“From Christian Radio to a Church Near You”

“From Christian Radio to a Church Near You”

The following article by Warren Smith regarding Christian music and the sanctity of church worship is spot on, especially since I was a concert promoter for New Life 91.9 for 10 years and know, first hand, the truth in what Warren reports.

Read and be warned.

big_lines

“From Christian radio to a church near you”

By Warren Cole Smith

Within the past few weeks, a number of troubling stories have roiled the calm waters of contemporary Christian music (CCM).  As I wrote two weeks ago, Michael Gungor, who leads the Grammy Award–winning band bearing his name, expressed public doubt about essential Christian doctrine.  Last week, singer and songwriter Vicky Beeching, whose “Glory to God Forever” has become a staple of evangelical church services, announced she is a lesbian, which was affirmed by tweets from fellow CCM artists Kim Hill and Margaret Becker.

Expect such announcements to continue, because the Christian music industry’s “star-making machinery,” to use Joni Mitchell’s famous line, is designed to create hits, not necessarily artists with character and integrity.  But to understand that, you must first know how the gears in this machine turn and how it relates to the greater Christian Industrial Complex.

The largest cog in this machine is Christian radio, with nearly half of its audience made up of non-Christians or nominal, non-church-going Christians.  These listeners are also overwhelmingly female.  The industry’s archetype is the mythical “Becky,” and station programmers often ask, “Will Becky like it?” when they choose the songs their station play.  I’ve actually seen a Stepford Wife–like photo of a mythical, smiling “Becky” prominently displayed at stations to remind staff whom they’re trying to please.

Read the entire article by Warren Smith at the World

You can find out more about Warren at www.worldmag.com

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

Do Something Now

Do Something Now

This video by Matthew West is a great example of living out the famous words of William Carey, founder of the Baptist Missionary Society and known as the “father of modern missions.”  In fact, his words ring as true today as they did almost 200 years ago.

“Expect great things from God.  Attempt great things for God.”

My prayer is that you will be encouraged and challenged to look beyond your comfort and apathy and safety and become the hands and feet of Jesus— no matter the costs.  Our Lord would expect nothing less.

big_lines

big_lines

And then, from a generation ago, my generation, the same message.   What about you?  Are you ready to do something about the suffering in our world?  And if not you, then who?  And if not now, then when?

From 1985.  The CAUSE – Christian Artists United to Save the Earth (expanded version)

big_lines

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

Another One Bites the Dust

Another One Bites the Dust

To the Church:

Please  note, Christian musicians and entertainers who have a loud voice and a large platform are not theologians nor, for that matter, pastors, teachers or elders.  They are, as stated, simply musicians and entertainers and not divinely inspired prophets of God.  Trust me, after working for 10 years as a concert promoter for a Christian radio station in Charlotte, I know.  Believe me, I know the spiritual shallowness of many Christian artists.  The Christian music industry and the carnal, Laodicean church may view them as the Pied Piper for cultural relevance and moral tolerance and accommodation, but that does not make them spokesmen for God.  Far from it.

Take for example Dan Haseltine, lead singer for Jars of Clay.  In dealing with the issue of gay marriage he summed up his Biblical knowledge on the subject this way:  “I don’t think Scripture ‘clearly’ states much of anything regarding morality.”  Really?  Are you serious, Dan?  Have you ever read your Bible, Dan?   Do you believe in absolute, finite truth, Dan?  Or do you believe that whatever seem right to you… uh, well… must be right with God?

In fact, over the last couple of days Dan has come out in favor of homosexual marriage.  “How?” you ask.  Simply this.  When you jettison the Word of God and replace it with your own mind, thoughts and feelings, then you become God over God’s Word and will believe and support anything your heart tells you is right.  You become the moral absolute in your life.  You become the final authority over what is right and wrong.  You become the standard that God must adhere to.  You, in effect, become God.

But remember this, Dan (and all others out there who claim to have the mind of Christ yet do not follow His commands), the Scripture has much to say about God’s view of your feelings and logic and opinions and of your heart.  It says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;  Who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).  Did you get that, Dan.  Your heart, as well as mine, is deceitful above all things, above everything, and is desperately, incredibly, unashamedly, incurably wicked.   Dan, this is what the Lord says about your heart.  So if your heart or mind or opinions don’t agree with the Word of God, the problem is with you, with your deceitful, wicked, Laodicean heart, and not with God.

After reading the following article, Dan, I would strongly suggest you drop to your knees and repent for elevating your sinful opinions and skeptic questions higher than the Word of God and then having the arrogant audacity to shake your fist in the face of God and proclaim them publically.  And if I were you, I would repent ASAP.  After all, I think you may have awakened the sleeping giant.

