Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘Psalms’ 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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A Safe Place

The "Safe Place" logo promoted by Na...

The “Safe Place” logo promoted by National Safe Place. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever been in someone’s presence and felt that you weren’t safe?  You had to weigh every word spoken, had to ignore the little ‘jabs’ of humor and eventually you found yourself either pushing back or shutting down?

Being and feeling safe is different for each of us.  And by safe, I mean something beyond just comfortable and easy.  It’s that intangible something that feels like you’ve come home and don’t have to watch everything that you say – you’re free to express without judgement, free to be yourself, free to confide, and be appreciated for your own uniqueness.

I saw a movie the other night on the life of Earnest Hemingway during the war years – and at one point in the movie he had to address a crowd of people.  He suffered terrible stage fright and when finally was able to speak to the crowd he told them, “I’m a writer – writers don’t have to speak out loud and address a crowd”  And in this very same way – we all relate in our own unique way.  Some of us are writers – some are good oral communicators – others are teachers some are shy computer geeks.  And each of us communicate in different ways to others.

Sometimes that mode of communication is misunderstood by others.  For me personally I have found that to be true.  Frustrating yes – but also disheartening.  I begin to hear people as they “joke” and “jab” about “those of us who are expressive” and “those of us who write feelings down” and I slowly begin to shut down.  It’s past the curiosity of just being different – it’s a smallness and intolerance that I find sad – and it’s in those people whom I do not feel safe.

Where is your safe place?  Do you relate to what I’m saying?  Do you have those whom you feel safe with?  Where you are able to express those words, written or spoken?  Where you feel understanding and acceptance for the way you are?  If you do – then you are blessed.

Don’t let anyone rob you of your unique voice.  God made you the way you are for a reason.  Years ago I had a pastor friend of ours tell me, “Cindy – don’t let anyone steal your joy”  This was after I got into trouble for being myself.  It was great advice and I still remember his words to this day.  Others have tried to mold and make me into what they think I should be.  But I am always frustrated when I am not free to be me and express myself in the way that is God-given.

Eventually though, someone – if not everyone will disappoint you at one time or another and even “rain on your parade”.  Where is your safe place then?

Psalm 18 says this:

1-2 I love you, God— you make me strong.
God is bedrock under my feet,
the castle in which I live,
my rescuing knight.
My God—the high crag
where I run for dear life,
hiding behind the boulders,
safe in the granite hideout.

3 I sing to God, the Praise-Lofty,
and find myself safe and saved.

I love this.  In God we find a safe place where we can hide out and feel loved.  He will always accept us and encourage us – help us to find our unique voice.

He breaks down the barriers that safeguard my heart

He encourages me to be me

He hangs on my every word

He offers His silent support

He makes me want to be better

He has time to love me right

To fill the emptiness

and loneliness

and promises unending joy

He restores that which has been lost

and those things I cannot let go

knowing me better than I know myself

He is my safe place.

 

God Bless

Shine On Us

This song is my very favorite from “Phillips, Craig and Dean”.  It’s been around for several years now – and I never get tired of its simple beauty.

Fearless (Phillips, Craig and Dean album)

Image via Wikipedia

When I think about “God’s Light” shining down on me – I am reminded of how very dark it is without any light, especially walking along at night with no street lights or moon.  And away from the city it seems even darker – pitch black and still.  But with a little light as dawn starts to break – everything suddenly appears as it is lit up and things you did not know were right there beside you – are suddenly seen.

So it is with “God’s Light” shining down on us personally – illuminating some very dark places in our heart – exposing them for what they are – so that we may live and be saved.

His Light, Grace and Love shining down on us – forever guiding the way – saving us from ourselves, freeing us from the darkness that threatens to drown us in troubled times.  And staying with us when those troubled times are dispelled by His great light.

I am forever grateful for this – the beauty and majesty of His Light.  

Have you experienced this in your own heart and life?  When was the last time you recognized His great Light shining down on you?

Psalm 4:6 says this:  Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.

The video I posted below uses ‘sky time lapse’ photography while the song is playing and lyrics are shown.  It is breathtaking and very emotional.  Hope you enjoy it!

God Bless

My Hiding Place…

hiding

Image by Susan NYC via Flickr

The following is an article I posted 2 years ago this monthI was still trying to make sense out of a situation that still makes no sense 2 years later – and at that time I was still thinking that it would.  Instead – 2 years later I now know that time isn’t always an accurate measurement of understanding – nor is it a rite of passage.  It is simply a journey we all must take – and what we do with the lessons along the way determines our joy or sorrow for the future.  If you are like me and have had setbacks in your life – or things happen that you did not fully understand – have ever questioned God or felt like you didn’t deserve things that transpired at the hand of another – then you will know what I felt like when I wrote this article.  My prayer is that it will bless and encourage your heart today. 
Have you ever felt like you needed a “Hiding Place”? 
What event in your past changed the way you look at life now?
 Habakkuk 3:19
The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.”
 
