Tag Archive | Worship Music

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!



The Power of Music to Lift, Heal and Inspire!

Worship[1]A few weeks ago my husband and I decided to take a trip to the Grand Canyon.  I had never actually been there before (only flown over it several times), and the whole experience was above and beyond my expectations!  I was simply overtaken with awe and wonder at the majesty and grandeur of this magnificent work of art which our Heavenly Father made for us to enjoy!

The verses in Psalm 95:1-5 came to me.  They read, “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!  Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.  For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods.  In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also.  The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land.”  (NKJV)

The Grand Canyon, which is one mile deep, certainly demonstrates the height of the hills and the deep places of the earth.  We also read that His hands formed the dry land; He also made the sea.  Even if God used the erosion process from the mighty Colorado River to design the gorgeous colored rock formations, it was His hands that guided the flow of the river!

This passage speaks about singing before the Lord and coming before His presence with thanksgiving, joyfully shouting to Him with psalms!  Did you know that God loves to hear our praises?  He is the greatest example of someone singing to the ones He loves.  The prophet Zephaniah writes, “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zeph. 3:17, NKJV)

If God rejoices over us, His children, with singing and gladness, shouldn’t we do the same in worship back to Him?  We have so much to be thankful for, even when we experience sorrow and suffering.  We know that He will ultimately never give us anything to endure that is not for our good and that in the end we will come through each trial in victory!  This alone is something to shout and sing about!

Did you know that for years researchers have studied why and how music has such an enormous effect on people?  They have concluded that one of the most amazing properties of music is that it can reach parts of the brain and evoke memories that speech simply can’t reach!  This is the reason therapists often use music from a patient’s past to connect with them, often bringing dementia patients and stroke victims into the present through hearing a song and enabling them to connect with reality and speak again.  The reason for this is that a different part of the brain is used in singing and making music than in normal speech.  That is why many  people who have a stuttering problem can sing words with no difficulty!

Music has been found to boost athletic performance, help with science and mathematics skills, soothe and heal injuries, help depression, autism, and Alzheimer’s, as well as increase academic performance in general.  Don’t you think our Heavenly Father, the great God of the Universe, knew there was a certain compartment in our brains that only music could fill?  Shouldn’t we be using this beautiful gift He gave us to give back to Him in praise and worship?  After all, the primary reason why we were created is to give praise and glory to our Creator!  Our fellowship with Him will last throughout Eternity, so don’t you think it’s time we started using the gift of music He gave us?  Even if you don’t feel you have much musical ability; even if you don’t think you can hardly carry a tune; even if you don’t play a musical instrument, start in your own way to worship Him!  Try singing some of the Psalms or praise songs, or just worship Him with your own words!  You’ll be amazed at the uplifting effects!  Put on a praise CD and sing along if you are feeling down in the dumps; try singing along to some upbeat tunes as you do your housework or drive through freeway traffic; beautiful soothing worship music can help you unwind at day’s end and heal your troubled heart, helping you get to sleep faster.

We don’t need to know why music has such power in order to benefit from it.  Although it may remain an amazing and wondrous mystery, I believe God gave music to us, in the same way He formed the majestic Grand Canyon, for our enjoyment!  A great musician once remarked, “I believe one of the main purposes in God giving us music is to teach the spiritual principle of unity and oneness.  In a choir, band, or orchestra, each works in perfect harmony for a common goal.”  I agree!  Each time I have been a part of a musical group, the feeling of oneness during the performance has been exhilarating.  Could this experience give us glimpses into the spiritual unity of Heaven?

Some of today’s music, sadly, does not bring peace, nor does it edify; neither does it bring unity or sound harmonious.  Some music may sound more like tuning up part of a symphony orchestra, rather than of the symphony!  Great anthems and hymns of the Church, along with more contemporary praise and worship music that glorifies God, can bring a person into His presence like nothing else!  I challenge you to begin making music to the Lord in any way that you can….He loves to hear your praises!


Real Men Don’t Need Church?

  scared-man-5621790[1]              Chris_Kyle  

Guest Post by my husband, Russell D. Bafford, Sr…. 

Look around any evangelical church service on a Sunday morning and count the people you see.  It is likely women will outnumber men 2 or 3 to 1.  Why is that?  It is because the Christian churches in the USA have become feminized over a period of decades.  Some more so than others, but most have succumbed to the societal trend that shuns, or de-emphasizes, masculine interests, values, and goals in favor of “softer, kinder, gentler” interests, values, and goals of women.   Books, essays, seminars, conferences and a host of other forums have acknowledged this phenomenon, and there has been much collective hand-wringing about what should be done to reverse this trend. 

Worship music can help men feel welcome, or it can drive men away.  More on that later, but let me first share some observations I had as a young boy growing up in the Midwest in a mainline protestant church.  None of the men I saw in the church seemed to care much about what the Bible had to say.  It was just not relevant to their daily lives … or at least it seemed that way to this impressionable young boy.  I never saw my own father read the Bible or pray.  Then I encountered a man who had a profound, lasting effect on me.  He never spoke to me; I don’t know his name; but what I saw him do has been etched in my memory for at least 50 years.  While sitting in the waiting room of my dentist, I saw this man come in, sit down, pick up the Bible from the table, open it, and read it.  He didn’t flip through the pages quickly.  He actually read one whole page and then the next one and then the next …  I was amazed.  He didn’t look like a wimp.  He didn’t look crazy.  He looked like he was genuinely interested in the contents of that book.  He looked like a real man, and today I know he was just that.

Nearly twenty years later God would use the contents of that book to draw me, through conviction and repentance, to Himself.  As I read the Bible through for the first time, I saw God-fearing men portrayed in a different light.  They were courageous, brave, bold, stern at times, stupid at times, compassionate, warriors at times, and they could even be gentle.  The first century Christian men I saw in the Bible were not limp-wristed wusses who trembled at every peril they faced.  Their courage and boldness came from the Lord in a measure far beyond what they could muster on their own.  As a result of what the Bible had to say about men, my paradigm of a Christian man changed.

Fast forward to 21st century worship music.  When men are forced to sing praise songs to the Lord that contain romantic lyrics such as those that express a woman’s desire to be embraced by the strong man of her dreams, then many men lose interest.  Such lyrics might resonate with a single woman, a divorced woman, or a woman who has an unbelieving, cold husband, and there is a place for those expressions of love and desire in women-only events.  However, don’t be surprised if the men in the crowd are less than enthusiastic about mouthing those same words of romantic affection.

Want to really engage the men in your worship?  Sing songs about Christ’s kingdom, His power, His blood, His sacrifice, commitment to Him, service for His kingdom, and in general … what He has done for us.  Read the words Martin Luther wrote in A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, and you’ll better understand what concepts resonate with most Christian men.

Real men need to worship God with other believers, too.  Christian men WANT to do that!  Our churches need to encourage their participation without requiring them to leave their masculinity outside the building.

“…not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  (Hebrews 10:25, NIV)

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!

Cold Pea Salad

I’ve received so many comments regarding the lack of variety and inclusion of worshipful hymns and songs that truly glorify God in our churches, that I have decided to include parts of just a few of them so you might see what some readers are thinking.  These have come as a result of several posts pertaining to the monotony, general lack of Biblical content, and “me” centered songs, rather than worshipful, melodious, Christ-centered ones.  Here are a few examples:


“This is real frustration felt by so many of us “old-timers”….I for one really loved the old hymns, and they still evoke a myriad of emotions in me…the new worship choruses, not so much.  Even so, the Holy Spirit speaks to hearts through music in spite of how it changes…all it takes is a receptive heart.”

“We have talked about taking ear plugs to church….”

“I struggle every week during worship with resentment at the worship team’s choice of songs.  Almost all are unfamiliar, “unsingable” due to complexity or range, or simply focused on the worshiper instead of the Lord.  And then the congregation applauds at the end of each song, which to me is praise for the singers, not the One being worshiped (it is not ‘clapping to the Lord’)….”

“The single largest problem the church faces today is having its priorities out of whack.  Worship and glorification of the Lord must come first, everything else including evangelism comes after.”


OK, so is it just disgruntled old “fogies” who are upset because their hymns have been replaced with contemporary worship songs? Do these people really hate lively songs with a good beat, including bass, guitars and percussion, preferring old, stale, slow, quiet hymns of another era? Or could it just be, perhaps, that they would like something called “variety” in worship?

Recently my husband and I attended a live, on-stage performance of C.S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters“, in which his famous book is portrayed in monologue form.  The late writer used allegory, symbolism and a hint of sarcasm to portray Satan and his demons at work on earth and especially in the church, among the saints who professed faith in Jesus Christ.  Let me try a little of his brilliant technic (however, probably not quite as brilliantly and cleverly as his was)!

I recently went to a buffet (or smorgasbord, as the Swedes call it) to hopefully try a variety of foods for my palate.  I was starved and looked forward to heaping my plate up with lots of goodies!  To my horror, I discovered that every dish on the serving line was filled with “Cold Pea Salad” as the signs indicated.  Now, I love “Cold Pea Salad” and started to take a heaping spoonful, but then I realized that the next spoonful and the next would be the same….my plate was soon full of “Cold Pea Salad”!  When I asked the manager what this was all about, he smiled and told me very politely that the restaurant had tried serving “Cold Peaches” about ten years ago, but people got weary of them.  So, about five years ago they switched entirely to “fish”; of course, the same thing happened, he said…people got very tired of fish before long!  So, now they were serving what he was sure everyone loved, “Cold Pea Salad”!  When I asked him if there was any chance of getting something else to eat, he promptly told me that a restaurant up the street was serving “Green Bean Salad” to all of its customers and I might like to try that one.  I thanked him and left.  On the way out, he shouted at me, “Oh, by the way, ma am, next Tuesday we’ll have a special menu; it will be ‘Chilled Pea Casserole’.  You might want to come back for that!”  Thankfully, I found a restaurant a few blocks away with a varied menu and enjoyed my meal!

Now, of course, you can see how ridiculous this is, but in many ways, it seems the Church has followed this line of thinking.  When it observed the world coming out with a new style of music, it was not too far behind in following the trend, instead of setting it!  If a survey showed that people of a certain age group (and this is certainly our target audience; who cares about the rest!) enjoy one kind of music, we shall bend over backward to please them, ignoring the cries of, “Can’t we have some variety?  I like this kind of music, and the guy over there likes another.  Can’t we sing both styles occasionally?”

I made a promise to myself and to my blog followers on my first post that I would not write a “negative rant” for a blog.  I have tried to keep this promise!  If I point out a “negative”, or a problem, for example, I would like to follow it up with a “positive”.  That is why I am going to post Part Two of this blog next week with some possible solutions to this situation.  I have prayed and asked the Lord to guide me in what I write and I feel that the Holy Spirit has given me some good ideas that may be a blessing and of some benefit to worship leaders and those in the congregation, as well.  ‘Til next time, be blessed!