Share this page


           CHECK OUT


    500 TOPICS




This website ALSO has:

  • a photo Album subpage dedicated to J.S. Bach
  • a photo Album page dedicated to Louis Vierne
  • a photo crawl page through the Saint Louis Kimball
  • a photo page about portable keyboard equipment

and much more



Welcome to OrganBench





  He has recorded some of this webmaster's music, and his own compositions, educational programs of study, and "how to" instructional videos are a treasure trove of learning.


This website supplies you with

critically important study

away from the instrument

to help satisfy

an absolute need to know

that you may not realize.









This website if for ALL organists


 and was specially created

for YOU.

Why this website?

My friends, we all know that the making of music and the singing of songs not only promotes social bonding and joy but it speaks to the heart.  Additionally, a sense of achievement comes from generating musical tones and then working, possibly with others, to create order and mastery out of them.  It follows then, that music-making assumes an important role in religious worship in general, and in Christian discipleship in particular.  In the first few centuries of the Christian era the singing of unaccompanied plain chant gradually assumed prominence in church worship, and the biblically-specified active participation of the congregation in the music-making (Ps. 33:3) formerly practiced by the earliest generations of Christian believers was "officially" done away with.  The purely pneumatic pipe organ known in Byzantium from the late 4th century and exported into Europe since then was by around the year 700 being built in England, but due to its extremely crude mechanism it was atrociously loud and overwhelmingly noisy not to mention cumbersome to play and of very limited musical means.  With the application of 13th century improvements in its playable portion and action followed by the invention of stop controls in the 14th century the instrument took on new powers of flexibility, it was also around that same time that composers first began writing for keyboard instruments employing early forms of notation (Robertsbridge Codex, c.1360), but it wasn't until the 16th century that western church congregations gradually resumed active participation in worship with the singing of hymns using hymn books either with or without organ accompaniment.  These great hymns of faith kept congregants in touch with their heritage, exposed them to some of the greatest music ever written and the greatest words ever penned, gave worship a sense of majesty and beauty, helped them lift their hearts to God, imparted correct doctrine, and embedded the truth of God in their minds, all at the same time.  Their hymn singing not only contributed to the depth of their worship experience but exalted and magnified the name of Jesus and arguably did more than any other single resource to help them offer up their devotions to God.  By then the organ was capable of significant and compatible support for the worship singing of that time, even though in some churches organs were not allowed.

In the present day, however, with increasing use of modern technology to project words and images on screens and to sing along with recorded tapes, organists are disappearing from churches, and the use of hymn books has largely vanished.  Christian leaders from around the world have embraced a shift in worship back to being a pre-Reformation spectator happening.  Simply put, church services have trended back to breeding audiences.  The stage music created during "Worship" time in some non-denominational churches today even makes it hard to tell whether one is attending a performer-centered service or a Christ-centered one.  Citing these changing trends and low enrollments, many schools of music associated with prestigious theological seminaries which at one time were leading training centers for organists and church musicians have closed.  Education in organ and church music with its rich history of repertoire and achievements in contemporary composition has supposedly continued at these institutions under Schools of Church Ministries, but a glance at their degree plans indicates otherwise.  The current course of study typically includes worship labs in guitar, bass guitar, drum set, keys, and song writing to the exclusion altogether of organ with its rich history of repertoire, improvisation, hymnody spanning a great many centuries, and its extraordinary sound field and ability to express the Power and heart of God to listeners.  

Today, despite the fact that the raw, visceral sound of a huge pipe organ is a total adrenaline rush for the player, there is an acute scarcity of organists, especially at the level of the local church, to where just about no organ hymn accompaniment or solo organ repertoire is ever heard at all.  At the very top of the profession superb organists are still being trained, but these professionals, understandably, are reluctant to commit to working where the pay is meager and no first rate instrument is at their disposal.  As for amateur organists who don't make their living at it, many are quite accomplished players, but, all too often, after these students go off to the universities, they're never seen again even though there are places which could certainly make use of them in the music ministry.  If we can agree that organs have this special facility in worship and we're keen for them to continue, then we who aspire to play them at all, no matter at what level of proficiency we currently are, need to progress as far as our natural ability will allow.  Besides working at the keys, part of our grounding involves some critically important learning we are obliged to examine and survey away from the keys -- much of it from independent study, some from private instructional lessons, and some from that valuable teacher called "experience."  This website is a warehouse of that grounding which, along with this webmaster's compositions and personal testimony, forms an outreach ministry serving each and every person with that same God-given interest.




My friends, we know that the instruments we are apt to encounter at different venues are built in various styles and of many materials for a wide variety of use in the performance of classical, sacred, and even secular music.  In a typical year for the industry in the United States today the majority (about 85%) of new pipe organs are installed in places of worship, about 10% in colleges, universities, and public buildings, and about 5% in residences.  During the last century this apportionment has changed very little, thus, in terms of pipe organs, today's organ students are more likely to be performing publicly in a worship setting than in any other.

We who have pursued our interest in playing for churches are continually faced with a serious and potentially incendiary question:  "Is it essential for an itinerant organist to agree with the particular takes on religion at places where (s)he plays?"  At a minimum, organists are expected to conduct themselves as sympathetic participants in the services, to respect those present, to use whatever instrument placed at their disposal to help maintain a reverent mood, and to assume an attitude of prayer when everyone else does.  The fund of part-time organists however, as stated, is in desperately short supply, and, because we are called upon to sub fairly often at different places of worship, they certainly can't expect us to join all of them as a member.

