Last weeks “Daily Encouragements” from Carole Carnie

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A Thankful Heart
A Thankful Heart
We Remember!
What You Have Done to the Least of These
He is the Reason
He Is!
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Ministry vs Entertainment: by Carole Carnie

When is music in the church considered entertainment, or ministry? I’m attempting to tackle this controversial issue, because it’s a dispute that many musicians, and “worship leaders” face as they serve their churches each week with dedication, with their hearts, and with their “God-given” skills.” Imagine with me if you will, that the skills you “know” God has blessed you with, to serve Him is constantly under scrutiny; and its significance to the church is continually questioned! Then add to that, your heart for ministry being challenged by those asking,”is what you do entertaining, or ministry?”
Now, as you read this blog, attempt to empathize with the musicians, and the worship leaders by placing yourselves, and your skills at the center of this debate!

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I’ve always been a curious individual! My curiosity is stimulated by my love of life, and people! Developing healthy relationships is extremely important to me; healthy relationships fuel my desire to understand why people act, do, or say what they say! By having a better understanding of people, you are able to cultivate better relationships. By investing in good relationships, essentially you are investing in your own happiness. Studies have shown that when we have good relationships, we are happier, healthier, and are our most productive selves! Of course, the added bonus is that our churches, and communities benefit from the building of good,and healthy relationships.

I’m forever looking for the back story in all situations, more often than not, thi
s is where the “real truth” lies. Having a curious nature has helped me to see past the smokescreens people often put up in order to conceal what their real issues are. My past experience as a Senior Compliance Officer at a major bank has served me well. My training to look for, audit, and ensure that the Bank did not violate customer’s, or employee’s rights by treating them despairingly, supported my love for fairness, and diversity.””This is who I am, not what I do.” I shared this information about myself, with hopes that you would have a better understanding of the individual who is writing this blog.

This controversy over music in the church has been on going for many years. This issue is divisive, and will continue to be so until God’s people realizes, “enough is enough!”  It’s erosive, and tears at the very heart of God’s principle found in John 13:35, By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”This “divide and conquer strategy” presently existing in our churches, continue to prevent unity among the congregation! The issue whether music is entertainment, or ministry may also violate another principle of God, and that is “not to judge!” The judgement of others is “spiritual malpractice,” because God  admonishes us against judging one another. However, as we continue the battle over this issue, our attention is diverted from what is known as, the “Great Commission,” which is making disciples of man, found in “Matthew 28:19-20 As our American churches continue to decline in growth, I pray that God’s people will wake up and realize that while we are fighting amongst ourselves, people’s very salvation is at stake!

This is such a complex issue with many contributing factors, such as our cultural backgrounds; and even within the same cultures there are different musical preferences. You can break down likes, and dislikes even further in the same culture when you take age into account; different age groups are drawn to different musical styles. Now add to that where an individual is raised, and that will also play a part in what kind of music is preferred. I hope you are beginning to grasp the complexity of the question regarding music in the church. We haven’t even discussed the fact that some individuals are more expressive than others. Case and point, I express passion in everything I do in life, especially when it comes to music. Come to our church on any given Sunday and I’m the one moving the most. And then there is JC, his approach to life is calm, cool, and reserved. I’m sure there are many more contributing factors, “which I know I’m not aware of,” which contributes to forming our preferences to certain styles of music; however I hope you are now beginning to understand why this issue may not be just about
music alone. I’m sure there are many more contributing factors to why we are drawn to certain music, however I hope you understand why I believe the issue of music may not be about music alone. What further complicates this issue, is when a church is striving toward congregational diversity, the issues become even more passionate, and complexed!.

I personally believe that there is oftentimes a “back story” when discussing music in the church. By this I mean, there may be something not being said that has nothing at all to do with music.The conversation surrounding the topic of music may be a smokescreen to cover what really needs to be discussed! That could be the style of music, how the music is being presented, is the music being expressed too passionately or not, and is it causing too much response from the congregation? And in some instances, the issue may be “who” is leading the music.

Painting by J. Carnie.
“Worship” Painting by J. Carnie.

