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The Testament

Cover of "The Testament (John Grisham)"

Cover of The Testament (John Grisham)

Greg and I have been reading “The Testament” by John Grisham together – out loud, a few chapters a night before turning in.  This is my favorite book by Grisham – and one that I have recommended to other people over the years because of the strong redemption and salvation message in it.

It is a story of a very wealthy man who takes his own life – but before he does he signs a  handwritten will leaving his entire estate to an illegitimate daughter – a missionary deep in the jungle of Brazil.  But as much as the wealth and power of this one man gets much attention in the early chapters of the book – it is really a story about the journey of the troubled and complicated lawyer, Nate – who is the one appointed to find and share the news of the inheritance and who takes a journey to Brazil to find her.  It is about his life and what happens to him after encountering her, a simple missionary who has no regard for money.  In fact she refuses to have anything to do with what she has inherited, which would make her the richest woman in the world.  Her attitude about money so changes him – that his life is never quite the same.  He see his life in a different way after being with her – and he finally finds God in a simple but powerful way.

We have been reading it – and pondering after each chapter.  What if someone left us 11 billion dollars?  Would it change us?  How?  In her case wouldn’t she be able to buy more medical supplies – or even build a clinic – a hospital or something greater to help the Indian people?  How about a school – or several?  How about churches or universities?  A boat for traveling around on the many rivers in that remote area?  It is staggering to think how much you could buy with unlimited resources like that.

But then, we were forced to ponder her ‘take’ on the situation.  How she heard what was left to her – considered it – and then refused it.  She had no relationship with her wealthy father – never knew him in fact.  I believe she thought that money corrupts – in much the way it had her half brothers and sisters she had read about – and how it brought no peace and happiness in the end for her father.

I believe that it is refreshing to hear that not everyone finds the same value in wealth or position in this world.  That living simply – finding real lasting peace and joy from fulfilling a calling that burns deep inside is really the only way to live.  This woman had nothing but the clothes on her back – a tiny shack to live in and limited medical supplies – but she had something that very few people have.  She had peace, a purpose and a deep and sincere love for people in Brazil.  And that was all she wanted or needed.  Her faith in God sustained her and it was enough.

It is inspiring to read a story like this – and to recognize and honor those who have left behind a life of many comforts – and many stresses to follow a calling that burns within – with no regard to personal financial freedom and normal comforts.  And we know MANY people who have followed where God has led them around the world and even here at home to do the same.  These chosen people have found real joy and peace in following what is so real to them – it is the driving force of their life – and those that encounter them and their life of sacrifice are never the same.

As we all strive to find out our ultimate calling and purpose that God has for us – may be do it with humility of spirit – never being lured by the thought of financial gain or personal comfort.  Our prayer needs to be:  “Lord, I pray that those that come across my path will forever be changed – because when they see me – I want them to see you, because when they really see you – they will never be the same” Amen

God Bless

 

God Bless

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HOLY SPIRIT - FOIX

Image via Wikipedia

I have a heaviness in my spirit today.  I usually do not add a preface to my articles – but today I really feel that this is for somebody out there.  Someone who has felt condemnation and judgment from others.  I trust that this will help you today – this is for you.

I’ve always been fascinated by reactions of people when given a certain situation to navigate through.

Everyone responds differently.  It is not wrong to respond differently – it is just that we can’t all be put into a ‘box’ and be expected to look at things in the same way. Although – that is exactly what we do.  Expect people to look at things the right way – our way.

My husband used to use an illustration in some of his messages.  He would talk to Christian people and explain how the Holy Spirit can cause a reaction in our lives much like someone touching a live wire.  Here are a few ways people may respond:

1.  Jumping up and down, screaming and shouting and holding onto their hand that was hurt.

2.  Some might feel something but then deny they even felt it.

3.  Others may feel a tingle and say ‘ouch’.

In the same way when something  touches our life – especially the negative painful things – we have a few different ways to react to it:

1.  We jump around, scream and shout and coddle our hurt heart.

2.  We say, ‘You hurt me ‘  And never move on.

3. We say, ‘ouch’ – and move on – and never  touch that painful thing again.

I’ve seen this – and I’ve lived it. Even after doing everything to ‘bare my soul’ so to speak – and to do the right thing after something negative – sometimes the reaction from another person is still  negative. There are always going to be those in life that choose to see others in a negative light – even when we are all fallen, sinful creatures – and can hardly hope to redeem ourselves by casting the first stone. I suppose people do this because it makes them feel better – but I’ve never understood it.

