Being Teachable

In the midst of such a challenging year as 2020 has turned out to be, we can grow weary and think things are just too big for us to handle. And, for the most part, they are. And that’s exactly the time we need to be encouraged and reminded that it is God, and not us, who is in control.

In a message (sermon notes) published on July 21, 2019, titled, Psalm 86: A Humble, Confident Cry for Help,” by Matthew Breeden, Elder and Teaching Pastor at Southern Hills Baptist Church, he states:

When People are Big and God is Smallis the title of a book that I read many years ago but that I still think of often. The premise of the book is that we are prone to giving more weight to what other people say rather than to what God says. In our thoughts we make people big and God small.

In a similar way many of us are guilty of seeing our situations and thinking they are too big or too complicated while at the same time minimizing the power and care of God. We are guilty of believing that our situations are big and God is small.

In Psalm 86 we see a prayer of a man who has a proper perspective. While he finds himself in a difficult situation he remains confident that God hears and is able to save him. He’s sure that even though his situation is dire, his God is bigger and desires to show mercy to those whom He loves.

A common feature in ancient literature is the use of structure to highlight a main idea. In Psalm 86 David uses a distinct structure to show what’s central to his thinking. While the psalm starts and ends with references to his situation and his requests for salvation, the center sections of the psalm are completely focused on God and David’s devotion to God.

This structure reveals David’s heart. He certainly wants to be saved from trouble (this is made clear in vv. 1-7 and 14-17) but above all He emphasizes the character of God (vv. 8-10) and his own devotion to God (vv. 11-13). The situation is difficult but He is confident in His God.

David’s Request: A Humble Plea to the God who Hears His People (86:1-7) 

  • David believes that God hears and answers prayers – In vv. 1-7 there are 8 prayer requests. At first read it may seem like David is trying to persuade God, but in fact these verses reveal David’s humble confidence in God. He is praying to God with confidence that He hears and responds. 
  • David appeals to God based on their relationship – Throughout this section David emphasizes his relationship to God as His servant. He doesn’t see God as a distant unreachable figure, but as his Lord who will care for those who are His own.
  • David is sure of the ways God relates to His people – In verse 5 David recounts the ways God relates to His people: God is good and forgiving and faithful in love.

David’s Praise: An Expression of Trust and Confidence in God’s Character (86:8-10)

  • If we read verses 8-10 in isolation from the rest of the psalm it sounds like it would be part of a psalm of praise. It’s remarkable to remember that this is included in a prayer for salvation as David is running for his life. But what’s clear is that David understands the “bigness” of God and trusts that God can save him from any situation.
  • Application: How quick are you to remember the truth of who God is in the midst of a difficult time? How dialed in are you to the truth when you are going to God in prayer? Do you tend to focus on the enormity of struggle rather than on the ‘bigness’ of God?When we are really conscious of who God is then it should enable us to pray with boldness.

David’s Devotion: A Humble Commitment to Obedience and Worship (86:11-13)

  • Without the context vs. 9 may seem somewhat ordinary, but the fact that this is included in prayer for salvation makes it more remarkable. In the middle of a prayer for protection David is asking God to grow Him and to teach Him so that He can walk in the truth.
  • Even in the midst of difficulties David is focused on the character of God and he is poised to give thanks and praise to God–trusting that He will hear and save him. 
  • Application: When life gets hard our spiritual growth and the praise of God may be the furthest things from our minds, but we should want them to be front and center. We should want to love and trust God so much that even in the struggles we are asking Him to hold us close and teach us.

David’s Request Restated: A Humble, Confident Cry for Help (86:14-17)

  • In many ways vv. 14-17 mirror vv. 1-7. Once again we see that while David is crying out for help he is confident in God and His ability to save him. David is also hopeful that God will be praised as others see God’s protection of His servant. (Quote source here.)

In an article published on BeliefNet.com, titled, 5 Things Every Christian Should Know About Psalm 86: There’s More to David’s Prayer Than You Think,” by Angela Guzman, Writer at Large for BeliefNet, she writes:

Psalm 86 is a prayer of David. Before we look at what is said, let’s revisit the scripture.

Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.

Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God;

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long.

Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.

Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy.

When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.

Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.

All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name.

For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.

Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.

Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God; ruthless people are trying to kill me–they have no regard for you.

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother I did.

Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

It’s thought that Psalm 86 was not penned upon any particular occasion, but was a prayer that David himself often used. It’s also presumed that he often recommended the prayer to others that were battling an affliction within their lives. After re-reading the psalm, it’s evident that the language is very plain and lacks any poetic flights or figures in comparison to other psalms.

David is very passionate with his words and at times can sound somewhat preachy; however, when someone is driven by their faith, sometimes passion can be misconstrued as being overly preachy. This passion and desire for real resolution and understanding is visible through David’s pleads. He pleads his relation to God and interest to him; he pleads his distress, he pleads God’s good will towards all that seek Him, and he pleads God’s good work in himself, by which is qualified.

The elements to keep in mind and take a deeper look at include:

Label of David

Psalm 86 is a very in-depth lesson on prayer. Interestingly enough, Psalm 86 is Book three of the Psalter and is the only one labeled as written by David. Many readers will say that this indicates that it’s not an original psalm. Instead the psalm pieces together verses and phrases from other psalms and scriptures, which causes people to believe that David didn’t actually write it himself.

Timing

It’s impossible to put a specific time in David’s life for this prayer because there are too many possible points where this connects with his overall circumstances. In addition, David calls God “Adonai,” master, seven times.

15 Requests

In Psalm 86 you’ll find a man who puts his faith in God while crying out desperately. The psalm is filled with 15 requests—some of them are repetitive. All in all, the requests break down into four sections. In 86:1-7, David cries out in great need for God to hear and act on his behalf. In 86:8-10 there is a deliberate request of praise when David declares God as the only true God—the Lord of the nations. Then in 86:11-13, David asks for God to teach him and unite his heart to fear God so that he can glorify Him forever. And then finally in 86:14-17, David appeals to God’s mercy and grace to deliver him.

The Lesson

The ultimate lesson and bigger picture that encompasses the entire psalm is, “Our great needs should drive us to pray to the great God, who alone can deliver us.” God is the only one who has control over the world that we live in. No matter how hard we wish, the Lord is the only one who can really provide us with the strength and hope to get where we yearn to be. Once we all learn to put God first, then everything else will fall into place. All in all, God is the key to everything.

Prayer

From time to time, an individual’s pride can become blinding and get in the way of the reality that God has put into play.

In Psalm 86:14, David mentions the band of arrogant, violent men that are seeking his life. David understands his need and this drives him toward prayer. Psalm 86 helps Christians to recognize their own selfishness and helps to shed light on the bigger picture of relationships within families and the church.

Throughout the entirety of Psalm 86, David gives glory to God. He praises Him throughout the prayer in the most humble and reverent adoration. Throughout everything he never takes away from God’s greatness or infinite greatness. Furthermore, he identifies his infinite goodness as well.

We all need the salvation of the Lord. There are so many trials and tribulations within the world, therefore, it is imperative that we pray to God for mercy and allow Him to help lead us away from potential sins. (Quote source here.)

With so many things going on in America right now to include a very divisive Presidential election taking place in eight weeks from now, may this psalm remind us of how much bigger God is then anything going on in America and the rest of the world, and may it drive us to pray as David prayed in humility and confidence in our great God!

I’ll end this post with the words from Psalm 86:11Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me…

An undivided heart . . .

That I may fear . . .

Your name . . . .

YouTube Video: “Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns:

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Changing Our World

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”Robin Williams (1951-2014), American actor and comedian.

Dr. Jim Denison, CVO of Denison Forum, posted a news article on his news blog, Denison Forum, a few days ago titled, Holocaust survivor honored 75 years after his liberation: How people you don’t know change your world.” He writes:

Max Glauben was liberated from the Holocaust on April 23, 1945. His parents and brother were murdered by the Nazis.

