Posts Tagged ‘christian music’

Most homeless people have already heard about Jesus. And most of them like Jesus. They just don’t care too much for Christians. Why is that? Because many of them believe Christians are unloving, mean, angry, hateful, bigoted, homophobic, judgmental and hypocritical. Who of us would want to join up with any group that met those descriptions?

There are many wonderful ministries that focus on the needs of the homeless. And I believe that Christians SHOULD help the homeless in practical ways, whenever they have the means and the ability to do so.

Sadly, however, there are many Christians, whether they are church-based or acting on their own, that fall short when it comes to ministering to the homeless.

Many have been taught to believe that the homeless are either lazy, mentally ill, and/or addicted to drugs and alcohol, and therefore are homeless by choice.

But the homeless are people just like us—sin-stained, fallible human beings who will either spend eternity with God and his saints, or be destroyed with the devil and the rest of the wicked.

So many Christians today feel that they need to evangelize the homeless—That it’s up to them to save these wretched souls. I know that this may sound unscriptural to many, but nothing could be further from the truth!

Jesus told his disciples to go into the world and make DISCIPLES of all nations. He did not tell them to go into the world and evangelize all nations. It is God who draws all men unto himself by his Holy Spirit.

So many times I have witnessed Christians stand behind a pulpit at a homeless shelter and tell the people there a story of how Jesus has blessed them in so many ways, and if they would just accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, he would set them free from the bondage of drugs and alcohol and sin.

This has almost always failed to convince people to follow Jesus because you will come across as having a “big me, little you” attitude. Besides, many of those “wretched sinners” are not there because they want to listen to you—They are there because they want the meal that comes afterward.

If you’re going to share the gospel with the homeless, know that many of them are more wise, more spiritual and more content than you are. The best way to share the gospel with people, (homeless or not) is to become Jesus for them.

I remember in my own early days of “evangelizing” the homeless that I met a man living in a homeless shelter who was dressed rather shabbily. After sharing the gospel with him, he explained that he was already a believer and had a full time job. I asked him, “If you have a full-time job and a car why do you live here at the homeless shelter?” His answer both humbled and shamed me. He said that he wanted to live at the shelter so that he could get to know the people there so he could better minister to their needs. This man sacrificed the comfort of his own home in order to be Jesus to those around him and caused me to repent of my shameful indifference and prejudice!

Our job is not to be the Holy Spirit to the homeless. And it is not our job to save them. Almost none of these folks go to church. The church has not been kind and loving to them in their opinion. In their hour of need, whether it was when a family member who was gravely ill or died, or when they lost their job, or when they lost their home, or even when they ended up on the street, the church was not there for them. The church was too busy sitting in a building singing praise songs and listening to sermons.

We’re not selling soap, insurance, or vacuum cleaners! So try to love people and build friendships and relationships with them. THAT is how we reach people.

Our job is only to speak the truth in love. That’s what Jesus did. There is nowhere in the New Testament where Jesus spoke down to sinners. In fact, he welcomed them with open arms. It was the religious people of his day that had a problem with the drunkards and prostitutes that surrounded him.

Awaken from your slumber, church!

Awaken and walk among the people of this world. Touch them, hug them, love them. Share the love of Jesus with them, that they may see the real Jesus—Not the Jesus they think they know. You are the church. For many of these people, you are the only church, the only Bible, the only truth they will hear. And for them, you are the hands and feet of Jesus.

And remember, just as you are Jesus to them, they are also Jesus to you.

In the midst of a very turbulent and discouraging time in our nation’s history, God intervened in a supernatural way during a five-year period from 1968 to 1973. A grass roots spiritual movement burst forth on the scene with a spiritual explosion that revolutionized millions of lives.

By most accounts, the revival of the ‘70s began in 1967 with the opening of a small storefront evangelical mission called the Living Room in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district that catered to the unchurched hippie generation of the day.

Within a short time, a number of independent Christian communities sprang up all across North America spawning a number of other Christian coffeehouses  and “street ministries” as well.

