The Music Monkey

Full disclosure- I drive myself (and I’m sure others) crazy by my many words, especially in live convos and at times in interviews.

I suppose it’s easier for some artists to put salient, clear thoughts across better with lyrics in a very edited sort of succinct way so I’m likely not alone with the struggle to communicate so others understand what I’m getting at in an issue.

Especially if quite tired I begin to ramble on seeking to pull out words and phrases to be understood. This recently happened -and this post is to say what I’d have said had I been able to write and edit, then post it 🙂 Sigh…

With art and artistry one major concern of mine is easy to grasp for most people whether they are artisans or not, that being what I believe to be the fact that any of us can fall into idolatry with regard to art just as with anything else. Still, utilitarian use of any mode of expression or artistic discipline can in itself be a creative/imagination/risk-taking killer. I don’t think that is God’s desire any more than idolatry is.

Art for art’s sake at core may not spring from a motive of honoring God or serving others -and of course plenty of Christians and those of zero faith will disagree with me but there it is.

To merely express and exhibit art is not in itself automatically God-pleasing nor neighbor-serving… how basic is that as a matter of reality?

Yet such statements can sound like I and those who think as I do about music or other art offerings are purely utilitarian, that is, if we aren’t doing “religious art” or creating stuff that evangelizes, is obviously worship-focused and such, it is without any value. I don’t believe that is so, and think that view is too far of a reach into a narrowness God Himself does not will.

What I do as an artist who is a Christ follower is birthed by God the Holy Spirit but it is not without my ability to transgress in terms of motives, goals and focus. This is an important possibility, even probability at times.

The concept that in, say, music, there is zero value in writing bits of music and/or lyrics, recording, rehearsing and such is without value is simply not the case. At the same time, when we share a song with one or a million people our motives are in play. The extent to which our offering honors God and serves people on any level is both a gift of God yet not automatic.

Does anyone truly have scriptural evidence that now one is saved, follows Jesus, that each and every choice, all decisions and every offering is somehow magically right from God and served via us –EACH AND EVERY OFFERING IS NOW SANCTIFIED?! That, my friends, is a reach of faith that belies all logic and plenty of scriptural warnings written specifically to the Church.

Prove this out with more than personal desire, convince me via His Word (The Bible) such is true and I’ll happily change my view about it. Never in my lifetime have I read or heard a solid argument to the contrary.

Art, any art form, as sex or any other good gift (“What have you been given that is not a gift”, “For God has given us all things richly to enjoy”, on and on) is truly GOOD… but the idea that every gift that comes our way is at all times given us by God Himself takes the matter too far.

“Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of heavenly lights…” writes James.

Indeed, I affirm art and art-making, but I was, prior to my saving faith in Jesus as much of an idolater re. my ability to sing, write, perform music as I was with sex, drugs, drink (as in drunkenness) and was in a word, an addict of sound waves as much as in the rest of these!

See, a person like me had to learn to surrender my sense of identity and well-being to God as God of my life. As much as I agree with and approve of music therapy (and other art therapy) I had gone far from such “good” into greater self-worship as the result of my talent and ability to rearrange sound waves.

Nobody ever told me to surrender music to God, I had zero Christian upbringing and never heard legalistic teachings from any Christian leader, etc., etc.. I could not be more convinced that God the Holy Spirit -largely through my own Bible study and prayer- convicted me that music like the other idols had to be laid before the Lord and surrendered to the cross of Christ.

When He said “I am a jealous God and you shall have no other gods before me” He meant it.

I have no idea what is in another person’s heart, what their motives are for doing art. “Judge of all the earth” isn’t my job, calling nor do I have the ability for it!!!

Yet, the sonic drug that often ruled my thoughts and larger-than-life identity was for me a huge monkey on my back that had never been tamed.

In the practical, I quit the band I was in at the time, began simple folk singing with an acoustic guitar (and I was rather horrible at it) and eventually believed the best thing was to quit doing public music entirely, finally to the extent of tearing up the songs I’d written and sung in concert about Jesus because there was just SO MUCH OF GLENN IN MY FOCUS.

This was a season I have never regretted and in my own case, a method of breaking and surrender as to where focusing on Father, Son and Spirit rather than Me, Myself and I helped bring a bit of humility, healing and genuine change in my own motives for doing music -ever, anywhere, in front of anyone.

Perhaps someday I’ll write a short booklet-sized story of exactly how the Lord called me and confirmed I should pick up the guitar, sing, write and do music again after those early months of going “cold sober” but here I’ll simply say the end of it was those in leadership in my church literally calling me to play a song before a huge crowd, then from time to time in a Christian coffeehouse where we ministered to hippies and others.

Had that not happened I may have never performed nor lead worship live.

At the time of this writing I’ve recorded some 37 full length records with Rez Band, GKB and solo, etc., and have been doing music in public for 47 years.

What can I say? Surrender your loaves, fish and life and watch what He does with them to His honor and glory and to the feeding of hungry people.

The problem is we all too often focus on ourselves, our art, and not the God Who gives/inspires it nor the people whom we share it with.

Too many artists are near bankrupt in relationship to God and indeed, people -while being artistically quite talented. This is both tragic and avoidable.

I hope for someone, what I write here not only makes sense, but offers hope! Whether you ever offer art in public again or not, Jesus is Lord, you are His child (if you believe and follow Him) and your identity and life does not consist in the abundance of things you possess… not only materially but artistically and in terms of talent. You are of FAR MORE VALUE than your artistic output!!

Things to consider during the journey.

If you’ve read this far, God Bless, keep you and may you grow both as a creative artist with increasing sanctified imagination AND increasing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! -Glenn

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