Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘LifePoint Church’ Category

Secret Sin

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.   1 John 1:8-10

Our pastor spoke on the subject of the 10th commandment in his message last Sunday.  This commandment deals with the secret sin of “coveting”.  And while it sounds like nothing in light of the other big ones on the list – it is the one in which we can hide, push aside and even deny – making it the most dangerous one of all.

What exactly is coveting? And why is it so dangerous?  Coveting in it’s most basic form is this:  wanting something I don’t have. And in this last commandment that God gave to His people – He spelled it out for them – telling them not to want things that belong to their neighbor, their house, their wife or anything else that belongs to them.  Sounds simple right?  But it is not that simple.

Coveting goes beyond the above commandment.  It deals with the heart. It is all about the secret desires and motives –  known only by God.

Scripture has much to say about the heart. We’re told to “guard it” and that it is the “well-spring of life”.  And we truly believe it.  Until…there is something that we just can’t shake – a past relationship that won’t let us go – or a memory of better days – seeing someone or something that we would like to have for ourselves.  And we thing – “who are we hurting – no one knows”.  But God does.

Our pastor said that we can appear like we have it all together on the outside – we don’t murder, steal, commit adultery – you know the “BIG ONES” on the list.  We come to church and seem to have it all together.  In fact we’re so good that people are actually envious of us!  But this in itself can be a trap.  Sometimes those that look the part – are actually struggling with the most secret sin of their own.

But on the flip side of that – we can become “self-righteous” and “judgmental” when we are not as bad as all those other “sinners” out there.  Holding on to our private “secrets” but looking great on the outside.  It was those people who Jesus had to deal with most in His short 3 years on earth.  The ones that pointed their fingers at others – deflecting blame off of themselves – and the ones who did not acknowledge that they had a problem to begin with – and were just as guilty as the murderers, thieves and adulterers.  Jesus confronted this issue – knowing they all were good Jews and knew the commandments well – got right to the heart of the matter and said,

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  Matthew 5:28

I imagine that this kind of radical thinking caused quite a stir.  After all – good Jewish men kept all the commandment to the letter of the law.  This one was uncomfortable and made them squirm.  Why?  Because their heart was wicked and far from repentance – far from God.

We are no different.  Sin is still sin.  Done out in the open – or in the secret places of our heart.  When we sin in a secret way – we are saying that we don’t need a Savior – that we can handle it on our own merit – that because everyone thinks we are good, pure, honest and without sin – that will be enough for God.  It isn’t.  He still knows.  Whether it’s an addiction problem, a lust problem or an unrepentant heart – it’s all the same to God.  Pride and stubbornness are the worst ones – because they tell us a lie – that we are alright without a Savior.

At the heart of our secret sin issue – is Jesus. He patiently waits for us to come to Him and to confess it.  He comes to not just forgive us when we blow it – but to fix us permanently and heal our disease. He heals us from the inside out – taking away the sin and any desire or residue that it leaves.  The sin that will ultimately lead to our destruction – little by little, bit by bit.

How many good moral people are out there?  That sit in our churches?  That have un-confessed sin in their lives?  That are so good in fact – they have no need for a Savior? Don’t be one of those – He is waiting for you today. When Jesus touches your life – you won’t be the same – the change will be permanent – done from the inside out. Something that good moral living alone cannot achieve.  We all have a sin problem – that is why He came.  To do a work that we ourselves cannot do.  Conquer sin in our lives for good – and change us, healing our disease of self-righteousness and pride.

When you get right down to the heart of the matter – Jesus came to save us from ourselves – our sinful tendencies and gave us a better way to live – healing us from the inside out.

Do you have secret sin hiding deep down in your heart that you believe is well hidden – even from God?  When you admit it to Him – He will not condemn you – but forgive you and heal you – giving you a new purpose and a new way to live.  That’s a promise.

God Bless

 

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Seasons Of Love

Cover of "A Season of Love (Picture Psalm...

Cover of A Season of Love (Picture Psalms)

God created love. Love is a divine attribute, or characteristic, of God. The essence of God’s nature, and of a godly nature, is love. Love is more than a feeling. The love of God is a way of being.        1 John 4:7


I’m loving this season that I am in.

Greg and I are building relationships with people in our small church and our small group  in particular.  How wonderful it is to discover what happens when people find themselves colliding on a  journey – and you link arms and say, “Let’s do life together”  It is what the church is all about.  People.  Relationships.  Love.  And so we have in fact ‘linked arms’ and meet together to discuss our pastor’s messages from the Sunday morning before.  It is a refreshing and sweet time.  A season of love.