He came to the U.S. as an orphan, served in the US Army, met his wife Frieda, and started a family that now includes three children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He helped launch the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. Since 2005, he has returned to concentration camp sites fourteen times, leading March of the Living trips.

Each time, he goes to a mausoleum that holds seven tons of human ashes and recites a prayer for the dead. “I look at the ashes, the seven tons of ashes, and I wonder how many of the owners of these ashes, how many diseases they could’ve cured,” he says.

Mr. Glauben intended to spend the seventy-fifth anniversary of his liberation back overseas on his fifteenth March of the Living trip. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the trip was canceled.

Last Thursday, he expected to spend the day at home with family but went outside to find an amazing surprise: a drive-by procession was held to celebrate him and his story of survival.

When asked how to move forward when you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, Mr. Glauben said, “Never, never, never, never give up. Enjoy life and try to treat everybody that you are surrounded with the way you’d like to be treated.”

You may not have heard of Max Glauben before today. However, every person he teaches about the atrocities of the Holocaust who then works to confront anti-Semitism will benefit the world as a result of his efforts. (Quote source here.)

In an article published on October 2, 2014 titled, The Golden Rule: Treat others how you want to be treated,” by Georgia Lee, FamilyShare, she writes on the topic Max Glauben stated above when he said, “…try to treat everybody that you are surrounded with the way you’d like to be treated.” Here is what she wrote:

Remember The Golden Rule?

“Treat others how you want to be treated.”

This saying goes far beyond simply being kind to people, or going out of your way to be available or helpful to those in need. Yes, you would want others to assist you in a bind or be pleasant even in an unfavorable circumstance. But there are many ways to create equality in your world that may go completely unnoticed by others. It’s really just about adjusting your views and attitudes.

Instead of just treating others the way you would want to be treated, think about others the way you would want to be thought of. Feel about others the way you would want others to feel about you. Speak to others the way you would want to be spoken to or spoken of.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Focus less on punishing those who cross you or others and choose to guide them into a better frame of mind. Teach them not only the error of their ways, but the error in their thinking. This is not a lesson in condescension, or even conversion, but a way to understand the progression from thought to action. If someone believes he is doing the right thing by trying to control another or become invasive in another’s life, first try to understand how that person feels his actions will get him from a desire to a result. Then, help him evaluate the consequences and perhaps choose a better way to achieve his goals and consider the goals of others. Always be open to seeing the other side as well, you may learn something.

Speak to and of others how you would like to be spoken to, and about. We all talk about other people, but assigning roles to those in our lives and trying to cast a melodrama is unnecessary. (Although it occurs frequently.) Everyone is multifaceted and cannot be fit into the box we would like to crop them into. When you retell a story, make sure to tell the unabridged, objective version, where all the characters have depth and empathy. Do not speak disparagingly about someone just because you disapprove of him.

Feel about others how you would have them feel about you. Holding onto harsh feelings will only harm you and make you hardened to feeling love and compassion. Whether or not you bear responsibility in another’s harsh feelings toward you, knowing these feelings remain is unpleasant. Especially if you feel they are unjust.

Think of others the way you would like to be thought of. Refrain from thinking, or speaking, pityingly of someone — particularly if you feel you are better off than she is. Things may seem disparate, but just as you may feel this way, others may think they are in a better position than you. Thinking of yourself as superior, more or better than another is not a beneficial way of thinking. Given or received. If you would like to help someone you think is less fortunate, do if from love, not pity.

Make an effort to respect even the unrespectable. Find something in a person or experience that was positive or beneficial and focus on that. There are inevitably circumstances in which you were or were made out to be the bad guy, and others made no effort to respect your role in the matter, or went out of their way to demolish your integrity or reputation. Do not follow in the same order, even if you feel it is just or deserved. You do not know what goes on in the mind of another or what motivates another’s actions. All you can do is take responsibility for your response to this situation, and choose to show ultimate compassion and respect when it is hard to find. Not only will this make you a better person, it will show others your true integrity and make it nearly impossible to doubt yours if it is threatened or attacked in the future. It may even redeem it in the past.

