9 Hopeful Signs That Christian Music isn’t Completely Dead

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Much about the Christian music scene has been depressing in recent years. Mainly because there really isn’t a “Christian music scene” per se. Not really. Not like the scene that I encountered in 1996. And honestly, that’s probably a good thing. That scene was a bit crazy, self-involved, and had little to do with Jesus.

When I was working at CCM magazine, the writing on the wall became rather clear. Christian music was dying. The reasons why that’s true vary according to who you talk to. My opinion? Worship music killed Christian music. The worship music movement slowly, over time, suffocated the true creatives out of record deals, pushing them to the fringes of the music scene to fend for themselves. It wasn’t personal. It was business. Christian radio started limiting their playlists to include artists like Chris Tomlin, Mercy Me, and Casting Crowns. And while they might be nice people with good voices, their music is safe for the whole family. And nothing stifles a creative scene like safety. And for a long while, there’s been a serious lack of good spiritual music coming out of Nashville. Sure, there have been a record here and there… but nothing that seemed to suggest a true revival might be happening.

Some people think that the Christian music scene is pointless anyway. I disagree. While some Christian music is downright dreadful, Christian music gave me a lot of hope when I was a kid trapped in Christian fundamentalism. From my world, Christian music was a window to an outside world, a place where Jesus still had issues but nothing like the issues he had in my world. Christian music opened my eyes to different ways of thinking. It pushed me to explore theology. It challenged my worldview. It caused me to feel God’s presence in a way that I wasn’t accustomed to… Christian music isn’t perfect. And at times, it’s downright awful. However, it also created an environment that allowed me to be introduced to artists and songs that helped me believe that Jesus was bigger and more gracious and more hopeful than what I’d been taught for most of my life.

But Hillsong music isn’t going to do that. It might make me “feel” emotionally connected to God in the moment, it does not have the creative power or means to push minds and hearts to think and experience God differently. It doesn’t have the ability to create dialogue about theology, about culture, and about philosophy. And I’m sorry, Jesus Culture isn’t going to make music that spearheads anything more than fairy dust and goosebumps. But a true artist who’s passionate about life and faith and art and truth can cause you to not only think outside your comfortable box but experience worship at the same time.

But signs of hope might be on the horizon. There’s a handful of artists, songs, and rumors about artists and songs that make me wonder if there’s a springtime coming for music about faith and spirituality. While there’s no guarantee, here are few reasons why I think a new birth of creativity might be happening Christian music…

1) John Mark McMillan’s “Borderland”

That’s just the first single. The whole album is an amazing collection of intricately constructed songs. Click the picture below to view the record at Amazon.

2) Ellie Holcomb “As Sure As the Sun”

Holcomb’s “As Sure As the Sun” is a hopeful collection of melodies and words, a bright collection that’s filled with mystery and production intricacies. Listen to more at Amazon.

3) Shawn McDonald’s new song “We Are Brave”

You can sample it here. It will be a little too pop for some, but it’s so dang catchy. Definitely give it a listen.

4) Jars of Clay “Inlandia”

Yes, it’s Jars of Clay. And they’ve been around for 20+ years. But a bright path can’t all be spearheaded by newly discovered talent, some of it must come from longtime musicians and artists. And with this remix EP of their record “Inland,” Jars of Clay showcases they’re amazing ability to evolve with age (Check out the record at iTunes.

5) Sarah Masen’s “Trying Mark”
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One of Nashville’s most poetic storytellers finally released some new music last year. If you’re not familiar with Sarah Masen’s previous efforts, check out these two songs: Carry Us Through and one of the best songs about faith ever written, Wrap My Arms Around Your Name (listen below).

You can download Sarah’s newest songs at NoiseTrade for free…

6) And Nichole Nordeman is rumored to be working on new music. And that is good news indeed. Nobody writes songs about God and faith like Nichole. If you need reminding, listen to “Hold On” from her 2005 record “Brave”:

Other bright signs…

-Gungor’s “I Am Mountain”

-Brooke Fraser’s got new music coming soon.

-NEEDTOBREATHE’s new record releases next month

And again, these are just signs of a little creative life happening among Christians making music about God, life, faith…

How about you? Have any “signs” of your own?

