God Speaking (Mandisa)

Hey Ya’ll,

So … I just heard a gorgeous song by Mandisa called “God Speaking“. It was referred to me by someone on staff as a potential “special music” song during our upcoming “Be Still” series for Christmas.

First of all, although it does have a single lyric about “what could be stranger than God in a manger”, I wouldn’t qualify this as a Christmas song at all. It’s more about how God can use various things to “speak to us”. Because “Be Still” involves us being still and listening, it would certainly qualify for the “Be Still” theme.

But …

The second verse just ruined it for me. I realize there can (and will) be a ton of debate on this, which is why I’m posting it.

Verse 2:
Have you ever lost a loved one who you thought should still be there?
Do you know what it feels like to be tangled up in fear?
What if He’s somehow involved?
What if He’s speaking through it all?

OK, here are my issues:

#1. I fully comply that God is Sovereign. I believe that He has given us free will. So, many of the bad things that happen can sometimes be a result of our own choices, or someone else’s choices. True, if God is Sovereign, everything ultimately filters through Him. (this is how I reconcile the “could God have prevented this” question). However, I just get upset when we try to factor “God” into bad things, such as losing a loved one, and even more when we try to suggest that God took this “loved one” from us so that he could “teach us something” or “speak to us”. Sure, God can take a tragedy – the death of a loved one, and speak to us through that. He causes all things to “work together for good” … that doesn’t mean it was His plan for “all things” to happen, though. (oh, I can feel this one coming).

#2. tangled up in fear? Yep – I’ve been there. Fear is real. We all struggle with it. However, don’t try to put God and fear together. Not in the type of “fear” the author is referencing here. God is so far away from fear – he commands us throughout the Word to “fear not”. He is NOT the author of fear. Fear is the opposite of faith. Fear and God do NOT get along. The fear OF GOD is one thing … but to suggest that somehow God is allowing us to be “tangled up in fear” or even “causing us to experience the fear” so that He can “somehow be involved” and “speaking through it” … I draw the line there.

It’s a shame – such a gorgeous song. But there are tons of songs out there that I don’t have to struggle over the lyrics with. I was excited when I heard how beautiful it was. But I can’t in good conscience bring this song into our worship services. As the Worship Director, I feel an obligation to challenge the Scriptural accuracy of the songs we sing. I realize that my interpretation of Scripture and my own, skewed doctrines will possibly cloud my judgment. I’m open to that.

I’m using the embed code from LyricsMode.Com to embed the full lyrics below … but honestly, what’s your take on this?

For the Kingdom,
Fred

Mandisa - God Speaking lyricsHave you ever heard a love song

That set your spirit free

Have you ever watched a sunrise

And felt you could not breathe

What if it's Him

What if it's God speaking

Have you ever cried a tear that

You could not explain

Have you ever met a stranger

That already knew your name

What if it's Him

What if it's God speaking

Who knows how He'll get a hold of us

Get our attention to prove He is enough

He'll do and He'll use

Whatever He wants to

To tell us I love you

Have you ever lost a loved one

Who you thought should still be here

Do you know what it feels like

To be tangled up in fear

What if He's somehow involved

What if He's speaking through it all

His ways are higher

His ways are better

Though sometimes strange

What could be stranger

Than God in a manger

God is speaking

I love you

Song lyrics | God Speaking lyrics

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Fred McKinnon is a Pianist/Composer from St. Simons Island, GA. Checkout the full BIO for more information and a complete bio. Worship Interludes Podcast - This podcast features instrumentals for prayer, meditation, soaking worship, relaxation, study music, and rest. Visit the Podcast page to listen or subscribe. Follow on Social MediaFacebookYouTubeInstagramTwitter

68 comments on God Speaking (Mandisa)

  1. Chris Moncus says:

    I know when I’m in fear who I should run to. The God who comforts me and tells me to “fear not” can’t be the same God causing that fear.

    Too bad such a great song is ruined by a couple words of bad doctrine.

  2. Robert McKinnon says:

    All I can say, Fred, is “KUDOS!” I have to agree with every single thing you’ve said. This is just one of those things that CANNOT

  3. Robert McKinnon says:

    OOPS! Sent it before I was through!
    This is just one of those things that CANNOT be justified in the scripture in any way I’ve ever been able to find! I think it’s just too easy to attribute things we don’t understand to God – whether He was involved or not.
    Too many times God has to get involved “after the fact”, and we give Him the credit for the root cause. Just isn’t always true. Just a shame.

  4. inWorship says:

    Hey Fred, I agree with everything you have written here. God is not nor ever will be our source of fear.

    Here’s a different take though. I didn’t read her lyrics as God is causing the fear. I read them as god is in the midst of them. That is a very hopeful thing. It is very Psalm 23 to me.

    If she is saying that God is causing it…I flat out disagree and you have pointed that out. If she is saying that God is there in the midst of it or allows us to walk through it to become the people He needs us to be, then I agree.

