Saturday, January 17, 2009

Guarding My Heart and Mind with Music

When I was in high school I got a sound piece of advice from one of my aunts. She had never seen me so captivated by a book and was intrigued. When I finished that book she took it and read it; I started the sequel. I don't even think she finished it because it was filled with twisted and unspeakable things. The next time she saw me, she did not hesitate to impart her wisdom (a gift that God has abundantly blessed her with). "Honey, you need to be careful of what you allow into your mind and more importantly what you purposely put in your mind." She went on to explain to me the ills of the book and the ills of the mind that authored the book. During this time in our lives neither she nor I were Christians. I listened and considered her wisdom to some degree, but it wasn't until a series or two afterwards that I took her wisdom seriously. I dropped the series immediately because she was right and have since used that wisdom in selecting my books and music.

My music has evolved over the years - particularly the last ten. When you arrive at my blog, you hear Randy Travis' "Blessed Assurance." I started liking country music when I was in high school "pushing chicken for the Colonel (KFC)" (ha, ha, ha). Our manager, Bill, would not allow the channel to be on anything other than KSAN. I realized then that not all of it was bad (corny) and over the years it has gotten better, but I can only listen to it for so long before I tire of it. I do have some favorite artists and they are Randy Travis, Lee Greenwood, Ronnie Milsap, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood and a few others.
I believe that not one of us can deny that music really does affect our moods. When I am sad, discouraged, or feeling defeated by trials I am going through, I put on praise music. When I have a migraine, I can put on soft classical music like Boroque and after a little while, my migraine will be gone. Why do you think all of the spas play the soft, new age music, filled with crashing waves, running streams, soft rains and birds singing? It's to relax you and alter your mood - destress! I can go on and on but I won't. However, if you have more questions, ask me and I will give you our testimony as parents and as witnesses to our friends with children/teens on what music can do to their very hearts and souls.

Anyway,I first became interested in the old hymns when Matthew was doing his religious course work and studying Fanny Crosby. As we did this together, I was amazed by her talent and the gift that God gave her and how she succeeded in bringing glory and honor to her Creator inspite of her blindness. If you're curious, you can rent her story on Netflix.com. She is a very good example of Romans 8:28 lived out. "And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (NLT) and here is the Amplified Version 28We are assured and know that [[a]God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose." (Amp) What someone meant for evil, God used for good and for His purpose because she loved God and was called for His purpose.

As the Christian music evolves, I find that not all of it brings honor and glory to His name, because His name is never mentioned. Some of this "Christian" music is just music to attract the younger crowd. Yes, it's positive words, but where is the praise and worship? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word praise as "to glorify especially by the attributions of perfection." Worship is defined as "a reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power, an act of expressing such reverence, extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem." And while some people choose to worship objects such as money, careers, and cars, I choose to worship my creator, my God, my Heavenly Father - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That being said, with some of this music making its way onto the airwaves, I find myself appreciating the hymns of long ago. I have four favorites - Amazing Grace, Old Rugged Cross, Blessed Assurance and How Great Thou Art.
Now, my favorite Christian artists and worship bands are Darlene Zschech and Reuben Morgan both of Hillsong (from Australia)..they are my top, top, number one favorite.I also like Integrity Music Worship & Praise albums, Jeremy Camp, Chris Tomlin, Israel Houghton & the New Breed, Avalon, Point of Grace, Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman & Carman. There are more, but I can't think of them all at the moment. You will find that hymns and worship music is not all stuffy and stiff.
The book of Psalms is filled with songs and singing of praise to the Lord. Let's start with Psalm 5:11, 7:17, 9:2, 9:11, 18:49, 21:13...the list goes on and on, but it doesn't just start there - it starts way back like Numbers 21:17, Judges 5:3. It's amazing to do a search on "Worship the Lord" and "Sing Praises" on Biblegateway.com. The bible is filled with these acts of praise and worship because of His goodness, grace, mercy, power, love, majesty, and so many other reason, but my personal - His Grace. Oh, the grace! The grace that He has shown me and continues to show me everyday is why I love, love, love our Lord, Jesus Christ with all my heart, mind and soul.
Grace defined: 1a)unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification b: a virtue coming from God c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace 2a): approval , favor barchaic : mercy , pardon c: a special favor : privilege d: disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency e: a temporary exemption : reprieve. And then there is the Greek definition of grace http://www.bible-researcher.com/grace.html
Does this mean that I don't like any other music? No. I still enjoy the oldies and goodies and other new ones. It all depends on the lyrics and any memories attached to them. Mark and I have our favorite love songs and they are our special songs. I am not an old fuddy-duddy-square (although some may argue this) and neither am I a saint..by any stretch of the imagination! But it's because of this, I try so very hard to guard my heart and mind.
So now you have gotten to peek into the window of my heart.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

As I look back (just for a bit) I can't help but think "it was quite a roller coaster ride" and I am looking forward to a fresh new year. Every year I have new "resolutions" that I mostly keep to myself. Today, with four hours left of 2008, I am going to think about what I would like to accomplish in 2009 and write them down here in my blog, because I cannot for the life of me remember what I resolved to accomplish last year. I was able to establish an exercise routine with my friend, Wendy. However, now that it's freezing cold in the wee hours of the morning, that has come to a halt. We used to meet at a middle school track at five in the morning to speed walk. I miss it, but I am a California girl and anything below 45 degrees, is not a good way to start the morning for me.

This year I would like to resolve to do the following things:
  1. Plant our French intensive vegetable garden by early April.
  2. Finish my sewing projects (UnFinished Objects)
  3. Economize in every aspect of our home life
  4. Be completely debt free (we're almost there)
  5. Continue losing weight
  6. Work on growing our Shaklee business

These are my top six with the vegetable garden being the top one. I would also like to learn the art of canning some of our garden bounty, but I am not going to put undue pressure on myself. On a more spiritual side, I am going to resolve to pray for ...our new President and his wife regularly out of sheer obedience to the Lord. 1 Timothy 2:1-3 (Amplified Version) (1)"First of all, then I admonish and urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all men, (2)For kings and all who are in positions of authority or high responsibility, that [outwardly] we may pass a quiet and undisturbed life [and inwardly] a peaceable one in all godliness and reverence and seriousness in every way. (3) For such [praying] is good and right, and [it is] pleasing and acceptable to God our Savior. I have to admit that family and friends have taken greater priority. And I must make praying for the peace and protection of Israel a daily priority too. Psalm 122:6 Pray for peace in Jerusalem. May all who love this city prosper.

Praying that this year will bring all of us closer to our Lord, Jesus Christ and that you will experience the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding.

As the new year approaches, I will close with two verses that have meant a great deal to me lately.

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all those whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord God always, for the Lord God is the eternal rock.' Isaiah 26:3-4

"Oh, how great are God's riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways." Romans 12:33

I pray that they bring you the same comfort that they have brought me.

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