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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Power of Music

Psalm 100:2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 

To say that I love music would be a severe understatement. I am passionate about it. Music is such a huge and important part of my life, I can't imagine what my day to day life would look without it. (Just look at the name of my blog! :)

Whether I am driving, washing dishes, cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, working out, writing, reading, or just lying on my bed thinking, I will usually have music playing, or be singing myself. Just ask my is a part of just about every waking moment of my day. ;)

Music is fascinating, powerful, and entirely underestimated by many people. Let me say it again, because it is so true:

Music. Has. Power.

Music can inspire, encourage, and brighten a day. Conversely, it can cause depression, frustration, stress, and dark thoughts when used for evil. My entire mood can be changed for better or worse, depending on what music I am around. Don't get me wrong, I am always responsible to act and react in a Godly way, no matter the surroundings. However, music has such a great propensity to affect even the little areas of life!

Because music holds such power, we need to be very, very careful with it. The Almighty Himself is musical; He proves it in the nearly 600 Scripture references to songs, singing, music, instruments, and musicians. Music is a good and holy thing when used in a Godly manner. 

However, for every good thing God has given us, Satan has made an evil counterfeit. So called "Contemporary Christian Music", or "Christian Rock", or any other form of worldly music tweaked the tiniest bit to sound spiritual, is not Christian. In any way, shape, or form. I'm being blunt here, but it's true. When all you do is take the world's fleshly music and change the words, there is no difference. I have seen videos of "Christian" concerts, that literally looked like a heavy metal performance. NO discernible difference, except you could maybe catch a random reference to God scattered through all the screaming, pounding thrashing drummers, and lights wild enough to give you an instantaneous migraine. It's really sad to me that so many Christians are fooled into thinking this is right and good. In Isaiah 5:20, it says, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" What better example of this verse than music that feeds the old man, the unregenerate flesh, and calls it a holy thing!

As followers of Christ, it is our responsibility to discern between good and evil. To walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh. I realize that many who are deceived by the modern "Christian" music movement are sincere in trying to worship God. However, you can be sincere in doing something, but be sincerely wrong in doing it. Music is something that has led many people astray, because it is important to us as humans. We are made in the image of God, and God loves music. Because of that, we are born with an innate appreciation for beautiful melodies and harmonies. Just watch a small child when there is music playing. They will almost always be wiggling or singing or banging along! Music is so close to our hearts that it's easy to become caught up in the emotional side of it without stopping to think about whether or not it is truly honoring to God. 

An interesting thing to consider about the relationship between music and the way we were created by God: Just as God has three parts (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), so we have three parts--Spirit, Soul, and Body. The melody (tune) of music appeals to the spirit, the harmony (chords) to the soul, and the rhythm (beat) to the body. Satan's counterfeit godly music is dominated by the rhythm. The goal is to stimulate the flesh, not the soul or the spirit. True Godly music does have a rhythm, (obviously! ;), but it is not rhythm dominant. The goal of Godly music is to bring glory and praise to God, and to refresh and uplift the spirit. (Not the flesh). 

Here are some important questions to ask yourself, with an open heart, about the music you listen to on a regular basis:
1. Does the Holy Spirit lead you to listen to this music? Rom. 8:14
2. Can you pray while listening to this music? 1 Thess. 5:17
3. Does it bring glory to God? 1 Cor. 10:31
4. Does it offend other Christians or cause them to stumble in any way? 1 Cor. 8:13
5. Does this music appeal to the flesh, or to the soul and spirit? What draws you to it? Rom. 8:5
6. Does this music create Godly joy in your life? Isaiah 51:11
7. Would you be comfortable letting your pastor, your parents, and the most Godly Christians you know sit down and listen to this music? (Wow, that's a hard hit!) Heb. 13:17, Prov. 24:6
8. What doctrines are being taught through this music? Titus 2:1

It is my sincere hope that you will prayerfully consider these thoughts. Please know that my purpose was not to offend anyone through this post, but if you are offended...maybe there might be something you need to change? Believe me, I KNOW this is a delicate subject, and it can be difficult to let go of long-held beliefs (or lack thereof), on the subject of what is or is not Godly music. I have faced struggles with this at various times in my life, and sometimes it is not easy even to discuss it with people, because it seems that there are so many different opinions on the topic! However, in James 1:5 God promises that He will give His wisdom to those who ask for it with unwavering faith. He will guide and direct your steps! 

