Tag Archives: Music

2020 a year of having more idols but also more personal problems

The Spring of 2020 brought something new to the world which made everyone and everything coming to a standstill but brought also many to having psychological problems. At first, it seemed incredible to hear certain churches calling for their members to come to church, even when the governments asked people to avoid contact with many. Some pastors dared to go so far as telling people that if they would become infected with Corona that would be because they had not enough faith. Such saying we can only call “criminal”. Several Christian groups, mainly in Holland wanted people to believe that as faithful people would come to the service they would not be harmed because they would do what God expected from them.

Lots of people got in problem with their mind, having become pulled away from their social contacts by the lockdown. Depression, bipolar episodes, and anxiety attacks were hindermost in the running.

Because depression isn’t often discussed in churches, a great deal of misunderstanding has popped up in this year when there were so many more people with a lot of psychological problems, who could not be helped by medical staff.

We want people to believe that the first step is realising what this disorder isn’t:

“It’s not a character defect, a spiritual disorder or an emotional dysfunction. And chief of all, it’s not a choice.”

Also we want Christians to be aware that it is not, like some Trinitarian preachers wanted their flock to believe

a penalty from God.

When you do not feel well in your skin it is not that God would be punishing you because you would have done something wrong or that you would not have enough faith in Him.

We also must be aware that just because someone seems “happy,” that doesn’t mean they’re healthy or that they really would be happy. Look at the very popular Flemish influencer. Social media seemed to take more people in its ban this year. The advertising flow is drying up, so professional users of social media tell more about their concerns and they seemed for many to provide some good information. After the death of that 21 year old boy more than ever, several influencers came to understand their role in the youthgroups and to realise that good mental health is important.

This way NokNok wants to teach young people that it is normal to not always feel perfect. Staff member Eline De Decker:

“Nobody walks on clouds every day. Sometimes you get up and immediately feel that it is going to be a terrible day. Sometimes you doubt yourself or feel insecure. Or are you stressed or disappointed with friends or family. That is normal.
And that’s all okay. ”

NokNok wants to convey that message clearly and shows young people between the ages of 12 and 16 what they can do to gain more self-confidence, have less stress and go through life as positivo.

Instagram has been around for ten years, and what the app has perhaps achieved best during that period is creating the illusion that users can “work independently” via the platform. Certainly influencers, people who live off sponsored photos on their Instagram profile, are an example of this bogus self-employment.
They live off Instagram, but much more for Instagram – they tweak their entire lives to create the best photos and videos. And once their Instagram goes down, they have nothing to fall back on.

With the rise of social media, the phenomenon of fanship has changed drastically. About ten or twenty years ago, an idol was someone you idolized by hanging posters on the wall, playing CDs, maybe watching movies or TV shows. The relationship fan-
Idol was pretty one-sided: the fan was occasionally thrown a treat – a new song, a TV appearance, a message about a wedding in a gossip magazine – and he or she had to settle for that.

But with digitization, the relationship between fans and idols has turned inside out,
British sociology professor Ellis Cashmore writes in his book Kardashian Kulture, in which he examines how celebrity culture has changed in the 21st century. No longer are fans from outside looking at the world in which their idol lives – they are right in the thick of it.

Certain churches used those idols also in church and wanted to attire people to their meetings by using a lot of music and disco settings. In 2020 we saw a continuation of the pulpits shrinking and even disappearing while bands and lighting have grown. But faith does not come from music, dynamic experiences, or supposed encounters with God. Faith is birthed through the proclamation of God’s Word (Rom 10:17).

Our assurance is threatened.
Whilst certain churches kept calling their flock to the church building, others tried to bring entertaining video presentations. All that attention or focussing on those idols and entertainement made many youngsters feeling even more alone, when there was no such church meeting any more. If we associate God’s presence with a particular experience or emotion, you can ask what happens when we no longer feel it.

We search for churches whose praise band, orchestra, or pipe organ produce in us the feelings we are chasing. But the reality of God in our lives depends on the mediation of Christ not on subjective experiences.

Musicians are given priestly status.
When music is seen as a means to encounter God, worship leaders and musicians are vested with a priestly role. They become the ones who bring us into the presence of God rather than Jesus Christ who alone has already fulfilled that role. Understandably, when a worship leader or band doesn’t help me experience God they have failed and must be replaced. On the other hand, when we believe that they have successfully moved us into God’s presence they will attain in our minds a status that is far too high for their own good.

Division is increased.
If we identify a feeling as an encounter with God, and only a particular kind of music produces that feeling, then we will insist that same music be played regularly in our church or gatherings. As long as everyone else shares our taste then there is no problem. But if others depend upon a different kind of music to produce the feeling that is important to them then division is cultivated. And because we routinely classify particular feelings as encounters with God our demands for what produce those feelings become very rigid. This is why so many churches succumb to offering multiple styles of worship services. By doing so, they unwittingly sanction division and self-centeredness among the people of God.

