Please listen to the music player on the right hand column or search through the resources and links.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The value of hymns and what they teach the Christian.

One of the many benefits of children growing up with a hymnal and singing from it, is that it allows to continue Christian education. In addition to reading from Gods word, doctrine filled hymns instill biblical truth in a way that makes it easier to remember.  Words are always easier to remember when set to music, and if those words are biblical doctrines and scripture, a lot of the bible could be memorized.  Bible truth forms the Christian's world view, thoughts, and actions.  Bible truth that is set to music, God-honoring music, forms a good portion of the life of the Christian.

Creating a Visible Identity

From our modern vantage point, perhaps, some see hymnals as outdated accessories of a worship service, but the doctrine filled hymns of the faith serve a larger purpose. These hymns are a great way for congregants to apply a sermon, a way for families to instruct their children, the start to appreciating great poetry, and the way that individuals become the worshiping people of God.  Hymns help to bind the people of God together and hymns in worship nurture a biblical unity in truth.  Author Christopher N. Phillips in his book "The hymnal: A reading history" traces the history of this sacred genre and its use in three sacred spaces: the church, school, and home.   It is not simply the content of hymns sung, read, or memorized that informs our thinking and spiritual appetites, but the hymns themselves—and how they’re read and sung,—shape us. To put it quite simply, we are formed, not only by what we read but by how we regard what we read and what we hear.  We must consider what Christianity has lost by neglecting the timeless and doctrine filled hymns, and the music of that sacred genre.  But what is our experience of worship? Are we being formed into the family of God with the Bible on our phones and words on the screen in most evangelical churches, are we being molded into the church by the feelings and emotionalism created by worship teams singing the Christian top 40?  Perhaps it's that way because it is too easy to be a group of loosely networked individuals, where devotional practices and worship are experienced in such an individualized manner, that what the Bible says is taboo?

The Furniture of Worshipping Christians

Hymnbooks were so well-worn prior to 1820 that many haven’t survived—they were touched, held close, and their covers, spines, and bindings show what Phillips, quoting another scholar, calls “hand piety.” The hand piety we exhibit most often today manifests in sore pinkies from holding our phones and hunched backs from staring at screens. It might seem easy to harken back to a “golden age” of hymnals or pews only on special occasion, instead, believers today should begin to consider the larger questions about how the truths found in hymns inform us. After all, there is form and content, both in the music and in the lyrics that teaches a message when properly married to the other. 
I wonder if such a concept to have furniture, so to speak, to disciple Christians into worshipping Christians would be so welcomed into churches today?  Would the reciting of scripturally specific prayers, like the apostle Paul, or returning to doctrine-filled hymns, and responsive readings grow repetitive and monotone? Or would they create a texture and tapestry to faith that grew in resonance the more we returned to them? How would the weekly flipping of pages, with a “small brick of a book” (Phillips) nestled in one’s palm, inform my spiritual practices? Would faith become more solid and more assured with timeless, perhaps more scriptural, practices? These practices may have been the “furniture of worshipping Christians” a century or two ago, but perhaps today, what we have lost can once again become what can be gained by trading out our new furniture and "hand piety" for the old "hand piety" of ages past.

Monday, July 2, 2018

What worship music is not

As this blog's title states, this blog will be about worship music.  To be clear, the bible does not use "worship" and "music" interchangeably, or even in the same verse together.  Music is not worship and worship is not music, but that concept has been ignored so much that, it seems to be lost. This is mainly due to all the Christian bands that promote their music as necessary in worship and therefore convincing the Christian that worship does not take place without their music, or any music. The Bible, of course, mentions both worship and music, but never together in the same verse.  Why?  Well, worship and music are 2 different acts.  In today's church culture however, music has been made so prevalent in worship services, that it seems that some churches exalt music more than the preaching of God's word.  So, for those that see using music as their worship, let's look at 5 things that worship music is not.

