Tag Archives: Christian music

Building 429 Meets My Judgmentalism, Then Gets an Apology

The following post was first published in 2011, yet it is definitely worth revisiting. If you have not read this post, what it depicts is a perfect example of why I call myself a “recovering legalist.” Even now I cringe when I recall my judgmental, legalistic actions 6 years ago. But God’s grace doesn’t force immediate change; we grow in grace.

Some take longer than others.


The Story

For the last several weeks we have been going out to get some food after evening services. If you don’t know what I am talking about, let me explain:

Getting Food = going to a restaurant that sells stuff you could make at home for a lot less money, but tastes better and is more fun when you pay for it in the company of others.

Evening Services = gathering of believers at a local church that still takes place on Sunday nights, while most people stay home, in order to give the pastor something to do.

FoodFriday #17: Cracker Barrel - Old Country Store

Last night, after a great time of worship and hearing from God’s Word, my wife, our girls, our youth director, and I went to Cracker Barrel. When we pulled in, I noticed a really sweet Prevost tour bus sitting in the lot. I said to my wife, Valerie, “Now that has got to be a group, or a band, or something, because it takes somebody serious to keep one of those things on the road.

We gently maneuver our tired, aged frames (we’re getting old in our 40’s) out of the car and walk toward the entrance. As we walk across the front of Cracker Barrel, where all the rocking chairs are, my wife and I notice some interesting young men dressed in black. One of them had a black hat and a hairstyle that would make more than a few grannies say, “What died on your head, sonny?”

Myself? Well I am in a suit and tie. My wife? She is wearing a dress. WE are the “Reverend and Mrs. Baker,” you know. WE know how to dress on Sunday, unlike these guys. So, my wife walks past them first and gives them a forced, but gentle smile. Next, I walk by, thinking to myself, “These are definitely musicians…yep…the hair gives it away…they’re the Prevost riders.” I nod and smile.

Once inside the Cracker Barrel, my conscience started to bother me. Something wasn’t right. I have been around long enough to recognize when the Holy Spirit says, “Hey, I bear witness that those weird-looking guys out there are part of the Family.” That is when I come up with a brilliant, self-covering plan – send Katie, our 15 year old, out to see who they are.

I only had an old iPhone. And it was dark.

Katie,” I say, “go out there and ask those guys on the porch who they are or what band they’re with.”  Fortunately, and I knew this, there were others outside beside the “men in black,” so don’t think I sent my little girl out to talk to strangers, alone. She talked to strangers with other strangers there to help.

A few minutes later, Katie comes back in with the biggest smile on her face, beaming with a glow that could blind a man in sunglasses, saying, “They are Building 429!!

Now, here’s the point of all this. Here I am, someone who preaches against unrighteously judging others, especially Christians who look different (what’s normal?). What do I do? I walk right by a group of guys and assume, wrongfully, that evidently, just because they were not in suits on a Sunday night, they were a group of heathen beatniks heading to/from Nashville.  I messed up.

An Official Apology

Sorry, guys, for doing the very thing I hate seeing other people do. This is why I call myself a “recovering legalist.” Sometimes I fail. Last night I failed in a bad way. Up until last night, I had never even seen you before to recognize you in person. All I know is that the song you recorded, “Always,” is one of my favorites…I’ve shed more than a few tears while listening to it.

Please forgive my wife and I for acting like a couple of snobby, self-righteous, judgmental legalists. If I’m fortunate, maybe God will someday give this preacher some hair like yours.

May God bless you and your ministry. He WILL be with you always.

 


UPDATE: Shortly after this post was first published, Building 429 posted a link to it on their Facebook page. A little later we exchanged a few emails in which they graciously accepted my apology. I offered to buy them dinner the next time they came through town, but Jason Roy (lead singer) said that wouldn’t be necessary – then he offered me free tickets the next time they came to town! Cool, huh? But I never took him up on it – we just bought them, anyway.

Here is a more recent video from Building 429, “Unashamed.”

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Filed under Do not judge, General Observations, legalism

I’m Not Feeling It, TobyMac

The other day I was listening to the radio and a song by TobyMac (Toby McKeehan) started playing. Since I had nothing better to do as I was driving, I listened.

I was disappointed.

Folks, if you will remember what I wrote in a previous post, I’m not anti-contemporary music…I’m just anti-bad theology. New songs, even those with styles I can’t stand, are fine with me as long as they convey biblical theology, edify the Christian, and bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ. Really, that leaves the Christian music artist with a lot of room to  create.

