Monday, May 12, 2008

How's Your Spiritual Pitch Recognition?

Lately I've been looking around for my tuning fork. I used to carry one a number of years ago. It was for the pitch of "A". 

I didn't carry it because I'm a musical sort (although I am a 'musical sort'. . . I enjoy playing trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn and even a marching French horn that I was fortunate enough to get on ebay a year ago or so). I carry it as a reminder. 

See, it served to be a reminder to me that there are absolutes. After my conversion I was, for some time, struggling with a certain amount of spiritual and intellectual confusion. And working in "the real world" had its own challenges which at the time seemed daunting. So, I carried a tuning fork. Every once in a while I'd pull it out of my pocket and tap it on something to remind myself that there really is an absolute, that God had helped me come to understand at least some of them, and that they didn't change regardless of my circumstances.

It was  a reminder to me. No, not so much that "A = 440", but that just as "A = 440", God's Word is the Truth. That what God has to say is authoritative. 

No orchestra would be able to produce a proper performance if each musician decided to decide that "A" was some arbitrary pitch. A = 440! There would be no meaningful harmony. There would be no tonal center. 

Lately, I've been upgrading what I refer to as my recording studio. It's nothing big, but it does what it is supposed to do. And I've been investing some time in practicing tonal recognition. You know, where someone plays a note on a keyboard and you can say "That's an A4" or "that's a low concert C". I've got a long way to go. Hopefully, some day I'll be able to tell someone what note they are humming while they look at the lima beans at the local grocery store. 

Kind of sad -- while I was in college getting my bachelor's in Computer Science, I took three courses in music. . .one in Music Theory. But I still have a problem reading music. Hopefully that will change.

Jesus said that His sheep know Him and follow Him. From John 10:

"27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."

He also said in John 16 that the Spirit of Truth (the Holy Spirit) will lead those who are regenerate to the truth. 

"13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority. . ."

Those are related verses. We follow Him by discerning and obeying the truth. 

How's your spiritual tonal recognition?

Lately I've become aware of so many who have demonstrated a problem with their "spiritual tonal recognition." People saying one thing and tolerating another. Pastors discovered to be in decade-long affairs. Others (some who call themselves pastors) who preach against various sins to others while they allow and even excuse the same patterns in their own lives and families. And, of course, that is disappointing. But this stuff is way beyond the pale of what I'm referencing. In this post, I'm talking about the subtleties of the human heart.

See, as I work on my musical tonal recognition I find myself driven to work on my spiritual "tonal recognition". What is it in my own spiritual life that is contrary to God's standard. In what way am I trying to tell the Lord that I've decided that "A = 335" and not 440?

It's a challenge. 

Jesus said in Matthew 7 that there will be many who cry out "Lord, Lord. . ." but will find that they were not truly converted. What was the evidence? A lack of obedience which betrayed them as false converts. 

. . .and it all starts with what is in our heart. What we allow, or deny. Do we really, really in our heart of hearts believe that Christ is Lord of all? If so, our lives will show it. And it is an ongoing decision, even moment by moment. 

Regardless of what our lips say, if we tolerate deviations from what we know to be the truth, then we are denying the truth at that very point. There is no wiggle room from this, and that is as God intended it. Jesus did say that "the way is narrow", not just the gate.

We defect. By little bits at first. But we defect. It's part of living. It's all part of the testing. "What will we decide when this or that happens". 

Years ago, someone said something that we all could do well to tuck away in our hearts. To quote, "The words 'No' and 'Lord' are mutually exclusive". And the false converts in Matthew 7 found that out. If you say "No" to what God says, you are saying He is not your Lord, for Lordship involves masterhood. 

We all must, as Paul said in 2 Corinthians, examine ourselves to see if we are really in the faith. One local pastor said that we do that at communion time. Well, that may be true but it had better be more often than that. 

Where is the line between "self examination" and "morbid introspection"? I'm not sure. I'm still working on that one. But I'd rather over-examine myself than treat my "test results" as if they were blow-off quizzes. 

So, once in a while and hopefully more often than not, periodically pull out your spiritual tuning fork and see if your tonal recognition is working. If it isn't, shouldn't that be an alarm you hear?