For the final post of 2019, we will be discussing Alice and Sheryl’s appearance on “The Today Show,” which aired last week on December 17th. The interview, entitled “Alice Cooper Opens Up About His Journey To Finding Faith,” is only about 5 minutes long but is packed full of insight and discovery. The folks at “The Today Show” did a marvelous job of allowing the couple to share their testimony without watering it down for mainstream media. While the segment is about Faith, I was honestly a bit shocked that the editors left in so much discussion about Christ. In recent years, mainstream programming has become more hushed about things relating to Christ and God’s Word. But Praise God for small miracles! In this case, His Name and the power of His Grace were revealed and shared with the masses. It was beautiful to watch.
Amazingly enough, many topics were covered in such a short interview. Issues such as Alice’s past, his sobriety, he and Sheryl’s marriage, salvation, teen suicide, and the Metal genre of music were all discussed by the Coopers. It’s quite challenging to make 5 minutes count in such a dynamic fashion – but with God, ALL Things are Possible (Matthew 19:26). There were several talking points in the discussion, but let’s focus on the following: 1) Family, Friends, and the Church, 2) Religion & Faith, 3) A Sponsor vs. A Savior, and 4) The Dialogue of Metal.
Family, Friends, and the Church.
The experiences, emotions, and memories we harbor in our minds are fascinating devices. The good, bad, and ugly of our history shape and form who we become. Alice often notes that he and his wife are Pastor’s Kids (PKs). He fondly recalls his time spent at church and with like-minded friends growing up. It’s evident throughout his life and career that those times spent with family, friends, and the church are and have always been a part of him. Proverbs 22:6 reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” What better examples of this verse than that of both Alice and Sheryl Cooper? They became products of their upbringing. Those seeds planted in their hearts, as young children and teens, developed into a mature full-blown understanding of God and His Word. In the interview, Alice goes on to say, “I was the prodigal son, I grew up in the church, went as far away as you can go and was reeled back in.” Alice’s story is such a remarkable display of God’s Grace and significantly parallels that of the prodigal son found in Luke 15:11-32.
There are prodigal moments found in all of our lives – reckless decisions and actions that go against what we know is morally right. But in those moments, we must ask the question, “what are we going to do with these less than stellar things we’ve done?” Do we continue to head down the path to our own demise? Or do we start to correct the course (using the road map He’s given found in His Word)? When we look at the lives of the individuals observed within the Bible, we see many examples of deeply flawed individuals, yet God used them to pave the way for His Greatness. What’s most interesting is that the Word DOES NOT leave out their shortcomings and mistakes. In fact, God uses those limitations to His Glory. Stop and think about how many times you’ve either used or heard this excuse, “God can’t utilize me, I’ve done too many bad things in my life to be valuable or saved.” If that statement was true, no human alive would be worth using. It’s in our weakness that He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
One last point about this. Maybe some of us weren’t raised in a Christian home or know much about the Christian faith. That’s completely acceptable – it’s not a prerequisite. The truth is, we are all orphans in this world. Even Christ was adopted by His earthly father, Joseph. *Stop and give that one some thought.* We shouldn’t spend time dwelling on who we are or have been because of family, upbringing, or circumstance. We should instead focus on where He’s taking us and who He wants us to be in Him. Colossians 1:16 reads, “For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.” We must learn to focus, pray and meditate on what it is He has created us to be. Then stand in faith as He polishes the rougher edges of our character and uses our prodigal moments to His Glory.
Religion and Faith.
The words religion and faith are often used interchangeably. However, this can be misleading. Religion is defined as a particular system of faith and worship, and Faith is defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something. They are two very different things. It’s logical to confuse them as being the same….but it’s vitally important that we understand there is a significant difference between them.
Religion is a man-made construct, a system created by mankind in an attempt to illustrate (and sometimes control) our understanding of God. Religion often places constraints on both God and man – claiming that their interaction must be handled in a precise manner or carried out in a particular way. This process often leads people astray, having them focus more on the method instead of a relationship with Him.
Consider this simple analogy, kids often try to tell each other how to communicate, listen to, and love their parents. In much the same way, denominations sometimes believe other denominations are incorrect in their forms of worship and expression. This often leads one denomination and its members to go so far as to consider other Christian denominations as false paths to God – even though Christ is the cornerstone of both groups. Honestly, religion can often be a nasty business. Wars are waged, lines are drawn, and people are sometimes deeply intolerant of one another based on fundamental religious doctrine, as well as less significant practices or traditions found within denominations of the same religion. However, faith is an entirely different matter.
Faith, by comparison, is complete trust and confidence in someone or something. In the case of Alice and Sheryl Cooper, as well as those in the Christian faith, complete trust and confidence are placed in Jesus Christ. You’ll notice in this interview, they both point to Jesus Christ and refer to Him as their inspiration and salvation (not to a specific church or denomination). That’s the difference. Knowing who God is and what His promises are with full trust and confidence in His Word and Salvation through Christ. In a nutshell, it is not important how you worship, but who you worship. The Christian faith is made up of a vast number of people that know and worship Christ differently. Much like the walks of Paul, Peter, Barnabas, Luke, John, James, and other noted men and women in the Bible, we are all unique. The common denominator is our relationship with Christ through His Spirit. Ephesians 3:12 addresses this, stating, “In Him and through faith in Him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” The only requirement is faith through relationship with Him. A relationship grounded in His Word.
A Sponsor vs. A Savior.
A common talking point in many interviews and discussions with Alice is his sobriety. It’s often noted that he never went through Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), nor was he successfully cured through any sort of medical treatment. Instead, he was healed from his addiction. He stopped cold turkey. No withdrawals. He was miraculously healed of his affliction. As he and Sheryl often state, “He did not have a sponsor. He has a Savior.” A sponsor is someone that provides support for someone or something while a savior is someone that rescues or liberates someone or something. Much like religion and faith, there’s a significant difference between the two.
A sponsor, according to AA, is someone that does everything they can within their knowledge and personal boundaries to help their sponsee get and stay sober using the tools of AA. The sponsor leads by example through their own sobriety and personal history, teaching their sponsee about the benefits of living a sober life. They become a personal coach of sorts. Guiding, mentoring, and providing consistent encouragement and life skills to help the sponsee learn to navigate life without alcohol. Although we are looking at this through the scope of AA, all sponsors in life carry such attributes. They are individuals that offer advice, direction, and assistance when it is needed most. Teachers, pastors, friends, and family are good examples of our sponsors in life. They are blessings, but they cannot fulfill the role of a savior. A savior is something more. Something altogether different.
A savior intercedes on behalf of another person. If needed, a savior is willing to lay down their life to save another. Christ is the personification of salvation. He was sent to this world not to condemn it but to save it (John 3:16-17). Through the acceptance of Him and His sacrifice on the cross, we gain a new identity. When Alice states, “he doesn’t have a sponsor, he has a Savior,” he’s not only referring to his deliverance from alcohol but also from eternal damnation – Alice is no longer the man he was, Christ now dwells within Him (Galatians 2:20). He is identified as a Child of God, Forgiven, and Righteous because of His faith in Christ (Romans 3:22).
The Dialogue in Metal.
This talking point is really a post all on its own, but I’ll try my best to condense the content as much as possible. There’s this notion that Metal is too dark, too violent, and only promotes demonic undertones. It’s true, a small number of bands do suggest and display symbols of the occult and evil, but THE MAJORITY DO NOT – as a rule, bands in the genre actually understand good versus evil quite clearly. And the anger and sorrow found in a good portion of the lyrics are an intense narrative between God and themselves. For example, do you remember in the movie, “Forrest Gump,” when Lieutenant Dan argues with God from the masts of Forrest’s shrimping boat? Or maybe when Jacob wrestled all night with God in Genesis 32:22-32? A good majority of the Rock/Metal genre mirrors such tales. Stories are told, and songs are written about struggling with life, faith, and circumstance – asking “why” and crying out for help. But notice how God honored the struggle with Jacob. Alice points out that “God can handle our screams and pleas for help.” He welcomes any and all conversations we want to have with Him. He wants to be sought out – even when we’re angry at Him and life’s struggles. Most of the genre also acknowledges that evil stems from the hearts of men. That humanity has been given freedom of choice in this world – our actions are not forced on us by God or Satan – they are carried out by our own free will.
With that free will, we begin to understand our inward nature. We’ve been created to seek fulfillment for that inner void (a God-shaped hole in our hearts). A void which the world and its ruler (the enemy) try to convince us is physical and earthly, yet no matter how hard we try, nothing seems to satisfy that thirst or that emptiness. In fact, each of us is wired to know and understand that fact. We’ve been given an inward calling to live life through the eyes of everlasting peace and knowledge. But how do we get there? How do we end up fulfilled in this world? The question still baffles humanity, but it shouldn’t. The answer is found in death. Not the physical end, but the end of “self.” The sacrificial act of giving up the things of this world for something greater. Answering a supernatural call to something higher, something more significant. Responding to the invitation of our Father.
