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How Long?

Hear the voice of the prophets echoing from their exile!

How long shall you waiver between two opinions?

Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?

Shall you continue to forsake your commission in some vain pursuit of happiness?

Shall you continue to sleep, but find no rest?

Shall you continue to cling to your comfort, while turning away the Comforter?

Whose banner is flying over you?

Whose words are on your lips?

Who will douse your burning barns?

From where shall your help come from?

How long shall you waiver between two opinions?

How long?

 

When I was in school, and I saw someone doing better than me, I assumed that they were smarter, more gifted, or that the teacher just liked them better.  But looking back, I can see that more often than not they were simply more focused, engaged and committed to the process.  Now that I am old, I’ve noticed that same dynamic in marriages, careers, families, faith, communities…

In recent weeks, as I sat amongst brothers and sisters who minister in places that are openly hostile to the gospel message (e.g. Indonesia, Afghanistan, Somalia…), I listened intently to amazing testimonies of God’s faithfulness and power. And while it was wonderful to hear of the manifestation of the Lord’s glory, it was hard not to be struck by the dramatic contrast with what we see happening in western cultures. In the midst of praying about all this, I felt as though the Lord said that the church in America is a lot like the rich young ruler, described in the gospels (Matthew 19, Mark 10, Luke 18). Like him, she is endowed with material goods (e.g. buildings, sound systems, video equipment, church vans…) and some vague sense of authority, but she is poor in spirit; unwilling to trade the illusion of earthly prosperity for the abundant life of the Kingdom. Just as it was then, He is calling us to let go of our temporal trappings, and to genuinely follow Him.

What often hinders us from receiving revelation are the things we’re convinced that we already know (Acts 10:9-16).  There are things that we’ve held sacred which are not sacred to Him; and things we’ve considered unclean which He calls redeemed.

It doesn’t matter how beautiful or ornate the structure, if it is built on a faulty foundation, it is compromised.

The change that needs to happen is not just to the setting, format or process, it must be a change of heart. The altars that need to be torn down & the idols that need to be smashed are not theirs, they are ours. We shouldn’t think that we are planning a graduation, we should be preparing for a funeral. (Jn 12:24)

When we speak of freedom we are most often referring to the exercise of our free will.  Essentially, it is the ability to make our own choices, to speak our mind, and to act in whatever way seems right to us.  In American culture it is a term synonymous with independence, self-sufficiency and self-rule.  But these attributes do not describe the freedom that Christ died to give us (Gal. 5:1).  Instead, He offers a love that never fails, a joy that can be our strength, a peace that surpasses understanding, and a hope that cannot be shaken.  One is largely rooted in our external condition, while the other is established in our internal state of being.  And while we can rightfully boast of living in a nation that affords us a high level of personal autonomy, we are a people plagued by hurt, fear, offense, anxiety, and addiction.  Indeed, “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them” (2Pet. 2:19) and in this regard, we have largely been taken captive through hollow and deceptive philosophies, which depend on human tradition, and the elemental spiritual forces of this world, rather than on Christ (Col. 2:8)..  Sadly, it is our passion for the former that often keeps us from partaking of the latter.