  5. Fred says:

    Brent,

    Good stuff … I would agree as well, but with the lyrics as a whole, I can’t believe that’s what the lyricist is trying to say. There is all this “suggestion” in there .. you know, “who knows what God would do” … “his ways are higher” … a lot of the junk (well, let me say .. what *I* feel is junk) that I hear when people don’t understand something, so they cop out by attributing it God’s Hand …

    That line “who knows how God will get ahold of us …” combined with the rest of the examples … I can’t help but think that the author is suggesting that God is “involved” in making the stuff happen.

    I guess my main point is this … if the lyrics are that wishy-washy … if they are that open to interpretation, and if one of those interpretations is just not Scriptural, I think there are plenty of “solid” songs out there to choose from instead of risking one that doesn’t have a stable interpretation.

  6. inWorship says:

    I am with you here. As you read through, it seems logical that what you’ve pointed out is what she means.

    There is a ton of this right now in the church. A complete lack of who God is and is not. I am all for these great discussion about not “boxing” God in, but there are things that pure and simple God is and is not. that’s not a box, that is Biblical fact.

    Thanks for the challenge to not allow the softening of scripture for the sake of musical emotion.

  7. Robert McKinnon says:

    Yeah, we put God in a box so often. I can’t remember the author or the song, but there’s a quote that says that “We’ve made God in our own image”.

    Sad for sure. We need a new revelation – or at least a revisitation of the old one!

  8. russ says:

    Agree, Fred.

    Such a waste, when a song is such a potential goodie, then you actually read the lyrics to find it’s not usable.

  9. inWorship says:

    What’s wrong with Metallica?

    🙂

  10. OK, Fred…since you IM’d me…here is a thought or two…

    It either is just a bad song, or not theology or not intended to be theology. David says “where are you God” and many things that are human. Solomon says many things that are not quite theological in his cynical Ecclesiastes. So, what I see here is art–or an attempt at art. This song is and expression of the idea that God is revealed in things that move us–nature, circumstance and life. That is very scriptural. If I had a theme on that idea, it could work.

    What I think is that we as Christian’s have created our own subculture and lingo so much so that we cannot allow human experience to be expressed or allow artists to ask questions. This is all this little song does, not that I think it is great. Could just be a weak song artistically? Could be that our church structures put wet blankets on art? Has anyone thought of that?

  11. Fred says:

    Bernard –
    Now that brings the biggest smile to my face I’ve had all day! Thanks!

  12. Travis says:

    I agree with your fear issues in the lyrics, I am not sure about the sovereignty position though. Either way, I am not worried about the song getting played, haha.

    God clearly gives us will, He couldn’t justly hold us accountable for our decisions if He did not. But don’t you think He is still in control of everything that happens? Tommy Nelson brought this up at a seminar I was at one time. He said, if a drunk driver crosses the median and kills a family of 4, would you rather know that God is in control of that situation and you don’t understand? Or would you rather have to deal with Miller Light ruling that situation? Just something to think about. I think that saying ‘everything ultimately filters through Him’ is kind of acknowledging that same thing, but just packaging it differently. If God is sovereign, well, then He is sovereign. He can choose to intervene or not. I think our problem is that we put way to much weight on what happens in this blip of a life instead of acknowledging that it is a small portion of our eternal existence, be it ultimately in heaven or in eternal separation from the Glory of God.

    Maybe this could be an interesting discussion.
    -Travis

  13. Robert McKinnon says:

    What I think is that we as Christian’s have created our own subculture and lingo so much so that we cannot allow human experience to be expressed or allow artists to ask questions. This is all this little song does:

    I don’t know. This is a very interesting comment. I still have to ask this: If it’s a question, then the answer is clear – I’ve thought about if God is in it or not and the answer is “no” – unless it meets the parameters Fred first posted. If it’s not, then we (as leaders) need to be very careful to understand that we should be able to say “I endorse the lyrics of this song” to the people God has called us to lead. That’s a very holy place to be and we must be careful. Art or not.

    As said earlier, there are just too many solid songs out there.

  14. Ben Harrell says:

    Interesting concept we’ve got going here. Just for clarification’s sake, I’m going to state what I assume that the general consensus is:

    1.) That God does not cause “bad things” to happen to teach us lessons.

    2.) God is not involved in the generation of fear.

    Well, I’ll sort of agree with those two statements and I say “sort of” because they’re just so darn subjective. Here’s my issue with the first one:

    1.) God is good. Period. I’m not saying that he does, but EVEN IF he had a hand in orchestrating events that we would view as “bad” such as someone dying, that doesn’t detract one iota from his goodness. God is good on an astronomical level that we can’t even begin to understand. What is “good” for us now might not be good at all. Who’s to know what good is except to know that God is the fullness of goodness?

    Here’s the reality: God did a lot of things (Old Testament and New) that we wouldn’t consider “good.” Prime examples: God authorized the slaughter of entire people groups when bringing the children of Israel into the promised land, God sent (or allowed) evil spirits to torment Saul while he was king, God struck down Ananias and his wife Saphira for lying, and he refused to heal Paul of the “thorn in his flesh.”

    If those were the only things I knew about God, I wouldn’t think he was very good, now would I?

