VOLUME 2: HOW DAVID FOUND ELIZABETH
Oh, Praise God! With His help, I can probably crank out a half-way decent message. Oh yuk! I didn't really say that. It was just a test. What I mean is, I am about to share a vital message that God has anointed me to give. That sounds more powerful doesn't it? (If you?re not a musician, you shouldn't be reading this.)
Before I share my "vital message" I need to thank everyone who wrote back to me after my last message, "Musicians Need to Breathe." Here are some excerpts:
I thoroughly enjoyed your message... I am happy to hear about a newsletter that addresses the issue of music in the church... and hopefully worship, because I would like some understanding on the topic from someone who seems to know what he is talking about. I have a question I would like to ask, but I hope you will allow me the freedom to share some of my thoughts regarding what takes place in the assembly via worship teams, worship leaders, music leaders, etc. My question is, is all this biblical? I ask because I cannot see any reference to worship teams, worship leaders, or even musicians in the New Testament. This may or may not be the basis for suggesting that the practice is out of order, but it does lead one to question why we put so much emphasis on something that is not even mentioned in the scriptures. Granted, we need to worship the Lord, but this leads to the issue regarding the format used in the assembly...In the O.T. worshippers were assigned at the head of armies to take ground from the enemy in the spiritual realm. Because of the priesthood, worshippers were designated to the Outer Court and then the Inner Court, but only the priest could enter into the Holy of Holies, so there was a leading of the people into the presence of the Lord, yet not directly into the Holy Place. How does this compare with New Testament worship?
Some might say church music has evolved, but what it looks like to me, is that its implementation has been borrowed from the Old Testament and outdated by the New Testament... no matter what the style!
If you have any brainwaves or comments on the above, I'd like to hear them.Blessings,
I would say, that the patterns and practices in the church today have been evolving more and more toward the model of designated leaders being the focus of attention and 95%+ of the people following that 5% or less that "qualify" as leaders. Then within the music team, the same pattern emerges, focus on the person at the top of the hierarchy. This is not what the bible teaches. Since according to scripture, we are a royal priesthood, I am not here to lead you in worship or you to lead me. Rather, we are called to worship, whether individually or collectively. Playing instruments, dancing, clapping, spinning, jumping, shouting--these are all ways to worship, and none takes pre-eminence over another. Musicians could certainly participate in corporate (collective) worship, or not. We should not depend on them to work us up into a God experience. We need to have our own God experience.---David
I just thought I would say THANK YOU for sharing the word for musicians. You remind me of the Lord when he aroused the church through John on the Island of Patmos, when he was talking to the Laodician believers. For some reason or another, I think the typical American church is LUKEWARM. I pray that the HEALING FIRE of the LORD would be running through your spirit more and more and more in the LAST DAYS... My brother, we live in one discombobulated society. Our awareness has become our Frankenstein. Let's join hearts for the healing of the nations, starting with you and with me.Dominic
The only way to deal with lukewarmness is in our own heart. The temptation will always be there to point the finger, but there are already too many critics in the world. We need to be willing to do what Jesus asks and go where He sends us. To know Him is to love Him. If we respond to His call, that's the best we can do. We are musicians, sure, and thank God for that, but number one, we are His beloved, His sons and daughters. That's good enough for me.---David
From the earth to the cross/ My DEAD TOUPEE!Looking forward to the next letter David!
Argh!!! You?ve RUINED that song for me David!
I imagine many of us have stories to share David-- I sure do. Hope in time you?'ll include some of the "letters from readers" or something. As for the 60's/ rock influence-- the "protest" songs really affected me--not sure if it was the in your face truth they brought out, the powerful feelings (anger) behind them, or what... Anyhow-- I keep listening for songs that are truthful no matter what the cost-- seems to me like many songs are written humanistically so as NOT TO OFFEND the main stream Christians/Media, so as to have commercial acceptance and success... It always reminds me of the scriptures about those who cry "peace, peace" in a time of war/threat/hostility... Where are the REAL prophets?... The state of Christian music today is to me like Musical Kimchee (http://www.kimchee.com) and all the songs are about how good it smells...fact is, you smell that stuff long enough, your nose gets desensitized to it...
