Singing Is An Act of Faith

Singing is a big part of the Christian life. We sing several times each Sunday, and we read of singing throughout the Bible. Christians are musical people.

When viewed from outside the church, however, all this singing is weird. There’s no other part of life—except, perhaps, birthday parties—that involves as much singing as Christianity.

I notice this whenever we have an official ceremony at Washington & Jefferson College, where I teach. Most of these ceremonies end with the alma mater, a song written to express one’s undying loyalty to and affection for the school. (Most colleges have such a song.) The music begins and everyone stares at the program. If not for the student singers up front, there wouldn’t be much to hear. For those who don’t sing outside the shower, it is a strange moment. I’m supposed to sing these words? To a tune? With my mouth? It’s no wonder most students (and faculty) end up mouthing the words or standing in disinterested silence.

Why We Don’t Sing

For Christians, singing is simply part of the deal.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! (Psalm 100:1–2)

Paul commands the church to sing as well—see Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:18–20. He connects this command to thankfulness, being filled with the Spirit, and “making melody to the Lord with your heart.” Singing is part of the way we glorify God as his body.

But, let’s face it. Not many of us are born singers. We are grateful for the word “noise” in the phrase “joyful noise.” We naturally make comparisons, and we feel awkward singing when our skills fall so far short of the worship leaders or soloists in church.

And beyond the lack of talent, singing exposes us. We put ourselves at risk when we sing; there’s nowhere to hide. Those near us hear our wrong notes, missed beats, and bad pronunciation. To avoid embarrassment, we sometimes decide to make a joyful noise internally.

Why We Sing

However, our obedience to God’s command to sing doesn’t depend on our ability. God doesn’t only want singing from the choir.

Think of an analogy. We wouldn’t leave giving, praying, Bible reading, caring for orphans and widows, or loving neighbors only to those who were naturally gifted. If a friend confronted us with the Biblical command not to gossip, we wouldn’t respond, “Oh, it’s okay—I’m just not very good at not gossiping!”

We’re not called to sing because we’re great singers. We sing because God is great and greatly to be praised! And, by God’s design, one of the chief ways we praise him is through song. He is worthy of our song, so we sing!

And as we sing, especially for those not naturally gifted, we exercise faith.

As we open our mouths to sing, we must believe the truth that God is pleased with us. We trust that because of Jesus’s work for us, our Father loves us and wants to hear our voices. Because he is good and tender and faithful, he won’t turn away if we can’t carry a tune.

In a world where we rely on our senses and instincts, this will take some adjustment. We must believe the Bible over our impulse to hide. We need to trust God that our relationship with him does not depend on our performance.

Jesus, the Perfect Singer

If we’re commanded to sing, and if Jesus has perfectly obeyed every command for us, then Jesus is a singer. In fact, he’s the best singer ever.

Think of your favorite hymn or praise song. Or think of the Psalms, most of which were written to be sung in worship by the people of Israel. Jesus has sung and continues to sing these songs of praise to God! His praise to God is perfect, and that obedient praise is credited to us. This is the good news of the gospel!

So when you stand to sing at church this week, don’t hesitate. Don’t worry about your skill. Open your mouth and make your melody, trusting that God loves and accepts you on the basis of his perfect son.

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! (Psalm 95:1–2)

Photo Credit

Links for the Weekend (1/25/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

I Lost My Mom, but I’ll Never Lose the Church

At The Gospel Coalition, Ronnie Kurtz writes about the way the church was there for him when his mother died. It’s a great reminder of the importance of a local church family.

It’s not hard to find articles pointing out the church’s shortcomings. Our reading streams are inundated with digital fingers pointing out her stains and failures. And yes, the church is frail and frequently falls short of her calling. Yet in all her missteps and imperfections, she met me in my sorrow, and she was exactly what I needed.

Teach Your Teen How to Read Their Bible

We often think that teenagers need age-specific material in order to engage with the Bible. Jen Wilkin argues that what teenagers really need is “basic tools to help them read and learn the Bible on their own.” Check out this excellent advice over at the website for The Village Church.

By guiding them in some basic study methods, you can position them to use devotional and topical material with far better discernment and far greater benefit, as those types of resources assume a first-hand knowledge of the Bible that many teens have not yet developed.

How a Church Can Care for Former Prisoners

As a former prisoner, Mark Casson writes with first-hand experience about how churches can welcome and care for those who have been incarcerated. Ex-prisoners can feel fearful about joining a local church. And the church can have a powerful impact in extending love to these brothers and sisters. Check out the article at Table Talk Magazine.

