Personal - Kings and Mountains

Dear Brethren, Carol and I recently traveled by car to New York for Passover and the beginning of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, looking forward to joining more than 200 brethren who shared a few days together as one large family. Long road trips are challenging, and to amuse ourselves we alternated between conversation, listening to the one family-oriented comedy station on satellite radio, and enjoying some music.

A station on the radio devoted to Elvis Presley played a mix of recordings and stories of the deceased “King of Rock and Roll.” There is a mystique about him in the minds of many. His music was part of my early years and I personally like his voice, but the virtual worship of the man and the desire of his most ardent fans to live in the past is a bit over the top. Enjoy his music if you care to, but please—the man was mortal. He is no god! He is dead!

On our return to Charlotte, we listened to another station that I also found curiously interesting. It featured a rerun from a 2015 program celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles concert at Shea Stadium in Queens, New York. It is understandable that Bruce Morrow, now known as Cousin Brucie, sees this as the pinnacle memory of his life. He was privileged, along with Ed Sullivan, to introduce the Beatles to an electrified, frenzied crowd of 55,600.

Callers contributed their memories, and it was evident that this was the highlight of many lives, even though the screams of teenage and “tween” girls drowned out the music. How interesting that, for some, the Beatles concert at Shea Stadium in 1965 was the greatest event of their lives—greater than the day of their marriages, the births of their children, and certainly, greater than any event involving their relationship with their Creator!

Most of us are a little thrilled to be close to someone of fame, even if we fail to admit it. I personally enjoyed seeing Vice President Mike Pence and nationally syndicated radio hosts Dennis Prager and Larry Elder up close at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville this year, and even got a picture taken with Larry Elder. So, I’m not here to throw stones at individuals who find excitement in being at special events and seeing those few individuals who rise to the top of their field of endeavor.

But one must keep everything in perspective. We should never lose sight of the big picture. We are counseled not to put our trust in men (Psalm 146:3–4). This does not mean that we cannot trust people in a general sense—we do that every time we board an airplane. But no man can give us eternal life, as the context indicates. Man is mortal, and only God gives immortality!

Music is wonderful and it affects us in powerful ways. It may be positive or negative in its impact. In the case of the Beatles, they began the “British Invasion” in 1964, wanting to “hold your hand”—but it was not long before they put a marijuana joint in it. Their contribution to the drug culture is a matter of record, and that culture has done great harm to Western nations. The Beatles were not alone. Many, if not most, of the rock bands of the late ’60s and ’70s played an active part, as did the Vietnam War.

It is one thing to enjoy the music of talented individuals (although talent is a debatable matter when it comes to many rock bands), but it is important to keep everything and everyone in perspective. The overall contribution many of these bands make is not positive. The drug culture they promote in their music and by their personal examples costs us dearly. Tens of thousands fry their minds on drugs, and millions die prematurely. Families and marriages are torn asunder—and consider the monetary expense associated with waging the war on drugs and treating its casualties!

We hear a lot about the growing opioid epidemic, and its toll has been staggering. As of 2016, more Americans are now dying from the scourge of drug overdose each year than died in the entirety of the Vietnam War! Consider the irony in this. Many war protesters took the lead in the “free sex” and drug culture of the ’60s and ’70s, and today, we are reaping what was sowed. Yet, many of those who introduced such misery to our world are viewed with reverence!

Ezekiel reveals to us that Lucifer was a musician (Ezekiel 28:13). As such, he knows how to use music in his plan to destroy mankind. He will fail in the end—but for now, he uses music to separate children from their parents and to promote destructive lifestyles. Some rappers promote violence against women and police. Some country music promotes alcohol abuse and adultery. Some rockers and pop stars promote drugs and a lewd lifestyle of disrespect for parental and other authority. Some musicians are anarchists at heart and have no comprehension of a purpose to life, other than cramming as much fun into it as possible, even if that fun kills you!

Satan shows no loyalty or compassion to those who promote his values. Consider this partial list of celebrities who paid the ultimate price, due to complications brought about by their satanically self-destructive lifestyles: Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, John Belushi, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and yes, even the “King of Rock and Roll.” This is only a partial list of the more than 100 famous musician deaths due to drug or alcohol abuse since the 1970s, when drugs became a large part of the music industry.

Man does not know how to fill the emptiness that comes from a life without God and without a purpose greater than the here and now.

Looking back a decade after their 30-minute concert at Shea Stadium, John Lennon recalled, “I saw the top of the mountain when we were at Shea.” In other words, it was downhill from there. Four years after that concert, the Beatles broke up, never again to play together as a band.

How shallow celebrity worship is, compared to that which God offers us. I can only imagine the excitement and thrill it must have been that muggy night at Shea Stadium, but it was a temporary, emotional experience that could never last. No matter how hard we try to relive some “top of the mountain” experience, it cannot be duplicated. It will never fully satisfy (Isaiah 55:1–2; Ecclesiastes 1:8; 2:10–11).

God reminds us in His word and through life experiences that we are mortal. We are here in the flesh for a very short time, but it is enough time to let Him know we want His Way to be our way. He gives us hope for an eternal future. There is a crown laid up for those who love God and endure the temptations Satan throws at us (James 1:12). We have a living hope—a hope that the world does not know (1 Peter 1:3–5).

David proclaims in Psalm 16 that his hope is in God. He ends the Psalm, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (v. 11). We accepted God’s new covenant at baptism, just as Israel accepted God’s covenant on Pentecost at the foot of Mount Sinai. We proclaimed our trust and allegiance to Him. Our mountain is the Kingdom of God, and when we are born into His family, that will be the beginning of something far greater than a fleeting emotional experience from the past!

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