Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Love Songs

Some worship songs published in recent years are focussed on striving for greater intimacy with Jesus. Here are a few, with samples of the lyrics:

Hungry I come to you for I know you satisfy / I am empty, but I know Your love does not run dry / So I wait for you
I'm falling on my knees / offering all of me / Jesus, You're all this heart is living for

This is the air I breathe / Your holy presence living in me
And I'm desperate for You / And I, I'm lost without You

"Where You Are"
In this quiet place again, / I can hear You on the wind / whispering to me
In this quiet place again, / I have found a friend / who understand me
Where You are / Is where I want to be / In your arms / You will comfort me
Far away from everything I used to be / You know I have come so far to be where you are

"Draw Me Close"
Draw me close to You / Never let me go
I lay it all down again / to hear You say that I'm Your friend
You are my desire / No one else will do
'Cause no one else could take your place / To feel the warmth of Your embrace
Help me find the way / Bring me back to You

One of these just got bumped off our regular rotation. Can you guess which one, and why? (answer at the end)

Some people complain that songs like these just sound like top-40 love songs, and that they don't convey the sense that the object of the affection is God Himself. They call them "Jesus is my boyfriend" songs. And in a lot of cases they're right. Generally speaking, at VCC we've tried to not use songs if a casual reader could not easily tell that the lyrics are directed to God or Jesus.

The argument FOR songs like this is that many of the Psalms sound like love songs, too.

Two of these songs - "Hungry" and "Breathe", express a desire to be closer to God, though they use human terms of love that don't even come close to describing God fully.  But they mention Jesus by name or describe a Godly attribute (holy presence).

"Where You Are" does not name Jesus, but the expressed desire to be "where" Jesus "is" fits with John 12:26 " If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also."

The one that got bumped is "Draw Me Close". It's been in our repertoire (I really like the melody), but hardly ever sung. While a Christian might identify with some of the sentiment expressed in this song, the casual reader could just as easily see it as a song to a boyfriend or girlfriend. Also, the line "I lay it all down again" gives the erroneous theology that it is we who sacrifice in order to have a relationship with God, and that we can make this sacrifice repeatedly, when the truth is that it is Jesus who sacrificed everything, and it only needed to be done once. So, pretty song, but bye-bye.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


The sermon today was about John 12:27-50, which deals with the unbelief of the people. Something that stuck out to me was the quotation from Isaiah that is included in the passage:
"He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them."

It is one of many places in the Bible that talks about how God "hardens the heart" of someone as part of His plan of redemption. God hardens the heart of Pharaoh in Exodus as part of the plan to rescue Israel and move them to the Promised Land, and here God is hardening the collective heart of (most  of) the Jewish people, it seems in order to make sure that Jesus gets crucified.

This makes it seem like God is kind of cruel to decide at a certain point in the person's life (or the nation's life in this case) to make it impossible for that person or people to ever believe and thereby be saved.

But as it turns out, all God is doing is solidifying what is just waiting in their hearts to be solidified.

Imagine two cups filled with what appears to identical amounts of white mineral powder. You pour some water into both cups and stir it up. When they are both dry, one is as hard as rock, one stays soft. What's the difference? One was plaster, one was talc! The plaster is made of crystals, that bond together in the presence of water - the talc does not.

It is in the nature of plaster to harden; it is in the nature of talc not to. We can use the plaster to accomplish a task we have in mind; make a smooth wall, for example. That does not mean we are being cruel to the plaster - we're just choosing a time to harden the plaster.

Opening Remarks

May 18, 2014

I've been talking about doing this for a long time, and finally I'm going to plunge in with this blog, and from time to time post some thoughts that come to mind related to leading worship at Victoria Community Church.

Big disclaimer: This blog reflects my thoughts only and is not an official statement of Victoria Community Church.

The plan is to give a little insight into what goes into some of the decisions - for instance, why some songs are added to our repertoire, or why some do not.