Dear fellow worshipers,
I am writing because God has been opening my eyes to some things related to worship in these times, and I believe He wants me to share these with you. Some of the things I am going to say may seem shocking to you at first, but I ask that you bear with me and read this to the end – first, so that you can follow the reasoning, and second, so that deception may find no place in this important part of your life.
I want to start by sharing the second half of a dream I had about a week ago. Here is the dream, with my interpretation in parentheses:
Chris and I were by this building, and there was a poster on it of King Diamond* promoting a “Christian” worship CD he was putting out. It said, “King Diamond gives praise to Jesus!” or something like that. But King was still all made up in his makeup and looked all Satanic. (This is a serious warning to beware the spirit that is growing in some worship – it is an antichrist, satanic spirit.) I remarked how odd this was, and Chris said, “Yeah, isn’t it?” (It will be obvious to those who follow Jesus closely, but it will not be obvious to the apostate and those who do not follow Jesus closely. The apostate will expect true believers to accept it.) Chris said that he had heard King say that “Satan himself told him to make this CD.” I was amazed. (Again, this is a serious warning of major deception coming, directly from Satan himself, in the “Christian” worship music arena.)
*For those who don’t know who King Diamond is, you can learn some about him here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Diamond (pardon the occult imagery!)
Satan Has Infiltrated Church Worship
Getting right to the point, on the heels of that dream, I want to share that the Lord has revealed to me that Satan is infiltrating church worship – what we would call “mainstream” church worship. The amazing and frightening thing is that so few realize this. I had no idea until a month or two ago, when God began to open my eyes to many things related to church worship today.
You are probably already asking or thinking, “What are you talking about? How would you explain such a claim?” In order to arrive at that point, I first need to lay some fairly extensive groundwork. As you’ll see, it all leads to worship, but I believe it’s essential to take a look at the larger picture, so that light shines widely and the deception is made as clear as possible.
There are probably a number of other entry points that Satan has utilized to pollute the church with his lies, but the one I want to focus on is the “Trojan Horse” strategy. In other words, Satan packages something in a manner that makes the church believe that it might be useful or helpful or is actually needed inside, so the church wheels it in. Only later, under cover of darkness, do the enemy soldiers come out of the horse and attack the city from within. What I am specifically talking about is the church’s acceptance of worldly philosophies and practices.
Worldly Philosophies & Practices
I have neither the desire nor the expertise to discuss most of these in depth, but a small amount of honest research will easily reveal the damage that acceptance of these practices does to believers and their churches. First is Psychology, in the sense of the worldly understanding of the mind, behavior, and emotions. From its secular foundations, this field takes no account of what the Bible has to say about the mind or the One who made it; and even when it does (i.e. James Dobson), at a foundational level, it still gives far too much preference to human wisdom and science over the revealed Word of God. And that is a deadly error.
Second are practices such as yoga and meditation. In spite of widespread acceptance of yoga in churches, a Christian should have nothing to do with yoga, as its origins and practices are based on the occult, no matter how innocently they may be presented. (For more information on the occult roots and practices of yoga, follow this link: http://www.letusreason.org/NAM1.htm) Meditation is either wonderful or an abomination depending on how it is practiced, which means clarification is needed. Christian meditation is centered upon the Word of God and/or upon God Himself and is frequently heralded in scripture as a pathway to obedience (Joshua 1:8), blessedness and fruitfulness (Psalm 1:2), thanksgiving and satisfaction (Psalm 63:6), the strengthening of our faith (Psalm 77:12), and being molded and shaped into the image of Christ (1 Timothy 4:15). Eastern meditation, on the other hand, is designed to empty the mind and induce a trance-like state. From this point, entry into the spirit world and contact with the demonic are only a short step away. As with all satanic deception, many fail to discern the dangers inherent in these practices and ignorantly open themselves up to spiritual dangers of which they have no awareness. This is exactly as Satan intends.
Third is the acceptance, at least to some degree, of the worldly philosophy of postmodernism. The belief that there is no such thing as absolute truth, or that each person defines his or her own truth, comes from this philosophy. The church has also welcomed the postmodern belief that truth can be determined by feelings, apart from the Word of God. Any situation in which Satan can get people to rely on feelings, their own wisdom, or anything else without the ultimate authority of the Word of God, he is virtually assured of achieving deception.
Fourth is the increasing popularity of what is known as the “Emergent,” “Seeker-friendly,” or “Church Growth” Movement. One of the main problems with this movement is that the offense of the gospel has been removed. Since people are offended when they are told they are sinners deserving eternal wrath and judgment, that part of the Bible/gospel is simply ignored or redefined. Preaching about Christ’s mercy and forgiveness without preaching about the cross, each person’s personal responsibility for it, and the manner by which we may find forgiveness there only serves to remove the power from the gospel (1 Cor. 1:18).
