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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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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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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One of those Strugglelicious Days!

I am frustrated to the Nth degree right now. They are cutting back the number of people per shift to make more profit and running as hard as I can, I can’t keep up with everything that I am expected to do. We need that extra person. One of my favorite managers got fired, and she will be missed. I checked on a new job that I really really really wanted. They just hired 4 new people and didn’t even look at my application.

So this song and lyrics fit. This is Sweden’s “Harmony” with “Inner Peace.”


Day after day
There’s struggle within me
To find my way
Through this oppression.To feel free,

I just want to know
Whom to lose and whom to keep near
Where can I go to avoid this sense of fear

Awake in my bed as
Time passes by
A war in my head raging. Tell me why?

Lord of all lords
King of all kings
Is there a place for inner peace?
Oh tell me please
Lord of all lords
Through eternities
I’m reaching for you I’m on my knees

They keep telling me
Who’s fool and who’s the wise
And how I should see
The surroundings through their eyes
Perplexed in my mind
But I’m trying to stand tall
I’m trying to find
My own path through it all

Awake in my bed as
Time passes by
A war in my head Raging tell me why?

Lord of all lords
King of all kings
Is there a place for inner peace?
Oh tell me please
Lord of all lords
Through eternities
I’m reaching for you I’m on my knees

… psalm 23…

Awake in my bed as
Time passes by
This war in my head still raging, tell me why?

Lord of all lords
King of all kings
I have to put my trust in you
What can I do?
Lord of all lords
Through eternities
I’m reaching for you Oh help me please

If you know the song “Darkest Hour” by Undercover, that says how I am feeling as well. There is a line in Darkest Hour. “I fall down to my knees, and all I know is Jesus please.”

Time for me to lean in to Jesus. I need a good dose of the Gospels and Psalms right now.

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A whole new year needs a whole new look.

As you can see the new year has brought us a brand new look.  I hope you like it.

With Winter comes a slow down in projects and a little more free time.  Although it isn’t always fun to be involuntarily idle, this break proved to be just enough time to do what I have always wished I could have done with the site.  It got me thinking about how often I miss opportunities because I am just too busy with other things.  I have a tendency to just keep doing what is right in front of me instead of looking up and seeing what else could be more beneficial.  I am praying that God will change my heart and mind to see the opportunities He has put in front of me and give me the courage to act upon them.  I hope this New Year brings a similar renewal in your life as well.

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Wow! Thank God for the Finnish!

Ken and I are into music. The song that leads in and out of the Don’t Blame Jesus episodes is actually a worship song called “King Jesus” that Ken wrote.

So anyway, Ken was recently me showing a Christian Eurotrance band called “G-Powered” that comes out of Finland. Just beautiful. “With You” by G-Powered

And while I was looking around on youtube for other Finnish Gospel music, I came across two songs by a band called “HB” that I had to share. Got to love some good Christian Finnish Metal

It amazes me that so many of “Christian” bands in the States seem to be saying less and less with their lyrics. I am glad to see that bands out there in other countries are proclaiming the good news boldly.

First HB video here is “It Is Time.” Challenging people to take advantage of the Gospel offered to them right now!

I have included the lyrics to this second song below. Wow!

HB “God Has All Glory”

When I was reborn, you gave your sign to me. The cross was the way and it says you’ll be with me… Day after day. I Heard you calling and felt that I had to seek you! And I finally realized. That your ways are so much higher than mine.

You know everything. Your wisdom and power exceeds all limits

God has all glory, power and honour! He came to save us. He gave His life for us! God has all glory, power and honour! He conquered death and brought us salvation.

You forgave all the things that were sin against You. It was so outstanding – my dark heart is so clean – You love me so! Now I want to serve you. Whatever You want, I will do. You have all the power thats why I can trust in You. Jesus. My Lord!

My life belongs to you, you promised to lead me and never leave me.

Richard

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No Sliding Backwards!

I was messing around on youtube recently and came across some Christian Punk that I used to listen to my first semester in Bible College. The song is called “Sliding Backwards” by Pat Nobody. The album was called Nobody Special.

Pat Nobody, if I understand correctly, is Pat Taylor, the younger brother of Joey Taylor of Undercover. For those that don’t know Undercover is one of the favorite bands of Ken and I.

I used to be into RC car racing and I had cut vinyl graphics across of hood of one of my cars saying, “No Sliding Backwards!” which had to do with this song.

Anyway men, we want to be moving forward with our faith and not sliding backwards.

You might also want to check out some of the other songs by Pat Nobody, like Burnt, Aint That Hard and Get Off The Air.

Richard

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Beauty whispers His name

Some things are just beautiful in and of themselves.  Nature, Art, Music, they all have something intrinsically in themselves that is beautiful and is capable of moving our hearts and minds.  As a tool, media is neither good nor evil, but is shaped by those who create it.  But irrespective of who creates it, and the motives they may have had, sometimes the art is just simply beautiful.  I saw this video and thought, “Man, God is so amazing to create sound in such a way that the careful attention to harmonics can evoke an emotional response,”… or something like that. :)  It is a reminder to me that everything beautiful, indeed, every good and perfect gift comes from above.  God is an amazing craftsman, the details present in His universe whisper His name.

Anyway, I wanted to share this with you.  This song has always been one of my favorites.  Because of my wife and my choral backgrounds, this presentation was particularly inspiring.

The title on YouTube doesn’t do it justice.  It is labeled “Amazing Choir uses hands to simulate storm”.  I hope you enjoy it.

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Welcome Friend — You know who you are.

A couple of days ago I was chatting with one of my friends on the phone. He just got a new computer and he is back on line now. This is all a big deal for him, as he is a grandfather and can use this to keep in touch with his daughter and grandkids.

This friend of mine and I go back about 4 and a half years (something like that). At that time I was an associate pastor at a small church in Northern California, and I had just started a new program called “Celebrate Recovery” at our church. You can check out the ministry at www.celebraterecovery.com.

I met him like a day or two after he had been released from prison. (I think you said that you had been inside for 17 years, with maybe 30 days out from time to time on parole.) He had been Special Forces in Viet Nam, then in a motorcycle gang and then in a notorious prison gang. I must admit he was the scariest man I ever met.

He had come to Christ inside prison, but was still super rough around the edges. Heck, today he is still a little rough around the edges, and we joke about it.

There were times as we were going through the program together that he would get unbelievably angry about certain people, and there was a real risk of violence. BUT, He also had a love and respect for God. Times when I had to stand up as tall as I could and confront him with the word of God to get him to calm down. If I had just tried to calm him down with my own opinion or philosophy, I really don’t believe for a second it would have worked, bad things would have happened and my friend would be back in prison.

He’ll tell everyone “Man, you know it is God, you and the program that has kept me out of prison.”

He gave me a lot of sleepless nights as I was praying to God about what to do. But also I learned more than I ever thought possible about the grace of God. It doesn’t matter what you have done, and it may have been a lot, but if you give it to God, He will forgive you. God’s grace is sufficient for all the sin of the world, if people will just respond to the forgiveness of His son, Jesus Christ.

We walked together to get through the program, all those Bible verses and letting those effect our lives.

I ended up having to move to another church in Oregon to continue ministry. While my friend stayed in that area and tried to disciple anyone that was willing.

So 4.5 years or so out of prison, and a year or so off parole. Instead of the 30 days that he would get, when he was running his life his own way, doing all the same things that got him into prison.

No, now he has found freedom in Christ that he never knew before. Now we talk about Jesus, fishing, and his family that he gets to know.

So my friend I am glad that I met you. You are a trophy of God’s grace. God is willing and can change the lives of anyone.

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