Encouraging a higher standard for Christian music

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Godly Music

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Here is another excellent article on Christian music written by Bob Jennings:

click link for PDF of this article: by Bob Jennings on 2013-01-12

Music is big in our world, both sacred and secular. It is big in importance; it is big in industry. We have a very musical world.

Music is a marvel often taken for granted. Cows can’t make music. Frogs and birds come closer. But man is musical.

Angels are musical, as it is written,

  • Job 38:7 The morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.

In Duncan Campbell’s account of the 1949 Hebrides Revival in the north of Scotland, there were two angelic visitations – singing. And the devil, the top angel, is musical, as it is written,

  • Isa 14:11 (NAS) Your pomp and the music of your harps have been brought down to Sheol, and,
  • Eze28:13 (KJV), Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God … the workmanship of thy tamborines and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

The Lord Jesus is musical, as it is written,

  • Heb 2:12 in the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise, and
  • Mat 26:30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

God Himself is musical, as it is written,

  • Zep 3:17 He will joy over you with singing.

He is the origin of music. There would be no music if not for the Creator. It is a marvelous gift.

But not all music is good. We should not be surprised, for, if angels can inspire doctrines (1Tim 4:1), surely they can inspire music. The devil takes what is good from God, and corrupts it. So, what makes good music?

I –Words are a very important element in good music

Words are important in God’s economy. One of the names of the Son of God is “the Word.” God has given us a book filled with words. God has chosen preaching, and what is it but words?

Understandability

If musicians could only understand that their words must be understood. It is rare to hear a soloist that can be understood. Most music on the radio, whether secular or sacred, cannot be easily understood. I’ve been to concerts where I could not understand 90% of the singing or preaching. It is barbarianism, as it is written,

  • 1Cor 14:11 If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me.

The point of music is not that you have music and you want to adorn it with words, but rather that you have a message and want to adorn it with music. If the musician can’t get his message across by turning the music down or voice up, then how will the church be edified? How will another say “amen”, as it is written,

  • 1Cor 14:16 … how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying?

Blurriness in speech is likely a mark of the spiritual condition of the nation. Mushy theology produces mushy speech, and much of our music is slurry, wimpy, and whiny rather than bright, cheerful, bold, and straight-forward. But it is not humble to mumble. Rather clarity is a service to the listener.

Content

The content of the words makes for good music. Often Christian music is experience-centered, man-centered, and self-centered – ‘give me, give me’. The content is inferior, lacking sublimity, magnificence, glory, weight, beauty, skill, and theology. The word of Christ is not “rich” in many songs, as it is written,

  • Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly … singing.

What makes good music? Words. Words that are understandable, and words that are rich in truth.

II –The music itself, the tune can make for good music

Is there such a thing as a good tune? That is, apart from the words, apart from the listener’s connotative associations and memories, apart from the musician’s spiritual state, can a given tune be good or bad?

First, let’s forget the good or bad aspect and try to demonstrate that music can communicate, that is, it can give off a message. The Lord Jesus teaches this in

  • Mat 11:17 We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.

A given tune was expected to produce a certain effect.

There are three elements that determine the quality of a piece of music – the notes, the rhythm, and the volume.

Notes

Granted individual notes are neutral. Like bullets, notes are neutral in themselves; it is only a matter of what is done with them. Or, like letters of the alphabet, they are neutral; it is only a matter of how they are put together. Play the chord CEG on the piano. Now move one finger and play CEF. It is quite a different effect, a different mood. The first is resolution and rest. The second is tension. The first is pleasant and the second is discord. You don’t need to know a thing about music to feel that. There is an inherent message in the sound. An ambulance siren does not need an interpreter. When watching a movie, it is easy to tell by the music that danger is approaching before ever it is seen on the screen. The point? Music by itself communicates by way of the notation.

