If you haven’t heard Ray Stevens’ old song, “Mississippi Squirrel Revival,” then you’ve missed a genuine treat. It is a hilarious account of a boy releasing a squirrel inside a gathering of the First Self-Righteous Church in Pascagoula, Miss. The shenanigans and the jumping and shouting that follow as the squirrel runs loose under the pews and up people’s legs, is off the chart. Before it’s over, several report getting saved (including the pastor); many volunteer for missions; and thousands of dollars are put in the offering. Of course, it is all sheer whimsy, but it is great fun to hear it on CD or to watch the music video (I found it on YouTube).
Music has great power to stir up our emotions. Everybody has a favorite genre. What’s yours? I have a friend in Arkansas whose church uses only country-style music in their services. He’s drawn in a lot of folks who love that style. That’s not for me, but it works well for them.
The fact is, there is no single style of music that’s right for everybody. Nor is some music wrong simply because it has a rhythmic beat to it. In church, however, I am cautious that we not allow syncopation to replace the genuine moving of the Spirit.
We grew up being accustomed to singing hymns. These are songs of the faith written long ago, now printed in books. Another of my favorite forms of Christian music is praise and worship. It is usually contemporary and informal. A friend just sent me a CD of his original songs. These are lovely ballads that he and his wife sing directly from the scriptures. It is the word of God set to music.
Music we sing in church may go in three directions: outer court; inner court; or the holy of holies. First, it can be songs that tell outsiders about Christ, like a testimony set to music. Then some songs are sung for one another in church. These reflect our life in Christ and have a mutual edifying affect. Finally, there are songs of adoration that we sing upward — not to one another, but to the Lord. These are worship songs, telling God from our heart how much we love Him.
The words to an old hymn came to mind recently. They are timeless, well worth recalling. This old song is by William Newell, written in 1895: “At Calvary.” Are these words true for you? If not, I invite you to come to Jesus today and be saved.
1. “Years I spent in vanity and pride; Caring not my Lord was crucified; Knowing not it was for me He died; On Calvary.”
2. “By God’s Word at last my sin I learned; Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned; Till my guilty soul imploring turned; To Calvary.”
3. “Now I’ve giv’n to Jesus everything; Now I gladly own Him as my King; Now my raptured soul can only sing; Of Calvary!”
4. “Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan! Oh, the grace that brought it down to man! Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span; At Calvary!”
Refrain: “Mercy there was great, and grace was free; Pardon there was multiplied to me; There my burdened soul found liberty; At Calvary.”
Ron ministers at Trinity Assembly of God. Hear his broadcast “The Father’s Power” Sundays at 8 and 7 on 103.3 fm. 601-483-8189. www.trinitymeridian.com.