When X Marks Nothing: Some Thoughts About Social Media Christianity

Last Thursday, as I was scanning Instagram, I noticed that a number of my good friends were posting pictures of the letter X. Some wrote X on their hands. Others wore t-shirts or hats featuring X. One guy even put an X on his forehead.

Suddenly, after seeing all of my friends posting their Xs, I felt compelled to Instagram my own X.

To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure why everybody was putting Xs on their bodies and showcasing them online. Still, I started thinking about what my X would look like, how I would display it, what app I should use, and what filter would make it look cool(er).

Of course, I assumed it was a good cause, and I was pretty sure, based on the tweets and comments, that the X meme involved trafficking or slavery. But at the time, the only thing I knew about the End It Movement was the hashtag.

But not wanting to appear uninformed or uninterested or uninvolved, I quickly created my X and posted it on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Afterward, I Googled “End it movement” to make sure it was a decent cause, and it was, so I started writing/editing and didn’t think about my X for the rest of the day.

Not a big deal, right?

Sure, it was fake, an action caused more by peer pressure as opposed to passion.

But it’s just an X. And it’s for a good cause—to end slavery!

And yet it’s just an X, that for me was more about fitting in, the appearance that I am truly concerned about the millions of people around the world who are victims of various types of slavery. If I’m truthful, my X did nothing to bring awareness to slavery. It just made me look involved, look informed, and look like I was somehow passionate about the war to end slavery…

And I am passionately against slavery. I mean, I want to be anyway. I’d love to see it come to an end. Because I hate slavery… but I also rarely wake up thinking about how much I hate slavery, about how much God hates slavery.

Sometimes I’m far more Christ-minded online than I am in real life. Online, I stand up for what I believe to be right causes. I stand against what I believe are bad ideas. I promote my beliefs and thoughts about God with passion, emotion, and the occasional big words.

Sometimes my social media Christianity is far more engaged and aware and fearless than my real life faith.

Though I sincerely try to never say or promote or write anything online that I don’t believe or believe in, I fail sometimes. Sometimes I fall prey to using other people’s good ideas or good causes or some aspect of the Christian faith to promote me as opposed to those ideas and causes. Again, but for some of my sarcasms and punch lines, I do my best to only promote or retweet ideas/causes that I believe in…

I mean, I believe in what the X stands for. I believe in it wholeheartedly. But still, that X doesn’t reflect my real life passions… ending slavery is not something I wake up thinking about or go to sleep worrying about…

But it’s just an X, right? Yeah, for me, it’s just an X. But for others, that X represents a travesty that they shed tears over. It represents a concept that they are engaged in, informed about, and passionately pushing to resolve. So no, it’s not just an X. Not for a whole bunch of passionate people dedicated to ending slavery.

I don’t want to be just a “good cause” advocate on social media. If I promote a cause online, I want my words to reflect a part, even if it’s just a small part, of who I am or what I do or what I support in real life.

My feeds are buzzing with a plethora of social media Christianity, people making big statements about God, life, and faith online. And it’s so easy, regardless of who we are—from progressive Christians to conservative Christians to Christians who fall somewhere in the middle—to fall prey to using God and Christianity simply as tools to promote us, to reflect an ideal online that in truth, doesn’t come close to portraying who we are in real life…

Because it’s not just an X. It’s an idea or cause or belief that, on some level, affects real people…

So please, let’s not make it about us forgive me for making it about me.

The most hate-filled church sign I’ve ever seen (maybe hell does exist)

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If hell exists, I believe it’s for religious people who put up signs like this in front of their churches…

And for people like those in Arizona whose love for God fills them up with such hate that they work toward creating inhumane laws and legislation against strangers, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members (who are gay)…

Hell might exist for the American Christians whose influence and money helped Uganda pass laws making it against the law to be homosexual…

But honestly, these kinds of people are already experience some form of hell, a hell defined by ignorance and fear and anger, a hell that they don’t wake up in but rather one that rages inside of them…

Friends, we better start speaking up… Christians who remain silent about the “faith-based hate” that is spewing out of the mouths and hearts of their “brothers and sisters in Christ” are a part of the problem… People who refuse to stand up for our GLBTQ brothers and sisters are a part of the problem…

YOU might be a part of the problem. Just by saying and doing nothing.

You might not make the church signs…

You might not tweet hateful words on Twitter…

You might not vote in favor of anti-gay legislation…

You might not even know where Uganda is…

But if you’re not speaking up against the “American Christian evangelical anti-gay hate” machine that seems to be raging out of control in this country, then…

You.

