Just finished a new song called “Now Is the Time.” This is meant to be a fast praise song/opener for a contemporary worship service. I wanted to write something that captured the essence of making a quality decision to follow Jesus. I wanted a no-turning-back-once-and-for-all-I’ve-made-my-decision song where we could declare together “God, I’m done with doing things my way – it’s all about you from here on out.”

The bridge to this song was written by my good friend Jim Courtney. He got the lines “I lift my hands with purpose…” one Sunday morning when the praise team was in prayer before the service. He just handed me the scribbled lyrics and I immediately knew they’d make a great summarizing bridge to this song which, at that time, was about half-written.

Hope you enjoy. Its just a demo, but I think you can get the idea of the song. VFC’ers, you might wanna go ahead and learn this one. 🙂

Now is the Time

I’m ready to answer the call

I’m ready to give my all

I lay aside the weight of sin

I’m pushing on and pressing in

//

Now is the time, today is the day

I’m getting tired of being in the way

Oh Jesus, It’s all about You now

Now is the time for stepping aside

I’m leaving my independence and pride

Oh Jesus, It’s all about You now.

//

I’m ready to run the race

I’m ready to take my place

I lay aside the weight of sin

I’m pushing on and pressing in

//

I lift my hands with purpose

I raise my voice to sing

The life that I’ve been given

Becomes my offering

© Jamie Nunnally 2011

I just finished a new song called Hope Remains and I wanted to share it with everyone. Still trying to decide if its congregational and appropriate for Sunday morning worship or not. Feel free to weigh in. Our praise team at VFC was supposed to do it for special music last weekend but it just didn’t work out.

Lyrically, I wanted to focus on hope – that eternal, remaining gift from Heaven that seems to always take a backseat to faith and love (1 Cor. 13:13). I wanted to write an anthem that showed what it looked like when we emptied ourselves – our fears, questions and insecurities and just held on to the hope of our salvation through Jesus. The song ends with what is hopefully a very rousing and effective declaration that no matter what life hands us, we will cling to hope and let it be the anchor of our souls (Hebrews 6:19).

Musically, I tried to keep it simple enough to sing but interesting enough that it didn’t sound like everything else. The turnaround and bridge chords/melody are extremely pop-typical so I tried to make the verse and chorus chords/melody a little more unique. And I love the guitar part on top of the chorus (“All that I am…”) – it just sounds so pretty to me.

Ok, so here are the excuses: I recorded all the instruments in 2 hours and all vocals in 30 minutes so its not like this is gonna be high quality, people! But hey, it didn’t cost anything! 🙂 I hope you enjoy the song and pray that you’re encouraged to hold fast hope!

Hope Remains

Hope is rising up and strengthening my faith

The fear that held me back has now begun to fade

 //

All that I am I give away, ‘til nothing is left, just hope remains

//

Hope is sinking in and keeping me secure

And as I trust and wait, I patiently endure

//

All that I am I give away ‘til nothing is left, just hope remains

I’m confident that God will save and as I believe, my hope remains

//

So when the pressure’s building and I can feel the weight

I know my God still loves me I won’t hold back my praise

When disappointment finds me and things don’t go my way

My joy will not be stolen, no one can take my faith

And I won’t stop pursuing,  no I won’t be afraid

Though I’m not sure what’s coming I know that hope remains

//

Whoa, hope remains

It only took 12 years but I finally did it!

I’ve been wanting to do a full-instrument recording of the song I wrote and sang to Tiffany at our wedding for a while now. After I finished recording my worship CD, I set out to record our wedding song, Summer Snow. I had to resist the urge to rewrite it – some things about it absolutely drive me crazy. Although imperfect, it does capture the mindset of my 21-year-old newbie head over heels and crazy in love self. (For record I’m still head over heels and crazy in love, but hopefully a little better songwriter!)

After the recording was finished, I created the CD art, had a few CDs manufactured and gave it to Tiff this past Valentine’s Day. Both the packaging art (with lyrics) and recording is below. I hope you enjoy it!

CD Cover

Insert w/lyrics

CD Image

Back of case

On March 11, 2011 Japan was hit by a 9.0 earthquake which triggered a massive tsunami that left the east coast of the country decimated. At the time of this post (almost 3 weeks later), the death toll has passed 18,000 and the Japanese government has estimated the cost could reach beyond $300 billion. Whenever something so amazingly catastrophic like this happens, it is normal to ask questions: Where was God during the Japanese earthquake? Did He cause it? If He did, was it to judge Japan?

The way I see it, within the Christian paradigm (excluding aliens and such) there are only three main logical possibilities as to the causation of the Japanese earthquake:

1) God purposely caused the earthquake as a means of communicating with, either teaching or punishing humanity.

2) Satan caused it, in keeping with his general desire of destruction, death and mayhem.

3) It was a natural occurrence due to fault lines in the earth with no spiritual message intended by any supernatural beings.