Once all the offense is removed, about all you are left with is the love of Jesus, the wonderful plan He has for your life, and how much He wants to bless you (see Joel Osteen and hordes of others). In other words, you have the wildly popular modern gospel featuring “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel” (2 Cor. 11:4), all false, of course. The Emergent/seeker-friendly/CGM philosophy operates out of fear: fear that people will leave if they are offended, fear that growth will stop or decline, and fear that the community will find the church condemning, boring, or irrelevant. It’s too bad they have neglected to be mindful of the only thing Jesus said to fear: “Him who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:5). But since this scripture mentions both “fear” and “hell,” it is avoided in most churches today.
Perhaps the most fundamental failure of the Emergent/Seeker/CGM philosophy is its bad foundation, built upon purely worldly procedures and methods of operation. First and foremost, this movement relies upon a bevy of marketing and promotional work in order to generate interest in “what God is doing.” Second, the organizational or governing structure is modeled after the world – often looking like a business with a CEO and a Board of Directors, or something similar. What it won’t look like is the biblical model, with no human alone in a superior position. And finally, we see the ruin of this philosophy in the operation of the church, which of course includes the way worship is conducted.
At Last, Music & Worship
With rare exception, the first thing any Christian thinks about today when the word “worship” is mentioned is music. This alone should alert us to a problem, since the Bible talks far more frequently about other manners of worship. Regardless, even if it were only about music, many churches long ago swung wide the doors to the influence of the people of the world, whom many churches seem to regard as the experts in the area of music – as if Satan, not God, were the author of the art. To quote from an article I’ve linked to at the end of this article, “if marijuana is the ‘gateway drug’ leading to hardcore addictions such as heroin or cocaine, the typical organization of the ‘worship team’ in Western churches today is the ‘gateway drug’ by which deception and apostasy most often achieves its first toehold in the church. Why? Because like everything else belonging to the realms of deception and apostasy, it forsakes the Word of God and strongly favors the lusts and desires of the flesh.”
The World is Queen…
No matter what they say, when it comes to worship music, many churches today defer to the world over scripture and common sense application of biblical principles. These churches view the music of the world as the “gold standard” in terms of creativity, songwriting, musicianship, production, presentation, showmanship, and so on. Nearly everything you see in many churches today has been brought in from the world, from the stage to the instruments to the crew required to run everything, to the lights, cameras, projectors, etc. I don’t object in principle to any of these things being present in a church, but it’s the way churches use them that is thoroughly worldly.
Most church musicians (including me) have learned their craft from the world. If they didn’t, they snuck out to sneak exposure to it to “glean” from its seemingly superior reservoirs. Most involved in production learned the same way, by watching where the world “sets the bar.” This point will be belabored: this is inherently ungodly and has no place in the church! Just as a person who is born again immediately begins to unlearn everything they spent their life learning up to that point, the same goes for musicians and production people; and they probably have a steeper learning curve, given the utter filthiness of the secular music industry. As such, they should probably have to wait longer before entering ministry (and especially leadership), so that the pollution of the world does not enter God’s sanctuary. Christians seem to forget that men once died for such indiscretions (Lev. 10:1-2, 1 Sam. 3:13, 2 Sam. 6:6-7).
Lest anyone feel I am being overly legalistic with these assertions, let me give one simple example. The world’s standard these days tells us that it’s hip and cool to have camera work that is unsteady and which doesn’t look like the camera is fixed on a tripod. Another standard dictates that you need lots of jump (rapid) cuts in a video in order to add energy and excitement, in order to hold the attention of an audience that becomes bored quickly. These things may well be true out in the world where advertising and marketing rule, where seizing and holding people’s attention by all viable means are both understandable and necessary to achieve the ends the world desires. However, in the church, what should be most important is the message, the Word being preached, not using subliminal tricks to hold the viewer’s attention to the screen. Why? Because to put it very simply, these tools of the world are gimmicks intended to manipulate the mind – fundamentally, to keep you looking at a screen – not to make sure you are focused on the words being spoken.
In today’s world, it’s primarily images that deliver the message, not words. Don’t believe me? Ask a few people on the street to compare how much time they spend watching TV or movies versus reading. Better yet, ask some Christians that question. Having a jumpy camera or a video with lots of quick cuts only serves to confuse the mind and cause disorientation. The person is drawn to continue watching in order to figure out the jumble. Why would anyone want that sort of thing in church? The motivation behind it (in terms of its origin) is manipulation, not dissemination of truth. The world’s use of media is designed 100%, from start to finish, to appeal to “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). This is utterly unholy, completely counter to God’s ways. As such, God neither needs nor approves of these gimmicks. God is the One who draws people to Christ (John 6:44). No gimmicks are necessary. Therefore, why does the church do it? Because the church looks to the world instead of God for guidance. It wants to look hip, relevant, and “with the times.” In other words, the church wants to look like the world and do what the world does. Where is the command to do this in scripture? And this is not 1 Corinthians 9 adaptation; this is adapting to the world inside the church for worldly reasons, at the likely expense of comprehension.
Getting back to music, I imagine we can all recount stories which prove what I am saying about worship team members bringing worldliness into the church. Surely, we are all guilty! (I certainly am.) People come to worship practice and immediately start playing some Led Zeppelin riff or talking about the cool new idea they got for worship from a secular song or music video. These are not innocent little anecdotes. These things are repugnant to God! Do not be mistaken. These are indications that people have a healthy lust for the world and its things. James was quite clear when he wrote: “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
How often in our worship team practices or meetings do we hear someone cry out for repentance among the people or for God to bring more trials into their own life so that they may be made more perfect (James 1:2-4)? How often do we hear someone express a desire to lift up a new, unwritten song to Jesus – just for Him, not so they can go out, promote themselves, and make money selling it? Does anyone ever desire to play on the ground, on the same level as the rest of Christ’s people, instead of on an elevated stage, behind fancy lights and among carefully selected decorations? Does anyone ever desire to play and worship among our brethren rather than to them and at them?
…and Feelings are King
Lastly, we see in lots of church worship music today that the goal and measurement of success is based mostly, if not entirely, upon feelings. How did the worship (music) make you feel? Did you sense God? Did the music move you? Did anyone cry or dance? Once again, I hasten to state that these things are not wrong. To experience feelings from true worship is a blessing indeed. However, do not lose sight of what I said: these feelings are often the most important measurement of success for worship in many of today’s churches. This is altogether corrupt. It is flesh-centered. It is preferring the beauty and loveliness of how the fruit appeals to your senses, and then deciding to indulge and eat it, rather than keeping a safe distance from it because your Lord has forbidden you to eat it.
Elevating feelings above the truth of God’s Word is nothing less than idolatry. And it is extremely costly, because doctrinal truth and the desire to obey that truth are what suffer. I hope you are able to see what I’m getting at. All of the things I’ve mentioned are a result of the world’s influence, which means they ultimately came from Satan himself. But I pray that as you read on, you are able to see that Satan has his hands far deeper into this pie than you might have imagined.
The Result in Worship Music
Now I’d like to look at the results of what I’ve been talking about. How has the church been affected by its willingness to bring in the world’s ways? One of the easiest places to see the difference is to compare today’s song lyrics with those of past generations. Simply put, for the most part, today’s lyrics are shallow and one-dimensional, often reflecting the “other Jesus” they are singing about. In previous generations, a person could go to church and stay only for worship and still get a clear gospel presentation. In fact, you could learn most of the church’s doctrine from the old hymns. And I hasten to point out that the style of music makes no difference; what matters is what is being said. If all I hear week in and week out is “Jesus loves me,” “Jesus is merciful,” and “Jesus saved me;” it won’t take long at all for me to forget that without Jesus, I am a truly wretched, wicked individual. I might begin to take God’s grace for granted and participate in some willful sin, since my Jesus is so forgiving! Repentance is a rare topic in today’s lyrics, and while grace is not, it is rarely put in its proper context. As a result, neither is properly communicated. You would also likely come to the conclusion that hell has been abolished along with any future judgment for the unrighteous and the righteous. Another important thing to remember about today’s anemic lyrics is that if the lyrics contain false doctrine, they will promote false worship and spread like leaven (1 Cor. 5:6-8).
A second effect on the church resulting from worldly influence is to focus on the quality of the music and musicianship, judging by worldly standards as opposed to God’s standards. This shift normally leads to a host of problems in terms of compromise and sin among worship teams, as devotion to Christ gives way to raw musical talent. How many times have we seen a musically talented person begin coming to church and immediately get recruited and put on stage to play, often before even the person’s salvation has been ascertained? To avoid being redundant, I will simply state that far too much worldliness is a part of church worship today, while God’s standard has never changed. What is God’s standard? That no flesh should glory in His presence (1 Cor. 1:29). This means we should do all we can to exclude worldly influence in all aspects of our church services. Worship is solely about God – His righteousness, His holiness, His power, His justice, and most certainly His glory, and His alone.
Truly one of the saddest things about modern church worship is its bowing to human feelings to dictate what stays and what goes in worship style and service format. Sometimes even after only one playing, a song is cut because the pastor (or someone else in authority) didn’t “feel it” with that song. Several times, I have seen songs banned because the words were “too challenging,” even though they were perfectly scriptural. However, if a song is played which really seems to “get the congregation into it,” then that song is elevated and requested frequently. And often, pressure is then placed on the leader to duplicate the “move of God” that occurred previously (as if the leader had such power!).
