Introducing HFM Conservatory

Check out our latest adventure, HFM Conservatory. We are accepting new students now. Lessons starting early April 2018. Click the link below for more information.

HFM Conservatory

Since our move to Farmington, Missouri, last summer, we have been getting settled in our new surroundings and have now begun to develop more of our Hallock Family Ministries and the opportunities for service that we will offer. One of these services is private instruction in piano, voice, and music theory. Please click on the link above to check out our prices and to learn more about the conservatory.

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Unexpected Loss…How Should Christians Respond?

There are many people right at this moment facing an unexpected and sometimes tragic loss as I write this article. Loss of any kind is difficult to maneuver through but when it comes out of nowhere, it can almost be too much to bear. Within the last 12 hours, I have had four friends who have lost a spouse, parent or a child unexpectedly. I have also had friends within this last couple of weeks show up to work only to find out they have been terminated from their position. I have personally talked with a very dear friend who has lost a beloved pet, who was, as all pet owners know, a member of the family, too.

While I am not equating the loss of a pet/job on par with the loss of a spouse, parent or child, it is still a loss and can make it difficult for me to see or understand God’s plan for my life. There are a couple of points I’d like to address when it comes to unexpected loss and how I as Christians should respond within those first few moments, days and possibly weeks. First I would like to address how one can respond when the loss happens to “you.” Then I will discuss how one can respond when loss happens to “others.” Then I would like to wrap it up with a short word of how God showed up in unexpected ways during a recent unexpected loss that I experienced and how men from the Bible helped me to respond.

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First of all, when loss happens to you, it is personal, it cuts the deepest, and can often destroy all aspects of your life. Often times loss can be as insignificant as misplacing your phone, keys, wallet or other material items. How many times do you lose your temper over one of these things? But what exactly happens when we experience life altering loss? A death, loss of a job, failed relationship or loss of a home. These are all changes that directly and immediately alter one’s every day routine or way of life. Getting up at the same time every morning to go to work or have breakfast with your spouse or even that evening phone call to check on your mom and make sure she made it through the storm last night. Things that we wouldn’t give a second thought to until we no longer have it. Immediate feelings of grief, despair, sadness, a sorrow so deep that it feels as though someone is crushing your heart and there seems to be no end in sight can quickly cloud our mind and confuse our thought process. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a time to be upset and experience these feelings. After all, God tells us,

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;  a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-12 (ESV)

However, we must make sure not to get lost in this time of grief and loss. During this difficult time it is important to allow the body of Christ to minister to your spirit and your physical and material needs. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries. While you do need to allow the body of Christ to help bring comfort and support it is important to feel comfortable saying, “not today,” or “I just need to spend some time alone.” Sometimes, we can only truly process our feeling when we are alone with God’s word and a cup of coffee.

It is okay to cry out and ask God why this happened.  It is acceptable to be mad at God. You can be mad at God and not be happy about your situation. You can be angry at that which has caused your loss (an insecure supervisor, a cheating spouse, cancer, a car wreck, Alzheimer’s Disease, Fibrous Dysplasia/McCune-Albright Syndrome, other medical conditions, etc…) but don’t let your anger fester. Get it out of your system and release into God’s most capable hands. God is much better equipped to handle our problems than we are. Whenever you are experiencing these feelings take hold of your thoughts and feelings and turn them into prayers of lament, prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of deliverance, prayers of comfort, etc… By taking your focus and placing it on God and His promises you are simply allowing Christ to take on your pain and grief and are allowing Him to carry it. In all of Job’s suffering and loss God reminds us that even in Job’s asking, “why?”, and in his anger and frustration, his lack of understanding, “Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” Job 1:22 (ESV)

When responding to someone else’s unexpected loss it can be a bit tricky. Everyone reacts to loss in different ways. I have personally seen people cry uncontrollably, shut down and shut out the world around them, lash out in anger, and even laugh and tell jokes. This tends to happen because we are human. That’s it. Nothing left to say. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. People react differently to loss because of their experiences. Some people haven’t experience a loss before while others may have experienced much loss. Either way emotions are going to rise up. Because we aren’t sure how others will react it can be intimidating or uncomfortable when trying to console or offer comfort to those who have experienced loss. Don’t let this stop you from offering a shoulder to cry on, or bringing by a meal, or offering to watch the kids, to mow the lawn, to pick up the kids from daycare or school. Sometimes, offering to help with very simple tasks are a huge weight off of the shoulders of those who are struggling.

