Encouraging a higher standard for Christian music

Archive for the ‘church worship service’ Category

Glory

GLORY IS A SPECIAL WORD IN SCRIPTURE—
a word infused with the essence of God himself. It appears (along with its cognates) over 500 times in Scripture. One verse in particular is of great significance to us:

Psalm 66:2:

Sing out to the honor of his name;

make his praise glorious

In this verse, the psalmist (King David) exclaims with strength and power, “Sing out to the honor of His name“. The psalmist then follows this declamatory proclamation with an even stronger assertion:

Make His praise glorious!

There is to be nothing ordinary about this praise, it is to be of the highest order and of the greatest magnitude.
To create a powerful platform for praise, God inspired King David to marshal a corps of 4,000 professional musicians who were spiritually prepared, skillfully trained, highly organized and spent their lives giving praise to God.
The musicians were organized under three men of God (Levites) who carefully crafted their worship in a musically and theologically acceptable manner. (See 1 Chronicles 23 and 25.) David and his musicians would take no chances that their musical sacrifice of praise would be presented in a frivolous or careless way. This was music that was to exalt “the honor of His name and make His praise glorious!”

The result:

a spiritual environment

that brought this high worship of God

to the Israelites

in a way that united the best of music and poetry.

In Scripture, it’s important to note that glory is not only an attribute, it is an actual place: Glory…heaven, the dwelling place of God.
In looking forward to “glory”, Jonathan Edwards made this observation:

“If praising God in song is very much the employment of heaven…let all be exhorted to the work and duty of praising God [here on earth.]
(See: “Thankgsgiving Sermon”, 1734)

Note the reformer’s words regarding the use of music as a “work” and a “duty”. Like David’s original musical organization, music in heaven will be a joyous fulltime occupation infused with His glory, majesty and greatness!
For twenty-first century Christians this must all seem strange, having been persuaded by their culture that music:

a. exists for their own personal pleasure.
b. is all good–style is relative!
c. can be utilized for any purpose.

Today, begin your preparation for glory right now — forget popular culture and sing in the great tradition of King David and his spectacular choir of Levite musicians. Sing — and then memorize — a great hymn of the faith! You’ll be glad you did! To God be the Glory!

–Center for Church Music

What is Worship?

This video illustrates some very important points about worship, and what we perceive worship to be. Someone could close their eyes, half-heartedly listen to the words and “feel” the “spirit”..

We must be very careful that our worship is not just some kind of feel-good manifestation of the flesh or even our human spirit, but rather our whole being yielded to Christ for His Glory.

Sometimes when we worship, we don’t really mean it. What would it look like if we were to sing what we really meant? This was an illustration from a sermon about worship at First Orlando Worship, and it struck a chord.

 

GOD WANTS TO BE EDIFIED HIMSELF. AND WE’RE TO NOT SEEK SELF-EDIFICATION, BUT TO EDIFY GOD WITH ALL WE DO. SO IF YOU SEE A PERSON WITH A GREAT GIFT, TRYING TO DO SOMETHING TO GLORIFY THEMSELVES, YOUR OWN DISCERNMENT OF THE SPIRIT TELLS YOU THAT’S WRONG.                                 ~ WILLIAM BRANHAM

 

“Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of the conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose—all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.” – William Temple

12 Keys in Our Choice of Music

Music choice is important. But how are we to evaluate the music in our lives? Here are twelve major principles, based on the Word of God, which can help us, as Christians, to do so. They can be applied to any music, but they are worth considering in relation to the music we use in the services of the church, both what is presented from the platform, and what is sung by the congregation.

1. HUMILITY. In the complexities of understanding and evaluating music, none of us has all the answers (cf. Rom. 12:3, 10; 14:1).

2.UNIQUENESS. We are each different as to the music in our lives, and with respect to how it affects us (cf. Rom. 12:3-6a; I Cor. 12:14, 27).

3. INTEGRATION. Earthly things can have a valid place in our Christian lives, as we assess them biblically and use them wisely (cf. I Cor. 7:31; I Tim. 6:17b).

4. ORIGIN. The source of a piece of music can affect it in significant ways (cf. Prov. 15:2, 28; Lk. 6:45).

5. TRADITION. The wise person appreciates the heritage of the past and will continue to employ it and be enriched by it (cf. Deut. 32:7; Jer. 6:16; contrast Acts 17:21).

6. PURPOSE. The purpose of the musician and of his music will influence how it is used, and therefore how it affects us (cf. I Cor. 9:25; 10:31; contrast Phil. 3:18-19).

7. BALANCE. Music with its various elements in balance reflects the nature of God and accomplishes the purposes of God (cf. I Cor. 14:33, 40; Tit. 1:5a).

Such elements include: melody, harmony, rhythm, tempo, and dynamics. If there are lyrics, the music should serve as an appropriate vehicle to enhance their message.

