Tag Archive | Music

Some Lessons from King David

As the world welcomes with great interest the birth of a new little prince who one day could become King of England, I’d like to take you back to another great king…the Psalmist David, anointed and chosen by God to lead His people, the Israelites.  Many people believe that the Throne of David is still very much alive today with his descendants sitting on the British throne (Jeremiah 33:17-26; II Samuel 7:11-16; Psalm 89:20-37).  Whether you agree with the position that David’s lineage literally refers to the unbroken monarchy in Great Britain descending from the Israelites, or to Jesus, whom we all know came from the “house and lineage of David” (Luke 2:4), we agree David was one of the greatest kings, warriors, musicians and mighty men of God to ever live!  In fact, God called him “a man after his own heart” (I Samuel 13:14), and we still read, sing and gain comfort from his words in the Book of Psalms today.

Let’s examine a few interesting facts concerning this man chosen of God to be king of Israel.  In I Samuel we read that God spoke to the prophet Samuel and said, “Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite.  For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.” (I Samuel 16:1, ESV)  In verses 12 and 13,  God tells Samuel (speaking of David), “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.  Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.” (KJV)

We see in this passage that God chose the one He wanted, anointed him, and from that day on put His Spirit upon David!  If God’s spirit had not been on him, how would he have dared to come against the giant Goliath and speak boldly to him the Word of the Lord, killing him in front of everyone?  If God’s spirit had not been upon him, how could he have played anointed music with his harp and lyre for King Saul when the evil spirits were vexing him?  This happened several times; the first account is in I Samuel 16:14-23.  If God’s spirit had not been upon him, how would he have been able not only to slay multiplied thousands at God’s command, but also to write some of the most beautiful psalms?

So, my friend, follower of Jesus, and fellow musician, if you know beyond a certainty that God has called you to your ministry, whatever it may be, and that God’s Spirit is upon you, does it really matter what anyone else thinks of you or says about you?  Don’t you have the boldness of the Holy Spirit within you to make you victorious in any circumstance?

You will notice that after David was anointed to be king and God’s Spirit was upon him he became the object of severe jealousy directed at him by friends and family.  Notice his brother’s angry reaction to his coming to challenge Goliath in I Samuel 17:28…not exactly a show of support from his family, was it? After the victory over the giant, while the people, particularly the women, were dancing and singing his praises, King Saul became insanely jealous of David.  I Samuel 18:9 says, “And Saul eyed (or envied) David from that day and forward.” (ESV)  Instead of being proud of him and grateful for his success over the enemy, he sought to kill him from that day on!

How often do we feel jealousy and envy directed at us, perhaps even from other musicians in the Church?   Song of Solomon 8:6 says, “…jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.” (KJV)  The Apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians 4:7, “What is so special about you?  What do you have that you were not given?  And if it was given to you, how can you boast?”  (CEVU)   If all gifts are God-given, we should never be jealous of anyone else’s talents!  Equally as sinful as having jealousy towards our brother or sister is boasting about our own gift. It’s clear there should be no jealousy, competition, arrogance or pride amongst any musical group or in any form of leadership in the Church.  Even when David felt this jealousy directed at him and had to run for his very life, often hiding in caves, he knew Who had anointed him to be king; he knew that eventually God’s plan for him would be fulfilled!  And, of course, it was.  God used this interim time, however, to do a work in David, molding him and mellowing him, teaching him to trust and obey Him, forming him into the great leader He desired him to be!

My husband had a wonderful comment on the fact that when Saul tried to outfit David with his armor as he prepared to fight against Goliath  (I Samuel 17:38 and 39), David declined, saying, ” ‘I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.’  So David put them off.” (ESV)  As Christians we cannot simply “use” another person’s armor; we must test the “whole armor of God” for ourselves, putting on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness,  and shoes of the gospel of peace; taking the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, “that we may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  (Ephesians 6:11-17)

David stood strong in the midst of persecution, jealousy and battle because he knew God had called and anointed him for a specific time and role!  He was willing to wait for this to come to pass in God’s perfect timing.  If we know our calling, why do we let the devil and others destroy our peace of mind and confidence in God?  Let’s take a lesson from King David…be strong in the Lord, for you are victorious today!

Being “Salt and Light” Where You Are!

