Category Archives: Faith

All things faith related.

The Genuine Power of Music

What song has been stuck in your head lately? For me, it’s the Andy Griffith theme song. My son is into the show lately, and I find myself whistling it without warning.

What song did you dance to during that special moment in your past? I’ll bet you know just the one I’m talking about. I’ll bet you turn it up every time it comes on the radio.

And what song do you turn on extra loud when you need to get your head on straight and get pumped up for your big event? (Let me guess—Eye of the Tiger?)

I’m sure you see my point by now…music is more than something we just turn on in the background occasionally. For most of us, music has genuine power. It has the ability to influence our thoughts, emotions, and even spirit in just an instant.

Did you know music is referenced in the Bible HUNDREDS of times? It’s true. Music is often a big part of a centered, Godly life.

In this day and age, we encounter darkness every direction we turn. Whether it’s in our schools, next door, places of authority, or overseas, there’s no denying that satan is on the move in big new ways. Of course, Ecclesiastes 1:9 reminds us that “there’s nothing new under the sun,” so none of this is a surprise to God, overwhelming though life may seem sometimes. But what are we supposed to do in the face of such darkness?

Thankfully, God has given us effective coping mechanisms while we do our best to live well our time on earth while also craving the spiritual perfection of heaven. Besides spending time with God and others who love God, music is a powerful strategy that can point our eyes toward Jesus while also uplifting our very souls.

Of course, like anything good, humans have found ways to corrupt God’s good gift of music, so being selective in our music choices is key. While clean mainstream music can also be uplifting, when we’re feeling discouraged, fearful, or distant from God, it’s helpful to reach for something a little more substantial.

I don’t know about you, but turning on the local Christian station or finding a good praise CD or playlist can make all the difference in my day.

As a mom to three awesome kids, a goal of mine has been to pour encouraging, Godly music into their lives and brains. Why? Because when hard times come, as they have and will continue to do, those songs will be seared on their very souls.

The Holy Spirit loves to bring to the surface songs that are tucked away in my mind to encourage me in hard times, and I want that for my kids as well. In this way, we can be encouraged by God’s truths even if we’re stuck somewhere without batteries or power, when we’re sitting beside the hospital bed of a loved one, or when we’re falling asleep in the stillness of night.

Memorizing Scripture is a wonderful practice that I highly recommend, but to be honest…I’m not very good at it. Memorizing songs, however, is often effortless. And if I find songs that contain direct verses, even better! Once a song has a place in our brains, it rarely leaves, which is why it’s our job to make sure we consume music that is full of light. It’s our job to encourage our children to consume music that is full of light.

Music becomes a part of us and can even direct the desires of our hearts. Music is a more powerful gift from above than most people give it credit for. So go ahead and flip that radio on if it’s been awhile. Fill your home and your heart with praise and see what a difference it can make.

Lauren Daigle, Bethel Music, and Toby Mac are some of my personal go-tos when I need a musical spiritual boost. Who are some of yours?

Are Your Emotions Telling the Truth?

“Life was simpler in the good ol’ days.” Sound familiar? Do you agree or disagree?

I’d say it’s true in many ways. People used their brains more than their emotions back then. Self-control, discipline, logic, and truth were king. Nowadays, these virtues are ridiculed more often than they are respected. In a society fueled by emotion, what if we made a point to be different?

Emotions Lie

The current popular mentality sounds something like this: If you feel something, it’s true for you. Follow your feelings. (Even if that means cheating on your spouse and destroying your family … Even if it means severing family relationships for petty reasons and living a lifetime of regret).

When you boil it down, our emotions lie to us, but we often eat these lies up as truth. We think if we feel something, it’s a part of us. It becomes who we are–something we can’t change.

This is a lie.

Emotions are a Blessing

Emotions are God-given, but just like every other good God-given gift (talents, money, sex, etc.), humans easily distort the gift until it becomes bad. This is how we end up holding grudges, dealing with unchecked anger, or letting disappointment dictate our lives. We need to seek God’s help in order to strive for healthy emotional responses (sometimes he may direct us to professional help). With His help, we can train our brains to reign over our emotions.

Emotions aren’t bad; they are beautiful, wonderful things. In fact, God has emotions! But when emotions start leading us instead of the other way around, we walk into some murky waters and usually end up with regrets.

Emotions Need Controlled

My husband recently told me he read that the most successful leaders are those who listen to other perspectives, being willing to change course as they are convinced it is correct. They don’t go into a situation ready to demand their own way. People follow them because they listen as they lead. They’re reasonable. Steady. Is that you? Is that me?

