Rush – “Something for Nothing”

I recently saw the band Rush in concert.  The audience was almost all male and 30+ years in age.  Pretty, funny.

rush 2012

They didn’t play my favorite songs, “Working Man,” “Take a Friend,” “Here Again,” or “The Necromancer.”  But at least they played part of 2112.  So I made a burn CD for my car, I know I still burn CDs, and before that recorded mixed tapes, so I could hear the songs they didn’t play.

I decided to put most of Rush’s album, 2112, on this burn CD, including the song, “Something for Nothing.”  Here are the lyrics to the song:

SomethingForNothingI disagree that “you can’t get something for nothing.”  Grace that comes from God is free to us.  But I’d agree that nothing is free!

Grace is free!  True or False?

Uh, yes, and no!

For us, God’s grace is free.  For God, grace is not free.  The Father had to send his Son.  The Son made the ultimate sacrifice of taking on flesh and being made in human likeness, despite the fact that he is by very nature, God!  That alone is massive sacrifice.  To imagine, God himself, creator of all, in the person of Jesus Christ, defenseless, helpless, as an infant, babe in the arms of his mother.  Imagine, God, who never grows tired or weak, sleepy, thirsty, and hungry, through the incarnation of the person of Jesus Christ.  God who cannot die, who cannot bleed, innocently, cruelly, being beat, tortured, dying, a humiliating death on a Roman cross at the hands of creation, FOR HIS CREATION.  No Grace (God’s riches at Christ’s expense) is not FREE!  Not for God.  Free for us, yes, but it’s not for God.

Just some thoughts I had listening to Rush last night in car.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – What is the object of saving faith?

A song that I really despise is Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”  I don’t even know if that is the name of the song, but I’m sure anyone reading this will know the song I am talking about.  Usually if I mention a song, I’ll add a Youtube clip of the song to the blog, but in this case, no, no I will not!  I don’t know the song well enough to even begin to tell you the context of the chorus, but it seems like what is called fideism, which is essentially faith stands alone apart from reason or philosophy.  Faith trumps all.  Just believe.  Just have faith.  Faith in faith.  But what’s the object of the faith?  Don’t stop believing, Journey?  Don’t stop believing in what?

Worst Neeson movie I have ever seen.

I watched the worst Liam Neeson movie, The Grey, in a movie theater.  I know anyone else who has shared this experience is probably cringing right now.  That movie – that movie – oh man… it was bad.  In a holy crap we are all about to die talk around a fire, the one character in the bunch who seems to believe in God, although we don’t learn which God, he seems more like a Deist, because God forbid there is a strong Christian character in a Hollywood movie, tells Neeson’s character, “What about your faith?  You got to have faith. You can’t lose faith”  I wanted to puke – Faith in what?  Faith in whom?  “Just don’t stop believing?”  And most people probably have no problem with this, because they don’t realize that who, or what, we have faith in matters!  Pluralism has made all beliefs co-equal and co-valid.  The sincerity of your faith doesn’t matter!  It’s the dependability of the object of your faith!

A famous saying that emerged from the Reformation is “By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by Scripture alone with glory to God alone.”  This is pulled from Ephesians 2:8-9.  However the word Christ, or Jesus, is not found in these two verses.  Christ is implied, and to the implication comes from the rest of Scripture.  Enjoy looking these verses up and I pray that the Holy Spirit will create, work, sustain, and strengthen faith in your life!

Ephesians 2:8-9 (New International Version)

8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.

Faith in what, or whom?

Galatians 2:21

Romans 4:5

Romans 3:21-24

Romans 3:28

2 Timothy 1:9

Hebrews 11:6

Galatians 2:16

Titus 3:7

Scott Stapp – Singer of the band Creed writes Christian memoir – Sinner’s Creed.

Creed’s first album, My Own Prison.

Does anyone remember Scott Stapp?  Or the band Creed?  I think it’s a testimony to the impermanence of this world.  At one point in time, I couldn’t listen to the radio without hearing a song by the band Creed.  The band hit popularity as I was exiting high school.  I bought the band’s first album, because it was on a mega-sale, and I was interested in it for some reason.  A song on that album spoke about a courtroom judgment, and the singer’s sins were on trial, and how he cried out for help above and saw a vision of the cross.  The song’s chorus was “Should’ve been dead on a Sunday morning, banging my head, no time for mourning, ain’t got no time.”  There are also a lot of cryptic words and language in the song, which really made the meaning incomprehensible to me, but it certainly seemed influenced by Christ and his death and resurrection for the sins of the world!

