Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Desperate Cry For Holiness And Purity In Modern Christian Worship

Worship in American churches has evolved into something that gives little thought or reverence to a God Who is holy and to be feared and reverenced.  

Worship has become an activity more akin to a secular rock music concert than a solemn, spiritual activity of adoring hearts and humble souls.   

Sadly, the focus of “worship” has become a question of what is satisfying to the participant and pleasing to the audience, rather than what honors the God of Heaven.  

Rather than active participants in worship, the church in America has relegated its membership to the status of an audience that watches, rather than engages in worship and praise. (source)

I was in a big Christian conference recently. The big stage, various spot lights, an earsplitting roar and beat sounds in the dark crowded hall....from outside, one cannot distinguish whether it is a rock concert or a Christian meeting.

One devout sister reproved me for my distressing remark and said gently that she does not like this kind of atmosphere and the music personally as well, but she affirmed it anyway because she said "there is a good spirit in it and there are good fruits out of their worship." 

And she added that it is a "style" issue so it is better we say "It is not my 'style' instead of "it is wrong." Yes, it is true that we should not mix our personal music taste with biblical validity issue, but even that did not remove my inner distress and cry that something is wrong here !!

Yes, there are serious compromises in CCM.
Yes, they do fellowship with worldly rockers.
Yes, CCM has some spiritual problems — but
I’ve seen them mention Jesus.
I’ve seen them give ‘altar calls’.
I’ve seen them do good.....

The CCM worship.

'Most “Christian” music is taken from the secular world. Whether it is the music of Broadway musicals, Country Western, Las Vegas ballad crooners or light rock or heavy rock and roll it’s secular not sacred. 

When you then add sacred words to the secular music there is a natural disconnect. That’s why so much Christian music (even when it is well written and well performed) doesn’t really work. 

Oh sure, people might like it. They might even have nice feelings about Jesus by listening to it, but the secular music was designed to produce certain types of feelings, and why should those warm sentimental feelings or hard emotional feelings be linked with worship?' (source)

Do you know that many sincere, god-fearing muslim seekers consider this kind of worship as blasphemy to the Holy God? Having served among them for more than 10 years, I testify to you with tears that it is one of the heart-piercing tragedies that sincere seekers have got stumbled by our so-called "Christian" worship and countless souls have left Christian church forever as a result---without encountering with Jesus Christ!

I have also witnessed that sincere Catholic believers/seekers in France and Germany find it difficult to find Jesus in the evangelical churches because of the same reason. How can we, as God's witnesses to the gentiles, answer Him at the last day, -- if "our" way of worshiping God like this, have virtually closed the door of heaven to the seeking souls?

Next year is the 500th anniversary of Protestant reformation. Our spiritual ancestors have fought the fight of faith without compromise. Many had lost their life for proclaiming and preserving the bible truth such as Sola Scriptura, Justification by faith alone, believers' baptism, the priesthood of all believers and so forth.

Has the reformation ended? Do we need to go back to our roots once again? O Lord, help us and give mercy upon us! 

When the Entertainment God Comes to Church by Don Currin  

   Image result for michael w smith concert      

Are we amusing the mixed multitude?

And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.
Psalm 40:3

Only Christianity affirms the relationship between its founder and followers with a song. Where there is an absence of song, there is an absence of the Son. One of the assurances of conversion is the song that Christ places in the heart of the believer. The nature of the Lord's song is revealed in the character of His children.

In David's inspired testimony, he says, “he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God.” Praise characterizes the song of God. There is nothing more noteworthy of Christ's composition in the heart of a redeemed sinner than adoration. Christians have a sense of being out of tune with God when their walk ceases to show forth the praises of Him Who hath called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. While the lyrics may vary from life to life, the outstanding note of Christ's song is praise.

William Cowper expressed his heart of undaunted praise for God when he penned the words-

The dearest idol I have known,
Whateer that idol be,
Help me to tear it from thy throne,
And worship only thee.

The Lord's song has called us to an everlasting preoccupation with Him and we will not be content until we yield to its influence.

Another characteristic of the Lord's song is sacredness. In Psalm 137:1-4, the harpists of Israel were required to perform His song before a people who were bent on entertainment. Desiring to be amused, they commanded these musicians to sing them a song of Zion. Esteeming the Lord's song sacred, these harpists refused to play before these idolaters.

