DiM | “Soul on Fire” by Third Day

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

March 10, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Soul on Fire” by Third Day which currently sits at #13 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

We’ll continue using this top 20 song list until I find a better list.  Your feedback in this would be greatly appreciated.

Last week, Third Day released their latest album entitled “Lead us back“. They are calling this a Worship Album. The first single released is their song “Soul on Fire”. Their latest tour is being called the “Soul on Fire” tour. So, let’s take a look at this new song. It’s a very catchy song, and I am drawn to their musical style. Musically, I love this song. However, lyrically this isn’t one of their better songs.

VEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via K-Love)

Soul On Fire by Third Day

God, I’m running for Your heart
I’m running for Your heart
Till I am a soul on fire
Lord, I’m longing for Your ways
I’m waiting for the day
When I am a soul on fire
Till I am a soul on fire

Lord, restore the joy I had
And I have one to bring me back
In this darkness, lead me through
Until all I see is You

Lord, let me burn for You again
Let me return to You again
And Lord, let me burn for You again
Let me return to You again

God, I’m running for Your heart
I’m running for Your heart
Till I am a soul on fire
I want to be
Till I am a soul on fire
Till I am a soul on fire

Publishing: © 2014 Songs From The Quarry (ASCAP) / Thankyou Music (PRS) / I Am Pilgrim Songs / Sony/ATV Tree Publishing (BMI)
Writer(s): Mac Powell, Tai Anderson, David Carr, Mark Lee, Brenton Brown, Matt Maher

Discussion

I’ve taken to dispensing with the “pros” and “cons” on songs that seem to just miss the mark such that I struggle to build either a Pro or a Con list. In this case, I’m completely confused by this song and its messaging. So, we’ll just talk about what has me confused, we’ll look at the Scriptures that I think are relevant to the message and draw to a close for now. If you are in possession of better insight, such as an interview with the band that sheds light on what they think the lyrics convey, do please share it either via email or in comments below.

Soul on Fire?

The most glaring problem is this phrasing. It’s in the title, the tour, and throughout the song repeatedly, but it is never defined. There are certain denominational idioms relating to being “on fire for God”. It’s such a popular component to seeker-sensitive song writing that it was included in the following parody of how to write a worship song by the folks at Blimey Cow:

The problem, even beyond the funny parody, is that despite the prevalence of this theme throughout modern emotive music there is not much in Scripture that supports this narrative. If we are talking about Biblical references that tend to be invoked by “Soul on Fire” theme, the very first one that comes to mind isn’t something we should be chasing.

Matthew 10:24-28 (ESV) 24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. 26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

I’m certain this is not the sort of “Soul on Fire” that Third day is singing about. Eternal judgement waits for those who die in their unbelief, and face Jesus Christ as Judge who has the authority to destroy both soul and body in hell.

It could simply be a secularism where we’ve turned the notion of “burning with passion” for someone and redirected it toward God. Reading through the second and third stanzas, there is a sense of returning or getting back something that was lost. A rekindling of an old flame. All of these are romantic allusions that don’t quite fit Biblical worship, unless you are allegorizing Song of Solomon (Song of songs) as a picture of God’s relationship with Israel and Christ’s relationship with His Church. Even in that context, it should be corporate wording, not individual… because, well, Christ is returning for His People, the Church, not me individually.  I know that is a tough thing to say coming from a Western mindset and speaking mostly to a Western audience, but our cultural bias is one of extreme individualism that doesn’t fit Scripture. I pray the Holy Spirit grant insight in this for I suffer from this Western mindset, too.

I want to give this song its best construction, and for me to do so I need to invoke an intermediate allegory or imagery of a burnt offering or sacrifice. The first form of worship after the fall was that of the offering, the sacrifice to the Lord God. When God gave Moses the Law, the sacrifices were burnt offerings to God. If we bear in mind the concept of a burnt offering, and the aroma of obeying the Law and making a satisfactory sacrifice by faith unto God, then we have an intermediate step for a right understanding of what the phrase “Soul on Fire” might be when we then jump into Romans 12.

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV) | A Living Sacrifice
12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

In this way, we might understand what it means to present ourselves as living sacrifices to God. Perhaps it is in this way that the song is waiting for God to send down fire igniting our hearts and our souls demonstrating His acceptance of our living sacrifice. But what does such a sacrifice look like for those who fall under the New Covenant of Christ’s Blood? Let us turn to the book of Hebrews, chapter 13.

