About Me

I'm somewhat introverted, I'm a voracious reader, and I love a good conversation. My interests and activities can be found on the right side of the page. My life goal is to use the gifts and talents God has bestowed on me to glorify Him and benefit others.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I need...

I need...

  • To figure out how to transcend the daily grind of some of my responsibilities. I love schedules and planning, and budget my time carefully, yet I often feel like I'm fighting a losing battle and can't keep up with all my homework. It is hard to be able to get it all done, even when I've scheduled every hour of the day.
  • To chill and not take myself and my life so seriously sometimes. I feel often that I’m in a constant battle; on a good day it’s a battle to get everything done and take as much from my day as possible, on a bad day it’s a battle against wrong behaviors and thoughts. So much of life seems to be war. I just need to let God take my burdens, rather than turning to other outlets to numb my stress.
  • To process anger and disappointment in a healthy and normal way. Nine times out of ten if I’m really angry about something, I listen to Korn to get that anger out. I mean, how the heck am I supposed to be totally angry in God’s presence? Do I just go somewhere and yell or what? I know David was completely honest with God, and even expressed very violent and dark wishes concerning the fate of his enemies to God. I’ve been wondering how to do that. I’m just beginning to learn what it is to really open up to people again, and learn to risk disappointment. I feel that part of me is closed off to others; I keep part of myself back in case they don’t come through. I want to know what it means to risk emotional attachment, and I think I’m just coming to that point.
  • To have godly, edifying friendships with women and not be awkward around them. When I have romantic feelings for a girl and she doesn’t reciprocate, I need to be understanding. I should never let having or not having a girlfriend determine my identity, because only Christ can do that. So, I need to have the emotional backbone to just be friends, but I would also like the vulnerability of heart to open up to a woman who would reciprocate. It’s a paradox.
  • To be emotionally honest about how I’m feeling; both with myself and others.
  • To press into God more than I ever have before; for comfort, for solace, for companionship, for understanding, for strength, for joy.
  • To completely leave the past behind, and move on to the future that God has for me.
  • To discard old ways of coping, looking at things-a complete paradigm shift.
  • To find freedom from the old ways of doing things.
  • To be reborn, centered, confident, unafraid, regenerated.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thoughts About True Manhood

Recently I have been contemplating the nature of true manhood. I feel that in the past month or so God has put it on my heart to grow as a man, to study manhood, to mature in certain areas. I’ve been made painfully aware of manly qualities I lack.

One of my favorite examples of true manhood (apart from actual men in my life) is the film Braveheart. For those who don’t know, this film chronicles William Wallace’s liberation of Scotland from England’s tyrannical occupation. Even though I’ve watched it 5,128 times, every time I watch it I feel edified as a man. It’s helped me to identify important traits of manhood that I wish to implement in my life, and even shed light on what the journey to being a man looks like. I hope sharing some of these observations will cause you to give serious thought to what makes a man a man. I’ll also be borrowing many concepts from John Eldredge’s books Fathered by God and Wild at Heart, which have also greatly shaped my journey into manhood.

When we first meet Wallace in the film, he is a young boy living in the Scottish highlands. Like many boys, he has a passion for adventure and roughhousing, and he also has a father who loves him deeply and sets for his son a great example of manhood. However, this idyllic scene is tragically shattered when Wallace’s father and brother are brutally killed in battle.

The boy’s life seems to be crashing down around him; as he stands at his father’s grave, watching shovelful of dirt after shovelful of dirt cast onto the stiff corpse, the harsh realities of life strike his heart. At this moment, the future of the protector of Scotland is uncertain. The man who would’ve been his guide into manhood has perished. Will he give into the numbness that floods his heart, and make a subtle agreement to forever deplore the theft of his childhood?

It’s at this moment that a very young girl named Murron, also present at the funeral, notices his immense grief and attempts to comfort him. She gives him a touching gift and then abruptly leaves. Wallace is very moved by this gesture. Immediately on the heels of this act, however, comes Wallace’s Uncle Argyle, now his guardian in the wake of his father’s death. While Wallace cherishes Murron’s gift, at this point it is Argyle, not Murron, who contributes the most to young Wallace’s development.

