About Christians and The Issue of Music

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Conflicts over music is not a present-day struggle among Christians of today. From time immemorial, the church has been divisive over the issue of choice of music. Back in high school, I had a friend who vehemently protested against the use of musical instruments in the church because he believes it is paganistic and unbiblical. You probably know of folks who are deeply acquainted with old hymns that any other form of music appears to be ‘devil-inspired’ to them. In our time, many Christians divide mostly on 2 key things with respect to music and that will be my focus:

  • Should a Christian listen to “secular” music?
  • Are all music styles (focus is more on Christian Rap, Pop and Rock music) acceptable for a Christian to consume or not?

Music is not inherently bad. As a matter of fact, music is one of the good and perfect gifts from God to man. It forms an essential part of our human life and that’s the more reason I even decided to talk about it. But like any other gift that is susceptible to abuse, music is no exception. If a song can comfort a broken heart, produce a therapeutic effect in a sick individual or unite people from different backgrounds then I bet the effect of music on us cannot be overemphasized. As a Christian, it is just right to evaluate the songs we listen to using biblical principles. If God indeed gave the gift of music to man, it is only right for man to go back to God if he needs more information on what has been given to him. So let’s go ahead and examine music under God’s light.

The first thing I want us to look at is the reason behind any composed song. Every artiste surely has an aim for producing a particular song. I know of musicians whose songs inform and educate society tremendously on various issues of life. There are others who delight only in entertaining their listeners. In the Bible, music was used to achieve various purposes. For example:

  • Music was used to offer worship to God or idols
  • Music was used to announce wars as well as celebrate war victories (2 Chronicles 20:26-28)
  • Music was used during the crowning of kings (1 Kings 1:39-40)
  • Music was used in soothing troubled souls (1 Samuel 16:16-23)

My point is, music composition has never been coincidental, there’s always a purpose underlying its production. But the question deepens more for us Christians: Does the purpose of the music in question agree with the entire counsel of scripture? Does the song bring glory and honor or shame to God’s name? I don’t care about the quality of the song or the depth of info it’s got to feed people with. But it makes mention of God’s name and teaches me some good values in life. Good eh? John Bevere will be extremely glad to tell you that it wasn’t the EVIL side of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that Eve was drawn to but the GOOD side. My friend, whether God’s name appears a 100 times in the song or the music encourages you to be determined in life or be content with what you have, you must desist from songs that fail to please God’s heart. The fact that something looks good, feels good or sounds good doesn’t mean it’s submitted to God.

What intrigues me most is when Christians ask if it is okay to listen to songs filled with swear words. Like how do you for a second think swear words are acceptable in God’s sight? It doesn’t matter if the song expresses godly values such as purity, honesty, integrity, forgiveness, love, etc. Dirty, silly talk doesn’t fit the Christian lifestyle. It’s not our dialect! The Bible admonishes us to be gracious in our speech so that we can bring out the best in others. I don’t even have to waste more space explaining to you why it is wrong for believers to entertain songs laced with swear words. They’ll set you off a downhill slide into more filthiness and eventually leave you pretty messed up.

Don’t listen to music for listening sake. Scrutinize the content of the message it carries across. I’ve reached a point in my life where I ask myself these questions: what is there to learn from this song I’m listening to? How does it stir my emotions? What does it make me worship? What kind of mood does it create for me as a child of God? Does it stimulate pride or humility within me? Does it make me calm or aggressive? Does it encourage me to engage in social vices? Does it make me yearn more for a closer relationship with God, friends, family and loved ones? You see, music is a strong force (positive or negative) that moves the listener to dance to its tune so it’s important to figure out what exactly the song is trying to communicate to you. I was in this group chat with a friend and he made an interesting comment concerning this ‘music issue’. He said that you may come across a very powerful, inspirational song about a guy fighting every battle to win the heart of the love of his life…and then you look at the music video and it’s the total opposite. He’s besieged by naked women dancing all around him and you’re left in your own small corner to wonder if he’s the same guy who promised another lady to be his one and only. Don’t take music for granted. Unfortunately, some believers have retrogressed to immorality because of the kind of songs they entertain in their lives. You can’t blame them. Like I said, music can shape the thought patterns of an individual, affecting how they perceive and live life. Music engages your entire faculties and that’s why it makes sense for us to saturate ourselves with songs rich in noble, reputable, authentic and gracious things.

