IN TUNE

Day 6

“IN TUNE”

Written by: Denny Livingston

As our 21-day journey continues, I couldn’t help but remember something I saw my dad do for many years. My dad was an amazing minister and musician, but he was also a piano technician and restorer. He could take an old beat up piano and make it look brand new in just a few weeks. Not only could he make it look new, but he could make it sound new. When dad would bring a broken piano into his shop and set it up, you would stand and wonder how this instrument could ever look and sound new again. You might even try and play it, but there would be no way you could make out what you were playing because it would be so out of tune.

You see, when an instrument is out of tune, the melody of a song cannot be established. Also, you’re not able to build harmony parts because harmony is based on melody. In fact, if just one note is either sharp or flat, it throws everything off, even if the other notes are on pitch. Some people might hear how bad it sounds and give up, but not my dad. An out of tune piano is where my dad’s greatest work would begin.

Dad would use a device called a strobe-tuner. He would set it on top of the piano, plug it into the wall and start the tuning process. The standard musical pitch is set at a frequency of 440 hertz. A strobe-tuner is set at that pitch and can detect when a note is not at the correct level. Dad would go string by string on a piano and find out if it was too low or too high. He would then start adjusting the string with an instrument called a tuning hammer. Dad would say, “Now you can’t move the string up too fast or the string might break. Just move it a little at a time and after a while, it will get there.” He was right, because, in a matter of 45 minutes or so, the out of tune piano would sound great and new again.

After thinking about the tuning process, it reminded me of why we are on this 21-day journey. Just like a piano, we are an instrument that over time can get out of tune. It’s nothing we planned on doing, it just happens. We can so easily find ourselves out of tune with God and off pitch from His Will. Just a slight move can cause us to be flat or sharp. God’s Will for our lives is set at 440 hertz and at times we need tuning to get back to that level.

Prayer, fasting and God’s Word are the tuning devices God uses to help us get back to where we should be. When we start to communicate with Him in prayer, He reveals how far we’ve drifted from the level where we once were. Fasting causes us to focus on God and not ourselves. As we overcome physical hunger, our appetite for spiritual things begins to increase, helping us return to a place of perfect harmony with God. The Word of God is like a two-edged sword, cutting out the things in our lives that have caused us to become out of tune.

Be encouraged on day 6, for little by little, we are getting back in tune with God’s Will and His voice. It won’t happen all at once, but over the next 21 days, we are being renewed in the Spirit of the Lord. You will start to feel a difference when you stand in the presence of God. You’re moving closer to Him, which means you’re moving further away from the things that have caused you to slip off pitch. Soon our melody will return and the sounds of sweet harmony will come forth. Dear Lord, help me to be sensitive to your Spirit by being in tune with your voice.

Psalm 51:12 (NKJV)
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

21 DAYS OF RHYTHM, RESTORATION AND RELEASE (Day 2)

DAY 2

“RHYTHM”

As you get ready to kneel before the Lord this morning, I want you to focus on one word. Rhythm.

Here is the definition of rhythm:

A strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.

Day 2 is about understanding rhythm. It’s about getting into a repeated pattern of prayer. You see, once something becomes a rhythm, it just automatically happens. The problem occurs when our prayer life is out of rhythm and we have no set pattern whatsoever. Before you know it, you’ve gone an entire day and haven’t communicated with God. In my opinion, whatever the priority is in your life, should become a pattern in your life.

This is why Daniel was such an amazing prophet of God and example to everyone. Daniel not only prayed, but he had a pattern of prayer. Three times a day he would kneel before the Lord and communicate with Him. This is how Daniel was able to rise about so many adversities in his life.

– He endured the pressures of living under a pagan government through the rhythm of prayer.
– When his co-workers conspired against him, he overcame with the rhythm of prayer.
– After being thrown into a den of lions, he makes it out alive through the rhythm of prayer.
– He was able to prophesy God’s Word because he heard God’s voice through the rhythm of prayer.

Make up your mind today, that you’re not just going to pray, but you are going to reach a new level in God through the rhythm of prayer.

Daniel 6:10

When Daniel learned that the decree had been signed and posted, he continued to pray just as he had always done. His house had windows in the upstairs that opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he knelt there in prayer, thanking and praising his God.