I think this is important, specifically as it relates to a man’s relationship to a woman. In order to become a man, the young boy needed to be mentored by his Uncle. Argyle evidently shows Wallace how to become a great man, for the next time we see him, he has grown into a strong warrior. He moves with an obvious strength and confidence, confidence that could have only been gained in this time of trials and testing, proving his competence to himself. It is the humble self-assurance emanating from his eyes, the strength evident in his bearing that draws Murron, his childhood sweetheart, to him. I really can’t say it any better than Eldredge does:

“The masculine journey takes a man away from the woman so that he might return to her. He goes to find his strength; he returns to offer it” (Wild at Heart, 187).

Wallace is only able to properly pursue, marry, and care for Murron because he has already discovered the strength within himself, apart from her. His self-confidence and identity are not determined by the woman in his life; he knows his quality and it shows.

Modern society tells us men that being a man equals having a girlfriend. Although loving a woman correctly is certainly part of being a man, having a girlfriend doesn’t make one a man. I now realize how I continually asked my previous girlfriend, implicitly, to affirm me as a man. This question of manhood is something a woman is not meant to answer, and it is a prerequisite to a successful relationship that the man answers this question for himself before pursuing a woman.

Wallace demonstrates how a man should treat a woman in how he pursues Murron. He has deep conversations with her, listens to her, and gives her gifts that prove he considers her. In this, I would argue that he largely puts her concerns before his own.

Other than the way he treats his woman, Scotland’s protector exemplifies many other qualities essential to great masculinity, such as bravery and a refusal to live according to the status quo. Throughout the film, as Scotland’s greedy nobles squabble amongst themselves for the best position and attempt to negotiate their freedom with the king of England, Wallace remains resolute in his defiance of tyranny. He believes so unshakably in his purpose that he refuses to use the power and influence he possesses to advance his position, knowing that this would be to the detriment of his people. He tells the pampered nobles, “There’s a difference between us. You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom. And I go to make sure that they have it.” He asks Robert the Bruce, “What does it mean to be noble? You’re title gives you claim to the throne of our country, but men don’t follow titles; they follow courage. If you would just lead them to freedom-they’d follow you, and so would I.” He inspires his men in the famous “Braveheart speech” scene, where he casts the vision for the entire country’s need for freedom from oppression. In many ways the film’s portrayal of Wallace reminds me of the biblical portrait of Nehemiah.

Here we see man’s need for a cause to defend, or as Eldredge puts it, a battle to fight. God hard-wired us to serve and protect, and we need to seek Him and his heart for the specific causes he’s put in our lives to fight for!

I’m not saying that we need to walk around with claymores strapped across our backs or grow Scottish warrior mullets; but I do think it is immensely important that we realize our God-given warrior instinct to serve and protect others.

Of course, oftentimes we are not faced with a literal, physical battle; our battlefield is the heart and mind of humanity. We want to fight Satan and the deception he uses to enslave so many of the people around us, and bring people into the knowledge of God.

A major obstacle to fulfilling this objective is the passivity perpetuated by the overtly materialistic and nihilistic American culture we live in. I love my country, but am saddened to see how our culture prioritizes. We get so bogged down in busyness and so insulated by our individual desires we fail to reach out to others.

We need to transcend the inverted priorities the world tells us to adopt, and “abstain from sinful desires, which war against our soul.” We’re to “live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us” (1 Peter 2:11-12). This applies to women as well.

Too often I think we try to conform to the pattern of the world around us and fit in, in an attempt to be “relevant.” While I personally don’t think standing in a crowd and preaching a message of hellfire and brimstone to random strangers is an effective method of evangelism, we still need to be in the world and not of it. The world around us is weary of a steady diet of entertainment and relativism; many people consistently search for a truth that will satisfy in a way none of the other societal fixes ever can. Let’s be loving and patient towards them but at the same time refuse to compromise our message. Let’s show them what true obedience to and trust in Christ looks like.

God Bless you as you strive to continually conform to Christ!

Shane Latham

Friday, July 30, 2010

Idolatry vs. the Divine Nature

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." -2 Peter 1:3-4, NIV.

I've been meditating on these verses recently. Though I've read them before, lately they've struck me with a new forcefulness. Particularly the passages, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness" and "You may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."

