Music – gift or God?

Here’s an interesting article from the Worship Matters website, if you sing or are in a worship group this website has great resources for you. This article is written by Bob Kauflin:

Back in November I had the privilege of speaking at the Christian Musician Summit in Seattle, WA. In one of the main sessions, I spoke on the topic of Music:  Gift or God? and mentioned that I’d post my notes on my blog. I had forgotten until someone emailed me the other day asking for them. So here’s what I shared…

Music is a very good gift. The 13,000 songs on my iTunes are testimony to that. My eyes have often welled up in tears as I’ve been affected by a lyric, a chord progression, or a musical texture. I’ve thanked God for the gift of music more times than I can remember.

Whenever I think about my love for music, I’m reminded of what Martin Luther said in a Foreword to a 1538 collection of chorale motets:

“I, Doctor Martin Luther, wish all lovers of the unshackled art of music grace and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ! I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God… A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.”

While we may not want to emulate Luther’s attitude, most of us will readily agree that music is a gift from God.

And that’s the problem. Scripture tells us that gifts can often become gods. Good things can become idols.

In Numbers 21, the Israelites grumbled against God and it resulted in him sending poisonous serpents. When they confessed their sin and repented, God had Moses cast a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. Anyone who looked at the serpent would live. It was a good gift. But later on in 2Kings 18 we read that Israel had been making offerings to the serpent, and even gave it a name – Nehushtan.

Good gifts can become gods.

Music turns from a gift to a god when we look to it for the joy, comfort, power & satisfaction only God can give. Here are 5 indicators that might be happening.

1. We choose to attend a church or a meeting based on the music rather than the preaching of the gospel and God’s word.
Nowhere in the Bible are we told that the church is to gather around music. We gather around the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ. We gather to hear God’s Word in the Spirit’s power. Eph. 2:13-14 says the blood of Christ unites us, not music.

2. We can’t worship in song apart from a particular song, style, leader, or sound.
Anytime I say, I can’t worship unless X happens, or X is present, unless X is the death of our Savior on the cross for our sins or the power of his Spirit, we are engaging in idolatry. At that moment, X is more important to us than God’s command to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. That doesn’t mean that there are no bad songs, lousy leaders, or inappropriate styles. But being discerning is different from being unable to worship God at all.

3. We think music leads us into or brings God’s presence.
Here’s what music can do. It can affect us emotionally. Create a mood. Soften our hearts so that we listen more intently. Help us hear words differently. Distract us from what’s going on. Help us focus on what’s going on. Help us remember words. And more.

Here’s what music can’t do. Make God more present. Bring God’s presence down. Bring us into God’s presence. Manipulate God. (Heb. 10:19-22; 1 Tim. 2:5).  There is only one mediator, and it’s not a song, style, leader, or sound. It’s Jesus Christ.

4. Poor musical performance leads us to sin against other band members or the musicians leading us.
We’re hardly representing God’s heart when we get angry, frustrated, or impatient with musicians who don’t play up to our standards. God’s standards are perfection, and they’ve been met in Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life in our place and died as our substitute, enduring the wrath of God in our place. ALL our offerings, no matter how well or poorly offered, are perfected through the once and for all offering of the Savior. We can strive for excellence to serve others, while extending to others the same grace we’ve received.

5. A love for music has replaced a love for the things of God.
It’s possible to listen to music that’s destroying your soul and be completely dull to it. To become enslaved by an idol and you feel like you’re breaking free. In his confessions, Augustine said “For he loves thee too little who loves along with thee anything else that he does not love for thy sake.” I have no doubt we love music. But do we love music for God’s sake or for ours?

To sum up:
Music is useful, but not necessary.
Music is good. But Jesus is better.
Music is a gift, but not a god.
Music isn’t my life. Christ is.

The gifts of God are meant to deepen our relationship with God and create fresh affection for him. Not replace him.

May we enjoy and make music to the fullest of our abilities, all for the glory of the one who gave it to us to enjoy in the first place.

You can download a more expanded copy of my notes here.

To read more of this  article click here at Worship Matters website.

Related articles De ce sint(em) Penticostalii asa galagiosi?

and Why does God want us to sing?

Lev Tolstoi … in… cautarea Adevarului… (via) blogul Petrica Moisuc

Click aici sa cititi alte articole scrise de Petrica Moisuc.
Preluat cu permisiunea autorului.(citit la IstoriaEvanghelica)
Posted on ianuarie 11, 2011 by petricamoisuc

Apreciat de unii ca “cel mai mare romancier pe care l-a avut lumea” (Virginia Woolf), iar de altii ca un “simbol viu al cautarii dupa sensul vietii” (Enciclopedia Britanica, 1999), istoria lui Tolstoi este cronica framantata a omului in cautare dupa Absolut.

Nascut intr-o familie nobila, Lev ramane orfan inca de mic, o matusa binevoitoare urmand a se ocupa de cresterea lui.

Curand, ca tanar, se arunca din plin in viata salonarda.

La 23 de ani, Tolstoi intra in armata si ia parte la Razboiul Crimeii. Obosit de sange si cautand altceva, la 28 de ani Tolstoi isi da demisia din armata, ca sa porneasca sa colinde Europa…

Dupa doi ani, Lev se intoarce de la Paris fara nici o copeica: isi prapadise toti banii la ruleta.

Gandindu-se sa inceapa serios viata Tolstoi se casatoreste cu Sonia, cu care va avea 13 copii.