In an attempt to remove this elephant out of our sanctuaries, (entertainment vs. ministry) one thing that I know for sure, is that this potentially explosive issue which has been simmering for years, has to stop if churches are to expect any future growth.Statistics show that our American churches are on the decline! I encourage you to consider this, “it can be disheartening” for any musician to have their God-given skill, which was given to them by God to glorify Him, (not man) to come under such fire within the church; by questioning its praise worthiness to God! The church should be a place that is nurturing and loving to all. It’s dangerous to think that anyone can look at what’s being offered up to God as praise, (music) and determine the sincerity of the deliverer. I’m going out on the limb by asking, why do we consider it acceptable to question the gifts of our “worship leaders,” however we would never dare to label the pastor’s gifts as “motivational speaking.” For some, I know this comment may sting, but allow me to assure you that each time this debate takes place about our “worship leaders,” and the musicians who tirelessly serve our congregations weekly, they are feeling the sting of their offering to God being misunderstood.

The definition of ministry is, any service which is done for a religious purpose. Now, if the worship leader was not singing for the purpose of glorifying God, it would be safe to say he/she is an entertainer. Follow me, if a pastor is not speaking for the purpose of God, he/she would be a motivational speaker. My question to you is, why can’t music be both entertaining, and ministry, with neither devaluing the other? We all know pastors’ who deliver the message with passion, and yes they are entertaining, but does that somehow take away from the fact that they are ministering the “word” of God, for God, to the people of God? And to those who may be driving the conversation regarding music in the church, I am curious know, by what criteria are you using to derive at your conclusion? Especially when we know that God looks at the heart, and man looks outwardly. As established earlier, our preference to music is a complex issue with many contributing factors.

Recently, an article was published where a member of a church was requesting advice from Billy Graham about the musical styles in her church. She was complaining about the contemporary music in the church, and went on to say that she preferred hymns. This is a condensed version of his response, “we have a singing faith, and God has given us the gift of music to praise Him.(Psalm 63:5) He urged the writer to ask God to help her to be grateful for all music that points us to God, new or old. He further said, while you may not like the music, others may, and God can use it in their live to encourage them and bring them closer to Christ.”

Musical Trivia: Until the last 1800’s, the organ was the church’s primary instrument, and the piano was considered a secular instrument, unfit for church.

 

From My Heart to Your Heart,

Carole Carnie

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Created for Carole Carnie Ministries by Carnie Studios (C) (P) 2015.

In association with “Loving Hands Ministries Inc.” 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization

A Love Letter to My Main Man: by Carole Carnie

It’s 4 a.m. Sunday morning, and already I’m yearning for some alone time before we head off to the church. As always, I expect that once we arrive for worship you will no longer be “all” mine! You are so reliable, like clockwork you are precise and dependable, you are never late! No matter how many individuals you support durning the week, each Sunday you tirelessly usher the congregation into the presence of “Your Father.” That’s what I love most about you, “your dedication to “Our Father.”Before I was completely awake this morning, and before I even opened my eyes, just the thought of you made my heart skip a beat. When I finally awakened, the first image I saw was yours, and it was clear that I was exactly where I was meant to be, “next to you!”  Undeniably I am a blessed woman!

As I began to rustle out of bed, I paused for a moment, wanting to get one last glimpse of you before we started our day. Even with your responsibilities of attending to the needs of others, you still check on me from time to time to ensure me that I am loved. You always make yourself available to me, you are never too busy to hear my desires. You listen as if I am your only interest, and when I express my concerns regarding “our sons,” you reassure me that they will be just fine! Throughout the day all I need to do is think about you, and a calm immediately comes over me. Then my heart skips a beat, because of the overwhelming joy I’m feeling at that very moment. I then think, I can hardly wait until this day is over so we can share some quite, private time together. I long to nestle comfortably in your strong arms, and feel protected against the world. I love you more than the first time we met, you are my greatest love!

I look tenderly at you, thankful that your face was the first thing I saw this morning, and blessed that it is last thing I will see before falling asleep. I pray you are in my dreams! I love you with all my being, and I hope you feel the same about me. Good night Jesus ! A love letter from your daughter, Carole.

From My Heart to Your Heart,

Carole Carnie

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Created for Carole Carnie Ministries by Carnie Studios (C) (P) 2015.

In association with “Loving Hands Ministries Inc.” 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization.

