CCM Backbeat: How Well Do You Know 80’s Christian Music?

This one is purely for fun. In 1985, in response to Band Aid and the gathering of secular artists around a cause, Steve Camp gathered upward to 90 Christian musicians to form the C.A.U.S.E (Christian Artists United to Save the Earth). They recorded the song, Do Something Now, and the accompanying video below. This video is essentially the who’s who of 80’s Christian music. Take a minute to watch the video and see how many you recognize.

Count how many you can name, and use the chart below to see how well you know 80’s Christian music. I will post the full list of everyone in the video at the bottom of this post.

Score Chart – How many could you name?

List of Artists

Soloists (In order of appearance):

  • Amy Grant
  • Larry Norman
  • Kathy Troccoli
  • Russ Taff
  • Evie Karlsson
  • Phil Keaggy
  • Scott Wesley Brown
  • Michelle Pillar
  • Steve Camp
  • Sandi Patti
  • Dana Key
  • Mylon LeFevre
  • Jessy Dixon
  • Steve Taylor
  • Matthew Ward
  • 2nd Chapter of Acts
  • Sheila Walsh

The Choir

  • Sandi Patti
  • Jessy Dixon
  • Angie Lewis
  • Kim Perry
  • Geoff Moore
  • Lanny Wolfe
  • Candy Hemphill 
  • Dana Key
  • Ed DeGarmo
  • DMB Band
  • Sue Dodge
  • Karen Kelly
  • Cam Floria
  • Pete Carlson
  • Billy Crockett
  • Chris Christian
  • Gary Chapman
  • Rob Frazier
  • Bobby Jones and Newlife
  • Tami Gunden
  • Larry Bryant
  • Flo Price 
  • 2nd Chapter of Acts 
  • Matthew Ward
  • Glad
  • Amy Grant
  • Russ Taff
  • John Fischer
  • Owen Brock
  • Jim Murray 
  • Mylon LeFevre
  • Shirley Caesar
  • David Meece
  • Sherman Andrus
  • Phil Keaggy
  • Lisa Whelchel
  • Robin Crow
  • Pam Mark Hall
  • Brown Bannister
  • Kathy Troccoli
  • Billy Sprague
  • Doug Oldham
  • Amy Fletcher
  • Larry Norman
  • Michael Card
  • Steven Green
  • Michelle Pillar
  • Scott Wesley Brown
  • Silverwind
  • Sheila Walsh
  • Connie Scott
  • Rick Cua
  • Steve Camp 
  • Glenn Kaiser 
  • Steve Taylor
  • Dennis Agajanian
  • Bob Farrell
  • Morgan Cryar
  • Bill and Gloria Gaither
  • Found Free
  • Rusty Goodman
  • Gary McSpadden
  • Evie Karlsson

Who were some of your favorite Christian artists of the 80’s? Let me know in the comments.

-D. Eaton

CCM Backbeat: GLAD in Quarantine

Bob Kauflin, formerly of the group GLAD, did us a favor and pulled out a song written in 1980 to reminded us how a song can stand the test of time and speak to us in our current situation. Even in quarantine, we have every reason to be glad.

Here is what Bob wrote:

A very long time ago, I was in a group called GLAD, and one of our most well-known songs was “Be Ye Glad.” It was written by Michael Kelly Blanchard and is still one of my favorite all-time songs. Julie and I have been talking about how relevant it is in this current season. So last night my daughter, McKenzie Fuller, and I recorded a version. Hope you enjoy it.

Follow along with the lyrics below and be blessed.

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:17–18, ESV)

In these days of confused situations
In these nights of a restless remorse
When the heart and soul of a nation
Lay wounded and cold as a corpse
From the grave of the innocent Adam
Comes a song bringing joy to the sad
Oh, your cry has been heard and the ransom
Has been paid up in full, be ye glad

Oh, be ye glad
Oh, be ye glad
Every debt that you ever had
Has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord
Be ye glad, be ye glad, be ye glad

Now from your dungeon, a rumor is stirring
Though you have heard it again and again
Ah, but this time the cell keys are turning
And outside there are faces of friends
And though your body lay weary from wasting
And your eyes show the sorrow they’ve had
Ah, the love that your heart is now tasting
Has opened the gates, be ye glad

So be like lights on the rim of the water
Giving hope in a storm sea of night
Be a refuge amidst the slaughter
Of these fugitives in their flight
For you are timeless and part of a puzzle
You are winsome and young as a lad
And there is no disease or no struggle
That can pull you from God, be ye glad

Words and Music by M.K.Blanchard
© Gotz Music/Benson
(860) 673-1032

CCM Backbeat: 5 Songs of Comfort

With everything going on, I thought I could benefit from a break from all the current events for a CCM Backbeat. Hopefully you will be encouraged as well. Here are five classic CCM songs of comfort.

