There's a widespread idea among charismatic Christians that says that if you want to grow in your relationship with God you must only listen to Christian music. The idea is that secular music without a Godly message is problematic.
Because it's "of the world."
To avoid being "of the world" many Christians teach that we must only listen to Christian songs. Which on today's contemporary Christian scene are songs flooded with Christian terminology and phrases: "Christ has risen", " we sing glory, glory..." "we raise our holy hands." -- Those kinds of lyrics.
If you're a Christian you probably know these songs well.
Classical music that lacks lyrics is usually considered ok -- and indeed, many classical pieces have Godly names and messages. But to some hardcore modern day religious zealots even this kind of music might be suspicious, as they easily find evidence of "secular" influences there too (I've ran into people like that -- they find secular influences in just about anything). Because according to the modern day Christian zealot a true Christian should remove all things from their lives that lack the Christian label, (this is their interpretation of the scriptures that teach a lifestyle of a full surrender to God)
So let me say a few words about that Christian label. That sneaky Christian label:
All it is - is a label. A superficial, external thing that misses the true heart of the matter, which is the attempt to strengthen a person's inner harmony with God. Religion focuses on external things and always misses the point -- which is what things look like on the inside. Faith on the other hand focuses on strengthening a person's true connection to God, and doesn't care about pleasing other peoples' opinions about what their life should look like.
Religion creates external images, Faith draws you to the truth.
The problem with Religion and its stigmas demonstrates itself on the Christian scene particularly in the area of music. Many baby Christians in their narrow-mindness have without much further thought put limits on what kind of music they consider acceptable to themselves and others. They've fallen prey to Religion's traps.
But what's the purpose of music?
It's meant to free you. So that the gates of your heart can open up, and you can hear God's voice.
I've heard someone prophecy these words: "God made music for the heart, not the ears."
What's the music that makes your heart fly? That's the music for you. I promise you -- God speaks to you through that music. And I don't care what anyone says, or what it says on the CD label. I say this to the Christian out there: It's okay for you to listen to music that doesn't have a Christian or Godly label on it, if it makes your heart fly and connects you to yourself and brings peace and clarity and healing inside of you. If the music does that to you, it's good for you. It's from God.
And you don't have to apologize for listening to music like that.
Because God is very good at hiding in things that don't have the appearance of being Godly, but actually are very Godly indeed. So don't judge a book by its covers.
This issue with music is particularly close to my heart, because music is very important to me. It connects me to myself -- and to God -- in ways that nothing else can. I'm sure you feel the same about the music that moves you.
When I became a Christian I didn't sign up for the music that was force-fed to me for over 20 years (until I put a stop to it). This was a style of Christian music that I didn't particularly care for, this Christian worship and praise music. For a while I really tried to like it. But I couldn't. And I wondered if there was something wrong with me. Even worse, I wondered if there was something wrong with my relationship with God. It got blurry like that, even though my distaste in Christian praise music had nothing to do with my relationship with God. But that's what Religion does to you, when you get caught in its traps. It took me a while to free myself from it, but once I did, I saw without a shadow of a doubt the nature of its deception, and I never went back.
I spoke about this issue with Christian worship music to a friend of mine once. She doesn't call herself a Christian, but, nevertheless, has a strong faith in God. Her comment on Christian music stuck with me: "It kind of sounds like elevator music."
Elevator music. Do you know how explosive it would be for me to say that out loud in Christian circles? It's such a taboo. It would be considered like an open insult. But I believe that discussing this issue is important and healthy.
It's not about being mean or trying to embarrass anyone. It's not about trying to put down a certain kind of music, or promoting my own taste in music. This is about letting everyone be FREE to listen to whatever music that they like. Which, of course, would include Christian music too if that happens to be your cup of tea. My point is: We who call ourselves Christians need to be true to ourselves, even in our taste in music. And that's all.
It's such a liberating thing to realize that we can.
A few words on that elevator music. It's explosive, so I'll try to thread softly:
The reason why I agree with my friend's observation that a lot of Christian praise music sounds like elevator music, is that I believe that when it was made it didn't come from the heart. Right off the bat, it didn't start off right. It wasn't genuine. It was made with an agenda.
Elevator music is like that. You know, when you enter an elevator in some office building or hotel. It's that sweet music in the background that is designed NOT TO OFFEND ANYONE. It's like trying to bow in eight directions at the same time. The music is simply there just to fill up the empty space, not really to communicate what music was made to communicate, which is true emotion. This music is artificial. Created with an agenda. To make money or to sound a certain way. TO FIT IN. To be APPROPRIATE.
