Friday, April 24, 2009
Last night my wife and I had the honor of attending the 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards. This was a very good time in that we got to see some live performances by some artists that we really like. It was really cool to see the set changes during commercials and how they must have worked on the choreography for many hours so that the needed equipment and props would be ready in a matter of minutes. I was impressed.
The night did have a few notable moments. One being Carrie Prejean’s introduction of Mercy Me. She received sustained applause for her recent answer during the 2009 Miss USA Pageant. The pageant judge, Perez Hilton whom is gay, asked her about her opinion on states permitting gay marriage. Also a notable moment for me was the performance by The Blind Boys of Alabama with Mac Powel. This was a great performance by one of today’s top Christian artists and a legendary gospel group.
One thing that was highly noticeable was the attire of some those attending, or lack thereof. This was a Christian event, but if you stood the attendees next to those that attend any other awards show – you wouldn’t be able to tell some of them apart. It really makes me wonder if this same revealing attire is worn to these people’s church services. I constantly had to turn my head to avoid being shocked by what the person heading my way was wearing. I had to alter my route back to my car so I would not be walking behind this one young lady that looked like she had taken the dress off of her Barbie doll and put it on herself. It was so high cut that it would have been short on a toddler. Sadly that is the state of what “Christian America” looks like and shows a lot of their values and blindness to what is acceptable and what is not.
I had already read that Paducah native, Steven Curtis Chapman, was going to perform his song “Cinderella”. This was because the song received increase airplay as it took on new meaning after the untimely death of his daughter. This song I have always had issues with being played on Christian radio. This is in the same vein as “Butterfly Kisses” and “Letters From War”, they are NOT Christian songs, they may be meaningful songs but they do not belong on Christian radio that should be playing music that exalts the Lord. That is a big issue with me, so much that if I am listening to the radio and that kind of song comes on I will change the station or switch to a CD. My wife, who is well versed on my stance to these kinds of songs, said “Ha! Now you HAVE to listen to it.” What a joker she is. Admittedly it was a touching performance and I did get a little soggy eyed. But it still is not a Christian song; I am just compassionate about the Chapman’s situation and cannot imagine what they have gone through.
There was one moment that really put a screeching halt to the evening for me. It was when GRITS and AJ Styles came out to present the Short Form Music Video. I have heard of Styles, but honestly did not know that he was a Christian. GRITS on the other hand I knew professed Christ and had seen them during Shoutfest one year. I had some red flags thrown back then during their performance and last night was more or less the final nail in the coffin. The lead rapper (is that a real term?), Coffee, made an off color remark, no pun intended. Styles was acting as if he could not get he envelope open when Bonafide (the second in charge of droppin’ a rhyme) took the envelope to open it. Coffee then said “Once again – black man savin’ a white man – shout out to Obama.” He had previously told Styles “You black by association man, you black by association” as a joke about the way Styles was talking. First of all these were very racist remarks. I was very taken back that a professing Christian makes a race division, especially a former backup dancer (GRITS were former dancers) for dcTalk, the Christian group that really broke down barriers. The Obama remark just really put the exclamation point on his words. I wonder what part of Obama’s values he holds closest to. Killing babies in the womb or those that have made it through the birth canal and are then brutally murdered out of convenience? Or maybe it’s the fact that Obama himself attended a racist church for 20+ years and he feels a special kinship with him. Or maybe it was just a vain attempt for Coffee to reach out for an invitation to the White House. Who knows? I just know that politics and racism hold no place in a Christian event.
There were a few winners that did truly glorify God in their acceptance speeches, one being Steven Curtis Chapman for the Artist of the Year. He said (paraphrase alert) that his family were thrown into a situation they never would have signed up for, but has been an opportunity to share their hope in Christ to many more people than would have been possible otherwise. It was very well handled and I appreciated the fact that he did glorify God through his words and through this tragedy.
Overall it was a good time, all except the drive back and getting up at 5:30 this morning for work. God was good today and allowed me to not feel tired and have an eventless day at work. God is so good and I deserve it so little, actually I do not deserve any of His grace, but He saw fit to extend that saving grace upon me. Please pray for the people that claim to be Christian but live like the world, dress like the world and hold the world closer than they do their relationship with Christ. I was reminded of that large piece of the population last night. Please pray that God will open their eyes to what a real relationship with Him is and not this false hope they have in a savior they created in their own image.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
One topic that has really stuck with me over the past week or two is “Christian” artists covering secular songs. Be it on a CD or in concert, it doesn’t really matter. I guess I was first exposed to this with DC Talk doing “Jesus is Still Alright”, an extension and not really a cover of “Jesus is Just Alright” by the Doobie Brothers and the Byrds. More recently while attending an unnamed traveling Christian Concert Tour, I saw DecemberRadio do a cover of Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son” and EleventySeven do a cover of “The Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way”. The later was done purely for comedic value (and was quite funny), but a cover nonetheless.
