Sunday, September 26, 2010

Just Singing in Church - by David Brollier

I'm 58, so it may not come as a shock that I like the old hymns of the church. Let me give you some biographical background and some comments about worship services as I've seen them change over the years, and how it has affected those in the church and those in society.

Growing up we had hymnals, for you young people these are books with the songs written in them. We didn't have Power Point Presentations. We didn't have lighting affects. Depending on the congregation we had people in an orchestra who helped with the music. We didn't have professionally sounding music groups to lead the worship. Then again we didn't care, because we came to worship God.

The songs we sang were frequently over 100 years old, some much more so. We remembered to focus our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our Faith as we sang The Old Rugged Cross. We were comforted in times or hardship or loneliness as we sang What a Friend We Have in Jesus. We wept before the Lord as He wrapped His arms around us as we sang It Is Well (with my soul). Yes, the songs were old, but they were still coming from our hearts. My dad used to sing His Eye Is on the Sparrow as one of his favorite soloist numbers. One of mine has always been In the Garden. There's a line in that particular song that I love so much I would try to get the pianist to stop playing so the impact would be greater. It goes like this, "He speaks, and the sound of His voice, is so sweet the birds stopped their singing."

I'm not saying there aren't any good new songs. There are. I've come to know a few. When I was going to college there was a change in our music as a revival spread across the United States. People, some of you may classify me with them, would put down the new sound as being demonic or at least bad. Really, I'm not saying that, although if you have to leave the place where the music is being played because the music is so loud it literally is making you nauseous I think there needs to be some serious checking up. But see, I went to college in the early 70s and I bet most kids today can't recall a single song any of those bands sang back then. This isn't saying those songs were bad, but they were for a time, not for eternity. Somehow the Holy Spirit inspired many (not all mind you) of the hymns so they would span centuries and touch the hearts of people as if they were written this morning. They always seem fresh and new, even if they do include some "thees and thous".

I have a great friend in Barry McGuire. He sings from his heart. The first time I heard him he sang "It's a Happy Day" on a day that it was raining, but he meant every word of that song. Yet few people remember him for anything other than his hit Eve of Destruction. How tragic. Groups like Danny Taylor and the Children of Truth, Solid Rock, Maranatha Band, Love Song, Petra, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Micky and Becky, and many, many more are unknown to today's youth and they were the "contemporary Christian music giants" of their day.

So, here is what I have witnessed. There is, and has always been, a need for songs that are a bit lively, that speak to the current generation, but they will soon be forgotten as other groups are formed and other generations grow up. At the same time there has always been the need for the old hymns. You can't get much more basic than "On Christ the solid Rock I stand" when speaking about living a victorious Christian life. A Mighty Fortress Is Our God reminds me of Psalm 91. In other words there needs to be a balance. We, as a body of believers, need to stop playing games and focus on the Lord.

What exactly does that mean? Well, focus on the Lord and find out. If a false balance is an abomination to the Lord then how can you sing contemporary worship songs over and over (to the point they must make God sick)? How can you justify ONLY singing contemporary songs and not singing hymns. God, who never changes, nor does His Word, has said a false balance is an abomination to Him. This also means that those who only sing hymns and don't let the newer songs to be sung as well are as guilty as those who sing only contemporary songs and never hymns.

How do we maintain this balance? How do we worship God in our churches in a way that pleases Him? Jesus said, "He that worships the Father must worship in spirit and in truth." So I guess it's a matter of what your attitude is. The new songs have a way of giving us a new insight into some old truths, and this is good. Yet the old songs have a way of giving us in insight into the unchangeable faithfulness of God and His love. Both are needed.

In a recent conversation with my cousin he related something rather interesting. Working with the 2nd Chapter of Acts he spoke with them and learned that during a recording session of their hymns album Annie Herring broke down and cried during the first song. I forget what the name of the song was, but it was an old hymn of the church. Through her tears she looked up and said something like, "This is so beautiful. Who wrote this?" She didn't realize it had been written a hundred years ago. As she was broken by the Lord the Holy Spirit filled that studio and worked out a miracle. Known for their fast-paced, but heart-felt music, the 2nd Chapter of Acts, by the power of the Holy Spirit, turned out a specially anointed album of the old hymns. I wonder how many other Christian artists have also been moved by these old hymns, even if it means writing something more contemporary (in their mind) that comes from their heart.

We, as a Body of Christ, should embrace all music that glorifies the Lord. Let's forget about how many instruments are playing or whether we are using overheads, flatscreen TVs or hymnals and focus on the Lord of Glory. Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever. We aren't. Our music isn't. So let us stop slapping a bunch of garbage on top of the music we have, old or new, and worship our Heavenly Father in spirit and in truth, and as we do, don't be surprised if something in that song reaches down and touches your heart, bringing you to teaches, drawing you closer to Him. For He said that if we would draw closer to Him He would draw closer to us. Now that's something to sing about. (Do I hear Nearer My God to Thee being sung?)

Getting Things Straight

I get all kinds of emails from Christians around the world. Those I receive from those in the US are disturbing. They talk about how anti-Christian President Obama is and propose various ideas and legislations to bring us back to a Christian society. Hang in there and you'll understand why this is disturbing.