In many ways, the fans and bands of Rock and Metal (AKA Metalheads) are the outcasts of society. The orphans of this world that don’t quite see things the way other “Christians,” churchgoers, or “average joes” might see the world. Abandoned by what is considered socially acceptable, what most people may not understand is how well Metalheads comprehend the darkness and pain of this life. Some Metalheads live and dwell there, but many of them seek answers beyond such an agitated existence. For those of us searching for a way out of the darkness, we should continue to look upward instead of horizontally at each other. Continuing to walk in “horizontal darkness” leads to more pain and misery. However, when we pursue Him, He begins to place others in our path to help guide us out of the dark and into the light. As we break through the muck and mire, we shouldn’t be afraid to share our story and testimony. Doing so helps others to understand the darkness and casts more of His light into the world.
Life is not meant to be lived believing “things are what they are, you can’t change them,” That’s the lie that we – the family of Metalheads – must cast aside. We are called to be the Light to an unsuspecting world. Stop and think about that – how many expect to see Christ publicized and revealed to the world from the Rock/Metal community? It’s an unlikely place, but God uses unlikely scenarios and unbelievable people to uniquely reach all of His children. For instance, both Alice Cooper and Korn’s Brian “Head” Welch are prime examples of Christ’s Light being shown and shared in the genre of Metal. An unlikely place according to the standards of this world. A place that society and religion have labeled dark and dangerous. Yet the Holy Spirit steps in and lays claim to some of the most unsuspecting places and people…isn’t that awesome?! It seems implausible, and it shocks many when they find out about the faith of individuals such as Brian and Alice (take for instance the reaction of Al Roker and the rest of the “Today Show” panel), yet all things are possible through Him, and His purpose cannot be thwarted (Job 42:2). What’s encouraging is the freedom to worship and seek Him, even within the most unlikely places – the Metalhead community.
One last point about this. It’s not just about the Metalhead community, it’s about unity. Unity in Christ. All elements of the body working and moving together as one. We must begin to recognize the importance of that. Even when we, Metalheads or other “outcasts” of the world and religion, are treated with discontent and malice, we must strive to not only turn the other cheek but also show love to those who condemn us and our music (Matthew 5:38-40). We must do our best to meet everyone with the same grace and love that is afforded us by our Creator. The new life we strive to live is not something that is found in our appearance, the taste of music we enjoy, or even in our flavors of entertainment, but it is found in our willingness to love and our actions towards others (even those that oppose us) (Luke 6:27-36). As our flesh slowly perishes through the death of self, we become more alive, through and because of Christ, than we ever believed possible. We become everlastingly different, everlastingly renewed. Everlastingly full of His Grace, His Mercy, and His Love! We become a new creation in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).
In conclusion, it seems fitting that we end this year with a stripped-down conversation with Alice and Sheryl Cooper. No makeup, no props, no show. Just an honest discussion with them about who they are, what they believe, and why it’s the prominent part of their life. This narrative has touched on those elements revealed in that discussion – Alice’s upbringing and return to his roots, the difference between religion and faith, a savior instead of a sponsor, and the dialogue between God and humanity found in Metal. This interview is the perfect reminder as to why “Fridays with Alice” exists. To explore what it is that makes life worth living – where we find true meaning and purpose. As we all go about our lives, we should pay close attention to family and friends around us. We must do our best to ask questions along the way…why are some people happier than others? Why do some people seem more content or fulfilled than others? Is religion the answer…or is it something more? Faith in our redeemer? Where do you find your identity? Can God only move and be worshipped through select forms of expression and music? These are questions we must answer for ourselves with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. However, this Metalhead sees music as a conduit between us and our Creator. What better conductor of electricity and energy is there than METAL? If the wiring of a home can bring power and light to all its rooms, then why can’t God use METAL to light the world and spark that inner discussion we all must have at some point in our existence?
That’s all for this year, catch you next Friday in the New Year!
WE WISH YOU ALL A HAPPY, SAFE, AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR!
Keep Walkin’ in Faith and Rockin’ with Alice!
Have you accepted Christ as your Savior?
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"God, I believe in you and your son Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to save me. Today, I invite Jesus into my heart to stay. I make you Lord over my life. Make me new. Wash me, Lord, and cleanse me. In Jesus Name, Amen"
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