So, the question becomes, "Is what we do simply a play-for-pay gig, or could there be anything more to it?"  Obviously, we can take our skills anywhere we want, and we don't have to agree completely or even at all with the doctrine of the congregation that employs us.  The answer is going to vary from person to person, thus we have to figure out, from the place where we're at, what works for us.  It certainly makes it easier to sit through services week after week when the congregation's beliefs and values are somewhat in line with ours ... but a warehouse of variance and disunity awaits the organist who subs at different churches.  A few of us started out as very devout believers playing for Christian services, but as the years progressed that changed to where some of us weary of the disaccord and divide have been drawn to atheism (belief in no god), some to agnosticism (belief that it's not possible to know if a god exists), and some of us have become agnostic atheists.  There have even been isolated instances in the past where someone who composed some really beautiful worship music happened to be an atheist.  A great many practitioners of the fine arts end up never learning where their interest in it came from, where they themselves came from, why they're here, or where they're going.  A few, in nursing their own biases and opinions, also entertain doubts, disbeliefs, and mistaken conclusions about the reality of God ... BUT ...








(CON'T) ... During his teen years this webmaster, in a dream one night triggered by a prayer made in faith, was taken in the spirit to a celestial building where it was shown him beyond a shadow of a doubt that the sound of the pipe organ is not only held in high regard there but that what's up there, how it's used, and what it sounds like is unimaginable.  As an eyewitness and earwitness to this he can testify with absolute certitude that is it is pleasing to God (and therefore not wrong or sinful or unjustifiable or unscriptural here on earth) to employ this musical instrument in praise to Him.  Such use in no way contradicts or makes void anything in His written Word, rejects the authority of Christ, or violates any command of God or principle of faith.  This also means that, sadly, those well-meaning people whose understanding about it happens to be amiss, who condemn as vain and apostate the practice of employing the organ to lead the singing of hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs of praise, thinking that by so doing they're taking a position pleasing to God, are laboring under a very serious misconception.  If only this kind of discord and infighting among professing Christians could be stopped finally, one wonders whether men and women of God actually might be able to seek out with one accord those who are still lost in their sins, actually reach the lost with one acclaim in this age with the gospel of grace, and actually evangelize them with one voice.  The simple fact is, the right organ music, countless times over, has helped to grow faith in and lead people to the Lord Jesus.  The logical inference therefore is that the organ consoles in places of worship are not merely work stations for organists; they function also as pulpits in the sense that what the organist does at them has pastoral dimensions which takes in being held to the same standards as a pastor.  The organist's character matters.  It's also fair to say that more than a few organists at one time or another have had the thought cross their minds whether everything they've sacrificed to develop the several sets of skills involved with organ playing has been of any real benefit to anyone else, save for themselves.  At times they may be tempted to think that theirs has been partly a lost cause, that the uncommon and highly specialized musical skills they've spent their lives developing which have cost them so much in terms of time, hard work, effort, and expense hasn't really been acknowledged or appreciated and, to a large extent, has come to naught.  It can certainly leave them wondering (especially if they're certificated in music and/or a published composer) whether all they've given up to get where they are has had more aesthetic value to themselves than a boon to others.

I wouldn't let that get into my body.


(CON'T) ... In this fallen world where apathy and indifference abounds we may fail to receive much if any feedback week after week let alone some kind of courteous pat on the back.  But we also know that those who hear us perform never fail to leave the building the better for it.  Sometimes congregations are tempted to murmur about better use of church funds than to keep a fine pipe organ in fully playable condition and to pay the organist a living wage.  At such moments they need to consider how much funding for godly purposes has come about from this organist and this instrument being present in the building and sounding at its best.  At such moments it may help to remind them that

anyone can count the seeds in an apple.

Only God can count the apples in a seed.

  The ministry with which organists in the western tradition are connected is a very broad agency which employs, in accordance with biblical directives, all of the wonders of song and music to serve in worship.  That area is specially purposed NOT to facilitate an encounter with God, NOT to move people toward God, NOT to mediate between God and man, but to a) offer praise of and thanksgiving TO God, b) express the joy of salvation in loud and jubilant rejoicing, c) teach the message of Christ and admonish others in a spirit of gratitude, and d) demonstrate, feed, and strengthen the faith of believers.  Salvation is God's plan for making a person dead in their sins alive in Christ Jesus by believing in Him and the finished work of His cross.  Salvation is thus from the Jews (John 4:22), and it comes as a gift of God, by grace through faith [See below].

The various brands of Christ-based worship which may occupy us from time to time are simply a faint reflection of the fact that during the first century those wishing to follow Christ became sharply divided over debates and differences and that since then this distancing has continued to enlarge.  We organists come upon a staggering number of denominational sects, clans, and creeds each having arrived at their own self-perceived summit of theological purity.  Even though the apostle Paul and others worked day and night to prevent it, many from the crowds in various 1st century cities who heard the gospel of grace preached fell prey to error and positions of imposture to where a fair amount of the good work he and others had started in the name of progressive revelation from God, sadly, was undone.  From city to city these believers became imperfectly joined, lacking the same mind and judgment for which Paul pleaded for them to keep (1Cor. 1:10). 

NOTE:  The biblical word "church" is a translation of the Greek word "ekklesia," which means "a calling out."  The term refers to followers of Christ who are "called out" of this present evil world to live a new life in Him but is also sometimes used in connection with particular cities or regions where such believers live.  The biblical church therefore is not the physical building housing the organ but the entire congregation of those twice born members of the body of Christ who were once dead in their sins but who are now alive in Him by faith.  God thus doesn't call people TO church; He calls them to BE the church.  The term Churchianity refers to the usual or excessive sectarian attachment to the practices or interests of a particular religion, that religion being a personal set or institutionalized system of devotional attitudes, beliefs, and practices, sometimes with a denominational identity, which insists that there is no religious truth outside its own confines.  The term Biblical Christianity encompasses the understanding that the church is a spiritual organism made up of twice born believers in whom the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, indwells while placing God's Word as the final authority in all matters of faith and practice; these are people saved by the gospel of grace who take up the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:13-17), give freely out of a cheerful heart to others in need, define fellowship as two or three gathered together in His name, and teach no means of salvation or justification apart from Christ Jesus alone.  We organists as we move and work among the various forms of churchianity, whether orthodox or spurious, are apt to encounter a building sooner or later where there may be a fine organ in working condition being used to make meaningful certain  scriptural errors that the religion practiced there may officially embrace.  And so, we should not be surprised to find the organized "churches" in America, the places where we organists spend a good bit of our time publicly practicing our art, to be all over the map when it comes to which parts of faith upon which they choose to focus, the ways they want to live out their beliefs, and the ways they choose to set up their governance and outreach, including their music ministries.