In God's Word King Solomon received this promise from the Lord, "If my people, which are called by my name, 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." (2nd Chronicles 7:14)

That sounds like a map to get us back to where we need to be, but it's only part of the map. We actually have to humble ourselves. We actually have to pray and see the face of God. We actually have to turn from our wicked ways if we want God to "forgive their sin and heal their land."

Now there are many out there that will say, "That's what I'm doing." This is where the other side of the coin is revealed. In the Chronicles and the Kings we have a list of kings from David up until they are led captive in Babylon. Some kings were good, and did what was right. Most did that which was evil. One good king, I believe it was Joash, King of Judah (you see already their evil had spit the nation) ordered the cleaning out of the Temple to make it worthy of the Lord. While they were cleaning out all the garbage, the idols, the things that belonged to other idols, men found the book of the Law. We would know this as the Torah or the books of Moses. They brought it back and read it before the king. Now pay attention. As they were reading this the king tore his clothes and fell (I believe) on his face. The very reading of the Law showed him how evil he was, even though he did that which was right. He ached for the people he ruled over and destroyed all the idols, grinding them into dust. Then he had the books of the Law read before all the people and the priests and Levites cleansed themselves and began to offer up sacrifices for the people.

You may be scratching your head, wondering why I'm bringing up this ancient history. The reason is simple. As long as we try to blame someone else for the troubles we are in we are part of the problem. Until we truly humble ourselves before God, how can we turn from our evil ways? If we do not turn from our evil ways, we, the CHURCH, then our nation will continue to come under the persecution of God. It's not that God likes persecution, but He wants us to come to Him.

Many in our churches are writing their own rules, their own laws. Our hearts have grown hard. While certain people may be doing harm to this nation, they can do no greater harm than we, who call ourselves Christian, and act in ways that do not seek God out or fail to humble ourselves before our Maker. You see, God sets all authorities over us. That means President Obama and all the rest. I'm not saying they are right. I'm saying that God has sent us into our own Babylon by appointing people who would increase the burdens on our back.

Do you see it? Jeremiah prophesied this, as did Isaiah, and a number or others. Are we greater than Israel that God would stand aside for our "democracy"? We are in contempt of His court, and unless we get things right with Him they will only get worse.

The way back is through a veil of tears. Each of us must listen to the law of love that Christ spoke of, and remember that God is Love. How far have we fallen from our first love? What is in store for us if we do not return? These are the things we should be directing our energies to.

Not Political

There are lot of angry people out there following the 2012 election results. While I can understand why they are angry I also realize that anger may be one of the things that is pinning us down in this society.

Fact 1: Just about every news outlet has shown us just how poorly Pres. Barrack Obama has led this nation. He has apologized to people who are our enemies, and have stated that after Israel we are next to be destroyed. This should be scary to say the least.
Fact 2: Obama has driven the country's debt higher than all previous presidents combined.
Fact 3: It is obvious that Obama does not want the people to have the right to make their own decisions. Perhaps the South was right to secede from the Union in 1860. Some people get the idea that the Civil War was about freeing the slaves. While that did become a factor, the real issue was State Sovereignty, and I think they were right in that.
Fact 4: While we have the privilege to vote for the candidate of our choice it is actually God who establishes authorities over us. How God does that is in direct proportion to the way we, as Christians, have, or have not obeyed Him. Currently God has handed us over to a cruel task-master.

So what does all this mean? Why am I bringing this up? I am bringing this up because there are worse things than a president bound to destroy our nation. Many of you may disagree with me on that. It seems to me that as long as you and I regard this nation as the top of our priorities then we will continue to be angry and bitter with our president. This is such a crazy thing to do.

One person shared with me that unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger directed towards anyone, is like wishing they would die and taking the poison ourselves. This is what America is currently doing. We are taking poison in hopes that some other person dies or is incapacitated in their duties, in this case, President Obama.

As Christians we are to forgive, even as Jesus forgave us. Do you think that you, by your own hand, find any goodness in the eyes of God? If you do then you better change your way of thinking. Scripture tells us that there is none righteous, no not one, and that Jesus offered Himself up to die for us that we might be seen righteous through Him. Dare we think any less for the one God has placed over us?

I do not agree with Obama. I believe nearly all his policies are corrupt and seems almost calculated to destroy the United States. And yet I forgive him, with the help of the Holy Spirit. For if I rebel against Obama I am rebelling against God.

The Bible says, "If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, seek My face and turn from their wicked ways then shall I hear from Heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land."

Time is working against us. It flies by like a barn swallow. If we do not repent now, we may never have the chance. The cup of God's wrath is already being filled. People have warped His words to support their own deviant behaviors; anger, drunkenness, sexual lust, and yes homosexuality. These also we must uphold in prayer and forgiveness. I have friends who are homosexuals, but they know my beliefs as well. I don't preach to them, nor do I put them down. People are people.

For instance, the shooting in Connecticut have nothing to do with guns or mental disabilities. It has to do with the presence of evil, and we must realize that this evil exist in all of us. The evil in one may provoke the evil in another. Jesus came into the world for this very purpose, to destroy that evil in us, but He can only do so to those who respond to Him.

While I would normally be writing about the birth of Christ and the miracles that surrounded that birth I believe it is more important to remind you, to remind me, that God is God. I'm not. Therefore I have an obligation to forgive anyone who has slighted me, and that includes the President. In fact, look at your life and pray for every person God has placed over you. Only as we seek His face and repent can we find the healing of God on this nation

Psalm 23