Truth in advertising is rare. For the entirety of my life, I have witnessed various individuals declare airbrushed and photoshopped models giving unrealistic images of the human ideal. The hamburgers I receive at the local drive thru are seldom as attractive as their distant cousin on television. The side salad always lacks the morning dew droplets seen in the print ad. My new athletic shoes encouraged me to "Just do it", but were no help in the pursuit.
I would feel bad if it were not expected. They present a product that is too good to be true, with a warranty too great to believe, so I will give them more money than its worth, so they can afford to present me the new version in six months. This way of altering reality is not restricted to burgers and shoes. Brides and husbands to be work out and diet like Olympic athletes for the sake of wedding photos. And yes sir, everyone knows it is a toupee at the thirty year reunion. You were bald at seventeen.
Fun aside for a moment, I love the church. Whether it be with noisy folding chairs, hard wooded pews, luxurious theatre seating, or cool green grass worshipping by the campfire, I love church. I find myself uncomfortable with doctrinal photoshopping for the sake of staying "relevant." Removing stretch marks from a model's arm or leg has zero eternal impact. Removing the baptism of the Holy Ghost a significant edit.
To make the church more attractive by blurring out her strength, might, power, and voice is foolish. It would seem that the same mindset that allows for advertisers to create a fantasy to sell you food, clothes and perfume is invading Christian evangelism. The Bride of Christ is not in need of retouch work. Only to be washed with God's word instead of human opinion. The Church is beautiful, and I love her.
We've all seen the fuzzy, big-haired, pink Boa-clad portraits that mall photographers are constantly pumping out. They never represent the models personality or values. I am convinced that when we tell the unchurched the power, love, joy, peace, and freedom that Christ has for them through the Church revival will sweep the land. We must never apologize for the gifts or fruit of The Spirit. healing, prosperity, holiness, righteousness, sanctification, prophesy and the other manifestations of God, in and through us, are not moles or wrinkles. We must pursue God's image and purpose for the corpoarate church. The methods of communication may change but His word and promises will not.
Reading God's word reveals what we should be as the church. No additions, edits, or subtractions needed. Christ thought the church was worth dying, resurrecting, and soon returning for. We must not filter her true image and power. Photoshop is not needed.
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2Chronicles 7:14 If My People, upon whom My name is called, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
As a worship leader, there are many passages granting keys to more intimate personal worship. There are remarkably few that point us to what we will call revival worship. Our nation is in dire need of authentic culture shaping revival. To achieve this, we must be willing to do what God requires.
Notice the first word is “if.” The healing and revitalization of our nation is not guaranteed. We have a choice. I am convinced we are not waiting on God; He is waiting on those that call themselves by His name to step out of pride. To pray and seek the face of one greater than one’s self requires quite a bit of humility. These are key to revival worship.
A slow song is not a worship song simply because it is slow. An acoustic guitar played over a soothing string pad does not guarantee God’s presence. There must be a humble acknowledgement of His incomparable greatness and worth. We must acknowledge that He alone is God and worthy of our personal and corporate worship.
Seeking God’s face takes time and focus. If the worship leader is more concerned with lights and compressors than sincerity and passion for revival, they are a hireling and a great distraction from the church’s purpose. If the ministry is only for the entertainment and pacification of the people, revival is not a foreseeable end. One cannot pursue evil, sin, and God. Holiness must be sought if we truly want a move of God.
A packed building does not mean revival, but revival does pack buildings. Compromise will always short circuit revival. Nothing else satisfies a true revival hunger other than true revival. A watered down gospel may fill a stadium with people seeking fantasy but it will not give them the power to stand in the day of adversity. Paper umbrellas are always a bad idea.
I am praying for brothers and sisters willing to sing, play, preach, and serve God with the ferocious humility that will allow God to lead us in the paths of righteousness. Our goals, visions, and ministries must serve the cause of revival. Please send me songs, videos, paintings, sketches, and other expressions based around the theme of regional, national and, or, global revival that you would like me to post or send me links to your works. The fire must start in hearts and be spread to the next. Tag, it is your turn to pass the fire along.
1. Devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated.
2. entitled to veneration or religious respect by association with divinity or divine things; holy.
3. Pertaining to or connected with religion (opposed to secular or profane): sacred music; sacred books.
4. Reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object: a morning hour sacred to study.
5. Regarded with reverence: the sacred memory of a dead hero.
6. Secured against violation, infringement, etc., as by reverence or sense of right: sacred oaths; sacred rights.
7. Properly immune from violence, interference, etc., as a person or office.
(Definitions courtesy of dictionary.com)
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
For most of history, there has been a distinction between the sacred and the secular. One was not required to read the lyric sheet to determine if the song was for the glory of God or man. The savior that died for all was afforded a grander musical expression of love than the dark-eyes barmaid that caught the composer’s eye. I am convinced that God’s desire to be special has not reduced or ebbed. It is man that deemed God will be content receiving whatever we give as worship. Being a friend of the one omnipotent, true and living God does not necessitate an irreverent approach to His presence.
