Hey everybody, we’ve been sending/posting these encouragementoids for like three years now. Crazy. This is the 650th post to the website RippleEffectDisciplines.com.
The point of all of them has been to point to the person Jesus of Nazareth, or, as I like to affectionately call Him, “RJ” (see video from 9.30). To be an EPPTTP–an Empowered Powerless Pointer to the Power! If any of the writings have drawn you closer to God, or to seek Him more vigorously, or know Him more intimately, then we rejoice! Our joy is made more full and we say, “Soli Deo Gloria”–Glory to God Alone! With the seeking of God comes the reward of His Spirit’s empowerment.
Lately, I’ve been feeling it is time to ease up on the frequency, maybe do a little more in video format. And hey, it’s fall break next week, so what a good time for a break, right? Maybe send one a week, or whenever something deep hits, or perhaps even resend old ones we’ve forgotten and need reminded of.
Anyway, I thought it’d be appropriate on this eighth day of October, which marks the six year anniversary of when I last saw Stryper in concert.
[I actually have no idea what the connection could be. I just wanted an excuse to talk about Stryper.]
It was at 8 Seconds Saloon, and it was one of the most memorable and nostalgic nites of my life. My childhood friend, Todd Leavell, and I bought the VIP package, and were able to go to sound check and hang with the band for a few before the show. I forced lead singer extraordinaire Michael Sweet to hold up one of my band Virgin Vasectomy’s CDs, the one titled “Into the Gates of Hell.” Epic. It was our amazing 2007 release.
The show was insanely off the chain. Beyond words, so I will not even try to describe it here for you. Just know that they were touring on their “Murder by Pride” album which is one of my favorites, and that their closing performance of “To Hell With the Devil” that nite was good enough to birth new life.
Stryper was a huge influence on my life and walk with Jesus. I got into them in high school, and was inspired by their close walk with God while not conforming to what conservative fundamentalist Christians said we should look like or be like. (I’ll never forget our pastor at the time saying “Stryper is as wicked as the devil!” I was so turned off from fundamentalism and turned on to God by that.)
I was impressed how Stryper took the message of Jesus to the world of hard rock and heavy metal so boldly. They did not play at churches. They played at heavy metal festivals. Rough ones. They helped me to see that following God was an inner heart decision, not a mere change of appearance.
So-called “Christians” would protest their concerts, and the band would always go out to meet them, and invite them in to see the show so they could find out for themselves what it was really about. Michael Sweet and his brother/drummer Robert Sweet gave their lives to Christ as a result of a Jimmy Swaggart television program. Later, Jimmy Swaggart sent his people out to protest Stryper shows. The band was really hurt by this and could not understand it. But they still went out to greet them and invite them in. Few took them up on it.
Stryper threw Bibles out at their concerts. I have one from that 2009 show, thanks to my friend Danny Wright who caught one and gave it to me. Much love.
They are one of the most talented and underrated bands I’ve ever seen. I’ve met them a couple of times, and they are the greatest, genuine, nicest guys you could ever meet. I thank God for using them in my life as well as for countless others around the world.
I leave you with the chorus of their song “More Than A Man”–one of my favorites of theirs:
God, I will follow You because You died for me
Gave to me Your life to set me free
Anyone who asks shall receive
Jesus in your heart
It’s time for you to start
All the glory