The question is….. Is this acceptable? Does this glorify God? Is this edifying to Christians? To those questions I would have to give it a big “NO”. Admittedly, my ears did perk a bit when I heard DecemberRadio plug in to a Kansas song. Why? Because at the time I had spent 30sumodd years of my life listening to that kind of music, (I even saw Kansas in concert in the early 80’s) as well as a lot of heavier artists and none glorified God. So when I got home I had to look into Kansas a little further. Come to find out a couple of the guys are/ were professing Christians and even released some Christian CD’s at one point.
I also did a quick search of other Christian artists that have covered secular songs. One that came to mind before my search was Third Day covering U2’s “With Or Without You” during the medley on their “Offerings II” release. (I’ll just firmly state without apology that U2 is NOT a Christian band, and until they denounce their ecumenical beliefs there is not much hope in me seeing them any differently, and no I am not a Pharisee, just a Bible believing Christian that happens to BELIEVE what the bible says and not the mainstream… sorry for that PSA). If you go here there is a list of some songs that have been covered by “Christian” artists.
Personally I frown heavily on someone that calls his or her self a Christian and sings a Beatles’ song. I mean, what’s the process like? Do you just think “Oh, that will be cool to sing” or do you look past all the worldliness and sinfulness of that type of artist and think that you might be able to draw a person to Christ using a song by somebody they have heard before? Let me emphatically point out that it is the Father that draws people to the Son John 6:44 – not a cheesy cover song. One song that really popped off of the list was “Crazy Train” covered by Jars Of Clay in concert. Who would have thunk it? JOC is a favorite of mine, Ozzy Osborne used to be, back in my sinful life. In fact I was introduced to Ozzy at Youth Camp at my former church. Now how’s that for irony? But an Ozzy song? A Beatles song?
It's also increasingly alarming that secular songs are making it to “worship” services as well. In fact see below for a “worship” band at New Spring Church covering AC/DC’s Highway To Hell on Easter Morning. Does the word Blasphemy come to mind to anyone but me? From what I see on the web, this is a common thing to do now. Maybe not at this shocking level, but Coldplay is a name that keeps coming up. So it’s a downward spiral (and no I’m not quoting Nine Inch Nails) into the pit, or toilet. It is getting progressively worse as one “church” sees what another is doing and they then push it a little further. All the while the “pastor” sits back and bangs his head as the congregation becomes larger and his numbers get bigger. That is typical as well in that most modern pastors will do or say whatever it takes to fill his pews. They have even come up with a different gospel. I think scripture says a lot on that subject. Galatians 1:6-9 hits it dead center and says that who does this will be cursed. Yikes. I’m really not up to being cursed by God. Actually the Greek word from the original text is anathema, which means doomed or more bluntly let them be damned. Double yikes! Just look at all the false gospels that have proliferated our times and I will not go into detail in this posting, but just check out my other posts for details.
So what is my point? To sum it up in a few words, DON’T DO IT! DON’T CONDONE IT! God has been really gracious to me and opened my eyes to a lot that I had been deceived about. In my false conversion state (not Kentucky) I thought it was perfectly okay for me to listen to the secular artists that these “Christian” bands are covering. I also thought it was okay for me to drink, smoke, fornicate, look at porn, cuss, lie, steal pens from my employer and a million other things. But as the Lord opened my eyes that I was sinning against Him, that I had created a god in my image that accepted my sins and that I had made many false professions through my years that I needed to repent (stop doing these things and turn to God) and trust in Him and His Word. When I did that I began to see things a lot differently, you might say that I became a new creature 2 Cor. 5:17.
Just seek the Lord in this area. I did. You know what else? As I did He began to show me that some professing Christian artist might not be. I am cutting down my listening of a few certain groups. These claiming to be Christians and they do not glorify God in their craft, they sing about the same things the groups on secular stations sing about. So be ready for a little pruning if you seek His council.
In the mean time, look at this perversion of a pulpit area at New Spring Church and pray that these people will see how Holy and Righteous God is and pray that they will come to know God and not just about Him, that they will put away their god that allows this type of sin the penetrate a church building.
