MUSIC REVIEW: RECKLESS LOVE by CORY ASBURY

Artiste: Cory Asbury

Album
: Reckless Love (2018)

Label: Bethel Music

Reviewer: Chidimma Nnagbo

Cory Ausbury joined Bethel music in 2015. He released his ‘Reckless love’ in 2018 which hit it big. According to Kate Nutshell, ‘when worship songs make it big, they also get subjected to a degree of theological scrutiny, and some have questioned whether the message of the hit song misrepresents the nature of God’s love’. There has been criticism of the song’s title, ‘reckless love’. A wing of the criticism says ‘God loves us with clear and thoughtful intention’. Another wing says “Reckless Love became popular because it is a catchy tune that speaks to all of our human desires to be loved and known”. Cory Ausbury in his defence said in an interview, “I see the love of God as something wild, insane, crazy.”

On hearing the song at first, it may not hit any serious chord till you listen to the lyrics. It’s Rock genre is somewhat soft. It goes from soft intensity to a strong intensity and back to soft again. It feels like the music comes alive when the lyric is understood. The lyrics are strong and deep; they drive right into the heart and mind. The words can hardly be dismissed. It conjures feelings deep happiness that bring tears to the eye. Personally, I think the description is strong and beautiful and I felt the human buildup is incapable of mirroring such love with the same intensity. It is sad and I wanted to love more. Feel more. Do more.

In verse one, God’s sovereignty is described; the way that he first loved us, without us doing anything to earn it. His love was before our existence. Then he launches into the mind blowing chorus.

“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God”
 
He describes God’s love with 3 magical words: Overwhelming, never-ending and reckless.

The song is heavily poetic and exciting in a literary sense. The chasing and fighting paints the picture of a guy trying to win a girl over; it also borrows imagery from the biblical story of the good shepherd, who leaves his 99 sheep in the field and goes off in search of a single lost sheep. He tells a tale of personal importance that nothing is done to earn. In verse 2, he buttresses the point of God’s eternal and unconditional love.

Then right to my favourite verse…

There’s no shadow You won’t light up

Mountain You won’t climb up

Coming after me

There’s no wall You won’t kick down

Lie You won’t tear down

Coming after me

A representation technique is used here. It seems to point to Ephesians 6: 12 ‘ For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’.

It seems to say that no belief asides the gospel will stand in his way. Even if the belief is as high as a mountain or so dark it casts shadows.He’ll keep coming after you. No matter how high you’ve built your wall and how much lies you are living, he’ll still come after you. 

The song is one of those songs you put on replay till whenever. 

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Questions Crossed Out

My wailing,
What does it weigh,
Against the sighs of seven billion souls, each,
Digging wounds into my already shattered depths,

My breathing,
What does it matter,
When it’s lost in waves of first winds drawn and last gasps sown,
Lashing earth for eons,

My living,
Is it a rare gem or a speck of dust,
Amongst countless weddings, empires collapsing,
And the universe’s billionth galaxy collision,

The answer,
Is a death to cross these questions out,
The meaning of existence, hanging on a stake,
For my sake.

Ikenna Nwachukwu
© 2018

When we write

When we write

Words, ink-dribbled, spurt worlds new

Splash living hues unto minds’ canvases, hearts’ recesses

Craft joy-filled crests and pain-swarmed creases

Upon soul and flesh, temporal and eternal
When we write

We wreck spheres, ignite ruckus, wage war

We lance status-quo, impale swinging license, smash sensuous stances

We maraud minarets, pillage brothels, upturn oppressors’ cash-tables

When we write, we let a truth-starved world know

That Christ Is Revolution
 Ikenna Alexander Nwachukwu

A Quibble Over Lives Made Bland

This drivel slobbers down walled criss-crosses
Puncturing nature, mad rush of masses

Plotting future, cussing up hard present

To drop and collect at, yawn, blank descent

Where death wells up our high-hoping hormones
Monuments fade, marks we leave, wisp morose

