Opening a Can of Whoop Butt on Christian Music

I originally published this on our forum, but here it is in all its furious glory:
I can’t listen to Air One Christian music radio anymore. It drives me nuts listening to the same insipid, predictable lyrics with the same four chords (max) put together in the same formulaic way.
Sorry that this probably does offend someone, but someone has to say the emperor has no clothes. Just putting Jesus’ name in a song and/or praising His name through it doesn’t make it good music. And instead of demanding more from these “creative” talent we’ve just settled in and accepted it like everyting else we do in American Christianity.
There are some good Christian bands out there, to be sure, but they seem to be falling off by the wayside. Look at the Top Ten of any Christian music list. Were any of these people here two years ago? Probably not. And they won’t be two years from now, that’s a safe bet.
Wake up Christian music scene! Snap out of it! Be courageous, be daring, be leaders, be innovative. Don’t settle for what sells the most CDs or what will appeal to the masses! Don’t think that just making some gushy emotional song that happens to include the name of the Lord in it makes it good! It doesn’t! Let the secular community produce boatloads of disposable music as we produce music with integrity!
Oh! for the return of bands like Chasing Furies with their non-conformist music and SmallTown Poets with their heavy and insightful lyrics!
Sigh. Will someone - anyone - step forward? Until someone does I’ll stay with those “compromisers” like U2 and Switchfoot and Bruce Cockburn and Creed and POD - groups that aren’t walled up in the Ghetto of Mediocrity we call American Christianity.

Abraham Lincoln Today

I always used to think that if only we had a man like Abe Lincoln resurrected, that he would bring back to the presidency what has been sorely lacking in the last generations: integrity, high morals, strong leadership, etc.
Yes, Mr Lincoln was flawed but he was a role model of a leader, and a man I would love to hang out with if only to see him work. Sigh…
Then I realized recently - and sadly - that it would make no difference. We would first have to vote him in and that ain’t happening.
America today is too d*** self-centered and arrogant and pleasure-seeking and egomaniacal and just plain stupid to vote for a man like Abe. Really, can you see a man in a political ad that looks like Mr Lincoln? He was way too ugly to get himself elected today. And he was kinda homely. Ble. And he was folksy, like Mrs Palin. Minus ten from all pundits and from people on both coasts. And charisma? C’mon, you ever read anything about him and his amazing charisma? And worst of all…
He was honest.
Nope, Mr Lincoln had his moment and he shone brilliantly. He was here for such a time as that. But today he would not have made it into a primary, let alone be his party’s representative. We cannot see past our own self interests and “give me everything - now!” attitudes to see that we would need him.
Maybe what we need is not a Mr Lincoln, but a nation of such a character that would actually vote for him if he should appear again.

A Positive Spin on Bad Times in America

I am not a big fan of capitalism or Wall Street. I see them both run by the engine of filthy lucre. To my eyes they are not much more than controlled greed.
But when the greed goes uncontrolled, when the lust for money overpowers any vestige of morals and integrity that it hasn’t already killed off, that’s when things go from bad to worse.
When over the last years our banks and lenders and corporations and even individual borrowers saw nothing but how they could profit monetarily, and willingly looked the other way when unscrupulous or unwise methods were used to obtain that money, is it really a wonder the USA followed its god down the toilet?
The good thing about all this is that maybe - just maybe - this sudden loss in revenue and jobs will cause many people to reevaluate what life is truly all about. Maybe many will for the first time find some lasting and profound priorities that they would otherwise have not seen having been blinded by the darkness of greed.
This all might result in some sort of spiritual revival. Wow. Wouldn’t that would be great. Maybe the vast majority of Americans who claim to follow God but don’t, actually will now.
Maybe in losing all the false gods in our lives, we will rediscover the one, true God.  Someone say “amen!”

What Are We Doing, America?

I have a bunch of intertwined thoughts racing through my mind right now. In order to keep the following from turning into the incoherent ramblings of a crazy person, I’ll do my best (forgive me if I stray) to keep on just one topic.
The United States belong to the citizens, not to the government.
There it is. My cliché-sounding stock phrase. But please don’t touch that dial! Instead, allow me to explain.
A wise man once taught me the following lesson. That a society can exist anywhere on a continuum between Moral Autonomy and Political Authority. At 100% to the left (not politically, only graphically) is complete Moral Autonomy. No government. Anarchy. At 100% to the right is complete Political Authority. Omni-government. Totalitarian rule.
As you read that, I’m certain that you immediately imagined where we, the U.S.A, lie on that continuum. What we don’t recognize is that there’s another point to consider. Equally as important as where we sit on the slide is how we got there. In America, we got there by giving away rights and responsibilities to the government. And this (to an extent) is a very good thing indeed! People require a government in order to live freely. In the States, we enjoy freedom that few others do. Very few others. Anyhow. It went something like this: We started — in theory, not in practice — with a society of complete freedom (moral autonomy) and decided that, for the benefit of everybody, we would grant a number of responsibilities and a measure of authority to a common government. The duty of this government would be to protect the citizenry in the free exercise of their God-given rights. You know: Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness.
But now that’s changed.