    2.) Now, as for God “being involved” and “speaking through” our fear, I don’t necessarilly see the big deal here. Of course God can be involved in our fear and speak through it.

    Being involved doesn’t mean that he gave it to us. We’re quite capable of fearing all by our lonesome.

    As for speaking through it, just because God speaks through fear doesn’t mean that he caused the fear to make a point. I don’t think that was the intent of the author.

    I’m just going for clarification on that one.

    Anywho, them’s my two cents.

  15. Robert McKinnon says:

    Bet you never this much would happen, huh?

    Good stuff Ben. I think much of it has to do with who’s perspective you’re looking through. I guess we have to take all the perspectives and put them together to get a true picture of what God looks like.

  16. inWorship says:

    Hey Fred, your good at tracking down artists 🙂

    Why don’t we see if we can get the writer involved in the discussion. That would be cool…

  17. Wow. The very verse that “ruined it” for you is my favorite verse! Were you simply TRYING to get me to comment on this, Fred?! 😉

    Personally, I think the Bible pushes the issue of God’s sovereignty much further than most of us are comfortable with. Verses like “I form light and create darkness, I make comfort and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7, from the ESV – by far the most accurate translation available), “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and evil come?” (Lamentations 3:38), or even Job’s recognition that “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away” , where-in Job recognizes that – even though enacted by the Devil – the trouble afflicting him were ultimately very sovereignly allowed by God for a reason, and the book’s author adds “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” Those are merely a tiny fraction of the verses I could sample, but the mystery here is clearly great, to the point of making the brightest theologians feel like idiots when trying to sort these issue out. It seems clear to me, however, that if the Bible is willing to go that far in it’s statements on God’s sovereignty over evil that her lyrics are probably well within what I would call ‘safe territory’.

    Ask yourself: is murder the will of God? Jesus was murdered, and the Bible says it was God’s plan from the beginning: “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” (Acts 4:27-28) Murder is a sin, but God clearly pre-ordained the death of Jesus. If God can do this, and remain without sin, can’t he also use someone’s fear to speak?

    You know me: I’m a ‘bad’ Calvinist (meaning that many Calvinists wouldn’t claim me, but most anyone who’s NOT a Calvinists would almost immediately identify me as one, which they – too – would think is ‘bad’ ;-)) , so these sorts of lyrics actually encourage me. I appreciate the raw honesty there, and think it would make a GREAT special.

    Not long ago I read a powerful (all but one chapter, at least) book edited by John Piper & Justin Taylor called Suffering and the Sovereignty of God . It’s dense in places, but I’d be happy to let you borrow it some day if you like.

    I admit these are complex (and also peripheral) issues, so I appreciate your cautiousness about this song.

    Looking forward to seeing you tonight! blessings!

  18. p.s. – from the song’s lyrics I don’t sense whatsoever that she’s trying to communicate that the ‘fear’ is directly from God, only that He’s choosing to speak through it – in the midst of it.

  19. Mark Sooy says:

    Fred,

    My take on this is that your most important point is that YOU are responsible for the spiritual care of your congregation as Worship Leader/Director/Pastor.

    This blog entry and your thoughts are why I believe that churches must re-think their conception of the Worship Leader / Director / Song Leader. You are dealing with theological and biblical issues, and those in these staff positions confront this every day — but are often under-equipped to process the issues appropriately.

    What you bring up are Pastoral issues, and as such it would benefit the church at large to begin thinking much more holistically about the role of Worship Leader / Pastor. We know from Colossians 3 that corporate worship is by nature a teaching and admonishing ministry, as well as an opportunity to respond directly to God’s grace toward us. It is therefore important to equip the individuals holding these roles with the pastoral / theological background necessary for the task. I’ve watched all too often gifted musicians get burned out, or chewed up, because they had never been trained to handle the pastoral and theological roles they were trying to fulfill. Things start out great, then the weight of the pastoral responsibilities gets overwhelming (and is usually unexpected). It often ends in discouragement for the musicians and the church.

    Please understand that I’m not suggesting that everyone leading worship get a Ph.D. in Bible or Theology. What I’m suggesting is a better balance between music and service preparation & a solid grasp of basic, orthodox Christian doctrine and teaching. This training can come in many ways, but must be constantly pursued at levels deeper than common devotional practice.

    Unfortunately, many American Evangelical Christians in the pews get their theology from popular Christian music (or movies, or radio, or magazines) — rather than directly from the Bible. This makes the weight of our responsibility greater as we plan and prepare worship that will be engaging AND represent God properly in all that He is as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    So, finally, be diligent in weeding out this kind of stuff. It takes work, we have to pay attention, sometimes we get grief — but at the end of the day we must be able to say before God and man that we did our best to uphold our Pastoral/Leadership responsibilities to the best of our ability.

  20. That’s a good question. Given that the leadership of our church is pretty much a hybrid of former Presbyterians, Southern Baptists, Charismatics, and even (I think) a Methodist or two, we – as a church – are pretty ‘broad’ in what we believe, and I would say we lean towards the “In Essentials, Unity; in Non-essentials, Liberty; in All Things, Charity” view. That means that Fred may disagree with the lyrics, but the pastor (or in my case, Assoc. Music guy) may very well agree with them. So, in the case where a church holds to a variety of views on such things, THEN what should be done?