Tragically, in the process of accommodating the demand of contemporary culture that would rather be amused than confronted about their sin, these churches have become more concerned with entertaining the goats than feeding the sheep. This ecclesiastical compromise has led to grievous repercussions in the Church. A.W. Tozer warned in his book The Root of the Righteous:

Related image

For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was-a device for wasting time, a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience, a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability. For this she got herself abused roundly by the sons of the world. 

But of late she has become tired of the abuse and has given over the struggle. She appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god Entertainment she may as well join forces with him and make whatever use she can of his powers. So today we have the astonishing spectacle of having millions of dollars being poured into the unholy job of providing earthly entertainment for the so-called sons of heaven. Religious entertainment is in many places crowding out the serious things of God. Many churches these days have become little more than poor theaters where fifth rate producers peddle their shoddy wares with the full approval of evangelical leaders who can even quote a holy text in defense of their delinquency.

Sadly, much of the contemporary music that is presented today does not promote the loftiness of the Creator. Rather it humanizes God, magnifies self, and paves the way for a feel good religion. Of the tragic consequences that have resulted, contempt for the Lord's song heads the list. Many church leaders seem to go to any extent to make the song of the Redeemer more palatable to the sensual taste of the lost. 

John Chrysostom warned, “Everything must be banished which recalls the cult of pagan gods and the songs of actors.While noted hymn writer Fanny Crosby admonished, “It is never right to take the lyrics of Zion and put them to the tune of Babylon”.

In his article Music in Worship: Demanding a Distinction, Lenny Seidel wrote, “The church has capitulated to a reversal of emphasis in worship: the focus is now on the individual worshiper rather than on a holy God who is the object of worship. The result is a flood of music characterized by weak theology and designed to make people feel good. The issue is that the gospel should not be presented in an entertainment mode. The reason is that the gospel is about a person-the Lord Jesus Christ-and nothing about His like was entertaining.

With the increased temptation to lower God's standard in music, let us wage war against the God of this age who would seek to bring contempt upon the Lord's song. Let us resolve to guard the sacredness of that holy song by protecting our worship services from music that appeals to the flesh and “serves and worships the creature more than the Creator. Let us strive to preserve the sacredness of the Lord's song that Christ may receive the preeminence that He rightly deserves.

related articles;

Recovery of the reverence and solemnity in our Christian worship: My personal reflections

Why CCM Leads to the Emerging Church pt 1 by Pastor David Cloud
Why CCM Leads to the Emerging Church pt 2 by Pastor David Cloud

The Rhythm of Rock (Lecture series by Pastor Graham West)
These five videos will help bring clarity to the whole area of music discernment. They teach about a unique kind of syncopation that Pastor West calls “beat anticipation.” Each video builds on the previous one, analysing, illustrating and defining this rhythmic device in precise musical terms. Clear illustrations of how beat anticipation engenders sensual body movements are given.
Music and Your Church (Lecture series by Pastor Graham West)
These five messages expose CCM for what it really is, an unbiblical form of rebellious, counterfeit worship. The last message offers practical advice to parents and pastors on how to guide their young people through the musical maze of subtle and not so subtle dangers.


Regina said...

I so agree with you dear sister. I attend a church that uses CCM but have to go because that's what my family likes. Satan has deceived the church into thinking that rock music in church is acceptable. Ugh!
God bless you Kinuko! I ordinarily would be in church right now but I have a yucky cold and I thought it wise not to share it with everyone.😷

Kinuko H said...

Dear Regina, thank you for your comment. Honestly, I don't want to write such an article, because it is really offensive to some of our dear brothers and sisters in Christ. I do want to respect people's own tastes and inclinations. However, when we see with our own eyes that precious souls who have once knocked the church door, have left it in dismay because of our way of worship, then I cannot be silent about it. However, for the sake of fairness, I'd like to quote the other side of the argument as well. It is from

p.s. I hope you get well soon, dear Regina. Ginger-honey tea makes you good:)

Kinuko H said...

Question: "Contemporary Christian music - is it honoring to God? Should it be used in church services?"

Answer: The question of contemporary Christian music (CCM) and whether it is God-honoring and appropriate for worship services is one that has been debated for decades. Oddly enough, what should be a source of loveliness and peace—the sweet strains of music—very often produces among Christians hostile disagreements over selections in worship music.

