,
The voice erased dreams of peacefully pushing daisies,
That was it, a tender nerve hit, I couldn’t swerve it,
Knew I needed pardon, but how? I didn’t deserve it,
But the voice that convinced me had not yet finished,
by now opposition in my head was diminished,
Cos the train of thought in my one track mind,
Was on the turntable halfway down the incline,
And the voice was speaking ‘I am the way,
Sins committed, now admitted, follow me today’,
So I turned my life around and started to climb,
I knew I had to have it, this gift was too precious to decline.

I gotta give praise to my almighty saviour, Cause I know that He’s working in my life,
Seems like only yesterday that I found out that the only one that I needed was Christ,
Convinced of my sin, I had to let Him in, I knew there was no other choice,
And now I’m living in His light, He’s forgiven my lies and I only listen to His voice.

And since that day He’s stayed by my side,
And although I've strayed, He’s able to provide,
My faith has waxed and waned and it’s died,
But He’s never wavered and my faith’s been revived,
Even in the times when I’ve favoured my pride,
And I’ve tried to hide, the relationship survived,
I came crawling back; He had arms open wide,
And all too often I act so surprised,
He reminds me of His grace, reopens my eyes,
Memories erased of all my brokenness and lies,
He loves me, my failings and hopelessness aside,
Mercy immerses me, sins washed in the tide,
A few years after that first day I got baptised,
A sign to the world that I now despised,
All that was below the ways of Christ,
The day I heard His voice: the most defining of my life.

I now understand more about baptism and believe that there is more to it than it being "a sign to the world". I also would now advocate repenting and being baptised going hand in hand - they should both happen at a similar time, it shouldn't be a few years apart!

I'm not saying that I'm an excellent lyricist by posting this, I just thought it appropriate to share my testimony!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

'Do You Only Listen To Christian Hip Hop?'

My wife asked me today, as we were travelling in the car listening to Deepspace 5's 'Unique, Just Like Everyone Else', if I only listened to Christian Hip Hop now. It made me realise that actually, I do. She asked me if that was a concious decision and I answered that, yes, it mostly was.

Previous to writing this blog I started and built up another music blog about UK Hip Hop. It went on to be the biggest and most well known blog on the subject. I built up good relationships with PR people and artists themselves, but doing it almost took over my life. I felt the need to cover everything, and be the first to do so. I also put myself in a position where I felt obliged to say positive things about most releases I was sent (I had CDs in the post almost every day) although I did give short shrift to some releases that were so against my beliefs as a Christian. All the time I ran it I didn't have other contributors, mainly because I didn't want to compromise on the standard of writing or on the viewpoint from which the blog was written (my own viewpoint). I finally made the decision (partly influenced by the imminent arrival of our first child and the increasing lack of time to spend listening and writing) to hand the blog over - which I did very quickly once the decision was made. Once this had happened I almost stopped listening to Hip Hop and started picking up on other genres that I had neglected over the years - I nearly went cold turkey on Hip Hop (the fact that there was so much rubbish rap being released helped).

The other main factor that acted as a catalyst to this change was my continuing maturity as a Christian. I felt I couldn't go on supporting and championing music that came from such a different viewpoint to my own Christian stance. I also felt that letting it saturate my life so much couldn't be helpful for my own spiritual state. I realised that it could be replaced by something a bit more beneficial and began to return to some of the old Christian Hip Hop CDs I had (as a teenager I had a purge on secular Hip Hop, giving away albums such as Eminem's 'Slim Shady LP' and Dr. Dre's '2001' and replacing them with albums by John Reuben and Peace 586 amongst others). I knew that filling my life with things that pointed me towards God (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) would help to shape my life as a believer - and Christian Hip Hop was one way of doing that.

So now, whilst there are still secular tracks I like and will listen to, I am mainly listening to Christian Hip Hop. Hopefully it will provide me with decent music I can play whilst my children are around which at the same time challenges me and turns my thoughts towards God. I am not relying on it solely to minister to me but hope that it can be a part of a life which worships and enjoys God in everything I do.

For my latest review at Sphere Of Hip Hop, click here.

Edit: I am not saying this is what everyone should do, or that I will never listen to secular Hip Hop again, just at this moment in my life this is where I'm at!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

'Rehab: The Overdose' - Lecrae (review)

Again, despite the fact that I'm not really a fan of the dirty south sound, nor the commercial, poppy sound (which is much less prevalent here), I appreciated this album for the way Lecrae consistently lays truth wide open on the table.

He explores less-covered issues, issues which come from the heart (see 'Anger Management') and are honest and open. In this way, I feel as a listener it was easy to relate to Lecrae as a human being - he is humble and down to earth.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Joyful About Jesus #1: 'Jesus' - Jahaziel

After returning from an excellent week away at a small family conference I've been after finding some Hip Hop which revels in the work of Jesus on the cross. I listened to Shai Linne's 'The Atonement' in the car on the way home, and whilst I love the way doctrines are taught on that CD, I wanted something more responsive to what Jesus has done for me to listen to.

I decided to get out my copy of Jahaziel's 'Ready To Live' and found the track 'Jesus' to hit the spot! I have been so challenged in my thinking about the cross and resurrection. I think for me it had turned into just head-knowledge; something I knew, and was real to me, but not something that made me rejoice daily in what my Saviour has done for me.

I'm now on a quest to put together a decent sized playlist of Hip Hop tracks which enjoy what Jesus has accomplished for us, rather than just teach what He did. Watch this space and if you have any suggestions, send them my way!