Sunday, November 23, 2008

Worship in Song

Today’s worship order was largely selected by Jason Hendry from the band Jeremiah Foundation. Thanks to Jason and his wife Katie who have contributed and been a part of helping with worship at Mosaic.

Today is a good day! I am so grateful I experienced the day where I saw the light of Jesus in my life. Let’s all think about the light of Jesus as we watch and sing with the song by old time great, Hank Williams Sr. As a reminder, just click on the videos below, if the video don’t appear, just click on the link.

I Saw The Light

I love that old song. I remember living in Tulsa and going to the Caines Ballroom where many greats like Hank Williams used to play. I don’t know if he ever had any idea of the longevity of that song when he wrote it and performed it.

There are other wonderful new artists that are searching for spiritual truth, despite what we think of them. One of the most recent is Sinead O’Conner with the following song.

Thank You For Hearing Me

I am so grateful that the creator of the universe chose to have a relationship with me through his son Jesus. We truly do serve a great God.

How Great Thou Art

God is an incredible God. We often think we have to say so much, but the truth is, sometimes just to silently pray, just to contemplate the goodness and reality of God is enough. The times just between God and you can be an incredible time. Let’s each of us make the following tune a tune where we contemplate the goodness of God.

Let My Words Be Few

Father thank you for all you have done for us, you deserve all of our worship, all of our praise. In Jesus name, Amen!

We are going to take a break right now, use this few moments to stretch, call someone, tell them you love them and appreciate them, maybe even send an email. Get a nice beverage of your choice come back and enjoys the rest of the message. I would like to remind you though, if a part of a church or ministry, you have a responsibility to joyfully give in worship both in time and finance to that ministry. If you are not a part of a larger ministry or church, pray and consider who God would have you help and support. God don’t have to, but he chooses to use you and your willingness to help others as a way for you to show him how much you love him. Give of your time and money with a joyful heart in this act and means of worship.

Father I ask that as we look at today’s message that you will give us ears to hear what you would have us hear. Father may your Holy Spirit come, may your Holy Spirit move, in Jesus name I pray, Amen.

For the folks that know me, they know how much I love music, but not just a particular style but virtually all styles. I can actually think o very few styles of music that I don’t like. Today we are going to look at music in the area of worship. But I would like to look first at music, and in particular my own musical taste over the years.

I think most of us have a real appreciation of music that is based in part on our youth. Depending on your age, you may have an appreciation for Elvis Pressley, maybe Madonna, possibly Jefferson Airplane or a country fan who likes the likes of Garth Brooks or even a George Jones. As for me, I have a great appreciation of those I grew up listening to.

Among those were many of the classic artists, artists such as, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, The Who, Led Zeppelin, BTO, Nazareth, AC/DC, and many others. I figure they call that music classic for a reason, because it was and still is.

In enjoying the music of your youth, have you ever felt like Christians would you have to listen to “their” music and forget the styles that you appreciate?

I grew up listening to some great songs as I said earlier, I would like to rekindle some of those memories. There was Nazareth, see if you remember this song?

Love Hurts

I appreciated that song because sure enough, love did hurt, I was looking for love and few expressed the concept of love hurting more than Nazareth did with that song.

I of course was always a Rock N Roller. Few songs expressed the concept of Rock N Roll as well as the classic Rock N Roll band of all time, Led Zeppelin.

Rock N Roll

As I mentioned earlier, there was some of those songs from some of those bands that were not only putting out classic songs, but were being put out by classic bands that have endured the test of time. This following song is a song that was like a lot of songs in the style, it had as a point of focus things that many Christians had issues with, but they still found a way to reach out, grab and entertain those listening to the music. The following is one such song by the band Aerosmith.
Walk This Way

As much as I enjoyed the music, bands and time of my youth. I never imagined that I would one day get to do some limited work with one of the bands I grew up with. This is a classic band I was blessed to spend some time with when I worked with The Rob Cassels Band. A song I know many old Rock N Rollers still enjoy. Steppenwolf and John Kay is still playing music, still playing in fact not only new songs but the following anthem.

Born To Be Wild

There were many other bands I enjoyed, another fellow I got to work with now plays one of the most famous guitar riffs in the history of music. Steve Morse now plays with Deep Purple, and while this is the older version of this song. I have seen Steve now play this several times, and while I haven’t had the joy of playing it with him. I have played this on my bass guitar many times.

Smoke on the Water

This gives a good idea of what I grew up with. It is likely now that some Christians are blasting away because I shouldn’t even dare to post music like this. Well there was a reason I had issue with Christianity, to not allow me to enjoy the musical style I grew up with was a very difficult thing for me to endure, but you know what, it is a difficult thing for most new Christians to endure.

I’ll never forget getting saved, coming to call Jesus my Leader and Forgiver, my Lord my Savior, then I got to the point where I come to understand that my style of music would have to change. No longer would I be allowed to listen to, enjoy music like that above, but now I would have to go through my life listening to the music of the church. Instead of a Rock N Roller, I would be expected to become a Holy Roller and listen to the likes of the following:

Shall We Gather At The River

To say the least, I was hurting. From Aerosmith, Janis Joplin, music with class to a musical style like this. I didn’t know if I would make it. Then, after a few encounters of really struggling, even attempting suicide, I had a youth pastor that showed me something else. It wouldn’t take long before I realized there was a style of Christian music that would touch me, give me hope. Thankfully God Gave me music that touched my soul. The following was the first song that I heard that gave me this hope. It was on an album titled In Another Land by an artist named Larry Norman.