This past week, I had the awesome opportunity to hang out with a good friend in Colorado. I (and a few other friends) helped him move in, and he graciously paid all my expenses, including the plane ticket back (thanks for the 100th time, Aaron!). It was a tremendously awesome time, one of the best times I've had in years. For the first time in a few years, I felt as though I was able to completely relax, and lay down all my worries, anxieties, fears, and responsibilities. It was beautifully stress-free, giving me a sorely needed break just before the avalanche of stress and responsibility that will come down on me with the start of the fall semester and my new job.

With this vacation, however, I allowed myself to let my spiritual guard down, deciding to not discipline myself to make time for a devotional in the morning, even failing to include God regularly in my thoughts during the week. The result of course is stress and a feeling of distance from God.

As I read this passage in 2 Peter, however, I'm brought back to how much God NEEDS to be a constant fixation of my life, and how much I require his counsel and presence in my decision making. Humbled by my idolatry, I'm at least thankful that I recognize the huge void in my life when I'm NOT depending on him!!!

It's in these idolatrous times that I make the grave mistake of perceiving time set apart for communing with the Sovereign King of the Universe as a chore, even a preventive measure wrapped in ritual. But time with God is so much more than that! It's not a good luck charm or a duty, it's an incredible, unbelievable privilege.

"He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them we may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."

That's amazing to me, especially the line "we may participate in the divine nature." I'm not a Bible scholar, but to me this implies that we become more and more like God as we meditate and act on the very great and precious promises he has given us. Furthermore, we're told that through God's great and precious promises we can "escape the corruption caused by evil desires."

In light of these great and precious promises, not only can we escape corruption, but we can find strength and energy to add goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance; and also godliness, brotherly kindness, and love to our faith. It seems that as we meditate on Christ's great and precious promises, we receive strength to grow in these moral areas as his followers.

After this, Peter makes a very striking statement when he says, "If you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ...Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Reading this has taught me two things so far: One, we must never take a break from communing with our Lord and meditating on his great and precious promises. Through this, we can escape the corruption caused by evil desires. When our focus is on centered on God, it's much harder for the evil around us to grab our attention. Two, through meditating and acting on these promises we may participate in the divine nature. This is much more than empty ritual or action compelled merely by a sense of duty. This is consecration, regenaration, rebirth. It's through this regular focus on his promises that we are enabled to be effective and productive in our knowledge of God.

So, how have your devotionals been lately? I know from experience that it is so easy to let both the business of life and the laid-back atmosphere of vacation convince us that our time is too valuable to be spent regularly coming into his presence and receiving his strength. I challenge you to take regualr time out of your day to meditate on his great and precious promises, and as you do receive strength to escape corruption and grow as a follower of Jesus in every area of life. Petition him for his divine power, realizing that it gives you everything you need for life and godliness. God Bless!

Shane Latham

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why Daniel is Such a Great Example of Christian Living

I typically don’t discuss current events in my online posts. But this time I will, because I’ve been inspired to draw a parallel between what I’ve been learning in my Christian walk and certain political happenings. I will start with the current events and then segue into the parallel to what God has been teaching me. Whatever your political affiliation, I hope you will benefit from this.

For a long time now there has been serious scholarly study as well as political discussion about the emergence of China as a global superpower and possible contender for America’s hegemonic status. On www.Forbes.com, in an article titled “Yes, China has fully arrived as a superpower”, Shaun Rein states “44% of Americans now believe China is the world’s leading economic power, only 27% of Americans believe the U.S. is.” He takes his statistic from a study done by the Pew Center. While China remains communist in a strict sense, economically it has been experimenting with free-market principles to the point where its government can now be described as state-run capitalism. While the chasm between the rich and poor is still very wide, China has the fastest growing economy in the world.

Now here’s the scary part. In her book China: Fragile Superpower, scholar Susan L.Shirk writes, “China loans most of the dollars it earns from trade to the U.S. government, which uses the money to cover its large budget deficit. If Washington imposed sanctions on China and China retaliated by selling off some of the billions of dollars of American government debt it owns, American interest rates would shoot up, our economy would slow to a crawl, and a global recession could result.” Our economy is in bad enough shape already; just think about what would happen if China decided to sell our debt. Now, critics of this argument say “Oh, but China’s our biggest trading partner! They wouldn’t sell off our debt because they depend on us for trade.” Well, that hypothesis is starting to be questioned. China has actually begun to cut down on its imports. According to the New York Times, “In December, as measured in dollars China’s imports were down 21.3%.” This is especially scary when you consider our government’s plan to boost the economy. In his State of the Union Address, President Obama said, and I quote, “We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America.” Sorry to state the obvious, but if China controls a huge portion of the world market, and they’re cutting down on imports, it’s kind of dubious that increasing our exports will boost our economy.

