Influence

The Scripture says, “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 3:8). These are the words of the Apostle Paul to the church at Thessalonica. They reflect the heartbeat of the great church-planting Apostle concerning the churches he established. In his absence, the greatest monument of gratitude for his investment in their lives was their steadfastnesses in the midst of tribulation (I Thes. 3:4-7), their charity (I Thes. 3:6), their faith (I Thes. 3:6), their testimony (I Thes. 1:8), and their anticipation of Christ’s return (I Thes. 1:10). No wonder the Apostle John said, “For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (III John 3-4) 

Great men have children, and what brings those great men joy is that those same children walk in truth! Paul’s epistles themselves display the trophies of grace on the mantle of his ministry. As Timothy stood fast in the Lord and continued in that which Paul delivered to him (II Timothy 3:1-11), Paul lived! Even after Paul’s earthly life was over, he continued to live through the obedience of his disciples. Did not the writer of Hebrews say of Abel’s obedience, “[He] offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it be being dead yet speaketh”? (Hebrews 11:4). 

Distilled down into one Bible truth, the illustrations above are all about influence. Timothy cannot joy in his obedience. Abel cannot boast of his sacrifice. The church at Thessalonica cannot gloat of their reputation. Gaius cannot personalize the glory of the Beloved’s adulation. All of their glory was in Jesus Christ and the human instruments God used to deliver that body of truth we call “the faith” to them. Jude said, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3). 

When someone makes kind remarks regarding your standing fast in the Lord, to whom do you give credit? Yourself, or the human instrument God used to “expound unto you the way of God more perfectly”? (Acts 18:26). 

As a trepidatious, fourteen year-old teenager, I walked into the home of Dr. Earl Holloway. Dr. Holloway was the director of our Bible college’s choir and also taught private voice lessons in his home. He had come to my hometown after his second “retirement” from the music ministry, but retirement from influence and discipleship was not in God’s will for his life. 

Dr. Holloway was classy. Reared on the banks of the Red River in Adams, Tennessee, he developed a love for the opera as a young boy. Enthralled by the sounds of the Metropolitan Opera, he sat spell-bound near the radio on Saturday evenings as he listened to the greatest voices of his day. His love for music became a hot pursuit of it. Receiving a quarter every weekend from his father, those twenty-five cents afforded him a round-trip train ride to Nashville, a hamburger, and a music lesson in the city. Those were the beginnings of something wonderful the Lord was doing in his heart. 

Entering his home that day, all that I saw was an old man. I was too immature and too ignorant to see what the Lord had done for him on the train tracks of life from Middle Tennessee to East Tennessee. However, the steps of that good man were ordered by the Lord, and the Lord delighted in his way. 

Impeccably dressed and impressively articulate, he lovingly and graciously picked me apart that day. The song of the hour was “No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus.” If I remember correctly, I did not reach the chorus that day. If I could not get it right, we did not go further, because “It’s for the Lord, Daniel,” and the Lord deserves our best! I shamefully admit, I hated that first session and promised myself never to return! He hurt my feelings and so bruised my country twang that it never fully recovered! However, I did go back. For six years, I went back. I went back until he became the dearest person in the world to me. 

After his family, for good reason, had taken his driver’s license away, I went back to pick him up for church. I went back until I could tell his stories, finish his jokes, and do things just his way. 

A few years later, I went back to see a dying man. Not long after retiring his director’s baton, he took his peaceful journey to Glory. Again, I went back. I went to pay my profuse respects to that dear man of God, and I report that even to this day, he being dead yet speaketh. He vicariously lives through my ministry. When conducting my choir, singing a solo, giving voice lessons or even in conversing with others, he still speaks. He influenced me so earnestly that, like Timothy, I fully knew his doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith and charity. 

So, I turn my previously asked question on my own head: When someone makes kind remarks regarding my standing fast in the Lord, to whom do I give credit? If I were to be honest, all the glory goes to the Lord Jesus Christ and to Dr. Earl Holloway, the human instrument God used to expound unto me the way of God more perfectly. Man worship, you say? Not at all! The Lord Jesus said of Mary, “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” (Mark 14:9). 

You see, it is all about influence. I thank the Lord for the day Dr. Holloway became my musical influence. I am a debtor to his investment in my life. 

