DiM | “Who I Am” by Blanca

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

May 19, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Who I Am” by Blanca which currently sits at #15 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

We’ll continue using this top 20 song list until I find a better list. Your feedback in this would be greatly appreciated.

I hadn’t planned on reviewing this song for this week, because I was certain that we’d be looking at a song from NeedtoBreathe. However, with this week’s chart update, Bianca’s song came out above the other song, so it will have to wait. Let’s begin today with an Air1 interview of Blanca to see what the meaning behind the song might be:

Behind the Music

Well, that wasn’t very encouraging. Empowerment is clearly the theme. This is about giving yourself a pep talk to do what you want to do without fear. Not a single reference to Scripture, not even a proof text. It comes from a place of empty sloganeering, “when I know whose I am, I know who I am”… /sigh. I hear this sort of emotional elevation of self all of the time whenever I watch contestants on the Voice, America’s Got Talent, and American Idol wax eloquent about their “struggle to overcome doubt and to believe in themselves” to get onto the show. The frustrating thing about this interview is that there doesn’t even seem to be an attempt to point to God, the artist is perfectly comfortable taking a moment to talk about herself, her emotions, her “struggle” to write this first song. Why is that? Because Air1 isn’t expecting that sort of answer, and popular evangelicalism no longer requires it. Let’s move on to the song and its lyrics.

Official Audio (Static Album Cover)

Lyrics (via Air1)

Blanca – Who I Am Lyrics

Another voice, another choice
To listen to words somebody said
Another day
I replay
One too many doubts inside my head

Am I strong
Beautiful
Am I good enough
Do I belong
After all
That I’ve said and done
Is it real
When I feel
I don’t measure up
Am I loved

CHORUS
I’m running to the One who knows me
Who made every part of me in His hands
I’m holding to the One who holds me
‘Cause I know whose I am, I know who I am

I am sure I am Yours

Turning down
Tuning out
Every single word
That caused me pain
Unashamed
And unafraid
‘Cause I believe You mean it when You say

I am strong
Beautiful
I am good enough
I belong
After all
‘Cause of what You’ve done
This is real
What I feel
No one made it up
I am loved

CHORUS

I am sure I am Yours
I know who I am
I am sure I am Yours

Fearfully
Wonderfully
Perfectly
You have made me

I’m running to the One who knows me
I’m holding to the One who holds me

CHORUS

I am sure I am Yours
And I know who I am

Publishing: © 2015 Dayspring Music LLC / Group 1 Crew Music Publishing (BMI)(All rights Adm. by Dayspring Music, LLC)/ CentricSongs, 2 Hour Songs (SESAC) (Adm. by Music Services) / Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Upside Down Under (BMI) (All rights on behalf of itself and Upside Down Under adm. by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC) Produced by Seth Mosley
Writer(s): Blanca Callahan / Seth Mosley / Mia Fieldes

Discussion

Who is the intended audience for this song, believers or unbelievers? We’re going to continue our review assuming the intended audience is believers because there is no Law or Gospel to be found in the song. None. So if this song is intended for believers, what is the message to the believer? Well, let’s work through the lyrics.

The song begins with doubts and questions in the first verse. What are the doubts in the singer’s head?

  1. Am I strong?
  2. (Am I) Beautiful?
  3. Am I good enough?
  4. Do I belong, After all, That I’ve said and done?
  5. Is it real, When I feel, I don’t measure up?
  6. Am I loved?

The song then answers these questions by simply rephrasing the questions into declarative statements.