Rock That Doesn’t Roll

Over the years, as I have grown older I come to understand the style of music I listen to is not as important as the attitude of my heart when I am listening to it. In this process of growing however, I learned that the style that touches our heart, can, and will touch God’s heart because it is coming from our heart. In other words, God would allow, even encourage the use of certain styles that had touched me.

We all need to remember; that when it comes to music, one person’s style may not be ours, but it does not change its validity. I firmly believe that God loves everything from Bach to BTO, and from Loretta Lynn to Led Zeppelin. Some of us need to accept this also includes styles from Taylor Swift to Snoop Dog. That isn’t to say necessarily the bands or artists like those mentioned above, but stylistically, God don’t have favorites. He loves it all if it gives glory and praise to him.
As we begin to explore the use of music in worship, let’s look at several passages from the Bible.

Nehemiah 9:6
You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

1 Kings 22:19
This host or mass of persons are the angels: "Then Micaiah said, "Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left

Revelation 5:8
After he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders knelt down before him. Each of them had a harp and a gold bowl full of incense, which are the prayers of God's people

Luke 2:8-14
That night in the fields near Bethlehem some shepherds were guarding their sheep. All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord, and the brightness of the Lord's glory flashed around them. The shepherds were frightened. But the angel said, "Don't be afraid! I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy. This very day in King David's hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord. You will know who he is, because you will find him dressed in baby clothes and lying on a bed of hay."
Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God. They said: "Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God."

When looking at the above passages, I have come in part to the conclusion that music has been touching God since before the creation of Adam.

Angels were created prior to creation of humans and the earth. While we don’t know how long they were around prior to the creation of humanity we know they were from various books in the Bible like Job. We have to understand, God created the angels and many of them, prior to humans, to worship him through, music and song.

On this point of creation, we as followers of Jesus have to remember, God is the creator and the truth of it is Satan never created anything. Regarding the styles of music, we have to get over the style issues. While styles have changed over the years, nothing touches God more than the attitude of the heart! The things that touch our heart in regards to music, if coming from real emotion, and from deep within our souls, will touch and bless God as it is an indication of our love.

We clearly know and can see how much God appreciates music by his creation. This is true not just in music, but also in voice. In this process there are some things we can understand from looking at the Bible.

Psalm 95:1, 2
O COME, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation! Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!

Psalm 98:4
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy, yes, sing praises!

One of the things that should be clear here is we don’t have to be talented to sing songs or play music. God accepts a joyful noise. Now don’t get me wrong, God appreciates talent and ability. We see that in his directives, and instruction regarding craftsmanship and desire that the best be offered as a sacrifice. While that is clear through several passages in the Bible, we can also see that God also enjoys the gift of noise that comes out of joy.

There is another area that can be addressed in regards to our style of worship, whether through the playing of music or our singing. We need to look at the area of silence, because the truth is, many will find ways to be silent in worship, they won’t sing, they won’t participate. It is here that I want to challenge you on something; nowhere in scripture do we see that God enjoys our silence when it comes to worship, other than in issues of prayer, and meditation. It is clear, in areas of music and worship, God prefers noise over silence.

Everyone is encouraged to sing songs and participate in the worship experience, no matter what style you prefer. While some will pretend to know God’s favorite style, I will assure you, few on this planet sing or participate in any worship style that existed in the early days of creation. There are no exceptions to the wishes of God, everyone is encouraged to sing songs, and make a joyful noise, no matter what the style. God enjoys all kinds of music as long as it comes from the heart. This includes both vocal and instrumental.

Many Christians have assumed that any music that is not vocal in origin is not appropriate worship to God. This is simply not true since even in the early days of the prophets and patriarchs, as well as indication from scripture with the angels, there are times of strictly instrumental music. God enjoys the gifts of the heart, even gifts that are used just to give praise. While not everyone can understand this, a musician can certainly understand that the playing of music can be an act of worship. While it may not seem like an appropriate comparison, I think it is, think of the story contained in the Christmas cartoon and song, Little Drummer Boy. The little drummer boys desire to play for the new born king was in fact an act of worship.

As a struggling musician, I have learned that the playing of my instrument can be an act of worship. Because I also value music, I have learned to worship with not just vocal music, but instrumental music. This opens up my worship experience to not just being encouraged to worship by Christians, but everyone God has gifted. True Worship moves us towards God, not focused on ourselves.

We worship God for various reasons. One is because he deserves it, he is God. Another is so we can give him the praise for all he has done. When we give God what he deserves, it improves the relationship between us.

We know God loves music, both vocally, and musically, so we learn to give out of our own love. As we give, it blesses and pleases God, as we bless and please him he respond to us by blessing and giving back.

Now on a closing note, I think one last thing to understand, is that today the aspect was specific to music, there is more than just music involved in the worship of God, there is prayer, becoming as a child, and the way we live. As to how the way we live being an act of worship? More on that subject next time.

In closing today, let’s close with another worship song. Feel free to join in.

Never Let Go

Thank you God, I thank you for those who have joined in today. May we all be reminded of our need to worship through music. I ask you to bless all of those who have participated with this message. I ask you to continue to help me in this area, let my life, let my music and my song be an act of worship that is pleasing to you. Bless us all now as we go from here. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

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