DiM | “I Just Need U” by TobyMac

Presentation1CCM Radio Edition.

May 04, 2018. Today we’ll be taking a look at “I Just Need U” by TobyMac which currently sits at #1 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

This is probably one of the better TobyMac songs I’ve reviewed. I found the writing to be quite honest and well-intentioned. The Psalms he drew from weren’t being stretched out of context and the song doesn’t make false promises. This song finds itself on the positive side of the middle ground. It falls short of a full Approval because it lacked a clear Gospel, but at least it bore a confession of needing God. Let’s listen to the song and read the lyrics.


Lyrics (via K-Love)

I Just Need U
I just need U.

Last night put the heavy on me
Woke up, and I’m feeling lonely
This world gotta a way of showin’ me
Some days it’ll lift you up
Some days it’ll call your bluff
Man, most of my days I ain’t got enough

And all I know is You’re my only hope

When I’m up, when I’m down
When the wolves come around
When my feet hit the ground
I just need, I just need U
On my darkest days, when I’m losing faith
No, it ain’t gonna change
I just need, I just need U
Lord, I need U
Yeah, I just need U

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil for thou art with me
Thy rod and thy staff …
They comfort me when I’m beat down broken
Hold my heart when it’s split wide-open
Turn these eyes to my sole protector
And break the will of this born defector

When You pull me closer I come to life

Ain’t no way this thing gon’ change, it’s U
I need on my darkest days, when I’m losing faith
I need U every single day, every breath I take
I need U

Publising: Achtober Songs (BMI) (Admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / So Essential Tunes / RELWOF (SESAC) (Admin. at EssentialMusicPublishing.com) / Blake NeeSmith Publishing Designee (BMI)
Writer(s): Toby McKeehan, Bryan Fowler, and Blake NeeSmith


Overall, the song isn’t bad. The Premise of the song is a little bit wonky, as it seems to be a song about Toby dealing with popularity and the highs and lows of it all.

Verse 1. The first verse frames the discussion oddly.

Last night put the heavy on me
Woke up, and I’m feeling lonely
This world gotta a way of showin’ me
Some days it’ll lift you up
Some days it’ll call your bluff
Man, most of my days I ain’t got enough

The focus is on how he can’t live up to the world’s expectations but stops short of calling the world evil. We’re not seeing the problem of sin being set up here, just sort of a cry of not “being enough” or not “having enough”. The problem is in the underlying theology. This follows the notion that being a Christian means having access to power once we’ve reached the end of ourselves. We turn to God when we need a life raft as if we didn’t need Him long before we were aware of our need.

Chorus. Now, the chorus does include “when I’m up”, so one might argue that this clears the song of what I just pointed out as a problem. However, the emphasis on the first verse and the rest of the song is on being down.

When I’m up, when I’m down
When the wolves come around
When my feet hit the ground
I just need, I just need U
On my darkest days, when I’m losing faith
No, it ain’t gonna change
I just need, I just need U
Lord, I need U
Yeah, I just need U

For the most part, this is a good confession of an enduring need for God. Odd that it goes from the thought of “losing faith” to “it ain’t gonna change”… how is the artist attempting to resolve the thought of losing faith? I don’t think TobyMac knows quite what to do with that. I think that’s why TobyMac memes and most of his lyrics amount to “dedicate yourself harder”, “do more”, “love more”, “strive/endure/persevere”, etc.

Romans 10:11-17 (ESV) For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 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. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 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? 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!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Galatians 3:2-9 (ESV) Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

I bring these passage up because they are critical to understanding Law and Gospel properly distinguished. In each letter, Paul is teaching these Churches (predominantly Gentiles) the proper distinction between Law and Gospel. Faith is a Gift from God working through His Word. Both saving faith and growing in faith, which is why I brought in the passage in Galatians. Too many treat the gift of faith as something necessary to “get saved” but then rely on works to grow to maturity. Paul rebukes that thoroughly. So, my point in bringing this here is that I genuinely believe TobyMac is looking for an answer to building faith in spite of trouble, and he keeps looking to the Law. I’m not calling him unsaved when I say the problem is that TobyMac needs to hear the Gospel preached to him and for him, today and every day of this life until Christ returns.