In fact, it has become a leading cause of congregational infighting and even church splits! To our shame, there are believers who sulk and fume from their pews if their particular brand of musical taste is not satisfied. Studies in churches are showing that music ministers are among the most stressed people in Christian ministry.

Musical tastes are as varied as church members themselves. There are those who love the old hymns while others much prefer more contemporary Christian music. Some music ministers have attempted to appease everyone by blending the old with the new. Other churches offer two separate worship services each Sunday—one being traditional and the other a contemporary service. Still, there are churches that tenaciously cling to old-fashioned tradition.

A local pastor is fond of bragging, "You won't hear any contemporary Christian music in our church! We remain true to the old hymns!" What he fails to realize is that even the old hymns were "contemporary" when they were first written. In contrast, there are churches in which the music is played at an ear-splitting volume resembling that of an armored vehicle crossing a minefield.

There are those who argue the old hymns are a tangible link to our past. This is certainly true, for these hymns have surely withstood the test of time. Many of the old hymns, too, are rich in Christian doctrine. The lyrics of Charles Wesley or Martin Luther, as examples, give magnificent instruction in sound Christian theology.

But there are also some wonderful Christian artists glorifying the name of Christ Jesus with their talents right now. Far too often we allow our own personal taste in music to become the standard for what music is glorifying to God. Instead, we should allow, even promote, Christian freedom and grace in musical preferences. Our primary concern should be for well-being and harmony in the body of Christ, and sometimes that means subordinating personal preferences to the greater good.

People are always asking if drums or keyboards or, yes, if electric guitars belong in the church. All musical instruments are, in themselves, neither good nor bad. So the question is this: Does a piece of music edify believers while bringing honor and glory to Christ Jesus?

If so, then what difference does it make if the accompaniment is provided by a piano or a guitar? Perhaps Ephesians 5:19 is the answer to this issue in that it promotes worshipping the Lord and encouraging other believers in three different "styles" of music: "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord."

Anonymous said...

I think that it is a problem of spirit.Which kind of spirit the music has.Some churches refuse to sing any new songs to avoid to be worldly. I do not agree with them.As I wrote in the article about Mission Timothee's praise music,it can restrict the bible order to sing new songs to the Lord.

By many people new praise songs which are not like christian rock music are creating nowadays.I think that it is question not of style but of what kind of spirituality it has.


Kinuko H said...

Dear Sanae, thank you for your insightful comment. Yes, you are right in saying that the problem is not of "style" but of the "spirituality." And the core issue lies right here: Is Music Amoral? If the answer is "YES, music is amoral," meaning, "Music is the medium, not the message," then, of course, we don't need to discuss any of these issues. It is done.

On the other hand, if our answer is, "NO, music is moral," and "Music does not require lyrics in order to have meaning," then, we really have to deal with these issues seriously.

Oh, by the way, I totally agree with the author of the that;

"We remain true to the old hymns!" .....What he fails to realize is that even the old hymns were "contemporary" when they were first written."

"But there are also some wonderful Christian artists glorifying the name of Christ Jesus with their talents right now."

Moreover, as you wisely and correctly said, if we refuse to sing "new songs" to the Lord regardless of the clear commands of God, then I believe that we are virtually violating His commands.


As regards to this point, I had a wonderful spiritual experience recently and I'd like to share it with you:)

A dear friend of mine is singing/chanting/praying 4-10 various Psalms every day in her private prayer life. I asked her to sing one Psalm and she did it for me over the phone. Oh, my! It was so unearthly and beautiful that I was totally charmed by it. Then I asked her; "what is that melody? Can I download it through youtube or something?" She answered; "No, it is not on youtube. The Lord gave this melody to me now." "Now!??" "Yes, every day I chant/sing Psalms and each time, the Lord gives me new melodies." Wow, I was so amazed! So, she is singing new songs to the Lord indeed!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful testimony!! I remembered Xiao Min,the author of Canaan Hymns.Maybe you had already watched this documentary about her.
Nowadays canaan hymns are more than 1000 songs,many chinese believers all over the world sing them.
If you have opportunity,please tell her about Xiao Min!

