Sunday, February 28, 2016

Pedestal of Failure

Who’s your favorite band?  Yes, broad question and probably a hard one to answer.  So let’s narrow the scope of the question down.  Who’s your favorite Christian band or artist?  Maybe you even have a favorite speaker, minister, author or just someone you look up to.  All of us do.  Sure, some of who we look up to are family, but may still have that celebrity type person that we hold in high regard.  As I’ve gotten older, the selection of whom I look up to has been narrowed.  Maybe that is age, or maybe that is being more cautious in my influences.  Despite that, there are still those “celebrity” that I admire based on their ministry, their music, their whatever, I admire it.  I’m pretty sure, you do as well.

Of all those we admire, there tends to be a “shock” or “disappointment” when we find out one of these people falls from the pedestal we place them on.  Sadly, we are even more shocked when it’s a Christian that we find out about.  For those old enough, think back to when you found out Michael English had an affair while touring with another Christian band.  What about when you found out Jim Baker was lying to you about how he needed your money to continue preaching on TV. More recently, we had Newsboys co-founder, George Perdikis, and As I Lay Dying founder, Tim Lambesis, both profess atheism.  What are your thoughts?  Shocked?  Surprised?  Maybe even a little hurt?  Well, get used to it, especially after the letter put out by JustinCordle of We As Human.

One of my favorite songs is, “I Will Fail You,” by Demon Hunter.  Despite the song lacking the typical growling and yelling Demon Hunter is known for, it still has the lyrical strength and Ryan Clark’s haunting vocals.  The song is a in which the lyrics are a reminder that no matter the grace given, how many sins forgiven, that “I” will fail.  The “You” in this song could be taken to mean a couple different people.  1) Could be God, or 2) could be the person who is putting the singer up on a pedestal.  Either way, this song assures the listener that failure will occur, despite the grace, mercy and forgiveness given.

Another song that comes to mind is a song from The Swirling Eddies.  “Hide the Beer thePastor’s Here,” is a song that pokes fun of christians that feel they have to hide certain things from their pastor.  Beer is the main focus of the song, but the Eddies find a way to slide hate, christian college hypocrisy and lust into the mix of what get hid from our pastors.  Sadly, this song is perfect for many christian bands touring today.  Seriously, there are too many bands out there traveling to not have problems with lust, alcoholism, drugs, sex and most any pitfall available to professional athletes and celebrities.  Yes, our bands “perfect image” is most certainly anything but.

I can hear it now!  You’re mad at me for accusing your favorite band/artist of imperfection.  Well, they are human aren’t they?  But more than that, they have struggles just as you and I do.  Our churches have imperfect people in it.  It makes perfect sense that our favorites in the music industry reflect the church as an image of imperfection.  Sadly however, many of these individuals work hard at not showing those imperfections.  As a matter of fact, their management, record labels and those closest to them work hard at hiding those imperfections.  They don’t want to disappoint their fans.  They know they are under a microscope and any vulnerability they seem to believe will show them as a failure.  For many, failure isn’t an option.  There is too much to risk if there is failure.  Sadly, we as consumers have only fueled this belief that our favorite musicians need to be perfect.

I’m not saying every band/artist is crooked, drunk, or other.  There are great artists out there that are upright in everything they do, despite their humanity and the failures a sinful nature brings.  They are honest about their failures, their struggles and their temptations when on the road.  But, they also share freely about God’s grace through everything.  

Is there a fix for this problem?  No, not unless you fix our humanity and our nature to sin.  But, I do believe that there is a way to reduce the failures that are becoming so prominent.  We do have a way to keep adultery, drug use, disbelief to a minimum, even when we aren’t on the road with the band/artist.  We can, and must pray for the musician.  We need to pray for their marriages.  We need to pray for their health.  Driving is a dangerous proposition, and something that we can pray for.  We can find a way to drop them a line via Social Media, email or sometimes even text (for those that have good relationships with bands) to let them know we are thinking of them and praying for them.  Provide them with love through gift cards, baked goods and more when you go to their concerts.  These little acts of selfless God given love won’t fix everything, but it will encourage the artist.  If they know people are genuine in their care for them, and not placing them on that proverbial pedestal, the rate at which we see catastrophic failure will reduce.  And if it is just one that changes because of our love, then we as fans have done our job.

So, as fans, let us live the great commission to love our neighbor as ourselves, including those neighbors who just happen to be in our favorite band.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Wind, blowing snow and a flood

I'm currently driving to drop off a car to my brother in Coeur d'Alene, ID.  This isn't a trip that was on my schedule.  But, with the immediate need for a set of wheels, my mom and I are making the trip, thanks to several people that have helped purchase the car.  So, with the new set of wheels and the weekend off, I currently find myself in a hotel in Billings, MT.

Cheyenne to Billings isn't really that long of a drive.  Typically, the drive should only take 6ish hours.  However, February in Wyoming presents uncertainty with weather.  Earlier this week, Winter Storm Kayla moved through dumping a foot of snow on Cheyenne.  The effects of that snow storm were still being felt today through most of the eastern part of the state.  When I say felt, I have to clarify just a bit before I continue with the story.

Many people associate Chicago as being the Windy City.  Ask anyone in Cheyenne and most of them will scoff at that notion, and then correct you by informing you that Cheyenne is windier than Chicago.  Not just words, fact.  Cheyenne average wind speed - 12.4mph and Chicago is 10.3mph.  This sets the stage for the rest of the story.

My mom and I finally tore out of Cheyenne about 9:45.  Just minutes before we left, the State DOT opened up I-25 (only north/south interstate in Wyoming).  Despite it being opened, there was a high wind warning along with warnings for patchy ice from Cheyenne to Buffalo.  I knew we were in for a long trip.  I wasn't expecting such a long trip.  A long, slow, windy, icy and flat out horrible drive of a trip.

Despite the awful driving conditions to just south of Buffalo, and the slow speeds, it provided me with some great windshield time.  God took the crap of the day and turned it to gold.  He blew my mind.  He showed me his beauty, his provisions and his designs.

If you are one for road trips, I highly suggest taking a ho hum drive up I-25, then on west I-90 into Billings (the rest of Montana and Northern Idaho will be observed tomorrow).  No, the scenery won't change much, but you will get to see the mountains to the west while going through Wyoming.  Once you hit Montana, you'll get the same thing, but add in a few rivers.  Then, the farther west you get you'll be shown a river most of the way across Montana, a few mountain passes to traverse and some of the most beautiful scenery in the US.  But, I digress.

Anyway, my trip today I got to see all the above mentioned of Wyoming.  But, while I was taking it all in, I began thinking of the flood.  You know, that flood that covered the whole world.  The flood that Noah and his family took a whole bunch of pets on a boat to save themselves and the animals from drowning.  Yeah, that flood.  I began to see the very spot I was driving as being covered by water.  Then, that water receding, forming the very mountains I was looking at.  I began to imagine the water flowing along the valleys I had driven through.  Next, I wondered what Noah and family were thinking as the water was receding.  My mind was absolutely blown.

What does all that have to do with me driving what is possibly the longest trip from Cheyenne to Billings?  Nothing.  Nothing at all.  But, it was God distracting me with some pretty cool scenery and a completely different perspective of the flood.

Tomorrow, more driving, more scenery and eventually getting to hang with my brother, niece and nephews.  Night all.