Buddy and Julie Miller: The King and Queen of Americana

This is a little late, but it’s something worth your attention. For any of you who love heartfelt music by that is heartwrenching, touching and utterly human, then you should check out Buddy and Julie Miller. The Wall Street Journal says this about the Millers:

Buddy and Julie Miller have essentially reigned since the mid-1990s as the unpretentious but royal couple of Americana music, that lovably motley modern-roots music genre derived from the American music traditions of country, folk, gospel, roots rock and more. Their CDs, whether recorded together or individually, have consistently garnered high praise for both the songs they write for them and for the often touching, sometimes feisty country-soul delivery.

The couple, now in their 50s, have weathered a load of misfortune over the years. Just this year Buddy suffered a heart attack during a concert with Emmylou Harris and underwent heart bypass surgery. Julie, meanwhile, has battled fibromyalgia and lost a brother suddenly when he was struck by lightning. They are a walking folk song. Their latest effort, long incubating, is called “Written in Chalk,” and delivers songs filled with heartache and longing. And nobody does it better than Buddy and Julie Miller, especially when they sing lyrics like these from the title track:

All our words are written down in chalk
Out in the rain on the sidewalk
If all our heartaches were in a stack
They’d go all the way up to heaven and back

We don’t know the trouble we’re in
We don’t know how to get home again
Jesus come and save us from our sin

They are unique and talented voices on the musical landscape. I thank God for the talents of Buddy and Julie Miller.

He tried? Let Shai Linne explain Particular Redemption to you

Hip-hopper Shai Linne lays out a solid lesson for us in his song Mission Accomplished. Class is now in session. As he says, “Lord, thank you for the cross.”


Verse 1

Here’s a controversial subject that tends to divide
For years it’s had Christians lining up on both sides
By God’s grace, I’ll address this without pride
The question concerns those for whom Christ died
Was He trying to save everybody worldwide?
Was He trying to make the entire world His Bride?
Does man’s unbelief keep the Savior’s hands tied?
Biblically, each of these must be denied
It’s true, Jesus gave up His life for His Bride
But His Bride is the elect, to whom His death is applied
If on judgment day, you see that you can’t hide
And because of your sin, God’s wrath on you abides
And hell is the place you eternally reside
That means your wrath from God hasn’t been satisfied
But we believe His mission was accomplished when He died
But how the cross relates to those in hell?
Well, they be saying:

God knows He tried (8x)

Verse 2

Father, Son and Spirit: three and yet one
Working as a unit to get things done
Our salvation began in eternity past
God certainly has to bring all His purpose to pass
A triune, eternal bond no one could ever sever
When it comes to the church, peep how they work together
The Father foreknew first, the Son came to earth
To die- the Holy Spirit gives the new birth
The Father elects them, the Son pays their debt and protects them
The Spirit is the One who resurrects them
The Father chooses them, the Son gets bruised for them
The Spirit renews them and produces fruit in them
Everybody’s not elect, the Father decides
And it’s only the elect in whom the Spirit resides
The Father and the Spirit- completely unified
But when it comes to Christ and those in hell?
Well, they be saying:

God knows He tried (8x)

Verse 3

My third and final verse- here’s the situation
Just a couple more things for your consideration
If saving everybody was why Christ came in history
With so many in hell, we’d have to say He failed miserably
So many think He only came to make it possible
Let’s follow this solution to a conclusion that’s logical
What about those who were already in the grave?
The Old Testament wicked- condemned as depraved
Did He die for them? C’mon, behave
But worst of all, you’re saying the cross by itself doesn’t save
That we must do something to give the cross its power
That means, at the end of the day, the glory’s ours
That man-centered thinking is not recommended
The cross will save all for whom it was intended
Because for the elect, God’s wrath was satisfied
But still, when it comes to those in hell
Well, they be saying:

God knows He tried (8x)


HT: Reformed Theology

New lead singer for Newsboys: Michael Tait

Former dcTalk member Michael Tait will replace Peter Furler when the Newsboys perform in concert, it was announced this week at Jesusfreakhideout.com:

Peter will continue with the band and his trademark songwriting and production will remain as he focuses his professional career toward future newsboys recordings. Michael has been on the road with the band over the past weeks working alongside Peter in what has been a positive and enjoyable experience for both parties. It has been a graceful process that both Peter and Michael have worked through as they prepare to make the change in the coming weeks. 

Peter states “newsboys to me has always been a mission, and I entrust Mike, Jeff, Jody and Duncan to continue all that is in store for us as a band. I’m looking forward to focusing on the band’s studio career and spending time in my own bed after many years in a tour bus and hundreds of thousands of miles on the road.” 

