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7 Head-Scratching Lines From CCM

Breakfast in hell? Football-playing Jesus? A look at some of the strange lyrics from CCM hits.

Modern Christian artists have produced a lot of great songs, but occasionally, blending biblically accurate, pop-sounding, catchy lyrics into a three and a half minute tune can end in head-scratching results. Here’s our list of seven strange lyrics from major contemporary Christian hits.

'Awesome God' – Rich Mullins

Lyric: When He rolls up His sleeves / He ain’t just putting on the ritz

If you grew up in the evangelical church, there’s a good chance you have sung the chorus “Our God Is an Awesome God” thousands and thousands of times. Aside from seemingly acknowledging the existence of other (less awesome) gods, the chorus is actually pretty catchy and even moving. The rapping verses, however, aren’t quite as timeless. Even Mullins later admitted that despite the song's popularity, he considered it “one of the worst-written songs I ever wrote.”

Lines like When He rolls up his sleeves / He ain’t just putting on the ritz haven’t really held up since the song was first written in 1988. Mainly because no one has used the phrase “putting on the ritz” since The Great Gatsby was first published.

'Breakfast' - Newsboys

Lyric: Pretty much the entire song

The song “Breakfast,” off the 1996 Newsboys album Take Me to Your Leader is about a recently deceased fellow who really loves cereal. At his funeral, his friends say he is also glad he is not going to spend eternity in torment, presumably, because, “They don't serve breakfast in hell.” Not only is the song eerily morbid, it also takes a pretty serious topic—dying and going to hell—and manages to weave in countless breakfast puns of questionable taste and cleverness. At one point in the song, the puns run so dry that an entire verse and chorus are simply whistled.

Here are a few examples of 'Breakfast' head-scratchers:

Back when the chess club said our eggs were soft / Every Monday he'd say grace and hold our juice aloft / Oh none of us knew his check out time would come so soon / but before his brain stopped waving he composed this tune

When the toast is burned / And all the milk has turned / And Captain Crunch is waving farewell … they don't serve breakfast in hell.

'The Great Adventure' – Steven Curtis Chapman

Lyric: Saddle up your horses / We’ve got a trail to blaze

If it wasn’t for the music video, this song probably wouldn’t have made the list. That’s because if you listen to this hit single off of Steven Curtis Chapman’s 1992 album The Great Adventure, you would assume that the chorus, Saddle up your horses / We’ve got a trail to blaze / Through the wild blue yonder / Of God’s amazing grace is entirely metaphorical. The music video, however, presents a different perspective of the now-famous lyric. The video continually cuts back to a gentleman in a white T-shirt and black jeans, who just like the opening lines of the song, wakes up in the morning, distressed while looking a the clock: Chasing thoughts inside my head / Of all I had to do today. Then, after he Opened up the Bible / And I read about me, the walls of his tiny house are blown off, and he actually—completely non-metaphorically, saddles up a horse and begins blazing a trail. He also—literally—rides the horse into an active rodeo, bringing the crowd to their feet, before heading back out to blaze more trails “into the glorious unknown.” Head-scratching? A little. Great? Definitely.

'Big House' – Audio Adrenaline

Lyric: A big big yard / Where we can play football 

Come and go with me, to my father’s house / It's a big big house / With lots and lots a room / A big big table / With lots and lots of food / A big big yard / Where we can play football. They had us up until the football thing.

It’s unclear which came first, the “Jesus is my coach” statues or the hit song from Audio Adrenaline, but both offer a somewhat theologically questionable view of the afterlife where God is the proprietor of a large mansion with a football field-sized lawn. Speaking of theologically questionable, who exactly are the butler and maid also mentioned that work in the big, big house?

'Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing' – Robert Robinson

Lyric: Here I raise my Ebenezer / Hither by Thy help I’ve come

Written in 1758, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” though not exactly a CCM hit, is one of Christendom’s great hymns. But as timeless as the song has become, there’s one line that may still leave some modern audiences scratching their heads. What exactly is an “Ebenezer,” and why are we so willing to sing about raising it? The lyric is actually a reference to 1 Samuel 7, when Samuel, after relying on God to defeat the Philistines, used a stone to memorialize the battle. “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us’” (1 Samuel 7:12). So, as it turns out, this head-scratching line is actually a very sound theological truth. The more you know.

'How He Loves' - John Mark McMillan

Lyric: So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss

The worship ballad “How He Loves” from singer/songwriter John Mark McMillan has become a staple of Sunday morning worship services, but depending on how comfortable (or uncomfortable) your worship team is singing about sloppy wet kisses, you could be singing a different version of the song. The original version, contained the line “So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,” which for some reason, caused a stir in churches around the country. Even the David Crowder Band, who released a popular cover of the song, changed the line (with permission) to “unforeseen kiss” in an effort to make the song more Christian radio-friendly. But, when you think about it, an “unforeseen kiss” is actually a little weirder than a “sloppy wet kiss.” Was the kiss a sneak attack? Why wasn’t the recipient expecting this kiss?

McMillan later explained that he didn’t have a problem with Crowder changing the line, but he did feel the lyric had been misunderstood. “What I do have a problem with though, is that the condition of greater Christianity would be as such that he would even have to change it. I think the fact that a line like ‘Sloppy wet kiss’ could be controversial is ridiculous. Are we in kindergarden? …   Please folks, I never ever, ever, ever, thought of this line as though it was talking about kissing God … HEAVEN meets EARTH like a sloppy wet kiss. The idea behind the lyric is that the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of earth converge in a way that is both beautiful and awkwardly messy.”

'Don’t You Want to Rap?' - Bryan Duncan

Lyric: Pretty much everything following the line: OK, I’ll give it a SHOT! My name is Bryan D

In 1989, Bryan Duncan was a CCM superstar, but this strange sort-of-parody song off the album Strong Medicine is the artist’s first foray into rap. The video and song start off harmless enough, until the 1:19 mark when Duncan gets into a rap battle with a TSA agent and transforms into a potentially offensive hip-hop stereotype to unleash rhymes like On a mission from God; I like to call Him a Friend / I think that people are sick, and He's the med-o-cine, and this mind-expanding verse: Think I'm just a white man with a sheltered life / Nice home, two cars, two kids and a wife / Just look a little closer while you're starin' at me / 'Cause sometimes what you get is more than what you see. Needless to say, Duncan’s career has a rapper was short-lived.

Top Comments

Rich Gambrill


Rich Gambrill commented…

I really don't think Come thou fount of every blessing belongs on this list. It's from another place and time lyrically. What i want to know is, where is Degarmo and Key's Boycott Hell? I remember my friend was offended when I laughed out loud the first time I heard that song. I thought the song was a joke. Apparently it wasn't.




Grenville commented…

How He Loves - the sloppy wet kiss line is the least problem. "If Grace is an ocean we're all drowning" is bad poetry, poor metaphor and bad thinking about both grace and oceans. There is SO MUCH song-fodder to do with grace and oceans, but drowning, does not fit at all.

Stephen Jesse Nettles


Stephen Jesse Nettles replied to Grenville's comment

The line is actually "If grace is an ocean we're all sinking." Which is a beautiful metaphor, the image of God have so much grace that we're literally swimming in it. As far as sinking or drowning... that's also a beautiful image. Ted Dekker's Circle trilogy used the image of drowning to represent salvation. One would literally drown themselves in the waters of Elyon (God) changed forever by the blood of Justin (Jesus), only to be reborn again as a pure and clean individual, quite literally washing the scab disease (sin) off of their body. And the drowning wasn't painful it was a joyful experience... literally being enveloped by the love and grace of God. Its a beautiful analogy and is similar to the analogy used in the song. Gods grace is so overwhelming we are literally sinking in an ocean of grace! How amazing is that!? :D



Grenville replied to Stephen Jesse Nettles's comment

Drowning or sinking, it's bad poetry! If you've ever stood on the deck of a ship in the middle of the ocean and observed the slow tide, the undulating mass of coldness, depth and sheer life, and had a sense of your own smallness and powerlessness in relation to it, to get a lungful of saltwater in a song does disservice to the very concept. Now I do agree it's a pretty song, but "sinking" goes thud or clunk for me, not splash and not "ahhhhhhh!"

Morgan Nyman


Morgan Nyman replied to Grenville's comment

What you just described pretty much sounds like what I bet John was going for--God's grace being so great and overwhelming, we become aware of our smallness and futility apart from it. I don't know about you, but that makes me all the more thankful for God's grace.

Cassidy Cooley


Cassidy Cooley commented…

Man, the commentators are uptight! :) I thought this article was funny. After all, I grew up during these song's peak popularity (minus the Ebenezer song, LOL). Bands like Audio Adrenaline, Newsboys, and even Bryan Duncan made an impact because unlike the most popular CCM of their day (Sandi Patti, anyone?), they were funny, slightly irreverent, and didn't sound like anything on our parents' Christian radio stations (most of which were just starting out). When your parents are "rocking out" to Wayne Watson (no disrespect intended), you get a little desperate. It's not like a lot of us were allowed to turn on secular radio, so Audio Adrenaline and DC Talk were our ways to learn about God. They taught us that it was okay to laugh and sing about the Lord (I can't believe that early DC Talk didn't make this list!). So, chill out--laugh a little. I'm thankful I had this "silly" stuff to grow up with. :) In the end, it really did bring me and my peers closer to God.

Rich Gambrill


Rich Gambrill commented…

I really don't think Come thou fount of every blessing belongs on this list. It's from another place and time lyrically. What i want to know is, where is Degarmo and Key's Boycott Hell? I remember my friend was offended when I laughed out loud the first time I heard that song. I thought the song was a joke. Apparently it wasn't.

Bonnie Breuner


Bonnie Breuner commented…

When He rolls up His sleeves / He ain’t just putting on the ritz

I laugh now every time I hear that line in the song. Even if it was his worst, ya gotta love Rich Mullins!

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