Singing: The Response of the Redeemed

If I’m awake, I have a song in my head.  Sometimes it stays in there and other times it comes out. There have been a few times when I’m singing and I don't even know it. Just ask my wife! Singing and music in general have always been a part of my life because of my father. His love for singing and music had an influence on me even at a young age. His passion for worship music became my passion as I got older and I’m extremely thankful for that. 

But, maybe you would say singing isn’t your forte. Maybe you would even say singing during a worship service makes you feel uncomfortable. For the men out there, maybe you think congregational singing isn’t very masculine. Or you may simply be indifferent towards singing on Sunday morning. Whatever your idea of worship through singing might be, know this: responding to God through singing for who He is and what He has done is not reserved only for the talented; it’s granted to the redeemed. If you have been set free from the bondage of sin through the gospel, then singing in worship to God should abound! 

“I can’t sing!” I’ve heard this countless times. If you’ve caught yourself saying or thinking this, you probably mean, compared to your favorite singer or the woman who sings harmony behind you at church, your voice doesn’t quite match up. If you can physically speak, you can sing. Not only can you sing, but God created you to sing! Of course, some sing better than others. However, if we perceive singing aloud on Sunday morning as reserved only for the “gifted,” then we misunderstand the purpose of worship through singing. God is more interested in the posture of your heart than He is with your ability to match a certain pitch.

Now, we say often at Restoration Church that there are many ways that we respond to God in worship.  We respond to God in worship through the reading of His Word. We worship God by aligning ourselves with Him in prayer. We can even worship God by keeping children in the nursery. There’s a host of ways we can worship on Sunday morning.We don’t want to limit worship to only singing. However, I want to point you to 3 reasons why I believe we should be compelled to sing as the redeemed body of Christ.

1. We should sing because God Himself sings.

The more I think about this, the more it gives me chills! The Master of the universe, the only holy God, Yahweh sings! How incredible is that? I often wonder what His singing must sound like. It must be the most powerful and beautiful sound we will ever hear. Not only does He sing, but He sings over those he redeems! Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty One who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” All throughout the Old Testament, Israel consistently disobeyed the Lord. Because they rejected the Lord, judgment was headed for them by way of enemy nations (Zephaniah 1-2). How can the holy God exult over a disobedient and obstinate people with singing? God made a covenant with them—one that would not be broken. God, in His infinite mercy, chose to rescue the Israelites from their enemies. Not only did He turn away His wrath, but He was in the midst of them easing their every fear. This is a foreshadow of what God would do and did do for us through Jesus on the cross. Because we rejected God in our sin, we were the objects of His wrath. Judgement was coming for us. But God mercifully and graciously provided salvation through Jesus so that we could be restored! There was once wrath stored towards us. Now, God sings melodies of grace over us. He sees us. He’s with us. And He sings over us. Gifted singer or not, this should motivate you to sing with every once of your being!

2. We should sing because our soul needs it.

We are a forgetful people. As we walk through life, there are hardships, temptations, and trials that shift our attentions and affections away from this gospel. God knew this to be true of Israel as well. In Deuteronomy 31, God commanded Moses to write a song to teach the people that would remind them of His goodness and faithfulness. “They will turn to other gods and serve them and despise me and break my covenant. And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring).” Singing the truth of God’s Word helps us remember the character of God and the goodness of the gospel when confronted with sin. Not only does our soul need to sing when confronted with sin, but also when we’re in the depths of suffering. Jesus promised us that we will face trouble (John 16:33). Therefore, where there was once indescribable joy, sorrow seeps in. Where there was calming peace, anxiety will abound. These are the times when singing the truth of God’s Word feels impossible or even pointless. However, when our vocal cords are constricted by suffocating circumstances, we must sing. King David went through plenty of hardship. In Psalm 42, David is driven to such distress that he writes, “My tears have been my food day and night.” It is in this same passage that he writes and sings, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” He continues by saying, “My soul is cast down within me, therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon and from Mount Mizar.” When our souls are panting for satisfaction, our hearts reeling with pain, or we are simply indifferent, we must remember the goodness and faithfulness of God. Reading the Word and communing with God in prayer are disciplines that remind us of the character of God. I believe singing is a discipline that does the same. Gospel truth coupled with a melody leaves a lasting imprint on our hearts. May we not only think of singing as what we do to proclaim how we feel about God. May we also sing loudly about who God is and what he has done for us in Christ. It is the latter that guides us when our feelings are fickle. 

