Sing Congregation! Sing!!

In Christ Alone

There are many reasons to be excited about attending church on Sunday and one of those is participating in worship with a congregation that sings!

Music has always been a major part of my life.  My mother played the piano for nearly 75 years.  My dad loved to sing.  I cut my musical teeth on children’s records and long-play albums.  The sounds of Jack Holcomb, Helen Barth, Doug Oldam, 16 Singing Men, and many others filled our home every day.  We even had a membership with Word Record Company and received monthly sacred albums.

My mom would play the piano in church and Dad would lead the singing.  I vividly remember as a little boy that small congregation along the river in Dart, Ohio, singing their hearts out to such songs as “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder,” “Hear Ye the Master’s Call,” and many, many others.

Believe it or not, the first time I led singing in church was at the age of 12, and I led my first choir at the age of 14.

Some of my fondest memories of music are also connected with a packed out Lodge at The Wilds Camp and Conference Center as a teen singing those great camp songs!  Also, how blessed to have attended many, many Southern Gospel concerts with my father-in-law, my wife and our daughters who are musicians.

How absolutely grateful I am that God created music!!  Even more, how awesome it is to sing with other believers on Sunday who are gathered in the presence of God, our Heavenly Father, lifting their voices in praise and heartfelt melodies!!

This past Sunday, as I stood at the front row of the auditorium, I could hear the congregation singing behind me.  Having led singing for many years in our church, I could only imagine their countenances as they sang, “Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone,” “Come, Christians Join to Sing,” and a new song we are learning, “Jesus, the Son of God.”  Many, many times when our congregation sings, I think, “This has to be a foretaste of Heaven!!”

May I encourage you to serve the Lord, to worship the Lord, and minister to all those around you this Sunday by lifting your voice in praise!  Ask your worship leader ahead of time what songs will be sung so you can sing them with your family during the week before the Sunday worship gathering.  Use those songs in your personal daily meeting time with God in His Word and prayer.  Come prepared to Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name  (Psalm 30:4)

Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! (Psalm 47:6)

Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious. (Psalm 66:2)

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. (Psalm 95:1)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)

Motion Songs, Scripture Memory & Joy-Filled Believers

kids_at_church

Last night in prayer meeting, we shared in a family-friendly service.  After singing a couple of gospel songs, one by request, we had the kids up front leading the singing of some good, old children’s songs, two of which had motions.  It was fun to look back at the adults who were doing the motions as well, especially on singing “Only a Boy Named David.”

After singing “Boys and Girls for Jesus” we took prayer requests for the unsaved.  How precious to hear these children and adults mention their loved ones, friends, and neighbors’ names.  We then broke up into small groups with adults and children praying out loud for the lost.  How sweet to hold a 4 year old boy in my lap as he prayed in his own precious way, and it was not a short prayer either.

When we gathered back together, we sang the old gospel song, “I Love to Tell the Story.”

I’ve challenged our congregation to memorize Ephesians 4:1-16 over the next two months.  Hence, we then worked on 4:1-3 as a family or in small groups.  The drill was to say 4:1-3 five times aloud in unison as a group.  Then, one person in each group would take the lead in saying the passage leaving out words for the rest of the group to fill in.  This was a blast!  The laughter and joy of memorizing Scripture was so cool!  Then some of folks stood and recited 4:1-3 which was followed by encouraging applause.

We then took Ephesians 4:1 and broke it down word-for-word learning the meaning and the application.  How cool to watch everyone search through Ephesians 1-3 to find what Paul meant when he said in 4:1 to walk worthy of the vocation to which you are called.  The kids did a great job with their answers straight from Scripture.

What a precious time we had as a church family in community last night.

The ice cream treat with my wife and the sunset afterwards was an added blessing, too!

From a pastor’s heart,

Dale

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

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Life is all about the grace of God.  We do not deserve anything except hell because of our sinful state.  But in His grace, God has provided salvation for all men (John 1:12; 3:16; Ephesians 2:1-4, 8-9; Titus 3:5).  Then, in and through His grace, He provides so many undeserving gifts everyday of our lives (John 1:16-17; Ephesians 2:4-7).  How easy it is to dwell on all the bad around us that we forget to focus on the grace of God which is transcendent over all (Romans 5:20).  So with that in mind, my goal for Friday’s blog is to share with you from a pastor’s heart some of the “grace coupons” in ministry that I’ve been able to “clip” over the past seven days. So here we go!

  1. Worshipping on Sunday at Boones Creek Bible Church! One of the many true blessings of a Sunday at BCBC is joining with our congregation as they sing.  With raised voices, uplifted hands and glowing countenances, praise is abundant!  Many Sunday mornings on my way to church I find myself saying, “I can hardly wait to sing with my brothers and sisters in Christ today!”   Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16).
  2. Seeing ladies cry out in prayer, singing, and worship as they joined together for three hours in the presence of the Lord at BCBC. You can read a bit more about it on my wife’s blog post Friday Favorites.
  3. When I was an earlier teen, my dad pastored a church here in south Johnson City, TN. Words cannot describe what a grace blessing it is to be living and pastoring in the same area that has always been so special to me.  When we moved here from Bluefield, West Virginia, two men, Stacey Tester and Ralph Gouge, came from Johnson City to assist us.  They made a huge impression on me.  Stacey and Ralph have since gone on to Glory, but today, I have the privilege of participating in the funeral for Dixie Gouge, Ralph’s precious wife.  Furthermore, Ralph and Dixie’s daughter and three of their children are part of the BCBC family.  Also, I saw Ralph and Dixie’s son this week which was the first time since we moved away.  As we sat in the Gouge’s living room and reminisced about our time here and about my parents, I thought, “Lord, how good you are to me, and how good to be still connected to my dad’s ministry in such a blessed way!”
  4. Joy in ministry is often mixed with sadness and sorrow as even mentioned above. Yesterday I stood by the bedside of a dear man whose body is riddled with Alzheimer’s. His wife has faithfully stood by his side and cared for him with love and great compassion for several years.  With Bernice on one side and me on the other, we shared Psalm 23 and then sang several songs:  In the Sweet By and By, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, Heaven Is a Wonderful Place, Until Then, I Have Found a Hiding Place, and others.  As a pastor, I am so grateful for the opportunity to minister the balm of God’s Word and the blessed encouragement of song that gives encouragement for today and expectation for the future.  It is all by His grace!
  5. Finally, there’s the blessing of preaching and teaching the Word of God!! Currently, I am preaching through Revelation . . . the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  How timely; how sobering; how hope-filled!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ . . . . To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.  (Ephesians 1:3, 6)

This-N-That

“Throwback Thursdays” come with an array of pictures and memories.  Yesterday while preparing for our study in Matthew 6 for Prayer Meeting and for this Sunday’s message, I played a Youtube mix of one of my favorite singing groups from the early 80’s, the Cathedral’s and Legacy Five.  To say that “I had  church” here at my desk would be an understatement!  As the truths of God’s Word worked in my heart coupled with the lyrics and memories from the songs, various emotions came out.  I was reminded of how God’s Word and these songs were precious to me in various trials and times of rejoicing.  Also, what some of these men have meant to me and my family in years gone by and continue to do so today.

Two songs that are linked below reminds us of the cry of our heart and the blessing of God’s nearness when we are faced with cancer, death, hardships, questions, heartache and tears. They were written by Roger Bennett who sings them. He battled leukemia from 1995 until the Lord took him Home to Glory on March 17, 2007.  You will notice in the second video the toll that cancer had taken on Roger’s body.

I trust that today’s simple blog post will be a blessing to you as you realize that in the midst of life’s storms, God will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5-6), and He does speak to us in the night seasons (Job 35:10; Psalm 42:80).

What God Whispers in the Night

Stay Close to Me

Tidings of Great Joy To All People!

Irun Town Square (2)

Christmas is a glorious time of the year here in the States to hear the celebrated proclamation of Christ’s coming to earth to be born to die and to rise again (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Philippians 2:6-8).  How interesting and blessed to enter into a secular arena (store, restaurant) and hear the songs of Christ’s incarnation and redemption as well as in local churches throughout our land.  Even though, sadly, America becomes more and more pagan and agnostic, the message of great joy which shall be to all people (Luke 2:10) is given during this season.

While in Spain, I met Iñaki,  who doesn’t wait for just the yuletide season to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ.  Every first and third Saturday, he, along with others, sets up a booth (pictured above) in the town square of Irun, a city of the Bidasoaldea region in the province of Gipuzkoa in the Basque Community.  Without shame or fear, Iñaki hands out tracts and booklets as well as personally shares the liberating, reconciling truth of salvation for sinful men through Christ alone.  His enthusiasm and commitment to announce the Good News is “off the charts” and contagious (Mark 16:15; Romans 1:16). Obviously, I could not understand him, but communicated with him through a faithful translator. I say that to say this, that if I had never understood a word, I would have fully grasped his passion via his countenance, tears, gestures, and pointing to the picture on the wall.  To say Iñaki was animated about it would be an understatement.  The disappointment was all over him because the Saturday before, rain prohibited him from his passion, but the anticipation of the next Saturday had already eclipsed the regret knowing that it is all in God’s hands anyway.

Inaki Moreno

In the spirit of this season, let’s unwrap the gift that is in us, this treasure in earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:5-7), and let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).  Perhaps the Lord has not led you to set up a booth in the town square, but the whole world is out there for you to proclaim the tidings of great joy!   Just as you sing without fear “Joy to the World” or “O, Come All Ye Faithful,” speak to others about this marvelous gift of grace, a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Good, Pleasant & Fitting

Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting (Psalm 147:1).

Psalms 146-150 are known as a Hallel (praise) collection of descriptive praise hymns.  These psalms were used daily in prayer and worship within the synagogue.  This particular psalm begins with a familiar tune (Psalms 104:35; 106:1; 113-118; 146:1) which is a call to praise God in song.