What many pastors seem to forget is that moves of God are, well, moves of God! He moves when, where, and how He wishes. No worship leader tells God when to move. One would hope and think that pastors understood this better, but their “back room” whispers to worship leaders betray their true desires – for everyone to feel it! How often do people in church conclude that worship was “bad” (or that God didn’t move) because they didn’t feel anything? How often do worship leaders take this as a sign of failure, instead of viewing their success as being “faithful in all God’s house” (Hebrews 3:5)? This obsession with creating and then re-creating a worshipful feeling (which amounts to a worship of worship) has led many churches to form the very uninspired “Program,” which is seldom altered, because “it works.” I’m sure many of you have seen these programs for church services which have things like:
11:03 am call to worship and prayer (keep it brief!)
11:04 am begin worship
11:17 am prayer & message of communion (keep music underneath)
11:21 am communion song
It’s seriously flawed. What if God wanted to show up at 11:13? We’d probably never know, because we’re too busy making sure we’re sticking to the Program; or we’d have to ask God to wait until we have an opening at 11:32.
“Vain Repetitions” & the Occult
One of the most dangerous elements that worldly influence has brought into church music is “vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7). Some Christian artists are writing songs these days that are extremely repetitive. The most prominent example of music like this, of which I am aware, is coming out of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. This type of music is very dangerous, because as I hinted at above when mentioning Eastern meditation, repetitious singing or chanting is a practice that can put people in a trance. This practice is used in the occult to contact the dead (demons), participate in astral projection, and all manner of other evil practices which are forbidden by scripture.
One frightening thing to keep in mind is that it really doesn’t matter what is being repeated. It could be something as innocent as “Jesus, I love you.” If repeated countless times, the words become meaningless to the human brain, the mind becomes blank and empty, and at some point a “crossing over” into the spirit world can occur. And remember, even if you’re singing the name “Jesus,” if it’s not the Jesus of the Bible or if the name merely becomes babbled phonemes due to repetition, this is not spiritually edifying! Since people have already been fooled into judging whether God is moving by their feelings instead of by worshiping in spirit and in truth (in perfect alignment with the Word of God – John 4:23-24), they wrongly interpret the enjoyable feelings they experience in a “worship trance” as being a move of the Holy Spirit! Truly, they are in enemy territory and don’t even realize it.
The Result in Lives
Let’s draw back for a moment and look at the fallout that results from allowing or promoting this kind of worship in a church. What are the risks and likely products, and what do we tend to see in churches that practice this kind of worldly blend? The first point may lead to a bit of a “chicken or egg” argument here, in terms of whether it originated in the music or the preaching; but there is no question that worldly worship promotes bad doctrine in a church, in the form of the aforementioned “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel.”
The evidence for this is overwhelming. Even devoted attendees walk in the flesh, not hearing from God, and not worrying much about it. Their lives show little or no power of God moving in them. They have little or no passion for the lost. And probably the greatest shame of the modern church is that sin is not overcome. Romans 6 is either not taught or not understood. The sheep are either mired in lifestyles of sin, which they view as normal; or they are mired in lifestyles of struggling with sin, having no understanding how to escape the endless cycle of Romans 7:14-24. Since sin is so prevalent and victorious, it is to a large degree excused and tolerated.
This is even more the case with worldliness, since the church finds it a little more difficult to confront someone over their idolatry of, say, watching football than to confront someone for beating their children. If you find this an odd comparison, then perhaps you have forgotten that prohibition of idolatry is the first of the Ten Commandments. Do not be mistaken. Worldliness is rampant in the church today. The church is infatuated with the world and its things. As I quoted above from James, love for the world is enmity with God. That means you become an enemy of the Lord God.
On the music side of things, many musicians are chasing success & fame instead of following Jesus’ call to forsake everything for Him. And many worship leaders & team members have motives and live lives that are largely worldly and fleshly (selfish) and not godly. By no means do I intend to condemn anyone, but I exhort you to let the Lord examine your heart concerning these prevalent attitudes in so many churches today. Many participate out of love for the affirmation. Many participate out of love for the attention. Many participate out of love for the status they get among the congregation. Many participate to improve their skills. Many participate because they are seeking fame and popularity and have ulterior motives. Many have a “rock star” spirit, which has no place in church. For many, it is much more about them than it is about God. For many, the command in scripture to dress modestly and respectably and to forsake the jewelry and accessories is just irrelevant drivel from a bygone era, which can simply be ignored since it doesn’t conform to what is culturally popular now. I don’t mean to belabor the point, but this is important. There is no middle ground here. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24a).