He taught me the principle of excellence 

He believed that our music is for the Lord and that we should always do our best. He was a staunch believer in the excellence of the music minister. He believed that our attire ought to reflect a reverence for God. Among his quotable quotes is my personal favorite and oft-used expression, “It doesn’t cost much more to go first-class!” 

He taught me to sing like a man. He would say, “Think big, son! Think big!” Excellence also means memorizing the lyrics, even to Handel’s “Messiah.” He would say to the choir, “Beloved, put your music away!” It is for the Lord! 

He taught me the principle of kindness 

To him, everyone could sing. I said, “Mr. Holloway, I am not so sure about that!” “Nonsense,” he said, “God gave everyone a voice to sing!” 

He taught me that “my wife may not always be right, but she is never wrong!” He gave me three words to keep my home a happy place, “I was wrong. I’m sorry, and I love you!” He built me with the bricks of encouragement. Even when I felt like he was “blowing smoke,” I did so earnestly want to believe that what he believed about me was true! 

Lastly, he taught me the principle of balance 

He opened my eyes to great music within the color prism of what is Christ-honoring, Biblically- accurate, and distinctively-sacred. Growing up in country churches, my worldview was very limited. We sang out of the old red-back “Church Hymnal” and canonized its pages. I still value that music to this day, but I am grateful that Dr. Holloway came my way and gave me a telescope to see a giant galaxy of godly music hidden from my view. 

He is now in Heaven, but I am still here. Now, I sit in the seat of influence. Oh, how cautious and Christ-like I ought to be! 

You see, young ears are developing a conviction of right and wrong by what we allow them to hear. The next generation of Christian leaders sit in our college classrooms. In none of our halls of Bible training may the attitude be adopted that we can flirt with contemporary, man- centered worship and still produce a holy progeny of preachers! 

What our soloists sing in moderation in the pulpit will be adopted in excess by those in the pews! If we date the world and its music, we are soon to adulterate true worship! 

May every pastor, choir director, music teacher, church soloist, congregational pianist, and Christian worker think soberly today on this thought: What manner of legacy am I leaving behind, and to what destination will my influence lead my disciples? Selah! 

Give me Liberty…to Think!

