A little over 9 years ago when Michelle and I found out we were going to have a baby, we joked that we would have the kid who didn't like music or entertaining. Boy were we wrong! There is not a minute that Gabriella isn't singing or dancing! Gabi is an amazing gift from God and He has blessed her with a huge personality, incredible talent and a passion for people. She is a light that brings joy and a smile to the face of everyone she meets.  

Even at the young age of 9 Gabi is such an incredible part of our ministry to kids and families. She has also begun to use her gifts to encourage people and share God's love through her own acting and singing. She, with her mother's help, has started a fun, little video blog each Monday where she takes a Bible verse and talks about how we can apply it to our lives. Here is her latest "Monday Minute."

Remember, God has given each one of us special and unique gifts and it doesn't matter how old or young you are, God can use you! All you have to do is be available! God can use you at your school, office, home or neighborhood...wherever you are! 

If you haven't already, you can follow Gabi and her journey on Facebook and Instagram (both of which are run and monitored by Michelle, not Gabi) to keep up to date on her latest projects and one of these days you will be able to say "I knew her when..."

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AuthorJustin Graves

What an amazing Summer! We have had a blast leading worship for two camps in Oklahoma a VBS in Austin, several Family Worship Nights and many different Sunday morning church services. I know there is still a little bit of Summer left, but I couldn't wait to share this with you! I wanted to give you a little peek into what we get to experience when we lead worship for kids.
 When Tarrytown UMC talked to us last year about leading the music for their VBS this year, they told us that they were going to write their own curriculum. As we talked about the theme and what the daily lessons were going to be, we offered to write music to go with each day. We had a blast writing these songs and even stepped outside of our box a bit and wrote a hip/hop song! 
We wanted to share with you the joy we get from hearing the kids sing these songs. Here is short video from VBS! 

We sure had a blast with those kiddos! I'm glad you got to hear their sweet voices! 
Just as a side note, Michelle did an amazing job creating and leading the motions for all the songs. She is so creative and a wonderful leader! I am proud to be on her team! 

Thanks for hanging out with me today! If you would like to purchase or hear any of our new songs you can go to www.JustinGravesBand.com/store. I know you will love them and want to sing them at the top of your lungs too! I hope you have a great weekend! 

 

Michelle and I have the opportunity to be in a different church each Sunday morning. There are churches that cannot hire a full time worship leader or their worship leader goes out of town or they just want to bring in a guest worship leader...and that is where we come in! God has called us to be the 'Fill-in' worship leaders for churches. I love that we get to experience different church services and styles each week and that we get to know so many different ministries, churches, pastors and congregations! 

Not to long ago we were at a service where the pastor used a scripture that I have hear all my life. Amy Grant even wrote a song using this verse! Psalm 119:105 "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." The idea that the pastor was communicating was that God wants us to trust Him. Yes, He lights our way, but He doesn't show us everything down the road. He give us enough light to see the path we are on and know that He is with us, but we still have to trust Him to guide us.

 I remember when I was learning to drive my dad would tell me "Don't over drive your headlights." At first I had no idea what he was talking about. "How can I drive faster than my headlights?" What he meant was, when it is dark and all you have to light your way are the headlights on your car, you can't drive looking way off in the distance because you could miss what is right in front of you. You have to drive watching the part of the road that your headlights are shining on so you don't end up running off the road or crashing into something. That is the same idea that Psalm 119:105 is talking about. Letting God's light lead you. 

headlights.jpg

There are so many times, though, I want to grab my mega 10,000 watt torch light and see what is waiting for me down the road so that I can prepare myself for when I get there, but that is not God's plan. He wants us to trust Him and let Him guide us. As we do, He will give us exactly what we need right when we need it. Come on now sing it with me and Amy..."Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path...."

I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to post them on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/justingravesband Thanks for hanging out with me today!

