May 1, 2003
I've been sitting on this message for almost a week, and I have to admit my butt is getting a little sore. I'm sure you know by now that I believe new songs are a gift from God that He wants to give freely to His people. His people want to hold tight onto what is familiar. I have personally received over five hundred new songs from the Lord since January of 1996. They came slowly at first, twelve songs in 1996. Then I received 55 songs in 1997, 121 songs in 1998, and 125 songs in 1999. I stopped counting at that point, and can only tell you that God has more songs than I'll ever need that He shares freely with me. I can only go for about two weeks without writing a song, and so the songs keep coming, one or two a week, every week of the year. Once in a while, I'll write a new song every day for several days in a row, or write two, three, or even four songs in one day. In my opinion, the song quality doesn't diminish with frequency.
A lot of musicians have told me they wish they could write more songs. For the first fifteen years of my new life in Christ, 1980-95, I only wrote about twenty songs total. During this time, I was usually part of the "worship group" at whatever church I attended. I enjoyed performing on Sunday morning and Wednesday night. I was the worship leader for the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship monthly banquet, playing familiar choruses to an approving audience. Most of the rest of the time, my guitar sat in its case. About once a year, I might write a new song and play it once or twice in church. I was depressed a lot of the time, and didn't know why. I used to lay awake at night thinking what a failure I was. Eventually, I quit my secure job at the post office to start a book selling business and turned into a workaholic. I thought if I could earn $100,000 in a year, my father, who was a scientist with a PhD and a truckload of patents, would be proud of me.
The more I tried to become a success in the business world, the more I felt like a failure. By the time I quit the worship team, I was almost $50,000 in debt, and our family was coming apart at the seems. It was then that I began singing to the Lord every morning and discovering that He liked it when I sang to Him. I started to get new songs. They told me God loved me and that I was a winner. If people asked me, "How are you?" I answered, "I am blessed!"
Looking back, I can see that I wrote very few songs while I was comfortable playing dead music in a controlled environment. It was my role to play music at the churches I attended. My life outside the walls of the church was one of quiet frustration. I didn't have what I have now, overwhelming joy, because I didn't even know it existed. I hope there are some who are reading this message that will begin to give the Lord what He really wants, new songs. I hope there are some who are reading this message who will purpose to give the Lord what He wants even more, your company.
I believe/ With all my heart/ That God is in love with me/ He longs to be/ With me/ For all eternity/ Earnestly He wants my company/ I believe/ With all my heart/ That God is in love with me He knows I'm far from perfect/ So He's perfecting me/ In good times and in hard times/ He's always there for me (Chorus) He's forgiven me/ He loves me/ With everything I've done/ He never turns His back on me/ He loves me as a son (Chorus)
What do you suppose happened to me as I sung that new song to the Lord morning after morning back in 1997? Did you notice the lyric in the second verse says He loves me as a son, and not He loves me like a son? There's a difference, isn't there? It's a big difference. I thought I had failed to be a son my father could be proud of. He died in 1993. We had become very close the last two years of his life, and I think he was a little bit proud of me, but I felt I had let him down. I only got to see him occasionally as he lived quite a distance away. Neither of us was a pick-up-the-phone-and-chat sort of guy. After he had a heart attack in '92, I took some time off work to hang out with him, and I visited him the day before he died. In the end, I knew he loved me, after spending most of my life wondering.
In some ways, my relationship with God was similar. I was off by myself most of the time, with Him at a distance. I felt like He was disappointed in me as a husband, father, worker, musician, and man. When I started spending every morning with Him, I found out how wrong I was.
There are so many wounded people in the Body of Christ, but church is not a safe place to show your feelings. We are rich in people who want to fix you, but there is a poverty of people who will come to your aid in times of trouble. We sing one thing--let every breath, all that I am, NEVER cease to worship you-- and live another. Does it bother you? It bothers me like hell!
I am going to share my Recipe for Sterility. There are other ways to do it, I'm sure, but this way is guaranteed to work.
Step 1: Play it safe. Don't say or do anything that might offend someone and cause them to quit coming to your church. At the grocery store, when you buy milk, it's pasteurized and homogenized. Pasteurization is the boiling of milk to kill all the living parts. Living things die and rot. This causes spoilage. To increase the shelf-life, that which is living in milk is killed. Dead things don't die. Homogenization is rapidly stirring the milk so that the cream and the milk blend together in the exact same proportion, instead of dividing into their separate components. This is called "decently and in order".
Step 2: Let people earn their position by demonstrating submission to authority and loyalty to the leaders. Every member of the church should be groomed for a role within the ministry of the church. Those who are leaders must communicate the message that their promotion was based on submission and loyalty. The pastor of the church will reward those who are teachable and team-players. Whatever you are called to do, you are ready when the leaders say you are ready.
Step 3: Stick to what works based on what successful churches are doing. If you mate a male horse with a female donkey, you get a mule. It is neither a horse or a donkey anymore, but it has some of the best features of both. Unfortunately, it cannot reproduce. When we try to do it our way with God as the co-pilot, God is no-pilot. These days there are experts on every aspect of church life and the churches are captivated with their success formulas. Their book becomes the "bible" on church growth.
Back in the late 90's, I really wanted to share these exciting songs that were changing my life at the church I was attending and tithing my income to. It was a constant frustration. I had learned over the years that in order to maintain their financial viability, churches have to play by the aforementioned rules, or at least they think they do. The more someone is putting into the church treasury, the more important it is to make sure they're happy. If they leave, it is a financial setback. That means keeping every one in check that might say or do something to offend them. Sometimes it means awarding the ministry to the person that doesn't have the anointing for that ministry.
