The Same Power

A few weeks ago, I was feeling apprehensive. Depressed. Fearful.

I knew why: It was shortly after the presidential inauguration. Political leanings aside, the past election year and subsequent inauguration showed that the United States is deeply divided over serious issues. Every time I turned on the news for the first month after January 20, I saw hatred, name calling, fear mongering, and lying, on both sides of the political aisle.

It felt like the country I had grown up in was no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave, but a land of the people who yell the loudest and are scared of anything different from their beliefs.

I literally went to bed each night with a sour feeling in my stomach, only to awaken with dread at what the next day’s news cycle was going to bring. I wasn’t sure what to say to my coworkers or what to write on Facebook, as it seemed whatever I said would be met with either scorn, apathy or more hate.

SpiritI felt this way for probably about a week of more. In fact, I found myself at church early one morning, rehearsing for that morning’s worship service with the praise team, not feeling I was in much of a mood to praise anything or lead anyone to the Holy Spirit.

It bothered me a lot, because worship through song is how I feel closest to God. The feel of air rushing through my lungs, my voice rising through the notes to form words is the way I can express my thanks, my praise, the feelings of my heart to my Savior. Not being able to do so just felt wrong.

One of the songs we sang that morning is called “The Same Power,” by Jeremy Camp. I had sung it many times before, but that morning, my heart actually listened to the words I was singing. Here’s the chorus:

The same power that rose Jesus from the dead

The same power that commands the dead to wake

Lives in us, lives in us.

The same power that moves mountains when He speaks

The same power that can calm a raging sea

Lives in us, lives in us.

He lives in us, lives in us.

Such an incredible message! The same power that pulled a man from hell and the grave to resurrected life, the same power that brought creation into being and flooded the earth and parted a sea, and gave an old woman a newborn child, and a virgin a baby, and healed the blind and the sick, and cast out demons, and a thousand other miracles– that same power lives in me as the Holy Spirit.

That was a message I sorely needed to hear that morning. I wrote in my journal during the sermon: “The same power can give me strength to stand up to the political rhetoric. To speak out for those who can’t. To be strong when things are wrong and the rest of the world is against us. God’s power lives in me, so I shouldn’t be afraid to stand up. Lord, help me to feel your power in me, and to have the confidence to express it. I will not be silent, or be cowed by hate. Hate cannot win, and will not win.”

I hope that no matter what you are fearful of, that you can take heart and courage knowing that God’s power lives in you as His Holy Spirit.

If you’re so inclined, give a listen to the whole song by clicking on the photo below, and take heart: He has overcome the world, and so can you.

same power

Make a Joyful Noise

Beautiful strains of music filled our church building last night as the  York College Concert Choir performed. The fifty plus a capella chorus sang songs of praise that brought tears to my eyes.

I was blessed to once be part of this choir, as were my son and daughter, and Dawn’s son. Next year, our youngest, Emma, will be on their risers. All of this reflection made me think about how important music is in our worship.

In Col. 3:16 it says, “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.” Did you notice the types of songs are differentiated? I believe that’s because all three types of songs feed a different part of our souls. Let’s take a look.

psalms

Psalms: Psalms are scripture, and besides singing the Psalms in the Bible, I think this idea can expand to all scripture. Singing songs based on scripture helps us commit them to memory and recall God’s word when we need it. Many psalms are also songs of praise, and nothing is more important in our worship than praising our Creator.

hymn

Hymns: A hymn is song a praise, but unlike psalms, they were not written under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Hymns are filled with important spiritual truths. We might be singing about the power of God, the joy of our salvation, His amazing grace, or recalling the sacredness of a rugged cross.

Some people think of hymns as “old” songs, but that isn’t true. They are as relevant today as ever. They provide a depth and wisdom. They help put spiritual truths and doctrines into our hearts and minds that we will never forget. They touch us intellectually.

sing

Spiritual Songs: Spiritual songs touch our emotional core. Whether it’s a praise song or needing the Lord, our modern praise songs “move” us. We can express our joy or praise or brokenness through these songs.

The Bible repeatedly encourages us “to sing a new song to the Lord” (Psalm 96:1, Isaiah 42:10, Rev. 5:9, Rev. 14:3). Our God is a God of creativity and He continues to bless His children through creative expression. Psalm 40:3 says, “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”

By singing all three kinds of songs–psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs–in our worship, music finds its highest purpose. It allows us to glorify our God. Nothing else moves us or lets us express our adoration and thankfulness like music.

And the best thing is that God doesn’t care whether your notes are pure or a little off key. He hears the song in your heart.

Let’s chat now. What’s your favorite hymn or spiritual song? What role does music play in your worship?

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Babies and Cats and Dogs – Oh, my!

I love to laugh. I hope I’m that grandma with laugh lines deeply imbedded in her face (which shouldn’t be hard – I’m well on the way). Obviously it’s not always appropriate to laugh, but sometimes those can be the times when it’s hardest not to. Like during communion when your grandma drops her little plastic cup and it bounces its way across the sanctuary (and bounces and bounces…), pinging off the granite floor in the silence.

Or during a sermon on a summer morning, when the sun reflects off the floor and makes a giant silhouette image of a friend of yours on the back wall (and they don’t know they’re bigger than life).

Or trying to be solemn while assembling for a graveside service right after someone comments about the Rolloff family being buried at the top of the hill (they had noticed the marker of someone buried long ago in that tiny town’s cemetery).

I have a file of “Keepers” in my inbox where I store emails people have sent that struck me particularly funny. More than once I’ve opened it and read a few – sure enough, I was soon smiling and feeling better.

Here are a few YouTube links that I hope will make you laugh today. Who can NOT laugh when a baby lets loose with that adorable belly laugh? Or when twins crack themselves up (and leave us out of the fun!)?

Even if you don’t like cats or dogs, it’s hard not to giggle at the predicaments they get themselves into or when they share a special talent.

Life can be pretty rough on occasion. I thank our God for laughter (He must have a sense of humor – He created the hippopotamus, after all!).