  21. inWorship says:

    Great stuff here. Shannon, I can’t speak for your situation, but mine is very similar.

    For me the phrase “in everything charity” is the most important here. this song is one that has divided ideas. This song itself is not one that is necessary to accomplish what you are trying to do. “In charity” would mean that Fred is willing to use it and you are willing to let it go. I don’t believe that this song needs to be fought over. In my situation, I would let it go…even though I would like to use it (Which I would).

  22. inWorship says:

    I’m sorry if that’s confusing.

    In my situation if one Pastor said don’t use it and I said do, it is more appropriate for me to let it go to not be divisive than it is for him to say do it when this song itself is not that important.

  23. Good point. Honestly, I wouldn’t bother fighting over the song – I’ve never actually heard it. Just a minute ago I was trying to reference our church’s doctrinal statement to see if there was anything in the song that may actually be a conflict, but our “statement of faith” has disappeared from our website since I last checked it! Tell me it isn’t so Fred – did we lose our ‘faith’? 😉
    gnuk gnuk gnuk gnuk!

    I gotta be careful picking on Fred today though – he’s running sound for us this Sunday A.M.!

    have mercy, Fred! 😉

  24. Robert McKinnon says:

    From looking at the new testament church, I would say it’s not the pastor’s “job” to do this. The apostles laid it all out clearly in acts:

    Act 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples [unto them], and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

    Act 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

    Act 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

    The pastor is supposed to have people overseeing certain areas of ministry so that it frees him from having to do these things. Yes, there are many as “leaders” who have no more spiritual training, understanding or biblical savvy than many new-born babes in Christ. They have a new convert who can sing and play an instrument and just stick them up front to lead because of their natural talents.

    However, this is not the more excellent way. Worship leaders are supposed to be accoutable in just the way that Mark said. It IS pastoral in the sense of caring for the flock. The Lord said that He would give his people “Shepherds” after His own heart. A worship leader must always have this concept in his heart.

    Bottom line? I feel that if the pastor and leadership of the church has dilligently chosen a worship leader, then the act of leading in this area should be left in the hands of the one chosen for the task – until he does something that warrants a change.

    Whether the leader is right or wrong in deciding whether or not to sing a particular song, it’s his decision. Every leader in the body of Christ misses it. But authority was given by God, not man. And as long as the leader’s heart is in the right place, the misses will be alot fewer than the hits.

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but this is really eye-opening to me. I want to thank all who are contributing. I am getting much out of this.

  25. Robert McKinnon says:

    if one Pastor said don’t use it and I said do, it is more appropriate for me to let it go to not be divisive than it is for him to say do it when this song itself is not that important.

    Amen

  26. Travis says:

    Shannon I think the two of us were trying to talk about the Sovereignty of God and the rest are just worried about the politics of song selection.

    Kidding.

    -Travis

  27. Justin Davidson says:

    WOW, I love this!!! I get so excited about conversations like this. I love seeing the different perspectives and the thought processes I actually had a great conversation with my wife about this before I read all the comments.

    To keep from repeating what some have said, I have to say I am right there along with Ben, Travis, and Shannon. I love seeing the body work together.

    Great blog Fred!!!

  28. Ben Harrell says:

    [sarcasm]
    Maybe if you all were a little more holy, God would tell you specifically what HE thought about the song. Huh. You hear that? It’s the sound of my point sizzling like a steak on a grill. Oh yeah, I went there. [/sarcasm]

  29. [entering into the sarcasm game]

    Well, Ben – God told me that he thought the song was cheesy CCM pop-drivel, but that He did really like ONE particular verse of the lyrics.

    [exiting sarcasm game]

    honestly, I still haven’t heard it…
    just having fun!

  30. Peter Park says:

    I agree with you. You can’t live your life blaming God for the bad things that happen in life. That’s a waste.

  31. Is it so much “blaming God”, or asking the question “now, why would God allow this”, and seeking to ‘hear’ Him in the midst of it?

  32. Matt Norma says:

    While I understand and respect your view on this, I don’t agree with it. I think that God can speak through the ircums

  33. Matt Norma says:

    While I understand and respect your view on this, I don’t agree. I believe that God can, and does speak to us through circumstances. In fact I was at a funeral just yesterday and found myself so profoundly moved by the Holy Spirit that I wanted to fall to my knees right there and pray. Is this to say that God caused this death in order to speak to me? I don’t think so. I think it is, instead, a matter of God using the circumstances that are already there to speak to us.

  34. Fred says:

    Matt –

    I completely agree. Maybe I didn’t make myself clear – of course, God can (and will) speak through circumstances – bad and good. God will take bad things, and use them to work good for Him.

    My issue was the way I “heard” the lyrics, they were somehow suggesting that God was involved in causing the circumstances directly, or indirectly (ie. that God was involved in letting us be trapped in fear, etc” ….

