His Mercy is Our Song

Music by Mary!

Music by Mary!

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.  Psalm 100 KJV

As do millions of other humans planet-wide, I love music.  We used to sing the above Psalm at Bible camp and therefore the words are still firmly wedged in my mind.  Music can get a hold of you in a way that no other medium can.  Why else would radio stations still exist in this world of high-flying technology and digital video players?  We like to crank our favourite songs and A).  dance wildly, B).  cry our eyes out, or C).  write a blog…

BUT is music of God? Should we be so involved in it as Christians?

OF COURSE (see the above Psalm).  How do I know this…

Music, as mentioned in the Bible, goes quite a ways back in history.  Many of the Psalms written by David starts out with a note “for the director of music” which logically suggests that he anticipated that his writings would be put to music and sung.

By David’s time there was even a designated group of Levites who were set aside for the praise and worship team.  31 These are the men David put in charge of the music in the house of the Lord after the ark came to rest there. 32 They ministered with music before the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, until Solomon built the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. They performed their duties according to the regulations laid down for them. 1 Chronicles 6: 31, 32 NIV

We find this worship team mentioned many times throughout 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah.

12 All the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives—stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. 13 The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:
“He is good;    
his love endures forever.”
Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud,14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.
2 Chronicles 5:12 – 14 NIV

“…for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God”…and aren’t we God’s temple?

We find mention of music and singing continuing on into New Testament times as well.  After Jesus ate the Last Supper with his disciples they sang a hymn.  When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.  Matthew 26:30 NIV

OK, time for the big debate–AS CHRISTIANS, WHAT TYPE OF MUSIC SHOULD WE SING or PLAY?

What does God say?

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5:18b – 20 NIV

Let the peace of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another wth all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your in your heart to God. Colossians 3:16 NIV 84

We are to sing “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (songs from the Spirit)” which kind of covers it all, from the Bible’s Psalm 100, to the hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness, to the chorus Blessed Be the Name, to Manafest’s Human.  Do you notice, though, that it is not the type of song we sing that seems to be the most important thing, but rather that we sing with the right attitude–thanksgiving and gratitude to God.

It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, Lord,
how profound your thoughts!
But you, Lord, are forever exalted.  Psalm 92:1 – 5, 8 NIV

So, there is a reason why music touches our souls–God designed us this way!  Our souls long to sing praises to our God, to share His incredible love for us, as Group1Crew writes in their song His Kind of Love:

There are no words, no phrase I could create
There is no melody that I could make
How do you sing about the love so deep
Without feeling like you missed something
I could try but I could not explain

His kind of love 
Is reckless for us
His kind of love it will never give up
‘Til the whole world knows how far He went to show
His kind of love

This is our God
He is strong and His mercy is our song
He won’t stop chasing us
That’s just His kind of love

God sings to us through bird song, whispering winds, the voices of our loved ones, through music.  He has given us so much and loves us with a depth that we can’t even imagine.  We learn in Luke 19:37 – 40 from Jesus that if His disciples didn’t cry out in song, the rocks would!

Do we want to leave the rocks to cry out the blessings of the Lord?  No, this is our job.

Therefore, sing and make music to the Lord!  Lift up your voice in song!  Sing of our God in a mighty voice as a fragrant offering to our God!  Try to explain in words how amazing is the grace of our God!  May He feel our thanks and our gratitude and may others feel His mercy and grace!

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We Can All Write Lyrics

Years ago I noticed one of my friends from University days in the dead of winter reading the book of Hosea from the Bible.  The book of Hosea is actually pretty cool (especially chapter 11) but at the time I didn’t know this, so I asked her why she was reading it.

“Because, Mary, when I get to heaven I might meet Hosea and I’ll say to him, ‘hey, good book’.”

This got me thinking that maybe I should read more of the Bible than I had to that point (I would feel super embarrassed to meet Isaiah in heaven and only be able to say, ‘uhhh, I’ve heard of you…’).  So I got down to reading this Book that I have taken so much for granted.

I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life a little later and I found myself reading the book of Jonah.  What I read really spoke to me; what Jonah said struck a cord with me at that moment.  I remembered that I had once been told at a conference that we should write  our own “psalms”.  If David could write Psalm 22, then maybe I could use the Jonah passage as a model and write my own psalm.

So, a modern rewriting or “Mary version” of Jonah 2:1 – 9 came about that day and I have actually re-rewritten it at a later date in the midst of yet another struggle.  The important thing is that I learned the power of writing down my thoughts.  The writing doesn’t have to be beautiful (there are some poems of mine that I will likely never share with anyone!) nor do they have to be long, but it’s the writing of your thoughts, the creating of a record of your pain or joy, ideas, feelings or cries for help, that are revealing and important.

Take music lyrics, for example.  I have previously mentioned how much I love music and how strong the impact of a song with good music and good words can have on me.  These are essentially poems about how the writer feels, his joys, his pain, his path in this world.  We don’t need to set them to music, but we can all write lyrics.

Writing can be very cathartic.  After a burst of frenetic writing I can look back and see my real thoughts and feelings (which can sometimes be surprising).  As a single, I don’t necessarily always have someone to rage at about what’s on my heart, so the writing allows me to get off my chest things I might not necessarily say to acquaintances or friends.

I find that when it is the darkest around me is when I feel compelled to write my psalms.  I have taken to writing the date of composition on them because I find it interesting to go back later and read these poems and try to think what was going on in my life then and how it was resolved (all of the issues always seem to have been resolved…).  Once they have been resolved it is disturbing how readily I forget my past struggles that I wept over and over which I wrestled with God.  So there is value in looking back at my peoms–they remind me of the everlasting goodness and faithfulness of God.

Life as a single Christian (or as any sort of Christian) hurts sometimes.  It is not an easy road that we walk.  And God wants to hear about it from us.  He wants us to cry out to Him like David did.  He is waiting to hear from us.

14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  1John 5:14 NIV

It’s hard to show others our moments of pain, but in case even one person might find benefit from it, I will share one of my poems with you.

Merciful Father

i am bruised

bleeding

tired

from my self-imposed exile

You pick me up

discard my filthy rags

bathe me

cleanse me

i cry out

“I am alone,

where are You, God?”

You rub my wounds with oil

wash my hair

hold me close in Your tender,

loving arms

i struggle—

i want all that glitters!—

a stockpile of pain and

emptiness

You keep me close

tight in Your arms of love

soothing me

in my fury

and disobedience

i turn

my fight exhausted—

the world has turned a blind eye—

i see Your face…

Your face.

Merciful Father, Merciful Father

Thank you.