For the fifth year in a row, Christian singer-songwriter and children’s worship expert Yancy has partnered with Standard Publishing to write and produce all-new original music for their popular Vacation Bible School curriculum. 2016’s Deep Sea Discovery VBS program, which will also include contributions from missionary/author Beth Guckenberger of Back2Back Ministries, is packed with fun and adventure, teaching kids that “God KNOWS me, HEARS me, STRENGTHENS me, LOVES me and SENDS me.”
“This is the fifth year that Standard Publishing has asked me to create original music and videos for their VBS program,” says Yancy. “I’m honored to continue this partnership, and I love creating resources for the local church that affect the lives of kids around the world. I am passionate about having great songs and media to reach this generation. I believe in the power of music and know that it will reinforce the lessons, and relationships that kids will experience at VBS.”
Taking its theme from Genesis 28:15, Deep Sea Discovery VBS focuses on one important truth for kids: God is with me and will watch over me wherever I go! Each day, kids dive into God’s presence by delving deep into His Word to see how He has been with his people every step of the way. They will get to know God is always with them, explore God’s presence in their lives, and serve God by serving others. Hands-on service projects and sea science will help kids experience a VBS adventure like no other, and they’ll leave each day ready to set sail to serve others and tell God’s story.
Deep Sea Discovery VBS products consist of a comprehensive kit and over 40 other resources. The kit is packed with everything needed to plan and lead a VBS or family ministry event. It includes the Director’s Guide, Planning Disc Set, Music Disc Set, all leader’s guides and cards, student books, Age-level Resources Disc Set, Decorating Resource Pack, and four poster packs.
“Another important element in making our VBS program so engaging, and its messages so impactful, is the quality of our freely reproducible music,” said Laura Hannah, Vice President of Marketing at Standard Publishing. “This can make the songs that are sung available to every child to take home. We are thrilled to partner again with kid-favorite worship leader, Yancy.”
Deep Sea Discovery VBS also offers a unique special needs sensory station, named Breakaway Bay, where kids with special sensory needs can experience an oasis of calm in the busy world of VBS, while still learning the same lessons and participating in the activities all the other kids are doing. Kids can come and go as needed to the site with their designated partners, called Diving Buddies.
Preorder Deep Sea Discovery VBS and receive FREE shipping by 6/19/15, or learn more at 2016.vacationbibleschool.com
Cleveland Metroparks is proud to announce that it is one of four finalists for the prestigious 2015 National Parks and Recreation (NPRA) Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. This is a national award program recognizing excellence in leadership, facility development, programming and marketing by park and recreation professionals. The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NPRA), are sponsors of the award.
The Gold Medal Award honors park systems throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management, and agency recognition. Each agency is judged on its ability to address the needs of those it serves through the collective energies of citizens, staff, and elected officials.
Board of Commissioners President Dan Moore is honored that Cleveland Metroparks is a finalist. “This award is about management excellence. I believe Cleveland Metroparks manages the resources we are entrusted with at the highest level, as evidenced by this nomination. It is further validation that we lead with the needs of the community at the forefront of our vision.”
Brian Zimmerman, Cleveland Metroparks Chief Executive Officer is equally proud that the park system is a finalist for this prestigious award. Zimmerman commented “Cleveland Metroparks serves the community daily through conservation, recreation and education. Gold Medal caliber standards are embedded in our organization at every level. We are very proud to be nominated with three other outstanding park districts.”
Cleveland Metroparks is a finalist in Class I along with Kansas City Parks and Recreation, Mesa Parks Recreation and Commercial Facilities in Mesa, Arizona and The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The award is judged in a two-tiered process, which includes a panel of five parks and recreation professionals chosen for their considerable experience and knowledge in parks and recreation on both local and national levels. Applications are separated into five classes based on population. A full list of finalists is available on the NPRA website: www.nrpa.org.
Cleveland Metroparks is a past recipient of the award, receiving the NRPA Gold Medal Award in 1994, 2001 and 2007. Park Districts must wait five years after winning the award to be eligible to re-apply for the Gold Medal Award.
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of more than 47,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org.
The 2015 NPRA Gold Medal Award winners will be announced at the NPRA Annual Conference on September 15, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
For more information, visit clevelandmetroparks.com or call 216-635-3200.
GREENFIELD, Ind. – Author Kathy Lindsey relies on her years of experience as a preschool teacher and grandmother for inspiration. She is particularly inspired by her three siblings, her sons as well as her grandchildren in writing “I Don’t Want to be a Christmas Tree,” (published by AuthorHouse) an adventure story about a sister and brother who pick up their first Christmas tree.
