Learning to Sing

Last Sunday, based on Ephesians 5:18-20, I exhorted all of you to sing more. I encouraged you to sing with your whole heart to each other and to Christ. This can be rather awkward at first because we are not used to singing. Our culture is one that listens to a lot of songs, but does not sing much. We are those who watch, not those who participate. So how do you get started singing? Here are some suggestions:

1. Begin with worship. Worship is the easiest place to sing loud and with your whole being. There you have many other voices to help you, as well as the piano. You will probably know most of the songs we sing.  Use worship as fuel for the singing fires. Lift up your voices with joy and gladness in worship. You will find that if you throw yourself into singing in worship then you will start singing in other places as well.

2. At home, pick songs you know well and incorporate them into your daily routine. Our communion songs are a good place to start since we sing those for three months. First, pick a time to sing. Maybe it is dinner or family worship or your quiet time. Make it a habit to sing every day during that time. Then pick a song and sing it regularly. Find a regular time and regular song.  As you do this, you will become more comfortable singing.

3. When a song pops in your head sing it, unless it would be really awkward. For example, I often remember songs from worship as I work in the yard or do chores around the house. When I remember them I sing them out loud. Usually I know only one or two verses and am terribly off tune, but that is fine. The aim is to have singing a more regular part of your life. If singing is a sign of being filled with the Spirit, then when a song comes into my head I assume it is from Him and that He wants me to sing it.

4. When you gather with Christian friends sing a psalm or hymn.  It doesn’t have to be anything amazing. You may only know the first verse.  But sing anyway. Sing “A Mighty Fortress” or “Bless Now the Man Who Does Not Walk” or “Holy, Holy, Holy.” You don’t have to sing every time, but sing often with other Christians.  It reminds you of who you are and your unity together.

5. Encourage your children to sing loud.  Too often we tell our kids to quiet down because we think they are singing too loud and they are usually singing off tune. This is especially our tendency with boys. Obviously, we don’t want them screaming, but we do want them loud. Let the children loose so they can sing praises to their Savior.

6. Finally, the men at Christ Church should be known for their singing. It used to be that men sang everywhere. They sang work songs in the fields and bar songs in the tavern and love songs under the window of a woman. Men don’t sing anymore. Oh brothers, we need to find our tongues again. Men of Christ Church, sing loud. Sing with your whole heart. Forget your pride and how you look and how you sound. Raise your voices to God the King and to his Son who shed his blood for you.  Smash down the Devil with Psalms. Revive the downhearted with a hymn about Christ. There will be no true reformation in worship or the home without the men singing.

Redeeming the Culture

Five strategies from Paul Tripp for helping our teenagers interact redemptively with their culture.

1. Prepare: “The first step is to instill in our teenagers a biblical view of life.” He especially encourages family devotions to have practical application not just imparting of knowledge about the Bible.

2. Test: “We teach our teenagers to critique, evaluate, interpret, and analyze the surrounding culture from a biblical perspective.” I would call this cultural exegesis.

3. Identify: “Here we teach our children to recognize common ground…We want teenagers who have learned to identify with their culture—not agreeing with its interpretations and responses, but identifying with its struggle and humbly acknowledging why these responses seem logical to someone who does not  know Christ and his Word.”

4. Decide: “We want to teach our teenagers how to know when they can be redemptive participants in their culture an when they must separate from it…Calmly help your teenagers learn how to think through these decisions.  Require them to be part of the discussion and thinking process. Many parents not only protect their teenagers from the world, but block them out of the decision-making process as well. In doing this, they leave them unprepared for the myriad of decisions they will have to make as adults.”

5. Redeem: “Here we teach our teenagers to take back turf that has been lost to the world by witnessing to the good news of Jesus Christ. Our voice in the culture is ordained by God not just to be negative, not just to be always against something. The goal is to declare positively what God had in mind when he designed things in the beginning, to be part of rebuilding the culture his way, and to proclaim that this rebuilding can only be done by people who are living in proper relationship with God through Jesus Christ.”