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The beauty of singing for God — and each other

SINGAPORE — I was 13 years old when I discovered the immensely satisfying joy of a cappella music in worship.

I was on my first mission trip, with support from my parents and my cousin, Irvin, who placed me in the bass section, which sounded really cool.
And, praise be to God, we saw the smiles of joy and delight on the faces of those for whom we sang, every single time. Lives were touched, tears were shed and the spirit of God was present in power.

John Lim leads members of Singapore’s Pasir Panjang Church of Christ in a hymn during a recent Singspiration event. (PHOTO BY KU WEE TIONG)

That love for a cappella worship kept on growing — an inevitable but awesome side effect of being raised with a youth group that loved to sing. We even had events called “Singspiration” among the young people. We had massive turnouts. One night we nearly ran out of chairs in the church building’s lobby. We would just sing and sing and sing, offering endless praises to our King. We talked about bringing this gift to the rest of the church.
Thus, a churchwide Singspiration was born. We just had our second one.

Perhaps we think of singing as “that thing we do on Sunday” or as something good to do — maybe even as something we have to do because it is commanded.

John Lim | VoicesIf I’ve learned anything after years of mission trips and leading songs in worship, it’s that congregational singing is much, much more.

When we make music with our hearts and our lips, it is both to the Lord, as a form of praise, and to each other, as a form of encouragement.

Our singing is akin to having a conversation with God. It’s a love letter in which we express our thanksgiving for his unfailing love. We let loose our inner feelings of extreme joy and extreme pain and lay them at the feet of Jesus.

Sometimes the songs we sing express what I can’t put into words myself — when the pain is simply too great to describe, when the joy is too intense. Songs help me to connect with God in a way that no amount of mere words can.

When we worship, we also have a powerful influence on others. I am blessed whenever I hear an enthusiastic voice powerfully proclaim the glory, goodness and love of the Lord. To see someone enraptured by God’s majestic presence inspires me to be in his presence as well, that I may experience the same fullness of joy.
“… be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.”
— Ephesians 5:18-21, New King James Version

There are some who may not show it in their voice, but in their faces or gestures. Closed eyes, raised hands, bowed heads, a gentle swaying to the beat — all of these point toward an individual whose whole being is so full of God’s presence that it cannot help but manifest in his outward behavior. How I long to experience the same depth of presence!

Jesse Bestre leads a song during Singspiration. Bestre, from Baguio City, Philippines, is a student at Sunset International Bible Institute in Singapore.It is my prayer that the Spirit stirs all of us to worship better and to understand what it means to worship.

There are many ways through which we honor God and encourage each other. Singing is but one of those methods. Nevertheless, perhaps there is power in worship that we as a church have not discovered just yet, and it is a vast resource beyond comprehension should we choose to dig deeper.

So come, let us go up into the house of the Lord with praise on our lips and gratitude in our souls.

JOHN LIM worships with — and occasionally leads singing for — the Pasir Panjang Church of Christ in Singapore. This fall he begins his studies in ministry at Harding University in Searcy, Ark.
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