Make A Joyful Noise: What Makes True Worship Music Holy(set apart)?

Posted by iStone | Posted on 11:58 AM





PSALM 100
*[from the Geneva Bible]
A Psalm of Praise. Sing ye loud unto the LORD, all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before Him with joyfulness.
Know ye that even the LORD is God: He hath made us, and not we ourselves: 
we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with praise, and into His courts with rejoicing: praise Him and bless His Name.
For the LORD is good: His mercy is everlasting, and His Truth is from generation to generation.
Our Creator wants us to praise and worship Him. He created us. We are all created in His likeness. He loves us more than we can ever imagine. To be truthful, perhaps we cannot even imagine love. It is the most misused and abused word in the world (aside from "God" and "Jesus"), especially in the English language, but I digress. That is another blog. 
Our Creator loves us powerfully, loves us passionately, and loves each of us equally. Nothing that we do can cause Him to love us any more than He already does, or cause Him to love us any less than He already does. His love is the most powerful force in the universe. He loves us all just as we are. That is amazing! Because He loves us, He would like for us to return the favor. 
We may not feel worthy of His love. After all, we're so not perfect! How can One so perfect love me? I suck! I fail miserably, daily! Be that as it may, He loves me. He loves you! That's just how, and Who, He is. We need to show Him the love that is due His Name. 
Psalm 100 gives us very simple and clear instructions on what true worship and praise to our Creator looks and sounds like. The first thing the Psalm says is to "sing loud unto the LORD". He wants us to make some noise! In addition to singing loudly to the LORD, Psalm 100 says to "serve the LORD with gladness". That clearly states that our hearts need to be glad all the time, because serving Him is a 24/7 lifestyle. (Pollyanna was definitely onto something!)
Psalm 100 then tells us to "come before Him with joyfulness". That goes right along with being glad 24/7. Our LORD wants us to come before Him with hearts full of joy. It's not that He doesn't understand that we suffer trials, pain, and trouble. He does. When we praise Him, however, he wants us to come before Him rejoicing, simply because He is the One who saves us from those things. He alone is our source of joy. (The subject of "joy" would be another cool topic to cover in its own blog.)
We are reminded next in Psalm 100 that the LORD is God, that He created us, we didn't create us, and that we are His people-the sheep of His pasture. That is a call to humble ourselves before Him, knowing that we are nothing without Him, and, yes, we can rejoice and be glad while being humble before our LORD.  :)  See, He actually esteems us when we humble ourselves before Him! (Isaiah 66:1-2) How cool is that?!??!!
Psalm 100 then tells us to "Enter into His gates with praise, and into His courts with rejoicing", and to "praise Him and bless His Name." Yep! You see exactly what I see - the Psalm is repeating what it says at the beginning. Why? The reason is clear. The LORD wants us to remember that point. It is important to Him. 
Psalm 100 closes with a reminder of Who our LORD is, and why we need to always have hearts full of gladness and why He wants us to rejoice and be glad, singing loudly to Him: "For the LORD is good: His mercy is everlasting, and His Truth is from generation to generation." That's enough reason right there for me to do as He asks. It should be enough for us all.
*The Geneva Bible holds the honor of being the first Bible taken to America, and the Bible of the Puritans and Pilgrims. It is truly the "Bible of the Protestant Reformation."
Many people tend to cling to traditional hymns, believing that modern music used to praise and worship the LORD is not appropriate. While taking a "History of Music / Music Appreciation" class in college when I was in my 20s, I wrote a term paper on that very topic, comparing original Christian rocker Larry Norman and his music to traditional hymns as the subject of my report. In that term paper, I did not claim that one was better than the other, nor do I make any such claims today. As Psalm 100 states, it's the heart of the worshiper that makes true worship. Both traditional hymns and modern praise and worship music can be "joyful noise". It depends on the hearts of those singing.



In January 1975, Larry Norman wrote a well-researched article about the history of Christian music titled, "The Story of Solid Rock-1975"  
Here is that entire article:


THE STORY OF SOLID ROCK - 1975
Once...there was a tune and everyone knew how it went, but as time went by, people began to forget, until at last no one could remember.
("The Tune" - 1971 by Larry Norman)
From the discovery and development of music by Jubal (Genesis 4:21) and the psalms of David up until modern time, music has been used to worship, praise and proclaim the majesty of God. Today, most of us think of the hymns as holy songs - both the melody and the lyrics written as a direct inspiration from God. We think of the hymns as totally separate from secular music, but in reality, when many of the traditional hymns were first composed, they represented the sound of their day, just as "Jesus Rock" might represent the sound of today.
In 1524, then Martin Luther borrowed popular drinking song melodies and grafted Christian lyrics onto them, he outraged his spiritual colleagues and no doubt gave new ammunition to his critics; but today these same songs, such as "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" and "Away In A Manger" are considered among the Christian classics.

