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Music and The Christian, Part 1

Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:14, Psalms 71:22-23, Psalms 57:9
Date: 09/10/2005 
Music and the Christian is a sermon a controversial topic. There is power in music that kind drive away evil spirits or invite evil spirits. It is given to us to primarily praise God, especially for our redemption.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

I've been doing a series the last few weeks, dealing with some very controversial issues and rules should. Something that has been all my heart for many years, that I wanted to talk about. And quite honestly, I never felt qualified. But I'm forcing myself. It's to deal with the subject of music and the Christian. Matter of fact, as I began to look at all the information that that connects with, I thought, “I won't get this into one message. I’d better spread this out over at least a couple and we'll see how that goes. It may go into part three or more. But I hope you'll be praying for me as I do my best to communicate this very important issue, dealing with music and the Christian. Will we all agree that it is a controversial subject? OK, good. We started out on the right foot. You may not like me when it's over. But I wanted to start on a positive note.

It’s a very personal thing when you deal with the subject of music. And it's a very powerful thing. Before we go to some of the nuances, I'd like to begin with a story in the Bible that helps to illustrate some of these points and use this as something of a springboard. Please turn in your Bibles to the first book of Samuel. I Samuel 16:14 we'll begin with. I Samuel 16:14, though, this takes place just before David goes to battle against Goliath. And remember, King Saul, who was initially chosen by the Lord, began to rebel. And he began to do his own thing and pride began to take over and eclipse his good judgment. Little by little, he was the very direct counsel of the Lord, until finally, it appears he was on the verge of grieving away the Holy Spirit. And that's where we get our story in Chapter 16, I Samuel, verse 14, “But the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul. And a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him.” First of all, God does not send evil spirits. This is sort of the Old Testament, Hebrew way of saying that when you take away light, darkness comes in.

That's just how it works. And when God withdraws his spirit than the evil spirits come in. “And as Saul began to grieve away the spirit of the Lord in the Lord withdrew his spirit, evil spirits began to trouble Saul. And he would brood,” and obviously he struggled with depression. “Then Saul's servants said to him, surely a distressing spirit from God is troubling you. Let our master now command your servants who are you for you to seek out a man who is a skillful player on a harp. And it shall be that when he will play with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you and you will be well.” That's interesting that they understood the power of music. And we don't know if maybe some of Saul's personal physicians were part of his servants that were recommending this, but they understood the power of music. And you notice, it doesn't say David will come and sing. David did sing, but they said even if he would just play music. That the right kind of music can help drive away these evil spirits and be refreshing. “So Saul said to his servants, provide me now a man who can play well.”

Not any kind of playing, but skillful playing. “So Saul said to his servants, provide me now a man… then one of his servants,” verse 18, “he answered, and he said, look, I have seen a son of Jesse, the Bethlemite, who is a skillful player and a mighty man in valor, a prudent man in speech, an handsome person.” In other words, he's capable to sit in the palace. He's got the presence. “Therefore, Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, send me your son, David, who is with the sheep. Now David must've been something of a prodigy with the harp, because it had managed to reach the palace. “And Jesse took a donkey, and he loaded it with bread and skins of wine.” When you go to the king, you always take a gift. “And a young goat.” Not only that, David was going to now eat at the royal cafeteria. So he was helping to offset those expenses. “And he sent his son, David, to Saul.

So David came to Saul, and he stood before him and he loved him greatly.” I mean, he was good-looking, healthy, handsome, skillful and, you know, most people did feel that way about David. “He loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer. Then Saul sent to Jesse and said, please let David stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.” Verse 23, here's the part I want you to remember. “And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul,” in other words, when the Lord withdrew his spirit and the evil spirits came, “that David would take the harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well. And the distressing spirit would depart from him.” The spirit of depression and oppression would be driven away. Not only was he refreshed, but he was well. It had a healing influence. Now the reason I'm beginning with this story, well there’s several points.

First of all, I want you to understand something about the power of music. And that David's playing skillfully, obviously, a certain kind of music, drove the evil spirits away. Would it make sense to you, you can participate and show me your hands, if it's true that the right kind of playing on the right kind of instrument can drive away the evil spirits and the king would feel refreshed and well, could it also hold true that the wrong kind of playing, maybe by the wrong musician in the wrong instrument could invite evil spirits? I think at least as a minimum, we'll all agree that music does influence us spiritually. Music has a very profound spiritual power. So I think it's appropriate for us to talk a little bit about the power and the purpose of music. Music is not just a collection of notes that are neutral. Some people say, “Oh music’s neutral. It doesn't matter.

