MICHAEL GUNGOR On The Problem With The Christian Music Industry

One of the most sincere blogs about the christian music industry I have ever read.

AWAKEN GENERATION

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SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT !!!!

READ MICHAEL GUNGOR’S FOLLOW UP BLOG TO HIS POST ‘THE PROBLEM WITH THE CHRISTIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY !!!

 

Date: Monday, December 9, 2013

Hey Everyone,

As promised earlier, after the incredible buzz around his blog post below in the past week (there have been more than 360,000 views of this blog post in the past 7 days) Michael Gungor expressed to me a desire to write a follow-up blog post to this original post he wrote almost 2 years ago.

I am excited to announce that Michael emailed me his follow-up blog post that he just finished two days ago, and you can read it immediately, by clicking on the link below.

Michael Gungor: A Follow-Up To My Blog Post On The Problem With The Christian Music Industry

Regards,

Hervict

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When you are in a touring band, there is a lot of time that is spent…

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The Importance of Eschatology

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Eschatology is the study of end times.  Within Christian circles, it happens to be one of the most profitable areas of discussion.  Movies, sermons, conferences, prophecy updates…there is no lack at the Christian bookstore in this area.

Discussions on eschatology have a tendency to cause confusion, and often division, so many (including most of my friends) choose to stay away from bible study on the topic.  In an attempt to focus on the proper life of a Christian, or the attributes of God, the decision is based on an idea that eschatology is simply a distraction. I disagree.

I first began studying eschatology when I began researching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  I discovered that many pro Israel supporters do so because of their eschatology.  The abridged version is simply that in order to have an anti-christ sit in the temple, there needs to be a temple.  In order to have a temple, the state of Israel needs full control of Jerusalem so it can be rebuilt.  To have full control of Israel, they need to defeat the enemy, namely the Palestinian population.  I learned quickly that the Palestinian people were demonized by Christian Zionists (supporters of Israel taking back possession of the land).  All Arabs, including Palestinian Christians, were considered to be an obstruction to the plan of God, and therefore any suffering was their own fault.  Many consider them all to be terrorists, evil, and deserving of suffering.

All of this is based on their eschatology.  A futuristic, dispensationalist view has impacted the way they think and act as Christians.  Now, you may not fall into this particular situation, but I would submit that everyone has an end time view, and their actions are directly influenced by that view.  Depending on what church or denomination you grew up in, you may have only been exposed to one view, or may not realize that a couple different points of view are actually lumped into one primary view.  Here are the 4 primary views:

  • Preterist – The view that most end time scriptures have already been fulfilled, specifically Matthew 24, Daniel 2, and most of Revelation.
  • Idealist (Spiritual) – The concepts in end times prophecy are simply figurative language, not meant to be interpreted literally as actual events, but rather are spiritual truths happening within the church.
  • Historical – The belief that the end times prophecies have been fulfilled throughout the course of history in people, kingdoms, countries and events.
  • Futurist – All of end times prophecy is pushed off into the future.

If you are a futurist, you believe the world is going to get worse, there will be a future time of tribulation, there will be an anti-christ that will occupy a newly built temple in Jerusalem, and that at some point the Christians will be ‘raptured’ from the earth (some are pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib). Their actions focus on getting people saved so they can go to heaven and not miss the rapture, because you don’t want to suffer the deterioration of society.  Every political figure, new technology or natural event is not trusted, and sometimes celebrated as being one step closer to the rapture.  This has been the primary belief of most evangelicals, charismatics, and pentecostal faiths.  What most people who adhere to this viewpoint don’t realize is that the futurist view was first introduced on a wide scale back in the late 1800’s, and wasn’t fully popularized until the Scofield reference bible was published, and again in the 60’s with the Dakes annotated bible.  While this current generation of believers may have only heard this view taught from their church pulpits and bible studies, it is actually new, and not the original view of the church as a whole.

From the beginning, the church and it’s scholars held to the Preterist view.  Matthew 24, Daniel 2, and Revelation all pointed to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.  There is no future anti-christ, there is no rapture, there is no future tribulation, no millenium.  The Kingdom of God is growing and will never stop until it covers the entire earth.  Jesus will come back again, but not to rescue us (He already did that), but to come to rule forever. Believers of this view have an optimistic view of the future.  They walk in the authority given them in the name of Jesus to heal the sick, cast out demons, even raise the dead.  Everything they do is to reveal the Kingdom and to be good stewards for Christ’s sake.

