Music and the Christian, Pt. 2

Scripture: Acts 16:25, 2 Chronicles 20:20-24, Exodus 32:17-18
Date: 09/17/2005 
The second of a two part series on music and the Christian. Our music can be a witness to others. There is power in music to free us. Such music can be set to prayer. Some of the most amazing stories of battle is when the people praised God and the Lord gave the victory.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Morning. I’d like to wish you all a happy Sabbath. Very thankful to see you here. Again want to welcome our friends who may be joining us by audio or video or DVD now. I guess video is sort of the antiquated reference. If you are tuning in for the first time, this really is the second part in a message we started last week dealing with the subject of music and the Christian. Simply Music and the Christian, part 2. I don’t know whether or not there will be a part three. That may depend on how far I get today. Sometimes I look at my notes and I think I can cover that in one message and then I become enamored with my own voice and it goes longer than I expected and I have to spread it out into another message, or sometimes the Lord gives me something I want to share that I didn’t have in my notes. I’d like to start in a similar place where we started last week. You remember we used the story of how David’s playing the harp skillfully through the influence of that music, and it does not even say he sang, the evil spirits were somehow driven away from King Saul.

Now we already know that there’s a type of music that can invite the wrong spirits, but I’d like to stay with the positive. In our scripture reading we’re taken to a story that you find in Acts chapter 16 where Paul and Silas are incarcerated for their faithfulness basically, for preaching the gospel, and their backs are beaten and they’re placed in the stocks and they’re in the most miserable of circumstances. Here again we see the power of music and the power of praise more specifically. While they are there in the stocks, their backs are sore, they’ve been beaten and mistreated, instead of becoming discouraged they lean on the Lord and they offer praise to God at the darkest hour. At midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. Some of the hymns are prayers. Matter of fact, many of the songs that you sing are really prayers put to music.

There is great power in that. There is power in praise. They were praying and singing to the Lord, and the prisoners were listening. Those who are in the prisons around us listen to our music. You can witness through your music. Good or bad, you will witness through your music. I know that sometimes (this was not in my notes) sometimes I’ll get in a car that I’m renting, happens frequently, and you push the button to turn the radio on and you can learn something about the former renter. So realizing that whenever I rent a car as I’m going sometimes down the long roads I find all of the Christian stations, maybe even a few classical stations, and I preset them so that, and sometimes there’ll even be a sermon on and when the attendant takes the car back and he’s checking. He has to turn it on to check the gas gauge to see if I’ve left it full, he gets to hear at least a little snippet of something. I want to witness through the music. So the prisoners were listening to them. One time a Christian was giving me a ride, supposed to be a Christian, from the airport to the place where I was going to speak and he said, “Oh, I want to catch the news.” And he turned on his radio but what he had been listening to prior to the radio was on.

I thought to myself, he began to fumble real quick with the knobs because he was listening to something that no Christian should listen to, in my opinion. It was a bad witness, and I could see by the flush in his face that he didn’t expect the pastor to hear that. When he had turned it off it never occurred to him that the pastor would be hearing what he had been listening to. He couldn’t say that it was just because the change of the station happened. It was a CD in the car. So the prisoners were listening to them, and the Bible says, “suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken:” God sent an angel, I believe, “and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s chains were loosed.” There was a great liberation because of their song. There is power in music to free. This is what it did for Saul. The right kind of music. This was the kind of music that could be set to prayer because they were praying and singing. There was a harmony between the prayers and the songs. A lot of music I know that you’ve heard in the church doesn’t sound at all like prayer, fess up, but their singing was partnering with prayer. As a result of that they were set free and those around them were set free. Not just their chains were broken, but everybody’s doors were opened. Would you like to know that kind of music? We need to know what that kind of music is because it’s powerful.

Now there are a number of cases in the Bible. Again, II Chronicles chapter 20:21, let me give you the story. King Jehoshaphat is in a dire predicament. Israel is surrounded by three nations, the Ammonites, the sons of Ammon, the Edomites and the Moabites. Their enemies of closest proximity basically all united to go to war against Jehoshaphat, and the northern kingdom isn’t going to help him, the ten tribes, it’s just Judah and Benjamin. They’ve got all of these nations coming against them. It looks almost hopeless. A prophet had told them that they should trust the Lord. Stand still and God would deliver them. The way they were to go into this battle was singing. I’m not talking about like the picture of the Revolutionary trio where you’ve got one little drum and the fife and he’s limping along with his head wrapped up. They used to have during the Civil War the band would lead the soldiers into battle. You’ve maybe even seen the Irish soldiers being led by the bagpipes. A band often leads the soldiers into battle. It used to encourage them.

They don’t do that anymore because with our modern technology the music would stop pretty quick. Right? But that’s how they used to do it. They’d march into battle led by the music, the band. So he puts the choir out in the front. The Bible says “he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: ‘Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever.’ Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir,” that’s the Edomites, “who had come against Judah…” In other words, they all turned on each other. Don’t miss that. They turned on each other. They sort of imploded and the Edomites and the Moabites began to fight with each other and by the time Jehoshaphat got there they had basically all killed each other off so all they had to do is carry off the spoil. They were liberated and all they did was sing. That’s the right kind of music, would you agree?

It also makes me think of the story of Gideon. What was it that gave Gideon and his three hundred soldiers that were vastly outnumbered the victory? They blew the trumpets, the enemy turned on itself.

