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"my Savior Is Tougher Than Nails"


Bsix

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My family and I are travelling this week in New York. A couple of days ago, we attended a family reunion. We are the only Mormons in the clan.

T-shirt graphic.

One of the relatives wore a religious T-shirt with an image of glistening, bloody nails which included the headline, "MY SAVIOR IS TOUGHER THAN NAILS" set in bold graphic distressed text.

The effect was to somehow almost reduce the murder of Jesus Christ to some sort of commodity pop-culture slogan. While I sensed the sincerity of the wearer, I wondered where this sort of casual treatement stands in regards to reverencing the sacred.

It has always been my opinion that God has required respect and reverence. Yet, I wonder if this and other sorts of gimmicky marketing of Christianity lower the reverence we ought to have for God.

I wonder if this is a direct extention or evolution of the use of the murder weapon of Christ as an popular icon.

I understand the sincerity of using the cross. I also understand the spiritual and scriptural context for the cross. However, I wonder if the traditional Christian Church has turned the cross, and other icons associated with the Savior's atonement and death into something too casual.

Regards,

Six

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I find it distasteful, despite the fact that it is well meaning. Tee-shirt mentality cannot be applied successfully to holy principles, as I see it. The name of the Savior should not be marketed and plastered on shirts, purses, jackets, or jewelry. It should not be found on beach towels or neck ties. People who do it claim the best of intentions, but it's not acceptable to most Latter-day Saints.

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I have that quote on a piece of sheet metal in my front room, however the It just says - My Savior Is... TOUGHER THAN NAILS ! - with a picture of just 3 nails in the middle of the sheet [ With the scripture from Rev 1:18 in small regular print at the Bottom]. To me its just a reminder, I keep it here at home and do not take it out in public. In His Debt/Grace, Tanyan.

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I don't see it as being associated with the Cross symbolism in any way actually. The Cross in many ways represents the Old World sensibilities almost, where we as Americans are pretty unique with our New World sensibilities.

I think it's more the fact that our society has tended to think of Jesus Christ on more familiar terms than other societies and times. I've seen some folks argue how American sensibilities insist on a more personalized way of viewing Deity and with that approach comes a more familiar outlook. To some, some people's expressions of this

You tend see similar examples that include a consumer cultural angle or trend. Honk of You Love Jesus on bumper stickers. Smile If You Love Jesus stickers and pencils,etc. This is all very familiar in tone.

How Jesus has been depicted in film or TV is always interesting to see too. Again, a familiarity or a relatability.

A couple years back a very popular t-shirt with Christian kids around here was "Jesus is My Homie" with a Afrocentric Jesus accompanying it. The kids I knew who wore it were very sincere in their expression:

http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/v..._1957_812757221

I think the reality is that it's probably slightly subjective what is considered reverent or not for people. The example you gave isn't something I'd be interested in personally either, I find sorta odd. But I'm sure others may find it perfectly suitable. I don't think it's really focusing on the nails so much as a taking a popular expression that people already know more than anything.

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If your older brother got run over by a car, as he pushed you out of the way, would you were a t-shirt of the 78 mustang that did it, saying "my bro is tougher than a mustang"?

This rests on the faulty assumption that just because you (generically) see it one way, that this is the view that must be considered as most appropriate.

What should be considered is why the young man was wearing it, including if he was aware that others might see it differently and find it inappropriate. That you see it that way only indicates why it's inappropriate for you to wear it.

As far as the cross.....

While LDS haven't turned Carthage and Liberty Jail into religious icons, there is a sense of reverence towards them; money was spent on buying them and turning them into semi-pilgrimage sites. This wasn't done because they were sites of torture and murder, but because they were sites of sacred events and even continued to be as people who visit often talk about the spiritual experiences they have there when they realize the sacrifices made for them by others.

When going to Jerusalem, LDS often visit the site of the tomb and Calvary.

I don't see much difference in reverencing the place of execution and turning the 'tool' of execution into a symbol of the sacrifice that took place on it.

