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Archive for the ‘Psalm’ Category

As The Deer

picture of deer

picture of deer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We sang this song this morning in church written by Martin Nystrom based on Psalm 42.  Most of us are familiar with the first verse. The thirsty deer panting for water, and in our mind we see it – the deer finding a cool stream and lapping up water in the same way a puppy does, with reckless abandon because they are thirsty.  It is with this same abandon and longing that the writer of this favorite Psalm is saying that he too – longs and is actually thirsty for – God.  And then the chorus – “You alone are my strength and shield to you alone may my spirit yield – you alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship thee”.  Beautiful.

But most of us are not as familiar with the other verses.  They paint a picture of friendship with God – even though He is also a King.  Friendship with the King of the Universe – it is mind-staggering.  Imagine this:

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of ...

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Coronation portrait, June 1953, London, England. Credit: Library and Archives Canada/K-0000047 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You live in England and somehow “run into”  Prince Phillip and Queen Elizabeth.  You strike up a conversation and find out that you have many things in common.  You make arrangements to get together on a more personal level – perhaps a little dinner at Buckingham palace – a midnight stroll around the grounds and an overnight stay followed up by breakfast served to your suite and then some more quality time together for the rest of the day.  How can this happen, you say?  Because you are now ‘a friend’ of the royal couple.  How much more special this is when considering who we are – and who God is.  He is far superior to any Royalty set up here on earth.  Far more powerful, has all the wealth, all the status and chooses us to have as friends.

But the third verse talks about the most beautiful picture of all.  Something near and dear to our heart – known as “the apple of my eye”.

It's the same Apple logo, but in gold.

It’s the same Apple logo, but in gold. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Think about that one person that is so special – so important, you would do anything for them – move heaven and earth to be with them, you love them with all your heart and soul.  Maybe it’s a child, spouse of friend.  Maybe it’s something you’ve invested in like a job or a personal possession.  Maybe it’s an animal that is like family to you.  Whatever it is – you love with everything you have.  The picture is this:  No matter how important these things and people and even pets are to us – they are only temporal.  People make mistakes, they hurt us and let us down.  We lose possessions through fire, theft and age.  Animals and people die.  And at the end of the day – they do not satisfy us in the way we were designed.   God is eternal, does not fail us – will never let us down like others do.  He is the only one who can satisfy the deep longing and aching in our soul because He designed us this way – a perfect hole in our soul where only He fits perfectly.

Other things may satisfy temporarily like money, gold and silver, but the real joy and satisfaction come from God alone – He is the real joy giver – and the ‘apple of my eye’.

This was such a wonderful picture as I sat in worship service this morning beside all my wonderful new friends.  As you reflect on the words of this great song I am hoping that you too will be moved by the words.  That you will pause and really consider what they are saying to you.

 

God Bless

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after thee
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship thee

Chorus
You alone are my strength my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship thee

You’re my friend and You are my brother,
Even though you are a king.
I love you more thank any other,
So much more than anything.

I want You more than gold or silver,
Only You can satisfy.
You alone are the real joy Giver,
And the apple of my eye.

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How’s Your Garden?

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring
whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 58:11

This is our garden in our new home.

Ever felt really dry?  I’m so glad to know this:  No matter how dry, sick, diseased, tired, hopeless and out of strength I may be today – He will water me and give me the strength, nourishment and life so that I will flourish.  When all others around me are dry and broken – I will be sustained by that living water to keep me going, bringing health to my bones – and hope for all others around me looking for that water.  It is a spring that never fails.

How’s your garden?  Need some water?

Praying for you today.

God Bless

Are You Vulnerable?

Vector image of two human figures with hands i...

Image via Wikipedia

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23

Our pastor spoke on the seventh commandment this last Sunday.  And then we discussed it last night in our small group.

This is a difficult subject to address – especially in a society where the rate of divorce is about 50% – which means 1 out of every 2 marriages will fail – if left untreated.