Music, a divine creation, is an awesome way to express grateful praise to our God!  In this passage we we learn that praise to God in song is:

Good because it is to God; it draws the heart from earth to heaven; and it declares the character of God.

Pleasant because God is pleased to hear it; the words agree with Who God is; and it always agrees with the heart of a born again believer.

Fitting because we were made to praise the Lord!

What a joy to gather with the saints of God on a Sunday morning or evening in congregational praise!  There is something special and awe-inspiring to sing a text that pulls the truth from your heart through your lips in praise and adoration of our God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Today, whether you are alone in the car, with your family at devotion time or gathered with believers in your small group or in assembly at church, Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting!!

Nothing Ever Can, Nothing Ever Will – This has become one of our favorites at BCBC since June 2014.  The song begins 1:10 into the video.  What a joy to be in the audience on that Sunday night in Lancaster, CA, to hear it for the first time!  Awesome truth, awesome song!!

A Glorious Sunday Morning!

My hope is in the Lord,

Who gave Himself for me,

And paid the price

Of all my sin at Calvary.

Chorus:

For me He died;

For me He lives,

And everlasting life

And light He freely gives.”

This was the first song we sang as a congregation yesterday morning.  Having been out of church for the past two Sundays (Chronicled in last week’s posts), my heart rejoiced as we declared our faith in the cross work of Jesus Christ!  (Romans 3:21-25; 5:6-11; Colossians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:18-19)

Next, we declared our position in Christ as complete because He has done all that is necessary for a sinner to be delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of light (John 19:30; Colossians 1:12-14).

Complete in Thee! no work of mine

May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And I am now complete in Thee.

Chorus:

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!

And sanctified! Salvation wrought!

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And glorified, I too, shall be!

We concluded our congregational singing with “His Robes for Mine.” The lyrics of this hymn describe the exchange that takes place when in my sinful state, by faith I receive Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), the Righteous One (1 John 2:1), and for all eternity my standing before God is that I am accepted (Ephesians 1:6), clothed in Christ’s righteousness (Romans 3:23-26; 5:9-11; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!

Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage.

Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.

In Christ I live, for in my place He died.

Chorus:

I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost:

Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.

Bought by such love, my life is not my own.

My praise-my all-shall be for Christ alone.

What caused such rejoicing in my heart was threefold:

  1. The doctrine in the lyrics resonated in my own heart because I know Christ as my very own personal, Lord and Savior (John 1:12; 3:16; Romans 10:9-13; 2 Timothy 1:12).
  2. There is something special about corporate worship that cannot be duplicated in the world (Psalm 100; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12), especially through doctrinal hymns and songs.
  3. The preparation of my own heart before coming to church. As I sat in the quiet of our family room, the sun pouring in, I read Psalm 147 and especially these words recorded in verses 1, 7a:

Praise the Lord!

For it is good to sing praises to our God;

For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;

Yes, it was glorious Sunday morning of worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24), and in anticipation of what it will be like for all eternity.  What a glorious forever day that will be!!

Friday’s Findings

Modeled Words of WisdomWhat words of wisdom do your children see in your marriage?

20 Ways to Be Refreshing in the Local Church – “Try some of these on for size” this Sunday!  You’ll see they fit because they are biblically practical.  What awesome services we will have this Sunday!

Bible Study StrugglesHere’s some sound, practical advice from Paul Tripp if your daily Bible study has gotten into a rut.  This is an excellent post!

He Loves MeFour of my favorites singing a simple truth to encourage your heart today.

Bluegrass & the Gospel: Makes People Grin

 

Every once-in-awhile, I am blessed to have a guest blogger from right here in the mountains of East Tennessee. Wayne is a simple man born and bred in the Boones Creek area. His love for Christ and others is infectious. He grew up hard, but the grace of God continues to mold and shape him into Christlikeness. His viewpoint on life is biblical and full of plain ol’ common sense. So, with joy I share with you today a recent writing of his. Besides, I have a genuine love for bluegrass, too!

Did you happen to see the video of Earl Scruggs and Friends. Not only was there some great pickin”, there’s a lesson to learn. As the video took us through the door into the midst of some very talented musicians, we immediately picked up on the toe-tappin“, hand-clappin” tune of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”. If you could see the sheet music, you would note that each musician was seeing five lines and four spaces with matching notes to the old familiar tune. Granted, there was a considerable amount of talented liberty taken by each individual, but each was following the fundamental notes, the original standard, the very foundation of this song penned by Earl Scruggs. Now, as the music progressed, did you find yourself, pattin” your foot, maybe tappin” the table with your fingers. I know you grinned, no-one can listen to that and not grin…So, what made it so special. It was the individual musician. Their zest for the moment, their excitement, their pure enjoyment of playing the fundamental song their own special way.

Let us take a lesson from that. We have the fundamental, original standard, the foundation, the absolute truth of the Word of God. What we must learn is to present it with zest, excitement, enjoyment in our own unique way to all who will allow us to do so. Ponder on that a while and look for ways to make people grin.

Earl Scruggs and Friends