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My Experiences with Secular and Christian Rock Music

Part Three

By Gary F. Zeolla

This article is continued from My Experiences with Secular and Christian Rock Music: Part Two.

Powerlifting and Heavy Metal

When my health seemed to be improving, I left the Nautilus center where I had been working out at and began to use free weights for the first time in almost two decades. At the first gym I worked out at, "The X" (105.9 FM) was usually playing. The X plays modern hard rock. Needless to say, I did not recognize any of the songs, but it was good for workout music. And there were several powerlifters and bodybuilders at that gym.

But after a while, it became clear the owner no longer wanted the hardcore lifters at the gym anymore. So I left that gym. And shortly thereafter the gym moved and changed to a "fluff" gym. By this I mean, the gym stopped being geared toward hardcore lifters and instead sought the "Silver Sneakers" crowd.

Along with getting rid of most of the free weights, the power racks, benches, and deadlift platform, that also meant now playing slow, useless for hard training music. So I was on the right track in leaving that gym, but it was not much better at any other gym I tried over the next couple of years.

As with the Nautilus center, from what I could tell, very little progress was made by the majority of people who came to the various gyms I tried. I would see people come in over a period of months and see no change in their physiques, and they'd keep using the same weights on their exercises week after week. People who work out really need to get a clue that to make any real progress you need to actually put some effort into it, and hard driving music is a great aid in that regard.

At one point, I finally got fed up with the music being played, so I got a MP3 player. I would now load on a couple of white metal albums (heavy metal Christian music) on the player and listen to that during my workouts. But it was such a pain trying got keep the cord out of the way during workouts. And when wearing powerlifting gear, I really had no place to attach it. So that was not an ideal solution.

Meanwhile, I entered my first powerlifting contest in 21 years in April of 2003. Throughout the contest, heavy metal music was blaring. And that has been the case for most every contest I've entered since then. Heavy metal is simply the best type of music for heavy lifting. In fact, I can remember several specific attempts where I am sure the music helped me get psyched up and get the lift.

Again, for those who have never powerlifted, you really cannot understand the mentality here. But trust me, you will never find a top-ranked, hardcore powerlifter working out to some soft music or old-fashioned hymns, and you most definitely will not hear such music played at a powerlifting contest.

Meanwhile, in the fall of 2005, I set up a home gym. Now I can listen to whatever music I want. But still, at first, all I had to listen to the music on was my cassette/ CD music box. But now with an extensive collection of white metal tapes and CDs, at least I had good music for my workouts.

With working out alone, music has become even more important for my workouts. It is very difficult to get psyched up for heavy lifting by yourself. So the only way is for me to crank up the heavy metal.

Now, to those detractors to CCM, I really would like to know what they would suggest I listen to while I work out? Old-fashioned hymns? I am sorry, but that would not even come close to cutting it.

Music Experiences Today

Even with the number of Christian tapes and CDs I own, I still got tired of listening to what I had while working on my PC and while working out. So in June of 2006 when I switched from dial-up to a cable Internet connection, the first thing I did was to look for some kind of CCM radio station that I could listen to on my PC.

When got my first PC back in 1995, I got a pair of really good 80 watt speakers for it, mainly for game playing. But I never really used them much for that purpose, but they worked great for listening to music

I tried a couple of different online radio services, but I finally settled on Yahoo Music. It has five Christian stations: Christian Rock, Contemporary Christian, Gospel, Praise and Worship, and 1990s Contemporary Christian.

The Christian Rock station plays mainly harder Christian rock while the two "Contemporary" stations play softer rock. The Praise and Worship station plays the type of music that can be heard in many contemporary worship services, while the Gospel station is what would probably be heard in many black churches.

These stations show what a great variety of CCM is now available. There is softer Christian rock (Third Day, Selah, Casting Crowns), harder rock (Kutless, Plumb, Switchfoot), and even heavy metal (Stryper, Bride, Whitecross, Barren Cross). I enjoy all of these forms.

Yahoo Music also has 27 "Rock" stations, 16 "Pop" stations, and dozens of stations with other styles of music. But most of the time while I am working on my PC, I have playing "My Station." It plays music based on how I have "rated" music by genres, artists, songs, and albums on a scale of 0-4 stars. And I've done a lot of rating. In fact, it has me listed as being a "Fanatic" having recorded over 4,000 ratings.

But what is most interesting is there is a "View Similar Members" link. It should list other Yahoo Music users who have rated music in a similar manner to what I have. But when I click it, all I've ever gotten is "No similar members were found."

The reason for this is probably because not only have I rated various types of Christian music highly, but I have also rated rather highly various types of Classic Rock and some modern rock as well, including both softer rock and heavy metal. I also have rated somewhat highly classical, jazz, pop, and even movie soundtracks. So when I play "My Station" I get quite a mixture of music.

Now I could listen to nothing but CCM, but I like the mixture. As stated previously, I like to hear classic rock on occasion for the nostalgia. But I will admit that if I listen to it too much, it can it can sometimes leave me feeling empty. However, the Christian music always lifts my spirits. So the way I have things rated, I get much more Christian music than secular music playing on "My Station."

It might seem strange to some, but it is actually secular soft rock that bothers me more than the heavy metal. As stated previously, soft rock is usually about romance. But given that I never got married, all that does is get me yearning for something I will never have. But the main association I have with heavy metal is with powerlifting, and since I am now doing that again, that is not a problem. So I rate secular heavy metal higher than soft rock.

