Psalm 98

O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonderful things….. Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.” (Ps 98; 1,4)

“The Song” may have been an anticlimactic theme for some. I know it would have been for me a few years ago. I would have thought, “Song? I don’t hear anything akin to music playing in me”. And sadly, I was a teaching elder, a worship leader and the adult Sunday school director. Outwardly, it may have looked impressive. Jobs were getting done within the local church which helped keep its machinery running. The problem was –  my inner-machinery was starting to “run hot”.

Three warning lights were going off in me; emotions, relationships and physical health. These indicators had been flashing or some time. Others had seen it but few people were brave or skilled enough to approach a machine that is about to explode. Do you have people close enough to you who can recognize signs of a troubled heart or offer anything more than their sympathy even if they do?

Just before my engine completely locked up, I was fortunate enough to find three men who understood that the outer expression of our lives flows from the inner workings of our hearts.

The first was a virtual stranger who had just prayed for me; he asked, “Did you know you are full of religion?” I was taken aback. I wanted to remind him he was asked to pray for my back not comment on my life. Instead I just filed this away as one of those mysterious words which might make more sense in the future. Thank you friend, whoever you were!

The second man was Charlie Finck. He is a counselor with Liberty Cross Ministries. Even though I only spent a week with Charlie, I feel as though I owe Him my life. My praise for Charlie may sound dramatized. All I know is that when I showed up on his doorstep, other than a dirge, I had no perceived song playing in my heart. I left believing that I was meant to sing and that I was to attend to my song. Thank you so much Charlie!

I didn’t know exactly what my song was going to sound like. I just knew there was one within me. It took another person to help me discover what my song would sound like. The third member of God’s intervention team was Brad Sprague. Brad calls himself a life-coach. I think of him as a shepherd because he is a man who knows there are songs within us and he lives with a passion to hear them sung. With his toolkit he is able to help folks like me discover their songs and encourage us to begin singing them. Thank you so much Brad!

There is another essential element to escaping songlessness. It is the example and encouragement of other singers. Without their example and encouragement I might have imploded. I can’t list them for risk of leaving someone out. You know who you are. You are the ones God placed near me who have become my community of faith. Thank you for being my family!

Then there are those who have loved me and endured me in my songlessness. Oh how much I owe these people! My wife in particular, Daneille. She is God’s perfect compliment to me. While it would appear our polar opposite make-ups could produce an explosion, she has instead been a redemptive balance in our marriage relationship. I am certain she has rescued me from social isolation. Her joyful spirit has kept our ship afloat and on course through many a storm. Thank you Daneille!

Then of course there is the Lord Himself who heard my cry…..

Now, thanks be to You who have proven that You are able to keep me from stumbling and have enabled me to stand (and sing) boldly in the presence of Your glory, blameless with great joy. (a personalization of Jude 24)

I believe we are called to recognize the life of God within each other, to affirm it and encourage it. Frankly, when I read the New Testament, I don’t see professionals. I don’t see the gift of counseling and coaching mentioned per se. I do see the word “pastor” (or shepherd) which I suspect embodies what Charlie, Brad (and I suspect you and I) are called to do.

The local church, as it it is currently structured, even with the largest and best staffs, cannot cover all the shepherding needs within the body of Christ. There is simply not enough pros to go around. Hats off to those leaders who recognize this and are taking steps to promote authentic community among God’s people where spiritual fathers and mothers are intentionally being recognized, equipped and reproduced. Hats off to those leaders who are equipping the saints in this way for service – attempting to train us up, so that with the Word and the Spirit, we can serve as coaches, counselors and prophets to those within our relational networks, ultimately releasing new songs all around us.

How truly beautiful His Bride will become when His life finds its fullest expression through her and not a single child’s song will be left unsung. Each of us has a special “part” that is uniquely ours and is essential to the song God is composing and longs to hear. I wonder if this will not be The Song of the Lamb.

O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonderful things…..

Father, may You contend for full dominion over our hearts until every last remnant of opposition to Your kingdom is surrendered. Even if we are models of Christian service, give us the courage to recognize if we are songless, and grant that we might find those around us who are singing; who can model abundant life. Raise up a new generation of your family with prophetic and shepherding gifts who can promote healing and community by virtue of Your life within us. Amen.

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