I was born in So-Cal, so I was raised on good-ol' American rock-n-roll. Amped-up, over-the-top, uber-talented, no-holds-barred singers and musicians were a given. On the weekends our all-girl group went to L.A. clubs like Madame Wong's, Whiskey-a-Go-Go, Troubadour, The Roxy. Our motto was, "Once a rocker, always a rocker, viva la rock!" Oh, sure, I was a born-and-raised Christian, but I was also born-and-raised in California on secular music. I liked it all - rock, pop, punk, jazz, blues, musicals - even classical. The only Christian music I heard was hymns in church or the occasional Elvis Presley gospel song.
When I moved to Japan I went headlong into the music scene. After all, I was a rocker! I knew all the bands and was often the only 外人 ("gai-jin" = "foreigner") in the small, smokey rock clubs. I was too young to drink or smoke - but that never stopped me from getting into the L.A. clubs, either. If you paid the cover charge, they didn't care. It was a total blast. I loved music and it was awesome discovering Japanese rock bands. But the nights I stayed home and watched TV, I soon realized that the music shows usually consisted of J-Pop (Japanese pop) or 演歌 ("en-kah" = traditional Japanese sentimental folk ballads). The traditional singers had amazing talent, but the majority of the J-Pop singers were, let's just say, "half-a**ed" ("half-aMPed"). Sure, they're cute and energetic or a bit edgy and rebellious, depending on the image they want to portray. But most of them can't carry a tune in a bucket. What matters most is image. They lack that pure electrical charge you get when listening to true talent.
Fast-forward to my return to California, this time in NorCal, and a job at Tower Records in San Francisco. Talk about being in the middle of the music scene! Although I missed Japan, it was good to get back to fully-amped music. It was a great experience, but later a job opened at a local multilingual TV station where I was able to use my Japanese language abilities helping to translate and subtitle Japanese dramas and commercials into English. As long as my work involved my love of media and Japan, I was happy. I met and married Nikko. But why didn't my LIFE feel fully-amped?
Although I was a "good girl" - I didn't smoke, drink or do drugs, prayed every day and loved Jesus - the Lord soon showed me that I was a "half-amped" Christian. I had been a Christian all my life, but I was still immature in my faith and all forms of media were my "idols." In many ways I lived like an unbeliever with my media choices. I didn't read my Bible every day. I didn't seek the Lord on all decisions in my life. And I didn't listen to the Holy Spirit's guidance when I was heading in the wrong direction. Nikko and I re-dedicated our lives to Christ, started working in Christian media, and became more discerning about our media choices - including music.
Sure, we occasionally listen to secular music - even J-Pop now & then for fun. But my love for music has matured and changed. Now I listen to Christian music 99% of the time - in my art studio, in the car, in the shower. I feel that it speaks to a deeper part of my soul and fills the void that secular music often doesn't. And whoever said Christian music all sounds the same isn't listening. There's rock, pop, jazz, blues, hip hop, rap, reggae, big band, traditional gospel hymns and more! Oh - and my motto now? "Once a Christian, always a Christian, viva la Christ!"
How about you? Are you a half-amped Christian? It's never too late to re-dedicate every aspect of your life to Him and become fully-amped in Christ. Do it today!
"My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus' blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand."
"My Hope is Built on Nothing Less" The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #370 Author: Edward Mote (1797-1874), c. 1834, cento Composer: John Stainer, 1873, arr. Tune: "Magdalen"