Elevation 2019 January / February

Media That Takes You Higher

God’s purpose for our lives is to be in a consistent state of elevation. Through His wisdom, power, and grace He continues to lift us up each day. Stay elevated with us as we bring to you encouragement through books, music, and apps. 

BOOKS

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

by Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth delivers a powerful book with thorough research on what it takes to be successful. Is it talent? Is it effort? Her lessons learned combined with psychological data inspires each reader to show some grit in their purpose. This book reveals how talent sometimes outshines the person who is giving true effort to succeed. This is a great read for those who want to improve personally, professionally and can be applied spiritually.

“Talent—how fast we improve in skill—absolutely matters. But effort factors into the calculations twice, not once. Effort builds skill. At the very same time, effort makes skill productive.”

Music

 

Phil Thompson “My Worship”

Thompson’s music can be found on all digital platforms. This is a great way to start your day!

“No one can worship you for me, here’s my worship all of my worship, receive my worship all of my worship.”

Joshua Rogers “Returning”

I met Joshua a few years ago. He had just won BET’s Sunday Best and was on tour in New York through Maestro Productions. His humility and worshipful attitude is what stood out to me right away. After some years he is back with a new album “Returning,” and I love how he uses a Bebe and CeCe Winans’ sample in the Returning track. His first single off of this project is “Pour Your Oil,” emphasizing our need for the Holy Spirit.

“Let it fall down on me… from the top of my head to my feet… Pour your oil on me…Let it fall down on me….I want your glory…Want your glory”

Apps

Send your information for review to: info@mcguireent.com


The greatest thing you can do every day is to seek elevation in your relationship with Christ. The Holy Bible, will help lift you closer to Jesus. Whether you use an app, a music player, or a paperback book to draw closer to God, know that He is waiting to meet you.




Elevation 2018 November / December

Media That Takes You Higher

God’s purpose for our lives is to be in a consistent state of elevation. Through His wisdom, power, and grace He continues to lift us up each day. Stay elevated with us as we bring to you encouragement through books, music, and apps. 

BOOKS

In the Trenches: 10 Reasons To Stay In Ministry

by Pastor Joshua C. Nelson

As a pastor I was in the trenches with Pastor Nelson throughout this book. This book is encouraging and captivating as he seeks to shine light at the end of the dark tunnels of our journey. This book is for leaders and provides the tools for staying in ministry through the doubts, criticism, and depression. Nelson’s experience with prayer, dedication, and perseverance will motivate readers to keep digging in their trenches and find the purpose to which God has called them. In The Trenches might have listed 10 reasons not to quit ministry, however, I believe we will find many more!

“The hardest thing about trench digging is that it forces you to go deeper into the trench…”

Walking by Faith and Not by Sight

by Kaysian C. Gordon

Do you have regular appointments with your Heavenly Father? Do you ever feel like you are running on empty? How do you cope? These are some of the questions that Kaysian Gordon answers in this journal. This 45-day journal explores stories from her life as well as stories to impact yours. This is an excellent devotional to start or end your day.

“These pages are filled with some of the lessons that I have seen Him teaching me. Some of these lessons have come from the most random places, but there is a whisper to my heart.”

Music

Kara Nichole

Kara Nichole Robinson’s music is an eclectic blend of contemporary, jazz, rhythm and blues, calypso, and acoustic styles. Songs like “Happy,” “Jesus,” and “He’s Coming Back” inspire us to love and cherish a relationship with God. Robinson’s Stellar Award-winning producer Levester White adds a great professional sound as she represents God to the streets!

Apps

Send your information for review to: info@mcguireent.com


The greatest thing you can do every day is to seek elevation in your relationship with Christ. The Holy Bible, will help lift you closer to Jesus. Whether you use an app, a music player, or a paperback book to draw closer to God, know that He is waiting to meet you.




Elevation 2018 September / October

Media That Takes You Higher

God’s purpose for our lives is to be in a consistent state of elevation. Through His wisdom, power, and grace He continues to lift us up each day. Stay elevated with us as we bring to you encouragement through books, music, and apps. 