3. We should sing because our neighbor needs it.

If I’m honest, there are some Sundays when it is hard to sing. There have been some Sundays when I come without reminding myself who I am in Christ. I allow my feelings to lead me instead of the truth of the gospel. There are some Sundays when I have come out of mere obligation instead of a deep joy and holy anticipation to encounter the greatness of God. I know I’m not alone. We all struggle at times to aim our worship towards Jesus because our worship is entangled in countless other gods. It is in these times when we need to hear each other sing. One of my favorite times during our Sunday morning gathering is being able to back away from the mic, stop playing my guitar and hear the church sing! Ephesians 5:19 says we should “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” We sing not only to praise God but to encourage each other. Our singing should point each other to Christ. We need to hear each other sing. 

 

- Stephen Krumalis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reformation Day: Do Not Squander

1521: A single German scholar, facing the assembled might of both church and state, is ordered to recant his positions against the many corruptions and false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Before the entire assembly, he replies that he cannot recant, as his conscience is held fast by God’s Word. He will be excommunicated, a hunted man, kidnapped by his own supporters, living in disguise for a year as a knight to avoid being caught and killed by those would see him and this growing movement crushed.

1536: Captured after years of smuggling his English Holy Bible translation into his native land, so that his countrymen could finally read God’s Word for themselves, just before being strangled to death and burnt, a man prays that the Lord will open the eyes of the King of England to God’s truth.

1555: A defiant leader of the English Reformation is about to be burnt at as part of “Bloody” Queen Mary’s purges. Disdaining the flames, he tells his fellow martyr, “We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”

1660: A tinker, faced with the choice of either stopping his preaching of the gospel, or going to prison, tells a court he will not comply with their demands. He will spend over 12 years imprisoned, but in all that time, he never stops preaching or writing concerning God's Word and the Christian life, including a book that will become the best-selling book of all time next to the Bible itself.

1730: A young French woman, just recently married, is imprisoned for refusing to renounce her Protestant faith. She is only 19 years old, and will spend the next 38 years in prison. She will be released, finding that both her father and husband have died during her long sentence. Yet in all those years, she holds firm to her biblical faith, even writing and encouraging many others who find themselves similarly oppressed.

We have described the lives of five unique individuals above: Martin Luther, William Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, John Bunyan, and Marie Durand. Each of them were part of different circumstances and times, and each suffered in a unique way, but all of them did it for much the same reason: the idea that men and women would be free to know the truths of God’s Word, would be able to learn the Scriptures for themselves, and would be able to hear biblical teaching and preaching. Each of these individuals held tightly to this great, recovered, Scriptural truth of the Reformation: The just shall live by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, as related by Scripture alone. And this wonderful truth is fully worth living a life consciously dedicated in every season and adversity to the glory of God alone.

The truth that was fought and paid for so dearly by the saints and martyrs through the ages is eternal, as it is the truth as defined by our Lord and Creator. The ability to study and share God’s Word is never something that is to be taken for granted—a fact that one look at the persecuted church around the world today will readily tell us. Our generation of the church can look to these faithful witnesses to remind us the preciousness of being able to have God’s Word, and the urgency that the message of salvation be shared with a dying world.

The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation is a good time to examine ourselves in relation to how we treat God’s Word and the gospel therein. Do our lives reflect a love for it? Is it compartmentalized to 90 minutes on Sunday, or is it something much more than that? Do we plead we “have no time for it”? Do we acknowledge that if it is worth dying for, it is beyond certainty worth living for? Let us study and share the Word, living it out daily, embracing our Savior’s call to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20), and not squander the incredible freedom that God has graced us with by the willing sacrifice of so many valiant saints.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. -Romans 10:17

Marriage Maintenance | Day Two

 

HERE is the link to the marriage assessment survey. We want you to take some time alone and fill out and answer these questions. Record your answers somewhere so that you can review them with your spouse later this week. 

Assignment for the week: 
1. Fill out the assessment on your own. 
2. Sit down with your spouse to share answers. You're not looking to solve any problems right now, simply trying to get your bearings. 
3. Identify the areas of concern. Any area where there was a discrepancy in your answers or things that you rated lower than a "3" should get some special attention. 

*The next week's assignment will give you some direction on next steps towards dealing with these concern areas and putting them behind you. 

October Reading Plan

Goal for the month: Read through 1 and 2 Samuel in their entirety. 

