Riley Clemmons – Riley Clemmons: Review

Music review by Luchae Williams

American singing sensation, Riley Clemmons, released her self-titled debut album on August 4 2018. The 18-year old Christian-pop crooner was discovered at a school pageant in Nashville at the tender age of 13, but chose to continue with her schooling, while writing songs and honing her craft. And now, five years later, the songstress is newly signed to independent label, Maxx Recordings, with a debut video raking in more than 16 million views on Youtube earlier this year.

‘Broken Prayers’
The album’s debut single, Broken Prayers, was released in December 2017 and peaked at No 17 on the Hot Christian Songs chart. In a behind-the-song story posted on Youtube, Riley explains that the song came from a space of deep brokenness. “The song came from a place of truly finding peace in the fact that God takes you at your most broken, at your lowest place and at your roughest. And not only does He take you there, but He delights in it. And He genuinely loves you in that place.” The album features a piano version of the song as well, which nicely shows off Riley’s impressive vocal range and rich tone.

Second single, Better For It, has become a firm favourite and is already in regular rotation on Radio Disney. The track is a catchy, pop-infused faith song that basically speaks about God turning your ashes into beauty for your good and His glory. This one really had me hooked from the get go! It has a jivey hook and a fun element to it, which really makes it memorable.

This fresh-faced singer has received quite a lot of attention on Youtube. Her third music video, for the song Hold On, accumulated more than half a million views in less than two weeks. The song is definitely more of a contemporary dance track, aimed at a younger audience.

I was instantly drawn to ballad, Broke. It best highlights the singer’s smokey, textured vocal and I love the soulful, almost sultry sound of the song. The melody is really beautiful and the message behind the song is quite powerful. She sings: “With you/I don’t need to hide/that I’m a little broke inside/you love me when I’m broke inside.” This is a must listen!

Another ballad that really moved me was the piano driven Drop Everything. The song is both skilfully written and composed and Riley adds just the right amount of drama and depth, vocally. The song speaks about quietening external voices, to hear from God. Riley sings: “I’ve been talking too much/Now I’m listening.”

Other songs worth noting include the EDM-infused Running After You that speaks about chasing after God. You First is a funky, soul-filled ode to God, that says: “I love how You love me/At my best and worst/…I’ve got scars/But you call them beautiful…”

With a strong start, Riley Clemmons’ introduction to the Christian music arena is definitely one to take note of. Well-written songs that feature incredible vocal performances and really fun, catchy compositions are what you can expect from this offering. If Christian-pop is your scene, you should definitely give this one a go. If not, her ballads are worth a listen! I am looking forward to hearing more music from this songstress.

Eric Metaxas — Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World: Book review

October 2017 marked the 500th anniversary of the action that is considered to have sparked the enormous religious and social changes known as the Reformation.

That a humble monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of Wittenburg Castle Church in October 1517, traditionally on the 31st, is well-known. This has become an iconic symbol of defiance against the Catholic Church.

This current anniversary period has seen a great deal of activity in publishing circles and a plethora of books aimed at bringing further understanding of this remarkable time in history have been produced.

In this particular biography, Eric Metaxas has sought to debunk many of the myths that have emerged over the centuries concerning Luther.

For example, he has much to say regarding the posting on the cathedral door that sheds a somewhat different light on the matter. The 95 Theses, (or criticisms) was only intended by Luther as an invitation to academic debate. In those days, church doors regularly served as notice boards. It is also likely that in fact the church custodian did the actual posting, which may well have involved paste rather than hammer and nails.

But such was the significance of the events triggered by this invitation to debate, as well as, and perhaps more importantly, by a letter Luther wrote at the time regarding the practice of indulgences, that history has assigned a great deal of drama to this supposed act of defiance.

However, at this early stage in his life, Luther was extremely respectful towards the Church and its leaders and sought only to bring to attention certain things that he felt needed to be changed for the good of the Church.

A large factor in propelling Luther’s thoughts and ideas into the public arena, and one that he originally did not anticipate, was the emergence at that time of the printing press. Since in those early days of publishing, copyright was not even a concept, Luther was originally unaware of how his thoughts and ideas could and did spread.

