March 19, 2003
Did you have a good day? My day was good. I scooped the dog's contributions to our backyard. I always feel like I can face any situation after I do that. I don't recommend it for everybody. Just people who have dogs and no one else in the family that wants to clean up their mess. Proverbs 14:4 teaches us: Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox. What that tells me is if you want to accomplish anything in life, it gets messy.
That said, I want to thank everyone who wrote to respond to "Do You Use Cliff Notes to Worship God?" I would like to share some of your thoughts before telling you about "The Ham and Cheese Revelation". Hope that?s okay. You can?t please everybody all the time, but God is pleased when we love each other. Does anybody need love today? Here, take some of mine. It?s okay, I?ve got plenty to go around. Take as much as you want. Go ahead. I?m serious.
LETTERS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY:
"Since receiving your newsletter this morning David, I've been pondering about modern worship music, formula worship, etc., and why it is that boredom creeps in, and the words lose their power.
Isaiah 55:11 says:Note that there is reference to God's words returning to God after they have accomplished the purpose for which He sent them. That would seem to suggest that there is sort of an "expiration date" on God's words...There are so many songs David that when I first heard them, I was deeply moved. A few times, I even bought the CD. But after listening to it several times, I moved on to something new and different, because the old song ceased to minister to me in the way it did at first. Could it be that songs are like the rain, refreshing a parched soul, that having been watered, then has need for the sun to grow? Could it be that songs lose their power for us on an individual basis because their continued use, is like the difference between a spring rain and a monsoon? One brings refreshment, the other a flood with the threat of drowning and death... "Drowning", in terms of overusing familiar worship songs, simply means that our senses can be overwhelmed with too much of one thing, and we become numb to it...
"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." (KJV)
Perhaps the real problem David, is that we put too much emphasis on the written word - whether the Bible or song lyrics - it is as if we have either forgotten, or are blinded to the truth that the Word of God is Jesus Christ, not a book...
Whenever we seek nourishment from the written word (whether the Bible or songs), we need to go to the LIVING WORD (Christ) to find out WHAT it is that we need. The LIVING WORD said, after all, "I am the bread of life" (John 6:48), and HE taught us to pray "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). In essence, what HE taught us to pray is "Lord, give me as much of YOU as I need to live today". And the Lord, who is a gardener by trade (John 15:1-8) knows what nourishment we need, and what needs trimming in us - so that we will be a "planting for the display of His splendor" (Isaiah 61:3).
Perhaps too the problem stems from the fact that worship is intrinsically personal, and corporate worship stumbles because the worship leaders are trying to minister to numbers of people, not individuals. Any song selection is bound to move some people, but not others. In Matthew through John, I can find only 1 reference to the use of music in corporate worship: "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives." (Matthew 26:30, parallel in Mark 14:26). Conversely, there are dozens of scriptures where Jesus told His followers to "follow me", "take up your cross", etc. If we could assume that Jesus emphasized that which is most important, then the abundance of scripture makes it is clear that our greatest act of worship is offering our lives to Him. Music is secondary, in that it is simply one of many expressions of a life devoted to Christ...
In terms of my own song writing, David, I burn out on my own songs almost as fast as I get them recorded - and when I play them for people, I feel like a "human jukebox". I do hope and pray that one day soon, I'll find that connection for spontaneous spiritual songs so that it is new each and every time I sing - I've tasted it at times, and I know the Lord is sending it. And I guess it's no surprise that things are drying up now with a new thing on the way. I'm just not fond of thirst. You know?
