Published June 1, 2010

Paul's Epistle...
"Message Music"

Gospel music is "Gospel music" because, in its lyrics, it bears the Gospel message. That's pretty basic. So, not wanting to take things for granted, I'll occasionally "audit" at the songs that have made it to the Singing News Top 20 for the month to see just how "Gospel-worthy" the songs are. As I look at the songs on the June chart (which you heard on the countdown edition last weekend) I'm encouraged because all of these songs are solid message songs!

For the single most common theme, I found that at least a third of the songs could be characterized as celebrating the faithfulness of God, especially in difficult times.

Greater Vision's "You Were Faithful Yesterday" is a primary example of how any Christian can look back on the ways the Lord has brought him through the most difficult of times – which gives hope and assurance that the Lord will continue to bless him tomorrow.

"As I survey the joy and sorrow
I find Your love remains the same
So I will trust You for tomorrow
‘Cause You were faithful yesterday"

Likewise, the very first lines in the chorus of Tribute Quartet's "That's Why I Love Him So" form another celebration of God's faithfulness:

"He's been faithful through every trial
He's my shelter when storm winds blow
He's the Rock that I can stand on
He's my Savior and that's why I love Him so."

And again, in the Perrys' "Did I Mention," they say,

"When I can see no way, He makes a way
And did I mention He's been faithful
To every promise He ever made me
I love Him, that's all I want to say."

God's faithfulness strengthens our own faith, as in "Trust His Heart" by Eighth Day, and also the Crist Family's "My Heart Knows:"

"My heart knows Jesus loves me and washed my sins away
I know He will keep me forever
No matter where my head is at I will not be moved
‘Cause my heart knows the truth."

Christ provides a refuge from every storm that comes into our life, which is the theme of the Booth Brothers' very popular song, "Peace In The Shelter:"

"There is peace in the shelter of His arms
A refuge from the storm where I am safe from harm
Through the strongest winds and pouring rain
There's peace in the shelter of His arms."

The Collingsworth Family's "Bottom of the Barrel" continues the theme that when it seems that your "barrel" – your own resources – are at an end, God will still provide, even miraculously. That's why the McKameys, in their song, "I Keep Praying," can say,

"I'm trusting in God's promise, my heart is steadfast, Lord.
You said You'd never leave me, and I know You keep Your Word.
Strengthen me with power, according to Your might,
for endurance and patience, as I travel through this night."

We don't always understand what God is up to – or certainly how He'll help us through – but we can trust Him anyway and, remembering Romans 8:28, we know that everything works together for good to those who love the Lord. As the Greenes sing in their song, "When God Has Another Plan,"

"Be assured that He knows best.
When all your dreams are shattered,
Rest in His sufficient grace.
We don't have to understand
When God has another plan."

And that "sufficient grace" can be found in other songs, such as (quite obviously) "Grace Will Always Be Greater" by the Hoppers:

"Whatever you've done, wherever you've been,
God's grace will always be greater than sin."

That's why those who are lost in sin can come to Christ who, as Ivan Parker reminds us, is the "Keeper of the Lost and Found:"

"He's the keeper of the lost and found
Where wandering hearts can find a place to settle down
And trade their tattered garments for a crown.
He's the keeper of the lost and found."

The fundamentals of the faith — especially Christ's redemptive work on the cross — are clear in the Kingsmen's song, "God Saw A Cross:"

"God saw a cross being raised on the horizon
God saw His Son being slain for one and all
God saw His blood being shed for my redemption
For every fall God saw a cross."

And that song's bridge is especially powerful:

"And when I finally gave my heart to Jesus
From that moment of time until forever
When God sees me He only sees the cross."

Praise God! And then two songs on the June top 20 were explicitly about the Lord's resurrection – the Talleys' version of the Don Francisco classic, "He's Alive," and the Kingdom Heirs' song with the very self-evident title, "The Empty Tomb Says It All."

I'm out of space, but there are more songs – and they, too, have strong messages. And that's what I love about Southern Gospel music. The Gospel message is there! It's right out front! You can't miss it!  These are messages of hope, messages of encouragement for the Christian, reminders to rely on God's grace and faithfulness.

I would encourage you to go beyond just enjoying the music — listen to the words!  If you really paid attention during the two hours of last weekend's broadcast, you had church!  (In fact, a lot of people tell me that's exactly how they feel.)

As the Isaacs say in their current chart song (quite literally), "There's a little bit of heaven in every Gospel song."

- Paul

Comments on this? paulheil@thegospelgreats.com

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