THE MODERN CONFLICT
A young boy complains to his father that most of the church hymns are boring to him because they are so far behind the times. His father becomes angry and states that "the hymns are good enough for your Grandfather and me, and they will serve you just as well". But the teenager says that not only are the tunes boring, but the words are meaningless ... the songs are just too old fashioned. Putting an end to the discussion, his father says to him, "Well, if you think you can write better hymns, then why don't you?" The son says that he will. He goes to his room and writes his first hymn.
The year was 1690, the teenager was Isaac Watts, and the hymn was "Behold the Glories of the Lamb". During the next few years he wrote other songs. "We're marching to Zion", "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross", and "Joy to the World" are among the almost 350 hymns he created. The lyrics were his own but sometimes the melodies were similar in origin to Luther's ... seized from the streets or from popular theatre.

THE ORGAN IS REPLACED BY DRUMS
A few centuries later, William Booth was moved to update the music of the church. Only, instead of writing all new songs, he removed the fabric of religious music by discarding the organ and the piano, and in their place putting trombones, trumpets, tambourines, drums (drums??!!!), tubas, piccolos, clarinets etc. and the took this menage a brass out into the streets. His marching Salvation Army Band disgusted and outraged many of the Christians in his day, but he was confident that Christian music should be taken where it was conspicuously absent ... to the people ... and played in a fashion that non-Christians could understand.
Music is a powerful and spiritually persuasive art form. The young shepherd boy David soothed the tormented mind of King Saul with his songs, and his lyrical psalms are still among the most poetically uplifting that we have. The music of the teenager Isaac Watts supported the large evangelistic thrust of his day. William Booth took his band out into the streets and reached thousands that had been overlooked by the religious community. His music and message helped harvest the soul of many a businessman as well as the skid row mendicants. And these are but a few examples from Christian church history.

CRITICS BE CAREFUL
The lesson is clear, or should be. Continually embracing the current musical forms to present the Christian message, religious music has again and again become relevant to a contemporary world that would accuse it of being outdated. Today, the new Christian music (Jesus Music, Jesus Rock, etc.) is accessible common ground between the religious and secular world. With the advent of the vinyl 45 and the non-stop disc jockey, music has become the second language of the youth. It has the power to lead or mislead. Just as it once influenced the misdirection of the youth into drugs and campus revolution, it can be (and is being) used to proclaim in a modern tongue a message that is almost 2,000 years old.

UNHOLY VESSEL?

There are some who wrongly feel that contemporary rock music is a satanic, destructive force and is not conductive to communicating the gospel. Some feel that the innate sensitivity and nobility of quieter musical forms, such as "classical music" is more calming and more appropriate for religious worship. This is not necessarily true. They are overlooking the fact that much of classical music, opera, etc. relies on murder, jealousy and immorality for their themes. When Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" was first performed on May 29, 1913, at the Theatre des Champs Elysees, the audience rioted and tore up the seats and curtains of the theatre. Yet, classical music can no doubt be used to glorify God when it chooses to. Handel did it with "The Messiah".

SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE
Music is one of the most strategic art forms we have today. It is more widely popular than literature, theatre, cinema, poetry, or any of the other art forms. It is also the most portable. **Radios fit into back pockets, cassette players weigh less than a text book, and almost every car has a radio. Most people have access to some kind of a record player. And for many, the live concert has become the height of social excursion ... a place where you can not only see your favourite group, but be with your best friends and somehow feel close to the forty thousand other people seated around you.
Today, Christian writers like Andrae Crouch, Randy Stonehill, Malcolm and Alwyn, and Steve Camp are redefining the cultural context of Christian music and often find themselves facing the same resistance that Luther, Watts, Booth and others have had to face. Innovation and creative direction are not always appreciated, because they are both often misunderstood. But the critics of modern Christian music should keep in mind that today's young Christians may be writing the hymns of tomorrow.

Larry Norman - January 1975
(used by permission)

**Note: Technology has jumped forward drastically since Larry Norman wrote that article, and music is more accessible and portable than ever, the smallest iPod being smaller than a stick of chewing gum, and with the capacity to hold literally hundreds of songs.


Life, Death, and Life

Posted by iStone | Posted on 6:08 AM

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OK, I suck at keeping a blog on a consistent basis. Let's just get that out of the way  right up front. I say it a lot, but, as long as that's the case, I'll say it. Now on to today's entry...

A very dear, beloved friend of mine passed away on Friday, April 09, 2010, less than a week ago. My wife and I have been good friends with he and his wife for quite some time. We are walking through this initial phase of grief, funeral arrangements, paperwork, etc., with his widow. She is now the only person living in her home, grief stricken and unsure of how to handle all that needs to be done in such a short time. My amazing wife has stepped in to stand beside her, to help her through all that she needs to get done. She is actually spending the week with her in her home. I sit at home with our two teens, homeschooling them, creating a memorial service "program card" for the funeral on my Mac, and grieving here. This coming Saturday, just 8 days after our friends passing, friends and family will say their last goodbyes at the memorial service. From then on, we all continue in the grief process, each of us in our individual way. We will be there for one another, and life will go on. For our departed friend, life goes on as well. Notice that that phrase says, "departed". That is because he isn't dead. He simply moved on. He is now with JESUS in Heaven. Had he passed away in his youth, perhaps that wouldn't be the case. God gives us all ample opportunity to accept JESUS and follow Him. It is up to us to make the right choice. Our Father in Heaven loves us so much that He created each of us with a free will to accept Him, or to reject Him. It is our choice.

