DiM | “Oh My Soul” by Casting Crowns

Presentation1CCM Edition.

April 17, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Oh My Soul” by Casting Crowns which currently sits at #12 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

This song and the heartfelt discussion with Mark Hall are a great example of the limitations of finding assurance inside of yourself when you are the one who has been rocked by trials. Revivalism doesn’t leave anywhere to go except “try harder, hold on longer, lay it all down”. It’s a beautiful song from a real place of hurt and struggle. But it lacks clear answers and solid assurance in the external Word of God. I’ll do my best to bear this out. There are also some statements in the song that I think are unhelpful, biblically speaking. Let’s listen to the song and let Mark Hall explain the story behind it. Then we’ll work through the lyric.

Official Lyric Video

Story Behind the Song with Mark Hall

Lyrics (via KLOVE)

Oh, my soul
Oh, how you worry
Oh, how you’re weary, from fearing you lost control
This was the one thing, you didn’t see coming
And no one would blame you, though
If you cried in private
If you tried to hide it away, so no one knows
No one will see, if you stop believing

Oh, my soul
You are not alone
There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know
One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down
‘Cause you’re not alone

Here and now
You can be honest
I won’t try to promise that someday it all works out
‘Cause this is the valley
And even now, He is breathing on your dry bones
And there will be dancing
There will be beauty where beauty was ash and stone
This much I know

Oh, my soul
You are not alone
There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know
One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down

I’m not strong enough, I can’t take anymore
(You can lay it down, you can lay it down)
And my shipwrecked faith will never get me to shore
(You can lay it down, you can lay it down)
Can He find me here
Can He keep me from going under

Oh, my soul
You’re not alone
There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know
One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down
‘Cause you’re not alone
Oh, my soul, you’re not alone

Publishing: © 2016 Be Essential Songs (BMI) (adm. at EssentialMusicPublishing.com)/My Refuge Music (BMI) (adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)/Songs of Universal, Inc. (BMI)/G650 Music (BMI)
Writer(s): Mark Hall, Bernie Herms


So let us begin our discussion with the video of Mark sharing the story behind the song. Cancer is rough. Cancer is a product of the fall and the curse of sin on all of creation. When I was young, I watched my father battle cancer for 7 years. The LORD showed mercy on our family by healing my dad. The doctors had only given him 1 year to live. This was almost 30 years ago. While this was a truly dark period of my childhood, and a scary time in our lives, and while God did heal my father… our theology as a family did not come out soundly. During this time, we fell into the NAR under Bill Hamon, and my parents are still caught up in this system. That God heals is a wonderful act of grace and mercy upon us, but it isn’t a sign that our theology is right. We know that our theology is right when it lines up with what the Written Word of God teaches. Mark references something King David wrote. Let’s look at Psalms 42 and 43.

Psalm 42 (ESV) | Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.
42 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation 6 and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

Psalm 43 (ESV) | Send Out Your Light and Your Truth

43 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
deliver me!
2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?
3 Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

So, a minor point here is that this was probably not a Psalm of David; rather, it was by the sons of Korah, who were among those David placed in charge of the service of song at the Tabernacle (1 Chronicles 6:31-48). The 43 Psalm is a conclusion or extended answer to Psalm 42. Read through the struggles and you’ll see that this refrain, “Why are you cast down, O my soul…” is a call to place your trust not in your own strength but to Hope in God. I think Mark Hall gets this mostly right, but there’s still this focus on “what I need to do to endure until God steps in” that I think is missing the point. The goodness, kindness, and mercy of God isn’t contingent upon whether or not He sees fit to heal us (or a loved one) of cancer or rescue us from prison in this temporal life. These Psalms aren’t telling us to somehow realign our faith and “things will get better”. They are telling us to Hope in God who is our Salvation. This is looking long-range, the consolation of Israel and beyond, to the Return of Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 1:3-12 (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. Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

As long as we push goal line beyond our temporal horizons and place our trust in God for our eternal salvation, this song bears good encouragement. The problem area in this song is when we try to apply eternal promises to temporal situations. God hasn’t promised temporal healing or prosperity… He has promised these things to His Church in Eternity. Now, let’s look at the lyric of the song.