21 DAYS OF RHYTHM, RESTORATION AND RELEASE (DAY 1)

DAY 1

“BEGIN AGAIN”

As a Christian, a disciple of Christ and minister of the gospel, I find myself in a familiar place. I simply call it, “The Begin Again Place”. This is not a play on words, but rather a personal reminder to me, that when things are getting a little crazy and I’m not exactly sure what to do, I have to go back to where things began with God and me. It’s not that I’m having to start over with the Lord, but sometimes life can cause me to become distracted and I find myself drifting. The closer I am to God, the less worried and stressed I become when difficult things come my way. So, the best way I’ve found to get back where I once was, is to “BEGIN AGAIN”.

I am the lead pastor at Point Of Mercy Church and I have felt led of the Lord to start a 21-day prayer, fasting and Bible study campaign. I’m calling it, “THE BEGIN AGAIN PROCESS” and it starts today. As a church, we are facing several things that we need direction in. As a pastor, I understand that I am the shepherd and I have to lead this flock where God wants us to go. If I’m not where I should be in my relationship with God, then I won’t be able to hear and see where He’s wanting to take us. Also, if the congregation isn’t where they should be, the enemy will be able to hinder their progress.

We are a church in a very trying season. We have faced a lot of adversity, but I understand, that where much is given, much is required. Sometimes, God allows things to happen just to test the strength and endurance of His people. I have said for many years, If God is allowing you to go through something, it’s because He believes you can endure it. He wouldn’t let it come your way if He didn’t believe in you. With that being said, God must really believe in Point Of Mercy, because we are going through a time sifting. When this season is over, we will know and understand two important things.

1. We could have never made it without renewing our relationship with God. (BEGIN AGAIN)

2. Through being tested, we discovered who was really with us.

So, here we go, it’s day one of the “Begin Again” process.

Perhaps, as you’re reading this, you find yourself identifying with us. You’re not lost, but you’ll admit that you’ve been in a drift for some time and you need to get back where you once were. Let me encourage you to “Begin Again”. Go back to where you started with God. Be renewed with 21 days of prayer, fasting and Bible study. As crazy and hectic as life may be, make time for restoration. Get back to the place where God’s voice was louder than the noise.

Day 1 starts with a repented heart.

God, please forgive me for allowing certain things, (you can be more specific) to cause me to become distracted from what Your purpose and plan are for me. Today I’m returning to you for a renewal in my heart, mind, body and soul. Let me be broken in your presence and determined in my environment, to keep you front and center in all I do. Amen.

Hosea 6:1
Come and let us return to the Lord, for He has torn so that He may heal us; He has stricken so that He may bind us up.

MADE UP MIND MONDAY

Overcoming is not something you always feel, but it’s what you believe. You’ll never change your situation until you change how you think. As long as you let your surroundings dictate your decisions, things are going to stay the same. Faith is acting on what you believe can happen through the power of God. This is not always an emotional move, but it has to be a mental move. When you see the mountain moving in your mind, it’s easier to speak to it and command it to disappear. 

So today is not about how you feel, it’s what you believe. Let your determination be greater than your worry and stress. Declare today as, “MADE UP MIND MONDAY”!!!

STORING OR STOPPING

I would like to personally thank everyone that takes the time to read each blog that I write. As stated on my website, my desire is to encourage, inspire and challenge as many as possible through the ministry that God has called me to. That is preaching/teaching, writing songs and more recent, blogging. Because of my family’s music ministry, I’ve not been able to blog as much as I’ve wanted to. All of our efforts, for the last two months have been in the completion of our newest album, that was released on May 31st. Since that time, I’ve been able to refocus on my blogging, which is a deep passion of mine.

You may be wondering why I’m writing about this, but as I was preparing for today’s blog, I thought that my juggling act, for the last few months, might help someone. You see, my life consists of being a husband, father, lead pastor, singer, song-writer, musician and blogger. Yes…my plate is pretty full and if everything isn’t timed exactly right, it can be overwhelming. When things begin to snowball, you have to make some important decisions. Sometimes, when you can’t do everything, you have to determine what is most important at that particular time.

You have to know the difference in storing and stopping. Don’t stop what you’ve been gifted to do, just store it for a while until you can put more time and effort in it. Even though my focus has been on getting our new album completed, I still reminded myself of the things I had stored. I love blogging, but I had to put my blogging in storage for a while. That didn’t mean I had stopped and I refused to get discouraged because I wasn’t able to blog at the time. I even planned the week I would start back with consistent blogging. I may not be able to blog everyday, but I’m back in the routine.

Now, for my disclaimer. I’m not the most structured person in the world. I’m not writing this blog to try and convince you that I am. However, in my busy life, I’ve learned a rhythm and if your frustrated and having a hard time getting everything accomplished, maybe this will encourage you. For me, I had to figure out what my options were for what could be stored, what should be stopped and what had to keep going. You have to start with what has to keep going. For me, I knew the things that were not optional. Those are things that only you can do and you have to make sure they get done. I’m a husband and a father first and for me, those things are non-negotiable. That’s a personal conviction of mine and even though I’m a pastor, I’m a husband and father before that.

