Skin Deep

Nichole Nordeman did a great front page article for CCM magazine about the pressures of outward appearance even in the Christian music industry and how even the artists struggle to remain real sometimes. Nichole Nordeman interviewed thirteen popular Christian music artists, some of which include Bethany Dillon, Chris Tomlin, Krystal Meyers, Natalie Grant, Bebo Norman, Mark Hall of Casting Crowns, and Rebecca Barlow of Barlow Girl. What’s more, the article has several pictures of the actual artists in their high school years.

I stopped receiving CCM magazine a few years ago, but all is not lost. Anyone can read the article thanks to Nichole Nordeman and CCM. Her website states:

CCM has partnered with Nichole Nordeman to bring this special digital issue to you, their fans, absolutely FREE! Just click on this link and use the login listed below:
Username: freeissue0704 & Password: name417

Like what you read? Spread the word and pass it along – it’s free for your family & friends, too!

This is one of those articles I recommend that everyone check out because it is good to know that it is not just everyday people who face these issues. This article starts on page 48.


Entertainment captivates people. It’s something people pursue. Entertainment is a part of life, we all want to be entertained at some point or another during our day. Some people live for it, while others just enjoy it from time to time. Where does entertainment go from being just something we enjoy, to being an idol, something we obsess over?

I’m not going to say I know that answer, because I really don’t know exactly myself. Entertainment in itself isn’t bad. I like to watch movies sometimes, play games, and the like. There is always a point where too much can become a bad thing, though. There’s a point where it can steal away and blind a people from the things of God, from living our life in positive worship to God.

I enjoy playing video games. Is this wrong? No. Too much time spent playing them can be though. I’m writing to myself tonight. There’s been weeks I’ve spent hours and hours just wasting away at video games. I’m not alone, I’m sure there are other people who spend three and four times as much time as I do playing games. I think many times it’s a way to fulfill a need of just something to do.

I’m, in no way, trying to say spending a little time playing video games is wrong. There are certain games, movies, and music (all entertainment) that I do believe is wrong or can be wrong. I’ve wrote several things about my thoughts on those here.

I’ve been thinking a little bit tonight. I think often times pushes us away from Christ. From a military standpoint, I believe this would be a good idea for an enemy. If there is a way to preoccupy the opposing foe with fun and enjoyment, it will both blind and weaken the enemy. If this enemy is blind to the army all around it that is about to overtake it, it cannot fight (blinded). It cannot attempt to fight if it’s not trained (weakened). It’s a great strategy, and is used in diversions – where the opposing side brings a small force to the diversion front, but then surprise attacks from another direction.

In the same way, I believe, we can be – and are being – blinded and weakened. We spend time entertaining ourselves, while not realizing there’s an enemy at our doorstep. We are weakened by not knowing the Word of God. I think we’re all guilty, and no one can ever fully be prepared. However, we can prepare. We all cave in to sin at times even though we don’t want to, but even so God has given us everything we need for life and Godliness.

Do I know all of the Bible? Of course not. I dislike, and think I’m horrible, at memorization, and honestly take less time than I should at trying to memorize. I still need work in areas. There’s obvious things we can do though, such as limiting our time on the computer, watching TV, and just wasting time with stuff that doesn’t matter ten minutes from that point. I guess what I’m trying to say, is that I need to get more serious. It’s not always easy going through stuff alone. Sometimes it feels like I’m alone, but I know that I’m not alone. There’s always going to be valleys and trials, those are always the times where faith is decided. And we must go through those valleys, because those are the times where character is built.

To sum it all up, we need more of Jesus, less of us. More love for Christ and others, less self-love. There’s a real enemy out there. We, myself included, need to wake up. What are we going to be committed to?

Prayer in the Darkness

I left the house at around 9:10pm last night headed to the church.  While I was halfway to the church, I just said to myself that I know prayer works.  Maybe that’s what started last night.

I’m not sure how to explain it, but after the first Prayer in the Darkness a few months ago, I lost faith in it.  I’m honestly not sure if it was faith or hope, or just my attitude (or a mixture of all of those).  Secretly, I’d been putting more stock in the actual turnout than I was on the purpose of the night.  Since the first night, I’ve been learning (more or less) that it’s not really about the numbers.

