Sunday, November 8, 2015

The importance of Music in Church

Had to write a paper for Church History Class, so thought I'd share it.  You are dealing with one lazy blogger! 

The Importance of Music in Church Services
             If you are going to make the case for the importance of a thing, it is customary to be able to express how the particular thing has value or serves a purpose.  So in regarding the importance of music in the church, we have to ask the questions:
·         Does music serve a purpose in church services?
·         Is music valuable to church services?
If these two questions are examined and answered, we will truly know the importance of music in church. 
Taking Care of Business
            My earliest recollection of the role that music played in church services was one of structure.  The Catholic Church service was divided in parts and the music would tell the parish what was happening next.  The service would open and end with songs of praise and worship and at certain intervals parts of the mass where sung.  So music played the utilitarian role of time keeper; my family was particularly fond of the closing hymn that marked the end of service. 
            Beyond the basic divisions of time, church music played the more important role of teaching and giving praise.  The hymns that were sung in church reinforced the lessons about Christian doctrine I learned in Sunday school.  My fondest memories of church music in my youth was giving praise and honor to God in song, particularly with Christmas themed hymns like “Come All Ye Faithful”, “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World!”.  These moments of my youth in church proclaiming praise in song had me deeply rooted in belief in Christ and proud to be one of his followers.   
Purpose? The purpose of music is to Rock!
It is commonly thought that the purpose of music is to entertain.  The criticism of the use of music in the church has primarily been aimed at the entertainment value of the music performed. When the focus of music in church is solely for the entertainment of the audience, these criticisms are warranted.   While music is a form of entertainment and entertainment could be listed as one of the purposes of music in church,   the main purpose of the gathering of the church service is to give glory, honor, and praise to God so this should be the purpose of the music in the church service as well. 
The argument against music in church could take aim at the content of the music, the style, or both.  Throughout the ages of church history, critics have claimed that certain forms of church music was dishonoring God, making light of the gospel, or was too worldly. The use of particular musical instruments, hymns, or certain arrangements was deemed an unholy form of praise, unbiblical, or drew the attention from God to individuals.  For example, the Lutherans used organs, choirs, and traditional catholic congregational songs that reinforced the meaning of the gospel where as other branches of Protestantism rejected these forms, insisting that the only acceptable music was music that came directly from scripture.  So who’s right?
Music appreciation is truly subjective. Our grandparents’ standard of acceptable church music is different from our standards.  The Lutherans and the Calvinists had different standards.  Styles and standards might change but we must remember that our purpose is to glorify God, and if that is the case, I feel that the music in church must: 
·         Give respectful and reverent praise towards God
·         Be in accordance with biblically moral standards of conduct and decency
·         Be biblically and doctrinally accurate.
This might be a short list of requirements but as long as they are met, who am I or anyone else to say that the way that someone chooses to honor and praise the Lord is wrong.  So be it rap, country western, or didgeridoo church music, as long as God is being praised respectfully, genuinely, and accurately the true purpose of church music is fulfilled. 
Value: Beyond Purpose
            The purpose of church music has been shown to be:
·         Utilitarian – Division and structure, keeping time.
·         Educational – Teaching and reinforcing gospel doctrine.
·         Entertainment – Some list church music as the reason for going to church!
·         Devotional – Praise and Honor to God.
Church music fits the bill in terms of purpose.  Something meeting four purposes would automatically be considered valuable.   Four purposes shows music in church has a quantifiable value.  However, sometimes it’s not the quantity that matters; it’s the quality that really determines value.  Sometimes the whole is worth more than the sum of the parts.   There are two qualitative aspects to music in church that go beyond purpose and surpass the use of music in any other setting.  These two aspects are: the sense of community and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.   
            It is true that music brings people together but the sense of community that is established when believers of the one true God come together and give praise, honor and glory to Him is more than the good vibes of a rock concert. It is the united proclamation of truth and devotion that builds bonds between believers corporately while also connecting believers to God Himself.  A small glimpse of heaven is gained when believers rise up joined in song. You can imagine the scene in Revelation 4 where the living creatures “do not rest day or night, saying “Holy , holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”  This sense of community is the result of the fully appropriate and righteous praise of the Lord. 
            The sense of community that we feel in church through music is amplified through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This anointing is understood by believers when the quality of the worship is elevated in a sense where the presence of God seems to flow through you and wash over you. The experience is marked by incredible joy and an overwhelming flow of emotion and timelessness that is difficult to articulate but is understood experientially as something super natural.  The first time I experienced this anointing at Rock Solid Church I was visible shaken and taken aback by the power I experienced. I was new to the church and I remember a member of the congregation greeting me.  I remember saying “Yeah” or “Wow!” and He just sort of laughed because he could see I was really moved by the worship.  It was okay because I didn’t have much more to say, having been rendered speechless. 
This is what is special about music in church or church music anywhere; it connects us to God.  It takes that intellectual knowledge and ties it to our hearts and the Holy Spirit is confirming that it is real and it is all true.  These realizations and experiences of abiding with the Holy Spirit I have known have come through prayer, studying the word, praying in tongues, and praising Him through music.  So if you ask me if it is important to have music in church, I would have to say “Yeah” or “Wow!” 


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Time Flies - Testimony Time Line -

(photo credit: 

Promises, Promises,  My well-intentioned declaration to write everyday didn't work out!

Anyway I was sharing some things about myself.... and I left off with the birth of my twin boys back in 2001.  Holden was the larger healthier twin who came home shortly after being born but his older (by a few minutes)  smaller brother Brennan had to stay in the hospital a few weeks and when he came home he had a heart monitor attached. We called Brennan beeper for a while because in the middle of the night or at random times during the day he would shift the monitor or somehow set it off, cause us to freak out and run to his crib to make sure he was still alive!  Thank God he was!  I'm happy to report that Brennan is currently in eighth grade and turning 14 in December.

My Son Holden died of pneumonia in March of 2002.  Holden and Brennan got colds in March and we were concerned and took them both to the doctor on a Saturday.  The doctor said they would be fine but Holden took a turn for the worse. I got up with the babies at night and I attended to Holden, gave him a bottle and fell asleep with him in my arms sitting in the recliner in our living room.  When I woke up he was cold and unresponsive. I screamed for my wife to call 911 and started doing CPR, Michele tried too. The first state trooper on the scene took over. The paramedics took him to the hospital. They worked on him their until a doctor eventually told us that he was gone.

We went home.  The state troopers showed up to ask me some questions.  I was afraid I had inadvertently smothered Holden because there was blood on my shirt. I gave the shirt to the detectives.  The medical examiner's autopsy showed that Holden's lungs were diseased, the pneumonia.  I remember being really angry and lost in grief.  

Brennan was fine and we baptized him shortly after Holden's funeral.  I was angry so I stopped going to church.  I kept busy, working and taking care of Haley and Brennan, but I was really lost in grief for quite some time, 2 years I think.

Around 2005 I discovered Buddhism and its philosophy that life is suffering. That spoke to me so I went full fledged Buddhist for 5 years; Reading Buddhist's teaching, meditating, going to the local Buddhist center,  I thought I had found a wise philosophy of life to deal with the suffering through appropriate actions and by re-identifying and re-prioritizing things in my life.  God was something of a mystery, as a Buddhist you don't deny He exists but you sure don't look to Him for any help. A Buddhist is too busy practicing meditation and staying grounded in the present moment with yourself as the center of attention and the ability to transcend all suffering if you work hard enough, being so dedicated that we are content to continue to work it out in the next life if necessary!  I remember feeling "enlightened" that I didn't believe in or rely on a God to help me; people that believed in a God were weak and lacked understanding.  Karma ran the universe, you just had to change your karma!  Practice and Study the Dharma, get good Karma.  Oh boy!   I am thankful for what I learned through my experience in Buddhism particularly the techniques of meditation and viewing material things as they really are, but the theology/cosmology of Buddhism is man saying "I can do it myself if I just work hard enough". Now that is a philosophy that is common and lacks understanding.  This universe had a beginning and has a purpose.

To find the purpose We have to look at the beginning.  Genesis 1:1 says  "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  Everything begins with God,  Everything is going to end with God too. We can deny Him. We can say He doesn't exist.  We can make up a God that is comfortable to live with,  We can do lots of things. It doesn't mean we should.  We can run but we can't hide.

In spring of 2010, I was a full fledged Buddhist, doing medicine Buddha chants on the side of the road while flagging traffic for my construction job but God had decided that I had run long and far enough.  He wasn't going to be ignored anymore.    

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I am not a perfect person!

(Photo Credit: 

My intentions going forward are to write in this blog everyday, for better and most likely worse.

About me - real quick like.

Born 1972 June.

I live in Upstate NY and was born to Irish & Polish parents of the Catholic faith.

My Dad is !00 % Irish, worked as a correctional officer (retired) so it may not surprise you to hear he has been known to drink and had a short fuse at times.

My Mon is 100% Polish, she likes to play the ponies and  used to work for the Phone Company.

So I grew up in the Catholic Church but when my teenage years (17) really started taking off I was sure that my desires and actions would send me to hell. I liked to drink and was very interested in the prospects of premarital sex.  So instead of going to confession I decided to just deny God altogether.  I was also extremely liberal and humanistic I guess.  

So I was a quasi lost Catholic/atheist from 17-23 or so.

At 22 I met the woman who would become my wife, Michele,  I was sort of lost and lonely and although she had a 10 year old daughter and I wasn't sure about being a step parent, We got romantically involved and a few months later I was moving in.   Michele was a non-practicing Episcopalian but after a few years we decided to get married and have kids so we started going to Church.   The Episcopalian church was great, compared to the Catholic church I was used to.  The reverends were really nice guys and as it turned out gay lovers.  That was fine and dandy with me.  Like I said I was extremely liberal and thought people should have the right to love who they wanted, and that gays could serve in the church, why not.  I even went to classes to learn about the Episcopalian Church and the next thing I knew I was being annointed with oil and was a confirmed Episcopalian!

Michele and I got married in 1998 and our daughter Haley was born in July of 2000.  Things were good.  We got the news shortly after Michele was going to have twin boys! Michele was pregnant with them during 911 and a few months later Brennan and Holden Clark were prematurely born on 122101.   Holden was the bigger boy and got to come home shortly after. Brennan was smaller and had to stay in the hospital for a week or two and when he came home he had a heart monitor attached.

that's all the time I have for today. Pretty terrible, I bet, but I will continue everyday now. I have a lot to say and no time to say it.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Empty for Christ

What does it mean to be empty for Christ?

Being empty for Christ is synonymous with walking in the Spirit, being surrendered to God’s will, or being dedicated to His service. Simply stated it is a phrase that describes my commitment to try to pursue the Lord’s will for my life.  Having received God’s gift of grace, I recognized that it is my reasonable service to seek His guidance for my life and to deepen my relationship with Christ through prayer, study, praise, meditation, obedience, and service.  

Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” 

The purpose of this blog is threefold: 

1. To share the gospel and my personal testimony, giving all the glory and praise to God for what He has done and is continuing to do in my life.  

2. To encourage others to put their faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation, to surrender to God's will for their lives, and to continually deepen their understanding and personal relationship with Christ.  

3, To document my journey as a Christian, to keep my focus on the Lord, and to determine His purpose for me.