Hope Where There Was None: A Review

I haven’t written a blog post in quite some time, but listening to Loud Harp’s new album Hope Where There Was None has inspired me to return to the computer (just this once for now) to endorse this album.

Hope Where There Was None, which was just released today, is a demonstration of Loud Harp’s growing ability to take biblical truths and weave them into atmospheric music that is approachable, especially for those going through genuine hurt. The entire theme of the album is Immanuel, God with us. The reality of God’s presence in the midst of every crisis we face is the simple but profound truth that every song breathes out. “Weeping Mary” introduces the album with a call to all those who are weeping, sinking, and doubting. The subsequent songs point the listener to God as the one who provides strength, joy, peace, and hope when we come to the end of ourselves and turn to Him. The final song, “Sew My Heart,” ends the album with a prayer to God, asking Him to sew our hearts to His Word with the expectation that our worries will fade away as we focus on His truth.

As a Bible college graduate, I greatly appreciate Loud Harp’s talent in incorporating profound truths from Scripture into beautifully crafted music. Take these lyrics from the song “Steady” as an example:

You’re the joy in the middle of my pain (James 1:2)
You’re the peace I cannot explain (Philippians 4:7)
You’re the love I’ll never escape (Romans 8:38-39)
You are, You are God (Psalm 46:10)

I added biblical references at the end of each line to demonstrate how saturated this album is with God’s truth. As I listened through this album, I was reminded of the many promises and truths in Scripture that I literally clung to during a time of trial. I was led to praise many times during the past two weeks while listening to this album, remembering God’s faithfulness during seasons of trouble.

Hope Where There Was None is a much needed antidote to our culture’s prevailing advice to turn inward and trust in yourself during times of trouble. The message of Loud Harp’s new album rejects this notion, turning instead to God, His Word, and His faithful presence for sustenance during the trials of life. I would say that this album is especially needed for those in hurt. The prayerful and worshipful tone of HWFWN makes the album so approachable. Loud Harp seems to understand that some people are in need of an alternative to the upbeat CCM songs that are constantly played on Christian radio. Several of the songs follow the pattern of many psalms, acknowledging the difficulty of a situation but calling to mind God’s truth and praising him for the strength He provides. Loud Harp’s talents are much needed for those walking through difficult times, as they ultimately point the listener back to God.

Whether or not you are going through tough times, Hope Where There Was None is worth buying and listening to. The album has been greatly encouraging for me, and I hope that you find it an encouragement as well.

Christian Voting Part 4: My Dirty Little Secret

In my previous three blogs, I explored: my disagreement with the “lesser of two evils” debate, what it means to “seek the good/welfare of the city,” and asked the question, “who will suffer and does it matter?” In this last post, I want to take a short time to explore the lie that “my political choice is between me, God, and no one else!”

As I stated before, this post is appearing on “The Green Room” which is a blog by the students and alumni of Eternity Bible College. These are my opinions and in no way does what I write in this series exclusively express the positions of Eternity Bible College’s students, staff or alumni. My hope is that if students, staff or alumni disagree with me, we could do what Christians out to do, to dialogue in a healthy, scripturally based manner.

Recently I read an article in the “Coalición por el Evangelio” (The Gospel Coalition, Spanish version) which walked through some reasons why the author, as a Chilean-American struggled with his choices in this year’s election. At the end of his article, he wrote something to the tune of, “who you vote for is ultimately between you and God.” His statement seems to be reflective of a lot of articles I’ve read in these last few months. I’ve heard/read people vehemently argue for their candidate with implications that it is our Christian duty to vote for said candidate but they always close with the classic, “but who you vote for is between you and God.”

ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?! One of the unfortunate effects of individualism in the Western Church is that we’ve forgotten that we have been saved into a people, a covenant community; we form part of the family of God.

Now, because there is no such thing as the “perfect Christian candidate” I understand the idea that in this election (or any for that matter) there isn’t a “Christian vote” and a “non-Christian” vote and therefore every vote will vary, Christian to Christian. I don’t have time or space to do a proper study for you, but an overwhelming majority (I want to say over 75%) of the commands given in Scripture are given corporately, to a group of people. The entire Old Testament, as well as every book in the New Testament with the exceptions of Luke-Acts, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, are specifically written to a group of people, not to an individual!

Here’s why this matters: the data demands that the Christian life is not meant to, nor possible to live alone. Have you ever tried to “one another” yourself? You can’t, it is literally impossible! The overarching concept of what means to live as a Christian is that Jesus is the Christ/Messiah; translation, Jesus is King over every aspect of your life, including politics.

Before I started writing this blog series, I would have imagined Christians would generally agree that Jesus is King over our lives and the truths of the Gospel ought to permeate every aspect of who we are, not just our “Sunday morning” life – sadly my interactions with folks has brought me to conclusion that many Christians’ lives are idolatrously compartmentalized, allowing Jesus to be King only over aspects of life they see fit. The idea that Jesus is only Lord over part of your life has zero finding in Scripture and I would doubt there is a genuine relationship with the Creator of anyone who claimed otherwise. The statement, “Jesus is King” also has an influence on our political lives in America. Many of my readers agree with this, that’s why the social-media feeds are filled with reasons to support their candidate.

Let’s get back to the point, since the Christian life is not meant to, nor possible to live alone; why does our political decision-making process happen alone in the privacy of our own voting booth? How in the world can we say that a person’s vote is between them and God when nothing else in the Christian life is meant to be done alone? I’m not knocking the act of voting here nor the fact that we go into booths privately to vote, I’m knocking our practice to assume we can/should make this decision alone; just you, God and your 10-15 minutes of quiet time in the morning; to do so doesn’t fit within God’s design for his people.

For those of us who will vote in this election and upcoming elections, we were not created to make these decisions alone and therefore we will not be able to faithfully allow Jesus to be King over this aspect of our lives if we try to do it alone. Let us not fall into the deception of American individualism which tells us that we should make this decision alone, we need other believers to dialogue with! An individual’s autonomy is not a gift, it is a curse.

Do you have a candidate that you support? Are you pretty sure who you will vote for in this coming election? You need to find other believers to challenge you from Scripture to vote another way and then make your decision based on the truths of Scripture pressed out by the covenant community into which you’ve been saved.

A Very Dangerous Place To Be 

Herein lies a danger; if the Church’s political history tells me anything, most of us will either refuse to listen to feedback or surround ourselves with people who think just like us. Both of these reactions are small, arrogant and fueled with a weakness and a fear that a brother or sister may have an argument which shatters our perfectly groomed world. If you choose to take this posture, know you are choosing a posture of pride, not humility, and contrary to the American world-view, pride is a not a good thing.

If you find that you do not know and dialogue with a Christian who is voting for a candidate other than yours, you are in a very dangerous place. You are susceptible to hard-headed, stiff-necked thinking, a mindset that has built up dogmatic barriers against the transforming truths of Scripture. Let me give you a hint; if you do not find yourself asking the opposing side to present Scripturally based arguments, and if you are not swayed (even slightly) by valid, Scripturally based arguments, you have already bunkered yourself into a dogmatic, pride-fueled, stiff-necked mindset;  you are already in a very dangerous place.

My challenge to you is this: Find other believers who hold a strong commitment to Scripture because you were not created to do this alone. Wrestle with opposing views and seek to see their legitimacy, because arrogance is fueled by pride and pride will lead nowhere but demise. Decide now if your ultimate allegiance is to Christ, because Christian thinking is based on Kingdom values, not American ones. Choose in wisdom to exercise or not to exercise your Christian liberty to vote, because your liberties were not given to you to build an earthly Kingdom, they were given in order that the world might experience the grace, love, and compassion of Jesus.

Jesse Pinkman and the Hope of Heaven

Breaking Bad is one of my favorite shows ever. It’s about a high school chemistry teacher, Walt, becoming a meth cook with a former chemistry student, Jesse, in order to provide for his family after Walt discovers that he has cancer. Walt’s choices affect everyone around him—especially his DEA agent brother-in-law, Hank—and the show spends five seasons building a throbbing climax until Walt’s empire of drugs, murder, and lies rapidly crumbles around him. One of my favorite scenes comes towards the end of the series. Jesse has just found out that Walt manipulated him for the thousandth time and hurt someone Jesse loves. In an intensely emotional scene, Jesse stumbles furiously around Walt’s house splashing a can of gas to burn it down. “He can’t keep getting away with it,” he screams through tears. “He can’t keep getting away with it!”     Continue reading

How To Perform Biblical Triage

I’ve been on medical mission trips that would set up free clinics in villages. The first place in the clinic that people would go to is triage. This is where people are assessed by someone in order to determine to which doctor they should be sent. If there’s an issue with headaches, they would be sent to one doctor. For stomach problems, they would be sent to a different doctor, and so on. Triage is super important, because if you get sent to the wrong doctor, you might not be treated for whatever problem you have. A correct diagnosis ensures an effective treatment and recovery. Continue reading

Cleaning Your Lenses

I wear glasses. Even though I own contacts, I prefer using my glasses when I know I have lots to read for school (which is pretty typical, nowadays). Those of you who own glasses have experienced those moments when you put on your glasses and notice smudges or dirt on your glasses. Do you typically just shrug your shoulders and go on with the day? Poppycock! You spend 10 seconds cleaning your glasses so you can see clearly.

Why all the talk about glasses? Continue reading

Speaking God’s Honor To Yourself

I took a summer class this year on the theology of honor and shame. It is definitely in my top 5 favorite classes at Eternity Bible College. It only lasted two weeks, but they were intense and loaded with information. Honor theology is definitely not discussed enough in America. My professor wrote a great introduction to honor theology, which can be purchased here (it’s currently on sale). Below is a journal entry that I wrote for one of my assignments. At the end of the first week, we had to reflect on different questions related to honor and shame for 2 hours, so I decided to journal. The following is my answer to the question, “To live free of shame, what is the one biblical truth (or verse) you ought to remind yourself daily of?Continue reading