Joshua did they fight with the sword or with the Lord? They marched around the city, they blew the trumpets and the walls fell in on themselves. They basically self-destructed. You know I forgot to read something to you in Acts chapter 16 it says that after everyone’s prison doors were opened the jailor turned his sword on himself. Paul stopped him, but it seems like what happens is when the devil hears music that praises God it just sort of makes him self-destruct. He can’t bear that because he wants the glory. There is power in music to set people free.

A lot of people are troubled by demons. There are people who walk to and fro around you every day that are harassed by demons. All of us are harassed by demons. The Lord Jesus Christ was harassed by demons but some people are possessed by demons. You know in the Bible it talks about a man who was possessed by legions of demons, thousands of them. They’re easy to spot. They run around naked with chains, but there might be people around you who are possessed by one or two and they can look very dignified and self-possessed, self-controlled, and they’re still struggling with demons. I think there are a lot of people who take the name of Jesus that invite demons into their lives because they’re listening to the wrong kind of music and the right kind of music could set them free.

We’re going to talk a little bit about the specifics and I hope that I don’t make too many enemies, but I want to be faithful to the Lord in what I share with you today. Luther said, “The devil takes flight at the sound of God’s music.” You’ve heard of Johann Sebastian Bach, he said, “All music should have no other end, no other aim than the glory of God and the soul’s refreshment. Where this is not remembered there is no real music, but only a devilish hubbub.” That’s a pretty broad statement from a classical composer. Now you might be saying, “Pastor Doug, are you saying that any music that is not sacred music is wrong?” No. I believe that there is music that may be patriotic music. When I get together with my friends and we sit around the campfire we sing a lot of sacred music, we sing a lot of gospel music and we might sing some cowboy songs where there’s nothing harmful in the lyrics. “Give me a home where the buffalo roam,” or you might sing, “This land is your land, this…”

There’s some music that is secular music, you just look at the words, listen to the music, if it passes the test. There are love songs. Song of Solomon is a love song. Isn’t that right? A love song is not evil if you’re singing it to the one you love. I wrote a song for Karen I’ve never sung for anybody but Karen (I don’t think). Now I didn’t mean that the way it came out. What I meant was, I may have showed it to somebody else but I don’t remember, and I’m not going to do it now for you. But there’s nothing wrong with a love song per say. It might be what you’d call secular music. So all music doesn’t have to be religious per say, you see what I’m saying?

And then other people might say, “Oh, but this contemporary music is all bad.” You hear a lot about contemporary Christian music. It’s called CCM, contemporary Christian music. Now the word contemporary simply means of the same period or time. I’ve written songs that are obviously of this same period of time and I hope that God is pleased with those. Just because something is current, kind of follows with the times in which you live, does not make it automatically bad. Are you aware of all of the songs in your hymnal were contemporary at one time? Isn’t that right? When they were written they were contemporary.

If you live the same time as me, we’re living contemporaneously. We live at the same time, that’s all that means. There’s something else that could be understood by contemporary music. A lot of the popular music I think we will admit is very worldly and the rhythms are sensual and the beats can be un-Christ-like and devilish in their composition. That kind of Christian music may not be appropriate. Let me illustrate something to you that I think you know. Last week I was playing with a few instruments, and I want to see if I can… (Pray for me.) Just I want to illustrate something about contemporary music.

Any of you recognize that melody? What’s the name? That song has about five different names. It started out it’s an Irish melody, “Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling. Come vale to vale and down the mountainside.” Something like that. That’s the original. Then you’ve got, it’s in your hymnal, “I cannot tell why He who angels worship should set His love upon the sons of man.” That’s a different one. Then you’ve got, I heard it during Sabbath school, right? “Amazing grace shall always be my song of praise.” It started out as a secular song, and some melodies are beautiful, but… Oh, you know the song “Green Sleeves”? That was a love song. It’s in your hymnal now. “What Child is This?” Martin Luther wrote a lot of songs that took the contemporary music and it was good melodies and he put Christian words to it.

You know a lot of people in the world say “A Mighty Fortress” started off as a bar song. That’s not true. It was a very popular melody in Germany at the time, but it was a good melody. Sometimes the devil will take a good melody and put bad words to it and he can make it even more dangerous. I remember hearing a song years ago that, I don’t know if I remember how to play that so I don’t know if I dare pick up my guitar. But it’s a song written by Don McLean and it was “Starry, starry night.” It’s called Vincent. Yeah. You know I heard that song for years, I thought, what a pretty melody. I always remembered “Starry, starry night,” and then I’d go da da da da da da dah because I couldn’t remember the rest of it. So one day I found the words. I started reading through the words. I thought that’s sort of tragic.

I found out the song is written about Vincent Van Gough who killed himself. What a pathetic song. Starry, Starry Night is the name of one of his paintings and all the different lyrics brilliantly written song, it is a brilliantly written song, but the words seem so tragic to me and I thought what a waste of a beautiful melody. So I wrote other words to it. I put Christian words to it. I’ve played it here once and I played it for an Amazing Facts thing. I’m not going to do it now. No, well, another day. No, there’s more ahead. It’s possible to have music that maybe the world has written that is beautiful music. There’s nothing wrong with the music, but the words! Frank Sinatra sang some beautiful songs. The melodies were great, but the lyrics were “I did it MY way…” very selfish, right? When you think about it.

Along with that in some of the contemporary Christian music how many of you… Let me give you an example. How many of you have ever been, show of hands, get an audience shot, I want you to participate, confess, have you ever walked into a 7-11 before? Raise your hands. Okay. That’s what I wanted. Now, those of you who do the weekly shopping for your groceries, how many of you do that at 7-11? You almost raised your hand. You’d better not. Some of you maybe Bel Air, Raleys, Safeway, Albertsons, Ralphs, right? What’s the difference? Can you get groceries at 7-11? Yeah, but you’re going to pay a lot for them.

