Remembering My Creator
Volume 1, Number 10
In This Issue:
- “Thoughts to Consider” By Jordan Shouse
- “The Power That Your Choice of Music Has Over Your Life” by Randy Sexton
Thoughts to Consider
By Jordan Shouse
I ask you to consider the thoughts I present in this article. While on the subject of music we may encourage each other not to listen to vulgar, profane, and negative music, realizing the impact they hold on one another, I’d like to look at the other extreme.
There are many who listen to Christian music. Perhaps you do. When I use the term “Christian music” in this article, I am and will be referring to hymns and songs about God used with instruments. Some label such music as Christian rock, or Gospel. Such music is gaining popularity. Just take a trip to a religious book store and you’ll see all sorts of genres within the Christian music field. There’s country and rap, rock and alternative; many different artists and albums to listen to. You may be wondering, “What’s the big deal?” I did once. In fact, I use to listen to only listen to Christian music. The argument I made, which others have made, is that it is such positive music which is focused on God. When listening to the music it helps me think more about God and think positive thoughts. That sounds like wholesome and harmless, right?
Consider with me some thoughts. In the New Testament there is silence about the command, example or even logical conclusion that the Christians used instruments in their worship. Historian’s support that mechanical instruments were not added until centuries after the church began. In the New Testament, the command we find for music within the Church is singing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). This is the pattern we follow.
When it comes to listening to music on our own, and choosing to listen to Christian music, there are some questions we should ask. “When can God’s name be used in a song and it not either be praise or blasphemous?” We know God’s name is holy (Ps. 105:1-3). Can we use His name in a song without using it casually, and it not be praise? I don’t believe so. It’s either one or the other. “Does it matter where I am or who I am with to worship God?” We know this answer is no. Jesus told the woman by the well in John 4 that there will come a time (and it has) when worship will not be confined to a place such as Jerusalem. David worshipped God alone. Abraham and Isaac worshipped God by themselves on the mountain. We can worship God in a car, by ourselves, in our homes, with a few friends, this can be done. Now there is a pattern to follow. We are to come together with our brothers and sisters on the first day of the week to worship, for the collection, for the Lord’s Supper. But it doesn’t mean that me singing in the car along with a Christian music CD is not worship or praise to God.
If then, we are not to worship God with instruments when we are all together, why is it ok when we are alone? Does God’s pattern for worship change for how many are worshipping, or where one worships? No. If it is wrong to worship with instruments in the assembly, it is equally wrong to worship with instruments alone, whether if I’m playing them, or singing along with a CD.
Some may say, “But its praise to the Lord. How could He not like this? It’s not for us, it is all for Him. Surely He enjoys and accepts this praise?” King Saul made a similar argument in 1 Samuel 15 about some livestock they saved instead of killed. Saul was commanded to utterly destroy everything. Saul saved some animals and said it was to sacrifice to the Lord, it was for worship. Samuel responded with a phrase worth repeating: “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…” 1 Sam. 15:22. It is better to obey God, to follow, obey, and worship God the way He commands, than to do as we wish and label it as worship. Just because we call something worship doesn’t mean God will accept it. Notice Matthew 7:21-23.
Though this music may be positive and help others reflect upon the Lord, the ends don’t justify the means. There are other ways of reaching this goal. There’s positive music out there which is not praising the Lord, there is also a-cappella hymns and songs, which are not only worshipping God, but following the NT pattern.
One more thought to think about: you may think, “I just listen to the music. It is not worship to me. I know the difference between right and wrong.” How are we to be consistent in our teaching to others when we are listening to this music? If we try and teach our family and friends about the NT and worship, they will notice we are being inconsistent. “You say it is wrong to worship with instruments in the assembly, but you listen to that very music all the time? What’s the difference” If we wish to be successful in our teaching, we must be consistent.
I encourage you to consider these words. They are brief and not well elaborated. I am open to discussing this further if you have any questions. I hope these words help in your studying and understanding of the Word and God’s will for you.
The Power That Your Choice of Music Has Over Your Life
By Randy Sexton
In an October 2010 article, titled “Reeling In the Years,” author Adam R. Holz described some of the chages that have taken place in pop music over the last several years. One thing, however, that has NOT changed, according to Holz, is the significant influence it has in the lives of young people. He says, “For all those changes, however, much remains the same when it comes to pop music’s focus … and its influence. The perennial themes of love and sex, pleasure and hedonism, as well as insecurity, broken hearts and alienation still dominate. More importantly, music is an increasingly significant influence in young people’s media-saturated lives.”
He goes on to site the findings of a Kaiser Family Foundation study, Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-year-olds,
“that young people today are consuming more music than ever: 2 hours, 31 minutes daily as of 2009, compared to 1 hour, 48 minutes in 1999. And the messages they internalize shape their lives in two significant areas: identity and behavior….. Perhaps more than any other entertainment medium, music invites young listeners to identify with artists whose lyrics provide an outlet for all that stuff roiling about inside. As they listen to and identify with the messages and values proffered by their favorite artists, it invariably affects the decisions they make and how they see the world…. researchers are documenting a link between what teens listen to and how they behave. In other words, lyrics matter. For example, a 2006 RAND Corporation study found that 12- to 17-year-olds who frequently listened to music with sexually degrading lyrics were almost twice as likely to engage in sexual activity within the ensuing two years as peers who rarely listened or completely refrained.
“Young people—and perhaps some of us who are older—may be tempted to buy the lie that music doesn’t influence our choices or how we see the world. But the evidence, be it scientific or anecdotal (including 20 years of letters to Plugged In ), suggests that music’s influence is indeed profound. That’s why we’ll keep putting popular lyrics under the microscope to help you and your family think carefully and critically about what musicians are saying to our children.”
One author suggests an exercise to teach young people how to listen discriminately to select appropriate songs. He says, “Once every few weeks, try playing a few top ten songs and put the lyrics on an overhead. Then discuss them. One good way to pick appropriate songs would be to take a survey of their favorite groups and select songs from the most popular ones. Use questions like:
- What is the writer’s perspective on life?
- What does this song say about the value of human existence?
- What does it say about love?
- Is the song appealing to you? Why?
- Is the song consistent with a life with God or outside of God?
- Do they mean what they sing about, or are they just trying to make money or be popular?
- Is the author searching for something?
- Is the song good or bad? True or False? Is it mixed? If so, where does it go wrong? How far can you agree with it?”
(“Using Secular Music in Youth Ministry” by John Fischer, on page 468 of Reaching a Generation for Christ by Richard R. Dunn and Mark H. Senter III)
Young people, I commend the words of both of these individuals for your prayerful consideration. Think about the influence that your selection of music has in your life. As you strive to be an example to others in your speech, conduct, love, faith and purity (1st Timothy 4:12), think critically about your culture. As Mr. Fischer says, “Our role in society is not to reject culture or run away from it or judge it without compassion, but to be transformed by God’s Word in the way we think and act toward it.”
Thanks for reading with me young friends. Have a blessed day!
— Randy Sexton