October 1-7: Read “An Introduction to First Samuel” and 1 Samuel 1-15

October 8-14: Read 1 Samuel 16-31

October 15-21: Read “An Introduction to Second Samuel” and 2 Samuel 1-10 

October 22-31: Read 2 Samuel 11-24

"An Introduction to First Samuel"

First Samuel records the establishment of Israel’s monarchy, about 1085 BC. Samuel led Israel for many years in the combined roles of prophet, priest, and judge. After the people demanded a king like those of the other nations (ch. 8), God directed Samuel to anoint Saul as Israel’s first king. When Saul turned from God, David was anointed by Samuel to succeed him. After David killed the giant Goliath, he was brought to Saul’s court, eventually becoming the leader of Saul’s armies. Saul’s subsequent violent jealousy forced David to flee. The book closes with Saul’s death in battle, and looks forward to David’s reign. First Samuel’s author is unknown, but Samuel himself may have written portions of the book (1 Chronicles 29:29). 

"An Introduction to Second Samuel"

Second Samuel recounts David’s reign as king of Israel (about 1010-970 BC). As promised to Abraham, during David’s reign Israel’s borders were extended roughly from Egypt to the Euphrates. While David had many successes, after his sin against Bathsheba and Uriah (ch. 11) both his kingdom and his own family fell into chaos. His son Absalom led a bloody rebellion against him. Nevertheless David, author of many of the Psalms, was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), a model of deep, heartfelt prayer and repentance. The Davidic covenant of chapter 7 establishes the eternal rule of David’s line, with its ultimate fulfillment in the coming of Jesus Christ. The author of 2 Samuel is unknown. 

 

September Reading Plan

Goal this month: Read through and study 1, 2, and 3 John.  

Week 1: Read 1, 2, and 3 John in their entirety and An Introduction to 1-3 John

Week 2: Read 1 John once a day

Week 3: Read 2&3 John once a day

Week 4: Read 1, 2, and 3 John in their entirety 

An Introduction to 1-3 John

John the son of Zebedee wrote these three letters, probably no later than the 90s A.D. He wrote from Ephesus (in present-day western Turkey), perhaps to church like those mentioned in Revelation 2:8-3:22. John also wrote the fourth gospel and the book of Revelation. 

The bulk of John’s first letter is taken up with three tests of genuine faith: (1) the moral test - do you obey God’s commands? (2) the doctrinal test - do you believe Jesus is the Son of God? (3) the love test - do you love God and His children?  Early in the letter these tests appear distinctly, but as John proceeds they are increasingly intertwined into a unified picture of the truly gospel-transformed life. 

In his second letter John reiterated the same themes of truth, obedience, and love. But now he especially addresses the church regarding the danger of false teaching, and in particular teaching that denies that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. From the opening verse, his emphasis in on the “truth”, and he clearly instructs the church to have nothing to do with those who have departed from the truth of the gospel. Agreement regarding Christ’s person and work is necessary for church fellowship. 

John’s third letter is, to a larger degree, addressing the opposite side of the issue raised in his second letter. Here the exhortation has to do with how to respond to faithful ministers of the gospel (as opposed to how to respond to the false teachers addressed in his second letter). John again emphasizes the priority of truth for the health of the church, but then proceeds to commend Gaius (and presumably those in fellowship with him) for actively supporting those in gospel ministry, and he encourages all believers to do the same.

*Introduction from the Gospel Transformation Bible

August Bible Reading Plan

The Bible reading plan for the month of August is selected Psalms and Proverbs. For this month, we have a daily schedule for you to follow. Each day you will read one chapter from Proverbs and 1-2 chapters from Psalms. 