New converts began enthusiastically pointing their one-way finger heavenward and hitting the streets to tell others about a living, dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. They were baptized—many in rivers and in the ocean. They found themselves gathering informally in coffee houses where they shared testimonies about the living God. Like wildfire this move of God spread across the country from city to city. And this was before the advent of cell phones, computers, smart phones, tablets, Facebook, Twitter and other social media!

In order to proclaim the message of the gospel, these new Christians, referred to as Jesus Freaks, simply adopted existing forms of communication. Christian publications with names like Right On!, The Fish, Street Level, and Cornerstone became a fundamental component of each street Christian community.

Realizing the need to open their churches to these “Jesus Freaks”, many conservative pastors recruited hippie liaisons to their ministerial staff. People like Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel, in Santa Ana, California, soon found their churches being radically transformed.

The revival of the 60s and 70s also birthed many prolific writers such as Leonard Ravenhill, Winkie Pratney, David Wilkerson and many others who influenced many who were involved in the revival.

Another development was Jesus Music, the controversial combination of rock music and the gospel as one of the most effective—and subsequently the most lasting, result of the revival.

There has been a long legacy of Christian music connected to the Jesus movement. Jesus music, also known as Gospel Beat music in the UK, primarily began when some hippie and street musicians of the late 1960s and early 1970s converted to Christianity. They continued to play the same style of music they had played previously but began to write lyrics with a Christian message.

Many music groups developed out of this. Most notably: Barry McGuire, Second Chapter of Acts, Petra, Phil Keaggy, Randy Stonehill, Keith Green, Glenn Kaiser and the Resurrection Band, and Larry Norman. Many of these artists traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, performing in festivals held underneath giant tents.

As Christian coffeehouses and Jesus music festivals emerged as a popular alternative to popular rock music, many mainstream church-goers lamented that this Jesus Music was a spiritual compromise and a trick of the devil to entrap young people. But these pioneers of Christian music maintained that they were combating the negative influence of mainstream rock music. In an attempt to develop an apologetic for their evangelistic efforts they echoed the sentiments of reformer Martin Luther when he asked “why should the devil have all the best tunes.”

So what happened? Why did the revival of the 1970s die?Long-haired evangelists, and Jesus rock musicians were portrayed throughout national magazines like Time, Newsweek, Life, Rolling Stone, and U.S. News & World Report. In 1971 the Jesus People were the religious event of the year while ranking third in Time Magazine’s story of the year. Press articles, and other media reports all detailed various facets of what was now being called the  “Jesus movement.”

With Watergate and President Nixon’s promises to end the war in Vietnam dominating the front pages, the cynicism born of societal fears towards “cults” and their “brainwashing” techniques made evangelism a less fruitful endeavor than it once had been.

Soon those involved in the revival began to believe the world’s description of the revival as a “movement” rather than a move of God. And as the revival came to an end, Jesus People groups either disbanded, or joined the institutionalized church, following traditions of men as though they were doctrines of God. (Matthew 15:8-9; Isaiah 29:13 ) Sadly, many simply returned to their countercultural roots of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

And those who stood firm in their faith and followed the truth of God’s Word have been labeled legalistic or fanatical.

Leonard Ravenhill was one of those who were labeled too fanatical. Ravenhill argues in his book “Why Revival Tarries” that, “We do not have revival for the simple reason that we really don’t want revival. We are simply too contented, too smug, too self-satisfied, and too carnal. Our hearts are not broken and we do not earnestly long for a powerful move of God.”

Ravenhill reminds us that “As the Church goes, so goes the world. The world is in a mess because the church is in a mess. And the church is in a mess because so many of its leaders and preachers are in a mess: The tragedy of this late hour is that we have too many dead men in the pulpits giving out too many dead sermons to too many dead people.”

Until we are broken and repentant, we will see no fresh move of God’s Spirit. As Leonard Ravenhill says, “The church must first repent; then the world will break! The church must first weep; then our altars will be filled with weeping penitents.”

Like John the Baptist, Leonard Ravenhill was a voice crying in the wilderness as he continued to preach, “This generation of preachers is responsible for this generation of sinners.”