I think we as musicians need to be careful of that trap of public acceptance while at the same time, we need to seek wisdom as to how to live at peace with those who don't agree with us. The more impossible that becomes, the more we see the only solution is to get closer and closer to the one who loves us the most. In His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).---David
Oh my, Dave! You are one hilarious musician and newsletter writer!!!!!!! Your newsletter had me busting a gut for an hour. You couldn't be more right about everything you said about the boring religious church worship services! I have been grieved in my spirit for years at the sight of it, the way they put God in a box so much that HE can't breathe either! One thing that wasn't mentioned in the newsletter is corporate worship which I try to lead people into, just singing all together in the spirit no matter what you sing, tongues or English, until you hear the sounds of Heaven and that's when God really inhabits the praises of His people. Amen? My son loved this newsletter, too, and is going to take it to the worship leader (Steve) hahahaha, at his church and let him read it too in hopes that it will cause some change!!!!!!!!! Can't wait for the next newsletter, God Blast ya!!!Kellie
Well Kellie, I'll be very pleasantly surprised if Steve becomes a FOR MUSICIANS ONLY subscriber. Worship leaders have an impossible job, bringing non-worshippers into a place of worship. Imagine if men had to pay attention to me in order to adequately express their love for their wives. My wife would tell you she knows without any doubt that I love her. We need God to have the same assurance that we totally love Him. It can't be a Sunday thing.---David
All right, musicians, here's the scoop on how I got a nice guitar to play after parting with my professional quality Martin D-28 to get a Fender Jazz bass and play in "The Last Days Revival Band" for about six months right after I got saved. In the winter of 1981-82, we packed up our three children, two cats, and three dogs in a 1974 Toyota Corolla and headed east. Numerous bungee cords tied most of our earthly belongings, wrapped in big green garbage sacks to withstand the winter elements, to the roof of our car. We spent the winter in Oklahoma with my mother-in-law, where Jo and I worked and saved money to complete the trip to Pennsylvania.
In early March we arrived in Pottsville, PA. I had a musical friend that was an assistant pastor at a Foursquare church there, and had imagined he and I would start playing music together again, and win souls to Christ. It never happened. We were stuck in the middle of nowhere without any friends or a job, and everyone wondered what we thought we were doing. We stayed at a hotel where we were running out of money fast, so I put an ad in the local paper that said "Christian man, with wife, 3 children, and pets looking to rent a home." I ran the ad for one day and got nine responses. We rented a trailer about 20 miles to the north for $150 a month. Within two days we were totally broke and I still didn't have a job. I went to a "Full Gospel Businessman's Fellowship" meeting in a town nearby, because when I was praying, God spoke that name to me. The host had a restaurant, and sent me home with three large grocery bags of food.
He also told me about a program called "Operation Blessing" that was started by the 700 club, and gave me a local number to call, because I had mentioned that I was a musician, but had no guitar.
When I got home, Jo was ecstatic at all the great food I brought in. I called "Operation Blessing" and they said they had a guitar for me, so I got in the Toyota and drove south about 40 miles. After talking to "Betty" and "Bob" who were pastors in that small town, they loaded my car with furniture, baby items, more food, and a guitar. Then, Betty introduced me to Jim, a young man who was very distraught because of marital problems. I talked to him about the love of Jesus and believing he needed salvation led him in the sinner's prayer. He asked me for a ride to his job, which was picking mushrooms in a town about 10 miles to the south, so I took him, and decided to see if they needed any more mushroom pickers. They hired me on the spot and I started the next day, so by the time I got home that afternoon, I had lots of neat stuff, including a guitar, and a job.
The pastors of that church, known as the Christian Center, managed to squeeze a couple of songs out of me when they gave me the guitar, and naturally they invited me to bring my family to church on Sunday, and "make sure to bring the guitar." So there we were the next Sunday morning at 10:00 after driving nearly an hour to get there. The people were very friendly. Betty called me up to share about how I led Jim to the Lord and got a job the same day and then she asked me to share a song, so I sang a Keith Green song, and played the guitar I had received earlier that week.
