Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stand in Awe - Jon Thurlow


Things are not okay, and they won’t be until Christ returns.

Stand in Awe
Artist: Jon Thurlow
Label: International House of Prayer (www.ihopkc.org)
Length: 11 tracks/1 hour 1 minute

Stand in Awe by Jon Thurlow strings biblical allusions together, conveying longing and hope for the transcendent. This is a less is better approach. Better to have five words that are inspired than a hundred that are not.

A slight drawback is it that it tends toward repetition. On the upside, this can aid a person in concentrating on the object of worship more than singing words. That’s the downside of more complicated songs. It can become an intellectual exercise.

Those who want a meaningful balance have no need for concern. There is plenty to meditate on, and the repeated phrasing can facilitate it. It gives one the chance to catch what is being sung.

One of the brightest moments is “Have the Glory,” which starts with bouncy drums and synth, reminiscent of The Killers. This highlights the parable of the soils, where Jesus talks about the good soil producing thirty, sixty and even a hundred fold from what is sown. A. W. Tozer, who could focus on truth like a laser, once remarked about the absence of joy in worship. Even though we have innumerable praise choruses and try to manufacture gladness, his sentiment, spoken many years ago, would seem to hold true in our own time. The note of joy endears me to this track. How we need authentic manifestations in our gatherings today.

On the more somber side, but not inappropriately, is the title track. It begins with violin taking the lead, much like Michael W. Smith’s “Agnus Dei,” which is similar in style. There is a slow build to a crescendo before it begins to ebb like a retreating tide.

In between these two songs, Thurlow throws a bit of a changeup, using light jazz, R&B, gospel and strings to provide more lightheartedness and welcome variation.

Lyrically, many of the songs here and on other International House of Prayer (IHOP) releases, reflect a theology of having a strong love for Christ. The danger to which they may be most susceptible is to distort and take the bride and bridegroom analogy to an extreme.

The January 30, 2014 issue of Rolling Stone featured the article, “Love and Death in the House of Prayer,” which profiled an offshoot of IHOP and shows how dangerous wrong thinking and practices can be. It should serve as a cautionary tale to everyone, especially those connected with this ministry. After reading the article, I can more readily see the influence of IHOP doctrine in the music releases, not that it is all bad.

I digress further, but I can’t help thinking that it would be beneficial if IHOP leaders allowed their theology and practices to be scrutinized. It may need to come from outside the organization. Pride makes us believe that we know best and are not answerable to anyone. What life might come from being humble and teachable, willing to admit when we are wrong.


On a lighter note, piano is Thurlow’s instrument of choice, so there are plenty of keyboards. They help close this release with “Things are Not Okay.” I liked this title, even before I heard the song. It does not disappoint. It’s a fitting conclusion that reminds listeners that this world won’t be right until Christ returns. What’s wrong includes our faulty attempts to live the Christian life.
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