How Forgiven is Forgiven? A Blog Sermon

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

I haven’t posted in over a month, so I decided I wanted my next post to be a good one. After a great discussion in Sunday School yesterday morning, I realized what I wanted to do. It’s a long one so hold on tight…

A year or so ago, I preached to the youth and after I finished one of the adults came to me and told me that he was disappointed about the sermon. I was a little disturbed by this and asked him why. He responded, “Because this sermon is something the whole church needs to hear, not just the youth.” Since I longer have a pulpit, a blog will have to do.

I think that 1 John 1:9 is possibly one of the most harmfully misused verses in the Bible. Sure lots of verses get taken out of context and cause confusion, but the way that this verse is often used cripples believers in their walk with Jesus and buries them under a pile of guilt. Many of you have been told that in order to stay right with God, when we sin, all we have to do is confess and he’ll forgive us. If we don’t confess those sins and receive that forgiveness, we end up “out of fellowship” with God and he doesn’t hear our prayers. When we sin, God still loves us and our salvation is still intact, but he’s not going to talk with us until we “get right with God” and deal with our “unconfessed sin.” Therefore, we often live lives characterized by guilt, sure that God isn’t listening to us anymore because he’s so disgusted with us.

I had a seminary professor who calls this “Protestant Penance.” Catholics to confess the priest and the priest punishes them for their sin; Protestants confess to God and punish themselves. If I had to guess, I’d say that about 95% of my prayers in high school began with “Lord please forgive me for ________.” But is this what the Bible says the Christian life is supposed to look like? Does God want us to feel guilty? I’ll get back to 1 John 1:19 in a little bit but first, let’s see what else the Bible says about sin, guilt, and forgiveness.

From Temptation to Condemnation

When Satan wants to mess with a Christian, he uses two opposite strategies. The one we’re most familiar with is temptation. He coaxes and persuades us, leading us toward sin. He wants us to sin, but once we cross that line and commit a sin, he switches gears.

“See? I knew you were no good. You’re disgusting!”

“Can you really call yourself a Christian after doing that?”

“God can never use a weak, pitiful sinner like you.”

The Hebrew word that we translate is as Satan is ha-Satan a.k.a. “the accuser.” Satan first tempts us to sin and then destroys us with guilt because of that sin. And to make it even worse, he convinces us that God is the one accusing us and beating us down. Romans 8:1-2 tells a different story:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

No condemnation! God does not condemn those who are in Jesus. Instead or condemnation and guilt, we have freedom. This freedom is made possible because we are forgiven, our sins are no longer on us, we have the righteousness of Christ, and we are now at peace with God. But how forgiven are we really? When a person becomes a Christian, God forgives them of their sin because Jesus took their punishment on himself at the cross. Does that forgiveness only cover the sins committed prior to conversion so that a Christian must continually go back to God begging for forgiveness in order to stay in a right relationship with God?

How Forgiven Are We?

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. (Isaiah 43:25)

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14) (emphasis mine)

How forgiven are we? Our sins are so far removed from us, as far as the east is from the west, and God remembers them no more. Does that mean God actually forgets? No, but he doesn’t hold our sins against us and when he looks at us he doesn’t see those sins anymore. He sees us like he sees Jesus… completely, totally, perfectly righteous! When God forgives sin, he forgives ALL our sin. That’s ALL of them – past, present, and future. The sins we committed before conversion were forgiven but so were all of the sins he hadn’t even committed yet! I know I’m going to sin in someway tomorrow, but that sin is already taken care of, forgiven, and God won’t hold it against me or pull away from me because of it. I don’t have to go back to God to confess and ask for forgiveness; instead, I can praise him for having already forgiven me!

But What About 1 John 1:9?

See, I told you I’d get back here eventually. This verse says we have to confess our sins to to receive forgiveness, right? So we need to get out our lists every day and start fessing up if we want to stay right with God, right? Wrong. Let’s look at the verse in context with the rest of the passage.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

John wrote this letter to deal with the problem of some false teachers called the Gnostics. One of the claims that these false teachers were making was that they were sinless. In the passage above, John is warning his readers that those who say that they aren’t sinners are lying to themselves. Instead, we should humble ourselves and confess our sinfulness and receive God’s forgiveness. In the Greek language, the words “forgive” and “cleanse” mean past actions that have results today and will continue to have results in the future. This is not a continual cycle of confession and forgiveness. When we come to God and confess our sinfulness, we are forgiven. Period. From ALL unrighteousness.