1. He Will Make Always Make a Way – Farrell & Farrell (1984)

Let’s start with something a little fun with a true 80’s vibe.

I read the news today, oh boy
Pressures come from every side
Circumstantial evidence
Makes me want to run and hide

But nothing comes against me
That isn’t common to the rest of man
And Jesus gives me strength to carry on

So, I know He will always make a way for me
Never leave me without possibility
He will always make a way for me
Never leave me on my own

Old temptation seems to know
When I’m weakest in my mind
Tries to turn my head around
While he sneaks up from behind

But god is faithful not to let
Temptation be too much for me
And He provides the means of my escape

Temptation will come – it’s always at hand
But whatever comes I’m gonna stand
I can survive knowing He will supply all I need

2. Higher Ways – Steven Curtis Chapman (1990)

The following song ministered to me quite a bit during my later high school years and college . God’s ways can always be trusted.

If I could only fly
I’d go up and look down from the sky
So I could see the bigger picture
And Lord if I could sit with You

At Your feet for an hour or two
I’m sure I’d ask too many questions
‘Cause there’s so much going on down here
That I must confess I just don’t understand

But I have prayed
And at your feet my whole life has been laid
So I won’t worry I won’t be afraid
‘Cause my soul is resting on Your higher ways
Let the road ahead become unclear
I am Yours so what have I to fear
If my soul is resting on Your higher ways

Your higher ways teach me to trust You
Your higher ways are not like mine
Your higher ways are the ways of the Father
Hiding His children in His love

But I have prayed
And at your feet my whole life has been laid
So I won’t worry I won’t be afraid
‘Cause my soul is resting on Your higher ways
Let the road ahead become unclear
I am Yours so what have I to fear
If my soul is resting on Your higher ways

So let it rain
And if my eyes grow dim with tears of pain
This hope I have will not be washed away
‘Cause my soul is resting on Your higher ways

Maybe then You will take me aside
And show me the bigger picture
But until I’m with You
I’ll be here with a heart that is true
And a soul that’s resting on
Your higher ways

3. He Covers Me – Steve Camp (1986)

I am not sure I can tell you how much this song encouraged me when I was younger, and it still comforts me to this day. The weight of sin is heavy, but He covers me.

Oh, Lord, I feel so barren
And ashamed of who I am
How I often fell, I hid it well
It is a lie I cannot defend
So I lean upon Your mercy
As I confess my sin to You
There is no easy way, no saving face
When I finally see the truth
So let my life be filled with only You, oh…

I know someday I will be free
The weight of sin shall be released
But for now He covers me
And though the trials never end
I’ve learned to take them as my friend
For each day He covers me

Sometimes the pressure builds around me
And I feel about to break
I suffer painfully from wrongs done to me
But vengeance isn’t mine to take
So let me glory in my weakness
Until Your strength’s revealed in me
It is Your grace, oh Lord, that helps me carry on
To be the man I long to be
So let Your life be perfected, Lord, in me
Until it’s You they see

I know someday I will be free
The weight of sin shall be released
But for now He covers me
And though the trials never end
I’ve learned to take them as my friend
For each day He covers me

And though heartache surrounds me
I know Your love is around me
Nothing can separate me from You
And I know it’s true

I know someday I will be free
The weight of sin shall be released
But for now He covers me, oh, my Lord
And though the trials never end
I’ve learned to take them as my friend
For each day He covers me
He covers me

But for now He covers me
I will be free
(I know someday I will be free)
Oh, Lord I will be free
(The weight of sin shall be released)
But for now He covers me
He covers me

4. Ready for the Storm – Rich Mullins (1988)

Though this song is not the most theologically rich, the poetic lyrics cut right to the heart with jolt of courage.

