Wednesday, September 19, 2018

When Your Walls Come Tumbling Down

Words: Andy Rupert - Music: Per-Olov Kindgren

When your faith has been tested
When your confidence fails
When you can't seem to accomplish anything
When you finally realize that you cannot succeed
When your walls come tumbling down

When your life's big ambition
When the things that you've planned
When the goals you have worked for all your life
When you suddenly realize that the end might be near
When your walls come tumbling down

CHORUS:
It is there at that moment
When you cry out to God
As you search in the Scriptures for relief
Then with His new perspective
You find peace amidst the pain
You find hope that helps you to stand
When your walls come tumbling down

When your life's close companion
When the dearest of friends
When the one who has loved you all your life
When that one is taken from you and the tears begin to flow
When your walls come tumbling down

Hymn: Master the Tempest is Raging

Words: Mary A. Baker -- Music: Horatius R. Palmer

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o'er-shadowed with blackness;
No shelter or help is nigh.
"Carest Thou not that we perish?"
How canst Thou lie asleep
When each moment so madly is threat'ning
A grave in the angry deep?

CHORUS:
The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will;
Peace,(peace,be still)be still(peace, be still)
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
Or demons, or men, or what-ever it be,
No water can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies:
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will;
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will;
Peace, peace, be still!

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled;
O waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o'er my sinking soul;
And I perish! I perish! dear Master;
O hasten, and take control.

Master, the terror is over,
The elements sweetly rest;
Earth's sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven's within my breast,
Linger, O blessed Redeemer, Leave me alone no more;
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
And rest on the blissful shore.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Quote of the Day

"The flip side of encouraging bold testimony under persecution when one has no alternative is the command to flee hostility whenever possible. Jesus calls his followers to bravery but not foolishness. Believers must not seek out persecution. God's word can go forth powerfully through the unspoken testimony of martyrdom, but it is often better for people to remain alive to speak it aloud."

—Craig Blomberg re: Matthew 10:23

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Hymn: Sometimes a Light Surprises

Words: William Cowper

Sometime a light surprises the Christian while he sings;
it is the Lord who rises with healing in His wings;
when comforts are declining, He grants the soul again
a season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.

In holy contemplation, we sweetly then pursue
the theme of God’s salvation, and find it ever new.
Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say,
“E'en let the unknown morrow bring with it what it may.”

"It can bring with it nothing, but He will bear us through;
who gives the lilies clothing will clothe His people, too;
beneath the spreading heavens no creature but is fed;
and He who feeds the ravens will give His children bread."

Though vine nor fig tree neither their wonted fruit should bear,
though all the field should wither, nor flocks nor herds be there,
yet God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice;
for while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

How successful is our ministry from God's perspective?

"Christians who judge successful ministries by external statistics such as attendance figures, membership, baptisms, and offerings should seriously rethink their criteria in light of Jesus’ words here. God judges the greatness of his servants by searching their hearts, examining their inner attitudes, and seeing deeds done in secret. Doubtless, his evaluations of who most honors him will invert a substantial majority of his people's evaluations."

Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew, Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992, p. 122.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

How important do you think I am?

After a failed assassination attempt, the king had these noble words for his concerned friends:

"A king cannot live shut up in a box. The wicked have not so much power as ill-will, and confidence in God is the best safeguard. Then I do not consider this danger to be so formidable. Besides, if the project of this man had succeeded, the loss of me would not have caused you so much misfortune as you believed, for God knows perfectly well how long he wishes to employ my frail arm. If I fall, he will raise up another instrument more worthy and more powerful than I. His work does not depend upon the life of one man."

-Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden (1594-1632)

As quoted by C. A. Lacroix in Gustavus Adolphus a Hero of the Reformation

Friday, May 11, 2018

Christian Hip Hop?

In the 1980's The Christian Armory in Columbus, Ohio marketed CCM with an "if you like this secular band, you will like this CCM band..." poster. As someone who indulged in worldly music at the time, this caught my attention. It gave me the opportunity to have the world's music and a Christian message. I eventually imbibed everything from Christian metal bands to Christian rap. But something changed when God saved me at age 19. I became convinced that musical styles can convey a message in both morality and associations. With a new desire to not be conformed to the world (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Jn. 2:15-17), it seemed ludicrous to me to use worldly music to promote a Christian message.

