Milestones – and serious ideas

Well, if anyone had told me that the first 1000 hits on this blog would result in less than 10 comments to me personally (five on this blog itself and three or four elsewhere), I would have laughed. Like I said in the post where I re-started writing in this blog – a blog is supposed to be a place where people interact, not (necessarily) a forum for one-way exchange of ideas (see the oxymoron in “one-way exchange?”)!

But this morning I have never been clearer that my job is not even to count the stats. My job is to write, and keep writing. Some folks will never come into contact with what I do musically on a personal level, but if they can take something from the words in this blog, then that is God’s work. I am beginning to get a sense that the readership of this blog has begun to diversify somewhat, and that is most interesting. Onwards and upwards!

This has been another super-intense week in many ways already, but I knew I needed to post to maintain momentum. God is doing amazing things right now and I wish I had the time to say more right now – but instead, I want to share a few serious ideas from today’s Word for Today:

”…Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12 Satan is out to tempt, trap and topple you. One of his favourite lies is that you can’t fall. He appeals to your ego: ‘You’ve got your spiritual act together; you’re too strong to stumble. Weaker people wouldn’t be able to handle it, but you can.’ This lie is intended to make you over-confident, to lead you to ‘…Trust in man… depend on flesh for (your) strength’ and ‘…turn away from the Lord’ (Jeremiah 17:5 NIV). It’s designed to get you to lower your guard and make you vulnerable to his schemes. Don’t play into his hands! Be wise: ‘Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall’ (Proverbs 16:18 NKJV). Live on your knees. Fortify yourself with God’s Word. Another of satan’s favourite lies is that you can’t stand. This appeals to your underlying sense of unworthiness, fear and inadequacy. He whispers, ‘Look at your track record. Compared to all those other good folks in church, you’re not worthy to be called a Christian. Just give up.’ Satan wants to divert you from ‘…Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy’ (Jude 24 NAS). He wants to get you focused on your negatives, your wayward friends, spiritual giants who fell, and tell you that because they couldn’t make it, you’ve no chance. He’ll replay your list of shortcomings to discourage you. Don’t go for it. ‘…He is a liar and the father of lies’ (John 8:44 NAS). Believing him makes you his victim. Refuse to let either pride or inadequacy defeat you.”

As I survery the fact that I am actually living a dream in this moment – I am in my final run-in to my first-ever concert of sacred classical music as a conductor – you need to know that the way things were looking not all that long ago, I was not ever supposed to ge there. Fate was looking like it was closing the door – if you believe that that’s how things work. But as a Bible-believing Christian, it looked like God Himself was saying, “this door is not one for you to walk through.” So I abandoned this dream. You see, the sentiments in the above devotional are incredibly meaningful to me, because I have experienced both spiritual complacency due to over-confidence and spiritual defeat due to over-processing my mistakes and weaknesses. And the latter was one of the biggest reasons why I had pretty much concluded that God didn’t want me to waste time trying to share faith in classical music. Gospel music had a chance. Jazz was kind of soon going to be history in my life, and…I would soon be doing nothing but theology.

So the journey to this point has been more profound than I can actually express in words. A person can be so keen to avoid being spiritually complacent that they lose the capacity to dream big dreams for God because they become scared that it is their ego talking rather than the Holy Spirit.

To recognise once again this morning that I have been called to share faith in both words AND music is an incredible experience. I am grateful to all those who have supported and who continue to support my Word-based theological ministry activities – teaching, preaching, advising/mentoring, and this blog. I am also grateful to those in my own church who support my music ministry activities, as well as the many in other churches who also do this – and to my friends, colleagues and fellow musicians who are part of what I do in music in so many ways, and especially those who respect my desire and rationale for sharing Christian faith in music even if  it is not themselves what they believe. I don’t take it for granted – and I know that the time is coming when you guys will have to consider the God question for yourselves! Some of you secular folks have been wiser and more understanding about who I am and what I do musically than many of those in my own church – and for years this has wrecked my head. Not any more. God knows what is what, and who is His, and every day we are making decisions for both this world and the next. Contrary to what I have heard in pulpits by some excellent preachers, God IS the father of ALL – because He is father by creation and father by redemption. Therefore, all men are my brothers – not just Christians – not just Seventh-Day Adventists – not just black (including Southern Asian and Middle-Eastern) men. But only some are my brothers in Christ – and I hope and pray that more and more of you would join me in that as time passes.

Like I said, I wasn’t supposed to be here. I thought that certain decisions I had taken a long time ago had blown any chance I might have had of sharing faith in music. But as I consider the fact that if I was a full-time pastor, my Word-based ministry output would still tend to reach more people inside the church, I see that his blog has enabled me to personally reflect on what it means to be a thinking musician in sacred music – working far beyond the walls of ecclesiastical establishments – which is the point of evangelism!

It’s only 1000 hits. The world won’t change based on that fact. And you guys may never talk back to me any more than you do now. But that’s OK. Thank you for coming here. Thank you for reading. Thanks to those of you who have shared these posts with others.

Today, the biggest milestone is not that this blog has passed the 1000-hit mark. The biggest milestone is that you and I and all those living in this moment have received yet another day to experience the gift of life.

Today, the serious idea to end all serious ideas links to the sentence above: why are any of us alive today?

Because JESUS is alive!

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