Rhythm

The beat, that is, how long notes are played makes music speak. Take two hymns, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, and, My Faith Has Found a Resting Place. They are similar in content, but due to the different rhythms, one is lively, and even lends itself to clapping, whereas the second calls for resignation. The composer uses staccato for a reason. Even accent in our speech gives out a message. One might say, “I can tell by the way you said that, you are angry.” Tribal musicians work warriors into a murderous frenzy with drums alone. The drums of a marching band can make the hair stand up on the back of your head with a sense of foreboding power and aggression. Someone observed, beat is needed, but, like heart beat, too much means trouble.

Volume

How loudly notes are played makes music speak. Composers put crescendos in there for a reason. Seventy-six blaring trombones give off quite a different effect than just one playing the same thing softly. Contrast the delicacy of an instrumental quartet with the swelling tide of a philharmonic orchestra or the scream of a rock band. Musicians know volume communicates and they use that plaintive softness or threatening loudness.

A Powerful Medium

Musicians know music is a powerful medium and intend to communicate by music. You would insult a musician if you told him after the concert that his music did not move you. Dr. Max Schoen in his Psychology of Music says,

“Music is the most powerful stimulus known among the perceptive senses.”

Saxophonist Clarence Clemons summed up his new instrumental CD, Peacemaker, this way, “I said what I wanted to say.” Instrumental! The high school pep band expects (obvious by the name) to give off a different message than the chamber band at baccalaureate. The US military used music to drive Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega out of his stronghold. Advertising companies spend big money researching the effects of music. A tune can make words stick in the mind for days. What was so great about the Beatles’ I Wanna Hold Your Hand? It was not the words. Texas barrelhouse piano player Robert Shaw boasted he could throw his hands on the keyboard and make the audience move the way he wanted. In 1913 Igor Stravinsky produced a classical instrumental, The Rite of Spring, specifically to create chaos. At the first concert a mass riot occurred and the theater seats were torn up. My wife and I both witnessed our oldest two children each at age two go into the appropriate dance when a piece of music came on the radio. They could not have learned the dance; moreover they had never seen it.

Jimi Hendrix said,

“Atmospheres are going to come through music, because music is a spiritual thing of its own.”

He boasted he could hypnotize people with music. Another rock star says, “Don’t listen to the words; it’s the music that has its own message … I’ve been stoned on the music many times.”
The preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,

“We can become drunk on music. There’s no question about that. It can create emotional state in which the mind no longer functions as it should be and no longer discriminates. I have known people to sing themselves into a state of intoxication without realizing what they were doing.”

The medical, psychological and other evidence for the non-neutrality of music is so overwhelming, that it is amazing that anyone would seriously say otherwise. Music is never neutral. Words say more, but in varying degrees it will speak.

If music then does give off a message, it easily follows that a given piece of music can be good or bad. That is, music can indeed communicate a message that fits Christianity or does not. It can minister an attitude, stir a mood, create an atmosphere, and make an effect that will express a worldview – either Christian or not. Just as words can rightly or wrongly represent Christianity, so also does music.

Underlying Principles for Discerning

How can we judge music? Here are some Biblical guidelines, some underlying principles that can be applied.

Is the music proper; is it fitting? Certain things are fitting among the saints. Some things are appropriate; some are not.

  • Eph 5:3 as is proper (fitting) among saints.
  • Php 1:27 conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Just as a suit and tie is not fitting for digging ditches, so we should analyze what conduct is fitting for saints (holy ones). Does this piece of music fit a Christian worldview? One Christian artist says, “Here’s a sound your parents will hate.

Is the music peaceful and restful?

  • 1Cor 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.

Lively music is fine, but screaming, harsh, driving, pounding music is another thing.
Dave Roberts, a columnist for the CCM magazine Buzz says,

“Heavy rock is body music designed to by-pass the brain and with unrelenting brutality induce a frenzied state among the audience.”

Is the music humble?

  • Mat 11:28 I am meek and lowly of heart.

Does the music minister submission to the King of kings or does it speak aggression and rebellion? Does it call for surrender to the Majesty on high or is it pushy, daring, and lawless? Does it make you feel like a tough-guy? It is unseemly to have a singer snarl out a commitment to Christ.