Love you dear brother! Jack, IL"
Love you, too, Jack. If we plan things, detail by detail, and ask God to anoint it, it doesn?t work. We do need to hear from God after we ask Him what does He want us to sing, or does He even want us to. He wants to set people free to experience His presence. Not the faint aroma that comes after a song is done well by skilled musicians, but the powerful presence that comes when we stop playing games and really want Him to have His way in our life. You have to go through repentance to get there. (More on this later) --DB
Hey Dave, Very true about churches not letting song writers play. I used to go to an Assemblies of God church where it was well known that I wrote songs and everyone liked them. I was only allowed to do some thing during offering. If that wasn't enough time, too bad. Also more recently I sent out 100 postcards to local churches saying I had a demo CD, asking if anyone wanted to hear it. The only one that responded was one that needed a piano player to play out of a hymnbook for a service. Imagine, that many people who didn't even want to hear my CD!!!! I could have been the greatest musician who ever lived and they would never know!!!! Also how many churches even have Email? You don't find businesses that don't have Email, because they would be out of business. But then they deal with something important......money. ---Jim, PA
Jim- Your response is appreciated. I don't like the mailers at all, because they are ignored. Your experience is typical. I call, and persist in calling and push for a personal meeting. It is a very closed door, but God can open it, and the key is POWERFUL NEW SONGS. How desperately the church needs them! If you have something the church desperately needs, there is always a reason they don?t have it. You will have to overcome the strongholds that prevent them from receiving. I?ve seen it happen a lot in recent years. It?s a beautiful thing to behold! --DB
Hi David, You have some good points about keeping worship music fresh and inspired, but I think that from a musician's point of view it's easy to get all fired up about new songs and forget that what we should be doing is serving the people by leading them into worship. Depending on where your congregation is at in their walk with God, their commitment to worshiping the Lord, and their musical ability the songs can vary a lot, or be quite limited.
People that aren't musicians or very musically inclined have a hard time grasping hold of songs and making them their own, where they can freely express their love for Jesus with the words of a song and draw close to Him. Even though we, as musicians may think that "wow, that's a way cool song!" and really dive right into it, some songs are just plain hard to sing and it takes a long time, maybe half a dozen hearings or more before people really start to make the song theirs.
So, I guess my point is just we need to be sensitive as worship leaders to what the people are needing and how the Lord is stirring their hearts. It's awesome when God gives us new songs to sing, but we just don't want to overwhelm people with new songs so that they just stare at the words and at us blankly, helplessly thinking "I don't know most of these", and not connect with God. On the other hand, we should be aware when songs are overplayed. Either way, our mission should be to bring folks to the throne room of God, that He would be pleased and peoples hearts would be changed to be more and more like Jesus. :). Jon, OR
Dear Jon, I am very grateful that you have written to me. I understand what you're saying and do not disagree, but your comments reflect the reasoning behind severely limiting the release of new songs, i.e., it will confuse the people and make them uncomfortable. I have been sharing new songs at churches for years, but until about one and a half years ago, it was infrequently, and usually one song at a time, except in non-Sunday settings. In November of 2001, I began to minister at area churches ten or twelve times a month sharing 3 or 5 or 7 or even 10 songs the people had never heard before, and had an excellent response every time without exception. None of these supposed problems occurred. However, had I taken it upon myself to share these songs in this manner years before as I often thought of doing I may have run into all those problems. I'm sure your views are based on experience, not theory alone (right?). So, there is an anointing that goes with new songs that is extremely powerful when the new songs are shared in obedience to God's commandment to sing a new song to Him. New songs have an impact, but there are man-made restraints. Dialog, such as this one, can't be about who's right and who's wrong. I have given up the right to be right, especially if it makes you wrong.
I have stated and will continue to aver that although I am a musician, I am not called to lead others into worship (I was a "worship leader" or "worship team member" for many years.) I believe each person is called to worship God. There's no teaching about what is the current pattern that supports the current pattern that I am aware of in the New Testament. I believe I Corinthians 14:26 puts the songs in the hands of the people, not the worship team or leader. Jon, I am very interested in further dialog. I hope you won't dismiss me as some malcontent, anti-church weirdo. I want to help musicians to bring new songs to the body of Christ and that's the heart of our ministry (my wife and I). I hope you visit our web-page and listen to the music. Pray and seek the Lord. If we both do that, God will bring something wonderful out of this dialog--friendship. That's what I want, because I know that's what He wants. May God bless you, my brother. --David
Hi David, I guess my comments were really focusing on worship, and not song sharing. I didn't mean to discourage you from sharing songs at all, I was just trying to put myself in the average worshiper's shoes and look at it from his/her perspective. I was thinking about worship today, and how music touches different people differently, depending on their age, exposure to different kinds of music, and the way it's presented. Songs that I try not to play too much, because they have been really well worn (e.g., "As The Deer"), really bring people into God's presence. That's the part of worship that is probably the most difficult and requires the most servanthood---playing songs that I'm tired of to serve people and bring them into God's throne room. The reward is hearing feedback that someone really connected with God and was able to give Him their complete attention. When someone asks me what kind of ministry I do, I am actually flattered, because they didn't notice me leading worship; they just got caught up in God's presence and weren't paying any attention to me or anybody on the worship team. That's when I feel like I've done my job---when I've gone unnoticed!
