Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll – Part 2

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This newsletter hasn’t even gone out yet and I'm already getting calls and e-mails from people who don't remember reading Part 1. It disappoints me that you would so quickly forget my scintillating and very popular article written in October of 1995! If you want to refresh your memory you can find it in the archives of my website (Larry at this link:

For those not receiving this as an online newsletter, just take your computer mouse and place it on top of that link and I'm pretty sure the words will magically show up. For those of you without a computer (Hi, Mom!) just take one of the mice that one of your nine cats brings in to you as a gift and place it on the newsletter. I'm pretty sure the words of the article will not magically show up, but I am chuckling even now just waiting to hear about your adventures with the mouse!

After my last newsletter mentioned Larry Norman’s song “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?” I got an email question more or less asking me … “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?” The question was regarding an online video by a preacher who pretty much says all contemporary Christian music is evil and leads toward the one world, ecumenical, apostate church.

This led to my New York Times bestselling book (AKA my reply), which I have condensed down from 10 single-spaced pages to the article you see here.

Hi Dave, Let me begin with a quote. "I am no music scholar, but I feel I know appropriate church music when I hear it. Last Sunday's new hymn – if you can call it that – sounded like a sentimental love ballad one would expect to hear crooned in a saloon.  If you insist on exposing us to rubbish like this – in God's house! – don't be surprised if many of the faithful look for a new place to worship. The hymns we grew up with are all we need.” The irony is that this letter was written in 1863 and the song they were concerned about was the hymn "Just As I Am."

In terms of comparing hymns and contemporary songs I must say I am blessed by both, and have also read words in both that I have questioned. I grew up singing about lifting up mine Ebenezer, and after having it explained to me about 20 times, I forget every time what I am singing about! Many contemporary Christian songs are straight from scripture so it is hard for me to figure out how one can discredit these biblical lyrics as from the evil one or too mystical!

Here are a mere 2 examples of a plethora of songs. “You are my hiding place; You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance, whenever I am afraid I will trust in You” (Ps. 32: 7). Another supposedly “evil song” that came out of the Jesus movement says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. And all these things shall be added unto you. Allelu, alleluia.” This came from the mystical book of Matthew 6:33.

The video criticized 2 friends of mine who I have been privileged to minister with over the years. Since I know Louie Giglio and did know Rich Mullins when he was still alive (which is the easiest time to get to know someone ), I can personally attest to the dedicated commitment both of these men of God demonstrated as genuine followers of Jesus Christ!

Louie prayed at some presidential events last year and evidently did such a good job that he was invited to pray at this year’s presidential inauguration. His efforts to stop human trafficking are another reason he was invited. He declined because of a commotion that came up related to a message he preached in the 90s. Here is part of his letter declining the offer. "It is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ." Though I wish he would have accepted (I would then have personally known the previous 2 inaugural pray-ers … and it should be all about me, right? Just kidding) his reason is very commendable. He turned down the "fame and glory" from being on TV, etc., because he did not want the priorities or focus of his current ministry to be distracted by the attacks he believed would inevitably develop.

When we led the Alaska state youth conference together, Louie told me he wished he could play music, like I did, in addition to preaching. I asked why. He said, “When we get to Heaven I know there is going to be a lot of music but I have a feeling there will not be much preaching.” I was thrilled to discover that Louie has not only taken up some song writing, he actually won a Grammy award last year for a song he co-wrote with Chris Tomlin! I congratulated him on his new musical ventures.

My ministry brochure not only has a great recommendation Louie wrote for me, but also a powerful testimony I got from a letter sent to me by some youth at that same conference I led with Mr. Giglio. “Your music inspired me, my sister, and two friends to accept Christ.” Debra Becvar, Anchorage, Alaska. Talk about the power of God to use music!

