Tuesday, February 5, 2008

How Great is Our God

Maybe you expected it; I didn't. For me, the Chris Tomlin shows were as good as a revival service (real, transformative revival, not blubbering blasts of hot air). I stood in the back of the Manatee Convention Center with my two sons and lifted my voice and hands as high as they could go, which for a middle-aged Presbyterian isn't far. But that doesn't matter: it was enough to embarass my sons and help me connect with God in genuine worship that humbled my heart before a holy God.

Tomlin's songs have even more weight in concert than in recordings. I suspect Chris's passion to share his songs with the church, along with the intentional "vertical" focus of the event have something to do with the potency of the experience. But there is more. I maintain that the power and efficacy of Chris Tomlin's music is directly related to its theological underpinnings.

Today in our Joy FM staff meeting, we watched a DVD of Louie Giglio speaking in Atlanta in the How Great is Our God tour. His message was not just exciting because of the passion of his delivery, not just compelling by the detail of the macroscopic and microscopic scientific detail he uses to illustrate the greatness of God. Louie's words resonate the voices of dead giants, like Spurgeon, Watts, Augustine, Paul and thus the voice of God Himself (if not the Vox Dei, at least the Verbum Dei for those who miss the Latin!). In other words, with the precision of a surgeon, Louie Giglio cut away the thin, weak, dependent, indulgent god of American evangelicalism and in that idol's place enthroned the Most High God, Starbreather and Sinbearer. The message theme was tuned to Psalm 33, with Psalm 139, Isaiah 40 and Colossians 1 harmonizing:

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Colossians 1:17-20

This is what I call "Big-God theology." It's sadly lacking in the experience of most contemporary Christians. For us, when the message ended the entire room was speechless. Words are flimsy against a weight they cannot hold: so the greatness of our God over against our infinitesimal humanity. We eventually groped to pray, and our prayer was very Christ-centered. It had to be. Our only hope before an immense and holy God is His own salvation, given in Christ, received and stood-upon in faith by those who claim his Name. He holds together our frail frame (literally - watch the DVD) and keeps us from disintegrating before His Father, who is superlative in holiness (Isaiah 6).

All I'm trying to say is that THIS is the theology behind songs like "Indescribable," "How Great is Our God," "His Grace is Enough," and "God of This City." And this theological undercurrent provides streams of inspiration for Chris Tomlin's songs.

Even though our time with Chris behind the microphone was a blast (click to listen), he may be the one artist with whom I have personally connected more on stage than in person. That's because we are both (we, the audience and the artist) connecting with One whose presence engulfs us and circumscribes our experience, shifting our perspective and potentially changing us from the inside out.


S Himes said...

Bill your blogs always give me something meaty to chew on and I'm thankful that you can bring things back to a more sensible and understandable level.

Dave Cruse said...

Hey Bill,

I haven't actually read the blog, I'm sure it's great. The pictures are lovely. I promise I'll read the blog later, but I just want to make sure someone has left you a comment. Now, will you okease stop whinning!

Poor, White Radio Producer said...

Hi Bill ... i created an account just to post a comment ... so uh ... yeah .. ill see you in a minute

Bill Martin's Personal Ramblings said...


okease, I;ll stpo whinning.

Dave Cruse said...

Ok, so I know there is a typo in my comment. It should say "will you PLease stop WHINING.

Now you have another comment!

mrbd4 said...

I know they are teasing you, but you really do give us something to think about. Thank you for the example that you set for us.

powrmom927 said...

I love your sincerity especially in this blog. You are a positive role model. I had a wonderful dad growing up but he was not spiritual at all. I'm glad your children have a dad that can show them the way to worship and follow God's word.

Deb said...


I enjoyed your blog. I haven't heard big thoughts like that since college. Thanks for making me think and thanks for letting God out of the box.


Unknown said...

I was "fortunate" enough to be stuck in traffic on 75 this morning and heard Carmen and Bill's comments about your blog. So I had to oblige. I am a Chris Tomlin fan and a huge Louie Giglio fan since '97 when Louie had a Tuesday singles ministry in Atlanta called 722. Bill you are right about Louie's passion. FYI, his Canvas and 268 series are great also. Thank you for eloquently pointing out how awesome our Lord and Savior is. I had to give my Christ Tomlin tickets away due to a last minute family obligation so it is great to get a small glimpse of what I missed.

Josh Lauritch said...

i too love this blog. it is one of the most fantastic blogs on the entire internet. Okease continue your ramblings Mr. Martin!

Susan Nations said...

Like you, I was not expecting what Chris Tomlin (really it was God) delivered the other night. It was an amazing time of worship for me and those who were with me. And it was an important reminder about just how BIG and GREAT our God really IS!


Donika said...

Bill, I tried to leave you this comment earlier today, but I couldn’t remember my user name and password. I was at work and I didn’t have that information with me. So I had to wait till I got home to leave you a comment. I wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading your blogs and thanks for taking the time to share with all of us. It sounds like God's presence was there during the Chris Tomlin's concerts this past weekend! That is just So Awesome!!



christianwhosenameisamy said...

I'm interested in this video. I heard one of the other DJ's talking about it briefly saying it should be required for humanity to watch. Is it really that good? I have to admit this is my first time to your blog, but I do listen to you three every morning on my long drive to work. Thanks for uplifting me with your work. :)

Bill Martin's Personal Ramblings said...


DJs, as you may know, are sometimes given to hyperbole and other forms of gross exaggeration. I try to avoid that excess, of course.

Having said that, I would answer yes, the Louie Giglio may be the best single Gospel message delivered since the first century and if you don't buy it world evangelization could be in jeopardy.

Yeah, I guess it's pretty good ;-)

jh said...

Great Blog, Yes his music is awesome! "How great is our God" is very uplifting music. When you hear it and sing it you just feel the Holy Spirit all around you. We all need to remember how Great our God really is. Thanks for sharing.

DawnGWTW said...

What did we sing in church before Chris Tomlin came along? We sang 3 of his songs just this morning alone! His concert was just awesome and I am still not ready to come down from that Holy Place he led us to. Fortunately, we only had to wait 3 days before we got some new music on the Passion: God Of This City CD. The interviews with him were great! I can't wait to see him again at Night of Joy in September. Can I get in on the 5AM soundcheck?

Dawn at Dr. Lawson's

P.S. The new specs look great in the pics!

Unknown said...

Hi Bill!

I think your blog is just wonderful!

Blessings...Karen :)

Unknown said...

Hi Bill:

Just thought I'd stop by and boost your number of views!

Happy Blogging...

Karen :)