Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Is the music in your life good or a god?

The worship leaders and I subscribe to this blog, Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin.  This is an excellent and thought provoking post.  He describes how music in the life of the Christian can go from being good to being a god.  In this post he describes five indicators this may be happening in the life of a Christ follower.  A must read!

Posted: 21 Dec 2010 01:28 PM PST
musicBack in November I had the privilege of speaking at the Christian Musician Summit in Seattle, WA. In one of the main sessions, I spoke on the topic of Music:  Gift or God? and mentioned that I’d post my notes on my blog. I had forgotten until someone emailed me the other day asking for them. So here’s what I shared…
Music is a very good gift. The 13,000 songs on my iTunes are testimony to that. My eyes have often welled up in tears as I’ve been affected by a lyric, a chord progression, or a musical texture. I’ve thanked God for the gift of music more times than I can remember.
Whenever I think about my love for music, I’m reminded of what Martin Luther said in a Foreword to a 1538 collection of chorale motets:
“I, Doctor Martin Luther, wish all lovers of the unshackled art of music grace and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ! I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God… A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.”
But Scripture tells us that often gifts can become gods. Good things can become idols.
In Numbers 21, the Israelites grumbled against God and it resulted in him sending poisonous serpents. When they confessed their sin and repented, God had Moses cast a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. Anyone who looked at the serpent would live. It was a good gift. But later on in 2Kings 18 we read that Israel had been making offerings to the serpent, and even gave it a name - Nehushtan.
Good gifts can become gods.
Music turns from a gift to a god when we look to it for the joy, comfort, power & satisfaction only God can give. Here are 5 indicators that might be happening.
1. We choose to attend a church or a meeting based on the music rather than the preaching of the gospel and God’s word.
Nowhere in the Bible are we told that the church is to gather around music. We gather around the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ. We gather to hear God’s Word in the Spirit’s power. Eph. 2:13-14 says the blood of Christ unites us, not music.
2. We can’t worship in song apart from a particular song, style, leader, or sound.Anytime I say, I can’t worship unless X happens, or X is present, unless X is the death of our Savior on the cross for our sins or the power of his Spirit, we are engaging in idolatry. At that moment, X is more important to us than God’s command to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. That doesn’t mean that there are no bad songs, lousy leaders, or inappropriate styles. But being discerning is different from being unable to worship God at all.
3. We think music leads us into or brings God’s presence.Here’s what music can do. It can affect us emotionally. Create a mood. Soften our hearts so that we listen more intently. Help us hear words differently. Distract us from what’s going on. Help us focus on what’s going on. Help us remember words. And more.
Here’s what music can’t do. Make God more present. Bring God’s presence down. Bring us into God’s presence. Manipulate God. (Heb. 10:19-22; 1 Tim. 2:5).  There is only one mediator, and it’s not a song, style, leader, or sound. It’s Jesus Christ.
4. Poor musical performance leads us to sin against other band members or the musicians leading us.We’re hardly representing God’s heart when we get angry, frustrated, or impatient with musicians who don’t play up to our standards. God’s standards are perfection, and they’ve been met in Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life in our place and died as our substitute, enduring the wrath of God in our place. ALL our offerings, no matter how well or poorly offered, are perfected through the once and for all offering of the Savior. We can strive for excellence to serve others, while extended to others the same grace we’ve received.
5. A love for music has replaced a love for the things of God.
It’s possible to listen to music that’s destroying your soul and be completely dull to it. To become enslaved by an idol and you feel like you’re breaking free. In his confessions, Augustine said “For he loves thee too little who loves along with thee anything else that he does not love for thy sake.” I have no doubt we love music. But do we love music for God’s sake or for ours?
To sum up:
Music is useful, but not necessary.
Music is good. But Jesus is better.
Music is a gift, but not a god.
Music isn’t my life. Christ is.
The gifts of God are meant to deepen our relationship with God and create fresh affection for him. Not replace him.
May we enjoy and make music to the fullest of our abilities, all for the glory of the one who gave it to us to enjoy in the first place.
You can download a more expanded copy of my notes here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Scriptural Metaphors - Forgiveness

I am reading a great book, 'Forgiveness' by Gary Inrig, in preparation for last weeks message.  It is the the best book I have read on forgiveness both for his content and his stories that he uses to illustrate the truth he is communicating.  He gave the following list of scriptural metaphors describing forgiveness (I meant to read them Sunday but forgot).  I trust they will impact you as much or more than they did me!

Old Testament
He drowns them
He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Mic 7:19 ESV)
He erases them
"I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. “  (Isa 43:25)
He dissolves them
“I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isa 44:22 ESV) 
He puts them behind his back
Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back. (Isa 38:17 ESV)
He forgets them
“And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jer 31:34 ESV)
He covers them
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Ps 32:1 ESV)
He does no record them
“Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” (Ps 32:2 ESV)
He totally removes them
“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psa 103:12 ESV)

New Testament
He forgives them
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” (Eph 1:7 ESV)
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:13 ESV)
He wipes them out and erases them
“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3:19 ESV)
He takes them on himself
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1Pe 2:24 ESV)
He does not charge them to our account
“That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (2Co 5:19 ESV) ESV 
He charges them to Christ’s account
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2Co 5:21 ESV)
He nails them to the cross
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Col 2:13-14 ESV)

He purges us from them
“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Heb 1:3 ESV)
He does away with and puts away our sin
“For then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb 9:26 ESV)
“You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.” (1Jo 3:5 ESV)
He cleanses us and purifies us from them
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1Jo 1:7 ESV)
He sets us free from them
“From Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Rev 1:5-6 ESV)

Friday, December 10, 2010

How are you receiving the truth?

"And he said to them, "Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." (Mar 4:24-25 ESV)
This is a warning and a promise to would be disciples to listen carefully - with a willing and receptive heart.  It is a heart that is hungry for the truth of God, that wants to know and live the truth.  That is kind of heart that the gospel seed can take root and flourish.  But it is also applicable to disciples (James 1:22-23).  Take heed to how we hear.   The condition of your heart determines what you hear, how much you hear, how much you understand about the Kingdom, and most importantly, how much the message takes hold of you and transforms your heart.  That is no small matter.  And listening applies to any time we sit under the word - in our bible reading as well as listening to preaching.  The more you welcome it and embrace it the more you will receive insight and blessing and transformation.  That includes both this age and the age to come (Eph 2:7).

What can I do about the condition of my heart?  Pray that God opens our eyes to see wonderful things in his word (Ps 119:18) and pray that he inclines your heart to obey his word (Ps 119:112).  Then be diligent to listen intently and apply the truth to your life!