When we’re cleansed of our unrighteousness and clothed in the righteousness of Christ, our sins are taken care of completely. This obsession with confession keeps us focused on our selves and our sins instead of focusing on the one who has already taken those sins away. Sin doesn’t make God turn his back on us or separate us from him. He doesn’t hold our sins against us anymore.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

So What Do We Do?

This might have shaken you up a little. If you believe what I’ve been saying here, you might be wondering what you’re supposed to do now. You know you’re going to sin and you feel like you need to do something to make up for it. After I taught this before someone told me that they still wanted to confess and ask for forgiveness because it made this feel better. I guess that’s okay, but realize that it’s really more of a psychological trick to make you feel better about what you did than anything that actually affects your relationship with God. So what do we do?

First off, realize that you don’t have to do anything to stay in favor with God. There is nothing you can possibly do that will make God love you any less or any more. You can sin in the most blatant obviously way possible and God’s not going to love you less. You can sell all of your possessions, move halfway across the world, and devote your life to spreading the gospel to sick children in a third world country and God’s not going to love you more. God doesn’t play favorites. So when you sin, realize you already have the favor of God, he still loves you as much as he ever will, he’s still committed to being in a relationship with you, and you don’t have to do anything to restore that relationship because it’s not actually broken.

Secondly, if you’re feeling guilty, check to see where that guilt is coming from. Are your feelings driving you to change for the better or are they beating you down, making you feeling hopeless and useless? Sorrow over sin that leads to repentance is a good thing, but guilt is not. God does not make you feel guilty. Instead he convicts you to spur you onward toward change. Godly sorrow makes you turn away from sin and work to be more holy; worldly guilt makes you give up.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. (2 Corinthians 7:10-11)

Finally, when you sin, stop doing whatever it was that you were doing and go on with your life. Thank God that he loves you and that that he has forgiven you before you messed up. Remind yourself that you have freedom from sin and guilt and you cannot be accused by the one who wants to destroy you. Celebrate that God doesn’t require you to do or be anything other than who you are in order to gain his favor. Smile knowing that spiritually, you’re just as righteous as Jesus himself and that is the way that God looks at you. And live in his peace, his joy, and his freedom.

Are you excited knowing that when you say your prayers tonight, you can spend a lot more time on thanks than begging for forgiveness? Do you feel more freedom after reading this? Got your pitchforks out ready to string me up as a heretic? The comments section is your place to share.

The Care and Feeding of Your Youth Minister

To avoid any confusion, here’s a quick disclaimer: this is not based solely my personal experience though that has definitely colored my perception. From what I’ve heard, this can apply pretty much across the board.

So you’ve decided to add a youth minister to your life… Congratulations! Your life is about to get a lot more exciting. Youth ministers can be wild and unpredictable, but also very loving and affectionate. Taking care of your youth minister does entail some special considerations. Left on their own, the average life-span of a youth minister is frequently only 18 months or less, but with proper care, your youth minister may last much longer. In the right circumstances, some have been known to thrive for 20-30 years!

Bringing Your Youth Minister Home

• Be careful of the environment where you place your youth minister. Make sure that the environment is open and comfortable, allowing your youth minister a lot of freedom. Youth ministers thrive in environments with a high amount of freedom.

• If you have had several youth ministers in a row, all with short lifespans, it may be that the environment has been poisoned. Don’t place all the blame on the youth ministers that haven’t lasted. Though it may look like a good environment from the outside, some seem specifically designed to kill youth ministers.

• Do not isolate your youth minister.

• When pairing your youth minister with a pastor, a good match can greatly enhance the life of your youth minister by adding companionship and support. Be warned though, a bad pairing can greatly shorten the youth minister’s lifespan. In fact, if they don’t get along, pastors often are the ones who kill the youth minister.

• The office may be your pastor’s preferred habitat, but too much time in an office may make your youth minister suffocate.

