A New Favorite Band — Apoptygma Bezerk

Obviously by now, you know that Ken and I have a very varied scope of music that we enjoy. Yes, Apoptygma Berzerk is a Euro-Synth band, but I put them in my own category which includes Johnny Cash, Megadeth, and After The Fire. Popular, and though not a Christian message in all their lyrics or songs, it is definitely there is in some. I think that it is a weird game of trying to make it is secular music, wanting to say more, and not trying to lose your audience, but grow it so that more can hear.

Jesus spoke at times in parable. Where the message is there, but hidden, only those those who want to know what the message is, get it. It almost calls for an interaction, as the disciples sometimes would ask, “what does this mean?”

I love the cleverness of the Dead Air Einz. On the surface it looks like a song about “Number Stations”, because it includes samples from number stations. Number Stations are assumed to be communications set up between their government and their spies. They were hiding in plain sight on the shortwave dial, and people would just pass over them because they didn’t make any sense. And if it was just a song about number stations, that would still be very much a cool song with how well it was done. But when I looked that the message/the lyrics something else showed up.

Dead Air Einz — Apoptygma Bezerk

Deep in the night i’ve lost track of time
someone’s reaching out from the other side
5 by 5, clearest day
the message’s being sent from far away

i hear your voice loud and clear
at the appointed time i’ll meet you in the air

the more i seek, the more it’s brought to light
pathetic noise turns into a voice
decoded signals, it’s all right there
you miss the message, if you’re unaware

i hear your voice loud and clear
at the appointed time i’ll meet you in the air (3x)

i hear your voice (4x)

It reminds me of After The Fire’s “Starflight”, which makes no sense unless it is about the Rapture. Talks about the Rapture, and also communicating with God. It can be hard to hear His voice. We find it reading the Bible. Especially when we go with the attitude of “God, I want to hear from You, I need to hear from You.”

Thanks Apoptygma Berzerk for your art and for challenging people everywhere to look.

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Think I am going to explode! (NOT LITERALLY)

I will be writing it down and sharing more over the next few weeks, but at the moment I am going through and reading the book of Jeremiah. When I see the disarray that Israel had fallen into and the judgement that was coming upon them, I can’t help but think about our country, the US of A. It seems like we are determined to turn out backs on God and run away as fast as we can, as if He couldn’t see us. He is saying “I still see you.”

I just need an outlet to get these thoughts out, and as I post them for Ken and others to look at and we should be able to better formulate them into a coherent podcast.

I have been listening a lot of POD’s “Murdered Love.” If you have not heard that yet, I highly recommend it. My son recently had gotten mad into guitars, and guitar music and he and I would agree that is one of our favorite albums.

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Switchfoot as a Missionary Band

Why Switchfoot won't sing Christian songs
Switchfoot is going secular. Sort of.

I have to be honest, this is something I have struggled with for ages. As a musician, I have gone back-and-forth between wanting to only do Christian songs and to do no Christian songs at all. On the one hand I see the positive influence that Christian musicians could have but on the other I see the excesses of the Christian music industry and it really turns me off. Sometimes Christian music comes off as little more than a method to sell music to Christians.  Somehow calling it Christian is equivalent to calling it kosher.  All the lyrics have been inspected and are uplifting, written in the code language of Christianese, therefore it is good for Christian consumption.

Please don’t misunderstand me, there is a place for truly Christian music in worship and as edification for Christian people. It’s a wonderful thing to encourage believers and that’s part of spiritual gifting for some people. Edification is just as good as teaching or preaching or any other spiritual gift.  We are encouraged to “speak to each other with psalms hymns and spiritual songs”. But let’s not forget that one person’s spiritual gift is not the same as the spiritual gift for every other person. Some people are called to be evangelists, and evangelism doesn’t have to be undertaken with the same music and tools as you are using in the church. The truth is people that aren’t in the church simply don’t understand that language any more.

The thing that I see with Switchfoot is that although they aren’t openly Christian in their branding, they preach Christ in a way that perhaps someone who doesn’t know Christ might understand. To me it’s kind of like translating Scriptures into a different language so that someone else can understand them. If you only use the King James to communicate with a nonbeliever they’re never going to understand you. In the same way if you come at a nonbeliever and just shout “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” at them they’re not going to hear you anymore than they would hear the Westborough Baptist Church.  Kind of goes back to the last post I made about disagreeing with your neighbors; are we trying to win an argument or are we trying to actually introduce someone to Jesus?