I mean you could put any kind of words to any kind of music. And if the words are good, the music becomes good music.” I will submit to you, that music really is a secondary language that resonates with every soul. It is an international language. And in the same way that you can take the words of the alphabet that might seem perfectly harmless by themselves and assemble those words, and through the combination of those words you can comfort, you can inspire, you can enrage, you can motivate, you can soothe by the arrangement of those letters that are formed in words. In the same way, music is another language, and the arrangement of those notes and the harmony of those notes has all of the same power as words, even more because it reaches in with the vibrations of your body. And when you combine the power of the word in speech indicates, I mean, everything right now I'm doing, basically I'm communicating with you by articulating words that you could type out. You combine that language with the secondary language of music and you get a double-barreled power for communication.

It is an extremely powerful medium. Now, principally, music is to praise God. That's not the only purpose, but God gives us this gift of music to praise and when you look at how music is used in heaven it is used almost exclusively to praise the Lord. When you go through the Psalms of David, which are in the middle of the Bible, about 150 of them, one of the most common themes you'll find all through the Psalms, what do you think the phrase is? Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, and sometimes it says praise the Lord with music, praise his attributes, praise him with a song, but it is very clear that one of the primary functions of this language is to praise God. Well that wouldn't surprise you. I've told you music is a secondary language. What is our purpose for existence? God created us to bring glory to him. And so this gift of music, this language of music, in the same way is designed to glorify God. But there are many other purposes for music. I like something Plato said, “Give me the music of a nation and I will change the mind of that nation.”

It's very powerful. Confucius, we just came from China, he said, “If one should desire to know whether a kingdom is well governed, or if it's moral are good or bad, the quality of its musical will furnish the answer.” You can tell something about a nation’s health by the music the nation is listening to. In keeping with that, Andrew Fletcher said, “I knew a very wise man who believed that if a man should be permitted to make all of the ballads,” the singing ballads, “he need not care who should make the laws of a nation. If he could control the ballads he can control the minds.” Music is extremely powerful. It influences us physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally, which would be almost one and the same period. It's something we need to understand, and yet there is very little that is communicated about what the purpose of music is. You look at the many Psalms.

I'll just take a few of them and I hope that you'll go home after message and just start flipping through the Psalms and it gives you a good context for what the purpose of music is. Psalm 71:22-23, “Also with the lute I will praise you and your faithfulness, O my God. To you I will sing.” Well, here he's praising with an instrument, and with a voice. “And with the harp, O holy one of Israel, my lips will greatly rejoice when I sing to you and my soul which you have redeemed.” So one of the principal reasons for us to make music, with our voice and an instrument is what? To praise God for our redemption. Would you say amen to that? That's one of the great purposes for music. I know that many times we think it's for the purpose of entertaining. And there may be a place for that. I'll get to that later. But to the principal music, purpose for music, is to praise God. Psalm 57:9, “I will praise you O Lord among the peoples. I will sing to you among the nations.” In other words, not only do we praise God for the purpose of praising him, though we know that others, the nation's, the heathen, the peoples, they will hear us praising God. And so it has a witnessing influence. It has an evangelistic influence as others hear us extol God in song and through our instruments. Another one of the primary purposes of music is to teach.

Music teach? Yeah, did you notice in our verse we just started with, that Adam was reading for us, Colossians 3. Go back there again, please. Colossians, 3:16-17, here Paul is speaking, and he says, “Let the word of God dwell in you.” It's interesting, he's saying let it dwell in you. You know, if we don't resist it, it will abide in us. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you, richly.” That would mean not just the milk, but the cream, rich, thickly. “In all wisdom.” Now wisdom represents the right use of knowledge. So how do we let the word of God dwell in us richly, with wisdom? By teaching and admonishing. That means encouraging, counseling, one another. How do we let this wisdom and teaching an admonition abide in us? In Psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs. One of the primary purposes for music is to communicate truth. To teach, to admonish, to exhort, to communicate wisdom. Now, something that I'm going to share with you, one of my goals in this whole presentation. I'm worried about the direction. I'm going to be very vulnerable during this message, and kind of let my hair down, so to speak.

Don't laugh. But if you take your hymnal flipped through it, you don't need to necessarily do this right now. And you look at the hymns that are older, you'll notice there's more verses. Matter of fact, in the new hymnal, if you knew the truth, they took verses out of some of the hymns just to make them shorter. They may have done that in part to get more hymns in there. But the depth of theology in the lyrics is much stronger. It was cream. And then over time it's gone to milk and then to skim milk, and then water. So that the messages continued to get more shallow. And a lot of the contemporary music that is popular, and not just contemporary, but contemporary Christian music. Notice that a lot, not all. I'll talk about that in a minute. It's just a lot of very sweet, empty platitudes, happy-go-lucky, bubblegum Christianity. Where, let's find some happy thought and say it 10 times. And they call it a praise song. Again, I like some of those praise songs, and I think it's appropriate, a place for that, but there's a trend of getting away from real purpose of music, to praise God and to teach profound, biblical truth. And I'll tell you, it takes a little more energy to write a hymn that will take a doctrine and put it in musical form with the right melodies and harmonies and it will both communicate truth, admonish, teach, inspire and yet still have the music match the message. It could take months to write a good hymn like that. A lot of the praise songs, you could write in 10 minutes. I could write one for you. I won't, right now.

