Benefits – BT2
“By the flesh” music went right into the Church, but some musicians know the radical difference of “By the Spirit” music!
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It’s sad that after playing for 40 years in 15 churches, I’ve played with only a few musicians that know the radical difference between playing “in/by/with the flesh” and playing “in/by/with the Spirit.” This has been a heavy burden to carry, but I passionately desire that you will experience the difference that is almost beyond words! These rare “few musicians” really loved the Lord, were passionate about worshiping Him, but had come to the “end of their rope” and simply surrendered control of their skill & professionalism, self-consciousness, worries, and pride. “They let go and let God” to instead put their trusting-relying-faith in the Holy Spirit to guide their minds, hearts, hands, and feet to play absolutely beautiful music WITH Him, filled with loving adoration and gratitude, and in many cases without ever looking at their music stands!
This reminds me of a Christian open-jam night that would occur once a month at a Vineyard church in Tucson. Most of the musicians struggled to find songs they all could play from a large file of music or that they could play by memory. They also struggled playing in the same key, staying in tune, and playing rhythmically together. Every week there would be some people who would try to be a “leader” to dominate the others – see Coaches and Facilitators. There was a lot of friction in those meetings, and gradually people stopped coming. It was rather sad from my perspective of having played on 15 Worship Teams but also at least 25 secular groups, which in many cases had far fewer social problems and tension. Still I couldn’t wait to go, because at the end of the night when everybody else left except myself and the keyboardist Steve Kimbell, who started the meetings but was just as frustrated as I was about its worldliness, we would start playing!
And wow, would we play! We each put “our hand of cards down on the table” – all our plans, programs, schedules, skills & professionalism, and expectations, desiring only to be moved by the Holy Spirit. The result was absolutely breathtaking! We didn’t decide beforehand what genre, style, rhythmic feel, song, key, chart, structural form, tempo, or anything else! Our conversational-prayer was adoration, worship, and thankfulness. We basked in this peaceful waiting state. Then we started playing and just stayed in that same frame of mind, always watching and listening to what was happened, sometimes even “watching” ourselves play as the “3rd person,” which we suspected was the Lord helping us to “see” through His eyes!
We would ebb and flow, meander here and there, swell up high and dip down low, sometimes so softly and sometimes with a roar, and sometimes as if we were crying through the music and sometimes soaring with joy. We moved so subtly together as if we were both taking our cues from an Unseen Conductor that was moving our limbs in perfect synchronicity and harmony. This is where “unity” comes from – the Holy Spirit! How else could we both suddenly move in a different direction, neither of us getting there before the other? We had never heard or played this music before, so there was no memory to fall back on! We played as with shouts of joy with all of our hearts!
This went on for an hour or more, segueing from one melody to another, one rhythm to another, and one meter to another! It raptured our souls! Afterwards, we were high as a kite, realizing we had been part of some of the most beautiful music we had ever heard. This high lasted for days! We were amazed our bodies could even do it and that we did this together like a Swiss watch! We would talk about our amazing experience for another 20 minutes and it was really hard to leave, sometimes near midnight! Time just flew by! I could count on my hands the number of musicians I know who can do this. It’s really not our skill & professionalism that will make the difference in worship music – it is the Lord’s!
I’ve also seen a group of amateur kids totally wrapped up in worshipping the Lord at a Friday-night church service, and my guitar player-friend and I had to grab the pew in front of us as we were literally being blown backwards. Another time I saw a great drummer named Shawn Laughlin just start soloing in/by/with the Spirit at Freedom Fellowship and the band just stopped to watch this. A lady in the Spirit said she could see demons fleeing in the spirit realm. And the congregation went absolutely nuts with praise! Another time, I saw a pastor question whether he should take the time to play a “revival cowbell” given to him from a couple from Texas, but he was absolutely shocked by the immediate shouts of glory that eclipsed everything their fancy Worship Team achieved after 30 minutes of playing! But after 2 minutes the pastor stopped, as did the revival, and it never returned no matter how loud they shouted or played their instruments! The “special” revival preacher even played a tape of music made during a revival in Canada, but although I agreed it was “the real thing,” no matter how much she encouraged us to sing along and “enter in,” it was dismally pitiful. Frustrated she turned the music up, which only made it worse! It only drowned out the “in/by/the flesh” weakness of the congregation. It was that night the Lord physically showed me “The Great Wall” that I already knew was in the Church that is quenching the Holy Spirit.
I would be very interested in hearing about your amazing experiences playing “in/by/with the Spirit” and how that differs from “in/by/with the flesh.” By your testimony we will learn more about how to be led more by the Spirit and less by our flesh.