I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this little video with a couple of Australian Asians (totally cool!) but Piper once again reminds us of the importance of heart-engagement with worship. It’s a message we constantly need to hear. Enjoy!
Here is a song by Delane Angel, a long-time member at GLC, who has also assisted in leading music here. He serves as somewhat of an itinerant music minister, serving in other local churches who need a solid Music Minister. He is currently serving with Ricky Nelson at New Life Baptist Church in Collinwood, TN. We love Delane deeply here at GLC.
Here’s the video:
As promised, I’m making a tidy little announcement about an opportunity I’ve been given to do a weekly interview with Monk Boone every Tuesday morning at approx. 7 am CST dealing with the same subjects in which I speak here at the blog–truth in Christian music. Monk is an on-air personality at WSTS 100.9 FM The Cross in Fairmont, NC. (There is a link at their website where you can listen live. Monk came up with the title of the spot which is the title of this blog entry.) He and Randy Catoe, the station manager, have had for some time a deep burden to see reform in all genres of Christian music. Their station happens to be one that plays Southern Gospel music. They also air my pastor’s radio show, “Anchored In Truth”.
I’m looking forward to the opportunity to discuss so much of what I write and teach about at Grace Life Church and here at the blog. It’s been over seven years now since I had my own radio show with American Family Radio so I’m also excited about getting back in the saddle on the airwaves. Please pray that I will honor Jesus in all that I say and that our discussions will be seasoned with humility, love, and gentleness as we tackle some rather controversial topics.
As I type this I have just returned from the land of Scotland (were are laying over back in London and flying back to the USA tomorrow). We were hosted by Grace Baptist Partnership Scotland which is headed up by Ali McLachlin. Ali is a wonderfully kind and humble brother who is a missionary to Scotland (he’s originally from England).
Bro. Jeff and I served along with Barry King and presented a conference on evangelism/church planting where I led the singing. The culture here is very conservative. We held hymnals and were accompanied by piano (my thank to Barry and Ali’s fine son, Jonah). The McLachin family is one that has been greatly encouraged by the Anchored In Truth/Grace Life Church internet service broadcasts.
Because of excesses, they are a people that remain very reserved while singing. The work here in Scotland is in great need as there are only about twelve churches in the entire country that are of the reformed tradition.
One of the more interesting moments for me was a Church Music Q & A session that we held at the end of the conference. Nearly everyone who attended the conference stayed for the session. Many of the same issues that we face in America are controversial issues in Scotland as well. I fielded questions regarding music styles, hymnody vs. psalms-only, emotionalism, and song lyrics were all discussed. As they asked questions about the size of our church and music department, they seemed astonished that our choir was substantially larger than any associational church in Scotland. I pray that that would not be able to be said for much longer. God, please send an awakening in this wonderful land!
One other moment worth mentioning was our trip to Stirling Castle. It was built in the 1500′s and was a very strategic location for those who controlled Scotland ever since.
I couldn’t help wondering while we were there with those wonderful folks what Wales and England, Scotland and America looked like before the Great Awakening began. It is my deep prayer that a mighty move of God would hit this storied and beautiful land and its lovely people.
I will interrupt my series on the RP, NP, and BP with a few thoughts from my time in London, England. As I type this I’m in a hotel in Southall, which is the Indian section of London. Jeff Noblit (my pastor) and I served at a conference in Angel, London Thu-Sat. with Barry King and the Grace Baptist Partnership (GBP) (along with Ali MacLachan) and then served on the Sunday service at Grace Baptist Church in Southall this morning. We are heading (Lord willing) to Scotland in the morning to do basically the same conference there over the next three days.
This has been my first time out of the United States. I must say that I was a bit apprehensive about the trip leading up to it (I’ve only flown four times in my life–not quite the jet-setter) but now that I’m here, I’m having a wonderful time.
I thank God for my pastor. It is wonderful to see Bro. Jeff in this environment. It’s like I’m hearing him in a whole new way. He has such wisdom and insight into how to build a healthy church and his passion for the Bride of Christ is even more evident over here (if that’s possible!) I have truly enjoyed traveling with him and greatly appreciate him on a personal as well as ministerial level.
I thank God for Barry King. England doesn’t know what it’s got! If you are looking for an opportunity to support a missions work PLEASE check out the GBP. There is not a more “bibline” man on the planet. He has poured the scriptures as well as himself into this wonderful flock here. The church planters that I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting have been some of the most humble, loving, God-centered, scripture-saturated brothers I’ve ever met. Humanly speaking, that credit goes to Barry King.
I thank God for diversity. How refreshing it’s been to lead music in a totally different environment! I love the challenge of adapting to a new culture while making objective truth central. If I had tried to do the music here exactly the way we do it at GLC, it might have been a distraction to some. We’ve been able to make a few adjustments and thereby (hopefully) increase the communication of the lyrics. But I’ve also had the thrill of singing along with Indian, Burmese, Romanian, Iranian, and British (as well as other) brothers and sisters. London is the melting pot of melting pots.
I thank God for the gospel. I have had a kinship with these wonderful folks over here in a matter of days through the power of Jesus’ mighty saving work that I’ve never experienced with many folks I’ve known my whole life. When truth is central, true fellowship and unity is experienced that is absolutely supernatural. I’ve never been more aware of that as now.
I thank God for Grace Life Church. GLC has truly been somewhat of a lifeline for many of the folks I’ve met here. London is such a spiritually dark country. Many who are partnered with GBP have looked to our church as a model for building healthy church plants. I can hardly believe that I get to go back to such a wonderful place (DV).
I thank God for my girls. It’s so nice to know that while I’m out “across the waters” that Marla, Emily, and Aubrey are home waiting for me. I can’t imagine their not being there when I would arrive home (DV). Oh to grace, how great a debtor!
I’ll have more to say about Scotland soon. Hopefully, I’ll post some pics and possibly some video when I get back to the states.
My daughter, Emily, is a senior in high school. She is an avid French horn player (even though she just picked it up about two-and-a-half years ago). She is considering colleges where she wants to study Music Education and F horn. As part of that process, she and I visited yesterday my alma mater (Marla’s too), Murray State University.
I had not been on campus since I graduated in 1993. Much has changed there with a newly renovated Annex Music building as well as other buildings on campus. Many of the faculty have since moved on or retired. We did get to have lunch with Dr. John Dressler, my music history teacher, who is also the French horn instructor there and gave a lesson to Emily while we were there. My voice teacher, Dr. Randall Black was also there and I got to see him for a moment (I got a hug!). It was also a thrill to introduce Emily to Dr. Stephen Brown who totally reshaped the way I listened to music (we sat in on his graduate-level class on Beethoven!). We also sat in on a bit of the great choir and their rehearsal under the baton of Dr. Bradley Almquist (I was in his first choir there back in 1993!). We attended a recital last night of the Symphonic Band and Orchestra and were very impressed as well.
I’m grateful for common grace. In God’s sovereign plan He directed me to go to a school that equipped me for leading church music as well
as I can imagine. It’s a long story but after being called into the ministry I showed up at the music college at Murray (I never even visited anywhere else) and begged them to help me (as a transfer student). I could list names for many pages of all the folks that graciously and lovingly served and taught me the great art of music. I couldn’t have had a better experience than the Lord gave me at MSU.
I’m grateful to have been steeped in the classics. I know that many music schools are now moving towards a pop-music-centric educational approach. I’m glad that MSU still is steeped in the great classical music repertoire and taught me the lexicon of the historically gravitational composers and works. I use the knowledge that my classical teaching gave me every day—not most days—EVERY day. Learning classical music didn’t exclude pop music from my knowledge—it increased it. It may take a bit more work but it can be done. If you are considering a study of music, I would ask you to consider a school that still teaches with a classical approach.
I’m grateful for the ministry. As much as I loved my experience at MSU, as much as I love “music for Art’s Sake”, I glory even more in “Art for God’s Sake”. I can’t imagine spending my life crafting music only from the human perspective. I can only think of how wonderful it is to spend all of my energy creating music that points to, that centers on, that glories in the majestic gospel of my Lord Jesus. I don’t know what the future holds for this man but I pray that I have many years to thunder the man-saving, God-glorifying news of Jesus in music for His Bride.
My heart overflows in thanks to the wonderful faculty of Murray State University for teaching me the wonderful language of music. I thank my God all the more for teaching me the infinitely more wonderful language of love through Jesus and Him crucified.
“There is such a thing as a good church split” my pastor has said. It’s a radical thought. However, because we’ve almost only seen unbiblical church splits (over non-essentials) we tend to think immediately that all church splits are bad. Not so says Paul (1 Cor. 11:18-19). In the same way, we have only seen bad “worship wars” with congregations splitting over non-essentials as music styles, volume, etc. But in this article by Russell Moore, he challenges us much in the same way as the Apostle in that we need to be fighting FOR each other rather than AGAINST each other. Enjoy!
I have the worship music tastes of a seventy-five year-old woman.
There I admitted it. That’s because a seventy-five year-old woman was picking out the hymns and gospel songs in the church where I grew up. My iPod playlist is really eclectic—ranging from George Jones to Andrew Peterson to Taio Cruz. But, when it comes to worship, nothing gets to me like Fanny Crosby. And, if “Just As I Am” is played, I’m going to want to cry, and probably walk the nearest aisle (even if it’s on an airplane).
I’m left cold by what people call the “majestic old hymns.” I tried to like them, to fit in with the theological tribe into which I was adopted, but I just can’t do it. They sound like what watercress-sandwich-eating Episcopalians from Connecticut might sing (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
And, though I like a lot of contemporary music, much of it sounds to me like many of these songs were written by underemployed commercial jingle writers, trying to find words to rhyme with “Jesus” (”Sees us?” “Never leave us?” “Diseases?”).
