Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Concerning Our First Music Record

Dear friends,

Lord willing, we will be recording our first music record during this next summer 2011, which will be in Spanish. The Lord has given us a passion to serve the Church through our music, especially the Latin-American Church. We believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the primary and essential message of the Scriptures, that it is the foundation of our faith, and thus the focus of the life of the Church; this includes the music that we sing. Christ said that all the Scriptures speak about him and point to himself (Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39, 46). For this reason, we feel a need to write and share congregational and contemporary music that is saturated with the Scriptures, and that by God’s grace is faithful to them. It is our desire that through our music Christ’s Church may be constantly encouraged to fix her eyes and hope on the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Gaius Project, a non-profit Christian institution in the United States, that collaborates with Christian artists in order to complete their musical projects, by administrating the funds that are raised for that purpose, received our application in May 2011, and by God’s grace it was approved. The Gaius Project provides an account through which we can raise the funds that are necessary to complete this project. This institution is a very trustworthy organization, and we totally embrace their vision. For more information about The Gaius Project you can visit http://www.thegaiusproject.org/.

On the other hand, a good and very loved friend and brother, Jason French, from Crossworks Ministries, a new label made up of a community of artists that desire to work together in ministry in order to edify the Church and spread the Gospel through their music, asked us to be part of this group and publish our first record through Crossworks Ministries. It is a privilege for us to be part of a community of artists that love the Lord and his people, and that desire to glorify him by putting their gifts at his service to serve his Church in the USA and the nations.

Would you like to partner with us in the Gospel, by helping us to complete this project? There are several ways in which you can do this:

1. You can pray for us, that the Lord would grant us grace to complete the work that he has given us to do; and that we would do this in a manner that is faithful to the calling that we have received from him. Also, you can pray that the Lord would provide for us the resources that are necessary for the recording of this album. As Paul asked the Colossians, we also ask you to pray for us: “pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ... that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak” (Colossians 4:3-4).

2. You can share about our project with others that might be interested in partnering with us.

3. You can help us through your donations. The estimated budget for this project is US$15,000. This includes the expenses for the pre-production work that needs to be done, also recording the album, and post-production expenses. You can send your tax-deductible donations to The Gaius Project at 3125 Park Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55407, specifying Jonathan & Sarah Jerez Project.

We are very thankful for your partnership in the work of grace that has been entrusted to us. If you have any questions or would like to have more information, please write us to: jonathanjerez07@gmail.com o sarah.jerez09@gmail.com.

In His Grace,
Jonathan & Sarah Jerez

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Yahweh" - Lyrics

Con tu palabra, el mundo afirmaste, Señor
Tu aliento de vida, del polvo la humanidad formó
Despliegas tu nombre y gloria en toda la creación
Santo Dios, Santo Dios

Aun cuando el pecado, tu creación corrompió
En tu fidelidad, nos prometiste redención
Un plan soberano, tu gracia y justicia mostró
Santo Dios, Santo Dios

Siempre guardas tus palabras,
Siempre cumples tus promesas,
Por amor de tu nombre, Santo nombre

Yahweh, Yahweh
Poderoso, Dios eterno,
Verdadero, Oh quien es como tú?
Yahweh, Yahweh
Tu nombre permanecerá para siempre
Oh Yahweh

En tu inmensa gracia, un pueblo escogiste para tí
Tu misericordia y grande bondad no tienen fin
Fuiste fiel a tu pacto, aun cuando tu pueblo pecó contra tí
Santo Dios, Santo Dios

En el tiempo preciso, el Verbo carne se hizo
Aquel por quien esperamos, El prometido en el principio
Y vimos tu rostro, lleno de gracia y verdad, en Jesús
Hijo de Dios, Santo Dios

Nos aferramos a tus palabras,
Y creemos tus promesas,
Y adoramos hoy tu nombre, Santo nombre

Music & Lyrics by Jonathan Jerez ®

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Nothing But His Blood" - Lyrics

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but His blood O nothing but His blood
That sets the sinner free, and breaks his chains
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but His blood O nothing but His blood
My ransom paid, my life He came to save

My confidence is in the cross alone
Where the Savior gave His life to sin atone

Glory, Hallelujah!
For Your blood, that was shed on the cross
Grace and forgiveness, flowing from Your throne
Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory, Hallelujah!
For Your blood, that was shed on the cross
O Son of God, You gave Your life for love
Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!