So here we are. Unemployment is at, what, 10%, and many people fear China’s emergence as the next world superpower. What do we do? Most importantly, how should we as Christians live in response to these happenings? What’s our response to the political upheaval and disturbing events that are unfolding all around us?

Lately, God has led me to read the book of Daniel. I personally think that Daniel is one of the best models of appropriate Christian living period, and I believe his example is especially noteworthy when we as Christians try to respond properly to current affairs.

First off, let’s start with a brief history lesson. The book of Daniel records the account of Babylon’s conquest of Jerusalem: “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar (or, if you prefer the veggie tales version, Nebby K.) king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand…then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility…He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians…they were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. Among these were some men from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach, to Mishael, Meshach, and to Azariah, Abednego.”

Their nation has just been conquered. Their countrymen and families have been slaughtered, they’ve been deported to a foreign country, and their identities as citizens of Judah have been erased. Boy, I can’t wait to turn the page and read about how they rebelled, formed a resistance movement, and escaped!

Just when I thought Daniel was turning into Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, I learn that “The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, so they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.”

Hmm! Seems like the gang isn’t going anywhere! No, instead they devoted themselves to learn about their new environment. Instead of sitting around moping and letting their grief immobilize them, these four men adapted quickly to change and took advantage of the opportunities around them.

Some time later, Nebuchadnezzar has trouble sleeping because of these terrible dreams he’d been having. Since Benadryl hadn’t yet been invented, he turns to his astrologers and says “Yeah, these dreams are really bugging me, and if you don’t interpret them for me, you’re all gonna get whacked and your property’s gonna be destroyed. But if you do interpret my dreams, you’ll get on my good side and be greatly rewarded. No pressure!”

After the astrologers give him an unsatisfactory answer the king sends his number two Arioch, who I seriously doubt would make a great HR representative, to find and kill them all. At this point they’re probably all back at home changing their soiled undergarments.

But Daniel intercedes just in the nick of time. We’re told he speaks to Arioch with “wisdom and tact,” and convinces him that he should spare the astrologers, because God has granted him the ability to interpret the king’s dream. Giving God the credit, Daniel interprets the king’s dream accurately and consequently “the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.”

Through all these changes, Daniel shows great integrity and honesty. He’s tight with the king, lives in the lap of luxury and materially has everything he could ever want or need. Yet he risks all of his material comforts, not to mention his life, for the sake of honesty. He tells the king “Renounce your sins by doing what is right and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be then that your prosperity will continue.” I’ve often wondered if one of the reasons the king kept Daniel so close to him was because of his unapologetic honesty, a rare trait that must have stood out in stark contrast to the sycophantic appeasement of his other advisors.

Fast forward. Daniel is now serving under Darius, new king of Babylon. At this point he is over eighty years old. Yet we’re told Daniel “so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom” (Daniel 6:3, NIV). Daniel makes enemies at work just by being efficient, and so his colleagues try to find grounds for charges against him. But alas, they “could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent” (Daniel 6:4). So, realizing they can’t touch his job performance, they conspire to attack his faith and persuade the king to enact legislation banning prayer to anyone but King Darius. What was Daniel’s response? We’re told “when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened towards Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Notice what this passage does not say. It doesn’t say, “When Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where he hopped on the internet and ranted and raved on a blog about the unfairness of the government.” His first response to antichristian government is prayer. Of course, we all know the rest of that story: Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den for failing to obey the irreversible legislation, and God miraculously rescues him.

My final point in the book of Daniel concerns chapter nine. In chapter nine, Daniel understands from the Scripture that the desolation of Jerusalem will last seventy years. Rather than deciding to live out the rest of his days in an underground bunker stockpiling weapons (ha ha), Daniel drops to his knees. He prays, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we have sinned and done wrong…All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. Our sins and the iniquities of our fathers have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us. Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your name.”