It is not music theory

The purpose of our worship is nott to teach musicianship or make great music. Learning to sing parts, follow a melodic line and internalize rhythms are all skills that can enhance our worship. But those skills are a means to the end, not the end.  The theoretical study of the elements of music including sound, pitch, rhythm, melody, harmony, time and notation can enrich our worship, but understanding those elements isn’t necessary for worship to occur. So worship service music that focuses on theory alone without moving to the application may be great music, but not worship.

It is not necessary

The sole emphasis on music as our only worship offering may have actually hindered our worship understanding and exacerbated our worship conflicts. Music and worship are not exclusively synonymous. One is mandatory, the other is not.  Music is an artistic expression given to us so that we might offer it as a gift to God. But it is not THE expression. So considering the examples of worship in the Bible or concentrating more on the Lord's table, or fellowship, or other practical ways to express worship could alleviate the pressure on music to serve as the primary driver of worship.

It is not a substitute

Biblical text must be the foundation from which our songs spring forth. Prayer is not just a song connector; it is a divine conversation that gives us a reason to sing in the first place. And two relationships we try to create with our singing are available at the Table: the vertical communion with Christ and the horizontal fellowship with each other.  So music is an addition to, not a substitute for these relationship moments.

It is not an inviter

He has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light that we may declare His praises (1 Peter 2:9). If God is calling and we are declaring, then the invitation to show up is from Him not us. Our music can acknowledge His presence but it can’t generate it. It can respond to His presence but it can’t initiate it. It can celebrate His presence but it can’t create it.

It is not a starter or stopper

If our worship starts when we sing the first song and stops when we sing the last one, then what are we doing the rest of the week? Loving God with heart, soul, mind and strength and also loving our neighbors as we love ourselves means worship must be continuous. The Greek translation of John 4:24 strongly indicates that the Christian must continually worship in Spirit and in Truth.  Worship can not be contained in singing, a single location, context, culture, style, artistic expression or any vehicle of communication, so it doesn’t matter how good we think our worship is when we gather, it is incomplete until it continues when we scatter.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

More than a blog.

Did you know I have another blog and a facebook page for my book?

Please feel free to check out my bible study blog, and follow my book's facebook page.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

1 Samuel 16: 14-23

I came across this article and thought id share it here.  The MUSIC, apart from lyrics, matters greatly.  This 2 part blog post and analysis of 1 Samuel is very well written and Biblically accurate.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Angels worshipped God INTELLIGENTLY and ACCEPTABLY...

...and so should we.

This material is borrowed from messages given at the worship services of Salem Bible Church on January 24, 1999 by Pastor James Delaney

Notice also in Revelation 5:8, these angels joined in the song of redemption. They had to learn redemption by watching the church and observing God’s plan unfolding. Notice as they sang their, doctrine was pure. They sang about redemption. They learned these truths, but they learned them accurately. They worshipped the Son of God intelligently. They all said Amen to the great song of redemption. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 14:15, that if we are going to pray, we should pray with the understanding. Do not just babble on. Do not just recite little clichés that we have heard. Pray with the understanding. Paul says if we are going to sing, sing with the understanding. If we are going to worship God it has to be with the understanding. The Lord Jesus told us that He loves worshippers. He seeks worshippers. He seeks men and women and children that will worship Him in spirit, with great enthusiasm and excitement over God and in truth – those whose worship lines up with the Word of God. I suppose it is possible to go off on a tangent and have our worship become doctrinally sound, but nothing more than cold, dead orthodoxy. It is also possible to have our worship go into another direction and to be all human emotion and enthusiasm and no doctrine. The Lord Jesus said, here is how I want to be worshipped, "in spirit and in truth" (Jn. 4:24). There has to be both: a heart that is, on the one hand, on fire for God and enthusiastic for the things of God, and also on the other hand, a heart that is controlled by the Holy Spirit and bound by the Word of God. When that takes place, God is delighted with our worship.

