Modern Christian music sometimes gets criticized as mostly shallow, “Jesus is my boyfriend” love songs. And some are. Yet I turn on Pandora and set it to shuffle through my Christian stations and I easily find music that feeds the soul, lifts me up out of funks, calms fear and anxiety, and reminds me of eternal truth. For example:
While “Dreaming Jacob’s Dream” with Michael Card, he encourages me, “We all need dreams to seek Him.”
We adore the eternal holy one who sits on Heaven’s Mercy seat in “Revelation Song” with Philips, Craig and Dean.
“In Christ Alone” reminds me “Up from the grave he rose again” and that Christ’s victory has caused the curse to lose its grip on me, so I can stand in the power of Christ. The same track mingles in the classic, faith-affirming, “On Christ the solid rock I stand.”
Big Daddy Weave and I pray for peace as we sing Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Hold Me Jesus,” and we invite our king of Glory to once again be our Prince of Peace.
Brandon Heath’s “Your Love” at first blush sounds like it’s going to be everything “wrong” with Christian rock, boiling the mysteries of the faith down to “Your love is enough.” However, the core statement of his song is true and an important affirmation for many Christians struggling with that. The problem isn’t the song, it’s the Church increasingly falling prey to the surrounding culture’s poor grasp of what love truly is. And Heath asserts the power the world’s love denies. God’s love ‘lights up the darkness,’ gives us hope, sight to blind eyes, makes lame feet walk. Metaphorically, God’s love gives spiritual sight to spiritual blind eyes. And it’s our spiritually lame feet that stumble into the flesh’s sin that God strengthens to walk in the Spirit by faith.
“Lord I need you,” confesses Matt Maher, “every hour, I need you.” He affirms Christ as our “one defense” and our “righteousness.” He reminds us, in effect, that grace frees us from sin, that Christ is at work in us, making us holy, He advises us to sing in the face of temptation—I have done it, with another song, and it really does help.
Since this is my Pandora Christian stations on shuffle, “Old Rugged Cross” came up next, but it is a prime example of the meaty, deep, timeless classics. I’d encourage you to give them a chance, if you’re strictly into modern worship.
“Forever Reign” (by One Sonic Society) has a repetition rhythm that can make it sound shallow at first blush. It isn’t at all. The repetition isn’t just musical, it aids memorization of its core theological concepts, which are too many to list, however down-to-earth rather than “high minded” they are compared to most of the hymns. Yes, there’s “running to your arms” going on, but prodigals have been running to their father’s arms for 2,000 years. Excellent message, good sound, and it definitely lifts you up from wherever you are into worshipful mood.
“Just to Know You,” pleads Mark Schultz, as he affirms the core gospel story in depth and finishes off with his longing to respond to Christ’s giving all for us by giving all for Christ, not out of a legalistic works righteousness, but out of a passionate love and a grateful heart.
“Hosanna” shouts Hillsong United with the people as the King of Glory comes, the earth shakes, and mercy washes away sin and raises up a generation with selfless faith, and stirs rival as we pray and seek on our knees. “Hosanna” also features the “dangerous prayer” that at least six other bloggers have commented on at length, “Break my heart for what breaks yours /Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause.” And my longer excerpt doesn’t cover half of the full prayer. If we pray it with them and mean it, it’s potentially life-changing, beloved.
Mind you, this is only scratching the surface, only the first ten or so songs that came up at random. Well, unless you believe God controls Pandora’s “shuffle” feature. Don’t know about that, myself, I needed to feed the stations it’s shuffling through with good seed songs. However, just the song or songs I needed at that moment do come up frequently.
If you haven’t read any of the commentaries on “Break my heart for what breaks yours” and are curious, here is my (likely partial) list of those bloggers’ articles:
For the record, I recommend the “most dangerous prayer,” along with praying for patience. However, they do require a courage faith, a bravery derived from a complete trust in our Lord. He knows what we need to grow, and he’s the source of our strength to endure the heartbreak and trials of life. They’re gonna come regardless of whether we’re praying to have a right heart in the face of them. God is a good father who gives us fish and bread, not snakes and stones. Nothing God directly sends us directly as a result of prayer will ever be to our harm.