She was a delicate, beautiful, slightly built young woman who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent.  After walking into my teaching studio in Tyler, Texas and shyly introducing herself as Sheron,  she told me she was interested in her five year old son, Ali, beginning piano lessons.  She seemed a bit unsure of herself, and I noticed she also had a two-year-old son who appeared to be very hyper-active with disciplinary challenges!  I gladly enrolled her little boy in lessons and decided to take him myself, as I had a few openings.

Ali did fairly well when he practiced, but I don’t think piano was his main interest in life; probably, more than likely, it was his mom’s idea for him to come!  As the weeks passed and he came to his half-hour lesson, I would visit briefly with Sheron and discuss her son’s progress, among other things.  I learned that she was new to our country, having recently moved here from her native country of Iran.  She had a degree in biophysics and after moving to the U.S. had met and married a fellow Iranian who owned several gas station/convenience stores in the area.  She was always very pleasant to talk with and our friendship grew.

One day she confided to me that she was very lonely and did not seem able to make many friends in our country.  I told her I would be her friend and that seemed to please her.  I knew she had her hands full with two very active boys and I just tried to help her feel comfortable.  The next time Sheron brought Ali to his lesson, she said to me, “I want to know about Jesus!  I have been reading some and hearing about Him.  Can you help me?”  I excitedly shared my testimony of receiving Jesus as my personal Savior from sin and asked her if she had a Bible.  She did not, and I told her I would get her one, which I promptly did.  When I presented it to her the following week, she was very excited, telling me she was fluent in English and could easily read an English edition.  She also began reading materials about the Gospel in her native Farsi language.

The next time she came I asked her if she would like to receive Jesus as her Savior.  She eagerly said, “Yes!” and after explaining what conversion was all about, I led her in the sinner’s prayer and Sheron became a Christian!  I asked if she had a church home and invited her to come to our church.  She said she would try, but that her husband was a Muslim and did not like the Christian faith.  She seemed a bit concerned about this fact, and I told her I would be her prayer partner and together we would pray for her husband.  Then she shared with me the fact that she had suffered with severe back pain for some time; I prayed for her healing and she told me the pain left!  The next week she was jubilant when she told me she had not suffered any more pain all week and that she was still rejoicing in her new-found salvation through the blood of Christ!

Not too long after this a young woman in her twenties, with a remarkable voice and to whom I had taught voice lessons when she was in high school, came back to refresh and sing again with me.  During her first vocal lesson, she confided in me that she had recently converted to the “Wicca” faith, a variety of witchcraft, although she had been a Baptist when I had taught her years earlier.  Although I was somewhat aghast and surprised, I simply told her I would pray for her.  She knew how I believed and week after week at our lesson, she would still sing some Christian songs along with Broadway and operatic tunes she was working on.  At times I would have a chance to witness to her of my faith, once again.  One day, she came and told me about some heart-wrenching things in her life, and began to sob in anguish.  As the tears streamed down her face, I said, “Michelle (not her real name), it’s time to come back!  Jesus is waiting for you and you know you will never be happy until you surrender to Him!”  She nodded in agreement, and prayed the sinner’s prayer with me.  Great joy flooded her countenance and the next week when she returned for her lesson, she glowed with a peace that made her look almost like an entirely different person!

Both Sheron and Michelle moved out of my life, Ali discontinuing his lessons and Michelle moving away.  I never saw either of them again, and perhaps I never will, but out of the thousands of people I have taught, I never forgot them!   I know God used me in that little studio to help two young women come to Christ.  Sometimes when I became discouraged about teaching kids who didn’t want to be there, or when it seemed that my work was in vain, I thought about them and others who had come for lessons, many pouring out their hearts and problems to me with tears streaming down their faces, often saying as they sang worship songs, “I don’t know why, but this just brings something out in me that makes the tears flow!”  I would tell them this was the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

When you get discouraged or feel like giving up some days, just remember God can bring people into your life and down your path, even in the workplace!  You don’t have to preach them a sermon; just be their friend and bring Jesus to them as He leads you!  I found out through these experiences that “music really is worship”…being “salt and light” in a dark place!

 

Does God Send Tornadoes?

My heart is broken as I watch the devastation and heartbreak on TV from what is now being called one of the worst tornadoes in history!  I don’t know what it would be like to lose everything I had worked so hard for in just a matter of seconds.  Of course, even more heartbreaking would be to lose one’s child in school, not knowing, as you kissed him or her goodbye in the morning, that you would never see them on this earth again!  Of course, questions come to my mind:  Why did God let this happen?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Were these people more wicked than others to have such a catastrophe occur in their neighborhood?