Sad day for you guys, Jars of Clay.  Looks like another one bites the dust.  Oh, remember Rob Bell?  Didn’t think so.

big_lines

Jars of Clay Frontman Comes Out in Support of Homosexual ‘Marriage’

In a series of assertive Tweets yesterday, Dan Haseltine of the popular band Jars of Clay took to his Twitter account and came out in support of homosexual ‘marriage,’ citing that he does not “particularly care about Scripture’s stance on what is ‘wrong.'”

Haseltine, who is the lead singer of Jars of Clay and whose band became famous for its Christian-themed music, posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday: “Not meaning to stir things up BUT… is there a non-speculative or non ‘slippery slope’ reason why gays shouldn’t marry?  I don’t hear one.”

“I’m trying to make sense of the conservative argument.  But it doesn’t hold up to basic scrutiny.  Feels akin to women’s suffrage.  I just don’t see a negative effect to allowing gay marriage.  No societal breakdown, no war on traditional marriage.  Anyone?” he went on to argue.

“I don’t think Scripture ‘clearly’ states much of anything regarding morality,” Haseltine stated.

big_lines

You can read the entire article here.  And, you can read a response to Dans’ views here.

big_lines

        

Rock Star Christianity

Rock Star Christianity

As a former Events Coordinator (that’s concert promoter in the real world) for a Christian radio station for almosts ten years, I have seen both the good and bad side of Christian music.  Uh, let me elaborate if I may.  When I say the good side of Christian music I really mean “the good” side and when I say bad, well… I really mean bad.  No, make that bad in bold and all caps. BAD.


nauseaYeah, BAD.  Real BAD.

But as I look back in time, what I see today is something Keith Green and, a decade later, Steve Camp also saw— the selling out of ministry for the almighty buck.  I could tell you stories, boatloads of stories, about secular rockstar wannabes who try to “make it” in Christian music because they believe the industry standards are lower.  And, to a degree, they might be right.  These artist often parade around as spiritual giants— makeshift religious Goliaths, talking about fasting and the importance of prayer in their life and how it’s all about God and not about them, yada, yada, yada— but when I dare to mention the need for a gospel presentation at one of their Christian concerts, God forbid!  Like a werewolf at full moon, their secular side slides out from behind their carefully placed mask, and the real spirit behind the music shows itself.

“Sorry.  I don’t feel comfortable speaking about my faith publicly.  It takes away from the ending of my show, you know.  We really want to end the set with a bang!  And, well… sharing the gospel might make some of the ticket buyers, my fans, feel uncomfortable.”

Oh, I see.  And we can’t have them feel uncomfortable, can we?  That might hurt record sales.

Heave, gag, vomit, splat!— one more time.

If I insist, the road manager loads a silver bullet in his gun, points it towards my chest, and says, “Hey, we’d love to help you out.  It’s all about the Lord you know.  But there’s nothing in the contract or rider that says he’s got to allow the gospel to be shared at his show.  Sorry bub.  Maybe next time.”

Right.  Maybe next time.  That is, of course, if I negotiate beforehand with the artist’s management the need to share Christ at a Christian concert.  Am I missing something here?  Or does that seem like something a Christian artist would want to do at a Christian concert anyway?

My take on it is that there are many artists who happen to call themselves Christian.  But there are very few (I can actually count them on one hand) who are Christian artists— with the emphasis on Christian first and artist second.

Very, very few.  To the shame of our industry.

Anyway, read what Keith Green said about the same issue over thirty years ago.  Not much has changed, has it?

big_lines

So You Wanna Be A Rock Star
by Keith Green

keithgreenToday, so many people ask me if I can tell them how they can start or enter into a music ministry.  At concerts I get countless questions about this, and I also get lots of letters and even some long-distance phone calls from many people who feel they are only “called” into the music “ministry”  One day I began to ask myself why so few have ever asked me how to become a missionary, or even a local street preacher, or how to disciple a new believer.  It seems everyone would prefer the “bright lights” of what they think a music ministry would be, rather than the mud and obscurity of the mission field, or the streets of the ghetto, or even the true spiritual sweetness of just being a nobody whom the Lord uses mightily in small “everyday” ways.

Are You Willing?
My answer to their question is almost always the same.  “Are you willing to never play music again?  Are you willing to be a nothing?  Are you willing to go anywhere and do anything for Christ?  Are you willing to stay right where you are and let the Lord do great things through you, though no one may seem to notice at all?”  They all seem to answer each of these questions with a quick “yes!”  But I really doubt if they know what their answer entails.