The printing press of course also gave people the opportunity to read the Bible for themselves. Previous to this, not many leaders in the Church even read the Bible, so interpretation had strayed very far from that of the original New Testament Church.

I thoroughly enjoyed this insightful book, which is written in an entertaining, engaging and elegant style.

I was fascinated to discover how this reformation went so far beyond the Church and to understand how very different life was when the masses were told what to think and were totally accepting of this.

Also of interest was the fact that many who originally supported Luther became much more radical and revolutionary than he was himself, and he became very critical of these former friends.

A disturbing feature of Luther’s life was a pamphlet he penned in which he vilified Jewish people, and which was later used by Hitler to justify the Holocaust. Apart from this aberration, Luther is portrayed as a man of deep godliness, integrity and courage. It remains a mystery as to why, during a certain period of his life he authored an anti-Semitic pamphlet, yet before and after this, he seems to have held a different, more compassionate view of Jews.

There is so much more I could say about what I learned regarding this formative time in Western culture and about this somewhat enigmatic man that was Martin Luther, one-time monk and later family man.

Suffice to say I considered this a very worthwhile read.

Aretha Franklin, the ‘Queen of Soul’, Dies at 76

Originally published in Urban Christian News

Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang with matchless style on such classics as Think, I Say a Little Prayer and her signature song, Respect, and stood as a cultural icon around the globe, has died at age 76 from pancreatic cancer.

She died yesterday morning at her home in Detroit — “one of the darkest moments of our lives,” her family said, in a statement released to The Associated Press by publicist Gwendolyn Quinn.

“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world,” the family said, adding that funeral arrangements would be announced in coming days.

Franklin, who had battled undisclosed health issues in recent years, had announced her retirement from touring last year.

A professional singer and accomplished pianist by her late teens, a superstar by her mid-20s, Franklin had long ago settled any arguments over who was the greatest popular vocalist of her time. Her gifts, natural and acquired, were a multi-octave mezzo-soprano, gospel passion and training worthy of a preacher’s daughter, taste sophisticated and eccentric, and the courage to channel private pain into liberating song.

“She was truly one of a kind,” said Clive Davis, the music mogul who brought her to Arista Records and helped revive her career in the 1980s. “She was more than the Queen of Soul. She was a national treasure to be cherished by every generation throughout the world.”

She recorded hundreds of tracks and had dozens of hits over the span of a half century, including 20 that reached No 1 on the R&B charts. But her reputation was defined by an extraordinary run of top 10 smashes in the late 1960s, from the morning-after bliss of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, to the wised-up Chain of Fools to her unstoppable call for Respect.

Her records sold millions of copies and the music industry couldn’t honor her enough. Franklin won 18 Grammy awards. In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Fellow singers bowed to her eminence. Said Smokey Robinson, who grew up with her in Detroit: “This morning my longest friend in this world went home to be with our Father. I will miss her so much but I know she’s at peace.”

Political and civic leaders treated her as a peer. Rev Martin Luther King Jr was a longtime friend, and she sang at the dedication of King’s memorial, in 2011. She performed at the inaugurations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and at the funeral for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. Clinton gave Franklin the National Medal of Arts. President George W Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2005.

Bill and Hillary Clinton issued a statement mourning the loss of their friend and “one of America’s greatest treasures”. For more than 50 years, they said, Franklin “stirred our souls. She was elegant, graceful, and utterly uncompromising in her artistry”.

Franklin’s best-known appearance with a president was in January 2009, when she sang My Country ’tis of Thee at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. She wore a gray felt hat with a huge, Swarovski rhinestone-bordered bow that became an internet sensation and even had its own website. In 2015, she brought Obama and others to tears with a triumphant performance of Natural Woman at a Kennedy Center tribute to the song’s co-writer, Carole King.

Franklin endured the exhausting grind of celebrity and personal troubles dating back to childhood. She was married from 1961 to 1969 to her manager, Ted White, and their battles are widely believed to have inspired her performances on several songs, including (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone, Think and her heartbreaking ballad of despair, Ain’t No Way. The mother of two sons by age 16 (she later had two more), she was often in turmoil as she struggled with her weight, family problems and financial predicaments. Her best known producer, Jerry Wexler, nicknamed her “Our Lady of Mysterious Sorrows.”

Franklin married actor Glynn Turman in 1978 in Los Angeles but returned to her hometown of Detroit the following year after her father was shot by burglars and left semi-comatose until his death in 1984. She and Turman divorced that year.

Despite growing up in Detroit, and having Robinson as a childhood friend, Franklin never recorded for Motown Records; stints with Columbia and Arista were sandwiched around her prime years with Atlantic Records. But it was at Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church, where her father was pastor, that Franklin learned the gospel fundamentals that would make her a soul institution.

Aretha Louise Franklin was born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee. The Rev CL Franklin soon moved his family to Buffalo, New York, then to Detroit, where the Franklins settled after the marriage of Aretha’s parents collapsed and her mother (and reputed sound-alike) Barbara returned to Buffalo.

CL Franklin was among the most prominent Baptist ministers of his time. He recorded dozens of albums of sermons and music and knew such gospel stars as Marion Williams and Clara Ward, who mentored Aretha and her sisters Carolyn and Erma. (Both sisters sang on Aretha’s records, and Carolyn also wrote Ain’t No Way and other songs for Aretha). Music was the family business and performers from Sam Cooke to Lou Rawls were guests at the Franklin house. In the living room, the shy young Aretha awed friends with her playing on the grand piano.

Franklin occasionally performed at New Bethel Baptist throughout her career; her 1987 gospel album One Lord One Faith One Baptism was recorded live at the church.

Her most acclaimed gospel recording came in 1972 with the Grammy-winning album Amazing Grace, which was recorded live at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles and featured gospel legend James Cleveland, along with her own father (Mick Jagger was one of the celebrities in the audience). It became one of of the best-selling gospel albums ever.

The piano she began learning at age 8 became a jazzy component of much of her work, including arranging as well as songwriting. “If I’m writing and I’m producing and singing, too, you get more of me that way, rather than having four or five different people working on one song,” Franklin told The Detroit News in 2003.

Franklin was in her early teens when she began touring with her father, and she released a gospel album in 1956 through J-V-B Records. Four years later, she signed with Columbia Records producer John Hammond, who called Franklin the most exciting singer he had heard since a vocalist he promoted decades earlier, Billie Holiday. Franklin knew Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr and considered joining his label, but decided it was just a local company at the time.

Franklin recorded several albums for Columbia Records over the next six years. She had a handful of minor hits, including Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody and Runnin’ Out of Fools, but never quite caught on as the label tried to fit into her a variety of styles, from jazz and show songs to such pop numbers as Mockingbird. Franklin jumped to Atlantic Records when her contract ran out, in 1966.

“But the years at Columbia also taught her several important things,” critic Russell Gersten later wrote. “She worked hard at controlling and modulating her phrasing, giving her a discipline that most other soul singers lacked. She also developed a versatility with mainstream music that gave her later albums a breadth that was lacking on Motown LPs from the same period.

“Most important, she learned what she didn’t like: to do what she was told to do.”

At Atlantic, Wexler teamed her with veteran R&B musicians from Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, and the result was a tougher, soulful sound, with call-and-response vocals and Franklin’s gospel-style piano, which anchored I Say a Little Prayer, Natural Woman and others.

Of Franklin’s dozens of hits, none was linked more firmly to her than the funky, horn-led march Respect and its spelled out demand for “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

Writing in Rolling Stone magazine in 2004, Wexler said: “There are songs that are a call to action. There are love songs. There are sex songs. But it’s hard to think of another song where all those elements are combined.”

Franklin had decided she wanted to “embellish” the R&B song written by Otis Redding, whose version had been a modest hit in 1965, Wexler said.

“When she walked into the studio, it was already worked out in her head,” the producer wrote. “Otis came up to my office right before ‘Respect’ was released, and I played him the tape. He said, ‘She done took my song.’ He said it benignly and ruefully. He knew the identity of the song was slipping away from him to her.”

In a 2004 interview with the St Petersburg (Florida) Times, Franklin was asked whether she sensed in the ’60s that she was helping change popular music.

“Somewhat, certainly with Respect, that was a battle cry for freedom and many people of many ethnicities took pride in that word,” she answered. “It was meaningful to all of us.”

In 1968, Franklin was pictured on the cover of Time magazine and had more than 10 Top 20 hits in 1967 and 1968. At a time of rebellion and division, Franklin’s records were a musical union of the church and the secular, man and woman, black and white, North and South, East and West. They were produced and engineered by New Yorkers Wexler and Tom Dowd, arranged by Turkish-born Arif Mardin and backed by an interracial assembly of top session musicians based mostly in Alabama.

Her popularity faded during the 1970s despite such hits as the funky Rock Steady and such acclaimed albums as the intimate Spirit in the Dark. But her career was revived in 1980 with a cameo appearance in the smash movie The Blues Brothers and her switch to Arista. Franklin collaborated with such pop and soul artists as Luther Vandross, Elton John, Whitney Houston and George Michael, with whom she recorded a No 1 single, I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me). Her 1985 album Who’s Zoomin’ Who received some of her best reviews and included such hits as the title track and Freeway of Love.

Critics consistently praised Franklin’s singing but sometimes questioned her material; she covered songs by Stephen Sondheim, Bread, the Doobie Brothers. For Aretha, anything she performed was “soul.”

From her earliest recording sessions, she defied category. The 1998 Grammys gave her a chance to demonstrate her range. Franklin performed Respect, then, with only a few minutes’ notice, filled in for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti and drew rave reviews for her rendition of Nessun Dorma, a stirring aria for tenors from Puccini’s Turandot.

“I’m sure many people were surprised, but I’m not there to prove anything,” Franklin told The Associated Press. “Not necessary.”

Fame never eclipsed Franklin’s charitable works, or her loyalty to Detroit.

Franklin sang the national anthem at Super Bowl in her hometown in 2006, after grousing that Detroit’s rich musical legacy was being snubbed when the Rolling Stones were chosen as halftime performers.

“I didn’t think there was enough (Detroit representation) by any means,” she said. “And it was my feeling, ‘How dare you come to Detroit, a city of legends — musical legends, plural — and not ask one or two of them to participate?’ That’s not the way it should be.”

Franklin did most of her extensive touring by bus after Redding’s death in a 1967 plane crash, and a rough flight to Detroit in 1982 left her with a fear of flying that anti-anxiety tapes and classes couldn’t help. She told Time in 1998 that the custom bus was a comfortable alternative: “You can pull over, go to Red Lobster. You can’t pull over at 35 000 feet.”

Aretha Franklin performs at the world premiere of “Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives” at Radio City Music Hall in 2017.

She only released a few albums over the past two decades, including A Rose is Still a Rose, which featured songs by Sean “Diddy” Combs, Lauryn Hill and other contemporary artists, and So Damn Happy, for which Franklin wrote the gratified title ballad. Franklin’s autobiography, Aretha: From These Roots, came out in 1999, when she was in her 50s. But she always made it clear that her story would continue.

“Music is my thing, it’s who I am. I’m in it for the long run,” she told The Associated Press in 2008. “I’ll be around, singing, ‘What you want, baby I got it.’ Having fun all the way.”

Wife of Christian rock star appeals for prayer after his seizure on stage

Annie Lobert and Oz Fox who had a seizure while performing in Las Vegas on Saturday August 12.

Originally published in Premier

Oz Fox, from Christian rock band Stryper, had a seizure on stage and partner Annie Lobert has set up a page to raise money for his recovery.

On Sunday August 12, Fox collapsed during a gig in Las Vegas playing for another band and was taken straight to hospital.

The Californian band Stryper released an official statement, saying: “After performing an MRI, doctors discovered an area of concern near his brain which they are now running a biopsy on. The doctors have instructed him not to drive or fly for 90 days. No additional information is available at this time. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers and we will communicate additional information as it becomes available.”

They add that he still plans to tour with them but in the meantime a Go Fund Me page has been set up by his wife, Annie Lobert, as he doesn’t have health insurance.

The page says: “We don’t know how much the brain biopsies will cost, nor what will happen when we get the results back — whether he will need more surgery to remove any tumours or treatment plans for healing.”

Annie Lobert wrote on Facebook that “this has messed me up!” but added that she was reminded of 2 Chronicles 20: Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

Lobert appealed to his fans: “So here is what I’m asking all of you to do — believe that God is good — worship with us and pray with us as we head into this battle.

“We trust God no matter what. This is how we fight our battles — it may look like we’re surrounded but God is surrounding us.

“Oz says he just wants to get home and play his guitar — get better and get back on stage.”

Stryper formed in 1983, making music that was openly Christian and receiving mainstream success, being the first band to ever have two songs in MTV’s Top 10 simultaneously with their hits Free and Honestly.

PE church hosting Christian art exhibition

From August 13 to 23 2018, Harvest Christian Church in Port Elizabeth will be hosting a themed art exhibition by local Christian artists.

“The exhibition is open to all Christian artists who wish to glorify God and showcase their God-given talents”, said Ken Holloway who is the creative pastor at Harvest.

The exhibition will take place at The HubCafé at the church in Albert Road, Walmer

Local artists are encouraged to submit their pieces by Monday the 13th, selections will be done by Wednesday  August 15. There is no entry fee and all submissions will be curated by a panel and selected pieces will be exhibited and displayed at Harvest as well as online. Unselected pieces will only be displayed and categorised online. However, all submissions will be offered for sale.

The organisers of the exhibition have invited more than 100 local artists and the response has been excellent, but they cannot yet confirm the number of participants.

The theme for the debut exhibition is “Deeper”, and is left open for interpretation by the artist, said Holloway.

This biblically-inspired theme is found in the following scriptures: “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above — what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below – what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea.” — Job 11:7-9 (NIV) and Ephesians 3:18 (NLT)  —“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”

The church has released a statement on the selection criteria, one of which is that only original pieces — no copies — will be accepted

Some of the funds raised at the exhibition will be allocated to the Harvest Missions Poor Fund.

For more information, please contact Harvest Christian Church at +27 41 5813032 or or visit the church at 90 Albert Road, Walmer, Port Elizabeth.

Christian millennials in documentary say they have been lied to about Israel — Charles Gardner

A Fatah representative addresses the millennial study tour group in front of a security wall

‘There is no occupation,’ Arab pastor tells shocked young tourists

An international group of millennials have seen the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a new light after engaging with both sides – and being shocked by what they discovered.

A party of eleven young people from seven nations were brought together for the chance to understand issues from the point of view of those living there.

They were deliberately not primed to view things from any particular perspective in order to allow them to form their own conclusions through interviews and talks with representatives of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Their three-week trip was recorded on film for a feature-length documentary called Quest for Truth, now available on YouTube (See below).

It was produced by Generation 2 Generation, a UK-based organisation founded by Andrew, Daniella and Daphne Kirk committed to inspiring the next generation with an uncompromising passion for Jesus and the gospel.

The group – from Germany, the USA, the UK, Norway, Japan, Brazil and South Africa – were introduced to community leaders in the Palestinian territories as well as in Israel itself.

A South African education student, Bongi, was among the study tour group.

Not surprisingly, most of them are strongly influenced by social media which generally portrays a narrative of Israel as big bullies of an oppressed people. Media bias had shaped their perception of the conflict, and they were profoundly shocked to discover that the truth was very different.

“I’ve been lied to,” said one. “You realise how false these stories are,” said another.

The Deputy Mayor of Bethlehem, Essam Juha, was forced to explain why a swastika was inscribed into the fabric of the hotel where they met him. He said it was because Israel had humiliated nations in the same way they had been treated.

“It was so hard for me to keep a straight face,” said Marlea, from New Orleans. “How dare they make that comparison (with the Holocaust)?”

After hearing how Palestinians see the Israelis as occupiers of their land, they were taken aback by the response of Arab pastor, Naim Khoury, who asked: “What occupation?” And as he turned towards the windows, he added: “Where is the occupation? We are completely under the Palestinian Authority.”

The point was further brought home by a member of the group, who observed: “I have not seen one IDF (Israeli Defence Force) soldier, or Israeli flag.” They also learnt that the throwing of rocks – and even Molotov cocktails – at Israeli soldiers is seen by Fatah, the PA’s ruling party, as non-violent activity.

A further learning curve involved meeting Col Danny Tirza, architect of the notorious security wall built to keep out terrorists, who said he wanted to be the first to begin taking it down when peace finally came. But in the meantime the murder rate from terrorism had been cut by 90%. He said that those whose land had been split by the wall – only five per cent of which is concrete; the rest being a much more discreet wire fence – are offered compensation, but refuse to accept it for fear of being labelled collaborators.

Graffiti on the wall betrays the true ambition of Palestinian agitators, with a map showing all of geographical Israel as theirs. They have no wish to share the land, or establish a state beside Israel. They want all of it. As historian Dr Michael Brown put it: “If the Palestinians put down their weapons there’d be no more war; if Israel put down their weapons, there’d be no more Israel.”

An ex-IDF soldier said: “They use our moral standards against us.” As an example, he explained how a terrorist suspect fled to a crowded residential area, knowing they wouldn’t open fire if civilians were at risk. And when the military had the place surrounded, the fugitive duly appeared on the roof in a bid to escape, at which point they shot him in the leg. But while supporting medics were bandaging him up, the soldiers were pelted with huge rocks. Israelis risk death because of the great value they place on life.

Further observations on the Palestinians included – “They are victims of their own hatred” and “They are suffering a lot because of radical people in their community.”
In the southern city of Sderot, meanwhile, a rocket-proof playground has had to be built for children so that, when sirens warn of regular incoming missiles from Hamas in nearby Gaza, the kids have an immediate bolt-hole.

The youngsters hear from Israeli-supporting Stand with Us representative Shevy Kass on a visit to Sderot.

The group also visited Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum where a tearful young British woman, Megan, was visibly shocked by the way her country – in charge of the region then known as Palestine – closed the doors to Jews trying to escape Nazi-occupied Europe. And on the question of Israel practicing apartheid – a charge widely disseminated by the liberal left – she added: “I haven’t seen any evidence of it.”

Dr Brown emphasised the need for Israel’s self-defence by saying that anti-Semitic levels are as high now as they were immediately before the Holocaust. A Brazilian member added: “I believe the biggest reason for anti-Semitism is lack of knowledge.” And a German youth said: “The greatest enemy of anti-Semitism is the truth.”

Fun-filled Christian Feast of Tabernacles in Pretoria on September 29

Pretoria residents are invited to witness and celebrate the first public “Feast of Tabernacles — Praise in the Garden” in the city at the Pretoria National Botanical Gardens on Saturday September 29.

Organiser of the event, Ezna Marshall, said this family fun-filled day will change one’s heart and soul.

“Bring your family and friends to honour and thank God and proclaim the return of Jesus Christ through praise, worship, music and dance!”

The Christian version of the important, joyful Jewish festival celebrating God’s provision, points to the Second Coming of Jesus.

Marshall said one of the main reasons for the event was to bring the community together. There will be an upmarket feast market where various ministries will showcase what they do, and interesting products will be sold. There will be food vendors, a jumping castle and face painting for the kids. Praise dancers and the Abreu Band will be performing at the market throughout the day.

She said the day will kick off with a praise walk, praising God in the gardens, while dancers from Marshall’s, Nexus Creative Arts Ministry will lead the way with banners and flags — all the while proclaiming Jesus as King.

“Everyone is invited to join in,” she said.

Then later on the main event will commence as groups of praise dancers from across the country will perform choreographed depiction of the theme of the feast. The artists included in the evening celebration will be Heinz Winckler, Renee and Liezel Marshall. Liezel & Worship Band will also be leading all present into a praise and worship session.

To Marshall the Feast of Tabernacles is an opportunity for Christians to renew their hope in Jesus, proclaiming his Second Coming, as the bride, who waits upon her bridegroom.

She also wants to help the needy by choosing a charity that will benefit from the event. She has taken hands with SA Cares for Life.

Tickets to the event are available online with, at the gate on the day or on the Facebook page Nexus Creative Arts Ministry. For more information contact Ezna Marshall at:

Pat Barrett — Pat Barrett: Review

Pat BarrettMusic review by Luchae Williams

Prolific singer and songwriter, Pat Barrett, of Housefires fame, released his self-titled debut album on July 20 2018.

You may remember the worship leader as a primary vocalist and songwriter for the Atlanta-based worship ensemble, Housefires. He also co-wrote award-winning worship song, Good Good Father and has penned a children’s book, with the same name, with Christian music super star, Chris Tomlin.

Barrett was signed as a flagship artist on Tomlin’s new record label, Bowyer & Bow. He shared: “As a worship leader and songwriter, Chris has been such an influential person in my life and to have him be a guiding voice as I take these next steps is really meaningful. My heart in all of this is that these songs would help all of us lift our eyes and connect (or reconnect) with God in a way that impacts our real, everyday lives.”

“I’m excited to have a song that’s singing Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and that also acknowledges doubt and fear, without giving it the platform.”

Into Faith
Barrett’s piercing vocal hit me square in the heart, with the opening lines of the first track, Into Faith I Go, saying: “I’ve never been good at change/ If I’m honest, it’s always scared me/But I can’t deny the stirring deep inside me/And I know it’s time to stop resisting.” I was immediately so impressed by the quality of the singer’s vocals… wow! The track is a reflective, profound ballad that speaks about holding on to your faith even when it’s not easy.

I love Barrett’s take on the traditional, classic refrain “God is so Good”. Titled God Is So Good (You Are Worthy), the track starts off with a funky bass and percussion intro, followed by a sturdy first verse that leads us into the popular chorus: “God is so good/He’s so good to me.” My absolute favorite part of the track is when Barrett shoots off into free worship, the longing and passion in his voice so evident, as he sings about the goodness of God. Goosebumps!

First single, The Way (New Horizon), hit No. 12 on the Christian Airplay chart. This ballad is through and through a beautiful devotion and will have you singing the actual Word: He is the way, the truth and the life! Again, Barrett’s vocal totally brings this one home, with just the right amount of soul, grit and earnestness, adding a depth to the song.

Other interesting worship moments on the album include the melodic, guitar driven Everything Is Sacred and the emotive, Better, that says: “Your love is better than life/You are the well that won’t run dry/I have tasted and I have seen/Oh, You are better than all these things.”

If you’re looking for the more congregational track, you’ll enjoy Build My Life and My Hallelujah. Other notable tracks include contemporary Christian song, Sparrows and Lillies, which features a memorable hook and a bluegrass sound.

I was also really impressed with duet, Sails, featuring Bethel Music girls, Steffany Gretzinger and Amanda Cook. This quiet, spiritually deep ballad speaks about being vulnerable before the Lord. Gretzinger and Cook add another layer of excellence to Barrett’s already impressive vocal game, and you can’t help but be blown away by the sheer beauty of their voices. The song’s melody is catchy, tender and easy to remember. The lyrics are profound and probably something you’ll put on repeat when you’re going through a particularly challenging season.

Pat Barrett’s self-titled debut offering is definitely one to take note of! The big songs are impacting and commanding and the quiet ones are powerful and passionate. Pat Barrett’s 15-year long journey of digging spiritual wells, in the music industry, has certainly paid off! His voice is impeccable and his writing style is impressive. I highly recommend this album!

New book reveals why Jesus means everything to US Super Bowl winners

The Philadelphia Eagles praying after winning a game in November 2017. (PHOTO: Faith Wire)

Originally published in CBN News

Back in February, millions of football fans watched the Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl for the first time in history, defeating the legendary New England Patriots.

But what also took centre stage was the Eagles players’ bold faith and eagerness to give God the glory for their win.

Now, Christian author Joshua Cooley is taking fans deep inside the faith lives of quarterback Nick Foles and five other Eagles players in his new best-selling book titled The Biggest Win.

“Rarely, if ever, have I spoken to a group of professional athletes so committed to pursuing biblical truth together,” Cooley said. “But I was immediately struck by their unquenchable hunger for scripture and their commitment to genuine Christian discipleship, accountability, and obedience to Great Commission living.”

Cooley told CBN News their faith “affects everything they do” in their personal lives and professional lives.

Fans got a peak early last year when a picture of the players praying while wide receiver Marcus Johnson was baptised in a North Carolina swimming pool before a game went viral.

Another video of linebackers Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks, Kamu Grugier-Hill, and wide receivers Paul Turner and David Watford being baptised in the Philadelphia Eagles’ recovery pool late last year also got thousands of views.

The courageous faith of a few players has lead multiple people to Christ, Cooley shared.

“They told a story a couple of seasons ago of a rookie player who came to know the Lord in the hotel room that they were staying in one night just because of the witness of the players,” he said. “They play for a higher purpose than themselves and that just manifests itself every day.”

One way they minister to each other is by taking time to meet off the field.

“They make personal time with each other, personal time both as a team and as individuals,” Cooley explained. “That’s something I want readers to take away from this book, is that we can gather together in Christian community. We can use sports to do that … Sports creates community that you sometimes don’t get anywhere else.”

Cooley believes the Philadelphia Eagles can teach other NFL players something important about giving glory where glory is due. Foles and his teammates say it in their own words in the forward of The Biggest Win.

“We love football. We love what we do. But football is just a game. And one day we will retire from football. But becoming a follower of Jesus Christ means our identity doesn’t have to be in our latest performance on the field — our identity is in Christ. Following Jesus means that our purpose is larger than being the best athlete. We have a whole new life of meaning, purpose, and service that will last longer than our football careers and have more impact in the world than anything we could accomplish on the field,” they write.

It’s a message Cooley hopes all his readers take away from the book.

“It was so neat to see these six guys give glory to where it was really due which is to our Creator — the One who gave these guys their gifts. If we don’t get that right then we have completely missed the boat,” he told CBN News. “No matter what sport you play, no matter what level you play at, it’s all about giving glory to the One who created you.”

Watch CBN News’ interview with Joshua Cooley below:

Dr Caroline Leaf in SA, Namibia in August

Switch On Your Brain author Dr Caroline Leaf will be touring South Africa and Namibia in August to promote her new book Think Learn Succeed which is in stores now and to speak at church conferences and services around the country.

Leaf, who was born in South Africa, but lives in the US with her husband and four children, is a cognitive neuroscientist who has extensively researched the science of thought and the mind-brain connection as it relates to thinking, learning, renewing the mind, gifting, and potential.

She is also the author of Think and Eat Yourself Smart, and The Perfect You, amongst many other books and journal articles, is a sought-after international conference speaker and has her own television show.

Her latest book, which is also available in Afrikaans as Dink Leer Floreer explores how our thought lives have incredible power over our mental, emotional, and even physical well-being. Our thoughts can either limit us to what we believe we can do or release us to experience abilities well beyond our expectations.

She says: “Today, most people can access vast amounts of information, yet few people know how to process this information, using it to be successful at school, work, and life. As a result, grades drop, dreams are crushed, and goals are never achieved.”

Here itinerary in Southern Africa is:

Pretoria – August 4 (Moreleta Park – Healing Summit)

Cape Town August 5 (Hillsong – Sunday services)

Cape Town August 9 (2pm book-signing at CUM Books, Canal Walk)

Cape Town – August 11 (CRC – Woman’s Conference)

Port Elizabeth – August 18 (The Father’s House – Woman’s Conference)

Windhoek – August 24/25 (Windhoek Country Club – Conference)

Durban – August 27/28 (New Covenant Fellowship – Conference)