February 1st, 2010 by M. French



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October 10th, 2009 by M. French

It’s John Lennon’s birthday today, and as often happens with figures like Lennon, discussion on the meaning of his life and legacy is coming forth. Who was he? A pop artist? A product of marketing geniuses? A lost soul in need of boundaries and structure? Perhaps he was many of these things, but I think a keen insight into who he really was came in an interview in which he was asked whether his songs “Give Peace a Chance” and “Power to the People” were propaganda songs. His reply was, “Sure. So was ‘All You Need Is Love’. I’m a revolutionary artist. My art is dedicated to change.”

True, the change he was seeking was at best insufficient, and at worst destructive, but one can’t help but respect that he saw himself, in the end, as a “revolutionary artist.” This brings up the question though, if John Lennon was attempting to change the world through art with his human-inspired message, where are the revolutionary artists in the Kingdom of God who will change the world with their God-inspired message? Who is going beyond simply writing nice worship songs, and creating music that will change and inspire an entire generation to unashamedly follow the Messiah and love God with all their being?

With this question in mind, here are are a list of my top 3 Jesus propaganda songs. These are songs that have gone beyond being “nice” Christian songs, and have attempted to do something more. One strips, one convicts, and the other ignites. May they inspire the budding revolutionary artists in our midst to affect change through their chosen mediums:

3. How He Loves – John Mark McMillan

Something of a departure from the other songs on this list, while still being propaganda in a similar vein to John Lennon’s “All You Need is Love,” “How He Loves” has become more anthem than song, and is some of the rawest music you’ll ever hear. Written the day after John Mark McMillan’s best friend died in a car-wreck, it provides verses that strip you of all your defenses, and resolves in a chorus that lifts you into a place that would seem too good to be true, if not for the deep abiding knowledge that it is perhaps the truest statement you’ve ever heard (the chorus stands alone as one of only two or three I never tire of singing). “How he loves us, oh, how he loves us.”

And for everyone that has issues with the lyric “heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss” (David Crowder changed this lyric on his cover of the song), don’t worry, this lyric is not about tongue-kissing God, it’s about the realm of heaven meeting the realm of earth, with the result being something that is both beautiful and messy (and what’s messier than a sloppy wet kiss?). John Mark discusses this lyric and how people reacted to David Crowder changing it on his blog:

Some folks are genuinely sad because a song so personal to them seems to have been messed with, and others seem to be glad that you can now sing this song in church with your grandparents. I understand both of those sentiments, and don’t have an issue with either. Still many of the people, on both ends, who seem to be making a big deal out of it, have both seemed to misunderstand the lyric. It seems that people either hate it or love it because they think I’m some how talking about kissing God. Please folks, I never ever, ever, ever, thought of this line as though it was talking about kissing God. Please read the words.

“HEAVEN meets EARTH like a sloppy wet kiss”

The idea behind the lyric is that the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of earth converge in a way that is both beautiful and awkwardly messy. Think about the birth of a child, or even the death of Jesus himself. These miracles are both incredibly beautiful and incredibly sloppy (“gory” may be more realistic, but “Heaven meets earth like a gory mess” didn’t seem to have the same ring). Why does the church have such a problem with things being sloppy? Do we really think we’re fooling anyone on Sunday morning, especially God? Are we going to offend him? I mean, he’s seen us naked in the shower all week and knows our worst thoughts, and still thinks we’re awesome. What if we took all the energy we spent faking and used that energy to enjoy the Lord instead? That could be revolutionary!

Revolutionary indeed. The video below is from The Call: Nashville, and begins with John Mark talking about what inspired the song.

[Link to Video]

He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me.

Oh, how He loves us so
Oh, how He loves us
How He loves us so.

Yeah, He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves.