Verse 2. Toby pulls lines from Psalm 23. It’s a wonderful Psalm.

Psalm 23 (ESV) | A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3     He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

The promise in Psalm 23 has an eternal focus. We are so tempted to invoke this Psalm for our temporal well being and comfort, but remember the Apostles and the 1st-century saints.

Bridge. It’s really just a mantra, nothing of substance.


This song is an honest appeal to faith during the struggle, a confession of our need for God. The closest we get to identifying which God is by quoting pieces of Psalm 23. I find it frustrating that Jesus has to be assumed in so-called “Christian” songs, though. I’ll not apologize for that frustration. The song does a good job of being honest about our internal struggle with doubt, I just wish it did a better job of resolving that doubt. I do believe that even here, we should see an acknowledgment that our primary issue is sin and the only resolution is Christ crucified for our sin.

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 | “Unfinished” by Mandisa

disapproveCCM Edition.

June 7, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Unfinished” by Mandisa which currently sits at #5 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

Today’s song by Mandisa continues in her line of motivational and inspirational anthems aimed at boosting the listener’s self esteem and offering what the world keeps calling “empowerment”. We’ll address the biblical concept the song is trying to convey, by way of a best possible construction, but on its own this song does not stand. Not only is the Gospel not in this one, the focus of the song is on the christian rather than the cross. Let’s check out the lyric video and then work through the lyric.

Official Lyric Video

Lyric (via KLove)

​Not scared to say it
I used to be the one
Preaching it to you
That you could overcome
I still believe it
But it ain’t easy

‘Cause that world I painted
Where things just all work out
It started changing
And I started having doubts
And it got me so down

But I picked myself back up
And I started telling me
No, my God’s not done
Making me a masterpiece
He’s still working on me

He started something good
And I’m gonna believe it
He started something good
And He’s gonna complete it
So I’ll celebrate the truth
His work in me ain’t through
I’m just unfinished

I know His history
And the kind of God He is
He might make it a mystery
But He’s proven I can trust in Him
And yeah, I believe it

Still working
Still, still working on me
He’s still working
Still, still working on me

Publishing: Ariose Music / 9t One Songs (Admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / Colby Wedgeworth Music / Fair Trade Publishing (ASCAP) (Admin. by Music Services)
Writer(s): Ben Glover and Colby Wedgeworth


We can assume the target audience is the singer’s fan base or listeners, ostensibly Christian. The opening lines of the song serve as a bit of a confession that the singer used to proclaim the “overcomer” message, but times got tough. She assures us that she still believes in the message she preached, but it’s tough. The picture of the world she had painted for her listeners started changing and it took her down. This is the setup of the song, that the artist has now experienced disappointment in life, but she’s not letting go of her message. I really wish the message was the Gospel of Grace and Forgiveness in Jesus’ Name, but this song is more a revivalist anthem. Theology of glory.

The turn in the narrative of this story happens in the first verse, though. We don’t have to wait for after the first chorus, the artist doesn’t want to dwell in defeat. This is an anthem, after all. It’s the turn that has me the most worried. But I picked myself back up
And I started telling me… who turned it around for her? She did. Who started talking to her? She did. On the surface level this falls into our pop-culture’s hyper-individualism, where I make the calls, I seek my own truth, I decide what’s real and what’s not… me. The visible church has absorbed much of this through the Revivalist movements of the early 1800s and 1900s by focusing on “a direct, personal relationship with God” as of higher importance and significance that orthodoxy. From here on out in the lyric there are many mentions of work God is doing, going to do, in the artist, but the credit for holding onto those promises is given to the artist in this turn. She picked herself up. She gave herself a pep talk. And now she’s motivating you.

