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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Music, emotions, and worship

Can music (christian?) change our emotions?  Perhaps our view of God? 

Instrumental music has just as much of an effect on the listeners as does songs that have lyrics.  This can be proven with a simple and fun experiment.  The very familiar tune and very patriotic tune of the 1812 overture is always played on the 4th of July, and usually always has the same reaction, especially in children, who are most likely marching to that familiar beat towards the end. 

Instrumental music effects the emotions too.  Listening to a resounding rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" would spark patriotism in any American and should also cause feelings of nationalism and the sense of American pride.  In the same way, listening to Beethoven's 5th symphony sparks different emotions then listening to "Flight of the Bumblebee" or any other instrumental.  In most instances, the composers had those emotions in mind when they composed that piece and those emotions have been assigned to that piece of music.  A simple example of the emotions that could be conveyed by certain instruments follows.

- The throb of low drums remembers the pounding stampede of a herd, the rumble of thunder, a shaking earthquake, aggression or anticipating potential danger.
- The oboe or cello is the mournful crying of a grown adult.
- The violin, the cries or playfulness of a child.
- The breathiness of a wooden flute, may recall the whispering of a loved one's sweet nothings in your ear, or simply the light-laden joy from childhood, bringing happiness and fond memories outdoors.
- The gentle shaking of percussion, remembers the wind through leaves, signifying calmness and serenity.

Instrumentals of all genres, have emotions already assigned.  The composer(s) of the music already had which emotions they wanted the listeners to feel in mind and therefore controls the way they want the listeners to feel in that moment.  One aspect of biblical worship is self control, which would include awareness over how we're made to feel and having control oher how we feel.  Since certain music makes us feel a certain way, and if we use that music in our worship to the Almighty, eventually our feelings towards God will change.  The emotional message in the music we choose in our worship should match the message in the lyrics, which will shape the way we view the person of God. 

Yes, there is great emotion in worship, but it needs to be appropriate and point to who God is.

Conduct your own little experiment and pay attention to how just music makes you feel.  How should we feel towards God? Does that music promote the appropriate feeling?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Call to Reverent Worship

Sadly, there are many today to whom the idea of reverence in worship sounds too old fashioned,  so out of step with the times, and at odds with contemporary worship trends.  Indeed, many believers seem to be strangers to the fundamental truths that form the basis for our worship.   The New Testament teaching concerning worship, the Lord's supper, and the person of Christ no longer seem to hold their interest.   These do not seem to be popular.   We are a spiritually carefree generation.  Unfortunately,  the broad road has always been more appealing than the narrow way.  But the apostle Paul's exhortation must not go unnoticed, "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Jesus Christ, and have no confidence in the flesh."  (Phil. 3:3)  Therefore, let us draw near unto Him, who in mercy, first drew near unto us and humbly bow our hearts as worshippers in His holy presence.  May out reverent worship once again shine bright as the hallmark of our devotion to Christ. 

David Dunlap, Bible & Life, March 2003

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

TRUE Reverence

It was not always this way.  In earlier days the assemblies were for men of God whose passion to worship the Son of God was unrivaled.  The believers in the Lord Jesus Christ might have gathered in a grange hall or a refurbished building, but the gathering place was not as important as the gathering Center,  the Lord Jesus Christ.  The hymns were sung heartily.  Worship was mingled with tenderness and devotion by men of God who know the Word of God.  There was a beauty of holiness that attracted all true saints of God.  The holiness and reverence that characterized the meeting were evident to all.  Concerning the character of those meetings, one writes, "I sometimes smile when I hear ministers state the assumption that a new type of building will create a worship atmosphere.  In my late adolescence I occasionally worshipped with God-fearing believers, meeting in the barest halls, adorned only with signs carrying Scripture verses, they had the most worshipful services I have ever attended.  Greeting, giggling, whispering, and coughing were all hushed by the miracle drug: REVERENCE.  Children were quieted people tiptoed to their places in the circle to sit with bowed heads or read their Bibles.  The keen anticipation of the movement of the Spirit of God in the assembly was evident in the singing of a hymn or the reading of the Scripture.  These moments of deep reverence sharply contrasts with the hubbub of many services today."  Reverence is not something we can bring to God or create in ourselves, but rather, it is a spiritual grace we receive when we begin to see God as He truly is.  Reverence acknowledges in our hearts the glory of God as presented in the Scriptures, and then yields to God His rightful place in our lives.  Reverent worshippers acknowledge their unworthiness and, in godly fear, bow before an awesome and holy God.  Concerning this source of holy reverence, the Swiss reformer John Calvin writes, "Reverence is that dread and amazement with which holy men were struck and overwhelmed whenever they beheld the presence of God...Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their own insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God."  Just a sudden glimpse of the holiness of God will change us forever.  As Isaiah is thrust into the presence of God and the seraphim cry out, "Holy, Holy, Holy", the prophet confesses, "Woe is me! For I am undone." Isaiah, the righteous prophet, in one brief moment, is exposed and broken under the gaze of the Almighty.  In an instant he is measured by the ultimate standard of holiness; he is weighed in the balance and found wanting.  The holiness of God has seized his heart, soul, and mind.  He cannot forget what he has seen. Boredom, casualness, and lukewarmness about the things of God are gone forever.  "Mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts" (Isa. 6:5)

David Dunlap, Bible & Life, March 2003

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The NEED for Reverent Worship

Many are concerned that today there is too much shallowness in our worship of God.  Irreverence in worship is now becoming all too common in modern churches.  Unfortunately, New Testament assemblies are not immune to this affliction.   Increasingly, believers are sashaying into worship meetings 10-15 minutes late without the slightest hint of embarrassment.  The retelling of personal anecdotes, the singing of favorite hymns (singing without conviction), and nonchalance have replaced holy and reverent worship.  Psalm 111:9 exhorts, "Holy and reverend is His Name."  Hearts full of Christ have now given way to hearts full of competing interests.  Many still attend times of worship, but have lost their first love.  The stirring hymns of the faith are sometimes still sung, but rarely with passion and conviction.  Gripping passages of Scripture about Christ and the cross are still read, but with little apparent devotion or heart-felt affection.  Eloquent prayers of praise and worship ring hollow.

David Dunlap, Bible & Life, March 2003

The need for true and sincere worship is leaving the church, and in a lot of churches has already left, being replaced with the superficial ritual of routine.  Of course, God's Word will never return void, but the receptiveness and sensitivity of God's Word is increasing every day.