Stop singing in Church…No make a joyful noise

20150612_131958So I cant sing.  I am actually maybe the worst singer ever.  This past Sunday my wife commented to me that I should try not to sing out because I could scare the people around me. (this was in jest)  Once when I was in college at chapel I sat between two choir members and they both asked if I could stop singing for one of the verses because I was so off key it was throwing them off.  I am bad and I know it. On occasion at Church I leave my mic on and others know it, but I still sing.  This blog post has nothing to do with others joking comments. I don’t think anyone of them was seriously asking me to not sing just having some playful banter.

I think everyone should sing in Church.  I think everyone should be an active participant in the worship service.  I sit in the front row of Church and often sit where I can see most of the men and women in my Church skipping the singing part.  This by the way has nothing to do with contemporary or traditional worship services.  Sure sometime the key for the song is unsingable or the hymn uses words no one understands or can sing.  We may have many reasons people don’t sing but if you are not doing it because you are an awful singer please listen up.

The saddest reason I think people don’t sing is because they think they sound terrible.  They are afraid to sing out because they don’t want to be embarrassed.  Well let me tell you something I know as a youth guy.  Your kids are watching.  Your boys sitting in the pew are watching you mom and dad.  They are watching you and thinking Dad thinks this Church thing is dumb, so we think it is dumb.  Mom doesn’t sing so we can check out of this Church thing. Please, please, please sing.  Mom, dad, grandpa, and grandma please sing.  It is better for you to be involved worship, but most important it shows those young people around you that you care about this Jesus.  I know you know and love Jesus. I really want you to show that to others by being involved.  Sing loud and praise the Lord.

In college my favorite line a friend Rev. Dave Herald  and I used to say.  “If you have a good voice sing loud and praise God…If you have a horrible voice sing loud and get back at him!”  Enjoy God’s gift of song, sing to the lord and receive his blessings through the worship services.  Help lead by example to our young people that this Jesus who came and died for us is worth giving praise in response to his good gifts.

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Psalm 95:1 ESV

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Stripping paint… How ministry can be tough when you don’t get to see the end of the project.

DSC01756This past weekend I was on a retreat with High school students from Big Rapids, Muskegon, and Grand Rapids. I loved it.  I loved talking about Christ with them and on the first night we spent talking about the term whatever.  We focused on whatever we do, we do it for Jesus.  If we hold the door open we do if for Jesus, If we clean up after dinner we do it for Jesus, If we scrape paint we do it for Jesus.

We scraped a lot of paint.  In fact when we arrived we had thought we would be painting.  We came to finish this great project.  Instead we spent 8 hours scraping one building.  It was hard work.  The building was build in 1957 and had at least 6 coats of paint on it.  The process was spread paint remover goop on building, wait 30 minutes scrape, get off a layer or two,  and repeat.  If you waited too long it got dry and stopped working. At one point someone said “Wow this is hard work.” And I said “Yes and we are paying to do it!” It was hard and to be honest. I am not sure we all had the satisfaction of seeing a completely striped building ready for paint. Being the scraper of paint is tough work and not very satisfying.

So I think scraping paint reminds a lot of being a disciple of Jesus. Sharing Jesus with students, friends, families, enemies and everyone in between is tough work.  Sometimes when we spread the good news you don’t get to see it finished. even after you spend a lot of time on it.  We would love for it to happen so quickly. We would love to be able to pray, talk and conversion happens.  You don’t always get to see the beautiful building God is working them into.  You see siding that looks beat up.  You see the little bits of stubborn paint on a person that just isn’t wiped clean.  Sometimes at the end of your time with the building, you don’t see the finished project just a building you worked on.  I can be so frustrating.

I tried to tell the students this weekend.  This project isn’t complete.  We did what God had planned for us to complete.  We followed Jesus. We served and one day the whole project will be finished.  It wasn’t our job to finish it was are call to start the project.

As you think about that person, or family who needs to hear about Jesus, and are frustrated that the job isn’t done remember we all play a part and sometimes we don’t get to see the finish just are part of the process.

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  1 Corinthians 3:5-7 ESV

 

Mountains and valleys…some days life and ministry are hard

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Some days ministry I hard. Some days you have ups and downs. You have that event you have been planning for months fall flat, you have that relationship you work so hard at fall apart, you think you are doing it right and it falls apart. It can be a place of awful valleys.

Some days you have the right words, some days you feel like you changed a life for the better. In ministry I find my ups and downs can even happen in the sane day. I don’t want to live a life that doesn’t have these ups and downs. I can’t live in the middle I have to journey in the peaks and valleys. But how do we survive the journey in ministry and life?

I remind myself of the highs. I pull up the stories of joy, hope and changed lives. I have to be reminded of these because by nature Satan wants me to focus on the mistakes, the pain and the failures. He doesn’t want me to see and remember the changed lives or mountain top moments or remember the right words at the right time. He wants me to focus on the valleys.

Today as we sit down to pray let’s think about the mountain tops and not the valleys. Lets hold up the times God has chosen to show us lives changed. Lets hold on to them so we don’t fall but cling to Jesus who gave us these moments so we could follow him and trust in him as we walk alongside so many people He has placed in our lives.

Psalm 23 ESV
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.