Tag Archives: music

God is fighting for us! Pushing back the darkness.

A song hits home!

Do you ever hear a song and it just sticks? It pierces your very soul? I’m not referring to an ear worm (that tune that sticks in your head – you can’t get it out – you keep humming it, singing it in your noggin.) I’m referring to a catchy tune with lyrics that proclaim the greatness of God and challenge the way you look at the world.

Songs also have a way of taping into our emotions. Tears. Laughter. Comfort. Peace. Excitement. Awe. The right song can make a mediocre moment in a movie a powerful moment in a movie … like the da-dum in Jaws or the music when Wonder Woman takes to the battle field.

Songs have a way of being a time machine. They draw us back to an event, a relationship, or another part of our journey … and we relive those moments in our mind. The song you danced to at your wedding or your kid’s wedding. A worship experience that drew you into the depth of the awesome presence of God … like When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

The Bible declares the morning stars sang at creation and the angels shouted for joy. I wonder what that song was?

This past week, three tunes hit me. Today I will share just one. It is Darlene Zschech’s In the Name of Jesus.

I’ve heard it before but this week it just hit. Darlene is a worship leader, song writer, cancer survivor, and inspiration to millions. This song comes from her Revealing Jesus worship experience collection that has a tremendous devotional, dvd, and cd connected to it.

One section of the song goes like this …

God is fighting for us
Pushing back the darkness
Lighting up the Kingdom
That cannot be shaken
In the Name of Jesus
Enemy’s defeated
And we will shout it out
Shout it out

Look at this. He is fighting for us. In most battles, kings send the pawns, the expendable out to the front. But here, in our battles, God is out front, has our back, and surrounds us.

Pushing back the darkness. He is the light of the world. From Him, darkness flees. Light brings hope, light brings peace, light brings protection.

Lighting up the Kingdom that can not be shaken. He is our light. There is no darkness in Him. And His Kingdom is secure, solid, unshakeable. In this world where cancer, covid, chaos seems to be the norm … we are part of a Kingdom that stands secure – forever!

The enemy’s defeated. Not will be, not in the process of, but defeated – past tense. Our enemy is a defeated foe. Oh, we still struggle, we still fight, and we still stumble. And where the verbs before this are present (fighting, pushing, lighting) … this verb is past – the enemy IS DEFEATED!

We need to know the victory is assured and God is forever on the throne wearing the Victor’s crown (which is a name of another great song from the Revealing Jesus collection.)

We will shout it out – shout it out! At the top of our lungs, shout it out. A victory shout, a shout of praise. But also … a shout to tell the world they can know the One who will fight for them too. All they have to do is call on His name.

Too many are fighting the battle themselves. Too many are losing the war. Too many … too many. We need to shout it out. Let them know of the victory in Jesus. We need to reveal our story how God is fighting for all who call on Him. We need to shout it out.

Will you join me in shouting it out today? Reveal to the world … Jesus.


You can watch the YouTube clip of a live version of Darlene singing this song here. The lyrics …

God is fighting for us
God is on our side
He has overcome
Yes, He has overcome
We will not be shaken
We will not be moved
Jesus You are here …

Carrying our burdens
Covering our shame
He has overcome
Yes, He has overcome
We will not be shaken
We will not be moved
Jesus You are here

I will live, I will not die
The resurrection power of Christ
Alive in me and I am free
In Jesus’ Name

God is fighting for us
Pushing back the darkness
Lighting up the Kingdom
That cannot be shaken
In the Name of Jesus
Enemy’s defeated
And we will shout it out
Shout it out

Trust You? Why Should I?

How do you know you can trust someone? I mean, promises are made and broken all the time – politicians, friends, even to ourselves. I mean how many times have I promised myself I will exercise more, only to stay under the covers after ignoring the phone alarm?