Strong words, but true. Our problem is ourselves and our spiritual leaders. We need to break up our fallow ground and seek God’s truth and his righteousness. (Hosea 10:12) That is what happened during the revival in the 70s. People rejected man’s religion and returned to the practices of the early Church.

We simply cannot keep blaming the world and others for all our troubles because In many ways, we have only ourselves to blame. So let’s humbly learn lessons from the errors of the past and seek God with passion so that he, in our time, might be merciful, and revive us again, however and through whomever he sovereignly chooses.

“From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as it is today. And now for a little while grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.” (Ezra 9:7-8)

There is no question that we are reaching a tipping point and a place of desperation in our land. I pray that God will leave us a remnant and bring a fresh move of God before the clock runs out.

 

In the parable of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells the story of a man who has two sons. The younger son asks his father to give him his portion of the family estate as an early inheritance. Typically, a son would receive his inheritance at the time of his father’s death. The fact that the younger brother instigated the early division of the family estate showed a rebellious and proud disregard for his father’s authority, not to mention a selfish and immature attitude.

Once the son receives his inheritance, he promptly sets off on a long journey to a distant land and begins to waste his fortune on wild living. But after the money runs out, a severe famine hits the country and the son suddenly finds himself in dire circumstances. Times get so hard that he even takes a job feeding pigs. He is so destitute that he even longs to eat the food assigned to the pigs. Pigs are unclean animals; so when this son took a job feeding pigs, (Even wanting to eat the garbage he was feeding them) it reveals that he had fallen as low as he could possibly go.

The young man finally comes to his senses, remembering his father and all that he had there. In humility, he recognizes his foolishness and decides to return to his father and ask for forgiveness and mercy, hoping to only become his father’s servant. Unknown to this son, his father had been patiently praying, watching and waiting for his son’s return home. The father is overjoyed by the return of his lost son and receives him back with open arms of compassion. Immediately the father turns to his servants and asks them to prepare a grand celebration feast in honor of this son.

Meanwhile, the older son is not one bit happy when he comes in from a hard day of working in the fields to discover a party going on to celebrate his younger brother’s return. The father tries to dissuade the older brother from his jealous anger explaining, “You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”

To most of us, it’s easy to view ourselves as the prodigal son. We all know enough about loss, about decisions made that led to a trail of ruin and heartache. We know what it’s like to wake up one day and realize that we have wandered far from God, how we’ve wasted our lives and what it’s like to feel lost and unable to be found. Yearning for God’s love, we replayed our life over and over in our heads thinking: “Where did I go wrong?” And like the younger son, we hope beyond hope for another chance to get it right–Another chance to start again.

This is one of Jesus’ longest parables. And because Jesus doesn’t explain the parables’ meaning, the parable lends itself to many lessons. Many sermons have been preached on how the older brother represents legalistic Christians who have lost the love of God and the joy of serving Him. But I must confess that I sometimes relate to the older brother in the story.

In the parable, the older brother is upset because the father has thrown a party to celebrate the return of his younger brother who has taken half of the father’s estate, left home and spent the money on wild living while he remained obedient to the father all these years. He can’t believe what he sees when he returns from working hard in the field. He feels cheated.

I don’t necessarily identify with the younger son in this parable. No, I am the older brother. I have watched other Christians squander what God has blessed them with as they flippantly use God’s name and live and speak as if they belong to the world.

Most of my Christian life I have only wanted to use my talents to serve God. Not to gain favor with God, but because I truly love Him so much that I want to do all I can to serve only Him. But more times than not, I have not been allowed the opportunity to do that. So when I see half-hearted Christians being blessed so much, like the older brother, I sometimes I feel cheated too. But I’m still learning and growing, so try not to be too hard on me.

Most Christians would not admit to relating to the older brother. But I think if the truth were told, our churches are full of older brothers. That’s why we need to get to a new level of repentance, a new level of renewal. We need to repent of trying to get control of God. We need to re-examine the reasons for our wanting to do good. Otherwise there will be no renewal.

The older brother reacted the way many of us react when we feel cheated by God, (Myself included) when the reality is if we have truly repented and been saved by God through Jesus, how can we even think we have been cheated? We have everything we could ever hope for–eternal life with our heavenly Father.

