I have something for you to read, kids… and bear with me. I know it’ll be mildly annoying because it is SO long, but if you care anything for Christian music then it may make you kind of sad.
1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the name of the LORD!
Praise him, you who serve the LORD,
2 you who serve in the house of the LORD,
in the courts of the house of our God.
3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good;
celebrate his wonderful name with music.
4 For the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself,
Israel for his own special treasure.
5 I know the greatness of the LORD–
that our Lord is greater than any other god.
6 The LORD does whatever pleases him
throughout all heaven and earth,
and on the seas and in their depths.
7 He causes the clouds to rise over the earth.
He sends the lightning with the rain
and releases the wind from his storehouses.
8 He destroyed the firstborn in each Egyptian home,
both people and animals.
9 He performed miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt;
Pharaoh and all his people watched.
10 He struck down great nations
and slaughtered mighty kings—
So, I haven’t posted the whole chapter, but so far in this it looks like God’s people are praising Him with music. Why though? Well, because He is good and great, of course… and there are more specific reasons for praising Him in the context of this psalm… i.e.: God chose this group of people to be His very own special people; He rescued them from Egypt and showed them His miracles; (in the parts I haven’t posted) He gave the nation a home; He destroyed their enemies…
And there are some more reasons for praising God that have to do with His character, the first two are in the part I didn’t post: God is famous (i.e. everyone knows He’s there even if they won’t admit that the “something” they sense is God); God is eternal… but ALSO God is “GREATER THAN ANY OTHER”. Greater than any other “god” specifically, but I think that any other “being” can be another way to look at it… and since God is that great, verse 6 is also true—
6 The LORD does whatever pleases him
throughout all heaven and earth,
and on the seas and in their depths.
God does whatever He likes. Whatever He likes. He can do anything (that is in line with His character) and use anything because HE CREATED IT. Everything that you see and hear and sense… even the things that can’t be experienced sensually… like your mind that you are using to translate these pixels into thoughts and words in your little brain, and your spirit that He designed to belong to Him… He made all of those things. He could do whatever he pleases with them.
Now I pause for a second.
Is it unclear that God can do what He wants? Do you (I am assuming most of my audience are my Christian friends and family) really think that there is something in existence that God could NOT subdue or bend to His purposes? If there is something that inherently God cannot bend to His will then God cannot be all-powerful. I happen to believe that He is though, and I’d like to ask you to look at something before you read the second part of this entry.
Feel free to peruse this site at your own leisure… as long as you like… or as long as you can stand it.
I realize though that anger is an inappropriate response to it. I won’t lie to you though—I know I am writing partly out of anger and I am trying to stop that because I know it’s not right to react that way… but I do have some things to say about the subject.
First of all, I think that the view of God that these people have is too small. Let’s face it: most of our views on God ARE too small—we can only comprehend so much! But… if God is not the master of music in that He can bend it to His will and use it for His purposes, then He is not a powerful God. Music should ALWAYS be weaker than God, whether it is Christian music or “satanic” music. God should wield power through the music that is made to glorify or to tell about Him, and He should wield power OVER the music that tries to degrade what He has done.
I admit this: not all Christian music is the best. Sometimes—gasp!—the artists put out messages that are questionable. I know because I listen to it and I don’t agree with every single song on every CD that I own. The artists are human and they’ll turn out imperfect products. That’s what you and I are: human and imperfect! If we were able to turn out perfect messages about God, what work would He have for us to make us grow and work through our own misunderstandings with Him and issues in our lives?
I think that not only is the view of God having no influence in “Christian rock” or over secular rock belittling God, but when it’s put together with an idea that to be Christian you have to give a perfect message… woah! That’s impossible!
If anyone ever reads their bible (again, I’ll not lie to you—I skipped the “so-and-so begot so-and-so”, but I’ve read it through once in it’s entirety and I’m working to do it again) then they would find that… wow! Moses and David and Solomon and Paul and Peter and Jeremiah and Elijah and—well, pretty much everyone—had problems! They struggled! They were HUMAN. Some of this even comes out in their writing! Isn’t it amazing?
I think that if I read the bible and everyone had lived perfect lives after their encounter with God, I would have gotten so discouraged that I probably would have given it up and I would not be writing this right now. Know why that is? Because I’m human and I’m not perfect either, so to know that I’m not perfect and then read about all these people who were… well, it would be crushing because I love God and I try hard to keep learning and getting closer to Him.
That’s what Christian music does… it has wonderful songs about the good times a Christian has… being with God and being blessed… but it also relates the times where it’s hard because we don’t fit into the world and because sometimes we feel overwhelmed or worthless or like we’re not loved by God anymore because of this or that. We get the goodness of God related to us in that too: His mercy, His forgiveness, His strength, His love, His peace… the assurance that all will be well someday and we will have that perfection at last.
Don’t get me wrong… I love some of the older hymn-type of songs. When I actually DO play my guitar, I like to play them because I like the sound of the melody… but I don’t think that could have really done it for me before I was a Christian.