  1. I am strong
  2. (I am) Beautiful
  3. I am good enough
  4. I belong, After all, ‘Cause of what You’ve done
  5. This is real, What I feel, No one made it up
  6. I am loved

So what changed? Who is the “You” in the 4th answer and what did “You” do? How does the 5th answer resolve its question? Let’s look at the chorus to see if it clarifies anything

I’m running to the One who knows me
Who made every part of me in His hands
I’m holding to the One who holds me
‘Cause I know whose I am, I know who I am
I am sure I am Yours

Is this the Gospel? That God knows us and He made us? No. It is true that He made us and knows us, but that doesn’t make it Gospel. How does the singer know for sure that she is God’s? She doesn’t share that in this song. Later, in the bridge, there is a reference to being fearfully and wonderfully (and perfectly?) made by God. So what is the message of this song?

I am exactly what God made me to be, He loves me as I am, the only thing about me that needs to change is how I talk about myself in my head.

What a tragic message, even for Christians.

The Call to Repent is for the Christian, too

There is a misconception in modern-day evangelicalism that anything that feels negative is of the devil and all things positive are godly. Discipline is negative, but necessary for godliness. Repentance is a turning away from sin, going the opposite direction from what your fleshly desires and temptations are leading you. In the moment, it feels very negative. That Law of God convicts us of our sin and kills our flesh. Let’s look at how the Apostle Paul explains this dynamic in Romans 7:

Romans 7:7-24 (ESV) | The Law and Sin
7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Paul makes clear “who I am”, even as Christians, we are wretched and sinful. Our flesh is sinful. By faith, we have joined in Christ’s death in baptism and in His resurrection to new life (Romans 6). We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit for the day of Resurrection, when we will at-last put off this mortal flesh of sin and be given new bodies in the Kingdom of Heaven. Until that great and glorious day, by faith we must repent of our sins daily and crucify our flesh and walk in the Spirit of the Living God. We walk in the already and the not yet. We Christians walk on this earth simultaneously sinners (by flesh) and justified (by faith in Christ).

Romans 8:1-4 (ESV) | Life in the Spirit
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-26 (ESV) | Keep in Step with the Spirit
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Having been reminded of the who we are and who Christ is and the centrality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, let us revisit the questions posed in this song, and give real answers to them.

  1. Am I strong?
    No child, you are weak in the flesh. Christ is our only strength, look to Him, not yourself.

    2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV) 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  2. (Am I) Beautiful?
    By what measure? Set your heart and mind on things above.

    1 Peter 3:3-4 (ESV) 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
    Romans 10:14-15 (ESV) 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
  3. Am I good enough?
    No, you aren’t. There has only ever been One who is good enough, and He laid down His life on the cross, so that by His Blood, you might be saved.Romans 3:21-26 (ESV) | The Righteousness of God Through Faith
    21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
  4. Do I belong, After all, That I’ve said and done?
    If your place in the Kingdom of God, in the Body of Christ, were dependent upon what you’ve said and done, you wouldn’t belong, no. Praise be to Our God and Father that it isn’t about what we’ve said and done, but upon Christ’s finished work on the cross. Now humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and repent of your sins and be forgiven, in Jesus’ Name.1 John 1:8-9 (ESV) 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  5. Is it real, When I feel, I don’t measure up?
    Our hope is not in what we see or feel; rather, it is by faith that we hold onto the promise of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus Christ Our Lord. Of your own, you don’t measure up; however, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ by faith.Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
  6. Am I loved?
    Absolutely. Your are loved. God loved you even when you were dead in your sins and trespasses, so much so, in fact that He gave His Only Begotten Son so that you might have eternal life.John 3:16-18 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World
    16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

The song doesn’t share the gospel, not for the unbeliever nor for the believer. Some readers might argue that “running to the one who knows me” is code for repentance. While I disagree with that notion, if that is truly what you think when you hear the line, then God bless you for having the proper response to this song. My concern is for those less grounded in their faith to have a better footing in the Word of God.

In the end, I cannot endorse this song fully. It is my prayer that at least whenever the song plays on the radio, your mind will focus on the Truth of God’s word rather than on empty “empowerment”.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) | Benediction

20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Amen, Indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Evidence” by Citizen Way

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

May 12, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Evidence” by Citizen Way which currently sits at #17 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

We’ll continue using this top 20 song list until I find a better list. Your feedback in this would be greatly appreciated.

