Monday, November 25, 2013

In Defense of CCM

The title of this post was hard to come up with because I have purposed to write about my personal defense of CCM (Contemporary Christian Music), but as I thought through what I would write I found that I really don't care about the future of CCM. I write this out of care for the families who have succumbed to this legalistic sedition that has been created by Satan. So, with this matter in view, let me say that my motivation for this post is the future success of many families whom I have come into contact, that they would not yield to endless divisions and deceptions that cause a lack of communion among the saints. All of this being said, if you find that my opinion is faulty, please correct me. I do not want to live in error.

I cannot even begin to address the hundreds of claims made against contemporary Christian music. Many of these claims would not stand alone, but unified they give the appearance of a cause. It is clear, however, that the entire conspiracy against CCM is shrouded in mystery. Nobody can give a unified answer as to why it is harmful for the Christian. One person says that it's the back beat, another may say sliding notes, "It's those African drums!" one says, another has wised up and says it is all of the above. Everybody has a different opinion as to why it is bad, and the only thing that matters is that you join the club, regardless of your reasons.

All of these approaches do seem to agree in one aspect. It is often taught that music has "power" or that it has a spiritual nature that transcends human understanding. This provides the perfect atmosphere for these conspiracies to take hold. Let me remind the reader that this is exactly what we would expect Satan to use. He has used the same mysterious cloak for numerous cults and other divisions among the church. This belief has no scriptural grounds. Many will cite 2 Kings 3:14-16 to provide a basis for the notion that music has power. But let's look at this passage briefly:

14 And Elisha said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee. 15 But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him. 16 And he said, Thus saith the Lord, Make this valley full of ditches.

 At first glance, one might presume that music has unknown powers that enabled Elisha to receive God's message, but upon further examination we should notice this part of verse 15:

"the hand of the Lord came upon him."

This tells us that it was not the music itself that enabled the prophet to hear from God, but it was "the hand of the Lord". We also should note that prophets are known for following seemingly strange impulses, as directed by the Lord. This gives us no basis for assuming that anytime someone plays an instrument he is being moved by something beyond himself or that the music is "spiritual" or has "power".
Another passage often cited is 1 Samuel 16:23:

23 And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.
This passage tells us only what we all can attest to as music can calm our emotions. The music was not the working force behind sending the distressing spirit away, the music refreshed Saul so that the spirit didn't have a hold on him. The proof for this is in 1 Samuel 18:10-11 where the music fails the test of supernatural mystical powers in its inability to send away the spirit:

10 And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; but there was a spear in Saul’s hand. 11 And Saul cast the spear, for he said, “I will pin David to the wall!” But David escaped his presence twice.

Even though David was playing his music, the evil spirit pressed upon Saul. Saul's emotions were not as easily calmed with his ever heightening rage against David and so the music didn't help him and the spirit still distressed him.
It is true that music affects the emotions, but I believe that it is plain to see that it does not possess any great mysterious power.

So often these types of things are adopted under the flag of personal conviction. That would be fine but it always grows into a moral absolute that is pushed on others. Suddenly, people are breaking fellowship with others because they disagree. You can be sure Satan loves it.
It is very saddening to see so many grown men, men who are serious about spiritual things, following after these ideas. Even more saddening to see numerous pastors let this thing become the very heart of their ministry. Instead of spreading the gospel and searching the scriptures to feed the flock, they are wasting their time proselytizing people to this fallacy.
Music is amoral. The music itself cannot be good or evil. It is a medium for conveying a message which might be good, evil or amoral.  Musical notes without a specific order are not really music at all.
God has given us music for many reasons, first and foremost, to glorify Him. But just as a beautiful mountain range brings glory to God and also delights the hearts of men, music is to be enjoyed. This goes against the old gnostic philosophy that everything in the world is evil and that virtue is only to be found in spiritual asceticism. Please, let's not adopt these Pharisaical standards that God never intended us to bear. Let's live in the full freedom that God intended us to have and not in any way bind our consciences with fables made by men.

This is my prayer for the church, that we would not sway to the right or to the left, but that we would remain in the center of God's will.
Elliott Alexander

Monday, February 25, 2013


One of our layovers was in Paris, France. We were able to check out the historic city for an entire day. This should be a pretty quick post - it is mostly just pictures.

The Eiffel Tower

The next several pictures are taken from the top of the Eiffel tower

Arc de Triomphe

You could go to the top of Arc de Triomphe too. :)
Notre Dame

Beautiful stained glass windows inside.