Is the music melodious?

  • Eph 5:18 singing and making melody in your hearts.

Is the music melodious, bright, cheerful, hopeful, and bold, or is it wimpy, whiny, slurry, and lacking resolution after tension? David made sweet music (2Sam 23:1). The music of heaven is sweet, like harps (Rev 14:2). The harsh, strident, distorted, nasty music does not fit Christianity. Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones says, “It’s a noise we make. That’s all. You could be kind and call it music.”

Is music ordered?

1Cor 14:40 all things be done decently and in order.

Is the music ordered or is it chaotic? Some is so unordered that it does not make for congregational singing. It does not fit among the saints.

Is the music sensual or is it spiritual?

  • James 3:15 this wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

Does the music tempt me to move my body in sensual way or does it remind me I am not a debtor to the flesh, to live after the flesh (Rom 8:12)?

Is there such a thing as a sensual song? We could cite many men of God who would affirm it, but maybe they are biased, old-fashioned, and narrow-minded. If we won’t receive the counsel of godly, then listen to the ungodly. What do the rock stars themselves say?

  • Sex and Rock go together like wheels on a car.
  • Rock music is sex and you have to hit teens in the face with it.
  • The purpose of rhythm is to get into an orgiastic state of losing yourself.

And their bold testimonies continue …

  • Rock has always been the devil’s music and you can’t convince me that it isn’t.
  • Rock and Roll doesn’t glorify God. I was one of the pioneers of that music, one of the builders. I know what the blocks are made of because I built them.
  • Rock is the perfect primal method of releasing our violent instincts. He calls his music Combat Rock and speaks of raping his audience.
  • We communicate aggression and frustration to an audience, musically and visually.
  • Rock and Roll brings out violent emotions.
  • I am sorry that I was involved in the beginnings of Rock and Roll. It has helped to destroy untold millions of young people the world over.
  • If I told you what our music is really about, we’d probably all get arrested.
  • When performing I don’t know who I am. If someone walked on the stage I’d probably kill. We wanted to blow their minds with our music.


III –The Musicians Themselves Should be Considered

Ironically and admittedly good people can make bad music and conversely, bad people can make good music. But God is nevertheless concerned about who is carrying the ark (2Sam 6:3f). He does not need a demonized girl to preach even if she is preaching truth (Acts 16:16).

The Bible is replete with warnings against false leaders, hypocrites: Mat 7, Acts 20, Rom 16, Gal 1, Eph 4, Php 3, 2Cor 11, 1Tim 4, 2Tim 3, 2Pet 2, 1Jn 4, and Jude. False leaders are many, as it is written,

  • 2Cor 2:17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.

We are to beware of evil workers (Php 3:2). We don’t want to endorse an unregenerate piper, pastor, music leader, or piano player.

False ministers are peddlers of the word.

  • 2Cor 2:17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.

They are merchandisers, concert-hopping, money-loving, fame-promoting, compromising entertainers. It is a modern manifestation of the sins of Jeroboam (1Kg 12:30, 14:16) – do anything to get the people. They are crowd manipulators, skilled at working the crowd up into a high –high places that should be torn down.

  • 2Chr 15:17 the high places were not taken away.

The world does it better. Let them do it. Was the past not enough for us?

They are not sincere, but are show-offs.

  • 2Cor 2:17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.

They are not worship leaders but performers, pretending some sensual ecstasy with their eyes closed, breathing out their breathy lyrics with the mic at their mouth. Are they servants or stars? Are they gathering followers for Christ or fans for themselves? As someone observed, they are not saying, “Behold the Lamb”, but they are saying, “Behold me saying, ‘Behold the Lamb.’” Some admit they intend to entertain. Some get the girls to scream at them. It is a fair show in the flesh. It is strange fire (Lev 10:1). And there is this continual attempt to say it ‘cool’, to be a ‘character’, to be cute, clever, and even goofy. But buffoonery and cleverness nullify the cross, as it is written,

  • 1Cor 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.