I included the above definition to help us determine if we truly hold God as sacred. In an age where intimate fellowship with the Most High God is wonderfully being heralded throughout the church, we must not relinquish the reverence and honor that is the trademark of all that have ever encountered Jehovah God. God is still holy and must be treated as such.
The entertainment industry is never embarrassed by its constant plunge into the glorification of hedonism and sin. Why should we follow them on the path away from the word of God? We will never be trendier than the trend makers or more stylish than the style makers. When we, in pursuit of God’s presence of God, throw off the yokes of insecurity concerning our innate peculiarity the world will pattern itself after us. The church must not be held hostage by the desires of man. God’s house must be a place where He, and He alone, receives honor and glory.
What does this have to with music and worship? Everything! If more effort and weight are given to the whims of man, the music was for man. If the objective is exalting God for sake of coming closer to Him, one is worshipping. We cannot offer God a watered down version of what the world uses to satisfy is lust and craving and consider it an acceptable sacrifice. God is constantly releasing new sounds and textures through His people that are pure and undefiled. Though there are no hard rules as to what defines a sacred work in the modern era, play amazing grace and everyone knows it is for God.
The greatest works of music came when men and women gave God music to please Him. I pray we pursue sacredness over palatability to the carnal nature of man. God is ready to pour out more of His sounds, timbres, textures, harmonies, and rhythms. He is just waiting for us to stop dancing to the world’s drummer.
Over the course of my career and ministry, I have had the privilege to serve various types of leaders. The two I will focus on are Sauls and Davids. The excitement of starting in ministry combined with my lack of real world wisdom made me highly susceptible to blindly fighting giants. As clarification, I never had a spear chucked, but I did have a pastor point to his gun to remind me he was the boss.
As the young hotshot, I couldn't see how doing what I was asked to do would be a declaration of war. The movement that was never embraces the movement that will be. It would behoove you to serve under a pastor that has a true vision from God. This can generally be sniffed out with ease. The anointing passes from one generation to the next. Ask who mentored them. If they claim to be self made you are dealing with a Saul. If they speak of a life serving God and His people, you have greatly upped your chances of having discovered a David. Watch how they deal with people of less prominent position. If they cannot speak to the custodian or their children disdane extravagant expressions of worship, run away.
Find a pastor that never feels they've outgrown worship. A pastor that will not lift their hands and sing the praises of God is far to holy for mere mortals like us to incumber with the task of pleasing God. Worship is a lesser giving honor to a greater. Pastor Walter Hallam's teaching on the Luciferian spirit is a must have for anyone wondering why worship is stifled in the presence of pride and arrogance. As a side note, Pastor Hallam still sings and plays the piano in services. Not all the time, but frequently enough that the congregation sees their leader passionately pursuing God's presence. He doesn't just preach the word, my pastor lives it.
If you crave revival, find a church leader that values the voice of God more than the rush of preaching. A David doesn't see praise and worship as the warm up band. I've witnessed my pastor dancing before the Lord with childlike abandon. Ever wonder why Abundant Life Christian Center has so many miracles? The point man of the house loves God more than fame. It's easy to compose music in and for a church that wants to see God move in might and power. Pastors with a heart after God are always excited by the presence and glory of God. As long as God's will is done, they are pleased.
Music ministry is not a career, it is a calling. If you desire to be one of a countless number of kingdom hirelings, nothing I've written will impact you. When the wolves and storms come you will just find another "gig". If you feel you are called to co-labour with a pastor to help care for God's people, please strive to ignore the financial promises of the established Sauls. Long-term it will benefit you to follow a David to a cave or storefront. I am a witness that God will bless your obedience. I've been on many very large platforms because I was willing and obedient. Follow the leaders that truly follow Christ. God will make sure your faithfulness is rewarded
Being a child of the 80s, I am blessed to remember the Curl, polyester choir robes, Dr. King fans, and central air conditioning being a luxury at churches. Sister Fanny Bradley singing all the verses to the hymns that carried a people from slavery, through Jim Crow laws, to a new day where the promise of equality and freedom are close at hand. No one is being arrested for preaching holiness and divine healing. Receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost will no longer cost your your job. God had come through. Big cars and fine houses were on both sides of the tracks. Faith had won a great victory.
