Tuesday, November 21, 2017

THE SINNER'S PRAYER UNDER ATTACK

There are those now who are trying to make a case against The Sinner’s Prayer.  The argument is that it is superstitious and unbiblical, or so goes David Platt’s conclusion.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPhEEzjU8xQ (accessed on November 21, 2017)  He says it is nowhere in the scriptures.  To that I say, neither is abortion or the rapture, but conclusions can be made from other scriptures about God’s instruction on those subjects.

To address what the Bible says about salvation and how someone may have come up with The Sinner’s Prayer (I have no idea who came up with it or how, but Biblically it appears to be okay to me) let’s go straight to the Bible.  No better place to start…or end, for that matter.

The argument some people make is that what the Bible actually says is that we should orally confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead.  The basis for that is Romans 10:9, which actually says:  that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  That is absolutely true.  However, are we not taught that we should compare scripture with scripture?  Is that ALL the Bible says about salvation, or is there more?

Can we also offer these scriptures? (From the New American Standard Bible, NASB)

John 1:12 – But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God even to those who believe in His Name…  There is no mention of confessing with your mouth or believing that God raised Him from the dead here.  Neither is there mention of receiving Him and believing in His Name in Romans 10:9.  So we must believe in His Name and receive Him.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  There is nothing from Romans 10:9 here.  "Believe" is mentioned in both but with different meanings.  In Romans 10:9 it is that we are to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead.  In John 3:16 it is that we are to believe in Jesus.  Two distinctly different ideas.  So we must believe in Him.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Again, there is no mention of confessing with your mouth or believing that God raised Him from the dead here.  Neither is there mention of John 3:16’s message of believing in Christ.  So we must believe salvation is free to us but we must accept this gift.

Ephesians 2:8-9  - For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works so that no one may boast. Again, there is no mention of confessing with your mouth or believing that God raised Him from the dead here.  So we're saved through faith and accept His free gift.

Ephesians 3:17 – …so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…
None of the previous scriptures contribute to this one’s message except Ephesians 2, which says you’re saved through faith.  If you don’t accept Christ into your heart, how is Ephesians 3:17 going to happen?  If you're a Christian, not only has He come into your heart, He is DWELLING there!  No one DWELLS at your house unless you invite them.  Just like there are probably not squatters in your house (I hope!) there aren’t squatters in your heart.  If someone is in your heart, you’ve allowed it.  You’ve invited them in.  So by faith we must invite Christ to dwell in our hearts.  He does not force His way in.

It appears to me that God offers us a free gift:  salvation through Jesus Christ.  It also appears that we must take ALL the scriptures on salvation (and surely I have not listed them all here) and compare them, put them together, and tell the whole story.  Let me ask you this:  if I stand in front of you holding a wrapped gift and tell you that it’s yours, don’t you have to accept it?  Don’t you have to walk up to me and take it from my hand?  I guess I could put it on the ground in front of you and walk away, but you still have to pick it up.  You still have to accept it.  Accepting the free gift of Jesus Christ as our salvation is VERY Biblical, in my humble opinion.  The gift is there.  If you never accept it, do you really have it?

God is not going to force Himself into your heart.  If Ephesians 3:17 is true...and it is...it’s up to you to invite Jesus Christ into your heart.


Have you done that?  Or have you left His beautifully wrapped gift lying on the ground and walked away?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

UP ALL THE TIME


I saw this posted on Facebook this morning.  In my opinion this is one of the most misleading and, yes, even foolish quotes I’ve ever heard.  The person who posted it is a friend of mine and I love her, but I think she didn’t really get the full impact.  Again in my opinion, this is just another example of how easily we Christians are deceived.  I know a lot of the people who hit the “like” button and I just simply believe they took the post at face value, maybe just skimmed through it and it sounded good, and didn’t really concentrate on it.  At first glance to some, this seems like a great read.  For me it wasn’t.

"We shouldn't be so up and down. There ought to be consistency. We should be the same all the time, because if we're walking with Jesus, He's 'the same yesterday, today, and forever' (Hebrews 13:8). If we're up sometimes and down other times, it's because sometimes we're trusting Jesus and other times we're walking in our own flesh. WE OUGHT TO BE SUPERNATURALLY NATURAL. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is in us at all times (Ephesians 1:19-20). It never fluctuates." ~ Andrew Wommack "Living in God's Best"

Is there a Christian on earth that doesn’t on occasion walk in the flesh?  How about those of us who go for that second piece of cake when we know we shouldn’t?  How about those who give in to premarital or extramarital sex?  And, yes, that happens to some Christians.  They may not be very strong Christians but they’re Christians nonetheless.  All of us give in to temptation, which Jesus never did.  Mr. Wommack is asking me to BE Jesus, not be LIKE Jesus.  There’s a great difference.

And speaking of Jesus, how about Him?  He cried when he was at the tomb of Lazarus…and He knew He was going to raise him!  Doesn’t sound like a very “up” moment.  How about when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane?  That was not a very “up” moment for Him.  He was grieving.  How can you grieve to the point of sweating drops of blood and be “up” at the same time?  If it was possible for anyone, it would have been possible for Him, but it doesn't appear that way when you read this account in the Bible.  Probably not an “up” moment for Him.

And what about being “supernaturally natural?”  It is not natural…or even human…for someone to be “up” all the time.  Even a Christian.  I guarantee you that if you know someone who is “up” every time you see them, they’re having a “down” moment sometimes when they’re alone.  One of our emotions is sadness.  Am I to believe that there is a Christian who has never been sad?

Anyway, here is my response to her post.  Oddly, one of the people who first made a positive comment on the post hit the “like” button on my response.  Maybe my response made her reread the post and come to a different conclusion.

However, we are humans and this is just not going to happen. A person going through something devastating (divorce, sickness, etc.) is going to have a down moment or two although they know Jesus hasn’t left them. Jesus also asked us to be perfect as He is perfect and holy as He is Holy but we all know that’s not going to happen on this earth. I appreciate the thought but it is a crushing burden for anyone to expect that of me. And, really, if you know me you know I’m usually “up” but it’s just not that way every moment of every day. I wish it were, but Jesus is always there in those moments.

Soooo…what do you think?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

GRAPE JUICE

Usually I come at you with something serious, something that disturbs me or even ticks me off.  Today I want to be lighthearted.  Maybe it's because the world seems to be going crazy from the ground up.  To' up from the flo' up, as my friend likes to say.  That's actually supposed to be "tore up from the floor up."  Proper English would be "torn up from the floor up," but that doesn't rhyme and isn't nearly as funny.  So here's the giggle story.  It's okay to laugh at me about it.  I did.  Eventually.

Several years ago before our Winn-Dixie turned into a Harvey's, I was there doing a bit of shopping, and as I finished up and was leaving the checkout pushing my haul in the buggy (yes, in the South it's mostly a buggy but sometimes a cart) I slipped on something and landed on my back.  You know, like in the cartoons.  Exactly like that.  I guess to some, like my daughter who has always had this uncontrollable tendency to laugh when someone takes a spill, this would be funny.  Of course, people came running from all over as I lay there in my stupor.  See, I was still trying to figure out how I got from a standing position, yea, even a healthy gait, to sprawled on my back on the cold, cold tile.  I was standing, and then I was lying.  I know it sounds like a page straight out of a Winnie-the-Pooh book, but there I was...gone from standing to lying in a nanosecond.  That has to be a record.  Someone check with Guinness while I finish the story.

