He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a

Monday, March 19, 2018

Life Giving Water

         My husband was checking out posts on the internet today and came across an article which kind of surprised him.  It seems Henry Winkler was a good deal older than his character “Fonzie” when he was cast on “Happy Days” back in the ‘70’s.  We knew Richard Thomas was older than his character “John Boy” on “The Walton’s,” and there were others, like in the movie “Grease” whose characters were a good deal younger than the ages of those portraying them.
            As we get older, many of us cringe when we look in the mirror.  We want all the “age lines,” gray hairs and those little things that age us, to disappear so we look ten or twenty years younger.
            There are all kinds of creams and formulas that claim to reduce age wrinkles and spots.  They claim a person can look ten to fifteen years younger than they really are.  We are a society bent on stopping the aging process.  I admit there are practices I use to help me look better.  I suspect we all do, as we fight the inevitable, aging process! We all want to keep younger looking, as well as, feeling as if we aren’t encumbered with illness that steals our vitality.
Spas have become the rage of our country.  It seems the health benefits include reducing stress and hormone issues, being a pain reliever, mood enhancer and more, should you allow yourself to treat yourself to this type of relaxation!1 The more wealthy in society even have surgeries in an effort to recapture some of the youthful look.
            The truth is, however, it doesn’t matter what we do to keep the aging process at bay, it will catch up with us and the inevitable will happen.  We will all age and eventually pass from this life.  It’s what happens after this life that really matters.  Depending on our decisions today, we can look forward to “really living” in Paradise or we can know we will be in a place of eternal torment.  What we choose in this life really does determine our eternal destiny.
            It has nothing to do with drinking the best mineral water, eating the most nutritious foods, having the perfect exercise routine or even the least stressed life.  Life is what it is and we each have to deal with our individual circumstances.  So our choice of living our life for Christ is the best “life giving water” available to us.  The “life giving” remedies available in this life only applies to our mortal life.  It has no bearing on our eternal future.  Only Jesus has “water” that sustains throughout all eternity.

            So I challenge you to consider how you view aging and all you are doing to keep the process at bay.  Our lives will never be free of challenges because we are human and we all have daily circumstances that test the strongest and hardiest of us!  The best “Life Giving Water” is the water given through and by Jesus Christ.  It is through Him we can find the kind of refreshment we need, that can be found no where else!

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Skunk in the Camp

It was the perfect ending to the day: sitting at the picnic table enjoying a cup of coffee.  The night was warm with just the slightest breeze.  Crickets sang and other night noises mingled with the sweet, shrill sound.  “Don’t move quickly,” my husband suddenly said, clearly alarmed.

            “What’s wrong,” I asked, troubled by my husband’s agitation. 

            “If you look around really slowly,” he said softly, “you will see a skunk is joining us in the camp.”

            “What?  Where?”

            “He’s still behind you, so you need to rise easy and quietly, and leave the table.  Back away and hopefully he won’t spray us.”

            Following my husband’s direction, I stood and quietly exited without incident.  Watching from the safety of the tent, my husband also rose as quietly as possible and quickly retreated.  The skunk didn’t seem bothered by our presence and continued walking until he was completely though the camp. 

            There are times when something large, foreboding, or intimidating enters our lives and we are forced to deal with it, much like the skunk that made his unannounced and unwelcome appearance in our campsite.  Sometimes the “skunk” comes in the form of something like a snake (snakes scare me silly), spiders or other natural enemy.  It could be something advertised as harmless entertainment, like a casino with gambling, or social drinking which turns into alcoholism or a friend sharing a drug which turns into a horrible addiction, or even divorce or death.

            I remember reading an article years ago that was sharing the “visit” from a guest in the house.  The guest ended up moving in and over the course of time changed the lives of every member of the household.  The “guest” began using inappropriate language, displaying offensive behavior and generally monopolizing every person’s time.  The “guest” began intruding on and changing expected behaviors and attitudes in nearly every aspect of life.  The guest?  The television!

            Television seems harmless enough, in the sense we have the choice of turning it off or change the channel if we don’t like what we see. It seems, however, once it’s on, unless the language or behavior is REALLY offensive we acclimate to what we’re hearing and seeing. We’ve become immune to bad manners, inexcusable conduct and moral decay because it’s on nearly every channel.  Our children have grown up with it. 

            The conduct observed on the television screen is blatantly displayed not only on TV, but in our schools, shopping malls and homes, and even our churches!  Please understand, I’m not suggesting that all television is bad, but is this the “skunk” in many households that weaves the threads of “acceptable sin?”

            We make choices in our daily lives regarding what we will and will not do or allow.  It’s imperative, if we want to live a godly life, to lean on The Father so we can be saved from the temptation of giving in to the “skunk” in whatever form it comes.   We need to be aware, our "skunk" is likely to leave us less than acceptable, for the Kingdom.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Music Matters

          Music has a way of making any day brighter.  Sometimes the words to a song can cause the listener to be reflective, happy, inspired, encouraged or overcome with a whole litany of emotions.  Sometimes just listening to music without any words can be the perfect sound to fill a heart.

Fiddles, banjos, dulcimer and guitar through the years has generated the perfect sound of a southern string band that helped create legends like The Carter Family, Earl Scruggs, Chet Atkins and Dolly Parton, to name a few.  Alan Jackson has an amazing way with a guitar and his voice, as does Vince Gill and so many others.  Southern Gospel groups like the Kingdom Heirs (my favorite), Gold City and Greater Vision to name a few, have a way with music that touches the core of my soul!

The Bible talks about celebrating with music from Genesis to Revelation, but most often in the Psalms.  Music was frequently used when praise was given.  David danced in the street when they were bringing the Ark of the Covenant into the City of David.  He was praising The Lord. Miriam played a timbrel, sang and danced, along with all the other women, after they crossed the Red Sea in joyous celebration and praise.  God welcomes our voices even when they don’t harmonize perfectly with another in a worship service.  It’s a matter of giving our hearts and voices up in praise that matters to the Father.

Sometimes when I go to bed at night I have a tune in my head which keeps repeating itself.  What’s wonderful is when I wake in the morning with a song in my heart.  It might be the same song I heard in my head as I fell off to sleep but sometimes it’s another.  What I find remarkable is the peace that comes with the music about God’s grace, forgiveness, love, peace and other qualities of our Lord.

There are times when I’m feeling down or even just physically tired, yet when I turn Gospel music on, I find my focus changing off me and onto the Lord.  It turns my mind in another, more productive, direction.  I am able to step a little faster, smile a little more and forget my fatigue or sad feelings.

Besides instruments like harps, trumpets and lyres, cymbals, tambourine and other musical implements, we, as humans with a voice, are also completely capable and totally obligated to make music and praise unto the Lord.  This is how we were created!   

I love to sing, especially music about Jesus. (This doesn’t mean I do it well, but I do enjoy the effort!)  There is just something profoundly moving about hearing a message in song about the Risen Savior, or the New Birth.  Easter and Christmas fill the heart with such strong emotions that when shared in song can stir, elevate, exalt, revere and intensify feelings that are nearly tangible.  While I mentioned Easter and Christmas, any time of year, any time of day, is the perfect time to tap into music, especially Gospel music.   

So I challenge you to turn off the television set, turn the radio on to your favorite Gospel station or put a Gospel CD in and listen to the music and message, and watch (and feel) your heart soar!  Allow God to touch your soul through the medium of music, because music does matter!