When Spiritual Growth Seems Painful

Often as God increases our ministry and impact it can feel as though we are moving in reverse. Life seemingly become more difficult. Spiritual attack increases, isolation from others becomes more palpable, the life of spiritual freedom begins to feel heavy.

Be assured that this is because God is working deep within, exercising spiritual muscles never before used; transforming areas never before exposed to His light.

At these moments it is essential to recognise what is going on through spiritual rather than earthly eyes. Freedom is found not in walking away from this growth, but into it.

Pastors without Soul

The Story of American Music can teach Christian leaders a lot about the importance of developing personal depth in a culture obsessed with image.

Modern music was born out of a collision of cultural influences that occurred on the fringes of American society around a century ago. Slaves, many coming via the Caribbean, used a fusion of traditional African rhythms, the call and response pattern, and Christian hymns to create Spirituals, or Black Gospel music. This music became a way of communicating their suffering and hope for deliverance from slavery. Irish migrants who fled famine and poltical strife in their homeland, and who faced widespread racism upon their arrival in the United States, communicated their sense of cultural dislocation through Irish Ballads. Jewish refugees fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe, brought to America Klezmer music, itself a fusion of Yiddish and Roma (Gypsy) musical cultures, a way of two of Europe’s persecuted minorities to through music, express the pain that centuries of marginalization and misunderstanding brought.

These musical styles smashed up against each other in big cities such as New York and mutated together in the deep South to give birth to Blues and Jazz, which in turn gave birth to Rock and Roll and Hip Hop and almost everything great that came after.

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