Monday, February 27, 2012

Kingdom of God Media 1212.

the rest of Scott Stapp's "My Own Prison" :

I hear a thunder in the distance
See a vision of a cross
I feel the pain that was given
On that sad day of loss
A Lion roars in the darkness
Only He holds the key
A Light to free me from my burden
And grant me life eternally

Should have been dead
On a Sunday morning
Banging my head
No time for mourning
Ain't got no time

(And I said oh)
So I held my head up high
Hiding hate that burns inside
Which only fuels their selfish pride
(And I said oh)
We're all held captive
Out from the sun
A sun that shines on only some
We the meek are all in one

I cry out to God
Seeking only His decision
Gabriel stands and confirms
I've created my own prison
I cry out to God
Seeking only His decision
Gabriel stands and confirms
I've created my own prison

Christ's death was and still is serious business. That such a drastic measure had to be taken to dispose of our sin demonstrates the scary consequences that await anyone who has to atone for their own sin.

Only after this song's narrator experiences a taste of this scariness is he ready to hear the Lion's roar and see the Light who would free him from his spiritual burden. Such is the case for everyone; we all need a spiritual "wake up call" to jar us into comprehending our spiritual shortfalls. Only after we sit in the lonely prison cell we create for ourselves, only after we experience a taste of the frightening consequences of our sin will comprehend our desperate need for God's mercy.

This is why God sent Jesus Christ... to save us from ourselves and free us from our own prisons. He is the Author of our salvation from beginning to end. Mercy was his idea, and it is His to give as He sees fit. As the song goes, "I cry out to God seeking only His desision..." we created our own prisons... that was our contribution. Then Jesus took it upon Himself to bust us out of our prisons.
"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound."
--Isaiah 61:1


Creed -- "My Own Prison," Part 1

"My Own Prison" -- Lyrics by Scott Stapp

Court is in session, the verdict is in
No appeal on the docket today
Just my own sin
The walls are cold and pale
The cage made of steel
Screams fill the room
Alone I drop and kneel
Silence now the sound
My breath the only motion around
Demons cluttering around
My face showing no emotion
Shackled by my sentence
Expecting no return
Here there is no penance
My skin begins to burn

(And I said oh)
So I held my head up high
Hiding hate that burns inside
Which only fuels their selfish pride
(And I said oh)
We're all held captive
Out from the sun
A sun that shines on only some
We the meek are all in one

It still amazes me that this song was played on the radio so often... so much that during high school I actually grew tired of hearing it. But, like other songs that get tons of radio exposure, I grew tired of it without ever actually knowing the lyrics. It wasn't until Creed's later work ("My Sacrifice" and "Higher" in particular) that I started recognizing the band's spiritual astuteness. This was during college, soon after I was saved.
"My Own Prison" is a powerful illustration of sin, or the fact that we have sinned by breaking God's law. More to the point, these lyrics describe one man's genuine realization that he is sinful and there are frightening consequences to his sinfulness.

Notice that the song is titled "My Own Prison," not "Just Some Prison I'm Trapped In" or "The Prison God Imposed Upon Me." Stapp reacts to his own faults appropriately by calling it "his own." This hints at the first step toward reconciliation with God: The realization that we need reconciliation in the first place.

Most people will admit that they are not perfect, but few will take ownership of their spiritual trespasses to the point of asking God for help. Some go out of their way to brag about how "bad" or rebellious they are, but this is spiritually childish as well as counter-productive. Anyone who recognizes the disgusting ugliness of their sin would be foolish to brag about it. The only appropriate reaction to realizing our spiritual uncleanliness in light of God's holiness (which is hinted at in His law) is to fall to our faces and beg for mercy. This is the first step to obtaining mercy: Desperately wanting it.

God's law (the Ten Commandments for example) serves as a spiritual point of reference, to remind us that we are spiritually bankrupt. Take the commandment that says "Don't Lie;" this should remind anyone who reads this that they are a liar. Or we can see the law that says "Don't steal," and realize that we are all thieves.

Jesus clarified the exacting nature of the law when he said, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (refer to the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, for more examples.)
"Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith."
-- Paul to the church in Galatia, (Galations 3:24)

to be continued in " Creed -- 'My Own Prison,' Part 2 "

It's a Wonderful Life -- The Power of Prayer

George Bailey did the best he could for as long as he could. But things eventually became too much for him. He had just misplaced a large amount of money and was all out of options. Sitting there at the bar, he prayed, not eloquently, but in earnest.