With all of that said, I started last night completely different.  While the actual Prayer in the Darkness doesn’t start until 10pm, I got there at around 9:15pm.  I wasn’t about to let numbers defer what the focus of the night was.  I was there for one thing, and that was for prayer.  I’m not sure I could tell what the first song I turned on was (it was a David Crowder song, though).  I’m not sure how many times I went and adjusted the sound (I think it was three times, though).  I’m really not sure how lame I looked (not going to comment about that).  I also decided after I had been there a minute or two, that I wasn’t about to stay in my box the entire time.

So that’s what I did.  I moved out of where I’m always at and did what I’m better at doing.  I didn’t even think about the numbers before service.  I just knew that when everyone else got there, I wanted God to already be there — and I didn’t want to be so enveloped in something else to completely miss it.

To make a long story short, it was the largest turnout ever, and I believe know that walls were broken.  It was the first time where I wish there was room for one more hour … at least.  And everyone left smiling?  At midnight?

September 23.  That’s the next Prayer in the Darkness.  One night at a time, this cities walls are crumbling.  That city on that hill over there is going to be known for what it’s meant to be soon (soon) …

Until next time …

Legal and Illegal; Stealing and Purchasing

A couple of weeks ago someone asked me a simple question: “where do you get your music”. The simple answer I gave was, “iTunes, buy the actual CD’s, or use Urge”.  The response was: “oh, wrong answer”.  In the meantime someone had overheard his question to me and stated that, “Hey, if you want any music just let me know”.

This sets me up for the topic I’m about to discuss: legal verses illegal; stealing and purchasing.  I hope that the last response wasn’t thought out before being said, because in all honestly: it’s wrong.  When you purchase virtually any piece of music it’s illegal to make copies for anyone other than yourself.  If I said that I’ve never downloaded music illegally, then I would be lying: I have.  After I was convicted of it, it took days to find what I had bought (or had downloaded legally, as there used to be a lot of legal downloads on artist websites).

A common misconception is that when you purchase a piece of music it’s “yours and you can make copies of it”.  Wrong.  It’s illegal.  You can make copies for yourself (for example: I rip all my CDs to the computer since I’m on it most of the day).  It’s quick and easy to make a copy for your friends, just copy and give.  Doing that is causing someone else to sin and the Bible states in Luke 17:2 (NIV) that “It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”  It would be better for him!  We must not go with the easy way!

I currently have an Urge account that I can download as many CDs as I want (and listen to them on the computer only) as long as I pay 9.95 per month.  Honestly, that’s not a bad deal considering I stay on the computer virtually all day.

I guess this begs the question: Is letting someone borrow my CD(s) okay?  Honestly, I would say this depends.  Are they going to make a copy of it?  If so, you’re probably better off not even giving them the chance.  The Bible says we shouldn’t steal AND to obey the laws of the land.  In a since, when we “sharing” music with other people, we are breaking the law, and we’re causing the “sharee” to steal the music.  In this day it’s easy to do.  That doesn’t make it right, though.  I believe most try to justify their sin (in this area specifically) by “everyone else is doing it” or just simply “I didn’t know it was wrong” (when in actuality, many do know it’s wrong and are TRYING to be completely ignorant to the fact, or ignore their consciousness).

I could rant all day about this, but in the end it comes down to this: are you going to live for God, or live for self.  There are no in betweens.  Giving people music because they want them to “have something to worship to” isn’t a justification to sin either.  Sin is sin.  There are not justifications.

Finally, something a little off subject.  Yesterday as I was reading my new book (which is very awesome), “The Burning Heart Contract” by Becky Tirabassi, something jumped out at me that she said.  She was wanting to speak to students about committing to an hour in prayer each day, but found that the team she was with didn’t take too fond of the idea.  She states:

But the team thought it was a far too time-consuming and guilt-producing discipline to ask students to consider.  Their rejection of my idea made me feel–true or untrue–as if they considered me legalistic.  One thing I continue to learn about possessing a burning heart: if God calls you to deeper levels of prayer, purity, and purpose, you might be misunderstood as legalistic and will often stand alone. (“The Burning Heart Contract”, 114)

I think her assessment sums up everything beautifully.  And that’s what’ll have to close this post out.

