Keep fervent in your love

community1

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

– 1 Peter 4.8

Perhaps the most direct and difficult commandments of the Bible have to do with love.  The Old Testament Law is written on the foundation of loving God with all of our hearts, minds and strength (Deut 6.5, Matt 22.37).  And beyond that, Jesus commands us to love one another in the same way we love ourselves.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

– Matt 22.39

Scripture gives us a wide array of teachings on love, to help us understand how exactly we can (and should) love one another as ourselves.  Most of us give ourselves a lot of leeway and grace.  Did you overreact in that situation, did you indulge that pesky sin?  Have you allowed an aspect of your personality to get overgrown or annoying?  Are you so far down the path of rebellion, pride or ego that you cannot even see it anymore?

Insomuch as we feed our own indulgences and make allowances for putting our feet in our mouths, or “slipping up”, we should give grace to one another when our friends, neighbors or acquaintances when they put their feet in their mouths, slip up, or engage in that particularly annoying habit.  We must be fervent in our love for one another and let love cover a multitude of sins.

There are times when we must confront ourselves in our own sin and when we must confront one another.  The most loving thing we can do for ourselves and others is to seek Spiritual well being, and if I have a blind spot in my life, I need others to point it out.  If you have a blind spot in your life, it is necessary for your friends to point it out to you.  If someone in your life is continually practicing a sin, it is your God-given responsibility hold them accountable and help them grown and mature.

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”

– Gal 6.1-2

When we confront sin in someone else, we must also be mindful of ourselves and our own sin.  None of us will ever be perfect and without sin, therefore it will always be sinful people confronting other sinful people.  We often shy away from that confrontation asking ourselves, “Who am I to call him out?” considering our own tendencies and sinfulness to be grounds of disqualification for holding others accountable.  But Scripture is clear:  we must hold one another accountable and all the while considering our own tendencies so that we will not be tempted too.  We are gentle, understanding and compassionate in our efforts because we, too, fall into temptation so easily.

Love.  This is the outworking and the fruit of love, to push one another on to holiness.

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”

– 1 Cor 13.1-3

Without love we are nothing.  We can preform great acts and accomplish much, but unless we are rooted in and driven by the love of God, we are nothing.

Do you love God today?  Do you love your neighbor?  No one has to teach us how to love ourselves; we are constantly seeking our own best and our own interests.  But let us consider that measure by which we love ourselves and examine if that is the same measure by which we love one another.  Cover a multitude of sins.  Seek one another’s best interests.  Hold one another accountable.  Be humble.  And make allowance for one another.

When they don’t apologize

community

God has created us to live in community.  He gave us spouses in marriage, He gave us children in family units, He gave us neighbors to serve, He gave us the Church to love, and He gave us Himself from whom we draw all strength.  We all function in a variety of relationships, and when two sinners are in community there will be conflict, misunderstanding and hurt at some point.  Sometimes the offense is gross and must be dealt with through the normal means of confrontation, confession and forgiveness.  But what about those little things?  What about a miscommunication?  Must everything be addresses formally?

Scripture is exceedingly clear:  We, as spouses, as families, as community and as the Church must strive to live together in peace.  Our primary goal within the body is unity and peace.

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”

– Phil 2.1-2

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”

– 1 Peter 3.8-9

“Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

– 1 Cor 1.10

And if someone has sinned, we are commanded to call him to repentance for the sake of His soul.

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”

– Gal 6.1

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.  But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

– Matt 18.15-17

But what about that person who has not sinned, but has hurt our feelings?  What about when two people with good motives have a miscommunication?  What about those things that are merely preference or relational?

