I love this little gem from J.S. Bach.
The aim and final reason for all music should be nothing else but the glory of God and the refreshment of the spirit.
Are you taking to time to give God glory? Are you taking the time to refresh your spirit? It’s the busy holiday season. More obligations than you can fit in your calendar. More shopping and cooking than you do any other time of the year. Perhaps it is time to take a moment, be intentional about refreshing your spirit and thanking God for the gift of music.
Working with kids – where do we start?
I wrote a little play for the kids in our church to do this weekend. Yes! We let the kids do the whole church service!! But part of working with kids is just plain wrangling. I find it much easier on me and especially the Crohn’s, to have as little stress as possible. I do the program. Someone else do the crowd control. Please!!
But tonight, before we started practice, I sat down on the floor and invited the kids to sit down with me and we just talked about how awesome it is that they get to do the program and how much God loves them. I shared the secret too. You know, the one about why adults love kids’ programs so much: because they are simple.
Sometimes the best conversations, lessons and presentations are the simplest ones. Like sitting down on the floor with eager kids.
My husband knows how much I love music, so he got me a special gift – a devotional book that has hymns and the stories behind them. I’m loving it.
I have these old journals, I wasn’t very good at writing consistently, but when I was frustrated enough or excited enough, I would write. I’ve got the usual ups and downs of the teen years in there, as well as some poems and songs I wrote. Those poems and songs make more sense, when you read the stories around them.
So it is with these beautiful hymns. They mean so much more when we understand the stories around them. “Now Thank We All Our God,” is a classic hymn to use during the Thanksgiving season, but the history behind it is thanking God for freedom from oppression, namely the Spanish invasion of the Netherlands. The phrase, “The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,” makes a lot more sense now. These people were grateful that Spanish oppression and exile were over and they sang their praises to God.
Take the time to dig a little. Learn some history. See what compelled people to do what they did. See why they couldn’t help but praising God for His goodness.
Our church has adopted a couple of names/contacts from http://www.anysoldier.com. We are working on sending out some care packages and have asked what the troops need and gotten a response. So far, so good.
The difficult part is shipping and filling out that customs form. You can ship this. You can’t ship that. You can’t ship food items and non-food items in the same box. If you ship liquids, pack them in sealed bags so they won’t leak; because if there is a leak, the box will become suspect and won’t be delivered. This is just the beginnings of information I’ve found out from various websites and my local post office expert on shipping to the military. There are special military shipping boxes and the post office will give you a small discount on the regular rate when shipping to military, which is appreciated.
But at some point, one might begin to wonder, is it worth all of that hassle?
It doesn’t take long to answer, it’s worth it! I remember the soldiers that came and folded my dad’s flag and presented it to my mom. I think of my friend in the Navy that sent a camel from Kuwait when my daughter was very ill and in the children’s hospital. I remember walking down to the nearby national guard armory when I lived in Arkansas to wish well our local reservists as they got deployed. I saw mothers and fathers hugging their kids and telling them they would miss them very much.
I’ll write firm enough so it goes through all the copies on that customs form and I’ll make sure the boxes are packed perfectly to meet all criteria and yes, it is worth it!
My youngest son was looking forward to joining “Pathfinders,” a fantastic youth group at our church. They have strict rules about when they take in new pathfinders – once a year and you have to be a particular age and in a particular grade in school. Matthew just missed out. His birthday was a couple months after the deadline date.
That’s so unfair! I’m sure many would cry out for the leaders to have some compassion. But don’t miss this: when Matthew was the right age (and also the right grade), it meant something to him to finally be a pathfinder. He had to wait for it. It wasn’t just anything. He anticipated it.
What has the world of instant gratification done to us that we can’t encourage young people to wait for something great? Better yet, why can’t we encourage young people (folks of all ages actually) to strive for something even thought it might be difficult or challenging to reach the goal?
I saw a movie recently that had one quote in it that I can’t get out of my mind. It’s from the movie, “Listen to Your Heart.”
I’m not going to miss out on something that could be great just cause it might also be hard.
Matthew waited to be a pathfinder, and this youth group asks a lot of him, but it means something to be a pathfinder and he is willing to push himself because he sees that it is something great!
I was recently riding in the car with my husband, after a marriage seminar we presented in Crowley, Texas, when he searched through the radio settings to find a station carrying “the game.” It was the Cowboys and they were sure to lose, but he wanted to listen anyway.
The reception started going bad, so I was going to take over and try to find a new station for him, mostly so he could keep his hands on the wheel and drive! But Karl was fast. He had traveled this route before and once he got closer to Tyler, Texas, he knew right where the station was that carried “the game.”
Christmas is like that. There is this expectancy in the air that something amazing is going to happen. People are more in tune for miracles at Christmas than any other time of the year. I suppose God is extra busy lavishing attention and instruction on people finally willing to listen.
Look around, you’ll see it. People usually too busy to care will actually slow down a little at Christmas time. They take the time to tune in to where God has been speaking and trying to get their attention for some time.
What should you do? Pray for miracles to happen! It’s amazing to see it happen all around you. Christmas is a time of amazing miracles.