I saw something today that made the wheels in my head start turning for some strange reason. It was something pretty normal that doesn’t normally stand out in my mind. As I sat in my room in Germany, I was thinking to myself: Wow, today is such a beautiful day. The sun is shining, it’s nice and warm and there is even a cool breeze coming into the room. This is great. I started cleaning my room and as I put the chairs, and so on, outside, I saw that clouds were beginning to come out and the rays of the sun weren’t coming down like they were before and I was a little disappointed. Moments later, it started to rain. [Read more...]
I spent the summers of 2004 and 2005 in Goettingen, Germany doing research for my Master’s thesis. It was a very interesting (and challenging) time in my life. It was also a time where I found myself growing closer to God. While there, I wrote a few short, inspirational articles and I want to share them with you. So without further ado, here goes . . . [Read more...]
After having my devotions today, I was trying to think about a topic to write about. For some reason, it was harder than normal. I had a few ideas, but couldn’t decide what to choose. Then I saw a Facebook Status update that Committed released their first album and I decided to write about what I first thought about.
Let me give a little background first. I’ve been waking up in the morning (at 4:45am – crazy I know) and reading from the Old Testament. Then, I listen to a chapter from the audio version of the book Patriarchs and Prophets. It has been very enlightening. However, there was one thing that really stood out to me, and almost scares me a little bit . . .
It seems like since the beginning of time, God has been hooking us up, and then we turn our backs on Him. When I look at the children of Israel, that’s what I see. He performed some ridiculous miracles to deliver them out of Egypt and what do they do? Build idols, turn their backs from Him, and ask for a human king so that they can be like the other nations. Lets take it a step further (or farther, whichever is grammatically correct – forgive my ignorance).
Then he chooses a King to lead them. He chooses someone that’s so humble, that when they went to announce him as king, he was hiding among the baggage (1 Samuel 10:22). He starts out great, but then ends up turning so far from God that he stopped following God’s instructions, and started taking stuff into his own hands, eventually leading to his destruction.
And their are many examples of this. Here’s the thing. It seems like this is the sequence of things (in many cases) – Someone starts out humble and serving God. God lifts them up. They praise God and Worship him. Somewhere along the line, things get blurry and they forget who got them there in the first place. Often times, this is the result of associating with the “wrong kinds of people”. They turn from God and bad things happen.
My Concern for us today (yes, that includes me)
Today, we live in a time that is unlike any other. Technology has changed the way we do business. TV and the internet has brought out the beast in us (or so it seems). We see movie stars, internet stars, social media rockstars, basketball players and musicians giving us examples of what it is to live the “good life“, where everybody knows your name and you get what you want because of who you are.
It seems as if we are setting people up as little god’s in our lives. Are you not sure as to what I’m talking about? Ok, watch the video below and see how a group of fans responded to Justin Bieber.
Now you get it? Yeah, I know. It’s kinda crazy, but with websites like Facebook, Twitter, and especially Youtube, it seems like it’s much easier to become a star today than it has ever been before. Could it be that the devil is trying to get us to focus more on people in these last days? Could it be that he’s even trying to get us to focus on OURSELVES? Does he want us all to be “stars” or to at least have “stars” in our lives that we can focus on?
But here’s where it gets a bit worse. I’m a Christian and a Musician. I LOVE Christian music, and there are a number of recording artists out there who’s music I love. Now, it seems as if what has been happening in the secular world of music is also happening in the Christian world of music. We have our famous musicians that are good at what they do. God has gifted them with musical talent and they share that with the world.
I remember trying to find out how much it costs to get some famous Christian musicians to do concerts. The numbers were astoundingly high, to the tune of anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000. Then you go to these concerts and you see these great people do great music. Just like the secular world, we line up afterwards to buy their CDs, take pictures with them to put on Facebook, and if we are lucky enough, get them to give us their autographs – their writing of their names on a piece of paper that we can take home and cherish because THEY wrote it.
Is this ministry? Is this music ministry? Or is someone setting us up to elevate people to where they shouldn’t be, so that our focused can be taken away from the only one that matters?
So what does this have to do with Committed’s new album?
Committed is an awesome group. Birthed on the campus of Oakwood University, they rose quickly to “stardom” after their appearance on NBC’s “The Sing Off”, and their awesome win. If you haven’t read my first article on Committed, you should go and read Committed won the Sing Off and I hope they read this. It sparked a very interesting debate.
Anyways, they just released their first album and I’m a tad bit confused. Is it a Christian album, a secular album or both? I mean it goes all the way from being in ecstasy tonight with you on the dance floor all night (Song entitled “Forever”) to the good old negro spiritual “Soon ah will be done”. From “It is Well” to “Sweet home Alabama”. If you want to Rock out in ecstasy all night while listening to the album, you can do so, or you can go to church and hear them sing another song from the same album that will give you a glimpse of what heaven will be like.
How should I feel? I’m not sure, but I’m very concerned. Why? Because it’s the same thing I read about in the Bible, and I’ve seen the results of it. God lifts you up, you let the world in, and eventually you end up thinking – “hmm, I’m not too bad”. Then you start thinking – “I’m da bomb!” Then as we loose sight of who brought us to where we are, bad things happen. However, what’s worse is that when these things happen today, it easily influences the world as opposed to the group of people around us.
I’m also concerned for myself
I’m gonna be pretty honest here. As you know (and as I’ve said already), I’m a musician. I play the piano, my wife sings, and we have our music ministry. We’ve done music all over the U.S., have been featured on 3ABN in different ways, we have our online ministry, and a lot has happened. We’ve been in places that put us up in very nice accommodations and treated us like King and Queen.
I also have the online stuff that I do, and it has been gaining traction, getting a lot of exposure, and growing beyond what most people imagine. As a result of that, a lot of stuff is happening in my life.
God is blessing, and it feels good. However, I HAVE TO be cautious not to forget who brought me here, and where the focus NEEDS to be, or else it will be easy to fall into the same trap that so many of us fall into. We’re not immune to temptation. We need to remember that God is still God, and that He’s the only one that’s worthy of our praise.
A great example
I don’t want this blog post to be very negative. There are also great examples in the Bible of people who God lifted up, but they still stayed faithful to him. The one that comes to mind is Joseph, who was brought from slavery all the way to second in command to Pharaoh. However, he remained faithful to God, even in his elevated position.
He was so faithful to God that he didn’t “take advantage” of Potiphar’s wife because he couldn’t do it and sin against God.
May we all seek to do the same, and elevate none other that God in our lives.
What do you think?
I know I’ve kind of been all over the place in this blog post, but I’d like to hear your opinions. What do you think about committed’s success and their brand new album? What do you think about anything I had to say? Let me know below.
It’s the question we’ve all been asking, and up until recently, I had some interesting thoughts about why it is. Really, you look around in our churches and you realize that the church is getting older and older. It almost seems like in a few years all the old folk will die, and what will be left will be a few people here and there. Is that where the church is heading? I don’t think so, but the question still lies – why are so many young people leaving the church?
Well, let me start by telling you why I THOUGHT they were leaving . . .
Reason number 1: Church is too boring.
According to Eric Schmidt from Google, “Every 48 hours there is more content being produced from the beginning of time to 2003″. Every 20 minutes on facebook, there are over 1 Million links shared, 1.8 Million Status Updates, 2 Million Friend requests accepted, 10 million comments, and 2.7 million photos uploaded. If you need a quick entertainment fix, you can jump on Youtube, Hulu, and other sites and watch videos, movies, tv shows and a bunch of other things (both good and bad).
The technology we’ve come to know and love has made it so that times are changing at an alarming rate, and excitement is only a mouse click away. However, it often seems as if many churches have been stuck back in the early 1900. With everything else changing so quickly, and the church appearing to stay the same, the gap between the way Churches run and the lifestyle that young people are used to is growing ever so wide. This is the main reason why so many of them are leaving the church . . . or so I thought!
Reason number 2: The Church is too Judgmental
Yes, that’s it. You finally make it to church after dealing with some messed up stuff. Life sucks and you know it. You might have been partying like crazy, doing drugs, sippin on some liquor, and yes . . . eating chicken (I know, crazy right?). But then something happened . . . you had an encounter with God in a strange way and finally decide to make a change – This week, yes . . . You are going to Church.
The decision was very hard, but it’s your decision and you’re sticking with it. Or so you thought. You put on the most “churchy” clothes you have, and took the trip. You expected everyone to be praising God that you finally came back after all this time. However, that was not the response. Instead, you get those judgmental stares – you know the ones I’m talking about. Those “What in the world is she wearing?” kind of stares.
You even overheard the deacons saying “She has a nerve to show up here after all that she has been doing“. Even the pastor seemed to judge you, and you know for a fact that he’s cheating on his wife. All in all, it was obvious that you weren’t wanted there, so you resolved within yourself to NEVER go back to church again. You don’t want to go anywhere with those judgmental hypocrites. THAT’S the main reason why so many young people leave the church . . . right? Yeah, I used to think so too.
