Welcome to my blog! To get an idea of what this blog is about you might want to read the "About Me and My Family" page as a starting point. You can browse through the archives or head over to the "Articles" page to read on specific topics I've written on over the years. Keep checking back because I'll be posting new articals from time to time.
It seems like every year we all beg to have our Birthday early. Usually daddy sticks to the original plan, but sometimes he'll give in. So Saturday my family agreed to let me have my Birthday presents early. I usually don't blog about such things, but all of my gifts were so great that I thought I'd show y'all what I got. I love them all and they really tell a lot about my personality!
1. Quiet Place by Greg Howlett
This is one of my favorite CD's, but last year I lost it some how and after looking for it or hoping it would show up for over a year I finally thought it was time to get a new one. Now that my parents bought this for me I'll probably find my old one within the next few weeks! : ) But since Greg Howlett had a great sale going on, it was a good time to buy a new one.
2. Scrapbook Paper
I do some scrapbooking, but I mostly make thank you cards and birthday cards. This year I am looking forward to making Christmas cards . . . if I can find the time. I love the colors in the book Bethany picked out.
3. Music Journal & Pens
I've kept a journal since I was 11so you can imagine how many I have, but I'm always happy to get a new one. Bethany buys me one every year so I haven't had to buy a new journal in a very long time! It's a good thing she has good taste! This is my favorite journal so far!
4. Hanon Finger Exercises
When I opened this one I thought, Okay, I guess Phillip thinks I need to learn more classical music, because it looks like one of those old classical books by Mozart or Hantz. Then mama pointed out that it was the book I had asked for! One of the Daugherty Sisters recommended this book to me but I've never seen it before so I didn't recognize it as the book that I had put on the Christmas list. I have already played the first exercise and I love it! Finger Exercises aren't always fun, but they are very beneficial to making your songs sound smooth and accurate. Even though I've just started using it I would highly recommend it because it starts out pretty easy, but by the end of the book you are playing some pretty hard stuff, making it great for piano players of any level.
5. The Old Schofield Study Bible (Pocket Edition)
I've been wanting a pocket Bible that I could keep in my purse and I love the Scofield Bible, so when I found this one I knew right away I wanted it. It also has a zipper so that the pages don't get crumpled, making this gift even better than I thought I could find. The writing is very small so I wont be using it in my morning study, but it wont be too bad if I'm just looking up a verse or two or maybe reading a few minutes on my lunch break.
6. Two Candles
Bethany and Amy each bought me a candle to burn in my room. One is called Mulled Cider and the other is Pumpkin Spice. I guess it's plain to see that I love fall smells! : )
7. Bath & Body Works
Phillip also gave me some fragrance mist and some hand sanitiser that both smell good. Something else to put in my purse along side my new pocket Bible!
8. Hand-made Card
For years Bethany has said she is not good at making cards (which was really just an excuse because she wanted me to make them!) but we have since learned that she is very creative when it comes to making cards. The one she made me from the whole family is BEAUTIFUL. I liked it so much I'm displaying it on my tea-pot shelf.
As this challenge comes to an end I've realized it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I have lots to be thankful for, but I don't always remember to write them down before the day is over and the next day I have to make up for the lost day making my list jump from 7 to 14.
The past few days I've been pondering over what I have learned from this month of being thankful. It has definitely shown me how unthankful I have been, but most beneficial of all I have learned that there are some things I don't know how to be thankful for. I see this is beneficial because I want to be thankful for them, and until now I didn't recognize those things which I despise so much. Now that my eyes have been opened I can work towards being thankful for the hurtful things in life.
Here's my final (blog) list. (I'm still working on finishing up my total of 210 things I am thankful for.)
I'm thankful for . . .
God's Beautiful Creation
1. Those who set a high example
2. The cold winter temperatures
4. Godly testimonies
5. The intricate details of God's creation
6. The Gospel which saves
7. A voice that can sing praises unto my God
As I thought about what to post this week I reflected on the heart of thankfulness. I have come to believe (about myself) that I can't learn to be thankful by writing down everything I am thankful for. Furthermore, I can't cultivate a thankful heart by reading the scriptures on thankfulness. Being truly thankful comes by drawing closer to God, the ultimate reason for giving thanks. I have learned that there is nothing like the thankfulness I experience as a result of a close relationship with God when there is no sin between us. It's those days when my heart rejoices in God and longs to please Him above all else that I can pour out my loving gratitude for his great works and thoughts towards me.