Within the last couple of weeks, the symbol of “Southernism” has come under attack. The Confederate flag, ignorantly brandished by a psychotic shooter in Charleston, South Carolina, has been curtly and abruptly considered foul and racist. Retailers like Amazon and Walmart (to name only an extreme few) have banned all sales of products using the image of the flag. Disregard the fact, however, that Nazi flags, ISIS flags, and rainbow flags, all symbols of either hate, racism, and division, are still available for purchase. Did you hear about the man who went into Walmart and ordered a cake with the Rebel flag on top? Walmart said, “No!” They would not make a cake with that symbol of racism on it. However, the next day, the same man went to the same store, bringing with him graphics for the ISIS flag. The cake was ordered, made, and purchased. That, my friends, is the epitome of ignorance, bigotry, and hypocrisy.
With all deference to my many friends who live north of the Mason-Dixon line, the Rebel flag has always reminded me of my heritage. When I see the flag, I think of Southern things, Southern states, and “The South will Rise Again!” However, I do not think of racism. To me, the flag has never been about racism. I am educated enough to know that the Civil War was about state’s rights! I am also educated enough to know that slavery was prolific in the North, too.  
This is not my attempt to condone slavery. Although opinion regarding slavery was split in the South, many Christians worked tirelessly to free the slaves. Slavery was wrong, and it was abolished. However, “The War of Northern Aggression” continues to be waged by race baiters who profit mightily off skewing history and fomenting racial division.  
Having said that, I grew up in Dixie hearing MANY more insults about “Yankees” than I ever did about blacks or other races. The flag symbolized love for our heritage, not hatred for others. It symbolized respect for the Confederacy and their fight for federalism.  
As a preacher of the gospel, the events of the last two weeks alarm me for one particular reason. Whether it is same-sex marriage or the banning of the Confederate flag, the issue is not the issue itself at all. The real issue is soul liberty, freedom of thought and conscience. The culture does not only want same-sex marriage legalized; they want to make you agree that it is right. You can burn the American flag, but you had better not own or purchase a Rebel flag. Better yet, cave and tell us that you believe it is a symbol of racism. Sorry, but the answer is “No!”  
These “thought police” have NEVER been forced to defend the merits of same-sex marriage in the public forum This is the reason the Genesis account of creation is given zero air time in the public school class room. It is not even allowed as a “devil’s advocate” position; it is outlawed. In 2015 America, you are not allowed to think for yourself. “We will tell you what you will accept, and you are not allowed to disagree.”  
Such practice is wrong, and extremely dangerous! As a proud Baptist, my forefathers recognized that man has a free will, and as a free moral agent, may lawfully practice the dictates of his conscience, answering to God, not government. Baptist people have never sought to build a state-church or to legislate morality.   
In 1802, Thomas Jefferson responded to the Danbury Baptist Society in kind by saying, “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state…Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.” Jefferson understood that it was the government’s responsibility to build a wall of protection against the building of a state church, as well as to ensure that government not intervene in matters of a man’s free conscience and opinions deeply held concerning his God.
We live in dangerous times. When our “culture” decides that something is wrong, it is necessarily considered wrong for all. When the “culture” decides that something is acceptable, it is acceptable to all and seen as bigoted to revolt against popular opinion. The Kardashians? Right! The Dukes of Hazard? Wrong! Approval of same-sex marriage? Right! Dissent against homosexuality according to God’s Word? Wrong! The theory of evolution? Right! Adamantly right! Absolutely, unquestionably, and unopposedly right! The Genesis Account of Creation? Wrong!  
The real casualty will not be the Supreme Court’s overreaching legalization of same-sex marriage in all fifty states. The real casualty would be people like me and you agreeing to agree, despite the dictates of our conscience. I am not suggested that you go out today and purchase a large Confederate flag and hoist it high in the front yard. I am suggesting that you do not have to agree with popular opinion. You can disagree. Millions of American soldiers gave their lives for that privilege. Freedom of speech led to the ruling by the Supreme Court; religious dissent might be our only hope of reversing it.  
“Give me liberty, or give me death!” Happy 4th!

“Oh, Be Careful Little Ears”

When the “Beatles” invaded from Britain, and the heartland of America was shaken by the gyrations of Elvis, who would have thought that the tectonic plates upon which the American culture rested would so violently shake that Bible-believing churches would be so easily removed from their fundamental foundations? Who but the Old Deceiver would have ever thought that within fifty years a growing number of fundamental brethren would adopt modern-day experiments in worship borrowed from a worldly culture?

The invasion has not subsided. On a consistent basis, we hear of churches churning internally due to the arguments of “conservative vs. contemporary.” Indeed, the fight of our lifetime is not a denominational one! Increasingly, the question the unchurched ask is, “What style of worship do you use? Are you conservative or contemporary?”

The battle has a lot of players: pastors, evangelists, Bible colleges, music directors, parents, and, yes, children. We know about the “greatest” among us (Matthew 18:1-3) and where they stand. We should mark well where our institutions of training stand or lean. Oh, how we ought to equip the music director and the parent in this assault from the enemy! However, for a moment could we consider the children? What does our music mean for the spiritual life of our children?

Beloved, we know what the culture wants to do with our Christ. America has been weighed in the balances regarding crimes against the Almighty and has been found wanting! We have legislated sensual freedom and called it “abortion.” We have expelled God from school and canonized the words “separation of church and state.” We now call Bible-believers intolerant because of the exclusivity of Christ’s gospel, yet preach that the army of be-headers and terrorists exists within a religion of peace! Within our lifetimes, we see the possibility of hate-crimes legislation passed nation-wide concerning pastors who preach the full counsel of God. Our culture will not cease until Christ is not only divorced from the state but from the country entirely!

And who bears the strain of the fight? Who bears the brunt of the storm? Whose future is paved with uncertainty? The children! The children! The children!

In Matthew chapter number two, the high-and-mighty Herod quaked in his boots! Great as he was, he shivered in fear at the prospect of a baby “Born King of the Jews.” After the wise men were sent to investigate Christ’s coming and returned home another way, Herod declared that all children two years old and younger in Bethlehem and surrounding coasts should be killed. Matthew’s gospel says, “In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not!”