The father in the parable represents our Heavenly Father. God waits patiently, with loving compassion to restore us when we return to him with humble hearts. He offers us everything in his kingdom, restoring a full relationship with joyful celebration. He doesn’t even dwell on our past waywardness. The older brother in the parable should have welcomed his younger brother back with open arms just like his father did–even though it cost him half of his inheritance. That’s the kind of love God desires us to have for others.

It is not up to us to decide who receives God’s blessings because he blesses those he chooses to. (Romans 9:18) So let’s put away our jealousy and remember the way back to the Father’s house and take our seat at his table. May we dive deeply into the intimate relationship that God desires so that we may enjoy with Him everything He has.

“Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.”
(Genesis 13:13)

What was the sin of Sodom that was so great and outrageous in the eyes of God? What was the sin that so angered him, so outraged him, that he annihilated the city with fire and brimstone? Many think it was the sin of homosexuality and point to the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah found in Genesis chapters 18-19. Although Sodom is mentioned many times in both Old and New Testaments and is synonymous with great and outrageous wickedness, the truth is that Sodom’s greatest sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. (Ezekiel 16:49)

Just like Sodom, America has lost her way. She no longer knows right from wrong. She has turned away from the way of truth and light found in the Bible and followed in the way of lust, wickedness, immorality and evil. She has lost contact with Biblical moral standards – that set of attitudes, outlooks and values that the Bible represents. She has rejected God and followed his great adversary, the Devil, who is the master of illusion and deception. She has lost her faith in God and instead put her faith and confidence in the god of this world.

People have exchanged the truth of God for the false ideas, dogmas, religious traditions, doctrines of men and secular humanism. Spiritual darkness has descended on the land. The evidence is everywhere. There can be no better or more convincing evidence of this than the way the country has condoned and embraced that great sin of pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffer on our streets.

The fact that we now live in a country in which so many people view themselves as Christians and yet condone and accept behavior that is so radically at odds with the outlooks and attitudes of the Bible shows the extent to which even Christianity has become twisted, contorted, corrupted and perverted in this land.

A person is not a Christian just because he/or she calls themselves a Christian or because they are a member of some church or denomination, or because they recited some robotic prayer to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Just believing in God doesn’t make one a Christian either. Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! (James 2:19)

Christianity is about substance. It’s about what and who you really are inside. It’s about a faith and love in God that is accompanied by serious godly, upright living. It’s about an attitude and commitment of the heart–a commitment that results in virtuous, good, moral living. It’s a mind-set, a way of thinking, a philosophy, a set of outlooks, attitudes and values based on God’s Word. It’s a lifestyle against sin and a lifestyle of goodness and virtue.

The Christmas season is supposed to be about celebrating the birth of Jesus. But more than any other time of the year you will find people rushing through retail stores pushing, shoving and fighting over trinkets that will be broken or discarded within a year–while others are praying for a warm meal and a safe place for their children to sleep. A person who considers himself a Christian and sees nothing wrong with this gross depravity is deceived.

As C.S. Lewis puts it in his short essay ‘The Weight of Glory’: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

The world is hungry, lonely and hurting. It needs to know the loving, accepting God of the Bible–not the haughty, uncaring and judgmental God that we have shown the world for too long.

So instead of ignoring the poor as you mindlessly drop a few coins into the Salvation Army bucket on your way out of the store, maybe you could buy a few extra things. Take them home and wrap them up to give to a few homeless people in your city. You see, sometimes God doesn’t just want our money. Sometimes he wants us to be Jesus to someone who is hungry, lonely and hurting.

Here is what God has said regarding the poor:

“Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” (Proverbs 14:31)

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.” (Proverbs 19:17)

 

 

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (I John 1:5-7)

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

As Christians we are quick to laud the accomplishments of revivalists, evangelists and Christian musicians—creative people whose ideas have transformed our world. We celebrate the great innovators of the gospel; from Charles Finney to Billy Graham to Keith Green and Rich Mullins—viewing their work for the Lord as an asset to Christendom. We speak highly of these innovators who spoke the raw truth from the Bible and we say that we would love to follow in their footsteps.

