My Thoughts on Contemporary Christian Music

love music. I listen to it all the time. I require my music to meet certain standards, though. I believe these  standards are very biblical.  Basically, is it pure, wholesome, noble, admirable… or is it not?  Which leads  me to a very controversial topic I would like to discuss today: contemporary Christian music. (I hear the  Traditionals gasp.) I’ll be writing my own views on this issue and have thought them through very carefully.   However, I would love to hear someone else’s ideas. One of the ways that we become wise is by listening  to others’ arguments.  So, let’s hear them!  Politely and with love, though, please.

The church that I attend has the mindset that all contemporary Christian music (CCM) is evil. There is some  CCM that isn’t edifying, true, but I disagree with their blanket statement and stance. Anyway, I had it in my  head for a long time that it was just their old fashioned ways, that they simply weren’t open to any music  besides hymns. But then I started to wonder, what is their reason for so proactively speaking against CCM?  I never heard them give any proof or scripture to back up their teaching. Therefore, it made me question the  whole idea that CCM is wrong.

There was a time that I kind of believed them, that CCM was evil. I only believed them because I was at a  point where I was believing everything I heard without analyzing it. I didn’t consider myself gullible; after all,  I’ve been raised to look at everything analytically, to process what one calls “truth” and pick it apart, to  separate truth from fallacies. But I wasn’t putting this into practice; I merely accepted what our pastor stated  as truth. Therefore, I thought that hymns were the only way to go.

That was for a season. I eventually decided it wasn’t worth giving up all I had known to listen to these  hymns only. Since I wasn’t truly convicted, I didn’t act on what I had thought I believed as truth. So I  listened to CCM again. It didn’t seem in any way bad to me. If it was by a Christian artist, it had to be a  “Christian” song by my reasoning. That made sense. But then, one day, there was a special speaker at our  church revival, and he gave a message that made me question all I had thought to be true on the topic.  After hearing him speak, all of us went home convicted in one way or another. My brother and I felt  convicted of the music we listened to. I now believed that what I listened to was wrong, and I was  determined to weed out what didn’t honor God.

But I still didn’t have clear, set beliefs for what I thought was right and wrong. Again, I simply followed what  I had heard someone else proclaim as truth. So, my conviction/repentance didn’t last long. I quickly sank  back into listening to the same old music. The songs I listened to were never actually bad in themselves;  they were just really fluff, not edifying at all, but not blaring out “evil” messages, either. I always had in the  back of my head a slightly guilty feeling, though I didn’t act on it.

So eventually, I started hearing more about how this CCM stuff was bad, evil, wicked. I sort of blew it off.  There was nothing wrong with the CCM I listened to, I thought. I was hearing arguments and debates on  why it was evil, and I thought the reasons that these stubborn people were giving was all ridiculous. They  had no legitimate reasons for why CCM was wrong. It all sounded foolish, like they were trying to prove  why they were right, instead of why the belief in itself was right.

So I started doubting, starting to question my own beliefs. Why did I think that CCM was good? Was it  really? What did I believe about the music I was listening to?

I eventually came to a decision, and acted on that. This is how I determine what songs I should listen to:

The song should be God – honoring, not sound like the world in any way, and not try to draw attention to  the artist; rather, to God.

I drew this from the verse: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your  mind, that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Actually, I drew most of my  convictions from this verse. Don’t conform your mind to the world; you will grow to reject the truth. I know  this first – hand. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you can know what God’s  will is for you. Don’t choose styles of music that sound just like the latest Taylor Swift song, done with  “Christian” lyrics. How are you separating yourself from the world when you take worldly tunes, beats, and  rhythms and set Christian lyrics to them so you can enjoy the pleasures of the world under a Christian label?  It doesn’t edify you at all as a believer, and you’re not standing out from the world.

The lyrics should be God – honoring. This one isn’t as hard to draw a line for as it may seem. Would you  feel comfortable if Christ had an earbud in, listening to it with you? Do you think He would be pleased?  Would He listen to it? Does it praise him, glorify Him, speak of Him at all? I know it sounds cliché, but it’s  true. I know of many, many songs that are just fluff; they literally have no point. It’s like a bunch of random  words flung together to a really catchy beat. I don’t think those would honor God in the least. To me, those  qualify as dishonoring God; because there’s no neutral between dishonoring and honoring.