Now, let’s turn our attention to music forms. It just so happens that some genres of music invoke an unpleasant atmosphere in certain parts of our world. But does that make that music style in question bad in a general sense? The fact that an open palm, fingers-up gesture is offensive in Greece and not in Ghana or any other country in West Africa should tell us that the gesture is never the problem – the interpretation of the gesture rather is the issue. Greeks find that particular gesture offensive because it reminds them of how people smeared the faces of criminals with faecal matter as they marched them through town. However, an open palm gesture has no such connotation in Ghana. Nobody needs you to be careful to hand-signal the number 5 to someone in Africa because you won’t be offending anyone with that gesture. All I’m trying to say is there may be nothing wrong with the song style in question, but its mere connection to an awful historical event can make it unsuitable for consumption by an individual or a group of people. I know people who eschew Gospel rap music. Their reason for not patronizing Gospel rap is that rap invokes scenes of violence and profanity. They’d rather feel comfortable listening to another music form – and that’s totally fine. I do understand them because majority of the rap music out there propagates very nasty images such as immorality, language perversion, vengeance, egotism, racism, sexism, glorification of drugs and so forth. Does it mean rap music is entirely wrong because of its past association? Not at all! You cannot accept or reject a claim by basing your facts solely on someone’s/something’s history or source and overlooking its current meaning or context. It’s illogical to presume that all who continue with the rap tradition are promoting violence just like it’s illogical for anyone to shun a VW beetle car just because Adolf Hitler was the one who ordered its development. Please understand this: A genre of a song is different from its message. A genre of a song is like a blank canvas waiting for a picture – it’s what you paint on it (your message) that matters most. The likes of Andy Mineo, Trip Lee and Lecrae equally preach the gospel and speak against negative cultural attitudes contrary to the principles of Christ using this same rap form and make great, positive impact in people’s lives. Why? The answer lies in the painting (message) they put on their canvas (rap music). As someone said, the point of music is not that you have music and you want to adorn it with words, but rather that you have a message and want to adorn it with music. A musician can decide to adorn his/her song words with any music style of his/her choice. It’s the message that counts. However, not all of us are at the same level of understanding in this. Of course, perceptions don’t change overnight so I’m not expecting anyone to embrace this truth within a space of 10mins or 24hrs. It’s a gradual process. In the meantime, don’t try to force a particular style of music in a place where it is unwelcoming just because it glorifies God. No matter how truth-honoring and God-pleasing the message of the song is, it can still create a negative environment for people who haven’t come to the realization of that truth yet and you’ll make it extremely difficult for them to express true worship to God. Be very sensitive so you don’t end up sending the masses away from God. Understand your audience, choose the suitable music style and allow yourself and everyone else to worship God in spirit and in truth. After all, your abstention or involvement in a particular genre of songs does not change God’s attitude towards you, it changes your attitude towards God (positive or negative).

Let me say something real quick here. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 8 that God does care a lot when we use our freedom carelessly in a way that leads a vulnerable person to be thrown off track completely. I say this in relation to the argument we make concerning secular music. Well, I won’t deny the fact there are very good, inspirational secular songs out there. This is my major problem with listening to those songs. Most of the artistes who compose these wonderful songs also compose profane songs. Now tell me, if you heard someone listening to a profane song by one of these artistes, on what grounds will you stand to tell that person that it’s wrong to listen to that artiste or song in question? Do you get my point? It complicates everything. All things are lawful but not everything is spiritually appropriate so if I were you, I’d be willing to give up anything that creates a stumbling block for people. Don’t let your personal preference prevail over your love for your neighbour. 

