The Degeneration of Modern Worship Music

What is happening to worship music in the last 1o years?

Many modern worship songs are no longer about bringing praise and glory to God.

Many modern worship songs are no longer about theological truth taken off the pages of Scripture.

Unfortunately, much of modern worship music is a copy-cat of the tunes and cliché phrases in current pop music.  Thanks to Gabe Bogdan, check out the worship song below:

“I can feel your presence here with me

Suddenly I’m lost within your beauty

Caught up in the wonder of your touch

Here in this moment, I surrender to your love”

That is a far cry from theologically correct worship as in the song “Lord I Lift Your Name on High” from just 25 years ago:

“You came from heaven to earth 
To show the way 
From the earth to the cross 
My debt to pay 
From the cross to the grave 
From the grave to the sky 
Lord, I lift Your name on high”

Even without hearing the “lost within your beauty” song, it reads much like a teen pop song, the kind that rolls at 140 bpm and sets the stage for lust…

Speaking of lust… Let us define lust…Webster’s dictionary defines lust as “intense or unbridled sexual desire.” Then what would be the purpose of the following lyrics in Jesus Culture’s “I am in love with you” song?

“Everyday my heart is in lust for You, So I will abandon myself to You”

Such songs do not describe the “Holy, Holy, Holy” God of Isaiah 6, but a god of lust, a god of personal relationships, and a god of emotions.  That is not my God.

The Triune God of the Bible will not receive the worship of “strange fire” brought about by compromising the message of praise and worship with lyrical content from the world.

Instead we will continue to delight in songs such as this one:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

image credit: metrolyrics.com

Our Worship Joins the Worship in the Spiritual Realm

The book of Hebrews contains some of the deepest and most controversial passages in the Bible.

For example, Hebrews 6 offers a brutal and unanesthetized warning against apostasy stating that those who commit the sin of apostasy cannot be “renewed” to eternal life.  Also, Hebrews 11 is a beautiful commentary on faith, and how the saints of the Old Testament are saved through faith in the future Christ.

But Hebrews 12 may be one of the deepest passages on spiritual worship, and what it really means to present ourselves before the Consuming Fire in a correct worship attitude.

Unlike the Israelites who came to a physical mountain to witness God’s display, the writer says:

Hebrews 12:22-24 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

The believer must come to this amazing realization and shutter!

When we come before God in worship, whether at church, at home, at work, in your car (yes, while driving!), we must recognize the fact that we join a continuous worship taking place in the spiritual realm.

  1. We come into a spiritual sanctuary called Mount Zion, the “city of the living God,” and the “heavenly Jerusalem.”  This is not an earthly cathedral, a modern sanctuary with the latest media support and state of the art sound system, or a house meeting.  This is a spiritual place where worship happens in spirit and truth at any hour of the day.  As children of God, we always have access to this place when we enter in worship.
  2. We are not alone when we worship.  The ESV translation states that “innumerable angels” join our praise and worship in a special kind of gathering, a festive gathering, one of celebration and joy. Revelation 5:11 quotes such a high number of angels in worship, that we cannot discern it: “myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands!”  Mediate on that the next time you bow your head and pray!
  3. When we engage in authentic worship we also join in the “assembly of the firstborn,” who are in heaven.  The firstborn are those saints who have passed away and are now with the LORD.
  4. We also come together with the “spirits of the righteous made perfect…” that is we join other believers who have had righteousness imputed to them by the grace of God through their faith in Jesus.  We are  not alone!
  5. We come to the “sprinkled blood,” that is we are able to come before the “throne of grace” via the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, via the shedding of His blood.  That is how humans are able to join this heavenly multitude in spiritual worship.
  6. But ultimately we joint to “God, the judge of all” and to “Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.”  He is the reason for such a festive spiritual worship event, He is the One who creates the opportunity for such, and He is the  one who mediates our participation in such worship!

Next time you feel down due to the pressures of this world, remember to join the worship in the spiritual realm and “offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”  Heb 12:28-29

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The Church as a Model for Atheists

Scripture tells us that God placed eternity in the hearts of men, and the sentiment to seek God, to worship, and to have fellowship with a purpose beyond just a “get-together.”

Surprise, surprise… even those who are atheists provide evidence for this in their actions.

The Sunday Assembly in London is an atheist church, a godless church,  which has copied the practice of the Body of Christ.  They meet on Sundays, they sings songs, have some announcements, a reading, and a sermon from guest speaker.

The godless are copying the godly.

