Some Things Should Never Change!

images[5]In my last blog post I mentioned a number of negative things I believe are going on in the church world when it comes to music, which do not lend themselves to a productive worship experience for many people.  Today, I would like to take a positive approach to worship by sharing a couple of scriptures from the New Testament, written through the hand of the Apostle Paul, about what, ideally, our corporate worship should look like.  The Bible says “in the mouth of two or three witnesses a thing shall be established”, so I have chosen two verses which say nearly the same thing.

The first is found in Ephesians 5:19 and 20, “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (ESV)

The second verse is in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (ESV)

It is pretty clear from these verses that the Early Church used this pattern of worship in its services.  Psalms have been used since the time of David as poetic themes from the Word of God set to various musical patterns.  Many churches, as well as synagogues, use these to this day.  Some use them exclusively in worship.  Psalms are simply passages of scripture dedicated to praise and worship of our Father which, when set to various melodies, can be extremely conducive to entering into His presence in the corporate worship setting.

Last night I attended a choir rehearsal of a world-famous and highly renowned choir.  They were rehearsing the familiar old tune from the 1800’s, “The Lord’s My Shepherd”, which is a musical adaptation of Psalm 23.  The associate choir director, a young man in his 30’s, related the story of how four years ago he had been experiencing severe trials in his life which had led him into a sort of depressed state.  One Sunday, as he walked into church, he heard the choir sing the words from this psalm,

“My table thou hast furnished

In presence of my foes;

My head thou dost with oil anoint,

And my cup overflows.”

He said that immediately a peace came over him and his whole outlook and attitude changed as he thought about our Lord who gives us so many blessings that our cups overflow with them!  It was a major turning point in his life that he never forgot.  God used a simple hymn to transform the life of a young man from feelings of depression to victory!

The second form of musical worship mentioned in the above verses is “hymns”.  These anointed works containing much scripture, worship of God and theologically sound doctrinal themes, have been penned by men and women for centuries as expressions of their love for their Lord, often mentioning the omnipotence and majesty of God, as well as the themes of crowning Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, now and in Eternity!  I could go on and on, naming such great hymns as “Holy, Holy, Holy”, “Crown Him With Many Crowns”, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”, and “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” and so on.  To omit these mighty works, which have endured in the church for literally centuries, from our modern repertoire in favor of some light, fluffy tunes with words that copy current pop or rock lyrics, simply substituting the word “Jesus” for “you, my lover” is missing a sacred opportunity to enter into the presence of the Holy One!

The last type of music mentioned by the Apostle Paul is the term, “spiritual songs”.  I think we all are aware of what “spirituals” are…the African American people learned hundreds of songs by rote, which we still sing, as they were working in hard labor in the cotton fields and wherever they happened to be.  No doubt these songs were a great comfort to them in their physically agonizing times of stress and strain and probably “got them through” much pain and suffering.

Even if we today are not enduring the trials of the American slaves of old, we still have trials and tribulations that cause us to turn to our Creator for peace and help.  This is where many “spiritual songs” have sustained men and women, boys and girls for centuries.  These are “testimony” songs about God’s sustaining grace and power to deliver in time of need; songs about how God rescued us from the pit of despair and put us on the path to Eternal Life; testimonies and praise to Him in upbeat, as well as quiet and worshipful, tunes; and songs simply expressing our heartfelt love and gratitude to the One who has changed our lives!

I believe the Church collectively would do well to consider including music from each of these three categories in our worship services.  Surely this admonition from the New Testament is just as important for us to observe today as it was back when it was written.  Some things are not meant to change!



