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Until April 2011 Remedy Drive band consisted of four brothers from Lincoln, Nebraska--Daniel, David, Philip and Paul Zach. Since then Daniel, Philip and Paul have dropped out, and have been replaced, with David Zach still at the helm. The band now uses their music to partner with The Exodus Road, a ministry to free underage girls in southeast Asia trapped in the sex trade by human traffickers.
We originally reviewed the band in 2005 (see below). The concerns we raised have diminished since then as Remedy has matured. However, many former Assembly members are big Remedy fans. For them the original critique of some of the older lyrics remains relevant. Our intention in this article was not to diss Remedy, but to help former Assembly members discern errors in their doctrine. Although it is outdated, we'll let this review stand, and have added a few additional comments about more recent songs, as well as some heated discussion from readers.
A reviewer on Christianmusic.com said of Remedy Drive:
"The Zach brothers are very accomplished musicians on both their instruments and their ability to sing with feeling, in harmony no less. Their use of dynamics, and musical ability to illustrate their songs in musical pictures is really quite impressive....Interesting rhythms and percussion riffs spice up their songs nicely, making them all uniquely different."
I heard them in May, 2005, at Worship Generation at Chuck Smith's Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. I agree with the reviewer--they were good. The program that night was an hour of worship followed by the Bible study, so all the songs were worship songs. The piece the audience seemed to like best was sung a cappella, with incredibly intricate and beautiful harmonies. They've said their goal is to build up a following and follow a good business plan, and they look likely to succeed.
So...the band is good....and there's a good review of them online...so why write about them here? Because there are several concerns about the band. One concern is with some of their lyrics, which should be looked at carefully. In the lyrics are bits of doctrine that reflect their roots.
Four Zach brothers--David, Daniel, Philip and Paul--were born into a small church in Omaha known simply as the Assembly, or "a gathering of believers". This group was part of a movement begun in the early 70's in California by George Geftakys. By 2002, there were over fifty Assemblies world-wide. The boys' father, Mike Zach, was an elder and full-time paid worker in this ministry for many years.
Most of the Assemblies disbanded in 2003 when it became known that G. Geftakys had immoral relations with several women in the group, and had also for years covered up the domestic violence of his son, David. Rick Ross reported this event on Cult News.
Mr. Geftakys' personal sins were not the only problems with the Assembly, nor even the biggest problems. There are two big red flags about the Assemblies: 1) Extreme control and legalism, and 2) Aberrant doctrine that teaches if you don't do everything just right in your Christian life, you will end up outside the eternal Kingdom, and you need to learn to "overcome" to avoid this.
Practically, what this led to was things like the following incident in the life of Paul Zach, the youngest brother, who plays guitar and vocals in the band. It was the family custom at mealtimes to give thanks, with everyone bowing their heads. Paul was nine months old at the time of the following incident, which was recounted to me by his mother, Cheryl:
One morning at breakfast when everyone bowed their heads to give thanks, Paul sat in his high chair looking around. He was told to bow his head, and he didn't. He was taken from his high chair and spanked.
He was brought back to his high chair to try again. He still wouldn't bow his head. So he was spanked again. And again. And again. He was kept in the high chair all day until finally at dinnertime he "obeyed" and bowed his head with the family.
This was a nine-month-old baby, whose imperfect following of the rules was being interpreted as serious rebellion. This was commonplace in the Assemblies. Parents were taught that the heart of every infant is sinfully willful and the proper way to extinguish the will is by early, consistent and harsh punishment. When you believed that you had to do it right or end up outside the eternal Kingdom, it produced all kinds of extreme results.
This is the only life the Zach brothers knew until 2003, when the Omaha Assembly disbanded. Until then, Remedy had played mainly for Assembly teen functions. There are still a few Assemblies in existence that invite Remedy to play for youth outreaches.
Remedy Drive's older lyrics repeatedly strike chords that resonate with the loaded language of the Assemblies. Many current and former Assembly members love this, because it reminds them of "the good old days" before the Assembly system largely disbanded.