In this journey of life, I hope you can trust me. But I also know I’ll blow it, disappoint people, and fall short. Out if ignorance (I forget), out of shortcomings (I just don’t have the abilities needed), or even out of selfishness (I willingly refuse to keep my promises), I will let you down.

But, there is someone you can trust.

A song has stuck in my head this week. A new worship hymn out of Vertical Church. It is from an album that talks of grace and the beautiful way God sustains us. Emphasizing the strength and love of God, we are reminded we have a glorious future. In the playlist is Faithful Now.

Faithful Now shows us why we can trust Him, why We can believe Him and His Word. There is a history of strength, power, and proven faithfulness.

Years ago, the avowed atheist, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, debated famed pastor W.A. Criswell. When she ridiculed him for believing the supposed God of the Bible would return one day, asking how Criswell could believe it, Criswell responded by saying God kept all His promises so far, He will keep these as well. He has fulfilled previous prophecies, He will fulfill future ones too.

This is the thrust of Faithful Now. We can trust Him, now. We can trust Him now because He’s proved Himself trustworthy then. In the words of the worship leader of the church where the song was recorded …

“It is a song that not just speaks to the faithfulness of God, but the story of his faithfulness through thousands of years and how his promises and word support that message. In whatever situation or season you find yourself in, a temporary remedy will only temporarily satisfy or heal – but the fulfilled promises, the never-changing word, and the proven faithfulness of God are capable of holding us up and seeing us through anything.”

Andy Rozier, Worship Pastor at Vertical Church

You can trust Him. He is capable. He has proven it. He was faithful then, He is faithful now.


Click here to watch the video

Songwriters: Jonathan Smith / Mia Fieldes / Eddie Hoagland / Hank BentleyFaithful Now lyrics © So Essential Tunes, All Essential Music, Be Essential Songs, Capitol Cmg Amplifier, Every Square Inch


Faithful Now

I am holding onto faith
‘Cause I know You’ll make a way
And I don’t always understand
And I don’t always get to see
But I will believe it, I will believe it

‘Cause You make mountains move
You make giants fall
And You use songs of praise
To shake prison walls
And I will speak to my fear, I will preach to my doubt
That You were faithful then, You’ll be faithful now

You’re forever faithful, Lord!
And I trust You, JesusAnd I am standing on Your word
And calling Heaven down to earth
And You will fight enemies, and this will end in victory
And I will believe it, yes I will believe it’

‘Cause You make mountains move
You make giants fall
And You use songs of praise
To shake prison walls
And I will speak to my fear, I will preach to my doubt
That You were faithful then, You’ll be faithful now
Oh You were faithful then, You’ll be faithful now

And I know that I know
You never fail
Oh yes I know that I know
You never will
And I know that I know
You never fail
Oh yes I know that I know
You never will

‘Cause You make mountains move
You make giants fall
You use songs of praise
To shake prison walls
I will speak to my fear, oh I will preach to my doubt
That You were faithful then, You’ll be faithful now

You make mountains move
You make giants fall
You use songs of praise
To shake prison walls
And I will speak to my fear, oh I will preach to my doubt
That You were faithful then, You’ll be faithful now
Oh You were faithful then, and You’ll be faithful now

Jesus, Bring New Wine Out of Me

A while back, this song came into my life. Through it’s simplistic words, I am comforted and challenged. In its melodic tone, I am calmed and stirred to action as well.

It is a statement of desperation that life is crushing in on me. It’s a worshipful cry of surrender. It’s a plea for God to work. It’s a lesson of what if it takes some times to create new works, to rid ourselves of the old ways in lieu of God’s ways.

And all of this is chilling.

I mean, who want to be pressed down? Who wants to be crushed? Yet sometimes, that’s what it takes.

We are crushed, but not defeated ….

We are persecuted, but not forsaken …

And may the life of Jesus be seen in us. His live, His light, His grace. Make me your vessel, oh Lord.

2 Corinthians 4.7-9

NEW WINE ….