The Christian must take each of these options and weigh them against what the Bible teaches. I personally think option three is the best choice. In addition to it being the simplest answer, it also seems to be the most biblical. I realize that’s not the most popular interpretation in the Christian evangelical community right now, so let’s go through each option and compare it to what the Bible actually teaches.

OPTION ONE: God has possibly caused this tragedy to punish or communicate with the Japanese. There are two New Testament biblical texts I would reference to build my case that this is not an accurate interpretation of why the earthquake happened. First is Luke 13:1-5 where Jesus brings up two tragedies: one is the murder of people while worshiping and the other is the collapse of a building where 18 people died. Jesus volunteers the question: did these things happen because the people who died were worse sinners than others and were being punished? His answer is no. And in typical Jesus fashion, he doesn’t even answer the “why” question but instead uses the catastrophes to warn them that bad stuff happens in this life and we had better be right with God since we don’t know when we’ll die. Secondly, I’d point to the passage of Jesus calming the storm in Matthew 8:23-26. The Bible doesn’t speak to why the storm existed. It does, though, show Jesus rebuking the storm and causing it to stop. If God was the author of the storm why would Jesus stop it? As Jesus said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” If God had sent the storm as a message or punishment to the disciples, then Jesus should have allowed it to continue and not interfered, ensuring they got the message in its entirety. In both of these New Testament examples, the scripture shows God as the solution to, not the author of life’s problems (Acts 10:38).

Bottom line: there isn’t a single New Testament verse that would support God actively judging people for their sin by using a natural disaster. So what do most Christians who support this idea do? They hop on over to the Old Testament to justify this thinking. The problem with that is twofold: first, the Old Testament is an incomplete, point-in-time revelation of who God is. Hebrews 1:1-3 says “Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God” (NLT). Jesus is the best, most recent and fullest description of what God is like. Period. All other illustrations of what God is like are secondary to God as expressed through Jesus. God revealed through Jesus trumps God revealed though the OT. The second problem with using Old Testament text to justify God punishing with natural disasters is all such OT punishments were always accompanied by an explicit nationwide warning by one of God’s prophets. These warnings always contained an opportunity to avoid the ensuing wrath of God. Remember why Jonah got swallowed by the fish? God had sent him to warn Nineveh about their coming destruction and he chickened out. There was no prophetic warning given to Japan by God. The lovers’ quarrel between God and Israel that is recorded in the OT just doesn’t apply to this situation.

Refuting OPTION TWO is rather simple. The Bible does, in fact, teach that Satan is the author of all evil and the whole world is “under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). However, we have to be careful that we not make him more powerful than he is. Satan is just a fallen angel. I don’t see any evidence in scripture where an angel can move tectonic plates at will. I’m sure he enjoyed the earthquake, tsunami and ensuing destruction but I don’t see where he has the power to cause it.

OPTION THREE is the one I choose because it makes the most sense. Look, Japan is an island that was created by tectonic activity to begin with. This may sound cold but its only logical that this type of occurrence would continue throughout the country’s history. Fault lines cause earthquakes. Oceanic earthquakes cause tsunamis. Both cause death. However, even beyond the logical nature of this answer there is biblical evidence as well. Romans 8:20-22 says “Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (NLT). So the Bible teaches that just as humans were made sick with sin during the fall of man in the garden, so was creation. These natural disasters we see – hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. are creation’s “groaning” and the natural result of a broken world spinning towards atrophy. They aren’t “acts of God,” they are the symptoms of the sin disease our creation has contracted from fallen humanity.

Now let me say, although I don’t believe God caused the earthquake, that doesn’t mean I believe He is uninvolved. I believe He is working to redeem the situation and His heart breaks for those who have died and are in turmoil because of the disaster. He is leading His worldwide followers to be his hands and feet, to help with the recovery and demonstrate His love to those who were harmed. Also, I’d like to say that on this side of omniscience, for all we know God did intervene significantly. Perhaps the quake/tsunami would have been worse and all of Japan would have been destroyed. Maybe God prevented millions of lives being lost instead of thousands. We just don’t know.

So where was God during the Japanese earthquake? He was there. Grieving for those who died without faith, welcoming those who died that believed and mourning over the destruction. And now He is asking you: if life as you know it was suddenly snatched from you like it was from those in Japan, would you be ready?

So in part one of this series, we discovered that Romans 12:1 is essentially triple dog dare by the Apostle Paul. He was issuing a strong challenge to Christians that he didn’t want them to ignore. So what was he daring them to do? Let’s look at the rest of the verse after the dare (I’m using the Amplified version):

“…and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God…”

Do you keep the mercy of God in view as you move forward? Or do you only use it for your rear view mirror? So many Christians seem to relegate God’s mercy only to their past. Sure, they believe He’s forgiven them for what’s already occurred but while that’s certainly good, its incomplete. Recognizing mercy for your past brings freedom to your personal history but without mercy fueling your hope for the future, you won’t have the confidence to move forward in Him. His mercy is new every morning – not just for yesterday’s sake but for the sake of today! You don’t have to be afraid of mistakes you’ll make today or tomorrow – keep His mercy in view.

