Inspirational Christian Blogs

Join us for inspiring words from today's best Christian authors


Leave a comment

Ethel Waters

images[7]When I was sixteen-years-old I attended a Billy Graham evangelistic crusade in Winnipeg, Manitoba that profoundly changed my life.  Of course, the world-famous articulate and persuasive ministry of the great evangelist, anointed by the Holy Spirit, was enough to make an indelible mark on my life forever.  Even though I had given my life to the Lord at the early age of four, I was totally awed by the thousands of people who thronged forward to make decisions to follow Jesus.  In addition, I will never forget watching Mr. Graham’s pianist, Tedd Smith, warming up on the keyboard and accompanying the crusade choir made up of men and women from many churches.  I thrilled to the voice of George Beverly Shea and enjoyed Cliff Barrows’ congregational song leading.  The whole experience left me in awe.

But the one thing that literally moved me to tears, and I shall never forget the experience, was a sweet, elderly African-American woman by the name of Ethel Waters, who sang “His Eye Is On the Sparrow”.  She prefaced the song with, “Listen, children….”, and from the first line, “Why should I feel discouraged...” which she articulated with such a nuance of feeling, tears began to come to my eyes!  As she proceeded through several choruses of, “I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free; His eye is on the sparrow; And I know He watches me!”  with the mass choir singing along in the background, I really thought I might be raptured at any moment!  The sheer ecstasy of the whole performance left me feeling like I had been sitting at Jesus’ feet.  It wasn’t even that her voice was the most elegant or dynamic that I had ever heard, but the fact she was able to project to her audience something we all felt way down deep in our souls, that intangible quality that literally brought us into the presence of God!  It was definitely the anointing of the Holy Spirit!

Ethel Waters didn’t always use her talents to sing anointed songs of praise and worship to God.  In fact, she didn’t surrender her life to the Lord until she was in her late 50′s.  She was born in Pennsylvania around the turn of the century, the unwanted product of a rape!  Her mother, Louise Anderson, was raped at knife point when she was only thirteen years old by a middle class mixed-race pianist and family acquaintance by the name of John Waters.  Raised in poverty by her grandmother, Ethel grew up in the slums of Philadelphia and neighboring cities, seldom living anywhere for more than a few weeks at a time.  She later recollected in her autobiography,  His Eye Is On the Sparrow, “No one raised me; I just ran wild.  I never was a child.  I never was cuddled, or liked, or understood by my family.”  She married at age 13 but soon left her abusive husband and became a maid in a Philadelphia hotel working for $4.75 a week.

However, God had His hand on Ethel.  She soon began singing and dancing, as well as performing at church functions.  In 1917 she made her debut on the black vaudeville circuit and performed in Harlem nightclubs in the 1920′s.  Soon she entered the “white time” vaudeville circuit, becoming one of America’s most celebrated and highest-paid entertainers.  At New York City’s “Cotton Club” she introduced what would become one of her #1 hits on the Billboard charts, “Stormy Weather”.  She wrote of her performance, “I was singing the story of my misery and confusion, the story of the wrongs and outrages done to me by people I had loved and trusted.” Later Irving Berlin, impressed by her soulful performance of this song, wrote “Supper Time”, a song about a lynching, for Ethel to perform in a Broadway revue.  She became the first African-American star of a national radio show, was cast several times as a dramatic actress on Broadway and in the movies, and had three of her recordings inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Still, with all of her success, and even a wonderful husband whom she married in 1938, Ethel knew something was missing!  In the late 1950′s Ethel walked down that famous aisle in a Billy Graham crusade and gave her life to Christ!  Her life was never the same! After becoming a born-again Christian, she dedicated the remainder of her life, until her death in 1977, to touring with and singing at many of the Billy Graham crusades, as well as recording several albums of sacred music for Word Records.  Her life was transformed by the power of Jesus Christ!

Talented musicians have always made a deep impression on me, but for this sixteen-year-old girl sitting in that audience so many years ago, the anointing and impact of the music of Ethel Waters would never leave.  God used her to bless a teenager who decided to use her talents in the same way to influence many for Christ!  I hope to see her and share her music in Heaven one day!


Leave a comment

Did God Invent “Selfies”?

selfie[1]We live in an undisputed digital age, the likes of which has never before occurred in the history of mankind!  We as “social media conscious” humans enjoy taking “selfies” to share with our friends and colleagues, “tweeting” about our latest conquests or lack of them, “posting” our latest adventures complete with pictures, and generally using our online connections to gratify our need for social acceptance and personal validation.  There is not necessarily anything wrong with this…society accepts this fact and we comply accordingly!  If we are tired of our “selfie” we change it!  If we are bored we “post”!  If we need a pat on the back or a compliment, we brag in a cute way!  You know the old adage, “He who tooteth not his own horn, the same shall not be tooted!”  Well, at least it makes us feel better in some sort of way!

But, did you know that God was the original inventor of the “selfie”?  Well, if you don’t believe me, just read what the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:19, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”  (KJV)

Of course, you may say, that means to speak to one another in a corporate setting such as the local congregation.  But wait!  Could it be that God knew we needed to speak some things to OURSELVES first before we could share them with someone else?  Could it be that we needed to reinforce the goodness of God, His provision for us, His blessings in our lives, to OURSELVES so we could really get these facts into our spirits?  Perhaps He really did invent the original “SELFIE”!

Yes, I understand that we are not to be “self-centered” or “narcissistic”, a word derived from the Latin “Narcissus”, a legendary young person from Greek mythology who was constantly looking at his reflection in a pool of water and was turned into the narcissus flower!  We know that in order to be totally fulfilled and happy in Christ we must look outwardly, not inwardly to ourselves all of the time.  We must put God first, then others, and in many ways, ourselves last.  As the old song says, “Jesus and Others and You, what a wonderful way to spell J-O-Y!”  Have you ever known a person who was always unhappy, feeling sorry for himself and seemingly going through endless trials and disappointments in his life, simply because he had never learned to look outside of himself and see how he could be a blessing to someone else probably suffering much more badly than himself?  This is very true and a principle of life! We gain joy by giving of ourselves to others and getting our minds off of our own problems!

However, having said that, could it be that God wants us to look “inward” and “speak to ourselves” for just a moment or two about His love, power, goodness, mercy, grace, forgiveness, healing, abundance, and on and on, so that we actually may “convince” ourselves that this is true?  It is like programming a computer in many ways.  We must first program our minds to think correctly about the Word and what we have been given through Christ!  We must first convince ourselves that He is good, that He is Lord, that He is sovereign, that He is in control in every area of our lives BEFORE we can truly worship Him in spirit and in truth; before we can truly share His love with another; before we can be a blessing to those we come in contact with; before we can spread the truth of the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ!

So, why not take just a moment today to speak to YOURSELF in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, meditating and singing about His love, goodness, power and greatness!  After you have finished doing this then SHARE this love with someone nearby.  Then you can share with “one another”, collectively “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Ephesians 5:20, ESV)  Yes, our praise is directed TO and FOR our Lord not only for what He has done for us, but for who He is!  But, do you suppose maybe we first have to speak to OURSELVES, just like we need that occasional picture “selfie” that makes us feel so special, in order to convince our minds that He really is good and His mercy endures forever?  Looking “inward” in reflective self-examination and introspection is not always a bad thing!  I think that God knew we needed this when He made Ephesians 5:19 a part of Holy Scripture!  Think about this the next time you post that “selfie”!


2 Comments

Love to Worship- Spoken Word

This is a video from Dillon Chase. I thought it was great, so I’m sharing it with all of you! :)

-Austin 

 


3 Comments

The Story of “Silent Night”

The beautiful and much-loved Christmas carol, “Silent Night”, has a very interesting story behind it….I thought you might enjoy hearing how this most famous carol came to be written!

The year was 1818 and a roving band of actors was traveling through the Austrian Alps performing their re-enactment of the story of Christ’s birth in towns all over the area. On December 23 they arrived at Oberndorf, a village near Salzburg, where they were scheduled to perform that evening in the small Church of St. Nicholas.

Unfortunately, the church organ was broken and unable to be repaired until after Christmas. Undeterred, the acting company simply moved their Christmas drama to a private home. In attendance that evening was assistant pastor of the church, Josef Mohr. The beautiful presentation put him in a meditative mood, and instead of walking straight home that night, he took a longer route which included a quiet path up a hill overlooking the village below. As he looked down from the hilltop on the peaceful, snow-covered village, he reveled in the majestic silence of the wintry night and gazed upon the picturesque winter scene, remembering a poem he had written a couple of years before about the night the angels announced the birth of the long-awaited Messiah to shepherds on another hillside far away in Judea.

Mohr decided that the words he had written might make a good carol for his congregation the following evening at their Christmas eve service. The only problem was he had no music to which the poem could be sung! So the next day Pastor Mohr went to see the church organist, Franz Gruber. The organist had only a few hours to compose a melody for Mohr’s poem, and due to the fact the organ was inoperable, he had to come up with an extremely simple melody and chord pattern that could be sung with a guitar! Gruber managed to do just that, and by the time of the Christmas eve service, he had composed a simple but beautiful musical setting for the poem, one which could easily be sung by the common people and whose accompaniment could easily be strummed on the guitar. They had just introduced a Christmas carol that could be sung without an organ!

On that Christmas Eve in 1818, the congregation heard for the very first time the beautiful carol, “Silent Night”, sung by Gruber and Mohr to the accompaniment of Gruber’s guitar!

Weeks later, when the organ builder Karl Mauracher arrived to repair the organ, he heard Gruber play his composition as he tested out the newly refurbished instrument. Deeply impressed by the beautiful, melodious carol, Mauracher took copies of the music and words to “Silent Night” back to his own Alpine village of Kapfing. Two well-known singing families, the Rainers and the Strassers, heard and were captivated by the beautiful new song, putting it into their Christmas season repertoires.

The Strasser sisters spread the carol across northern Europe. In 1834, after they performed it for King Frederick William IV of Prussia, he ordered his cathedral choir to sing it every Christmas eve! Twenty years after it was written, the Rainers brought “Silent Night” to the United States, singing it (in German) at the Alexander Hamilton Monument located outside of New York City’s Trinity Church.

In 1863, “Silent Night” was translated into English from the original German, and today the words of “Silent Night” are sung in more than 300 different languages around the world!

The original German lyrics go something like this:

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,

Alles schlaft, einsam wacht;

Nur das traute heilige Paar,  Holder Knab im lockigten Haar;

Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh’,  Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh’.

Did God in His sovereignty allow a simple church organ to “break down” and be out of commission at a most important time so that someone would compose a simple song, one that ordinarily would not be thought of as nearly complex enough for the traditional organ masterpieces of the day, that would be sung around the world as a best-loved rendition of His birth? Did God anoint two men who were moved by the events recorded in Matthew and Luke to write perhaps the most famous of the carols that are sung all over the world to this day? I believe He did! I am thankful that they were obedient to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to pen the words and music that will go down in history as one of the greatest songs ever written:

Silent night, Holy night,

All is calm, all is bright;

‘Round yon virgin, mother and child, Holy infant so tender and mild;

Sleep in Heavenly peace, Sleep in Heavenly peace.

Silent night, Holy night,

Shepherds quake at the sight; 

Glories stream from Heaven afar; Heavenly hosts sing, “Allelujah”;

Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!

May we remember the true meaning of the season as we celebrate His birth! Be blessed as you worship Christ the newborn King and, if you have not done so, why not allow Him to enter your life today as your Lord and Savior! I wish you all a Blessed Christmas and wonderful New Year filled with the wonders of His Love!


3 Comments

An Amazing Story About Handel

Do you sometimes feel discouraged as a musician or composer?  Do you perhaps feel that no one really wants to hear your “stuff”, but it is just an uphill battle to get something noticed, let alone published?  Of course, this could apply to other areas of life, as well, not just in the musical realm, but musicians are notoriously “melancholy” in temperament (look it up if you are not familar with this word!) and can be on  the proverbial “Cloud 9″ one day and down in the dumps, lower than the ground, the next!  Often their moods depend on external situations, for they tend to overemphasize the negative in a given situation.

In the music realm (because this blog is primarily about music matters), it is true that countless great, talented musicians go largely unnoticed while seemingly less-talented people “make it” in the music scene because they were “discovered” byt the right person or label.  Sometimes this can be disheartening.  I have a friend in Texas who is a very successful writer of contemporary praise and worship songs.  If I mentioned his name, you would no doubt be familiar with his songs, which are sung all over the world in most churches.  However, there was a time when he was a “nobody” and a worship leader at a small church close to where I lived.  He had written a song that got “picked up” by one of the hottest contemporary singers on the planet; a well-known publisher of praise and worship songs took notice, and the rest is history!  Now everything he writes turns to “gold” in the business, as they say.  Were his previous songs not any good?  Did this mean he was a better writer than many, many other Christian songwriters?  Or, was it, perhaps, God’s time for his ministry to come forth?  As he and I talked, we both agreed that was the case!  God has a timing for each musician to come forth and fulfill the destiny He has planned for them…if we will be patient!

     Now here is an amazing story that I’ll bet you didn’t know; it’s about the great composer George Frederick Handel, who wrote the music to “Messiah” which debuted in Dubln, Ireland in 1742.  Just a couple of years ago a unique video of mall “shoppers” (who were really musicians planted in the crowd) singing this wonderful oratorio’s (a sacred opera) signature piece, “The Hallelujah Chorus”,  went viral and has now been seen by nearly 50 million people around the world!  I am sure you are familiar with the “Messiah” because at Christmas it is presented countless times in locations worldwide.  What you probably didn’t know is “the rest of the story” about Handel, an amazing example of God’s love and timing!

Born in Germany in 1685, he always had an aptitude for music.  Although his father wanted him to study law, he was more interested in music.  His mother bought him a harpsichord which they secretly kept in the attic away from his father.  Handel wrote his first work at the age of twelve and studied music at the University of Halle in his hometown in Germany.  In 1712 he moved to England where he experienced some success with his various compositions, including operas, concertos and other instrumental works, but ultimately was faced with financial failure which threatened to overwhelm him.  His occasional commercial successes soon met with financial disaster and as he drove himself relentlessly to recover from one failure after another, his health also began to fail.  By 1741 he was swimming in debt and it seemed certain he would land in debtors’ prison.

But, God had not forgotten George Frederick Handel!  That same year became the turning point for him when his close friend, Charles Jennens, gave him a libretto (a text) for a sacred work.  It was essentially 73 Bible verses focusing on the prophecies concerning, and the coming of, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, both from the Old and New Testaments.  A charity in Dublin paid him to write something for a charity performance, and for 24 days Handel barely ate as he worked almost constantly composing this beautiful work we know as the “Messiah”!  In fact he told a friend he could barely keep up with the notation as the melodies and ideas flowed from within, directly from God Himself!  At one point, the composer had tears in his eyes and cried out to his servant, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself!”  He had just finished writing the “Hallelujah” chorus.   Every word was from the Bible, 42 verses from the Old Testament and 31 from the New Testament.  Finally, the day Handel had waited for arrived and “Messiah” was first performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742!  It was very successful, the proceeds of which, it is said, freed 142 men from debtors’ prison!

So, out of this genius’s pain and despair, seemingly the low point of his life, came a work of beauty and praise to his Creator, the likes of which have never been surpassed!  Handel could never have dreamed how this beautiful work would continue to uplift and bless millions of people the world over for centuries to come.  One man put it this way:  “Handel was a relentless optimist whose faith in God sustained him through every difficulty.”  Remember, God has a perfect time for everything, including bringing your ministry forth at a time when He will gain the most glory!  Be encouraged this day, my friend!