Maybe I'll do it later. But it's not hard. I remember one time, years ago, Arlo Guthrie, some of you know that name, son Woody Guthrie, who wrote the song, This Land Is Your Land This Land Is My Land. He was on the Johnny Carson show. You can tell this dates back a while. Arlo Guthrie had written a song that was about an hour long called Alice’s Restaurant. I see some of you nodding. Don't let other people see you nodding. Unfortunately, I know this is Sabbath, but in order to teach you this I need to make some comparisons. So bear with me. And Johnny Carson said something to the effect, “You've got an amazing ability to write songs. I mean, who could write a song an hour long?” Whatever Alice's Restaurant was. It was a long song. And he said, “Can you write a song right here?” He said, “Sure.” He said, “Write one.” He said, “OK. I don't want a pickle, I just want ride my motorcycle. I don't want a nickel, I just want ride my motorcycle.” People caught that and they began to sing that. You know what poetry is? Good poetry, I've heard a lot of bad poetry. A lot of people come to me and they say, Pastor Doug, “I’ve written a poem. I've written some poems.” I've read some of them, and every now and then I'll read something and go, “Wow, that's pretty good. It's deep.” There's a real gift to writing good poetry, but so often you read the poetry, and it's almost like “roses are red, violets are blue.” That's the (?), and you can always predict what the end of the next line is without even reading it by virtue of the previous line.

Everybody always wants to rhyme above with love, right? I have finished other people's songs, the first time I've heard them because, because I could tell it was a simple lyrical choices that I knew where They were going and I could finish the last line. Well, good poetry surprises you. Because it still rhymes and it communicates thoughts, and there's depth and a little bit of complexity. And a lot of the great hymns that you find it started out as poems, and someone said, “Hey put that to music and you'll really have something.” Likewise, others have found splendid music that was just instrumental music, and they've said, “You've got to add some words to that.”

Now, my mother was a songwriter. I think a pretty good songwriter. And she wrote, you know, stuff that was recorded by some famous artists. My mother would work with composers that were on Broadway and one of them was a Tony Award winner. I don't know if any of you remember hearing. There was a play called Seventeen-Seventy-Six. This guy named Sherman was a history teacher, and he had spent 10 years working on a play and a music for the play, but he just couldn't get the words. He worked with my Mom, and they wrote some words and it was just inspiring to watch them work. But they worked for days on one song. But a lot of the common praise songs it’s just kind of, whoop-dee-do, you know. And there's no depth of thought in it the way there was in Bible times. You know, it will probably, one of the principal reasons for music is to teach, and I should also mention at this point, I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with some repetition in songs. A lot of the praise songs, a lot of repetition. You probably heard this story about the farmer. That comes home from the city, and he says to his wife, “Mildred,” he said, “well, Mildred. I just came from the city. To which church while I was there, and I learned about praise songs.” In the farmer's wife says, “What's a praise song?” He says, “Well, it's different from a hymn.” She says, “Well, what's the difference?” He said, “I don't know if I could explain it.” He said, “I guess if I were to try and tell you what the difference is, if I was going to sing a hymn, I would say ‘O, Mildred, the cows are in the corn.’ But if I was going to sing a praise song I would say ‘O, Mildred, Mildred, Mildred. My Mildred, Mildred, my Mildred. The cows, the cows, the cows, they're in the corn, the corn.

The red cows, the black cows, they're in the corn, the corn, the corn.’” He says, “That would be a praise song.” Now it's not quite that bad. A little repetition’s OK. Is there any repetition in the Bible? I mean, you'll find some of the Psalms where it says over and over in the Psalm, “His mercy endures forever. His mercy endures forever.” And even the angels around the throne of God, there in Isaiah 6, they say, “holy, holy, holy.” So as a rule of thumb, if it's more than three times it’s repetitious. No, I can't really say that. And isn't it true that sometimes you teach with a little bit of repetition; can sometimes teach. And you can impress a certain thought by saying it more than once. But there's a limit. And I guess one of my concerns with some of the shallow, contemporary music is that, not only can they be overly repetitive. I'm talking about some of it you understand? But it's almost sung like New Age chants that are designed to put somebody in a state of hypnosis. I used to be in the New Age movement before. I was a Christian. I know what it sounds like. Karen and I just came back from China. We heard the Buddhists, the monks chanting, and it was like this monotonous [chanting]. And it's kind of like a hypnotic trance. And you know it's interesting, virtually every culture of the world has a breed of music like that. When we were in Australia, a little more than a year ago, the aborigines, they blow these, what you call them? Jibardedues? I forget what you call them. Didgeridoo, thank you. I knew someone would help me out.

