Saturday, October 29, 2011

God Wants to Hear You Sing

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you". Matthew 5:11 & 44
While living in Southern California, I would listen to a local news station on the radio every time I was in the car. It was the only way I could stay a half step ahead of the traffic snarls. Since moving to Portland, I have found the traffic reports to be more of a source of amusement than informational. They speak of freeways moving "at a crawl", yet that crawl is still 35 miles an hour. I'll take that any day compared to the parking lot experiences of the California freeways. Because of the lack of need for that information, I have decided to fill my car with the Heavenly sounds of Southern Gospel music.
Personally, I cannot carry a note. Sure, I have a speaking voice that carried me through twenty years of radio broadcasting, but a singing voice was something God chose not to give me. But when I cam in my car, alone, driving the freeway, I sing with the best of them. I love the bass parts, and truly respect the quartets that have great bass singers.
Recently I purchased a new CD. One of the songs on the disc is "God Wants to Hear You Sing". It talks about how it is easy to sing when things are going right. But, when things go wrong, that's the time to sing. The song uses Paul and Silas in the prison as an illustration. Rather than moan and wail over their circumstances, these two men chose to sing hymns of praise and God delivered them from their chains.
Then there is the victorious chorus,
God wants to hear you sing
When the waves are crashing ’round you
When the fiery darts surround you
When despair is all you see
God wants to hear your voice
When the wisest man has spoken
And says, “Your circumstance is as hopeless as can be”
That’s when God wants to hear you sing

The most difficult situation is temporary. In any situation, God wants us to sing praises to Him. Singing praises when the world around us is falling apart seems to lift the heavy spirit of depression. Singing takes the weight off our shoulders and frees us from the miseries of the world. Yet, so many chose to carry their burdens, even after Jesus says for us to give Him our load. in the great old hymn of the church, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus", the lyrics state,

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Often, when we are givn a heavy load, we quietly whisper a prayer to God in hopes he might hear us. Next time, try singing a prayer to God. You will be surprised how quickly the burden becomes lighter and how your prayer changes into a song of praise.
Even for a guy like me who cannot carry a note in a bucket, singing is therapy. Best of all, even if you have a singing voice like mine, God wants to hear you sing!
More later.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. - Luke 2:17-19

The brisk cool air of the of the autumn season has returned to the Pacific Northwest. The leaves are turning their brilliant hues of reds, oranges, and gold. The days are getting shorter, sun is dimming and soon winter will set in.  It is during the long nights of winter, I tend to retreat into my thoughts. I consider the paths I have chosen in life and how they have brought me to the place I am today. Sure, there have been a few poor choices made in the past, but many choices have been the right ones and the fruit of those choices is evident.

It is also in this season I begin to reflect on Christmas. Christmas one of the big check points in my personal calendar year. For me and my family, Christmas has always been a time of church activities. Yes, there are the presents, the decorations, the family and the food. But intertwined among all the elements of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. Songs proclaiming "Joy to the world, the Lord is come" and "O come let us adore Him" punctuate the season. Christmas is not just a holiday, it is a season of worship.

Many families huddle around and listen to the reading of "The Night Before Christmas". For my family, it was all about the reading of the beloved Christmas story of Luke 2. This passage has so many sermons and truths just leaping off the page of the scriptures. The scene is one of wonder and amazement as the Son of the most High is born in human form in Bethlehem. The skies are filled with angels. Shepherds leave their flocks to find the child. The whole scene is busy with excitement, until we reach verse 19. Suddenly, the scene changes and become very serene.

I have a friend who describes any reading like this, "As you absorb the words on a page, look for the 'but'. When you find it, what follows is a truck load of truth!" in Luke 2, the Heavens and the Earth are filled with the excitement of the birth, BUT, Luke stops his narrative to throw in a truck load of truth. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. We discover a deeply reflective young mother, Mary.

One can only imagine what Mary must have been thinking. No matter how deep we try to imagine her thoughts, we cannot come close. We cannot understand her culture, her inner turmoil as her family questioned her and possibly doubted her about her pregnancy. We do not know what was in the private discussions she and Joseph shared. What we do know is this, Mary took value in all that was going on around her. She knew that what was happening was significant, as she had been visited by Heavenly beings. She treasured everything that was happening, and then "pondered" them in her heart.

Ponder. That is a word rarely used today. Not because there are other words for ponder. I believe it is because we do not take the time to invest in our thoughts. According to the Greek New Testament, Mary was carefully taking the events of her life, and putting them together like the pieces of a puzzle. In today's language, she was "owning" all that was happening to her. Mary was fully invested in her relationship with God, so much so, she was willing to take on the scorn of the world to obey her Heavenly Father. Now that her child was born, she was taking the moment to put it all together.

How often have we taken time to ponder the things of God? How often do we take His word and "own" it in our lives? In this busy world, it is easy to keep God in our back pocket for those emergencies when we need Him most. We can take a lesson from Mary. Even with the celebration of the ages happening around her, Mary took time to ponder the things of God in her life. May we take time to ponder as well.

More later.