No matter if you are musically illiterate, or you are a musical prodigy, music has a profound effect on our lives.
There's an advertisement on TV for the "Good Morning Football" show at 7 a.m. In the ad, a song, which really only has about three notes max, and a word is sung over and over -- which is virtually unrecognizable -- but the tune is catchy. Furthermore, it makes me, whether I want to or not, remember the "Good Morning Football" program all day. I awaken in the wee hours with the tune throbbing in my head.
I have, what many of my friends define as an uncanny recall of my entire life. I owe that largely to music. For example, Doris Day's hit, "How Much is that Doggie in the Window" takes me back to the year I was five years old and we lived in Grand Saline, Texas. I never hear the Token's hit, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" without remembering the move to Ennis in 1961. Even later in my life, when Carolyn and I were moving from Lubbock to Nacogdoches, the memories of that experience are jogged by Eddie Money's hit, "Baby Hold On."
Now that grandbabies have come along, little songs by Moose A. Moose help me remember the memories of being with them in their toddler years.
And I can't hear Jester Hairston's world-famous spiritual, "Amen" without remembering singing in the a cappella choir in Midland during high school.
Scripture is replete with the influence of music; We read about Israel's first king, Saul, literally going crazy because little shepherd boy, David, upstaged him terribly by slaying the 10 foot tall Goliath. The women of Israel started singing a little ditty called, "Saul hath slain his thousands, and David, his ten thousands." The song didn't go over very well with the king. But a strange thing happened; David, who was an accomplished lyre player, strummed some tunes which calmed Saul down.
We are told in the Psalms to "make a joyful noise unto the Lord." God, the Father, is honored and is well pleased when His children worship him, using music. Which kind does He like? Is it the rock bands that scream loud music? Is it the "high church" that sings anthems in perfect four-part harmony to the backdrop of a 12 foot grand piano and a pipe organ? Is it a Swahili tune like "O Sifuni Mungu?" Is it an old hymn with a country-western sound at the Cowboy Church?
Let me take a time-out from today's church worship war, and say, that we can conclude that music which is played, or sung from a heart of worship, and contains words which are biblical, and which honor Him is the kind of music He loves.
While I think it's a dishonor to God when 90 percent of worship consists of music and about 10 percent is Bible teaching and preaching. Having said that, I also would hate to belong to a church where there was no music -- no outlet provided whereby God's children could lift voices in praise and worship to him.
Some songs don't necessarily lend themselves to worship and praise. I loved John Maxwell's story once of when he was a pastor in El Cajon, Calif. and his organist decided to play a 14th Century dirge for the offertory. He said he felt himself slumping in his seat and saw looks of despair on the faces of his parishioners as the dirge was being played.
When he took the organist to lunch a few days later, Maxwell firmly told him, "Jim, the next time you have the urge to dirge, please call me."
Music sets the tone in the church -- and it sets the tone, basically for life in general. If you have a song in your heart, and it's a God-honoring song, don't suppress it.
Paul Gauntt currently serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Palmer.