Archive for the ‘music’ Category

A Prayer for Spring

Posted: April 17, 2013 in creation, music, nature, prayer

Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise

– Rich Mullins, “The Color Green

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Third Day and Brandon Heath perform Rich Mullins’ eternally-great song, “Creed” (accompanied by dulcimer hammers and all!):

And I believe what I believe
It’s what makes me who I am
I did not make it, no it is making me 
It is the very truth of God and not
The invention of any man

Also check out this sweet video of Garrett Viggers ripping it up on the dulcimers all by himself:

Reversing the Gospel

Posted: September 30, 2011 in books, faith, false teaching, gospel, music, theology

This morning, I heard something on the radio that almost drove me to tears.  My wife will attest that I walked in the door quite upset, immediately launching into a rant about what I had just experienced.  At the risk of seeming like a grumpy curmudgeon, I want to share what caused me such distress and draw people’s attention to a problem that seems quite prevalent in American Evangelicalism today.  My hope is that my reflections will drive us to the Cross, God’s wondrous redemption of sinners.

My Terrible Morning

As I was driving in my car, the song “Someone Worth Dying For” by Mikeschair started to play.  If you aren’t familiar with the song (I wasn’t), check out their website and then open up the music player.  Here is the first verse:

You might be the wife, waiting up at night
You might be the man, struggling to provide
Feeling like it’s hopeless
And maybe you’re the son, who chose a broken road
Maybe you’re the girl, thinking you’ll end up alone
Praying God can you hear me?
Oh God are you listening?

So far so good.  The songwriter is hitting on an important reality that many Christians struggle with: feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and despair.  He continues with the chorus:

Am I more than Flesh and bone?
Am I really something beautiful
And I wanna believe, I wanna believe
I’m not just a wandering soul
That you don’t see it and you don’t know
And I wanna believe, Jesus help me believe that I
Am someone worth dying for

To be honest, I was completely shocked when I heard this.  It’s not that his first two questions are wrong – like I said before, he’s hitting on a real struggle that all of us will face at some point in our lives.  However, his petition to God and (implied) answer is, in my humble opinion, an utter reversal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Do you see what is happening?  The songwriter has stripped faith of its proper object (God’s lavish and undeserved love toward sinners in Christ), instead directing his despairing listeners to trust…in themselves.  Not only is this theologically reprehensible, it doesn’t actually offer any real or lasting hope.  Why?  Because we’re not worth dying for.  That’s the point…

After a short bridge and a repetition of the chorus, he continues:

You’re worth it
You can’t earn it
That the cross has proven
That you’re sacred and blameless
Your life has purpose

When considering the first two lines together, it seems as if he is saying that we can’t earn God’s love because we already have it, according to our inherent worth.  Even if he is linking this worth with Christ’s saving death on the cross, it still misses the point.  We aren’t any more deserving of God’s grace as Christians.  Our salvation doesn’t give us license to begin to look to our own self-worth for confidence and hope.  Rather, we must still look to Jesus, “our righteousness and sanctification and redemption,” (1 Cor. 1:30).  Sadly, Christ seems oddly absent from all of this, except when the singer is asking Jesus to help him believe in himself…

My point is not to diminish God’s love for his people.  The cross does indeed prove the Father’s incredible love for us!  His love is truly incalculable and should always enable us to, “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16; cf. Eph. 3:12)!  But it demonstrates this love precisely because “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Rom. 5:8).

The rest of the song repeats what has already been mentioned.

I’m Not Trying to Be a Jerk…

I don’t bring all of this up to maliciously malign this band; I’m sure their intentions were good.  However, it seems very clear to me that they have been careless in writing this song, offering an answer that is not really the answer, a hope that will ultimately disappoint, and a gospel that is not really good news.

Perhaps, the most dangerous thing about this song is its “Christian” cloak, lulling people into unthinking consumption.  A continual diet of this type of “gospel” will inevitably impact the way a person thinks about their salvation.  Is it something that God did wholly of His mercy and grace?  Or was it something that I had coming, because “I’m worth it…”?

This is why Christians need to be constantly reminded of the true Gospel, as proclaimed in the Scriptures.  There are innumerable false gospels out there, subtly seeking to lure us away from trusting solely in the grace of God.  Tullian Tchividjian hits on this exact issue in his new book, Surprised by Grace, when he writes,

I once assumed the gospel was simply what non-Christians must believe in order to be saved, but after  they believe it, they advance to deeper theological waters…[However,] as Tim Keller explains it, the gospel isn’t simply the ABCs of Christianity, but the A-through-Z.  The gospel doesn’t just ignite the Christian life; it’s the fuel that keeps Christians going every day.  Once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel but to move them more deeply into it. (16)

Wise words that we would do well to remember and heed, especially when we’re feeling the weight of despair, sadness, and sorrow.  When those times come, embrace your unworthiness.  Then remind yourself of this glorious truth:

You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:1-9)

The Glory of Grace

Posted: April 25, 2011 in family, god, gospel, humility, love, music

A few days ago, while driving home from an ice cream date with my wife, Tenth Avenue North’s song “Oh My Dear” began to play on our car stereo.  If you have never heard to the song before, I’d encourage you to listen to it.

