As the father of four children, I tell them four words nearly every day: “You should be thankful!” I say it to them during dinner when they turn up their noses at vegetables. I say it to them when they want to get a toy that “all” their friends have. For my kids, and I suspect for many of us, giving thanks to God is an individual discipline—the proper response to what He’s done.
The wise pastor told his new worship director, “There’s one style of music I hope you never play in our church.” She grabbed a pen and asked, “What is it?” He replied, “I’ll never tell you. If we all insist on getting our own way, we’ll never sing anything.”
Nine-year-old Willie might have saved his life simply by singing a praise song. The boy was kidnapped from his driveway by a stranger. But the kidnapper then dropped him off unharmed after driving around for hours. Willie says he continued to sing the song “Every Praise” by Hezekiah Walker until the kidnapper grew tired of cursing and telling him to shut up.
I enjoy reading lists of names in the Bible. In the past, they seemed pointless to me. In fact, I would skim over them to get to the “meaty” stuff in the passage. One day, however, I realized that all those names were there for a reason. God had selected individuals and involved them by name in His Word. What an honor when your name was chosen for positive reasons!
As a preacher, I’m rightly concerned with the content of each of my Sunday sermons. I must confess, however, that I can fall into the trap of being overly concerned with what people think of my message—not whether or not the message is clearly understood or whether the people and the Lord Himself are blessed by what I say. I can become more concerned with the goal of having church members like what I say and approve of my message. Sometimes a furrowed brow in the congregation, especially from someone I know and respect spiritually, can seriously interrupt my flow and cause me no small amount of consternation.
On July 21, 2013, media outlets worldwide held their collective breath as they waited for the birth of the child of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The baby was third in line to the British throne, and so when Prince George was born the next day there was hardly a newspaper or news program that didn’t herald the announcement front and center.
Charles complained to his friend about some lower back pain. He was seeking a sympathetic ear, but his friend gave him an honest assessment. “Your back isn’t your problem,” he pointed out. “It’s your stomach. Your stomach is so big it’s pulling on your back.”
For many years my wife and I put off doing some major remodeling to our home. Finally, the carpeting that was more that 35 years old and the kitchen cabinet doors that were falling apart caught up with us. So this year we employed operation clean start! It was out with the old and in with the new as the main floor of our home received an extreme makeover. Now that the process of restoration is nearly finished, it’s amazing to see and experience the difference!
As a Christian radio host, I occasionally get to ask songwriters and musicians about the writing process that leads to the creation of their music. These worshipers often refer to a specific event that became the inspiration for a particular song. Then when I hear the track, I’m reminded of the story behind the lyrics. Just as these songs contain reminders of an individual’s journey, so do poems, blogs, paintings, and social media updates. They all serve as ways we can remind ourselves and others of the provision, deliverance, and presence of God.
In an instructional video, Neil Percy, lead percussionist for the London Symphony Orchestra, demonstrates the proper technique for holding cymbals to generate the the loudest noise possible. He begins by holding the cymbals vertically just below his waist. He clashes them together while moving them skyward. Then he ends with both hands extended over his head, the cymbals reverberating joyfully in the air above him. The biggest strokes on the cymbals, he says, might be used in a symphony “[at] the heights of a crescendo, or the combination of a really big stream of notes.”
She said to him, “I don’t want to try to fix our marriage. It’s over.” What had started with such high hopes and evident love was now a cold, lifeless thing. My friend desired to see renewal and restoration in their relationship, but his wife made it clear that the two of them had changed and that their marriage would soon end.
We often celebrate a victory by heaping accolades and awards on the winners. Last week, the Christian radio station where I work received an award for media excellence, and we have a trophy as a reminder of our outstanding efforts throughout the year.