For King & Country Ignites Fire with Burn The Ships

It’s not too often that I listen to a whole album day one, even from a band I love. From the opening strings in “IntroIt” to the final tune in “Pioneers”, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to for King & Country’s Burn The Ships.

I had the fortune of seeing them headline The Roadshow tour last year. They had not released this album yet, but they did play track 2: “joy”. The upbeat salsa style mixed with enthusiasm the brothers Smallbone bring captured me from that performance.

I checked my Amazon Music account daily until it released. After it released I waited rather impatiently as the remainder of songs dropped one by one until they all became available for download.

Alone, each of them are amazing compositions of stirring music. Their true beauty lies in listening to the album as a whole. I have been a fan of the album as a mood journey since my discovery of Pink Floyd in high school.

Since that revelation, I have found very few albums achieve this formula from song to song. It is a true rarity to find an album that flows from song to song seamlessly, leading the listener on a journey that stirs the soul. This album took me on that journey, and oh what a journey it was!

From the excitement of “joy” to the valley of pain with a mixture of encouragement of “God Only Knows”, the first song lifted me up to plummet me into a valley with the second.

The third entry “Amen” brings back an upbeat tone, opting for a moving message of salvation. I envisioned a metamorphosis during this song, a butterfly coming from the cocoon spun in ‘God Only Knows’. Every rousing chorus of “Amen” makes me sing out loud with pure enjoyment.

Then the title track hits. A bit of gravity with the slower, more soulful chorus intro. The piano keys mixed with the opening line “How did we get here?” adds the weight necessary to capture my attention. This song has become my anthem for this year.

A reminder to get rid of the past, to let it fade. I’m not who I once was. While I should never forget my past, It is time to move forward and live this new life God has given me. The uplifting chorus once again raises my spirits, encouraging me to move forward.

Continuing the theme of starting new, “Fight On, Fighter” is another encouraging lyric that speaks to me. While I wouldn’t exactly use it as walk out music for a fight, it does move me to feel emboldened. After listening to this song, I’m ready to tackle the issues day to day life throws at me.

Another song moving you into a valley, “Need You More” is a reminder that our source of life comes from God. It is a reality check for me which brings me back to a sober look at why we need to turn back to God in the valleys and on the mountains. “Need You More” is an inspiration for me to spend more time in the Bible and more time in prayer with our Father.

“Control” echoes my feelings and thoughts when I begin to doubt the mission God has given me. “You asked me to let go, but I thought I knew better.” This opening line of the song summarizes my struggle with giving up control to God.

Then the chorus reinforces my need to give that very control up to Him. The song climaxes near the middle with a resolution that they will raise up their voice to sing, which is all they have left to bring. It reminds me that I may only be able to convey my thoughts by writing them out, but I resolve to do this for the glory of the One who made me.

The next song just makes me smile when I hear the “Hoo hoo” intro. “Never Give Up” is an uplifting, lighthearted song which reminds me a bit of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. It’s so catchy, I find myself singing it for a few days after listening to it.

That’s not a bad thing either, as the message of the song is to never give up, keep your head up. It is a breath of fresh air, and an encouragement to me as the album begins to draw to a close.

I imagine the song “Hold Her Tonight” was written with a wife in mind, as the songwriter is on the road. It is a moving piece which drips with the emotion of the writer. The moving music set against the powerful lyrics nearly moves me to tears. I envision having to leave my own wife and praying the lyrics of this song to God as I mourn the time away from her.

The final song, “Pioneers”, showcases the wives of Luke and Joel Smallbone. This song was written to encourage married couples to “carry on”, a message that too often falls on deaf ears. A message of true love, I find this final song a fitting end to the album.

It blends a hopeful tone with a cautious beat. It gives me a feeling of treading carefully through life with a vision and a desire to build something eternal, something that will stand the test of time with the one you love.

All in all, I love this album. As a fan of rock music, I really wanted to dislike for King & Country the first time I heard them. Their innovative lyrics and infectious energy won me over. This album has trumped their previous entries in my book though as it wasn’t just a few songs that hooked me, but the entire album.