Another devastating result of this worldliness in the church is that people tend to be comforted in their sins. By this, I mean that they see no pressing need to diligently resist their sins and their flesh and to be as radical as necessary to cooperate with God in eradicating it from their lives (Matthew 18:8-9). Instead, people are content to compare their walks with the people they see around them, leaving them with an understandable sense of complacency, since so few are walking in victory and actively crucifying their flesh by daily bringing their lives into obedience to the Word of God.
Since the teaching in many of today’s churches has been polluted by the worldly influence of the Emergent/seeker-friendly/CGM philosophy, the teaching is mostly non-offensive and thus non-challenging. Sin is never rooted out and is rarely confronted. Why would someone who is struggling with sin want to confront anyone else about their sin (except for the fact that the Bible tells us to do so – Matthew 18:15)? Even among well-meaning laypeople, there is only half-hearted exhortation to overcome, probably because no one is doing it or knows how to do it. This is a sorry state, because Romans 8 and Galatians 5 plainly describe the overcoming walk Christians are supposed to experience.
Getting back to music, it’s quite easy to see the impact of worldliness. Certainly it’s not every song in every church, but the type of music I described earlier – with one-dimensional, “over-graced” lyrics; vain repetitions; and lyrical content designed to evoke feelings rather than present biblical truth – leads people far from Christ. In fact, as I mentioned at the beginning, it can instead lead people right into the deceiving lies of Satan. Sensual worship makes people feel close to God by making them feel good. People get a false sense of security and a false sense of nearness to God, when often they are actually living lives that are highly offensive to Him! This form of worship also helps people swallow false teaching, since the shallow lyrics normally agree with it (or don’t challenge it), and since in many deluded minds, “if it feels good, it must be true/right.”
The unfortunate reality of sensual worship is that fundamentally, it is not Christian, because it is not about the Jesus of the Bible. And since it’s not biblical and people are judging teachings and doctrine based upon their feelings, they are wide open to deception and even demonic attack. And if a particular church is using highly repetitive worship songs, the danger is even greater, because Satan is able to masquerade as an angel of light and lead them astray. As I mentioned earlier, this is accomplished through people entering a trance-like state, which empties their minds and opens them up to the demonic spirit world, which again, is a common and well-known occult practice. I don’t want to go into it here (you can research online), but there is a demon spirit known as “kundalini” (which has its roots in Hinduism, and there are surely others), which people say appears to manifest as a counterfeit of the Holy Spirit. It apparently makes people feel very peaceful and “in touch with God.” Needless to say, this is something of grave concern.
Unsaved or In Bondage
The saddest result of the acceptance of worldliness in the church today is that most people remain either unsaved or in bondage to sin. As I mentioned above, this is not the overcoming life that Christ came and died to give us. The following verses don’t just sound good; they’re true!
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:17-18).
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2).
[Y]ou have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator (Col. 3:9-10).
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24).
For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified (Heb. 10:14).
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world (1 John 5:3-4a).
Whether it is taught in today’s churches or not, the Bible teaches that we have been called to grow into maturity (Luke 8:14, Eph. 4:13, Heb. 6:1). Sadly, today most flee from trials; yet scripture teaches us that God brings or allows trials into our lives to test, grow, and mature us so that we will become like Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18). Furthermore, we are told to rejoice in these trials (James 1:2)! The place of the Christian is to live in the world but not be of the world and to reject worldliness, understanding its incompatibility with the kingdom of which they are now a part.
Parallel Resource: Article
Here is the link to an article I referenced above. This article discusses much of what I have, but from a more musically detailed perspective. It is very helpful in pointing out many things that are done in church worship ministries which are thoroughly worldly. I recommend you read it when you have time.
Brothers and Sisters, What Shall We Do?
I hope after reading all of this, you are able to agree with me that many churches today are in a very worrisome state, with worldliness, rampant sin, heretical doctrine, and demonic deception unrecognized and often not just unopposed but welcomed! You may wonder what can be done about problems that are so entrenched and massive in scope. As with any problem, the solution begins with individuals. Each one of us is accountable before God for our own heart and walk. So the first step is to get in your prayer closet, seek the Lord, and ask Him to reveal your heart related to your roles in worship (and beyond, of course). Also ask Him to show you if you need to repent. Then wait upon the Lord. He will reveal these things to us if we truly have hearts to receive the truth. Once He does, repent and walk differently – which is what true repentance brings. You should also ask the Lord to reveal where you or your church have been deceived, either through compromised doctrine or through any of the things I have discussed. You may not be able to fix things, but awareness is the first step toward righteousness.
