Jesus Music and Hot Dog Evangelism

Recently, I had the task to select special Jesus Music for the new Jesus Music Radio show, which will begin streaming Saturday nights on SnTRadio.com from 6 p.m. until Midnight all summer long in advance of launching 10710981_951480128202616_49497769441206796_nJesusMusicRadio.com in the of Fall 2016. Seeing classic Jesus Music album covers and hearing songs from groups like Prodigal and Fireworks caused me to remember The Harvest Rockfest which happened in June of 1982. It was held in outdoors on a Saturday in the parking lot of the Odeum in Villa Park, Il. The artists I remember being there wereProdigal, Marty McCall and Fireworks, Rick Cua, Denny Correll and DeGarmo & Key. I know there were one or two others that I forgot because I missed them when I left around Noon for Ohare Airport to pick up Denny Correll whom I had met on several other occasions and his band who flew in from Los Angeles. I was pretty psyched because I was finally going to meet a bass player from Love Song that I really admire1700317_origd, Jay Truax. He was playing with Denny Correll’s band.  Accompanying them was a drummer and lead guitarist who appeared to be LA session musicians.

The ride to the event was pretty uneventful with Denny chatting away as he caught me up on the going’s on in his life and was intrigued why a successful Christian retailer like me had left that for a risky career in Christian radio. I told him that “the Lord works in mysterious ways.” Once we arrived and unpacked, I finally had a chance to talk with Jay. The drummer pretty well kept to himself and attended to his prized drums… a snare and set of cymbals.

Midway through our conversation, the guitarist wandered over and joined in, telling us about the struggles of trying to make a living in the LA music scene. He spoke fondly of his young wife and brand new baby at home. There was a quiet desperation about him so I told Jay that I’d catch him later and concentrated on my attention on him. It was about 2 p.m. and the sun was bearing down on us so I asked if he wanted a bottle of water or something. He said, “No” but his body language told me otherwise. “It’s my treat. Have you eaten anything yet?”,  I asked. He shook his head from side-to-side. I pointed to the portable concession stand. “Come on, I’ll get you whatever you want to eat,” I said as we made our way from the side of the stage to the back of the enclosed audience area. “But you don’t know me,” he said incredulously. “I just want to share the love of Jesus with you. It is my honor to do this.”  So he ate his Chicago -style hot dog between sips of Coca-cola and he thanked me. Then we parted company as I went to visit with another friend backstage as Rick Cua was about to do his set. Together we marveled at the incredible slide guitar work of Dave Perkins.

At the end of Denny’s early evening set, as he gave an altar call, this guitarist laid down his guitar, leaped off the stage, and gave his life to the Lord in front of everyone without hesitation. I found out later that he had no money nor food for the day. The simple act of buying an obviously hungry musician something to eat was the tipping point where he had a personal experience with the Lord in the form of someone putting the gospel into action. I have never forgotten this lesson of hot dog evangelism.

The last time I spoke to Jay Truax a few years ago he reported that this man was a still a solid believer and serving the Lord in studio music industry on the West Coast. Amazing grace, indeed!

Glory to God, James

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Jesus Music Is Different From Today’s Christian Music

Most people today have not heard any Jesus Music because it happened long before 2000 AD.

Blame it on the desire by so many programming today’s Christian radio and churches to be perceived as “relevant” but there is an unwritten rule not to feature any songs recorded last century during worship or on the radio. Many Jesus Music pioneers who are actively performing today get very little airplay and tend to draw small concert crowds. Yet when one hears Jesus Music, it is instantly recognized as a “Christian” song compared to some of today’s Christian Music.

Last week I was chatting on Facebook with Al Cox, who has just launched a new public group “CCM & Christian Rock of the 80’s & 90’s” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1713244062229156/) when he commented that at 42 years old, he never tires of the “classics”. “Neither do I” was my response when he said something that was so profound,

“Yeah, something about the music then that isn’t there now.”