If you haven’t heard it yet, I highly recommend that you take the time and give it a listen. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

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Priests Sent To Minister To A World In Desperate Need

Priests Set Apart by God

Priests were people set apart by God to guide and shepherd his people. One entire tribe of the 12 original tribes were tasked with this job. The Levites were descendants of Levi, one of the 10 sons of Jacob (the other two were Manasseh and Ephraim, sons of Joseph).

Read: Malachi 2:1-9

“And now, you priests, this warning is for you. If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the LORD Almighty,
“I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me.
“Because of you I will rebuke your descendants ; I will smear on your faces the dung from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it. And you will know that I have sent you this warning so that my covenant with Levi may continue,” says the LORD Almighty. 

God’s Covenant

“My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. 
“For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the LORD Almighty. 
“So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.”

No Inheritance For The Priests

The Levites were not granted land when God delivered the Israelites to the promised land. Instead, they were to tend the temple and ensure that God’s laws were kept. They were keepers of the law. In the reading, God rebukes the Levites because they have failed to keep His law. He sends them this warning so that He may keep His promise to the Levites. He tells them they have shown partiality in the law.

Jesus by His death has become the high priest for all mankind. He became the once for all sacrifice for our sins. If He is in us and we are in Him, and we are his followers, then we are priests under Him. We are to keep God’s law, and shepherd His people, and as prophets, spread His word.

Are You Fulfilling Your Priestly Duties?

Are you keeping His covenant? Have you kept His law, and are you spreading His word?

“For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth.” – Malachi 2:7

Judging Crime Fairly and Correctly Using Biblical Principles

Judging Crime Fairly and Correctly

Judging crime fairly and correctly has been sacrificed in today’s era. This is not merely a recent trend, however. Read Solomon’s warning in Proverbs 24:23-25

“These also are sayings of the wise: To show partiality in judging is not good: Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,” will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations. But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come on them.”

Media Affects Our Ability To Fairly Judge Crime

When a crime happens today, the news carries a handful of details almost immediately. We humans as part of our nature form an opinion based on our life experiences and usually assign guilt or innocence knowing only what we heard from a 30 second sound bite.

Know All of the Facts Before Making A Judgement

This is not sound biblical principle. What you hear is not nearly enough to form an opinion. This is why we have trials where loads of evidence is presented and rules are followed. A judge presides who officiates and keeps the process on track.

In biblical times, arbiters (judges were a different occupation) would go to the town walls and hear disputes before rendering a final and usually impartial decision.

How to Fairly and Correctly Judge Crime

If we are to reflect God’s justice, we should reserve judgement until all evidence is presented in a fair and impartial manner. If we cannot fairly judge, then judgement is reserved for God.

“Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.” – Deuteronomy 1:17

“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” – John 7:24

Jesus’ Prayer For Us – A Prayer of Blessing and A Purpose

Jesus’ Prayer – Blessing, Purpose, Protection

Jesus’ prayer for His followers was both a blessing and a mission. It was a prayer of purpose and one of protection. Read: John 17:1-26

“After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.

Jesus’ Prayer For Us

“I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you.

“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

Not of This World

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Prayer For Future Believers

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

We Belong to Christ

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

John Records Jesus’ Prayer

When Jesus spoke to the Father in His most intimate encounter, John recorded it in his Gospel. How fearful the disciples must have been when Jesus turned his focus from His requests for Himself to requests for His disciples.

Jesus says that as He delivered The Father’s message to His disciples, so he sends them into the world to continue his work.

Jesus then continues to pray a prayer of protection for all Christians, present and future.

Our Work Isn’t Finished

Our work continues to this day. We are to deliver God’s message of hope and salvation to a world doomed to destruction. Jesus has even prayed for us in this mission. Do you continue to fulfill the Great Commission, or have you considered your job finished in the matter?

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message…” John 17:20

Jesus Savior The World Needed – Not The Savior The World Wanted

Jesus Savior of Sinners and Tax Collectors Alike

Jesus savior of all people, from sinners to tax collectors, and even executioners, visits Jericho. He runs across Zacchaeus who was one of the least well thought of citizens.
Zacchaeus was a tax collector for Caesar. The profession was known for cheating people by overcharging taxes and keeping the extra for themselves. The citizens of Israel hated the tax collectors.
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter,
“He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord,
“Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Read: Luke 19:1-10

Jesus Comes to Save Jericho

When Jesus came to Jericho, he came to seek the lost. He found Zaccaeus, a jewish tax collector who worked for the Roman government. He cheated his fellow Jews out of money and kept any above what Caesar asked for.

