An Overcritical Society


While I was painting my new digs yesterday, I was listening to an audiobook called Love Does, narrated by the author himself, Bob Goff. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first. Whenever I see a new Christian book get a lot of attention and it’s written by an author I’ve never heard of, I fear that it might be off in some serious doctrinal sense or something. But I needed an audiobook to listen to and this one had caught my eye a few times.

By the end of the first chapter, I was in awe. By the end of the second I was cracking up. Three hours later I had experienced every emotion under the sun. This guy is clearly the most interesting man in the world and has so many crazy stories that I am just awestruck. It is by far the most interesting, hilarious, and enjoyable Christian book I have ever read.

It’s full of stories that all find a strange way of relating back to God. And for that reason, there are a few (and I mean very few) critics of this book. From what I can tell, nearly everyone love is. But I was checking it out on Amazon today when I saw that someone gave it a one star review. Feeling anger come over me (as I hate one star reviews on anything), I clicked on it to see what could possibly make someone give this book one star.

And as usual, the one star review was a bunch of crap. They took things too seriously and saw the enjoyable jokes and stories as sin and stupidity.

This picture isn't me dissing XKCD. I think that site is typically hilarious :D

Let me just tell you that when you live a life of criticism like this, you become bitter and difficult to be around. No one likes it when someone’s there to rip everything a part. I know this because I’ve been that guy plenty of times.

  • “Yeah, that album is their worst.”
  • “Yeah, that movie was awful. I know you liked it but…”
  • “Yeah, he’s okay at guitar but…”
  • “Yeah, but etc…”

Look, we all have preferences and thoughts about things, but if you find yourself consistently leaving negative comments on every YouTube video, book and music album that comes out, there’s actually probably something wrong with you—not with the things you’re rating.

  • That’s why people who talk too much trash on online video games now have to pay money at times to play online games.
  • That’s why YouTube is trying to figure out how to stop people from leaving awful comments on videos and is thinking of displaying your actual name so you can’t hide behind the internet.

I had an ex who once told me that there was absolutely nothing words could do to hurt anyone. All they are, are in fact, words. It was as though we were back on the playground singing, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” But we all know that’s not true. I’ve never been in more pain from the things people have said to me than the physical pain I’ve experienced.

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (James 3:6-12)

I know: the irony (and perhaps hypocrisy) is that I’m criticizing critics. But my goodness—grow up! You live in a world full of creativity and there is no need to be so overcritical about every little thing, ESPECIALLY in the church!

  • You know why so many pastors burn out? Because for some reason, people think that their pastor needs to know everything they don’t like about what they do or say.
  • You know why worship leaders go to another church? Because for some reason, we give the worship band one star because she’s flat, he hit a wrong note, that beat was lame, and the intro was just a bit too loud.
  • You know why that new person left? Because for some reason, she saw more love at the bar with her drunk buddies than she saw in the pew next to her.

Despite our call from Jesus not to judge one another, we consistently whack people in the face with the 2×4’s sticking out of our eyes.

Over the past two months or so, I’ve been practicing holding my tongue more than I ever have in my life. Yes, things still slip out here and there, but I’ve found that when I just shut up about things that annoy me, I don’t care much about it. I don’t give it room to fester in conversation—I don’t give it the ability to overtake my thoughts.

I can feel an incredible change in my life because of it.

Alright, there’s my thoughts for the day. If you leave a nasty comment on this blog post or leave one star, you’ve obviously missed the point.

More thoughts on this post? Read my post All Christians are Called to Missions, listen to my message Forgiveness under the Luke series on the 1208 iPhone app, or read Greg Boyd’s book Repenting of Religion.

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Favorite Worship Artists and Albums

Sonicflood

In my personal opinion, this is the best album Gotee records ever put out (and considering the album went gold, many must agree with me). And when I mention Sonicflood, let’s be clear that I’m referring to the original Sonicflood that released a debut self-titled album and a live album entitled Sonicpraise. I am not talking about the band that kickstarted INO records by taking on the same name with nearly all different members.

A friend of mine had bought Sonicflood’s first album for me as a moving-away present back in about 1999. I had heard their hit I Want to Know You, but didn’t know much about them otherwise. And so I threw it in my portable CD player and was almost immediately addicted to it. I don’t know why. This was well before I played any instruments so I could only understand the beauty of their music to the extent that my ears enjoyed it, but I still loved it.

This was the first worship music I had ever heard that was incredibly intimate and rocked out at the same time. It was also the first music I heard in which the songs weren’t trying to be three minutes a piece. The songs were as drawn out as the band wanted them to be and it was perfect that way.