What makes Yahoo Music so valuable is that if I rate a song "0" then it won't play that song again. There is also an "explicit lyrics" filter that can be set on. So between the filter and my ratings, I can weed out offensive songs. I can also put individual songs or albums into a play list.

By using to a mixture of secular and Christian music through the day, I am listening for songs and albums to put into a play list for my workouts. Again, I could just listen to the Christian Rock station, and I do at times. But the variety is not that great. So I will work out to a mixture of Christian and secular heavy metal and hard rock. You can hear the music I work out to in the background of the Weightlifting Exercises Videos posted on my fitness site.

At first, I carried my 80 watt speakers back and forth between my home office and home gym. But after a while, I shorted out the speakers. So I got separate speakers for each location. It cost a lot more than I had originally planned, but now I got a good sound system at both locations.

Also along the way, I got digital cable for my TV. And with that came a bunch of "Music Choice" stations. Included among these is a Contemporary Christian Music station. So that gives me another source for commercial free music.

Meanwhile, given my health situation, by the evenings, I am always too tired to do much of anything, and I almost never leave my home. So I will often listen to CCM. And it has gotten me through many a lonely evening.

Saturday nights in particular can be difficult. But that is when WORD FM plays its best music of the weekend with their "CCM Countdown." It's not as exciting as the old "Saturday Night Light" of WPIT, but still I always have it on. It helps me keep my mind on the LORD rather than on myself and my problems. So rather than feeling lonely, I can bask in His presence and worship Him.

Also given my health situation, I have not been able to go to church for years. But I often watch Charles Stanley ("In Touch Ministry") and D. James Kennedy ("Coral Ridge Ministry") on TV. However, I never watch it live. I always tape it on my DVR and watch it later. And when I do, I fast forward through the singing at the beginning and end of their sermons. It is just too intolerably boring to listen to. Instead, I listen to CCM for my own personal worship of the LORD.

Contest CD

My next powerlifting contest will be the Northeastern States Championships for the Natural Strength Athletes Association (NASA), June 7, 2008 in Washington, PA. The meet director told me that lifters can bring their own music to be played during their attempts. So I already burned a CD for this contest. With Yahoo Music, this was easy and inexpensive to do.

I picked out ten hard rock and heavy metal Christian songs. That will give me one for each of my nine attempts, plus an extra one just in case I take a fourth attempt (which I will be able to do since all of my attempts will be for NASA American records).

In any case, my play list is as follows:

1. Love Addict – Family Force 5

2. Heaven or Nothing – Barren Cross

3. King of Kings – Barren Cross

4. All of Me – Project 86

5. Fireproof – Pillar

6. He is the Rock – Whitecross

7. Because of Jesus – Whitecross

8. Take it to the Limit – Whitecross

9. Would You Die for Me – Bride

10. Rock for the King – Barren Cross

It will be interesting to see what kind of reaction this music gets, and I will pray I will get some witnessing opportunities as a result.

Bringing up the Ark of God

To conclude this final part to this article, the worship of God in the Bible sounds to me much more like churches that use contemporary music than those that use old-fashioned hymns. This can especially be seen when David brought up the ark of God to Jerusalem. There was loud singing, dancing, and booming music. The scene bears little resemblance to a traditional church service playing slow, boring hymns. It instead reminds me of a Christian rock concert.

Meanwhile, David's wife's Michal's reaction to this celebration reminds me of the CCM detractors. And it should be noted, the LORD judged Michal's reaction, causing her to be barren (2Sam 6:23). So the CCM detractors should be very careful in their denunciations.

14So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel. 15And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD. 16Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy….

27David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who bore the ark, the singers, and Chenaniah the music master with the singers. David also wore a linen ephod. 28Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn, with trumpets and with cymbals, making music with stringed instruments and harps. 29And it happened, as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came to the City of David, that Michal, Saul's daughter, looked through a window and saw King David whirling and playing music; and she despised him in her heart (1Chr 15:14-16,27-29; NKJV).

Conclusion to Three-Part Article

Given my experiences, I really cannot fathom how anyone would say there is something wrong with CCM. It has been one of the greatest aids in my life for getting through hard and lonely times and for bringing me closer to the LORD. And my experiences fit perfectly well with what the New Testament says about music. What Paul says music should do, CCM does for me:

16Let the word of Christ be richly [or, abundantly] dwelling in you*, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing each other, in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace [or, gratitude] in your* hearts to the Lord. 17And every[thing], whatever you* shall be doing in word or in deed, [be doing] all [things] in [the] name of [the] Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the God and Father through Him. (Colossians 3:16,17; ALT3)

18And stop getting drunk with wine, in which is reckless behavior, but continue being filled with [the] Spirit, 19speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your* heart to the Lord, 20giving thanks always for all [things] in [the] name of our Lord Jesus Christ to the God and Father, 21being subject [or, being submissive] to one another in the fear of Christ (Ephesians 5:18-20; ALT3).

For an update to this article, see the section on "Music" at Steps to Being Emotionally and Spiritually Uplifted.


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Bibliography:

Scripture taken from the Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament: Third Edition. Copyright 1999-2008 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.DTL.org).

My Experiences with Secular and Christian Rock Music. Copyright 2008 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.dtl.org).

For follow-ups to this article, see CCM Emails.

The above article first appeared in the Free Darkness to Light Newsletter.
It was posted on this site June 1, 2008.

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