When words fail to adequately express or convey your condolences or sympathies simply be there. Be available for some of those simple, every day tasks that I mentioned previously. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone to be the hands and feet of Christ. One of the most important things to remember when comforting or consoling someone who has just experienced loss is the rush to judgment or the “I told you so” syndrome. Whether or not you “knew better” or could see it coming does not give you the authority to ignore compassion, mercy, empathy, and grace to point out what could have been done differently. Simply listen and offer your love and support.

Many of you know that I have experienced an unexpected loss of a job. I have also experienced the loss of loved ones. I am currently walking with my wife in our journey as we continue to transition to our next season of ministry all while helping to cope and care with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis for my mother in love. Through all of this loss and stresses on our family it has been easy to fall into that trap of “why me” or that lonesome party we refer to as “PITY.” I have found that it has been in the depths of the valleys in my life that I have grown the most in my relationship with Christ. It is often when things are going bad, life is weighing you down, bills go unpaid, loss of a home, loss of friends, loss of family, that God is calling you to move closer under His shelter.  Move in, further under His wing. Have you ever noticed that during a storm Eagles will gather their babies in under their wings and protect them from the rain, wind and all the frights that the lightning and thunder bring. Not only do the Eagles provide shelter, but the warmth of from their bodies keep the temperature of the baby birds at the right level and provide a sense of security. When scary things are happening that are out of my control, what better place to run to than my Heavenly Father. He will shelter me under His wing. He will sustain me with strength and deliver me from my fears and ailments.

In closing, remember that loss happens to everyone at different seasons in their life. When it happens in your life, remember to keep your eyes focused on Christ. Allow yourself time to experience and feel the pain of loss and all of the emotions that come with it. Don’t let your emotions lead you to sin. If you do, remember that Jesus offers forgiveness and grace to all who will receive Him and ask Him to forgive you. His love is greater than anything that can come against us. When loss happens to others be willing and available to offer help with daily tasks and be present in their time of need. Resist the urge to “fix” or “judge” the situation. Trust me, God will allow the Holy Spirit to bring conviction, if conviction is needed. He doesn’t need you to deliver judgement to them. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you are part of the body of Christ. Remember, to be His hands and His feet.

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Supporting Hallock Family Ministries just got easier!

Hello friends of Hallock Family Ministries. Just wanted to remind you that you can partner with us in many ways. As you may already know, Hallock Family Ministries seeks to be intentional in all our ministry areas. Our intent is to see Jesus shared in everything we do. Therefore, everything that we set out to do has the intent to build a relationship with those we meet in order that we may be able to share the love of Christ with them. Many of you have been asked how you can support Hallock Family Ministries. “Ask and you shall receive…”

Here is the link where you can go to give:  https://hallockfamilyministries.churchcenteronline.com/giving

Giving to Hallock Family Ministries helps you to partner with the Kingdom work that God is leading us to pursue.  For more information or to inquire about partnership ministries, please contact Isaac, hallockisaac@gmail.com.

If you’d like, check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hallockfamilyministries/ and drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.

God Bless you all.

Isaac and Lynette Hallock

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Here’s to an Intentional 2016!

Hello friends of Hallock Family Ministries.  We are so excited to be heading into 2016.  There are so many opportunities for us to partner with your churches and families in ministry this year.  As you may already know, Hallock Family Ministries seeks to be intentional in all our ministry areas.  Our intent is to see Jesus shared in everything we do.  Therefore, everything that we set out to do has the intent to build a relationship with those we meet in order that we may be able to share the love of Christ with them.  Many of you have been asking how you can support Hallock Family Ministries and/or our church plant in the Godfrey/Alton area.

Ask and you shall receive…

Here is the link where you can go to give:  https://hallockfamilyministries.churchcenteronline.com/giving

Giving to Hallock Family Ministries helps you to partner with the Kingdom work that God is leading us to pursue.  This includes ministry through Hallock Family Ministries as well as our Godfrey/Alton area church plant.  For more information or to inquire about partnership ministries, please contact Isaac, hallockisaac@gmail.com.