The Country Life
Here are a few things I've written down this past week:
1. God's rich love
2. The beauty of music
3. The country life
4. Fun siblings
5. God's grace
6. The veil that was rent, giving us full access to the throne of God
7. The comforter
8. A God that can do the impossible
10. My church family
"Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplications with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
When I was in school mama bought me a wonderful text book called "Write Shop". It is a blue binder that helps it's readers to develop good writing skills that can be used in any setting. One of the many things it taught me was how to convey a message without actually saying it. It goes something like this"
Treading down the long dusty road, the young woman paused to catch her breath. As she wiped the perspiration from her brow she longed for a drink of the crisp well water that had refreshed her only an hour before. How thankful she would have been for even the smallest shade tree, but there was none in sight. Knowing it was still a long journey to the village where the missionary family awaited her, she pulled her bonnet back over her face and walked on.
There is one thing that I didn't tell you in that piece of a story. It was hot. But I didn't have to tell you because you knew what the weather was like by the remarks I made about the perspiration, the longing for the crisp well water, and the shade tree that she desperately wanted. A good writer can express what is in their imagination without spelling it out in obvious form.
I have witnessed the same happening in others lives. There are two young women who I barely know and have never spoken too, yet both Christians conveyed a message to me without speaking a single word about the subject. They both showed me by their actions and their demeanor that the greatest joy doesn't come from being married to a Godly husband, but from a close relationship with God. The joy in their face and the excitement in their voice was undoutably from God alone. Never once did they tell me that I could experience joy unspeakable by pursuing a relationship with God. Not a single time did I hear them say that Christ is far greater than the largest home filled with the pitter patter of children's feet. Their lives spoke it. And that was more powerful than any sermon or book I've ever encountered in all my life.
Before this week I didn't realize how many days I let go by without truely being thankful. Doing this challenge has showed me that too many times I thank God for the same things, but I don't find new ways to be thankful. It has been a great way to push myself to be thankful in all things like Ephs 5: 20 instructs. Here are some of the things I've written down so far. I am thankful for . . .
1. The Word of God
2. Liberty from sin
3.Conversations with mama
4. The comfort in knowing that no matter how the elections turn out today, I can still say "He hath done all things well"! (Mark 7:37)
6. Daily Success Devotions
7. The joy in talk to my siblings about God.
"Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;" Ephs. 5:20
Amanda at A Joyful Noise has invited her blog readers to join her in in a "Give Thanks Challenge" by KBR Ministries. The idea is that you write down 7 things every day in the month of November that you are thankful for. At the end of November you can write a letter to KBR to let them know you completed the challenge and they will send you a set of handmade note cards. I think that is very generous of them, but I would encourage you to do this to strengthen your walk with God primarily, and if you want the note cards, that's fine. I am excited about doing this because I know I can always be more thankful than I am and I know that there is power in being thankful. I wont be posting something everyday, but most likely once a week as time permits. I am also adding my own little challenge to it and will purposefully try to find things that aggravate me and add them to my list of thanks. Things such as physical aspects I don't like about myself (example: my poor eye sight. I'm the only one in my family who has to wear glasses before the age of 40), or people and circumstances throughout the month that I may not be happy with, but can somehow find it within my heart to be thankful for. I challenge you to join in as well. We may be a day or two late, but it's never too late to be thankful!
"Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." 1 Corinthians 10:12
Have you ever thought, "I could never commit such a sin!" There are some sins, such as adultery and fornication, that I use to think I could never see myself committing and still hope that I never do. It wasn't a prideful attitude that made me feel this way, rather it was because I've seen this sin cause pain, ruin trust, and break hearts of all those involved including family and church members. I've heard of couples that were heavilly envolved in the ministry, but no longer felt capable of continuing in them because of fornication. No matter what angle you look at it, surely nothing but bad things can come from such sinful actions.
But then God showed me a verse out of Galations 6. "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness' considering thyself lest thou also be tempted." Notice that this verse is directed to the spiritual, the ones who are capable of helping others back into fellowship with God. This verse showed me that temptation is something we should all take very seriously, not just by preference, but by command.
