Anyone who knows me would certainly understand that I love good music. Music has been a foundational aspect of my life for as long as I can remember. My mind is an extensive library of songs, old and new, and that library seems to never reach a point of overload. Much of the music that is stored forever in my mind is sung by my wonderful friend, Janet Paschal.
Early last year, I invited Janet to Rainsville First to sing at Christmas. The previous year, in 2018, we had set up a concert date which ultimately fell through, because North Carolina was covered in snow. In December 2019, she made it! The concert was beautiful, and it was great to see Janet again. It was also wonderful to meet Kay, Janet’s sister, and John, her pilot…who also serves faithfully as her loving husband. I had never met John, but I will assure you that we became quick friends. He said he would let me fly his plane. John was a Senior Captain for United Airlines who flew 747's...my expectations on the plane are high!
Following the concert, we spent a few hours talking over dinner. Well, John and I were talking. As the “think-tank”, John and I solved more than a few world problems that evening. I’m not sure what everyone else did. John and I assumed they talked too, but who knows? It was a great evening with wonderful friends. We laughed, reminisced, and thoroughly enjoyed our time together.
As Janet sang through her program earlier that night, I began to recall her decades of spectacular music that has graced the lives of so many. Songs like, One Rock, Written in Red, If I’d Had My Way, God Will Make A Way…and so many more. My eyes teared up a little as I thought about how these songs integrated themselves, not just into my heart, but into my own ministry, as well. Many of Janet’s greatest hits were sang by me at churches across the southeast in the early years of my own ministry. Those songs helped to form my mindset of how wonderful God actually was and His great love for me. And, those same songs, slowly and methodically, taught me the power of one voice willing to be used by God.
We all have a voice. Some of us use that voice behind a microphone, accompanied by music, to sing to others of the wonderful message of Jesus. Many would preach or teach. Whether you have a voice that reaches many, or a voice that reaches only a few, you still have a voice. Everyone’s voice has the capacity to reach someone. What does your voice say to the world around you? If, more often than not, it’s full of gossip, opinion and complaining, then you’re probably not saying much of worth. If it’s full of compassion, grace, and love, then you may be saying more than you even realize. Using our voice is a privilege. Whether speaking or singing, our voices are created to bring glory and recognition to God. We carry a powerful message!
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” – II Corinthians 5:20. (ESV)
Have you ever stopped to really understand what that verse is actually saying? God has chosen us to carry His message to the world! He makes His appeal, His holy and righteous appeal, through our lives and our voices. What an incredible privilege to be found worthy to pass along that powerful and life-changing message. Do you view yourself as an ambassador of Christ? You should, because you are! If you do, you’ll understand the importance of your voice and the message it speaks forth.
Our minds, hearts, body, and voice are designed by a loving God to be used as ambassadors for Christ to a world in great need. That great need is Jesus. I’ve often heard it said that we may be the only “Jesus” someone will ever meet…meaning, we may be the only person who takes the time to speak the love of Christ into someone’s life. You know, we don’t meet anyone by chance. Every person crosses our path for a purpose, even when the point that “path-crossing” occurs happens as they carelessly run a red light and almost plow into the side of your car. At that moment, how you choose to use the voice that God gave you might be instrumental in their life. Know that it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to either be screaming mad and obnoxious or to “be Jesus.” What will you leave as the legacy of that spoken moment? It matters.
We’re still in the opening week of a brand new year, and this is a great time to evaluate our own voice and examine what it’s speaking to the world around us. It’s hard to always be nice to a world that may seldom extend any nicety to us, but it’s not harder than Jesus dying on a cross for the very people who nailed Him to it. Our ability to speak Jesus into our world is not dictated by our circumstances...it's chosen by the depth of our walk with the Lord. Regardless of what may be occurring at any given moment, choose to use your voice to "speak Jesus."
I thank God for Janet and her voice. I’m thankful that it’s always quick to speak and sing about the love of God. I pray my own voice would be tempered by her example, and I pray my future words might be evaluated under the light of Christ abiding within me…and those words be found worthy of the ambassadorship God has called me to.
“And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
– Revelation 14:7
The great English preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “The present age is so flippant that if a man loves the Savior, he is a fanatic, and if he hates the powers of evil, he is a bigot.” That quote would have emerged from his lips in the mid 1800’s, referencing an opinion that society held, even then, regarding true followers of Christ…”fanatical bigots.” It was a prevailing thought in the 1800’s, and it continues to be a prevailing thought to this very day.
Spurgeon’s quote is reflective of several promises in Scripture, and I’m not referring to “feel good” promises; I’m referring to the promise of some harsh criticism and ill-intent towards those who outwardly live a life that seeks to glorify God.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” – John 15:18-20 (ESV)
What does 2020 hold for you and your relationship with a sinful world? Let me encourage you to hope and pray that your walk with God is so strong that the new year will hold some harsh criticism (and even hatred) of you by a world that sees you making a difference for Christ.
Now, that doesn’t sound right, does it? Why would we hope for criticism, hatred, or even persecution? Here’s why: It’s proof that our life is showing the outward signs of the Lordship of Christ, and therefore, it’s boldly challenging the normalization of evil in our world. There will always be evil in this life, and thus, our own lives should always stand in stark contrast to that evil. So, until the Lord returns, if we are living for Christ, we can expect some problems. Frankly, instead of fearing those problems, we should revel in them.
Instead of praying that this new year holds only calm waters, agreeable peers, and great personal prosperity, would it be so odd for a serious child of God to pray that their life is at least a tad disruptive to Satan’s agenda, disruptive enough to possibly see some consequences from the opposition? Remember, if we’re not receiving opposition from the world regarding our faith, it’s probably because our faith isn’t making a difference in the world.
Do we long for that type of walk with God? Do we have the faith to pray for God to use us even if it means we will have to stand against a world full of angry people (many who identify as Christians) coming against us? I guarantee you that very few people who read this will start praying for a walk with God that produces friction, criticism, or problems of any kind, but very few people will choose to live a life that brings any challenge to the comforts of Satan’s agenda in this present age.
Let 2020 be a great year of building your walk with God, increasing your faith, and living a life that is constantly disruptive to Satan’s plans. Let people say what they will. We’re not present on this earth to please people. Expect some criticism, and walk through it empowered by a much greater vision…a vision of pleasing God by living a life in stark contrast to the world. Trust me, if you truly intend on following God, you will not please the world. Honestly, you won’t even please many of those at your church. They may think you to be crazy, fanatical, or even bigoted. In the context of this post, love the Savior, hate evil, and be the fanatical bigot!
I wish you a wonderful New Year! I hope it’s a year of happiness, health, wonderful relationships, growth in Christ, and immense disruption of Satan. If it is, expect some problems. Greet them with a smile, because your God is greater than the war that rages against Him! Live 2020 in victory, my friends!
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!