Gospel Truth

I have been working on this post in my head and my heart for over a week now, so I’ll apologize in advance for its getting a little bit heavy.   I won’t make any apologies for my boldness, though, because… well, Paul never did!

For the most part, I am absolutely loving this DVD that Lindsay picked out for our girls while she was here. It is a live worship service aimed at kids, and the music is wonderful. Pippa can sing a few of the choruses already and almost every word of Rainbow, the song Linz introduced us to while she was here. The slower songs are incredibly worshipful, and when I watch it with the girls, I find myself singing along and even getting a little tearful (always a good sign for me).

Between the songs, the worship leaders take turns sharing a Bible verse that is relevant to the song they are about to sing. Great again! I love that they keep the music grounded in Scripture, even if some of the lyrics to get a smidge off-topic.

But. (You knew there would be a “but”, didn’t you?)

After one of the slower, more thoughtful songs, one of the worship leaders gives a “gospel” talk and an invitation for the kids to become Christians.  I was so, so disappointed with the “gospel” that was being presented to these kids (and to mine, right in my living room!)

I want to qualify what I’m about to say with a million disclaimers because I have no intention here of being critical of or villanizing these people in any way. I believe they have hearts for the Lord; I simply do not believe they have chosen their words very carefully or understood the gospel accurately enough. I also believe that the way they presented the gospel is the way it is presented by a lot of children’s ministries, and possibly by a lot of churches as well, but I do not believe it is a gospel that saves.

Several great Christian authors, among them the girltalkers, have written of the importance of preaching the gospel to oneself daily.  Not only are we apt to forget, if not constantly reminded, how much we are in need of saving, but we are also quick to lose sight of exactly what took place in the moment of our salvation.

There were two main phrases used in this DVD to describe what one must do to be saved: “ask Jesus to be your friend” and “ask Jesus into your heart”. These phrases are as familiar to the average churched person as the words “Jesus” and “Christian”, and yet neither one is found anywhere in the Bible. There is certainly a kernel of truth in each of them: God does earnestly desire our friendship, in a sense, and through the Holy Spirit, we do have Christ in our hearts once we are saved. But neither of these is the means of our salvation.  I waited and hoped for something to be said about recognizing our own sin, or about Jesus’s death on the cross in our place, but it simply wasn’t there.

Scripture speaks for itself as to what the true “good news” is about Christ:

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul writes this:

1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you; unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (emphasis mine).

We may feel as though our greatest need is for a true friend, or for someone or something to fill the great void in our hearts, and I believe that is what some ministries might be appealing to.  But in fact, we have a much greater need, whether we realize it or not: we need to be saved.

Romans 3 says this:

22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (my emphasis again)

Scripture is clear and my own heart testifies that I am a sinner.  That all of us are sinners.  We must understand and believe that we suffer from this illness before we are in a position to joyfully accept its cure, but, *praise God*, through Christ there is a cure!

Christ, who lived a perfect, sinless life, died in my place so that I don’t have to.  I can only be made right with God by faith in that truth, by God’s grace and nothing that I can do myself.  I guess for some, this is a tough pill to swallow, but I think it is the sweetest news I have ever heard.  It is heavy and deep, yet simple enough for a child to understand and believe, and there is no need to water it down.  In fact, we are in grave danger of preaching a gospel that does not save if we do.

I intend to make it a habit to rehearse this truth to myself, not only so that I will be clear about it when I have the opportunity to share it with others, but also so that I am reminded each day to live my life in praise to the One who saved me.

And just so you believe me that I really do love *almost* everything about my new DVD, I will end with one of our favorite songs.  Pippa calls it ‘the sleepiest one’!

Amazing Grace: A Musical Review

51eagreeysl_aa240_.jpgWell, if you came here hoping to see me sporting dance shoes and singing show tunes, then you’re in for a disappointment.  If, in fact, you were hoping to hear my thoughts on my current favorite CD in the whole world, then you’ve come to the right place!

