DiM | 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman

Presentation1CCM/COWO Edition.

January 10, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman which currently sits at #2 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

The new year brings with it a full reset of the top 20 chart. Most of the songs currently on the chart are technically evangelical worship songs or contemporary worship (COWO) songs.

Today’s song was my favorite song from my old life of evangelicalism and NAR deception. I still catch myself humming this tune from time to time, and honestly I’ve been hoping this song wouldn’t pop up on the top 20 so I wouldn’t have to review it in light of Scripture. However, as it is now on the top 20 chart–review it, we shall! The song doesn’t stand on its own, but it can be good with a little bit biblical instruction. Let’s give the song a listen and then read through the lyric.

MattRedmanVEVO

Lyrics (via K-Love)

(Chorus)
Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Chorus

You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Chorus

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

(Chorus x2)

Jesus, I’ll worship Your holy name
Lord, I’ll worship Your holy name

Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
Jesus, I’ll worship Your holy name
I’ll worship Your holy name

Discussion

The point of the song is to remind/encourage the listener to “bless the LORD, oh my soul”. This phrase needs some explanation to keep the listener clear of mysticism. For starters, let’s talk briefly about what it means to refer to one’s soul.

Oh my soul. To put it simply, your soul is your core being. For centuries theologians have debated whether we are made of 3 parts (mind, body/heart, soul) or 2 parts (body, soul/spirit) but however you decide to slice this, know that when Scripture speaks of the soul it is in reference to the core of a person. When Isaac was nearing death, he sent Esau out to prepare him his final meal so that his soul might bless Esau before he dies (Genesis 27:1-4 ESV). Such wording is to signify to Esau the seriousness of the matter. The opposite notion might be to give a blessing of lip-service only, or flattery. But no, Isaac was going to offer his best blessing to Esau. So when Esau learned that the blessing had been given to Jacob, we see Isaac’s response:

Genesis 27:33-38 (ESV) Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.

So this is the seriousness with which we see the reference to blessing from our souls in Scripture. Of ourselves, we have very little blessing to bestow upon others… what we have we have received from the LORD. Isaac’s blessing is the Promise of God to his father, Abraham, that promise being the Messiah, the Christ, the Gospel of Salvation. Now, let’s talk about what the phrase “bless the LORD” indicates in Scripture.

Bless the LORD. Most often when we see this phrase throughout the old testament it is within the context of offering to the LORD praise and thanksgiving for what He has done. There is also a meaning of bending the knee to God in worship (בָּרַךְ Strongs H1288). Under the Mosaic covenant, there were offerings and sacrifices to be brought to the Temple in keeping with the Law. Such things might be done in an empty manner, but Blessing the LORD from the soul reflects the Greatest Commandment:

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.”

In the New Covenant of Christ’s Blood, we have nothing to offer Him but thanksgiving and praise for what Christ has done for us. We bring nothing to our Salvation but the sin that made Salvation necessary. So, while the phrase “bless the LORD” appears in the Old Testament, we need to approach it through the lens of the New Testament, Christ revealed. A good place to look is in the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 12:18-29 (ESV) A Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

So, the refrain or chorus of this song is a call for Christians to bless (worship/praise/give thanks to) the LORD in earnest, in truth, and from their whole being. That is a Biblically sound call to Worship the LORD God in Spirit and in Truth.

John 4:22-24 (ESV) You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Such worship is only possible by Faith. The unbelievers cannot worship the LORD God in Spirit or in Truth. They are dead in sins and trespasses. Without faith, it is impossible to please God.