1 Comment

The Story of Paul and Silas

There were a couple of preachers mentioned in the Book of Acts named Paul and Silas. Of course, most of us have heard of the Apostle Paul and his fearless preaching of God’s Word even in the face of great persecution! Less well known, is his partner, Silas, who participated in several of Paul’s adventures in ministry to the Early Church. Paul and Silas were not too interested in being “politically correct”! When they cast out a demonic spirit from a young girl who had been used by her wicked masters as a fortune teller, the masters became extremely angry because she could no longer bring in the money they were used to collecting from her services. When these evil men saw that all hope of gain from her services was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, drew them into the marketplace before the magistrates and brought them up on false charges. The magistrates, urged on by the violent mob, tore off the apostles’ clothes and commanded they be severely beaten with rods and cast into prison! The jailor promised to keep them from escaping, thrusting them into the inner chambers of the prison, and binding their feet fast in the stocks. (Read the entire account in Acts 16:16-24)

So, what did Paul and Silas do? Did they begin to complain and cry out about being falsely accused and the harsh treatment they were forced to undergo for the cause of Christ? Did they try to contact the Church leaders and circulate petitions for their immediate release? Did they weep and wail to God, asking Him to explain to them why they were forced to endure such horrible pain and suffering? You and I might have done this, but the Word of God says in verse 25, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” Evidently they made a great noise with their prayer and praise meeting!

Apparently, God heard it, too, and was pleased with their praises and worship to Him. It seems He began tapping His foot along with their praise songs, because the Word says in verse 26, “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.” (KJV) When God gets ready to release you from your bondage, nothing on earth can stop Him! God can work in amazing ways to confound even wicked leaders! I believe we have been seeing some of this lately in our own country! Remember the Tower of Babel, where God did not allow wicked men to prevail and confounded their languages?

Getting back to Paul and Silas, verse 27 says that the keeper of the prison, awakening out of a sound sleep, was ready to kill himself with his sword when he saw the prison doors open and all the prisoners’ bands loosed! “But Paul cried with a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” (Acts 16:28, ESV) The result of their obedience to the law and not just escaping caused the jailor to ask them, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’” (verses 30 and 31, ESV) Paul and Silas spoke the word of the Lord to him and all that were in his house! Then the jailor washed and cleaned up their bloodied backs from the beating, and he was baptized, along with his household! He also gave them supper in his own house and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. (verses 32 – 34) The next day the magistrates came and publicly apologized to the apostles, letting them out of the prison and asking them to leave the city. (verses 35-39)

Wow, what an amazing story! Just another day in the life of the Apostle Paul? Or is there a deeper truth for us today from this story? Could it be that God wants us as His children to offer Him the sacrifice of praise and worship even when we are faced with extreme difficulty in our lives, wickedness in our leadership, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles? Does it sometimes seem that all of our prayers are futile? God sees all and in His sovereignty can deliver us out of even the most extreme persecution if need be. Sometimes He doesn’t deliver us from it, but allows us to go through it, to show His power, delivering us out of severe pain and suffering as we praise and worship Him in the midst of it, just as Paul and Silas did!

What a beautiful lesson of God’s deliverance and power in the lives of His servants!


2 Comments

Was Lucifer a Musician? (Part 2)

Yesterday, I detailed the warning prophecy given by the prophet Ezekiel in chapter 28 of his book. If you did not get a chance to read this post, please do so before reading the rest of Part 2! It is important for continuity.

As I mentioned, Ezekiel 28:11-19, often attributed to a description of Lucifer, was actually a lamentation directed towards the King of Tyre, inhabited by the Israelite tribe of Asher. Wondering if there was actually any correlation between this prophecy and this description of Lucifer we have referred to for centuries, I went online and found the following written in the 1700′s by Jonathan Edwards, the fiery revivalist preacher and pioneer of the Reformed Church, as well as a major figure in the First Great Awakening. He writes the following of this passage: “Satan, or Lucifer, or Beelzebub, being the archangel…conceived rebellion against the Almighty and drew away a vast company of the heavenly hosts with him….This angel, before his fall, was the chief of all the angels, of greatest natural capacity, strength, and wisdom, and highest in honour and dignity, the brightest of all those stars of heaven, as is signified by what is said of him, under that type of him, the king of Babylon (Isaiah 14:12), ‘How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!’ This signifies his outshining all the other stars, as the morning star outshines the rest. It is yet more manifest from what is said of the king of Tyrus (Tyre), as a type of the devil, in Ezekiel 28:12-19….It is exceeding manifest that the king of Tyrus is here spoken of as a type of the devil, or the prince of the angels or cherubim that fell. Because he is here expressly called an angel or cherub, once and again, Ezekiel 28:14, 16…and is spoken of as a fallen cherub. He is spoken of as having been in heaven under three different names; Eden (the Garden of God or Paradise of God) – v. 13; the Holy Mountain of God – v. 14, 16; and the Sanctuary – v. 18.

“He is spoken of as in his first estate, or the state wherein he was created, to be perfectly free from sin, but afterwards falling by sin (v. 15)….The iniquity by which he fell was pride….He is represented as being cast out of heaven, and cast down to the earth for his sin. (v. 16, 17)”

So, I am convinced that this portion of Ezekiel is not only directed against Tyre, but also depicts in a sort of allegorical way, a picture of Lucifer, whom we also know as Satan. The name Lucifer literally means “morning star” in Latin, or “light-bearing“. No wonder Jesus actually saw him fall from Heaven as lightning!

In Ezekiel 28:13 we not only read of the ten precious stones that covered him, but of the workmanship of his timbrels and pipes. Isaiah 14:11 says, “Your pomp is brought down to Sheol (or the grave), and the sound of your stringed instruments….” (NKJV)

These verses list instruments from all three of the musical families: The timbrels (or tambourines) are a part of the percussion family; the pipes are indicative of woodwinds, brass and flutes; stringed instruments (also translated harps) include the violin family, guitars and pianos. It seems to me that Lucifer could have actually been a musical instrument!! Not only could he play an instrument, but the Word speaks of the workmanship of his timbrels and pipes; then it mentions the sound of your stringed instruments.

Wow! Does this send chills down your spine? Is it any wonder that Lucifer (Satan) controls the music of the world and is called the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience….” (Eph. 2:2, NKJV)? It is fairly obvious when one observes the music being lewdly performed on the stage, TV, and on the airwaves that the majority of the latest “hot” trends derive themselves from the basest of desires, ultimately having roots in Satan’s musical kingdom. Most of the popular hip-hop, rock and rap groups claim some sort of allegiance to the darker side, including the occult, profanity, disrespect for authority, indulgence in sexual appetites and promiscuity and complete and utter abandonment of God and His principles. Who else could be behind this music but Lucifer, the brightest of the archangels and chief of the musicians and worship leaders in Heaven? He hates God and all He represents so much so that after he was cast out of His presence, he determined to spend his remaining days deceiving people, especially musicians, into making music that is as anti-God as possible. And he is pretty good at his job!

Does he try to influence Christian musicians and worship leaders, as well? The answer, unfortunately, is yes, if they allow him to gain access to their minds and talents. Petty jealousy and vying for authority, the exact same things that got Satan thrown out of Heaven, run rampant among church musicians and worship leaders today just as they did when Satan and one-third of the angels were cast out of Heaven thousands of years ago. If musicians who love God give into the work of the Enemy, they also can fall prey to his deceptive voice speaking things such as, “Why aren’t you in charge of the music around here?”; “Why is that person up there playing and not you? You’re more talented than they are!”; “Who does he think he is, coming in here and ruining your starring role on stage?”; ”Show her who’s in charge around here…don’t let her up here to perform!” Sound comical? Sadly, often times these ideas often dominate church music programs. They also hinder the work the Holy Spirit desires to perform through worship.

Competition, envy and jealousy have no place in a church, not in the pastor’s role, nor in the music minister or worship leader’s, nor in the musicians who regularly lead worship. These are things we must guard against, even while realizing who our Enemy is, a disgruntled musician named Lucifer, who has made it his lifelong task to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) and often tries his best to do it through music! Let’s take authority over any spirits of strife, jealousy, envy or competition in the music and worship department and let the Holy Spirit move in freedom and power to change lives and transform hearts!


2 Comments

How to Influence Your Child for God!

Last week I shared about the birth of my new granddaughter and concluded by mentioning that this week in a “Part Two” post I would give some ideas for parents on how they can create a God-centered environment in the home, conducive to worship, and ultimately instrumental in bringing a young child to the point where he or she will make a personal decision for Christ!

As way of personal testimony, I will never forget how at the age of four my father, a Godly man who later entered into full-time ministry, asked me pointedly, “Becky, have you ever asked Jesus into your heart?” It seemed natural to me at the time, as I had been exposed since the cradle to Christian music, Bible stories and a church that was preaching the Gospel! I had even sung solos publicly; my whole life, largely because of the influence of my parents, centered around the Lord, ministry for Him and the music ministry He was calling me into! But, I remember thinking to myself that I really had not specifically asked Jesus into my heart, so I told my dad I would like to. I knelt at a little rocking chair in my younger brother’s nursery (I remember this vividly to this day!) and prayed a simple, childlike prayer of repentance and acceptance of Jesus as my Savior. I used my own words, but my dad remained with me to encourage me, and I knew fully well what I was doing. That is my simple story of conversion, not very dramatic, as some who have been delivered from lives of crime, drugs, immorality and the horrible effects of their sinful lifestyles, but, nonetheless, it is the way it happened and I have never looked back. Oh, there have been times when I have not been as close to the Lord as I should have been and strayed a bit from the straight and narrow path, but He never abandoned me and always accepted my prayers of true repentance. I know my salvation is assured through Christ’s blood!

Here are some ideas I have thought about that will encourage a Godly atmosphere for your child….

1. Purchase or download some worship DVD’s and CD’s that your baby or young child can watch and listen to daily during active hours, rest times and even while falling asleep. There are so many wonderful resources available for young children that are “age appropriate” and will keep their attention, while helping them focus on Jesus and their worship of Him. Even infants and small children retain much of this in their subconscious which will go with them through life. Also, their memories at this age are the best they will ever be and concepts taught before the age of seven or eight years old remain intrinsically in the brain for life! That is why it is so important to plant seeds of life and hope in Christ in a young child’s mind. If a parent constantly exposes their young children to secular rock, rap, hip-hop and other genres that are not Biblically-based, these are the things the young child will want to hear throughout his life; it will largely be all he or she knows. This is very sad! I observed this during my teaching of private voice lessons to young children. Much of the music some brought to sing was appalling and totally age-inappropriate. I could not blame the child, but rather the parent, for allowing such filth into their home. If you are guilty of listening to music or watching TV programs that blaspheme God, degrade people with foul language, glorify immoral lifestyles, or anything else contrary to the Scriptures, get these things out of your home! Trust me, children pick up on these things faster than you think!

2. Read children’s Bible stories, chapters from an easy-to-understand version of the Bible, classics from literature and the animal world, and other types of books to your child. My mother read to me from a Bible story book from the time I was a baby and I still remember these accounts from the Word of God as if it were yesterday. Encourage your child to memorize Scripture. I remember memorizing many verses and short chapters from the Word, particularly the Psalms, Gospels and Epistles, as a young girl attending Christian Day School; these passages have stuck with me my whole life! Amazing! This just proves that the things you put in a child’s mind first stay with him or her the longest.

3. Enroll your child in some type of private music lessons by the time they are five or six years old, if possible, depending on the maturity of the child.  Piano is a good basic instrument to start with and, will serve as a good basis for another instrument of his or her choice later on down the road. Expose your child to great classical music, as well. I began piano lessons at age four with my mother, and later transferred to a professional music studio at age seven. Some children are not ready that early, but nearly all of them can sing, so some form of private or group vocal lessons is appropriate, if not group keyboard lessons. Check with local studios in your area; you may be surprised what is available now for very young children!

4. Finally, “live the life” in front of your child! Don’t just preach to them, quote scripture and tell them the right way to go; show them by your life! I believe we as parents and grandparents can have a tremendous impact on our children. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when is old he will not depart from it.” (ESV) May God give us all the faith and courage to do this!