Also, the artists have two ways they can present their music. They can do it with exaggerated voices,  showy movements, gaudy apparel, or fashionable modern poses, words, or other actions. This simply  cannot please God. What we do will reflect what condition our hearts are in; if we are filled with self and  pride, it will flow from our actions. If we are filled with Christ, everything we do will have the love of Christ  emitting from it. Or, they can present it in a humble fashion, directed toward the Lord and away from  themselves. These are key things I look for when listening to music.

I want to present my answers to some common questions concerning CCM:

Is CCM evil?

Most legalistic, traditional churches will tell you yes. I’m not here to dispute that. There are songs, as  mentioned before, that I disapprove of. However, I am not of the mindset that CCM overall is evil. I don’t  think we’re limited to hymns only. I think it depends on the song. As I’ve said, if it’s a Taylor Swift – style  song that simply has “Christian” lyrics, I don’t think it’s God – honoring. On the other hand, if it would  honor the Lord and help me to praise Him, I think it’s perfectly acceptable. It depends on your personal  conviction. I don’t know where that invisible line is drawn. I haven’t met anyone who claims to know the  answer. This is kind of a dangerous line to walk; but I can’t control your relationship with God. Only you  know the depths of how your relationship with God is growing or diminishing. You have to go by truths, and,  when it’s controversial, your convictions on how the truth is proclaimed.

But anyway, the kind of churches that oppose this style of music will tell you that it’s because it’s “worldly”. I  agree, to a large extent. Most of the CCM I hear on the radio today absolutely imitates the world. However,  much of their additional reasonings aren’t legitimate to me. I heard one man protest that you must first know  if the artist is truly saved by knowing their testimony to deem their music appropriate for listening. I disagree.  I don’t think you need to pore over every artist’s life story to approve of the songs. But then, that’s my  conviction. I’m not here to tell you what to believe. I’m just stating what I believe and feel is right.

Why do some think CCM is evil?

I briefly touched on that in the paragraph above, but I want to focus on it solely. Some think that it imitates  the world too much. Others think it encourages your interests in the style of music and leads you down  worldly paths into enjoying that same style of music, but in the world. I even heard one man say that people  listen to CCM because they’re trying to revamp the emotional love for Christ they lost. I can’t disagree with  all of this. It’s true, sometimes certain CCM does lead you to enjoy the same kind of music of the world,  and some CCM does imitate the world. A lot of it does. However, I can’t agree with it completely. I know of  some artists who do a very good job of honoring the Lord with their music and voice.

Where do you draw the line between “worldly” and “clean”?

I’m not afraid to say it; I don’t know. For me, it depends on personal conviction, unless someone shows me  differently and I agree that it matches up to the Scriptures. Set your standards for acceptable songs. Be  reasonable. Don’t bend the rules to satisfy your fleshly desires; don’t cheat God. Then, see what songs you  listen to meet that criteria.

What about drums and guitars? Are they sinful?

I personally think it’s a matter of presentation. Drums and guitars really do have the capability to provide a  worldly effect to a song. They’re instruments: as with all instruments, you can either use them to glorify  God, or dishonor Him. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to call them sinful. There’s nothing about the  instruments themselves: it’s the way you use them that creates the effect. However, for a church I would  say no. It does create that “rock – concert” feel, and though there’s nothing wrong with the instrument, it  invites in things you wouldn’t desire to have in your church.

What if the song has an amazing message, but worldly beat?

It depends if your standards let you bend far enough to wade through the stuff you disagree with to get to  the message. Some songs to me just aren’t worth it, and others are. Personal conviction.

Is dancing sinful?

Okay, so maybe this one’s not exactly CCM, but it’s another legalist church argument that’s in relation to  music. Dancing can be a way to express joy. David in the Bible danced for joy. But these days, it’s become  a source of entertainment; one that can quickly go beyond appropriate. This is the argument for the  legalistic church. Dancing is sinful because of what it leads to. Okay, so in the sense they’re talking about, I  agree. What dancing can lead to isn’t exactly pure, and I think that the kind of dancing they’re referring to  can have a bad effect on some. However, I don’t think dancing’s bad. I don’t see how some forms of dance  could be considered evil.