The waves crash in
The tide rolls out
It’s an angry sea
But there is no doubt
That the lighthouse
Will keep shining out
To warn a lonely sailor

And the lightning strikes
And the wind cuts cold
Through the sailor’s bones
Through the sailor’s soul
‘Til there’s nothing left
That he can hold
Except a rolling ocean

Oh, I am ready for the storm
Yes, sir, ready
I am ready for the storm
I’m ready for the storm

Oh, give me mercy
For my dreams
‘Cause every confrontation seems
To tell me
What it really means
To be this lonely sailor

And when the sky begins to clear
The sun it melts away my fear
And I cry a silent weary tear
For those who mean to love me

Oh, I am ready for the storm
Yes, sir, ready
I am ready for the storm
I’m ready for the storm

The distance it is no real friend
And time will take its time
And you will find that in the end
It brings you me
This lonely sailor

And when You take me by the hand
And You love me, Lord, You love me
And I should have realized
I had no reasons to be frightened

Oh, I am ready for the storm
Yes, sir, ready
I am ready for the storm
Yes, sir, ready
I am ready for the storm
Yes, sir, ready
I am ready for the storm
I’m ready for the storm

5. Medley: Only Jesus and Calvary’s Love – Steve Green (1986)

This song explains the reason we can be ready for the storm. If you are not familiar with this song, do not be turned off by the slow beginning. The build as the song progresses is incredible.

Only Jesus, Only He
Brings redemption, full and free
There’s a yearning, in all our lives
That only Jesus satisfies

Calvary’s love will sail forever
Bright and shining, strong and free
Like an ark of peace and safety
On the sea of human need

Through the hours of all the ages
Those tired of sailing on their own
Finally rest inside the shadow
Cast by Calvary’s love across their souls

Calvary’s love, Calvary’s love
Priceless gift Christ makes us worthy of
The deepest sin can’t rise above
Calvary’s love

Calvary’s love can heal the Spirit
Life has crushed and cast aside
And redeem til Heaven’s promise
Fills with joy once empty eyes

So desire to tell His story
Of a love that loved enough to die
Burns away all other passions
And fed by Calvary’s love becomes a fire

Calvary’s love, Calvary’s love
Priceless gift Christ makes us worthy of
The deepest sin can’t rise above
Calvary’s love

Calvary’s love has never faltered
All its wonders still remain
Souls still take eternal passage
Sins atoned and heaven gained
Sins forgiven and heaven gained

Bonus Song: In the Night (My Hope Lives On) – Andrew Peterson (2010)

Here is something a little more recent as a bonus. I cannot help but share this masterpiece by Andrew Peterson.

I am weary with the pain of Jacob’s wrestling
In the darkness with the fear, in the darkness with the fear
But he met the morning wounded with a blessing
So in the night, my hope lives on

And when Elisha woke surrounded by the forces
Of the enemies of God, the enemies of God
He saw the hills aflame with angels on their horses
So in the night, my hope lives on

Oh in the night
Oh in the night
Oh in the night
My hope lives on

I see the slave that toils beneath the yoke unyielding
And I can hear the captive groan, hear the captive groan
For some hand to stay the whip his foe is wielding
Still in the night, my hope lives on

I see the armies of the enemy approaching
And the people driven, trembling, to the shore
But a doorway through the waters now is opening
So in the night, my hope lives on

Oh in the night
Oh in the night
Oh in the night
My hope lives on

Like the son who thought he’d gone beyond forgiveness
Too ashamed to lift his head, but if he could lift his head
He would see his father running from a distance
In the night, my hope lives on

And I can see the crowd of men retreating
As He stands between the woman and their stones
And if mercy in His holy heart is beating
Then in the night, my hope lives on

Well I remember how they scorned the son of Mary
He was gentle as a lamb, gentle as a lamb
He was beaten, He was crucified, and buried
And in the night, my hope was gone

But the rulers of this earth could not control Him
No, they did not take His life, He laid it down
And all the chains of death could never hope to hold Him
So in the night, my hope lives on

And I can see the Son of Man descending
And the sword He swings is brighter than the dawn
And the gates of hell will never stand against Him
So in the night, my hope lives on

Oh in the night
Oh in the night
Oh in the night
My hope lives on

Oh in the night
Oh in the night
Oh in the night
My hope lives on

This list could go on and on. What are some of your favorite songs of comfort?

-D. Eaton

The Role of “Happiness” in Leaving the Faith

It is common these days to hear people who appeared to walk close to the Lord, announce to the world that they are embracing a sinful lifestyle, or that they have doubted their faith and are moving on to other things. Usually, these announcements involve a discussion of their happiness. They will allude to the fact that they were in a time of sorrow, but now they are happy. What should we think about such an announcement? Should we not be glad they are happy? Do we want them to be depressed? What we should think about when we hear these claims is the deceptive nature of sin.