Hebrews 13 English Standard Version (ESV) | Sacrifices Pleasing to God
1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altarfrom which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. 19 I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner. 20 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, 21 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.

22 I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. 23 You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. 24 Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. 25 Grace be with all of you.

 

These are the Sacrifices that are pleasing to God, and not a single one can be done rightly apart from Faith. Where the song falls short of this (aside from needing an intermediate interpretation) is that it suggests that one simply needs to wait on the emotional unction or burning within. Even the disciple’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) where the Disciples recall a burning in their hearts was not a purely passive event. They were listening to the Words of Jesus as He recounted to them all that the Scriptures said regarding Him. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 (ESV))”.  Don’t just wait to be set on fire, and don’t settle for vague allegory of “running to God’s heart”… read His Word, listen to His Word being faithfully preached, and pray for understanding from God the Holy Spirit. Emotions are fleeting and easily manipulated. I thank God that faith is not an emotion… and Truth isn’t a feeling.

Conclusion

This song isn’t for the unbeliever, it doesn’t preach Law or Gospel. It’s heavily coded chuch-jargon, and unhelpfully so. It is far to focused on the individual for it to be suitable for corporate worship in my opinion. I don’t question Third Day’s desire to inspire their listeners to a fervent love for God and true worship. But you can’t skip over the preaching of the Word of God. You can’t skip over the need for repentance, and forgiveness for even the sins of unbelief and of doubt. He is faithful to forgive us, and He has sealed us by His Holy Spirit until the day of His Return. Rest in that. There will be times when we feel like we are super-charged, burning-hot, souls on fire for God and walking in triumphant procession leading the throngs in worship into the Temple of the Most High God… and then there will be times when our souls will be downcast and the persecution from the world weighs heavily upon us, just as it was for the author of Psalm 42. Let us close with the last verse of this Psalm

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

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

DiM | “Day One” by Matthew West

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

March 3, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Day One” by Mattehw West which currently sits at #12 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

The song definitely in the “positive” and “uplifting” category. But is this song a Christian song? Does it elevate Christ? Does it preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins? Nope. It is a motivational pep talk.

In fact, there is a popular quote from the 60s (source).

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Charles Dederich (1914-1997) Founder of Synanon, the 1960s drug rehabilitation organization that morphed into a cult
Most sources credit Charles Dederich with coining this well-known self-help mantra in the 1960s, around the time he founded Synanon. Clearly, it’s use by Dederich and Synanon as a slogan for recovering drug addicts helped popularize the saying. However, Dederich may or may not have created it. It’s one of those sayings that just seem to have been floating around in the 1960s. Many websites and books say it was coined by the legendary Hippie activist/theater group called The Diggers. It was also used by Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman in his 1968 book Revolution for the Hell of It (1968), as the title of a song in the obscure 1968 musical Love Match,and on on everything from head shop posters and greeting cards. I suspect that’s why some sources simply (and perhaps rightly) credit it to “Anonymous.” 

I’m sure you’ve heard the slogan, just didn’t know where it had originated.

VEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via K-Love)

Day One

Well, I wish I had a short term memory
Wish the only thing my eyes could see
Was the future burning bright right in front of me
But I can’t stop looking back

Yeah, I wish I was a perfect picture of
Somebody who’s never not good enough
I try to measure up but I mess it up
And I wish I wasn’t like that

I wish I wasn’t wishing anymore
Wish I could remember that nobody’s keeping score
I’m tired of throwing pennies in a well
I gotta do something
Here goes nothin’

It’s day one of the rest of my life
It’s day one of the best of my life
I’m marching on to the beat of a brand new drum
Yeah, here I come
The future has begun
Day one

Well, every single day Your grace reminds me
That my best days are not behind me
Wherever my yesterday may find me
Well, I don’t have to stay there

See my hourglass is upside down
My someday soon is here and now
The clock is tickin’
And I’m so sick and tired of missing out

It’s day one
And here comes the sun

Every morning, every morning
Every morning, mercy’s new
Every morning, every morning
Every morning, I will fix my eyes on You
Every morning, every morning
Every morning, mercy’s new
Every morning, every morning
Sun’s coming up, the beginning has begun

Starting over, I’m starting over
Starting over, I’m starting over, starting now
I’m starting over
Starting over, I’m starting over
Starting over
Starting over, starting now
I’m starting over

Publishing: © 2015 Matthew West Publishing Designee (ASCAP) / Meaux Jeaux Music / Songs From The Indigo Room (SESAC) (Admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)
Writer(s): Matthew West and Pete Kipley

Discussion

Grace and Mercy are mentioned. Let’s look at how they are mentioned.

 “…every single day Your grace reminds me that my best days are not behind me…”

Is the message of Grace really about how our best days are not behind us? In what sense? What is the message of Grace?

Ephesians 1:1-14 (ESV) | Greeting & Spiritual Blessings in Christ
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 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, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 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.

The Grace of God is that in Christ we have been redeemed so that when we die we will be granted an inheritance of heaven, to the praise of His glory. That is what the Grace of God should remind us of. Why is that important, because the days we walk here on earth will be filled with trials and tribulation. We have no guarantee of an easy life in the temporal sense.

James 1:2-4 (ESV) | Testing of Your Faith
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

By faith, we are to consider it a joy to meet trials of various kinds so that we might be made perfect and complete in what matters. The world will hate us and mistreat us because it first hated Jesus Christ. The sermon on the mount (Matthew 5) isn’t just an academic exercise. Our victory in Christ is secured in the Kingdom of Heaven. The temporal is doomed for destruction, cursed by sin. Our very flesh is cursed by sin and we will die in God’s timing. God’s grace is sufficient and our inheritance by the Blood of Christ is assured.

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV) | Lay Up Treasures in Heaven
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Is this “Day One of the rest of my life” pointing to our Spiritual assurances of Heaven or an empty promise of temporal ‘best days’ and ‘bright future’ ahead?  A passage that is often lifted out of its context to bolster a “forget the past because your future is bright” message is

Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV) | Straining Toward the Goal
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

But now let’s keep reading

15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

The upward call isn’t “a promotion; a new career; a new ministry; financial freedom, etc.”  Paul is literally referring to the upward call to Heaven, whether it be by death or on the Day of Christ’s Return. What lies ahead in the temporal might very well be worse than what is behind. It was in Paul’s case, and for the other Apostles, if we are looking at the temporal. Paul gave up a life of wealth, comfort, esteem, and social status for the Cross of Jesus Christ. His eternal reward far outweighs any suffering he had to endure in Jesus’ Name, and that he did according to the Grace of God.

Is this the Truth of God’s Grace that the song proclaims? I’ll leave that for you to decide. At least after reading this, you are equipped to focus on the Grace of God to strengthen you in the hard times that lie ahead.

Mercy. What does it mean to have God’s mercy new every day? I believe it is a reference to a verse in Lamentations 3. If you only read verses 22-24, it’s easy to shout, “Amen!”. However, if you read these verse in context, it might come less exuberantly. In the interest of time, let’s look at its local context.

Lamentations 3:16-33 (ESV)
16 He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
and made me cower in ashes;
17 my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
18 so I say, “My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord.”
19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.
28 Let him sit alone in silence
when it is laid on him;
29 let him put his mouth in the dust—
there may yet be hope;
30 let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
and let him be filled with insults.
31 For the Lord will not
    cast off forever,
32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33 for he does not afflict from his heart
    or grieve the children of men.

God is good. His mercies are endless. His Grace does abound. That doesn’t mean we get to proclaim and declare that our days ahead (in this life) are going to be brighter than those behind. That isn’t a promise given to us in God’s Word. As long as we remain focused on treasures in Heaven, and on the Truth of God’s Word, we will find ourselves on solid ground. We sin… every day we sin. God’s mercy and forgiveness is available to us at the foot of the Cross every day. Repent, and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name.

Conclusion

The song is vague enough that someone could argue that what is being proclaimed in the song is the Spiritual truth, not the temporal lie of the “prosperity gospel” (which is no Gospel at all). Others might insist that there’s nothing wrong with “being positive” and this song accomplishes that. I won’t argue against “positivity”, but the world does pretty well at self-esteem and pep rallies. We, the Church, have something far better than self-help psychology has to offer. We have the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s place our hope, our faith, in Him, not our ability to “start over”. It’s not about making new and fresh promises to ourselves or to God to “live better”… it’s about repenting, being forgiven in Jesus’ Name, and walking in the Grace of God and being filled with the Spirit who teaches us and molds us into the fullness of Christ. He will also rebuke, correct, and admonish us… to repent anew, until the Great day when we’ll finally be rid of this sinful flesh.

