Chris August, 7X70
March 8, 2011

Being embraced by the Word family came as quite a shock to former indie artist Chris August.  I heard just a part of his story a the Gospel Music Association songwriting showcase this past summer in Nashville.  This was just before Chris and co-writer Ed Cash (a songwriting giant in his own right) performed Starry Night for those of us at Immerse.  I heard about sixteen new songs that night by the people who wrote them, but this was one that I took with me.  So, like a rabid new fan, the moment the album dropped, I picked it up on iTunes.  And while Starry Night is awesome, singable and probably something I will lead my church to sing occasionally, it wasn’t the highlight of the album for me.

No, instead it was a song titled 7X70.  It is a song about forgiveness, specifically within family.  He states that there was screaming, heart breaking and other hurt in his home.  And then he says this, “Seven times seventy times, I’ll do what it takes to make it right.”

This of course, echoes the scripture from Matthew 18.  Peter asks Jesus how many times should he forgive?  Up to seven times?  Jesus replies, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (NIV)  Here the Lord is using hyperbole, or exaggeration for the sake of effect.  What he means is not a precise number, but instead we should forgive when we are sinned against, always.  This is so counter to our nature, but we must strive for this.  Why?  Because the Lord has done no less for us.  But especially in the context of family, we must forgive.  These are the people we typically have the most contact with and therefore most likely to offend.  Yet, the family is one of the institutions that God has given us to receive his blessing, be challenged with and responsible for.  Forgiveness is essential.  Another great truth delivered in a sweet musical treat.  Download and enjoy!

Matt Maher, Christ is Risen
December 9, 2010

Christ is Risen, Matt Maher

Song: Christ is Risen

Artist: Matt Maher

Album:  Alive Again

Genre:  Worship/CCM

Introduction:

There are some songs that hook a friend.  They tell you five or six times, “You’ve got to hear this song.”  Then I blow them off with a, “Yeah, I’ll be sure to get right on that.”  Inside I probably do want to go listen to it, but life gets in the way and I forget.  Then there are those songs where the youth minister says, “Hey, I want you to play this song for the youth group.”  When a request like that is made, I tend to take it a little more seriously.  This is precisely what happened to me with Christ is Risen. I was all set to lead worship for our church cabin at Fall’s Creek and this was the only song the minister requested by name.  So I learned it.  Then I fell in love with it.  As a worship song it really fit our group well.  When I came back to lead for our contemporary service, it worked there too.  Could it be; a song that works well with a solo acoustic guitar and with a full band?  Yes, and I have been telling everyone about it since.

Music:

The song begins with an engaging musical hook, a great use of octaves on a piano.  The chord progressions throughout are simple and elegant.  The pre-chorus sets up the chorus nicely.  The whole song is sing-able, which is a must for any corporate worship song.  The bridge contains a satisfying build that is supported with superb lyrics.  It doesn’t feel overproduced and is fairly easy to replicate in a church setting while at the same time being pleasing to listen to while you drive.

Lyrics:

Christ is Risen provides truth and hope in the proper context.  This is not a fluffy, “Jesus, Jesus, nah, nah, nah,” song.  The whole text centers on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  It goes on to tell the victory that Christians have because of that.  There is victory for the individual and victory for the Church.  The beginning embarks with the simple request, “Let no one caught in sin remain / inside the lie of inward shame / But fix our eyes upon the cross / And run to Him who showed great love / and bled for us…”  Lyrically, it is well polished in almost every aspect.  The song is not real heavy on creative visual imagery, but I don’t think that is its intent.  It is written with very accessible word choices and sentence structure.  I think that is one of the many things that make it so successful as a corporate song.  It tells the truth in a way people can understand.  But the climax, both musically and lyrically, is the bridge.  Here is the powerful truth of the gospel communicated with a resounding crescendo, “Our God is not dead, He’s alive, He’s alive!” Amen and amen.

Area of Excellence:

I think the thing that sets this song apart from others is the way it communicates a core doctrine of Christianity.  Songs about God’s love are easy to sing.  Songs that talk about how we lay our lives down are easy to sing (when here in America we simply don’t have to).  But a song that stands upon the fact that Jesus of Nazareth really lived, really did die, really was God, really did rise from the dead…now that’s something to sink your teeth into.  The truth of the gospel is that our hope hinges on the resurrection of the dead.  Read Romans 8:34 until the end of the chapter, “…Christ Jesus who died, more than that, was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No in all these things we are more than conquers through him who loved us.”

And I’m about to get all preachy.  You are forewarned.

Without Christ standing as intercessor between God and man, we are hopelessly separated from God.  Through his perfect life, adequate death and victorious resurrection, he paid the penalty we owed for our mess-ups.  All of them.  Now, to those who fulfill the necessary condition, belief in Jesus, God makes his way to us and we are saved.  Now that we are saved…we can live in victory.  Christ is still interceding for us!  He knows our struggles, he knows how easily the enemy and ourselves dupe us and Jesus is making perfect requests (exactly what we need when we need it) in perfect love to our perfect and all-powerful Father, God.   That is real victory and real power.  We are powerless in the face of death on our own.  It is great to have a song remind us to live in victory.  Because Christ conquered death, we can face life.  Reminds me of that great hymn, Because He Lives. If you haven’t sung it in a while, do so now.  “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow / Because He lives, all fear is gone / And I know, He holds the future / And life is worth the living, just because He lives” The truth tastes good doesn’t it?

I suppose that not everyone reading this is necessarily a Christian.  I guess this song might not mean much to you at first read/listen.  So read this next sentence carefully, and then reread it.  The story of Christ as recorded in the Bible is true.  Did you reread it?  If there is a longing in your life, if you realize that the world doesn’t make much sense, please realize that Christianity is true.  Not half true.  Not true along with other religions (if one is true, the others cannot be because they make contradictory claims about the nature of reality).  Not some made up story to make people feel good about them.  True, capital “T”.  And if you are skeptical, I ask you to honestly weigh the evidence against other religious claims out there.  I believe that Christianity has the most satisfying answers, by a long shot.

See!  A great song that gets to the meat of what we believe.  One that challenges and empowers Christians to go out there and live like Christians.  So, quit reading this blog, go read the Bible then buy the song on iTunes.  Tell Matt we appreciate this and we want more of this level of doctrine in Christian music!

http://www.mattmahermusic.com/