But it seems to me that Toby Mac really missed the mark with this song. In “Feel It” (released in 2015) TobyMac seems to want to appeal to the modern, post-Christian, millennial culture by basing the whole argument for God’s existence on his personal, subjective feelings.

The chorus of “Feel It” reads:

“Feel It”

[Chorus:]

Oh I feel it in my heart
I feel it in my soul
That’s how I know (oh oh oh ohah)
You take our brokeness
And make us beautiful
Yeah, that’s how I know
That’s how I know (You can’t take that from me)

I’m sorry, brother, but your argument is weak, to say the least.

Contrast the above with the first verse and chorus from another song, “Never Alone” by Barlow Girl:

“Never Alone”

I waited for you today
But you didn’t show
No no no
I needed You today
So where did You go?
You told me to call
Said You’d be there
And though I haven’t seen You
Are You still there?[Chorus:]
I cried out with no reply
And I can’t feel You by my side
So I’ll hold tight to what I know
You’re here and I”m never alone

Do you see the difference? The first finds comfort and reassurance in “feeling,” but the second finds faith secure in “knowing.” There is a difference.

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” – 1 John 5:13

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” – John 17:17

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – John 8:32

Notice that last verse? What did Jesus say? Did He say, “You shall have a feeling, and the feeling shall set you free”? Don’t think so.

Feelings fluctuate. Feelings lie.

In the tagline of “Feel It” TobyMac repeats,

Everybody talkin’ like they need some proof
But what more do I need than to feel you?

I’ll tell you (and I bet you already know), Toby, you need the Truth, God’s promises, His Word that never changes…

’cause feelings sure do.

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Filed under Apologetics, Faith, music

Recovering Legalist Meets Building 429

The following took place 5 years ago in February, 2011. A lot has happened since then, but I’m still a “recovering” legalist – I still mess up from time to time.

NOTE: I updated the link to the music video. If you couldn’t watch it before, try again. Oh, and seriously, you should be shouting at the end of it 🙂

The Story

For the last several weeks we have been going out to get some food after evening services. If you don’t know what I am talking about, let me explain:

Getting Food = going to a restaurant that sells stuff you could make at home for a lot less money, but tastes better and is more fun when you pay for it in the company of others.

Evening Services = gathering of believers at a local church that still takes place on Sunday nights, while most people stay home, in order to give the pastor something to do.

FoodFriday #17: Cracker Barrel - Old Country Store

Image by inju via Flickr

Last night, after a great time of worship and hearing from God’s Word, my wife, our girls, our youth director, and I went to Cracker Barrel. When we pulled in, I noticed a really sweet Prevost tour bus sitting in the lot. I said to my wife, Valerie, “Now that has got to be a group, or a band, or something, because it takes somebody serious to keep one of those things on the road.

We gently maneuver our tired, aged frames (we’re getting old in our 40’s) out of the car and walk toward the entrance. As we walk across the front of Cracker Barrel, where all the rocking chairs are, my wife and I notice some interesting young men dressed in black. One of them had a black hat and a hairstyle that would make more than a few grannies say, “What died on your head, sonny?”

Myself? Well I am in a suit and tie. My wife? She is wearing a dress. WE are the “Reverend and Mrs. Baker,” you know. WE know how to dress on Sunday, unlike these guys. So, my wife walks past them first and gives them a forced, but gentle smile. Next, I walk by, thinking to myself, “These are definitely musicians…yep…the hair gives it away…they’re the Prevost riders.” I nod and smile.

Once inside the Cracker Barrel, my conscience started to bother me. Something wasn’t right. I have been around long enough to recognize when the Holy Spirit says, “Hey, I bear witness that those weird-looking guys out there are part of the Family.” That is when I come up with a brilliant, self-covering plan – send Katie, our 15 year old, out to see who they are.

I only had an old iPhone. And it was dark.

Katie,” I say, “go out there and ask those guys on the porch who they are or what band they’re with.”  Fortunately, and I knew this, there were others outside beside the “men in black,” so don’t think I sent my little girl out to talk to strangers, alone. She talked to strangers with other strangers there to help.

A few minutes later, Katie comes back in with the biggest smile on her face, beaming with a glow that could blind a man in sunglasses, saying, “They are Building 429!!

Now here’s the point of all this. Here I am, someone who preaches against unrighteously judging others, especially Christians who look different (what’s normal?). What do I do? I walk right by a group of guys and assume, wrongfully, that evidently, just because they were not in suits on a Sunday night, they were a group of heathen beatniks heading to/from Nashville.  I messed up.

