5 Things I Absolutely Love About Thanksgiving

As we all know, Thanksgiving was this last past Thursday. Amid the turkeys, gravies, stuffings, various side dishes and desserts, I took a lot of observations. Usually I’m pretty observant, but, knowing that I have to write a blog, I try to kick my observations up a notch (so I’ll have something to write about). Therefore, I’d like to share with you “5 Things I Absolutely Love About Thanksgiving” (in order of pretty important to super important).

Are you ready for the countdown?… Let’s go!


#5 The Christmas Holiday Kickoff

Let’s start here. The timespan between between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day is the ONLY time where you can play the same 25 Christmas songs over and over and over again and it’s OK. Any time before that OR after that is OUT OF ORDER. Therefore, let the commence music COMMENCE (but don’t get crazy with it).


#4 The Food

I’m an eater… I’ve been one all my life… I eat everyday… and I would say that I’m pretty good at it… but there’s something about the span between Thanksgiving and New Years that’s just full of awesome dinners. Sure there’s the traditional Turkey, but if you’re from a family like mine, you get copious amounts of all kinds of food AND depending on who’s house you’re visiting, you might even get an adventurous and tasty suprise… or two… or twenty.


#3 Family and Friends

Just because “family and friends” is in the #3 spot DOES NOT, in no way, diminish it’s significance (because once you see what’s in the 3 through 1 spots, you’ll understand). I love my family dearly and because I don’t live closeby, that makes holiday times like these that much more special.


#2 The Fellowship

Why is this different and seperate from #3? Simple. I’ve learned over my lifetime that just because you’re related doesn’t mean that you have to love/like your relatives. Family members can be in the same room and hate each others guts. I’m blessed to say that’s not the case with my lovey dovey ooey gooey family. Fellowship, which to me is being able to have an awesome time laughing, joking, kidding around, eating, and sharing saying what you’re thankful for, is a MAJOR thing I love about Thanksgiving.


#1 The Actual Giving of Thanks

The Bible says that we should give thanks continually (1 Thessalonians 5:16) because it’s God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. That alone is enough for me to end this section, BUT, for me, the actual giving of thanks in a public forum (at least it’s pretty public with my family) gives me the opportunity to tell a lot of people how God has kept me throughout the year and how I’m looking forward to what’s in store. I think that’s awesome!


What are some things that you absolutely loooooooove about Thanksgiving?

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

-Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)


Here’s wishing you all a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Don’t forget that Jesus Christ is the reason for the season.

happy_thanksgiving_t

Splicing the SACRED with the SECULAR [Part 6/6]: Conclusion

If nothing else, I hope that this blog series has caused you to think about what you do and why you do it. Of course, this is geared towards my fellow church musicians (pianists, organists, keyboardists, etc), but as a little bit of a conclusion, I want to submit this thought:


If you sold vaccuum cleaners, would anybody care about any of this stuff?

The short answer: Probably not.


Fortunately, we’re not talking about vaccuum cleaner sales, we’re talking about soul business through the medium of music. In the first blog of this series, I mentioned that I was guilty of splicing the sacred with the secular. As a musician, it comes with the territory IN THE SENSE THAT you want to put your best foot forward and display your best abilities in any and all musical situations. Sometimes when you’re digging for musical things to do in the middle of a performance, you revert to what’s comfortable (and comfort levels vary from musician to musician).

The turning point for me was when I started really studying my Bible (not to be a preacher or a minister of music or any kind of church official… just to be a better Christian). One thing that I’m continuing to learn is that we are all interconnected on this planet. One person has the ability to affect many, many others either directly or indirectly. Even if you just affect one person, that one person can affect others in what is commonly referred to as “The Butterfly Effect” (where small changes can have astronomical effects; aka Chaos Theory).

I suggest that when it comes to sacred music that you just be conscious of what you’re doing. This is NOT to negate any musical knowledge that you have outside of the church (because real musicians listen to a lot of different styles of music). Sure, you can splice a secular song in and nobody would even know what it is. In fact, in today’s church you would probably get a commendation from the older crowd and a head nod of agreement from your counterparts, but WHAT IF one person was thrown off? WHAT IF one person stumbled because of the music you played? WHAT IF one person turned away from Christ because they heard “the club” in the church? Would that be enough for you to remember the words in 1 Corinthians 8:11?


So because of your superior knowledge, a weak believer for whom Christ died will be destroyed. (NLT)


Is it really THAT serious?

Could you live with yourself if it was THAT serious?

(just a thought)

Splicing the SACRED with the SECULAR [Part 5/6]: Superior “Musical” Knowledge vs. Creativity

While playing secular music might be fun for the flesh and splicing that music into sacred music might seem like a good idea, it treads on dangerous territory of causing your brother or sister to fall. Read the words of Paul to the church at Corinth below:


(8) It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. We don’t lose anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do. (9) But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble. (10) For if others see you—with your “superior knowledge”—eating in the temple of an idol, won’t they be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been offered to an idol? (11) So because of your superior knowledge, a weak believer for whom Christ died will be destroyed.

