Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Singing with Thanksgiving and JOY in Carnegie Hall! (Psalms 95:1-7, Psalms 96:1-13, Isaiah 40:31)

Wow Carnegie Hall is something else! And the music was so amazing : ) I woke up this morning with these words in my mind, "God is real. He's not an imaginary friend. He lives!" The concert went really well. I downloaded some photos for you that were taken by the concert photographer (free to us).
"Long shot of the choir on the Carnegie Hall stage."

"Our Fearless Leaders!  Talk about faith..."
The guy in the center is the composer, "Dr. Phil Barfoot,"
2 men to the right is my Choir Director, "John Cavicchio.

"Inside Carnegie - view of the seats"
"The top circle is me, and the one on the right is my hubby."
I didn't squeak "Woohoo!"

"America's not done yet."
That was such a fantastic experience.  I am so glad we did it.  It was the, "American Festival Choir."  The ladies that stood on either side of me confessed that they sang over the solo and missed a high note or two just like me.  I was so relieved and we all had a laugh. 

The composer was very fun to work with.  He challenged us to worship as we sang.  Hope we'll all meet up again someday and sing.  

US Congressman, Louie Gohmert, from Texas stopped in to say, "Hi" to us.  He was in NYC.  He told us how grateful he was that we were singing Christian music.  It's discouraging in the White House right now.  He said that there aren't many people singing about God.  His family always taught about God and family.

The song must go on. Here's the Hallelujah Chorus (link) give it a try and see if you can get those high notes : )  Eesh it's a challenge for sure!  The trick is to sing with your abdomen.

Here are some awesome Psalms about singing and thanksgiving.  May everyone in the USA, have a wonderful holiday this year.

1 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
3 For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
4 In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
5 The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

7 For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand
(Psalms 95:1-7 NKJV)

1 Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
3 Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.
4 For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the Lord made the heavens.
6 Honor and majesty are before Him;
Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.
7 Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
Give to the Lord glory and strength.
8 Give to the Lord the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come into His courts.
9 Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him, all the earth.
10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns;
The world also is firmly established,
It shall not be moved;
He shall judge the peoples righteously.”
11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord.
13 For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And the peoples with His truth
(Psalms 96:1-13 NKJV) 

31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint
(Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)

I'll be back into Hebrews on Friday.  May God bless you abundantly!
Karen Kyle Ericson

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I can't hear you (Hebrews story 8) (Hebrews 5:12-14, Phil. 4:13, Rom. 8:26-28)

The concert at Carnegie Hall, in NYC, is this weekend.  I have some CDs of the music so I can practice.  I'm not a trained singer.  I do best with cameras and paintbrushes : )  But, this will be fun.  Someone told me the acoustics in Carnegie Hall are amazing and the sound will be wonderful.  I'm looking forward to it with a minor sense of fear.  Humble is good, petrified not so much. When I start getting scared, I think about time with my husband this weekend.  And how much I love singing to the Lord.  One day we'll all be singing with the Angels. Hallelujah!  We won't be picky with each other anymore. We'll all sound out of this world.  Woohoo!  Talk about acoustics- it's going to be Heavenly.

Besides with 300 singers, if I do squeak, as long as I don't blush, no one will even know it was me : )  Err "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil. 4:13
So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him:
You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
As He also says in another place:
You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek”;
who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
(Hebrews 5:5-8 NKJV)
This reminds me of when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He cried tears of blood due to the intensity of what He would soon be facing.  I can't even watch a scarey movie; Jesus endured the ultimate nightmare for us.  He could have rubbed it in, telling people they were so horrible, He would have to die for them.  But He didn't.  He showed quiet humility and love.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:26-28 NIV)
In all things we should show the same dignity Jesus did.  But, I have a feeling, God's compassion for our weaknesses is larger than we could understand this side of Heaven.
Jesus never glorified Himself in the Bible.  He glorified God, the Father.  Most of His time was spent teaching and looking after the needs of people.  I remember a passage about Jesus spending time with little children.  I'm sure it was delightful, lots of fun and giggles.

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
(Hebrews 5:12-14 NKJV)

The author of Hebrews is comparing weak Christians to babies.  They can only handle milk and baby food.  It reminds me of people who refuse to acknowledge or tell the truth.  I am not clumsy, I'm physically challenged.  I'm a good person and should get straight "A's" in school, even though I can't read or write.  I've noticed sometimes we tend to rank ourselves.  I'm "good."  He's "bad." God says that it's not the strong or the best who win, it's the servants.  The last will be first and the first last.  So being good isn't as important as being useful.

I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you've picked up this bad habit of not listening. (Hebrews 5:11 Message)
This is how it's worded in the Message Bible version. The NASB version says, "You have become dull of hearing."
So... this is what Pastors sometimes see from the pulpit.  /sigh

What is most important for us, as Christians, is in Hebrews 5:14.  We need to be able to tell the difference between good and evil.  When we can tell the difference between good and evil, the Holy Spirit can guide us to minister to others.  We gain discernment to know when God wants us to help someone.  For me to become a Christian, God had to call upon several different Christians.  I was a bit stubborn.  So glad they talked to me now.  There are also times that it's best to walk on, keeping eyes forward.  For me it's like a cold chill or fear.  I know to move on.

When I was visiting a woman in a Nursing Home, I knew she wasn't willing to study the Bible with me.  After spending some time making friends with her, she wanted to read the Bible.

The best way I've found to read the Bible is to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me through His Word.  And then find a quiet place and dig in.  I'm pleased the Lord gave me a desire to write this blog.  It's my favorite subject.