But it’s all a lie. This is the thing about speaking God’s truth; no matter how creative or innovative you may be in presenting it, it is rarely acknowledged. Most people don’t actually like it. People are biased against boldness and creative thinking—despite all of their insistence otherwise.

The internet is filled with biographies of great men and women of God who thought outside of the box in order to bring the gospel to their generation and how God rewarded them for their faithfulness. We think of these people in a heroic manner, and we celebrate them, but when confronted with the opportunity to do the same, we shrink away in fear.

That’s because most people are risk-adverse. As much as we celebrate those who boldly speak the truth in love, most Christians avoid stirring things up—especially if it means the possibility of being rejected by fellow Christians. (Or their worldly friends)

Take Keith Green for example: At the height of his career many Christians looked to Keith as a type of prophet. Many would symbolically pat him on the back and admire him for his boldness, but could never imagine themselves doing the same thing for fear of rejection. But to Keith rejection actually facilitated his creative process—and drew him even closer to God.

Rejection is a common and often infuriating experience for a person who is completely sold out to God. I have watched people with the most interesting and “out of the box” ideas get ignored or ridiculed by the Church in favor of those who repeat an established tradition.

“Everybody hates it when something’s really great,” says essayist and art critic Dave Hickey. He is famous for his scathing critiques against the art world, particularly against art education, which he believes institutionalizes mediocrity through its systematic rejection of good ideas. Art is going through what Hickey calls a “stupid phase.”

This is also true within the Church. We tend to find the easy way out—either by not engaging in boldly speaking the truth or by completely conforming to those who we believe will be evaluating us.

Unfortunately, the place where our boldness goes to die is the place that should be most open to it—the Church. Historically, pastors overwhelmingly discriminate against those in their flock who are knowledgeable in Scripture and desire to boldly speak God’s truth, favoring instead those who more readily follow directions and do what they’re told.

All of this negativity isn’t easy to digest, and rejection can be painful in some of the same ways physical pain hurts. But there is a glimmer of hope in all of this. Rejection is not actually bad—and can even facilitate even more boldness. Godly men in the Bible, from the prophets of the Old Testament, to Jesus and the apostles, were constantly rejected by their own people. So if you are boldly speaking God’s truth from Scripture and feel that you might not belong, the act of being rejected confirms that you’re doing what’s right in the sight of God. Rejection can liberate you from the need to fit in and allow you to pursue God’s interests rather than man’s.

Perhaps for some, the pain of rejection is like the pain of training for a marathon. Believe me; you’re going to need it! A marathon runner trains their body and mind for endurance by constantly pushing themselves beyond their limits.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

God’s truths sometimes take a very long time to be accepted. The more God’s truth contradicts Church tradition, the longer it might take. Even the work of Nobel Prize winners was commonly rejected by their peers for an extended period of time.

To live boldly for God is a choice. You must make a commitment in your own mind and with the possibility that you will not be accepted. You have to let go of satisfying other people—often even yourself.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
Leonard Ravenhill Biography:

Many Christians today view God’s Laws as a negative thing. They say that “we are not under Law but under grace”. Many have not even bothered to study the Old Testament because they believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus, (Yeshua) did away with the Old Testament commands to observe God’s Kosher Laws and Holy Days and they quote Colossians 2: 16-17 as proof of this: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Messiah.”

But in spite of popular belief in many churches, the New Testament writings were not Gentile in nature, but were primarily written BY Jewish believers TO Jewish believers. Look at the whole chapter of Colossians 2: Paul (Sha’ul) is expressing his concern for the Colossians and he cautions them against false teachers among the Jews who were infecting the Colossian congregations with Gentile philosophies which were taking the focus off of Yeshua. (v8-12)

Sha’ul was reminding the Colossian believers of their life in Yeshua and not to let anyone judge them for their faithfulness towards God’s commands and Holy Days. Sha’ul wisely points out that these convocations were a “shadow” of things to come. In other words, every observance of God’s Holy Days is actually pointing to Yeshua Himself — the one who triumphed on our behalf! So Sha’ul exhorts the Colossians not to let these false teachers judge them–or worse, to persuade them to stop observing these things! They are to stand firm and CONTINUE the observance!