As one reads through the Scriptures, it becomes obvious that it is possible to worship God and yet have Him be displeased with our worship. It is possible to worship God unacceptably. (Gen.4:3-4) It is possible to worship God ignorantly. (Acts 17:22-23) It is possible to worship God in vain. (Matt.15:9) It is possible to worship God and in fact, nauseate Him! (Isa.1:11-15) It is possible to worship God and actually anger God! Uzziah was smitten with leprosy for attempting to offer a sacrifice to God (II Chron.26:16-20) Nadab & Abihu were burned with fire for offering strange fire (Lev.10:1-2) It is possible to worship God and actually be despising God! (Mal.1:6-10) It is possible to worship God hypocritically. (Matt.15:7-8) It is possible to worship God half-heartedly. (Jer.3:10) It is possible to worship God contrary to His Word. (Lev.10:1-2) It is possible to worship God & be weary of it. (Mal.1:13)

What God wants is worship from the heart. Worship is a very simple thing. It comes from a heart that is in tune with God, a heart that loves God, a heart that is in harmony with God and His Word, and a heart that is bowed down before Him in reverence and humility. It is something I cannot give to you. The choir is not going to make you excited about God. This is the individual responsibility of each and every one of us. I am responsible for my heart. I am responsible to stir up my heart every single day in the things of God so that I do not get drawn away by the things of the world. That is the responsibility of all of us. We need to be provoking one another and encouraging one another. The whole world is designed to drag us away from heavenly, spiritual things. But when our hearts are right, God delights in our worship. Is not that exciting? The Creator of the universe can be pleased by a little hunk of clay and dust like me and you! And He delights in it. And there is nothing more thrilling than knowing God and worshipping Him - HIS WAY.

Angels worshipped God in Unity...

...and so should we.

This material is borrowed from messages given at the worship services of Salem Bible Church on January 24, 1999 by Pastor James Delaney

Another thing about angels’ worship can be seen in Revelation 5:11. "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands." That is a lot of angels! But, they praised God with one voice. Voice is in the singular. What we see here is that angelic praise and worship is in unison. They praise God in harmony. There was no chaos. There was no disorder there. When they praised the Lord, it was with one voice, one united voice. "Worthy is the Lamb," and it was the same song on every single heart of each one of those angels. They were in perfect agreement that the Son was worthy to be praised. That is what worship ought to be about here too. When the angels worshipped God there was no rivalry among them. There were no feuds. There was no strife. There was no politicking for position. There was perfect unity, perfect harmony. They praised God with one voice. There was no room for discord in Heaven. As we gather together to worship, we need to leave all the baggage that does not belong here, outside. We need to come here as like-minded believers to worship God with one united voice. "Worthy is the Lamb!"

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Angels Worship with Enthusiasm...

...and so should we

This material is borrowed from messages given at the worship services of Salem Bible Church on January 24, 1999 by Pastor James Delaney

Another way the angels praise the Lord was with great enthusiasm. In Revelation 5:12, notice that the angel, in Heaven, (this is good worship – worship that is pleasing to the Lord) were saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb." They did not mumble. They were not falling asleep. They were excited… thrilled! What we see here are angels around the throne of God with great enthusiasm for God, and no one else – just God. Being right there in His presence thrilled them and it caused them to have zeal and enthusiasm in their worship. You know, when we sing, it is right for us to be enthusiastic. It is right for us to have some zeal and life and emotion and feeling as we sing these songs. How can we possibly mumble the words, "How great Thou art?" We noted earlier, when the angels of God were watching God create the universe (in Job 38) it says they shouted loudly. They shouted out for joy. Read Psalm 150 sometime. It is a great psalm of praise where they praised God with a loud voice. They praised Him with sounding cymbals. They praised Him with great enthusiasm. The whole psalm is about zeal and excitement for God. That is basically the main gist of that psalm. That is the way the book of Psalms ends, on a loud and wonderful note of praise and worship for the Lord. Enthusiasm – it is not something the church leaders are responsible to orchestrate. Enthusiasm for God has to come from the heart. It is not something that we can whip up. It is not something that we can manufacture. It is not created by choreographers. It has to be found in our hearts, even before we arrive at church, or it is not going to happen. The excitement and the enthusiasm we see when God is worshipped in the Scriptures, is a heart that loves God and wants to offer that love, praise, worship, and adoration to HIM. That is really what worship is all about. We come to offer unto God our praise. It is not the preacher’s responsibility to stir people up and to try to conjure up a man-made enthusiasm. A worship service is not a pep rally. It is not that we are to try to stir up excitement if it is not in the heart already. Enthusiasm for God is not going to be produced by loud amplifiers or purple microphones or swaying in the isles or by turning on strobe lights. It really does not help a bit. Those external things can create a sense of excitement, but not excitement for God.

The Bible says that it is our responsibility to enter into HIS courts with praise and worship and enthusiasm in our hearts already. Psalm 100:1-4 says, "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." Notice verse four, "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name." Notice how the psalmist tells his readers to come to worship God. When they came into the courts to worship God, they were to come with that praise in their hearts already. They were to come into the courts, the place they were to worship, already prepared for worship. They were to have a heart full of thanksgiving already when they got there. It was not something to be whipped up at the service. They were to enter into His courts with praise and worship, and thanksgiving and excitement and enthusiasm for God.

We often hear the illustration that we come to church to get our ‘batteries charged’ once a week. I do not like that illustration. If I am reading Psalm 100 right, the psalmist expected the worshipers to come with their batteries already charged up. They were expected to spend all week loving God and serving God and worshipping God, honoring Him in their day to day life. When they got together for corporate worship this was to be an exciting, thrilling time for them… the climax of a week already spent praising God!

Psalm 96:8 says, "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts." Notice again, when the worshippers came into the courts of the Lord they were to have something with them. They were to come with the offering already. They were to come prepared to offer and to worship unto God. They were not to come lifeless, with an empty heart, and with no zeal for God. They were to come there ready to worship. Keep that in mind as we look at Hebrews 13:15 which states, "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." Here we discover from the book of Hebrews that we as Christians, as we gather together to worship, we are also to bring an offering unto God. We do not bring an animal and sprinkle the blood. But we are still required, (every one of us - not just the pastor or the choir members or the song leader), to come into His courts already with an offering. Our offering, we are told here in verse 15, is a sacrifice of praise. This is what we offer to God. We come here with a heart full of thanksgiving and excitement and enthusiasm and praise. We say, God, this is for You. The worshipper is expected to bring his offering when he comes. It is not the responsibility of the church or the church leaders to make worship exciting. Worship by its very nature, (if we know Who God is), is already exciting. We can worship in a grass hut. We can worship in a cave. We can worship in a glass cathedral. The external environment does not make a bit of difference. It is God! HE is what worship is all about. And, God is exciting!!! Just think about whose presence we are coming into. We are coming before God! In a very real sense, the local Church is the habitation of God through the Spirit. (Eph. 2:22)

Now, we do not see God, but if we think, if we meditate on what we are really doing here, instead of drifting off, it is exciting to come into the habitation of God! Genuine excitement over God must be brought to the place of worship. I cannot make you excited over God. The preaching of the Word is not going to do it. Preaching is to point us in the right direction. But, if our hearts have been weaned away from the things of God all week long and we have been just feasting on the things of the world, spiritually, we are going to be "out of it" when we come here to worship. We are not coming prepared. Only YOU can do that. Only you can prepare your heart for worship. It is not the pastor’s job. It is not the choir director’s job. It is not the choir’s job to stir us up and create some kind of external excitement. They do that at political rallies. They do that at football games. But, that is not what church is all about. We are to come here all prepared to worship God. That is why we have been encouraging people since we first opened the doors here, that five minutes before the service starts, let us keep it hushed and sit down so that we can open our Bible and meditate and think about God – prepared to praise.

