DiM | “This is Living” by Hillsong Young & Free

Evangelical Worship Edition

January 14, 2016. In this edition we are going to be taking a look at the next song on the top new song list for 2015 found at Worship Together. Today’s song is “This is Living” by Hillsong Worship. Now this song is going to have two separate DiM posts, this one and a CCM Radio edition featuring Lecrae. There are a couple of reasons for this, firstly I don’t want to use the radio/dance version for this review as if the majority of churches using the song have the chops to pull off such a performance. I found an acoustic version that would most likely be the form played in your average contempervant church, so we can focus more on the lyric. Aside from the tempo/style of the song, the CCM Radio version also has Lecrae throwing down some rap, which clearly wouldn’t be seriously included in evangelical worship service… the congregation simply isn’t going to keep up. If your church “worship team” is doing the up-tempo, rap infused version for corporate worship… yikes.

Hillsong Young & Free Acoustic (Audio)

 

Lyrics (via Worship Together)

Verse 1
Waking up knowing there’s a reason
All my dreams come alive
Life is for living with You
I’ve made my decision

Verse 2
You lift me up, fill my eyes with wonder
Forever young in Your love
This freedom’s untainted with You
No moment is wasted

Pre-Chorus
See the sun now bursting through the clouds
Black and white turn to colour all around
All is new, in the Saviour I am found
This is living now
This is living now

Chorus
You take me higher than I’ve been before
It’s Your perfect love that sees me soar
God Your freedom is an open door
You are everything I want and more

Verse 3
You lead the way, God You’re right beside me
In Your love I’m complete
There’s nothing like living with You
This life You created I choose

Writer(s): Aodhan King, Joel Davies
Theme(s): Adoration & Praise
Ministry(s): Hillsong
CCLI #: 7032393
Scripture Reference(s): John 8:36; Ephesians 2:4-5

Discussion

This song is a hot mess. Let’s begin with its so-called Scripture Reference(s):

John 8:36 (ESV) So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Lifted out of its context so that the 2 obvious questions can be answered in any way you want… 1. Free from what? 2. Free to do what?

Ephesians 2:4-5 (ESV) 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—

This one skips our fallen state and what it deserved. There is at least some more meat here to fill in some of the “saved from what” question, but the thought is cut short. Let’s look at the immediate context of these passages.

John 8:31-47 (ESV) | The Truth Will Set You Free

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” 39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.”They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Free from the curse of sin, from being slaves to sin… forgiveness of our sin that can only be found in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. This freedom is the freedom to abide in the Word of Christ, to truly be His disciples. As the Apostle Paul often described it, it is the freedom to be a slave to Christ rather than a slave to sin and darkness. Considering Hillsong’s penchant for twisting God’s Word, they clearly don’t have a doctrinal understanding of what it means to be truly set free by Christ.

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

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 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.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We were children of wrath, by nature. What does that mean? It means that our very nature from birth is born sinful and deserving of God’s Wrath because of the Fall of Man recorded in Genesis 3. That’s what is being referenced by the but in v4. But God loved us and saved us by His Grace. The “us” isn’t all of mankind, though… notice the language of separation, the “us” is Believers who have been saved out of the rest of mankind. And that salvation is purely a gift from God… we did nothing to earn it. Nothing. A dead man can contribute nothing to his resurrection.

Now let’s work through the song lyrics.

Verse 1. There’s a reason all my dreams have come alive? What dreams? Jesus didn’t die on the cross to regenerate your dreams. Salvation isn’t about bringing your dreams back to life. What did you dream about before you were made alive in Christ Jesus? Sin. You followed the course of this world, the prince of the power of the air… you dreamed of carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, the passions of your flesh. That was what you dreamed about. Jesus didn’t die for those dreams to come alive. He died to rescue your soul from God’s Wrath to be set free from sin that controlled your heart and mind. So, you’ve made your decision? That’s great. What decision was that… to make yourself alive in Christ? We’ve covered that, that wasn’t your decision to make while you were still an unbeliever. Now, once you’ve been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and made a new creation in Christ Jesus, yes… there are some decisions that need to be made, sure. But I’m certain this line of the song is a reach back to Finneyism, decisional regeneration (I was saved because I chose to raise my hand and ‘say yes’ to Jesus).

Verse 2. Peter Pan theology. Drivel. Just… no.