It was a bit surreal, y'all.  I paid for my items, started to push my buggy toward the exit, and all of a sudden I was laid out on my back looking around like a blooming idiot.  I'm sure my mouth was gaping open and my eyes were big as saucers, as my mother used to say.  Employees (Do they still call them that?  Maybe it's associates.  No, that's Walmart.  Oh, well.) were bending over me and I started telling them, "I'm okay.  No one's going to get sued."  After they were sure I was steady on my feet (and no lawsuits were forthcoming) they left me alone and it occurred to me that it might be interesting to find out how I fell.  You don't go from standing to lying in a billionth of a second for no reason.  I went back to the checkout lane and there it was.  The culprit.  The antagonist.  The villain.  A smashed grape.  A freshly smashed grape.  I could tell because it had not become grotesquely smashed.  It just looked like it had been smashed one really good time.  (Not my grape.  I didn't buy grapes that day.)  Still...it was ugly.  Wow.  Well.  Okay.  Satisfied with my discovery, my groceries and I turned and headed for the exit...again...this time actually making it to the car and home.

There's something mildly satisfying about finding out why something happens.  As far as all the craziness that's going on in the world right now, well, the end is near.  That's not original with me.  I'd like to claim it but I can't.  That's from 2 Timothy 3:3-5 "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.  For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power..."

Oops.  I threw something serious at you again, didn't I?  Honestly, this really did start out to be simply a funny story on myself.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

HYPOCRISY AMONG THE COOL


I saw a series of videos recently of a preacher talking about God’s expectations of us.  He represents so many of his kind now that his name is not important for my purposes here.  I’m not sure what caused this drastic change in preachers and pastors, but I think it has a lot to do with the infestation of Rick Warren’s writings, including “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life” a number of years ago.  That’s when everything “church” fell apart for me.  We had a pastor and associate pastor...precious people...at my church at that time that had their eyes set on “church growth.”

This is where I see their first mistake.  Church growth can mean different things to different people, I suppose, but to me the most important kind of church growth is that the church…the already established bride of Christ…grow, as the Bible says, “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  (2 Peter 3:18)  “Fathers” (church fathers?) “do not provoke your children” (your flock?  those under your care?) to anger,” (disappointment and hurt with the church?) “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  (spiritual growth?)  (Ephesians 6:4)  Number growth is fine but not if ALL the growth you’re doing is in numbers.  You can grow a church from fifty to two hundred and fifty, but if no one is growing in Christ, all you’re doing is building a really great social club.

These two guys appeared to me to be more interested in gimmicks and tricks and schemes to get the numbers in our church to grow.  I’m sure they would say that wasn’t true and that they were also aiming to offer instruction to those already seated on Sunday mornings, but what I saw was a shrinking of the numbers.  After our involvement with Rick Warren’s “Forty Days of Purpose” back in the early 2000s, and the promise that so many new people would come that we would have to add more seating, the church actually had to remove seats so that the sanctuary wouldn’t look so empty.  Many people left.

When you decide to make cosmetic and semantic changes but there is no positive change of the heart…among church leadership or anyone else…I have to wonder why the changes are even made in the first place.  Church names were changed from “First (fill in the denomination) Church” to “Something Community Church” or “The Vine” or “The Well” or “Crossroads” or “Crosspoint” or…well, you’ve ridden down enough roads to have noticed the changes.  Did you also notice that IF their denomination was present on their sign, it was miniscule in most cases?  Why were they suddenly ashamed of their denomination?  If someone didn’t want to attend a Baptist/Lutheran/Episcopal/Methodist/Presbyterian/etc., etc., church, why would you want to trick them into coming into one?  Isn’t that a bit dishonest?  They have adopted a logo (when maybe they didn’t even have one before) that is many times a sloppy, stylized cross, or…well, really I did a search for “church logos,” and there were some that I’m not even sure what message they were trying to get across.  They looked like some kind of modern scribbling that didn’t have anything to do with a church or the cross or anything else Christian.