Several houseboats were in the river.
This bridge was especially peculiar as lovers had started a trend of putting locks on it symbolizing their relationship.
Underground mall. We barely glanced at it, but it was pretty neat.
Well, I suppose this will be my last post. I feel like I have sufficiently covered all of the details of my trip. Thank you so much for reading. It has been my pleasure writing them.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Reflections on Africa

Leading up to my trip to Chad I couldn't help but wonder what the Lord would teach me during my stay. The leader of our group, Mr. Fuhrmann, had encouraged all of us to keep a journal the several days leading up to, during, and after our trip. I found keeping a journal to be a very profitable activity. It helped me to sort out all of my thoughts at the end of each day and now I can look back to it and remember everything that I learned.  

 The first thing that the Lord showed me is that there is no such thing as different classes between the saints. What I mean is that when God looks at me, He is just as pleased with me as He is with any other saint. He loves us all the same! I don't have to be like Hudson Taylor to please Him! I don't have to follow some arduous list of religious activities to have His smile upon my life! It seems like such a simple truth but too often have I found myself in the grip of legalism, thinking I am so much better than others who do not hold to my list of rules. Rules that aren't found in scripture, but rather, in my imagination. Rules that, when I am honest, I can't even live up to! He showed me this through the example of the missionaries. I expected them to be very ascetic people, like so many missionaries I had read about, but they were very ordinary. Just ordinary people with an extraordinary God. :)

The second thing He taught me was that He wasn't calling me to do mission work. Leading up to the trip, I had a lot of speculation as to how the Lord might use this trip to show me that I need to be a missionary. The idea of mission work had crossed my path many times, so I figured that if He wanted me to be a full-time missionary then this was probably the time to show me. :) But He didn't, and I am very grateful to have clarity in this matter. I feel like He wants me to continue in farming, which He has prospered me in and I love doing! Always good to have a greater sense of the will of God.

The third and final thing that the Lord showed me during my trip to Chad was that I need to be more involved in evangelization of the lost in a local sense. This is something that has been on my mind for several months. While I was in Chad any attempt to witness would be met with two primary obstacles; a language barrier and a culture barrier. I didn't speak their language and I didn't know their culture. These things are very real problems. I couldn't help but think about the fact that back in the States there is no language and culture barriers. This thought spurs me on to be a witness to the community around me. So, I am looking into how I might proceed with this desire.

Thank you for reading my posts. It has been a pleasure writing them. My next and last (I think) post is about the stop in Paris during our return home.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Out to the Village (Trip to Africa - Part 3)

One of the days we were in Chad we went out to a village called N'Gueto.We started out toward 
the Oasis Center where we met with the rest of the team.
Before we left the city, we bought a goat to give to the village. This is Elijah wearing his recently purchased captani.
On the path to the village we saw a herd of camels.
We also saw their primary source of grain, millet. Thousands of acres, all hand planted and hand harvested. Looks like a lot of work. This picture doesn't do it justice. I think a herd of animals had run through this spot. :)
Donkeys are generally used by the women. The men use horses because they are more prestigious. Interesting how Jesus chose to ride a donkey into Jerusalem. There are so many biblical parallels in this society.

As we arrived at the village it was apparent that we had stepped back in time. It was neat to see people working and living in a culture that was operating the same as it had for thousands of years!
Ready for the kill.
All cut up and ready for cooking! Notice the intestines on the skin, that is what they served up for us to eat.             (Sorry to anyone who is grossed out.)

The men lie on reedy rugs while waiting for the food to be served. A traditional meal in Chad would be boiled millet flour, called esh (which is a lot like rice) with a green sauce, moulah (think pureed, boiled okra) poured over it. Sometimes meat would be in the sauce as well.
We journeyed out from the village to look at their animals. This is a flock of sheep.
This young man (probably age 12-15), is the shepherd of this flock. Boys start working as early as 5 in this culture.
These sheep are patiently waiting for a turn at the watering hole. There is no fence holding them back from the water which is only 20 yards away. They have been trained to wait for the shepherd to give them a signal (usually a whistle) then they go running for the water. Amazing!
The cattle there are smaller in size but they didn't seem unhealthy. It is pretty cool that they can survive off of the rough, dry forage that was there. Our cows here at the farm would turn their noses up at that stubble. :)
Calves hanging out at a watering hole. I quickly noticed how much longer the faces are on this type of cattle.
Because of my poultry business, I paid special attention to how they raise chickens. It turns out, the chickens harvest all of their own food and receive little to no care from humans. One neat thing I noticed was that they would gather around cattle and peck the flies off of them. Good source of protein, I suppose. :)
A mother hen foraging with her chicks.
This is a mud pit where bricks are made for building houses. The mud is combined with straw and then forced into a mold. Then they are dried in the sun. They also make red bricks which are cured in a fire.
I was told that in the rainy season, the mud walls would commonly become unsettled by the water and would collapse on people, killing them.
This was a very common tree. It has 3-inch spikes and each includes a poisonous tip which irritates the skin.
From left to right; Jay Craddock, John Holland (the missionary who is currently stationed there), the Sheik (leader of the village), Jack Fuhrmann, me, Josh Fuhrmann, Tim Smith and Elijah Meggs.
I will never forget the things I saw in N'Gueto. It was so amazing! Thanks for reading. I think my next post will be on what the Lord showed me during my time in Chad.

