Wednesday, May 31, 2017

If My Body is the Temple...

Reading through the Psalms has given me reminders that it's OK with God to use more than my voice when singing praises to Him with the congregation.

I was not raised in a tradition where singing in a worship service involved anything other than vocal expression.  Our hands were either holding a hymnal, or if we were sharing one with someone, gripping the back of the pew in front of us.  But, sometimes I confess to allowing the message of the song to bring a smile, maybe even a rare tear to my eyes.  That was the extent of any physical expression other than singing.

Fortunately, in my later years I've come to learn that other expressions (as long as they are under my control) can be valid in praise.  I'm a Bible believer, meaning that the Scripture always trumps tradition.  And even in Baptist churches there is tradition.  True, it's not "high church", but there are/were traditions that had no affirmation in the Book.  In fact, the Book seemed to say otherwise.

Two that I have been freed to practice allow me to do more than sing.

I clap my hands!  God blessed me with a good sense of rhythm.  And my musical training (I was a drummer in high school) allows me to get the 2nd and 4th beat claps.   So, I'm naturally and physically inclined to do something with the beat of the song, whether it's to tap my foot, move from one foot to the other or contribute to the overall sound with clapping. 

Apparently clapping was part of the worship in the Old Testament Temple worship. 

Psalm 47:1 says, "Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with a jubilant cry."  Then the next verse tells us why we should clap and shout.  "For the LORD Most High is awe-inspiring, a great King over all the earth."  Clap because of Who God is! 

At our church we not only clap along with many of the songs, we also applaud as a form of praise and thanks for what we've just sung.  And it's OK.

Then, I lift my hands in praise.  That was a tough one for me to be freed to do, I confess, and for so many wrong reasons.  But, I figured out that if it's to show God worth, is spontaneous (not coerced or demanded) on my part, and isn't done to attract attention to me it's a legitimate practice for worshipers of the King.

Psalm 63:3-4 (the Psalms were Israel's hymnal) says, "My lips will glorify You [that's praise with my words and singing] because Your faithful love is better than life. So I will praise You as long as I live; at Your name, I will lift up my hands."  This isn't about prayer, although that's the context of Psalm 28:2 and 1 Timothy 2:8.  This is about praise.  And Psalm 119:48 speaks about lifting up hands as a sign of submission and surrender to God. 

We're so fortunate that God has not only made us physically in the manner He has, but that He's OK with us using what He has created to worship and praise Him.  And worship, to be right, must be first done "in spirit and in truth".  So, whether I use my voice, my hands, my feet, am kneeling or lying prostrate before Him, if my heart isn't prepared to worship then nothing else matters.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Well, of course!

For our local church planters.  Whoever you are!