Engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Failures of “the drowning man”

I know posting a link to another page isn’t really considered blogging, but I wish to direct those who read the blog to this article as something to ponder.



“I am Legend” & our need for Grace:

I Am Legend:

“I am Legend” came on TV last night and I caught the tail end of it. I’ve seen it before, so the end was no surprise, but this time, as I watched it I was reminded of a biblical truth. This truth many dislike, and many misunderstand, but it is truth none the less. I went to bed thinking about it, and woke up thinking about it.

Dr. Robert Neville (Will Smith) is a survivor of a virus that degenerates those infected by it into pale, bald, aggressive beings called “Darkseeker” due to their aversion to light. Robert is attempting to find a cure for the virus, and at the end of the movie discovers he has. The anti-virus is in his blood. We have the perfect setting. Robert, with his blood, a room full of darkseekers, and plenty of medical equipment to administer the anti-virus to them, thus curing them. Robert stands there, arms outstretched, pleading with the darkseekers. He tells them that he can cure them, if they will let him. The response to this good news is total rejection. It’s as if they don’t even comprehend his compassionate offer to them. The lead darkseeker, charges the bullet proof glass that is between him and Robert with full force, using his own body as a battering ram (these darkseekers stop at nothing, even the destruction or their own bodies, to fulfill their pleasure). Robert sees that his please are not going to be heeded so he draws a vile of his own blood, and hands it to a woman and child who he is helping to escape. He stays behind so the dark seekers will not continue to pursue the woman and child, giving his life for theirs.

That’s an extremely brief, and pathetic, summation of the end; but I justify it as I have provided the clip for you to watch yourself (they say a picture is worth a 1,000 words). Before you do I want you to see what I saw as I watched it.

  1. Man, in his natural born condition, is dead to God; yet we are very much alive to sin, bound in it even. Just as these “zombie” creatures were dead, but not dead. We hate the light and will not come to the light because our deeds are evil; these living dead creatures were called “darkseekers” for their aversion to light – they hated it and lurked in the darkness. We destroy our own selves because we are enslaved in sin, and gladly obey our fleshly lust, regardless of the damage to ourselves and others; just as the darkseekers pursued Robert at all costs. So as you watch, and you see the darkseekers, may you see yourself in them.
  2. Robert had the cure to the darkseekers plight in his blood! The blood of Jesus Christ is the remedy for mankind’s sinful, condemned condition.
  3. Robert was pleading with the darkseekers to accept his offer of the cure, yet they rejected it – EVERY ONE OF THEM DID! They didn’t even stop to consider it, they just hated him and wanted his death.
  4. The darkseekers needed more than just an offer, as long as they were darkseekers they would reject Robert’s offer.

As you watch the clip I hope you see a picture of your own depravity. I meet so many people who deny that they are really dead in their sins. They fight for their right to control their destiny. They can’t stand the thought that the salvation of men is not ultimately up to the individual but up to God. They think that Jesus merely died for the possibility of saving every single living human being; that He died to try to save us, but the success of that also depends upon our letting Him save us by choosing to believe in Him. It’s as if dying was God’s job and deciding to believe is ours. They see the offers of Christ to lost men as a 1 to 1 illustration of Robert’s plea to the darkseekers. Robert wanted to save them, but couldn’t because the darkseekers wouldn’t let him. If this were the way Scripture presents the work of redemption then the end will be exactly like this movie – none of the darkseekers would be cured – they all just die. So as you watch the lead darkseeker filled with hate and longing to destroy Robert, see yourself and the attitude you naturally have toward God. As you see Robert offering salvation to these creatures and it falling on deaf ears, then know that this is exactly the condition of every lost man. And as you see how hopeless your situation is, remember Ephesians 2:1-7 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ”

Watch the clip paying special attention from about 1.29 min into it and on. (If it doesn’t stream then click the phrase in the viewing area to go to youtube and watch.)

By HIS grace, no longer a darkseeker!