An Official Apology

Sorry, guys, for doing the very thing I hate seeing other people do. This is why I call myself a “recovering legalist.” Sometimes I fail. Last night I failed in a bad way. Up until last night, I had never even seen you before to recognize you in person. All I know is that the song you recorded, “Always,” is one of my favorite…I’ve shed more than a few tears while listening to it. Please forgive my wife and I for acting like a couple of snobby, self-righteous, judgmental legalists. If I’m fortunate, maybe God will give this preacher some hair like yours, someday.

May God bless you and your ministry. He WILL be with you always.

 

 

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Filed under Do not judge, General Observations, legalism

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Choir Girl

Last night I had the rare chance to go hear my own daughter sing at Bryan College. It was wonderful! I wish all of you could have been there, especially to hear “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Powerful!

Katie at the doorNow, since Katie has gone to college, she has been busy, busy, busy…even touring with the Bryan College Chorale. On the rare occasion I have had to hear her display the music education she is receiving, all I’ve had to record it with was my iPhone. Last night all I got was a picture with her as she was handing out…what do they call those things?…bulletins? Menus? Billings? Keepsakes?

That has made me sad.

But WAIT!…

Earlier this month Katie and her personal choir (at least that’s the way this daddy sees it) performed at the Northside Presbyterian Church PC(USA). — on a side note, I’m not big on the denomination right now — Fortunately for me, since this was on a Sunday morning and I had other obligations, they did a wonderful job at recording the whole thing!

But before you watch it, let me tell you why I am sharing this (besides being proud of Katie and her backup singers). One of the greatest hymns ever written was penned by Isaac Watts, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Listening to it last night brought me to tears.

The Wondrous Cross

How often do we do that? Survey the cross? How often do we just pause for more than a few moments and measure out the height, depth, length, and breadth of the place where “sorrow and love flow mingled down”? If we did, we would think less of ourselves and more of Him.

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. – 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NKJV

So, I hope you enjoy the video of Katie’s choir (incidentally, she is standing all the way to the far right). But after you listen to Isaac Watt’s famous hymn (beginning at the 32:48 mark), ask yourself the question the old man in the movie Do You Believe? asks the preacher: “What are you going to do about it?”

If you will see the cross for what it is, it will make a difference in your life.

(UPDATE: Katie just watched this and said, “We were not ready for that concert. We got our practice time in on the road.” This was their first concert.)

Oh, and “Jesus Paid it All” is awesome, too!

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Filed under God, Love of God, music, Parenting, Relationships and Family, worship

Remembering a Whoop’n

A Whoop’n 

In case you are from a liberal society or background which prohibits whoop’ns, you might not know what I am talking about. Therefore, let me tell you what a “whoop’n” is.

A whoop’n (the abbreviated form of “whipping”) is a spanking, a tail thrashing, a belt to the rear, a switch’n, a “rod of instruction to the seat of discipline.”

Whoop’ns are not abuse. I survived many, and I’m thankful for every one my mom and dad gave me. They administered them in love.

Holy Wood Shed

The reason I am telling you all about “whoop’ns” is because God gave me one four years ago today. Yes, the Lord took me to His heavenly wood shed all because I acted like a hypocrite.

My daughter with Building 429

My daughter with Building 429

You see, four years ago a group called Building 429 came through town and I made of fool of myself in front of God and everybody, including my family and a bunch of guys who love Jesus. I judged them based on what they looked like – the very thing I preached and wrote against on this very website.

If you’d like to read the original story, just click on the link below. You’ll get a laugh out of it.

 “Recovering Legalist Meets Building 429”

But even though I learned a lesson, there are still times when I have to “check myself,” as my wife says. That’s why I call myself a “recovering” legalist.

BTW, they accepted my apology.

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Filed under clothing, legalism, Life Lessons, music

From the Pit to Praise

And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. – Psalm 40:3

A New Song

How many times have you heard someone sing “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” after something really special happened? Can you hear Handel’s Messiah playing in your head this very moment? I remember a particular scene in the movie Scrooged, starring Bill Murray, where Scrooge (played by Bill) realized he’d been given another chance at life. In an instant he stepped out of pure terror into rapturous joy… “I’m ALIVE! I’m ALIVE!”… Hallelujah! Hallelujah! … everything was new.

(Enjoy the clip, but pardon the mild language – after all, the guy hasn’t had a lot of time to change his vocabulary, right?)

Are we singing songs of praise? Do you remember the pit? Are you in one right now? What kind of songs are “pit” songs? What kind of songs does one sing when he is hopeless, in the dark, burdened with despair? Shouldn’t the old songs become new when you’ve been delivered?