I can answer the last question with an emphatic, “Absolutely not!”  I lived in Shawnee, Oklahoma, which also suffered severe tornado damage a couple of days earlier, a lovely city located about 30 miles from Moore, the city virtually destroyed in the storm.  My late husband and I pastored a church in Shawnee for two years and our youngest daughter was born there.  Oklahoma people are by and large God-fearing, salt-of-the earth people and my feeling is if God were choosing somewhere to pour out his wrath, it would not be Oklahoma!  Then, you may ask, why do catastrophes like this happen to seemingly good people?

Perhaps the answer can be found in the Word of God!  In Job 1:1  God called Job a man who was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God and avoided evil”.  Satan asked God if he could destroy Job, a very wealthy man,  and God allowed him to bring about evil in his life on several fronts.  Verse 19 tells us, “(His) sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead.” (ESV)  His oxen used for plowing, camels used for transportation, and servants were also killed.  Then Satan struck Job with severe boils over all of his body.  Even so,  Job 1:22 says that “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (ESV)

We all know the story:  In the end God restored back to Job twice as much as he had before, including 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, and 2,000 oxen and donkeys.  He also had seven more sons and three more daughters and lived to be 140 years old!

Does God send tornadoes?  The short answer is: No!  But he allows some tragedies to occur on this earth because we know Satan and his evil presence is alive and well on Planet Earth!  Jesus said, “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”  Matthew 5:45 (ESV)  Jesus also told a gathered crowd, “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Matthew 13:3, 4 (ESV)  These passages point out that God’s principles and patterns, even regarding the weather, apply across the board, and that many times seemingly innocent people will fall victim to weather-related phenomena.  This does not mean these people were more wicked, but rather that because of sin, this world is an imperfect place.  Many times God’s hedge of protection is lifted from entire nations who do not put Him first by obeying His laws. It is only because of intercession on the part of godly people that He delays His judgment.

One of my favorite verses is Lamentations 3:22, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.”  (KJV)  There is a wonderful hymn written from this passage called, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” which I think should be sung in every church!  So, in answer to the question, “Does God send tornadoes?”, the answer is “No, but he allows them and other catastrophes and tragedies to take place in our imperfect world.”  Someday He will set up His Kingdom, and in that New Earth during the Millennial reign of Christ, there will be no more horrible, violent events, either from the weather or from humans.  Satan will be bound for 1,000 years and all will be peaceful.  In the meantime, God has chosen to use the tragic events we humans all experience at one time or another to mold and make us into His likeness and bring out the character of Christ in us, if we let Him.

Let me close with a story:  We all love the beautiful hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul”, but do you know how this hymn came to be written?  An evangelist named Horatio Spafford wrote the song in 1873 after he experienced profound tragedy and sorrow in his own life.  He was a successful attorney and Presbyterian church elder from Chicago who had a deep faith in God.  Although he and his wife, Anna, and five children seemed to have a charmed life and beautiful home on Chicago’s north side, they were severely tested.  In 1870 their only son, Horatio, Jr., died of scarlet fever. In October 1871 the “Great Chicago Fire” destroyed their vast real estate holdings near Lake Michigan.  Still they trusted God!  In 1873, Spafford decided to take his wife and four daughters to Europe to assist the great evangelist, Dwight L. Moody, and his song leader, Ira D. Sankey, who had written many songs.  A business emergency kept him from accompanying his family, whom he sent on ahead on a steamer.  He planned to join them in Europe a few weeks later.  Tragically, on November 22, 1873, the steamer his wife and four daughters were on was struck by a British iron sailing ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  All four of his daughters were killed.  Miraculously, his wife, Anna, who had lost consciousness, was picked up by a life boat as she floated in the middle of the ocean. A few days later, Spafford sailed to meet his wife in Europe.  As the ship passed the place where his beloved daughters had drowned, he looked out at the sea and through tear-stained eyes, said aloud, “It is well with my soul.”  Even though he could scarcely understand it at the time, and perhaps felt like Job of old, he was able to write the song that has gone down in history as one of the most beloved hymns of all time, “It Is Well With My Soul”!  By the way, God gave him and his wife three more children.