8. SEPARATION. We must not, with our music, encourage or glorify that attachment to this sinful world that God hates (cf. II Cor. 6:14-17; I Jn. 2:15-17).

9. ASSOCIATION. Communication problems arise if the music accompanying a Christian message is associated in the mind of the hearer with a corrupt and sinful lifestyle (cf. I Cor. 8:4, 7; 14:8; 15:33).

10. EFFECT. Music is a medium of expression (in a sense, a language) which can communicate with powerful effect (cf. I Sam. 16:23; Col. 3:16; and see Gal. 6:7).

11. MESSAGE. The message a song delivers depends upon several components working effectively together:

Words + Music + Performance + Musician’s known lifestyle + Social context = the Total Message of a Song (cf. Ps. 139:15-16; I Cor. 12:12; Eph. 4:16).

12. RESPONSIBILITY. Music is a stewardship from God that we are responsible to use according to His will and purpose (cf. Deut. 12:29-31; Lk. 16:15; and see Est. 4:14; Acts 13:36).

Editor’s note – This article was written and originally published by Robert Cottrill the editor of http://www.wordwisehymns.com.

~ Chapter 2 ~ Music – The Sound and the Unsound


“A thought-provoking look at humanity’s most influential form of expression, MUSIC  – The Sound and the Unsound

Music

THE SOUND

AND THE

UNSOUND

 

C H A P T E R  T W O

WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES US ABOUT MUSIC

“A human has to worship. You have to worship something. It’s just in you to worship.” 6

The Bible tells us that the Lord finds pleasure in the praises of His people. There are over 500 specific references in the Bible to music and musical instruments7 – evidence that this is not a subject that God treats lightly. As a matter of fact, the lengthiest book in the Bible is a song book, and it is here that God demonstrates His concern for the kind of music that His children enjoy and perform by providing this example for us to follow:  The Book of Psalms.

The collection of 150 poems that make up the Book of Psalms mirrors the ideals of religious piety and communion with God. They were written by David, Moses (Psalm 90), Solomon,Asaph (David’s choir leader), the sons of Korah (a family of official musicians), and others, for the express purpose of being set to music for worship. They even include musical notations to indicate when key changes are to be made. For example, the instruction selah, meaning “to modulate to the next key,” appears 71 times in the Book of Psalms and is not normally articulated when Scripture is being read aloud.

From the Hebrew language, Psalms translates as “Book of Praise.”  This was the prayer book that our Lord Jesus used in the synagogue service, and it was His hymn book at the Temple  festival. He used it in His teaching, met temptation with it, sang the Hallel (Psalms 115-118) from it after the Last Supper, quoted from it as He hung on the cross, and died with it on His lips.8 The Book of Psalms remains the national hymn book of Israel today.

Far from advocating a single style, Psalms range from the classical presentations, written for the temple musicians, to the simple but expressive ballads, which David composed while tending his sheep. In the Book of Psalms you will find rally songs, marching songs, victory songs, and teaching songs; there are songs of repentance, lamentation, petition, praise, renewal, and thanksgiving; there are songs for saints and songs for sinners.

The Book of Psalms has been called the door into the temple of praise and prayer, and in all ages and in more than a thousand languages, the church has found through the Psalter a means of access to God.

The Bible also shows us that man has long been aware of the effect of music upon our daily existence and its power to influence people both physically and emotionally.

In I Samuel 16:14-23, Scriptures relate an example of how a man was made well – body, soul, and spirit – through the music of a young shepherd boy.

“And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed[physical], and was well[mental], and the evil spirit departed from him[spiritual].”

In II Kings 3:15 we learn that the prophet Elisha once used music to create an atmosphere so that he could “inquire of the Lord” for the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom.

“But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.”

As the tribes of Israel were set to war against their enemies, II Chronicles 20:21-22tells us that they put a choir and musical instruments in front of the army.

“…he[Jehoshaphat] appointed singers unto the Lord, that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever.

And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.”

In the New Testament Book of Acts, chapter 16, we find the account of two early Christian leaders, Paul and Silas, who were cast into prison for preaching the Gospel. They used the opportunity to minister, through song, and glorify God.

“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed,and sang praises unto God: the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. ”

Now, let’s review what we have just learned from these Biblical passages:

  1. In both the Old and the New Testament, music was vital to the life of the believer, both as an expression of joy and as an act of obedience unto God;
  2. God has given us instruction (by way of examples) as to the kinds of music that He wants His people to have;
  3. Far from being merely a neutral recreation, music has the power to influence us mentally, physically, and spiritually;
  4. There are certain types of music which can make demons feel very uncomfortable; and
  5. Music can create an atmosphere wherein God can work miracles.

