As I was reading Joshua 13 last week, my heart was gripped, my eyes riveted to the sentence, and my soul stunned when I reached the last verse. This chapter is in the middle of God leading Israel’s conquering of lands, which He wants to give to them as an inheritance. Here, He instructs Joshua, “Be sure to allocate this land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have instructed you, and divide it as an inheritance among the nine tribes and half of the tribe of Manasseh.”
The passage then proceeds to list in detail all the areas that God had given the other half of the tribe of Manasseh – “This is what Moses had given to the tribe of Gad … The territory of Jazer, all the towns of Gilead and half the Ammonite country as far as Aroer, near Rabbah; and from Heshbon to Ramath Mizpah and Betonim, and from Mahanaim to the territory of Debir …. etc. (you get the point). It keeps going on and on about which tribes got which lands.
And then the chapter ends with this, “But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the LORD, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as he promised them.” I’ve read this before, of course, but I didn’t see this coming this time. I was stunned and floored afresh. They got no inheritance. God was their inheritance. Wow.
I’ve read this before, of course, but I didn’t see this coming this time. I was stunned and floored afresh.
As a worship leader at MBCLA since the ’80’s, I have poured through and sung decades’ worth of worship songs (formerly known as praise songs). I have experienced their textual, musical, and stylistic evolution. At any given time in a day, Sandra or I (sometimes Sandra AND I) will spontaneously break out some chorus of some song from the 5 decades of Christian worship music we’re familiar with.
One thing that I always wrestle with is this: Is this true? In my life and in the lives of those I’m leading to sing these songs, is this true? God warns us to let our yes be yes and our no be no, and that every word that proceeds from our mouths will be judged. In dealing with the upstanding good church goers in His day, Jesus commented, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship Me in vain …” (Matt. 15) O, Lord, is this me?
So, when I sing certain lyrics, I begin to tighten up inside and cringe, struggling with whether I can actually and honestly sing these words:
“Rich or poor, God I want You more
Than anything that glitters in this world
Be my all, all consuming fire
You can have all my hands can hold
My heart, mind, strength and soul
Be my all, all consuming fire
We have all we need in You
And all we need is You
All we need is You”
“You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my All in all.”
“All of You is more than enough for
All of me, for every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with your love
And all I have in You is more than enough
More than all I want, more than all I need
You are more than enough for me”
If I’m going to sing these words, then I MUST honor them and live them out. They MUST become reality in my heart, “for from the heart flow the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23) They MUST for you too. May it NOT be said of us, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are (actually) far from me.”
Unfortunately, what all too often emerges, when we’ve gone to church for a long time without really letting God do the hard heart work in our lives, is that we end up developing a church culture of our own that we feel comfortable in – with church friends, doing “clean” things, etc. We go to church together, go to fellowship and SS together, give the right answers, confess our struggles, share “honestly” and “vulnerably,” pray with one another, study Scripture together, and … sing worship songs together … songs that challenge, declare, and promise things to the Lord that most of us have never declared and promised in our regular speech; because we can’t. We’d be lying.
It’s as if music changes our ethics and gives us permission to lie and make false promises
It’s as if music changes our ethics and gives us permission to lie and make false promises that we not only break immediately, but that we plan to break in a few hours. And because our “good Christian friends” also do it, we rationalize that it’s ok, that we’re ok. Or … we know it’s not ok, but we continue on anyway. That’s what I call “churchianity.” It’s playing church, speaking churchy language that I call “Christianese” – a language that has all the correct form, correct doctrine, and even correct biblical language … but is missing the creative, active, thoughtful, action-invoking life, timing, work, integrity, and spirit of God.
Are You Ready to Take Action?
Are you fluent in speaking “Christianese”? What do you think God hears from you when you sing
“Christ is enough for me, Christ is enough for me
Everything I need is in You, Everything I need
I have decided to follow Jesus,
No turning back, no turning back”?
Is it a declaration that you will do everything in your power to bring your life in alignment with? Or is it “Christianese”? Will you surrender your dreams, desires, plans, and future to Him and give Him a chance to actually fulfill His dreams for you? The reasons for which He made you? Will you let your yes be yes? Will you pledge to work with the Holy Spirit to do whatever it takes for Him to be your All in all? To begin the business of transferring full control over your life and future to Him? And to take the necessary steps (as tough as they may be) to make that a reality?
Can you dare to dream with me? What would your life look like if the Holy Spirit was in control of it? How would it look different? What if honoring Him was your actual desire and passion each moment of each day? How would things change daily for you?
I encourage you to carve out some time to soberly and honestly weigh these questions out before God. Everything depends on it. Then take action and begin making the necessary adjustments in each area of your life to be consistent with the Truth. I recommend asking a trusted mentor-type to come walk along side you in support and accountability.
“But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the LORD, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as he promised them.” Amen and amen. You are everything, Lord.