DiM | “Messengers” Wins Grammy for Best CCM

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

February 10, 2015. So last night as I was driving home I heard the DJ of a local Christian radio station congratulate Lecrae and For King and Country for their Grammy. I thought, “oh yeah… we should probably take a look at what was honored at the Grammy’s for DiM Tuesday.”

So today we are going to take a look at the winners of the “Gospel” category of the Grammy’s. The winner for BEST CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC PERFORMANCE/SONG was indeed “Messengers” by Lecrae Featuring For King & Country. We’ll look at this song today, but before we do let’s look at the other nominees:

Now, one thing I couldn’t help but notice is that though we’ve been trying to review the top 20 Christian songs over the past year, we’ve only managed to cover 1 of the 5 nominated songs. Should I be using a different list? Should we try to add a DiM day in our week? I don’t know. Your feedback on this question would be most appreciated.

Okay, so let’s take a look at the song “Messengers”. First, I want to try to clarify that rap, like poetry, rarely makes clear objective statements. It is a genre that tries to poetically allude to societal themes or trends. Rap music is a part of a very dynamic rap culture that is intentionally kept in a state of flux. The vast majority of secular rap is filled with fad references and short-lived colloquialisms connected to even shorter-lived trends in clothing, entertainment, and civil unrest/outrage. A big part of secular rap culture is demonstrating how “fresh” you keep your language, tastes, and style. In fact, my use of “fresh” in that sense clearly signifies that I am not on the cutting edge of rap culture… and I’m okay with that. “Christian” rap is equally poetic and it needs to speak to a culture whose language changes faster than the headlines at CNN about a timeless, unchanging Truth of God’s Word. Rap is a genre of poetry, and poetry isn’t the best way to convey the clear message of the Gospel. God indeed breathed out the Psalms, but the Apostles didn’t write poetry in the New Testament, they wrote clearly and concisely as the Holy Spirit led them.

Music Videos

Lyrics (via K-Love)

Messengers by Lecrae (feat. For King & Country)

Calling all the messengers
Calling all the messengers
Calling all the messengers

We’ve been given a call
Been forgiven, risen
We livin’ to give him our all
Rise up from your past
That’s holding you down
This moment is all that matters
The future is now
How will the people know if we don’t tell ’em?
If we fail ’em
They’re stumbling in the dark
But the lighters that we carryin’
Don’t have to wonder your purpose
Or what you’re here for
Reflect his image
And show the world what he cares for

And I know it’s all right
And you know it’s your life
And we know that time’s running out
Can’t wait around cause

Calling all the messengers
Calling all the messengers
Calling all the messengers

I’ve been a lot of places where the scene ain’t pretty
I’ve seen plenty of hate, death and destruction
Where ignorance kills many
The blind leading the blind
We turnin’ a blind eye
That alone is a crime
We’ve got the power to life
I know that we make mistakes
Don’t let ’em keep you away
Mercy, love, and His grace
The reason we movin’ here
Speak out
Though we’ve never been qualified to do it
I ain’t earned it
I was loved into it
I’m brand new

Calling all the messengers
Calling all the messengers
Calling all the messengers

Publishing: Fellowship of the Unashamed Music (BMI), WB Music Corp./Method To The Madness/Shankel Songs (ASCAP) (Admin. by WB Music Corp.), Warner Tamerlane/Kilns Music/Shankel Songs (BMI) (Adm. by Warner Tamerlane), Ally Plane Music (BMI), Evident Music (ASCAP), Before I Die Publishing (BMI), Joseph Prielozny Music (ASCAP)/Unashamed Music (ASCAP) and Track or Die Music LLC (BMI)
Writer(s): Lecrae Moore, Joel Smallbone, Luke Smallbone, Ricky Jackson, Ran Jackson, Kenneth Chris Mackey, Joseph Prielozny and Torrance Esmond

Positive Elements

I believe the title and the choral refrain points to the Christian’s call to Evangelism. We can pluck a few lines out to support this assertion. One thing I’d like to point out is that the value of a messenger is in the Message being proclaimed and from Whom the Message originates. We are called to take the Message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Let’s look at how Paul writes of this in Romans 10.

Romans 10:11-17 (ESV)

11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

There is a line in the first verse of the song that seems to come from this passage, “How will the people know if we don’t tell ’em?” I wish the emphasis of this song was on the preaching of the Gospel, the sharing of the Message of repentance and the forgiveness of sin found only at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. That was Paul’s emphasis. That was Jesus’s emphasis. This is the emphasis of the Great Commission.


If the lyric of the song is aimed at calling Christians to Evangelism… why then do we see this song pop up seemingly out of nowhere at the Grammy’s? Why has this song not been on our radar here? I believe that this song resonates more with a secularist activism crowd of artists and producers because it doesn’t emphasize preaching of Law (repentance) and Gospel (forgiveness)… rather the song seems to emphasize works. The world is eager to judge Christianity (and Christians) for their lack of works. This song offers up a few lines that seem to echo that sentiment.

This moment is all that matters The future is nowHow will the people know if we don’t tell ’em? If we fail ’em, They’re stumbling in the dark But the lighters that we carryin’ Don’t have to wonder your purpose Or what you’re here for Reflect his image And show the world what he cares for

What does “the future is now” and “this moment is all that matters” mean in a Christian context? Are these statements even remotely supported by Scripture? This is the kind of stuff you hear from a sales pitch or a motivational hype-man. Do something now! is what is conveyed. Reminds me of the song we reviewed “Do Something” by Matthew West. One of the positive lines we highlighted earlier is in bold. We connected that line to Romans 10. But when we look at this line and how it falls in the context of the song, we see the next line “If we fail ’em”… and it leads to the reflect his image and show the world what he cares for. It seems to fall in the “deeds not creeds” (which is a creed) category, or one of those “earn the right to preach the Gospel” philosophies. I’m not saying I think that is Lecrae’s intention, just pointing out that this seems to be the overall tenor of this song when we look at the lyrics apart from the music video.

The second verse has a line that I think secular activists key in on to further push the “deeds not creeds” mindset. There is an allegation by Lecrae that “We turnin’ a blind eye That alone is a crime”. This also changes the over-arching theme of “calling all the messengers”. There is now an implied rebuke to Christians for turning a blind eye to the state of… well, those places where the scene ain’t pretty that Lecrae has seen. He’s vague and generic, but the implication is much the same as Matthew West’s accusation that “we’re never going to change the world by standing still”. Lecrea’s song isn’t nearly as blatant, but the problem of a works-focused “social gospel” is still evident. Lecrae is “calling all the messengers” to pay attention and reflect Christ by showing what He loves and do something about the hate, death, destruction, and ignorance in the world.

The biggest concern with which I take issue is the avoidance of topics of Sin and Repentance. In the first verse, we are called, forgiven, and risen… but we still need to “rise up from a past that holds us down”. huh? God forgave you (when you got saved) and he raised you (from the death of your sins and trespasses) but its up to YOU to rise up from your past because it’s still holding you down? Law-Gospel-Law. There was a chance to clarify this concept in the second verse… and it was missed entirely. “We’ve got the power to life I know that we make mistakes Don’t let ’em keep you away Mercy, love, and His grace The reason we movin’ here Speak out Though we’ve never been qualified to do it I ain’t earned it I was loved into it I’m brand new“. So, we make “mistakes” that we “can’t let them keep us away”? How about, we Sin and are in continual need to repent and be forgiven, and that is the message we should be preaching to the Lost as well? Mercy, Love, and Grace are popular themes for the world to hear, but still no confession and repentance. Incidentally, the way to “not letting them keep us away” is to confess our sins one to another, forgive each other, and repent at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ.


The world is all for praising social activism that down-plays sin and repentance. This song won a Grammy, but I haven’t seen it on a Christian music top 20 chart. The world picked this song and championed it as what they want to see coming out of Gospel music. A world that tells Christians, don’t talk about sins, just demonstrate love. Don’t ask me to repent, go work to end world hunger, slavery, and climate change like all of us who reject your God do. You see, social activism can be overtly engaged by anyone, even those who’ve rejected the One True Living God. This song will likely see a lot more Christian radio airplay as the CCM industry gushes over it’s Grammy. The song is a poetic, generic rebuke that Christians aren’t “doing enough” because evil exists.

In closing, I’d like to remind all of the messengers, what Jesus warned.

John 15:18-25 (ESV) | The Hatred of the World

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin,but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.

To God be the glory, Amen.
In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “Because He Lives (Amen)” by Matt Maher

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

February 3, 2015. Today, we will be taking a look at song #13 on the Top 20 Songs at 20theCountdownMagazine website, “Because He Lives (Amen)” by Matt Maher. The song has an anthemic vibe (typical of Matt Maher and Chris Tomlin), a catchy tune, and Matt’s vocals are strong. It is cleverly written to get those who know the Hymn to fill in the gaps in the message automatically. Sadly, for those who don’t know what was conveyed in the hymn, the song doesn’t stand on its own. The hymn didn’t tell the full story (no repentance and a little bit self-focused), but it did a much better job than this song does.

Music Videos

Lyrics (via K-Love)

Because He Lives (Amen) by Matt MaherI BELIEVE IN THE SON






Publishing: © 2014 Hanna Street Music (BMI) (Adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)/ Sony/ATV Tree Publishing / I Am A Pilgrim Songs (BMI) / Sony/ATV Timber Publishing / Open Hands Music (SESAC) / Alletrop Music (BMI) (admin. by Music Services) / worshiptogether.com songs / sixsteps music (ASCAP) (Adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / Worship Together Music / sixsteps songs / SDG Publishing (BMI) (Adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)
Writer(s): Bill & Gloria Gaither, Matt Maher, Jason Ingram, Ed Cash, Daniel Carson, Chris Tomlin

Positive Elements

There is an allusion to the Hymn “Because He Lives“, which is a good song. The best thing about this song by Matt Maher is that it reminds older Christians of that hymn. Unfortunately, if you’ve grown up in contemporary worship… you probably have never heard of that song. I’m thinking this is why Bill & Gloria Gaither are included in the list of writers.


Had I seen the list of 7 writers before seeing the lyrics of the song, I would have been greatly disappointed by the vagueness and brevity of the message of the songs. Such a vague song. Never identifying who the Son is, or the Father. No mention of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. This song simply can’t wait to jump to “me”.

The second verse is very odd to me. While we are born dead in sins and transgressions, we aren’t yet in the grave. Before we are regenerated by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we walked in our sin, transgressions, and death. The line “He rolled the stone away” is odd, too, at least in this verse if we are to connect it to our sinful state… are we placing ourselves in the resurrection of Jesus? In the Baptism, we do join (by faith) in His death and resurrection… but is that being properly conveyed here? I don’t think so. I don’t mean to impune the intent the song’s writers, but the brevity of the song and this verse makes clarity tough to achieve. If you cannot be clear with the analogy, either write more verse(s) or dump the analogy and declare the Gospel outright.

I also struggle with the use of the word “Mercy” calling our name. Grace and Mercy are not interchangeable terms in the New Testament. Since this verse is alluding to Ephesians 2, let’s look at the passage.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) | By Grace Through Faith
2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

So why use “Mercy call my name”? The song doesn’t preach Law or repentance. When we preach Grace, we include the need for the atonement. Society sees “grace” and they think of a temporary reprieve, but the payment is still due. That is fitting; however, in the case of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the payment has already been made. We still need only confess our sinful state and repent from our sins and receive the Grace of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and this we do on a daily basis for as long as we continue living in these sinful bodies. Mercy comes after the judgment, it doesn’t skip it. While I may be splitting hairs a bit, I feel like keeping the terms and concepts of Grace and Mercy in their proper places in Scripture.


The world is eating up the lawless version of God’s love and mercy, and churches are crumbling under the pressure of “church growth” and “seeker sensitivity”. With the recent news of another megachurch declaring unrepentant sexual immorality to be an acceptable lifestyle for Christians, I think of this song being played on the radio or even in the worship service at such a church. Let’s sing about the self-esteem building side of the Gospel without mentioning the Law which identifies sin in our lives. Ultimately, the song is too vague to be given a pass. It’s a somewhat random collection of ideas that point to the Gospel, but they are not articulated well… and I’m comparing it to a short hymn. Did this song really take 7 writers?

Jude 1:20-25 (ESV) 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. 24 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, 25 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.

To God be the glory, Amen.
In Christ Jesus,

Taking Some Time Off

16_luke2-collectionWith all of the traveling my family is going to be doing over the next 3 weeks, I think it’s time we took a bit of a break from blogging. I pray you each spend time in prayer and in the Word during this Holiday season. Share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, bear fruit in keeping with repentance, forgive others as you have been forgiven in Jesus Name.

Matthew 6:5-21 (ESV)

The Lord’s Prayer

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, forthey think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them,for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.


