DiM | “Alone (Feat. TRU)” by Hollyn

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

November 24, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Alone (Feat. TRU)” by Hollyn which currently sits at #7 on the Air1’s Top 10.

We’ve covered all of the songs on the Klove top 10 and 20theCountdownMagazine charts. Today we are looking to Air1’s Top 10 chart. What we have here is another “wooing your boyfriend song”, and the only one who mentions Jesus is the featured rapper, TRU. This song is a trainwreck. Let’s get this over with.

Hollyn Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via Air1)

Alone (Feat. TRU)

Fell for you first day that I met you
Never dreamed that I ever could forget you
But black and white make a mess
When it turn to grey

Sunlight came sweepin’ cross the window
Rewind to the time when we were so close
Got me longin’ for yesterday

But Lord You, know me, so well
I can be a little punk sometimes

But don’t leave me, leave me alone
Bust down the door to my heart like it’s Your home
Don’t need no keys
I’m on my knees
Begging You please
I’ve gotta settle this thing once and for all
You got my heart my soul You can have it all
I’m on my knees
Beggin’ You please
Beggin’ You please, Lord
Don’t leave me alone

Through the tears, through the pain comes a new day
Blown away still amazed You pursue me
Ain’t no limit to the way You love

Don’t stop
Lord I need You like a heartbeat
Concrete
Rock solid under my feet
And You’re callin’ me You’re callin’ me up

[Rap Lyric]
I said You had me in your arms but I fell through the grasp
But yep I had You in my heart but I guess I relapsed
Like I’m livin’ for the wrong reasons, through the seasons
Tryna fall for you but then they put me on blast
It’s like I try to speak my mind because I know that I’m His
And yep I try to speak my mind but it don’t fly with them kids
Man if I’m not talkin’ bout the newest Nikes or releases
They put the mute on me
I can’t speak about my Jesus?
Like I’m living for Him
I’m slippin to sin
I turn around and make the amends
I try to fit it
I mess it up and stumble again
I’m takin’ this pen
And writing everything so I remember just how sweet that it is
Yeah man I got issues I can’t even lie
My only saving grace is knowing I got You inside
I’m done with (saving face) I ain’t gotta thing to hide
So don’t leave me alone
Keep coming day and night

Don’t leave me leave me alone
Bust down the door to my heart
Lord it’s Your home

Written by Holly Miller, Toby McKeehan, Bryan Fowler, Truett McKeehan.

© 2015 Capitol CMG Paragon/Songs of Gotee (BMI), Capitol CMG Genesis/Christopher Stevens Designee (ASCAP), Achtober Songs (BMI), Offwite Creative (BMI) all administrated at CapitolCMGPublishing.com. Produced & Mixed by Bryan Fowler for fabmusic.

Discussion

First, let’s scan through the lyrics sung by Hollyn (skipping the rap portion for now) and everywhere you see “Lord” in bold, replace it with “baby” or “boy”. And just like that, you have a Pop40 love/makeup song. That’s a big problem, because the message of wooing your boyfriend/girlfriend does NOT mirror our relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So, epic fail on this point. Jesus is not your boyfriend or bearded girlfriend. 

The artist is describing a feeling we all know but using all of the wrong words to do it. Probably because her theology isn’t rooted and grounded in the Written Word of God. Confessing that “I can be a little punk sometimes” is a whitewash of the truth, that we are sinners deserving of destruction. That even when we’ve been regenerated by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ, our flesh is still corrupt and we still sin. Our flesh is week, but through faith in Christ Jesus we hold onto the Promise of the forgiveness of sin and being resurrected into eternal life as heirs and joint heirs with Christ by His Blood. This song doesn’t convey that truth of God’s Word. Instead, this song presents the notion that we need to woo God not to leave us, like the boy/girlfriend who has finally “had it” with us and is threatening to leave.

The closes this song gets to pointing to a remotely Christian message comes in the rap portion performed by TRU. Again we see a lack of understanding of our sinner/saint duality while we walk this earth in corrupted flesh. That leaves a very anemic understanding of sin and grace that will inevitably lead to a man-centric, works-based approach to repentance and the forgiveness of sin. As we see in the lines “I guessed I relapsed… tryna fall for you… I turn around and make the amends”. That’s not the Gospel of Grace, that is a recipe for penance and works-based religion. We aren’t tryna fall in love with God… either we’ve been saved by Grace, or we remain enemies of God.