    Fred

  35. Robert McKinnon says:

    After all the twists and turns, we have two camps. I think BOTH camps are right. We can’t argue with the bible and its examples of God actually CAUSING calamity to bring about His greater purposes. My take on this is simply this: that was the OLD testament, where God’s wrath was being poured out – not being stored up. And we can’t argue with the fact that God is good and will not purposely “harm” his children.

    But I’m a member of one of the camps. I’m just now – having read all this – ready to say “Ok, both camps are full of good and right points. What can be done to combine them into a stronger, single camp?”

    God IS sovereign. No doubt. Never was any doubt on my part. Bottom line? Not a single one of you knows the depths of His sovereingty. Only I know that (OK – just entered Ben and Shannon’s sarcasm game).

    Seriously, though – exiting the game – this is my final take:

    I believe that God is soverign in that He knows all that will happen. He knew it from the very foundation of the world. He knows what Satan is going to do and He knows what we are going to do. He knows that He COULD stop any and all of it and make us like robots if He wanted, but that would go against His own law of free will and choice. So He has chosen to let certain “laws” take their course.

    A young baseball player is stealing second base and the catcher throws the ball a little off. The runner’s helmet comes off and the ball hits him on the temple and kills him.

    Terrible. But don’t say that God did it. God will work through it. God WANTS to work through it, and already knew that it would happen and knew who would let Him reach them through it.

    Some will say that God ALLOWED it to happen. He knew it was going to happen. He could have stopped it. He chose not to. That EQUALS Him actually causing it.

    I can’t go there. But I can truly see more of a balance between the two.

  36. Biblically, God is not the direct causative agent of sin though, to use an analogy, He does have to give evil a hallpass (ex. Satan’s permission and boundaries on Job’s suffering). That is why the song is a bit dangerous just sung as is. My decision would be based on how the listener would interpret the word “invovled” with no subsequent explanation. Before a message where the teaching pastor would make reference to that and clarify and I’d roll with it. In a sense He is involved, allowing permissions and “working it for good for those who believe.” As a stand alone entity with no other explanation and I’d shrink from it.

    Several other quotes need light shed on them.

    As to Calvinism. With Calvin sovereignty and God’s election dealt with sotieriology, not God as the causitive agent of everything though many have since gone there with it. If God causes everything then He caused me to think the thought “He is the causitive agent of everything” and then any sense of rationality goes out the window because I can never be sure I if am thinking rationally but there is a puppet master (God) in my brain arranging all my thoughts. I call myself a Pauline Doctrine of Electionist to separate myself from common connotations of others toward Calvinists. It at least makes them stop and ask me, “Now what?”

    “Please understand that I’m not suggesting that everyone leading worship get a Ph.D. in Bible or Theology.” I am suggesting that they should strongly consider it and if not, at least be highly educated in Systematic and Biblical theology. We should know the God we lead people to subjectively (experientially) and objectively (factually). Every worship leader ought to have a sound theology on the nature of Christ (vs. heretical views), the Trinity (one of the largest churches in Dallas’ Pastor refuses to use the word or espouse it..historically speaking they are no then a Church by Nicene Standards), and the atonement.

  37. Jordan…
    oddly enough, today – while mopping my studio/family room – I was pondering that very thing! I think it would do a good many worship leaders quite a bit of good to – maybe not get a PhD in Theology – study theology far more than they do. I think that’s why I’ve been really excited by the songwriting of Matt Redman, Graham Kendrick (particularly his more recent material), Vicky Beeching, and many of the Sovereign Grace Ministries folks – they clearly come from deep wells, not only of emotion, but of thought. Personally, I try to keep at least one book of theology (systematic, biblical, or practical – I rotate) on my bedside next to my Bible and something devotional at all times. Though I don’t read huge chunks at a time, a page or two every few nights almost always challenges me spiritually, and has much greater depth than most devotional material for me.

    Robert – I like your attempt at balance, which is exactly what I want to do as well – find a Biblical balance, yet acknowledge the mystery. I would ask, however, how God’s ‘Old Testament wrath’ played into God’s clear responsibility, as acknowledged in the book, of Job’s tribulations, or for that matter, Joseph’s? Also, what does this do to how we understand God being the same “yesterday, today, and forever”?

    I do like the image of a ‘hall pass’ – that seems to fit most of the imagery of how evil works in the Bible. I think the lyrics of this song seem to acknowledge that God gives a hall-pass to certain events and/or actions of the devil/demons/or fallen human hearts and not others because He recognizes how they fit into his greater plan and those are – somehow – the ‘best’, in the long-run…and those things – which are indeed “ALL THINGS” (good & evil) are ‘worked’ for our “good”.

    I’m surprised at how long this discussion has gone! Good stuff!

  38. Travis says:

    We seem to be bouncing back and forth the concept of causality. We can blame sin, randomness, etc. but everything goes back to a cause, a single cause. Either God put it in motion and knew what was going to happen OR there is some serious explaining to do. A pretty controversial retreat speaker I heard once asked an incredibly profound question, “who put the serpent in the garden?” I think we get hung up basically on the “bad things happening to good people” issue with this, and we try to bail God out. It is hard for us to justify the hows and whys but the scriptures never call us to that accountability. I think I hear many of the comments leaning in the direction of truly acknowledging the Sovereignty of God, yet still being uncomfortable with what that actually has them admit.

