DiM | “Eye of the Storm (ft GabeReal)” by Ryan Stevenson

Presentation1CCM Radio Edition.

May 17, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Eye of the Storm (feat. GabeReal of DiverseCity)” by Ryan Stevenson which currently sits at #13 on the20theCountdownMagazine.

Stylistically, I like the song. The vocals are solid and have a nice grit to them that give the song an impactful feeling of honestly. You believe the singers are singing something real, at least in what they’ve felt and what they are holding onto. Theologically, the song falls a bit flat in that it remains within the theology of glory rather than the theology of the cross. We’ll get into that a bit later, but for now this song treats faith and the Promises of God as something to be invoked when things are going well for us… particularly when our dreams and visions aren’t coming true. Well, that’s a bit shallow compared to the richness of God’s Promise of Salvation in the Gospel of the Cross. So lets give it a listen and then look at the lyrics.

Official Audio (Album Version)

Official Lyric Video (Radio Version)

Album Version Lyrics (via GannsDeen)
Radio Version Lyrics (pulled from Video)

Ryan Stevenson featuring GabeReal of DiverseCity

Prologue (Album Only)
In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
And in the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm

Verse 1 (Album Version)
When the solid ground is falling out from underneath my feet
Between the black skies, and my red eyes, I can barely see
When I realize I’ve been sold out by my friends and my family
I can feel the rain reminding me

Verse 1 (Radio Version)
When the solid ground is falling out from underneath my feet
Between the black skies, and my red eyes, I can barely see
When I’m feelin’ like I’ve been let down by my friends and my family
I can feel the rain reminding me

Chorus (both versions)
In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
And in the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm

Verse 2 (both versions)
Mmm, when my hopes and dreams are far from me, and I’m runnin’ out of faith
I see the future I picture slowly fade away
And when the tears of pain and heartache are pouring down my face
I find my peace in Jesus’ name

Chorus (both versions)
In the eye of the storm (Yeah, yeah)
You remain in control (yes you do, Lord)
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me (Your love surrounds me)
In the eye of the storm (in the eye of the storm)

Verse 3 (Album Version)
When the test comes in and the doctor says I’ve only got a few months left
It’s like a bitter pill I’m swallowing; I can barely take a breath
And when addiction steals my baby girl, and there’s nothing I can do
My only hope is to trust You
I trust You, Lord

Verse 3 (Radio Version)
When they let me go and I just don’t know how I”m gonna make ends meet
I did my best, now I’m scared to death that we might lose everything
And when a sickness takes my child away and there’s nothing I can do
My only hope is to trust You
I trust You, Lord

In the eye of the storm (yeah, yeah)
You remain in control
In the middle of the war (middle of the war)
You guard my soul (yeah!)
You alone are the anchor (ooh), when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me (yeah!)
In the eye of the storm

You remain in control (yes you do, Lord)
In the middle of the war (in the middle of the war)
You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor (ooh), when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm

Radio Version Ends Here. 

Album Version extended ending
Oh, in the eye of
Oh, in the eye of the storm
I know You’re watching me, yeah, ay

When the storm is raging (When the storm is raging)
And my hope is gone (And my hope is gone, Lord)
When my flesh is failing, You’re still holding on, oh whoa
When the storm is raging (the storm is raging)
And my hope is gone (and all my hope is gone)
When my flesh is failing (my flesh is failing), You’re still holding on, oooh
When the storm is raging (when the storm is raging)
And my hope is gone (and my hope is gone)
Even when my flesh is failing (flesh is failing), You’re still holding on, holding on

The Lord is my Shepherd
I have all that I need
He lets me rest in green meadows
He leads me beside peaceful streams
He renews my strength
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His Name
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid
For You are close beside me



As I’ve already noted, I generally like this song. It is definitely something I can sing along with to help fight away thoughts of despair and frustration. It is motivational and encouraging, at least on the surface, provided I don’t rely solely upon the thought fragments found in the song and turn to the source and builder of my faith, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Whose very words are found in Scripture. In so much that this song might point me to Scripture, it does well… but it falls short of completing the thought.