Pre-Chorus. This is just some odd vision-scaping here. There is nothing real being said of Christ Jesus here. Fluff.

Chorus. Pitiful. Painting freedom in Christ as a door to Neverland, where all of our dreams come true and we never have to grow up or deal with consequences again.

Conclusion

I’m sorry… I just can’t give this song any more serious critique. It’s abhorrent. I don’t want my family listening to this on the radio… and I’m a huge fan of Electronic Dance Music (EDM)… but we’ll deal with that nonsense in the CCM version of this DiM… but for playing in a Church service? Really? No. Absolutely not. Not in Youth group… No… don’t do it. Not acceptable. I’m trying to be light-hearted in my phrasing, but I’m serious… learning that this song is being passed off as praise and worship is grounds for church discipline in my view. Whew. Okay.

The standard for corporate worship should be Titus 2, not “fun factor” or “youth engagement”. This is not proper praise and worship for the God of Creation.

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,
Jorge

DiM | “O Praise The Name (Anastasis)” by Hillsong Worship

Presentation1Evangelical Worship Edition

January 8, 2016. In this edition we are going to be taking a look at the next song on the top new song list for 2015 found at Worship Together. Today’s song is “O Praise The Name (Anastasis)” by Hillsong Worship.

Hillsong Worship Lyric Video

 

Lyrics (via Worship Together)

Intro
Verse 1
I cast my mind to Calvary where Jesus
bled and died for me. I see His wounds,
His hands, His feet. My Saviour on that cursed tree
Verse 2
His body bound and drenched in tears
they laid Him down in Joseph’s tomb.
The entrance sealed by heavy stone Messiah
still and all alone
Chorus
O praise the name of the Lord our God
O praise His name for ever more
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God
Verse 3
Then on the third at break of dawn, the Son of
heaven rose again. O trampled death where is your
sting? The angels roar for Christ the King
Chorus
Verse 4
He shall return in robes of white, the blazing Son
shall pierce the night. And I will rise among the saints,
my gaze trans fixed on Jesus’ face
Chorus

Writer(s): Dean Ussher, Marty Sampson, Benjamin Hastings
Theme(s): Communion & Reflection , Resurrection & Sacrifice , Easter
CCLI #: 7037787
Scripture Reference(s): Romans 5:8

Discussion

The good news here is that nothing that is said in the lyrics is plainly untrue. What Hillsong has put together here is a string of statements pulled from Scripture, most of them accurately. The problem I have with this song is the Hillsong formula for worship and scripture reading. There is a focus on the events that took place, and painting an emotional picture of those events and an under emphasis on the meaning of those events. The song roughly outlines the Easter story and skips ahead to the Return of Christ but the focus isn’t on the core of the Gospel… repentance and the forgiveness of sin… our sins. As close as they’ve come to a really solid song, Hillsong can’t close the gap, because as a church their theology pushes Word of Faith (WoF) and Prosperity false-gospels… that Jesus somehow died so that we can be successful, healthy, and wealthy, and popular. He didn’t. He died so that we might be spared from the Wrath of God by His blood on the cross. What is most frustrating here, is that their proof text is so close to the truth… but they narrowed it to a single verse, Romans 5:8… not surprising to find it isn’t even a complete sentence.

Romans 5:8 (ESV)  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

You see, part of the Hillsong formula is to quote portions that are vague enough to allow them to eisegete a seeker-sensitive meaning. While we were sinners, Christ died for us anyway so we can live a victorious life… something like that. Let’s look at the verse in its immediate context.

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. 10 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. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

What Hillsong does with this song does is romanticizes the ugliness of Christ’s death on the cross and skips over the ugliness of the guilt and shame of our sin. It also makes treats the cross as an event in the distant past that has to be “envisioned”. Finally, the songs skips ahead to Christ’s return… leaving a bit of a vacuum where a real understanding of what the Cross means in our everyday Christian walk… it’s the point of forgiveness for our sin… our real and ever-present sin while we walk this earth in sinful, fleshly, cursed bodies. Should the LORD tarry, we will all die as the direct result of the curse of the sin of Adam. The gift of forgiveness is one we need every day of our lives… not just on Easter.

Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV)

Pray then like this:

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

So that is what I find lacking in this song, and I firmly believe that it was no mere oversight; rather, it is the result of the doctrine of Hillsong. The doctrine in their music will not surpass the doctrine preached from their stages.

