Published January 11, 2011

Paul's Epistle...
"Contrasting Messages"

Al Menconi Ministries recently passed along an analysis by TheSource4YM.com of the message content of 2010's #1 pop songs. Themes were pretty consistent: sex (a lot of it, all kinds), alcohol, domestic violence (presented as "normal" and "worth it"), obscenities, "live for the moment," partying, drinking, more obscenities, etc., etc., etc.

Is it any wonder, with such messages pouring out of the radios, computers and iPods of today's youth that morality in the secular culture in which we live is on an ever-accelerating downward spiral?

Yesterday I received an email from Carolyn Adkins, writer of the Collingsworth Family's song, "Fear Not Tomorrow." She told me she was listening to our "Gospel 2010 In Review" program Saturday afternoon "in one ear" while listening "in the other ear" to news accounts of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson, AZ (including, initially, six fatalities — a respected federal judge among them). Here are Carolyn's observations:

"I was so struck by the profound differences between the two broadcasts. The sounds coming in my left ear were those of shock, disbelief, sorrow, anger, the story of a 22 year-old man declaring his disbelief in God and incoherent ramblings of a soul who'd lost his way, venting his rage on innocent people with a gun and causing untold grief and ongoing sadness for his victims' families.

"On the other hand...the sounds coming in my right ear were those of peace, joy, hope, forgiveness. Songwriters and singers telling of how an event or sermon had touched them deeply, provoking the composing of a song that not only deeply touched them, but countless others. And these melodies and lyrics will not only comfort many at this present time, but their influence will go on forever!

"What a contrast between these two scenarios!"

Indeed, the messages of 2010's most popular Southern Gospel songs – as aired last weekend on our "Gospel 2010 In Review" special – are very, very different — from what the world is bombarding us with every day through the media. Which is why I would rather listen to wholesome, uplifting, edifying, encouraging, God-honoring Southern Gospel songs any day of the week than the obscene drivel that is out there corrupting today's society — especially the youth. (Perhaps that young shooter is an example.)

Looking at just 2010's top 10 Southern Gospel songs, as heard on our broadcast, a primary theme of two of these songs is prayer. One, "I Keep Praying," is about the absolute need to rely on God's power to help us in our daily lives – a power that is available to us, as Christians, through prayer.

"I keep praying when life seems so unfair.
I keep praying, because I know He answers prayer....
The only reason I can even stand, is I keep praying."

The other song about prayer is "I'll Pray For You," a song about intercessory prayer.

"What a privilege and an honor to know that God is there
And to have His full attention anytime and anywhere.
Sometimes when we're talking the conversation turns to you
As your name and needs are mentioned, God lifts my spirits, too."

Another theme that forms the basis of two of the Top 10 is the Cross – a message that's absolutely fundamental for Christians. One, "Message Of The Cross," is a powerful affirmation of the accomplished work of salvation through Christ's shed blood on the Cross.

"They may scoff the cross, criticize the Christ
The Lamb of God Who gave His life for all
They may trample on His cleansing blood
But it's still the power of God that saves the lost..."

The other song about the Cross, "God Saw A Cross," reaffirms how – from the very moment sin entered into human life – God looked ahead in time and saw the Cross.

"God saw a cross being raised on the horizon
God saw His Son being slain for one and all
God saw His blood being shed for my redemption
For every fall, God saw a cross.
"

Two of the year's top 10 songs celebrated the Lord's soon Second Coming. "Hold On" reminds Christians to do just that – and reminds unbelievers to accept Christ and be ready for His return.

"It may be in the morning, it may be at noon.
I don't know the day or hour, but I know He's coming soon."

The other Second Coming song, "King Jesus Is Coming," says it about as plainly as anyone could:

"King Jesus is coming, this could be the day...
If you've never been to an old time altar,
Run to the Lord, don't fail or falter.
He is ready to save and set you free...
King Jesus is coming and it won't be long.
"

Then there are two songs about the faithfulness of God (a theme also included in some of the other songs in the Top 10). "Peace In The Shelter" talks about the peace we can have as Christians, knowing that the Lord will be our refuge in any storm.

"There's peace that passes all understanding
And peace that goes beyond all comprehending..."

Likewise, "Did I Mention" talks about God's faithfulness and our response to that truth.

"Did I mention that I love Him, How I worship and adore Him
When I can see no way, He makes a way.
And did I mention He's been faithful, To every promise He ever made me.
I love Him, that's all I want to say."

Our response to God's faithfulness should be to want to serve Him in every way, every day. For a singer, that's putting God first in everything, including their concert presentations. That's the theme of the song, "I Want My Stage To Be An Altar."

"I want my stage to be an altar
So all the praise goes to the Father.
If I get selfish and make this life about me,
Lord, please, I want my stage to be an altar."

Our response to God's faithfulness is also to put complete and total confidence in Him. That's most difficult, perhaps, when God's plan doesn't seem to be the same as ours. The #1 song of the year, "When God Has Another Plan," addresses this.

"When God has another plan, walk on and just say, ‘yes.'
When God has another plan, Be assured that He knows best.
When all your dreams are shattered, Rest in His sufficient grace.
We don't have to understand, When God has another plan."

That last song was certainly meaningful to the Greenes, who, when they recorded it, had no idea it would be the #1 song for the year when Tony Greene passed away. What a reassurance God was providing to Taranda Greene through the message of the song they were singing!

The Cross, prayer, the Lord's imminent return, God's faithfulness and our response... Now those are the kinds of themes I want to listen to in my music. It's a message we need to hear every day as a reminder of God's love, and the message the world so desperately needs to hear instead of the trash they're actually hearing.

Please – help spread the word!

- Paul

PS: Artist, writer and publisher info about the songs mentioned above can be found at http://www.thegospelgreats.com/cue20110108.pdf

Comments on this? paul@thegospelgreats.com

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