This song has no depth. There is a thin veneer of truth that is worth mentioning, so I haven’t completely disqualified this song, but it needs some work. The best construction on this song would be a reminder to Christians that Faith without Works is dead. We’ll discuss that in detail below, but this song also has some dangerous ideas running through it, namely the false-notion that our ability to Love people (Law: love your neighbor as yourself) is the only way the lost can find Salvation. That’s bunk, and it’s dangerous.

VEVO Lyric Video

[youtube https://youtu.be/zotmQph6xEc]

Lyrics (via KLOVE)

Evidence by Citizen Way

It’s not a flag on a field
It’s not a sign in my yard
Not a cause that I join
Not a phrase on a coin
It’s the change in my heart
Mercy and grace and compassion
They’re only words without action
I need hands that are open
Reaching out to broken hearts
Cuz’ that’s the only way this world
Will ever know who
You are Love is the evidence
Love is the evidence
Might be the pain that you share
Might be the time that you spend
Or the war you don’t fight
Backing down from your pride
After all in the end
My life wasn’t changed by an argument
That never would have been enough
My life was changed by the evidence of love
Your hands that were open
Reaching out to my broken heart

Publishing: Fair Trade Music Publishing (ASCAP) (admin. by Music Services); Meaux Hits / Bears In the Bowl (ASCAP) (admin. by EMICMG Publishing). All rights reserved. Writer(s): Ben Calhoun; Jeff Pardo

Discussion

Let’s start with the problem of the false evangelical premise of the song.  The false premise is that of the quote falsely attributed to Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel and when necessary use words”. Preaching of the Gospel requires the use of God’s Word. You can’t “demonstrate” the Gospel to anyone without first speaking Truth. Without preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, your “good works” point others to you, not Christ. We’ll come back to this point in a moment. The first pre-chorus actually infuriates me: mercy and grace and compassion are only words without action. The context for this statement to be a valid one is extremely narrow, and really shouldn’t be driven into our heads in an ambiguous song on the airwaves. Who is the speaker of this song? There are phrases that identify the earthly individual as the speaker of the song, “My life”, “my broken heart”, “change in my heart”… so is the singer a Christian or an unbeliever demanding more evidence from the Christian who is sharing the Gospel with him? If the former, the assertion that mercy, grace, compassion are nothing without action is obnoxious. God’s grace, mercy, and compassion are the reason the Earth yet remains, and why we even have the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we are talking only about earthly grace, mercy, compassion of believers… sinful, fleshly believers, the statement still falls flat. Restraint, the absence of self-seeking action (vengeance/judgement/vindication) is the predominant form of grace and mercy in our daily walks. Forgiveness isn’t always an action. Mercy and Grace are not always actions, many times they are exemplified by inaction. However, as we discovered in our walk through the Sermon on the Mount, even in the midst of practicing the good work of extending outward grace/mercy/compassion to our neighbor, our sinful hearts sully our good works. If the singer of the song is an unbeliever demanding proof from the one preaching the Gospel, then we are dealing with a red herring. The unbeliever is fully accountable for his unbelief.

