by Jeff Purswell

I am no musician. I play no part in a choir or a musical team. I do love words, and as a sidebar to my job I get to participate in editing worship song lyrics. But there you reach the limits of my musical gifting.

Even so, my friend Bob Kauflin recently invited me to speak at the WorshipGod09 conference and to address an audience populated by faithful servants engaged in leading worship, singing, and serving musically in diverse ways. These are gifted people and we (more…)

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The other day I saw a sign that captured my attention—and deeply concerned me. It said—

“Don’t go to church. Be the church.”

Now, despite the element of truth (God’s people are the church), there are all kinds of things wrong with this statement. But behind the words is obviously someone’s disappointment (and possibly disillusionment) with organized Christianity. And although I’d guess that (more…)

What Makes Music Christianly?

…contending for biblical theology in CCM

[A long-ish post, but worthwhile reading]

by Steve Camp

“Thy statutes are my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.”
– Psalm 119:54

In one concise statement David introduces us to the Hymnbook of Heaven elucidating the triumvirate of Christian service – doctrine, worship and life. Thy statutes (doctrine); are my songs (worship); in the house of my pilgrimage (life). Just as the doctrine of justification by faith alone is like Atlas bearing on its shoulders the entire evangelical knowledge of saving grace[1], so is doctrine, worship and life the three central pillars for music ministry. True Christian music is God-conceived (doctrine); Christ-centered (worship); and Spirit-controlled (life). Take away any one of these pillars and the building topples. For example: a powerful doctrine sung in glory to Christ with an impure life is noise to the ears of our holy God.[2] Conversely, an obedient life given in worship to Christ absent of sound doctrine will be empty praise and on the path to error.[3] Lastly, right theology sung out of the beauty of holiness but vacant in worship to Christ leads to pride or self-glory[4] and the chastisement of the Father.[5]

Knowing God – Not Feeling God
In Christian music we are missing the key pillar, the cornerstone, which the other two rely upon – sound doctrine! There has already occurred a much needed return to praise and worship in the church and we’ve observed that across the board in evangelicalism. There is also a renewed heightened call for more personal ecclesiastical accountability.[6] Though we have not arrived in those areas, we are on the path, nevertheless, the Achilles heel of our industry is the blatant absence of sound biblical theology which has effected every level of Christian music.

This is most evident in it’s message. Christian music, originally called Jesus Music that once fearlessly sang about the gospel, now sings of a Christ-less, watered-down, pabulum-based, positive alternative, cream of wheat, mush-kind-of-syrupy God-as-my-girlfriend thing. There is an obvious reason this has taken place: artists primarily feel; theologians primarily think. We need artists who will balance their zeal with knowledge[7] to invest their lives in the daily discipline of Bible study, and then, to write with the fire, passion and enthusiasm which that study has illumined to communicate the glorious language of the church – the holy Word of God! Until this occurs, we are guilty of sentencing a generation of Christians to simply “feel” their God, rather than to know their God! In the early days of my own music ministry I wrote songs that neither represented good music or precise theology. It is out of the crucible of those experiences that God convicted me, which drives me to speak passionately to these issues.

(more…)

[A cross posting from theblazingcenter.com]

by Mark Altrogge on June 3rd, 2009

worship

Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright. PS 33.1

I’m not a particularly emotional person. At football games I’ve never shouted and high-fived. I never danced or moshed or sang along or held up my lighter at concerts. And I was raised in a church in which the most expressive thing we did in worship was exchange the sign of peace with our neighbor – my brother and I would give each other a sideways glance and a smirk, then give each other the peace sign.

When Jesus saved me, I became convinced from preaching and the Word that God desires expressive worship. But for me to raise my hands or shout to God or sing with gusto was like telling me to do an Irish step dance at an opera.

But I wanted to become more expressive in my worship. I only had to overcome my fear of man.

I read about a man who conquered his self-consciousness by going out in the woods and shouting praises to the Lord. So I decided to try this. I lived on a farm at the time, so I tramped across a cow pasture to a stand of woods where I knew no one would hear me.

I looked around, raised my hands, and shouted, somewhat meekly, “Halleluiah!” I did it again, a little bit louder. I felt weird. What if someone heard me or saw me? Looking around, I shouted again, “Halleluiah!” I kept shouting over and over again, until I began to get used to it. I did this for about 15 or 20 minutes, then trudged back through the field to my apartment over the garage on the farm.

The next time I worshiped with the church, when the leader exhorted us to raise our hands and shout to the Lord, with the Lord’s help, I overcame my fear of what others thought of me and shouted my praises to Jesus.

30 years later, I still battle the fear of man at times during worship. But whenever it’s appropriate during our times of corporate worship, I love to shout my praise to the Lord. It feels good.

It feels good, because praise befits the upright.