Jesus asked Zaccaeus to come down from the sycamore tree he climbed, for he was to host Jesus. This confused many of the religious people of Jericho. They grumbled and asked why Jesus would go to the home of a sinner.

Zaccaeus Answers the Call of Jesus the Savior

Zaccaeus told Jesus he would give half of possessions to the poor and pay those he had cheated back 4 times as much.

Jesus explains that he did not come into the world to condemn the lost, but to save them.

Are we truly following Jesus’ Savior Methods?

How do we spend our time? Do we surround ourselves only with fellow believers? That is the natural thing to do, but God is supernatural. We should strive to seek the lost and share The Gospel with them. Whom will share Jesus with and allow Him to save?

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house.”
Luke 19:9

God’s Blessing to Jericho Through The Prophet Elisha

God’s Blessing Through Elisha

God cursed Jericho, but the faith of it’s new citizens provided God’s blessing through the prophet Elisha.

The people of the city said to Elisha, “Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.” 

Jericho’s Citizens Obey Elisha

“Bring me a new bowl,” he said, “and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 
Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the LORD says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’ ” 

God Rewards The Faith of Jericho’s Citizens

And the water has remained pure to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken.” – 2 Kings 2:19-22

After God led Joshua to destroy Jericho, He promised a curse on any who dared to rebuild it. About 550 years later, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt it losing two sons in the process. The water source near Jericho poisoned its new citizens.

When Elisha visited, the citizens of Jericho called to him, asking for his blessing. Elisha asked for a bowl of salt. Once Elisha delivers God’s Blessing on the bowl of salt, he tosses it into the water, purifying it.

If Elisha had not returned to Jericho, God may have never blessed the town with safe drinking water. If the citizens of Jericho had not asked for the blessing, it may not have happened either.

God’s blessing required both the faith of the citizens of Jericho and that of the prophet Elisha to clean the water for the town.

The Prophet’s Role in God’s Blessing

Prophets are bridges between man and God, delivering God’s blessing. If we are now prophets in the Great Commission, what is our role in bridging the gap for our fellow men? How are we a blessing for them?

“This is what the LORD says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’” – 2 Kings 2:21

Prophet Priest – Two Roles Jesus Filled While On Earth

Prophet priest – Jesus Filled These Roles While On Earth

Prophet, priest, and king. The first two of these roles are ones we should probably emulate while we are on earth. Read: Mark 1:21-28

When Jesus went to the temple to teach, many today miss the significance. Jesus was merely a child the first time, and a carpenter by the time this passage takes place. According to tradition, only priests anointed by God could prophesy in the temple.

Jesus Assumes His Role

Yet, when Jesus did this, He did it with the full authority of God even driving out an impure spirit from a man there. Jesus spoke and healed with authority, so people listened to what he has to say. The prophet and priest embodied within a simple carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth.

When confronted with people who act as though they have authority in spiritual matters, it is our duty to speak God’s word about His plans. We are to give His message, and do His work. Others may have authority in earthly matters, but do not keep silent for their sake. Instead we should speak for the One who has true authority over Earth and Heaven.

It is ultimately the job of the Christian to take on the roles of prophet and priest. Jesus’ last message on earth, The Great Commission, commands Christians to go and make disciples of all the earth.

Boldly Fulfilling Our Role as Prophet-Priest

Can we be so bold as to start a spiritual revolution by sharing God’s message with authority? Will we fulfill our roles as prophets and priests? Do we dare choose to truly emulate Christ on Earth?

“The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” —Mark 1:22

Prophet’s Role – Boldly Proclaiming God’s Message To The World

The Prophet’s Role – What is it?

The prophet’s role is boldly proclaiming God’s message to the world. Consider 2 Kings 2:15-18

Elisha and Elijah

Elijah was Elisha’s mentor. When God was ready to take Elijah up to heaven, he directed him to go to Bethel, so Elijah told Elisha to stay behind, but Elisha insisted on going.