Scripture says that our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, and much too often, we do not take this warning seriously enough. Now, I do not claim to have insight into the exact reasons why each person would decide to grab on to their lusts and forsake their obedience to the Lord, but there are a few general contours which usually take place in all these cases.

First, it does not happen overnight. Falls of this nature usually progress from what we sometimes consider lesser sins. We are prone to wander, and we must always be on guard. Thoughts enter the mind, and instead of dealing with them, we begin to dwell upon them. Then those thoughts progress into small acts of compromise, and years later, there seems to be no way of reversing the trend. The warning here should be clear, with whatever sin we are dealing, one of the critical battlegrounds, if not the key battleground, is the mind and affections. We must take every thought captive and not wait until they manifest in other ways.

What does this have to do with happiness? Following Jesus disrupts our pleasure in pursuing sin even in our thought life. What we watch on TV, the music we choose to listen to, and what we spend our time looking at online are all free game. For the true Christian, once the Holy Spirit enters our life, a civil war between flesh and spirit begins. This struggle is not easy. For those who merely profess Christianity, it is even worse. Christianity disrupts their desires for sin, but they lack the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives to have any victory or find any joy in it. Talk about a recipe for depression. Though they experience common grace during this time, without a heart changed by the power of God and saving faith in him, failure is inevitable. You cannot subdue the flesh in the power of the flesh.

Second, comes the questioning of God. “Did the Lord really say?” is the question that inevitably comes to mind. During this point, whether consciously or unconsciously, something begins to cause them to put scripture in a place of lesser authority. Unfortunately, what usually takes its place, and causes revision to the clear interpretation of the word of God, is “happiness.” Some make this such a point in their announcements that they will admit that before they walked away, they had to take anti-depressants to cope. However, according to them, the good news is that they are happy now. So why would they bring this up? Though they often do not state it explicitly, it is for the simple reason that they want us to make the same logical conclusion they made. “If I am not happy, something must be wrong with my understanding of God or his word.” Of course, this understanding is typically the biblical understanding Christians have held thought the history of the church.

Third, churches often help lead them down this path. This trend of putting happiness first did not appear out of thin air. It saturates American evangelicalism. All we have to do is listen to Christian music, attend Christian conferences, or even attend the preaching in many churches to hear this message. Many Evangelical teachers and preachers have substituted the true gospel for something a little more palatable to culture, and the shift is subtle. Instead of preaching law and gospel where they tell us the truth that we need to come to Christ because we are sinners deserving of wrath and that the wages of sin is death, what many preach in its place are sorrow and self-esteem. The reason we need to come to Christ, they tell us, is not because we are sinners deserving wrath, but because we feel lonely, things aren’t going right in our life, and because we are unsatisfied at the moment. Jesus is no longer the mediator; he is our therapist. Jesus did not come to save us from our sin and guilt; he came to save us from our sadness. The problem with this is evident when we ask, what happens when a “Christian” becomes unhappy, lonely, or unsatisfied? What is the problem now? They already have Jesus. The issue must be with the way we interpret Jesus. And so it goes.

The problem is that striving against sin, whether in ourselves or culture, is never comfortable or pleasant. Striving against sin can even make us lonely, because some people will reject us for it, and we may also face times of heaviness and great sorrow because of it too.

The book of Hebrews makes this point; it encourages us to press on in our fight against sin. It reminds us that we “have not resisted to bloodshed striving against sin” (Heb. 12:4). The point of this verse is, we must strive against sin even if it gets us killed, which is certainly not a “happy” experience.

Here is what I want to say to those who have given in to their lusts to find “happiness.” Yes, it is hard struggling against sinful desires that war against your soul. It may cause you unhappiness for a time, but you have not yet resisted to bloodshed. It would be better to enter the kingdom of heaven after a long and unpleasant fight than to go to hell on beds of ease. Come home! Repent, find forgiveness in Jesus, and start fighting against sin again, for any temporary happiness you think you now experience will be short-lived. Even though living a life battling with sin may be tough, it cannot be compared to the glory that awaits us in heaven with our Savior.