I have made a conscious effort to see everyone in my life as equal. I have come across certain people, generally of a particular faith or non-faith, who make clear through their conversations with me, and about others, that they feel a distinct superiority to others who disagree with their ideology. In the conversations I have admittedly had myself, I’ve discovered that I do not appreciate being looking down on, by believers and non-believers alike. So I’ve decided not to look down on anybody, or try to convert anybody to any ideology. I simple sit and talk with people, ask questions, listen to different schools of thought, and share my wisdom as I see fit. I’ve learned to enjoy conversations as a way to connect, instead of using them to push my agenda.

Even the Messiah sat down and ate dinner with the sinners. And if only in your mind, you can do the same. Whether others treat you with kindness and compassion has no bearing on how you treat them. Become the compassion and respect you want to receive. It’s easy for someone to be nasty to you if you’re nasty to them. Don’t give them that chance. Make it hard for people not to see you in the radiant light you portray. Make them work to hate you, disrespect you or be ugly toward you. Make it easy for them to love you, respect you, and see you as the magnificent being you are. (Quote source here.)

Those are some very important suggestions to consider. As we all know, it is hard not to want to be nasty back to people who are nasty to us, especially if we have no idea why they are being nasty. But how many of us today have had to endure what Max Glauben endured and survived during the Holocaust, when his parents and brothers were murdered by the Nazis. So let’s take a look at some ways we can change our world for the better since it really does start with us.

In an article published on July 27, 2017 titled, Nice ways to deal with mean people,” by Amy Sciarretto, writer at TheList.com, she writes:

Dealing with mean people is a fact of life that is often unpleasant and is something many of us would prefer to avoid. These not-so-nice folks can be varying degrees of nasty, ranging from prickly to semi-cranky, to straight up grumpy and ornery in either work, life, or both. Mean people can be passive, aggressive, passive aggressive, or loud, confrontational, and in your face. 

Whatever the case, you have to come up with effective ways to address a personality conflict and to co-exist with a mean person, ultimately preventing them from ruining your day or interfering with your ability to function as a happy, productive human being. 

Here are a variety of nice ways to deal with mean people, that can lessen or diffuse the meanness [Note: Only a few of the ways she lists in her article are listed below. For the complete list click here.]

Swap negativity for positivity

Rather than let someone else’s nastiness consume you, especially after you’ve had an unsavory interaction with them, Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, recommends making a daily gratitude list so that you substitute their negative energy for your own positive thoughts and vibes. Yes, it’s that simple.

Hershenson suggests writing down ten things you are grateful for. “Anything from your family, to legs to walk on, or to reality TV,” she tells me. “Focusing on what is good in your life as opposed to what the mean person said or did today helps relieve anxiety around the situation.” Rattling off positives is a brilliant, easy way to keep the other person’s negativity at bay.

Know when to fold ’em

Mean people can feel endlessly frustrating. Most of the time, they want to get a rise out of you or use their nastiness to leverage themselves. But rather than scream, yell, or stoop to their level, you can make like Kenny Rogers in “The Gambler” and know when to fold ’em. Realize when it’s best to just bail, especially when you know you’re never going to get a resolution. Executive coach Debra Benton says the most simple way of dealing with mean people is, “Smile. Ignore. Walk away. Repeat.” 

This is a low key way to deal with a high stress interaction, but it’s also very effective. You can leave the situation with your head held high and with no shame over how you handled it.

Be the change

One of Ghandi’s most famous sayings is, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” You can apply that sentiment when dealing with nasty people. Rather than being passively kind, you can show that you really do care about what is making this person so unpleasant.