The following is an imaginary conversation, I NEVER had with the leaders of the church I attended in the late 90's. It's actually a dialog with the spirit of control that has strangled that church (and numerous others) for the last several years. I will share what words might have been spoken, had I sought to express my frustration, along with what those words REALLY meant.
Leaders: First of all David, we want you to know we love you. (What they really mean: This is our church.)
David: Since you really love me, could you let me share a song when I have one to share?
Leaders: We'd love to do that, David, truly we would. But if we did that for you, we'd have to do the same thing for everyone who wanted to share something, and then we'd never get finished, and it would be chaos. (We know you want to be a star! Get in line.)
David: But God gave me these songs, and they're very edifying.
Leaders: I'm sure they are David. Have you ever thought about joining the worship team? (Listen to this prima donna! He thinks he's God's gift to the church!)
David: I just don't think they're interested in original songs.
Leaders: Why would you say that? I'm sure if you serve faithfully and give them time, you'll be able to share more as time goes by. (I didn't think this guy was a team-player!)
David: I believe God gave me these songs to share with the Body of Christ.
Leaders: Well, David, if He did, I'm sure He'll open the door for you at just the right time. (Man! This guy sure could use some humility!)
While I attended this church, there were so many people in that church that I really loved, and among them were the pastor, George and his wife, "Carla". Because my creative energies were stifled every Sunday morning, I was occasionally tempted to leave. Over the course of a year, about 100 people left, and I would get invitations to lead worship at this or that event, and when the people loved the new songs I'd share there would be an implicit invitation to come along side the new ministry and "function in my gifting." It wasn't God's plan, so I continued to dance on Sunday mornings and spend time every day singing to the Lord.
In the fall of '97, I approached George after church on a Wednesday night and said: "I would like to stop by your office a couple of times a month before I go to work, and sing to you. Would that be do-able?"
After a short pause, he said, "I think we can do that." We made an appointment for the following morning. I arrived about 7:30, and George let me in his office. I sat in an easy chair and opened my guitar case. The bottom of the case was filled with all sorts of papers. I used notebook paper, memo pads, and even junk mail envelopes to jot down the song lyrics I was receiving from God on a regular basis. I began to sing one of the newest songs to George and he listened very quietly, and I sang about six or seven new songs that morning. When I finished I prayed for him, and he prayed for me. We made a date to do it again in two weeks. Over the next two years we got together every two or three weeks, and each time we did, the presence of God in that room was more pronounced. We never talked about what we were doing. It was like a secret rendezvous with God.
Less than two months into this activity, I asked George if it would be okay for me to come to church at 8:00 on Sunday morning and sing in the empty sanctuary, and he said it would be fine. I started doing that and it was an amazing experience for me. I would usually start on the platform (or altar as it was generally called) and start to sing to the Lord new songs He had given me, especially the most recent ones. I found that singing for an hour straight was very exhilarating, and I would walk all over the sanctuary as I sang. Church started at 10:00. Around 9:00, the worship team would arrive, and I would quietly slip out to a hallway or children's church classroom and continue to worship God with new songs. Once in a while someone would arrive a little early and sense God's presence and quietly enter this place of being with Him. More often, people would come in and start joking around as though a sanctuary is only a sanctuary when church is in session.
Over the next two years, I spent more time in that sanctuary singing to the Lord than anyone, but only shared during the official church service occasionally. It hardly troubled me now, because God was so real to me all the time I didn't need to perform for people any more. I wondered a lot what I would do with all these songs. One day when I was singing to George in his office, he lay face down on the floor as God filled the room. I finished the song I was singing, and I could not continue, so I lay face down on the floor also. I rested my guitar against the chair I'd been sitting in, and lay next to my open guitar case. With my eyes closed, I had a vision. I saw myself climbing into that guitar case and lying face down in it. I saw a hand close the case, fasten the snaps, and pick it up. Then, I saw feet walking with case in hand. I knew it was Jesus.
The next Sunday, at the end of church, I responded to an altar call and lay on the floor by the altar, face down. One of the men in the church began to pray for me. My body began to shake, and I had the identical vision I had experienced a few days earlier.
During these two years, between the summer of '97 and the summer of '99, God blessed every thing I put my hand to. Our $48,000 debt was almost entirely gone because of bonuses I earned at my job selling books for a Christian publisher. I started singing at prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, wherever Jesus took me.
The church changed worship leaders twice. The Sunday morning song service continued to be sterile. I continued to go deeper into God's embrace. I want you to know, I feel His embrace at this moment as I am winding down our FMO letter. I have yielded myself to the Holy Spirit and I have peace that those who have ears will hear. God's embrace is wonderful beyond words. He wants you to feel His arms around you.
In December of 1998, he gave me this song. It has been Jo's favorite since that time, just as Jo has been my favorite ever since I met her.
Some times when no one's watching/ I like to slip away/ To a private table/ Where we meet every day/ We share our conversation/ Under a banner of love/ I find my consolation/ As you woo me with your love/ You woo me with your love/ You woo me with your love Some times I feel like dancing/ To the music you play/ It leads me into your presence/ Where you ask me to stay/ We're getting so much closer/ Your love is so divine/ I've got to shout about it/ That you are really mine/ you are really mine/ You are really mine
This song can be heard at www.mydaddylovesme.org
It is song #8 on '1949'.
If this newsletter is a blessing to you, bless someone else and share it. We cherish our readers and welcome your comments, positive or otherwise. We know that God loves you, so you must be all right. If we can help, let us know.
Can you say this with me:
I'm a musician.
God loves my music.
God loves me.
I love God.
Life is good!
If you're not smiling already, say it again with feeling.
I'm a musician. God loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooves my music. God loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooves me! I loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove God! Life is gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood!!!!
That's better! Thank you for spending time with me, another musician.
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