Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘falling’ Category

The Devil Made Me Do It

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

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Our pastor had a great message yesterday.  The subject was “Why do bad things happen?” – a very timely topic in light of the recent events in Japan.

As he spoke and listed the possible reasons why things happen – I was reminded of the journey that I have been on – and the many people who I have encountered along the way who have also had bad things happen to them.

Sometimes bad things DO happen to good people.  It’s called LIFE.  We live in a fallen world where things are going to happen.

We ourselves are fallen creatures – capable of making choices that are not always the best.  Many things we do to ourselves – and although the Lord forgives us – people aren’t always so kind – and worse than that – there is the fall-out and carnage from those choices that can follow us for the rest of our lives.

Our choices, therefore – can lead us down a path of unresolved issues, guilt, despair, hurt and frustration, separation from loved ones and good friends.  Or they can lead us to reconciliation, understanding, forgiveness and love.  I want to be in the later group – and I want all those that I have wronged to also be in that group.  Ah – but that is not always possible.  My husband Greg – calls this, “Cindy Land”.

And of course when touching on this subject – my childhood teachings come in to play.  Certain scripture verses come to light when talking about ‘temptation’ – or ‘failing’ or just simply  a ‘mess-up’.   Scriptures that would cite the Devil or at least demonic activity as the culprit for why we mess-up – why we are tempted to do wrong – or get involved with wrong people and wrong choices.  Things like, “The Devil is crouching at the door”  or “The Devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may destroy”.   And although I buy into some of that to a certain extent – (I cannot argue with scripture after all) – I also have to accept responsibility for my own choices. I do know people who blame the Devil for everything saying, “The Devil made me do it” – instead of accepting personal responsibility for their own actions.  And almost always, those same people point fingers and blame others – instead of looking inside of themselves and taking the responsibility for themselves.  This makes me sad – because I know they will never heal properly while trying to “run from the devil” or run from those “bad people” who tempt them into doing wrong.  The answer is almost always inside ourselves and  has to do with our own heart.  Can the Devil take advantage of us when we are weak? – Yes.  Does he tempt us?  Yes.  I do believe that.  But he cannot force us to do anything – we are capable of making those bad choices without any help.  The heart of man is deceitfully wicked and prone to wander – without any help at all.  “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you”

I know for myself – that I am almost always aware when I make a choice – good or bad.  There comes a point of ‘no return’ – where I blow past all the red flags – and intentionally do something – because I want to. I can admit that.  I think everyone would be better and healthier if they could just admit it too.

Like my pastor, Stephen – I do not believe that the earthquake and tsunami of Japan and a couple of years ago the earthquake in Haiti – is the result of God’s judgment.

I believe that the world is fallen – it has been fallen since sin entered the garden through Adam and Eve.  And yet despite this fact – I believe that God is good.  He sent His son Jesus to rescue me from myself, to validate and identify with me.  I believe that He loves me.  He came – He got involved.  He forgives and He is with me through bad things that happen to me.  He walks with me and gives me the ability to get through it.  He is very aware that I am fragile and that I blow it.  He is slow to anger and covers me with love and mercy.  And one day – things will be perfect again – when He returns and we see Him as He is.

Until then – we are here – living with fallen people – and in a fallen world.

When you have had something bad happen to you – either by a mistake and wrong choices that you have made – or just because you’re living in a fallen world with fallen people – I believe that you have a choice – just like I do.  A choice to quit and say, “I’m done” – or you can take that bad thing and use it to help other people – becoming a softer and more compassionate person who understands God’s amazing grace.  Someone whom others will come to when in trouble – who need an understanding hug and word of encouragement.

Be that person today.

As we journey together…

God Bless

Here is a little Flip Wilson – enjoy!

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Finding The On/Off Switch!

A picture of a Toggle light switch.

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I’m looking for a little switch that I’ve misplaced.  It should be a simple thing to find – but I can’t locate it.

My computer has such a switch – so does my desk lamp – my candle warmers and the lights all around my house.  If I don’t want anything on anymore – I just flip the switch – to OFF!

My mind used to have one of these – long ago when I was much younger and slept deeper.  These days I cannot find the switch that shuts off the endless conversations with unseen people and circumstances – they follow me into my dreams.

Last night Greg was out working very late and I tried to settle in, relax and go to sleep.  Again – I could not find the switch and everything in my mind was turned to ON!  And sadly, ‘ON’ means – nothing is quiet.  Everything is up for grabs – including different case scenarios for past events – and conversations with certain individuals I know I’ll NEVER have.  Somehow my mind tries to make up for the lack.  It gladly fill in the blanks on events that have no answers.  This can be good – and it can be VERY BAD.  Sometimes the imagination of the mind – leaves me feeling sad – because none of it is true.