Never ever underestimate the power of music. It reaches your inner being, stirs your emotions up strongly and eventually molds you to become whatever it constantly feeds your senses with. AS A MAN THINKETH, SO IS HE. Let’s be very discerning when it comes to the songs we entertain in our lives. If it in no way glorifies God, please do away with it. It’s that simple! Stay away from songs that glorify what God opposes and opposes what glorifies God. A word to the wise is enough!

 

 

 

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Dealing With The Fundamental Problem of The 21st Century: Plan Your Future

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Photo credit: http://www.typorama.com

 

Who will you be 5/10/15/20years from now?

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Photo taken from http://www.digitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, I want to share with you some very important lessons I gathered from listening to Dr. Mensa Otabil preach a message entitled ‘Developing a 20-year Life Plan’. First time I heard him speak on this subject was early 2014 after he had declared ‘ORDER’ as the church’s theme for the year. As usual, the church was overflowing with so many people since it was – yes you guessed right – the first Sunday of the year. No one intends to miss the first Sunday of a new calendar year. I left home earlier than usual that day (I’m always on time but this was a special ‘on time’) because I didn’t want to give up my usual sitting spot. I have a special preference for seats close to the stage. The reason being that at the end of the service I would have siphoned large chunks of Otabil’s anointing into my spirit man. Just in case you didn’t know, the closer you are to the stage and by extension the man of God, the greater the chances of your supernatural breakthrough. Aha! ‘Too much play’ a typical Ghanaian will say. Alright, let’s get to the crux of my message. I want to start with a quote by Myles Munroe:

“The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but a life without a purpose.”

 

Just recently, the clarion call to plan my future rang so hard in my heart, it felt like a high-voltage electricity had zapped me. I had been prompted a few times but I guess the notifications weren’t strong enough to make me leap to their summons. This ‘electric shocker’ was no joke. I took a sneak peek into the future with my mind’s eye and I didn’t like the outcome. I was confused and somewhat terrified. I’m in my mid-20’s (early 20’s to be precise) and the question I keep asking myself is ‘what have I successfully achieved up until now?’ I can’t even recollect some of the goals I put down some 5 years ago (that’s if I put any goals down in the first place) so how do I possibly go ahead to evaluate myself. This is probably the reason for the tension build-up within me. You don’t leave anything to chance in this life because if you do, life will gladly put you in a place you never asked for – and you sure wouldn’t like it. This is why I felt the need to dig through the internet and feed my soul with this thought-provoking message again. I needed to wake my lazy self up (you probably need to do same too) and get back on track. Frankly speaking, when I listened to the audio again, it felt as though it was only yesterday he spoke those words of wisdom (no exaggerations here). I don’t plan on wasting further ‘typing ink’ and space so let me go ahead to share some of the lessons I learnt.

 

God has a plan for each one of us. You are not a miscarriage of nature. You are not here by accident. Your parents might have not planned your birth, but God did because He has a project for you. You need to live each day with the mindset that there’s a reason for your existence here on Earth. Quick question: Do you know how the first car came about? It all happened one stormy night in the year 1807 when violent winds spiraled into an old politician’s garage. First, nails, screws, old newspapers and empty flower pots were swept up into the air where they began to collide with one another. As the winds got stronger old paint cans, pliers, dustpans and four basketballs joined the collision process. This random bumping took place over a long period of time until the various automotive parts – bonnet, doors, battery, headlamps,etc – appeared and rearranged completely to form the car. Absolutely ridiculous you say? Yes! Never in history did a car pop out from someone’s garage. There was a plan for its amazing invention. In the same way, God fearfully and wonderfully created each one of us with a unique purpose. This is why Jeremiah full of the Holy Ghost  said that God had holy plans for him even before he was conceived. ‘We are not here filling space’ as Otabil said. We need to discover God’s plan for our lives (not OUR plan for OUR lives). And until we find our true purpose, we’d never be able to appreciate who we truly are and function adequately as we are intended to.

 

God gives us necessary tools to design ourselves according to the plan He has for us.

