Farewell 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, I want to thank everyone who has supported this work and shared it with friends. This year was tough for me, vocationally, and 2019 looks to be just as tough if not more so. I humbly ask for your prayers in this regard. I also ask for continued patience for new material on the site.
Presentation1I regret not being able to produce much in the way of new DiM work in 2018. I recognize this has created a gap in coverage of Top20 CCM analysis, my hope is that the DiM work will serve as a motivation for more active discernment within the Body of Christ regarding the lyrical content of popular “Christian” music. I’ll continue to try to keep the DiM Archive going to catalog what we’ve seen in CCM and to try to assess where the industry is going in the future. It is my hope that more Christians will take up this work and discussing it with their congregations, friends, and families. It’s important biblical discernment work.

 

I also wanted to do a lot more CTT work in 2018, but I was unable to follow through with that desire. I don’t know if 2019 will allow me more time to work on these posts, but I do have a couple of series I’m working on and hope to have published in 2019. I’m planning on working through the various doctrines I had to let go of as God the Holy Spirit led me out of the deception of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). I also want to take some time laying out how I was drawn from Pentecostalism to the Lutheran Confessions. It was by no means a quick or smooth transition.
I have other projects I’d like to pick up but they’ll likely have to wait until after 2019, the LORD willing. In closing, I’d like to offer up a prayer from the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 1:2-23 (ESV)

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

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christas a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “I Have This Hope” by Tenth Avenue North

Presentation1CCM Edition.

February 7, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “I have this hope” by Tenth Avenue North which currently sits at #18 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

This song asks some real questions. Questions every Christian has regardless of their willingness to actually voice them. What the song is lacking is a clear answer to the question. The singer seems to be answering the question for himself, but he isn’t really sharing that answer with the listener. The song leaves a lot of room for bad theology to find a home in these lyrics, but with a clear reference to scripture, I think this song can be given a good construction. This one falls in the middle-ground, where the listener needs to exercise discernment and apply sound theology to the song.

Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via Band Website)

As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain
Did I cry these tears in vain
I don’t wanna live in fear
I wanna trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy

chorus
I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go

But sometimes my faith feels thin
Like the night will never end
Will You catch every tear
Or will You just leave me here

So whatever happens, I will not be afraid
‘Cause You are closer than this breath that I take
You calm the storm when I hear You call my name
I still believe that one day I’ll see Your face

In the flood or the fire
You are with me and You won’t let go
In the flood or the fire
You are with me and You won’t let go

Discussion

That first verse is an honest question we’ve all asked. It’s not a good place to stay for very long, but these are questions we should take back to God’s Word regularly. I take issue with what reads as an inward focus, looking for assurance of God’s Promises within ourselves, in our emotions. In that second verse, it pops up with the “sometimes my faith feels thin”. Well, that’s because you’ve confused “faith” and “emotion”. We all do it. Every one of us is bent inwardly, staring at our own navels, wishing we felt better about ourselves and about the world around us. Piously we phrase it as “wanting to love God more”, but continuing to look inwardly for hope is a futile exercise. Our Hope is in Christ. When our flesh is weak, our zeal drained, our emotions taxed, and our assurance shaken… the very last place we should be looking is “within ourselves”. We should be looking to the external Word of God.

So, where do we look for comfort in the hurting times? Well, let’s see what the Apostles had to say in such times.

1 Peter 1:3-12 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope

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

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

This is the Hope that is being presented as the answer to the questions in that first verse of the song. Let’s look also at what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans.

Romans 5:1-11 (ESV) | Peace with God Through Faith

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

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

That’s such wonderful language. Through our LORD Jesus Christ, we have no received reconciliation with God. He is not far away from us, He is near us and with us, for we have been baptized into Christ.

Conclusion

In Christ, we have the answer to all of life’s struggles, we have Law and Gospel. We need to hear it often, for we are in need of repentance and the forgiveness of sins often. CCM should be sharing the clear, external Word of God. We should be honestly asking the same sorts of questions the world asks… but unlike them, we have God’s clear Word as the remedy, we have the answers.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) | Benediction

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,
Jorge

CTT | Trey Pearson and CCM

Last week, I saw the following headline from theBlaze pop up on my Facebook feed:

Christian Rocker Comes Out as Gay:
‘I’ve Tried My Whole Life to Be Straight’

Naturally, I was curious as to who this “Christian Rocker” was and wanted to know how the CCM Industry would spin it. After some searching, I realized that this poor young man’s crisis of faith had already published previously, and the community should have picked up on several warning signs. What we have here isn’t a sound Christian suddenly performing a 180º turn, merely the revealing of an unbeliever’s unrepentance.  Today, I want to focus your attention more on the Contemporary “Christian” Music (CCM) industry than on the man, Trey Pearson and his rebellion.

