Connect with us

Articles

Ad(ele)oration

I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard Adele’s radio single, “Someone Like You.”

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard Adele’s radio single, “Someone Like You.”

As the notes of the gentle piano ballad breathed through the summer air, I abandoned the soapy water in the kitchen sink, dried my hands on a dish towel, and went straight to Google. I needed to know who moved my soul with the sheer strength of her vocal chords.

After a few clicks, I discovered this voice belonged to British phenomenon Adele Laurie Blue Adkins. Adele’s two albums, 19 and 21 — which released in 2008 and early 2011 — draw their names from the ages she was at the time they were each recorded. To say that she’s taken the world by storm is an understatement. In less than four years, Adele has broken chart records again and again. Her recent win of six Grammy Awards in one night confirms to me that I’m not the only one affected by her growing talent.

I decided to buy 21.

As I listened, my appreciation for her giftedness grew. At the same time though, I developed a sense of wariness when it came to the underlying messages of some of her songs. I became increasingly aware of subtle nuances that didn’t mesh with my worldview as a Christian. Nuances that tarnished otherwise captivating songs.

Take, for example, the song that first drew me to her, “Someone Like You.” Adele starts off this “love song” — which in the summer of 2011 was the first ballad to top the Billboard Hot 100 in three years — with:

Heard that you’re settled down
That you found a girl and you’re married now
I heard that your dreams came true
Guess she gave you things I didn’t give to you

So far, so good. But she goes on to sing:

I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited
But I couldn’t stay away
I couldn’t fight it
I had hoped you’d see my face and that you’d be reminded that for me
It isn’t over

It’s supposed to be “romantic,” but I can’t help imagining the scene. This poor guy has just settled down happily into the covenant of marriage; maybe Matthew 19:6 — “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” — was even read at his wedding. And here comes his old flame, hoping to remind him that she still loves him. I have to think to myself, How could this be helpful in any way? What exactly is she trying to accomplish? By attempting to divert his eyes back to herself, isn’t she trying to separate what God has joined together as one? But it’s just a song, I might have thought once. Sure, a song about trying to start something with a married man.

Then there’s “Rolling in the Deep” — 2011’s best-selling song in the United States. Its pulsating beat makes it seem criminal not to tap at least one appendage. Again, my heart can’t resonate with the lyrics. The entire undertone smacks of bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, and revenge. I’ve struggled with all of these issues at some point, but none are found in my personal list of “Things to Strive Toward” as a Christian. Instead, the Bible tells me to forgive as I have been forgiven (Colossians 3:13), to turn the other cheek (Luke 6:29), to not keep a record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).

The alarm bell in my mind goes off again in “Turning Tables” when she claims:

Next time I’ll be braver
I’ll be my own savior
When the thunder calls for me
Next time I’ll be braver
I’ll be my own savior
Standing on my own two feet

From this, it’s my guess that she has yet to meet the one, true Savior. I pray that she does, and if and when that glorious day takes place, she may have Someone else to sing “Lovesong” to — a moving proclamation, but not at all biblical. As a Christian, the only One who can ultimately make me feel home again, whole again, free again, clean again, is Jesus Christ.

A sadness has come over me as I’ve listened to the divinely uninspired sentiments articulated in “Take it All,” when she sings that “Nothing is better than this. And this is everything we need.” Could that really be true? Does it really not get any better than this? And is this really all that we need? I sincerely hope not.

I’ve been challenged recently by a chapter in John MacArthur’s book, Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong: A Biblical Response to Today’s Most Controversial Issues. In the chapter titled, “Glorifying God in the Gray Areas: Christian Liberty and the World of Entertainment,” MacArthur outlines seven basic principles that can guide us as we consider the music we listen to and the movies and television programs we watch. He challenges us to ask the questions:

Will this activity:

  • produce spiritual benefit?
  • lead to spiritual bondage?
  • expose my mind or body to defilement?
  • benefit others, or cause them to stumble?
  • further the cause of the gospel?
  • violate my conscience?
  • bring glory to God?

The final question on this list brings to mind 1 Corinthians 10:31, which says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Is this Adele’s motif? On the contrary, in “Take it All,” she sings to a prior love, “Everything I do is for you.”

I still admit adoration for Adele’s phenomenal vocal ability. But while her voice is heavenly, the words she sings are not. Drawing upon MacArthur’s checklist, I have to admit that singing along to her lyrics produces no spiritual benefit to me, nor does it further the cause of the gospel or bring glory to God.

So the question that remains is: Now that I’ve been convicted, what am I going to do about it?

James 1:22 comes to mind: “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Instead of filling my mind and heart with Adele, my goal should be to practice Philippians 4:8, “…whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”

Needless to say, my copy of 21 is now collecting dust.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

Kate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. She is married to a South African and together they have three children. Kate is the author of the e-book, Letters to Grief, hosts the Five Minute Friday blog link-up, and has contributed to several other online publications. She blogs at Heading Home and can be found on Twitter @k8motaung.

