I LOVE music.
I’ve been writing songs since I was ten years old. My Dad was in a rock band in the seventies called “Pyramid”. They had a keyboardist named Gary Jones, a white guy with a huge afro who used to put Christmas lights in his hair during shows. One time there was a short in the electrical circuit during a Pyramid show, and Jones’s afro caught on fire! The band Pyramid lasted for probably about 6 or 7 years, most of which my Dad probably did not remember very much. My Dad violently quit the rock n’ roll scene, slamming his guitar on the ground right in the middle of a gig in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. He then worked as a roofer, laying down roof shanks on hot days all over Cleveland, keeping himself going with hardcore seventies stimulants (some of you could guess what I’m talking about…) and butter pecan ice cream. Some years later, he ran into my Mom on Coventry Road in Cleveland, a place where all the hippies used to hang out, and any of them left still do. He asked her on a date, and she gave him a bunk phone number. Still, he chased her down eventually, and they got hitched in a wild seventies way (non-traditional), and years later in 1981, they had me.
So by 1991 I was ten years old, and my Dad was trying to convince me to play guitar. It wasn’t hard for him to convince me, because I loved Aerosmith, AC/DC, the Doors and Led Zeppelin at the time. So I got one for Christmas, and immediately, my Dad started to teach me songs to play. He even helped me write my first song, “Misty Windows”, about a crush I had on a girl in elementary school. Looking back, I realize how silly that song was, but it was the beginning of a long line of songs I’d write.
Writing music helped me get through puberty. It somewhat led me into the party scene because so many of my favorite artists were drug-heads. Later on, it eventually pushed me out of the party scene when I realized that a lot of my favorite artists had died by choking on their own vomit! It helped me deal with break-ups in the romantic whirlwind of High-School. Ultimately it was a medium that the Creator of the Universe was using all along to speak core truths into my life to lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ. I had no idea that God was speaking to me all along through my expression in music, but He was. When I listen back to some of my old pre-Jesus recordings, I even realize that God was speaking to me through many of the lyrics that I had written.
Do we listen for lyrics that are crying out for God’s help on “secular” radio, or do we just think that all music that isn’t worship music is obviously inspired by the devil?
I just read a bio on Katy Perry at Wikipedia, and it says that She grew up listening to gospel music and was not allowed to listen to what her mother called “secular music”. Perry also attended Christian schools and camps. There’s nothing wrong with Christian music, schools and camps. But it’s interesting when parents’ feel they have to immerse their kids in Christian subculture as an act of “protecting them from the world”. Really, parents should be protecting their kids from the messages that they’re being bombarded with daily. This would mean that parents would have to do the tough job of teaching their kids to discern the truth, and analyze the song lyrics, TV shows and magazines that are popular today. I’ll use Katy Perry as an example, she was merely a Christian because it’s all that she knew growing up. Her parents were in ministry and it seems that they wanted to protect her from the world outside of the church. We look at where she’s at now and see that as soon as she tasted the world outside of Christian culture, she just threw herself in head first. I’m not saying that she would have done anything else if given the chance. It seems that she was over-sheltered and never given the chance to discern God’s truth in a wild world. I also know this is the case with many of our youth growing up in the church today. Parents’ are doing their kids a disservice by not teaching them to interact with their culture biblically. One can never know if their kids will grow up to be faithful followers of Jesus, but parents can do all they can to help them in a world where it’s tough.
I think that people are crying out to God in all kinds of music, as well as other mediums in our culture. It shows the spiritual state of where people are at with Him. I know that because I’ve experienced it myself. I was certainly caught up in a lot of garbage that came out in artistic expression. But at times it’s as if God was revealing that one day he would call me to Himself. We should listen to the radio, watch TV, watch movies, and listen for moments where people are searching for God. We should also have a firmly grounded foundation in scripture that gives us the strength to process things that could potentially confuse our faith.