My friend Rich Mullins, who wrote the heretical song, “Awesome God” , taken from that pagan book called Psalms (68:35 among others), was also mentioned in the video. Rich was one of the most genuine, humble, sincere Christian men I have ever been privileged to minster with. He did not take a penny of all of his song royalties but lived in a small trailer on a Navajo Indian Reservation in AZ to work with Native American kids and teach them God’s love. He got out from the 4 walls of the church building and lived out his faith where the people were hurting.

When I think of Rich, I think of Matthew 7:20: “By their fruit you will know them.” I can tell you many powerful stories of the fruit of the contemporary music God has led me to share over the years. I have trained summer missionaries for over 25 years now. 1 time a college student named Charlton asked me if I remembered him. I did not so he filled me in. He reminded me of a retreat many years ago I led for a group from Livermore. A man from the church had donated money for the youth pastor to go on the high school campus and invite anyone who wanted to attend to be able to for free. 12 students took them up on the offer. Sat. night of the retreat I shared a powerful gospel message and most of those teenagers responded, making decisions to follow Jesus! Charlton told me he did not. But he said he kept hearing the words of the song I had played (Leonard Simpson – still available for viewing from the videos link on the website) over and over in his head. Later on he did make a decision to follow Christ because of that song. When he told me this story he was in college studying to be a full-time vocational minister. Years later he was the youth pastor of a church & invited me to come and share with his group. God has used him mightily!

This leads me to Psalm 98:1, which tells us to sing a new song to the Lord. One reason is because we are not to just rely on the faith of our fathers, but our faith and worship should be fresh. This is actually a verse from the Bible commanding us to use new or contemporary (one of the synonyms for “new” is “contemporary”) music for God!!! Psalm 150 says we are to use stringed instruments, loud drums, etc., to worship God.

Paul put it this way … we need to be all things to all men that we might by all means save some (I Cor. 9:19-23). If tradition (whether from 1590 or 1990) gets in the way of mission, it is sin. We are not keepers of the aquarium; we are called to be fishers of men. Fish don’t jump out of the water and into the frying pan … we must go where the people are. We must be willing to give up our cultural preferences that are neither right or wrong (e.g., music, carpet color, hair color, traditions) to reach the lost. God is not bound by culture!

A missionary to China or Africa can’t expect the people to learn English, dress like we do, or like the music we do. We need to learn their language and culture so we can connect with them and earn the right to share the gospel. One of my evangelism class students is actually a missionary from Brazil to reach the pagans here in Southern CA! I’m teaching him to witness Valley Girl/Hip Hop Gangnam Style – just kidding!

The truth of the matter is … music is created by God! I am not aware of any place in the Bible where the devil has any power to create anything. He can only distort it. So music in and of itself, all types, is a beautiful creation by God. The way we are able to see if the devil has distorted it is by looking at the lyrics. Does it glorify God? Does it point to Jesus? Is it biblical?

I know some of you are thinking, hey Larry, where’s the sex & drugs part of this article? The drugs part is in the reply below. The sex part is continued on page 17. Now please take out your hymnal so we can sing the doxology!


A Small Portion of the Next Day’s Reply

Larry, Wow. Wow. And Wow! That was a response I was hoping to hear. In fact, it was a convincing, in-depth expose' and it rings of truth as the Spirit bears witness to my soul. It is beautiful you can pull it all together and cite the Word to dovetail with your stated convictions. The night before I was saved in 1973 I had taken LSD (my very last of many trips) and felt a sense of hopeless despair. My sister suggested I go to church. I did and I received Christ. I sure am glad my clothing and unruly hair did not prevent me from being saved! I came just as I was with a sincere heart, said a prayer and meant it. God knew my sincerity and He graciously saved me from an eternal separation from Him.

Anyway, you have given me much to mull over in your reply and I will always treasure your words. God WILL bless you for the attention you have given me these last few weeks. I KNOW He will. Thank you for your wisdom imparted to me. You shall know them by their works … by their fruit, so true. You are a true brother in Christ and I love you.

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow …"

Brother Larry, be no stranger and send me an address so I can support your ministry financially. OK?

Your pal, David Heppard


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