Taken from the magazine ONLY BELIEVE (no longer in publication). The regression of music amongst our churches is a cancer which, if not properly dealt with, will suck the true Life out of The Church. This downward spiral is caused by a lack of discernment and a general lowering of standards by a generation wanting something new and different rather than stand fast, and hold to what is tried and true, proven, and right. Many have failed to heed the warning expressed in this article. Innumerable groups, bands, and various musical artists spawned forth since Brother and Sister Smith published this article in December 1991, [Vol. 4, No 3].  No doubt the Christian artists she names here gave birth to groups like: MercyMe,KutlessNewSongSidewalk prophets The David Crowder band,Casting CrownsJeremy Camp, and Third Day to name a few. If Brother Branham called people like Pat Boone, modern day Judases, obviously these are too. What kind of person feeds off these groups, and promotes their demonic inspired lyrics and music within our churches? I pray this article will help someone. (the pictures are mine) – [DM- Editor discerningMusic]

Worse and worse

This is a repost of an article from Mr. Cottrills site linked at the end of this article.

POPULAR MUSIC TODAY

(A Flood of Degrading Music)

These comments relate to a blog posted by my son Jim, in which he discussed the immoral nature of much of the pop music being listened to in Mexico, where he and his wife Shari serve as missionaries. It was a revealing analysis. And from my awareness of the United States and Canada, I’d say that our popular music is at least as bad, possibly worse. Day by day it seems to reach new lows in vulgarity and the glorification of immorality.

Being an old guy, I can remember the early days of television in the 1950’s. I vividly recall a performer being caught be surprise–a sudden fright–and using (I think) the words “O my God!”–then, apologizing to the viewing audience for her improper language! Now…! (Need I say more?)

And I can remember the fuss made about Elvis Presley. On television, on at least one occasion, only his face and upper body were allowed on camera, because his sensual wiggle was considered indecent. Now, many laugh at how “narrow” we were in those days, and how harmless it all was. But, of course, it wasn’t.

The Bible says, “In the last days perilous times will come. For men [i.e. human beings] will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God….Evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (II Tim. 3:1-4, 13). I could hardly come up with a better description of today’s pop music scene!

The Greek for “worse and worse” is, literally, advance in the direction of worse! And this continuing degradation of sinners in the last days will be accompanied by self deception. “Professing themselves to be wise, they [become] fools” (Rom. 1:22). And they will deceive many others with their cunning arguments, leading them further astray.

There is a fallacious argument you perhaps have heard: that history is cyclical, rather than linear. That similar things keep happening again and again. That is true to some extent, but with important reservations. If something was condemned as bad a century ago, and it’s now considered acceptable, does that mean that something condemned ten years ago and now accepted is precisely the same thing? No, it doesn’t.

We are reminded that, in the nineteenth century, many felt that waltzes were immoral. Now, hardly anyone thinks that. In the mid-twentieth century, Elvis and his ilk were labeled the same way. Now, they’re fine with most folks. Today, some make a fuss about contemporary pop music, but soon it too will be broadly accepted. Supposedly, it’s all the same, round and round. The problem with that argument is that it’s not true.

History does not simply repeat itself over and over. The “worse and worse” of Paul’s warning to Timothy is coming to pass. If there is a repetitious cycle at work, it can more accurately be described as a downward spiral. That is how the world, the flesh and the devil conspire to drive society ever downward (cf. Jer. 26; 16:12; Ezek. 16:47; Hos. 13:2).

In practical terms, something happened in the 1950’s with the early rockers that had never happened before. The new music was marketed to teens as uniquely their own music. Before that, popular music was much more cross-generational. But for the past 60 years young people have been fed a most seductive line of propaganda: “This is yours; you need this. Don’t let the adults take it away from you. They don’t really understand you.”

There are echoes here of the devil’s lie in Eden (Gen. 3:4-5). It has been his argument from the beginning that somehow the Lord is holding out on us. That He could have been more generous to us. But if we’ll but seize what is our “right,” we’ll become like gods ourselves, captains of our own destiny. And the lie’s corrosion is eating away at the souls of our youth. It will doom many to eternal destruction.

How we need, as parents, and as leaders in local churches, to teach our children and young people to be discerning in this area, and teach them to have an appreciation for the best music.

–Robert Cottrill–http://www.wordwise-bible-studies.com/popular-music-today.html

 

Silence – one form of worship.

With all the noise in some churches, it’s a wonder anyone can hear from God…

“My dear Wormwood: Music and silence–how I detest them both! How thankful we should be that ever since our Father entered Hell–though longer ago than humans, reckoning in light years, could express, no square inch of infernal space and no moment of infernal time has been surrendered to either of those abominable forces, but all has been occupied by Noise–Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile–Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples, and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end. We have already made great strides in this direction as regards the Earth. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. But I admit we are not yet loud enough, or anything like it. Research is in progress.”