Verse 1. Well, it’s honest. As a youth Pastor in American Evangelicalism, he’s supposed to have all of the answers. He is supposed to have it all figured out. Sure, we want him to admit he has “struggles, trials, doubts” because that’s how we want our church leaders to present themselves, but they are supposed to be living the triumphant Christian life. That’s why they can teach about “5 steps to overcoming {insert bad habit}” or “One thing you can do to hear God’s voice” or “how to know when God is opening that door”, etc. Youth Pastors don’t teach what the Word of God says, they are expected to teach the youth how to apply God’s Word to their every day lives. At least, that’s how the evangelical industrial complex and those who push these “leadership training” conferences at mega churches would lead us to think is expected of dynamic youth leaders. In that system or paradigm of “doing church”, it is indeed understandable for someone to consider hiding the fact that such a terrible calamity has fallen upon you, the youth leader, and it has completely rocked your world and plummeted you into despair. Or let’s kick it up a notch, and say that instead of a seemingly random calamity of cancer, instead the leader realizes he’s caught up in grave sin. Maybe it’s that DUI, drug or alcohol addiction, or maybe it’s that one-night-stand, or homosexual temptation, or maybe it’s a secret sexual relationship suddenly comes to light or produces a pregnancy? These are all major problems currently wrecking havoc on the visible church here in the west (Perry Noble, Clayton Jennings, and Tullian Tchvidjian). Why am I including these problems when Mark Hall was only writing about his battle with despair over his diagnosis of cancer? The lyric of the song is general and doesn’t specify the source of the singer’s sorrow. In that vagueness, which is intended to cover a variety of situations similar to what the writer is thinking about, there is a lot of room for sloppy application of this song to comfort folks without confronting their sin.

Chorus. There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know. It sounds profound. What happens when the God you know isn’t really the God of the Scriptures, but is the product of revivalism and false promises pushed by folks on TBN or presented by Joel Osteen? While there is room for inner monologue, a sense of reminding ourselves to look to God for our salvation for He is our salvation, it’s not enough to keep looking within for that encouragement. When it is our very soul that is downcast, what good is it to look within our soul for the God we know to lay down our fear? It’s the equivalent of telling someone else to “snap out of it” when they are legitimately stricken with grief. That sort of thing only works with a person who is foolishly grieving. Genuine grief isn’t so easily shaken. They need hope, they need the Gospel preached to them from an external source, something that isn’t contingent upon their internal struggling, they need to hear it from the Written Word of God. Where God has placed His promises. One more day, He will make a way. I think this is my least favorite line in this song. It’s an empty promise fueled by a misunderstanding of the Gospel. Firstly, there’s no guarantee that God’s way isn’t to let the person die. Secondly, the hope of the Gospel isn’t to “hold on for one more day”, it’s to know right now, today, I’m forgiven of my sin in Jesus’ Name. It is the Biblical assurance of my salvation through Faith in Christ Jesus and His finished work on the Cross that grants me the strength to die in peace, or hold on for one more day, or one more decade, whatever the LORD has ordained for me in this temporal life. This thought is somewhat addressed in the next verse with the line, “I won’t try to promise that someday it all works out” but it ends up feeling like double-speak. What is being expressed is a “just hold out for one more day” motivation. He’s trying not to promise that anything good will happen in that next day while simultaneously pushing for a motivation to hold on one more day. Just preach the Gospel, encourage the listener to keep their faith firmly planted and rooted in the Promise of eternity.

Verse 2. The song continues with the honesty thing of sharing doubts and reservations. We already acknowledged the attempt to caveat the promise of temporal resolution to whatever circumstance. Very tired of these revivalist artists continuing to eisegete Ezekiel 37.  God clearly provided the interpretation of that vision in that chapter. Please read it. If you are a believer, it is only because God has raised you from the dead state of sin you were in. He did that already by His Grace and Mercy, granting you saving faith.

Bridge. The point here is to turn from the honesty of having doubt to an anthem of encouragement, to pick yourself back up and be motivated to shake off the despair of the soul. The reference to the shipwrecked faith here isn’t good. Within the revivalism of the modern church, he’s talking about faith as the will do do what is good. That’s not really the Biblical definition of Faith, and when the Bible talks about shipwrecked faith, Paul is writing concerning those who’ve been led astray by false teachers (1 Tim 1). A shipwrecked faith needs the clear preaching of Law and Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit to bring such a person to contrition and faith.

James 5:19-20 (ESV) My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 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.