This has been good to think about writing music, as it has gotten me excited about developing songs the Lord has given me. I hope to do some original music this summer at local venues (coffee shops, Christian music festivals, etc). Well, talk to you soon. In Christ, Jon
Amen, brother. I pray a blessing on you, Jon, with new melodies swimming through your mind expressing the awesome love you and God have for one another! --DB
We'd like to hear from more people. So, open up and share, if you want to. Okay?
I'm going to clue you in on "The Ham and Cheese Revelation." It sounds dumb I know, but just because it sounds dumb doesn't mean I'm dumb. What happened was, I was attending a Christian Booksellers Association convention in Nashville in January of 2000. I was working for a publisher that published a lot of cool books by cats like Rick Joyner and Francis Frangipane and even old guys like Andrew Murray and Chuck Spurgeon. We were there to schmooze with other companies and to sell a ton of stuff to bookstore owners who came to have fun and buy a bunch of stuff.
Well, this was my third January convention in Nashville, always the last week of the month, and I would get alone with God every morning and turn on the shower just to make noise, so I could play the guitar in the bathroom sort of quiet and not have someone pounding on the wall to tell me to shut up. And I would use these times to ask God to give me my report card. My report card consisted of three parts. How was I doing? How was our company doing? And how was our industry doing? Well, this particular time, God was very pleased with me, but not with the company or the industry. I knew he?'d be moving me on soon. Working the shows usually consisted of a long day that ran from around 7:30 to 6 with practically no break. Then our boss who was affectionately known as "the big cheese" would take us to a fancy restaurant where we could stuff ourselves and plot our strategies for the next day. Lunch was a rush job, where everyone would tell me what they wanted me to get from this stand that had sandwiches, salads, chips, and soft drinks. I would get the order for ten people. The boss would give me a hundred dollars. Then I headed for the stand, ordered lunch, jammed everything into two boxes that I stacked on top of each other, and then I would deliver each person's lunch, and we would go off in groups of three every thirty minutes from 11:30 to 1:00. I was the odd man out (you know what I mean), all by my lonesome, taking a thirty minute break with a ham and cheese hoagie, potato chips, a salad, and bottled water. Two weeks earlier, I had begun a recording project that eventually became our first CD. Two of the company's saleswomen were going to sing on it, so we'd practice the songs during slow times, which were few. We?d start to sing "My Daddy Loves Me" and people would start to show up, which meant I had to shut up. And SELL!
I'm getting off the topic, but it's only because I'm tired. If I said, "Please bear with me," one of you wise guys would probably say, "I prefer to keep my clothes on!" So I won't say that.
I was munching on the ham and cheese hoagie staring out into space at the vast sea of humanity, when the revelation came. It was a sense of God pouring out His Spirit on all flesh. Like Peter spoke of in Acts 2:17. And he was quoting from Joel 2:28-30. I could see it happening, and I realized something. We know God sits on the throne, and Jesus Christ is seated at His right hand, but the Holy Ghost is NOT seated in heaven on God's left hand. He's HERE!! What I saw was that God was pouring out His Spirit through songs. That the songs were an operation of the Holy Ghost. Instead of singing: Holy Spirit fall on us, or come Holy Spirit and do this or that, like we do, I knew that He was inhabiting the praises of His people quite literally. He was ALIVE in music He Himself inspired, and the music was touching all people, saved and lost. Now whenever I sing for people, I know He wants to do something good, something powerful, something holy. I just choose His way, and I have seen amazing things, signs and wonders, as He pours out His Spirit on all flesh through the songs He gives. If you will take hold of this, every song you sing will bring you closer to Him, and your songs will have an impact you never imagined. It's not your skill level, it's your will level that determines your fill level. How surrendered are you?
A little bit about my surrender now. You might want to grab a drink or whatever you need to do. Don't get distracted, because God wants to set you free to receive a whole lot more music than you've ever believed you could receive. Here's what happened to me. I'm in my mid-forties trying to be a hotshot salesman spending less and less time with the Lord, even though I'm doing worship team, teaching Sunday school, on the church board, leading bible studies. I'm keeping up with the requirements, but my mind is on other things, mostly how to make more money, because I felt like a failure a lot of the time, and I thought the solution was to work 70 hours a week. One year, I worked 361 days. My wife joked that she would hang a picture of me on our kids' doors, since I was only around late at night.
In 1995 we moved to the Pittsburgh area and I had a middle management position with an advertising company. A series of incredibly poor decisions had placed us nearly $50,000 in debt, and when my wife, who is the cutest nurse around, came to Pittsburgh, nursing jobs were scarce. After a couple of months, our financial situation was desperate. All the while, I'm using credit cards to buy lunches for the salespeople I was training, and driving a new car to look successful in the sharp suit I'd purchased with my Sears charge account.
We were going to a very nice church where I soon found myself playing bass on the worship team and frequently sharing "special music". My wife got a job at a hospital in New Orleans.
I was left behind with Max who was 14 and Zoe who was 12. I came home with bags of burgers almost every night, or we'd order pizza. Then I'd talk on the phone for two or three hours to my salespeople, while my neglected kids got into quite a bit of mischief. Folks at our church said I was making a big mistake to let my wife leave, but we both felt this was what we needed to do.
While Jo was gone, I missed her a lot. We talked on the phone every night and both of us had $300 phone bills each month. I went to see the pastor to talk to him about recommending me to go singing at area churches, but instead he confronted me about how my life and priorities were out of order. (Some nerve!) I wasn't too thrilled by this, but he was right and I fessed up about all the credit card and installment loans and how corrupt the company was that I was working for. He prayed for me to get a new job doing honest work where I could make decent pa. He arranged for me to talk to the church's Larry Burkett-trained financial consultant. After getting my financial information, he said bankruptcy was the only option. I prayed about it, and felt like it was wrong, and that I would need to pay everyone off. There were seventeen different companies we owed $500 or more to.
Jo was gone for three and a half months. In January of 1996, I had a tremendous cleansing as I repented of ten years of becoming more and more focused on worldly success, and less and less in love with God. I cried a lot. Especially at night. Within a few days I was back in church playing bass and singing with the worship team, and it wasn't songs that meant anything to me. It never had been, but I've always enjoyed playing with other musicians. After church, I told the worship leader I was resigning from the worship team. I told him I just needed to sit down while God was dealing with me, and he was very understanding.
Almost immediately after quitting the worship team, I made a vow to the Lord. I promised that I would sing to Him every morning before I would leave for work. I promised to sing at least three songs. At that point, my repertoire consisted of a lot of CCM, a lot of hymns and choruses, and a few original tunes. Every morning when I sang, I sensed I was doing what He wanted me to do, and I sensed His pleasure.
I was still working for the advertising company and driving a lot of miles. Our oldest daughter was getting married in early February. My beloved Jo was flying up from New Orleans to be there. I had promised Kelley I would sing a song for her wedding, and as that day approached I had no idea what song to sing. She called me a week before and I said, "I don't know yet, but I'll have something". A few days later, I was driving to my work site when I started to hear the song:
"We're together forever/ We're together forever/ In His love/ In His love/ Trusting Him each day/ To make us one/ Living in the presence/ of His Son/ Receiving His wisdom from above/ We're together forever/ We're together forever/ In His love/ In His love."
I pulled my car over to the side of the road, and with tears streaming from my eyes, I wrote down the words, and two more verses, the Lord planted in my heart.