– From C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, which purports to be the correspondence between Screwtape, under-secretary to the devil, and his   nephew, Wormwood, instructing him in the best ways to tempt the followers of the Enemy, God.

C.S. Lewis died in 1963. Research in noise-making has made considerable progress since then, don’t you think? To learn stillness we must resist our ancient foe, whose craft and power are great, and who is armed with cruel hate. There is One far greater who is on our side. His voice brought stillness to fierce winds and wild waves, and He will surely help us if we put ourselves firmly and determinedly in His presence–“I’m here, Lord. I’m listening.” If no word seems to be forthcoming, remember “it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord,” and “when He gives quietness, who then can make trouble?” (Lamentations 3:26; Job 34:29, KJV).

Silence is one form of worship. When the seventh seal was opened (in St. John’s Revelation), there was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour. What would happen in our homes if we should try to prepare ourselves for those heavenly silences by having just one half-hour when there is no door slamming, no TV, no stereo or video, and a minimum of talk, in quiet voices? Wouldn’t it also be a calming thing just to practice the stillness which is the absence of motion? My father used to have us try this every now and then. Why not try a Quiet Day or even a Quiet Week without the usual noises? It might open vistas of the spiritual life hitherto closed, a depth of communion with the Lord impossible where there is nothing but noise. Does God seem absent? Yes, for most of us He sometimes does. Even at such a time may we not simply be still before Him, trusting that He reads the perplexity we cannot put into words?

Stillness. Perfect stillness. It is a very great gift, not always available to those who would most appreciate it and would find joy in it, and often not appreciated by those who have it but are uncomfortable with it. External noise is inescapable in many places–traffic on land and in the air, sirens, horns, chain saws, loud voices and, perhaps worst of all, screaming rock music with thundering amplification which makes the very ground shudder.

 
I think it is possible to learn stillness–but only if it is seriously sought. God tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

 
The stillness in which we find God is not superficial, a mere absence of fidgeting or talking. It is a deliberate and quiet attentiveness–receptive, alert, ready. I think of what Jim Elliot wrote in his Journal: “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

– Author: Elisabeth Elliot | Source: Keep A Quiet Heart

the Devil’s music

[This is an excerpt from the article 
If the Devil Were a Musician...by Curtis Hollembeak  
co-founder and President of the Asaph Music Co. - DM]

In our present culture great derision is attached to the idea that a certain type of music could be labeled the Devil’s music, but let’s consider what kind of music the Devil would produce if he were a musician. His music would be characterized by:

  1. Rebellion against authority, specifically God’s authority (Gen. 3:1, Is. 14:14, Matt. 4:9, Luke 4:6, 7)
  2. Questioning God’s love (Gen. 3:4, 5; Job 1:9-11)
  3. Emphasis on the material and physical instead of the spiritual (Matt. 4:3, Luke 4:3)
  4. Emphasis on man instead of God (Mark 8:33, Matt. 16:23)
  5. Violence (Ez. 28:16)
  6. Promotion of the breaking of God’s moral law (1 Cor. 7:5)
  7. Selfishness and pride (Isa. 14:13, 14; Ez. 28:17)

So, the Devil’s music would be characterized by rebellion against authority, loud and violent sounds that appeal to the physical (the element of music that appeals to the body is the rhythm, or beat), immoral behaviors, selfishness and pride.

As a side note, it is interesting that in Exodus 32:16, 17, when Moses and Joshua came down from Mt. Sinai after receiving the Law, they mistook the sound of idolatrous music coming from the Israelite camp for the “noise of war.” The music was, presumably, loud, percussive and violent. You will, of course, remember the great rebellion and immorality that also accompanied the idolatry.

Do you know of any musical forms or styles that fit the description of the Devil’s music? You make the call.

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

That little chorus, “Jesus Loves Me,” has no doubt influenced more children for Jesus Christ than any other chorus or hymn. The lyrics were written by Anna Warner and published in 1869 in her best selling novel entitled Say and Seal, and the refrain was later added by songwriter, William Bradbury.

   It was just a poem in this novel, spoken by one of the main characters as he comforted a little boy who was dying. The were simple lyrics, but to the point.

Jesus loves me! this I know

For the Bible tells me so;

Little ones to Him belong,

They are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me,

Yes, Jesus loves me,

Yes, Jesus loves me,

For the Bible tells me so.

 

   This little chorus has not only affected children, but adults of all ages as well. Three is something soothing and powerful about this reminder of God’s unfailing love through Jesus Christ. It does not get any simpler, or richer, than that – Jesus loves me!

   The love of God is not just some principle; it is a person. It is not some ethereal feeling from God; it is real fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.

   Bank on it; depend on it; be persuaded by this word from God!

   You are eternally secure because God, the Creator of everything, stooped to die for everything about you, so that nothing can now separate you from His everlasting, comprehensive, secure love.