Ah.  Think on that a minute.  It should only take you a minute.  Did it come to you?  You have to make your church…COOL.  I don’t mean the HVAC kind of cool.  (That’s already a problem at some churches.  “It’s too cold in here!”  “It’s too hot in here!”)  Rick Warren encouraged church leadership to ask their congregations what they WANT in a church.  Hm.  Does that make you put on brakes?  I’ve read through the Bible about twenty times or so and have listened to it a time or two and…please, somebody correct me if I’m wrong…I don’t remember a single time when Jesus asked his disciples or anyone else what they wanted in worship or what kind of messages they wanted to hear or what kind of seating was most comfortable for them or…well, you get my drift.  Jesus just simply preached truth.  Whether His listeners wanted to hear it or not.  And many times they didn’t and chose to leave.  That was their choice.  He wasn’t going to do anything to appease them if they didn’t want to hear the truth.  The truth that God gave Him.  I remember Him asking a man that was calling out to Him what HE wanted, and what HE wanted was to be healed from an affliction!  And he knew Jesus could do it.  That’s even been taken away from some churches that used to offer a time for the use of Spiritual gifts on Sunday mornings.

Some churches used to have a time of ministry to the congregation.  That has fallen by the wayside.  If someone is going to church because they serve coffee and doughnuts, or because they play “my kind of music” or because “I can dress like I’m going to a tractor pull” or the worship team is on a stage where there’s smoke, flashing lights, and a disco ball, that person isn’t going to meet Jesus.  That person is going to be entertained.  Read about Jesus in the Bible.  The only “entertainment” He provided was when He performed miracles like when He fed people the loaves and fishes…and He called them out for following Him because of it.  His reason was not for entertainment but for providing sustenance for the hungry.  People are hungry now...maybe hungrier than ever?  Not for physical food but for something to save their souls.  Some people don’t even know that’s what they’re hungry for!  They need to be offered Jesus, not the watered-down, entertainment-laden drivel that some are spewing!  Yes, apparently Rick Warren suggested that Sunday morning sermons should not contain much meat.

Decades ago, churches formed home groups, usually held on Wednesday nights but certainly not limited to then, where couples would open their homes to groups of about ten or fifteen people, maybe twenty, and study the Bible.  Our church, at one time, had about ten of these going on during the Wednesday night home group time.  Then the names…for some odd reason…were changed to small groups, still a cozy name, but less inviting.  Home group just sounds more comfortable than small group, but small group still gives the impression of coziness with your friends from church, and those visitors you may have invited.  Now that has all been scrapped for the name LIFE groups.  Honestly, I’m not even sure what that means.  Are they trying to tell me how to live my life?  I understand why home group was changed to small group…because few people wanted to have people in their homes.  Maybe they were just too busy.  (Hm.  That’s a subject for another writing.)  I don’t, however, understand the change from small group to LIFE group.

Anyway, back to the videos I’ve been watching.  The preacher, of course, was dressed like he was going to just lay around his house or go bowling or something and he walked back and forth across the platform, which was fine as long as there was a closeup.  When it panned out, however, I can’t tell you a word he said because his cool shoes kept my eyes going back and forth as I watched the large white line on the sides of his dark shoes going back and forth, back and forth.  And the background of his large stage had big stripes of solid orange.  (He was using a book that he authored.  It’s solid orange…front and back.)  You may have figured out who he is by this, but I don’t care.
He talked about the fact that God wants us to be holy more than He wants us to “do” stuff.  That is absolutely true.  And, of course, if we’re holy we’ll WANT to do stuff.  (I just added that.  I don’t think he actually said that, but it’s true, right?)  So he was giving examples of how we should do all we do as unto the Lord, which is biblical.  One example was that if you’re a mom at home doing housework and taking care of babies, cleaning poop, you should clean that poop to the best of your ability.  “Those should be the most poop-free baby butt cracks anywhere.”  Now at this point someone…because they have been “cooled” into thinking cool…will roll their eyes and say, “Come on.  There’s nothing wrong with that.”  Oh, really?  Then I’m wondering what Paul meant when he wrote Ephesians 5:4, “and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”  I’m thinking there is no place for this (and worse) kind of talk from the pulpit…or the stage…or the platform…or the disco ball room…or whatever your preacher emits from.

