Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Differences between playing in a 'performance band' and a 'worship band'

Well this is quite the controversial subject (church musicians being involved in secular bands) but I am not here to debate the subject today.  I am only here to compare / contrast the unique nuances and demands on both the church musician and the secular, or "gigging" musician.

Many church musicians play in secular bands – performing in pubs & clubs or function bands etc.  So what distinctive qualities does being a worship musician require that are different for a ‘performing’ musician and vice versa? And can one environment benefit from skills developed in the other? Well, church musicians primarily exist to help the congregation engage with God in worship, whilst gigging musicians primarily exist to entertain the crowd (although for a Christian gigging band there may also be the desire to use music to present the gospel and glorify God).

We’re striving for excellence in both contexts but the application may be a little different.  The table below outlines some of the traits that make musicians effective and how they apply in the respective environments.

 Church musician Secular musician 
Flexible in the momentVery important given that you might play with different musicians each week, and worship times can be unpredictable, with unforeseen changes to song lists and song formats, and having to adapt to contributions from leaders and congregation.Probably less of a priority for a gigging band who will agree a set list, rehearse it and deliver it exactly as agreed – every time.
Technically proficientIt’s certainly desirable to be as good as possible on your instrument. However, many worship songs are quite straightforward harmonically & rhythmically and can played very well by an intermediate player.Depends on your band. If it’s the Backstreet Band, then don’t worry about it! However if your covering Stevie Wonder or trying to sound like Dirty Loops you will really need to know your chops and have practiced many hours.
Well RehearsedAs well as being clued-up on basic arrangements for the songs you’re going to be using at church, it’s good to ‘practice spontaneity’. Look at how you might transition between songs be prepared for the unexpected!Usually you’ll need to know exactly what you’re playing in every bar of every song – including the exact sounds that guitarists and keyboard players etc will use. The rehearsal almost becomes a drill where you get the song arrangements in your head perfectly.
Authoritative & confidentLess experienced musicians can tend to be a bit apologetic and weak in the way they play. Even if you lack confidence, play your instrument with conviction (that’s not the same as LOUD), and don’t be scared about making mistakes. We all do.An audience will be unimpressed by a group of muso’s who look shy. If you’re well rehearsed, you can go out and engage the audience – they want you to!
Able to memorizeHaving a large repertoire of worship songs in your head so you don’t always need the music in front of you is very liberating especially if you’re suddenly asked to play an unplanned song.Unless you’re in an orchestra, it’s generally unacceptable be using written music at all in a gig – it looks amateur. Memorize the set!
Rock solid rhythmicallyCertainly a good goal for all church bands – practice having drums and bass working tightly with a steady tempo – perhaps use a click. The other musicians should lock in to provide a stable foundation for the worship song.It’s generally a great compliment if your band is called ‘tight’ – not only do you lock in with solid drums and bass, but every riff, lick, change and transition is perfectly executed to delight the audience.
CreativeFinding new and interesting arrangements for worship songs can breathe fresh life into them. The tried and tested arrangements are fine but a bit of creative thinking (especially with your own church in mind) can be very welcome.If you’re in a covers band, then emulation is more important than original ideas. However, if you’re playing your own stuff, then it’s vital to be interesting and inventive, or the punters won’t come back.
Able to improviseReally useful in a church context to add variety, and roll with the unplanned moments. But avoid jam sessions in corporate worship services.Not necessary if you’re only playing predetermined arrangements, but really useful when initially creating arrangements, or if there’s more of a jazz/improvisational element to your sound.
Able to read musicAlways an advantage, although chord charts tend to be more helpful in the church setting. Note-for-note playing of the songbook arrangements tends to sound very flat and uninspiring, so take cues from the score but don’t rely on it.Well, the Beatles apparently couldn’t read music and they seemed to be moderately successful. But they did have George Harrison who could. Draw your own conclusions!
EntertainingIn church the goal shouldn’t be to entertain the congregation. Some would identify that as a ‘problem’ with modern worship leading styles. However, being demonstratively passionate about what you’re singing and being a ‘lead worshipper’ seems fitting. Heart attitude is everything.Eye contact, physical movement, passion, eloquent banter, using space on stage, putting the audience at their ease. Yes to all of that if you want them on your side.
Sensitive to the Holy SpiritVery important if you hope to lead a congregation and help them engage with God’s presence. It goes deeper than just being gifted at your instrument.  Spend time with God in private and it will show in public.Everything we do as Christians should be part of our worship, including ‘secular’ gigs. I still want to bless God with my instrument wherever I’m playing.
Of good characterIf you’re the best drummer in England, but never show up to rehearsals and meetings on time, or if you’re consistently sinning in your personal life, then I would rather not have you on the worship team. Character is every bit as important as gifting. Church is not a good place to realize your rock star fantasy.Many successful secular bands are populated by people whose lives are a total mess, but as Christians we are called to spread the seed of the gospel everywhere, to be salt and light and to influence our culture for the glory of God. That means living lives of purity, wherever music takes us.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What Do You Do When The Congregation Isn't Responding?

