stryper theology

What Is Christian Music

In my teens, I become very interested in Christian Music. I began buying cassette tapes and albums of music by Amy Grant, Michael W Smith, Newsboys, Petra, and Whiteheart which were popular artists/bands in the 80s. The music reflected events occurring in my faith life. I was also rebelling in my way against the music my classmates were listening to which didn’t reflect my values.

As I have grown older, I have started listening to some music I was against in my teens. And, yes, there are songs that don’t reflect Christian values. While I don’t listen to those songs on regular bases, I listen to them from time to time enjoying their construction. The way the hooks bring you into the song. The harmonies. The guitar playing.

I also discovered there were songs not as “evil” as I had thought them to be. In fact, the opposite was true. There were songs out there that had very Christian values yet not labeled as Christian. Around the same time, I also discovered a few artists who made Christian music did not live those values.

This has led me to question what exactly is Christian Music? Without going into a lengthy explanation of my inner discussions, I have come to this conclusion. I use these litmus tests. Does the music hold true to Christian values? Does the song assist me in my faith? Does the song build me up as a person? If the answer is yes to all three questions, then I considered the music to be Christian whether or not the artist intended it to be.

Case in point. Black Sabbath has a song entitled “After Forever.” While Black Sabbath is not known for its Christian values, the song, in my opinion, has a lot of Christian values and builds me up as a Christian. So I consider it Christan Music. However, I prefer Stryper’s cover version, as the band comprises Christian musicians who try to live Christian values.


Lent and Easter More Than Once a Year

The past week we recounted the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. Many of us prefer to focus on the Resurrection because: 1) it is easier to reflect on because we prefer to not to deal with pain and suffering; 2) the Resurrection if proof to us that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. It is what convince the first believers and on which all Christian faiths build their foundations.

In my recent personal reflection on the Passion, something struck me today.  OK, it isn’t something new, I just revisited something I forgot.

Jesus died so that we may be freed from the spiritual punishment of sin, permanent separation form God. The reason I say spiritual punishment, we will always suffer the temporal affects of sin. If I sin against my wife, our relationship suffers because of that sin. If I am sorry and repent my sin, God forgives me. My wife may forgive me, but that damage will always be in my relationship; to what degree will always depend on the serious of the sin and how much I do to make preparations for the sin. A the some time, we need to realize that Jesus didn’t give us a blank check saying do whatever you want, I’ll will pay for it. We are too avoid sin.

However, Jesus’ death becomes more powerful if we place on the cross those things that cause us to sin. If my anger causes me to lash out in unhealthy and sinful ways, then I need to put my anger on the cross. That doesn’t mean Jesus will never let me become angry again, but if I left than anger on the cross, Jesus will help me express and deal with that anger in healthier ways.

We are challenged during Lent to give up something, but it doesn’t mean this process is to stop after Easter. Instead we are to echo Lent and Easter throughout our lives. When we encounter sin in our lives, we not only look at the sin but also its’ source. Then we bring it to Jesus who is dying and the cross and let him take not only the sin but its’ source.

If we truly let Christ take our sin and the source of the sin from us, we will experience Easter again and again.