"I was thinking..."
I was thinking…Pastor Steve
“Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.”
Psalm 33: 1-3 (NIV)
I was thinking about the Ken Burns' Country Music documentary Dona and I watched this last Fall. If it is rerun or you have the opportunity to catch it on Netflix or something like that, you would be enlightened by this series. Country music has changed dramatically over the years. From what started out as hill (billy) music to what is made now are light years apart. As you watch the series, you'll see how the changes in the music came about, reflected the nation's mood, and, sometimes, was ahead of the rest of the country on what was acceptable to talk about. (Remember Loretta Lynn's, "The Pill!")
While we were listening to country music, we were also watching and listening to Ricky Nelson, Elvis, the Beatles, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Phil Harris, Doris Day, Ann-Margaret, Linda Ronstadt, Emmy Lou Harris, and Dean Martin. Many of these people wouldn't get a chance to be famous today. Some don't have the "look" that is needed. Some don't have the vocal range. But you know what each of them had? A sound. When you heard them, you knew who was singing; you knew their voice. Today, people try to sound like someone else or to have the vocal gymnastics of their idol. It's okay to try and emulate someone, but, at some point, the real you has to come out. I know. I have tried to sing like someone else when I learned their songs, but, at some point, you have to own it.
So my musical appreciation is quite varied. I like bluegrass, country, rock, and ballads. Having been in school bands, I also like concert music and some marching music. Guitar in the music is the best, but I can enjoy good piano, sax, and trumpet as well. Again, artists try to sound like their idols, but, at some point, they need to develop their own sound.
I know, I've rambled. Here's my point. Religion has changed over the years, too. Sometimes it was very vocal, and, other times, it was very introverted. In our culture today, we have the opportunity to share with others how Jesus has helped us and made us who we are. It's very similar to the 1st Century that the Disciples lived in. The world had diverse religions back then. Some were open to new ideas, and some were staunchly against anything that threatened their views. We have one message: "Repent and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior." We can say it like they did in the Gospels or maybe like Billy Graham. We can be "in your face" about it or make some meaningful friendships and share in a more relatable tone. What we need to do is find our voice, how we want to sound to other people.
It takes some practice of getting used to saying it and asking the Holy Spirit to open up opportunities for us to say it to someone. However, I believe that, once we ask for His help and are willing to follow through, we'll be surprised at how easy it really is. We should all be theologians and apologists. Theologians are those who study the things of and about God. That should be you. Apologists are those who are willing to speak up about their belief in Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God and His Word. You don't have to have the text book answers, just a willingness to be honest. If you don't know, that's okay. That will sometimes spur us to study even more. That should be you, too.
When you share Jesus with others, use your voice. Maybe it's easier for you to "sound" like someone else to start with, but, eventually, you'll find the way that works best for you. You need to listen to how the Holy Spirit is leading you, understand how others have impacted you in your walk, and realize who or what led you to Jesus. That's your story. That's what you need to share. That's your voice and your song. Praise Him by testifying to the Love and Grace Jesus has shown you. Sing it loud and proud this year so others will hear it. Have a great New Year and God bless.