It all sounds the same. It's not original, but done with a formula.
It's the same with Christian music. A lot of Christian music. There's a formula for making it. You must make it to FIT IN with the religious system, the atmosphere of many churches. And you must include some type of APPROPRIATE, pre-approved message about Christ in there, somehow.
Guess what? As good as it is to sing about Christ - when you do it at the wrong time, in the wrong way, when God didn't give it for you to give, it will be wrong. Just wrong. No matter how good your intentions were. This truth is particularly transparent when you're trying to make music, poetry and other type of creative activities. You can't fool the heart. You just can't DECIDE to make a magical song about God. People's hearts will sense what's genuine and what's not.
People's hearts will recognize a copy from the real thing. Even when the head doesn't. Because a heart can smell a copy cat.
Tiny observation: Have you ever noticed how the majority of these Christian worship songs are sung with a breathy voice? I know I sure have. Is this a mere coincidence? I don't think so. Why do they all sing with a breathy voice? I'm asking you. When there's such a range of different styles in the world how songs can be sung. Why on earth do so many, many Christian songs have this same breathy voice?
Could it be to convince the listener that they feel all these deep emotions when they sing the song? (those deep emotions that you MUST HAVE in order to be approved by the Christian groups? Because your song is supposed to be so anointed by the Holy Spirit. [anointed = common Christian lingo that means Godly inspired] )
I definitely don't want to be mean here, and I know I'm starting to sound like I am. But it's only because I'm tired of the pretension.
Well, I give up. Since this stuff is so explosive, I'm just going to let my friend the Cat in the Hat finish saying this for me, while I go and hide somewhere in the closet. I'm going to let him speak his truths in his messy way, because I trust him. He makes a tremendous mess whenever he comes, but somehow he always leaves the place sparkling clean afterwards, and somehow, mysteriously better. It's a mystery to me how he does it, but he always does it.
Oh, here he is now. Go ahead:
(The Cat in the Hat speaks:)
"A Poem for the Breathy Voice"
Oh you men and women
with the breathy voice!
I hereby come and demand
to have a choice.
Not to listen, anymore,
to your breathy voice!
Sure it's very nice,
and of course, appropriate.
But it makes
me have this itch and a scratch
that I just can't take!
So let me be! Let me be! You hear?
I won't be bothered anymore
by your fear.
I can't be enslaved by it
pounding at the door!
I won't be free in it,
not me in it,
not for a minute.
Just won't see in it.
So no. Thank you, but no.
Hate to say it, but you must go."
(Cat in the Hat bows and leaves.)
Let me tell you, there are numerous times that I have felt God speak to me through secular (which means non-Christian) music and movies. Really, He has. And I don't CARE if the singer was stoned with a joint hanging from their lip while singing the song. Completely irrelevant. God just spoke to me through that particular song at that moment in time, and communicated to me something I needed to know right then.
Because it wasn't about THEM at all. You see? It wasn't about the messenger at all. It was only about the message.
Because the messenger is NOT IMPORTANT!
It was about ME, you see. God and me. It was between the two of us. It had to do with our private relationship. And no one else's.
It was about God giving ME a message that I needed to hear right then, and He gave it to me in a format that happened to fit my circumstances at that time. And MY PERSONALITY and tastes.
He gave His message to me in a way that my brain could understand and appreciate.
By the way. This same principle applies to you too. It's about God and you. You, the individual, the one God made the universe for. It's about just the two of you. And no one else has the right to come in and mess with that relationship and just walk in there and interfere when the two of you are talking.
That's the beauty of God speaking! He speaks to everyone individually! Creatively! Wonderfully and so incredibly humorously! (I love Him. I just love Him for that.)
But back to my point.
Time and again this has happened to me. God has spoken to me through completely non-church-approved secular songs. Because He doesn't care who He speaks through.
He speaks through everyone.
So no, my friends, Christians, no. He does not only speak in your churches, through someone who has been born again. That program, and way of thinking that says that God touches a person only in a way that fits your theology and understanding and church's style - that's not true.
I's NOT TRUE.
I have placed here and there on this website links to different songs where I have felt God speaking to me in one way or another. They sort of comment on my words. I do this just to show you how God can speak to a person through music. Just to give some practical examples.
