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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Joe and Jessie Caroll 2/22/10
Joe & Jessie Carroll

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"A Steady Testimony"

"I will sing to the LORD, for He has been good to me" (Psalm 13:6). "Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises" (Psalm 47:6).

Yesterday we made pastoral visits to a number of elderly friends and church members. Our first visit was at the home of Joe and Jessie Carroll who became our friends when we served in an interim pastoral role in the Harrisburg area three years ago. They were a tremendous encouragement to us at that time and through Daily Encouragement we have stayed connected as they listen daily to our podcast messages.

Sigsbee 502
Joe and Jessie have a wonderful testimony.  Joe served in the US Navy during World War 2 on the USS Sigsbee. On April 14, 1945 the Sigsbee was struck by a kamikaze plane killing many of his crewmates.  The plane struck the ship precisely where Joe's bunk was located, but he was on duty elsewhere at the time.

Following the war Joe married Jessie, fathered six children, and worked in the Harrisburg area. Jessie was a Christian and raised their children to serve the Lord, but Joe did not follow Christ nor did he attend church. Of course she and many other believers prayed for many years that Joe would be saved. She recalls how he would help her get their children dressed for church but he himself would not attend.  Maybe he was looking for some "quiet time" in the empty house.

Joe Carroll
In his late forties Joe was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx which resulted in having his larynx (voice box) removed. He underwent therapy with a speech pathologist and learned to talk again using esophageal speech.  The therapist taught Joe to force air into the top of his esophagus and then push it out again. The puff of air is like a burp. It vibrates the walls of the throat, making sound for the new voice. The tongue, lips, and teeth form words as the sound passes through the mouth. This type of speech sounds low pitched and gruff.  There are other more familiar methods of communication available to those whose larynx is removed such as a battery operated mechanical larynx device.

It was during this time of extensive trial that God began to turn Joe's life around.  He began attending church with Jessie and even financially supported the church.  God heard the faithful prayers of his wife, children, and other believers and the Spirit began to soften Joe's heart. Finally, after about a year of going to church, he surrendered his life to Jesus.

If you're reading our message carefully you might wonder by now what our story about Joe, a man without a voice, has to do with our Scripture text: "I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me." In fact the Psalmist repeatedly instructs his readers to "sing praises" four times in the next brief Scripture text, and gives good reason to do so, because God is our King.  He is worthy of our praise and adoration, no matter the circumstances of this life.

Joe exemplifies this attitude when he worships God. 
One of the great blessings we experienced when we were serving Joe's congregation was his desire to sing praise to God. I often stood several rows ahead of him and I was so blessed to hear his unique voice joining in the song of the Redeemed! As Brooksyne played the piano and led the congregation in worship she would occasionally hear Joe's voice above the rest. It never failed to move her and often brought out even more earnest, heartfelt worship in her singing and playing the piano.
Congregational singing is the highlight of Sunday morning worship. Those of us who have served the Lord for many years may take this for granted. It's an important time of worship giving opportunity for worshipers to express personal praise and thanksgiving in thoughts they store up in their hearts but feel inadequate to verbally express.  But God uses songwriters to write lyrics that express our feelings and we can espouse them as our very own when singing the words from our hearts.

Singing is found all through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The first recorded praise to God in song was following the crossing of the Red Sea. The book of Revelation makes it clear there is singing in heaven.

But the greatest concentration of references to singing in the Bible is found in the Psalms. It's rather fitting since the Greek meaning of Psalm is "A poem sung to the accompaniment of music."  Today's daily texts are just two of many examples throughout the Psalms that refer to singing.

When we sing unto the Lord during midweek service, small groups or Sunday Worship, may we do so with renewed vigor as we join our brothers and sisters in Christ and sing to our King songs of praise.  We hope Joe's testimony of singing unto the Lord will encourage you to sing out with a joyful and thankful heart!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we are inspired by those who are willing to give their all in praise and thanksgiving to You.  Joe, along with many other overcoming believers, serves as an example to us that You gladly receive all that we have to give and You multiply its effectiveness in ways that we cannot comprehend.  Thank You for the human examples You place in our path of those who overcome and find victorious living because their faith is not misplaced but it is firmly grounded in You, our Savior, Lord and soon coming King!  Amen.

Brooksyne's Note:  We were reminded yesterday of the way God has equipped our minds to retain music when we might lose our memory, both short-term and long. We were introduced to a dear 96 year old woman yesterday by her brother and sister-in-law.  She was once an educator and very much involved in ministry.  She was unable to follow our conversation and only occasionally responded properly to questions her brother asked.  It was heartbreaking to see her restrained to her bed but due to her fragility and illness it was necessary.  When her brother invited her to sing with him, "Like Gentle Dew", a hymn they had sung since childhood she immediately joined in.  Let me re-word that; she led out! Not missing a word, and singing out in a voice that could have been a soloist in a choir, she came out of her slumbering state and suddenly lit up. She proceeded to sing beautifully this song that Stephen and I were unfamiliar with, but we appreciated the lyrics. The words follow (perhaps some of our readers may be familiar with this hymn.)

Like Gentle Dew

Like gentle dew the blessings fall
From God Whose love inspires our song
Our time, our talents and our all
From Him received, to Him belong.

Then let us offer to His name
The willing sacrifice of praise
And may these grateful lips proclaim
His goodness in the notes we raise.

Joe and Red
Here's another photo of Joe, along with "Red", a friend of his who also has quite a testimony.  Red also served in the Navy during WW2 and was on the aircraft carrier Hornet that was sunk near Midway.  He was rescued after floating in the sea for sixteen days on a piece of debris. He, like Joe, also turned to the Lord later in life.

As mentioned in the message above Joe served in the Navy in the Second World War.  His ship was the destroyer Sigsbee.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Sing To The King"  Video  Passion Worship Band

"Lord, I Offer My Life Too You"  Video  A wonderful song of consecration.

"I Bless Your Name"  Video  The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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