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I think it's pretty tacky, myself; it is very kitsch.

corney in the extreme.

If your older brother got run over by a car, as he pushed you out of the way, would you were a t-shirt of the 78 mustang that did it, saying "my bro is tougher than a mustang"?

Technically this would be false because the mustang won.

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Maybe the thought is there, but the expression is inappropriate in my view. I also find the "My God is an Awesome God" evangelical song, doing the wave thing, irreverent.

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I agree that these kinds of things can sometimes be tacky, but I don't think they are intended to be irreverent. I had a couple similar T-shirts in high school, and most of my LDS friends actually liked them. I do agree that it is part of our American culture, to try to market these kinds of things. Heck, we're the ones who put our flag on beach towels and stickers and boxer shorts. I may not wear American flag swimming trunks, but I'm not going to say that the person who does wear them is intentionally mocking or devaluing the flag. Their intention is probably patriotic, not denigrating. Same with those who wear shirts like the one mentioned above.

I also agree with calmoriah that there are aspects of LDS belief and culture that are marketed in similar ways. CTR rings, anyone? Or how about those LDS T-shirts (including my absolute favorite, a plain white shirt with the words "I can't, I'm Mormon" printed on the front)?

It is one of my pet peeves about evangelicals in particular, that we tend to mimic popular trends in order to reach those outside the church with the gospel. While the efforts are well-intentioned, and undoubtedly produce spiritual results, the productions are usually not as good as what the rest of the world puts out. This doesn't reflect well on evangelicals, at least for me. The youth pastor I partner with is the same way; we can't stand listening to Christian radio, because the songs all sound the same, and don't sound particularly good. We're music snobs though, and we know it. For those people who like rock music, but don't want to listen to bad lyrics anymore, I think Christian music can provide a helpful substitute.

But this is hardly a problem for evangelicals alone. In Robert Wilken's book "The Spirit of Early Christian Thought", he includes a chapter about the earliest Christians doing the same thing from the very beginning. They tried to write Christian poetry and lyrics about Christ, in the style of Homer and other Greco-Roman writers. The result was almost always sub-par. Then along comes Prudentius after a few centuries, who wrote some of the best and most unique poetry and writings from a Christian perspective. I think it just takes a while for a new community to come into their own, artistically speaking.

Take care, everyone :P

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I agree that these kinds of things can sometimes be tacky, but I don't think they are intended to be irreverent. I had a couple similar T-shirts in high school, and most of my LDS friends actually liked them. I do agree that it is part of our American culture, to try to market these kinds of things. Heck, we're the ones who put our flag on beach towels and stickers and boxer shorts. I may not wear American flag swimming trunks, but I'm not going to say that the person who does wear them is intentionally mocking or devaluing the flag. Their intention is probably patriotic, not denigrating. Same with those who wear shirts like the one mentioned above.

I also agree with calmoriah that there are aspects of LDS belief and culture that are marketed in similar ways. CTR rings, anyone? Or how about those LDS T-shirts (including my absolute favorite, a plain white shirt with the words "I can't, I'm Mormon" printed on the front)?

It is one of my pet peeves about evangelicals in particular, that we tend to mimic popular trends in order to reach those outside the church with the gospel. While the efforts are well-intentioned, and undoubtedly produce spiritual results, the productions are usually not as good as what the rest of the world puts out. This doesn't reflect well on evangelicals, at least for me. The youth pastor I partner with is the same way; we can't stand listening to Christian radio, because the songs all sound the same, and don't sound particularly good. We're music snobs though, and we know it. For those people who like rock music, but don't want to listen to bad lyrics anymore, I think Christian music can provide a helpful substitute.

But this is hardly a problem for evangelicals alone. In Robert Wilken's book "The Spirit of Early Christian Thought", he includes a chapter about the earliest Christians doing the same thing from the very beginning. They tried to write Christian poetry and lyrics about Christ, in the style of Homer and other Greco-Roman writers. The result was almost always sub-par. Then along comes Prudentius after a few centuries, who wrote some of the best and most unique poetry and writings from a Christian perspective. I think it just takes a while for a new community to come into their own, artistically speaking.