Romans 1:18-32 (ESV) | God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

It isn’t up to you to provide evidence of the Gospel. Despite what any unbeliever demands of you or even swears to you, they don’t need anymore proof that God exists than what He has already provided. They need to die to the Law of sin unto repentance and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to New Life. Hands that are open… The open hands that we are in desperate need of daily are those nail-pierced hands of Jesus Christ, who perfectly fulfilled the Law of Righteousness and then gave up His life as an atoning sacrifice for our sin, so that by faith we might not only be spared the due punishment for our sin but that His Righteousness would be bestowed upon us at the Resurrection. Oh how I wish that this was the direction the writers of this song had taken… but it isn’t. The writers aren’t pointing to Christ, they are pointing fingers at Christians who “need to do a better job of obeying the second greatest commandment: love your neighbor as yourself”. Dear reader, these two themes don’t fit together. We’ll talk about the work of the Law in the Christian’s life, but for now we need to make a clear distinction: the unbeliever is not granted saving faith by the believer’s keeping of the Law, nor is it dependent upon the believer living a sin-free earthly life. If it were, no one would ever come to saving faith after Jesus ascended into heaven. The only person who could ever legitimately demonstrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in that manner, was Jesus Christ, the only truly Righteous and Good Person, completely sinless. The rest of us rely on faith in the Word of God. Cuz’ that’s the only way this world will ever know who You are. Is that what the Bible teaches? No. There is buried here an allusion to something Jesus said:

John 13:34-35 (ESV) 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

It’s only an allusion to what Jesus was teaching. To suggest that this teaches the only way that we might evangelize unbelievers is to twist this text. This relates to the authenticity of their faith in Gospel of Jesus Christ designating them (and we also who Believe) as His disciples. All people will know that we are truly His disciples by our love for each other. Jesus doesn’t include the notion that this is also how unbelievers will suddenly start believing in Christ. That’s not in the text. The Apostle Paul clearly instructed how people are to come to saving faith in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 10:11-17 (ESV) 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ must be preached… with words, specifically, the Word of Christ. The Law cannot be skipped in the Preaching of Christ, for His first purpose was to fulfill the Law on our behalf. Therefore, we are to preach both Law and Gospel, for that is the ONLY way that the unbeliever is granted faith. Sadly, not all who hear the gospel obey it… some will inexplicably continue in the condemnation of their sin

John 3:16-18 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

It is not up to you to “prove” to the unbeliever the Truth of the Gospel. It isn’t up to you to grant the unbeliever saving faith. That isn’t your part in their salvation. Your part is to preach the Word of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that opens the ears, hearts, and minds of the hearers of the Gospel. The burden of the unbeliever’s unbelief isn’t yours to bear. Preach the Word. Now then, let us look to the element of truth in the general theme of the song. We are commanded to love one another as Christ loved us. Once we have come to saving faith, we are caught in the daily struggle between the sin that dwells in our flesh and the Spirit of God who fills us. Until the day we finally put off this flesh of sin, we will have to put to death our selfish, sinful desires and seek first the kingdom of God. We are commanded to Love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and to Love our neighbors as ourselves… and we will continue falling short of this Law until the Resurrection. Our hope remains fixed on Christ’s Finished work on the cross… it doesn’t shift to our ability to keep the Law, we are to remain humbly repentant of our sins. Give us this each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins (Luke 11)… Jesus taught us to pray daily. Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. The world sees your sin, and proposes the impossible test of “prove your righteousness and then I’ll accept your God”, as a red herring, a smoke-screen distraction from their own sin and need of a Savior from the Just Wrath of God. Jesus Christ, the righteous Judge sets the terms, not the defendants. God is faithful, and it was He who began a good work in you for it was by Him that you were brought to saving faith. Let’s look to James 2 for a moment.

James 2:14-26 (ESV) | Faith Without Works Is Dead 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Dear Christian, please don’t be scared of James, nor distracted by those who would use James to burden Christians under the works of the Law. James is pointing to a faith problem, not a conduct/discipline problem. Genuine faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ produces fruit in the believer, and as the believer grows in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, so will the fruit by faith. If there is no fruit, James is pointing to the problem of a lack of faith as the cause of the lack of fruit. So many preachers today flip it around, as though by some manipulating of good works of the law can instill faith. That’s not how it works, and that is not the focus of  James. If you have faith, the works will follow, for we are not saved by good works, we are saved by faith for good works (Eph 2).

Conclusion

So here’s the idea: as Christians, we need to be reminded daily of our need for a Savior. We need to hear the Law preached lawfully, so that our flesh, our sinful nature remain crucified, but we also need the Life of the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached so that our faith can grow and be sustained. When our good works fade, the answer is to return to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Repent and be forgiven, and in the same measure that you are forgiven forgive others. In the same measure that you are loved by Jesus, love others. We will fail, He knows this, and He is faithful and Just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us of our unrighteousness. We are commanded to love others as Christ loved us, and when we fail we are to repent of our sin. Preach the Word of God faithfully and humbly so that the lost might hear of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that by the Grace of God they might come to saving faith. If your life is not bearing any fruit, its time to examine your faith… most often what we find is we’ve gone dry from spending so much time under Law without Gospel, and we’ve allowed our focus to drift away from the cross and onto our own ability (truly inability) to keep the Law of Righteousness. We need to keep an eye on our brothers and sisters in Christ and lovingly stir each other up, by reminding each other of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

James 5:19-20 (ESV) 19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Whenever this song plays on the radio, think on these things rather than what the song is pushing. Preach Law and Gospel to both the unbeliever (that he might be saved) and the believer (that he might be encouraged). Amen. In Christ Jesus, Jorge

DiM | “Holy Spirit” by Francesca Battistelli

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

May 05, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Holy Spirit” by Francesca Battistelli which currently sits at #18 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

We’ll continue using this top 20 song list until I find a better list. Your feedback in this would be greatly appreciated.

This song is emotionally powerful and beautifully sung. It comes to us through Francesca Battistelli, but is in-fact written by the folks at Jesus Culture, Bryan & Katie Torwalt. They are the worship band/team at Bethel Redding, CA, where Bill Johnson holds court. Bill Johnson is a false teacher and his Bethel is a mystical cult. One aspect of their false teaching is that of “presence” theology. The idea that the point of worship is to invite the Holy Spirit of God into their worship in such a way that He will manifest Himself, most often they allude to the Glory Cloud as in the Tabernacle in the wilderness. Bethel claims a lot of manifestations, gold dust, the glory cloud, even claiming that God the Holy Spirit looks like the blue genie in Disney’s Aladdin. This theology is the genesis of today’s song.  We will review it, and do our best to correct the false theology that sits under the hood.

Official (Audio) Music Video

Behind the Song

Lyrics (via KLOVE)

Holy Spirit
Francesca Battistelli

There’s nothing worth more
That could ever come close
No thing can compare
You’re our living hope
Your presence, Lord

I’ve tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone
Your presence, Lord

CHORUS
Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

There’s nothing worth more
That could ever come close
No thing can compare
You’re our living hope
Your presence, Lord

I’ve tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone
Your presence, Lord

CHORUS

Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness

CHORUS

Publishing: © 2011 Bryan & Katie Torwalt (ASCAP) (All rights adm. by Jesus Culture Music) Produced by Ian Eskelin
Writer(s): Brian & Katie Torwalt

Discussion

Okay, so here we have a “worship song” that seeks to entreat the Spirit of God to come into the room/sanctuary/life and grant those singing an experience of His goodness. There are a couple of problems with that, the first is that as Christians we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us by faith. The second problem is that the worship seems conditional upon having an emotional experience of the presence of God the Holy Spirit. Emotions are fickle, fleshly, and easily manipulated.

Hebrews 11:1-3 (ESV) | By Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Faith is not an emotion, nor is it grown by emotion. Read through the whole of Hebrews 11, search out each referent and see how faith sustained them despite circumstance or emotion. Their faith is in who God is, not what they felt, and that faith was accredited to them as righteousness.

Taste and See

Mystics tend to latch onto these types of phrases to hyper-inflate empirical (experiential) spiritual knowledge. The idea that one can “try” or “taste” the Gospel and it will be so good to them that they’ll be won over and saved. This “taste and see” comes from Psalm 34. I’ll leave it to you to read Psalm 34 in its entirety in your personal time. The Apostle Peter makes reference to this Psalm, so lets begin there.

1 Peter 2:1-12 (ESV) | A Living Stone and a Holy People

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is goodAs you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
    a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,”

and

“A stone of stumbling,
    and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

To what is Peter referring, an emotional experience or forgiveness by faith? Notice he mentioned it as a past-tense experience, If indeed you have tasted, Peter is talking about salvation. Does Peter encourage his audience to seek their own experiences like what he and his fellow Apostles experienced? Peter witnessed Jesus transfigured into His Glory, and He heard the voice of God the Father audibly. What does Peter say about such experiences?

2 Peter 1:16-21 (ESV) | Christ’s Glory and the Prophetic Word

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Rather than push others to having their own supernatural experience, Peter points to Scripture as prophetic and more fully confirmed than even his experience of witnessing the transfiguration of Jesus Christ. Peter points them to the Word. Peter charges them to walk by faith. Right after this section, Peter moves on into strong warning against false teaching.

We Have the Holy Spirit

I’d like to revisit the problem of this song presenting a notion that we need to somehow invite the Holy Spirit to fill us again, and again, and again, (particularly during Sunday Morning Worship). Is that what is taught in Scripture? Quite the opposite, in fact. The Holy Spirit doesn’t leave us waiting for us to re-invite Him if we “worship Him correctly”.  Are there times He moves upon/within His people in a special manner? Yes, but that’s up to Him, by His Grace not by any of our works. Let’s go to Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthians to see this play out.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (ESV) | Flee Sexual Immorality

12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

You are not your own, if indeed you have been bought by the Blood of Jesus Christ. If by faith you have been saved, then the Holy Spirit is within you, His temple. Paul is reminding them that they are the temples of the Holy Spirit; therefore, they are not to present their bodies for sexual immorality, because of the offense to the Holy Spirit who indwells them by the Promise of Jesus Christ. This is NOT something that comes and goes, dear Christian! When we sin, we must repent and be forgiven of sin by faith. Sexual Immorality is a sin against God and our bodies and against the Holy Spirit who indwells us. Serious, serious, stuff. But know that for all who have believed in Christ, who have called upon His name by Grace through faith have been adopted as sons of God, sealed by His Spirit until the Day of the upward Call in Christ Jesus.

Conclusion

As pretty and poetic this song seems, I cannot endorse it. The song is a request for an emotional experience, I cannot even call it a “worship song”. Worship God for who He is and what He has done. Take great care not to force some emotional/spiritual experience as a replacement for worshiping Him. There is a huge difference between praying to God for Him to meet a need and asking for a sign (be it emotional or spiritual).

Luke 11:27-30 (ESV) 27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” 29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, He who fulfilled the Law completely and offered Himself as the propitiation of God’s Wrath against sin, so that by faith in Him we might be made the righteousness of God, is all we will ever need. God’s Spirit indwells all who are His by faith in the Promise of salvation. There will be times when you “feel it”, but He is there even when you don’t “feel it”… this isn’t about feelings, it’s about faith. He is our Hope. Rest in Him by Faith.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “The Maker” by Chris August

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

April 28, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “The Maker” by Chris August which currently sits at #17 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

We’ll continue using this top 20 song list until I find a better list. Your feedback in this would be greatly appreciated.

This is an emotionally centered song of encouragement with a generally Christian theme, though not explicit. It is theologically shallow, save for one solid line in the bridge. It falls squarely into the category of “well, that’s a pleasant song”. Let’s look at the song and then look at some related passages of Scripture to help us ground our thoughts in the Word whenever this song plays on the radio.

