Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fences and Yancey

And this summer I led a 1st grade class through the Jungle Safari VBS at CBC.  It was one of the best things I've done since getting married.  There is no greater hope than leading children to the Lord and hoping that they get it and it sticks to adulthood.

The curriculum from Standard Publishing (which I sold to the people at LifeWay in a way) had music from this singer named Yancey.  Who is Yancey?  I assume she's just this young chick who writes children's music for Standard Publishing.  But she's actually really good.  She has short, spiked hair with a highlight, dresses in punk clothes, and rocks with a bunch of kids in the background.  One of her songs was good enough that we started singing it in the chapel service.

Here is the link to the song, and it actually is a good one.

What became of this revelation for me?  It reminded me of the year I enjoyed Paramore.  It was a brief spell, but it was also a time when I was trying to influence younger kids.  I went through an escapism period where I liked Twilight and therefore Paramore.  And I knew young girls who are easily influenced by this.  I'm actually really sorry for that.

But Paramore has this one good song called "Fences."  It really makes you think of the teen celebrity culture.  You think of young people like Miley Cyrus who were raised in a certain mold as a minor.  She makes a stand for Christ and celibacy before marriage.  Then she turns 18 and kicks loose and now she swings on a wrecking ball in mostly her birthday suit.  What happened?

Not defending her or anything, but trying to understand, this chick had to be mature and wholesome with no direction as to its meaning or relevance.  Disney presented her the luxurious life of fame, food, friends, and attraction.  Then she left any statement she used to have about Jesus and decides to experiment.  To her, Jesus and goodness were just her TV image.  She grew up as a TV personality and is just know trying to figure out who she really is.  But at this time or exploring is now permanently on camera for all to see and to influence young girls.  Even if she goes on to repent, which I hope she does, she will still have this permanent record of he folly as she went through adolescent crisis.

I love how "Fences," sung by another young lady who is famous, claims Christianity, but is not real clear on how it changes her life, pleads with these young stars, male of female, to set up boundaries and fences to protect them from the dangling millions offered by Disney.  They feel like they have to do everything their manager says, and they get some joy out of it, but they are dying on camera because they abandoned faith in God for this quick temporary pleasure in order to get sponsors.  When you are famous, it is hard to have a private life.  In fact, I feel really sorry for such kids as Miley, Justin, and even recently departed such as Shirley Temple.  Even if, like Shirley Temple, you grow up into respectable adulthood, you still live the Truman Show.  You have no private life and any slip-ups from time to time get published into history.  Shirley was pro-choice for a spell in the 70s.  Justin got arrested.  We all know the story of Britney, Timberlake, and Lohan.

If only they had heard "Live Differently" by Yancey when they grew up.  Yes, they will stand out, but then again, they'd stand out.  Read Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend.  Learn to tell people no even if it risks your career.  And seriously, you can earn fame when your more mature enough to handle it.

PS hope the video works.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Seeing Gallifrey from my House

It's actually hilarious.  Frustrating, but hilarious.  I remember in the 2008 election when Sarah Palin ran for Vice President and gave me so much hope because her running mate is such a RINO.  The media couldn't stand a beautiful, popular woman who is feminist and also ragingly pro-life and against Oblabla.  People began to hate her because they believe everything NBC says without question.

That's not the point.  One time, Tina Fey portrayed her on SNL.  She was great, and Palin loved her portrayal.  Tina's most famous moment was when someone asked her about foreign policy.  Playing Palin, Tina said, "I can see Russia from my house!"

I loved that skit.  However, people on Facebook kept saying that Palin said she could see Russia from her house, so she thought she was good at foreign policy.  They would say, "I can see the moon from my house but I shouldn't work for NASA."  Facepalm.  Sarah never said that.  Tina said that in portrayal of Sarah.  You actually can see Russia from parts of Alaska and swim there.  But that's not the point.  That was just a clever SNL joke.

Changing the subject sort of: I grew up in a household where at least my mom and I loved cats.  I love my cats and have gone great lengths for them.  But Mom and Dad both told me that animals do not have souls and will likely not end up in heaven.  Recently Dad brought that up again at dinner, and I just had to disagree.

The thing is, animals are not as valuable as humans.  Humans are made in God's image and he sent Jesus to redeem them.  But I'm telling you, I think of Rachel, Leah, and cats from the past such as Stan and Pogo the rare male calico and think, no they'll be in heaven.  They have souls.  Why?  My love for them gives them souls.