Once you’ve prayed and repented, be diligent to give the Bible its proper place in your life. First, as a general rule, stop reading commentaries, devotionals, or other opinions of man. Consume the pure milk and meat of the Word. You don’t require someone else to teach you as long as you have the Holy Spirit inside (1 John 2:27). Just be sure to ask the Lord to give you understanding. He will. I have also found it very helpful to slow down and read more deliberately. Meditate and revisit what you are reading throughout your day and when you lay down at night (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 119:148). Memorize passages that are important for your walk so they can sink into the soil of your heart and bring forth a crop. Believe everything you read in the Word, and if you are disinclined, ask the Lord to give you understanding and to open your eyes to the truth. Be sure to also obey everything you read in the Word, because as James says, if you don’t have works to validate your faith, your faith is dead. Lastly, if you find as you practice these principles that your church is resistant to following scripture, don’t be surprised. Remember that the way is narrow (Matthew 7:14). If you are unable to bring about change in regards to all the worldliness and deception, ask the Lord when you should leave your church (Rev. 18:4) and trust the Him to lead you to a new fellowship.
Judgment is Coming
The time to act on God’s Word is always today, for no person is promised even another breath. Judgment is coming, not just to America but to the entire world. The Word says that Jesus is coming back for a “glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27). An honest look at today’s church tells us that she is far from this description, and she will require much tribulation in order to be transformed into the likeness of Christ described in this passage. And such times are exactly what are described in various books of the Bible concerning the last days and the Great Tribulation, which appear to be near. These trials will do their work and will make the Bride ready for Christ’s return for her.
Remember, safety and refuge are found only by abiding in Christ. As I stated previously, all trials have purpose to shape us into Christ’s image, to bring us to maturity, in order to bring glory to the Father. God is faithful. If He saved you, He is able to complete the work He began in you (Phil. 1:6). He is also able to bring a fellowship of committed believers into your life. And He is able to bring you safely into His heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:18).
A Closing Word
In closing, here is a word the Lord gave me about two weeks ago:
Beware the “Christian Music Industry.” Beware! Do not be moved by feelings or emotions, which can be manipulated by instrumentation or arrangements or by demonic spirits masquerading as angels of light. These musicians are putting their confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3)! But you – watch their lives and doctrine closely, and do not be deceived. If any music does not exhort you to follow Christ to His cross and to death, then forsake it!
I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not delight in your solemn assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your food offerings, I will not be pleased. Nor will I regard the peace offerings of your fat animals. Take the noise of your songs away from Me; for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let judgment roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. Have you offered sacrifices and offerings to Me forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? But you have carried the booth of your king and Kiyyun, your images, the star of your gods which you made for yourselves. So I will cause you to go into exile beyond Damascus, says Jehovah, the God of Hosts is His name. (Amos 5:21-27)
You know I’m there with you, Braden. Thanks for being faithful to God.
Have been moved to point out an aspect of yoga that is very impotant – I have been led by the Holy Spirit to the truth about this practise and by no means can any Christian or non- Christian alike partake in yoga without actually engaging in the demonic spiritual aspects…..you simply cannot separate the two – the exercise and the spiritual practise are one and the same…..do not be deceived as this is Satan’s intention and all these Eastern mystical practises ( tai chi, martial arts etc.) lead all down the same path……to destruction. So saying that you can “enjoy the stretching and exercise of yoga without engaging in any of the Eastern meditational aspects”
is simply not the truth……..you CAN enjoy OTHER stretching exercises WITHOUT any demonic spiritual engagement…..Pilates is one that comes to mind, as I’m sure there are many others……research led by the Holy Spirit, I believe, is vital if you are at all concerned about any aspect of a practise which is or may be contrary to the Word Of God.
Enjoyed reading your article Braden and will venture to touch on all of them as this is my first time on your website. Pray that my response to the yoga issue is not taken in offense, as I a fellow Christian, like yourself, am deeply concerned and disturbed at what many Christians are involving themselves in spiritually and grieve the obvious outcome. Have ventured on many an occasion to warn others, Christian and non- Christian alike to the dangers to much derision and scoffing….regardless, it is what we are commanded to do. Praise God!!!!
God bless you and thank you for your work.
Dianne, thank you for both reading and taking the time to comment. I’m really glad you commented specifically on yoga, because I know very little about it (which probably shows). I asked a few people about it when I wrote the blog, but neither my friends nor I have ever done yoga, so we were uninformed. I suppose I went more off what I have heard instead of doing better research, which means I should probably go ahead and do the research. Again, I appreciate you commenting and your desire to shed light on the issue, so that God’s people may be free and not in bondage. Bless you.
Well, as promised, I did some research on yoga, and I must agree with Dianne. At the very, very least, yoga is something no Christian should practice, simply because of its direct connection to Hinduism and its origins therein. I will be editing this post to reflect this stance. May Jesus Christ alone be glorified in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31)! Thanks again, Dianne.
Braden the article really ministered to my heart because I sense many things when it comes to music in the confines of church today, I believe that it does not give glory to Father but rather it gives glory to man. Music is too important today in church and many enjoyed the music but really there is no transformation in their lives. I heard someone that the church has replaced the Holy Spirit with psychology, music and money.
Hi, Matthew. Thanks for visiting the blog. You’re right. People still think the Holy Spirit is moving in many church services today, but it’s either a demonic counterfeit or it’s simply human, fleshly emotions driven by some admittedly well-played and well-produced music. It’s interesting… I was speaking with brethren at my fellowship this weekend, and this subject came up somewhat out of the blue. And some thoughts came to me that the Lord had been “stewing” inside me for a little while. What I realized is that worship, in the way that it’s widely practiced today, is categorically a non-essential. But try to go tell that to any church out there. They will laugh in your face. But just because it’s what the unsaved, professing culture wants doesn’t mean the true church of Jesus Christ should obligingly serve it up. God opened my eyes to see that when He listed the five giftings of ministry (Ephesians 4:11) which are essential in order to bring men to maturity, into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, “worship leader” is not among them. Thus, it is not needed to bring men to maturity. This doesn’t mean fellowships don’t, shouldn’t, or won’t worship. It just means we don’t need a “professional” to lead it. In fact, that seems to be a hindrance, and I’m speaking from experience! Any babe in Christ knows how to worship; just look at them, radiant with joy and thankfulness! But again, God has told us very clearly in Ephesians 4 that what we must have in a Body (church) are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. All I see today in most churches is pastors, and that only by title. So few men who claim the title “pastor” actually have the heart and, far more importantly, the spiritual gifting to fill that role. And keep in mind that if your church Body is lacking one of the five giftings, then your Body can not reach maturity in Christ. (I think I’m going to make this into a new post…)
Spot on brother! Thanks!~ Keep it up. As a musician too, I know the place you come from and it is much more difficult to speak out about a subject when you are subject to be tempted by the sensuousness of music. I spent a number of years participating in musical “worship” and had to step away and for more than one reason. One being that which you have written here. At this very well known church, those of us in the “worship” team were sent to a special “worship” seminar in Atlanta a few years back put on by some very well known Christian musicians who write songs that MANY modern churches use. Two night event. We had a 4 hour drive over there. At the seminar, we were privy to hear some new songs that were yet unreleased. During the time we were there, someone had recorded one of the new songs, uploaded it to the internet while we were still there. Somehow, the musician on stage found out about it and publicly reproved the person and asked them to remove it because of royalties. (has that got to do with $$ ??)
Anyway, there were some times of teaching too, and when the event ended, and 6 of us were carpooling back home in a 4 hour drive in a van together, I had in mind that maybe we…the “worship” leaders…could actually have a great deep conversation about what we just learned, maybe pray…etc….Nope! The driver and the person in the passenger front seat were playing the radio and practicing drumming on the dashboard….the two behind me went to sleep..the guy next to me plugged in ear buds and was listening to something so loud I could hear it too..something sounding like heavy metal. It was only a short time after that, I stepped down from participating in music there. Can I also mention…all these other musicians were like in their 20s?? Is there some reason older folks can’t lead anymore? BTW.. I myself AM older, haha! 50 something!
In this sane fellowship, 7 years back, I met with the senior pastor and told him I felt lead by the Lord to suggest we start up either a Frida or Sat night prayer night, seeing that we had nothing going on those two nights. I mentioned that it could start at about 7pm and that we might allow it to go on for as long as the members needed..you know, just have at least one or two mature leaders there to only assist and to lock up after the praying people finished. The pastor gleefully stated that they were getting ready to start up a new Sat night thing and patted me on the back. But guess what Sat night turned in to? Just another music night, teaching time, and of course…one more offering!
In closing, I belive these people love the Lord but I was finding it hard to break through to something deeper….musically I am deeply disturbed by the music set up not. Rock music anthems, lighting, visual effect and even videos playing, and like you said..HIGHLY repetitive hypnotic music and any UNSAVED person would enjoy. I ask myself…if Jesus, or even Peter, James or John were to walk in to one of these rock start services, what would they say?? Really? What do you think they would say? Please reply….
Hi, Scotty. Thanks for the comment. As for the odd episode with someone essentially bootlegging an artist’s new song, I have to sympathize (at least to some degree) with the artist. While their motivation seems to be based on greed, which has no place in a Christian, I know I wouldn’t appreciate someone covertly recording me and posting it without discussing it with me first.
As for people tuning out on the ride back from the conference, I suppose I can understand that to some degree as well. However, it is unfortunate that no one wanted to dig in and talk with you about some important issues, but as you suggested, maybe they really just don’t care. I think that’s usually the case with church musicians these days. Many of them aren’t interested in spiritual matters, because they aren’t born again. They play at a church for fun and practice, and maybe for status. It’s sad.
It’s interesting what you said about the prayer night. I actually had the same idea years ago and got it going at my old church in San Diego. Mine was on Friday nights, once a month. There was music most of the time, but the intention was to foster prayer and worship. It went OK, but hardly anyone showed up. We did it for around 9 months, I think. I learned a lot by doing it, and the group of musicians I was leading at the time and I grew together a lot musically. There were definitely several times that God moved, so that was a blessing. That’s the cool thing about the Lord: it doesn’t matter to Him whether there are 2 people present or 2,000; He will do as He pleases and will reward those who are seeking Him with all their hearts.
To answer your question, “what would Jesus or one of the apostles say about music in church today?”, I think they would be at a loss for words for a while. I think they would be shocked. (Well, not Jesus, since He knows all things, but you know what I mean.) Honestly, I think anyone who has the Holy Spirit living within them, and who hasn’t grieved that Holy Spirit to the point that it’s quenched and unheeded, would quickly discern that while there is lots of emotion and energy in church music these days, there is very little substance. As the expression goes, it’s miles wide and a millimeter thick. It’s tough today to even find a song with the name of Jesus in the lyrics. Now that should be a concern! To sum up, I think the apostles would cover their ears from the noise and run from the building and then weep at the worldly condition of the Church.
Praise God that He always has a remnant, who may for a season go unnoticed by the world and by the institutional church but who live to honor Him and make themselves clean vessels that He is pleased to inhabit and through which He will display His power in these last days.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply, it was lucid! I have recently started reading Frank Viola’s book “Pagan Christianity”. It is meant to be followed up by his second book, “Reimagining Church”. I have both but am only in the first one. All about organic church and SO very interesting to me as I , over the last several years, have begun to internally ask myself why what I am seeing and what I read in the new testament don’t seem to look alike. Whenever I first started thinking that way, I would pretty much just feel I was being judgmental, and push the thought out of my head. Yet, I was slowly also being disturbed by knowing how very little vetting went into selecting members to lead worship, and how many things were going on with the church body that were going unchallenged. In the years of attending, I’ve had to admit I’ve really never witnessed any church discipline. In my bible, I read of a healthy amount of it. We still need it. I’m afraid there is a lukewarmness. I wanted to do my part, but I expect church leaders to do theirs as well. The Word tells us that is WE see our brother in sin to go to him in private, one on one and speak to him….it progresses from there as you know. Once I approached privately, a brother about my own age. He and his girlfriend had produced a baby together, and he left her until about a year after the baby was born. He got back together with her and they were living together but didn’t marry. They were frequently attending services. So, when I asked to speak with him, I got no further than simply asking if they were married(which I knew the answer to). Instead of a conversation, he instantly bowed up and suggested that I was secretly coveting his girlfriend(untrue).
In a different setting, I had a friend invite me to her mega church in Atlanta. She picked up a friend on the way and brought him with her. He is her hair dresser and openly gay and loves the “worship” there, and feels quite comfortable. Jesus too was compassionate to those caught up in sexual sin but at the end he told the prostitute to go and sin no more. He didn’t leave it open.
There is a fellow that put up a pretty nice compilation of great sermons by old timers, and links, and even rare unheard Christian music written by brothers and sisters who don’t make any money off it, they offer the songs freely to anyone to use. His website is HolyDesperation. When I first looked at it I recognized many of the names of great Christian writers….
I could go on but need to go to work soon. I appreciate ones who take time to write as you have. What instruments do you play? Currently doing anything with that?
Hey, Scotty. You are so right. Most of the “mainstream” churches these days are so concerned about offending anyone that they won’t take any steps toward correction. They turn a blind eye to sin among the flock, which is sad and scary, because Jesus said that a little leaven would leaven the whole lump. And boy, has it! Look at the “Church” today. It’s hardly different from the world. I think most churches these days are only interested in filling seats and consequently their pockets, so they can grow huge and gain worldly fame and acclaim. But as we know, that is not Christ’s way. Thanks for sharing your honest comments. It’s commendable that you tried to do things the way the Bibile instructs us to. And it’s unfortunate that no one had ears to hear what you were trying say – ultimately to help them!
I play keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums with varying levels of ability. 🙂 I play worship twice a week at gatherings of my fellowship. That’s really enjoyable. I just switch back and forth between acoustic guitar and piano as the Lord leads me to pick out songs. I write now and then on my computer and post the output. I intend to write some more, but it seems my output is rather low these days. I really have a desire to write music that will edify the Body of Christ. I believe the Lord will bless my efforts to write in His time. Right now, He has me working on some other things. If you like, you can check out my music (if you haven’t already) at my website: http://www.lastlamb.com/bwmmedia.html
God bless you, Scotty. Thanks again for writing.