Sing Your Way Into the Promised Land!
By Levi Hug
I have been on a journey of becoming a "belief focused" Christian. When my experiences don't line up with the Word of God, instead of asking myself, "What am I doing wrong?" I ask Holy Spirit, "What am I believing wrong?"
Good conduct, while vitally important, does not in itself produce grace. In fact, a conduct-focused lifestyle can easily turn into a “works of the law” approach to life. Inevitably, this type of mindset produces frustration because as good as our merits are they can never earn us grace. Simply believing God on the other hand, positions us to live propelled by grace (and do more!) as we enter into the relationship He has called us to. We get to relate to God as His children. (Eph. 2:8, Gal 3:26, Gal 3:5).
In my journey of faith, I have asked God for tools to eliminate lies from my belief system and believe more truth. One tool I have been immensely thankful for in this process is declarations. Saying the truth out loud is an important key to believing it. When I speak the truth, my tongue, though small, acts as a rudder to steer the very course of my life into the embodiment of Truth Himself. As my friend and mentor Steve Backlund often says, "It's hard to believe a lie while speaking the truth."
This tool seemed too easy when I first began using it because I had a bent toward equating spiritual breakthrough with my conduct. However, I experienced first-hand, the transformational results of intentionally speaking the truth out loud. This practice can help anyone grow in faith and is in fact a form of Biblical meditation (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/1897.htm).
CONNECTING TRUTH TO A MELODY
Recently, God has been speaking to me about the heart and its role in the process of growing in faith. While transformation begins with renewing our minds with truth (Rom 12:2), believing happens when this truth connects with our heart (Rom 10:9). Sometimes it seems there is a process of metabolizing truth from an informational reality to a more "revelatory" reality. When truth gets into our hearts, it seems we begin to experience a "conviction" or "heart response" to that truth and faith takes root.
As I've grown stronger in my faith, I've noticed a direct correlation of the effectiveness of my declarations to the amount of emotion I attach to these declarations. When I say something that is true as a matter of routine, it doesn't have the same effect as when I stir my heart to connect with what I am saying. There are plenty of Christians who can quote scriptures for days, but they don’t walk in real spiritual authority. Authority is realized when a Christian is convinced in their heart that they are a child of God—partakers of the Divine Nature.
When it comes to the heart and communicating with it, the content of language is definitely important, but there is more involved. Hearts are often reached through things like music, poetry, and art—hearts respond to beauty. Socially, we know that the tone in which something is spoken is usually just as important as the content. The right tone can give a message wings, while conversely, the wrong tone can cause a message to fall flat. Tones are the language of hearts.
The concept of a “heart language” started to come together for me when I began digging into scriptures like this one:
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Col 3:16 NASB
I used to read this scripture and think it was odd that Paul would tell us to “teach” one another with “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” However, I realized that the most transformative educational moments I’ve had with Lord usually occurred when He connected truth to my emotions in some way.
I’ve come to believe that the most beneficial thing you can do as a Christian is to worship from the heart. Times of corporate worship are sometimes treated as an appetizer for the main course, the “meat” of the word coming from the pulpit. It’s important to understand that corporate singing is a vitally important part of our faith. It is not by accident that this practice is a deeply ingrained part of most church liturgies…
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;” Ephesians 5:18-19 NASB
Indeed, something powerful happens when we connect truth to the beauty of a melody. In these moments, truths on our lips can reach places inside of us and inside those around us that are sometimes not reached when spoken plainly. It’s as though a melody in our heart can give truth wings. As an experiment, try saying the chorus of a popular worship song in a normal voice and then sing it from your heart. Pay attention to the feeling you experience while doing it.
Singing a song opens the heart and puts the singer in a vulnerable position. Just think, public singing is probably one thing that is even more scary for most than public speaking! When Jesus speaks of the type of worshipper the Father seeks, He says that these worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.
"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers.” John 4:25
I’ve had some grasp on what Jesus means when He says, “Worship in spirit.” But, I always wondered what He meant by “worship in truth.” Recently, it dawned on me, worshipping in truth is worshipping in vulnerability. It is worshipping from a true and real place. In fact, the Greek word for truth is synonymous with the word reality (these are both translated from the same Greek word). When we sing publicly to God, we are left exposed and vulnerable. Some may think to themselves while singing, “I hope no one laughs at my song!” This moment happens because their heart is uncovered in a special way. They are putting their heart out there for all to see—including God.
This can be a scary undertaking in which we surely need a loving community to experiment in. But, such risks produce precious unforgettable moments in which the Holy Spirit can kiss on an entire congregation.
The next time you sing a song to the Lord, sing it with the understanding that your heart is growing in connection to the truth on your lips. Melodies are a powerful tool we can use to connect truth to our hearts and help us grow in a more living and active faith.
Levi Hug was a regional (Oregon) catalyst intern for Steve Backlund in 2012-2013. He is an entrepreneur and traveling minister who has a contagious passion for life. The word of God is Levi's love and discovering Biblical mindsets that bring freedom, hope, and joy—mindsets that sustain the thriving life that Jesus paid for. For more information on Levi, click here to view his website.
Here is a fun video to view on declarations that could be put to melodies.