Advent starts early in Maronite Catholic Rite

Advent started on Dec. 1, 2013, in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, but in the Maronite Rite the prepa­ra­tion for Christ­mas began on Nov. 17 with the start of Sea­son of the Glo­ri­ous Birth of Our Lord. The Sun­day of Novem­ber 17 was the Announce­ment to Zechariah, fol­lowed by the Announce­ment to the Vir­gin Mary on Nov. 24 and the Vis­i­ta­tion of the Vir­gin to Eliz­a­beth on Dec. 1 and con­tin­ues through the New Year.

There is a pow­er­ful les­son to learn in the story of Zechariah in that we need to watch our tongue and the words that come out of it because death and life are in the power of the tongue. Below is my con­tri­bu­tion to St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church’s bul­letin and web­site.

As we begin the Sea­son of the Glo­ri­ous Birth of Our Lord there is a pow­er­ful les­son about the words we speak in Luke’s Gospel about the visit of the Angel Gabriel to the priest Zechariah.

The Angel Gabriel pro­claimed good news to Zechariah, telling the priest that his prayers had been answered and that his wife Eliz­a­beth would give birth to a child. This child, John the Bap­tist, would be filled with the Holy Spirit even in his mother’s womb and would return many sons of Israel back to God.

But instead of rejoic­ing Zechariah doubted, say­ing, “How can this be? I am an old man and my wife is bar­ren.” Because of his doubt, Zechariah was made mute until the words spo­ken by the Angel were fulfilled.

Words are pow­er­ful and that is the rea­son Zechariah’s mouth was sealed. Instead of telling his fam­ily and friends about the glo­ri­ous mir­a­cle about to take place, Zechariah would have been say­ing, “This angel came to me, and said Eliz­a­beth would bear a son, but that is impos­si­ble because we are too old.” If Zechariah declared those words of doubt he would have missed the mir­a­cle God wanted to bestow upon him.

How pow­er­ful are words? God made the world by speak­ing words. Jesus tells us that if we have the faith the size of a mus­tard seed, we can move moun­tains by our words. “You are snared by the utter­ance of your lips (words),” pro­claims Proverbs 6:2.  St. Paul writes in Eph­esians, “Let no evil come out of your mouths, but only what is use­ful for build­ing up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” (New Revised Stan­dard Ver­sion Catholic Edition)

By speak­ing words of doubt or defeat we stop the mir­a­cles that God wants to place in our lives. We also tear down oth­ers by what comes out of our mouths. So next time you want to speak defeat or gos­sip, remem­ber words are pow­er­ful. Stop, and speak words of belief, vic­tory and love, and be pre­pared to see mir­a­cles hap­pen in your life.

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Don’t put away Christmas decorations just yet

Amer­i­cans have it all wrong. This is the Christ­mas sea­son — the time after Jesus Christ’s birth. A time to enjoy and rewind from all the hus­tle and bus­tle of the sea­son of Advent.

Advent is a time of prepa­ra­tion for the birth of the Sav­ior of the world, but after Dec. 25 we hurry to take down the lights that sig­nify the shin­ing star of Beth­le­hem, along with the ever­greens and all the trim­mings. Even my friends from Eng­land have told me that they were amazed that come Dec. 26  the major­ity of U.S. radio sta­tions quit play­ing Christ­mas music.

So this year, I ask you to take in the time after Christ­mas. Lis­ten to car­ols that recall the birth of Jesus, such as “O Lit­tle Town of Beth­le­hem,” “Joy to the World.”  Look at the lights on the tree, think of the shin­ing star and the shep­herds in the field that received a visit from the angels in heaven to sing the praises of the birth. Indulge in those “left­over” cook­ies, cakes and choco­lates. Sweets to sig­nify the sweet gift we received from God. Recall the rea­son we cel­e­brate Christ­mas. You get the picture.

Being brought up Catholic, we did not take down the Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions until after Jan. 6, the day the three wise men came and paid homage to Jesus. My mom’s fam­ily did not exchange gifts until this day, also called the Epiphany.

It is a tra­di­tion that I still try to keep, and I find the Christ­mas sea­son very peace­ful, espe­cially after all the stress of get­ting every­thing ready for Dec. 25. I find time to reflect and be grate­ful for what I have. It’s also a time to reflect on the past year and get ready for a new beginning.

So enjoy, find peace and com­fort in know­ing that the maker of uni­verse loved us so much that he sent his only son to teach us how to live and to save us from sin.