“If you’ve ever encountered a mean salesperson or co-worker, then you know it’s easy to be turned off immediately by their behavior,” says Weena Cullins, M.S., a licensed marriage and family therapist and relationship therapist. “However, taking the time to ask, ‘How’s your day going?’ or ‘Are you okay?’ is an extremely effective way to disarm someone whose bad attitude is currently on autopilot. It’s rare for people to fight meanness with concern, so don’t be surprised if they seem a bit disoriented by your question. Take the time to listen and offer a word of encouragement. You might just turn their mood around.”

Keep your enemies closer

Alison Blackman, author of six books about relationships and communication and who runs a his-and-her advice website, offers a twist on the “keep your friends close, but enemies closer” concept. She tells me, “If someone is a mean person and you can’t avoid them, mirror the opposite of what they are. Be as nice, polite, considerate, and pleasant as you can muster and limit your interaction as much as possible.”

This requires you to go out of your way a little. She finishes, “As much as it makes you want to gag, say something nice about them where it is genuine, like, ‘That’s a beautiful necklace you are wearing’ or ‘I really liked what you said at the meeting today.’ Chances are they will stare with hostility or say something nasty. Smile as if you didn’t hear it. The fact that you weren’t nasty to them will still register somewhere deep in their dark souls.” 

Or maybe, they’ll even realize the errors of their ways, and apologize….

Dealing with mean people is a part of every day life. You have to amend your behavior, walk on eggshells, and try to be considerate of the mean person’s feelings when, oftentimes, you just want to flip them off. But cooler heads prevail. Try kindness. Set boundaries. Attempt to diffuse the situation and make it better. Work to improve your repeated, or even future interactions with a mean person…. (Quote source and complete article is available here.)

Hardly a week (or maybe even a day) goes by that we don’t encounter someone who is being nasty, mean, or confrontational. But don’t give in to their meanness, and, in the words of Max Glauben…

Never, never, never . . .

NEVER . . .

Give up . . . .

YouTube Video: “Miracle” by Unspoken:

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The Singing Revolution

“Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth” Isaiah 42:10 and Psalm 96:1
A couple of days ago the following devotion showed up in Our Daily Bread titled, The Singing Revolution,” by Bill Crowder, Vice President of ministry content at ODB Ministries. It makes for a good “follow-up” post to my last blog post on this blog titled, Singing in the Rain.” Here is what he wrote:

The Singing Revolution

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Psalm 42:1–5

What does it take to ignite a revolution? Guns? Bombs? Guerrilla warfare? In late-1980s Estonia, it took songs. After the people had lived under the burden of Soviet occupation for decades, a movement began with the singing of a series of patriotic songs. These songs birthed the “Singing Revolution,” which played a key role in restoring Estonian independence in 1991. [Information on the Singing Revolution is available at this link].

“This was a non-violent revolution that overthrew a very violent occupation,” says a website describing the movement. “But singing had always been a major unifying force for Estonians while they endured fifty years of Soviet rule.”

Music can also play a significant part in helping us through our own hard times. I wonder if that’s why we so readily identify with the psalms. It was in a dark night of the soul that the psalmist sang, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5). It was in a season of deep disillusionment that Asaph, the worship leader, reminded himself, “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart” (73:1).

In our own challenging times, may we join the psalmists with a singing revolution for our hearts. Such a revolution overwhelms the personal tyranny of despair and confusion with faith-fueled confidence in God’s great love and faithfulness. (Quote source here.)

In an article published on October 9, 2019, titled, 3 Spiritual Benefits of Singing in Church, by Daniel Darling, Vice President of Communications at ERLC, he writes:

Singing in Church Matters

When I was a kid, singing hymns was not an option. The Baptist church we attended had hymns so thoroughly woven into our common life together. From the age of five, I was required to attend adult church services, clad in suit and tie, three times a week. And every service began with at least three, sometimes four hymns. And on Sunday nights, half the service consisted of people picking their favorite hymns.  As a child, you really don’t understand what’s happening when you are singing hymns. I mean sure, you understand “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” But others are hard to get your head around. What’s an Ebenezer, for instance? 