Finally, in loving the returning citizen, I would encourage you to treat him differently than the world treats them. The world says: “You can’t live here. You can’t work here. You are not welcome here. You cannot vote here.” If we are honest, discrimination against felons is acceptable in the world. Brothers and sisters, it cannot be acceptable in the church. If we believe that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness, then this includes felonious unrighteousness.


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (1/18/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Accepting “No” as God’s Will

This article is an excerpt from a book by the late R.C. Sproul. He looks at Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and helps us think about the way God answers our prayers.

The prayer of faith is not a demand that we place on God. It is not a presumption of a granted request. The authentic prayer of faith is one that models Jesus’ prayer. It is always uttered in a spirit of subordination. In all our prayers, we must let God be God.

A Bible Reading Plan for Children

How do we help our children develop a pattern of regular Bible reading? Joe Carter describes one simple way over at The Gospel Coalition. I like that this plan is realistic and emphasizes grace (even while we want to urge children strongly to read the Bible!).

The key to success is flexibility. If the child misses a day, just have them move on to the next section. If it takes longer than a year, don’t sweat it—there’s no rush. Be persistent but easy-going, encouraging rather than demanding. The goal is develop in your child the habit of wanting to read the Bible. Even if the child isn’t able to complete the entire reading program in a year (or two), if they follow the plan regularly they’ll have read large sections of Scripture and laid a solid foundation for future engagement with God’s Word.

52 Ideas for Inviting Someone to Church

When we try to point our friends and neighbors toward Jesus, sometimes we feel inadequate. But we don’t need to have all the answers. Sometimes the best thing we could do is invite someone to church. Here’s a great list of 52 ideas for inviting someone to church. Not all of them will apply to everyone, but I’m sure there’s something here that could be helpful.

As God puts people in your life, will you intentionally invite them? Jesus commands His followers to bring lost people to know Him. You have a unique circle of influence, and your personal invitation can influence them toward Jesus. Invite!

On the WPCA Blog This Week

Debbie Burtoft wrote for the blog this week: Rejoice at How God Builds His Church. If you haven’t read it already, check it out!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Rejoice at How God Builds His Church

In 1980, my husband Jim and I started attending a PCA church in Eighty Four, PA. The pastor, Nick Protos, did an excellent job explaining the church government, answering our many questions, and welcoming our family of eight into the small church.

About ten years later we heard that another PCA church was being started in Washington where our children went to school. We prayed about a move to support that sister church. Our pastor Gary Baker gave us his blessing to join the group as an experienced elder and Sunday school teacher. Although we missed the saints in Eighty Four, we dove into the new work with a large commitment to build another PCA church. We willingly cleaned the church, taught Sunday School classes, and made hundreds of phone calls. God blessed our efforts. We even gained a daughter-in-law when our oldest son found a wife in Washington.

When we started at the Washington church, the pastor, Bob Boidock, mentioned his desire to see other PCA churches start from the Washington church. How exciting it is to see Chris and Rick Ferguson called by God to do the same thing in the South Hills that we had done in Washington!

It is always sad to see sisters and brothers in Christ leave our church for various reasons. But God has proven himself many times over. When God calls us for a change, he has many blessings in store for his followers. Our family, now numbering 34, was taught well under the PCA pastors in these churches. As our children spread their wings, it was hard to see our families leave us.

An old friend from the Dutch Reformed Church, Charlotte Dudt, encouraged me as a young mother to focus on raising our future church leaders. We praise God daily for leading us to the Washington church. Our church is strong and always changing. I thank God for the glitter stuck in the carpet, hot chocolate stains in our fellowship hall, and the many little ones that we hear during our worship service. Our job is to prepare our families to be the future church. We may even see some of these children become our church leaders in the future.

Keep our church and leaders in your prayers and wait for the changes and blessings that God has in store.

Photo Credit

Links for the Weekend (1/11/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Three Tips for Better Bible Reading

In a post at Desiring God from 2014, Andy Naselli gives three ways to read more of the Bible: audio Bibles, reading complete books of the Bible in one sitting, and reading without chapter or verse numbers.

Jesus as Our Offering

How does the sacrificial system of the Old Testament connect to the coming of Jesus in the New Testament? How does Jesus satisfy the requirement of an offering for sin? At the Core Christianity website, Adriel Sanchez writes about how Jesus is the perfect burnt, sin, and guilt offering.

