Music makes you braver.

Posted: September 8, 2015 by abestratton in Culture

I like music as much as the next guy. To be transparent, I’m a pretty emotional dude. I like power music for working out, love songs for dates, quiet tunes for background, worship music for anytime.

But this morning I saw a statement which made me stop and think: “Music makes you braver.”

Does it? Does it really?

I know music arouses feelings; it stirs desire; it provokes imagination; it even inspires thought. In our culture we use music for everything; it’s everywhere. I mean, how did football players prep for games before Dre Beats? How did people celebrate weddings before DJs? How did our grandparents go to sleep before headphones? How did teenage men storm the beaches of Normandy before jams? How did husbands date their wives before playlists? How did churches worship before amps? How did Christians face the coliseum and the stake before Spotify?

Music communicates, and it stirs. But I think there’s a subtle and dangerous lie out there that music can make you something that you’re not. “You can be the jacked dude that everybody stares at.” “You can be the church that everybody comes to.” “You can be the one that everybody likes.” “You can save the world.”

I hear it. I feel it. There’s something in the power music that makes me think I’m superman. There’s something in the love songs that makes me think my wife (or even other women) can’t resist me. There’s something in the worship music that makes me feel like I’m close to God. But are those things really true? Does music itself make those things true?

Music is a gift. It’s a unique medium given by the Creator and crafted by His image-bearers to point us, not to ourselves, but to Him. But music cannot and must not be the substitute for God himself. Music cannot change us like our Creator can. Music cannot reshape us like our Creator can. Music cannot ennoble us like our Creator can.

There is a quiet and silent place where true change happens. Moments, days, weeks, and years actually shape character. Countless acts of self-denial empowered by the Spirit of God actually make me loving. Daily knowing, following, and imitating the Great Hero actually makes me heroic. Consistent and personal investment in reading the Christian Bible and talking to God actually make me close to Him.

Music is a tool; it is a gift. But it can never be the substitute.

Be still. Stop. Cease. And know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).


What Voices Are You Listening To?

Posted: August 13, 2015 by abestratton in Meditations, Prayer

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:15-16)

     abba fatherGracious Father, on any given day, there are a number of voices contending for my thought life. There are the voices of my past, sometimes yammering loudly… sometimes just nickel-and-diming my peace away with the refrain “If people really knew who you… You still don’t have a clue, do you? You’ll never really amount to much.”

     Then there are the voices of my present, often hijacked by the defeated enemy, Satan. His incessant scheme is to tempt me, seduce me, then condemn me—doing anything and everything possible to rob my enjoyment of the gospel. Sometimes he shouts, more often he whispers, always he’s conniving and always he’s condemning.

     Then there’s the voices from the future, usually fueling my fears with suggestions like, “You’re not as sharp as you used to be, are you? You’ll probably be forgotten, won’t you? You’ll probably end up all alone, right?”

     But, most present and persistent Father, then there’s the voice of the Holy Spirit…O, how I praise you for that One voice which transcends and trumps every other voice—the gossiper of the gospel… the herald of healing… the bearer of beauty… the messenger of mercy… the singer of sanity… the cantor of Christ… God the Holy Spirit testifying with our spirit that we are your bought, belonging and beloved children!

     Abba, Father, may the Spirit of sonship continue to free me from all of my slavish fears—past, present and future, and free me for a life of the glorious freedom of the sons and daughters of the living God. May the Spirit speak so loudly and convincingly, as to drown out all the other voices vying for my attention. Transform me by the renewing of my mind as the Holy Spirit teaches me more and more about the wonders of sonship. So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ triumphant name.

Scotty Smith’s Everyday Prayers

Changing but unchanged

Posted: July 28, 2015 by abestratton in Uncategorized

This summer I am transitioning into a new role at our church, so I’m stepping away from the regular oversight and shepherding of our teens after almost 7 years with them.

This transition is exciting to me, but it’s also bittersweet. Relationships change, and responsibilities change. So I won’t be posting on this blog as regularly as I have been for the last number of months/years. I want to continue posting resources and thoughts as I have opportunity, but as I’ve said, things change.

Regardless of the change, I hope that those who have read things here will continue to Live, Love, and Last in Christ!

Good works or good looks?

Posted: July 28, 2015 by abestratton in Advice for the Young, Articles, Parents

Walt Mueller presents some very helpful perspective on our culture in this post, “What you see is what I am...”

As a guy who is inundated with the culture’s message of “body-is-everything” just like everyone else, I understand the pressure that we and the next generation are facing. So we must keep preaching the Good News of Jesus to ourselves and to the teens who are coming after us. “God is concerned with our hearts. That’s the message we should tell the one we see in the mirror and the message we should pass on to our kids” (Mueller).

Here are some special words from a man who wrestles with same-sex attraction and who is following Jesus. He gives helpful advice and strong truth from the Scriptures.

Paul vs. Porn

Posted: May 20, 2015 by abestratton in Articles, Culture

Luke Gilkerson from Covenant Eyes writes a solid article on the truths which free us from the bondage of porn (or any other idol we would pursue).

It’s a longer read, but it is well worth it. The realities which we cannot see begin to break the shackles of slavery when we focus on them instead of our shackles, and these eternal realities are, in fact, much more real than the screaming images and temptations which beset us.

Meditate on these truths, and keep fighting the good fight!

“Class of 2015. . . it’s not going to work out the way that you are hoping, planning for, dreaming, or imagining. How do I know that? The same way that every single adult my age who was once sitting where you’re sitting today knows it.

You are sitting there today with a script that you believe is going to play out for your life. You’ve written that script. I had a script way back in 1978. It was a good one. It was good because it was smooth, full of pleasure, and void of pain. But in the years since then, God has given me a different script. It’s a script filled with a lot more difficulty, disaster, surprises, and suffering than I ever could have imagined being able to weather. But you know what, I wouldn’t trade this script for anything. Seriously. It’s far better than the script I had dreamed up for myself. The reason? God’s gift to me of His script for me has slowly forced myself out of myself and into Him. Whether I’ve known it or not, that’s where all my yearnings have pointed. . . and in His grace and time, He’s taking me there.

So, the best advice I can give you today is this. . . immerse yourself in a quest to faithfully follow the incarnate Word (Jesus) into every nook, cranny, and second of your life. And, immerse yourself in a never-ending quest to faithfully know and love the written Word where God has revealed His will, way and story (the Bible). And as you engage endlessly and passionately with both, continually pray these three prayers:

1. Lord, show me you.

2. Lord, show me me.

3. Lord, show me your plan for me.

Now, sit back and enjoy the unfolding of His script!”

Walt Mueller