A good bro. with an .edu email address just wrote me an encouraging note about music we’ve done and so forth. Very kind words.He also asked about another bro. who had taken a “no contemporary music” stance re. his Christian walk, and asked me what I thought about the individual’s writings whom the other bro. had been influenced by (there are more writers than the one he mentioned but I’m not going to name names as it’s largely irrelevant). Here is my response to him via email today, Christmas Day in fact 🙂 Blessings All!”Thanks so much (name withheld) for your kind words here.My most basic reply to the speaker/writer you mention and the sort of views that he voices is that if one truly reads the whole of Scripture, focuses on the 380 verses in context (exegesis, not eisegesis) that speak directly to the issue of music (340 OT, 40 NT) you will find little support or rejection for any specific, particular style of music.Lyrics are a different matter, one’s own character and lifestyle are a different matter- and these are both HUGE and spoken about all over The Bible. But if the issue is music, as in anything else for the Christian disciple- one must go to The Word of God for a solid foundation re. any given music style being spoken of as sinful or holy. The text is fully silent on this particular point, and it is THE point people seem to often focus on and pontificate about in such speaking and writing.Sadly, though the Word is often quoted in these discussions, it is rarely if ever quoted in context regarding music itself, and that is -the- issue!I truly doubt those who have led people to saving faith in Jesus Christ will have to apologize in heaven regardless of the music style they may have played in the process of either evangelism, worship or discipleship.As a seasoned old saint once said, “It’s incredible how much light the Scriptures shed on the commentaries!”Ps. 101.1Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year of service to Jesus,-Glenn”
Walking around our huge garage and warehouse area at JPUSA I found a few old beaten-up pieces of wood… just what I needed!See, Wendi bought a “flying cardinal” bird thingee with wings and strings at a yard sale. I hadn’t seen one of these for many years, just the sort of thing you’d see in someone’s yard out in the country in Wisconsin where I grew up.The wings flap when the wind is high enough. You hang ’em in trees, below a line or under a pole in gardens and such. Nice little decoration for Cornerstone Farm for us and a few friends… and makes a cool little Christmas gift for those who like such a thing.But to look at these bits of wood right now… nada! Holes, here and there, a few nails to be pulled. No paint or a bit of dull paint, chiped here and there, a few cracks.What I see in this stuff are 3 or so of these cool birds.I love cardinals. They happen to be at Cstone Farm, and in fact are the state bird of Illinois. Bright screeming red. Shy but just beautiful creatures that again remind me of God, His love and even Jesus’ blood that makes us whole. What an imagination God has to create such incredible creatures!So I don’t see crummy pieces of junk wood- I have a vision of what they can be, and even given as gifts to a few folks who I know will appreciate and enjoy them.I have my tools, string, eyelets and wood all ready to go. I have a pattern from the “yard sale bird” and tomorrow I’ll begin tracing, cutting, sanding, gluing and painting. This is going to be fun…Dear reader: God sees us- some of us quite banged-up, with cracks, dust and dirt, maybe somewhat warped… and He sees what we can and will be in His timing if we will let Him put His hands on us and do the carving, shaping and sanding. When He’s finished we will be a full-on masterpiece! That’s the Greek word Paul uses that’s often translated “workmanship” in Ephesians. A better translation into English is “masterpiece”.Meanwhile, we don’t always feel, look or act like mature, finished material. Sort of like very used, rough 1/4 inch plywood that one has to have a heart and eyes with vision to see anything good or potentially beautiful in.May God give us His eyes for ourselves- and those around us. Certainly, the best gift is Jesus and the love of God He brought and brings. His was and is the most special birth in the whole history of the human race. God came down as a human being.Christmas is a time to celebrate Him, love and family. It’s a time for gifts. Perhaps the best gift to God is yourself.Give… and keep your eyes open. You have no idea what a wonderful gift you can become to Him and others via His loving hands.It’s no exaggeration to say a huge part of His work is about transformation.
