DiM | “Move (Keep Walkin’)” by TobyMac

disapproveCCM Radio Edition.

April 4, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Move (Keep Walkin’)” by TobyMac which currently sits at #16 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

TobyMac puts out another motivational song devoid of scriptural foundation or prescription. In today’s song, I’m not even sure he’s clear on what the problem is. We’ll work through the lyric together, but this song ends up being the musical equivalent to “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.” There’s no Gospel here, no Law, just empty cheer-leading and an allusion to a false promise. We’ll do our best to clean up the narrative, but frankly this is a rather indulgent and empty motivation song.

Move (Keep Walkin’) Lyric Video

 

Lyrics (via SongLyrics.com)

Verse 1
Another heartbreak day
Feels like you’re miles away
Don’t even need no shade
When your sun don’t shine, shine
Too many passin’ dreams
Roll by like limousines
It’s hard to keep believin’
When they pass you by and by

Pre-Chorus
I know your heart been broke again
I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet
I know you’re feeling like you got nothing left
Well, lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet so

Chorus
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
Move, keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet

Verse 2
Echoin’ inside your head
Are the words that your sweet momma said,
“shoot for the moon, my dear”
So you took aim out of this atmosphere
Between high stakes and pump fakes
You’re feelin’ like you can’t buy a break
I can hold your hand, but I can’t turn your eyes to freedom

Pre-Chorus
I know your heart been broke again
I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet
I know you’re feeling like you got nothing left
Well, lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet so

Chorus
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
Move, keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet

Bridge
Hold on, hold on
Lord ain’t finished yet
Hold on, hold on
He’ll get you through this
Hold on, hold on
These are the promises
I never will forget
I never will forget [x2]

I know your heart been broke again
I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet
it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet so

Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
Move, keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet

Discussion

So the over arching theme of this song is simple: Don’t let your current circumstances bring you down, just keep doing the Christian thing and eventually you’ll have victory.

So what’s wrong with that? Well, the song doesn’t get any more helpful than that, and there are lines that suggest that victory will be born out in our circumstances and that we’ll have our prayers answered because God’s not yet finished with us so we need to move, keep walkin’.

Verse 1. Here, TobyMac presents the dilemma for the first time. What’s the dilemma? Well, we have a heartbreak day when someone feels isolated and alone… but not like in a scorching desert; rather, it’s like being in the dead of winter under a prolonged night… no sunshine. Not clear on the pronouns if it’s a scenario where the person feels that way because their own light isn’t shining (depressed) or if its because of a trial the God has brought (or allowed to be brought) upon the individual. Vague pronoun use is part of TobyMac’s colloquial style. So the unclear sun that doesn’t shine could be an internal mood thing or an external circumstance thing. It’s the next portion of the first verse that has me rather frustrated.

Too many passin’ dreams
Roll by like limousines
It’s hard to keep believin’
When they pass you by and by

So, not only do we have the individual heartbroken over dreams, they’re dreams that roll by like limousines?  So they are big dreams? Is this where our Christian focus should be properly fixed? On the wealthy? on the Celebrity? on the spectacle? Hard to keep believing in what, exactly? Your dream-destiny thingy, or on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ who died on the cross and rose again on the third day so that by His blood we may be forgiven of our sin and gain eternal life? We’re going to camp out on these lines now, because once we get this cleared up the rest of the song is tripe…. and not the tasty kind in Phở Bò.

Firstly, I think we need to visit the 10 Commandments, specifically the last couple of commands:

Exodus 20:1-17 (ESV) | The Ten Commandments
20 And God spoke all these words, saying,

