Monday, October 28, 2013

Going Against Tradition...Again

Recently, I read the following words regarding worship music in the church.  My responses are meant to be tongue-in-cheek, and some are not, so don’t take what I say too seriously, well some of it anyways:

There are several reasons for opposing it [this new music in churches]:

  • ·One, it’s too new.

  • ·Two, it’s often worldly, even blasphemous.

  • ·The new Christian music is not as pleasant as the more established style.

  • ·Because there are so many songs, you can’t learn them all.

  • ·It puts too much emphasis on instrumental music rather than Godly lyrics.

  • ·This new music creates disturbances making people act indecently and disorderly.

  • ·The preceding generation got along without it.

  • ·It’s a money making scene and some of these new music upstarts are lewd and loose.

These are neither new arguments nor are they shocking (to me anyways).  I’ve been actively playing worship music a long time (close to 20 years now), and I feel like I’ve heard every argument there is, whether for it or against it.  The above list seems to pretty much sums up the vast majority of what I’ve heard, so as opposed to trying to tackle these comments as a whole, I’ll attempt to answer each one as a separate issue all the while trying my best of avoid the ever-present semantics found when discussing anything theological. Here we go: 

One, it’s too new.

I guess my response to this would be in the form of a question: How old does it need to be in order to be appropriate for a church?  Mylon Lefevre wrote “Without Him” in 1963 and has been featured in a wide variety of Baptist hymnals since then (Oh and by the way, it was recorded by Elvis Presley).  Is this too new?  How old does a song have to be in order to be ok to sing?  50 years old?  How about 100?

To be totally honest, I’m pretty sure the author of this concern probably meant “One, it’s too new…for me.”  One can only assume.

Two, it’s often worldly, even blasphemous.

I’m not sure I know what this means.  Is this speaking in terms of volume and/or instrumentation?  There is plenty of scripture which speaks of loud cymbals, playing with stringed instruments, etc.  Read the Psalms.  I don’t know what “worldly” means in terms of musical styles.  Maybe I’ve been doing this too long.

The new Christian music is not as pleasant as the more established style.

If this question was directed at modern worship instrumentation vs. piano/organ instrumentation, I have to ask, do most people listen to music that solely played on piano and organ?  You may.  I don’t.

Because there are so many songs, you can’t learn them all. 

Charles Wesley single handedly wrote close to 9,000 hymns (8,989 according to  To respond to the concern, in terms of learning worship music, don’t feel pressured that you have to learn them all; it’s probably impossible to do so.  With respect to hymns, I never bothered learning all of them, including “God of Earth and Outer Space.”  I’m ok with that.

It puts too much emphasis on instrumental music rather than Godly lyrics.

Instrumental music?  The only way I can relate this to modern worship music is occasionally there is a guitar solo (but it’s more of a guitar “break” as opposed to real “solo”); however, I fail to see where there is an emphasis on the “instrumental” aspect of the question.

This new music creates disturbances making people act indecently and disorderly.

I guess the author would have to go more into what is meant by “indecently and disorderly.”  If the author is against the raising of hands, clapping, etc., then we will just have to agree to disagree there.

The preceding generation got along without it.

True.  Preceding generations also got along without electricity, the automobile, and Google.

It’s a money making scene and some of these new music upstarts are lewd and loose.

This is where I have to put on the brakes a little bit, and to tell the truth, I’m not sure how much to share my own thoughts here because I am more of a realist than an optimist at my core.  With that said, worship music is the only genre in which major Christian labels are making any significant amount of money right now; therefore, modern worship music is getting a lot of promotion and radio airplay.  Very few (if any) are “making it” right now purely writing Christian-based music that’s NOT worship music.  Quick story: I was once in a band that opened for an independent band (that shall go nameless) who was quickly signed to a major Christian label shortly after we had the opportunity to play with them.  Not only did they go on major tours, I’ve heard they were the highest-grossing band on the label, but they were dropped within a couple of years later because the label is in the middle of folding.  I’m “friends” with this band on Facebook, and one of their final posts was about how upon their disbanding, they have a “significant amount of debt,” and they are trying to sell off their equipment…including the mini-Winnebago and trailer they had to fund themselves (no tour buses for this group even though they were a top seller for this label).  Things just aren’t the way they used to be.  Outside of worship music, if I may be so blunt, the Christian music industry is dying.  Here is an article that was put out in CCM Magazine (which is no longer in print, by the way, if that tells you anything) by Charlie Peacock about the state of affairs of Christian music (circa 2008).  Although rather sad, this is coming true.   

If you still don’t believe me, think back to the last time you heard about an awesome Christian band coming through (whose emphasis was NOT worship music) that was playing at a venue that WASN’T at least 1.5 hour drive away (this does not include festivals).  Can’t remember?  Me neither.  Also, have you ever wondered why some of your favorite artists have evolved to more of a praise and worship artist as opposed to songwriting?  They probably aren’t doing this because this is what they want to do; they are likely doing this because this is what they have to do in order to stay on the road.

(BTW, all of these major Christian music labels of days gone by are actually owned by one of the top 4 major companies:  EMI, Universal, Sony/BMG, and Warner Music Group.  For example, Forefront Records (think Audio Adrenaline, TobyMac, Rebecca St. James, Big Tent Revival, etc.) is a subsidiary of EMI (same as Snoop Dogg, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Garth Brooks, and a slew of others).  Whenever you purchase any sort of Christian music on a major label, you are supporting one of the top 4 companies which put out (brace yourself) secular music! *Gasp!*)

I’ve felt like I’ve had to say all of that to say this regarding the opening concern which implies that modern worship is all just a money-making racket.  The truth is, yes, labels and artists are making a lot of money.  I don’t think that Chris Tomlin or Paul Baloche is worried about paying their power bill this month, but you know, there’s nothing wrong with making a living (or even a good living) doing what God wants you to do.

So, is it a money-making scene?  Yes. It’s a business; that’s its purpose.  However, it is necessary because major labels have the knowledge and the skill to push out modern worship music that, well, people actually want to listen to, use, and enjoy.  Even though it’s a business model, God can (and does) still get the glory in all of it.

In conclusion, when I first read this series of concerns regarding modern music, I was neither surprised nor shocked.  I’ve had these conversations time and time again ad nauseum throughout my tenure as a person who plays praise and worship.



One, it’s too new.
Two, it’s often worldly, even blasphemous.
The new Christian music is not as pleasant as the more established style.
Because there are so many songs, you can’t learn them all.
It puts too much emphasis on instrumental music rather than Godly lyrics.
This new music creates disturbances making people act indecently and disorderly.
The preceding generation got along without it.
It’s a money making scene and some of these new music upstarts are lewd and loose.

…is not about modern worship music in terms of what has come out since 2010.  No, it’s not talking about worship music that came out after the year 2000 either…or the 1990s, the 1980s, or even the 1970s.  So when were these concerns published? 

These concerns were actually published by a church leader attacking Isaac Watts, writer of the hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”


In 1723.  


Monday, October 21, 2013

Guilt is Gone

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Isaiah 6.  I’ve studied this text many times as it is one of the models for worship that I was taught in school.  In this chapter we get to see the prophet Isaiah entering into the presence of the Lord.  There are a lot of really neat and powerful things that occur to Isaiah, but in today’s post I want to focus in on something that I’ve been missing until recently. 

It occurs in verse 7 when an angel of the Lord approaches Isaiah with a burning coal and Isaiah says He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”  The coal removes Isaiah’s guilt and his sins are forgiven.  Now, I’ve always focused on his sins being forgiven, because it’s a big deal.  When you truly come into the presence of God, you realize how sinful you are, but then those same sins are forgiven.  Pretty cool, right?  And so I’ve always kind of skipped over the guilt being removed part.  But I think that part is just as important.  How many times have you entered into a time of worship at church, felt the presence of God, and then left feeling convicted about some sin in your life.  I don’t believe it is supposed to be that way.  According to Isaiah 6, when we genuinely come into the presence of God, there is forgiveness of sins, but there is also the removal of guilt. 