–30–

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Switchfoot shuns Christian rock band moniker

Jon Foreman of Switchfoot

Switch­foot and front­man Jon Fore­man per­form at Red Rocks in Colorado.

 

Here’s a piece I wrote a few years  back about Switch­foot and how the band came about its name and why the band shuns labels, includ­ing “Chris­t­ian rock band.”

Find­ing the right band name is para­mount to musi­cians. A good moniker can draw lis­ten­ers who are just curi­ous or if the name hits the wrong chord it can turn off scores of people.

Just as cru­cial is being labeled — be it a hip-hop, rock, indie or rap band. These labels are why Switch­foot shuns the Chris­t­ian rock tag.

Chris­tian­ity is faith, it’s not a genre of music,” said Switch­foot lead gui­tarist Drew Shirley. “We want to be music for all peo­ple. We’ve played, cam­puses, bars, clubs. … When you have this label­ing it closes the doors to our music instead of peo­ple just lis­ten­ing to it to see if they like it.

Yes, we all have a strong Chris­t­ian faith,” Shirley added. “It influ­ences every­thing we do, and our view of the world. And as musi­cians, we write about what we are deal­ing with — our expe­ri­ences, what we are going through.”

Switch­foot, which got its name from the band mem­bers’ surf­ing back­ground, scored new fans when its song “This is Home” was fea­tured on the “Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia: Prince Caspian” soundtrack.

Con­tinue read­ing

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Life at crux of Tenth Avenue North’s “The Struggle”

Mike Donehey

Mike Done­hey, lead vocals of Tenth Avenue North, per­forms at Cross­roads Church in Wheat Ridge, Col­orado on Wednes­day night. | Photo by Eliza Marie Somers

The Strug­gle” is the third stu­dio release from the band, which has been mak­ing music since its incep­tion a dozen years ago when Mike Done­hey and Jason Jami­son were wor­ship lead­ers at Palm Beach Atlantic College.

You wouldn’t want to hear the stuff we did 12 years ago,” said Jami­son, who along with Done­hey are the two remain­ing orig­i­nal mem­bers. “Like any­thing else the longer you do it the bet­ter you get at it. We’ve all have got­ten older and expe­ri­enced life. We are mar­ried with kids. And we base our lyrics and music off of life and what we are going through. We want to be hon­est with what we’ve been going through. And as Chris­tians we are try­ing to wres­tle with what God’s word says is truth and what I feel. God’s word is truth, and we have to bend our­selves around that.

Our con­tent is more mature as we have grown as believ­ers and have expe­ri­enced the Gospel.”

Singer/songwriter and pro­ducer Jason Ingram once again joined the band in mak­ing the record, but this time he is the sole producer.

On the first two records we also worked with Phil Larue and Rusty Varenkemp, so we already had five cooks in the kitchen,” Jami­son explained. “This time we decided to try one pro­ducer to have him 100 per­cent com­mit­ted to the project. Some­where down the line you have to let some­one else take the reins. … Jason wrote three songs on record, so it’s just as much a part of him as it is us.”

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Tenth Avenue North shares “Struggles” with fans

Many pas­tors and their flocks embrace a prosperity-based mes­sage, but Tenth Avenue North is burst­ing their bub­bles with its newest CD release, “The Struggle.”

The pros­per­ity Gospel teaches us if we do the right thing God will bless you, but God also promises us trou­ble and tri­als,” Tenth Avenue North drum­mer James Jami­son said. “In our lives, every day there is some­thing to strug­gle through.”

The first release off the album, “Los­ing” is a prime exam­ple of life’s strug­gles and was com­posed after a sta­tion asked the band to write a song from sto­ries pro­vided by its listeners.

The sta­tion sent us the top-10 sto­ries, and they were all very grandiose sto­ries, but they all had this one com­mon thread — dif­fi­cult times and of let­ting go and for­giv­ing some­thing or some­one in your past, “ Jame­son said. “Well, when you for­give some­one you feel like you are los­ing, and that you should seek­ing revenge instead. But God doesn’t call us to seek jus­tice, we are called to for­give. And that is a strug­gle of let­ting go, but ulti­mately a weight is lifted off your shoulders.”

Jamison’s favorite song on the CD is “Don’t Stop the Mad­ness,” which asks God. “Don’t be afraid Lord to break my heart if it brings me down to my knees.”