When we hold conversations with others who hold differing views, do emotions rule our words? Do we let our emotions run the show to the point of losing the other person’s trust and respect? If so, that’s a good sign we need to be deliberate in managing our emotions.

A Higher Standard

As I have been writing fiction that takes place in the 1940s, it’s been fun to dive into the research. Things were much more proper and disciplined then because people knew and accepted that it was irresponsible to run your life by emotion.

The world seems to have forgotten these basics. These days, if you don’t run your life by emotion, you’re labelled as stuffy, unaccepting, or old-fashioned. That’s fine by me. Those labels certainly don’t hurt my feelings when I know I’m holding myself to a higher standard.

We need to rise to a higher standard for ourselves and for society. Society is unraveling for lack of morals and structure, in favor of doing whatever feels good. It’s time to flip that narrative on its head. The only way for society to function in good health is for us to function as healthy individuals. If we don’t, we invite worlds of regret and broken relationships, and we miss out on the depth that God and life have to offer.

What God Says

I’m not saying it’s easy to put boundaries on our emotions, nor can I give you easy steps to do so. Heaven knows I haven’t figured it out yet, but I do know lots of prayer and determination are in order.

But what does the Bible say about emotions? A lot. Here are just a few relevant verses:

  • “One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city.”   – Proverbs 16:32
  • “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.”    – Proverbs 15:18
  • “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” -Jeremiah 17:9
  • “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.”   – Philippians 2:3

As a Christ-follower, I want to look different than the world. While the world around us explodes with fear and anger, what if we refused to join in? What if, instead, we looked to Jesus to be our anchor and source of steadiness? That’s the picture of emotional health I want to strive for.

Let me know in the comments how I can pray for you today! And if you have strategies for keeping your emotions in check, I would love to hear them. Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

Also, if you’re looking for some Christian fiction for yourself or your teen, head over to jessiemattis.com/books to check out my books and download my newest novella, Love on a Whim, for free!

The Value of Old Age

I absolutely love hearing stories from older generations. My own grandpa, a WWII veteran, is a wealth of information. Yes, he’s alive and well in his 90s, raising horses, gardening, and reading in his down time. (I think he said his list of books read in 2021 topped 88.) He is full of wisdom, knowledge, and stories, but the funny thing is—he doesn’t seem to realize it. In his quiet, humble way, he goes about his days like anyone else, not realizing the value of what he has to offer from his wealth of life experience.

Not my grandpa…but likely someone’s. 🙂

ASK QUESTIONS

If we don’t ask questions and start conversations with the elders in our lives, they may never share their wealth of wisdom and experience! Isn’t that a tragic thought?

Several years ago, when I set out to write historical fiction, I had the privilege of interviewing my grandpa. Even though he’s quiet and unassuming, he’s happy to share when someone asks questions.

I learned loads about him and my grandma from that interview, including personal war stories you’d never see in a history book. In my opinion, knowing family history greatly enriches a person’s heart and life.

With age comes a special kind of wisdom and understanding that is only gained through living a long life. So let’s ask questions while we have the opportunity! Invite the ones who lived through the Holocaust, polio, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and all the conflicts since and in-between to speak into our lives. Let them give us things to think about that we’ve never before considered. Let them say things that challenge our current opinions and assumptions.

MAKE GOD SMILE 

It’s never too late to start conversations with those of advanced years. We might just be surprised what we learn. And not only does it show them they are honored and valued; I think it makes God smile. Not only do I think he smiles, I think he’s deeply pleased because this has been his plan all along. Take these verses, for instance:

Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. –Leviticus 19:32a

Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.  –1Kings 12:6

WE ALL HAVE MUCH TO LEARN

I recently released a free historical romance novella here on my website (www.jessiemattis.com) called LOVE ON A WHIM. The idea for the plot was sparked by a one-paragraph blurb I read about one woman’s experience during World War II. Her story of meeting and exchanging addresses with a Europe-bound soldier passing through Ohio when his train made a quick stop was enough to ignite an entire story in my mind. This was a starting point I could never have thought of myself, as I’d never even heard of the canteens that were set up at train stations to serve soldiers passing through at the time. I’m so thankful I had a glimpse into that woman’s personal story from the 1940s.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we all have a lot to learn, and our elders are a great starting point. God’s design of families and different generations is a beautiful gift in so many ways. Let’s use his gift well.

