The Power of Music {5.17.18}

Music. It’s powerful, isn’t it? It has the power to transport us back in time to a memory of a person or place. When I hear the Beach Boys for instance, I’m immediately transported to summer, windows down in the car and singing along. When I hear Christmas music I’m thinking of the love of God and time with family in a warm cozy house or caroling in the snow. power of musicEighties music reminds me of our children growing up and having fun at the lake or pool. Marching band music takes me back to my school years and marching in parades in our small town. 

I have been thinking about music since last night when I was honored to attend our grandson’s first band concert. I was so impressed with that 6th grade band. They sounded great and it was evident that they love their band director and he loves them. He made music enjoyable and fun for them while at the same time demanding and receiving their respect and attention. It was a glorious time.

I enjoy music so much! I enjoy hearing people sing and play. I also love to sing along but unfortunately for those around me, I do not have the gift of voice. I am one of those mentioned in the Bible that makes a joyful noise (at least it comes out of my heart joyful – not sure it is a joy to those who hear it).  Thankfully, people at church are kind and I sound a lot better with others around me singing in tune. In my car, the radio gives me great accompaniment.

Songs and musical instruments are not necessary to enjoy music though. Music is all around us. We can simply go outside and listen to the birds. They sing a joyful song and always seem thankful for their existence. Even doves in their cooing have a sound that is soothing to the soul.

It seems to me that music has the power to change our moods. It has the power to bring joy, love, happiness, sadness or even anxiety and anger. Just like what we read gets into our minds and hearts, what we listen to does as well. Are the words we are receiving uplifting and positive or hurtful and negative? I’m not saying we shouldn’t allow sadness or grief to enter our lives or even that we should shy from sad songs. What I am saying though is that we should all be very careful what we allow to dwell and linger in our hearts and minds.

After all, music comes from God. praise in musicThroughout the Old Testament we see how important music was to God. He took great care to share His directions about musicians. Songs and sounds from musical instruments lifted to God in praise were a delight to Him. They still are. Even after this life, heaven will be filled with our praises to God! So, why not start now? Among all the other music God has given us to enjoy, let’s make it a priority to honor and praise Him.

Ephesians 5:19-20 says, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I’m going to turn no the radio and sing along. Anyone want to join me?

Fear and Worry {5.11.18}

Fear and worry. They come upon all of us at one time or another. Most of the time I think we deal with them and move on. However, we can become enslaved by them. They can totally consume and immobilize us,fear in jar keeping us from living joyful lives. This can feel like a terrible weight on our mind, body and soul. How about you? Are you fearful and worrisome?

Healthy fear can be a good thing. It can keep us aware and sometimes safe. We need to feel fear when we are heading toward a dangerous situation. On the flip side, we can also let fear control us – our emotions, our actions, our words, and our relationships. This is an unhealthy fear. Often though, we are fearful of something that does not really threaten us. That fear can be overcome.

What about worry. Are you a worrier? Do you know someone who is a worrier? I have a close family member who worries about everything. We hesitate to share news that this person might think is something to worry about because it would consume. Worry can be taken to the extreme where it kind of paralyzes you from enjoying normal things life has to offer. I have found in my life that most things people worry about never happen. Sounds like wasted energy, doesn’t it? Here are wise words we should take to heart and practice: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:6-8

What does God say about fear and worry?fear cartoon I did a quick search and found that God shared in His Word over 100 times these phrases: Do not fear; Do not be afraid; Do not worry. Here are just a few examples. When you are feeling fearful or worrisome, let these verses speak to your soul. Believe them. God’s Word is Truth!

 “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6

“So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we pray, “Abba, Father” Romans 8:15

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 worry corrie ten boom

“…do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time, you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew 10:19-20

“…do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” Mark 13:11

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Luke 12:22-31

With God’s help, we can overcome unhealthy fear and worry. While we can’t take fear and worry away from anyone else, we can share with them what the God who created us says about it. We can listen and offer positive words. We can pray for and with them. worry - peace

We will all continue to deal with fear and worry in this life but what a blessing it is to have peace as we process it and give it to God. We can’t explain this peace, but we can experience it.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

The Price of Pride {3.22.18}

Pride. It can be a good thing I guess, but it can turn bad quickly. We say or hear “take pride in what you do, etc.” but what we really should say is “take pride in the God who enables you to do whatever it is.” God cautions us to be humble, not proud. It’s a slippery slope and the evil one can make it appear deserved or earned and very inviting.

