Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Living with Thanks

One of my favorite hymns of the Lenten/Easter season. is To God Be The Glory. The melody is written with such joy, and the lyrics are so true, that it just lifts me up every time. Glory be to God for his great gift to us, and let the words we sing truly be a blessing to Him.

I can't remember the last time I actually got to sing that song. Perhaps last year at this time? I don't know. I hope we have a chance to sing it this year... If not, I'll be singing here at home at any rate.

Songs are one of the greatest ways we can give praise to the Lord. Even if you aren't what most people would consider a great singer, or even a mediocre one, it's ok. I'm fairly certain the Lord does not take into account the tone and key of your praises if offered in genuine faith and God-glorifying ways. (Of course this isn't to disparage good singers - they have the responsibility and privilege of blessing both God and others through their talent.)

But as someone who falls into the not quite good category, I find comfort in the fact that my only audience is God. And my kids, who have yet to complain and often ask for more. 

Why are people so scared to sing in front of others when it's a hymn or song of worship? I find it's usually, but not by any means always, the guys who are more nervous and apt to mutter their way through a song that is bursting with joy. Not sure if there are any fellas out there who read this, but if there are, could help a sister out? Or, sister types who may share in the timid singing, feel free to help out too. Because I know some people who are really, really bad at singing (not to name names, but let's just say I've known a great man who is a terrible singer for going on 28 years now), but they still belt it out. Perhaps it's just getting to a place where you are more comfortable with God than with others around you.

I know that I struggle with praying out loud in front of others, so perhaps it's the same feeling? In my case, though, I know it's about the words I have to say. When I can read aloud a prayer from Valley of Vision, I'm ok, but praying on the spot can make me nervous. With hymns, the words are there for you. But I suppose it's still that feeling of messing up? I don't know.

I love corporate worship. It's one of the things the church should be about. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. I believe it. We should be singing the Doxology all the time in our hearts. Praising and thanking the God from whom all blessings flow; perhaps rotating the Doxology with the Gloria Patri.

Maybe it's because I started out my Christian faith in a Presbyterian church that sang the Gloria Patri every week, along with reciting Apostle's Creed, but I find we don't sing/say them enough. In fact, I went from using these every week, to a church where we said them often, but not each week, to a church where they are never spoken at all. I have to admit I find that kind of strange. It seems like a good idea to corporately say, "This is what we believe" - to remind ourselves of this. Now, I don't think we need to go all high order or anything and recite them every week, that becomes too rote for most people. I keep meaning to ask my pastor's why our church doesn't ever use them at all. Is there some great secret about them? I don't know.

Anyway... All this to say, we should consistently have a song in our heart, offering praise to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, without whom we would have nothing, and be nothing.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

And we're back!

Is over a month long enough between blog posts? Yes, I believe it is.

The race has come and gone. I did much better than I anticipated - nabbing a time of 22:53. It must have been ordained because my race number was 222. Overall, I'm very pleased with how I did, particularly considering my training for the previous month had been rather slack. With traveling to northern climes, sickness making its rounds again and again through our small family, Dan's long hours at work and my general laziness, I went in rather nervous on Saturday. It was obvious to me I'd finish, but how well I would do was not entirely clear to me. But my gracious Heavenly Father provided perfect running weather - cool and overcast. This may seem an odd description of perfect running weather, but I tell you it is - no sun to be in your eyes, cool so you don't overheat (as running really does make you warm enough), but not so cold that your lungs freeze (this is important. I promise).

One interesting thing was trying to pace myself amongst this huge crowd of people. According to the website, there were 1556 people that finished the race. You can imagine how it felt just before the air horn sounded the start - all of us crowded onto the street in less than one city block, moving to keep warm and glancing around or talking to friends. I felt kind of awkward being alone, but one the air horn sounded, it was fine. I was in my own world. Eventually, I settled into a groove where I was comfortable - mixing running with fast walking - and I began to notice the people around me. One person I noticed was a girl who I think was about my age, and to be honest, seemed about my skill level. I used her to pace myself, and I could tell she was probably doing the same. We'd pass each other often, usually walking and running in similar intervals. Essentially, I used a total stranger to spur me on when I had no one else (Dan and Ainsley were great cheerleaders at the finish line, but that was 20 minutes away). 

If I'm able to feel that encouragement from a stranger in a stressful situation, imagine the encouragement we garner from our friends!

There's a blog post that I have been working on for a month now. While I was home with my parents, I was able to attend their church. It's pastored by my former youth pastor, who I love dearly and have always found to be one of the best speakers I've ever heard. The week I was there, he spoke on the ten lepers healed by Jesus, and how only one returned to offer thanksgiving. You can listen here: http://ctknj.wordpress.com/ctk-blog/sermons-2009/ (it's the sermon from 2/21). It really resonated with other thoughts I'd already been trying to process, and post on here, but life got in the way and this blog became back burner charcoal. So in the meantime, listen to it, and then I'll be back with thoughts!