Romans 15:13 (ESV) 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.

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

DiM | “Beyond Me” by TobyMac

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

February 24, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Beyond Me” by TobyMac which currently sits at #11 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

We’ll continue using this top 20 song list until I find a better list.  Your feedback in this would be greatly appreciated.

TobyMac has been in the business for a long time. He’s quite the innovator when it comes to the Christian music scene. He’s been very successful with the youth of late. What we see in this song is prosperity/overcomer theology in quasi-humble language. In fact, it seems to play on the same sort of self-indulgent theme found in Hillsong’s Oceans (Where Feet May Fail). The song has no value, it’s just empty self-esteem talk disguised as a prayer of humility.

VEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via K-Love)

Beyond Me by TobyMac

Call it a reason to retreat
I got some dreams that are bigger than me
I might be outmatched, outsized, the underdog in the fight of my life
Is it so crazy to believe

That You gave me the stars put them out of my reach
Called me to waters a little too deep
Oh, I’ve never been so aware of my need
You keep on making me see
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond me
Yeah, it’s out of my league
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond …

Anything that I got the strength to do
In over my head keeps me countin’ on You
I’m leaving the sweet spot, sure shot
Tradin’ it all for the plans You got
Is it so crazy to believe

You take me to the place where I know I need You
Straight to the depths that I can’t handle on my own
And the Lord I know, I know I need You
So take me to Your great …
Take me to Your great unknown

Publishing: © 2014 Achtober Songs (BMI) / Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing / D Soul Music (ASCAP) (Admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)
Writer(s): Toby McKeehan and David Arthur Garcia

Positive Elements

The one redeeming quality in this song is that it acknowledges somewhat the hard truth that God will take us to the place where we know we need Him. However, the song puts it in the wrong place. The song seems to presuppose that wherever we are now, as Christians, is a place of safety and comfort, but God is going to take us to a place where we’ll need Him. Nope. Where we are, right now, in our sin and transgressions, is where we need Him. How did Jesus teach His disciples to pray?

Luke 11:1-4 (ESV) | The Lord’s Prayer
11 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

We also find in James a strong warning to the Church regarding worldliness:

James 4:1-10 (ESV) | Warning Against Worldliness
4 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

We do need God in every day and in every way imaginable. So how does He take us to a place where we acknowledge this need? By His Word, particularly the Law.

Galatians 3:15-22 (ESV) | The Law and the Promise
15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. 19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

So, then, the Law convicts us of our sin and our wholesale dependence upon God’s mercy and Grace. Once the Holy Spirit grants us faith, by the hearing of the Word of God, we are brought to repentance at the foot of the cross and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Unless your physical body dies in that moment, your fallen flesh will continue living and desiring sin waging war against the Spirit. Such is the temporal existence for those who have been redeemed by faith in Jesus Christ. We won’t graduate from this until the Resurrection. We must daily seek His forgiveness in humble repentance. We need Him, for apart from Him we can do nothing.

Concerns

As usual, we see no reference to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No repentance, no forgiveness, just empty promises. This isn’t an attack on TobyMac for having an empty song as much as it is on the Evangelical community that eats this stuff up propelling it to the Top 20. We’ve become theologically diabetic, and it’s killing the Church, particularly our youth.

The song starts in a bad place. Rather than address the substance of the singer’s dreams and aspirations, it just assumes that these dreams were God-given. It then springboards from that presupposition to justifying “dreaming big” as a clear sign that God wants him to know he needs God. Is that supported in Scripture? No. We aren’t promised individual greatness or individual “potential”… we are promised a Savior, Jesus Christ.

The message of the Gospel is indeed that righteousness is “way beyond me”. That’s why He gave us His Son, the Lamb of God. The message of this song is skewed to suggest that God’s plan for our lives (our dreams) are way beyond me but He’s gonna make it happen. Well, what if greatness isn’t in God’s plan for our lives? The post-modern answer would be to simply redefine “greatness”. That’s ridiculous. The problem isn’t in the definition of “greatness” it is in the perspective of the song and the theology that is driving it.

Conclusion

The song is just a self-esteem, dream big, purpose driven, seeker hook. I used to follow the TobyMac Facebook page, but had to stop because of the routine sharing of false memes like this one. TobyMac is running a very successful musical enterprise; however, this song has questionable theological underpinnings. The seeker-sensitive prosperity or purpose-driven versions of the Gospel are false Gospels. Toby has been involved in a lot of good work over the years, and I do not question his sincerity in ministry. I pray he isn’t swept away in the seeker-mergent sludge being passed off as Christianity these days.