Are.

A part.

Of the problem.

Standing up against the hate is bigger and more important than your doctrines and theologies. It’s bigger and more important than whether or not you might piss off a family member… it’s bigger and more important than the relationship between you and your church… Standing up for our GLBTQ brothers and sisters should be our doctrine, our theologies, and a good and holy and natural part of our relationship with the Church…

If hell exists, I believe it’s reserved for people who do evil in the name of God, who hate in the name of God, who use God as a reason to be ignorant and prejudice and intolerant and anti-gay…

Please. Speak out against the Christian hate against gays. Vote against it. Challenge it.

Shut.

It

Down.

SOURCE

Take up your cross: the uncircumcised call of Christ

This is a post by Morgan Guyton…

 

Take up your cross and follow me.

That’s what Jesus tells his followers to do. Those words offer a basic summary of what the Christian life is about. Most of us translate “take up your cross and follow me” to be about making sacrifices—you know, not doing things that other people are allowed to do like smoke, drink, cuss, or have sex outside of marriage. Some of us also have the impression that we’re supposed to be persecuted, that if we’re not Jesusy enough to make people actively dislike us, then we’re not being a very good Christian.

But is that what Jesus really had in mind? I think there’s a much more radical meaning to this basic call that few Christians today are actually living out.

Jesus asked his followers to pick their cross and follow long before he was crucified. At the time, the cross wasn’t a symbol of anything related to Christianity or the spiritual life.

In fact, to the those who Jesus was speaking to, taking up a cross meant one thing: A cruel and brutal death at the hands of the Roman Empire. Every week, these men and women watched as condemned prisoners picked up their crosses and marched out of the city gates, condemned to die. They knew what Jesus meant. Jesus was asking them to become nothing, to embrace a reality in which they would lose their identity, lose their legacies, lose their self worth, lose their social standings. The picture Jesus painted with those words was not the glorious spiritual pursuit that we often make it into today. In many ways, Jesus was asking them to become like those condemned prisoners, to take on an existence utterly without social legitimacy.

How different would Christianity be if Christians understood that their basic vocation is to be illegitimate?

Among the evangelical tribe where I come from, one of core doctrines that gets drilled into us more than most is “justification by faith,” a spiritual understanding that suggests we can’t do anything to earn our way into heaven except put our trust in Jesus Christ.

Properly understood, this doctrine is beautiful: to be justified by Christ should mean that we exist in a reality where we stop trying to justify ourselves and rather embrace fully and completely our illegitimacy. And while most of us evangelicals would say that we are justified by Christ, our lives showcase a much different story, one of proving ourselves, seeking the justification of others, jumping through spiritual hoops for praise and affirmation, and endlessly hoping, working, trying to feel justified.

In the Jewish faith that Jesus practiced, there was one basic mark of legitimacy: circumcision. It was more than just the physical mutilation of an infant boy’s penis; it was a metaphor for a life of being set apart from the world, being clean while the uncircumcised outsiders were unclean.

In Christianity’s earliest days, one of the biggest decisions that was made in the council of Jerusalem of Acts 15 was to renounce the requirement that Gentiles be circumcised, which meant that Christians consisted in the uncircumcised and those who renounced their circumcision by hanging out with the uncircumcised.

And yet, even today, evangelical Christianity is still all about circumcision. Not literal circumcision. But since we live in an ideological age, our “circumcisions” have become things like our positions on issues (political and social), our doctrines (beliefs and theologies), and a myriad of other spiritual, social, and emotional litmus tests.

Do you believe in hell?

Do you oppose same-sex marriage?

Do you believe the Bible is inerrant?

Do you believe that Jesus died to satisfy God’s wrath against humanity?

To answer any of these questions incorrectly is to become an “uncircumcised” outsider.

It isn’t only Christians that have “circumcisions” that legitimize us; every sociopolitical tribe of people does this. There are things you’re supposed to say, ideas that you’re supposed to agree with; fashion that you’re supposed to wear in order to show that you belong to the tribe. People obey the scripts and litmus tests of the tribes they want to be a part of and they police each other for deviating from the script. But when Christians play the “circumcision” game, we’ve lost the one thing that is supposed to be our liberation: Jesus’s command to be illegitimate.