Do we understand all of life’s tragedies?  No!  Does God work good through them?  Yes!  We can stand on Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (ESV)  My prayers are with the victims of the Oklahoma tragedy.  I know many have already given testimony on national TV of the grace and mercy, as well as their love, of God!  May He continue to help them through the days ahead.  Let’s all hold them up in prayer!

What Constitutes a “Good Song”?

We’ve seen in the last few posts that God is pleased with many kinds of worship and music as long as He is glorified and worshipped in “spirit and in truth”.  It is obvious that actual music, as in types of foods enjoyed, art, outdoor scenery, clothing, movies, books, or  other activities, is very diverse and that there is no right or wrong kind of music!  The primary goal is that the worshipper be brought into the presence of God through the words and beautiful melodies of the songs, some learned and even some spontaneous, all of which should glorify our great God and Creator of the Universe!  As we brought out in a past post, praising God in song, word, dance, shouting, lifting of hands, on the instruments, and even bowing before Him in silence, are all very scriptural ways to worship!  One way not mentioned is “being a spectator”!

Colossians 3:16 has long been one of my “theme” scriptures as a musician and teacher of music.  It reads:  “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.” (KJV)   I also love Psalm 33:3, particularly as a pianist:  “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.” (ESV)  I Corinthians 14:26 puts it this way, “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters?  When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.” (NIV)  It is apparent that God’s plan for the Church was for each of us to participate in some way, not just sit as spectators while a small group does all of the “worshipping”.  If we are not entering in, we may as well stay home!  According to the above verses, we are to teach and admonish one another in the Body of Christ collectively with particular emphasis on “each of you” doing something.  What then, you may ask, is the difference between a “psalm”, a “hymn” and a “spiritual song”?

I believe that psalms can be read or sung; they include David’s beautiful poetic praise to the Lord in the Old Testament and other scripture specifically set to music as total praise and adoration to the Lord!  They are totally scriptural in that we are singing or speaking forth nothing but the Word of God.  This is, in essence, our “confession of faith” or confession of the Word in a particular situation, which builds us up in our spirits and increases our faith in God for particular situations in our lives.  Hymns, by contrast, may include scripture and can in essence present the whole Gospel message in a single anthem or song.  However, they may also include some words of testimony and adoration coming from the composer’s pen that are not necessarily the exact words of scripture as are the psalms, although they contain the essence of the thought.  Both of these are very scriptural and  should be employed in our worship services!  Spiritual songs may contain words of joyous testimony, words about our daily experiences in our Christian walk, upbeat utterances of praise or spontaneous praises to God not even written down on paper!

Here are three good ideas or criteria of what a song should include if it is to be considered for a worship team to sing.  I was recently visiting with a pastor of a large church and he said these are the guidelines he gives his worship leaders:

1.  Is the song meaningful, in that it glorifies God?  Does this song bring Him glory in its words, musically and throughout its emphasis, reinforcing the teachings of Scripture and not contradicting what we believe to be true according to the Word of God?

2.  Is it singable?  Many songs being sung in churches today are totally “unsingable” for the average congregation.  They are not pitched right and because of this some people do not know which octave they should sing the melody in!  Many are too high or too low because they have been transcribed from the music of a band with very high-voiced males, which is not the range of the average singer.  Sometimes the songs are very “wordy” and hard to learn; they are not in correct meter and thus, though they may sound good on an album, totally “unsingable” by the average amateur musician, who may not even read notes.

3.  Is it memorable?  Is the song one that sticks in your mind during the week and  easy to remember?  Studies have shown that songs containing simple, repetitive phrases and “musical hooks” are much more easily retained than complex musical patterns containing hard-to-remember phrases.  Songs should contain rhyming words, meter and rhythm to be considered a strong, singable song.  People worship more fully when they do not have to concentrate so deliberately on struggling with or learning the song, but just lose themselves in the essence and spirit of it!  Once a new song is introduced, it should be sung and re-sung regularly until the congregation becomes familiar with it.

These are just a few thoughts on what makes a good song and what God has in mind for our worship experience, based on His Word.  Obviously, if we enter into His Presence in worship, we will be abundantly blessed!

What Type of Worship Does God Enjoy?