Knowing that Israel is God’s chosen nation, I don’t want to equate America with Israel in God’s grand scheme of things, but I think that we in America could benefit greatly from applying this prayer to our nation. 2 Chronicles 7:14 states, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Proverbs enlightens us, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). I think we can all learn a lot from Daniel’s example. I know that if my country was invaded by a foreign power, I was deported and my identity was erased, I would be tempted to wallow in my grief and render myself ineffective. Taking stock of the situation and choosing to learn what I could, while maximizing my influence in that place, would probably be the furthest thing from my mind. Yet that is what we see Daniel do.

I think even more applicable to our lives today are Daniel’s qualities of resolve, honesty, trustworthiness, uncomplaining attitude, resilience, creative problem solving, and wisdom. If when faced with difficult situations we chose to act with resolve as well as tact, as Daniel did in amending his diet so as not to compromise his convictions, I believe the world would see Christians in a different light. I think if in all our tasks at our jobs we “worked at them will all our hearts, as though working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:17), our unbelieving co-workers would recognize us as set apart from the rest. What a testament it would be to the world if we had the honesty with our friends, families and co-workers that Daniel had with a king that ruled the world with unlimited earthly power.

Resolving to not complain is another huge way to set ourselves apart from the rest and distinguish ourselves for God. Perhaps, like Daniel, these godly characteristics will take us to high places and grant us the favor of powerful people; but we should not let earthly rewards be our motivator. Daniel didn’t seek out wealth and prosperity; these were by-products of a disciplined life lived for God.

So, to bring this all full circle: we can learn a lot from Daniel’s example as we try to navigate these difficult times we live in. Even if the balance of power radically shifts in our lifetime, we can embrace prayer and disciplined Christian living to set an example for those around us and lead our nation back to God. As each day our world seems to spin more and more out of control, as the economy worsens and international events challenge us, we can make the choice to emulate Daniel and represent God at our jobs, at home and at school. Rather than complaining about the unfairness of our government, pray for our national and local leaders, that they would accept Him and let Him guide their decisions. Make a point to disciple and rise up people in your sphere of influence that can fight against the tide of mediocrity that keeps so many unmotivated, uninformed and uninvolved in the politics of their nation and the lives of those around them. Recognize your performance in your job and at school as an example and witness to those around you. Educate yourself about the state of our nation; discuss and explore ways to impact your community for Christ.

The world is changed one person at a time. Jesus changed the entire world through twelve men. Ask God to reveal to you people whom you can work with and through to effect change in your community or sphere of influence, and actively exhort them to follow Christ.

God bless you as you seek to emulate Daniel and honor Christ with your life.

Shane Latham

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Inspiration in the Life of Daniel.

So today, God led me to read the book of Daniel. I've read it before, but as I dug into it today God really highlighted the inspirational habits, admirable qualities, and awesome life of this man of God. I've compiled a list of the qualities that stood out the most to me. Anybody have any ideas of how we can live these qualities out in our own lives?

• He had resolve in refusing to defile himself (Daniel 1:8).
• He was able to negotiate without compromising (Daniel 1:8).
• He creatively solved problems (Daniel 1:12-13).
• He had wisdom (Daniel 2:14).
• He had tact (Daniel 2:14).
• He adapted quickly to change and took advantage of opportunities (Daniel 1:19-20).
• He realized that it’s lonely at the top-so he brought reliable companions with him who could
assist him (Daniel 2:49).
• He was honest (Daniel 4:27).
• He was trustworthy (Daniel 6:4)
• He gave credit to God (Daniel 2:27-30).
• He was not corrupt (Daniel 6:4).
• He was not negligent (Daniel 6:4).
• He distinguished himself by his exceptional qualities (Daniel 6:3).
• He didn’t complain about things beyond his control; instead his first response was to pray for
them (Daniel 6:10).
• He didn’t chase after prestige or wealth; instead he did everything with excellence and worldly
success became a by-product of this attitude (Daniel 5:17, 29).
• He had a disciplined prayer life (Daniel 6:10).
• He had a repentant heart and interceded for his nation (Daniel 9:4-20).
• He set his mind to gain understanding (Daniel 10:12).
• He humbled himself before God (Daniel 10:12).

God Bless!

Shane Latham

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thoughts about music.