Official Music Video

Lyrics (via KLOVE)

The Maker by Chris August

I see You in the sunrise
I see You in the rain
I see You in the laughter
I feel You through the pain

Everything that You have made is beautiful
Oh, my God, I can’t believe my eyes
But in all of this to think that You would think of me
Makes my heart come alive

CHORUS
Your love is like a mighty fire deep inside my bones
I feel like I could climb a thousand mountains all at once
And I never have to wonder if somebody cares for me
I love the Maker
And the Maker loves me

I see You, You are creation
I see the grandness of Your majesty
The universe is singing all Your glory
I can’t believe You live inside of me

Everything that You have made is beautiful
Oh, my God, I can’t believe my eyes
But in all of this to think that You would think of me
Makes my heart come alive

CHORUS

More than just some words upon a page
You’ve shown me in a million ways
But there is one that stands above them all
Hands of creation on a cross

CHORUS

Publishing: © 2015 Word Music, LLC (ASCAP) / Wondrous Made Songs a div. of Wondrous Worship & Llano Music, LLC (BMI) (Adm. by Music Services) Produced by Ed Cash
Writer(s): Chris August / Ed Cash

Discussion

The song doesn’t press beyond the emotional level of “wow, God’s Creation is awesome and He loves me!” Is that bad? Well, if you are looking for real encouragement it falls short, but if you’re just looking for a pleasant song that acknowledges God as the Creator then it’s fine. I’d like to really give this song some solid points, though, for the bridge. Were it not for the bridge making a clear reference to the Cross, my overall opinion of the song would have been panentheism. I didn’t catch the line when I was just listening to the song on the radio or when I was reviewing the music video, but it is clearly in the lyric and once I started looking for it I found it in the video, so it’s there. It really saved the song in my opinion. I read his biography on TCM.com, and recognized that he really is just a musician trying to make a living playing music but also wanting to make “more Christian songs”. I think we should expect more of church worship leaders, but for “good, clean entertainment” I think he fits the bill, and hope the best for his career. Truly, I’d like to see evidence of a more grounded walk with Christ in his music with a little less of the artistic appeal to emotional inspiration we see in secular music. The world is lost, unbelievers who reject the God of Creation and are left to empty words of affirmation for their “inspirational music”. We have Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life. We have the Truth of the Gospel preserved by the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures. That’s real, that’s deeper than any fleeting emotion or empty praise of men.

Psalm 95  (ESV) | Let Us Sing Songs of Praise
1 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
3 For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
 let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8     do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”

Compare the overall focus of Psalm 95 to today’s song and see how they compare and contrast.

The strong point of this song is that it connected “the Maker” to Jesus’ Death on the Cross. Let’s flesh that out a bit more.

John 1:1-18 (ESV) | The Word Became Flesh
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Indeed, Jesus is our Creator. He loves us enough to lay down His life in payment for our sin. Repent, therefore, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

John 3:16-18 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “More Than You Think I Am” by Danny Gokey

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

April 21, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “More Than You Think I Am” by Danny Gokey which currently sits at #16 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

We’ll continue using this top 20 song list until I find a better list. Your feedback in this would be greatly appreciated.

We have another song of encouragement, with an extra shot of espresso. Danny Gokey’s voice is amazing, and this song was masterfully produced, but I cannot recommend this song to anyone for any purpose beyond practicing discernment. This song displays a theology along the lines of Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling. The real answers the Bible offers for the hurting, the questions, and the fears we face are far greater than any man-made philosophy, pep-talk, or song.

VEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLOVE)

More Than You Think I Am by Danny Gokey

You always think I’m somewhere on a mountaintop
But never think behind bars
You’d be amazed the places that I go
To be with you, where you are

So forget what you’ve heard
What you think that you know
There’s a lot about Me
That’s never been told

CHORUS
I’m more than you dream
More than you understand
Your days and your times
Were destined for our dance
I catch all your tears
Burn your name on My heart
Be still and trust My plan
I’m more than you think I am
More than you think I am

Rumor has it there’s a gavel in My hand
I’m only here to condemn
But let Me tell you secrets you have never known
I think of you as My best friend

So much has been said
Even done in My name
But I’m showing you now
Who I really am