The next time I heard Creed, it was the song, “Higher.”  Clearly this one was about heaven;

Creed’s second album, Human Clay.

it had to be.  But was this a Christian band?  It was too hard to tell.  I didn’t hear the name of Jesus in any of the songs, and God was never clearly defined.  I always sort of heard that they were a Christian band, but sometimes the actions of the lead singer that hit the news didn’t match what is typically considered Christian, especially for someone who is on such a public platform, especially the “sex tape” that came out that featured both Stapp and Kid Rock.  I never investigated the material in it or made much attention to it, but I’m pretty sure it emerged about the time the band broke up, and I always placed the video with the demise of the band.  I thought that maybe the other members of the band got fed up with Stapp’s actions, if they were all Christian.

Well from an article just published by Christianity Today, I discovered that Stapp was the only Christian in the band Creed!  And that the others in the band were the reason that the band wasn’t a “Christian” band, and maybe why Stapp wasn’t more vocal about his faith.  From the article, it seems that Stapp has come full circle, from alcoholism, physically abusing his wife, and overcoming and forgiving past abuse from his step-father.

He completely comes clean in a new memoir about his life.  As Christians, we might look at it as, why are you airing your dirty laundry, but many of us haven’t been in the public eye like Stapp – I mean, there was a time, when Creed might have been the most popular rock band releasing new albums, and for all intensive puposes, Stapp was the draw for the band.  His voice and lyrics led the direction of the band, for Creed it wasn’t as much the music that did the talking, but Stapp, especially since there was so much talk about the band being a “Christian” band.  I’m sure for Stapp, looking back at the drunkenness, sex tape scandal, and physical abuse to his wife, all of this really hurt not just his image, but the image of Christ!  And I think in this memoir, he’s really come clean and just saying, “Man I’m a sinner, like all of you, and all of us have a gracious savior, Jesus Christ.”

Stapp is now alcohol free for a little over a year, and Creed is back together.  It’s not the first time Stapp has been sober for this long.  In the Christianity Today article Stapp says:

A little over one year. I used to be very naïve about the fact that alcoholism is a disease, and that there are things I need to do proactively every day to manage that and prevent relapses. Prior to a relapse a year ago, it had been a year-and-a-half. And prior to that, it had been two years. It’s part of the disease, but all I know is that as long as I do what it takes every day and surrender myself to God, I’ll be OK.

Being involved in the program [for recovering alcoholics] has helped me rediscover my relationship with God, because in these programs, God is the center. Now they may call him a “higher power,” but I tell you, I needed a new foundation with God. I needed to throw everything out the window and start over. I’ve been humbled where I needed to be humbled. I was an egomaniac with an inferiority complex, and I needed to hit bottom.

Concerning the help, Stapp got from God in his battle with alcoholism, and I’m sure handling the fame he received from Creed, Stapp says:

God is the miracle heart surgeon, and he gives the best heart transplants in the world. There are no scars on the outside, and the scars on the inside just make us better Christians and help us help others. I really feel that I got the needed heart transplant, and now it’s just fresh and alive, full of love and grace and understanding.

Concerning his bandmates, Stapp shares:

Those guys have openly confessed their atheism and tried to distance themselves as far from God as possible. But I’m continuing to pray and believe in my heart that God put me with these guys for a reason. I hope my life and testimony will speak to them, that God is real. I’m praying for that.

Let’s pray that Creed can get back on top of the charts, that Stapp’s book helps people who don’t know Christ come to understand that Stapp though a Christian was just as broken as others and that God has forgiven him and restored him and has that in-store for all of us, and that Stapp’s life can show Christians that we’re not any better than the world apart from Christ in us, our hope and glory, and that we can mingle with non-Christians and still proclaim Christ and not be ashamed of sharing our faith, even when we are caught red-handed with our sins.  I think Stapp’s battle with alcoholism also shows our battle with sin in general, that we will fight, fight, fight, and win, win, win in the struggle, but then we’ll succumb, and we’ll have to repent, and it’s a vicious cycle that often continues for a very long time, and when one sin is finally put in the grave, God shows us the next sin in our lives that we had all the while we were struggling with the first sin, but we weren’t aware of it at the time.  God chips away at our sinful nature, one strike at a time, as he sculpts us into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ.