Life is a journey, a quest, a pilgrimage. Life here on earth is just a starting point for every human. We begin here, and live here for whatever time we have, in preparation for the next phase of our lives elsewhere, whether it be eternity in Heaven with our Creator (Yaweh, Yeshua, Holy Spirit), or an eternal life of eternal separation from Him and of unending, unimaginable torment in the lake of fire. Our Creator doesn't send anyone to either place. The choice is ours, and ours alone. That being said, if you don't know what your future holds were your human life to end today, it is a very good time to repent (change your mind and ways) and turn to JESUS, accept Him into your life, and follow Him. He will be the Best Friend that you will ever have, a Friend that sticks closer than a brother. His love is boundless and powerful. He already paid the ultimate price so that you don't have to spend eternity without Him. It's just up to you. It's that simple. There is no perfect "sinner's prayer" to pray. Simply let JESUS know that you are sorry for leaving Him out of your life, sorry for your sins, and that you want Him to live in you through His Holy Spirit. Let Him know that you want to follow Him, and that you'll need His help to do just that. He'll take care of the rest. Your Father in Heaven is faithful. He will never let you down.

NEED HELP! ANY SUGGESTIONS?

Posted by iStone | Posted on 4:42 PM

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I'll try to make this short, yet detailed enough to make sense.

My wife and I have been customers with the local public utility district (electric company), Cowlitz PUD, for over ten years, all at the same address where we live now. In the past there have even been several times when we paid extra over what our bill is into a program that helps low-income customers with their bills.

I am on a meager, limited disability income, and have been since 2002. My wife has not been able to work since August 2007 due to injuries suffered in a car accident. For the past 8 months or so, we have struggled to get our bills paid on time. While behind, we have always been able to get the bills paid, and have not had the service disconnected. Last week, however, Cowlitz PUD sent us a letter informing us that we need to pay them a $375 deposit within 5 days of the date of the letter, or they would disconnect our service. Our bill is one payment short of being paid in full. Thanks to a gift from a friend, the bill will be paid in full, and the balance will be zero first thing tomorrow morning (Tue. April 6, 2010). The "deposit" demand will still be in effect, however, and the plan to disconnect us tomorrow will still be in effect as well.

My wife discussed the situation with someone at Cowlitz PUD this afternoon, and they are STILL demanding the deposit. To me that is extortion. We have not been disconnected, and currently have service. How long-time customers, customers who have even helped others by paying extra at times, can be treated this unfairly is beyond me. I have contacted the Washington State Attorney General's office for help, but it may be up to a month before we get any response from them due to their workload. I contacted the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, and they informed me that they have absolutely no jurisdiction over our local public utility district. From what I have learned so far, Cowlitz PUD is free to do what they want to do, and may extort money from faithful customers whenever they wish to do so, because, apparently, there is no oversight agency that keeps an eye on them? What the heck?

If anyone reading this blog has any helpful suggestions/ideas, any information on who we can contact to help us deal with this situation, or can help in any way, please contact me by email. My email address is iStone.me@gmail.com We desperately need some help immediately, because Cowlitz PUD has scheduled us for disconnect tomorrow. This is SO ridiculous, but it's really happening.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.
God bless you all.

Stones in Water II

Posted by iStone | Posted on 8:08 PM

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My son and my daughter, both teens, were baptized at Living Hope Church in Brush Prairie, WA last night, Saturday, January 30, 2010, by LHC senior pastor John Bishop, and his wife, Michelle. LHC Woodland campus pastor Gary Holde assisted in baptizing my daughter. It was a memorable night for sure. My wife and I are both SO proud of them. GOD IS FAITHFUL.

"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven, but whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before My Father in Heaven." - JESUS the Christ (Matthew 10:32-33 [NIV])

ONLY GOD.

Information Society - What's On Your Mind + Walking Away - Mash Up by Victor Cheng

Posted by iStone | Posted on 11:02 PM

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FREAKING AMAZING MASH/MIX, BRO! LOVE IT!
I was a nightclub DJ from 1977 until 1998, and THIS is the STUFF!
:)

Evie Tornquist - 1000 Candles

Posted by iStone | Posted on 12:15 PM

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One of the best female vocalists of the 20th Century, Norwegian born Evie Tornquist. She may be only four feet eleven inches tall, but she has a HUGE heart, and a HUGE voice to match.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Phil Keaggy - "Let Everything Else Go" LIVE

Posted by iStone | Posted on 7:17 AM

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I shot this video with my digital camera on May 10, 2008. Most amazing concert I've EVER attended, and I've been to literally hundreds.