Through the month of January you can hear Pastor Isaac preach at White Hall First Baptist Church in White Hall, IL.  If you’d like, check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hallockfamilyministries/ or stop by White Hall First Baptist Church at 10:30 AM any Sunday during January 2016.  We’d love to see you there.

God Bless you all and have a wonderful 2016.

Isaac and Lynette Hallock

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Our Journey at Shriners…

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We checked LilyGrace in today at Shriners Hospital in St. Louis at the Metabolic Research Center.  Hopefully, we will find out more about her diagnosis of Fibrous Dysplasia and learn new possible treatments.  There was some confusion at church about her stay in Shriners this week.  We are not here for a surgery.  We are here to begin the research process with the Metabolic team.  They are one of the best in the nation and we are blessed to have been accepted into their research program.  I think the confusion could have been due to the failed surgery at Children’s and the doctor’s recommendation for LilyGrace to be a patient at Shriners.

Today has been a long day.  We have a little better understanding of Fibrous Dysplasia and also an assurance, from the doctor that her bone tumors are not cancerous.  We are very grateful for this affirmation and are a bit more at ease.  We do understand that FD lesions can possibly become cancerous later down the road, but that is not the norm.

We’ve only been here one day and are already extremely impressed with the doctors, nurses and staff at Shriners.  We have been greeted with warmth and compassion at every turn.  We are actually in the family quarters area which is nicer than most hotels.  Being a children’s hospital it is geared to children.  However, this Dad felt right at home with the air hockey table, xbox, ps4 station and the wii u.  There is a basketball hoop shooting game that LilyGrace and I enjoyed.  She hasn’t quite got the hang of making the baskets but has really enjoyed throwing the balls in the air.  In her defense, she has made a few baskets.  By the end of the week, I’m sure she will be beating us with no problems.

We would like to ask y’all to continue to pray for LilyGrace and the rest of the family.  She has been a little nervous about this week but is finding her stay at Shriners to be very luxurious for now.  We will see how she is feeling after her blood work/tests tomorrow.

That’s pretty much all for now.  Lynette and I just wanted to give a quick update.  We have had several texts and Facebook messages asking about everything.

Thanks for your prayers,

Isaac, Lynette and LilyGrace

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New Logo for Hallock Family Ministries

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Hallock Family Ministries just acquired our very first official Logo.  In an effort for folks to be able to identify Hallock Family Ministries and also learn more about who we are and what ministries we offer we created a logo.

Here is a brief description of what Hallock Family Ministries is all about.

Hallock Family Ministries exists to help guide people into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ through mentoring and discipleship. Specializing in music ministry, multi-media ministry, worship leadership training, children’s and family ministry, mentoring training, marriage enrichment, administrative assistance and women’s ministry.

There are many various types of services we offer in all of the aforementioned ministry areas.  Consulting, in-house training events, discipleship and mentoring events and one on one lessons in music theory, piano, voice and beginning guitar.  Between Lynette and I we also offer mentoring for folks who desire a deeper understanding and a refinement of their skills in worship leadership and women’s ministry.  Most of our services are free with a love offering.  However, for more detailed events we do ask for a small honorarium.

We are able to provide vocal, choral, praise team (voice and band) clinics.  Hallock Family Ministries also provides special music and pulpit supply for your various church service needs:  special events, homecomings, christmas parties,  discipleship classes or something as simple as pulpit and music supply for your regular worship gatherings.  Some our most memorable times have been a night of worship where my family comes to minister to your church community.

For more information, please contact Isaac or Lynette Hallock.
Isaac’s email – hallockisaac@gmail.com
Lynette’s email – lynettehallock77@gmail.com

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No News is Good News, Right?

It’s almost IMG_0319time for that annual gathering of friends and family as we all sit down to that gluttonous meal we all refer to as Thanksgiving!  As I have been pondering about all that I am thankful for through out this entire month I realize that my family and I have so much to be thankful for.  Overall, my family is healthy and physically/emotionally able to do most anything we would like to do.  Most importantly, we are also all spiritually healthy.  This is not a proclamation that we are all free from sin or that I feel as though we are where we need to be with the Lord; quite the contrary.