   Charles Spurgeon, on his deathbed, said to some of his final visitors, “As time has passed on, my theology has grown more and more simple. It is simply this, ‘Jesus loves me!”’ That is it!

Jesus loves me! this I know,

For the Bible tells me so;

Little ones to Him belong,

They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me…

The Bible tells me so!

 

Written by Dr. Stephen Davey,
President and Professor of Practical Theology;
Shepherds Theological Seminary

Trust And Obey – The Token of Integrity

The Token of Integrity

 

  

“With a servant, a warrior, a child, a subject,” writes Andrew Murray in The New Life, “obedience is indispensable, the first token of integrity.” 

God is my Master, my Captain, my Father, my King. I am servant, warrior, child, subject. What have I to do in any of these cases but obey? 

Integrity means wholeness, unbroken condition, the quality of being unimpaired and sound. An integer is something which is complete in itself, an entity. No one can serve two masters. Divided loyalty will mean impaired obedience. “A soldier on active service will not let himself be involved in civilian affairs; he must be wholly at his commanding officer’s disposal” (2 Tm 2:4 NEB). 

O Christ, be Master and Captain of my life. Give me a whole heart united to do your bidding and to do nothing else. Let me hear your voice and no other. Make my life an integer for your glory. Amen. 

 

Trust and Obey

Hymn Writer ~ John H. Sammis, 1846-1919  |  Hymn Music ~ Daniel B. Towner, 1850-1919
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Refrain

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Refrain

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

Refrain

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Refrain

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Refrain

 

 

 

 

 

Praise Him!

 

Glory in the Highest

Stop, Look, Listen

 by Chris Tomlin

 How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails. He causes us to remember his wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our Lord

Psalm 111:2-4, New Living Translation

 

See This Verse In Context

 

ll the earth together declares/ Glory in the highest to You, Lord/ All the earth will sing Your praise/ The moon and stars, the sun and rain

God’s presence is everywhere. Evidence of His greatness is all around you. All you have to do is look and see it. It’s possible to go through everyday and miss it, but if you open your eyes and your heart, you will recognize His majesty everywhere.

• In the sunrise and sunset. How He has timed everything to be perfect, and made it beautiful.

• In rain and snow. How he provides for us in such simple ways.

• In fields of crops and flowers. Giving us beauty and fulfilling our needs.

• In dogs, cats and other pets. Providing unquestionable companionship when we feel like people let us down.

• In friends and family who are our support and speak truth to us.

• In the moon and stars. He placed each one in their place and knows how many there are, and that tells about God’s greatness. But yet He still knows who you are and cares for you.

Take a look around and see how many things in your life show how great and loving God is. And praise Him.

How Great Thou Art 

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

Detours – In Thy Constant Love Thou Hast Led The People!

 

 

When Pharaoh let the people go, “God did not guide them by the road towards the Philistines, though that way was the shortest…. God made them go round by way of the wilderness towards the Red Sea” (Ex 13: 17, 18 NEB).

The direct route would save time as well as wear and tear on the people, but God had something infinitely more important than economics in mindHe wanted the people to be able to sing the song of praise of chapter 15–“The Lord is my refuge and my defence…my deliverer. He is my God and I will glorify Him; He is my father’s God and I will exalt Him” (Ex 15:2 NEB). They sang this song because they had firsthand experience of God’s power and deliverance. Pursued by all the chariots and horses, cavalry and infantry of Egypt, they had passed through the Red Sea in safety and seen the enemy drowned. They would have missed this glorious lesson if they had taken the short road.

When we are puzzled by delays and detours, let us think about the great purpose of life: to glorify God. The lessons He wants to teach us “in the wilderness” are priceless means of providing us with a song we could not otherwise have sung: “In Thy constant love Thou hast led the people!” (Ex 15:13).

Exodus 13 
1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether man or animal.” 3 Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the LORD brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast. 4 Today, in the month of Abib, you are leaving. 5 When the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites—the land he swore to your forefathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey—you are to observe this ceremony in this month: 6 For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the LORD. 7 Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. 8 On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of the LORD is to be on your lips. For the LORD brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. 10 You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year. 11 “After the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you, as he promised on oath to you and your forefathers, 12 you are to give over to the LORD the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the LORD. 13 Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons.

 14 “In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed every firstborn in Egypt, both man and animal. This is why I sacrifice to the LORD the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.’ 16 And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the LORD brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”

Crossing the Sea

 17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. [a] The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.

 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.” [b]

 20 After leaving Succoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21 By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

 

 
Author: Elisabeth Elliot Source: A Lamp For My Feet

God Leads Us Along

 

Rowland V. Bingham, founder of the Sudan Interior Mission, was once seriously injured in a terrible automobile accident. Rushed to the hospital in critical condition, he did not regain consciousness until the next day. When he asked the nurse what he was doing there, she replied, “Don’t try to talk now, just rest. You have been in an accident.”