It’s a beautiful song, and my heart goes out to Mark Hall and his family. Cancer is scary for everyone involved. I pray that LORD continue to show grace and mercy to him and his family. I can genuinely appreciate the honesty in this song, and CCM could use more honest writing concerning real doubts and fears we face in this fallen world. However, that alone doesn’t make it a great song for Christian edification as there is no clear pointing to the Gospel. The listener is pointed to his own efforts to submit his fear to his faith in the God he knows. The song falls in that “hang in there” vein. I think the song also lacks clarity in distinguishing the anguish of the soul that results from conviction of unrepentant sin or false teaching from the anguish of earthly trials and struggles such as cancer. The listener has to do a lot of work to keep the song within Biblical limits. It can be done. For the listener who regularly hears the preached Word of God rightly divided (both Law and Gospel), this song can bring encouragement in times of struggle.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “One Step Away” by Casting Crowns

Presentation1CCM Radio Edition.

August 16, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “One Step Away” by Casting Crowns, which currently sits at #18 on 20theCountdownMagazine.

Overall, the song presents itself as a generalization of the parable of the prodigal son. I think it misses the mark by being too broad in scope of the problem and too vague in it’s solution. While there is no glaring error in the song’s lyric, it doesn’t stand on its own and there is no clear Gospel. I spent most of my time trying to appeal to individual I think the song is trying to reach.

Unofficial* Lyric Video

* Casting Crowns hasn’t released a video of this song on YouTube yet, so I plan on replacing this link once they do. This listener channel is currently the most popular hit on search engines, so we’ll use it for now.

Lyrics (via KLove)

What if you could go back and relive one day of your life all over again
And unmake the mistake that left you a million miles away
From the you, you once knew
Now yesterday’s shame keeps saying that you’ll never get back on track
But what if I told you…

You’re one step away from surrender
One step away from coming home, coming home
One step from arms wide open
His love has never let you go
You’re not alone
You’re one step away

It doesn’t matter how far you’ve gone
Mercy says you don’t have to keep running down the road you’re on
Love’s never met a lost cause
Your shame, lay it down
Leave your ghosts in the past ‘cause you know that you can’t go back
But you can turn around
You’ve never been more than…

One step away from surrender
One step away from coming home, coming home
One step from arms wide open
His love has never let you go
You’re not alone (not alone)
You’re one step away

Lay down, lay down your old chains
Come now and take up your new name
Your best life up ahead now
You’re one step away

So come on home, come on home
One step from arms wide open
His love has never let you go
You’re not alone (you’re not alone)
You’re one step away

Lay down, lay down your old chains
Come now, take up your new name
Your best life up ahead now
You’re just one step away

Writer(s): Mark Hall, Bernie Herms, Matthew West


Okay, so right away I can see that we are dealing with some synergism which may or may not be helpful in this song. My Lutheran readers might recognize a confusion of Law and Gospel, while my Reformed readers might be more concerned with whether the song is pointing to sanctification or salvation. Let’s work through the lyrics and I’ll try to comment on my concerns in the messaging.

Our first order of business is to try to figure out the dilemma or problem the song is attempting to address. The first verse is rather vague on this point, and I think that is by design. Are we talking to a Christian who is struggling with a heavy burden of shame/guilt over a sin of the past, or are we talking about someone who has fallen out of the church, or are we talking about someone who is an unbeliever having to come to grips with the realization that he isn’t a “good person”? Not sure by the “what if” thought exercise in the first verse. Sadly, as we scan throughout the song, the intended target audience isn’t all that clear. The root of every problem in our life is sin, and we rely on the Holy Spirit to diagnose our sin via God’s Law. The remedy for sin is always the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Whenever a song starts with a problem, I’m expecting a solution at the close, especially from a “Christian” song. Wallowing in uncertainty is something I expect from pagan artists.

Verse 1. I’m not a fan of “what if”, though it can sometimes be a helpful rhetorical device. The singer is asking the listener to consider going back in time to unmake a single mistake. Is there anything significant to be gained by such a mental exercise? Are we talking about a mistake or sin? While the two concepts have overlapping meaning (think of a ven diagram), there is a bad habit in evangelicalism to avoid discussing sin by only speaking of “mistakes” we’ve made rather than “sins” we’ve committed. Whatever it is we’re supposed to be what-if-ing, it’s something we feel has completely separated us from God? From the Church? No, from the “me” I once knew. Well, that’s not helpful. Is this intended to be a catch-all for what is sometimes referred to as a “back-slidden” Christian?

A Christian who has fallen away from the Church might sometimes be labeled a “backslider”. I don’t want to get too bogged down in this terminology, but suffice it to say that its use betrays a sloppy soteriology (theology of salvation). If Salvation is by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone (it is), what exactly is going on in the life of a believer that constitutes a “backslide”? This question has several errors, but I think chief among them is a failure to understand sin, the Fall of Adam, and original sin. If you don’t understand sin, you buy into the idea that your will had something to do in your “becoming saved”, and then that leaves room for a bad choice to somehow undo your good choice of becoming saved. Since the song lyric doesn’t ever give clear guidance to the contrary, let’s spend some time in God’s Word now.