Again, I won’t lie to you… I used to really not care so much about God. Amazing, right? No. I wasn’t a bad kid, I guess… I liked to draw and watch cartoons and be on the computer doing stupid stuff like playing “math junior” or tetris… I liked animals. But… yes, I didn’t care about God and I hated church for various reasons… I was glad when we kind of dropped off going. But then my neighbor Bret convinced me and my friend Katy to go to his church… so we did, and afterwards we mercilessly made fun of it because we thought it was so cheesy. I don’t think that the church alone would have really gotten me interested, but thankfully God was already working on me before that experience.
You see… (ah, I shall post my testimony) Bret had a thing for bumper stickers and one of them said 88.7. Well, we were curious and my mommy changed the radio to that so we could find out about it, and I hated it! I hated this stupid Christian rock music. It was dumb and nobody knew who theses bands were that were being played (ah yes… back when RadioU still played Jars of Clay, Justin McRoberts, and… uh… SonicFlood), so I felt stupid talking about it to anyone…which was tough because I talked to very few people. But yes, I hated Christian music. Then, through a string of odd events, I won a CD from RadioU.
Now… I hardly ever won anything, but now I had this CD I won from a real-live radio station. How cool is that? Suddenly it wasn’t so bad anymore… of course I was going to listen to the CD! And I did. And I got to liking this band called Five Iron Frenzy… track four on the CD was called “Suckerpunch”, and for any FIF fans out there: you know this song. It was kind of cheesy… kind of upbeat… but if you’re one of those geeky kids who has no friends, then you can feel on a very real level that the cheesy and upbeat sounds aren’t how you feel when you’re in that situation…
So to make this already-long-story short, it was THIS SONG that really introduced me to a God who knew me and who wanted to know people like me. God wanted geek kids. That was so cool to me… and I know you could say that “well, you could’ve gotten that from the bible”, but I seriously doubt that quoting Psalm 147:3 from the King James (“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds”. This is for you “KJ only” people…) would have impacted me and led me to believe that God cared.
I’m not saying that songs have a value equal to the bible, or that the King James is a bad translation and I don’t like it (I rather enjoy talking in KJV, heh…). What I’m trying to get at is this: I know me and God knows me (better than I know me, in fact!). I don’t think I would have necessarily equated that verse with “God cares about the fact that you’re lonely and everything is bad for you… and He’s going to fix it”. I wasn’t really anything special… so how would God know me? How could He prove that so I could know that He knew and so I could know that He was really going to do something about it?
Well, guess what. God took matters into His own hands (as though they were ever out of His hands!) and instead of taking the time to establish me with Christians who knew that God was going to do this and who could point to a book I cared nothing for (the Bible) and say “see this? It’s true, so you should believe it because it says so”—instead of doing that—God got me in touch with something He knew I was already being immersed in and He practically pushed the message that He wanted me to hear right into my hands. He had to.
I know I said I wasn’t a bad kid, but let me again say this: I know me and God knows me. I do not believe that I would have made it through high school without Him… and He had to get me when He did: before I got too tangled up and went further in my attitude of not caring for Him. I know a few different paths that I might have taken (which I shall not mention) and I have an idea of where I might be now if God had not intervened in the way that He did. But He got me and I belong to Him now… because He got into my life through a neighbor, a bumper sticker, a radio station, a cell phone, a compilation CD, and CHRISTIAN MUSIC.
This was the first thing that God impressed on me after I had become a Christian and had been one long enough (maybe about a year) to fully understand and appreciate what it was that He did in my situation. God impressed upon me that everything, EVERYTHING He made is His and He can use whatever He wants to accomplish His desire.
God wanted me to know Him, He used what He wanted to get me to come close to Him, and He did it all of HIS own will… He made these things work out and He did it at His own expense. He did it, knowing that people would say that He couldn’t and knowing they would say that the means He used to achieve His end were “unclean” and of Satan… Jesus Christ knew all of this. People were telling Him that He couldn’t do things the way He was going to all throughout His life… but He still loved those people: the ones He was reaching out to, and the ones who said that He couldn’t. He knows what will work on what person and when their hearts are ripe for Him to harvest… and He does it.
I also think that the whole argument of the methods used to preach the gospel is kind of… um… maybe overblown? I mean, I’ve seen people come into a relationship with God by way of the internet… and it’s pretty impersonal. True, there needs to be personal interaction with other Christians sooner or later… but ultimately it’s all about what happens between God and His creature as they seek His forgiveness. It’s not about whether or not you “said the prayer” at a concert or at an alter call or with somebody on instant messenger… or by yourself. It’s about knowing your Creator and what He did for you, and taking that step towards Him in faith. I don’t think Christ died so that we could bicker over the best way to convey His message… because He already told us that, too. He told us so many times to love one another, and that when we are acting out of love (and I mean a godly love that is grounded in Him and the bible… not grounded in “good intentions”) that we are preaching His message. So simple, but SO hard!
See… I said “the prayer” all alone in my room one day and yes, in this entry I did go on for some time about what God used to get hold of me… but all-in-all, the means aren’t so important. What’s important is this—that “the God of everlasting comfort believed in me. [He] loved me when I was faithless. He still died for me”.
Later days & God bless, kids.