Jo came back from New Orleans in March, and it was a big adjustment, because I was experiencing a revival in my heart, but I didn't really know how to treat my wife. I turned to the Lord more and more for help, and wouldn't you know, He helped me a lot. I got a new job working with the Christian publisher. It was tough at first, but eventually we were able to climb out of that financial hole we had been in. I kept getting new songs here and there, like:
Believe the incredible/ See the Invisible/ Do the impossible/ Giving thanks to God for the victory/ Believe the incredible/ See the invisible/ Do the impossible/ And give the glory to His loving majesty/ I am an overcomer/ I walk in victory/ I am not afraid/ For the Lord is with me/ I can do all things/ Through Christ Who strengthens me/ I put on my armor/ And I'm ready for the battle/ For He delivers me.
I'd sing these new songs a lot, and whenever someone would ask me how I was doing I would say: I am blessed! What am amazing time, way, way in debt with no end in sight, rejoicing every day and having the time of my life. At the end of 1996 I went to a New Year's eve party at a friend's and that night I prayed to the Lord about the coming year. I had written 12 new songs in 1996, after having written only about one song a year for the previous 15 years. So, I prayed: "Lord, I don't want to go back to only writing one or two songs every couple years. Please Lord, give me twelve songs again in 1997."
I felt this sensation in the pit of my stomach and heard the Lord say in my spirit, "I want you to ask for more." I was taken aback, not sure whether He was displeased at my small thinking or just wanting to do more for me. Finally, I blurted out: "Lord, if it's not asking too much, I'd like to write as many songs this year as I have written in the first 16 years of walking with you." I didn't have an official total, but it was somewhere around 25 or 30 songs. I was excited and went running to my wife and said, "The Lord just told me I'm gonna write 30 songs this year." She just smiled and nodded her head, like she believed me, bless her heart. I wrote 3 in January and 2 in February and then it started to pick up. By June I had 22, and by the end of the year I had written 55 new songs. Every song took me to a new place of love and hunger in the Lord. As 1997 ended, I went to the Lord again, asking, "Am I going to write 50 songs again? (I always think in round numbers)" The Lord's response was, "I'll more than double the anointing." I ran off to tell my wife, "The Lord says the songs I'll write this year will be twice as anointed as last year!" She smiled at me and I was quite happy. What happened though was instead of 55 songs, I got 121. One month I received 17 songs. In fact, I could now write a song any time I wanted to. The next year, it was 125 songs. I used to put them in a binder and log them on my computer, but when I reached 400 songs about a year after the Ham and Cheese revelation, I decided just to let them come.
I know that there is no limit on the number of songs I could write, other than a self-imposed limit. God gets great pleasure from giving me a song and then seeing my face light up as I sing it to Him. When I give my wife a nice gift, I don't think, "Well isn't that nice of me? I sure hope she appreciates what I've done. She better treat me nice!" I love my wife, and when she has a happy expression on her face because of something I gave her or something I did, I feel fantastic. And that's how it is with God, in spades, and to the max. He gets great pleasure in giving me wonderful songs. And I get to play them.
Well, it's getting late. Meet me in the snack room in five minutes and we'll sing a song or two, and pray for each other and let's just be thankful for God being such a lovely being, caring about us the way He does and always looking for new ways to bless us.
Shall I tell You again/ What You already know?/ How You changed my life/ How You filled me with hope?/ Would You like me to sing/ About Your awesome ways/ About Your mercy/ And Your amazing grace/ What can I give You/ That isn?t already Yours?/ You?ve given me so much/ And now You want me to ASK FOR MORE! Your will for me/ Is all I need/ To be like You/ Is my only plea/ A child of God/ Filled with Your holy love/ Is more than enough for me
You can listen to this tune by clicking
It is track #3 on "1949"
I'm so glad you're a musician my dear friend. May the Spirit of God rise up in you. Let Him fill you, and let those living waters flow out from your belly. Your living waters are refreshing me, precious friend. Receive new songs in the name of Jesus. Let the Lord be magnified. When you open your eyes, may you see Him smiling, laughing, singing, and rejoicing over you.
Don't be afraid to share good news. Ask God who He wants to bless, hit the forward button, and take a deep breath. Be bold and inspired, (not old and tired...)
We love it when our readers write to us. I'd just as soon read as write, when God gets a hold of it!
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