EP Review: Searching For Us

Hello friends! I decided to change things up a bit and try my hands at an EP critique. This is something I have never done before. However, I have been listening to music of all genres and have been immersed in music since I was little. So which compilation of music shall I be reviewing today, you ask? None other than Searching For Us by Skye Peterson

Skye Peterson is a young, gifted songwriter and musician. Ever since I found out about her second EP (Searching For Us) on the Reb, I was super pumped to find out about all her music. 

Searching For Us is a beautiful, poetic, and truth-filled EP. 

It starts with the song ‘Sandcastles’ which is a fun, upbeat start to the EP. Skye’s voice is a sort of raw, dreamy voice, something between Lauren Daigle’s and JJ Heller’s, leaning toward the second of the two. The song talks about “all that we are, all we create, all that we give, all that we take”, and reminds us that it’s only love that remains. We build sandcastles, we build kingdoms, and although it might be forgotten, if we serve others, if we love, that will impact, that will stay. It is easy to follow and the music has this summery vibe about it. Not all of her songs are easy to sing but this one isn’t that hard if I tried. (I’m not going to be posting a video of me singing this XD)

You keep on listening and come to the second track, ‘Searching For Us’. The first couple moments sound like it’s going to be another easy-going, “fun” song but then Skye’s voice hits with this poetic goodness. Her words are beautiful, with the metaphor of a Shepherd, a King, a Father, who leaves the 99 to find the one, who loves, who tells us that He died for us. The chorus of the song etches into your memory and is filled with hope and is a sort of proclamation over our failures. The music fits it completely, it’s one of the best parts of the EP. The bridge is just beautiful, and now, instead of a proclamation, it’s a call, to look upon Him who searches for us. The bridge is made complete with other voices joining the call. The track is musically uplifting and lyrically sound.

The next track, ‘Come to Me’, begins with the words “sweet girl.” It immediately gets your attention and you listen because you’ve been there too. Jesus is calling us to come to Him, the One who loves and holds and leads. The words are comforting and the music is nice, and I love the vocals. I just wish this song sounded more acoustic, because it’s such a personal, raw sort of song, sometimes the beat and the loud music seem to distract from the meaning and beauty of the song.

Her next track, ‘As I Am’, commences with simple guitar and violin, and you just breathe in and out and listen. Skye’s simple voice prays this song, questioning why she is given such love from the Father, why it’s given unconditionally, just as she is. The stringed instruments and back up singers accompany the song gorgeously. It has a bit of a theatrical feel in parts of the track, especially when she sings: “Hallelujah, Hallelujah, He loves me as I am”.

‘Guessing Games’ opens with piano and electric guitar, and you can tell right off that this song is different. The lyrics are poetic and more expressive, artsier than her other tracks. On a personal note, this song has spoken to me so deeply since I’ve been feeling lonely and distant from God during the pandemic (more on that here). This track is less of the upbeat, fun music she starts with and is more full of longing, more musically experimental. She is so real, so raw with her emotions: I sat there in the loft of that old barn // And I felt Him there so I cried until my tears were nearly gone // And I wish that I could feel that way again // ‘Cause I miss that love that I once knew.  

The last track, ‘Stay’ is an instrumental and (slightly vocal) mash-up of all that’s been said over the EP. It personifies the longing that her music awakes in you as you listen. The emotion spills over, and you sit and take it all in. 

Skye’s music has the poetic depth that one would expect from the Peterson family, but she is uniquely and originally her, with the fun music but also the deep longing of her soul to be seen and known by her Father. It has been a blessing to me, and I think it’s so cool that someone like Skye, who is only a year or so older than me, has created such an amazing sandcastle 😊.

Quick Thoughts on Art, Beauty, Creativity and God

Hello, my friends! I didn’t post on Saturday because we were on vacation. It was wonderful, but I’m glad to be back with you all. 

Created to create

In the beginning was the Creator. He existed before everything. However, He decided to create. The pinnacle of His creation was us. People. Creatures created in the image of their Creator. 

Being created in His image means that we are created in His likeness. Basically, we are simiThat means that we have traits and emotions and can think logically and can make decisions and can protect and love.

