preacherpen

Music & Words

One of the things I really enjoy is listening to both music and talk radio. Music takes us on journeys to places we enjoy going. There is such a wide range of genres to choose from; surely there is something for everyone. The purpose of this page is to pass along some of my favorite sites, music and thoughts regarding what I’m interested in. You might just find something interesting, too. This page is a work in progress, so keep looking.

CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN
I have not always been in tune with this style of music, but it is practically all I listen to these days. Now, some of it is too edgy for my tastes, but there is plenty to satisfy my palate. Artists such as Third Day, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, Casting Crowns, Avalon, Chris Tomlin, Aaron Shust, Mercy Me and Jars of Clay happen to be among my favorites. If you are unfamiliar with the term, Wikipedia has a great definition of Contemporary Christian Music.

CONTEMPORARY WORSHIP
I suppose this music arena has been the cause of more lively discussions than any other. One preacher I used to work with said something that rings so true, and is insightful beyond words – “when the devil was kicked out of heaven, he landed smack in the middle of the music department.” How sad, but how true.

People are territorial creatures. We set up shop, and don’t want anyone to bring something new to the established layout. Guilty! I used to think if the songs didn’t come out of the old redback hymnal, they weren’t of God. Oh, how sad I used to be. Unfortunately, there are scores of people who are stuck in that mindset, and refuse to listen to anything except “I’ll Fly Away” or “The Old Rugged Cross”. I love those old songs, and they are still needed today. Let us never throw them away simply to embrace something new.

In our church, we do blended worship because I have to feed all sorts of people. If it were up to me, we would sing nothing but Contemporary Praise and Worship. The thing is, it’s not about me or you; our focus ought to be on pleasing God. Don’t sing a song that is unscriptural, sing something that uplifts the name of Jesus, declaring how wonderful He is.

As I see it, here’s a major major difference between traditional Christian music (out of the old redback hymnal) and contemporary praise and worship: in the former, songs speak of our journey, and the latter speaks about how wonderful God is. Truthfully, I would rather lift my hands in praise and adoration than sing about barely getting by and hearing my mother sing again. Psalm 150 declares:

1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. 2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. 3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. 4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. 5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. 6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

For a better understanding, look at the Wikipedia definition of Contemporary Worship.

I love worshiping with Hillsong, Don Moen, Israel and New Breed, Alvin Slaughter, Clint Brown, Terry MacAlmon, Sion Alford, Karen Wheatonand Judy Jacobs. This list is certainly not complete, but there’s enough here to satisfy my soul.

SOUTHERN GOSPEL
Like so many others, I cut my teeth on Southern Gospel, and still find great inspiration in much of today’s offerings. There is no doubt in my mind the Lord has greatly blessed this style of music. It would be difficult for me to list all the groups and artists who have impacted my life by singing songs from their hearts. I suppose if just a handful of favorite artists had to be listed, it would look something like this: The Hinsons, Cathedrals, The Florida Boys, The Dixie Echoes, The Inspirations, The Days, Gold City and The Martins. Here’s what Wikipedia says about Southern Gospel.

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  1. Very nice Pastor Ron! I like your new website and enjoy all the goodies you provided.

  2. Music is one of the greatest joys of life, it can quiet the loudest mouths, make the timid dance, or make large stadiums of hundreds of thousands of people from so many different cultures and beliefs feel like “brothers”. I feel that God is everything, as determined in Genesis, I also believe that everything happens for a reason; for us to learn, so that we can teach and pass on the knowledge that we gain. With those concepts I open my mind to the possibilities of God (of course I keep my mind open to the possibilities of diversions, or disguises). I may not be a “typical” Christian. I don’t go to church when others think I should. I don’t tithe like the bible says I should. When it comes to music I like the “atypical” Christian music. For those that are having a problem converting from the Old Red Book to Jars of Clay would maybe completely disagree with the music that I enjoy. And those of you who do enjoy Jars of Clay and other “contemporary” Christian music may also not appreciate the music I enjoy. Before I put names on these artists I want to share some lyrics and some of their “musical approaches” and how they correspond to Christianity.
    There is a song titled “Memphis will be Laid to Waste” and one of the lyrics are “Christ is not a fashion fleeting away” I think that hits my generation of Christians with a sense of pride. In another song by the same artist the author states “my God rains down power, my God rains down fire. War!” I believe this statement is trying to state that God is all powerful. Even the most humble Christian man should have the feeling of protection over his family and loved ones.

  3. …I got cut off there.

    In the world of heaven, and angels, and demons, and the war between them for souls, God has created amazing Warriors, bloodthirsty for the “dark side”. And the author of this song is demonstrating it.

    listen to a song titled
    Robots 3 Humans 0, there is a link under the title to read the lyrics. The author never uses direct imagery in this song but always is speaking “around” his literal intent. I believe God works in this way as well. He may give us signs that we miss because our eyes aren’t open to his wonders. All I am wanting is for people to give it a try, try to open your eyes to this aspect of the Lord, and you may see a different side of His glory.

  4. Shane D. R.,

    Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts with us. Yes, it is certainly true we all don’t fit in the same mold. When first coming to Christ as my Savior, I was of the opinion if it wasn’t sung out of the red hymnal, it wasn’t of God. The Lord had to deal with me on that one, and I learned God is interested in worship more than the color of book we sing from.

    The body of Christ is made of all kinds of people from all walks of life. Thankfully, we are not all alike; we have different ideas, plans, feelings and desires.

    I took the liberty of editing out the link to the video. I did go to the site, however, and browsed around a bit. Though it may be exactly what you said it is, what was on the site just isn’t something I wanted people to link to from this blog. Please understand my point, too.

    Listen to that music if you want, and you won’t get an argument out of me. The main point is: listen to what brings you to the Lord and you know He would be pleased with.

  5. Pastor Parish –

    Thanks for inviting me to your site. I found it very insightful and uplifting and will definitely share it with others.
    We appreciate your ministry and all you bring to the PCG program.

    Continued Blessings,

    Lora

  6. […] Me|Music & Words|Write Me|Printed Matter|Polls|Copyright & Disclaimer|Sports […]

  7. I have listened to many of the “contemporary” music groups you mentioned, and I couldn’t agree with you more. These people have produced some of the most beautiful, CHristian music I’ve ever heard. Have you tried Jason Upton, Matt Redman, Cindy Ratcliffe (and Lakewood), and Klaus Kuehn from CHrist for the Nations? I believe that the language of heaven is song, and God has poured out his anointing more and more on many gifted and humble vessels that are willing to be used for His purposes these last days as the end draws near. There is a different quality to the songs that we hear these days. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. THis is my first time on your blogsite and I do appreciate your thoughts.

    • crown of beauty, thanks so much for dropping by; it is greatly appreciated. To answer your question about some of the artists you’ve mentioned, I have listened to Matt Redman and Cindy Ratcliffe (if she is of the Lakewood Church). The other two are unfamiliar to me, though.

      Many may not agree with this point of view, but with the old hymns, the focus seems to be on we humans. In other words, many of the songs are about how we’ll fare. It seems to me the emphasis in contemporary praise and worship is on the wonder and majesty of the Lord. I know that’s a simple analogy, but seems to fit.

      Please come back often; you are more than welcome.

  8. Hi thank you for visiting my blog today. Yes, you are right about some of the old hymns. they were expressions of the hymnwriter’s heart in the same way that the contemporary Christian music writers are writing music that best expresses the season they find themselves in… and this is also the season in which we live. Which is why I believe that even though I am 55 years old, I can really connect to most of the contemporary Christian music that my 25 year old son plays and listens to. Try looking for Jason Upton’s Lion of Judah and Jacob’s Dream, to name a few. I am certain you will be carried away once you listen to them. By the way, I also love fountain pens and had quite a few in my possession, until the modern disposable pens like pilot came along. I’ll probably go back to using one of my Parker pens one of these days. Well…all for now. Glad to have come across your site. It was really your thoughts about music that caught my attention. Blessings!

