This year Ash Wednesday was observed on February 14, 2018. This, of course, coincided with Valentine’s Day. Anyone who is remotely familiar with the two commemorations would be immediately struck by the paradox. Ash Wednesday begins the Christian annual 40 days of Lent which is marked by fasting and self denial, while on Valentine’s day erotic love is celebrated and persons look forward to having their fill of fleshly titivation. In this sermonette I raise some considerations on how the two polarized observances can be juxtaposed and ultimately the kind of fast that God requires and God responds to, according to Isaiah 58.
You can listen and or download the sermonette below
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There is actually no need to ask why people make money. For one thing, they need it to survive. This is no longer a world when all they need to have is hunting skills and they won’t starve.
Those who say that in this lifetime we just need to enrich our spiritual lives are deluding themselves and the people they are preaching these too. Before we can actually have a use of our spiritual lives, we need to first be alive. You can’t be alive without eating food or having a shelter on a cold winter night. To do this, you need money.
Do we really need to make money? In this capitalist world, people need money to be able to eat, to have a house to live in and ride the bus to go to work. In other words, money is the be all and end all of our whole existence. Without it, we cannot live because all our needs are bought with money.
But there are a lot of other reasons why people need to make money and it’s not just because they want to survive. If that is the case, then people will just be contented to earn enough money so they can eat and have a comfortable life. Instead, people amass money as much as they can. Here are the reasons why people try so desperately to make money.
1. Status Symbol
Some people do not just see money as something that could buy them things. Having a lot of money is also a status symbol. People admire you when you are rich. The things that you can buy with the money that you make all the more enhance that status symbol. Also, people often equate being rich with being intelligent and having a charmed life.
There are only three ways that people can be powerful. The first one is to have power, literally, as in superhuman powers but this is impossible so that leaves us with the other two ways: being a politician and being rich. If you do not have the stomach to be a part of the government or the courage to run for public office and therefore engage with the politics of politics, then the only way for you be powerful is to have money, lots of it.
3. Indirect Compulsion
Some people actually do not earn money because they want to, they get their incomes as an indirect result of doing what they love to do. For instance, artists do not really care about the money. They just want to express what they are feeling and show the world their perspective. Still, when people buy their artworks, they earn money. Some CEOs do not actually work to earn money; they earn money because they work and they love what they are doing. For these people, there is a compulsion to do, to accomplish things and earning money is just a by-product of those accomplishments.
Welcome to this another exciting and empowering blog post from the blog that is all about helping you to make money online. This post will help you get free altcoins. You will learn what altcoins are and then you will be able to start receiving free altcoins. Altcoins is a generic term used to refer to alternative coins to bitcoin. Bitcoin was the first crypto currency to be created and since then several others have been launched.
WHAT ARE ALTCOINS?
Learn more: What are Alt-coins?
Currently there are dozens, possibly hundreds of altcoins
Altcoins are real cryptocurrency alternatives to Bitcoin. Many of them differ in some way or form from the Bitcoin and are interesting in their own right however some of them are plain copies. Listed on this page are their basic characteristics.
List of SHA256 based Alt-coins
There are many SHA256 based altcoins. The following list is not exhaustive and only serves to give an impression about other coins available. Some of these coins can also be collected through QoinPro.
|NMC||Namecoin||SHA256||21,000,000||2,016||50 NMC / Block|
|PPC||Peercoin||SHA256||No Limit||1||103.10 PPC / Block|
|DVC||Devcoin||SHA256||No Limit||2,016||5000 DVC / Block|
|TRC||Terracoin||SHA256||42.000.000||540 Blocks||20 TRC / Block|
List of Scrypt based Alt-coins
There are many Scrypt based altcoins. The following list is not exhaustive and only serves to give an impression about other coins available. Some of these coins can also be collected through QoinPro.