We have all found ourselves in a season when it seems we step on the platform and attempt to usher our congregation into the presence of the Lord -- and nothing happens.  How frustrating this can be!   Yet we all find ourselves in this familiar place sooner or later.

The below is a short illustration from an acquaintance of mine who is also involved in music ministry.  I believe you will find it most informative and a blessing too.


I’m a behind the scenes guy at my church. A lot of what I do shows up in the finished product that is presented on Sunday morning, but I seldom come to the front myself.  But there was this worship medley by William McDowell that I wanted the praise team to sing, and I kinda knew even before I presented it to them that I’d be asked to sing it. His voice is similar to my own so it only made sense.
So I teach the song and everything goes well. Sunday comes and we present it. I begin leading the song and right away I notice only a small handful of the audience seems to be into it at all. Only 3 or 4 or standing, maybe another few that I can see actually closing their eyes and making an attempt to worship. That’s the downside to singing with your eyes open, unfortunately. Sometimes you can “see too much” and discourage yourself.

So we continued to move through the medley and everything went well, but I was discouraged. I had people come up to me and say they enjoyed it, but I personally didn’t feel good about it. I blamed much of it on the audience, and the rest on myself. You see we used to be one of those churches who had “testimony service”. We did it for many years-most of my life, really. So even though we’ve had a praise team for several years now, many of our older saints just don’t “get it”. “We don’t know how to worship”, I told one of the young ministers who was encouraging me.

Then there was me. See I've always had this inward battle about my own singing and whether it’s “hype enough” or “exciting enough”. I struggle with thoughts that my singing is “too calm” or “too boring”.  It didn’t help that our regular worship leader is a powerful anointed singer and woman of God that just electrifies the service every time she sings.

So, overall just not especially having enjoyed the experience, imagine how I felt when our worship leader sends me a text saying she wants me to do it again the following Sunday. I hemmed and hawwed and stated my case, but in the end I promised I’d be obedient. So I’m sitting there on the keyboard that Sunday playing and she’s going forth with the praise team. And just when I’m convinced the spirit is leading her another way she stops down and asks me to come up.
Any time I get up to do something I try to prepare myself mentally and spiritually so I’m in the right frame of mind and I have the right attitude. I just won’t get up in front of people with a negative spirit, I don’t care how I feel personally about what I’m about to do. I call it my 5 Second Rule Of Music Ministry.  So in the few seconds it takes me to get up to the stage I decided that this time I’d do two things. I’d make more of an effort to go deeper into the songs emotionally myself. To make sure I’m actually worshiping, lifting my hands, closing my eyes and talking to God.

But then the second thing I decided to do was to do a better job leading, encouraging and guiding the audience in worship. So right away when I took the microphone this time I began to just talk to them about worship, encouraging them to surrender all they had been through that day, even the previous week. I began to explain to them that worship isn’t something that “happens to you”, it’s something that you do.  I began to sing, this time moving my hands more, lifting them more, talking to the audience more. This time the atmosphere was different. There were many more people worshiping. Many more standing, lifting their hands. Many more who were seated were doing the same thing. The atmosphere was filled with a spirit of worship. Even when the pastor came up, which was much later, the praise and worship portion of the service was still on his mind. He began to talk about the songs we sang and the kind of worship we offered, referring to it as a “slow rain”. In fact I ended up going back into a portion of it again by his request.

So now, thinking back on it I realize that it wasn’t necessarily the audience that had the problem the first time, it was me. It wasn’t them that needed to surrender, it was me. It wasn’t them that wasn’t worshiping, it was me that wasn’t. I learned that day something I really already knew. Something I’ve said to others before. Simply, that when you stand before God’s people you have to give God your best. It has to come from a pure place that isn’t influenced or affected by what the audience is doing- or not doing.

