TONY ELDER: Christian music can be a wonderful, effective means by which God speaks to us

On a couple of occasions recently, I found myself at places where '70s music was being played.

For many people, the tunes of that particular decade may not be very highly regarded -- for example, think disco. However, that was the decade that encompassed my teen years. It seems to me that the music which was popular whenever we were teenagers tends to hold a special place in our hearts and memories.

We may laugh or cringe as we sing along with some of it now, but we do still sing those familiar lyrics as evidence of the long-lasting connection between youth and their music.

As I listened to some of those songs, my mind conjured up ancient but very vivid memories of a time before there were CDs, MTV, and iPods: sitting in a pizza restaurant listening to the jukebox; shooting hoops in my backyard on a hot summer afternoon while a nearby radio is blaring; driving my first car with the 8-track tapes playing; gliding around the roller skating rink trying to keep time with the disco music.

Admittedly, some of those memories get skewed over the years. Actually, I wasn't a very good skater and spent most of my time clinging to the rail or awkwardly making my way around the rink trying not to fall down.

Christian music can also evoke some strong emotions and stir up precious memories. Some of it may be based primarily on sentiment as those songs remind us of departed loved ones, former places of worship, special events, or simply those seemingly better times from our past.

But for many of us, there are probably also Christian songs which hold a special place in our hearts due to them having been used by God to touch our lives in some manner.

For some, there may be an invitational hymn that was being sung and that the Holy Spirit used to draw us to God as we came to put our trust in Jesus as our Savior. Or maybe there are hymns, popular Christian music, or praise songs which the Lord has used to minister to us in a time of need or crisis.

Remember any of these? -- "Through it all, through it all, I've learned to trust in Jesus, I've learned to trust in God." "And whatever it takes to draw closer to you, Lord, that's what I'll be willing to do." "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."

Christian music can be a wonderful and effective means by which God speaks to us. Paul advocated "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19).

While we sing our new songs of praise, it can be helpful to remember the old songs too. We have a history with them. Singing them can do far more than take us on a sentimental journey. It can remind us of how God has worked in our lives in the past. It can instill gratitude in our hearts to the Lord for what He has done.

But it can also cause us to examine our current relationship with the Lord in light of those past experiences. It can raise questions, such as "Am I still walking close to the Lord today? "

Let's be thankful for how God uses music to minister to us. And let's be open to what He may want to say to us and how He may want to change our lives through those songs we sing today.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.