This colorful children’s tale is about Kristopher and his sister Kristin, who choose a stubborn Christmas tree. Little did they both know, they are about to discover that someone in their family is harboring a big secret that will change everything.
“Christmas is a happy theme and family is something everybody has,” Lindsey says. “We like to see a happy family. Children want to identify with happy families, even if theirs is not happy. Reading this book serves as an escape for them. As a teacher, I know that its artwork will appeal to readers and even those who are too young to read.”
With its innocent, fun-loving characters and eye-catching illustrations, “I Don’t Want to be a Christmas Tree” is a delightfully entertaining read. It will allow readers to look forward to the Yuletide season with glee.
Jimmy Needham fans are finding plenty to be thankful for this month, starting with the May 4th release of his seventh studio album, Vice & Virtue (Platinum Pop Records). The cinematic music video for the title track was released during street week, followed by the just-released lyric video for spoken word fan-favorite, “The Story.”
Needham describes “The Story” as the Gospel in five minutes.
“’The Story’ was the first track I wrote for Vice & Virtue,” says Needham. “I actually wrote it as a piece for a friend’s wedding. I’ve always loved slam poetry and have historically ended my albums with a spoken word track. This was the first time that we incorporated music into it. The music helped to really make it a piece of art I’ve never tried before.”
Watch “The Story” on YouTube: http://tinyurl.com/NeedhamTheStory
Watch “Vice & Virtue” on YouTube: http://tinyurl.com/ViceAndVirtue
For more information, visit the official website at www.jimmyneedham.com.
Author Barnabas Piper suggests that God is infinite and beyond understanding, yet chooses to reveal Himself in ways that spark questions rather than settling them all. In his book Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt Is Not The Enemy Of Faith releasing July 1 from David C Cook, Piper invites questioners and searchers to pursue a path towards real belief by getting comfortable with the uncomfortable yet necessary tension between faith, doubt, certainty, mystery and yes, even unbelief. In the tradition of Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz and Daniel Taylor’s The Myth of Certainty, Help My Unbelief is for all who long for God, but are disenchanted with what is peddled as Christianity or a rote, mundane faith that has grown too rigid or too hollow.
Millions of people claim to believe in God, but their lives tell just as many stories as to what that really means. In this refreshingly disruptive book, Piper tackles the topic of what it really means to “believe in God,” navigating the tension between faith and doubt that begins with an acceptance that belief is not the final destination, but rather a pursuit and process filled with questions, failures and victories.
“‘I believe; help my unbelief’ [Mark 9:24] is my favorite phrase in scripture,” says Piper. “It captures so much of what it means and takes to be a follower of Christ, encapsulating struggle, faith, doubt, obedience, wandering and repentance. It is deeply theological and personal. For these reasons and more, I wrote Help My Unbelief, which explores what real belief is and its relationship with doubt in the life of a believer.”
There are incredibly tough questions that believers attempt to tackle and answer on this side of heaven, like:
“We trust that God is good although the world He created is filled with badness?”
“We think in terms of scientific evidence, proof, and logic though our holy book tells of miracles and supernatural occurrences.”
“We believe God is omnipresent though we can see Him nowhere.”
“We defy the economy of earthly power by following a leader who died to save us, who willingly laid down his glory and power, and who calls us to be the least in order to be great?”
Wrestling personally through these and more tough questions of Christianity, Barnabas learned through observing his own life, the world around him and the teachings of Scripture that discovering an infinite God as a finite human is an act of exploration. It is a process of learning, and then embracing the God who not only desires our belief, but also actually welcomes our curiosity that pulls toward a deeper, more real understanding of following Jesus.
“A Christian who doesn’t know the tension of ‘I believe; help my unbelief’ might not be a Christian at all, or at least a very infantile one,” suggests Piper in the book. “Our faith is one of brutal tensions. Not everyone can express this, but every Christian knows it. We feel it in our gut… Tension is our state of being for all of this life, and to live as a believer is to live in it.”
Available at BarnesandNoble.com, Amazon.com, Christian retailers and everywhere great books are sold July 1, readers curious about this new book can get a sneak peak now of the “Belief Is Relationship” excerpt available to read at TheBlazingCenter.com.
Leading up to the release of Help My Unbelief, Piper will also be sharing the thoughts and experiences of several of his friends, authors, church leaders, writers and thinkers who honestly answer questions about faith and doubt. You can read the first of these at TheBlazingCenter.comwith Christine Hoover, author of The Church Planting Wife and From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel.
Four decades after first topping album charts worldwide, Pastor Jason Alvarez is back with his brand new solo album, Time For Miracles. The album is available now at Amazon, iTunes and wherever digital music is sold.
