A Challenge for Christian musicans songwriters worship leaders
In Tune With God

The Quest for Music Miracles

Grantley Morris

© Copyright, Grantley Morris  All rights reserved


A Challenge

Using words as a brush, Jesus painted a now-famous masterpiece. On the canvas of our minds, we see two dedicated, God-ordained leaders. One was leaving Jerusalem, probably on his way home after having admirably completed sacred temple ministries. The other was perhaps hurrying toward the holy city to worship and serve the God he loved. An inspiring sight – except they abandoned a fellow countryman, leaving him to squirm in a pool of blood.

The hypocrisy of devout first century Jews is frightening. Their whole lives were dedicated to the study and out-living of God’s Word. Their zeal was indisputable. No amount of effort seemed too much for them; no detail too small. How could such committed people see so clearly and be so blind; be so right and yet so wrong?

Respected religious leaders murdered their Savior as an act of religious devotion. A chill sweeps my spine. Am I any less deluded? We humans have a horrifying potential for self-deception.

We desperately need Christ to expose our hypocrisy as effectively as He did in first-century Palestine. So should the Lord graciously open our eyes to a short-coming, we have much reason to rejoice. Knowing our failures is infinitely preferable to being ignorant of them. How could we repent of something we do not even recognize as wrong?

The magnitude of God’s forgiveness, the expression of His boundless love, is equaled by His power to make us victorious. When we discover a failure, we have every right to say to Satan:

‘Rejoice not against O my enemy:
When I fall, I shall arise’.

We long to please the One who has done so much for us. So let’s join with the psalmist in praying:

‘Search me, O God, and know my heart:
Try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting’.

The questions in the following quiz may not be as perceptive as those that would fall from Jesus’ lips. Forgive me. There’s something in my eye. I’m not sure what it is, but it feels disturbingly like a log . . .

Is it your aim to win for Christ . . .

    (1) The masses?

    (2) Just the musical elite?

    (3) The target audience the Lord has specifically called you to?

    (4) Only the tone deaf?

Which request would most excite you?
    (1) I must have a recording of your music.

    (2) Please tell me more about the message in that song.

    (3) Could you tell me where the washrooms are?

You have a ministry in music because . . .

    (1) You’re the best person for the task.

    (2) No-one else will do it.

    (3) God has called you to this ministry.

Would you rather . . .

    (1) Make a fool of yourself, breaking down in the middle of a performance, but be used to lead someone to Christ?

    (2) Give a performance which gains you high acclaim but achieves nothing spiritually?

Which would you consider the greatest honor?

    (1) To achieve world-wide fame for your music, though the Lord considers it worthless.

    (2) To know your music thrills the heart of the King of Kings, though it is so awful that no-one on earth can endure it.

Your music gives the impression that . . .

    (1) You are reaching out to the world for Christ.

    (2) You are withdrawing from the world.

    (3) You are copying the world.

Which comment would most please you?

    (1) ‘With your talent you could make a fortune!’

    (2) ‘Isn’t it amazing that God uses so mightily music as ordinary as yours?’

To you, music is primarily . . .

    (1) A duty.

    (2) Something you enjoy.

    (3) A means of giving pleasure to others.

    (4) An expression to God of your love for Him.

Which statement best describes your aims?

    (1) To draw people to Christ by the quality of your music.

    (2) To yield yourself and your music to the Holy Spirit, so that He can draw people to Christ.

Music and emotions are related. Do you . . .

    (1) Fear this?

    (2) Exploit it?

    (3) Neither?

Which remark would move you the most?

    (1) ‘I’ve never heard such beautiful music!’

    (2) ‘God spoke to me while you were playing!’

    (3) ‘Is that a spider on your shoe?’

What response do you most want your music to elicit in your hearers?

    (1) ‘That was great!’

    (2) ‘God is great!’

Which is the strongest impression you leave with people?

    (1) You care about music.

    (2) You care about people.

    (3) You’ve got B.O.

When you hear Christian music you regard as greatly inferior to your own, do you . . .

    (1) Tell everyone how awful it is?

    (2) Buy some ear plugs?

    (3) Thank God you’re so much better?

    (4) Pray that God will still use the music?

Which comment would hurt you the most?

    (1) ‘You were out of tune.’

    (2) ‘Your hair style looked awful.’

    (3) ‘Your music was indistinguishable from a first class secular performance.’

What is your primary goal?

    (1) To be popular.

    (2) To reach a high musical standard.

    (3) To be used of God.