I personally am a preterist.  I thank God for Jesus victory on the cross, defeating the enemy, putting an end to death caused by sin, putting an end to sickness, and redeeming all of mankind so we can have a relationship with God.  I celebrate the victory of Christ daily, and look forward to an ever expanding Kingdom.

Unity In The Faith: A Great Message of Reconciliation from Pope Francis

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Last week, Pope Francis reached across the table to extend a hand of fellowship to charismatics.  His desire was simple, unity.  It was a heartfelt request.  Please watch if you haven’t already before you read on.

Here are a few points of observation as I listen to this:

Common Language – Pope Francis begins speaking in English, but as he changes back to Italian he points out that the true language we must speak is the heart language of love.

Common Command – Despite the differences of denominations with codes of conduct, codes of service, rituals, forms of worship, etc. Pope Francis reminds us that Jesus Christ required only 2 things; love God and love your neighbor.

Common Condition – None of us are innocent in the division we are experiencing.  Sin has caused division.  It is not God’s desire that we be separate, but that we walk in unity.  He is not blaming any one person, but rather saying we are all responsible.

Common Solution – Only in Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ can we achieve unity.

I find this to be a wonderful message of hope and peace that does nothing to circumvent the truth of the Gospel message of grace, peace, redemption and reconciliation.  Rather, it is pursuing a great call to embrace another message given by another great champion of the Gospel; the apostle Paul:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” Ephesians 1:3-10

What saddens me the most is the reaction I have been reading from other Christian blogs.  Rather than celebrate the call for unity, which is the desire of the Father, I see a desire to remain separate.   My prayer is that we would join in Pope Francis’ prayer; that we will pray for one another to continue to walk in the command of love, the language of love, and to pursue the unity of the faith.

 

Out Of Context: The Failures Of A Mixed Message

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A friend recently posted on his social page the following:

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, … (James 1:2)

James doesn’t pull any punches.

Doesn’t start his letter with any flowery promises that this will be your best life now. He doesn’t lead us to believe that being a Christian entitles you to the best things in life.

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)”

I know this individual personally.  He is a pastor, sincerely loves the Lord, is loving to his family and friends, and walks in humility and gentleness.  We disagree on our interpretations of scripture, but maintain enough of a cordial relationship to ‘agree to disagree’.

What I find fault in this post is the result of taking individual scriptures for the benefit of teaching your own mini-lesson or devotion while denying the original intent of the writer. Not only that, but it goes against the very heart of the canon as a whole.  This is the danger of selectively pulling scriptures, sometimes multiple verses from various books of the bible, and lumping them out of context to attempt to illustrate a point that was never meant to be made.  It sounds good, it sounds right, but it’s not.

So let’s begin with context.  Who was James’ (or whomever really penned this book.  Not only do scholars disagree who wrote it, but this book almost didn’t make it into the final canon of scripture) audience?  It was not the Gentiles, but rather the Jewish converts that were dispersed throughout the land (James 1:1).  What were the the ‘trials’ they were enduring?  They were enduring the most extreme forms of persecution from both Jewish leaders and Roman officials that included being evicted from their homes, imprisonment, physical torture, lack of food and water, and death.  Many of these Jewish converts were scattered because of the persecution, forced to leave their homes because of it.

So let’s keep things in perspective.  Posting this scripture and attempting to say that we here in the United States could possibly be experiencing the same ‘trials’ is an insulting slap in the face to the ‘twelve tribes’ of the first century.  Yes, there are plenty of people here in our own backyards that may not have enough to eat, not have the best homes.  Yes, it may be nearly impossible to pay that gas bill because it’s been a cold winter and gas prices are up.  Yes, the car may be grounded because it needs repairs.  Yes, a family member may have died recently making things difficult.  But I will stress again that these are NOT the trials that James is addressing.  These trials mentioned above are not the result of living out the gospel of Jesus Christ. They didn’t happen because you choose to live a life for Christ.

I agree that becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that we won’t face our own unique challenges, setbacks and disappointments. The difference is how we overcome and with what resources.  The post above says that being a Christian doesn’t entitle you to the best things in life.  The problem with that statement is that it implies we are to simply accept a less than desirable life here on earth. I disagree. Let’s look at some other verses:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”a

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

God’s gifts are overflowing! They are indescribable!  We have EVERY spiritual gift in heaven!