Take care, everyone :P

I agree that many religions, including some LDS Church members, sometimes market kitschy stuff, unfortunately. I'm not a huge fan of it.

Rhino, have you seen the movie "Saved"?

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I agree that many religions, including some LDS Church members, sometimes market kitschy stuff, unfortunately. I'm not a huge fan of it.

Rhino, have you seen the movie "Saved"?

That movie is pretty funny in a kind of disturbing way-very much religious satire, i think.

:P

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Rhino, have you seen the movie "Saved"?

I have, twice. I actually watched it with the high school youth group I lead, and we had some great discussion afterwards. It makes me both laugh and squirm. It's obviously over-the-top in many areas to make it more satirical, but there's enough truth in there about my religious subculture to make it both amusing and a little uncomfortable. :P

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This rests on the faulty assumption that just because you (generically) see it one way, that this is the view that must be considered as most appropriate.

What should be considered is why the young man was wearing it, including if he was aware that others might see it differently and find it inappropriate. That you see it that way only indicates why it's inappropriate for you to wear it.

As far as the cross.....

While LDS haven't turned Carthage and Liberty Jail into religious icons, there is a sense of reverence towards them; money was spent on buying them and turning them into semi-pilgrimage sites. This wasn't done because they were sites of torture and murder, but because they were sites of sacred events and even continued to be as people who visit often talk about the spiritual experiences they have there when they realize the sacrifices made for them by others.

When going to Jerusalem, LDS often visit the site of the tomb and Calvary.

I don't see much difference in reverencing the place of execution and turning the 'tool' of execution into a symbol of the sacrifice that took place on it.

I stand corrected, they are not tacky at all and are perfectly appropriate many a refined occasion: girl on girl mud wrestling shows, **** fights and christian heavy metal concerts.

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Rhino,

It's blashphemy. I really believe that. In olden time, blasphemy was simply the misappropriation of the name of God. Using it whimsically, sarcastically, all to frequently, or irreverantly (and I daresay heavy metal is by definition, irreverant) is blasphemy.

PacMan

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Rhino,

It's blashphemy. I really believe that. In olden time, blasphemy was simply the misappropriation of the name of God. Using it whimsically, sarcastically, all to frequently, or irreverantly (and I daresay heavy metal is by definition, irreverant) is blasphemy.

Music is not blasphemous or irreverent in and of itself. It is more of a preference or culture issue (and I readily grant that the general culture of the LDS membership is quite different from that of evangelicalism). Harmony was seen as blasphemous centuries ago; singing in unison was the only acceptable form. Anything but piano and/or organ was seen as blasphemous in the 19th century.

One could make a tongue-in-cheek case that a Christian heavy metal concert is closer to Old Testament worship than a modern LDS service. At least, one doesn't see many cymbals or six stringed instruments at sacrament meetings, or any shouting or dancing, for that matter <_<

I realize that many people would not be comfortable at a Christian heavy metal concert. I am one of them. But I do not use my personal preference as a benchmark to judge the sincerity and spiritual worth of an activity that (1) many people do find worshipful and meaningful, and (2) has no biblical warrant against it.

I am speaking from experience in both the music world and as a youth pastor. I've seen one kid in particular really turn his life around because he went to a Christian heavy metal concert, and got to talk to one of the band members in person for a while. The sincerity and faith of these individuals is not in question, and obviously God works through these kinds of things. Heck, the kid wants to go into ministry now!

Take care, everyone :P

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I agree that these kinds of things can sometimes be tacky, but I don't think they are intended to be irreverent.

I think some of the new Christian songs are in this same vein -- "My G-d is an awesome G-d". The theme is that He is all powerful, and "the biggest kid on the block".

I think this mentality is what made Mel Gibson's movie so popular among the evangelists.