Now Americans believe that government exists to create new rights for them, and to solve their problems…” - George F. Will, Newsweek

Thanks for the insight Mr. Will. It’s true! Look around, man! I’m not assigning any value (some are good, others not-so-good. I’ll let you decide which is which.) to the following things, but these are just examples of new rights, responsibilities, and problems to be solved that we’ve come to expect of our government:

- Education
- Marriage
- Privacy
- Employment
- Economic Strength
- Fairness (not justice)
- Equality (Economic, racial, sexual, etc.)
- Not to be Upset or Offended
- Happiness (not the pursuit of happiness)
- Ease of Life
- Etcetera

Okay. Everything that I typed previously serves the following point.
Every THING - right or wrong, good or bad, necessary of frivolous - that we cede to our government, moves us further toward the right-hand side of our political continuum. Political Authority. Government rule.
Every thing that we give the government to do is one less thing that we have the independence to do ourselves! What’s more, Capitol Hill is crammed to the rafters with people who could hardly care less about - wait for it - Y O U. I’m not a total cynic. I’m sure that there are also wonderful representatives who sincerely serve their constituencies. But there’s an overwhelming concentration of career politicians who care about authority and cash. And we all know it.
In the States, we don’t decide on most issues, rather we decide who will decide. And these people who we’ve chosen should have a healthy fear of us. But instead of us being responsible for our lives and making sure these crooks (or idiots, I’m flexible) do what we’ve entrusted them to do - we issue authority and expect them to take care of us! On a much smaller scale, that’s like handing your life-savings over to a stranger and trusting him to invest it wisely - mostly because you don’t want that responsibility for yourself! He couldn’t give two rips about you and your well-being. You complain when he uses your money to grease a few palms, take a few vacations, buy a few gifts, throw a few parties… But you never check in and you keep sending him your cash.
We’ve given the United States to the government, but it belongs to us, folks. I don’t know how to get it back. I’m not sure how you remove the entitlement center of a few hundred-million brains. I do know, though, that the more we let the government do for us, the less freedom we have.
We are frantically and excitedly giving away the freedom that we have so enjoyed. That’s bad enough, but we’re also giving away the freedom of the following generations of Americans.
Our kids won’t be as free as we are now.

How to Lead Hundreds to Christ - Every Day

I heard someone say a while ago that when he came back from Mississippi from helping Samaritan’s Purse in their attempt to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina that someone asked him before asking anything else, “How many did you lead to Christ?”
Ahem. Tell me this isn’t an intimidating question. What this person is saying is, “I don’t really care what you did to help, or how many you helped, or about the sacrifice you made to do it all - I just want to know how many people you led in prayer to accept Christ.”
He meekly answered, “None.”
I think he should have answered “dozens” or “hundreds.” I have a couple problems here that I think we should start dealing with.
We Christians in America have completely redefined what it means to lead people anywhere. Remember the phrase, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”? We can lead without forcing the last step!
We can lead someone to the throne by delivering the best apologetic for the faith, or answering their concerns, or comforting them, or rebuilding their home, or helping them load that heavy case of bottled water into their vans in the parking lot at CostCo, but we can’t make them fall on their knees.
The Holy Spirit causes all this change on the inside. We are privileged - profoundly privileged - to play even a small role in that. But it is He who calls them.
We lead people to Him - or away - all day long in all sorts of ways. Our lives are signposts pointing the way. We are stepping stones on the path to Him. All of us followers of Jesus are leading people to Him all day long in all we say and do.
I pray that each day I am leading 100+ students to Christ. And another hundred on the freeway. And a couple at the drive-thru at Jack in the Box, and that barista at StarBucks. I pray I am every day leading my family to Christ when I get home by how I act and react.
The list of how many people we are leading to Christ is endless. Let’s focus what it really means to lead people to Christ.

Common Era = Common Heap o' Poo

One popular thing to do nowadays, at least in the sciences, is to replace the common phrase B.C. (before Christ) with BCE, that is, Before Common Era.
Pardon me if throw up a little here. In an attempt to rid the calendar of Christ (you know, that fascist monster from the Galilee) some people who know better and/or are frightened of this man (Christophobic?) have replaced him with a Common Era.
Now here is a question or two. What the heck is a Common Era? An era we all have in common? What was it before that, an Uncommon Era? What suddenly makes it “common”? Really… 35 BCE is 35 years before an imaginary common era started up? Does this Common Era apply to all people everywhere on the planet, unlike that eurocentric BC? If not, why not? If so, how?
Face it. This is a ridiculously asinine attempt to push Christ out of the picture - again. When will it end? Someone has to grow up soon - before I self-ignite!
Common Era Advocates: It will be OK! You needn’t panic! Using B.C. (or God forbid, A. D.) will not give you some social disease! Move along citizen, nothing to see here!
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