If our goal is peace and unity, then there will certainly be times that we must confront one another, even over relational issues.  But there will also be times that we simply let it go.  Scripture teaches us that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matt 22.39).  Some of us have hyper-sensitive consciences and beat ourselves up over every little word that we say.  But for the most part we are experts of excuses.  We can overlook our idiosyncrasies masterfully and often are blind to them.  Do you love your spouse that much?  To overlook his quirks that annoy you or step on your toes?  Scripture also teaches us that we should strive to outdo one another in showing honor (Rom 12.10).  If your brother, friend or fellow church member unknowingly offended you or said something in an abrasive manner, is it your heart’s response to seek to honor him all the more?  Are you in competition with him to see who can love and respect the other better?

Paul sums it up beautifully:

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

– Eph 4.1-3

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

– Col 3.12-13

In these two letters, Paul encourages the believers to show tolerance for one another in love, and to bear with one another.  These commands are separate and unique from forgiving one another, as he defines in his letter to the Colossians – that forgiveness requires a complaint against one another – assuming an offense associated with sin.  We ought not, for the sake of our souls, sweep sin under the rug.  If someone has sinned and we bore it witness, then we must call one another to repentance.  The Holy Spirit has been given to us for the purpose of recognizing sin:

“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…”

– John 16.8

The Holy Spirit within us will convict us of our own sin, but also the sins of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  I might have a blind spot in my life that I need my spouse or small group to point out, and if it is our goal as believers to be more Christlike, then this is a glorious and beautiful part of our community:  pushing one another on to holiness.

But there will also be times that I will rub someone the wrong way.  We have cultural microcosms within the greater culture of the United States, and northerners are known to be more direct and blunt while southerners are known to be more soft and relational.  These two cultures will undoubtedly misunderstand one another relationally and professionally when forced to interact.  Thus we are commanded to “bear with one another” and “show tolerance for one another in love”.  Most of these offenses will be completely one sided.  Since there is not sin factor at play, one party in relationship might find another annoying, or misunderstand the meaning or intention of another, but these are the types of quirks that can be overlooked or tolerated.

So what do we do?  How do we ford these relational waters?  In the spirit of unity and peace, we must consider one another better than ourselves and humbly examine the situation:

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

– Phil 2.3-4

When we die to ourselves and consider the other person, we ask these kinds of questions:  What happened?  Why am I hurt or upset?  Did he intend to offend me?  What is going on in his life that caused him to do or say what he did?  Did I offend him?

If we conclude that there is no sin that needs to be addressed in the situation, then we must ask ourselves, “Can I get over this?  Or do I need to talk it out?”  Some people need to talk things out to have resolution and closure.  Some people can bear with one another by extending a measure of grace and letting it go.  This is where we must know ourselves.  If you will become embittered against someone’s personality, then approach your brother in Christ and discuss what happened.  Do not let the spirit of bitterness take root in your life:

“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled…”

– Heb 12.15

Let us seek, therefore, to put one another first; to consider their needs, their personalities, their life circumstances.  Let us seek to grow in maturity and understand our own personalities:  do I need to talk through day-to-day miscommunications?  Or am I able to let things go without growing bitter?  Let us remember the command of Christ to die to ourselves, to be humble, to love our neighbor in the same manner that we love ourselves, and to outdo one another in showing honor.  Make it a friendly competition – in sincerity and love!  Challenge yourself!  How can I honor so-and-so today?  How can I push my spouse on to holiness?  How can I love my community in such a way that is selfless?  What quirks do I need to bear and tolerate?  And what quirks do we need to address for the sake of unity?

We do not always have to formally address every situation.  Sometimes we just love someone for who they are, and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Are you saved?

saved

What is it that consumes your thought life, your monies, your energy?  Jesus said that He came to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19.10), and as He left the world He gave us the Great Commission:  one last command that should be the goal of our lives – to make disciples of all the nations (Matt 28.18-20).  So if Jesus’ intention is to save, and His greatest desire for us is to be involved in His salvation process of the lost, then we can rightly judge our position with the Lord by assessing our hearts on the topic.

“Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that!”