I even happened to see them live at the very first concert I ever went to. They opened for the Newsboys and even though they only had about 15-20 minutes to play they must have only gotten through two songs altogether. I didn’t understand the repetition at the time because it was before I had a charismatic bone in my body.

And then, in 2001 when their live album Sonicpraise came out, I threw it in my CD player and rarely took it out. There was something magical about this album just like the first one. I listened to it for hours and scratched it up pretty good. I especially couldn’t stop listening to their Spontaneous Worship track which was a whopping 9+ minutes—way beyond what any Christian record label would have put out at that time.

Why was I so attracted to this? What was it about this album?

I now believe that my attraction was to an anointing God had put on this album. It had been blessed and turned into a true worship project. It was highly musical, incredibly genuine, and ground-breaking for its time. The spoken words that started the album must have literally done something in the spiritual realm:

We love you Jesus. Manifest your presence through this album and through the lives of these men who go out commissioned by Your word to be worshippers of the true and holy God. And making disciples in Jesus name.

You could see even more of their desperation for God in the hidden track, which is about three and a half minutes of discussion of the album.

Again, the original Sonicflood isn’t around anymore, but their lead singer Jeff Deyo has been writing and releasing some great albums you should look into.

Jesus Culture

As of right now, my favorite worship band would have to be that of Jesus Culture. The first time I had heard of them was when a friend of mine had used a video of them singing How He Loves in a presentation she had given in a worship arts class. I remember being captivated by it, but I didn’t look into the band until David Crowder Band made John Mark McMillan’s song an even bigger hit than Jesus Culture did. Soon the whole Christian realm was aware of How He Loves and many were pointed to the live recording that Jesus Culture had done.
That’s what happened to me. I posted a review here on my blog about David Crowder’s version of How He Loves and someone left a comment telling me to check out the Jesus Culture version. After watching the video I was immediately overwhelmed. I had to get some of this band’s music. Why? I think it was because I hadn’t heard any music that had been so anointed since the original Sonicflood albums.
Jesus Culture is probably gaining popularity more than any other worship band right now (even Relevant Magazine recently wrote an article on them), and they’re doing so by playing long extended songs full of passion and spontaneous praise. They don’t want to succumb to industry standards, they just want to worship. And with it, I believe a generation of worshipers is being unleashed. On top of that, many are turning to Bethel Church in Redding, CA where Jesus Culture is based. Because of this, many are learning of the gifts, miracles and phenomena of the Spirit that take place there and are running to learn more about how God can do such things in their own life.
I think my favorite album of Jesus Culture’s would have to be Come Away, but I can’t help but push you to buy everything they’ve released. It’s all spectacular and anointed.

Bethel Music

Since I’m on the topic of Jesus Culture, I might as well mention Bethel Music. This is the church I just mentioned above in my overview of Jesus Culture. Bethel is home to Jesus Culture and therefore their albums have all kinds of artists on it—from those in the Jesus Culture band, to others who lead worship at Bethel. The original songs coming out of this church are quickly making their way into mainstream churches and even into mainstream worship leader’s new albums. Bethel does so many amazing things and in my opinion is one of the leading churches that God is putting over America right now. I stay on top of not only the music they release, but what their church is doing through a subscription to iBethel.tv.

All Sons & Daughters

I only discovered All Sons & Daughters a few months ago, but I was immediately taken by their music. That’s honestly a bit strange for me because their particular genre is one that I’ve heard a lot of over the past few years and am not usually smitten with. But strangely enough I found myself wrapped up in their music and quickly buying everything they had to offer. There was something very genuine about their music and I got to see it firsthand when they played a concert at my alma mater just weeks after discovering them.

It was incredible. I’ve never seen a band with no drummer sound so full. It was truly a time of intimate, stripped-down worship and I was very moved by it—even after discovering that they were more or less a church worship band! I’ve noticed recently that a lot of church worship bands are trying to get their music out there when they probably shouldn’t be. But All Sons & Daughters is one of those church worship bands that the Christian music realm desperately needs and desires.

You have no need to buy all of their EPs because they just released an album entitled Season One, which has almost all of their music to date, plus two new songs.

Jeremy Riddle

Jeremy Riddle is closely connected to Bethel Music and has even released a few songs on Bethel’s albums. He is an amazing worship leader with a great atmospheric rock sound and lyrics of desperation. His album Furious is an amazing album that can really help you enter into the presence of God. His song One Thirst and Hunger is among one of my favorites of his and I use it in our church’s worship services quite regularly. Outside of that his song Always is among one of the most peaceful and beautiful worship songs I’ve ever heard. I love to set an atmosphere and just blast this song in all of it’s ambient-prayer-closet-beauty.