I find the line “I can’t speak about my Jesus” particularly frustrating. Why? This is an entire song, produced and published by a promoter of “Christian Music”, that has made its way to the top 10 of a “positive hits station” and the only line about Jesus is the line talking about how the artist is supposedly not allowed to speak about Him. Seriously? This entire song is squandered specifically because you AREN’T speaking/singing about Jesus. As is typical of mainstream rap/hip-hop, the artist isn’t “being real”, he’s merely addressing a caricature of reality that fits beat and fills the out the stanza. Even in that pseudo-complaint about being muted… the focus is on him and his career as a performer, not on preaching the Gospel to the lost and the hurting.

When we lack the proper understanding of the war that wages within Christians between our fallen flesh and the Spirit, we are left completely vulnerable to a man-centric religion of works. The book of Galatians is addressed the Judaizing heresy which sought to enslave Christians of the New Covenant of faith by the Blood of Jesus back under the Mosaic Covenant. Is the Law evil? No, but its purpose isn’t to prove your righteousness; rather, it is to prove your unrighteousness and need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. The Promise of Salvation is a gift from God. He opens our eyes and ears to the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He grants us faith.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)

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.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

He seals us with His Holy Spirit, safeguarding us in Christ Jesus until the Day of Resurrection

Acts 2:37-39 (ESV)

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

We are not yet made perfect in body, for we still live in corrupted flesh and walk this corrupted earth. We still have to deal our sinful nature, not by works, but by faith.

1 John 1 (ESV) | The Word of Life

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

It is by faith alone, that we are made righteous before God. And that faith does produce good works, but the good works that flow from the Gospel of Jesus Christ are not to make amends to God, or to prove to God our love for Him, or to “give Him our hearts” as suggested in this song… our good works are to serve our neighbors.

Galatians 5:1-14 (ESV) | Christ Has Set Us Free

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Dear Christian, stop stabbing blindly in the dark at some form of penance, or good work that will finally grant you rest… rest can only be found by faith in Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Repent daily, forgive and love your neighbor, and trust God to carry you through the Resurrection by His power and might, not yours.

Conclusion

I’m very disappointed in this song and its position on Air1’s charts. I used to listen to Air1 all the time… but so little of what they play and promote is sound Christianity. Society has completely screwed up the concept of marriage and sexual fidelity. Society has a perverse view of dating and courtship. The last thing we should be doing is taking a carnal dating song and trying to make it fit the Gospel. Jesus is not your boo. He is the King of kings, and Lord of lords, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.

Revelation 22 (ESV)
The River of Life

22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Jesus Is Coming

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Noah, a Preacher of Righteousness

GWWe wrapped up our tour of the Gospel According to Matthew last week. With the Advent season coming up quickly, I’m reluctant to dive straight into the Gospel According to Mark just yet. So, for the next several weeks, we are going to be looking at the Gospel displayed throughout the Bible. I think a great place to start this week’s lesson is with Noah. We discussed the wickedness in the earth in the time of Noah in our CTT post this past Monday, so let’s do some review and round out some of the Gospel edges here today.

For starters, let us address the common error of treating the Old Testament as a history book and the New Testament as the Christian book. The Early Church was established on the Gospel of Jesus Christ but the text that was preached was the Old Testament. We see this in the Acts of the Apostles.

Acts 17:1-3 (ESV) | Paul and Silas in Thessalonica

17 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”

Therefore, we must rightly consider the whole of the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) the Christian Scriptures. The hermeneutic we employ, is to seek to identify Law (which identifies our sin) and Gospel (Jesus Christ)  in the Scriptures. As a layman, I rely heavily on my pastor’s teaching and on the New Testament’s revelation of what is found in the Old Testament. We are going to look into the Noah account, but first let us begin in the New Testament for some insight.

Noah, a herald of righteousness

We’ll begin our study in 2 Peter 2.

2 Peter 2:1-11 (ESV) | False Prophets and Teachers

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones,11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord.

Here, we begin with the Law. We see in this passage a strong rebuke against false prophets and teachers who blaspheme the Way of Truth. Their condemnation and destruction is imminent. The wages of sin is death. The follow up to declaring the judgement due the false teachers is pointing the readers to the fall of creation, first the angels, and then the rest of the earth, save Noah. Noah is highlighted here as a herald of righteousness. The Greek word being translated herald here is κῆρυξ (Strong’s Number G2783). This same word is also translated “preacher” in the following text:

2 Timothy 1:8-12 (ESV) 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, 10 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, 11 for which I was appointed a [κῆρυξpreacher and apostle and teacher, 12 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.

