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music monday: in christ alone by owl city

Tiffany NicoleComment
The past two months, my mind has been in a sort of fog. The past few months I have been feeling guilty for everything. Sorry that I did not act the way I wanted in certain situations. Sorry that I said such and such. Sorry that I did not get the bathroom cleaned or the laundry finished. Sorry that I failed to do X,Y and Z. Feeling guilty for not measuring up and guilty for every action I make in parenting and friendships and my marriage. That I can do better. And constantly being in battle with doing what I do and then frustrated because I do not want to be frustrated. It is not a fun place to be and some days a prayer for God to push the perfect button on me bounces around my head.

Going in to marriage, I was advised to be careful about preconceived expectations I unknowingly had on my husband and God taught me early on in parenting about the issues with expectations on my child. During this struggle, he revealed the issues with self imposed expectations. This is something I have never thought about or even occurred to me to be an issue.
 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. Romans  7: 15-20
I can SO relate to Paul here. It can sound like a circle when you read it, which is how it feels sometimes. I desire to do good and be a great mother and wife and daughter and friend and do God's will and some days it seems like all I do is fall short but that is not what God is calling me to do or to be. Perhaps you can relate. Hear this truth: God is calling us to love him with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind (Matthew 22:37).  

He does not have expectations. Sin is in the world and we are not perfect There is a constant battle of us verse sin but Christ already won. Satan does not want you to see yourself in that light and when you fall in to the temptation of feeling like a constant failure. you are falling in to sin and not living in the victory that Christ has given us. 

You must focus on him and not your own strength or to do list. Personal expectations make you miss blessings right in front of you because you are too busy focusing on what you want rather than what God has graciously given you. It may also lead to other sin, as a result. 

I pray that God would open your eyes to any unknown expectations of yourself that you have been carrying around. I pray that you would feel the freedom that comes from letting go of your own agenda and to do lists and that you would enjoy his peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).

Rest assured, you are doing the best you can do with the resources you have, with the skill sets that God has given you for this season. Do not fret over the past. Be forgiven. Ask forgiveness where forgiveness is needed and accept it and move on. Christ died for your sins and because he overcame death, hope can be found. Stand firm in the faith and in him and be a witness to how he works out the good for those he loves (Romans 8:28). He loves you despite your expectations, failed or not.  

I love Owl City's rendition of In Christ Alone. Reminiscent of high school days where the anthems of the Postal Service were constantly blaring but that is another story. Have a listen.

In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song; This Cornerstone, this solid Ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm. What heights of love, what depths of peace, When fears are stilled, when strivings cease! My Comforter, my All in All, Here in the love of Christ I stand.
 Here's to less expectations and more lavishing the love of God.  

music monday: hosanna by hillsong united

Tiffany NicoleComment
I was gathered with some friends, when the topic of our culture came up. Relating to people. The importance of knowing pop culture to relate to others.

This is one of the issues my husband and I differ on, too. For me, this does not settle well. When God called me out of my life of sin, the majority of pop culture went with it.  Music and movies and books and celebrities and their gossip. I have a hard time getting involved in it. It is so void and being caught up in it offers only null returns.

This was a conviction that God showed me and perhaps you cannot resonate with it all. That is okay, too. I am not here to judge; just to be obedient with what God wants me to share.

I have bad lyrics creep in at inappropriate times, and I have to find new ones to overcome them - I do not need to know more. And more importantly, I do not want the lips of my children to be singing them. Why fill their heads with words that are going to return void? I pray that you would not have to have this struggle or pass that down to your children.

And watching movies that promote premarital sex and drugs and violence. I am a visual person. The images and quotes get stuck in my memory and I can repeat the lines of inappropriate scenes as it is. I pray that you would be filled with the love of Christ and his word, not the world's.

As I listened to Hosanna by Hillsong, these lyrics really resonated with me. Have a listen. 

I see his love and mercy washing over all our sin the people sing Hosanna Hosanna in the highest. I see a generation rising up to take their place with selfless faith.

I pray that this generation would not be so caught up in the media that the love of God is drown out by it. That their songs would be those of praise to God, not to the world. That their thoughts would be pure and embedded with mercy and love.  That their faith would be based on what Jesus did for them and in doing so would be fruitful and full of life. 

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, be self - controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given when Jesus Christ is revealed.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14

We have been called to be holy. To live lives that are different from the world. Not to conform but to love. They will know we are Christians by our love, anyone (John 13:35)?

Not all music and movies are degrading and inappropriate but a lot of them are. Unrealistic expectations are engrained and inapt comments are instilled in your memory to be used at just the right time.

Our culture needs more knowledge of scripture and biblical principles and less of the ability to quote the latest movie or songs from the top 40.

Everyone has their own filters as to what is acceptable but God calls us higher than our own thoughts and judgments. To his thoughts and his likeness. To be holy like he is holy.

I pray that when you stand in lines at check out and see the magazine covers with celebrities and their shenanigans, that you would pray that they will find Christ and ache for their mishaps and trials they are going through and for the people who are writing the articles that are not composed of truth. It is a sad, vicious cycle full of anger and malice. I pray you would not want to be a part of it all.  

I pray that the next time you push the on button to the media, that you would think about what you are allowing in to your memory and time and space. Is it going to build yourself up? Help someone else? Praise God? Would you like your child and the God of the universe to be sitting next to you on the couch with your viewing choice?

Here's to more God filters and less media. More time spent dwelling on him alone.