Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My journey with music...

I have loved music since as early as I can remember.  The church my family used to go to when we lived in PA used to put on most of Handel's Messiah ever year at Christmas.  Even at 8 years old, I loved to listen to the instrumentalists and the vocalists making beautiful music together.  Half of the time I had no comprehension of what the words were actually saying, I just knew I liked it.

My Dad has a Bachelor's in Music from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, MO...so he could play the piano and everyone in the family could sing, so we were always singing together.  We grew up listening to Patch the Pirate, Mac Lynch, Tim Kaufman, Rudy Atwood...etc.  Every church we went to was always very conservative in their music style.  CCM was completely off limits...

Somehow I got the idea in my head that if you listened to Contemporary Christian Music you were all about feelings and they were "wishy-washy" in their theology.  I say "somehow" because I don't know where I learned it...I've talked to my Dad in recent years, and I've discovered that this isn't at all what he believes...I would guess that I learned it in church.

As I grew up, I began to listen to a little bit of CCM here and there...I would go back and forth about whether I liked it or not.  The music seemed to have a really shallow message, and I didn't like that...but I really liked the excitement the singers seemed to have about their message.  At the end of the day I would always say that it was bad, and I wouldn't usually say it out loud, but I judged people who listened to it.  I was turning into a legalist of my own volition...

When I was in the Navy, I was introduced to Casting Crowns.  The two songs I really liked were Slow Fade and Praise You in the Storm.  I couldn't deny that they had a solid and good message to their songs.  They addressed issues they saw in the church and I knew they were right about their assessment of it.  The door was beginning to open...but I still only listened to very little CCM because I was still wanting to cling to the belief that overall it was bad.

After 4 years of service in the Navy, I got out and went on to college at Northland.  This is where my mind was opened even more...we were singing songs in chapel that were really good!  Afterwards I would look up the songs and discover that the songs were sung by artist that sang with a CCM style (the artists were mainly the Getty's and Sovereign Grace Music)...but their songs had strong rock solid biblical messages.  We were singing the songs in a more conservative style that I was comfortable with (that first year at Northland anyways), and it was opening the door in my life to reconsider my beliefs about music.

Then this past year at Northland saw an even bigger change.  Northland began to play music in more of a CCM style.  It was really hard at first...I could listen to that music in my personal time, but I was not used to it in public worship.  As time went on, though...I realized that the style in which it was sung caused me to think more about the words...the messages of the songs were speaking to my heart in a way that I had never known before.  I began to see what worship really is...the zealous kind of worship we see King David partaking in in the Old Testament (no I did not dance...I don't know if I'll ever get there)...

You see...I equated zealous worship with a charismatic fringe of the church...and we are supposed to stay as far away from that as possible...so, we should sing in a conservative, reserved manner...

I began to realize that people who listened to and worshipped with that king of music were solid believers in Jesus, who wanted to truly live for the glory of God...my judgements were unfounded...and I felt terrible for my years of judging.  

So...how do I handle this Biblically?  I've heard many arguments from people trying to give Biblical reasons for why CCM is wrong...but as of yet, I've been given no conclusive arguments against it.  If you have some, please send them my way!

So, what are my standards?  I think it's important for every Christian to set some standards for music.  The important thing is that we not use our standards as a measuring stick for the spiritual maturity of others...this is called legalism.
My Christian Music Standards:
  • My standards are that I like to listen to music that has solid Biblical and deep messages to them.  I want to be spiritually fed by the music I listen to.
  • The Instrumentation should support the message.  If I'm singing a song of praise to God...lifting Him up...I do not want to be singing in a minor key.  Contrariwise...I do not want to sing a song expressing my utter helplessness without God in a happy rejoicing type tune.  The music should rise and fall with the message of the words.
My Secular Music Standards:
  • The music should not tear down my God and speak things that are not true about my God.  
  • The music should speak things that are true according to the Word of God.

So what king of music do I like to listen to?
I like country music (Josh Turner especially), classical (Aaron Copland (I discovered I liked his music after going to the Milwaukee symphony last January) and Antonin Dvorak), random instrumental artists (Trace Bundy, the Piano Guys, Yiruma), some oldies (the Platters and Nat King Cole), and of course Christian (Steve Pettit Evangelistic Team, Galkin Evangelistic Team, Sovereign Grace Music, Casting Crowns, Ron Hamilton, Chris August, Aaron Shust, Chris Tomlin).

Well...I hope I didn't bore you with all that...I just wanted to share my journey with whomever was interested.  If you've read to this point, congrats!  You did it!  Thanks for your patience!

I just want to end this with one last thing...I know it seemed like I was done.  This is a very "hot button" topic in our churches today.  We must be very careful about how we handle this...always having in mind the unity of the body of Christ!  There are many people that love Jesus and want to advance His kingdom all along the spectrum.  We must show love and respect to those who have different beliefs than us on this.  Any attempt at forcing our beliefs on people is only going to create anger and disunity.  If the majority of our church would be more comfortable with a more conservative style, we should stick with a more conservative style...and vice-versa.

Whew...now I'm done...

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