One Voice

Download the song for free on NOISETRADE.

Some time ago my friend, Josh, and I were working with Crossroads Missions in New Orleans. We started talking about song writing and he told me about a chorus he had written that he used during a chapel time with the mission groups that were coming in [which is most of the chorus that is currently in the song].  I loved the focus on unity – especially in the context of the hundreds of churches, mission groups, and denominations working together during the rebuilding phase in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  My intention was to wrap some verses around the chorus and call it finished but it got shelved.  A couple years later I heard a teaching from another friend of mine about the words “hallelujah,” and “amen.” In summary, he stated that these two words were powerful because, in every language they were found across the globe, they meant the same thing: to praise God and to agree together.   I decided to do some of my own research about it and found this:

  • Hallelujah: Halal means to be clamorously foolish in praise and it combined with the name of God -Yahweh.
  • Amen: To agree, in unison, that something is truth.

This idea seemed to work well with the flow of the chorus that Josh wrote so I began to rework the song to incorporate a response with Hallelujah and Amen in the bridge and ending.  I wanted the song to be accessible lyrically and musically catchy so that it would be easy for people to sing in a short amount of time.  I began working out some lyrics for the verses that would help to explain the context of the response and serve as a connector for the chorus and bridge.  The final result became a congregational worship song that proclaims unity among believers and ends with a built-in response for any culture or language that might sing it!

Recently, a friend of mine suffered the loss of his mother.  He mentioned to me, as an encouragement, that the words “hallelujah” and “amen” are even being sung i
n heaven [Rev 19].  He was moved by the thought of his mother singing this song alongside him as we sang it in the services the week following her memorial.

It is exciting and humbling to see our new church community embrace these songs and to watch God use these them to minister to people in celebration and even in pain. I am thankful that God would use ordinary people like Josh and myself to write new songs and to inspire others to find refuge in His name.

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Lord, Have Mercy.

One of the earliest prayers of the Christian faith is the “Jesus Prayer” commonly recited by the Desert Fathers:  “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  It’s repeated commonly to remind us of the mercy we are constantly in need of as we live our day to day lives.  It is a prayer that I have been contemplating for a while and have found great power in as I have brought it to mind throughout my day. Lamentations 3 reminds us:

19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
    the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
    and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

While researching it I came across this quick article by Fr. Richard Rohr and thought it was worth reposting.  Also, the song “Lord Have Mercy” by Brady Toops at the end has aided me in singing this prayer and keeping it my mind.  Enjoy them both and may God’s mercy be in and throughout your life every single moment of every day.

Why We Need To Say ‘Lord, Have Mercy!’

By Richard Rohr (Originally posted on Huff Post Religion Here on July 28, 2015)

Is it any accident that the official liturgy begins with Kyrie, Eleison? It is the most common Christian short prayer, which is some form of “Have mercy on me!” In time, I have come to see how important this prayer is. It is at the heart of the classic Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner,” which the Eastern monks recited nonstop whenever possible.

This is not a self-demeaning prayer, nor a self-defeating prayer, nor is it a disempowering prayer. Relying upon mercy, in fact, protects you from the arrogance and pride that wants to judge others, even in your mind. It situates you in freedom from any sense of your own sufficiency or superiority, and affirms a non-need to justify yourself, and thus keeps your heart open for others and for God. It is basically a prayer for detachment from the self, both mind and heart, and its endless games of self-validation. “Lord, have mercy” seeks validation only from God and not from any inner or outer attempts to be worthy, independently “good,” or not-in-need-of-mercy.

Note that when you do not stand under the mercy, your mind almost certainly does one or all of three things: plays the victim, accuses others, or falsely exalts itself. When you honestly ask for mercy, you make all three of these responses unnecessary and, in a way, impossible.

“Lord, have mercy” makes your identity a totally received one (Just like the persons of the Trinity), a gift of grace, and nothing that you need to protect or can claim as your own.

Let Hope Rise…Hillsong United Movie?

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Warner Bros. is producing a film about Hillsong United entitled Let Hope Rise [lyrics from one of their popular songs].  Their music and influence has reached a level of popularity that a documentary is going to be released in theaters some time in April of 2015.  It will take an account of their journey to popularity from a little youth group band to being one of the most prolific worship bands in the world. Obviously, this is being marketed to christians, but it should be an interesting event in pop culture to see how critics, both christian and non-christian, treat the film as a whole.  They seem have to have an edge on the keeping up with the “coolest of cool” in terms of breaking new territory in the christian music and worship genre’s.

Here’s the trailer:

The Church In Exile

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I recently saw NT Wright speak at a local Bible College.  It was obviously thought provoking and filled the typical challenges you would come to expect from a theologian such as NT Wright. Oddly, the part that stuck with me wasn’t Wright but the man who introduced him to the stage.  He was a representative from Fuller Seminary and this is what he said:

“The church is no longer at the center of influence in our culture…we must be preparing the church for exile.

This thought isn’t new and physical exile isn’t necessarily what he was referring to.  In fact Judeo-Christianity has had plenty of historic moments in exile.  The most well known is, of course, found in Exodus as God’s people roamed around in a desert for 40 years as well as their life under the Roman regime during most of the New Testament accounts.  I believe he was referring to a time soon-to-come that places Christianity as oddities culturally, politically, and socially to the extent that we will be exiles on our own soil.  Neil Cole mentions his speculations on this in a recent blog series he posted.

One reason the statement caught my attention was the matter-of-factness with which he stated it.  He ASSUMED a tipping point had occurred and most of us listening had an understanding of what he was referring.  It would be foolish to ignore the fact that the christian influence in America has waned and will, most likely, continue over the next few years.  Maybe God has revival in our future but I too sense the church is heading into a time of cultural exile in America.  I believe, as a church leader, that I am responsible to prepare God’s people for it.  Not simply for the purpose of survival but for thriving within the pressure of this exile.  This preperation involves:

  • how we are to live in loving, gospel community together
  • how we are to present an alternative lifestyle contrary to the dominant culture we are immersed in
  • how we are to adhere to and protect God’s word
  • and how we are to be on mission in a new context where christian values are not embraced or even tolerated.

The questions to ask:

  • Are we adequately preparing the church?
  • Is the church actually as aware as this man supposed?
  • If he is correct, what should we do to prepare?
  • Are we willing to let go of old paradigms [traditions] to channel the gospel in new ways?
  • Are there aspects of our current expression of church that can’t survive without government help?

Again, it wouldn’t be the first time God’s people walked in exile. In fact the church often moves into a stage of spontaneous, unstoppable expansion when put under pressure.  I believe we can learn a lot from the scriptures and how God guided His people during those times [the book of Acts would be a great starting place] and that we should prayerfully consider how God might want us to live in the exile to come.

#PrayForSochi

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The question has been asked of me…why #PrayForSochi?  There’s a lot of pressure to host the Olympics well and I believe Russia has the heart and ability to do it!

As the Winter Olympics begin, God has brought my attention to pray for the competitors, the Russian Government, and the host city of Sochi.  It is an incredible rhythm that the world has engaged in where we come together to celebrate our nations in healthy competition in worldwide unity and on peaceful terms!  The implications of such an event have tremendous impact on the world.  While some may try to use this assembly for negative purposes, I believe this sort of gathering has huge potential for Kingdom movement that would be birthed within the time/place of the Olympics and go home with the competitors as they return to their respective countries.  I am inviting you to pray along with me over the next couple of weeks.  You can follow my twitter [@erikthien] for the play-by-play action while I be continually tweet prayers under the hashtag for the Olympics:

#PrayForSochi  

I found a helpful Prayer Calendar online that will help guide some of the themes from Engage Sochi.

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