They blow these things and it's, [sounds]. You ever heard that before? And those are sounds, they kind of resonate with your body, but they almost put you in the zoning mode, which is something like a state of hypnosis. I've heard contemporary Christian praise songs that are of the same genre. And it's just like, who are we trying to hypnotize here? What's the point? The different kinds of music can communicate different things. It's probably appropriate to give you a little history. Music has gone through a revolutionary change in the last 300-400 years. You go back to the time of Martin Luther, because music, the power of music was recognized the way it is, the churches. The people never sang in church. There would be a few carefully chosen monks that might chants and Latin during the mass. And it was, again, that kind of almost Buddhist, monotonous chant. They're making a comeback. Have some of you heard about some of these monastic chants, they've got albums out, they're making tours and these different monks from these abbeys and monasteries are going around. Their records are selling like crazy, and they're doing their chanting. And it almost has a hypnotic effect on people. Will that was the only music during the time of Luther and it was all in Latin. And so people, not only were allowed, they weren't allowed to participate, they really didn't know, the common people, what was being said. One of the most powerful things that happened with the Reformation was not just the 95 Thesis, but Luther said, “Let’s let the people sing.” And for her while he said, “You want to come and sing in Latin? You can sing in Latin or you can sing in your native tongue.” What do you think happened to those who came to sing in Latin? Those groups diminished.

Very few people wanted to come and sing in Latin. The congregations that were allowed to sing in their own tongue, they exploded. And he realized the need to have some guidance on the music. And so Luther very carefully wrote many songs and others began to write songs all through the Reformation that communicated the truths of the Reformation in song. Have you read A Mighty Fortress? What number is that? Someone help me out real quick. In the hymnal. Doesn't anyone know that by heart? I should know that. A Mighty Fortress, it's in there. What number? 506? Thank you very much. Go there for a second. Martin Luther, “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing. Our helper, he emits the flood of mortal ills prevailing. For still our ancient foe doth seek to work as woe. His craft and power are great. And armed with cool hate, on earth is not his equal.” You don't hear praise songs that talk about hate do you? Someone name a praise song that talks about hate. Do you find hate in the Psalms? Hating evil? Yes. The Psalms talk about judgment. The Psalms talk about some heavy things. Read Psalm 137, where it talks about smashing the little ones. I mean, there are some heavy things in there. But you don't find a lot of that in the modern songs because everything’s supposed to stay light and fluffy, you know? The idea of the music is to communicate the truth of the bible, whether it's easy or difficult. “Did we, in our own strength confide our striving would be losing, were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing.”

A friend of mine took A Mighty Fortress. And he wrote down the guitar chords for me and you change chords about 50 times per stanza. Virtually every note you have to change chords. It's a difficult song to play on the guitar. “Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He, Lord Sabaoth, His name, From age to age the same, And He must win the battle.” Where do you find Lord Sabaoth? One place in the Bible. In the New Testament, in James it’s also in one place in the Old Testament. You've got to know your Bible to know, what's it talking about? The Lord of Sabaoth has nothing to do with Sabbath. It means the Lord of Hosts. It's deep. “One little word shall fell him. God's truth abideth still, His kingdom is for ever.” You notice there's no two verses that of the same? It's a sermon and a song. It's communicating truth. There was depth. He wrote scores and scores of songs. And not only did he, of course, but you've got people like Newton and Westley, Charles Westley and a number of these great reformers. They were writing these hymns that were communicating truth. And the message of the Reformation exploded because they were taking the doctrines and putting them to music. Not only music to praise God, but music to teach, to admonish. Oh, you know, I want go back and explain that.

You notice, turn in your Bibles to Ephesians5:19. Two times, Paul specifically says “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Ephesians5:19 he says the same thing he says in Colossians 3:16-17, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” When we get together and we have fellowship do we speak to each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs? Is your repertoire of music and hymns so great that you only talk in psalms are hymns or musical psalms, spiritual songs? We've got some friends up in the hills and we get together with them. They've got this game, I don't know where it is, but it's a game where you're supposed to, you can't talk unless you say it in a song. Now, unfortunately, it also uses secular songs. But it's kind of a fun game in that you can say almost anything if you’ve got a good repertoire of songs in your head.