If we are truly called to “go into all the world” why should we be apprehensive to sing songs in a nightclub, or bar or anywhere else where the lost can be found?  Jesus dined with sinners in the sinner’s house, will we find the courage to do the same?  He did so without being conformed to the world, and through the power of the Holy Spirit alive in us, we can too.

This article titled “Why Switchfoot won’t sing Christian songs” contains a great quote by lead singer Jon Foreman.  I also contains a ton of depressing comments by well meaning Christian people who just don’t seem to remember what it was like to be unsaved.  If they could only hear and understand the freedom of Christ perhaps they would be willing to “become all things to all people in order to reach some.”  There are some lights in the comment soup however.

Doug Pierce, a worship pastor quoted the following…

Derek Webb said, “The word Christian, when it applied to anything other than a human being, is a marketing term.”

I think, almost always, that calling your art “Christian” is a way to sell your art to “Christian” people. It says, “buy my music because I love Jesus.” It’s one of the reasons Jesus went ballistic on the money-changers.

The lead singer for Rascal Flatts once tweeted a scripture…in that one small moment he reached more people for Christ than almost all the CCM Industry combined. Most of America has tuned “Christian Music” and “Christians” out. I’m on a plane and someone asks me what I do for a living. I say, “I’m a pastor”. The conversation is over. He picks up his magazine and buries his head. If I say, “I’m a musician”, the conversation continues. A relationship can form and possibly one day he’ll be ready to HEAR my thoughts about Faith. Until he’s ready…it’s nothing more than white noise pushing him further down the path of apathy toward God.

Bravo Doug.

Here’s another good perspective on Jon Foreman and Switchfoot from Jeff Goins on his Pilgrimage of the Heart blog.

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Seven ways for Christians to love their neighbors even when we disagree – Pastor Mark Driscoll

What does it look like to remain faithful to God while loving neighbors who passionately disagree with Christian convictions?

Can we love our neighbors even when we disagree?

Being relevant to our culture while still being true to our faith is something modern Christianity, or at least our caricature in the media, seems to have lost.  Finding it again is imperative to reaching people with the Good News of Jesus Christ.  If we want our message to be more than just a clanging gong we need to learn to speak with love, not concerned about winning the argument.  Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington shares a great perspective that is right down the middle, avoiding the “ditch on the left – where we don’t call sin a sin — as well as the ditch on the right — where we are angry culture warriors battling unbelievers instead of evangelizing them.”

I have come to the conclusion that we cannot reasonably expect human beings who are dead in their sins to act like they are alive in Christ.  Their actions reflect their values and beliefs, and without a fundamental change in the depths of their heart there will be no real meaningful change in their lives.  If we can just introduce them to Jesus, then Jesus will finish the work that He starts in their life, bringing it through to completion.

Enjoy the article:

From Pastor Mark Driscoll

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Podcast 43 – Ephesians 4

Today Rich and I talk through Ephesians 4.  This is a passage that is far easier to read than it is to actually put into practice.  It is, however, a way of living out the Christian life that is revolutionary and quite possibly world changing.  Were every professing Christian to put this passage into practice there would be absolute harmony in the Body of Christ.  If we could just subordinate our personal preferences for the good of the body, there is no telling how effective we could be in sharing the Gospel with a lost and dying world.


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Podcast 42 – Damian Kyle – Grieving The Holy Spirit

This podcast is very different from what we normally do.  It is a rebroadcast of a sermon by Calvary Chapel Pastor Damian Kyle from the late 80’s.  Rich was lucky enough to be in attendance when this sermon was preached.  It was and continues to be a formative event in his life, a constant admonition to live the life we are called to live.  Rich’s hope, and mine, is that you would be as impacted by these words as he has been.

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Happy Easter from Don’t Blame Jesus

I was watching a European soccer match featuring Manchester United and the head announcer says something like, “and they won’t be playing next weekend because the skipper wants to get his Easter eggs.”  Eggs?!  I guess some people really don’t pay attention to what Easter is all about.  I am certain that it is our mission at DontBlameJesus.com to help explain what is so different about Christianity and why we make a big fuss about Easter in the first place… it is Jesus.  It was the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah that has saved us from sin and Hell and has reopened our fellowship with God.

Our friends over at GodStuffExplained have made a great video explaining the basic message of Easter and why it really is ‘Good News.’  Happy Easter!