Having said all of that, the question we must now deal with is whether a church with sound doctrine can find a place for using this song in their contemporary worship. In this case, it might be the case, though I think another verse should be added and I’d suggest rewriting the first verse altogether. But let’s work through the verses and see where we might reference a Biblical teaching.

Verses 1+2. I really have a problem with the whole I cast my mind to Calvary. As I indicated earlier, it unduly separates our current existence from the Gospel of Jesus’s Death and Resurrection. It sets the stage for a mental exercise, a vision cast, or even a guided meditation of historic events… when we really just need to read God’s Word. Some probably overlook that as a mere turn of phrase, but when we see what is being emphasized in the details, I see His wounds… His body bound and drenched in tears, he’s all alone… these are strongly emotive words. The goal is to get the singer weepy and emotional… this is a guided exercise akin to that of guided relaxation, only with a different end state. This is the romanticizing of the ugliness of the cross I mentioned. What isn’t mentioned, is that our sin needed punishing, that had He not borne the Wrath of God against sin for us, there could be no forgiveness of our sin.

Chorus. Musically the chorus is very dramatic. It plays very well if your worship leader has a powerful singing voice. Theologically, it is a bit trite. It falls somewhere into that “I’m going to  exaggerate my worship to demonstrate my passion” that we normally see in secular love songs. I think what we are seeing here is another outflow of the problematic theology of prosperity teachers… they take promises for the afterlife and misappropriate them for this temporal life. Likewise, while it is true that we will spend endless days in eternity praising God while in His presence… to claim we do so in the here and now is to exaggerate and outright lie. So, when we rightly understand the reference found in the chorus as being that of the afterlife, in the New Heavens and the New Earth… the chorus becomes a confession of what will happen after the Resurrection. This goes back to the vacuum I mentioned earlier… this present life, where we are learning to place our full trust in Him.

Verse 3. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I think there is some good teaching possible here, though the arch of the song passes right over it. The phrase O trampled death where is your sting isn’t just about death not being able to keep Jesus dead. Let’s look to Paul’s discussion of the Mystery in 1 Cor 15:

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (ESV) | Mystery and Victory

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Did you see that? Paul connected the sting of death to our sin. The Law of the Lord is the power of sin… how so? Because God’s Holiness and Justice demands that sin be destroyed. There is no power apart from God. So, in verse 57 we understand that God gives us victory (over sin and death) through our LORD Jesus Christ, who bore the full price of sin, and over came death and the grave. Praise the Lord!

Verse 4. We do look forward to the Return of Christ. True to seeker theology, there is no acknowledgement that Christ is returning for His own. There is just an implication that as long as you think you’re in, you are. That’s seeker theology, and we don’t expect anything more solid than that coming out of Hillsong. The Bible teaches that those who are sealed by God the Holy Spirit are the Bride of Christ. Jesus isn’t just coming back to pierce the night, but to Judge both the Living and the Dead. I have no doubt that is the meaning that most pour into that verse when they think about it, but the lyric doesn’t go there, you have to do it yourself. Without sound doctrine, you won’t get all the way there on your own.

Ephesians 1:3-14 (ESV) | Spiritual Blessings in 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 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 Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 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,12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 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,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Suggesting that Jesus isn’t coming for everyone, though, doesn’t really fit the seeker-sensitive model of preaching.

Conclusion

Can this song be sung in your church’s contemporary worship service without teaching error? I suppose so, but my question is why not have the congregation sing a song that teaches sound theology? What is the purpose of the song set in your corporate worship gathering?  Finally, if your theology doesn’t match that of Hillsong, why would you be compelled to use one of their worship songs for your service?

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,
Jorge

Hillsong Doesn’t Understand Worship

nohillsongAn individual on my Facebook acquaintance list shared a Hillsong article entitled “7 Tips for Raising Up a Youth Worship Team” by Laura Toggs (daughter of Bobbie and Brian Houston). It is… not good. Overall it’s devoid of substance, unclear, and vague. However, I wanted to take a few moments to point out some of the odd priorities and theology presented in this piece.

The youth are literally the next generation coming up through the Church, so it’s massively important to pour into, to disciple, and to bring the creativity/leadership out of each one of them to ensure the Church as a whole moves from strength to strength.

Here are just a few tips that I’ve collected while working in our youth ministry over the years, and we pray that they’d be such a blessing to you, your youth ministry, and your church.