Possible pitfalls

The refrain “Bless the LORD oh my soul” is a call to worship God, but is in itself not much of a statement of praise or thanksgiving to the LORD. For those who are young in the faith, it is perfectly acceptable to start here, in the same way that “Lord, have mercy on me” is a perfectly valid and earnest prayer for help in times of need. But singing the one line over and over again falls short of actually doing what the song is calling the listener to do. The verses start to get going in the right direction of praising/thanking the LORD God for what He has done. Sadly, these verses are short and half of the verse ends up turning back onto what the singer is going to do for God (keep singing). The temptation to view worship as a down-payment on a future blessing rather than thanksgiving for what God has already done is a pitfall common to COWO. It is so pervasive in COWO that it needs to be directly addressed and guarded against overtly. We DO NOT worship God to invite Him to do something in our midst. That is how the pagans worship their idols.

The notion of blessing the LORD from the soul can get extremely fouled up in evangelical circles. Often times the emphasis on the concept of worshiping the LORD from the soul ends up being placed on the emotions, as if your emotions are the anchor point of your soul. Our emotions are part of us, but they are deeply rooted in our flesh, and as such are corrupted by our sinful flesh and serve as a pitiful litmus for faith, worship, and praise. Our emotions are easily manipulated and shaped by purely physical/fleshly means and methods (music, lighting, vocals, etc). In the charismatic camp, this notion is taken further into gnostic mysticism by teaching that worshiping in spirit and in truth necessitates disconnecting or quieting the mind and releasing self-control of the body to the moving of a spirit. That’s where you get the glossolalia (ecstatic gibberish), kundalini style herky-jerky and folks laughing/wailing uncontrollably or being “slain in the spirit” and other such ridiculous nonsense that is allowed and even encouraged in the name of “praise and worship service”. This song calls the congregation to worship but doesn’t actually lead in that worship… so you might hear this song being performed during a COWO service of an otherwise Orthodox church (please stop doing this, folks) and mean one thing while at the local big-box-evangelical-nondenom-charismatic it’s being played specifically to elicit a mystical experience.

Conclusion

As a call to worship the LORD God, the song does its job. Whether or not the song is good depends fully upon the doctrine and practice of worship being applied by the listener. I’d like to see/hear a worship leader write more theologically rich verses to accompany the song’s refrain. The lyric of our hymns and songs selected for corporate worship should inform and instruct in the faith, not merely tickle the emotions. If your church has a COWO service (a topic for another time, perhaps) this song could be used appropriately, provided the congregation has a solid grasp of acceptable Worship in light of the Gospel. If you are said worship leader, I encourage you to engage in writing stronger verses that focus more on thanksgiving and praise to the LORD rather than a string of promises of what we’ll do for Him.

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,
Jorge

DiM | “Great Are You Lord” by One Sonic Society

Evangelical Worship Edition.

July 7, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Great Are You Lord” by One Sonic Society which currently sits at #20 on 20theCountdownMagazine.

Though this song is on the top 20 CCM list, it was very clearly written for corporate worship, so we’ll treat it as such and address its use over the radio. I heard it on the local CCM radio station a couple of weeks ago and thought it was a bit seeker-worshipy. I really didn’t expect it to break the top 20, but I was wrong. Is the song bad? Well, there isn’t anything bad in the lyrics. But the song isn’t particularly aimed at teaching or enforcing doctrine or the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nor does it specify the “You” or the “Lord” to whom the song is being sung. While the lyric is generic, it’s how the song is put together and performed that bothers me the most… it’s not aimed at worship, but at stirring up emotion. Emotion != worship.

 

One Sonic Society VEVO

 

Lyrics (via Essential Worship)

VERSE 1
You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken

PRECHORUS
Great are You, Lord

CHORUS
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise, We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

VERSE 2
You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken

BRIDGE
All the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord

Chords and lyrics provided by EssentialWorship.com

Discussion

Verse 1+2. There is nothing distinctly Christian in this message. Sure, there are some general truths about God being alluded to, but try as I might I cannot think of any false religion that couldn’t make the same claims for their false gods. Buddhism perhaps, since there is no central or chief deity in that odd system. Point being, if we are going to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords in song, we can do much better than this vague stanza. To give this verse its best construction, I’d have to say that the author(s) attempted to identify the “You” of the song by covering several attributes of God. What ends up happening, though, is each attribute is glossed over thinly. The focus of the first verse is in the “restoring of the broken heart”. That’s the goal, that’s the punchline, that’s the focus. The aim of this song isn’t Worship, it’s creating an emotional experience of feeling like your broken heart is being mended.

Pre Chorus. This refrain is oddly set apart from the rest of the lyric. I wonder why it was set apart from the verses and chorus. Probably to allow plenty of instrumental build in the song, or endless repeats to give the impression that the Holy Spirit is leading the band. Again, the lyric isn’t bad, it’s how it’s being used that bothers me.

Chorus. Okay, so God breathed life into Adam’s nostrils when He created man. That same breath is what grants us life today. But we also are born into Adam’s death. There’s no mention of that truth in this song, not in any way. The closest we come to acknowledging our sin is the mention of our broken hearts. Though not necessarily an essential element of every corporate worship song (though I see no reason to avoid it) I do think it is vital in a CCM song purportedly intended to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s how CCM identifies itself as a ministry. That’s half the chorus, by the way. The other half indicates that since it’s God’s breath in our lungs (life) we pour out our praise to Him. Again, no mention of sin or regeneration or faith. The unbelievers have breath of life in their lungs, but are dead, spiritually and cannot offer praises to God. They cannot worship Him. If we alegorize the breath of life to mean the regeneration that comes by Grace through Faith in Christ, then why not point to our forgiveness as the motivation for praise? I fear it is because forgiveness is by faith alone, and not an emotion, the lyric would rather focus on the senses. Breathing, repetitive singing, focusing on “healing our broken hearts”, and then giving it a spritual context works very well at creating that warm and fuzzy feeling that seeker-sensitive mysticism aims for and calls “worship”. This chorus also focuses completely on the singer.

Bridge. Overall, this is truish but vague. It’s meant to serve as a climax to the emotional frenzy of the song. When will the earth shout His praise? On the Last Day? In Eternity? Not sure what the reference is here. Up until now, the singer has been pouring out his praise to the Lord because God’s breath was in his lungs. Not sure what is being referenced in this line. Our hearts will cry and these bones will sing. The emotional connection to the heart has been the focus of this song all along, but the addition of bones singing is interesting. In modern-day evangelicalism we see a lot of references to the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14). They eisegete themselves or their local church body into the prophecy as the dry bones that need “revival”. Nevermind verse 11, where God makes clear the interpretation of the dry bones:

Ezekiel 37:11 (ESV) Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’

Context. It can be a major buzzkill sometimes. That’s not to say that it doesn’t point us to something, because it does. It points us the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are all born dead in sins and tresspasses, cut off, without hope, without faith, condemend.

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.

The prophesying that Ezekiel does to the bones and to the breath points to the preaching of the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God to Save.

Romans 10:11-17 (ESV) For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Indeed, by Grace through Faith in the preached Word of Christ we are saved out of the kingdom of darkness and granted the Hope of Salvation in Jesus Christ our LORD.

Romans 1:16 (ESV)For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

So, I know I went on a bit of a side track there, but I wanted to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ the clear focal point of the Scriptures.

Conclusion

This song is ill-suited for CCM Radio play. I wouldn’t recommend it at all for such use. As for this song being appropriate in corporate worship? There is nothing blatantly wrong in the lyric, but there is also no clear, Biblical objective of the song either. Emotional revivalism is pointless manipulation of the masses. The song doesn’t serve any purpose within a church service, it doesn’t teach or reinforce sound doctrine. Now there are many who will read this who truly believe that the point of worship is to feel emotionally moved toward God. That is not how the Bible defines worship. This song was written to evoke emotion, not worship. I’m sure many folks will like the song, and consider it helpful in “getting them into an attitude of worship”, but those are not Biblical arguments, they are fleshly.

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.