CHRIS TOMLIN – BURNING LIGHTS (2013)

31AihiI9AKL._SL500_AA280_I always look forward to a new Chris Tomlin release.  Anyone who follows contemporary worship music will admit that Tomlin is a tremendous talent.  But his talent is not the main attraction.  Sure his music is good but what makes him a special artist is the depth of songs he writes and sings.  Some themes come to mind that seem to keep making their way into Tomlin’s music: the majesty of God, the gospel, the cross of Christ, the sinfulness of man, and the grace of God.

Whom shall I Fear” is driving song that points saints to our trustworthy God:

My strength is in Your name, for You alone can save/You will deliver me, Yours is the victory/Whom shall I fear?/Whom shall I fear?/I know who goes before me/I know who stands behind, the God of angel armies is by my side/The One who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine/The God of angel armies is always by my side.

And nothing formed against me shall stand/You hold the whole world in your hands/I’m holding on to Your promises/You are faithful, You are faithful.

“White Flag” is an anthem that invites rebels to surrender to the King of the universe.  With a U2 feel, the song is a bold affirmation of the penal substitutionary atonement and the sufficiency of Christ’s cross:

The battle rages on as storm and tempest roar/We cannot win this fight, inside our rebel hearts/We‘re laying down our weapons now/We raise our white flag, we surrender all to You, all for You/We raise our white flag, the war is over, love has come, Your love has won.

Here on this holy ground, You made a way for peace/Laying your body down, You took our rightful place/This freedom song is marching on!/We raise our white flag, we surrender all to You, all for You/We raise our white flag, the war is over, love has come, Your love has won.

Tomlin has a gift for reintroducing the great hymns of the church with a contemporary feel and even adding some new lyrics that complement a given hymn.  For instance, “Crown Him With Many Crowns” is a hymn that Tomlin reframes on the disc:

Crown Him with many crowns the Lamb upon His throne/Hark how the heavnenly anthems drones  all music but its own/Awake my soul and sing, of Him who died for me/And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity

Majesty, Lord of all, let every throne before Him fall/The King of kings, oh come adore!  Our God who reigns for evermore!

Crown Him the Lord of life who triumphed over the grave /And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save/His glories now we sing, who died and rose on high/Who died eternal life to bring and lives that death may die.

Majesty, Lord of all, let every throne before Him fall/The King of kings, oh come adore!  Our God who reigns for evermore!

My favorite song, “Sovereign” reminds listeners that God reigns on high.  He is the King who is owing of our allegiance and trust:

Sovereign in the mountain air, sovereign on the ocean floor, with me in the calm, with me in the storm/Sovereign in my greatest joy, sovereign in my deepest cry, with me in the dark, with me at the dawn.

In your everlasting arms, all the pieces of my life from beginning to the end, I can trust You/In Your never-failing love, You work everything for good, God whatever comes me way, I will trust You.

All my hopes, all I need – held in Your hands, All my life, all of  me – held in Your hands, All my fears, all my dreams – held in Your hands …

My family and our good friends from Christ Fellowship had the pleasure of worshipping with Chris Tomlin last summer at the County Fair in Lynden, Washington.  As we worshipped, I noticed the carnival in the background.  Hoards of people enjoyed the rides and screamed as the zipper soared and the roller coaster roared.  The thought struck me, “Everyone is a worshipper.”  And while God’s people drank deeply from an inexaustable fountain, the people of the world found their delight in lesser things.  The scene reminded me of the well-known episode in John Bunyan’s epic work, Pilgrim’s Progress where the people reveled in Vanity Fair.  It was a surreal moment that I will not soon forget.

Chris Tomlin reminds Baptists and Presbyterians that hand clapping is not only permissible – it is commanded!  He reminds Charismatics that a good beat is a good thing – but never good enough.  It must be accompanied by sound doctrine.  Burning Lights is a none other than a radical call to God-centeredness; a call to worship.  Thanks go out to Chris Tomlin for leading the people of God to the throne of God for the glory of God!

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