BOOKS

Make Your Voice Heard In Heaven, by Barry C. Black

Dr. Barry C. Black has had many opportunities to pray before many government leaders—during a brief government shutdown, and at the National Prayer Breakfast. U.S. Senate Chaplain, Dr. Black’s book Make Your Voice Heard in Heaven shows us how to pray with power and conviction so that God will hear.

Buy at Amazon

Music

Naturally 7 “Both Sides Now”

A capella virtuosos, Naturally 7, released their seventh studio album recently. The group’s positive music brings impact in spiritual melodies social consciousness. An added feature is the guest appearance of Kevin Olusola (Pentatonix) on cello. Olusola’s instrumentation is the only one you find on this album. Naturally 7’s vocals provide all the sound effects that any of their albums needs. Be encouraged today with the Naturally 7 sound!

Buy on Amazon

The MEGA Project presents: Sherice Tomlin “Get Your House In Order”

McGuire Entertainment Group has released its first single from the compilation album, The MEGA Project. The goal of the project is to minister to souls world wide while presenting talented Christian independent artists. Sherice Tomlin is the first to deliver the live version to “Get Your House In Order.” This song is smooth, catchy and puts a praise in the atmosphere. The message in this song is simply for us to get ready for the Lord’s return. Our time is short. The Lord is about to crack the sky, my friend, will you be ready to meet Him?

Buy on Amazon

Apps

Water For the Thirsty brings you a refreshing taste of the Word of God. Each day they provide devotionals, Bible verses, and elevation for your spirit. The Word is simply refreshing! www.waterforthethirsty.com

Send your information for review to: info@mcguireent.com


The greatest thing you can do every day is to seek elevation in your relationship with Christ. The Holy Bible, will help lift you closer to Jesus. Whether you use an app, a music player, or a paperback book to draw closer to God, know that He is waiting to meet you.




When God Likes Your Singing

“Sing Unto the Lord a New Song: Meditations From the Book of Psalms” Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, July 29, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 07.29.2018” on Spreaker.

“Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings” (Psalms 33:2).

Joyful Noises

Singing unto the Lord is one of the greatest blessings we can enjoy. When we rehearse the great things He has done for us, our delight is to worship Him in song. We may not have the most beautiful sounding voices, or skillfully handle stringed instruments, but sincere worship is acceptable to God.

“O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded” Psalms 22:2-5. When we pour out our hearts before the Lord, and praise Him with our entire beings, the Bible says that He who inhabits praise will deliver us.

Case Studies in Song

Many incredible things occurred for God’s people when they praised Him. I will give two examples of God’s power to deliver in the midst of His people’s worship.

(1) “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed” (Acts 16:25- 26).

(2) “And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth forever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten” (2 Chronicles 20:20-22).

They sang when the Spirit led them to, and the Lord showed favor on them. Let us learn how to praise Him as they did.

Melodies from Heaven

The Lord has shown us how willing He is to dispel darkness at the sound of sincere melodies of worship. He has also shown us how He will deliver us at the last day in the presence of spiritual music. This time it will be melodies uttered by God Himself. Can you imagine what a wonderful day it will be when the melodious voice of God is heard, and the dead in Christ rise? Imagine how beautiful the sound of His trumpet will be in that day of final deliverance (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

It is a great idea to enrich our worship expression with musical praise. The Lord enjoys expressions of praise and dwells with His people when we do so.

Sing unto the Lord a new song. Celebrate the gift of singing hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs unto the Lord.




Sherwin Gardner: Forget the Format Gospel

Sherwin Gardner was born and reared in a little village, Brandeville in Trinidad and Tobago. His testimony is birthed from his mother’s decision to defy all odds by the doctor and still carry him.

Before he was born his mother fell ill, so the doctors had her take a drink that would reveal what her issues were. The doctors discovered that she was 20 weeks pregnant with him. Despite advice from her doctors to abort, she chose to hold on to his life and let God handle the rest. Since then, God not only favored Gardner’s mother, but the rest of the world with such talent.

As he contemplated this testimony, he wrote what became the single on his album called “Because of You,” both glorifying God for sustaining his life, and thanking his mother for being faithful to keep his life.

Shifting the Stage

Gardner now resides in Antigua and Barbuda and serves as the media and worship director for the St. John Pentecostal of Antigua and Barbuda with Pastor Steve Matthews. His church ministry supports his media ministry. “I’ve developed that throughout the years,” he acknowledges, “and being a part of church ministry helps with stage presence.”

Gardner began working on that stage presence in 1994 as a five year-old. When he was a teen he performed reggae and soca gospel. In 2002, he signed with Lion of Zion Entertainment, a premier record label in gospel reggae and traveled the island circuit. This provided him the opportunity to produce 15 albums until his current new album “Greater.” His “Greater” project mixes American and Caribbean influences, with the biggest influence coming from a sense of spiritual leading. “It was a time to shift and I heeded the voice of God.”

“Hope of Nations” and “Because of You”, his favorite cuts, speak life into every circumstance.

Gardner travels between New York and Trinidad working on his new album the “Right Now Experience,” and he is pulling from his musical inspirations such as Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, and Byron Cage. “I wanted to understand their pattern of success and their appreciation in the gospel music industry.”

Frustrated with Gospel Format

Gardner said he is focused on relationships and the sound from heaven to God’s people. Whereas some can get frustrated with the music industry, he believes it is because sometimes there is so much music that sounds the same. He questions whether it is really from God or just a format.

“I try my best not to follow those formulas,” he said. “First you really have to keep working, to maintain a standard and quality. You have to live what you sing. The world is so social and easy to shift, [but] you have to make sure you live Christ.”

While he is writing and producing for others such as “We Will Not Be Shaken” for Bethel Music, and “Hope of Nations” by Gates Praise, Gardner adheres to one, solid principle. “[R]emember the times we are living in. We need to have a strong relationship with Christ. We don’t know when He’s coming back, but must live every day for him.”




Church Music Madness: Too Dull or Too Live?

“Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals” (Psalm 150:3-5, NIV).

Social media spun into a tizzy following a posted video showing a youth praise team in church performing a routine to Jay-Z’s The Story of O.J. The song included repeated use of the “N” word, with expected curse words sprinkled throughout.

Responding to the groundswell of treasonous-like cries from the Christian community, the minister of music posted a response explaining the video’s missing context.

“This [routine and song] was intentionally set up as a sermonic presentation for the pastor’s out of-the-box message” he said. He also noted that the routine ended with the gospel song, Break Every Chain by Tasha Cobb (which was not heard on the viral video), and that the members were prepared for the unusual display.

This portrays a new tug-of-war—what type of music is appropriate to use in church; which joins the old tug-of-war—what’s appropriate music for Christians, period?

On one side are the folks who point to Bible verses that name specific styles (psalms, hymns, spiritual songs) and instruments (lyre, harp, cymbals) as the basis for how to determine what God views as proper music. On the other side are the folks who believe that contemporary times justify contemporary styles in order to keep church youth, and get the “un-churched,” interested in the gospel.

Jason Max Ferdinand, “Choir of the World” director puts sanity back in the service. Music should enhance worship rather than dominate it.

     “As life progresses, generations get stuck in memory,” says Dr. Jason Max Ferdinand when thinking about the back-and-forth clashing of opinions. “It becomes more about what we’re used to and comfortable with, rather than what is now or what will be.”

Ferdinand is an academically trained and accomplished musician. He won the 2017 “Outstanding Director of the World” title at last summer’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales, for his work leading the Aeolians of Oakwood University (who, by the way, won the title, “Choir of the World” at the same competition). He also serves as the chairperson of the music department at Oakwood University, and minister of music for the Oakwood University Church. Yet he’s only thirty-something, which puts him in the gap between Christian old guards and upstarts.

Along with each side needing to take the time to understand the other, Ferdinand suggests other tactics to use when choosing music to listen to, and use in church:

Don’t misuse the Bible. Don’t use the types of songs and instruments that the Bible specifically names to judge what it doesn’t name. Music styles and instruments that we know about now (negro spirituals, drums) weren’t known by the Bible writers at that time. “The Bible doesn’t prescribe that this is good and this is bad,” Ferdinand posits. “We need to be very careful about using the Bible as a whipping tool for what we shouldn’t do, instead of using the broad principles that are spoken of to guide what we should do.”

Kirk Franklin
“If I’m writing and doing music celebrating the Creator, who is the most creative being in the world…why should I be limited in expressing myself? He’s creative, so why shouldn’t my music be creative too?” – Kirk Franklin (The New Yorker).

Be excellent in diversity. Whether one is performing a song by Handel or Kirk Franklin, it needs to be done well. A knowledge and understanding of a song’s historical background and context helps musicians interpret the song in ways that align with the composer’s intent. When coupled with trained, skillful use of instruments – both vocal and non – the result is a beautifully rendered piece that helps all age groups grow in diverse music styles.

Restore originality. Many times churches use songs for praise and worship simply because they’re popular, rather than because they actually fit the worship element they support. This can result in feelings of “randomness” about how songs are chosen and used. Instead, Ferdinand would like to see more emphasis on creating original music, rather than just copying music. “For example,” he says, “If I were to tell 30 [local musicians] to write a song about prayer from which we choose the best five, now we have all this new music that specifically matches the worship element.”

      Use music with intention. Music should enhance worship rather than dominate it. To achieve this, music should be chosen intentionally for its content and context. “I worked in a Baptist church for five years under the mentorship of Nolan Williams,” reflects Ferdinand. “We actually had musical formulas for how, when, and what to incorporate into the worship service, including when to be silent.”

While Ferdinand acknowledged that complete use of these principles might be hard for untrained music leaders and listeners, he believes that trained musicians can serve as “point people” to influence and set direction.

“A friend of mine sent me a video clip of a young man in Africa who, though untrained in music, was leading a choir rehearsal,” Ferdinand recalls. “This choir sounded amazing! When asked about his musical influences, the young man said he just copies everything that the Aeolians do.” That let Ferdinand know just how far and wide influence can go in stabilizing the views and use of music in churches everywhere. 

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Patti Thomas Conwell, is the owner of PeeTee Communications, LLC. She is a former college professional writing professor, and writes from Huntsville, Alabama.




Prince Part 2: Subtle Heart Indicators

The late rock star was spiritually conflicted about his legacy. That authenticity drew some unlikely fans.

Speculation about how Prince died has gotten so intense that even the DEA has joined the investigation into his death. Many will undoubtedly be skeptical of the tabloid accusations. So far though, no one is disputing the stories about Prince’s spiritual transformation from a profane sexual libertine to the man who once gave a four-hour Biblical lecture to singer Bilal, rapper Common and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots.

Thompson shared a story with NPR’s Terry Gross that captures the dynamic tension between who Prince had been and who he had become. “We’re at Paisley Park (Prince’s home/studio complex), and maybe I let the s-word slip,” Thompson said, referencing a commonly used expletive. “And he was like ‘yeah, that’ll be a dollar’.”

At that point, Prince grabbed one of those water jugs that some people use to save coins and bills. He was using it as a “cuss jar.”

“Actually, you’re rich,” Thompson said Prince said to him. “That’s $20. No cursing.”

“Cursing?” Thompson said he replied. “Wait. You’re the one that taught me how to curse.”

As Prince fans know, his earlier work contained enough profanity and explicit sexual references that it drew the ire of Tipper Gore, ex-wife of former U.S. Senator and Vice-President Al Gore. Ms. Gore, who had purchased Purple Rain for her then 11-year-old daughter, was outraged by some of its content and launched a crusade to mandate warning labels for albums with adult-oriented material. Thompson said that Prince seemed bothered by the idea that his music had influenced Thompson to use profanity.

“I saw the look on his face,” the hip-hop drummer recalled. In Thompson’s opinion, this discomfort – guilt, maybe? – motivated Prince to become the secret philanthropist that only a few knew him to be. “Saving schools,” Thompson said. “I mean, people to this day not knowing where this $3 million check came from. That was all him. I felt like maybe in the last 20 years of his life he felt the need to over-compensate or pay forward – that maybe he damaged some of us who grew up listening to his music.”