The songwriter recalls a difficult time when his future wife, with tear-filled eyes and a trembling voice, confessed past sins to him that had previously been kept hidden.  He sings,

You slowly lifted your head from your hands
You said, “I just don’t think that you’ll understand,
You’ll never look at me that way again if you knew what I did.”
And so your tears fell and melted the snow
You told me secrets nobody had known
But I never loved you more even though now I knew what you did

The song’s refrain powerfully captures this husband’s tender response:

Oh, my dear I’ll wait for you
Grace tonight will pull us through

Until the tears have left your eyes
Until the fears can sleep at night
Until the demons that you’re scared of disappear inside
Until this guilt begins to crack and the weight falls from your back
Oh, my dear I’ll keep you in my arms tonight

I must confess that as I listened to the song, tears came to my eyes.  I was quickly overwhelmed by the sublime power of the story.  A vivid, almost ineffable, feeling of wonder came upon me.  However, this sudden swell of emotion was not due to the fact that I can directly relate to the songwriter’s experience; my lovely wife, by God’s grace, has never confessed any serious past sins to me, and I don’t think she ever will.  Simply put, empathy was not the driving factor in my emotion.

Rather, what stirred my affections so powerfully was the delicate and humble display of grace from a loving husband to his hurting wife.  It was the resplendent manifestation of kindness, mercy, and forgiveness…in the midst of sin.  As the sound filled my ears, I was truly awed by this powerful expression of tender, sin-covering love.  My first thought was, “Wow.  That’s true love.  I want to love my wife like that.”  The words “beautiful” and “glorious” resounded repeatedly in my mind.

However, as my wife and I sat together, hand in hand, my thoughts quickly shifted away from us.  I began to understand the sense of awe that I was feeling.  I realized that the beauty that had captivated my attention and affections was actually a reflection of something greater…something more beautiful, something more glorious.  And then John Piper’s words burst into my mind, like a sunrise in the mountains, lighting up the majestic splendor all around me:

The apex of the glory of Christ is the glory of his grace—treating people infinitely better than they deserve—giving himself for the everlasting joy of the worst of sinners who will have him as their highest Treasure…

At the all-important pivot of human history, the worst sin ever committed served to show the greatest glory of Christ and obtain the sin-conquering gift of God’s grace…

In the death of Christ, the powers of darkness did their best to destroy the glory of the Son of God. This is the apex of evil. But instead they found themselves quoting the script of ancient prophecy and acting the part assigned by God. Precisely in putting Christ to death, they put his glory on display—the very glory that they aimed to destroy. The apex of evil achieved the apex of the glory of Christ. The glory of grace. (Spectacular Sins, pp. 11-12)

The thing that stopped me in my tracks, that grabbed my affections and wouldn’t let go, was the glory of grace.

I realized that the gracious love of this husband toward his wife was a dim reflection of the greatest display of gracious love in all of cosmic history – the cross of Jesus Christ.  The song was a signpost, directing my longing heart on to the more brilliant Grace – God-incarnate, sacrificed for sinners.

“In love [God] predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight…” – Ephesians 1:4b-8

God, thank you for this simple song, for it has helped me to understand, if only a little more deeply, the incomparable apex of your infinite glory: the glory of your grace.

The Power of the Cross

Posted: April 22, 2011 in christianity, gospel, Jesus, music

The Power of the Cross

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the pow’r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev’ry bitter thought,
Ev’ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
“Finished!” the vict’ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the pow’r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

The Power of the Cross
Words and Music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend 
Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music

Keith & Kristyn Getty: By Faith

Posted: April 15, 2011 in music, video

By Faith

By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation’s grand design
In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness
Who walk by faith and not by sight

By faith our fathers roamed the earth
With the power of His promise in their hearts
Of a holy city built by God’s own hand
A place where peace and justice reign

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight

By faith the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear
With the power to break the chains of sin and death
And rise triumphant from the grave

By faith the church was called to go
In the power of the Spirit to the lost
To deliver captives and to preach good news
In every corner of the earth

We will stand…

By faith this mountain shall be moved
And the power of the gospel shall prevail
For we know in Christ all things are possible
For all who call upon His name

We will stand…

Words and Music by Keith & Kristyn Getty
& Stuart Townend

Amazon.com Embraces the Cloud

Posted: March 29, 2011 in misc, music, technology

Today, Amazon.com unveiled it’s new Cloud Drive and Cloud Player.  Here’s the announcement: