For the last year and a half, God had me pull back on preaching loudly about the arts and culture because he has had me in a time of putting my hands to the plow in writing my own music in the private. Sure, I said some things here and there, but not like I use to. Well, the times are changing because the season of preparation is coming to an end and the time of fulfilled promises is at hand.
To set the tone for this blog, I want to first begin by posting part of a Facebook status I wrote a couple of days ago. Here is what I said:
“It's interesting, the arts in the church have been one of the most twisted things used to entertain people and yet one of the most undermined and rejected things that could be a powerful means of influencing culture. Entertainment is in the house of God because his presence is not. On the other hand, we are not influencing culture because we are satisfied with subpar art since it's done in the name of God and are trying to preach over the top through the art. I know many won't get this, but to all of my artist friends, they will understand. One of my heart's cry is to carry much influence both in the church and in culture. We can't expect people to come to us. We have to go to them. Be careful who you criticize because their calling is different than yours, especially when they are actually stepping out of the church walls.”
There is this mindset in the church that needs to be broken that says that art is bad or evil. Yes, much of the music/movies/TV that we see has been perverted and used by the enemy, but it does not mean that it is a sin to be a Christian that is an artist (as long as morals are not broken just like ANY other job/calling). However, this is hardly ever the case for the celebrity status artist, so people automatically believe that being an artist is a sin, especially if you are not loudly preaching at people through your art. Think about it, is God not the greatest artist in all of history? The entire universe is his own creation and canvas!
Being a Christian artist does not mean you have to overly, loudly, and in some cases obnoxiously preach at people to get a message across. In fact, this usually has the opposite effect and turns people away because Christians get caught up in trying to preach a message that they substitute good artistic value to do so. There is a way to be excellent in your art and still carry a good message without preaching at people. In fact, greater artistic excellence will mean greater influence over people, and that is what it is all about. It is all about influence. How can we expect the church to be influential in culture when we are not supplying excellent art (that’s not preachy) and are not even trying to engage culture to begin with? We have this “Come to church” false evangelistic mentality instead of being like Jesus and sitting among the people. He sat among them and burned in holy fire, and we are called to do the same.
We are called to be in the world and not of the world. This does not mean you separate yourself to live in a little hermit crab cave and never go outside. It means that you live among the people of this world, but live according to the standards of God and allow the fire of the Holy Ghost to transform who/what/places/cities/mentalities/churches around you. Some take this to mean you cannot play a guitar with distortion because “It’s of the devil.” Well, they use to say the same thing about your hymns that you believe are the 10 Commandment tablets of Christian music. Believe it or not, hymns with ANY music was revolutionary during its time.
One thing that I have preached, believed, and will step into as a musician is that being a Christian artist does not mean you have to make “Christian art” lest you be a dirty, rotten sinner (sarcasm). What does that even mean anyways? Is it Christian because you preach at people? Is it Christian because you attach the name “Christian” to it (such as “Christian” bands/music, “Christian” movies, or “Christian” TV)? Or is it Christian because it is done in the name of God within the walls of the church? The same thing goes with the word “secular.” What exactly is “secular?” Sure, the definition of it means to take God out of something, and people obviously do this. At the same time, saying something is “secular” and “Christian/sacred” is also creating an “us vs. them” mentality where you begin condemning people and think that any art not “Christian” is sinful. Why can you not be a carrier of God’s fire into a “secular” arena to turn it into a “sacred” space? Is this not what we are called to do everywhere we go as believers? Come on people, get out of the church box!
Just because you are a believer, it does not mean you have to dedicate your art within the walls of the church or with a “Christian” label. Yes, people are called to do this, and we do need this for the building up of the church body. However, there are many artists who are called to be light in the world, not just the Christian world. In fact, is it not fulfilling the Great Commission even more by taking the fire of God as an artist INTO the world instead of only to the church? There is no doubt that both the church and the world need the fire of God, but the world will never receive the fire of God if we do not go after them. On the other hand, there are those that are called to build up the church and to go into the world with their art.