Typically 7-11 majors in minors and that’s their marketing plan. That’s what they plan on doing. They sell a lot of soda, a lot of candy and chips and cookies and just the kind of the sweets and the fast foods and yes, if you had to, you could survive on what you get at 7-11. You’ve all run in there before and you’ve indulged in some of their trivial groceries. But if your spouse is doing the weekly shopping at 7-11 you’re not eating right. Would you agree with me? Do you all agree? Okay. There are a lot of contemporary Christian songs that are called 7-11 songs because you sing seven words eleven times. There’s nothing wrong with some of the things you might get at 7-11. You can get orange juice at 7-11. Nothing wrong with orange juice. You’re going to pay for it more at 7-11 than you’re going to pay for it at Safeway or Bel Air or some of these other stores I hope. Because they sell things at 7-11 they’ve got to squeeze a whole lot of little things in a little space so they sell little portions, high price. A lot of the contemporary songs are sort of that way.

The deep theology we talked about last week, matter of fact, the Catholic Church was very threatened by Luther and they said he’s spreading Lutherism through his music. The theology was being spread through the music. The songs had so much theology in them that people were remembering the principals of truth through the songs because they were deep. Let’s face it, old songs had five, six verses and now we’ve been so programmed by contemporary praise songs we say we’re going to sing one verse, and I’m part of this too. We do it at prayer meeting because you have to admit you can sing more songs if you sing fewer verses and you’ve got a limited song service time, right? I’m not condemning you. I just want you to understand there was deep theology.

I’ve got some songs, I’m really going out on a limb here, but they’re sort of typical of a lot of the… Keith Greene wrote a song “Oh, Lord, You’re Beautiful,” Oh, Lord, you’re beautiful. Your face is all I seek. How many of you know that song? I love that song. Nice song, praise song, 7-11. “Your face is all I seek and when Your eyes are on this child Your grace abounds to me. Oh, Lord, please light the fire that once burned bright and clear. Replace the lamp of my first love that’s fueled with holy fear.” That’s a pretty song. Just not much in it. It’s kind of like a feel-good song. A lot of the praise songs, they’re nice and they’re good, they’ve got sweet messages, but you can’t live on them. You see what I mean? The nutrition if this is… it’s 7-11. I sing it. I’m not condemning the song. You all hear where I’m coming from? What I’m saying is, if our church services are full of 7-11 songs, that’s not how you get your groceries. These songs might belong, maybe one or two, but you better have some deep theology.

“Open Our Eyes” I like this song. The reason I’ve got it here is because I’ve got it in my songbook. I’ve got Doug’s songbook on my piano with songs I like with the guitar chords. I like the song. Does everyone understand? I’m not condemning the song. “Open our eyes, Lord. We want to see Jesus, to reach out and touch Him and say that we love Him. Open our ears, Lord, and help us to listen. Open our eyes, Lord. We want to see Jesus.” It’s a good song. David Jeremiah uses this as his opening song on his radio program. That’s because it’s short enough where you can sing the whole song and still have room for your radio program. It’s a 7-11 song. It’s sweet, short, but…

“In moments like these I sing out a song…” We don’t know what it says, but “I sing out a song to Jesus.” Do you like that song? Yeah, I do too. But it’s just telling me I sing, doesn’t say what I sing. Oh, wait, “singing, I love You, I love You.” 7-11 There’s another one here. “Breathe” that’s the name of the song. They couldn’t even get three words in it. Just one word for the title. “This is the air I breathe. This is the air…” I think Michael W. Smith wrote this. It’s a good song, just a praise song, but it’s… “You are a holy presence living in me. You are my daily bread, daily bread. Your word is spoken in me, and I-I-I-I-I am desperate for You.” That’s what it says. They’ve got “I-I-I-I-I am lost without You.” That’s the song. Now I wanted to illustrate this. I like these songs. I listen to them. I’ve got this one on my PDA and when I’m on the airplane I’ll listen to it.

But when you’re in church and we are teaching a message I think the church is in trouble when we cease to write songs that encapsulate the profound truths. We need to go to the grocery store more, and it’s happening less and less. And what’s happening is because a church’s theological footings, foundation will be reflected in the depth of the songs that they sing, in their music, if we’re all shopping at 7-11 you’re going to have a church that is malnourished. This is the primary diet of a lot of the churches today so the depth of teaching is not there. The day is coming when we’re going to have to know how to give an answer for why we believe what we believe.

Songs are great because they help you remember the nuances of truth. You remember things when you sing them. The Song of Moses. You ever read the Song of Moses Deuteronomy 31? It’s a whole chapter! And he said, he taught them this song. David before he died he taught the people this song, a whole chapter. Ever sing Psalm 119? You’d need music to remember all of that. There are a lot of verses. Do you understand? When you look at some of these, and there are some short ones in the Bible and there are some long ones, but the point was we need to have more depth in our music because I think the devil is trying to starve the church by mal-nourishing them with 7-11 songs.

Now different kinds of music have the right time and the right place. Even sacred music, not everything is the right time and the right place. I just gave you a couple of examples of that. Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…” In First Testimonies 497 E. G. White said, “Music when not abused is a great blessing, but when it is put to a wrong use it is a terrible curse.” There is the right time and the right place for different kinds of music. I remember hearing a pastor. We talked about some of the secular music that was put with Christian words. Pastor was honoring the Dorcas ladies in his church before their church service. Most of them were fifty, sixty-something, and as they came forward to get their honors he had the pianist play something “I’m in the Lord’s Army”.

