let the songs i sing bring joy to You.

On Wednesdays nights, we’ve started a guy/girl study. Basically, we’re just sitting our students down and letting them talk about issues that plague their lives. Last week we talked about dating. And they had some really encouraging things to say. I’ll write about that soon, but there’s one issue that’s been brought up a lot recently among students I’ve talked to. Should we feel guilty when we listen to “secular” music? Are Christians allowed to listen to whatever music they want to? What do you think? Well, here’s what I think:

It depends on YOU.

I know that for me, I can have the lyrics to a song borderline memorized after hearing it one time. So if the song has cussing or a questionable message, those things are running through my mind like a hamster on a shiny wheel. Then, those words jump away from the song and creep their way into other sentences in my head. How long will it take before they start nose diving out of my mouth?

Ephesians 4:29 definitely pops into my head regarding these questions. It says “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Dictionary.com defines “unwholesome” as “deleterious to…moral well-being.” Wow. So, when we’re feeding unwholesome talk into our brains, does it effect our moral well-being? You bet it does.

When I realized how much the music I listened to was effecting my thought process, the first step I took was to delete any song from my iTunes that didn’t glorify God. I want to honor Him with every aspect of my life, including what I allow myself to listen to. Does that mean I can’t listen to the ‘Les Miserables’ soundtrack? What about Adele? Or Frank Sinatra? No.

Not everyone is like me, though. Some people can hear a song a million times and never actually know what the words are. My sister, for example,  makes up words that sound like the ones on the song. I have a friend that just hums the melody when she doesn’t know the words. So maybe lyrics don’t effect them as strongly as they do me.

How often do we get stuck on the do’s and don’ts of Christianity? I’ve heard students say that they didn’t want to get caught up in the “whole God thing” because they wanted to be able to live their lives. We focus so much on what other people are doing wrong or right, that we let our real mission on Earth suffer: loving God and loving others. There’s no in-between, no secret agenda. We need to focus on following God whole heartedly. For some people, that means changing the movies they watch and the music they listen to. For others, that may not be a big road block.

What’s wrong with cussing? If that’s where you’re at, then all I’m going to toss your way are these verses:

James 3:9-12, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.  Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

If you’re reading this and you want to get away from certain types of music, you just feel like all Christian music sounds like DC Talk or Audio Adrenaline, brace yourself to be surprised. Send me an email, FB message, snail mail, whatever…tell me your favorite “secular” bands, and I’ll send you a CD with Christian music that sounds the same.

I challenge you to go a week only listening to music that glorifies God and tell me if it changes how you see things. Are you thinking differently? Leave me a comment and let me know!


Listening to: “Rain Down” by B. Reith


back and forth and then forth and then back.

If you know me at all, you know that I love music. I think lyrics and melody have a way of transposing ideas into relatable thoughts. I can struggle for a way to put something into words, then all of a sudden I hear a song that invades my brain and speaks for me. Lately, our students here at Agone have been talking about that feeling when you head home from a week at church camp and you’re on fire for God, but over time it begins to disappear: the dreadful “Camp High.”

First of all, I happen to think a Camp High is awesome. That feeling is the Holy Spirit in it’s purest form: living inside a believer. When students get pumped about God, it usually happens at a church camp or retreat weekend. That’s just how things work. But that feeling doesn’t have to be contained in student events, that feeling can happen every day. How awesome is that? We can wake up on June 8 at camp and feel on fire for God, then wake up on September 15 at home and feel the same way. Some of you may have no idea what a Camp High even feels like. This song is basically a definition of that feeling.

There are some lines in this song that I think really highlight that Camp High feeling.

I’m gonna get it right this time/Gonna fight this time/This time I’m for real

I remember when I was a student in 2911 Students and I’d get home from camp and feel like, “Okay. This time I’m really going to change. I’m going to examine everything in my life and see if it really glorifies God. If it doesn’t, then it’s out.” Most of the fighting to follow God is fighting ourselves. The world convinces us that it knows better than we do, we buy into the lies and we battle the Holy Spirit living inside us. I’ve heard a lot of students talk about how this time at camp, everything would be different. Our students really want to change, they want to see the Spirit move in their daily lives. My prayer is that this summer, they’ll see that the Holy Spirit doesn’t live in Oklahoma, but inside all those who believe.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17

I always start so strong

This is a major one. I’ve seen students get back home from camp and really be changed. Then school starts back up and they go back into their comfort zones. Something truly incredible happened last week at Summit camp with our Agone students. A couple of the other leaders and I led the Ping Pong tract time (which is just where students from all churches can come and play made up ping pong games that we created as we went along). Three junior high boys from another church were calling one of our girl students ugly, disgusting and dirty. The girl pulled me aside and told me the situation. So, long story short, I Jedi mind-tricked them into telling me their names and their church. I informed our youth minister of the issue and he went and spoke to the pastor from the boys’ church. A few days later, the boys broke down during their quiet time and one of them ended up accepting Christ. They were made aware of some situations in the girl’s life and the Holy Spirit really convicted them. I know in my heart that these guys are going home completely changed and that the Holy Spirit won’t easily loose His grip on them. It’s incredible how God uses different situations to bring about His glory.

