Soul Music

GodReflection:Is It Well with My Soul?

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul (Psalms 108:1).

gary-portraitKing David, was the man God found who reflected His own heart. He more than anyone else in God’s story was God’s instrument to give us soul music. Just after our introduction to the shepherd boy we see God place him in the palace to calm Saul’s soul with music.

sic1To read about David’s life is to see he fed his soul with music. With harp and pen he composed a hymnal that has nurtured countless souls of God’s people for the past three thousand years.

In contrast to King David I’ve never written a song nor can I play even a note on a harp or any other instrument. To feed from music I have to depend upon David and other musicians and poets who have followed through the centuries.

In spite of this deficit in talent and training I was born into a musical church. Like David, music15music for the soul was God’s assignment for Theron Jay a gifted tenor who drew the rest of us into his passion. Anytime there might be a three-minute void in a worship service Theron stood ready to fill it with a song. Through music he brought celebration to the soul at weddings and comfort to the soul at funerals.

In the tradition of King David, he taught us music to praise the Father and to feed the soul. Through words of rhyme and rhythm came profound instruction and expression of God implanted inner thoughts and feelings that served as formative food for my soul. I doubt it crossed my mind that I was being given a tool for soul nutrition. I’m sure I failed to realize the formative nature of the various hymnals used by our church over my eighteen years of youth.

music13Yet, I stand amazed at how often one of the old songs drops into my mind for a visit. It is as if they come by to feed my soul.

This year I’ve begun a strange project (get ready to roll your eyes). I pulled from my bookshelf the hymnal Songs of Faith and Praise. The book contains one thousand twenty-nine songs. The idea is to read each of them this calendar year.

Already I find myself humming as I read. Some are old friends while others are new acquaintances. I suspect I will ingest a healthy number of veggies along the way.

Among the instructions from Paul the apostle to the churches are the following two verses on the benefit of music to soul health.

music7Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord . . . (Ephesians 5:19) and Let the word of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit with gratitude in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16).

To read slowly these two verses is to hear the power of soul music. It is a gift we can give each other and a resource we can possess to breathe life into our own soul. It lets God know our hearts beat with His.

Is it well with my soul? A portion of the answer just might be found in soul music.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Soul Music

Soul Talk

GodReflection:Is It Well with My Soul?

“I heard Your voice from on high. “I am the food of the fully grown. Grow and you will feed on me. And you will not change Me into you, like the food of flesh eats. But you will be changed into Me.” – Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
gary-portraitGrandpa seem to enjoy the company of his own self. It was in a good way. He made art from what is a rarity of our current century. He was a classic piddlier. Grandpa was never bored—he piddled. To piddle was to be busy regardless of the lack of importance attached to the task at hand. As he piddled he mumbled to himself.

On the back of his lot and adjacent to the alley he had a little wood framed shop/storage room—think really little.  It wasn’t uncommon to come upon him with his back bent over his junk bench as he talked himself through his current project. Perhaps soultalk2he was oiling his fishing reel or looking for a lid to fit a jar.

Now in my reflective years I find that I’m often astonished to the degree that I mimic Grandpa. When I am alone my own spoken words come forth to reprimand, praise and accompany myself through my daily duties.

In my last post I identified four tags I use to find food for my soul. I mentioned Soul Showers and Soul Walk. The third tag I’ve found for soul food is Soul Talk.

Grandpa may have been onto something. Perhaps I too should talk out loud and direct one-sided conversation to my soul. Maybe Soul Talk can be vital to a healthy soul.

soultalk14With each new day I want to use increased care with the words that speak to my soul. I want to be careful to not speak negativity into my soul. I want to remind my soul to seek what is good and right.

I asked in a former post for input on how others go about the task to feed their soul. One lifelong friend wrote: one of the things I have done intentionally is to control what I allow into my mind—what I watch, what I listen to, what I read, what I hear around me. And that has helped me to focus on my spiritual walk with Jesus.

Quickly I identified. By control of what I watch, read and hear I monitor what speaks into my soul. My mind regulates Soul Talk. As I bend over my life’s work bench I talk myself through cluttered junk. “Ok Gary what are you going to do with that piece of information? . . . Boy, I blew it that time, Lord help me to depend upon you more fully the next time a similar situation comes up.”

soultalk4When I declare to myself, “I need to read that book or this is the best use of my time,” it is an act of talk that feeds my soul.