Because the truth is even in the second performance of the medley there were still people who weren’t really into it at all. And there always will be, in every performance; for all of us. But the solution is not to simply keep our eyes tightly closed for the entire thing and ignore the audience entirely. The solution is to sing from the purest place you can, giving God the best praise or worship you can. Connect with and focus on those who are with you and being blessed. Avoid focusing your attention on those who don’t seem to be interested, and don’t take it personally. Doing so could cause you to miss being a blessing to someone else. Or worse yet, miss being blessed yourself.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A few video clips of a service last Saturday

I am posting today just to share a few video clips of a service my wife and I were privileged to be a part of last Saturday.  My wife and two friends of ours sang together and did a fantastic job.  The Lord moved through them and it was wonderful.  God is good!

Unfortunately since I was playing keyboard I could not record them/myself.  So these videos are of Alvaneeta and Chad Stevenson of Houston.  They and their praise team did an amazing job of ushering in the presence of the Lord and I was blessed to have met them.

Clip 1 of Alvaneeta Stevenson

Clip 2 of Alvaneeta Stevenson

Clip 3 is Chad Stevenson

I hope you enjoy these videos.  Be blessed!

- Nathan

Monday, March 17, 2014

Should Church Music Ministers be Paid? Part 2

Should Church Music Ministers be Paid?  Part 2

Pros and cons:  paid vs. not paid.

You may find yourself thinking, "Wow, if I could only be paid to pursue this musical calling upon my life!"  Well I would encourage you to reshape your thinking first of all and speak faith.  As in, "I cannot wait until I am being paid to pursue this musical calling God has placed over my life."

But realize the Levites - the music ministers of the old testament - were under much responsibility to the priests and God as well.  Lest we become carried away with thoughts of riches and grandeur, we must be reminded that by being added to a church payroll we may be treated differently than a non-paid minister of music.  Why is this so?  It is so because people tend to expect more from someone who is paid versus a volunteer.  What special requirements were the Levites under that non-Levites - everyday 'saints' or church attendees were not?

I Chronicles 23:28-32 mentions these temple duties:

  • be in charge of the courtyards
  • be in charge of the side rooms
  • purification of all sacred things
  • be in charge of the bread set out on the table
  • be in charge of the flour for the grain offerings
  • be in charge of the unleavened wafers
  • be in charge of the baking and the mixing
  • be in charge of all measurements of quantity and size
  • stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord
  • stand every evening to thank and praise the Lord
  • stand and thank and praise the Lord whenever burnt offerings were presented to the Lord on Sabbaths, New-Moon festivals, and appointed feasts
While the Bible indicates Levites were broken up into groups in order to focus on various duties (described throughout I Chronicles 23, 24, 25, and 26), undoubtedly each Levite was familiar with each task performed in the support of priests.

What is my point in all this?  We must realize that the Levites led a very conservative and disciplined life - and their lives were focused on ministering both to the priests and to the people in the congregation.  Due to their position in the church much was required of them.  Levites could not do as they pleased on a daily basis.  They were committed to the schedule of the church.  Consider that if you choose to pursue part-time or full-time music ministry as a paid servant, you may need to adjust your lifestyle accordingly.  Want to join friends and family on that holiday vacation?  How about attending that great concert next Sunday morning/night?  Do you have the sudden urge to take your children camping or surprise your significant other with a weekend getaway?  Your first call may need to be to your boss (pastor) to ask for permission to plan that activity.  And if that great idea of yours involves a Sunday or a day your church conducts their midweek service, expect your employer (pastor) to say no!  Your pastor is investing time and money into you and he probably needs you in service to minister to the congregation and be a strength to him as well.

If you have children this reality will be even more difficult.  The fact is that by accepting payment for your services, you are placing yourself under even more authority to your church leadership than if you were a volunteer.  Plan on your life becoming busier and sacrificing time during your week and your weekends to serve in whatever level of commitment you have committed yourself to.  I am not attempting to paint a negative picture of paid music ministry - as we now know, it is ordained by God.  And the blessings you receive from being deeply involved with your local congregation are rich and many!  A life of ministry and dedication to the house of the Lord is something to be desired.  I only wish to make you aware that with greater commitment comes greater sacrifice.  Weigh the pros and cons carefully prior to launching into a deeper level of commitment.  And consider if you/your family will be able to commit to part-time or full-time requirements that come with the compensation.  