|LTC||Litecoin||Scrypt||82,000,000||2,016||50 LTC / Block|
|DOGE||Dogecoin||Scrypt||100,000,000,000||240||250,000 DOGE / Block|
|WDC||Worldcoin||Scrypt||265,420,800||120||50.79 WDC / Block|
|FTC||Feathercoin||Scrypt||336,000,000||504||200 FTC / Block|
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Then there is Ether. ETH is the second in line after bitcoin in terms of current exchange rate. I have also come across a program that will give you a bonus of 0.2 ETH for registering a passive investment using ETH. Here are some of the details:
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List of Hybrid/Other Alt-coins
There are many altcoins not based on SHA256 or Scrypt. The following list is not exhaustive and only serves to give an impression about other coins available. Some of these coins can also be collected through QoinPro.
|QRK||Quarkcoin||Ohter||20||2 QRK / Block|
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Then there is Ether. ETH is the second in line after bitcoin in terms of current exchange rate. I have also come across a program that will give you a bonus of 0.2 ETH for registering a passive investment using ETH. Here are some of the details:
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Bitcoin is a zero trust consensus network with many advantages. This opens the discussion here on the advantages of bitcoin.
Payment Freedom – Instant transactions
With Bitcoin it is possible to send and receive any amount of money instantly anywhere in the world at any time. No bank holidays. No borders. No imposed limits. Bitcoin allows its users to be in full control of their money.
Very low transaction fees
Bitcoin payments are currently processed with either no fees or extremely small fees. Users may include fees with transactions to receive priority processing, which results in faster confirmation of transactions by the network. Additionally, merchant processors exist to assist merchants in processing transactions, converting bitcoins to fiat currency and depositing funds directly into merchants’ bank accounts daily. As these services are based on Bitcoin, they can be offered for much lower fees than with PayPal or credit card networks.
Fewer risks for merchants
Bitcoin transactions are secure, irreversible, and do not contain customers’ sensitive or personal information. This protects merchants from losses caused by fraud or fraudulent chargebacks, and there is no need for PCI compliance. Merchants can easily expand to new markets where either credit cards are not available or fraud rates are unacceptably high. The net results are lower fees, larger markets, and fewer administrative costs.
Security and Control
Bitcoin users are in full control of their transactions; it is impossible for merchants to force unwanted or unnoticed charges as can happen with other payment methods. Bitcoin payments can be made without personal information tied to the transaction. This offers strong protection against identity theft. Bitcoin users can also protect their money with backup and encryption.
Transparent and Neutral
All information concerning the Bitcoin money supply itself is readily available on the block chain for anybody to verify and use in real-time. No individual or organization can control or manipulate the Bitcoin protocol because it is cryptographically secure. This allows the core of Bitcoin to be trusted for being completely neutral, transparent and predictable.
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On Sunday July 2, 2017 we had a tremendous time of worship at Grace Missionary Church. At both services there were powerfully delivered sermons that have the potential to be dramatically life changing if they are implemented. Allow me to share them with you.
Please find links to download for your listening empowerment the two messages from last Sunday
Is there provision in social security from cancer patients? This article will highlight one particular provision. In 2017, more than a million people will be diagnosed with cancer around the
world. This alarming statistic affects people and families everywhere. Chances
are, you know someone who has been affected by this terrible disease.
On June 4, we observe National Cancer Survivors Day in the United States. In
support of this day, Social Security encourages getting checkups to provide early
detection, raise awareness through education, and recognize the survivors who
have gone through this battle or are still living with the disease.
Social Security stands strong in our support of the fight against cancer. The Federal system is actually quite excited to let persons know about the social security for cancer patients. “We offer services to patients dealing with this disease through our disability insurance
program and our Compassionate Allowances program. Compassionate
Allowances are cases with medical conditions so severe they obviously meet
Social Security’s disability standards, allowing us to process the cases quickly
with minimal medical information. Many cancers are part of our Compassionate
There’s no special application or form you need to submit for Compassionate
Allowances. Simply apply for disability benefits online, in-person or over the
phone. Once we identify you as having a Compassionate Allowances condition,
we’ll expedite your disability application.
