New CD for Church

One of the most played CDs for me recently has been the new album by Vertical Church Band titled ‘The Rock Won’t Move.‘ If you attend my church you’ll recognize some of the songs as new ones we’ve started singing this year.

The album opens with a very catchy tune called ‘Found In You’ that starts with everyone singing “Oh” and slowly building until everyone is joining in the singing “We’re reaching out, to welcome you God.” This is a great song that could be used as a welcome song at church.

The next song is my least favorite song on the album, which I found interesting because it seems that a lot of other people really like it called ‘I’m Going Free (Jailbreak).’ I’m not planning on doing it at church.

The following two songs are the best on the album both lyrically and musically. We’ve done both of them at church during our sermon series on the church. The first is the title track ‘The Rock Won’t Move’ which talks about God being our rock that won’t move. Despite everything else shaking around us God’s Word and love endures. The second song is ‘Worthy, Worthy’ that is similar in content to ‘Revelation Song.’ The verses tell how God’s ways are so much higher than ours and that we will never be able to comprehend and builds to the chorus which says,

Holy holy is the Lord God almighty
Worthy worthy is Your name
All of heaven joins the universe ever crying
Worthy worthy is Your name

It’s very easy to sing and is a wonderful description of who God is.

I’m planning to do the next song ‘I Will Follow’ at some point in the future as well. This song addresses our need to press in to God in both the good times and the bad “I believe and I will follow You.” This song thematically is similar to the classic ‘Blessed Be Your Name’ where we are reminded to praise God no matter what comes our way.

The rest of the songs on the CD are potentials for us to do in the future, but aren’t as strong as the previous ones I’ve mentioned. This CD is worth sticking on repeat in your car and adding to your repertoire of songs your congregation sings at church. Have you found any other CDs recently that have been great congregational songs?

Is Jesus Greater Than Religion?

A couple years ago Jeff Bethke broke on the scene with his viral YouTube video ‘Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus‘ which has since racked up over 26 million views. This led to him being a pretty hot commodity in the Christian community and has given him quite the opportunity to share the Gospel. One of the ways he has worked the spread the Gospel is through the book “Jesus > Religion” which came out last month.

In an open, real and gritty look at his life, Jeff shares  his struggles with God, but also how God has continued to reveal himself to Jeff throughout his difficult life, and with chapter titles like ‘Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?” I found myself chuckling but also very much relating to the themes Jeff addresses. When the video first came out there was a bit of discussion from within The Gospel Coalition circle on if Jesus really does hate religion. So aside from that, I really enjoyed the book. (But when Lecrae writes the intro to the book, it’s hard to not look forward to it)

One of the toughest chapters for me to read was the 4 chapter, “Religion Makes Enemies/Jesus Makes Friends.” This chapter deals with divisions in the church which is one of the issues that I face on a regular basis. The main issue he addresses is homosexuality. Only he doesn’t address it from a hypothetical perspective, but from a personal perspective. His mom was openly gay, and he struggled with how he should interact with her as a Christian.

In this chapter was one of the most profound statements in the book. Jeff says,

Last time I checked, I was my own worst enemy. No one has caused me more grief, pain, or heartache than I have. The Bible rarely tells me to fight against someone who doesn’t believe what I believe, but it frequently tells me to fight against my sin and the disease that’s drawing my away from Jesus.

The whole book is definitely worth reading, and one I would recommend for church small groups/missional communities. At the end of each chapter is some questions to work through the material in a practical way. This makes applying the book a very simple process. I’d keep it on your shelf and loan out on a regular basis.

I’d also check out Tim Challies’ review of this book.

What’s Wrong With “The Bible”

I had the opportunity to sit down and watch the first part of the new TV series The Bible last night. After seeing many commercials for it and even reading a tweet from Tim Tebow himself, I thought I better sit down and watch it. To be completely honest, I don’t think too highly of it. I missed the first about 20 minutes of it, and came in when Abraham and Sarai are trying to figure out how to have kids, Sarai finally admits that Abraham should try with her servant, Hagar.

For those of you who know the biblical story, there are many things that happen in the beginning (Genesis). The story felt so rushed as it pointed out the things the filmmakers viewed as important, but it seemed to me to leave many things out.

One of the things I appreciated about the show was that it really made me see things from the humans perspective as it was telling the story. For example, Abraham had tears streaming down his face as he offered his one and only son as a sacrifice to God. It’s really easy to read through these stories and causally pass over the emotional side that the biblical figures had to deal with.

The other thing I noticed was that it actually does a pretty good job of ultimately pointing to God. God wasn’t portrayed as a big bad guy or someone hell-bent on destruction but as the God who continually cares for his people.

Now my hesitations with the show: it seemed like they focused far too much on the human side and how mankind was continually doing good things and missing many of the effects of sin. Sodom and Gomorrah especially felt very off to me. The angels who escorted Lot and his family out of the city strike the men trying to get into Lot’s house with blindness, then run down a street and turn into ninjas with swords single handedly killing 10 men. As I’ve read through Scripture, I don’t see a need to add any violence to it-there’s quite enough in there to fill an R-rated film as it is. Finally, I didn’t understand why they picked the stories they did and spent the amount of time they did. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah was given 10-15 minutes of the 2 hour movie that covered creation through the crossing of the Red Sea. I understand that there’s only so many events they can cover from the Bible in a 10 hours mini series, but it seems that instead of majoring on the major themes, they majored on some of the minor stories to make it more exciting.

Overall, I hope this pushes people to read Scripture for themselves and explore more of the greatest story ever told, but am afraid that it will do the opposite. Why read the book when you can see the movie, after all? So the way I’ve described the movie to a few friends is: it was better than I expected, but not as good as it could have been or I was hoping it would be. It has the potential to be a great conversation starter, but ultimately I think it could do a better job of pointing to the God who has worked all of history to be HIS story.

ADDED:

I just read a great blog here on some more hesitations with this series. I completely agree that the writers missed the great theme of the Bible as a whole and instead focus far too much on the human side, missing the story of GOD redeeming His people for His purpose and His glory.