The Spiritual Gift of Holy Music[1]

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Alison playing her David’s harp at Ein Gedi.

My favorite Spiritual Gift of all, one I enjoy in others while not possessing in the slightest, is the gift of Holy Music.  It is not specifically called a Spiritual Gift, but look how one of Saul’s servants described David to him:

Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him, (1 Samuel 16:18, NKJV, emphasis mine).

Here King Saul was suffering from a tormenting spirit, and 1 Samuel goes on to describe how David was able to play music that actually drove the evil spirit away.  Even the denominations that are against playing music in church don’t deny that David’s Psalms are Holy Music.  David had a supernaturally empowered Spiritual Gift of Holy Music.

When you hear the words: praise and worship, what comes first to your mind?  I think that most of us would say music.  And I don’t think that’s necessarily wrong.  Of course it is possible to worship God without music, just as it is possible to reach Kansas City on foot.  Music is the vehicle that will transport you into an atmosphere of worship more efficiently, just as a car can get you to Kansas City more efficiently.  There is something about music that reaches deep into the soul and spirit—for good or for bad.

And not only that, but worship using music is one of the very few ways I know of to bring a person’s whole self into spiritual alignment by engaging the body (through playing an instrument or singing), the soul (your mind focusing on the worshipful lyrics), and the spirit (which, if redeemed, is always ready to worship God).

In 2015 I wrote about a couple of YouTubers who had made videos about the evils of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM)[2].  They were most likely pastors from the above-mentioned denominations that don’t allow music in church.  They dismissed our worshiping with music as nothing more than emotionalism.

Of course we become emotional!  God is emotional, and we are created in His image.  Plus, I never want to contemplate the Cross with a cold heart.  I also never want to sing about the Cross mechanically, as if it was an ordinary thing.  The Cross is not only life-changing, it’s eternity-changing.  That’s something to get emotional about.  It’s a reason to sing and shout, tear-up and get emotional, and jump and run and tell the world about Jesus.  I am unapologetically emotional in my love for God.

They also dismissed CCM as not really being Christian because it is entirely possible for a person to use the music to worship any god, even self.  They say this because often the lyrics don’t name Jesus by name, using “Lord,” instead.  The danger of this, they claim, is that satanists can use CCM to worship the defeated enemy.

Using that logic, I tested some songs, including a few older worship songs to see if it’s true.  The hymn We Exalt Thee fits this line of thinking, since it only uses “O Lord,” instead of naming Jesus.  But as I sang it, trying not to direct it to God, my heart ended up worshiping anyway and tears sprang to my eyes (for me this is often a sign of the Holy Spirit’s anointing).

The defeated enemy is incapable of creating anything, but we, as God’s image-bearers, are endowed with the capacity to create.  It is said that the defeated enemy was once the worship leader in Heaven—in God’s very throne room.  Being so close to all the worship and adoration, he decided that he wanted it for himself.  Is it possible for him and his minions to hijack Christian worship music?  Of course it is!  But that doesn’t diminish its power in worshiping God.  Nor does that make it something to avoid in worship.  The defeated enemy doesn’t hijack things that are useless or without power.  That’s why he has twisted prayer into incantation and spells, symbols like the Cross are turned upside down, and music is used to inflate his own ego.

Since about the mid-90’s I listen almost exclusively to Christian music, and since discovering them a few years ago, I started also listening to Contemporary Jewish groups like Six13 and Maccabeats.  Often I will be doing a mundane task like doing the dishes, making beds, or traveling on a long flight, but my heart is soaring in the heavenlies, praising my Savior.  The task gets done and I end up feeling grateful and not stressed.

Do all of these musicians and singers have the Spiritual Gift of Holy Music?  No.  But then again, a lot of the worship leaders in many of the churches I have visited don’t, either.  The Spiritual Gift is not required in order to do an able job of leading worship, but when it’s present, oh what a difference it makes.

