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THE MUSIC OF SOUNDS  by Jeanne Gowen Dennis

Sing to the Lord all the earth. (Ps. 96:1)

 Musical Sounds

I’ve been thinking lately about the amazing gift of sounds. The songs of birds. The tinkling of water in a stream. The whispers of wind through leaves. The crashing of waves. The music of various instruments. Voices lifted in song.

The Human Voice

Most of all, I’ve marveled at the human voice. We can hum a tune, belt out a popular song, sing an aria, cheer someone on, shout out a warning, talk in normal tones, or whisper a prayer. So many sounds from one wonderfully designed instrument.

I think of the sweet sound of a mother’s voice singing a lullaby or comforting her child. Something akin to the still, small voice of God, perhaps. My mom went to heaven last year, but I can still hear her voice. One of the last things we did together was to sing one of her favorite hymns.

It seems countless times the Bible tells us to sing to the Lord and praise His name. And doesn’t it fill you with joy to do just that? It does me. Our choir plans to sing Handel’s “Halleluiah Chorus” this Christmas. Every time I hear or sing that majestic piece of music, my heart soars heavenward. No wonder people stand when they hear it.

The Music of Language

Great writers make music with words. I often stop to savor a well-written phrase as I would a luscious peach. Some have a natural gift, but most writers have to work hard to reach that level of skill in their craft. And they really appreciate it when readers write to encourage them. You might say readers’ kind words are “music” to an author’s ears.

Our speaking voices hold music in them too. I’ve always had a fascination for languages and wanted to speak several. I’m working on my third and fourth right now – not very successfully, I’m afraid. But as I’ve studied foreign languages, I’ve been astounded at the different sounds the human voice can make – including drumbeats, chirps, whistles, twitters, and various vibrations. Among other things, language sets us apart from the animals. Yet each language has a rhythm and beauty all its own.

Heavenly Music

When God made humankind in His image, he made us to praise Him with our voices, both in song and words. Just think of the music that will rise to the throne of God when every people, tongue, tribe, and nation worships Him together in heaven! Rather than a cacophony of widely different tongues, I believe we will hear every language blended together into the perfect harmony of praise.

At least that’s how I imagine it. For now, I’ll enjoy the music of life here on earth and lift my heart and voice to the God who made it all. I hope you’ll join me.

“Live your faith. Pass it on.” An award-winning author and songwriter, Jeanne Dennis hosts Heritage of Truth TV at https://jeannedennis.com. She is also a commissioned Colson Fellow and Centurion. Through her writing, speaking, music, and online ministry, she encourages families to live biblically in our spiritually confused culture.

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By Jackie M. Johnson

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Life is full of challenges. You want to lose weight but the pounds stick to you like super glue.

A friend needs a new job or is having marital problems. Your niece is wondering if she will ever get married. Our country is divided on political issues. And on it goes.

As believers, we are taught early to “trust in the Lord.” But what does that really mean and how do we do it?

Trust means letting God be God. Not freaking out when the bills pile up like snow in the Rocky Mountains. Not striving to make things happen on our own. Trust is releasing worry and surrendering stress. It’s letting go of the problem and believing that the One who loves us most will take care of our situation.

So when you submit a book proposal, you don’t keep calling your agent every few days to see how it’s going. Or, if you don’t have the money for rent or the mortgage, you don’t worry incessantly. You pray and take action, and trust God will provide instead of trying to control outcomes and letting the stress keep you awake at night.

As you pray, God acts. He may ask you to do something or he may direct you to wait and be still. Either way, you learn to lean, not on your own understanding of how things should be, but on the strong shoulders of Jesus Christ. He has the wisdom to know what to do, even when the next step seems unclear. He has the strength and power to make real and lasting changes. And, he acts out of ultimate love for his daughters and sons.

God will do what is best, in His way and in His timing. On that we can rely.

Trust in His goodness. Rest in His love.

Jackie M. Johnson is the author of the popular Power Prayers for Women, the helpful breakup recovery resource When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty, and Praying with Power When Life Gets Tough. She also writes a blog for single and single again readers, Living Single, on Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk website. Connect with Jackie at www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com.

