Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas At Our House

Our Christmas came with a flurry of activity. Between the weather, all the festivities, and conflicting family schedules, we definitely stayed busy enough. David's youth group did a fantastic job at putting on a play enphasising the true meaning of Christmas. Mom and I helped out with a couple of music programs at some elderly homes.

Alicia and Isaiah came home for Christmas, with Isaac. He's growing so fast, and we all loved having them here to make the day just that much more special.
Christmas Eve, we all sat around the fire, while dad read the Christmas story. This year, we were evaluating it to find out the timing of events. Interestingly enough, we've always held to the fact that Jesus was two years old when the wisemen found Him; but really, he wasn't very old. In fact, the whole documented account takes place in less than 40 days, when Jesus was dedicated in the temple.

This year, we just opened family gifts on Christmas, which made it kind of different from other years, but we had a blast!

After a delicious meal, (and even better dessert,)...

...A Christmas ball was on the dockett! Nice to meet all the friends that we generally don't get to see.

What a Christmas! This year, the most precious thing I found was God's grace. Though I've been too tired to join in all the festivities, I have found Strength in my weakness. Truly, what a Friend I have in Jesus. He is precious to those who seek Him, and what better time to spend time with Him than on His celebrated birthday.
Merry Christmas all, and have a blessed New Year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Meaning of Christmas

'Tis a week before Christmas, just look all around,
There is hustle and bustle- so much to be done!

With shopping, and presents, and all Santa's reindeer,
Children, on "winter break," full of "holiday" cheer.

You hear music and laugher but where are the carols?
The songs tell of chestnuts, of snow, and marshmallows.

What happened to Jesus? -He cannot be found.
The meaning's been lost about God's own Perfect Son.

C is for the Christ-child born to bring us peace and light.
H is is for the Herald told by angels on that night.
R is for the Royalty He laid aside for man.
I is for the Incense that was brought by starlit wisemen.
S is for the Sin that would require such a ransom!
(such wretches as we are, we sin so much -and then some)
T is for Temptation; like us, and yet without our sin.
M is for the Men He sought to seek and save and win.
A is for Almighty God who sent His Son in love.
S is for Salvation bought by Jesus Christ's own blood.

This Christmas as you contemplate how much our Lord has done,
Remember now, the meaning's all about the Holy One.

So, as you hustle on with so much this next season,
Keep the Saviour in mind, for He's the real reason.

As you prepare festivities, in all that you do,
Be sure to put Christ first- He came in love for YOU!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Godly Music from God's Perspective

I've had many friends ask me what I believe about music. To be quite honest, I enjoy some more "peppy" tunes every now and then, but it's not my opinion or approvals that matter - it only matters what God thinks about music.
If you look up music in the Bible, you will find many, many, many Scripture passages on music. It is clear that God enjoys music and created it for His glory. Since music is often a "gray area" in churches and organizations, I looked for Scriptures that maybe weren't as common, but are very clear. These are a few of the criteria for Godly Christian music I found. (Please note: I used the KJV because it is the closest to the original languages of Hebrew and Greek.)
In Colossians, we are instructed to let God's Word dwell in our hearts through music. It is also obvious that Paul is talking to Christians. Godly music among Christians should encourage other Christians in God's Word, bring to remembrance the things that God has done, and most of all, bring honor and glory to God. "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Colossians 3:16)
Along those same lines, Psalm 40:3 states that good music causes others see and fear the Lord. It doesn't have the appearance of the world's rock concerts, because they see the difference. They don't just "feel His love", but they fear God. This verse also uses the term "new song". Now, the verse before, David is praising God for bringing Him out of the "miry clay"- a picture of the world. A new song then, would be a song that is different from the world. "And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord."
Even back in the O.T. God talks about good music. "It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord... then the house was filled witha cloud, ...for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God." (2 Chronicles 5:13-14) A classical orchestra and a rock band can use the same instruments, but they sound totally different. The instruments mentioned in this passage could be used for good or bad. The difference? The orchestra and choir were as one; they had a unified sound. All the instruments, and the parts the singers had, worked together to make a melodious, peaceful, God-honoring sound. -And God's presence was so strong, the priests, God's own ministers, couldn't even stand in God's house. Where is that presence today?
There are also a few things that God doesn't want in music:
When God is describing the insincere, careless people in Israel that He would judge in Amos, he mentions those instruments again. Instruments like David's, but apparently not used in a good manner. But then he uses the word "chant". Something said redundantly, repetitively, over and over, and over, and get the point. In Matthew, God refers to "vain repetitions" in prayer. Music is a prayer with notes and sound. God doesn't want empty, repetitive phrases in His music. "That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music like David." (Amos 6:5) "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do..." (Matthew 6:7)
You all know the story of Moses on Mount Sinai, how he wrote the ten commands on two tablets, and then he did what? ...He broke them because of the people's sin. The sin of idolatry, the sin of wanting to be like the world around them. "And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear." (Exodus 32:17-18) As Moses came down the mountain, he ran into Joshua, (his side-kick) and they were confused about the sounds coming from camp. It sounded like war (i.e. chaos, angry, screaming, etc) but yet it didn't sound like victory or defeat, it sounded kind of like... singing? How strange! And that is the noise that accompanied their dancing and idol worship, all what they had learned from the world. Our music should not look like the world, and it definately should not incite sensual desires. Moses was so distraught over the people's returning to worldly ways that he broke the tablets, and the people had awful consequences.
One last verse I would like to share with you,
"For God is King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding." (Psalm 47:7)
Take a look at what God says in His Word, both these verses and others. God didn't mean music to be a "gray area". He created us to praise Him, and He wants us to praise Him with a pure heart. It doesn't matter what you think about music, it doesn't matter what I think; it matters what God thinks. He brought us out of the world to be different from the world and separated unto Him.
Sing with understanding.