Reasons to Worship with Music

Among the other commands concerning worship, we find Psalm 150:3 – 5 and several other Psalms quite similar to it.  “Praise God with trumpets and all kinds of harps. Praise him with tambourines and dancing, with stringed instruments and woodwinds. Praise God with cymbals, with clashing cymbals.” (Psa 150:3-5 CEV)  The reiterations of this instruction in several Psalms show that God is likely a music fan, and may take interest in more than just choral music.

Another Psalm reminds us that we can celebrate and thank the Almighty by performing music.  “Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” (Psa 28:6-7 KJV)  This scripture recounts that God is blessed, or pleased by the music of celebratory praise and thanks.

Later writings allude to the instructional value of worship music.  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing each other, in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, in grace singing in your hearts to the Lord;” (Col 3:16 YLT)  Several forms of  worship music can edify a congregation by wise correction and teaching.  
Occasionally a congregation in a quandary may experience  Godly inspiration through a prophet who listens to worship music.  “Then Elisha said, “Send for someone who can play the harp.” The harpist began playing, and the LORD gave Elisha this message for Joram:” (2Ki 3:15 CEV)  While this passage tells little about the style of music played, we know that it helped bring about the desired effect of spiritual clarity.  Perhaps we can safely assume that the instrumental music was inspirational as well as clarifying.  Much of the existing sacred instrumental music we have achieves an inspirational level while offering sounds of contemplative closure and clarity of direction.  Maybe we should lean upon the gifts of our church musicians more often for a musical blessing in times of distraction or uncertainty.

Lastly, we have the example of Jesus in his time of most need.  At the conclusion of the last supper, he gives us an idea of how his spiritual needs become met.  “Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Mar 14:26 CEV) A more compelling example of why we should worship musically might exist, but Jesus sets a high bar in this instance. Even the jail cell hymn singing of Paul and Silas found in Acts 16:25 pales by comparison. 

We should worship with music for all the reasons above, each in their separate or combined occurrences. As we do we can know God’s blessings in ways as different as our many reasons for coming into his glorious presence. 

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Saving the Earth

Three Soviet military officers were each responsible for saving the earth on separate occasions during the cold war.  On September 26, 1983, Stanislav Petrov ignored alarms indicating a U.S. ballistic attack of five missiles, long enough to identify a warning system malfunction instead of following protocols to launch a counterattack.  Due to the heightened tensions of U.S. and Soviet relations at the time, he is credited with preventing his superiors from launching a  reactionary strike of nuclear missiles at the U.S.

During the Cuban missile crisis, on board a Soviet submarine two officers called for a nuclear torpedo launch on a U.S. submarine.  Three officers on board the B-59 had to agree unanimously to authorize a nuclear launch: Captain Savitsky, the political officer Ivan Semonovich Maslennikov, and the second-in-command Arkhipov. Typically, Russian submarines armed with the “Special Weapon” only required the captain to get authorization from the political officer to launch a nuclear torpedo. However, due to Arkhipov’s position as flotilla commander, the B-59 ’​s captain also was required to gain Arkhipov’s approval. An argument broke out, with only Arkhipov against the launch.  Arkhipov proved steadfast in his refusal to launch, thereby preventing retaliations that certainly could have destroyed the planet. 
Also during the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy relied upon secret intelligence about the unfinished status of the Cuban missile installation throughout the decision-making period.  Kennedy received Presidential advice ranging from Cuban blockade and invasion plans to preemptive nuclear strike targets.   Cooler heads finally prevailed due partly to the reliable, calming information on the status of Cuban missile installation leaked by Soviet Colonel Oleg Penkovsky. Unlike Petrov and Arkhipov, Colonel Penkovsky died for his part in averting nuclear destruction because the Soviets discovered his leak to US intelligence and executed him in 1963. 

It remains my fervent hope that the next US President will seek like-minded Russian officials with whom to continue reducing nuclear arsenals.  I find reason for cautious optimism in the three historic examples above.  As Americans, we must insist that nuclear materials stay out of the hands of terrorists, whether state-sponsored, or not.  Let’s make sure to elect someone committed to allowing cooler heads to prevail early and often! #blog

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Predictions for 2016

Methane will continue to leak from underground sources in the western US in unprecedented amounts, exacerbating greenhouse gas effects over the long haul.  Continuing oscillations in the jet stream will cause further record-setting weather patterns in the US, Australia and the arctic as climate change slowly escalates.  Radical right-wing American politicians will continue to deny that the weather fluctuations have any relevance or connection to carbon dioxide levels exceeding 400 ppm.  

Radical right-wing American politicians will show no foresight about taxing low-priced gasoline sales resulting from oil prices remaining below $50 per barrel.  As a result, more US bridges and roadways will fail under increasing use, especially in low tax states like Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri.  Consumers will continue to spend the annual average $500 they each saved in fuel costs on restaurant meals instead of fixing roads or preparing for retirement.  

The US Federal Open Markets Committee will continue to raise the discount interest rate to almost one percent by year end.  Bond prices will continue to suffer, with some capital moving to equities late in the year for better yields.  The US dollar will continue to strengthen as a safe haven for capital preservation.  

Reduced funding for the IRS, the EPA and other regulatory agencies will result in harsher financial penalties for apprehended lawbreakers and increasing numbers of cases destined for costly settlements.  A  number of federal bureaucracies will become more intransigent and less lenient as the agencies try to impose lawful constraints on businesses with fewer resources. This will lead to greater decrying of the US regulatory scheme and the federal government as a whole among citizens who misunderstand the tendencies of an underfunded bureaucracy.
The Republican control of the US Congress and the dearth of moderate voices will lead to fewer compromises on policy and increased corporate interference in market factors.  Corporate and financial interests will more easily, regularly and directly purchase influence in the government as the Supreme Court continues to remove regulations and laws prohibiting influence-peddling for politicians and corporations. 
Campaigning for the 2016 elections will become ugly and wax negative very quickly.  Voter discouragement through negative ads will permeate the campaign.  Radical right-wing Republicans not satisfied with discouraging the voters will seek further to purge them from voter rolls through various strategies while claiming to fight voter fraud.  Despite this, the Democratic nominee will win the election while Republicans continue control of the Congress.  Gun and ammunition sales will surge again after the election.

Fewer airlines will use FAA certified mechanics as airline maintenance becomes further outsourced to the developing world.  More maintenance failures will result in some catastrophic aircraft losses before the regulatory failure becomes recognized. 

Overcrowded prisons will continue to increase the control of gangs inside and outside of those prisons.  Drug-abusers in the US will continue to become incarcerated before being given scant medical treatment, leading to increasing relapse and recidivism rates.  

Violence against US interests will continue to be misunderstood by most Americans, leading to increased support for the military-industrial complex and electronic surveillance of the general population. 

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