Stronger Than The Power Of Death.

If you don’t own John Mark McMillan’s “The Medicine”, your wallet is $8 too heavy.  You’re also missing out on a remarkable album of working man’s rock that sits squarely on the same shelf as Neil Young’s “Rust Never Sleeps” and everything that Bruce Springsteen has had the good fortune of not “over-saxophoning”.

The album has the added distinction of being profoundly powerful, achingly deep, and comprehensively honoring to God, as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. What’s rare about this combination is that while its focus is squarely on the supernatural workings of the heart of God with the heart of man it’s also refreshingly honest, free of cheerleading, and it’s never trite.

Generally speaking, I’ve found that most music utilizing the word “Christian” as an adjective is conceived of, and produced for, commercial reasons. While it’s true that people involved in the process do want God to be recognized as “amazing” or “awesome”, for their song to be recorded and heard they also have to fall in line with a system designed to sell an appealing package of physical beauty, accessible melody, and credible “spirituality”.

This industry functions much the same as the pop-country industry. It collects readily available, positively focused, spiritually themed songs and combines these with readily available, fresh-faced, earnest, entertainers.

Because they serve the commercial ends of efficiency and expedience, Industries rarely produce art.

John Mark McMillan is awkward and occasionally off-putting on stage. His thick beard and piercing eyes recall Keith Green… as he would have been had he grown up listening to Pearl Jam and Skynyrd. His band isn’t going to garner the affections of the Teen Girl Squad. I get the sense he doesn’t spend a lot of money on plaid shirts.

These are the kinds of people who produce art. They create artifice based on their experience. When the representation of their experience is done skillfully and honestly we don’t just get rewarded with something trendy, we are blessed to experience the creative drive that God placed in the heart of mankind.

The God who created us in his own image… as sub creators.

This is the same God who gave himself for us, he was broken and poured out as the final sacrifice for the sins of mankind on Good Friday nearly two millennia ago.   Mr. McMillan’s honest and skillful artifice, produced out of personal experiences with this Creator, has both quality and substance that go beyond affectation.

Good Friday isn’t good because God blessed us with an attractive package that appealed to our most generic desires while remaining inoffensive to our modest sensibilities. Good Friday is good because the off-putting, unattractive, bearded, and piercing Sacrifice of God Almighty was offered on our behalf… for the destruction of death and the redemption of mankind.

You make us sparkle and you make us shine,
Like the stars who sing on your chorus line,
Through space and time we’ll harmonize,
Where deep meets deep like the ocean meets the sky.

The sun and the moon,
They come out of their grave just for you,
The dead man and the cynical too,
They’re coming out of their grave,
And it’s just for you.

Cause the love of God is stronger,
The Love of God is stronger,
The Love of God is stronger,
Than the power of death.

From “Dress Us Up”- John Mark McMillan

7 Responses to “Stronger Than The Power Of Death.”

  1. Charley Blom April 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    Jon
    you are always challenging me. I love the suggestion you made last year about the book The Divine Commodity. and now i suppose i will go into a new area of music.
    thanks
    Charley
    by the way, the most important way, have a Blessed Spirit Filled Easter.

    • Jon April 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words, Janelle send her love and best wishes to you and Bev!

  2. Jeff Patterson April 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Such good and heavy words. Earlier this week JMM shared a line-by-line commentary on “Death In His Grave.”

    • Jon April 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

      Death In His Grave is so money. Great message last night Jeff!

  3. Casey Dugan April 23, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    John- you spoke my mind on the concept of the contemporary music that surrounds God. Often McDonalds-esque. I generally avoid it and am glad to be turned on to a new sound and artist who creates.

    • Jon April 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

      Thanks for posting, It’s great to find like minds!

  4. Casey Dugan April 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    Jeff – thank you for that link. I really appreciated what he had to say.

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