What should I do if my pastor/deacon board/finance committee do not see the need to compensate me?

So you feel strongly that the Lord is leading you in the direction of paid ministry, and that your church should compensate you.  What now?  First off, begin spending time in focused prayer about the situation.  Money is a sensitive issue in most churches.  Sooner or later you will need to meet with your pastor to discuss your vision for the church's music department and to share your burden.  But prior to speaking with your pastor, set aside a number of weeks or even months to prepare your mind and heart and spirit to receive what he will have to say.  Remember that although you have biblical understanding and precedent for your request, you are still (and always will be) subjected to your pastor - the shepherd God has placed in your life.

Your pastor may or may not understand God's model as explored in part 1 of this blog.  Remaining humble and patient will go a long way here.  Going into the meeting with your pastor, I recommend writing up a simple outline with supporting scriptures.  You may need to take on the role of humble teacher here, as many pastors have never studied this compensation concept from a biblical standpoint.  Present your case in a non-threatening, non-demanding manner and be prepared to leave the meeting without an answer.  If your pastor does not commit to you or even if he disagrees, that is okay.  He/she needs time to consider your petition in prayer and they also may need to review the church finances, and/or meet with members of a finance committee.  If you are rejected outright, accept it with grace and humility.  Then go home and continue praying for God to have His way in the situation.

I experienced this very situation in my young adult life.  After my wife and I spent a season in prayer and fasting, we approached our pastor and explained our burden to devote more time to our music ministry.  We explained how income from the church would potentially enable my wife to resign her secular job and focus on tasks of musical nature.  Most of all, we reasoned, monthly payment from the church would allow her to leave secular work and free up much-needed time to advance our musical goals and vision.  That first meeting closed with a kind but firm "no".  So did the second meeting, three months later.  But during the third appeal I carefully presented the scriptural precedent behind our request.  And guess what?  Jesus honored our prayer, fasting and perseverance and shortly after the third meeting we became paid staff in the music department.  Praise the Lord!

On a side note, the pastor who implements this practice places him/herself in position to receive additional blessings from the Lord.  This is a study in and of itself though and I will not begin that study today.

And if you put yourself through the paces and experience permanent rejection?  Take a step back and examine yourself.  What are your motives for desiring to be paid?  Do your motives match up to what God wills for your life?  Are you living a sin-free/overcoming lifestyle which allows God's will to be done in you?  If God shows you that you pass the "you" test, you may need to pray for the Lord to open opportunity elsewhere.  Somewhere around the state/country/world you live in is a pastor praying for God to send them a dedicated, passionate music minister to bless their congregation.  God is in the business of introducing godly desire to His intended destiny!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Should Church Music Ministers be Paid? Part 1

Should Church Music Ministers be Paid?  Part 1

Greetings from blogland!  Our discussion today combines the biblical with the practical; ancient customs and scriptures versus twenty-first century application.  I know of pastors who follow this blog and if you are a pastor reading this, please proceed with an open mind.  I understand opinions on this subject vary dramatically and I believe I am able to be objective as I write this as I have lived on both sides of the fence: paid and not paid.  I am certainly not asserting that my opinion is the final word on this topic:  I am only presenting my findings after much research and experience.  Having said that, let us delve into the question at hand to learn what the Bible says regarding compensation for music ministers.

Who in the Bible was compensated for church music ministry?

The tribe of Levi!  We commonly refer to them as the Levites.  This tribe of Israel was hand-picked by God.  The Levites are our biblical model for this topic and the Bible has a lot to say about their significance.

Aaron was the individual chosen by God to act as the head of the Levites.  Aaron was a Levite (Exodus 4:14) and we read of his ordination in Leviticus 8:1-12.  Aaron's sons and extended family would multiply and serve as ministers of everything found in the church, including music.  (Numbers 18:1-6).  God was teaching his people how to worship him.  To do so, he needed ministers to oversee the operations of the tabernacle.  These men were called priests and Levites, and they could only be members of the tribe of Levi.

In I Chronicles 6:31-47 we have documentation of David appointing temple musicians.  Verse 31 and 32 clearly tell us:  "These are the men David put in charge of the music in the house of the Lord after the ark came to rest there.  They ministered with music before the tabernacle".  (NIV)  The men named in verses 33 through 46 were all Levites.  I Chronicles chapter 23 names the men David appointed (all Levites) and we learn in verse 5 he appointed (four thousand) musicians.  Wow!  And I Chronicles 15:16-28 tells us David appointed signers and musicians to join him in leading the procession of the ark of the covenant.  Now that we have established that the Levites were the chosen people to minister in music let us discover how they were paid.