Something Jesus Asked Me:

Luke 6:46
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

I was driving into work this morning, listening to this past Sunday’s sermon. As the pastor quoted the verse above, Jesus asked it of me. I didn’t hear Jesus’ voice, I heard Phil’s; but right when Pastor Phil said it, Jesus asked it and demanded I answer it. Again, it wasn’t audible, but it might as well have been for it was just as clear. You can think I’m crazy, but if/when it happens to you then you’ll be just where I am – a loss for words to explain it.

So, my response to this question is, “LORD, You alone have the words of life. You are my God, and by Your grace, I will submit to whatever You require of me. Command what You will, and grant what You command.”

What this will result in, I don’t know; but I intend to follow my Jesus. There are a few things I do know because HE promises them:
1. It will be costly
2. It will be rewarding
3. Jesus will always be with me through it all

What’s your response?

Does it really matter?

I was recently in a discussion concerning Calvinism and one of the parties stated “I’m a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, and the focus should be on pleasing Him, doing His will, and spreading the gospel to others (and I think that’s all that really matters vs. if I’m a Calvinist or not)” So I ask the question – “Does it really matter?” I contend that it does.

The young lady is mistaken in that she thinks one can divorce doctrine from practice. But this is impossible. Scripture is clear that one’s actions are the result of one’s belief (Jesus tells us the root of the tree determines the fruit of the tree.). So does it matter if one is a Calvinist or not? Lets look at what she said matters as a case study (however brief).

A follower of Jesus Christ:

What is it to follow Jesus? Is it just going around and doing good deeds for others? Isn’t that what Jesus did? Surely not every one who does a good deed for another is following Jesus – for we don’t believe Mormon’s are Christians, or doctors who refuse to abort unborn children are Christian by default. To follow Jesus is more than just loving people. It’s being His disciple. His teachings are studied and devoured; then lived out. For one to say they follow Jesus, and then deny the truths He taught is a contradiction.

Now I am not saying that only Calvinists are truly following Jesus. There are many who are “Arminian” just because we all are by nature. But one cannot honestly say he is following Jesus and then flat out deny, or refuse to understand, John 3:1-8, John 6, John 10, (to name a few). To only accept piece-meal the teachings of Jesus that we like and ignore the others or claim finite understanding to avoid being challenged, is not following Jesus, but rather a paper Jesus.

Pleasing Him:

What is pleasing Him? As a Calvinist would say total reliance upon God. Seeing that all things come from Him, He controls all things. Recognizing and worshiping Him as Who He is – the Only Wise Sovereign. Whether that be evangelism, suffering, or playing baseball with one’s son; all these things are results of the cross and we do them out of love. I am even made pleasing to God through the cross of Christ. It is His death and resurrection that justifies me and why I am no longer under the law, but keep it joyfully. Pleasing Him is not something I do for Him of my own libertarian free-will, but something He does through me by grace. It is living with God in His rightful place as Sovereign Lord and man in his as creature.

Spreading the gospel:

This is vital. For the non-Calvinist the gospel is a chair without legs. They offer the lost a cross that is not sufficient to save, a Savior that couldn’t complete the job, and a God Who is hoping to get them to heaven but can’t apart from the sinner’s letting God save them. It is not the biblical gospel, and the only thing it has in common with the true gospel is the same commonality that a cult has with truth – lingo. The non-Calvinist uses the same terminology but redefines it. Atonement doesn’t mean atonement, ransom doesn’t mean ransom, redeem doesn’t mean redeem, desperately wicked doesn’t mean such, grace alone really isn’t alone, etc. The main thing is for them to keep man understanding that his eternal destiny rests in his hands and that what he chooses to do will be the final determining factor in his salvation. The crown of salvation is laid at the feet of the sinner instead of the feet of the Savior. The very purpose of the gospel to the non-Calvinist is the betterment of man. It’s even used to convince man that they are extremely valuable, thus diminishing their heinous sin.