Another interesting revelation came durring a study on Spiritual Warfare by Tom Harmon. While he was listing all the names of the devil along with scripture references, he pointed out "No matter what spiritual plain we may think we are on, remember that Eve was in a state of perfection when Satan deceived her." I wonder if Eve ever thought to herself, "I could never eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. There's just no way I would ever do that!" Yet she was tempted, deceived, and then sinned.
The Bible is full of wisdom and instruction that will help us live a successful life that is pleasing to God. Taking heed that we be not tempted is not just for the weak and feeble in faith. It is a safe guard for all Christians to use no matter how strong we may think we are.
"Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 10:12- 13
Monday morning I looked for a verse on being humble because I realized easy it is to become prideful, and don't want everything I am working towrds to profit me nothing. I knew there was a scripture I liked in James, but since my time was running out and I needed to get ready for work, I went to the Sword Searcher and looked the verse up. "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." I would like to share with my readers what this verse means to me, and hopefully it will encourage you to meditate on the scriptures as well.
But he giveth more grace. He's already given us a lot of grace, but we live in a sinful world and we ourself are sinful by nature. God knew that we would need a lot of grace . . . so he gave us more. He could have gave us some and he still would have been righteous and just, but he saw our need and his heart was turned toward us. (Phil 4:19 "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.") God is very rich and has plenty to satisfy our needs. How caring and loving this is! Not only this, but he gives it! He doesn't make us work for it, he doesn't say that after we've served him for 3 years then we can have more grace. No, he gives it to us freely.
God resisteth the proud. Do I want God to resist me? You see, now that my eyes have been opened by the scripture I am accountable for this truth. (James 4:17: "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.") My prayer is that every time I sense myself becoming prideful, this scripture will come to my mind reminding me what the consequence of pride is.
But giveth grace unto the humble. And here we see the benefit of being humble. To the humble he gives the undeserved favor of God.
With these thoughts in mind I memorize the scripture and think about it throughout the day. Meditation and memorization. Such a simple act, but it has had a BIG impact on my life.
I've known for several years that I don't work at the best place in the world as far as stability and pay goes. However, there are definitely many positive things about my place of employment such as being close to home, working with a Christian woman I've known all my life, and not having to deal with teenagers who only talk of sensual things. But when my life was filled with bitterness I became very discontent with my job. At first I didn't see the connection, I just thought everything was going sour all at once. It wasn't until I was watching the Basic Life Seminar by Bill Gothard that I realized the root of bitterness was distorting my view of reality. I began listening to the gossipers and those who only brought sad tidings. I allowed the devil to come into my thought life and project my job in a negative light. At times our company was like a house divided. Some were for it and some seemed to be against it. (Mark 3:25)
Once I realized the reason I was not happy at work was due to the bitterness in my heart, I was able to let the gossip roll off my back and disregard all the doom and gloom rumors that were being spread abroad. I was once again able to maintain a positive attitude that this is where God wants me to be and I will be here until God opens another door.
Maybe you don't go to work outside of your home, but you may be experiencing hardship in other areas in your life. Is there something you use to enjoy doing but now can't find enjoyment in? The problem may not lie in the activity or job, but bitterness from another area in your life. This is just another reason why we should all seek to get rid of bitterness in our lives.
* This concludes the mini series of "Things I've learned in the past 2 months." *
Have you ever thought much about what a "strong hold" is? The term is found in the Bible so I believe it deserves to be recognised and mediated on. I once heard a preacher say that a strong hold is "something you believe to be true." Someone else described it as "a faulty thinking pattern based on lies and deception." Lets look at how God put it, "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled."
2 Corinthians 10:4.
This summer my sister and I went to a Christian Singles Conference (I really hate to use that word, but that's what it was) and while we were there we went over several "lies that we believe". The list included things like,
I am not accepted for who I am
I am replaceable
I am not loved
I am not smart
I am a burden
I am weird/ different
Everything I do turns out bad
I don't deserve anything
The whole list consisted of over 60 lies the enemy (Satan) tells us in a very convincing manner. Everyone could find at least one that they believe and many find that almost the whole list expresses their feelings either now or in the past. It is really eye opening to see that something you believe is a lie and is causing you to act or react in a certain way that you don't like. It is even more amazing when you realize you can be free of such lies and find new liberties in which to serve Christ through.