Target Audience. While the person being addressed in the lyric of the song, the “you” of the song is intended to be God, the target audience isn’t… the target audience is the hurting, struggling, or disappointed Christian. The goal is to motivate a fellow believer to not give up, and to trust that God is taking care of them no matter what. For the most part, this is a good thing. But, as with nearly all of CCM, there is no accounting for the Law and it is an attempt to preach Gospel apart from it. While many feel like preaching Law to someone who is hurting is just mean, if you skip over the Law you leave no room for proper discussion of repentance or justice. God’s promises of forgiveness, reconciliation, justification, and redemption then become hallow and our sinful flesh jumps at the chance to re-define those terms based on our own emotions, dreams, and desires (theology of glory) rather than on the Law of God which exposes our sinfulness and the Gospel of Jesus Christ who bore the full brunt of the punishment we deserve on the cross (theology of the Cross). A penitent (repentant) believer who is broken down and acknowledge his/her sin doesn’t need more Law preaching at that point, he/she needs to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and know that his/her sins have been forgiven in Jesus’ Name.

The Sovereignty of God. The encouragement found in this song comes in the reminder that no matter the circumstance we find ourselves in, God is in control. Full control. That should be of supreme comfort to those of the household of faith. This comfort is an eternal one. Where the enemy creeps in to shake our faith is in getting us to define this comfort in temporal terms, and our sinful flesh is more-than-willing to support this measure. When Jesus tells us not to be anxious, faith says, “Amen!”… but our flesh jumps in and says, “but I’m hungry, and thirsty, and tired… how can I not be anxious”. God is sovereign… not our flesh.

Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV) | Do Not Be Anxious

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Amen. Has God promised we will always come out of every earthly struggle as temporal winners or ahead? No. His Promise is much bigger than that… for life is more than food and the body more than clothing.

That’s why the second verse is slightly off-mission. God is in charge, not us… not our hopes and dreams… not the future WE have pictured for us.Sufficient for the day is its own trouble, said Jesus. The notion of running out of faith comes from a poor (yet prevalent) understanding of what Faith is. Popular evangelicalism uses the word “faith” often but usually where “zeal” should have been used. Zeal is a measure of emotional impetus… that isn’t what Faith is. Reading through the book of Hebrews and Romans will give the best understanding of what Biblical, Saving Faith, really is. It’s not something we are born with (we are born dead in sins and unrighteosness… faithless) Faith is something God gives us through His Word (Romans 10:17). So then, in the context of this song, we all run out of zeal… we grow weary and tired. When we approach church and Sunday morning services as a charge up my zeal station, we get a lot of hype, maybe loud music, smoke machines, light shows, and 3 basic principles to being a super-influential fully devoted follower of christ… but none of that has substance… it always fails, because it’s all based on the opinions, ideas, visions, and dreams of men. None of that builds faith… though, for a short time it can truly build up a great deal of zeal to “do good works” and “give sacrificially”.

The gathering of the saints isn’t solely to stir up emotional zeal or to take a break from everyday life, we come together to hear the Word of God preached, both Law and Gospel, we come to repent of sin and to be forgiven, and to know that we have already been forgiven in Jesus’ Name.

Hebrews 10:12-25 (ESV)

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”

then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

So, I’m not dismissing the notion of stirring up one another to love and good works (zeal), but it comes AFTER the more important issue of drawing near with faith to repent and be forgiven, sprinkled clean and washed with pure water (remembering our baptism in the Name of Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).

There is rest and comfort available at the cross for all who are weary and heavy-laden. We grow weary in this life because we are still walking cursed flesh, though we have a Promise of New Life in the Resurrection on the Last Day.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

The third verse of this song is gut-wrenching. And in those times we know that this life is temporary and fading away, and we find our strength and peace in the Eternal Promise of our Lord Jesus Christ. For it is not by our strength, or zeal, or determination, but by the Power of God that we are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

I have mixed feelings regarding the closing portion of the Albuv version of the song. It is a summary or paraphrase of Psalm 23… and it seems like they were paraphrasing the New Living Translation. I’m grateful they didn’t give a citation since they weren’t really reading the text. My major problem with these sort of things is that modern-day evangelicals are so painfully Biblically illiterate that I doubt many would even recognize it wasn’t the actual Psalm being read. Let’s look at in the NLT and then the ESV.

