Music and Worship

I can't tell you how many times as a worship leader I've been asked, "can you play this song", "can we do more of this particular style".  Or I have heard "that's not worship" or, "I can't worship to that style"   It's the never ending balance of tension between the new songs and the old songs, between different styles and genres.   It's so easy to point the finger and say " can't you just worship, it's not about you".  I guess that's easy to say since I'm the one picking the songs.  I was praying and thinking about this recently, asking God, how does music fit in all of this worship thing.  The bible doesn't spend a whole lot of time discussing music and worship, and even the majority of the words in the bible dealing worship don't have anything to do with music.  As I was praying about it I got a great picture that gives insight into the arts and worship.  I live in Tucson, Arizona.  I love the view of the mountains, and I love the view of the mountains from the balcony of my house.  So many times this year I've gone out on my balcony, looked out at the mountains, 68 degrees, birds singing, and expressed praise to God.  Thank you God for your creation, You are truly a good God.  I also don't like the heat (I know you're saying, Jeff you live in Tucson).  Well I've heard it said that the summer is our payment for living in Arizona.  It's beautiful about 8 months out of the year, so I try not to complain during those summer months.  Anyways, I can go out on my balcony with the same view, but this time it's 115 degrees with the sun burning my skin like a piece of bacon, the noise of rattlesnakes instead of birds, and my response is ugh, this heat, I'm miserable I can't wait till fall.   Same scene but a totally different response.  

The atmosphere of that beautiful day helps me worship, it stirs my soul and then I respond with praise.  Both days are worthy of God's praise, but one setting propels me to worship, the other is a fight.  This is also a very personal thing, some people in Arizona absolutely love the hot temperatures, they can't wait for summer.  Thank God for seasons.  Music and songs can be a tool that moves the soul and moves us to respond with praise and worship, no different than a movie, beautiful piece or art, or a sunset.  Nothing wrong with this, in fact it's how God made us.  I totally see how an old song from past generations can help someone worship. We are called to worship God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Music can engage our entire being in worship, music moves our heart, our emotions, our bodies, and our spirit, that's why it's so powerful.  The temple and tabernacle set up in the old testament had a great atmosphere.  Burning incense, baked bread, quiet, and nicely dimmed lighting.  God understands our make up, atmosphere and mood is important.  The problem is when that becomes the only trigger for us to worship. When our worship is tied to a particular song, instrument, or circumstance.  When we begin to worship worship more than the One we worship.  That's a maturity thing.  As we grow in Christ, we must learn to worship God with everything in us no matter what the circumstance, the setting, or the song.  That's when you can go into any service, no matter the style, instrumentation, or even language and worship with all your heart.  In fact some battles can only be won when we worship our way through the junk of life,  then when our favorite song comes, ahh that's just a bonus.  In fact I've got to go, Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble just came on.