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40: 30-31

Before you even know it I’m right back at the start/Doing what I hate and breaking my own heart

This is what students are afraid of. They think that a Camp High is just a feeling that comes from a week of no sleep and fun games. When you think that feeling you’re experiencing is nothing more than just that, a feeling, that’s why it fades away. Students are letting themselves down left and right because they just don’t understand what those emotions are. That feeling can continue throughout the year by daily devotions and finding an incredible joy in the love of the Father. You can’t stop seeking God when you leave camp. As Christians, we  never stop seeking Christ. His love is so vast that we will never understand just how wide and how deep and how long it really is.

“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him.” Lamentations 3:25

The second that I hear Your Word/I forget what I heard/And go on just the same

This line gets me every time. Our speaker at camp even talked about how we can read a chapter or story in the Bible and our eyes just glaze over. Sometimes when I read a story, I hear “blah blah blah” in my head. It’s awful, I know, but some stories you just feel like there’s not anything more you could possibly get from it, but you couldn’t be more wrong. That’s something the Lord really convicted me with. When I read the story of Esther, I focus on Esther. What about Mordecai? When I read about David, I get caught up in his bravery and love for God, but what about the love that Jonathan shows? There are so many elements in the Bible that every time we read a story, we can get something different if we just take the time to slow down and really ask God to speak to us.

(I love these verses!) “By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by your righteous order. Everything’s falling apart on me, God; put me together again with your Word. Festoon me with your finest sayings, God; teach me your holy rules. My life is as close as my own hands, but I don’t forget what you have revealed. The wicked do their best to throw me off track, but I don’t swerve an inch from your course. I inherited your book on living; it’s mine forever— what a gift! And how happy it makes me! I concentrate on doing exactly what you say— I always have and always will.” Psalm 119:105-112 [The Message]

My prayer is that our Agone students that just got back from camp and our 2911 Students that are currently at camp will refuse to go “back and forth and then forth and then back/and then round in circles.” Make a stand. Refuse to get caught up in the motions. Seek God every day. He will reward you beyond words, beyond measure.

Have you ever experienced the Camp High?


Listening to: The entire Anthem Lights CD. Each song is awesome. It’s been in my CD player for days. My favorites are: “Circles” (of course), “Outta My Mind” (story of my life..I’ll talk about this one soon, I’m sure), “Where the Light Is” and “I Wanna Know You Like That.”

to be ink-ed for eternity.

Lately this has been a popular topic of discussion: tattoos. I’ve been asked my opinion on them by a student, but my opinion on the matter is somewhat complicated. So, I decided to write about it. If you have a tattoo, this isn’t a slam against you, so don’t go getting all offended on me.

So, in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20,  it says:

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

This has so many more elements to it than what’s usually discussed. Let’s talk about one word, the most important: Temple.

“Your body is a temple.”

Everytime I hear these verses, the body is referred to as a Holy thing after a person accepts Christ. I like to think of the body as a literal temple, a sturcture built for nothing more than a Holy purpose. If that’s how we’re going to see it, then what does that mean? What do you think when you see a church that’s been graffitied? You think, “Wow. They must not care about their building.” Right? So if our bodies are meant to be Holy places for the Spirit to dwell, what does it mean when we graffiti our bodies? We’re abusing the Holy place where God resides.

What about tattoos that are Bible verses or crosses?
Well, and this is my opinion, if you get a tattoo like this you need to really diagnose your purpose. There a couple of reasons:

Are you getting it for other people?
A lot of times, people get Christian tattoos with an underlying purpose of proving themselves to other people; wanting people to look at them and visually see they are Christians. Maybe you should find another way to exude Christ, because I think this reason abuses the temple.

Are you getting it for you?
I have a plan to get a tattoo. I know…curveball! This plan involves a wrist tattoo in white ink that reads “Hope.” This is for me, and me alone. It’ll be in a place where I can see it everyday, but I can hide it if I need to. It will be to remind me of Madi and to never hesitate in sharing my heart and the Gospel. I don’t think these types of tattoos abuse the temple, but rather honor it. And I’m not just saying that to justify my actions.

It takes a lot to really get to the reasoning behind the desire. I know students where as soon as they turn 18 they run out and get tattoos. Stop. Think about it. I think if over a period of time, you come to the conclusion you’re getting it to glorify God and not to make yourself feel more like a Christian, then you can move to the next step: pray about it.
I don’t think a tattoo is something to be taken lightly. It’s permanent. It costs much more to get removed that it does to get it. And it hurts more to have it lasered off. Your body is not something to be used at your whim. It belongs to the One who created you and gives you breath each day. It houses the Spirit of the Living God. It is His temple, not yours.

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? And again, this isn’t against anyone. I have family members with tattoos, so this isn’t my public judgement of you or anything. I have no judgements to offer up. That’s not my place. It’s purely my opinion.

– Caitlyn

Mad shout out to the two students I had proof read this! (Anthony and Austin! And I feel like I should mention Jake, too. He didn’t read it but those 3 are quite the trio. Can’t mention 2 without the other.)

Listening to: “Hope Now” by Addison Road