Music Twisting Part 2

For my high school graduation term paper, I wrote on the topic of music. I am pleased to share it with you here in the following days. Here is part two!

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I am often amazed at how apathetic Americans, and indeed all people, are in so many areas. We just don’t seem to think about what we really believe and how our choices are made. I used to never give a thought to many of the books I read and how they were affecting my mind in good and bad ways, or how certain songs caused various feelings inside me. But now that I have begun this lifelong journey, I want to ask others to join me. Perhaps you will not agree with me on the choices I make regarding music. Quite honestly, that’s really just fine with me! My goal is not to persuade you to take what I say and only choose songs that I will agree with. Not at all! My hope is that you will begin to think –  really and truly think – about the why and how of your choices; not only in music, but in books, movies, friends, and any other area. To begin a life of choices and decisions that are filtered through what God says in His Word is one of the greatest things I could hope to inspire in you. And really, that is the work of the Holy Spirit in His children, and something we should pray for.

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I do not by any means profess to be an expert on all the ins and outs of music, its techniques, and where it came from. I have not listened to all the different genres out there, and I have no music going in the background as I write this. I love music, and often sing and play instruments at church and at home. But I am not the kind of person who listens to it every minute of the day. I have friends who would love to do nothing but listen to music. I guess I don’t understand that. I think music is a wonderful thing, a way to praise God and enjoy life and family and friends in a whole new level. But I am the kind of person who would rather be playing a song rather than hearing a song. I enjoy doing things that have some sort of benefit. As the saying goes, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”

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Most of all, I want to honor the Lord in the way that I play music, in the music itself, and in the choices of music that I listen to. That is why I have read numerous books, studied passages in the Bible, and sought God’s wisdom and heart in this area. I decided to write this paper for myself, initially, so I could think through my writing and put in a concise place all that is in my mind and heart. It was an extra bonus when it turned into my term paper for high school.

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In my studies, I have learned that music is not neutral. While individual notes are neutral, combined notes can be either beautiful, haunting, or upbeat. Just a letter is neutral, but the letters can all be used to either say something kind, hateful, or sinful. You could use the letter “a” in different ways to communicate completely different ideas, like “I hate you”, or “I love you. Will you marry me?”

In just that way, we can use the notes that make up music to either make cheerful and uplifting songs, or dark, melancholy, and even evil songs.

That’s all for now, folks. Come back for the next part tomorrow.

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Mexico

March 18, 2016

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Mountain in Mexico

I apologize for the confusion this post may have caused those of you who signed up for my email. I accidentally published it before it was ready, so I “un-published” it and got it ready again. So here it is – again!

In my Bible Study Fellowship this week, the opening hymn was Praise to the Lord the Almighty. As I sang it, I realized that it outlined my trip to Mexico perfectly and in almost exact chronological order so that I could use it in sharing my testimony of what the Lord has done in my life recently.

(For those of you who don’t know, I recently went on a mission trip to Mexico for ten days.)

“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation!”
When we arrived at the leader’s house on Friday morning, it was suggested that the group from my church (we joined others from different churches and groups) pray before starting. We primarily praised God for us all being able to go, how we were able to come despite adverse circumstances, and for all He would do in and through us.
Our leader has always put an emphasis on the Lord being the Almighty Creator, and he was planning on teaching a VBS (vacation Bible school) all about the Creator in Mexico.

“…O my soul praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!”
We all began the bus trip with prayer for our travels – prayers for safety and for health as we traveled for thirty hours to a foreign country. We had many thoughts about our health, and the salvation of souls in Mexico and beyond.

“All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near; join me in glad adoration.”
On Sunday morning we made sure to wake up in time to go to a Mexican church service at 10:30 A.M. We ‘drew near to God’s temple’ in Juarez, Mexico, and were hosted by gracious Christians who chose songs that were familiar to us Americanos, so that we could join them in glad adoration of our God and Creator. We joined with our brothers and sisters in the most meaningful, life-changing praise of God I have ever experienced before in my life! It was amazing and wonderful.

“Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigning bears thee on eagle’s wings, e’er in His keeping maintaining.”
As we, the very different-from-the-Mexicans, Americans walked through the city market in the afternoon, we were approached by two ladies from the newspaper who asked to take a picture of some of us for the morning news. Later we found out that this made our visit slightly less low-profile than usual. We walked through a rather dangerous street and were shown a poster/display for a young girl who was kidnapped from her Christian family. Our guide told us that five girls are kidnapped each week in Mexico.

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Please remember to pray for girls like Esmeralda

God protected us all that day and through the whole week as we served Him. He maintained us and bore us up on eagle’s wings.

“God’s care enfolds all whose true good He upholds. Hast thou not known His sustaining?”
I experienced this in a very personal way on Sunday night just after I went to bed. I laid down in the top bunk, and immediately, with no warning, I felt like I was going to be sick. I quietly rushed to the bathroom, where I stopped, no longer sick, but now overcome by a wave of emotion. I couldn’t stop crying and thinking of my family, and stayed in there for about ten minutes, crying out to God for comfort. And He did! He gave me the strength, calm and distractions to not be lonely all the rest of the week.

“Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;”
The Lord surely prospered our work! We got many things done even on just the first day. He protected us from all the hidden dangers – car accidents, unfriendly people, major illness, etc.

“Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.”
He also gave us mercy in that no one got any kind of injury beyond a few slivers, or two, cuts, or a big bruise (on yours truly :)). His goodness overwhelms me.

“Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, who with His love doth befriend thee.”
One of the girls wore a shirt that said “God’s Work, Our Hands.” So true. God worked through the wonderful Christians in Mexico to show me personally His love. They were so friendly and accepting, and my new American friends were so concerned for my (and other’s) health/dietary needs, that I felt God’s love enfold me like a hug, sometimes literally through the people around me. He crossed over language barriers and knit our spirits together with the love of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.

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“Praise to the Lord, who doth nourish thy life and restore thee, fitting thee well for the tasks that are ever before thee.”
Again, so many times He works through our hands. The kitchen crew nourished us with food for each breakfast and lunch and then the Mexican ladies took over to prepare us spectacular meals each night. The English speaking people provided us with sweet fellowship and conversation, especially the Mexican Pastor and the hard working grounds keeper. God gave us restoration through sleep each night, fitting us for the next day of hard work.

“Then to thy need, God as a mother doth speed, spreading the wings of grace o’er thee.”
This happened with a few of the others on the trip. A young man became ill for a night and morning and God through His grace revealed pride in his heart. A young woman got a few headaches and was given grace to rest, and received many kind words from those who took her place.
He does comfort thee in thy need!

“Praise to the Lord! O, let all that is in me adore Him! All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him!”
My heart is overflowing with praise for my Lord and Creator! Won’t you join me in praising Him?

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“Let the amen sound from His people again; gladly forever adore Him.”
We closed our bus trip on the way home in prayer and praise for a safe, wondrous journey. It was life-changing for many, if not all. May we all, forever, adore Him!

Note: Thank you to all who supported me financially and with prayers. I truly appreciate your part in this trip, and I couldn’t have done it without you. I thank God for you. You had a part in this, and I do not take it for granted. God bless you.

*I didn’t share any names or locations to protect the privacy of any who may desire it.

Are You Praying?

“God will bless Elijah and send rain on Israel, but he  must pray for it. If the chosen nation is to prosper, Samuel must plead for it. If the Jews are to be delivered, Daniel must intercede. God will bless Paul, and the nations shall be converted, but Paul must pray … Let me have your prayers, and I can do anything! Let me be without my people’s prayers, and I can do nothing.” -Charles Spurgeon

Who are you called to pray for? Are you praying faithfully? What man or woman of God is struggling for lack of your intercession for them before God? Certainly God will act without you, but He desires your faith to be lifted through your prayers and the answers to them. What blessings are you missing out on?

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16