Monthly Archives: May 2011

What’s in your hand Moses?

Exodus 4:2  And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.

Moses had been working the flocks of Jethro for forty years. He was familiar with the staff. The shepherd’s staff was a general all purpose tool in his profession. It could be used as a weapon, a walking aid, or a gentle snare for the wondering lamb. But it was only a long curved stick used in a profession that was detestable to the Egyptians. But, what miracles God worked through that simple stick. It became a serpent before Pharaoh.  The Nile became blood when Moses struck the river with it. The stretched out rod brought frogs across the land. The rod struck the ground and brought forth lice. The rod brought down thunder and hail with fire running along the ground. The stretched out rod brought locust. The lifted rod and outstretched arm parted the Red Sea and made a way for the children of Israel to escape.

But it was only a common tool of his trade — nothing more, nothing less. God met Moses in Jethro’s fields and asked a terse question, “What is in your hand?” Then He took Moses where He found him and transferred that simple tool into the famous symbol of the Exodus with awesome unction from the throne of God. All it took was the courage of Moses to follow his calling back to the land of captivity to led his brothers out — with his tool in his hand.

God calls each of us where He finds us. He finds us with one simple tool or another. What power He can infuse with His holy unction. Listen to His voice.  What is in your hand?

— Donnie Bryson

House Mouse and the Classical Guitar

I was in the kitchen this morning practicing my latest guitar creation. Wish I could figure out why I only write guitar music that I can barely play. Anyway, that’s a topic for a different time. On to our point for today. We have a few house mice that are thankfully thinning out. I heard one of the survivors scampering in the corner while I played this morning. It brought to my mind one of the dumbest things I ever tried to sell to my wife.

We had only been married a few months. I was in the room next to our bedroom playing my classical guitar. These were the days when I was really a classical guitarist — footstool, no position dots on the neck, left hand fingers perfectly perpendicular to the fretboard, and fingers as close as possible to the strings.

I was playing my heart out — pling, pling, whoosh … pling, pling, pling, whoosh. My ear only heard the plings. My brain subconsciously edited the “whoosh” sound that my fingers were making as I changed positions on the neck of the guitar. Lindy, who was half-asleep in the next room, heard the whoosh sound and yelled, “Donnie, there is a mouse in the house!”  After fifteen minutes we figured out that the mysterious whoosh was only the sound of changing positions on the neck of the guitar.

Here comes the classic donnieism — I attempted to convince Lindy that “whoosh” sounds were only the sign of my great classical guitar technique. Expert fingers are suppose to stay close to the strings and naturally that causes  the “whoosh” sound. Believe me, that was hard to sell with a straight face.

That’s so funny.  But aren’t we Pentecostals doing the same thing? We take our children to kids camp, let them romp and stomp with the church youth group, and politely lay hands on them and listen to their fervent testimony when they come back from camp. Then we watch them leave the church in droves at 21.

We lie to ourselves and say it is because we are standing for the truth, the old-fashioned way, righteousness … you fill-in the blanks. But, we are lying to ourselves. Young adults have stood for the truth, they have stood for the faith once delivered to the saints, and they have stood for righteousness. Young adults are not allergic to God. Righteous young men and young women of long ago prove it. However, our young adults are simply sick of watching us play church.

Ichabod, ichabod, the glory has departed.   We must get our anointing back. We don’t need slick, we need sanctification. We don’t need a program, we need power. We don’t need a fresh course, we need sweaty-palm Holy Ghost conviction.

In a nutshell. We need to pray through. Our kids need for us to pray through. Our country needs for us to pray through. Our churches need for us to pray through. The night is coming and we need oil in our lamps. The glimmer of the little shiny toys that replaced anointing oil years ago has no light within itself. We need the anointing oil from the hand of the Master to the light the way in the darkness.

My Lord and my God, let a revival start and let it start with me!

— Donnie Bryson

Why this preacher promotes poetry

Originally printed in the Lookout Valley Informer

This is the sixth year that I have sponsored a Christian poetry contest. Every year I answer the same question – “Why is a preacher sponsoring a poetry contest?” The answer is simple. All art, but poetry especially, is important in the army of God. There are three reasons why art is so important.

First, poetry is a way to get the message out to folks that may not otherwise hear it. Millions have heard the gospel from Milton’s pen that would never have heard it apart from Paradise Lost. By the way, quality is the key to opening those doors. C. S. Lewis believed that the world does not need more Christian writers; the world needs more good writers that are Christians. The best fishermen use the tastiest bait.

Second, art is a way to sugarcoat a tough message without compromising. It isn’t obvious sometimes in our English Bible, but much of the Old Testament prophecy books are poetry. The poetic rebuke of the prophets helped “the medicine go down.” The rebuke of the prophet Nathan to King David in II Samuel 12 is the best example of artistic sugarcoating in the Bible. Kings in biblical times had absolute authority to both kill the innocent and forgive the guilty. Nathan had the uncomfortable job of rebuking his absolute monarch for killing committing adultery with Bathsheba and killing her husband to hide the sin. He tells the king a little story about two men – one rich and selfish and one poor and abused. The extended metaphor that God gave Nathan probably made the difference between a stoned prophet and a repentant King.

Third, art forces the artist, performer, and audience to meditate on the things of God while they experience art. I have found three primary ways to mediate on God over the last thirty years – theologically which is mainly a mental process, prayerfully which is mainly a spiritual process, and artistically which is mainly an emotional process. Praying and reading your Bible is great, but using only two legs of that three-legged tripod makes a wobbly Christian. The Psalmist said, “O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth.” (Psa 96:1) Praise God with your mind, your heart, and your spirit.

— Donnie Bryson

Purpose, Process, and Product The three P’s of Gospel Music

Originally printed in the Lookout Valley Informer

I often hear fans talk about Gospel music without any reference to the Word of God. That shouldn’t be. Many Bible verses apply to Gospel music either directly or indirectly. Let me demonstrate by considering just three aspects of Gospel music – purpose, process, and product.

Purpose. Gospel music, more than any other type, is music with a purpose. Its purpose is to praise God and to preach the Gospel. Read Psalm 150. It lists every major type of musical instrument – strings, percussion, woodwinds, and brass. After naming all the major types of instruments, it ends with, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord.” Gospel music gives every instrument made by man and every voice in our race the vehicle to obey the command – “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.”

Preaching is the other main purpose of Gospel music. We are still preaching even when we are holding a guitar. The Psalms were originally sung. Also, most Bible scholars, while we cannot prove it, believe a large portion of the prophetic books were originally songs. Think back. The most important concluding point of many Sunday morning sermons was a dear old choir singing “Just as I am.”

Process. Our process should produce the best we have to offer to the Lord. The Old Testament uses the phrase ‘without blemish’ (Ex. 12:5, Lev 1:3, etc.) nearly every time it refers to any offering made to God. We should bring the first fruits of our labor and present it to our Lord (Ex. 23:16), not throw Him the leftovers that we can’t sell in the open market. Please don’t misunderstand me. God wants our best. However, one person’s best may naturally be better than another. On my best day I sing worse than my wife on her worse. The Lord doesn’t hold it against me. I just owe God my personal best – not the best in the world or even better than the pretty young lady standing next to me in church.

Product. After all the gear is loaded in the bus and the last halleluiah has been shouted, we should be able to say with Paul that we were, “determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2). The product of Gospel music is the simple message of the cross. The music portion of Gospel music is really just the package. The message is the product we are selling. The message is everything.

— Donnie Bryson