I learned a lot from many hymns all over the world.
Some people point out that repeating short lylics,poor in spirituality as problems of CCM praise songs.
Repeating short lylics is also seen in traditional orthodox hymns,black gospel and spirituals.But in many cases I did not feel poor in spirituality by these hymns.
It maybe only my opinion,but there may be some difference.

Off course difference also depends on us, worshipper's spirituality, not only by music.Yes,we chirtians have to check ourselves also in worship.I feel that music was made for praising Him first of all.


Kinuko H said...

Dear Sanae, thank you for sharing with us about Xiao Min! She is a wonderful song writer and a worshiper. Oh, by the way, when I was in Japan, I heard the Christian song below and felt at home. I assume that it was composed by a Japanese believer, right?

I felt a Japanese sensitivity in this melody. Sanae, just look at the comment section on this Video, there are encouraging comments from believers from various nations! This fact indicates me that when we are original and real as we are in His creation and rejoice in His providence, there springs up a joyful message which transcends national and ethnic boundaries!

Caro said...

The story of your friend who is singing psalms everyday and always got a new melody from the Lord is incredibly beautiful and amazing ! Thank you for sharing this story !

As I was reading this post, I watch the video that give an example of CCM. Earlier in the day I had told my brother that there is a pagan band that is becoming more and more famous on youtube and who are producing distasteful music with so immoral content.
So my brother just walk behind me as I was watching the CCM video, and he ask me "is that the band you told me about ?"...
So a Christian band can be mixed up with a terrible pagan band and people think there is nothing wrong ?

Anonymous said...

Yes,this song was originally written for MEBIG,kid's church program for protestnat churches which many churches joins.MEBIG started in Japan,nowadays there are also in Taiwan,Korea,Philippines,Indonesia.

I also read comments,so encouraging.I noticed one user translated its lylic into Mandarin.

I like this song,too.I could not find its music sheet,so I wrote down the lylic to my notebook(which I showed you in Japan!)several years ago.

When I listen Japanese christian hymns on youtube,I often notice that users from other countries left comments.Some famous Japanese hymns were translated into other languages,sung in churches of other countries.

New praise songs have been created also in Asia,Africa,Middle east,Latin America.Off course in Japan.
Is'nt it amazing that God gives inspiration to christian people to create new songs even in the countries which have so few christians?

From Europe,America,many beautiful hymns have been created.They are translated into many languages,sung in many countries.

May true worship be recovered in our churches,let us sing new songs truly for praising you,not for our entertainment.


Kinuko H said...

Dear Caro and Sanae (part 1)

Good morning, my ladies! Thank you so much for your wonderful comments. Last night, as I was lying on the bed, I remembered the tears of our sister B...when the pastor in her church started to introduce rock music in his church and placed the CD jacket of the rock band (QUEEN) on the pulpit screen,,,then how she went home, riding her bicycle...crying miserably.

Caro, when I shared my heart and concern with a wife of the executive committee, God reminded me of the scene when you were standing at the back of the church, while the people were dancing and singing. Then...being unable to endure it any more, you collapsed on the floor and cried out to the Lord for help in your deep distress and sorrow. Then He reminded me of our dear sister M, who is no longer in the evangelical church.

Kinuko H said...

Sanae, today's devotional verse was this; "Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day." Psalm 96:2. And then I read your comment and my soul was thrilled and uplifted!

Caro, both Sanae and I love the song, "Si jesus quelqu'un veut te suivre" (composed by Mission Timothee, France) and I am wondering if you can upload it on youtube, if it is possible?

If you can do it, then, I will introduce it on this English blog with the translation which you've done it for us before:) Then, Sanae can translate it into Japanese because she knows both French and English!!! (Sanae, can you?) Wow, I am getting excited!

p.s. Ladies, I have some visitors from overseas and we will go to serve in a church in Thessaloniki this week and more, so, see you later. Hugs and kisses, Kinuko

Sabine Klein said...

Dear Kinuko and sisters posting here,

just yesterday I found this wonderful, godly music on youtube. It is actually from an A Capella Gospel Sing and mainly Mennonites are singing. I just thought that you would maybe enjoy that:

It is encouraging to read your posts and to find fellow believers who share same convictions. :)

With love in CHRIST,


Anonymous said...

