“I Don’t Like That Contemporary Music!”

Music stirs the soul.  God created music for that purpose.  It will either stir your soul toward spiritual things or toward fleshly things.  It will either draw you to God or away from Him.  Music will help you in your spiritual growth or greatly hinder you.  Music either brings honor and glory to God or it wholly dishonors God.

The type of music that is listened to and sung plays an important role in every person’s life.  It plays an even more important role in the believer’s life.  Therefore, the question that must be asked is, “Why type of music should be our standard?”

Someone made the comment to me the other day about not liking contemporary music.  One person even referred to contemporary music as “devil’s music”.  The irony behind the statement was that the contemporary song being played, at the time of that statement, was an old hymn redone by a contemporary artist.  I have heard counter comments just as often.  “I don’t like the hymns.”  “They hymns are boring and hard to understand.” And so on. 

Here is what I told the person who made the comment about “contemporary” music.  “Doesn’t it amaze you that at one point in time someone heard the song Amazing Grace and said, ‘I don’t like that new contemporary song!’”    You see, at one point in history Amazing Grace,  I’ll Fly Away,  The Old Rugged Cross, and all the other great hymns of our faith were new, contemporary songs. In fact, if you will do some research on the history of hymns you will find that when hymns first became popular there was great opposition to them.  The church sang the Psalms prior to singing hymns.  Does God live in the 16th Century?  Does God live in the 19th Century?  Or, does He live in the 21st Century?  Why do we think that God prefers one style of music over another?

 People have preferences.  I personally do not like the twangy, country Christian songs that remind me of something that could be played out of a juke box.  I just don’t like that style.  I am not crazy about bluegrass music either.  So when I hear a Christian song of that style I focus on the words.  I praise God through the words that are spoken.  I have known people who will sing a hymn that is unbiblical in doctrine just because it is in their songbook.  Likewise, people will sing praise and worship songs that are not biblical just because they like the style.  I don’t believe the style or type of music is as near as important as the message it portrays. 

The truth is that our preferences really don’t matter.  When it comes to music the only question is what God and His Word says.  Ephesians 5:19 gives some insight.  “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”   There are three types of music listed here- psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. 

 The psalms are the same Psalms we find in our Bible from God.  The early church would put the Psalms to music and sing them word for word.   I love singing the Psalms because it helps to hide His Word in my heart.  You cannot go wrong singing a song that is God’s own Word.

Hymns are songs that tell others about God.  Many of our hymns do just this.  “On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross…”  This tells a story about God.  Hymns teach doctrine.  Hymns strengthen our faith.  Hymns bless those around us.

Spiritual Songs are songs that are sung to God.  We would call them Praise and Worship songs.  “I love you Lord and I lift my voice to worship you, Oh my soul rejoice…..”  Spiritual songs strengthen our personal relationship with the Lord.

 So you see, we should be singing all types of songs. We should be singing songs from God, about God, and to God.   And they should be sung with a pure heart; “making melody in your heart to the Lord.”  God is always concerned with our heart.

 If Christian people would put aside their own preferences and focus on the truth, the issue of music would be null. God would be praised.  His name would be lifted up.  His truths would be sung.  His Word would be declared.  Brothers and sisters in the faith would be united in song.  And God would be worshipped in sprit and in truth.

 “Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.”  Psalm 47:6-7

Self-Esteem (Or is it Esteeming SELF)

The other day I was listening to the radio when the most beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace came on.  It was sung by a choir of children.  As their angelic voices rang, I paused from cleaning the kitchen.  I listened to them sing, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a child like me…”  Being that I have heard this song sung my entire life, this stood out because the original version of the song says, “that saved a wretch like me.”  As I asked myself why they changed the words, I already knew the answer.  We cannot have children calling themselves wretches; it might hurt their self-esteem. 

In an effort to build up children, some people have stopped keeping score during sports activities.  The reasoning is that if one team loses they will develop poor self-esteem.  Giving every child a trophy at the end of a sport’s season is along the same line of thinking.  I have heard of teachers who do not give F’s anymore to students.  They instead give U’s for unsatisfactory or I’s for incomplete.  We don’t want a child to know they failed.  When we placate to an already self-centered nature that is ingrained in all children, we foster in them a deeper selfish attitude.

There is a lot of talk in even Christian circles about self-esteem.  For example, Christian’s are terrified to point out sin in a brother’s life.  Even though the Bible clearly says that we are to admonish one another.  The justification for this is that we might hurt their feelings.  We might make them feel bad.  We might crush their self image.  But consider for a moment exactly what we are saying when our only concern is “self-esteem”.  We are saying that we should esteem self.  We must build people up in that we don’t damage their ego.   However, when we build up ego, we essentially Edge God Out.  In all of our concern with self has anyone stopped to consider how God feels in it all?

Can I suggest that this is the problem with our society?  We are too concerned with “self”.  For the last few generations people have not been taught correctly from the Word of God about the condition they are in prior to God’s grace.  In an attempt to build up self we have become blind to the truths of Scripture about the state of mankind.  “Well, we’re all just sinners”, many will say placing themselves in the same category as the rest of the world.  But let me submit that it was not until I stopped looking at everyone else, focused upon my own life, and fully came to grasp with what a wretch I was, that I could I fully understand God’s amazing grace.  Until I saw myself as filthy and undone could I accept the righteousness of Christ.  Until I truly saw myself as lost and without hope could I become saved with complete assurance.  Until I could cry out like the publican, “God be merciful to me a (the only one) sinner” or until I could say like Paul that I am the chiefest of all sinners did I truly understand my position before God.  Until I repented and turned from my sins could I be made right.  Until I realized that I was sick in sin could I be healed.  “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” Mark 2:17.

 My children are precious and as a parent I naturally want to build up their self-esteem.  But a building of self, while soothing to our sinful nature, is to their eternal detriment.  The best gift I can give them is to show them how they stand before a Holy and Just God.  It is when a child understands this and accepts God’s salvation then they have true worth, God’s grace is truly amazing, and their esteem is in Him alone!  “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man,” Psalm 118:8.