Music Matters

Colossians 3:16 – “ Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

Music plays an important role in our lives. For Christians, music is central to our faith. Music is vital for worship. Playing music and/or singing together to the Lord enhances the corporate worship experience.

As I think of the power of music, I am reminded of this year’s America’s Got Talent winner – Kodi Lee. What makes Kodi Lee special? He is blind and autistic. Yet, Kodi beat many acts to claim the $1 million-dollar grand price. Kodi is living proof that music transcends disabilities. Music gives a voice to the voiceless, and super abilities to the weak. “We use music to say things we could never say with words” – Andrea Bocelli.

Kodi

Here are more facts about the power of music:

  • Music is a universal language. Music unites all peoples of the earth. You don’t have to speak the same language to appreciate and to play music together. You just have to have the passion for it.

Music

  • Music helps some people focus better when they study or prepare for a big challenge. My daughter plays music when she studies, whereas, I want dead silence when I study. Most athletes play a certain song to get them into “the zone” before a big game.
  • Music is fun and is for fun. We play music when we are happy. We play music at a party, or any celebration. We play music driving down the freeway with the windows open welcoming the scented, crisp spring air. Music uplifts the spirit and lures the body to move rhythmically.
  • Music is a creativity vehicle. Composers and players express themselves through music. I have watched and listened in amazement as a gifted jazz player channels their creativity through improvisation.
  • Music touches the emotions – calms the nerves, soothes the soul, and heals the pain. The bible records that whenever a bad spirit came upon King Saul, young David would be called to play music on his lyre. David’s smooth playing would soothe King Saul, and the evil spirit would leave (1 Samuel 16:23).
  • Music takes you there. Music takes you back to happier times, to a particular romantic place, with the people you love. Music refreshes the sweet memories of distant past. One of my all-time favorite songs is entitled, “Dance with My Father” by the late Luther Vandross. In it, Luther reminisces on times past when he would dance with his father. He wishes he could have another chance to dance with his father again and he would play a song that would never.
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  • Music sets the tone, establishes the temperature, and creates the appropriate ambiance for any occasion. On a romantic date you would need the appropriate romantic song. I think of my favorite dates with Rutendo where play songs by Norah Jones or Boys II Men.
  • Music leads you closer to God. It elevates our senses. Music ushers us into the very presence of the Divine. When we sing the right song, we close ours eyes and imagine ourselves standing before the Almighty. This song could be a hymn or a worship song that just hits the sweet spiritual spot.
  • Music teaches facts. Many teachers use songs and rhythms to embed truths into the little minds of their students. The students recall information better when music is the foundation. In Developing Countries, where Bibles and theology books are scarce, many Christians memorize songs from their hymnbooks. They use these songs for devotionals as well as for reinforcing theological truths. Music improves retention in the brain.

Music Zim

Next time you play an instrument, sing a song, remember the power of music on your soul and in the souls of those who listen.

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T-R-U-S-T in God

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Psalm 118:1-9

This Psalm provides invaluable lessons on trusting in God. Here are 5 lessons from this passage: T-R-U-S-T. Trusting people … are thankful, they reach out, they are unafraid, they seek safety, and are triumphant!

THANK. Be Thankful. When you are blessed, do not forget to thank the Lord. Don’t take God’s provisions and blessings for granted. How thankful are you? I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Why?

GOD IS GOOD. Even if life is not working, God is still good. Even if all hell is breaking loose, God is still good.  Whatever the circumstances, God is good.  Our problems change our perception of God’s character. Our problems do not change God’s character.  Psalm 145:9 says, “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”  

HIS LOVE IS ENDURING/LONG-LASTING. He loves me even when I do not feel loved.  He loves me, even when I am sinful and bad.  He loves me in spite of me. Psalm 100:5 says, “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

REACH OUT. Reach out to the Lord always. Call on Him always. Self-dependence gives a false sense of security. Only God will provide the only true security you need.

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UNAFRAID. DON’T BE AFRAID. God is with you, always.   Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

SAFETY.  You are safe in His everlasting arms.  Psalm 91:1-2 says, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

TRIUMPH. God gives the victory. You may carry around wounds and scars from battles against sin. Yet, you are still here. You are still here because God has won the victory for you. He has beaten the devil hands down! You belong to the winning army. Praise God! It’s going to be OK.

Psalm 54:4 says, “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.”

 

Trust Him when your strength is small,

Trust Him when to simply trust Him

Seems the hardest thing of all.

Trust Him, He is ever faithful,

Trust Him, for his will is best,

Trust Him, for the heart of Jesus

Is the only place of rest. – Source Unknown.

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Parenthood

Fiela

Today, we bid farewell to my daughter who is off to college. I do not know how to describe my feelings – a hodgepodge blend of joy and sadness. Joy at the fact my daughter graduated from high school with excellent grades and she acquired a good amount of scholarships to cover all her college tuition! Sadness that she is moving 5 hours away to college. She is daddy’s girl. The thought of her go so far away scares me. Yet, we bring up our children so they can one day leave the nest, right?!

