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Posts Tagged ‘worship’

Singing dads

Singing with vigor and joyful abandon has always been one of the things we’ve tried to emphasize over the years. I’m usually especially rabid about it after going on vacation, having visited churches where all you can hear is the piano (or organ) playing and a few weak voices here and there in the congregation like night thieves sneaking around afraid of waking someone.

When we join these churches for worship, our family always causes “a stir” – not because we want to or try to, but just because we actually sing the hymns. Out loud. And the result is, before the fourth verse is finished, everyone in the congregation has turned around to get a sneak peak at the show-offs who’ve come to disturb the peace and serenity of the Quiet Waters of Tranquility Church.

Truth is, not many churches sing anymore. I mean, SING – singing the words of the hymn with something that approaches zeal, following along in the general proximity of the tune being played, and acting like they really believe what they’re singing. In some churches, nobody sings. Except the choir. Or the singers in the worship band. In other churches only the women sing – while the men stand, uncomfortably looking about with the same interest and enthusiasm they would have if their wives had dragged them to the matinee of La Traviata.

It’s a shame really. Given what the Scriptures teach about the importance and significance of singing.

It has to be an indicator of our spiritual well-being when the worst singing we hear each week is usually that which we hear in church. During worship.

But let’s, for the moment, put aside a full critical analysis of why this is so and focus upon one reason it is so: Dads – men – don’t sing anymore. And that has had many bad consequences. I was reminded of this after seeing an article by Trevan Wax, titled “A Dad Who Sings.” After mentioning the fact that his dad was always singing, Mr. Wax observes:

We certainly weren’t a charismatic family. We weren’t the type to raise our hands in church. We didn’t dance in the aisles.

But I never remember a time I sat with my parents in church that they did not sing. Not once.

Outside the church, Dad sang too. In the van, he may not have lifted his hands off the steering wheel, but he lifted the roof with his praises. He wasn’t a soloist or a choir member, but he was a worshiper.

Dad didn’t see himself as being “above” praising the Lord. He didn’t see praise and worship as something unmanly. In fact, I remember how many of those songs celebrated the power of Jesus Christ over the principalities and powers of this world. The impression the songs left on me was that Jesus had achieved an important victory, and He was worth singing about and cheering for. Jesus was the Conqueror, so praise the victorious Lamb!

Dad never had to tell me I should sing along. Much of what I learned wasn’t verbal instruction. I knew Jesus was good and powerful, not just because the Bible told me so, but because Dad sang about it so much. The impact wasn’t in him telling me that Jesus was everything; it was him singing it. For that example of faithfulness, I am, as one of those old songs said, “forever grateful.”

There you go.

Dads lead families. Dads often set the “tone” of the family. Dad’s example is always a powerful one – for good or ill. But dads often forget this and think that their lectures are more influential than their example. Wrong.

If you’ve been distressed over the poor singing in your church (or other churches) or in your family, here’s what you can do about it: SING. Sing loudly. Sing with joy. Sing like the gospel is true. Sing like Jesus really is alive. Sing like you would sing if you had been delivered from certain death and given unending life piled high with the most joyful things. Sing like you have been given the great honor of being adopted into the family of the King of the Universe.

Sing!

And your children will join you.

And, more importantly, they will learn about the One who is worthy of all praise. At all times. In every place.

And others will too.

And things will begin to change.

So . . . sing!

 

 

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Family time

I keep saying that I’m not surprised by anything I hear that Christians have done nowadays — and then just about every week I hear of something that some Christian (or church) has done and I’m flabbergasted. Again.

Apparently, the fact that Christmas falls on Sunday this year has flummoxed a number of churches. One of which put out a video to explain to their congregation the reason why they had changed their normal practice this Sunday. The pastor says, the leadership team was stumped at first. You have to do “something on Christmas” he tells us. But they couldn’t figure out what. So, after a lot of discussion, they came up with the idea of doing . . . . next to nothing. They’re going to leave the church open so that their members can come by and have a time of quiet meditation. There might even be Bible reading and prayer and singing of some Christmas carols, he says, they’re not quite sure how it will all work — but this will, he says, make Christmas “special.”

Nowhere in the video does he indicate that, you know, we might just worship on this Sunday like we do every other Sunday! Worship apparently isn’t “special” enough.

Then I hear that a number of Christians are planning to stay home from worship this Sunday so that they can celebrate Christmas. Yeah. I hope that sounds a tad whacky to you! John Barach makes this point to show the stupidity of this:

Would you skip someone’s birthday party and refuse to come to his house or eat any of his birthday cake and then tell him that you did all of that in order to honor him on his birthday? No? Then why would anyone skip church on Sunday in order to celebrate Christ’s birth?

This is akin to those who say they’re not going to worship in order to “have family time.”

We need to ask the question, “Who is your family?”

Jesus actually had the opportunity to answer this question one day. Remember when He was in Capernaum teaching and healing, he was told that his mother and brothers wanted to speak to him. Jesus used this as an opportunity to give some important instruction (Matt. 12:48-50): “But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Jesus points out that His first and most important family consists of all those who do the will of His father. They all are closer to Him than His own mother and brothers would be if they did not believe and obey. God’s family is our first and most important family. It turns out that the water of baptism is in fact thicker than blood.

Everyone supposedly wants all of us to remember “the reason for the season” but I don’t think a lot of them understand the Reason as well as they think they do. If we are celebrating Christmas because of Jesus’ incarnation then we are acknowledging that His coming and His life, death, resurrection, ascension, and reign are the most important things in the world. Nothing is more important that what God has done in and through His Son. And how has God told us chiefly to commemorate His Son’s coming, life, and work?

It’s NOT to be done by forsaking public worship of His Son so that you can spend time with your private family. My first family is not the Wilkins. My first family is not the Hilburns or the Pages or the Thompsons. My first and most important family is my baptismal family and our lives and schedules must reflect this by making worship a priority for the Wilkinses, and the Pages, and the Thompsons, and Hilburns and every other family. Public worship is “family time.”

Don’t make rules for your family that contradict the rules Jesus makes for us. Worship is the most important thing we do for our individual families. The best thing you can ever do for your children is to teach them that there is nothing, nothing, more important than worshiping God with His people on Sunday. If they learn this lesson, your family will be mightily blessed — and they will be blessed because they have learned that our individual families are secondary to the Family of God.

Don’t forsake the worship in some mistaken idea that doing so will help your family more than attending worship with God’s family. It’s just not so.

So, I’ll look forward to seeing you this Sunday.

And, may the Lord grant to you a most merry Christmas!

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