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AuthorJustin Graves

A while back I wrote about the use of secular music in church (see blog “Is this Controversial?”) and it raised a few more questions. In my blog I mentioned that I do not believe that we should be rewriting the lyrics to popular or secular songs to change them to “Christian” songs, but that we should be creative enough to use the gifts God has given us to come up with our own songs.

This statement not only sparked a small conversation on our Facebook page, but also in our own house. One of our Facebook followers mentioned the that many of the hymns we sing in church were taken from bar tunes of the time. This is something I have grown up hearing and have even used this argument myself defending the use of certain types of songs or music in the church today. I wanted to make sure that what I had been hearing all my life was actually the truth so I set out to do some research in order to defend my belief. What I have found has helped me better understand the history of church music and also help me discover the story behind the music.

Many of the hymns in our hymnals today were written by John or Charles Wesley or by Martin Luther. Many people have called them the fathers of modern church music, but did they just take the popular songs of the time and put new words to them? The answer I have found is a resounding “NO!” “What?!? How can this be?!? I have spent most of my life making the argument that they did and now I am finding out this is all not true?” These were my first thoughts. Then I continued reading and discovered that the reason for this popular belief. These hymn writers set out to write songs for the church that the common man (and woman) could sing. They wanted their songs to be easy to learn and remember. You see, much of the church music at the time was considered “High Church,” not something that the everyday man could easily sing along with (think opera music). The hymn writers of the 18th and 19th century wanted people to sing God's Word and internalize His truth in a way that was easy to remember and had some sort of repetition and rhyme similar to the popular music of the day. It would be easy to make the assumption that they just used the bar room songs and changed the words since their songs were similar in style and rhythm.

There were, however, some writers that did use traditional folk melodies popular at the time, one of which was William Booth, who wrote many of the Salvation Army songs. He is the one who was first quoted saying, “Why should the devil have all the best tunes?” These songs, however, were also not songs sung in bars or music halls, they were the cultural folk songs that people had grown up singing.

So after all these years here is what I take away from this conversation:

  1. Don't believe something just because everybody says it's true. Do your own research, dig, study and come up with your own opinions. You may be surprised to find out the real truth!

  2. Hymns were not written using the melodies of bar songs at the time. Yes, they were written in the same style or format, but neither of the Wesley brothers nor Luther used songs that were already written and then changed the words.

  3. God made us creative beings. He wants us to grow, develop, create & recreate, and use the gifts He has given us to bring Him glory! He gave us a HUGE imagination and wants us to use it!

  4. Like I stated in my previous blog, I am not against using secular music in a church service as long as it has a purpose. I do, however, think that we shouldn't be taking a popular song, changing the words and turning it into a worship or "Christian" song.

I would love to hear what you think about this! I want to know what some of your favorite songs are, please leave them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Thanks for hanging out with me today!  

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This weekend we get an extra day off. We invite our friends and family over and grill hamburgers and hotdogs. We put on our red, white and blue and enjoy hanging out at the pool, lake or river as we celebrate our freedom. 

Our freedom, however, was not free. Our freedom has cost much more than most of us could ever imagine paying. So this weekend as we celebrate our freedom, our country and what make the U.S.A. great let us all pause for a moment and remember the countless men and women who have fought and continuing to fight to keep us safe, secure and FREE!

Jesus told the people who had faith in him, “If you keep on obeying what I have said, you truly are my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  - John 8:31-32

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If you have ever been in Los Angeles and walked down Hollywood Blvd, you know that you can see all sorts of interesting things. The street is full of people in costumes waiting for you to come up and take a picture with them and then give them a tip. What a crazy business! I will give them credit though, they out there working and making a living pretending to be Spiderman, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Sparrow or even the guy from the Halo games. We were walking down the street a few months ago and came across this guy. At first I wasn't sure what was going on, but looking closer I was pretty amused.

Here is a guy dressed like Jesus, all the way down to the crown of thorns, playing the guitar and singing on the street for tips. He was playing everything from AC/DC to Neil Young, and he was pretty good!