    • We have many things in common: love for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, contemporary Christian music, fountain pens and our age. Wonderful. I recently ruined a colleague by helping him start a fountain pen collection. Come again as often as you want; you are always welcome here.

      BTW, for some reason your link is broken, so I’ve fixed it for this post. Your url is missing the “m” in com.

  9. The contemporary worship issue is a tough one for me, and some day I’ll have to write my own post about it. Beyond that, I can tell you what we listen to: for homeschool and to help Hannah memorize God’s Word, we really like Steve Green’s “Hide ’em in your heart” CDs. Finally, children’s Bible songs that are beautiful and instructive.

    The most likely compilations you’ll find in our car and in the house would be: Fernando Ortega, Don Francisco, Michael Card, Bob Bennett, Doug Oldham, Bill Pierce, and Phillips, Craig & Dean.

    • Onemom:

      The contemporary worship issue can certainly be divisive, but that is certainly not the intent. Not long after accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior, I began listening to the only Christian music in my circle of influence, which happened to be the old red-back hymnal and southern gospel. The fact is, at that time, nothing else was available to me, or so I was led to believe.

      Having such a strong indoctrination, my thoughts on the matter were quite clear: if it wasn’t out of the red-back hymnal or southern gospel, it must not be of God. Thankfully, the Lord began leading me to a greater understanding of other avenues of worship, and I am eternally grateful.

      Thanks for your comments, and I’m looking forward to reading your post on the matter.

  10. Hi, have your heard Jacob’s Dream by Jason Upton? If not, I invite you to visit my blogpost dated February 27 – Are You Dreaming Jacob’s Dream. You may want to listen to it from there.

    Blessings on your day.

    • No, I have not heard that particular song, but will shortly. First, there’s some husband things to do: take out the trash and put the grandchildren to bed. It sounds good, and thank you for the invitation. I’ll let you know about how it goes.

  11. I enjoyed you thoughts on worship music

  12. Dr. Phil & Marcia,
    I’m so glad you dropped by my blog, and you are welcome back any time. How did you find the site?

    My tastes in music is certainly eclectic; there’s so much to choose from. I don’t know if you read the post about the Original Hinsons or not, but it might be of interest.

  13. Ron,

    I am particularly fond of Greater Vision’s music. If you have heard them you know what I mean. If not, find a copy of their song “Lazarus”. And get ready for goose bumps. What a testimony Lazarus had. “If you think your little problem is too big for HIM to solve, just take it from the one who’s heard the mighty voice of GOD.”

    You spoke of being raised in Church. Wasn’t Grady a preacher? I think I remember that but can not remember where.

    Larry

    • Larry, I’ve heard of Greater Vision, but haven’t really listened to them much. That Lazarus song must be powerful, indeed.

      Yes, my Uncle Grady is still a preacher. He has been a church planter, too.

      Anyway, it’s time to pick up the grands. Be blessed.

  14. I’m a firm believer in music. It can set the tone for celebration (most Contemporary songs), worship (hymns), and just plain proclamation of our relationship with our creator (a mixture of both). Over the years, several decades to be sure, I have heard all kinds of music some of which were “rock” and some just “songs”. The ones that proclaim they are searching is where we all have been at some stage in our life and I believe they help to encourage people to seek the answers. Others are a celebration of having found “THE” answer. Others, still, encourage us to look beyond ourselves, to see the future in the heavenly realm, to be content in knowing Jesus as Friend and Savior, Helper,Strength, All-in-All, etc.
    My favorite are the Gaithers. Their songs are a full run of the whole scenario of music. I love the ones that are a kind of ballad, (“When I Prayed Through”): relationship, (“The Longer I Serve Him” – “In the Upper Room”)); reflection on your life’s status, (“Lovest Thou Me”), etc.
    God has given us so much to be grateful for and music helps us sometimes sort through the emotions we all experience. I know there have been many times in my life music has brought me out of the depths.

    • Julene,
      First of all, thanks for dropping by this small slice of the internet. Yes, music is a very important part of worship and absolutely sets the tone of the service. I’ve noticed when certain songs are played, or even certain styles, the mood of the people can be complacent, while other songs and styles produce a far different affect.

      I’m so thankful there’s all types of music for us to enjoy. No doubt, God loves to hear us singing; I do feel, however, much of our singing is for our benefit, too. It is evident to me one particular style doesn’t have all the answers; there is something wonderful when people sing from their hearts, not just sing to a particular beat.

  15. I know I’ll likely step on a few toes here with what I have to say, but I have my reasons for saying so.

    I personally advocate the old hymns, because back when our country as a whole was closer to the Lord, putting worship music to a rock beat was unthinkable back then. If we’re going to get serious about influencing our culture instead of allowing pop culture to influence the church, does it not make more sense to try to emulate styles of worship the way it was done back when we as a nation were closer to the Lord?

    The late Gordon Sears (1928-2001) said it best: “When the standard of music is lowered, then the standard of dress is also lowered. When the standard of dress is lowered, then the standard of conduct is also lowered. When the standard of conduct is lowered, then the sense of value in God’s truth is lowered.”

    I’ve studied this issue for years in my spare time and asked the Lord to show me which stance is correct. I used to think that contemporary worship was acceptable to God until I saw the above statement by Gordon Sears, and I had to say to myself “you know, he was right in that statement”. Besides, when you do contemporary worship, ask yourself, “just who is it I’m trying to please — God or man?” The thing you need to keep in mind when it comes to worship music is that you’re playing to an audience of ONE.

    I know I’ve taken an unpopular stance here, but please understand that I’m not questioning the salvation of those who prefer a contemporary style of worship. After all, I used to favor that myself until the Lord convicted me otherwise on this matter. In fact, I would say that there are probably no more than about 5-10% or so of all the people I know personally (if that much) that would agree with me on this. But it’s something that I believe should be addressed and that every worship leader should examine closely and objectively, and they should also be seeking the Lord on this matter and ask Him if the way they’ve been doing worship is an attempt to please God or an attempt to please man.

    Just my $.02 worth,
    Fred in St. Louis

    • Hello Fred,

      First of all, thank you for dropping by and leaving your $.02 worth; it is greatly appreciated. I do not mind allowing other opinions on this small slice of the internet, as long as people are not contemptuous, which you have absolutely not been. You are always welcome here.

      I won’t address everything you wrote, but will address a few main points. I was just the opposite in that my thinking was “if it ain’t Southern Gospel, it ain’t of God.” Looking back on my formative Christian years, I am amazed how much the Lord must have shaken his head at my unfettered zeal. I just went head-on, not realizing God loves all sorts of things.

      Why does it have to be about what you wrote above?

      I’ve studied this issue for years in my spare time and asked the Lord to show me which stance is correct.

      Fred, please think about this for a moment: what are a majority of the hymns in the old red-back hymnal about? Let me just answer that for you – they are mostly about us. We’ll do this and we’ll do that. I’ll just barely make it. Honestly, some of those songs are far from even being scriptural. The word of God says nothing about us barely making it in; rather, it declares an abundant entrance has been prepared for us. You do see a lot of whining in some of the old hymns.

      Now, when you listen to the words of many of the praise and worship songs of today, including the last twenty years or longer, what will you often hear? You will hear: Lord, You are awesome, You are glorious, You are wonderful. How majestic is Your name in all the earth. You are my Jesus, my Savior, Lord, there is none like You.

      Fred, do you see a pattern developing here? Whereas many of the old hymns focus on us, many of the praise and worship songs focus on who God really is. Personally, I prefer to sing about how wonderful the Lord is in my life.

      Now, I really like blended worship. In other words, there’s room for both. Generally speaking, young people aren’t going to come to Calvary while some of the songs in that old hymnal are being sung. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen; it most assuredly does, and thankfully so. I personally don’t like most of the old hymns, but it’s not about me. We are singing to edify ourselves and to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords. I would prefer not to sing most of the old hymns, but if it pleases the Lord, that’s okay by me, and I can sing them with reverence and admiration for the most high God.