The first verse refers to spiritual gifts, and the second for tangible resources.  These are 2 verses (and many more throughout the Bible) that indicate that it is the pleasure of God to richly bless His children.  We don’t receive because we don’t ask.  When people are sick, we have the spiritual gift of healing, the authority in Jesus name, to release health and wellness.  When we lack, He is Jehovah Jireh, the great provider.

To state that we are not ‘entitled’ to have the best things in life implies we are to expect the worst. That is not the Gospel message. We are not helpless victims, but are overcomers, because of the Gospel of Grace and Power.

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

I fully and expect that my loving Father in heaven, Papa, desires to bless His children with the fullest and abundant life we can imagine, with riches, so we can be counted faithful to grow an inheritance for our children and to bless all those in our sphere of influence.  We are not orphans destined to live a life of poverty and hardship.  We are sons and daughters, heirs, priests and kings of the most Holy One.

The Twisted Tulip

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Part of my Bible School this semester has been reviewing the different theological views in Christianity.  I am surprised to find out that I am unaware of anyone in my circle of friends that are Calvinists, but many of my friends have Calvinist friends of their own.  With that being said, I now see how aspects of Calvinism have influenced the thoughts of today, and not in a good way.

I have just learned of the TULIP acronym.  It is used to identify 5 primary points of Calvinism.

T – Total Depravity-The concept that mankind is fully evil, and that nothing good is in man, nor is it something developed over time.  The teaching of original sin is a foundation to this idea.  Given that there is nothing good in man apart from God, man cannot choose to serve God without His help.

U – Unconditional Election-Man cannot choose salvation.  He is elected by God under His ultimate sovereignty, and not because of any future works a man will do (obviously, because man can do no good without God).

L – Limited Atonement-Since only the elect can be saved, the atoning work of Jesus on the cross is limited only for the elect, and for no one else.

I – Irresistible Grace-Not only can man not choose God, those that are elected cannot refuse God.  You are either chosen or not, there is no aspect of free will when it comes to who is elected and who is not.

P – Perseverance of the Saints-You cannot lose your salvation.  If God has elected you, there is nothing you can do that will cause you to be removed from the elect.

Some Calvinists state they don’t necessarily subscribe to all 5 points; this is difficult to accept, because the 5 points follow a systematic progression to keep the entire belief in place.

How this pattern of belief was ever accepted and embraced is a mystery to me.  Again, I have no friends that I know of that are Calvinists, so I have no frame of reference other than what I have just learned.

I am thankful for verses such as these:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8

Grace – The Great Encourager

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At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:9-11 NIV

It is unfortunate that grace has somehow received a bad reputation.  I honestly don’t understand how such a thing could have ever happened.  The greatest misnomer about opponents of teaching grace as a central aspect of the gospel message (hyper-grace as they call it) is that it gives a license to sin.  I submit that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In looking at the way Jesus interacted with the woman caught in the very act of adultery we see one of the greatest examples of grace.  It is also one of the very scripture references used by the opposition. “See, Jesus commands her to stop sinning!”.  I see it in a different light.  Let’s see what Jesus did not do:

  • Jesus did not point out a list of things in her life that were sinful, quoting from the law (bible to us) to instruct her.
  • Jesus did not condemn her.
  • Jesus did not tell her she wouldn’t go to heaven, or wasn’t an authentic Jew (Christian) unless she changed her behavior.

What Jesus did was not so much of a command but a license; a license to walk free of sin because she was declared ‘not guilty’.  She was not condemned.  She wasn’t simply given a second chance; she was enabled by the grace of Jesus to live a life free of sin.  No longer being called an adulterer, she was given the authority to live in the reality of NOT being one.

A final note:  We don’t see the rest of her story.  We don’t know anything about her actions after given the grace to move on with her life.  We don’t need to, because the point of the story is this: she was found ‘not guilty’ and enabled to live without sin.

“My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24

Inheritance is Opportunity

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This past Sunday I had the privilege to witness a baby dedication at church, prefaced by a wonderful message on blessings and inheritance.   An area that was highlighted in my mind was that inheritance is not exclusively about money.  It is true, passing on wealth to our children’s children is a core value that is not embraced by most; and while that is an area that needs to be revived and encouraged, I am also speaking of opportunity.

Currently, the economic condition in the United States where I reside is not in the best of condition.  Employment figures continue to wax and wain depending on which political slant you hear discussing it.  Not only is the cost of education going up, creating more post-graduation debt than ever before, but the chances of landing a career (or even getting a job) that will allow you to live AND pay off your loans seems dim.  I don’t think our children should have to wait for us to accumulate wealth, and then die, for them to receive the benefit of their inheritance.  Instead, we need to rethink what is acceptable as we create opportunity for our children.

  1. Living at home as young adults – Too often Genesis 2:24 is quoted as justification for kicking your kids out the home once they finish high school or college. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” NASB In attempt to teach a lesson of self determination and/or a reliance that somehow God will provide what our children need, parents could be setting these young adults up for failure.  Worse yet, children that live at home are immediately considered to be lazy, lacking proper motivation.  Let us realize that in the story of the prodigal son, the father gave the son his inheritance when he was a young man.  The father provided opportunity for the child.  Also, the other son was living at home!  We have forgotten one of the aspects of building and sustaining wealth is designed to bless our children’s children by providing opportunity.  Children that stay at home, even after education is completed, gives them an opportunity to save, begin investing, and think about long-term success (even if they get married).
  2. Delaying College – Success at life comes from experience as well as education.  Our children graduate at around 18 years of age. College recruiters target our children, offering scholarships and showcasing the amazing college experience.  I believe that the first couple years after high school are wonderful opportunities to explore life outside their current frame of reference before they start being shackled down with the burdens of financial and family responsibility.  There are numerous internships, mission trips, or just travel opportunities waiting for them.  New people become resources; their connections and resources become accessible.
  3. Invest in entrepreneurship – More often than not, the larger companies that have provided employment opportunities have continued to scale back and reduce their workforce.  The world of the internet marketplace is allowing people to activate the economy of buying and selling with the click of a button from their laptop or iPad in their kitchen.  Whether it is an internet/tech based business, creative artisan, or any other local business, we should be encouraging our children to be producers, creating residual income from multiple sources.  “You can work at fulfilling your dream, or you can receive a paycheck to fulfill someone else’s dream.” Philip Clemons, Pastor of The Ark, Florence, AL. Part of that encouragement and opportunity comes from investing in their endeavors.

By no means is that an exclusive list or an end all solution.  The concept is simple, our vision is long term.  It is for our children’s children that we build an inheritance.  The parable of the talents gives us wise instruction, and contrary to the common figurative devotions we have heard about it being about ‘abilities’, it is about money.  God values those of us that are good stewards, that work to build wealth, and not just for ourselves, but to provide opportunity for our children.

Proverbs 13:22 says “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children” NIV

What Deeds?

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“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” James 2:14

What are the deeds? From where do they come? Is he referring to the law? I say yes, he is referring to the HEART of the law, the WORD of the law, which is Jesus himself. But to limit ourselves to the written Law given to the Hebrews is a glass half empty. In Matthew 28:19,20 Jesus commands the disciples to “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” What did He command them to do? “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” Matthew 10:8. Jesus also commanded them to only go the Jews, not the Gentiles. Why? Because the religious leaders were so focused on the written law of morality they had lost sight of hearing the heart of God written in the Law.

Are we to be selfish? By no means, therefore our works cannot be focused on somehow improving ourselves. Faith produces and empowers us to be like Him, but not just limited to areas of morality. Are we to feed the sick, clothe the naked, and take care of orphans and widows in the natural? Absolutely! But we must realize that James is giving a natural example to an observed problem. Don’t be unstable in your faith regarding these things. “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” James 1:6-8 We don’t just say “Be well, be warm, Jesus loves you!” We provide the coat to be warm, and we provide the healing to be well! Do you see? Our faith without the FULLNESS of works, the commandment given to the apostles, is dead. Living faith produces good works, not the other way around. We have been empowered to do greater things! John 14:12

The Power of Life and Death

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“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. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-4

The law of sin and death (the old covenant) is powerless to save. It actually brings death. In Christ, sin is dead. The law of the Spirit brings life. Repentance is not ‘of’ works; it is ‘from’ works. It is a renewing of your mind. Deeds and actions, whether good or bad, have no bearing on God’s love, acceptance and opinion of us. Without condemnation we can boldly approach the throne, we can draw near to God. The closer we get, the more overwhelmed we are of His love, grace and mercy that we are compelled to only do what the Father wishes. Our focus is not to the law, reviewing the law and our performance to make sure we are ‘in line’. Our focus is the Spirit. He guides us into all truth and leads us to the Father. The Father gave the Son, the Son gave the Holy Spirit, and set us free from the law. Amen!