DiM | “Broken Things” by Matthew West

disapproveCCM Edition.

July 18, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Broken Things” by Matthew West which currently sits at #8 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

I dislike this song very much. It’s an anthem of synergism with a focus on “me”. It’s a pious humble-brag of sorts along an, I’m broken, but God uses broken things not perfect things so I’m what God’s looking for, theme. This song earns a spot on the Disapproved list. Let’s watch the video and read through the lyrics.

Official Music Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

If grace is a kingdom
I’ve stopped at the gate
Thinking I don’t deserve to pass through after all of the mistakes I’ve made
But I heard a whisper
As Heaven bent down
Said, “Child, don’t you know that the first will be last and the last get a crown?”

Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring You so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I am all Yours

The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use
It’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
The misfit heroes You chose
Tell me there’s hope for sinners like me

Grace is a kingdom
With gates open wide
There’s seat at the table just waiting for you
So, come on inside

Publishing: © 2017 Atlas Music Publishing / House Of Story Music Publishing / Two Story House Music / Highly Combustible Music (ASCAP) / Housermania Music/ (ASCAP) (admin. by Amplified Administration)
Writer(s): Jason Houser, AJ Pruis and Matthew West

Discussion

Okay, this song upset me greatly. It starts with a goofy hypothetical and takes a nosedive from there. The video brings no corrective clarity. The summary of this song is “let God use you for Greatness despite your broken state!” That’s a theology of glory, it’s a pious version of the humble-brag. It’s about how awesome we are because we’re broken and we just need to see ourselves as god sees us…. no. That’s not the truth of our condition under sin and it certainly isn’t the Gospel of Grace. Even that last line is junk. It’s almost a partial quote… but it isn’t.

Verse 1. We start with a hypothetical question that winds up being presented as truth at the end of the song. If Grace is a kingdom… Stop. Why are we separating God’s Grace as its own thing and defining it as a kingdom? A kingdom is defined by its King. God the Son (Jesus) is King, not an abstract notion of “Grace”. Hear me, I’m not saying God’s Grace is abstract, I’m saying this lyric is treating the concept of God’s Grace in the abstract, and then comparing it to something else that is God’s, His Kingdom. The singer has stopped at the gate of God’s Kingdom, and all of heaven bent down to tell him he gets a crown? Man it takes a lot of work to unravel this coded speech to make it in any way redeemable. The average listener will simply pluck out word pictures and then proof text them in isolation. If you have to deconstruct a lyric into segments that might be valid in different contexts, you’re no longer evaluating the lyric. You’re on a theological scavenger hunt.

Chorus. First line is okay, we could go somewhere with this. We are beggars in front of the King. But instead of pointing the beggar to the King who gives good gifts, takes our rags and clothes us in the Righteousness of Christ… we go right back to synergism, the notion of “giving ourselves to God” so that He can use us. Folks, this is NOT the point of the Gospel. God doesn’t need us to “give ourselves over to Him” for Him to use us. He is Sovereign, God used unbelievers like Balaam and Judas to bring about His purposes. The point of the Gospel is not that God finally gets to use us… it’s being reconciled to Him, forgiveness of sins, the promise of the Resurrection in Jesus Christ, our adoption out of the kingdom of death and darkness into the Kingdom of Eternal Life with our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Verse 2. The hope being begged for is still the wrong hope. It’s a hope “to be used” when the primary Promise of the Gospel is the hope of Salvation!

Outro/Closing Verse. This is where that initial hypothetical is turned into a declaration. I’m annoyed by this abstraction of Grace being the Kingdom. It’s vague, semi-gnostic, gobbledygook.

There are clear ways of encouraging the body of Christ in the hope of their salvation by Grace through Faith in Christ Jesus and in stir up one another to love and good works without diving into the nonsensical. Let’s look at Scriptural encouragement in all of its clarity:

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (ESV) | Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Colossians 1:3-23 (ESV) We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Colossians 2:6-15 (ESV) | Alive in Christ

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (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.

Conclusion

This song is an altar-call anthem, an attempt to motivate someone to “give themselves to God” despite their unworthiness… by actually making that unworthiness into what makes you worthy? “Cause God uses broken things, you’re broken, so let God use you. It starts on the wrong foot and doesn’t recover. It’s a confusion of Law and Gospel, diminishing the Law and completely misrepresenting the Gospel and turning into Law (give yourself to God falls under the first/greatest commandment). This song falls under the Disapproved category.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) 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, 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 | “Mended” by Matthew West

disapproveCCM Edition.

September 27, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Mended” by Matthew West which currently sits at #20 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

This song is written as a sort of love song from God to the Christian. As such, Matthew West is speaking in the place of God to offer encouragement to the listener. I generally advise against this approach because it leaves room to speak in God’s Name what He hasn’t spoken (runs the risk of blasphemy). There are some themes in this song that I have no doubt many find personally engouraging and even precious. Please understand that we understand there are specific hurts that need to be addressed, but we need to address them Biblically. I’m not discrediting the hurts that this song is targeting. We all have real hurts. Rather than having someone like Matthew West put words in God’s mouth, we really should be pointed to God’s Word and His Promises. Let’s watch the lyric video and then dive into the lyrics.

MatthewWestVEVO (Lyric Video)

Another hyper-individualistic music video. One hurting person struggling alone, the singer (also alone) offering words of comfort to the hurting person. Christianity isn’t an individualistic thing. Christians are not individuals unto themselves; rather, we are members of the Body of Christ. Interconnected and corporately engaged as the Bride of Christ. We are the sheep, Jesus is the Good Shepherd. A sheep on its own is lost. Wolves seek to islate and seperate a lamb from the flock, so that they can devour it in solitude without having to deal with the Shepherd. We’ll deal with the lyrics now, but I wanted to address what seems to be a growing trend. A spirituality that marginalizes the Body of Christ and emphasizes the individual experience leads into the snare of mysticism. This is a dangerous trend in American Evangelicalism.

Lyrics (via KLove)

How many times can one heart break?
It was never supposed to be this way
Look in the mirror, but you find someone
You never thought you’d be

Oh, but I can still recognize
The one I love in your tear stained eyes
I know you might not see it now
So lift your eyes to me

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home
You see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet
When you see wounded, I see mended

You see your worst mistake
But I see the price I paid
There’s nothing you could ever do
To lose what grace has won

So hold on, it’s not the end
This is where love’s work begins
I’m making all things new
And I will make a miracle of you

I see my child, My beloved
The new creation you’re becoming
You see the scars from when you fell
But I see the stories they will tell
You see worthless, but I see priceless
You see pain, but I see a purpose
You see unworthy, undeserving
But I see you through eyes of mercy

Publishing: © 2015 Highly Combustible Music/Atlas Music Publishing/House Of Story Music (ASCAP) All rights administered by Atlas Music Publishing obo itself, Highly Combustible Music and House Of Story Music.
Writer: Matthew West

Discussion

The song is presented in a parental tone like a song of encouragement. I think the first time I listened to the song I was hoping the singer was going to be in the role of parent, big brother, or even a Pastor. But the final line in some of the stanzas remove that understanding of it, lines like “So lift your eyes to me” and “I will make a miracle of you”. So, the singer is speaking in the place of God. The listener is someone who is hurting. No mention of repentance, faith, just hurting and what society would call a “broken self image”. Is the hurt real? Yes. Do Christians still suffer from broken self image? Yes. Christians still struggle with sin and its consequences. We still live in a broken world and walk in broken flesh. So whether the person being sung to (the woman in the video) is a believer or an unbeliever the answer to the struggle being presented is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, repentance and the forgiveness of sins. For the Christian, it becomes ever so important to emphasize “your sins are forgiven”. When Satan cannot prevent the Gospel from being preached to an individual, he shifts into full accuser mode, lying to the believer prompting and prodding him to believe that now its up to the believer to maintain his own salvation. But that is not how the enemy is conquered. Christ has already defeated sin, death and the devil.

Revelation 12:10-11 (ESV) And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, forthey loved not their lives even unto death.

The word of their testimony is not a testiment of themselves or who they’ve become; rather, it is the word of their testimony of who Christ Is.

Verse 1
The first four lines are odd as far as who is the one voicing these thoughts. Is the singer anticipating the questions in the audience’s mind? We’ll suspend this question a bit for the sake of artistry. What’s the dilemma being presented? Disappointment. We could assume “failure” or “misfortune”, but the wording is intentionally vague, because the point of this lyric is to apply to as broad a spectrum of emotional hurting as possible. Right or wrong, at this point we can only put our finger on disappointment in what the listener sees in the mirror, because it doesn’t match what the listener thought “should be”. The next four lines facilitate the turn from the problem to the proposed solution without offering any clarity. The song is banking on the listener finding their own struggle in this first verse and then rightly coopting the solution for themselves. Is it a sin to turn out differently from what you thought you’d be? Not necessarily. In some cases, the sin could be in what you’ve become… or the sin could be in the desire of being something you aren’t.  The song is vague and completely wide open for any interpretation… because the focal point isn’t a knowlege of sin but the emotion of disappointment.

Chorus
Well, this chorus could almost be a Joel Osteen lecture set to music. Rather than offering up the objective truth of God’s Word, the song engages in reshaping what we “see”. This is supposed to be voicing from God’s perspective. The problem is it’s still speaking of things only as potential truths. God’s Word isn’t written in potentials. God has revealed Himself in Scripture, and His Promises are True. Our forgiveness is assured in Christ Jesus. Our resurrection is also assured in Christ Jesus. What is this song offering as the solution to the problem? An unseen progression of mending and goodness. It’s a very “positive” declaration of “you’re looking at it the wrong way”. Just change how you look at it, how you think about it, and you’ll see. Seriously, this is very Joel Osteen here.

Verse 2
At least here we’re getting close to the idea of sin. Sin is the central problem to all of this temporal life. All of it. Sin. Not mistakes, sin. Our flesh is sinful. Our hearts are sinful. The solution isn’t some hidden potential within us… the solution is Christ and His Blood that was shed for the forgiveness of sin. The song that won’t name sin, cannot offer forgiveness. We get that here, too. Still a perception only sort of problem here. You see it one way, but God sees it another way, so it’s all good, you’ll see… someday. The last four lines of this verse are quite bold. This is where love’s work begins? In this emotion? No. Constantly moving the goal posts is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We don’t encourage Christians to keep looking for the moment they feel saved, we point them back to the It is Finished when Christ secured their salvation.

Romans 6:1-14 (ESV) | Dead to Sin, Alive to God

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old selfwas crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Notice how Paul isn’t talking about your baptism or your Salvation in “potential” terms; rather, he’s working forward from what God has already done for you. This is what it means to preach the Gospel to believers. To remind them of what God has already done for them, that He has already paid the penalty, forgiven you of sin, and sealed you in His Righteousness. We do look forward to the Last Day, not for our own earthly perfection, but for the Day of the Resurrection.

1 Peter 1:3-5 (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.

Instead of constantly looking for an indication you are saved, or an internal aknowledgement that you’ve been mended, trust in the Work Christ has done to save you.

Now, to the hurting, the discouraged, the disappointed, and even the depressed… place your hope and trust in Christ Jesus, who laid down His life for you, for the forgiveness of your sin, so that He can clothe you in His Righteosness. So that by His Grace, through Faith, God no longer sees your unrightousness… He sees His Son, Jesus Christ. He’s not relying on your “potential”, He sees Christ.

Isaiah 61:10 (ESV)
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV)
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

We, the Church, the corporate Body of Christ, are His Bride. He washes us, cleanses us, sanctifies us, clothes us, and covers us in Salvation and Righteousness, to present us to Himself holy and without blemish. This is made objectively clear in God’s Written Word, despite what you feel. When your feelings betray you, hold onto the objective Word of God.

Conclusion

This song is trying to do a good thing, but going about it sloppily. The hurting and the lowly in spirit need to be comforted. But we need to do so in Truth and we need to point them to God’s Word. It’s dangerous to start creatively speaking in God’s place. I disapprove of the approach and focus of this song, but not the goal. The goal was to offer encouragement to the broken and the weary. There is hope and comfort for all, and it isn’t something that has to be imagined, preach the Gospel to the believers, too. We need to hear that our sins are forgiven in Jesus’ Name, that we’ve been clothed by His righteosness. Call the haughty, arrogant, and proud to repentance through the preaching of the Law… but one who is aware of his/her sin needs the healing balm of the Gospel preached.

Romans 16:24-27 (ESV) | Doxology

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mysterythat was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! 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 (Bonus) | “Do Something” by Matthew West

Okay, so I was going to make today’s DiM post about my listening experience from last night’s grocery run, but I decided to make it more of a bonus edition since the song isn’t on any charts I reviewed.

We are going to take a slightly different approach to this bonus post. I want to give a sneak peek into what goes on in my head when a song grabs my attention while I’m driving in the car. Have you ever noticed how quickly your mind can race when given the right mix of anticipation, frustration, or excitement? So we are going to walk through the song as if it were playing for the first time, and I’ll share the thoughts I had as the song played…

Lyrics (via K-Love.com)

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”

Whoa there… God has done everything for us, don’t go blaming Him for the sin in the world

Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”

Uhm… the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, dude. Maybe this is a Job type of story where Matt West is about to be corrected in his thinking by the Word of God or something

He said, “I did,…{pause for dramatic effect}

Okay, cool, God is going to remind Matt of what He did at the Cross, right?

“… I created you”

::sigh::

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

So… the direct revelation from God regarding the problems of sin in the world is that God created us to “do something”? Really?

So, what is it, pray-tell, that we should be doing that will bring an end to all this pain?

I’m so tired of talking
About how we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
I’m gonna do something”

So the reason the world is in sin is supposedly because we’ve been living lives of apathy, lives with no desire and a flame won’t do but we want a fire. My wife chuckled at this line and said “isn’t a fire a flame?” to which I smiled (while the chorus repeated) and said, “touché”. Still the song nagged at me… so apparently we’ve moved on to thinking that even asking God to do something is part of living the apathetic life, huh? I guess we are not asking God for this fire that isn’t a flame?

We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill
But we’re never gonna change the world

::sigh::

By standing still
No we won’t stand still
No we won’t stand still
No we won’t stand still

Wow… that was awful. The irony of this situation, is that the performer of this song never gets round to saying what it is we should be doing. People pay money to hear him sing a song of judgement for somehow not having already put an end to sin and death here on the earth.

God did do something

Romans 5  (ESV)

1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 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. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 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.

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 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.

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Don’t set aside the Gospel of Jesus Christ to sell a music album or push the false-gospel of social activism. Stop co-opting the social justice nonsense, the Great Commission isn’t about “changing the world”, but about preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

John 3:16-21 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

I pray this song disappears from the Christian airwaves. Thoroughly troubling. Apparently the music video is all about the Good Works that answer the “do something” appeal… I’ll share it here for fairness sake, but there is no music video when this song plays on the radio.

[youtube http://youtu.be/b_RjndG0IX8]

So yeah… “Do good works… or else… the world won’t change”.

In Christ,
Jorge