Category Archives: Music

Time To Get Personal: “Leave” by Michael W. Smith

LEAVE by MichaelWSmith

I first heard this song a few weeks ago when Michael W. Smith came to Willow Creek to do a Concert / Service for Labor Day weekend.  Before sharing the song, Smith shared with us some insight as to what prompted him to write the piece.  I remember being quite moved and encouraged because I feel that too often church has become a place where perfect problem-less people come together and praise God.  It felt good to know that Smith realized he may receive some flack about the song, but that he felt that Willow Creek was a place where the song would be well received.

In recent weeks the news has seemed to overflow with stories of young people committing suicide, church leaders standing accused of moral and ethical misconduct, and other stories of gross injustice.  I’ve been disheartened to hear people in the media being referenced as Christians but unable to offer more than short-sighted, shallow, and super-spiritualized responses to these situations.  I’m not advocating that Christians should have all the answers… I am saying that we as a body need to come a LONG way when it comes to authenticity about the human experience.  There are staggering numbers of people hurting inside and outside of the church and it is my hope that we grow a sincere compassion -to suffer with– those who are hurting and to offer the hope that is our Gospel.

The topic of this song is a heavy one – abuse.  Check it out and share any thoughts in the comment section. (Lyrics below) Continue reading Time To Get Personal: “Leave” by Michael W. Smith

Should We “Do The Church Dance”?

Check out the video from and my thoughts below.

Would Darren “Do The Church Dance”? Anyone who knows me well would probably quickly say “YES” because I’m known to dance – and on occasion break a sweat doing so.  But the continued enjoyment of dancing hasn’t come without much consideration in my Christian life.  In fact, when I first had my born-again experience in 1998, I quickly stopped dancing all-together because I associated it with being “worldly” and leading to “sinful behavior”.  That was my conviction then, but it was probably fueled more by zeal and shallow thinking.  It’s probably didn’t help much that the church I was part of at the time didn’t condone any dance other than that modified two-step or an equivalent of bucking around wildly. (Full disclosure… I could “cut a step” with the rest of ’em!)

However, as I grew and studied the word, I came to realize that dance (and music) aren’t strictly the devil’s territory.  I eventually found a renewed desire to express myself through dance – and to do so in praise to God.   I also learned that much of what we disdain in church has more to do with our cultural objections (and fears) than with transcendent biblical truth.

I posted the “Do The Church Dance” video on my Facebook page and (as to be expected) was met with mixed reactions.  I’m also following the comments on pages of several friends who posted it.  Mostly there are LOL’s about the video, but by the comments a few people have taken offense.  I’m curious to get others perspective on why this is offensive to them.  Many seem to consider this ‘inappropriate’ for church – and while I wouldn’t lead a congregation in a round of it, I don’t think it’s ‘wrong’ or making fun of the church.  (They do a STRING of dances you can see in many African-American churches on any given Sunday!)

On one of the comment threads, I shared this in considering the opinion that church should be reverent/reserved.

Listening to the lyrics (while not life changing) he talked about living his life differently than the way his contemporaries are living. I think he also is encouraging people to dance and express themselves in the dance style that is familiar to them – while incorporating some ‘moves’ from the previous generations.

I think the modern “hip-hop” styling and dancing may be challenging to many – especially for people from traditionally reverent worship communities. But this is true in the same way that the introduction of the Hammond B-3 organ was considered the devil’s instrument and inappropriate for the church (the “B” stood for BAR – like where people go to Drink).

I think people generally are cautious about cultural things that relate back to areas that were sinful for them in the past and for good reason.  We can’t just go about life without giving consideration to what influences us.  But in considering history, I think this will pan out in similar ways to the contributions of Thomas Dorsey (great video link!) and Mahalia Jackson, or more recently songs like “Oh Happy Day” – in their time, they were considered worldly and inappropriate – but today they are “traditional” and “old school” church!

What are your thoughts?  Would you defend or support releases like “Do The Church Dance”?