Like the children of Israel, it was deemed appropriate to relax the standards of holiness, sanctification, and fellowship that seemed so vital before we arrived in the promised land of modern America. The time of dependance on God had passed. Christ became a bridge of troubled water instead of Lord of All. As the object of worship becomes less sacred and significant, the music and other elements of adoration follow suit. Secular humanism is often laid at the feet of atheist philosophers. I believe it only gets traction when the church begins to acknowledge a form of godliness but denies the power there of. Miracles and signs and wonders follow faith filled preaching of God's word. If God is not allowed to move freely in the places that claim to be His home something is amiss. The real threat to the body of Christ is not post-World War One cynics but a church that disallows true worship that will invite the manifest glory of God.
In the past few decades many churches have made an overt effort to mold the church into the image of human comfort instead of presenting the transforming word of God. The word of God must not be confined to the sermon. If we are singing the praises of who we are instead of who Christ is, and expecting His presence, there is a great deception. If we offer a sacrifice of praise based on the forms and trends of secular idol worship, we offer an unworthy sacrifice.
Psalm 33:3 Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.
God deserves more than fatigued leftovers from pop music. the word used for new can also be translated as fresh. Leftovers and retreads are not fresh. Let's pursue a new sound for God. A sacred sound. Sincerity, truth, and honor bring us close to God. God is unmoved and utterly unimpressed with trends. Worship the preferences of people and they will come near. Worship the God whose miracles and life-changing power will bring all you need and He will come near. God is all you need. Worship Him.
I learned to play the piano sitting at the piano of New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ. Please note that this was during service. Hunting and praying that my, as of this point, unskilled hands would find more correct keys than wrong. My faith level was not high enough to receive these miracles. The patience necessary to allow me to develop as a musician is mind-blowing. Bishop T.L, and the late Mother Lois Westbrook had a vision to grow and develop skilled musicians. For years my instrumental deficits were tolerated in hope of that my proficiency would catch up with my faithfulness.
It was my post to play for the end of Sunday school. I have played father Abraham in every imaginable style. I doubt this version of me would have enjoyed my graduate composition recital, but he would have politely listened and counted ceiling tiles to stay awake. Without my blunderings through Psalty songs, my rendering of Psalm 82 would not have been possible. At this point, my stroll down memory lane must seem silly. There is a very compelling reason.
Men like Dr. James Brown, Marc Logan and David Hart made time to teach me a chord here and there. Their informal, yet powerful, grooming helped get me propel me forward. As the grandchild of two very hard couples, I hate debt. I owe a huge debt to the church for letting me learn to sing, play. write, arrange, and love music. To pay this off, I need your help. Since many sowed into my musical development, I am seeking musicians looking for music ministry mentoring.
I Chronicles 25:4 speaks to being skilled and trained in music. I believe in one generation we can equip enough artist to reduce or eliminate the use of hirelings on church platforms. Paying those that labor for the sake of propelling the vision of the local church forward is very scriptural. Hiring those unwilling to help train the next generation is a poor use of funds and a crippling mistake.
If you are called, you must study. Realize music ministry is more than playing or singing well. I must pass on what I have learned over the last 25 years. I encourage you to look into attending the Abundant Life School of Ministry
and studying music with me. Learn the Bible, ministry,, and mentor with someone determined to see you equipped to lead the church into its next renaissance. God has placed great gifts in You, a teacher's heart in me. I look forward to seeing you become what God predestined. A culture changing, God-empowered artist.
I am here to help. Empower me to enhance your musical and ministerial pursuits.
I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.
(Psalms 116:1-2 KJV)
The modern church is having much debate over why we love God. Some believe it is because we are predestined to love or reject Christ with little to no actual choice. Others believe we love God because we go to hell if we don't. i tend to disagree with both of these positions. We are destined to love God but we can choose not to accept his unending love. Additionally fear is not an ingredient to love.
As artist we must know what we are trying to express before we can aptly express it. I'm convinced that falling in love with Jesus a choice made simple. He is listening for our voice. If you check the word translated as "inclined" in verse 2, we discover a stretching out on the God's part. The psalmist believes, and i wholeheartedly agree, that we love love God because he made the effort to open up a path for true communication. We are not hoping Jesus hears us, we are sure of it.
Note that it is not the collective WE God is listening for. He is paying attention ot your voice, prayers, requests. You have the attention of the most high God. To guarantee His ability to not just hear, but to answer our cries, He sent His Son to die for us at Calvary. This stated, I love God because He loved me enough to send His son to repair the breech between us. He made step one, I can easily open my heart and love to one that already proved His love for me. Therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.
