Peter Furler and The Cure for The Common CCM Radio Song

Maybe I’m turning into an old fogie. A couple of weeks ago I was visiting with a friend who leads worship at our church. We were discussing how hard it is to find good Christian music on the radio any more. We pined for the ol’ days of the 90s before K-Love and Air-1 owned almost the entire Christian radio market. When small, regional, and independent Christian radio stations were still the norm and thus had more say in who got spins on their airways.

One of the top Christian musicians of the 90s was Peter Furler. He was a member of Newsboys who wrote, sang, and played drums until taking over frontman duties in the late 90s until 2009. Furler just released his second solo effort. I picked it up on release day and it was a welcome salve to ears that had grown tired of the stagnant lyrics and music too often heard over the CCM airwaves.

If you’ve made it through the first two paragraphs you are either nodding your head in agreement or thinking that I really am an old fogie who “just doesn’t get what the kids are digging these days.” Let me try and break it down with a comparison of two songs. Mandisa is one of the biggest names in CCM today. Her latest album was a big hit and the single “Overcomer” is a number one song. So lets take two similarly titled songs, released relatively close to each other, but from who found their stride in very different eras of Christian music and compare them.

Here’s a sampling of Mandisa’s “Overcomer

Staring at a stop sign
Watching people drive by
T mac on the radio
Got so much on your mind
Nothing’s really going right
Looking for a ray of hope

Whatever it is you may be going through
I know he’s not gonna let it get the best of you

You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ’til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when he reminds you
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer

Mandisa

Got it? Could the first verse be more generic? Granted, by the time you get to the final verse of the song you find a bit more depth but the whole song feels pretty shallow. What if you are down for more than a moment? Are you not an overcomer? Is God not with you? Does God turn you into an overcomer or is it really God who is The Overcomer working through you? The song seems to be saying that you are the overcomer.

Now consider the lyrics to this Peter Furler song entitled “The Overcomer

It’s getting cold
for the faithful who
want to trust the true
wanna follow you
just passing through
catch a chill
and then you’re numb

if the gospel’s easy
was it even tried?
just step outside
where the odds are long
and the enemy’s strong
can it be overcome?

IN THIS WORLD
WE KNOW THE POWERS THAT BE
LET DRAGONS RUN FREE
TAKE HEART
DON’T BE AFRAID
THIS WORLD’S GONNA BE REBORN
SUNDOWN’S COMING,
BUT WE’RE GETTING WARM
HERE BETWEEN HEAVEN
AND THE PERFECT STORM
YOU ARE
THE OVERCOMER

Peter Furler

Wait? What? Here’s a song that has deep theological and eschatological roots. The very first words of the song attest to a songwriter tuned into what the culture is saying about Christians (e.g. It’s not getting easier) and with a strong grasp of Scripture. Then Furler puts forth a piercing truth the reminds the listener that the Gospel isn’t easy and it seems the odds are stacked against believers. Can they be overcome?

The answer is the rousing chorus that rises from the punctuated questions of the verses. Yes, they can. Why? Not because I’m an overcomer but because of The Overcomer. The one who empowers believers living in a world that is still being made new but has not arrived yet. A world still waiting to be reborn. A world hostile to the exclusive claims of Scripture. He’s the one who has overcome the world and is remaking the world. He is the one who works through Christians in the church to bring about his kingdom. It’s about Jesus.

Peter Furler- “The Overcomer”

So there you have it. A song about you and a song about Jesus. What say you?

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