From Rags to Riches… To Rags Again [Part 2/2]

What would happen if we hold the “three generations theory” up to Biblical illumination? Let’s find out. The main thing to remember as we dissect this theory to find out what the Bible says about it is to whittle the three parts down into a “researchable chunk”. Let’s take the first part of the theory:

THEORY (1/3): The FIRST generation works hard to achieve wealth.

A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. -Proverbs 10:4 (ESV)

The English Standard Version (ESV) says this verse so pretty. Check out the New Living Translation version.

Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich. -Proverbs 10:4 (NLT)

So this verse is pretty straight forward. Do nothing, get nothing. Do something, get something. The FIRST generation has this concept of “hard workers get rich” and this is where our “three generations theory” cycle begins.

THEORY (2/3): The SECOND generation reaps the benefits of the first generation, but loses the work ethic.

For simpletons turn away from me—to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency. -Proverbs 1:32 (NLT)

But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! -Revelation 2:4 (NLT)

The Proverbs scripture is another one of those straight forward and to the point thoughts, but I don’t want you to miss the Revelation scripture. Let’s read it in context (and pay careful attention to how it fits in with SECOND generation complacency):

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:

“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.

-Revelation 2:1-7 (NLT)

Doesn’t this letter sound like it’s written to a church that “gets it” BUT could lose it because their love at the beginning has, over time, decreased. “You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!” is a hard pill to swallow, but in this passage there is a way to get back to where things need to be: “Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.”

So, in essence, the SECOND generation is a DECISIONAL generation. They could never do what the FIRST generation did as far as “establishing a vision”, but if they don’t maintain the love and zeal that the FIRST generation had, that will lead to the “destruction of the original vision” in the THIRD generation.

THEORY (3/3): The THIRD generation squaders, spends, consumes the wealth with no concept of working for it.

Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich. -Proverbs 10:4 (NLT)

So we’re back at the Proverbs 10:4 scripture yet again because it is one of those complete thoughts. Do nothing, get nothing. Do something, get something. The unfortunate part about THIRD generation mentality is that if they consume all of the FIRST generation money, they’ll have to go to “Part the First”… WORK (and more than likely, not work that their family originally established… just working a 9-5). For a generation that doesn’t understand WORK or “the value of a dollar”, that’s going to be a very rude wake up call.

So what is our ultimate conclusion here? In three generations any wealth that has been acquired can be lost. The Bible backs that up. So what are we to do? Perhaps if we were to visualize it, we could think of it like this:


The bottom line is simply this: KEEP WORKING. If you’re working to establish a vision KEEP WORKING. If you’re working to maintain a vision KEEP WORKING. Even if you haven’t achieved all of your goals KEEP WORKING. As long as you you’re working, God can continue to work through you. When you get complacent or give up is when you run into THIRD generation trouble.

On a personal note, it’s interesting that most of the verses related to the “three generations theory” are found in Proverbs, the Biblical book of wisdom. What that tells me, in addition to everything that’s already been mentioned, is that a wise man continues to work hard and a fool lets it all fall apart.

Don’t be foolish.


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)

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.

“Not About God, All About You” | The Osteen Predicament

If you clicked on this blog because of the title, then just know that you read the title correctly.

A great friend of mine sent this article to me a few days ago and, once I read it, I was immediately disturbed by it. Turns out that this has been generating a lot of criticism among Christian evangelicals lately. Take a look at this article and see what you think.

“The Osteen Predicament: Mere Happiness Cannot Bear the Weight of the Gospel”

The bottom line question: What do you think?

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

TODAY’S CLIP: In following with the post from Wednesday titled “Purpose By God’s Design” I thought that today’s song would be an appropriate compliment. This is Maurette Brown Clark and her daughter Jada singing “I Am What God Says I Am”. Listen to the words and 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.

Purpose By God’s Design

On my birthday earlier this year, a choir that I work with gave me the gift of a Dr. Charles Stanley daily devotional desk calendar. I flipped to the devotional for June 9th and it encouraged me so much that I thought I would share it with you today. Check it out below and enjoy!

Do not neglect the gift that is in you. -1 Timothy 4:14a

At the time you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, God gave you certain spiritual gifts to use in ministry to others. The way in which you express those gifts is uniquely linked to the talents He has given you and the skills He has helped you develop. Nobody… on the earth… is just like you, not even a sibling who is your twin…. You are a unique and very special creation of God, designed for a particular purpose on this earth that God has had in mind from eternity past. Accept who God made you to be!