Since the conference I've heard others talk about these same things, but in a more personal context. One man shared how he overcame the temptation to look lustfully upon a woman, and it was through exposing a lie and meditating on a scripture that was contrary to that stronghold. He found freedom through Galatians 5:13, "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love, serve one another." You see, he believed that life was for pleasure, but upon looking at this scripture he realized that life was to serve others, not himself. I think this is pretty amazing! How many other men have you heard say they are no longer tempted to look upon a woman in lust?
So I thought I'd try it out myself. Every time I feel or have a desire to do something that is not righteous I ask myself, "What lie am I believing that is causing this?" Today was the perfect time to apply this question to my life. All day I just had the "muligrubs". I didn't feel like doing anything including reading my Bible and communing with God. I would have honestly been content to lay around and be lazy. I did get a few things accomplished, like folding sheets and cleaning my purse, but it was like pulling teeth to get myself to do those two things! So I asked myself, "What lie am I believing that is causing me to feel like I deserve to have a lazy day and do nothing?" That's when I realized: I thought this was my life. My life to do whatever I want. But the Bible says otherwise in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." That was it! I forgot that I am to do everything to the glory of God and present my body a living sacrifice. Could I say that being lazy glorified God? Could I say that I was sacrificing myself to God by sulking around trying to find every excuse not to do anything productive? You see, I was exalting myself against the knowledge of God, but once I became aware of this strong hold in my life I was then able to have a "readiness to revenge all disobedience" because now I recognise it as not just the "muligrubs" but as disobedience. Now I have the energy to say, "I am not going to let this lie from Satan cause me to live in a way that would displease God," which brings me right back to 2 Corinthians 10:4. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God". We have Christ in us who is able to do all things (Philippians 4:13) and the word of God which is the sword of the spirit (Ephesians 6:17). God has given us all we need to uncover and conquer these strong holds that are hindering our lives from glorifying God. The more we uncover the more liberty we will have to serve God and others in a meaningful, delightful way.
I thought it was just the circumstances. I thought I had let people put too much on my plate. I thought things were just getting harder. In reality, the difference was the person carrying the load. I use to let God help me by taking my cares to Him and asking for his strength, but with so much bitterness in my heart I didn't have any desire to call upon God. I knew that if I did so I would first have to humble myself and ask for forgiveness for my bitterness and pride. I didn't want to do that so I thought it better to go on with life by myself. This led me to feel overwhelmed to the point that a few times I didn't think I could take it anymore. I was pressured with decisions to make and no one to help me make them and I doubted every move I made.
Just this week I watched a video by Gary Smalley in which he talked of the same thing. He is a Christian, but there was a time in his life that he let his wealth become his focus and he no longer pursued a relationship with God. It was during this time that his life became so stressful that he had a heart attack and was very sick. When I heard him say this my eyes were opened to the truth that any time we try to go through life without God we are to expect life to get more stressful. One of the verses I am meditating on this week is Philippians 4:6-7. "Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplications, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." This is a privilege we have yet when we fail to go to God with our worries we give up the peace that He has promised to give us. In a sense, we have control over the stress in our lives. It's up to us to learn how to give them over to God.
Lately I have been meditating on several new truths I've been learning. I can't say that I have fully implemented the concepts into my life, but there is so much truth in these things I'm learning that I want to share them while they are on my heart. Some of the posts will probably be short and some may be long, but I hope they will all give you something to think about.
#1. Life becomes commonplace when all you do is have fun.
This quote is one of many I heard while at a conference last July. It is with much sadness that I can say that I've experienced this first hand. I have let myself slope into this I'll- do-what-I want-to-do mode. Instead of studying or dusting my room I would watch a movie. Instead of getting the most out of my Saturday I would sleep in an extra hour. Instead of reading The Spirit- Controlled Woman I read Pride and Prejudice. Instead of reading my Bible I would get on the Internet. In the end, I only half enjoyed it and was left with a dissatisfying aftertaste.
What was the result of having fun all the time? I felt commonplace. There was nothing special about my life. I was no different than any other person. Life had no meaning and I had nothing to take pride in.
God didn't create us to do whatever we please. When Adam was formed and placed in the Garden of Eden he had to name all the animals (that's a command), he had to be fruitful and multiply (also a command), replenish and subdue the earth, and he couldn't eat of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (a restriction). In the same manner, children are placed under the authority of their parents and are commanded to obey them. Over the years I have heard mama say that a child is happiest when they have boundaries because it makes them feel loved. Even as a young woman I am glad my parents make their wishes known to me such as asking me not to go out at night by myself. Such boundaries make me feel that my parents care about me and don't want me to be harmed.
As adults we often think that we are finally free of all restrictions and commands. We can do whatever we want to do. But we will soon realize that there is no fulfillment in this style of living because that is not God's design. God has a plan, as outlined in the Word of God, and when that plan is followed there are blessings, but when it is not followed God cannot reward us for going contrary to the right path.
So what is the answer?Should I get busy in a church program? Keep my room spotless? Read every Christian book in my possession? None of these things could ever give me fulfillment. Only Christ can make my life meaningful and abundant. Projects will never give me life more abundantly, but seeking God like hidden treasure will. I think Luke 9:23 -24 sums it up very well. "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it." Follow God and his commands (not our own) and you will find meaning, purpose, and joy in life.
I don't refer my blog readers to other blogs very often, but this article was just too good not to tell others about. I Don't Wait Anymore is about the struggles that we single women go through. It is very insightful coming from someone who isn't a teenager with fairy tail dreams, but a woman with truthful views on life as a single person and how to deal with that. It's an excellent read and I hope you take the time to read it all the way through.
Several months ago a man at our church started videoing all the singing and offertories at our church. It's kinda cool to see me and my siblings singing . . . unless we made a mistake. (Then we wished he hadn't videoed us. But that rarely happens anymore!) So I finally figured out how to post the videos to YouTube (at around 11:30 at night!) and then I was able to post it to my blog! So here is my first upload! Not the best, but it's my favorite song. I hope you enjoy it!
For the past year God has been teaching me how to live outside of the "Baptist Box". I've always been taught that speaking in tongues is a thing of the past, you shouldn't endorse anything that isn't KJV, and the charismatic crowd probably isn't right with God. Have I let my standards down? Not at all. Have I expanded the realm in which God can work in my life? Absolutely! I still believe that most people misuse and misunderstand the gift of tongues. I still believe the KJV is the final authority. And I don't have a desire to be part of the charismatic crowd. However, that doesn't mean that God can't do great works for His glory with those things I oppose. In the Bible God has used some pretty unlikely things and people to accomplish his work. He used a woman to fight a battle for Israel (Judges chapter 4) and a donkey to speak to one of His prophets (Numbers 22)! So many times we limit God by saying, "God doesn't work that way anymore." or "Unless you meet up to certain standards you can't be used by God." How wrong we have been.
With that being said, I would like to share a great video by Louie Gigleo. It's kind of long, but it's worth it. At the very beginning I was thinking, "Come on, science? I don't speak that language!" but trust me, it gets good! At first glance I was put off by his casual attire and his manner of presentation, but what he has to say really puts things into perspective. I hope you enjoy it!
I am continually amazed how God works. The way He allows us to reconcile our self to Christ at any moment is a benefit far greater than what we deserve. It would not be injustice if we had to work to get back into fellowship with God, yet he chooses to simply accept our repentant heart and opens His arms wide for us to run into.
Then things change. So many times I’ve struggled through the week with bad attitudes trying to make myself show love to others and be kind to the people around me. I find it challenging, requiring much effort, but yet unsuccessful. Yet the moment I am reconciled unto God I find it so easy to love any and everyone. I no longer have to look at a prayer list to be reminded of who has needs, because they are on my heart and mind out of a true concern. I have found 1 John 4:7-8 to be so true! “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” I have heard preachers say that they didn’t know how to love until they became a Christian and I use to wonder at such a saying. Now I understand. I can’t truly love someone in a selfless Christ honoring way unless God’s love is present in my life and my love for him is real. Any love apart from this must be a selfish or shallow love, nothing like the love God has toward us and the love that he places in our heart. I firmly believe living life without this love isn’t really living at all!
I once read that a good writer is a reader. The same aspect can be applied to instrumentalist. If you want to be good at the instrument you play you must listen to music. So over the past year or two I have come up with quite a variety of "inspiration" music (hymn instrumentals) that I listen to often. I don't like everything I hear from any certain artist, but I am able to get something out of each CD and try to apply it to my own music. I happen to be very particular about what kind of style I play, so it's very easy for me to point out what I do and don't like. I wont be discussing that in this post because it's just a matter of preference and who is to say I have the right or better taste? What I may dislike, my sister may love! So we won't spend much time on that, but you may be able to figure out my style without me spelling it out.
When I began looking for good quality piano hymns I asked a fellow blogger (who is going to college for music ministry) for recommendations. He told me about Daniel Hopkins who was making his first CD, For the Audience of One, and as soon as it was available I bought it and was very pleased! Not only do I listen to his CD over and over, but I also visit YouTube to hear many other arrangements he plays at his church in California. Daniel plays moderately fast to fast, and keeps his songs exciting (for a lack of better words). I really like his introductions because they are interesting and not too long. (Some peoples introductions last about a third of the song!) He is also very good at playing the slower "mood" or reflective songs, but when I need inspiration for a fast and fun song I always turn to Daniel Hopkin's arrangements. If I don't find what I'm looking for I at least come away with some good ideas for the introduction to my song.
This piano player isn't just someone who I've heard play beautiful melodies through my CD player, but someone I've met in person. She and her siblings have been to our church twice and were very nice. Though she is a year younger than me she plays as if she has 10 years more experience under her belt! In fact she is a big encouragement to me because of her age, seeing that she can do it makes me believe that I can accomplish the same. She fills her songs with lots of unique runs and arpeggios as well as octave scales in the bass. Her CD is titled, Merciful and Mighty, and she is working on her second recording which will hopefully come out within the next few months.
I've only been listening to Greg Howlett's music for a few months but I feel like I know a lot more about him because of his blog and YouTube lessons. In my opinion his talent is in "mood" music, or "reflective" music as he calls it. His songs are very soothing and relaxing, and in a lot of ways, less extravagant than most. He has a deep understanding of music and has learned how to make it powerful with less notes. Instead of filling his songs with fancy frills, he uses a lot of impressive chord substitutions that makes his music sound much more interesting than the original chords that are written in the hymn book. He has really got me excited about chord substitutions and color notes, so much that I'm starting to think that chord substitutions are more important than all those fancy runs and arpeggios. But Greg doesn't just record his music and leave it at that, he has created sessions with the church piano player in mind so that we can advance our talent in a way that will be beneficial to our church. The prices are very reasonable, thought he has a wealth of information on his website that is free. (I absolutely love his free arrangement of Just as I Am.) In one of his free sessions on soft music he stated several things that have stuck with me which I will talk about in another post.
Of his 5 CD's I have, Seasonal Spice, Quiet Place, and Portraits of Hope, all of which can be found at his website along with his blog. If you like orchestra music you will like Portraits of Hope, but if you prefer to listen to primarily the piano then Quiet Place is a much better place to start. If this post has been interesting to you, be sure to check out Greg Howlett's interview with Erin Bates. They both share some of their favorite piano styles and talk about the recording process.
This week my favorite scripture came up twice. "Delight thyself in the Lord and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Psalms 37:4. Once durring Sunday School and also in my Daily Scripture Calandar. Both times I read it I got one of those feelings where I just knew something was going to happen. It had to be something special for God to show me this verse that means so much to me not just once, but twice.
I had other things on my mind. Other things I wanted it to be. But instead God gave me this . . .
Sometimes when I think about how long I have been saved and been in church I am ashamed to admit my lack of knowledge or the things that I have felt. But I believe that there are other young Christians who feel the same way. God commands us to "Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed." I have a desire to tell others some of the things that I have been insecure about in my Christian walk so that others may find motivation and determination to give their all to God. Just reading these articles will not help you find the answer to your problems, but they may show you how much clearer things are when your life is lived for and through Christ alone.
Over the years I have struggled with not knowing who I should befriend and who I should kindly avoid. Most of the people I am around are Christians, but I wasn't sure if I should befriend those Christian's who aren't actively serving God or committed to doing what's right. I realize this may sound very judgmental, but since I am already an introvert I was really looking for an excuse to stay to myself and the few people that I was drawn to. I also had an overwhelming desire to do everything right and to look right to everyone around me, thus I was very conscientious about who I was associated with.
On the other hand, sometimes there were people that I enjoyed talking to casually, yet almost felt guilty for doing so because they weren't a Christian or they were living their own life totally unconcerned about what God wanted. I've heard so many people say that most of the time you don't bring them up, they bring you down, that I really believed that. I had a hard time finding the balance between being someone's friend and being friendly to them and nothing more. Many times my soul was in turmoil over this.
