Psalm 150: A concert of celebration

Praise God in his holy house of worship,
praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
The Message

What a vast array of instruments, and this is only one translation! I also took a look at the New Living Translation, Young’s Literal Translation, Orthodox Jewish Bible, American Standard Version, and Easy-to-Read Version and found the following list of instruments:

trumpet, castanet, dance, banjo, flute, cymbal, bass drum, fiddle, mandolin, harp, tambourine, singing, psaltery, timbrel, organ, shofar (ram’s horn), pipe, horns, lyre, and stringed instruments.

Now some of these instruments are unknown to modern day readers, like the lyre and timbrel. The best that I can verify what I’ve always heard, the lyre is a stringed instrument like a miniature harp (how appropriate during Valentine’s Day…remember Cupid’s little harp he plays after you’re shot with an arrow?) and the timbrel is like a tambourine. The psaltery appears to look like a mid-sized harp that can sit in your lap, or a zither.

Then there are some generic instruments, like “stringed instruments”. Quick wikipedia search and we have over 70 instruments! And we also have “horns”, which brings us in a sampling: trumpet, cornet, trombone, tuba, french horn, and bugle. I suppose the shofar, or ram’s horn, could go in this category as well.

Third, we have the more known but not necessarily popular instruments like the castanet, tambourine, organ, and pipe. Now, when I read the word pipe I instantly think of Peter Pan’s pipe, but I suppose it could also be a Native American pipe, recorder or bagpipe.

Last but not least, we have the more common/popular instruments and the non-musical “instruments” of praise: banjo, flute, cymbal, fiddle, mandolin, dance, and singing. You put all of these things together and you have quite the eclectic symphony!

There are only 6 short verses in this chapter, but with even minimal research it is abundantly clear that we are not just told, but welcomed to praise God with whatever method will best embody our personal relationship with Him. There is no instrument that cannot be used to worship Him, no style of music that cannot be used to bring Him glory. (Enter my three favorite Christian rock artists….in no particular order, Skillet, Stryper, and Devin Williams)

God’s love crosses all boundaries. He does not discriminate. And we are not only allowed to worship him in response to that love loudly with enthusiasm and fervor, or quietly with tranquility and stillness, but encouraged to do so. There is no “wrong method” of worshiping and praising Him if your heart is sincere.
Now that’s a reason to celebrate!

REVIEW — Doctor Who:The Blood Cell

blood cell

Thanks to and eidelweiss for my complimentary digital copy of DOCTOR WHO: THE BLOOD CELL by James Goss

I cannot tell you how excited this Whovian was to get this book on my Kindle. Maybe this will describe my enthusiasm?


I cannot express accurately how much I enjoyed this book. The author did an excellent job of portraying the Twelfth Doctor (as played by Peter Capaldi) and Clara (as played by Jenna Coleman). I knew that Prisoner 428 was The Doctor before he was named by the character’s temperament, use of words, and description. I also enjoyed the fact that the story was written as a first-person narrative.

And of course, the mysterious villain The Doctor is battling with and trying to identify. At first I half expected it to be a cyberman, but was in for a pleasant surprise when the mysterious villain was revealed. The only thing that could have made me love this book even more would have been to make the TARDIS a character at some point, rather than just a reference made by Clara and The Doctor.

Overall, this was the perfect substitution for an actual episode, since the only person I know who has BBC America is not fond of the series 😦 Blood Cell filled my need for a Doctor Who fix better than an old episode from Netflix or Amazon could.

Rating: gold stargold stargold stargold stargold star

From Tablet to Table by Leonard Sweet: Book Review

tablet to table

“The stories of Jesus…are not heroic legend or tales of the heavens. They are ordinary stories of ordinary people in ordinary places doing ordinary things…but in an extraordinary way.” 

Thanks to Tyndale Publishers and NetGalley for the copy of this title for reviewing purposes

The author of this title has a diverse background which I felt came through in his writing. From Tablet to Table was … interestingly different for me. In this book, the author gives his reasons for why he believes that American culture needs to get back to the table, for personal benefit as well as spiritual, and he lists numerous Scriptures to support his thoughts.

I had some positive and negative responses both with this read.

Negatives: In the beginning I found it hard to understand if the author was speaking about a literal table or a figurative table. Also, some of the Scriptures he used I didn’t see the connection to his point. For example, he states that “God’s very first commandment–is ‘Eat freely’ (Genesis 2:16)”, however I do not view that Scripture as a commandment to eat, but rather a warning of what not to eat, and it felt to me that you really needed to read the next verse to get the full meaning of what God was saying to Adam and Eve in the garden as verse 16 alone did not convey that. See below:

“But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Genesis 2:16-17 NLT

Positives: It is apparent in his writing that the author has done his research and has used his personal history to reach these conclusions.  I can also agree with his descriptions of ‘versitis’ as he calls it, in which we have the tendency to memorize the single verse readily but conveniently ignore or dismiss the verses directly before and after; this limits our understanding of what the Scripture is really saying as we don’t get the whole picture in a single verse.

Overall, I would rate this book 3 out of 5 stars, as it was a bit difficult to get started and I couldn’t always grasp the connection he was trying to create. In spite of that, it did make me re-evaluate how I view the family table, and what I view as the family and the family table.

Rating: gold stargold stargold star

Advent Study: Week 2

Simeon in temple

Day One Passage: Luke 2:21-38

“I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” ~ verse 30-32

In Day One’s reading during Week 2, we read about Simeon. The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would see the promised Messiah before he died. This is why he praised God when he saw and held baby Jesus.

wise men and herod

Day Two Passage: Matthew 2:1-12

“And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.” ~ verse 6

The question for this day was “What was Herod’s, and all of Jerusalem’s, reaction? I looked up a couple different translations to get a more in depth idea of their reaction. Verse 3 states that King Herod and all of Jerusalem were “deeply disturbed” (NLT), “troubled” (KJV), “terrified” (MSG).


Day Three Passage: Matthew 2:13-18

“This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: ‘I called my Son out of Egypt’.” ~ verse 15b

This text is a fulfillment of a prophecy from Hosea. The verse in reference to this prophecy is Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him as a son, and I called my son out of Egypt.” I am understanding that this was to show and fulfill the prophecy that the Messiah was to come from Egypt. (I’m not that great with understanding the Biblical prophecies)

flight to egypt

Day Four Passage: Matthew 2:19-23

“So they went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what was spoken by the prophets concerning the Messiah: ‘He will be called a Nazarene’.” ~ verse 23

We see in verses 19 and 22 that when Joseph left Egypt and when he entered Nazareth, both times he was directed by an angel of the Lord to do so; and both times it was a fulfillment of prophecy regarding the Messiah

young Jesus in the Temple

Day Five Passage: Luke 2:39-52

“There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom beyond his years, and God placed his special favor upon him.” ~ verse 40

This passage is one I heard quite a bit growing up, I even played a video game based upon this passage. In this passage, we read about Jesus and His family going to the yearly Passover festival in Jerusalem. Upon returning home they realized that Jesus had not returned with them. Like parents naturally would, they frantically searched for Him for days, only to find Him in the temple talking with the leaders of the temple, amazing them with his knowledge.

This week’s readings has been back and forth between Matthew and Luke, showing us what His life growing up was like and how the prophecies have been fulfilled that He was the promised Messiah. Only 12 more days ’til Christmas!

Review: Unplanned by Abby Johnson


“self deception is a powerful force. So is confession.” (pg 99, lines 3-4)

Thanks to Tyndale House for sending me this complimentary copy to review, and to Abby Johnson for sharing her story.