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.

The Apostle Paul leaves little room for our works or our decisions to play an active role in our salvation. If ti were a result of works, we’d have room to boast. We don’t have any room to boast. Salvation is God’s work for us. But we still have sin to contend with as long as we live in these fleshly bodies in this temporal life.

Romans 7:15-25 (ESV)

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 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. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 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.Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

We should take comfort that the Apostle Paul struggled with the sin of the flesh, and we should look to the very same Gospel that he preached for the forgiveness of our sins. Daily. We Christians need to be reminded of the Promise of the Gospel daily, for we sin daily. We fall short. Our flesh is corrupt and wages war against the Spirit of God within us. Notice how Paul draws upon the Promise of forgiveness of sins and of Salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. The very next chapter flows from that promise.

Romans 8:1-4 (ESV) | Life in the Spirit

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 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, 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.

Now, as a Lutheran, I feel it necessary to address the problem of apostasy, for it is a very real danger, though not something someone can accidentally oopsie into. The author of Hebrews paints a very clear picture of apostasy in chapter 6.

Hebrews 6:4-8 (ESV) For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

There is a point of no return, and that point isn’t a limitation on God’s ability to forgive; rather, it is a point where the man refuses to repent. Once a believer turns his back on the need to repent, there is nothing left to do, for Christ will not be re-crucified. This is what Christ talked about when He referenced Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, for His primary work is to convict the world of sin and point them to Christ. To ignore this conviction of the Holy Spirit unto repentance, is to retain the condemnation of sin.

So then, where we Lutherans and the Reformed agree is in the monergism of Salvation. Where we disagree is in what constitutes Apostasy. We maintain that false doctrine runs the very real danger of shipwrecking faith to the point of damnation, while the Reformed rely on supralapsarianism and the category of “false converts” to explain apostasy. Either way, neither should be comfortable with what we see going on in the dilemma of this song as it’s being constructed in the first verse. A Christian who is heavily burdened by guilt and shame of a past sin needs comfort that only the Gospel can provide. He needs to be forgiven, and to hear he is forgiven according to Scriptures. He needs absolution.

Verse 2. So when we return from the chorus into our next verse, there’s a clash of metaphors. To some extent it is intentional in the “you’re not as far away as you think you are” but I don’t think really works all that well, and it only muddies up what really should be made clear here. This person needs forgiveness and absolution, not some vague “though you’ve traveled miles down into a dark valley you’re only a step away from the light” kind of hokum. I confess I’m getting a bit emotionally invested here, but I struggle to deal with this scenario in the abstract, the visible church is full of believers trapped in this sort of despair who need the clear assurance of the Gospel, not artistically vague inferences to it.

Chorus. Now, the chorus seems to be pulling less on the thread of salvation, sin, and absolution and more of a runaway theme. It seems to be borrowing from the parable of the prodigal son, but with an emphasis on the son and his need to return home rather than on the Father (the Father is the real emphasis of that parable). But what is the solution being offered by the song to the dilemma(s) being introduced? Surrender, lay down your old chains, pick up your new name. So even the solution is coded. That’s frustrating. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Gospel is clear, please stop muddying it up in the name of artistry. The sinful flesh of the listener does that enough on its own without being aided by the artist. Remember your baptism, repent and be forgiven in Jesus’ name. Will there be earthly consequences? Yes, but our Hope is stored up for us in Heaven where neither thief nor moth can destroy it.

Bridge. I wanted to avoid it, but frankly, I can’t. Any reference to “your best life” smacks of Joel Osteen’s prosperity false-gospel. The Promise of Life is an eternal promise, not a temporal one. The Apostles lived hard lives of persecution and martyrdom, and they endured it by faith in the Life to come, not this temporal one. The hard truth is that the life of a Christian is a life of suffering for His Name sake.

James 1:2-4 (ESV) | Testing of Your Faith

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Romans 5:1-6 (ESV)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

If we can trust that the listener rightly understands what it means to “lay down your chains” and “take up your new name”, I suppose this serves as an answer to the problem. As a Lutheran, I know to interpret this through the phrase, “remember your baptism”. that is the moment where we were joined with Christ in His death and resurrection, where our sins died as we went under the water, and we rose up from the waters alive with Christ, with our new name. Notice, I have to bring that meaning into the lyric of the song. It’s not there on its own.


