We Were All So Young
Almost 30 years ago, I had a remarkable dream that I immediately knew had significant prophetic implications. I was deeply involved in Christian music in those days, and had an intense desire to be a vessel of honour whenever I was given the opportunity to minister in music. It was common to engage in prayer with the pastor or evangelist that would give the message that would invariably follow the music, and I was profoundly honoured to be used by God in the cultural art form known as contemporary Christian music.
In the dream, I saw a Christian music group performing at some point in what I perceived was the somewhat future. They were seedy looking, and an air of worldliness encompassed them from head to toe. One of them was smoking a cigarette, and they all had that sullen look that the rebellious rock generation found so familiar; and yet this was considered a "Christian" rock band.
After awakening from the dream, the LORD spoke to me that this imagery communicated the deterioration of spiritual purity that would eventually overtake the then nascent Christian pop music culture. As the years went by, I saw the reality of the Christian music industry become conformed to the prophetic understanding I had seen so many years previously. In the process, the LORD broke the bondage of music that had so completely enslaved me, and slowly reconstructed me into a vessel that could be used in a ministry of Bible prophecy.
The ironies in this story are almost endless, for the aversion to the pop culture that so many ministers held was, at the time, a refusal to recognize that God was indeed moving in the social constructs of our time. Now the roles have been reversed, and significant numbers of the churches have gradually yielded to the cultural inertia in an attempt at remaining relevant. It's not that I now see music as intrinsically bad - it's that the Christian leadership has consistently refused to follow where GOD wanted them to go.
I see a good illustration of this in the ministry that GOD has given me. In what can only be a supernatural revelation realized in the context of Bible prophecy, I've had numerous prophecies strikingly fulfilled with incredible specificity. I preach from the King James Version of the Bible, and have a consistently orthodox outlook in that I teach Christ will physically return in the near future. I espouse the doctrine of the Trinity, Justification by Faith, and so forth.
And yet, although I've done 5 national speaking tours in recent times, I haven't spoken in a church in years. In my home country, in the religious arena, I am completely without honour. In fact, under the present circumstances, it would be extremely unrealistic to think that I will ever be invited to speak in any church within a few hundred miles of my home.
At the same time, I am acutely aware that if I were to pursue the opportunity, I could get out an old guitar, and get an invitation to play in a Christian church within a matter of hours. In fact, I could probably get paid for the effort. What events could possibly conspire to create such a strange dichotomy?
Many have commented on the obvious spiritual entropy in what used to pass for the behavioural center in the secular arena. The families personified by Leave It To Beaver and Father Knows Best have given way to The Osbournes and Will and Grace. The purists that worried about Elvis' pelvic propensities were right - but it's not the Marilyn Mansons that are the threat, it's the more benign "Christianized" version of Britney Spears or the latest packaged 'boy band' that supposedly posits a pop version of the Gospel.
Embarking on a rare trip down musical memory lane the other day, I listened to an old Amy Grant CD that had been sent out to radio and industry movers and shakers. After the tasty little title track (which was being heavily promoted at the time) was a heartfelt monologue from the pop star in which she waxed eloquently about the folksy family life on the farm in Tennessee - with then husband Gary Chapman.
Alas, Gary's gone and country icon Vince Gill now sleeps with the still appealing Amy. Far beyond the sub-culture that was contemporary Christian music, Amy is now starring in a network television series. Ironically, as I was wistfully looking back on those early days of pop Christian music, the next tune I cued up was called We Were All So Young - a melancholy account of the story of Christian music penned by Gospel rock music veteran Randy Stonehill. A moody lament that longs for the clarity and purity of the early Christian music that was bathed in the Holy Spirit, the lyrics poignantly demonstrate the collective regrets of so many of pop Christian music's pioneers.
As if to add their approval to the sentiment expressed in the song, Stonehill was joined by contemporary Christian music heavyweights like Larry Norman, Phil Keaggy, Russ Taff, Barry McGuire, Paul Stookey, Annie 'the poet' Herring, and even the legendary band known as Love Song:
"It was rock n roll about the Gospel truth,
and it caused a stir that was front page news,
and we quickly learned that you can't please everyone.
But we wanted to stand for what is real,
for more than the money or the record deal,
as the critics all sneered we sang at the top of our lungs,
we were all so young...."
Utilizing the modern analysis driven systematic marketing methodologies that capitalize on local demographic data gathering, the American mega church has declared their success is proof positive we are in a revival. In spite of the fact that vast numbers of churches still preach JESUS and declare the Bible to be the Word of God, the country has come to what the experts call 'the post-Christian era.'
Even when the leaders sense that something has gone desperately wrong, they are all in the spiritual quicksand of non-discernment, and the more they struggle the more contrived and artificial the remedies they offer. The simple truth is, GOD wants the Christians - but not the churches. Deeply immersed in the legal and intellectual constructs of the "Christian" world, the leaders of the "churches" can't fathom a Gospel without their tutelage, their theological perspectives, or their tax incentives.
Like the Pharisees of old, the church hierarchy cannot envision a move by God that is completely apart from what they are absolutely certain is true. "We have our father Abraham!" has been replaced by "We preach the Bible!" - and anyone or anything that steps outside of that legislated grace must be of the Devil.
But God is Sovereign and He has made His will known. He has told His people to "come out of her" but most have simply redefined the "her" so they can still feel comfortable in their non-compliance to His compulsory directive. He won't be mocked and the inevitable result of Hosea's God breathed declaration that "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, because thou hast rejected knowledge" has already resulted in the great "falling away" so plainly prophesied by Paul the Apostle.
We were all so young, but now America's Christians are at the end of the line. The spiritual bankruptcy of the church exponentially dwarfs the corrupt accounting debt-bomb threatening our entire financial order. The only course of action that makes any sense at all is to try to come face to face with JESUS CHRIST through intensely seeking to do the will of the Father. The Remnant does it without the comfort of fellowship, conveniently located buildings, or emotionally charged support mechanisms such as immersing ourselves in the world of "Christian" culture.
Those of us in the remnant are out in the spiritual wilderness, and it's become painfully evident this is precisely where God wants us to be. If you'd like to wake up from your longest dream, I would urgently advise you to come out of the whore the Christian church has become, and look at these issues as if your life depends upon it. The truth is, it does.
January 20, 2003 - James Lloyd
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