I know it is brief, but I’m on lunch and wanted to jot a few thoughts down. So in review…. If I must jettison, or twist, some of the teachings of Jesus in order to deny Calvinism then I can’t be a follower of Jesus. If I think that my pleasing God is done in my strength instead of depending on God’s sustaining and empowering grace to live my life for Him – even realizing this desire to do so is a gift from God – if I’m not believing that He is really God as He presents Himself in Scripture, then I’m not pleasing Him. If I must distort the gospel in order to give it in a way that, although massively misaligned to the biblical gospel, does fit nicely with how I think God should operate -if I offer people good news that teaches Jesus almost saved you, but you’ve got to meet Him partway – then I’m not really giving the gospel.

So does it really matter?

Paper Dolls:

Ever since the fall, or maybe even a few moments before, man has always had a problem with God. Sometimes it’s masked by other questions: “If God is so loving, then why would He send anyone to hell?” “If God is so good and so powerful then why is there evil in the world?” “If God knows everything then why did He create Lucifer is He knew he would rebel and cause all this trouble?” The real issue at hand is we don’t like the fact that God is God.

If there was any mere mortal that we could say went through hell on earth, it would be Job. Job was asked some tough questions and wrestled with some agonizing losses and issues. He tried to give answers for what was going on, and even asserts his own goodness and demanded an audience before The Most High as to a reason why (Job 31).

He gets his audience with God, but he quickly finds it’s not what he had imagined. God goes directly to the heart of it all by asking Job, “Will you even put Me in the wrong? Will you condemn Me that you may be in the right?” (Job 40:8) Ultimately, Job had a problem with God being God. Paul’s audience in Romans 9 was no different. “You will say to me, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?’ ” His response was equal to how God approached Job, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ ”And we are no different.

Everyone, including the atheist, is quite alright with a god that functions as they believe a god should. It’s when God refuses to be confined to our devised straight-jackets that we decide we don’t like Him so much; including when all our questions aren’t answered as we would like them to be answered. When our charges of “That’s not fair!” aren’t met with what we accept as a sufficient rebuttal we assume God doesn’t really have an answer, and use that as an excuse to remake Him – for some that means ignoring characteristics we don’t like, for others it produces and attempt to annihilate Him altogether. Either way one has the same result – no real God at all. It’s like a young Johnny who doesn’t like his father’s temperament and philosophy of life, thus refusing to accept him. Johnny could place a cardboard cut out of the dad he wished he had in his room and talk to it as if it were his father. The figure wouldn’t be oppressive or intrusive, as Johnny could place it in the back of his closet when he doesn’t need/want him; he could seek out another “father figure” to take the place his biological father holds, giving him a more substantial substitute; or he deny the actual place of a father figure in one’s life, relegating it to something needed by the weak of today’s society. Either route Johnny takes is essentially the same – a denial of the existence of his real father.

Johnny’s recreation/denial doesn’t change the truth that his father’s existence, it just creates more problems for Johnny.

(let’s jump inside Johnny’s world real quick for a look at what I mean)

A parent-teacher meeting is scheduled. So he brings his cardboard dad to the meeting. Johnny has a difficult time convincing the teacher that this dad really has any authority at all since Johnny can pull him out or stash him away at will -the paper dad having no restrict Johnny from anything without Johnny’s prior consent. Of course Johnny tries to explain to his teacher that his dad is such a loving father that he wouldn’t do anything to violate Johnny’s freedom. Then there are Johnny’s brothers who have accepted their father as he really is. They’re telling Johnny that his cardboard cut out is not really his father. This enrages Johnny to the point of his denial of his real father. Shouting something like “That’s not the father I love!” or “I couldn’t possibly love a father like that!” Shouting the same accusations about yourself your opponent is making as a defense is a rather silly, and massively futile, way to contradict them; but Johnny does it anyway. For some reason he feels this will convince his siblings that his paper paternal figure is the real deal.

