What’s Up With All the Roaring?

African Lion Roaring Animal Model

Maybe it’s just me, but every so often, it seems like a particular word or phrase becomes “trendy” in contemporary Christian worship music. For instance, 10-15 years ago, it was variations on the phrase “wings like eagles”(see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for examples of chart topping songs that came out between about 2001 and 2008). Don’t get me wrong… most of those are great songs that I’ve sung and led many times, and there’s nothing wrong with the phrase “wings like eagles”. It’s a biblical phrase, and we should sing it! But by 2008 I was pretty much ready for a break from feeling like I sang it all the time.

Today, I’m getting the same vibe from the words “roar” and “roaring.” It’s everywhere right now! Is it a biblical word? Absolutely.

So I get it… there’s a lot of roaring in the Bible, and there’s nothing at all wrong with using that term in our worship music. But until recently, that wasn’t a word I sang very often. Some notable exceptions being The Lamb is a Lion by Michael Card (1988); Shout to the Lord by Hillsong (1994); Holy Roar by Christy Nockels/Passion (1996); and She Must and Shall Go Free by Derek Webb (2002).

But lately, there’s been a lot more roaring on the radio and in our sanctuaries. It seems the trend began around 2009 with Daniel Bashta’s song Like a Lion:

The song’s popularity really began to take off when David Crowder covered the song during the 2010 Passion Conference (an annual trend-setting event). Two years later, it was covered by the Newsboys, which is the version that hit the radio ad nauseum, especially after the movie God’s Not Dead came out.

In 2012, Hillsong carried the growing “roaring” trend to the other end of the world with their song Glorious Ruins:

Once Hillsong and Passion have both used a phrase with great success, you can bet it starts working its way into more and more new songs! Sure enough, Chris Tomlin began roaring that same year with White Flag (though he also had a preliminary roar back in 2006 with Let God Arise). By 2014, Tomlin was all in with The Roar:

Here’s who else got in on the action in recent years:

I Am Yours, Lauren Daigle (2014)

Praise the King, Corey Voss (2014)

O Praise the Name, Hillsong (2015)

Jesus, Chris Tomlin (2016); see also All Yours from the same album

Lion and the Lamb, Bethel/Leeland (2016); also covered by Big Daddy Weave

What a Beautiful Name, Hillsong (2016); some lesser known roaring songs also by Hillsong: End of Days (2013); Love on the Line (2015); Prince of Peace (2015)

None of this is criticism, by the way, just observation. Again, most of these are good songs (and the blame doesn’t lie with the word “roar” in the ones that aren’t). And since I’m not a song writer, I’m not really in a position to criticize anyway. But as a lover of language and variety, I do sort of hope we’ll be coming out of this “roaring” phase soon…

State of the Blog

As I mentioned recently, I’ve been doing an overhaul of my blog. There are still improvements to be made, I’m sure, but at least I’ve gone through and repaired or updated several links that weren’t working in the sidebar and in some of my more popular articles over the past few years.

Speaking of popular articles, I came across some stats that WordPress keeps (but which I’ve never actually looked at before). There’s some interesting stuff there! For instance, in the past 90 days, I’ve had visitors to the blog from 105 different countries, but not a single viewer from the world’s most populous country (I suppose the Chinese can’t find the page on Google).

I’ve also seen a dramatic surge in website traffic recently. Granted, I’m still a small fish in a big blogosphere sea, but almost a quarter of my total page views (since I began this blog in 2008) have come in the last four months. Each of those months has been the busiest month ever, which is a trend I hope to continue in June! It’s for that reason I’ve been working on refining some of the spit & polish stuff around here.

Okay, I realize no one else cares about this stuff, so I’ll close this post with something which may interest you. Here are the top 10 most visited posts in this blog’s history, along with the reasons I think they were so popular. See what you’ve missed!

  1. Book Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy — Book reviews already account for the bulk of my page views (they are one of the main reasons I started the blog in the first place), but this one more than doubled the next highest book review! Partially this was because this has been a “hot” series lately, but also this post was shared and re-posted by a lot of people. (By the way: I always appreciate others posting links to my blog! If you see something you like, pass it on!)
  2. Answering Criticisms of My Review of the Hunger Games — That’s right. Suzanne Collins’ books accounted for both of the top spots! My third post about The Hunger Games just missed out on the top 10.
  3. Sample Lesson Plan: Doxology — This is a lesson plan I wrote for the “Systematic Hymnology” curriculum I’ve been developing for use in our church’s children’s choirs. I’ve refined my methods quite a bit since this early post, and these lesson plan posts are quite popular! Many others are posted on the Worship Ministry Blog. In fact, six of the hymnology posts on the other blog have hit totals that dwarf anything I’ve posted here on Honey & Locusts (including the HG review). I’ve stopped posting them, but haven’t stopped writing them. Someday (hopefully soon) I anticipate launching a new blog dedicated solely to hymnology. It’s probably my favorite topic to write on! Stay tuned for that…
  4. Book Review: Radical — David Platt’s a popular guy, so when I had the opportunity to review his first book before it was published, it caught the attention of lots of people! For whatever reason, my review of his second book generated very little traffic on the blog, but has been voted the “Most Helpful” review (out of more than 200!) for the book on Amazon. Go figure.
  5. Was Jesus a Liberal Democrat? — Ah, the power of a catchy/controversial title! This post refers to a segment on The Colbert Report over the use of the term “X-Mas”, which led me to write this post about the co-opting and mischaracterizing of Jesus for political reasons by those on both sides of the aisle. And, for the record, the answer is “no”.
  6. Joel Osteen, Rob Bell, and the Theologica Crucis — The hits on this one are probably misleading, as I suspect most people stumbled on it through Google searches of two of the most famous “pastors” in America, and probably didn’t actually read the whole article. Still, I thought it was a good one, in which I wrote about how the teachings of both men are different takes on the same heresy, which Martin Luther called the “theology of glory”.
  7. Does the Bible Obligate Christians to Support Israel? — This one is sort of cheating, as the bulk of this post is simply material written by others. But, as it’s a question on the minds of many, I’m happy to continue to direct readers to those who write better than I do.
  8. Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice — I’ve written several times about abortion, but this one (in which I take a close look at the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice”) has gotten the most interest… for now, at least. At the rate this recent post has been picking up views, I expect it will eventually become my most “popular” abortion post.
  9. God Is In the Details — This one was all Facebook traffic. When our family was involved in a wreck that totaled our car on the Interstate, Laurie and I posted this to update friends and family. Plus, it was a pretty cool story!
  10. To Thee All the Follies of Sin I Resign — This was a post I wrote the week our former pastor, Jimmy Arms, resigned from Stevens Street. I got a lot of traffic when I first posted it, as many SSBC members were interested. Since then, it has consistently picked up views as the result of search engine requests for “Stevens Street Baptist Church”, “pastor search”, and “Jimmy Arms”. I suppose many of those are people who were researching Bro. Jimmy as a guest speaker, or checking out our church before submitting a resume. It was good to go back and read this one last night as well, just after our church officially called our new pastor!

My thanks, as always, to those of you who visit the blog regularly. I haven’t made any effort to “monetize” the blog, and don’t really pay that much attention to the statistics most of the time. I don’t do this for money or fame, but I do appreciate the interaction with readers. I hope to continue to provide content that will keep you coming back!

The Truer and Better Politician

With all the political stuff I’ve been posting lately, this sermon clip from Darrin Patrick is a great reminder about our priorities as politically-invested Christians:

It bears repeating: “Our ultimate hope is in Jesus, not in some candidate.” I absolutely believe that Christians should be involved in the political process. We need to know where we stand on the issues and why, and we have a responsibility to know the same about the candidates vying for our votes.

But at the end of the day, we need to realize that no politician (not even Ron Paul!) is going to fix what’s wrong with the world. In the same way, we need to realize that no politician (not even Barack Obama!) is responsible for what’s wrong with the world, or capable of screwing it up beyond Christ’s capacity to set it right again.

Literature Links

The last few days have included several great reminders of why I love literature so much! In addition to completing a “modern classic” last week (Watership Down by Richard Adams; see my review), I’ve come across several other articles and books about the importance of good literature. Here are a few:

Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me — Besides being a fantastic singer/songwriter and author, Andrew Peterson is a fellow book-lover. I heartily affirm everything he writes in this article (right down to the unapologetic love for the Harry Potter series), but especially would call your attention to the second half, where he speaks of the power of storytelling to point to Christ by reminding us of the existence of Real beauty, truth, and goodness. “Because I believe that all truth is God’s truth, that the resurrection is at the heart of the Christian story, and the main character of the Christian story is Christ, because I believe in God the Father, almighty maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ his only begotten son—and because I believe that he inhabits my heart and has adopted me as his son, into his family, his kingdom, his church—I have the freedom to rejoice in the Harry Potter story, because even there, Christ is King. Wherever we see beauty, light, truth, goodness, we see Christ.”

Wrecking Books to Bring Them to Life — This article offers great suggestions for teachers and parents for encouraging students to read more, read better, and read critically. The Mortimer Adler book quoted in the article (How to Read a Book) is also a worthwhile investment! “Marking up a book is not an act of mutilation, but of love.”

Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books — This is a book due out at the end of September. It looks like it will be fantastic, and I can’t wait to get a copy! You can read a little more about the book, along with some endorsements, here.

