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Christ The Power, Christ The Wisdom Album
Worth It All Album
One Hope One Boast Album

VISION

 

When I (Tim) was in college I had a mentor who at the time was conducting research on the persecuted church. His research took him to over forty or fifty countries. One of the primary questions he often asked persecuted believers was something like:

What has God used to sustain you through times of persecution?

Two of the answers that were often given in response were 1) Scriptures they had committed to memory, and 2) songs. I remember being touched recently while reading a book about a Chinese believer named Brother Yun. The book is entitled The Heavenly Man, and in the book Yun tells many testimonies about God sustaining him through times of severe persecution. On several occasions, he mentions songs as one of the key factors that God used to give him strength through those times.

God using music to strengthen His people through times of hardship is by no means a new thing. In Acts 16, we see a powerful example of God using songs to impart hope and courage into the hearts of His servants undergoing difficulty and persecution: 

The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:22-25

Not only were Paul and Silas themselves strengthened through the hymns they were singing, but God also used them as a testimony to the other prisoners.

Whether a trial takes the form of financial hardships, family pressures, illness, slander from enemies, loss of various kinds, demonic attacks, imprisonment, temptation to sin, or physical violence, songs that in some way embody the gospel entrusted  by Jesus to the apostles can be a powerful source of strength for believers. The vision of this worship album, therefore, is very simple: to avail the saints of a genre of songs that remind us to carry the cross faithfully in this age, in the hope of what awaits us at the Second Coming. Throughout the New Testament, it is always the latter that motivates the former:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. Matt. 16:24-27 NIV

 

When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. Acts 14:21-22 ESV

 

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Php. 3:10-11 NIV

 

So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 1 Th. 3:1-4 NIV

 

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Rom. 8:17-18 NIV

 

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Pet. 1:13

 

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Tit. 2:11-14 NIV

 

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” Heb. 10:32-38 NIV

 

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. Jam. 1:12 NIV

 

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. Rev. 2:10 NIV

It is the hope of resurrection and eternal glory at the Second Coming that impels us to deny ourselves in this age, cling to Jesus through hardships no matter what, and extend mercy to sinners as we ourselves have received great mercy from God. We have one boast—the cross— as we race toward one hope—the Second Coming. As we enter the final hours of this present age, a steadfast grounding in this framework will be more indispensable than ever:

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. He who has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. Rev. 13:5-10 NIV

“If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go”… Do we take these words from the lips of the apostle John seriously? If so, are we as worship leaders taking the time to carefully think through what kind of songs might actually sustain believers through “captivity,” i.e. prison or a prison camp type of experience similar to that experienced by saints such as Corey Ten Boom and Eric Liddell during World War II? This may sound extreme to some, but the Word of God is the Word of God. We ignore it to our own peril.

As these days grow closer, our prayer is that God will put it on the hearts of more and more worship leaders throughout the world to write songs solidly anchored in the true gospel taught and preached by the holy apostles in the New Testament. This project is an attempt by a weak man and his family to contribute to such an arsenal, however imperfectly, amidst the daily bustle of changing diapers, washing dishes, and bed-time routines. Most of the songs in this proposed album came forth in small group or family prayer meetings amidst our travels to various parts of the world. More than anything, then, they have been part of our effort to disciple our children in the way of truth.