Love God More
In Fireproof, after Caleb destroys his computer with a baseball bat, he replaces it with a vase of red roses (his wife's favorite) and a card that reads, "I love you more."
Shouldn't we do at least as much for God? Shouldn't we destroy the things in our lives that are destroying our relationship with Him?
Love God More
by Waitsel Smith
Christian Music - Part 2
I got a ton of responses from my e-mail on "Christian Music." About half were from women and half from men. Of the women, virtually 100% were positive, encouraging and of the "attaboy," "high-five," "keep on keeping on" variety. The men, on the other hand, were divided almost 50/50. Of the men who were negative, they almost all thought music was a matter of taste, and that there was nothing spiritual about it. I find this extremely fascinating, because almost all the women mentioned the spirituality of music. Now, I could almost draw some conclusions from this:
1) women are more spiritual than men
2) women give more consideration to what they "take in" than men do
3) women are more concerned about what their children are being exposed to than men
4) women are more thoughtful in general
One thing I do know from observing my fellow males: we will eat, drink, watch and listen to almost anything put in front of us. I find this extremely disheartening, especially when it comes to the things of God; because, in that regard, we have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the table. Yet, God made us heads of our marriages, homes and churches. Go figure.
What bothers me most is how we scratch our heads and wonder, "Why are Christians just like non-Christians?" Our statistics are exactly the same as non-Christians: divorce, pornography addiction, teen-pregnancy, teen-suicide, etc. - they're exactly the same. Why do three out of four Christian teenagers leave the Church when they leave home?
See, I don't scratch my head anymore. I know what the answer is: we watch the same TV shows, listen to the same music, read the same magazines and books, watch the same movies, dress the same, live in the same kinds of houses, treat our wives and children just the same, worry just as much, lust just as much, are just as greedy, just as prideful. Why shouldn't we have the same results?
We cannot be just like the world and think we're somehow going to bear different fruit. God says we're a peculiar people. Well, why don't we start acting like it? What is peculiar about us? Certainly not our music, it's just like the world's. We're saying to God, "We don't want to be peculiar - we want to be just like the world. We want to be cool." Isn't that exactly what the Children of Israel said to God? "Give us a king so we can be like the other nations." God said, "But I'm your King." But He wasn't good enough for them. He was too peculiar. They wanted someone cool. So he gave them Saul - the People Magazine and Time Magazine "Man of the Year." And look how he turned out.
God's ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. Why? Because our ways are the world's ways and our thoughts are the world's thoughts. What would happen if suddenly we changed our ways to God's ways and changed our thoughts to His thoughts. What would happen? We would change. Our hearts would change. Revival would happen. A revolution would occur. A renaissance would take place in our music and culture. Marriages would be healed, homes restored, teenagers saved. But we won't even consider that idea. That's what breaks my heart.
In the movie Fireproof, Caleb takes a baseball bat to his computer because his addiction to pornography and aspirations of owning a boat are destroying his marriage. He then replaces the computer with a vase of roses (his wife's favorite) and a note that says, "I love you more." This is one of the most poignant scenes in the film, and the turning point in Caleb's marriage. Many would think that an extreme gesture. But tell me, how different is that than Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers in the Temple? How different is that than the righteous kings of Judah destroying the high places, of Elijah destroying the 400 prophets of Baal, of Moses destroying the golden calf?
"If your hand or foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you... If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you." (Matt. 18:8,9) I'd say that's pretty extreme action. Yet, those are our Lord's commands. Are we willing to destroy the things in our lives that are destroying us? Are we willing to take a baseball bat to our TVs where we worship at the altar of sports (and are exposed to the suggestive ads in between)? Are we willing to take it to our music that our lives revolve around, our R-rated movie collections, our novels that fill our minds with worldly thoughts, our magazines that tell us how the world expects us to look and act? And, yes, are we willing to take it to our computers that offer an unrestricted gateway to unlimited pornography?