On the other side of Johnny are his friends. They don’t like Johnny’s cardboard creation either. They see the fallacy in trying to convince one’s self that the paper image is really one’s father. They didn’t like their fathers either, but they’re not so stupid as to try to create one out of paper. They found a human substitute to take the place of their despised dad. He left them alone, and never controlled anything they did (the man didn’t know he was their pretend daddy). They had all the freedom to do what they wished, yet had something more tangible than a recycled cut out.

A few of Johnny’s friends were more consistent in their refusal of their fathers. They insisted that Johnny just give up the whole thing and admit that there is no such thing as a father; that it’s a position created by those who simply wish to keep “unwieldy” teens in line, or that it should be obvious that since everybody has a different concept of their father (some claim to have the real one, some have cardboard ones, and some find some biological form of a substitute) that there can’t possibly be any such thing as a real father. They assert that only when one accepts this fact will they discover true freedom and happiness.

(Transporting back to reality now.)

One sometimes wonders what commonality Johnny had with his friends. It was a two stranded chord – their hatred of their fathers (although in varying degrees) and their absolute disgust with those siblings who kept reminding them of their real fathers. The odd thing about it all is this: although Johnny, and all those like him, are attempting to live in a world of their own making; it doesn’t change the truth. Their DNA still bears the link to their biological fathers’ (they are essentially stamped with his image), and they are constantly fighting against this ingrained idea of a father-figure, yet don’t know why they have it or where it comes from; not to mention their birth certificates record the fact, and all their siblings who plea with them to face the truth of their real fathers all agree with the other two mentioned proofs of DNA and birth records. Regardless of how they suppress the truth of their father it does not alter his existence nor abolish their responsibility to him.

I guess little girls aren’t the only ones who play with paper dolls.

The Two Trees:

Ever since I was little, I was told that sin entered the world because one man ate the fruit off the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When they ate this fruit, their eyes were opened and they saw things they never saw before. Due to their disobedience, God kicked them out of the garden before they could eat of this other fruit, the fruit from the tree of life, for if they ate this fruit then it would magically make them live forever.

I struggled with this, not that sin entered the world through one man’s disobedience, but with the magical fruit – especially as I began to learn more of how God has worked in history. It seems out of place to have this magic fruit that can give men knowledge of evil and this other magic fruit that will make man live forever. I continued to tell myself that it must be true as it’s in God’s Word, and Jesus Christ is proof that sin really did enter through the first Adam and must be dealt with – as HE is the second ADAM. But no matter how much I tried to reassure myself it seemed a bit too much like a fairy tale. I could not get around the inconsistency of this story. All the rest of Scripture leaves no room for blind forces rather only acts of God. To have this magic fruit that is so forceful that it could give life apart from The LIFE GIVER, so much so that HE has to keep man from eating it, seems out of character for the rest of Scripture.

I wondered if the account was not to be taken literally, but was some sort of allegorical account to how sin entered the world. But this contradicted too much. For example, Adam was a literal man who really sinned against God. The sin committed was actual sin as well. If chapter 3 is not literal then how does all this need for reconciliation really come about? Where doesn’t Genesis cease to be allegory and become literal? For if Adam is allegorical then his descendants must be as well since an allegorical man can’t have literal descendants. Due to this, I had to jettison the allegorical option for interpreting this as it jeopardized all of Scripture.

I believe God works miracles, I believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, I believe in the resurrection, I am a Christian; but I could not see how accepting Genesis chapter 3 as teaching that this fruit somehow contained special power to give wisdom when eaten as if an animal came along and ate it then they would have their eyes open to good and evil also. I was still left with this problem.
As I continued to wrestle with this I remembered the tree of life that is in the New Jerusalem. Was this figurative as well? If so, how much of the New Jerusalem is reality and how much is allegorical? It seems to be clearly literal, to me. This confirmed again that the trees in Eden were literal, not some sort of allegory.