One band, speaking of the resurrection of Christ, says, “You can’t keep a good man down.” It is cheap blasphemy. What happened to simple sobriety and sincerity? How different these men are from the gravity characterizing men of God. How different from the fearful atmosphere of the great revivals when God was present in a manifest way? How different from Paul the apostle, as it is written,

  • 1Cor 2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
  • Acts 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Paul’s ministry was in the sight of God.

  • 2Cor 2:17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.

He was God-centered, God-fearing. They are afraid to be different from the world and are ashamed of Christ. One Christian artist mentions the name of the Lord Jesus once in nine songs. Some musicians are so vague that it is not possible to distinguish if they are singing about some lover or about Christ. No wonder they are sponsored by beer companies.

Now, it must be admitted that there are gray areas in music. It is an art, not a hard science like math, though God has more math in it than most realize. Each song must be analyzed. And, as we go on in the Christian walk, our tastes and choices are purified. We grow. This is the way of grace. There is much to learn.

  • Psa 119:7 I will give thanks to You with uprightness of heart when I learn Your righteous judgments.
  • Php 1:9, 10 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.

Again, behold the power of good music. When Paul and Silas sang, the earth shook and the jail rattled (Acts 16). When Jehoshaphat went out to battle, he put the singers in front of the army and God set up ambushments (2Chr 20:22). David’s harp drove off evil spirits (1Sam 16:23). When Elisha called for the minstrel, it invoked the hand of God and a spirit of prophecy (2Kg 3:15). Good music pleases God, as it is written,

  • Psa 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song … it shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that has horns and hoofs.
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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

~ Chapter 3 ~ 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 H R E E

MUSIC AND RELIGION THROUGH THE AGES

“As soon as they went out from the Presence of the Lord, they started building cities, they started making instruments, they started in science – making brass and iron, and they started playing music. Where did it come from? Who went out? Cain, the serpent’s seed. “9

Within man there exists an inherent impulse to worship. God even provisioned our physical beings with an instrument through which we can declare our devotion – the human voice. When we choose to vary  the  melody  and rhythm of our vocal sounds, the result is music, and nothing characterizes the very essence of worship like the unornamented songs of man.

The Bible gives us very few written clues concerning the first music  produced by man, but our oldest existent vocal traditions, such as that of the Jewish cantor, the Moslem muezzin calling the faithful to prayer, or even the chanting of the North American Indian, indicate that mankind’s first musical expressions were likely a part of his religious experience. As man’s musical skills developed, he began to fashion instruments from what he found in nature – bones, horns, willow bark, animal skin and gut – and he adapted these materials to suit his personal needs. Jubal, the great-great-great-great grandson of Cain, was “the father of all such as handle the harp and organ, ” (instrumental music) Genesis 4:21, reflecting the love of beauty and the arts, which was his birthright.

In time, as men developed their artistic abilities, music began to take on many forms and serve many functions, both sacred and profane. From generation to generation, musical expression played such a vital part in cultural development that the religious morals and social values of a given community reflected in the quality of the music that they produced.

Most music produced by the people of the Bible never developed beyond simple homogeneous songs and chants with basic accompaniment of harps, trumpets, and cymbals. Much of the Hebrew music was consecrated to the service of the Temple worship, but throughout the Scriptures there are numerous accounts of secular use also: songs of triumph after victory, songs at marriage celebrations and festivals, songs for shepherds and for kings.

In the great temples of ancient Egypt, the priests trained choirs in the singing of ritual music to pagan gods. Their songs were complemented by the clapping together of sticks and disks.

At the same time, in other parts of the world, more primitive societies evoked their deities in a wild abandon of religious fervor and emotional ecstasy, accompanied by the pounding of syncopated rhythms on a hollow log.

Music has always left behind evidence of its effect upon a given society. One can even trace the rise and fall of civilizations by making a parallel study of the types of music listened to during the corresponding era.10 Four hundred years before the birth of Christ, the Greek philosopher Plato said, “When modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the state change with them. Through foolishness they deceived themselves into thinking that there was no right or wrong in music, that it was to be judged good or bad by the pleasure it gave.”