"Walk by the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." (Gal. 5:16) Conversely, walk by the flesh and you will not fulfill the desires of the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are the result of walking by the Spirit. If we're not doing that, is there any wonder our statistics are exactly the same as the world's? When are we going to change? When are we going to get down on our knees, the way Caleb did in Fireproof, and beg God to change us? When are we going to get out our baseball bats and start destroying those things in our lives that are keeping Him from changing us? Change - real change - is a cooperative effort between God's Spirit and us. We have to do our part, the way Caleb did his. Are you willing? Are you willing to love Him more?
Waitsel Smith, October 6, 2008
COMMENTS FROM READERS LIKE YOU:
[Send me yours and I'll include them on this page. Let me know what you think.]
I did enjoy your follow up post on Christian Music and also agreed with your views. To be honest, parts of this blog are literally a sermon that could/should be preached.
Here are some of my thoughts related to your post:
1. I agree that women are generally more spiritual then men. They are built to understand and value the 'intuitive + emotional' aspects of relationship, which is exactly what God is trying to build with us, a relationship. As men, we tend to suck at relationships and far too often chase only ourselves instead of chasing God, like David did.
2. I agree it is a crisis of major proportion that Christian statistics for divorce, teen pregnancy, suicide, etc., mirror that of unbelievers. It is the hard truth that living one foot in the world and one foot with Christ just doesn't work... and you already know what His rebuke is on those of us who live out a faith that is luke warm.
3. I loved your analogy that ties this idea back to Israel asking God for a king. The children of Israel must have deeply regretted this request under the reign of kings like Saul, Abijah, Baasha, etc.. however, in His perfect wisdom, God also gave them David, who God used in many incredible ways despite David's sinfulness. I guess this is to my earlier point that it is extremely difficult to make an accurate heart analysis though a person's appearances alone. However, I agree that it is a very slippery slope when we fade into the world and are unrecognizable to Jesus.
I would love to see you follow up this post with one more that pulls from a great book by Chuck Colson, called "How now shall we live"? ... Chuck writes a good description of what a life in Christ should look like versus one living in the world alone.
One last point... I really love your idea of "Love God More"... we can literally use this logic against anything that distracts us from a kingdom focus or from being the man that God designed us to be... in our homes, at work, our relationships, marriages, etc... it is a very powerful challenge to all.
Thanks brother for being bold and brave. As we discussed, it takes incredible bravery to blog, however the value is tremendous... like iron sharpening iron.
I look forward to more such discussions henceforth... - Keith, Atlanta
Okay, three comments on the email - 2 serious, 1 tongue-in-cheek:
1. Just so you know, I don't listen to any of the bands/music you eschewed in your previous post. Why? I think they "probably" represent a level of spiritual maturity, Jesus-focus, theological accuracy, musical interest, etc, that I prefer to avoid. I say "probably" because I don't know, because I don't listen, and yes their appearance influences my disinterest in listening. BUT, I try to be careful about making judgments based on appearances. I recall God telling Samuel that he was not into that, and I think it unwise to label throw around "normal/abnormal" as a description of people's appearance.
2. I also think you go too far with your (apparent) philosophy that any musical style extant in our culture must be intrinsically wrong/bad. I also disagree that a right/good Christian musical style is one which is completely original, and comes from outside culture, with no cultural influence. That just doesn't happen. Name the artist (Christian or non, "original" or not) and that artist will tell you who influenced his/her music).
3. Finally, maybe the conclusion from your responses is that you and the ladies are just plain wrong.
I'll let you decide which comment is tongue-in-cheek :-) - Lon, Atlanta
WOW! RIGHT ON!!! You totally rocked that one! I'm pumped, but sadly just as guilty as everyone else. I also know the only solution and I think you nailed it. Thanks for this ministry, I don't know how I got on your mailing list but I'm continually being blessed...
P.S. I am involved in music and I fall on the high-five side concerning your last email. I have a song I would like you to hear that my sister recently wrote and recorded called "Love". Since you like to review Christian things I would feel completely justified in sending a free copy to you before the release date, whether you choose to review it or not. If you're interested, just let me know your address and I'll mail you a copy. - Joshua
Hi! I didn't get a chance to respond to your email about RAP music even with Christian movies being a bad influence. It appears I disagree with most of the women who read this e-letter. However, I did an informal poll of the Christian women I hang out with, and they all share my opinion. So, here's a respectful late entry, food for thought:
Kids absorb the words, even when they don't think they are (I've tested this with our 15 year old daughter). So, the Christian lyrics can influence them even when in the form of raucous Christian rap.
