Posted tagged ‘singing’

Running Ahead of Grace

February 8, 2020

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        February 8, 2020

                                    

At our small town Baptist church we have a machine that plays the organ music for the hymns that we sing. Our youth do another song during the worship service where they play a praise song on their Bluetooth speaker and the congregation sings along with them. For hymns, however, we sing with the machine.

Here’s the thing! Sometimes the volume of the music machine is not loud enough for us to hear if we are on the right note, word, or line. Sometimes it runs ahead of us, like an unleashed dog with a wide open field in front of him. Sometimes the machine lags behind, like a shy kindergartener being pulled into his first day of school.

Last Sunday we sang that great hymn, “Amazing Grace”. The music lagged behind and the singers scampered ahead, leaving grace in the dust. It wasn’t loud enough or dominant enough for it to be pursued. Instead, as we finished the first verse, it had become the pursuer.

By the final stanza we had slowed down our hurried vocal pace and seemed to be more in step with what it was that we were singing about. If “Amazing Grace” had three more verses we would have felt synchronized with the emphasis.

It seems that’s how it is with grace. We run ahead of it, run away from it, and run despite it. Our actions sometimes suggest it, but our thoughts betray our lips. The volume of its potential gets turned down and fades into the background of our beliefs.

Finding the rhythm of grace in our lives is challenging. When the crowd sings too quick, staying in step with grace requires resolve and conviction. When some of the group decide it’s not worth singing about at all, grace-filled people decide to stay the course, sing the next words that others find antiquated. 

“…I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see!”

I have found in my years as a Christ-follower that the most amazing moments in a journey with other believers happen when a church finds it’s grace harmony. Repentance and forgiveness seem to join hands and the transformative power of the grace of God seems to make singing the hymn freeing.

It’s like last Sunday! After we finished the last verse that John Newton wrote, and finally got in step with the music, we added an additional verse of our own. We sang two words over and over again to the same “Amazing Grace” tune. Two words again and again.

“Praise God, praise God! Praise God, praise God!”

Half Song Singer

June 13, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            June 13, 2017

                                 

My friend David Volitis breaks out in song quite often. Sometimes I can even figure out what song he is singing. I say disparaging things to him like “Wow! You hit that one note consistently!”, or “Hold on! I think I hear the neighborhood dogs howling!” The razzing is part of our friendship. In return he razzes me about how I drink soda pop with my lips stretched out like a bird’s beak!

With Dave you never know what the next song is going to be and when it will erupt onto the scene. It might be a song about the rapture, the Holy Ghost, or Forest Gump…so you have to be on your toes!

Unfortunately, I am “lyrics impaired!” I can remember about one line of words and then I start humming! There are some exceptions, like “Amazing Grace” or “How Great Thou Art!” I can get through the whole first verse of those before my mouth closes and I start humming like a bird!

Perhaps you have the same lyric limitation in your life. “Great is thy faithfulness, O Lord…hum hum hum!”

Praise songs are the worst considering their reoccurring verbiage. I mean…if you can’t remember the words of the line that is repeated sixteen times in a row you resonate and announce your limited intellectual capacity.

I often throw some “Dum, Dum, Dum’s” into my hums as well. So it could be “hum…hum…dum…hum…dum…dum!”

Don’t get me started on rap music! Do you know how stupid it sounds to hum a rap?

All of this comes out when my friend Dave requests my joining in on the latest tune that comes to his mind. He sings the words, but I hum more than one note! I can hum the high notes just as well as the low notes. He questions my salvation based on how much I have to hum and I question him on his lack of compassion for my ears!

That reminds me of a song…Dum-de-dum…Jesus! Hum, hum, hum…Jesus!

 

Coffee With Jesus…Fourth Cup

July 16, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        July 15, 2014

 

                             

 

I look at Jesus for a second before returning my focus to the refilled cup in front of me. “It feels funny to be drinking coffee in front of the Son of Man while you remain caffeine free.”

“I don’t mind. I’m not a big coffee drinker. Probably goes back to the brief time I spent drinking Egyptian coffee. That brew could put hair on the Holy Ghost!”

“Does the Holy Spirit have hair?”

“It was simply an expression of exaggeration, Bill. I have been known to think big.”

“I guess so.”

“Think of the feeding of the 5,000. Why twelve baskets of leftovers…ever ask yourself that question?”

“Because of the twelves tribes of Israel?”

“Some think that, but I simply wanted to over-do it because the people, to begin with, couldn’t imagine God supplying their needs…let alone having stuff leftover.”

“So…back to this joy thing we were talking about…you asked me why I desired a joyous soul?”

“Yes, I believe I did say something like that.”

“I guess I struggling to find an answer. Is it because that’s what we were always taught in Sunday School…you know the song, “The joy of the Lord is my strength…”

“Yes, I’m familiar with it. Although when your congregation sings it my teeth chatter.”

“Why so?”

“They are a little rhythm impaired on the clapping.

“Jesus, we’re Baptists. Anything resembling dancing or music with a beat, we’re a little off…like a toddler trying to walk.”

“Let me ask you this. Do you think having a joyous soul is like eating fruits and vegetables- something that you’re told to to because it’s healthy?”

“No…I don’t think so.”

“So…going back to the question…why do you desire a joyous soul?”

“I was just asking you to help me figure that out. You’re the know-it-all at this table.”

“You’re the one who can begin to discover the answer.”

“I think…I think it was part of God’s design in our creation. I think he wants me to live out of a soul that is joyous. Even though I often wonder why he allows certain things to occur and other things to not be I don’t believe he desires for us to live out of a bitter or sorrowful soul.”

“Is it something you have to convince yourself of each day? In other words, it isn’t natural for you to know that your soul is joyous?”

“That’s a tough question, but “yes”, I think I have to convince myself each day. Perhaps it’s because the cynicism of the world has invaded my soul and weakened it to my desire for the things of God.”

“Fallenness leaves bruises, cuts, and wounds.”

“That’s for sure.”

“There’s another song that comes to mind…and your congregation actually sings it well. Some of the words include “Then sings my soul…how great thou art!”

“Yes, that’s a great hymn that seems to draw in the whole of me.”

“Perhaps, like music, desiring a joyous soul is comparable to finding that new song that your “whole” self can sing.”

“Does this mean learning to play the guitar?”

“No…no! I’m using music only as an analogy. It’s about what causes your soul to sing.”

“A topic for another cup?”

“Yes. You sip, I’ll observe.”

TO BE CONTINUED

The Disappearance of Happiness

November 1, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                         October 31, 2012

Someone once asked me “If being a Christians is such a good thing why do so many Christians look unhappy?”

Great question! Open mouth with no answer coming out.

In fact, I won’t simplify it by saying there is an answer. It is more like having a lot of fragments that gradually accumulate to give some kind of foggy image of an answer. Fragments include the economy, acne, obesity, gas prices, too much homework, realty TV, professional football, professional football ticket prices, texting, aging parents, marijuana dispensaries, air travel, baggage fees, rush hour traffic, and club volleyball…to name a few!

In essence, there are a lot of unhappy people because they seem to have more reasons to be unhappy than reasons to be happy.

A few days ago I was talking to a man who does some service work for me at our house. In the midst of our conversation he made the comment “I don’t know anyone who is happy. Everyone I know is anything but happy!”

I suggested he find some new people to hang around with.

His comment, however, stayed with me. That’s when I started thinking about happiness. Why are so few people happy? Is it connected to our personalities? Is it because life is lived at such a frantic, rushed pace? Do we think happy people are weird?

It is true that happiness is not one of the fruit of the Spirit. Joy is, but happiness…no. Joy seems to be a Spirit-developed element. Happiness, however, seems to come as a result of things happening around someone that affects their life.

Happiness is blowing out the candles on a birthday cake. Joy is knowing that the depth and specialness of the relationships the person has with those who brought the cake and are standing around in a circle singing.

Still…joy-filled people aren’t always happy; and happy people aren’t always joyous. In fact, someone can be happy about someone else having to face adversity.

There’s a song we sing in church and church camp entitled “Happiness is the Lord”. It begins with these words: “Happiness is to know the Savior; living a life within his favor, having a change in my behavior, happiness is the Lord.”

The “change in behavior” is the line I struggle with. It goes back to the question I referenced at the beginning that was asked of me. Why aren’t more followers of Jesus happy? And my last answer is “I don’t know!”