And the three men I admire most:
The father, son, and the holy ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died.

                                                                                               Don McLean, American Pie

Am I the only one who's noticed?

I visit a city from time to time where there’s a great Christian Bookstore. I say “great” because holding court behind the music counter is a veritable modern-day Revolutionary. He’s a young man with vision who senses the shifting of wineskins. Though he’s ordained by an evangelical church, his heart is with the Emerging Church. When I’m in his city, I always ask, “what’s new and good?” The last two times I asked, the answer was not encouraging.

The other day I was looking for some new music to download onto my brand new iPod, and over the course of several days’ searching, what I discovered only underscored what my bookstore friend told me: “There’s really not much out there right now.”

Have you noticed? Or am I the only one? Christian artists currently seem to be left to producing “The Best Of” or “Best Loved Favorites” in order both to provide the Body of Christ with something “new” to consider and to keep an income stream flowing for themselves.

Sorry to say it, but new arrangements of old compositions is not "New" music.

Contemporary Christian worship music just isn’t “contemporary.” The current state of the “current” is a far cry     from the days when our hearts were pierced by the sounds of the “Best of Heaven” and the “stream” was the    river of God.

In the 1990’s, there was a sudden, rushing flow of inspired, brilliant, heart-burning music; a sound like we’d never heard before.

It seemed in those days that every time we experienced a new worship CD and new corporate worship, the lyrics, the sound, the flow touched us right where our hearts were. The music of the new century is – well, not new. And the difference between the two is palpable. In the ‘90’s, there was movement, there was wind and fire. There was inspiration, a realization that God was among us. In the first years of the 21st century, there is a certain “deadness,” a “staleness,” a “lifelessness” compared with the decade past.

Yet if I hear the worship leaders and the songwriters correctly, they are at a stalemate, not in their spiritual lives, but in their hearing a distinct “sound” from heaven. Blame them if you like, but I don’t believe our worship leaders are at fault in this period of silence.

I think the lack of contemporary, creative, heart-piercing music is suggestive of a larger drama playing out before the eyes of the church world-wide.

What I sense is that the hand of God has been extended – not in blessing, but rather “staying,” silencing the church and her ability to create a clear stream of worship. It is as though heaven were saying, “Stop!” “Hold it!” “Wait.”

I think that God in His mercy, grace and goodness is refusing to allow the train to just charge down the track without direction, purpose and pace.

It's as though God’s finger has touched the “pause” button on the iPod of His church.

I talk with lots of Christian people, from all kinds of positions in the Body and from different nations, denominations, persuasions and distinctions. I’m with the pastor of an Institutional church one day and with a band of “out-of-churchers” the next. Interestingly, I hear much the same kinds of things from those on all sides of the   spiritual-religio bandwidth. They all say similar things: What once worked isn’t working any longer. Sunday morning church is stale; worship is musty and bland; sermons are harder to compose, harder still to preach and harder yet to find lodging in hearers hearts. Or “We left the church structure, but what we’ve found isn’t any better.”

When a physician examines a patient complaining that “something doesn’t feel right,” a series of tests might be ordered the results of which will be measured against a known “baseline” of “normative” indications and a diagnosis will be made, eventuating in a prescription for recovery.

When the “something doesn’t feel right” amounts to “God’s not speaking, moving, touching like He was,” the resulting diagnosis may lead to a painful prescription – “Don’t move: Listen!”

When heaven speaks, the Body responds. When heaven is silent, we should be still.

I believe there is coming a new “sound” from heaven – not simply a new variation on the old; not a new “style” or  beat or rhythm, but an entirely new “sound.” Some might call it an “unction” or an “anointing.” One thing is for certain – when heaven releases the awaited “sound,” the “ear” will hear it.

Until then, this may be a good opportunity for some sorting of our own “stuff,” tossing out “excess luggage,” you know – those seemingly “little” things like wrong attitudes, and wrong actions, bitterness’s, resentments, petty, childish behavior and holding on to the precious principles of spiritual life. God will move and speak and guide in the not-too-distant future. I want to be positioned for His use, ready to move at His command, listening for “The Sound” to come from heaven.

In His Grace,


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