One of the most powerful music ministries ever to grace the Cross Rhythms Festival platform is that of Australia's DAVID EVANS. David brings a prophetic insight into where God wants to take us with music in the next millennium.
Where is the new sound that we have all been looking for? Right across the world in studios, garages and university lecture rooms there are songwriters, students and producers experimenting with music. They are mixing sounds and styles hoping to find the next new craze. Record companies and their scouts are looking constantly for the next big thing. The Christian music industry is no different. Some of us still hold to the purity of vision that there is a new sound to be found while others have resigned themselves to diluting this quest to just looking for the next great song or chorus. What I am about to share with you I believe is right from the heart of God., This is a prophetic word. It deals with Christian music in the next millennium and what direction to take in pursuing its sound.
Recently I was asked to speak at a Gospel Music Festival on a subject of my choice. I went to my study and began to inquire of the Lord as to what to speak on. Quite supernaturally I was lead to this specific subject and I began to hear what I believe are God's thoughts on what is going to take place in the Christian music industry worldwide.
A question kept coming to my mind. David, what exactly is gospel music? I quickly jotted down a few thoughts. The secular industry in the US has classified gospel music as a specific style of music originating with the African American church experience. But gospel music can be generally categorized as music that simply contains lyrics about Christianity. Then I wrote, gospel music contains the Gospel. But while looking at this question I noticed that you can't actually put a strict classification on it as a style because it becomes packaged in many musical styles. We copy the music circulating today and call it contemporary Christian music or gospel music or broader still religious music simply because it's purpose of origin or intent is based out of religious expression. While I contemplate this I suddenly had a thought.
At that moment (being a purist, I asked the Lord, "Is there such a style or sound that can be classified unmistakably as God music as separate from all other sounds?" Suddenly I realized what I had said. "God music." These words leaped out at me. "Is there such a thing Lord?" I asked. Then the word of the Lord came clearly into my spirit and I was shaken. What he shared with me in those next few hours has revolutionized my purpose of life and calling. Let me say loud and clear: There is such a thing as God music. It is real and it exists. It has been heard but not understood but the times are upon us that God's music will increasingly dominate the turbulent years ahead near to the coming of Christ. Those who read this text now, let God quicken your ear to hear what I am prophesying. The pursuit of God music will consume you as it has consumed me. You will look for it and believe for it and seek and you will find it. If you desire to be on the cutting edge of where God is going with music in the Church and music to the world then take serious consideration of these words.
My Bible opened to a story that I believe contains original evidence that God music exists. 1 Samuel 16:11, Jesse's servant found the young, man who was tending his father's sheep. He told him to quickly go back home because the prophet Samuel was asking for him. Within minutes of arriving, young David was told by the prophet that he would be the next King and then he anointed him. Something wonderful happened to David that moment as the Lord came upon him in power. I can just imagine David walking back to his post to tend the sheep as rivulets of tears streamed down his cheeks. In my mind I saw David pick up his harp and begin to worship the Lord under the stars as I understand would have been his custom. I would have loved to witness David worship the Lord. After all he was a man after God's own heart and out of this heart created songs. I believe it was on those lonely hills in Bethlehem that David discovered God music.
1 Samuel 16:14. Not long after we find that Saul the King was troubled. His advisers thought that music would help him. The King asked for someone skillful. The advice given the King was very revealing. The adviser told him about David. What he said was, "I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and he is a fine-looking man." Then he said, "And the Lord is with him."(Coincidence or divine appointment?) As the story goes David went to the King I can only imagine what David was thinking. He was probably very scared. Maybe Saul had found out that he was anointed by Samuel and was plotting to kill him. He could have also been excited. After all he had an opportunity to play privately for the King. From obscurity to stardom almost overnight. None of Saul's existing musicians were called. I can imagine David entering into the sleeping quarters of the King. The tiled floors and columns dimly lit by lamp flames dotted along the walls. A breeze gently blows the fine curtains and near the centre of the room the King restlessly is tossing to and fro on his bed. David enters as the King beckons him in. David then begins to play. What happens next can only be described as God music.
It was more than notes or technique. God music is really not based on the sound but it is in a category ail on its own. Generally music has the ability to open up your emotions and deeply affect and move your soul. Music has the power to make you aggressive or excite you. It also has the ability to sooth you. It all depends on the way it is constructed. But what David played was God music and it was more than a soothing sound. You can tell when you hear God music. I believe I have witnessed it and you may have also. You know it is God music when suddenly the music you are singing or playing takes on a supernatural essence. It is God music when suddenly you are acutely aware that the sound carries a spiritual anointing. Now it doesn't only occur in slow worshipful sounds because I have witnessed God music in heavily rhythmic songs. You know it is God music when certain evidence demands the verdict.
The first obvious evidence of God music is seen in that as David played his music it transcended the natural elements and began to affect the spiritual. It seems that the evil spirit tormenting Saul was seriously affected. Later we read that the evil spirit instead of leaving Saul reacted through Saul causing him to throw a spear at David. It is God music when evil spirits either leave or they react. It would be safe to say that if evil spirits are affected by this music then God's angels are also affected. If evil spirits leave or react adversely then God's angels are the direct opposite and are drawn and react positively by beginning to minister. After all angels are ministering spirits. I have been in concerts when the music is God music and the demonic spiritual realm reacts. I have seen demonically oppressed people become restless and react by leaving violently.
Another example of God music is when healing starts to occur. Spirits of infirmity must also flee when it is God music. I was doing a concert to over 5000 people when suddenly the band and I realized something was different. We were playing hard, loud rhythms and I distinctly felt the music change, not in sound but in essence. Healing began to happen all over. One young, unsaved fellow standing at the back with a youth leader who had invited him began to hop with amazement. He excitedly told the leader that his longstanding damaged ankle was hot and wasn't giving him pain anymore as he put pressure on it. He received Christ at the end of that night totally healed.
Further evidence of experiencing God music is when you realize that as you are singing, the lyrics no longer are words to be sung but they take on the nature of spiritual prayer. As if you are communicating to God rather than just participating in a song service. You may have been in a meeting or concert and while you are singing you notice that you have entered into a deeper level and it seems you actually have a clear channel of intimate communication through your lyrics rather than just singing. Your thoughts have now connected to the spiritual realm. That's when it is God music.
Yet another evidence of God music is that God actually begins to speak in it and out of it. We see this in 2 Kings 3:15-16, "But now bring me a harpist." While the harpist was playing, the hand of the LORD came upon Elisha and he said, "This is what the LORD says..."
All these evidences point to this undeniable experience of God music. The world can't duplicate it. It's in a category all on its own. It has a quality that can cross cultural barriers and different musical styles while having such a unique nature about it you cannot compare it to anything you have ever heard. What you are hearing is spiritual.
So how do we make this God music? I believe we can make God music by understanding something of what David knew. David sang and worshipped the Lord. Firstly he was skilful. Secondly and most importantly he had the Lord with him. Third, he focused his music into prayer. Now here is the truth. I have learnt that God music occurs at the point a connection takes place from Spirit to spirit. In a meeting suddenly the whole song service takes on a supernatural essence as a connection to God takes place. As a worship leader and contemporary Christian artist I have made it my passion in my concerts and meetings to find the path to that place of connection. This is when my music turns into God music and you will leave my concert not talking about my music or performance but about the tangible supernatural impact upon your life. There is a deeper realm of intimacy that David had discovered as he emotionally endeavoured to relate to his God. Dr Yongi Cho said that it takes him almost 20 minutes of prayer until he finally connects. I have found that as I have passionately pursued the connection to God in my private worship I have come to develop an intimate understanding or sixth sense of how to get to connection. The more I have spent time with God the quicker I have learnt to get there. This has given me a deeper understanding of how to lead a meeting or perform a concert in a way that opens up a great potential for God music.
I believe the Lord has given me this word. It is written that as this world gets closer and closer to the return of Christ we will see the horrors of war and famine unfolding around us. I believe that the next millennium will see these problems start to affect us where we live and seriousness shall begin to consume our hearts. The pursuit of selfish pleasures and entertainment will wane as the Spirit of God begins to pour out across the nations. The pursuit of truth, conviction and things of substance shall be the hallmarks of this age as many seek answers to the ever-increasing uncertainty of these perplexing times. Music will (as it has done in every generation) express the feeling of the age and will continually be used as a tool of the Devil for delivering lies. But Christian music will not continue in its way but will be pulled into line according to the plan of God for this age purely because of supply and demand. Christians will decrease their demand for music to entertain because Christian music will start to return to its ancient role of leading the children of God into battle. This music will be God music and the world will not be able to dismiss it based on style or sound. God music will intrigue the world but it will never gain mainstream acceptance. The lines of war are set.
As the Spirit of God pours out across the nations those who have desired the knowledge of the path to intimacy with God shall take center stage in God's unfolding plan. Their music will be what God anoints as they have developed the path to connection. Their ability to be flexible enough to work with the other ministry gifts of the Church will cause a synergy that reaps the great harvest. (1 Kings 18:21) Through them shall the lines of righteousness versus the common be clearly defined and the people shall not be able to be silent but will take sides. The music industry will return to church leadership control as the Lord has determined. During this time there shall be those laid aside in the Christian music industry but there are many that shall restore Christ as their Lord and not just a label. The business of music shall be the business of the Church. And the business of the church is souls.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.