Coldplay Is Not A Worship Band

About a year ago, I was at a church meeting for youth and young adult leaders from churches throughout the area, and a local worship team kicked it off with a few songs. Much to my chagrin, I heard the band transition from Desperation Band’s “I Am Free” to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”. Oh yes. That actually happened. True story.

I get it. You’re young. You’re hip (do people say “hip” anymore?). You don’t want to go to one of those stuffy, old people churches where they play songs from 50 years ago. You don’t want to hear music written by people with last names like Carpenter and Green. You’d prefer music written by people with last names like Cyrus, or Levine, or Gaga (not a real last name) (none of the aforementioned people actually write songs).

So what do you do? You go on that noble quest to find a church that’s a little different. A church that embraces a new concept designed to attract today’s generation. The concept is where contemporary, secular, easy-listening music replaces some or all of the worship music. As long as they’re songs about happiness, peace, and/or love and not Satan, they’re ok. Instead of your usual Hillsong, Chris Tomlin, and Jesus Culture, you have U2, Oasis, and Rush.

I hate to break it to you but Coldplay does not play worship music. When Chris Martin sings, “Look at the stars, look how they shine for you”, it’s a lower case “y” on the “you”, not an upper case. He’s most likely singing about a pretty girl, probably Gwyneth Paltrow (his wife, for those of you less informed). Hate to break it to you, but he’s not singing about Jesus.

Bad news: "Fix You" is not about Jesus fixing us.

Bad news: “Fix You” is not about Jesus fixing us.

I’ve heard two halfway decent arguments in favor of this type of music being played in a church.

1) It fits the theme the pastor is speaking on that week.
Really??? It fits the theme?? Give me a break. You’re telling me that you can’t find a better song than “Let it Be” to match your sermon topic?  If I personally hear that song played before a sermon, the sun will definitely not come up tomorrow.

2) The lyrics and musical style promote love and peace which is what Jesus is all about.
I found a post on a blog written by a guy named Al Di Salvatore (Check it out here) who uses this argument. Here’s what he said:

“Why can’t music be just music. Based on truth and excellence. One of my favorite quotes is by Author Holmes who said, ‘All truth is God’s truth.’ So couldn’t music if it had truth, honesty, brokenness, redemption, love, (sounds like Psalms of David to me) and rising guitar solos and soaring vocals be Worship. Could Non-Worship (secular) Songs be Worship?”

My answer to that question is, “Dear Lord, no!” When Matt Redman and Israel Houghton write their music, their thoughts and their focus is on Jesus. Their goals and motives are to glorify God. When Phil Collins or Sheryl Crow write music, what are their motives? Where is their focus? The bottom line is that these non-worship songs were not written to praise God. The lyrics are not giving honor to Him. No matter how much you try, you can’t make it work. You can’t fit a round peg in a square hole.

The blog post also reveals another flaw in the argument. The author lists specific songs that he thinks are “worshipful” and some of the top ones are written by artists such as the Rolling Stones and Kings of Leon.  Maybe he doesn’t know who exactly the Stones are. Maybe he’s not aware that Kings of Leon wrote a song glorifying promiscuous sex on the same album as the song “Use Somebody” (mentioned in his list).

The glaring issue that this author and many others do not address is the fact that you can’t take the supposed “good” without the bad. You can’t just pick out the fun, happy songs some dude sings and ignore the crude, profane songs that same guy sings, and even ignore the crude, profane lifestyle the artist may lead.

Something tells me this isn't a worship service.

Something tells me this isn’t a worship service.

Whatever argument people want to use to justify why they bring secular music into the church just won’t ever be enough to sway me. Some Christians simply don’t want to admit that they’re just scared of what the rest of world thinks of them and they are so desperate to boost attendance every Sunday morning that they’ll compromise as much as they think they can get away with.

There is no question that music is something special. It can stir up emotions and have an impact in a way nothing else can come close to matching. But if music is so important and influential, how dare we try worshiping to songs written by people who not only are not saved but have meanings behind their lyrics that are often the antithesis of who Jesus is!

I appreciate a lot of non-Christian music, just like everyone else. I love everything from the Beatles to Mumford & Sons (I still loathe Nickelback). I’m not saying that listening to and enjoying secular music is a sin (Nickelback is). What I am saying is that by labeling secular music as “worship”, we’re permitting room for compromise. And that is extremely unwise.

So when you walk into your church next Sunday morning and the band is rocking out to a song by Snow Patrol or Green Day, maybe you should think twice before raising your hands in worship.

A few pointers to leave you with.
1) “Imagine” by Lennon isn’t worshipful even though he says the word “heaven” in the song. You’re trying too hard to make it work. Plus, I haven’t forgiven him for bringing Yoko into the fold.
2) Josh Groban is NOT singing about Jesus in “You Raise Me Up”. He’s not. Just accept that.
3) I understand that you can find Creed’s albums in your local Christian bookstore. Still doesn’t count, I’m sorry.
4) If you need some new tunes to mix things up, there are some incredible lesser known Christian bands out there. Check out Bellarive, All Sons and Daughters, and Gungor. They are amazingly talented and are consistently passionate about Jesus throughout their music and their lifestyles.

