My wife sent me a CD of contemporary Christian music, Casting Crowns by the band of the same name. (They have a web site that I am unable to load, but that could be due to limited bandwidth via military communications here in Iraq.)
They are terrific! I play this CD at least once every day, and often as I am first getting up and getting ready for another Army day here on the FOB.
I googled for some information on the band, and besides the web site, I found the following at Christianity Today. From the Biography, courtesy of Beach Street Records, Bandmember Mark Hall declares:
"I want to shake people up and help them see that Jesus is not a religion, and God is not a book," [Band member Mark] Hall says. "You can't pray to a book and you can't draw strength from an idea or standard. If there's no relationship with Jesus as a person to you, you're in trouble."Amen to anything that can draw us closer to Jesus.
Will this shake people up? I guess I don't know. It's excellent musically, very engaging and (Holy) spirited. But what caught me and holds my attention are the lyrics, written by Mark Hall.
In "If We Are the Body," Hall introduces his plea for Christian outreach by presenting the example of a woman slipping into church, and overhearing the teasing of some thoughtless girls. He follows this with another of the lonely traveler, who reacts to the looks of judgment on the faces of the churchgoers by concluding he was better off outside. In answer to both these examples, Hall pleads with all of us:
But if we are the bodyAnother song, “Voice of Truth,” Hall and Casting Crowns give poignant voice to that Peter in all of us who wish that we could step out on that wave:
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way
Oh what I would do to haveAnd what we must confront are those voices of doubt and defeat. The enemy certainly, but also the lack and limits of our own trust in Him:
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He's holding out His hand
But the waves are calling out my nameHow often we let our past become the guidepost for our current disappointments! That image of the wave, laughing at me, captured perfectly for me the discouragement I can sometimes feel when I think God can’t possibly mean me for some task to which He’s called me.
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy, you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"
But if I turn back to Him, ignore those voices of defeat, and listen to that “Voice of Truth,” I will be told something quite different:
But the voice of truth tells me a different storyI too resolve to listen to the Voice of Truth.
The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth
And I can’t resist mentioning one last track from Casting Crowns. This last sums up much of what I feel working through my salvation with fear and trembling, while at the same time doing my job here for my Company of 150+ Soldiers.
Who am I, that the Lord of all the earthIt is not who I am that caused You to offer salvation to whosoever believed in Your Son. It was and is and forever will be Your grand, gracious and glorious sacrifice of Your Son on the cross as atonement for our sins. No good works, no living “rightly” or righteously, no way to earn this priceless gift. It is in Your perfect and eternal Nature, Your character, that You “care to feel my hurt,” or “choose to light the way for my ever wandering heart.”
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart
Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are
Casting Crowns is a wonderful new work inspired by and for His purposes. I think I’ll pop it in the CD player right now.