Political commentator Van Jones also knew about Prince’s quiet charity. He said the artist supported Green For All, an organization that creates environmentally sound jobs in poor communities. Prince also supported #YesWeCode, which teaches inner-city youth about technology. “The truth is that you’re either here to enlighten or discourage,” he told an MTV interviewer in 1999. By this time, Prince had begun Bible studies with legendary bassist Larry Graham, who is a Jehovah’s Witness.

electric heart
Duality: How did fans–Christian ones–reconcile lyrics and lifestyle with an artist who was engaged in spiritual and natural struggle?

Graham’s initial fame came from his stint with Sly and the Family Stone and then his own band Graham Central Station. By 1999, Prince had recruited him to join his New Power Generation band. He and Prince grew so close that Graham began calling him “baby brother.” “Larry has been so kind as to help me with a lot of things that I didn’t have quite a firm grip on,” Prince told a Dutch television interviewer in 1999. “There’s a lot of temptation out in the world. And it can confuse you and get you wrapped up in something that keeps you from the truth, but with a loving brother like that by your side you usually do alright.”

“Kudos to Larry Graham for reaching out,” said David Thomas of Take 6, a long-time Prince fan. “And to other people who reached out when they sensed there was a struggle there, and actually became brothers in Christ that reached out to Prince.” Thomas told Message that Take 6 and Prince crossed paths several times through the years. One of their most memorable encounters for Thomas was when the group was in Los Angeles to perform with Stevie Wonder for the 2001 broadcast “America: A Tribute to Heroes.”

Prince, who has cited Wonder as a role model, invited Take 6 and Wonder to join him later at his club Glam Slam in L.A. “If Prince invites me to his club, I’m going,” Thomas said. When he and his wife Marla got there, they were ushered into the VIP area at the side of the stage. Prince was already on stage, playing guitar and jamming with his band.

“As soon as he sees that I walked in, he immediately switches over to start playing ‘Mary, Don’t You Weep’,” Thomas recalled. “It was a seamless transition. And he was playing it more in a blues style.” The whole band joined in as Prince played and sang the Take 6 staple. It was confirmation for Thomas that Prince was a fan. Anyone who has been to a Take 6 concert in recent years has seen the section where the group, widely known for its gospel repertoire, pays tribute to their secular musical influences. That’s when Thomas, who sings the fourth tenor part in the sextet, goes to the piano and sings a Prince song.

Thomas first heard Prince as a child, but he had to hide his interest in the artist. “My parents didn’t let me listen to that kind of music,” he said. So he would go out and buy Prince albums without their knowledge. At first, Thomas was drawn to the uniqueness of the rhythm of Prince’s arrangements, the melody of the songs and the raw passion of his performances.

As he got older, he and his friends began to discuss the challenge of reconciling Prince’s explicit lyrics with their Christian faith. “What I found in Prince’s music is sort of a duality,” Thomas said. “There are times when he is speaking profoundly Christian messages in some songs, and there’s some times when he’s not. That kind of resonated with me as well. There are times when I feel more connected in the Spirit, and there are times when I don’t, when I’m struggling.

“Kudos to Larry Graham for reaching out,” said David Thomas of Take 6, a long-time Prince fan. “And to other people who reached out when they sensed there was a struggle there.”

“And it’s very strange to me that when we see people struggling that we tend to judge, versus trying to figure out what they’re struggling with.”

While many are uncomfortable with or even offended by the raw nature of Prince’s older material, Thomas believes that Christian music should strive for that level of authenticity. He pointed to the imprecatory psalms, also known as the “cursing psalms”, as examples of harsh, real feelings being expressed in a spiritual context.

  • “Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave.”Psalm 55:15
  • “O God, break the teeth in their mouths.” Psalm 58:6

“I was raised in a Christian family,” Thomas said. “Everybody’s not always happy. Things are not always honkey-dorey just because you’re a Christian.”

During the Dutch television interview, Prince was asked what he considers his “destination” to be, since he once said that the more songs he writes, the closer he gets to it. His answer reflected an awareness of, and appreciation for, the dynamics of his own spiritual journey. “I would say complete oneness with the Spirit of God,” Prince said. “And a knowledge of the truth.”

Paisley Prince art by Michelle Paccione/Shutterstock