Instead of worshipful reverence, it is trite, superficial, and borders on blasphemy.

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I think some of the new Christian songs are in this same vein -- "My G-d is an awesome G-d". The theme is that He is all powerful, and "the biggest kid on the block".

I think this mentality is what made Mel Gibson's movie so popular among the evangelists.

Instead of worshipful reverence, it is trite, superficial, and borders on blasphemy.

Wait, I'm not getting why "Our God is an Awesome God" is getting picked on here. What about the song makes it "trite, superficial, and border[ing] on blasphemy"?

Along those same lines, why would The Passion of the Christ be lumped in that category? I saw the film, and found it very reverent. If you want trite and superficial, perhaps the films currently showing on Temple Square might be more in order? I'm thinking of Testaments here... <_<

And what is your definition of "worshipful reverence", and do you have any reason to conclude that this means of expression is the only acceptable one to God?

Take care, everyone :P

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I have, twice. I actually watched it with the high school youth group I lead, and we had some great discussion afterwards. It makes me both laugh and squirm. It's obviously over-the-top in many areas to make it more satirical, but there's enough truth in there about my religious subculture to make it both amusing and a little uncomfortable. :P

Yeah, I'd never seen it until this Tuesday, it was interesting.

At any rate, Hank Hill summed it up well:

"They aren't helping Christianity, they're ruining rock music."

And Bart Simpson:

"Oh, man, all the good bands worship the devil."

A lot of what bothers me about Christian music is 1) The vain repetition, especially in saying "Lord, Lord" etc. over and over and over, 2) It's generally poorly written, in my music snob opinion, 3) It tends to appeal solely to emotional aspects, create a "high," in other words; I can get the same high from any type of music I enjoy, 4) The lyrics are usually contrived or condescending.

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Wait, I'm not getting why "Our God is an Awesome God" is getting picked on here. What about the song makes it "trite, superficial, and border[ing] on blasphemy"?

It reminds me of the Tarzan movies where he beats on his chest to show how fearsome he is.

If you don't understand this concept, I can't explain it to you. You might want to discuss this with some of the older, more traditional members of your congregation who do not like these modern music and songs. They might be able to explain how this modern music has changed the atmosphere of Christian worship.

About 20 years ago there was little difference between the LDS and Evangelist worship services.

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It reminds me of the Tarzan movies where he beats on his chest to show how fearsome he is.

You mean like a good portion of the Old Testament, particularly the prophetic writings?

If you don't understand this concept, I can't explain it to you. You might want to discuss this with some of the older, more traditional members of your congregation who do not like these modern music and songs. They might be able to explain how this modern music has changed the atmosphere of Christian worship.

I'm not sure what concept you're referring to, but I do agree that Christian worship has changed in the past fifty years. I'm more of a traditional, hymn-singing kind of guy myself, but I don't see the changes as bad, just different. And there will always be traditionalists who will always prefer to old way of doing things. That's normal, and I think we need both. People need that anchor to the past, as well as the ability to adapt somewhat to present circumstances.

A lot of what bothers me about Christian music is 1) The vain repetition, especially in saying "Lord, Lord" etc. over and over and over, 2) It's generally poorly written, in my music snob opinion, 3) It tends to appeal solely to emotional aspects, create a "high," in other words; I can get the same high from any type of music I enjoy, 4) The lyrics are usually contrived or condescending.

I don't know about appealing solely to emotional aspects (all music has an emotional component, I don't know that any music can be solely emotional, especially when lyrics enter the picture), but in general I agree with you. There are brilliant exceptions, but in general, Christian music is repetitive (especially when they're just covering other people's songs!! :P ) and contrived. But I have seen some light at the end of the tunnel. Some current songs I've heard at church or through youth group kids are original, both lyrically and musically. You just have to look for it, sadly. Still no Christian radio for me, apostate that I am... :unsure:

Take care, everyone <_<

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I can see where the comments about Our God is an Awesome God are coming from. If the current style of Christian gospel music/worship is not how it's done in your church it can seem very unfamiliar and strange. As my intro into Christianity was by way of Plymouth Brethren (pianos and simple singing only and no instruments on Sabbath) moving more mainstream (Mennonite Brethren) was a big shock to me, with the {gasp} guitars (plugged in!!), hand clapping and {{double gasp}} swaying/dancing and especially arm waving. It felt very irreverent to me and I couldn't get used to it for a long time, never mind join in. Likewise, if you feel it is irreverent to repeat the Lord's name over and over, that could seem blasphemous. I also found that getting too chummy with Jesus, like some EVs seem to do, was startling, kind of like when a mom or dad wants to be their kid's friend instead of their parent. Funnily enough, eventually moving on over to Mormonism, I found the constant reference to "Christ" very startling as I was so much more accustomed to hearing "Jesus". (In my world, "Christ" was not used reverently and to this day sounds abrupt and stark to me). I agree with rhino that "reverent" is often a personal sensitivity and cannot be all that clearly defined.

It may be interesting to some to consider the thought and feeling, belief and reverence, though, that goes into Christian music worship.

Re the origins of music in worship, excerpts from:

http://lookinguntojesus.net/20061015.htm

OT:

The association of instruments with worship begins early in the history of God's people in the Old Testament. Being released from captivity in Egypt, Miriam and the women of Israel with her sang praise to God with timbrels (Exodus 15:20-21). Centuries later, when the ark of God was being moved from the house of Abinadab, "...David and all the house of Israel played music before the LORD on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals." (2 Samuel 6:5)

Throughout the Psalms, David made mention of praising God with instrumental music. Notice a few examples:

• "Praise the LORD with the harp; make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings." (33:2)

• "...on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God." (43:4)

• "The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; among them were the maidens playing timbrels." (68:25)

• "Sing to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of a psalm, with trumpets and the sound of a horn; shout joyfully before the LORD, the King." (98:5-6)

That the worship of God with instrumental music was a big part of David's life, and indeed the culture of Jewish worship is evident. There are still more and more examples of such in the Old Testament Scriptures. But it is important to note that they engaged in worship with instruments, not simply because they enjoyed instrumental music, and were talented players, but because God approved of their use.

…But notice further, the people of Hezekiah's day were not simply following the direction of men in this, "...for thus was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets." The use of instrumental music in worship was in fact commanded by God in the Old Testament.

Interesting that this particular ministry sees a change in the NT:

NT:

The countless examples and the commandment to use harps, trumpets, stringed instruments, timbrels and the like for the people of Israel is not authoritative for those who are subject to the law of Christ. Even as we have herein searched the Old Testament, and sought to know what pleased the Lord so far as worship in song in times past, we must now search the New Testament, that we might know what pleases the Lord so far as worship in song today.

The testimony of the New Testament is that to praise God in song, we are to sing. If our desire is to be God's people, doing things in God's way, then we'll not seek to do above or beyond what God has authorized us to do in worship.

Re the meaning of music in worship, excerpts from:

http://www.elite.net/~ebedyah/PastorsSite/psalms/psalm98.htm

We spend a lot of time singing in church. But when we sing, are we really singing from our heart to God? Or are we only saying words? Quite a few years ago someone noticed that everyone when they sang in church tended to have their heads buried in the hymnals – even when they knew the songs. So, many churches came up with the idea of projecting the words on a screen. So instead of people staring at the hymnals they stared at the screen even if they knew the songs. Singing in church should be more than just reading words and notes. It should be a time that we worship God from our heart. Sometimes we have to force ourselves to think about what we are singing, and discipline our minds to focus on God.

Psalm 98 gives us wonderful instruction on how to come to God with a song in our heart. The psalm is divided into 3 sections of 3 verses apiece. Verses 1-3 tell us what we are to sing, verses 4-6 show us how we are to sing, and verses 7-9 reveal who should sing.

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! For He has done marvelous things; his right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.