May the music we listen to, write, sing, and play be a source of encouragement and blessing to everyone around us. Especially The God who created music for us to enjoy!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Fun Post: August and September Favorites

Hooray! Another Favorites post! :) Also, Happy National Coffee day to all my followers. May your coffee be strong, dark, creamy and satisfying. ;)

I like to do favorites posts once a month, but as it was around September 15th before I realized that I hadn't done one for August, I decided to postpone it. ;) My next few months are going to be insanely busy, (more on that to come), so I may end up posting much less frequently even than I did in the summer. I hope not, but it may turn out that way. :/ Thank you for understanding!! Without further ado, some of my summer favorites! I've been:

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery. (She is most known for her Anne of Green Gables series). Personally, though so far I've only read the first book in this trilogy, I'm not sure why the Emily books are not considered as much of a classic as the Anne books are! Sweet, relatable characters, awesome vocabulary, fantastic plots...what more can you ask for? ;)

The Walls are Talking by former abortion clinic worker, Abby Johnson. This book is heartbreaking in every way. And yet so, so important. Though this book is grievous to read at any age, I don't recommend it for younger readers. It is a collection of stories from many different clinic workers who left their work after realizing the horrors of what actually goes on inside those walls. They share their stories in honest, open ways, revealing from an insider's point of view how the abortion industry destroys and shatters the lives of the women it claims to be helping. I pray that the women who were brave enough to contribute find healing and redemption through Christ! Some already have, and it is so precious to hear their testimonies.

I started reading a few other books, but can't really recommend any of them, as I'm either not finished, or they turned out to be not my style. ;P

My kayak!! I got a used one from Craigslist, and have SO much enjoyed paddling down the Columbia. :) Wenatchee has TONS of riverfront parks open to the public, so it's easy to drop it in and run it down river a few miles, and just get picked up at another park dock! I enjoy being on the river so much. It is peaceful and quiet, (I stay fairly near the shore so there's no crazy currents ;). I love to stop paddling and just drift along for a while, enjoying the beauty. The kids have really loved being able to borrow it for rides as well!

Not as much as I should be. If I could, I would be working on my projects all day, but a little thing called life gets in the way. ;) I hope to tell you more about said projects soon, though!

Hanging out with...
Wolves. Yes, wolves. We took a trip to the fair on family day when most of the kids got in for free, and there was an animal show there. The guy had snakes, lizards, marsupials, birds of prey, and a cage with three wolves in it. He asked for a volunteer and I raised my hand. When he called me up there, he said, "Go get in the wolf cage." Allllrighty then. On it. ;P They do play rougher than dogs, which is to be expected, but what cooler way to have a hole torn in your skirt than by a wolf? :'D They had very beautiful eyes, and super soft, thick fur. It was definitely a fun thing to experience! Kourage enjoyed holding a few snakes, my mom and I got kissed by a lizard, and Malachi held a giant lizard. :) Pretty cool all around!

Travelling to...
Sumas, Washington for a ladies' retreat with my church women. Last year it was so fun and special, so I had high expectations for this year. I was not disappointed! From absolutely decadent food, to Garden of Eden worthy landscape, trails, and flowers at the retreat center, to staying up until 3:15 talking, to convicting was amazing. It was such a blessing to spend time with friends and sisters in Christ, some of whom I only see a few times a year. Even the long drive over was fun, being able to talk with the ladies from Blessed Hope without small ones around. ;) Plus, my grandma was in Canada at the time, only 8 miles from the retreat center, and was able to stop in for a couple hours!! I hope this retreat goes on to become a cherished tradition! :)

