Posts Tagged ‘Fanny Crosby’

Checking out churches

April 14, 2020 Leave a comment

For the second time in a year, I had a Sunday off. My work schedule shifted, so as of now, I am now off Sundays at my primary job. 

Due to the COVID-19 quarantine, I watched two different church services on live stream through Facebook.

One church, the pastor had a strong drawl and was trying to tell some amusing anecdote. He had no sense of timing or execution, making me think he was trying to be the late Mississippi humorist Jerry Clower and, well, having no success. My gut told me his Bible teaching would not be any better. Soon, I lost interest and decided to try another church.

Next stream, the pastor was talking about the resurrection, citing scripture, and talking about the eternal hope that comes from Jesus rising from the dead. The church, on its Website, talks about the service being informal as far as attire goes. It reminded me of that Michigan church’s slogan: Dress casually. Jesus did.

Despite this promising sign, I’m almost afraid to go back to church. Four times I’ve attended churches and splits have happened. At one church, a Sunday School teacher disliked the direction the pastor was going and convinced three or four families to also leave. At one church in San Antonio, the pastor’s wife was a cosmetics distributor and shunned those who weren’t her customers. Then, at a church in Michigan and one here in Texas, the pastors left due to a desire to have almost total control over the church. (Read the Old Testament story of Joses and Jethro to see why this isn’t a good idea). As far as I could gather from the second one, the young pastor conflicted with the “old guard.” 

I’ve often wondered how much time churches spend teaching the Bible, versus preaching “do this” or “don’t do that.” Too many Christians reach a point where they don’t know why they believe what they believe. Sometimes it’s because not enough time was spent studying what the Bible really says, and sometimes because in their spiritual walk, they spent time in churches that focus on adhering to rules to strive for holiness.

Here’s one suggestion: instead of preaching to a congregation about TV shows* they shouldn’t watch or musical bands** they shouldn’t listen to, why not teach what the Bible says about spiritual discernment and the importance of putting healthy things into your mind?

* One certain Baptist minister preached about how evil The Simpsons was because the show was about “mocking your parents and having a rebellious attitude.” One warm, godly Christian minister I know admitted to me he likes the show and thinks it’s hilarious.

** If you’re a pastor and ever want to get your teenagers curious about secular music, preach against it from the pulpit. Sure, some are pliant enough to obey and stick with Fanny Crosby and Al Smith, but some will get curious and listen.

Richard Zowie has been a Christian since the days of the rotary-dial telephone and when the Betamax and VHS battled for supremacy. Post comments here or email:

No Biblical basis for CCM?

January 2, 2018 Leave a comment

A Baptist minister told me a month or so ago he found “no Biblical basis” for Contemporary Christian Music. I’m not completely sure what he meant. Did he mean nothing in the Bible justifies it, or that CCM is incapable of communicating Biblical truths?

point of grace

Point of Grace, a group I love listening to.

Thirty years ago, I would’ve agreed with him. But as you grow and learn and mature, things tend to change. Many traditional Gospel songs are set to the tune of Irish and English drinking songs. Fanny Crosby, who wrote many Gospel songs adored by the Independent Fundamental Baptists (the Baptist equivalent of the Amish, I like to muse as an ex-IFBer), was considered wordly in her day. One pastor said a few years ago, “Today’s contemporary music is tomorrow’s traditional.”

I also thought about the many CCM artists who’ve blessed me with their music over the years: Point of Grace, Amy Grant, Watermark, Crystal Lewis, Newsboys, Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, Rebecca St. James and, believe it or not, Petra. My middle son loves Creed.

Years ago at a sheltered Christian college, I worked a summer with a guy named Ray. We teased each other because of our different accents (I grew up in South Texas, and he was from Maine and seldom pronounced his final “r’s”). To me, without glasses, he was a dead ringer for actor Judge Reinhold. We debated music a lot. I told him then I thought Petra was too worldly.

“Man, don’t be knockin’ Petra,” Ray said. “I got saved at a Petra concert.”

I thought about that for a long time, the way you do a first-hand observation that comes in and challenges an opinion you’ve formed in concrete.

Ray left that particular college due to the strict rules. I located him through Facebook a few years ago. Today, Ray is a musician serving the Lord and still going strong as a Christian. I can think of more than a few Christians from then who strictly adhered to tradition–and today, are no longer serving God.

I’ve even grown to like Petra, particularly their versions of “Grave Robber” (a song about 1 Corinthians 15) and “Not of This World.”

Richard Zowie likes all kind of music–except gangsta rap. His current guilty pleasure is KISS. Post comments here or email them to