And I am well aware that people see things and events differently too.  And like the above  – they are as varied in reaction as the people who react.  There have been those people in my own life who are quick to point fingers at me and tell me how sinful, terrible and unrepentant I am.  Never knowing the hard long journey that I have taken in efforts to keep my own heart right before God.  And the long soul-searching spent in much prayer asking God’s forgiveness and direction.  I’m sure we all have people like that in our lives.  I sure have in mine.  Those who would try to muzzle me from telling things in my own words – or those that even have the audacity to tell me how I feel – and more horrible than that – not only how I feel (or felt) – but they love to paint and dark and scary picture of what could have happened – based on nothing but speculation and supposition.  It’s insane – and only God has the inside track to who I am – what I’m thinking and just what my motives are for thinking or doing them.  Again these are reactions to their own pain, hurt, confusion and frustration.  And I can only pray for them and feel sorry.

My husband knows more than anybody how I have wrestled with criticism – founded and unfounded by those who at one time were my friends.  And how I have done the long hard work of keeping my heart clean from resentment from those who would still judge me without really knowing me and try to hold me hostage for my past mistakes.  I am guilty as charged.  I’m graciously forgiven by my Lord and Saviour.   I have had to be broken before God to make sure that everything is right inside of me.  And I learned something.  Even when you do this – even when everything is forgiven and covered by God – there are those that still will not believe it. And never will.  Therefore the only reaction that I really care about is God’s reaction to me –  and God’s alone.

There is such amazing freedom in this – He loves me.  He forgives my many mistakes.  He has covered all the sin in my life as He promises to do.  He is gracious and full of mercy – and does not react in a bad way – making me pay somehow.  Nor does he remind me of the past – and just how sinful and terrible I am.  I am then free to love you – with no apprehension – with no hidden agenda – just pure motive of wanting a right relationship – insomuch as is in my power to do so.

And those that continue to react badly – those are the people you feel sorry for – assign them an ‘outer orbit’ and you cut them loose – hoping and praying that others will be kinder to them – then they have shown kindness.  And that they will someday learn that it’s just not worth it to point the finger of blame.  And much better to just let it go and forgive – especially themselves.

I am praying for you

God Bless

What Are Your Chains?

The following is an excerpt from my daily devotional:

It has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ (Philippians 1:13).

Joni Erickson Tada is, in a sense, in chains for Christ. One day she was a carefree teenager, the next she was imprisoned in a quadriplegic body due to a diving accident. Yet her chains not only encouraged others but also increased her faith as she grew into more and more reliance upon Christ. Because Joni took her tragedy and gave it to God, He has used her in a mighty way.

Confined to a wheelchair, Joni creatively adapted her lifestyle and learned to paint by holding a brush in her teeth. Soon God began calling her to help others with limited abilities.

What would her life have been like if she hadn’t taken that dive? Would she still have a worldwide ministry? Would she have developed the strong character and courage to move into such a ministry?

From great tragedy can come great character. Reflecting on the ministries of both Joni and the apostle Paul, I ask myself, “What are my chains? What adversity or physical infirmity can I give to Christ for His glory?

Author Unknown

As I was reading this devotional thought this morning – I was aware of the fact that all of us have ‘chains’.  They are not always physical – as in the case of Joni – sometimes they are invisible and are harder for us to define and recognize.  Anything emotional can be dicey and complicated for us and because we cannot see it – we also cannot see the damage it has done or the scars that it has left behind.   But like anything that holds us down – visible or not – it can be a very difficult thing to ‘rise above’ it and simply move on.  Especially if those ‘chains’ leave us with feelings of regret and desperation.  But the real strength of character comes when we are at our weakest – lost and hurting.   It’s when we allow those ‘chains’ to change our course that the real miracle comes about – in our own hearts.  And sometimes a change in our hearts begins a new journey – a change in our course that God will use to bless someone else.

In my own life my ‘chains’ are invisible.  They are not something you can detect.  They are emotional. There was a hurt and a tearing apart of something that I thought was unmovable and strong.  It caused me to rethink everything in my life.  It caused me to ‘pull in’ and protect.  It took time to heal – I think I am still healing from it in some ways.  But I realized something after this happened.  I realized I had a choice.  I either trusted God or I didn’t.  I had to trust that He saw the bigger picture and that I didn’t need to.  That had to be good enough.  And then – I had to decide whether or not I would go on – or stay still and struggle in my own pain – alone.  I chose to go on.

I began a journey of healing through writing.  I wrote because I felt compelled.  I felt I had something to say.  I felt God speaking through me.  And though ‘handicapped’ now because of my ‘chains’ – I continued to write.  It was the only thing I could do – and I did it.  Along the way I met people in my life that had a powerful influence in my life – and their words of love and encouragement was like God speaking directly to me.  And that encouragement gave me courage over time – and soon I was able to help and encourage people – even when I myself was still hurting.

Those were my ‘chains’ used to glorify God.  Would I have had this tremendous opportunity without them?  Would I have had anything to write about?  Would God have been able to use me?  I don’t know.  But I do know – that He took my brokenness and my willingness to move forward and bless others.  And in blessing others – He has blessed me.

And so like Joni – I can truly say that I cannot regret this path and the journey I’ve been on.  The very ‘chains’ that I thought would break me and destroy me and my witness – have made me stronger and my witness more powerful than before.

What are your chains?  Is it something that you need to experience in order to better serve others?  Are you finding your life journey changing course because of those ‘chains’?  It may not be just a ‘coincidence’  or something that you’d like to think of as a ‘mistake’.  It may be something that God is going to use to make you stronger and increase your influence with others.  And like those ‘chains’ of mine that will always be with me – even though I have survived and am moving forward – those ‘chains’ will always be a reminder to me that He is stronger than any chains that would threaten to bind me or destroy me.

God Bless

Hymn To The Fallen

This day is dedicated to the brave men and women of our country.  Thank you so much for serving and sacrificing yourselves to defend our freedom.  You will never be forgotten.  This video is dedicated to you.

The following is taken from “Saving Private Ryan” – and is my favorite.  Enjoy and God Bless our great country.

All Will Be Well

Cheer up people!  Easter means: whatever is wrong – will be right.

Pastor Greg Daulton

Heard a fantastic and moving message this wonderful Easter morning – as we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection.  Our pastor said the above statement  in his opening thoughts this morning.  We continued to sing songs of praise and worship as his statement began to slowly sink in.  What a simple thought – what a profoundly deep and moving thought.  Nothing is so wrong – that won’t someday be fixed.  No more tears.  No more wondering.  No more heartache.  Jesus has won the battle – and we are victorious!  That’s something to get excited about!!

His message this morning was full of joy and hope – as he told us that Easter was all about laughter! How often do we forget?  Church can become about rules and duty – appearances and posture – and eventually we can lose sight of what really happened as a result of Jesus overcoming death.  It meant that we don’t have to fear ANYTHING – even death.  He has made it so there is peace surrounding this event for us – and there is deep joy and yes, laughter in the midst of trials and pain.  We can not only laugh in the face of all of this – but we are free to laugh at ourselves.

I know something about laughter – having a very healthy sense of humor – as my family and many friends can testify to.  But I also feel things like hurt and pain – rejection and betrayal most deeply and can cry quite easily because of a broken heart.  I believe both of these are healthy expressions of the emotions that God gives each of us.  To experience and drink in all of life to the fullest.  To be unafraid of being me.  Jesus gave me permission to be me.  He has won the battle once and for all over death.  He brings a safety blanket for me – as I trust and walk with him.  Others may walk away from us – but He never will.  He whispers to me – “one day there will be no more tears – all will be well.”  We are free.  Free to laugh – free to relax in this amazing grace of His.

What I find interesting is this:  When Jesus rose – he told the women at the tomb – “Go tell my disciples and Peter”. Why Peter?  Because Peter was the one who failed.  Interesting.  I could very well insert my name there – and you could your name.  He called him by name – the one who failed him.  There is nothing that you can do that is so bad – that He will not seek after you – and make it right. I’m sure the disciples weren’t crying anymore when they heard the news!  And I’m sure Peter was laughing the hardest – knowing all was well.

Below is a video of the late Keith Green – one of my favorite Christian artists.  He is performing “The Victor” live in 1978.  His amazing passion and talent leave me breathless.  Take a listen – you will be inspired today – as you begin to let what Christ did for you on that Easter Sunday some 2000 years ago – bring back some of the lost laughter.  Let Him begin a new deep work of joy and laughter in your life today – with no fear – no worries – as you discover, some day, all will be well.

Swallowed into earth’s dark womb
And death has triumphed
That’s what they say
But tried to hold him in the tomb
The son of life
Rose on the third day

Just look
The gates of hell
They’re falling
Crumbling from the inside out
He’s bursting through
The walls with laughter (hah!)

Listen to the angels shout

It is finished
He has done it
Life conquered death
Jesus Christ
Has won it

His plan of battle
You know it
He fooled them all
They led him off to prison to die
But as he entered hades hall
He broke those hellish chains with a cry

Just listen to those demons screaming
See him bruise the serpent’s head
The prisoners of hell
He’s redeeming (oh!)
All the power of death is dead

It is finished
He has done it
Life conquered death
Jesus Christ
Has won it

Just look
The gates of hell they’re falling
Crumbling from the inside out
He’s bursting through the walls with laughter (hah!)
Listen to the angels shout
(listen, oh, listen)

It is finished
He has done it
Life conquered death
Jesus Christ
Has won it

It is finished
He has done it
Life conquered death
Jesus Christ
Has won it

Above All

Above all powers above all kings
Above all nature and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began

Above all kindgoms above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth and treasure of the earth
There’s no way to measure what You’re worth

Crucified laid behind a stone
You lived to die rejected and alone
Like a rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall and thought of me
Above all

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