A preacher is a herald of Law and Gospel… if he’s doing his job. I love that the counter to false teachers/preachers is Noah, a preacher who by modern-day standards was ineffective since only his family “got saved”. A solid reason to reject our modern-day standards for “effective ministry”, don’t you think?

So, let us turn now to Genesis 6 for our main text.

Genesis 6 (ESV)

Genesis 6:1-8 (ESV) | Increasing Corruption on Earth

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

The language of verse 2 is very similar to that of Genesis 3:6, when Eve saw the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that it was good for food and a delight to her eye. The temptation was external, but the sin is internal… the desire for that which looks good but is indeed forbidden.

There are those who teach that the Nephilim were half-human and half-angel beings. There are some major problems with that understanding, first is that angels and humans are completely different kinds of created beings (thus they cannot produce offspring) and Jesus made it clear that angels are not married nor are they given in marriage (Matthew 22:29-31). Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God, and nowhere in the Bible do we see angels granted sonship. When we consider the Bible to be first and foremost a revelation of Jesus Christ, we can look for a better understanding of what is being explained in this passage regarding the Nephilim, the sons of God and the daughters of man. As Christians, we understand that by Faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, we are adopted as sons and daughters of the Most High God. As I pointed out earlier, too often we treat the Old Testament as mere history, almost as if what takes place before Christ was pre-faith. That’s an error. When God created man and placed him in the Garden, God also gave a command that required faith to obey:

Genesis 2:15-17 (ESV) The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Adam had no concept of evil or death; therefore, faith was required to obey this command. After being tempted, they doubted and lacked faith, and fell into sin, thus death entered creation through man’s sin. Now, as soon as man sinned God then pronounced His judgement against the serpent and mankind, He also included in that judgement a Promise of redemption by the seed of woman, that salvation would indeed come, the Messiah, the Christ, that is Jesus, the Only Begotten Son of God. They had no idea when, but those who were of faith in the Promise of God were credited with righteousness (Hebrews 11). When we see mankind bearing children, we first see Cain and Abel. Cain was older than Abel, but Abel had faith while Cain did not, and Cain killed Abel. Cain is exiled, a son of man, but not of God for he lacked faith. The descendants of Cain were the sons of men, for they lacked faith. God grants Adam and Eve another son, Seth, a son of the Promise. The descendants of Seth were of faith and thus were the sons of God by faith. This is what we see played out in the Genealogies found in Genesis 5, leading up to Noah, a son of God by faith, for we know that he was a preacher of righteousness.

However, at this time we see that many of the sons of God had taken as wives the daughters of men… Sethites were marrying unbelieving Cainites… and their children were described as Nephilim. The Hebrew word here is a plural word that is sometimes translated as “giants”. They could have been giants (these men had centuries-long lifespans), but that’s not the only possible understanding of the word. Another possibility is looking at the verb naphal used by God to describe Cain’s fallen countenance (Gen 4:6) upon seeing that Abel’s offering was accepted where his was not. Nephilim could also be “fallen ones”, a worthy description of the fruit of believers being unequally yoked with unbelievers. Still conjecture on my part, but I think it holds better to the picture of unbelief versus faith, sin versus grace, Law versus Gospel. Let us continue in our text.

Genesis 6:9-22 (ESV) | Noah and the Flood

These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 1But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

And so God destroyed the earth and all that was on it. God saved Noah and 7 with him, along with enough of the clean and unclean animals for repopulating what remained of the corrupted earth. Judgement came to the earth, but Grace prevailed for He had promised a Son. The ark points to our Savior, Jesus Christ, as we saw in 1 Peter 3.

1 Peter 3:18-22 (ESV) 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah,while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

The ark bore the brunt of the destructive waters, keeping and preserving those inside safely through to their Salvation. We who are in Christ Jesus by faith are also being kept and preserved through the waters of baptism, death to sin, and will be with Him in the Resurrection.

God made His covenant to Noah, whom He saved by His Grace. God Promised not to destroy the whole earth again by water, and placed His bow in the clouds as a reminder of His promise to us… the descendants of Noah. Noah is now the keeper of the Promise of the Messiah who was to come. In all of its awesomeness, this is but a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah, who came, lived, was crucified and died for our sins, and was Resurrected as the first fruits of the Kingdom, Creation that is to come. We still walk in the corrupted flesh of the cursed Earth… but by faith, we’ve been sealed with the Promise of Eternal Life in the Kingdom of Heaven, the New Heaven and the New Earth, in New Bodies borne of the Spirit by the Grace of God in Christ Jesus.

Next Week…

Next week is a very busy week for our household, so I may be sharing a F4F episode of Rosebrough’s Ramblings through Genesis rather than put together a full write-up of my own. We’ll see, but I think we will be skipping ahead for a look at the life of Joseph and how he points us ahead to Jesus Christ. Until then, be blessed and spend time in God’s Word with your family and friends.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-24 (ESV) | Final Instructions and Benediction

12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies,21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Glow in the Dark” by Jason Gray

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

November 17, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Glow in the Dark” by Jason Gray which currently sits at #15 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

I’m happy to be reviewing a song that doesn’t get an immediate disapproval. The overall message of this song is not bad, though its approach to the topic is a bit murky. The artist is trying to boost SELF esteem by invoking the promises of God. The problem with that is the fact that the Christian life is one of self denial, not self affirmation, and we place our trust and faith in the LORD Jesus Christ and in Who He Is. The murkiness winds up clouding the mechanism for sharing the Gospel. We are to preach Christ and Him crucified… not “live it out” in a sort of pantomime of what Christ did for us. Letting our light shine isn’t about putting a spotlight on us, it’s about pointing everyone to Jesus Christ.

JasonGrayVEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Glow in the Dark

Sometimes the world feels like a mess
Full of drama, full of stress
And life puts a fist right in your ribs
You can hide if you choose to
And no one would even blame you
Or you can let them see how you deal with it

That even in the darkest place
His love can make you radiate

(chorus)
Doesn’t matter how deep, how dark the night is
Keep hoping, keep on shining
And they’ll see His light burning in your heart
And if the road gets rough, just keep your head up
Let the world see what you’re made of
That His love’s alive in your deepest parts
Like a flame, like a burning star you can shine right where you are
He made you to glow in the dark

Don’t be ashamed of your past
If you’re shattered like a piece of glass
The more broke you are the more the light gets through
Show your wounds and your flaws
Show them why you still need the cross
Let them see the work He’s doing in you

That even in the darkest place
His love can make you radiate

(chorus)
Doesn’t matter how deep, how dark the night is
Keep hoping, keep on shining
And they’ll see His light burning in your heart
And if the road gets rough, just keep your head up
Let the world see what you’re made of
That His love’s alive in your deepest parts
Like a flame, like a burning star you can shine right where you are
He made you to glow in the dark

(chorus)
Doesn’t matter how deep, how dark the night is
Keep hoping, keep on shining
And they’ll see His light burning in your heart
And if the road gets rough, just keep your head up
Let the world see what you’re made of
That His love’s alive in your deepest parts
Like a flame, like a burning star you can shine right where you are
He made you to glow in the dark
Glow in the dark
Doesn’t matter how
Glow in the dark
Doesn’t matter how

Publishing: © 2015 Centricity Songs & Graybird Songs (BMI) / Universal Music-Brentwood Benson Pub, D Soul Music (ASCAP)
Writer(s): Words and Music by Jason Gray and Ben Glover

Discussion

Regarding the Lyric Video, I hope to someday see our youth be brought beyond the wimpy definition of “persecution” being simply unpopular in school. There are plenty of kids who have to deal with being unpopular for a variety of reasons, some do it intentionally to feed their pity party (emo, goth, etc). Christians are going to be HATED for the sake of the Name of Jesus. The Christian Baker who lost his business, reputation, and potentially his home because a homosexual couple insisted that he bake them a “wedding” cake… that’s persecution. That’s hate. I watch the Cooking Channel and Food Network… there is no shortage of homosexual chefs and bakers. Our Christian youth don’t need to be encouraged to stand against being called weird… that’s for the mystics of Bethel and Hillsong… no, Christians need to be ready for being persecuted for holding to a Biblical standard. They’ll be labeled “bigots”, “homophobes”, “islamophobes”, neanderthals, archaic, draconian, hateful, etc. It’s a totally different form of attack… they will be vilified and presented as legitimate targets for hate and scorn. That’s what our Christian Youth need to be prepared for. And it will all be false witness against the Christian for Jesus’ Name sake all while true bigotry and hate is tolerated in the name of secularism, humanism, and islam. The world is already much darker than modern-day evangelicalism is willing to admit, and it is going to get much darker… in fact, it must get darker.

As for the overall theme of the song, I believe the artist is trying to capture a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in an attempt to boost the listener’s self-esteem so he/she can be a light in a dark world.

Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV) | Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

I think it would be funny to hear someone try to turn the notion of being salty as a good thing in our modern setting. But I digress, in this portion of His sermon, Jesus is calling the hearers to be salt and light to the world, for the glory of God the Father who is in heaven. This is Law, by the way, for it is a call to good works. Can a lamp light itself? No. Can salt that has lost its saltiness get it back? No. Can darkness find hidden within itself light? No. So, can we who are dead in sins and trespasses do good works of ourselves? No. It is God who calls the Light into existence, who grants salt its saltiness, and who sets His people as a city on a hill, for His Glory.

John 1:1-18 (ESV) | The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

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

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

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

The light we are to shine is Jesus Christ, not of our own. So, whenever this song vaguely tells you to “keep on shining”, look to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and share (with words) the message of repentance and the forgiveness of sin.

2 Corinthians 4:1-15 (ESV) | The Light of the Gospel

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Amen. Now, in the lyric of the song above, I do like the line, “Show them why you still need the cross”. But it’s not about living as openly in sin as the unbelievers do, murmuring and complaining like those who are without faith and hope. It’s about living a life that bears the fruit of repentance to God and love for your fellow-man. Forgive others as you have been forgiven. Love others as you have been loved. Confess your sins, one to another. This is how we demonstrate our ongoing need for the cross of Jesus Christ. This is what “authentic faith” looks like… which is funny since that is not what is taught by all of the inauthentic (false) teachers in seeker-mergent congregations despite their regular sales pitch of “authenticity”.

If we maintain this focus on what Scripture tells us is the Light of the world, let us be moved to love our neighbors, so that they might see our good works by faith, and give glory to God the Father.

Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV) | Walk in Love

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Conclusion

I like the overall intent of the song, though the theology is overly self-centered. I decided to devote more time to fleshing out the teaching of Light and our call to be a Light to the world of darkness around us… not that the light comes from us or is us; rather, that we carry forward the Light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The song doesn’t stand on its own, for without proper biblical foundation it can become as empty as the secular humanist appeal to “don’t worry be happy”.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (ESV)

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin

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

November 10, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin which currently sits at #19 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

The song opens up with an appeal to mystical direct-revelation much like that of Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling. We will do our best to rescue the song a bit from this mystical interpretation, but given that this is intended as a song for corporate worship that has gained popularity on the airwaves, it warrants a disapproval because it simply does not stand on its own. It fails to point the listener to Christ, it doesn’t call the sinner and saint to repentance and forgiveness so it isn’t fit for public consumption without contextual setting. As far as Corporate worship in a church setting goes, it does at least have a solid confession of the Goodness of God. However, there is a lot of junk in there and the song is not instructive for the Church; rather, it is quite mystical and contemplative in nature.

Chris Tomlin VEVO Lyrics & Chords Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Good Good Father

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories
Of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper
Of love in the dead of night
And You tell me that You’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Oh, and I’ve seen many searching
For answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only You provide
‘Cause You know just what we need
Before we say a word

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Cause You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

You are perfect in all of Your ways
Oh, You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
Into love, love, love

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
You’re a good good Father

You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways

Publishing: ©2014 WorshipTogether.com Songs / sixsteps Music / Vamos Publishing / Housefires Sounds (ASCAP) / Capitol CMG Paragon / Common Hymnal Digital / Tony Brown BMI Designee (BMI) (admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)
Writer(s): Pat Barrett and Tony Brown

Discussion

Chris Tomlin is indeed the most prolific songwriter in our day.  Much of what he’s written is marketed as “Praise and Worship” music intended for modern, contemporary, evangelical services. It’s rather impressive when you see the sheer volume of songs credited to him, until you start to look for substance in the lyric. Sadly, it is these songs that are most likely to pop up on one of these Top20 charts… rich theology isn’t what gets top billing in Christian radio airplay.

First off, the song is absolutely correct in its confession that believers serve a Good Good Father. In fact, God the Father is the standard by which we measure Good.

Mark 10:17-22 (ESV) | The Rich Young Man

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

We know that Jesus, being God the Son, is Good; therefore, He is calling attention to this man’s pride and self-righteousness. Jesus exposes the man’s belief that he is good in his own sight, thus his definition of Good isn’t a proper one. When our definition of “good” is downgraded to a comparative goodness to our neighbor, it paves the wide path of self-righteousness which runs counter to the Gospel of Repentance.

The intended audience of a song written for corporate worship is those attending church. I wish that I could say “believers” but with so many churches these days running with the “churching the unchurched” model, that cannot be assumed. Evangelicalism is awash in entertainment and confusing attendance with regeneration… if you can just get sinners to keep coming back they are as good as “saved”. If you don’t preach Law and Gospel, you’re just entertaining unbelievers and giving them false-assurance of salvation by works (attending, volunteering, giving).

No Gospel in this Song

Nowhere in this song is Christ, the cross, sin, or repentance mentioned. The world doesn’t have a problem giving ascent to the idea of a Loving God when they are granted ample leeway to define what that Love looks like. They’ll sing along and really belt out “I am loved because its who I am” for as long as you want to repeat the Bridge… they can even declare His perfection in His Ways… as long as their sin is never addressed and they are never called to repentance.

No Biblical Instruction

Getting back to the problem of mystical direct-revelation, the first stanza doesn’t refute the lies of the world with Scripture… no… it appeals to tender whispers of love in the dead of night. /sigh.

There is also the truism of the refrain that “I am loved”. I say truism, because it is true in a broad sense that isn’t specifically salvific.

John 3:16-18 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World

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

Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

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.

God’s perfect Love for us drives His Grace in delaying the judgement until the second coming of Christ and in giving His Only Son Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for sin. But salvation comes by grace through faith… and those who lack Faith in Him who bore our sins and transgressions in our place on the cross will taste the second death, the final judgement.

The Holy Spirit calls us to repentance and points us to Jesus Christ, the Only begotten Son of the Living God. There is a very awkward (contemplative/mystical/sensual) repetitive section in the song that I want to address regarding the as you call me deeper still into love. Let’s look to the Gospel According to John where Jesus gives the Promise (and teaches the role) of God the Holy Spirit.

John 14:15-31 (ESV) | Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Now, our human self-righteousness tends to hijack the language here regarding the “keeping of His commandments and His Word”. We all sin. This isn’t saying that one has to be sinless to love the Father. Wrong sense of the word “keep”. We should be reading this as in cherishing the Word of the Lord in our hearts in the Proverbs sense of the word.

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.

Even if I can get past the nonsensical repetition of what can only be assumed a tender whisper of love in the dead of night from (Hopefully God the Holy Spirit), “come deeper still into love”… there is no instruction for the Believer in how to answer that call. King Solomon and his father King David pointed to the Word of the Lord. The Written Word of the Lord, even while they had a Prophet of the Lord in their midst. Psalm 119 is a great example, too. Bear in mind, though, that King David and King Solomon were also under the Law of Moses, so they were under obligation of the Law in addition to the Law of Faith. The Chris Tomlin song isn’t pointing to the external Word, the Written Word of God, it is pointing to some internalized emotional experience… an indulgence of whispers in the dead of night. Brothers and sisters, this is dangerous… and no where in Scripture are we instructed to seek God in this manner. We are instructed to seek Him in His Word. To grow in the fullness of the knowledge of Christ.

If only the we’re all searching was descriptive of the Church studying the Word of God. But no, that’s not where contemplatives search for God. They operate under the false-notion that if they engage in “spiritual disciplines” they can find God apart from Scripture… and so this confession of we’re all searching is one of a mystical approach… a fleshly, sensual, emotional one. No one seeks after God. God draws sinners by His Word. If His Word isn’t being preached, no one is seeking Him… they seek replacements for the God they’ve rejected.

Romans 3:9-31 (ESV) | No One Is Righteous

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15  “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

The Righteousness of God Through Faith

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Law and Gospel. Law identifies sin, Gospel grants forgiveness by grace through faith.

Conclusion

The pendulum of “progressive Christianity” is still swinging left here in the US and we are actively exporting this brand of religion around the world. There are some who are trying to reverse the trend, trying to point out the error in slipping away from Sola Scriptura and instead turning to the schemes of men. I’m praying for a revival or reformation of evangelicalism to return once more to the written Word of God, to preaching Law and Gospel, sin and Grace, repentance and forgiveness in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

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.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “All I Need is You” by Lecrae

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

November 5, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “All I Need is You” by Lecrae. This song held the top spot on the Top Billboard Gospel Songs for the week of September 6, 2014. The Billboard chart really loves Lecrae, who held 4 of the 15 spots on the chart that week. Why are we reviewing this song today? Because I was driving my car this past Tuesday…