-1 Corinthians 8:8-11


So at what point does a superior “musical” knowledge take a back seat to having a heart for the very people Jesus Christ died for? Although it may seem insignificant, splicing secular music into sacred music could, at most, cause your brother or sister to stumble OR, at least, cause your brother or sister to see the church no differently than they see the world (a stumbling block in and of itself). As Christians, we should not do that. In fact, in the same chapter of Corinthians, Paul goes on to write:


So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.

-1 Corinthians 8:13 (NLT)


If Paul took it that seriously about eating meat, then shouldn’t we, as Christian musicians, take it that seriously with the music we play for God? Moreso than that, I submit to you that God has given us too much creativity to have to copy and paste a secular song onto a sacred song. I honestly believe that the more you seek God, the more He reveals new and fresh music to you. Music so new and fresh that it’s never been heard on Earth before. Want to know how I know?


He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.

-Psalms 40:3 (NLT)

Time to L.E.A.R.N.!

TODAY’S CLIP: So today’s learning video is not musical, BUT IS HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH MUSIC (specifically music in the church). The best way to understand this video is to just watch it. This is EXTV with Pastor G. Craige Lewis. This is Episode 9 titled “The Gospel Music Industry”. Talk about some enlightening stuff for the CHRISTIAN MUSICIAN! Enjoy!

As a musician, 90% of what you do is listening. Music is too much of a universal language to get stuck on one dialect. Therefore, today’s blog is dedicated specifically for you to LISTEN (to the clip provided), EXPAND (your thinking on music in a way that you may not have considered before), AND ROCK NOW (with more musical knowledge added to your repertoire)!

DISCLAIMER: I do not own the rights to this song. The video included in this blog is only intended to bring musical awareness to the reader.

Splicing the SACRED with the SECULAR [Part 4/6]: Little Foxes

When it comes to the splicing of the sacred with the secular, there is one particular Biblical scripture that comes to my mind.


 “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.”

-Song of Solomon 2:15 (KJV)


So what in the world could this verse in the Bible be talking about. Song of Solomon (aka Song of Songs) is not a book you hear quoted everyday, but I’ve heard this verse explained before and I think it applies to what we’re talking about here in music. Check this out and follow me on how it’s connected with our subject at hand:

A fox, at it’s tallest, is no more than 2 feet from the ground up.

A grapevine can grow up to, and beyond, 115 feet in it’s native environment.

So how can a little fox spoil something that’s a little over 57 times its height?

Easy. The little fox is closer to the root. No matter how tall a thing becomes, if you attack the root, it cannot stand very long. This brings up a third school of thought that I would like to submit for your review.


 The Third School of Thought: The condition of your heart for God affects the condition of your music for God.


When we’re talking about SACRED music in the church, adding SECULAR bits and pieces to it attacks the root. Just like dark and light cannot be in the same room, sacred music and secular music cannot be in the same song.

…but wait… let’s substitute the definitions in and read that last sentence again…

Just like dark and light cannot be in the same room, [connected with God] music and [no religious or spiritual basis] music cannot be in the same song.

Now this gets down to the condition of your heart for God FIRST then the music you play for God.

Splicing the SACRED with the SECULAR [Part 3/6]: Opposing Ends of the Spectrum

Let’s get some definitions out of the way before we continue (special thanks to Bing.com for providing these definitions… these FREE definitions):


SPLICE (v) – join or connect (a rope or ropes) by interweaving the strands


SACRED (adj) – connected with God or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration (respect)


SECULAR (adj) – denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis: contrasted with sacred


So now we can get into the nitty gritty. We can read from the definitions above that SACRED and SECULAR are on two opposing ends of the spectrum. One is connected with God and the other is separated from God. That in itself should be enough to make a decisive decision as to why the two shouldn’t be mixed, but for church musicians that play secular music OR secular musicians that play church music, there is that grey area of “It’s not that simple”.

As a church musician for virtually all my life AND a holder of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jazz Studies with a focus in Jazz Piano, I see on a regular basis how Jazz/R&B chords and song structures are quite present in Gospel music. In fact, I use a lot of what I have learned/still learning in what I do in church. So does that mean that I’m splicing the sacred with the secular? If I include Jazzy or Neo-Soul chords into a hymn, does that dilute the actual message of the hymn?

The issue is not necessarily the music itself since music without words is simply music. It’s really the words that can either bless or corrupt a song turning it into something sacred or something secular.

But then when we consider secular songs that have turned into Gospel songs, I believe it gets down to the Psychoacoustics question of “Which one did you hear first?” For example, Kirk Franklin’s “Looking For You” is a remake of Patrice Rushen’s “Haven’t You Heard”. While I’m not picking on Kirk Franklin, that’s just a great example of “Which one did you hear first?”

For the old heads that heard Patrice Rushen first, Gospel may not be on your mind because that’s probably not what you associate the song with.

However, for the young heads who ONLY know the Kirk Franklin remake, it’s more Gospel (or, at least, “churchy”) than anything else.

So, in this case, the secular has been spliced with the sacred, but is THAT a right thing to do?