On the other hand, other former Assembly members who have left the group are unable to listen to Remedy any longer, because their music triggers old Assembly feelings of unworthiness, fear of missing out on the Kingdom, anxiety to do more for God and to be more fervent in order to have God's approval.
The song, "Daystar," written in 2001, very clearly expresses themes from aberrant Assembly doctrine:
"Clive Staples" is another clear example:
can i be with you in your kingdom?
can i stand by your side as you reign?
like a thundercloud will you say my name out loud?
will you say that you know me?
when i stand before you on your white throne
will your scepter sway? will you smile and say i am blood bought?
i've been tried by fire and washed in the rain from your mountain
from your holy hill, can i drink my fill from your fountain?
will you turn your approving smile upon me
and say you've taken pleasure in my service to you
This song, a tribute to C. S. Lewis, is a distortion of what he believed and taught. As the Chronicles of Narnia show, Lewis held the belief of mainstream Christianity that it is faith in the work of Jesus on our behalf that brings us under God's approving smile, not anything we can do.
Another bit of Assembly teaching shows up in "Fire Eyes":
i want to overcome
and you can't take away my fire'
many mighty men have fallen by your bloody sword
many burning lights are dimmed to darkness at your word
Notice that the believers here, the burning lights who have given in to temptation, end up "dimmed to darkness". This is an Assembly teaching that means they end up in outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth because they didn't "overcome".
Newsboys song, "Where You Belong," shows a
clear contrast to the Remedy lyrics quoted above.
I was numb until he touched me.
I was deaf until he heard.
I was senseless 'til I met the one
- Chorus -
Turn your eyes
Turn your eyes
Turn your eyes
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
It seems that the earlier Remedy songs reflect more influence of Assembly aberrant teaching than songs written after 2003. We hope that Remedy's involvement with other Christian artists, like the Newsboys, will have a positive effect on their message. This seems to be the case, judging from the program notes on their album, Rip Open the Skies.
It would be great if the churches they visit could be discerning and ask them not so sing 'Daystar' or 'Clive Staples', which express a lack of assurance of salvation.
Update 2005: Here is the clear gospel in one of Remedy Drive's more recent songs that were sent to us by a fan. It's great! Let's hope they keep going in this direction.
"King of Failures " - David Zach, 2005
by your side i can be rightstanding in your eyes now
by your words i can be made new make me alive now
you came into a broken race
king of failures, took my place
you were bruised
you took great pains for me to breathe now
i’m not a slave
you took my chains and set me free now
king of failures took my place now
i stand upright before your face somehow
"Come Up", "Break" and "Upgrade" are not so clear if you understand them from the Assembly mindset. We hope Remedy has been delivered from that uncertainty, and now have a firm grasp on the truth that Jesus was making a distinction between believers and unbelievers when he spoke about the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the tares. "The Sky's Alive" is terrific!
Dave Zach says about "Come Up", "Here is the paradox: being as disenchanted as i am with the facade I see around me, it would be very easy to just continue being part of it instead of truly responding to the call to be separate from it all. We can be the called out and set apart." Dave writes effectively about disenchantment with materialistic culture in the song "Statues", but in "Come Up" there are many Christian images, suggesting disenchantment with hypocrisy and materialism among believers. Biblically, a better response to this is a positive renewal of burning love for God and neighbor, rather than negative rejection of perceived brethren in Christ and uncertainty whether you've done enough to qualify for the "right side".
