Monday, October 27, 2014

Thoughts on Worship... from a Pastor's Wife



Music.

Church music.

Biblical music.

Can they ever collide? Can they ever unite? Can they ever be the same thing?

I believe they can.  I also believe that one person does not have the answer to the age-old question of which music glorifies God the best.  The only way music can truly glorify God is if the Worshiper is giving praise to God with ALL their heart, ALL their soul, and ALL their mind and strength.  But, I am getting ahead of myself.

Music is in all of us.  Even the most inept at singing a tune can appreciate the feeling that comes over them when the right blend of notes swell into a beautiful crescendo of loveliness.  Add just the right instruments, and you have a recipe for an emotional experience.

Why did God create such a beautiful mode of expression, which has become one of the most divisive parts of life?

Music moves us.

Music removes us from horrible moments, and creates pockets of joy in a dark and lonely world.

Music can sustain the dying soul...leading them into a place of solitude and rest before they take their final journey.

Music can give life to the depressed, the hurting, the ones crying out for someone to understand.

Music can speak the thoughts you wish you could express.

Music is a gift.

So, why have we taken something that God has given to us as a gift, and decided that we know the best way to write it?  We know the best way to play it.  And, we certainly know the best way to sing it.

We have become near-sighted.  We get into discussions about how much we hated Sunday's worship music, without one thought to the words which were lifted up in praise.

I want to let you in on a little secret...

You are not right.

I am not right.

We are not right.

Just because we have a preference in music, does not mean that that preference is the only way that God can move.  It's not as if He shows up only when the strains of an organ float up towards the heavenly realm.

I have been in traditional services, where only hymns dating before 1960 were sung.  And, guess what? God came.  There was a sweet Spirit that came and moved among people and lives were encouraged and changed.

I have been in traditional/contemporary services, where one hymn and several worship songs were sung.  God came.  There was a sweet Spirit that came and moved among people.  Lives were encouraged. Lives were changed.

I have been in modern services, where no hymns were sung.  Instead there was a collection of "new songs" that gave HONOR, PRAISE, and WORSHIP to the God of the universe.  God came.  There was a sweet Spirit that came and moved among HIS people.  Lives were encouraged.  Yes, believe it or not, without one organ, and with drums that rocked the building...Lives were changed.

I have been in services in and out of my comfort zone, and in each situation God was moved to come and dwell among His people.

Isn't that strange?  God doesn't have one particular kind of music He favors.

The truth is, that fact shouldn't surprise us.

After all, He did create a billion different characteristics in people.  He created some to be artistic in different ways than others.  He created some to be thinkers.  He created some to be doers.

He created a million different forms of beauty in this world.  He created flavors of food that are so delicious and intense.  Then He created the flavor that would be created when someone puts two flavors together!  He is a creative God, with a beautiful sense of artistry.

Why then, can't we accept that He most likely enjoys a HUGE variety of musical styles?

Instead of fighting about which one He prefers, why don't we figure out a way to compromise?

I get it -  You have your favorite tune.

I do too.

However...

You are not right.

I am not right.

We are not right!

No one has a monopoly on God's mind.

The Holy Bible says that King David was a "man after God's own heart."  Then, it gives the reason...because David loved God's law. When we sing and meditate on God's law, on God's love, and on God's sacrifice day and night - HE loves it! Our God LOVES it when we bring a sacrifice of praise and lay it before His feet.

If that praise offering is accompanied with only a piano and organ, or even acapella, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that He most likely LOVES it.

If that praise offering is accompanied with a full worship band, praise dancers, and artistic worshipers, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that He most likely LOVES it.

What matters is not the mode of worship, but if the worship and praise is SINCERE.  If someone is living a lie all week, and then comes before a Holy God and offers an insincere offering, will God come and move in that person?  Well, God could certainly use the words of a song to speak to that person.  But, if that person is not willingly being emptied of themselves and giving God their everything, then...No.  I'm afraid not.

But, when people who are surrendered to God come before Him with a praise offering...He is honored.  He is glorified.  He is exalted.  It doesn't matter which instrument was used.  He. Is. Praised.

And for those naysayers who believe that drums, cymbals, and marraccas could never glorify God... I have some verses to share with you. (Psalms 150:4, Psalms 98:4-6, II Chronicles 15:14, II Samuel 6:5, Psalms 68:24-25).  I Chronicles 15:16 says... "Then David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their relatives the singers, with instruments of music, harps, lyres, loud-sounding cymbals, to raise sounds of joy."

Sounds of joy...

Do our worship services sound joyful? Do they bring a smile to our faces? Do they put our eyes on the ONE we are giving praise to?

On another note...If you appreciate the percussion section when you are attending a [enter your preference] concert, or a beautiful choral experience, then maybe you need to rethink your opinions on "beat."  What makes that different than a worship band?

Why is it okay to have your eardrums practically blown out when you are listening to your particular style of music, but when it's out of your comfort zone, you can't handle it?

And, those of you who prefer only modern worship music... Why?  Why can't you appreciate the incredible depth that accompanies the hymns?  They are incredible resources to those of us who want to know more about the God we serve!

Let us all examine our hearts.  Let us all examine our motives.  Let's get on the same page when it comes to this.

Let's recap:

You don't care about the sound, the cymbals, or the singing when it's your style.

You do care about the sound, the cymbals, and the singing when it's a modern "rock" style.

You roll your eyes when the worship leader begins to lead out in yet another song from before 1935, and jump up and down when he leads you in a song that repeats one line 50 times.  Hmm...



God can work in different cultures, in different methods, in different styles.

Let's let Him work.  Let's get over ourselves. Let's give Him the greatest gift we could give Him...

A unified church, who understands that we won't all appreciate the same kind of music, but we should appreciate the Giver of the different kinds of music.  And, in doing so, we find ways to climb up to common ground and enjoy worshiping God together.

What if, instead of fighting over which side had the most spiritual worship music, we put our time and energy into what really matters... Lost People.  Each one has a face.  Each one has a name.  Each one has a story.  Do we even care about them?  Or, are we so caught up in how the worship band sounded Sunday to think about ways to engage a lost generation.

Church shouldn't be about you. Church shouldn't be about me. We are the Church, so can we please start acting like it, and leave our selfishness at the door?

It's time for the church music war to end.