How Can We Worship God through Secular Music?

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Have you ever found yourself singing along to a song on the radio while you’re in your car, and suddenly, you realize that what you’re singing could very well be used to worship God, even though it may not be a “Christian” song? This may not happen all that often, but there have certainly been times in my life when God has spoken to me through secular music. So what exactly can we, as Christians, do with this when it comes to worship? Is there a way we can truly worship God while listening to or singing along with secular music? I believe there is. Here are three M’s to help give you something to think about and remember:

  1. Mindfulness

I think first of all, we need to remember that most popular music is written through the lens of what society values, which often does not run parallel with the Bible. With this in mind, we can get a better understanding of where the song is coming from and if the lyrics behind it are actually revealing any of God’s truths or not.

  1. Meaning

Similar to mindfulness, it is important that we look at the overall meaning behind the song. We should also think about what it means for us in our own walk with Christ. Is this song encouraging us in our faith? Is it revealing genuine emotions and struggles? Many songs are relatable because they deal with difficult circumstances and feelings, but does the song also offer any kind of hope?

  1. Motivation

Overall, what is our motivation for worship, anyway? This is something that we should take a step back and think about. Is it centered around us or are we focused on God? Often times, we think of worship as a feeling and something we need to be in the mood for, when really, it is an action in response to God’s goodness and mercy.

Hopefully, this will inspire you to go out and find some secular music that reveals God’s truths. Let us know what you find!

-Emily H.

3 Truths That the Media Tells Us

 

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Yes, I said “truths.” We are constantly being told all of the lies that media is presenting to us, such as what love is and what makes a person feel happy and fulfilled. It is true, the media definitely spits a lot of falsehoods at us, but if we look at the media in a more positive light, are there any truths that it presents to us? Is there anything we can learn from the entertainment industry that is beneficial in our knowledge of ourselves and the world around us? I think that there are. Here are three of them:

  1. Attention is a drug.

We can clearly see how this affects celebrities. For example, what does a musician or actor do when they begin declining in popularity? Many times, they resort to using the value of shock in order to get attention. This goes to show how addictive the desire for attention can be and how it has the potential to drive us to do crazy things.

  1. Trends are temporary.

This is obvious when looking at clothing and hairstyles, but we can even see this when looking at ideal body types over the years. I think this is an important truth that we can take away because it shows us how frivolous chasing after the ever-changing trends is. There is nothing wrong with getting a cool haircut, but we will never be satisfied if we are placing our identity in short-lived trends.

  1. Fame is exhausting.

Sure, it may look glamorous, but when hearing about the hours that actors spend working on films or the long tours that bands take, it really is hard work. Think about it: if you’re a celebrity, you can’t even run a simple errand without the paparazzi hunting you down. As an introvert, I think I would go crazy.

Even though these are just a few, I think there are a lot of lessons and truths we can take away from the media and entertainment industry. What are some others that you have noticed?

3 Rap Songs Christians Should Listen To

I listen to rap when I work out, and I’ve noticed that some of the songs have good lyrics.

Rappers are story-tellers. Yes, they swear and their messages aren’t always Christian. But if we are aware of what to watch out for in secular rap and listen to the radio edits, we can learn a lot.

Here are three rap songs that can help you find beauty and truth in secular rap.

  1. “Not Afraid” by EminemEminem

“I’m not afraid…To take a stand. I guess I had to go to that place to get to this one. Now some of you might still be in that place.”

Eminem’s songs delve into the darkness of his experiences. But his story of struggling is universal. We all have darkness in our pasts and we need to learn how to reconcile these experiences with the futures we want to live.

If we follow Jesus, He is able to carry us out of whatever we are facing.

  1. “Starting Over” by Macklemore

rjuepjfvo3rjjc1pbw3p“I’m just a flawed man… If I can be an example of getting sober, then I can be an example of starting over.”

Falling back into past sin is hard. It is the reminder that we are going to have to fight sin our entire lives.

Macklemore tells the story of his drug relapse, and his raw emotions cut to the core for anyone who has failed to live up to their image.

As Christians, we will feel like are starting over almost every day, but God’s grace does not run out.

  1. “Strong Enough” by B.O.B. featuring Taylor Swiftdownload (4)

“I wish I was strong enough to lift not one but both of us. Someday I will be strong enough to lift not one but both of us.”

This song is a reminder of our perfect weakness. Life is too much for us, and we aren’t strong enough to carry ourselves through it, much less someone else.

But in Christ we embrace weakness. We accept the difficulty of life and learn to lean into God, who is strong enough for all of us.

Flash Back Friday: Beauty in Michael Jackson’s Music

From the Jackson 5 to the Jacksons to emerging as a solo artist, Michael Jackson is a legend. His album “Thriller” is one of the best-selling albums of all time, not to mention his signature dance moves that have become iconic. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I Michael Jacksonwasn’t very familiar with him or his music until after his death in 2009. But last year, my roommate and I went through a bit of a Michael Jackson obsession. We blasted his songs almost every morning as we got ready for class, watched videos of his performances, and learned his songs on guitar.

What is it that makes his music so timeless? The catchy bass lines? His unique voice? Or is there more to it than that?