We seem to be a society that doesn’t care to address the issue of adultery – especially in the church.  We know that people fail – even high-profile ministers and staff members.  They were not guarding their heart – or protecting their “blind spot”.  But why it happens in the first place – is quickly swept under the rug.  We seem quick to want to usher them into counseling and not want an embarrassment for the church in any way. The church seems ill-equipped to handle the growing problem of adultery and just why it happens so much.   The epidemic seems to be no respecter of persons. Women fall into this almost as much as men do – and for very different reasons.

It is so simple to quote scriptures and to think we have guarded our hearts – before we’re married – or even when we are married – but  this “secret sin” is a heart problem and not a quick fix.  And it has been a problem since the beginning of time when sin entered the world.

We have many friends in our circle who have either found themselves a victim of a spouse having an affair and leaving – or committed this themselves and are now in another relationship and marriage.  It is easy to pass judgment and even try to “play God” with them – thinking that because nothing has happened like that to us – we are somehow superior.  I grow up thinking that someone falling into a moral temptation or failure was somehow very weak spiritually – wasn’t reading their Bible or praying everyday.  Now I know that although these spiritual disciplines are good for us – it does not guarantee our safety.  And I don’t think being weak spiritually is the problem – nor do I think it is the work of Satan – although he certainly is in the business of destroying lives.

I believe it is a heart issue.  The Bible says that our heart is “deceitfully wicked”  in other words – we are self-centered to the core and want our own way!  We wrestle with our own selfish motives in about every aspect of our lives.  The flesh DOES NOT like to be told “NO”!  It takes that renewing of the mind that David talks about in the Psalms in order for us to resist temptation – and even then, temptation is very strong.

We also have to realize that some have been a recipient of a failed marriage – or a moral failure of some kind.   And sometimes even though someone has failed in a marriage – is truly remorseful and wanting to begin again – the spouse will not reconcile. We have a way of holding these victims of un-forgiveness as “prisoners” – thinking that somehow we need to make them pay!  Like it’s our job or something.  Lord help us!  Let’s be compassionate – none of us is above temptation.  We might be one that fails in some way – let’s treat others with love and mercy – we may need it someday!

I believe we need better education in marriages – and an understanding of what things are likely to happen – if we are not guarded.

It is easy to take your spouse for granted.  We’ve all heard the cliché’s “He doesn’t see me anymore” or “She doesn’t appreciate me” – and soon a very magical thing happens – someone else does. It is easy to let this happen.  Usually it is not a IN YOUR FACE kind of moment with someone else.  No.  It’s very subtle and starts out very innocently.  It’s usually a trusted friend – or someone you work with and spend a lot of time with.  It’s usually a heart connection – you find that this person makes you feel good about yourself again.  This person makes you laugh and makes you feel young.  There is usually a moment when something changes in the relationship – you sense something is different and you find yourself being drawn to them and wanting to spend more time with them – even getting defensive and protective about them – and you find you’ve crossed the line into the emotions and the heart.  You care about them.  Really care.

At this point you have a choice.  You can continue – or you can turn away.  Hard as that may be.  Now here’s the dicey part of the equation:  Sometimes there isn’t a firm foundation in your already struggling marriage relationship – and there is nothing to go back to. That isn’t always the case – but for the majority of cases – I think it is.  Most people don’t stray from their marriage unless something is seriously lacking in their own. This is not an excuse – simply reality.

So adultery happens because it is a choice – and seems like the better alternative in comparison to what is not waiting for them at home.  Those that have found themselves in the throes of this emotional decision usually weigh the good and the bad – and in the end – knowing it will cause all sorts of personal and emotional problems – they do it anyway. You pass the point of no return.

I’m not making excuses for them – and after some soul-searching  when the bottom drops out for these people – neither are they. They know very well what they have done.  It is against the natural order that God has set up – as protection for our heart and lives.  And they know that.  Ask anyone who has failed in this area – even emotionally and they will tell you it is a horrible pain that you never recover from – the guilt, remorse, pain of losing friends and family – even children because of their decision is a terrible thing and worse punishment than any man could inflict on them.