Monday, January 28, 2013

My Trip to Africa - Part 2

One of the days we were in Chad we had the opportunity to go to an orphanage. It was amazing to tour the small compound and to hear the story of Domtiné, the founder. He was inspired to start an orphanage when he read James 1:27.

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans
 and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."
He had plans to buy land and build a nice facility, but when faced with lack of funds he decided that the Lord was telling him to start with what he had. So he opened his own house to orphans and has added more rooms as the money becomes available. They are very reliant upon the Lord for their meals and other needs, much like George Mueller.  
 A small girl drawing water from the well.
Domtiné showing us the nursery.
This is inside one of the boy rooms. Bunk beds line the walls.
The orphanage currently houses over 40 children.
After hearing Domtiné's story I have to ask myself, "What have I done for the sake of the Gospel?"

Very convicting stuff. :)
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Trip to Africa - Part 1

Thank you all for your prayers during my time in Chad. It was a very productive time. I hope to cover, in detail, everything that happened while I was there. It will probably take a few posts, so bear with me.

Our team from left to right: Jack Fuhrmann (the leader of our group), Josh Fuhrmann (his son), Elijah Meggs, Jay Craddock,  myself, and Tim Smith (not pictured).

We flew out of the Roanoke airport, on the 29th, towards Atlanta. We switched to a plane headed for Paris, then on to Chad. All of the sitting around on the airplanes was exhausting. Just still enough to make you sleepy, just uncomfortable enough to keep you from getting any good sleep.

When we finally made it to Chad (which was almost midnight on the 30th) we crashed into our beds. You can imagine that we slept pretty well after spending 30 hours in transit. Notice the mosquito nets.
The place we were staying was very nice. I had imagined that our living arrangements would be kinda rough but the worst factors were only undependable electricity and no hot water. Other than this, it was really nice.
It was great to come back to the compound each evening and unwind.
The next morning we walked through town headed towards the Oasis Center. As we walked we were able to see what the city was like. N'Djamena, the capitol city of Chad, is a lot busier than I would have expected. The roads are full of cars, motorcycles, taxi vans (with the floors rusting out), and people hauling stuff from place to place. They didn't seem to have any enforcement of  law on the road, or maybe they just didn't have any rules, because there was no attempt made to stay in ones own lane and the median was crossed over commonly to reach the destination. Needless to say, I was very happy that I was never required to drive in the traffic.
The northern part of N'Djamena is Muslim, a very moral people. The southern part has some other religious influences and has many bars and nightclubs that the northern part would never tolerate.
Many of the pictures were taken discretely, because the largely Muslim populace frowns upon having pictures taken of them. Much like the Amish.

The Oasis Center is a school that teaches English to individuals looking to come to America or other English speaking countries or someone hoping to work for a company there in Chad that is only hiring those that can speak English. The school is run by Christians, and they try to provide a neutral environment where parents can feel safe that their children aren't being indoctrinated. In the Koran, the reader is encouraged to read the Torah ( first five books of the Bible) and the Ingil ( the four Gospels). Also, among Islams 99 prophets is just about every figure of significance in the Old Testament. This leaves ample space to share the truth of God's Word without crossing the line of "heresy" ( in the Muslim's eyes). The second highest level of English is made up of Old Testament Bible stories that help bring to light the promise of a messiah, and our need for one. The highest level of English is New Testament stories that leave the student fully aware of the Gospel. You would think that with this much biblical teaching we would see hundreds of converts but the reality is that Islam is a very blinding religion and the culture holds family in such high esteem that it is a very radical idea to change religions.
This is one of the school rooms that we had to fix up. Due to some settling in the cement covered mud walls, the ceiling had become uneven. Also, the paneling on the ceiling had some water damage from the rainy season.

We had to reposition the framing in the ceiling so that it would look even.
The next step was putting up new paneling.
After nailing up trim and puttying cracks in the walls, we began to paint.

Here is the final product. I am very pleased with the way it turned out.

We worked on this project almost every morning we spent in Chad. In the afternoon we would do various other things like teaching classes, visiting a village outside the city, going to an orphanage and dropping by some of the locals houses. I hope to cover these and other events in  future posts. Thanks for reading!