A Song On Who Deserves The Good Music

Why should the devil have all the good music? It’s still a valid question. I was probably nine years old when my big brother bought this album from a Christian book store. Years later I’ve brought this song back on the playlist and my kids love it. Music, as a powerful and beautiful element of this creation, does not belong to the enemy, though it has often been hijacked. Pleasure, as dear uncle Wormwood reminds us, is God’s territory. As one of the most powerful tools humans have to convey emotion and words, it’s no mistake that musical worship has been a part of the Church (and God’s people before that) from the very beginning. And one of Islam’s – and Christian fundamentalism’s – biggest blunders was when it declared most music sinful.

A Song on the Coming Feast

My heart is regularly encouraged by meditating on the coming marriage feast of the lamb. Seeing this future event by faith – and the innumerable feasts that will follow it in eternity – has been a source of repeated help and hope for my family. The words of this song by Sandra McCracken have helped in this regard for a number of years now. The feel of McCracken’s original fits well with this age of suffering saints who await the feast.

Lo and behold, the song also now has a Christian Soul Cover – a style which, at least for me, feels like music that previews the joys of the feast arrived. I find I am helped by both styles, resonating as they do with the already/not yet nature of these promises. I’ve posted them both here for your consideration.

We will feast in the house of Zion 
We will sing with our hearts restored 
He has done great things we will say together 
We will feast and weep no more 

We will not be burned by the fire 
He is the Lord our God 
We are not consumed by the flood 
Upheld protected gathered up 

In the dark of night before the dawn 
My soul be not afraid 
For the promised morning oh how long 
Oh God of Jacob be my strength 

Every vow we’ve broken and betrayed 
You are the faithful one 
And from the garden to the grave 
Bind us together bring shalom

“We Will Feast in the House of Zion” by Sandra McCracken

A Song for the Waiting

“So don’t you find it strange; That God He made four seasons; And only one spring”

-Chris Renzama, “Let the Ground Rest.”

A well-written line from a very good song. The musicians in the video wearing masks adds a poignancy to the lyrics also. What a year it’s been of difficult waiting for so many. In many ways this past year reminds me of one of the reasons for the Babylonian captivity – the failure of Israel to let the ground lie fallow and enjoy its sabbaths (2 Chron 36:21). So God intervened and gave the land seventy years of sabbaths. Perhaps in our mad rushing around, this year (or two) of global pandemic is God forcing a restless the world to actually rest and let some things lie fallow for a while.

Regardless, I know that I often need the reminder this song provides to rest and trust in God’s slower-than-I-expected timing.

A Song For Those Wanting to Run Away

Many believers hear an occasional voice that tells them that life would be better if they would chuck it all and run away from God and from their believing community. I know I have heard this voice at times. This song weaves together the logic of Romans 8 and Psalm 139. Where can we possibly run from the God who is everywhere, from the God who even dwells within us? And why would we want to run when he’s already told us that nothing can separate us from his love? Running, far from delivering the kind of peace we are looking for, would instead make us miserable because of the dogged pursuit of the Spirit – who would lovingly never let us go. And he would be kind and right to deliver us from our temporary insanity. I know this thought has stabilized me during particularly discouraging moments. I am helped by this song when it comes around on my playlist, then today I found a medley where John Mark McMillan merges it with the song, “Stand by Me.” Listen for the transition at 4:26. So good!

There is not a man or a beast
Nothing on the land or underneath
Oh, nothing that could ever come between
The love You have for me

I could lay my head in Sheol
I could make my bed at
The bottom of the darkness deep, oh
But there is not a place I could escape You

Your heart won’t stop
Coming after me (Coming after me)
Your heart won’t stop
Coming after me (Coming after me)
Your heart won’t stop
Coming after, coming after me

There is not an angel of the stars
There is not a devil in the dark
Oh, nothing that could change
The way You are, the love You have for me

I could lay my head in Sheol
I could make my bed at
The bottom of the darkness deep, oh
But there is not a place I could escape You

Your heart won’t stop
Coming after me (Coming after me)
Your heart won’t stop
Coming after me (Coming after me)
Your heart won’t stop
Coming after, coming after me

-“Heart Won’t Stop” by John Mark McMillan

A Song For When We’ve Denied Him

I really appreciate this song which explores Peter’s betrayal of Jesus – his pride on the front end and his lament afterward. It helps me also remember and lament the ways in which I too have denied Christ. There is comfort in knowing that Christ knows all along – just as he did for Peter – how we will fall. And that he mercifully continues to grant us the promise of true repentance, “when you turn…” Peter’s denials and restoration offer great hope for all of us.

Some select lyrics:

When she asked her question

That servant girl she broke my heart

I knew she was the message

That You had spoken all along

And two behind her followed in the prints her feet had made

Said they’d seen me walking with You, said my tongue gave me away

But I swore against their charges, claimed You I’d never known

Just in time to hear the bird You promised, lift its head and crow

Lift its head and crow

Oh Jesus I wish You were wrong wrong wrong

Wrong about me

“Jesus is Denied by Peter” by Poor Bishop Hooper

A Song of Refuge And Reggae

I appreciate how the serious themes of this song contrast with the upbeat reggae style. It’s this kind of unexpected juxtaposition that makes me want to lean into a song. The music is feel-good music (reminds me of my youth in reggae-loving Melanesia), but the lyrics deal with those times when we are feeling anything but good. Anxiety, spiritual depression, and emotional chaos push the song writers, and us, to desperately seek refuge somewhere. Will we find our refuge in the One who offers himself to us unconditionally, regardless of the state of our emotions and feelings?

Check out “Hiding Place” by Chris Howland on the YouTube link above.

A Fight Song From Revelation 19:1

A friend I’ve been praying for for three years came to faith a few days ago. We were completely surprised. His best friend and I met with him at a coffeeshop as he confessed his brokenness and sin and need for true faith. Among the passages we looked at together was Luke 15, the parable of the lost sheep and the rejoicing of heaven when one sinner repents. This is likewise a song of celebration. I love how this song steadily builds musically, grounded in the lyrics of praise from Revelation 19:1. Make sure to listen to the whole thing, especially for the transition at 2:35 and for what comes around the 4:20 mark.

I can hardly listen to this sound without tearing up. Imagine the kind of musical beauty and worship coming in heaven.

A Song of Welcome for the Unfaithful

When I saw the title of this song, “O Come, All Ye Unfaithful,” I thought it was a typo. But just before I texted my pastor who sent out the service plan to make a joke about it, I decided I’d look it up, just in case it actually was a real song. Not only is it a real song, it’s an amazing song.

O come all you unfaithful 
Come weak and unstable 
Come know you are not alone 
O come barren and waiting ones 
Weary of praying, come 
See what your God has done 

Christ is born, 
Christ is born 
Christ is born for you 

O come bitter and broken 
Come with fears unspoken 
Come taste of His perfect love 
O come guilty and hiding ones 
There is no need to run 
See what your God has done 

He’s the Lamb who was given 
Slain for our pardon 
His promise is peace 
For those who believe 

So come, though you have nothing 
Come He is the offering 
Come see what your God has done

“O Come, All Ye Unfaithful” by Sovereign Grace Music