christical

Inspired by Jesus. From a Christian. For the Christian and anyone else who bothers to listen.

Peace and Nelson Mandela December 6, 2013

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St. Thomas Aquinas once said that man has a restless heart and a questioning mind. As humans, it’s natural to search for happiness, success, love, and peace. But the greatest of these is peace.

Nelson Mandela died yesterday at the age of ninety-five. All I can say is: what an amazing life. South African boy turned lawyer, imprisoned for twenty-seven years. He was subjected to conditions that would destroy most. But what happened? He was one of the most gracious and compassionate men the world has ever known.

Even rarer than the brilliant warrior is the brilliant diplomat. Of course, in any situation, tact is key. But I feel that it takes a certain kind of person to be able to look your enemies in the eye and shake their hands, especially if you do so the day after you get out of prison.

I truly pray that today’s leaders can remember Mandela for his love and the way he could begin to restore a broken nation. Who knows: maybe his example can translate to our friendships? Our families? Heck, the Christian church?

–JFG

 

Just Stay Calm. August 23, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — christical @ 4:02 pm

It’s August. Children are going back to school. Gone are the days spent in jaunty freedom.

For many, that means the return of stress. You worry. You worry about your schedule, the huge amount of work you have to do, the little amount of time in which you have to do it.

You think: this amount of stress cannot be remotely healthy. You’re right. Stress is blamed as the cause for a plethora of conditions: high blood pressure, heart problems, being overweight (if you count that as a condition), insomnia, and aging (if you count that as a condition in these fountain-of-youth times).

No doubt is there that worry is a noose.

But don’t hang yourself with worry’s noose.

Paul says in Philippians 6:4, “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer let your requests be made known to God.”

Worry and fear crawl into your life. Chase them away. Get on your knees and acknowledge your worry. Tell God you don’t want to worry about whatever anymore. Then, get up, and find a way to help yourself abate your worry.

Get some exercise. Your mind and body will thank you.

Try to get more organized. It’s a lot easier to stay calm when you aren’t carrying around a gigantic load of papers, notebooks, books, and binders with loose documents flying everywhere.

Establish a routine and stick to it. If you’re sprinting around the house trying to prepare yourself for the morning, you might be wasting time and energy.

Most of all: understand that the world does not always expect perfection.

Do you have to do your job with no mistakes? So be it. Do you have to live your life without mistakes? Heck no! Nobody’s a perfect friend, perfect family member, perfect whatever. It’s only important that you understand your mistakes and move on.

On a final note . . . Have no fear looking into the future. To quote Dostoevsky, “Fear is nothing more than the consequence of believing a lie.”

Look through the lies. You are a follower of truth.

Truth is steady; truth is calm.

 

The Center of Action July 15, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — christical @ 8:15 pm

Martha was a homemaker, clever and swift.

She always tended to be oddly busy.

Everyone said that she had a gift

For handling with ease what would make others dizzy.

 

Mary didn’t want to work so much,

She wanted to take a break

From work, home and such

To listen to Jesus for her soul’s sake.

 

Neither woman was wrong,

They both loved the Lord,

But one was a servant to make others strong,

The other was a student of the Word.

Earth is significantly less chaotic in certain places than in others.

If God has you in the bloodiest battle, then He has you in there for a reason. Likewise, if you’re in the medic tents or simply lending your support from afar, then he has his reasons for that as well.

Christians (and people in general) have a problem with stagnancy. If we’re not doing something that can truly impact other people, then we may begin to worry whether we’re doing anything worthwhile.

Out of all of the days you could live, God chose this day for you to live and grow. You never know what a simple smile and a short conversation can do for a person and for you. One smile leads to another. Countless times I’ve been thanked for smiling or for saying hello.

It made me realize that not all important decisions are heavy decisions.

It made me realize that the center of action may not be in the world with arguments; no, it may be that the center of action is whatever’s going on two inches behind the skull of the person sitting next to you.

Where’s your center of action? Are you a soldier on the field or a soldier of the soul?

 

Love the Stillness June 10, 2013

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Summer is here. It’s time to kick back and take some time for the self.

We have freedom to do what we please. Thus, we occupy ourself with tasks until we are done with those tasks.

What do we do then? After we’re done, we don’t have anything else to do, so sometimes, we just sit in stillness.

For many, the sound of silence is one of the most unsettling sounds. We’re not sure what to do because our minds are used to being constantly stimulated. As a former teacher of mine once said something along the lines of, “In this day and age, we have trouble focusing on anything that doesn’t have a screen.”

In this stillness, we begin to focus on ourselves. I’m not talking about self-absorbed thoughts; I’m talking about introspection.

When we start to introspect, or look inward, and observe ourselves, we notice parts of ourselves that we had begun to ignore. It’s the way that your hands use a sink so gently, but a hose so forcefully. We wonder about the things we did last week (such as cleaning out the refrigerator) and whether they were worth doing (trust me, it was). Deep regrets come up, too.

I’ve said before that if you have trouble hearing God, perform a sound check on the rest of your life. Is the volume of your job, your social life, or even your moral responsibility blocking out the song of God?

Embrace the stillness, my brothers and my sisters! It’s in that unsettling silence that we’re comforted by God. When we leave a huge gap of silence, something will fill it. For Christians, God fills that gap.

~JFG

This Week: When you find yourself in a sudden silence, pray about anything. Pray about everything. God’s focused on you, and in that moment, so are you. 

 

Thanks Guys (and Girls)! June 6, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — christical @ 6:13 pm

Readers:

Peace to you!