Wes Campbell, newsboys manager explains, “While the decision to replace Peter on the road was a painstaking one, when the idea of dc Talk vocalist Michael Tait was presented it was a no-brainer to all of us. No one can replace Peter, but we know Michael will bring a new attitude, energy and vocal style that will thrill our audience. To be able to continue a world class show and still have Peter behind the scenes guiding the career and making of newsboys music is a huge opportunity for all of us. It’s amazing that after many years of touring with dc Talk in the 1990s that in 2009 our paths would cross once again. It’s an exciting time for all of us.” 

HT:  Tim Challies

A study in God’s sovereignty: The Strange Case of Frank Cash and the Morning Paper

Click on the image to here samples

T Bone Burnett, before he made a name for himself producing great albums like the soundtrack for “O Brother, Where Art Thou” and the recently multi-awarded “Raising Sand,” was producing great, if underappreciated, CDs of his own.

Recently, a friend pointed me to the online music site lala.com, where I discovered a lot of older stuff I had in my collection but had worn out. Among those finds was Burnett’s The Talking Animals, which was released in 1988. While not among his strongest efforts, it’s still very good overall. One of the songs that stands out is the baroquely titled “The Strange Case of Frank Cash and the Morning Paper.” This song, which is really Burnett narrating with a musical background, tells a fascinating story with a fascinating twist at the end. It is that twist that points to God’s sovereignty in our lives and our utterly foolishness in trying to deny it. I won’t spoil it for you here, but you can click on the accompanying image to hear a sample of the song.

Fiction Family combines talents of Switchfoot, Nickel Creek artists

Jon Foreman and Sean Watkins, two of the creative forces a part of Switchfoot and Nickel Creek, respectively, have teamed up to create something similar and yet different but overall pleasing. Their joint effort is called Fiction Family, for which they’ve released a self-titled debut last month. What is Fiction Family? This is how they describe it on the band’s Web site:

The seemingly unlikely duo met a few years ago at a show featuring Wilco, R.E.M. Nickel Creek and Switchfoot. Over time, they began writing songs together, which quickly turned into a full-length album. As both Watkins and Foreman are vocalists and multi-instrumentalists, they often took turns singing lead vocals and they both play several instruments on each song, including guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion, baritone ukulele, piano, organ, mandolin, steel guitar, 12-string guitar. Fiddle player Sara Watkins is featured on a few songs as well. Foreman explains, “The album was recorded and written in parts. Because Nickel Creek and Switchfoot are both hard working touring acts, we were rarely home from tour at the same time. Consequently the tracks were passed back and forth between Sean and I. Whoever was home from tour would chip away at the songs with no real expectations at all, mainly just for ourselves and for the love of the song I suppose. We came up with a few cowboy rules for the project: No double tracking. No pussyfooting. No tuning of vocals. etc… With very few exceptions, every note was written, arranged, played and recorded by Sean and myself.”

The first single, “When She’s Near,” gives a taste of what kind of fun the two friends came up with.

What wondrous love is this

Click to listen to a sample of this song
Click to listen to a sample of this song

What Wondrous Love is This” is a song that resonates this time of year when we think of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

This version, as recorded by Matthew Smith of Indelible Grace, is my favorite. I especially appreciate the bridge he wrote which talks about God’s love that overcomes our stubborn hearts and draws us to Him. Overall, a beautiful song and lyrics that point to verses like Romans 5:8 that deserve meditation on our part.

Here are the lyrics:

What wondrous love is this,
O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this
that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse
for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down,
sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down
beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown
for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb,
I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb
Who is the great “I Am”;
While millions join the theme,
I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

And what wondrous love is this,
Thou I raised my clenched fist
he opened up my hand
to receive His gift

And what wondrous love is here,
The God immortal has drawn near
and shed His blood
to close the rift.

And when from death I’m free,
I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free,
I’ll sing and joyful be;
And through eternity,
I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on

A Christmas warning: Learn to love (the world) less

To me, it seems awesome when you can take the truths of God’s word and the preaching of John Piper and somehow put it in a rap song. And it really works. This, of course, is through the artistry of Shai Linne and the the grace of God. This is a powerful message, especially this time of year when we start to turn the things that we love in this world (family, friends, what we love to eat, play, our hobbies) into little idols. Love the things of this world less. Love God more.

As Shai says: I don’t want to go to Heaven if God is not there.

Shai Linne on iTunes

HT: Tim Brister