That article from the Blaze is mostly a rehash of the original interview posted here. The interview’s title is “A Modern Gospel”, but it isn’t a modern gospel, it’s a false one. Some heartbreaking quotes:

…“I’m gay, and one of the only people who knows is my wife.”…

…“Most of us reach at least one pivotal moment in our lives that better defines who we are. These last several months have been the hardest—but also have ended up being the most freeing months—of my life. To make an extremely long story short, I have come to be able to admit to myself, and to my family, that I am gay.”…

…“There is a weight that has been lifted, and I have never felt so free. I cannot even believe the joy and lightness I feel from being able to accept myself, and love myself, for who I truly am … but I have also lost some of the closest people in my life. I have felt betrayal by people I loved a lot, and cared so much about.”…

…“I’m starting over in so many ways. It is freeing, but it’s also starting out lonely”…

In the article, we see Trey fully fixated on himself while taking shots at Christians for not treating him the way he thinks he should be treated. Really, Trey? You’re leaving your wife. Your wife is no longer your wife, you’ve made her out to be merely part of what you’ve now decided isn’t the real you. Rather than resist sin, you’ve decided to identify by it, and expect others to accept your sin as something that should be embraced, celebrated, and even loved. The “joy and lightness” you’re describing now is no more substantial than the adrenaline high most get from doing something they know is wrong. This isn’t freedom, it is bondage to sin. This hedonistic gospel is no gospel at all. There is no life in it, only death. Let’s turn quickly to Paul’s comments regarding sin in his letter to the Romans, a rather hedonistic society in its day even by modern standards.

Romans 6:15-23 (ESV) | Slaves to Righteousness

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So you see, Paul points out the hard truth of the so-called “freedom” trey is currently experiencing… it’s a freedom in regards to righteousness, meaning that giving yourself over into slavery of sin is to rid yourself of all righteousness. We have no righteousness of our own, so we must become slaves to righteousness by faith in the Righteous One, Our LORD Jesus Christ. In denying the Law of God (specifically that sexual immorality is sin), he’s cut himself off from the very Gospel of God, forgiveness from the sin he refuses to acknowledge as sin. What we see here is a man who is still firmly planted in Romans 1.

Romans 1:18-32 (ESV) | God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Which leads us to the focus of this discussion here. Yes, Trey is in unbelief and I pray the Holy Spirit open his eyes to the Truth, that Trey’s hardened heart and stiffened neck against the Truth of God be softened. But Trey has a platform that the CCM Industry has built for him, and that our godless society is capitalizing on. Check out this troubling segment of the View.

A wife and two children, and all he can think about is himself and his passions. He put all of his faith into his ability to “be something he wasn’t”. Folks, that isn’t the Gospel. The Object of saving faith is NOT our ability to uphold the Law. The Object of our faith is Christ Jesus.

I will concede one point… in part. If the visible church keeps preaching sanctification as a choice we make, it’s teaching the wrong thing. The Law clearly pronounces homosexuality as sin. Abominable sin. As sinful human being, sinless perfection is outside of our reach and beyond our strength to attain in this life on our own. Repentance is a daily act of faith, not a one-time contract that relies on your sanctified perfection to maintain. We must encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with same-sex attraction to continue bearing the fruit of repentance, just as we who struggle with heterosexually immoral temptations need to. Your secret addition to pornography is no less abominable than their same-sex attraction, in the eyes of God they are both sexual immorality, sexual sin, on par with Idolatry, and punishable by death. And they are both covered, paid in full, by the Perfect atoning sacrifice of our LORD Jesus Christ on the cross. Repent, and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name. Take up your cross, die to self, and follow Christ daily. There will come a day when at last we will be free of this sinful, fallen flesh, and we will be given new bodies in the Resurrection. Until then, the righteous live by Faith, not by their own works.