What do you think? Do you firmly disagree? Are there bands/songs that you think are exceptions? Does your church jam out to T-Swift and One Direction? Weigh in below!

Glamping is for Wusses

Meet my dad's protégé.

Meet my dad’s protégé.

Camping is awesome. I loved doing it as far back as I can remember. My father is one of the most outdoorsy guys I know. I’m convinced he trained Bear Grylls. He hikes, hunts, fishes, kayaks, the works. And that love of the outdoors has passed down to me and my siblings.

Allow me to define camping for you so there’s no confusion. Camping is the spending of time outdoors overnight in the confines of nothing more than a four-walled tent (but it could also be a lean-to or cave or something awesome like that). You have a campfire going, you’re pulling food out of coolers (or rehydrating MREs if you’re super intense), you’re using lanterns and flashlights, and you’re falling asleep cocooned by a sleeping bag. That there, folks, is the definition of camping.

This is camping.

This is camping.

And then there’s this concept of glamping. It’s the sissy way of sleeping outdoors. In case your soft, weakened mind couldn’t figure it out, glamping combines the words glamour and camping. Neat, huh? Not really. I’m offended by glamping. How could you possibly appreciate the beauty of nature by being sheltered by the comforts you could find in your home? If you couldn’t possibly be apart from your daily creature comforts for one single night, don’t even bother! Stay home with your DVR, your microwave, and your WiFi. Us real men and women will be fine without you.

This is not camping. This is glamping

This is not camping. This is glamping

Now before you get all defensive, there are some exceptions. Well, there’s one. If you have done your fair share of camping over the years without complaint and with genuine enjoyment, you deserve to utilize a camper or something like that (shout out to you, Mom!). But that’s the only exception. For everybody else, suck it up. Oh and traveling around in an RV or camper is not camping. It’s traveling around in an RV or camper. It’s fun, but unless you bust out a tent at some point, you didn’t actually camp.

Now I appreciate an upscale hotel or a tropical beach as much as the next guy, but camping is a whole other experience everyone should enjoy. There is something about marooning yourself out in the middle of nowhere and living off the bare necessities for a few days (or longer) that clears the mind and refreshes the soul. Plus, there is nothing more affirming to a guy than to be able to hack down a tree, build a fire, and feed his girl. All the other dudes need a Chinese take-out joint on speed dial. Those guys are sad.

Have you ever been camping? Truly camping? If you haven’t, do it soon! Autumn is an awesome season to camp! The leaves look amazing, the smell in the air is incredible, and it’s cool enough that a fire is welcoming, but not so cold that you feel like a character from a Jack London novel. So men, get out there and prove you have some vestige of masculinity left in you. Women, break the stereotypes of females and head into the wilderness. Say goodbye to sissy glamping and say hello to epic camping! My tirade is now done. Feel free to comment below!

“Besties” Have Ruined Friendships

You can tell their besties because their hands are on their hips and their knees are bent

You can tell they’re besties because their hands are on their hips and their knees are bent

There’s a new term making the rounds among young women everywhere.  “Besties”. It’s supposed to be slang for best friends. I am convinced that this new “word” is ruining friendships. As a side note, I apologize to all females because I will be picking on your gender for the duration of this post. Please forgive me. I don’t hear men use the word bestie, and if I did, I would have to dedicate an entirely separate post to instruct them on what words should never be used in their daily vernacular.

When I was a kid, we had best friends. I remember my best friend as a teenager. His name was Matt. His name is still Matt. He’s not dead. We were tight. We rocked. We played baseball and football, went camping, built a tree fort , and drew letters with gasoline in a field and lit them on fire for airplane pilots to see. It was awesome. He has since moved away, but we’ll always be friends.

Just about everybody had a best friend growing up. If you didn’t, then now you hate me for rehashing that horrible time in your life and I apologize. For everyone else, I’m sure we all remember that one guy or girl that was definitively referred to as your best friend. Those were good times.

Then one day someone thought it would be cute to abbreviate best friend with bestie. What a jerk. I dislike that person strongly (my mom won’t let me use the word “hate”). You see, it would have been totally ok if people continued to use the word bestie as a reference to their best friend, but instead people (and by people, I mean strictly girls) have been a little bit too loose in its usage and destroyed the meaning of friendship.

Nowadays, girls are referring to every single female they’re friends with as their bestie. Every. Single. One. Whether it’s someone they have been friends with for years or someone they just recently added on facebook, they’re all besties now.

I believe that the introduction of the word “bestie” is an indication that the modern American culture has shifted from having one close friend as the norm to multiple quasi-close friends being the norm. The influx of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and the consequential compiling of “friends” or “followers” over the internet has seeped from the virtual world to the real world. Because young Americans have hundreds of “friends” digitally, they’re subconsciously allowing it to happen with face-to-face relationships as well.

Let me enlighten you to what the problem is. There is a fundamental difference between having a best friend and having a bestie. Referring to a group of girls as “my besties” doesn’t make each of these females a best friend to the girl. It instead makes each one of them merely a semi-close friend. None of them are truly the “best” friend. Robin Thicke would agree with me that the use of bestie has inadvertently blurred the lines between acquaintance and friend, as well as between friend and best friend. You can’t tell the difference anymore.

Robin no longer considers you a bestie.

Robin no longer considers you a bestie.

I love that someone considers me their best friend. It makes me feel special and wanted. I’m privy to information no one else is. I’m someone’s go-to person for when they need advice or encouragement. I’m their first choice to share amazing news or an incredible experience. If I were merely a bestie, I’d be one of multiple options. Knowing my luck, I’d probably be 4th or 5th down the line of 4 or 5 besties. The specialness (is that a word?) would be gone. And that’s kind of depressing.

My girlfriend has a best friend. She has resisted the societal pressure to have besties. Christine has a wonderful friendship with a woman with whom she can tell anything and share everything. It’s heartwarming to see and I know that it will last for a very long time. That friendship will certainly be going strong long after this bestie thing has died off. And above all, her having a best friend shows me that there’s hope for humanity after all (I am so dramatic).

How about you? Do you have besties? Are you totally ok with it? Comment below!

I Put the “Best” in Best Man

Best man picMy brother’s wedding was this past weekend. It was pretty nice. The whole thing went very well. No fights, blow-ups, crazy drama, or scandals. In other words, boring. But there were some highlights! The food was superb, the location was excellent, and the best man was inspirational. I may be slightly biased on that last one because, you see, I was the best man.

And boy, did I crush it. I think the whole “best man” role is under-appreciated. The majority of the focus is on the bride and it causes a trickle-down effect favoring the female gender. Everyone thinks of the bride first, which in turn makes you think of the maid of honor, and then the other bridesmaids, and then the mother of the bride, etc, etc. The focus is completely on the women. Meanwhile, the groom and his posse over there just got the shaft in the attention department.

But as men, we just need to take it, right? Real men don’t whine when people aren’t paying them attention! If no one notices us, it means we’re doing our jobs correctly. You can apply that to every situation, including weddings.

So what exactly do you have to do to be a top notch best man? Considering I’m an expert now, I’ve put together a simple list of dos and don’ts. Follow this and you’ll not only be a great best man, but you’ll also keep the groom from getting into trouble.

1) No strippers. I apologize that I have to begin with this, but I’m obligated to. There is a shockingly large number of men who think it’s awesome to have a stripper at the bachelor party. It is not awesome. It’s the furthest thing from awesome. My religious beliefs have a lot do with why I personally disapprove of them, but even if you’re as atheist as they come, real men avoid strippers. Why? Because your need to see a stripper reveals how unhappy and dissatisfied with your life. I’ll try to not to get any more serious, but simply put, needing a stripper is just plain sad.

2) Hold on to the groom’s phone for the entirety of the bachelor party. It’s just better that way. We don’t want any drunken dials to his bride-to-be.

3) Don’t screw up the wedding toast. Say something nice, keep it short, don’t embarrass the groom, and you’ll do great.

4) Keep the groomsmen in line. You got picked to be the best man because you’re close to the groom and you can be trusted to handle things. The groomsmen are just crazy, unpredictable, and probably annoying dudes that the groom had to pick because his bride wanted a lot of bridesmaids. Just make sure they keep their shirts tucked in, aren’t late, and don’t get too plastered, Things should be ok then.

5) Keep the groom busy before the wedding. The poor guy is a wreck. This is one of the most nerve-wracking moments of his life. Distract him with a round of golf the morning of, or video games, or whatever. It’ll keep his mind off of the wedding. Just keep him sober. Please, please keep him sober.

6) Obey the women. The reason this list is so short is because the various women involved with the wedding will be bossing you around about everything else. You can’t screw anything up because those crazy females would destroy you and you actually care about your life.

That’s it. Easy, right? Us best men have a very simple, but important job. You got this, no problem. You’ll be the best best man ever. Just remember to thank your lucky stars that you weren’t born a woman and you don’t have to be a maid of honor.

Welcome to Observations by Greg

Welcome to my new blog!

I realize that I can be quite opinionated. The problem is that many opinions cause me to rant for longer than 140 characters or go the point where you’d have to click “See more” on a Facebook post. So I find myself here. With a shiny new website. But I promise not to be all maudlin or macabre. At least not the whole time. So please subscribe/follow/comment/whatever and enjoy the show!