Church Songs: Build Your Kingdom Here

This is one that was submitted some ago and had some very interesting questions with it. Rend Collective made this song super-popular when I was in college and it was a huge hit for small, Christian-hipster churches. I personally love the song. It’s the perfect song for a jam session with other instrumentalists and singers. So, how does it fare on Logan’s church music scale?

For starters, we need to consider the title. “Here” can be an ambiguous word, especially in the song. The verses indicate that the prayer is for God to build His kingdom in the hearts of His people (the church). But the chorus has references to “land,” “streets,” and “nation,” which might lead a listener to believe that the prayer is for God to build His kingdom on our physical earth. A direct quote from the chorus says “Set Your church on fire / win this nation back.” So what do we do with that? Is that a biblical concept? Is that even the intent of the song? Is this perpetuating the dominionism/kingdom-now theology? Furthermore, should we filter out every song that feeds the theology? Should we remove any song written by potentially heretical churches such as Bethel?

I did a little research on this one and discovered that someone else did exactly what I’m doing now when preparing to introduce the song to his church in 2015. He spoke very positively of the song and referenced several teachings of Jesus from the gospels.

“The song is filled with expressions from Jesus’ teaching and parables about the kingdom of God. The chorus itself is derived from the Lord’s Prayer, in which Jesus taught the disciples to pray, ‘Let your kingdom come, let your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’ (Matt. 6:10, ESV). Verse two takes Jesus’ command in Matthew 6:33 (‘Seek first the kingdom of God’) and turns it into a declaration of faith (‘we seek your kingdom first’).”

James Cheesman, FBC Farmersville, Texas

After reading Cheesman’s full blog on the song, I’m definitely more accepting of the song. It’s also congregationally friendly and so much fun to sing. It’s been around for some time, but still has the capacity to get a group singing.

Wins & Losses (September 12-18)

Wins

  • Last Saturday & Sunday called for an overnight trip to Valdosta where we visited with our dear friends, the Washburns. We spent the day watching football and eating good food before we got up the next day to lead worship for their 25th+1 anniversary homecoming day. It was fun to team up with the wife again to lead musical worship and that congregation SANG! It’s always so reassuring for a worship leader when the congregation responds by singing so well and they certainly did. The warm reception we got was a blessing as well.
  • The week was actually rather uneventful, which turned out to be a blessing. As much as I like to stay busy and active, we certainly needed some free evenings to rest and recuperate.

Losses

  • Saturday started out fine, but by lunchtime, I could tell something was wrong. I had no appetite, was nauseous, and had a splitting headache. I laid down to rest, but could not get comfortable. After getting sick around 4, I thought I was better, but still could not get comfortable and still had the headache. I didn’t eat a thing and was pitiful the rest of the night and most of Sunday morning. I don’t get sick often, but when I do, it’s an ordeal.

WINS & LOSSES (SEPTEMBER 4-11)

Wins

  • Labor Day weekend was spent on the football field and in North Alabama. After a great home opener at JMA, we packed up and headed north to Mimi’s house. WE loved seeing some extended family for a few days. Lots of cards were played as well as plenty of outside time thanks to the beautiful Alabama weather. Going to Mimi’s is always a treat and we were glad to get a couple of days there this month.
  • As we approached the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, I was glad to see so many acts of patriotism and appreciation towards first responders. I was able to share with 5th graders what it was like to be their age when the terrorist attacks happened. After I talked with them, we placed around 200 American flags in the front yard of JMA. On Friday night, JMA granted free admission to all first responders and had AirEvac deliver that night’s game ball via helicopter. It was the neatest thing. May we never forget how devastating 9/11 was not just for our country, but for the world.

Losses

  • When I woke up on Thursday, I was not expecting to be a teacher. Yet, it takes a village. I was a 4th grade teacher in the morning and an art teacher in the afternoon. Having not taught elementary school since student teaching days, I was quite a bit out of practice. Don’t get me wrong; the kids were great. But man, the sheer “What the heck am I supposed to do?” set in real fast and I was petrified. In the process, I managed to convince a 4th grader that I was 65 years old. If my boss doesn’t want me to sub in 4th grade again, I’ll certainly understand! I lived to tell about it and hopefully will do better next time!