Genesis 1:28 is where God told his new humans to multiply greatly over the earth and subdue it.  When they sinned, it damned all creation, not just the humans.  Before that, carnivorous dinosaurs at only plants and so did we.  Nothing died.  Now all creation groans, dies, suffers, and bleeds until Christ's return.

Revelation 21 also speaks of a new heaven and a new earth.  We're made in Jesus's image and he died for just our salvations, but no, if we are saved, our pets and animals will be in heaven, too.  God's kingdom will be here on earth one day and all will be as before yet without sin or dying.

So, here comes the absurd notion started by Bill Maher and that guy who hosts that Cosmos show.  Bless their hearts, they're spreading the rumor that Ken Ham believes aliens are going to hell so we should not witness to them.

They have greatly misrepresented him and made a "Russia from my house" statement for Ham that will last until Christ comes back.  Fine.  People spread lies about other people.  Other people believe them.  That's life and Ken will just have to live with the fact that he know what he said and there's nothing wrong with him.  I've been there too.  It's totally alright.

But I can see how Bill and Degrassi What's-his-face could glean from Ken's writings such a conclusion, and this is a point I've never quite come eye-to-eye with Ken on myself.  Believe me the guy is brilliant and if people would pull their fingers out of their ears, stop saying "la-la-la I can't hear you" and listen to him, there really is no reason to scientifically believe in evolution.  In fact, science confirms God, Creation, Jesus, the Flood, and a young earth.

But it is true that Ken does not believe in aliens because God created humans in his image, Adam's descendants, us, are the reasons why the universe is in such pain, and Jesus graciously died for Adam's people - you and me - and not for any other species.  He did not die for the angels.  If angels are damned then they have no chance at salvation.  But he had mercy on us for whatever reason.

So according to Ken, if there is alien life out there, then it's not biologically descended from Adam and Eve, and therefore Christ did not die to save them.  It would not be much use to try to seek them out, much less witness to them.

Now, I love sci-fi.  I love Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars and the rest.  I don't actually believe in extraterrestrial life except for maybe God himself and his angels.  But I don't see why sentient beings outside of this planet cannot be redeemed along with us.  If my cats are going to be in heaven because I love them, then beings from other planets will be there, too.  Actually, not heaven, but God's kingdom on earth.  Let's get away from the heaven idea, because eternal life is going to be right here in God's New Creation.  Heaven is for now, but will not always be invisible.

When Christopher Columbus stumbled upon America, he met the Native Americans.  True human beings with souls for whom Christ died.  We had not seen them since the world broke up at the tower of Babel and some of Jephthah's descendants became maritime people and sailed away into the great unknown.  But lo and behold, the Native Americans are our relatives too.

I think one of the Church's biggest embarrassments is not seeing people who are different from us as full humans.  This is why we've had tragedies such as slavery, abortion, the Holocaust, and the murder of American Indians for their land by the American government.  If Meghan New, a Caucasian female in Georgia, could look at black people, Asian people, Latinos, autistic people, poor people, people who do not listen no matter how much you want to help them, and everyone else as human beings equal to us and not less valuable, maybe MLK's dream could finally come true.  All people have problems.  I have problems.  They are not the same as other people's problems, but they are still problems.  I may be able to talk and hold a job while my autistic brother can't live independently and needs 24-hour supervision, it does not render my brother the one with the problem.  He has problems, I have different problems.  I may have ASD tendencies, but people who don't have them also have problems.  We all stink.  We are all rotten.  We all need God's grace.

And guess what.  I'm not descended from Abraham.  I'm not biologically a Jew, but by Christ's blood, I'm a member of his Church.  I am descended from Adam and related to you, but my cats are not.  Yet they are still members of my household and have dignity as members of the New family.  And people who do not have origins on earth may not be related to us any more than a cat or dog, but they can come under the umbrella of Christ's redemption. 

So are there aliens?  Who cares?  All I know is that Christ will renew all creation, therefore all its denizens will have a representation in his Kingdom.

The end.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Irenaeus 1-3: Valentinians

Irenaeus preaches against the most common heresy that creeped into the church early on: gnosticism.  There are many forms of gnosticism, but the one Irenaeus decries is the Valentinian kind.  These people follow Valentinus.

