Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. - Irenaeus

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gospel Music

Power of the Gospel or the Power of the Sound-System?
The style of church music and worship can obviously differ from one congregation to another, depending on age, ethnicity and tradition. In the past, those raised up in a tent revival experience, where the preacher had no amplified microphones, had to develop a booming voice that could reach the back row. This style has carried over into some groups who still think that when the veins are bulging in the preachers neck, and he is shouting at the top of his lungs, he is really preaching under the anointing. One must realize however that an empty wagon makes a lot of noise.
Some people tend to talk the loudest when they do not have good reason for what they are saying. Therefore talking over their opponent becomes their line of defense.
Noise Pollution
We live in an environment where we are blasted with music in restaurants, while we pump our gas, and often when we are sitting on the toilet. In some churches the presentation is more like a rock concert with mood lighting which appeals to the carnal nature of an audience that has been used to the entertainment mode of gatherings where a performer stirs up the emotions of the crowd for the sake of self-admiration and glory. In these kind of church gatherings the only one with the “anointing” is going to be the person with the loudest microphone. Therefore instead of the body of Christ being able to function as a unit, the congregation becomes a target of whatever is blasted from the sound-system. The power then is not necessarily that of the Holy Spirit but that of amps and watts. Young naive people are easy prey in these kinds of situations. They become convinced that the higher one jumps or waves their hands the more God is pleased. We run into those whose lives are falling apart because their spirituality is the product of a fake and plastic reality. Usually these people have a shallow understanding of apologetics as well.  They might be compared to someone whose bible reading has been limited only a few psalms but totally void of any instruction from the gospels or epistles.
Big Thunder but No Rain
As a musician now over 60 years old, I run into those in the studio environment that have such impaired hearing from years of exposure to noise that when I mix down their songs they have no clue what a proper mix is. There are certain sounds that they can no longer hear. Those that spend much time as a talk-show host under headphones eventually discover that they become dull of hearing as well. Listening to a song with fresh ears a day after it has been mixed will reveal things that one might have tuned out the day before.
Exposure to loud Christian music is no different and can be just as damaging as the blast of the .357 magnum or a screaming power saw, and I for one will not subject myself to it. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and if we do not take care of it we can only blame ourselves. Should the message of the gospel, of love and sacrifice, cause one to loose ones hearing? Those that do not learn these lessons early on will certainly learn them through the school of hard knocks.  We are living sacrifices for the gospel sake, but I have never read that we must blow out our hearing as our first offering. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Labor Pains on Planet Earth

As we watch the news today and see all the things that are happening, famine and earthquakes worldwide, volcanoes erupting, unusual weather almost everywhere, wars and unrest, it seems that things are happening at such an increasing rate, it is a wonder that the media can keep on top of it all. Airplanes falling out of the sky, some because of mechanical failure, others with the help of terrorist bombs and military rocke fire, makes one stop and think for a minute. What in the world is going on?
"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these are merely the beginning of birth pangs." (Matt. 24:7&8) These were the words of Jesus in response to a question asked by his disciples as they stood admiring Herod's temple about two thousand years ago.

As labor pains go, we know that as the time approaches the birth of a child, these pains get closure and closer together until they seem to all run together, and finally all attention is focussed on the event that controls everything, the birth of a new life. If this just the beginning, then what have we to look forward to? Let us back up a bit and look at a few other things that Jesus said.
He had already told them that the temple they were standing in front of would be levelled to the ground (Matt. 24:2, Lk. 21:6) which happened in 70 A.D. when the Roman emperor Titus destroyed the whole city of Jerusalem. He had also proclaimed judgment upon Capernaum, "...for it the miracles had occurred in Sodom which accurredin you, it would have remained until this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you" (Matt.11:23 & 24). Capernaum no longer exists.
He said the people would fall by the edge of the sword, and would be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem would be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the limes of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Lk. 21:24). This has all happened, and now as we are reaching the close of the age of the Gentiles, the Jews, after nearly two thousand years have gone back to their home land.

We can see just from a very few examples that Jesus is true to his word.

Along with the labor pains he warded us that there would be many false Christs and false prophets who would arise and show great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect (Matt. 24:5, 11, 24).
"And there will be signs in sun, and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among the nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken" (Lk. 21:25 & 26).
"Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation (idle or frivolous amusement or diversion, indulgence;) and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of the all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things tha tare about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Lk. 21:34-36). "For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying 'Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape" (1 Thess. 5:2 & 3).

You may be going through a stuggle this very moment and you recogniz the birth pangs,and you fell that you have to make a decision. That is good because the Bible tells us that the Spirit of God will not strive with man forever (Gen. 6:3, 2 Thess. 2:11 & 12). Today is the day of salvation. You do not know if you will get another chance.
You may be like the people that Peter was speaking to a Pentecost, "they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethern, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them. 'Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'" (Acts. 2:37 & 38).
"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Act 4:12).