I am also discovering new blogging buddies and finding words of encouragement and camaraderie from people who have been through similar situations along this journey that I am on – and it’s a wonderful ‘God thing’ that they have been placed in my path.  Their transparency and honest approach to past failure and situations in the church – puts me to shame – as I feel I have had to be careful what I say and what I reveal, even though I too have tried to express my heart clearly and without apology.  These individuals have been a daily encouragement to me and through this wonderful gift of writing – we are discovering that we are not alone – and that God has wonderfully brought us together to share, relate and validate.  It is a season of love.

And then there are the things that are not so well – a family situation that can have no happy ending.  But again – it is an opportunity to see just how God is going to work on our behalf – working behind the scenes to bring about restoration, reconciliation and forgiveness.  He is big on all three of these – and it is exciting to know that He will always be a God that draws us to His very heart – a heart of grace and mercy.  He is always interested in our heart when we deal with difficult situations – and so even in difficult situations – we attempt to keep things right in our own hearts – and not allow bitterness or pride to hinder us from seeing the truth – and we pray that for others as well.  It is an opportunity for God to truly speak and an opportunity to build character and integrity.  It is a remarkable season of love.

I am praying for each one of my readers today – that you will allow whatever situation you find yourself in right now – to be an opportunity for that ‘season of love’ in your own life.  May the love of Jesus be your focal point as you look out on the things that are happening all around you.  And as you focus on that love – I pray something will happen in your own heart and life – a change from within.  May it give you clear perspective as you love others in your world that desperately need it today.

Below is the song from the musical “Rent” – great song about love.  This link will take you to another screen.  Click on ‘view on youtube’ to see and hear the song.  It’s a great one!

Enjoy and God Bless

Doing Life

Secret moments

Today was spent with our amazing small group from our church watching the Super Bowl together and eating amazing food!  All of us in this LifeGroup are  very different people from different life experiences and situations but we  are all on a similar life journey.  It is humbling to know that we may never have met if it had not been for a series of events that brought each of us to this place and time – right here – right now.  I’m in awe of God’s timing and placement of good strong people who will here for me in support and encouragement – as we all learn and grow together in this season of life.

As I look around at these people who are now ‘doing life’ with me – sharing stories, laughter and jokes – it is that ‘oneness’ that we all feel and that will hold us together. – through the good easy times – and through the not so easy times.  And we’re finding new surprises as we discover that we have more in common with these people than we ever thought we did.

Here’s to growing together – becoming more transparent, authentic with each other and in our walk with God – As we allow each other and God to sharpen us – and grow us up – to become more like Him.  That’s what life is all about.  Loving God and loving each other.

Below is one of my favorite songs originally sung by the Moody Blues in the 70’s – and David Lanz has made a beautiful piano solo which I just LOVE!  Enjoy!

 

God Bless

 

Fragile Like A Tree

Redwood grove on north flank of Sonoma Mountai...

Image via Wikipedia

Our pastor used a great illustration several months ago.   He told about the redwood trees found in Northern California.  Greg and I know all about the redwoods because this is  where Greg and I pastored a small church for 3 1/2 years in the early 90’s.

Redwood trees are the largest trees in the world.  So large that you can drive a car through them – and in fact there is a tree with a hole cut out of it where a car COULD drive through – we’ve been there to see it.  But something very strange about these trees – their roots are actually very shallow – only a couple of meters deep. You would think that for trees this size – the root system would wind down for hundreds of feet and they would be very strong and invincible.  But they are not.  They are very vulnerable by themselves.  Their real strength comes from the other trees.   They act as a barrier and protection when close together.

We have much to learn from these massive beautiful trees.  They appear so strong and stable.  But they have a weakness.  And like the trees, so do we.  We cannot stand alone.  Oh I guess we CAN – but we SHOULD not.  We need each other.  We are fragile – like these trees.

Who are you close to?  Do you have anyone in your life that acts as a barrier and protection?  Who has your back?

We started a small group in our home with other like-minded and fragile people.  As we share our stories of joy and pain – it is good to know that we were never meant to do life alone.  We need each other.  I need support and help from my brothers and sisters – those who can share my everyday battles, opportunities and  circumstances – but who also have my back when life goes sideways – giving support and holding me close,  offering assistance and encouragement to keep me from giving up – or from falling over – like a tree.

I’m thankful for the people who God has placed in my life and along my journey to help to encourage me, lift me up and be there to protect and love me – when I mess up, get it wrong and need a little extra grace.  My friends – the trees in my life.