Boom! Did that get me thinking. I’ve been listening to Christian Music since the mid-1960’s. I founded SnTRadio.com in part to curate all the Christian Music that I could get my hands on since the Jesus Movement and place it into an on-going and ever expand music archive online. My intention has been to educate and inspire future generations with an accurate musical timeline, which takes listeners all the way back to the roots. You can read through the majority of the hard-to-find Jesus Music portion of the archive while listening to SnT Radio here. Then Al added;

“Some of the stuff today including rock, really lyrically you can not tell if it is Christian or not. You knew it with, Dion, Dallas Holm, Carman, Petra, and others.”

Jesus Music artist Dion on the cover of his 1981 album, Only Jesus" is a side-view of his head and upper chest.

 

I think a couple of distinctions need to be made in order to fully understand the good, the bad and the ugly concerning the current state of Christian Music. First, in my opinion, there are only two distinct forms of Christian music being produced: one is strictly for commercial purposes (profit), and the second is for worship and edification of the church. All the major Christian labels are now subsidiaries of secular record companies like Sony and Capitol.

Vague lyrics or just the mention of Jesus in a pop song doesn’t make it “Christian” per se. On the other hand, Jesus spoke in many parables to effectively communicate the Gospel and describe the Kingdom of God. He did this so a mass audience would understand His teaching. Knowing when and how much to quote the Bible is as much a matter of discernment as is reducing God’s Word to a readable bumper sticker. Overkill never works well. It normally ends badly with the exact opposite of the desired outcome. Al the added,

“I saw a recent Christian rock title called “CoConut Dracula”. I don’t even think of horror things when I think of Christ. Yeah, that’s why I don’t listen to much new stuff.”

I fully get bands like Mute Math or Stryper, (Michael Sweet) or Switchfoot saying “we’re not a Christian band, but a band comprised of musicians who happen to be Christ-followers.” Even U2, one of the biggest bands in the world for the past 25 years started out playing sets dominate with Christian message songs for Christian youth rallies in Ireland until they elected to make a change in bass players who was not a professing Christian. Yet one of the highlights of every U2 performance is the song 40 (based on Psalm 40) that ends with thousands singing the chorus acapella as single spotlight tightly focuses on Bono’s crucifix that’s dangling from a microphone stand in the darken hall or stadium. In these days where non-Christlike activity (aka sin) is saturating the media, the Internet, and every aspect of society even a little light shines brightly.

The fact that a large segment of popular Christian Music is designed for radio with sales and profit as the driving force is not at all surprising because they have dividends to pay to their stakeholders. The key distinction is the primary motive for creating the music. One is for making money and profit. The other is to worship God on earth as it is in Heaven.

Modern worship from the likes of Hillsong, Bethel Music and IHOP-KC have all shared roots in common with the seminal worship & praise bodywork of Keith Green, Andrae Crouch, The Vineyard, Integrity and Maranatha Music from the Jesus Movement of the 70’s, The Vineyard and Integrity from the 80’s afterglow.

The influence of Morningstar Ministries musicians Don Potter and Leonard Jones combined with the teaching of Ray Hughes over the three decades have been a bridge from the old “worship & praise” to the now sound that is fueling the new uncompromised and spontaneous worship cherished by so many of the millennial generation. Giving glory to God and encountering the manifest presence of God is the driving motive behind the creation of this worship music. Pure, genuine, and authentic vertical lyrics that lead listeners into an atmosphere of Heavenly worship described in Revelation 4 and 5 is the goal.The songs and psalmists that break through into this lofty realm become the modern hymns churches sing with regularity.

My response to Al’s original statement was “I believe that it is a kind of anointing by the Spirit of God that was present during the Jesus Movement.” Even though there were “Christian” record labels back in the day the music was created in most cases to glorify God as a priority and make money if possible. It appeared that God honored and blessed it. When Christian Music became more of a business, Jesus Music faded somewhere along the way until a few went back to creating music in worship to God as in Heaven. So now you have the true spirit of the Jesus Movement sweeping through and stirring up a whole new community of worshippers to benefit the body of Christ. This is a real move of God and I’m expecting a revisitation upon this generation like we saw in the late 60’s and 70’s.

Written by James Kevin Burkhardt