The guitar was not very good, but it was adequate, and I began to practice songs, because every time I went to the Christian Center, Betty asked me to share a song. Bob and Betty were looking for an outreach director, because they wanted to start a Christian Coffeehouse. I had run a student coffeehouse in college and they were convinced that the reason we had come to Pennsylvania was to become their outreach director. Since they were pastors, I presumed they knew a lot more than me. My friend from the Foursquare Church was soon to be leaving to go to bible school in California, so my idea that we had come to Pottsville to start a musical ministry with him must have been my imagination.
Bob and Betty often had prayer for me and Jo during or after church and would talk to God about who we were and what we were called to do. They had a Christian Bookstore and kept me supplied with books and tapes from whoever they considered to be the best teachers.
There were about 20-25 adults who regularly showed up, but Bob and Betty had a huge building, and often spoke of how it would be too small in the near future because God was bringing thousands of people into their ministry. In addition to the bookstore, they had a Christian school with about twenty students. Although it was a 40 mile trip each way, Jo and I went there every Sunday, and I sometimes visited the bookstore on my way home from my job picking mushrooms. Kelley was 12, Valentina was 5, and Max was only 14 months old in May of 1982, when we began to attend the Christian Center.
Back then, most services started with Betty leading three or four choruses like "I Will Call Upon the Lord" , "Abiding in the Vine", "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love", "It's the Holy Ghost and Fire (And It's Keepin' Me Alive)", "I'm So Glad Jesus Set Me Free", and "I Will Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving in My Heart". Then, most of the time, she'd call on the oldest of her three sons, Bobby, who was 15, and he would sing a Carmen song or a Keith Green song to an accompaniment tape.
"I'd like to call on our brother David, now," Betty would say. "Will you bless us again?"
I often sang "The Song of Moses": I will sing unto the Lord/ For He has triumphed gloriously/ The horse and rider He?s thrown into the sea (2x) The Lord my God my strength, my song/ Has now become my victory! (2x) The Lord is God and I will praise Him/ My Father's God and I will exalt Him (2x)
I sang the song with very real passion and always sensed a tremendous anointing (empowerment) from God whenever I sang in church.
When I traveled with the Last Days Revival Band, I had made a habit of asking God to anoint the music, because I believed our songs could have an impact on the listener besides to entertain them. I would usually find a wall in a private place and lie face down and just pray in the spirit for ten or twenty or even thirty minutes, and that was it. With that group I wasn't free to do much, but I sensed that anointing and wanted to move in it. Now it seemed God had opened a door (key word---seemed).
I had written about four or five songs at that time. My favorite one went:
I want to walk on the water of Your word/ I want to walk on the water of Your love/ I want to walk on the water of Your peace and joy/ I want to walk on the water with you. 1. Life's full of surprises/ It's easy to be scared/ Put your trust in Jesus/ He?s never unprepared/ There's no need to worry/ The Lord is in control/ Thank You Lord and Master/ And Captain of my soul (Chorus) 2. Jesus, You?re my best friend/ I know You care for me/ You understand my feelings/ And love me endlessly/ I'd like to know You better/ Be a whole lot more like You/ See things like You see them/ And do the things You do (Chorus) 3. Help me share the good news/ With the people that I meet/ May it give you pleasure/ As I lay souls at your feet/ Arouse Your sleeping children/ To the battle that's at hand/ And make us shining lamps/ Against the darkness in our land (Chorus)
Back then, I was so in love with Jesus, and so excited about living the new life and witnessing to others. I was very happy to be a mushroom picker and a guitar picker. I loved our 12 by 60 foot trailer. It seemed like a mansion after living in a 9 by 32 foot trailer in Oregon.
Sometime in July, Bob and Betty asked to speak with us after church. They told us they would be away the next two Sundays, on vacation, and they wanted me to conduct the morning and evening meetings on both days and the Wednesday night meeting as well. I was 32, saved for not quite two years, picking mushrooms for $3.45 an hour, and living 40 miles to the north. It only made sense that they'd want me to fill in....So I said, okay.