Am I being too picky? Too analytical? Maybe. But I don’t think that common arguments are something to  just stand by and watch go on all around you. Take a stand, take a side. Discern what you believe, and  ground yourself in faith. That way you may know how to take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Advertisements

Valentine Card Challenge

♡♡♡   ♡♡♡   ♡♡♡   ♡♡♡   ♡♡♡

Crista Moriah over at http://www.uniquelyfashionedforhisglory.blogspot.com/ has started a Valentine Card Challenge. The goal is to send 1,400 cards to imprisoned children in Uganda by February 14. All you have to do is make a card, write out John 3:16, and “God Loves You”, or “Jesu Okwagala”, in Lugandan. If you plan to make one (or a hundred!), go over to her blog and comment to let her know how many you’ve made. Send your card(s) to:

Address & send to the ministry SixtyFeet:

Sixty Feet Inc.
2451 Cumberland Parkway
Suite 3526
Atlanta, Georgia
30339

See her blog also for more details. Please join me in showing God’s love to these children!

When God Is Silent

Hey y’all, sorry my posts lately have been pretty impersonal, I’m trying to work on that. (I’m not an  experienced blogger, so I’m still figuring things out.) Thanks for reading despite my quirks. We’ll see how it  goes…

Lately I haven’t been feeling in a very “theological mood”, you might call it. *Gasp* Yes, I know, I’m not  supposed to say those things, but it’s true. Sometimes, I don’t really have a lot to say here on this blog.  Sometimes, I don’t learn my lessons the first time – just ask my parents; they know exactly what I’m talking  about. Sometimes, my spirit isn’t teachable (At. All.). And other times, it seems like God isn’t speaking to me.  There are times when it feels like He is silent.

One of my favorite speakers who comes to speak at our church periodically said this recently: God is silent  on purpose, because He wants to see your heart. I have to remind myself of this sometimes, because there  are days when I don’t feel like He’s speaking to me at all. But then I’m forced to ask myself, have I been  speaking to Him?

To have a relationship with someone, it goes both ways, right? You can’t be close to someone when all you  do is focus on yourself. (i.e. talk about yourself, do things for yourself, etc.) It takes investing in the other  person to really know them.

I’ve already gone over prayer and investing in others in previous posts. So we’re spending more time in  prayer and reaching out to those around us, that’s great. We should absolutely do those things. But we  can’t let those things become more important than listening. If we don’t listen to the voice of God, how are  we supposed to truly learn anything? I can read the Bible every day, but unless I listen to what He has to  say through His Word, it’s pointless. I am working on breaking this habit that I’ve developed in my own Bible  reading. We can’t just go through the motions so we can check off another box on our busy schedule, as  most of my Bible reading has been through the few years I’ve actually put any effort into it. We have to  listen, or it doesn’t benefit us in any way.

It’s just like in a relationship with a friend: you talk and listen. It goes both ways. But do we really listen as  much as we should? I don’t think we do.

To listen to someone, we actually have to spend time with them. I know I’ve already talked about this, but I  can’t stress it enough. We have to spend more time with the Lord. Nothing else should be more important  than growing in Him. How can we do anything else “for Him”, such as witnessing, serving, etc., if we’re not  actively seeking Him and spending time in His Word?

But anyway, back to God being silent. What do we do when He is silent? Obviously we can’t be listening to  Him if He’s not saying anything! I believe it’s a test of our faith. Are we only faithful to Christ when He’s  constantly teaching us through His Word? Do we still continue to love and serve Him even when it feels like  He’s not there?

That brings me to another point I want to make – feelings. We so rely on our feelings in our relationship.  Think about it; that’s what most of our relationships are founded on. Feelings! We limit God to our human  standards for relationships. We try to water Him down to make Him fit the kind of relationships we have with  others around us. We let feelings drive our relationship with Him. But He doesn’t work that way. He wants  us to love Him, just as He first loved us. He first loved us when we were dirty, rotten sinners! He didn’t love  us because we loved Him first.

Isn’t that how it works in our relationships today? We’re not going to be friends with someone else if they  don’t put forth any effort. Why would we? We don’t benefit from it in any way. But that’s not how God  demonstrated love to us. He shows us that it doesn’t require someone loving us back to still love us. We  can’t rely on feelings of love toward God to power our relationship with Him. So when we feel like He’s not  really there, we can’t base the truth on our feelings, if He’s really there or not. He never changes; but we do.  We can’t limit Him to our human standards.

When God is silent, it is hard. It’s hard to feel like He’s a thousand miles away, and we can’t reach Him.  But just because we “feel” like He’s not there doesn’t mean that it’s true. Just because He’s silent doesn’t  mean that He’s not there at all. He wants to see your heart; He wants to see if you’ll love Him no matter  what.

So what will we do? We have a choice to either ace this test of flunk it. What choice will I make? What  choice will you make?

We’ve Lost Our First Love

I frequently get caught up in the little things in life and miss the big picture. I will get so worried about one  area that I forget what’s really important. There have been times when I start worrying about things that are  happening or might happen, whether they’re big or little, and I miss things God’s trying to show me. I focus  my attention somewhere else other than where it ought to be.

I’ve often looked back on a verse in 1 Samuel that I’ve grown to love when I realize that I’ve become caught  up in the trivial things. It’s 1 Samuel 1:8 , “Her husband Elkanah would say to her, ‘Hannah, why are you  weeping? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?’“

When I first read this verse, I realized what the Lord was trying to show me. I was getting upset over the  silly little things that might happen, and was missing growing in my relationship with Him.

Oftentimes, we get caught up in the here and now. We focus on the little problems, and frequently we blow  them out of proportion. But when you evaluate it with an eternal perspective in mind, how often are those  little things truly important? What should you be focusing on instead?

I’ve found that most of the time, these things become more important than my relationship with Christ. I  know, I’m not supposed to say that; but it’s true. But it’s not just me. All of us at one point or another have  put other things where Christ is supposed to be – we have forgotten who our first love is. (Rev. 2:4) We  have made something else higher up on our priority list than maintaining a relationship with our Savior. But  our pride doesn’t want us to admit it.

I’ll just state it bluntly: we idolize things other than Christ.

So, we’ve acknowledged that we have idols: TV, books, social media, friends, activities, etc. What do we do  now?

We surrender our hearts to the Lord and make Him first in our lives. How do we do this? By fleeing the evil  desires of youth and running to Jesus. By loving Him and longing for a close, thriving relationship with Him  more than we do whatever it is we want. It may not be the easiest thing you’ve ever done, but who said  following Christ didn’t come with its challenges? Following Christ means total abandonment to self and  desires of the flesh. It means giving up your old way of life, and the things that bind you to the world. It  means letting go.

“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part  of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble,  cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go  into hell.” Mt. 5:29-30

Sometimes, this change can be beyond difficult. Sometimes, it may be extreme. But if we honestly want  to love Him more, then we must make our desire to love Him overpower our desire to appease the flesh.  We must make the choice that we know is right, and not go by feelings.

God’s calling us back to Him. He wants Himself to mean more to us than ten of whatever it is that we love  more. Will we hold on to what we have put in His place? Or will we answer the call?

Popular

It’s in every one of us to be “liked”, to be “accepted” by people. We all want to have lots of friends and be  well-thought of. Because I’ve never really been a popular person, I’ve often struggled with these feelings.   I am shy and so have trouble getting to know people.  As a result, I’ve never had many friends. I’ve always  known in my head that Jesus is to be our best friend, and that He satisfies our every need.  But I’ll admit, I  used to long quite frequently for the kind of social life that it seemed all of my other friends and  acquaintances enjoyed. I used to be disappointed that no matter how hard I would try, I was frequently the  odd one out.   Now, it really doesn’t matter; I’ve learned not to care about what people think of me.

Popularity has been a coveted status for young and old for as long as there have been people. The thought  is that if you’re not popular, then basically, you’re not worth anyone’s time. You’re a loser or there is  something wrong with you.  According to the world, to be popular is to have worth. Popularity can actually  be measured these days, too, by the number of friends you have on Facebook or the number of likes your  photo receives on Instagram.  A lot of these “friends” are not even people you know well or at all.  You  merely send out friend requests to any and everyone in order to boost your numbers, or else you follow  people you don’t know on Disqus so that they will follow your blog and increase your number of views.  Because, as we all know, the person with the highest numbers is worthy of your respect, admiration, and  worship.

Right?

But by trying to be “popular”, who are we really striving to please? God or man? And is our worth really  wrapped up in what others say about us?  God says that we are  “precious in my eyes, and honored, and  I love you…” (Is. 43:4).  And He also says that we should not “be conformed to this age, but be transformed  by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom. 12:2), implying that we should be in the world but not of the world.

So then, if we are Christians, what God says should matter more to us than what others say.  These worldy  endeavors should be the last thing we desire! We shouldn’t want to fit in; we should want to stand out as  shining lights in this generation of darkness. As long as Christ “likes” us, that should be all that matters. We  get so caught up in the here and now, that we forget about the big picture, of what really matters. Ten years  from now, I probably won’t know most of the people I do now. So then, instead of trying to gain their  approval, I should be shining Christ’s light into their lives and encouraging them to live for Him. Why bother  trying to “impress” others? Impress Christ. Don’t live for man; live for Him. Our time on this earth is so short  and so precious. Don’t waste it trying to be accepted by the world.