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

Presentation1CCM Edition.

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

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

Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via Band Website)

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

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

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

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

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

Discussion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) | Benediction

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “What You Want” by Tenth Avenue North

disapproveCCM Edition.

June 14, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “What You Want” by Tenth Avenue North which currently sits at #18 on the20theCountdownMagazine.

Wow, what a catchy tune this song has. I’ve mentioned before that I have a soft spot, musically speaking, for EDM (electronic dance music). Tenth Avenue North has done a bang-up job on the music track. It’s progressive with a breakbeat/house feel. Quite compelling, musically. The vocal work is also very nice. So how do the lyrics fair? Well, the theology pushing the song is a bit off. It presents a picture of Christianity one of choosing to follow Jesus rather than of being forgiven by Jesus. If you’re thinking “what’s the difference” I hope to explain that a bit below. For now, let’s give the song a listen and take a look a the lyrics.

Official Lyric Video

 

Lyrics (via KLove)

Every day I’ve been feeling the pressure
I always gotta know the plan
It’s a weight that I’ve tried to shoulder
I thought I could, but I can’t

And I’m so tired of chasing dreams
When I am wired to let You lead

You’re changing my heart
To what what You want
To love how You love
And that is enough
There’s no greater plan
That I need to know
You only ask me to follow
And want what You, what You want
And want what You, what You want
And want what You, what You want
And want what You, what You want

Oh, there’s freedom in this surrender
I feel myself come alive
And the burden feels like a feather
When I let my agenda die

And I get so tired of my own dreams
When I am wired to let You lead

So many leaders
You ask for followers
So keep on leading
‘Cause You’re my Father

Publishing: © 2016 Mike Donehey Publishing Designee (SESAC) / Fellow Ships Music (SESAC) / So Essential Tunes (SESAC) (adm. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) / Colby Wedgeworth Music (ASCAP) / Fair Trade Music Publishing (ASCAP) (adm. by Music Service, Inc.). All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Writer(s): Mike Donehey, Jason Ingram, Colby Wedgeworth

Discussion

Verse 1. In the first verse we have the singer stating a problem of being unable to measure up or keep up. We don’t have a lot of context, but the singer is letting go of the idea that he (we, by extension) have to always know the plan and shoulder the burden, but we can’t. Here is the question that needs to be asked… where is this pressure coming from? Placing my best construction on this song, I’d say the pressure comes from bad theology and false teaching. The message of the Gospel isn’t that you’re going to change your world, the message of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ already has by His death and Resurrection.

Pre-Chorus. So tired of chasing dreams? Good… because nowhere in scripture is the charge to chase our dreams, and Christ did not die to resurrect dead dreams, He died so that we might have Eternal Life in Him. When I am wired to let You lead *ugh*. If this were a finely polished radio program, you’d likely hear the sound of a needle scratching across a vinyl record. In what sense are we wired to let the King of kings and LORD of lords, the Alpha and the Omega lead? If our best construction is that the song is calling out bad theology, well… here we see it being replaced with more bad theology. While there is a narrow context within which one might rightly use the phrase “follow Jesus”, it’s not the center of our confession. The disciples literally followed Jesus and were discipled by Him directly, and we sit under their teaching preserved for us in the Written Word of God. Whenever we hear preachers today talk about “following Jesus” I’ve noticed it rarely ends with preaching Christ and Him crucified; instead the discussion normally ends in the Law, and sometimes not even Biblical Law. We’ll get to that in a minute, but for now let’s take a moment to see how Scripture talks of following Christ and what it means for us today.

Following Christ

1 Corinthians 1:10-17 (ESV) | Divisions in the Church

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

I like to start here to point out another problem with today’s slogan of “following Christ” or “being a totally committed Christ-follower”… it’s not pointing to the Gospel, it’s often intended to establish a sort of piety pecking order. It was taking place in Corinth in Paul’s day, and it remains with us today. Paul isn’t preaching against baptism here, he’s saying the focus is in the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We see this reinforced in his letters to Timothy.

1 Timothy 4:1-6 (ESV)  Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.

2 Timothy 1:8-14 (ESV)Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

The Apostle Paul had a laser focus on the preaching and teaching of the Gospel, the sound words and good doctrine of Salvation through faith, not because of our works, but because of His own purpose and Grace in Christ Jesus. False teachers will often point to the idea of “following Christ” directly, while surreptitiously inserting themselves and their machinations as intermediaries for explaining and even evaluating your walk or your level of commitment in “following Christ”. Naturally, you should be following them.

There is a context within which we might treat Christ as an example to be followed, and the Apostle Peter points us in that direction in his first epistle.

1 Peter 2:13-25 (ESV) | Submission to Authority

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

In His suffering. Or as the Apostle Paul put it, joining in Christ’s suffering.

Colossians 1:24-28 (ESV) | Paul’s Ministry to the Church

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

And we’ve come full circle back to the very center of the Apostle Paul’s focus for ministry, not in trying to imitate God, but in preaching Christ and Him crucified for our sin.

Getting back to the pre-chorus discussion, I’m struggling to find a corrective mechanic for the notion that we are wired to let God lead us. Our flesh is corrupted by sin, bent in on itself… it is wired to serve itself. The Spirit desires the things of God, but we remain simultaneously sinner and saint, with the war waging in our members. So, it’s difficult for me to find a clear way to correct this line, and it is the thought that turns the song into its chorus.

Chorus. With the chorus, I’ve pretty  much abandoned my attempt at giving this song its best construction. At best this is an attempt to say that the work of the Holy Spirit within us is to change our desires such that they align with God’s. The flip-side of that coin suggests that we block the work of the Holy Spirit by not letting Him lead. From here on out, the song lyric stays stuck in this “Jesus is my example” in a way that leans heavily toward “I will one day be like He is” and I just don’t find that a clear or helpful way of looking at the Christian Life. I think it casts a shadow over the substitutionary atonement and looks past the fact that our righteousness is not our own, it’s Christ’s righteousness which is granted to us. This is winds up clouding how we share the Gospel, leading some to buy into the lie that the lost will come to ask for the Gospel because of looking at our lives. But the truth is that we still fall short, and we cannot live up to this standard of living in a way that proclaims Christ without words. It is Christ who fulfilled the Law in our place, so we preach Him and Him Crucified in our place so that by Grace through Faith we might be saved. I know some might be thinking, “but what about good works of faith?” We do good works for our neighbors as an outflow of our having been forgiven by God. Our good works server our neighbors as the result of our having been set free from and forgiven of sin by a gracious and loving God. Good works flow from the Gospel, not the Law, though the Law identifies what is a good work (love God, love neighbor).

Is there something to be said about the need to desire that which God desires? Absolutely… and that is why we have the Word of God preserved for us in Scripture by God the Holy Spirit. This song doesn’t point in that direction, instead it is pointing to some sort of permission we need to give God to then simply overwrite our desires. That’s not the picture we see in Scripture. That’s why I’ve been pointing out Paul’s focus on the preached Word of God.

Verse 2. This verse is bent in on the self, in our feelings. The object of our faith is external to us, not internal. Your feelings will fail you, Christ’s Word won’t. The Truth of the Promise from God that by faith in Christ Jesus that your sins are forgiven you doesn’t wane simply because you don’t feel forgiven. I completely understand wanting to feel forgiven, but we need to submit our feelings to the Truth found in God’s Word, and trust in that. It is your feelings and emotions that fail you, and even lie to you.

Bridge. It’s just odd. It’s like the “Jesus is my co-pilot” trope where we treat our LORD and Savior like some meek introvert who won’t do ANYTHING without our permission. That’s not the Jesus found in the Scriptures, friend.

Conclusion

As much as I love the musical part of this song, I don’t like the law-heavy theology which demotes Jesus down from LORD and Savior to an example we can follow and even permit to lead us. If your picture of Jesus is the gentle shepherd with the lamb across His shoulders… remember that lamb is YOU. He’s carrying YOU on His shoulders because you got lost and He had to go get you. The shepherd doesn’t need nor ask the sheep’s permission to lead them. His sheep hear His voice and follow because they are His sheep. This song presupposes a seeker-sensitive ideology where unbelievers have within them a will to know God and it’s just a matter of grabbing their attention so that they can finally “let God be their God”.

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 mystery that 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.

Amen, Indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “No Man is an Island” by Tenth Avenue North

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

There has been a lot of movement in the Top 20 Charts. Today we will be taking a look at the #7 song “No Man is an Island” by Tenth Avenue North.

Official Music Video

[youtube http://youtu.be/Zlw3jG2pE8w]

Lyrics (via Tenth Avenue North Website)

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND

I won’t run, I will stay
I’m not leaving you
I know there’s friction here
The struggle makes us new

I wish you never thought you had to go
Wish you never thought you had to leave
Together we can lift each other up
We can build a shelter for the weak

No man is an island, we can be found
No man is an island, let your guard down
You don’t have to fight me, I am for you
We’re not meant to live this life alone

I see fear in your eyes
There’s no safety here
Oh, my friend, let me in
I will share your tears

I wish you never thought you had to go
I wish you never thought you had to leave
We can always lift each other up
We can build a shelter for the weak, come on

No man is an island, we can be found
No man is an island, let your guard down
Please don’t try to fight me, I am for you
We’re not meant to live this life alone

Through trouble, rain, or fire
Let’s reach out to something higher
Ain’t no life outside each other
We are not alone
Through trouble, rain, or fire
Let’s reach out to something higher
Eyes open to one another
We are not alone

No man is alone
Why you try to fight me
We don’t have to do it alone
We don’t have to do it alone
We don’t have to do it alone

Concerns

The song isn’t Christian. It is primarily humanistic with a degree of spirituality. While the song is indeed encouraging, inspiring, and even generally definable as “good”, the lyrics in no way point to Jesus Christ. This song is no more Christian than “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers.

Positive Elements

If we are playing this song on the Christian Radio Station, it must be due to Tenth Avenue North being considered a Christian Band. I have no reason to doubt the members are indeed Christians. While the song does not point to Christ in any way, it can be taken a song of reminder that Christians are all members of the Body of Christ and should therefore not islands unto ourselves. Let’s look at some Scripture that supports that understanding.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (ESV) | The Full Assurance of Faith

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Romans 12 (ESV)

A Living Sacrifice

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. 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.

Gifts of Grace

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Marks of the True Christian

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Galatians 6:1-10 (ESV)| Bear One Another’s Burdens

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something,when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Conclusion

This isn’t a Christian song, but as far as songs go in general it’s not bad. This band isn’t a church worship band, nor do they market themselves overtly as Evangelists or pastors or teachers. They are a professional band making a living playing music well and keeping a generally positive message (from a humanistic/moralistic perspective) in their music.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge