Tag Archives: Music

Sibling Love (And Rivalry)

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The stories about Mary and Martha are among my favorites.  These sisters are portrayed in such a human and realistic way.  Martha is obviously an extrovert who is quick to say exactly what’s on her mind.  Mary listens and ponders (typical introvert).  They also have different talents — Martha quickly takes on the tasks of organizing and serving, while Mary sits with the guests and wants to learn from Jesus.  Of course, the crux of the story, the part we always remember is Martha’s cry:

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Tell her then to help me.”  Luke 10:40

I hear this sort of complaint often in the church, where we are also brothers and sisters.  When we take on a task, we want and expect others to help us.  Of course, that isn’t unreasonable, and we should be willing to do our share of the Lord’s work.  However, often we don’t stop to think about the fact that others may simply be using their gifts in a different way.  The member who doesn’t show up at the Yard Sale may be someone who enjoys taking a meals to shut-ins;  the person who refuses to teach Sunday School may be a whiz at fixing things around the building.  Some may even be involved in Christian activity we don’t know about — caring for a sick relative, or working hard in a community organization or spending hours in prayer.  Of course, you probably also remember how Jesus answered Martha:

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things;  one thing is needful;  Mary has chosen the good portion which shall not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:41

The Bible tells us to use our gifts to build up the church, and to be cheerful givers.  It doesn’t tell us to worry about what others are doing.  Sibling rivalry doesn’t help anyone.  If we focus on our own gifts and calling, we won’t feel aggrieved or envious of others;  we’ll be joyful and fulfilled.  We’ll have chosen the needful thing.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Brotherly Love (Philia)

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“But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another . . . but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more’ (I Thess, 4.9, 10).

God himself has undertaken to teach brotherly love; all that men can add to it is to remember this divine instruction and the admonition to excel in it more and more. When God was merciful, when he revealed Jesus Christ to us as our Brother, when he won our hearts by his love, this was the beginning of our instruction in divine love. When God was merciful to us, we learned to be merciful with our brethren. When we received forgiveness instead of judgment, we, too, were made ready to forgive our brethren. What God did to us, we then owed to others. The more we received, the more we were able to give; and the more meagre our brotherly love, the less were we living by God’s mercy and love. Thus God himself taught us to meet one another as God has met us in Christ. ‘Wherefore receive ye one another,”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Kids Today

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Anyone that has teenagers or younger kids probably knows that phones (as it were) are a big part of life. Back in my day . . . our phones were just that, phones. And they weren’t very portable. In fact a lot of them still mounted to the wall. And then there were those that sat on the counter. Still you were limited to the distance of the cord.

But I acquiesce, now its different. There is a world of information at your fingertips. Some good, some bad. Lately I’ve noticed a good trend, a musical one. Many of the games are based on a music. And the music that plays is largely classical. As they tap on the screen in time with the tune they’re immersed in wordless melodies. I think its a wonderful way to re-introduce our next generation to something besides glamour based hip hop. (Not that I haven’t indulged myself on  occasion.) But there is study after study that shows how classical music in particular, has various benefits to our human brains.

Do I know the science of it? Absolutely not. But I know that when I listen to music, something happens. There’s always at least an emotional reaction, and often if it hits home, I get literal chills. Y’all know what I mean right? Everybody has felt it. Everybody has that one song. That has to be God given.

And we may never know why exactly, but God seems to have given us this beautiful gift not solely for entertainment, but in part at least to inspire, and heal. In fact music is so important to God, He created Psalms. A large collection of music mostly written by a beloved warrior king. (I’d love to be able to go back in time to hear how they were originally meant to be heard.)

So while kids today have it pretty good, and technology is scary, God will always want to share His wonders with His children. And that’s pretty cool.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Music

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Blessings

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Michele challenged us a while back to blog about a song that really spoke to our hearts.  I know, I’m just now getting around to this, but I do have many songs that speak to me in so many different ways.  But one song stands out from the rest, “Blessings” by Laura Story.

All of us have times when we wonder if God’s left us.  Life takes a nasty turn and we feel that the Lord has turned his back. When I first heard this song I was struggling to trust the Lord in my situation.  My husband was disabled from a brain tumor and his health was getting worse.  I was still supporting my son and his family, which included two autistic sons.  Sometimes the tension around the house would be thick since my husband and son didn’t always get along and other various things that happen when you mesh two families together.  It was during this time that I first heard the song “Blessings”.  The words struck my heart and found a home there.

After I had heard the song several times I looked up Laura Story and found out that her husband had also had a brain tumor and that was the situation that brought this song about.  That had to be a God thing; her husband had a brain tumor, too?

Here is a quote from Laura Story regarding “Blessings”:

The song shows that we still have more questions than answers. But there’s a decision that I find God is asking us to make. Are we going to judge God based on our circumstances, or are we going to choose to interpret our circumstances based on what we hold to be true about God?

Our circumstances have magnified the blessing of marriage. As high school sweethearts, we faced the strong chance that our long-awaited marriage bond might last just two years. Once you’ve rallied through a life-threatening illness together, the rest of it is like a surprise; every day is a new gift that might not have been there. It’s not as big a deal now if he leaves his socks on the floor.

The words of James 1:2–“Consider it a great joy … whenever you experience various trials”–ring especially true and duly influence the joyful, wisdom-loving tone throughout “Blessings.”

Don’t get the wrong idea. It hasn’t been easy. Everyone wants to be a mature and equipped follower, but would I have signed up had I known what it would take? God has grown us up, deepened our faith, our awareness of our great need for Him as a Savior, daily. We knew it before, but we didn’t see it.

I hope you are as blessed by this song as I continue to be.  Here are the lyrics:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

Chorus:
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

 

A Favorite Psalm

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“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my heart pants for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  Where can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 42:1-2

This is one of my personal favorites.  The beautiful imagery speaks of a desire to know God that is equivalent to thirst.  The deer’s search for water is central to its’ very existence, and our lives depend upon God in the same way.  My study Bible (the Life Application Bible, NIV version) calls Psalm 42 and “antidepressant.”  I agree, it’s a wonderful way to lift up your spirit;  and yes, there is a musical version:

The Case for Christ – Book Review

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I just finished reading the book “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel and I felt I should mention this book to others.  I love reading articles and books that confirm the Bible in history, and Lee Strobel’s book fits that description perfectly.

A movie has been made from this book and I have to tell you that I haven’t seen the movie, yet.  I’m more a book person and will read the book, if available, before I see the movie.  I’m always asked how the movie compared to the book and usually I have to say that there is always more details in the book.

Now, this book is wonderful for anyone who is wanting to include historic facts to their evangelism.  Lee Strobel, who was once an atheist, goes on a quest to prove Jesus didn’t exist.  His wife came home one day and told him she was now a Christian and he had to prove how wrong she was.   Lee, who is a well known investigative reporter, starts interviewing the experts from all over the country, bringing all the questions and doubts that he and others have raised.  At the end of each chapter there is a list of questions for deliberation or for group study.  Lee gives a full list of citations and a topical index at the end for further study.

The book is in three parts: Examining the Record, Analyzing Jesus and Researching the Resurrection.  In each part is the transcripts of his conversations with each expert.  It’s not what I would call an easy read.  While you are reading you need to pay attention to what is being said.  However, the book flows and pulls you into Lee’s quest up to the part where he makes his own decision to follow Christ.

For any skeptics that are reading this I would encourage you to pick up the book or, at least, see the movie.  For the Christians reading this, I would encourage you to read the book so that you can add some of the references to expand your knowledge of Biblical history.

“Ancient Words” a song by Michael W. Smith kept playing in my head once I got about halfway through this book.  Here are the lyrics and a link to hear the song.

“Ancient Words”
Holy words long preserved, For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart, Oh, let the ancient words impart

Words of Life, words of Hope, Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e’er we roam, Ancient words will guide us home

[Chorus:]
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Holy words of our Faith, Handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice, Oh heed the faithful words of Christ

Holy words long preserved, For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart, Oh let the ancient words impart

[Chorus:]
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Here is a youtube video of the  song.  I apologize if there are ads; you can’t get away from them these days:

 

Martin Luther on Music

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Lutherans and Music

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This article, written by my husband, our Pastor was included in the congregation’s December newsletter.  If you would like to read more articles he has written, his blog is goodnewsforabadworld.wordpress.com 

The Lutheran Church has often been called “the singing church.” Prior to the Reformation there was no congregational singing in most worship services. What singing occurred was done by choirs and specially trained cantors. Martin Luther decided to change that and published the first hymnal in German with a number of hymns written by him and by his colleagues in the reform movement.

Luther was, himself, a talented musician who enjoyed playing and singing. His love of music led him to the belief that lay people, many of whom were illiterate at the time, could learn more about the faith by being taught to sing of the doctrines and truths of the Church during regular worship services. While other reformers encouraged only the singing of the Psalms, Luther’s work was much more expansive.

Over time a great tradition of hymnody developed in the Lutheran Churches and this was copied by others, especially in England and in the United States. Now the Church has thousands of hymns to choose from as part of its function as the teacher of the true faith.

It is important for us to maintain this tradition of hymnody. Without it we would, as a Church, be much the poorer. At St, Paul’s we are trying to expand our repertoire of hymns, searching for ones that, while they might be unfamiliar are, indeed, gems that we have yet to unearth.

Unfortunately, not all hymns in our hymnal are gems. Some of them are difficult to play and sing and a very few others have theological problems. When we try one of those less than stellar hymns and it doesn’t work well we have to decide if we’ll keep working on it or just drop it. But it’s a process. In the last 2 years we’ve used over 200 hymns in our worship. Some we’ll see again, some we won’t. But all singing is for the glory of God.

 

Music that Takes You Back

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My mother died just a few days ago, and I started thinking about my childhood — when I was very small, mom would sing to me;  silly songs or popular songs of the late 40’s and early 50’s.  Songs like “How Much is that Doggy in the Window?,”  “Yes, I have no Bananas,” or “Happy Trails to You” take me back to that time. (Does anyone else remember these, or am I just really, really old?)

Music connects us with other times and places.  “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by Ray Charles takes me back to the days of watching American Band Stand as a young teenager;  “Hey, Jude,” (Beatles) “Leaving on a Jet Plane,”(Joni Mitchell) and “I Second that Emotion”(Smokey Robinson) take me back to college days, playing records in the dorm.

There are plenty of hymns and Christian songs that take us back to significant times and seasons in our spiritual journey as well.  As a child, I sang “Jesus Wants me for a Sunbeam” in Sunday School and “Beautiful Savior” in church.  “I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb” recalls singing in the car with my young daughters.  “A Mighty Fortress” is, of course, for Reformation Day; “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” — Advent, “Silent Night” — Christmas, “O Sacred Head Most Wounded”–Lent and “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” — Easter.  For Lutherans, the liturgy is a constant that binds all those songs together as we walk through the birth, life and death of Christ and the seasons of the church year.

Like Michele, I’m going to give our authors and readers a challenge — what song takes you back to an important time in your life with God?  I hope to see some posts and comments about the music that takes you back this month.