So we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean we’re all sinking
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart turns violently inside of my chest
And I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way

That he loves us,
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves

2. Send the Fire – William Booth

Will­iam Booth published this hymn in the Sal­va­tion Ar­my’s War Cry hymnal in 1894. This song delivers a cry for God to send the fire of the Holy Spirit into our lives that we might wreck the world for the glory of the Messiah. When the fire comes, the lyrics declare, “every trace of sin” will be burned up, we will “live a dying world to save,” and the revolution will “now begin.” Lord, send the fire! The video below is a rendition of the song performed by Lindell Cooley at The Call: Nashville.

[Link to Video]

Thou Christ of burning, cleansing flame,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
Thy blood bought gift today we claim,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
Look down and see this waiting host,
Give us the promised Holy Ghost;
We want another Pentecost,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!

God of Elijah, hear our cry:
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
To make us fit to live or die,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
To burn up every trace of sin,
To bring the light and glory in,
The revolution now begin,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!

’Tis fire we want, for fire we plead,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
The fire will meet our every need,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
For strength to ever do the right,
For grace to conquer in the fight,
For power to walk the world in white,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!

To make our weak hearts strong and brave,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
To live a dying world to save,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
O see us on Thy altar lay
Our lives, our all, this very day;
To crown the offering now we pray,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!

1. Asleep in the Light – Keith Green

Where to begin with this song? I remember first reading some of the lyrics of this song and wondering with amazement that such a song had ever existed. Where did it come from? All I had heard up to that point in my life as a believer were songs that, while true as far as things went, never seemed to really inspire or convict me. “All this and heaven, too?” seemed to be as deep as most of the songs I played as a worship leader or listened to on Christian radio would go. But this… this was a song that pierced my heart and shook me up. “The world is sleeping in the dark, That the church can’t fight, cause it’s asleep in the light.” Yes, this song was right! Yet I’d never heard anyone in the church say it, let alone a musician. “God’s calling and you’re the one, but like Jonah you run, He’s told you to speak, but you keep holding it in.” This is what I did. This is what my friends did. Yes, yes, yes! This is me!

After searching for this mysterious musician online, I was saddened to learn that the musician I’d been waiting for since I’d been saved had been dead for 20 years! Oh, how deflating that was. Still, his music speaks even from his grave. Lovely sweet positive music this is not. It’s real and devastating, yet hopeful in the midst of its honesty, and by the end of the song you’re not singing about how much more committed and devoted you will be to God, you are singing about “coming away” with Jesus. Honestly coming before the Master and exposing to him your compromise, fear, and selfishness, and embracing his power and passion to live an internally consistent, Jesus-exalting existence. This is the answer to the dilemma posed by the song. “Come away, from this mess, come away with Me, My love.”

[Link to Video]

Do you see, do you see, all the people sinking down,
Don’t you care, don’t you care, are you gonna let them drown,
How can you be so numb, not to care if they come,
You close your eyes and pretend the job’s done.

Oh Bless me Lord, bless me Lord, you know it’s all I ever hear,
No one aches, no one hurts, no one even sheds one tear,
But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds, and He cares for your needs,
And you just lay back and keep soaking it in, oh, can’t you see it’s such sin?
Cause He brings people to your door,
And you turn them away, as you smile and say,

God bless you, be at peace, and all Heaven just weeps,
Cause Jesus came to your door, you’ve left Him out on the streets.

Open up, open up, and give yourself away,
You’ve seen the need, you hear the cry, so how can you delay,
God’s calling and you’re the one, but like Jonah you run,
He’s told you to speak, but you keep holding it in,
Oh, can’t you see it’s such sin?

The world is sleeping in the dark,
That the church can’t fight, cause it’s asleep in the light,
How can you be so dead, when you’ve been so well fed,
Jesus rose from the grave, and you, you can’t even get out of bed,
Oh, Jesus rose from the dead, come on, get out of your bed.

How can you be so numb, not to care if they come,
You close your eyes and pretend the job’s done,
You close your eyes and pretend the job’s done,
Don’t close your eyes, don’t pretend the job’s done.
Come away, come away, come away with Me, My love,
Come away, from this mess, come away with Me, My love.

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