Unfinished. There is a sense in which this theme of us being unfinished, or with God not being finished with us yet rings true, and that is in the context of the Last Day, passing from this temporal life into eternity. That is not the context of this song’s narrative, but I want to pause that for right now. Let’s look at the Apostle Paul’s opening in his letter to the church in Philipi.

Philippians 1:1-11 (ESV)

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

I’ve highlighted the verse that first comes to mind when the topic of “unfinished” popped up in the song, but notice how that verse ends. Where is the completion of this work? At the day of Jesus Christ. Paul’s focus is in eternity. Paul isn’t doing concert tours here… he’s in prison. As we continue in the letter:

Philippians 1:12-14 (ESV)

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Paul’s comfort is in the advancement of the Gospel. Paul’s imprisonment is for Christ, and the church has become more bold to speak the Word without fear. And to finish out the opening introduction of this letter, let’s move forward a bit:

Philippians 1:21-30 (ESV)

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Notice Paul is encouraging the church to stand as one body, united in the faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no room for hyper-individualism. The Body of Christ is made up of many members (Romans 12).

So, with respect to the idea of us being “unfinished”, or God not yet being finished with us, this is Biblically true in the eternal sense. We will not see completion in this life. In this life we still struggle with our own sinful flesh and the corruption to which all of creation is enslaved as a result of sin. So, if the artist is preaching a world “where things just all work out” in an eternal sense by the Grace of Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior, she does well. But this song seems focused on this temporal life and our earthly circumstances.

Regarding the Gospel, however, I take exception to the notion of God being “unfinished” with me. To my mind, this notion runs directly counter to the proclamation made by our LORD in His final breath on the cross, “Τετέλεσται“.

John 19:30 (ESV) When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.


While I appreciate the desire to motivate Christians to persevere in the faith and unity in the Gospel, this song follows the worldly model of encouragement and “empowerment” we see in songs like Katy Perry’s Roar, though at least Mandisa is appealing to God as a source rather than her own femininity. What is missing from the song is an eternal anchor and a clear appeal to the Truth of the Gospel, that in Christ we have forgiveness of sin and assurance of salvation. This focus on the temporal circumstances actually distracts from the eternal maters of far greater import than our fleeting vocational successes, trials, set-backs, and struggles. In this life we will face trials of many kinds… but our Hope is in the LORD, who declared “It is finished”. Those of us in the household of Faith are strangers in this life, hated by the world who first hated Christ. We are not promised success and victory in this temporary life.

“Self empowerment” and “self motivation” is empty and unstable. This is a major problem of revivalism… it looks to law-keeping as a source of hope and comfort. No matter how many times you re-commit yourself to believe more, stand more firmly, do more, sin less… you will fail and fall short. The truth is that by God’s Grace we don’t fully see and understand the depth of our depravity. As we grow in faith, the Holy Spirit reveals more and more of just how wretched our flesh is, and this He does to demonstrate more and more what Christ took upon Himself on that cross in our place, securing for us reconciliation with God in eternity.

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.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.


DiM | “Trust in Jesus” by Third Day

ApprovedCCM Edition.

March 13, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Trust in Jesus” by Third Day. This was requested by a reader via the Contact Us page a couple of weeks ago.

This song is one of the better songs that has been introduced in CCM. It proclaims the Name of Jesus. There is a little too much focus on “me” without clearly distinguishing Law and Gospel. As a result, both the problem of sin and the solution to that problem get mingled synergistically into both being something “I need to do”. The key to rescuing this song is to go back in to separate the doctrines of Law and Gospel so that we can clearly identify our wicked sinfulness deserving of death and Christ’s Grace and Mercy in rescuing us from our own sin by Grace Alone through Faith in Christ alone. The song seems to present a cliff’s notes version of Ray Comfort style of street evangelism that begins with, “If you were to die today and God asked you why you should get into Heaven, what will you say?” The song doesn’t actually bring us back from “in that day” to “today”. Still, I think the song merits an “Approved” rating, particularly for those with a right understanding of their sinfulness.