Now how many of you know that song? “I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery…” All of you Cradle Roll teachers, you all know that song, right? Well, the pastor had not spent enough time in Cradle Roll, and he was wondering why the pianist was playing “The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be…” because that’s the same song. So sometimes you get the crossover there and it creates a little bit of confusion. If a person knows, we say, well I realize this was a song in the world, but I’m going to put Christian words to it. Sometimes you can’t do that because the words of the world have that song is tagged and it doesn’t matter how good the music is, somebody in the world made an association that everybody makes. I was talking to my son on the way to church this morning about how certain things have been labeled and when we went to Japan we saw swastikas in some of their ancient design. I’m sure when they put those up on their ancient art there it didn’t mean what it means today, but now when you see a swastika, it was just a geometric sign until Hitler got a hold of it. You don’t want to look at a swastika. You cringe now, right, because of the association. So sometimes when we take good music that has secular words to it, you just can’t get away from the original words.

There is a time and a place for everything. The Bible says in Psalm 100:1 “Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!” Is there a time to shout? Obviously. It’s in the Bible. Is that during church? I think that we need to be very careful. Have you seen a lot of churches that their service is turned into a virtual hootenanny where the folks are literally running up and down the isles and it is absolute chaos and bedlam and folks are shouting and dancing and I’ll get to that in just a minute. Well, when is the time to shout? When they would come back from victory in battle, there’d be a shout. When we have a wedding, after you introduce the bride and the groom, it is a time to rejoice and applaud and say, “Praise the Lord! They’ve made their decision!” and to celebrate. That’s a time to let out an exuberant call. There’s a time for that. Sometimes when people get baptized we all say, “Amen!” because there has been a victory gained. So timing and place is everything when it comes to music and the right kind of music in the right place.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this, but I thought I should mention instruments in the church. Different kinds of instruments kind of say something different. I remember one time getting an invitation to preach in a Church of Christ in Texas. Now are some of you acquainted with the traditional Church of Christ? They don’t have any instruments in their church because they take the verse in the New Testament where it says “making melody in our hearts” and they say we’re not supposed to use instruments. Just with our voices, with our hearts. Show of hands, anyone heard of this before? Yeah, there are churches besides the Church of Christ. Some branches of the Church of Christ have gotten over that. That’s not biblical. Not only do you find instruments in the New Testament with the harps in heaven, but you find plenty of instruments in the Old Testament in the church, in the house of the Lord. I’m going to give you a few examples. Isaiah 38:20 “The Lord was ready to save me; therefore we will sing my songs with stringed instruments all the days of our life, in the house of the Lord.”

Is that clear? Sing, instruments, in the house of the Lord. It’s not a sin. I Chronicles 25:6 & 7 “All these were under the direction of their father for the music in the house of the Lord, with cymbals…” Now cymbals were not the cymbals on the trap set of the drum. Cymbals were the big ones you see in an orchestra where they rub them together and it goes shoom. It was different than you might typically be thinking. “…with cymbals, stringed instruments, and harps, for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun…” and it goes on, it says, “all who were skillful, was two hundred and eighty-eight.” What’s half of 288? A hundred and forty-four. Isn’t that interesting? When you get to the hundred and forty-four who are going to be in the house of the Lord. Two hundred and eighty-eight and it says they were skillful.

Which is one reason unless I’m illustrating something, you don’t see Pastor Doug doing too much special music. It says those who do play for the Lord, obviously you’re praising God should be as skillfully as we can, right? II Chronicles 5:13 & 14 “indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying: ‘For He is good, for His mercy endures forever,’ that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud,” the Shekhinah glory of God entered in when they were singing and praising with instruments in the house of the Lord. So the priests could not even go in because the presence of God was so powerful, filled the house of the Lord.

Is it clear to you from the Bible that there is no sin in having instruments in the church? In case anyone had any doubts about that. Don’t miss this. How did they play them? Skillfully and it says they were as one to make one sound. Many of them, one sound. The challenge for a choir leader with a good choir or even an orchestra, and there might be a place for that in the church, is to have harmony and unity because when people aren’t singing together… You know one of the tough things for a choir leader is when he’s teaching Handel’s Messiah and the people saying, “Wonderful! Counselor! The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace…” to get the whole choir (No one has ever asked me to be in a choir. I don’t know why.) to get the whole choir to sing those staccato notes at the same time so it sounds like one voice because the timing is very unique in that. But when they get it right, that’s why people stand when they hear the Messiah because when it’s done right it’s inspiring and the place is filled with the glory of God and they’re doing the Hallelujah Chorus. But if everyone is making a different sound and there’s on distinction in the sound they’re not singing with one voice. There should be a harmony. You might have people singing different parts of a song, but there’s a unity. That’s what it means with one voice in the way that they sang. Nothing wrong with having instruments in the church.

Now music creates different moods. We talked a little bit about the power of music and I might be backtracking some. That’s why I do part two so if I forget something I can come back. I have that right. Music creates different moods. There’s a power there. For instance if you are put on hold, how many of you have gotten through an automated dialing system and you’ve been put on hold and you’re listening to music? Does it bother you because you’ve got places to go and people to see and things to do and you’re waiting to get picked up? Generally the kind of music you listen to, they call it elevator music. Because while you’re in the elevator or waiting for the elevator they want to soothe you. Some music is called soothing music and while you’re listening to that elevator music they’re hoping to try and keep you calm.