Social Security establishes Compassionate Allowances conditions using
information received at public outreach hearings, from our employees, who
review millions of disability cases each year, from medical and scientific experts,
and from data based on our research. For more information about
Compassionate Allowances, including the list of eligible conditions, visit This Site
The information for this post originally appeared as EVERYTHING SOCIAL SECURITY: Compassionate
Allowances supports those battling cancer
6/11/2017 EVERYTHING SOCIAL SECURITY: Compassionate Allowances supports those battling cancer News Hanover Mariner Hanover, MA
You may also check this Federal Disability Program.
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Should you invest in Bitcoin? Is it a good investment?
Do you want to invest in Bitcoin? Investing in Bitcoin is risky, but that’s old news. We have gathered a lot of information about Bitcoin as a possible investment form.
Technically, Bitcoin is the most innovative and revolutionary invention since the introduction of the Internet. These are the main revolutions about how money works and what money is: a free uncensored communication tool and unit of account value within a debt-free p2p financial system that works autonomously without third parties. Free money in your ownership that can not be manipulated. It works as digital cash without the intervention of banks or other third parties. In fact, there are no slave-master relationships in relation to money and other power relationships, in fact, communicates and represents fiat money. Everybody is right, everybody is master and master of his own Bitcoins. Bitcoin is a system that works on the basis of decentralization , disintermediation, freedom, consensus and the elimination of all unnecessary costs and third parties. In addition, Bitcoin has a built-in scissors with a maximum limit of 21 million bitcoins. They can not be printed. Thanks to innovative fintech companies such as CryptoPay , SpectroCoin , Uphold and the Dutch company BTCdirect , it is now possible to use Bitcoin as a free means of transport for all possible investments in foreign currency and precious metals. In addition, Bitcoin is more than a crypto currency, it is programmable money for programming additional added value within the expanding free global peer-to-peer BITIN network and economy.
In fact, there are no limits to how bitcoin technology can be deployed to reform our current financial world and the big business, corporate economy. Do not even think about Bitcoin’s price fluctuations, but the revolutionary power and capabilities that come from a technological point of view.
The future will be formed by Bitcoin together with Litecoin and other crypto-equity networks ( Ethereum , Ripple , NXT , Bitshares, etc.). Banks will have to adjust. For a good course about the Bitcoin economy, I can recommend the following course for beginners: The Secrets of the Bitcoin Triangle! The next course of Diginomics, Bitcoin Economics , is advanced. These courses can be complimented with a Cryptocurrency trading course in case you want to earn good money in the short term with Bitcoin price volatility and other crypto coins. It is likely that a Bitcoin ETF will be released on the stock exchange in 2017. This will greatly simplify investing in Bitcoin for many institutional investors. For more information: Bitcoin Trading Guide & The Cryptocurrency Trading Guide!
Welcome to this long introduction to the new revolution and upcoming paradigm shift. In light of our current global financial context, this will provide many perspectives on the question: Why should I invest in Bitcoin? Let’s keep on thinking about it again:
What are the facts about investing in Bitcoin and making the bitcoins deal so interesting:
- Major investors and investment banks are now investing large amounts in all kinds of fintech and bitcoin projects. A well-known investor in Bitcoin companies is Marc Andreessen’s venture capital company, Andreessen Horowitz. Marc has helped build companies like Skype, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, AirBNB and most recently Oculus VR (known from the Rift Free Glasses ). He sees enormous potential in Bitcoin and has already invested more than $ 50 million in Bitcoin-related startups. Steam, the game developer known for the new SteamVR platform for HTC Vive , will now also accept bitcoins. The trend is simple, more and more companies accept bitcoins as a means of payment, more and more fintech companies use Bitcoin’s Blockchain as the backbone of their operations.