With each sunrise I see with greater clarity the finish line of my earth walk. As a new day dawns may I remember to find times to utter to myself (with full awareness the Holy overhears) something akin to the words of the old church father, “I heard Your voice from on high. “I am the food of the fully grown. Grow and you will feed on me. And you will not change Me into you, like the food of flesh eats. But you will be changed into Me.” I think God might just like to see that kind of Soul Talk. What do you think?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Soul Talk

Soul Food

GodReflection:Is It Well with My Soul?

“I heard Your voice from on high. “I am the food of the fully grown. Grow and you will feed on me. And you will not change Me into you, like the food of flesh eats. But you will be changed into Me.”  – Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

gary-portraitOld Augustine caught my attention on this one. Is it possible a time will come when I am fully grown to the stature of God’s complete expectation for me? Is it possible to feed so thoroughly on the Holy that all my inner most being—my soul—becomes totally saturated and transformed into holy? This early disciple of Father, Son and Spirit had a great insight.

What sort of soul food would it require for such transformation to happen? Here is my best shot at what I think I’ve found thus far during my walk through the second half of the twentieth century and on into the first two decades of the twenty-first.  In an attempt to identify food for my soul I’ve found four tags to be helpful.

food2The first is Soul Showers. As a resident of the state of Texas it is not difficult to conjure up an image of a hot day with sun so intense that I swelter under unbearable heat. Outside is not a desired destination.

There are all too rare days when atmospheric conditions are just right for showers that result in a refreshing twenty-degree drop in the temperature.

I see rain showers as an analogy for God’s Holy Scripture. For it is in a consistent walk with God’s story that I find showers to refresh my soul. Unlike Texas rain Soul Showers are available from God’s book. I only have to open its pages as I open my heart.

food4Among the gems of King Solomon’s proverbs is this one: Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24). Within my Bible are countless precious stones inscribed with gracious words direct from the heart of Holy God. Those inscriptions leap from God’s jewelry box as primary nourishment for my soul. They come as refreshing Soul Showers.

In addition to Soul Showers I must feed my soul through efforts to Soul Walk. To learn to Soul Walk is a process. Jesus calls us like he did Simon Peter to step out of the boat onto the rough water. To keep our eyes on him is to keep our soul from the plunge into the dark deep that snuffs out God’s light.

food6It is in this act when I step into the heart and trust of Jesus that he can minister through me to others. In ways I fail to understand—as my soul walks into the waves of others to reflect a bit of Jesus’ peace something happens to me. My soul is nourished because I attempted to nourish.

To submit my heart to Jesus and let him minister to others through my daily walk feeds my soul. To Soul Walk the Jesus path is to find food for my soul.

I still have two major soul food sources to share and I see that I’ve let my word count get out of control. So it looks as if Soul Food just morphed into two posts.

See you next time. By the way, I’ve received great input from readers as to where others have discovered soul food. Some of which will be reflected in the next post. I would love to hear from you. It will enrich this series.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Soul Food

Soul Care Assures Soul Health

GodReflection:Is It Well with My Soul?

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8).

gary-portraitThe exercise market is booming without my participation. I haven’t read any statistics yet I notice gym parking lots overflow on Sunday mornings. Big box gymnasiums with lap pools and all types of exercise machine known to mankind leave only room enough for trainers and the committed to fill each square foot of floor space with their worshipful presence.

Faithfully, Sunday congregants fellowship at these mega sites and throughout the week health8in their neighborhood strip mall locations. For daily devotion time homes provide space for treadmills and bounce balls. Likewise, marathons, sports fields and courts vie for calendar space.

Should the old apostle who wrote to Timothy pop into our twenty first century I suspect even he would step back in amazement at my culture’s emphasis on physical training.

Physical training is not the only industry that competes for our attention. Trillions of monetary, physical and intellectual resources pour into efforts to feed, heal, shelter, health16transport and cloth our bodies. Market specialist invade every conscious moment to increase our relentless appetites.

In stark contrast my mailbox, television and news feeds aren’t saturated with the Creator’s tips on how to nurture my soul. The old adage “out of sight out of mind” describes the challenge to maintain soul health.

I have come to recognize two insights important to my souls’ fitness. First, my soul seems to be hardwired by God to gravitate toward Him. I read in the Psalms:  As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God (Psalms 42:1-2), Truly my soul finds rest in God (Psalms 62:1) and My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God (Psalms 84:2).

However, even with a ‘God-draw’ implanted within I find it far too easy to experience soul malnutrition. That brings me to my second AHA: soul care requires intentionality.

health15Here is my concern: resources for my physical body shout for my attention.  It is as if the care for my body is in default mode while soul care doesn’t receive the same billing. I have to be more purposeful in the search for soul nutrients.

Maybe I need to explore a variety of avenues to assure my soul is refreshed. I want to look at ways to feed my soul. In my next post I will look at soul food. Some of the ideas I propose to examine are how soul nutrition comes through Scripture, through submission of my heart to Jesus, through my daily walk and through soul music and soul talk.

At this point in my life I see no way around what seems to be the fact that soul care assures soul health.

Will you share with me ways you have discovered to nurture your ‘inner you’ and to keep your own soul healthy? What works for you to be more intentional with your soul care?

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Soul Care Assures Soul Health

My Soul—Designed by God for God

GodReflection: Is It Well with My Soul?
The Incarnate Word has been spoken. It calls the soul back to its place of peace that cannot be disturbed and love that will never be disappointed.― Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of St. Augustine
gary-portraitTo understand all that is soul is light years beyond my pay scale. To say that the grasp I have on soul comprehension is at a kindergarten level is a generous assessment.

Since I am in God2bottomless waters let me go one step further with a statement of the obvious. I don’t understand God. Still I wonder. Can Holy God hurt? Does He feel pain? Can His Holy Heart be wounded?

When I read the first two chapters of Genesis, I see a clue as to the grand nature of God’s plan. Not enough superlatives can be stamped on the blueprint of His design. Care and perfection are obvious.

The crescendo reaches its peak when God breathes life into a perfect body. It is as if He creates galaxies, earth with abundant life and then the most amazing workweek of Eternal God, Son and Spirit is topped off with the creation of man and woman.

The Eden Garden pictures God, the man and the woman in perfect harmony. The human soul was wed to the Divine Heart. All was as designed.  Then, in an act beyond my capacity to understand Satan invades garden space and steals the souls’ allegiance from Holy God.

God7Surely, the heart of God must have hurt and ached with pain beyond human comprehension. The Divine-designed soul was highjacked.

Yet, embedded in His treasured creation the eternal soul held its blueprint. It was designed by God for God. The Creators aim was the human soul’s eternal existence in His presence.

Like a trail through mountains and meadows Scripture paints the path of the soul from our first breath to life in the next reality. In God fashion the journey leaves out enough detail to solicit from each of His children trust and faith in His faithful care.

For thousands oGod8f years a rejected God walks with humanity through the spiritual desert created by the fallen men and women of His Eden dreams.

In my New Testament the story of God crescendos once again just as it had in the creation of man. This time the plot line starts with an Angel visit to Mary and Joseph. Events from that visit rise to a climax in the ministry of Jesus. Then comes the plod through the sad scenes on Mt. Calvary with the final crescendo in the resurrection and ascension.

I see three major crescendos as God sings out the high notes of the soul design:

In the first climax God placed an eternal soul in humankind.

In the second high peak God provided Jesus as the sacrificial means to realign man’s soul to the Father.

Now in the third zenith of Holy history God envision the soul in His eternal fellowship. It is when the Holy Spirit breaks out in The Acts of the Apostles the third Holy crescendo of God’s story begins. The repentant crowd cries to the Apostle Peter, “What shall we do?” The response is, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The remainder of Scripture builds toward eternity where not only now but in a forever reunion the newly cleansed soul filled with the Holy Spirit of God will enjoy a forever reunion with its Creator.

Even today that third wave continues to climb toward its peak. Pretty awesome to contemplate the reality that my soul—everything that is my essence identified as Gary—was designed by God for God.

Would our lives become a stronger witness if each one of us who trust Jesus were to live each day as a soul designed by God for God?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: My Soul—Designed by God for God

God Calls on a Wide Bandwidth

GodReflection: When God Calls

gary portraitIs it possible that God has called out to you throughout your life and you have responded, even though you were unaware that He direct dialed your number to speak specifically to you?

In some ways that question came into greater focus when a cousin asked me a second question: “When was it that you first began to hold your current views?”

band4In an attempt at an answer I realized a specific time, place, person, or book could not be identified. Perhaps God has dialed into my wavelength at crucial times throughout my walk.

Who I am and what I believe today comes from a life process colored by my wiring, family, education, church, and probably specific people I’ve met along life’s road.
I’m starting to observe that God calls on a wide bandwidth.