Sin is deceptive and always looks good at first, but it always promises more than it can deliver. In the end, when you walk away, what you are gaining is the paltry tin of worldly pleasures, and you are giving away the glory of possessing the pearl of great price, Jesus Christ. Even in our darkest nights, he has promised to be with us in the dungeon. He is our light in the darkness, our food when we are hungry, the living water when we are thirsty, and, most importantly, our forgiveness for our sins. Once we understand our sin and forgiveness, we know that anything short of hell is mercy, and, at that moment, we find joy and realize that he does turn our mourning into dancing. In the end, Jesus is our joy, but he will never be that if we do not understand our sin is the real reason we need him, not our sadness. It is here that we begin to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

For anyone who claims to be a Christian but has drifted into sin, I pray, if you will not repent now, that you are a true Christian who will be brought back by the chastening hand of the Lord (Heb. 12:11). The unfortunate thing for many who find themselves in this situation is that they never come back because they are not his, and scripture is clear:

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. -Hebrews 12:8

The only reason why someone would ultimately and finally fall away from the faith is an unregenerate heart. May we all be aware of the roaring lion and his tactics. May we guard our hearts diligently even when it is painful. I, for one, will not be glad when someone who professed Christ claims to find happiness in his or her sinful lifestyle. Instead, I will weep for them to come home.

-D. Eaton

CCM Backbeat: I Put Away My Idols by Dion

Many people are familiar with the music of Dion (DiMucci) even if they do not realize it. In the early 60’s he had a several rock hits. Two of his biggest were, Runaround Sue and The Wanderer. These songs made him a household name during this time, and in 1989 he was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame.

What many people do not know is that, similar to Bob Dylan, B.J. Thomas, and Kanye West, he later professed faith in Jesus and released a couple of CCM albums. Today, I want to take a look at his 1983 album, I Put Away My Idols. My hope is that, for those who remember it, it will be an enjoyable trip down memory lane, and for those of you not familiar with the album, that it will be an introduction worthy of your time. To do this, I would like to highlight four songs off the album. The lyrics for several of his Christian songs are not available online, so I hope to correct that on the last two songs we look at as well.

I Put Away My Idols

Let’s start with the title track, I Put Away My Idols. Much of the album has a similar upbeat rock feel like his earlier secular work, and this song is no exception. If you have heard any songs from this album, it would be this one.

I will not include all of the lyrics here since they are in the video, but I always enjoy songs that give us a glimpse into someone’s conversion story, and this song does just that.

I was living by my horoscope
Taking pills to cope
With my pain
Rock and roll was my identity
My whole security
I made a name

He even gives a nod to Romans where we are told that the natural man serves the creation rather than the Creator.

Looking back over my years
My story did unfold
I worshipped people and their gifts
Not the gift giver at all

But in the end, he hears the voice of the Shepherd.

Truly from above I heard a friend
Truly now you must be born again
I put away my idols
I stripped away all the titles
Money wrinkles and things do decay
I put away my idols

They Won’t Tell You

Another favorite song of mine on this album is one which takes on the vanity of so much television programming. It was true in the 1980’s, and it is even more true today’ They Won’t Tell You.

Here are the lyrics. It is also a fun trip down 80’s TV memory lane.

Good morning America glad to tune you in
Days of our lives
It ran right to the end
For your morning excitement
You’ll catch The Price is Right
Your midday romance You’ll find on
The Edge of Night

And we’ll take a pause to tell you what you need
To get through The Days of our Lives and to succeed
A pill for pain, some soap to clean you up
A brand new car and some coffee to fill your cup

But they won’t tell you what you need to know
(They won’t tell you)
Jesus paid the price to free your soul
(Jesus freed you)
The TV keeps you strung out on the pages of this world
While the radio keeps you hooked on the rock n roll

I tell you, It don’t make no sense at all
But it’s been that way ever since the fall
Powers of darkness tryin’ to do you in
Drivin’ you deeper and deeper into your sin

Now it’s time to turn on the evenin’ news
But I’d rather hear Muddy Waters sing the blues
You’ve gotta keep up to know what’s goin’ down
Who’s winnin’ and losin’, which side’s gainin’ ground

A little bit later we’ll turn on some comic relief
Hah, somethin’ funny to make you show your teeth
A Fantasy Island to help you get away
A celebrity show to see what they got to say

But you won’t find it on the Johnny Carson show
(They won’t tell you)
And Norman Lear won’t put you in the know
(Jesus freed you)
Archie Bunker, he will say goodbye when the season ends
But Jesus will always be your friend

I tell you, There’s just one way to go
Turn on your life, turn off the picture show
Stand in the love and the light of reality
Accept Him as Lord and He will set you free

But you won’t find it in the People magazine
(They won’t tell you)
The Truth, the Life, the One who makes you clean
(Jesus freed you)
Charlie’s Angels cannot save you
From the darkness in this world
Barnaby Jones, he cannot clue you in

I’ll tell you, They won’t tell you what you need to know
(They won’t tell you)
Jesus paid the price to free your soul
(Jesus freed you)
TV keeps you strung out on the pages of this world
While the radio keeps you hooked on the rock n roll

Yeah, they won’t tell you
(They won’t tell you)
What you need to know
(Jesus freed you)
What you need to know

Give It Up and Surrender

Another toe-tapper on the album is called, Give It Up and Surrender. This song takes a look at the role of pride in the fall of Adam and Eve and in our lives as well.

Satan said, you can eat of the tree
The fruit will open up your eyes
Eve said that looks good to me
I wanna be wise
That is how all the trouble began
As a matter of pride
Man just had to have it his way
And now he’s got to run and hide

Woah, Give it up and surrender
Oh, give it up and be free
Let that pride go and give up to God
And repent of the tree

Yeah, God sent the Lord to help us along
So that we might understand
Just exactly how to know right from wrong
And the weakness of man
But still we turn our backs and run from it all
As a matter of pride
And when we do, we stumble and fall
This could be a long hard ride

Woah, give it up and surrender
Yeah, give it up and be free
Let that pride go and give up to God
Give it up, give it up, be free
Let it go

Ah, now we get to the back of the book
As we run God’s patience to the end
But still he’s just and he’s true to His word
His only Son He did send

Aw, but still we go against the will of the Lord
In so much that we do
But still His love and His mercy does a part
Salvation for me and you

I said, give it up and surrender
Give it up and be free
Let that pride go and give up to God
And repent of the tree (repeat)

Give it up and be free

Trust in the Lord

The final song I want to highlight is Trust in the Lord because, in the end, that is exactly what we need to do. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. What I like about this song, is how much of it is scripture set to music.

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart
and lean not on your own understanding
Acknowledge the Lord in all of your ways
And He will make your path straight (Repeat)

Jonah got along in the belly of whale
Daniel in the lion’s den
I know a man who lived on faith to the very end

Now the good book says that without faith
it is impossible to please God
because anyone who comes to him
must believe

You see, you trust in the Lord with all of your heart
and lean not on your own understanding
Acknowledge the Lord in all of your ways
And He will make your path straight

Against all hope, father Abraham
In hope he did believe
God calls things that are not as though they were

Oh, now God said it, I believe it
And that is good enough for me
We do walk by faith
and not by what we see

You see we trust in the Lord with all of your heart
and lean not on your own understanding
Acknowledge the Lord in all of your ways
And He will make your path straight

Faith is being sure of what we hope for
and it is certain of what we do not see
Faith it surely comes by hearing
the word of God you see
God you see

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart
and lean not on your own understanding
Acknowledge the Lord in all of your ways
And He will make your path straight (Repeat)

If you would like to listen to the album in its entirety, you can do so for free as a YouTube playlist here. Of course, nothing beats pulling a 12 inch vinyl record out of its sleeve and giving it a spin.

What about you? Do you have any memories of this album, or did you see Dion perform any of these songs in concert? Are there any other albums you would like to see highlighted as part of the CCM Backbeat? Let me know in the comments.

-D. Eaton

CCM Backbeat: Lyrics That Were Not Afraid

Someone once asked me, “What is one topic that you know way too much about that has nothing to do with your career or education?” My immediate answer was, “80’s Christian music.” Actually, it goes back further than the 80’s. I am a collector of classic Christian vinyl records, and I listen to them regularly as well. As I write this, the Keith Green record in the picture above is filling the house with songs about the Christian life.

I owe a great debt to the Christian artists of the past. They were the soundtrack for my growth in Christ. They challenged me when I was complacent, and comforted me with the gospel when I fell short. I am no expert on the topic of Christian music, but I do enjoy talking about it. With that in mind, I will be starting a new feature on this blog called The CCM Backbeat. These will be occasional posts about the Christian music of the past. We will look at its successes and failures, review albums, talk about the artists struggles, and even take a look at whether an artist has remained strong in the faith or wandered away. All of this will be done with the intention of encouraging us in our fight of faith.