- Nowadays, there are also more and more banks that invest in Bitcoin related projects. For example, the Deutsche Bank and UBS have worked on their own internal cryptocurrency, the Utility Settlement Coin . Goldman Sachs is working on the SETLcoin . There are also more and more bankers who switch from traditional banks and financial institutions to fintech and Bitcoin 2.0 companies that invest in the development of new fintech services . Here is a Concrete example : the infamous Blythe Masters , a top executive at JP Morgen, has switched to Digital Assets Holding LLC . According to Masters, because Bitcoin technology will restore confidence in the financial markets … what does she know what we do not know as citizens again? Will confidence soon be gone as in the 2008 latest crisis crisis? 2016 has clearly been the year in which Bitcoin has been used in China in particular for capital flight , so as to effectively avoid monetary devaluation. The fiat currency wars and open-ended money presses lead to cash devaluation and undermine trust in their own currency. Bitcoin is a flight route and can also serve as a bridge for safer currencies such as the US Dollar and gold . You can manage these through the Spectrocoin bitcoin fair in one wallet!
- A possible currency and trade war between China and the US is on the cards. Devaluations are likely to occur. Due to the emergence of fintech services, people around the world can buy much easier and cheaper Bitcoins, but also American Dollars. This can easily be done through a Bitcoin fair with an app on a smart phone! The trend has been deployed, more and more people across the world are switching to Bitcoin when the US Dollar will devaluate. In 2017, with the upcoming elections in France and Germany, confidence in the Euro and the European Union is likely to be further eradicated. Will more and more Europeans wake up and also use Bitcoin to discover new financial opportunities for converting cheaper euros into foreign currencies, precious metals or just Bitcoin as a safe haven ? Despite the Bitcoin bokkes leaps, the Euro has become much cheaper over the past two years. Beginning 2015, you could buy another Bitcoin by 200 euros, by the end of 2016 you should already count more than 800 euros! A price correction can certainly happen, but there is a clear trend. Bitcoin is a way of avoiding cash depreciation and investing alternatively in not only Bitcoin, but also other currencies, precious metals and crypto-equity. This will further improve Bitcoin’s market capitalization.
- Bitcoin’s market capitalization is also developing well and the prospects in 2017 are very positive. More and more people will use Bitcoin as a means of transaction through the smartphone. The Bitcoin Investment Instruments and Funds on the stock exchange will further greatly increase market capitalization. Investing in bitcoins is also very interesting from this perspective.
- The demand for bitcoins is increasing. You can clearly see this in the overview above. The number of bitcoin transactions, wallets and volumes increases significantly. In addition, relative volatility decreases and more and more people use bitcoin wallets .
- Bitcoins are now also a legal tender in Japan. The Bitcoin market in Japan will grow rapidly and within a short period more than 270,000 companies will accept Bitoin as a payment tool in addition to the Yen.
- Another important factor is the development of financial instruments for investing in Bitcon. Indeed, forces in Wall Street are working on the launch of Bitcoin ETFs and Bitcoin Options . These will probably be approved by the end of 2017. This will enable large institutional investors to add Bitcoin into their portfolios. US Dollars from Wall Street will push the Bitcoin course with great zigzag movements and further strengthen Bitcoin’s market capitalization. This will certainly happen if the US Dollar is over its peak and will be less valuable in the long term. Trump wants to industrialize America again, and in the end, he has no expensive dollar. Bitcoin options and ETFs will bridge the world of stock exchanges and institutional investors and the Bitcoin ecosystem. ETFs and Options are clearly regulated forms of investment. US capital can now easily invest in Bitcoin. A strong Dollar is not good for export and factory recovery to the US A Bitcoin ETF is in the interests of Trump’s export policy as it will provide a regulated valve to escape some American-American balloon air. This will of course affect the Bitcoin rate !
- By the way, this is my personal opinion (and this is not a professional investment portfolio) about Bitcoin as a potentially good investment in 2017. For more information:
- Where and how can I buy Bitcoins?
Further considerations – Investing in Bitcoin in the light of the rise of fintech, banks and monetary devaluation.