 

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To celebrate my 25th book release I held a party at a boutique that showcases local artists and authors. I created a special scavenger hunt to get everyone checking out the store.

I hid small signs of my book covers all around the store. Each one included a number of the release order. As people arrived, they received an alphabetical list of the titles so they could fill in the corresponding numbers as they spotted the signs and turn them in to win pries. The newest titles included a devotional cookbook The Gift of Bread: Recipes for the Heart and the Table and a teen book on communication Girl Talk Guy Talk. Prizes included little recipe books and fun items.

I also demonstrated how to make bread centerpieces such as

muffin bouquets and provided a variety of breads for everyone to taste. My oldest daughter snapped photos. We can design anything to celebrate milestones.

I recently attended a show where singer Jimmy Wayne spoke and signed his new book. To celebrate, he had a video made of signing the first copy as he signed his name and circled the number one on the book. I received the first copy.

 

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By Dianne Barker

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” (Psalm 127:1NIV).

Got it. Unless the Lord does it, our best efforts will fail.

Synonyms for “vain” are ineffective, hopeless, unsuccessful, unproductive, futile, useless, worthless.

Why would anyone pursue such a life? Who gets up in the morning desiring your day’s work be ineffective, unsuccessful, unproductive, futile, useless, worthless?

We’re off and running, determined to achieve something significant. But if we’re trusting in our own wisdom and strength, our best efforts will be futile.

God created us for a purpose. The greatest disappointment in life is coming to the end of it, never having achieved the purpose for which we were created.

How do we discover God’s purpose?

I accepted Christ at seven and during teen years sensed a desire in my heart to write. At eighteen I landed my dream job writing for the local newspaper while attending college. Within a few weeks, I had my own weekly column. Being young, bold, and confident I had answers to life’s big questions, I often injected my Christian faith.

After finishing college, trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

There was no passion for anything else.

I joined the newspaper’s fulltime staff. Besides writing my column and news stories, I covered many religious events and evangelistic crusades. The Lord brought a host of celebrities across my path: Corrie ten Boom, Vance Havner, Bob Hope, Joan Crawford, Debbie Reynolds, Johnny Cash, Jerry Clower, and others. I shook hands with President Richard Nixon.

The newspaper sent me to Minneapolis to attend the School of Christian Writing, sponsored by Decision Magazine, founded by Billy Graham. I met Dr. Sherwood Wirt, founding editor, who became a friend and mentor.

A year later while covering Dr. Graham’s ten-day crusade in Knoxville, Tennessee, I reconnected with Dr. Wirt. Through his influence I was chosen to write a book about the crusade, Billy Graham in Big Orange Country—my first book at twenty-four.

Clebe McClary, a Vietnam hero from South Carolina, saw the book and asked me to write his story, Living Proof. Through Clebe I met Harold Morris and wrote his story, Twice Pardoned, first book for Focus on the Family Publishing and a 1986 national Christian bestseller.

That book (still available on Amazon, 1.5 million copies in print) surpassed my dreams.

God built the house! I simply followed Jesus, sensitive to impressions of my heart and opportunities he presented. He kept me close, whispering encouragement, whenever the path wound through disappointment and difficulty.

Have you grown weary pursuing dreams, only to slam into a stone wall? Pick yourself up and dare to dream again!

  • Pray, diligently seeking guidance from the Lord, and study his Word.
  • Be sensitive to desires of your heart.
  • Consider your natural talents and learn your spiritual gifts; often natural talents and spiritual gifts are related.
  • Ask godly friends for counsel. They may recognize abilities you haven’t seen and suggest opportunities you haven’t considered.
  • Use what you have and serve where you are. Don’t wait for something amazing to come along. Be faithful where God has placed you.

Your purpose on this earth at this moment in time is to serve and glorify him. Stay as close to Jesus as you can get. He still calls disciples with a simple invitation. “Follow me.”

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Christian Authors Network, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

 

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