A Testimony pt. 4

Monday, May 30, 2011

What does all of that have to do with my present condition? A LOT

This morning as I was journaling, a particular song came to my mind. It is a song by Lecrae called "Breathing to Death". It basically summed up exactly how I've been feeling lately. As I listened to it, I began to thank God for the men involved with Reach Records once again. They live lives and make music that are consistently Biblical. Even with growing popularity, they continue to press on toward maturity in Christ. They continue to be unashamed of the Gospel and clearly speak it and sing it and live it wherever God sends them because they know that it is the power of God for salvation.

I have been following Reach Records since they first began. When I made the switch from my "old music" to "Jesus music", it was hard. The Christian music industry was certainly big, but it was terrible. I couldn't find anything that sounded even remotely like what I listened to. The music wasn't good and the lyrics really weren't much better. So many songs had me wondering whether the artists were singing about God or their latest lover. Enter, the Christian Hip Hop movement. Prior to Christ, I listened to it all country, rock, pop, R & B, etc with the exception of raunchy rap. So, when I came across all these Christians who were rapping the Gospel I was pretty excited. The beats were really good, the styles varied, and there was a lot of talent. The music AND the lyrics were quality, I found GOLD! One problem, this wasn't my kind of music. I was a thirteen year old white girl from hicktown.

I quickly realized it was either this or the latest "Christian" boy band, Brittney Spears wannabe, whiner.....Don't get me wrong, there are some others in the Christian music industry that I enjoy every now and then. For the most part though, I have found the Christian music industry to be in a pitiful state.

So, I bought some cds. I grew to love the Christian Hip Hop movement. Somehow, this white girl from hicktown had no trouble understanding the lyrics that were being rapped extremely fast. The movement has grown. There have been some counterfeits. So far, Reach Records (and the artists involved) have remained faithful to Christ. New projects are coming out all of the time and each one seems better than the last.

Many times throughout the day lyrics will pop into my head. I'll read a Bible verse and think, "Oh, this is where so and so got the idea for their song ______." OR I'll hear a Bible verse in a song and pretty soon it's in my head to stay. OR I'll be struggling with something and relate to a song that serves as a prayer to God and find myself built up by a brother in Christ who faced it to and found God to be faithful.

In short, my journey toward being obedient to my God and my mom in the area of music was not easy. I still have to explain to people why I don't listen to certain music and why a now 20 year old white girl who still lives in hicktown listens to rap. I sort of kind of enjoy the shocked faces now.

Today I was tempted to despair. Thanks to the victory found in obeying God with music that honors Him, I am built up in Him by it. Through these last months the music I listen to has not proved to be a single hinderance to me. Rather, it has exhorted me and encouraged me toward righteousness. Even if I threw my Bible in the closet, the Words and truths found in it would be impossible to get away from. Over the last eleven years they have been written on my heart and mind through my time spent in God's Word and also through the music that has filled my speakers and headphones.

God is good, isn't He? Who knew that one little decision all those years ago would be so encouraging to me today? He did!

A Testimony pt. 3

Sunday, May 29, 2011

So, that was the introduction. This post is really about living set apart by the grace of God and more specifically in the area of music.

After my parents got saved and began to grow towards maturity in Christ, my mom made the rule that we were no longer "allowed" to listen to any music that was not explicitly Christian. She set a good example. On car rides we no longer scanned through the channels listening for a song that we knew. I should note, in our home, we love music. There has always been some sort of tape/cd/radio player in the kitchen where we spend a lot of our time. There is always singing, humming, whistling,and even some dancing going on in our home. Making the switch from the music we knew and loved was not easy for me and I'm sure it was not easy for her either. But, we did it. That is one area where we stood by our conviction and have continued to do so.

This conviction is based on numerous Biblical principles:

One of the most obvious is that in 1 Corinthians 10:31 it says, "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." In 1 Corinthians 6:12-13 and 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 we are reminded that all things are lawful, but not all things edify and that we ought not be slaves of anything or seek our own good, but rather the good of our neighbor. In short, music is one of those "whatever we do's". It can certainly enslave us and it can certainly be used for the good or evil of our neighbor. If it doesn't glorify God, we have no business with it. If it doesn't glorify God is is not going to be for the good of our neighbor.

Another obvious principle that applies to music comes from Proverbs 13:20, we are reminded that a companion of fools is quickly destroyed. The book of Proverbs lays down the truth about the wise man and the foolish man. Godly men and women and godless men and women. Through this book of wisdom, we are reminded to pursue wisdom and seek after understanding. Our companions are often people, but they are also the books, movies, music, magazines, blogs, etc that surround us. We like them because of how we think and we continue to grow more like them in our thinking as we spend more time being influenced by them. So, if the music we listen to does not speak words of wisdom, it is folly and will only lead to more foolishness. As God's people we are to seek His truth, what better way to be built up in it than use music as a tool for communicating it and being reminded of that truth which our lives are built upon.

Now, those are the main reasons why I personally have continued to be very selective about the music that I listen to. Yes, there are still songs that need to be weeded out of my life. I have lyrics to countless foolish songs memorized. They still come to my mind at times. I am not perfect, but I think it is safe to say that in this area of my life, the Spirit has the upper hand.

A Testimony pt. 2

Friday, May 27, 2011

Through it all I have been looking at convictions vs. preferences. A conviction is something that we know we ought to do. We joyfully live by our convictions by the grace of God for the glory of His name, living set apart in holiness in a world full of sin. While we should continually being growing toward maturity, convictions shouldn't change too much. Preferences on the other hand are things we do simply because they are "lawful" and we enjoy them. They do change with time and that is okay.

Those who know me, know that my life does look different. I thank God for the ways that He has made me and continues to bring me toward the righteousness that is mine in Jesus. I say it again, I live set apart by His grace alone. Without His grace I would turn back to my old ways in a heartbeat. In order to press on, I have to continue seeking that grace which comes through fellowship with God and being taught by His Word.

I have to admit, most of my struggles lately are a result of neglecting my soul. No matter what is going on around me or in the lives of those people I love most, my soul should be secure in God. My struggles are proof that I am weak. That there is no good in me apart from Christ.

A Testimony pt. 1

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Get ready for a long post.....Actually, I'm going to break it down and schedule some posts for you because it turned out way too long!

The last few months have been very dark for me. I have been up and down, back and forth. Struggling with my sin, my God, and the people around me.

I have been reminded that it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

That God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him.

That in the presence of God there is fullness of joy.

That my soul ought not be downcast, but rather, should hope in God!
That trials and struggles build up God's people in godliness.

That Jesus Christ labored on my behalf, that He prayed for me, and that He goes on interceding for me. That as a child of God, God labors for me.

Even so, the struggle continues. I am surrounded by truth, the foundation of my life is truth, the basis of my identity is truth. God is faithful. Here I am fighting the good fight of faith, even in the face of what seems like failure after failure.