Herod’s attempt to stamp out Christ was a burden borne on the tiny shoulders of Bethlehem’s babies! Mothers had sucklings ripped from their bosoms! The strong arms of Daddy had not the strength to hold at bay the forces of evil that day, and Rachel wept! She wept because He who would come to His own would be rejected by the same. The Emperor quaked and soon the crowd cried, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

Why have we accepted a culture that has rejected Christ?

Pray tell me, then, why we would allow a culture bent on our Christ’s destruction to teach us how to worship Jesus Christ? Why should we borrow from the whims and weapons of this world to win the world to a cheap imitation of itself, and in doing so, destroy precious things in our children’s lives?

As songbooks and choirs disappear from many of our churches, please consider the following consequences borne on our children’s shoulders.

They never really get to enjoy childhood

Our children are growing up too fast! Before you paint me an over-protective father of four, consider the culture in which our children live. The sights and sounds of this culture are not oriented to protect their hearts, minds and appetites. Video games pump the music of the rapper and the disc jockey. Their adrenaline becomes intoxicated with sounds developed by and produced for older ears. Their time in the public school (if applicable), grocery store and shopping mall are enough to wax off any veneer of innocence they might have.

Then, they come to church (again, if applicable). What they ought to find there is a counter-culture. Here, they ought to find a safe place. The sights and the sounds, if protected, create the conviction that church ought to be different! While exciting, fun, and often loud, there is a wholesome and historic element in it! We sing choruses and hymns with them that allow them to speak as a child, understand as a child and think as a child (I Cor. 13:11). We all understand that they cannot live on this diet forever. We are moving them to the banquet table of meat! However, a child’s life and influences ought to be protected from the culture!

Several years ago, my wife and I taught a children’s choir in a homeschool group in our city. What truly broke my heart was the influence culturally-relevant music had on this particular group of 8-11 year olds (most of which were girls). The bodily movements they already deem as appropriate had produced a lack of blush in them. This was indeed the by-product of worldly music at home and worldly worship at church. Rather than being protected, the adults in charge of their spiritual watch-care wanted to act like children, and, in turn, made the children act like adults. Rachel is still crying for her children!

They can only speak the language of the culture

In his book, “Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns,” author Gordon T. David said, “My own generation and my children’s generation are- to use the Greek term [idiotes]- musical idiots. We think we are choosing to listen to pop music, when in fact we are not choosing, any more than a Kentucky coal miner flatters himself that he ‘chooses ‘English. He does not compare and prefer English to (for example) French; English is all he knows.”

Many children only speak the language of the culture. When served a heaping spoonful of sacred music, one might say, “This is boring! This is awful!” Yet, such a declaration suggests that no one ever taught them the language of sacred music! Adults are often surprised when children use the full vocabulary of the culture’s native-tongue, but we ought not to be!

Vance Havner said, “We spent so much time seeking to be relevant that we forgot to be reverent.” Beloved, if we do not run to the front lines of this war on music, our hymnal faces the possibility of extinction within a generation or two.

Psalm 78:4-6 says, “We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:”

Just as God expected the children of Israel to speak the language of the Red Sea, and manna and Canaan land, so our Lord has entrusted us to teach our children the sacred dialect of the redeemed. May our children understand that they are not part of a johnny-come-lately experiment in worship. Rather, they come from a long line of biblical men and women who knew and loved God and worshipped in spirit and in truth.

The culture is knocking on your church’s door today. In all thy doing, protect the children!

New Music or Music of a New Kind?

Across the landscape of “Christendom” today, the foundations of everything held dear and true to the people of God for centuries has been rethought and retaught.  Foundational principles have been vilified and mocked.  The Bible has been replaced, revised and retarded.  Music has been rewritten and redefined.

Public worship has suffered the same fate.  In many places, we no longer minister, we perform. The abode of the pulpit is not a platform but rather a stage.  We no longer sing in the old-fashioned way in simplicity, but rather cloud the platform with divas that push to the side the pulpit and the man of God.  It is that old-time touch of God on simplicity that we crave!  It is that foundation of biblicism, simplicity and truth glaringly missing from our churches.