For the past five years I have opened my home, operating in hospitality, without the Spiritual Gift of Hospitality.  In fact, on the Spiritual Gifts test, I scored only one out of ten for Hospitality.  My Spiritual Giftings are Encouragements (ten out of ten), Teaching (nine out of ten), and Prophecy (eight out of ten).  You don’t have to have the Spiritual Gift in order to operate in these things.  In fact, many of these things are things that every Christian is commanded to do, like having faith.  We aren’t all George Mullers, but we are all called to have faith.  We are all called to give to the work of the Kingdom, but few have the Spiritual Gift of Giving.  I know people who gladly live off the ten percent and give ninety percent of their income to the work of the Kingdom.

I know a couple of people who have the Spiritual Gift of Holy Music to an extraordinary degree:

Cynthia is my pastor’s mother and the founding pastor’s wife.  She writes worship music based on Scripture that is both beautiful and anointed.  I don’t know how many original songs she has written, but I know that she’s prolific.  I have often seen Cynthia begin to play a worship song that brings the atmosphere of Heaven right into the Sanctuary.

Another is Alison, a Messianic believer.  In addition to leading worship, Alison plays spontaneous soaking music[3] as led by the Holy Spirit.  Her music is powerfully anointed.  And I believe that the resistance and opposition to her music is a result of this anointing stirring up the defeated enemy’s forces.  After all, Jehoshaphat was instructed to put the musicians on the front lines of the army before the fighting men.  Alison’s music destroys spiritual strongholds.

And there are several others that I know: singers, harpists, violinists, guitar players, keyboard players[4], drummers, bassists, saxophonists, trumpeters, trombone players, and of course shofar players.  Each of them I have seen used by the Holy Spirit to create an atmosphere of worship through music.

I recently saw a video interview in which there was a man who went to Heaven.  He said that he heard church music in Heaven and said, “Hey!  That’s our music!”  God told him that all sacred music is composed first in Heaven.  I believe it because it’s the same with the Spiritual Gift of Holy Writing, which is a gift I believe that I have[5].  When the anointing is upon me to write, it feels like I’m just taking dictation.  I have heard Spiritually Gifted songwriters say the exact same thing.

All of this is not to say that Spiritual Gifts are to be exalted.  But the Holy Spirit generously gives the Spiritual Gifts in order to worship and exalt our wonderful God, and to edify the Body of Christ.  The Lord told me in 2011 that the Spiritual Gifts are simply more of Him.  This is precisely why we are encouraged to seek Spiritual Gifts[6], especially prophecy.

So if you don’t know your Spiritual Gift, you should get out there and try them out, take a gifts test, and ask God to show you your Spiritual Gifting.  Don’t neglect this, it’s important.  This is the key to living a fulfilling life in Jesus Christ.  It’s also loads of fun.  God is good!

[1] Continued from A Closer Look at Spiritual Gifts.

[2] See Bad Music.

[3] According to Wikipedia: “Soaking Music otherwise known as Soaking Prayer music or Soaking Worship music, is a subgenre of Christian Music, and is commonly used to denote songs that are used during contemplative prayer in prayer houses and other “soaking” Christian meetings.”  For more, see: The Purpose of Soaking Music.

[4] Which includes both pianists and organists.

[5] Another of the unnamed, but implied Spiritual Gifts.  Each of the writers of the Bible had this gift.

[6] 1 Corinthians 12:31.

A Closer Look at Spiritual Gifts

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The “altar” at Timna Park in Israel, illuminated by the setting sun.

You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people.  You are members of God’s family.  Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets.  And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself.  We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a Holy Temple for the Lord.  Through Him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by His Spirit, (Ephesians 2:19-22, emphasis mine).

The Bible reveals the gifts of the Holy Spirit in three overlapping lists:

  • Prophecy, Serving, Teaching, Encouragement[1], Giving, Leadership, and Kindness[2], (Romans 12:6–8);
  • Wise Advice, Special Knowledge, Great Faith, Healing, Miracles, Prophecy[3], Discernment, Unknown Languages[4], and Ability to Interpret, (1 Corinthians 12:8-10); and
  • Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher, (Ephesians 4:11[5]).

There is another list that overlaps these other lists without adding anything different:

  • Apostle, Prophet, Teacher[6], Miracles, Healing[7], Helps[8], Leadership[9], and Unknown Languages[10], (1 Corinthians 12:28).