Random Thoughts

I wasn’t planning on writing anything here, but decided that I probably should since I’ve not written for a week or so (and I’m feeling a little random, but that’s beyond the point).

For some reason I couldn’t fall asleep last night until around 11 or 12.  I’ve been getting into a good sleep routine, but last night screwed it up I fear.  Maybe it didn’t — I hope, anyway.

Saturday night at 10pm is prayer night at the church. About 5 people signed up, but I’m thinking more will show (I was lame and only put five slots for some reason — I modified the later versions to include 12).  The focus is supposed to be on Isaiah 43:1-44:5 and Isaiah 62.  I’m not sure if that was made clear though, so maybe this will just be a prayer time.  Either way, it’ll be good.  Officially it doesn’t have an end time; unofficially it ends at 12. I’m ready for it!  I’m hoping that I’m NOT tired that night.

Today I had to do a little public speaking. Wasn’t much to it, really (I like public speaking, only when I write what I’m speaking about).  It was a good experience in a way though as I got to help people from literally around the world (this was International Officers).  It was a little different, but a good different.

A week or two ago I was pumping gas and an older guy came on the opposite side and started to talk about gas prices and such.  I went along at the beginning (agreeing gas prices were too high).  Until he started blaming Bush and congress about gas prices and the like.  He told me I should “watch the news” and such.  I told him I did.  Other than that, I just smiled.  One of the things I’ve learned (and still am learning) is that debating draws dividers — nothing more, nothing less.  Unless the other side gets a revelation of the truth (or vice-versa), there’s nothing much good that is going to happen — both sides will remain true to their case no matter what.  The more defensive you are, the more bitter the debate ends.  The doesn’t mean all debates are bad, but many are.  I’ve thought about something I could have said to the guy, but I’ve came to the conclusion that I’m better off how I handled it — with my mouth shut.

An interesting statistic that I heard a few weeks ago that while the divorce rate in America is, sadly, at around 50%.  That’s not that interesting though.  The interesting statistic is that of the couples who pray and read the Bible together less than 2% of them end up in divorce.  Two percent when the rest of America is 50%?  Quite a large difference.

I listened to John Bevere the other night (he spoke at New Life Church again) and it was something I probably needed to listen to.  To sum it up — if God calls you to do something and you decide not to do it He’ll move right on to someone else.  I’ve heard many stories (a LOT of stories) about pastors who where the second and third pick (meaning God had told a few other people to start churches and they didn’t — hence he had to find someone who would).  I can’t speak about it even close to as well as John Bevere put it, so it’s better to just listen to it yourself.

I got a new iPod.  It’s one of those cool video ones.  My case still hasn’t came yet though, so I’ve not really used it much because I don’t want to get it scratched (if possible).

I found some quotes for the prayer night on Sunday. Some of them are so awesome they need to be repeated, so here they are …

“People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD.” — Proverbs 19:3 NLT

“When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy.” — Corrie Ten Boom

“It is as true today as it was in Bible times that the man who hates his sins too much will get into trouble with those who do not hate sin enough.” — A.W. Tozer

“Pray, and let God worry.” — Martin Luther

“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.” — Abraham Lincoln

This one wasn’t one I found (and isn’t for prayer night), but needs repeating as well:

“And why ask for wisdom if you ignore the Holy Spirit?” — Why by KJ-52

So with those quotes I end it.

Quick edit: I just switched from my closet server to the E-Blah servers (for speed and reliability reasons). Let me know if you see a noticable speed increase. Also, if there’s any issues with links let me know.  I transfered it over in about a total of 15 to 20 minutes so there could be some issues (although I doubt it).

Prayer Night

On Sunday I sat down and wrote out a "prayer plan" for the city.  Pretty much what needs to be prayed for during a prayer time.  I have since revised it a time or two, but over all I didn't add or remove much.  It really just skims the surface of what really should happen and go on during a "prayer night" event.

Click here to download the prayer night document.

In a quick bit of other news …

I've been working and needing sleep.  I stay tired now, I think.  I've been able to actually do a few things at the shop I'm at (at work).  It's great.

Now … if I could just have an answer to this … "problem" I'm having, I'll be all set.  I think. Anywho, that's enough …