2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Now, often times when we think about the sin of coveting our neighbor’s things, in our minds we connect it to stealing as in, “by allowing ourselves to covet we invite the temptation to steal”. While that is true, that isn’t the only way in which coveting is wrong. Coveting is a sin unto itself, it is the sin of discontentment with the provision of God in our lives. Our coveting of our neighbors things creates enmity between us and our neighbor… and in extreme cases between us and God for not having given us what he gave them. This is a sinful condition that needs repentance and forgiveness that can only be found in Christ Jesus. We weren’t all promised limousines. Contrary to what you’ll find in the local “Christian” bookstore or shared on various evangelical memes, we weren’t even promised dream-destinies or to have our dreams fulfilled. We weren’t even all promised to dream dreams of our purpose or directions for our lifelong pursuits. The song is describing someone who is feeling lonely, heartbroken, in the dark… and possibly coveting those who get to ride in limousines. Whether we take that as a metaphor or literal doesn’t make any difference in this problem… it’s covetous. The individual in question is heartbroken because his/her life isn’t going like his/her neighbor’s.

Pre-Chorus. Once again, not clear about the pronouns here. I have no clue who the “I” is supposed to be, the singer or God? No clue. Are these declarative statements or are they slightly patronizing dismissals of the hurting individual’s “woe is me” rhetoric? Still unclear. So this “I” knows the person’s heartbroken again, and knows their prayers aren’t answered yet? That’s odd. Unless the prayer is to be in heaven, or for Christ to return, or that the heartbroken feeling be taken away, we don’t know anything about these prayers and whether or not they are answered in the affirmative “yet”, or if the answer has already come in the form of “no”. Empty motivation. I’m sure some who seek to defend TobyMac and this song are probably thinking up of some scriptures that “promise” that God always answers His children with a “yes”, but before we go there, let’s see what James wrote about unanswered prayers in light of this song’s setup of potential coveting going on.

James 4:1-10 (ESV) | Warning Against Worldliness

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Well, that doesn’t play into the narrative of this song, does it? What does it mean to humble yourself before God? Repent and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name. It’s not something you can “do”, it is something only He can do and has done For you.

Chorus. Modern evangelicalism is absolutely flooded in works-righteousness. Sure, they give lip service to the Grace of God, but everything they teach, preach, and insist upon is works. They push sanctifying works onto professing Christians to rid themselves of sin or to somehow untie God’s hands so that He can finally grant you that blessing He’s been wanting so badly to give you, His best friend, if only you would let Him. False narrative for a false gospel, from a false god. The Triune God of the Bible doesn’t need you, lowly mortal man, to do anything for Him to then bless or keep you. That’s a lie of the devil. The Truth is far more beautiful.

Ephesians 1:3-14 (ESV) | Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

What did we do for this? Nothing. He did all of it for us.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) | By Grace Through Faith

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

So, you think this “only applies to salvation”, but once saved we need to do our part working in harmony with the Holy Spirit to sanctify ourselves? The Apostle Paul had a different answer to in his letter to the Galatians

Galatians 3:1-9 (ESV) | By Faith, or by Works of the Law?

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Yeah, Paul is clearly talking about continuing in the faith and living the Christian life after having been saved by the Gospel of Jesus Christ (having begun in the Spirit). Splitting justification and sanctification into two categories where Christ’s finished work on the cross justifies us by Grace in one hand, but we need to do our part in working toward sanctification in a separate category is bad theology (are you now being perfected by the flesh?). They are indeed separate terms that communicate different things, but both are works of the Holy Spirit, neither is a work of the flesh.

Verse 2. Wow, didn’t even attempt to bring this to any sort of Biblical narrative. He’s exegeting the proverbial dear old mamma pep-talk of “shoot for the moon”? Really? That isn’t Christianity speaking, that is secular humanism!

Bridge. These are the promises… huh? What promises? From whom? What is TobyMac talking about here? He hasn’t shared any of God’s promises in this song. No Law, No Gospel, No Christ. Just empty encouragements hold on, keep walkin’, soldiering on, and shooting for the moon and hopefully you heart won’t be broken anymore and then you might be the one in the limousine (figuratively or literally, who knows?).

Conclusion

The song is worthless. Maybe TobyMac is struggling with his own career, maybe he is having a crisis of faith and setting it to music hoping to give himself some sort of spark of revival… who knows, but the theology in this song is thin, pale, and vacuous. Please pray for TobyMac and those who clamor to see him. They need the rest that can only be found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

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