How were the Levites compensated?

Okay, this is the fun part.  Show me the money!  Numbers 18:21-24 answers the question  of the blog - yes the biblical model as prescribed by God does order music ministers to be paid.  The original model in the old testament has music ministers paid from the offerings collected of the Israelites.

Not only did a Levite's compensation come from offerings, they were also provided housing!  In fact whole cities (48 cities in all) and suburbs were designated by God to be set aside just for Levites.  God provides the details to Moses in Numbers 35:1-8.

Additional supporting scriptures

Lest I only reference old testament scriptures let's take a look into the new testament also.  In Luke 10:7 Jesus says "...the labourer is worthy of his hire."  Jesus told his disciples to accept hospitality graciously because their work entitled them to it.  Ministers in the church deserve to be supported, and our responsibility is to make sure they have what they need.  There are several ways to encourage those who serve God in his church.  The church should support ministers emotionally, by showing appreciation, and through financial support.

In I Corinthians 9:4-10 and verse 13 Paul discusses the compensation of Christian workers by the church.  The church has the responsibility to care for its pastors, teachers, and other leaders.

Who gets paid?

The answer to this question as it relates to your local congregation is varied.  First we must realize the Levites had the support of an entire nation and therefore they enjoyed an enormous 'bank' from which to withdraw from.  In our current-day world of Christianity in which Christians are very segregated due to many denominations, your pastor's 'bank' or resources from which to compensate you with may be severely limited.  In the day of the Levite musicians and singers, the entire nation of Israel was of one group or 'denomination'; thus the land was unified in its compensation to the Levites.

Add to this the fact that most leadership in Christian denominations today (on a country-wide level) do not implement organized compensation for their pastors, let alone music ministers.  This is very unfortunate and a topic of discussion in and of itself.  In fact the reason God instituted the model of compensation in the manner He did shows us the importance He placed on music; God gave instructions to Israel regarding payment for music ministers and priests together and in the same breath.

Nevertheless in our churches today a local congregation may only be able to afford to pay one individual - usually the head coordinator/director of the music department.  Larger congregations with more resources may choose to pay multiple people - singers and/or musicians both.  This seems to follow reason:  more resources provide more options to leaders and financial decision makers of a church.  And after all other costs need to be addressed besides just clergy and the music ministry.  As it is natural for a dedicated church musician to understand the biblical precedent for compensation and so desire it, many vocalists and musicians find their way to large congregations that are able to more freely offer payment for services rendered.  Note to people who criticize singers and musicians who may relocate to one of these larger congregations: this does not necessarily mean the music minister has "sold out" or given in to the love of money.

Remember, as established earlier in this discussion, the seek such support (from the church) is rooted in biblical precepts.

In Part 2 we will discuss two more vital questions pertaining to this discussion.  Stay tuned!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Highlights of Musical Use in Scripture

Our post today is regarding highlights of musical use in scripture.

I encourage you to use any and all of these references to present to your music departments or singers/musicians/drama teams/liturgical dance teams/signing teams, etc.  I believe it is important for us all to understand the scriptural basis for how/why we minister as we do.  If someone was to ask me today why my church music department does certain things, would I be able to show some sort of biblical basis to it all?  Or do I do things in my ministry out of traditions passed to me by others?

Music in Bible Times

Paul clearly puts forth the Christian's view that things are not good or bad in and of themselves (see Romans 14 and I Corinthians 14:7, 8, 26).  The point should always be to worship the Lord or help others by means of the things of this world, including music.  Music was created by God and can be returned to him in praise.  Does the music you play or listen to have a negative or positive impact upon your relationship with God?

Highlights of Musical Use in Scripture

Jubal was father of all musicians. . . . .  Genesis 4:21
Miriam and other women sang and danced to praise God . . . .  Exodus 15:1-21
The priest was to have bells on his robes . . . . Exodus 28:34, 35
Jericho fell to the sound of trumpets . . . . Joshua 6:4-20
Saul experienced the soothing effect of music . . . . I Samuel 16:14-23
The King's coronation was accompanied by music . . . . I Kings 1:39, 40
The ark was accompanied by trumpeters . . . . I Chronicles 16:6
There were musicians for the king's court . . . .  Ecc. 2:8
From David's time on, the use of music in worship was much more organized.  Music for the temple became refined . . . . . I Chronicles 15:16-24; I Chronicles 16:4-7; II Chronicles 5:11-14
Everything was to be used by everyone to praise the Lord . . . . Psalm 150

In the New Testament, worship continued in the synagogues until the Christians became unwelcome there, so there was a rich musical heritage already established.  The fact that music is mentioned less often in the New Testament does not mean it was less important.