Let me say, it is confusing, but I'll try to explain it.

In the highest heavens there is the most excellent being.  These days he is called Bythus, but he has other names.  Bythus had a wife named Sige.  They begat male and female pairs of twins.  There are 15 pairs and together they are called the Ogdoad.  All the individuals are called Aeons.

Aeons wish to honor Bythus, so they make their own aeon pairs.  This group of thirty aeons is also called a Pleroma.

For 30 years, Jesus the Savior kept silent while these aeons ruled the world.  Jesus is also called Monogenes, and he sprang from Bythus unknown to all except for the aeon Nous.  Ultimately, one of the youngest aeons, Sophia, tried to create a child with Bythus.  She wanted passion apart from her twin aeon.  Because of this she fell from heaven and somehow had Jesus.

These people also consider Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to be aeon twins.

Somewhere in there, matter is also evil, and it was created through Monogenes who was the product of Sophia and Bythus.  He is the evil Demiurge who is God of the Old Testament, and Jesus came to save the world and the aeons from him.

So basically, 1. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are less than God.
2. God the father is a demiurge
3. How did Jesus get here again?  I'm confused.
4. How insulting to say that all the matter and the universe around you with its beauty is an evil gift from the OT God!
5.  This is not Christianity but its ideas crept into the church teaching the way they do today.

This lives on today.  All the names are changed and might even be real people from time to time.  But if you are in a place where Jesus is merely God's power and not God, then you are drinking the Valentinian Gnostic kool-aid.  If the God of the OT and Jesus are separate beings, you might be a gnostic.

Do not be deceived.  God created a good world.  Man corrupted it with Sin.  God sent his Son Jesus as a gracious gift to save the whole planet and redeem his people back to him again.  It's like night and day different from Gnosticism.  Matter is not the problem.  God did not cause evil.  We caused it by disobeying God.  Now he sent Jesus not accidentally but planned it from before creation to save humans and matter from the evil of treason against our Creator.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Irenaeus: intro

I started reading the ancient church fathers on CCEL again.  I got out of the habit and want to come back.

I return with someone I can relate to.  Irenaeus is best known for his polemics: Against All Heresies.  I need to read this work because of my desire to steer people away from lies that are dressed up in cute tuxes and dresses for Sunday.

After reading the intro, two things stuck in my mind.

1) To quote Wayne Rogers, the devil is not going to be dressed up in a red suit and parading down Bourbon Street.  He's going to wear an adorable tux and walk through the church doors like a cute young man younger than five. 

"Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself."

It will come disguised as someone who cares for the poor, children, the marginalized.  They sing good music and have good speeches.  They are absolutely affectionate with you.  But inside they deny the possibility of eternal damnation or they deny the deity of Christ.  Or they decide that all that isn't important, that all religions are equally valid.

Or sometimes they do have all the good theology but they use it to tell people that they can use God as a vending machine to get healings, a good job, a good marriage, money, and all the comforts that Jesus never had.  They have no sight of the invisible world that is more permanent, making all our gains here worthless in comparison.

2) Irenaeus was a relatively uneducated man, so his words will be more raw and uncultured than most people.  He's not the slick professor on NPR.  He's the southern guy next door with all the unconventional wisdom.

"Thou wilt not expect from me, who am resident among the Keltæ, and am accustomed for the most part to use a barbarous dialect, any display of rhetoric, which I have never learned, or any excellence of composition, which I have never practised, or any beauty and persuasiveness of style, to which I make no pretensions."

It's funny, I've never really had an opinion on Duck Dynasty.  All I know is I work at LifeWay and we sell their products.  And some people like them and some people despise them.  Both sides come into the store in South Atlanta and they come in all races on both sides.  I don't know if they're becoming more of a cult classic among the younger boys around there, but they are picking up attention.  They became more controversial last December with Phil's interview that got him suspended from the A & E network.

I'm sure they are nice moral people, but I always got the idea that their Christianity was more part of their Southern Culture then part of them.  I'm glad they support Republicans and the 2nd Amendment, but y'all, there's more to conservatism than that.

I imagine Irenaeus being kind of like those guys but his Christianity is more than culture.  It's a part of him.  He may be unrefined and crude, but he does cuss and use anatomical language like Phil did, causing me to not really take a side in that debate.  But just the same, I do side with right theology and rightly loving Jesus and being content with where God has placed you and how he's made you.  I look forward to seeing what he says real soon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The List: 6-17-14

Here is some notable music that matches the neighborhood of Cleveland Avenue and is superb.  LifeWay should pay attention to these people.

