Pod Life Pt.2

16 08 2009

First of all a confession: I have a love-hate relationship with Contemporary Christian Music. That might sound like a strange way to begin a post in appreciation of the ministry which such music has excerised in my life: but it’s the truth. My problem is that I have an intolerance of (bordering on an allergy to?) many of the accepted norms of modern worship. Whether it be what John MacArthur describes as the 7-11 rule (seven lines sung eleven times), the thoroughly soul wrenching experience of watching a group of people having private epiphanies at the front of a church service only to leave before the sermon begins, the incessant proclamation of the first line of every verse of a song even though it is displayed clearly on the Powerpoint screen…I could go on, but it wouldn’t be edifying! Suffice to say at times I feel a little bit of malaise with regard to modern Christian music.

Having said that though, it is malaise not dislike, uneasiness not dismissal, reservations and not rejection. I believe that modern Christian music has been a thoroughly positive feature in my spiritual life, and a means by which God has directed, challenged, inspired, rebuked and encouraged me. I don’t have much time for brow beating modern praise into submission while embracing an anaemic, lifeless, formal clinging to the past and to posterity. I just feel that care and discernment are needed.

For me Fernando Ortega, whose song ‘Lord of Eternity’ begins our playlist, is one of the finest ambassadors for modern Christian music. Others have eloquently posted their feelings about this elsewhere, and I count myself among the number of those who treasure this man’s musical output. Ortega’s songs are profoundly simple, melodically rich, and sung with a vocal clarity that is hard to find in any musical genre – sacred or secular. We have over 60 of his songs on our iPod and I can’t think of one that hasn’t touched and blessed me. His albums provide a tremendous mixture of traditional hymns and modern pieces.

“Lord of Eternity” is a great example of classic Ortega. Here are the lyrics:

Blessed is the man
Who walks in Your favor
Who loves all Your words
And hides them like treasure
In the darkest place Of his desperate heart,
They are a light A strong, sure light.

Sometimes I call out Your name
But I cannot find You.
I look for Your face,
But You are not there.
By my sorrows, Lord, Lift me to You, Lift me to Your side.

Lord of Eternity,
Father of mercy,
Look on my fainting soul.
Keeper of all the stars,
Friend of the poorest heart
Touch me and make me whole.

If You are my defender,
Who is against me?
No one can trouble or harm me
If You are my strength.
All I ask, all I desire
Is to live in Your house all my days.

On our dark days in Peru (and we’ve had a few!) these words have refreshed my soul so much. They are steeped in pathos, reflective of reality, and single-hearted in their adherence to God amidst His more confusing providences in our lives. The thought of God ‘keeping all the stars’ and yet coming to our troubled souls encapsulates His sweeping grandeur and sweet grace. Expressions of difficulty are honest ‘I can’t find you’, but bordered by a heartfelt plea for healing and peace. On many mornings on my way to language school these words run through my mind, driving me to seek God afresh for the new challenges of a new day.




4 responses

26 10 2009

In some testimonies you often hear stories of secular music collections being thrown out and replaced by "Christian" alternatives.I think I've been doing the opposite recently – the likes of Dylan and other contemporaries definitely expose a lot of superficial CCM gash, with a lot more spiritual insight and wisdom. Many of my worship CDs have ended up in Cash Convertors. Sad but true that most Christian music (not all) is second rate and a pale reflection of our creative God!

27 10 2009

Thanks for your comment Jonny. I share your skepticism about certain branches of the Christian music 'industry'. I think there is some great stuff out there as well, but it takes a hefty dose of discernment!Artists like Dylan are superb in their reflection of the human condition and our aspirations, disappointments etc. The place where I struggle at times though is that secular music can be a little depressing by its absence of hope and resolution. This is where good Christian music helps me so much.Thanks for reading along and commenting Jonny, hope you and yours are all well.

30 10 2009

Andy have you heard of Bill Mallonee and the Vigilantes of Love? A great alt. rock/Christian act from the nineties – for me they perfectly straddled the line between mainstream rock with truly prophetic, Christian themes. The front man Bill Mallonee is, on my opinion, just behind Dylan and a truly under-rated songwriter.I don't know how you find the time to update this blog! I enjoy this and the Peru one as well, great to keep updated.

31 10 2009

Hi Jonny,Thanks for your comments – very very helpful, and for reading what I post here. I follow along at Scrabo Power as well. Thanks especially for the recommendation of the Vigilantes of Love – looking forward to hearing them.Blessings,A

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