We are to sing to the Lord not out of habit or routine, but out of gratitude and worship for all the things God has done for us. John Wesley wrote, "Sing lustily, and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength."

Notice the psalmist says God has done marvelous things. As we sing, we need to reflect on all the marvelous things God has done for us. Many songs tell about the wonderful works of God. As we sing them, let us think of what God has done in our life – how he has helped us, strengthened us, and comforted us.

Next, the psalmist says God has gained the victory. We are not defeated. God has gained for us the victory. When we sing songs of triumph, let us reflect on all those times that God has rescued us from danger, from sickness, from mental anguish.

The Lord has made known His salvation; his righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.

This verse tells us the Lord has made known his salvation. He has saved us. We are to sing songs of salvation. When we sing songs that speak about salvation, let us thank God for his saving grace that reached down to us. Let us consider where we were and where God has brought us. Let us consider all the love and mercy that God has shown us.

Next the psalmist says that God has revealed his righteousness. He is a holy God. There are some songs that speak of the divine holiness. As we sing them, let our hearts be awed by his holy presence. Let us sing with the seraphim in Isaiah 6:3, "...Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!"

He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

The psalmist tells us that God has remembered. He keeps his promises. Let us sing about God’s word and about his promises. Psalm 119:105 says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." As we sing songs about God’s word, let us thank him for being faithful in keeping those promises to us.

Next the psalmist talks about God’s mercy and his faithfulness. Let us sing about God’s amazing grace and songs that extol the great faithfulness of our God. As we sing these songs, let us remember God’s mercy to us, and his faithfulness every day throughout the year.

How are we to sing (verses 4-6)

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.

This one verse gives us much instruction on how we are to sing to God. It starts off by instructing us to shout joyfully to the Lord. We are to sing to God with joy in our hearts.

Spurgeon exhorts us, "Every tongue must applaud, and that with the vigour which joy of heart alone can arouse to action. As men shout when they welcome a king, so must we. Loud hosannas, full of happiness, must be lifted up. If ever men shout for joy it should be when the Lord comes among them...."

Next the psalmist says, break forth in song. When we sing, let it come from the depths of our heart. Let’s not just go through the motions, but enter into genuine worship.

The psalmist also says we need to rejoice. As we worship God, it should be a time of rejoicing. We should rejoice that we are saved, rejoice that we are forgiven, rejoice that God is with us, rejoice that Christ died for us, and rejoice that the Holy Spirit is here to minister to us.

Finally, the psalmist says, sing praises. Our songs should be songs of praise. We are not just singing words and melody, we are singing praises to our Lord and God. Let our whole heart join in praising God. As Psalm 103:1 tells us, "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!"

Sing to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of a psalm.

The Hebrew word used here < rwOn@ki> kinnowr refers to any stringed instrument, but it’s usually translated harp or lyre. I think of this verse today as saying: sing to the Lord with the guitar or the piano! We are to sing a psalm unto God. What were the psalms? They were Israel’s songs of prayer and praise.

With trumpets and the sound of a horn; shout joyfully before the Lord, the King.

We can praise God with the trumpet and the horn. In other words let us not be afraid to use our talents for God. What can you use to praise God? We can all use our voices. Do you know how to play a musical instrument? Use it to praise God.

Next, the psalmist tells us to shout joyfully before the Lord. When we are singing in church, we are not simply mouthing the words, but we are singing before the Lord. We are in his presence. Let us sing joyfully unto him. …We have much to be grateful for. Allow that joy to enter into your worship of God.

Let the sea roar, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it.

The psalmist begins this verse with, Let the sea roar and all its fulness. Singing to the Lord is not supposed to be a quiet time. We can sing like the sound of sea roaring in the fullness of our voices. Let’s not be afraid to sing our worship to our God.

Who should sing to God? The psalmist says the world and those who dwell in it. Let every person everywhere sing praises to God. As Psalm 150:6 exhorts, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!" That means everyone in the church too. Whether young or old, whether bold or shy, whether an extrovert or an introvert, whether loud or quiet; let us all praise the Lord with our song.

Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills be joyful together before the Lord.

The rivers clap their hands. Have you ever noticed how the sound of the river beating against the rocks sounds like clapping? As the rivers clap their hands, so can we. We don’t have to be afraid of entering into worship with our whole being. We talked earlier about those who can play their musical instruments to praise God. Well not all of us can play a ten-stringed instrument, but we all have a ten-fingered instrument. We applaud the opera, the symphony, the play. We applaud the home run, the touchdown, and the goal. It’s all right to also applaud God.

The psalmist says, Let the hills be joyful together before the Lord. Let us not be afraid of expressing our joy before God. Whether we are happy or sad, let us be joyful together before the Lord.

When we sing in church, may it be a time of genuine worship as we enter together into God’s presence.

Macartney wrote, "When a congregation sing together, speaking to themselves, to one another, and to God in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and making melody in their hearts to the Lord – then come to the surface all the great traditions of the past, all the great convictions of the present, and all the glorious hopes for the future."

________________

If it is not your tradition, it can take some getting used to but knowing the background and meaning of different ways to worship God can bring new understanding and respect, I find. Maybe it's because I have been involved in more than one denomination (not growing up in a particular faith tradition necessitated a personal search that turned into a lengthy sojourn) but I have come to see that there is more than one way to worship God and that obsessing on the "how" of it is a prime reason for all the squabbling about perhaps inconsequential details.

As for "vain repetition", I'd say there is another aspect of disagreement and misunderstanding that should be fairly easy to clear up.

Excerpts from:

http://members.aol.com/insight944/APOL/Vain.html

Catholics often get broadsided with this question: "Why do Catholics repeat the same prayer over and over again when they pray the Rosary? Is this not vain repetition condemned by Christ in Matthew 6:7?"

Matt 6:7 reads "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." (NIV)

A study of first century literature shows that at the time of Christ, and before him, some pagans had the superstitious belief that their prayers would not be heard, if they omitted the name of a god or failed to specify their particular petition. Moreover they thought that they had a better chance of getting the attention of the gods if they kept repeating their petitions. Knowing that was the case with some of the pagans of his day, our Lord in teaching his disciples to pray cautioned them against those false pagan beliefs.

The Greek text of Matthew 6:7 is translated precisely correct by both the Protestant King James version (use not vain repetitions) and the Catholic Jerusalem version (do not babble). The vain repetitions and the babble that Christ had in mind was that of the pagans, which he mentions. It had nothing to do with the idea of repeating prayers, since we read in Matthew 26: 39-44 that he himself repeated prayers.

Verse 44 reads "So he left them and went away once more and prayed a third time, saying the self same thing."

The same is true in Luke I8:9-14, where the original Greek text uses the imperfect tense meaning that the tax collector "kept beating his breast and saying, 'Have mercy on me O Lord, a sinner'".

However, two parables Jesus gives us to illustrate that persistence and repetitious prayer can be just the right approach. (Luke 11:5-13 and Luke 18:2-5).

In saying the rosary the repetitions mark the time we are to meditate on a particular mystery of our salvation. Such meditation avoids the idea that one will be heard through sheer mechanical repetitions. This is not "vain" repetition, certainly not the vain repetition condemned by Our Lord. In fact no prayer is vain, no matter how often repeated, if it is sincere, for Christ Himself engaged in repetitious prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Furthermore, we are told in the Apocalypse (Revelations) 4:8 that the angels in Heaven never cease repeating, night and day, the canticle: "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come."

And of course, Protestants also engage in repetitious prayer: the same prayers at mealtime grace, the same prayers at Benediction, etc. The time lapse between them is no factor; what is a few hours to God? It is still repetitious.

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I highly doubt that any of us are so creative that we "pray continually" as exhorted yet never repeat the same prayer, intent or even actual words. If that is truly proscribed by God, I think we're all in trouble!

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