Created to Worship


Rebecca Baker 4Did you ever wonder why you were born and placed on this earth in the first place?  Many people do, and their quest to find the answers as to the purpose for being here often leads them in very strange directions!  Some pursue mind-expanding drugs; some explore Eastern religions and self-help courses; there are those who are convinced we have been reincarnated from something or someone who lived thousands of years back in history; or perhaps in a “former life” we were really a toad…who knows? Then they get into the strange belief that everything has a spirit; your great-grandmother may have come back as a tree, and if plants and animals are the same as us, we must do everything to save them!  This is the basis for the New Age movement.  Of course, they believe we must save the planet because God does not necessarily exist and, even if  He did, He may be unable to maintain this vast Cosmos, including our galaxy, as He has for untold eons of time!  Our small planet must be in danger and He needs our help to ensure it does not disintegrate!

Of course, the real crux of the problem is that humans have a God-shaped void in their hearts and souls which only their Creator can fulfill!  Until they come into a personal relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ, and allow Him to be Lord of their lives, they will continue in their misery, trying all sorts of perversion, illicit sex, drugs, alcohol and pleasure which in the end will only leave them feeling emptier than when they started!

So, getting back to my question: “Why was I created?”…the answer is simple:  God created us to have fellowship with Him and maintain the earth, including having dominion over all created things, until He chooses to come again and bring those who are in relationship with Him unto Himself for Eternity!  Jesus said in Matthew 24:35:  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”  (ESV)  So, if these things are doomed for destruction at some point anyway, making way for the New Heaven and New Earth (Isaiah 66:22 and 2 Peter 3:13), why don’t we spend more time practicing our worship of God, who we will be with through Eternity, entering into His presence on a daily basis, instead of worrying about things we cannot change?  I believe we have our priorities all wrong!  Jesus said in  Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  (ESV)  I believe Jesus was speaking of the material  and  mundane things of life we place so much importance on, while totally neglecting the Eternal values in which we should be more interested.

So, how can we enter into His presence in worship?  I believe there are many ways to do this, not the least important of which is singing and playing instruments before Him!  Even as our Heavenly Father loves to hear our praises, it builds us up, as well. I love Ephesians 5:19,  “…speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”  (NKJV)  Another favorite of mine that says nearly the same thing is Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  (ESV)

I believe the reason God wants His children to speak and sing their worship aloud is because He knows it builds us up in our innermost beings, edifying and fulfilling a need that is built into all human beings to worship someone or something higher than they are!  We were created to worship our Maker and nothing else in the world will satisfy this deepest of all longings!  Even the best love relationship in the world; the most wonderful spouse or children; the biggest mansion ever built; the finest cars, planes, boats and material trappings; jet-setting the world in luxury; and all that this world can offer will never fulfill this longing for God!  It is why you have a longing to worship Him, and as you do so, you will sense His peace and joy in your life; the daily cares, loneliness and stress of life will fade away as you bask in His presence!

I Corinthians 1:9  says, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (NKJV)  Let us practice the words of Psalm 95:6, just one of hundreds of admonitions to worship in the book of Psalms:  “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”  (NKJV)  Have you worshipped your Creator today?

My Thanksgiving Acrostic

001 facebook_cover (1)Here is an acrostic I made that contains verses about thanksgiving, music and praise to God.  As you read through it, remember Psalm 95:2, “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” (ESV)    Let us think about all of our blessings and the One who made them possible as we feast and enjoy the company of those we love on this special day!  I hope you will enjoy this little Thanksgiving acrostic:

                   Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts     to the Lord.  (Col. 3:16b, KJV)

                   He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.  (Psalm 40:3, ESV)

                   All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! (Psalm 145:10, ESV)

                   No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.  (Psalm 84:11b, KJV)

                   King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.   To him be honor and might forever. Amen.  (I Timothy 6:15b & 16, NIV)

                   Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Ephesians 6:19 & 20, KJV)

                   Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!  Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.  (Psalm 33:2 & 3, ESV)

                   I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music.  (Psalm 101:1, ESV)

This is the Victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  (I John 5:4b, NIV)

                   It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sings praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the   morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.  (Psalm 92:1-3, ESV)

                   Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!         (Psalm 115:1, ESV)

                   Give thanks to him; bless his name!  (Psalm 100:4b, ESV)

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

How to Influence Your Child for God!