Thank you,Sabine! Sorry I could not open this link of youtube here.(I think that it is because of security soft of my PC.) Can I ask you the title of the song,please? Then I'll search it.

I also like mennonite's singing hymns,their simplicity and pureness in worship.

God bless you and our brethren in Germany abundantly!


Anonymous said...

Dear Kinuko,Caro's English translation is very accurate,so I think you can translate the lylic from her English translation into Japanese. Sorry,I'm not a good translater,I'd just learned French basic reading only,need to study more!

Stories you shared about Caro and other sisters gave me a shock.I may not still understand exactly how seriously sincere believers in western church are suffering by this problem.Sometimes I imagine, if highly modern CCM songs are only praise music I know,how I would feel.I guess I would feel starving for something profound.

Caroline,I was struck by your sincerity to face this problem.I guess that for many young christians,it's so difficult to notice it.Because church pop culture is so common nowadays,loved by many people.

Dear sisters,God be with you always wherever you are.
Thank you for sharing.


Sabine Klein said...

Dear Sanae,
here is another link. I hope it works. :)

With love in CHRIST, Sabine

Jessica R said...

Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. YOU WILL KNOW THEM BY THEIR FRUITS" (Matthew 7:15-16a).

If the Spirit of God is involved, people will evidence these fruits: "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).

If the spirit of the world is involved, people will evidence these fruits: "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like" (Galatians 5:19-21a).

I have heard "Christian" music that involved angry yelling and furiously fast drum beats. It did not sound joyful, peaceful, gentle, or self-controlled at all. Is sounded like an outburst of wrath. I do not believe the Spirit of God was involved in that music.

Likewise, it seems to me that some Christian music groups have selfish ambitions. They say they want to glorify God -- so why are their faces the ones on all the posters and album covers? And some of the women dress in provocative, "lewd" ways.

At this point, I do not consider all CCM to be bad or ungodly. I enjoy listening to our local Christian radio station which broadcasts mostly CCM. I do think that all instruments are allowable; it is the way they are played that makes the difference. So, the words are important, the beat is important, the tone is important, and the moral condition of the people playing the music is important (though we are not always able to know their spiritual state by just hearing their song on the radio). I believe all of those aspects must be taken into account, so that we judge the music as a whole.

Just as importantly, is the outcome of that music: so, are people drawn to God? Or, does it distract from God? Does it help people to live a more godly life? Or, does it keep them stuck where they are, in worldliness, but with the added poison of causing them to believe that they are growing, when they are not?

I think that there is some CCM that may fit the "godly fruit" category, while there is some CCM that may better fit the "fleshly fruit" category. We must ask God for discernment.

Thank you for publishing your thoughts and feelings about this, Kinuko! I have greatly enjoyed reading your post, and have benefitted both from your article and all the thoughtful comments the ladies have offered.

Anonymous said...

Thank you,Sabine,I could reach their youtube channel from the site.I like their acappela singing!


Anonymous said...

Jessica,I agree with you that all CCM songs are not bad,ungodly.CCM contains so many type of music,not only rock style.And I think refusing all new hymns is not biblical.

We are required to have spiritual descrimination to see their fruits,and have truth-seeking mind also in worship.

I heard that some of CCM music(especially highly modern ones) was made for opposing worldly pop/rock music or replacement/substitude of it.Because many young christians love secular music,got influenced by its message.This problem contains so serious matter.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts,Jessica!I also appriciate Kinuko and all ladies here.It's so encouraging to know that your sincerety about godly worship.

With Love in Christ,Sanae

Caro said...

Hi sisters ! As Kinuko suggested, I will put the Mission Timothée song online on youtube. For that, I just created a youtube channel in order to share songs online ! I wanted to do it for a long time, but Kinuko with her request just inspired me to start it now. So I will put Mission Timothée favourite song online, and then I think I will also share other beautiful songs that we can't find on youtube. I will keep you updated when the first song will be online and ready for subtitles !

Kinuko H said...

Wow! Caro, that is so incredibly wonderful! Thank you so much for your devout action and your holy fire for Christ! I just can't wait to listen to your channels, Caro. Please let us know when it is ready. with love and thanks, Kinuko

Anonymous said...

Thank you,Caroline! Mission timothee has many beautiful original songs.I am looking foward them to be introduced on youtube.