Well, that’s an intro. Yes, the youth are the next generation. What does Hillsong mean by “pour into” the youth? I hope somewhere in the tips that follow we’ll get a clear idea. Discipling the youth is a good thing, but in what? Are we talking about discipling them in Christ Jesus? in the Word? Are we talking about doing this with or without their Parents? Finally, what is it to “bring the creativity/leadership out” of each of them, and how is it this point that is connected with the strength of the Church? The strength of the Church is in her foundation… laid by the apostles with Christ as the Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:19-21). Let’s see if the 7 tips provide any clarity.

1. It starts with you

Have a revelation of the importance and value of bringing through young worship leaders, musicians, and creatives. From generation to generation we commend His works, declare His faithfulness, and desire His glory to shine brighter & brighter… This means that we have a responsibility to genuinely champion the next generation, and our hope should be that they see and do greater things than what we have seen or done — all for the name of JESUS. (How exciting!)

Have a revelation of the importance and value of bringing through young worship leaders, musicians, and creatives.

Okay, so I will say that their web promotion is very slick… having formatted twitter bites throughout their blog is savvy. Now let’s look at the tip… what is it, exactly? Oh yes… It starts with you. Interesting that this is the very first point. Seems most sermons coming out of Hillsong suffer from this same narcissism. Remember how I called the promotion slick? Notice at the very end… we get a mention of Jesus. Does that rescue the point? Not at all, this is only included as a cover, should someone (like myself) point out the narcissism and man-centered priority of this list. But this is a separate clause that is tacked onto the end of the central thought of this point… it’s up to you to genuinely champion the next generation so that they see and do greater things than we have seen or done.

Time for our CTT portion for today: From generation to generation we commend His works, declare His faithfulness, and desire His glory to shine brighter & brighter… sounds like a passage of Scripture… but no reference is given. The author then goes on to explain what it means. The closest match I found is Psalm 145:4, but it doesn’t say what this article is saying. Let’s look at the Psalm.

Psalm 145 (ESV) | Great Is the Lord
A Song of Praise. Of David.

145 I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
    and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
    and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
    and his mercy is over all that he has made.

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
    and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
    and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

[The Lord is faithful in all his words
    and kind in all his works.]
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling
    and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
    you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord preserves all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
    and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

This is a song of praise to God and a commitment to train up the younger generation to continue that praise by teaching them of His mighty works. Do you think King David would have begun his list of tips with “it starts with you”? Well, let us not dabble in conjecture and philosophy… let’s look at King David’s instructions to Solomon after he had been anointed as King.

1 Kings 2:1-4 (ESV) | David’s Instructions to Solomon

When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’

David pointed Solomon to the word of the Lord God as it is written in the Law of Moses. He could have worded it in a way that references himself as a model… but he didn’t. It doesn’t start with us, it starts and ends with our Lord God.

2. Stop waiting and start developing

You have a team of young people who are just waiting for you to unearth their potential. There is a wealth of God-given gift, talent, and anointing within your youth ministry — identify them, believe in them, disciple them, and then release them. Be generous with your encouragement, time, and wisdom because they are worth your investment (and remember, God has a habit of using the unlikely and non-obvious ones).

So many buzzwords totally lacking in substance. unearth their potential, anointing, release them. Now, if there is one thing I’ll give this idea credit for, it’s in the idea that a church should not simply skip or forgo worship simply because they haven’t hired a slick musician with a relevant look who is willing to perform on a small budget. Worship doesn’t require skill or trappings, but a contrite spirit and a penitent faith in Jesus Christ. The rest of the paragraph is cryptic Word of Faith and Presence theology lingo for super-charging some hidden, untapped, god-given potential for greatness that needs to be called up, energized, or released in them… or something. Look, our youth need to be taught the Word of God. Those with musical skills should be trained in music also, but not at the price of sound doctrine. Without sound doctrine and Biblical discipleship we risk creating more Jennifer Knapps, Gungors, or Katie Perrys instead of faithful Christians with hearts for worship.

3. Teach your young people to honour

Honour leadership, honour people, honour the platform, and most of all — honour God. They may not quite understand the privilege, the weight, the responsibility, and the sacrifices made (and I’ve come to realise that this is NOT their fault, but rather the challenge of a generation being born into blessing), so tell them stories of the many faithful people who have paved the way. Guide them towards being grateful and remind them, remind them, remind them of WHY we do what we do, and WHO we do it for. (Be unapologetically repetitive).

To honor what? Leadership, people, the platform… and God gets an afterthought behind another dash. Hillsong employs and teaches the Vision casting leadership model of Church. To question the Leader is to question God’s appointed leader, which is to question God. That is why this list is in the order presented. Hillsong does not abide anyone who questions Brian or his underlings, they will not suffer a noble Berean. And there lies the real meaning of the Why we do what we do and WHO we do it for. Cleverly written, plausibly deniable, completely intentional. Hillsong is a corporation of men, not the Body of Christ.

4. There are seasons for releasing & empowering and seasons for reining-in & bringing back

Allow your young people to express their own unique sound and enthusiasm freely, but always bring it back to the heart of worship. Let them be confident, but prioritise humility. Allow them the honour of the spotlight, but also the privilege to serve in a capacity of which is unseen. (Perhaps the same person who worship leads one night could be the same person scraping chewing gum off the carpet at the end of the night).

Now this point, buried in the middle of the list has some practical advice for young musicians. It is good to have leadership systems in training… I remember my younger brother (an awesome drummer) talk about competing for first-chair in his section. This is good for students to grow both musically and as leaders in their art. Teaching them responsibility in the menial and unseen tasks is also good. All of that empty talk of “releasing and empowering” is worthless.

5. Just do what you do, and let your young people in on it

Song-write with them, roster them on to co-worship lead with you, let them observe you during rehearsal, save a seat for them on the front row with you, invite them over to the odd family dinner…you know, stuff like that. The most valuable lessons are learned in a way that is natural & organic (and practical is awesome).

And we’re back to me, er “you”. This is basic mentorship and discipling, but again we don’t see here any direct tie to God’s Word. Since we are still talking about youth, the absence of mention of the youth’s parents is again, troubling.

6.Make it the most fun and exciting thing for your young people to be part of ever!!!!!

Make memories that will last forever!

Okay, now I’m thinking the author gave up at 5 points, but didn’t want to have to rewrite the title. How is this a tip? This rah-rah motivational pabulum. What does this have to do with the very real responsibility of leading the people of God in worship? There is no substance here.

7. Most importantly disciple your young people to JESUS, JESUS, JESUS

Point them to Jesus and allow Him to shape their hearts. He can do in a moment what we couldn’t do in a lifetime.

Point them to Jesus and allow Him to shape their hearts. He can do in a moment what we couldn’t do in a lifetime, so only ever and always point them upwards. In everything, JESUS…with everything, JESUS.

Again with the final thought, a vague mention of Jesus. Sure they repeated the Name of Jesus several times, and in general this might be a decent way to start a greater discussion of how to disciple our youth… but that’s not what is going on here.  Point them to Jesus and allow Him to shape their hearts. What does that mean from an organization that places man first in all things and fails to rightly handle God’s Word? None of these tips pointed to Jesus. None of these tips pointed clearly (and correctly) to God’s Word. I mean, one might think that after reading these 7 tips the Bible must be fairly empty on the subject of youth, worship, training, teaching, leadership within the church… but it isn’t. The bible clearly addresses all of these topics… but the Bible points to God and doesn’t leave room for Hillsong to get their glory.

Conclusion

Ultimately, what it all boils down to is that either Hillsong doesn’t understand what Worship is, or it simply doesn’t care. They’ve figured out how to profit off of entertainment with a thin Bible veneer sold as a spiritual experience that all Christians should seek out and desire. Hillsong (and Bethel) are cancers in the visible Church. They do not teach sound doctrine, instead they preach themselves and are waterless clouds.

Jude 5-13 (ESV)

5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

Hillsong is a money-making machine, devilishly clever, and completely compromised. Come away from them, and learn to Worship the One True God in Spirit and in Truth.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present youblameless 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,
Jorge

DiM | “Touch The Sky” by Hillsong United

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

July 07, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Touch the Sky” by Hillsong United which currently sits at #16 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

I’d like to begin by openly admitting that I have a negative bias against all things Hillsong, due to their false teaching, bible twisting, and repeated failure to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ faithfully. I will do my best to give this song a fair evaluation, but I wanted to clearly acknowledge my bias up front. Having said that, this song has some powerful production power, wonderfully mastered and hypnotic vocal dynamics. Lyrically… the song is self-indulgent, mystically emotional, nonsense. I look forward to the day when Hillsong United puts out a theologically sound piece of music that makes it onto the top20 charts. Not so much for their sake, but for the sake of the millions who blindly follow them.

Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Touch The Sky

What fortune lies beyond the stars
Those dazzling heights too vast to climb
I got so high to fall so far
But I found heaven as love swept low

My heart beating
My soul breathing
I found my life
When I laid it down
Upward falling
Spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

What treasure waits within Your scars
The gift of freedom gold can’t buy
I bought the world and sold my heart
You traded heaven to have me again

My heart beating
My soul breathing
I found my life
When I laid it down
Upward falling
Spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

Find me here at your feet again
Everything I am
Reaching out
I surrender come sweep me up in
Your love again and my soul will dance on the
Wings of Forever

Find me here at your feet again
Everything I am
Reaching out
I surrender come sweep me up in
Your love again and my soul will dance on the
Wings of Forever

My heart beating
My soul breathing
I found my life
When I laid it down
Upward falling
Spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

My heart beating
My soul breathing
I found my life
When I laid it down
Upward falling
Spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

Find me here at your feet again
Everything I am
Reaching out
I surrender come sweep me up in
Your love again and my soul will dance on the
Wings of Forever

Upward falling
Spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

Publishing: © 2014 Hillsong Music Publishing (APRA)
Writer(s): Joel Houston, Dylan Thomas & Michael Guy Chislett

Discussion

As I said in the introduction, these lyrics are self-indulgent. The focus of these lyrics are not on God they are on the singer. Not focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ but on the piety/discoveries of the singer. As with most Hillsong material, there are allusions to or themes from scripture. No doubt the creative writing process might have even begun with some of these passages (most likely taken from the Message parody). Let’s look at a couple that I could recognize while reading through the lyrics.

“I found my life when I laid it down”

Mark 8:34-36 (ESV)

34 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. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

So, once we look at the reference we see a glaring difference between what is being sung and what we find in Scripture. This statement is recorded in each of the Gospels, and in each Jesus is talking about losing your life for His sake. Hillsong United has turned this idea into a mystical discipline not unlike “emptying oneself” as we see in the eastern religions.

“Find me here at your feet again”

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV) | Martha and Mary

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Mary chose to sit and listen to Jesus’ teaching, and it was the good portion that will not be taken away from her. This passage is sometimes misrepresented as an appeal for Christians that vocation, hard work, and discipline are distractions from so-called spiritual living. In contemporary services, often times allegory invoked places “praise and worship” as the good portion and the faithful, exegetical teaching of the scriptures as the “anxious and troubled about many things”. You’ll see this whenever a church leader describes his service as “relevant”, “relatable”, “young”, or “young” (The Man Behind Hillsong: Brian Houston).

John 12:1-3 (ESV) | Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany

12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

For this song, I think this is more the imagery they are going for, which moves us into the mystically emotional quality of the lyrics. This is a very intimate moment, one of deep thanksgiving (Lazarus was there after having been risen from the dead by Jesus) and it leads directly into death and burial of Jesus Christ. That is the focus of this event, because Jesus would have to be buried before His body can be properly anointed and washed… the very reason the women go out to the tomb on the third day, finding it empty… Christ had risen. But the song lyric doesn’t go in that direction… instead, it gets a bit indulgent, almost emotionally romantic… Everything I am, Reaching out, I surrender come sweep me up in, Your love again and my soul will dance on the, Wings of Forever. We don’t have the singer sitting at the foot of Jesus in repentance, for teaching, or even out of thanksgiving; rather, the singer is invoking surrender language for being swept up in a loving embrace so her soul can dance on the wings of forever. Emotional drivel.

The rest of the song is a hypnotic poetry of nonsense verse. My soul breathing… upward falling… I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground… it’s artistic, but it doesn’t convey any real meaning, not in any Biblical sense. The hearer is free to interpret these lines in any way that seems to fit at any given moment. That might be fine for secular music, but shouldn’t be a mainstay of Christian music.

Conclusion

This song shouldn’t be sung in any church because the object of the song is the self, not God. I would argue that it shouldn’t be on the Christian airwaves, because there is nothing in it directly identifying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This song could have been written by a Native American spiritualist, a Hindu Yogi, or Far-eastern Buddhist. The music quality is phenomenal, but that only serves to obfuscate its lyrical pablum.

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