Psalm 23 (NLT) | A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3     He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord

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

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

Did the artist mangle the Psalm? No, but memorizing the song (as we tend to do automatically) will not truly lead to memorizing the Psalm… but those who know the song will think of the song when Psalm 23 is read, and our music/art should point to Scripture, not the other way around. That’s my concern, anyway. I’m grateful it didn’t make it into the Radio Version of the song, though some radio stations might play the extended (Album) version from time to time.


I like the song and feel it serves a purpose, particularly in these days where so many Christians are being run ragged by modern-evangelical zeal-machines posing as Churches, preaching law-heavy, theology of glory doctrines without ever rightly dividing Law and Gospel. The song doesn’t make our “Approved” list, because it doesn’t actually convey the Gospel, nor does it stand fully on its own. I still like the song, personally, and I think even with all of the muddled doctrine dominating the CCM airwaves, this song at least can point the listener to a Sovereign God.

Romans 16:24-27(ESV) | Doxology

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen, Indeed.
In Christ Jesus,

Gospel Wednesday | Mark 8

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 7, where we saw Jesus directly rebuked the Pharisees for their false teaching and their misunderstanding of sin and what defiles a man. Jesus declared all foods clean and identified the heart of man as the root of our defilement. We are sinners who sin, not good people who are defiled by what we eat or what touches us.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 8 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 8:1-10 (ESV) | Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them,“How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

Once again, Jesus feeds the crowd miraculously in the wilderness. When we were working through Mark 6 we looked at how the feeding of the multitude served as a testimony of Him as the Messiah, the Son of God. On this occasion, I’d like to focus more on how this points ahead to the New Covenant, particularly communion. We see here Jesus begins by declaring His compassion on the crowd, and that they have been with Him now 3 days. Immediately what comes to mind is John 3:16-17 (ESV), “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 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.” It was because of God’s compassion on us that He gave His Son to die on the cross, bearing the full wrath of our sin, and resurrecting on the third day that we might be saved through Him. 

I love how Jesus then says that if He sends them away without feeding them, they’ll faint on the way. In our modern-day churches, so often the gathering of the saints closes without the congregation being fed the Gospel so that they might not faint on their way home. My Lutheran readers will assume I’m speaking of not taking communion at the end of the service, but that is not all I’m speaking about. Not every Lutheran church partakes of the bread and the cup weekly. For my non-Lutheran readers, I understand that many do not immediately think of communion when I mentioned “being fed the Gospel”… but you might be wondering if I’m suggesting every service should end in an altar-call. I assure, I am not. I’m talking about preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. Our sermons have become quite law-heavy (and not always biblical Law) where our focus in preaching has somehow become fixated on the need to preach the law and give principles or advice in how to better keep the Law. Brothers, we are sinners who are incapable of keeping the Law… therefore, we need to be fed the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the answer to our sin, that we might live and not faint on our way home. The letter of the Law kills, and our sinful flesh needs to be killed by the Law… but that’s not what sustains you on your way home, throughout the week until the next opportunity to hear the Word Preached… it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that gives life, that grants faith, that sustains us in a fallen world. Matthew 4:4 (ESV) …“It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Mark 8:11-13 (ESV) | The Pharisees Demand a Sign

The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

Mark 8:14-21 (ESV) | The Leaven of the Pharisees and Herod

Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

The Pharisees demanded a sign, but it was to test Him, not to Believe in Him. They had already ignored every sign performed testifying of Him. No one seeks after God, no not one. There are no seekers of Truth among the unbelievers, they only lay traps. The disciples are confused at this point, distracted by their own works. They misunderstood Jesus’ teaching regarding the leaven of the Pharisees because they were looking for ways they could have served Christ better, maybe they should have planned ahead for more food. Entirely missing the point Jesus made in the miracle and in the warning of the Pharisees. This was all about Faith in Christ Jesus, not in the works of men. It is Christ who paid the price, Christ who defeated sin, death and the grave, and it is Christ who forgives, regenerates, and sustains the believer. Christ does the work. He does all of the work. His righteousness is imputed to us. He is the bread of Life that sustains us in the wilderness.

Mark 8:22-26 (ESV) | Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida

And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

Mark gives us a narrative account of this particular healing. The only indicative here is the instruction gives to the man, “Do not even enter the village”. I think command was given in similar fashion to His instructions to others “tell no one of this”… only in this case Jesus is telling the man not to even enter the village.

That this account of a gradual healing is related to us between the account of Jesus feeding the crowd and the confession of Jesus as the Christ leads me (personal opinion here) to think on the human condition and our slowness to understand the things of God. Christ regenerates us, opens our ears, grants us Faith, saves us from the death of sin… but we are so slow and hard of heart to understand. We join in Christ’s death in water baptism, but we struggle to leave the flesh behind… we are tempted to feed the desires of the flesh and so sin and are in need of repentance and forgiveness, again. We gather with the saints week after week, to hear the Law of God preached as it exposes our sin and crushes us unto repentance, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ may once again heal us, soothe us, restore us, and grant us Peace. Christ is ever merciful to us, granting us healing and forgiveness… He is Faithful and Just to do so. Lord, in your Mercy, hear our prayer.

Mark 8:27-30 (ESV) | Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

Mark 8:31-38 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Peter had been granted Faith to believe in Jesus as the Christ. Like the man who had been granted sight, Peter didn’t not yet see clearly that the Christ must suffer and die at the hands of evil men, bearing the weight of our sin, becoming sin in our place on the cross, that we might be Saved through Him. Peter’s eyes were opened, but his vision still clouded by his sinful nature. Jesus rebukes his sin, his unbelief, his lack of faith. A tough rebuke, but a necessary one. I thank God for Peter, and the account we have of his growth in the Faith.


Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

Church History | Protestant Lent

churchhistoryYesterday was Ash Wednesday, the day that marks the start of the penitential season of Lent where the Church prepares for Resurrection Sunday in a manner similar to its observance of Advent in preparation for Christmas Day. I was not planning on writing about Lent, but after seeing several posts in social media warning Protestants against celebrating or observing Lent, I thought I’d share some thoughts on the matter.

Is it a Roman Catholic thing?

The research I’ve done traces it back to quadragesima paschae (Latin for “40 days before Easter”) spoken of by the bishops at the Council of Nicea in 325. Most of what came out of the Council of Nicea was confirming doctrine, not creating it. I’m sure we could finder older references to this “40 days before Easter”, but since we don’t consider the Nicene Creed to be only a Roman Catholic thing, I think this historical research should suffice for now. Now, as the core doctrines in Roman Catholicism and Protestantism differ; so, too, do the manner in which the churches observe Lent, even if from the outside they look similar.

Commandment to Observe Lent?

There is none. We are not commanded in Scripture to observe Lent. Failure to observe Lent is not  a sin in and of itself. Being the sinners we are, we can find ways of sinning in everything we do or abstain from, but for the interest of this question, it isn’t a sin to NOT observe lent.

Is it Wrong to Observe Lent?

No, provided it is done in Faith. Please don’t go to a Roman Catholic church to observe Lent. I’d also encourage you not to invent your own version of Lent without first researching Lutheran or Reformed traditions (which ever confessions you hold to) for observing Lent.

Romans 14:4-12 (ESV)

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Pretty straightforward, in fact. Yes, this is a man-made tradition much like celebrating Christmas and Advent. There seem to be just as many pitfalls for abusing Lent as there are with Advent and Christmas. However, there has been a lot of meaningful work put into the Church’s intention for observing Lent and it has served the church well for nearly 2000 years. If you’re looking for reasons NOT to observe Lent, there are plenty of bloggers posting such lists and really they are basically anti-false-piety or anti-Pharisaical guidelines. But here, I’d like to make a couple of counter-points to the naysayers:

  • Lent isn’t a thing unto itself, it’s preparation for Resurrection Sunday. If you’re choosing this season to try to lose weight, or join the Daniel Plan 2.0, or hoping this fast will plant a seed of dominion over a stronghold in your life, or sever a soul tie… you’ve been deceived. Lent isn’t a commandment or a promise from God, it is a season the Church designated for preparing ourselves for the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This isn’t the only way the Church remembers Christ, it is just one way that it does each year. The Believer who rightly understands the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ observes Lent in as a way of preparing for Easter Sunday.
  • The 40 days are a teaching tool, not a Law. This is a great time to teach Christ from as the Passover Lamb, when the LORD delivered the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, through the Red Sea (baptism) and into the wilderness for 40 years before entering the promised land… which dovetails into how Christ, after the baptism of John the Baptist, was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days and resisting the devil. Whether or not you observe Lent by fasting yourselves, this is a season where we can focus on the significance of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ for more than just a few hours on Resurrection Sunday or at an Easter service. This is vital Bible study for growing in the knowledge of Christ. What is really awesome in all of this, is that none of it has to be done on our own, or by our might, indeed none of it can be, but by the Grace of God and His Holy Spirit in us.
  • The focus is repentance, not merit. One doesn’t observe Lent to merit favor, indulgences, forgiveness, honor, recognition, or praise. Being sinners, we err in every good work we attempt when we are tempted by our flesh to seek after these things. The focus is repentance. When we abstain or fast during Lent, we aren’t “giving God” anything, we are humbling ourselves in repentance. When we serve our neighbor in giving of alms or service, we aren’t meriting favor or giving God anything, we are humbling ourselves and loving our neighbor as Christ loved us. As Christians, we understand that this is a year-round commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves, but as sinners we know that there are times we need to really focus on our shortcomings in humility and repent for our sin. This tradition provides a time of the year, every year, when the Body of Christ focuses on the gravity of our sin, the Passion of Christ, and our need for repentance and forgiveness in the Name of Jesus.


I keep reading comments in social media of the effect, “we should be penitent year-round, not just during Lent”. That’s an ad hominem argument, a logical fallacy accusing the observer of false penitence. Many of the protestant churches that observe Lent also practice Confession and Absolution year-round… meaning they in-fact are penitent year-round. A solid pastor preaches Law and Gospel every time the saints are gathered in Jesus’ Name for the building up of the Body of Christ. Lent won’t correct bad theology. Indeed, there are many with bad theology pushing Lent. But for those with a solid, Biblical foundation of Faith, there is much good that can come from observing Lent in preparation for celebration of the Passion and Resurrection of our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. My primary concern in writing this, is that we not be divisive regarding this Church tradition. As always, if you have any further questions feel free to ask in the comment section or contact us directly… but do please also engage your Pastor(s) on these matters. They have been charged with watching over you, and will have to give an Account to the Great Shepherd.

Romans 14:13-23 (ESV) | Do Not Cause Another to Stumble

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Romans 15:1-7 (ESV) | The Example of Christ

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “Guilty” by Newsboys

CCM Radio Edition.

February 09, 2016. Today’s song is “Guilty” by Newsboys which currently sits at #17 on 20theCountdownMagazine‘s top 20 chart.

I was really hoping the “guilty” was going to be a reference to our sin and that the point of the song was to preach Law and Gospel, Repentance and the Forgiveness of sin. I’m rather disappointed in what I found in the lyric. This song is the CCM equivalent to a pie crust promise, “easily made, easily broken” (Mary Poppins quote). It only works in a worldview where being told “you can’t say ‘Jesus’ because of ‘separation of church and state'” amounts to persecution. It doesn’t. Not even close. The song also suffers from a “cool-rebel” motivation for proclaiming the Gospel and Worshiping our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. What a stupid motivation to push. We aren’t motivated by rebellion, we are motivated by the Truth of the Gospel of Grace. Let’s get down to it.

Newsboys – Guilty (Official Music Video)


Lyrics (via Newsboys.com)

Verse 1
When did it become breaking a rule
To say your name out loud in school
When your names the only one that sets us free
When did it become incorrect
To speak the truth about life and death
When your life gave us all eternity

Even if it gets me convicted
I’ll still be on my knees with my hands lifted

If serving you’s against the law of man
If living out my faith in you is banned
Then I’ll stand right before the jury
If saying I believe is out of line
If I’m judged cause I’m gonna give my life
To show the world the love that fills me
Then I want to be Guilty

Verse 2
I’ll rise up and honor you
I’ll testify to all the good you do
cause your Grace and your Mercy have overtaken me



Guilty by association
Guilty of being a voice proclaiming Your ways
Your truth
Your life
I’ll pay the price to be your light.


Let us begin.

Verse 1. When did it become breaking the rule… quite early on, in fact.

Acts 4:13-22 (ESV)

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another,saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

The religious leaders of the day forbade preaching, speaking, and teaching in the name of Jesus despite having such a powerful sign of healing testifying to the Name of Jesus in their midst. So, Biblically, this song is already starting on the wrong foot. At best it is appealing to the American nationalist who believes America to be a Christian nation where the name of Jesus would never be considered illegal to invoke. From that misguided and short-sided perspective, it makes sense. Notice the caveats I had to employ.

Now it seems this song is being written to address “Christian-American Culture” with the first lines of the first verse addressing the current trend of ruling against Christianity in all cases of “1st Amendment Religious Freedoms”. It is worth noting that the only religion consistently being prohibited is Christianity. That’s to be expected since it is the only True religion. If the first couple of lines are regarding “freedom from Christianity laws” the next lines are probably an attempt to address abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide (truth about Life and Death). Society wants to hear nothing about what God’s Word says about life and death. The last line is supposed to connect what is being prohibited is connected to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the promise of forgiveness from sin and the Promise of eternal Life in Jesus Christ. The problem is that the lines don’t bear this out, I’m eisegeting into them my best construction. The other way this can be taken (and I think this way resonates more with its intended audience) is a build-up to rebellion, a pep-rally for cultural revolution… with an Evangelical flavor.

Pre-Chorus. Yep… rebellion is the motivation. Even if it gets me convicted… We haven’t seen anything yet in this country, but it’s coming. But is this the right motivation for sharing the Gospel? Nope. How much are you sharing the Gospel now that it isn’t literally against the law? Historically, the Church grows strong under persecution… but only after it has been culled to a remnant. Remember the parable of the soils? There are some who for a time bear fruit, but when persecution comes they are burned up for their roots are shallow. Others will be distracted by their own desires and are choked up by the weeds. Anyway, my point is that this line is purely motivational pep-rally fluff. The next line doesn’t improve upon it because it is one of those lines you sing where you say you’ll keep doing something that you aren’t currently doing… I’ll still be on my knees with my hands lifted… you may, you may not, but why make it a promise? Why proclaim something if you aren’t doing it, and what does staying on your knees with your hands lifted earn you? What does that do for God? What does it do for the Gospel? The line is an evangelical church-ism, where evangelicals just assume that these outward displays of piety indicate true worship. Jesus isn’t swayed by the external displays of piety…

Luke 18:9-14 (ESV) | The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee,standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Now, in the parable Jesus gives voice to all that is going on in their hearts. There is also a contrast in outward actions, yet, but even if the Pharisee were on his knees with his arms lifted in the air saying the same “prayer” would have yielded him the same results in the parable.

But there is another problem with boldly declaring how you will react should a situation arise of which you have no understanding… you make oaths you cannot hope to keep. You’ll sin, and have to repent of lying to boot. And we don’t need to go to the unbelieving Pharisee to make this point… we can look to the Apostle Peter.

Luke 22:31-34 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

Jesus told him point-blank he was going to fall away, but that He had prayed for Peter so that after he has turned again he might strengthen his brothers. All of them were going to fail, but Jesus assured them that He would bring them back. Peter doesn’t get it and decides to prove his zeal by making lofty claims of what he would do. Friends, you can’t out-zeal the Word of God. Just can’t do it. So don’t do it. Confess the Word, don’t try to one-up it in your misguided zeal.

Chorus. Works. Law. No Gospel. Dear Christian, you do NOT want to be judged by your works. You’ll fail. We all fail. And this gets kinda weird in that it’s somehow making rebelling against an antichrist state is a good work. That’s not what defines a good work. Please, this is a twisting of a sense of rebellion into a zeal for righteousness… but it’s starting in the wrong place. We don’t start by countering the World. The Great Commission isn’t based on the world, it’s based on Jesus Christ.

Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) | The Great Commission

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

There is no mention of whether or not we’ll be arrested, or imprisoned, or convicted by the courts here… nor should there be. The motivation is Christ, not works, not rebellion against the world. That counter-culture stuff comes from theology of glory, a theology of purpose-driven nonsense and of dominionism and it’s 7-mountain fantasy. It’s all rubbish. We preach Christ and Him Crucified because of what He has done for us.

Verse 2. The focus of this verse is the singer. It’s a continuation of the thought at the end of the pre-chorus, through the chorus about all of the great works I’ll do IF the world crosses the line and makes this stuff illegal. /sigh. I’m getting more frustrated by this song by the minute.

BridgeI’ll pay the price to be your light… I can’t even, right now. Tell me, what price will you pay for being Christ’s light, hmmm? With so much self-motivated works driving the lyric in this song, I’m left with no positive way to spin this line in the bridge. It still sounds like Peter defying Christ’s warning concerning his impending falling away and subsequent restoration. Stop boasting in your flesh. Stop trying to editorialize your good works. I mean, who wouldn’t like having a personal narration guy extolling your virtues and magnifying the hardships you’ve had to face and overcome…. by the Grace of God, naturally… and how you had to fight the good fight and blah, blah, blah, look at my good works. Vanity.

John 16:20-33 (ESV)

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.


While one might be able to make an attempt at arguing in favor of the intent of the song, the song doesn’t stand on its own. It starts off on the wrong foot in the very first verse and never recovers. While I attempted to give the first verse its best construction, the rest of the song dives headlong into crushing legalism. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, and even if you did they don’t advance the Gospel in any meaningful way. Preach the Word. Proclaim Christ and Him crucified. Know that we will face persecution, and take comfort in the Words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, “take heart; I have overcome the world“.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “Shout Hosanna” by Passion feat. Kristian Stanfill

Presentation1Evangelical Worship Edition.

Februrary 08, 2016. In this edition we are going to be taking a look at the final song on the top new song list for 2015 found at Worship Together. Today’s song is “Shout Hosanna” by Passion featuring Kristian Stanfill.

This song is better overall than the last few songs we’ve covered on this list. There is still a problem of focus, but at least the lyrics bear the Name of Christ, His work on the Cross, and the forgiveness of sins.

Passion VEVO Lyric Video


Lyrics (via Worship Together)

Verse 1
To the King of glory and light, all praises
To the only Giver of life, our Maker
The gates are open wide; we worship You
Verse 2
Come see what love has done, amazing
He bought us with His blood, our Savior
The Cross has overcome; we worship You
Shout Hosanna Jesus He saves!
Shout Hosanna He rose from the grave!
Come and lift Him up, Hosanna!
Verse 3
Now let the lost be found, forgiven
Death could not hold Him down, He’s risen
So let the saints cry out, we worship You
The same power that rolled the stone away
The same power a-live in us today
King Jesus we call upon Your name,
No other name | 2x |
Writer(s): Brett Younker, Kristian Stanfill, Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash
Theme(s): Adoration & Praise , Call to Worship
Ministry(s): Passion
CCLI #: 7038016
Scripture Reference(s): John 12:13; Matthew 21:9


The cited Scripture References are not bad, but they aren’t great. Let’s look at them.

John 12:13 (ESV) So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out,“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

Matthew 21:9 (ESV) And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting,“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

These verses are plucked from the Triumphal Entry narratives in the Gospel According to John and According to Matthew. Did the crowds understand who Jesus is? No. The words they sang were true, they just didn’t understand what they were saying. They couldn’t understand. These were likely the same folks who would cry out “crucify Him” later. I think this is a misstep here, and I am in no way convinced that this song of praise, a call to worship, was in any way written with the triumphal entry in mind. Although, if it was, I must say it would make this song coming out of Passion ironically appropriate. The call to praise, the words being used are correct, but the ones singing them and the ones being called to join them are completely oblivious to the One they are Praising… and they are praising Him without knowing Him.

Okay, but most of the lyrics in this song are good lyrics.

Verse 1. A call to praise the King of Glory, the Creator (our Maker), and the Giver of Life. Praise the LORD. I am, however, confused by the intended referent of The gates are open wide. What gates? The gates to Jerusalem? The gates to the auditorium? Just an odd line here. It is not uncommon in triumphalism or theology of glory to allegorize the gates of Jerusalem into the doors of the local church… sometimes even pushing to the gates of Heaven, though there are not multiple gates to the Kingdom of Heaven, there only One, that is Jesus Christ.

Verse 2. An invitation to the Gospel, come see what love has done, provided the Gospel is truly preached. The strength of this lyric hinges upon the faithfulness of the local church to preach Law and Gospel. Houses that preach only Law and principles or tips on how to keep the Law better, don’t follow through on this line. At least the next lines in the verse contain Gospel nuggets, Christ bought us by His blood on the Cross, thus becoming our Saviour. By His finished work on the Cross we are forgiven of sin.

Verse 3. Let the lost be found, forgiven. Yes, Praise the LORD for His Mercy and Grace in sending His Son to make a way of Salvation, for forgiveness of sin. However, the Gospel of forgiveness isn’t limited to “the lost being found” and it shouldn’t just be assumed for the saints. Sinner and saint need to hear the Gospel of Forgiveness proclaimed. This is a major problem in modern-day evangelicalism’s soteriology (theology of salvation) in that they think “getting saved” to be the primary goal of the Gospel and once “saved” it is the duty of each Christian to worship God and steadily progress in sanctification and “fulfilling your divine purpose” in this earth. The Gospel is left behind as a “conversion experience” and the rest of their “christian walk” is law-keeping. A plain reading of Galatians will correct such ideology. We never graduate from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, repentance, and the forgiveness of sin while we walk this corrupted earth. Evangelicalism reduces the Gospel to a sort of “reset button” that we choose to push whenever we realize we are in sin. The Gospel of Jesus Christ IS our life. We have nothing apart from the Gospel. The Law kills us, the Gospel gives us faith and Life and forgiveness. The Christian walk requires BOTH Law and Gospel.

Chorus. The chorus is short and sweet. A call to praise Jesus Christ with a shout of Hosanna.

Hosanna [N] [B] [E] [H](save now). “Save, we pray!” the cry of the multitudes as they thronged in our Lords triumphal procession into Jerusalem. ( Matthew 21:9 Matthew 21:15; Mark 11:9 Mark 11:10 ; John 12:13 ) The Psalm from which it was taken, the 118th, was one with which they were familiar from being accustomed to recite the 25th and 26th verses at the feast of tabernacles, forming a part of the great hallel. Ps. 113-118.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave’s Topical Bible
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton’s Bible Dictionary
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock’s Bible Names


Bridge. I think the bridge is a departure from the rest of the song. It’s like an off-ramp taking focus away from Praising Jesus Christ our Lord and directing it more on the Power of God living in us. It falls short of identifying God the Holy Spirit and sort of sits in that odd treatment of Him as a force or source of power rather than the third Person of the Trinity. I find it unsettling, personally. I had the same issue with Jeremy Camp’s song, “Same Power”. For those churches with solid doctrinal foundations, this bridge is probably not a big deal, but for the vast majority of the visible church that is awash in triumphalism and theology of glory, prosperity, and Presence… this bridge can distract from the song’s stated goal of calling us to Worship the Triune God.


I think this is one of the better songs on this 2015 list, though it doesn’t quite earn our approval because the Gospel isn’t quite clear. It’s a bit blurred in this song. There are indeed several Gospel nuggets, but the song doesn’t explain anything. Then there is the dubious citation of the Triumphal entry. I’m convinced the “citations” on these songs are the results of shallow word-searches rather than expressions of what is being taught by the writers of these songs.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

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.

In Christ Jesus,