Abby Johnson tells her story of being a young college student who volunteered at her local Planned Parenthood clinic, growing within the company to become director, then resigning after almost a decade. In this book you see Abby’s heart for helping women in crisis. Her story is one of open honesty on what led her to start as a dedicated volunteer and what made her change from pro-choice to pro-life.

Unplanned is a moving, thought-provoking, and stereotype-smashing story. Abby shows you first-hand that there is good and bad on both sides of the pro-choice vs. pro-life battle. It is not as simple as “pro-lifers are good” and “pro-choicers are bad”. There were truly kind-hearted people doing what they honestly thought was best for their clients at her clinic, and there were equally misguided pro-lifers who did not take their actions into consideration and caused serious damage to the reputation of all pro-lifers.

I could not put this book down without forcing myself. All throughout my reading I was reminded of Genesis 50:20, where something meant for evil is used by God for good. Unplanned is a powerful, amazing, and humbling experience, proving that God does indeed turn our regretted past into something for His glory.

My rating: Five stars. gold stargold stargold stargold stargold star

Advent Day 5


Full Passage Luke 2:8-20 NLT

Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased. ~      verse 14 

In today’s study we are asked the question “What does the angel say to those normal, everyday shepherds?” First, he tells them not to be afraid. I can imagine that having an angel (reflecting the radiance of Heaven) suddenly appear out of nowhere would be unnerving and disorienting.

Once he has the attention of the shepherds he tells them that he has “good news”, that the “Savior…Messiah…Lord” has been born. Let’s take a quick search from at the meaning of those words. Savior: a person who saves, rescues, or delivers.  Messiah: 1. the promised and expected deliverer of the Jewish people 2. a zealous leader of some cause or project. Lord: 1. a person who has authority, control, or power over others; a master, chief or ruler. 2. a person who is a leader or has great influence in a chosen profession 3. the Savior, Jesus Christ….the angel was telling the shepherds that the One they had long waited for had finally come.

After the angel told the shepherds how to recognize their Savior, there was suddenly a multitude of angels celebrating with him the fact that the Savior was now here on earth. I imagine that the shepherds were a bit disoriented again when they suddenly went from one angel to many.

Once they heard, they searched. When they searched, they found. After they found, they told everyone they saw in their excitement before returning to their sheep. Then they praised God for fulfilling His promise.

Advent Day 4


Full Passage Luke 2:1-7

“She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snuggly in strips of cloth and laid him in  a manger, because there was no lodging available for them” ~ verse 7 NLT

Here we begin the traditional Christmas story reading from Luke 2. Wikipedia  describes a manger as “a feeder that is made of carved stone, wood, or metal construction and is used to hold food for animals (as in a stable).” This is not the only book of the Bible to have the account of Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem, Mary going into labor, being turned away from any lodgings, then finally giving birth with the animals and placing the baby Jesus in a manger, but it does seem to be the most popular.

At first I was a bit surprised that the Advent study would go into the birth so quickly, but then I realized this study isn’t your traditional Advent study. That’s what I love about this study, rather than doing the traditional Christmas story it goes beyond and not only tells the surroundings of Christ’s birth but why He was born, how He lived, what He taught, and even covering the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts.

I’m getting quite excited for each days readings.

Advent Study: Days 2 and 3


Day 2 Passage Luke 1:39-55

Mary responded, “Oh how my should praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed” ~  verses 46-48 NLT

Reflections: Elizabeth called the child “blessed” and “my Lord” (verses 42-43). She knew the child in Mary’s womb was holy, not like any other child.

Elizabeth knew this because it was revealed to her by the Holy Spirit (verse 41). The child in Elizabeth’s womb — John the Baptist — leapt for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice, also because Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and they knew the Holiness of the child in Mary.

Day 3 Passage Matthew 1:18-25

Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel,which means “God is with us”. ~ verse 23

Reflections: In verses 21 and 23 we read that the angel calls the child a Savior and that Christ is a personal God, always near to His children.