God Bless

10 Important Things I Learned This Year

1. Let go of the past – It does NOT define me – there’s so much in the present to be thankful for and concentrate on.  This includes people and circumstances I can’t change.

2. Friendships cannot be forced – if you have to try to convince someone they should be your friend – or continually be the only one reaching out – then these people are not your friends – pray for them – but let them go.  True friendship should not be hard work – it is a meeting of the minds and a ‘heart’ connection.  Comfortable like an old pair of slippers.

3. Surprises in life happen when and where you least expect them – my husband and I started attending a ‘church plant’ of about 50 members last fall and have found ourselves in a new season with new ministry opportunities – and new relationships – something we never thought would happen.

4. Making a stand for things that are right can make you very unpopular with friends and family – but we do it anyway.

5. Sometimes painful things can resurface – it’s okay to cry, hit something (or someone) jump up and down or SCREAM!!  Just don’t stay there long.  Get up and don’t allow yourself or others to do that to you again.  Ever.

6. Make your relationships a high priority – marriage can be hard work – but it’s worth fighting for.  Don’t allow it to become stale and boring.  DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!  Fall in love with your spouse all over again – it can be done – just ask me!!

7 . Find an outlet for your creativity – I’m a musician first – a writer second.  I know that I have to do both of these activities in order to feel healthy and ‘get it out’.  Find something you are passionate about and DO IT.

8.  Invest in people – even if you have been burned by doing this in the past – by even one other person – don’t give up on investing in them.  We need other people and they NEED us!

9.  Give advice only when it is asked – and even if it is asked – keep it short and to the point with A LOT of love and graciousness.

10. Treat others like you would like to be treated – It sounds good on paper but it does not always translate well when applying it to those in your life.  Always say to yourself, ‘would I like to be on the receiving end of this email, phone call or conversation?’  If not – then don’t write or say it.

 

This is just a glimpse into some of the things I learned this past year as I continue on my journey.  I hope you are doing the same!

 

God Bless

 

Are You Happy?

The Sermon of the Beatitudes (1886-96) by Jame...

Image via Wikipedia

Heard another great message from our pastor, Stephen Collins yesterday morning.  He has begun a series on “The Beatitudes”.  This question was asked:

Are you happy?  Is this really what you want?  Will that alone satisfy you long-term?  When feelings change and emotions are fickle?

The most profound statement came in the middle of the message.  ‘When we settle for just being happy – we aim too low’ – missing out on God’s blessing in our lives’. Sometimes, God doesn’t want us to be happy.  Sometimes there are lessons in the ‘gift’ of pain and hardship in our lives.  The most significant changes in our heart and character come when life is not ‘happy’ – but dark and sad.

For me – I know this is a true statement – and sums up just what I have learned and lived through over the past 2 years – as I grew and discovered God’s ‘gift’ of hard times, both personally, in my relationships  and spiritually.

If we accept the ‘gift’ in the way it is intended – then God can do His greatest work in us – bringing us more than just ‘happiness’ – but a blessed and meaningful life And sometimes what may feel like the end of the world – may only be the beginning of a great and rewarding life.

Are you happy?  Is that what you really want?  Or do you want more?  Do you want God’s rich blessing poured out in your life.  I know I do.  I want to reap the reward of choosing to do the right thing – when doing that goes against everything I may be feeling.  It means doing right by people and relationships – and being the right person. Living by character and integrity – rather than emotions.  And when I do stray away and don’t choose what is right – at least initially – then knowing how to get back on the right path – hard as it is – to reconcile and fix it – and keep my heart open.

I am more than happy.  I am blessed. I understand this now – but it took a couple of hard lessons to really believe it.  I’m blessed with a wonderful family, a man who loves me with everything that he is –  and friendships that mean everything to me.  What I lost – God has richly replaced – and has taught me a great many lessons in the process.  Things I could not have learned – just by following my heart and emotions because I ‘wanted to be happy’.  When we see life as a journey – and know that there is a much bigger picture than just personal happiness – we will not want to aim so low.

Are you happy?  Are you wishing for more than that?  I invite you to share in some hard times – and think of them as a ‘gift’ – an added blessing to enhance your character and integrity.  I wish you more than happiness, my friend.  I wish you a life of blessing and purpose – a holy calling in which you give up ‘personal happiness’ for something richer and deeper.  To see people the way that God sees them.  To understand there is a lost world out there – and your unique gifts have placed you right where you are – to influence those that He has entrusted to you.  Use them today.

Be more than just ‘happy’ – be blessed and be a blessing to those in your life.

 

God Bless

Fear Of Failure

Thoroughbred racing at Churchill Downs.

Image via Wikipedia

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

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