Scripture is full of exhortations to God’s people to sing and make music to Him. Our God has been gracious to give us this means to worship Him. But it is important to understand that music in our worship is for two specific purposes: to honour God and to edify our fellow believers. Unfortunately, many Christians tend to grant music a sacramental power which Scripture never bestows upon it.

Intense relationship
Those churches who by the years focused more on the show element of their services brought their members now in a situation where the lockdown is felt more as a restriction and limitation. Some even came to find that they could not serve God any more or did not give Him the full worship they had to offer Him. The fact they felt they could not serve their God any more made them feeling very bad. Instead of making them to understand they also could worship God in their own house in their own small bubble, some churches gave them even more a feeling of guilt by keeping to tell them they should not stop coming to the church building.

Against the lonely feeling they said what’s needed was the gathering and coming to feast again for God. But what is really needed is a loving community where people are encouraged to speak up and get help. And that speaking can be done by internet meetings and help can be giving by phone calls as well as by sending material by land mail.

People should know that when fear comes into their heart, they themselves can call to God. They not only should trust on the entertaining sessions of their church.

God Loves You

The fundamental message of the Gospel is that God loves you.
Do you understand?
God loves you. No matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, God will always love you. Dr. Kenneth Hutcherson describes it like this,

No matter what kind of situation you may find yourself facing, don’t be afraid, because God will always be with you and have your best interests in mind since He loves you.  Whenever feelings of fear creep into your life, turn to God for the help you need to overcome them and successfully navigate your circumstances.  Whenever you sense God calling you to do something that requires taking a risk, move forward without fear because God will empower you to do whatever He calls you to do.

It’s Alright to Feel Sad

No one likes to feel sad. We frequently try to avoid feelings of pain, or bury them under the weight of our daily routines. But sorrow cannot and should not be ignored. Accepting our sorrow doesn’t mean we’re weak, or a failure, it means we’re human. Just look what Ethan McCarthy of Christianity Today had to say,

Our faith is predicated on sadness. As we grow in Christ’s service, we begin to recognize ourselves in Christ’s sad gaze in the icons. The sadness of Jesus exemplifies the sadness of Christians everywhere, and through it the whole world is redeemed. For the sadness of Jesus is not an ultimate sadness: the Bible also promises the end of sadness, and the wiping away of all tears: ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’ (Matt. 5:4).

After bad times better times

2020 may not have been an ideal year, but we should know there have been lots more worse years in the past. When looking at those horrible years of illnesses, pains, horrible situations and wars, we should see that we did not have it as bad as some want us to believe.

Hope is a frail thing, but it’s hard to kill. If you’ve found yourself struggling in the valleys of life, please don’t give up. Surround yourself with friends who will comfort you and mourn with you. If you’re suffering from depression, have courage and make an appointment with a doctor. Above all, remember that God loves you, and that will never change.

2020 has been a year where a lot more people had psychological difficulties. The helplines got a lot more calls. Lots of people were struggling with depression.  More than 1 in 5 youngsters this year had difficulties with the isolation brought unto them. Christians should see signs and then should come to help.

Every suicide is a tragic end to a life that’s precious to God. If you’re willing, God can empower you to help save the lives of people he loves from ending their lives before they’ve completed the lifetimes he intends for them. Here’s how you can help prevent suicide by reaching out to struggling people you know:

Recognize warning signs.

The American Association of Suicidology says that people who are at risk of committing suicide often display warning signs such as: communicating a desire to kill themselves, looking for ways to kill themselves (like seeking access to guns or medications), expressing a lack of purpose or hope in life, demonstrating dramatic mood changes, behaving in significantly anxious or angry ways, sleeping too much or not sleeping enough, feeling trapped in a challenging situation, taking reckless risks, abusing alcohol or drugs, and withdrawing from relationships with family and friends.

Listen well and offer unconditional love, like God does.

Pay attention to the troubling thoughts and feelings that people share with you. Listen carefully to what they express, and ask them questions to clarify and seek more information. If suicidal people know that you’re genuinely interested in them and that they can trust you not to judge them, gossip about them, or avoid them when they tell you something disturbing, they’ll likely open up to you. Ask God to help you love suicidal people unconditionally – like He does – and that will give them hope they desperately need while struggling with embarrassment and shame.

Pray specifically.

Let people know that they can count on you to pray for them about every specific issue they’ve shared with you. Ask God to bring them the help and healing they need, and pray in Jesus’ name against any form of evil that may be attacking them spiritually.

Give people a fresh perspective on themselves and their problems.