Recently, I was with a young man who attends a prominent, denominational church in town.  He chronicled the tug-of-war taking place in his church.  The battle was generational!  The traditional, “foundational” members of age were on one side, and the state-of-the-art millennials were on the other.  Rather than offering separate services, the church had opted to blend both worship styles into one hot mess!  He then unequivocally expressed their goal to entirely push out the old music (and people) and replace it with the new.

However, is the problem really “old versus new,” or is the problem better classified “old versus new kind?”

In 17th century England, it was the practice of almost every congregation of England to sing only Old Testament psalms in public worship. Over the years, Isaac Watts, a Nonconformist, had grown indifferent to this liturgical style and felt that the psalms did not radiate with gospel light contained in the New Testament, nor could “easily and naturally be accommodated to the various occasions of Christian life.”

“To see the dull indifference, the negligent and thoughtless air that sits upon the faces of a whole assembly, while the psalm is upon their lips,” Watts wrote, “might even tempt a charitable observer to suspect the fervency of their inward religion.”  It was clear to Watts that a new contribution be made to church music.

From age 20 to 22, “Hymns poured from his pen with the impetus of true genius.”  Watts retooled the psalms into an elegant tapestry of piety and freshness.  Psalm 98 became, “Joy to the World, ”  Psalm 72 became, “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun,” and Psalm 90 became, “O God our Help in Ages Past.”  Other works were written, such as, “At the Cross,” “Am I a Soldier of the Cross,” and 600 more!

Accordingly, in 1707 Watts produced a new hymnal, entitled, Hymns and Spiritual Songs. His work, however, was not immediately seen as a welcomed contribution to church music.   His protestors exclaimed, “Christian congregations have shut out divinely inspired psalms and taken in Watts’s flights of fancy,” while others labeled Watt’s hymns, “Watts’s whims.”

In the preface to Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Watts addresses the worship situation of his time and offers a defense for writing and publishing new music.

Many Ministers and many private Christians have long groaned under this Inconvenience, and have wished rather than attempted a Reformation: At their importunate and repeated Requests I have for some Years past devoted many Hours of leisure to this Service. Far be it from my Thoughts to lay aside the Psalms of David in public Worship; few can pretend so great a Value for them as my self … But it must be acknowledged still, that there are a thousand Lines in it which were not made for a Saint in our Day, to assume as his own; There are also many deficiencies of Light and Glory which our Lord Jesus and his Apostles have supplied in the Writings of the New Testament; and with this Advantage I have composed these spiritual Songs which are now presented to the World.

Today, we look on his work as irreplaceable genius and worthy of perpetuity.  The question then is, “Is what is happening now in church music akin to what plagued the heart of Watts over 300 years ago.”  Worship had become stale and lifeless in England’s churches.  Fire was needed!  However, what was needed was not a new form, a new foundation, a new kind of music.  What was needed was fresh fire to fall on old altars!

So today, we are told that new music is the key to the future and a magical panacea to reach young families.  Using Watts’s story, please observe the following statements:

Music is not valuable simply because it is old!

An old thing might indeed just be an old thing!  In antique shops there are highly valuable items, as well as things of little or no value.  A trained eye looks for older pieces with intrinsic value.  Consider that we sing a half millennium later, “A Mighty Fortress is our God.”  That is an old song with great value!  With no promise of preservation, as was assigned by our Lord to the Holy Scriptures, many songs are lost in time.

New music is not necessarily a wicked thing! 

When we speak of music, we ought to consider the spirit, the substance and the sound.  A new song may quite easily be used to worship Christ in spirit and in truth.  However, if it emanates from the Charismatic, praise and worship world, we ought to question “of what sort it is” in relation to its spirit.  If it is published by a “vanilla” publication house, selling to all denominations, we ought to question of what substance it is.  Is it strong doctrinally, and does it speak specifically of the Lord Jesus Christ?  Also, is the sound wholesome, holy and distinctively Christian, or, as my eight year old son once said, “Daddy, it sounds like Rock-n-Roll with Jesus’ name in it”?

That being said, there are many new songs we sing that are powerful additions to our services that are, as was ascribed to Watts, “elegant, yet full of piety” in spirit, substance, and sound.

Every old-fashioned church is not lifeless!