  39. Justin Davidson says:

    I just have to say this has been the best blogging I have seen since I started, which has not been long. Shannon and Travis I must agree, yet years ago I would have fought tooth and nail with what you are saying.
    I have come to realize I cannot put God in a box. And the more I have grown in the word of God I see he is the Author and Perfecter of my life. What is Good? What can seem horrible to us(death of a loved one), could be the best thing if that person knows Jesus. He IS IN HEAVEN!!!!!, or God has used a circumstance to test our faith, and we have the choice how we respond. What is God trying to teach in this moment, or the amount of people that start to think about eternity and afterlife. Funerals are an amazing worship, and has and can be a divine moment to share thw gospel.

    3Not only so, but we[a] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Roman 5:3-5
    I don’t understand everything about my life, but has used every bit for the hope I have in Christ now. I wouldn’t change any of it. Every bit has shaped my life, especially the hard circumstances. I am ok to know God can allow hard times. He is my Father who loves me and sees the Greater good of it all.

    As Travis said: The serpent was put in the garden for a reason. What was God up to???

    These are my ramblings….but I do believe in balance. I believe in unity of the body, and especially the Ultimate Authority(the Word Of God).

    Even if a song could be controversial, I like the fact it could have people ask questions. I want people to be challenged in worship. I don’t people to come to a worship service on Sunday morning and just leave feeling all fuzzy inside. I want lives to be changed more to living like and for Jesus.

    This all said, I totally agree the song must be biblical. I do mean challenging in the biblical sense and not just some song thats heresy to have people question.

    Go Jesus!! He rocks my face off.

  40. Robert McKinnon says:

    I must say I have been more challenged by this blog than most anything I’ve read in ages! That’s what I love about discussions like this. I want to take this moment to also say that I am humbled by the great showing of love and mercy from all of you. I’ve never had this kind of discussion before with folks without people getting ugly. You guys are great.

    I’ve been pondering all that was said – especially your response Shannon. The Lord has brought to my remembrance a number of times that I have actually “planned” unpleasant things in order to teach my children a lesson.

    Now before you go calling me a bad daddy let me give an example: no amount of talking to one of my sons could change his attitude about a certain thing. So I arranged a circumstance to happen in order to place him in that very place. He gained a true understanding of what it meant and it changed his life.

    My son David has just received a paintball gun. I spent alot of money on it and he was so excited! But now he’s scared and doesn’t want to join into the fray at a big party. I know he will regret it if he doesn’t get involved. So I have “planned and orchestrated” a sneak attack on him today. We’re simply going to trap him in a place and shoot him up a little.

    I know my son. He will be afraid. Then he will be upset. Then he will be angry. Then he will start laughing and probably shoot better than all of us.

    My heavenly Father has done this to me so many times that it makes my head spin. He has (I believe) put me in situations that have challenged me above and beyond the place I felt I was spiritually or physically strong enough to handle. All in order to REVEAL TO ME WHO I WAS AND WHAT I WAS CAPABLE OF.

    Having said all that, I believe that God is and always has been and always will be the same. But if I had to describe what that is it would be this:

    GOD IS LOVE, AND YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT HE’S GOING TO DO NEXT. HE’S ALWAYS THE SAME – TOTALLY UNPREDICABLE.

    In that, He is sovereign. I still hold to many of my beliefs about this subject. But above all my beliefs now is a banner in my heart that says “I have found myself full of the ability to be wrong”.

  41. Rob…
    good stuff.

    Honestly, I hope I don’t sound like I know it all on this topic – I’ve changed my way of seeing this so many times…I’ll be reading my Bible and get slapped with a verse, and I say, “here we go again – how does THIS one pick into the picture of God I have in my brain”, and sometimes it’s troubling, but more often than not the final result is that my view of God gets broadened, sometimes so much so that it feels as though I’ve just been ‘converted ‘ all over again. I love those moments!

    Yes, though – very good conversation. I think I’m going to do a whole SERIES on a related subject at my other blog starting late next week, using Piper/Taylor’s SUFFERING AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD as a jumping point. Stop by and be encouraged to enter into the conversation – I’d love to hear from you.

    blessings…

  42. Mr. Lewis says:

    I completely do not agree. What the author, Ronnie Freeman, was saying was – when we are tangled up in fear (it’s a reality – it happens to many people) God is involved – He’s there, He’s seeing us through it – He never causes it, but He knows that sometimes the best way for us to learn is for us to experience the “winters” of life. That’s how He can pull us out. It requires more faith on our part.

    Again, Ronnie was not saying God’s involvement meant He caused those things to happen….He was saying His involvement is to be with us during those times, using that situation to speak to us. It happened – He might as well use it to teach us, etc.