We stood and listened for a bit and I had to take a picture because I didn't think anyone would believe me if I told them that I saw Jesus playing the guitar on the street in Hollywood. Now, I have no idea if this guy is a Christ Follower or if he was doing this just to get a reaction, but it got me thinking about the way that express my faith. Do the people that I come in contact with everyday know by the way that I act and the words that I say that I am a Christ Follower? Would they know by the way I treat my family and the people around me that I love Jesus? Here is a guy literally being (or pretending to be) Jesus on the streets of Hollywood and sometimes I find myself afraid to say too loud what Christ has done for me. It was just a bit of a wake-up call and I wanted to challenge you this week to live out your faith. No, you don't have to dress up like Jesus and stand on the street corner or carry a cross down the highway, just be aware that you can show people who Jesus is by the way you act, speak and treat each other.

I would love to know if you have a caption for this picture. Leave it in the comments below or on our Facebook page! Thanks for hanging out with me today!   

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Just over a week ago I had the privilege of going "Over the Edge" for Make-A-Wish of Central and South Texas. (See my previous post "Over the Edge" for more details) I wanted to give you an update on my experience and the money raised that will bless these amazing fighters. 

It was amazing! Right from the start the Make-A-Wish team was there to greet us and make us feel like a part of the team and safety, of course, was their number one priority! We arrived early so we could make sure we knew what we were in for and to cheer on the other's who were rappelling. It was an awesome sight to see people dangling off the side of the building knowing that I will be up there very soon. 

As we waited we were able to meet some of the kids who had been given Make-A-Wish trips. It was so encouraging to meet these brave kids and  their families! 

As I got to the top of the building, all strapped into my harness and looking down on the people  below, who looked like ants, I realized what I had gotten myself into and I was very excited for my turn!  Once I was hooked into the ropes and standing on the edge of the building, I was so encouraged to hear my family and friends cheering me on from below. 

It took me just over 15 minutes to make it 38 stories/480 ft. to the bottom. Exhausted, sore and full of adrenalin, I was grateful to be back on solid ground! After I was unhooked, I got to take a picture with a Make-A-Wish recipient and was greeted with hugs and cheers. It was an experience I will remember the rest of my life and I am so honored to have been chosen to go Over the Edge for Jaxon's F.R.O.G. Foundation! 

 

Make-A-Wish was able to raise just under $500,000 to grant 98 wishes and we were also able to raise $1000 for I Am Courageous! We are so excited to continue to encourage these brave fighters and their families through uplifting music! And YOU were a part of that! YOU are the ones that help us make that happen. Every time you purchase a Spirit Stick, an I Am Courageous t-shirt, or donate to I Am Courageous, YOU are helping make a difference in these families lives! We could not do it without you! Thank you for your generosity and believing in the ministry God has called us to! 

Here are a few more pics of the Over the Edge event. Thanks for hanging out with me today! 

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AuthorJustin Graves

Considering the crazy challenge I have ahead of me this weekend (see blog "Over the Edge"), I had to stop for a minute today to share something very cool. We received an email the other day telling us that there is a church near Manchester, England that is using our song “Strong and Courageous” with their children's ministry! This is not the first time we have received an email like this, but most of the time I forget to share this exciting news! We also know of a kid's ministry in Russia, ministries in Cambodia and the Philippines, churches in Australia and people all across the U.S. who are using and singing this song! How crazy is that!?!

We never imagined what we thought was just a silly little song written for a Sunday morning would have such an impact. We receive emails and notes through Facebook fairly often letting us know how this song has helped a child or family going through a tough situation. People tell us that this has become their family theme song, that it has helped them through a difficult time, or that it has encouraged them to overcome something that they didn't think they could conquer.

It is such an incredible blessing to know that people are using our music and, even though we may not know where, that God is using our songs to uplift, encourage and impact lives all across the globe.

If you don't know our song “Strong and Courageous” or just want to hear it again check out the video below!

We would love to hear how "Strong and Courageous" has encouraged you! Please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page and tell us your story!

Thanks for hanging out with me today!  

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