These verses set to music by Richard Smallwood and sung powerfully by Whitney Houston and the Georgia Mass Choir are a great encouragement to me. I pray it will bless you.
1Chronicles 25:1 Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was:
1Chronicles 25:2 Of the sons of Asaph; Zaccur, and Joseph, and Nethaniah, and Asarelah, the sons of Asaph under the hands of Asaph, which prophesied according to the order of the king.
When King David established the temple worship in Second Chronicles 25, there is an oft overlooked principle. They prophesied under the order of the King. In the context of the modern local church this is the senior pastor. It is simple and safe to make this assertion that the five fold ministry,(Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Evangelists, and Teachers) are placed in leadership for a reason. That reason is safety and order.
Prophesy is a powerful tool that should be defined, understood, and utilized in the church. Due to fear and or a lack of knowledge, prophesy has been removed from most worship services. Many pray for restoration of Davidic worship but outside of the structure that scripture defines. I am convinced the two are inseparable. If we want the manifestation recorded in 2 Chronicles 5:12-14, we must follow the biblical template.
Pastors: I strongly encourage you to be very cautious in selecting your worship staff. A pretty voice, charisma, and cool arrangements are not the central elements of worship. High notes impress people, but not God. God is moved by faith. Faith is demonstrated in obedience. Therefore, Sensitivity and obedience to the leading of the Holy Ghost will be far more advantageous than a cool hair and trendy clothes. If you cannot trust your worship leader to carry your heart and vision, replace them immediately. Worship is too important to the ministry that God will hold you accountable for to entrust to individuals you cannot trust to follow your lead.
Worshippers: It is not restricting to serve under the vision of your local church. Refuse to allow pride to pull you out of your destiny. There are individuals called to be the next superstar, but God get little to no glory from that. Force yourself to pursue God and His heart and neglect selfish ambition. After all, ministry is serving. You are needed not to make pretty sounds. Never see yourself as the warm up act for ministry. Worship is ministry. Prophesy.
Note that I didnt specify singers. Custodians, ushers, sound people, and nursery workers play a huge part in the worship experience. I am sure your pastor, as mine does often. recognizes and appreciates your sacrifice and significance. Whether prophesying through a new song or speaking words of life over a new born, you are propelling the kingdom of God forward. I thank you.
In conclusion, support your pastor and the vision of your local church. Open your gift and ministry up to the powerful leading of the Holy Ghost. See powerful manifestations of God. God gave us a blueprint, let's follow it.
For years, I've been told what can and cannot happen in church music. Not by my Pastor, Walter Hallam, but by those refusing to embrace the "now" move of God. My whole life I've been troubled to hear how this ethereal menace called The World was stealing the church's best and brightest. This is untrue. God has given us a generation full of holy, talented, integrous,gifted, and anointed young people. Will we make excuses or help them hone their crafts? I believe we are called, destined, and compelled to teach, train, encourage, mentor, discipline, and love a generation in an unending renaissance of the arts in the Kingdom of God.
I recently released my first solo CD I'll Serve You. Though I am very pleased with how it turned out musically, my greater joy is unrelated to units sold. Several young people's eyes were opened to the deception of a musical generation gap. It is not, nor has it ever been, our music verses there music. There is just music.
Young rappers and worship leaders seeking a higher level of musical understanding. Singers crying out to learn to breathe properly. Budding producers demanding historical context to the great albums of generations past. I feel like Simeon after spending time when these amazingly zealous musicians. They carry Jesus.
I've seen the move of God in their eyes and they see it in mine. Hymns to Hip-Hip. Rock to R&B. Classical to Controlled Chaos. God is bringing all His children into the camp. We must receive our diverse brothers and sisters with open arms. Chances are their expression is key to us having a fuller understanding of what God is seeking from our worship.
With the guidance of my Pastor, and the assistance of our incredible team, we will play our part in equipping and empowering a generation to touch God through the arts. To have this spread I need friends, allies, and partners to explore the topic of arts in the church. For example, does it bother anyone else that the blues section on iTunes is integrated but Christian music is still segregated?
The master's degree program in music at Eastern Washington University forced me to examine the ins and outs of music theory, history, performance and cultural impact. Let's remove the blinders of complacency and pursue excellence in arts. This will require honest, but respectful discourse concerning how we minister as dancers, painters, writers, sculptors, singers, instrumentalists, sound personnel, lighting designers, graphic artist and makers of peanut brittle and popcorn balls.
Theory and practical application of our crafts is a need I hear from Christian artist from coast to coast and churches of 15 people to 30,000. We can sharpen each other and develop a community of diverse artist with a single goal. Exalting our Savior with excellence.
If this is a worthy venture, leave comments, sign for the RSS feed and pursue this journey with me.
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