Feeding Your Youth Minister

• It is often assumed that your youth minister will feed himself. While this is true to a degree, youth ministers still need to be fed by others. Many people simply drop their youth minister off in their environment and then ignore them until they starve or until something goes wrong.

• Youth ministers can be fed on the job in many ways: encouragement, listening, support, prayer, volunteering, and others. Make sure you also feed them outside of their job through friendship and relationship.

• Youth ministers often spend so much time feeding students that they forget to eat. Make sure that they have plenty of meals and plenty of time to eat them.

Important Considerations:

• Remember that your youth minister is an individual and may be very different than other youth ministers you’ve had before. Don’t expect two youth ministers to do things in exactly the same way, even if one had success with their methods in the past.

• While youth ministers and senior pastors share many similarities, they are not the same thing.

• Youth ministers love building relationships with students, but just being with students is not enough. Though they may be close to students, they also need close relationships with adults.

• Following these tips does not guarantee that your youth minister will have a long life, but they will greatly increase the odds that your youth minister’s life with you will be happy and healthy.

So youth ministers (and youth ministry supporters), anything else you’d like to add?

Random Thoughts on Calling

Well, today was my first official weekday at home since I submitted my resignation as youth minister a few weeks ago. Being asked to resign shook me up pretty bad, and since that time, I’ve done a lot of thinking about calling. I’m not sure yet exactly what to think about it all right now but, here are some of the random thoughts I’ve been having. Feel free to add your thoughts to the mix.

When God calls you to something, does he necessarily call you forever? I feel very strongly that I was called to youth ministry almost a decade ago and I always assumed that was a lifelong call. However, I also feel like I was called to both of my last churches and those calls were only for a certain period of time. Could my call to youth ministry also be for a particular period of time after which I will be called to do something else?

Sometimes calling feels like a cage. Sometimes when somebody reminds me that I’ve been called to youth ministry, I hear, “You are stuck doing youth ministry until you drop over dead, whether you like it or not.”

There are times when I know that I was made to do what I’ve been doing. Yesterday night, my last youth service at FBC, was a really tense, emotional time for me until I stepped up on the stage to speak. When I preach, I’m in my zone. The tension vanished and I preached. I love preaching.

It’s easy to look at your future options when you feel like God is saying, “Do this.” It’s much more complicated when he says, “Look at the gifts and talents I gave you. Listen to the desires I placed within you. Now, what do you want to do with these things?” I’m not sure which method he uses more often. I definitely feel like I’ve had those “do this” moments, but I’m not sure that’s the way it always works.

I do believe that God has a plan for each of us, I’m just not as sure that he always lets us in on it. If God gives a direct “go” or “stop”, you should definitely listen, but I think sometimes, he’s a lot more subtle, drawing on your own talents and desires to show you his will.

Am I done with youth ministry? Probably not. I still feel called to reach out to young people, but I’m not sure exactly how that’s going to look.

More From Mike Yaconelli

I ran across another great quote from Mike Yaconelli at the close of Getting Fired for the Glory of God. I may come back to this with some commentary later, but for now, I’ll let it stand on its own.

When I was 20, I knew everything about Jesus. I swaggered into high schools afraid of no one’s arguments. The Bible was true, Jesus was God, and we all needed him. I still believe those things, but the swagger is more like a limp now. I know Jesus, but I don’t know much about him. I love the Bible–it’s even more true to me today than it was 40 years ago–but the truth I see is now more complicated and mysterious. Jesus is very real to me, but he’s also very elusive. Sometimes I wonder if I’m following him, or he’s following me. Life has left its scars on me. My soul is thick and leathery, faded and torn, knocked around a lot. I’m not as sure about things as I used to be.

Yet here’s the amazing part, the one absolute I cannot shake: Jesus.

As many times as I have disappointed him, as often as I have run from him, he hasn’t given up on me. Every time I turn around, he’s there. Every time I run from him, he’s there.

I don’t know as much about Jesus as I used to, but I know one thing for sure: He’s closer.