Reason number 3: The Church isn’t loving
There’s a “Loving Church” experience that happened to me in the past that I always refer to when talking about this topic. Back in 2000, I had a acappella singing group that was invited to go down to Paris, Tennessee to open for an acappella festival (called Acafest) hosted by the world-renown singing group Acappella. This was an awesome experience because I’ve been listening to that group since I was a little boy (which sometimes I feel like I still am, lol).
When we went down there, the experience was amazing, not just because of the awesome music, but because of how LOVING the people were. From the time we got down there, we felt as if we were around family. When it was time to leave, my friend Kirk and I jumped in my ’93 Ford Escort and started driving back to Michigan. As we were driving, we started talking about how great the experience was and how loving the people were. We started missing them already – so much that we decided to turn around and go back just to spend another day in their presence.
If the church was as loving as those people, young people would NEVER want to leave, just like we found it so hard to leave Tennessee. I’ve never had that kind of experience in Churches I’ve been to. Now that MUST be it. That’s why so many young people are leaving! FINALLY. Wait! No, that’s not what God revealed to me a few weeks ago.
So why are so many young people leaving the church?
Every morning for the last few months, I’ve been reading a section in the Bible and then following up by listening to the corresponding section of the audiobook “Patriarchs and Prophets“. I have all of the chapters on my iPhone and I choose the corresponding audio chapter to listen to each day. It has been such an enlightening experience.
As I’ve been looking through the books of the old testament, it amazed me to see how much the stories in the Bible are similar to what is happening today. I started realizing even more that one of the reasons the Bible exists is to help us to learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before us.
Just like today, as the younger generations came up, in MANY cases, they turned their backs on the same God that did so much for them. The same God that lead them out of Slavery and took them to the Promised land. And I think I finally figured out the reason.
Instead of Following GOD, they were following the people who God set in place to lead them to Himself. Instead of focusing on God, they focused on what people like Moses, Joshua, David and the other Patriarchs and Prophets were doing. They were relying on the faith of their parents, kings, judges, and other leaders.
There is an inherent problem there – PEOPLE FAIL. People don’t always act out of love. People are often judgmental. And yes, people are often boring, lol. However, God IS Love. God wants to SAVE us. And yes, God is HILARIOUS.
But here’s the problem . . .
Many young people are growing up not knowing HOW to get to know this God. They don’t know how to study the Bible, and in many situations – they don’t know how to pray. Yes, even the ones who grow up in the church.
How do I know this?
Because I often feel like I don’t know how to get to know this God, or how to study the bible, and even how to pray. I know, I’m not supposed to say that, right? I’ve been in the church for 31 years, and have been teaching in Adventist institutions for the last 5 years. I go around doing music in the name of Jesus Christ, telling people to give their lives to Him. I even try to use the internet to spread that word.
But, I’m still learning, and I have A LOT to learn. Fortunately, my God is so great, that He is leading me. He is teaching me. As imperfect as I am, He is using me.
So how do we fix this?
We need to teach our young people HOW to get to know God, study His word, and Pray, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. One step at a time, one young person at a time. We need to help them realize that they CAN have a relationship of their own with the only one who matters when it comes to our salvation. If THAT is what we focus on, I strongly believe that the other problems will start taking care of themselves (in other words, God will take care of them).
So do we stop trying to fix those other problems I mentioned. Not at all. They are still problems and with God’s help, we can be fixed. However, in this post, I wanted to focus on what I think the CORE issue is. Don’t worry, I’ll get to those other parts. This is just the first in the series
So what do you think?
Do you agree or disagree? Why do you think young people are leaving the church? If you have left the church, why did you do it? I’d Love to hear! Leave a comment below!
I was visiting some friends over in St. Petersburg, Florida today (shout out to Kirk and Kanique). Somehow, we got on the topic of Committed (they seem to be the hot topic these days). They had seen all the comments on my blog about the topic, and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to check out some youtube videos and share our opinions.
At some point, we found an interview that Committed did with Entertainment Weekly. One in which they were pretty open about their religious beliefs. I want to highlight a few of their answers here because I was excited about some of the things they had to say. You can read the entire interview here. So lets get to the points I thought were interesting:
EW: What do you think was the toughest part of the competition for you all?
GESTON PIERRE: Well, we are Seventh-day Adventists, and we don’t do any work from Friday night sundown until Saturday night. That was a challenge for us because we had to take Sabbaths off, and as a result, we ended up behind, so we would have to catch up, basically. We’d spend countless hours — sometimes up until 4 a.m. Sunday and then we’d roll up for 8 a.m. rehearsal [the same] Sunday morning, so it was a lot of hard work, but we stood up for our beliefs, and we actually benefited from that day of rest. It was a privilege to have some time off because the realities of reality television are rigorous and scheduled, so it was nice to have our Sabbaths off. [Read more...]