5 Comments
  • OMG, I have been dealing with this kind of situation a lot lately. I start listening to a fav. song or watching an amazing fav. TV show…then something inside of me tunes me in to lyrics I have sung for many years.

    I’m beginning to ask myself…does this tell the truth of God’s Word or is it a direct opposite meshed in emotions and gooey feelings?

    I’m still struggling with my action especially when I can feel the HS’s nudging deep within me. Sometimes, I ignore the voice in my heart and other times I switch the TV or radio off. I need to do the former more often even if I just want to sing along or watch the show or movie to the very end. Sigh!

  • I like how you are developing a God-scripture-filter on what you put in your mind in these grey areas and how you are seeking God’s words/wisdom in this area. It can be tricky and then also showing grace if someone else disagrees.

  • Trista

    Awesome post! I LOVE music. Singing it, playing, listening, whatever, and as a teenager struggled back and forth between secular music and music that glorified God and encouraged me in His ways. He dealt with me many times over this issue and now as my husband and I are the youth leaders in our church I try to teach the youth just how powerful music is ( I could go on about this) and basically all that you’ve talked about here. Music was created to glorify God (He also loves music :). So, in whatever way I enjoy my love of music, I want it to reflect the love I have for Him.

  • Kristin

    Like you, I’m struck by Adele’s vocal talent. I haven’t purchased any of her CDs, but I do turn up the volume when she comes on the radio. While I respect your views on her lyrics, I do want to point out that the CD 21 was written after the ending of a relationship. For those without Christ, this can be an incredibly difficult time and women especially can believe–and then write–things they normally would not think “in the moment”. I immediately place the songs Someone Like You, Rolling in the Deep, and Fire to the Rain in the “breakup song” category and give Adele some grace. Especially since she obviously does not know the Lord. I did, however, want to respond to what I view as a slightly unfair interpretation of Someone Like You. When you only look at 2 short snippets it is going to look questionable, but I can honestly say I’ve never gotten the impression she was trying to break up a marriage or get involved with this ex. “For me it isn’t over” = she’s still feeling love for the guy. Nothing more. Then go to the chorus. “Nevermind, I’ll find someone like you. I wish nothing but the best for you. Don’t forget me, ah babe, I remember you said ‘Sometimes it lasts in love, and sometimes it hurts instead”. This doesn’t sound like a woman starting an affair. She’s getting closure and moving on, looking for a guy who shares some of the same characteristics as the guy she loved and wishing him well with his new wife. While we do have to be careful what lyrics we allow in our minds and hearts, I’m still looking forward to listening to whatever Adele puts out next time, especially since I’ve heard she’s found someone special and this one shouldn’t be as depressing. :P

    • Kate Motaung

      Hi Kristin,

      Thank you for your helpful comments and observations. You’re right to point out that I did not do justice to the full lyrics of “Someone Like You,” and I appreciate you giving a more complete perspective.

      I also appreciated the way you made the distinction regarding the response to a break-up as being particularly difficult ‘for those who don’t know Christ.’ There is no question that the pain of a broken relationship is just as excruciating for those who do have the Lord, but at least we, as Christians, have an unchanging source of comfort and hope in the midst of the pain. And I suppose this was one of my main reasons for writing this article. Admittedly, it was to challenge myself first and foremost, but also to encourage other believers to turn to that source of absolute truth in turbulent and trying times, as opposed to finding solace and sympathy for our emotions in the moving words of a break-up song.

      As for the full message of ‘Someone Like You,’ even if Adele was not intending to divert her former love’s attention back to herself, the rest of her claim remains problematic. The fact that she resolves to find “someone like you” means that she will likely be comparing every other guy that comes along against this ex, whom she is not over yet. Not only is that unfair to any prospective guys who try to win her love, it is a habit and practice that we should be wary of as Christians. As believers, the qualities we ought to look for in a husband should resemble the characteristics of Christ, as opposed to those that remind us of former relationships.

      Like you point out, we have to give Adele grace because she is not a believer, and I am not in any way trying to force her to conform to biblical standards. I am simply highlighting how subtle nuances in emotionally charged songs can resonate with us to such a degree that we miss the fact that they are whittling away at our worldviews and conforming our thinking to the patterns of the world, as opposed to transforming us in the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2).

      Thank you again for challenging me and for making sure that fairness has been granted in the way that I represented (or misrepresented) the interpretation of the song.

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Become An Insider!

Enter your email address below to stay in the loop on the latest from Ungrind.

Welcome to Ungrind!



Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

Latest Articles

What Women Are Saying

"I am all about sites who encourage women. There's too much going on in the daily grind that it's nice when someone recognizes. No matter if you're a single or married woman, in your 20's or 40's, Ungrind will encourage you where you're at. "

-- Renee Fisher, author of Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me
COL_TeamUs_BannerAd

Five-Minute-Friday---4

familydevotional

Disclosure

We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.

Trending

Ad(ele)oration

by Kate Motaung time to read: 4 min
5