Monthly Archives: January 2008

Passion: God of this City – My two cents

Well. I figured since I was going to be no.7 on Google search, I might as well give more than a one-word review, as accurate as it was.

1. Let God Arise – Chris Tomlin
I have no clue which gathering this is taken from, but I have a gut feeling it was the closing song of Passion 07 at Atlanta, because it sounds a lot like it. I might be wrong. Either way, it’s a pretty awesome opener to the album, and it has really given me second thoughts about this song, which did not stand out straight away on Tomlin’s See the Morning album.

2. You are God – Charlie Hall
I’m assuming this song was recorded from Atlanta as well and was the one available on iTunes. Again I might be wrong. But if it is, they’ve cut the song and left out the part where Charlie starts talking quite a bit. Regardless, it’s a good song – classic Charlie Hall.

3. God of this City – Chris Tomlin
This is an amazing song. There are songs that come every so often and grab your attention. This is one of them. The title song is really what makes Passion, well, Passion. Powerful crowd moments in this one. And it embodies the vision of Passion itself, that greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in cities around the world. Simply inspiring.

4. O For a Thousand Tongues to – David Crowder Band
This song has stayed in the uppermost recesses of my mind ever since those 4 days in Atlanta. One reason mainly because it was a new tune from my favourite band. But because there was something powerful about this song that just stayed with me. I eagerly wanted to hear a copy of the song, so I searched the web, but sadly no one had recorded it. Then when Remedy was announced, I was eager as a beaver. When the song came out, it did sound slightly different. And now I realise that my suspicions were right about the speed of the live version. As Everything Glorious was slower live, this song was faster live. Regardless, it’s a good song, made awesome by that one memory and the long wait 🙂

5. Hosanna – Christy Nockels
Impressive. Tomlin has increasingly used Hillsong United music in his worship sets. This one’s taken off one of the regionals, (after all the song came out after Atlanta) but it captures all the hook and verve of the original version, which happened to be the only song I truly enjoyed on the United CD – won’t go any further on this since our likes and dislikes are all rather relative anyways.

6. Sing Sing Sing – Chris Tomlin
People feared another Party. In defense of Party, I understand that songs that were powerful live might not sound as good to outsiders who weren’t part of the experience. But still… Anyways, no need to fear, because this song is just pure energy, Tomlin style.

7. Beautiful Jesus – Kristian Stanfill
Refreshing change from the usual Passion artists. It’s a simple but beautifully crafted (no pun with the title intended) song that sticks in your head and has you humming along unconsciously at times.

8. Walk the World – Charlie Hall
Another song that stuck with me at Atlanta. Not sure where this recording was from though. But this song is musically amazing and the chorus is plain catchy. And for me it embodied the message of Passion 07 as well, to shine.

9. We Shine – Steve Fee
Monster. Because I’ve run out of superlatives. But this was a monster recording. Transports you back to the moment of the song.

10. God of our Yesterdays – Matt Redman
New Redman song. Was looking forward to hear it when news of this album came out. After the previous monster of a song, this song opens on a rather soft note, with the keys playing. And this is a song with a message very much in the vein of Redman’s Blessed be Your Name and You Never Let Go, married to a tune that well, you can only describe as befitting it.

11. Glory of It All – David Crowder Band
The most powerful moment of Passion 07 for me, which left me in a profound state of mind after the tears of the previous songs. Granted I do believe the recording’s taken from the Philips Arena, whereas I experienced this song at the GWCC. But it is the same song, and it’s probably my favourite song at this point in time, because it’s a simple reminder of what this life is really all about. Simple lyrics, Crowder music, divinely inspired experience – what more do I have to say?

12. Shine – Matt Redman
This was also one of those powerful moments of worship at Passion 07. And the poetry in this song is actually fantastic. It was one of those songs that would just stick in your head afterwards. Can a songwriter ask for anything else?

13. Dancing Generation – Matt Redman
This song feels a bit strange. The crowd sounded slightly half hearted at the start and in places. If this was Atlanta, maybe because it was only day two, and the first song of the morning session? Either way, it’s probably the least favourite song of the whole album for me. But maybe that’s just because the others were amazing (no pun intended regarding the title of the next song either) *EDIT*Well with a couple more listens, this song does begin to grow on you…*EDIT*

14. Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) – Chris Tomlin
This is the one that was available on iTunes as well. It’s a good song. It was a worshipful moment. But hearing it on the album, it does feel a bit long. My favourite version of Amazing Grace is still the Crowder one that’s circulating on YouTube.
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Well that’s my song-by-song two cents. But there’s a saying: the sum of the whole is greater than its parts. And this is certainly the case for Passion: God of This City. It is an awesome album, with awesome moments, but more importantly it has a message for us to go and do something awesome, because our God is awesome. There are a collection of inspiring worship numbers that might become rather popular with the global church. And it’s certainly my favourite of the series so far, after the 2005 album, because there’s just something powerfully inspiring about it that I can’t place my finger on…God maybe?

