Monday, October 27, 2008


This verse really spoke to me this morning. "...Sing praises with a skillful psalm." (Psalm 47:7) And I was reminded of the duty that we have as Christian musicians, worship leaders, etc. to sing skillful psalms to the Lord--to give Him our best--not give Him our leftovers--but give Him the firstfruits of our talents, of our songs, of our worship. It should be our duty, our joy, our desire and the expectation of the body of Christ to sing with skillful songs. Certainly and primarily they must come from the overflow of our hearts and be Spirit-driven, Scripture-saturated, and Gospel-centered; but they must also be done skillfully. They must be crafted in such a way as to reflect and express quality, passion, beauty, and excellence, all of which flow from God Himself.

The obvious question becomes: "What is the standard for something being 'skillful?'" I love what Paul Baloche and Mia Fieldes said during the Integrity Conference last week that applies to this. They said that there is nothing wrong with anyone being a learner or a novice or a beginner when it comes to leading worship. The problem comes when you're not moving forward. The problem comes if you're staying there. If you're not moving on. If you're not giving yourself to study, training and practice, seeking to become better. And really, that applies to anything we do in life. If we ever get to the point where we think we have arrived in song-writing or preaching or teaching or Biblical understanding or whatever the case may be ... then we have a problem. But let's make it our goal to bring glory to God in whatever we set our hands to do and to do so with the skill that God has given us while being careful to foster and grow that skill as good stewards.


Andrew said...


I love that you highlight Ps. 47 the day before your CD release. You elucidate encouraging truths about offering skillful songs to God as we continue to grow in our gifts. In many ways this whole psalm is my prayer for both you and Tasha as this concert marks a new phase in your ministry. Last night you presented God with your best, your first-fruits, but I pray that it is merely the beginning.

I want you to picture the situation in which the Israelites would often use this psalm in their worship. From about May until September/Octoberish the land of Canaan would experience a regular period of absolute dryness. The sky would be a clear blue every day, but the land would get more and more desiccated. As an agricultural people, they were completely dependent on the rains to water their dry land and bring forth the much needed crops. They continued to do the daily work, and they would even work their summer crops, but life was hard and uncertain. Exhaustion would set in, and the people would soon start asking God when this period of the year would finally end. When would the rains come again?

Then finally there would be a little cloud in the distance, rising up from the Mediterranean Sea. It would grow into a billowing cloud that would grow larger and larger as it got closer. In a very pictorial way Yahweh would come riding on the clouds to bring them the much needed rain (picture 1 Kings 18.41-46). Accompanied by strong wind, lightening, and thunder, Yahweh would remind them once again why he was their king and why they were to worship him as Lord. He was their provider and the ruler over the whole world.

The people would gather in their summer crops and bring the best of these first-fruits to celebrate together at the great harvest festival. Yahweh had once again proven his dominion over the natural elements, and they should rightly worship him as king. They would clap their hands, shout to God, and worship their exalted king from their inmost being – with a skillful song. Psalm 47 was one of the psalms used in this joyous celebration. While the celebration was a wonderful expression of provision, there was always a small sense of uneasiness. Whereas the dry season was entirely predictable, the wet season was notoriously unpredictable: rain did not always continue after the first flood. The people were even more dependent on Yahweh to continue to bring the abundant rains so that they could survive the next year. Sometimes the rains wouldn't persist, but by God's grace it often would. Therefore, the festival was a time of joy and thanksgiving but also a time of invocation for continued sustenance.

This CD marks the end of a long season in you guys' ministry. But as the festival marks both the end of one season and the beginning of the next, God has brought the first rains that are even now showering down on you and carrying you to the next season. One exciting part is that your skillful songs, your "crops" that will grow, are the ability to lead the people in these praises. You are calling on the people to come with shouts of joy and celebrate the Christ that has trampled down the enemy under his feet. You are playing the instruments and singing the praises that celebrate God's reminder of sovereign kingship. What a remarkable blessing!

To return to my first statements, my prayer is that you will truly enjoy this flood of God's blessing as you release the toil of your hard work. I pray that God will continue to rain down his blessings on your ministry. I pray that you will grow, that you will flower, that you will present the fruits of his benevolent grace for the benefit of the church. I pray that you will stay healthy in your growth, that you will not come under attack from the elements (internal or external). I pray that Tasha, your one flesh, will grow with you and that you will encourage each other's development as joint partners in this ministry. I pray that you can take these praises to the nations, as the people of the God of Abraham. I pray that you will persevere through the painful periods of pruning away the sin and imperfection that only come to light as you grow. I pray for endurance, peace of mind, provision. I pray for rain.