I’ve often thought probably the worst thing you could play when a person is waiting for the elevator would be Gershwin’s composition. I don’t even know what it’s called, but it sounds like traffic. You know which song I’m talking about? It just makes you, hoo ah, but it’s made and they use that to score movies where things are happening fast because it’s not soothing. Different kinds of music sooth and calm and some kind of music gets you all worked up into a frenzy and this is true anywhere in the world. Supermarket music. You know when you’re in the market, and now you know what I just discovered at the Albertsons I sometimes shop at? Not only was it enough that I had to listen to the music of their choosing, now when you’re waiting in line they’ve got TV monitors that are doing constant commercials at every isle. Some of you have seen these now?

Your senses are being bombarded all of the time. You’ve got to put a bag over your head and plug your ears if you want to just go to the market without hearing the music of the world. But the music that they play is very, very carefully chosen. They pay consultants thousands of dollars to pick that music. You know what that music in the mall and the supermarket is supposed to do for you? It’s supposed to give you a sense of freedom, carefree so that you feel relaxed and you want to spend. Yeah, and so a lot of you have gone to the mall and you just thought you were window shopping and you come home with this stuff and you think, “How did this happen?” It might have been the music. Different kinds of music affect us all. Our family was in TV and I’ve seen how movies are put together. Sometimes you’ll see a movie before they add the music in.

You think, this is the most boring thing. Until they add the sound effects it just doesn’t make any sense at all, but then they score it. They can take something that is totally boring and dry and it becomes very powerful and effective because the music is put in the right place. When there is something happening on a TV program or a movie that is supposed to create suspense, you’ve got like the…. You wouldn’t be playing Mozart. You know what I mean? It just doesn’t match. Music creates moods. It prepares us to do different things. Some restaurants I won’t go to. I love their food, but the music they play is so annoying that you can’t have a quiet conversation. Anyone else out there? There are some places I’ve gone before and I’ve thought, I just can’t go back there again because… One of my great regrets is my father and I had lunch together alone and he wanted to go to the Hard Rock Café and he got what he wanted, but my dad also wore hearing aids. I tried to talk to him; it was absolutely boring and frustrating because we just sat there and I’d say something, he’d go. I had this quality time with Dad, but he couldn’t hear me because of the stupid music in the restaurant. Pardon me, I didn’t mean to be crude, but that’s how I felt about it.

Now some music is happy music and there’s nothing wrong with happy music. Let me give you a couple of examples. Oh, wait, one more thing. Sports events. Is there music at sports events? And when one time in the last twelve years I went to a basketball game. I am sorry to admit that. I’m fessing up. I’m human. Someone gave me free tickets and I thought, I’ll go. So I went to the basketball game. It was so loud and then they had this dance routine at halftime and I thought no Christian should be there in my opinion. And when one team is driving to get a basket is it Beethoven or is it very aggressive heavy music that’s supposed to make you fight, fight, fight! It builds everyone up into a crescendo and then they’ve got one music when they get the ball for offence and then they’ve got another music for defense because they realize that music is that powerful that it even affects those areas.

There’s music that can be light and happy. You read in Job 21:12, “They sing to the tambourine and harp, and rejoice to the sound of the flute.” Jesus talks about this too. Matthew 11:17 talks about the people, it says, “We played the flute for you, And you did not dance…” because the flute was often associated with happiness and dancing. Okay, I’m going to illustrate something else here. I want you to know this is the same flute I had in the cave. After I graduated from the recorder the next year my brother said, “What do you want?” I said, “Well, I want a flute.” So Dad gave me a flute. I’ve still got my Yamaha flute I had up in the cave. Isn’t that amazing? I’ve had the pads replaced several times. Pastor Doug plays “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” on the flute. Is that a happy sound? You usually don’t say, “Get the flute and let’s play a dirge.” But you can play a sad song on the flute. Pastor Doug plays… Isn’t that sad? You would not normally play a sad song on a flute. I want to ask you, how many of you would agree… well, I won’t tell you.

What do you think of if you think of an instrument that would make you sad? Would a song like that have more pathos like on a violin? An instrument that resonates. Different instruments create different moods. Now the reason I wanted to make this point is because I’m leading into something that is controversial. If a flute can be bright and if a harmonica or a violin can make you cry… I remember we had an AFCOE graduation and during the AFCOE graduation a brother and sister team played a song that I later learned is called “Ashokan Farewell” no words, just melody. I started, I had no idea what the message was, just the sound of the piano and the violin, my eyes welled up with tears the music was so touching but it was sad, very sad.

Then there’s music that can make you so happy that you just can’t stand still. Right? It has an affect on you. Music affects us physically. I threw in a picture here. Somebody put some headphones on a monkey and they were able to evoke a physical response from the monkey because... and we’re part animal too. We’ve got rhythms in our body and certain sounds and certain rhythms can make you either agitate or rejoice or soothe. Music creates moods and it’s very powerful. Martin Luther said, “After theology I give the highest place to music,” the greatest honor to music.

Now before I take this too far, I want to talk about cultural music. Sometimes people might say, “Well, Doug, these things might be true in our culture, but they’re not true in other cultures.” That is not true. The principals that I’m sharing with you, and I’m making it a point to stick with the principals, are true across the board. The effect and the mood of music in every culture of the world that I’ve been to are the same. They may use different instruments; they may have some different rhythms. There are different parts of the world where I appreciate their music differently, but he principals are the same. When we were just in China part of the tour that we took they took us to see some Chinese acrobats. They were doing some very difficult things. I mean they’re twirling and juggling and riding on a bike and these contortion things.

