Harmony beyond the music; the importance of tolerance

As I write you today, we just elected a new president. It was a historic event for a lot of reasons, and not all of them good I’m afraid. It amazes me sometimes how much hatred, intolerance and judgment those of us who call ourselves Christians can display. I won’t get into the details, rehash any of the negative things that were being said or give any more space to it here than absolutely necessary. Let me state a just a couple of things though, that should be obvious to most of us by now.

1. There is only one God. He is the only one with the power to decide anyone’s destination after they die.

2. I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about Him, His ways or how He thinks (some people claim to). But I think I can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that if I go to hell it won’t be because of who I voted for or didn’t vote for.

3. No matter how creative you get with scripture, God has not given anyone the power to condemn anyone to hell. You can use all the “fruit inspector” references you want to in order to justify judging people harshly, but the word of God is clear.

4. God kinda expects most of the hatred, bigotry and negativity happening in the world to come from other people, not His followers.

One of the saddest truths about Christianity is that pretty-much all of the hatred and disdain people feel towards it all over the world is largely due to the actions of Christians.

It’s important for us all to remember at all times that we are representatives of  Christ. People get their opinion of Christianity from watching Christians. It’s important we remember that in our day to day actions and conversations.  Let’s extend the harmony we put into our music to our fellow man. Let’s try to be more tolerant. More respectful of differences. Whether it be appearance, religion or how someone voted.

Image courtesy of Stuart MilesFreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dear musician, Dear Critic (2 open letters)

2008.11.12 - The letterDear Musician,

You’ve been on my heart lately. I hope it’s ok if I just talk to you for a minute from there. You see as a music lover and a musician myself I understand what it’s like to be you better than anyone. I know what it’s like to love your craft so much that you spend hours, weeks, months and years enhancing and perfecting it. But I also know the other side. The unfortunate, ugly side. I know that often the same people who silently criticized you for not being up to standard often openly rebuke you once you’ve reached that level of excellence.

I know that other musicians who haven’t reached that level often criticize you of not really being sincere. Playing for self-glorification. Using your gift for personal attention and fame. See, it’s easier to do that than to support and enjoy the gift of God working through you. It’s easier because to do that would mean admitting that you’ve simply worked harder, been more dedicated and practiced more than they have. And that’s very hard for some musicians to admit.
I can only imagine how it must feel to hear someone lambasting you in a round about way over the PA system, apparently for no other reason than because you play with a high level of excellence. I know that you often get criticized because you get so many accolades for your gift. People follow you, become groupies almost. You don’t ask for it, you don’t seek it. But you do get criticized for it.

I want to encourage you, anointed musician, to continue giving God your very best. I know the talk is hard to hear. I know it’s discouraging to hear you peers hate on you. But TD Jakes said once, “favor ain’t fair”. People will talk. People will give their opinion of how sincere you are, or whether you do it for the attention, or for show. But the thing is, nobody could possibly know that but you and God.

So since you know that He knows your heart, be sure that your heart is pure. Play for Him, and only for Him. Accept no glory for what God does through you. When the Complements, Kudos and praises come, take no credit. Deflect them all to Him. Remain humble and always be a team player. If the spotlight is cast your way, make sure it is God who focused it on you and not you yourself.

I’ll be praying for you as you continue to serve God with your gift.


Dear Critic,

There is something that has been bothering me a little and I hope you’ll allow me to share my heart with you respectfully and in love.  I’ve been at a few church events that you were at also, and I’ve heard you speak pretty passionately about some musicians that were there. You had some pretty tough things to say. I’m not here to say you were wrong, by any means. I believe with all my heart that a musician should play to the glory and honor of God. I believe it should NOT be about show, and I believe that every musician playing in church needs to be doing it as his ministry and service to God,  period. Not for any glory or fame for him.

So my problem isn’t necessarily what you say, but how you go about it. At the end of the day, none of us know from the outside looking on where a musician’s heart is. And I think it’s wrong to assume that every musician who excels to a  high level though hard work and diligence should automatically be labeled as fake, or not sincere, or doing it for show.

But that’s not even the worst thing for me. For me, it’s the public way we tend to do it. Criticism like this is often said in a very public way, over PA systems and from podiums; often with the musicians still there. You never use names, of course, but it’s usually pretty obvious. To me this is a very sad and unfortunate element of our culture. It does not seek to teach or edify in any way, only to tear down. If your heart is in the right place, why not go to the musician privately if you think there may be an issue with his focus or true motivation? Why not offer a word of prayer or an understanding ear as you speak to him about your concerns in love? Can we stop using public forums to tear each other down and criticize each other?

Finally, I would ask you to do one other thing. Just like nobody could really know the true heart or motivations of the musician (unless you know him personally) only you and God know your true motivation for the criticism. You see, it’s a fact that most criticism musicians get comes from other musicians who play the same instrument. And the fact is, many times the musician doing the criticizing has not reached the skill level of the musician he’s criticizing.

If you’re not a musician but you feel the need to openly criticize and rebuke one, I urge you to ask yourself why. Deep in your heart, are you doing this out of concern, or is it to get a reaction from the congregation? Only you and God know. But I pray the next time you find yourself in the same situation you would pray for guidance before you speak. I pray that you would choose to act with compassion and understanding rather than malice or hatred. At the end of the day, the only reason to publicly rebuke a musician or anyone else, is to draw attention, glory and praise to yourself. And that’s kinda what you’re criticizing the musician for….right?

In love,


3 ways to keep DRAMA off your praise team

What is it about Praise And Worship teams that attract so much dissension? Why is there seemingly so much more animosity and discord in the praise team, of all places, than in any of the other groups? I’ve often thought about this. I’ll discuss it with you briefly in today’s blog and offer 3 ideas I believe will greatly reduce or minimize drama on your Praise Team.

1. Implement an in-depth interview/evaluation process for new members
A “come one come all”, open-door membership policy is a sure-fire way to insure you will always be dealing with a lot of drama on your praise team. Why? Because many people gravitate to praise teams for all the wrong reasons.
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