There is a certain blanket of wisdom that, if you seek it, comes over time. It wraps around a true and honest place where you are surrounded by good friends and family and have nothing left to prove. A place where you know who you are, you know your purpose, and you’re content to leave the details up to God.
“If you do something long enough, you uncover life lessons along the way,” Paul Baloche says. “You aspire to be faithful to God’s calling in your life, pressing through even when you fall short. And when you hit a certain age, as you grow in your faith, you recognize the potential and the burden of being a leader, realizing ‘I’ve got to step up and be more intentional toward the people God has put in my life.’ And your prayer becomes, ‘Lord, give me grace to finish well.’”
After 27 years of marriage to his wife and songwriting partner Rita, 24 years leading worship at Community Christian Fellowship in Lindale, Texas, 22 years of ministry/recording with Integrity Music and hundreds of teaching resources provided free for churches, one might think Paul Baloche had already qualified for a great finish.
But for this faithful modern hymn writer, author (God Songs: How to Write and Select Songs for Worship), mentor and teacher who once aspired to be a priest, ministry is not a sprint, but a marathon, a long series of obedient steps in the same direction. A path where every aspect of life is forged in fires of passion for Jesus and His Church, and the result is almost always an honest prayer for the Church to sing.
And the Church has responded. Paul Baloche is one of the most acclaimed songwriters of our time. The winner of multiple Dove Awards, he is also the artist behind radio standards, including “Because of Your Love,” “Hosanna (Praise is Rising)” and “Our God Saves.” And he is the writer of top-ranking CCLI songs and modern-day classics such as “Above All,” “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” “A New Hallelujah” and “Your Name.” In short, Paul writes songs that the whole church sings. It’s a calling he doesn’t take lightly.
“When I’m writing worship songs,” Paul explains, “I realize that I’m offering a vocabulary for people to sing back to God. My hope is that, as they sing those words with melodies, it will act as a catalyst in their hearts, creating transformation deep down in their soul.”
Paul’s newest release, a CD/DVD simply and appropriately titled LIVE, is a recording of great passion made possible by complete transparency before the Lord. “On a Friday night outside of Toronto, a thousand leaders came together to form a congregation of one to worship God,” Paul says of the unforgettable night of worship. “A unique sound from singers of varied denominations and generations, raising old hymns and new songs as sung prayers… raw, spontaneous, and unpolished… Our hope was to capture a true and honest expression of worship to our God.”
Featuring 11 memorable, worship-engaging songs, LIVE resounds with resurrection and life, essential, classic songs of hope and faith that carry us through Easter and beyond. From the rousing opening anthems, “Our God Saves,” “God My Rock” and the new Matt Maher co-write “You Lift Us Up,” LIVE sets a tempo of joyful declaration.
“You lift us up, you lift us up, and what was dead is raised again, in your great love…”
From there, Paul leads this congregation of worship leaders into contemplative worship with “The Same Love” and “Jesus Be My Savior,” an emotive, acoustic ballad, sure to become an Easter/communion standard.
“It wasn’t nails that kept Him there, that held our Maker’s hands in place/ It was a love that overcame our sin and shame…”
“Mighty Fortress” and “My Hope” follow, two engaging spin-offs of classic hymns, the first co-written by Paul and Aaron Shust, the latter a revisionist take on the 1834 hymn, “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less,” co-written with Ed Kerr, Sheila Rabe and Alyssa Mellinger.
“He Is Risen,” a powerful, mid-to-up tempo chorus of resurrection and celebration, punctuates LIVE’s undeniable congregational appeal, exhorting all to ‘sing with all creation, sing of a world made new / in His life we too may live, bursting from the tomb….” A brand new song written with worship veteran Graham Kendrick, “He Is Risen” looks beyond Christ’s death and resurrection and toward his glorious return, a perfect lead-in to the Baloche/Brenton Brown-penned “Glorious” and it’s benediction of “Holy, Holy, Holy.”
All in all, LIVE is an inspiring, heartfelt evening of worship intended for an audience of One, a gathering of Spirit-filled believers compelled to sing of their Savior. For more than a quarter century, this has been the heartbeat and calling of Paul Baloche, to write worship songs and invite his brothers and sisters to join in the song. To be real. To be intentional. To live and be present in the worship moment.
“When I meet people who are full of the Spirit—despite their present circumstances, beyond their temperament or attitude—I’m inspired,” Paul says. “I want to be that kind of person, to be in His presence, to read and digest his Word, to make it part of my DNA, to walk it out – to live it out. In the end, I want my life, my music to facilitate a conversation about God and who He is.” –Melissa Riddle Chalos