I’d still like to find my ‘switch’ – and never lose it again.  I would turn it ‘Off’ when getting ready to turn in for the night – and then turn it to ‘ON’ when ready to get up – giving my exhausted brain a chance to recover.  *Sigh*

Do you have a ‘switch’?  Or have you misplaced it somewhere along the way, like I have?

In a perfect world – we would never lose that switch – and in a perfect world things would be solved, conflicts brought to right and everyone come to an understanding – and there would be no need for such a switch.

 

God Bless

Fear Of Failure

Thoroughbred racing at Churchill Downs.

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Heard an excellent message this morning from our pastor – “How to deal with Failure”.

I jotted down some thoughts while I was listening:

We have all failed.

We can let that failure make us better – or keep us bitter.

God uses failure in our lives to prepare us for better things.

It can be Fear of Failure that keeps us back and holds us down.

 

A few days ago my husband and I went to see ‘Secretariat‘.  And yes I am actually old enough to remember watching him race  in those ‘triple crown’ races in 1972-73.  It brought back many memories for me – and was thrilling to hearing the back story.  The film also had a common theme today with our pastor’s message.  Failure. The owner of that magnificent race horse – had experienced failure and set-backs.  She could have given in to defeat and even what she knew about the horse’s genetics – but she refused to give in to either.  She knew that horse was a winner and so against all odds – she believed and that belief empowered her.  Instead of being afraid – she pushed on – and Secretariat is still known today as the greatest race horse that ever lived – no race horse has come close to beating his record in 37 years.

When I heard the message today – I was reminded of that horse.  And of the horse’s owner, Penny.  She was completely convinced that her horse was the best – even though the horse had lost a race at first and others told her – to give up.  She stared failure in the face and didn’t bat an eye.  At a great financial gamble – she believed and made the investors believe too.

How much I would love to be like this.  Just because I know something is true – how often do I really believe it and act on it?  Stare fear in the face and not bat an eye?  Take my power back?  Not care about the whispers and humiliation set against me?  Push on past my own reputation and pride?  Get back up after failing and be changed and transformed through the experience? And most of all – see the blessing in it?

It’s hard.  I have failed.  I am just now seeing the blessing in that failure.  But at the time – I thought it would be what would take me down and steal my joy, my testimony and my walk.  And although I am no champion – like Secretariat and numerous others that have had set-back and failures that are far more high-profile than I – I would have to say that it is because of that failure and my response to it – that I am where I am today. I found God’s grace in the midst of pain and hurt.  I might never have discovered first hand how much He loves and forgives if it hadn’t been for my failure.  I might never have discovered how much my husband really loves and believes in me – or how many true friendships I have – how much they have my back and love me beyond my many mistakes.

The key is our response – not the fear of failure.  To fall down and be broken before our God –  but then to get back up. To allow that failure to create something gracious inside of us that sees past the shortcomings and failures of other people.   To allow grace, mercy, humility and love to be our close friends when dealing with other people.  And to release that champion in our hearts that just wants to run – free – just like that race horse.

Here is a beautiful passage of scripture from the Message Bible.  When I was listening to my friend lead worship on a youtube video – she quoted a portion of this Psalm and it is so fitting when speaking about failure.

Psalm 51

1-3Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.

4-6 You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I’ll let loose with your praise.

16-17 Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

18-19 Make Zion the place you delight in,
repair Jerusalem’s broken-down walls.
Then you’ll get real worship from us,
acts of worship small and large,
Including all the bulls
they can heave onto your altar!

 

May you find that this new week  steeped in ‘chaos’ – is actually a ‘Genesis’ week – a new beginning – rich with possibilities and newness.  And no fear of failure.

 

God Bless

Keeping My Eye On The Ball

Heard a great ‘message/personal story’ by new pastor Stephen Collins at LifePoint Church yesterday.  His main illustration and emphasis was about baseball.  He talked about how his Dad taught him at a young age to ‘keep his eye on the ball’.

If you play ball – or know anything about it from others who do – then you know that this advice from coaches is not just a suggestion – but a tried and true method in which you connect with the ball.  You take your eyes off – and you not only lose the possibility of connection – but you can miss altogether.  This is a great ‘life lesson’ as well.