Suicidal people often become so preoccupied with their own failures and the problems in their lives that they blow them out of proportion. When that happens, they feel overwhelmed and can’t see how they can ever find solutions to their problems or find relief from their suffering. Mistakenly thinking that there’s no hope for them to experience better lives, they then may choose to simply end their lives. If someone tells you that she hates herself or feels like a burden on others, you can encourage her by pointing out specific ways she has enriched your life. When someone you know is distraught about a problem that seems insurmountable, you can gently and respectfully point out other aspects of her life that are positive to help her gain a better perspective. Refrain from giving unsolicited advice, which can seem judgmental to someone who is struggling. But remind your friend that there’s plenty of good in her, and in her life, despite the bad aspects that trouble her. You can also point out that every problem – no matter how severe – is temporary, but suicide is permanent. Encourage suicidal people to give themselves time to see how their problems can resolve in unexpected ways, rather than prematurely ending their lives.

Strong churches don’t “fix” depression.

Even large churches may not have the framework currently in place to deal with mental disorders. So, what’s needed?

“Healing comes from a prayerful, loving community that seeks to truly understand major depressive disorder and related conditions, and one that develops a positive response.”

Depression can feel like a huge weight that keeps pulling a Christian down again and again. Breaking free from the clutches of this disorder may seem impossible, but Margaret Ashmore (of the Association of Biblical Counselors) says that one of the most important things a sufferer can do is “the next thing”:

“So ‘doing the next thing’ might mean getting right with someone you’ve wronged, making restitution on outstanding payments, putting away once for all that website or magazine which feeds a monstrous, lustful appetite, taking back a purchase of self indulgence whose only outcome was more debt – you will have your own list. I certainly have mine. But be assured, this principle alone can take you from a shrugging Atlas with the weight of the world on your shoulders to that of renewed vigor and reviving refreshment….”

“The choices we make to obey despite our feelings or to give in to the downward pull of a fallen world filled with fallen people – mean everything.”

If you suffer from anxiety of depression, you’re not alone.

The one true source of freedom: Jesus.

People who kill themselves are trying to break free from their pain. But suicide just makes people dead, not free, and it actually causes more pain by spreading grief around to deceased people’s loved ones. Tell struggling people you know that while suicide can’t make them free, Jesus Christ can. Jesus is the way to God. He is the mediator between God and man, and having been here on earth as a man of flesh and blood, he very well knows the pains man can have to face.

No matter how difficult, certain things may look for us, when we pray to God we may find solutions to get over those difficult situations.

 

(With parts of articles by a.o. Todd Pruitt, John UpChurch, Ryan Duncan, Whitney Hopler of Crosswalk.com)

 

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Stuck in Mitzrayim looking at an exodus out of slavery

Today’s guest-speaker looking at Psalm 37 knows that there are times in our lives when we are called to speak up and let our voices be heard, but also times to be silent.

The psalms of David may sound great in our ears and get us carried away in service showing our love for God with exuberance. There may be deep darkness in our world, but we lightening candles hear that music that has the power to awaken the light.

“I will praise Thee, O Lord, among the people; I will sing unto Thee among the nations.” (Psalms 57:9 KJ21)

Today’s rabbi writes

Music has the power to bring people together, singing in harmony, but the music of much of the Middle East these days is not an inviting melody.

Thomas Fuller

17th century British scholar, preacher Thomas Fuller

An old proverb of uncertain origin goes, it’s always darkest before the dawn. A version of this first appeared in print in 1640 in a travelogue by the English theologian and historian Thomas Fuller entitled, A Pisgah-Sight Of Palestine And The Confines Thereof.

How sad that he wrote this when traveling through Israel; and that more than 370 years later, the dark clouds still loom over much of the region. {Psalm 57}

Therefore in these darker days of the time coming closer to the end times, we should shed the light and show others which great event and which hope we are remembering the coming days.

Now we have come to a time to thank God and to sing for Him. A time to show our thankfulness that he liberated His chosen people and was willing to provide a marvellous future, a Kingdom to come, with a Holy Land where there shall be no slavery any more to whatsoever and where there shall be peace.

Today’s guest-speaker knows

A Seder table setting

A Seder table setting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

that there are Jews who do not have a Seder or celebrate Passover by putting away the bread and cereal and other leavened grain products for eight days in favor of matza. No matter what you do for Passover, I encourage you to take the holiday experience, especially the Seder, seriously. {Divre Harav/Words from the Rabbi – April, 2015}

It is a period we may not let pass unnoticed. The Divine Creator demanded it to be a special time until the eternity.

The critical element of the Passover Experience is not the elaborate food eaten for dinner at the Seder, but rather the thought that goes into preparing food without leavening and the symbolism behind it. One common take on hametz, leavening, is that it symbolizes the ego. The opposite of hametz, matza, symbolizes humility. Passover can be seen as an exercise in reducing the ego and developing a humble attitude towards caring for others.