Clothed me in His righteousness
Nothing but His blood O nothing but His blood
My darkness changed forever with His light
Though Iʼm a sinner, he calls me saint
Nothing but His blood O nothing but His blood
Awakened my dead heart from the grave

Eternal life and Hope I came to find
Where the Righteous went to die
To bring the unrighteous back to life

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but Your blood! Nothing but Your blood!
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Music & Lyrics by Jonathan Jerez ®

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Song - By Your Grace

Jesus You are the way for all the broken and lost
And our soul finds its rest at the feet of Your cross
All our sins and our shame the Father placed on You
We are strangers no more, for You make all things new

Jesus You are the life that brought us out of death
You awakened our hearts to see the light of Your Word
You’ve been faithful O Lord to keep the words You gave
By the pow’r of You hand You’ll Keep us to the end

By Your Name we are saved and free
Only by Your grace our eyes are open to believe
Jesus You are the hope that takes our sins away
How we long for the day, we see You face to face
O how we long for the day, we see You face to face

//Lord we thank You for the grace that saved us
Grace that made us new creation
Thank You for the love You’ve shown us
Love that flows down for us// from the cross

Words & Music by Jonathan Jerez ®

Saturday, October 16, 2010

More Than Enough

Matthew 13:44; Galatians 2:20-21; Phillipians 1:12-30; 3:1-11; 4:4-13

Verse 1:
I never knew You were all that I needed
‘til I realized You’re all that I have

Verse 2:
From the joy that I’ve found, in this hidden treasure
What I thought was gain, I count it as loss

For to me, to live is Christ
And to die is my gain

I lay down my life now I’m found
For all I have in You it’s more than enough
I leave all I’ve treasured behind
For all I have in You it’s more than enough
You’re more than enough

Verse 3:
I’ve been crucified with Jesus my Savior
My will it’s been broken, to Him I belong

No matter the pain, the trials or fire that I’m going through
I will sing praise, rejoice and know it’s all about You
All about You

Words & Music by Jonathan Jerez ®

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Battle For “True Worship” Part II

This is the second part of “The Battle For True Worship”. You can read the first part here.

Some Christians say that during our days Christian worship has become more worldly because of the use in church of new forms and styles and tools that the world also uses. They say that some genres and styles are more “ecclesiastically acceptable” and that there are others that are “culturally acceptable”, and associated with the “worldly culture” that surrounds us, and therefore, these must be avoided by the Church. They argue that Christians are to be “counter-cultural” and differentiate themselves from the world. So they think that the Church must never use styles and forms that the world also uses. The more I inquire, I realize this view of worship and Christian life is very rooted in Old Covenant theology. I think there is a misunderstanding of the essence of the whole Bible here - the Gospel; what Jesus came to accomplish though His perfect life and atoning sacrifice.

The first problem I see with this view, is that it completely ignores the fact that everything we use in Church today, even things that today are “ecclesiastically acceptable” were part of some culture at some point in history. Man changes, culture changes, forms change, styles change, times change, the Churches change, but the Word of God never changes (Malachi 3:6; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33; James 1:17); and that is why we do not determine what we do or what we don’t do by what is “culturally acceptable”, nor by what is “ecclesiastically acceptable”, but by what the whole Revelation of God teaches as good and acceptable.

Second, some say that if we do what the culture does, then we make of the culture our standard and what governs the Church. That is absolutely right, the culture does not determine what we believe and practice. But I would also say this problem goes either way. If we don’t do what the culture does, just because the culture does it, just for the sake of being counter-cultural, then we are also making of the culture our standard and what determines our decisions. So, this does not solve the issue, it’s just a shortcut to the same place. Christians don’t try to be different from our culture just for the sake of being counter-cultural or revolutionists; that is no different than being political rebels. We are different because Christ makes us different, because He transforms our lives and conforms our minds, our hearts, and actions according to His Word. So the standard is what the Bible says, not what the world does or does not do.

Third, as I said before, we have misunderstood the Gospel if we try to live Christianity today and to do Church today as if we were Old Covenant-people. We are Gospel-people, New Covenant-people. We must never forget that we live on this side of the cross. The Messiah that was coming, the One in whom the people of the Old Testament hoped for hundreds of years, the One to whom all the prescriptions of the law appointed to, and in whom all prescriptions were fulfilled (Matthew 5:17), already came to us. Nothing is more important for us today, than understanding and living the Gospel. And for this it is important that we correctly understand the essential transition from the Old Covenant (The Law) to the New Covenant (Grace).

