Back in 1991, I had the privilege of leading a Integrity Music Hosanna! project called ‘Chosen Treasure.” It was a great experience, and helped promote the songs of Sovereign Grace songwriters more than anything we had ever done.
Since then, Sovereign Grace Ministries has had different interactions with the folks at Integrity. I spent the last two days at the their Seminars4Worship Event in Pittsburgh, PA, held at Northway Christian Community Church. I met some great folks there who were eager to learn more about how they could serve their churches more effectively.
On Monday I did a seminar based on Col. 3:12-17 on”How Music Works in Worship.” After thanking the attendees for the way they serve in their local churches, I read this quote from Martin Luther:
Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits…This precious gift has been given to man alone that he might thereby remind himself that God has created man for the express purpose of praising and extolling God. However, when man’s natural musical ability is whetted and polished to the extent that it becomes an art, then do we note with great surprise the great and perfect wisdom of God in music, which is, after all, His product and His gift; we marvel when we hear music in which one voice sings a simple melody, while three, four, or five other voices play and trip lustily around the voice that sings its simple melody and adorn this simple melody wonderfully with artistic musical effects, thus reminding us of a heavenly dance, where all meet in a spirit of friendliness, caress and embrace. A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs. (Martin Luther, 1538, in his Foreword to “Symphoniae iucunda,” a collection of chorale motets)
Every time I read that, I laugh. Luther had many strengths. Diplomacy and tact weren’t among them. I encouraged those present not to approach conversations about music in the church with Luther’s attitude…I shared three thoughts: when it comes to congregational worship heart is more important than art, God’s “preferences” are more important than mine, and Christ’s accomplishments are more important than ours.
The next morning I spoke at one of the main sessions from Psalm 63 on Worship in the Wilderness. I gave a similar message at Covenant Life, which you can download here, if you’d like. Finally, I did a seminar on the topic of Healthy Tensions in Congregational Worship, a message I gave back at the WorshipGod06 conference.
Although I don’t do too many of them, it’s always a privilege to speak at events like this. I was particularly encouraged this time because I met some kind people who let me know how God had used me in their life in the past. I realized how many times I’m simply going about my business, doing what I think I’m supposed to do, while God is working through His Spirit to encourage, build up, convict, and strengthen others. What a gracious God we serve.
By the way, thanks to those of you who posted a comment on my post about where I am with my book. I’ll be working on Chapter 6 this week. It’s tentatively called The When of Worship, and I’ll be addressing the times God calls us to worship Him. As always, I appreciate your prayers.