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When You Feel Like You Can’t Hold On Any Longer

Over the course of my life, music has gotten me through several difficult moments.  While in college, I developed an unhealthy pattern of drawing close to the Lord during the school year, then falling away over the summer.  On any given day, I listened to a few hours of music.  Whether I was running, studying or working out, the beat, lyrics and sound motivated me to press on.  One of the songs that touched my soul in college was Hold On by Wilson Phillips.  The following stanza helped me overcome the stress of college: “Don’t you know things can change. Things’ll go your way. If you hold on for one more day. Can you hold on for one more day. Things’ll go your way. Hold on for one more day.”

So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you. Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery], James 4:7-8.

When I became a high school Bible teacher I tried to incorporate music into my classes and lesson plans.  Unfortunately, most of my music was archaic, out of date and wasn’t appealing to my students.  After swallowing my pride, I began to search for modern artists that my students could relate to.  One of my former students Evan introduced me to the group Stellar Kart.  Although I didn’t have much disposable income back then, I searched the Sonshine House for discounted music.  After losing my teaching job, I spent a month struggling to find a new one.  The song that got me through this ordeal was Hold on to Jesus by Stellar Kart.  While walking through un-charted territories, the Lord used this song to help me persevere.

But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast. 22 Abstain from evil [shrink from it and keep aloof from it] in whatever form or whatever kind it may be, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.

Since the Coronavirus shut down professional sports in March, I have increased my time listening to music.  During the week, I spend 5 hours a day minimum, listening to Christian music.  Although I still struggle to find artists, groups and songs with a specific message and style, there is one song that gotten me through these months of social distancing.  While listening to You Tube one night, I came across a spontaneous worship montage.  Kari Jobe has a 19 minute video starting with Speak to Me before moving into the songs Defender and Closer.  This worship medley has become a daily prayer for me, another way of Holding on to Jesus as the world tries to makes sense of COVID-19.  May these songs touch you like they have inspired me to hold on when you feel like you can’t hold on any longer.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Rock Gets Religion

Alice Cooper wrote the forward to a new book entitled Rock Gets Religion by Mark Joseph.  Cooper who quit drinking and drugs after finding God talks about altering the content of his lyrics since his conversion.  This project examines the battle for the soul of secular music, called the Devil’s music when the church demonized pop culture in the 1950 and sixties.  When talented musicians like Keith Green were rejected by mainstream music companies, contemporary Christian music began.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God, James 4:4.

This new industry used passages from the Bible like the verse above to justify this decision.  While this rationale makes sense, Jesus encouraged his disciples to live in the world, but not follow their standards.  Thus, this separation from society like the Amish didn’t engage the world.  Instead of shining light into the darkness of life, Christians artists were preaching to the choir, having little impact on the rest of the world for several decades.

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one, John 17:15.

After nearly 4 decades of separation, Mark Joseph writes about how the influence of American Idol is reversing this trend.  Instead of being rejected by music executives, average Americans are deciding who advances on these reality shows.  As talented Christian artists are being discovered, more and more are choosing to appeal to a secular audience.  Subsequently, groups like Reliant K, Stellar Kart and Thousand Foot Krutch are adding a spiritual flavor to rock and roll.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

All In; Not Just When You Feel Like It

Sometimes your eyes are bigger than your stomach, unable to eat everything that you put on your plate.  In the same manner, when individuals open their mouths, empty vows spoken without any action leave a trail of broken promises.  This is not the standard Jesus set for his disciples.  Rather, he challenged his followers to be all in, not just when they feel like it.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, Mark 12:30.

Based upon the interpretations of modern poets, song writers and the world, love is a feeling.  Worldly love changes from one day to the next, something that you can lose over time.  However, a biblical love is a willful desire, which requires everything you have.  While you may experience periods of fatigue, not 100 %, faith inspires the weak to dig down deep with all your heart, soul and mind.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me,                             2 Corinthians 12:9.

According to the lyrics of Stellar Kart’s song All In, “Its easier to be the crowd, to just fit in and not stand out at all; To make a case for apathy, and never risk a thing in case you fall and this is life and we all decide the stand we take and this is mine.”  This stanza accurately describes the stance most people take in this life.  However, God expects more of his children, to follow in the footsteps of the apostle Paul.  By praying the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9, even in your moments of weakness, Christ’s power can lead any willing soul to become all in.
by Jay Mankus

 

Hold On To Jesus

As I was reflecting upon the last 7 weeks, waiting on the Lord for a door to walk through, a song from the group Stellar Kart summarizes my experience.  During these 49 days, struggling to find answers, one thought keep me going, Hold on to Jesus.  The ebbs and flows which I encountered led to an emotional roller coaster, feeling great about a potential position only to hear the sound of silence or receive another rejection email.

There were many days since February 1st when I felt like giving up, frustrated by the lack of fruits from my efforts.  However, the lyrics from Hold On was a constant reminder to press on in the dark.  Like the poem Footprints, God has rescued me from the storm, brought me in from the crashing waves and has carried me to the beach.  On the inside, there are still bruises, scars and wounds to my soul, yet my Lifeguard has started to resuscitate me.

In times of uncertainty, I am reminded of Matthew 11:28-29.  Jesus longs to give rest to weary souls.  The Lord does not want us to carry our baggage alone.  Rather, Jesus urges us to bring our burdens to the cross, where we can find comfort and peace.  Therefore, the next you go through a period of desolation, questioning life’s circumstances, remember the lyrics below by holding on to Jesus.

“Hold On”

I am all around you and I see
Everywhere you see I am everything
You believe

[chorus]
If the stars don’t shine tonight
And tomorrow forgets the light
Hold on. hold on to Me.

You are loved completely
You mean everything to me
You will always be here with me

With everything you have
Hold on to me.
Don’t be afraid I’m here to stay
If your hope is running dry
And your dreams have waved goodbye
Hold on. hold on to Me.

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