Day 7: Facing Depression

Copy of Salvation (1).png

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

At the heart of our recovery is a belief in the God who reshapes our hopes and expectations into His own. 

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 41:11

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Psalms 40:1-3

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.”

Today’s topic I tread on carefully. The “loneliness of soul” as depression has been called, is so characterized because it is often so misunderstood.

Shame and self hatred can often come with depression, as this emotional pain is just as significant as physical pain, but we can feel judged and isolated to admit such a profession.

Ever been really discouraged to the point where you just did not have any hope at all? Maybe feel as if you are gasping for air and trying to find hope and meaning, only to be confronted with a wave of strong emotions that threaten to engulf you? Add to these feelings the stigma of feeling this way and it seems there is no way out.

The battle in the mind to overcome negative or sad emotions is real. The motivation to escape the prison of depression can falter as people are overwhelmed with sadness or grief and feel powerless to affect it at all.

Depression is real. Causes can stem from circumstances, sin, a chemical imbalance, mental disorder or our own spiritual battle, to name a few. Fixing depression is not as easy as a bandaid on a physical infirmity that we readily can affect, but God can do all things.

The One Who fearfully and wonderfully made us also chose to be encased in human flesh and can identify with every sorrow and heartbreak we have.

Some of God’s greatest servants encountered depression – but they did not all stay there. David is such an encouragement to me. He confessed and was honest about being depressed, anxious and stressed. Who wouldn’t be in his situation? David knew what it was to suffer greatly, chased in the dessert for 15 years by a mad man who was also depressed. Sometimes even other depressed people can try to bring us down with them, preoccupied with self and ascribing motives to us that just don’t exist. Saul was crazed with jealousy of David and left those thoughts unchecked, fueling them with his false perceptions. Our minds can really get in a fog if we take in the lies and negativity and allow it to go unchecked.

But David’s refuge was God’s word. He did not have a local CVS to run to or Dr. Phil to cheer him up. Hiding in caves, despairing of life – His medicine was to run to God and His word and to cry out to Him.

While sometimes medicine is needed and a great help to sufferers of depression, the greatest healing balm I have found is being in God’s presence reading His word and crying out to Him, just like David modeled for us all.

My visit down depression lane has been brief and intermittent. Personal choices I made while there were what determined how long I stayed and when I would be leaving.

Recognition. A lot of times we don’t see that we have a choice. We don’t realize the state of mind we are in. Walking around in a cloud and sad atmosphere, we are often unaware of and don’t recognize that we are depressed. The first step toward leaving the path of depression was to recognize we are on that path in the first place. With 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts going through our mind in one day, sometimes seeing the source of those thoughts can be dizzying.

Roots. Finding the root of depression helps us to see. If we take those thoughts and examine where they came from, we begin to see the culprit that served as a catalyst in the formation of depression. Painful roots can be lifted out of the dust, healed and transplanted again in the healthier soil of being rooted in God’s love, instead.

Relationship. Victory out of depression is a daily battle in the mind that we often cannot fight by ourselves. We have to fight and choose to overcome, but if we are in a bad state of mind, we might need others to pluck us out and help us gain perspective.

Rescue. Seeing motivations of ourselves and others through biblical and prayer filters helps us to release possession of our thoughts and surrender them to Jesus. Placing them in God’s hands – sometimes again and again – is when we begin to see things from His perspective.

Real Hope. We need to tell ourselves the truth. The many discouraging thoughts are not always true. They might be convincing, but lies, nonetheless. This is not going to last forever. As long as we want change and are willing to be on the hunt for healing, your hope is sure and changed. The hope we have in Christ is abiding and eternal. Where we are now is not.

Trying to escape depression with a fake hope just won’t work. Happy little phrases and anecdotes are not a real solution. But we are never without hope if we approach our internal struggles biblically. What does His word say? Reflecting on His promises rather than our ever-looming reality is a life preserver ready to be used, if we let it be.

The circumstances surrounding the revelation of my children being harmed provoked depression and overwhelming grief that seemed insurmountable. My expectations were blown out of the water and I could not see how I could ever recover. If it had not been for God’s presence before and throughout, surely I would not have survived.

