Devotion in Motion: Big conspiracy theories versus tiny verses

8 He who does not love does not know God,

   for God is love.      ~       1 John 4:8 (NKJV)   

By Bro. John L. Cash

I’ve been a follower of Jesus a long time. That’s a decision I’ve never regretted. But over the years, I’ve done a lot of growing, and I’ve done a lot of changing. And the older I get, I’m concerned about a different set of things.

Let me give you an example. When I was a teenager, every youth group in America was warned about the dangers of “backwards masking.” This was the idea that musical artists put Satanic messages on the vinyl records we were all listening to in order to persuade us to forsake the faith. According to these “experts,” rock stars realized that if they put these anti-Christian messages on there “like normal,” we’d hear them and stop buying the records. So, what they decided to do was put the messages on the records backwards. According to them, our subconscious minds are able to understand messages played in reverse, too.

Now I’ve got to confess, I spent a lot of hours with other Christian teens cranking a phonograph turntable backwards. I wanted to see what the Satanists were trying to convince me to do. And, indeed, I’ve heard some things that sounded like someone pronouncing a curse. If you play “Stairway to Heaven” backwards, there’s a part that sounds like “I’m a little child for you, Satan.” Stuff like that used to scare me. I got rid of a lot of my vinyl collection.

But, after the dust settled, most people came to the conclusion that the backward masking controversy was just a lot of hype. What it came down to is that when you play anything backwards, there’s a chance it’ll accidentally sound like something else. When you play “Jesus Loves Me” backwards, it sounds like someone saying “I smell sausage.” No joke. I’ve wrecked the needle on a stereo and heard it with my own ears. I realized that nobody planted that message. It’s just the way the sounds worked out.

(Now to be fair, there really were some backwards messages on phonograph records. Artists started to do it AFTER the controversy started because kids would buy the records with secret messages to fuel the controversy. One Christian group arranged for a backwards message that said, “Why are you looking for hidden messages. The Bible is the only message you need!”)

All that being said, I don’t worry about things like that anymore. I can’t imagine I’m going to hear a song on the radio that somebody put a curse on (backwards) that would lead me into atheism. That’s absurd.

What worries me now? Tiny verses from the Bible. Verses like 1 John 4:8:  “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” If I want to know God, and please Him, and spend eternity with Him, I’m going to have to live a life of love. And He’s going to have to change me so I’m able to do that. Let’s ask Him to do that during this new week.

Because there’s nothing backwards about that.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 34 ½ years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He’s currently on a sabbatical from the preaching ministry, and is an English teacher at the Choctaw Tribal School. He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in a brick house in town (where the Preacher and his wife are playing phonograph records the regular way.) You can send him a note at