I logged onto WordPress today and was surprised to see a notification that exactly one year ago, I signed up for WordPress and started blogging for the first time ever. Honestly, it hasn’t felt like I’ve been writing for a year. Thanks to you subscribers and readers out there, that time passed so quickly.

Since I started blogging, I hope I have become a better writer and a stronger Christian. I’m blessed with almost 30 followers on my blog, 578 amazing Instagram followers, and many more unnamed readers.

Believe it or not, this site’s been viewed in 42 different countries! I pray that everyone who stumbles across this blog is spiritually refreshed, moved, or comforted by what’s written here. Most of all, I pray that God’s glory shines brightly through this blog.

Let’s hope this next year will be as good as (if not better than) the first!

–JFG

What topics do you want to see covered this coming year?

 

She Is Your God May 29, 2013

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The First Commandment: You shall put no other gods before me.

Out of all the commandments, I think this one falls by the wayside a bit to those who have never taken a confirmation class or a membership class at church.

“Of course I’m not going to put gods before God! What a stupid idea to think that I could go off and worship some golden statue instead of God.”

What is a god? The word “god” goes beyond the deities of theistic religions (religions that believe in a God or gods). A god refers to anything that you put before God in your life. It could be money, appearances, another person, or even works if you care about morals more than the faith behind them.

Your god could be money. The love of money is the root of all evil. Your desire for power and control could lead you to do things you wouldn’t normally do–cheat, lie, steal, end up hating the competition. We are in the world but not of it. If you focus on worldly wealth, then you can become blinded to the more important matters, such as salvation.

Your god could be appearances. The desire to be or stay beautiful could lead you to harm yourself from procedures or bad health practices. You may be driven to resentment against someone of whom you are jealous. Again, the desire for control over your appearance may push you past a line you formerly wouldn’t cross.

Your god could be another person. Infatuation can be problematic for this reason: not only are you breaking the first commandment by putting someone at the center of your thoughts, but you could also break the sixth commandment by thinking impure thoughts about this person, and you could break the ninth commandment if that person is someone’s spouse.

Works can be a problem if you do them for selfish reasons or without spiritual motivation. One of the trademarks of obsessive-compulsive disorder is the carrying out of good actions to “cancel out” any “bad” images you imagine, such as someone getting hurt or dying. Sometimes you’ll be so desperate to help someone that you might drive people against each other or someone against themselves. You could go to the ends of the earth to take care of someone’s immediate needs–but you’ll ignore the person’s emotions.

How then, can we overcome these gods?

One of the best ways to overcome your gods is to remove the temptation. If you get attached too easily to that mirror or scale, cover all but one mirror or throw out the scale. Do you constantly check your phone? Turn it off during work or school hours. Are you checking the amount of cash in your wallet like clockwork? Wrap that wallet in a few rubber bands. Going through the trouble will discourage you from the action.

Just as I tell my friends: with God as your centerpiece, your table will always be full.

—JFG

 

How to Make a Smooth Song Transition May 9, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — christical @ 7:26 pm

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In every worship leader’s life, there’s a constant stream of things being learned. From learning how to dress on stage to learning how to use a mixer, the worship leader never stops learning. For those new to leading worship, especially if you’re not exactly the large-crowd type of person, the speaking parts of the service (such as song transitions) are met with some anxiety. Song transitions can especially be a rough point because of their necessity. As our moods transition throughout the service, the worship needs to reflect that. Imagine the difficulty in leading worship if there were no transitions: the congregation would receive several different messages at a rapid-fire pace! Transitions can also give the rest of the worship team a chance to prepare themselves for the next song.

How do I lead the congregation? Will I come on too strongly? Am I enthusiastic enough? What do I say?

Rest assured that the above questions are natural. Many times, your fears are unfounded. However, it never hurts to work on your transitions so you are as comfortable doing them as possible.

Before you figure out what you want to say (or play) to transition, you must first learn about the different types of transitions. Most worship leaders recognize two types of transitions: musical and spoken.

  • The musical transition is one that requires rehearsal, quick hands, and the ability to multitask. When a worship leader uses this transition, they will find one chord that the first song has in common with the second and use the chord to connect the two songs, often while talking a bit to give the other musicians preparation time. Example: After “Meet us Here” in the key of D, you sing “Our God” in the key of G. The songs have three chords in common: E minor, D, and G. After ending the first song, you continue strumming the D, then play G, then speed up your tempo and play E minor in the tempo of “Our God”. That’s when you launch into the intro. While doing this, you can say something like, “We pray that God’s spirit may come upon us tonight, amen? We are His people, and He is our God.”
  • The next transition is known as the spoken transition. This transition works well if the two songs have wildly different tempos, moods, or keys. For instance: “Mercy” by Parachute Band followed by “The Joy of the Lord” by Twila Paris. When a worship leader uses this transition, they will end the song on a chord and connect the two songs with scripture, an anecdote, a prayer, or a brief admonition. Example: The leader transitions between “Jesus Son of God” in the key of G (capo on first fret)) to “I Will Trust in You” in the key of D. Obviously, a stop is necessary, so the leader takes off the capo after the ending chord of the first song. They will fill the transition with something like: “Praise God for sending His Son. He is our salvation in trouble, the one we trust with our lives.”

My church’s worship leader uses the spoken transition most often because it fits his leading style and the style of the congregation better. It’s up to the worship leader to find his/her style so they can be as effective as possible. Remember: as a worship leader, you are not only bringing your heart to God, but you are also connecting the people to God. Out of the 168 hours in the week, this is the only hour some of the congregation dedicates to God. Use your gift. I promise that you will do well if you desire to serve.

—JFG

 

 
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