On another of the videos, the trash talk continued.  He introduced the phrase “deo ho pneuma,” meaning “wrapped up, bound by cords,” indicating the way we are “compelled by the Spirit.”  In interpreting each of the three words, he thought it would be funny to say that “ho” is the “girl your mama warned you about.”  Later he talked about some people making a “buttload of money.”  In discussing this with my husband, he said, “We’re the old ones now.  The young ones don’t talk like we do.”  Seriously?  Is that because the young ones are being led by people like this?  People who are okaying their slangy mouths by having slangy mouths themselves?  Teaching them to talk disrespectfully, disobeying the Bible?  I know you’re probably feeling like I am the biggest prude on earth, but really, do Christians really need to go about reflecting so much of the world like this?  Especially Christian preachers?  They’re supposed to be examples to us of how to live the Christian life, not how to live like the world.  We’re to be in the world but not of the world.  That’s not what I’m seeing these days, and frankly I wonder where it’s going to lead us.

In the middle of all his teaching on being the best you can be at all that you do because we’re supposed to live by Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,” I’m wondering why he has come to worship the Lord looking like he’s going to a sporting event.  Why wasn’t he dressed “for the Lord, rather than for men?”  I’m wondering why his speech was coarse.  Why wasn’t it “for the Lord, rather than for men.”  I’m wondering why he was trying to get the speck out of my eye instead of removing the log from his.

My church experienced the most growth…of both kinds…when the praise and worship was simple biblical choruses, a few contemporary songs (not creepy songs like the one about the sloppy wet kiss or the Jesus Is My Boyfriend songs, see my March 29, 2017, blog post “Christian Music”) and the occasional hymn, there was time allowed for congregational ministry, and the pastor at the time took to the pulpit dressed like he was serious about worshiping Jesus, and simply preached the Bible.  He made a scant few references to other people’s writings, he put on no shows, and didn’t talk “cool.” He and his family were well loved.  Our church didn’t even have any programs other than home groups and children’s church on Wednesday nights and then Sunday morning worship, and we were family.  There were few problems.

These days, first-timers have to be bribed to come back by receiving a gift.  I don’t blame them…it’s the church that started this practice.  The screens where the words are projected now have to have some artistic picture behind the words.  (Can I tell you how much this distracts me???  I saw one at one church that flashed onto the screen before the words did and it looked like I was spiraling into a hole!  I saw another one that was a video behind the words and when a bug scurried across the screen, I almost laughed out loud!  Why would you produce something like that?)  The service must be “artistic” in some churches with dancing and acting.

I’m going to take flak for this, I’m sure, but the reason for so much of this is that the church seems to have been turned over to the youth and twenty-somethings.  I love youths and twenty-somethings.  I used to BE a youth and twenty-something.  My husband used to be a youth and twenty-something.  I have two children who used to be youths and twenty-somethings.  My observation is that they put more thought into the artistic parts than what’s actually supposed to be coming across to the congregation.  Shouldn’t something as important as a church service and worship to our Savior be led by those who have learned many life lessons and have much maturity?  Which these will have if left to sit under those who have “been there and done that” and will have plenty of opportunities to lead later.

I said “congregation.”  Can I still call them that?  Is congregation a bad word now?  You do know that saying such things as “Lord” is taboo, don’t you?  I’m told that people can’t really relate to “Lord.”  Oh, really?  Ask them about “Lord of the Rings” or “Lord of the Flies” or Lord Vader!  They know the connotation of Lord!  What they need to know is THE Lord!

How about this one?  Have you noticed that people will say they are “Jesus Followers?”  Some Christians won’t even say they’re Christians anymore!  I understand why.  It’s because so many people who are not Christians will say they are.  I even did it before I was saved.  (And, yes, if you got saved, it’s okay to say you got saved…because you DID!  Saved from a sinful life and saved from hell.  Yes, you got saved!)  Just because someone says they’re a Christian when they’re not doesn’t negate the fact that I’m a Christian!  The Bible says “they were first called Christians at Antioch.”  (Acts 11:26)  If the Bible says I’m a Christian, I’m a Christian!