    God’s perfect “A” will for us is just that perfect. We are not perfect. When we choose to go a different path – it’s our choice. However, the very moment that happens, God is trying to get us back on His perfect path for our lives. It may take months or even years. That’s when His “B”, and “C” wills come in. He makes a detour to get us back.

    I hope this helps.

  43. Fred says:

    Mr. Lewis –

    Thanks so much. Your reply seems absolute and authoritative, as if you know the writer personally, and have direct knowledge of the writer’s intention … is this the case, or is this just your interpretation? I’d love to know this was straight from the writer (Ronnie?) … sure makes the song wonderful for me again!

    My issue wasn’t that the writer meant one thing or another – but that it “could be” interpreted to mean it was caused – it was questionable enough, that without interpretation and explanation, I wasn’t comfortable using it.

    Hope you’ll come back and respond.
    Fred

  44. Robin says:

    My take is exactly as you expected as you were writing this. yes God can use something like the death of a loved one to speak to us and for some people it can take a death of a loved to get the conservation with God started… that is what I think that lyrics is pointing to. As for tangled up in fear… again being in a fearful position should get us to the point to where we realize that we need to start to listen to God. And by doing so, He can and will take the fear away. If you believe that “He’ll do and He’ll use WHATEVER He wants to…” then the death of a loved one and a scary situation aren’t excluded. You and I have heard many testimonies from people that essentially says “I was so scared I didn’t know what to do, then I listen to God”. In those Fear Not situations in the Bible: seeing the angel God sent caused the shepherds to “fear” until the angel God sent said “fear not”. They weren’t fearful prior to the angel appearing. I understand that you must be careful about what is presented in your worship services, but this song could bless so many people, I sorry to hear that you didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to use it during the Christmas season when so many people need to know that God is still speaking to each of us individually today, we just need to be made aware and listen.

  45. Rosemary B says:

    I hear her lyrics on fear differently. I did not assume she was implying GOd tangled us in fear or that he was the author, but as you said we at times will fall into the trap of fear (dispite the admonition to “fear not”). When we do he will be there to help us out of it. When she says “involved” I took it to mean he never leaves us and in the midst of our circumstances he will speak to us and help us out of the trap. I guess we need to ask her what she intended. Thanks! Rosemary

  46. Fred says:

    Hi Rosemary,

    Thanks for your comments .. I’m glad you found the blog, and hope you’ll stay around as a daily reader! The more I hear from people, the more I can see that hopefully that’s what the writer meant. Actually, a friend of the songwriter has contacted me and said that’s DEFINITELY what the writer meant, so it makes me enjoy the song so much more.

    All along, I thought it was a beautiful song, I just didn’t necessarily think I could use it in corporate worship w/o some explanation … I didn’t want to leave that up to “interpretation”.

    God bless,
    Fred

  47. Sometimes I wish that each song-writer would write a little explanation of how their songs were inspired above the words. There are just too many songs I really like but still don’t know where they’re coming from. Just a thought.

  48. Travis says:

    Robert I understand what you are saying, but doesn’t that take some of the fun out of it? It is poetry, I remember sitting in class and being told that we aren’t supposed to always know what the author meant.

    That being said… yeah, I love knowing what authors meant, even if it sometimes meant something different to me.

  49. inWorship says:

    I love that this conversation is still going.

    Based on what Robert just said,

    “Sometimes I wish that each song-writer would write a little explanation”

    I think Travis just touched on it a bit, but does it matter what they meant by it? Can we not take a song and use for how we see it?

  50. Matt Norman says:

    I agree that we should use a song because of how it spekas to us or our congregation. However, I find that when I know the story behind a given song it often gives it more meaning or adds meaning where there may not have been. For instance Because He Lives. This is a song that we do rather frequently and since hearing the story behind it I find myself thinking about that story everytime I sing the song which makes the song much more powerful for me. I love the books written by Mark Hall of Casting Crowns which tell the stories behind many of the songs he has written.

  51. Matt Norman says:

    Oh yeah one more thing. I also believe that sharing the story behind a given song, or the scriptural reference for the song can give a deeper meaning for the congregation and therefore lead to a deeper worship experience.

  52. Matt Norman says:

    Oh yeah, one more thing (this is it I prosmise). Last Friday I saw Mandisa at Winter Jam. She did this song and talked about the meaning of it as an introduction to the song. She talked about how even when we are in a bad circumstance, even when we are hurting that God is there speaking. She talked about how God CAN use those situations to speak to us. She did not say that Gdo caused the situation in order to get our attention. Ok, I think I am done for now.

  53. I think it’s really important to understand where the song comes from. If you don’t understand what you’re singing about from the author’s perspective, at least have an understanding of where you’re coming from yourself. It’s more than just “poetry” when it’s worshipping God. Worship is intentional and should have a focus. I need to know what I’m worshipping God with.

    But that’s just me.

  54. inWorship says:

    I would never use a song that I knew specifically meant something that did not line up with my morals or purpose. I also would never take a song and make it mean something for worship.

    But the song in question was to be more of a “special” and many songs have a lot of room for meaning and I think could work nicely into making a point or emphasizing a topic.