I prefer to use videos posted by the artist whenever possible. As this is a reader request, I’m posting a video from a third-party channel for the sake of hearing the lyric.

Lyric (via KLove)

One of these days we all will stand in judgment for
Every single word
That we have spoken
One of these days we all will stand before the Lord
Give a reason for
Everything we’ve done
And what I’ve done is

Trust in Jesus
My great Deliverer
My strong Defender
The Son of God
I trust in Jesus
Blessed Redeemer
My Lord forever
The Holy One, the Holy One

What are you gonna do when your time has come
And your life is done
And there’s nothing you can stand on
What will you have to say at the judgment throne
Well, I already know
The only thing that I can say I


There’s nothing I can do on my own to find forgiveness
It’s by His grace alone
I trust in Jesus, trust in Jesus

Chorus X2


The reader who reader who requested this review received the following email:

The song is better than most in CCM. I do think there is a little bit of confusion in the depiction of the Judgement hinging on “what we will do or say in that last Day”. I understand he’s going for artistic appeal in this song, but there is Matthew 7:21-23 to consider here. Our place in eternity is sealed up in Christ, those who are of the household of Faith will be granted eternal life in the Last Day. We will still be judged by our works and rewarded accordingly (1 Corinthians 3:10-15), but that is of the household of faith, not the dividing of the sheep and goats. There is an inherent syngergism at play in the song that I’m uncomfortable with. A suggestion that our works and our answers before the Judgement Seat are key to salvation. The bridge works to mitigate that, so as I said before, this song is better than most in CCM.

I’ll keep this song in the queue for whenever there isn’t a new song on the top 20 charts. Thank you for this submission.

Since I wasn’t writing a full DiM post, I went straight to the problem I saw in the lyric, the focus on “what we will do” on the last day. While there is a sense where we can speak of this moment accurately in a sermon or lecture, it has to be done with Law and Gospel kept distinct, without mixing/confusing the two. Let us first look to the passage in Matthew with context.

Matthew 7:12-29 (ESV)

The Golden Rule
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

A Tree and Its Fruit
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

I Never Knew You
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Build Your House on the Rock
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

The Authority of Jesus
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

I’ve underlined the verses I referenced in my email response. Our LORD, Jesus Christ, is preaching the Law here. Jesus taught with Authority, for He indeed is the Author, the Word made flesh. I bring up this passage to make one point abundantly clear: No matter what you’ve done, or claim to have done, when standing before the Throne of Judgement your arguments/accomplishments will not gain you entrance into the Kingdom of God. What does it mean to build your house on the rock as opposed to the sand? Notice in that picture Jesus isn’t pointing to the trappings of the house or its ornaments; for only if its foundation is firm will it stand.

Pointing to the listener for what he/she will say “in that day” is not entirely helpful without clearly distinguishing Law (that we are wicked sinners) and Gospel (Christ has atoned for the sin of mankind through His finished work on the cross). Now, there is a way that this approach might be helpful. Ray Comfort’s approach to street evangelism often begins with posing the question, “If you were to die today and God asked you why you should get into Heaven, what will you say?” in order to draw out the common fleshly belief that we are all basically good people. This is actually an introduction to the preaching of the Law (though Ray may not describe it as such). What follows is a run-down through the 10 commandments demonstrating that the hearer is in-fact a sinner in need of salvation. This song doesn’t run that part down, it assumes it, then jumps to presenting the Gospel. The song also doesn’t bring the hearer back from considering the Last Day of Judgment to “today” when we are presented with Law and Gospel. For we are only given “today” to repent and believe in the Son of God. I’d like to take a look at what the Apostle John recorded in chapter 6 after the feeding of the 5,000 and Christ walking on the water.