CHARLESTON – Face it, to Erase it!: by Carole Carnie

My heart is heavy because it is feeling the weight of all the offensive, and evil acts which are being reported much too often in the media. Allow me to be perfectly clear about my statement that, ” these incidences are being reported much too often.” I’m not saying that these morally revolting attacks against Blacks should not be reported, like it’s been said by some.” The notion that the media is sensationalizing these “violent acts” in an attempt to get our interest, which would cause strong reactions; that these offenses against “Blacks” are being exaggerated in hopes of increasing the networks ratings, for many of us is acerb at best! For us, it offends our sensibilities. The problem for me with taking a position such as this one is, “exaggerated or not,” one act of violence against “any” human being is too much, period!  Hate driven crime should cause all decent people to have a desire to invoke change! There should be an outcry throughout our nation, and I dare to say, “especially in our churches;” which stands for moral rightness!

The Charleston shooting is striking a nerve with most of us because it happened in a sacred place, a place of veneration, a place of reverence, a church! A predator walked into a “house of worship,” was welcomed with acceptance and love, and then murdered in cold blood individuals he had moments prior shared scripture with. I just can’t wrap my brain, or my heart around this atrocious act.  However, I’m hopeful that this egregious, flagrant, and evil act is enough to get “all” of us off the sidelines when it comes to speaking out against racism. We must begin healthy conversations about the disparity of treatment against any group of people. Let’s no longer allow this “evil” to divide us. Let’s no longer empower “evil” with our silence. Let’s have the courage to engage in healthy dialog with one another, attempting to better understand our differences, which can lead to a closer “authentic” relationship, which then can lead to the ultimate payoff for our efforts; ” love, understanding, and respect for one another. This would IMG_2811be living proof that the greatest of all God’s Commandments is, “love.”

Recently I tweeted, “Face it, to Erase it.” In order for us to “erase” racism, we must first “acknowledge” that it is alive and well. I know this is not an easy issue to speak about, in fact it is most likely one of the more difficult discussions to take place between Whites, and Blacks. This statement is not to exclude the importance, or the value that other ethnic groups may have to contribute to this issue, but only to point out that there is a horrific history when it comes to race relations between Whites, and Blacks in this country. With that being said, we can create a new history for ourselves moving forward. A future which embraces the principle, “when you know better, you do better.” We can’t erase the past, however we can bring into existence a better future. It begins with our willingness to start the healing process by talking to one another, not at one another; and the worst culprit is not talking at all!

Many of you are having conversations about what is occurring, however because of the sensitivity, and the uncomfortableness surrounding racism, we are only talking to those who look like ourselves, it’s safe!  However, being safe is not going to solve, or resolve racism. We must  step out of our comfort zones, and oppose such violence. Because my life is enriched by diversity, with individuals who I love, and they love me, I have cultivated relationships built on complete acceptance, this has served to make it easier to have those difficult conversations. I encourage you to become committed to breaking down the walls which can separate us. This issue is allowed to continue to exist, because it’s painful. But look at the pain it causes by not dealing with it. Let’s agree to deal with it, let’s also agree not to come from a position of blame, guilt, or victimization, but from a position of love, and wanting to move forward to a better “America.” Together we can conquer this!

The forum is now open for discussion. “Pinky Love,” and “Pinky Love Brothers and Sisters,” I am depending on you to have the courage to start knocking down these walls of hate, and begin building walls of “love,” by your willingness to enter into a discussion about an issue which threatens to rip us apart at our very core values.

From My Heart to Your Heart,

Carole Carnie

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Created for Carole Carnie Ministries by Carnie Studios (C) (P) 2015.

In association with “Loving Hands Ministries Inc.” 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization.

Follow God’s Lead: by Carole Carnie

When you allow “faith” to take you where you need to go, it’s the best place to be. When you know your destination, you plan which route to take. With “faith” you may, or may not know where you are going, you just go! “Faith” acknowledges that where you end up, is where God wants you to be.

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Created for Carole Carnie Ministries by Carnie Studios (C) (P) 2015.

In association with “Loving Hands Ministries Inc.” 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization.

Diversity by Carole Carnie

D369x254_equal_employment.jpgiversity doesn’t just happen, it’s intentional. It doesn’t happen because you talk about it, or you say you want it, it happens by doing it. To achieve true diversity and sustain it, hearts must be changed, otherwise all you have accomplished is people of different backgrounds and cultures coming together.

We should strive for much more, strive for relationships, bonds, friendships, and eventually love. Then and only then, are we able to show the world God’s principle of, “they will know you are mine by the way you love/treat one another.”

From My Heart to Your Heart,

Carole Carnie

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Created for Carole Carnie Ministries by Carnie Studios (C) 2015.