A Throw-Back Song with a Timeless Message by Tony Brackemyre

Tony Brackemyre   -  

Like many people reading this today, I enjoy listening to music. In fact, as I type these thoughts, I have music playing in the background. I love that I can listen to music on my phone when I’m working in the yard or ask Alexa to play a song when we are hanging out at home or connect my device to a Bluetooth speaker to play music while our students gather for Small Groups each week. Music is a part of so many things we do.

    As I thought about how easily I can access the music I like at pretty much any given moment, my mind went back to my high school years. This was prior to the advent of streaming services, smart phones and even music downloads. You were a cool kid when you had your Walkman strapped to your waist and you were listening to your favorite artist on cassette. Yes, people actually listened to cassettes.

    Contemporary Christian music was just becoming a part of the musical landscape with artists like Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Sandy Patti, DeGarmo and Key, Russ Taff and Whiteheart. One of my favorite Christian artists growing up was Petra. They were one of the pioneers of Christian rock and roll and I enjoyed their music.

    I used to visit our local Christian bookstore in northern Indiana – the Anchor Room – and look for the new releases. If you bought a cassette, there was a sticker on the shrink wrap. If you saved four stickers, your next cassette was free! Is that a deal or what?

    Petra had so many iconic Christian rock songs that were a part of my junior high and high school experiences. Songs like God Gave Rock and Roll to You (see – deep theological stuff), Praise Ye the Lord, More Power to Ya and Why Should the Father Bother were kind of the soundtrack of my teen years.

    Then one song came to mind as I took this trip down memory lane: Without Him We Can Do Nothing. The song opens with these words:

How can, how can we who are dead to sin
Live any longer therein? No, no
We’ve been, we have been called and loved and forgiven
Our old life is forgotten

The chorus just repeats this phrase:

Without Him we can do nothing

Without Him we can do nothing

Without Him we can do nothing

That song was released in 1981 and its message is as relevant today as when Petra hit their first power chord.

How many times have we tried to do something for God…without Him?

How many bad (sinful) habits have we tried to overcome on our own?

How many times have we felt guilty about a failure and thought, “I’ll try harder?”

Maybe you’ve heard – or even spoken – these words, “I’ll come back to God once I get my act together?”

Petra reminds us, “Without Him we can do nothing.”

That song echoes the words of Jesus in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in my and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

So our task is not to work harder or try again or become more self-disciplined or beat ourselves up with a guilty stick.

Our task is to remain. To stay connected. To make sure our lives are continually plugged into Jesus.

He is the Vine.

We are the branches.

We are to remain.

We remain by spending time in His Word. Not out of guilt, but to receive life.

We stay connected with Him as we are obedient to what He tells us to do (see John 15:10-14).

We remain by bearing fruit – developing the characteristics of Jesus in our lives.

Without Him we can do nothing.

So, this week, decide that you will remain in the Vine. Recognize that on our own, we are helpless to accomplish anything of eternal value. But, as we stay connected to Jesus, He enables us to bear fruit and reflect His character in our lives.

What is one way you will remain this week? What will you do starting today to connect your life with the life of Jesus so you can reveal Him to others?

And, if you are a fan of Petra (or have never heard of them before), here is a link to your very own three minute trip in the way-back machine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYMA3cuSqho