Open Letters

Shallow theology makes shallow music.

October 26, 2014

"Vailam ka hmai ah, Vawlei hnu ah" Ablum Cover

There might be several questions why I am translating the English praise and worship songs, and why I think they are better than what we have. I am not going to talk about the melodies and the musical stuff here. I just want to point out what praise and worship songs are like.

1. They are Christ-centered. The songs speak of Christ as the Bible does, as all worship songs should be and all living purposes should be. How could we possible worship and know God if it wasn’t for the cross and the grace of God (Col 1:15-23) ? How can we make worship songs that neglect the main foundation / the cornerstone of our faith?  A song is not a worship song if it doesn’t speak of who Christ truly is, it is an idolatry (Exo 20:4-6).
2. They are theological sound. What does it mean? It means that it reflects of who God is as the bible speaks of, and not of whatever the flesh desires about who God is and how He should act for us (Acts 20:30, 2Peter 2:14, 18). The song should not just take one verse or two from the Old Testament and skews it. For an example, I heard of a song that says “worship God can give you long life”, but I don’t know of the bible promises that you may live longer because you praise God. The bible says that you praise God because He is worthy to be praised. Period. Or the other song that says “let God take it away if he needs it because they will come back to us very soon” – really? Shouldn’t the song go, “Take everything from me God, everything is yours anyways, you are still good, not matter what”? The worship songs really have to hit home the scripture and the meaning that it wants to deliver. Some songs are really heretic. The praise and worship songs need to flow from the Bible in its complete picture of God’s redemptive story for the sinners.
3. They are personal. Praises can be about just singing and shouting the truth about God, but worship needs to be personal. We cannot worship God with using the words that are like “an nih” “nan mah” which are like third person pronouns. Maybe that transfers to our daily lives as well where we tell of others about how they need God, where we judge and condemn others for how they are not living, and where we preach the Gospel to others and not to ourselves. Worship needs to be PERSONAL. Some songs are also very passive as well, “it is great to worship God.. God blesses His people.. God deserves praises”. Those things are true in themselves, but they are very impersonal. They rather create passive worships than active ones. Could it be more like “I will great my great God… God has blessed so much.. Help me praise you as you deserve it all”?  Please ponder on the songs that you are singing. How are they helping us to worship Christ in spirit and in truth (John 4:20-24)? Worshiping is composed of songs that are out expression of adoration, love, and respect to God. Instead of talking about God, in worship songs, we are talking to Him.
4. They are deep. Look at the Psalms and how deep they are when people express of their sadness, joy, praises, and victory. The Psalter (Psalms writers) knew who God is and how much longing they have to know the true God more. The book of Psalms is the worship, and our worship should take its form from there, (Ps. 1-150). The songs need to try to describe the holy and great God as He is. All the attributes and characters of God should reflect the P&W songs. Shallow theology gives shallow lyrics and melody.
Someone told me that if the song is too deep and too personal, how about the other people who are not in the same level of faith as you? Should not you concern for them? It is exactly my point – when the Christians worship God with Spirit and truth, it will attract others. Even if they don’t get it, they will want to make that true for their lives as well. Are we going to give people water-down Gospel because they cannot understand the biblical Gospel? NO! The true worship songs should convince us that we are great sinners who need a Savior, and that we can rest in His love and mercy.

Those are some points that I have been seeing in our cultures in how we treat worship songs. I really hope that the songs that we are making (translating) will be used as praise and worship songs in the churches. I am doing this for free just for the purpose of getting more contemporary songs for our youth and elders as well. God has been so amazing throughout this whole project and I know that God deserves all the praises with all the right attitudes, songs and instruments. When the songs are released, I will be posting them with the music videos and also free download links. I am super thankful for our Chicago Mino, Esther VH Sung and Dawt Len Zing, who share the same dream about creating more Christ-centered music (or just lifestyle because worship is a lifestyle and it does not end with a church service). I hope we can make our own melody in the future, and my prayer is that the next generation will outdo us in making praise songs.

One more thing that I learned from this experience is that God can accomplish whatever He calls us to do. If you think that God is calling you toward our Chin people to do something different, I would suggest that you keep asking for God’s will. After years of praying and you are sure that it is something God wants you to do, go pursue it! God will take care of you because nothing is too small for God.
Even with this small project, I had a lot of doubts in terms of people, financial and other resources at first, but God provided along the way. He planned it better than I possibly could and my faith truly grew from these five songs. Nothing is impossible with God – timi hi a mah a zum i biatak te in a mah caah bak ah ai pe mi lawng nih an theih khoh ti mi kai fiang tuk cang. And that person can be you too.
Seriously, lai mino, thlacam ko uh! Pathian nih a kan tuah ter tak mi asi ah cun, a mah nih khua a khan ko lai. A mah zumh awk tlak le a mah nawl neih lawng kha kan rian asi ko.

Speaking of worship, did you know that preaching is also considered worship? Thus preaching is not any other purposes but to exhort and glorify God through the Bible. Oh, how we mess that up by bringing up our anger and politics and ideas on the pulpit and threaten people to change their ways, where preaching is about God and His Word.

Let the generation of God rise up!

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