I agree that Christian Rap, maybe even Christian rock-n-roll, isn't conducive to quiet worship. It can, however, be conducive to all-out, joyful praise. I've noticed that while the youth services may start with raucous, it ends with reverent. Our worship leaders do a good job of the transition, and the kids appear to make the change smoothly, and However, the big thing for me is, our church, which plays very contemporary Christian music for the teens, have teens and young adults flocking to us. Un-churched teens. Un-saved teens. Immature Christian teens like my daughter. Once there, they hear the Bible preached as the inerrant word of God- they're taught the value of abstinence, the necessity to make Godly choices in an un-Godly culture. At our old church, where they played just a few very mild Christian contemporary songs, the youth group was practically non-existent, and it certainly didn't include any un-churched teens.
My opinion and that of the Christian friends I polled (all very conservative, Pro-life, Pro-Discipline, Bible believing) is:
When we use contemporary music styles, including RAP, to deliver the Gospel message, we are doing as Paul said in "When with the Jews, I became a Jew, with those who did not have the law I became as one who did not have the law... I have become all things to all people in order that by any means a few might be saved." (1st Cor.9:19-22 paraphrased) If we change the message, it is apostasy. If we change the broadcast method, we are reaching teens where they are, just as Christ reached out to the "sinners" of His time.
I don't care for RAP music and some of the Christian Rock. It sounds like noise to me. But, my parents don't care for the Christian music I listen to - and I understand that many of the old hymns are to the tune of drinking songs, and were scandalous in their day. We need to be careful. There is SO MUCH that I must condemn and prohibit which is "normal" in her culture - I don't care to take away things simply because they are not to my middle-aged taste, and don't help me spiritually. If they help the kids spiritually, I don't understand it, but I accept it.
But, we can agree to disagree, I usually like your e-newsletter. - D'Ann
Very good article. For help with what I watch, I often quote Ps. 101:3 to myself,
"I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not fasten its grip on me." (NASB)
"I will set before my eyes no vile thing.
The deeds of faithless men I hate;
they will not cling to me." (NIV)
If I view vile and vulgar things, they will "attach" themselves to me like a leech through addiction, obsession, or compulsion and rob me of my spiritual vigor. And Job 31:1,
"I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look lustfully at a girl." (NIV)
And Matt. 5:28,
"but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her
has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (NASB)
If I look lustfully at a young lady, I have wronged her, myself, grieved the Holy Spirit, and stunted and stagnated my spiritual growth.
Probably should make a covenant with my ears as well. - Herschel, Atlanta
Waitsel - you have conveniently limited the possible conclusions... Here's another one - Women are more swayed by faulty logic because they more often think with their feelings rather than their heads. I'm not saying that's the case, but why didn't you go there? Why do you limit the conclusions to only those that would support your argument? Is there a possibility that you could be wrong on this matter or no possibility at all? - Brian, Atlanta
I will say that I concur with your garbage in garbage out (GIGO) views. I have personally chosen not to listen to nonsecular music for that reason. I don't want Country's whining or Rock's licentiousness on any level to pervade this noodle of mine. I do listen to some classical and some instrumental jazz. I also know that Christian music is a business, and some groups probably view it so. That is sad when their gifts and talents should be used to honor and glorify God and as a ministry to the unsaved. I am curious though, do you believe that those who strive to honor and glorify God with their music but play music you personally don't like are doing the world of Christendom a great disservice? I know that both sides of this debate are poignantly opposed to the other, and that is greatly disheartening. I've seen websites where the arguments are carried on in a manner that does not honor and glorify God. Music is a beautiful and awesome tool when used in the light of honoring and glorifying God should be effective at spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. I believe if Christians lived their lives with that in mind, we'd be more effective at building up the body of believers and encouraging one another to press on. - Ken (yes a Christian guy/warrior)
I totally agree with your statements. We as Christians need to act like Jesus. I have been encouraged today to receive your e-mail. I praise God for your witness and your love for people. Continue to glorify God in your business as well as fulfilling the Great Commission. Brother, I am here to talk if you need anything, thanks again for your email. By the way your website is awesome!!! - Chris, Atlanta