The CCM Problem

As I mentioned earlier, I found an older article from 2013 (Sojourners link) that should have raised several warning flags concerning Trey Pearson and the CCM Industry. That it didn’t indicates that the majority of the Visible church is sleeping or flat-out derelict in their duty to preach sound doctrine and to hold CCM (and themselves) accountable. If you have some time, read through the interview… it is quite telling of the problems within the CCM Industry and with Trey’s theology. These issues, even if Trey can’t speak for the entire industry perfectly, are clearly driving forces behind why so many of our DiM posts end up in disapprovals and warnings. The industry is deeply flawed, and the Church is blindly eating it all up. Let’s look at some of the more damning quotes in the SOJO article:

SOJO: What about the industry surprised you?

Trey: I have been in the industry for 11 years full time, so that’s a bit of a loaded question! I was pretty naive coming into the industry. I assumed everyone there was just trying to make great art, to glorify God. But it was more than that. I thought that what these musicians were doing was somehow sacred, distinct from the “secular” music that other artists were producing. That is what I had been taught as a teenager, by people that were really influential in my life.

I didn’t realize how much the industry was geared toward soccer moms, who support Christian radio. I didn’t realize how many people in the industry had really different views on what it meant to follow God, or just flat out didn’t seem to care. The Christian music industry has the same struggles with drugs, sex and power as the secular music business.  [emphasis mine]

The Christian Radio stations are inextricably linked to the Industry machine. Don’t be fooled. Don’t be lulled into the lie that they are simply dealing with the hand they are dealt from the recording studios. It matters who they target with their marketing for “business partners”, it matters that they claim to proclaim the Gospel while promoting and playing mostly ear-tickling pablum. Trey goes on to lament the art that is lacking in the CCM Industry.

The formula of CCM started with them knowing how to sell to the adult contemporary (AC) format. About a decade ago, worship music became really popular, and it has pretty much melded with that AC format. There are some slight differences at times, but it is all geared to be cool enough to make a soccer mom think that it’s edgy, and yet not be too controversial. What is intriguing to me is that you will almost never find someone making art in the rest of the music industry, trying to become an “adult contemporary” artist. You will see Top 40 [pop artists] cross over some of their songs to AC, but all the artists at the top of those mainstream AC charts right now are Rihanna, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, and Justin Timberlake. That’s a far cry from an industry that pushes young people into trying to make Christian AC music, that never ends up being about the art, but just fitting in the right formulaic words like “grace,” “saved,” “Jesus,” and trust me, they have them. And it never leads to good art. No offense to the artists that are ruling Christian music, but it’s just not at the peak of the creative music spectrum…

…Generally, only messages of certainty and positivity are promoted and accepted within Christian AC and worship music communities. It is next to impossible to create art that has transparency and honesty, expressing doubt, and vulnerability. You can see those things all throughout Scripture, but the system in place to sell albums has a very narrow view of belief that they want to promote to their consumers.

So, in these answers we are starting to see more of Trey’s theology, but we are also seeing that the CCM formula is centered on entertaining the Adult Contemporary market rather than on sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The standard isn’t God’s Word, it’s what they think they can get away with to be comfortably edgy and at least nominally orthodox (using the formulaic words he cited). Seriously though, Trey just included the Name that is above all Names in his list of “formulaic words” as a bad thing because it hinders art.

Do you see Trey’s theology emerging a bit here? Might you be inclined to guess at who he’s been listening to, and learning from? Any chance it’s a faithful exegete?

SOJO: Talk about the authors and others who started opening your eyes to other ways of thinking about God.

Trey: The biggest influence that made an impact on making me rethink the sacred vs. secular divide, and on understanding that everything is spiritual, was Rob Bell. He helped me realize again that everything that is good is from God. I stopped believing in Christian music or Christian events or anything else described as a “Christian” that didn’t seem intent on following Jesus.

I’m all for a group of Christians coming together to try to make an impact in people’s lives for the Kingdom of God. I just believe there are better ways to go about it. If you believe that everything that is good is from God, it starts to really change your perspective on how all of this works. Rob was sort of a gateway for me to other authors that have had huge impacts on me like Dallas Willard, N.T. Wright, Jurgen Moltmann, Walter Brueggemann, and many more. [emphasis mine]

There is a reason we call out these false teachers. There is a reason we need the ministries of Pirate Christian Radio, the Pulpit and Pen, the Berean Research, Wretched Radio, et al. The visible church is derelect in its duty to exercise Biblical Discernment, to mark false teachers, and guard the flock against the wolves.