Blogging LIVE from the Road “If You’re Out There”

I’m on the road now with three friends heading to Tylertown, Mississippi for the funeral of the father of a good friend of ours.  I’m having a bit of a geek moment enjoying the fact that I’m on my laptop with internet access thanks to AT&T and the iPhone (only getting Edge coverage though… but it’s good enough!).

We’re only about an hour and a half into being on the road for real (made a few stops before really getting moving).  We’ve already had one great road trip song: “if you’re out there” by John Legend.  I hadn’t heard the song since the time of the election – but we certainly went to church in the car listening to it!

I’m going to try and check in from time to time even though this will only be a short trip.  We’ll be right back on the road coming home to Chicago after the funeral.   In the mean time, I’m going to attempt to get some of this backlog of work done.  For now, check out the video and I’ll talk to you guys soon!

My First iPhone App Purchase: FourTrack 2.0

DC – Wrap Me In Your Arms (mp3 – click to listen)

iphone_ftscreenshotWow – that’s my response to my first experience with Multi-Track recording on the iPhone using FourTrack (Apple app store link).  It’s pretty impressive what I was able to do with little to no difficulty!  I really could have invested more time into making a better recording, but I just wanted to see how difficult it would be.  This was SUPER easy and intuitive for me.  I actually had some nostalgia thinking of my Dad and how he would have loved something like this.  He spent hours creating and recording his own music with various forms of technology.

Anyway, check out my first recording.  I’ll be the first to say, the pitch is a bit off – but that’s my fault for not getting a key center before I started recording.  This was just for fun.

Technical notes: this is actually a 6-track recording that after ‘bouncing’ or re-recording all the separate channels into one channel I imported into Audacity to add reverb and convert to mp3 format.

I did begin to get memory usage warnings, but that was only after recording a 4th track and I never experienced any trouble recording.  There were a few times where the program would lock up during playback, but exiting using the home key and returning to the program loaded everything again without error.

Transferring the files via WiFi went without a hitch as well.  I can see this app consuming hours of my creative time. 😆

Mighty to Save

Zephaniah 3:15 says “The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy…” and verse 17 goes on to remind us that God is with us, delighting us, loving us, and even singing about US. Tonight I had a long conversation with a friend who was feeling the guilt of sin and failure. In all of that he was frustrated the discrepancy between where he wanted to be spiritually and where he was in that moment. I’ve been there myself, but this scripture brings out a GREAT point about the Grace of God that applies in his situation as well. Continue reading Mighty to Save

Restless with Wonder

Worship on June 6, 2009
Photo © 2009 S. Bailey

Wow! This week at the Willow Creek Arts Conference, Nancy Beach encouraged us to embrace the “wow” moments that we often look past. This week has been a continual state of ‘wow’. I’m so full of wonder and inspiration to dig deeper, stretch further, and grow more as a creative professional, as a worship leader, and as a Christ-follower. I’m embracing a greater awareness my calling and the experience that God has equipped me with. My idle thoughts are racing with new realizations and greater aspirations. I’m seeing this new energy affect things around me.  Taking risks and responsibilities that I wouldn’t have taken before. Continue reading Restless with Wonder

To hear you say “I Love You”

To Hear You Say I Love You - modified from

Time to think out loud again.

First I want to send a shout-out to all those lurkers out there who read but don’t commentLurker is a common internet term for people who are actively reading a site or discussion, but not responding / joining in the discussion.  Though it sounds bad, it’s not always – we all would do well to observe what’s going on before we go to saying whatever is on our minds.  With that being said, I do want to encourage anyone who drops by to let me know that you were here. Just a quick hello or even a smiley face :-) .  Sure Google tells me I had X number of visitors each day, but it’s nice to hear from you rather than Google.  This comes up because I recently learned that one of the two primary ways I experience love are “Words of Affirmation” ( which also scored equally with “Acts of Service”.)

On my way home from a concert I was feeling a bit frustrated.  As I dug into what I was feeling I was even so bold as to tweet about it (here and here) – speaking up was a GREAT idea because it sparked a small discussion on Facebook (where my tweets show up as my status message). Continue reading To hear you say “I Love You”