Viewing the World through God's Word

Category: Music

Music Memories

I’m sitting at my computer writing a blog.  Christian instrumental music plays in the background.  Suddenly, my creaky memory kicks in:  we used to worship with many of these songs when I pastored SonRise Community Church. (not counting the occasional commercial mixed in here).

I sat back.  And remembered.  I can hear us (the worship team playing).  I can hear the congregation singing.  I remembered with gratitude.  With longing (how I wish for those days!).  My voice can’t sing along anymore.  But my soul can–and does.

I send this 1 hour 45 minutes of music, so you can join me, even if just briefly.  Prayer with words is good, with music better.  Meditation with quietness is rich, with music sometimes richer.  Praise with words brings joy, with music joy its full of glory.

Maybe this will bring you, too, music memories . . .


Hip-Hop Worship?

P.AllanI’ve written several times about worship music.  (See “Worship” on right -side column under “Categories”.)  To add more, here are some wise words from Ravi Zacharias and his colleague.

For those who don’t know, Ravi Zacharias is Founder and President of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), which celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 2014. Dr. Zacharias has spoken all over the world for 43 years in scores of universities, notably Harvard, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, and Cambridge. He has addressed writers of the peace accord in South Africa and military officers at the Lenin Military Academy and the Center for Geopolitical Strategy in Moscow. At the invitation of the President of Nigeria, he addressed delegates at the First Annual Prayer Breakfast for African Leaders held in Mozambique.  He has authored over 20 books.

May I ask you to listen to the short video now?  I’ll have a few comments to follow.

Image result for music notes

Music, as Dr. Zacharias noted, is a powerful instrument—the language of the soul that can seductively make the means (the music) an end in itself.  In other words, we can focus so much on the music (its rhythm, its style, etc.) that we lose sight of the song’s message.  This is particularly harmful in worship.  In worship, we want to be focused on the Lord and what we are singing to or about the him in that song.  If the instruments or the music itself become the dominant factor, then we have ceased to worship God and made an idol of the music.

The second point I want to reiterate is  the nature of the congregation.  Zacharias suggested we need to understand the audience to see what they will be engaged in.  Often, however, songs are chosen because they are newly-popular or they fit with the pastor’s sermon.  That’s all well and good.  But if the style of the song is such that the congregation struggles to sing it, they can’t engage in it to meaningfully worship the Lord.  This is true of some hymns as well as contemporary songs.  Some hymns are so familiar, their style doesn’t interfere with worship.  Musicians have written new melodies for some that aren’t familiar.  The important question here is, “How well can this congregation worship the Lord with this music?”

Clearly, balance is necessary.  The music some people can worship well with, others can’t.  The important point, however, isn’t hip-hop versus hymns.  The important point is, “How can this congregation best worship the Lord with music that conveys biblical truth?”

For the aim of worship is doxological (to give glory to God).  In such worship, we, then, find joy as together we fulfill our reason-for-being.



With the Lord in Joyful Song

P.AllanCame across this video.  Got blessed.  Couldn’t not praise the Lord and celebrate his faithful love and goodness.  I thought, “Why not pass it along?”  So here it is, no charge.  It may not be your favorite style of music.  (What’s wrong with you?)  But, ff you need to be encouraged, if you need to rejoice in Jesus, I pray this will help.  (It’s OK to clap and sing along . . . )

Christian Classical Music

O PreacherAccording to one web site ( there are 1264 genres of popular music today.  I have no idea if that’s right, but there’s a lot.

I’m reminded of a conversation with one of our worship leaders years ago.  How cool, he commented, that our worship team could play different kinds of Christian music for different people.  You know, please everyone.  I replied, “We haven’t even scratched the surface” and rattled off jazz and classical and folk and bluegrass, for example.  The variety of music nearly boggles the mind and makes me wonder what kind of God is ours, who creates creatures who can so creatively create such varied music!  One day it will  all be to his glory.