The Truth Shall Make You Odd

Okay, so I didn’t actually write this post but it was so good that I had to share it. I’m spending this morning reading some writings by Mike Yaconelli from Getting Fired for the Glory of God. Unfortunately I didn’t discover Mike until after he had already died in 2003, but his words have touched and inspired me more times than I can count. Mike was the kind of wild, messy youth minister that I would love to be. Read the article (written to youth ministers) and if it resonates watch the video clip below to get a peek at this crazy man who challenges and encourages me every time I hear him.

The Truth Shall Make You Odd
Mike Yaconelli

What characterizes Christianity in the modern world is its odd-ness. Christianity is home for people who are out of step, unfashionable, unconventional and counter-cultural. As Peter says, “strangers and aliens.”

I pastor the slowest growing church in America. We started twelve years ago with 90 members and have un-grown to 30. We’re about as far as you can get from a “user friendly” church-not because our congregation is unfriendly, but because our services are unpredictable, unpolished and inconsistent.

We’re an “odd-friendly” church, attracting unique and different followers of Christ who make every service a surprise. We refuse to edit oddness and incompetence from our services. We believe our oddness matters. We want our service filled with mistakes and surprises, because life is full of mistakes and surprises.

One Sunday morning, during the time for prayer requests, a member began describing the critical illness of her father. Because she was close to her father, her request for prayer was frequently interrupted by tears. Those around her reached out a hand or nodded with sadness. Some found their eyes filling with tears as well. The woman finished her request as best as she could.

Seated in the front row was Sadie-a young woman with Down’s syndrome. Sadie stood and walked up the aisle until she saw the woman in the middle of her row. Stepping over the feet of other people in the aisle, Sadie reached the woman, bent down on her knees, laid her head on the woman’s lap, and cried with her.

Sadie “inconvenienced” an entire row of people, stepped on their shoes, and forced them to make room for her . but none of us will ever forget that moment. Sadie is still teaching the rest of us what the odd compassion of Christ’s church looks like.

Someone said “you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.” Whoever made that statement understood what it means to be a follower of Christ. Followers of Christ are odd. Oddness is important because it’s the quality that adds color, texture, variety, and beauty to the human condition. Christ doesn’t make us the same. What He does is affirm our differentness.

Oddness is important because the most dangerous word in Western culture is “sameness.” Sameness is a virus that infects members of industrialized nations and causes an allergic reaction to anyone who’s different. This virus affects the decision-making part of our brain, resulting in an obsession with making the identical choices that everyone else is making.

Sameness is a disease with disastrous consequences-differences are ignored, uniqueness is not listened to, our gifts are canceled out, and the place where life, passion, and joy reside are snuffed out.

Sameness is the result of sin. Sin does much more than infect us with lust and greed; it flattens the human race, franchises us, attempts to make us all homogeneous. Sameness is the cemetery where our distinctiveness dies. In a sea of sameness, no one has an identity.

But Christians do have an identity. Aliens! We’re the odd ones, the strange ones, the misfits, the outsiders, the incompatibles. Oddness is a gift of God that sits dormant until God’s spirit gives it life and shape. Oddness is the consequence of following the One who made us unique, different . and in His image!

May our youth ministries be the home of oddness, the place where differentness is encouraged, where sameness is considered a sin, so that the image of our holy and odd God will be lifted up for all to see.

Odd Man Out: God Bless the Weirdos

Main Entry: mis•fit, n. 1: something that fits badly 2: a person who is poorly adapted to a situation or environment. See also: outcast, outsider, oddball, weirdo, fish out of water, square peg

One of my earliest clear memories was when I was a little boy, probably around six years old, and one of my friends said to me, “You’re weird.”

I said thank you.

I still like being weird. You probably wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I still don’t always fit in very well. I never really have. That doesn’t really bother me 99% of the time. I like being different, charting my own course, marching to the beat of a different drum, [insert cliché about being different here]. In high school, the land of the cliques, I was much happier floating around on the fringes of a bunch of different groups without ever landing in any one of them. Drama, chorus, yearbook… not exactly a recipe for coolness, but I loved it.