Not only do we carry specific tasks in our hands, but also we have the ability to tailor ourselves to suit our God-given assignment. I feel this is where many of us fall short. We are struggling to make great strides in certain facets of our lives because the plan and the design is a total mismatch; no points of connection whatsoever. Let’s look at the example below:

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Sumo wrestler (left), Gymnast (right)

Sumo wrestlers are clearly different from gymnasts. You can tell by simply comparing their physique. The gymnast has a slender body and light muscle mass and this helps her to obtain the right balance, agility and strength to pull off a performance successfully. The Sumo wrestler on the other hand is heavy with muscle mass for a reason: the heavier he is, the more difficult it is for his opponent to push him out of the ring. If we should look into their lifestyle habits, I can bet their diet and recommended daily exercises are different. Why? Because each one has to “design” his/her body according to the specific task ahead of them. If you’re a ‘hawk’, you don’t swim; you fly. That’s your build. The plan must influence the design. Spend enough time to understand your God-given plan so you can obtain the fruition of your assignment by choosing the right design.

 

God’s plan for us is time-bound. You don’t have ETERNITY to accomplish anything on Earth, you only have TIME and that time is finite. Do you realize that in life, the only time you have is the time you make use of? Every other minute, hour or day that goes unused is a part of your life flushed away. Gone never to be regained. It is said that procrastination is the thief of time but I want to push it further by saying PROCRASTINATION IS THE THIEF OF LIFE. Yes. A waste of time surely is a waste of life. Really, we need to stop treating time as though we were playing a game of soccer. There’s no fourth referee to signal any ‘TIME ADDED ON’ here.  Work diligently with the time you have because there’s no more time other than what is already set out for us. Sometimes we need that little nudge to remind ourselves that it’s 24 hours in a day, not 29, 7 days in a week, not 15, and 52 weeks in a year, not 1000. If you want to be the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, you begin your search for a mentor during your teen years. You don’t wait till you are past 25 years before you get moving. No. You should have read several books on Entrepreneurship and Leadership, attended very important training workshops and networked with business-minded individuals by now. You don’t wait till the last minute. Also, don’t expend unnecessary energy on so many things at the same time. Like I said, the clock is ticking. Rather, learn to do a few things WELL because that is what will bring the best out of you. I don’t know about you but I sometimes wish I had received these tips a bit earlier. But not to worry at all. At least, I’ve learnt that what needs to be accomplished today needn’t be accomplished 5 or 10 years from now. I need to do what needs to be done now, NOW because time and tide never wait for any man or woman.

 

 

And finally…

 

Do what God has designed you to do to have fulfillment in Life. Don’t waste your life trying to fulfill your friend’s or parent’s desire. Life is already too short to waste it chasing after someone else’s dreams. Find what is yours. See it. Embrace it. Breathe it. Love it. OWN IT and live life to fulfill YOUR God-given desire. God bless

 

NB: I’ll be writing a second and final part to this post soon. In the meantime, you’ll find attached to this article a link to a guide on how to draw a personal 20-year life plan. It’s the exact guide I received in church the first time the message was preached. I want you to download and PRINT a copy for yourself. To say what he said on that day, you are free to make changes to the original document. This is just to guide you on your journey to draw an effective personal 20-year life plan. God bless once again!

 

 

 

Click on the link below to download:

 

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Wild At Heart

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Written by: John Eldredge

There’s something about Wild At Heart that I cannot really put my finger on. Maybe later but certainly not now. And yes, let me start with my little confession. My first reaction towards this book was purely negative (no one knew until now). Wild At Heart? You seriously want your readers to be WILD AT HEART? Like learn how to win a street brawl or pick locks or try to grab a cobra by its tail? Mmm! You know, I thought I was going to be introduced to some pretty wild and dangerous tricks. The early chapters of the book make you think John is one of those die-hard supporters of machoism simply because the theme of aggressive manliness seems to spread across those pages but…there’s a reason we are told not to be quick to judge the content of things by how they appear because we may just be wrong. Yes, I judged the book wrongly and I’m so glad I didn’t walk away from it but read to the very end. John Eldredge’s Wild At Heart meets one of the most important demands of reality. It’s a book written to remind men of who they really are and who they are supposed to be. Grab a copy of this book for yourself, read it and you’ll soon realize that few men live because most of us (the men) are content with the kind of lives we live under the false image of our masculinity. This book isn’t just for males but for females as well so ladies please don’t walk away from here yet. Please sit back, relax and enjoy the ride even as I go ahead to share just three interesting thoughts with you.