3 Comments

Hillsong: The Stand

Hillsong

“The Stand”

You stood before creation

Eternity in your hand
You spoke the earth into motion
My soul now to stand

You stood before my failure
And carried the cross for my shame
My sin weighed upon your shoulders
My soul now to stand

So what could I say?
And what could I do?
But offer this heart, Oh God
Completely to you

So I’ll walk upon salvation
Your spirit alive in me
This life to declare your promise
My soul now to stand

So what could I say?
And what could I do?
But offer this heart, Oh God
Completely to you

I’ll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the one who gave it all
I’ll stand
My soul Lord to you surrendered
All I am is yours


6 Comments

Some Thoughts on my New Granddaughter

I took a break from blogging for a couple of months so I could assist my daughter and be present for the birth of my newest granddaughter! This beautiful little girl makes number six…I have five other adorable grandchildren, three girls and twin boys…but this was my daughter’s first baby and you know how mothers through the centuries have traditionally helped their daughters after they gave birth. So, I spent a lot of time in Texas and had lots of time getting to know my sweet little Margaret Nicole! She was named for my late mother (her great grandmother, who sadly passed away before my daughter ever got to meet her) and our beautiful cousin who was tragically killed in a fall while hiking in the mountains.

Little Margaret (Maggie) actually had a pretty rough start in some ways. After the placenta began deteriorating she lost weight (this is a one in a million occurrence), and when her heartbeat dropped dramatically during labor, the doctors rushed my daughter into the operating room for an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my son-in-law’s family and my husband and I were blissfully unaware of these developments until the doctor came out and told us both daughter and baby were doing fine! That was all we needed to hear! We all shed a few tears of gratitude to God for bringing them both out of the crisis and saving our beautiful granddaughter’s life and realized she was, indeed, our little “miracle baby”!

My daughter is doing just fine now and Margaret is beginning to sleep through the nights. But for many days I stayed and helped by cooking, cleaning, holding and rocking the baby often, especially during the nights, so my daughter and her husband could get some rest. It was during these cherished precious moments alone with her that I realized how tiny and frail she was, and yet how strong she was, as well, with the determination to enter this world even though in some ways the odds were against her. I realized how God is the giver of life, beginning at conception, and these words from the Book of Psalms came to me over and over again:

“Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” (Psalm 22:9 & 10, NIV)

“Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.” (Psalm 71:6, ESV)

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:13 & 14a, ESV)

Remembering the amazing sonograms my daughter sent us during her pregnancy, the fact that Margaret was just as much a human being then as after she was born, and the startling realization she might not have made it had God not given her breath, made me that much more grateful for her little life and that much more horrified when I thought about the millions of tiny babies just like her who had been aborted while still in their mother’s wombs for reasons totally foreign to me! How could anyone kill a beautiful, innocent life, totally created by God?

I also thought of how she was entering a very wicked world and without faith in the Lord, she might be unable to withstand the onslaughts of the Enemy against her. I also thought of the fact that she has her whole life ahead of her, a blank slate on which she can write or accomplish anything she wishes. She may be a prolific author; she may discover a cure for cancer; she may be a doctor who cures the sick and starving in Africa; she may be the future president of the United States; she may be a great artist, composer or pianist. Of course, I am a bit swayed towards the pianist idea! With her long, slender fingers I think she will make a great pianist…or flutist like her mother…or French horn player like her father! Oh, well, the important thing is that she be what God wants her to be! I prayed over and over again as I held her in my arms that she would be a handmaiden of the Lord, used to bless many and minister for Him in the way He chooses for her life!

Even though she has not been born into an earthly royal bloodline as a princess, she has Christ’s royal blood flowing through her veins, and is heir to much more through our Lord than any earthly prince or princess could inherit from this world! I prayed that she would always serve the Lord and glorify Him, giving her heart and life completely over to the Master for His use. Yes, little Margaret, God has gifted you with so many talents yet to be discovered and my prayer for you is that you will always use them for Him! Forever love and serve the Lord and you will make your grandma so very proud of you! DSC05048

(Next week I would like to complete this post by giving some ways in which parents can influence their children to love and serve the Lord by introducing them to worship music, creating musical interest in them and helping them develop their inner God-given talents. Don’t miss Part 2!)