It slaps the pros­per­ity Gospel in the face,” he said. “Some­times dif­fi­cul­ties draw us closer to Him. Dur­ing strug­gles, at times you don’t have an answer. Did I so some­thing wrong to deserve this? What is God teach­ing me, and do I need to be here? Why do I want to rush through this? If God promised us pain then it can’t be mean­ing­less. Some­times we bring glory to Him by falling on our knees. The song shows that we need to be depen­dent on God and to lose sight of our com­fort and put our eyes on Jesus.”

Con­tinue read­ing

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Third Day gets jolt with Brendan O’Brien, ‘Miracle’

Third Day Mac Powell 2012 at Coors Field

Third Day lead singer Mac Pow­ell is releas­ing a solo coun­try CD, but the band is not break­ing up. The band enter­tained a Faith Day crowd of 25,000 after a Rock­ies’ game in August. | Pho­tos by Eliza Marie Somers

With Third Day lead singer Mac Pow­ell set to release his first solo project, a self-titled coun­try CD, many fans might be won­der­ing if the four-time Grammy-winning band is break­ing up. Well, don’t fret. Third Day is alive and well, and putting the fin­ish­ing touches on the group’s newest release, “Miracle.”

The band teamed with leg­endary rock pro­ducer Bren­dan O’Brien, who has worked with Bruce Spring­steen, Pearl Jam, Stone Tem­ple Pilots and Denver’s The Fray, to cull a new vibe from the Atlanta-based band.

I thought with us work­ing with Bren­dan O’Brien, this rock pro­ducer, that (the new record) would be more of a rock sound,” Third Day gui­tarist Mark Lee explained, “And we are a rock band, so there are those kind of ele­ments, but I think Bren­dan really helped pull out some more pop sen­si­bil­i­ties that we haven’t really tapped into lot … more hooky back­ground vocals, key­boards and dif­fer­ent things like that.

Third Day Mark Lee guitarits

Third Day’s Mark Lee says the band’s new CD gives lis­ten­ers “new tex­tures” under pro­ducer Bren­dan O’Brien.

It totally sounds like us, but there’s just some tex­tures that you haven’t heard from Third Day before. It’s very fresh sounding.”

With O’Brien’s help, fans will rec­og­nize Third Day in “Mir­a­cle,” but as bassist Tai Ander­son explains, it’s a new chap­ter to the band’s story as the guys try to keep things fresh.

Con­tinue read­ing

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Joel Osteen: Don’t settle for a C life, God promises more

Joel Osteen Night of Hope Denver

Joel Osteen’s Night of Hope opens with a ren­di­tion of the national anthem. | Photo by Eliza Marie somers

You’ve heard the say­ing: Good enough for gov­ern­ment work. You’ve prob­a­bly even said it a few times. Well, “good enough” might just be the rea­son for this country’s cur­rent state of affairs andyour cur­rent state of affairs. Well, enough of that.

That was the cen­tral theme of Joel Osteen’s mes­sage when he was in Den­ver this sum­mer for A Night of Hope at the Pepsi Cen­ter –Don’t set­tle for good enough.

Good enough” is only a “C” – that’s just aver­age, but God did not put you here to live a “C” life. God has plans for you, and they are “A” plans. You don’t have to scourer the Bible to find that God wants you to live an abun­dant life. But it’s not going to fall from the sky like manna, you have to work for it and not set­tle for “C” or get too com­fort­able with “C.” (Inter­est­ing how com­fort starts with a C.) That’s a quick syn­op­sis of Osteen’s message.

Joel Osteen says set­tling for C’s in life is not what God has planned for you. | Photo cour­tesy of Joel Osteen Ministires

John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life and have it in abun­dance. – Ampli­fied Bible

The most pow­er­ful source in the uni­verse is with you,” Osteen said. “Stir up your greatness.”

Con­tinue read­ing

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Downhere’s Marc Martel as Queen’s Freddie Mercury

If you’re a Queen fan then check out this video by Marc Mar­tel, the lead singer of Down­here. And fans rec­og­nize it also as he was voted the win­ner of Best Fan Cover at the MTV 02 Awards this week.

Here’s a link to Downhere’s web­site

Funny, I’ve writ­ten in the past that he reminds me of Fred­die Mer­cury and sure enuff here’s proof. Amaz­ing. Here he is on Ellen.

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Jason Crabb to play Ridgway, Colorado

Jason Crabb, who recently won male vocal­ist of the year and artist of the year at The Dove Awards, will be at the Ridg­way Chris­t­ian Cen­ter in Sep­tem­ber. There’s not much more infor­ma­tion about this event on the Ridg­way web­site or on Crabb’s site, but keep check­ing back and I will post the infor­ma­tion as I am aware of it.

 

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Thanks for all your support and interest

Today is my last day at The Den­ver Post because of staff reduc­tions. I will still be cov­er­ing Chris­t­ian music but in a dif­fer­ent “plat­form” at www.highernoteblog.com

I’ve enjoyed my time at The Post as a sports copy edi­tor and the oppor­tu­nity the com­pany gave me to expand my hori­zons by cov­er­ing Chris­t­ian music.

I can now spend 40 hours a week in this new ven­ture and I hope you will fol­low me at my web­site on Twit­ter.

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Meet Joel Osteen at LoDo Tattered Cover

Need hope in these trou­bled times? Then Joel Osteen, pas­tor of the nation’s largest church, is your man.

Osteen will be in Den­ver for a “Night of Hope” on June 1 at the Pepsi Cen­ter, but you can meet the “Smil­ing Preacher” on Thurs­day, May 31 at the Tat­tered Cover in LoDo start­ing at 7 p.m. Osteen will be sign­ing his book, “Every Day a Friday.”

If you want to expe­ri­ence his pos­i­tive mes­sage at the Pepsi Cen­ter, you bet­ter hurry up because tick­ets are going fast.

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Third Day in Colorado for Rockies’ game

Third Day, the Atlanta-based multi-platinum Chris­t­ian rock band, will be in Den­ver for a con­cert after the Rock­ies’ game on Sun­day, Aug. 19 at Coors Field.

Third Day is cur­rently work­ing with vet­eran rock pro­ducer Bren­dan O’Brien at the band’s stu­dio — The Quarry. O’Brien has worked with Bruce Spring­steen, Pearl Jam, Stone Tem­ple Pilots and Denver’s The Fray.

Our time with Bren­dan has been noth­ing less than an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence,” said Mac Pow­ell, Third Day’s lead singer. “Bren­dan has def­i­nitely stretched me as a song­writer and vocal­ist more than any other pro­ducer ever has.”

Faith Day will be a treat for Third Day fans as the band is on  lim­ited tour sched­ule this sum­mer with the album in the works and fans can expect to hear some new songs at Coors Field.

The major-league base­ball team has been host­ing Faith Day for seven years and each year the event grows. Last year, Rock­ies’ fans were treated to a con­cert by Cast­ing Crowns.

 

 

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Third Day to play Coors Field after Rockies’ game

Third Day, the Atlanta-based multi-platinum Chris­t­ian rock band, will be in Den­ver for a con­cert after the Rock­ies’ game on Sun­day, Aug. 19 at Coors Field.

Third Day is cur­rently work­ing with vet­eran rock pro­ducer Bren­dan O’Brien at the band’s stu­dio — The Quarry. O’Brien has worked with Bruce Spring­steen, Pearl Jam, Stone Tem­ple Pilots and Denver’s The Fray.

Our time with Bren­dan has been noth­ing less than an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence,” said Mac Pow­ell, Third Day’s lead singer. “Bren­dan has def­i­nitely stretched me as a song­writer and vocal­ist more than any other pro­ducer ever has.”

Faith Day will be a treat for Third Day fans as the band is on lim­ited tour sched­ule this sum­mer with the album in the works and fans can expect to hear some new songs at Coors Field.

The major-league base­ball team has been host­ing Faith Day for seven years and each year the event grows. Last year, Rock­ies’ fans were treated to a con­cert by Cast­ing Crowns.
–30–

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Brandon Heath reveals stories behind songs

Dove Award win­ner and Grammy nom­i­nee Bran­don Heath shares his favorite sto­ries about his songs while record­ing “Give Me Your Eyes — The Acoustic Sessions.”

One story includes a woman, who lost her daugh­ter in a car acci­dent after a drunken dri­ver hit her, and after hear­ing “I’m Not who I Was” went to the prison to for­give the per­son who caused the acci­dent. Another story is about a blind boy who typed the words to “Give Me Your Eyes” on a Braille type­writer and sent it to Heath, who has it framed in his house.

Check out the video. It reveals what an impact Heath has on his listeners.

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Chris August out of hospital after head injury

Chris­t­ian artist Chris August suf­fered a head injury in a skate­board­ing acci­dent last week and after spend­ing five days in the hos­pi­tal he is at home rest­ing. August asked for prayers on his Twit­ter account and also included pho­tos of him­self in the hospital.

It is not known if he was wear­ing a hel­met. Keep up to date by fol­low­ing him on Twitter

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