The average teen hears 10,500 hours of music between grades 7 and 12. That equals more than 14 months nonstop.

-Taken from Focus on the Family’s Boom: a Guy’s Guide to Growing Up

Music is such a powerful medium now. The kids don’t even know who the president is, but they know what’s on MTV. I think if anyone like Hitler or Mussolini were alive now, they would have to be rock stars.

-shock rocker Marilyn Manson

Those are amazing observations, especially to someone like me. See, I love listening to music. While I am not a musician, I am one of those people who seem to have headphones surgically attached to my ears. Most days I listen to hour’s worth of music as I’m going to and from class, driving, or hanging out at home. Guitar greats such as Jimmy Page, Joe Satrianni and Rudolph Shenker give me an uncontrollable urge to air guitar-even in public! I listen to almost everything (except country music-some music is just evil, after all): rock, punk, emo, screamo, techno, rap, hip-hop, classic rock, folk, instrumental.
While I do not believe that listening to music is wrong in itself, God has shown me recently that it can be easy to let it become something it shouldn’t be. More specifically, He’s revealed to me how much I use music as an escape and a way to vent. For instance, when I get really ticked off, one of my immediate reactions is to get in my car and drive somewhere, cranking some heavy, super angry tunes a hair below the “if this doesn’t make your eardrums bleed nothing will” level. Upon further reflection, I’ve discovered that listening to this angry music when I’m hacked off makes me feel that someone shares my frustration; it allows me to escape and vent without confronting the real reason why I’m upset. Also, this practice reinforces my already angry attitude, tempting me to wallow in misery rather than ask Jesus to “lift me out of the pit” (Psalm 40). For this reason, I really believe that it is important to monitor and be selective about what we listen to. I don’t think that any particular style of music is bad; I don’t personally believe that hard rock music is straight from hell or anything like that. I would even go as far to suggest that darkness has its place in Christian music (many of David’s psalms express anger, anguish, and hopelessness, though he turns to God at the end of most). But again, I think it is immensely important that we watch what we listen to. This is coming from a guy who has listened almost exclusively to secular hard rock radio stations since he was 14 and for years has used the excuse that “it’s just a song; the lyrics don’t really matter.” Lest you think I’m a prude who just doesn’t understand how much angry music rocks, you should know that Rage Against The Machine has long been one of my favorite bands. If you’re one of their millions of fans, you know that there is simply no substitute for Tom Morello’s guitar style and Zach de la Rocha’s incendiary vocals. You also know that they are one of the most hateful, profane, violent, and anti-establishment bands in the history of music, period. When you are very angry and need a song that expresses those feelings, there is simply no substitute for cranking RATM’s “killing in the name of” or “how I could just kill a man” up to level 10.
Yet, no matter how much I feel that this is helping me vent, is it really the right thing to do? As a Christian, should I be filling my head with musical pollution such as this? Regardless of your personal beliefs, it’s a fact: What we believe determines how we behave. It has always been and will always be this way. Does that mean that if I listen to a song advocating the use of violence to solve problems, I’m guaranteed to go out and copy the actions of the lyricist? Of course not, any more than someone who plays a violent video game is guaranteed to go out and commit mass murder. But even if I don’t do these things, I’m subconsciously lowering my standards and allowing my attitude to be influenced negatively.
Colossians 3:7-8 states, “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Another pertinent verse, Romans 12:2, admonishes us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Think about that verse, especially that last part. I might be going out on a limb here, but I think it says that because then we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is. ;-)- As we allow ourselves to be continually transformed, stretched, and molded by our Father, we become more in tune with His will as he removes those things in our lives that hinder us from hearing from Him.
Like I said, for years I have ignored this red flag in my life. God is at a point right now where he is seriously challenging me to give up my sinful ways, to put to death my sin nature and rely solely on Him (isn’t He always doing that?) God calls us as his followers to be sanctified, set apart for Him and His work. I would challenge you to examine areas in your life where you turn to something other than God for help. Ask Him to help reveal those areas, and as He does, examine the deeper motives and possible emotions behind those places. What’s the underlying reason for that action? Ask God, as David did, with complete trust: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” -Psalm 139:23-24.

God Bless!

Shane Latham
Updated on Monday · Comment ·LikeUnlike