The critical element of the Seder is not the brisket or the matza ball soup, but rather the retelling of the story of the Exodus, with the focus on how that story moves us to see and address oppression in the world around us. {Divre Harav/Words from the Rabbi – April, 2015}

Now has the time come to stand still by those old stories of men and women who had to work hard and did not see any way out of slavery. Time to wonder how are relation with God is and if there are no sins hindering or to impede a good relationship. Today there are still many forms of slavery going on. But we should know that the Elohim promised a Messiah and that always all promises of god become a reality.

We should trust the Most High and study the Torah, letting us inspire and build up our personality.

Perhaps at the proper candle-lighting time, before candle-lighting doing the 4 questions and 4 children and singing songs, you too may tell the story of Pesah in a very abbreviated way.

In keeping with the mishnah’s instructions to tell the story from degradation to redemption, we basically tell the story by reading the key passages of the Hagaddah from Deuteronomy 26:5-8, reciting the plagues, the teaching of Rabban Gamliel and the beginning of Hallel. {Divre Harav/Words from the Rabbi – April, 2015}

It is a moment to be humble and to share the many goods we have with others. Time to put ourselves aside, to think about God’s people and to give praise to the Most High.

When we do feel lonely and blocked in this material world, where we see so many slave to material goods and to money delivering jobs, we can think of the capital Mitzrayim.

The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitzrayim, a word that connotes narrow places  (probably taking its name from the fact that the fertile part of Egypt is a narrow strip of land on either side of the Nile).  In a metaphorical sense, when we are stuck in Mitzrayim, we are living our lives in a constricted place. We are stuck inside a narrow box.  Pesah is the time to look at the narrow box in which we are living, look at those behaviors which keep us stuck in a rut, and free ourselves. {Stuck in a Rut? Pesah Tells You to Get Unstuck!}

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Preceding articles

Seven lights or basic emotions

How to Live Beyond the Ordinary

Psalm 37 Humble inheriting the earth

Thoughts on Passover

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What is important?

Mary Ann Niemczura, born in Massachusetts, reared in Colorado and now living in Upstate New York, looks at three things which she finds  important to her and were she grow up in Massachusetts and in Colorado: Family, Faith, and Education.

In this world were morals, ethics and values are gone it is not bad to stand still for a moment and to wonder what made us unto what we are today.

Let us never forget those who are behind our making process, our parents, teachers, guides, and all the material which came under our eyes (books, theatre pieces, films, artefacts, …)

Like me she grew up in a time when education was still valued and probably the teachers still respected. At a new years dinner for municipal staff I was questioned about the use of musical education and playing an instrument. In the past that was considered as an asset and helpful to have the brains growing in a good way. The gift of music and diligent practice are very much helping the brain to develop so that there is gain on different fronts for other schoolsubjects as well as analytic and creative thinking.  The author has good reason to

belief that children who play a musical instrument including voice have a better chance of success in school.  They learn to listen and to read as well as to memorize more quickly.

Also the religious upbringing may help to create a decent personality which is respectful to nature and all those living on this globe. Learning from the Holy Scriptures not only gives a good formation for our relationships with others, it also shall make us a better person, not only believing in the Creator but also believing in the self, which shall give more confidence to tackle certain tasks and to withstand certain counteraction or thwart.

To have hope for the future we have to work at it that others also come to understand the reasons why we should have certain values, cherish and nourish certain morals. Like in previous times it is still important to be involved with those around us, to read to the children, to give ethical and/or religious education and to practice faith with those who are near to us. Parents and educators do have to send a very clear message that education should be at the top of the list after family and faith.

Then we might have fewer morally bankrupt persons in society.

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Additional reading

  1. Too many pupils for not enough teachers
  2. A learning process for each of us
  3. Passion and burn out of a teacher

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Dr. Mary Ann Niemczura

Three things are important to me and were growing up in Massachusetts and in Colorado.

Family-we had the luxury of a stay at home mom which I believe made all the difference in growing up.  We did not have babysitters come in.  My parents were simply always there for all of us children.  These were simpler times in the 40s and 50s when families made do with less.  I remember my parents growing most of the fruits and vegetables we needed.  My mother canned a lot for the winter months.  We kept potatoes in cold storage in the basement in Massachusetts.  We were happy and well fed.  Our mother sewed most of our clothes as well.  We knew we were well loved.

Faith-we attended church regularly which formed a strong foundation for our character and beliefs. We participated in religious education at church as well.  Parents who give…

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Filed under Cultural affairs, Educational affairs, Knowledge & Wisdom, Lifestyle, Re-Blogs and Great Blogs, Religious affairs, Spiritual affairs