"..His Song is with me.."

Psalm42ministries: Musical Devotionals

How Long is TOO Long?

How many times is too many times to forgive?  Sure, God’s grace and forgiveness lasts until we take our last breath, but it’s not eternal. If it were, that would mean that everyone would spend eternity in Heaven because His grace and mercy to all, would continue on.

But, in the after life, it will come down to me and Him, face to face.  He will say, “..well done, good and faithful servant,” or, “depart from Me, I never knew you.”  It’s the moment when He says, “Ok, what did you do with the grace, mercy and forgiveness that I extended to you?”  From that point on on, for eternity, you reap the answer to that question.  If you rejected it, He cuts you off from His grace and mercy.  If you lived your life loving and serving Him by extending the same grace, forgiveness and mercy to others, He welcomes you into His place where you will behold unimaginable treasures, riches, rewards, adventures, fun, joy… the Place  where His love continues.  This place is the pinnacle of His grace, the mountaintop.

So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.
Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

Because I know that I live to serve Him, I can’t wait to hear Him welcome me in.  From that point on, I will reap the eternal blessings of accepting His forgiveness and grace here on earth, in this life.

So, the original question….how long is too long for me?  When is enough, enough?   Yes, I have all of my life to offer all of this to someone.  It’s nothing compared to what God has done for me, I get that.  However, is there a point that what you have with someone dies?

I love, I have decided to continue loving, forgiving, trying, surrendering it to God.  But what if….after all that, it brings out the worst in you, what if you are lonely, what if it has held back your dreams, your potential….?

So, if I give continuous love, grace, and forgiveness to someone and they don’t accept or appreciate it, instead they squander it, they use it, they trample on it, what am I to do?

Should I be so bold to cut them off as He will do with those that have rejected Him?

This is the question of my life.

Need You Now (How Many Times) by Plumb:  The song of my heart at this time in my life. 

Surrounded by songs of deliverance,

Denise

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We ALL idolize someone or something…..

NKOTB

New Kids on the Block: one of the first boy bands of my youth. I remember sitting in front of the tv, calling my friends and going crazy for them….worship, idolizing???

I often forget that the desire to worship is innate. I heard “Clear The Stage” by Jimmy Needham some time ago and promised that it would be a part of my next musical devotion because of how easily idols creep into my life.

The following is my paraphrase of the very real and piercing lyrics: It begins with a challenge to clear your life of your idols. Remove the fluff, the approval-seeking motives…. Remove the busyness, the time-wasters, and get the root of your struggles and issues until you are broken. This calls for bravery, but promises liberation as well.

Before I can go on, the question is, “what is an idol?” Most of the definitions I find have something to do with religion, which is really a repetitive practice of some kind.

The definitions also allude to devotion, admiration, an image of something physical, but without substance and a figment of the mind….

Interesting, in this part of the world and time period in history, we don’t picture ourselves prostrated in front of a person or object. Most of us wouldn’t be caught doing that. Therefore, those definitions match us perfectly. An image, lifestyle, or desire that we project in our own minds. One that might or might not be “real.” Then, we devote ourselves to ‘it’ or ‘them’ religiously with our time, energy and emotions. That is an idol.

So the song goes on….go after God. Pursue the only Being that can be counted on. Counted on to know what is best, so wait for what He has for me. He promises things that nothing this life can promise me. I must place my hope in Him.

(Not an easy thing for people who want to see to believe, people who have counted on themselves for too long…can we really count on ourselves? Our emotions are fickle, how truly honest are we with ourselves….do I really want to place hope in myself? I mess up way too much!)

The song goes on….this is where it really hit home. I can sing, raise my hands up, pray before class begins, pray with my family, read my devotions every morning…etc., but I can still get it wrong because “worship is more than a song.”

I regress to my tween years: pictures of…River Phoenix, Michael J. Fox, Jason Bateman, Ricky Shroder, John Travolta, Kirk Cameron, Duran Duran…all over my walls! (Yes, I am an 80’s Baby) My friends and I talked about them, collected more pictures, role-played that they were our boyfriends, obsessed over them when they were on tv. Do I have that kind of admiration and devotion for Jesus? Am I obsessed or in-love with Him? Why not? Probably because I am wrapped in this flesh that I submit to consistently. I want love now, I want gratification now, it’s all about me.

Living in the Spirit, however, changes your whole perspective, your worship becomes how your life plays out, day to day….not just a song you sing or things on your ‘to do list.’ The song says to forget the plans and sit at home, wait for God to whisper to you. It doesn’t matter how I just messed up a few minutes before when I yelled at my kids, He is waiting for my eyes to turn to Him so that He can whisper to me, to you, whether you believe in Him completely or not.

Ask Him to speak to me, stay on my knees until they blister….I want Him to shine a light into the darkest parts of my heart and soul. Expose them and start to heal and change me so that I can be free. Search and pursue the truth, not just take it for granted. I want Him to shake up my comfortable world.

I find myself devoted fully to my family and work…many times more than my Savior. These things become my idols. Family and work are noble things, but they cannot make the promises that my Savior makes to me. They will not fulfill me as He does.