Some Christians seem to cling to practices and prescriptions that God gave to Israel to perform when they worshiped in the Old Covenant. They say these are to be performed by us today in a spiritual sense in order to worship God in a worthy manner. Things like: the washing of their garments (Exodus 19:10), the Priests washing themselves to be consecrated to the Lord (Exodus 29:4), washing the ram that was presented as a offering to the Lord (Exodus 29:27), the Priests washing their hands and feet before offering a sacrifice to the Lord, so that they would not die (Exodus 30:19-20), the Priest had to have holy garments, for glory and for beauty, to consecrate them for the Lord’s priesthood (Exodus 28:1-3), etc; this seems to be their focus in worship. These brothers say we must be different than the world, and therefore cleanse ourselves from the “worldliness” that surrounds us, just like the people of Israel. And they say we do this, by using different kinds of clothes, haircuts, styles of music, and forms, in order to be a holy and distinct people of God.

These practices are biblical, they are in the Bible, specifically in the Old Testament. But I may ask, is this the way we ought to see these practices as New Covenant-people? Is this view consistent with the whole Revelation of God? Well, I think this view is not consistent with “the whole” of the Bible, and that actually contradicts some things that God has revealed in it.
We see God in the Old Testament several times commanding Israel to even look different from the other nations, to not imitate their customs and their practices (Leviticus 18:3). God gave them a different culture, language, food, dress code, etc (Exodus 12:9, 15, 20, 43, 48; Leviticus 19:19). He wanted to make very clear that they were different from the world, because they belonged to Yahweh. They were not just another nation, they were His people, and therefore they would be different. But the problem with viewing worship and Christian life today this way, is that it misses the whole point of the purpose of the Old Covenant prescriptions. It focuses on the wrong things, and gives little importance to the things that are actually essential.

The rituals performed by Israel in their worship, such as the washing of the hands and feet, washing themselves to enter the presence of a Holy God, sacrificing rams for the Lord, using holy garments; these things pointed to something greater, to the greatest sacrifice, to Jesus, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Christ came to completely fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17) and He accomplished what He came to do. And when He said “It is finished” (John 19:30), it was all done. We don’t need to wash ourselves anymore, we don’t need to wash our hands and feet in order to worship God, nor to wear a different kind of garment for worship. Jesus is our cleansing, He washed us already. We are completely clean before God (Hebrews 10:4) because of what He has done for us. He is our holy garment, He is our sacrifice. He provided the righteousness and holiness we need to stand forgiven and clean before the Father, and there is nothing we can do in order to add to His great work of grace (Ephesians 2:9). These practices were not meant to be there forever. God has made His people different by doing something a thousand times greater than those things, He sent His own Son to do that for us, and has put His Holy Spirit within us. To be cleansed by Christ and to have His Spirit dwelling within me, is way better than my pathetic and insufficient effort to be good on my own. Praise God for all He’s done for us in Christ Jesus.

This is the message we learn from Christ Himself in the Gospels. It’s what we learn from Paul in all his letters to the Church. The law pointed to a greater reality, it pointed to Christ; its purpose was to bring us to the Jesus (Galatians 3:24), not that we would continue in it forever. The apostle Paul rebuked believers that had known this grace (the New Covenant) through Christ Jesus, and now wanted to live again according to the works of the law (the Old Covenant) (Romans 2:25-29; 3:28-30, Galatians 2:11-21, Galatians 3, and Colossians 2); they didn’t get it well, they were missing the Gospel, the essence of the Bible, the essence of Christianity, and we could be missing it too.

What does the New Testament say about the way in which we must be different from the world? I think the Bible is pretty clear about that. In Galatians 5:1-6, Paul writes about the freedom from the law that we have in Christ Jesus. Paul says:
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love”.

Immediately after this, Paul gives us a list of virtues and values that are completely contrary to this world’s ways of thinking and lifestyle, and that all of us Christians should practice; these things must be the distinctive difference between disciples of Jesus and disciples of this world. Paul writes:
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16-25)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Battle For “True Worship” Part I

Everybody has something to say about the practice of corporate worship. I have talked to many friends that are very conservative when it comes to the use of music and arts in church. Many say that worship has become mere entertainment instead of true worship based on biblical truth. It is true that in our cultures today entertainment is probably one of the highest values. Even Churches today try to keep people pleased and entertained, and sometimes Pastors don’t really care if their congregations are thinking rightly about God as long as they are pleased and entertained by what they do and keep coming to church.

In some churches worship is all about the head, thinking correctly about God. In other churches worship and Christian life is all about the emotions, and they end up compromising biblical truth. Some worship leaders manipulate their congregations with attractive and moving words and tone. It’s all about choosing the right songs, saying the right things that move people’s heart and make them do what they what. This kind of worship leader appeals only to people’s emotions during worship services, instead of trying and working hard to engage, teach, and encourage them with biblical truth.

So, some conservative brothers would say: “well, to solve this problem we just need to get rid of everything that entertains people and that distracts them from true worship. After all, worship is not about our emotions, it’s about having the right knowledge of God”. That is exactly how John Calvin thought about the use of music and arts in worship. He wrote: “And we have never been forbidden to… delight in musical harmony… But to wallow in delight… to intoxicate mind and heart with present pleasures… such are very far removed from a lawful use of God’s gifts.” (Pietsch, 163. Taken from Charles P. St-Onge, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN. “Music, Worship and Martin Luther”).

I think there is a legitimate concern here. We need to instruct people with the Word (1 Timothy 4:11-13; 2 Timothy 2:2; Titus 2:1), so that they might worship God for what He really is and has done for us, and not just seek for shallow and momentary entertainment in God’s gifts, but in Himself. But I don’t think this formula correctly approaches or solves the problem. I don’t think it’s the best option just to get rid of things God created for Himself, and that give Him glory.

The first problem I see with this is that I think it is a poor, deficient, and inaccurate view of God’s worship to think that true worship only takes place when we encapsulate ourselves in body and mind, and enter into some sort of mystical state, isolated from the world around us, and then think about God, and try to avoid being distracted by anything, whether it be lights, or instruments, or people clapping their hands and singing around us. I think that’s very far away from what we see in Scriptures about corporate times of worship. Yes, there were many times when God encounter people and they worshiped Him by falling on their knees, facing to the ground, with no words, just in awe; but that is not the pattern we find in Scriptures when the people of God were called to sing His praises together. It is not the way the Psalmist describes a pattern of corporate worship in the Psalms (Psalms 33:1-3; 47:1-2, 66:1-5; 87:7; 92:1-4; 95:1-2; 96:1-3; 98:4-6; 100; 133:1; 134; 150), and it’s not how the New Testament describes it either (1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).

I think the Bible is very clear that when the people of God come together for corporate worship, they come in unity and to edify one another and to sing praises directly to God in unity as one body in Christ Jesus. This does not mean that there is no place in our services for private confessions of faith, or individual confessions of sin, time for individual prayer, time to sing to the Lord out of our individual experience and relationship with Christ. Yes, in our corporate worship there is time for individual experiences, but this should not be the norm that governs the spirit of our worship services. Corporate worship by definition implies “a group of people”, it is not individualistic.

The second problem I have with this view of worship is that I think we worship God when we enjoy things He created for His glory. We were made for God’s glory (Isaiah 43:7), everything was made for God’s glory (Colossians 1:16). Music and arts are gifts from God. They help us express and communicate our thoughts and emotions in a way that honors our Savior. It’s true that worship is not only about our emotions; our emotions are fallen and sinful. But neither is worship only about our brain, which is fallen and sinful as well. What we need is to put together our head (thoughts) and heart (emotions) and submit both to what God has revealed about Himself in His Word.

True worship is the appropriate respond of creation to God’s revelation of Himself through Jesus Christ. It’s prideful to think we can come before God and not respond to Him appropriately. And it’s foolishness to think that we can come to Him in our own terms, without knowing what He has revealed about Himself. So, we need both, right knowledge about God, and a heart that responds to revelation. Right knowledge of God without emotions to respond, that leads to legalism. Emotions without right knowledge of God, that leads to idolatry.
There is nothing wrong about enjoying music and arts; on the contrary, that honors God. God is worshiped and honored when we enjoy His gifts and attribute the glory to Him for such things. We worship God, the Creator of music; not music itself. But we worship God when we value and enjoy music, even as a Church.