“…Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us’.” He is going through every valley with us, on every mountain top, in every dark place where we cannot see. He rejoices and mourns with us through every circumstance we are or will be in, because “God is with us”.

4 Week Advent Study: Week 1 Day 1

Full passage Luke 1:26-38. Focus passage, verse 37

“For the word of God will never fail.” ~ Luke 1:37 NLT

How fitting it is that Advent is right after the Thanksgiving weekend; flowing directly into a season of reflecting on His promises, giving thanks for His gift of salvation and unrelenting love, and looking forward to the future.

The focus verse is a promise from Him. “For the word of God will never fail”…not only does that mean the promises in Scripture will come to pass in their fulfilled time, but the personal word He gives to us will not fail. It is an absolute truth. It may not come to pass in the way we expected or in a way we understand, but it will be fulfilled.

His unrelenting love. It won’t allow us to remain in our sin.  Yes, God wants us to come to Him as we are, right here, right now; not because He wants us to be comfortable around him in our filthy sin, but because He wants to cleanse off our filth to reveal who we were supposed to be.

Imagine it this way, an artist creates a beautiful masterpiece, his greatest creation now or ever…nothing has been as beautiful, nothing will be as beautiful. Then the picture gets covered in mud and becomes filthy and it goes into reproduction that way. He now has to seek out the reproductions so they can be altered. Changing the reproduction from the way it was made is the only way to have its envisioned beauty fulfilled.

 A short post this time as I had many distractions and it took all day to complete. Tomorrow will be a new adventure and a new lesson to reflect and share.

She Reads Truth ~ Day 2

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.

They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

~ 1 Peter 1:3-12

The first passage for today is kinda long, but a couple things about verse 8 in particular stuck out to me. The first thing I notice, is that my physical Bible and the verses on YouVersion are slightly different, even though they are both from the New Living Translation (NLT). I noted the differences in bold:

My physical Bible says…

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him, you trust him; and even now you are happy with a glorious, inexpressible joy.”

while YouVersion says…

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.”

 When I read my physical Bible, my reaction was that even though we can’t physically interact with Christ we are still thankful and happy to know Him, even beyond our own means of expression. When I read the YouVersion however, the “now” stuck out. That one word shows me a promise that one day we will see Him, and that promise is what makes us rejoice, the knowing that one day we will meet face to face.

Another verse that always sticks out to me is the first part of verse 7…

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold…”

Every time I read about being purified like gold, I wonder….how exactly is gold purified? What’s the process? After a quick Google search which led to an article on, I learned that at some point or another – whether the ore is low or high grade – it will be doused with cyanide. And another website reveals that gold melts at 1947.9741° Fahrenheit/1064.43° Celsius.

Now, who in their right mind would choose to be poisoned and burned at an unimaginable heat? Water boils at 212° Fahrenheit/99.98° Celsius and if you touch boiling water you will be in pain for a while and regret it. Imagine a temperature more than 9 times that of boiling water. Who would ask for that? But leading into our next verse, that is exactly what we do, we accept that we will emotionally and spiritually be going through that.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”  For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”                    ~ Romans 8:14-17

In the very last sentence it states that this is to be expected. The promises of salvation from spiritual death, blessings from being part of the family of Christ, inexplicable peace and joy, these are given to us but there is a cost. Just as there are two sides to every coin, there will be pain and troubles when we make that choice.

This shouldn’t surprise us, really. After all, when a child is born it is usually the most joyful and painful time in the mother’s life. When a patient is finally finished with their physical therapy it is a glad day, but it took many painful days to get there.

This choice to follow Christ and live our lives as an imitation of Him is not something to be done on a whim. Yes, He gives us grace and blessings…yes He will mature us into a better person than we could ever be on our own, but it’s not without struggle and lessons. You don’t get to move up in any grade without being tested, why would the biggest decision in our life be any different?

There will be troubles, we might feel ourselves disintegrating into nothing, but think of the glorious something new we will become afterwards. It’s worth it.