The only time this “otherness” bothers me is when I come to church. In my last post, I talked about how people with political views that aren’t GOP have trouble finding their place in many churches, but you don’t have to be a socialist to not fit in in church. I have been in Sunday morning services where I feel like a band geek in a room full of jocks and cheerleaders. I don’t dress the same, act the same, listen to the same music, read the same authors, or watch the same movies. I couldn’t care less about sports but the sermon is filled with football analogies. I’m quiet a lot of the time, not working the crowd shaking hands and filling up the air with small talk. During handshaking time, friends seek each other out and say they’re glad to see each other while I shake hands with the pastor. After church, everybody goes out for lunch together while I head home.

I want to be part of the family but sometimes I feel like the black sheep.

And I know there are other people just like me. They visit a church and before the organist has finished playing the prelude they already know that they don’t fit in. They’re (let’s just say “we,” not “they,” cause I’m part of this group too) the artists, the poets, the creative types who think out of the box, and we just can’t seem to find our place among other Christians. This doesn’t mean that we don’t love Jesus madly. We do. And it really doesn’t even mean that we don’t love the church. We do, but often we feel like the church doesn’t love us back. We feel like a kid who has just been told he’s not cool enough to sit at the lunch table with the popular kids. Church is about the only place where I really do want to fit in, but that just doesn’t happen very often.

Out of context or not, I like the Bible verses that say that Christians are “peculiar people” and “aliens” (thanks, KJV!) That resonates with me. I Iove the others out there like me. Jesus said that all could come to him, not just the ones who have managed to navigate the complicated social waters of the church. Who did Jesus spent most of his time with? Outcasts. Loners. Losers. The people shunned by society and rejected by the church.

So God bless the weirdos, the freaks, the non-conformists, the band geeks and yearbook nerds, the kids in all black and dark eyeliner, the hippie girls who wear organic cotton skirts and don’t shave their legs or under their arms, the indie music snobs…

God bless the kids who would rather be on stage in a costume than on a court in a uniform, the guys who know fashion and the girls who fix cars, the artists whose work will never be sold in the front of a Christian bookstore…

God bless the guys who can’t stand to wear a suit on Sundays, the church members who don’t vote Republican but don’t put bumper stickers on their car for fear of being branded a heretic, the A/V guys who hang out in the back of the sanctuary and run the soundboard…

God bless the sinners and the Samaritans, the unclean and the lepers, the tax collectors and the prostitutes, the “peculiar people,” and the “aliens.”

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:16)

honoring god with our bodies

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Let’s face it, most of us need to be in better shape. I’m including myself in the “most of us.” I recently got a letter in the mail from my insurance company talking about the average health of most ministers. 76% of ministers are overweight or obese, compared to 61% of the population as a whole. According to studies most ministers:

  • Work more than 60 hours a week.
  • Exercise less than 30 minutes a week.
  • Have above average stress, weight gain, and depression.
  • Are at high risk for heart disease.
  • Experience regular gastro-intestinal problems.
  • Report low morale or exhaustion.

I think it’s a tragedy that many ministers who could have had long fruitful ministries are being cut down years too early because of preventable health problems. That, along with a recent stress related health scare*, is why I’m making a vow to do something about it. I don’t want to be a statistic, and even more, I don’t want my ministry to end suddenly just because I was too busy to spend time in the gym and I couldn’t resist that second helping.

Bad health is not just a problem for ministers though. Remember that statistic I quoted in the first paragraph. 61% percent of the population is overweight or obese. Even if that’s not you, if you honest with yourself, you probably need to work out a little more. The church is all about helping people become spiritually healthy, but we’re supposed to honor God with our whole lives and that includes honoring God with our bodies. (For more about the theology involved in physical fitness, check out this post over at The Resurgence.) That’s why I’m looking at the idea of starting some kind of program for youth and a adults to help us get in shape together. No major commitments, just some accountability and encouragement with occasional times of working on this thing together.

This idea is just in it’s infancy right now, but is it something you’d be interested in doing? Is your health something you’re even interested in at all? Answer the poll and leave me some comments to let me know whether or not this is something worth looking at.

*I don’t want to worry anybody. Nothing serious happened, I just found out the fun physical manifestations of too little sleep and too much stress.

Why We Talk About Sex So Much

As most of you parents know, the message last week at our High Voltage service was about sex. After service, I sent the students home a pretty thick packet of information… about sex. Thursday night at Pause, again the topic was sex. Why so much emphasis on sex? Teenagers know to wait, right?