The music they played had words and some Chinese lady was singing this song, but it was a suspenseful song because they wanted to create suspense and I had no idea what the words of the song were, but I understood the music. It was the same circus kind of music you would play here in North America to create that sense of suspense. Look what they’re doing! Are they going to make it? They’re juggling on a unicycle or whatever it is. Same thing was in China. And then we heard some very sad music. At one point when I was in one of these countries that will remain nameless someone picked us up and they popped a CD in. Because we couldn’t communicate the driver popped a CD in, and he was playing this outrageous music and the translator was telling us this is a Christian song. I couldn’t tell. They were having the same problems in their church there that I guess evidently we’re having here. Does it matter if you are in India when a mother is putting her baby to sleep and singing a lullaby do they wail and beat on the drums? No, they have some music where they wail and beat on the drums, but not when they’re putting their baby to sleep. A lullaby in every part of the world is a lullaby; it’s soft and it’s sweet, right?

Romantic music, and you know there is some music that we would call romantic music. If I’m going to have a romantic dinner with Karen. It’s just she and I and I set the table and I have cooked (I am using my imagination here because I don’t do that) I’m not going to play that song from the Music Man “Seventy-six Trombones in the Parade”. Here, dear, let me set the mood. Anywhere in the world that would not be considered romantic. So some people say, “Well, rock music in our culture is our culture. This is our cultural Christian music.” The principals are the same in every part of the world. Amen? And let me read this to you, Psalm 67:4, “Oh, let the nations be glad” all the nations “and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, And govern the nations on earth.” All the nations, the physical, emotional, spiritual effects of music, the principals apply all over the planet. I’ve seen a lot of it. I know.

Oh, I’m wondering if I have time to talk about drums and dancing now. I’m going to go ahead. I’m looking at the clock. I’m not worried about your time as much as mine. Sorry. Sorry. If I had more time on the clock I’d keep going. I might have to do two sermons right now.

Sometimes I think it’s easier for us to relate to sensual music than spiritual music because we have a battle going on between the spirit and the flesh. Let me read a quote to you from Second Selected Messages page 36. Ellen White is speaking of things that were happening in a church in Indiana. She said, “The Lord has shown me that just before the close of probation every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting with drums, music with dancing, the senses of rational beings will become so confused they cannot be trusted to make right decisions and this will be called the working of the Holy Spirit.” Has that prophecy come true? Oh, a hundred times over, probably more than she even imagined. She specifically talks about drums and dancing. There are churches in town that do that. Now, Doug, what about Psalm 150?

It talks about praising the Lord in His sanctuary with the cymbals. Let me read that to you. Psalms 150:1-6 this is the last of the Psalms if you want to find that. “Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary…” See, Doug? It’s in the sanctuary, they say. “Praise Him in His mighty firmament! Praise Him” in verse four, “with the timbrel and dance…” You’re supposed to dance in the sanctuary, they say. “Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals…” in the sanctuary, clashing cymbals. We’re supposed to have dancing and clashing cymbals in the church! And this one Psalm is often the battle cry of these churches that defend this. It is a total misinterpretation, misapplication of the Psalm. In the prayer of Jonah he directs his prayer from the belly of a whale to the throne of God and the house of God.

He is not in the house of God; he is in the belly of a whale, but he is praying to God in His sanctuary. This Psalm is among the victory Psalms that you find in the Bible. On their way back from a battle back home they praised this song of victory and they sing and they direct it to God in His sanctuary. They’re not in the sanctuary. They’re on the road, and they’re praising Him with the loud cymbals and they’re dancing. You always see them dancing on the road in the Bible. David danced on the road as they brought the ark.

Now I talked about percussion a little bit, but let’s talk about dancing. Stay with me. Is there a time for a Christian to dance? Yeah, it’s in the Bible. I am for anything in the Bible biblically. Do it biblically. Look at the different kinds of dancing in the Bible. Most of the time the dancing you see is the women dancing with women not men. They’re not sexually suggestive dances. The women are dancing and they’re hitting tambourines and they’re usually songs of victory in battle. Miriam leads the women to praise the Lord because the horse and rider is thrown in the sea after their victory over the Egyptians.

It is a simple dance where they clap their hands, they bang their tambourines, they’re praising God, they’re usually out of doors when they’re doing it. David and Saul come back from battle, victory over the Philistines and the girls come out and they sing and they dance and of course it really bothered Saul because their song is, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands,” and that really made him jealous. But they were singing and dancing a victory dance. You’ve got the daughter of Jephtha. She comes out to meet her father when he’s come back victorious over the Moabites singing and praising and dancing, twirling by herself. A victory dance. That’s most of those kinds of dances you see. Praising him with a dance in Psalm 150 they’re coming back from battle, they’re making a loud, boisterous noise of praise to God in His sanctuary.

They’re not in the sanctuary doing that. It is a total misapplication of that Psalm. Now if you are praising God for victory you might jump and leap. I’ve done that before. I’ve read the Bible before where I was so excited I couldn’t stand still. I just had to get up. David was that way when he led the ark. That kind of dance, there’s nothing wrong with that. But the kind of dance that Salome did for Herod, he said, “Dance for me. I’ll give you up to half my kingdom.” That’s the kind of dancing that men go to these juice bars in town when they don’t think their wives know about it. It is a very provocative sexually suggestive dance. Most of the dancing in North America is men dancing with women. The music is a very sensual music. Some of it you can even hear in churches today, but the music is a very sensual music, and what instrument do you think of when you think of sensual? Saxophone, some people call it the sex-ophone. That doesn’t mean the saxophone is all bad.