– Charles Spurgeon

When Jesus first returned to Heaven there was an urgency amongst believers.  They believed that Jesus would return while they were still alive.  Thus they were selling all of their possessions, they were giving to the poor, they were working as a community to provide food, housing, and care for everyone so as to win as many as possible.  They were thinking of the world to come.  They were focused on eternity.  They were waiting for Jesus to return and planning for the next life, not this one.

Jesus saves out of love.  And He commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Therefore, what is the most loving thing that we can do for one another?  For our neighbors?  Pointing them to Jesus.  If we do not share the Gospel, if we do not warn our neighbors and friends of the coming judgment, we do not love them.  And if we do not love them, then our very salvation is in question.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

– 1 John 4.7-8

Do you think this is an over-application of this passage?  Then continue reading what John had to say:

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

– 1 John 4.8-11

If we can look at our neighbor and not care about His eternity, then we do not love Him, and Scripture teaches us that such a heart is not born again.  If we can look at our neighbor and affirm his destiny for Hell with the thought, “He deserves it”, then we do not grasp our own sinfulness and from what we have been saved, and we are not born again.  If we are apathetic about eternity, we have not been saved.  We cannot know God and love God and not long for eternity, grieve over sin, and long for others to be saved.

It was so important to Jesus that He died for it.  How important is it to you?

We live in a placating society in which we take drugs, seek counseling, and enforce the government to affirm our every decision and desire in order to fix a heart problem.  We are guilty, we are dissatisfied, and we are worthy of Hell.  We think that if we tell one another that “you deserve to be happy”, that it is our right to pursue happiness, that we are not that bad that we will feel better about ourselves.  But if you feel a twinge of conviction about sin, about apathy, about your lifestyle, do not seek out a counselor who will point out your strengths.  Seek out the Scripture and let God do surgery.  God can change us, He can sanctify us, and He can prepare us to meet him.  He can use us to accomplish His plan of salvation in other’s lives.  So today, let us take seriously that prodding of the Holy Spirit, set our minds on things above, and let us get busy about making disciples of all the nations:  loving our neighbors.

Go where you are sent, stay where you are put and do what you are asked.

quirks

People are funny.  We all have dispositions, quirks and idiosyncrasies and this naturally affects how we interact with God.  No two people will have the same relationship with God.  Thinkers, Type A personalities and Academics typically tend to enjoy reading the Scriptures, studying, learning the rules and expectations, and obeying.  Feelers, the left-brained and free spirits are usually more inclined to interact with God through prayer, music, being outside in creation and emotionally relating to God.  No one disposition is better than the other.  In fact, they are both weaknesses at their core.  Thinkers run the risk of being emotionally stunted and legalistic and feelers risk being uneducated and not knowing the Truths of and about God and being lax about sin.

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

 – Rom 12.3

God has allotted to every believer a measure of faith.  Each measure of faith is different.  And it is to the gift of faith that we will ultimately be held accountable.  I will not be held accountable to the measure of faith given to you, nor you to mine.  If God has called you to be a pastor in a minute community in rural Wyoming, and given you the grace to do so – it is by that calling and faith that you will be judged.  If God has called you to be a stay-at-home-mom in New York City and reach out to your neighbors, that is your stanard.  If God has called and enabled you to serve the lost in a foreign country, then you better get packing!

Major Ian Thomas was a British theologian, teacher and the founder of Torchbearers Bible Schools.  After spending seven exhausting years of trying to live for Christ, he came to an intimate exchange with God by which He realized that God wanted to live through Him.  It was less about serving God and more about being captivated by Him and the consequent actions were love for Him and the Spirit living through him.  After relinquishing control and allowing the Spirit to move and direct, he served in the British armed forces during WWII and then became an author and teacher.  He offered extremely simple advice in considering the Christian life:

Go where you are sent,
stay where you are put and
do what you are asked.

 – Major Ian Thomas

Some of us are homebodies that get comfortable and do not want to mix things up.  To those he says, “Go”!  God has called you to make disciples.  The only question you need to discern is, “where?”.  In your neighborhood?  In another state?  In another country?

