Lately I’ve been finding more and more things I’ve wanted to just mention to you that won’t make an entire piece, so I’ve decided to compile this, a collection a little recommendations! I encourage you to take the time to check a few of these things out– I found them worth writing about!
- The Bible, English Standard Version. I received a new Bible for my birthday, and I am absolutely adoring it! It’s the ESV, not my usual NIV, and there’s actually a list of events that led me to the desire for this particular version! I wanted a Bible that was as close to the words of the original manuscripts as possible. Awhile ago, I was watching a Tenth Avenue North Q & A; someone asked Mike Donehey what his favorite version of the Bible was, and he answered the ESV, for the reasons I listed! I started thinking about getting one. THEN, I found out that one of my Bible study sisters has an ESV, and she told about how much she liked it. Finally, after youth group one night I asked my youth pastor which version of the Bible he had used, and he told me what I already knew: the ESV. I’ve had mine for a few weeks now, and I recommend it; I love it! One thing I’ve noticed that was exciting to me is that a lot of times where the NIV says God’s love or anything like that, the ESV says STEADFAST love!
- Brandon Heath’s Leaving Eden: The Conversations. I just found a sort of devotional video from Brandon Heath, someone I greatly admire. It’s short, but it’s poignant, and I plan on answering the questions he asks. I think this is what I’ve been needing to ask myself!
- Switchfoot’s “Vice Verses” album. Switchfoot is one of my favorite bands; they are so talented and unique! Every album they put out is another reason to love them, because they add a little more to their style each time. The latest album, Vice Verses, has a little more hard rock, but it’s also a relaxed sound. The overall tone of the songs is bittersweet; you can tell this has been quite the season for them. You might find it a little gloomy at first, but it’s relatable and real, and when going through difficulties yourself it’s actually possible to smile when you hear the slightly depressing songs. I did last night: no, I’m not alright/ I know that I’m not right/ feels like I travel but I never arrive/ I wanna thrive, not just survive/. BUT, it’s not a sad album. There is an undertone of hope and the drive to change. I know that there’s a meaning to it all/ a little resurrection every time I fall/. My favorite songs on the album are “Afterlife”, “The War Inside”, “Thrive”, “Souvenirs”, “Vice Verses”, and “Where I Belong”. Plus, I think front man Jon Foreman has a connection to the ocean like I do!
- Tenth Avenue North’s “The Light Meets the Dark” album. Believe it or not, this is my first cd of theirs! It’s excellent, a wonderful birthday present! The style is unique and the songs contain amazing truths, like listening to encouraging messages at church but in music form! My favorites are “You Are More”, “The Truth is Who You Are”, “Any Other Way”, “On and On”, and “Oh My Dear”. There’s so much to learn here! One of my favorite lines is from “Any Other Way”: it’s not enough, it’s not enough just to say that you’re okay/ I need your hurt, I need your pain, it’s not love any other way/. I also like that a few of the songs are in written in “God’s voice”. It’s so wonderful to worship Him, but sometimes we need to hear Him singing over us, and He always is, but we don’t always hear it. These songs help a little. Lastly, I must further advertise “You Are More”! It’s my favorite song of all time, and that’s HUGE for a music junkie like me to say!
- Shawn McDonald’s “Closer” album. Mr. McDonald says in the “thank-you’s” of the cd jacket that he wrote the songs on “Closer” during a storm in his life, and knowing that makes them take on their own little lives. I love his sound, with pop, R & B, and soul all blended together; I could listen to this cd and enjoy it even if I wasn’t worshipping along, but I usually am! My favorites are “Closer”, “Faithful”, “The Space Between Us”(LOVE!), “Something Real”, “Control”, and “Rise”. I’m kind of in a storm right now, too, so listening to these is comforting. Some songs, like on Vice Verses, are comforting simply because you can relate to them, but with Closer, the comfort comes from the way Mr. McDonald reacted to his storm. It’s best explained in the song “Storms”: I will not fear/ when the storms of life appear/ cause You’re holding me, holding me tight/ You’re keeping me alive/ when the storms of life arise/ and You’re helping me, helping me to fight/. If you’re in a storm right now and need a model for worship-filled prayer, listen to this album! You’ll like it no matter what season you’re in!