Rebecca Baker 4        Well, that really is a loaded question, isn’t it? You may say, “how do we know what God likes?” There are so many styles of worship  music to choose from, ranging all the way from classical to rap and everything in between! When it comes to worship, you may feel His presence while listening to a heavy metal song with a driving beat; or you may prefer some classic anthems of praise sung by an anointed choir. Some people like to stomp their feet and tap their toes to Southern Gospel; many people get it on to Black Gospel (one of my personal favorites!) because the sheer energy and rhythm of the song makes it virtually impossible not to clap, dance and move about! Of course, these same styles of music sung at a slower pace can cause a flood of emotions through the sheer beauty of the chords, bringing tears to our eyes and healing to our spirits.

How can this be, you ask?  What is there about music that touches us so deeply?  It’s simply because musical patterns have been scientifically created by the Great Musician, our wonderful God we serve! That is why some chords sound right together and others just don’t work. When you choose to go against the natural patterns He created, you have what is called “dissonance”. I believe Satan is the author of much discord in music, but that is another subject for another day.  There is nothing more intrinsically “spiritual” about one type of musical pattern over another.  Now, of course, putting words to the music can bring out emotions, but  music itself is not “spiritual”.  This is why musicians hundreds of years ago could take the common “bar tunes” of the day and put words of praise and worship magnifying God that we sing today as the “old hymns of the church”!  The question then is: How is God blessed and moved by our worship of Him? What style does He appreciate? The Word says “He inhabits, or lives in, our praises” so it seems to me that music uplifting Him, of any genre, is first and foremost what He enjoys if our hearts are totally directed towards Him in our worship! The Word is replete with examples of worship pleasing to our Lord. If you would like to do a study on which forms of worship God encourages, the following passages will be helpful:

Shouts of praise:Shout for joy to God, all the earth;” (Psalm 66:1, ESV); “So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting…” (I Chronicles 15:28, ESV)
Singing:Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!” (Psalm 47:6, ESV) Also check out I Chronicles 16:9  “Sing to him; sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!” (ESV); Psalm 66:4, Psalm 68:32, Psalm 96:1 (“Oh sing to the Lord a new song…”); Colossians 3:16, and on and on! There are literally hundreds of verses about singing in the Word of God.
Tambourines and Lyres: “They sing to the tambourine and the lyre and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.” (Job 21:12, ESV)
Cymbals and Trumpets: “Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!” (Psalm 150:5, ESV); “The singers…were to sound bronze cymbals;” (I Chronicles 15:19 (ESV); “Heman and Jeduthun had trumpets and cymbals for the music and instruments for sacred song.” (I Chronicles 16:42, ESV); “Praise him with the sound of the trumpet” (Psalm 150:3, KJV).
Making merry; rejoicing in song: “And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord, with songs….” (2 Samuel 6:5, ESV); “And David and all Israel were rejoicing before God with all their might, with song…” (I Chronicles 13:8, ESV)
Playing and singing together: “Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings (how many fingers do you have…could this be clapping?). Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.” (Psalm 33:2 and 3, KJV)
Clapping unto the Lord:Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” (Psalm 47:1, ESV)
Stringed instruments and organs: “Praise him with stringed instruments and organs.” (Psalm 150:4, KJV)
Dancing: “Praise him with the timbrel and dance:” (Psalm 150:4a, KJV); “Let them praise his name in the dance:” (Psalm 149:3, KJV)
Lifting of hands:Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.” (Psalm 134:2, KJV); “I desire then that in every place men should pray, lifting holy hands…” (I Timothy 2:8, ESV)

     There are literally hundreds more verses on this subject of music and worship in both the Old and New Testaments.   To answer the question:  It is obvious that God likes many different styles of music for He created all music!   All through the Word, we are told to worship with joy, loud praises, shouting, and thankfulness. Worship is to be a happy, exuberant experience!  In a day and age where everything is specialized and carved out in little niches to try and please everybody (a literal impossibility!), perhaps we can depend on the Holy Spirit’s guidance to show what the music we employ to worship the King of the Universe in the corporate setting should sound like! I pray we will all worship Him “in spirit and in truth” as Jesus said that “true worshippers” would do in John 4:23,24. It’s time to stop going through the motions and worship from our hearts!

Should Christians Observe the Passover?

Here is a blog I did seven years ago which I would like to “re-post” today as it is extremely relevant to the current worldwide Corona Virus pandemic.  I believe if God’s people will pray and appropriate the Blood of the Lamb (Jesus or Yeshua) today, as done millenniums ago by the Israelites who were released from their bondage that night, we can see an ending to this terrible plague and move into victory through His blood!  Though not able to observe this together, we as believers can virtually or symbolically claim God’s promises and protection from illness over our homes!  Please read on:

]Every Biblical Dinner I am so blessed to see all the happy faces enjoying the message, the fellowship and the food.

I am in Tonopah, Nevada for a few days with my husband, a professional engineer, who is on a consulting job for a gold mine near here. Pretty neat, huh? This picturesque small town nestled amid the mountains in the “high country” between Las Vegas and Reno, near the California border, was the perfect setting to observe the beautiful full “Passover” moon last night. My husband and I read the Passover story from Exodus 12, particularly verse 14, “So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.” (NKJV) Should this verse be ignored as it seems to be by  many churches? What does it mean to us as Christians today?

“Passover” was the night described in this chapter where God struck dead the firstborn children and animals of all the Egyptians, but “passed over” the Israelites who had, by God’s decree, slain an unblemished lamb at twilight and put its blood on their doorposts. When the death angel saw the blood, he “passed over” that house and allowed their firstborn to live! This is why the Jewish people to this day observe the anniversary of this mighty miracle wrought by Yahweh to free His people from slavery! I was pleasantly surprised to see on the news this morning that our president and his wife even observed a “seder” (Passover meal) at the Whitehouse last night with a number of guests.

We know that our Lord Jesus Christ, Yeshua, completely fulfilled the Passover by His death on the cross and the shedding of His blood as the final sacrifice needed for our salvation! This is the fundamental core doctrine of all Christians who believe in salvation by grace. But, knowing that Christ fulfilled this event, wouldn’t it be great to use this holy day as a teaching tool for our children, as mentioned in Exodus 12 by God? I remember we used to have a special meal of lamb on this night, as did the Israelite people of old, and we put a little stuffed lamb by each child’s plate signifying that Jesus is the Lamb of God. They remember the event to this day!

Some would argue that we are not Jewish, hence we need not observe any of these ceremonies because Christ fulfilled the ceremonial laws! I quite agree that He did; however, let us remember that the Jewish people are descended from only one of the twelve tribes of Israel (thirteen actually, as the sons of “Joseph” were actually divided into two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, by his father Israel, known as Jacob, when he gave them the inheritance before his death).  There are twelve other tribes, known as the “lost tribes” which have been integrated into other societies throughout the world. You may very well be an Israelite! Does that surprise you? Well, without getting into the devisive teaching of whether or not there are two “houses”, the House of Israel and the House of Judah, as mentioned in the Word, let us just say that observing some sort of “Passover” remembrance is certainly not wrong, and a wonderful opportunity to thank and praise our Heavenly Father for His wondeful miracle of letting His people go from the land of Egypt!  Besides, as children of God, born into His family through conversion and the New Birth, we are by adoption the seed of Abraham and may rightfully claim all of the privileges and blessings promised to him so many years ago! I love Isaiah 41:8, “But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend.” (NKJV) This verse speaks about Jacob (Israel) being “God’s chosen”. It says nothing about only the tribe of Judah being His “chosen”. This blesses me, because I know I am “God’s chosen” and have the right to partake of His blessings!  I believe that as true Christian believers, we partake of “Passover” when we observe the Lord’s Supper, which is what Jesus (Yeshua) did with his disciples the night He was betrayed and then arrested.  He has commanded us to do the same “in remembrance of His death”.

The Apostle Paul states in Romans 11:1, “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” (NKJV) Any who are physically or spiritually descended from one of the tribes of Israel can claim all the promises God made to His people through Abraham and later Moses. God (Yahweh) sent His Son, Jesus (Yeshua), to be that blood sacrifice and sin offering necessary for our atonement. Thus, He fulfilled Passover and the Day of Atonement when He was crucified on the Cross just before Passover. He then arose at the end of the Sabbath (the Bible speaks about the dawning towards the first day of the week, which would be Sunday, when the women discovered the empty tomb). We are not sure exactly when He arose, but the word “dawning” is also translated “dusking” in the original Greek text, indicating He probably came forth at the end of the Sabbath, around sundown. As you are probably aware, the Jewish days begin and end at sundown. When I think of Jesus fulfilling the atonement required for righteousness, the Passover observances, as well as the Sabbath, I get very excited and want to shout and sing! I know this blog is supposed to be about music, and I see a whole symphony of music played in this story! Happy Passover and Resurrection Sunday, everyone! Be blessed in Yeshua’s Name!

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The “Dumbing Down” of Music?