Romans 12:3 “… Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

pride

We all have or will struggle with pride at one time or another. It’s one of the temptations put before us. Pride doesn’t just happen with those who don’t know or follow God. Pride can sneak up on us when we are right in the middle of loving and serving God. Such was the case with Moses. God spoke to Moses. He spoke to him in a burning bush. He spoke to him “face to face/presence to presence” as a man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11). They had a close relationship. However, pride crept up on Moses and he found himself missing out on the promised land because of it.

We find the details in Numbers 20:1-13“In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!” Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community, so they and their livestock can drink.” So, Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebel, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where he was proved holy among them.

We see at the beginning of these verses that the Israelites looked to Moses, not God. They asked why Moses brought them to the wilderness. No mention of God. Moses and Aaron humbled themselves when they went in before God. They fell facedown before Him.humble But, somewhere between God’s instructions and the gathering of the people, pride set in. Oh, how quickly it can come upon us. He did not honor God by obeying God. He put his own twist on it. They still got water but, Moses paid a price for his pride. He never got to enter the promised land. He only got to see it from a distance. Consequences. Always consequences. If we would only consider them before speaking or acting instead of grieving over them afterwards.

This story of Moses really makes me consider my life. When I reach a goal, do I feel pride in myself or simply thank God for the ability and power He gave me to do it? When I do something good for someone else, do I fill up with pride knowing I did a good thing or praise and thank God for letting me see and act on what He put before me? Something to think about.

1 Corinthians 1:31 “Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Red Rover, Red Rover {3.16.18}

Red Rover, Red Rover, send [insert name] right over.

Did you ever play that game when you were a child? It seems to me that we played it a lot during recess at my elementary school. Two lines were formed after selecting teams. These lines faced each other with a fair amount of space between them (allowing for running speed). Then the team members locked arms and called someone from the other line/team “over”. That person had to run and try to break through the linked arms of the opposing line of people. red roverIf they broke through, they could take one person back to their team/line. If not, they became part of the opposing team’s line. On and on it went. However, I couldn’t remember how it ended. Maybe the team with the most people at the end of recess won. I’m not sure. But, for some strange reason, I was thinking about that game the other day. So, I just did a little on-line research and found this for how the game ended:

Play Red Rover until one side has all the team members. (With this method of ending Red Rover, note that all the children are winners, because they all end up on the same side.) If time is short, the team with the most people wins.

I don’t remember that we ever ended up with all members on the same team, but it sure sounds great, doesn’t it?

That’s what God’s goal is for all of us (His creation) – that we all end up on the same team/ same side – His side, Heaven bound, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12 “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”

Unfortunately, God has given us all free will and many will not choose Jesus. By the time their life ends, they will want to change their minds, but it will be too late. God tells us there are two paths (teams) – one is a narrow path, leading to life (fulfilled life here and eternal life in Heaven after physical death) the other is a wide road, leading to destruction (self-destruction here on earth leading to full-time, eternal torment in hell). www.thebookofrevelation.net

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” 

If we want our loved ones, friends and neighbors (and yes, even our enemies) to have everlasting life with God in heaven, we must play the game (or run the race) in a way that leads others to Jesus and onto God’s team. 

Acts 20:24 “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”

I will never think of that game the same way again. I want to be ready to share the hope I have in Jesus to those people God places in my life.  Like God, I want them on His Team. So I say… red rover line

“Red Rover, Red Rover,  Send Unbelievers Right Over!”

True Fulfilling Fellowship {3.5.18}

Fellowship is mentioned 94 times in the Bible (NIV version)

Old Testament – 85 times, except for Psalm 55:14, each time refers to a fellowship offering

New Testament – 9 times, relational with each other, fellow believers and with God – 1 John 1:3-7 ”We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make your joy complete. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

I quite often fall asleep talking to God. Likewise, I usually wake up and tell Him good morning before getting out of bed. However, while that’s a good thing I’m the one doing all the talking. When God wants to get my attention, He usually does it in the middle of the night. It’s dark and quiet. Nothing is going on to distract me from listening. Last night was one of those nights. I woke up about 2:30 a.m. Wide awake. Then God started taking me through my day yesterday and all that led up to that day. While it may seem insignificant to many, to me it was an “a-ha” moment yesterday in our Sunday school class. And, in the middle of the night God gave me a glimpse of what He has been doing in and with us for the past couple of years (maybe 3, I haven’t kept track). Yes, sometimes it takes time.

The word He kept giving me was “fellowship”. Of course, I had my own idea of what that meant. Getting together with others in a social setting. Usually food is involved or some type of activity. Something (sporting event, concert, charity) or some person (birthday party, anniversary) is usually the center of attention or the reason for the gathering.

  • Wikipedia: NOUN: friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests:

fellowship growthHowever, God showed me what true, fulfilling fellowship looks like. In true fellowship, God is the gracious host, guest of honor and center of attention. All focus is on Him and we share together for His glory.

  • Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary: Bond of common purpose and devotion that binds Christians to one another and to Christ.

Several years ago, I was part of a Bible study group that met one evening a week. It was a really good group and we enjoyed the studies. However, it was hard for some to come to an evening meeting. So, we decided to move it to a Sunday school class instead. Of course, we now had only one hour instead of one and a half so it might take more than one week to complete a lesson. But, that was ok. Our group started out small but has grown over the years to more than double it’s original size. That’s a good thing but the really good thing is how we have all grown together in the process. We decided to give ourselves a name “Ladies Learning Together”. We knew that we were all on the same path (narrow road) and none of us had all the answers. We were literally learning together. We knew that God would teach us through His word. What I don’t think we realized though was how much God would grow us through our fellowship in these classes. He has a plan for us and He had some work to do in us before His plan could be revealed and implemented. God showed me last night what true fellowship means. It is the learning and growing together while openly sharing our lives with one another. We truly love one another and we have allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and transparent, not only before God but with each other. When we humbled ourselves and looked to each other’s best interest rather than just our own, then…God could work in us. We have shared sorrows and blessings, heartaches and joy, ups and downs. We have encouraged each other and when necessary, held each other accountable to God’s Word. But, God really got a hold of us when we started to pray. He led a lady in our church to begin a prayer team ministry. Then, he led our class to study and participate in prayer (we actually did three Bible studies on prayer and I would recommend them all – “War Room”, “Battle Plan of Prayer and “Fervent”). We just finished a study titled “Called and Accountable”. That one was really eye opening, personal and pointed. We learned a lot about ourselves and grew in our understanding of God’s call on our lives and the consequences of not obeying His call. One important thing we learned was that a “call” does not necessarily mean a call to pastor, go on the mission field, something high profile or what we might deem important. It could mean the encounter with someone at the grocery that God orchestrated so we could encourage them. It might mean the encounter with a neighbor who is cranky and just needs a friend. When we allow God to open our eyes, the opportunities are always there. We just need to see them and seize them.

Okay, now to what really got me excited… As our class is getting ready to begin a new study, we realized that we had a financial need – a DVD player and projector. We have a couple of them at our church but others need them as well and we can’t hog one every week. So, we brainstormed ideas on how to raise the money. We came up with some good ideas but that’s not the exciting part. The exciting part is that we are dreaming big (our God is able) and are now brainstorming what we can do with the extra money we raise by serving our community. communityWe have so many ideas that we ran out of time before we could post them all on the chalkboard. That’s what God showed me in the middle of last night. He has been preparing us these past few years to be ready and willing to go forth and share His message and His love with others. Joining together with like minds, in unity, we can now make a difference together in our community. It’s exciting and I think it’s going to be contagious! I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us. It’s such a humble honor and blessing to serve Him, especially with my “fellowship partners”.

Thanks for allowing me to ramble on. I’m still excited and I want to encourage you to persevere. Sometimes, like with us, it takes time. True fellowship comes with like-minded people truly sharing life and all its ups and downs together with Christ in the center. What a joy it is to get together with friends not just for food and social events, but to share what Christ is doing in our lives. That’s the most exciting fellowship there is aside from the personal relationship with Christ.

Who might we encounter today that needs a touch from Christ’s love – through us?

Unexpected Witness {2.19.18}

Recently my husband and I attended a dinner/show which featured an Elvis impersonator. It sounded like fun and something out of the ordinary. The dinner was wonderful, and we proceeded to the show. A band opened with songs from the 60’s and 70’s which we enjoyed. Then the music began. You know the music I’m talking about. ElvisThe music that announces to everyone that Elvis is coming. It gets louder and more powerful. You know something great is about to happen. He is in the building and will soon be on the stage. The anticipation mounted as we all awaited his presence. Then finally, there he was! But, wait! That’s not the Elvis I envisioned! The Elvis I was looking for had coal black hair and lots of it. He had big hairy sideburns. This guy was missing some hair (quite a bit in fact). He had some sideburns but nothing like I was expecting. Elvis eatingAnd, it appeared that he had been eating more than his share of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Is this really Elvis?! I was expecting someone different. I knew the real Elvis wasn’t going to show up but I thought he would look like Elvis a bit more.  