Don’t buy that lie!  That snake-oil salesman, the Devil, is profiting mightily on that one.  Are there lifeless churches, allegiant to the right music?  Yes!  Are there song leaders lifelessly leading congregations through the service?  Yes!  BUT, not every old-fashioned church is lifeless!  If you were privileged to go where I go, you would see joyful, happy, and sacred singing that points men and women to the God of the Bible!  You would hear the shouts of the people of God!  You would shout, cry, meditate and even stand in awe of God in relative silence!  Our Lord is not without “true worshippers” in these last days.

New music does not need to betray old principles!  If it does, it should not be labeled “new,” but rather of a new kind.  

Beloved, let us be cautious in our words, lest someone perceive we are against any new music.  We are against music of a new kind!  We are openly and vocally against music that preaches another gospel or not one at all! We are against music that speaks of God in the impersonal pronoun “He” or “You.”  We are against songs that can be sung on the country music stage and in the church house!  We are against musical styles that appeal to the flesh and the soul, leaving the spirit thirsty and unfed.

Interestingly, the producers of new music have been quite willing to label it as a new kind.   It is called “Praise and Worship” or “Contemporary.”  Why do many fundamental brethren have difficulty seeing that?

The Consecration Poet of England

While the American continent was being richly blessed with the hymns of Fanny Crosby, England’s hymnody was being written with the pen of Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879). She, sixteen years Crosby’s junior, said of blind Fanny, “Her heart can see!” The truth be told, Havergal had the same spiritual perception to make much of Jesus through music.

It was a deep and abiding well within Havergal that led to the writing of her glorious anthems. She was a sanctified vessel, meet for the master’s use. Educated in English and German boarding schools, she became a scholar of the Hebrew and Greek langauge, a brilliant pianist and vocalist, as well as a student of the Bible, having memorized much of the New Testament as well as the Psalms, Isaiah and the Minor Prophets. Out of this well the Holy Spirit drew such hymns as, “Like a River Glorious,” “I Could Not Do Without Thee,” “I Gave My Life for Thee” and many more. Based on her recurring theme of surrender and devotion this “Sweetest Voice of Hymnody” also became known as “The Consecration Poet.”

She once exclaimed, “I believe my King suggests a thought, and whispers me a musical line or two, and then I look up and thank Him delightedly and go on with it. That is how my hymns come.”

To many believers, “Take My Life and Let it Be” would be the masterpiece of her sacred collection. The lyrics of this hymn do indeed etch into human hearts the need for personal surrender to Christ.

In February of 1874, Miss Havergal had gone to London for a visit of five days. There in the home of the family she was visiting were ten persons, some not converted and those who were converted had lost the joy of salvation. Through the prayers of her burdened heart, she prayed that within those five days each of them might receive a blessing. Indeed, they did! By week’s end, all ten persons were either saved or renewed in Christian joy.

As she retired to her room the last night, she experienced a blessed sleeplessness. She was too happy to sleep! She rather spent the night in praise and prayer that God might renew her own consecration. In that night, the words to this song were born.

“Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to thee,
Take my moments and my days
Let them flow in ceaseless praise”

Havergal thought of her vast musical abilities. She was expertly versed in the performance and interpretation of the music greats, especially Handel, Mendelssohn, and Beethoven. Her singing voice was that of an angel. But after considering that all her talents were on loan from the Lord Jesus, she determined not to use her voice for secular purposes, but would wholly give her voice to the singing and playing of sacred songs.

“Take my voice and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee”

Remarkably, neither fame, fortune, nor the franchising of her musical and intellectual accomplishments owned her; Christ did. Every word of this timeless hymn was sincerely phrased! She at once gathered together her many fine pieces of jewelry and family heirlooms and shipped them to a church missionary house to be used in financing evangelistic meetings. She reported that she with “extreme delight” surrendered fifty items. She then sang,

“Take my silver and my gold
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose”

At forty-two years of age, Havergal caught a severe cold which caused inflammation in the lungs. She had often stated, “Thy will be done is not a sigh, but only a song.” Hearing that her life was in danger, Havergal exclaimed, “If I am really going, it is too good to be true! Splendid! To be so near the gates of Heaven!” Fading from earth’s shore to Glory’s, she drew into her lungs the breath that would expel her final feelings, “Jesus, I will trust Thee, trust Thee with my soul!” Then, she looked up steadfastly toward Heaven, as if she had seen the Lord. Her sister recounted, “For ten minutes we watched that almost visible meeting with her King, and her countenance was so glad, as if she were already talking to Him!”

“Take my love– my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself–and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee”

From the soul of a man abiding in Christ will not emanate the sensual songs of the world and the sweet songs of Zion. The Bible says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear,” (I Peter 3:15).

Many today have “blended” the songs of Zion with the tunes and jingles of a world gone mad. Bible-believing Christians have swallowed the lie that what you listen to at the church house should be sacred but what you listen to and enjoy at your house is personal. Such error has led to the secularizing of sacred music and the acceptance of cultural trends that are racing quickly away from the heart of a Thrice-Holy God.

Sadly, America has been adversely affected by our compromises. Not only has our nation not seen a revival “under the influence” of modern Bible versions, but she has also not seen a great revival with contemporary sounds wafting from the platform either! Oh, how we need to be people of God, sanctified, separated, sold-out, spiritual, sensible and sincere again! May the songs of Zion permeate our choirs, cars and, yes, the corridors of our homes. May each believer today echo the clarion call of Christ-likeness which proceeded from “The Consecration Poet’s” heart: “Always, only for my King,”

Where Did That Come From?

In examininig the music issue, one of the basic questions that steers us through these mighty waters of change is, “Where did it begin?” If directions determine destinations, and they do, we must be ultimately cautious and mindful of an issue’s beginnings.

In Exodus chapter number thirty-two, the people of God were congregated at Sinai. That mountain became, for all time, synonymous with the law given by God to Moses. During these seasons of revelation, Moses received much from God. He not only received two tables of stone upon which were inscribed the Ten Commandments, but he also received dietary, civil, and religious law, as well as, the pattern of the Tabernacle.

When the Tabernacle pattern, portraying the person of Christ, was yet to be given to Bezaleel, Satan entered the camp and offered a delusion to the people, in order to receive worship from them, which he knew should belong to God.

As we read the story of the Israelites, our imaginations struggle to understand from whence a golden calf would come. What does one discern of the broken jewelry, the naked dancing, and the mindless eating and drinking? Where did THAT come from?

The Bible says in verse one, “And when the poeple saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not which is become of him,” and so he did. The text says in verse four, “And he received them [golden earrings] at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” These “gods” were a “molten calf.” Where did THAT come from? It came from Egypt!

For four hundred and thirty years, the children of Israel germinated and grew in the land of Egypt. Without a sacrifice, a prophet, or a Tabernacle, the people of God acclimated to Egyptian life. Knowing that their sacrificial system of lambs was abominable to the Egyptians (Gen. 46:34), it had been centuries since they had worshipped God in spirit and in truth.

In the fulness of time, Moses came riding into town on a stammering tongue. “Thus saith the LORD of Israel, Let my people go that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness,” (Exodus 5:1) became the echoing cry of the Deliverer through the corridors of Pharoah’s palace. As Pharoah’s heart was hardened, God visited Egypt on the vengeful chariot of ten plagues. Each plague was a direct assault on a deity worshiped in Egypt.

The Bible says in chapter nine of Exodus beginning in verse one, “Then the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharoah, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain.”

Apis was the sacred bull of Memphis who symbolized fertility and strength in war. Born with sacred markings on its head the Apis bull was housed in plush quarters, given the best of food and would live out its days in luxury. At its death this deity of Egypt would be embalmed and mummified in sacred burials grounds. In Memphis in recent years archaeologists have discovered these elaborate tombs.

In religious life, the Apis was a manifestation of Ptah upon the earth. Ptah was the creator god. In the form of a ravaging disease, God cursed this idolatrous thought of Egypt!

Getting the Iraelites out of Egypt was one thing, but ridding Egyptian idolatry out of the Hebrews was quite another! At Sinai, Moses implored the people, “Take time to be holy! God has said that on the third day He is coming down! We must be ready! THE Creator God is coming!” (19:11).

In chapter thirty-two Moses delayed to come down to the people and they reverted back to their Egyptian influence, fashioning an Apis bull and worshipping at its feet. Ptah as Creator and Apis as his manifestation on earth received the adoration of the people of God!