Manat de un talent prodigios, Tolstoi se dedica scrisului. Curand cele doua romane «Razboi si Pace» si «Ana Karenina», il fac deodata faimos.

Viata insa merge inainte pana cand, la 56 de ani, Tolstoi trece printr-o depresie cumplita. Pentru ce a trait de fapt? Moartea se apropie iar el este nepregatit ca un copil. Groaza de moarte mai ales, il arunca in cautarea lui Dumnezeu.

Asa gaseste Tolstoi Evanghelia.

Sufletul i se lumineaza si se converteste, iar ceea ce il fixeaza cel mai mult din Evanghelie este Predica de pe munte.

Cu un alt sistem de valori in suflet, Tolstoi isi reneaga romanele si, de aici inainte, este hotarat sa scrie orientat numai spre morala biblica.

Datorita faptului ca Tolstoi a avut obiceiul de a tine un jurnal, in care-si nota toate evenimentele si lupta sa launtrica pana in cele mai mici detalii, suntem in tema cu itinerarul sau spiritual. Idealurile morale din Evanghelie l-au atras ca o flacara, cu toate ca nu reusea sa le aplice in viata.

Jurnalul este insa martor ca Tolstoi s-a straduit sa urmeze literal Predica de pe munte.

Odata, dupa ce a citit porunca pe care Isus a dat-o tanarului bogat, Tolstoi a decis sa-si elibereze serbii, sa renunte la copyright-uri, si sa-si imparta imensele bogatii.

A inceput sa poarte haine taranesti si ciubote facute de el iar banii castigati din publicarea romanului «Invierea», scris la 71 de ani, au fost dati pentru acoperirea cheltuielilor de emigrare a unui grup intreg anabaptisti, persecutati de tar.

Filosofia lui de non-violenta, izvorata din Predica de pe munte, a inspirat cu putere si pe Gandhi, si pe Martin Luther King, cititori ai lui Tolstoi.

Ca sa fie desavarsit, Tolstoi a renuntat la vanatoare, la fumat si bautura.

Avea “reguli pentru dezvoltarea vointei emotionale, reguli pentru dezvoltarea simtamintelor inalte si reguli pentru reprimarea simtamintelor josnice…” Niciodata nu a renuntat la nici una dintre ele…

Toata viata si-a propagat crezul sau care, de atunci si pana-n viitor, continua sa castige nenumarati entuziasti. Oamenii ii admirau viata impecabila de dinafara…

Si totusi… In ciuda eforturilor sale sincere niciodata n-a putut atinge disciplina de sine necesara implinirii desavarsite a regulilor.

Prea cinstit cu sine, el nu si-a putut tagadui constiinta care-l tortura. Straduintele arzatoare ale lui Tolstoi spre perfectiune nu i-au adus niciodata pace si bucurie sufleteasca. Toate schemele sale de auto-imbunatatire s-au dovedit nule. Pana in ultimele zile, jurnalul sau continua sa puncteze tema neimplinirii. Antagonismul dintre real si ideal l-a macinat cumplit.

”Testul pazirii invataturii lui Cristos se concretizeaza in constiinta esecurilor noastre de a atinge perfectiunea”, scria Tolstoi cu amar. “Cat de mult m-am apropiat de perfectiune – nu poate fi evaluat. Tot ce putem vedea este marimea devierilor noastre.”

Atat de dezamagit era de neputinta omeneasca, incat, spre sfarsitul vietii, si-a ascuns pustile de vanatoare, ca sa nu de-a curs tentatiei de a se sinucide. In cele din urma, pur si simplu a plecat de acasa, fugind de faima, de familie, de identitatea lui si de bogatie, fiind insotit doar de fiica lui credincioasa, Alexandra.

A murit la scurt timp ca un vagabond intr-o halta de cale ferata, la 82 de ani.

Philip Yancey il considera pe Tolstoi drept “primul autor care a realizat ce-a mai dificila dintre sarcini: sa-L faca pe Dumnezeu tot atat de atragator si de credibil si real pe cat e diavolul. Scrierile lui ofera o sursa vezuviana de putere morala. El e cel care mi-a indreptat privirea in sus! De la el am invatat sa privesc apoi inauntru spre imparatia lui Dumnezeu care poate fi chiar in mine.”

Si totusi convulsiile sale spirituale si nefericirea lui marturisesc ca lui Tolstoi i-a lipsit ceva esential.

Unul din biografii sai, A.N. Wilson, scrie: “Cu claritate de cristal, Tolstoi a vazut nevrednicia sa proprie in lumina idealului lui Dumnezeu. Dar Tolstoi n-a putut face pasul urmator – acela de a se increde in harul lui Dumnezeu pentru a depasi incapacitatea sa.” Tolstoi a descoperit cu claritate tinta.

Din pacate, indoindu-se de divinitatea lui Isus, Tolstoi a ramas pe loc. Religia lui Tolstoi a fost un sistem disperat al legii, lipsit de puterea harului.

”Impreuna cu Tolstoi – completa Yancey – am descoperit si eu cat de mizerabil am ratat inalte idealuri ale Evangheliei”

Aceasta Evanghelie este completa abia atunci cand pe langa “Imparatia cerului este in mine” (Luca 17:21) mai adaugi si “Insusi Imparatul locuieste in mine” (Ioan 14:23).

Click aici sa cititi: Dostoievski – Calatorie prin har de Petrica Moisuc.

Click aici sa cititi alte articole scrise de Petrica Moisuc.

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