The music industry first came to know Jason Alvarez (who briefly went by his birth name Jesus) as the husky voiced singer of R&B act Brother to Brother (whose “In the Bottle” moved over a million copies in 1974), followed by his partnership with singer/songwriter Sylvia Robinson in the groundbreaking group Shirley & Company, who topped the worldwide dance charts with the #1 international hit “Shame Shame Shame” in 1975. That song is commonly considered the early blueprint for the disco explosion that dominated the decade.
“We really were ahead of the curve and it was definitely a pioneering moment, starting with that drum beat, which was so simple, but definitely an innovator for sure the way it was combined with Shirley’s high voice and me screaming my brains out,” says Alvarez with a laugh, who also struck gold with the group’s follow-up hit “Cry Cry Cry.” “We did a ton of touring, especially through Europe, and went on all of the TV programs of the time alongside Mick Jagger, Patti LaBelle and Elton John, which was just as amazing as it sounds.”
With the fame, wealth and pressures of being a superstar came an addiction to drugs that nearly cost Alvarez his life. He recalls sitting on the top floor of a swanky London hotel with fellow songwriter Scott English, whose Barry Manilow hit “Mandy” was sitting at #2 as Alvarez’ “Shame Shame Shame” claimed the top spot.
“He looked at me, passed me a joint and said ‘is this all there is to life man?’ and that made me start thinking,” admits Alvarez, who in his stoned state experienced a heightened sense of despair. “So I started thinking about taking my own life and even wrote out a suicide letter, but when I looked down from that penthouse window and saw how far it was down, I decided to wait until I got back to the U.S. to do it another way.”
“At one point I bought a pound of opium and tried to kill myself by smoking day and night, but thank God I didn’t succeed. It just so happens that around that time, my wife had given herself to Jesus and started going to church by the grace of God. I remember saying to her one night, ‘are you going to that crazy place?’ and when she said ‘yes,’ I actually asked her if she needed a ride. I dropped her off and sat in the car smoking a Columbian joint, but I felt so bummed out by myself that I eventually walked in. Right then and there, I heard the Gospel and how Jesus died to save us from our sins and I said to my wife ‘have you been talking to this preacher about me?’ She said ‘no, I’ve never mentioned what you’re going through, so it must be the Holy Spirit.’ I responded, gave my life to the Lord and have never been the same since.”
Alvarez soon signed with Christian music label Light Records, with Andraé Crouch collaborator Bill Cole producing his album, Just Give Me Jesus. He started extensively touring with evangelists R.W. Schambach and Nicky Cruz. “I got really turned on to the things of God, so much so that I eventually decided to quit music to preach the gospel and start churches.”
Ordained in 1982, Alvarez currently serves as the pastor of The Love of Jesus Family Church in Orange, New Jersey. While he remains committed to his primary responsibility as a pastor, he’s also committed to taking Time For Miracles to the masses.
Best described as a praise and worship album, Time For Miracles will surprise listeners with its versatility, ranging from acoustic anthems to Gospel grooves. There’s even a guest appearance by fellow church member Kory-O of Sugar Hill Gang fame (the group’s “Rapper’s Delight” scored the rap genre’s first ever Top 40 hit on Billboard Hot 100).
“God’s greatest asset is transparency and He’s not afraid to show who he really is,” says Alvarez. “Nothing in the Bible is hidden, which is why I don’t have a problem sharing each and every dirty detail of my life. My life is amazing now that I’m saved and I hope that being honest about all I’ve been though can potentially help someone else.”
For more information, visit the official website at www.jamm.org.
Track Listing for Time for Miracles:
1) Miracles (feat. Kory-O & Osmond Collins)
2) The Great I Am (feat. Osmond Collins)
4) Everlasting Love
5) Te Quiero
6) Let Thy Kingdom
7) Como No Creer
8) You’re Beautiful
The worship team from Planetshakers Church, one of Australia’s fastest growing churches in history, released Outback Worship Sessions globally amidst acclaim last week through Integrity Music. During its first week at retail, the album became the most downloaded iTunes album across all genres of music for a period of time in Malaysia and Singapore while hitting No. 3 in Indonesia, No. 8 in South Africa, No. 9 in Australia, No. 12 in Colombia, No. 21 in the Philippines, No. 22 in Taiwan and more significant chart positions across the globe. The album also hit No. 1 in Australia, No. 2 in the USA and No. 3 in the UK on the iTunes Christian charts. As the church and its music transcends cultures, languages and geographical boundaries,Outback Worship Sessions’ first week sales success has made it one of the fastest selling albums in Planetshakers’ history.
