Story Behind the Music: Scars by TobyMac

Video Credits: “Scars” by TobyMac

TobyMac just released his album The Elements last month. I highly recommend checking it out – every song is unique stylistically, but the album has an EDM feel of sorts.

Maybe you’ve heard “Scars” on Resound Radio and wondered what it’s about?

In a YouTube video, TobyMac says,

“The people I love the most are going out facing the pain, the struggle, and the temptation of this crazy world. I’m very aware of the scars that come with life’s journey. But sometimes we insulate those things from the ones we love.”

He goes on to say, “I wrote this one for my boy. I wanted to let him know that I’m here for him and that and that God is there for him. So lift your head up, my son, to where your help comes from.”

I’ll admit it. I’m a huge TobyMac fan and I probably have Internet-stalked him way too much. His oldest son is twenty and in college. It’s so easy to relate to the message of this song as a fellow college student.

Transitioning from being a “kid” to an “adult” is definitely a journey. College comes with more independence and life becomes so much different than what you’ve previously known.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed about change. Am I really following God’s path? Is this the right major/career to pursue? What if God calls me completely away from the place I’ve known for years?

And along the way, mistakes are going to happen. I showed up to a professor’s house for a party a week early! I completely misread the date. While it was super embarrassing at the time, I learned an important lesson from it.

Now I triple-check dates to make sure I’m at the right place at the right time.

Maybe you’ve made some mistakes along the way too.  Maybe some have left scars. But you don’t have to dwell in guilt or shame.

I absolutely love the chorus of this song:

You are not alone
We’ve all been there
Scars come with livin’
You are not alone
We’ve all been there (been there, been there, oh), oh
So lift your head, lift your head
Lift your head to where your help comes from
Yeah, you, you’re not alone
We’ve all been there
Scars come with livin’

Psalm 121:1-2 (ESV) says,

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lordwho made heaven and earth.”

Even though change in life can be intimidating, it’s so comforting to know that we don’t have to go through anything alone.

This world may leave scars. But God promises to never leave or forsake us. No matter where we go or how badly we mess up, He’s there.

What’s your favorite line from Scars? What verse helps you the most when you’re feeling overwhelmed or lonely?

Resting in the Promises of God

 

One of my favorite artists today is Jon McLaughlin. Most people know him for his biggest single, “Beautiful Disaster” and other people know him as the ballroom singer from the movie Enchanted. But one song I would like to talk about today is his song, “Oh Jesus”.

Listen to the song below before you continue to read the rest of the blog:

 

If you could talk to Jesus face to face, what questions would you ask him?

When I first listened to this, I didn’t exactly understand his purpose of writing this song. It just seemed to me like a one-sided conversation with Jesus. I had to listen to this a few more times to finally get a feel for the song. Jon McLaughlin did an interview a few years back, and the interviewer asked what prompted him to record this song. He replied by saying, “It was a culmination of a bunch of general feelings…how things work, why are there huge tragedies in the world and these small victories. We choose credit for some things, but not other things…There are no answers in the song. It’s just me talking to Jesus about all these thoughts” (Ellen Hawkins, “Interview with Jon McLaughlin”, Relatemag.com).

I would love to analyze the whole song with you, but for now, I want to focus on these questions that Jon asks Jesus:

Can you hear me? How am I doing? Am I proving worth of all the time you’ve spent? Have you decided where I am going?

Have you seen the news? Tell me do we help, or do we hurt?

 

Which questions above have you asked Jesus or have thought about any of these? Have you ever asked for reassurance about yourself? Or about how our nation is doing, and whether are future is still bright?

Whenever I make a big decision, I am in desperate need of reassurance from God, so I know I made the right choice. Or when I go through emotionally draining weeks, I sometimes wonder if I am living my life the way that I should. Am I alone in this, or do you feel the same way?

Jon may have said that there were no answers in his song, but the Book of Hebrews gives us an answer, a reminder of God’s Certainty of His Promises:

 

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek”  (Hebrews 6: 13-20).

 

Just as God fulfilled his promises with Abraham, He will fulfill his promises with us also. God gives us this incredible hope that we can hold on to. It is God’s faithfulness that prompts us to continue to cling on to Him, therefore, our trust should be in God Himself, and not in our own efforts or works. This hope prevents us from drifting away from God as long as we continue to trust Him, hence why the author compares hope as an ‘anchor’. God’s promises are the foundation of our hope that can give us assurance that helps us persevere in times of trials. Since God’s covenant with Abraham is fulfilled in Christ, then this should be our basis for our faith; therefore, rejecting Jesus is rejecting faith.

 

So how can we count on God’s promises? Easy, because He can be trusted. His fulfillment of promises is written throughout Scripture. God’s promises are true and they are certain. These promises will support us in times of struggle. God and His promises are what we should only count on. Not ourselves, not on our works, not our relationships, but God Himself and Who He is. Because He is the only one who will always keep his promises. The difficult part is letting Him in our lives and letting Him have control of it.

 

So when you face uncertainty, rest in the promises of God. He hears your prayers and your thoughts, but God is working in you. But you need to give Him your trust. Now the question is turned to you: Are you going to trust God? Or will you continue to drown yourself in fear and uncertainty?

 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43: 2).

I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Isaiah 46:4).

Don’t Let Doubts Defeat You

It’s that time of year we have all been dreading: midterms. Midterms and other exams can really be draining, especially when it comes to your hardest classes. So this week, I thought I could bring some encouragement for when our work load becomes more than what we can handle.

There is a saying that goes around: “God won’t give you more than you can handle”. Is this a true statement? If we look at 1 Corithians 10:13,

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

Is this what Paul is telling us? Let’s look at this as a college point of view.

There will be at least one college course here at school that you will struggle with. You may be consuming all your time studying for that class, but your grades still don’t look so great. This can be really frustrating and mostly discouraging, sometimes you doubt your ability to succeed. College isn’t meant to be easy. Here at Cedarville University, you will be challenged academically and spiritually to be ready for the real world. Sometimes a class seems too difficult, and the work for the rest of the semester seems too much. And the work load before doing it, already puts you down. To me, I want to be self-sufficient, and when getting grades I am not pleased about, I tend to let it bring me down and worry about what the rest of college is going to look like.

But the Bible tells us to not worry about the future as long as we trust in the Lord and not our own ability, God will provide. He will provide you a path to follow:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

So this is my advice: If you are going to be defeated by a college course, then at least give it your best effort. Give it your best shot with the abilites God has given you. Use your free time outside of classes wisely. But don’t be absorbed by what your grades look like too. Grades are important, sure, but your growth in character and your growth in knowledge is more important. And the only way to grow is through the challenges that life throws at us:

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:1-5).

We can’t be successful at everything, and you might face challenges that seem to be too much for you, but don’t work against God’s plans for you and let your doubts defeat you.

So back to the question, does God not give us more than we can handle? Well, this is only partially true. I think at least one class here at Cedarville is going to be a class that we may not be able to handle with our own strength. And this only portrays our weakness and how much we need God’s strength. So it’s not really about if we can handle it or not, it’s more about that God will help us through all we have been given, as long as we trust and have faith that He will provide.

If at First You Don’t Succeed… The Crippling Fear of Failure

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.”

I’m pretty sure everyone has heard this quote at one point or another. I remember seeing it on a poster in my 3rd grade classroom years ago.

Is it sound advice? Yes, I think so.

But in all honesty, I’ve never really lived by this motto, even since birth.

My mom told me the story about when I first started walking. I took a few wobbly steps while hanging onto the table.

But as soon as I let go, I fell.

I was maybe 6-8 months old at the time.

I quickly returned to crawling. It was effective enough and certainly less painful.

Somehow, I ended up learning to walk by the age of 13 months. But my response to failure as a baby has carried on for the last nineteen years.

Growing up, I was always tall. At age 2, I was 3 foot. By the end of Kindergarten, I was 51 inches tall. Maybe that accounts for some of my awkwardness and being so off-balance. Maybe not.

Here’s a confession and regret that I’ve carried throughout life: I can’t ride a bike.

I remember riding a bike with training wheels when I was younger. But I never rode a bike without them. I didn’t like the idea of getting hurt or falling. It just wasn’t worth it.

Today, I’ll ride an exercise bike, but that’s about it.

That fear of failure (and falling) has followed me through life.

I never went on the monkey bars until I was tall enough to reach them from the ground. I’ve never made it the whole way around a skating rink (I nearly wiped out, trying to let go of the rails so a 3-year-old could get around me!) And I’ve never made it to the top of a rock climbing wall, or past the first five steps, for that matter.

Fear of failure doesn’t stop there. It leaks its way into every facet of life.

Anything I struggle with, I quit. Anything that doesn’t come naturally, I quit.

That fashion show in 3rd grade. That computer project in 4th grade. That photography contest in 6th grade.

One try, and if it goes horribly, I’m done. I’ve packed my bags and vowed never to go down that same humiliating road again.

I’ve been told several times to not be a “quitter” and that “can’t” is not a word that should be in my dictionary.

Maybe you’ve struggled with this too?

I’ve given in to the fear of failure time and time again.

But one time, I had a breakthrough.

A few years back, I sent in a blog post to a popular Christian website. It was sent back to me with suggestions for improvements and a list of qualities they wanted to see in articles for their website.

At first, I started going into my cycle of “I quit”. My pride had been crushed.

But then, I began to realize that the feedback was 100% true. There was a lot of room for improvement, so I waited a while, prayed a while, and gave it another try.

Had I quit, I doubt you’d be reading this post today.

What made the difference?

I feel like God has given me talent for writing. (I admit I have absolutely none when it comes to riding bikes or skating!) This is what God’s calling me to do.

The rejected blog post reminded me of my dependency on God. When I tried to write a blog or ride a bike on my own strength, I failed. If God was in it and I gave my best, things went better.

That’s not to say that everything God calls us to do is going to be easy. But with God, all things are possible (Luke 1:37).

As Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) says,

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

When we humbly rely on God, we don’t have to be afraid of failing. That doesn’t mean we’ll never hit dead ends or have to try again, but rather that we never have to go it alone.

No matter what the outcome of our situation, God remains the same and our identity in Him remains the same.

What has fear of failure kept you from doing? What do you feel like God is calling you to do?

Summer is a great time to reflect on life and the desires that God has given us. Don’t let fear hold you back from living, like I have for so many years.