During the week, I spent a typical amount of time singing to the Lord and reading the bible and praying. My mushroom picking job was ideal for that. Most of the other workers were from Mexico, and sometimes they would tease Jim and me and say all these things in Spanish that they found hilarious. I remember a couple times, Jim would start speaking in tongues loudly to me, and say something back, just to play with them. But picking mushrooms is one of those things you can do without even thinking, so I'd be picking the mushrooms with my body and going somewhere else with my spirit, and God was directing me what to share at these upcoming meetings.
So when Sunday morning rolled around, I was prepared. I shared an evangelism message called "The Fishing Rod" where I said the rod is faith, the line is prayer, the bait is the word of God, the hook is the Holy Spirit, and the reel is love. It was fun. I shared the message for about 20 adults. That evening, there were actually more people, which was unusual. I shared more on the message, played a few songs, took an offering, and invited everyone to come on Wednesday and bring a friend or two.
Wednesday night, we had at least 30 people and the following Sunday 40 or more at both meetings. There were three families that came for the first time during those five meetings and stayed for many years.
I got a call from Bob and Betty while they were gone wanting to know how things were going, and they seemed pleased at the turnout. When they got back they were very appreciative and even gave me a financial blessing. Wednesday night church was a prayer meeting, instead of music and preaching. On Sunday, Betty talked about things that God had showed her and Bob while they were on vacation, about how the church was going to grow, and be a center for healing, and training leaders, and how they needed to prepare for this huge increase. There were quite a few newcomers who had started coming during those five meetings where I preached, and the people seemed eager to learn how to witness effectively and lead souls to Christ, but that wasn't the direction Bob and Betty were pursuing.
Shortly after they returned, the pastors asked to speak with Jo and I, and told us the church wasn't ready to be gung-ho about evangelism, because the members weren't trained to do it, and if we started now, too many people would"fall through the cracks." They said they wanted to start training people and we would be the first to be trained. They canceled plans to open the coffeehouse and cancelled a summer concert that we had planned for late August. I no longer was called on to share songs every week. It seemed that now there were more people, and they were trying to create roles, and positions for almost all of them. Before long, I was very ill-at-ease with where they said the church was going, with the thousands of people coming in to receive teaching and healing. Jo and I decided to leave. We didn't announce it, or explain it. We simply stopped going.
During this time, we attended several different churches. One needed a song leader, and thought I was the man, while another one had a group of musicians led by the pastor's wife. The one that seemed to need me had very few people and was rather dry. The other one was lively like the one we left, but we were leery of going through the same kind of experience. So we attended both about twice a month, and one or two others as well.
I got a better job, and we moved to Pottsville. I called up the Jawbone Coffeehouse in State College where I used to sing all the time back in the 60's and 70's and wangled an invitation for a Saturday night singing engagement.
At this point I needed a better guitar, since I would be playing for college students that were used to fairly high quality entertainment. Of course I was going to sing about Jesus and tell them how He saved me, which was never what musicians did at the Jawbone the whole nine years I lived in State College. Having received a fair amount of teaching on faith, Jo and I prayed in agreement for God to give me a guitar like my Martin D-28 (that Lloyd had sold for $360) for $100, since that was all I could (barely) afford.
I began to ask around and shop around. The only decent guitars were $200 or more. A guy who attended one of the churches we visited from time to time loaned me his guitar, and it was very nice, but it had a crack that caused it to buzz, so it wasn't suitable for public performances. Finally, three days before my singing date, a guy at my job said he had a pretty nice guitar. I asked him what kind it was and he said it was a Yamaha. I had played a Yamaha or two over the years. They were made in Taiwan, and modeled after Martins, Gibsons, and Guilds, the three best American brands. They didn't cost nearly as much.
So, he brought it to the office the next day, and it was patterned after the Martin D-28. It had a nice sound and a good feel. It reminded me of my old guitar!