“Accident? Accident?” exclaimed Dr. Bingham. “There are no accidents in the life of the Christian. This is just an incident in God’s perfect leading.” Our attitude toward the Lord’s leading our steps ought to be the same. When we live righteously before Him, free from known sin, there are no accidents in our lives, only incidents in His perfect leading. Let Him lead you today.

~~

GOD LEADS US ALONG
(G.A. Young, public domain)

In shady green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along.
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads his dear children along.

CHORUS:
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the Blood.
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song
In the night season, and all the day long.

Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along.
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.

Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along.
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.

Praising God

And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even.

King David, who himself had been a fugitive and a wanderer for many years of his life, would have liked nothing better than to build a permanent dwelling place for the ark of the covenant. But because he was a man of war, Jehovah would not permit David to realize this privilege, so David “called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build an house to the LORD God of Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:6).

The zealous David did all he could to help in the preparations for the building of this temple. He gathered materials, prepared iron for nails and had a crew of masons readied. But an even greater contribution than arranging for the materials may have been David’s initiation of the first full choral service. In conjunction with the chief of the Levites, David set apart three families and commissioned them to the service of the temple. These were not just singers, but prophets as well, “to prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals” (1 Chronicles 25:1). Generation after generation their instruction was handed down from father to son, and their art and musical skills were carefully perpetuated.

These families were those of Asaph, the son of Berechiah the Gershonite, the chief singer and also a distinguished seer; of Heman the Kohathite, the grandson of the prophet Samuel and himself “the king’s seer in the words of God” (1 Chronicles 25:5); and of Jeduthun (or Ethan), a Merarite, who is also called “the king’s seer.” Each of the names of these leaders is found in the titles or superscriptions of selected psalms in the Psalter.

From 1 Chronicles 23-25 we learn that the numbers of Levites involved in the service of the temple and tabernacle was enormous. The three families numbered 288 principal singers, divided into 24 courses of 12 each. The total number of Levites engaged in the important task of praising Jehovah with the instruments which David made was 4,000. Six thousand were designated as officers and judges, 4,000 were set apart to be doorkeepers, and the remaining 24,000 Levites were designated to the general “work of the house of Jehovah.”

Although to us their work may appear to be mundane, it certainly was not to them. They were to wait on the priests for the service of the house of Jehovah, purifying the holy place and the holy things, preparing the shewbread and the meat offering and assisting in the offering of burnt sacrifices on the sabbaths and on feast days. But perhaps their greatest duty, as well as their greatest delight, was “to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord and likewise at even” (1 Chronicles 23:30).

Rising early in the morning, these Levites would initiate the praise to Jehovah that day. This was not only a responsible position but a very meaningful one as well. Psalm 88, a psalm for the sons of Korah designated as a Maschil of Heman, gives a fine example of what these Levites may have said morning after morning in praising Jehovah. “But unto Thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent [come before] Thee” (Psalm 88:13).

Rising early in the morning to initiate a day filled with praise to God is our privilege as well. May we be as faithful in exercising that privilege as David’s choirmasters were. Faithfulness in early praise to God may make the difference between a good day and a bad day.

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; 

Images of Hell

Somehow or other North Dakota did not seem quite the place where my husband and I expected to find the sort of television program which shocked us. We were in a motel–not one of those that offers Home Box Office or other special shows for a fee, but a perfectly ordinary one. The program that stopped us in our tracks was, we discovered, a perfectly ordinary one that is shown all over the country, twenty-four hours a day. It hasn’t gotten to the Boston area as far as I know, but it will. It is rock music–the screaming, thundering, pulsating, shrieking, eardrubbing, earsplitting, ear-bludgeoning kind, played by groups with names like Cheap Trick, the Boomtown Rats, the Sex Pistols, Missing Persons, The Destroyers, and The Clash. Across the bottom of the screen ran a legend from time to time, giving the name of the soloist, the title of the “music,” and the group performing. Song titles were such things as “Screaming for Vengeance,” “Bad Boy Having a Party,” “Children of the Grave,” “Escalator of Life” (“I’m shoppin’ the human mall” was a line from that one), “Combat Rock,” “Maneater,” and “Paranoid.

Songs, they’re called. I had some idea that singing was supposed to touch the heart. What is the condition of the heart that is touched by titles like those? What was happening on the screen was at least as depressing. The music was being dramatized by children. They were heavily made up, of course, doing their level best to act as sophisticated, blase, and bored as adults must seem to them, but it was plain that most of them were teenagers, early teenagers. They were slinking around bars, slouching along brilliantly lighted city streets; toying with elegant wineglasses in high-toned restaurants, smoking with long, slim, shiny cigarette holders. They were gazing dully at the camera, looking up through lowered eyebrows or down through false eyelashes. They were writhing in horizontal positions, or girls were sashaying away from boys, casting over a raised shoulder the cruel come-on glance of the vamp. Boys were striding with thrust-forward pelvises toward the girls, breathing heavily through parted lips, hulking, swaying, scowling.

The camera went from these scenes to the rock groups sweating and screaming under the colored lights, dressed in rags, blue jeans, tights, sequins, undershirts, and in some cases nearly nothing. Hair was stringy, spinachy, wild–or “punk rock,” dyed, partially shaved, stiff. They smashed, hammered, clobbered those drums. They doubled up in agony over their guitars, striving, twisting, stamping, and jumping. Their faces were contorted with hatred or pain, at times jeering, insolent, defiant. Back the camera would go then to the slithering kids trying to “express themselves” or to play out the lyrics which were being yelled at top decibel by whoever was clutching the microphone. (How do their vocal cords stand it?)

But oh, the faces of those kids. I was riveted to the screen, aghast, horrified. There was a terrible fascination in the very absence of reality. How had they been programmed to erase from their fresh young faces every trace of personality, every least hint of humanity? They stared with unblinking blankness, lifeless, spiritless, cold. A strange and surreal alternative to the spastic seizures, paroxysms, and nauseated retchings of the “musicians.”

This, then, is what rock music is all about. Images of Hell. That’s all I could think of. Hell is the place where those whose motto is My will be done will finally and forever get what they want. Hell is agony and blankness and torture and the absence of all that humanity was originally destined to be. The glory has terminally departed. It is the heat of flames (not of passion–that will long since have burned out) and the appalling lifelessness of solid ice, an everlasting burning and an irreversible freezing.

Tyndale House’s little paper, The Church Around the World, cited a study by Columbia University which helps to explain why we get what we get on TV:

· 50% of those controlling the media have “no religion”
· 8% attend church or synagogue weekly
· 86% attend seldom or never
· 84% believe government should have no laws regulating sex
· 55% believe extramarital affairs are not immoral
· 95% believe homosexuality is not wrong
· 85% believe homosexuals should be permitted to teach in public schools

I do not plan a campaign to squelch rock music. It is simply an accurate expression of the powers that are at work in our society:

For the words that the mouth utters come from the overflowing of the heart. A good man produces good from the store of good within himself; and an evil man from evil within produces evil…. Out of your own mouth you will be acquitted; out of your own mouth you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:35, 36 NEB).

From racket, din, cacophony, and pandemonium (“all demons”), Good Lord, deliver us. Give us the strength that comes from quietness; your gentleness, Lord, your peace. And one more thing, Lord–put a new song in our mouths, even praise to our God.

Copyright© 1989, by Elisabeth Elliot
all rights reserved. Source: On Asking God Why

Practical Guidelines For Church Musicians

I appreciate the many books, articles, and seminars about what music is right and what is wrong. I’d like to direct a few very practical guidelines to anyone involved in church music ministry. By the way, you don’t have to be a performer on the platform to qualify as a church musician. If you sing with the congregation, then this is for you, too.

Guideline #1 – Sing. Now see, this isn’t hard stuff. I recall a well-known song leader stopping between two verses of a congregational hymn to say, “I see the problem! Some of you are trying to sing without moving your lips!” An effort is required, but it’s necessary and worth it.

Guideline #2 – Sing with the purpose in mind. It’s too easy to wander into a church auditorium and mindlessly go with the flow as a spectator. I’m glad for those in leadership who provide constant reminders that our audience is God. The words and melodies we sing must focus adoration on Him and encourage fellow believers. The Bible teaches that we should communicate with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Not coincidentally, those options are perfectly consistent with the Scripture’s instruction to worship God and use our spiritual gifts to edify the saints. There are nine tasks or serving gifts that Scripture talks about: Prophecy, Helper, Teaching, Exhortation, Giving, Administration, Showing Mercy, Evangelism, and Shepherding. Notice that musical ability isn’t mentioned as a spiritual gift. God has given music to ALL of us to further enhance our unique service gifts.

Guideline #3 – Sing as well as you are able. We’ve all heard about folks who will stand up in front of the congregation and say, “Now ya’ll pray for us. We ain’t practiced.” If you went to the White House to perform for the President of the United States, would you say something like that? Is God less important than the President who prays to Him? Doing anything well takes practice. Spend time learning the words and melodies. The tape or CD player in your car can be a valuable tool for reviewing, and of course, you can hear a wealth of great music on BBN. Sing along. I do this constantly in my car. Sure, I get a few strange looks, but I have improved as a singer. Scripture makes it clear that we are to do whatever we do cheerfully and with all our might.