Live Like a Narnian — This is an ongoing series that I’ve really enjoyed, exploring the world of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and their relevance to our lives (for a longer look at the same topic, check out Douglas Wilson’s book What I Learned in Narnia). Here are the four posts that have been published so far:

  1. Learning to Breathe Narnian Air
  2. Are Fairy Tales Just for Children?
  3. Three Objections to Fairy Tales and C.S. Lewis’ Response
  4. Narnia Helps Us Live Better Here

Tell the Coming Generation – Pt. 1

Over the next several days, I’d like to post some reflections on a Psalm that I read this week. I’ve read through all of the Psalms several times, but each time it seems one or two of them will stick out and speak to me in a way they never have before. So it was this week with Psalm 78.

First, a little background. Psalm 78 is a historical psalm, meaning that it recounts actual historical events. For some other examples of historical Psalms, check out Psalms 105 and 106. Psalm 78 was composed by Asaph, whom David appointed as chief musician; the leader of the Levites that had been assigned “to invoke, to thank, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel” on behalf of all of the Israelites (1 Chronicles 15:16-21; 16:4-7). The first eight verses of this psalm serve as an introduction and purpose statement, so we’ll jump right in.

Tell the Coming Generation
A Maskil of Asaph

1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
3 things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.

5 He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
6 that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
7 so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
8 and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Remembering in Every Generation

I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.”

One of the greatest themes in the Old Testament is that of remembrance. The word “remember” is used 184 times in the OT alone! The people of God are continually exhorted to remember what God has done for them, and what He has promised to do for them in the future. God ALWAYS remembers the promises He has made, and is faithful to keep His covenants (Deuteronomy 7:9).

Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied that Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Israel, given because God had remembered His promise (Luke 1:67-75). Jesus himself claimed to be the fulfillment of God’s promises written in the Law and Prophets (Matthew 5:17-18), that the Old Testament teachings should be taught and applied (Matthew 5:19), and that all these things were written about Himself (Luke 24:27). In fact, the apostle Matthew quoted Psalm 78 in reference to how Jesus taught (Matthew 13:35).

In the New Testament, Jesus and the apostles extended this theme of remembrance to the works and words of Jesus (John 15:20; Acts 20:35). The teachings of the early church that are recorded in Scripture are full of constant reminders of the work that Christ accomplished on the Cross (Galatians 3:13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:21, etc). Today, the message of the gospel is still all about remembering what Christ has done for undeserving sinners (Romans 5:8).

Responsibility to the Next Generation

We will… tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

After delivering Israel from bondage and giving them the Law, each generation was charged with teaching the next so that every generation would be able to remember what God had commanded and done for His people (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Psalm 145:4; Joel 1:3). Those who were obedient to the Lord did pass His Word on to their children (Deuteronomy 32:7; Proverbs 4:1-6).

In the New Testament, fathers are also told to raise our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Furthermore, older Christians are to instruct younger Christians in sound doctrine and righteous living (Titus 2:1-8). It is absolutely vital that we are teaching younger generations not only “Bible stories,” but sound theology. Our kids (and youth, and adults…) need to know that these are not simply stories, but True events that really happened, which are all part of the overarching redemptive story of God’s love for His people.

Learning From Previous Generations

… that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation…

One of the best ways that we learn is through mistakes — both our own, and those of others. Part of the lesson to be passed on to future generations has always been the failure of God’s people to uphold their end of their covenant with the Lord, though He is a God of faithfulness (Deuteronomy 32:4-5). Even when Israel broke their covenant with God, He promised a new, better covenant was coming, which would set things right and provide atonement for sin (Jeremiah 31:31-34). He would do this because He is holy, and must fulfill His promises, even though Israel had been disobedient. When He did this, His people would remember their unfaithfulness and be ashamed of their wicked ways (Ezekiel 36:22-32).

In both testaments, those who preach God’s Word speak of consequences for sin; not just for the sinner, but for future generations as well (Exodus 34:7). There is a pattern throughout Israel’s history of people forgetting God’s word, and the following generations would be disobedient. We still see this today, as children who grow up outside of Christian homes are far less likely to become Christians. How sad it is when children of Christians also fail to hear the Word!

But there is always hope. God makes a way where there is no way! We don’t have to repeat the mistakes of previous generations. In the first sermon after the arrival of the Holy Spirit, Peter exhorted the hearers to save themselves from their crooked generation… which made for quite the alter call (Acts 2:40-41)!

Jesus Christ is the guarantor and mediator of the promised new & better covenant (Hebrews 7:22; 8:6), which is made available through His blood (Luke 22:20), and of which we, as Christians, are made ministers by God’s power (2 Corinthians 3:5-6). May we be diligent in instructing the coming generation of this great covenant, owning up to our own failures even as we remind them of God’s everlasting faithfulness!

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” ~ Ephesians 3:20-21