At the same time, all this friends and family were praying for him. All this prayerful supplication brought George to God's attention (represented by Gabriel).

This is a realistic portrayal of how prayer gets it done. A large amount of concerted prayer arouses power in the heavenly places.

Notice how the people of Bedford Falls pray. They seek God's help on behalf of a man they truly care about, who has spent his life looking after them.

Notice also how George Bailey prays. He says, "Dear Father in heaven, I'm not a praying man, but if you're up there and you can hear me ... [he starts crying] ... show me the way ... show me the way... " This is true prayer. The way George cries out to God for help must be sincere because, if God doesn't help him, then he doesn't know how else he's going to get help.

George's prayer here resembles Creed's song, "One Last Breath":
"Please come now, I think I'm falling,
I'm holding to all I think is safe...
It seems I found the road to nowhere,
and I'm trying to escape.
I yelled back when I heard thunder
but I'm down to one last breath
and with it let me say,
let me say...

Hold me now
I'm six feet from the edge and I'm thinking
that maybe six feet
ain't so far down..."

Why did Kerry Livgren and Scott Stapp Leave Their Bands?

Kerry Livgren left Kansas ...
... and Scott Stapp left Creed.
... henceforth Kansas lost its formerly immense popularity and Creed broke up.

From a worldly, or measurable point of view, Livgren and Stapp's decisions were unwise. By leaving their bands they lost the huge fan base that would have listened with rapt attention to anything they had to say. They could have kept writing their Spirit-laden lyrics, which might have topped out the mainstream music charts time and again.

On the other hand God doesn't care about being mainstream. He designed His gospel to be anything but mainstream. Jesus hints at this when He says "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13,14).

It may be that leaving behind their old acts was inevitable. Both Kansas and Creed stuck together for at least ten years, during which they came out with some of the best selling albums the music industry has ever seen. I would imagine that, after so many years, Livgren and Stapp must have felt stifled. They probably wanted to express their faith straightforwardly instead of in the veiled manned that their positions in the mainstream music scene necessitated.

LifeHouse, Kerry Livgren, Scott Stapp and the "Christian" Stigma

It would seem that Lifehouse doesn't get as much mainstream air time as they used to. This might be for a couple of reasons: Either their style has deteriorated (which i doubt) or mainstream radio doesn't like playing bands that have been labeled (or branded) "Christian."

Every so often mainstream artists become Christian and then drop off the radar of mainstream entertainment. I might be imagining this. Then again, if this really does happen (to bands such as Lifehouse) I can think of two plausible reasons why: (1) people distrust religion and therefore avoid it or (2) people hate God and therefore avoid Him.

Of course there is no set equation for the "Christian" stigma. Scott Stapp went solo before he made his leap into the Christian music scene.
Consequently his debut solo album, "The Great Divide," wasn't nearly as popular as his work within Creed.

Another similar case is Kerry Livgren, whose popularity plummeted as soon as he left his post as lead singer and songwriter for Kansas to go solo and "Christian."

We might say that everyone who leaves their band behind to go solo crashes and burns on the pop charts... but this has not been the case for artists such as Beyonce Knowles (former lead singer of Destiny's Child) or Justin Timberlake (former lead singer of Nsync). It is more likely that anyone who goes solo and "Christian" at the same time will crash and burn on the pop charts.

Another possibility is that Christian bands tend to produce lower quality music than worldly bands because they are not as true to themselves as worldly bands. It is harder for a Christian band to be wholeheartedly godly than it is for a godless band to be wholeheartedly godless. Maybe Christian bands tend to be less artistically savvy than non-Christian bands because they struggle with a conflict of interests within themselves... an identity crisis if you will. It would difficult for a Christian band to be 100% God-inspired because there are other forces such as secular culture and man-made religion vying for their attention.

“My Sacrifice” -- A Prayer By Creed

Hello my friend, we meet again
It's been awhile, where should we begin?
Feels like forever
Within my heart are memories
Of perfect love that you gave to me
Oh, I remember...