A couple of days ago I ran across an article on MSN’s (Microsoft’s) front page, an editorial piece titled “In Defense of Losing Your Virginity”. This article pretty much contradicted everything I had taught the youth the week before.

The article was written in response to an incident at the MTV Video Music Awards. A good portion of the host’s comedic material centered on the Jonas Brothers’ public stance on sexual purity. All three of these pastor’s kids wear a promise ring and have vowed to remain celibate until marriage. The author of this article believes that the host was right to challenge the boy’s decision, calling their purity rings a “sham” and stating that saving sex is not only an unreasonable expectation, but that it is actually a harmful idea. Unbelievably, the author asserts that abstaining from sex puts teens at an increased risk of getting pregnant or contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

“Plenty of studies have shown that promoting abstinence fails, and that teens who try this route are less likely to use contraception, making them more likely to become pregnant or infected with preventable sexually transmitted diseases.”

Additionally, the author insists that even if a person is successful in saving sex for marriage, they are more likely to end up in a bad marriage than their sexually active peers.

“But the idea of saving it for marriage is only so useful, and it’s the sort of thing that will no doubt lead to starter marriages between horny 18-year-olds who don’t have any idea what “till death do you part” really means.”

Even worse than the article were the comments that readers left. While some did stand up for those who choose to remain sexually pure, many others applauded the author for telling the “truth” and continued to mock those students who wait.

This article was featured prominently on the front page on MSN.com, not on some obscure blog that few will ever read. Teenagers are getting messages about sex everyday, some subtle, some very direct. It’s is imperative that the we present them with a different vision than the world’s. I say “we” because this has to be a joint effort of parents and the church to teach our children and youth the truth about sex in a world gone sexually mad. Teenagers need to know why waiting is so important, so that when they face temptation, they have something stronger to fall back on than “My dad/mom/youth pastor said it’s wrong.” The world believes that teenagers are going to have sex and that there’s nothing that can be done to stop them. We must challenge that message and show our teens that there is a better way.

Subculture?

Originally posted on my MySpace blog.

I’m always excited when I hear a Christian artist getting some radio play on a secular station. I was especially excited on my way to work this morning though because I hear two underground Christian artists getting some play on my favorite radio station, 90.3 WUTK, the University of Tennessee’s college radio station. College radio is great because you never know what you’ll hear. They’re willing to take risk and play stuff you’re definitely never going to hear on top 40 corporate radio.

When I flipped over to the station, I heard a hip hop song that I thought was pretty awesome and then midway through the song the guy gave shout outs to Deepspace5 and Lightheaded. I love these groups, soI called the station and found out the song was by Ohmega Watts, a member of the Lightheaded crew that I just discovered a few weeks ago. A couple of songs later, I heard the unmistakable sound of Danielson. If you’ve never experienced the Danielson Famile, well, it’s definitely an experience. To hear such great music by Christian artists stuck in next to a song with the F-bomb bleeped out at least once every 30 seconds was a pretty cool experience. Maybe someone hears that song and, just like me, calls to find out who the artist is. Maybe that artist then influences their life in someway through the message of the music. That’s what Christian music should be all about. Listen to good Christian artists. Listen to college radio (and don’t let corporate radio tell you what songs you should like.) Request good Christian music on their request line.

Anyway, all this to say, these artists wouldn’t be getting any play if they weren’t putting out music that’s up to par with what secular artists are putting out. Christian music has come a long way since I was in highschool. I remember when dcTalk released Supernatural on Forefront (Christian label) and Virgin (secular label) at the same time. The way some people talked about it, you would have thought they’d made a deal with Satan. But, the music got out into the secular world. “Just Between You and Me” got a lot of play and paved the way for Mercy Me to hit the top of the secular chart with a praise song. People were slow dancing at their high school proms to a song about heaven and what it will be like to be face to face with the One who created us. It blows me away.

As Christians, we’re called to do everything for the glory of God. To me, that means that we should strive to be excellent in all that we do, including making music. The stereotype is that Christian music is usually just a crappy knock-off what’s popular, but some really unique, excellent artists are changing that perception. I love it. We’re also called to be salt and light in a dark world. Christian artists on the college station is pretty dang salty.