I remember Pastor Kanoke said he had a converted saxophone because he was a saxophone player and then he became a Christian and he learned to play Christian songs. But it’s got that deep, resonating sound and you do that with some of these… You know that Noxema commercial any of you remember back in the days of Noxema? It’s like a stripper song, and they’d be “take it off”. Very sexually suggestive. It was, I’m doing things I normally wouldn’t do in church to teach. Will you forgive me? But you get the point. It was very provocative. That’s the kind of dancing that Salome did for Herod and John the Baptist died. That’s not the kind of dancing that Christians should be involved in.

Drums. Rhythm. Is rhythm bad? All music has got rhythm. When you sing shall we gather at the river? There’s rhythm in there. Matter of fact, have you ever sat next to somebody in the pew and they’re singing and they don’t have rhythm? It’s kind of annoying, right? When you’re going, you’re missing it. Sometimes we have a song leader up here. Why? Because sometimes they can visually help you get the rhythm of what it is because if you can’t hear it, maybe you can see it. Some of us ought to bring a little metronome with us and put in an earplug so we can set the rhythm for the song. So there’s nothing wrong with rhythm. Your body has a regular rhythm in it. The rhythm is to be an accent to help you with your timing. When the dominant part of the music is the rhythm, that gets to be pretty dangerous.

Now I’ve got a couple more important things to say and I see that I’m running out of time here. Will you bear with me a little bit? We may have to cut this message. This is just very important and I don’t want to lose my momentum here. If you go home for dinner and you take your beans out of the oven and you taste them and you say, “You know I forgot to add salt.” You would not say, 50% beans, 50% salt. That wouldn’t be the appropriate combination, right? You would want a little sprinkling of the salt to bring out the flavor of the beans. That is the role of percussion or instruments in music. It should be very subtle.

As long as I’m pastor here, we’re not going to bring drums into the church if I have any voice. If you do without me, which you have the power to do, I’ll be going somewhere else because often what happens is that opens the door to where it becomes the dominant theme and instead of the words being the prominent part of the music… We don’t’ even know what David’s music was for a hundred and fifty psalms. We have the words. We’ve got the message. The music was to accent the message; it was to frame the message. The rhythm was to frame the music. It was to have a very small, subtle part, but let’s face it, in the popular contemporary, generally in the contemporary music and a lot of the Christian music and certainly in the Christian rock what is the dominant theme in the music? Thump, thump, isn’t that right? And they’re not the rhythms that appeal to the extremities like a march tune. They’re the beats that appeal to the torso as in the sexually suggestive rhythms. There are different rhythms that appeal to different parts of the body. And so much of the popular (not all of it) there are some really good new songs. We need to sing new songs. In the Bible many times it says “Sing a new song unto the Lord.”

Turn with me in your Bibles. I want to cover this. War in the camp. Exodus 32:17-18 Moses is coming down with the Ten Commandments. The people said all the Lord has said we will do, but they got tired of waiting for Moses and so they made a golden calf. You want the music to match what you’re worshipping. So as they’re coming down Joshua evidently was partly up the hill. He wasn’t in the camp waiting for Moses and it says, “when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted” they’re shouting in their worship, aren’t they? “he said to Moses, ‘There is a noise of war in the camp.’” But Moses said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.” What that tells you is just before Moses came down the mountain, God’s people who got tired of waiting for his return, they said, “Our lord delays his coming.” They began to worship like the pagans and they could not distinguish between their worship whether it was the sound of war in the camp or worship.

Could that be said of some church services today? You can’t tell if it’s war or worship. There’s a bedlam of noise. It’s a cacophony of confusion, and it’s being called worship. Some people think because it makes me feel good, I’m praising God! It has nothing to do with glorifying God; it has to do with you being satisfied sensually. Let’s face it, some people are addicted to their music. Because of what it does for them emotionally and mentally and physically it is a very powerful thing. It could be powerful for good and it could be powerful for evil. What was it that Nebuchadnezzar had happen before everybody was to bow to the golden image? Music. Best musicians in the kingdom. All kinds of instruments all played and it was to prepare them to worship this god. That’s the role of music in prophecy. Music has something to do with prophecy too. What do you think the devil is going to use in the last days to prepare God’s people. Many of the elect will almost be deceived. He is going to attempt to prepare God’s people to worship the beast by getting to them through their music among other things. Do you see how important this is? If we don’t understand that there is to be a distinction.

Let me tell you a story real quick in closing. When I was sixteen years old I went to a school on a sailboat. Sailed around the Mediterranean, sailed around the world, but the year I was there it sailed around the Mediterranean. Some of you have read this in the book. What I haven’t told you is the reason that we sailed where we sailed is the school and the teachers were trying to get us to relive the story written by Homer about Ulysses, one of the oldest stories in the world called The Iliad and the Odyssey, the adventures of Ulysses there in the Mediterranean. And I remember reading about Ulysses.

He heard about these sirens (it’s where we get the modern word siren). They were these beautiful women that were birdlike creatures. They had wings and beautiful faces and they were on this island surrounded by dangerous rocks near Naples and the siren’s music was so enchanting and hypnotic that if you heard it, it would draw the sailors in and their ships would wreck on the rocks, and I don’t know the sirens would eat them or something, but they would be destroyed because they would be drawn in by this enchanting music. Well, Ulysses wanted to hear, but he didn’t want the ship to wreck so what he did is he commanded his sailors to plug their ears with wax and to wrap their heads so they would not be influenced by the music of the sirens. He had them pass by the island, and he said, “Tie me to the mast because I know…” and he said, “Don’t listen to anything I say no matter how I plead.” And as they neared the island he heard the music of the sirens and he’s begging them, “Untie me! Just untie me! You’ve got to hear this!