Most of my favorite parables of Jesus are about embracing illegitimacy: the Samaritan heretic who cares for the wounded man because he’s not worried about keeping himself clean like the priest and Levite (Luke 10:25-37); the tax collector who beats his breast and receives God’s mercy instead of worshiping his own righteousness like the Pharisees (Luke 18:9-14); the father who humiliates himself by picking up his skirts and running to throw his arms around his prodigal son who had so utterly disrespected him (Luke 15:11-32); the banquet where the king invites only the people without status because the VIP’s won’t come (Luke 14:15-24).

Almost every evil in the world can be explained in terms of peoples’s needs to legitimize themselves. How many kids get into fights or even shoot each other every year on the basis of defending their honor? How many marriages end because two people who really did love each other once can’t admit when they’re wrong? How many stupid wars have killed millions of people because of the needs of nations to assert their legitimacy?

Being illegitimate means that we must stop being defensive and stop needing to win every argument in order to show how “circumcised” we are. It means that we’re able to see beyond our own honor. There is no more desperately needed freedom in our world today than the freedom to be wrong. Through his cross, Jesus says to humanity: you’re all wrong, every single damned one of you, but put the blame on me so you can be free!

I’m not suggesting that we’re supposed to try to make our illegitimacy legitimate, to revel in a sort of cynical filth like a floor full of heroin addicts in a mid-nineties Fiona Apple video. The illegitimacy to which Jesus calls us means living in the perpetual astonished perplexity of knowing that we are infinitely loved without merit. It’s one thing to say that God loves everybody; it’s another thing to live every moment in the truth of God’s love for you.

The rare few who have actually discovered and embodied the beautiful secret of God’s rich unconditional love have no inhibitions that prevent them from loving unconditionally themselves. They stop for wounded travelers; they clothe the naked; they welcome the stranger; and they don’t do it for points or photo ops. This doesn’t mean that they’re doormats who enable abusers. It just means that winning arguments and being justified in every circumstance are needs they have been liberated from having. If that’s a gospel worth sharing, then share it with the Christians you know so they can be set free from their litmus tests and paranoid boundary policing to join the uncircumcised, cross-bearing followers of an illegitimate king.

Morgan Guyton is the associate pastor of Burke United Methodist Church in Northern Virgina. He blogs at Mercy Not Sacrifice.

By the end of the day, KISS’s Gene Simmons will be Christianity’s new hero…

That might sound crazy. But it’s very possible. The folks over at FaithIt.com, which is basically the evangelical version of UpWorthy, has uncovered a Fox News clip from last year, one in which Gene Simmons of KISS (Kids In Satan’s Service!?) denounces the religious intolerance that many media folks have shown toward Tim Tebow.

In the headline, FaithIt writes: These Words! Gene Simmons Sums Up Everything I’ve Wanted to Say About Tim Tebow and Religious Tolerance. Brilliant.

Then, in the subhead for the clip, they offer a not so subtle praiseclaimer, adoration creatively mixed with slight renunciation. This short segment has me convinced–Gene Simmons is brilliant–not for his music, but his thoughts on culture and religion.

Now, I’m exactly sure this quote proves Gene’s brilliance, but that said, Simmons does offer some good words!

So prepare yourselves. There’s a good chance you’ll be seeing this video clip in your Facebook feeds real soon.

THIS is what @StevenFurtick is teaching the kiddos!

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While the grownups are listening to Pastor Steven preach, the little ones are in Sunday school learning about “unity.” I actually cringed when I saw this. Not even the fundamentalist church I was raised in featured coloring pictures of our pastor.

There’s nothing good or holy or trustworthy about this kind of b.s. It’s dangerous religion. It’s the kind of evangelical brainwashing that all of us should be calling out. This should make us angry. Because its wrong. And because it’s not Christianity.

And even if the members of Elevation Church challenged this idea, who would listen? Their visions don’t matter. Only Steven Furticks’s vision matters. It’s his way or else.

That’s not unity. That’s not a community. That’s an idea bordering on cult. That’s a one-man led gathering masquerading as a church.

And if this is the kind of stuff that they proudly hand out in Sunday school to small children, what’s happening that we don’t know about?

This picture represents the smoke.

And where there’s smoke…

**UPDATE**

Here’s another coloring page from the Elevation program.

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The information on these coloring pages also matches Elevation Church’s “The Code.”