It might not be the Hallelujah Chorus coming out of your speakers, but something should be “new” about the song choices of one who has passed from death unto life (John 5:24; 1 John 3:14). Am I correct? Maybe it’s just the preacher in me is talking.

What Others See

People-watching is a favorite pastime, one that even I sometimes enjoy (especially when there’s not enough money to buy anything in the mall). But it doesn’t have to be a place where people congregate to find people-watchers; they’re everywhere.

Because there’s always someone watching us, taking note, even trying to be like us, it’s important to remember that when God does a work in our lives, people see that too! As a matter of fact, the bigger the miracle, the bigger the response.

John:  “Hey, Jim, do you remember that guy, Anthony?”

Jim:  “Anthony?  The one who’ll never make anything of his life? The guy who’s beyond help? The one who’s been stuck in that pit so long he’ll never change?”

John:  “Yeah, that guy…well sorta.”

Jim:  “What do you mean?”

John:  “Well, something’s really changed about him. He’s different. He’s not depressed, or angry, or worried anymore. Things are going better for him, and all he can do is praise God for picking him up! He doesn’t even accept the credit! All he does now is talk about the Lord, loving people, and all that stuff. He even changed the music he listens to!”

Jim:  “That’s scary, man. But if God really did that much for Anthony, I wonder what he might do for me if I just trusted Him more?”

Gotta Have “It

Any kind of experience that will make a man run towards a guy with a shotgun, a guy who was trying to kill him… Any kind of experience that would make a man jump out of an elevator and scream, “I’m ALIVE! I’m ALIVE!“… That’s the kind of experience that will get people’s attention.

Friend, do you have any idea how close to hell you were before you accepted Christ? Were your feet in the flames and you didn’t even know it?

You at the computer…the one reading this on an iPad or a smart phone… what’s your deal? Have you been delivered from some dark, dank, depressing, hopeless pit? Are you in one right now? Well, when God delivers you, if He hasn’t already, I hope your reaction will reflect what’s been done.

People are looking for hope; do you have “it”?</

Note: A previous version of this post was being written when my computer decided it was time to update Windows. Before it was erased, that post elaborated a little on the “it” that David said the people saw. What do you think the word – inserted by translators for clarification – was referring to? The being lifted out of the pit and so forth, or visible praise? Both?)

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Filed under God, ministry, music, salvation, worship

A “New Age”

It Was the 90’s

It’s the dream of many young people to have a garage band. A few of them actually put a band together that can crank, get in gear, and drive out of the garage.

rockersBack in the late 80’s and early 90’s my sister and I had a band called “Mirror Image.” We came on to the scene at a time when musical styles were in the process of changing and popular Christian music was still trying to find itself. Stylistically, we were either too early, too late.

Nevertheless, our final incarnation, consisting of my sister, Rebecca (keyboard & vocals), Steve Castlen (drums), Jody Gould (guitar), and myself (bass), was a locally popular band that, at least, made a small impact on eternity. Our music was original (either written by Rebecca, myself, or the group), fun, and intended to reach a younger generation with the gospel of Christ. As a result, more than a few young people came to know Jesus as their Savior.

A Different Century

mirror image bandIt’s now 2014, Mirror Image is no more, and all of the band members have gone on to other things. Rebecca is now Rebecca Gomes and lives in Germany; Jody Gould owns Battlefield Recording Studio and runs sound for the influential Brainerd Baptist Church; Steve Castlen is a certified apologist in Nashville; and I am here, preaching and remembering our youth.

But even though it’s been over 20 years since Mirror Image was rock’n the stage, those of us here in the States (sorry, Rebecca), have teamed up again. This time we are working on Katie’s (my daughter) first single.

Despite our age…despite my lack of hair…despite the fact that Steve (Captain America) is more “built” now than then – which is irritating…the creative forces which drove our talents in the early years have only gotten better. Maturity has it’s benefits.

An Old Song

You are going to be unbelievably impressed with Katie’s song, “It’s Beautiful.” Our intent is to have it receive national attention and airplay, who knows? But in the meantime, I have something unique and special for you to listen to. Click on the link below and listen to a song Mirror Image recorded – believe it or not – on a cassette recorder in a brick-walled Sunday school classroom.

The song (which I wrote) is called “New Age.” It talks about how many religions and cults point toward a coming day when the world will enter a “new age” of peace, understanding, and oneness. The only problem? All those who dogmatically worship one God must be “taken out” of the world, one way or another. The New Age, the Paradigm Shift, none of it can come as long as Christians are still in the world. Ironically, Christians believe the same thing.

“New Age”

(Written by: Anthony Baker; Performed by: Mirror Image)

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Filed under Christian Maturity, ministry, music