John 6:22-40 (ESV) | I Am the Bread of Life

On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

This is where we must rightly anchor the song’s refrain, “I trust in Jesus”. Having been made acutely aware of our wicked sinfulness, our complete inability to merit any favor before God, we rely fully on what Christ has done FOR US. Notice, Christ says here, “I will raise him up on the last day”. It is Christ who gives us life, for without Him we are dead already. When we consider what it means to trust in Jesus, those whose eyes have been opened by the Holy Spirit to the Truth of God’s Word, that we are indeed wretched sinners in need of salvation, and who by the same Holy Spirit have been granted saving faith to repent of sin and believe in the Son of God, for such a person to continue walking in faith is to continue walking in repentance trusting in Christ alone for forgiveness and eternal life. For our entry into the Kingdom of Heaven begins and ends in our being baptized into Christ, wrapped in the Righteousness of Christ that is bestowed upon us by Christ, who bore our sin and transgression on the cross.

The bridge of the song bears witness to this Truth, that we are wholly incapable of earning forgiveness of sin, that salvation is by grace alone, trusting in Christ alone. The chorus of the song lists many wonderful, Gospel Names for God.


With regards to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I think the song is quite good. The problem I have is with the mingling a bit of Law and Gospel, at the expense of the law, really. There’s no call to repentance, and the presentation of the Gospel as something that hinges on “what you say”, presents the problem of sin as simply not having the right words to say. The audience is assumed to have already rightly been made aware of their sin and are terrified by the Law of God unto repentance. But for the listener who hasn’t already been made aware of his sin—even the professing believer who has lost sight of his sin—the song offers no correction, no call to repentance, and the sweetness of the Gospel is emptied for such a one who has no concept of his own sin.

As far as CCM is concerned, it belongs in the category of the “Approved” CCM songs. It is one of the better CCM for it does clearly proclaim the Good News of Salvation in Jesus’ Name.

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 | “Fearless” by Jasmine Murray

disapproveCCM Edition.

March 01, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Fearless” by Jasmine Murray which currently sits at #17 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

Great, another anthemic narcissistic pep-talk set to a catchy beat. But through the partial statements and sentence fragments, is there a message of Law and Gospel in there anywhere? Well, let’s give it a listen and then work through the lyric. In closing, we’ll look at how to properly understand what it means to be overcomers in the Name of Jesus.

Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via K-Love)

I wake up
I feel it
Those fears are back again
Can’t shake them
Can’t make them
Ever fade
Ever end
Am I good enough
Do I measure up
Feels like a war I can’t win

But I wasn’t given the spirit of fear
I was given the power of love
Everything I’ve been fighting against
I’m gonna lift it up

I wanna be fearless
No holding back
No backing down
Because I believe You’re with me now
Bring on the unknown
Lead me and I’ll go
Come set me free
God, I want to be
Fearless (I want to be)
Fearless (I want to be)

These mountains
These giants
Will fall at a single word
In Your name
In Your strength
I’m more than a conqueror

I won’t be afraid
I won’t be afraid
I’ll call on Your name
I’ll walk out in faith

Publishing: Fair Trade Global Songs/Jasmine Murray Publishing/Be Inspiring (BMI) (admin. by Music Services, Inc.); Meaux Jeaux Music/Da Bears Da Bears Da Bears Music (SESAC) (admin. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com); Wordspring Music/Tony Wood Songs (SESAC) (admin. by Warner Chappell)
Writers: Jasmine Murray; Jeff Pardo; Tony Wood


Okay, so what is the stated problem in the lyric of this song? What is the enemy here? The feeling of fear of not measuring up, of not being good enough. This notion will undoubtedly resonate with a lot of folks at an emotional level, but is this biblically sound? Since the pre-chorus jumps straight to a paraphrase of a verse found in Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Let’s look at the section in its immediate context and I’ll highlight the portion being paraphrased in this song.