Blown as dying kiss to loveless cosmos

We lunge forth for a taste of utopia

Our tongue’s toil bears us only dystopia

Our genius damned, our tombs sealed, our lights out
Forever, from fading leaves, dying flames

A call to abandon sisyphean aims

Shred our pacts with earth’s boom-bust cycle gods

And let God infinite rid us of sods

Murk that blinds our eyes, that makes our lives bland

 

Ikenna Alexander Nwachukwu

(c) 2018

Book Review: The Pilgrim’s progress By John Bunyan

AUTHOR: JOHN BUNYAN 

PUBLISHER: CHRISTIAN CLASSICS ETHEREAL LIBRARY

REVIEWER: IFIOKABASI OKOP

John Bunyan is one of a host of classic Christian writers (part of a group that includes Dante Algehieri and C. S Lewis). The Pilgrim’s Progress is one of the most significant works in Christian literature and has been translated into more than two hundred language. It has been identified as an allegory which, as an extended version of a metaphor, is a narrative technique that uses fictional characters, events or places to represent real situations and in this case, the Christian journey. 

The Pilgrim’s Progress is divided into two parts which tell the story of a man’s progress in search of salvation and eternal life. It is narrated by an omniscient narrator who sees all he narrates in a dream. The first part documents Christian’s revelation and decision to leave his home town, City of Destruction, to embark on a journey to the Celestial City. His journey to the Celestial City can be likened to the Christian race. Christian’s salvation is portrayed as the falling off of a burden from his back into the tomb where a cross is locates. He faces persecution in the valley of the shadow of Death where he loses his friend, Faithful. When his journey becomes tiresome, an easy path appears. This path represents false doctrines that lead people to destruction. He eventually escapes from there and continues on the true path which leads him to the Celestial City. There, he is received by the King into eternal life.

The second part narrates the decision of Christiana, Christian’s wife to join him in the Celestial City alongside their children. They are mocked by their neighbours because of the decision Christiana makes. They embark on the journey and go through similar experiences to Christian’s from the reproach at the City of Destruction to the Cross and the tomb where they are saved. They climb the Hill of Difficulty and at House Beautiful, Matthew, Christiana’s son is healed with a purge made of the blood and body of Christ. This represents the healing power of Jesus Christ. Their guide, Great Heart defends the travelling party against danger and points out to Christiana places where Christian had significant encounters. The journey is portrayed as a lifelong one as the children grow up and get married while on the journey. They all make it to the Celestial City and are received by the King.

This book portrays the difficulties and struggles christians face in their lives and the joy and happiness they will experience in Christ. Almost every moral struggle we encounter in our lives is somehow allegorized, whether in Christian’s own journey or in encounters that others tell him about. Christian is tempted by Mr. Worldly Wisdom and Despair while his friend Faithful has to get past Wanton. Every person has different strengths and weaknesses, and every Christian is encouraged by Bunyan to follow and study the Lord personally, and not compare oneself to other Christians, who have different experiences. Christian does not become perfect as he grows; sometimes he becomes proud because of his knowledge and displays an arrogant attitude towards others. He makes mistakes and learns from them. The novel has good ebb and flow as is depicted in the ups and downs of the Christian race. There are periods of rest after trials and temptations which arise after victories.

The Pilgrim’s Progress is an engaging and didactic read. There are complex, detailed sections of theological discussion which may seem boring. Warren Wiersebe’s notes help in better understanding of the book. He explains difficult words, themes and scriptural references in the book. Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is definitely a good read for every Christian.