Cory Asbury

There are few studio worship albums I probably listen to more than Cory Asbury’s Let Me See Your Eyes. If this dude writes a song, you better believe it’s going to be catchy, born out of desire, and full of Scripture. On top of that, I’ve never known any worship artist to succeed at so many different kinds of genres. I get excited anytime I catch live him on IHOP.

Cory Asbury would also have to be king of the fast songs in the Christian music worship scene. There are so many good slow worship songs out there, but so few fast ones. Cory is able to operate on both sides of the table—whether it be the joy and uplifting sounds of the upbeat side of things, or the desperate and worshipful cries of the deep, intimate side of things.

This man is truly anointed by God to be a worship leader and you should definitely grab his album. And while I’ve been patiently awaiting a new album from him, I’ve also grown addicted to an album he worked on with Matt Gilman entitled Holy. Both are well worth a purchase.

Pas Neos

There’s another IHOP artist outside of Cory Asbury that I am in love with named Pas Neos. These guys are still pretty new to the scene but they have done something that few worship bands have ever done so well: electronica.

I am a huge electronica fan. It’s actually more or less my favorite genre. And now that it’s taking over the radio I’m that guy who gets to yell at everyone and say, “I’ve been listening to that kind of music for like a decade! I was obsessed with it when no one else would listen to it!” And no, I’m not a hipster.

This band is straight up indie-electronica and they do an amazing job at it. Their lyrics are also so Scriptural that the words they use in their songs can catch you off guard at first. They really push you to think of what they’re saying. It’s one of the most intriguing worship albums to come out in a long time and I am so incredibly happy that it has come out of IHOP.

IHOP

“Man Jamin,” you say. “I’ve never heard someone reference pancakes so much when talking about worship music.”

“Yeah, I actually get that a lot,” I reply.

But if you’ve been in the worship scene for awhile, you probably know that when I reference IHOP, I’m not talking about the International House of Pancakes, but rather the International House of Prayer. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was made aware that there was a place out there that hosted 24/7 worship and that you could watch it online. I was immediately intrigued and spent many hours streaming IHOP into my room. In fact, I have it streaming right now.

The IHOP musicians can literally play one song for an entire hour on the IHOP worship stream because they know how to dwell in a time of worship. Half the time they’ll make up the song on the spot by singing Scripture. It’s no surprise that such amazing music would come out of this House of Prayer. Both Cory Asbury and Pas Neos mentioned above have come out of Forerunner, the label associated with IHOP.

One of my favorite live albums that has come out of IHOP is Onething ’09. This is another great album to look into if you’re looking for more upbeat fast songs for your worship sessions.

Shane and Shane

Shane and Shane visited my campus one semester and a friend of mine couldn’t stop talking about how amazing their worship session was after they had left.

He was right. Shane and Shane had just released their album Pages which was full of some of the most intimate lyrics I had heard in a long time. They opened the show with one of my favorite songs of theirs, Vision of You. This was one of the most intense “inviting-the-presence” songs I had ever heard before. Their beautiful voices soared over the music and drew the entire audience into worship.

I only walked out of the room for a few minutes and that was so I could buy their album. I now own several of their albums and press you to listen to all of their works.

Matt Redman

Not only is Matt Redman a great worship artist, but he’s also a great author. Actually, I did a lot more reading of his books before I really got into his music. I mean, I knew his big hits like everyone else (like Better is One Day, Heart of Worship, and Dancing Generation), but I hadn’t really listened to a lot of his music up until recently.

Fortunately, because I had read some of his books before I got into his music, I was able to truly see the passion he had for leading and writing worship music. I was especially moved by his album 10,000 Reasons. It had great songs all the way through it and was full of true worship and praise. If you haven’t listened to this album yet, I suggest you buy it along with one of his books like The Unquenchable Worshipper or Mirror Ball.

David Crowder Band

 

David Crowder Band has always been one of my favorite bands, especially for their work on A Collision (Or 3+4=7) and their latest and final album Give Us Rest or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys]). Crowder has some of the most interesting and creative worship lyrics. Even more so, he has some of the most intriguing music. You can’t play half these songs at your church, mostly because they’re too amazing. Even some of their most simple worship songs that are played in churches all the time throw worship bands off. Sure the chords may be G D Em C, but you hold out the C an extra measure on this pre-chorus, two measures on the second one, and one and a half measures on the third.

But that’s David Crowder for you and you have to love it.

If you’re looking for a simple prayer closet album, check out his debut, All I Can Say, which many have overlooked in the success of his most recent albums.

