Tuesday, September 18, 2007
What a lovely discovery! I had never heard of Joshua Williams, who wrote and composed the 12 songs on this CD, but his web site says this is his third release. I’ll have to look into the others.
I had reservations initially when I saw the title of the first song -- “Loser for Jesus.” The negativity of the word loser paired with Jesus made me think of that derogatory term from the late 70s, Jesus freak. One listen, though, and I was hooked, as well as dancing and singing along to this country/rock composition. The words make it clear just what kind of loser Williams is talking about: “’Cause I’m a loser for Jesus Christ/I’ve given my all; yes I’m learning to die/I’m a loser for Jesus Christ/I’m ready to lose my life.”
It’s a lively start to a CD that offers a variety of styles. The title track, “Confession,” is a gentle change, with its simple guitar arrangements of Samuel Medley’s 1785 words of contrition and reliance on God’s love and forgiveness to give eternal life.
I also like “Rock of My Salvation” with its catchy folk/rock melody, and the upbeat “This is My God,” which makes my heart soar. The variety continues with “Song Five” and the comforting and beautiful voice of his wife, Kerry Williams, singing the joyful words of the Song of Songs.
In the boldest offering, “Luke 14:26,” Williams is courageous enough to tackle one the most difficult passages in the gospels, Jesus’ tough statement about the need to hate those who are closest to us. I know clergy who avoid this lesson by preaching on the Epistle on the Sunday it appears. But following Jesus isn’t just about joy and praise, it has its challenges as well. Once again with the simplicity of guitar, Williams sings about seeing Jesus perform miracles, feed the hungry, forgive the sinner, and then the shocking part: “But today He did something that/I’ve never seen before/He turned to the largest crowd and said aloud,/ ‘This is from the Lord’/He said you have to hate your father,/and hate your mother/I don’t understand, I can’t comprehend,/. . . I don’t want to know, this can’t be so,/do I really have to die to my life?”
Then he recounts other marvels he has witnessed in following Jesus, including the clincher of them all: “But today He did something that/I’ve never seen before/He gave His life and was crucified,/I know now He is the Lord.” And he understands the context of Jesus’ words, that “this is what love is for. . . I will come to know, ‘cause He told me so,/what it means to die to my life.”
That’s rigorous theology to put over in a song, but Williams doesn’t soft-pedal it, and he reminds us of the daily task we have of putting aside this life for the purpose of advancing God’s kingdom.
I can imagine this CD being a big hit with Christian youth groups, in religious education, on retreats and in church services, but it’s also a good listen everyday for anyone on the journey of faith. You can hear selections at Williams’ web site, www.newdayministry.org, and you can order a copy from www.winepressbooks.com. I highly recommend it.