You can communicate a variety of things. But how often do you hear Christians speaking to each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs? What's the difference between psalms and hymns and spiritual songs? One of music instructor tried to identify it this way. Psalms are passages of the Bible set to music, typically from the Psalms. Hymns are songs about God, or one of his attributes. They could be about the Bible or a theme such as How Great is Thy Faithfulness. That would be a hymn. Spiritual songs are more personal songs about an individual's relationship with God. And so there's a distinction that even Paul is making, different kinds of Christian music, but all Christian music. Amen? Now, going back to the history a little bit. I want to talk to you about Thomas Edison. Think about this for a second.

If you're reading your Bible, in Genesis 4:21 it says, “Jubal,” this is back before the flood, “Jubal was the father of all those who played the harp and the flute.” And way back in the beginning, I don't know, he was sitting under a tree with a piece of bamboo and he blew in it and it whistled and he elaborated, I'm not sure how it happened, but he began to develop these instruments. Matter of fact, the name a Jubal means ram’s horn. So maybe he started out by blowing in a ram's horn and made the first trumpet. And then he made a flute and he began to develop these instruments to accompany the voice. Now the human voice is very complex. It can sing a whole variety of notes and if you get a good group of singers where you can go all the way from a high soprano to a low base, and everything in-between and they’re singing their parts. How many of you have heard a good a cappella group, where you've got five or six people that are singing and they're all singing a different part? You don't notice that there aren't instruments.

It's just beautiful. And God made the voice that way, but then along came instruments. There's nothing wrong with instruments. I'll talk about that, different instruments play different things. But think about this. From the time of Jubal, to the time of Thomas Edison, if you wanted to hear music, what did you do? For the first 58, 59 centuries of the world’s history, if you wanted to hear music you needed to know somebody, Grandpa or somebody who could play the fiddle or the accordion or the spoons or the washboard. Someone had to have a gift, right? Not everybody could afford a harpsichord like Mozart. Or you might go to the, when the town got together, and they would sing. There might be an organ in the church, but that was only during the last 600 years, those kind of big instruments. What happened after Thomas Edison?

All of a sudden, people could take a song and put it on a roll, a disk, and one song could be multiplied. And if you wanted to hear a song you could hand somebody a song. You didn't need the body anymore. You didn't need the person anymore. And it went from Thomas Edison, with those old reels that they had. I think I had a picture of the first phonograph up there a second ago. You've probably seen those in museums. And then they went to the records. I've still got, my mother's got a collection that's all stored. I don't know what I'm going to do with it. I've actually got some cuts she did with Elvis Presley.

Probably worth something. I don't know how to use eBay. But you've got this big, you know, the vinyl records, that we've used as frisbees before. And then they've gone to these CDs and DVDs, and you can download your music. You don't even need to go to the music store anymore. And think about what's happened now. We're living in an age where, in theory you could be listening to music for virtually every hour of your day. Just my own entertainment, every now and then I stop and look at new cars. Then I look at the sticker and I get the victory. But I stopped and just wondered about some of the new Audis the other day on my way home. And I saw that they're all coming now with satellite radio. And I really didn't know much about that. I had heard a little bit about it, but I rented a car a few weeks ago that actually came with the satellite radio that they activate.

I don’t know, the car rental company, maybe they’re trying to tempt you to buy it when you go home. But it had activated satellite radio, and I couldn't figure it out. There were 900 stations, crystal clear. And then I was a little disturbed when I noticed that some of the stations, as I was surfing through, were completely uncensored, very profane. And I thought, that's when I realized it was satellite radio. Because I thought to myself, “Wait until the FCC hears about this! You can't do that. That's against the law here in America.” But you know, satellite radio’s under different laws because it's not going from a base station in a country.

It's going from the sky. Nobody owns that. And they get away with stuff that you can't get away with if you’re on the ground. So, what am I saying? When music became an industry where songs were being sold, and when it got the place where from the time you go to bed at night, and you wake up with your radio alarm clock, and in the car you've got a hundred different selections on the satellite radio. I'm embarrassed to tell you. I've got a radio in my shower, but I don't listen to the music. I listen to sermons. Some people listen to music in their shower. Used to be a place where you'd compose your music, right? You'd sing in the shower. Some of the best music's been composed in the shower. And on their way to work they're listening, and in some work environments there's background music going on, and you go to the supermarket and you've got the music playing.

It's everywhere you turn. Either one of two things has happened. You have to pick one. Either for the first 59 centuries of human history we were starved musically, or we're living in an age of musical excess. You didn't expect me to say that. Not too many people would have the audacity to say, you can have too much music. Can you ever get where you have too many words? You hear too much speaking? Sure. Then is it also conversely true that you can have too much music? Isaiah says in Chapter 5, “Woe unto them to join house to house and lay field to field until there's no place that man might be alone in the earth.” God says he speaks to us through a still small voice. He says, “He still and know that I am God.” You need times for quiet reflection. And this gluttony of music that we have around us can be intoxicating.

