I’m at the end of day 2 of teaching in Visag, India. We’ve continued to have pastors come, and I met one tonight who traveled over 600 miles to be with us. Amazing. There are now about 120 pastors attending, along with about 30 women.
Today I addressed the topic of What Do We Sing? However, before we started I shared that I felt God wanted specifically to encourage some of the men there. I shared Psalm 40:17 with them:
As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!
I asked if any of the men had been feeling "poor and needy," unaware of God’s care for them. About 30 of the men responded. I asked the men around them to pray for them, and then I shared a spontaneous song that I felt communicated the Lord’s heart for them. It was a little different in that I had to wait for each line to be translated into Telugu. Some of the pastors were in tears as the Holy Spirit applied the truth of God’s Word and the Gospel to their hearts.
My first point of the teaching was that God wants us to sing His Word. It is our responsibility and privilege as pastors and leaders to help our people learn, remember, obey, and treasure the Word of God. Singing is one of the ways we do that. At the end of that session I had everyone turn to Psalm 117.
Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!
As I played a progression on the keyboard, I asked them to sing out the words to the Psalm, making up the melody as they went along. For a few minutes we enjoyed feasting on the words to Psalm 117 in Telegu. One pastor shared afterwards that God encouraged him in the midst of he and his wife still trying to conceive after 12 years.
Later on I shared how God wants us to sing of His worthiness, and His works. I spent the last session focusing on the greatest of God’s works, the giving of His Son to be our substitutionary sacrifice.
After the meeting came the highlight of the day. I spent about an hour with 8-10 of the main worship leaders and songwriters of the churches. I shared with them how important their role is in equipping the churches. Many of the villages they work in contain a large number of illiterate people. I reminded them that while people may not always remember the teachings, they can remember the songs. I shared ways to direct people’s attention to the truth that songs contain, rather than allowing people to be affected simply by the music. I described the problem of songs in which the quality of the music outweighs the quality of the lyrics. We talked about ways to bring musical variety when your only accompaniment is drums, and the importance of writing songs that explain the meaning of the cross of Christ. At numerous points, one of the men stopped me to translate for a couple of the brothers whose English is minimal. Tomorrow these men will be helping me in various ways I teach on How Do We Sing? These are the men who will sow the seeds I’ve planted on this trip into the other leaders.
It was a humbling experience to share with men who have risked more for the Gospel in their lives than I’m sure I ever will. I was very aware of God’s presence and emotionally affected as I communicated the importance of helping people see the glory of Jesus Christ, rather than the glory of our music. At the end I prayed that God would produce many songs through them, and that He would use them to build up His church in many places. We’ll meet again tomorrow afternoon for questions and follow-up.
It is a pure privilege to be among these faithful men, who daily lay their lives down for the Gospel. I want to be like them.
I’m very grateful to those of you who have been praying for me. Your prayers are being answered. Please don’t stop!