There are many distractions in life – those things that can take our focus off what is really important.  Oh – sometimes they are really little things – hardly detectable by anyone else – but for you – they can mean the difference between having a ‘win’ – or ‘striking out’.

I believe that things happen for a reason.  Emotions and situations are neutral.  It is how I process them – and choose to react to them that makes the difference between a ‘win’ for me – or a ‘loss’.  When I understand this – I am able to find my focus and not let others distract me – or try to pull me to one side or another.  If God is truly the central focus of my life – and He is – then the ‘other things’ become neutral. My responsibility is to do what He asks me to do – nothing else.  That – for me – is ‘keeping my eye on the ball’.

In every heart – in our deepest part of our soul – we have a ‘God space’ – that no one else can go.  It is our ‘secret place’ with Him alone.  Others can not fill us up – it is for Him alone.  When we try to fill it with other things in life – or other people – thinking these things will be enough and satisfy – we are easily distracted and disappointed – become discouraged and can be depressed.  Especially when our self-worth depends on what others think and say about us or to us directly.  When we keep our eyes on Him alone – the rest does not matter – we don’t need man’s approval – or advice to make us feel better.  We can simply rest in Him.

I plan to ‘keep my eye on the ball’ – I will fail because I’m flawed and capable of really messing it up – but after I blow it – I will again pick myself back up and find my focus once again.  I know I will be distracted by ‘well meaning’ people who try to sway me in one direction or another – but my goal is to be secure in spite of these obstacles – and be confident enough in myself – even when others don’t agree – even when things are slipping out of my hands and my world is shaken – even when I don’t handle it right with people.  I want to be solid and unswayed in my belief that I only need to answer to God alone – and NOT take my focus off what I know He is calling me to do.

What is God calling you to do?  Do you stand alone?  Are there many distractions and troubles?  Is your heart heavy from the weight of it?  Welcome to the club!  Welcome to life. Hold on weary traveler – don’t lose your focus – or be weary in well-doing.  Keep your eye on the ball.

God Bless

No Fear

Look fear in the face and it will cease to trouble you

Last night I couldn’t sleep.   It was a very warm day here in Seattle and even though it cools down at night – there was virtually NO breeze.  So I tossed and turned and by the time my late working husband came home from his night job – I was ready to get up move around and have a bowl of cereal in the ‘wee hours’.

As we sat in the dark in the cool downstairs family room – we started talking about the subject of ‘fear’.  Fear is an interesting subject – it is different for everyone.  There are things that I’m afraid of – water over my head for instance – that would not bother someone else.  I have what you might call a ‘phobia’ about being in water and not being able to breathe.  Others would say, “how ridiculous! – just SWIM and hold your breath when under water!”  Easy to say if you’re a great swimmer and have no fear.

Others we have known have had a fear of heights.  I personally do not.  I know that I’m not going to fall off a high building – unless I jump and I’m not going to do that!  So to me – that is an unrealistic fear – based in fantasy and not reality.  But to people afraid – they are paralyzed with it. Another big fear:  Spiders.  I know they can look menacing and even some of them will bite – but most are harmless.  And yet many people – including my own daughter – are deathly afraid of them.  What’s the worst thing that could happen?  Again – you’re not going to die – but to them they would rather die then have one of those ‘many legged’ creatures crawl on them 0r even next to them. And the fear of being in a closed in space – very real to some – again this is not my fear.  The wall is NOT going to close in on them – nor suffocate them – but they are really afraid they are.   It’s not real.  I say – just close your eyes and breathe deeply and open your eyes!!  Nothing is coming for you!  Easy for me to say, right?

What we fear most often will not ever happen.

I believe that Jesus came to this earth – walked among us – taught his disciples, died on a cross and defeated death and the enemy to give us this great message of hope:  There is NOTHING to fear.  And if we keep our eyes fastened on Him – confess our weaknesses and our fears to Him – He will gently assure us – not think we’re silly or weak – but help us to feel safe. Just like a Father will comfort his children when they are afraid – so our loving heavenly father draws us to himself – scoops us up and allows us to be comforted and embraced.

I pray that today – if there is anything that you are facing, dreading and fearing – that you will allow your Heavenly Father to whisper comfort to you.  That He will show you that there isn’t anything you will face that will overwhelm you or beat you down so far that He will not find you – reach for you and walk with you – in your darkest days – even then.  I pray that you will not allow fear of the unknown to swallow you or cause you to lose your joy.  That you would walk confidently through the journey that you are on – that you will embrace the people who have been put in your path to make the journey more tolerable and help to ease your heavy load – and to remind you – there is no fear.

God Bless

Self-Control

Inside my mind

I am who I am

living a life

unguarded and real

Fighting a battle

with myself

that all must fight

The right to have

the right to decide

the right to control

Many decisions

daily

hold me back

or push me forward

I play a game of chance

I love the thrill

and the rush

the intoxicating darkness

that whispers and calls

it is so easy to go there

But the pain

of choices

past

ruin

hinder

hold back

and rob me

of freedom

and joy

I tremble

and wait

for another unkind word

knowing it is well deserved

hiding

pulling away

from everyone

and myself

it is guilt

it is shame

I want to resist

for a while I am strong

I can do it

no trouble

no inward battle of my will

and then…

I am slowly seduced

by a memory

or a thought

or a ‘what if’

and the game begins

and I am the loser

once again

And so the song

echoes in my head

“I’m never going back again”

and I am firmly resolved

to be weak

and frail

helpless

and undone

It is only

with Christ Jesus

I am set free

I am in full control

my weakness is made strong

when I do not try to do it alone

He teaches me

that my self-control

is the secret to my happiness

the key to my future

the mystery of saying no

and resisting

I am the winner

Sin makes you a slave

Grace sets you free

gives you self-control

peace in your heart

and makes you strong

Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. Proverbs 16:32

I am praying for you today that you too will learn the secret of building ‘self control’ in your own life – so that your sin nature will not ‘own’ you – promising things that cannot be delivered.  In resisting and saying ‘no’ you embrace freedom – in surrendering to your weakness and losing your will – you will find it again.

God Bless

Trash

Today my daughter and son-in-law moved into a different apartment.  My husband and I went over – my husband to help lift and carry things – me to offer moral support while the guys were lifting and carrying.  Moving is hard – it’s exhausting – both physically and emotionally.  It means something is over – and you leave a part of you behind.  And you move on.

I never want to move again after all the times I’ve moved – let’s see – 7 times before I was married and 18 times since being married – a total of 6 different states.  Yes I know – it’s unbelievable – but it’s true.  And yet – we’ve managed to live now in the same house for 7 years – the longest we’ve lived in one house – ever. But moving often forces you to throw things away – often.  So that can be good.

But moving is not fun – you discover just how much trash you have been collecting – and instead of being a reasonable person and throwing things away – you find you’ve been hoarding it. It becomes perfectly clear when you move – because to be honest – you just don’t want to spend the energy moving it again if you don’t have to – so you find out what’s important to save and what is trash.

Our lives can be like this too.  We store ‘trash’ because either we think we will need it some day – or we’re too lazy to throw it out – or – we are simply unaware that it’s there.  And to make a clean sweep of our lives is painful – both physically and emotionally.  But trash can build up – tripping us up – clouding our judgment – basically getting in the way of good intentions and robbing us of clear thinking.  Sometimes ‘trash’ is tangible and easy to identify – like that food we should not be eating – or that show on TV we should not be watching – but sometimes it is not tangible – but vague and ‘grey’.  People that are not healthy for us – or people who are negative and critical – those who don’t understand us – those that do not want to.  This can deplete us and handicap us – and bog us down in such a way – little by little – over time – seeping into our emotions – tearing us apart – one bad thought after another – building up in our minds and hearts – until we are sad and depressed and we don’t even know what happened – or how it started.

I know.  I’ve been there.  I’ve walked it.  I’ve survived it.  The small thinking and judgment of others speaking things into my life when I messed up – whom I gave no permission to.   Causing me to second guess myself and my good intentions – until I didn’t know who I was anymore – until it was those words that defined me and owned me and I almost believed  what was said to me must be true.  But it wasn’t.  And it never was.  Those words – those thoughts – all the emotions that came from others trying to own me – It’s called trash. And like all trash – it can be messy and stinky – and you have no choice after a while but to deal with it. And throw it out.  For good.

I want to challenge you today – make a clean sweep today.  Get right with God – if you haven’t done that.  Then rid yourself of the negative people and thoughts in your life – the extra things that bog you down.  And because God is the only one that can judge your heart and motives – and the things you do – you need to be okay with that and stop caring what others say or think about you.   In the end – it will only be you and God.  Get rid of some of the trash in your ‘house’ today – both physically and emotionally.  You may need to say goodbye to some things and people in your life that won’t be easy – in fact – it will hurt like crazy – for a while – then it will get better.  Go on a journey in your mind and heart of ‘moving on’ and take only the most important things with you – dump the rest – and then – leave it there.  You’ll be glad that you did.  I promise.

God Bless

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