Also, check out THIS about how Elevation Church manages to secure baptisms.

**UPDATE #2**

This is for those who still remain in doubt…

This is the Tweet that Pastor Furtick sent out when the first edition of this coloring book released (there’s a second edition in the works according to one source).

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Where does that image link take us? HERE.

Or to this image…

***ANOTHER UPDATE***

This video presents Pastor Furtick talking to the kids about whether or not they should take the blue pill or the red pill The Code. THE. CODE. Asking the kiddos to memorize The Code. Giving the dice to help them remember The. Code…

Pastor Steven’s April Video to eKidz: The Code from Elevation Church eKidz on Vimeo.

Thanks to Chris for the heads up.

***COMMENTS ARE CLOSED***

Our Daily Beast: How We Talk When We Talk About Satan

 

So, if things go as planned, I’ll be writing on a regular basis about faith and religion for The Daily Beast. My first feature, an exploration about the topics of Satan and American Christianity, debuted yesterday.

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If you missed my Satan piece, you can read Why American Christians Love Satan in its entirety here.

But after you read that, come back. Because I think we need to have a serious talk about Satan.

Why? Because many of us, at least, those of us who are Christians (not all of us, of course), are seemingly in love with name dropping Satan. We don’t even need a good reason to call upon the name of Evil, just disagreement or something that makes us feel uncomfortable will usually do.

For instance, on the day following the Creation/Evolution debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, I got pulled into a Facebook debate among Christians about the topic of Genesis 1 & 2. People from all sides of the conversation tossed their two-cents into the comment section. Some thought that the story of Adam and Eve should be taken literally, some said it was allegory, and some weren’t exactly sure. In time though, the conversation became a more focused critique of the literal interpretation of the Genesis story, many people offer lengthy explanations as to why they didn’t believe in a historical Adam and Eve. A couple more fundamentalist believers offered shaming rebukes of that way of thinking, and then, one of them, left this comment: This conversation is making Satan so happy.

A few people challenged the woman’s assumption, a couple even asked her “how she knows what Satan thinks?”

I sort of thought the question was unnecessary. I mean, considering the woman’s previous involvement in the conversation about Genesis 1 & 2, she may very well have been been texting with Satan, reporting to the Adversary about what we were talking about.

But isn’t that how many of us talk about Satan, like we had breakfast at McDonald’s with Lucifer. Are we really that familiar with the archenemy of God? And is that a good thing?

But that’s why I wanted to write about Satan for The Daily Beast.

Because Satan, as a subject matter, fascinates me. Partly because it seems to be such an integral part of so many people’s Christian spirituality and too, because it’s difficult to separate fact from fiction. While the Devil might be in the details of American life, those details are all over the place. And how Christians think about Satan is interesting to me.

I think some people got the feeling that I was attempting to disprove the concept of Satan all together, which isn’t the case. Proving or disproving Satan doesn’t interest me. While I honestly don’t know what I think is true or false about Satan, I’m intrigued how the concept of Satan affects people, our culture, and the spirituality of our people and culture.

Personally, I don’t spend too much time thinking about whether there’s a literal man/angel/monster running around earth trying to influence me. I believe in evil, of course, but just how spiritual that evil is or how unified it can become, and whether it ever combines into one single being and shows up at a nightclub in France, I just don’t know.

But what I do believe is that the Satan as displayed within the stories of the Bible does seem to be a far weaker and less all-consuming Satan than the many versions of Satan that people believe in today.

I know countless of Christians whose words and beliefs project a huge amount of supernatural power, influence, and ownership onto Satan.

For instance, many of us talk about the Enemy like he/she/it is omnipresent. Most of us don’t believe that. But that’s how we talk about the devil. According to Christians, the Enemy is around every corner of the Universe. Satan is tempting Terry in Boise with pornography and, at the same time, using narcotics to try and ruin Shannon’s life in Jacksonville. Satan is shacking up with Tom in Chicago, all the while, controlling every person who lives in North Korea with communism. And that’s just the beginning of Satan. I’m not sure if the devil actually has an ending, because our stories, theologies, and imaginations seem to keep growing the Evil One’s story.

Everyday conversations among a majority of Christians often include both specific and casual mentions of Satan, mentions that seem to suggest that many Christians put Satan, perhaps unintentionally, on equal footing with God.