Generally, banks are thinking about what Bitcoin can do for their profits. It is therefore not strange that Bitcoin is primarily being demoted to make investors and ordinary citizens afraid of using this technology to realize their own freedom in terms of privacy and finance. The mind is out of the bottle, the banks will not get it in the bottle again. They are therefore also working hard on their own internal Bitcoin-like projects. Bitcoin is autonomous and no longer to stop. Bitcoin may well work as a black hole for fiat money issued by banks in a scenario of hyperinflation. This scenario is one of the possibilities in the near future when the central banks lose control over the ongoing monetary expansion programs. An enormous monetary devaluation will take place, with everyone trying to move in alternative investments outside the financial system: gold , silver and bitcoin . Central banks will be forced to reform and anchor the financial system into a new gold standard. This will probably be achieved through the SDRs of the IMF.
In general, Bitcoin is a thorn in the eyes of banks. It costs money to maintain a bank account and there are all kinds of costs to use your money. In addition, the banks do not give interest anymore. The maintenance of a bank account is not at present without risks and a cost item. The banks, in fact, force our money to invest in options , CFDs , binary options and other derivatives. Banksparen is no longer attractive to us. While they themselves keep all the money they get for almost noppes themselves. Loans are almost no longer provided to the small citizen. Our fiat money cuts our purchasing power and our Western banking based on fractional banking is responsible for the misery. Ultimately, they are responsible for the European crisis and the crash of the USD as the world reserve currency and all other manipulations in the area of LIBOR, gold and the FOREX market. Only this trend represents huge risks and makes investing in bitcoin attractive. More and more people are awake about what our banking industry actually represents. This will also encourage more and more people to use cryptocurrency.
Investing in Bitcoin can be done from the point of view that will continue to develop as a better and cheaper payroll network for the citizens. Bitcoin can develop as the first global open payment network. In this regard, Bitcoin will compete with Skrill , PayPal and Mastercard. Although it appears that these companies will integrate Bitcoin into their own payment networks. These are payment networks owned by a specific company that determines all rules and costs. This is not the case with Bitcoin. Bitcoin is not a business, no one is the owner of Bitcoin. It is not regulated or restricted by anyone. Her inherent limitations and possibilities are mathematical only. Bitcoin, as a free platform, is a potential fertile ground for new technological innovations. In this respect, it is possible to draw a parallel with the Internet. The internet was initially toys for computer nerds. Everyone thought that centralized online service providers like AOL and Compuserve would best serve the citizens. Certainly she provided an excellent service, but on the free internet, everyone was free to innovate. Computer nerds soon developed all kinds of protocols, the World Wide Web, Search Engines like Google, Youtube ect. Many Bitcoin optimists believe that innovation within the Bitcoin ecosystem offers the ability to perfect Bitcoin-based payment systems that will outline the traditional payment systems. Investing in Bitcoin is very interesting from this point of view.
Why could Bitcoin provide better services?
Look at international money transfer systems like Moneygram and Western Union. These are terribly expensive and slow service providers. Bitcoin entrepreneurs could better assist these customers to use Bitcoin to immediately transfer the money and convert it back to the local currency. Bitcoin is thus used to send the money from a particular currency in a country to another currency of another country at a fast and cheap rate. There is a lot of money to save for the citizens, while offering great opportunities for Bitcoin entrepreneurs. Here a lot of things can happen in the short term.
A daring step would be to compete with full Bitcoin credit / debit card payment system. This will take some more time and especially more companies that accept Bitcoins as a means of payment. Bitcoin needs to be made more attractive so that everyone can easily use Bitcoin as a means of payment. This is just work in process and will surely bring fruit in the long run, especially when youngsters and retailers Bitcoin will embrace more and more. Nevertheless, Bitcoin Debit cards are already available, which work through the Mastercard network, allowing Bitcoin owners to instantly spend their Bitcoins in stores that do not accept Bitcoin. This is a special new development: Bitcoin Debit Cards .
