Life Compass
Keeping You Pointed in the Right Direction

Night of Joy

Okay, I admit it. At age 42 I am not a huge CCM fan or proponent. BUT I am not an over the hill crank about it either. I have long lived by the music philosophy… if it’s old doesn’t make it good and if it’s new doesn’t make it bad.

I play some Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Chris Tomlin, and others on the Drive @ 5 along with southern gospel and other styles. In the 70’s and 80’s pulpits thundered against “Christian” rock and “modern” Christian music. Then came Steve Green with People Need the Lord and all of a sudden even strict fundamental churches had a new anthem for soul winning and missions. Ray Boltz’s Thank You became THE special offering song of 90% of the Christian ministries across America. Then his other songs like The Altar, Watch the Lamb, Still Feel the Nails, and I Pledge Allegiance became staples of special music ministries around the country. Amy Grant’s El Shaddai and Thy Word put CCM on the map (so to speak).

When I was in college (more years ago now than I care to admit) Stryper was religious version of KISS. CCM hair bands like Petra carried a simple message: Jesus Rocks. Pastors hated it. Pulpits thundered against it. Christian schools and colleges outlawed it. BUT the youth listened. It spoke their language … not the slang or jargon of it but the reality: life is tough, people mess up, but God forgives. Churches preach that message but practice bondage. The music is about being free. THAT is what the young people love. The freedom of it.

Soooo, with my new duties in the ministry came the obligation to chaperone 32 young people to the Night of Joy at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. An entire night of CCM and “worldly” teenagers (so I thought).

First of all, I was taken back by the number of mainline denominations that were represented. Who knew Lutherans and Catholics liked MercyMe or Casting Crowns. Whether you like CCM or not … one thing is clear in their music: they’re not about religion. They advocate Christ and a personal relationship with Him. Not very Episcopalian I must say.

Hundreds and Hundreds of churches. Youth groups with matching tees with different slogans and messages: Trinity Lutheran – On A Mission From God, Got Jesus?, Bethany Baptist – Life Guard: Mine Walks On Water, Jesus: Don’t Leave Life Without Him, and many others. Now, here’s where my Independent, Fundamental, Baptist preacher friends scream, “Braemer! You’re now an eccumenical rebel!”

“Did all those other teens have the right standards?” Nope. “Were they all dressed right?” No. “Were they all good Christian teens or just worldly kids out for a good time?” Like every teen at a fundamental youth conference wants to be there for spiritual reasons…..

Hey, I went on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and waited for my sons at Space Mountain. It WAS Disney World afterall.

There were things I didn’t agree with at this Christian event. I hosted a regional youth conference in New York. I am sure there were pastors who came who didn’t agree with everything I did. That’s human nature.

Are there things about NOJ I would change if I were in charge? Duh, Yeah!

But what really made an impact on me was after Magic Kingdom closed and only those with an NOJ wrist bandS could stay … thousands and thousands and thousands of young people AND us old people were still there. WE FILLED DISNEY WORLD!

Walking from ride to ride with my boys and the youth from our church singing the music playing over the DISNEY sound system like Casting Crown’s Voice of Truth was incredible. Watching our youth and thousands of other Christian teens and even Disney employees singing along with Christian singers and musicians was truly moving. Through the decades millions have passed through the gates of Disney … the place where dreams come true. They gather at the court of Cinderella’s Castle for fireworks to end their night there. Now picture that same courtyard filled with Christians lifting their hands and singing out to the ONE who is The giver and fulfiller of dreams!

There are not enough words to express it….

Did I like all the music? Nope but that’s what a Disney Ice Cream Parlor and a $5.00 ice cream cone is for.

Does God like those styles of music? I have no idea. But I do know He loves it when His people praise Him and worship Him unashamedly. That makes it a worth while night…

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