Again, I realize that most Christian theologies don’t suggest that Satan is equal to God, how we talk about The Enemy seems to proclaim otherwise.

So I’d love to ask a few questions in regard to Satan…

What do you believe to be true about Satan?

Is Satan a literal figure in your opinion?

How do you interpret the story of Jesus being tempted by Satan in the Wilderness?

What do you (or will/would you) teach your children about Satan?

How important is Satan to your own spirituality?

Because I think how we discuss Satan matters, and while lots of Christians talk of Satan, we rarely talk about how we talk about Satan…. and I think we should.

 

I’m reading Crash the Chatterbox by @StevenFurtick! (some thoughts about the introduction)

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So, I’ve started reading Steven Furtick’s Crash the Chatterbox. You’re shocked, right? Me, reading a book by Steven Furtick? I know, what the Fu***ck… but it’s true. Heck, I even paid real money for it. #TrueStory

Here are my thoughts and a synopsis of this book’s introduction.

Apparently, there’s a war happening inside Steven Furtick’s head. And also his heart. It’s been going on for years, longer than the war in Afghanistan. In fact, according to Furtick, his head-and-heart war is never ending, a constant battle that he wages every single day of his life, even on weekends and holidays. “I wake up every day to the crow of the chatterbox,” he writes in the introduction of Crash the Chatterbox.

Then, Furtick offers us a real-time glimpse of the so-called clash happening inside his head/heart:

The thoughts are flying so fast now that I can’t keep track, much less sort them out and put them where they belong. Thinking about these thoughts at all only seems to feed them. That’s why they keep overpowering me, because I keep feeding them. I know this, but it never stops me from doing it. Not this time, not ten years ago, and it won’t be any different ten years from now, I’m beginning to believe. This is so stupid. I’m being so stupid. It’s only a light bulb. A burned-out light bulb has turned into a mini-midmorning meltdown in my mind, and I can’t find the switch to shut it off. The meltdown, I mean, not the light bulb.

As the pastor of Elevation Church in North Carolina (6000 members!) jumps into the shower, the war regarding the burned-out light bulb intensifies:

I noticed, for the third time, that the middle bulb was out over the sink on the other side of the bathroom. Now that I’m in the shower, stranded, phoneless, how am I going to put in Evernote that the light bulb is out? With my pathetic attention span, what are the chances I’ll remember to replace the light bulb after I get out? I definitely don’t have time to change the light bulb— I’m already going to be ten minutes late for this meeting. If there’s no traffic...

Are you hooked by the drama? The bloodshed? The possible loss of life? There’s a light bulb out in Steven Furtick’s bathroom, y’all.

…I’m always running late for meetings. I’m a late person. It’s because I hit the snooze button three times every morning, because I’m spiritually apathetic. Pastor Mickey used to get up at 5 a.m. and spend two hours with God, and he said, “He who runs from God in the morning will scarce find Him throughout the day.” They should put that on a Starbucks cup too. Either way, God is gone for the day, and it’s not even 9 a.m. And now I’m running twelve minutes late, and the light bulb is still out. I’m screwed.

This is getting good. I mean, seriously, Pastor Furtick is in the shower losing his shit over a burned-out light bulb. That’s compelling stuff. I wonder what’s going to happen next…

And who am I kidding? Even if I had time to change the light bulb, yeah, right, like I have a clue where Holly keeps them. Now that’s really pathetic. What would people think if they found out about that one: the woman changes all the light bulbs around that house! What kind of example am I setting for my kids? Did I even pray with the kids last night? the night before that? Dunno. But I did Instagram that sunset shot with the kids at the creek last Friday. So there’s that.

Then, Furtick writes, “Cock-a-doodle-do.”

You’re probably thinking, COCK-A-DOODLE-DO?! No, there’s no rooster in the shower with Furtick. The sound of the cock crowing, Furtick says, is the chatterbox informing him that he’s now 14 minutes late. And furthermore, the rooster that isn’t there also informs him that he sucks as a person.

I’m feeding the machine, and it’s eating me alive. And the chatter will continue to race through my mind until I decide to downshift and put things back in perspective: Calm down, Furtick. It’s. Just. A. Light bulb.