Funny how we all have expectations and then when they are not realized, we are a bit disappointed. Well, his voice did not disappoint. He sounded really good. He sang several songs and then the band would do a song and that routine continued through the evening. He sang many of the Elvis favorites we all know and love. He also sang a hymn (one of my favorites I might add), which Elvis often did. About 2/3 of the way through the show though, he introduced his Dad to the audience and began sharing about his family and his faith. It was so touching and as he shared his testimony I gained a new respect and admiration for this Elvis who was so unexpected. He had shared a bit about his career and it was evident that he had opened for several stars we all recognized. He had been on TV many times as well. But, he was simply still singing Elvis songs, which he loved and, in the process, walking out his faith, unashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This unconventional Elvis was doing what we are all called to do. God tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”

God wants to use all of us to share the good news and further His kingdom. He wants none to perish. If Elvis can do it on stage in front of a group of people, surely I can do it in the neighborhood, supermarket or restaurant with a few. We don’t have to worry about what we will say. God will give us the words. He promises in John 14:26 “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  

Elvis 2I didn’t get the impression that this Elvis had planned to share his testimony but rather that it just came out as a natural result of his faith and obedience. 2 John 1:6 “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” No one seemed offended by his testimony. In fact, everyone seemed pleased to hear it.

We may never know the blessings of our obedience to God’s call on our lives. Maybe we will simply plant a seed of faith that another will water. We may lead someone to faith in Christ. If it causes someone to be curious about God, they will seek to know more. We know that anyone who seeks Him, finds Him.

This unexpected Elvis and his witness reminded me that no matter where I go or who I meet, God has a plan and a purpose for my life. I better be about the Father’s business every day and open my mouth and hands so that He can use me. How about you? Have you experienced an unexpected and unconventional witness for Christ? Have you been one?

A Girl Can Dream {2.7.18}

Several years ago (about six I think), my daughter called and asked me to pray about something. She had a dream on her heart. It was a dream with a goal, that she would be home more with her family. This dream involved a shared passion/hobby both of us have. I was certainly all onboard with her idea because I could see myself in the middle of it with her. But, more than that, she was seeking God FIRST – I had to honor that! I knew that what seemed impossible from our perspectives for many reasons, was entirely possible with God if it was within His will for her life. So, we began praying and God began working. dare to dream

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

As the years progressed though, it became apparent that the details of the dream she originally had in mind was not going to materialize. Then upon further reflection, knew that the original idea would not produce the goal she sought. So, we kept praying and watching.

Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

God gave her creative ideas, wisdom, contacts, etc. He closed one door but opened so many more that we knew He was intimately involved. She kept on going where He led, learning as she went along. She has had many successes through her obedience to God’s call and direction rather than doggedly going down the original path she had envisioned. Yesterday was another one of those successes. It made me think of God’s Word and specifically, how He gives us skills when we need them, words when we need to speak them, and direction when we feel lost. I was remembering the words in Exodus where God was directing the Israelites to build the tabernacle. It says that He gave them the skills they needed to create what He designed. He has done the same for my daughter and we are so thankful.

Exodus 35:35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers.”

A dear friend recently shared how God had answered her prayer. She had been praying for a financial need. She knew God was able and trusted Him to provide. She didn’t know how but knew that He could send money in the mail to her if He so chose.

1 Timothy 5:5 “The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.”

However, like she shared, God didn’t give her money, he gave her a job. But, it wasn’t just any job. It was a job doing things she enjoys! How like God to orchestrate things in our lives that we have no idea of and then putting them before us as a gift of love. Did God answer her financial need? He sure did. And, in the process she is meeting new people and sharing the good news. She was blessed and is now blessing others. Sometimes God gives us our hearts desire even when we haven’t thought to ask him for it. psalm 37.4

Why do I share these two stories? Because they both began and continued being bathed in prayer. If we are going to delight ourselves in the Lord, we must know Him, speak with Him, listen to His Word. Prayer is our part of the conversation; God’s Word is his part (along with wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit). Both of these women sought God’s will, not their own. They shared their desires of course, along with their needs but they ultimately trusted God with the outcome. God always delivers – just what we NEED, and just WHEN we need it.

Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

So, my friends. Don’t be afraid to dream big. Our God is able!

Matthew 19:26 “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”