 

Danger is our middle name

Do you realize how boys and men are naturally drawn like magnets to adventure? Forbidden places and daring acts tickle us so easily. They just poke our souls and whet our appetites into exploring and finding out ‘what the heaven’ makes them risky. We don’t like it when we are told not to ‘go there’ or ‘try this at home’. The moment you voice out those statements, you rather give us the green light to do the opposite. We want to know why we can’t cross certain lines in life. It’s part of our nature. Explain the likely consequence(s) with all your might, once we haven’t experienced it for ourselves, there’s a greater probability of failing to convince us—well, most of us (a few will back off and that’s not bad at all). Danger is more like our middle name and the character trait that comes with it forms a core part of who we are. That’s why it’s very important that a man does not lose this part of himself; his innate desire to be adventurous in life. I’m not saying get rowdy and be all over the place or something of that sort in order to be seen as a real man. What I’m trying to say is we must be very careful with how we handle the longings of the wild heart of a man. Don’t quench the fire within the bosom of a boy or man that moves him to seek adventure. Take that away from him and that boy/man loses his masculinity. Respect the fact that men are designed to be adventurous for a particular purpose and that, it is in that trip they get to discover what that purpose really is. One man’s adventure may be different from another man’s adventure. The underlying factor is the boldness that comes with moving from your comfort zone to a conflict zone to secure new grounds in life. Allow the adventurous spirit to bubble within you, dear men. Be encouraged. Be motivated to toughen yourself up by exploring other areas in your life but act wisely. Get a dependable mentor to guide you on this path, since nothing useful comes out of senseless undertakings.

Niceness isn’t all there is to being a man

Let me address the Christian brothers shortly. I think most of us in imitating the lifestyle of Christ are quick to picture Jesus as the meek and mild lamb. That’s not wrong at all. The Bible does refer to Him as the Lamb of God and lambs as we know are very gentle and love to stay away from trouble. Do you read in your bibles that this same Jesus is also known as the Lion of Judah? Please read Revelations if you think I’m making this up. Lions are fierce creatures ever ready to fight to protect the pride from hungry predators. Are you getting the picture now? Jesus wasn’t just an incarnation of Mercy, He’s like Braveheart who would step right into the middle of a situation and fight until everything is restored back to normal. How did he refer to the Pharisees whenever he wanted to expose their clandestine activities? Brood of vipers and all…meehn, that doesn’t look ‘gentlemanly’ at all. When His Father’s house was turned into a shopping mall, what did he do? He went straight to the Temple and threw out those who were buying and selling. Oh and for the record, Mr. Nice Jesus wasn’t really soft about the whole show. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants, spilling coins left ‘n’ right. Gentle Jesus put together a whip out of strips and leather… Wait! Wait! Wait! Did He really make whip of cords? For what? Cheerleading performance? I leave you to reach your verdict for that. My mini-mission here is to remind you of the wild One whose image we bear. The God you and I serve (that is if you are a Christian like me) is a God of peace alright. Nevertheless, He is a Warrior; Yahweh is His name (refer to Exodus 15:3). Don’t say you are a man just because you are a gentleman or because you are exceedingly and abundantly nice to everyone you meet. If all there is to our identity is ‘niceness’, then I assure you we are ‘castrated’ men. Real men are aware of what’s going on in the world and there’s a part of them that longs to enter a battle and make things right. We must be careful not to distort the image God has bestowed upon us. He is a LAMB and a LION! Once again, I’m not advocating machoism over here; I just want to remind us of how the total nature of our masculinity looks like and how we’ve for so long focused on only one side of our make-up. We must embrace the other side of us too; the other side that desires to fight and rescue something precious to us.

The Traitor within the Castle

Olympus has fallen is an American thriller movie I will recommend for anyone to watch on any day. So many lessons to learn from that movie bruh! It portrays how a group of terrorists kidnaps the President of the United States and seizes The White House. A particular scene caught my attention the most and that is HOW The White House was overpowered. At first, I felt the mission was accomplished too easily considering the fact that The White House is no child’s play. It’s an impregnable fortress fortified with one of the world’s most special elite forces (Speaking as though I toured there last night). But after I watched that scene again, I realized the destruction of the White House wasn’t successful because the external forces mounted a well-calculated air and ground assault; the mission was a piece of cake because there was the presence of a FIFTH COLUMN. A what? Yes, FIFTH COLUMN! It’s a group of people within a larger group who form strong alliances with external forces to commit treasonous acts against one’s own leader or city or nation. It’s the highest form of betrayal of trust and confidence; a violation of allegiance to one’s sect; a breach of faith. All you have to do is gather few insiders to execute a powerful espionage within defense lines and then witness the fall of a great person, company, city or nation right before your very own eyes. Dear men, there’s a traitor within our castle too and we cannot allow it to have its way in our fortress—especially when we are driven by wild hearts. This traitor is no other thing than our flesh. What a troublesome and treacherous thing we have in our midst! It’s the impostor out there wandering the corridors day and night planning the perfect ambush for us. Every boy and man is at constant war with his flesh every day. If it’s not what he sees, then it’s what he hears. If it’s not what he hears, then perhaps what he smells, feels, or tastes. Men, we know what we war against everyday so I wouldn’t go deep into that. That’ll be another blogpost on its own (Find me a title so I start working on it ASAP!). How do we go up against an enemy who knows how to harm us badly by exploiting our weaknesses? Go find out and share with me if you can in the comments section.

Many of us want to battle and repossess our true masculine strength but how many of us are ready to bleed for it? We hesitate a lot. We prefer to stay hidden under our shells by accepting what we’ve become. That sounds like the description of a loser to me. If there’s anything I’ve come to learn in this life, it is that it’s always better to try and even fail than to fail to try. After all, ‘failures are fingerposts on the road to achievement’ as C.S Lewis puts it. We must allow our masculinity to send us on trips far away from our comfort zones. Get out. Wade through the waters. Go discover yourself and return only when you’ve found YOU. We must let the whole world feel the weight of WHO WE ARE on our arrival. We must prepare ourselves for this—to join the few real men that live on this earth.

Before I end, allow me to share some of the poignant quotes I came across in this book…

“The deepest search in life, it seemed to me, the thing that in one way or another was central to all living was man’s search to find a father, not merely the father of his flesh, not merely the father of his youth, but the image of a strength and wisdom external to his need and superior to his hunger, to which the belief and power of his own life could be united.” –Tom Wolfe

“It is so essential to hear from God about your true name, because in that name is the mission of your life.” — John E.

“The Big Lie in the church today is that you are nothing more than “a sinner saved by grace.” You are a lot more than that. You are a new creation in Christ. The New Testament calls you a saint, a holy one, a son of God. In the core of your being you are a good man. Yes, there is a war within us, but it is a civil war. The battle is not between us and God; no, there is a traitor within who wars against our true heart fighting alongside the Spirit of God in us…” — John E.

 “Our strength is wild and fierce, and we are more than unsettled by what may happen if we let it arrive. One thing we know: Nothing will ever be the same. One client said to me, “I’m afraid I’ll do something bad if I let all this show up.” No, the opposite is true. You’ll do something bad if you don’t. Remember—a man’s addictions are the result of his refusing his strength.” –John E.

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. “He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,” is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. The paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage. A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice. He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to live, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine.” –G.K Chesterton