The Holy Days always pointed to Yeshua. And now that Yeshua has come, we should continue to keep God’s appointed times, but with greater understanding of Yeshua to whom they point to! So we are to keep the feasts not refrain from them!

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.“ (Matthew 5:17-19)

Some misinterpret the Bible verse above and teach that Yeshua accomplished everything when he was crucified and thereby fulfilled the Law. But let’s look at this passage and see what Yeshua would be saying if this were true and see if it would make any sense:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but I have come to fulfill them. Now that I have come to fulfill the Law and hence abolished the law, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law that I am ending. And since I have fulfilled the Law, anyone who ignores these commands and teaches others to do the same, will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

No one in their right mind could possibly say that this makes one iota of common sense or logic!

The Two Greatest Commandments
Loving God with all your heart, soul and might and loving your neighbor as yourself was quoted not only by Yeshua in the New Testament in Matthew 22:40, but is also found in the Old Testament. (See Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18) Yeshua was actually quoting the Old Testament scriptures as he quite frequently did because when Yeshua and the apostles walked the earth, THERE WAS NO NEW TESTAMENT!

Does ALL the Law hang on these two Commandments even if they were first quoted in the Old Testament? Deuteronomy 6:5 actually proves this stating that to love God with all your heart, soul and might is to keep every one of the Ten Commandments that had just been read 17 verses earlier!

The first four commandments relates to our relationship with God, while the last six commandments relates to our relationship with our neighbor. Yeshua did not destroy any of these ten magnificent rules of love or any other commandment of God.

If we love God with all our heart, soul and might, will we have other gods before Him, worship idols, take His name in vain, or deny God the quality time of praise and worship He desires from us on His Sabbath? No!

When Israel was given the Law at Mount Sinai, it was not just for the people of God, but it also applied to the mixed nation from Egypt. (See Exodus 12:37-38 and Num. 15:15-16)

So what has changed? Absolutely nothing!

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:15)

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’, also said, ‘You shall not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” (James 2: 10-11)
Strong’s defines Law as “teaching” occurring 219 times in 213 verses. So what does the Law teach us? It teaches us that although the Law is good, we are sinful. But God, in His mercy and grace, delivers us through Yeshua our Messiah and Lord! (Rom 7:1-25)

As a young man in my 20s, I turned to Jesus and became a Christian. As a singer/songwriter myself, one of the biggest encouragements I had was the Christian music of the 70s and 80s. Christian artists back then shared strong views of Christian values and recorded direct, uncompromising music that confronted the world (And the Church) with the message of the Scriptures.

Larry Norman, who is considered to be the godfather of Contemporary Christian Music, became a Christian at the age of five. In 1969, Capitol Records released Larry’s first solo album, ‘Upon This Rock’. Because Larry and his music was denounced by various television evangelists and Christian radio stations, Capitol deemed the album a commercial flop and soon dropped him from their label. So in 1970, Larry established his own record label, One Way Records. He released two of his own albums, ‘Street Level’ and ‘Bootleg’ on the label as well as Randy Stonehill’s first album, ‘Born Twice’.

Throughout his career, Larry had a contentious relationship with the mainstream Christian church and with the Christian music industry in general. He wrote in September 2007, “I love God and I follow Jesus but I just don’t have much affinity for the organized folderol of the churches in the Western World.” Larry Norman’s music addressed a wide range of social issues, such as politics, free love, the occult, the passive commercialism of wartime journalists, and religious hypocrisy, that were outside the scope of his contemporaries. He often complained that Christian music generally meant “sloppy thinking, dishonest metaphors and bad poetry.” He also criticized what he saw as the “commercialization of Christian music in America”. In 2008, Christian rock historian John J. Thompson wrote, “It is certainly no overstatement to say that Larry Norman is to Christian music what John Lennon is to rock & roll or Bob Dylan is to folk music.” Larry Norman died at 60 years old on Feb 24, 2008 of heart failure.