16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rustdestroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

If the Lord should tarry, we should be back to blogging here at Faithful Stewardship for Gospel Wednesday, January 14, 2015. We will be picking back up in the Gospel According to Matthew.  Until then, we plan on sharing good material we find on our Facebook Page.

In Christ Jesus,

“Popular” Christmas Minimizes Christ

As a bit of a side note, I wanted to share a reminder that while it seems like a good thing that the whole world embraces this holiday season of Christmas, they don’t honor Christ. The world hates Him. Not all Christmas songs honor Christ, most of them just celebrate celebration itself.

Billboard Holiday 100 Songs

  1. Mary, Did You Know? — Pentatonix
  2. All I Want For Christmas Is You — Mariah Carey
  3. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree — Brenda Lee
  4. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) — Nat King Cole
  5. Last Christmas — Wham!
  6. Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) — Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  7. Santa Tell Me — Ariana Grande
  8. Feliz Navidad — Jose Feliciano
  9. White Christmas — Bing Crosby
  10. It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year — Andy Williams
  11. Jingle Bell Rock — Bobby Helms
  12. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer — Gene Autry
  13. Do You Want To Build A Snowman? — Kristen Bell, Agatha Lee Monn & Katie Lopez
  14. A Holly Jolly Christmas — Burl Ives
  15. Baby It’s Cold Outside — Idina Menzel Duet with Michael Bublé
  16. Silent Night — Kelly Clarkson Feat. Reba McEntire & Trisha Yearwood
  17. Wonderful Christmastime — Paul McCartney
  18. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas — Michael Bublé
  19. Happy Xmas (War is Over) — John Lennon & Yoko Ono
  20. Christmas Canon — Trans-Siberian Orchestra

In the top 20, only 3 make an attempt to reference the Birth of Christ. While the first song is good, we saw in our last Christmas Gospel post that the song kind of ignores a great deal of what Scripture makes clear that Mary knew. Christmas Eve Sarajevo get’s a pass because there are no words, but the melody begins with “what Child is this” (We’ll be looking at this song next Tuesday). Silent Night is a good song as we discussed in today’s DiM Post, but it got trumped today by Matt Maher’s version.

Remember that Jesus came to a world that was fallen and was not truly looking for Him. The World isn’t celebrating Him, nor is it seeking Him. We aren’t here to make the World acknowledge our holidays; rather, we preach Christ and Him crucified so that those who believe in Him will be saved out of the world and into eternal life in Christ Jesus.

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 awitness, 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.

Colossians 3:16-17 (ESV) 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “Silent Night (Emmanuel)” by Matt Maher

Presentation1Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

For the next few weeks, we will take a break from the top-20 lists and focus on Holiday music. As it turns out, there are a lot of bad “Christmas” songs out there, the world cranks out its versions a lot faster and with a lot better production. There are some good ones and I want to focus on those. What makes a good Christmas song? The focus of the song must be Jesus Christ. In fact, a good Christmas song hold meaning and significance all year. A Christmas song becomes a holiday song when singing it outside of the “Christmas season” rings hallow, like “O Christmas Tree” or “Jingle Bells”… those songs are about the holiday, not the Holy One. Today’s song is “Oh What a Glorious Night” by Sidewalk Prophets. This song popped up as I was looking for the Linus clip for yesterday’s post, and I was so excited to hear a good Christmas song that I knew we should share it today.

Music Videos

Lyrics (via K-Love)

Silent Night

Silent night holy night
All is calm all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace X2

Silent night holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing alleluia
Christ the Savior is born X2

O come O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive hearts that fell
Bring peace on Earth and love’s goodwill
For everyone

For You so loved the world You gave
Your life for us to heal and save
We see the echoes of Your grace
For everyone

Silent night holy night
Son of God love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus Lord at Thy birth X3

The song “Silent Night” has always felt a bit weak to me because it seemed to make the night of Christ’s birth the night of our Salvation. While the birth of Jesus Christ is indeed important and does fulfill prophecy, there was more to His plan and work than simply being born of a virgin, in Bethlehem, the City of David. He came to give His life as payment to ransom us from sin and death. The insertion of the third and fourth stanzas goes a long way to completing the thought of this song, and I absolutely love it. This Silent Night was the dawn of redeeming Grace, for He walked, talked, fulfilled the Law, and then laid down His life for us. He was raised from the dead, ascended into heaven and will return again. The day of His return, however, will be anything but silent.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (ESV)

The Coming of the Lord

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

To God be the glory, Amen.
In Christ Jesus,