But some of us like and thrive on change.  The thrill of starting fresh is exhilarating and we always think the grass is greener on the other side.  To those he says, “Stay!”.  There is no ideal place to serve God.  People are people.  They are messy, they will hurt you, and they need to learn.  If God has revealed to you a part of His heart and placed you in His service, then stay.  Put in the time, the effort and learn perseverance.

To all of us he says, “Do what you are asked”.  Jesus gave us clear and concise statutes for life:  Love God with everything you have.  Love your neighbor in the same exact way that you love yourself.  And make disciples, teaching them to obey and love Jesus.  Everything that Jesus instructed can be summed up in those three instructions.  Are you doing those three things?  Is your entire heart, mind and strength expended in your love for God?  Do you sacrificially love your friends and neighbors, putting their needs before your own?  Are you making disciples?

You have been given a measure of faith that is unique to you.  Do not squander it.  Do not hinder it.  Seek God and ask Him to empower you and enable you to fulfill it.  Love Him and let your actions be an outpouring of love for Him.  If He is sending you, then go!  If He has already placed you, then stay.  In everything, do what you are asked.  Love Him.  Love others.  Make disciples.

Does Jesus Want Me To Be Poor?

poverty

We’ve all heard the popular teaching of Joel Osteen and the promises of the Health and Wealth Gospel.  Preachers on TV are promising us that God wants us to be happy, healthy and rich.  The level of faith that we have directly parallels our financial and personal success.  The Prayer of Jabez, after all, is an example of praying for our own personal prosperity and God blessed him and called him righteous, right?

The opposite extreme sprinkled throughout evangelicalism today looks at the Church in large.  They consider the Persecuted Church, they examine revivals, history, and the overall nature of the Church to say that no, Jesus is not concerned with making us rich, but that He wants us to give to the poor and to live a simple life.  Ultimately they become various levels of ascetics.

So.  Does Jesus want us to be rich?  Or does Jesus want us to be poor?

We are called to be stewards.  

“And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few.  From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”

– Luke 12.47-48

This passage is extremely familiar.  Surprisingly, however, it is speaking about actions and not finances.  It is a principle that applies over and onto finances, but God is concerned about our hearts.  Jesus Himself said that all of the Law was summed up in these two: love God above all else and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22.37-39).  If we love God above all else, then our talents, our time and our finances will be spent to His glory and honor.  If we love our neighbor as ourselves, we help meet their needs, we put them above ourselves and glorify God with our time, energy and finances.

Paul makes the very clear assessment of our abilities (which again, applies to finances):

For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

– 1 Cor 4.7

But most fundamentally we all know that,

“The Earth is the Lord’s and everything it contains.”

– 1 Cor 10.26

It all belongs to God.  Everything.  Including money.  So whatever you have – gifts, talents, finances, freedom, slavery, jobs, family – it is all God’s.  And He has allowed us to use it for a season.  We are stewards of His belongings.

For my ascetic friends, I would like to point out the fact that many of our forefathers were among the richest men who ever lived.  Solomon was worth, in today’s dollar, approximately 100 billion dollars.  That is substantially more than Bill Gates’ worth.  David, Abraham, Joseph, Jacob and many others were granted physical and financial wealth in the roles that God gave them.

For my rich friends, I would like to point out the fact that the very humility exemplified by the creator of the universe was to leave the throne of glory and come to Earth, living without even a place to lay his head.  He kept minimal possessions and when He sent the disciples out to serve Him, they were to rely on the hospitality of others for their sustenance.

Our responsibility is stewardship of what God has given us.  When we consider our finances, let’s ask this simple question, “Is God glorified in this?”  When you stand before God on judgment day, will you be ashamed of how you spent your money?  Or your time?  Will you be proud of the toys, the clothes, the house, the comforts that you bought?  Or will you know that you gave sacrificially to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and put one another’s needs above your own?  Will you look back and find that your finances served God or you?

I used to wrestle with giving money to beggars.  I always wondered for what they would use the money.  But one day I realized that God would hold him accountable for how he used the help that he received.  He would only hold me accountable for my willingness to help.  I am confident that I will not stand before Him and He say, “You should not have given that money to that beggar.  You should have bought a new shirt with it instead.”  Now, if God has given you the mind and ability to help the homeless establish themselves in jobs and fight addictions such that they are able to feed themselves, and all you do is throw a twenty in their cup, there might be something to answer for.  But that is between you and God.

Jesus was comfortable with a woman pouring out extremely expensive perfume on his feet.  There are times for extravagance in the worship of Almighty God.  Jesus does not say that to follow Him we must be poor.  In fact, He says that we are to care for the poor.  So we must be stable enough to be able to give in order to care for the poor.

It’s about our heart.  We must be satisfied in God alone, and consider His provisions as tools to serve and glorify Him.

“…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

– Phil 4.11-13

What is your expertise?

“You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.”

– Mark 7.9

Jesus came to the Earth thousands of years after God gave His Law to the Hebrew people through Moses.  The Law was extensive.  It covered what kinds of food the people should eat, what kinds of clothing, how to pray, when to pray, when people were considered unclean to pray.  It gave directives for marriage, keeping slaves, inheriting land, lending and borrowing, consequences for stealing, adultery, and all of the other commandments.  This era of the faith is commonly known as the “Old Covenant”.  When Jesus came, He shattered the traditional way of thinking.  He was very clear that He did not come to take away the Law.  In fact, he said that not a single dot of an i would pass away from the Law until Heaven and Earth pass away (Matt 5.18).  But He did come to fulfill the Law in the sense that He was the final and perfect sacrifice for sin.  All sacrifices beforehand were pointing forward to Jesus and His work of atonement on the cross.

Jesus’ purpose on Earth was to glorify God by defeating sin.  He was concerned with every kind of sin.  He was concerned with adultery, idolatry, stealing, cheating, pride, arrogance, self-sufficience, false piety and every other ungodly thought and action.  The religious leaders of the day get a bad rap because Jesus called them out boldly for keeping the letter of the Law without keeping the Spirit of the Law.  Sometimes we forget that He confronted all sin and interacted with any sinner who would repent:  pious or morally debased.  The two “highest commandments” by which we still commanded to live are the two primary commandments on which all of the Law was based:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

– Deut 6.5, Matt 22.37

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

– Lev 19.18, Matt 22.39

We can and should test all of our habits and traditions against these two commandments.  Every. Single. Habit.  What do we practice and believe that is man-generated?  What do we consider holy that is not of God at all?  At church recently, my pastor pointed out that when we entertain sin there is a progressive hardening that occurs.  What hardness is in our heart culturally?  Familially?  Traditionally?  When that hardening goes unchecked, we end up with a heart of stone and become, as Jesus says, experts in setting aside God’s commandments in order to maintain our thought processes, traditions, guilty pleasures, whatever.  We justify ourselves.  And we are really good at it.

And sometimes our traditions squelch others.  Paul calls the one bound to religious tradition the “weaker brother” (Rom 14).  But the stronger brother is to take the initiative to look out for the weaker brother and offer no cause for stumbling.  So if a friend or fellow believer’s conscience is burdened by something that Scripture does not define as sin, then the one who is free in his spirit should honor the one who is burdened.  Thus Paul says he became all things to all people (1 Cor 9.19-23).  He offered no cultural, religious or traditional grounds for stumbling – all for the sake of furthering the Gospel.

Are you setting aside the commandments of God in order to keep a habit or tradition that you love, cherish or hoard?  What do you justify in your life?  A small sin?  A white lie?  Let us be willing to throw everything that we think and feel aside for the sake of knowing and honoring God.  Let us become experts as dying to self, at setting aside our feelings and traditions to keep the commands of God.

expertsonly

The Music War.

organ

Music.