Steve Camp was well-known for his strong views that Christian musicians are called to make direct, uncompromising music that confronts the world with the message of the Scriptures. He is well-known for his strong views that Christian musicians are called to make direct, uncompromising music that confronts the world with the message of the Scriptures. In 1998 following Martin Luther’s 95 theses, he sent out his own ‘107 Theses’ calling for a reformation in contemporary Christian music. Steve Camp has been the pastor at The Cross Church in Palm City, Florida since June 2009.

Keith Green is best known for his strong devotion to Christian evangelism and challenging others to the same. Often considered controversial for his frequently confrontational lyrics and spoken messages, among his most notable songs were, ‘Asleep in the Light’, ‘So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt’ and ‘To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice’.
In 1979 Keith negotiated a release from his contract with Sparrow Records and initiated a new policy of refusing to charge money for concerts or albums. His album, ‘So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt’ was offered through mail-order and at concerts for a price determined by the purchaser for whatever they could afford. By May 1982, Keith had shipped out more than 200,000 units of his album – 61,000 for free.

Rich Mullins and his work with the group Zion were first noticed by Christian music superstar Amy Grant. The inclusion of his song ‘Sing Your Praise to the Lord’ on Grant’s ‘Age to Age’ album in 1982 soon lead to deals with Reunion Records and the start of a successful career as a songwriter and singer. The profits from his tours and the sale of each album were entrusted to his church, which divided it up, paid Mullins the average salary in the U.S. for that year, and gave the rest to charity. Mullins was also a major supporter of Compassion International and Compassion USA.

His faith can be understood by a quote he gave at a concert shortly before his death. He stated that: “Jesus said whatever you do to the least of these my brothers you’ve done it to me. And this is what I’ve come to think. That if I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my Savior and Lord, the best way that I can do that is to identify with the poor. This I know will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in a beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken-hearted.” Rich had numerous hit songs to his credit including, ‘Hold Me Jesus’, ‘Step By Step’, and ‘Awesome God’. Sadly, Rich’s career was cut short by an automobile accident that took his life on September 19, 1997, in Illinois.

Christian Music Today
Music itself, apart from lyrics, is neither good nor evil. It is how it is used that makes it good or evil; much like a kitchen knife. In the hands of a cook it is a useful and necessary tool, but in the hands of a murderer it becomes a weapon that kills. Music is the medium that mirrors the heart of the composer, singer, instrumentalist, or listener. Therefore, if the heart is sensual then the music will reflect the same. If the heart is rebellious then the music will reflect rebelliousness. But if the heart is spiritually minded then the music will reflect Godliness.

Christian music used to teach the doctrine of Christ as revealed in God’s Word. Its lyrics echoed the attributes of God. It was characterized by the Godly presentation of musicians’ lives in public appearances in concerts as well as their private lives. Christian musicians used to emulate true Godly attributes as defined in God’s Word.

So what happened to Christian music?
Why has it departed from following its true form? No longer does Christian music attempt to characterize Godly attributes, but more often it characterizes worldly feelings through sensual rhythms and vocals. Most Christian artists today spew out a mix-mash of pseudo-religious, moral platitudes and vague, pious feelings in their lyrics on stage.

Sadly, young Christians today have become enamored with this pseudo-Christian music because of its sensual fleshly appeal, and defend its “spirituality” with great vigor and apparent offense. As music mirrors the heart of an individual, so does this pseudo-Christian music reflect the carnal condition of the hearts and minds of such persons.

The Bible teaches, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (Gal. 5:17)
The fleshly music used in many Christian songs today and are absorbed daily by many Christians is contrary to the work of the Holy Spirit. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Eph. 4:29)

One only has to scroll through the posts of Christian artists on Face Book, Twitter, or the numerous other social media sites to see that most Christian musicians are more concerned in promoting themselves than they are in promoting godly desires. Recognition of the fact that such corrupted use of Christian music is displeasing to God and will demand repentance from the usage of it as well as repentance from the carnal condition of the soul. Then replacement must follow-replacement of corrupted music with true Christian music.