The song goes on to help me categorize the idols in my life:
*anything I put before my God: work, sleep, food, relationships…
*anything I want with all my heart: good marriage, successful children…
*anything I can’t stop thinking of: having a good marriage,
*anything I give all my love to: family

The fact that my devotionals are all attached to songs is ironic to my devotion today. I love music and it is how I very often express my worship. However, worship, adoration, admiration and devotion for my Savior must seep through me as I walk, talk, observe, read, listen, play, discuss, teach, give, eat, fold clothes, cook meals, make decisions, iron, pay bills, make phone calls, do groceries, laugh, cry, sing and dance!

 

Surrounded by songs of deliverance,

Denise
*I choose to worship–the One I can trust with my life, My Savior
My Savior

 

(Thought I’d include some of the 80’s boy craze for the ladies from my generation!)

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If He holds all my tears….

Image

…then how immense are God’s hands? When I look at the ocean in this picture, his hands are even bigger.

Tears. They flow through the tear ducts and run along my face.  It really doesn’t matter what provokes them.  They all look exactly the same and come from the same place, physically speaking.  But….tears don’t all come from the same place when I think about all the different reasons to cry.

Tears of joy:  I get a tingly, warm feeling in my core.  It almost tickles…. these tears refresh your eyes and spirit.

Tears from laughter:  These are closely related to joy.  Occurring involuntarily.  I think it’s one of God’s little gifts to us.  Your body cannot contain the emotion.  What sets off laughter, anyway?  It must start in the brain, but I feel it in my belly….

Tears of frustration: Those come almost without warning because you’ve held them back for so long….they taste hot.

Tears of sadness:  It depends….sadness for yourself comes from a different place, than sadness, or empathy for others.  I think sadness comes from a place of loss.  Mourning over something you will never get back.  These tears are heavy and painful; they come from a place that you don’t really touch often.

Tears of pain:  Physical pain…how does it help the actual pain when we cry?   Does it help release something?  It just seems to make you look like a “crybaby.”        Emotional pain…that’s different.  These kind of tears seem like they encompass your whole being….but sometimes I think that if you have endured enough emotional pain…your tears dry up.  That’s dangerous; how do you know you’re still alive?  I remember my Abuela, who I knew was very sensitive and wept easily, soon after her husband, my Abuelo passed away, asking her why she didn’t cry anymore.  She told me she was all dry…..the woman she once was passed away.  Will this happen to me, I ask?

But then, there’s God.

“You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.”  Psalm 56:8

He sees me.  He promises that “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.” Psalm 126:5

I believe Him.  In this picture above is the ocean of my tears next to one of my songs of joy, my son, Andres.  Too many good things in my life.     But, I promise to love Him even if He was the only good thing in my life.   I pray that He breaks me and continues to make me new everyday.  My consolation is that the tears He allows, joys and sorrows, are all for my ultimate good and His glory. 

Surrounded by songs of deliverance,

Denise

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My Superhero can beat yours!

photo credits: clker.com

photo credits: clker.com

I know without a doubt that I have countless blessings.  However, I have terrible misfortune when it comes to cops, tickets and car mishaps.  It was Friday afternoon, I was driving up to size the kids for their new school uniforms, then take them to their friends’ houses.  We grabbed lunch and as we’re eating in the car talking and laughing, the car blew a tire (on the highway) and started to swerve out of control.  In an instant, I remembered learning that you are supposed to let go of the accelerator, then tightly grab the steering wheel and brake.  Well, I did this and the car did a 180 to the side of the highway and almost flipped!  So scary…..!  That’s never happened to me before.

All of the possible “what could’ve happen” scenarios start having their way with my mind and emotions.

Not too many people can say “I had a near-death experience…”  But really, we can all say it.  Anything can happen at any moment.  Everyday is a near death experience….we live in a world filled with illness, accidents, negligence and lost people who take lives without a second thought.

It can be depressing, except that I  know who holds this world.  Except, that I  have a superhero that conquers all…..why do I forget so quickly?

So, the next day, I was still replaying the events in my head when I heard “I AM” by Mercy Me and God said quite a few things to me through these lyrics:  “Denise, I AM everything; I AM time encompassing all of your day; I AM in control; I AM present and care about every detail of your life; I AM sovereign and hold life and death in My hands; I AM the one who writes your testimony.  Pheww!

One of the reasons I love this song is because it’s ultrapowerful!   He promises that I have this power because He lives in me.  That blows my mind too often, so I tend to evade this truth.  Maybe because I grew up in a “Christian” environment that didn’t teach us about the Holy Spirit.  But, I can attest to a handful of times that I fully embraced that truth and was in touch with the Spirit in me, not just beside me.  There are no words in the spoken or written language that can justify a description.

I will try: “no fear, purity, strength, confidence, clean, and one-with-Him.” (but a few….)