REBELLION

Our bond was gone

Torn by playing self’s strings, a concerto to otherness

A faint flame of nascent doubt nagged into crushing inferno

Thrusting and thrashing through trust’s defenses

To throw open heart’s doors to alternative truth

A deluge wild and free, everywhere and purposeless

Your walls gave way to vast fields to explore

Space filled with beautiful flowers and murderous fanged beasts

My emotions were terror-driven ecstacy, happy masks for painful dying

As I danced about independence’s gift, understanding and doom

Life was exile

Life was being lost, for life was lost

Life was the highway’s speeding car without brakes

Life was the pungent presence of putrefaction

But I hid my shame, nostalgia de la boue finely propped up

Our love was worn

Battered by sounds from within

Counterfeits of true creation ballad

I swam the me-tune, the egocentric universe

I found it without stars, cold, dark, merciless

Memories of you welled up on the inside, a piercing plea

To call me back to your walled protecrorate

The infinite love-space in which I now roam

You were my way home, falling to become the link bridge

You are my home, the One in whom I’m complete.

Book Review: THE EARLY CHRISTIANS IN THEIR OWN WORDS By Eberhard Arnold

 

Author: Eberhard Arnold

Publisher: The Brunderhof Foundation

Reviewer: Ikenna Alexander Nwachukwu

Without knowledge of Church History, it would be difficult to understand how much the Church- and indeed the way in which the Christian life is lived out – has changed over the nearly 2,000 years in which it has existed. A detailed survey of the lives of the early followers of Christ as recorded in the New Testament books (especially in the Acts of the Apostles) could shed some light on how much perceptions of the faith from within and outside the circle of believers has evolved. But the picture of Christians as painted in those books could be better appreciated by taking a look at extra-biblical accounts which tell us how the Christians in the earliest times and shortly after regarded themselves and their devotion.

The Early Christians In Their Own Words is an attempt by one Christian scholar to sketch a comprehensible image of the Christian life as it was within the first hundred years after the end of the Apostolic age, i.e. the post New Testament era. Eberhard Arnold wanted to let his readers into the faith of those who received the Gospel message directly from the apostles and their contemporaries. His approach was to put together a host of excerpts from the letters and creedal statements of these ancient Christians, as well as references and descriptions by their pagan persecutors. Apart from the first chapter in which he draws upon the aforementioned sources to give a rather lengthy summary of the life and beliefs of these Christians, the rest of the book consists of a collection of quotes from their writings.

The book’s seven chapters cover important themes relating to the community of Christ’s followers in the earliest times. It deals with the state’s treatment of Christians, the Church’s relationship with society, the early Christians’ beliefs about Scripture and doctrines, the nature of Christian meetings, and the role of the Holy Spirit in the prophetic ministry of the ancient Church. The sources quoted range from moving accounts of martyrdoms at the hands of Roman authorities for the sake of the faith, to admonitions to the faithful to beware of false teachers.

There is a lot that we can recognize in these texts: pleas from Church leaders for unity in the face of internal strife, misrepresentations of the Christian life by non-Christians, and the heartfelt praise of God in words and action. But there are also references to things that we rarely find in our day: Christians voluntarily becoming slaves in order to help pay off debts of their brothers and sisters in Christ, or not having the notion that there was such a thing as private property. Helping the poor is something for which the Christians are known, and even mocked. For the pagans, the fact that Christianity appealed to the poorer members of society was evidence that it was a despicable religion; for the Christians, it pointed to God’s care for the lowly and simple. The devotion of the early Christians was so powerful that they were willing to die horrible deaths for the sake of their Lord, at the hands of the idolatrous Romans and fanatical Jews. Their Godly fervor and love for one another was displayed in acts that could surprise and inspire many modern people.

For all the good things that can be said about the followers of Christ in the years after the apostolic era, there are some notable shortcomings that could be deciphered. Chief among these is the slow but certain appearance of legalism, i.e. emphasis on “good works” as a condition for holiness. It is perhaps not surprising that the earlier writings contain little or no traces of legalism, whereas the latter ones are heavily laced with assertions about “righteous deeds” as being a condition for right standing with God. There are also hints of other negative influences from the pagan world (such as Gnosticism), which later evolved into prominent errors that the Church has struggled with to this day.

The Early Christians is a great resource to have if you are keen on finding out what Christian living looked like in the early days of the faith. The accounts it refers to speak to us almost two millennia later, reminding us that the faith we have transcends time and space, and is as sacred as ever.