So people hear just so much music, but then one of the problems with the radio used to be that you could just pick the song you wanted. Your favorite singer would sing your favorite song, and you would listen to your song. But you don't have that kind of discretion so much with the radio. You've got to take just carte blanche, what's lilting over the speaker. Now you'll say, “That’s really good. And that's got a good message,” but in the next one is so-so. And what happens is, little by little, our discretion about what is appropriate and inappropriate music gets absolutely blasted so that you become numb. And you just get where, I mean, after all I've either got to go to the supermarket and plug my ears, right? You go to the health club, see the kids, I saw them yesterday. They're walking down the street. You can't walk down the sidewalk without headphones on now.

It's like, “How am I going to make it 15 minutes without listening to some music?” Does that have an influence on us? I'd like to suggest that it does. You know, people used to have to make their own music, good or bad. And because we're living in the age where music is an industry and music is sold and after a song sells well they've got to get just a little more tantalizing, a little more extreme, pushing the envelope just a little farther, so that it will attract a fresh audience. Otherwise it all just starts sounding the same. Because it's a moneymaking industry you can buy stock in music. Sure, you can buy ownership in the company of your favorite artist.

It's a business. And because it is business driven, and they now have these multi-million-dollar studios that can actually take a voice that's off key and correct it, it does now with music. What the graphic artist could do with them if photograph. Take all the blemishes out. And he can just make the timing perfect. It's not even a real drummer anymore. It's often a drum machine. And a synthesizer. That a lot of us that maybe God has given musical skill to, we're a little bit inadequate because we think, “Oh, I'd better just find my favorite,” “Do you play music?” “No, but I play the radio.” Have you ever heard people say that before? When I lived up in the mountains and I was 16, 17 years old, I'm ashamed to tell you that I have very little official musical training. It was required in third grade. I remember, they handed out recorders. [Plays on recorder]. Any of you remember these? They now make them translucent. And I learned to play [plays]. Claire du Lune. Any of you learn that on the piano? Anyone else learn that somewhere in school? Then I got to where I could do it with two. [plays] I forgot to bring two with me, but just trust me. And so, when I was living up in the cave

I thought, “You know, I am so lonely up here.” I had no radio, no television, no people around. I was missing music because I always kind of had it in the background, but never thought about it. I never tried to sing. It was in the house so much and I was surrounded by so many talented musicians, I just thought, “I'll never measure up to their level.” So I never even tried to do anything musical. I just enjoyed other people’s singing and playing. And I finally thought, my brother said, “Doug, Dad wants to know what to get you for your birthday. You're living in a cave. He's not sure what to get you.” And I said, “Get me a recorder. I really miss music.” And Karen will tell you; I still have that same recorder. It's up in Covelo, hanging on a nail there, by the piano and I still play it. A big [?] recorder, about this big. And I can still play to recorder.

Here, I tell you what. You name a song. Someone want to pick a song? 289. Does that sound like this? [plays] No, that's not it, is it? [plays] You know, Paul said, “I will become a fool for Christ.” Didn't he say that one time? I know this wasn't, oh, is that The Savior’s Waiting? [plays] Is that close enough? Did you know I was going to do that? So what happened is, I had to learn to play because I was going crazy. And I was wanting to get a little music in my life. I might pull out another instrument before we're done here today. A physical response. Does music affect us spiritually? Did we already show you that from the Bible with King David? Does music affect us physically? Oh yes sir, it does. Psalm 61:8, “So I will sing praise to your name forever that I made daily perform my vows. I will sing that I might perform my vows.”

Now, how could singing enable you to be more faithful? Well, I've already said you're influenced spiritually by music. Singing the right kind of songs can better enable you to fulfill your covenant with God. Have you ever thought that by choosing to sing the wrong things you can weaken your spiritual resolve? But it also affects you physically. Your body has rhythms. First of all, even though you don't think about it, breathing is a rhythm. Right? And anyone who teaches someone else music, and when you play the recorder, they teach you to breathe. When you play the trumpet, when you play the flute and a lot of other wind instruments there's breathing that's rhythm. You've got a heart that is beating. The heartbeat is unique. It's not just bum, bum, bum. It's sort of bum-bum, bum-bum, bum-bum. There's a rhythm there. Hearing sound, those nerves that go to your brain, they have a tendency to coincide with the body, and it gets different effects physiologically. I don't know if any of you noticed it, but I was very proud of Stephen when he sang.