Last week I shared about the birth of my new granddaughter and concluded by mentioning that this week in a “Part Two” post I would give some ideas for parents on how they can create a God-centered environment in the home, conducive to worship, and ultimately instrumental in bringing a young child to the point where he or she will make a personal decision for Christ!

As way of personal testimony, I will never forget how at the age of four my father, a Godly man who later entered into full-time ministry, asked me pointedly, “Becky, have you ever asked Jesus into your heart?” It seemed natural to me at the time, as I had been exposed since the cradle to Christian music, Bible stories and a church that was preaching the Gospel! I had even sung solos publicly; my whole life, largely because of the influence of my parents, centered around the Lord, ministry for Him and the music ministry He was calling me into! But, I remember thinking to myself that I really had not specifically asked Jesus into my heart, so I told my dad I would like to. I knelt at a little rocking chair in my younger brother’s nursery (I remember this vividly to this day!) and prayed a simple, childlike prayer of repentance and acceptance of Jesus as my Savior. I used my own words, but my dad remained with me to encourage me, and I knew fully well what I was doing. That is my simple story of conversion, not very dramatic, as some who have been delivered from lives of crime, drugs, immorality and the horrible effects of their sinful lifestyles, but, nonetheless, it is the way it happened and I have never looked back. Oh, there have been times when I have not been as close to the Lord as I should have been and strayed a bit from the straight and narrow path, but He never abandoned me and always accepted my prayers of true repentance. I know my salvation is assured through Christ’s blood!

Here are some ideas I have thought about that will encourage a Godly atmosphere for your child….

1. Purchase or download some worship DVD’s and CD’s that your baby or young child can watch and listen to daily during active hours, rest times and even while falling asleep. There are so many wonderful resources available for young children that are “age appropriate” and will keep their attention, while helping them focus on Jesus and their worship of Him. Even infants and small children retain much of this in their subconscious which will go with them through life. Also, their memories at this age are the best they will ever be and concepts taught before the age of seven or eight years old remain intrinsically in the brain for life! That is why it is so important to plant seeds of life and hope in Christ in a young child’s mind. If a parent constantly exposes their young children to secular rock, rap, hip-hop and other genres that are not Biblically-based, these are the things the young child will want to hear throughout his life; it will largely be all he or she knows. This is very sad! I observed this during my teaching of private voice lessons to young children. Much of the music some brought to sing was appalling and totally age-inappropriate. I could not blame the child, but rather the parent, for allowing such filth into their home. If you are guilty of listening to music or watching TV programs that blaspheme God, degrade people with foul language, glorify immoral lifestyles, or anything else contrary to the Scriptures, get these things out of your home! Trust me, children pick up on these things faster than you think!

2. Read children’s Bible stories, chapters from an easy-to-understand version of the Bible, classics from literature and the animal world, and other types of books to your child. My mother read to me from a Bible story book from the time I was a baby and I still remember these accounts from the Word of God as if it were yesterday. Encourage your child to memorize Scripture. I remember memorizing many verses and short chapters from the Word, particularly the Psalms, Gospels and Epistles, as a young girl attending Christian Day School; these passages have stuck with me my whole life! Amazing! This just proves that the things you put in a child’s mind first stay with him or her the longest.

3. Enroll your child in some type of private music lessons by the time they are five or six years old, if possible, depending on the maturity of the child.  Piano is a good basic instrument to start with and, will serve as a good basis for another instrument of his or her choice later on down the road. Expose your child to great classical music, as well. I began piano lessons at age four with my mother, and later transferred to a professional music studio at age seven. Some children are not ready that early, but nearly all of them can sing, so some form of private or group vocal lessons is appropriate, if not group keyboard lessons. Check with local studios in your area; you may be surprised what is available now for very young children!

4. Finally, “live the life” in front of your child! Don’t just preach to them, quote scripture and tell them the right way to go; show them by your life! I believe we as parents and grandparents can have a tremendous impact on our children. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when is old he will not depart from it.” (ESV) May God give us all the faith and courage to do this!