VERSE:
In the crushing
In the pressing
You are making new wine
In the soil I now surrender
You are breaking new ground

PRE-CHORUS:
So I yield to You and to Your careful hand
When I trust You I don’t need to understand

CHORUS:
Make me Your vessel
Make me an offering
Make me whatever You want me to be
I came here with nothing
But all You have given me
Jesus bring new wine out of me

BRIDGE:
Where there is new wine
There is new power
There is new freedom
The Kingdom is here
I lay down my old flames
To carry Your new fire today


New Wine. See the video here. Words and Music by Brooke Ligertwood.

No Morning Playlist! That’ll Change

Today is when the Covid 19 really hit home. As of midnight last night, by order of the governor, all eating establishments close inside dining. So my breakfast spot has locked their doors for 30 days.

So, I got up, made my wife breakfast, and turned on iTunes. And I realized I don’t have a morning playlist. I’ve got plenty of playlists, but not one specifically for the morning. That will change.

So I did a song shuffle on all my songs, which has about 25,000 to choose from. The very first song was what I needed. In a time of uncertainty, in a war with a virus we cannot see, and with thoughts of vocational inadequacy …. the song that played first was written and performed by a survivor of breast cancer – Darlene Zschech. She sings a powerful cry of praise and admonition to the One who wears the Victor’s Crown.

No germ, no political agenda, no fear, no anything will take away His Victor’s Crown. No matter what this day throws at me, the God who is victor over it all has my back, never leaves me, and will provide. What a way to start a day!

You are always fighting for us
Heaven’s angels all around
My delight is found in knowing
That You wear the Victor’s crown
You’re my help and my defender
You’re my Savior and my friend
By Your grace I live and breathe to worship You

At the mention of Your greatness
In Your Name I will bow down
In Your presence fear is silent
For You wear the Victor’s crown
Let Your glory fill this temple
Let Your power overflow
By Your grace I live and breathe to worship You

Hallelujah
You have overcome
You have overcome
Hallelujah
Jesus, You have overcome the world

You are ever interceding
As the lost become the found
You can never be defeated
For You wear the Victor’s crown
You are Jesus the Messiah
You’re the Hope of all the world
By Your grace I live and breathe to worship You

Every high thing must come down
Every stronghold shall be broken
You wear the Victor’s crown
You have overcome, You have overcome

_______________

You can view her singing it here

He Ain’t Heavy

Sometimes a song sticks in my head. You know what I mean. It keeps playing on a loop and I find myself humming, singing, and even skillfully playing my Les Paul air-guitar to the shocked looks of those nearby. All this happens with the music not being heard anywhere else but inside my head.

For the past few days, it has been He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. It is a soulful, encouraging, and challenging song of helping our fellow journeyer along our shared path. I hear the smooth voice of Neil Diamond. Maybe you hear the Hollies, or Olivia Newton John.

The song, or portions of its lyrics, have been used in movies dating back to 1941 in Spencer Tracey’s sequel to Boys Town, called Men of Boys Town to the movie Rambo 3. The history of the phrase goes back even further, to 1884. A book, The Parables of Jesus, tells a story of a little girl carrying a big baby boy. A person asked if she was tired. With a surprise, she replied, “No, he’s not heavy; he’s my brother.” It has been used by orphanages across the globe, tied into statues, and more.

The original recording sounds little like the version we know today. The lyrics are about all that would be recognizable. The Hollies took the original recording, sped it up, and made history in its 1969 release. It got to #7 on US charts. Trivia note: the piano player on that Hollies hit was a young musician named Reg. He later went on to new heights and is known by his more familiar name, Elton John.

What’s all this about? Lots. We live in a world where so few people look out for their neighbor. It’s a world of ‘mind your own business and move along’. It’s a world of look out for #1 – yourself. But recently in my little corner of the world, I’ve seen people lift each other up, care for their neighbors, and sharing the burdens of those around them. From collecting to almost $100,000 for the mother who lost her husband and one of her daughters in a horrific fire, to collecting for a family struggling to pay for oil to heat their home in these frigid winter days. From visiting shut-ins who are living all alone, to everybody helping to clean up a church building to get it ready for Sunday.