The night before the revelation of sin in our family, God awoke me to write a song. Usually my heart is filled with praise when I write Him a song, but this night my soul was in anguish. Complete fear gripped my heart and the LORD began to reveal to me that my life was going to change dramatically. I did not know that as I wrote the song and sought God’s face, the father of my children was harming one of my children in that moment.

The next day the LORD walked with me as truth was unfolding that broke our hearts and rocked our world. Shock and horror filled my heart and I felt I was not even in my body. The stress added to the pain and brought all of my autoimmune diseases out of remission. Trying to function with simple tasks felt impossible. It was in this place of despair that my brain would not turn off. Sleeping was difficult, anxiety consumed me over the constant barrage of attacks, accusations and court dates. The ominous doorbell ringing again and again with more subpoenas frightened my children and I as we felt like puppets on strings being thrown around carelessly through a process we did not ask for.

Deep sadness emanates often from a place of suffering. It threatens to snuff out hope with the grim reality of its tentacles wrapping around our mind again and again, proliferating a message of doubt and hopelessness.

But we need not be trapped by depression’s lure. The choice depends on us, if we will see the escape. God’s love reaches deeper than the deepest pit and demolishes the lies that depression tells us.

At the core of depression can be unbelief formed in the chasm of broken expectations. At the heart of our recovery is a belief in the God who reshapes our hopes and expectations into His own.

We become disheartened when life has not lived up to what we hoped for. We are set free when we realize it is not our life, after all. Sadness for self is removed when we don the attitude and reality that our lives are wrapped up in Christ’s. If we really believe that we no longer live but that Christ lives through us, then we see our lives as living for One.

Adopting the mind of Christ is paramount to overcoming thoughts in a mind filled with troubling thoughts. Christ sought to glorify the Father. He did not consider Himself, but only others around Him. His zeal for God consumed Him.

If we are real, zeal for self can often consume us. God knows that. He wants us to lift up our eyes to Him and see where our help comes from. Self can be a burden, but we are free when we can lay self down and see our problems as potential to glorify God in it.

Moving past depression is not easy, but it is possible. Feelings are powerful, but they are not more powerful than God’s Word, which never returns void.

Rather than desiring an escape from pain, we can ask for God to be with us in the pain and to give us His perspective as we navigate through the mire of emotions and pain. The more we seek God, the more we get answers to our questions. The more we ask, the more we receive. God is not limited by our limits and the Maker of us all has the remedy for every suffering – emotional or physical.

The song, “Draw Me Near” was the song I wrote on the night before my life and the life of my children was changed forever and now serves as a reminder of God’s faithfulness at all times. If our hope is in anything other than God, our emotions ride a rollercoaster.

Lord, help us to trust You with our emotions. You made our hearts and can heal them, too.

Truthful Tuesday: Sacrificial Worship

Sacrificial worship

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Real worship is not consumerism, but being consumed by God’s greatness.

Scripture:

Genesis 22:7

“Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father?” “What is it, my son?” he replied. “Here is the fire and the wood,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?””

Romans 12:1

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.”

As a worship leader, I am constantly seeking ways to provoke myself to sincere, passionate worship.  This morning I was reading “Face Down” by Matt Redman and read his perspective on the discussion between Abraham and Isaac when they went to the region of Moria to sacrifice to God.  This same place is said to have been the place where Christ was ultimately crucified.  What a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s provision.

Abraham and Isaac were going to worship God.  Everything that was necessary for their act of worship was there, except for one thing – the sacrifice.  The son noticed the need and willingly provided himself.  God provided the Lamb.

When we come to worship God, whether it is in our homes or at church, where is our sacrifice?  The music is there, the stage is set, and we need to respond.

In an entertainment-saturated society, it can be easy to approach worship in a consumer-like fashion, but worship is not worship if it does not cost us something.

What does this sacrifice look like?  It will be different for everyone, but it begins with a contrite heart, provoked to in Holy fear to be in awe of the sacrifice that God made for us. Complacency is not on the altar, nor distracted sheep going through the motions.  No, just grateful hearts, spared death, alive in Christ, laying down their burdens and overcome with God’s amazing love.  Basking in His Word, afresh with new revelation, we lie prostrate before the King of kings.