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#14: January 31, 2008

I deviated to post a review on the latest Passion album. Yes, it is a one word review, because it simply is awesome. Incidentally, I’m also 7th on the Google search results if you type “Passion God of this City”. Haha. Anyways today’s Bible reading was from Exodus 4-6.
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Do we ever doubt the power of God?

When things don’t seem to be working out, or our circumstances are getting worse and our efforts seem futile, we doubt God is at work. We feel so easily discouraged and burnt out, coming up with excuses to get away from the ‘Christian life’ for a while.

Here in Exodus, Moses was in a similar situation. God had commanded him to lead Israel out of Egypt, but Pharaoh instead doubled the burden of the Israelites, which broke their spirits. God then tells Moses to go tell Pharaoh to let his people go. But Moses then expresses his doubts over his ability to carry it out – pointing out that even his own people would not listen to him. And at this point, God must be feeling rather bemused and angry. After all His promises to Moses to work through him and the displays of His power to Moses, why is Moses now saying that his words are going to be useless? It’s not Moses words that will matter, but it will be God’s outstretched arm that will bring Israel out of Egypt. Thus we see God dismiss Moses’ excuse and charge him to carry out the task.

I believe that today a lot of discouragement and burnout can stem from the fact that we forget who is really at work. Sure, we might be the one labouring, but our labours are in vain if God is not present, for it is by God’s outstretched arm that all His works will be done. God is saying do the work. It doesn’t really matter whether you think you can get results or not. If you have the ability to say a few simple words, then say the few simple words. If you have the ability to carry out a few simple tasks, then carry them out. I’ll deliver the results.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Passion: God of this City – Album Review

Awesome.

#13: January 30, 2008

Today was the start of Exodus. Exodus begins with the oppression of the Israelites, who have become fruitful in the land of Egypt, and are greatly feared by the Egyptians. Into these circumstances does the story of Moses begin. Today’s reading was from Exodus 1-3.
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Why a ‘burning bush’?

Well, it sure attracted Moses’ attention. “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” The bush is described as burning, but not consumed.

But why not a speaking animal? Or a dream? Or writing on the wall? Or a storm cloud? Why a burning bush?

God does not play dice. I don’t think He puts His hand into a bag and pulls out a piece of paper that says “burning bush”. He had a purpose for speaking to Moses through a burning bush. If it was to attract Moses’ attention, I’m pretty certain a speaking animal, dreams, writing appearing on a wall, or a storm cloud would be equally attention grabbing.

So if it’s not to get Moses’ attention, it’s to show something about God. And here’s what I think the symbolism is.

God is like a fire. Hebrews describes Him as a ‘consuming fire’. Yet the bush was clearly not consumed. BUT the place was refined. God called it holy and instructed Moses to take off his sandals. God is a fire. He refines those He has called, who He then justifies, who He then glorifies. We are like metal with impurities. We go into God’s fire and He refines us, only leaving pure metal behind. But to those who have not been called and justified, He does not glorify by refining. He consumes.

It’s quite harsh imagery in a way. The image of God as fire is used several times throughout the Bible. And I think I’ll point it out along the way. But for today, I want to raise something. If we are sons of God, and the Spirit of God is in us, it is a flame that is in us. But how hot is that flame in us? How bright is that flame in the lives of others? Sometimes we cover it with a lampshade. But I believe there’s a need to let it burn bright. To show that God is here with us. And that we are not consumed. Then maybe people will turn aside to see this great sight, and question like Moses: why we are not burned?

#12: January 29, 2008

Well. Genesis is finished. Today’s reading came from Chapters 48-50. Exodus is up next in the chronology, but that’s tomorrow.
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“Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?”

That’s a beautiful statement of love. Joseph’s brothers feared revenge from their younger sibling for all the evil they had caused him in his youth. They came and begged forgiveness for the transgressions they had committed against Joseph. But Joseph replied with an amazing question, “Am I in the place of God?”

It is God’s place to judge evil in this world, not us. Joseph’s recognised this. Furthermore, his response was the complete opposite – he comforted his brothers and assured them that he would continue to provide for them and their families. This act of love seems impossible. But then we turn our attention to what Joseph says in between. He appeals to the sovereign grace of God in assuring his brothers – “do not fear”. Joseph acknowledged that all that had taken place had been ordained by God, that in His grace, God had paved the way forward for His people and used evil for good. The grace of God was sufficient for Joseph’s sense of justice, freeing him to love unconditionally.

The parallels with our world today are striking. There are some truths that are just timeless. When confronted with evil, we should not judge, we should not take revenge, but we should love. “Love your enemies” was one of Jesus’ commands. It’s impossible to do this, aside from the grace of God. As Joseph appealed to it, so we appeal to it today. The grace of God is sufficient to satisfy our needs, and the wrath of God will satisfy the need for judgment.

What is more beautiful today than in the time of Joseph is that both the grace of God and the wrath of God have met in a single place, on the cross of Jesus Christ, where the wrath of God was spent, and the grace of God became available to us.

#11: January 28, 2008

Today’s reading was from Genesis 46-47. I struggled to frame my thoughts for this post, wrestling with the language and the parallels in the story. So I have a niggling feeling that there might be inaccuracies, which I can’t quite pick out at the moment.
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It’s worth sitting up and taking note when God names Himself. In Genesis 46:3, God appears to Jacob in a ‘vision of the night’, and says, “I am God, the God of your father.”

Why does God introduce Himself as the God of Isaac?

Well, in fact, God also introduces Himself to Isaac as the God of Abraham, Isaac’s father. And it was with Abraham that God established His covenant (promise – binding in God’s case), to make him the father of a multitude of nations. That he would be God to his offspring just as He was God to Abraham. And it is by this that Isaac and Jacob know who God really is. The knowledge of God was woven into their family history. Therefore when God appeared to Jacob, and Isaac before him, He would identify Himself as God of their father, and they would instantly understand who He was. And furthermore, they would look at the covenant God had established with Abraham and marvel at God’s faithfulness to His people.

Today, if God was to name Himself before His followers in Jesus, He would no longer need to say “I am the God of your father.” He would say “I am your father.” This is the new covenant, bought with the blood of Jesus, shed for the propitiation of our sin. As Romans phrases it, “we have received the Spirit of sonship”, and we are “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ”. It is an eternal covenant, that despite the many generations of Christians that have lived and died, we are all still considered children of God – we’re not grandsons or granddaughters, inheriting our faith from our parents, but we inherit our faith from God Himself. God establishes this covenant with each one of us through Jesus Christ, if we are faithful to keep it.

If Isaac, Jacob, and all who followed them took pride in their identity as sons of Abraham, inheriting the covenant of their forefather, how much more pride should we take in being sons of God, inheriting the covenant from God himself – the promise that He will be our God?

#10: January 27, 2008

Well. Resolution #7 is going good. Today’s reading was from Genesis 43-45.

God moves in mysterious ways. Who could have foretold the entire story of Joseph, from the day he was taken away, to the day he was reunited with his brothers? And that Joseph would become Lord of all Egypt? That the entire saga was all part of God’s plan to preserve and prosper his chosen people?

But I think what was even more amazing was that Joseph recognised the hand of God in his life. That despite how things turned out, for better or worse, he knew the hand of God was orchestrating his life, from beginning to end. He testified to it before Pharaoh. He testified to it before his household. He testified to it before his brothers.

Sometimes I wonder if we can say the same thing ourselves. Do we really recognise the sovereignty of God over every aspect of our lives? That He is a God in control? That everything that happens does not happen without His permission? Nothing in history has been a mistake. God does not make mistakes. And thus we are not a mistake. We are in this time and place for a purpose. God has chosen to impart to us a saving knowledge of Jesus – although whether we trust in that is another matter – for a purpose. The purpose comes from the fact that there are many who are not as privileged to know who Jesus really is. Our purpose is thus rather simple: to testify about Jesus before everyone.

Yet as simple as it is, the question I then find myself facing is whether I have the boldness of Joseph to trust in God for everything. Do I really recognise the sovereignty of God over every aspect of my life? For it is from the assurance of God’s sovereignty that courage spills forth. The courage to stand and testify to the grace of God before those who have not heard. And in all honesty, as much as I strive to, there are strongholds in my life where I have not allowed God to break in. And it is with utmost sincerity that I pray for His power to tear down those walls.