Useful as these lists are, there are several gifts that are mentioned in other places:

  • Hospitality[11] (1 Peter 4:9-10);
  • Missionary[12] (Ephesians 3:6-8); and
  • Voluntary Poverty and Martyrdom[13], (1 Corinthians 13:3).

There is also the implied gift of Celibacy:

I wish everyone were single, just as I am.  Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another.  So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am, (1 Corinthians 7:7-8, emphasis mine).

It is a dangerous mistake to force lifelong celibacy on young people.  Of course I believe that sexual intercourse should be reserved for marriage, and thus abstinence should be taught and encouraged.  And it’s important to remember that self-control is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit[14].  The Spiritual Gift of Celibacy—indeed all of the Spiritual Gifts—is only truly present when it is supernaturally empowered by the Holy Spirit.

I have studied the Spiritual Gifts extensively and find it fascinating how God has put the Body of Christ together: uniting so many different people, each with their own unique gifting, for the purpose of reaching the world with the Good News of Salvation in Jesus Christ[15].

For more information about the Spiritual Gifts see Spiritual Gifts List and Definitions.  See also Your Spiritual Gifts can help Your Church Grow by C. Peter Wagner.  If you don’t know what your Spiritual Gifting is, I recommend taking a Spiritual Gifts test.  You will be far more useful to the Kingdom of God if you know and allow God to use your Spiritual Gifts.  But not only that, when you operate in your Spiritual Gift you will find it fun, interesting, and more fulfilling than anything else you’ve ever done.  And chances are that you are already doing some things involving your Spiritual Gift without even knowing it.

But I believe that the above lists are still incomplete because they fail to take into account some of the Old Testament Spiritual Gifts.  The most obvious is one I call Holy Craftsmanship:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.  Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him.  Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent—the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand—and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place.  They are to make them just as I commanded you,” (Exodus 31:1-11, emphasis mine).

Notice that Holy Craftsmanship is not merely being good at one craft, but a broad skillset, empowered supernaturally by the Holy Spirit (as are all of the Spiritual Gifts).

There is also the Spiritual Gift of Holy Warfare, and I have no doubt that this is as much in the physical sense as in the spiritual[16]:

Praise the Lord, who is my Rock.  He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle, (Psalm 144:1, emphasis mine).

And then there is the Spiritual Gift that I share with my favorite Christian authors, Mark Buchanan[17] and Mark Batterson[18]; and also with my favorite ancient authors, Isaiah and John: the Spiritual Gift of Holy Writing.  Of course I’m not saying that what I write is worthy of inclusion in the Bible.  I haven’t even achieved enough recognition (as of this writing) to have been published[19].  But God does use my writing to reach people with the Truth, and I know that this Gift is supernaturally empowered because sometimes as I write, I feel like I’m taking dictation.

In my next post I will highlight my favorite Spiritual Gift.  God is good!

[1] Called Exhortation in older English translations.

[2] Called Mercy in many other versions.

[3] Overlaps with the Romans list.

[4] Called Tongues in older English translations.

[5] These five are both gifts and offices, though I believe that many people who occupy the office of Pastor do not have the supernatural gift of Pastor, but rather the Spiritual Gift of Teacher or Leadership.

[6] These first three overlap with the Ephesians list.

[7] Miracles and Healing overlap with the 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 list.

[8] Considered by some to be the same gift as Serving in the Romans list.

[9] Overlaps with the Romans list, also called Administration.

[10] Overlaps with the 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 list.

[11] Implied.

[12] Implied.

[13] I believe that Martyrdom really is a supernaturally-powered Spiritual Gift.  In movies we see and imagine that martyrs suffered for their faith, but the only suffering death ever recorded is Jesus’ death.  Jesus suffered all the pain and humiliation of being nailed naked to a cross because the Father looked away.  But many times it is recorded that martyrs faced their deaths joyfully: Polycarp and Perpetua, for example.

[14] Galatians 5:22-23.  Fruit of the Spirit is different from the Spiritual Gifts because all nine fruits come as a result of living your life dead to sin, but alive in Christ (Romans 6:11).

[15] Ephesians 2:19-22.

[16] And thank God for the warriors who put their lives on the line for our country and for the Kingdom of God.

[17] Author of Your God is Too Safe.

[18] Author of Wild Goose Chase.

[19] Though I have self-published nine books so far.


Moving into The Secret Place


I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, Who calls you by your name, Am the God of Israel, (Isaiah 45:3, NKJV, emphasis mine).

For the past several months I have been praying for more of God.  Specifically, I have asked God for more of Him and that I should never be satisfied that I have enough of Him: Holy Dissatisfaction[1], I call it.

And I think this prayer for Holy Dissatisfaction is the reason why God is calling me back out of my comfort zone and into greater service as His Secret Weapon[2] (see An Invitation to Adventure).

The problem is that a Secret Weapon isn’t secret if the enemy knows all about it (even a defeated enemy).  So this morning as I read Psalm 91 again, it struck me afresh:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty, (Psalm 91:1, NKJV, emphasis mine).

I realized that I need to move into The Secret Place, under God Almighty’s Shadow, if I am going to truly fly under the defeated enemy’s radar, as prophesied this past summer:

God has chosen you to make you His Secret Weapon.  You are a Secret Weapon because the forces of the defeated enemy won’t believe that you could possibly be a threat to his kingdom.  Thus, you will fly under the radar of the defeated enemy’s forces, and they will never see you coming.

You will do real damage to the defeated enemy’s kingdom and set back his plans in many places.  Do not fear, though He leads you into some scary places.  God will be with you all the way, leading you, showing you where to go and teaching you how to pray.

I understood that will need invisibility in order to go and pray in stronghold places where the defeated enemy’s forces are all around.  Happily, I have already experienced that protective invisibility[3], so I was led to pray:

Lord, thank You for granting me protective invisibility.  Thank You, also, for inviting me to dwell in Your Secret Place and abide under Your Mighty Shadow.  As I enter into this next season of travel and Secret Weapon assignments, please keep me and all of my communications hidden from the defeated enemy and all of his minions.  And please give me greater discernment to know who to talk to and who not to talk to.  In the Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.

As I continued reading Psalm 91, I was also struck afresh by all the protections promised to those who dwell in The Secret Place:

  • He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler. . . (verse 3),

For among my people there are wicked men, who, like fowlers, lie in wait and set traps to catch their fellow human beings, (Jeremiah 5:26, CJB).

The defeated enemy’s human minions are like fowlers, trapping unsuspecting people like birds.

  • . . . and from the perilous pestilence, (verse 3),

After this summer and having a potentially deadly bout of pneumonia[4], I know that I need this protection.

  • You shall not be afraid of the terror by night. . . (verse 5),

Having recently suffered this attack[5], too, I’m also glad for this protection.

  • . . . nor of the arrow that flies by day. . . (verse 5),

Recently I was crossing the street at a crosswalk, and there was a car about half a block away.  When I was about a third of the way across, the driver suddenly stepped on the gas, as though to run me over.  I ran on across the street.  It wasn’t until later that I realized that the driver wasn’t just your ordinary crazy.  He was probably in league with the defeated enemy and looking to take me out.

  • . . . nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness. . . (verse 6),

I don’t mind being doubly protected from pestilence.

  • . . . nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday, (verse 6),
  • No evil shall befall you. . . (verse 10),

Being invisible to the defeated enemy and his minions will be important.

  • . . . nor shall any plague come near your dwelling. . . (verse 10),

Triple protection against illness!

  • For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone, (verses 11 & 12),

Angelic body guards—I’m going to need them.

  • You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra (verse 13).

See?  This is all about being God’s Secret Weapon.

So as I move into this next season as God’s Secret Weapon, traveling and doing the prophetic prayer work that He assigns, I will take Psalm 91 as my prayer and promise of divine protection.  All of this would be very frightening indeed without the promise of divine protection.  But having the promise of divine protection and protective invisibility, I face this new season of my life with a sense of excitement as an adventure.  What adventure is God calling you to?  God is good!

[1] See Hungry and My Heart’s Cry.

[2] See God’s Secret Weapon.

[3] See Invisibility—it’s quite an interesting story.

[4] See Barking Hell.

[5] See The Terror that Stalks at Midnight.