Excited (over the moon, elated, thrilled, exuberant) about...
The missions trip coming up. ;) I am so happy to see things coming together, tickets have been purchased, and music is being prepared. Also coming up in the next couple months are the following: my 21st birthday (on Wednesday! ;), Family Conference with some friends from Alaska, my parents travelling to a conference in North Dakota, the missions conference in Oak Harbor (a highlight of every year!), a missionary friend visiting and preaching for us, and Thanksgiving--early, since I'll be leaving for Fiji on Thanksgiving day. Whew! All of these things are so exciting! I am praying that God will do great things through them, and most of all, that I will keep the right focus through all of it. And that I won't become stressed or worried about the future. (Anyone else struggle with that?) I am truly looking forward to seeing how He will work in the many adventures that are coming up. :)

Going through...
God's Word in 90 days. As a countdown for the trip, I am going through the Bible in 3 months. Last year I did it in one, (see this post), and although I enjoyed doing that, it definitely is a bit easier going through it slower! :) I'm reading 15-20 chapters a day instead of around 35. I love the feeling of accomplishment as each book moves into the next, and reading about the thread of God's love and redemption plan that runs through the whole Bible. 

Thankful for...
Some extra work on the side with Amazon. That will be so helpful for the trip! God's guidance and direction. Good, uplifting music. A short camping trip with the family. Apples--tart, sweet, and crunchy. Marco's a video message app, and it's been so special for keeping in touch with my friend Kimberly, who is living in Taiwan until February!! :O Late night talks with friends. Somehow knowing that you can talk for a long time is so precious. :) Photoshoots with Miriam. I promise you, at least 75% of my phone pictures involve her in some way. ;P She's so CUTE though!!! Heavy blankets, as the nights are already getting chilly here. (I'm still not quite ready to let go of summer, though. October 1, I might pull out my boots. I renounce those people who start shrieking about pumpkin spice when it's still 80 degrees outside. XD) 

Well, that's it for today! What are some of your highlights from the last couple of months? Hope you have a lovely weekend! 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Boldness to Enter

John 1:36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

Matthew 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

The priests in the temple were quietly, reverently going about their duties in the temple that day. There was a high Sabbath, the Passover, the very next day, and preparations were being made for the holy celebration of the Jews' deliverance from Egypt. Perfect lambs would have their blood shed and poured out for the sins of others. Unleavened bread and bitter herbs would fill the mouths of devout Jews all over Jerusalem, the very next day.

None of the people could come into God's presence freely, to pour out their hearts in praise and worship, because the way was not yet made into that Holy of Holies. A thick, impenetrable curtain hung in the temple, a visible, tangible separation between the sons of men and the holy presence of God. 

Until that day. As the priests prepared the altar for the lambs of sacrifice the next day, just outside the city, God's Perfect Lamb was being killed. As the bitter herbs were gathered, the Messiah was tasting the bitterness of death. As the unleavened bread was to be broken, the Living Bread himself was being broken and His blood poured out for the sins of the entire world. 

So few realized how holy, how perfect, how just was the sacrifice happening on this day! To the spectators standing by, it was either a day of great joy that the man who had caused so much chaos was finally gone; or a day of deepest grief that the Saviour was being crucified. I wonder if any person watching the crucifixion of our Lord realized that the way was being paved, the door to the very presence of Almighty God was being torn open by the death of the One on the middle cross!

In the dim silence of the temple, the earth began to shake. Faint tremors at first, but building, growing, until it seemed as if the very skies themselves must be falling, crushing the fragile world to pieces. 

The temple was no longer silent. The roar of the earth, crying out at the death of its Creator, echoed through the massive halls. Pottery shattered, metal instruments and vessels clashed to the floor, and priests and worshippers alike scrambled for cover from falling dust and rubble.

And then, as the precious Lamb took His last breath, it happened.

The veil, the wall that none dared to touch or pass--even the high priest could be struck dead on the one day a year he entered into it--tore apart from top to bottom. Can you imagine the sound it must have made as the separation between man and God's holy presence was ripped in two? Historical records indicate that the veil was at least 4 inches thick, woven of thick, strong materials, and so heavy it took 300 men to move it. This in itself is an amazing thing--it could not have been torn simply from the earthquake. It was the hand of God, removing the barrier and opening the way to His throne because of the sacrificial death of His only Son. It is so powerful to hear of this act of God...It demonstrates so clearly that the work of salvation truly was complete. When Christ said, "It is Finished", it was. Forever.

Praise God that we no longer need to live under the bondage of the law, offering sacrifices for sin day by day! I am so thankful that I can now come boldly before the throne of grace! I can talk to God any time of day, wherever I am, with the knowledge that through Christ, I am enabled to do so. What a wonderful God we serve!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Mind Stayed on Jehovah

Isaiah 26:3-4 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

These verses are fairly well known, so much so that I feel we tend to overlook them sometimes. Just because a verse is embedded in your mind does not diminish its power! 

One important thing I have noticed recently is the word "mind" in verse 3. 

Who will The Lord keep in perfect peace and give everlasting strength to? The one whose mind is stayed on Him. The man or woman who chooses to make their thoughts be focused on the things of God instead of the world. The one who has temptation come knocking and turns from it with the knowledge that to succumb would be to grieve the heart of a holy God. The one who keeps their thoughts from straying to places they should not go. 

When all is said and done, where does every sin start? In the mind. You can't steal something before you think about stealing something. You can't lie without creating the lie in your mind first. You can't become bitter and angry at someone unless you first thought over your perceived wrongs from them and chose not to deal properly with the anger. 

When your mind is stayed and fixed on the Most High, low thoughts have no place. When you are focused on the Holiest of the Holy, unholy thoughts can't enter. When you are trusting the One whose perfect compassion and love redeemed you from eternal death, how can hateful or unloving thoughts take root? 

To the one whose mind is stayed on God, there is promised perfect peace. Freedom from turmoil and unrest. A place of refuge under the shadow of His mighty wings. There is also promised everlasting strength. Strength to fight against the temptation that pounds in from all sides. Strength to stand when others are falling into sin. Strength to walk in His footsteps even when the path becomes rough and jagged. 

It takes faith and purpose of heart to keep our minds stayed on Jehovah. It's not something that will happen in one instant. But how worthwhile it is when more and more of our time is spent meditating on the things of God and on His Word, instead of filling our minds with the things of earth! How precious it is when the love of Christ begins to overshadow the temptations that come, giving us strength to endure and resist them! Is it not worth the effort? If we love Him, we should be keeping His commandments, and they are not grievous! 

This week, I want to focus my heart and mind on the King who saved me, turning away from the chaos of a wicked world. I want to fight in the strength of The Lord against the temptation that will come. I want to reach out to the lost around me with love, knowing that in Christ lies the peace that they seek.

Will you join me?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lovely Sayings: August 31, 2017

Hello, all you wonderful people!
I have read some articles on a blog by a young lady named Moriah lately, and one of her blog series stuck out to me. She calls it "Sweet Saturday Sayings", and publishes a post every week with a bunch of beautiful quotes and sayings about various and sundry topics. 

I thought I would steal her idea (because what would the blogging world be without some honest plagiarism? ;P). I don't think it will be every week, but I do have a LOT of good quotes saved on my Pinterest boards and around my house, etc. My life is surrounded by words. Different fonts, colors, and hundreds of phrases of joy fill the walls of my room. So why not start a little blog series that hopefully will bless you all in the same way? :) Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images, and though I don't know if I can give credit to the original creator on every one, I hope it's ok if I'm simply showing them on my non-monetized blog. ;P Here are some quotes to brighten your long weekend up even more! ;) (By the way, my comments on each image are underneath the quote, not above. Sometimes it's hard when there is a row of images and words to figure out which one I'm referencing. ;)

Isn't this one lovely? The hands of Almighty It makes me think of Isaiah, where it says that He holds the waters in the palm of His hand. :)

This one blows me away. I have no words. :O

So very true. <3

I need to take this to heart and practice it every day. Thoughts have power!! 

I try not to open my phone before I open my Bible, but it is a definite conscious decision that has to be made every day to put God first!

This is from Ann Voskamp, whom I don't agree with on everything, but my goodness...that lady has a gift with words. And some of her quotes are so beautiful they can bring tears to my eyes. :')

So good!

Hopefully this one is big enough to read...this is incredibly true. As an ENFP, I have to struggle against letting emotions or feelings become things that I rely on too much. That is a dangerous game!

How important prayer is!

And finally, one of my favorite quotes of all time. I want to write a song with this phrase soon. :) 

I hope you all enjoyed this post!! Let me know what you think...should I do more like it? Also, if you have a favorite quote or verse, send me an image or just tell me what it is and I'll try to include it in the next quotes post! :) Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Perfect Words

Psalm 45:1 My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
An unassuming journal.
A pen with flowing ink.
A writer wildly passionate,
Finding a space to think. 
She puts the pen to paper,
And words begin to flow.
They tremble in her fingers
And they set her face aglow.
They tumble quickly from her mind
In waterfalls of grace.
They line the path she's treading
As she seeks her Saviour's face.
In words she finds expression
Of the galaxies inside.
In words she calls to question
The fears she cannot hide.
Her words are raw and richly full
Of love for Lord and life.
She finds in words a quiet lull
From the world's thunderous strife.
But human words cannot describe
The greatest Love of all.
The Love that chose to sacrifice
For men bruised by the fall.
The words for that can only be spoken
By the tongue of a Holy God.
And though she write with ink like an ocean,
Her words will ever be flawed.
In this she turns to the Holy Writ,
The only perfect Word.
So pure and undefiled is it,
Through countless years preserved.
In this great Word she finds at last
Fulfillment all complete.
Her future, present, and her past,
With perfect love replete.
So she writes with sweet abandon,
In the light from worlds above.
She pours her soul out on the page
As she shows a cruel world her love.
She uses her words, small though they be,
As a candle in the blackness.
The broken hearts of others see,
Her light of peace and gladness.
And though her words will never be
As perfect as she longs for,
She knows they will be when she sees
The King of Heaven her heart adores.
When her storm tossed ship comes to rest
On the shores of eternal glory,
She will finally have the words to express
Her soul's redemption story.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

To Know Him More Fully!

Psalm 42:1-2 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

"When we look to God, we trust. When we look to things, and circumstances, and surroundings, we grow anxious." ~~J. McConkey

"[Salvation] is where we begin [to know and pursue God], but where we stop no man has yet discovered, for there is in the awful and mysterious depths of the Triune God neither limit nor end." ~~A.W. Tozer

"The deepest fact about us is our desperate need of God." ~~Unknown

I would like to share with you something that I wrote in my prayer journal a few weeks ago. As I looked back over the things I'd written, these quotes came back to me as going hand in hand with it. I hope it is a blessing to you!

Prayer Journal, entry for ~July 30, 2017
Lately God has been teaching me an invaluable lesson. It is one that many others have learned, and even written about, before me. It's a lesson that, sadly, we can't seem to learn second hand. We must each find our way through it on our own. It is the path of realizing that there IS no complete and total fulfillment outside of knowing God. I will never find the fullness of joy in writing. In music. In a relationship. In a friendship. No mere thing and no mere human can ever take the place of the deepest longing of my soul--that of knowing and communing with God. Nothing can fill that hole. The more I try to fill it, the more weary and heartsick I will become. He is my strength, my Redeemer, my portion, my salvation, my Rock, my Fortress, the lifter up of mine head, the One True God, my King, my God. He is all. He. Is. All. Only God.

And another glorious wonder? God wants to know me. I am priceless and full of worth in His eyes. I have done nothing worthy of the God of the universe even noticing me, and yet He tells me that His thoughts of me are more numerous than can be counted. He loves me. How? I will never know. He is God. He is perfect. He is The Holy One, and yet He condescends to care about ME. I, who wanders away from Him at every turn. I, who is foolish and ungrateful, and does not love or praise Him as He deserves. He loves me. He wants me to know Him, He wants to fill that deepest longing of my heart. Wonder of all wonders, I am His. And He is mine.