So, where have we gone wrong?  I believe it is because even in the presence of God, we hold back from Him.  We don’t give Him every part of our being and so there is this guilt that is left after our worship experience is over.  Isaiah was completely broken (vs. 5) before the Lord.  He was broken physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.  Everything he had was laid before the throne of God.  We, on the other hand, tend to shy away from this type of experience with the Lord because it scares us.  We don’t want to be completely broken before God.  We’re scared of where it will take us.  We’re scared of looking embarrassed in front of others we’re around at the time.  And so we hold back.  We never give in to God.  And because of this we never get to experience the freedom that can be found in his forgiveness and removal of guilt.  Just think about it.  No more feeling guilty for the dumb things you’ve done.  Wow!  I’ll be honest and say that I need more of that.  Because when we are truly free from our sins and our past we can live our lives in the freedom and power of God.  And we can truly experience His presence in all of its glory!

Worship Big!


Monday, October 14, 2013

What's Your Excuse?

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about what to write when it came time to be the “blog writer.”  After much prayer and personal reflection it became clear that I should share some examples of true worship that have inspired me.  

In our Sunday school class we have been reading and studying the book “Unfinished” by Richard Stearns.  This book has been great and has driven home the fact that God is not finished with us, and that we are all created for a special purpose in God’s plan.  In chapter four, Richard tells a story of being part of a special worship service in 2010 while he was in Haiti.  On the front bench were six amputees…men, women, even a little six year old girl.  All of these people had lost a limb eleven months earlier in the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake.  One of these women was named Demosi.  Demosi led the choir and praised the Lord even though she had lost one arm and one leg.  Demosi led the choir with energy and clapped her one had to her shoulder to praise the Lord.  What an inspiration.  Demosi praised the Lord with all she had, what’s your excuse for not worshiping the one who gives you life?

About seven weeks ago I had one of those freak accidents.  I was working at my in-laws and needed to get in the downstairs garage but the door stuck.  In an effort to open the door my hand slipped and I stuck my arm through a thick glass window.  When I pulled my arm back out of the glass I said, “this ain’t good!” As I looked down to see what the damage was, I realized I could see the tendons in my left wrist and I knew it was serious.  I ultimately had cut three tendons in my left wrist and had to have surgery to repair the damage.  But God is good!  I have not been able to use my left hand for the past several weeks but last Wednesday I finally got to remove the brace and begin to use my hand for “light” duty.  During this ordeal I kept being reminded of Demosi and her story assured me that I still had a reason to praise and worship God.  You see I’m convinced that God spared my life, the surgeons said that I missed the main artery in my wrist by 1mm, that’s mighty close. Now every time I’m on stage, I have to ask myself the same question, “what’s your excuse” for not worshiping, I have no excuse and in fact I have a stronger reason to worship because God has chosen to leave me here for a reason.

There is a young 19 year old boy who lives in Virginia.  His name is George Dennehy and he was born in Romania with no arms.  George was adopted by a family in Virginia who has adopted a total of 9 children with serious birth defects.  Throughout George’s life, and the life of his adopted siblings, his parents have told him that “God made you this way and you have a purpose”.  George started playing the cello and he also plays the piano and guitar and he said that he realizes and knows that everything has a purpose and he now wants to be a worship leader at a church.   George’s talent is amazing, and truly God given.  To see him playing the guitar with his feet  and singing Hallelujah, brings tears to my eyes.  Of all the people in the world who could be “justified” for having an excuse not to worship, George would be close to the top of the list, be he realizes that he doesn’t have an excuse.  You see there is no excuse that will hold up on judgment day for not worshiping our Savior Jesus Christ. 

Here is a link to a video clip of George playing and singing Hallelujah.

Here is a link to George’s story.

In Luke 19:37-40 the Bible says, “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all of the miracles they had seen.  Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven and glory in the highest.  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”  “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out”. (NIV)
I believe Jesus is saying in these verses that because He is who they say He is, He is worthy of their praise.  You see, Jesus is God and He is worthy of all praise.  If we do not praise God then His very creation will praise Him.  You were created for a purpose and Jesus is worthy of our praise.  The next time that you are in a worship service and the Holy Spirit moves you to raise your hand, or shed a tear, or shout to the Lord, let it go, truly let go and give God the glory that he deserves!  

What’s your excuse for not praising the Lord?  You really don’t have one!

In Christ, 


Singer/ Bass player when I have a good hand