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God only listens to Christian Music.

OK…I admit it!

Jes and I were on vacation last year to Myrtle Beach. We went to the dueling piano bar at Broadway at the Beach (because we love Jokers in Mooresville). We finally got a seat up on the railing and the guys broke into a 15 minute Prince concert. We were sitting beside a couple who wasn’t really talking much but looked to be having a good time. As the pianists broke into “Kiss” the guy beside me leaned over and said, “I know my wife loves this crap, but when are they gonna give us something to listen to.” I guess he had not noticed I was singing along with every word. So I leaned back over to him and said, “Real men love Prince.”

Most people that know me know I am not ashamed of what kind of music I listen to. Justin, Prince, Mraz, Buble (I don’t know how to put the accent over the “e”, but if I could, I wouldn’t, because I call him Michael Buble) Where it gets really interesting is when I tell people I mix that in with some T-pain and there’s my playlist.

Several years ago I had a friend ask me a question when we were talking about me putting my faith in Jesus. He said, “How do you listen to Christian music all the time?” It took me back…

I don’t, should I? Should my playlist be Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, and in stead of T-Pain should I mix it up with T-Mac?

So here it comes…close to 5 years later I finally have an answer to that question. I know you’re wondering how it took so long, but that’s not the point. The point is, it took God 5 years to get it through my thick head and now I’ve got it.

What is Christian Music? No, really…what makes some music Christian and some not? What makes some Companies Christian and some not? What makes Chick-fil-a a Christian restaurant and McDonald’s Secular? Is it because they aren’t open on Sunday? Is it because the owners are Christians? I know, it must be because they over abuse the term “my pleasure” and that is what God would want from “His” fast food joint.

Sorry about all the sarcasm.

So what classifies music as Secular and Christian? It’s not that the artist is Christian because you can’t tell me that Josh Turner, Bono, and many other “secular” artists are not Christians. It’s not that they sing about God or Jesus, because Carrie Underwood would have had a Christian hit with “Jesus take the wheel” if she released it as a Christian single. There are tons of songs written by Christians singing about Christ that aren’t considered “Christian Music”. I know, it must be the over abuse of the words “love” and “above” and that is what God would want from “His” music, right?

Enough sarcasm.

Are Chick-fil-a sandwiches any more Christian than McDonald’s? Is a Cook-out shake any more blessed than a Wendy’s Frosty because they have scripture on the cup? NO!!!! In fact, the idea that Cookout prints scripture on their STYROFOAM CUP is kind of ironic to me.

Ok seriously, no more sarcasm!

So here is what makes some music Christian and some not…It’s self proclaimed. The artist says, “I am playing Christian music.” Does this make it any more “Christian” or any less “Secular” than any other music? NO!!!!

All music is created by God, and therefore it is good. Yes, all music! Not just self proclaimed Christian music. All food was created by God, the chicken and the cow. So next time you pray to God to “bless the food” remember that it is already blessed by God. He created it, blessed it, and it is good.

Are you a Christian?

Is the tree outside my window Christian or Secular? Is the box of mac and cheese in my cabinet Christian or Secular? Is my dog Christian or Secular…the couch…the car…etc. Doesn’t this sound ridiculous! It is! It was all created by God, it is good, but it is not Christian or Secular it just is.

Music just is. We as humans can alter it, manipulate it, change it, but it was created by God, it is good. It just is.

Food can be pumped with steroids, flavored, fattened, packaged, and preserved, but it was created by God, it is good. It just is.

So are all people Christian people? We were all created by God, right?

Kinda…

We were created by God, but we are different than the music, the food, and the tree. God gave us a soul and a decision. My dogs have no decision to make, they just are. The tree has no decision to make, it just is. We have a decision to make. We can choose to accept the truth and be as we were meant to be, or we can deny it and be apart from God.

We were created by God, we were good. Then we were separated from Him. We have a choice to accept who we are and be “Christian” or deny it and be “Secular”. That’s the difference between music and people.

So my answer, “I am a Christian, but I listen to music, not Christian, not Secular, just Music.”

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Soul = Sponge

Today at church Jerel spoke about stress. He had a bucket of sand and a rock on stage. He talked about Matthew 7:24-30. To build our lives on God is like building our house’s foundation on a rock. To build it on anything else is like building our house on sand.

That is not what this blog is about.

Relating this parable to stress Jerel used the analogy of a sponge. How do you find out what a sponge is full of? You squeeze it. When we are stressed we are under pressure. When we are under pressure we are like a sponge. Whatever we have on the inside comes out. You really find out what you are made of. If you have built your life on God you will see it come out when you are under stress. What a great analogy!

This got me thinking. Our souls are a lot like a sponge. Not just in this way, but in a lot of ways.

1. You see our true character when we are under pressure/stressed.

I already mentioned this, but want to make sure it is emphasized. When you are under pressure to get a project done on time, do you cheat or work harder? When you are stressed about money, do you get angry, blame others, or trust God to provide? How about when you are in a fight with your spouse…you get the point. When we are pushed to our limits our soul is exposed. Do we flow with goodness, joy, and love, or is that when the anger, deceit, and sin prevail?

2. We absorb what is closest to us.

What do you surround yourself with? What/who do you watch, listen to, and hang around with? These things define who you are. Why do companies spend billions of dollars on advertising. Not because you will see a commercial and immediately run out an buy what they are selling (unless you are my wife and mother). They spend huge money on repetition and prime ad spots so it will slowly sink into your soul. So next time you think of the Panthers you hear, “Gotta Wanna Needa Getta Have a Bojangles” and can taste the chicken. Or the next time you feel a little sad you know you need those new shoes because those women sure looked happy in Cosmo.

In the same respect. You become like the people that are around you. If you hang out with negative people you soak up their attitude and begin to see their point of view. Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.” It also works the other way around. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

So just as a sponge soaks up whatever it is near, our souls soak up our surroundings. So be careful where you set your sponge.

3. If we are not moved or used for a while we become stale.

Our soul is designed to take a beating. To be squeezed, shaped, and molded. We need to be careful that we are allowing it to be filled with the right things, but even the right things, if not used as intended, are pointless. If we just sit around and read the Bible, pray, and worship all day it means nothing if we don’t do what we were intended to do. A sponge is intended to clean. If we use it once and then set it on the counter and never use it again it will become stale. Just the same, if we do all the right things and don’t serve God and build relationships then our soul is being wasted. It is becoming stale.

Make sense? It does to me. See, sponges are made to be pliable and fit into hard spaces without breaking. They are designed to be tough and delicate. Sound familiar? Our souls are designed to bend, but not break. They can be put through difficult situations, but will always be strong enough to make it through. Even if our soul is filled with good things, if we don’t use it, it becomes stale, breaks easy, and sour. Just like our soul. We have to use it regularly or he good things we put in it go to waste.

4. Most importantly a sponge is made to clean the things around it.

How do we effect our surroundings? If we are clean ourselves then we should make the world around us a better place to live. We should use our gifts to make our neighborhood/world better. Just like a sponge. If we are not clean we just smear the filth around and are not really serving the purpose we are meant to serve.

But there is nothing like a clean kitchen freshly scrubbed down by a clean sponge. That’s the kitchen I want to live in.

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