"Come Up " - David Zach, 2005
To hear the trumpet sound
with no burning wick with no wedding gown
On your right side
on your right side
There's tares amongst the wheat
and goats amongst the sheep
On your right side
am I on your right side
Come away – I'll separate my people
Come away – I'll separate my own
Smoke stacks and glass walls
whitewashed tombs in stained glass halls
On your right side
on your right side
Called out and set apart not country club not super-mart
On you right side
are we on your right side
Come away – I'll separate my people
Come away – I'll separate my own
Come out from them all my people
Come out come out now and I will receive you
Come away – I'll separate my people
Come away – I'll separate my own
"Break" - David Zach, 2005
you call me out I don’t hear a sound
you call me up but I’m on the ground
and I don’t want to be left outside
when you come to take your bride
you said you’d come to take your bride
you said you’d break the dawn
can you hear my song – how long
you said you’d break the day
can you hear me say – how long
under seven thunders one man fails
under seven layers of skin and scales
if i could touch the hem then i'd be made new
when the grass is wet with dew
i think the grass is wet with dew
i don’t want to banished
expelled repelled ignored denied
outside castle walls stand so tall
i’ve heard a call but i’m on the fallen side outside
"Upgrade" - David Zach, 2005
we’re still sowing in the finite fields
we’re so content to live under a curse
we’re still fabricating paradise
with the thorns, with the flies and dirt
hold out for the upgrade, man
let go of your sinking sand
this bent world’s not the promised land
this feeble frame’s not meant to stand
this is just the flesh it’s just the blood
it’s really not, it’s not that tough
the bruised the fragile, cut up, scratched and scarred
it’s just the feeble – just the feeble stuff
"The Sky's Alive" - Philip and David Zach, 2005
it's dark outside but truth is beautiful
it's warmth in the night
the curse is healed when day breaks colorful
what a sight
it's coming, i feel the sunrise
it's coming, it's coming down
the faded sky is tearing away
these fires are not for light
the feeble eyes are waiting for day
the sky's alive tonight
i'll build my home upon this stone
even though they threw it out
it's getting late, i'm going to wait for it
the final shout
May 10, 2006--Anonymous: "I just wanted to say that I think your article concerning Remedy Drive is pretty "off". The lyrics you wrote that you felt were reasons for concern are in no way dangerous or contrary to the Bible, especially when you put them in context to the entire song. And what you wrote about their father is pure gossip and is false in its accusations. You will be accountable for the things you write...I would be careful.
God Bless you."
Editor's response: "Thank you
for your comments. We have reviewed the article again, and concluded that you may
be right about the comments on the song, "The Calling." The
complete lyrics cannot be found on the Remedy website now, so that paragraph will be deleted
from the article. I think the comments on the other songs remain valid. If the
lyrics don't cause you personally any qualms about your assurance of salvation,
"I think maybe the article is not clear enough about its intentions, since you think it is off-base. To sum it up, Remedy Drive is a talented band and may go far. Perhaps that point was not made strongly enough. But we do hope that their lyrics become more centered on what Christ has done for us and has for us, and lose the hints that Christians may not measure up to God's approval. We also hope that Mike Zach does not become a part of their performance. The comment about Mike is documented, and is not careless gossip. Meaningful public and private apologies from him would be wonderful."
May 19, 2006--Anonymous in the Midwest: "I wonder if anyone would doubt that the collapse of the Assembly was the break that Remedy Drive needed. Under the control of G. Geftakys' ministry their options would have been limited. I know that their "future" was a topic of interest in many discussions of the Worker's.
"I have no argument that these young men are very talented and should go a long way in the CCM arena. I just hope that Mike doesn't try to control them, though, IMO they have tasted their freedom. For their sake, I hope they recognize what has happened. I believe that your comments were justified on this site, especially regarding Mike."
May 25, 2006--Another anonymous comment: "Remedy Drive is popular because they are such gifted musicians, but most people don't realize what they are actually singing about. I have great concerns about their theology. They were raised to believe that you initially receive Christ by faith, but that the Kingdom, its rewards, its privileges, eternal closeness to Christ...are all things that are earned by good works. Christians who don't demonstrate true faith by living life on a higher plane will have their part in the condemnation of the unbeliever. Some of Remedy's lyrics powerfully describe the mystical struggle towards perfection perpetuated by cults on their members, rather than the Christian message of a life at peace with God because of Christ."
May 26, 2006--From another Anonymous: "I've been listening and watching this site and others related to if for 2+ years. Still the same old...same old. Most of what I hear, or the feeling I've been left with from day one, is condemnation and judgmental attitudes towards so many people. Has anyone ever thought of giving these men and women a chance to heal so they can make apologies etc. to people they may have hurt?
Don't you realize these people were under tremendous pressure and control for years, some 3 decades? Their minds were saturated with GG theology and control. This was their life. Any psychologist will tell you these people were traumatized the most. It's amazing that most of these people are still in their right mind.
I'm still trying to get my balance after 3 years. All of the anger and humiliating comments made by the greater part of the website's participants remind me of the lashes I saw in the movie The Passion. There is a season for everything, including healing for those you have so skillfully shredded.
I've not seen anything positive about any of the men and women you accuse. Did they ever help any of you? They helped me in many cases. I'm not saying they were perfect in all they, did but remember the power they served under. So much has been said to be ashamed about. I agree revealing GG's ministry was a good thing, but must we continue to try and find the speck in your brothers eye and not see the log in your own?
The Remedy articles are a good example of the continued attack. So now you are going to dissect every line to try and find fault? If you're going to do that, start looking at current lyrics of the popular Christian bands. They all have faults here and there. Now that you are seeing good things come out of people who were involved with GG, the butchering begins.
Remember, God is sovereign. Did he make a big mistake to let so many of us become involved with GG? Has God's purpose and plan for your life been destroyed by this man's ministry? How narrow is the mind of so many to believe so. I have so much more to say, but this is enough for now. May God have mercy on us all.
Still healing and believing God each moment,
May 26--The Editor emailed the following reply to Anonymous:
Thank you for your comments. We are glad you have found balm in Gilead and have not been stumbled in your faith in the goodness of God. Unfortunately, many former members of the Assembly are not sharing that experience yet. Former members still deserve to be heard, we feel, even though it means more criticism of former leaders, because they are working through the effects of the code of silence enforced by the leadership. We are hoping that continuing to publish articles on a variety of topics, in addition to their stories, is bringing a more balanced feeling to the website.
It is true that former leaders under G. Geftakys were under tremendous pressure and control, and were very traumatized. We have a lot of sympathy--we were among them for 20 years. We would have to observe, though, that even very soon after the height of the Assembly crisis, in March, 2003, Mike Zach and Mark Sjogren in Omaha were able to make very clear public and private apologies to someone whom they had badly treated. This is acknowledged on this website by the person who had been wronged. Read his article to see positive actions reported when it is warranted. We still hope for further apologies from these men to others who were wronged.
In regard to Remedy Drive, we have said all we plan to say as editors of the website, but we will continue to publish further comments from readers. Thanks for your contribution. Our intention in the article is not just to criticize some of the old Remedy lyrics, but to call for better new songs from them in the future. The same could and is being done elsewhere for other Christian bands, but it is beyond the scope of this website.
Grace and peace to you in abundance.
May 27, 2006--Mark Campbell also replied to the Editor about the last anonymous comment above:
I would like to make some observations on this last comment. It would be wonderful if this view of his could be discussed at length in a fair, honest manner that is characterized by good will. So I will begin, by observing that this anonymous person, whom I shall call "Sam", sees only judgmentalism, condemnation and butchering in what he has read here.
He feels that people like former leaders need to be given a chance to heal before they are called to give account for their past. This presupposes that healing comes from not facing up to one's sins. This is not a biblical assumption, and is not good for the leaders involved, such as Mike Zach.
I don't know where those that share Sam's view find their biblical justification for such an idea, but can guess that it comes from the erroneous view that repentance from church leaders is only a private and personal issue.
Maybe he also feels that since the group is now defunct it no longer falls under the biblical directive re. church leaders, but I don't think this is correct either. This is why it would be great to have a continuing constructive conversation re. what the bible teaches in this regard, if he is open to such a discussion.
The Bible teaches that leaders are more responsible, not less, and though their level of inner damage indeed is greater, avoiding honest repentance will only tend to perpetuate a lack of healing vs. bringing about opportunity for recovery.
Jesus, Paul, etc. were very direct and harsh towards those "not walking according to the truth", and did not accept Sam's notion of non-judgmentalism. Such straight forward calling to repentance was given in the spirit of bringing blessing to the soul which is out of the way, and to help those hurt by the wrong committed.
I think Peter would have had grounds, if Sam's position were correct, to have in anger rejected Paul's calling him to task (described in Gal. 2) re. his conduct in Antioch. I think Peter probably felt great humiliation for being called out publicly as he was by Paul, but it seems he had the humility to accept the correction. This is proof that Peter was serving God, and not his ego, as these former leaders mostly did in the Assembly. This is something these former leaders need to really face and be honest about.
It is a basic misunderstanding of the biblical concept of recovery via repentance to call what you have written re. Mike Zach as being "judgmental and critical". What you offer on the site is totally in the spirit of what God intends when he insists that we not sweep past sins under the rug in the hope that someday these individuals somehow find the courage to do what is right.
Re. any "help these former leaders gave us while in the group.": We can all remember, even from GG, rare moments of good bible teaching, good counsel, and even acts of kind helpfulness from time to time.
This defense that Sam makes for the former leaders to escape accountability is a very dangerous one, and thoroughly unbiblical. It attempts to blur moral distinctions that can lead to disastrous ends. It attempts to excuse accountability for specific evil acts based on the fact that the perpetrator did not always do these bad things, and might even have done good from time to time.
Would Sam advocate allowing a murderer to escape judgment based on the fact that he had saved many lives in his practice as a doctor prior to the killing? The answer is obvious, and comes from a biblical view of ethics that stands in contrast to Sam's view of "forgive and forget."
The false teachers that Paul talks about in Galatians were not totally wrong in what they taught, but were off in a very crucial area which Paul warned would cause great harm to the condition of those that accepted it. I'm sure many of these false teachers had moments where what they offered was good direction.
Assembly leaders, under GG's direction, were involved in promoting a system that was harmful for those involved and clearly did things that were out of God's will. These are serious issues that must be cleared between those that were victims of their abusive tactics.
Some of these former leaders may have had twinges of conscience, and did not agree with these abusive tactics of GG, but to remain leaders they could not make their opposition public. Such individuals do not win a reprieve for their silent condemnations, as only those having the courage to speak out and take the consequences are worthy of commendation.
Many examples, such as what happened in Nazi Germany, illustrate what it means to be on the right/wrong side of the issue re. being manipulated as a former leader into violating your conscience, vs. having the courage to resist that manipulation. The Silas character in The DaVinci code is an example of being manipulated by religious authorities to do evil deeds.
The only path to recovery from giving into "the psychological pressures" of GG types is an honest coming clean of one's cowardice, vs. a continued attempt to avoid responsibility for one's actions.
June 10, 2006 Editor: Thanks, Mark. Portions of this discussion also appear following the article, Apology. Would "Sam" or anyone else like to comment on the issue of calling for further apologies from former leaders? We have said all we plan to say as editors of the website, but we will continue to publish further comments from readers. Thanks for your contributions.
August 3, 2008 Here is a video of the cover song of Remedy's album "Daylight Is Coming." This year Remedy Drive signed a contract with Word Records, which is a big deal in the Christian music world. Because of this, we hope there is less likelihood that Mike Zach will be able to piggyback on their concerts to reinvent his own ministry. However, we have heard that he has preached at concerts where existing Assemblies are located.
August 8, 2008 Anonymous comment on Remedy Drive: "As someone who grew up in the Assembly for 18 years, I understand the mind warp that can develop after years of oppressive, hypocritical teaching. My hope for this band is that they also come to fully understand and embrace the true law of liberty that the New Testament teaches and realize to a greater extent their creative gifts as well as the awesome love of God."