I tried not to act too proud, but I was. Any of you noticed he kind of swayed back and forth? He probably never even thought of it. Is that right, Stephen? Did you notice, Stephen, that you were swaying? Yeah, see he wasn't thinking about it. You know it happens because there was a certain rhythm in the song. He inadvertently was doing this. And you know what? I watched some of you, you were tapping. Not actually with his song, but with some of the other songs. During Sabbath School I came out, I just did a little experiment. And while our song leaders were leading, I came out; I looked around the corner because I heard the song they were singing, kind of a marching song. What was it? “Onward Christian soldiers.” And I said, “A-ha.” And I went around the corner and sure enough, people were [makes movement?].

Now when you think about the physical response that you have in song, and that's not all bad. There's different kinds of physical responses to different kinds of music. Marching music. If you're going to tell somebody that you're getting ready to parade on your way to battle you want the music like Yankee Doodle. Or a Sousa march. It's exciting, it's inspiring. We're going to battle. We want to be courageous. And you know what it does? It appeals to your extremities. This is marching music. It's the extremities that it's appealing to. But there's another kind of music, and another kind of rhythm that also makes you want to move, but it's a sensual rhythm. And it, and sometimes we have trouble distinguishing between that which is sensual and that which is spiritual. And sometimes there’s some of these songs and they're not appealing to the extremities, they’re appealing to the torso and to the pelvis. Why do you think it was the first time Elvis was on the Ed Sullivan Show? You know, I met Ed Sullivan one time, at a bus stop when I was going to school.

He didn't talk to me. But when the Ed Sullivan show, when Elvis first appeared, how many of you remember what the camera had to do? They thought it would be scandalous. And this is secular television. This isn't a Christian network. They thought it would be scandalous to show what was happening from the waist down because he was gyrating his pelvis. They used to call him Elvis the Pelvis. Because a lot of the rhythms that he sang with rock 'n roll are sexually suggestive. And it appeals to that part of your anatomy. The one of the criteria, you might jot this down if you're wanting to take anything home from the sermon. Is there anything wrong with singing, “marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion.”? What kind of song is that? Do you sing that song going, “marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion.” You're laughing because you know that doesn't match, does it?

I know, I told you, this is communicating something. I'm a little embarrassed, but I'll get over it. You pray for me. But you get the point. You don't do that with Marching to Zion. But are their songs, have you seen before, people in church singing where they're [movement?]? Yeah. And you know some of these dear folks; they don't even realize because everybody's doing it, that there might be something sexually suggestive about their spiritual song. Because it's not the right kind of rhythm for church. I'm not sure where it goes. For the Christian anyway. And certain instruments are more appropriate for certain kinds of music. For instance, if you, and you know, one thing I want to make clear is, any part of the world, we're going to talk a little later about cultural music. But music is an international language. Any part of the world that you go to, you'll find that their marching music appeals to the extremities. It doesn't matter whether you're in Russia or you're in India. You watch their soldiers marching to the band and they're not going to be playing sexually suggestive rhythms. Doesn't match.

Any part of the world you go to, when the mother is rocking her baby to sleep, do you think she singing rock 'n roll? What kind of instrument? Well, the human voice, you want something soft. Now in the Bible, it talks about trumpets quite a bit in the house of the Lord. Matter of fact, it's one of the first instruments. I don't know if I need the microphone for this. But would you put a baby to sleep, now by the way, I don't play the trumpet. [plays trumpet] I sort of play it. I just haven't played and longtime. If you take your baby and you say, “Time for bed,” and then you start to play it when the Saints Go Marching In. Would that match? What do you want when you're going to put a baby to sleep? Soothing music. Is there such a thing as soothing music? Why? Because it affects you physically. Not to mention, that the decibels can hurt your ears. And why did they use trumpets in Bible times? Because it was a loud music. They often used them for what? They praise the Lord in the temple and they'd also use the trumpet for war.

It says in I Corinthians 14, “If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound how shall they prepare for battle?” During the Civil War, you know, we know in this country that when they wanted to charge you'd hear [sounds]. Right? And that always meant that the cavalry was coming to rescue. And when I went to military school, at the end of the day we’d always hear over the loudspeaker, they had a trumpet play. [sounds] What's that? Taps. In the morning, what do you think we heard? [sounds] You notice the difference between those two? You don't go to sleep with [sounds] you don't wake up to [sounds]. Now even the military understands the physical response of music. You see that? That it makes a difference what kind of music you’re listening to, because it evokes different kinds of physical reactions. Have you ever heard before about how at a rock concert there was a riot?

Every now and then you'll hear on the news, “At the concert tonight there was a riot and some people were trampled.” And you might say, “What concert was it?” “Mozart.” Have you ever heard that people went to hear Mozart and there was a big drug bust? When you hear about these kinds of scandalous things that happen at concerts, where there's violence and people are being trampled to death, and there's drug busts, and someone is raped during the concert (that happens), is it ever at Beethoven? So does the music affect us spiritually? But what does that mean when it comes into the church? Now some of the physical influence of music is not all bad. Here, let me give you an example. No, I don't want the harmonica yet. You understand minor keys? Are there some sad songs in the Bible? Does a sad song sound differently from a happy song? Is a sad song bad? Well it could be. If you're at a bar and you’re melancholy, then it might be bad. [plays guitar] These are minor keys.