The interesting thing is that most of the songs that God has used to communicate with me have been secular. He doesn't care how He reaches a person's heart. He doesn't care about Christian labels at all. Because He owns the universe and all the people in it.
He can do whatever He wants.
Whose idea was it to convince people to think that God doesn't speak throgh some of these wonderful secular songs that make so many people's hearts fly? When clearly He does.
Who came up with this bright idea?
Let's see... It's a lie. It keeps people from recognizing God's voice in their lives. It steals their joy, it dictates (like a tyrant, a bully) what type of music people are allowed to like and and not like. It enslaves them. It forces Christians, like me, to pretend to enjoy what we don't enjoy. It also builds barriers between Christians and non-believers, making Christianity appear repulsive to non-believers...Hmm..Keep adding to the list, I'm sure there's more...
Just go ahead and check these qualities in the Bible. Whose methods are these? Do they sound like God's methods? I don't think so.
So whose methods are they...?
- I see you. Father of Lies. I see what you're doing here. What you've done for years. And you got away with it, you rat.
Well, no more. At least not with me. You won't steal the music from me anymore.
You took it from me. You took what was rightfully mine, and now I am taking it right back from you!
Hear me loud and clear. I will LISTEN TO THE MUSIC! The music He gave me. And I will give it to anyone who wants to hear it! Because it's the music of God's people. It's the music of God. And you won't be able to stop it. Because it came from Him! And belongs to Him, and NOT you.
Listen to God's music people! And for God's sake, PAY ATTENTION to the lyrics! Listen to His voice. Don't be afraid. Just hear what you were created to hear!
You were made FREE to listen to the music!
(A side note: I just want to explain to you how something works. Just now, as I was writing this down, "Listen to the music" by the Doobie Brothers started playing in my mind. You know, how a random song sometimes starts playing in your mind. It just popped in my mind. So I clicked to You Tube and checked it out. And I found that it commented perfectly on what I was trying to say here. Too perfectly for me to come up on it on my own. I didn't even know about this song, I didn't know who sang it. All I knew was that I had heard it somewhere before.
So what I'm trying to say here is that I think it was God who spoke it in my mind. Actually I'm sure of it. Because I know that He speaks that way sometimes. It's just one of the many ways how He speaks. With these random thoughts that just come out of nowhere.
We need to learn to listen to His quiet voice. We need to learn to identify it. That's what I'm trying to do here. I'm identifying it for you, showing you how it works with me, so you can learn to identify it when it happens to you. And trust me, it happens all the time. You're just not realizing it.)
Okay, moving on to movies.
So, the same way as God speaks through non-Christian music, He also speaks through non-Christian movies.
And again, we have the same problem, that many Christians are unable to recognize this fact. And of course the result is having to deal with Christian movies that are made with the same agenda and formula as so much of this Christian praise music is made with.
Many Christians (especially charismatic Christians) avoid secular movies and TV programs like the plague. They try to either eliminate TV altogether (which can be fine, if it's not your cup of tea), or, only watch "Godly stuff", which in their minds only means Christian television stations and programs (with the Christian label). And if they do go to the movies, it better be something about Jesus, like the story of Christ's life and crucifixion (again, having that safe Christian label).
Okay... How do I say this without offending somebody?
...I guess it's impossible. Won't happen. So whatever.
So let me be offensive then! Let me be the bad guy. Because obviously somebody has to speak out this uncomfortable truth. Because it happens to be the truth.
So I'll just do the dirty job and take the bull by the horns, and speak about this issue that I have with watching the story of Christ's crucifixion at the movies year after year, after year, after year, after year... Yes, it's amazing. And I believe it. I believe it actually happened. I have invested my whole life in the fact that it did happen, just like the Bible tells me.
It's a good story, I agree. But. To watch that same movie over and over and over again... It's like listening to a broken record. Like this is the only thing God ever wants to tell me and teach me about the world... I just can't do it anymore.
And to watch that same movie looking so similar again! Over and over again. The actors may change, some of the scenes may change, the emphasis in the story may be a little different here and there, but yet, it's pretty much the same story all over again.
Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of the Christ" is a refreshing exception to the rule. I actually cried when I watched that movie. I felt the Holy Spirit's hand in it. I felt truth and love.
But that movie was also a little DIFFERENT, and NEW! And for that reason I believe God actually told Mel Gibson to make that movie. (And yes, I know it's so popular to hate him now for all the things he said and did later on, after the movie was already out, all that stuff that the media had a field day with. But whatever.