And just a heads up: even though David Crowder Band is now officially broken up, most of the band members of DCB have started a new group called The Digital Age. They’ve released a few glimpses of what they sound like and it is AMAZING. Here’s a video of them doing their own take on All Sons & Daughters‘ song All the Poor and Powerless.

Chris Tomlin

Like I even have to mention Chris Tomlin. This guy has written (or at least made famous) many of the worship songs every contemporary church plays. This includes songs like: How Great is Our God, Our God, Forever, The Wonderful Cross, Famous One, We Fall Down, Indescribable, Holy is the Lord, Enough, Made to Worship, Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone), Jesus Messiah, God of This City, and I Will Rise.

Again, he didn’t write every one of these songs, but he at least made the majority of them famous. He’s perhaps the most well known worship leader because he writes some of the greatest, catchiest, thoughtful, wide-spread worship songs we’ve ever heard.

And if you like all of the Tomlin songs I just mentioned, just buy How Great is Our God: The Essential Collection, because I literally just gave you the track listing.

Worth Dying For

There are many other worship groups I could mention, but I want to end by mentioning a newer group called Worth Dying For. I discovered them when they released their album Love Riot and was captivated not only by the music, but by the genuinity of their worship. It was some of the best rocked out worship music I had heard in a long time. They also just put out an amazing live album Live Riot.
Also, feel free to download some of my own worship music for free here.

Jamin’s Top Albums of All Time

I’ve always wanted to let the world know what I believe are the best CDs ever created in the world. I will now do so. Please note, however, that I have a very wide variety of musical taste stretching from Motown to hard rock to electronic. So with no further ado: “JAMIN’S TOP ALBUMS OF ALL TIME!”

#11

Artist: Family Force 5
Album: Business Up Front / Party in the Back

Reasoning: Saw these guys live. Left with mixed feelings. Which you would too. Perhaps you already have mixed feelings just by looking at this album art. The dudes are weird. And in all honesty, the music is weird. It’s heavy, screamo, hip hop, electro, and incredibly fascinating. Ten stars for creativity and for being one of the only bands capable of pulling this kind of music off.

Quote:
I miss my first love bad
And it’s driving me mad
Just like a mixed up crazy person
Out of his head
It’s been a long long time
I’ve been on the decline
But now do a about face
So I can be replaced
180

#10

Artist: Paper Rings
Album: Paper Rings

Reasoning: Beautiful electronica, great vocals, creative music. These guys are still somewhat indie, but I’d say they have a lot going for them. Their unique sound could travel quite a distance. The only suggestion I could give is to alter the sound somewhat in the future, as some of the songs on this album kind of mesh together at some points with their familiar sound.

Quote:
My legs were weak and I travelled for miles
I heard your voice, but it took me awhile to see
My feet were cold but I knew it was fire
I felt Your hands, but it took me awhile to see
That You were here and I never looked back
That You would speak but I’d never take time to hear
You would whisper in the back of my ear
You took Your time and I followed Your voice from here

#9

Artist: Paper Route
Album: Absence

Reasoning: So there was this indie band I was in love with called For All the Drifters. They made the catchiest, most wonderful songs ever created by man kind. And now many of the members went all the way and got signed to Motown Records. It’s electronica rock, and they have one of the number one places in my heart as far as bands go. Their latest album absence is a must have and so I obviously suggest to you that you must have it. Soaring keyboards, awesome vocals, rockin’ guitars. What more could a man ask for? Also, you should note that when it comes to making catchy melodies, these guys are at the top of the food chain.

Quote:
On and on and on we go
Like a carousel that’s lost control
And we don’t know why
We don’t know why
We go, we go, we go in circles

#8

Artist: Jars of Clay
Album: The Long Fall Back to Earth

Reasoning: Jars of Clay has been around for many many years. Their first several albums were all hits in my heart. From acoustic to rock, these guys wrote beautiful songs. They right great chill music with inspiring lyrics. But for awhile they kind of went through a little bit of an awkward stage. But now they’ve totally revitalized their sound with their latest release “The Long Fall Back to Earth.” Their classic sound has now met the recent popular sound of electronica and all the noise of Jars of Clay has collided into their most beautiful album yet.

Quote:
Not to undermine the consequence
But you are not what you do
When you need it most
I have a hundred reasons why I love you

#7

Artist: David Crowder Band
Album: A Collision or (3+4=7)

Reasoning: David Crowder Band has always been on the far side of worship music. Sure, they’ve always been called a worship band, but they never conformed to the stereotypical sounds of worship music. In fact, this CD is one of the most varied CDs out there. Acoustic to rock, electronic to bluegrass, and much more. It’s very intelligent music and soothing to ears conformed to hear in a world full of unoriginal boring music.