In my seeking to harmonize all that was going through my mind with Scripture, I came across an article that reminded me of something I had forgotten. It seems that I had slipped back into my dispensational way of thinking thus forgetting that all through Scripture, God works in a covenantal way. A covenant has signs and seals. Take my marriage to my wife. The ring on my finger is not my marriage, nor does my ring posses the power to make me married or unmarried. It is a sign and seal of my marriage covenant. “With this ring, I the wed”, is what I told my wife, and she told me. By partaking of the forbidden fruit, they partook of the sign and seal of the covenant curse -“You shall surely die!” God is a covenant keeping God, and mercifully kept them from partaking of the sign and seal of life, He banished them from the garden keeping them from confirming humanity in their fallen state (Gen. 3:22-24).
This is an extremely truncated explanation of it all, but I simply wanted to share that I think Genesis 3 is properly viewed within a covenantal framework. This keeps the wizardry out of the fruit juice and gives one a proper view of why something as seemingly insignificant as eating one fruit over another is, in reality, so weighty a matter. It places the ramifications of life and death as results of the promises of our covenant keeping God, not some unstoppable magic contained within the fruit itself.

Because of Jesus Christ, all believers will be given to eat of the Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem! (Revelation 2:7) Ponder that, and rejoice!

A Story of Destiny and Grace:

I would like to tell you a story, if I may.

A beautiful baby girl was born to a newly married couple, John and Sarah. They loved each other dearly, yet both agreed that their life together could be nothing else but completely wrapped up in this little bundle of beauty. They agreed on naming her “Destiny” as they felt theirs was completely engulfed in her. They lavished her with nothing but the best they could afford. Even the goal for her father to move up the corporate ladder thus increasing his pay scale was to better provide for Destiny.
As Destiny grew older, the sacrifice of her parents grew also. They would stop at nothing to give their daughter true happiness. They tried their best to instill in her wisdom and logic to make the best, well informed decisions. All was well, until she met Josh. He was 18, one year older than her, and said the sweetest things to her. At first, she was torn. She felt a bit guilty for loving him, as her parents knew nothing of this interest. She finally told them of the situation and they told her to stop spending time with this boy as they knew him well. He had a reputation for leaving his past girlfriends with a child out of wedlock. They feared for their baby-girl, and tried to keep her from him. She confided in Josh, and upon hearing what her parents told her, he denied it all. He claimed that he had never slept with anyone and actually left his past girlfriends because they had cheated on him, yet he didn’t know this until they had gotten pregnant by someone else. Josh convinced her that her parents, although initially truly loving her, now were protecting themselves instead of her. He explained how they had poured so much of themselves into her, even reminded her of why they gave her the name they did, and now they can’t bear to lose all they’ve invested. Convinced that her parents were caught in seeking their own happiness at her expense she agreed to move out of her parent’s house in 14 days as she would be turning 18 then.
She continued secretly seeing Josh, and her parents thought she had accepted their counsel; all the while things were progressing between her and Josh. On her 18th birthday, after enjoying a lavish party thrown for her by her parents and accepting the brand new sports car they bought her, she went to her room and began packing. She snuck out of the house around 1:30 AM, loaded up the car her parents bought her and drove out of state to meet Josh at a hotel they both agreed upon. Excitement filled her as she met him at 3:30 in the morning. After a long embrace they went inside. That night her and Josh took their physical relationship to the next level. The next morning she was so worried that she might be pregnant that she made herself sick. Josh reassured her that all would be fine – and it was. They continued their relationship. Josh got a job, and they got an apartment. She sold the car within just a few days of running away as she didn’t want her parents to track it – it wasn’t a legal sale, but he needed a car and her and Josh needed the cash.
They began to party with Josh’s friends, who seemed to be growing in abundance. Destiny quickly became the life of the party, every party. Soon, all of Josh’s friends wanted to be with her. Her and Josh were in a financial pinch one day so they agreed to let her sleep with one of his friends for some money, but just this once. It wasn’t just once though.
It wasn’t long before her father tracked her down. He knocked on her door one day while Josh was at work. A huge argument ensued, basically ending in Destiny running her dad out of the house, launching anything she could find at his head and screaming obscenities at him. His heart was broken. She told Josh what happened and he swore to kill him if he came near her again. Her dad came back multiple times after that day, but she thought it best to not tell Josh.
The prostitution, partying, and drugs continued, until the day she became pregnant. She refused to sell herself anymore out of fear of hurting the baby, she stopped attending the parties as she didn’t want to hurt the baby. Josh saw clearly that this baby was ruining the best thing he had going for him. He would have just left her as he did the rest, but he had no job and she was his source of income. In a fit of rage at her refusal to go “work” that night he began to beat her. Grabbing the closest object near her, a liquor bottle, she knocked Josh unconscious. She grabbed her cell phone and ran. Calling her dad, she arranged a place to meet him. He didn’t care that it was eleven o’clock at night. He sped to go get her.
Between the time she called John, and him actually arriving, Josh had regained consciousness and tried to call her. She didn’t answer the first five times but his persistence and her love for him, made her answer. Being emotionally weak, she told him where she was. After the conversation she realized what she had done. She tried to call her dad and tell him not to come, but he didn’t have a signal and all her calls went straight to hi voice mail.
What she feared happened. They both arrived at the same time. Josh was immediately livid, and the drugs in his system only inflamed his rage. Before John could get the car door shut, Josh attacked him. John tried to fight back but Josh won out; grabbing a large rock, he began to beat her Dad. Even after he was unconscious Josh continued to wail on John’s limp frame to ensure John was dead. Between Destiny’s scream and the noise produced from the struggle itself, Josh new someone probably would be on their way, or already called the police, so he jumped in his vehicle and sped off. He didn’t make it far, as he was too busy looking in his rear-view mirror to notice the sharp curve ahead. He went through the guard rail and plunged to the bottom of the cliff, engulfed in flames.
Destiny moved back in with her mother, Sarah, and had her little baby girl – Grace. She lived the rest of her life, her name reminding her how John’s destiny was truly wrapped up in her, and although she had abused her father’s love in every conceivable way, that Grace brought her back.