This CD,  Amazing Grace: Music Inspired by the Motion Picture, was an inspired gift from my wonderful hubby and has been in the CD player of my van for the better part of a year (I’m very loyal when it comes to music.  And jewelry.  And purses.  Jeans.  Lipstick… I guess I’m just very loyal).  I am honestly not tired of it yet.  I look forward to car trips that are just me in the girls so that I can sing at the top of my lungs listen to this CD in a comtemplative and worshipful frame of mind. As an unexpected and happy consequence, the girls now love it too, and can both sing the choruses of most of the hymns right along with me.

This CD is not a proper soundtrack.  It doesn’t have actual music  (score) from the movie.  Instead, it features modern recordings of great old hymns by contemporary artists.  What could be better?

So, in no particular order, my favorites from this album:

  • It Is Well, sung by Adie and Jeremy Camp – This one has the distinction of being the song that, when the intro music starts, Romilly immediately announces, “Mommy, this you song!”  This is my favorite hymn anyway, so I’m a  little biased, but this is a really great recording.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Are nailed to the cross, and I bear them no more!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, oh, my soul!

I just love the idea of talking to my own soul, and showing it who’s boss on days when it doesn’t feel inclined to remember what has been done for it.  Lovely!

  •  All Creatures Of Our God and King, sung by Bethany Dillon and Shawn McDonald – This one gets off to a slow start, but not in a bad way, just in a thoughtful sort of way.  Then there’s a fun little twist in the middle that I just love.
  • Holy, Holy, Holy, sung by Steven Curtis Chapman – Well, Steven and I go way back.  He was my jogging buddy in college (in my walkman, that is, can you imagine actually jogging with Steven Curtis???)  This is an absolutely beautiful arrangement of this hymn, which, again, is a favorite anyway.
  • Just As I Am, sung by Nichole Nordeman – Hmmm… is this really a hymn or is it a modern hymn that they’ve thrown into the mix hoping to fool me?  I’ve never heard it before, anyway.  No matter.  It is a beautiful song with lyrics that remind me of where I’d be without Christ every time I listen to them.
  • My Jesus, I Love Thee (Tis So Sweet), sung by Bart Millard – I guess, again, it’s the hymn itself that I love here.  This one just really speaks to me.

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take him at his word;
Just to rest upon his promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord.”

  • I Need Thee Every Hour, sung by Jars of Clay – This song is really the special one for us.  It’s Pippa’s song.  I really don’t even remember how it became Pippa’s song,  I guess she just told us one day that it was her favorite, and it stuck.  Now, when it comes on, literally as soon as the first few notes of the intro have been played, Ro announces, “That Pippa’s song!  Pippa, that you song!”  For a while, she’d even get upset if anyone else tried to sing along, but we’re all allowed to sing now.  I tried to get a video of them singing in the car, which is just the cutest, but it’s not the safest thing to do while driving, and the one day I had my mom with me to get it the camera was playing up.  So, here is a reenactment at our table.  I think the girls are a little mesmerized by the crazy patterns on the computer screen, as they’re a bit less enthusiastic than usual.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: go buy this CD!  I could say something about almost every song.  (Although, if I had to award one, the Not-So-Much Award would go to Natalie Grant’s Fairest Lord Jesus.  It’s just a little too… Evanescence-y.  Not that I mind Evanescence, but this has got to be the most cheerful hymn I know, and why add angst into a song that is totally angst-free?  Don’t get me wrong, though, I still belt it out.)  I really do feel that, provided the kiddies are relatively content in the back, I actually get to worship while I’m driving, and I get to where I’m going feeling more joyful and peaceful than when I left home.

By the way, if you ever happen to see me driving and belting out my Amazing Grace CD, please don’t tell me about it. It is really one of the greatest joys of my life to sing in the car, and if I had any idea how ridiculous I look to other drivers, well, it might just spoil it for me a little bit.

I’ll leave you with this verse from David Crowder’s recording of Rock of Ages:

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress;
Helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;    

Wash me, Savior, or I die.