Quote:
The heart breaking makes a sound
I never knew could be
So beautiful and loud
Fury filled and we
Collide

#6

Artist: MuteMath
Album: MuteMath

Reasoning: See MuteMath live and there’s no way you will leave without buying their album. The most insane drummer meets the most creative musicians, who in all honesty brought the sounds of electronica to mainstream radio. It seems they can all play any instrument and are incredible at all of their main instruments. The most energetic live concerts come from these guys and despite how long it took them to put out a new album, this self-titled release held it’s listeners until then.

Quote:
Can I break the spell
Of the typical?

#5

Artist: Coldplay
Album: Viva La Vida

Reasoning: Not gonna lie. I was freaked out about this album. I mean, how could Coldplay really make an album as unique and beautiful as X&Y? Surprise! They did! From start to finish, Coldplay created a masterpiece that could never be created by another band. And on top of that, being one of the top bands in the world they didn’t even sell out. Their music is far from stereotypical and is somehow continually changing. I can only be excited for their next release.

Quote:
You might be a big fish
In a little pond
Doesn’t mean you’ve won
‘Cause along may come
A bigger one

#4

Artist: For All the Drifters
Album:
Drifter

Reasoning: Ah yes. Some of the guys from the band Paper Route above. For All the Drifters was just an indie band, but they won a place in my heart and everyone else I know that has heard of them. This has to be the most fulfilling, catchiest EP of all time. Put it in, listen from start to finish, go to bed, repeat in the morning. There is nothing better than starting at the beginning of the album and hearing the noise of the CD stop spinning when this masterpiece comes to an end. Unfortunately, I have no idea will you’ll ever find it, but you can listen to some of their songs by clicking above. Or head over to listen to their new band Paper Route which is somewhat similar, but a little more electronica based.

Quote:
My hearts a perfect machine
It’s making beautiful beats
They’re hopeless without you

#3

Artist: Andy Hunter
Album: Exodus

Reasoning: Oh Andy. You have by far made the most fulfilling full album ever. So many genres of electronica. So many sounds of beauty. Fast songs. Slow songs. This CD never ceases to amaze me. Or stop. Their’s literally hardly any silence in this CD between tracks. It’s the most journey-like album I’ve ever heard and it will forever be one of my favorite albums of all time.

Quote:
I look into Your blinding light
You’ve opened up my eyes
Crystal tears, visions clear
Your glory touch the sun

#2

Artist: Switchfoot
Album: The Beautiful Letdown

Reasoning: My brother Jaron discovered Switchfoot first. Therefore I had the urgent need to dislike them. It’s not like we could like the same band, I mean how could we? But then again, I didn’t really care too much for their works before The Beautiful Letdown. And then I was late to really listen to this album. But when I finally came around, I was blown back. This CD has the most insane, convicting, thoughtful, powerful, beautiful, lyrics I have ever heard in my life. It also has a very unique sound and is catchy beyond belief. Sadly, I don’t know that Switchfoot could ever make an album better than this, but that’s okay. I don’t ever want to have to replace it.

Quote:
Maybe redemption is stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here


#1

Artist: BT
Album:
This Binary Universe

Reasoning: No lyrics in this album. Just the most brilliant composer the history of the world has ever seen. And that’s not an understatement. BT beats Mozart to a pulp. There has truly never been a more amazing artist because this guy understands music unlike anyone else. The theory and mathematics behind this music give me a headache. But it’s a good headache! It’s a headache that burns with goosebumps. Yeah, try figuring that one out. The truth is, this album doesn’t need words. This album has everything it needs in the music itself. It’s full of passion and intelligence and it is by far the most creative album that you could ever own. My favorite song would have to be Dynamic Symmetry, and if you’re looking to understand how strongly I mean to use the word brilliance, you should take a listen to that song, especially as it transfers all sorts of musical science on it’s way to a jazzy ending. There is really no real way to describe this album, so I encourage you to just go get it and find out for yourself. A quick note however, the iTunes album seems to be missing some tracks. Make sure you get the entire album, and not just the 2 or 3 tracks they’re offering.

Video: Behind Closed Doors

After hours of dreaming, writing, recording, drawing, and editing, Jammin with Jamin is happy to bring you “Behind Closed Doors: Issue #1 & 2.” Starring the voice acting of Taylor Keating and myself, Behind Closed Doors is a story of wonder, questions, and excitement. It is also a story based off of a dream of mine that I believe God inspired and then helped me fix up the missing pieces. You can also note that the whole series is 2 issues long, so you don’t have to be impatient waiting for the ending :P

Hope you enjoy it!