If you have not seen the movie Holy Ghost then you are missing out. During an interview with Michael W. Smith, you could hear much regret in his voice in what he said about his own calling. He truly wanted to go into the mainstream arena in order to be influential over many, but he listened to the opinions of people and turned that away. For sure he has influenced many souls with his worship music, but you could tell he wanted to go a different route. I always wonder how many people turn away from their calling/gifts because they listen to the opinions of people telling them they cannot do something, should not do something, or that something is a sin when in reality God was trying to raise them up to change a generation. That is heartbreaking.
The stage of influence is getting ready for the called, burning ones of God. Think about how influential the church could have been if bands throughout the decades were fire filled, God fearing men and women of God who played awesome music with a message of truth. I look back on art history, but specifically music history, and I become angry. I become angry because of the church rejecting sounds because they were different than hymns, such as what happened to Elvis Presley. What the church rejects, the world will take and pervert, whether that be people, callings, or art. I am also angry that the kingdom of darkness has ruled and reigned with such great influence over culture (politics, arts, media, etc.) for such a long period of time. I am absolutely sick and tired of the wicked having control over money and the influence of millions of people. But in all honesty, I believe I am more sick of the church not doing anything about it and then condemning those who are stepping up to be the change that’s needed in the world.
Hollywood does not need your condemnation, it needs your prayers. Yes, you need to have discernment and to filter everything coming from the arts, but it does not mean you have the right to bash and condemn people. Of course what people do is dark and sinful because they do not know the Lord! You were just as lost, sinful, and on your way to hell before Jesus rescued you! You do need to turn things off, change the channel, and to not listen to certain bands. However, it does not mean that just because something is not “Christian” it is bad, evil, and wicked. Seriously, how many Christian artists do you listen to who are probably living in secret sin, fornicating, committing adultery, or having sex orgies after concerts that you do not know about? If you think that does not happen, then you are naive.
The point is that people will have different convictions about the arts, but at the same time it absolutely does NOT mean anything can go. Just because you do not listen to any mainstream music, it does not mean everyone else has that conviction, and it gives you no right to condemn someone who does. It is not evil and a sin to listen to music that is not Gospel, nor is it a sin to watch normal TV/movies (depending upon the content of both of course). However, as I said before, it does not mean everything is permissible and should be listened to. Work out your own salvation with fear and in trembling.
Whether you like it or not, God is sending revival to Hollywood by raising up a Holy Ghost remnant of artists in the midst of a modern day Babylon. He is raising people who will NOT bow to lawlessness, popularity, and the stage of celebrity status, but will burn with the Spirit of revival to transform those that are around them. Producers, directors, actors, musicians, all of the like will be saved by the ones God is raising up over the mountain of arts. There are so many people who are dying and going to hell because no one is going after them. This is why God is raising up fire-filled artists to go after the ones no one else can reach. I believe the power of God is going to fall on movie sets, concerts, and in staff meetings where there is at least one revival remnant artist present in order to be the mouthpiece to bring people into salvation at that time. God is raising up his revival remnant in many areas of culture to in order for the church to bring in the greatest harvest of souls in history by being greatly influential. Some call it the 3rd Great Awakening, but I call it the Greatest Awakening. We must realize that revival is God transforming culture.
I want to leave you with a video clip of a concert. Look at how many people are at this concert. Look at the influence this could have been if it were a group of Christians carrying the fires of revival through a sound of music that has captivated a whole generation. Some of you will be angry that I post this, but that’s ok. I am not here condoning or condemning anyone/any band. However, you cannot ignore the influence that bands like Metallica has had over culture since the early 80’s. Folks, that is about 30 years of massive influence over culture. They literally changed music history. But yet, where is the church? Where are the artist revivalists that will transform culture through the power and fire of God?
If listening to heavy music will cause you to stumble (keeping Romans 14 in mind here) because of your past or for any reason, please do not watch this video. I do encourage you to at least look at the influence that just ONE concert has over many souls if you are able to watch. When I look at crowds this large, all I can think about is how great of a soul winning harvest that could be for the Kingdom. I challenge you to look at it through that lens as well.
Get ready, God is sending the fires of awakening to the places you think could never be changed. Our God is the God of resurrection power and life. No one is too far gone that God cannot save! That includes souls in Hollywood!
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