In recent years, there has been a steady decline in Christian music other than in the worship music genre. There are still some great artists out there doing great things, but there is a reason why radio stations like Air1 had to switch formats to more of a worship style. It is because there is not nearly as much good non-worship Christian music being produced.

Our culture is changing. This is why I believe it is worthwhile to highlight some of the music from the past. Sometimes, simply looking back only 30 or 40 years gives us a good benchmark to see how much society has changed. Some of those changes are for the better, and some of them for ill.

Christian music of the 70’s – 90’s was not perfect. There was plenty to lament even back then. As an example, I recently pulled out an album by Petra called Beat the System, as I was listening to it, I thought, “this is quality classic rock.” Then I remembered that when it came out, it was about two to three years behind the musical trends of the day. There were some trendsetters, as we will explore, but being a day late to the game was a common feature of much of the Christian music of the past. There were exception, of course, but we regularly wished for more quality music with better production value. As that came to fruition in later years, however, I believe we began to lose something even more important in much of the music: the message of the songs began to bow to our politically correct culture. Even if we do have better production value today, I am afraid we did not get what we wanted. I will talk about the exceptions to this statement in future posts, because Andrew Peterson and several other current artists need to be thanked for their contributions.

With this post, I want to take a look at a distinctive feature of the CCM music of the past. It was often fearless in speaking the truth. Sometimes it was done well, and, other times, it was done poorly. Sometimes the theology was strong. Other times, it was weak, but it rarely failed to make an attempt. Sometimes, the messages where so strong, or done with such a daring that the artists had their music kicked out Christian book stores; Larry Norman and Steve Taylor come to mind. That thought alone is hard to believe when we look at all the heterodox materials that are sold in many Christian bookstores today.

Let me close this inaugural CCM Backbeat post with a few examples of lyrics that would have never made it passed the cutting room floor today. As you read these lyrics, realize, you will never hear anything like this on a Lauren Daigle album.

Let’s start with the lyrics for a song called, Oh Buddha, by the Imperials, featuring the legendary Russ Taff, where they address false religions.

Well, Old Buddha was a man
and I’m sure that he meant well
But I pray for his disciples
lest they wind up in hell
And I’m sure that old Mohammed
thought he knew the way
But it won’t be Hare Krishna
we stand before on The Judgment Day

No, it won’t be old Buddha
that’s sitting on the throne
And it won’t be old Mohammed
that’s calling us Home
And it won’t be Hare Krishna
that plays that trumpet tune
And we’re going to see
The Son not Reverend Moon!

-The Imperials, Oh, Buddha

Or how about this song by Steve Taylor where he addresses churches abandoning the faith because they have itching ears and become nothing more than discotheques.

Sunday needs a pick me up?
Here’s your chance
Do you get tired of the same old square dance?
Allemande right now
All join hands
Do-si-do to the promised boogieland
Got no need for altar calls
Sold the altar for the mirror balls
Do you shuffle? do you twist?
’cause with a hot hits playlist, now we say

This disco used to be a cute cathedral
Where the chosen cha-cha every day of the year
This disco used to be a cute cathedral
Where we only play the stuff you’re wanting to hear

The song comes to a conclusion with these lines:

Sell your holy habitats
This ship’s been deserted by sinking rats
The exclusive place to go
It’s where the pious pogo
Don’t you know

-Steve Taylor, This Disco Used to be a Cute Cathedral

These artists were not afraid to address us when we grew lukewarm. I will never forget the the conviction I felt the first time I heard these lyrics by Keith Green

“oh, bless me, lord!
Bless me, lord!”
You know, it’s all I ever hear!
No one aches,
No one hurts,
No one even sheds one tear
But, he cries,
He weeps,
He bleeds,
And he cares for your needs
And you just lay back,
And keep soaking it in
Oh, can’t you see such sin?!
’cause he brings people to your door,
And you turn them away
As you smile and say,
“god bless you!
Be at peace!”
And all heaven just weep,
’cause Jesus came to your door,
You left him out on the streets

Oh, can’t you see such sin?!
The world is sleeping in the dark,
That the church just can’t fight,
’cause it’s asleep in the light!
How can you be so dead?!
When you’ve been so well fed.
Jesus rose from the grave,
And you!
You can’t even get out of bed!