When I read the above scripture – I was moved.  I am a musician and have the heart and soul of an artist.  I am also told I am a “sanguine” deep and emotional – and while I can be the life of the party, I prefer being alone or being with a close friend – am very sentimental and easily wounded and sensitive.   I have always understood that I view the world a little differently than others do.  I am an “audio” learner – and even more – my friend John recently corrected me – I am a “kinesthetic” learner – which means I not only hear the music – but I get inside of it and breathe it in – and wrap it around me like a blanket and it becomes a part of me.
So the psalms and other scriptures about music and musicians really speak to me.  David was also a musician and I love the poetic way in which he writes – and many of the psalms were set to music back then – and even today we are still doing this.  There is something about the “artist” who is able to put the right spin on words to express and communicate a thought and paint a beautiful picture.  David really felt what he wrote and expressed – was deeply hurt, moved and lived life to the fullest.  I can appreciate his take on his journey through good and bad times – how he cried out to God and how sometimes he was just lost and didn’t know if God really heard – or cared.  I believe that even though he sometimes didn’t understand – he had a habit of going to God and pouring his heart out.  He knew where his safe “hiding place” was – away from the world of betrayal and hurt – away from his enemies who tried to destroy him – away from the prying eyes of those who would later come to judge him for his sin.
I have found a safe place in God’s presence – it is a place where I go to regain my sanity amidst a world gone mad – friends who are not friends anymore – and those who would judge my heart without knowing my heart.  And I find new purpose and resolve after being in this “hiding place” of mine.  And I find that I can make it after all.
Below is a beautiful music video based on a favorite Psalm of mine.  Enjoy – and allow God’s sweet spirit to penetrate into your secret “hiding place”  Allow Him to be that for you today.  He is trustworthy and dependable.  He will keep you safe.
God Bless

My Neti Pot

Ceramic neti pot; neti pots can also be made f...

Image via Wikipedia

Yes I use a Neti Pot.  It has been a life-saver with this bad cold that I developed this last week – after being run down, tired, off my normal schedule and yes – exposed to the virus from other students and parents because of the close quarters doing a theater production.  Cold’s usually stay clear away from me – and normally I am prepared for them – or rather, usually I have better defense against them coming.

When students come into my home each week I am ready for them with my anti-bacterial gel and I unapologetically squeeze some their hands and make them rub it in – it protects both them and me. This has kept me and my family safe from outside germs quite successfully for years – in fact I can’t even remember the last time I even had a head cold!

But that was before this last week’s production and MANY sick people all in the same place – breathing the same air.  And it is impractical to go around insisting on everyone using anti-bacterial gel on their hands – although I’m sure we could have posted a few students around the lobby with the gel in their hands – willing and able to squirt a little into each hand that came in.  But even then, it may have been too late.  Can’t you just see it?  “Here’s your program and a little squirt of gel so you won’t infect us – now enjoy the show!”

So with this cold I have been using my Neti Pot (a little pot of warm salt water) to flush out any and all clinging mucus from my nasal cavities – and prevent it from getting too happy up there and starting a sinus infection.

I’m almost sure that there is a practical application regarding Neti Pots – to flush out the bad, harmful or sinful inclinations that we all posses.  But I am at a loss.  And since one has to be pretty sick – and realize that they are sick to use one – the application might fall short anyway.

You see spiritually – the battle is with ourselves – understanding and admitting that we are unable, and inadequate to help ourselves.  We need the help of our Great Physician – the one who made us.  We need His help to purge us and go deep into the areas of our heart and soul – cleansing us from those things that linger and make us spiritually sick.

In Psalm 147:3 the psalmist says, “He makes the broken-hearted well and puts oil on their wounds”

So I guess you might say – He is our Neti Pot – and He offers a warm healing balm of oil over our soul – to all who are broken and sadweary and lostsick and dying.  Jesus is the only healing balm you need.

Do you feel lost?  Run down?  Weary and exhausted?  Rest in Him today and allow Him to pour out that oil of loving kindness and strength today.  His healing is permanent – it is for your sick soul – the part of you that lives forever and never dies. Won’t you have a little talk with Him today?

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

A Touch Of Fall

I took a walk today.  And I took my camera along – just in case.  I came upon a park close to our home – my favorite trees line the street.  I can always tell what season we are in when looking at those trees.

A little red leaf trickled down from a branch and on the sidewalk in front of me while I was walking by – and I thought to myself, ‘what a journey you have taken, my friend’.  Yet – undaunted – it fell to the ground.  That was his job – he had begun, sprouted, blossomed – turned a beautiful color and then broke loose and died.  No disguises – no hiding.  A leaf is just a leaf.

Are we like trees?  Can people tell by looking at us – what season we are in?  Can they tell who we are?  Do we show it on our faces – our posture – is it evident in the sound of our voice – do we give ourselves away?  Have we sprouted?  Blossomed?  Turned a beautiful color that is evident to all those around us?  Or do we hide – like some well seasoned actor with lines to learn – and a disguise that suits us?

William Shakespeare once wrote these words in his play, “As you like it”:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” — Jaques (Act II, Scene VII, lines 139-166)

Are we well rehearsed?  Do we ever give our true selves away?  Are we merely great actors – destined to hide behind a mask – or the internet so that no one really knows us – or confronts us?  Or are we willing to let people in – and really see us?

Are we graceful and strong down to our roots – even in the ‘fall’ and ‘winter’ of our lives.  Are we unmoved by changes that come and go?  Are we most beautiful when we have gone through much pain and endurance – as we surrender to the ‘winter’?  I believe that much beauty is produced in our lives during those tough times – when we have been stripped bare of any pride – when the ‘real us’ emerges.  I myself have struggled in this area – resisting with everything in me.  Wanting to run and hide when hurt comes and threatens to swallow me – wanting to ‘fake it’ and paint on a sunny smile – hoping to fool those around me.  But I also believe spring always comes – I believe that God allows me to go through seasons – I believe that He protects me down to my roots – shaping me and giving life from the inside out. Even when it is most uncomfortable and inconvenient.

Psalms 1 says this:

1 Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

What kind of tree are you?  One that will blow away with the wind – not deep enough to withstand pain, hurt, stress, disappointment and failure?  Or are you one who is deeply rooted – clinging to life and embracing the different seasons as an opportunity for growth and depth?  I pray you are the later – and that you will find your strength and courage in God to lead your through and bring the beauty out in your life today.

God Bless

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