May God bless us all to keep from becoming dull of hearing : )

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day 2013 (Matthew 25:40, John 15:13)

"Land of the free, home of the brave"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

To all the American Veteran's we salute you.  Thank you so much for your service to our country.  We are so grateful for your sacrifice.  When I see the flag, I always smile remembering a little lady named, "Betsy Ross," who hid her stitchery from others so they wouldn't see the first American flag.  It's beautiful isn't it?

This song has really blessed our nation:
God Bless America (Generald Wilson)  link

It was kind of strange this year.  I heard from a second cousin that our family lineage includes military veterans from the Revolutionary War and on.  My Mother and Father never spoke of this.  All my brother and I heard about was Mom's drinking and then Dad left.  I figured I didn't come from a good family and should just give it up.  

I knew someone on my Grandma's side came over on the Mayflower.  And there was someone who signed one of the freedom documents.  I can't remember who or what.  Then I heard from the other side of my family that we came over in the 1600's seeking religious freedom from Europe.  So it turns out our ancestors fought in the revolution in the 1700's.  One of my Great Grandpa's snuck off from home, to free the slaves by blowing up railroad tracks with General Sherman.  Now that sounds about right.

Because of our family history, the ladies in our family can become members of DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution.  Have to admit it's pretty amazing to learn all this about my family in my 50's. 

We are all part of a great history.  Much bigger than we may know.  But the greatest heritage I have received is that from Jesus.  After I accepted Christ as my Savior, I found joy for the first time.  I couldn't stop laughing at times.  The Bible has become a great source of comfort- it's the Word of God Himself.  No one should be prevented from having one.  No matter where in the world they are.

Yet I can't help but feel a new sense of pride knowing my ancestors, countrymen and women have fought so we could be free.  Even my big brother served, all the generations.

13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."
(John 15:13 NASB)
Thanks to all those who would lay down their lives for us. 

"Medical Helicopter"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

My prayer-

Dear Heavenly Father I lift up our military to You.  I pray You will reveal the truth about the Bible to our leaders in the White House that they will no longer be frightened by Your Word.  I pray You will bring comfort to our soldiers at home and overseas.  Bless them and keep them safe.  Thank You so much for our freedom Father.  Thank You for our wonderful country and people.

Father I pray for those who survived the terrible typhoon in the Philippines.  I lift them up to You and pray for their safety and protection as they rebuild their country.  Bless them Father, I've heard of many believers that live there.  Please bring healing to their land.  Guide them to pull together with strength and love.

I pray You will restore our land, forgive our sins and guide us to a much better future.  It seems this time now, is a time to learn from for our future.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Imperfection required (Hebrews Story 7) (Genesis 14:17-20, Hebrews 5:1-10)

Well, I've mentioned before how God does things and it's kind of surprising.  Last month my husband came home and told me we are going to sing at Carnegie Hall, in New York City.  I was thinking maybe he inhaled too many fumes on the drive home.  But no.  It's true.  November 25 we'll be singing Christmas songs in Carnegie Hall : ) I never saw that one coming...  Thankfully there will be over 300 singers so if I squeak (pray I won't) no one will notice : )  I'm a soprano and always need to be a little cautious...  They seem to actually like my voice.  Go figure?  It's ecumenical (crosses denominations) which makes me very happy.  I've been praying the Church could be one in the body of Christ.  The world could use some good news these days.  

One night my husband and I were going to rehearsal when my 5 year old neighbor asked, "Where are you going?"

There were a bunch of kids playing basketball outside.  I answered, "I'm going to Church to sing in the choir."  The ball stopped bouncing and I got some huge smiles on the kids faces.  One of the boys keeps telling his friends, "She's a Christian.  Isn't she nice?"  The Lord does know how to encourage us doesn't He?  And it's very encouraging to know kids are still faithful.

Also, a Men's Ensemble from St. Petersburg, Russia is going to be singing at my Church on November 15.  I'm excited and look forward to meeting them.

One of the fun things about reading through Hebrews is there are all sorts of mini series stories in between the verses.  Melchizedek is a mystery to us today.  After Abraham finished a battle, a priest came from nowhere.  It could be Jesus come to bless His people. 

I really don't have the whole Bible memorized : )  When I read this Chapter of Hebrews, I saw the name, "Melchizedek" and remembered the story.  So I looked up the name in a Concordance and found the location for the story- Genesis 14:17-20.  If you are using the Olive Tree software it has the ability to look up verses when you type in a key word.  Here's the story:

17 Then after his (Abraham's) return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said, "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tenth of all.
(Genesis 14:17-20 NASB)
Melchizedek brought bread and wine like the last supper, or communion we have today.  He is the king of Salem.  Abraham is the first patriarch of Israel.  Another interesting thing here is that Abram gave a 10th of his earnings to Melchizedek.  Sounds familiar right?  Traditionally, Christians give 10% as a tithe. It goes to those in need, the Church and staff.

Hebrews 5:1-10

1 Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.

Yet again God's compassion is clear.  Verse 2- "He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness."  After the Garden of Eden, God actually wants our leaders to be humble and gentle.  Because none of us are perfect.  Pretty cool!  So God wants Church leaders who are real, not pretending perfection.  We can't relate to that, it's not what we need and can scare people away.

5 In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,
“You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.”
6 And he says in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”

7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
(Hebrews 5:1-10 NIV)

What stands out to me in these verses is how Jesus learned obedience from His suffering. I sometimes feel picked on asking, "Why me?"  Or maybe I want to get even with those who hurt me.  But, then the light shines and I wonder how hurting someone else would really help me.