I’ve mentioned it before, but there are 2 main Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) stations in my area (Augusta, GA), WAFJ 88.3FM and Air1. I generally have my radio set to WAFJ, but I frequently have to switch to Air1 to dodge Beth Moore or some advertisement for a heretic coming to the area to speak at a local conference/church. Sometimes I just have to turn off the radio altogether. I don’t always remember to flip back to WAFJ, since while I’m driving that’s my priority… driving. This past Tuesday, while I was grabbing some fast food on my way back from errands, this song played on the radio. I was completely confused by it. Since I was in my car, waiting in the drive-thru line, I didn’t take the time to look up the back-story of the song… so I took to twitter with my first reaction after the song finished and the lyrics still tumbled in my mind…

confusedtweets

The first tweet went out just before I was handed my food. Once I got to my desk I finalized the DiM post for Tuesday and then started researching this Lecrae song to find some backstory. While this song does stay firmly in the “disapprove” category, I want to clearly state its intended context up-front. It was not properly setup by Air1 either in an intro or outro, so just hearing these lyrics in the mix of other vaguely “Christian” songs immediately tripped by “Jesus is my bearded girlfriend” brand of false-worship alarm. The lyrics themselves don’t clear it up, unfortunately, but I found an MTV interview that clarified Lecrae’s intent with the song. Not stellar, but at least it clears up the focus of the song… it’s to/for/about his wife, not God.

Let’s be honest — for all the great things that hip-hop has achieved culturally, shining a positive light on monogamous relationships certainly isn’t one of them. The genre has faced plenty of criticism for being misogynistic, and while we have to accept that a sizable portion of that is purely for entertainment, there are still very few artists waving the flag for healthy relationships. Lecrae hopes to change that, beginning with a song like “A I Need is You.”

“When you see Jay Z and Beyonce, [you think], okay, marriage is cool now. They set a trend and I think that’s healthy,” he explained. “It’s just continuing with that trend of — what if we’re monogamous? What if we’re consistent in our relationships? What if we tell the truth? What if we don’t lie? What if we don’t cheat? What if we love somebody and we’re not afraid to say it in a hip-hop song? You’ve gotta continue to set trends and be different.” Read More

Lecrae also did an interview with Billboard Music where this track was discussed a bit:

“I just want to be able to die saying I gave it my all in terms of being a voice,” says Lecrae. “All this stuff is nice to me — being seen and heard and all that stuff — and I’m sure that’s the dream for a lot of people. But for me, they’re hammers and nails. So it’s like, the Grammy is a hammer, but what am I going to build with it?”

Lecrae is well aware that the fans who have carried him this far — from the Christian music community to the stadium locker rooms — may worry that he will leave the inspirational message behind as he eyes the mainstream. “Some people assume that you’re now going to be talking about whatever appeals to culture,” says Lecrae. “Like, ‘Now you’re going to be talking about drugs and sex.’ I’m not going to do that. But I will be talking about things that both people in the church and out of the church are concerned with and think about. Love. This whole video shoot is about love and being in love, and everybody can relate to that.”

As if on cue, Darragh enters the kitchen carrying their son, who has just been woken up from his afternoon nap. The little boy is not happy about this, aggressively rubbing his eyes and fighting consciousness.

“Hey, champ!” whispers Lecrae. “I love you!” Darragh hands the toddler to Lecrae, and the child nuzzles his head into his father’s chest and seems to relax. “Consistency, man; integrity, character — [I’m just] representing those aspects that are not, for whatever reason, within hip-hop culture,” he continues. “It’s almost like people can’t even believe that they can coexist. That’s a win for me, for people to be able to say, ‘Faith, fatherhood, monogamy exists in hip-hop.’ Yes, we’re here.” Read More

While these interviews give enough clarity for me to back down from my first tweet regarding this song, it doesn’t tip me in favor of this song being played on Christian Radio. Why? Because I struggle to find any Christian message in either of these interviews. Sure, the label “Christian” pops up here and there, but not pointing to Christ. The word “gospel” gets mentioned, but the Gospel isn’t being proclaimed. There was even mention of a cross… the one that Lecrae bears (a stigma of being a bible-thumping Christian), not the Cross of Jesus Christ. With all of this in place, let’s now look at today’s song.

Lecrae Reach Records Video

Lyrics (via Air1)

All I Need is You

By my side, thick and thin
Highs and lows, don’t let go
We gone ride, we gone win
Don’t know how, all I know
(All I need is you)

Keep me in my timezone when my mind’s gone
When I’m flying home
And I’m stressed out and I’m tempted to get that styrofoam
And go pour it up, but you know what’s up
And you know that ain’t gone solve nothing
I mean Lord forbid I might fall or something
And I’m all or nothing cause (all I need is you)
To hold me down like bed straps to the psych ward
It’s killing me but you still with me when I fight hard
And (all I need is you)
You diggin’ me when I’m iggin’ you
Get with me when my card’s pulled
Coulda dealt with me but you fell for me ‘for I fell for you
To keep me on that right path and the right math
Cause you plus nothin’s everything
You my everything, saying
(All I need is)
You, ain’t gotta question my allegiance
Cause the way you love me I could never leave ya, I need ya

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

How did I fall in this?
No condition that get a mention but you offer this
Unconditional love, I swear I sell it all for this
I’m tryna keep it together, forgive my awkwardness
But umm, often it’s just you and me off in this
Valley of shadows and I know they tryna pick me off in this
But all I need is you
It’s funny just how off I get when I ain’t riding with you
No adjectives for yo’ awesomeness
They burning one for that burn out
This life done got ‘em all turnt out
Took time out to put time in so I turn to you when I’m worn out
All I need is you
You slow me down cause you know me now with my phony smile
And I’m acting like it’s all copacetic
It’s so pathetic, so juvenile
Know what you do
You keep me cool in the summer
When they be dressing less and I be wantin’ to show off and stunt
There ain’t nothing to want, you give me all that I need
All I need is you to keep that fire burning for me
All I need is you

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

Ain’t nobody gone get in the way
Put that on my money in the bank
Cause you do what them others can’t
And I love that, yea
We gone ride till the wheels fall off
Above it all, we can never fall, yea
Hold my hand, we can have it all
Hold my hand, we can have it all

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

You always pick me up when I’m feelin’ down
You always make it better for me some how
All I need is you, cause all I need is you
(All I need is you)

Publishing: Fellowship of The Unashamed (BMI) A Man Broke Free (ASCAP) Dramatic Pen Publishing/Almo Music Corp (ASCAP) Unashamed Music/Joseph Prielozny Music (ASCAP) Before I Die Publishing (BMI)
Writer(s): Lecrae Moore, Dustin Bowie, Latasha Williams, Joseph Prielozny, Chris Mackey

Discussion

God doesn’t even get an honorable mention in this song. There is a “Lord forbid I might fall or something”, but that’s just a turn of phrase like “heaven forbid” or “goodness knows”. The hook is “All I Need is You” with a backup track that echos “you’re all I ever needed”… when played on a CCM Radio station, I’m thinking the “you” is intended to be God the Father, the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Our LORD and Savior. But I’m thankful that is not the case, considering how many of the lines would fall into works-based self-righteousness in that setup. However, since this is a song sung to his wife, we have a different set of problems. The song has several lines of praise to his wife that leave Jesus out of the picture:

To keep me on that right path and the right math, Cause you plus nothin’s everything, You my everything, saying (All I need is)

You, you’re all I ever needed

But umm, often it’s just you and me off in this Valley of shadows and I know they tryna pick me off in this But all I need is you

There is no context given to frame this praise that could leave any room for a Christ-honoring relationship. I get the desire to promote monogamy, but God created marriage and He did so to point us to Him. The Apostle Paul anchored his admonishment for married couples in Christ, and we should do the same…

Ephesians 5:15-33 (ESV)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives and Husbands

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 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. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is fully articulated in Paul’s teaching on the marriage relationship. So how can a Christian artist get through an entire love song to his wife without even mentioning our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? By focusing on appealing to MTV and Billboard while “bearing the cross” of them assuming certain things about his Christianity… like that he would talk them through the Bible. Well, there’s no bible in this song. Sure, the Valley of Shadows gets a mention, but it’s okay… Lecrae only needs his wife… no one else. Never mind that when David wrote Psalm 23, the “You” is the LORD, not one of David’s wives.

Psalm 23 (ESV) | The Lord Is My Shepherd
A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

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.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Conclusion

I find myself quite angry once again, only this time my anger is pointed more at Air1 for playing the song than for Lecrae for producing it. It’s our job to be discerning. Read through the MTV and Billboard interviews… Lecrae is aiming for secular relevance… his profession of Christianity is what he relies on to make him look unique in a sea of hip-hop.

“I always liked the content of a Common, but the commercial viability of a Lil Jon,” says Lecrae, who along with Washer (the two had no formal business background) launched Reach Records in Dallas in 2004. “And I would say, ‘Why don’t those worlds ever come together?’ So for me it was like, ‘Let’s do that.'” Read More

There is a need for Christian Music to preach Law to expose sin in all areas, including sexual purity, marriage, and fidelity… but CCM is seriously lacking in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead it is awash in legalism, man-made law, and mysticism and idolatry. Your marriage is a gift from God intended to point you to Him. Our sinful flesh will always strive to worship the created rather than the Creator (Romans 1). Humble yourselves in repentance, and know that Christ died to pay the penalty for our sin, so that by His Grace we are saved through Faith in Christ Jesus.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (ESV)

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge