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A few weeks ago, I purchased a new banjo. I have owned several over the years, but this is the first new one I have ever purchased.

I figured since it was new it wouldn’t have any bad habits attached to it by the previous owner who may have messed it up with their bad playing. Of course, that was just wishful thinking, because a banjo doesn’t have a memory. Either the owner can play it or not.

I picked out the new banjo that I wanted, and then I bought it. This banjo does not look like a normal banjo, because it is totally black, from the wood to the head. I think it looks great, and I named my banjo, “The Black Mamba.”

Now all I have to do is to learn to play it.

Some people are gifted musicians who can play any instrument they pick up. These special people can hear a song one time and play it to perfection without any practice.

I am not one of these people.

I struggle to get my fingers on my right hand to “roll” in the correct formation on the strings, and my fingers on my left hand get confused trying to find the right strings to “chord” at the right time.

To make matters worse, I can’t get my right hand and my left hand to be in “time” with each other, which really makes it difficult to identify what song I am trying to play. I’m not going to give up learning to play the banjo this time. I have the banjo that I want, I know the songs I want to play, I have the determination to practice, and now what I need is practice, practice, and more practice.

Before I start each practice, I have to tune each string on the banjo to make sure the banjo will sound correct when I play it. Banjos, even expensive ones, need to be tuned on a constant basis. One string out of tune and the banjo would sound like a car driving down the road with a flat tire, or worse, like a gang of cats fighting outside your bedroom window at 3 in the morning.

It is an irritating sound to hear someone try to play a banjo that is out of tune. An out of tune banjo brings a sickness to the ear and stomach, and can make your skin draw up as if you had just jumped into a lake on a very cold day.

Yes, I believe learning to tune a banjo is one of the most important parts of playing a banjo. When a banjo is in tune it is a beautiful instrument that can play any type of music you choose to learn. A banjo in tune and properly played can bark like a dog or purr like a kitten, in a good way!

I believe the Christian life is like a banjo. Our lives must be in tune with the Holy Spirit and Scripture to be a blessing to others. We must constantly be in study of the word and sensitive to the spirit of God to be helpful to others in this life.

A Christian life out of tune with God’s spirit and word can bring painful consequences to the body and soul. When Jesus lived upon this earth we read where he spent a great deal of time in prayer with his heavenly father.

Why?

Because Jesus wanted to be in tune with God’s will for his life. Jesus never lost focus on what the father’s will was for his life because he constantly stayed in contact with God. We should live by the example of Jesus. Psalm 23:1-3 says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Being “in tune” with God’s spirit allows us to go to the places he wants us to go, to say the things he wants us to say, and to do the things he wants us to do. If we are “out of tune” our lives will lose the significance and impact of being children of God. Take time today and make sure you are in tune with God. Remember, don’t give in to sin. Think about it.

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Vince Hefner is pastor of First Baptist Church in Cherryville.

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