Our God’s not dead, He’s surely alive;
He’s living on the inside roaring like a lion . .
I really am.
But I am also thankful, bless the Lord, o my soul, that:
Just as I am, without one plea, But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidst me come to Thee, O, Lamb of God, I come! I Come!
As a child, I attended a little country church. We had one of those cool boards that showed attendance by the week and month. Also how much offering we collected.
And we had a pianist named Juanita. She played mainly by ear (how do you people do that?) and could play any song in the Baptist Hymnal. Playing by ear also meant she played at her own pace and to match her mood. We could go from slow and traditional to rapid and charismatic all in one verse.
These songs we would sing have stuck with me. If I may borrow a phrase from our Southern friends, they have become “soul food” for me. (Lord help me, I consider Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams soul food too but that is another story.)
The moment I hear these hymns, even tucked into an upbeat praise and worship song (think of all the variations you know of Amazing Grace), I go right back home. To that little country church. And later to the church in town.
Some Sunday afternoons, we would visit nursing homes and lead them in a worship service. We’d hand out that Baptist Hymnal. Then, we’d walk around and help each resident find the right page. Except for those who didn’t want our help. Because really page 17 looks just like page 54 when your sight has faded.
I remember one time we had just started singing a song. And everyone always knew the first verse. The chorus was rocking - Baptist style. Then we hit the second and third verses. Or in the case of Just As I Am verses four, five and six. And the singing would invariably start fading out. Many of these elderly men and women weren’t actually reading the words. They sang from memory. Kind of like playing by ear. Singing from the heart.
But that day, a beautiful black lady kept singing. Apparently blind, but she knew every word of that hymn. The memory of her not just singing, but sending up a praise offering, moves me every time.
That’s the music of my childhood. Now, I listen to Christian radio most of the time in the car. I would put our music minister, Larry, and his mainly contemporary style, up against anyone leading worship today. He probably can’t compete with Juanita but...
I am not here to make an argument against contemporary vs. traditional music in the church. I believe any music that draws me nearer, nearer precious Lord is just fine.
And I still know the cross upon which Jesus died is an old, rugged cross. I will cling to that and exchange it someday for a crown.
I started blogging in January of this year. It’s been a brand new experience. One of the main networking tools for a blogger is Twitter. It serves a valuable purpose and can introduce you to people all around the world. Men and women of different lifestyles and faiths.
But Twitter can be too much. Noise. Believers and our Church are family to me. All of you. And like family we disagree. We fight. We make mistakes. We don’t always learn from them.
Sometimes on Twitter a few of our family members get too critical for my taste. God has given them a vision for change. But they forget kindness is one of the greatest catalysts for change.
A few weeks ago, this social media tool left me feeling suffocated. I didn’t feel like I was seeing God clearly in the messages people were conveying.
I longed for something that would once again plant my feet on higher ground. I pulled out my CDs of old hymns and pressed the play button. In no time at all, I was in the sweet by and by.
Give me that old time religion. Because sometimes in this crazy world, you just need some good, old soul food.