Do you enjoy chatting and gleaning wisdom from older people in your life? Tell me more in the comments – I love these types of stories! And if you haven’t already subscribed, I’d love to have you join my monthly newsletter list. You’ll get my free LOVE ON A WHIM ebook as well as monthly inspiration and humor delivered right to your inbox. Thanks for reading, and have a great week!  

Good News for Those Longing to be Known

I rarely spoke during class in high school. If I wasn’t talking to one of my very few close friends, my nose was buried in a book. Why? Not because I didn’t like anyone else, as everyone probably assumed. But because I was extremely shy and far more insecure than I would like to admit. It took me a long time to get to know someone well enough to be myself around them.

So there I would sit. Alone with my nose in a book in a noisy classroom full of students. Longing to be known so that I could feel comfortable enough to participate in the jokes and conversations around me. Longing for someone to dig deep enough to get to know the real me.

Christmas is around the corner, and for many it’s been a hard year. An isolating year, perhaps. Maybe your friend or family member is sick or passed away and you’re struggling just to go through the motions of life. Maybe you feel like you have no one to be real with because the people in your life (and you, perhaps) are on edge. Maybe life is going great, but you’re so busy doing all the December things that conversation with others never goes deeper than surface level. You don’t feel seen. You don’t feel known.

It’s been a challenging year, and part of keeping a healthy frame of mind means being in relationship with others. We were designed for relationship, and as wonderful as it is to have great friends and family, even they can’t fulfill our deepest longing to be known.

Only Jesus can do that. And boy, am I thankful. Having been a Christian all my life and having leaned on Jesus more times than I can count, it makes me sad to think of people not having that security and encouragement in their lives. Being known and loved by God himself is a great privilege of the Christ-follower. When no one understands, he does. When we feel all alone, we’re not. When we’re most in need, he’s there. That’s good news if you ask me.

If you don’t yet have this – the Relationship of all Relationships – it’s easy to get there. Simply go to him. He’s hoping you will. Try praying something like this:

“Jesus, I want to be known by you. Life is hard and I need you with me. Forgive me for living apart from you for so long. I give you my heart and my life. Thank you for loving me, saving me, and being with me always. Amen.”

And if you still need convinced or reminded that God himself knows and loves you, this is the way Psalm 139:1-6 puts it:

“Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.” 

In God’s presence, we don’t have to bury our nose in a book due to insecurity. We are already loved, accepted, and known by him. We’re free to openly share conversation, sorrows, fears, and even laughter and jokes with him.

This Christmas season, I challenge us all to practice drawing near to the only One who will ever truly know us. The One who says, in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” Let’s be deliberate to open ourselves up to the One who drew so near, he physically came down to earth from heaven to show us his sacrificial love in a radical way.

Have a blessed Christmas, and I would love to hear in the comments specific ways you like to focus on Jesus during the busy Christmas season. Christ-centered Christmas music is one of my favorite ways! (And if you enjoy cozy Christian fiction, hop on over to my Books/Extras page to find out more about my new Christmas book!)

“Almost Christmas Again”… Thy Will Be Done

Not my will but yours.

This refrain appears throughout the story Almost Christmas Again—the heart’s cry of a young lady trying to find love, yet finding nothing but closed doors. (Did I mention? Almost Christmas Again is the title of my contribution to a recently released book of six stories: Christmas From the Heart: A Collection of Christmas Romances.)

If the woman in the story had pried open one of life’s earlier doors (figuratively) due to her own stubbornness, she would have settled for less than God’s best and most likely found herself living in regret.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We are all prone to inept human nature trying to take control.

Only by actively choosing to lay aside our will can we accept the perfect will of the One who created us, loves us, and works all things for the good of His people.

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.

-Luke 22:42

What a profound example Jesus sets for us in this verse as he pours out his heart in agony to the Father before his crucifixion. One mark of true Christian maturity is recognizing that our will may not be in alignment with what is best, and then begging God for His will to be done instead of our own. Let’s all focus on embracing this week with a thy will be done mentality and watch how God moves in our lives!

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And for all of you looking for a cozy, romantic, festive read with an eternal perspective, I hope you’ll consider checking out the story Almost Christmas Again in the compilation book Christmas From the Heart: A Collection of Christmas Romances. I personally love that the six different stories aren’t full length; less of a commitment, yet still a fun escape during the busy holiday season! 😊

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! Also, let me know what your all-time favorite Christmas book (or movie!) is. I’ll go first – to be honest, I haven’t read a ton of Christmas novels, but the movie White Christmas will always be at the top of my list! Now it’s your turn! 🙂