God does forgive – that’s the good news.  No one is safe from sin.  We are all capable of making really bad choices in life – and then having to live with them – even after God has forgiven us. Look at the life of King David.  He was a “man after God’s own heart” and yet he was an adulterer, a liar and a murderer.   He repented and God forgave him – but there were still consequences to his actions – and they followed him the rest of his life.

How can we help those who have failed in this area?  Don’t shun them and treat them like they are criminals.  If they have repented before God – then who are we to judge them?  Love them and welcome them back with open arms – being kind and gracious just like Jesus is toward you when you blow it.

How can we guard our marriage?  I believe it starts with our own heart.  I believe it takes a big person to take full responsibility for his or her own actions – and not blame others for mistakes.  If you are a compassionate person who likes to reach out and help others – be wise as you listen and also as you share yourself.  Know where your weak areas are.  Do you like to help hurting people?  Does it make you feel good when they seem to respond positively to your encouragement and attention?  Are you drawn to people who are flatterers?  Do you like to be around people who make you feel good about yourself?  Especially the opposite sex?  Do you like to live close to the edge?  Careful – many a person has been burned by casually flirting with someone and opening up an area of their heart.

Be accountable to other people who you trust in your life. We have a small group that meets every week in our home – and we have pledged to be accountable to these people.  It was in my closing prayer last night that we would know for sure – that when we find ourselves in trouble – that these people will have our back and be a support and help to us during a time of temptation.

We also need to cultivate an emotional connection with our spouse.  So many times the man will think if his physical needs are being met – he doesn’t have to connect with his wife.  Wrong.  Women connect with their emotions and their hearts. They need someone who values them and meets those needs before she can bond and connect with him physically.  And as I learned in our small group last night – both men and women are capable of “withholding” as a means of control.

Women need to be smart when it comes to your husband.  If you do not give him that attention he needs – both emotionally and physically – he will be vulnerable and open to flattery and connection with someone else. And Men – you need to be smart too – if she isn’t connecting with you – someone else will be glad to step in and connect with her.  Don’t let that happen. Romance her and take care of her emotional needs.  Don’t be naive – things don’t just happen. A good marriage is no exception.  A marriage will go through many different seasons – if you are not willing to change and adapt – it is just not simply enough to say – “We made a promise many years ago”.  That promise can be broken by as simple a thing as neglect.  I’ve seen it happen many, many, MANY times over the years.

Find a way to connect with your spouse today – cultivate romance, caring, understanding and friendship in your relationship.  Put all your energies into making your marriage better – and if you have failed in this area and find yourself in a new relationship due to circumstances either out of your control – or because of your own choices – guard your already fragile  heart. Cultivate boundaries and protection around your heart – and begin again with your spouse in forgiveness.

God Bless

A Modern Psalm… (via Cindy Holman’s Blog)

Written last year at this time – this Psalm is still applicable for me today. Enjoy!

I am here – waiting.

Lord I know you hear me.

Many times I cry out to you

I’ve seen your provision

I’ve seen You

I’ve seen people come and go in my life

Things you’ve allowed to touch me

Joy and happiness

Painful things that brought me to my knees

You’ve been there

You’re always there

How long Oh Lord?

How long is my mind confused?

And lost in this madness?

Come and surround me with your presence

So I can feel you

Breathe you in

And know That you a … Read More

via Cindy Holman’s Blog

The Stingy Psalm

Lord

I will Bless Your Name

Because you are worthy of the praise

Not because I feel like it

Not even because I am worthy to praise you

No

I will do it because You are far above me

You see things differently than me

I am limited

You are not

I see today – and the past behind me

You see all of it at once

the past – the present – the future

And you are unmoved

Unchanged by time

I feel

I cry

I react

I digress

I stumble

I fail

I need

I need

I need

 

But you are unchanged

You are

You are still the same

You require all of me

all the time

 

And so I pick myself up

I resist

I am compelled

I am convicted

I offer up

a sacrifice of praise

even when I don’t feel like it

even when things are not well in my world

especially then

because you are Holy

You are deserving

always

No matter what

You are

and I will praise You

 

Help me Lord to praise You – even when I don’t feel like it – because it is the right thing to do – help me to say – “whatever it takes” – knowing this is a scary prayer to pray.  Help me to always live in constant praise, knowing that true joy and peace come by offering that sacrifice of praise.  Help me let go of myself – and just see You.  Help me to trust you with my whole life – every aspect – every feeling and emotion – every action – every motive.  For in letting go – that is where I truly find You waiting for me….

Learning to Pray….

The Psalms are the cemetary in which our Lord the Spirit leads us to get out of ourselves, to rescue our prayers from self-absorption and set us on the way to God-responsiveness…. The Psalms are the school for people learning to pray. -Eugene Peterson.

Lord – bring me to a place

a place of quiet

and understanding

far beyond my worries and cares

beyond the noise and confusion

beyond my own hurt and pain

To a place of rest

to a place of Praise and Adoration

for just who you are

Not for what you will do for me

not for what I may get out of it

But just to know you

To fellowship with you

to visit your thoughts

to see your vision

to touch the things that touch you

to find the pleasure of your ways

and your purpose

To feel your love

to absorb your message

to ponder the deep sensitive nature of your heart

to finally understand my mission

is your mission

to LOVE people

to seek and save those that are far from you

to know your heartbeat

and finally understand – why I cry

why I hurt

why I grieve

why I continue to reach

It is You

reaching out through me

always pursuing

always striving

always longing

for that day

Help me to be your eyes

your ears

your feelings

your arms reached out in love

your acceptance

your Love

Love until it Hurts…And Sometimes it Will…

“I have found the paradox – If I love until it hurts – then there is no hurt – but only more love.” Mother Teresa

This is my favorite quote.  Mother Teresa – modern day hero – living in an in-hospital situation – in Calcutta, India – working with the orphans and the homeless and unlovely – amidst adversity and poverty.  She considered it an honor to serve her Lord and to love people.

I have never been called to foreign missions – but have served for over 25 years beside my husband in ministry.  Not all of those years were good – many of them were under extreme circumstances – working with judgemental, narrow minded and unloving people.  This is the human condition – and is universal – no matter what line of work you are in – ministry or not.  People are still people.  People still have hurts and needs. But we have also found that people can be generous and kind – full of love, embracing without question.  We have seen both sides over the years.

What is the difference in the two groups of people?  They latter group does not hold on to hurt and pain – they have decided to love, no matter what the personal risk – have made a choice to forgive others freely – and they have found freedom.

Many things can bring you down and steal your joy – if you let it.

Weeping may endure for a night,

but Joy Comes in The Morning.

Psalm 30:5

Weep for awhile – we all need to do this at times in our life.  Grieve and mourn – there is a time for it.  But when that time is over we need to pull ourselves up and make a choice to be joyful. Pain should only be a place we “visit” – we should NEVER live there permanently.  Is this easy?  Are you kidding?  That’s why there are so many people hurting and in pain – so many counselors and psychiatrists – so many drug addicts and alcoholics – and so many suicides.

Somehow – with God’s help – we CAN be victorious – it is HIS strength through me that allows me to do this.  We cannot do it alone.  And we NEED each other – people and friends in our lives who gently love us and help us through.

We are called as Christians to love. No matter what.  Yes – love even until it hurts – and what I mean by that is  – sometimes it WILL hurt.  Who does it hurt?  It hurts me.  And we don’t like to hurt.  So we pull in to our “protective” shell – so that no one can hurt us.  But we cannot do this – if we are following the example of Christ in our lives.

I challenge you today – coming from one who knows just what I speak of – that you CAN rise above the pain and hurt in your life.  Not by yourself – but with God’s help – as we allow his presence in our lives.  As we submit to Him – give up our own agenda – and give in to what He wants for our lives.  It’s not easy and takes a daily – sometimes hourly commitment to get our thoughts and motives in line with what He has for us.

With this comes GREAT JOY!  And a wonderful peace that washes over you.

Love someone today until it hurts – be that example of God’s great love in their life today – what you will find instead of hurt – is just more love.

I am praying for you today,

God Bless


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