Why don’t I embrace this truth everyday, every moment in order to BE that new creation; the best version of me….. instead of just DOING the right things? I don’t know.  I need to discover the answer to that question……

“..surrounded by songs of deliverance…”

Denise

P.S. My superhero made this: Majestic & Powerful alongside Pure & Gentle: His creation reflects who He is:  The Great I AM

Photo credits: lieke_vssr

Photo credits: lieke_vssr

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No Fear

photoguides.net

photoguides.net

I’m still at the bottom of this impossible mountain deciding if I’m going to start moving forward at all.  The typical cliches run through my mind: “One day at a time…..One step at a time….”  Tell me what that looks like, and maybe I’ll listen.  How does that translate to my day-to-day struggle.

Then, this morning, I read my “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young:

          Keep walking with Me along the path I have chosen for you.  Your desire to live close to Me is a delight to My heart.  I could instantly grant you the spiritual riches you desire, but that is not My way for you.  Together we will forge a pathway up the high mountain.  The journey is arduous at times, and you are weak.  Someday you will dance lightfooted on the high peaks; but for now, your walk is often plodding and heavy.  All I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction.  Though the path is difficult and the scenery dull at the moment, there are sparkling surprises just around the bend.  Stay on the path I have selected for you.  It is truly the path of life.  (derived from: Psalm 37:23-24; Psalm 16:11)

Can you believe that?!  It reminds me that our God is not distant; He desires an intimate relationship with His creation; His children.  It was more than cool.  It humbles me….I thought,  “I gotta write this down!”  Then, I went into my Spotify playlists and clicked on the one titled “No Fear.”  The song that God gave me along with His personal words of life is perfect.  All He requires of me, for this first step is that I “Lift My Eyes To Him.”

“I lift my eyes to mountains, where does my help come from?” Psalm 121:1

“…surrounded by songs of deliverance…”

Denise

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So, I’m ready to start….

http://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&docid=PZZgiygBTK04sM&tbnid=2o3Hta3GNPuFBM:&ved=0CAQQjB0&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hdwallpapersplus.com%2Fmountain-pictures.html&ei=L_neUb_iDs7j4AODm4CYBw&bvm=bv.48705608,d.dmg&psig=AFQjCNHcibf3By9ReLozRUCtKlOSZ4Jtxg&ust=1373653625204931

hdwallpapersplus.com

How do I know that I’m ready?  I’m at the starting line!   I’ve been walking towards this starting line for quite some time, not always on a straight path, but I could always see it from a distance. I’m finally here. What words come to my mind? “Hello Beastie.” Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean II. He comes face to face with the Kraken. He then draws his sword and leaps towards the beast, head on.  I love it!  He knows he’s going to the “land of the dead,” but not without a fight.  He ends up destroying the great monster of the sea, but starts going mad from the solitary confinement of Davy Jones’ locker. His friends don’t leave him there, though.  He is rescued, brought back to life.

I am an English teacher.  A closet writer.  I make word pictures in my mind as I attempt to explain the musings of my heart and spirit.  I love stories, metaphors, analogies….anything that goes deep into what truly defines the soul of a matter. Therefore, bear with me as I equate my spiritual life to the terrifyingly awesome adventures of Jack Sparrow:

“Beastie”: the giant that must be destroyed in your life; the one that keeps you from truly living,

“Davy Jones’ locker”:  the place where you must die to yourself, be confronted with yourself and sometimes feel all alone,

“Friend that doesn’t leave you there, rescues you and brings you back to life”:  Jesus

My “Beastie”, however,  is more like this mountain of monumental proportions. I’m at the foot of this mountain. It almost looks like an actually foot, ready to squash me. But, I have every piece of equipment needed to climb this “behemoth.” I have my nourishment (God’s word), I have knowledge (a couple bookshelves-worth), and the “need” (a couple decades-worth.)

Guess what my mountain’s name is: Mount Forgiveness. My apologies for sounding all “Pilgrim’s Progress,” but it’s what I see when I close my eyes and realize that forgiving=true freedom. I saw it from far away, but I didn’t believe it was in my path, I’ve never had a problem with forgiving.  But now, I can’t see the top or where it ends on either side.  Pretty scary.  I know that I will die, but I have the promise of a new life on the other side.

Here’s the thing though…I’ve been traveling some pretty strenuous terrain thus far, so I am in no mood to climb this mountain. I’m plumb tired. (Where does that expression come from I’ve always wanted to know…..) Did I even spell it right?
Obviously, I can get pretty side-tracked. This will be a problem as I attempt to reach the other side of Mount “I don’t want to do this.”

So, I’m starting this blog as my journey up this mountain.  Not solely a blog, but a devotional; a testament to my God and myself that, for Him, I will climb. If I don’t do this, I will cease to truly live.  I think that an actual, physical mountain might even be less difficult in comparison to the thick bosque of a hurting heart.  So one of my weapons of choice is the “pen.”  In this case, the keyboard, but I’m old-school, so it will always be the “pen” to me.

Now, because I think in “music,”  I experience God through music; I sing to Him, and He sings to me, my devotions have to be musical.  I don’t know what comes first the song or the thought, but I when I choose the songs that I link the devotions to, I know that He predestines them for me, for you.

“By day the LORD directs his love, at night His song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.”  Psalm 42:8

Surrounded by songs of deliverance, (Psalm 38)

Denise

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