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.

Reading to Beat the Winter Blues

black-and-white-woman-girl-sitting-largeGuess what? It’s almost the end of February. I think that no matter where you live, this can be such a difficult time of year. Whether it’s feeling caught in your mundane routine, dealing with large amounts of homework, dreary weather, or all three, feeling down and depressed can sometimes be nearly inevitable. So where are some places you can turn when you need to take a break and refuel? Most of the time, Netflix and social media can become our escape. Both are fine in moderation, but do those things really help refuel us?

One thing that I have found helps me get through the winter blues is doing more reading, even if it is something light and easy. Unlike Facebook or watching TV, it engages your mind and imagination. It requires focus and attention. A recent article from Metro discusses some books that may be worth reading during this time of year, especially ones with themes of hope and inspiration in showing how others overcome their obstacles. Stepping into the mind of another character can even give us a new perspective on issues we are dealing with in our own lives. It can be so tempting to spend all of our free time binge watching TV shows, especially those of us who do a lot of reading for school, but what if we read for fun more often? Would it help us to get in the minds of others so we can better understand them? Would our reading comprehension improve? Would we feel more productive than if we had spent our time browsing Pinterest or Instagram? Why not give it a try?

 

 

 

 

 

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?

Social Media Talk: Worshiping God or “Trendy” Christianity?

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I stopped myself before posting a picture on Instagram that I had captioned with a Bible verse. Something about this didn’t feel right. Why? It was in that moment when I realized what the problem was—I was doing this out of my own selfish desires rather than out of genuine worship. The only reason I included a Bible verse at all was to get more attention, more likes, and to make people think, “Wow, she seems like a really cool Christian.”

I feel like this has become a problem in our society, especially with social media. It can be so tempting to put on a persona in the online world in order to filter out the things we don’t want others to see. We want to look cool, trendy, and make a good impression. As Christians, it can sometimes be easy to take a picture of our open Bible next to a cup of coffee, use a vintage-looking filter, caption it with a verse, and post it in hopes that we get attention for looking like a “hipster Christian.”

I am not saying that it is wrong to share Bible verses on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. If you look at our blog’s Twitter, you will see that we share verses every so often. But I think overall, it is important that we stop and think about our motivations before sharing anything on social media (for example, #afterchurchselfie is a hashtag used over 10,000 times on Instagram). Are we simply using God as a way to draw attention to ourselves? Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:5 that we should not be like the hypocrites who pray on street corners in order to be seen by others. Let us examine our hearts before uploading a selfie with a Scripture reference.

What The Middle Teaches Us About The Mundane

  The Hecks aren’t superheroes. They aren’t spies or wealthy 20th-century aristocrats. They’re just a regular suburban family facing the warts and worries of everyday life.

Most of their problems are normal. Help Sue make friends. Keep the laundry mountain under control. Balance that checkbook. Make sure Brick goes outside.

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Life is chaotic. Sometimes it’s stressful just getting out the door with everything you need for the day. Add a job, cooking, homework, family, friends, and everything else and life is overwhelming. It’s hard to appreciate little victories like matching socks.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed. One of the best ways to deal with it is slowing down. Make the mundane moments count.

At the end of each episode, Frankie and her family have duct taped the crisis back together. Whether it’s a second to breathe or Sue surviving her cheerleading tryouts, there’s something to be grateful for. They grow more from the everyday disasters than they do in the calm.

According to The Middle, the most joy comes in the middle of chaos. Appreciate the forced pauses of the grocery line. Thank the Starbucks barista. Match your socks (or don’t.) Text your parents.

Life is crazy. Take a cue from the Hecks and make the most of ordinary moments.

-Josie K.

The Evolution of Rock: Why Christians Should Appreciate this Genre

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This past Wednesday, February 3rd, was the 57th anniversary of what is called “The Day the Music Died” also known as the day that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash. In case you’re not into ‘50s music, they were all central figures of the emerging, and now very broad, genre known as rock.

Originating from the combination of genres such as jazz, gospel, and country, rock was very experimental. It soon became a genre about breaking rules and shocking the audience, making a powerful impact on culture. It’s no wonder that many parents of teenagers did not approve of them listening to this style of music, worried that it would have a negative influence on their behavior, encouraging them to rebel.

Rock has branched into many directions over the years, such as “classic” rock, punk rock, heavy metal, grunge, and indie rock. One thing that has remained, however, is the overall assumptions and stereotypes made about this style of music and the people who listen to it. Because rock has had many negative connotations with it over the years, it is sometimes hard to think of it apart from “rebellion” or “teenage angst.”

There is a lot to appreciate about this genre, however, especially as Christians. Rock is such a powerful and passionate style. It is very real in the types of issues that it deals with and is not afraid to tackle dark subject matter. I think that rock, even secular rock, is beneficial for us as Christians because it displays a sense of boldness and vulnerability, which is often lacking on our community, but is crucial.

So what is something that you appreciate about rock? Do you find it more relatable than most other styles of music?

-Emily H.

3 Ways Hugo Is Martin Scorsese’s Most Christian Film

Martin Scorsese isn’t known for his Christian movies. The Wolf Of Wall Street, Shutter Island, The Departed. Pretty bleak stuff. But here’s three reasons Hugo is one of most profound movies he’s ever made.

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  1. Redemption

Everyone in Hugo has lost something. Parents. Siblings. Careers. Hope.

Hugo wants to fix a mechanical man he hopes has a message from his late father, anything to make him less alone. Most of the people he encounters are broken like his machine. Broken. Alone. As he looks for hope, he brings healing to a despairing old man and helps an embittered policeman find redemption.

There are no trite lines or feeble pats on the back. Hugo knows loss and loneliness are real, but so are grace and healing.

  1. Purpose

At first, there seem to be a lot of throwaway plots. Why are all these extra people here? But as the movie builds, we see that no person or plot is thrown in for no reason. Hugo tells Isabelle that machines don’t come with extra parts. Everyone has a purpose even if they don’t know what it is. Finding that purpose can be hard and painful, but the movie insists it’s worth it.

  1. Cinematography

Everything Scorsese does in this film is carefully chosen. On a technical level, Hugo is nearly flawless and visually stunning. I hope film professors somewhere are using it to teach lighting, pacing, framing, and using CGI.

Like a director, God guides everything in history to His purposes. Hugo’s machine doesn’t have extra parts; neither does God’s creation. He molds beautiful, purposeful things the way Scorsese crafts believable characters and masterful shots.

 

Content-wise, there isn’t a lot to make even the most cautious viewer flinch. I feel clean as the credits roll, and I’m reminded that life does have purpose even in the middle of struggles. Hugo is technically a children’s movie, but it’s the most profound movie Martin Scorsese has ever made.

-Josie K.