Star Struck
My dearest family in Jesus…why are we so star struck?  Why do we idolize Christian singers and speakers?  We go from glorifying musicians in the world, to glorifying Christian musicians.  It’s all idolatry!  Can’t you see that?  It’s true that there are many men and women of God who are greatly anointed to call down the Spirit of God on His people and the unsaved.  But Satan is getting a great victory as we seem to worship these ministers on tapes and records, and clamor to get their autographs in churches and concert halls from coast to coast.

Can’t you see that you are hurting these ministers?  They try desperately to tell you that they don’t deserve to be praised, and because of this you squeal with delight and praise them all the more.  You’re smothering them, making it almost impossible for them to see that it’s really Jesus.  They keep telling themselves that, but you keep telling them it’s really them, crushing their humility and grieving the Spirit that is trying to keep their eyes on Jesus.

Ultimately, what we idolize we ourselves desire to become, sometimes with our whole heart.  So a lot of people who want to become just like their favorite Gospel singer or minister, seek after it with the same fervor that the Lord demands we seek after Him!  And again, we insult the Spirit of Grace and try to make a place for ourselves, rather than a place for Jesus.

A Thankless Job
How come no one idolizes or praises the missionaries who give up everything and live in poverty, endangering their lives and families with every danger that the “American dream” has almost completely eliminated?  How come no one lifts up and exalts the ghetto and prison ministers who can never take up an offering, because if they did they would either laugh or cry at what they’d receive?

How Come?
Because (1) we’re taught from very early on that comfort is our goal and security… and (2) that we should always seek for a lot of people to like us.  Who lives less comfortably and has had less friends and supporters than the selfless missionaries who have suffered untimely, premature deaths trying to conquer souls and nations for the whole glory of God?  Do you really believe we’re living in the very last times?  Then why do you spend more money on Gospel records and concerts than you give to organizations that feed the poor, or to missionaries out in the field?

There are ministries all over the world where “penniless” people are being saved and transformed.  They are broken people who have promise and qualities, but just need someone to bring them God’s light during the times when their lives seem so completely hopeless.

keithgreen-180I repent of ever having recorded one single song, and ever having performed one concert, if my music, and more importantly, my life has not provoked you into Godly jealousy (Romans 11:11) or to sell out more completely to Jesus!

Quit trying to make “gods” out of music ministers, and quit desiring to become like them.  The Lord commands you, “Deny yourself take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). My piano is not my cross, it is my tool.  I’d never play it again if God would show me a more effective tool in my life for proclaiming His Gospel.

Conclusion
To finish, let me say that the only music minister to whom the Lord will say, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant,” is the one whose life proves what their lyrics are saying, and to whom music is the least important part of their life.  Glorifying the only worthy One has to be a minister’s most important goal!

Let’s all repent of the idolatry in our hearts and our desires for a comfortable, rewarding life when, really, the Bible tells us we are just passing through as strangers and pilgrims in this world (Hebrews 11:13), for our reward is in heaven.  Let’s not forget that our due service to the Lord is “… not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29).

Amen.  Let us die graciously together and endure to the end like brave soldiers who give their lives, without hesitation, for our noble and glorious King of Light.

big_lines

        

Clear the Stage

Clear the Stage

Leonard Ravenhill once said, “I think they should tax churches.  Most churches are amusement centers anyhow.  And you have to pay taxes on amusement.”

But maybe church doesn’t have to be that way.  Watch and enjoy.

big_lines

big_lines

Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols.
Chuck the pews and all the decorations too
Until the congregations few then have revival.
Tell your friends that this is where the party ends
Until you’re broken for your sins you can’t be social.
Then seek the Lord and wait for what He has in store
And know that great is your reward so just be hopeful.

Cause you can sing all you want to
Yes you can sing all you want to
You can sing all you want to
And don’t get me wrong, worship is more than a song.

Take a break from all the plans that you have made
And sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper.
Beg Him please to open up His mouth and speak
And pray for real upon your knees until they blister.
Shine the light on every corner of your life
Until the pride and lust and lies are in the open.
Then read the Word and put to test the things you’ve heard
Until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken.

Cause you can sing all you want to
Yes you can sing all you want to
You can sing all you want to
And don’t get me wrong, worship is more than a song.

Anything I put before my God is an idol.
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol.
Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol.
Anything that I give all my love is an idol.
We must not worship something that’s not even worth it.
Clear the stage and make some space for the One who deserves it.

And I can sing all I want to
Yes I can sing all I want to
I can sing all I want to
And still get it wrong, worship is more than a song.

And you can sing all you want to
Yes you can sing all you want to
You can sing all you want to
But don’t get me wrong, worship is more than a song.

Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols.

big_lines