2 Timothy 1:3-14 (ESV) | Guard the Deposit Entrusted to You

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

The Apostle Paul isn’t merely talking about self-doubt here. He’s talking about real suffering for the Gospel, true imprisonment and persecution for the sake of the Gospel. The primary problem with these sugar-pop anthems comes in their attempt to bolster “self-esteem” by inflating our accomplishments over the mundane. To push a theology of glory, we have to be told we are champions by simply existing, which necessitates a diminishing of struggle, persecution, and suffering to merely negative self-talk. A major part of all of this is ignoring the real and present problem of our sin. Before we move on, I think it’s also important to acknowledge that “fear” isn’t a universal evil per se; rather, Scripture gives clear instruction regarding fear.

Matthew 10:24-33 (ESV) | Have No Fear

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

We can also look to Proverbs 1 for a positive role of “fear”

Proverbs 1:1-7 (ESV) | The Beginning of Knowledge

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

This song is all pep-talk, no instruction or even coaching. It’s the theological equivalent of having the cheer-leading squad do cheers during half-time to build the player’s self-esteem without ever addressing how they are actually playing the game. It’s empty talk of “be aggressive”, “D-fence”, and other general themes, but it doesn’t provide any real instruction nor correction.

This very narrow view of the emotion of fear as an enemy leads us into the chorus where the singer is proclaiming she wants to be free of fear. She wants to be fearless. It’s the negative emotion she wants to be rid of. I get that. We can all resonate with that at some level. That’s why the song is on the top 20 chart. But the song is seeking an internal change of emotion without pointing to the clear, external Word of God. The closest we get to a confession of faith leans a bit in the direction of fedaism (faith in the strength of one’s faith) and the ability of the believer to walk out her own declaration of fearlessness.

The second verse engages in narcigesis that is typical in evangelical circles. Negative self-talk and self-doubt suddenly becomes a Mountain that needs to be moved, or Goliath that needs to be killed *sigh*. So they’re going to fall at a single word? Which word is that? There is room to assume that Word is “Jesus”, but we only get in Your Name in the lyric. It’s tough to find clarity here when the song title and the hook of the song is just one word… “fearless” and it’s being applied to us throughout the song. Christians are baptized into the Name of the Father, and of the Son (Jesus), and of the Holy Spirit. For all we know the line about “a single word” might not even be about the Name of Jesus. I could just be a reflection of Word of Faith (WoF) false teaching that our words carry divine power and that all we have to do to over come the obstacles in our path is declare a Word of the Lord ala Kenneth Copeland or Chuck Pierce or some other WoF heretic. I’m not accusing this singer of being a heretic, I’m saying the lack of clarity in the lyric leaves too much room for confusion and false teaching.

The bridge of the song is completely turned inwardly, looking at what “I” will feel, declare, and do. This could just as easily come from a Tony Robbins seminar or some other life coach celebrity making a sales pitch to an evangelical audience. There’s no meat in this lyric. It’s all sugar.

Notice how sin, death, and the devil aren’t mentioned in this song? That’s because those real enemies don’t fit into a theology of glory, for they were defeated by Jesus on the Cross, not our positive self-talk. Christ is the One who is victorious over sin, death, and the devil, and it is Christ who reigns Supreme over all Creation, and only in Christ are do we have Salvation and eternal life. By Faith, the Righteousness of Christ is credited to us and we are reconciled to God, but that’s not to say that we are now going to conquer everything we set our minds to doing while in the flesh in this life.

In closing, I’d like to examine what how Christ defined Himself as the Overcomer of the World. Also, I want to read through His prayer for His Church, including us, who would live on in the world, though not being of the world.

John 16:25-17:26 (ESV) | I Have Overcome the World

“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

The High Priestly Prayer

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”


Jesus Christ has over come sin, death, and the devil in our place, by His Grace, Love, and Mercy on us. He paid the price on our behalf and has atoned for our sin. We are baptized into His death and resurrection to eternal life by Grace through Faith in Christ Jesus. Jesus is on His throne, interceding for us, and He will return once more in Glory to judge both the living and the dead. Amen. Come, LORD Jesus.

In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “King of My Heart” by Kutless

disapproveCCM / COWO Edition.

February 23, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “King of My Heart” by Kutless which currently sits at #20 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

This week’s song seems to be an attempt at an evangelical “worship” song. It’s a love song of sorts aimed at wooing ourselves toward God in some respects and affirming the goodness of God. Well, we have to assume it’s aimed at God. Let’s listen to the song and then read through the lyric.


Lyric (via KSBJ)

Let the King of my heart
Be the mountain where I run
The fountain I drink from
Oh He is my Song

Let the King of my heart
Be the shadow where I hide
The ransom for my life
Oh He is my Song

You are good, good, oh

Let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh He is my Song

Let the King of my heart
The fire inside my veins
The echo of my days
Oh He is my Song

You are good, good, oh

You’re never gonna let me down
When the night is holding on to me
You are holding on


Okay, so let’s begin with the title phrase of this song, “King of my heart”. If you’ve been reading these DiM for a while, you’ll likely anticipate that I have a couple of concerns with this phrase. Firstly, are we aiming at perfection here or are we confessing what is? If we are confessing the condition of our hearts, then we must confess that our hearts are sinful, and that Christ isn’t the King of our hearts at all times. This is part of the paradox of the Christian life, where by faith we are saints yet by the flesh we are sinners. In our flesh we break the greatest commandment daily.

Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV) “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

The verses of this song begin with the word “let”, so I’m thinking the writer’s intent is to sing this as an encouragement of the Law without asserting that our hearts no longer break the Greatest commandment. That would be a foolish assertion. Our hearts are wicked. The best way to consider the line in a Biblical light would be to consider the closing verse in Psalm 19, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Ps19:14 ESV)” This one verse speaks with far more clarity than what we’ll see in today’s song, but in the interest of giving the song its best construction, I think this is the form the writers where shooting for in the verses of the song.

The referent of the song has to be assumed by the listener. The “King of my heart” has to be assumed to be God, though He isn’t really described as such in Scripture. Christ is not clearly proclaimed in this song. This depiction of God as the “King of my heart” I think comes more from Finneyism than Scripture, the idea that “if we ask Jesus into our hearts and place Him on the Throne of our hearts” then we’ll be saved. I think I remember this illustrated by Bill Bright’s “4 spiritual Laws” pamphlets that get passed around in CRU (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ) in the picture of the “Christ-directed life” (ref). The confusion of Law and Gospel comes to the foreground when we talk about “making Christ the King on the throne of our hearts”. The Law of God says that this is Holy and Righteous, that Christ is our LORD and Savior. Christ is LORD regardless of how we feel about it, and even despite our wicked hearts. So, when the proclamation of “Christ as King of our Hearts” is presented as Gospel, we run into cognitive dissonance… we know that Scripture commands us to Love the LORD our God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds, yet that Law convicts us of our sin, the fact that we do not Love the LORD as we ought. When this Law is presented as a Gospel charge (do this and you’ll be saved) what Gospel can we turn to in order to save us from falling short of the Gospel that is being presented? That’s the problem with works-based righteousness… even when the works being cited are indeed biblical good works. The Gospel isn’t “make Jesus King of your heart”, nor is it “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind”… the Gospel is:

Romans 5:6-11 (ESV) For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

I do believe the writer(s) of this song are aiming at modeling Psalm 19:14, an encouragement to good works through faith in Christ Jesus; however, the lack of clarity in the message and some infusion of extra-biblical phrasing leaves the song too open for interpretation for my taste. It falls to the hearer to keep the overall meaning of this song Biblically sound. We see this a lot in CCM. I pray the industry gets back to clarity in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s work through the stanzas of the song briefly.

Verse 1. Getting beyond the “King of my heart” phrase, we still have a problem of looking inwardly for God. It’s a problem of mysticism. If we are trying to make this a call to the Law of God (encouraging our hearts to Love God) then this verse presents unclear advise. What if I acknowledge that my heart is sinning and seeking its own pleasure/desire rather than the Law of God? This verse doesn’t have an answer for that. Where am I looking for shelter? The mountain. What mountain? Well, the King of my heart. How do I run there? Mystically or metaphorically. The right answer is to look for Christ where He has promised to be found, not in our own emotions but in the Written Word of God, the gathering of the Saints around the Preached Word of God. How do we drink from the fountain of the King of our Hearts? Mystically. Also remember that in the world of “contemporary worship (COWO)” the emotional high of singing these trance like songs repeatedly as the band swells and the lights pulse is connected to such mystical themes of “running to God” or “drinking from the fountain of God”. We see it in the closing line “He is my song”. Granted, if you work hard enough with word-searches in various English translations/paraphrases one can draw connections to proof texts for each independent phrase of the song. That’s not how sound doctrine is to be conveyed, though. It’s not how we read emails or letters, either. This verse, and those that follow it, are aimed at conveying an emotional metaphor for drawing close to God, for loving Him.

Chorus. Well, there’s not really much of a chorus, is there? God is good. That is True. In fact, He is the Only One who is Good. The Goodness of God isn’t something we, sinners, understand intuitively. We need to be taught about His Goodness from Scriptures.

Verse 2. We see the same basic form from the first verse. Let Him be King of my heart, be my shelter, be my salvation, be my song. While these things are good things, the way they are being presented isn’t instructive in any way. This is purely emotive and subjective. Mysticism is dangerous.

Verse 3. I don’t like the line ‘wind inside my sails’. The image is wrong. God isn’t merely the wind pushing your boat, He IS the boat, He IS the ARK. If we’re going to wax eloquent with the imagery, think of Noah and his family inside the Ark during the global flood. There’s too much room for taking credit for things in your life, there’s a sense of synergism that so prevails in evangelicalism where God is presented as a divine being who wants to give us all sorts of great things IF we just align ourselves correctly with Him… like learning how to adjust the sails to the wind. See that mysticism? Yeah, that’s bad theology.

Verse 4. ‘Fire inside my veins’ is almost always a reference to Jeremiah 20. New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) types love this turn of phrase. Those who claim to prophesy or excuse their outbursts as moves of the spirit. In its best form, it can be an artistic reference to emotional zeal. The mystical form of this song, however, leads me to think this is a hat tip to Word of Faith (WoF) types or those in the NAR (whether they realize it or not) because that’s the stuff that makes the most money (Hillsong, Bethel, etc).

Bridge. While it is true that God will never fail us and His promises are True, I’m not comfortable with the phrase “God will never let me down”. The reason is because of how this brand of popular evangelicalism treats prayer, as though they can simply decree and declare whatever they want “in Jesus’ Name” and expect God to perform what they want. Doubly frustrating is that if the people who pushed that sort of nonsense were honest, they’d have to confess that their decree/declare prayers don’t get answered, and they aren’t prayers. God is not a genie who has to grant your wishes because you invoked the right promises like some sort of spell casting. There is also no call to repentance or acknowledgement of the LAW as law anywhere in this song. I mean, we aren’t even confessing that we fail Him. So this bridge bothers me a great deal.


I’m torn a bit on where to assign this song’s final disposition as either on the far end of “listen with discernment” or a soft “disapprove”. I think what is prevailing here is that this song is performed in such a way that it is intended to be used in COWO, and I find the mysticism particularly troubling. Therefore, this song will be filed under “disapprove”. I’m sure there will be several who disagree with that overall assessment, though that is not the point of these DiM posts. The point is to get into the practice of evaluating the lyrics of these songs we hear on the radio, to see if they square with Scripture. This song is borderline, which is unacceptable for corporate worship.

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,