There really is not anything boring about true worship. I know that some Christians are bored when the rest of the Body is worshipping. But, that is not the fault of the worship style or format. That is not the fault of the Body. Bringing in a celebrity or rock band will not enhance real zeal in worship. The problem is that the heart of one member is not rightly related to the Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other reason. God is exciting. Coming into His presence is an exciting thing. David wrote, "In thy presence is fullness of joy" (Ps. 16:11). The only time worship is boring is when our heart is not right and when our focus is not on the Lord. If you want to put your focus on the preacher, it will be boring. If you want to put your focus on God, He is thrilling. There is a big difference. God’s Word is not boring. It does not mean that the message or the way it is delivered is exciting. But, the Bible truth itself is not boring. It is exciting. It is fascinating. It is thrilling and it will thrill our hearts the rest of our days, if our heart is right. As we sing these great hymns of the faith, they do not need to be spiced up with electric guitars. Some of the godliest men that have ever lived have penned the words of some of those hymns. Men who have been through great experiences with God have written out of sound doctrine and a love for God, something so much deeper than the trash and the silliness that is being promoted today. These songs, the great hymns of the faith, can excite us if we love the God we are singing about. The answer is not to bring in a big band. It is not to get Michael Jordan to come here and say a few nice things about Jesus. We do not need a nationally known speaker. We are not here to create excitement. We are not here to create hype over God the way the world does. It just is not the church or the church leader’s responsibility to try to make worship exciting. We would miss the whole point. It is all about God and nothing else. God, (if we know Him as we should), is thrilling. Real excitement, and real joy, and real enthusiasm come out of a heart that is sold out for Christ. It is a heart that is sold out and loves God. The excitement and joy in worship come from a heart that is in tune with God. If our heart is in tune with the world, if our heart is in tune with something else, then the new song of God is going to sound a little drab.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:31-33, "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." Paul is saying here that there is something that we can learn from a husband and wife relationship that is to be a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the Church. Christ loved the Church and He gave Himself for the Church. When two people love each other, what really matters is being together. It does not matter where you are. Two people that really love each other can have a thrilling time at McDonalds. You do not have to be at the Tavern on the Green, if you really love each other. "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith" (Prov. 15:17). Two people in love can have a thrilling, exciting time just being together. They do not need all kinds of gimmicks. They do not need all kinds of external trappings. They do not have to be in Disneyland. They do not need to have all kinds of loud noises around them to get them stirred up. They love each other. That love is where the excitement comes from.

When it comes to worship, Paul says, there ought to be that same kind of intensity between the Church and Christ. We do not need all these gimmicks. Christ is what worship is all about. If we love the Lord with all our heart, we can worship God in a grass hut and it is thrilling! Believers can enjoy God just as much even if they are meeting together in a cold shack in Albania, listening to a foreign missionary butcher their language and stumble through his message. But they are getting truth from God’s Word and it can excite their hearts and souls and turn them on fire for God – if their heart is right. You see it really is not the preacher. It is not the choir. It isn’t the choreography. It is not the building. It is not some famous guest speaker that comes in or pretty flowers that make a worship service heavenly. It is Christ and nothing else. If we love Him, we will love to worship Him. If our worship is boring and drab there is something wrong with our heart. Maybe it is interrupting our schedule. Maybe it is a weariness. But, worship ought to be about God. And you know God is still pretty exciting. When our hearts are flooded and filled with the things of the world, there is not much room for God there. God is not going to be as exciting, the spiritual life is not going to be as thrilling as it used to be when I first got saved. Back then, every little morsel was new and sweet and exciting. And we loved God with all our heart and were thankful to Him. Everything was just bubbling over with excitement. Now that we have been saved a while, well, maybe… has God changed? I don’t think so. "For I am the LORD, I change not" (Mal. 3:6). What did change? If God is not exciting to us any more, if the Bible does not thrill our hearts like it used to, if worship does not thrill our soul, then our hearts have changed. It is not the responsibility of the church leaders to rearrange the way we "do worship." It is the responsibility of each of us to rearrange the priorities of our hearts. Maybe our hearts need to be shaken up a little bit. Make Christ the center of our lives – then we can enter into these gates with thanksgiving, then we can enter these gates with an offering unto God. The Lord will be delighted in that kind of worship. And then even a formerly boring little church which meets in a grass hut (with no celebrities; no big bands; no gimmicks; no exciting programs) will be a thrilling place to be. Why? It is thrilling because we are in a room full of people that all love God.

It does not matter if the preacher’s sermon is thoroughly mediocre, or if the choir goes a little sour, their only job is to point men to Christ. That is all the pastor is here for. That is all that the choir is here for. That is all the song leader is here for. If we look to HIM, our heart will be excited.