Sings: “Flee as a bird to your mountain, you who are weary of sin. Go to the clear flowing mountain, where you may wash and be clean.”

That's mostly minors. By the way, that's in the hymnal. The old hymnal. It's not in the new hymnal. It's called Flee as a Bird. Any of you remember that? Some of you remember that. Minor keys, very sad.

Sings: “Abide with me fast falls the even tide.”

Is that a sad song? [Playing and humming] minor keys, sad. But if I were to do [playing and whistling When the Roll is Called up Yonder]. Is that happy? A lot more major keys in there. One is a very happy song; the others were very sad songs. Could they both be biblical, spiritual songs? Do you find when you read the Psalms of David that you may have some happy songs and you may have some sad songs? It doesn't mean because one is one or the other that it's good or bad. So you can see that the different sounds affect us physically. Someone did a study, a doctor for years studied the effect of music, and he's not a Christian doctor, on the human body and one of the things he concluded was the typical sounds of rock 'n roll music not only have an adverse affect on your body, but they are actually bad for your heart. Because they often are emphasizing the opposite beat rhythm, an offbeat from what your heart is beating. And it's almost like subconsciously, your mind is trying to make your heart beat differently because of the music. Music does affect us. I remember as a kid, I used to not be a Christian.

I used to go to rock concerts. And you could watch as the music began a change come over the group. And that wasn't always the case, but in many cases you would actually see them get into a frenzy that would be virtually animalistic. And I've had people run up to me at concerts that looked like they had absolutely gone out of their mind and were basically, demon possessed. And they arrived at the concert in their right mind and listening to the wrong kind of music, the evil spirits came in. Whereas the music of the Lord, performed well can drive the evil spirits away. The Bible says Saul was refreshed. He was well. I would've liked to have heard David play. Wouldn't you? You know, we've got all of David’s Psalms here, but unfortunately they didn't have the phonograph. So we don't know exactly what the music sounded like.

I can't wait to get to heaven and find out what that's like. The book Education, “As our Redeemer leads us to the threshold of the infinite, flush with the glory of God, we may catch the themes of praise and thanksgiving from the heavenly choir round about the throne. And as the echoes of the angels’ song is awakened in our earthly homes, hearts will be drawn closer to the heavenly singers. Heaven’s communion begin on earth where we learn here the keynote of its praise.” That's from the book Education, page 168. Now, take your hymnals and turn to 425. Don't stand up yet. I picked this song. I like this song. Because it communicates a message. And I don't even know what key this is in. Arlene will probably correct me later, but

Sings: “There is singing up in heaven; such as we have never known. Where the angels sing the praises of the Lamb upon the throne. Their sweet harps are ever tuned for and their voices always clear. Oh that we might be more like them, while we serve the Master here. Holy, holy is what the angels sing, and I expect to help them make the courts of heaven ring. But when I sing redemption’s story they will fold their wings, for angels never felt the joy that our salvation brings.”

Aren't those beautiful words? You know, the message in this and the reason I did that for you, so often you stand and start singing and you're thinking about where you're parked and how to get out. And I wanted you to hear it and I like it. I love this song. We will someday get to sing with the angels. We will have something to sing about that they can't sing about. We'll be able to sing about redemption there then, but if we want to be singing with the angels there we need to know how to sing about redemption first here, don’t we?

Prayer: oh dear Lord, we are so thankful you have given us something to sing about. We are so thankful. We praise you Lord, that we have this hope of everlasting life, that we can live in that pure world, in a universe where there is no more curse or sin. And what a privilege Lord, to be able to sing a chorus that even the angels can't join in, to gather around your throne and praise your name. Lord, I pray that you will bless us, give us the Holy Spirit to grant us discretion. There is such a cacophony of music in the world, some good, much bad, Lord. And we know that the devil is using this, but it’s a power that you can also use for good. We need the gift of discernment, Lord. Help us to realize that it does make a difference what we listen to and what we sing, that it influences us spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally. Help us to know how to choose that which is good, to dwell on that which is pure, and to do all things that will glorify you. Please blessed Lord, we do need a revival in this area, both in our church and in our homes. And I pray that these messages will take root and bear fruit. Be with us as we go from this place. We pray that the song of salvation will remain in our hearts. In Jesus name we ask, amen.

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God's Holy Word: Is it Still Worth Dying For? by Ellen White

God's Holy Word: Is it Still Worth Dying For? by Ellen White
God's Promises




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