For the past several weeks my mind and heart have been fixed on God more than ever before. I finally came to a point in my life where I was tired of being inconsistent and struggling every day to do what was right. I decided that I was going to serve God and I was not going to give up no matter how hard it would be. My mind has been so focused on learning the scriptures and learning how to develop a better prayer life that I no longer worried about who I should befriend. God had filled my soul with joy so that everyone I passed at work I smiled at and gave a hearty greeting. At church I was more confident in myself and actually had a desire to talk to others a little more than I had in the past. Without even trying I began to be a friendlier person in small ways.
During this time of renewed fellowship with God, a missionary from Palou visited our church while on deputation. One of the scriptures he preached out of was II Corinthians chapter 5:17-18. "Therfore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;" These scriptures have stuck in my mind and I've read them over many times because the meaning behind them is so great. When the missionary read this passage I felt like God pointed straight at me and said, "That's your ministry" and truly it is because the scripture says so itself.
To reconcile is to to "call back into union and friendship the affections which have been alienated or to restore to friendship or favor after estrangement." (1828 Webster's Dictionary) I believe this ministry of reconciliation is two-fold. Primarily, we are to introduce the lost world to Christ by the words we say and the way we live. Secondly, I believe we are also responsible for drawing wayward Christians back to Christ. Many have gone astray, and if we pull them back into fellowship with the good Shepherd our efforts to reach the lost will be stronger.
Since God has shown me this I look at every person I meet as an opportunity to serve God through this ministry. Every chance I get to talk to someone is a chance for me to speak God's name. Saved or lost, there is opportunity to serve the God that I love. I no longer wonder if God wants me to be friendly to the co-worker who is living in sin. I don't question if befriending that lady at church is "worth it". At first glance it may seem like most of the friendships or friendly acquaintances I have do not benefit me, but they most certainly do. Every time I speak God's name to someone, in person or in e-mail, my soul is thrilled because I love to brag on my God! I love this ministry of reconciliation.
It's one of the scripture's in my Bible that I highlighted years ago. It's the scripture that I've quoted many times. It's the scripture that is sent with every e-mail at work. It's the scripture that I can't get out of my head!
Today I wasn't having one of the best days. It was just one of those days when I didn't feel like giving my all. I wanted to do a half-hearted job like everyone else and call it a day so that I could go home and do something easy. Then I heard it, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;" So I sat back down at my desk, pulled my project back out, and worked on it some more. I can do this.
Hours later I was working on yet another project which I wasn't enjoying so much. "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;" . . . Lord, did you really have to put that scripture in the Bible?
Now I'm at home dusting my room like I do every week. I know that this is the last thing on my chore list so the sooner I get done the sooner I can do what I want to do. "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;" So I wiped down each tea pot and dusted underneath every piece of paper on my desk and put away my candles that were misplaced . . . and it felt good.
We are serving the Lord
When I began to meditate on this scripture I realized that it has several purposes. The first one is listed in the next verse, "Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." When I am at work entering codes into the computer or when I am at home dusting my room I am serving God. By doing my best I am obeying God's Word and pleasing Him who bought me with his blood. Our heavenly reward (the one that really counts) will be great if we do everything as unto the Lord.
We can shine our light
A great benefit that comes from obeying this scripture is one that everyone can recognize. Others see that we are dedicated and a hard worker and they wonder at it. In a world where everyone is looking for the easy way out, an easy solution, and are satisfied with a half-hearted job, we Christian's can shine forth like bright lights for Christ. God will open up doors because of our faithfulness, for we all know that everyone prefers a hard worker in time of need whether it be in a church program, helping someone organize their home, decorating the church, or cleaning our neighbor's yard. At first they only see our good works but God may allow us to show them the One behind them all, the one who is driving us to give our best in all that we do. We have the opportunity to build a good reputation and turn it around to glorify God.
The benefit of this command doesn’t stop with God's reward or the opportunities it creates to serve God; it also makes our life on earth more enjoyable. In my own life, when I know that I've worked hard all day I can take pride in my work and feel good about the way my time was spent. When I know that I did everything to the best of my ability I don’t have any regrets. I can rest in the knowledge that I pleased God and it gives me the courage to keep doing my best, knowing that the more diligent I become the easier it will be to do the right thing.
I still may not feel like giving my all at everything I do, but the more I meditate on it the more I believe that working as unto the Lord will open up opportunities to serve . . . and that's worth everything!