Lord, we worship YOU!  You are Holy, perfect and beyond our comprehension.  Help us to worship You in spirit and truth.  Be glorified in our worship services and provoke our hearts to sincere worship. 

Mundane Monday: The Measure of Our Strength

1 Thessalonians 3:2-5

2 “We sent Timothy, our brother and fellow worker for God in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen you and encourage you about your faith, 3 so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For in fact when we were with you, we were telling you in advance that we would suffer affliction, and so it has happened, as you well know.  5 So when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter somehow tempted you and our toil had proven useless.”

Acts 14:21 22

“They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.”

Psalms 34:19

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-11

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“You do not determine a man’s greatness by his talent or wealth, as the world does, but rather by what it takes to discourage him.”  Jerry Falwell

The early leaders of the church were not wooing new believers to their meetings with promises of donuts and coffee, nor making their time of worship more appealing with seeker sensitive or culturally relevant ideologies.  In fact, they promised affliction and hardships for those who recognized their need for a Savior and chose to place their faith in Jesus Christ.

Wow.  Hardly seems like a way to share the Gospel to us today.  Our society longs to make things easier – in fact, we worship at the altar of comfort and ease.  Now, I am not saying we cannot offer pleasantries to make the Gospel attractive to unbelievers, but the power of the Gospel is enough and the Word of God is living, active and powerful.

I confess that I have worried about new believers doubting their new faith when troubles enter in.  I want to protect them, but realize that God is better suited for that role than I am.  And when new believers see other believers who have weathered difficult storms and glorified God in the midst, that witness speaks volumes more than any program ever could.

Jesus promised that we would have troubles and demonstrated how to walk through them in victory.  Genuine faith does not mean we will not have times of fear or of great sorrow, but it does mean we have One Who walks with us through life’s tragedies and triumphs, breathing grace into our souls.

If our faith is so fragile that we doubt the very goodness of God when life hurts,  we have been deceived and been lulled into a superficial faith based on the idolatry of pleasure.  But if from that place of fragility we look upward and ask God to strengthen us, we become overcomers in Christ.

Authentic faith is not easily shaken when the storms blow, nor crushed by sorrows.  It is a quiet confidence that stands up to fear and bears burdens firmly trusting in God’s promises, even when it hurts. God mercifully died for us, chose us for salvation and will not leave us when the wind blows.  He loves us and we can trust Him.  Perhaps our view of suffering might be altered in the midst of God’s enablement through it.

Affliction surprisingly offers a promise.  That we will be more like Christ, that we will be comforted by God Himself.  That we will know and understand Him more.  That, when we have been tested we will come forth as gold.

Lord, give us Your perspective and understanding.  Our lives are Yours.  Every blessing and every hardship we pour out at Your beautiful feet.  Blessed be Your perfect, awesome Name.

Worshipful Wednesday: Your Mercy – Free song #4

Photo Credits: thecrackeddoor.com

Photo Credits:
thecrackeddoor.com

Psalm 51: 1-4

Have mercy on me, O God, because of  your loyal love!

Because of your great compassion, wipe away my rebellious acts! 

2 Wash away my wrongdoing!  Cleanse me of my sin!

3 For I am aware of  my rebellious acts; I am forever conscious of my sin.

4 Against you – you above all – I have sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.

Enjoy this song, “Your Mercy” – a joyful reminder of what we have been forgiven of!

http://www.pledgemusic.com/seeingdeep
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Pledge Music Campaign Ends May 1, 2015

Denise Pass’ “Seeing Deep” recording at 56%

These past few months it has been a joy to sing and share with my family the message of God’s healing and faithfulness in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.  Thank you to each one of you we encountered at the churches we were privileged to visit.  The boys were less camera shy, but look for more pictures to be updated on our website in the coming months.

The Pledge Music Campaign to raise funds for my new Seeing Deep digital EP recording closes Friday, May 1, 2015 at 2:00 pm.  Plans to record are in the making, so if you have ordered the recording, you will receive your copy by the end of the summer, when the project is projected to be completed.  Thank you, everyone, for your prayers, support and encouragement during this process.  We are at 56% with less than two days to go!!!