I borrowed it for the weekend, and sang at the Jawbone, some Keith Green songs and some Petra and a few originals and asked people to bow their heads and raise their hand if they wanted to receive Jesus as their savior. Nobody did that I was aware of, and they never asked me to come back. I was a little disappointed, since I expected there would be twenty or thirty getting saved at least. I'd seen it happen at a few Christian concerts back in Oregon.
Back at the office on Monday I was preparing to return the guitar to the owner. He said, "Well Dave, I don't play it anymore. I'd be willing to sell it."
"How much do you want for it?" I asked.
"Make me an offer."
Similar guitars were about $300 in the music stores, but I knew what I had prayed for, in faith, in agreement with my wife, so I said, "I'll give you a hundred dollars for it." I kind of thought he'd say that was not nearly enough, but he said, "You got yourself a deal."
So the next day, I gave him a hundred dollars, and this Yamaha guitar that looked just like my old Martin D-28 was mine. I named the guitar Elizabeth. That was something I had started early on in my guitar picking days, giving the guitar a woman's name and thinking of her (it) as a companion. I played it every chance I got. I especially liked to sing to my children when they went to sleep at night. They had trained me well. Max who was not quite two would cry at night until I came to his bedside and would start singing songs we sung in church or something from Keith Green or Petra or the Imperials. Three songs later, he'd be asleep, and I would tiptoe away. Jo was a few months pregnant with Zoe. These were precious days I still treasure.
We never heard from Bob or Betty, and our friends that went there faded fast. They were typically being trained for some ministry within the church. Occasionally we would learn of some rumor that was circulating about why we left, or were asked to leave, or why I was dismissed from the ministry. One was we had gotten into witchcraft. Another was I had been asked to do one song, but I did two and they had to ask me to stop. Since we were very young, in love with each other and with the Lord, these rumors were a bit disturbing. We never confronted the rumors, because I was intimidated by people like Bob and Betty who were so well-versed in church matters. I wondered if something was wrong with me.
I said last time we'd talk about the Psalmist anointing and how to receive new songs from God, and I better do that, because some of you may be getting a little tired of hearing about my experiences 20 years ago. I was driving to church one day and passed a movie theater that was always there. Usually it said this movie was playing at such and such time and that movie was playing at this and that time, but this particular day, it simply said UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT. This was one of the last Sundays we attended the Christian Center and Bob was preaching a "faith" message that I had heard before, because he had given me the tape, so I started thinking on this phrase, under new management, and before you knew it I was scribbling some words, while Bob rattled on about Mark 11:23-24:
You may think you know me/ You may not like my style/ But you don't really know the person/ That I am/ There's been a change in me/ I say that with a smile/ I've been set free/ From a life that was damned I'm under new management/ I treasure every day/ Since the Truth rescued my life/ And washed my sins away/ I'm under new management/ I sold out to the one/ Who laid His life down for me/ I've risen with the Son Thought I had the answers/ I thought I was so wise/ Claimed to be enlightened/ I was listening to lies/ The slave of a cruel master/ That was tearing me apart/ Destroying my life daily/ And plundering my heart (repeat chorus)
It was exciting to receive a new song like that and I sung it lots, but not in church. In the space of a few months, I had gone from a guy who was asked to play at every meeting to a guy who never got asked to play. Once in a while I'd ask if I could play a "special" which is a funny word if you think about it. The special music usually came when the plates or baskets were being passed to receive the "tithes and offerings". I didn't see the irony at the time---First you repent, then give ten per cent--- but I was supposed to be the entertainment.
Somehow, this anointing I had been asking for would come, and people would come see me after church and say the song had really ministered to them. That's how it works, siblings. God anoints the music to touch the listener. Since it was Jesus's heart to minister to the hurting, the more people are hurting, the more He will anoint the music. Now, if you play in a church these days you would hardly know anyone was hurting because these days to be hurting means you're a failure. You screwed up. As a Christian, you're supposed to be a very competent, successful individual. If you aren't, you better study the bible more and learn how to pray correctly, and there are seminars to show you how to be a better husband, father, parishioner, how to eat properly, and what your personality type is. So with all these man-made solutions, who needs anointed music? Programs, books, tapes, videos, seminars, bible studies that aren?t-- Whatever the problem, the church has an answer for it. It's not Jesus, unfortunately.