We are also creative. We are creative because God is creative. We love art and beauty and rhythm and poetry because God put the planets into motions in a rhythm no one can fathom. He created art in every butterfly and seashell and flower and sunset. He wrote poetry when He inspired authors to write the Psalms. He creates beauty when he transforms an ugly, wretched sinner into a holy, wonderful, Jesus-follower. 

God’s Gift to His Creatures

Art is a wonderful gift from God to us. It is amazing because it helps us learn things that we normally wouldn’t be able to remember. Take rhyme for example. Rhyme helps people remember things that an hour-long sermon never could. A song is more memorable than a lecture. An image is more powerful than an explanation. A story is more powerful than an argument. 

Art is a gift. 

Art isn’t always found the way it should be in the Christian community. We have wonderful artists creating music, worship music. And I’m not saying that we don’t need that. Worship music is important because we need to have songs that help us glorify our God. However, we also need poetry in our music. We need deep words that make us think. We need music that fills our soul with emotion and hope. 

We need authors that fill the world with light-giving stories. We need painters and artists that reflect God’s love for beauty. We need photography that captures beauty but also shows the world as the broken world that it is, that calls for social justice. 

Artists Making Art to the Glory of God

Here are two artists who are breaking the rules, creating beauty, poetry, light, and hope.

  1. Andrew Peterson

I can’t quite remember when I first heard of his music, but I’ve been (ever so slightly) obsessed ever since. He is a masterful poet, a talented musician, and someone who thinks very deeply about things. 

Another thing I love about his music is that his albums tend to tell a story. There is a beginning, you start with one song, and when you listen to the album, you end up somewhere else. You start out with depression, and you end with hope, for example. 

His songs aren’t simple, but they are good. They are beautiful art, deep poetry, and complex music. 

Listen to his album The Burning Edge of Dawn here, and visit his YouTube music channel here

He is also an author. He’s written the Wingfeather Saga Series, a fantasy series for children. He has also written Adorning The Dark, which is a memoir but also a handbook to all who are called to create, make, and spread hope in a dark world. 

Visit his website here

  1. Taryn Harbridge

A talented musician, Taryn creates covers and melodies of tunes we all know and love, whether it be movie soundtracks, folk songs, or hymns. Her main instrument is the violin, but she plays many other instruments. Her music is inspired by bluegrass and Celtic music. 

Everything she creates is stunning. She layers sound upon sound of the violin, pennywhistle, bottle-blowing, guitar, and vocalizing. You feel like you are listening to an orchestra. 

Listen to her instrumental cover of How Great Thou Art here, and visit her YouTube channel here

The Wisdom Behind The Disney Song “The Next Right Thing”

I was watching Frozen 2 with my family recently since we hadn’t watched it when it first came out. I had listened to most of the songs on the soundtrack and thought the music was beautiful. However, watching the movie gave me a more meaningful perspective on the songs. 

One scene and song (The Next Right Thing) that especially moved me was when Anna is stuck down in an underground cave and believes her sister Elsa to be dead, and she has just watched her friend Olaf melt away in her arms. She is completely broken. She has nothing left. “I’ve seen dark before, but not like this // This is cold, this is empty, this is numb // The life I knew is over, the lights are out // Hello, darkness, I’m ready to succumb” But she realizes she has a choice before her: To give up, or to take a step forward. It goes on like this: “This grief has a gravity, it pulls me down // But a tiny voice whispers in my mind // ‘You are lost, hope is gone // But you must go on // and do the next right thing.’”

Anna later goes on to realize that she doesn’t know what the future holds. She is confused. She is overwhelmed. But she acknowledges: “I won’t look too far ahead // It’s too much for me to take // But break it down to this next breath // this next step // This next choice // is one that I can make”

So Anna chooses, at the end of the song, and then later in the movie, to “do the next right thing.” 

The reason this song touched and shocked me was that the phrase “do the next thing” was something I have heard constantly as I have grown up. My mother would always remind me when I was overwhelmed or frustrated or down in the dumps, that what I needed to do was simply to “do the next thing.”

As I was pondering this subject and researching it, I realized something I had forgotten. This phrase, to “do the next thing,” was popularized by the speaker and Bible teacher Elisabeth Elliot. She quoted an old poem called Do The Next ThingThe poem says: 

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,

do it reliantly, casting all care.

Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,

who placed it before thee with earnest command.

Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,

leave all resultings, do the next thing.

