When you finally come to the place of admitting the truth about your rock music – that it has been opening up the door of the occult in your mind, that it is soaked in sex, advocates rebellion, breeds idolatry, and is physically damaging and addicting – well, then a wise man throws it away. But since he understands that nature abhors a vacuum he does not just throw it away; he replaces it.
Humanity in general and you (with a high degree of probability) in particular are inherently musical. You enjoy hearing, playing, and singing music. Such a fact leads to this corollary: part of the reason people like rock music is that their flesh delights in it sinfully, but part of the reason is simply because people like music. If all we do is tell them to get rid of the bad music and we do not at the same time teach them how to replace it with good music they will become musically frustrated. The musical part of them will starve, and in hunger reach blindly back for the pig slop in the mire they just left.
To the point then, here are six practical suggestions worth your consideration regarding this matter of replacement.
First, ruthlessly purge the wrong music from your life. Go through your CD collection and pitch anything remotely resembling rock music. Artist by artist, song by song, go through your MP3 player and make liberal use of the delete button. Pull up your Pandora/Spotify channels and erase those that feed the flesh. Zero out the radio presets in your car. Granted, you do not always have control over the televisions and audio systems in your environment, but to the extent you do make regular use of the mute button. If the music is wrong – whether it is an internet stream, a television commercial, the background on a YouTube video, or a radio bumper intro – silence it.
Second, learn how to sing church songs. When it is time to sing at church turn a hymnbook to every page announced, no matter how tedious. If the song is unfamiliar to you just listen on the first verse, try to sing a basic tune on the second verse, and belt it out on the third. Open your mouth, literally. Open it up. Words flow better from an open mouth than they do from lips compressed together. Throw your voice at the notes for a while until you get the hang of it. If you look down your row and everybody is mumbling their way through the songs find a new row. Sit with people who like to sing and their joyful contagion will infect you.
Third, begin to sing or hum or whistle church songs throughout the week. If you learned a good song on Sunday sing it to yourself in the shower Monday morning. Hum it to yourself on the train. Whistle it while you are walking down the hallway to your office. It does not matter if the tune is slightly mismatched or you forget half the words. In this context, what matters is that you are feeding the right kind of music to your musical self.
Fourth, gradually begin to surround yourself with good music. In my youth this involved the laborious process of borrowing someone else's cassette tapes, recording them on reel to reel, and then transferring the resultant mix to 90 minute cassette tapes. Now all you have to do is find a few good internet music stations. For your consideration I offer Faith Music Radio, KNVBC, WBLW, and Canaan Radio as a starting point. Each of these have smart phone apps as well. In the independent Baptist realm most of the best music is produced by Faith Music Missions and various Bible colleges. If you are the type to purchase CD's buy some. If you are the guy who wants to own your digital music then buy some CD's and digitally store them. If all your wants are satisfied by streams then bookmark some of the internet radio stations I have listed above. For that matter, even Pandora has some excellent instrumental hymn channels.
Fifth, pour the good music into your life like you used to pour in the bad music. Put it on your iPod. Listen to it on the way to work. Play it around the house. Put it on while you are cleaning out the garage. Whatever you do, do not isolate it to only Sunday morning as you drive to church. It is not church music; it is good music.
Sixth, build in those whom you influence an appetite for good music. From the time my children were old enough to sleep in their own rooms they have gone to bed listening to good music. We own hundreds of CD's. My older children own MP3 players and I expect them to be used. Mandy and I play music constantly in the car and around the house of an evening. This is partly because Mandy and I are musically inclined ourselves, but even more so because we want to develop in them a deep taste for the right kind of music and an instant aversion to the wrong kind of music.
Will such things alone ensure that my children grow up to only appreciate and use good music? Of course not. Yes, I seek diligently to develop within them a taste for good music but I must pair that with patient explanation in order to develop in them a clear understanding of the difference between the right and wrong kinds of music. Yet even this is not enough for Jesus must capture their heart. The battle for music is fought in the mind but like all other spiritual battles can only be won in the heart. But all righteous weapons are fair in spiritual warfare and thus I use the right kind of music without apology on all who come within my influence.
As you approach within about twenty feet of my church building you will begin to hear music playing. It plays from above our front doors fourteen hours a day 365 days a year. Hundreds of neighborhood children walk by our building to and from school each day. Each one hears for a few moments the only good music they ever hear – but hear it they do. In our neighborhood we are known as "the church that plays music." If you walk into our auditorium for a church service whether you are sixty minutes early or two minutes late you will hear music. The former is a rotation of a thousand songs on an MP3 player and the latter is enthusiastic congregational singing. The moment the last "Amen" is said at the conclusion of every service the music is turned back up and stays up until the lights go off. If you try to escape the music in the auditorium you will find it following you into the foyer. If you venture into the basement you will hear it there. Someday I will realize my dream and it will even follow you into the bathrooms. =)
Why? Because music is enjoyable, emotional, artistic, and powerful. If your life is filled with the wrong kind ruthlessly eliminate it. But do not stop there, beloved. Fill up the empty space with the right kind of music. It will be sweet to the soul and health to the bones.