Make a Joyful Choice

Psalm 100 is one of my favorite psalms. I memorized the KJV as a child and love the phrase “joyful noise” in verse one. Eugene Peterson’s “Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence” in The Message is also a very vivid image. Whatever you call it, there is no sound that delights a parent more than joyful noise coming from their children. God reminded me this week that joyful choices also bless a parent’s heart. Hear David’s beautiful song.

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. (KJV)

There is great wisdom and comfort in this beautiful psalm. I can sing myself into God’s presence. He made me. His home is my home. He is beautiful, all-generous, and I can count on Him forever. His truth is passed from one generation to the next for eternity. That encourages me to be thankful and make joyful choices which will allow me to become who God wants me to be.

Choices come with every step and determine the direction of my heart. Joyful choices are not about happiness or fulfillment; they are about becoming who God created me to be. Our parents play a big role in our decision making process, and Pastor John told me his father was always asking, “Chi e chi fa?” He describes the phrase and what it came to mean in his message on Genesis 12:1-4 (“Fully Arrive or Fully Thrive” March 16, 2014)

“Among the values my father cultivated in his three sons was a reflective nature prompted by a light-hearted question posed in Sicilian, ‘Chi é chi fa?’ which we understood to mean, ‘What are you doing?’ Or, ‘What’s going on?’ Or perhaps, ‘Who are you that you are doing this?’ Rather than becoming cliché in our family, over the years this question moved us beyond, ‘What are you doing?’ as in right now, today, to, ‘What are you doing with your life?’ ‘What are you making of yourself?’ ‘Where are you going in life?’ ‘Who are you going to be?’” 

The simple Sicilian phrase and a picture of Salvatore in John’s office were part of the lessons God had for me last week. In the picture, Salvatore is on the floor beside his granddaughter Jennifer with his chin in his hands. There’s a playful grin on his face and a sparkle in his eye. I imagine God has the same look as He asks me who I’m going to be. Daddy had a few questions of his own, but they reflected a much different tone. I constantly heard, “What in the hell are you doing?” or “Why in the hell did you do that?” Foy’s face was usually twisted with anger as he vented his frustration with my choices. Salvatore was more subtle than Foy, but both parents shared a sincere desire to know what their children were doing, where they were going in life, and who they would become. God has the same desire.

All fathers want their children to make good decisions. They know good choices make all the difference in life. Mothers know the same. As parents, we want to fix bad choices or make the way easy for our children, but we know that never works. Children must make their own choices and live with the consequences of those decisions. God knows bad choices teach tough lessons, but that doesn’t make it any easier for Him to watch our suffering. Daddy did his best to keep me from making stupid decisions because he knew they would hurt me. His intentions were good; he simply wanted the best for me.

The lessons last week were difficult ones, but I’m a little closer to the me God wants me to be. If I took a wrong turn on a road trip, I wouldn’t sit and complain for hours or beat myself up for making a bad choice. I would turn around and get on the right path as soon as possible. Moving forward sometimes means turning around. God will always be patient as He continues to ask, “Who are you going to be?” or “Where are you going in life?” I know He smiles broadly when He hears, “Whoever you want me to be and wherever you want me to go!” Joyful choices are the ones that show I want the same thing God wants for me. What God wants is so much more than anything I could ever imagine on my own. The journey is what matters. As Pastor John says, “It’s better to thrive in obedience than to think we’ve arrived on our own efforts.” I agree!!

If you would like to hear all of “Fully Arrive or Fully Thrive,” go to Podcasts FBCBC

Vision of Peace

Ready to Go

Let me see Your vision

So I can live in peace.

Show me Your ways

So I can be who You made me to be.

Wake me up

So I can see what You are doing.

Hear my cries

So I can bear my heart to You.

Help me see the best

So I can forget the worst.

Let me dwell on the beautiful

So I can let go of the ugly.

Give me the Bread of Life

So I may never know hunger again.

Let me drink of Your Living Water

So I will forget my thirst.

I will sing myself into Your presence.

I will be vigilant as I await Your return. 

I will be who you made me to be.

I will live out Your vision of peace.

Sunset

(Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44; Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 100; Philippians 4:4-9; John 6:25-38)

These scriptures truly did work together for my good this week as I let God fill me with His vision of peace.

Sing Into God’s Presence

Psalm 100 has always been a favorite of mine, so I was glad to see it in the lectionary this week. I memorized the KJV version as a child, but I love The Message translation of verse two – “sing yourselves into his presence.” Singing does bring my heart near to God, and I am never nearer to Him than when I’m singing.  Listen to the sweetest hymn of invitation I know. It reminds me of who I am and Who God is and makes me want to stand up and sing out loud.

On your feet now—applaud God!
    Bring a gift of laughter,
    sing yourselves into his presence.

Know this: God is God, and God, God.
    He made us; we didn’t make him.
    We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.

 Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
    Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
    Thank him. Worship him.

For God is sheer beauty,
    all-generous in love,
    loyal always and ever.

I used to consider my singing a joyful noise because I was self conscious about my voice. During Holy Week of 2009, I sang in front of a small group of people with the help of a dear friend who encouraged me to go beyond thinking of noise and put my focus on God. When I did that and followed his lessons in breathing, I began to sing differently. I sing with abandon now, and I don’t worry about anything other than making sure my voice comes from a grateful heart and is directed at a loving God who enjoys nothing more than hearing His beloved children sing in a harmony only love can produce.

Take time to sing today and every day. I love listening to and singing with children because they sing with abandon and don’t care if I miss a note or forget a word. The harmony God loves isn’t about perfecting my performance; He’s just listening for love and joy among His children. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to start singing because it is a time when our hearts are filled with gratitude. Let it bubble up to the surface and sing “Thank you!” in your best two-year-old voice.  Some may consider it noise, but that’s only because their own hearts are not ready to sing. Just smile and keep on singing, and maybe they’ll sing along with you.

Children Singing