Musings From A Musical Mind

Posts tagged ‘Satan’

Beneath The Cross Of Jesus

Yesterday we sang this old traditional hymn at the closing of our morning church service.  It has been years since I have sung this – or even heard it.  The simple beauty of the words and harmonies are hard to describe.   It is a wonderful reminder in this season of Lent.

Like many of you, we are watching the mini series, “The Bible” on Sunday nights.  Yesterday we saw the dramatization of the birth of Jesus and some of his early ministry.  The calling of Peter was just as I had always pictured it to be.  A charismatic, positive and caring Jesus, a cynical, passionate and somewhat angry Peter.  It was a match made in heaven.  The scene of the calling to follow Jesus is wonderful.  Next week,  just in time for Palm Sunday and Easter weekends will be the miracles, teachings and then the betrayal and long walk to the cross.

If you are like me you have many questions.  Not that it really happened – but why it had to happen like it did.  Fully God and yet fully human, Jesus is someone whose life and appearance puzzles even the most devout critic.  Why He had to come the way He did – and save us by sending himself – we will never know.  The back story to the temptations by Satan is a deep mystery.   Why would that have even been an issue for God at all?   But it was.  And Jesus struggled with it.

I may not understand it.  But I have come to realize that God does not tell us everything about His plan 0r Himself.  We just need to take it on faith.  We are on a “need to know” basis – and apparently it is not important that we know why.  Only that it is.  And we either accept it or turn it away.  Either way it does not change it.   One thing is certain.  I am a hot mess by myself and need a Savior.  And God knew that even before I was born.  A plan was made for me before I even knew about it.   And I accept this gift and am very thankful.

Enjoy this wonderful version of “Beneath The Cross of Jesus” that I found on youtube sung by a college choir.  You may remember it from years ago – or you may have never heard it before.  Either way you will love it.  My prayer for you today is that you too will just accept that there are things that you will never understand – but admit that you too need a Savior to save you from yourself.  You will find Him if you truly want to be found.  He will change your life in so many ways – if you will open up and let Him in to it.

God Bless

Text: Elizabeth C. Clephane, 1830-1869
Music: Frederick C. Maker, 1844-1927
Tune: ST. CHRISTOPHER, Meter: 76.86.86.86

1. Beneath the cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand,
the shadow of a mighty rock
within a weary land;
a home within the wilderness,
a rest upon the way,
from the burning of the noontide heat,
and the burden of the day.

2. Upon that cross of Jesus
mine eye at times can see
the very dying form of One
who suffered there for me;
and from my stricken heart with tears
two wonders I confess:
the wonders of redeeming love
and my unworthiness.

3. I take, O cross, thy shadow
for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than
the sunshine of his face;
content to let the world go by,
to know no gain nor loss,
my sinful self my only shame,
my glory all the cross.

Shine Your Light

It’s Easter Sunday. A day where death was turned into life.  Where everything changed for me.  The day I began to really live.

Easter means a reason to celebrate. A reason to go on. More than just something we do once a year – it is something that holds meaning for us who know Jesus – every day of the year.

It means that even sin and death cannot separate us from the love of God – shining down and moving within us.

It is the final victory – our anthem carried deep in our hearts and it is our ultimate theme song.

A risen Jesus – no longer imprisoned or confined to death’s agenda – breaking through that icy grip of Satan and presenting us with that same power to sustain our ordinary lives – give us a new reason to exist – not be enslaved any longer to sin and most of all to give us an opportunity to live with renewed hope for the future.

As I was looking for a song that would describe this risen Jesus – I was struck by this next song  by Phillips, Craig and Dean.  It speaks so beautifully of God’s love.  That He – in his terrible love – would shine His light on us.  “That we may be saved, that we may have life – to find our way in the darkest night – let your grace fall on us…”

I am praying that you too would know this risen Jesus – and let His love shine down on you.

God Bless

To Tell The Truth

The Ten Commandments of the Mosaic Law on a mo...

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Our pastor spoke on the subject of “Truth” on Sunday.  It is part of his series on “The Ten Commandments”.  Each has been thought-provoking and has made every one of us look at these commandments in a different light.

Our small group wrestled with this subject of “truth”  last night – as we revisited the message from Sunday.

Truth is very subjective.  We each have a unique way of looking at events – past and present.  We have a way of justifying our own view-point – and even twisting facts to present ourselves in a better light.  All of us our self-centered to the core – and it’s only through the grace and love of Jesus that we have any hope at all.  Outside of Him – we mess it up pretty badly.

