How Do I Find God Again? Carmen Leal Found Him in Music

By Carmen Leal:

Has it been ages since you attended church and wonder, ‘How do I find God again?’ Music was the key for Carmen.

 

Image Courtesy of Anita Peppers

“You have a beautiful voice.  We’d love it if you would sing a special song on Sunday.”

I enjoyed the obvious warmth in the pastor’s words, but the style of music was foreign to me. This was a Presbyterian church with music so different from what I’d known in my Catholic childhood.

Even though I’d only gone back to church to get a free hour of babysitting for my two toddlers each week, I enjoyed the people. If I was going to continue with this church, I should get involved. I decided to ask my pastor brother for song suggestions, since he too was a singer.

“Merrill, I need to sing a song at church, and I don’t know any of this kind of music. Where do I start?”

Merrill’s counsel led me to a small Christian bookstore. I’d never been to a store devoted to Christian books and music, but on a lunch hour from work, I climbed the steps and entered the small store.

The owner, Peter, obviously busy, took time to help me select songs that might fit my voice. He patiently listened as I mentioned various pop artists and songs I enjoyed. From that list, he was able to send me to a tape player and headset so I could hear accompaniment tracks from well-known Christian artists.

For years I had sat in that hard pew at Holy Name Church, whispering with my siblings, making fun of the ritual, and being bored. I had only been there because I had no choice. As soon as I left home, I left the church.  Yet although I thought I had retained nothing from my youth, the music at this new church made me realize I not only remembered words from the past, but now understood them. Like a flickering flame needing only the slightest breeze, the words set to music fanned the embers of belief already in my heart. Songs I listened to had portions of scripture in them, just waiting to be remembered.

For the rest of the week I quietly slipped up the stairs, into the overcrowded shop, and grabbed some cassettes and a player. Artist after artist sang of a God I wanted to know. He seemed more real to me after those few days than He ever had as I was growing up.

On the last day of that fateful week, I listened to Sandi Patti singing a song called, Upon This Rock. My eyes filled with tears. I knew, without really knowing how, that I had to invite Christ into my heart, to become a follower of His.

God is perfect in his choice of timing and location. With strangers surrounding me, and tears cascading, I gave my life to Him. I also knew I wanted to use my gift of music for Him, since it was music that had opened my heart.

I never told Peter what his shop did in my life. Rhema Bookstore was a struggling business, and he probably wanted to give up quite often. I’m sure Peter must sometimes wonder if his work really matters.

Yes, Peter. It does.

Hear Sandy Patti sing Love in Any Language, posted on YouTube by the CCM Music Channel:

You can also find the song Upon this Rock, as an MP3 on Amazon.

Carmen Leal knows first-hand about finding God in the midst of difficult situations. She is the author of nine books including The Twenty-Third Psalm for Caregivers and The Twenty-Third Psalm for Those Who Grieve. Her tenth book, Through a Different Lens: Revealing the Transformative and Spiritual Power in Movies, will be released in the fall of 2013 from The Pilgrim Press. To learn more about Carmen visit ww.carmenleal.com.

Do you yourself wonder, ‘How do I find God again?’ Read more testimonies here at Finding God Daily or visit our sister site: GodTest.com.

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Finding God: Woodstock ’69 Vs Revelation 19:9

By Dianne Neal Matthews:

43 years ago today the music festival Woodstock drew nearly half a million people. How will it be different when God calls us to celebrate with him?

 

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” Revelation 19:9


Photo of a portion of the monument Peace and Music created by sculptor Wayne C. Saward

The most famous rock festival of the sixties, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, opened on this day in 1969 and lasted three days. Even though the three promoters who organized the event were inexperienced, they managed to sign major artists for the “Three Days of Peace and Music.”

The festival was almost canceled when the towns of Woodstock and Wallkill, New York, both denied permission. A farmer named Max Yasgur eventually offered his property in Bethel. Although few advance tickets were sold, approximately 400,000 people showed up. (Some sites state 500,000.) Most of the concert-goers demanded free entry and obtained it because of the lack of security.

For a few interesting facts about Woodstock, see 1969 Fast Facts: Woodstock. Also don’t miss the video at the end of this post about a different kind of music festival!

Let’s talk now about a different kind of celebration:

In one story, ­Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a wedding feast, telling this parable:

When all the preparations had been made, the king sent out the final summons, but the guests refused to come to the party. So the king had his servants go out into the streets and invite ­every­one they saw. The hall soon filled with guests, but when the king saw a man who had come without proper wedding clothes, he had him bound and thrown into the outer darkness (Matthew 22:1-14).

God is preparing a party for the end of the age, a wedding feast for his Son. Everyone is invited, but unlike the Woodstock festival, we ­can’t just show up when the time ­comes and demand free entry. We have to accept the invitation in advance. Like the wedding feast in ­Jesus’ story, we can ­only be there with proper attire. We must be clothed with the righteousness of God by accepting Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. God’s “festival” will be perfect in ­every­ way—an eternity of peace and music.

If you think you’d enjoy a Christian faith-focused music festival here on earth, check out the annual Creation festivals at creationfest.com:

 

Have you ever been to a Creation festival? How was it different from other music festivals? Tell us your stories!

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Finding God in a Convalescent Hospital

By Janet Holm McHenry:

 


Janet Holm McHenry plays the bass in her Four Church Band.

Finding God in our local convalescent hospital is a delight for me on a weekly basis. During the summers when I am not teaching high school English, I drag my huge standup bass and play in the Four Church Band. That’s my name for a group of four people who “take church” to the seniors who call Eastern Plumas District Hospital in Loyalton, California, their home.

We’re the Four Church Band, because each of us goes to a different church. That doesn’t seem to matter at all to us or to our fellow worshippers, who include my dear friend Sadie, an African-American woman who wears winter gloves even during the summer to fight off “Arthuritis.” I love her positive interjections every few words during the devotion, because they remind me of her younger days when she sat in the back corner in our white clapboard church and “amen-ed” her way through a sermon.

We sing the old time gospel hymns–all the verses–and the testimony of God’s love and provision and faithfulness shines through those well-penned lines.

The smile of God is also evident on the faces of the elderly believers. I always leave that place filled up with the joy that spills out of those lovely folks, with echoes of God’s Word from the old hymns, and with the peace that my friends and I have been able to fellowship with some dear old saints.

While some might find a convalescent hospital a dreary place, I’m finding God there every time I visit. Perhaps you would enjoy one of my favorite songs that we sing each week–“I’ll Fly Away”–in this version by Gillian Welch:

Janet Holm McHenry is a speaker and author of 19 books, including PrayerWalk and Prayerstreaming. When she’s not playing the bass or chasing her eight grandchildren, she teaches  teaching high school English and dreams up new books to write. Learn more about prayerwalking at www.janetmchenry.com, or Janet’s blog, http://janetmchenry.wordpress.com.

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