Which would you rather?

    (1) Deeply move 5,000 appreciative Christians with your music, but accomplish nothing of lasting spiritual significance for them.

    (2) Hand a boy a tract which leads him to Christ.

    (3) Stay in bed.

Neighbors tend to take a special interest in the nature and timing of our practice sessions. Which alternative best matches their feelings?

    (1) You are blessed.

    (2) You are a blessed @*&# % . . .!

When someone heaps praise upon your music, what’s your most likely thought?

    (1) I must be getting good!

    (2) Isn’t God gracious!

When selecting music, do you . . .

    (1) Assume that because you like it, others will?

    (2) Through prayer and conversation with people seek to understand the needs and tastes of your audience?

    (3) Conclude that since God has dramatically used a piece with similar audiences, there is no need to specifically seek His direction this time?

Tonight’s the big night, culminating countless hours of spiritual and musical preparation. Your music creates an atmosphere in which the Holy Spirit begins to really move. The moment you finish, however, the leader abruptly changes the mood. The atmosphere is destroyed long before the Spirit has completed His work. All your preparation seems lost forever. Do you . . .

    (1) Feel resentment?

    (2) Ignore it?

    (3) Check out employment opportunities in the French Foreign Legion.

    (4) Privately, in prayerful humility, share your insight with the leader?

Which would you rather hear?

    (1) ‘There were nine decisions as a result of your concert and we’ve taken up an offering of $1500 for you.’

    (2) ‘At least ten people have come to the Lord through your ministry tonight and, after costs, your love offering came to 85 cents, one button and some slightly used chewing gum.’

Do you seek through music to . . .

    (1) Serve others?

    (2) Impress people?

    (3) Satisfy your inner needs?

Perhaps the Lord has blessed our music even though we are conscious of areas in our lives which we have deliberately not submitted to God. We should note, however, that God’s present kindness is intended to lead us to a change of heart. If that doesn’t work the Lord has other ways of getting our attention!

We are right in putting much emphasis on being in tune musically, but do we put sufficient emphasis upon being in tune with the Lord? And we dare not forget that our relationship with God is inseparably linked to our relationship with people. As John poignantly put it, everyone who loves the Father will love His children.

James exposed the total inconsistency of imagining we can use the same voice to both bless God and slander someone made in the image of God. So do we seek diligently to be in harmony with fellow musicians, or merely in tune with their instruments and voices?

And let’s not overlook other relationships. Are we, for example, neglecting family responsibilities? Is there something we haven’t put right with someone? Is there anyone we haven’t forgiven?

Grappling with the issues already raised seems sufficient to keep anyone busy for several life-times. Yet, there are still further considerations. (Fortunately, He who dwells within you is exceedingly powerful!)

Have you sought God to ensure that the amount and nature of your practice sessions is in full accord with His will for you? Do you give proper priority to being spiritually prepared for your ministry? Prayer makes practice perfect.

Down through the ages, people have noted that almost any trivia can be put to a good tune and people will happily sing it. How far beyond trivia are your songs?

We can even love our ministry too much. Our deepest yearning must be to love and exalt the Lord Jesus. Both Isaiah and Amos prophesied the ruin of people who were more devoted to music than they were to the Lord.

The Christian musician’s devotion to God should parallel the psalmist’s attitude to God’s city:

‘If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget [its musical skill].
If I do not remember you,
let my [singing] tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth;
If I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.’

Judson Cornwall tells of a talented violinist who surrendered alluring scholarships to follow God’s calling. As a missionary, however, he seized opportunities to give Christian concerts. Several times he felt the Lord telling him to abandon his violin altogether. Yet he persisted, arguing that his music would be an asset to his future ministry. Surely it would be irresponsible to discard his obvious talent.

Eventually, God spoke so firmly that he knew no amount of rationalizing or bargaining would work. He quit his violin forever. As a result of this obedience, the Lord used that missionary in a powerful way to touch the lives of thousands of people.

More than our music, God yearns for our love.

Are you willing, at any moment, to give up your ministry, should the Lord so lead? Furthermore, is your loving devotion to your Savior such that you would specialize in a type of music you intensely dislike, if He asked you?

If you have survived this barrage of questions without wanting to cry out for mercy, you’re better than me! But, praise God, His grace is sufficient for us. We haven’t arrived, but provided we keep pressing toward the goal depicted by these questions, claiming the righteousness and strength which is ours through faith in Jesus, God will be pleased to use us for His glory.

Next . . .

In Tune with God: Contents