Looking back over the song and my frustration with these lyrics, it seems clear to me that this whole thing is a vague retelling of the parable of the prodigal son, but the emphasis is in the wrong place. Pointing the prodigal to something (vaguely) he needs to do, no matter how simple you make it out to be, isn’t going to produce the change you’re aiming for. It’s not even what turns the prodigal around in the parable. Remembering the goodness and provision of his Father for even the slaves is what turned him around. And still the prodigal intended to negotiate his way back into his Father’s house, not as a son, but as a slave. And the truly beautiful part of this parable, is that the Father would have none of that, no negotiation for slavery, just forgiveness and treatment as a son who has come back from the dead. Which brings me back to what I think should have been the focus of this song, forgiveness and absolution. Whether the intended listener was an unbeliever realizing the depth of his sin for the first time, or a believer who is suffocating under the crushing weight of condemnation and shame for sins of his past, or even a current, besetting addiction to a particular sin… the answer for this despair is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the promise of forgiveness in Jesus’ Name. Dear Christian, if you find yourself in the throws of despair, know that Christ died for your sins… all of them… and He is faithful and Just to forgive you of all sin. Repent, and be forgiven. It’s not a matter of feeling forgiven, it’s a matter of knowing you are forgiven regardless of how you feel. Christ died for that sin, He paid it all, and He declared on that cross It is Finished. Trust in His Word. If you’re still struggling with the condemnation, go to your Pastor and confess your sin, and listen to the absolution.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) 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, 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.

In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “Broken Together” by Casting Crowns

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

April 7, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Broken Together” by Casting Crowns 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.

Today’s song is not a song of worship; rather, it is a plea for forgiveness sung from a husband to his wife. It doesn’t come to a resolution, and it isn’t a specific “please forgive me”; rather, it’s more of a “can we both just accept that we are broken and in need of forgiveness?” I think this is a good song to include on the Album, just not sure it is complete enough to get significant airplay. Today’s post will be less focused on this song, and more focused on the Marriage Relationship as described in God’s Word.

VEVO Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLOVE)

Broken Together by Casting Crowns

What do you think about when you look at me
I know we’re not the fairytale you dreamed we’d be
You wore the veil, you walked the aisle, you took my hand
And we dove into a mystery

How I wish we could go back to simpler times
Before all our scars and all our secrets were in the light
Now on this hallowed ground, we’ve drawn the battle lines
Will we make it through the night

It’s going to take much more than promises this time
Only God can change our minds

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I’ll bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us
The only way we’ll last forever is broken together

How it must have been so lonely by my side
We were building kingdoms and chasing dreams and left love behind
I’m praying God will help our broken hearts align
And we won’t give up the fight

Publishing: © 2013 Sony/ATV Tree Publishing (BMI) All rights on behalf of Sony/ATV Tree Publishing administered by Sony/ATV. / My Refuge Music (BMI) (adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / Songs of Universal, Inc. (BMI) / G650 Music (BMI). All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Writer(s): Mark Hall, Bernie Herms


The first verse seems to be an apology for not living up to a hyper-romanticized view of what a marriage is “supposed to be”. Our culture suffers greatly from this problem of hyper-romantic view of intimate relationships, though it has largely abandoned all standards for sex and marriage. While the Church at large predominantly holds onto Biblical Marriage (many are slipping), many within the church maintain a hyper-spiritualized, hyper-romanticized notion of marriage that simply isn’t Biblical. We’ve taken the worldly notions of “soul mates” and “destiny” and “prince charming” and baptized them in churchisms. Rather than keeping the covenant of Marriage as a foreshadow of Christ’s relationship with the Church, we’ve created “sanctified fantasies” of marriage being God’s perfect gift created for our personal fulfillment and contentment.

The song has a misstatement that I’d like to address first to get it out of the way. Marriage isn’t eternal, or “forever” in the Western sense. Sure, the Hebraic understanding of time allows for “everlasting” to be limited by covenant or “an age” or truly ‘eternal’, but in our cultural context when we hear “forever” we are thinking of “infinity”. Jesus clearly taught that in the resurrection there will be no marriage or being given in marriage (Matthew 22:29-31 ESV). Marriage in this life is a foreshadowing of the eternal relationship between Christ and His Church in the Resurrection. With that established, let us focus in on the 2 references to God in this song between a husband and a wife.

