Just Duet!

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          She sat on the tailgate of the pickup with her dad in silence.  The hot summer breeze reminded her of opening the oven door when her mom had something cooking in it.  Many things were running through her mind, and her heart was in turmoil.  It was her junior year of college and Liz was close to facing life as an adult.  She had declared her major the year before, but now wrestled with her decision.

She timidly started the conversation with her dad that weighed upon her mind.  “Dad, there is a song that says ‘your desire is the confirmation that the destination is there.’ Do you believe that? Is a strong desire for something God’s way of telling you that’s what you should do?”  Her dad thought for a moment.  “Yes,” he began cautiously. “I think it would be safe to say that. Why?”  “Ok,” thought Liz, “you can do this.”  She proceeded to tell her father that she had no desire whatsoever to pursue a career.  Her innermost yearning was to be a wife and a mother.  “Is that weird?”  “No,” he replied, “in fact there is no higher calling in my opinion.”  Liz breathed a deep sigh. She felt that unseen shackles had just fallen from her heart.
There are many people who fly through life in solo mode.  Some choose this path on their own; others have it thrust upon them.  Many find their lives filled with activities, social events and hobbies.  These distractions are welcomed in order to quiet the sense of loneliness that haunts them.  It is like an ever-present shadow that looms around the corner.  Many hope that the noise of life will drown out the cry of their soul for companionship.  What some fail to realize is that this desire for companionship was created by God.  The first relationship was designed to be with Him; the second was for a mate.

In Genesis we find that God made man in His own image, and that he put man in charge of all creation. Yet even with the world as his playground, man was lonely. He had an audience with the King of Kings, and still he found himself alone.  The God of the universe had compassion on His creation and created a soul mate for him.  Adam was put into a deep sleep and God performed a heavenly surgery.  He took a rib from Adam’s side and created woman. Her name was Eve, and she became the mother of all living. Together these two began life together, tending the garden and caring for God’s creation.

           Then an interesting thing occurred.  They sinned.  Not only were they punished individually for their sin, as some like to point out (or point fingers at), but they were also punished as a couple.  These two people whom God had joined together were indeed one body and soul.  The sins of one affected them as a unit.  Both were cast out of the garden and instructed to till the ground for the rest of their days to provide for themselves.  They were also given another mandate.  “Be fruitful and multiply.”  Adam and Eve were commanded to become parents!

While this may sound like a punishment at this point, it was really God’s way of blessing this wayward couple and all those after them.  It was a way to restore them.  Consider what scripture says.

In Genesis 4:1, it says, “Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, ‘I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.'”

Genesis 15:5, “And He took him outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.'”

Genesis 22:17, “indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.”

Leviticus 26:9, “So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you.”

Deuteronomy 7:12-14, “Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers.  He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you.  You shall be blessed above all peoples; there will be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle.”

Jeremiah 33:22, “As the host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.

1 Timothy 2:15, “But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”

          From obtaining help from the Lord to preserving mankind, God’s word is clear that parenting is His plan for couples. It is one way He chooses to reward and bless His people.
His blessings are also contingent upon our obedience to Him as a couple.  Deuteronomy 4:40 says, “So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”  He further clarifies this in Psalm 128:1-3. “How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways.  When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you.  Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table.”

There are various other passages that show God’s desire for mankind to marry and have children.

Proverbs 17:6, “Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of sons is their fathers.”

Titus 1:6, “namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.”

Titus 2:4,5, “so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

Flying solo is not the biblical plan for people.  There are those rare instances where God does call some to remain celibate, but the purpose of this calling is to serve Him, not themselves.

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Being Under Satan’s Yoke

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Satan called a worldwide convention.  In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, “We can’t keep the Christians from going to church.  We can’t keep them from reading their bibles and knowing the truth. We can’t even keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So, let them go to their churches; let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time so they can’t gain that relationship with Jesus Christ.”

“ This is what I want you to do, angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!”  “How shall we do this?” shouted the angels.  “Keep them busy in the nonessentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds.” he answered.  “Tempt them to spend, spend, spend and borrow, borrow, borrow. Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6– 7 days a week, 10–12 hours days, so they can afford their empty lifestyles.  Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon their home will offer no escape from the pressures of work! Over stimulate their minds so they cannot hear that still, small voice. Entice them to play the radio whenever they drive. To keep the TV, VCR, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their homes and see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ. Fill their coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Stuff their mailboxes with junk mail,mail ordercatalogs, sweepstakes and every kind of newsletter and promotion offering free products, services and false hopes. Keep skinny, beautiful models on the magazines so the husbands will believe that external beauty is what’s important and they’ll become dissatisfied with their wives. Ha! That will fragment those families quickly!”

“Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted and unprepared for the coming week. Don’t let them go out in nature to reflect on God’s wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead.  Keep them Busy, Busy, Busy!  And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions. Go ahead, let them be involved in soul winning, but crowd their lives with so may good causes they have no time to seek powerfrom Jesus. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and families for the good of the cause. It will work!”