I wrote this story to ask these questions:

1. Could my characters I created have done anything other than what I ordained for them to do? Could Destiny have listened to her parents? Is it possible for John to still be alive today and my story have a different ending than the one I planned?
2. Is grace magnified by the presence of evil in the story? Is John’s love magnified due to the evil contained in the story?
3. Since I wrote a story that contains evil, does that make me evil? Is it wrong for me to create Josh’s evil character (bringing justice on him later) and thus magnify John’s love for his daughter and her mother’s grace in taking her back? Did Josh serve the purpose for which I created him?
4. How much more can God do these very things with His own creation (His own Story)? Does He not have the right and power to do so?

Soli Deo Gloria!

What’s your response to engagement: Yes or No?

Thought this was worth sharing in attempts to get the wheels turning in our minds once more.

Music, Morality, and Mistaken Premises – Pt.2

What does Scripture say anyway?

Scripture doesn’t address music style (this is really the main argument between “traditional” and “contemporary” church music), but there are generally three passages that those who do not accept contemporary church music will submit as biblical footing for their stance.

“Harping” on the wrong thing:

I Samuel 16 records the event where King Saul had an evil spirit that plagued him and was advised to hire a skilled musician to play for him. He hired David, who was skilled at the harp, and when David would play the evil spirit would leave Saul.

Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. 15 And Saul’s servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.” 17 So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” 18 One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” 19 Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.” 20 And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul. 21 And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. 22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23 And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.

It is apparent that music does have an affect on the individual. That is a point that is agreed upon by both sides of the debate. If music didn’t affect us in some way then there would be no point in employing it in worship, or love sonnets to our spouses, etc. Music can calm and relax us, facilitate in a workout or give us the perfect rhythm to dance around the room with the love of our life. I would not play “Eye of the Tiger” to a room full of 4 year old children if I was trying to get them to lie down and nap. This passage does not address musical styles, simply that music is influential. To use the passage as definitive on style would be the same as trying to say that only music played with the harp is God honoring music.

No… that’s really music, Josh:

Exodus 32:17-18 is another passage, probably the most favorite of the traditionalist.

