Posts Tagged ‘Larry Norman’

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.

 

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)

Our children are watching who we place upon the pedestal. And if we are not careful, they may one day desire to emulate the same.

We should not want our children trapped in sin and darkness. We should not want our children lusting after things that are fleeting. And we should not want our children making excuses for mediocrity and sin. We should want our children to know what true greatness is. We should want our children to exalt Jesus and him crucified and resurrected. We should want our children to think there is a difference between those who die with honor and those who throw their life away, living in the pleasures of sin for a season.

Remember the children’s song, “O Be Careful, Little Eyes”?

“O be careful little eyes what you see
O be careful little eyes what you see
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little eyes what you see”

We could take away a great lesson from this simple song.

Christians should take to heart the word from the Apostle Paul: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Paul also warned us in Ephesians 5:1-21 to be careful what we see… what we say… what we do… and what we think. He said, “Don’t live as unwise people but as wise. Make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” But are we being careful about what we see? And just as importantly; what are children see and hear?

Entertainment Through Violence?
Children’s greatest exposure to violence comes from television. TV shows, movies edited for television, and video games expose young children to a level of violence unimaginable just a few years ago. The American Psychological Association says the average child watches 8,000 televised murders and 100,000 acts of violence before finishing elementary school! That number more than doubles by the time he or she reaches age eighteen!

At a very young age, children are seeing a level of violence and mayhem that in the past may have been seen only by a few police officers and military personnel. TV brings hitting, kicking, rapes, stabbings, shootings, and dismemberment right into homes on a daily basis.

The impact on children’s behavior is predictable. Two prominent Surgeon General Reports in the last two decades link violence on television and aggressive behavior in children and teenagers. In addition, the National Institute of Mental Health issued a 94-page report, ‘Television and Behavior: Ten Years of Scientific Progress and Implications for the Eighties’. They found “overwhelming” scientific evidence that “excessive” violence on television spills over into the playground and the streets.

Imagine a twelve year old child spending six hours a day at the local movie theater and allowed to watch whatever movie they wanted, regardless of the rating. No normal parent would ever permit that! Yet, nearly half the twelve-year-olds watch an average of six or more hours of television per day with little or no supervision! This would mean that a large portion of young people fit into the category of heavy viewers. Their view of the world is profoundly shaped by the TV programs they watch.

The Bible says, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33). If your child hangs out too much with bad influences, there is a good chance that they will be influenced for the bad.That is why so many parents forbid their children to hang out with others that would influence their children for the bad. And yet,these same parents will allow their children to be influenced six hours a day by what they watch on television. Many children may not be able to stand against this type of influence, because their character is not well formed yet. It is still being actively developed and easily influenced. What our children watch on television may not seem important at the moment, but we need to ask, “Is my child being negatively influenced?

Some kids are natural leaders; while others tend to be followers. So who are they following? I believe we should raise our children to influence the world not the other way around. It will take a lot of work, but the results will be mature well-adjusted adults who are teaching their children the same thing.

Television viewing affects both adults and children in subtle ways. And we must not ignore the fact that televised imagery does affect our perceptions and behaviors. Our world view and our subsequent actions are affected by what we see on television. Christians, therefore, must be careful not to let television conform us to the world, (Rom. 12:2) but instead we should develop a Christian world view and teach the same to our children.

When you consider the magnitude of the challenges that are facing America today, it becomes obvious that America is in desperate need of healing and true revival. But it’s not just mind-numbing television shows that influence our children, but children watch and learn from their parents and other adults. So we too, need to get a good reality check and watch what we’re doing!