These days pastors apparently have to preach a series of sermons.  There are no single sermons anymore.  This can be tiring.  And lame.  It doesn’t have to be but sometimes it is.  Because there must be a gimmick, like everything must start with a “P” or an “S” or some other capital letter.  There are buzz words that have been thrust into sermons and other speeches and meetings in the churches.  “Culture,” “relevant,” “paradigm shift,” “core values,” "passion," "passionate," “purpose,” (thanks to Rick Warren) and most recently “intentional.”  Preachers/pastors go to conferences that the church is funding in order to come back with new buzz words and gimmicks for church growth.  I love my precious pastor and his precious family.  Maybe it doesn’t exactly appear that I do, but I really do.  They are wonderful people.  I just need my pastor to preach the truth and let God handle who comes through the door.  Or leaves through it.

Preachers, here is a word for you, if you will hear it and receive it:  Your focus seems to have turned to numbers.  Bring it back to preaching and let God handle who comes.  You appear to be trying too hard.  You are straining.  Honestly, if you will just stand up in front of your church, pick up your Bible (a real Bible…not The Message…it’s New Age…do your research and stop following the Pied Piper) and preach its truth and not what some man or woman or even YOU think is truth, I can almost guarantee, your church will grow.  I have seen it with my own eyes.


I don’t think anyone much reads my blog, but to my pastor:  If you happen to read this, call me in for a meeting.  I’d LOVE to talk with you about it.  J

Saturday, June 10, 2017

NOT TOO SPORTY, BUT...

Anyone that knows me very well knows I’m not much on sports.  I wasn’t as a child and I’m not now.  I got into the Braves big time back in the 90s when they were all the rage, but I even gave up on that after awhile.  I like to go to my grandson’s baseball games because…hey, he’s my grandson!  I like to go to my church’s softball games because my son and son-in-law play on the team.

Although I sorta like baseball and like to watch a few of the events in the summer and winter Olympics, if you pressed me to pick a favorite sport “just because,” even though I don’t even like racing, I’d have to say NASCAR, and here’s why:

You couldn’t pay me to go to a race (never been to one…I hear they’re too loud, too dusty, and you’re too likely to be splattered with “something,” most likely beer, or vomit because of the beer) but I pick NASCAR for several reasons.  While driving, the drivers’ bodies are all covered up by car, and even when the dash cam is on, their heads are covered up with helmet, so you can’t see if they’re swearing, and they pretty much don’t use foul hand gestures because they have to hold onto the wheel.  Besides, their gloves fit like big old marshmallows.  (They’re not perfect…you will catch one outside the car sometimes unloading on someone.  They’re human.)  Before the race starts, there is ALWAYS a prayer that is televised and many times prayed “in the Name of Jesus.”  There’s a whole slew of us that like that.  The drivers stand in silent respect as the National Anthem is sung and the prayer is prayed.  (They even take off their hats.  They take off their hats!  Wow!)  If anyone is offended by any of this, no one knows it as they keep it to themselves and don’t spoil everyone else’s good time by running and screaming that they don’t feel safe or that their rights have been violated.  If any of them is homosexual or lesbian, no one knows it because they’re not in front of a camera trying to thrust their lifestyle in our faces.  This is how NASCAR is done, this is how it’s been done for years, and if that is a problem for you, then you need to pick another place to spew your beer or political rantings.  Don’t support NASCAR if you’re not going to support NASCAR.

And today I have a whole new reason to choose NASCAR as my favorite sport.  Hubby’s been watching the race and they just ran a commercial involving several of the drivers, one at a time, saying “Thank you,” some even mentioning names and one saying, “Thanks, Navy.”  It ended with, “Home of the free because of the brave.”


Yeah, I’ll choose NASCAR.  Now hand me that remote.  I want to watch an old movie on TCM.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

CHRISTIAN MUSIC

Christian music used to be so simple.  You knew what to expect.

