Perhaps it was the way I was raised. I can remember sitting in the back row of our church by my mother, holding a hymnal for her and I to share, and singing the old hymn, “Victory in Jesus.” I can remember my father singing in his morning devotional time, privately to the Lord, “I’ll say Yes, Lord, Yes.” In our home, we had Christian music playing constantly! Sandi Patty, Steve Green, Maranatha Music, the Gaithers, and the Cathedrals all filled our home with worship. I can still remember, as a young man, meeting The Florida Boys when they came and performed a live concert at our church.
I. My Journey
Though the Lord had set me on a great path, I had a time of wandering in confusion. Throughout my teenage, college, and early ministry years, I had heard so many sermons, lectures, and opinions about Christian music, that I had become very confused on the subject. I had heard that God hates a certain sounding music, and that any beat within a song would offend the ears of God and His presence would be taken away. I remember having a conversation with one man who told me that it was “worldly” for a soloist to hold a microphone while singing in church, because that is what the “rock-&-roll crowd” does. I believe all of these Christians were well meaning and desired to honor Christ; however, their encouragement only encouraged me to lean away from music as a whole.
I know that some might say, “This is ridiculous! How could you be influenced in such a way? Have you no beliefs of your own?” And, perhaps your criticism is valid. However, one must understand that my entire heart was to serve Jesus and please my Savior. If any kind of music offended my God, then I would not have it. If Praise and Worship was too “worldly,” then I would reject it. If Southern Gospel was too “country,” then I would avoid it. If Christian Contemporary was too “rocky,” I would get rid of it. I wanted God’s blessing in my life so badly, that I would have given up anything for Jesus. I would have even given up something that was good for me, and I did.
II. My Growth
When I was 17, I can remember my friend, Jose Miano, being questioned by a slightly older Christian man about his choice in Christian music. The CD he listened to was produced by a very conservative Christian college producing servants for the kingdom of God. “It’s a shame,” the 21-year-old expert said, “that each of those songs are taken right out of the Promise Keepers convention,” which I supposed was meant to be insulting. “They keep sliding up and down the scale in a worldly way too,” he concluded. I was convicted. Perhaps he was right. Was the Lord displeased with me? I’ll never forget Jose’s response. “I’m listening to Christian music and celebrating Jesus. I’ve known you for 2 months now; you are supposed to be a Christian musician, and all you ever listen to is Broadway, opera, and classical music. Never once have I heard you listen to Christian music.” I was shocked. I thought about it. Jose was right. Perhaps the Lord wasn’t displeased with my worship, just because someone else was.
I was still confused. I eventually got to the point where I didn’t listen to music at all. Really! Sermons…yes, podcasts…yes, talk radio…too much, but never any music. Secular or Christian, I had convinced myself that I was just not a musical person. So, what was it that helped me to grow in this area? THE BIBLE! I was preaching every Sunday night through the Scriptures, verse by verse. We came to Galatians, and that was it for me. Now, please don’t roll your eyes or raise your nose at the book of Galatians, as many of the Judaizers of the New Testament would have done. Please don’t accuse me of misinterpreting this beautiful epistle that broke my heart and set me free. Through a deep and long study into this book, I saw the truth about liberty in Christ. I understood the legalist I had become and chose to follow Jesus, rather than the religion I had created for myself. I understood that I could do nothing to earn God’s love, I could do nothing to make Him like me more than He already does, I could do nothing to gain his favor because I am already loved, liked and highly favored through my relationship with Christ. This allowed me to move past my feeble attempts at religion and focus solely on my relationship with Christ. I was able to move past my focus upon the law and refocus upon my love for Jesus. II Corinthians 5:14
(You can see my journey, as I preached through Galatians, here)
III. My Change
It wasn’t very long after this study, that Jason Coombes, our Worship Leader, suggested we have a Southern Gospel group in for a music night (we would never have called it a concert). I was nervous, because I didn’t want to displease the Lord, but I also knew that something was lacking in our church regarding music. We thought this might help. That night I sat right on the front row. They were introduced, and the music began. The first song started, and I immediately recognized the syncopated sound track with the bass drum and cymbals, then the guitars began to play. And, though it was everything I remembered from my childhood, my skin began to crawl and my stomach began to turn. I could have interpreted that as the Holy Spirit’s displeasure…, but then I heard His voice. It was the same voice that speaks to me every morning, the same voice that guides me in my study as I prepare the next sermon, the same voice that called me to salvation at age five and to service at age 15. I know that voice! I follow that voice! He said, “Calm down… this is of me… look at the people.” I did. They were worshipping the Lord. They were worshipping the Lord with instruments other than a piano. “Relax, calm down and worship me.” I did. I haven’t looked back.
I started studying music in the Bible and came to the shocking realization that, though I had only ever heard sermons about the dangers of music, the Bible only speaks positively about music. I found that God loves music (Job. 38:4-7, Zeph. 3:17, II Chron. 5:11-13, Ps. 71:23), God is worshipped through many kinds of instruments and styles (Ps. 33:1-3, Eph. 5:18-19) and that God desired to hear me sing once again. I now love all types of Christian music! I love the hymns for the incredible depth of Bible doctrine they impart. I love Southern Gospel for the overwhelming energy it brings to my worship. I love Christian Contemporary for the sound, scripture, and the way it connects me to God. Sure there are styles I prefer and there are styles you prefer, but I have committed to Christ that I will never again be pressured by another person’s preference (Col. 2:22).
Psalm 95:1 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
For my recent sermon on this subject click here:
What are your thoughts? Did I get it Wrong? Have you had a similar experience?