God chose me to show the world that He’s not impressed with our talents or intellect. When we see ourselves in the light of His glory, we can only fall down in grateful thanksgiving and praise.

I pray that God will raise up more Christian musicians who live uncompromising lives committed to God and the ministry of Jesus; with songs from the Spirit and making music from their hearts to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19)

After anxiously waiting for many years, my good friend Vicki Lynn has finally released her CD, Hannah’s Prayer. It was definitely worth the wait!

God has blessed Vicki with an amazing gift of being able to use her beautiful voice to bring healing to her listeners. It is most prevalent in her song, ‘Healer of Your Heart’…a song that tells us that even through disappointment and loss we can experience redemption and true peace through trusting in a loving God.

I have known Vicki and her husband Gary for many years and I have witnessed their struggles as they passed through the crucible of testings and trials. That is what makes this CD so authentic. Vicki sings from real experiences of struggles on her songs, ‘Misunderstood’…‘Cryin’ In The Night’ and ‘Pieces of my Heart’. But she also sings of victories in her songs…’Run And Not Get Tired’…’The Battle Is Mine’ and ‘You’re Strongest In Me.’

From her inspiring song…’You Are The One’ to her bluesy folk song…’Come On Children’ Vicki proves to be a true minister of music and not just another pretty voice. Vicki’s songs will inspire those who have struggled to hold onto their dreams and at times even felt like giving up. For anyone who is struggling with their Christian faith I highly recommend getting a copy of Hannah’s Prayer. I believe it will inspire you to keep trusting God to fulfill your dreams.

Vicki’s CD is available at:  http://www.sodhouserecords.com/vickilynn/

Or direct from Vicki on Face Book at: https://www.facebook.com/vickilynnw

Many Christians are up in arms over Jars of Clay front man, Dan Haseltine’s comments on gay marriage. If Dan was directing his comments to believers I would probably agree with his very outspoken critics. But I believe in the context of his comments that he was speaking more to unbelievers. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/25/jars-of-clay-gay-marriage_n_5214742.html

Using Scripture against same-sex marriage is perhaps the most misplaced argument that I’ve heard during this heated debate. People who believe in Biblical morals have every right to use their beliefs to influence what goes on INSIDE their churches. However, according to the Apostle Paul it should stop there.

“But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13)

If Scripture and God’s moral law for believers was the primary force driving secular law, divorce and adultery would be illegal and criminally prosecuted. It’s a very paper-thin argument and that is why it is not taken seriously among the courts or most state authorities.

…So how about lightening up on our brother.

The Islamic world aflame with revolt and upheaval…Earthquakes increasing in frequency and intensity…Superstorms ravaging the planet…Violent protests raging throughout the world… Sound familiar?

It’s not a subject that the secular media is likely to explore, but millions of people the world over should be asking themselves whether the turmoil and disasters plaguing the globe are the signs of the times predicted by Jesus and the prophets of the Bible that would coincide with the end of the age.

Matthew 24:
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

As we look at the instability in our world, the turmoil and the threat of terrorism, we can’t help but ask, “Are we living in the last days”? There have always been catastrophes in the world, but never before have there been so many, and so frequently! Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, famine, disease and war…Are we simply experiencing the natural order of things as some contend, or are the signs we see all around us the warnings of the end times?

One only has to read the latest headlines to know that something evil is brewing in the world:
‘52 Dead in Northeast Nigeria Attack by Extremists’
‘Ukrainian government threatens state of emergency after protesters occupy building’
‘Malaysian church attacked amid Allah dispute’
‘Cyber-attack hits federal judiciary websites, filing systems’
‘Pentagon: U.S. not capable of detecting foreign nuke threats’
‘37 killed in Baghdad bomb blasts amid ‘deliberate and senseless’ targeting of Christians’
‘Syrian Jihadists Target Both Jews & Christians For Ethnic Cleansing’

I believe that it is our responsibility as Bible believing men and women to pray as the prophet Daniel did that was recorded in the Book of Daniel chapter 9:1-19:

“I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:
“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land. Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him….Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

I pray that God will once again revive His Church and that we will all endure until the end and be found ready to meet our king.