We organists are also poised to experience at times what amounts to a largely unexpected and aggressive move among the churches to erode differences in order to establish a false compatibility between the Bible on the one hand and worldly acceptance on the other.  The boxing up of hymnals and disuse of the organ in some quarters has contributed to the implosion of certain congregations against their chief asset, which is the Word of God rightly divided.  What this means is, pastors and teachers entrusted with the spiritual care of the body of Christ, when examining Scripture, are charged to separate truth from truth in order to come to a correct understanding and not confuse or cloud the messaging.  If the world, i.e. the broad way that leads to destruction which according to Jesus many will follow, gets into the body of Christ it will affect musicians at least as much as it does the pastorate.

It is a shocking statistic that in these last days (according to the American Worldview Inventory 2022, Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University) less than 42 per cent of all Christian senior pastors and less than 14 per cent of all Christian teaching pastors believe the Bible to be truthful in and applicable to all areas of life.  When the majority of pastors cannot admit that all of the timeless truths and principles found in the Bible can be applied in contemporary life and faith, isolated and distorted "scholarly interpretations" and wrongful inferences are certain to follow (we recall how the Pharisees severely criticized by Christ were scholars).  Additionally, when what is required for HERMENEUTICS (methodological principles of interpretation) in terms of attitude is missing (such things as humility, willingness to learn, ability to discern difference, sensing the limitations of one's own biases and presuppositions, etc.), understanding is bound to be amiss.  Without this personal process of EXEGESIS (critical digging for meaning) any verse from the Bible can be lifted out of context to try to prove anything, even when it's just plain wrong ... errors such as ... Love is the God we seek ... Christ was a horse thief ... The Holy Spirit is a wind with an eyeball ... The Jews are Christ-killers ... to name but a few.

(CON'T) ... Some theologians and scholars may not want to hear it, but the fundamental bibliology on which every Christian congregation can hope to stand, music and all, is rooted exclusively in the Word of God rightly divided, not in denominational claims of exclusivity.  When God's Word is reduced to inclusiveness along side worldly interests, preferences, and acceptance we also find congregations ignoring the relevance of being separate from today's culture, one which has pushed God, Christ, and the Bible to the edge of society and out of the public square.  When we also take into consideration that immotive disagreement has been going on in Christian circles since the early 1st century and that somehow we organists need to find a way to rise above it to do our best work for our congregations, we're led to conclude that somewhere along the way we ourselves are going to need to come to grips with what we think of all this and how much of it we can accept.  It costs nothing to share our concerns about this or anything else with our Creator through the connecting link of prayer.  Those of us who haven't done it before in the quiet solitude of our own mind should give it a try.  We have nothing to lose by it and everything to gain.

  There's something we all need to understand and accept from the get-go.  We have a physical body, but we also come with a non-material spirit and soul.  That soul of ours is tuned like a radio receiver to the broadcast frequency of what the apostle Paul referred to as "the prince of the power of the air," another non-material but very real and malignant influence with a willful personality that operates to inhibit and discourage people from reaching for anything higher.  It is an omnipresent, constraining, natural force of containment that shifts into gear whenever we contemplate beginning something new and worthwhile.  It tells us to be wary of anything untried whenever it has potential to take us to the next level of advancement or proficiency.  It continually tries to talk us out of what we're thinking of doing, sowing doubt and telling us over and over that we could fail, to think of the result, the embarrassment, the shame, and that it's just too risky, too unsound, too illogical, too perilous, too uncertain, too unhealthy, to even consider.  But if what we're contemplating doing will take us from our present level of attainment to a lower one, this force couldn't care less.  It thus decides for itself what about us it will choose to hinder and what it will not.  No other known invisible forces of nature (gravity, electromagnetic force, strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force, etc.) operate like this with conscious imposing of will upon a person -- to steal, kill, and destroy their interest.

Steven Pressfield, in his book The War Of Art, gives this force a name.  He calls it resistance [See blog, The Book].  He further explains that resistance is not simply out to discourage us from trying but is hell bent on killing our interest.  It operates with presumed, bogus, pseudo-authority over us, falsely and brazenly posing as an indefectible absolute, a sham-phony set of "ancient gates" or "everlasting doors" destined one day to perish.  Resistance is fueled by the ruse of fear, thus it can be controlled and rendered ineffective simply by denying it the fuel that feeds it.  So the thing to do, when we feel it telling us to play it safe at all costs and forget about starting that new project or study or activity or program that beckons us, is to use resistance as a compass.  If we encounter the winds of resistance blowing in our face telling us to avoid some trail because the uncertainty of success is just too jeopardous for us to endeavor to undertake, we then know to do the opposite and head directly into it.  The resulting discoveries and unexpected successes we typically experience by going down that trail help us to understand how some of the most unlikely people have been able to achieve some of the most unlikely and wonderful creative accomplishments.  They did it by taking the bull by the horns, showing fear the door, and having the courage to forge ahead and give it a go.

We can bet that just as soon as we begin entertaining this kind of positive attitude, resistance will be front and center, ever ready to tell us to be wary of it, that it could be risky, that this reaching out could make us look like we're conforming in some kind of flabby way to religion.  Rubbish.  Friend, have the guts to go down the trail of your dreams, sweep your mind free of misgivings, send resistance packing, stay plugged in to the divine Power Source you need, and watch what happens.  By turning the tables on resistance, i.e., by deliberately having nothing to do with its sinister cortege of apprehension, uneasiness, and dread, and by continuing to acknowledge the heavenly realm as the wellspring of your wisdom and the beginning of your strength, you're not only apt to discover new, surprising, even prodigious, capabilities about yourself but you'll be receiving from above the inner fortitude and tenacity to work through the man-made dissent and partitioning to be encountered in the churches, and you'll be discerning your best way forward.  Guaranteed.

  Members of praise bands are sometimes surprised to learn how closely their instruments correlate with Biblical instructions given to worship musicians.  In the book of Psalms (Ps. 149:1-5, Ps. 150:3-5) God's people are instructed to praise His name and rejoice in Him in the assembly of His people by means of singing and musical instruments, specifically the a) lute, harp, and other (plucked) stringed instruments, b) trumpet, c) timbrel (a framed hand drum or tambourine), d) crash cymbals, and

e) pipe (i.e., wind-blown air columns, translated "organs" in the KJV).

It seems plain from these passages that in future ages all subsequent inventions based upon the same physical means of producing sound (and any modern equivalents of those instruments of antiquity listed in the Book of Psalms, if appertaining) are to be substituted.  What isn't all that plain is that the same kind of focus expected of the "Chief Musician(s)" in ancient times is also demanded today.  The modern church musician's feet during worship are planted symbolically on a steeper incline than ever before, a slope or lean made more tilted by a contemporary, amusement-driven, easily bored society cursed from childhood with a short attention span.  It's easier than ever for the things we musicians are doing during worship, if we're not laser-focused on purpose, to slip off center and go sideways.  It's a glorious sight to see a ship being launched into the sea, but it's tragic to watch the sea get into the ship.  A congregation will be sustained if and only if it maintains a water tight separation from worldliness (obsession with financies, prosperity, self-congratulation, self-promotion, self-indulgence, etc.) and remains in a relationship of oneness and centeredness with God, receiving regularly what it needs to hear from the Word of God and not the world. 

Besides the time-honored traditional hymns to be found in boxed up hymnals there have been thousands of new hymns, not "praise songs," written in the last few decades notably by Mary Louis Bringle, Adam Tice, Mark Miller, and others, which are more singable than much of the contemporary Christian music in circulation.  Church congregants are in every sense an army of active partakers to be empowered to sing; they are not to be treated as little more than passive, inert onlookers discourteously described as "pew potatoes" half asleep or with their eyes and ears fixed entirely on what's happening on the dais or stage.

(CON'T) ... Whatever people may think of the newer contemporary Christian music with its praise songs it should not be forgotten that what's inside the hymn book which in times past has been a pillar of strength and hands of comfort has lost none of its effectiveness.  The spiritual health of a church congregation is directly tied to its quality of participation in worship which ends up forfeiting a great deal when the older traditional hymns that people know are no longer ever heard or sung.  The music ministry as purposed by God also can be quick to leave its lane when it begins to satisfy the same worldly glitz, glamor, decibel gain, and repetitive beat for which the world at large seems to have such a tremendous appetite.  This is not to say that what is commonly referred to as "theater organ style" which takes in silent movie accompaniment isn't a thrilling and serious art form -- this style of playing is truly captivating, legitimate, and a creative lifetime study all its own.  Learning this specialized study of the theatre organ demands a great deal of devoted, concentrated, technical learning and practice not to mention a finely tuned imagination to master and has more than earned the respect of an adoring public.  What we organists do in a worship setting however is not theatre; it is not drama and emotionalism; it is not amusement; it is not about riveting the attention of listeners with rapid ear-catching changes of key, color, and pyrotechnics meant to entertain onlookers, admirers, and devotees with inventive and gripping arrangements, flashy stage presence, spotlights, footlights, brand name logos, or signature mannerisms; it has nothing to do with rim shots on the drums during communion or any other self-promotion; it is not about stealing the clock to where sufficient time for Christ to be lifted up in singing praise from the pews and the Bible read from the pulpit must of necessity be drastically curtailed; it is not a platform for fueling a seeker strategy targeted to appeal to people who like loud music with a hyperexcitable beat, draw in a crowd from the outside, and lure in unbelievers. 

It's NONE of that.

The God of this Universe doesn't work this way, from the outside in.

He works from the inside out.

As organists this specialized ministry of ours is grounded just as much in prayer and teaching as it is in performance.  Every time we sit at the console we are addressing God in adoration and providing a learning experience.

This is what teachers do.

They provide learning, change lives, and make a deep impression by educating, not indoctrinating.

 Teaching is as much a calling as it is a career.

The music ministry with which we organists are connected is far more than what is involved in being a skilled musician and instrumentalist; it's a vehicle or agency that beckons us with a sense of mission to help carry forward the pastor's work with prayer and teaching along with whatever else God may have called us to do within the body of Christ, a Pauline term for the entire corpus of saved believers.  This means time, lots of it, spent in prayer to rightly understand God's Word and the pastor's messaging, to surrender to our Lord's will for us, and to better sense that will to help instill and make meaningful for others His eternal truths.  The aptness we have for this was given from God so that our heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, these three, might be exalted, the lost might find Christ, and the saved might grow in grace and discipleship.  As we discover and pursue our God-given interest in the organ and become a more skillful player, the more we pursue it, the more we practice, the more we sense different ways we can use it to serve and bless others.

Our Lord treats us each individually and treats each one of us very specially in His love.  He divides to every person severally, as He wills.  Still, there are characteristics of His presence that share commonality.  As He leads organists and church musicians into this calling of ours it's a step at a time, and once we feel his loving presence vividly we don't want to let it go even though we can't always see where exactly all of this is heading.  This is because the Holy Spirit wants to be at our side with each step and not four or five steps ahead.  This restlessness, this calling, is of God's making and is evident both to the person being called and the elders of the congregation of Christian association with whom (s)he is automatically connected.  It will feel very different and a great deal more than our wordly relationships with others.

(CON'T) ... This meme is attributed to the 16th century Dutch reformer John Calvin who, along with his followers, called for the express removal of organs and other musical instruments from churches.  Religious men have been in dispute for centuries about how music is to be employed in Christian worship.  The only thing that seems to change is which worship style people happen to be arguing about at the moment.  In the midst of these mini-battles and contentions what needs to be rightly divided [See below] are the important differences between performance music and worship music.  Some clear lines do need to be drawn between music that is worship-based and what is performance-based.  In performance the focus is entirely on the musician(s), the performer(s) might be the only ones singing, the melody or tune is supreme, the words support the melody, any personal integrity of the performer(s) is of secondary concern, any virtuoso musical flourishes inserted can be attractive, and, above all, the performers are expected to be well-skilled musicians.  In worship the focus should be entirely on Christ, everyone should be singing along, the words or lyrics are supreme, the melody supports the words, the personal integrity of the musician(s) is of proximate concern, any virtuoso musical flourishes inserted can be distracting, and the performers are expected to be worshipers well committed to the faith.  When the focus is on the musicians instead of Jesus, it isn't worship, no matter what we cal it; their artistry should be used to point to Christ, not themselves.  When we think we're leading in worship when no one else is singing along, we're not leading, we're performing.  The lyrics must lead the music.  Leading people in worship means that we ourselves live a life of faith [confidence in God] and integrity; worship leaders can't effectively lead their listeners along a road that they themselves are not traveling.

Thus the church, the body or bride of Christ, while NOT an audience to be entertained, can be looked upon instead as both a) a hospital for the broken, lost, empty, confused, desperate, and rejected and b) an army to be trained and empowered.  Ps. 33:3 in the KJV reads "... play skillfully with a loud noise."  This literal, word for word, wooden translation is not saying that church musicians are to play at roaring volume.  The NRSV has a more accurate rendering of the thought of this verse:  "play skillfully ... with loud shouts," in other words, masterly with great fervor and zeal.  Now, variety of music is important in worship, God is still anointing composers and song writers, and all classic hymns were at one time new songs as well.  But because of their doctrinal integrity, their durability, and a whole generation of saints who love them have paved the way, paid the bills, kept the church doors open, and have been blessed by them and want to hear them, there still needs to be a place in worship found for the old traditional hymns.  In the drive to keep churches current and relevant in this modern day the sacred hymns of the past should not be swept away for fear of running all the young people away; young people in fact prefer to discover on their own the answers to faith, and many of these answers are embedded in the wording of our time-honored hymns.  It demonstrates just how far afield some congregations these days have drifted away from the use of the organ in worship when their members are unthankful, ungrateful, and indifferent if not openly hostile to benefactors willing to donate a large and well apportioned electronic organ to the sanctuary.  This has been known to happen.  Many worship teams seem to be perfectly satisfied performing before an audience of worshipers assisted with hand clapping, swinging and swaying, strobe lights, and words projected on a Jumbotron, organs and hymn books totally excluded.  Again, the people attending a worship service are NOT an audience and are out of place being treated like or behaving like one.  The organist's only audience in worship is God Almighty.


(CON'T) ... God does not save our listeners in this age by legalism or philosophic wisdom; He saves them by the preaching of the cross.  This means that the preaching lacking any reference to the cross of Christ will miss its mark.  Each denomination typically ordains or invests with its own brand of ministerial authority only those individuals who have completed its own prescribed course of instruction and who have pledged to comply with and remain within the bounds of its own specific practices, ritual, and system of legalism when

It is God Who ordains a minister.

It is God's indwelling Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, Who implants in someone's heart the impulse to join with the ministry in whatever He calls that person to do.  When the enormity of this calling lands on us musicians finally, and that it seems to have pleased the Lord to select us for it, it's normal to feel profoundly unworthy of it.  In this, we are in the best of company.  The Old Testament prophets felt it.  Even Moses felt that unworthiness.  The apostle Paul wrote of the same thing, in his way of saying it.  We are not, and never can be, worthy of it on our own.  Nevertheless, God loves us.  He's a God of love, of mercy, of forgiveness, and of justice.

 The so-called "prosperity gospel" being preached today in certain quarters which teaches that believers are poised to live their best life RIGHT NOW contradicts Christ.  Jesus said this world hates Him because He testifies against it, that its works are evil (John 7:7).  He therefore warned ALL who follow Him down to this day that it involves taking up their own cross (Matt. 10:38), that they would be hated too, and that while in this present evil world they would face troubles, problems, difficulties, affliction, oppression, perhaps even death, over it (John 15:19-20).  HE SAID NOTHING ABOUT LIVING ONE'S BEST LIFE NOW, BUT TO EXPECT THE OPPOSITE.  Salvation through the true gospel isn't about wordly achievement, making a good person better, or making a sick person well.  It's about making a person who's dead in their sins alive in Christ.  Jesus warned the crowds that those who did not believe that both He and His message came from God would die in their sins (John 8:24).  A whole branch of theology called apologetics having to do with the defense of the divine origin and authority of God in providing fallen humanity with a Saviour in the form of Christ the Lord has in fact sprung from this warning of Jesus.  While it is not tied to obedience to Mosaic law or works of human merit about which one might boast (Eph. 2:8-9), salvation IS tied to "faith-perfecting works" meaning faith working together WITH works (Jas. 2:17-26).  This is not a contradiction.  In these passages James was dealing with a different kind of works than Paul was, the kind which challenges believers to work out their commmitment to Christ in their day to day activities.   

Repentance in this present age of grace is not "penance" (prescribed tasks as punishment for sin) or "penitence" (feeling sorrow or guilt for one's sins); these are religious definitions coming from church tradition and denominationalism.  It's about having a change of mind, a renewed mind receptive to the Holy Spirit poised to quicken the spirit of man to the knowledge of God and help guide that person through progressive revelation.  The presence of the Spirit permits man to let go of regret, not linger in guilt, and sense His peace in leaving the past behind.  Repentance is thus both necessary for and a consequence of salvation in that hands reaching out to the Saviour cannot continue to hold on to old sinful ways; these will inevitably fall to the ground.

Almighty God, in His infinite wisdom, has chosen to manifest His plan for man's redemption in divided programma.  The dry baptism of the Holy Spirit quickens, activates, and makes alive man's otherwise inactive spirit, thus opening a channel to revelation from God, and reveals His 2 timetables, which are:  1) Israel [gospel of the kingdom, Mosaic law, circumcision, belief in a coming King, water baptism, endure to end] and 2) body of Christ [gospel of grace, faith and trust in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, dry baptism (Holy Spirit), Pauline epistles (Romans thru Philemon)].  During His earthly ministry Jesus preached only the former gospel, and only to Israel; He kept the mystery of the gospel of grace a secret and chose to reveal it only after his ascension to heaven by progressive revelation and special stewardship to the apostle Paul.  When Jesus, the Person of the King anointed by God, stood before and was rejected by the Jewish nation, the gospel of the kingdom was also rejected.  That same gospel is destined to be taken up again by a Jewish apostleship just before the Lord Jesus returns to this earth in power and great glory to establish His kingly reign.  Striving to enter the kingdom of God therefore is not for today -- THAT kingdom, with the King currently exiled in heaven, is now in abeyance.  What God is doing now is dispensing grace, reconciling the world to Himself, and building up the body of Christ.  "Replacement theology" (which teaches that the church has replaced Israel in God's plan for man) is utterly false.  God's calendar for Israel indeed will resume after Christ awakens/fetches His bride from this earth for the Marriage of the Lamb which will take place in heaven prior to His prophesied Second Coming.

NOTE:  Two thousand years ago outside the walls of Jerusalem the penalty for all human sins was paid.  "Sin" refers to 2 things: a) any individual act of disobedience to God's moral code in thought, word, or deed, and b) the generational condition under which all people descended from the first human sinners find themselves simply by being born into this world plagued with a sinful nature, stained with its guilt and controlled by its power.  But God at great cost to Himself made a way from the foundation of this world for man's broken fellowship with Him brought about by sin to be restored.  ALL OF US by being sinners (not just the Jews) had a part to play in sending Jesus to the cross, but when people place their belief, faith, and trust in Jesus and His cross they become "sealed in Christ" and saved from judgment.  No one in this day and age can earn their salvation with works -- they are saved and forgiven (Eph. 1:7) by being in Him and this very gift of unmerited favor from God called "GRACE. The fact is, ALL come into this world sold under sin and are automatically on track for the default position and same destination reserved for the devil and his angels.  The one and only way out of this for fallen man is GOD'S PLAN OF REDEMPTION through Christ Jesus.  At the very moment when someone truly receives Christ their old sinful self is crucified with Him, God remembers to forget their past sins, an explosion of power takes place within them to resist sin, and Christ begins to live in them through the Holy Spirit and faith in the Son of God Who loves them and gave Himself for them (Gal. 2:20).

Once someone through faith is living a new life in Christ, and He lives in them, salvation is IRREVOCABLE (Rom. 11:29).  Those truly redeemed by His blood CANNOT be unpurchased or unforgiven.  Sadly however, due mainly to a misapplication of Heb. 10:36-39 messaged for Jews only, some pastors, elders, and even a few prestigious Bible colleges, seminaries, and their headships, have taken the mistaken stand that twice born members of the body of Christ can lose their salvation, be un-newly created, and that what happens after dry baptism with the Holy Spirit can be invalidated.  If those in whom Christ dwells were somehow subject to losing salvation, then a) the new creation in Christ could not continue and would have to be destroyed, b) God Himself would have to revoke His purchase of man at the cost of Christ's death and His precious blood, c) God would have to go back on His Word and "undeclare" what He had previously declared about the sinner being justified in Christ, those absolved of guilt would have to be tried again and found guilty, and He would have to reverse the sentence handed down from the divine bench, d) eternal life itself would have to be redefined, since all the saved are promised to live forever, e) God would have to erase the mark of the Holy Spirit given at conversion, cancel the deposit, break His promise, revoke the guarantee, keep the inheritance, forgo the praise, and lessen His glory, not to mention abandoning Rom. 8:30 and many other Scriptures as fake, and f) God would renege on His Word, become a liar, break His own law when He cannot lie, and Christ would have died in vain.

God has made it so simple to receive Christ that even a child can receive Him, a person of any race, nationality, or language, the blind, the deaf, the dumb, the lame, the illiterate, ANYBODY no matter who they are, what they've done, or how badly they've messed up, can receive Him.  All they have to do is BELIEVE.  Now that little word "believe" means a little more than what some people think; it means commitment  and surrender to Christ; it means certainty deep down inside in placing all confidence in Him and trusting Him alone for one's forgiveness and salvation; it means the moment one receives Him one's name is written in the Book of Life; it means one is prepared to meet God in heaven.  But if someone has only head belief and isn't quite sure if Christ is truly living His life within them, and them in Him, there's a danger (Rev. 3:11) that their heart can become so hardened from uncertainty that over time they can put themselves and their spirit completely out of reach from hearing God's voice at all.  Indeed, claiming to know God in the absence of "faith-perfecting works" day to day which reflect Christ living His life within someone is a dead faith which cannot justify anyone (James 2:17,24).  It's one thing never to be shown or exposed to the truth of God in Christ and His cross; it's quite another to have been shown it but then fail to live it, to deliberately ignore God's gift of grace, to supress it, and to dishonor Him by unthankfully continuing just as before, a situation for which there is no excuse (Rom. 1:18-20).   

In the beginning of our walk with Christ, as we organists are exercising and growing stronger in our newfound faith in Him, as we're learning to take our first new steps being twice born, it's possible that old deeply engrained sinful habits may cause us to take a spill; we may be momentarily caught off guard and slip into sin just as a toddler might take a tumble without meaning to when first learning to walk.  Our old sinful soul, the potential seat of evil within us, has been around for a long time, and it isn't about to be lectured to by this new upstart of a human spirit now marked with the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of Christ however does not cast away from His presence those who are twice born believers in Him; He is grieved over and convicts them of any such sin, they will feel tremendous remorse over it, and by the grace of relationship God responds by purging and renewing their spirit (Ps. 51:10). 

  Once the Holy Spirit has marked us like this and is firmly bound to our spirit, we are robed in the righteousness of Christ; from then on, when our heavenly Father looks at us all He sees is the holiness and purity of His only begotten Son.  This is God's pledge to us, a deposit placed in our hearts sealing His commitment to us to remember to forget our sinfulness.  Being under grace, we are no longer under the condemnation of the law; sin loses its allurement; our mind is opened up to the knowledge of God so that we can truly understand Scripture; we are no longer held to account for what the books of heaven had recorded about us being rebels against God and His moral code.  Our past record of debt to God for every prior sinful thought, motive, word, deed, and ungodly wrongdoing is erased through the grace of salvation.  God remembers it no more, He forgets every sin we ever committed, and our name is entered into the Lamb's Book of Life.  The indwelling Spirit of Christ also imparts the strength we need to resist temptation, to say "no" to lust and every other sin, and is there to convict us of any future transgressions, should they come.  By acknowledging any such future sin we, being newly saved, may commit if and when our guard may be down (we'll feel awful about it, guaranteed) He forgives those in Christ through this grace of relationship.  Being twice born means that, while God still and very well may chastize us in the here and now, we as the bride of Christ will be spared God's wrath to be poured out upon a rebellious world; it also means we share that same personal relationship with all of our other brothers and sisters indwelt of the Holy Spirit, automatically.  We are united, not divided, in the big picture serving a living Christ, not a dead Christ, Who lives His life in us, and we in Him.



"Rightly dividing the Word of truth," as Paul instructed Timothy (2Tim. 2:15), was a practical memo NOT to mix together what God has separated in order to carry out His will.  This refers to keeping separate such things as prophecy (Old Testament revelation) from mystery (truth unknown in Old Testament times), law from grace, Israel from the church, works of the law from faith-perfecting works, etc.  God did not create denominations: religious men did by mixing God's truths with their own progressive ideas and interpretations.  If right division were universally embraced within the church Jesus said He would build, and if Paul's apostleship were universally accepted as absolute, then such things as forced tithing, forced attendance on "days of obligation," repeat praying, confession of sins, the condoning of what the Bible defines as sin, misapplied man-made ordinances, all of that and much more would have to be revisited.  When it's explained to denominational church-goers what they would need to abandon even when their denomination's latest official stance is unabashedly compromised with what the Bible says, they get jostled.  In their minds their particular denomination teaches exactly what God would have them do, they equate loyalty to IT with loyalty to God, and they sincerely think that by following it in obeying Matthew through John and early Acts they're following Christ.  When exposed to teaching contrary to their denomination they see it as an infringement upon "God's instructions" to them.  Their emotions become breached, their consciences get pricked, they feel threatened, and so they become more determined than ever to keep plowing in the same religious furrow.  In so doing they claim to be following Christ, not Paul a mere man, all the while following men leading their denomination, making Paul's warning in this age of grace of no effect (Titus 1:14).  Public excoriations of Paul are in fact becoming more common on social media these days, and anyone coming to Paul's defense can find themselves unfriended within minutes.  This is traceable to the seminaries themselves which very often either misinterpret Paul's letters or teach that he was flat out wrong about a few things. 

For most of our listeners the pull of the denomination is just too irresistible.  They tend to retain the denominational belief system their family believed all their lives and view any deviations from the same as maligning their deceased loved ones, if not risking hell fire.  They also may have living relatives in the congregation and don't want to lose fellowship with them.  Considering these losses people end up turning a deaf ear to Paul, not being deliberately dishonest but just obdurately refusing to consider anything else.  It's a fact however that, while Paul, still subject to Israel, was water baptised by Ananias shortly after his conversion (Acts 9:18) and admitted to baptising a few more saints at the very beginning of his ministry (1Cor 1:14-16), he ceased that water ceremony having it revealed to him that it applied to Israel and not to the bride of Christ (Acts 16:29-31, 1Cor. 1:17).  Denominations today, as part of their doctrine, reject this idea of Pauline dispensationalism, and so, in order to comply with the dictates of their denomination they resort to finding fault with the very man of God chosen to bring His name and the gospel of grace to Gentiles, kings, and the people of Israel (Acts 9:15).  Religious trappings of this sort are part of the picture in which organists find themselves moving and working these days.  That's just the way it is.

Law and grace are the two principles under which mankind has operated with God.  We learn from the law (first given to Adam and Eve, later hundreds of laws given in covenant with Israel) the need for a great work to be done for God's righteousness to prevail.  The gospel of grace, a mystery concealed by God, involves faith alone that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died a substitionary death for our behalf to satisfy the justice of God, and that He rose bodily from the dead for our justification.  It declares that the Lord Jesus is the Man in Whom God Almighty sent to sacrifice Himself that sinful men might be forgiven,  sanctified, justified, and made fit for the presence of God's glory.  In this way, at great cost to Himself, God made it possible for man to live with Him eternally.  This gospel of grace is a mystery kept secret from Israel so that Satan would go through with the crucifixion of Christ (1Cor. 2:7-8), it was first shared with Paul who was the first member of the body of Christ, and represents God's present instructions to the church Jesus said He would build.  The gospel of the kingdom of God therefore did not include the cross, something the Twelve didn't even understand when Jesus spoke of it.  It proclaims Jesus as the seed of David, the Man raised up and Anointed by God to literally reign over Israel but was set aside because the nation rejected it in all its phases, crucified the Lord Jesus, and persecuted His apostles.  It refers to a literal kingdom and reign of Christ yet future and commonly known as the Millennium and beyond.  The kingdom of God preached by Jesus, the four gospel writers, and the Twelve (exclusively to the Jews, with very few exceptions) was always associated geographically with Jerusalem and, as Jesus replied to the Pharisees, it is "among you," or "in your midst," referring to Himself.  Now that the Jews are restored to their land and are again become a nation in this modern age the Bible teaches that immediately prior to "the Day of the Lord" (the subject of the prophecy of Joel) this gospel of the kingdom of God will again be preached at a future time by a Jewish ministry, a revived apostleship proclaiming to the nations that God is about to deliver His people Israel (more aptly Jew or Gentile), set His King upon His holy hill of Zion, and execute judgment upon His enemies.  The home of lowly mankind, earth, is destined to become the centerpiece of God's kingdom, and heaven will be filled with glorified human beings saved by grace through faith.  Both dominions will be gathered together in Christ in the future but for now are meant to be separated.

NOTE:  God is a consumming fire [Deut. 4:24, Heb. 12:29]; light emanates from fire, and heat emanates from the light and fire; fire is seen because of the light, and without heat there is no fire.  Fire is not of human construct, it's a mystery man cannot explain exactly, but its operation is evident and can be sensed.  The Bible's revelation to man of the Triune Godhead [one God, three Persons] works the very same way, and without acknowledging it there could be no salvation from sin in the biblical sense.  God the Father [Fire] Who lives forever and sits enthroned in heaven [Rev. 4] fully revealed Himself in the Person and ministry of the Son [Light] Who was slaughtered as a Lamb [Rev 5].  If this had not happened, i.e. if there had been no incarnation of God in Christ Jesus [1John 1:5-7], then there would have been no Saviour, and without a Saviour there would have been no atonement for sin and accordingly no salvation for the Holy Spirit of God [Heat] to apply [John 4:24]. 

We don't know all that happened on that cross, but we know THIS:  The guilt for all of the envy, jealousy, greed, hatred, lying, lust, adultery, brutality, kidnapping, rape, murder, and terror since man has been on this earth -- all the filth, cruelty, and harm ever dreamed up or committed by man and all the judgment that MAN deserves for it -- was heaped upon HIM.  As He hung there on that gibbet of horror stripped naked and bleeding to death with all that mountain of sin accounted to His pure soul His cross became the most sinful place in history.  But it gets worse.  Jesus suffered ten thousand times the mental agony of the average crucified man because sin breaks connection with God, and for the first time in existence He was forsaken during these awful hours even by His own heavenly Father Who turned His face away.  He sensed hellish abandonment in a way that we can scarcely imagine or explain, all alone in His agony while the very onlookers who struck and spit on Him and for whom He was dying mocked and hurled insults at Him.  Legions of heavenly angels stood poised with drawn swords ready to rescue Him at any moment, annihilate his executioners, punish the nation, even destroy the planet, but Christ CHOSE to stay on that cross.  He took in His own flesh every strike, every whip, every piercing nail, every thorn -- punishments reserved only for the worst criminals.      
























ON A VERY PERSONAL NOTE:  My friends, in ministering to and kindly forgiving others as Christ taught us to do, don't forget to be patient and gentle with yourself.  You're human.  Don't beat yourself up if you manage to make a kid's mistake at the keys.  Some days we're at the top of our game and don't always show it.  Today we may be extremely tired or not feeling well; an undiagnosed medical problem may have developed; a newly prescribed medicine we're taking may cause unexpected muscle weakness, muscle soreness, upset stomach, or other distracting signs and symptoms; there can be a miscommunication with the celebrant, choir director, or lecturn -- the hymn we were told would be sung that day and the one we practiced beforehand may not be the one announced; we may have to start playing only from vague memory, perhaps in the wrong shoes or glasses, without the sheet music or hymn book in front of us, in a hurry and in poor light; we can yield to haste, start off with the wrong fingering, and send motor memory careening off the rails; we can find something malfunctioning or maybe not working at all with the instrument only after we begin playing; we can be further distracted by people standing alongside who may want to shake our hand while we're playing or perhaps are shouting at us to turn our head and smile for a photo all the while we're trying to sight read from the page ... and on and on. We may no more than get started playing when suddenly some little preventable thing goes awry, and then another.

Crash landings like this are extremely rare, but in such situations  discouragement can come down on us like a ton of bricks and get us to thinking if the main reason we became an organist was because we desperately desired the disapproval of others.  Moments like these recall the biblical story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (Dan. 3:12-30), that, after these three men of God were thrown into a fiery furnace by the king of Babylon, God the Father didn't rescue them by putting out the fire.  God Himself is a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24).  He simply put the Son of God in there with them, and they came out alive, whole, and unharmed.  Once again, how we come out doesn't depend upon how bad things look; it's about Who's in it with us. 

BOTTOM LINE:  Wherever we organists are appointed to serve a congregation or related organization, even if part-time, what we do there remains a ministry which sits on the Biblical foundations here described.  Be aware of the stark truth that Satan the devil is in control of this present evil world, and he also has his ministers who promote Israel's gospel NOW, hide Paul's, and mix them to their own destruction.  Not a few organists are already and unwitingly tangled up with all of this and owe it to themselves to seriously consider who exactly they're working for.  God knows how easy it is for humans to command, compel, conform, or coerce instead of convincing through meek, loving teaching and persuasion.  Thus we do well to remain conscious of the special role we play in these very last days of this present age of grace, to remain doggedly determined to keep filling this fallen world with beautiful, sensitive, comforting, powerful, and edifying organ music as we integrate or reintegrate this awesome instrument into the RIGHT KIND of worship, to expand our musical outreach and ministry if possible by doing some teaching, composing, recording, publishing, even moving our ministry if we feel we must, but

whatever comes,

even if it's the worst teacher on the face of the earth,

we should never ever, repeat NEVER, give up playing.

No one should EVER give up on anything worthwhile like this that they can't go one day without thinking about.