Wins & Losses (August 22-September 4)

Getting settled in at the new job has been quite the adventure. So much so that my blogging has suffered from it! So, here’s a look back at the weeks that were…

Wins

  • I pulled off my first large event at JMA last weekend and had a ball doing it! We held our new families tailgate party and I was IN MY ELEMENT. I attended the event 2 years ago as a new family when Becca came on staff, so I had a great idea of what needed to happen. Planning the event, publicizing it, and then pulling it off without a hiccup was perfect for my extroverted, Enneagram 3 self. I loved interacting with all the attendees and watching them enjoy themselves. This tied in with our first home game at JMA. We loved taking our kids and watching them have fun at the game. R got a special treat and stayed with me til mid-3rd quarter before she passed out in the truck on the way home. I can’t wait for my next task!
  • Grad school classes have resumed. I only have one class this trimester, which is probably for the best. It’s a little odd continuing my master’s in church music while not working directly with music at the same time. However, I think it’s good to be investing my musical abilities since I am not participating in music on the daily. I’m looking forward to the new books (one that I’d already bought ahead of time!) and online discussions.
  • College football has begun! I loved watching a nearly full Neyland Stadium and the running through the T on Thursday night as Tennessee took on Bowling Green State. It was a great game and Tennessee looked pretty good. I loved how quickly Coach Heupel runs plays. He don’t leave a lot of time in between offensive plays and I think Tennessee will benefit from it. Let’s hope for a great season!

Losses

  • For the first time in 6 years, Becca and I are searching for a church home where we can simply receive the Word and minister together with other believers. It’s the first time in 5 years I won’t be on staff at our church home. And as much as I criticize people who “shop” for churches that meet their criteria of good music/children’s programs/youth programs and the like, I’ll admit that fighting that type of consumer mindset was a tough battle. More than once, I found myself categorizing churches by what they offered other than solid preaching of the Word. Either way, find a new body of believers with which to join fellowship is not something I’ve done in a while and a task I certainly did not expect to be this complex.
  • Much to my chagrin, our original house contract fell through. I’m still bitter about it and hoping the Lord uses this as a sanctification process for me. I tend to get tunnel-vision about things like this, so it took a lot of persuading for me to pull the plug on the contract. We’re back to square one on the househunting front and hope to find something very soon.

Wins & Losses (August 15-21)

Wins

  • After three successful open houses and a thorough week of inservice, all the Brasher kids started school for the fall semester! G was a little hesitant at first with his new school environment, but the pancakes waiting for him when he arrived quickly dispelled any holdings back. The girls are loving their new classes and I’m so grateful R is with many of her friends from last year. She is wiped out at the end of every day, keeping her tradition alive from last year. K seems to be doing well (she hasn’t told me otherwise!).
  • Becca and I are settling in well to our new jobs. Her classroom looks FANTASTIC and a student told her that she had “the cutest room in the high school.” I’m doing my best to learn names of the elementary kids and having a blast planning events. As an Enneagram 3, I thrive in a good task with attainable benchmarks culminating in a successful event, so I am really looking forward to my first one in September. And we’re both celebrating that jeans are considered professional attire (with limits, of course)!
  • After a diligent search, we FINALLY signed a contract on a house! Providentially, it was the house I wanted and will provide so much more space to breathe for our family. Our dog will certainly love the yard space and I’m giddy about the shorter commute to work for Becca and I. We close at the end of September and it cannot get here fast enough!

Losses

  • Though each kid started school well, our girls developed a fever and stomach bug and missed the second day. Thankfully, it was only a 24-hour issue and they were fine by Saturday. However, lethargy was ever-present in our house while they were home. I once had someone tell me that there are few things worse than having sick kids and she was absolutely right. Rarely do I want to trade places with someone in worse condition that me. But if I could have taken on their sickness so they wouldn’t have to, I would have done it immediately. And I took on some with a sinus infection and swollen eyes, but managed to recover after the weekend.

Wins & Losses (August 1-7)

Wins

  • Last Sunday, Becca and I got to fill in as worship leaders for Wesleyan Drive Baptist Church in Macon. It was a joy to team up and lead in music for this small and loving congregation. They were so kind to us and receptive to a few new things they hadn’t experienced before. Will Washburn, their current worship leader, is a good friend and we were delighted to worship with the congregation this past Sunday.
  • I started the new job this past week working half-days in the office. There is certainly no shortage of things to be done, but I’m enjoying having no down time. Anyone who knows me knows I am a go-getter and a doer. Down time is prime feeding ground for mediocrity and laziness. The faculty and staff have been so kind to me as I’ve started the new job and I’m looking forward to a great year. Perhaps the highlight of the new job is the therapy dog on campus every day!
  • One last weekend before school gave us one last opportunity for a weekend beach trip. Of all the reason to like living in Georgia, being less than 3.5 hours from a beach is high on the list. After our wonderful first visit to St. Simon’s Island two years ago, we decided to go again and bring our kids with us. Though there was rain forecasted for the afternoon on our first day, we did manage to get about 3 hours of beach time before it began to move in. They loved playing in the water, digging in the sand, and panning for cool seashells. We even found a tiny hermit crab! I got my once-a-year crab leg meal at Iguana’s (the BEST seafood on the island!) and the trip was even more enjoyable thanks to the help of our dear friend, Lillian, who provided extra sets of eyes and hands for our rambunctious children. She FULLY embraced the crazy even on the way home. I’ve always said I wouldn’t mind living by the ocean and Saint Simon’s Island would be the first place I’d go. Can’t wait to go back!

Losses

  • Before we could go on that beach trip, Grant decided he wanted to check in with the doctor. He had an unfortunate run-in with Reagan’s bed frame that cut him pretty deep right near his eye. We are thankful that he did not need stitches, but that didn’t keep him from developing a shiner on his right eye. I keep telling folks that he got into a bar fight, just not a bar with beverages. Once it scabbed up, it was fine. However, he did not want ANYONE touching his face around that area.

Wins & Losses July 25-July 31

Wins

  • After years of waiting and wanting, I was finally able to purchase an autoharp. I was introduced to one of these when I was student-teaching with Lisa Hay in Jackson. She used hers often with her elementary students and I fell in love with it. I had my eye on one for months and, with some birthday money, was able to purchase a beautiful, blue Oscar Schmidt autoharp with bag and picks. I’ve been playing it almost every day, sometimes to the frustration of wife who would rather fold a load of laundry or some other boring (yet necessary) task. I’m excited to keep learning on it and hopefully, prepare myself for playing guitar in the future.
  • A trip to the library with my girls gave me a chance to browse the non-fiction section to add to my current reading list. Though I’m deep into The Fellowship of the Ring, I definitely needed some of my preferred non-fiction to balance things out. I found the biography section and picked up a copy of Living History by Hillary Clinton. This is one she wrote about halfway through her first term in the U.S. Senate. It gives brief chronicles of her family, college & law school days, and her time as First Lady of Arkansas and FLOTUS. I’m nearly halfway through it now, and very much enjoying getting a closer look into perhaps the most well-known woman in the United States.

Losses

  • Finding a house is so difficult these days. Now that jobs and school have shifted for all 5 of us, we’re doing the best we can to find something to cut our drive time in half. Several homes have caught our attention, but nothing is working out perfectly yet. Buying and selling a house is stressful to me, so I’m always hesitant to jump on an opportunity. Our goal is to be in a new place by Christmas, but who knows when this insane housing market will calm down?

Wins & Losses (July 18-24)

Wins

  • This summer has been the summer of grandparents. We weren’t expecting to see them so much, but we certainly aren’t fussing about it! My folks were down for the weekend and went to church with us (well, Mom did because Daddy is that preacher man) on our last Sunday at FBCG and then my MIL and her mother came for a few days to help me out while Becca did some work stuff. BTW, Bec is now a certified AP Literature teacher! Our kids loved seeing all their grandparents this summer and we loved any chance for them to hang out with them. We have some good ‘rents, that’s for sure.
  • IT’S OLYMPIC TIME. I absolutely love the Olympic Games every two years. I’ve always preferred the Winter Games, but the Summer Games are just as fun. The opening ceremonies were certainly different without the full crowd, but I am a sucker for the pageantry. We’ve watched swimming, cycling, basketball, diving, and gymnastics so far. I am so excited for this world-wide event even still in the midst of a pandemic!
  • After watching several episodes with many days in between, I was convinced that Becca and I had to watch Madam Secretary together. I remember seeing it advertised on CBS when we lived in Tennessee, but I never tuned in to watch just because our schedules didn’t permit it. However, we are halfway through the first season and LOVING IT. It has that The West Wing vibe, except for the lack of zingers found in TWW. Téa Leoni does a marvelous job portraying the lead role and I’ve fallen in love with the show. I’m really looking forward to the other seasons.

Losses

  • July 18th was our last Sunday at FBCG. Unfortunately, many of our closest friends were out of town, and we certainly missed them. But the musicians and friends that were there helped create some incredible music for our last time playing together. Leaving a ministry is always bittersweet and this one was certainly no different.
  • THESE. CHIRREN. NEED. TO. GO. BACK. TO. SCHOOL. That is all.

Church Songs: “Battle Belongs”

Several months ago, when I was still on staff at FBC Gray, I had a young lady tell me that the next time she sang, she’d like to sing a song called “Battle Belongs” by Phil Wickham. I hadn’t heard the song yet, but always listen to them when they are suggested to me. So I pulled it up the next work day and gave it a listen. I’m usually pretty good about giving a song a thumbs-up or thumbs-down after one verse. And had I stopped this song after the first verse, I might have shoved it aside. But I kept listening and read the lyrics as I listened (it helps me to internalize it more concretely).

And the more I listened, the more I loved it. I’m usually not a huge fan of worship songs with a lot of first-person pronouns, but this one was presented differently than most. Though many first-person pronouns are used, they identify where humans fall short and God shines through. It’s a great song depicting humans as incapable of fighting the battles the world wages and instead, turning to God who is the ultimate Victor. The song is very catchy and in a decent range for the untrained voice, making it congregationally-friendly. It’s definitely more suited for churches with a praise band, so if you’ve got one of those at your church, seriously consider programming “Battle Belongs” in the near future!

Wins & Losses (July 11-17)

Wins

  • Allow me to express how much I love discount shoe stores. Shoes have gotten so expensive these days that when I go shopping for them, I am looking diligently for a bargain. The town across the river from my hometown has for a long time been the home of a discount shoe store called K & T Shoes. I’m not sure who K & T are, but they have done well over the years. Becca and I try to make a visit there anytime we’re with my folks, and the most recent time certainly didn’t disappoint. We were able to get 5 pairs of name-brand shoes for about $140. Considering that a typical pair of decent shoes these days cost $60 or more, I was absolutely thrilled to find the bargains we found.
  • My birthday this year was certainly one to remember, but not for the reasons you’d think! We had nothing planned at first, but at lunch decided to make a spontaneous trip to Atlanta to go tour the Capitol. We piled in the car, drove to ATL, paid for parking…and left 30 minutes later because the Capitol was closed for the filming of a new TV show that will premiere this fall. It was a bummer, but we pivoted: we found a great hibachi place in Conyers (our kids LOVED it!), and then went to play Spades with our friends in Madison who were so sweet to buy my favorite pie, key lime, for dessert. Nothing went as planned, but I was around a lot of people that I love and for that, I’m grateful.

Losses

– Last Thursday, my Grampy took his last breath on earth and entered the presence of Jesus. I’ve been blessed to grow up with many grandparents and people who might as well have been grandparents. Grampy became a grandparent to me when he and Mimi babysat me as a baby and toddler for 4 years. He was a PHENOMENAL guitar player who, after becoming a Christian and leaving the honky-tonks behind, always used his gifts to serve the church. He led singing at his church for years and I loved getting to pick with him from time to time. He lived a solid 90 years and I’m a better person for knowing him.

– Leaving my job at FBCG meant I had to clean out of my office where our baby grand had been sitting for three years. Our duplex did not have room for it, so I had to find a place for it to go. Though I was rather sad to dismantle it and pack it into a trailer, I’m grateful for my parents’ church in Tennessee that will be babysitting it for the foreseeable future.