“….make a decisive dedication of your bodies….”

Look, you’re not just going to wake up one morning and magically act like Jesus. While you’re here on earth, you have a flesh and your flesh is never going to want to do what’s right.  We say the wrong things, we serve ourselves, we forget our purpose. We Christians have to make the choice everyday – a decisive dedication of our bodies – to walk in the Spirit and not follow the dictates of our flesh. Not saying its easy, but its necessary!

“…a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated)…”

I’ve always heard the word “holy” defined as “set apart.” Thats a good definition. Even better though are the phrases “other than” and “something else.” Holy is the word you use to describe something when all analogies fail. It’s untouched by everything you might compare it to. It stands alone. This is why we tell God He’s holy during worship. He is “other than” anything else. He is “something else.” We are called to be “other than” too: separate from the world and given completely to Him. Have you ever seen on-fire Christians loving others unconditionally, full of faith and changing the environment around them for the better? Now that’s something else!

“…well pleasing to God…”

Wanna make God happy? Impress Him by giving Him all of you. Imagine that you finally saved up enough money to order that brand new car you’ve been dreaming of. You visit the dealership, choose all of your options and make the down payment but weeks later when the car arrives, its missing the steering wheel, the rear bumper and the front right tire. You’d be upset wouldn’t you! Well, God purchased you with the blood of His Son. Imagine how frustrating it is when you hold back and deny access to those parts of you that provide Him with a complete ministry vehicle that He can use. God is not impressed with how loud you sing during worship or how many verses are underlined in your Bible. He is impressed when He gets all that He paid for!

“…which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent)  service/worship”

The Greek word translated here as “reasonable, rational, and intelligent” is logikos where we get the English word “logical.” Not allowing the Amazingly All-Powerful, Incredibly Intelligent King of the Universe full access to your life is just plain illogical. Really, it just makes no sense. What are you afraid of? Be smart – go ahead and go all in!

I encourage you to be 100% totally sold out to Him. Go ahead, try it. What are you waiting for? You’re not gonna get a better deal! He loves you. He wants you. He’s calling you. Answer Him.

I triple dog dare you!

I was warped at an early age.

But it was the good kind of warping. My parents made my brother and I memorize scripture as young children. There’s a story that has reached legendary status in the Nunnally family that tells of my then four-year-old older brother being asked what his name was by a stranger at the beach. He replied, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Classic.

One of the verses I memorized as a kid was Romans 12:1. Unfortunately, there weren’t nearly as many Bible translations back then so the New King James was the most modern version around. It started “I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God…” Not exactly kid-friendly vocab, huh? Who the heck says “beseech” anymore?

I was recently reading this verse again and decided to look up all of the different translations for what was originally translated “beseech.” I found that it had been replaced with urge, appeal, beg, and plead in most newer versions. The English definition for the Greek is to “summon, admonish” or “exhort.” Its almost like the translators didn’t quite know how to capture the full depth of what the writer, Paul, was trying to get at. I began thinking about this and was reminded of the “dare scale” used by children on playgrounds and adults who never grow up. As a reminder, if one of your friends wants to dare you to do something, they can employ any of the following dare options:

1. The basic dare. Ex: Dude, there’s that girl you like. I dare you to go talk to her. This is used when the dare-ee would probably do the dare without being dared to begin with. The problem with the basic dare is that it can easily be ignored.

2. The double dare. Ex: You don’t wanna talk to her? Come on, I double dare you, bro. Now we’ve taken this thing up a step. You can’t just ignore a double dare. The dare-er has just given the dare-ee something to think about.

3. The double dog dare. Ex:  You’re such a chicken. Just do it man. I double dog dare you! Ok, this has all of the sudden gotten serious. Not taking a double dog dare will subject you to ridicule for days, even weeks and is fair game for all future proof of wussiness. Game on, baby. Game on. (Note: some less civilized areas of the country use the “double dirty dog” or “double dirty dead dog” dare, but this is not recommended as I think we can all agree its beneath us.)

4. The triple dog dare. Ex: This is so ridiculous! I can’t believe you! You’re such a pansy! Go talk to her! I triple dog dare you! Ok, now we’ve reached critical mass and the triple dog dare has been used. This is essentially a kill-shot by the dare-er where they are pulling rank and demanding the dare be done.  No person in their right mind would ignore a triple dog dare. You just don’t do that. It doesn’t matter how awful the dare is, not performing a triple-dog dare is much worse.

I think the Apostle Paul is handing the Romans a triple dog dare here. He’s essentially saying Look, there’s really no other option here. Quit dragging your feet, just bite the bullet and do it already.

So now that we’ve established the importance of Paul’s triple dog dare, what is he daring us to do? Whats so important that he uses the trump card of all dares? We’ll look at that in the next post…

I recently found this hilarious tongue-in-cheek video on how to worship in a contemporary/charismatic/pentecostal music service. Quite funny…