OK, so maybe this doesn’t sound like the most “spiritual” topic to you; perhaps you think I am just going to “vent” about some of my pet peeves concerning music today, especially as it relates to the current church scene.  Well, please bear with me.  I think you’ll find some interesting observations here that may even get you thinking about some issues you may not have thought of!

A few weeks ago my husband and I visited a nearby church that featured a very “free” style contemporary praise band.  Although it was loud, it wasn’t any different than countless other churches I had been in which featured the same style of “three chord” simplistic “praise” music, complete with several guitars, drums, keyboards, etc.  You get my drift!  Anyway, about twenty minutes into the worship, the lady seated directly in front of us started to put her hands over her ears as if in intense pain.  I hoped she was OK!  Then, she whispered something to her husband and left the sanctuary.  I assumed she wouldn’t be back until the worship was over; it was quite apparent she found the music too loud for her ears.  Well, to my great surprise, she emerged again in just a couple of minutes with two ear plugs in her hands, which she promptly put in and continued sitting by her husband!  Needless to say, I don’t think she was getting much out of the worship!

In sharp contrast, we recently visited a rehearsal for a world-renowned church choir with a more liturgical or classical slant to their music.  As they sang, I noticed the woman sitting in front of me began wiping tears from her eyes as she pulled a hanky from her purse.  Obviously, she was greatly moved emotionally by the song and the tears followed.

Now, what do these two incidents have in common, you may ask?  To my mind, it seemed as if the first woman, who was obviously there to worship, was not getting a thing out of the musical service.  She was “enduring” it!  In sharp contrast, the second woman was moved to tears by the sheer emotion exuded by a great composer and glorious choir and was obviously touched somewhere down in her soul!

I have read many times Psalm 33:3, “Sing unto Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.”  (NKJV)

I’ve used this verse so many times to encourage people to take piano (or another instrument) lessons, or even learn to sing properly, when I had my teaching studio in Texas for over 28 years.  As a student of classical music myself, I have a deep appreciation for good music, properly performed.  Badly performed music leaves me cold!   When a person has sung or played beautiful, challenging music with intricate and fascinating chord structures and patterns, such as I have, it is extremely difficult not to be bored with the current three chord “pablum” being offered up as the sole choice for any given worship service in many churches.  Any other alternative, such as time-honored hymns written by revered musicians, men and women of God, are sadly viewed as absolutely unacceptable in some churches!  It sometimes appears that the churches who wish to have a “free” worship style and move into “praise and worship” also fail to utilize great music and seasoned, well-trained musicians who can play “skillfully” as the Word mentions in Psalms.  It seems to be the “dumbing down” of music!

Interestingly,  Numbers 8:24-26 speaks of the Levites (the priests) serving in the tabernacle from the age of 25-50.  In I Chronicles   23:3-5  we read that the Levites from the age of 30 and up numbered 38,000 and of that number 24,000 were to carry forward the work of the house of the Lord.  Of this number, we read in verse 5:  “…four thousand praised the Lord with the instruments which I made, said David to praise therewith.” (KJV)  I want to get into this whole concept of trained, paid temple musicians more in future postings, but suffice it to say that by reading about the Levites, many of whom were musicians, we see that they were first of all trained, then spent many years actually performing as musicians before spending the last part of their lives teaching the next generation of musicians coming up!  In II Chronicles 20 we read that the singers and musicians led the  army against the enemy as they sang and praised God!  Verse 28 mentions “stringed instruments and harps and trumpets, to the house of the Lord.”  (NKJV)

It is obvious (and we will get into this subject more later) that these were skilled musicians,  anointed by God to lead the praise and worship!  Is there room for more than one type of music in our worship today?  I think that the answer is emphatically, yes!  Different styles minister to different people; it has not as much to do with age as with preference.  Does everyone like the same kind of food or pick the same thing at a buffet?  Do we all order the same food off the menu?  The same is true with our musical tastes.  Skilled musicians are going to have a greater appreciation for a deeper type of musical genre than someone who has had no musical training, perhaps.  Should we honor differing musical tastes in our worship times?  I believe we should!  If someone is not worshiping, but using ear plugs to endure, perhaps the whole idea of helping everyone enter into the presence of God has been lost!

Let’s stop picking apart each other’s musical tastes and admit that God loves variety and diversity.  Why not help each other enter into worship by respecting  various musical preferences and allow skilled, trained musicians to help us enter into the presence of God!