Conclusion

I pray the LORD soften Trey’s heart and grant him saving faith and repentance. I pray for his wife and children, for that they might find Faith, Hope, and Restoration in Christ alone. I pray that the Church wake up and start taking their charge to keep the Faith, to keep the Word of God. Dear Christian, do the work of a Berean. Examine your doctrine with an open Bible, to see if it is good. Ensure that your local church faithfully preaches the Word of God, both Law and Gospel unapologetically. Exercise Biblical discernment in what you are listening to, purchasing online, and reading.. particularly those things that claim to be “Christian”. Hold your local CCM Radio stations accountable. They raise funds claiming to be a Christian ministry… is it true? Do they proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ? or are they merely an entertainment platform for a CCM industry looking to make a buck.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV) | Preach the Word

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Live On Forever” by The Afters

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

January 12, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Live On Forever” by The Afters which currently sits at #16 on the 20theCountdownMagazine top 20 chart.

Today we get back to working through our original context for DiM, that of the casual listener playing CCM radio in their home, work, or vehicle. Today’s song was a bit of a disappointment, I was hoping we could get an “approved” song before we start having to “disapprove” songs for 2016, but this one simply couldn’t be avoided. There is nothing in this song that is particularly Christian in any way. Christianity is not the only religion that holds to an after life, or a heaven. It’s an eerily spiritual/mystical song with a gnostic feel to the lyric. I don’t like it, and I’m concerned that it is on the top 20 chart.

The Afters VEVO Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Live On Forever

Dark days are gonna go away
They won’t have the final say
These bones were always gonna fade
Cause we were made for another place
The moment of our final breath
When all our fears are put to rest
Every tear will disappear
Heaven is real

We’re gonna live on forever
Forever
Forever
We’re gonna live on forever
Forever
Forever
We are not where we belong
We have a hope that we’re going live on
Forever
Forever
Forever

Breathing air we have never breathed
We’ll see colors we’ve never seen
Every sound like a symphony
Rising up as the angels sing
The arms of grace are open wide
The face of love before our eyes
Where every tear will disappear
Heaven is real

Our hearts have been set in motion
For something more, for something more
Than we could ever imagine
There’s so much more, there’s so much more

Publishing: The Secret Parade / Simply Complex Songs / Songs From The Indigo Room (SESAC); Nashvistaville Songs / Light The Night / Songs of the Casbah (BMI); Vistaville Music / Bad Nacho Music / Music from the Casbah (ASCAP); Sony/ATV Timber Publishing / Open Hands  Music (SESAC)
Writer(s): Josh Havens; Matt Fuqua; Jordan Mohilowski; Dan Ostebo; Jason Ingram

Discussion

There is no mention whatsoever of Law and Gospel, Sin and Grace, Repentance or the Forgiveness of Sin.  There is no mention of God the Father, God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit. The song simply tells the listener he/she will live forever… which is true… but it doesn’t say why, doesn’t indicate there are 2 options, eternal Life or eternal punishment, and doesn’t in any way point to the Gospel of Jesus Christ… not even in part.

Verse 1. So, yes, Heaven is real. So is Hell. It is true that everyone will die, and then comes the Judgement.

Hebrews 9:22-28 (ESV)

22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. 23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

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

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

The first verse is odd and empty. For those without Faith, death will not put to rest their fears, they will become unfathomably increased for they will be judged without the LORD Jesus Christ as their advocate, their covering, their Savior.

Chorus. There is nothing of value here. These are half-thoughts repeated in a bit of a chant. Again, not being where we belong is too vague to be a truth. Unbelievers are born into this world under common grace, so that they might hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, come to Faith and be born-again. At birth, we are dead in sins and trespasses, we “belong” to be judged, but God’s grace delays the judgement and He grants Grace upon grace in opening our eyes and ears to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, washing away our sins, and creating in us a new creature, an adopted child of God. The saints of God, those who are of the household of Faith, do not belong to the world, are not OF the world, this world is not our home, but God has us here by His Will, for His purposes, and for His Glory. Christianity is not spiritual escapism from an ugly temporal existence.

Verse 2. While some of this imagery might hold true if it were connected to the Gospel, as it stands here it is whip cream piled on a plate with no dessert on it. Just whipped cream… no pie, no cake, no fruit, nothing. This imagery is sugary fluff. Nothing more.