      Let me quote something else from your comment:

      But it’s something that I believe should be addressed and that every worship leader should examine closely and objectively, and they should also be seeking the Lord on this matter and ask Him if the way they’ve been doing worship is an attempt to please God or an attempt to please man.

      I would ask you the very same question. Are you writing this because you have been convicted, or has the Lord plainly spoken it into your heart? Brother, do you not think worship leaders steal away before God and ask him for guidance? I find it incredulous for you to imply they don’t attempt to please God.

      This debate will go on for a long time, no doubt. When Satan was kicked out of heaven, he landed smack dab in the middle of the choir, according to my old pastor.

  16. Ron my friend,
    Once again I must thank you. Or better yet, thank the LORD for setting me straight. I am one of those who has hated the ‘singing on the wall” the bouncing ball I mean. I can not stand the praise and worship portion of our service. BUT.. I have come to understand exactly what you have alluded too and that is as long as there are young people to attract, things will be directed at them. And rightfully so. Interpretive dancing, etc. whatever they like. One thing is for sure. GOD does not operate according to our wishes or desires and HE desires that all should come to a saving knowledge of HIS grace. If I really truly dont want to hear that music, I can attend a small congregation of older adults. As a Baptist I have spent my life singing from an old Mull convention book and a Church of God “church Hymnal’. Thats some good singing to me but Im all for whatever the LORD wants. A good barometer is to ask yourself, is this scriptural? I am certainly about whether it is of GOD or of man. If GOD dont like it HE has said so.

    • Larry,
      We are often short-sighted in what we believe is pleasing to God. The scriptures are plain about faith pleasing the Lord. The word of God is also plain about our involvement in worship and praise; they both require action on our part.

      It took a while for me to begin understanding the relevance of what we call praise and worship music. If there was one person on the planet who refused to budge, it was me. Thankfully, God is gentle and suffers long while dealing with his children!

      Honestly, some of the songs in the red back hymnal make me cringe at the sheer unscriptural message they bring. Others help us enter the throne room of heaven, and that is as it should be.

      I appreciate you taking the time to read my explanation about this divisive issue. It can be a real contentious topic, but shouldn’t be. I like peanut butter with honey on it while others might only like chunky. Who’s to say one is better than the other? The Apostle Paul made an interesting point when he mentioned people need to understand what’s said.

      I just want to uplift the Lord and believe you do, too.

  17. Ron,
    In leading worship service I pray continuously. We are a country church with many who love the old country hymns but many love the newer contemporary songs too. We are a mixed blend church. We have gradually added in new songs, as the Psalms of David were new when he wrote them and so many of the new songs quote scripture. What I do is leave out verses in the red hymnal that I feel like are depressing or change certain words or lines to make them scriptural. Most of them don’t have copyrights on them anymore anyways. But we take out any sqealey rock when we sing contemporary praise and worship, so as not to offend anyone or cause them to stumble. If you are an older saint of God, you ought to be able to listen to songs you might not like as much and hope and pray that someone will be touched and blessed or even saved as we sing them to the Lord and for His Glory. I sing a lot of songs I don’t particularly care for, that others might enjoy what they like.

    • Brenda,
      I know exactly what you are referring to when you describe your church. Remember, we must feed all types of people who are have differing levels of maturity. You well remember the influence of Southern Gospel and the old red hymnal in my formative years. Our tastes do change and we grow in grace and knowledge as me press along in Christ.

      Dr. Ron Phillips said something a while back that has been a blessing on several occasions. He was talking about styles of music we listen to and even get hung up with. He said “if you don’t like what’s being played, then stick your fingers in your ears and pat your feet; your song will be around after a while!” The point is: don’t hinder someone else from worshiping because you might be upset at what’s being sung at the time. It’s all about pleasing God anyway.

      Come again when you can stay longer.

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