The Bible is clear that we are all sinners and each and everyone of us fall short of the glory of God on a daily basis.  The healthiness comes into place though, when we realize that truth and lean on the saving grace and forgiveness that only Jesus Christ offers.  Lynette and I would attest to the simple truth that we are walking closely with the Lord, however, we would like to be closer.  There are always areas in which we can improve or grow closer to the Lord – to become more and more like Him.  So, how does this tie into my title – “No News is Good News, Right?”  Well, I’m glad that you asked.

Many of you are already aware of our journey with LilyGrace and her bone tumors.  We have had the second MRI but are still waiting for conclusive results.  Her Doctor and his wife just had a baby and he has been out of the office the last couple of days, including the day that LilyGrace had her MRI, last Friday, November 13.  He is now back in the office and we are waiting.  Most people have heard, “No news is good news.” We wait, hoping and praying for a good prognosis as a result of this MRI.

The Bible tells us to in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  Wow! This passage of Scripture either really encourages you or it really convicts you.  Some people would not use the word patient as a character description for me in a lot of areas.  I think they would consider me very patient when it comes to dealing with people in a pastoral since, but being patient on other things, such as a stop light, other drivers, the drive through line at any fast (slow) food chain…  I think you can see where I’m heading with this.

I have really made a concerted effort this past year to have patience in all things but this area of waiting is really trying me.  I have allowed Satan to have a small stronghold in this area because I have found myself anxiously awaiting the results of this MRI.  My mind has slipped into that realm of thinking, “what if…?”  What if this is cancer?  What if they say its inoperable? What if there isn’t anything they can do to relieve the intense and chronic pain she is experiencing?  Oh, now I see what the apostle Paul was talking about when he penned Philippians 4:6.

Becoming anxious invites the enemy into your mind.  Did you know that Satan does not have dominion or authority over your mind?  I mean, unless you invite him in and give him free reign.  God is the only being that is omniscient and omnipresent.  God is the only one that can read your mind.  Satan cannot know what you are thinking unless you tell him.  He can make a very educated prediction by observing your past behavior, but he cannot know your thoughts and mind, like our Heavenly Father knows.  I believe that is why Jesus verbalized, “Get thee behind me, Satan.”  Jesus also verbalized a command to the demons, who were possessing a man, to leave him and move into a heard of pigs.  There is a reason that the demons shudder at the very mention (sound) of the name of Jesus.  There is power in the name of Jesus.

I’ve started vocalizing more and more of my individual prayers, so that Satan hears who has authority in my home, over my children, over my marriage, over my health, over my mind and everything else that I am.  Jesus Christ.  It is Jesus Christ who has the authority over my life and my all.  It is in His name and in His power that I pray and beseech the Lord for intervention in my daughter’s medical issues, in all of my kids’ lives, in my marriage, in my home and in my search for gainful employment.  Don’t confuse what I’m trying to say – I am not saying or supporting a prosperity gospel or a name it and claim it gospel.  I don’t believe that if you just speak something it will come true.  What I am doing is reminding myself that it is through the grace and mercy of our Heavenly Father, the work of Jesus Christ, and the moving of the Holy Spirit that I can have faith in a Great Physician, the Healer, the Author and Perfecter of my faith and the very One, who by His nature is the Creator of all things.  It is because of the name of Jesus that we can cast out demons and pray for miraculous healing.  That is what I am praying for this Thanksgiving.

This Thanksgiving, I am inviting my family and friends to join with me in praying that God Almighty would find favor with me and my family.  That He would put a hedge of protection around my family, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  That through the power of the Jesus Christ we would live in the forgiveness that only His blood purchased for anyone who would call upon His name.  That through the leading and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we would speak boldly to the enemy and tack back souls and property that belongs to the Kingdom of God.  Know that what He has done and is doing for our family He can and will do for you, too.  If you are ready to start over and leave your past discretions, lifestyle and sins in the past, simply ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins.  He will not only forgive you of your sins but He will make you new.  If you would like to know more about how to find peace with Christ I would love to talk with you.  Feel free to comment on my post and I will be happy to follow up.  You can also send me an email at hallockisaac@gmail.com.

