Every once in a while a resource comes along that helps you love Jesus more. For me there have been a number of books, studies, events or worship albums that come along and do just that. Since as Christians we are to be continually growing in our love for our Savior Jesus we should view these resources are worthy of investment. Yes, we should spend our money on things that help us love Jesus more. For a long time God has used Worship music to help me to know God more, consider biblical truth and cling to my savior.
I think the first album that helped me like that was the original WOW Worship album. If you were a Christian in the 90’s you know all about those two Blue and Yellow CD’s? I can vividly remember driving two hours each day in order to complete student teaching in my senior year of college, and one of the things that got me through was rocking out to Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord, Come Now is the Time to Worship, The Heart of Worship and the very best of all Shout to the Lord (Note to self: Driving with both hands raised can be dangerous). FYI this 2 CD set is available here on Amazon for 50 cents or the cassettes are $19.75 (collectors edition?).
Looking back, it seems I have had a go to album each year:
In 2012 it was the Indelible Grace Hymn Sing.
In 2013 it was the Gettys live at the Gospel Coalition
In 2014 it was Chris Tomlin’s latest album Burning Lights
And so far for 2015 the album of the year, the resource that is helping point my eyes to Jesus, the one that is most helping me love my savior more is Hillsong United’s newest album “Empires.”
Surprised? I am. I mean this is a little outside my typical PCA Indelible Grace comfort zone. But this album is really good, so good I want you to like it too. So, here I go trying to convince you at least listen, and hopefully invest in a resource that will help you love Jesus more. At risk of sounding like I am selling cutco knives or a timeshare, here is my pitch…or at least a few simple thoughts on some of my favorite songs on the album.
This is the first song on the album and it is great. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that it is 7 minutes song, I mean we occasionally have prayers that go longer than that. So, just press play and do the dishes, or email or go for a walk. What you will notice is that Hillsong United is a very talented group of musicians, and they are smart artists too. Those facts shine in this song which starts quiet and draws you in as it eases you into the rest of the album with rising instrumentals and signature soaring vocals which call you to put away distraction in order to consider and recognize the comforting presence of the Lord.
Here are a few lines from this song:
“Cause I know that you are here now
Still my heart, Let Your voice be all I hear now
Fix my eyes on the things that I can’t see now”
The Scripture that comes to mind when listening to this song is Hebrews 12:1-2
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”
You can check out this song here.
Touch the Sky
This is the song that hooked me. One day in the early summer our children’s ministry director, Christy Talamo, came into my office and asked me to watch this video (see she recommends things other than Jimmy Fallon). As the video began I immediately felt like this group was way cooler than I was, but I was impressed as Christy started to explain the technical ability of the female vocalist Taya Smith. And as I listened I was captured by the strong musical talent paired with solid poetic lyrics.
This song is a celebration of submission focusing on both conversion and repentance.
Conversion is captured in these lyrics:
“I found heaven as love swept low
My heart beating, my soul breathing
I found my life when I laid it down”
And then the joy of ongoing repentance is represented here:
“Find me here at Your feet again
Everything I am, reaching out, I surrender
Come sweep me up in Your love again”
If you want to like this album I bet it only takes listening to this song twice. If you like watching watch the video, look past the fact that this mason jar sipping band of hip Christians that are practicing in a modern coffee shop yet not looking at each other and just watch lead female vocalist Taya Smith. Watch the control she has over her voice and then listen for the song to build at the 2:20 mark and then when she sits back and opens up at the 2:53 mark just enjoy the fact that the song hits a new gear, and displays a new level of freedom and release. This is what Christy was explaining and pointing out that day in my office. It was what got me, so if you followed those instructions and that doesn’t get you then you have my permission to skip the rest of this blog post.
The Scripture that comes to mind when listening to this song is Matthew 6:25
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Closer Than you Know
The song that bookends this album is another long one, but the perspective it presents is well worth it. The song starts with male vocalist Joel Houston singing from the perspective of Jesus speaking to his people.
“I carried that cross
And I felt your pain
I took up your crown
And I wore your shame”
“Lift up your eyes and see
Heaven is closer than you know
Know I’ll never leave you
So lift up your voice and sing
Know that My love won’t let you go”
Then, In the middle as the instruments begin to dissolve you think that the song is over, but then comes the female voice of Taya Smith singing from the perspective of a Christian singing unto Christ.
“Lord I hear You I know You’re there
Closer now than my skin and bones could dare
Breathing deep within me
You are always with me”
“For I’m Yours and You are mine
And my soul knows well
You are here”
And, the album closes with a Paul like break into praise to Jesus for His glorious grace:
“You are here, And my soul will praise You
And my soul will praise Your Name
Singing Holy is Your Name, Jesus”
You can check out this song here.
This whole album is designed to lead you closer to Christ. And if this resource helps you love God more then thanks be to God! But, if Hillsong isn’t your thing that is fine. The point of this post wasn’t just to convince you to become a Hillsong fan. With this post it has been my intention to encourage you to invest in personal worship, redeem the time, fill your tank and to prepare your heart to join your family in worship on Sunday by worshipping throughout the week. The more we worship on our own, the better we worship together. So take time each day, each week to prepare.
-Prepare by listening to the songs we are going to sing (If you have not done it you should Subscribe to the Uptown blog and you will get what songs we are singing emailed to you every Friday. To subscribe click here and look on the right hand side.)
-Prepare by listening to songs that make your heart sing.
-Prepare by listening to music that helps you sense his presence.
-Prepare by contemplating lyrics that make you fall more in love with your precious savior Jesus Christ.
Author: Rev. Dave Kulp
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