-Keith Green, Asleep in the Light

Let me end with these lyrics by Larry Norman. Norman had a direct audience with the rock and roll drug culture. This was a regular cause of consternation for many Christians of the 70’s and 80’s. Here are the lyrics he wrote after spending some time with Janis Joplin.

Sipping whiskey from a paper cup
You drown your sorrows till you can’t stand up
Take a look at what you’ve done to yourself
Why don’t you put the bottle back on the shelf
Yellow fingers from your cigarettes
Your hands are shaking while your body sweats
Why don’t you look into Jesus, He’s got the answer

He then turns his focus to those living the cheap sex and drug lifestyle. After reading these lines you will understand one reason why evangelicalism distanced themselves from him (parental guidance suggested).

Gonorrhea on Valentines Day
And you’re still looking for the perfect lay
You think rock and roll will set you free
You’ll be deaf before your thirty three
Shooting junk till your half insane
Broken needle in your purple vein

Why don’t you look into Jesus, He’s got the answer

-Larry Norman: Why Don’t You Look Into Jesus

We will end here, but I hope this is enough to whet your appetite for future posts where we will look more in depth at these artists and albums. There are so many to talk about, but in the meantime, let us not be afraid to be bold with the truth we have been called to proclaim.

-D Eaton

What are some of your favorite Christian songs or albums of the past? Let me know in the comments.

Church Entertainment as a Substitute for God

Perhaps we rely on entertainment in the church to keep things interesting because we do not rely enough on God to keep our gatherings compelling. Entertainment is easy compared to waiting on God because waiting on God requires that we come to church with hearts prepared, undistracted by the world, and with a desire to commune with God corporately.

Though it is true that God can and does move in places where entertainment happens, have we begun to rely on artificial hype to fill the void when He is missing? Has entertainment become a cover for our spiritual emptiness?

The thing about amusement is that it is easy to manufacture. Think of all the amazing secular productions that have grabbed your attention and not let you go. They were produced without long hours in prayer seeking the Lord, and the creators created them without hearts aflame with the holiness of God. Do not get me wrong. It was hard work, but it took no spiritual effort. It may be an amazing testament to the natural man made in the image of God, but that is not what the church is to represent. The world and the people of God can find that anywhere.

If the lights, recording quality praise bands, drama teams, and preachers with magnetic personalities were all gone, would we be close enough to God to see him move? Would we still gather?

I do not have the answers to all these questions because I do not know the context of your church. Your church may not have any of these trappings and still be far from God. Nor am I saying that God will not use anything that looks like entertainment. I pray your church leaders have amazing musical skill and that the Lord has gifted pastor with oratory ability, but I also pray, when you gather together what truly impresses your heart is much more than those things. If not, we might as well go to a movie or a theater performance.

Maybe if we rely a little less on these things in our services, we will rely a little more on God. If we do that and our gatherings become dull, maybe we should examine our hearts, get down on our knees, and ask the Lord to move and sanctify us. Though it may not be appealing to the world, that would be a corporate gathering worth attending.

-D. Eaton

Good and Gracious King by CityAlight

May your spirit soar as you worship your king with this beautiful song.

I approach the throne of glory
Nothing in my hands I bring
But the promise of acceptance
From a good and gracious King

I will give to You my burden
As You give to me Your strength
Come and fill me with Your Spirit
As I sing to You this praise

You deserve the greater glory
Overcome, I lift my voice
To the King in need of nothing
Empty handed I rejoice

You deserve the greater glory
Overcome with joy I sing
By Your love I am accepted
You’re a good and gracious King

O what grace that You would see me
As Your child and as Your friend
Safe, secure in You forever
I pour out my praise again

You deserve the greater glory
Overcome, I lift my voice
To the King in need of nothing
Empty handed I rejoice

You deserve the greater glory
Overcome with joy I sing
By Your love I am accepted
You’re a good and gracious King

Holy, holy, Lord Almighty
Good and gracious
Good and gracious
Holy, holy, Lord Almighty
Good and gracious King

Holy, holy, Lord Almighty
Good and gracious
Good and gracious
Holy, holy, Lord Almighty
Good and gracious King

You deserve the greater glory
Overcome, I lift my voice
To the King in need of nothing
Empty handed I rejoice

You deserve the greater glory
Overcome with joy I sing
By Your love I am accepted
You’re a good and gracious King

-CityAlight