To read the article, “The Confessions of Scott Stapp,” click go here.

Rip Van Winkle Fell Asleep

I heard a song called, “Rip Van Winkle” and a line in the song says, “He went to sleep” and “When he woke he had grown old, he had grown old.” Here are some of the thoughts that came from hearing that song:

A barren, rock valley is filled with a sea of monsters.  Blood-thirsty vampires share company with werewolves and various undead beings of the night.  Ogres, goblins, and demonic figures of various sizes, shapes, and colors wield swords, clubs, spears, axes, and maces.  Some of them sit upon ferocious, dragon-like creatures.  They all gazed up the slopes of the valley.  Deep, angry growls filled the air.  Yellow-stained fangs gnashed.  In rage, they even tore at their flesh with razor-sharp claws.  Their hatred was channeled upon a band of humanity on top of the valley wall.  A great battle is about to erupt, except none of the men are ready for battle.  They stand empty-handed in their daily clothing: doctors, lawyers, farmers, construction workers, truck drivers, students, clerks, baristas, and others.  Fear grips them all.  Their enemies below are thirsty for blood.

From nowhere, a man atop a majestic white horse appears in the midst of the hopeless resistance, if they should even be called that.  He is clothed in a white robe with a breastplate of sparkling stones, twelve stones, just like the breastplate worn by the high priests of ancient Israel.  The evil army’s confidence vanishes at his entrance.  Smiles came to the men; they knew this man, and so does the demonic horde below.  The rider is Jesus.  At once, the rag tag battalion atop of the valley is adorned in white robes and similar breastplates, each now with a sword in hand. With Jesus, their fear is gone.  The white horse sprang up onto its hind legs to fall into a gallop down the valley walls.  The Christians surge down with him to greet the army of darkness in battle.  That’s when my friend awoke.

This dream, which my friend Danny had during the summer of 2010, is reminiscent of the famous Battle at Helm’s Deep in J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings.  The men of Rohan were greatly outnumbered against the dark forces of the Wizard Saruman.  It likely would be the last battle for the Rohirrim, but at the break of dawn, the Wizard Gandalf appeared mounted on a white horse with reinforcements, only a thousand strong, but with the light of the rising sun they charged to meet the darkness of evil.  Darkness chose to flee into the forest where they were slaughtered.  For J.R.R. Tolkein, who was a Christian, this scene must have symbolized the Light of the World, Jesus, breaking into the darkness of Satan’s kingdom.

Dreams as vivid as Danny’s, which serve as alarm clocks to arouse the dreamer to the spiritual war of this life, aren’t given to all dreamers.  The mythologies and fantasies of men throughout the ages serve as additional wake up calls to the supernatural battle between good and evil.  Too many people hit the snooze button and choose to sleep like Rip Van Winkle.  In case you aren’t familiar with Washington Irving’s story, Rip was quite a lazy fellow who avoided profitable work.  When America was still under British rule, he went into the Catskill Mountains with his dog and rifle.  Intending to only take a short nap in the woods, Rip fell asleep for twenty years.  When he awoke, he discovered that he had slept through all of the American Revolution.  Life had passed him by.  Are we going to be like Rip?  Will we be disinterested in the important chores of life? Will we sleep through the war over the souls of men? Or will we choose to fight like the heroes of Seventy-Six, the men of Rip’s days who joined the revolution?

If the conjectures that can be drawn from these images are correct, there is a battle of epic proportions occurring in this present life.  Embracing such imagery and applying it to my life is simple for me.  My favorite movies involve bloodshed, and as a rather competitive man, who loves contact sports, I live life with an aggressive mindset and attitude.  The application of this battle imagery isn’t as easily digested for everyone.  Society as a whole is stepping away from engaging conflict and controversy.  Ignoring contradictions in various worldviews and seeking pluralism at the cost of the exclusive truth-claims is becoming normative.  Political diplomacy, harmony, tolerance, compromise, and assimilation are far more accepted and approved when conflicts arise, not just in international matters, but within all facets of life.  The code of the Wild Wild West is dead.  Keeping up with the Kardashians and other stars of reality shows is of higher importance than following conflicts in the Middle-East.    The image of the Church being an army and Christians being at war isn’t a popular message for the masses.   However, when dealing with teachings of the church, revelation trumps feelings, popularity, and the spirit of the age.

