I can only say, to those of you puzzled by the title of this blog, you are either too young, way too old, or possibly just not that familiar with exceptional music. Stryper is a Glam Metal Christian band whose popularity peaked in the late ’80s, but who’ve continued to create relevant music still to this day. Don’t be too embarrassed if you’ve never heard of this incredible group because I get the impression there are numerous people like you, living amongst us, who are in the same boat, although that doesn’t make it right. I have a personalized license plate with the letters – STRYPR – as a tribute to the band, and I’m always amazed at the baffled expressions, found on the faces, of those I’ve noticed gazing at my plate. They tend to survey the piece of metal as if they’re attempting to decipher some sort of secret code.
One afternoon, while stopped at a red light, I noticed a couple of teenage girls in the car behind me, and they were staring intently at my vanity plate. They both started giggling, as they simultaneously whipped out their cell phones, and began taking pictures of my cherished license plate. At least they hadn’t been texting while driving. I wondered what was going on, as the teens were now laughing hysterically with their phones still fixated on my “rear end,” when it occurred to me perhaps they had misinterpreted my plate as meaning stripper. I could finally see the humor in the situation since the duo must’ve concluded I was a middle-aged stripper who was bold enough to advertise my controversial profession. I think the most amusing part of the incident is that my personalized plate is also a specialty plate which is inscribed with the motto, “In God We Trust.” Maybe those girls thought I was proud to be “stripping for the Lord.” Well, the Bible does say to be joyful in whatever work you do.
The word Stryper stands for Salvation through redemption yielding peace, encouragement & righteousness. The backronym was crafted by the band’s drummer, Robert Sweet, and coincides with their famous logo engraved with the Bible verse Isaiah 53:5. That passage of scripture states, “With his stripes we are healed,” and essentially means the whipping; hence, the stripes, the beating, and ultimately the crucifixion Jesus endured was intended to save those who believe in Him from damnation. Stryper has been spreading this Good News, through their thought-provoking music, since 1980. However, the group did take a long hiatus, in the ’90s, to pursue solo projects and other interests. I fancy many types of music and artists – some wholesome for the soul and admittedly some not, but it’s truly refreshing having the option of listening to positive and inspirational lyrics when the mood strikes.
I have heard many excellent and powerful sermons in my lifetime, but the Stryper concert my wife and I attended in 1988, was the most uplifting experience I have ever encountered as a Christian. The evening was actually very unsettling at first, when we were confronted by several picketers, outside the venue’s entrance. The protesters warned us not to go inside, insisting the concert awaiting us was the work of the devil, as they handed us some religious pamphlets. The Reverend Jimmy Swaggart supposedly disapproved of Stryper’s style of music, so he had made a national plea for all Christians to picket at their concerts. I think most of us are aware of what happened to the preacher shortly thereafter. Rev. Swaggart was implicated in the first of two sex scandals, involving prostitutes, and was initially suspended before eventually being defrocked by the church. I guess the good reverend never read Matthew 7:1-5, about judging others, or at the very least he decided not to take that passage of scripture to heart.
Maybe Mr. Swaggart should have noticed the log in his own eye before searching for a speck in his fellow man’s eye, and who was he to judge the ministry of Stryper anyway. Regardless, I’m so thankful we chose not to heed his or the picketers advice because the concert was magnificent, and it utterly warmed my soul. Although there wasn’t much preaching, coming from the stage, it wasn’t too difficult to know the band’s sentiments with songs like “In God We Trust,” and “To Hell With The Devil” blaring through the massive speakers. The lead guitarist and vocalist, Michael Sweet, sporadically tossed miniature Bibles out into the crowd during the Christian rockers’ amazing performance. Stryper ended their show with a heartfelt prayer for the souls of the entire audience and for everyone’s safe travels home. What a night! Now go, and be puzzled no more.