Dear friends, we don’t come to God with any sacrificial offering for sin today, because Jesus has fulfilled the Old Covenant system of worship through his once-for-all sacrifice. His sacrifice cleanses you, satisfies the debt you owe, and gives you peace with God, allowing you to enter into the presence of the Holy One.

Caring for a Friend with a Troubled Past

Brad Hambrick tackles a difficult but important question at his blog: What does the process of redemption and restoration look like for a person scarred by a past that includes multiple sex partners and abortions? He carefully walks his readers through steps of listening, empathy, honoring the friend’s pace of growth, showing interest in the whole person, and showing compassion. If we want to invite people from outside the church to follow Jesus, these are crucial conversations and relationships to consider!

No one chapter of any person’s life defines his or her whole life. Shame often tempts us to define our entire lives by our most painful moments. One of the unique opportunities of friendship and pastoral ministry – that is different from formal counseling – is that the relationship does not have to be problem-focused. We help lift shame when we take interest in all of our friend’s life by celebrating the good, supporting the hard, and being interested in the mundane.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

I wrote a short how-to article for the website this week: The Best Ways to Follow this Blog.


Thanks to Phil A for his suggestion for this batch of links!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

The Best Ways to Follow this Blog

If you’d like to keep up with this blog, there are a few ways to go about it.

You could check the website regularly. We publish a new article (roughly) every other Wednesday and a links post every Friday. If you can remember to check the website, this might be a good option for you. Most people (including me) don’t have a memory quite this good.

You could also check the private Facebook group for our church. Patty Waltermyer has generously agreed to post links to new blog posts in this group, so if you are on Facebook and part of this group, you can get the content that way. However, as people are growing more anxious about the role of Facebook in our individual lives (and our national affairs), you may not want to rely on Facebook for blog updates.

This leaves two dependable ways to keep up with this blog. (Incidentally, these methods are generally available for any blog you’d like to follow!)

Sign up for email updates. If you look at the bottom of this post or the bottom of the Blog page on our website, you’ll find a simple way to subscribe to this blog. Sign up, and when a new article publishes on the blog, you’ll get an email. Easy.

Subscribe to the RSS feed. This method is slightly more technical, but if you’d like to avoid one more thing in your email inbox, an RSS reader (Feedly is the one I use) is a good way to keep up with multiple blogs/websites at once. If you sign up for a free account, you can enter the RSS feed of this site (or any other blog) and then the reader will show you new articles when they are published. (The RSS feed for this site is http://washingtonpres.org/feed/, but if you ask Feedly to search for the feed using our church’s home page address (washingtonpres.org), it will find it.)

However you do it, thanks for following along!

Links for the Weekend (1/4/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Make Habits, Not Resolutions

Since it’s prime New Year’s Resolutions season, I thought I’d share this helpful article at The Gospel Coalition. Justin Whitmel Earley writes about the difference between resolutions and habits and explains why habits are so powerful.

Unlike resolutions, we actually become our habits. There are no changed lives outside of changed habits. And if we want to actually change, we need to take a sober look at where our habits are leading us.

Longing to See God’s Face

Over at Desiring God, Jon Bloom writes about the song “When We See Your Face” by Bob and Jordan Kauflin. He breaks down the words to the song and how they point him to the great fulfillment of longing in heaven. You can listen to the song at the top of the article.

For my soul very much needs this song’s reminder, especially as another year passes and I am another year older, still fighting against the relentless darkness, still waiting, still desiring something that has never actually appeared in my experience. Not yet. It remains a desire for a promised appearing — an appearing I’m growing to increasingly love (2 Timothy 4:8).

What if Some Christians Are Hypocrites?

Randy Alcorn tackles a tough question: How should we respond to those who reject Jesus because some Christians are hypocrites? After acknowledging that some Christians are hypocrites, Alcorn suggests that we explain why this isn’t a good reason to reject Jesus.

However, note what Paul and Silas did not say to the jailer:  “Believe in us—since we’re so great—and you will be saved.” No, they said, “Believe in Jesus and you’ll be saved.” The Good News is not about how great you and I are (thank God for that). It’s about how great Jesus is and the wonderful things He’s done for us.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog Sarah Wisniewski wrote about Branding and the Reputation of Jesus Christ. Check it out!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the groups referenced here.