15 Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. 16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” 18 But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.” 19 And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it.

In this passage, Moses and Joshua go up the mountain to receive the 10 Commandments from The LORD. While away, the people convince Aaron to make them an image of God. They make a golden calf out of their jewelry and as they celebrate and worship their newly made god they employ music. Joshua hears it and thinks it’s war going on. Moses has a more discerning ear and correct Joshua by telling him it is not a victory cry nor cry of defeat, but singing that he hears. The point that is often attempted to be made by this passage by the traditionalist is that Joshua thought their celebration sounded like war. Most contemporary music employs drums and other rhythm instruments differently that classical, baroque, or other westernized styles. The heavy rhythm is equated to war-like sounds and lumped into the genre that Joshua must have thought he heard. It is over looked that Moses corrected Joshua, as well as the fact that since they were on a mountain and the people in the valley below, the distance alone would have distorted the clarity of the music along with the voice of the people.

Again, style of music must be superimposed on the text. If one side wants to employ Joshua for their purposes of saying the music sounded like war, the other side can just as easily side with Moses and say it’s really music. Moses wasn’t enraged with them over the idol they had erected. The text doesn’t even allude to the music tipping him off to their idolatry. It wasn’t until he saw what they were doing that his anger burned hot. It is notable, however, that music is such a vital part of worship, that it is even included in idolatry as if not even idol worship would be “complete” without it.

Music & Glory:

II Chron 5

1 Thus all the work that Solomon did for the house of the Lord was finished. And Solomon brought in the things that David his father had dedicated, and stored the silver, the gold, and all the vessels in the treasuries of the house of God.2 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel, in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. 3 And all the men of Israel assembled before the king at the feast that is in the seventh month. 4 And all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites took up the ark. 5 And they brought up the ark, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the Levitical priests brought them up. 6 And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. 7 Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. 8 The cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles. 9 And the poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the Holy Place before the inner sanctuary, but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day. 10 There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel, when they came out of Egypt. 11 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had consecrated themselves, without regard to their divisions, 12 and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kinsmen, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with 120 priests who were trumpeters; 13 and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord,

“For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever,”

the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.

God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). When we worship Him in word, prayer, song, or sacrament He is there with us. This passage makes a clear statement, yet with a positive example, that music is most definitely a part of worship. The ark was brought into the Holy Place, the priestly attire was being worn, but it wasn’t until the musicians played and sang that the cloud filled the Lord’s house. Yet we do not have a comment on style. We can imagine what it might have sounded like by familiarizing ourselves with whatever Jewish music we have available to us today, but that is about as close as we can get. We do know that whatever it sounded like, it poured forth from a heart of worship to God.

Music is an outgrowth of our worship. We express our emotions through it, and communicate them to others. But at the end of the day we are not left with anything definitive about music styles. This is when the traditionalist will turn to secular musicians for support. They will quote Mic Jaggar to Frank Zappa. Trying to prove the music controls people. The assumption is that if it makes you want to tap your foot, then you’re under it’s control and it could just as easily make you want to punch your parent in the face. I understand that secular rock musicians use their music to promote rebellion and wickedness. I also understand that it is a swinging away from the previously accepted genre. But this pendulum swing is what has happens in cultures. For example. The classical period, the period lasting about 70 years (1750 to 1820) and cushioned between the Baroque and Romantic periods, is just one example of the same “cultural rebellion”. It wasn’t always called “classical” in it’s own time, it was the contemporary genre of the day. In contrast to it’s predecessor complex harmonies and multiple coexisting melodies, it was more simple with clearly defined melodies as opposed to emphasized harmonies. The new music was a result of the emphasis upon ideals of classical Greek culture. Interestingly enough, in a book I read by one who is opposed to contemporary music, and in support of the classical style, the author quoted Henry David Thoreau saying, “Music… has helped cause the destruction of the Greek and Roman empires and it will sooner or later destroy America and England.” [“Music Matters” by Cary Schmidt pg. 21] I have read Dr. Jack Hyles quoting Plato as saying in his Republic, “The introduction of a new kind of music should be shunned as imperiling the whole state.” [sermon titled “Jesus Had Short Hair!” by Dr. Jack Hyles] But music styles have changed since Plato, and it’s these “new” styles (now become old) that they are wishing to cling to.