When you are with me, I'm free
I'm careless, I believe
Above all the others we'll fly
This brings tears to my eyes
My Sacrifice

We've seen our share of ups and downs
Oh how quickly life can turn around
In an instant
It feels so good to reunite
Within yourself and within your mind
Let's find peace there

When you are with me, I'm free
I'm careless, I believe
Above all the others we'll fly
This brings tears to my eyes
My sacrifice

I just want to say hello again
I just want to say hello again


The beginning of Creed’s music video for “My Sacrifice” focuses on an elderly man sitting by himself. He is blind, judging by total whiteness of his eyes. This man is an older Scott Stapp. The man sits there, thoughtful, until he begins to sink into a reverie. The camera follows him into his reverie, zooming in on his ghostly eyes, deep enough to see his memories.
The ensuing music video is the old man’s daydream. It’s a general flashback of his younger years. Everyone is carrying on in his old neighborhood as they used to all those years ago, except everything is covered with about 5 feet of water. There are kids playing baseball, the old movie house and even the mailman. No one is bothered by the water. There are childhood friends, old girlfriends and monks (representing rigid religiosity).
As Scott floats along in his simple boat, he sees a fist rise out of the water, which he grasps and pulls upward. The fist is connected to a replica of himself. His other self rises up out of the water and sits down in the boat with himself. He does a similar rising out of the water in his music video for “With Arms Wide Open.” This represents his baptism, or the momentous occasion when he came to life spiritually. When Stapp was baptized he was buried with Christ in death so that he might rise again with Christ in His resurrection, leaving all sin behind, washed clean in God's sight forever.
Toward the End of Creed’s music video for “My Sacrifice” there is a violent storm swirling around, filling the air with all kinds of debris.Stapp sits in a nearby diner as he watches a boy take shelter from the storm under a truck. Out in the middle of the storm there is motherly-looking young woman who does her best to stand up to the wind. Despite her violent surroundings, she does her best to look hopeful. This seems to be Stapps supportive mother. The storm dies down and Scott walks out of the diner, to embrace the boy. The music video ends with the boy’s eyes fading to white, matching the aforementioned old man’s eyes. The eyes zoom back out again and it is the old man coming out of his daydream.
“My Sacrifice” gives a glimpse into Scott Stapp’s lifelong spiritual journey. The song addresses someone called “My Sacrifice.” This must be Jesus Christ. Who else has died as a sacrifice and yet still lives today so that He might be addressed?
A lesson from “My Sacrifice” is: The journey Christ's people take with Him is real. This journey involves genuine life-experience.The general summation of our lives impacts our spiritual existence and visa versa. The most significant turning point anyone might experience throughout their entire life-experience is baptism in Christ.

Creed -- "Higher"

Creed's song, "Higher," is an expanded version of the simple prayer "God's kingdom come." These lyrics come from the heart of one who has experienced God's grace and yet must continue to live in this fallen world.
"Higher" Lyrics:

When dreaming I'm guided to another world
Time and time again
At sunrise I fight to stay asleep
'Cause I don't want to leave the comfort of this place
'Cause there's a hunger, a longing to escape
From the life I live when I'm awake

So let's go there
Let's make our escape
Come on, let's go there
Let's ask can we stay?

Can you take me higher?
To a place where blind men see
Can you take me higher?
To a place with golden streets

Although I would like our world to change
It helps me to appreciate
Those nights and those dreams
But, my friend, I'd sacrifice all those nights
If I could make the Earth and my dreams the same
The only difference is
To let love replace all our hate

Up high I feel like I'm alive for the very first time
Sit up high I'm strong enough to take these dreams
And make them mine


If we are God's people, then we are waiting for eternal rest and yet we are also experiencing heaven right now. The fullness of God's Presence is something much more real than a dream and yet, for expression's sake, this adequately describes the heavenly foundation of God's kingdom right now as it is on earth. Only His enlightened ones, who have been taught by His Spirit, are really aware of Him and His word among us.

God allows his people to escape the futility of death, but we still must live on earth for a while. We can, at least, live at peace knowing that the purpose of our everyday lives has eternal meaning in Christ.

There is a new thirst and hunger that God instills in His people that only He can fulfill. It is a conscience-clearing hunger. It is the rightest, richest kind of hunger.

The fact that Creed performed this song hundreds of times in front of all kinds of audiences is awesome. I appreciate the fact that this band made God's truth available to so many people.
Judging by Scott Stapp's lyrics (he put words to most if not all of Creed's songss), he possessed a
seeker's heart. As a major bonus, he fulfills his seeking desire while bringing a significant dose of godly truth to the world.

He was strategic to keep from being labeled "Christian;" he knew that such a connotation would be primarily religious and therefore detrimental to any genuine, spiritual progress. This would have only hampered his ability to perform in the mainstream music scene.

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