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Not For the Faint at Heart: Church Planting and Childhood Illness

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Where to begin…?  Anyone who has served alongside me in ministry knows that I am constantly quoting or blurting out song lyrics with whatever conversation I am having.  Typically, I am doing so in song.  It’s just not right to do it without singing it!!  So, in my typical fashion, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”

It has been well over a year since my last post.  We have had a very challenging 18 months. At the end of last summer, 2014, I was let go from my worship pastor position at Heartland.  The church, for financial reasons, had decided to go in a different direction and were cutting my position.  I have since served as a guest worship leader for a four month stent to close out 2014 at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Carlinville, IL.  From there I went to Logan Street Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon, IL, where I have been serving ever since as Interim Worship & Media Pastor.  We are very blessed to be able to serve with such a great group of believers from Carlinville and Mt. Vernon, but God is bringing us back close to our home.

For well over 9 years God has been showing me a lot about church administration and governance.  I have seen something that would fit under a “what to do” category and I’ve seen a lot of things that would fall into a “what not to do” heading.  These last 4 1/2 years I have prayed and wrestled with the Lord.   Finally, after being challenged by a fellow pastor and asked what I was running from, I have fully surrendered to the Lord’s call and will be planting a church in the greater Godfrey area.  It has been interesting last couple of months as I have been walking through a church planting assessment process with the North American Mission Board.  There are so many things that God is teaching me.

In the last 5 years, I’ve not spoken a word about this with anyone other than my wife, until this past spring.  I decided to bounce the idea off of one of my closest friends.  The prevailing reason behind my decision to share this was to get confirmation that I was crazy and that God wouldn’t call a “worship pastor” to plant a church.  How crazy is it then, that my dear friend of almost 20 years was so excited for me and affirmed this call upon my life from their observations of my ministry.  I will always remember one of the biggest things he said to me, “Isaac, when you finally give into the Lord’s call, be prepared for great attacks from the adversary.”

A few months later, our youngest daughter, LilyGrace [pictured above] was diagnosed with a bone tumor in her right tibia.  Doctors were very concerned.  It was a very serious and scary situation.  We have later found out that she has been diagnosed with Fibrous Dysplasia, Scoliosis and Hyper Mobility Disorder.  This is still a very serious situation and we have seen several doctors and most of them are baffled as Fibrous Dysplasia is a rare disease and to top it off, LilyGrace has an even rarer type of Fibrous Dysplasia.  We have had a failed surgery that was an attempt to relieve chronic pain and provide stability to her bone.  We are waiting to the end of November so that we can spend 3 days to a week at Shriner’s Hospital in St. Louis to determine other possible treatments and prognosis.

Since the failed surgery in September a second tumor has been found in her right femur.  At this point, they have called in a Pediatric Oncologist.  LilyGrace is scheduled for another MRI and X-ray this Friday evening.  In addition to all of these developments with LilyGrace, I have put in my notice at Logan Street so that I can hopefully, find full-time employment closer to home beginning in January.  We continue to pray for healing for LilyGrace and that He would provide a stable income to help relieve that burden from our family as we continue this journey.

As a family, we’ve studied the life of Job and have always been encouraged by His faith and trust in the Lord.  I never thought that the advice my friend gave me about the adversary, would begin this quickly, let alone attacks on my children.  How does this all relate to church planting?  I’m glad you asked.  God’s Word tells us that “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.”  God will use this situation with LilyGrace and how we respond through the journey to bring honor and glory to Him.

I’ve been asked if we will stop our efforts at planting a church or at least put it on hold several different times now.  Each time, while tempted to say, “yes,” I am more emboldened and encouraged to press on, towards the prize and finish strong.  While my family will always come first and should always come first, God can use this journey for us to share His love with those He brings in our path.  Church planting is about planting seeds of the gospel and discipling believers in the faith so that they, too may go out, share the gospel and disciple others.  Jesus centered/focused relationships is a a primary goal and desire for my church plant.

Lynette and I believe, wholeheartedly that God will use LilyGrace and her medical condition to develop relationships with people in our community.  Authentic relationships that will encourage, inspire, challenge and sharpen not only me but my family and those whom we interact with.  It is our desire to be used of God to further His Kingdom and further grow His church, where we are planted.

Lynette and I would like to ask you to join us in prayer for this new direction as we follow His call to plant a church.  We invite you to join us to continue to pray for LilyGrace and that God would bring a healing to her body.  We pray that He will use her to further His kingdom.  We pray that she would be able to find rest and security in the arms of Jesus Christ.  We pray that He would give understanding and patience to Abbi and Eli as they too are greatly affected by this diagnosis and new direction.  Pray that God will give them compassion and mercy to extend to LilyGrace, Lynette and me; when our patience and compassion has failed.  Pray for those folks that will come into contact with our family.  Pray that God will already begin softening the hearts and preparing them to receive His gift of love.  Pray that we will be diligent in sharing His love, Jesus Christ with them.

I will leave you with one final thought:
Church planting and childhood illness shouldn’t go hand in hand.  But, when they do,
trust that the Almighty is big enough to handle it.  Have faith that He who has called
you to great and mighty things will complete what He started in you.  Also,
remember to gird up your loins and prepare yourself for the battle.  Church planting
and childhood illness are not for the faint of heart.

God’s blessings and peace be to you all.

Isaac

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Congregational Singing: To Sing or Not To Sing…

To sing or not to sing… that is NOT the question.  Over the 20 years that I have been leading congregational worship services I have been faced with a very perplexing question:  “Why is our congregation not singing?”  To which I have been given several suggestions of what “I should do” to entice “them” to sing.  Many of the comments range from subtle suggestions of their preferred style or taste in music to the very blatant responses regarding instrumentation (i.e. drums, guitar or …wait for it… organ), certain voices on microphone or off microphone.  The suggestions pour in like sweet tea in a glass of ice on a hot summer day:  if you don’t put an end to it soon you will have an empty pitcher and no more to share and no one to share it with.

As a worship pastor/minister of music I struggle with many of these same thoughts.  Why is it that our congregation doesn’t sing? What if I add more “traditional” music or what if I add more “contemporary” music?  What if we turn off the screens and sing directly from the hymnal and only the hymnal?  What if, what if, what if…  Please.  Are you seriously going to tell me that the congregation will sing if you give them what they want to sing?  PAUSE RIGHT THERE!!  I have heard this argument before and I have personally tried this in many churches.  It is not true.  It is a fallacy.  For every person you gain, singing a song they like, you lose another one because you’re singing a song they don’t like.

Before I go any farther I’d like to ask you to take a quick poll. 

In order to fully understand congregational singing we have to know where it came from.  There are many passages in both the Old and New Testaments that talk about singing to the Lord.  Many of these passages refer to singing a new song to the Lord.  Yes, I said, um, I mean God said – a “NEW” song.  But in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 do tell us that we are to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  But it doesn’t end there.  We are not only to sing those types of songs but to sing them to God and to each other,  i.e. congregational singing.  It doesn’t say, “come to church and let somebody else sing those songs to me and for me.”  If we know what the Bible says about these things and we still refuse to sing then we either don’t believe God’s Word, God Himself or believe that it was just a suggestion and not actually a command.  Either way we have moved the focus from singing to God to our own selfish desires of style and type of music.

Are you still with me?  I hope so.  The point is this: not whether to sing or not to sing but – who is the singing for?  The singing is not necessarily for me or you.  It’s first and primary focus is to glorify the Lord and give Him all of the worth that He is do.  How many of you have every sung to your children when putting them to sleep?  Have you ever been so happy that you whistled a tune or you made up some lyrics and sang a melody (even if it was by yourself)?  That is an expression of joy and gratitude.  An expression of love and compassion.  God wants His children to sing to Him.  To give Him praise and glory.  So, you can see that the focus of congregational singing should be on God, to God and for God not our selfish preferences.

Please understand I am not saying that familiarity and knowledge of songs is not important to aid in congregational singing.  However, familiarity and knowledge of a song should not dictate or equate our preferences.  As a worship leader, let me just say that there are many Sunday’s that I sing songs that I personally don’t care for or even like.  Yes, the lyrics are uplifting and some even straight from Bible, but the tune or the style that it has found itself is not my preferred style of music.  Familiarity and knowledge of songs alone can and will assist a congregation in its ability to sing together.  Just be careful not to let the argument slip into a preferential war.