First is Je'Kob.  He has a song called "I Believe"

Notice how he makes a huge stand for believing in creation and not evolution.

This next group is an anomaly: the Walls Group

I haven't heard such Jesus-centered lyrics in a long time.  I don't know many people in South Atlanta who enter a church who can say, if I never get that house or that car or no one knows my names, but I have Jesus I'm alright.  Really, what if you have nothing other than Jesus.  You already have heaven.  What more do you need?  People, listen to the Walls Group.  Calvin would give a thumbs up.

Compilations: Gotee Records turns 20

Gotee Records, the record label founded by TobyMac in 1994 has been around for 20 years.  It has produced successful singers and albums and now celebrates with an album.

I remember my favorite singer being Jennifer Knapp.  I remember the long hiatus and wondering in 2010 what she was doing know.  I still grieve over the lifestyle decision she has made.  She took on the lesbian lifestyle and still tries to insist that it is consistent with Christianity.  Believe me, I've been to the point of loneliness and ennui of following God's Word and then feeling alone and needing love.  I've known what that community thinks is a call to the gay lifestyle.  But it's not.  It's a call to cling tighter to Jesus, ask him to pull you out of this mess, and to love him more than your circumstances.  This is also a time to practice purity and enjoy being single until God finally sends someone for you to marry.  At the same time we should love our friends, but that should not lead to sex.  It should lead to glorifying God.

But this is not about Jennifer Knapp, or gay people.  I still really love her songs which are truly gospel songs.  I hope one day God leads her back to his fold to solid teachers who can better serve her as a single woman and to show her where to put her passion.

This is about Gotee, however.  All of Gotee's current artists: there are four of them according to Wikipedia, and others no longer with them came together and sang some of the most successful songs from Gotee's label.  Two of them are by Jennifer Knapp.

I did not know before that Relient K was ever on Gotee.  I did not know that Out of Eden was the first band signed on it.  I knew about GRITS and John Reuben and other people.  I know about Jamie Grace now.  But I did listen to bands I didn't know before yesterday.

I think first place goes to House of Heroes singing "Stereo."  I didn't hear them sing it but I heard them.  It just shows that after tolerating rap and enjoying the CCM movement, I still love some good rock.  House of Heroes provided that.

Second place is Stephanie Smith.  She has the same name as my mom, but sings music mom would never listen to.  It's good rock music that still sounds like music.  She really reminded me of Paramore. 

And finally, third place goes to Paul Wright.

I think I remember this song from Trevecca days.  It has a good sound.  As far as familiar songs go, it should be the winner.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Compilations: Gotta Have Gospel Classics

At first, I hesitated to listen to this because it seemed like it had the same music as the last compilation that I reviewed.  They both start with "Shackles" by Mary Mary.

However, I enjoyed most of the album.  There is already a series of Gotta Have Gospel albums.  This one features older songs.  Again, I got to listen to singers that I sell at LifeWay that I never listened to before.  In a world where there are singers on Christian labels, this album features true Christians that sing about the true Gospel.

Yolanda Adams is my first winner with "The Battle is the Lord's."  This is an utterly Reformed song that encourages listeners to stop trying to improve their own lives.  God is in control, not me.

 Second place is Donnie McClurkin with "I Call you Faithful."  It starts out using the same lyrics but changing one word with the next verse: I call you holy, I call you faithful, etc.  Then it goes into a different part and is completely focused on Jesus.

Third place is one of my all-time favorites from Israel Houghton, "Again I say Rejoice."  It makes me think of my time at Trevecca when I would sing with the Treble Tones led by DeLise who had kids in the music industry.  It also reminded me of singing in the gospel choir for Trevecca's TNT, our week of PR for teenagers who compete in various contests.  It even reminded me of the church in Franklin, Bethel World Outreach Center, where Israel leads worship.  Many musicians in the Nashville area attend that church.  For a young girl still looking for fame, this song reminds me of good times.  I still love it because it's Scripture and focused on Jesus.  I don't agree with a lot of the things Bethel teaches (they are a more charismatic bunch), but Israel's songs are truly Christian.