Maybe it’s country life vs city life. Maybe it’s those who’ve been carried giving back now that they can carry. I don’t know. But it does encourage me.

What an amazing world we could have if we would spend more time building each other up than tearing them down, spend more time carrying and caring for others than avoiding and neglecting. While we’re on our way, why not share. The road is long, so very long.

Today … where can you help someone?

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Isn’t filled with the gladness
Of love for one another
It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy he’s my brother
He’s my brother
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother, he ain’t heavy

Post Script. Some have mentioned (I will not give my wife’s name) they are concerned about my writing style being messy, having grammatical faux pas, and an occasional difficulty in following my stream of consciousness. Scientist have shown intelligent people are messy (a messy desk is a sign of intelligence). I read that on the web so it has to be true. So this is my burden to share, why not share. But honestly, I do type slower than my mind goes and I apologize to all grammarphiles out there. And thanks for reading. Life gets muddy.

Sacrifice Musicians Because of Silly Love Songs?

It happened at age 14. The song stuck and it’s in my head all the time. They say that ones favorite music style is set around age 14. In that year, it was Paul McCartney and Wing’s Silly Love Song.

The opening lines …

You’d think that people would have enough of silly love song. I look around and see it isn’t so. Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs. And what’s wrong with that. I’d like to know!

Silly love songs. Great tune. I remember watching the NYC ball drop on New Year’s Eve and singing that song. Great time.

Two things are swirling in my mind today. First is a conversation I had with my son yesterday. He wants to get inked. (He’s plenty old enough and I have no problem with that). He wants to have the word ‘warrior‘ put on his body’s somewhere. He has only been married for three months but I think he is getting it. (Jk, I love my favorite daughter in law). He is seeing it from the point we all are in a spiritual warfare and he is a warrior of the Lord.

Second is a biblical concept. There is a weird point in scripture. In some of the battles recorded in the Old Testament, the leaders would often put music leaders and singers at the front of the line. Now, as a pastor, I saw that as making sure music leaders get hit early. Nah, not really.

It is more of a confidence in the fact that battle is the Lord’s. John Piper says spiritual worship and spiritual warfare should be carried out with singing. David calmed Saul’s soul with music. Paul and Silas sang in prison. The Psalms are stuffed with songs seeking help, guidance, strength, and more. We have praises, hymns, and thanksgiving.

So in 2020, I will commit to sing more. Learn new songs. Dig into the songs backstories. And choose to praise in song before all I do. Glorify Him in song.

I may not make a joyful sound with perfect pitch and America’s Got Talent level of expertise. But I will make a joyful noise. Maybe not a silly love song, but truly another song of praise. 2020 will be full of music. And that is something we all can do.

First on my list … Yes, I Will … by Vertical Worship. Check it out here.

Yes I will, lift You high I the lowest valley. Yes I will, bless your name

Yes I will, sing for joy when my heart is heavy. All my days, oh yes I will.

All my days, oh yes I will.


My first five of 2020 to do every day.

Day 5 … be a blessing to someone

Day 4 … let others see Jesus in you

Day 3 … sing more, it’s healthy (this entry)

Day 2 … power of staying positive

Day 1 … live with eternity in mind

Needing a Reset … Get Back In Sync

It was a dark and stormy night. The thunder and lightning went pop. And the power was gone. So the story began. But the point is what took place after the storm. And with that, most of the clocks were out of power and thus reset to midnight. Newer ones fixed themselves once power was restored, but there is that older one next to the bed that dates back a bit – and it can be a pain to reset. My wife kept telling the clock’s correct time, “I want you back.”