What started as a project to re-craft Planetshakers’ most-loved worship anthems into a form accessible to worship teams representing the wider church body grew into an 11-track studio recording produced by Grammy- and Dove-Award winning Ed Cash. Giving a new intimate ‘voice’ to Planetshakers’ best-loved anthems, Cash also co-wrote “Spirit Of God” and “Father” for Outback Worship Sessions with Planetshakers’ Bj Pridham. Cash further penned the album’s new song, “My Soul Longs For Jesus,” whichNewReleaseTuesday.com (NRT) calls “an incredible song for the Church.” The new video of the song recorded in Australia’s Outback and released May 9 has already received more than 43,000 views athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYjxHPtKihw.
Two additional videos for “Like A Fire” and “Nothing Is Impossible” from Outback Worship Sessions have been recorded organically in a small church in the heart of Australia’s Outback. Together with “My Soul Longs for Jesus,” the videos will be hosted on YouTube as resources for churches and worship leaders around the globe.
Integrity Music is also offering a companion digital Outback Worship Sessions songbook free of charge through www.weareworship.com.
Seeing and hearing the vision of the new album, Worship Leader magazine lauds the recording as “A gift to the Church… a powerful collection of accessible, incredible congregational songs… a powerful worship experience, both familiar and new." NewReleaseTuesday.com agrees that “there are several instantly singable and worshipful arrangements that you'll want to add to your Sunday morning setlist,” as Soul-Audio.com declares the music is “perfect for church worship teams or times of personal worship.”LouderThanTheMusic.com suggests “this album is one to get hold of straight away,” affirmed by FDRMX.comsaying that “Outback Worship Sessions is a carefully crafted album that will usher in a new generation of fans.”
Having led over 200,000 people at a single event in Asia and sharing new music and other favorite Planetshakers worship anthems around the world, Planetshakers will be featured May 23 during the Big Church Day Out in West Sussex, UK along with Switchfoot, NEEDTOBREATHE, Lecrae and more. Planetshakers will also be the featured worship leader June 28-29 during several events at CBA’s International Christian Retail Show 2015 (ICRS) that will include appearances by Lee Greenwood, Josh McDowell, Steve Green (Hobby Lobby) and others. Planetshakers will further be featured during the National Worship Leader Conference June 23-25 and headlining along with Casting Crowns and Jesus Culture “Florida’s biggest Christian music festival,” Rock The Universe, Sept. 12. These and other upcoming tour dates follow:
May 25 Christustag Linz, Austria
May 29 Oygospel Kristiansand, Norway
May 31 Springtime Festival Frauenfeld, Switzerland
Jun 23-25 Worship Leader Conference Kansas City, MO | USA
Jun 26-27 Reinhard Bonnke Gospel Crusade Chicago, IL | USA
Jun 28 International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) Orlando, FL | USA
Jul 3 Worship Explosion Bridgeport, CT | USA
Jul 17-18 Arise Conference – Horizon Wellington, New Zealand
Jul 19 Arise Church Wellington, New Zealand
Jul 31 Planetshakers Live Singapore
Aug 4 Planetshakers Live General Santos City, Philippines
Aug 6 IFGF Conference Jakarta, Indonesia
Aug 8 Planetshakers Live Bandung, Indonesia
Aug 11- 12 Planetshakers Live Taipei, Taiwan
Aug 14 Planetshakers Live – SOLD OUT Manila, Philippines
About Planetshakers Band:
Planetshakers Band is passionate about uniting generations worldwide through worship and is known for favorites like “Like A Fire,” “Endless Praise,” “Nothing Is Impossible,” “This Is Our Time” and “The Anthem.” As Australia’s largest youth/young adult Christian movement, Planetshakers’ goal is to see people encounter God, be transformed by His presence and empowered to make a difference in their world. While they tour internationally, the team remains based out of Planetshakers Church, a multi-campus, 12,000-plus member congregation based in Melbourne, Australia that is pastored by husband and wife, Russell and Sam Evans.
In addition to the music and message, Planetshakers Church is involved in numerous community and charitable causes including prison ministry, school programs, refugee outreach, disaster relief and welfare assistance. It also partners with World Vision to assist in urgent humanitarian crises around the world, and runs Planetshakers College in Melbourne, which equips local and international students to impact their world for Christ.
A church, a movement and a gifted musical ministry, Planetshakers also reach 105 countries withPlanetshakers TV, a 30-minute Christian television program birthed out of the desire to empower generations to win generations.
Additional information about Planetshakers Church and Planetshakers Band and its touring is available athttp://www.planetshakers.com, www.twitter.com/planetshakers and www.facebook.com/planetshakers, where Planetshakers has over 777,000 likes.