Streets of Cardboard

I chafed at the freedom they gave me on the overnight shift at the Mom and Pop Christian radio station where I worked in the mid ‘80’s. It was up to me to structure the music format from 1:30-4:00 AM. The record collection (remember records?) was absolutely huge, and I was familiar with only a small fraction of its contents.

Believe me, much of what I played was simply an experiment. There were no play lists. I was given little guidance. Just keep it mellow for the many old folks listening. I was on my own, so I did my best to choose that which I thought sounded fairly good and would edify.

I was too young and foolish to realize what a fabulous deal that really was! That was the time of my glory days in Christian radio, and I didn’t know it.

For various reasons, I left that station and took a job at a small town contemporary Christian music (CCM) station in a state nearer family. It was a compromise. Even though I had listened to and liked so-called Jesus music in the ‘70’s, something about it when I took the new job made me uneasy.

Over the years I worked there, I absolutely got my fill of it. So much of it was self centered, theologically screwy, and just plain hokey. It was disgusting to me that there were Christian music countdown shows, proving how shallow and temporal the whole industry had become. What ever happened to ministry?

Oh, yes, one song might minister a little; but then it would be quickly followed by a jingle, another song, commercials, etc. Contrary to my overnight job, things were very structured; but it was merely product over substance. Money had to be made. Air time had to be filled. I was sick of the compromises I felt I was making to earn a living.

A couple years ago I stumbled onto a CCM oldies program, playing chart toppers from the ’70‘s through the 90’s. Admittedly, I felt a pang of nostalgia at first. Then came that old discontent I used to experience when I had to play those songs—over and over and over…

The show, called “Streets of Gold,” left me feeling like I had taken a walk down streets of wet, termite ridden cardboard.

Numbers 11:18, 31-34

“And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the LORD will give you flesh, and ye shall eat….And there went forth a wind from the LORD, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day’s journey…And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails:…and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp. And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague. And he called the name of that place Kibrothhattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted.”

1 Cor. 3:11-15

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

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