As far as getting a congregation to sing I conducted an experiment.  Through the course of approximately 6 months we utilized only hymns from the hymnal and sang them with fervor as we lead.  Unfortunately, there was no increase of congregational singing.  For a couple of the services we even left off the screens and encouraged the congregation to pick up the hymnal and sing.  A few folks may have sung out more than normal but we did not inspire more people to sing.  That leads me to the conclusion that the average church goer has given over their responsibility to praise God in song to the people on the platform.  This is where I would like to point you to another article that was written by a man named Bob Kauflin.  You can find his article by clicking on this link:  http://www.worshipmatters.com/2014/02/10/i-worship-god-by-singing-you-should-too/

Please note that I am not endorsing worshipmatters.com as the go to authority on Scripture.  That authority is given to God through the working of the Holy Spirit.  It is well worth the read and I pray that this post has challenged you to truly think about your part/responsibility in congregational singing.  So if “to sing or not to sing is not the question” then what is the question.  The correct question regarding congregational singing and your responsibility is:  “Am I going to be obedient to God’s commands and sing to Him with all of my heart?”

I pray that it has challenged you to get into God’s Word and search for what God has said to His children, the church about singing to Him.  God bless you as you continue to your journey as a disciple of Christ.

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Peace be Still – Piece of Steel

picture found at Fox2Now.com regarding Conceal to Carry story in Illinois, Gov. Quinn

Events from this evening remind me of why I support the 2nd Amendment.  I walked in on a home invasion this evening.  It all started when I just arrived at church for an evening of ministry and service when we received a phone call from ADT monitoring systems.  I was slightly upset thinking that Beignet (our dog) had gotten out of her room and had set off one of the motion detectors.  So, Abbi, Eli and I went to the house to reset the alarm and put Beignet back in her room.  I had discernment enough to have Abbi and Eli stay in the car until I reset the alarm.  As I entered the front door I had this overwhelming sense to stand still and not move.  Then I heard the alarm say, “back door open.”  I waited a few minutes and moved on into the kitchen and living room and noticed our back door was open.  Beignet had not gotten out but someone had entered our home.

 

I called ADT back and they gave me a run down of the report.  It is evident that our home was breached.  It appears as though nothing has been taken from our home.  Still not sure how exactly the got in through the back door.  We have been very careful about making sure our doors were locked but one never knows for sure.  We had a visit from a couple of fine deputies of Madison County Sheriff’s department and checked out our entire house.

After we felt there was nothing more for us to do and that had secured the home again we headed back to church.  While we were on our way back Lynette and I thanked God that it appears nothing was taken.  We are thankful that I had the kids stay in the car.  We are thankful that nobody got hurt.  I am thankful that God is our Protector and our source of security.  I am also very grateful that I live in the United States of America and that we have been blessed with the 2nd Amendment.

From a very early age, my dad taught me how to properly use guns and to respect the power of firearms.  I have been waiting now for my new FOID card to arrive so that I can teach Lynette and my children how to properly use a weapon for self-defense and also respect the power and responsibility that come with owning a gun.  So, Illinois, please take care of business and get Lynette’s and my FOID cards to us as soon as possible.  I will also say that I am very much in favor of a conceal to carry law in Illinois, the only state currently without some level of conceal to carry provision/law.

Those of you who know me well know that I love a good laugh and even though this is a serious matter, I am very blessed that it turned out the way it did.  It is only because of God’s grace that things turned out this way.  When I was sharing this with the adult choir tonight after rehearsal I was asked if I had a baseball bat that I could keep at home for protection.  Being the person that I am, I remembered a Madea movie and shared with them one of my favorite quotes – Madea is sharing her secret to having peace in potentially dangerous situations and she says, Jesus said, peace be still and therefore I keeps me a piece of steel on my person.  In other words she keeps her “piece” (gun) on her at all times.

I can’t help but wonder if I had my piece with me when I entered my home tonight, I know that I would have had more confidence in entering my own home, while my security alarm was going off.  The 2nd Amendment isn’t just for protecting oneself in a home invasion or for hunting purposes but against invasions foreign and domestic.  My prayer is that through my encounter tonight that people become more aware and educated on why we have the 2nd Amendment.  God bless America!

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