It should go without saying that pizza-inspired dreams and fictional fantasies shouldn’t be the driving force behind Church teachings on the battle between God’s light and Satan’s darkness, but if such widely accepted myths are actually symbols of a real struggle, then what parts should be taken literally, and which images are only metaphorical?  Personal tastes need to be set aside and God’s Word must become the source and norm of Christian theology.

Or here is another call to “Wake Up!”

Alice Cooper

alice cooper on stage

Alice Cooper speaking on his faith in Jesus Christ and Christians are called to follow God (taken from “Alice Cooper is a Christian” published in Jesus Journal Tuesday March 28th, 2006):

I was pretty much convinced all my life that there was just one God and there was Jesus Christ and there was the Devil.

You couldn’t believe in God without believing in the Devil. I always tell bands that the most dangerous thing you can do is to believe in the concept of the Devil or the concept of God, because you’re not giving them full credit. When you believe in God, you’ve got to believe in the all-powerful God. He’s not just God, He’s the all-powerful God and He has total control over everyone’s life. The Devil, on the other hand, is a real character that’s trying his hardest to tear your life apart. If you believe that this is just mythology, you’re a prime target because you know that’s exactly what Satan wants: To be a myth. But he’s not a myth, of this I’m totally convinced. More than anything in the world, I’m convinced of that.

We have to make a choice. And everybody, at some point in their lives, has to make that choice. When people say, ‘How do you believe this? Why do you believe this?’ I just say nothing else speaks to my heart. This doesn’t speak to my intellect, it doesn’t speak to my logic – it speaks right to my heart and right to my soul, deeper than anything I’ve ever thought of. And I totally believe it. That being said, I’m not a very good Christian. I mean, none of us are ever ‘good’ Christians. That’s not the point. When you’re a Christian, it doesn’t mean you’re gonna be good, it means you’ve got a harder road to pull.

I’m the first one to rock as loud as I can, but when it comes to what I believe, I’m the first one to defend it too.  It has also gotten me in trouble with the staunch Christians who believe that in order to be a Christian you have to be on your knees 24 hours a day in a closet somewhere. Hey, maybe some people can live like that, but I don’t think that’s the way God expected us to live. When Christ came back, He hung out with the whores, the drunks and miscreants because they were people that needed Him. Christ never spent His time with the Pharisees.

 

It’s obvious humanity is craving for answers directly born of awareness.  That’s the healthiest thing I’ve seen in a long time because there is something better and everybody’s gotta find it in their own way. People aren’t feeling fulfilled by how many cars they own or the size of their stock portfolio. Even the addicts are saying, ‘It doesn’t matter how many drugs I take, I’m not fulfilled. This isn’t satisfying.’ There’s a spiritual hunger going on. Everybody feels it. If you don’t feel it now, you will. Trust me. You will.

I like the comment that Alice made about there not being any “good” Christians.  We tend to rank Christians in categories such as “good,” “bad,” “serious,” “kind of,” “hard core,” and “some what” Christian.  The truth is there really are just two classifications, “Christian” and “Not Christian.”  The moment a person has faith in Christ, that person is a Christian and has salvation.  Alice also nails that we’re always looking for love in the all the wrong places!  Even Christians fall into this trap from time to time, but Jesus and what he offers is the only way we can be satisfied, because what he offers is eternal; it’s permanent!

Some might have problems with Alice’s stage antics and image but I know that he has said in other interviews that he doesn’t sing any of his old songs that encourage or glorify drunkeness, drugs, or adulteress sex anymore.  He also sees that what he is doing is showing people that evil is real, that Satan is real through his work, countering the idea that Satan is just a myth as he spoke about in the interview above.

I also find it inspiring that as the grandfather of “shock rock,” Alice is mentoring and speaking Jesus into the lives of the younger generation of rockers who are following in his genre and style.  I read another interivew of his once that indicated that he didn’t think that his stage show was the place to speak his faith, but that he does it a lot one on one backstage.  Isn’t it rad that he is getting to share his faith like this, that there is a Christian that some non-Christian rock artists respect and look up to as a pioneer in their field?  My gut is that he should be more vocal about his faith on the stage, but maybe he has a good take on what his ministry actually is and there are numerous interviews and articles like the one I have quoted on-line.

BTW, Alice Cooper ran for president of the US once!

alice and slash