Once they got to Bethel, the prophets told Elisha that Elijah was being called to heaven, and Elisha told them he knew. Then Elijah was called to go to Jericho. Again Elijah instructed Elisha to stay, but Elisha refused, so they went to Jericho.

At Jericho, once again prophets told Elisha that God would take Elijah from him that day. He said he knew. Then Elijah told Elisha he would go to Jordan and instructed him to stay. Elisha told him where Elijah went, he would go.

Elisha’s Inheritance

After crossing the Jordan, Elijah asked Elisha what he could do for him before leaving the earth. Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elijah said if Elisha saw God take him up to heaven, it would be his.

Then Elisha watched as Elijah was caught up in a whirlwind to Heaven. He then returned to Jericho.

Elisha Becomes God’s Prophet

When the prophets from Jericho couldn’t find Elijah, they wanted to go look for him. Elisha told them there was no point.

They pushed Elisha until he relented and told them to go. They searched everywhere, then returned to report they couldn’t find him.

Elisha told them “Didn’t I tell you not to go?” He wasn’t taunting them, but exercising authority and confidence that he carried the message of God.

Christians – Modern Day Prophets

We as Christians should also proclaim God’s word, not in anger or out of some self righteous spirit. We should do it with the full confidence and authority of the great I AM. God is where we draw authority, and there is no higher authority.

Be confident. Proclaim the Gospel. Share God’s word without fear of consequence.

They sent fifty men, who searched … but did not find [Elijah]. When they returned to Elisha … he said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?”
2 Kings 2:17-18

Defining Christians – How Can You Tell A Christian From A Non-Believer?

Defining Christians – What Does It Mean To Be A Christian?

Defining Christians can be a very tough thing to do with all of the seemingly conflicting definitions offered by society. The simplest definition of Christian is “christ like”. To know what that is, we need to understand who Christ is. Read: Mark 1:1-13

John baptized people in the Jordan river telling them he would baptize them in water to cleanse their sin, but when Christ would come, he would baptize them in the Holy Spirit, eternally cleansing their sins.

This commitment does not come without a cost, though. It comes with a series of new responsibilities which carry some pretty powerful titles:

Prophet – Priest – King

As John baptized Jesus, Heaven opened and a dove appeared, signaling God’s anointing of Jesus as a prophet, priest, and king.

Prophet

A prophet is defined as a person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God. They are thought to convey messages from God. The message they deliver is called a prophesy.

Notable prophets in the Bible are: Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Elijah, Elisha, Isaac, and Samuel.

The prophets in the Bible were used by God to deliver his messages to his people. Sometimes they carried messages of hope and deliverance. Often, though, they carried messages of warning and destruction. Prophets were rarely well thought of and often lived in seclusion.

Priest

A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform sacred rituals, and is a mediatory agent between humans and God. Priests guide and mentor the people they take charge of. They also lead and teach them.

Priests have a higher standard of ethical and moral code placed on them. While still human, they are to live a life free from sin, modeling how to follow Jesus’ commands, and calling others to God’s message of hope and redemption.

King

A king is the male monarch (ruler) over a group of people. Kings provide protection and lead the nation. They are sought for their judgement in certain matters, and are looked to for knowledge and wisdom. Their decisions impact their nation and nations around them.

Good kings lead by keeping the best interests of the people in their nation at heart. They think about the impact to their nation, and the nations around them for every decision they make.

Kings also provide protection, building for themselves armies, walls, and defensive measures to protect his people.

God called Jesus to all of these roles. If we are to be “christ-like”, we must also assume these three roles.

Jesus then said in his ministry that Christians should be the hands and feet of Christ. God calls us to the roles of Jesus’ anointing, also, we are to tell God’s plans to the world. Finally, our calling to guide and council those we come into contact with is paramount. We are to rule over resources and people God may send our way to work for His purpose.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

As a true follower of Christ, you will take on these three roles throughout your life. I can offer you this warning, be sure in all decisions you are in His will. Working toward your will and not His is grossly mishandling His power, as a result, you will hurt others. In everything, give God the credit and acknowledge his role in your life.

Remember that the world is watching you. God does forgive your sin, but the world often will not. Do not damage your witness by letting your actions be about you and not about God.

“As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove” – Mark 1:10