Bitcoin is much more than just an alternative, cheaper and decentralized payment network. Bitcoin is based on powerful new technological innovation, the blockchain. Blockchain allows trustless transactions between trading parties. The required trusted intermediary who monitors transactions, but also makes it expensive and slow, can in many cases be lost. The blockchain can thus be used to make so-called smart contracts. These smart contracts can be written and programmed in the blockchain using a user-friendly program. These are currently being developed by Veritaseum in the form of UltraCoin and Ethereum to develop the shape of EtherScript. For example, this allows you to write a testament yourself and run it automatically without the intervention of third / trusted parties. The testament with, for example, the money in the form of Bitcoin and your physical property has been incorporated into the contract and automatically checks the death register automatically. When you die and appear in the registry, the contract will be executed automatically. No one has to keep a will, no notary will be adjusting to carry out the will according to your wishes.
Well, this is only a possible application of smart contracts. You can set them up for each transaction and trade agreement. Bitcoins are programmable smart money and can be linked to smart devices and objects. In this sense, Bitcoin will play an important role in the development of the Internet of Things – the Internet of Things (IoT) . This is being overlooked at this moment. Most people starve blindly at Bitcoins as a currency and the fact that this digital cash money is stolen and may fluctuate in price (expressed in euros). The long-term perspective for Bitcoin as a technological invention with all sorts of new applications as well as smart money within a world of smart objects is extremely unlimited. A technological paradigm shift in the field of money and the operation of money will ultimately take place in the future.
Back to the world of traditional dinosaur banks. UltraCoin has the ambition to make investment banks unnecessary. Everyone can become an investment bank and can act directly in shares, options, CFDs and binary options without the intervention of an expensive brokerage company. You can see that the applications in this area are enormous and can completely change our stock market trading. For more information: Bitcoin Economics course.
Investing in Bitcoin – it has solid underlying infrastructure!
What often loses sight of investors is that Bitcoin is being maintained on the basis of a huge network of delvers (miners). There are over 300,000 delvers active that maintain the network. These dolphins have invested heavily in a supporting infrastructure and hardware.
To give you an idea of the power and resources, you’ll find the following: If Google would make all its hardware and servers available to dig Bitcoins, that would represent no more than 1% share of the network. The internet giant Google will never be able to maintain the Bitcoin network. Bitcoin stands on solid, huge hardware fundamentals! It is not a baked digital air.
Investing in Bitcoin – Risks:
A problem with Bitcoin is that the price fluctuates quite a bit. Investing in Bitcoin is risky, but that is, of course, a normal aspect of investment, especially when many investors use price-speculation in the short term. This does not make Bitcoin suitable as a currency, but as a money transfer system. In this short term, the most advantage will be achieved and will also push Bitcoin’s price further up. It can shake the entire FOREX market on the foundations. Do you want to speculate with Bitcoin and make a lot of money on small price changes?
“Which Song” is a critical reflection upon the current praise and worship phenomenon sweeping the world. It is a sermon based on Psalm 137 where I raise the question of whether the songs choices in praise and worship sessions are adequately reflecting the lived experience of the gathered worshippers. This was preached some years ago but I had cause to revisit it this past Mother’s Day when preparing the speak from Jer. 9. 17ff a call to the mothers and women of the land to wail over the status quo. As always I value your comments and interaction on the blog post. Thanks
The Music Department has chosen to call the gathered community at Grace this month to sing… to sing praises unto God. I think it is fairly safe to say that the majority of the congregants need no convincing of the reasons why we should sing praises unto God so rather than taking the easy way out and delineating such reasons let’s take the rough road of asking what kind of song should we sing?
Someone may just be rolling their eyes and saying “duh!”… a worship song of course” or a “gospel song of course”. My thoughts are not that basic this morning though…
Is it true that praise unto God necessarily means noise? Necessarily means clapping, shouting, dancing, smiles all around? What hymn did Jesus and disciples sing at the end of the last supper? Is there a place for mournful words in our praise?
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress
And the way grows weary and long?
Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed
To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief there is no relief,
Though my tears flow all the night long?
Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks,
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?
In 1901 Frank Graeff went through some very difficult trials. The period before writing this song was one of great despondency, doubt and physical pain. When he turned to God’s Word, 1 Peter 5:7 gave wonderful comfort: “He cares for you.” After meditating on that truth, Graeff wrote these lyrics, with the resounding affirmation in the chorus, “O yes, He cares…”
True biblical worship so satisfies our total personality that we don’t have to shop around for man-made substitutes. William Temple made this clear in his masterful definition of worship:
For worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose — and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.
This is the kind of experience that the gathered congregant often seeks, and comes expecting… a release… a cleansing… a solace… a place where their lived experience is tempered by the Divine encounter… a place where the crucible of life changes from a ‘a so de ting set’ to an instrument of purpose.
Songs, worship, praise and worship, singing, song service or any other variant that makes up the cult in church circles which fail to penetrate the whole man in the manner described by Temple are therefore to be seen as futile babblings and a decoration on the program, printed or otherwise.
The Psalm before us today is fairly well known… at least its words find their way on the lips of those of the church who frequent wakes and nine nights… it is not the kind of psalm that makes it unto the praise and worship list very often in recent times. By contrast it is an all-time favorite among the rastafarians, whose concept of Babylon is as ubiquitous as their locks and pronouncement of JAH. I have chosen this Psalm to raise the question of which song.
The Psalm raises the question of whether or not the singing in our churches today are connected or far removed from the lived experiences of the worshippers. There are three movements in the Psalm ( and bear in mind that the Psalm itself was written as a song or poem at the very least). The movements are the context, the content and the catharsis. I’d like to suggest that we use those same movements to help us answer the question of which song.
The Israelites who first sang this song were captives in Babylon, working in a slave camp beside one of Babylon’s rivers. The Babylonian slave-masters tried to create some amusement for themselves (and some torment for their victims) by asking the downcast slaves to sing some of the merry songs of glorious Jerusalem (1-3). The cruel insults of the slave-masters pierce the hearts of the Israelites, because their beloved Jerusalem is in ruins. How can they forget all that Jerusalem means to them by singing songs that would now be a mockery? And all this just to amuse the slave-masters!
- Are song leaders sometimes guilty of asking the downcast to sing merry songs?
- Do song leaders sometimes demand songs of joy, complete with the movements of joy… clapping, standing, dancing, shouting?
These Israelites had a very clear sense of their context. Their nation had been plundered, their temple hazed to the ground, their God insulted, their ego shattered, their women raped, their children and elderly dehumanized, their identity assailed. Their harps were perhaps the last vestige of Jerusalem allowed to be taken in Babylon. As they sat down by the river side tired and weary, wounded and broken they hung their harps on the poplar trees. This is no time for merriment and instruments.
Can we identify such an acute awareness of an sensitivity to the national context in the space of public singing and worship? I’m suggesting to us that generally speaking the answer is a resounding no! There is usually very little that connects the what and the how of singing to our context.
Who mourned over the student from Penwood high who killed another recently… the girl who killed her sister… and what of the Public Defender’s Tivoli report? A report with chilling accounts… parts of which sound like a re-reading of psalm 137. Where does the weekly news feature in our song selections?
True believers should mourn when they see the church harassed, and find themselves unable to comfort her. In these our times the Babylon of error ravages the city of God, and the hearts of the faithful should be grievously wounded as they see truth fallen in the streets, and unbelief rampant among the professed servants of the Lord.
In the Psalm the content is naturally informed by the context… flows out of the context. In light of the state of affairs the exiles affirm their identity as the people of YAHWEH… refuse to sing for sing sake, refuse to sing to please the enemy, would not allow the enemy to add insult to injury. In graphic language they declare their ultimate allegiance to The Ultimate Power. The empire’s boot may have been at their throat, and the emperor’s sword on the heart but they will not forget Jerusalem and they will not make anything or anyone else their highest joy… their allegiance was not to Jerusalem the place but to the God of Jerusalem, the God who had established Jerusalem.