For two nights, it had the wrong time. My girlfriend (who is also my wife) struggled to reset it, so I figured it’s gonna be me who had to to take care of it. I grabbed the clock, played with the buttons, and wallah – time is back to were it should be.

Sometimes our inner clock gets off after a stormy time in our lives. The struggles and pains keep tearin’ up my heart. And because of that, we need to know what to do. This I promise you, if you do nothing – you will continue to be all out of whack. So take time to get back in sync.

God loves you. He desires for us to be in right relationship with Him. And if you think you’ve messed up too much; well, just don’t tell me that – for we’ve never gone beyond the limits of His grace. His love comes with no strings attached.

So get back to Him and take time to reset your lives.

So for now, Bye Bye Bye

Todd


I hope you got the point and the underlining concept – enjoy this top ten list

A Story in Song … That Spans Eternity

Worship Wars … this is a phenomenon that will not be settled this generation, nor any coming generation. The style and tempo and tunes of the music we use in worship are somethings we love to sit around and talk about (a nice way to say we demand our specific desires of song style.). I remember as a wee lad the issue – and I’ve yet to serve at a church that the issue was settled.

I served with a music pastor who said we will be surprised when we get to heaven … though he was as traditional as they came, never using CDs with his choir … he said the variety of songs and styles in heaven will be all over the spectrum. Get ready for it. He is there in heaven now; so Walter, I just get a kick of imagining you sing some Rend Collective and Skillet. You will not be stuck in the Southern Gospel or Bluegrass section!

So what should be answer? I can’t say anything about style (though I do have a preference), but I can say about the purpose and content. God’s Word tells us …

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Singing is important and choosing what songs we use is a vital part of worship planning. They can and should teach us, admonish us, and stir our hearts to worship.

They teach. The music expounds great doctrines, put forth biblical truths, shape our world view, mold our way of living, and reinforce the foundational truths of His Word. I love songs that teach great stories … stories that take a Biblical truth and build from stanza to stanza. And interestingly, many will forget the message from the pastor but will remember the song that raised the same truths before them in musical form.

They admonish. This reminds us of His greatness, of His great works, and our utter reliance on Him. Hymns and praise songs can lift our souls when mired in the muck of this world, can help our soul soar above our circumstances, and encourage us in our walk and service. It prompts us, encourages us, and motivates us. The doubters are renewed, the sinners are reminded of confession, the suffering are given hope, the lost are reconciled, and hopeless are given hope.

They stir our hearts to worship. Music isn’t the worship service. Music is the prompt to worship. They should overflow with praise. It should engage not only our mind (teach) but also our heart (emotions). Songs should make our hears sing, not just our mouth. They should prompt response … at the altar and outside the doors.


In all of this, I have had my iTunes on repeat as I listen to the newer song King of Kings. A powerful tune and a powerful truth.

It teaches our need, His provision. It tells the story of Jesus, from eternity to eternity. It admonishes me to remember and to praise and remember we are to share this truth. It provokes me to praise … praise the Father, praise the Son, and the Spirit three in one.

It starts with my (and your) need … and ends with my resurrection where I will be praising for eternity.

This is a story, a story we all need to hear, know, and hold true.

Praise forever to the King of Kings.

This is His story, this is my story … I will shout it out … is it your story? It can be!


Go here to hear this song.

King of King

VERSE 1
In the darkness we were waiting
Without hope without light
Till from heaven You came running
There was mercy in Your eyes
To fulfil the law and prophets

To a virgin came the Word
From a throne of endless glory
To a cradle in the dirt

CHORUS
Praise the Father
Praise the Son
Praise the Spirit three in one
God of glory
Majesty
Praise forever to the King of Kings

VERSE 2
To reveal the kingdom coming
And to reconcile the lost
To redeem the whole creation
You did not despise the cross

For even in Your suffering
You saw to the other side
Knowing this was our salvation
Jesus for our sake You died

VERSE 3
And the morning that You rose
All of heaven held its breath
Till that stone was moved for good
For the Lamb had conquered death