You went to church.  You waited until the song leader indicated that it was time to sing.  (I went to a small church.  We didn't have a music director.  We did well to have fifty people there.  We had a song leader.)  You  picked up your hymnal and the music portion of the service began.  You turned to the page selected by the song leader, the pianist (only a pianist...no guitars, drums, horns, etc.) played a short introduction, and you started to sing.  A very familiar tune.  Someone's favorite, for sure.  I think my daddy's was "In the Garden," but I'm not sure.  We didn't talk about it much.  I have no idea what my mother's was.  Again, we didn't talk about it much.  What was there to talk about?  This is the way it was.  Everywhere.  This was the ritual.

Admittedly, there was not much life to the ritual.  Don't get me wrong.  I loved the people.  They were either neighbors or people my parents knew or relatives.  I loved them.  I loved the songs.  I loved the pianist.  She was only a year younger than me and we took piano from the same wonderful teacher.  Marla was better at it than I.  She had that playing-by-ear thing going on sometimes.  I don't do that.  I wish I did but I don't.  Sometimes we girls would sing.  There were four or five of us.  Sometimes Marla's mother would play and we girls would sing.  Sometimes Marla would play and we girls would sing.  Sometimes Marla would play, "Whispering Hope," and I would sing.  That made me only slightly nervous.  Playing the piano would have made me sweat bullets.  I'd much rather sing.

Over the years Christian music has changed.  If you listen to Christian radio, unless you're listening to a lively gospel station, you hear some contemporary, upbeat music that just might make you tap your feet.  I like some of it, but some of it I find a bit problematic.  The rap music makes me wince.  In the first place, it doesn't do much for me because, truthfully, if I can't understand the words (and this is radio, folks, there's no lipreading) it doesn't do much to minister to me/help me minister to others/bless me/encourage me/draw me closer to Christ/teach me to reach others.  It could be any of that other foul stuff on those other stations, for all I know.  Right now, I'm trusting that it's not, seeing's how it's on a Christian station.  But "Christian" rap is just, for the most part, a bit garbled, in my humble opinion.  It has the rebellious sound that the other rap music has and the words just don't always come through the speakers.

Then there are the "Jesus is my boyfriend" songs.  I wish I had come up with that cute little phrase, but I didn't.  I heard a guy on Christian radio tagging them as such once and I realized that's a good name for them.  You know the ones, don't you?  There's one out right now called, "Hold Me," and honestly she could be singing it straight to her boyfriend as she says, "I love the way you hold me," and "Just when I feel this crazy world is gonna bring me down that's when your smile comes around."  There isn't a real hint that she's talking to God.  I looked up the lyrics online and she doesn't even bother to capitalize "Your" to make sure everyone knows she means any part of the Trinity.  I searched for something that made me know it was a Christian song and the word, "Lord" is in there three times.  You know, like, "Lord, I was born a ramblin' man."  Or "Oh, Lord.  Stuck in Lodi again."  Or "My Sweet Lord," George Harrison's tribute to Hinduism.

Call me old-fashioned (I've been called worse) but I think Christian music should have something to do with Christianity.  You know, God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit.  It should say that Jesus Christ is my life, that He is the One Who gets me through my day (which I think is what "Hold On" is supposed to convey.)  It should tell you about Him, lead you to Him, praise Him, worship Him, scream that I'm nothing without Him, encourage you that He is your help in times of trouble.

You probably aren't getting the fact that I love contemporary Christian music by reading this, but I do.  I love the songs that do what I just described, not the ones that someone hoped would be crossover songs and make it on the pop, rock, or rap charts.  I like the ones that don't do a lot of "oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh" but that have actual words and that lift Jesus Christ up to people, that offer what He wants you to have, that praise and worship Him.

Church is for worshiping the Savior and telling folks about Him and what the Bible says, and I think the music part of the church service should do that as much as the sermon does.