It might be a good thing.

They claim to be very open-minded and I hope they would eventually invite a Christian speaker to present to them a Christian worldview and the Gospel, which may give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to change some of them.  What an amazing testimony that would be!

On the other hand, this may turn into a larger movement, an alternative to the real Church which will deceive many towards perdition.

In a Christian Post article, Matt Slick, president and founder of Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, says that a movement like this is dangerous. “The devil is working through them to replace the Christian church with the church of the devil.  Atheism is the ultimate denial of God,” Slick said. “This movement is a manifestation of the enemy of the Gospel trying to replace Christianity, corrupt it and weaken it.”

“It might be that they become united and become a stronger front against Christianity. That is my concern. This has potential to do a lot of damage to the Church”

If Satan has the capacity to disguise himself into an angel of light to attempt to deceive the masses, he surely can use a copycat church to do the same.

Our job is to show unbelievers that even atheists feel the deep longing for that Something, for the unknown God of Acts 17, for the need to gather with purpose.  Under the light of Scripture we know that purpose is to worship the One and true God.

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Counterfeit Praise and Worship in the Evangelical Church

A friend added me to a Facebook group called Gear Talk: Praise and Worship.  It’s a place where worship leaders discuss their instruments, gear, songs, and other things related to praise and worship through music.  There are thousands of members in this forum.

As I scrolled through the posts, I come upon this beauty:

“Prepping songs for Lifechurch.tv Stillwater campus tomorrow.  Here’s the set list:
Lights – Journey (opener)
Cornerstone
One Thing Remains
Christ Is Risen
God of Our Salvation

Pumped for 6 services!!”

So, under the category “be angry and do not sin” I felt the need to tax this level of counterfeit Christianity and leave this comment:

“you guys play non-Christian songs by non-Christian bands during worship? (Lights – Journey)”

Journey is a rock band from the 80’s and not only is their music NOT praise and worship, but they are completely secular.  The responses I received from these so-called praise and worship leaders included:

“Love me some Journey!!!”

“There really is no such thing as a Christian/Non-Christian song…songs are songs, meat is meat, days are days. (Rom 14:5-6)”

“Lights is a great song and pretty fun to play so I don’t have a problem with it.”

My friends, this is counterfeit Christianity at its worst.  These praise and worship leaders do not understand the first thing about our God, and the fact that He is “holy, holy, holy,” and He will not receive the worship of the depraved!  How can He receive a song by Journey, a song that has nothing to do with Him, an uninspired song written by people who do not know Him?

Moreover, the guy is using Scripture to defend his position! Unbelievable!

Looking through this forum, and seeing other similar posts, I began to realize how deep this unholy cancer runs in our post-modern churches.  I am realizing that we have people who are not born-again leading congregations in so-called “worship.” And God is not receiving this worship unto Himself because these are not his children. These congregations have a “form of godliness but denying its power.”  They are doing exactly what the Israelites of old were doing in mixing their worship for God with worship for Baal, Asherim and Molech.  And God despises it today just like he did back then.

The rebuke through prophet Isaiah applies to these false Christians today: “this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men…” Isaiah 29:13

This is how we have wanna-be rockers in their 50s rocking out in churches secular songs such as the theme song from the depraved adult TV show The Simpsons.  Watch the “worship” below from Granger Community Church and be shocked that this happens in church:

Could Jesus Culture Be More Popular Than Jesus Christ?

Following a provocation by Todd Friel from “Wretched” (here)I dared to Google “Jesus C” and observe the prompt choices that come up. The first choice in my browser’s search bar was “Jesus Culture” followed by “Jesus Christ.”

Through no fault of their own, at least by this metric, the band Jesus Culture has become more searchable and popular than Jesus Christ. Many young Christians are aware of who they are and probably listen to their worship music.  Jesus Culture is way bigger then Hillsong was in their prime (early to mid 2000’s) or any other worship band.  Ever.

They are part of the New Apostolic Reformation charismatic movement out of Redding, CA based at Bill Johnson’s church, whose theology is very focused on the mandate given to the 12 disciples in Matthew 10:  heal the sick, raise the dead and exorcise the demon-possessed.  That, and also establish God’s kingdom in Redding.

The question is why are they so popular? I’ve done some research on this including attending their conference in Los Angeles (mostly out of curiosity) and try to analyze this phenomenon. I personally believe that a pure gospel message based on the cross would not bring a band to this level of popularity.

The music is well done from an artistic stand point but this alone does not explain it. While many of their songs do have an uplifting message (some are not written by them), the lyrics are mostly your usual modern worship lyrics centered on what God does for us, and NOT Who God is… So the lyrics do not necessarily explain the Jesus Culture phenomenon.

The answer is that Jesus Culture popularity has to do with the package they have become.

1. In their interviews and concerts they are focused on promoting “deep encounters” with God and experimental trance-like scenarios built around receiving power and baptism with fire. At the Los Angeles concert they performed a maneuver where after a 10 minute instrumental and light show build-up to a climax, everything suddenly stopped, the crowd went nuts and received power on command from the speaker who declared “receive it, receive it, receive it.” This transfer of power is practiced in the “tunnel of fire” at their church as well. Wild expressions of ecstasy on command from the speaker were common throughout the event.

2. They advertise “new experience” when attending their conferences. This makes them highly attractive for those who seek this type of physical stimulation of the senses. We live in a world which loves sensational experiences, and Jesus Culture provides that. For example vocalist Kim Walker’s testimony of her physical/metaphysical encounter with Jesus is astounding (here, starting at minute 28). It sounds like a description of a scene from a badly made 80’s movie, where she hugs Jesus and presses Him to answer how much He loves her, and whether she was really meant to be a girl and not a boy.  For comparison… a look back at the encounter Paul had with Jesus on the way to Damascus which left him as dead, reveals a completely different type of encounter than the one experienced by Kim.

3. Another reason for their popularity is the fact that their message and conferences have nothing to do with repentance, the new birth, and the cross. Instead the message is focused on power. Power to perform miracles, heal the sick, raise the dead, etc. That is attractive! It makes the followers feel good, and it empowers them, but  in a misleading way.

So, the question will come up… Should we listen to this music because after all, the sound or the lyrics are not different from Hillsong and Gateway?

Can one can separate the recording from the band’s theology and practice, and be edified by songs with a biblical message like “There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain…?”  One has to use his discerning ability and decide for himself.  I will personally never attend another Jesus Culture event, and I will warn the youth about their practices.

But if you really love this music and want to listen to it, I strongly caution you not to get sucked into the bad theology and mystical practice of Jesus Culture.

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A New Passion: The Taylor 414ce

This beautiful new guitar is my new passion. I will experiment using it during worship at church as I try to make a transition from playing keys to playing guitar.

I have been playing keyboards and piano since I was a kid, but I have been secretly loving the idea of leading the church in worship using the guitar.

So I took a big step and purchased this instrument from Sweetwater after bargaining for a good price.

It is made of spruce wood in the front giving the sound a bright tone, while the ovankol wood found in the back and sides provides for deep bass. And my favorite part, it is fitted with the Taylor Expression System Electronics which make it ready for playing in a church setting using amplification.  The sound is absolutely full-bodied and overall amazing.  My finger tips are already calloused 🙂

Psalm 150

1 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!

Praise the LORD!

Evangelical Romanian Gypsy Worship: Psalm 117

These are songs from Romanian Evangelical Gypsies in the middle of a wedding.  The first clip is based on Psalm 117.  The second clip is a simple “Hallelujah.” All I can say is… amazing.  Worship atmosphere during a wedding…

Praise the Lord all ye nations,

Praise Him all ye people.

Everlasting is His truth,

And His kindness is great to us.

Hallelu, hallelujah, hallelu, hallelujah

Praise the Lord, hallelujah, hallelujah!

Praise the Lord, hallelujah,

Hallelu, hallelujah!

Praise the Lord, hallelujah, hallelujah!

Namibian Nights

Photographer Marsel von Oosten created this time-lapse video after compiling still shots of the night-time scenery in Namibia.  All I can say is wow.

Psalm 19

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

Be Still and Know That I AM God

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Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

When you feel overwhelmed by the difficulties of this world read Psalm 46 and be amazed!  Find your refuge in God even if the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the sea.  When the nations rage and kingdoms trotter, when the evil one prowls around you like a lion, when trouble is upon you, just remember that the Lord of hosts is with you.

But most of all, when you find yourself cornered by trouble and grief, be still.  You must maintain your composure under pressure because you have special revelation about who God is.  The sons of Korah proclaim the message of the Almighty for you: “Be still and know that I am God.”

The One who can stop a world war can ameliorate your situation, whatever that is.  It may be physical or psychological illness, troubled relationships or stress at work.

In the day of trouble just run to safety.  Run and hide in the fortress that is the God of Jacob.

And be still and know that He is God.