What is truth?

The only truth we know is the person of Jesus Christ – who is Himself the embodiment of truth – the living Word of God. Apart from Him we are destined to get it only partially right – struggling with ourselves and others until we die.

People have been wrestling with the subject of truth since the Garden of Eden.  And the enemy has been trying to twist the truth so that even we start to doubt what God really said – and what He really meant when He said it.  We twist truth just enough to justify our actions. We all do it.  And though Satan is the “Father of lies” – we need to realize something about our own nature – we lie and don’t always tell the whole truth – even when we believe we have.  And sometimes we cannot point our finger and blame him.  We don’t need to look any further than our own self for the real blame. We want something – so we twist truth to get it.  We don’t want to be blamed for something that we had a part in – so we point a finger at another person or at Satan and deflect any blame off of us.  That kind of deceit is not lost on God – He knows what the score is – even if other people are fooled – even if we have even successfully fooled ourselves.

The difference between our truth and the truth of God – is that our truth can be self-centered and twisted – God’s truth is always redemptive and without agenda.

I want it.  I will lie to get it.  I will call it truth.  I am in denial.

The Word Of God sets up boundaries for us.  If we stay within the protection of those boundaries – we live a life of truth and safety.  When we step outside of God’s protection – He will not stop us – in fact He will let us do it – it’s just not the best for us – and the fall-out is enormous and does not bring lasting peace and happiness.

Truth.  What is truth?

Bill Cosby was quoted as saying, “The only time children tell the truth is when they are in pain”  They lie to get what they want – they are just not as clever as we are.  But we all do this.  When in pain – and we are forced to “come clean” with the truth   it looks a lot differently than what we had lied to ourselves about.  And sometimes saying and speaking the truth is lonely and misunderstood.  It’s not always comfortable.  In fact it’s down right miserable at times.  Simple truth is like that.  And some people get it and some don’t.

Jesus knew this.  There were those in His time that did not get it either.  Truth was way too threatening for them.  And they had Him killed because of it.

Can we always tell the truth?  Even if it hurts to say it?  Even if we know if might split apart a relationship?  Even if it will cause repercussions among family and friends?  Do I strive to live in truth?  To say only the things that are redemptive and good?  To live a life of honor and transparency?  Not always.  I’ve blown it – just like you.  But I want to model my life after Christ’s example – and it’s a start to come clean with what the truth really is – and not be satisfied with “half-truths” and “gossip” about others just to make myself appear better.

But striving to Live in truth is the only way to live.  And some day I hope to arrive there.

God Bless

Below enjoy a song from John Mayer “Say what you need to say” – one of my favorites – follow the link to “Watch this on youtube”

Are You Vulnerable?

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

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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

Finding Balance

The canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke &...

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Matthew 11:28 (The Message)

28-30“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Long before we were born – in ancient days of old – man was struggling with the same things that we are today.  His sin nature.

From the beginning – we were all subject to the human condition – because of the ‘fall of man‘ – and like King Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun’.

Today’s temptations and stresses are nothing new.  Man has been facing them since the beginning of time – and just about any sin you can think of – is listed by example in the Bible.  No one is immune to temptation and his sinful nature.

Jesus promised to bring rest from ourselves. He brought it in a new way.  He gave himself.  As long as we ignore and deny Him – His rightful place in our lives – we will forever be slaves to our dark sinful natures.

I’m not talking about religion.  Religion is ritual and duty.  Born out of guilt about our condition – and as a way to ease our bruised conscience.  That sounds very motivating to me.  NO WAY!  The more you push – the more I’m going to pull – again the sin nature rearing its ugly head.

But Jesus came to bridge the gap of ritualistic religion for religion’s sake.  He came to bring Himself – to offer forgiveness because He Himself IS God – and He came to offer relationship with Him by offering that forgiveness.

You want to live a life of balance and of joy? – then He is the key.  He promises a life of rest and promise. Nothing too heavy will be hoisted upon you.  He will carry you in the tough places.  And He will bring the ‘lightness’ to your everyday world.

There is so much heaviness today in our world.  Those of us that have that relationship with God through Jesus – have a different world perspective.  We have a hope that others do not.  We have a life of meaning and purpose while others live lives of quiet (and not so quiet) desperation.   All sorts of issues today, politically, relationally and economically.  And because it seems that the real enemy of our souls is busier than usual to get us to trip up – just remember this:  Satan has been around a long time – spinning the same lies.  There’s nothing new here.

It comes down to a life of balance. When I am off-balance – this is when temptation and trouble can find me – and I can find it.  A life built on the Word of God and a relationship with Jesus will help to protect me from that temptation of just following  my own sinful nature – that lurks in my heart.  And we all have the ability to be off-balance.  It’s very easy to do. We are stressed, busy, lonely, prideful, independent, etc.  These all can lead to unhealthy habits in our lives.  And take us down a road of temptation that starts out in an innocent way.

This is why we need Jesus to help bring back the balance to our lives.  And He promises to do that.

So walk with Him today – listen to what He is calling, ‘unforced rhythms of grace’.  The many things He allows as part of your journey – and the many times He covers you with much-needed grace and mercy.  And if you’re tired and ‘burned out’ – this is the place you need to be.  Bringing balance and order back into your crazy life.  Walk with Him – watch how He handles it.   Learn from Him.  Watch how he transforms your hard unforgiving heart – into something soft and pliable – and shows you how to apply grace to your life with others.

He will bring that balance back into your worn-out and weary life.  Teach you how to live lightly and freely.

God Bless

 

 

Safety In Numbers

Sueños rotos / Broken dreams

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Our pastor had another excellent message this morning on “How To Deal with Broken Dreams”.

I was aware of the fact, as he was speaking – that I have had a few dreams and things I thought would turn out differently from what they have.  I think if we are honest – we would all say the same thing.

And it is in a world of broken or unfilled dreams – that you and I can become restless and discouraged.  The most common reaction to heartbreak is to pull away from others.  To isolate ourselves and try to make it on our own.  This is when we need be very aware that when we are pulling away from others –  Satan can have a grip on us – catching us when we are weak and alone.  And pulling us down.

1 Peter 5 says this:

8-11Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.

I’m so glad He has the last word.  His hand of protection is always on me.  There is also ‘safety in numbers’.  When we rely on good council from strong Christian brothers and sisters – and are accountable to them – we are less likely to fall away – make unwise choices and stray off the path.

I admit – I like to pull away and be alone – it is in my nature to do so.  I’ve always been somewhat of a ‘loner’.  This is why – although I enjoy my friendships – it is always easier and more comfortable for me to pull away from the crowd.  Being in a married situation – and a mom  – took real discipline for me as a person – because many times when I would prefer to be alone – my circumstances were not conducive to it – nor would my family hear of it!  But my very patient husband was wonderful in understanding this about me – and at times when our children were very young – he would tell me he was going to watch them and that I could just go somewhere for several hours – to give me a much-needed break.

And although this may be a positive in many ways to like to be alone – and be able to refuel and recharge – it is not always healthy.  I need people – the friendships in my life are very important to me – so I have to work at them.  The things we value – we will make time for.  It is the same way in my marriage to Greg.  I value my time alone – but I also make time for him – because it is healthy for me to do so.  He keeps me grounded.  His love allows me to be who I am – and it is a safe place.

I have also learned that I have to let go of some of the strongholds in my life – people who haven’t treated me right – my chance for complete restoration with an old friend – etc., etc.  In letting go and not expecting anything in return – and in fact –  never seeing things the way I would like them to be.   I decided something today.  This is a ‘broken dream’ and I need to let go of it.  Period.  No more wishing and dreaming of the day that things will be put to right.  No more waiting to ask the questions and find the answers – to hear that I’m not crazy after all.  Just forgiving and letting it go.  Stephen said it so well this morning.  ‘Forgive and ask questions later’.  How simple this sounds.  How true it is.  But how humbling and challenging.  And yet – I know I have to lead my heart in this area.  I have to live with my own choices and my response to the way others have treated me.  I’m very aware that this puts me in a vulnerable position to NOT have those walls of protections around me – yes – I could be hurt again.  But it is a risk I’m willing to take – because it’s the right thing to do.

Colossians 3 says this:

15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Peace and thankfulness.  So much to be thankful for.  So much.

And so on this Halloween day – my prayer for you is the same.  Let go of it – all of it.  And God will bless you for it.  Forgive and ask questions later.

Here’s hoping and praying that you will do just that.  Stay close to God – and stay close to each other.

God Bless

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