But in my adulthood I’ve come to treasure, so deeply, the way our singing together burrowed God’s truth into the deepest recesses of my heart. And now, those words I sang as a seven-year old on a hot summer night in Chicago or around campfires in northern Minnesota or in Vacation Bible school now speak to me, every day. In fact, I can hardly finish singing a hymn without my lips quivering and my heart full of emotion. When I hear “Jesus keep me near the cross, there a precious fountain, free to all a healing stream, flows from Calvary’s Mountain,” I’m transporting to that dining hall at camp where I first committed my life to Christ. When I’m struggling to see God’s goodness in a difficult season, Fanny Crosby’s words, “Summer, winter, springtime and harvest, sun, moon and stars in their courses above, join with all nature in manifold witness, to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.” When I’m enduring a trial, I always go back to the lyric, “When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds, within the vale.” 

Our singing matters, which is why the Bible is full of rich examples and powerful instruction to the people of God to not only recite and read and study God’s truth but to sing it, over and over again, to each other. The Old Testament contains a rich treasure of hymns in the Psalms and in the New Testament, contains the hymns we read in Colossians and Philippians, contained in letters written by Paul to the church while both church and he were under duress and the great hymns of praise in Revelation, a vision of that great eternal worship in the New Jerusalem. 

Singing, then, is not an accessory to our worship every week. Singing is not filler in a service. Congregational singing is essential to our life with Christ. To the Ephesians, Paul urged them, based on their identity as the new and redeemed people of God, to “sing to yourselves songs, hymns and spiritual songs, making melody in your hearts to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). There are really three important spiritual benefits to congregational singing. 

1. Congregational singing teaches our hearts. 

Humans are created in such a way that repetition and rhythms help cement ideas in our minds. This is why certain song lyrics bring you back to moments in your life or can stir the soul so powerfully. This is why hard facts are often set to music. Educators use song to teach math and science and history. And so it is with our singing. You don’t always have to feel good when you are singing congregationally. Sometimes life is so hard you can barely mouth the words. But something is happening when you sing rich truths about God. It burrows these truths deep into your soul so they can be retrieved when the Spirit knows you need them. God has done this for me so often in the last several years, when I’ve encountered difficult and trying seasons or seasons of doubt and discouragement A lyric, a line, a hymn just brings back the heart prone to wander. 

2. Congregational singing helps us disciple others. 

When we sing we are not just singing to ourselves, but we are joining with our new family, the body of Christ, to each and declare to others the truth. And we are declaring to the world what we believe so strongly. Our singing is a witness. This is why our music shouldn’t be so watered down that it is immediately understandable to those who don’t know Christ. There should be a kind of gospel language that is both different and appealing to those God is pursuing through the Spirit of God. I’ve attended college football games with friends and have watched the unique rituals each school engages in as part of this shared communal bond. As an outsider, their rituals are foreign to me and yet I’m not offended. I’m intrigued. Similarly when I’m at Wrigley Field with tens of thousands of Cub fans, singing “Go, Cubs, Go” after a thrilling win, I get goose bumps. There is something human about it all. And so much for our corporate worship practices. This is why I’m often brought to tears singing a familiar hymn in church. We share something. When we sing about this glorious gospel, we are teaching ourselves, we are teaching our fellow believers and we are witnessing to outsiders.

3. Congregational singing offers praise and worship to the Lord. 

“Singing with your hearts to the Lord,” Paul urges. We are offering back praise to the One who is worthy. In the new covenant, we don’t bring animals to the altar, but we bring ourselves as a sacrifice of praise, rejoicing in our reconciliation to God through Christ. This is why it is imperative for us to always sing in church, regardless of our voice sounds or if it makes us uncomfortable to sing with others. God is not interested in the quality of our voices. Some of us are extraordinarily gifted, gifted enough to be on stage leading with excellence. But most people in the congregation are not great singers, but their heartfelt worship comes to God as a sweet and special music, the sounds of his children abandoning themselves in praise to him. So, next time you are in church, don’t stand there and stare. Sing, praise, let God move in you. The one who gave himself for us is worth embracing the awkwardness of worship. 

When you do this—faithfully attending church and singing with brothers and sisters in Christ over a lifetime—you will see how much God uses this to sanctify your heart and draw you into intimacy with him. You will experience a grace greater than your sin.  (Quote source here.)\

And as if that’s not enough reason to sing, singing also has many physical benefits. In an article published on May 19, 2016, titled, 6 Reasons to Sing Your Heart Out for Health,” by Emily Lockhart, a personal trainer and contributor on ActiveBeat.com, she writes:

Do you sing your heart out whenever a favorite song comes on the radio? Or do you reserve belting out a ditty to the shower or confines of your car? According to Chorus America, a U.S. advocacy, research, and leadership group that promotes signing in choruses, singing has some little known harmonious health benefits. So let’s “do-re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do” over these six singing health perks…

1. Singing Soothes Asthma Symptoms

If you sing, really sing, from your belly, you’re already well aware that singing is a lot easier if you breathe properly. Well, a 2014 review published by the National Institutes of Health touts the many benefits of music therapy, particularly for asthma patients.

The NIH study reveals that the slower, purposeful breaths taken while belting out a tune helps to lessen the symptoms of mild asthma and improve overall lung function.

2. Sing for Better Heart Health

Some might say you put your whole heart into karaoke night, however, it turns out that singing actually has rocking (in a good way) affects on your cardiovascular health. Much akin to yoga, a Swedish study found that singing improves heart function essentially by forcing us to take larger, slower, more purposeful breaths.

The 2013 study, published in the journal, Frontiers in Psychology, found that choral singers had slower respiration, which in turn improved their heart rate variability (HRV) and had a biologically soothing effect on overall heart function.

3. Sing to Snore Less

Do your nightly snores, sputters, and sleep apnea have the dog (and your spouse) howling for respite? Luckily, you may find some sleepy solace (for you, your spouse, and the family pet) if you take up singing.

According to a 2008 snoring study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine those who sing, snore far less. The study monitored the snoring of a group of choral singers and compared them to non-song birds. The study concluded that singers had stronger airway muscles, which drastically reduced the music in the tune of zzzzzzzzzzzz (aka: sawing logs) during sleep.

4. Sing a Tune to Boost Immunity

Even though we are not Disney princesses who sing to cure all of our troubles. Wouldn’t that be nice? However, in real life, research published in the journal, eCancer Medical Science, claims that singing can improve immune function and the body’s ability to lower stress and fight off disease.

The UK study took samples of saliva samples from cancer patients and detected increased cytokines (immune system molecules) and decreased cortisol (stress hormone) in patients who’d recently sang a tune or two. The researchers consider this positive preliminary proof that singing can strengthen immunity.

5. The Bond of Song

Personally speaking, I have to really like someone in order to break into song in front of them. However, a study published by the Royal Society of Open Science claims that singing creates tight social bonds between individuals.

Study researchers claim it’s all thanks to the “ice breaker effect”, a bond that was common among new-established singing choir and band members. The findings note that in new-formed non singing groups (i.e., book clubs, writing clubs, and quilting clubs, etc.) the bonds were not as strong.

6. Singing in Praise of Positivity

You might believe you need a pretty high opinion of yourself to sing in front of a group of people. However, this National Institutes of Health study from 2004 claims that the more you sing, the more improved your positivity and self image will become.

The study monitored a group of amateur choral singers and found that the very act of singing reduced cortisol (stress hormone) while improving overall mood and emotional states (by measuring S-IgA) levels in saliva samples. Overall, the singers enjoyed positive boosts to their emotional and immune health. (Quote source here.)

So sing your heart out with great zeal and enthusiasm! I’ll end this post with the verse at the top of this post from Isaiah 46:10 and Psalm 96:1Sing to the Lord a new song…

His praise . . .

From the ends . . .

Of the earth . . . .

YouTube Video: “Amazing Grace” sung by Judy Collins and choir:

YouTube Video: “How Great Thou Art” sung by Carrie Underwood with Vince Gill:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here