Jesus and the disciples sang a hymn . . . . Matthew 26:30
Paul and Silas sang in jail . . . . Acts 16:25
We are to sing to the Lord as a response to what he has done in our lives . . . . Ephesians 5:19,20; Colossians 3:16; James 5:13

As indicated previously in this post, these scriptures are but highlights - I will post many more scriptures dealing with music ministry in the months ahead.  Now go share this information with your fellow ministry friends!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Common Questions about Worshiping Jesus Part Five

In the final portion of this series I list four commonly asked questions relating to worshiping Jesus.  You will notice aspects of worship that we routinely think of as a part of our respective music ministries.

1.  Why are many church worship services boring and not like the worship we find described in Revelation?

In Revelation we see such things as singing, musical instrumentation, brilliant lighting, and visual imagery incorporated in the worship of Jesus.  Elsewhere in scripture we also see that the worship of God includes God's people bowing and kneeling (Psalm 95:6), clapping and shouting (Psalm 47:1), and raising their hands (Neh. 8:6; Psalm 28:2, 63:4, 134:2, 141:2, 143:6, Lam 3:41, I Timothy 2:9).  In comparison, many churches today seem committed to being as boring as possible. Others seem just as committed to doing the latest cool thing and you may wonder who they are actually worshiping.

Nonetheless, in being reconciled to Jesus we are also reconciled to his people and made part of the church.  So it is our responsibility as Christians to find a congregation of people who are devoted to real Jesus-directed worship and join them.  While the style of architecture and music may be important, what is most important is that you connect with both Jesus and his people.  But remember, worship is about Jesus, not about us.

2.  Is singing all that there is to worship?

Not at all.  Coming together with God's people to proclaim the wonder of Jesus is important.  But probably the most sincere worship is how we live our life after we leave the church building.

In Isaiah 1 the Lord became angry at Judah.  They were going to church, singing songs, spreading their hands in prayer, even giving tithes.  But the Lord wouldn't receive their adoration.  The rest of their life wasn't glorifying to him.  They needed to do whole life worship and not just a few hours one day a week.  So God commanded them to remove the evil of their deeds from before his eyes, cease to do evil, learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, and plead the widow's cause as acts of true worship (Isa. 1:16-17).  Serving people in the name of Jesus and in the character of Jesus is the most satisfying form of worship ever.

3.  Why does God need all that praise?

Worship isn't about meeting God's needs. Worship is first of all about direction for our lives.  Worshiping God means honoring or valuing him above everything else.  Someone who worships Jesus will refuse to give honor to anything that dishonors Jesus.  They will not purposely do things that don't promote his character and honor.  Worship is also about devotion or relationship.  From the beginning, God made us like himself (Gen. 1:26-28).  He made us for relationship with each other and with him.  When we build the relationship between God and ourselves, then we are doing worshipful things.  Because we were made for worship, God allows us to worship him both for his glory and our good.  Through the worship of God we are liberated to live freely and joyfully without worshiping people and things that would make us miserable.

4.  Why does God jealously require that we worship only him?

God is like a home in a tough neighborhood.  The loving parents in the home tell their kids to finish their homework and to do their chores.  There are others in the neighborhood who would never make their children finish their homework and do their chores.  Instead they would allow or even encourage their children to sin and spend their time drinking, doing drugs, having sex and making trouble.  The reason godly parents ask for exclusive obedience and worship is not that they have insatiable egos that need constant stroking, but that they are the only ones who really love the kids, who want to give good things to them for the kids' deepest pleasure.  Likewise, God is a jealous God who wants only the best for us, his children, and his jealousy is nothing but his love seeking our good.  Hence, Exodus 20:3-5: "You shall have no other gods before me. . . . You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God."

This concludes this five-part series about why we should worship Jesus.  I pray it has been a blessing to you and that you have been able to share it with your music department.  Please feel free to contact me with any comments you have.  God gets the glory?