At the time of Christ, both vocal and instrumental music were flourishing. Jesus and His followers participated in the traditional Jewish synagogue music, and undoubtedly this directly influenced early Christian songs. The ornamented cantonal melodies were adapted to the new teachings of Christ and absorbed into the fledgling Christian faith. It was common practice for a cantor to serve a synagogue on Friday evening and then place his skills at the disposal of the Christians on Sunday.11

Instrumental music played no part in the life of the early Christian church. Instruments had too many associations with the debauched life of Rome, and only the voice was considered to have the purity and nobility worthy of God’s ear. Cantorial chant evolved gradually into a slow-moving, unison singing called plainsong (later known as Gregorian chant), which dominated Christian worship for a thousand years. During the  Middle Ages, there was an attempt by the church-world to gain widespread control of music by deeming certain chords to be un-harmonious and therefore blasphemous and unworthy to reflect the glory of God. The church denounced all music that was unsanctified by a sacred text.

In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the church at Wittenberg (accusing the Roman Catholic church of corruption) and the Reformation was born. Luther, an accomplished musician, threw out much of the old church music and wrote new hymns, bringing the language of the people (rather than Latin) into use for sacred songs. He declared, “ Nothing on earth is more powerful than noble music in making the sad joyful, the arrogant discreet, the despondent valiant; in charming the haughty to humility, and in mitigating envy and hatred.” Luther believed that music in the church served as a resounding sermon,12 and he is accredited with saying that he didn’t care who preached, as long as he wrote the song. By acknowledging the staying power of music in the worship experience, Luther single-handedly established congregational singing as an important part of the Christian church service. Elements of harmony, which had been reserved previously for highly trained musicians of the church, were now being mastered and sung by the common people. Music and religious worship became bonded into one, inseparable experience. It seemed that the fellowship of a common faith could be expressed through song far more effectively than through a formalized cannon, dogma, or ritual of the church.

In secular use, music was becoming a melting pot of sounds. The clash of cultures, which had been launched by the Crusades in 1096, brought many different musical traditions together, and increasingly these new harmonies and rhythms found their way into the music of Europe. Near the end of the sixteenth century, new printing methods and a newly developed system of musical notation made possible the duplication of every kind of music and placed it on the open market. It was the dawning of a new day for both the composer and the performer. Music was on its way to becoming a universal language.

With the passing of the centuries, there was also a darker, more sinister form of music finding expression and establishing its place within the musical brotherhood of mankind. This music involved a complex primitive theology embracing fetishes, totems, and magic. It was born in the sacrificial incantations to a river god, nurtured by the unimaginable horrors of slavery, and released upon the New World to wage war with the God of Christianity. It was called  ‘voodoo,’ and its throbbing beat prophesied of the evil fruit it would yield.

By the early 1600s, the Western colonization of other lands was a growing concern. Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the New World and Africa were already well established, and an armada of ships operated by slave traders plied the waters from Western Europe to the coast of Africa. After picking up their human cargo, they would continue their voyage across the southern Atlantic to Brazil, Central America, the West Indies, and the New World. And wherever they were sent, the slaves took their music with them – an agonized inspiration that would become the cornerstone for virtually every American musical expression to follow.13

By the time the New World was being recognized as a blossoming mission field by the various progeny of Luther’s reformation movement, the rhythm and melody of Africa had already joined with the harmonies of European music, which the church had so carefully nurtured, and a powerful new musical form was born.

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 – discerningMusic editor]

~ 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]

~Introduction ~ Music – The Sound and the Unsound

The next 10 or 11 posts will be 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, Kutless, NewSong, Sidewalk prophets , The David Crowder band, Casting Crowns, Jeremy 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

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

Music

THE SOUND

AND THE

UNSOUND

INTRODUCTION

“I don’t care how good of a home a child has been brought up in, and how it’s been taught to do right; if that child hasn’t accepted the experience of the New Birth, rock and roll music catches his attention just as quick as he hears it. Because in him – born in him by nature – is a carnal spirit.  And the power of the Devil is so great today that it catches the spirit of that little one.”1

Americans are addicted to music. It is an addiction that last year1990 alone, cost us seven billion dollars2 and helped make music the most prosperous industry on earth.

However, we are not without company. The whole world has tuned in with us to become a part of the greatest social phenomena in all of history:  Rock-n-roll music.

Rock is now a generation old, and that in itself is nothing short of a miracle for something that was dismissed by the previous generation as being a flash-in-the-pan, in one-ear-and-out-the-other, teenage craze. Even though we live in an era of blinding changes, rock has been able to assimilate, integrate and even mutate its way through nearly five decades to become something that is much more than music in the ear of the rock-believer. Resurrecting the deep-seated spiritual attributes of its ancient forbearers, rock has now achieved the elevated status of deification. In every sense, it has become a religion, complete with a full contingent of its own high priests and false prophets.

It sounds incredible, doesn’t it?  But, have you ever stopped to ask yourself just what it is that makes rock different from other music?  Why is it so powerful?  What is its source, and where is it leading us?  Unfortunately, most people never stop to analyze the multitude of sounds that bombard them daily, and that could prove to be fatal. Of course, it doesn’t happen overnight. The story goes that if you throw a live frog in a pan of boiling water, he will jump out so fast that he won’t even be scalded. But take the same frog and put him in a pan of lukewarm water, then gradually bring the water to a boil. The frog will allow himself to be slowly cooked to death.

Could it be that we Christians are being slowly conditioned to accept the compelling, pervasive, permissive attitudes around us without our even knowing it? As Message believers, how vulnerable are we to these attitudes?

These are questions that must be answered today, and that is what this article is all about. Be warned:  This is not going to be easy reading, and you cannot breeze through it quickly. But when you are finished you will know how to test the temperature of the water you are sitting in right now. I challenge you to check it out for yourself – before it’s too late.

Cross-Centered Worship

My friends over at Not For Itching Ears have some very interesting posts and discussions about worship in the church today. Below is an excerpt from one recent article. I am curious to know your thoughts about the linked song. It speaks in its simplicity. We could take example from it! – DM

We have noticed a disturbing trend in the corporate worship songs of the church.  Perhaps you have too? It seems that we sing very little about the main point of Christianity. This is largely because the church wants to be more “sensitive” to those who are not Christians. With the best research in hand, we are told that non-Christians don’t really want to hear about sin and guilt and being accountable to a holy God. They also don’t want to hear about a Savior dying on a bloody cross for their sins.   To reach them, we are confidently told, we must eliminate these topics from our sermons and our songs.  Sadly, much of the Evangelical church has mistakenly signed on to this approach.

We could not disagree more strongly!  The message of a crucified and risen Savior and the reconciliation that this can bring is the only message the church has!  It is the one and only message the church has been entrusted with and that the lost so desperately needs to hear.

As one who has been responsible for leading corporate singing for years, I can attest to how frustrating it has become to find songs that are worth singing!  There are many out there, but it takes time to find them.  Today, we are starting a new feature at Not For Itching Ears.  Each week, we will post one worthy (at least in our opinion) worship song for you to listen to.  We will post the lyrics as well as the Mp3 along with a chord chart when possible.

We will start off with a song I discovered a few years ago.  It is called “The Gospel Song”, written by Drew Jones and Bob Kauflin of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  It is one of the simplest, most concise wording of the gospel in song form that I know of.  Let us know if you like it by taking the poll or leaving a comment.

 

The Gospel Song

Holy God, in love became
Perfect man to bear my blame
On the cross He took my sin
By His death I live again

The Gospel Song

Click to Listen

Or you may listen to the entire song by clicking: here

You can find a free guitar chord chart by following this link to Sovereign Grace Ministries.

 

 

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

 

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