But the more I reflect on what I like, and why, the more I’m convinced that my preferences are almost entirely cultural and nostalgic.
I’m not saying aesthetics don’t matter in worship. The Spirit equips God’s people to sing and to play and to write music. So when music is not good this is often evidence of, at worst, disobedience, and at best, misappropriation of talents. And the Scripture commands us to worship in “reverence and awe” (Heb. 12:28).
Worship is directed toward God, yes, but worship arises out of a specific community. The psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are teaching ( Col. 3:16). They build up the rest of the Body. That’s why we’ve got to care about what, and how, others hear when we are “addressing one another” (Eph. 5:17) musically.
What I am saying is that most of our varying critiques of musical forms are often just narcissism disguised as concern about theological and liturgical downgrade. That’s why I think we need more, and better, worship wars.
Thankfully, we don’t hear as much about “worship wars” these days, but I wonder if that’s because of growing maturity or if it’s simply because we’ve so segregated ourselves into services and congregations that reflect generational and ethnic and class-oriented musical commonalities. Maybe we need to reignite the wars, but in a Christian sort of way.
What if the war looked like this in your congregation? What if the young singles complained that the drums are too loud, that they’re distracting the senior adults? What if the elderly people complained that the church wasn’t paying attention to the new movements in songwriting or musical style?
When we seek the well-being of others in worship, it’s not just that we cringe through music we hate. As an act of love, this often causes us to appreciate, empathize, and even start to resonate with worship through musical forms we previously never considered.
This would signal a counting of others as more significant than ourselves (Phil 2:3), which comes from the Spirit of the humiliated, exalted King Jesus (Phil 2:5-11). It would mean an outdoing of one another, in order to serve and show honor to the other parts of the Body of Christ. And, however it turned out musically, it would rock.
Okay, so I exaggerated a little about my old woman tastes. In the time I’ve been writing this article the background music has included both Conway Twitty and Christian Hip-Hop artist FLAME. But I know myself; you turn on “To God Be the Glory,” and I’ll get misty-eyed.
When I insist that the rest of the congregation serve as back-up singers in my own little nostalgic hit parade of back-home Mississippi hymns, I am worshiping in the spirit all right. It’s just not the Holy Spirit. I’m worshiping myself, in the spirit of self-exaltation. And it’s easy to be a Satanist when you can get your way in worship planning.
Let’s declare war on that, in ourselves and in our churches. Which reminds me: “Onward Christian Soldiers,” what a song…
I don’t consider myself a songwriter. I do write songs but a “songwriter” is someone who is known for it. I’m certainly not known for the songs I’ve written! A cyber-friend (did I just make up a new term???) of mine, Bobby Gilles, has posted an extremely beneficial post concerning lyric devices that any and all who write songs should feast upon. Bobby and his wife Kristin are a part of the Sojourn Community Church music ministry in the Louisville, KY area. He has been kind to direct others to my blog in the past but that’s not why I’m featuring him in this post. It would be well-worth your time to subscribe to his blog, “My Song In The Night” whether he had promoted this site or not!
I will give you the first few examples here and you can click here for the entire list:
Alliteration: the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of a word, like the “H” sound in “Hark the herald angels sing” or the “L” in Stephen Foster’s “Open thy lattice, love, listen to me.” Count all the alliteration in this brief part of Bob Dylan’s “Chimes Of Freedom” (look for B, F, D,S and M words):
Far between sundown’s finish and midnight’s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashin’
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sun
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Anadiplosis: Repeating the last word or phrase of one line at the beginning of the next one:
suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope,
and hope does not put us to shame,
– Romans 5:3-5
Poor man wanna be rich
Rich man wanna be king
And a king ain’t satisfied
Till he rules everything
– “Badlands,” Bruce Springsteen
Anaphora: Repetition of the same words at the beginning of successive lines. Martin Luther King, Jr. used anaphora repeatedly in his “I Have A Dream” speech. Fanny Crosby begins “Redeemed, How I Love To Proclaim It” with three successive lines starting with the word “Redeemed.” And Charles Wesley uses anaphora well in “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus“: “Born Thy people to deliver/ Born a child and yet a King/ Born to reign in us forever.” Look at the way Bill and Gloria Gaither repeat the title song phrase of “Because He lives” in their chorus:
Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I Know He holds the future
This life is worth the living, just because He lives
Antimetabole: A figure of speech in which the same phrase or idea is repeated in transposed order, giving the second phrase a different or deeper meaning:
Antistrophe: Similar to antimetabole, but more limited in scope. Antistrophe occurs when words are repeated in reverse order, meaning essentially the same thing each time:
Antithesis: The use of opposites in successive phrases, to highlight the distinction or difference:
Click here to read the entire post
It looks like the Church Music guys have been reading this blog! Haha. Seriously, I’m very encouraged by the paradigm shift that has taken place at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. For total disclosure, I’ve not attended there but if I were to continue with my education, I would seriously consider SBTS. Enjoy!
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