Bridge. Melodically interesting change, still utterly lacking in substance. It’s not like being born again is like we’re a wind-up toy being released into a completely foreign world to figure things out on our own. Such nonsense. We are awakened to new life IN CHRIST. It’s not some blank-check “so much more that we can never fathom”… we are brought to life IN CHRIST, to grow IN CHRIST, to be the Body OF CHRIST, the Church.

Conclusion

I won’t listen to this song. I’d rather go channel surfing or turn off the radio to listen to the road noise in my ’02 Elantra. Careful, now… don’t covet my awesome ride, lol. It grieves me that this song is on the top 20 charts… it truly does. Sure, if you like the song it’s because you’ve poured in your own meaning for the song and are somehow encouraged by it. How long does such effort last? The song, on its own, has no value.

Romans 16:24-27 (ESV) | Doxology

25 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 26 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— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | Expanding the Concept for 2016

trebleclefIn reviewing the blog stats, feedback we’ve received throughout 2015, and the limited polling we did over the Christmas break, it was abundantly clear that we need to focus more on expanding our Discernment in Music (DiM) coverage. The problem of poor theology in music is far bigger than what we can cover in our small blog, but we can try to do more by God’s Grace. We will be expanding in two directions, first we will be looking to address Evangelical Worship Songs… songs that are being heavily marketed to church worship leaders for inclusion in their services. We’ll also be shifting our attention over to what is being purchased on iTunes, since this has become the predominant metric for music popularity and penetration.

Evangelical Worship Songs

For now, we’ll be dedicating our Thursday posts to DiM work reviewing the most popular/promoted Evangelical Worship Songs. Our primary source for song selection will be WorshipTogether.com. They have been in the business for a very long time… since I was a keyboardist in the praise and worship band of an NAR church. They are partnered with CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International), Hillsong, Passion, and Jesus Culture. What a winning collection of questionable theology we have driving the evangelical music-for-contemporary-church-worship train, eh? If you search through the page, you’ll find that this is likely a go-to site for every “contemporary worship service” leader in the country… regardless of denomination.

In doing some preliminary research for today’s post, I was worried that I would be starting completely fresh. I’m not sure why, but the fear was there. I found a top new songs for 2015 list on the website, and to my surprise, we have already covered one of the songs on the list, and at least two others I saw pop up on the top 20 charts last month. I didn’t realize churches were playing so many CCM Radio songs in their church services. Let’s look at the list from 2015:

Touch The Sky (DiM Post)
Good Good Father (DiM Post)
O Praise The Name (Anastasis) (DiM Post)
He Shall Reign Forevermore (DiM Post)
This Is Living (DiM worship edition) (DiM CCM edition)
It Is Well With My Soul (DiM Post)
One Thing (DiM Post)
Unbroken Praise (DiM Post)
Heart Like Heaven (DiM Post)
Shout Hosanna (DiM Post)

What this means for our DiM posts is that for the most part very little will change in our format for covering these songs. I will need to be more explicit in the evaluation of these songs within the context of corporate worship, so I’ll have to work out how we go about that. We will work through chart over the next week in an attempt to play a bit of “catch-up” on the new year and to work out how we might distinguish the corporate worship context to that of individual listening that has been our paradigm.

iTunes Top 100 Gospel & Christian Songs

The other area in which we’d like to expand is that of the top iTunes songs being purchased and downloaded. This is the metric that drives the industry because this connects the questionable theology to real dollars for the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) Industry. There will undoubtedly be some overlap between what is the most popular music on the radio and the most played music in “contemporary worship services”, but keeping an eye on these charts is important for understanding not only what “those who should know better” are pushing onto the public, but for seeing what the public has bought into, both literally and figuratively. This approach will also expose us to cross-musical-genre metrics that we don’t get when we track pop station lists alone. We won’t be going to iTunes directly, we’ll be using a site called popvortex for their Top 100 Gospel & Christian Songs chart. Let’s take a look at the top 40 songs on the list to see how much of it we’ve covered thus far:

1. Good Good Father – Chris Tomlin (DiM Post)
Release Date: October 2, 2015

2. The River – Jordan Feliz (DiM Post)
Release Date: October 2, 2015

3. Just Be Held – Casting Crowns (DiM Post)
Release Date: January 24, 2014

4. How Can It Be – Lauren Daigle (DiM Post)
Release Date: April 14, 2015

5. First – Lauren Daigle (DiM Post)
Release Date: April 14, 2015

6. This Is Amazing Grace – Phil Wickham
Release Date: September 24, 2013

7. Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) – Hillsong UNITED (DiM Post)
Release Date: February 26, 2013