Why would a Christian mix God's message with an ungodly style of music?

First, there are many who do not believe that music is moral. They say that music can be used for bad purposes but in and of itself does not convey a moral message. This does not make sense to me because music affects the human body and emotions. David's music refreshed the spirit of King Saul (1 Sam. 16:14-23). The Israelites danced to wild music when worshiping the golden calf (Ex. 32:17-19). And personal experience confirms this. Music affects us in good and bad ways. At its worst, the popular music styles of today promote sensuality, violence, anger, and pride. The music itself pushes you toward those emotions without the words. This is not good.

Second, there are many who simply like a certain style of music. We all have musical tastes and to a certain extent that is not a bad thing. The music your family listened to when you were growing up had a big influence on what you think is appropriate. However, what we like or what we are accustomed to should not be the deciding factor in many areas of the Christian life (Phil. 4:8-9; Gal. 5:16-23). Does this musical style match up to God's desires for me? Does it help me to become more Christlike? Some music does not.

Third, there are many who use popular music styles to reach people. Christians see the popularity of a certain music style and try to use it to bring people into the church or to reach a certain demographic. The motive behind this method is noble but flawed. Think about it for a minute. Why would you want to mix God's message with a worldly style of music? Would sensual, violent, angry, or proud music be appropriate for proclaiming God's truth? This is not only inappropriate but also produces a mixed message of Christianity without repentance or holiness.

What about hip hop?

During a recent conversation, someone postulated the idea that using hip hop was a grey area limited only by a believer's conscience. My initial response involved biblical principles about worldliness (Rom. 12:1-2, 1 John 2:15-17) and some of the thoughts shared above. Since then, I have done some research about the hip hop genre. It is much more than rhyming lyrics backed up with a beat. The common definition of the genre involves four characteristics:

Although widely considered a synonym for rap music, the term hip-hop refers to a complex culture comprising four elements: deejaying, or “turntabling”; rapping, also known as “MCing” or “rhyming”; graffiti painting, also known as “graf” or “writing”; and “B-boying,” which encompasses hip-hop dance, style, and attitude, along with the sort of virile body language that philosopher Cornel West described as “postural semantics.” ... Hip-hop originated in the predominantly African American economically depressed South Bronx section of New York City in the late 1970s.

https://www.britannica.com/art/hip-hop

As new styles of music are appropriated by Christian artists, there is usually a backlash from conservatives. In the case of hip hop is this backlash justifiable? Or would it be appropriate to use this genre for reaching inner-city youth? It would be impossible to investigate every form of Christian hip hop on the market. As with all music, the style and quality will vary from artist to artist. However, the artists in this series of videos certainly fall under the definition of hip hop. Notice how prominent graffiti is in several of the videos. At best, they are trying to identify with inner city youth. But isn't graffiti (no matter how important the message) still vandalism? Note also the "virile body language" and attitudes in many of the videos. Men and women are bouncing to the beat. What do the outfits and motions of the women project? What do the outfits and motions of the men present? Is there improper sensuality or pride in their movements? Does the music support the message or bring confusion?

Conclusion

I am not an expert about hip hip music nor am I an expert about the Christian version. There are, no doubt, artists who do things better than what was portrayed in the videos. However, what I saw there does not convince me that it would be suitable for God's purposes. The identification with the world seems very clear despite the attempt at a Christian message. The renewed mind of Romans 12:1-2 should not be limited to just the inside of man; it should control the outside as well.

Ask yourself this question: If you were to follow the advice of Romans 12:1-2, what would your life look like? If you were not conformed to the world (with its lust and pride), what would your appearance look like? What would your demeanor be like? What would your dancing be like? What would your music be like? A Christian should never allow worldly culture to dictate how he lives his life. Instead, he should be like Christ in word, thought, and conduct. Does hip hop communicate this? I don't think so.