Romans 15:13 (ESV) 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.

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

DiM | “Made New” by Lincoln Brewster

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

February 17, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Made New” by Lincoln Brewster which currently sits at #10 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

We’ll continue using this top 20 song list until I find a better list. Another option would be to devote 2 days a week to DiM and simply pull from different lists, maybe an East Coast/West Coast, or pulling from Billboard one day and a Christian site the other. Your feedback in this would be greatly appreciated.

This song is pitched as a Praise and Worship song by Integrity Worship Music. This song is being played on the airwaves. There is no outside context to frame the meaning of the song when it is being played on the air. This is why we look at the lyrics and we review the popular songs to see if they say what we think (hope) they say, and compare that with what the Bible says.

Music Videos

Lyrics (via K-Love)

Made New by Lincoln Brewster

You’re calling me over
You’re pulling me close
With love You surround me
You give me hope

You’re taking me deeper
You’re making me whole
With grace You redeem me
You restore my soul

Now I’m made new
Because of You

You hold my head up
You remind me who I am
You hold my head up
I’m alive in You again
I’m made new

You’re making me stronger
You’re healing my heart
With Your hands You hold me
And You set me apart

You are my salvation
I will not fear
You’re the strength of my life
I won’t fear

Publishing: © 2014 Integrity Worship Music/ASCAP & Integrity’s Praise! Music/BMI & Echo/BMI (all adm by Integrity Music via CapitolCMGPublishing.com) & Colby Wedgeworth Music/ASCAP
Writer(s): Josiah Meeker, Colby Wedgeworth & Lincoln Brewster

Positive Elements

If we are going with the assumption that the “You” in this song is Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, then we have some general themes we can acknowledge in this song. Beginning with the title “Made New”.

2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (ESV)

14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We hold onto this truth by faith, though we continue to walk in a fallen flesh. The curse of the Law was born by Christ (Him who knew no sin) on the cross, so that in Christ we might be forgiven and set free from the curse of the law. This is wonderful news… news we need to lay hold of every day. Our flesh still desires to sin, and will do so until the day when we are at last freed from this mortal body of sin and are resurrected in Christ and made perfect. By faith we hold onto the promise of salvation that is being kept in heave for us.

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.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 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.

So, this is some of what the New Testament teaches about being “Made New” (born again) in Christ Jesus.

There are a couple other good themes in the song that bear some expansion (if indeed we are seeking to Worship the God of the Bible). The song says the Lord is our Salvation and the one who lifts our head up. A good place to look for a way to bring these phrases into the Light of Scripture is to look in Palms 3.

Psalm 3 (ESV) | Save Me, O My God

A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.

O Lord, how many are my foes!
    Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
    there is no salvation for him in God. Selah

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
    my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
    and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

I lay down and slept;
    I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
    who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord!
    Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
    you break the teeth of the wicked.

Salvation belongs to the Lord;
    your blessing be on your people! Selah

If we keep these passages in mind, we can at least keep our heads in the right place should the song find its way into your Church service.

Concerns

The song isn’t a reflection on the Gospel of Jesus Christ or on repentance. While the song alludes to what God has done, it does so with a focus on ourselves. The anthemic praise/worship tunes are tough for me because they have a confused audience. Anthems are usually aimed at the congregants to stir them up… so when the personal pronouns are supposed to be pointed to God but the messaging is to tell the audience about God it creates confusion. Some anthems get it right, like We Believe by the Newsboys.  This song, doesn’t get it right. What is God actually being praised for? What is the audience (congregants) being taught concerning God? It ends up sounding like a serenade where the singer is telling the object of his/her affection what makes them special… but in the “I love the way you make me feel” realm.

 

Conclusion

For someone who is grounded in sound doctrine, this song is just empty. Singing Psalm 3 would be better. The self-focused, feel-good vagueness is a hallmark of the seeker-sensitive approach to worship. There is no clear acknowledgement of doctrine and it doesn’t really honor God for who He is or what He has done. This song is used to whip youth services into an “I’m loved for who I am” frenzy and emotional high but ultimately lacks substance. It doesn’t say anything patently false, but every statement is vague and lacks authority. I don’t recommend including this song in Sunday Worship… there are just too many other meaningful songs that can and should be song instead of this one. This song is to Sunday worship what Krispy Kreme is to a healthy breakfast.

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

DiM | “Messengers” Wins Grammy for Best CCM

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

February 10, 2015. So last night as I was driving home I heard the DJ of a local Christian radio station congratulate Lecrae and For King and Country for their Grammy. I thought, “oh yeah… we should probably take a look at what was honored at the Grammy’s for DiM Tuesday.”

So today we are going to take a look at the winners of the “Gospel” category of the Grammy’s. The winner for BEST CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC PERFORMANCE/SONG was indeed “Messengers” by Lecrae Featuring For King & Country. We’ll look at this song today, but before we do let’s look at the other nominees:

Now, one thing I couldn’t help but notice is that though we’ve been trying to review the top 20 Christian songs over the past year, we’ve only managed to cover 1 of the 5 nominated songs. Should I be using a different list? Should we try to add a DiM day in our week? I don’t know. Your feedback on this question would be most appreciated.

Okay, so let’s take a look at the song “Messengers”. First, I want to try to clarify that rap, like poetry, rarely makes clear objective statements. It is a genre that tries to poetically allude to societal themes or trends. Rap music is a part of a very dynamic rap culture that is intentionally kept in a state of flux. The vast majority of secular rap is filled with fad references and short-lived colloquialisms connected to even shorter-lived trends in clothing, entertainment, and civil unrest/outrage. A big part of secular rap culture is demonstrating how “fresh” you keep your language, tastes, and style. In fact, my use of “fresh” in that sense clearly signifies that I am not on the cutting edge of rap culture… and I’m okay with that. “Christian” rap is equally poetic and it needs to speak to a culture whose language changes faster than the headlines at CNN about a timeless, unchanging Truth of God’s Word. Rap is a genre of poetry, and poetry isn’t the best way to convey the clear message of the Gospel. God indeed breathed out the Psalms, but the Apostles didn’t write poetry in the New Testament, they wrote clearly and concisely as the Holy Spirit led them.

Music Videos

Lyrics (via K-Love)

Messengers by Lecrae (feat. For King & Country)

Calling all the messengers
Calling all the messengers
Calling all the messengers

We’ve been given a call
Been forgiven, risen
We livin’ to give him our all
Rise up from your past
That’s holding you down
This moment is all that matters
The future is now
How will the people know if we don’t tell ’em?
If we fail ’em
They’re stumbling in the dark
But the lighters that we carryin’
Don’t have to wonder your purpose
Or what you’re here for
Reflect his image
And show the world what he cares for

And I know it’s all right
And you know it’s your life
And we know that time’s running out
Can’t wait around cause

Calling all the messengers
Calling all the messengers
Calling all the messengers

I’ve been a lot of places where the scene ain’t pretty
I’ve seen plenty of hate, death and destruction
Where ignorance kills many
The blind leading the blind
We turnin’ a blind eye
That alone is a crime
We’ve got the power to life
I know that we make mistakes
Don’t let ’em keep you away
Mercy, love, and His grace
The reason we movin’ here
Speak out
Though we’ve never been qualified to do it
I ain’t earned it
I was loved into it
I’m brand new

Calling all the messengers
Calling all the messengers
Calling all the messengers

Publishing: Fellowship of the Unashamed Music (BMI), WB Music Corp./Method To The Madness/Shankel Songs (ASCAP) (Admin. by WB Music Corp.), Warner Tamerlane/Kilns Music/Shankel Songs (BMI) (Adm. by Warner Tamerlane), Ally Plane Music (BMI), Evident Music (ASCAP), Before I Die Publishing (BMI), Joseph Prielozny Music (ASCAP)/Unashamed Music (ASCAP) and Track or Die Music LLC (BMI)
Writer(s): Lecrae Moore, Joel Smallbone, Luke Smallbone, Ricky Jackson, Ran Jackson, Kenneth Chris Mackey, Joseph Prielozny and Torrance Esmond

Positive Elements

I believe the title and the choral refrain points to the Christian’s call to Evangelism. We can pluck a few lines out to support this assertion. One thing I’d like to point out is that the value of a messenger is in the Message being proclaimed and from Whom the Message originates. We are called to take the Message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Let’s look at how Paul writes of this in Romans 10.

Romans 10:11-17 (ESV)

11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 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.13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 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? 15 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!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

There is a line in the first verse of the song that seems to come from this passage, “How will the people know if we don’t tell ’em?” I wish the emphasis of this song was on the preaching of the Gospel, the sharing of the Message of repentance and the forgiveness of sin found only at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. That was Paul’s emphasis. That was Jesus’s emphasis. This is the emphasis of the Great Commission.

Concerns

If the lyric of the song is aimed at calling Christians to Evangelism… why then do we see this song pop up seemingly out of nowhere at the Grammy’s? Why has this song not been on our radar here? I believe that this song resonates more with a secularist activism crowd of artists and producers because it doesn’t emphasize preaching of Law (repentance) and Gospel (forgiveness)… rather the song seems to emphasize works. The world is eager to judge Christianity (and Christians) for their lack of works. This song offers up a few lines that seem to echo that sentiment.

This moment is all that matters The future is nowHow will the people know if we don’t tell ’em? If we fail ’em, They’re stumbling in the dark But the lighters that we carryin’ Don’t have to wonder your purpose Or what you’re here for Reflect his image And show the world what he cares for

What does “the future is now” and “this moment is all that matters” mean in a Christian context? Are these statements even remotely supported by Scripture? This is the kind of stuff you hear from a sales pitch or a motivational hype-man. Do something now! is what is conveyed. Reminds me of the song we reviewed “Do Something” by Matthew West. One of the positive lines we highlighted earlier is in bold. We connected that line to Romans 10. But when we look at this line and how it falls in the context of the song, we see the next line “If we fail ’em”… and it leads to the reflect his image and show the world what he cares for. It seems to fall in the “deeds not creeds” (which is a creed) category, or one of those “earn the right to preach the Gospel” philosophies. I’m not saying I think that is Lecrae’s intention, just pointing out that this seems to be the overall tenor of this song when we look at the lyrics apart from the music video.

The second verse has a line that I think secular activists key in on to further push the “deeds not creeds” mindset. There is an allegation by Lecrae that “We turnin’ a blind eye That alone is a crime”. This also changes the over-arching theme of “calling all the messengers”. There is now an implied rebuke to Christians for turning a blind eye to the state of… well, those places where the scene ain’t pretty that Lecrae has seen. He’s vague and generic, but the implication is much the same as Matthew West’s accusation that “we’re never going to change the world by standing still”. Lecrea’s song isn’t nearly as blatant, but the problem of a works-focused “social gospel” is still evident. Lecrae is “calling all the messengers” to pay attention and reflect Christ by showing what He loves and do something about the hate, death, destruction, and ignorance in the world.

The biggest concern with which I take issue is the avoidance of topics of Sin and Repentance. In the first verse, we are called, forgiven, and risen… but we still need to “rise up from a past that holds us down”. huh? God forgave you (when you got saved) and he raised you (from the death of your sins and trespasses) but its up to YOU to rise up from your past because it’s still holding you down? Law-Gospel-Law. There was a chance to clarify this concept in the second verse… and it was missed entirely. “We’ve got the power to life I know that we make mistakes Don’t let ’em keep you away Mercy, love, and His grace The reason we movin’ here Speak out Though we’ve never been qualified to do it I ain’t earned it I was loved into it I’m brand new“. So, we make “mistakes” that we “can’t let them keep us away”? How about, we Sin and are in continual need to repent and be forgiven, and that is the message we should be preaching to the Lost as well? Mercy, Love, and Grace are popular themes for the world to hear, but still no confession and repentance. Incidentally, the way to “not letting them keep us away” is to confess our sins one to another, forgive each other, and repent at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

The world is all for praising social activism that down-plays sin and repentance. This song won a Grammy, but I haven’t seen it on a Christian music top 20 chart. The world picked this song and championed it as what they want to see coming out of Gospel music. A world that tells Christians, don’t talk about sins, just demonstrate love. Don’t ask me to repent, go work to end world hunger, slavery, and climate change like all of us who reject your God do. You see, social activism can be overtly engaged by anyone, even those who’ve rejected the One True Living God. This song will likely see a lot more Christian radio airplay as the CCM industry gushes over it’s Grammy. The song is a poetic, generic rebuke that Christians aren’t “doing enough” because evil exists.

In closing, I’d like to remind all of the messengers, what Jesus warned.

John 15:18-25 (ESV) | The Hatred of the World

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin,but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.

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