  55. Milana says:

    Hi guys,

    I have read most of the comments going back and forth but not all. So If I am repeating anyone, sorry.

    One thing that I haven’t seen anyone mention is some major events in the bible.

    Let’s look at the Israelites. God told Abraham that his descendents would go into captivity. God allowed that captivity to happen. And look at the amazing things he showed us about His love, mercy, soveriegnty, power and well to cut the list short – His character.

    And what about Job. Did not God allow satan to attack every part of His family, lively hood and physical elements of Job himself? Is this not a sorrowful event. God used it though for Job’s life personally and his relationship with Christ and as an example to us.

    and what about the history of martyrs. Would you say then that their death is meaningless. Their deaths, for many, spread the word of God, started revivels, etc.

    Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that God is the root cause of all the bad crap in the world. He gave us freedom of choice, and we are born into sin. So bad things are going to happen. But the point that I truly believe that Mandisa is saying is. God is here through it all and we will use anything – especially valleys (pain, hurt, confusion, fear) to show who he is and how we need him.

    He knows the world is broken. so he uses the brokeness to create beauty one person and one situation at a time.

    My challenge is this. Take a moment to reflect back on your own life, and even the lives of those around you who have walked a true journey with God. When was His glory most revealed. When were you most changed, and encouraged by God?

    Think about the reality of that and then meditate on the songs lyrics again.

  56. Matt Norman says:

    Milana, I agree with what you are saying about God using the hard times in our lives. I also believe that is what the song is saying. However, the concern that Fred expressed in the inital post was that the song appeared to say that God caused the the hard times. In the examples you gave God used bad things to his good, but he did not cause them to happen, he simply allowed it to happen. I think we can all agree that God allows bad things to happen and then uses them for his good. I think some were just worried that people might take the song to mean that God would cause bad things to happen in our lives in order to get our attention.

  57. Fred says:

    Matt,
    Great observation – I totally love how this discussion has continually evolved.

    Now that i’ve heard all the discussion, I really like the song. I did hear from a person recently who personally knows the songwriter, and they verified that the writer is ABSOLUTELY NOT suggesting that God “caused” the bad things; rather, that He was there in the midst.

    Of course, that may revive the whole “first cause” argument .. but I guess my main issue all along was that because it was unclear, and “up to interpretation” to me … I just didn’t feel that it was the right fit for our corporate worship service.

    That doesn’t take away from the song overall, and I’d totally be all for someone singing this as “special music” and taking 2-3 minutes to talk about the song and what it suggests – that would be sweet. I just didn’t want to perform it as a stand alone w/o any opportunity to explain it, and in the scenario I originally blogged about, that would’ve been the case due to time constraints.

    So great having this discussion!
    Fred

  58. inWorship says:

    “but I guess my main issue all along was that because it was unclear, and “up to interpretation” to me … I just didn’t feel that it was the right fit for our corporate worship service.”

    And I believe it is ultimately your right to make this call because of the position you are in. The reality is whatever we all think, you have more understanding and the authority for your congregation.

    I’ve enjoyed this conversation as well.

  59. Enger Muteteke says:

    Hello,
    I am an Assistant Minister at a church in MD. I have heard the song, “God Speaking,” and I think it’s a beautiful song. I also love the words, but let me tell you my take on God’s sovereignty. I look at God’s sovereignty, in this song, in a different way. I’m using it to end a Good Friday service, but from the standpoint that God loves us so much that God will move heaven and earth to speak to us – especially if we don’t know God’s love. Whether one is a believer or not, bad things happen in all our lives. That’s a fact. But, I don’t think the song is saying that God causes these things to happen. I think that the song is naming things in one’s life that can happen, have happened, or will happen, and, regardless of what happens, God is speaking, “I love you,” period – all the time. I would challenge you to think about the song in this way: God loves us so much, that God speaks to us everywhere, at all times, and in everything circumstance – the death and Resurrection of God’s son, Jesus, a sunrise, a sunset, God’s beautiful creation, birthdays, weddings, but also funerals, the death of loved ones, difficult times in our lives, everything. That’s the general and special revelation of God. I listened to an interview of Mandisa regarding her “God Speaking” song. And do you know what she said? She said that she wrote the song when she was going through a time in her life full of judgment and criticism. She said she took some time to herself to listen to what God was saying to her. And when she was quiet enought to hear God’s voice, she said God spoke to her, not with a word of judgment or criticism, but simply said, “I Love You.” The song is, really, her testimony about a time in her life. I hope you are not implying that God only speaks to us and is with us when things are going great in our lives. If so, I wholeheartedly disagree with that. On the contrary, the Savior who speaks to us in the good times, I firmly believe, is the same Savior who weeps with us, advocates for us, and comforts us in the difficult times whispering “I Love You.”

  60. Fred says:

    For all those out there who still get email subscription to this old thread … my friend Aaron posted a gorgeous video to this song at:
    http://armswideopen.wordpress.com/2008/03/27/god-speaking-2/

  61. Knoteboom says:

    I appreciate your comments especially about the losing a loved one line. I wholeheartedly agree with what you said. Thanks.

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