We have split churches over it.  We have split services over it.  Young people, come on Saturday night and we will play your music, and senior citizens come at 8:00am because you get up early anyway and we will play the hymns with the organ.  We get mad at each other for it, we choose a church based on it.  Sometimes we even build our churches completely around it!

Ok people.  We’re all guilty.  You don’t like drums, I don’t like repetition, he doesn’t like hymns, she doesn’t like that new contemporary guy.

Whatever.

When these disputes arise, we have completely forgotten the central foundation of the Church:

Church is not about me, and it is not about you.

What are the two commandments on which all of Christianity is built?

  1. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength (Deut 6.5, Matt 22.37).
  2. You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19.18, Matt 22.39).

Church is about God.  To praise Him, worship Him, to learn about Him and push one another on to love and know Him.  Music at church should be based on those two commandments.  You can test it by them.  Does it honor God?  Does it speak truths about Him?  Does it exemplify His greatness?  Does it rejoice in Him?  If the music is Biblically sound and if it glorifies God, do you know what the next question is that we should ask and consider?

Does my neighbor like it?  And does it help him to praise God?

Whoa.  Yes, that is a radical thought.  I personally love the hymns, ancient and modern.  I am a classically trained pianist, I grew up with liturgy and I am a thinker.  The depth of the hymns, the tradition of the music and the simple fact that so many of the hymns tell the story of redemption in the completion of the verses just makes my heart want to burst in praise for God.  In love.  To me they are SO good.  But I know many people who are feelers, and like contemporary rock.  Singing “I love you” repeatedly to a sustained chord of an electric guitar ushers them into the presence of the Spirit, without the theological depths that get my spirit engaged.  So the Biblical response for me, when I think about loving my neighbor must be:  Let’s sing the songs and the style that my neighbor enjoys because I want him to meet with and commune with God today.

We must also remember that music is not worship.  Pouring out our heart before God in the form of song, when done to His glory is worship.  But so is helping others to pour out praise from their hearts.  So is preaching and listening to the teaching of the Word.  So is serving lunch at the luncheon in love.  So is training your children to love and know God.  So is reading your Bible and communing with Him on your own.  So is eating, drinking, working and playing unto God, in the name of Christ .  Worship should be our lifestyle, and if we delegate a season of ten to twelve minutes on Sunday morning in church before the sermon as our time for worship, we have stunted our Spiritual ability and are incapable of worshiping in that moment.  We are then choosing a church because they play the music we like and we are enjoying our definition of good music.  It makes us feel food.  It is about me.  And in reality I am worshiping myself.

This is not an issue of right and wrong.  One form of music is not morally or spiritually better than another – as long as it is Biblically sound.  It must be in accord with Scripture.

The Spirit in me is not going to disagree with the Spirit in you.  If I can put my desires aside and love God and love you, the Spirit will unite us in Truth.  Because He is Truth.  Are drums of the devil?  I would challenge traditionalists to consider the history of the symphony and the variety of instruments utilized to play the masses and hallmarks of our faith – like the tympani!  Is repetition brainless?  Please read Psalm 118.  Are the hymns and traditional southern gospel closest to God’s heart?  Please tell me one person in today’s culture who can sing, without giggling, “Nobody can do me like Jesus”.

I do believe that God desires and deserves our best, even when it comes to music.  He did, after all, create music.  All of His instructions for the tabernacle and temple were to do be done skillfully.  But that is another topic for another place.  Here.

Let’s die to ourselves.  Let’s love one another.  Let’s consider our brothers and sisters and the music that engages their hearts and facilitates an expression of their hearts to God in worship.  Do you have a music leader at your church?  Trust his leadership to have a finger on the heartbeat of the church, and praise God.  In spirit and in truth.  In love.  In music.  In honoring one another.  And in so glorifying God.