Compare the zeal of the exiles for their temple with the zeal of Jesus for the temple… Jesus’ zeal over the temple had much less to do with the temple itself and the cult/worship act of prayer itself and much more to do with the people who were being deprived of the opportunity to connect with God… the poor and the gentiles…
In “I was just wondering” Philip Yancey points out the fact that Jesus announced a great reversal of values in his Sermon on the Mount, elevating not the rich or attractive, but rather the poor, the persecuted, and those who mourn. Instead of lauding such traits as wealth, political power, and physical beauty, he warned against their dangers. A passage like Luke 18 shows the kind of people who impressed Jesus: an oppressed widow, a despairing tax collector, a small child, a blind beggar.
Where are those kinds of people located in our songs?
There are some striking similarities between the exiles’ experience in Babylon and the plight of our fore-parents, uprooted from Africa and enslaved in the West. They were mockingly asked to sing tribal songs, yet forbidden to speak tribal languages otherwise. Could there be a lingering trace of this when social lines are drawn and brought into the debate over the patois Bible? The songs of the slaves and the songs of the ex-slaves were immersed in a context, their harsh contexts… their contents represented resolve, courage, comfort, hope and solidarity. Far from being nebulous and foregin in language, imagery and style. “Swing low sweet chariots,” Kumbaya” “The woma of Samaria…” all came out of the belly of the beast as it were.
Philip Yancey, (p. 31, Reaching for the Invisible God) : Modern evangelicalism summons us to know God, to talk to God in conversational language, to love God as one might love a friend. Listen to the ‘praise’ songs in modern churches, which sound exactly like love songs played on pop radio, with God or Jesus substituted as the lover.
Whether consciously or unconsciously the religiously radio disc jockeys feed the listening public a steady diet of such songs typically originating in the North. An informal survey across churches in Jamaica on any given weekend will leave you wondering if there is a Praise and worship prime minister who sends out an email each weekend with the list of songs to be sung.
Then many of the songs that do emerge from the local artistes are either an almost exact replica of the ones from the North as described above [if loving you is wrong I don’t want to be right]… or woefully lacking in Biblical depth and theological correctness. The theology reeks of the name it and claim it prosperity gospel virus.
We hear much in our music which is frightening and very bothering. We have lost the doctrinal integrity of such great songs of the kingdom as “And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviour’s blood” and have settled for such Christian entertainment as “God Ragga” which though good in intents says the following:
Welcome to one a God ragga ragga,
Wi worship with attitude, style and swagga.
Nuttn nu wrong if mi praise God and fly
A nuh sin if my Bible case even match mi tie
Italian suits sharp like samari
When yu si mi kicks (meaning “shoes” for the uninitiated) yu know a reptile die!!!
In the later verses ( Psalms 137:7-9 ), we have utterances of burning indignation against the chief adversaries of Israel, a righteous and a blazing indignation. Those who find it harsh perhaps may have a different perspective if they experience the Babylonian boot. It is one thing to talk of the bitter feeling which moved captive Israelites in Babylon, and quite another thing to be captives ourselves under a savage and remorseless power, which knew not how to show mercy, but delighted in barbarities to the defenseless. The song is such as might fitly be sung in the Jews’ wailing place. It is a fruit of the Captivity in Babylon, and often has it gve expression for sorrows which otherwise would have had been unutterable. The song is a call for justice, when read in light of the ‘eye for an eye’ maxim.
What would a song composed out of the Tivoli Commission of Inquiry report look like in the stanza of catharsis?
Amy Carmichael when criticized for her humanitarian work in India, responded, “One cannot save and then pitchfork souls into heaven…Souls are more or less securely fastened to bodies…and as you cannot get the souls out and deal with them separately, you have to take them both together.”
Jo-Ann Richards’ launch of CREW40:4 is timely and epoch making. An acronym for Culturally Relevant Expressions of Worship, the ministry seeks to promote the formulation of music that is culturally relevant and authentically true to one’s national identity. I laud Jo-Ann’s passion and efforts in this regard. She is a pioneer in helping us to begin to grapple with what it means to worship God is Spirit and in Truth.