Don’t you sort of want to hit him? I mean, I haven’t hit anybody intentionally since the eighth grade. That’s when I punched a kid named Michael in the gut for spitting on a seventh-grader named Angela. Still, I do sort of want to punch Furtick. Maybe it’s because I’m imagining his anguish about the light bulb happening in his $1.7 million dollar mansion, a 16,000 square-foot home he says was a “gift from God.” I’m sure he’s telling the truth about not knowing where the light bulbs are located. Hell, in a house that size, he’d likely doesn’t know where Holly and the kids are, either.

Furtick’s Big Big House… where he can play football…

But the size of his house is not the only reason this story bugs me. It’s also the story itself. Furtick’s light bulb tragedy is a prime example of rich white pastor problems. And sadly, I struggle to even believe this story is true. Sure, there was likely an out light bulb. In a 16,000 square foot house, there’s always a burned out light bulb! My house is 1/8th the size of Furtick’s and there’s at least four burned out light bulbs that need changing. The part I don’t believe is the mental drama Furtick forces here, the “I’m screwed,” “I suck,” and “Did I pray with my kids last night?” self-talk b.s. I don’t buy it. Could it be true? Sure. But how it’s written makes it hard to believe…

While Furtick’s light bulb tragedy is over, the pastor says the war will begin again shortly. He writes: “So much doubt, panic, raw impulse, and bogus conjecture stream through my mind.” He compares his soul to that of a Twitter feed (<-he’s so relevant). Despite the fact that, on real Twitter he only follows 334 people, his soul follows a ton of people on Twitter. He writes: “I’m following a million of the most annoying people ever, and I can’t find the Unfollow button.”

Poor guy.

But God is faithful to speak too...

Furtick spends a few pages reminding us of all the ways that God speaks. According to Furtick, God made him AWESOME! He writes: “He has perfectly designed me and totally enabled me for everything He’s called me to do.” And God reminds Furtick that he’s AWESOME all the time. How? Well, like this…

Sometimes He’ll do that through a simple picture, song, text, or conversation that rings with affirmation for days.

And sometimes God will speak directly to Furtick. Once, as the plane he was on started to land at his home’s airport, God spoke to him.

God said to Furtick: This is your city. I’ve called you here to pour out your life for My cause. Be confident, because everywhere you set your foot belongs to Me, and you belong to Me, and together we’re going to take this city for My glory.

Then, God said: And I’m going to get you a big ass house, too. You’re gonna own one of the biggest privately owned mansions in all of North Carolina, Steven! It’s gonna be “Sweeeeeeet!”

Disclaimer: Just to be clear, that last paragraph is not in the book. That was me putting words in God’s mouth.

And then, regarding what God told him, Furtick writes, “I’m sure my translation of this conversation isn’t word perfect, because you know how tricky cross-cultural communication with God can be.” So true! Especially when Steven Furtick is doing the translating.

And then Furtick asks his readers some questions:

Is it possible to be the kind of person who can be distracted to the point of utter despair by a blown light bulb and still hear God calling you to do great things as you stare down at your city through a sunset?

That question is rhetorical.

Can God’s voice coexist with maniacal chatter— within the same person?

Mmm… morsels of humanism.

And how can I silence the voice of the enemy when the enemy is in me?

**Cough** Buddhism. **Cough**

According to Furtick, God has gifted us with the ability to make choices! Which is something Furtick didn’t realize until recently. Which changed everything!

Everything changed when I began to realize God has given us the ability to choose the dialogue we believe and respond to. And once we learn how, we can switch from lies to truth as deliberately as we can choose the Beatles over Miley Cyrus on satellite radio… Winning the war of words inside your soul means learning to defy your inner critic.

Wait a minute. This is starting to sound like Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind or William Backus’s and Marie Chapian’s Telling Yourself the Truth or one of the plethora of other books about “self talk.”

Furtick says that often “we feel powerless to crash the chatterbox.”

But never fear! Because DING! DING! DING! Furtick isn’t powerless! He knows exactly how to crash the chatterbox! In fact, by crashing his chatterbox, he learned that he wasn’t really screwed and that he doesn’t really suck. He says that all of us need to learn how to crash our Furticking chatterboxes. Because crashing his has made him feel much better. Much less guilty. And he no longer cares about the burned out light bulb.

And he closes his introduction by telling us that he’s going to teach us how to crash our chatterboxes, too.

END NOTE: Furtick, Steven (2014-02-11). Crash the Chatterbox: Hearing God’s Voice Above All Others (Kindle Locations 213-215). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.