There was evil, false worship in the visible (Apis) and evil, godless worship in the invisible (Ptah). When what is visible is false, then that which is worshipped behind it is a lie and a deceiver!

The Apostle Paul said, “What say I then? That the idol is anything, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is anything? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils” (I Cor. 10:19-20).

As we think of CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) as a genre, may we ask, “Where did THAT come from?” For if the visible is faulty, fraudulent or fake, then that which is worshipped behind it is a lie and a deceiver!

Lonnie Frisbee was born into a shattered home of abuse and drugs on June 6, 1949 in Costa Mesa, California.  Frisbee’s unofficial evangelism career began a soul-searching LSD acid-trip as part of a regular “turn on, tune in, drop out” session of getting high.  He would often read the Bible while tripping.  On one pilgrimage with friends to Palm Sprints, Frisbee started reading the Gospel of John to the group, instead of looking for meaning in mysticism and the occult. He eventually led the group to Tahquitz Falls and baptized them.   A later acid-trip in the same area produced “a vision of a vast sea of people crying out to the Lord for salvation, with Frisbee in front preaching the gospel.”

Throughout his life, he maintained a hippie appearance and practiced sodomy.  Frisbee functioned both publically as an evangelical preacher and privately as a gay man before and during his evangelism career. 

Meanwhile, in May 1977, John Wimber was laying the groundwork for what would become the Association of Vineyard Churches, also known as the Vineyard Movement. He had witnessed the explosive growth of Calvary Chapel and sought to build a church that embraced the healings and miracles that he had previously been taught were no longer a part of Christian life. He began teaching and preaching about spiritual gifts and healings, but it wasn’t until May 1980 when Frisbee testified that the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit took hold of the church.

Frisbee was then invited by John Wimber to the Calvary Chapel to preach. Since his early days at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, Frisbee had made a shift in his emphasis from evangelism to the dramatic and demonstrative manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Riding on the waves of the Vineyard Movement’s popularity, Frisbee and Wimber began traveling the world, visiting South Africa and Europe. Frisbee was a much sought-after preacher with his “Jesus-like” look gaining him instant recognition from South Africa to Denmark.  While there, they performed many “healings” and “miracles” for people.

As reported by many in attendance, Frisbee was integral to the development of what would later become Wimber’s “Signs and Wonders theology” and became known as the father of a new genre of worship music, “Contemporary Christian Music.”

“Jesus music” became the worship music of the hippie crowd, who in the 1960’s and 1970’s, were convinced of the barenness of a lifestyle based on drugs, free sex, and radical politics. These “Jesus people,” called the Lord Jesus, “another trip.”  

Dear friend, THIS (Frisbee and Wimber) is where THAT (CCM) came from! CCM is reengineered, repackaged Egyptian worship. It is worship that exalts the world, the flesh, and, ultimately, Satan himself. It could be heard in Babylon in Daniel chapter three, and it will also play a key roll in the one-world church to come.

May we be ever mindful of Romans chapter one verse twenty-three where Paul exclaims, “Who changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”

Our enemy is in this world to corrupt, confuse, and change the truth concerning our invisible God, and when the visible is from Egypt the invisible receiving worship behind it is a lie and deceiver. Selah!

Christmas Sunday Song Selection

Silent Night, Away in a Manger, O Holy Night, O Come All Ye Faithful!   All of these are wonderful songs, many of which we wait until after Thanksgiving to sing.  Alas!  Christmas arrives, and we sing them heartily, as well we should!

As you well-known this Sunday is what is commonly called, “Christmas Sunday.”  Christmas Sunday is the final Sunday before Christmas and is usually characterized by higher church attendance and the year’s strongest emphasis on the birth of Christ. For pastors it is one of the most anticipated sermons of the year.  For church musicians and vocalists it is a highly-anticipated day when many of our favorites are sung and played.   The two great questions for those in the Lord’s work are not, “What will I get for Christmas?” or “What shall I make for the family dinner?” but rather, “What in the world am I going to preach on Sunday,” and, “What am I going to sing on Christmas?”

Well do I remember my pastor teaching me that song selection is 75% Continue reading