Friday, April 10, 2009
While reading Matthew’s account of Christ’s crucifixion in chapters 26-28 this morning a particular part seemed to jump off of the page at me. It was in Matt. 27:3-5, when Judas saw the consequences for what he had done to the Lord. His betrayal.
Judas had a worldly sorrow; this was after seeing Jesus bound before Pilate at His trial. Judas had planned this all out, perhaps thinking that Jesus would perform a miracle and escape from the Romans clutches. See Judas believed that Jesus was the Son of God, but He did not trust in that. Judas’ sorrow extended only to the point of his situation at that moment, he was sorry that Jesus was on trial, he was sorry that Jesus may die. Matt. 27:3 says that Judas “repented himself”, does that mean that he had an inwardly sorrow, a worldly sorrow, but not a God centered sorrow? Did Judas repent and then believe UPON the Son? Apparently not, as he then ran out and hung himself, committing yet another sin against God. Godly sorrow will not lead to self-destruction; it is yet just another form of self-centeredness, albeit an irreversible one.
How often these days do people have this fleeting type of sorrow? Much too often in my estimation. In my area people claim to be Christians, because of one particular moment in their life (most often childhood), they made a profession of faith, said a prayer, heard a powerful message and were temporarily sorry for there sins. The only problem, which is huge, is that they did not repent of their sins, they did not believe UPON the Son of God. They too threw down their silver, stormed out of the church and continued to kill themselves with their sinful lifestyle. Sin brings death and these poor souls that are deceived are slowly killing themselves, all the while thinking that they once “came to Christ”.
What they came to is a false assurance by a “pastor”, youth leader or other professing Christian. They were declared saved because they looked sorry, felt sorry and jumped through the hoops of saying a prayer and standing before the church with tears in their eyes (a sure sign of salvation?). So what’s missing there? Repentance and trust! These people are still lost; they return to their lifestyle without hesitation because they were declared saved and now live under the grace of God and are eternally secure because of the momentary sorrow they felt. But their hope is salvation from hell only, not their sinful lifestyle as well. They did not get the gospel presented to them of Christ’s atoning work on the cross for THEIR sins. They missed the part on sanctification and only heard “there are angels singing in heaven as this dear brother accepted Christ as his personal savior”. They were deemed saved by a slick preacher that’s only concern is bigger numbers, larger attendance or more offerings. My heart cries out to these deceived people, because I was one of them for much of my life.
So what is the resurrection story? It is the greatest “story” (for lack of better terms) in mans existence. That the God that created everything, paid the ultimate price for mankind’s sins on a Roman cross 2,000 years ago. He shed His precious blood for me, for you and for any that trust UPON Him. That KNOW that He is the Son, that KNOW that He shed His blood for their sins, that REPENT of those sins and turn to God for everything, that turn from their sinful life, that count themselves dead to this world and alive to Gods desires, the God they hated 2 minutes before is now everything to them, they see their sins as vile works and fall upon their knees in total trust in the God that can and will deliver them. They do not continue to put Christ on the cross as they continue to live life centered on themselves and the lusts of this world. The God that saved them would not allow it, He sanctifies! Praise Him for that. How much power do they think that God has? Do they not think that God, which spoke the universe into existence, cannot change their heart? Change their desires? Do they doubt God’s ability to do such things? Sadly many do think that way and continue to live in sin, in a self-justifying manner that excuses their sins, because God “loves them” and “accepts them” as they are. That is a true statement, but must be continued like this – “The God that loves me, that accepts me as I am - then justifies me by the blood of His sinless Son Jesus Christ, He will continue His perfect work in me and sanctify me through His grace and mercy and forgiveness as He changes me to become more like His Son every day. The sin I loved I will hate and the Lord of all I hated I will now love with all that I am and all that I ever will be.
Is that how you see God’s salvation of a sinner? Do you hold precious Christ and His blood? Do you forsake this world and turn to God daily for His Word, His Truth and His Righteousness? Or do you hold on to a fleeting prayer many years ago? Do you think your words saved you? That a momentary sorrow is what saved you? That a preacher or another person’s declaration saved you? That being baptized, saying penance or sitting in a pew every Sunday save you? That your parents are Christians, so that makes you one too? That the USA is considered (until recently) to be a Christian Nation, so that makes you a Christian?
Search your heart, examine your motives and your beliefs as to why you believe yourself to be a Christian, then seek Him in His Word and see if it lines up with Scripture. Nothing but the grace of God will save someone, not a prayer or profession. Where does your trust lie? In your own words or in God?