Now the simplicity of the gospel, is that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Whatever we go through, His divine purpose is to draw us closer to Him. The devil's sinister plan is to drive us away from Him. Jo and I were perplexed about my rapid rise from ministering regularly at the Christian Center to doing an occasional special at one of the local churches that never led to anything else. During these years between 1983 and 1989, I battled depression almost constantly. When I was depressed, it was very hard on my wife and children, because they thought I wasn't happy with them. I got a state job with the unemployment office, then sold insurance for a couple of years, and finally worked as a mailman between 1985 and 1989. Often, I couldn't sleep at night, thinking what a failure I was, and how my family deserved better. Once in a while I would get a song that expressed my condition:
Well I've got people who need me/ They don't think twice about letting me know/ And many's the time I feel weak as can be/ When there's no way that I/ Can go on with the show/ Cause I got people who need me/ When I?m coming up short on heart/ How can I give them the love they require?/ When I feel like I'm failing and falling apart? Chorus: Well, I've got a friend Who has promised to stay with me/ He's given me love for everyone/ Picking me up whenever I fall/ He comes to my aid each time I call/ Winning the race when I thought/ I was too tired to run Well I've got people who need me/ That's a fact in my history/ And sometimes I feel just like packing it in/ When it seems like nobody appreciates me/ Cause I got people who need me/ And I'm sure you got people too/ when it feels like they're squeezing the life out of you/ You can call on my friend and He'll see you through (repeat chorus)
These were some earlier experiences, that brought discouragement and even depression. I forgave the people involved a long time ago, and it isn't painful to remember these things now. I left out some ugly scenes after my wife and I decided to go back to the Christian Center about a year later, and they made me the children's worship leader. We stayed almost a year, and things just got worse, but I enjoyed ministering to the children, ages 6 through 12 so much that it was hard to leave. Lots of people stay when it's time to leave because they have a ministry in the church and they don't want to give it up. Others stick around because there is a hope to ascend to some ministry after a while. Bob and Betty were pros when it came to giving people ministries as a reward for faithful service to them. They never got much larger than 50 people and eventually shut down completely. Some of the other families that left over the next 15 years called us as soon as they broke away, but we never said "I told you so". When people are hurting, Jesus wants to minister to them. He'll do it through you if you'll let Him.
Final thoughts, today: What would it be like to go to a gathering of believers that were truly in love with Jesus Christ, that truly viewed others as more important than themselves? What would it be like to go to a church for the first time and get a lunch invitation, or have somebody hand you a CD, or even just give you their business card and say, "Can you give me a call later." We need the anointing of God to minister to those who are hurting. One reason so many are hurting, is they feel like a failure, and wonder if anyone loves them. It's probably most of the people that "show" up and many, many more that don't because the "show" doesn't minister to their needs. I can't change the way things are, only the way I deal with them. In everything, seeking God and His guidance is the correct approach. There is no hope whatever for a social solution. Here is a new song that says it much better:
When JESUS hung on the cross
GOD was dying to talk to us
When JESUS hung on the cross
GOD was dying to talk to us
He breathed His last breath
And then He conquered death
He died the curtain was torn
So I could be reborn
(repeat chorus) For GOD so loved the world
He gave His only Son
He died the curtain was torn
So I could be reborn (repeat chorus)
Jesus is alive in me! Hallelujah!!!!!
Life is a gift. Repeat after me with feeling:
God has given me life.
God made me a musician.
I am God's living musician.
I thank God for making me a musician.
I love God.
God loves me.
And I'm gonna play my music for God.
Father: Thank you for giving me a voice. May these words minister Life more abundantly to the hearer. May Your love fill our hearts. May Your acceptance help us learn to accept ourselves and others. May musicians encourage musicians. Continue to expose the lies we have bought, and reveal the truth to us as only You can. Thank You Daddy. Thank You Jesus. Thank You Holy Ghost. Amen.---David Benrexi 2/17/03
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