For you, it may be something totally different, but if you have a family, you have to keep that going. I have found that when there is peace at home, there will be peace in other places too. Don’t ever choose to store or stop the progression of your family. Whatever it is, that only you can do, make sure it follows your involvement with your family. Continue doing the things that can’t be stopped, then look at the things that can be stored. Follow your passion with disciplined priorities.

Maybe you’re completing something right now and you’ve had to take time away from something else that you’re passionate about. Perhaps you’re even discouraged and you’ve been thinking of giving that up. Take my advice and move that from the stopped category and place it in storage. Let your unfinished book be in storage, not stopped. Let that project you’ve always wanted to do, be stored away and not stopped indefinitely. You can still plan while something is sitting in storage. Sure, your main objective is to complete what is most important for right now, but if you get a creative idea, write it down and store it.

Not to mention, when you take a break from something, as soon as you start back, you sometimes have an excited, renewed feeling, much like you did when you first started. Doing too many things at one time can cause you to be completely overwhelmed and even make decisions that you will later regret. Give your undivided attention on what is most important now and keep your other passion stored on a shelf, so you can be reminded that it’s still there and not thrown away. Don’t allow your current project to suffer because your spending so much of your time worrying about what isn’t getting done. Know what your gifts are, but more importantly, know when is the right time to be working on each of them.

Continue to do what has to be done, prioritize what is most important right now and store what can be started at a later time. Remember, you haven’t stopped anything…you’ve only stored it for a season.

COMPLETE FORGIVENESS

The true power of forgiveness is understanding the completion of forgiveness. Jesus said ,when we pray, we are to say; “Forgive us our transgressions as we Forgive those who transgress against us” Matthew 6:12.

Forgiveness is incomplete when it is received, but not given. Everyone of us are recipients of the incredible mercy of God, but too many times we hold back from others what has never been withheld from us. The completion of forgiveness is allowing to pour out of our life what has been poured into it. It’s easy to receive it, but it’s hard to surrender it.

The Bible says that God makes His mercies new every morning. Maybe we should pray for the same thing. Father, I thank you for renewing your mercy to me this morning, now I pray that my mercy would be renewed for those whom I need to forgive. Perhaps this is cliche´, but some things can only be accomplished one day at a time. Be thankful for the forgiveness you have received and complete it by giving it away. That’s how you, “COMPLETE FORGIVENESS”.

THE CORNER

It’s the dead end of where two walls meet. The stopping point for anything caught in it. You can’t go any further once you’re there. This is why we hear the famous phrase, “I’m Backed Into A Corner”. This saying is defined like this:
To be forced into a difficult situation which you have little control over.

Many times when I’m writing, I try to visualize what I’m talking about. In this instance, I couldn’t help but see the old cartoon of Tom and Jerry on one of their famous cat and mouse chases. I can just see Tom running after Jerry and finally getting that little mouse backed into a corner and just when Tom thinks he’s got him cornered, Jerry discovers a way out of no way.

Honestly, sometimes I feel like my life has so much in common with Jerry. Running here and there, trying to find a way out of so many situations. That mean ole cat keeps chasing me and will not let up!!! After so long, I just get tired of running and then I find myself backed into a corner, with no way out. As crazy as it sounds, I can somehow hear the theme music to the Tom and Jerry show playing as I’m typing.

Truthfully, sometimes I feel like God allows us to get chased or backed into a corner. You may ask, why would He do that? One of the reasons, is because that saying means you now have no control. There are times that God can only take over when we’re at a dead end. There is a big difference in someone praying when they realize they are out of options. I could start a list of names from people in the Bible who experienced the corner. We could visit Joseph in the bottom of a well or Moses standing at a Red Sea. We could look at David standing in front of a giant or Hannah praying for God to give her a baby. Check out Simon Peter locked up in a prison cell or John the Revelator left alone on an island. There are countless names, but they all have one thing in common…they were all backed into a corner and knew that only God could bring them out.

You have either been there, or you’re there right now. If this is your current situation, maybe God is allowing this to happen because He wants you to let Him take control. You’ve been trying to fix it yourself, but it’s not working and it won’t. Give this situation to God and I promise you, He will not leave you in the corner. Sometimes He waits for a situation to become impossible before He shows up, because you can’t fix impossible. Once He makes a way, out of no way, you will look back and say, “Only God Could Have Delivered Me Out Of That”. Come on, give it to Him…it’s time for you to get out of “THE CORNER”!!!