It’s wonderful!” And they ignored him. They were safe because they wouldn’t listen to him. Some of us have the music of the sirens in our house, and we are spiritually headed for shipwreck. Some of us think, “Well, Doug, I’ve got these expensive records and they’re worth a lot of money. I’ve got them in my closet.” Well, if it’s dangerous you ought to throw it out. The reason you’re hanging on to it is you plan on listening to it again someday. If you think it’s dangerous for your soul and that’s why it’s in your garage or in your closet then you sell it to somebody else, it’s dangerous for their soul. It’s like a friend of mine, he said, “When I gave up pot I sold it to somebody. It was good stuff! Couldn’t just throw it away.” Some of us are being captured by the music of the sirens and the devil is luring us onto the rocks, and we need to ask the Lord to steer our ship away.

There’s another story from Greek Mythology about Jason and the Argonauts. When they neared the islands where the sirens lived there was someone on the ship, it was Orpheus, his voice was so beautiful that when Orpheus would sing it would completely eclipse the singing of the sirens and so they were able to go by the islands where the sirens were because they were listening to the music that was better. Sometimes I’ll walk out of the supermarket and they’ve been playing some old Beetles song and I’m so angry because I’ve still got all of that in my head, don’t you? You’ve got all those old songs.

I walk out to the car and I’m going We all live in a yellow sub… I’m going, Ah! I didn’t want to do this! So how do you get over that? You overcome evil with good, Paul said. You start singing something good. One of our problems is some of the good music sounds like the old music. Some of you know that song, “Shine Jesus Shine.” Shine, Jesus, shine… How many of you know that song? You know what I think of now when I hear that? Sweet Caroline… That’s because some of these contemporary songs aren’t very different from some of the old rock songs, are they? Now some of you are mad at me because I was picking on “Shine Jesus Shine” huh?

So the secret is we need to overcome evil with good. These are very important themes in the last days, friends. The devil is going to use music, and we need to pray that God will help us to have victory in our lives with not only what we watch and where we go but what we listen to. If you’re weak then you need to pray the Lord will tie you to the mast. Throw that stuff out. Some of you might want to go home and say a prayer and make your garbage can an altar and throw out some stuff that you know. Some of you may not have realized it, but you’re inviting demons into your life because you won’t let go of certain music that you find addictive and it takes supernatural strength to steer away from the islands of the sirens. We need to get victory in this area. Next to speech alone, music is very powerful.

You know what I thought would be good? I thought it would be good to close by overcoming evil with good and singing a happy song that talks about the power of music and what Jesus has done to set us free. How many of you remember this song? You’ve got the music I think or the lyrics in your bulletin. “Within my heart there rings a melody.” Do any of you remember that? Let me see your hands. Let’s stand together and sing it. Esmie was real happy we’re going to do this because it is a good song.

Esmie: Yes, this is a song I remember singing when I was a little girl. This is just wonderful. Any of you know the little bits you put in there, the ding dongs, go ahead and do it. That’s alright, right, Pastor Doug? Okay it’s a toe tapping song so I’m watching.

I have a song that Jesus gave me, It was sent from heaven above; There never was a sweeter melody, 'Tis a melody of love. In my heart there rings a melody, There rings a melody with heaven's harmony; In my heart there rings a melody; There rings a melody of love!

I love the Christ who died on Calv'ry, For He washed my sins away; He put within my heart a melody, And I know it's there to stay. In my heart there rings a melody, There rings a melody with heaven's harmony; In my heart there rings a melody; There rings a melody of love!

'Twill be my endless theme in glory, With the angels I will sing; 'Twill be a song with glorious harmony, When the courts of heaven ring. In my heart there rings a melody, There rings a melody with heaven's harmony; In my heart there rings a melody; There rings a melody of love! There rings a melody of love! Amen!

Amen! I deliberately picked that song because I did not want you to think, “Oh, Pastor Doug must be saying we need to sing dirges.” The Christian life is a happy life and there’s so much in the Bible about the Psalms saying sing the praises to the Lord, joyful songs. I don’t want you to think that the Christian music is to be unhappy music. It is to be happy music. It’s music of rejoicing but there’s a distinction, amen, between that which glorifies God, that which is devilish and sensual. Don’t forget, don’t mix up the songs of profound truth with the 7-11 songs. Get your groceries at the supermarket not at 7-11, amen? We still need songs that have depth. Let’s pray.

Father in heaven, Lord, we’ve talked about some difficult subjects, but we pray that we can see the clear principals from Your word. Some of us, Lord, we need victory in the area of the kind of music that we listen to. All of us have a carnal side that’s attracted to the wrong kind of music and it’s easy for us to be self-deceived into thinking You like the same music we like. Lord, I pray that You’ll help us to see and to hear with Your ears what You really want us to listen to. Lord, some of us are struggling like Ulysses in the ancient fable and we just are addicted to the music of the sirens and the music of the world and we really need a victory in this area. Those that may have some music in their homes that is dragging them down and maybe even inviting evil influences, help break us free, Lord. Help us to steer away from those islands and to be able to throw away that music that is dragging us down. I pray that all that we say and do and all that we listen to will bring glory to You. Please, Lord, sanctify us in our homes, in our music, and I pray that we can be a witness and remember that through the power of music chains can be broken, victories can be gained and people can be liberated. Bless us to understand this very important truth we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

You may be seated. Don’t forget the church picnic tomorrow.

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