To do what you imply is right would seemingly make us the "perfect" of people. The only problem is sin is alive in the saved and unsaved. We're only human and God knows this. I'm not saying it's ok to do what we do. But, I would say you should take the time you use making websites to prove points and make them for the unsaved. Focus on what matters most to God. You are more talented and your writing is very inspirational. To worry about the saved is less of a concern versus the lost. Of course we should check in on our brothers and sisters and let them know that we're concerned, but I wouldn't make it such a focal point when there is a world of lost people. I do appreciate your concerns and I'd be foolish to say you didn't make amazing points. Also, I don't know you so you may not spend much time typing your concerns up on your site, which is fine as long as the lost get your utmost concentration and concern. Keep up the work either way brother. May God bless you! - Jim
Jim, Thanks for your encouragement. I do have concern for the lost, but it is evidently not like yours. I don't have a gift of evangelism. My gifting is in the areas of shepherding and discipleship. Even though I know the Church's main concern should be to reach the lost, we all have different positions in the Body of Christ and different giftings, and some of us are naturally going to be closer to the lost than others. And while I know that most of the lost are outside the Church, I think we would be surprised at how many are inside, especially among children and youths.
Our job, as I see it, is to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves, regardless of whether they're "lost" or not. Anyhow, how do we know who is lost? We may be the ones that are lost. Just because someone says he knows Jesus doesn't make it so. And Christ's words to Peter were to love His sheep and lambs. To me, that implies those in the Church.
I think what it comes down to is this: if we are truly worshipping God in all we do, if we are seeking to honor and enjoy Him, we will naturally attract the lost. On the other hand, if we go out with the specific purpose of reaching the lost, we may actually "stink" to them, because we may be motivated by religion rather than love. Love never fails. "How can I love the people in my life today?" is a question we should always be asking ourselves. Not, "How can I reach the lost?" When we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we will love others as ourselves and that will attract the lost. Fulfilling the Great Commandment will fulfill the Great Commission.
The problem is, the Church is not fulfilling the Great Commandment; so how can it hope to fulfill the Great Commission. The battle is not "over there;" it's right here, right now, in our own hearts. My opinion, for what it's worth. Take care - Waitsel
Well put, brother! I agree on the power of love to get the job done. I too don't believe we should be Bible-beaters to the unsaved. I find friendship to be the sole importance to opening one's heart and mind. Gain the trust of others by being a friend to them and their needs. Then, the time will naturally arise and God will speak through you. I understand your concern and I do see what you talk about in a lot of churches. Seems the more modern and contemporary they are, the more confused some become. But, I also know many Christian rock enthusiasts who are young and are amazing people. Filled with the Holy Spirit and desiring to do everything they can. One actually goes to my church, and he's up there all the time. Younger than myself, he preaches to the teens and does an amazing job. So there are those who exist in harmony with the changing ways of life these days, but they are few and far between. Like I stated earlier, either way, keep doing your work brother. Your heart is burdened with this growing concern, so may God flow through you and gain the attention of those who need to hear what God has placed on your heart. Hey, it got my attention! Take care. - Jim
That was a great message. Thank you. - Jamey
Thank you dear brother for these great words of wisdom!! May we all grow to "love God more!" - Alice, Atlanta
Good word if I ever heard one. - Alan, Atlanta
Good stuff! Thank you for sharing. Maybe we could get together soon. Your message resonates with me heart and me mind. - John, Atlanta
Thanks for sharing. Will share both articles on Christian music w/ my nephew, who at 25 is pursing God and music (songwriter and musician at his church). - Cindy, Atlanta
Great encouragement, thanks! - Ellen, Atlanta
I hear ya, bro. I will pray for you. For what it's worth, your email encouraged me to reach out to my single friends, wish them Happy Valentines Day and encourage them to let God be their Valentine. - Scott, Atlanta
Thanks for sharing your heart. - Andres, Atlanta
This was a great follow-up to your first article about Christian music. - Sarah, Atlanta
Thanks for all your great comments!
Text © 2008 Waitsel Smith. All Rights Reserved.