GO BACK

Sometimes you find yourself in a situation that you are not sure where to go. You want to move forward, but it’s easier said than done. You’re not at a stand still because you want to be, you just feel like you can’t move on. You would love nothing more than to be out of the current situation you are in, but you just don’t feel a release to move forward. How do you move on from where you are?

As strange as it may sound, sometimes the best way to go forward is to go back. I know you might be thinking, to go back means you’re giving up ground that you’ve already traveled, but understand, I’m not talking about going back to live, I’m only suggesting that you visit where you’ve already been. What is ahead of you is unknown, but what is behind you has already been conquered.

Going back means, you want to be reminded of how you got where you are. You’ve made it this far because God has brought you through so many adversities. As you look ahead, you may not know what the road is going to look like, but behind you are steep mountains you’ve crossed and dark valleys that God has brought you out of. There are past healings and miracles you’ve experienced and you will remember them when you go back. There is no way I can write everyone of your blessings that you’ve had, but I’m sure you’re starting to remember them as you’re reading these words. Perhaps you’re on your way back now.

You are going to come out of this trial, but sometimes the strength you need to move forward can only be found in the faith that you have already used in your past. So don’t worry about moving forward today, just take a little time and go visit where you’ve already been.

WHERE ARE YOU NOW?

While talking to a friend of mine last night, we began to share goals that each of us have that we’ve not reached yet. I’m sure you know about that too. He is being very successful in real-estate, but is still not where he wants to be and even wishes he was further along than where he currently is. He told me that there are so many people that come to him about getting into the business and wanting to start flipping houses. They will ask him what they should do to start flipping houses. The problem is, he said, that they have their eyes set on the wrong target. They see where they want to go, but they fail to realize where they are. The advice he gives to them is, know where you are now and work from there. In other words, what is your credit score? What kind of skills do you have in home repairs? These are just to name a few, but I thought his advice was excellent.

I shared with him that although he was in real-estate and I am in ministry, the same advice applies. When people dream, they envision where they want to be, but very seldom do they wake up and realize, they have to figure out the next step. The first two letters in the word goal is, GO. A goal doesn’t just happen, you have to go after it and to do that, you have to know where you are. You must work toward a goal in order to get there. The reason a lot of people never reach their goals is because they only envision the future and not the present.

So, what do you want to do? What do you want to become? Where do you see yourself in a few years? Would you like for that dream to become a reality? If so, then figure out where you are right now. Every little thing you do in the present is determining whether or not you reach your goal in the future. Maybe it’s time to stop dreaming and start working. Your dreams are constant, but your discipline may not be consistent. The longer you wait to get started, the more you are going to deal with regrets. Even if you don’t reach all of your goals, you’ll still be able to say, you gave it everything you had. The only real failure, is to not even try.

Since we all have dreams and goals that we have yet to reach, let’s allow these words to encourage us and get started from where we are now.

THE PURSUIT

We’ve all heard the statement, “FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS” and I believe that with all of my heart. Chase what you wish for and pursue your passion. Whatever your gifts or talents are, they will be at their best when you are doing something that you love with all your heart. Imagine what life will be like when you are doing what you’ve always dreamed of. As you begin your pursuit, let me encourage you on your journey.

Obviously you have to chart your course. Nobody gets anywhere unless they know where they’re going and then map out a plan. That’s what you have to figure out. You must have a plan to get from point A to point B. Your dream will only begin to become a reality when you start charting your course. You can’t just want to be there, you have to know how to get there. It may take you some time, but every minute of planning you do is another step on your journey.

One last thing. Don’t let the pursuit of your dream become greater than your pursuit of God. If you reach your goal, but lose your relationship with God in the process, what have you really gained? Some people feel like they can put God on a shelf while they chase their dreams and once they arrive, then they will take Him back. I’m afraid too many people forget where their gift came from. They walk away from the one who gave the ability to do what they are doing.

You may be successful without God, but you will never be blessed. His blessings affect things that you can never do. When His blessings are on your life, He will not only bless you, but He will also bless the ones that bless you and curse the ones that curse you. You can’t get that on your own. You can build your own latter to climb or you can trust in God and watch Him elevate you to places you’ve never imagined. If you put God in front of your dream, then He’s guiding every step you take. However, if you put your dream in front of God, then what you want is guiding your steps and you are much more vulnerable to losing your relationship with God.

My advise to you is in the words that Jesus said in Matthew 6:33.

But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.