CHORUS

Let me open your eyes to see
The heart of Me, differently oh oh
Come closer than you’ve ever been
Let Me in like never before
Bring Me every broken part
The wounds and scars of who you are
Hide in Me and you will see…

CHORUS

More than you think I am
More than you think I am
I’m more than you think I am

Publishing: © 2014 Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp./Goes Something Like THiS Music/Nichols’ Boys Music (BMI) © 2014 G650 Music, Pure Note Music, Songs of Universal, Inc. (BMI) © 2014 BMG Platinum Songs/Creative Heart Publishing/Admin by BMG Rights Management (BMI) Used By Permission. All Rights Reserved.
Writer(s): Danny Gokey/Bernie Herms/Tim Nichols

Discussion

The musical and vocal talent in this song is fantastic. The lyrical content is at-best drivel (on the order of Sarah Young) or at worst dangerous (like Bill or Beni Johnson of Bethel, CA). For the unbeliever, this song is absolutely dangerous because it falsely elevates the unbeliever to the status of God’s Best friend. To the Believer, it is still dangerous if it serves to reinforce bad theology. We will not be trying to put a good construction on this song. Let’s get to the major problems in the lyrics.

There’s a lot about Me, That’s never been told. Okay, so this is the point in the song where my head sort of exploded (not literally). It is one thing to tell someone they have been taught a false gospel, or have been deceived by false teachers, but to claim that God is telling the listener that He is going to tell them things about Himself that have never been told is absolutely treacherous. While one can make the philosophical (or metaphysical) argument that there is a lot about God that has never been told, whatever God hasn’t revealed of Himself to us in His Word is NOT for us to know or speculate on in the here and now. When we see God in the Kingdom of Heaven, we will stand amazed at all that He is, and still not fully know what He has not revealed, for we are the creation and He is the Creator. God is not revealing things about Himself to us individually that He hasn’t revealed of Himself in His Word. He simply isn’t. God’s Word is the standard by which we measure all things. If God were to reveal something of Himself that has never been revealed, we’d have no way to confirm it in His Word. Therefore, I know that God wouldn’t do it. What’s worse, if any claim to a revelation of God (Father/Jesus/Holy Spirit) is such that it cannot be validated in Scripture then we know that it isn’t of God; rather, it is a demon posing as an angel of light. There is also the lines invoking some sort of post-modern “forget what you know or think you know”. What is that? To whom is this song addressed, Christians? Forget what they’ve heard? like the Gospel? This actually reminds me a lot of Rob Bell and his nonsense.

But let Me tell you secrets you have never known, I think of you as My best friend. This is attempting to say a lot more than “God loves you”. This is intended to paint a picture of God wooing the listener, in much the same way as Sarah Young’s “Jesus Calling” mysticism. But notice the 2 lines before this one… “rumor has it there’s a gavel in my hand”… This line is intended to refute the idea that God is a Judge. When Jesus first walked this earth, it is true He didn’t come to judge, but to save. From what did He come to save? God’s Judgement. Oh, so there IS a gavel. Yes.

John 3:16-18 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

2 Timothy 4:5-8 (ESV)
5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

But isn’t there a passage in John where Jesus does call the disciples His friends? Yes. Let’s look at it.

John 15:12-17 (ESV) 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Still doesn’t reflect the context of this song, and even refutes the earlier points of some secret as-yet untold revelation of God. Nonsense. Jesus IS the revelation of God and He is returning to Judge creation.

But I’m showing you now, Who I really am. This stanza is horrible. Who is doing the showing? What is being shown? This song is designed to entice the listener to forget what they’ve heard about God, forget that the Bible is the Word of God, how He has revealed Himself to man, and to openly embrace some new secret that elevates the status of man to “best friend” of God, whose name has been burned into God’s very heart. This is mysticism. Just open up for something new and never before revealed encounter with god, and do so stripped of any discernment, whatsoever. Dangerous.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV) | Preach the Word
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge