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#849 - "Lions" by Skillet
John Cooper shares encouragement for believers who find themselves in a battle with "Lions."

Posted: August 17, 2017 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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I've long been a longtime "Panhead" (the proud title of diehard Skillet fans) going back to their self-titled grunge rock debut album and its electronic-tinged follow-ups, Hey You, I Love Your Soul and Invincible. Those early albums hooked me with their catchy, personal and vertically-focused songs including "More Faithful," "Rest" and "Best Kept Secret." Over the years, it has been a treat for me to watch their meteoric ascent to becoming one of rock's biggest bands worldwide, with the incredible success of their last three albums Comatose, Awake and Rise each reaching another level of popularity. 

I've had the opportunity to speak with John Cooper about several songs from the prior albums, including "Believe," "Awake and Alive," "One Day Too Late," "Lucy," "American Noise" and "Good to Be Alive," and with each discussion we've built on how John's biblical life verses Romans 8:38-39 have shaped his songwriting. They returned to a more electronically-tinged rock style for their latest album Unleashed, which features the rock single "Feel Invincible" as well as the worshipful hit "Stars." I had the chance to speak with John Cooper again about "Lions."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

This song has an Old Testament kind of feel to it because the song includes language that connects to biblical ideas--like "everywhere you walk, the land has been given to you" and those types of ideas. I tend to think of that like how in the Old Testament, God would talk to Israel. 

What I like about this song is that it's about being bold, which is something I'm passionate about in general: being bold in your faith. Sometimes that can be evangelism and also standing up for what you believe. It can also be a matter of conviction. You can think about many cool Bible stories about standing up for what's right, whether it is popular or makes sense or not. What seems like the best earthly option may not be what God thinks is the best option. That's what I think about with this song.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

2 Chronicles 20:15 (NIV): He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's."

2 Chronicles 32:7 (NKJV): "Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him."

2 Corinthians 10:2-5 (NIV): I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world; we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Psalm 71:1-3 (NIV): "In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. Rescue me and deliver me in Your righteousness; turn Your ear to me and save me. Be my Rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for You are my Rock and my Fortress."

Psalm 3:1-2 (NIV): "LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, 'God will not deliver him.'"

Micah 6:8 (NKJV): "He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?"

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV): "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV): "For we walk by faith, not by sight."

What is the takeaway message?

Those 2nd Chronicles passages lay it out really well with the idea that the battle belongs to the Lord. In the Old Testament, there were literally battles and wars, and God said He was with the armies in those battles. Those Bible passages were very present while we were working on the song, and that's how I took them in applying to our physical and spiritual battles relative to war, terrorism, financial, relational and other struggles like fear, worry and anxiety. 

Our culture is changing. I used to hear people talk about persecution in the church in America, and I would question that because we aren't in China and we live in an amazing country where you can believe what you want and have freedom of expression. For the first time, I'm starting to see that could change. Right now, we are seeing that if you stand up for what the Bible says is right, you might be labeled a bigot or a hater of some sort because you aren't as inclusive or accepting. All of a sudden, I'm seeing a need to defend what I believe. I've always stood up for what I believe, and now I need to also defend what I believe, and explain that I'm not a bigot or a hater, I love people and I defend what I believe by following what the Bible says. For the first time, I'm imagining an America where it could come to persecution or losing your job because of something you believe or your church believes. You may not have been preaching it, and that's not what this song was originally about, but it's something God has been speaking to me about being bold, and those are the kinds of battles that I could foresee us having in the very near future. 

The good news is that God is with us. The battle belongs to Him, and we are not alone in the battle. We are meant to be going forward in His presence. Whatever the Lord has called you to do, and wherever you go, and whatever trials or battles you are facing, God is with you. That is where we grow, because we have to learn to trust Him. That's how this song speaks to me the most, even though that's not what the song was entirely about originally.

Today we live, today we breathe
Today we know we're strong when we are weak
Today we trust, we overcome
Take every chain that kept us slaves and throw 'em off
We're not waiting for permission
We defy our inhibition
Like our middle name is fearless

If we're gonna fly we fly like eagles
Arms out wide
If we're gonna fear we fear no evil
We will rise
By Your power we will go
By Your Spirit we are bold
If we're gonna stand we stand as giants
If we're gonna walk we walk as lions
We walk as lions

Today is ours, it's always been
Before we face the fight we know who's gonna win
We live by faith and not by sight
We don't want safe and quiet, we don't wanna run and hide
This is not an intermission
It's out time not gonna miss it
You've already called us fearless

If we're gonna fly we fly like eagles
Arms out wide
If we're gonna fear we fear no evil
We will rise
By Your power we will go
By Your Spirit we are bold
If we're gonna stand we stand as giants
If we're gonna walk we walk as lions
We walk as lions

Go everywhere we go
The battle has been won
We know You've gone before us
So, we're taking hold of faith
With every step we take we know we'll rise victorious

If we're gonna fly we fly like eagles
Arms out wide
If we're gonna fear we fear no evil
We will rise
By Your power we will go
By Your Spirit we are bold
If we're gonna stand we stand as giants
If we're gonna walk we walk as lions
We walk as lions

From the first listen, this song fired me up to be more diligent as a husband, father and follower of Jesus. As men, we often struggle with fear of failure and complacency. As Christians, we are called to be bold, and "walk as lions" for Christ and to serve Him daily. We can't find true courage in our own strength; we need to trust in Jesus. It's time for Christians to show true strength and courage by igniting the passion that we have inside of us by the power of the Holy Spirit. The challenge for me in the song, and hopefully for other Christian men as well, is every time I hear it and sing it, I ask myself, "have I invested in my family emotionally, spiritually the way that God has called me to reach out to them and to lead them?"

The song represents life, and includes some great challenges to step out in faith and trust in God even when you want to give up or can't see where you're going. We aren't the source of the power to overcome our challenges; God is our greater power source. In our weakness, God's strength is perfect! This song represents the victory that we have over our battles before we even know the earthly outcome by trusting that God is going before us, and He wins. If you think about the type of faith we are called to have as believers, it is described as the faith of a mustard seed. Being a Christian means that we walk by faith, not by sight. Faith requires people to rely on the unseen. The beauty of walking by faith and not by sight is that we can learn to more fully trust God with our lives.

God tells us in the Bible that with faith, we can do anything in Christ. I'm completely convicted by the strong lyrics and find immense comfort in this song filled with biblical truth. We can face our daily battles with more courage and strength because we know that whatever the outcome, based on His promise in Romans 8:28, "God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." You can sincerely pray these words along with Skillet. His love is never-ending, and He is our refuge and our strength. If you are looking for a firm foundation in your life, make these lyrics your personal prayer: "The battle has been won, we know You've gone before us, so we're taking hold of faith, with every step we take we know we'll rise victorious." Amen to that!

Watch the lyric video below.


NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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