8. Holy Spirit – Francesca Battistelli (DiM Post)
Release Date: April 22, 2014

9. Trust In You – Lauren Daigle
Release Date: April 14, 2015

10. Same Power – Jeremy Camp (DiM Post)
Release Date: February 3, 2015

11. My Story – Big Daddy Weave (DiM Post)
Release Date: September 18, 2015

12. Alone (feat. TRU) – Hollyn (DiM Post)
Release Date: October 16, 2015

13. Flawless – MercyMe (DiM Post)
Release Date: April 8, 2014

14. Touch the Sky – Hillsong UNITED (DiM Post)
Release Date: May 26, 2015

15. Come As You Are – Crowder (DiM Post)
Release Date: May 27, 2014

16. Tell Your Heart to Beat Again – Danny Gokey
Release Date: June 23, 2014

17. Fix My Eyes – for KING & COUNTRY (DiM Post)
Release Date: September 16, 2014

18. Wanna Be Happy? – Kirk Franklin (DiM Post)
Release Date: November 13, 2015

19. He Knows My Name – Francesca Battistelli (DiM Post)
Release Date: April 22, 2014

20. We Believe – Newsboys (DiM Post)
Release Date: May 27, 2014

21. Lift Your Head Weary Sinner (Chains) – Crowder (DiM Post)
Release Date: May 27, 2014

22. Feel It (feat. Mr. Talkbox) – tobyMac (DiM Post)
Release Date: August 7, 2015

23. No Longer Slaves (Live) – Bethel Music, Jonathan David & Melissa Helser
Release Date: January 26, 2015

24. I Can Only Imagine – MercyMe
Release Date: December 31, 2000

25. Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) – Hillsong UNITED (DiM Post)
Release Date: September 10, 2013

26. Salvation’s Tide (feat. Kristian Stanfill) – Passion
Release Date: January 1, 2016

27. Soul On Fire (feat. All Sons & Daughters) – Third Day (DiM Post)
Release Date: February 27, 2015

28. 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) [Live] – Matt Redman
Release Date: December 31, 2010

29. Redeemed – Big Daddy Weave
Release Date: April 17, 2012

30. Guilty – Newsboys
Release Date: September 25, 2015

31. Grace Wins – Matthew West (DiM Post)
Release Date: April 28, 2015

32. Live On Forever – The Afters
Release Date: August 28, 2015

33. At the Cross (Love Ran Red) – Chris Tomlin (DiM Post)
Release Date: October 27, 2014

34. Even So Come (feat. Kristian Stanfill) [Radio Version/Live] – Passion (DiM Post)
Release Date: April 28, 2015

35. Call It Grace – Unspoken
Release Date: April 1, 2014

36. It’s Not Over Yet – for KING & COUNTRY
Release Date: September 16, 2014

37. Worth (Full Version) – Anthony Brown & group therAPy (DiM Post)
Genre: Gospel

38. God’s Not Dead (Like a Lion) – Newsboys
Release Date: November 11, 2011

39. Greater – MercyMe (DiM Post)
Release Date: April 8, 2014

40. Broken Together – Casting Crowns (DiM Post)
Release Date: January 24, 2014

Conclusion

Looking back, we’ve covered a lot of ground… but as I look ahead I see there is a lot more work left to be done. It is my sincere prayer that this work will be a blessing to the Body of Christ, not in simply following our recommendations here, but in employing the methodologies demonstrated. Practicing biblical discernment in reviewing a song you already love is probably the most difficult thing to do fairly. I don’t recommend starting there. It is best to start with an unfamiliar song by an unfamiliar artist. Listen to the song, then read the words, then listen while reading the words and then open up your bible to see if what the song says falls inline with what is written in Scripture. Pray for us as we look to focus our efforts more on the DiM work here at FaithfulStewardship. As I indicated before, we’ll be posting updates as they are completed, and we’ll probably need to update the DiM Archive page and Resources page as well.

Romans 15:8-13 (ESV) | Christ the Hope of Jews and Gentiles

For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
    and sing to your name.”

10 And again it is said,

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

11 And again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
    and let all the peoples extol him.”

12 And again Isaiah says,

“The root of Jesse will come,
    even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge