DiM | “Be One” by Natalie Grant

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

December 01, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Be One” by Natalie Grant which currently sits at #15 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

While we kept this song in the “middle ground” today, it could just as easily have earned a disapproval. The Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) Industry is very excited about Natalie Grant’s new album. Releasing this single just before the Christmas season is a smart marketing move. She’s been on morning talk shows and performed this first single a few times on TV (I saw the one on Fox and Friends). It’s a Law-heavy song urging the listener to good works. For any good to come from this song, we must do the work of reminding ourselves and others of the Gospel and Christ’s work in us that produces good works the song is calling for, and we also need to address some of the wording. I simply ask you , the reader/listener, to do the work of a Berean in this case and decide for yourselves.

Natlie Grant Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Be One

We don’t feel ready, we don’t feel steady
Question what we really have to give

Stay where it’s safer, claim faith but waiver
Is this how we’re really meant to live

We pray but never move
We say but never do

(chorus)
It’s time to get our hands dirty
oh oh, oh oh
Be love – there’s a whole lot of hurting
oh oh, oh oh
Calling all hearts, Calling all hands
Calling all feet to take a stand
Why sit around and wait for a miracle to come
When we can be one, When we can be one , When we can be one

A little somethin’ might feel like nothin’
But in His hands it’s all we’ll ever need

To speak life to the broken
Watch the blind eyes open
It’s who He’s calling you and me to be

We can be the change – be the hope
We can be the arms that don’t let go
We can be a light in the dark
We are we are where it starts

(chorus)

We can be the light in the dark
We can be the arms that don’t let go

Publishing: © 2015 SeeSeeBubba Songs (SESAC) (admin. by Music Services)/ Maxx Melodies (SESAC)/BMG Platinum Songs (BMI)/Takin It To The Maxx (BMI) All Rights Administered By BMG Rights Management (US) LLC/ WB Music Corp./ Thankful for This Music (ASCAP) All rights admin. by WB Music Corp. (ASCAP) All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Writer(s): Natalie Grant / Sam Mizell / Becca Mizell / Emily Weisband

Discussion

The resounding theme of this song is be a miracle for someone else. Let’s start today’s discussion by first acknowledging the ways this song can be good. Our first challenge will be to reshape the notion of “being a miracle for someone else” into something more Biblically sound. Let’s look at how Jesus summarized the Law.

Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV)

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

So, the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. This song is an attempt to call the listener to keep this commandment, to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is a good call, for it is Lawful. It is indeed a good work to love our neighbor as ourselves… the only problem is that we fail this commandment continuously. For this song to have stood on its own, it needed a clear reminder of the greatest commandment and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Okay, so we’ll address some problems in the target audience of this song in a minute, but for now let’s assume the intended audience is professing Christians. One could connect the thrust of this song to the Epistle of James.

James 1:16-27 (ESV) | Hearing and Doing the Word

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James 2:1-17 (ESV) | The Sin of Partiality

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Faith Without Works Is Dead

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Now we need to address where the song falls short. Notice that the focus of Jame’s writing is on the faith of the reader. Is James talking about creating a cascade of miracles throughout society? No. He’s saying that a genuine faith will produce works… the faith will produce works. If it doesn’t, whatever faith is being claimed is a dead one. The core of the problem of a lack of works isn’t effort, it’s faith. James rebukes the sin of showing partiality within the body of Christ, and then he makes the case that a genuine, saving faith will produce good works. James goes on to warn us to control our tongues and to avoid worldliness. He doesn’t come back around to any notion of being a miracle for other people in order to shore up your faith… because that would be works-based righteousness, which is NOT in keeping with the Gospel of Grace.

The biggest problem with this song is that anyone could meet the call of the song (on occasion) without having any positive impact on their faith or in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every false religion teaches a works-based righteousness, and most of them push something akin to the good works being promoted in this song… the idea of being the miracle for someone else. Even atheist humanism preaches this sort of good work, while denouncing those who sit around and wait for a miracle to come. This song isn’t pointing to God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, it is pointing to the listener saying “be a miracle”… “do something good”. Frankly, I debated disapproving the song because of this… and my only rational for not doing it is because I could see the attempt at echoing the Epistle of James in the song, though it didn’t quite make it.

Another problem with this song is the odd call to be a miracle for someone else. God isn’t calling you to be a miracle, but to be a neighbor. The idea of being a miracle is doing something out of the ordinary, something supernatural, but that simply isn’t our charge nor calling. We are called to be set apart by the Spirit of God, and to love and forgiven our neighbors as Christ first loved and forgave us. I’m so sick of the purpose-driven, prosperity drivel that denigrates everyday living and serving our neighbors in our mundane jobs as something “less than”… God’s word tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, not “be their savior”. You don’t have to be a super star, or do something really big… love your neighbor as yourself. Sure, there are times when God places a need before us that calls for something big, but His desire is that we love our neighbor in between those big events, too. Instead of waiting for an opportunity to give your neighbor a car or a kidney… begin by extending grace, a word of comfort, and encouragement, or forgiveness. Our good works must point others to the Grace of God… for the moment it points to ourselves it ceases being a good work.

Conclusion

Dear Christian, you were called to repentance and forgiveness by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. He loved you, He lived a perfect life where you could not, He gave His Life to pay the price for you that you couldn’t pay, and He rose again so that in Him you might have everlasting Life. It’s Christ’s work for you and in you and through you. Place your faith and trust in Him, and love others as you have been loved by Him, forgive others as you have been forgiven by Him. God isn’t asking you to be a miracle for someone else, He’s asking you to share the good news of the miracle of Salvation with your neighbor… preach the Gospel, love your neighbor, repent and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) | By Grace Through Faith

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

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