Elisabeth Elliot explained how this mindset was extremely encouraging and helpful throughout her life as a single mother and someone who ministered to others. Sometimes the situation was overwhelming, but she knew that she had to just take the next step in faith and leave the results up to Jesus. 

Although Disney’s songs aren’t biblical, and very often are filled with self-esteem and self-love, I feel that with this song, they did a remarkable job. Although the song does focus on helping ourselves and how we can get out of the dark, as Christians we know that the strength to move forward comes from God and God alone. He is our Rock and our Fortress. With that in mind, the otherwise secular song becomes very encouraging. 

So I’ll walk through this night

Stumbling blindly toward the light

And do the next right thing

And with the dawn, what comes then?

When it’s clear that everything will never be the same again

Then I’ll make the choice

To hear that voice

And do the next right thing.

As believers, our Light is our Lord Jesus Christ. The Voice that prompts us to take that next step in simple faith is the Holy Spirit. 

Whether it’s taking a nap because we are too exhausted to do anything else. Whether it’s getting one more page of the seemingly endless homework done. Whether it’s helping a sibling or going to the store or cooking a meal. Whether it’s getting out of bed in the morning when you feel like nothing in the world is alright. We look to our God and do the next thing. 

If you would like to check out an article that elaborates on Elisabeth Elliot’s message, click here

If you would like to listen to a beautiful duet cover of the song, click here

10 Songs that Glorify and Teach About God

“There are ultimately no neutral lyrics. All songs share a message about how we should view the world.”

― Keith Getty, Sing!: How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church

In light of my last post, I would like to share with you 10 of my favorite worship songs. These songs aren’t necessarily from the “Worship Music” genre or are necessarily my TOP Ten, but they all worship the Lord! These songs share the ultimate message: they teach who God is, what He has done, and they glorify Him because He is God. (The songs are not in any sort of order.) 

  1. Jesus, Strong, and Kind by CityAlight

For the Lord is good and faithful

He will keep us day and night

We can always run to Jesus

Jesus, strong and kind

The Australian group CityAlight wrote a beautiful song that’s easy to sing and bring us back to the simplicity that Jesus is our strong sovereign God but also our kind, faithful Friend. We can always run to Him.

2. Regeneration by Shai Linne

Naturalistically- the only way for him to hear it

Jesus said, “You must be born of the water and the Spirit”

No other way to enter heaven

That sounds like Ezekiel 36: 25-27

In this new birth, the Spirit is the source and the agent

The water symbolizes spiritual purification

Flesh can only produce flesh- that’s true and factual

Regenerating work of the Spirit is supernatural

Shai Linne is a pastor and a rapper. He preaches at church, and he preaches through his music. His songs are constantly teaching deep theology. The song Regeneration teaches about who God is and how he saves us, how we die to our flesh, and are born into His marvelous light. It teaches the doctrine of regeneration.

3. Forever by Kari Jobe

Forever He is glorified

Forever He is lifted high

Forever He is risen

He is alive, He is alive!

Kari Jobe sings of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and you get to the chorus, and it’s a glorious proclamation that He has defeated death, and He is glorified! I highly recommend listening to the live recording of the song along with the spoken word called “the Word” by Isaac Wimberly. It’s magnificent. 

4. Our God by Chris Tomlin

Our God is greater, our God is stronger

God, You are higher than any other

Our God is Healer, awesome in power

Our God! Our God!

This classic Chris Tomlin worship song is popular for a reason. It declares God’s attributes. He is better and higher and more glorified than any other thing in the universe. Since we rely on Him, if He is for us, nothing can stand against us.

5. 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman

You’re rich in love

And You’re slow to anger

Your name is great

And Your heart is kind

For all Your goodness

I will keep on singing

Ten thousand reasons

For my heart to find

Another classic worship song from one of the best, Matt Redman. We bless and worship our Lord because of what He does and who He is! He is loving, long-suffering, lifted up, kind, and good. 

6. Waymaker by Sinach

Way maker

Miracle worker

Promise keeper

Light in the darkness

My God

That is who you are

This passionate song was coined by an African gospel singer, Sinach. She wrote this song broadcasting His fidelity and Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. He guides us, is a light unto our path.

7. I Choose to Worship by Rend Collective

I will praise You through the fire

Through the storm and through the flood

There is nothing that could ever steal my song

In the valley You are worthy

You are good when life is not

You will always and forever be my song

We worship Him because He is God, He is worthy, and He is good when life is not. This song is from the great Irish band Rend Collective, a fresh voice in modern Christian Music. 

8. The God Who Stays by Matthew West

You’re the God who stays

You’re the God who stays

You’re the one who runs in my direction

When the whole world walks away

You’re the God who stands

With wide-open arms

And You tell me nothing I have ever done can separate my heart

From the God who stays

Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:38-39). While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, and that is the greatest devotion ever (Romans 5:8). He is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9). This song is a beautiful reminder of God’s love and faithfulness. 

9. In Christ Alone by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

Til on that cross, as Jesus died

The wrath of God was satisfied

For every sin, on him, was laid

Here, in the death of Christ, I live

This hymn has become a modern classic. This hymn that I grew up with is full of hope and reminds us of who our Savior is. It portrays the Gospel and who we are now because of it. 

10. We Believe by Newsboys

And the gates of hell will not prevail!

For the power of God, has torn the veil!

Now we know Your love will never fail!

We believe, we believe!

A modern creed, this song is a powerful declaration of our faith in Christ. It states that even in temptation, in our weakness, we stand on the foundation of Jesus our Rock. Newsboys are known for their passionate songs that fuel the believer to persevere in life’s hardships. 

God’s Word Through Song

I don’t remember reading Colossians 3:15-17 until a couple of days ago, and I marveled again at how the Scriptures are so rich and thought-provoking. Quite often, they reveal things that you thought you knew, but you learn that you knew only superficially or not at all. 

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Colossians 3:15-17 

There are 3 themes I would like to explore in this verse:

1. Christ’s peace ruling in our hearts

2. God’s truth through song

3. Thankfulness in all of life

In this post, I will be tackling the second point. I know that seems confusing, but as I started to study the first point, I realized it was much more complex than I imagined and that I needed to postpone that blog entry to a later date. That being said, let’s talk music!

Let the Word of Christ Dwell Richly

The word richly is πλουσίως (plousiōs), and it occurs 4 times in the New Testament. It can also be translated abundantly. Cambridge defines richly as: “in a very special or valuable way, or in a way that is greater than usual”. God’s word is to dwell greatly, valuably in us. We are to study His Word, and teach it to and share it with others. We are to count it valuable. We are to magnify it. How beautiful His word is to be to us! 

Theologically Sound Worship

Colossians 3:16 explains that singing hymns and worship songs should be a means to the dwelling richly of God’s word. This means that the worship of the Lord should be founded on truth. So many worship songs today are based on feelings. Songs about “being carried away in His love” and “the way He holds us” become the way we worship our God. I’m not here to say that there is something inherently wrong with those songs. Feelings are a part of worship but should come after a realization of truth. Our God is so much greater and grander and worthy of the most excellent praise than to be worshiped because of our fleeting feelings. The Scriptures give us wonderful insight into why and how we should praise our Lord:

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. Isaiah 25:1

Our worship should be based on His works. He is faithful. He keeps His promises. He is sure, He is unchanging. Therefore, we should praise Him, because amidst our changing emotions and our waywardness, amidst our sense that we are: “Prone to wander, Lord (we) feel it!”, He is faithful. 

Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him! Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. Psalm 68:4-5

Our worship should be based on who He is. In the Bible, a name represents the identity of the person. When we say, “Praise His name!”, we aren’t saying praise the actual name, the letters, but the identity of that name, what the name represents. His name is the Lord, and we sing praises to His name. We sing praise because of who He is: He is the Father to the fatherless and the protector of widows. He is holy!

‘Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” –Revelation 5:11-13

We worship God because He is God. God the Son was slain. He is eternal and sovereign and is wise. He counted all that as loss. He was beaten and betrayed and left bloody to die. All-powerful, dead on the cross. What beauty! He is worthy to receive all adoration. All of creation will one day proclaim God the Father as worthy of eternal glory, and the Son of eternal praise.

Conscientiously Choose Your Worship Music

I believe that when we are listening or singing songs to worship God, we should be paying attention to three things: 

  1. Worship based on what He’s done
  2. Worship based on who He is
  3. Worship because He is God, and He is worthy

Let’s let God’s word dwell richly among us as we praise Him!