A few days ago I had a blast fellowshipping with a pastor friend of mine and we got to talking about how important and powerful Jesus’ words are in John chapter 17. The topic was (and is) unity- between ourselves and God, within the Trinity, between one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.I was reminded of a bit of study and writing I’d done a short time ago, and thought I had put down comments on a large portion of the chapter. Upon looking through my files, I found and then did a final edit on my thoughts, but it turned out I had only focused on one verse in John 17.But oh how pregnant with meaning this verse proves to be!Jesus prays in John 17.17 “Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth.”I have pondered and quoted this verse for many years but perhaps it’s time I comment on some of what by my understanding are the implications of His prayer.First we must not lose sight of the fact that Jesus deeply loves His disciples, that He fully knows He is about to leave their world, that they will be tempted, hated, persecuted and some martyred for their faith in Him.Consider that Jesus prays perfect prayers, completely within the desire and will of the Father, and that He not only knows what Abba wants but what His disciples need in order to do God’s will. It is both clear and safe to conclude Jesus knows they will need both the Holy Spirit and what He calls truth. We shall see this as we consider this part of His prayer in depth.The term “sanctify” refers to God’s own nature- pure, undefiled, absolutely holy!The Greek word translated into English “holy” in the view of a number of scholars is not fully possible to understand, but all agree it has to do with the essential character and attitude of God.Here, Jesus prays the Father will do something for them: to give, transmit, impart His core nature of separateness, of being different and apart from others only as God and His Own people can be. That they would be “set apart’ for intimate, genuine, transforming relationship with Him. They are then always “in contrast” with those who do notfollow Jesus.Jesus goes on to proclaim to the Father in prayer what Father, Son and Spirit already know, namely the way of God’s sanctifying His disciples. Part of the process is not only in Paul’s Old Testament quote- God commands His people to “BE holy for I am holy” -but that through Jesus, the perfect sacrificial Lamb they are and shall be holy, set apart from the rest of the world.The true Christian lives in both the “now” as well as the “not yet”. We are and shall be made holy by the grace and actual moving of the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of holiness) in our life.In John 14.6 Jesus says He himself is the way, the truth and the life. He is God the Son, Truth Incarnate.Jesus is the Word made flesh, therefore we are literally sanctified through Christ the Living Word. John chapter one tells us He is the Living Word in human form. All the Father desires as revealed in The Bible Jesus is and does. He is Perfectly Perfect, without flaw. Note though, only Jesus alone is what we might term “fully, entirely sanctified”.Further, it not only is but Shall Be that as we listen (Greek: “disciple” is a listener and learner) and apply God’s Word in daily choices, decisions and relationships we shall become more like the Lord- holy.The sanctification of the believer happens by God’s power and grace through Jesus. It is also accomplished via our knowledge and application of His will which He reveals to us in His Word, that is, The Bible which is the Word of God.Our heavenly Father’s actions are always consistent with His character: holy, pure, righteous. He calls His children to be like Him in this way, in our daily practice. Holiness, sanctification, is not only given us by God through Jesus Christ, it is our daily practice just as it is His.The Bible’s apostle Paul illuminates several of these truths:Ephesians 421 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.Though no one but God knows all Truth absolutely, Jesus is stating as fact the essentiality for His followers to really know and apply God’s Word to our lives. He clearly, plainly states God’s Word IS truth, not whim, mere concept, perspective or mythology but actual truth.So we understand Jesus is praying that the nature of God would be deposited in us via Father, Son and Holy Spirit Whom Jesus had just referred to as “the Spirit of truth”. This, too is consistent in that the Spirit Who is God, imparts holiness and truth. The Spirit also brought us the Scriptures (“God-breathed”) which are true, indeed a revelation of God’s thoughts in written form.Part of the holy nature of God is revealed in this: He cannot and does not lie. He interacts relationally in utter truthfulness and with complete integrity always. Holy and True is Who He is.Our heavenly Father calls us- His children, to be LIKE Him, holy and faithful and true in all our thoughts, words, actions and relationships for this is precisely Who and how He is.