Only God Can Change Our Minds

Before we jump into scripture, I’d like to make one thing clear: a good marriage isn’t a thing that God hands you as an answer to your prayers. Marriage is a covenant relationship between 2 sinners before God. Nowhere has God promised to change your spouse so that your marriage will be better for you. Both the Husband and the Wife need to be submitted to God by Grace through Faith for His Glory and Honor. When the Apostle Paul teaches on marriage and households there are always instructions for both and they are both to be submitted to God. I think the best example can be found in his letters to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 5:22-33 (ESV) | Wives and Husbands

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Egalitarians miss the point of this passage entirely. Now then, let us look at how to best approach the line “Only God can change our minds”. This isn’t something that we can find in any of the marriage texts, so we need to approach this concept within the context of being part of the Body of Christ. I think the best place to look is Romans 12, but let us begin in Romans 11:25.

Romans 11:25-36 (ESV)

25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
    he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
27 “and this will be my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.”

28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience,31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
    that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Romans 12  (ESV)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Such a wonderful passage. Now, the context here isn’t specific to marriage. In fact, it’s far more hostile an environment. Paul is addressing Christians who are maligned and persecuted by the Jews. But these principles apply directly to Christians dealing with spouses, even in contentious or broken marriages. In many ways marriage is the proving grounds for understanding life in the Church. There is a reason and a purpose for Paul’s inclusion of a man’s marriage and conduct in his family life in the list of qualities of an Elder or Deacon in the Church. You cannot faithfully pastor a congregation if you’ve neglected your spouse or your family. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. For those of you in that covenant relationship, that is your first ministry in Christ. Please note that I’m not saying you have to be a perfect husband before you can be a leader in the Church. In all things bear the fruit of repentance, for we are all sinners. But failure to lead, pastor, shepherd your family is a disqualifies you for Church leadership… step down, focus on your family, and allow God to restore your marriage, your family, and then your position within His church for His Glory.

I’m praying God will help our broken hearts align

This is such an important prayer for married couples. The two shall become one flesh. This is where God designed sex to unify a man and a woman. Within a marriage where each spouse seeks to outdo each other in showing honor, the complementary design of man and woman are such that they compel each other to become one, to align. Sin in our hearts and flesh lead to death of our mortal bodies as well as our relationships. As sinners, we are to continually die to ourselves and present ourselves to God as living sacrifices. We are also defer to our spouses and resist the temptation to seek our own passions and desires directly. It’s the opposite of quid-pro-quo, we don’t demand service on credit; rather, we seek to meet the needs of our spouse before our own, knowing that in so doing we will be made whole and one flesh.  The Apostle Peter also had some encouragement in these matters.

1 Peter 3:1-9 (ESV) | Wives and Husbands

1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 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. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

Verses 8 and 9 are a return to the body of Christ as a whole, but are worth including here as they still apply to husbands and wives. The whole of the New Testament is focused on the redeemed growing in the knowledge and fullness of Christ. Therefore, the only way that we can ask God to align us with our spouses is by submitting to Him and allowing the Spirit of God to keep us and grow us in Christ Jesus.


The problem with the song is that it remains sort of stuck in the Law. The singer is caught up in the “we’ve done it wrong” moment. We’ve looked at a lot of what the Scripture has to say regarding the covenant of Marriage, and that covenant is indeed Law. But do not walk away from this topic thinking that observance of the Law (even of marriage) will grant you the Love and restoration in your marriage you so desire. Love and restoration flow from Christ Jesus and can then be expressed outwardly in love.

1 John 4:7-19 (ESV) | God Is Love

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “Thrive” by Casting Crowns

Presentation1Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

I’ve decided not to use the Billboard chart anymore. Today, we are looking at the top Christian songs according to K-LOVE Radio. On that chart, “Greater” by MercyMe is in the top spot while Hillsong’s “Oceans” isn’t even on the chart, and that makes me happy. It is one of the better songs we have reviewed here. Sadly, “We Believe” by Newsboys is not on this chart either, so this chart reflects a certain geographical demographic (dictated by where KLOVE is broadcast) so I may just have to bounce around radio charts to focus on the top 5 across the nation. Again, I’m open for suggestions / requests as well.

Today we are looking at the #2 Song on the KLOVE chart, “Thrive” by Casting Crowns. Today’s review will be a little different because Casting Crowns is a different sort of band. The lead singer is a youth pastor whose heart is really for training young adults in the Christian walk. As such, when they release an album, it isn’t just a means to drum up ticket sales or whip a crowd into a frenzy (ala Hillsong or Passion); rather, they seek to teach and challenge youth by their music and by their bible study material to grow in Christ. I truly believe their heart is in the right place, though I do have some concerns regarding this “Thrive” study/song. We’ll look at both the song lyrics and the associated study material and I will share some of my concerns later. For now, please understand that I am impressed by their commitment to teach and not to merely entertain the youth.