Something that I think makes Michael Jackson’s music beautiful is the emotion that he is able to channel through it. For example, his song “She’s Out of My Life” captures the mixed feelings of a break up. In “They Don’t Care About Us,” he boldly displays his anger toward the media. And then there’s “Man in the Mirror,” which talks about first making a change with yourself in order to make a change in the world.

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Michael Jackson first performed the moonwalk on March 25, 1983 during his song, “Billie Jean.”

I think this is a big reason that Michael’s music has stood the test of time. Sure, the catchy melodies are part of it, but not many other artists that I’ve listened to have been able to so accurately portray such a wide rage of emotions. I would say that his music could be a soundtrack to life. In other words, you can listen to it when you’re sad, angry, happy, going for a jog, or need motivation to do homework (although, you may end up getting completely distracted as you sing and dance along, which usually happens to me).

So what’s your favorite Michael Jackson song? Have any of his lyrics resonated with you in some way or another?

-Emily H.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Jennifer Lawrence Teaches us about the Strength of True Joy

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Joy: A source or cause of great happiness; success in doing, finding, or getting something.[1]

I found the title of David O. Russell’s new film Joy to be an ironic yet accurate representation of the story of a determined young woman. Inspired by a true story, this film is certainly not the most joyous, nor is the character whose name the title takes after. In the film, Joy, an inventor, is a single mom who is foundation to an incredibly dysfunctional family. She spends her time raising two kids, playing mediator between her divorced parents, and maintaining am odd, but close friendship with her ex-husband. She works hard but seems to get little in return.

It seems unexpected that in the midst of her chaotic and less than joyous life, Joy invents a self-ringing mop that ends up putting her into more debt and bringing her more stress. Yet, in amongst it all we see Joy’s determination and constant persistence to follow her heart and do what is right.

Joy may not be a story of deep happiness. But it is a story about real life. It is about facing surmounting odds and continuing to press on. We do not live in a perfect word. Inevitably all of us will face challenges like Joy’s sometime in our life. While hopefully none of us will have to endure living under the same roof as both our divorced parents and our own ex-husband, there will be times of financial difficulty, relational tensions, fraudulent bosses, and injustice. Sin has corrupted the perfect world God created.

The beauty in Joy is that in the midst of life’s struggles we keep pressing on. We have the Lord’s strength to fill us everyday so that we may not sit passively, but that we would take risks, follow where the Lord leads our heart, and fight for what is right.

[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/joy

– Megan W

How Far is Too Far When Engaging with Pop Culture?

A popular phrase that we as Christians often hear is that we are to be “in the world but not of it.” It is even included on our “about” page. It is one of our goals as young adults who are surrounded by secular culture. But what we don’t often discuss is what this looks like when lived out. Is there a certain point at which Christians need to take a few steps back in their engagement with pop culture and the media?

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I’m going to be honest in saying that this is a question I’ve wrestled with a lot. But I’ve come up with three more questions that I think are beneficial for us to be thinking about when it comes to our involvement with pop culture.

  1. Where am I placing my identity?

Am I listening to certain bands and watching certain movies just to look “cool” and gain the approval of others? It is important to be honest with yourself about your motivations.

  1. Is this band, movie, etc. becoming an idol?

Especially think about this in terms of your thought life. It’s okay to be a fan of something, but is it turning into an obsession? Are you constantly thinking about it when you should be spending more of your thought life on Christ?

  1. Am I compromising my values?

It is important to stop and see how this is affecting our behavior. For example, if you’ve been watching a show where the Lord’s name is taken in vain quite frequently, have you noticed that maybe you’ve started using it in that way, too? It eventually starts to seem okay.

This post may not be as light-hearted as some of the others, but I believe that we need to think about questions such as these in order to appreciate pop culture’s beauty in a healthier and more God-honoring way, so that we might have an influence on it, instead of the other way around.

– Emily H.

 

Slowing Down

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You’ve probably noticed something about our culture: we hate taking our time. It’s something that’s looked down upon. We receive impatient sighs from costumers behind us when we try to pay with exact change, we heat up pre-made microwave meals for dinner, and you might as well forget about driving the speed limit.

Because I am a writer and an English major, I am constantly being told that I need to be observant. I need to find beauty in the world where others don’t see it. Most importantly, I need to share my findings with others in what I write. To be honest, this can be pretty difficult sometimes when we are living in a world with pain, suffering, and evil almost everywhere we turn, not to mention a society in which the word “instant” means everything.

Something that I personally have learned from engaging with pop culture is that we, especially in the Christian community, can be very quick to jump to conclusions and assume the worst about secular music, books, movies, etc. We tend to label a lot of it as “bad” without taking time to find and appreciate the beauty that it holds. But if we are being so careful to stay out of pop culture, then why are we still letting ourselves be influenced by the crazy rush of society? Why don’t we slow down and take time to find and appreciate beauty wherever it can be found? This is an area I hope to continue to grow in as I am on my journey of becoming a writer. I also want to challenge you to slow down from the busyness of day-to-day life and find beauty in things that may not initially catch your eye.

– Emily H.