Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fighting The Music Devil

I've lived with the Music Devil pretty much all my life.

I know what it is to struggle---and lose the fight---with the Music Devil.

Many who will read this blog may have never heard my piano playing. There are those, however, that can attest to the ability that God has seen fit to bless me with, and I readily give Him all the glory for it.

I can play the Jerry Lee Lewis "Whole Lotta Shakin'" style, the good ol' southern gospel style, the Floyd Cramer stuff, the jazzy-bluesy feel, the black gospel stuff...God has been very, very, very good to me in trusting me with such ability. It's all Him. I've never had lessons, and can't read music.

When I went to Jackson College of Ministries a few years ago, everyone naturally assumed that I was attending as a music major.

I wasn't.

When we came to Austin two years ago, everyone assumed I would immediately jump into the music program.

I didn't.

I know all too well the struggle with the Music Devil. I didn't want to fight him again...not that early in the transition period of ministry.

I have been abundantly blessed with music through most of my life; I have been the "musician that you couldn't do without" in too many churches to count. I've been the one who made the faces, who griped about the sound man, who mouthed off during choir practices. I am the one Bro. Pastor patted on the back, gave a pep-talk to, turned his head the other way when I was acting the fool, yet kept putting me up on the piano bench.

And I hated myself for it.

But you know something? I despised even moreso the pastors who put up with me.

Nothing is more spineless and pathetic than a supposed "man of God" who doesn't have the backbone to sit a musician down when they're not measuring up. Give me a pastor that will set me on a pew and sing off-key acapella rather than allow me to have my petty little way and ruin the service.

You want to have a move of God, pastors? You want to stop what's hindering the flow of the Holy Ghost on your platform? Then sit the carnal musician down, tell them to line up with the Word of God and your God-ordained platform policy, or send them packing.

What's more important? Having a clear channel for the Holy Ghost to move through? or having a praise team that can "rock the house" and impress all your visitors? Give me no music and the Presence of the Almighty any day over an incredibly-talented praise team missing the Anointing.

Let me share with you something that I never thought I would share with anyone...

I was the piano player in a service one night several years ago; we were singing some old Pentecostal worship chorus..."He Set Me Free" or something similar...people were going nuts. At one particular place in the chorus, I would do one of my little Jerry Lee "Killer" runs, and the congregation would "worship" even more frantically. I watched with complete detachment (I wasn't feeling a thing) as "my" music controlled the temperature of the congregation. Almost like a scientist in a lab out to prove a theory, I went into a very passive mode of playing for about two passes of the chorus...the worship toned down, the shouters quit shouting, the jumpers quit jumping...and then, at the appropriate time, WHAM! I did my little "Goodness gracious, great balls 'o' fire!" run and hit the keyboard wide open...The place went absolutely berserk again.

Musicians understand the power they have over a service. More importantly, the spirit within understands that power, which is why the struggle is so great. You are not dealing merely with talented people who are moody; you are dealing with talented people that Satan knows are moody. And if he can get to them before you do, before God does, he understands that your services are doomed.

We are much like the teenage daughter who pushed her parents to see how much they would allow her to get away with. The one man...yea, the ONLY ever sit me down, get in my face, and tell me point-blank, "I don't need you, I don't need your talent, and I don't need your attitude" has more of my respect, love, and admiration than all the other pastors I ever had...combined.

Why? Because I was dealing with a spirit of darkness, and I knew it. I needed a strong man to help me stare that spirit down and defeat it. And once I found that man, I had no problems dealing with the "Music Devil".

We don't need to be coddled, Pastor. We need to be led by men who are stronger than we are, and who realize they're stronger than we are. Men who are not afraid to sing off-key, if need be, to have a move of the Holy Ghost.

A common statement—usually uttered in disdain on the part of a frustrated pastor—that I disagree with is the statement: "There is always a replacement...and usually much better." This is not true. Quality musicians are not so easy to find in our churches anymore. And we know it, in spite of what you try to preach from your pulpits.

But that's where you, Bro. Pastor, cannot be afraid to sit us down.

If you dare let us think that you would rather have good music than a move of the Spirit, the Music Devil will come calling.

And the next time we go a day or two without praying, the next time someone doesn't sing the song the way we learned it, the next time someone pulls an old musty-dusty out of the hymnal, the Music Devil will be there whispering that you can't make it without us, that you can't have church without us.

Prove us wrong. Prove the Music Devil wrong.

Help us musicians whip the Music Devil.

Some of us hate him even worse than you do, because we have to fight him every time we step up to an instrument.

*If you are a Pastor, Minister of Music, etc, and are interested, I am available to teach seminars on the proper role and place of music in the Kingdom of God. For more information, please visit the following website. Thank you for prayerfully considering me.*


Anonymous said...

Bro. Steve, thank you so much for this post. I found this from another blog and decided to read it since it was recommended. I'm glad I did. I have two sons (ages 22 & 16) who play the guitar and keyboard, respectively, in our church, and have for a long time. I have emailed this to them to read. I believe they can benefit from it. Those of you who have "been there" can really help the new kids who are on their way. Again, thank you and may God bless you.

Keith and Carla said...

Well written! I, too, came here through another blog. I will be sharing this with the rest of my team at our next practice. Thank you for sharing. God bless!

Jewel said...

Thank you for baring your soul, Bro. Shubert. I am music director at our church and I have felt many of these same feelings and struggled with them. Thankfully, the Lord has taught me time again...and again...and again,the value of true humility, just when I need it the most. Again, thank you from my heart. I will be sharing this with our music department.

karing1960 said...

Bro., This was an awesome post. I found this also on another blog, and I must show it to my husband. He is a keyboard player at our church, and we've had many discussions on the topic of music in church along the same lines as your post. Thank you for being so upfront and honest There are times when I sometimes feel a church may substitute the move of the Holy Ghost with music. If god ain't in the song, it's just a pretty song.
God Bless,

Pastor R Kent Smith said...


You are a good man....


Lee_58 said...

I appreciate the strength it must have taken to write this. I am not really a musically talented person, but I DO love worshipful music. Music IS a medium of praise - it either praises God or it doesn't. Some people feel any kind of music is ok - I disagree. I know of kids who play Guitar Hero on the playstation and they do not realize where some of that music comes from - it surely isn't praising God and it does awaken something spiritual - just not good! Just because the lyrics aren't there doesn't make it ok - the music itself stirs up unholy things. Thankfully, I know parents who do NOT allow their children to play this game as they do realize the harm it can cause.

Bassthumper said...

Shubes I am glad someone like you had the ability to express what many of us have dealt with. I too have been attacked by the music devil and only wish I would have been sat down. I only wish that pastors had the strength to overcome and do this when the music devil rises up.