One of the easiest and fun things we can do to improve our mood and health is to breathe. Have you ever found yourself breathing so shallowly that you were almost unconsciously holding your breath, especially in moments of concentration or stress? Breath equals life.
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” —Genesis 2:7
“Fear less, hope more, eat less, chew more, whine less, breathe more, talk less, say more, hate less, love more, and all good things will be yours.” —Swedish proverb
As you may have heard or read, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” and while doing deep breathing exercises can help us feel better, there are fun ways to get more oxygen into our bodies.
“Singing lightens sorrows.” —Spanish proverb
Play a wind instrument or just whistle!
“Breath is the music of life.” —Indian proverb
Bubbles are like wet kisses floating in the air, waiting to pop and tickle the one who touches them.
Although all these things may not equal deep breathing exercises, they do encourage a greater intake of oxygen and can create a positive mood and improved health. Blowing bubbles is also whimsical, relaxing, and can produce fun and entertainment when children leap and run to pop them. So the next time you feel stressed, take a moment to breathe.
A few weeks ago, I attended a local event hosted by a church, which was also attended by several pastors within their association. Have you ever heard Christians dis other churches for singing anything other than hymns? They say things like, “Godly music must be rich in doctrine,” or “Songs of worship should not be repetitious. That’s what’s wrong with today’s contemporary songs. They’re just fluff,” and they actually call the songs that other churches sing “ungodly”. I often wonder if they have ever read, studied or been helped by the book of Psalms.
Psalm 136 is an example of a psalm that contains a lot of repetition:
An exhortation to give thanks to God for particular mercies
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.
O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.
To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.
To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.
To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.
To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever:
The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:
The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.
To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:
And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever:
With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.
To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever:
And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever:
But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.
To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.
To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:
And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:
Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever:
And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever:
And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever:
Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:
And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.
O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Is Psalm 136 ungodly and unsuitable for church worship because it is repetitious? If not, then why are contemporary songs rejected simply because they contain some repetition?
The song in the video below is the cry of a broken heart, a crushed spirit due to the loss of a child. The lyrics reveal the struggle of the heart to continue trusting in God— “To think that Providence would take a child from his mother while she prays, is appalling.”
Wasn’t King David open and honest with the LORD? Can we not be as well, or is this song also unacceptable and ungodly?
Psalm 6 is an example of a psalm that does not contain the kind of doctrine that the pontificators say godly songs should contain. It is a cry of the heart:
David’s complaint in his sickness
To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David.
O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?
Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake.
For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.
Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.
Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.
The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer. Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.
The same pontificators talk about how things are a matter of the heart, and yet deny the same when they reject songs that are cries of the heart to God. Which is it? Is it really a matter of the heart or a matter of musical taste?
I wasn’t going to mention this to more than just a couple of trusted friends, because I didn’t want people to think I’m way out there. But after one of my nieces posted something on her Facebook status that was somewhat similar, it prompted me to comment and share my own experience, which encouraged her, so I thought I would go ahead and share it here too.
While finishing up the dishes after a large meal a few weeks ago, I was also dancing to music and sharing some feelings with God when I got an overwhelming feeling that He briefly danced with me, and I mean a feeling so overwhelming that it actually startled me! And the dancing wasn’t a waltz; it was upbeat and energetic. God dancing?
Having attended mostly Baptist churches throughout my life, my first reaction was to consider if the thought was sacreligious, because Baptists do not dance! Oh, I know that’s not true of all Baptists, but those who tend to be more traditional think that dancing, especially random dancing in pairs or groups, can lead to lusting and the temptation to further sin.
In the parable of the two sons, what did the older son hear as he approached the house? (Luke 15:25) “Music and dancing”. What kind of dancing would have to be going on in order to be heard? Have you ever seen Jewish people dance? And who had called for the celebration? The father, who in the parable represents God, the Father. So yes, I believe God does dance, and I believe our Abba danced with me!
In my last blog post Sunrise, Bunnies, and a Jacuzzi, I gave a testimony of God’s ‘romancing’ love. In this post I’d like to share two experiences that reveal God’s rescuing love as well as His affirming love.
I know many of my posts convey gratitude for God’s love and the various ways He expresses it, but that’s where I’m at in this season of my life, although I hope I never stop telling of His great love. I have heard people criticize preachers and musicians who focus on a particular topic like God’s love, or His mercy and grace, and while I understand the importance of the need to go deeper, I also understand from experience and observation that the preachers are generally trying to reach people where they’re at, and the musicians are singing lyrics that express their own experiences as they seek to minister to and reach people.
I spent a week away to decompress, seek the Lord, reflect, and rejuvenate. I am grateful for the opportunity, means, and generosity of others. Sunday was my last day, and I sought out a church to attend. The people were so warm and welcoming, and the ministry revealed a heart for God and people. I was so blessed by their love. During the week prior to attending the church, the song “How He Loves Us” sung by David Crowder continually played in my mind, and during the service, the worship team led us in singing it. Apparently, it was the first time they’d sung it, and I half-jokingly told Annie, one of the worship team members who’d chosen the song, that it was for me. Oh, I know it’s not all about me; I’m sure it spoke to the hearts of others, but I was so blessed by God’s reaffirmation of His love for me, especially after facing a week of intense struggle.
After church and in-between doing laundry and cleaning the place where I was staying, I went outside to enjoy the warmth of the sun and the beauty of the outdoor pool. The air was a little cool, but the sun was warm, so after becoming a bit heated, I soaked my feet in the frigid water and watched the ripples and reflections. Then I asked the Lord if there was anything He wanted me to see. Because summer has not yet arrived, the pool, while maintained, remained unused and had a few small leaves and bits of debris floating on top. I noticed the shadows cast by them, and one in particular caught my eye. The shadow was clover-shaped, but nothing on top appeared to match it. I continued to observe the shadow and noticed a hint of movement. The only thing I could connect it with was a bee that appeared to have drowned. But no, it was still hanging on to life. So I retrieved a small piece of wood and lifted the bee out of the frigid water and onto the warm stone tiles surrounding the pool. It remained there, warming itself in the sun long enough for me to snap some photos with my phone and even long enough for me to run up to my room, grab my big camera and snap a few photos with it, until the bee finally became reanimated and flew away.
God not only cares about you and me, but He even cares for a little bee. His love moved me to lift the bee from certain death, and I feel so blessed to have been a part of that rescue. There is a new Christian song called “Love Lifted Me” sung by Ashmont Hill. It appears to be based off the old hymn by the same name. Both tell of God’s great love that lifts us up when nothing else helps, but the hymn expresses so much more in the way of being rescued from certain death. As a woman, I have a longing to be rescued. The Lord is my Hero, my Knight in shining armor, and His love lifted and rescued me in so many ways this past week that I am free to sing of His love.
In the midst of confusion, sometimes we forget God’s promises. And sometimes we remember His promises but forget His warnings and principles. Sometimes what we’re going through is a result of some unwise choices we’ve made, but sometimes we are suffering due to something beyond our control. It is especially easy in those times when confusion can lead to doubt and we ask that ancient question asked by the serpent, “Did God really say?” Or “Is God really good?” Yes. Yes, He is.
“Sometimes all we have to hold on to is what we know is true of who You are. So when the heartache hits like a hurricane, that could never change who You are. And we trust in who You are. Even if the healing doesn’t come, and life falls apart, and dreams are still undone, You are God, You are good….” –Kutless