That's beside the point. Completely.
Am I here trying to defend Mel's character or actions? I don't even know the guy. All I know is that he's human. Like we all are. Imperfect. Just like everyone else. And God comes to imperfect people and says: "Hey you over there, you who are so imperfect you don't even know what to do with yourself. Listen to me and do as I say, and we will create something amazing together."
And he did! Mel actually did. He created this amazing movie about Christ's suffering that touched millions of people's hearts for real.)
But anyway, I digress. Back to those other stories about Christ's life and death. The ones that were done because it's part of the Christian program. The box.
Those are business as usual. Every Easter there's a new one out, done with the same formula as the other ones. Like that's all that God ever wants to tell the world. Like we didn't hear Him when He told us the first time.
HOW MANY TIMES do I need to watch that same white dove descend from Heaven above Jesus' head to get the point?
Yes I get the point. Yes, the Spirit of God descended from Heaven in the form of a dove and lightning on Jesus' head. (and I know that some of you out there now think that this is border-lining blasphemy for me to say this. But I have GOOD REASON for saying this. Because modern day Christianity needs to stop running in its religious hamster's wheel.)
Now I know there are people, who don't know the story of Jesus' baptism, and the rest of it, the crucifixion and everything else. The story is for those people. They need to learn what actually happened. (If you are one of those people you can read about the baptism in the Bible in Mat. 3:13)
But the ones who already know it, ask yourselves, why is it that it's mostly just Christians who go and watch these movies? And why do the Christians think that God wants to repeat telling them the same story endlessly, over and over again?
Don't they understand that God has something NEW to tell them? And what He has to say does NOT come in the "Christian package" at all. That box. It comes in a package that looks very suspicious and worldly to them. But it's Him speaking, just the same.
Heb. 6: Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
Ps.33:3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.
Alright. I want to talk about those other movies now. The ones that God speaks through that don't look religious at all. For example, what about the splendid, refreshingly creative LEGO MOVIE? Did you hear Him? Did you hear how God was training His people to STEP OUT, trusting themselves and trusting Him and USING the GIFTS that He gave them, His people? I sure did. I heard Him speak to me loud and clear throughout that whole entire movie.
And there are so many other movies I'd noticed Him talking in too, teaching me, encouraging me, comforting me and just guiding me. Some of the movies have been talking to me about things that are just personally for me, having to do with my own, personal path and growth. Others have dealt with more universal issues, and seemed prophetic and for many people. Yet others have been combining the two, and taught principles that can be found in the Bible.
Do you think God sits and waits for Christians to go and tell the world about Him? Of course not! While Christians are busy playing church and attending their various social clubs, God goes and tells the world about His ways in a LANGUAGE THAT THE WORLD CAN UNDERSTAND. He hides His messages here and there and everywhere and keeps hammering human kind through movies and music and anything and everything He can. He's always done that.
Sometimes He speaks in code. Sometimes He speaks plainly. But He speaks constantly.
This is not to say that every movie out there is His design. Not at all. This is to say, that movies are one of the ways how He speaks. And I'm ESPECIALLY referring to movies right now that lack the Christian label. OPEN YOUR EYES.
Have you noticed how many movies out there deal with end times nowadays? This is not a coincidence. Also, pay particular attention to kid's movies, and I'm talking about the creative ones, not the ones done with a safe formula.
Here a short list of just some of these movies where I've heard God speak:
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 1952 (obviously)
Alice in Wonderland 2015 (based on Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Alice returns to Wonderland as the conquerer she was always intended to be, taking down the Jabberwocky. The Jabberwocky represents the the devil.)
- The Matrix (Teaches about the nature of spiritual reality. How we are blinded by the physical world around us, not understanding that everything we see around us is governed by an invisible reality, which is the true reality. Becoming aware of the Matrix, is similar to becoming aware of the spirit world around us, and how it affects everything we do and are, and actually creates our realities.)
- Nanny McPhee (Teaches how to deal with misbehaved children, i.e. dysfunctional people the right way, the Godly way. Not by screaming and yelling, but by being assertive, firm and kind.)
- The Book of Eli
- The Rise of the Guardians
- What Dreams May Come (Teaches about the spiritual worlds or Heaven)
- Field of Dreams (Teaches faith and acting in faith, and what it means to listen to God's silent voice.)
- The Messenger (The story of Joan of Arc. Teaches how God can choose an individual and use them to change both other individuals as well as a nation)
And so many more.