  • Babe – Styx: The release of the 1979 album “Cornerstone” came on the heels of the multiplatinum success of 1977’s, “The Grand Illusion” and 1978’s, “Pieces of Eight”. By that time, Styx had firmly established themselves as AOR and Arena Rock favorites. But things took a dramatic turn when its first single rocketed up the charts. Longtime fans were stunned by this frothy pop confection, and disappointed in the light weight sound of the album as a whole. Though it ushered in an era of Top 40 chart success for the group, their reputation as a rock band was forever diminished.
  • Ebony and Ivory – Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder: Given their stellar musical achievements, it was hard not to be excited by the idea of these two powerhouse performers coming together. Yet, despite the best of intentions, and the undeniably positive lyrical message, it was hard not to be disappointed with the results. Undoubtedly a career lowlight for both of them.
  • Abracadabra – Steve Miller Band: Steve Miller entered the 1980’s on a roll. After earning a solid reputation as a blues guitarist in the late1960’s, he found chart success throughout the 1970’s (e.g. The Joker, Fly Like an Eagle, Book of Dreams) with his own brand of good time rock and roll. But his first release of the new decade, 1982’s “Abracadabra” had a markedly different sound; and while the MTV generation seemed drawn to the new look, it was a turn that many from his old fan-base couldn’t make.
  • Muskrat Love – America: Expectations for America’s third album (1973”s “Hat Trick”) were high, as the band looked to build on a resume that already included two hit albums, three top ten singles, and a Grammy award. But when this quaint ode to rodent romance failed to resonate with fans, the album quickly faded as well. Though the band rebounded the following year with another hit album (“Holiday”) and two more top ten singles (“Tin Man” & “Lonely People”), this song stands out as one of the few missteps in the groups early career. Ironically, just a few years later, the Captain and Tennille took their version of this tune all the way to the Top Ten.
  • We Built City – Starship: With the departure of two key members of the original group (guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bass player Jack Casady), band co-founder, Paul Kantner reimagined Jefferson Airplane, birthing Jefferson Starship in its place. Along with the changes in personnel came a reworked California rock sound, which largely abandoned the group’s Psychedelic roots. After years of success, the band weathered another significant change with the departure of lead singer, Marty Balin and the addition of singer, Mickey Thomas. Once again, the sound changed, this time to a more modern, straight forward rock style (e.g. “Jane”, “Find Your Way Back”…). By the early 1980’s Kantner had grown weary from battles over the band’s artistic direction, and quit the group. Legal proceedings necessitated that the band’s name once again be changed, eschewing any reference to “Jefferson”. “Starship” essentially looked like the same band, but the new music was pure pop. Though this record was a huge hit, it signaled the end of whatever credibility the group had in the rock community.
  • Keep On Loving You – REO Speedwagon: Throughout the 1970’s REO toured the country, building a passionate fan base with their energetic live shows. The enthusiastic audience response to the band’s music can clearly be heard on 1977’s live album, “You Get What You Play For”. As the decade ended, AOR staples like “157 Riverside Avenue”, “Riding the Storm Out”, “Roll With the Changes” and “Time For Me to Fly” had earned them a reputation as a hard rocking outfit from the Midwest. But the phenomenal success of 1980’s “Hi-Infidelity” changed all of that. Though it contained a few rock songs, they were overshadowed by the remarkable popularity of the pop ballads, most especially this #1 smash hit. And while their live shows retained some of their foundational qualities, the band’s legacy has become tied to Prom/Wedding themes like “Keep On Loving You” and “Can’t Fight This Feeling”.
  • Just Between You and Me – April Wine: Like previously mentioned bands Styx, and REO Speedwagon, April Wine spent years cultivating a following, first in Canada and then in the US. Relentless touring eventually earned them opening slots with acts like the Rolling Stones, Styx and RUSH. And when rock radio took notice of the 1978 track, “Roller”, they finally broke through in the US market. 1979’s album, “Harder…Faster”, breakout track, “I Like to Rock” and a high profile tour with Nazareth, all pushed them further into the rock stratosphere. Their 1981 follow-up, “The Nature of the Beast” was also a platinum seller, but the immense popularity of the single, “Just Between You and Me” seemed to put the band in a different light, and the building momentum seemed to quickly dissolve. Though they continued to record and tour, their name soon faded from rock radio’s vocabulary.
  • The Girl Is Mine – Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson: This playful ditty (and its accompanying video) certainly didn’t harm anyone, but it was well below the standards set by both of these mega talents.
  • Touch of Grey – The Grateful Dead: Though their place in rock history is secure, the top ten single, “Touch of Grey” is a chapter that many “Dead-Heads” would like to forget. For those not familiar with the band or its music, it had to make them wonder what all the fuss was about.

 

The truth is a double edged sword. You can’t wield it’s blade toward someone else without turning one on yourself.

When you react to the provocation of your enemy, you elevate them to a position of leadership & take on the role of a follower.