If you have not yet bought the $7 recording, you still can.  You can also join in on some last minute fun.  Below are the names of eleven songs I have written for this recording.  We have to pick five songs.  Which five do you like the best?  You can hear some of them on the Pledge Music website.  Access to the songs is given after purchasing the $7 EP or donating toward the project on the website:www.pledgemusic.com/seeingdeep
Denise Pass | Seeing Deep EP

  • Seeing Deep
  • Draw Me Near
  • Layers
  • He Came
  • The Faith of a Child
  • Then Came You
  • Now You’re Here
  • How Can I?
  • All About You
  • Breaking Free
  • All Things

With your support we can make this happen.  The funds will be used to cover production costs for the EP and backing tracks.  This recording is necessary for outreach and makes this ministry possible.  Thank you!
www.pledgemusic.com/seeingdeep

All for Jesus,
Denise Pass

Copyright © 2015 Seeing Deep, All rights reserved.

Perception’s Deception

Photo Credits: cgutek.com

Photo Credits:
cgutek.com

1 Samuel 16:7

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t be impressed by his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

When Samuel was choosing the future King, he was led by God.  Men tried to sway him to pick according to their own prejudice and preference, but Samuel sought God’s favor.  People were shocked that David, a mere shepherd boy who played the harp was selected.  He was the youngest, the least that anyone would have expected.  It was, perhaps, politically incorrect.

The people qualified Samuel’s choice: “but he’s taking care of the flock . . .” – not someone God would choose, would He? David might not have been esteemed as a leader in man’s eyes, but to God, who knew his heart, David was the perfect choice.  Confidence in appearance never lasts, but character endures long past looks, wealth or popularity have faded.   Waiting for God’s best requires patience, trust and obedience in God, not fear of man.

It is a humbling thing putting ourselves before man, whether it be to step out in ministry, to share what God has done, or to lead in some fashion.  We will be tested in those times to develop character and sometimes in our own hometown we will not be endorsed.  Like David, people around us know we are imperfect.  They may hold a perception of us that we cannot affect.  The true moment of freedom comes when we realize that we do not have to.

None of us wants to be misunderstood, but it is a fact of life.  People have their perceptions formed on the surface in the chalice of opinion, gossip, envy, or experience.  Whether or not there is truth behind that perception often doesn’t matter, as the power of emotion can be stronger and people are often fed opinions by the peecee police in an attempt to control outcomes.  But the humility of reserving judgment before tearing down another brother or sister is rare and needed today.

To form a viewpoint on another person without attempting to know their heart is prideful and demonic.  It is also folly to trust in what someone or something appears to be, only to be let down.   Discernment comes through prayer and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

These same patterns of judgment and jealousy are in the body of Christ today.  They were also present in the time of Christ. Jesus’ own disciples questioned the motives of other followers of Christ casting out demons in Jesus’ name.  A competitive spirit was quickly quelled by the Master, though, who saw all working together for the glory of God.

Are we a David, being chosen for a work, or the older brother, scorning someone else who is seeking to work for the kingdom of God?  In either station, may we recognize we are nothing apart from Christ.  We are all unqualified to serve the King of kings.  Therefore no jealousy is permitted and no pride, either, in whatever position we are in.

Blind trust in someone can bring devastation, but we have to be willing enough to be vulnerable and not allow ourselves to become embittered and believe the worst in others, either.  We all need grace and need to believe we are capable of being better tomorrow than we were today – no matter what the appearance suggests.

Lord, we answer to you alone.  Thank You for calling each of us for Your glory.  We are so needful, yet You use us.  Help us to not fear man, but to serve you faithfully.  May we also not discourage another because of a weakness we see in them, either.

The Purpose and Fruit from Testing

Photo Credits: gardenofpraise.com

Photo Credits:
gardenofpraise.com

Exodus 9: 1-7; 11

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Release my people that they may serve me! 2 For if you refuse to release them and continue holding them, 3 then the hand of the Lord will surely bring a very terrible plague on your livestock in the field, on the horses, the donkeys, the camelsthe herds, and the flocks. 4 But the Lord will distinguish between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, and nothing will die of all that the Israelites have. 5 The Lord set an appointed time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land.” And the Lord did this on the next day; all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but of the Israeliteslivestock not one died. 7 Pharaoh sent representatives to investigate, and indeed, not even one of the livestock of Israel had died. But Pharaoh’s heart remained hardand he did not release the people. 11 The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for boils were on the magicians and on all the Egyptians.