Casting Crowns | “Thrive” Ministry Website


Here in this worn and weary land
Where many a dream has died
Like a tree planted by the water
We never will run dry

So living water flowing through
God, we thirst for more of You
Fill our hearts and flood our souls with one desire

Just to know You and to make You known
We lift Your name on high
Shine like the sun, make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
Its time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

Into Your word, were digging deep
To know our Fathers heart
Into the world, were reaching out
To show them who You are

Joy unspeakable, faith unsinkable
Love unstoppable, anything is possible

Positive Elements

Speaking of just the merits of this song on its own, I love the focus on digging deeply into the Word of God, drinking of the Living Water that flows from Jesus Christ, and the imagery of being a tree planted by that water. The audience for this song is clearly for the Christian listener. This song is not so much a Praise and Worship song as it is an anthem setting up the rest of the album (also called “Thrive”), and a look at the album art demonstrates that the imagery of being a tree planted by the water is central to the album. Let’s jump into some scripture, beginning with the Lord’s answer to Jeremiah in chapter 17 beginning in verse 5.

Jeremiah 17:5-13 (ESV)
5 Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. 8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” 

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 10 “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

11 Like the partridge that gathers a brood that she did not hatch, so is he who gets riches but not by justice; in the midst of his days they will leave him, and at his end he will be a fool.

12 A glorious throne set on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. 13 O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water.

The context here is not limited to any covenant or time period, because here the Lord God is declaring Truth about mankind and about Himself. He is setting forth Law that identifies a cursed individual and a blessed individual. He is pointing to salvation, and we know that we can only find it in Him, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. And blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and in His Son, from whom flow streams of Living Water.

While I do wish this were somehow better conveyed in the song, at least we have the Scriptural imagery upon which to draw and research and be edified. In the various introduction videos and lesson videos, the theme of growing deep roots and stretching out long branches does play out, it doesn’t really get fleshed out from scripture; rather, it is presented in anecdotal form, which brings us to our concerns regarding the song and the teaching presented with it.

Concerns | False Dichotomy

Mark Hall (the lead singer and youth pastor) sets up a false dichotomy between “being so deeply rooted that you produce no branches or fruit” and “being all branches and no root”. I believe it is an honest mistake (not done with malice) but it remains a problem. The analogy of the Tree being planted by the water doesn’t really leave room for this dichotomy. Either the tree is planted by the water or it isn’t. A tree with deep roots that has not forsaken the fountain of living water cannot possibly be a tree with no branches or fruit. It simply doesn’t fit what Scripture describes. This dichotomy doesn’t find its place in Scripture, rather, it finds it’s origins in our post-modern progressive culture.

There is a post-modern progressive seeker-driven ideology that often erects a straw-man of the Christian who takes everything to Scripture and insists on Sola Scriptura as being an unloving, self-serving, legalistic, heartless, and fruitless Christian. The seeker-driven community is quick to label a Pharisee anyone who would dare to point out doctrinal errors, or rebuke even outright false-doctrine. That’s the progressive extreme, and I don’t think Mark is in that camp, but he invoking their straw-man. So, what Mark seems to be trying to do with this dichotomy is to find a neutral ground where Christians “keep a healthy balance” between Law and Gospel. But is that really for us to balance? If our roots are tapped into the Living Water of Jesus Christ, we needn’t worry about the year of drought, for our leaves will remain green and we will continue to bear fruit. The false dichotomy has no real answer, so ultimately the solution to the problem Mark sets up gets a little muddled. The real dichotomy is a tree whose roots are not digging toward Christ; but towards something else. In one of the videos Mark describes the “all root” straw-man as someone who is learning the Greek and Hebrew (good things) and reading each new book (uh-oh) and rejecting one teacher because he doesn’t like how he explains something (mayday) as well as this other guy… well, now we’ve totally broken the Scriptural image of the blessed tree. Such a person isn’t digging deep roots toward Christ, or God’s Word, he is in-fact placing his trust in man. That’s not to say that we can’t learn something about God or His Word that has been written recently (otherwise, why am I sharing these blogs?) but if you are constantly chasing after the ‘new doctrine’ you will die of thirst. You will become the shrub in the desert rather than the Tree planted beside the Water.