All that has been determined by the Scriptures given thus far, is that music is influential and can be used for good or bad. If the traditionalist is to assert that their style of music is godly and contemporary is ungodly then there will need to be more than an assumed dualism. The topic of musical styles and the morality of them should be founded upon Scripture alone and not a mistaken premise or faulty illustration.

A Mother’s Heart:

Theres a girl alone
Standing at a looking glass
And she waits
For time to forget to pass

She can hold her own
She can stand alone
For now

Theres a girl alone
In a meadow
Hoping to catch a glimpse of Sun

She can feel it now
On her skin
It lights her up inside
For now

Theres a girl alone
Staring at a baby
And she waits
To tell him of his future

She can’t wait to be a mother
She can’t wait to hold him close
She can’t wait to teach him
What it means to be a man – as best she can.

There’s a girl alone
Holding a baby
Hes crying
He needs her now

She can hold her own
For a little while
She worries
She counts the days

Theres a girl alone
Kissing her boy goodbye
Praying for a good first day
School bell rings

She holds the tears in
Until hes safe inside
And then she gets in her car
And drives

Theres a girl alone
To hear how his first day was

She can hold her own
When he climbs inside
Hes smiling

Theres a girl alone
At the foot of the stairs
Waiting on her boy in a tuxedo
He’s going to the Prom

She can hold her own
When he comes down
Looking ever like his father
With a heart like his mother

She pushes herself
To hold her tears
Then he looks her in the eye
And it comes down to this
Son, you make me proud
Go have a good time

Theres a girl alone
Sitting on the porch
In the moonlight

She can hold her own
Shes done the best she can
Now hes off to propose
To his girl

She can hold her own
In the moonlight
Thinking of her life
And all the tiny blessings

Theres a girl alone
Outside a church
Shining from head to toe

She can hold her own
As the man says man and wife
And her son is not her boy anymore
Tears of joy

Theres a girl alone
In the corner
Sitting in a chair
Watching the happy couple

She can hold her own
Out of the room
To the car
She climbs in
Theres a knock at the window

Theres a girl alone
In a wedding dress
Pleading her to step outside
Shes puzzled

She can hold her own
When shes still unsure
She climbs out of the car

Theres a girl alone
That hugs her tight to her chest
Crying tears of joy
She steps away
And smiles
She says thank you

She wavers
What would you thank me for?
For giving me a husband, a man
Not a boy that is weak and scared.
That has nothing to do with me my child
That was none but God

Theres a girl in a wedding dress
Hugging her mother in law
Crying together
For the things they’ve come past
And the things yet to come

Theres a blur of white
Leading to the chapel
The girl we know drives away

She can hold her own
Prays to God
Teach me how to let him go
You’ve brought me this far
Don’t put me back on my own feet yet
I need you

Theres a girl alone
Standing in the hallway
Looking at the photos on the wall
There is one she stops at
She cant walk past today
Its not her boy, it’s a man.

She can hold her own
Until this moment
She was strong as the great wall
She let love inside
With that baby
And hes turned into a man

Theres a girl alone
At a hospital window
With a new bride on her arm

She can’t hold her own
There isn’t time
He needs a heart to live

Theres a girl alone
Waiting by a bedside
For her mother to return
When she looks up
Its not the face she expected
It’s a doctor and a form

Theres a girl alone
Sitting in a gown
On a hospital table

Shes signed her life away
He needs a heart to live
She says
He’s had it all along.

Theres a family
A few years later
Playing in the yard

They have made it this far
Because of God
They count their blessings everyday
One by one
They never forget
To remember
The mother of the boy
And how her heart
Has kept him going
Through the years.

~ Crystal Beeler