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Podcast 41 – The Huntress, In The Night

This week we try out some new recording hardware.  It is our hope that this new gear will make it easier for us to podcast and thus increase our frequency.  Please forgive the rustling paper on the table top, we didn’t have any monitors so we didn’t know about it till after we were done.

Anyway, on with the show.  This week…Rich introduces us to The Huntress by The Echoing Green and In The Night by 4-4-1. Then we look at Proverbs and the wise words of Solomon that inspired the lyrics. (Both songs are available on iTunes)

We talk about what the lyrics and verses mean, especially right here and now.

Hope that it encourages and challenges you.

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Favorite New “Praise” Song

Maybe it is just me, a lot of “praise” music reminds me too much of elevator music, and lyrically is not all that sharp and rather repetitive. Kinda the opposite of what praise music should be like.

Found one that I love, the speaks to me everytime that I listen to it, and it is musically and lyrical gold.

You’ve have to buy the album “As The World Bleeds” by Theocracy to hear it, because it isn’t on youtube.

But check out the words.

I Am by Theocracy

I am the light upon your path when you have lost your way
I am the footprints in the sand the ocean’s tide can’t wash away
I am the shelter from the storm that rages on and on
The incorruptible foundation that the wise man builds upon
I am the bread that feeds a starving man upon the street
I am the bounty on the table in the palace at the feast
I am the rain upon the earth after a scorching drought
I am the the quenching of the thirst you never thought you’d be without

I am the melody that weaves it’s way inside your soul
I am the symphony, the masterpiece, the actor’s greatest role
I am the poetry that speaks to you with every rhyme
I am the songwriter who seems to write your life in every line
I am the simple truths that shaped your world from your birth
I am the vast volumes of knowledge spanning all across the earth
I am the whisper of the wind you feel but cannot see
I am the alpha and omega, first and last, eternity

I AM (you cannot see me)
I AM (the resurrection and the life, the doorway and the vine, I AM)
I AM (you cannot touch me)
I AM (the bread of life, light of the world, long before Abraham, I AM)

I am the trusting child whose simple faith is ever sure
I am the parent’s love, unchanging, unconditional and pure
I am the loyal friend whose heart will never let you down
I am the hand that pulls you back into the boat before you drown
I am the thunder and the glory and the blinding light
I am the still, small voice that tells you what is wrong and what is right
I am the sacrificial lamb a guilty world reviled
I am the father ever waiting for his lost and wayward child

I AM (you cannot see me)
I AM (the resurrection and the life, the doorway and the vine, I AM)
I AM (you cannot touch me)
I AM (the bread of life, light of the world, long before Abraham, I AM)

I am the heart of the righteous desire and the forth man you see in the midst of the fire
I am the giver of life and the promise of Israel
I am the the hope of the lonely and lost in the blood running down to the foot of the cross
I am the breaking of chains and the tolling of freedom’s bell
I am the notes that eternally ring in the music too holy for angels to sing
I am the fire on the altar consuming the sacrifice
I am the three and yet I am the one in the grace of the Father and the death of the Son
I am the one who redeemed you by paying the highest price

I am grace and mercy, I am sacrifice
I am endless glory, I am light and life
I am long-awaited hope of Israel
I am longing sated, prophecy fulfilled

I am from the beginning of time, an I am sustain the system of life
I am symmetry, reason and rhyme, and I am conviction that cuts like a knife

I am the author of order and flow
I am the Father of Lights; watch me put on a show!
I am the seeker of all gone astray
I am the keeper of souls ’til the end of all days

I am power, I am glory, I am love’s unending story
I am justice, I am honor, I am hope and living water
I am righteous, I am holy, I am free and one and only
I am sovereign, I am faithful, everlasting, I AM that I AM

I am humility, the one who laid it all aside
Traded a crown of kings for a crown of thorns, betrayed by human pride
I am humanity, took on your curse and all your pain
I am divinity, eternity, forever I remain

I am your guilty scars, as Roman soldiers tear my back
I am the crimson stain that washes all the souls faded to black
I am the one who bled in silence and endured it all
I am the Word who spoke no word, with a thousand angels waiting for my call

I am the covenant – your hero in the bloodstained pages
I am your guilt, your sin, you debt fulfilled for all the ages
I step into your shoes, your substitute
Your sacrifice
Your raison d’être (looked it up, (reason for existence))
Your second chance
Your breath of life

I am the joy of angels dancing in the streets of heaven
I am the sinner’s prayer for mercy and a past forgiven
I am the lamb upon the alter dying willingly
All hope that was
All hope that is
All hope to be

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