Next to today’s popular Christian groups, classical conjures up images of people dancing the minuet.  But I risk the scoffing to suggest a listen to this 14 minute, 42 second Christian classical music video.  At times we need music to pull us up from our despondency to dance.  Other times—busy, stressful times—we need music to revive our soul without sending us to sleep.  This video does it for me.

I suggest watching and listening with a mind to meet the Lord in the music.  Or perhaps silently reading a portion of Scripture.  Or how about this?  Take your loved one’s hand and together sit in the Lord’s holy presence, listening, waiting.  But whatever you do, please, don’t critique the music.  Meet with the One whom words alone cannot communicate–the One about whom there must be music’s beauty to taste just a bit of his glory.  He’ll be there in the song . . .


All Creatures of Our God and King

O PreacherIn an effort to keep the old theology-rich hymns alive, I pass along this video.

It comes from Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.  This is the Norton Hall Band. They have a new album out that can be downloaded from iTunes.

First time I listened, I looked at those young people.  I don’t know any of them.  Don’t know their struggles or dreams.  Don’t know the depth of their devotion or how they’ll serve Jesus in years ahead or what serving may cost them.  But as I looked I was reminded that the gospel is held in the good hands of the next generation.  As mine passes, the Lord has another he’s raising up to herald his name.  Not just at Boyce College or Southern Seminary, but all over the country, all around the world.These young men and women will pay a price to follow Jesus in this darkening world. But they will give themselves to the greatest mission a human can.

Lord Jesus, strengthen and sustain them.  Give them hearts of joyous devotion to you.  Fill them with the power of the Holy Spirit.  Preserve them safe from the work of the evil one.  Cause your gospel to flourish through them.  As they delight themselves in you, please give them the desires of their hearts.  And may they be the means of a greater and greater multitude singing praises to you, our God and King.

I invite you to join me in joyful worship.  Turn up the volume.  Lift your hands.  For the next few moments, forget about everything you have to do, and just stop.  Make wherever you are a sanctuary.  And sing the praises of our God and King.

He Is In the Song

P.AllanWait!  Before you listen to the video, please listen to this.   I’m taking a musical interlude from Acts, because my soul is dry.

As you may know, almost two years ago now illness drove me to retire from pastoring.  With our worship team, I had  often led the church to sing in the presence of the Lord.  Those are carefully chosen words.  I viewed the music part of our worship as entering into the Lord’s presence with singing.

“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise”
(Psalm 95:2).

God the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen Son, was actually among us as we sang.  And many times we felt him there.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name,
there am I among them”
(Jesus, Matthew 18:20).

We tried never to sing as if we were having a spiritual sing-along.   Nor as if we were only making a doctrinal proclamation together.  We always knew, of course, that our Lord was in heaven; but we believed that by the Spirit he was also in the sanctuary of our gathering.  So we sang songs of worship and praise about him and to him, but always with the sense that we were coming before him.

Often, after our last song, a “holy hush” settled over us, and we became still, awed by his presence.  We waited.  Sometimes one or more of us would spontaneously pray.  Other times we simply remained silent “on holy ground.”  How often I felt like the disciples with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration!  It was good; I wanted to stay!

My illness has mostly kept me from corporate worship the last several months.  I miss it.  Not just Christians singing together, but singing together entering into the Lord’s presence, aware of his nearness, awed by his closeness.  Without it, my soul has been shriveling.  I hasten to add that God is in the preached Word, of course.  Nothing can replace that.  But he is also in the song.

I love most hymns for their theological richness.  This old guy can even get into many contemporary Christian songs.  (I just can’t bounce up and down!)  But with both, I need those simple worship choruses that free me from many words to focus more on Jesus.  I miss that.  My soul needs that.

So late yesterday I came across the video above, a beautiful hymn we used to sing in corporate worship.  I didn’t sing along with it yesterday.  Just sat with tears streaming down my face.  And was caught up in the holy, refreshing, beautiful, encouraging presence of the Lord.  He was in the song.  I invite you to find him there too.

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