The Encourager

The Encourager

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Help! I Can't Sing! by Ed Whittlesey

Sunday, May 03, 2015

What comes to mind when you think of singing? We have all probably known or observed someone who does not do a very good job of actively joining in the song service during worship. A majority of the time, the phrase “Help! I can't sing” really translates into “I sing out of tune,” or “I cannot read music.” While those might be valid reasons in our secular world for not singing, they do not excuse our responsibility to sing in worship. In the same way, we might not be very good offering prayer, but does that mean we stop praying? If this becomes our collective approach. then the singing, or worship for that matter. is unacceptable God deserves our best. We must not lose focus and allow selfishness and pride to supersede our purpose for singing. Let's consider a few things regarding our purpose and duty to sing, as well as ways to improve our singing to the Lord.

Above all. the most important reason we sing is to offer God our expressions of praise, thanksgiving, hope, and dependence. David displays such great determination to sing and praise God in Psalm 146:2, “While I live I Will praise the Lord; I will sing praises, to my God while I have my being.” While in prison, Paul and Silas convey their dependence on God through praying and singing hymns to Him, while prisoners were listening, Acts 16:25. We should regard our singing as speaking directly to God, and the words, therefore, should be spoken in sincerity and awe. Together in song, we pour our hearts out to the Lord. Then our voices, united in praise, are sweet and beautiful to Him.

Another purpose for singing is to edify one another, and thereby promote purity of heart. Several of the songs we sing were written to help us in this regard. In the context of Ephesians 5:19, it is the will of the Lord that we “be filled with the Spirit by speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our hearts to Him.” In so doing, we strengthen and encourage each other to walk wisely. Having been enriched by the word of Christ, we are able to teach and admonish each other in song, and express thanksgiving in our hearts to the Lord, Colossians 3:16. What an invaluable blessing and opportunity Christians of all ages have to be able to teach, admonish, encourage and edify each other by singing together.

In terms of improving our singing in worship, whether we sing “in tune” or “read music” is not of utmost importance. What is more important to God is singing from our hearts. Again, David serves as a wonderful example saying, “I will praise You with my whole heart ... I will sing praises to You.”Psalm 138:1. The Lord knows our hearts, 1 Samuel 16:7, and understands that our musical abilities differ. Sometimes too much emphasis is placed on how our singing sounds. While we certainly do not want to discount the quality of our singing, it must be remembered that everyone can sing in a way which pleases God. When we sing with understanding, 1 Corinthians 14:15, and emotion, God appreciates our efforts. Focusing on pleasing God will go a long way toward improving our singing.

With this purpose in mind, we can work toward enhancing our singing by sitting close together or beside somebody who knows music and can sing well. Another suggestion is to hold the song book in such a position that allows for an easier view of the song and the song leader. As a result, we'll be able to follow the song leader's direction and not get ahead of or behind the tempo which has been established. Furthermore, we should take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the mechanics of music. Listening to CD's of hymns and attending singings serve as great methods by which we can do so. Singing is like most other activities, the more we put into it, the more we get out of it.

In conclusion. much of the “Help! I can't sing” business stems from too much emphasis on the music or sound alone. Instead, our purpose should be that of singing and praising God from the heart. By doing so, we also teach and encourage our fellow brothers and sisters to live according to His will. Singing in worship is not about talent or musical ability; it's about trying to please God. The desire to please God comes from within the heart. With this as our purpose, we can be content knowing that we offered God our best effort to praise and adore Him as we worship in song. 

When We Disagree by Doy Moyer

Sunday, April 26, 2015

 

Be generous. Assume the best first. Don't assign evil motives to other parties. They may have intended something else. Let the principles of love guide our discussions (1 Cor.13).

Be respectful. Don't begin a response by insulting and insinuating that the other parties are intellectually deficient. Just address the issue without resorting to ad hominem attacks. Kindness and respectfulness should mark all conversations.

Be willing. It's possible that we misunderstood something. Be willing to discuss and foster good communication through definition and clarification.

Be open. It's possible that we are wrong ourselves and haven't thought something through. Consider the other position and make sure that we understand it before rejecting it outright. If we are still sure that we disagree, then proceed with the other principles still in mind.

Be direct. Being generous and kind does not mean that we have to beat around the bush when we address the issue. State clearly the objection and the reasons for the disagreement.

Be honorable. We all make honest mistakes in our reasoning and conclusions, but if we purposefully twist or distort something in order to win an argument, we have crossed over into dishonesty. This is never honorable or right.

Be committed. First, be committed to the Lord and His truth. Then be committed to the well-being of others. Winning an argument is pointless just for its own sake.

Be logical. It is one matter to just state, "I disagree," or to just state a contrary proposition. It is another matter to state the disagreement along with reasons. Learn how to make actual arguments. If we want others to consider our positions, we need to able to give the "because" for our positions. If we can't state the "because," then we don't have adequate grounds for actual discussion.

Distinctive Preaching W. Curtis Porter

I cannot conceive of their having ever been a time in all of the history of the church that distinctive preaching was not needed. Perhaps there have been periods of that history in which such preaching was more sorely needed than at other times; but if so, the failure of some to preach a distinctive gospel was responsible for the increase of the need for it. And it may be that there was never a time when the need for distinctive preaching was more imperative than now. We have entirely too much preaching that means nothing, and the need of the hour is for men who have the courage to preach a distinctive message.

 

Are You Prepared? Alexander Maclaren
"Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having one everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:13-18)

And not only is there courage needed for the application of the principles of conduct which God has given us, but you will never have them handy for swift application unless, in many a quiet hour of silent, solitary, patient meditation you have become familiar with them. The recruit that has to learn on the battle-field how to use his rifle has a good chance of being dead before he has mastered the mysteries of firing. And Christian people that have their Christian principles to dig out of the Bible when the necessity comes, will likely find that the necessity is past before they have completed the excavation. The actual battle-field is no place to learn drill. If a soldier does not know how his sword hangs, and cannot get at it in a moment, he will probably draw it too late.

 

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