This day of transition in our family has caused me to reflect on my role and journey as a parent. My daughters, Fiela and Tanaka have taught me to be a good parent. Here are a few nuggets I have gathered along regarding parenthood:

  1. Keep your promise.Be reliable. Be a man or woman of your word. Lies and lack of integrity can damage your relationship with your children for a long time. Children can smell phoniness a mile away.
  2. Be There.Participate in the child’s school, church and/or community activities. It means showing up where you need to. Going home to cook and eat dinner with your children.
  3. Believe in your children. The world is full of bullies and naysayers. You need to be your child’s cheerleader. Speak life and hope into your child’s life. If you don’t, who will?
  4. Don’t abuse your children but set parameters. Don’t be the child’s best friend, instead, be the child’s best parent! You do not have to be give in on everything. Build a relationship of trust.
  5. Lead By Example.Whether you know it or not, your children are watching you. Let them see you treat each other well. Let them see you fall in love with Jesus. Don’t just send them to church, go to church together.
  6. Go on Dates.Let the boys know how to treat a woman from you. Let the girls know what a gentleman looks like.
  7. Pray For and With Your Children.Let them see you and hear pray for them. Some people have said, “A family that prays together, stays together.”  (Unknown)
  8. Switch off the TV.Put away the laptop and the phone. Turn off the video games. Go outside and smell the roses. Relationships develop during the personal, one on one times. Don’t miss these opportunities.
  9.  It may seem like a no-brainer but many people think gifts and gadgets are substitutes for love. Love is spelt “T-I-M-E!” The time spent with children is invaluable and priceless.
  10. Don’t just yell orders, stop and listen to them. The feel loved and valued when they are listened to. Keep the communication lines open.

Today, my daughter leaves the nest to start her college journey. I pray and hope we have prepared her for the life challenges ahead. Go with God, my daughter, go with God! “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” – Numbers 6:24-26

Fiela GCU

Are You Lonesome Tonight?

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Loneliness is a sad feeling of lack or loss of companionship. Loneliness is a feeling where a person misses others’ fellowship and friendship. In 2010, the AARP conducted a survey which discovered that 35% of adults were chronically lonely. Another study reflected that close to 20% of Americans (60 million people) experience incessant sadness due to loneliness.

What to do with loneliness:

  • Pray. Ask God for help to overcome the overwhelming dark blanket of loneliness.
  • See a counselor/mentor/coach/discipleship partner.
  • Make efforts to stay connected to your friends, family, and colleagues.
  • Serve others and/or volunteer at church.
  • Write a gratitude list. Count your blessings, and share them with others.

Here are some Bible verses to read when loneliness creeps into your life.

  • “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth … I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:16–18).
  • “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
    “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me” (Psalm 27:10).
  • “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
  • “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
  • “‘For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 54:10).
  • “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears” (Psalm 18:6).
  • “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you’ ” (Isaiah 41:13).
  • “Be strong and of good courage … for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Loneliness

Scriptures for Strength

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Psalm 46:1-3, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.”

Nehemiah 8:10, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Exodus 15:2, “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him— my father’s God, and I will exalt him!”

Psalm 9:9-10, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”

Isaiah 26: 3-4, “Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.”

Psalm 32:7-8, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

Exodus 33:14, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Deuteronomy 31:8, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Psalm 34:17, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.”

The Lord has done great things

Can I Have a Testimony?!

Testimony

Psalm 66:16, “Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a testimony as:

“1a: a solemn declaration usually made orally by a witness under oath in response to interrogation by a lawyer or authorized public official. b: firsthand authentication of a fact EVIDENCE. c: an outward sign. 2a: an open acknowledgment. b: a public profession of religious experience”

As a pastor, I enjoy hearing other people’s stories and testimonies. All of us have unique stories and testimonies of God’s work in our lives. Sharing our testimonies is a powerful act of acknowledging our weaknesses vis-à-vis God’s strength. While most people I meet are willing to share their testimonies to me in a small setting, few people have the courage to publicly share their testimony. Understandably so, public speaking is one of America’s biggest fears! Whether you fear public speaking or not, I want to encourage you to gather some courage to tell others your testimony. Some people have dramatic testimonies, while others think their testimonies are boring and dull. No matter what your story is, your testimony is valid. Your testimony matters. Not all testimonies are made the same.

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Here are some advantages of sharing your testimony:

CHRIST. Testimonies point to Christ. Testimonies show how horrible our lives were before Christ, what Christ did at my conversion, and what Christ is doing in my life today. Testimonies elevate the presence and goodness of Christ.

CONFESSION. Testimonies are vehicles for confession. I am sure most of us have heard the adage, confession is good for the soul. When we testify, we confess our sins, struggles, and failures. When we testify, we acknowledge our failures and our desperate need for God.

CONNECTION. When we testify we connect with others. Often people walk away from hearing a testimony saying something like, I did not know they are struggling like me. I did not know my problems are like theirs. I thought I was the only one struggling with this. I never knew they went through that horrible experience. Testimonies have the power to even the human ground. We soon learn we are all in this together.

CELEBRATION. Testimonies are opportunities to brag about what the Lord has done. Testimonies offer opportunities to celebrate victories – big and small. Testimonies help us look at the bright side of life. Testimonies are vehicles we use to count the blessings. If we look around, there is so much to thank the Lord for.

Testimony 1

A testimony is a public declaration of God’s work in your life. Have you testified of God’s goodness lately? Have you used your testimony to connect with others around? Have you celebrated the small victories in your life? Your testimony could change someone’s life.

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