Psalm 66:11-13

“11 You allowed men to ride over our heads; we passed through fire and water, but you brought us out into a wide open place. 12 You allowed men to ride over our heads; we passed through fire and water, but you brought us out into a wide open place. 13 I will enter your temple with burnt sacrifices; I will fulfill the vows I made to you.”

Throughout time, the story of God’s mighty deliverance of His people from the Egyptians has captivated many.  The thing we often forget though, is that deliverance costs.  The Israelites suffered along with the Egyptians for the first few plagues and thereafter from the resentment the Egyptians poured out on them as retribution for their own judgment.

The rain falls on the good and bad, and the righteous and unrighteous alike will be tested – with one key difference.  The testing by God on one of His children has the potential to yield a bountiful harvest and has eternal purposes.  For the unsaved, God is hoping the testing will cause them to turn toward Him, but often testing yields punishment and exasperation for an unbeliever who does not understand the heart of God.

For those who fear the LORD, there is protection and a purpose in all hardship endured under the sun.  It makes me smile to consider that the magicians, who were so smug at being able to duplicate God’s miracles initially, then were suddenly covered in boils and recognizing the finger of God.  Not enough to repent and recognize their need for salvation, but humbled, nonetheless, in the presence of a Holy God.

God will be glorified in our moments of testing and of victory.  Knowing that nothing is in vain in Jesus gives encouragement when the testing seems lengthy.  He is at work.  Even when it seems like the enemy is advancing, God knows the end.

God is so good in all of His purposes.  He longs to bring us to a place of abundance, but not if our character is not prepared first.  Of far greater worth is our heart than our comfort, even if it means we suffer for a little while.  In due time, we will reap a harvest, and it will be beautiful.

Lord, thank you for patiently loving us and carrying us through life’s adversities and triumphs.  We need, You, Lord.  Help us to not resist testing but embrace the lessons learned and submit our souls to You in the process.

Countdown – 10 days left for our Pledge campaign – http://www.pledgemusic.com/seeingdeep

Answering the Call – Test Time!

Photo Credits: tfttraumarelief.com

Photo Credits:
tfttraumarelief.com

2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 5, 7

Therefore, since we have this ministry, just as God has shown us mercy, we do not become discouraged. 2 But we have rejected shameful hidden deeds, not behaving with deceptiveness or distorting the word of God, but by open proclamation of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience before God. 5 For we do not proclaim ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.

2 Corinthians 13:5

Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you–unless, indeed, you fail the test!

Psalm 26:2

Examine me, O LORD, and test me! Evaluate my inner thoughts and motives!

Psalm 139:23

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Students do not typically look forward to exams.  It is in the moments preceding the exam that they wonder if they have done enough.  Have they mastered the material?  An unprepared student hopes and prays for success, but it is not based on their work; they are just hoping for mercy.  So it is with us, in our calling as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Have we been in the Word of God and diligent to seek Him?  Are we prepared in season and out of season to share His salvation?  Are we willing to subject ourselves to an examination by God?

I woke up this morning with a sense that my heart and this ministry God has given would be under examination this week, as we are in our final week of raising support for the new music to be recorded.  As I asked God to confirm this ministry, I opened my Bible to the verses above in 2 Corinthians 4 and wept.

Stepping out to minister the word of God through song and word is the most amazing position I could ever have.  Each of us who have seen and understood God’s salvation has a ministry.  Each person’s calling will look different, but it is a calling, nonetheless – to share God’s salvation with a dying world.  How is it, that we should have a ministry?  That God would entrust this treasure – knowledge of Him and His salvation to broken clay pots?  Nothing short of a miracle by an amazing God.

With such a gift comes responsibility.  We must prove faithful.  We must remove any obstacles that stand in the way of people seeing Christ.  Any hidden sin must be seen and removed, so that we can, without hindrance, present a clear message from a pure heart.  God requires nothing less.  We might be broken clay pots, but God is in the business of taking broken things and making them beautiful.