Guideline #4 – Sing songs with words worth singing. I visited a church once where they sang, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine” in the morning service. This is a fine song to sing in a food commercial, but I submit, a poor choice to represent our love and gratitude to the God of the universe. Take a careful look at the words and ask yourself a few questions. Do the words align with scriptural principles? Whether sung or spoken, heresy is still heresy. Church song lyrics should lead people to a greater understanding of God or help them learn to value God more highly.

Guideline #5 – Sing songs that cause a spiritual response. This is probably where church musicians have the most difficult time with discernment. Many are of the opinion that orchestration is a matter of personal taste and has no moral impact. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Chord structure, styles, and instruments communicate even more readily than words. Next time you watch a “tear-jerker” movie, pay attention to the music. You’ll typically hear sweeping high strings if it’s for a happy cry, or some kind of slow arrangement of a solo instrument if it’s for a sad cry. (My wife tells me there are different kinds of crying to go with stories.) Replace that with the music used for, say, Monday night football, and the scene would be ruined. The music alone without any lyrics communicates very effectively. Scary music tells us to be scared. Happy music tells us to feel happy. Majestic music causes us to feel anticipation or inspiration. Would it not follow then that sensual music would also have its effect on our bodies? I’ll guess we all instinctively know what music goes with sensuality. Let’s see… military marching band? Nope. Piccolo solo? Doubtful. Saxophone solo? Sometimes. Pulsating kick drum with a saxophone? Now THAT makes it easy to envision a bar. Since music is a powerful vehicle of communication, don’t expect to instill a longing for holiness when the words say, “God is holy,” and the score says, “Move your body.” Music ministers, and soloists have extra responsibility in this area, since they usually select the music the congregation will hear during services.

There’s an old saying that says, “If it looks like a duck and sounds like duck and acts like a duck, then it’s a duck.” The worst thing we can do in our churches is make ourselves look, sound, and act more like the lost world around us. CNN reported in December that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Islam is a religion that, by and large, requires liturgy, deep sacrifice, and conformation from its followers. I think it is logical to conclude that lost people are not looking for what they already have. If we simply communicate God’s truth consistently, our message will reach more people. May our musical communication be an example and reflection of God!

– Jeff Apthorp, Information Systems Manager, Bible Broadcasting Network

The Definition of Worship


Years ago, I read a definition of worship that to this day rings with clear and magnificent terms.(1) The definition comes from the famed archbishop William Temple:

“Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of the conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose—all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.”

The more I have thought of that definition, the more I am convinced that if worship is practiced with integrity in the community of God’s people, potentially, worship may be the most powerful evangel for this postmodern culture of ours. It is imperative in planning the worship services that church leaders give careful attention to every element and make sure that the worship retains both integrity and purpose. People come to church generally “beaten down” by the world of deceit, distraction, and demand. There is an extraction of emotional and spiritual energy that brings them on “empty” into the community. The church’s task is to so prepare during the week that it is collectively the instrument of replenishment and fresh energy of soul. Even being in the presence of fellow believers in worship is a restorer of spiritual hope. We so underestimate the power of a people in one mind and with one commitment. Even a prayer can so touch a hungry heart that it can rescue a sliding foot in a treacherous time.

A few years ago, two or three of my colleagues and I were in a country dominated for decades by Marxism. Before we began our meetings, we were invited to a dinner hosted by some common friends, all of whom were skeptics and, for all practical purposes, atheists. The evening was full of questions, posed principally by a notable theoretical physicist in the country. There were also others who represented different elements of power within that society. As the night wore on, we got the feeling that the questions had gone on long enough and that we were possibly going in circles.

At that point, I asked if we could have a word of prayer with them, for them, and for the country before we bade them good-bye. There was a silence of consternation, an obvious hesitancy, and then one said, “Of course.” We did just that—we prayed. In this large dining room of historic import to them, with all the memories of secular power plastered within those walls, the prayer brought a sobering silence that we were all in the presence of someone greater than us. When we finished, every eye was moist and nothing was said. They hugged us and thanked us, with emotion written all over their faces. The next day when we met them, one of them said to me, “We did not go back to our rooms last night till it was early morning. In fact, I stayed in my hotel lobby most of the night talking further. Then I went back to my room and gave my life to Jesus Christ.”

I firmly believe that it was the prayer that gave them a hint of the taste of what worship is all about. Their hearts had never experienced it.

Over the years I have discovered that praying with people can sometimes do more for them than preaching to them. Prayer draws the heart away from one’s own dependence to leaning on the sovereign God. The burden is often lifted instantly. Prayer is only one aspect of worship, but one that is greatly neglected in the face of people who would be shocked to hear what prayer sounds like when the one praying knows how to touch the heart of God. To a person in need, pat answers don’t change the mind; prayer does.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.(1) Adapted from Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend (Thomas Nelson, 2007), ed. by Ravi Zacharias.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: