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

God doesn’t give us more than we can handle…what a load of crap!

Screenshot_2015-05-14-21-24-23I have heard it said far too often from well intentioned Christians, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” I think this is a load of crap. Sorry for my language.  It makes me angry because as I sit with students this week who are hurting beyond imagination this kind of stuff hurts them and leads to confusion. I want to scream and lets just all agree to stop saying these things to students because they are not true and certainly aren’t biblical.

First, does God cause these bad things to happen so we can deal with them?  Nope! Not even close. The statement above assumes God causes bad things to happen to us.  This is certainly wrong in terms of God’s character.  God is good and God is love.  He does not cause his people harm.  The bad is this world happens because of sin.  Sin has totally corrupted our world.  Sin causes death. Sin causes brokenness.  Our sin, original sin and Satan are the cause of evil in this world.  Jesus has been working since the beginning of the fall to save his people from this sin and brokenness.  Jesus came so we could be whole again.  Through is death and resurrection we get a glimpse of this redemption today.

Second, and probably most troubling about this comment is it assumes we can handle anything with our own strength.  It assumes inside of us is this superhuman power to deal with great tragedy, loss, and brokenness.  This is a load of bunk.  This past week walking with students has brought to the conclusion, sometimes we are hit with such tragedy,  such pain, such brokenness that we cannot hope to get through it on our own.  You see for me when I am faced with the unimaginable pain of loss, and brokenness, I am brought to my knees.  This week of seeing students hurt, seeing students see this broken sin filled world brought me so low I was in tears. I am brought to a point where I am not sure I can even look up to God.  Yet I am reminded of His promises to me to never leave me or forsake me. I am reminded that although in this world I will see trouble I can take heart because Jesus has overcome the world.  I can put my hope and trust in Jesus because in him I know tomorrow will come. One day I will be able to stand again.  When I look to that cross and see my redemption I can watch as he wipes away all my tears. For their will be a day when we will have be no more pain, no more brokenness, and all will be well.

If today you are broken and don’t think you can stand anymore, and are not sure you can handle everything that is going on in your life.  You can join me on my knees this week as we look to Jesus the only one who can rescue us.  My prayer is you see Jesus and let Him pick you up.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Rev 21:3-5

Walking together…The joy of ministry and sorrow of ministry

DSC_0093This past weekend I was asked to speak the message at a former student’s wedding.  It was truly an honor to be a part of her, and her husband’s special day.  It really made me think about all the students God has lead across my path over the last almost 12 years.  It has made me think about what I love most about being in ministry.  I love walking alongside people. I get the greatest joy of walking along side people and sharing Jesus with them. Sometimes with great joy and sometimes with great sadness. Most of the time it is both.

Speaking at Emily’s wedding reminded me of the messiness of walking with people. You see at Emily’s wedding it rained during the whole outside wedding ceremony. I am not talking about that kind of rain that just gets you wet but the kind that leaves you drenched.  My suit was dripping and I couldn’t see for part of the message because water was just running down my face. I was reminded that walking with students isn’t always easy. It can be quite messy. You know when it is all said and done it is quite rewarding.  You get to see two people join as one to follow Jesus together.  You get to see lives changed and you get to laugh at the craziness of life and enjoy the moments for what they are.  Moments where Jesus can bring joy in the midst of hardships. It did make it much easier to talk with them about being children of God through baptism because I had such a great object lesson.

This weekend also marked another tough moment in ministry.  A student who I met a few times and is friends with some of the students I know well, ended his life.  It was a tough way to end a weekend.  I also thought is was emblematic of ministry.  God lets us walk with students in the good times and we also have to walk through the tough stuff as well.  I am reminded that Jesus calls us to walk in the lows and the highs, in the sorrow and joys but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I will have another post later about this week with students and about this young man. So as I end I would ask for prayers first for the couple who is starting a new life and second for the family grieving today. Ministry is tough and walking with families isn’t always easy but Jesus reminds us of his unfailing love through all of it.

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance

Ecclesiastes 3:4 ESV