If our trust is in the Lord, and we dig deeply into His Word and drink from the Living Water that flows from the Son of God as a promise of the Holy Spirit of God to all who believe, growing branches and bearing fruit isn’t a concern on our part. For it is the Holy Spirit that grows and matures and bears fruit. Our task, is to trust in the Lord. Everything flows from our trust in Him, just as the health of the tree depends on its roots and from where they draw their nourishment.

Concerns | Ordinary Life and Surviving

Another concern I have is with the implication that “an ordinary life” is somehow sinful, or that “surviving” is somehow failing. What is the definition of “thriving”? If the definition of thriving is tied to that of the tree, then we’ve already demonstrated that there is nothing for the tree to do besides be planted by the Living Water, which is to trust in the Lord. In one of his videos on the page, Mark even teaches that we can’t focus on “producing fruit” because it isn’t something that can “be done” it’s something that grows by the Holy Spirit. So he teaches it right, and he also does a great job of pointing to the heart of the Gospel (that Christ did the work, not us) in the Colossians video, but the song still has that dangling implication. Let’s look at some scripture.

1 Peter 2:9-19 (ESV) 9 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 mercy. 11 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. 13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.

Often times what happens in self-esteem sermons the preacher will use verse 9 as a springboard to prosperity and living the blessed life as royalty in this life. But does that fit the rest of what Peter is teaching? Does that even fit Peter’s life? No. Peter is now in Heaven, and enjoying the blessing of being a royal priesthood. While Peter was on this earth, he was a worker, a servant, a shepherd under the Shepherd. And so we must consider our days on earth. We are to be subject to every human institution, not for “our own good”; rather, Peter makes the appeal “for the Lord’s sake”. If we define “an ordinary life” as one that indulges in the passions of the flesh, then indeed it is a sin to live such a life. But if living an ordinary life includes living a life in submission to authority of the human institutions (the government, your boss at work, the tax collector, your creditors, etc.) then how can we rightly declare it to be somehow “less-than”? Less than what?

The bit about “just surviving” is also troublesome, but to a lessor degree. I think the song makes clear that they are talking about an attitude that betrays faith, an attitude of “I don’t know if I can make it”. The truth is you can’t. You were dead before the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and your flesh still tries to kill you (by its sinful passions). That is why we must not put our trust in man or in our flesh, otherwise we will be a shrub in the desert where we will wither up and die again. But there is an element of survival that is central to the charge Jesus gave us when He taught about the days ahead for His Church:

Matthew 10:21-23 (ESV) 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Matthew 24:9-14 (ESV) 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

If thriving is about temporal success and prosperity we are all doomed. However, if thriving is about enduring through the year of drought, bearing fruit and green leaves despite the lack of rain, then we have our commandment to place our trust in the Lord, Jesus Christ, the fountain of Living Waters. The truth is that regardless of how much hype and raw emotion or self-esteem you drum up, if you trust in your own actions, motivation, or effort you will not survive.

Concerns | From the Last Teaching Video

This final concern actually doesn’t come from the song “Thrive” at all. It popped in the final video and it is the false-idea that the means of sharing the Gospel is about sharing “my story”. No, it isn’t. He even makes the foolish statement, “people can argue with your verses, but they can’t argue with your story”. He makes the argument in hopes of removing the bad excuses people have for not sharing the Gospel themselves, but it remains a foolish statement nonetheless. He says that loving Jesus and loving on the world is how we share the Gospel. Uhm, no. How we share the Gospel is preaching the Word of God. When we preach ourselves, it had better be part of the Law in that apart from God we are all sinners and dead in our sins (which is kind of what he does right at the tail end, but it is subtle). The Gospel is not “our story” the Gospel is His (Jesus Christ’s) story. Mark’s heart is in the right place, his teaching is just a bit convoluted and appeals too much to anecdote and psychology of self-esteem. As he continues talking, truth comes out, but in small bits.


The song is not bad, but what really has captured my attention in this project is the work that Casting Crowns has put into the website and the album to remind Christians of the Gospel through their music. I wish more Christian artists took this approach to ministry. Sure, I have some concerns with some of the content, but that is bound to happen and as long as we contend with one another in love and in the Word of God then we build each other up in Christ. So this is one of those cases where the conclusion is in support of the band’s approach to ministry despite the shortcomings of this song. I didn’t research the rest of the 3 week YouTube studies through James and Colossians, so I can’t speak to the rest of those. Casting Crowns has truly set themselves apart from the other Christian Bands we’ve reviewed thus far. I look forward to reviewing more of their music.

In Christ,