And the dead rose from their tombs
And the angels stood in awe
For the souls of all who’d come
To the Father are restored

VERSE 4
And the Church of Christ was born
Then the Spirit lit the flame
Now this gospel truth of old
Shall not kneel shall not faint

By His blood and in His Name
In His freedom I am free
For the love of Jesus Christ
Who has resurrected me

 

Words and Music by Jason Ingram, Brooke Ligertwood & Scott Ligertwood

Offensive Church Signs … Just a Thought

I live in a small town that is the home place of a very historical event. Just a few miles from my front door is the location where Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. A National Historical Park, Appomattox is one of several US locations that will always have Civil War memorabilia on the walls, fill local store shelves, and be the discussion at local diners. It’s the bread and butter of some of the local economy, especially after the garment industry dwindled and the local Thomasville factory closed.

L for the end of the Civil War, O has a banjo (credit to Sweeney … father of modern banjo), V has oars signifying local lakes and waterways used for recreation, and E has the railroad which put this town on the map … and I hear all through out the day.

As you cross the county lines, signs remind you of the event with a picture of three guns stacked together and the quote”Where Our Nation Reunited“. Even in our unique LOVE sign, a now cool marketing scheme in Virginia connected to Virginia is for Lovers, the stacked arms is the vertical arm of the letter L.

As you cross the county lines, signs remind you of the event with a picture of three guns stacked together and the quote”Where Our Nation Reunited”.

Where our nation reunited. I wish it was that simple. Years will go by and we still struggle with division … race, politics, economic, religious, ad nauseam. It seems we are a nation more divided than in any recent times. And a local church has made national news with its “America: Love It or Leave It” in lit up letters on their church sign.

Many have asked my input. Being the church has the same name as my last church in Richmond (who are apparently getting calls thinking they are the church that posted the statement), some friends from there call me and ask what Appomattox preachers are doing.

First, let me say, churches and individuals have a right to free speech.

Second, I do love America, but my prayer for America is not that we get bigger, better, and stronger for America’s sake – I want a better nation to be a better platform for freedom so the church can have the platform of freedom to share the love, mercy, and grace of the gospel unencumbered … a society that gives the church a place to shout loud the love of God.

And third, if anything, I want to be known as an agent of unity – not division nor uniformity. I want to be an ambassador of a message that draws people together. A representative of reconciliation … primarily with God, but also with each other. (It’s kind of what all Christians should be doing. See 2 Cor 5.18 … article on that here.)

So go ahead and put whatever you want on your signs; but me, I want mine to point to the cross.

Where our nation reunited. Wouldn’t it be great if Appomattox, or maybe your little corner of America, had the slogan that talked about people reuniting with the God who created them. And instead of the three guns showing surrender, we lift high the cross … showing our surrender. Now that is a sign I would love see really take off.

So I close saying I am going to listen to a little Peaches & Herb today (music from ’78 … because it feels so good! Look it up Gen Y & Z.)

Be blessed and tell someone God Loves them.

Todd

The Church Bells All Were Broken

It’s a line from the Don McLean’s classic American Pie.

… but not a word was spoken

…. the church bells all were broken

This is a great, yet tragic song. Tragic not only in the event that prompted the song, but tragic in this line. Why was there silence? Why were church bells broken, unable to ring out? Now the church doesn’t have all the answers, but it does have The Answer. If there ever was a time the church should ring out the comfort and hope we have in Christ , it is when people face eternity … this would have been the time.

So, on this Monday’s edition, I keep it simple to my fellow church peeps. We have the greatest story in the world … a story of brokenness mended, a story of bondages broken, a story of wounded healed, a story of outcasts welcomed, and a story where the Creator of everything loves us so much, He did what it took to bring us back home.

It is a love story … He loves us and He loves the people around you. Now that is a story that should make the church bells ring out loudly.

Have a great week. Ring it out!