By Steve Lorentz
Singing 'better' in worship doesn't mean that our worship is 'better'. God looks at the heart of a singer and not how gifted or how musical a singer is. That being said, God wants us to give our very best in our efforts in worship as individuals in His church. Congregational singing is an opportunity for Christians to share together spiritual topics such as hope, faith and praise among other things.
Teaching, prayer, and singing all inspire us and that strengthens the church as a whole. I am always inspired when Adam Kitt visits us because I can hear his part and feel his presence. When he sings the whole congregation sounds more complete.
On the last Wednesday in January, we will temporarily have our singing in sections.
Goals and Objectives for Sitting in Sections
To hear ourselves better and be more confident on our parts.
To listen to each other more and balance the four parts of the congregation soprano, alto (female high and low voices) tenor and bass (male high and low voices). If one section has more singers than another, they need to be aware that they are not overpowering too much. It is like talking too loud and not listening. The opposite of this is when a section has few singers, they need to sing louder and not timid so they can be heard and balanced into the group.
The balance naturally falters when everyone sings the melody and the other parts have much less singers.
To realize that certain parts at different times are carrying the melody (a pleasing series of musical notes that form the main part of a song or piece of music) and that certain sections are the accompaniment (something that is added to another thing to make it better or more appealing).
Therefore, when a section has the melody they need to sing out so it is more prominent than the accompaniment and the accompaniment needs to support the melody and not overpower.
I think that if we can begin to apply some of these ideas, our congregational singing will be engaging and more meaningful to the whole group.
No Christian would say that he wants to just be a "so-so" servant of God. Rather, because we take our spiritual service seriously, we want to be strong men and women of God. In Paul's letter to the saints in Corinth, he used three powerful and descriptive words or qualities for which we should all aspire to attain. The apostle wrote, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (I Corinthians 15:58).
First, strong Christians are steadfast Christians. Paul is the only Bible writer to use the word and he used it three times in the course of two of his letters. Elsewhere in the New Testament, the word is translated as "settled" which seems appropriate as a related root word is "sedentary." In Galatians 1:6, Paul criticized those early Christians for turning away from the gospel's message so quickly and easily. And in his letter to the church in Ephesus, he wrote that believers shouldn't be "tossed to and fro" by the false doctrines that so often arise in arguments for change (Ephesians 4:14). Instead, believers are to be settled, calm, and closely identified with the simple, unchanging doctrine of our Lord.
Second, strong Christians are immovable Christians. In making this point, Paul is not suggesting that we be stubborn or unwilling to listen to others. Instead, Paul uses this word (the only time in the Bible) to signify that saints are to be persistent in their belief of God and to refuse to change from what He has commanded. Of course, this may mean that others in the world would perceive us as old-fashioned or even intransient, but it's not for us to change God's plans or to take liberty with His commands.
Finally, the inspired writer tells us that we are to be "always abounding" in the Lord's work. This phrase carries with it the notion of "excess" or "overflowing." Paul wanted the first century Christians to not "do enough" to "get by" spiritually but instead to fully adopt their lives as servants of the only God and to completely dedicate their lives to His cause. The same is true for us 2,000 years later. In our prayer life, we should want to pray more. In our dedication to our brethren, we should want to do more. And in our obedience to the will of our Father, we should desire to be more and more pleasing to Him.
As we live in service to our God, let us never be "satisfied" with "so-so" obedience or being "average" Christians. Instead, let's consider the timeless admonition of God's word and work to develop these three wonderful qualities.
By Don Case
On November 12, our congregation lost Rich Martin. Some of our members knew him for a few decades and will always remember him and his dedication. Many of you will remember the years Rich spend as a deacon, elder and often as a spiritual advisor to so many. His dedication to this congregation was unprecedented. Earlier as an elder, he found it most difficult to see members fall away or follow some other doctrine. He never stopped trying to keep Christians spiritually strong and following the biblical pattern.
I spent a lot of time with Rich during the last two years but it became increasingly hard to watch him struggle in severe pain. I found it difficult to remove his number from my phone as I realized I could no longer be of any help to him. I gained a lot from our hours together, he was always inspiring and expressed his dedication to this church.
Someday Everything Will Be Clear
We grieved as a congregation of Rich's friends. We tried to find understanding, comfort and hope in this loss. There were moments of despair and grief when we tried to understand how God functions in our lives. Often during grief we do not have answers to many of our questions. Just because we do not know answers to some questions does not mean we have a reason to give up our faith and trust in God. Suffering does not mean God does not care or God does not exist. When we do not have a full understanding of issues does not mean our faith is any less, it is the basis of our faith. There is so much we do not understand during a period of grief but it is this which we must build our faith and trust in God.
Grief has a potential to destroy us. It can separate us from those around us and can leave us alone and disconnected. It also has the potential to bring people together for mutual support, care, and love. Our grief should bring us closer to God. We should also allow it to bring us closer to the ones we love.
"...we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Romans 5:3-5).
"Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted."
By Josh Webber
You might stay stressed and tired and hungry. Reasonably so. Trying to balance all of life's demands is exhausting. And it leaves you spiritually exposed. Satan chooses these times of weakness to intensify temptation. You may be more susceptible to anger, sins of the tongue, or sexual temptation. When Jesus met temptation in the wilderness, He was hungry, isolated and tired, but He fortified His heart against physical and emotional fatigue. He equipped Himself with the word of God and braced Himself for His time of greatest vulnerability.
It also makes you spiritually distracted. The disciples were exhausted. They had been so busy they had not even been able to eat. Jesus invited them to "Come away to a secluded place and rest" on the other side of the lake. But they found the crowds instead! Jesus was moved with compassion and received the people. Finally, the disciples requested, "Send them away." They ignored the spiritual opportunity, because they were so focused on themselves.
Jesus used this opportunity to encourage His disciples to serve. Even when it seems most necessary to focus on yourself, God may call you to feed the five thousand.
Try not to be stressed or tired or hungry. But if you find yourself in that state, be on guard for the spiritual dangers.
Verses Cited: Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 6:30-44
(See also II Corinthians 12:9 and Galatians 6:9)
Men Who Preach...
Our good brother Josh Webber not only wrote today's article but will preach this morning and this evening. As members of the church at Santee, we're excited that men who dedicate their lives to preach the gospel include our brother Josh. The work a preacher does is a labor of love and we appreciate Josh's talents and desire to be of service to our God. We thank God for all who stand for the truth and wish to always be dedicated to His great cause.
Our good brother Don Case has written many good articles throughout 2013 and we appreciate his efforts. His closing words of 2013 are very fitting, noting that it's only in serving others that we find real purpose and meaning in life. Paul wrote that we are to, “esteem others better" than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Doing so not only means that we're obedient to God's law but that we can more fully realize the purpose and meaning of life which has little to do with ourselves and everything to do with service to our fellow man so that God is continually highlighted. Let us continually seek to find purpose and meaning in our lives by putting God and service to Him as the focus of who we are.