Examining ourselves is a tricky thing to do.  We can easily come up with excuses or believe the best in ourselves.  But laying our hearts bare before God and asking Him to reveal our heart’s attitudes and hidden sins is a question God knows how to answer.  We can also ask godly people around us to evaluate us.  This takes humility and trust and ultimately what they share should be brought before God.  Sometimes the people around us who know that we are broken clay pots cannot receive our message.  That is okay – God will use another; and God can use us as messengers in other places, too.

As we examine ourselves, the litmus test cannot be man’s approval or numbers – it has to be our hearts and the evaluating tools God chooses.  Instead of fearing examination or being discouraged when we are tested by trials or personal choice, it should be a source of encouragement.  Being tested means we are seeking God and being prepared for being used by Him.  Those who submit to God’s test will come forth as refined silver – of great worth in God’s sight.  That makes the testing process worth it – beautiful indeed, and all for His glory.

Won’t you join me in evaluating the ministry God has given you?  This week I will be blogging about this process.  May our hearts be fully surrendered to Him.

Lord, I am Yours.  I am nothing apart from You.  Oh God, use me for Your glory.  Use all the brokenness form the pages of my life to give someone else courage.  Examine me and reveal hidden sins or attitudes that displease You and draw me nearer to You.  Be glorified in this clay pot. 

Worship Wednesday: Paying Attention In an Inattentive World

Photo Credits: mindful listening

Photo Credits:
mindful listening

Psalm 49: 1-4

1 “Listen to this, all you nations!  Pay attention, all you inhabitants of the world! 2 Pay attention, all you people, both rich and poor! 3 I will declare a wise saying; I will share my profound thoughts. 4 I will learn a song that imparts wisdom; I will then sing my insightful song to the accompaniment of a harp.

As a singer/songwriter, this verse is precious to me.  When I write songs of worship to God, I am caught up in how awesome He is and how to reveal Him to whoever listens to my music.  In everything I do, I want to convey God’s amazing grace, truth and love; to express His word in a way that can reach someone to understand God more.  It is this hunger that drives me on: to know Him more and make Him known.

Music has a way of grabbing our attention more than mere words.  Singing new songs also helps us to worship when we have grown accustomed to listening to the same worship songs.  We can also listen inattentively and not recognize the impact music is having upon us.  It has been said by some that they do not listen to the lyrics, just the music.  But we are more complex creations than that.  We are able to retain a lot of information and might not even be aware of it.  What we listen to matters.

When I was in college studying music, I wrote a research paper on the profound effect music has on plant life.  I was astounded that even plants wilted when hard rock music was played.  (Smile).  Humans are likewise affected by music, yet in even deeper ways.

The company we keep in media is either corrupting us or discipling us in our walks with God.  There are so many distractions today, so many things beckoning for our attention.  Which entertainment will we choose?  Music that helps us to understand and worship God more, or music that numbs us to His existence?  Movies or television that inspires us to be more like Christ, or awakens our flesh to become more carnally minded?

He has entrusted the secrets of His kingdom to us and we must prove faithful.  Even in seemingly small decisions, He is LORD over it all.   May we pay attention to what surrounds us and choose to place in our path songs, words and media that cause us to walk in purity and joy in the LORD.  Like the Psalmist, may we seek to go deeper with God so we can share with those around us more of the depth of the riches we have in Christ.

Lord, in all I do, I want to glorify You.  Help us to honor You and to never grow weary us seeking You diligently in every area of our lives.

Thoughtful Thursday: Perspective

Photo Credits latinegro.wordpress.com

Photo Credits
latinegro.wordpress.com

Psalm 41:6-7

6 When someone comes to visit, he pretends to be friendly; he thinks of ways to defame me, and when he leaves he slanders me.

Psalm 39:1-7

39:1 I decided,  “I will watch what I say and make sure I do not sin with my tongue.  I will put a muzzle over my mouth while in the presence of an evil man.” 2 I was stone silent; I held back the urge to speak. My frustration grew; 3 my anxiety intensified. As I thought about it, I became impatient. Finally I spoke these words: 4O Lord, help me understand my mortality and the brevity of life!  Let me realize how quickly my life will pass! 5 Look, you make my days short-lived, and my life span is nothing from your perspective.  Surely all people, even those who seem secure, are nothing but vapor.  6 Surely people go through life as mere ghosts.  Surely they accumulate worthless wealth without knowing who will eventually haul it away.” 7 But now, O Lord, upon what am I relying? You are my only hope! 

Matthew 26:36-39

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

1 Peter 4:12

“Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

David was acquainted with suffering.  Even on his sick bed his enemies were plotting against him.  But David’s hope was not in the present – it was in the future.  He had dealt with people being jealous of him and attacking him.  Life’s joy was seemingly sapped from him, but He held on.  He held onto something greater.  God alone.  God granted him perspective to realize how brief life was – but not before David cried out for this understanding.

Jesus knew the agony of betrayal and what it was to have even his closest friend kiss him in the very act.  He cried out to God the Father, as well, and gained all of our souls with his suffering.  He knew the prize for obedience was far greater than momentary suffering.  Perspective makes all the difference.

Ever feel like the world is against you?  The world abounds with jokes and suggestions at comforts that can appease this pain, but the only real relief comes from being immersed in Jesus and His Word.  Searching His Word brings perspective to the sincere seeker.  Running to God in prayer grants peace that the world knows nothing about.

Instead of wanting deliverance from the enemies, David wanted understanding.  Instead of wanting deliverance from the cup He was about to drink, Jesus sought obedience as far more precious.  Only God can change our hearts and minds and give us His perspective.

When our expectations meet God’s perspective, we are undone.  Where were our expectations formed?  God’s Word clearly describes troubles we will have in this world, but our flesh desires peace and comfort.  Peter knew troubles, too, and expected them.  Knowing the purpose of life’s challenges makes our perspective of trials even clearer.

Lord, thank You for opening our eyes to see that Your purposes are far greater than our understanding.  Help us to seek Your glory in all things and to trust You, even when our perspective is a little blurry.

41:7 All who hate me whisper insults about me to one another; 19 

they plan ways to harm me.

Division’s Conquest

Photo Credits: www.kkcj.org

Photo Credits:
http://www.kkcj.org

1 Corinthian 12:25

“So that there may be no division in the body, but the members may have mutual concern for one another!”

1 Corinthian 13:4-5

“Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious.  Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful.”

Proverbs 18:19

“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a citadel.”

Dividing and conquering can be a great strategy when trying to accomplish a difficult task, but in the case of relationships and the body of Christ, divisiveness accomplishes destruction.  We are stronger when we are united.

One of the saddest things for me to see is when members within a church begin to devour one another.  When hard times hit a church is when true character is displayed in its members – it is also when we need one another the most.

An offended brother is like an unyielding city.  Forget whether or not their offense is legitimate or founded on truth.  Sometimes you can try to be a peacemaker and still receive abusive treatment from a bitter soul.  What then?

Love.  Recently someone spoke bitterly to me right before I was to lead worship.  I had a choice.  I chose love.  When I contemplated the actions later in prayer to God, He gave me compassion for this individual and the knowledge that their perception was misplaced.  I could leave it in God’s loving hands.  I could trade concern over my own hurt to concern over what really created the bitterness in this person’s soul.

I have been crushed in the past by words spoken with an intent to harm, but not this time.  By the grace of God alone, I did not think of self, but instead of the other person and gave it to my God, Who is fully capable of dealing with all hearts, including mine.  The result?  Peace.  Joy.  No anxiety.  This was a major victory and the evil one must have been bummed.

There is no case for self-righteousness, because we are all guilty.  We all hurt from time to time and all want affirmation, but our neediness is best filled by God, not looking to man to justify or accept us.  People will get mad from time to time.  That’s ok.  We cannot please everyone, and our ultimate audience is God alone.

More than being right is the need for the body of Christ to care for one another.  Brothers and sisters shepherding one another’s souls.  No agendas other than God’s glory.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all tried for that goal?  Division would quickly turn to multiplication instead . . . multiplied members, gratitude and joy.

Lord, help us to buildup one another and to put to death our hurt feelings which are birthed in pride.  May You be glorified in all circumstances in our lives and in Your church.