It was quite a convention. The evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busy here and there. I guess the question is: Has the devil been successful at his scheme?

You be the judge.

Have you been BUSY?

— Author Unknown

Follow Your Heart

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Follow your heart is a familiar phrase, but exactly what does it mean or imply? On the surface it seems mundane or just a familiar way to express the pursuit of one’s dreams. We hear such statements at college graduations or when advice is sought from loving and concerned family members to children or grand-children. We hear it when advice is sought in dating or marriage, and what college to attend or career to pursue. But the question is just what does this organ, our heart, have to do with our thoughts or decisions anyway? After all, we all know that simple phrases such as “follow your heart” are simply ways to acknowledge that our decisions that we deem as good are good. We also imply that all choices are completely our own and no one has a right to impede on them. There is also the philosophy that one person’s choices are equal to everyone else’s and are to be respected as much. But let’s slow down a bit. This last sentence changes the implication of the statement ‘follow your heart”.

Let’s look first at what it means to follow your heart.
First let me state the obvious. It is not speaking about the organ but about the core or spirit of man; the inner man is to be trusted. We teach our children. We love our children. We embrace our children, thus how can someone whom we love with such affection be anything but pure at heart. No parent ever dreams that their son or daughter would be a murderer. Nor would anyone we’ve loved steal from us or embezzle thousands, even millions, from innocent hard working families. The idea is that even politicians, at their heart, truly mean good. No school teacher would genuinely determine to do harm or be vindictive toward a student. They all at their heart want the best for others. Hospitals and doctors would never recommend unnecessary procedures or surgeries for their own gain, after all, we like, we trust our doctors because at their heart, they all want the best for us.

Now let’s look at man’s heart itself.
Many would say that with such a sarcastic, untrusting view I must live a horribly miserable life or that I don’t trust anyone. And I would say quite the opposite. When I hear the phrase trust or follow your heart, I don’t consider others first; I look at my own heart and say it is deceived. I have come to believe that there is no good in me, and I am untrustworthy for I am a man that came from men who have proven from generation to generation that the scripture is true.
Jeremiah17:9 states, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Then in Jeremiah 17:5 it reads, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord.’”

Finally we need to ask, “What or who is to be trusted?”
If words matter and truth is a reality, then we must be forced to change the statement “Follow Your Heart” to something that will not lead us astray. Romans 3:10-12 shows us that man is not trustworthy. “As it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.’” So man’s only hope is not to follow his own heart, but to follow the heart of the One who proved He is trustworthy. Let’s conclude this thought with Proverbs 3:5-8, and may we consider how we inspire others.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8

Pastor John R. Smith

Youth Groups Driving Teens to Abandon Faith

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A new study might reveal why a majority of Christian teens abandon their faith upon high school graduation. Some time ago, Christian pollster George Barna documented that 61 percent of today’s 20-somethings who had been churched at one point during their teen years are now spiritually disengaged. They do not attend church, read their Bible or pray.

Read more…

The Socially Acceptable Sin

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Most Christians today like to say that all sins are “equal” in the eyes of God, that there is no scale of less or worse sins, that a white lie or a homicide alike would have been enough to require Christ to die on the cross. We say this in theory, but in practice, we know that a white lie won’t get you kicked off the church leadership team. And a homicide likely will.

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BASIC TIPS FOR WORSHIP KEYBOARD PLAYERS

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BASIC TIPS FOR WORSHIP KEYBOARD PLAYERS

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I love reading articles on how to enhance my playing/leading for worship. Here is a quick reference for those transitioning from classical style playing to playing with a band.

  1. Set up where you can always see the face of your worship or band leader. Signals and communication will be much more intuitive
  2. Don’t just stick to piano sounds. Pads, Rhodes, Whirly, Hammond, strings. Variety is the spice girls of music.
  3. You are playing in the same sonic spectrum as the lead guitarist so try to hear what each other is playing and work together, combine rhythms, you play low, they play high, you play chords, they play lead, take turns etc. If you can’t hear them at least watch their fingers for the rhythms they play.

Cont. reading…

My Eyes Are Dry

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Sometimes an honest look inside is needed to get us back where we should be.  For quite a while I have felt dry, barren, empty.  Very much like parched earth in desperate need of water.  Good deeds will not soften a heart in this condition nor will church attendance nor bible reading.

Jeremiah 2:13 says, “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”

The remedy for a dry soul can only be found in Jesus Christ.  We cannot fix ourselves or rehydrate our spirits.  Every attempt will only leave us in worse condition than before.  Keith Green was one of the most annointed song writers I have heard in my life.  His words penetrate into the depths of my soul to bring rejoicing and repentance.  The song “My Eyes Are Dry” is the cry of my heart today.

My eyes are dry, my faith is old
My heart is hard, my prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to You and dead to me

Oh what can be done for an old heart like mine
Soften it up with oil and wine
The oil is You, Your Spirit of love
Please wash me anew in the wine of Your Blood