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Lines by Lee

Make An Honest Noise


September 12, 2019

Singing in church is an interesting thing. Some people feel that when one sings in church that they are worshipping. That should be the case, but it is a matter of the heart. Others think that singing is really the only way to worship God. They forget that prayer and giving and offering your life in service to God are also acts of worship. Some people chose a church in large part based on the music that the church typically is known for. Hymns are beloved by many, but it is not easy to find a thriving church that only does hymns. I love contemporary music but long for the classic church songs – of the '70s and '80s. It seems to me we are missing out by not still using hymns written decades and even centuries ago. I also wonder what opponents of modern worship music do with verses that tell us to sing to the Lord a new song (Psalm 96:1; 98:1).

Growing up, I remember my Mother heartily singing with a beautiful voice. She enjoyed being in the choir (remember those?). Dad, on the other hand, could be seen slightly moving his lips, but I am not convinced any audible sounds were ever heard (except for occasionally snoring during a sermon). My older brother has done solos and sang in groups at church for decades. My other brother works the sound system which I think gets him off the proverbial hook for actually singing. I am somewhere in between. One of my sons sings his heart out. The other has a nice voice but follows after my Dad.

In Psalm 66:1 we are told to make a joyful noise or shout to the Lord. A lot of off-key singers quote that verse acknowledging that their heart is in the right place even if they can't hit the right notes. The Psalms are all songs and they take up many pages of the Bible. In various places in Scripture God's people are told to sing to the Lord in praise and gratitude. It makes sense to do that because it helps us to remember who God is and what He is like. I never understood folks in church week after week who look so grumpy when it is time to sing. Some won't sing at all!

Church music is written from two basic perspectives. Some songs are written about God. We can worship as we sing of the truths of God the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. Other songs are written to be song to God. It may seem weird but when I sang at church camp or retreats I would take off my hat on songs that were talking to God. They seemed like prayers to me. They were more personal. Change my heart, oh God. Make it ever true. Change my heart, oh God. May I be like you. Good tune. Better prayer.

One concern I have personally had with Christian music and singing in church is my ability to sing truthfully. When I pray, they are my thoughts and words. But when a person sings, they are usually expressing words which someone else came up with. Some songs are easy to sing the lyrics with honesty...God is so good; He answers prayer; Amazing grace, how sweet the sound; I once was lost but now am found; Thou art worthy; Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so; Great is Thy faithfulness; Give thanks with a grateful heart; I'm so glad you're in my life; I'm so glad you came to save us.

But now and then, whether singing as I cut grass or joining others in church, I stop singing because I am not sure if I can honestly say a lyric. All to Jesus I surrender. All to Him I freely give. Assuming that all means everything I am not being honest if I belt out those words. Do I have to surrender my eating habits, how I spend money, and thought life? Worldly pleasures all forsaken...There is that word "all" again. I have surrendered some. I have given at times. But that is not a song I can often sing with honesty.

Where you go I'll go; where you stay I'll stay; when you move I'll move; I will follow. I really like that song. The sentiment is excellent. It reflects how I want to be a follower of Christ. I want to make Jesus my Lord. Yet, if I am being truthful I do not always follow as I should. I cannot say who you love I'll love; how you serve I'll serve. It is a commitment. I have to be honest.

Take my voice and let me sing, always only for my King. Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee. Take my silver and my gold. Not a mite would I withhold. Take my intellect and use every power as You choose. Here we go again! I have not withheld a mite, but I might have withheld a few dollars. My lips are not always filled with what would please God.

Those are just a few examples of wonderful songs that are so challenging that they make me stop in my (sound) tracks. Sometimes instead of singing I talk to the Lord about what has to change in my life so I really can surrender all. If Jesus is all the world to me and all I want and all I've ever needed then my life should reflect that more consistently. I better be honest and not just sing truth, but live it!


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