August 1: Psalm 1 and Proverbs 1

August 2: Psalm 37 and Proverbs 2

August 3:  Psalm 8 and Proverbs 3

August 4:  Psalm 18 and Proverbs 4

August 5:  Psalm 19 and Proverbs 5

August 6:  Psalm 29 and Proverbs 6

August 7: Psalm 30 and Proverbs 7

August 8: Psalm 36 and Proverbs 8

August 9: Psalm 40 and Proverbs 9

August 10: Psalm 66 and Proverbs 10

August 11: Psalm 86 and Proverbs 11

August 12: Psalm 104 and Proverbs 12

August 13: Psalm 136 and Proverbs 13

August 14: Psalms 47&93 and Proverbs 14

August 15: Psalms 96&97 and Proverbs 15

August 16: Psalm 48 and Proverbs 16

August 17: Psalm 76 and Proverbs 17

August 18: Psalm 84 and Proverbs 18

August 19: Psalms 120-121 and Proverbs 19

August 20: Psalms 133-135 and Proverbs 20

August 21: Psalms 2 and Proverbs 21

August 22: Psalm 7 and Proverbs 22

August 23: Psalm 55 and Proverbs 23

August 24: Psalm 109 and Proverbs 24

August 25: Psalm 139 and Proverbs 25

August 26: Psalm 22 and Proverbs 26

August 27: Psalm 51 and Proverbs 27

August 28: Psalm 63 and Proverbs 28

August 29: Psalm 90 and Proverbs 29

August 30: Psalms 120&123 and Proverbs 30

August 31: Psalm 143 and Proverbs 31

Delight

I truly delight in teaching.  The saying goes that the best teachers must be even better students, so perhaps much of the pleasure I derive from teaching comes from learning the content itself.  I enjoy the learning process from start to finish, and love when a student experiences the same joy of learning.  But in teaching, I’ve had students fall asleep in class, neglect homework assignments, and fail seemingly easy tasks.  So the question is, how can there be such a disconnect between a teacher who delights in the content and study at hand and her somewhat disengaged students?  Could it be that at times students don’t derive the same pleasure from learning as does the teacher from teaching?  Why is that?

In an article by Professor Jill Riddell, she writes, “The importance of delight cannot be understated in the process of transformative teaching and learning. . . . We ask one another and ourselves how we know the world and how we can live delightfully, courageously, and responsibly within it.”  

And Yale professor and psychologist Paul Bloom states, “When we get pleasure from something, it's not merely based on what we see or what we hear or what we feel. Rather, it's based on what we believe that thing to be.”

Beliefs and Knowledge Matter

These authors seem to be implying that the missing link between an enthusiastic teacher and a disengaged student is delight.  And not only that what we’re studying makes us feel a certain way, but that we believe a certain way about it!  Therefore, a concerto violinist performing on stage in Carnegie Hall receives roaring applause from adoring fans but goes ignored when he appears in street clothes and plays at the subway (Joshua Bell).   Perceptions and beliefs matter.   If we believe we are the people of God and our identity is in Christ, why is it we so often find ourselves in the seats of the disengaged students?  If we believe God is who he says he is and that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, shouldn’t we find ourselves filled with delight in him?  Though we are called to delight ourselves in him and his word, we often find ourselves lacking joy and gratitude.  Why?

I agree with Bloom’s assertion that the more we know about something the more we value it.  In another interview, he claims the key to living with more pleasure is to study more. . . . the key to enjoying art isn’t to look at or buy a lot of art but to learn about it.  When one understands who created it, how it was created, the time invested, and the value assigned to a work, one treasures that piece much more than if he were to unknowingly stare at it on a museum wall.  So can the same be said about delighting in God and his word?  That by studying God’s word we will come to know he who created, how he has been faithful in his steadfast love to his people, and that he values us so much that he sent his son to die for us?  Can we, by studying, truly derive pleasure from his word, his commands, his decrees?  Do we lack joy and gratitude simply because we do not know well our Maker and his word?

Psalm 119 is exceptional in its praises of God’s word.  All but two of the 176 verses contain some sort of description of God’s word, and at least nine verses mention the psalmist’s delight in it.  

14     In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
15     I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
16     I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.

By delighting in God’s word, we begin to delight in him.  We learn who he is as we see his sovereignty, mercy, and steadfast love on display.  Over and over his song of redemption plays out through his word and culminates in the saving acts of his son.  And so, as God’s people, as Restoration women, we move forward into study of his word, we press into knowing him better and delighting in him,  praying together with the psalmist,

33     Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
34     Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.
35     Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.
36     Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
37     Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Ladies, I hope you will join us in our upcoming study of Colossians, starting on July 19.  Come see how the superiority and sufficiency of Christ changes every aspect of how we live.  Come delight in learning more about our savior and king!

And don’t miss out on an outstanding opportunity this fall as we head to Country Lake Christian Retreat in southern Indiana for our first Restoration Women’s Retreat.   Wife, mom, and speaker Laura White will point us to the word as it reveals the hope God has given his people in the past, present, and future.  This will be a relaxing time to renew your spirit and experience authentic community with your Restoration sisters as we delight ourselves in who he is.  Click here to register today.  

- Morgan Zoeller - 


Click here to watch a brief promo video for the retreat.