It seems appropriate to revisit some of the ideas I’ve considered on my previous blog posts. At the same time, I believe the story of Scripture supports these observations.

band8I have come to see the calls from God upon my life have come through my success and failures in matching my DNA gift set to the tasks He set before me. He didn’t call me to be a policeman or a firefighter because I have zero aptitude for those jobs. Early in life it was obvious those jobs weren’t a match.

In addition, although I couldn’t see it at the time, I am confident God used family orientation and influence to craft the calls He has had upon my life.

band9Then there was education. Outside of God’s call, the educational opportunities placed before me throughout my life make zero sense for a boy born in the desert of New Mexico only thirty-five years after its statehood. College graduates on our family tree was rather sparse when I left high school.

I must not overlook church. I have no doubt that God has used those who make up the Body of Christ to get my attention and to assist from time to time with added clarity to set direction. Yes, at times God’s call upon my life has come through His people.

In an unexpected way, I suspect God has called me through friendships and writings of those who laid very little claim—if any at all—to an allegiance with Jesus.

band2It is fair to say that whether I realized it at the time or not, God used the broadband provided by all of the above to echo His call into my life. I’m sure there are other areas that I have missed.

To me the sad part of the story is there were many times I didn’t have the eyes to see that it was God who was opening and closing doors.

I am reminded of a section of Psalms 119:

I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
Be good to your servant while I live, that I may obey your word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me.

band11Wouldn’t it be neat to be more aware of God’s calls? Oh, I’m not only thinking about the “biggies”. Most of the time those are easy enough to identify. Were I to rewrite the Psalmist’s words for my here and now I think I would pen: Open my eyes that I may see Jesus and open my heart that I may recognize His call 24/7.

Are there specific times when you have distinctively heard His call? In hindsight, were there times or influence that came about in your life when God called and you made the right or wrong decision unaware of His presence?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: God Calls on a Wide Bandwidth

I Worship With Available Light

GodReflection: Is Worship for God or for Me?
For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have (2 Corinthians 8:12).
gary portraitIn the autobiography of the late Leroy Garrett a Harvard trained theologian and historian of the Stone-Campbell movement, he highlights a principle valued by Alexander Campbell, “the principle of available light.”

He argued that we are judged by our obedience to the light that we have. I like two of Campbell’s summation statements. “No man can be justified today by living in accordance with the knowledge that he had yesterday,” and “I must obey the light which God has given me.”

light6It seems to me that is not a bad principle to taken into consideration as I assembly with believers to worship. The more I understand the more I grow.

Perhaps as available light shines from the cross on our joint worship experience we can see that our group effort honors God and blesses us.

I live in a time of diverse worship. Because of DNA wiring both participants and leaders worship as unique creations of God.

light2Artsy people and accountants are wired drastically different. Their hearts connect to God in worship through different channels.

No matter how our hearts connect with the Holy we are all followers of Jesus, thus should strive to place others first in the assembly to insure worship is for God and for each other. With a little give and take shouldn’t that work for all of us?

light7Back to the principle of available light.

Here is what I think today.

The more I focus on the attitude of Jesus—who came in the image of God—the more Holy light comes to me to navigate life’s trail.

That not only should influence how I treat others each day, it should help me enter into the worship assembly with increased flexibility toward my brothers and sisters in Jesus.

We are all fallible humans who make an attempt to worship Holy God and be an ingredient in the mix that allows each of us to leave the assembly in a better state than we were when we entered.

Let me close this series with a prayer:

Holy God,

Each and every time I worship, whether daily or in the assembly, let me begin with a vision of your perfection and completion. May I contrast all that is You to my own humanness and fallacies.

light5May I forever be grateful that perfect You love imperfect me. With Your generosity as my guide I want to be a generous worshipper who exudes a generous spirit toward fellow disciples.

From this perspective help my life gush grace toward fellow worshippers.
Surly, worship is not totally about You the Holy God or only about what I receive but about the corporate benefit for You AND the whole assembly.

As I enter the worship assembly help me to worship to the fullest extent of what I understand the Holy wants from me. In so doing, as I want to ooze concern that everyone assembled leaves with cups that overflow.

Reassure me through Your Word, Your Spirit and through my fellow worshipper that when I enter worship with humility the experience is for the Holy, for me, and for others.

I pray through Jesus the Son.


Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: I Worship with Available Light