Tuesday, January 03, 2006

CD Review - Awesome God

Last March my family was visiting Lord of Life Church in Pennsylvania pastored by Mark Altrogge. We have tried to do something of spiritual significance on our vacations, and this year we wanted to meet the man who had so profoundly influenced us by his lyrics and music.

Meeting Mark was a joy, but there was one downside. The folks at LOL sang a song that Sunday I had never heard before. A song that made me think, “If I could write one song to function as a sort of theme song for Grace Fellowship Church, this would be it!” I scanned all my Sovereign Grace Ministries CD’s in vain... there was no Almighty Creator!

The chorus of that song (written by Mark as I read the very fine print on the overhead) went as follows:

And You’ve created me to worship You
And You’ve created me to love You
And You have made me to delight in You
All glory to Your name!

Our motto at GFC is “Delighting in God to the Glory of God!” You can see why I liked the song so much!

Not long after our visit, however, a new CD arrived in the mail for the kids – Awesome God, a disc full of great songs with lyrics written to “express God's character and nature in words that kids understand.”

Yikes! The song I loved was a kid’s song! A song teaching the glory of God in creating all things – written for kids! This was amazing!

If you have not heard this CD yet, I am sure you will experience the same delightful shock. Awesome God is made up of 12 great tracks with typical Bob Kauflin/Steve Cook professionalism. I am not a music genius, but I know enough to know that this was no “garage product” or last minute effort. The songs are refreshingly clean with a good variance in sound and tempo. Most have strong guitar leads and great percussion – a tribute to the producer’s goal to target the 7-12 year old age group. Or maybe it was their goal to get us parents hooked! It is an excellent studio production with real kids singing alongside adults.

Lyrically, Awesome God is unmatched. This is no Psalty Loses His Glasses drivel. This is doctrine sung! Better, it is doctrine sung expressing in the first person that “I, the kid, need to be saved by God!”

I was melted to tears by Altrogge’s Mighty, Mighty Saviour the first time I heard it.

Mighty, Mighty Saviour

No one is good... No one is holy before God...
I need someone to cleanse me
No one is pure... No one is righteous in Your sight
I need someone to save me

But I’m so glad You died and rose again
For helpless sinners like me...
What a mighty, mighty Saviour You are
What a mighty, mighty Saviour You are
You can wash away my sin
You can change my heart within
What a mighty, mighty Saviour You are

Sin is too strong... For me to conquer on my own
I need someone to help me
I am too weak... I cannot change my evil heart
I need someone to save me

Mark Altrogge © 2004 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI). Sovereign Grace Music, a division of Sovereign Grace Ministries. From Awesome God. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. North American administration by Integrity Music. International administration by CopyCare International. Used by permission.

Hah! Finally a song that a kid should sing! Not the “I’m a good person because I have Christian parents and I go to church” nonsense, but “I need someone to save me!” We sing this song lots at GFC – kids and adults alike. Martin Lloyd-Jones once wrote that he wanted “to get saved all over again” every time he heard the gospel preached. True Christians delight in this kind of song as it causes us to go back to the cross and glory in what our God has done for us.

There are other great doctrines made singable. F orever God is a meditation on the eternal nature of God (and kids love to sing it!). You Are Always With Me takes some of the metaphors of Psalm 139 to communicate the omnipresence of God. Sovereign One you can guess from the title. The triune nature of God is described in beautiful verse in Three in One. The holiness and love of God are dealt with in For You are Holy and Your Love respectively. The incarnation and dual nature of the Saviour is given expression in Jesus Came to Earth.

The last song on the disk is Have You Heard? It asks:

Have you heard about Jesus?
Do you know who He is?
He’s the very Son of God
He’s the King of Kings
Have you heard of the gospel?
Do you know what it is?
It tells us Jesus died for us
To save us from our sins

This is the best news that we could ever hear
More than amazing, it drives out every fear
By trusting in Jesus Christ
In His saving sacrifice
We can be made new

As the father of four kids I can attest to the benefit of these songs. My 4 year old can sing the lyrics to almost all of every song, while the older ones walk around the house either humming or singing them. This has led to great conversations about the nature of God and their own standing with the Saviour. More than that, it is planting in their receptive minds true truth. What could be better than this?

In our church, we make a point of singing at least one song from this disk every Wednesday night when we get together to pray and have our kids meetings. This has been a great encouragement to the kids as they feel even more a part of our worship time.

And if you haven’t figured this part out yet, let me just add that these are songs you are going to be singing too! And you will be singing them with delight, not going through your day trying to get some silly Raffi song out of your head! (To my American readers, just be glad you don't know who Raffi is!)

I can’t say enough about this disk. I have never seen anything remotely like it for kids. My only hope is that our SGM friends will produce another soon!

And by the by, I did a get a free copy of this CD for reviewing it... but I am not going to keep it! I have had mine for months, so I will be giving this one away! In other words, I am not heaping up the kudos just because I got a free CD. I am endorsing and recommending this CD to you because it is excellent in every way. You won't be disappointed! (Whether you buy it for your kids or yourself!)
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You can listen to lengthy song samples and also download free copies of chorded lead sheets from this page. Praise the Lord for SGM and the way He is using them to minister to His church!

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Have you listened to Awesome God? What are your thoughts?