Olsen Family Blog

News • Articles • Resources

Can Music Make You Feel God’s Emotions?

Music is a powerful entity — a force like gravity. It drives both the Christian and secular world. Some people say they live to make and listen to music. 

Think about it. 

Have you ever heard a song and instantly remembered where you were and how you felt when you first heard it?  

Music is one of the only tools that can make you feel emotions without your knowledge. It can change your whole mood, even if it’s just instrumental.

Music can make us feel:

  • Sad
  • Happy
  • Hopeful
  • Contemplative
  • Nostalgic
  • Angry 

Interestingly, if instruments didn’t exist, music still would. It can be made just by singing and clapping. It’s innate. We can’t get rid of it!  

I believe God designed music for the great purpose of helping us feel and encounter His emotions. It has been so distorted – and diverted – from its original intent, but I know God has a plan to use worship as a catalyst for reviving and restoring hearts.

Imagine musicians that spend time encountering God and His emotions, and from that place create music that they feel reflects His heart. Using music as the catalyst God created it to be, God could convey His emotions through these musicians.

How has music affected you in the past? 

How to Maximize Your Time With God

Our time we spend with God is paramount. Reading the Word and praying are essential. It’s how we know God.  Given the importance of this time period, it should be a high priority to get the most out of our time with God.

The funny thing is, whenever I want to spend time with God, I am generally the most distracted. And tired. How does that never fail to happen? Sit on the bed, open the Bible…and conk. It’s most definitely spiritual narcolepsy.

But really, if the time we spend with God is the primary way to know God, why wouldn’t the devil do all he can to distract, confuse, or disrupt this time of meeting? And how can we practically fight to keep this time? 

Here is a short list of what has helped me:

  1. Schedule your time with God, daily. Some people desire to spend more time with God but fail to plan it into their schedule. Check out this post if you need help making a schedule.
  2. Turn off cellphones, computers, DISTRACTIONS! Seriously, it’s not that important for you to answer that text right away.
  3. Turn on worship and pray in the Spirit. Worship and prayer are the same to God, so turning on worship is both enjoyable and effective.
  4. Get a Bible reading action plan. It’s common to desire to read and study a lot of books and topics but to rarely follow through.  Desires must transcend into action, and a systematic plan is a great way to help achieve goals.
  5. Pray-read the Word. Don’t just read the Word to increase your head-knowledge, but pray what you are reading. “..knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” 1 Cor. 8:1

Take ahold of your time with God and get serious about meeting with Him to know Him and love Him. Don’t just give up when you read a chapter and feel bored. God’s not boring; it’s we who are boring. Take time to let God change your heart to love His Word.

Prayers to Strengthen The Inner Man (F-E-L-L-O-W-S-H-I-P)

In the desire to learn how to increase our prayer life we sometimes don’t know where to begin. It can be discouraging having zeal and then running out of things to pray for. I have definitely experienced this. A prayer list is great, but what exactly do we pray over those we have on the list?

I believe the best prayers are ones that are from the Word. This is a list of scriptures that will help give you dialogue material to speak with God.

View all Prayer Resources

F E L L O W S H I P

FFear of God

  • I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. (Jer. 32:40)
  • The Lord…you shall hallow; let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. (Isa. 8:13)
  • Unite my heart (to Your heart and Word) to fear Your name. (Ps. 86:11)
  • His delight is in the fear of the LORD… (Isa. 11:3)

EEndurance

  • Being strengthened with all power…may have great endurance and patience… (Col. 1:11 NIV)
  • May the Lord direct your hearts into…the patience (endurance) of Christ. (2 Thes. 3:5)
  • It was written, “Zeal for Thy house will consume me (Jesus).” (Jn. 2:17, NAS)
  • Zeal for Your house has eaten me (David) up… I wept and chastened my soul with fasting that became my reproach. I made sackcloth my garment… (Ps. 69:9-11)
  • Phinehas…was zealous with My zeal among them… (Num. 25:11)

Should Christians Be Involved in Politics?

As Christians living in America, we are duel citizens: we are both Americans and future-inhabitants of heaven. But, should one citizenship completely negate the other? More specifically, should Christians be involved in politics – or even vote? 

There are those who believe that God’s ways are so far beyond our day-to-day lives that we should completely ignore that which is around us. In essence, we should solely focus on God so intensely that we ignore things going on around us. After all, those things are temporary, and therefore don’t matter.  

I think this logic is dangerous. While it is true that we should focus primarily on God, to ignore our government, society and state of our world is to ignore how far God came to redeem humanity. He isn’t stoic and detached from our world; He is Immanuel: God with us. 

So is Jesus involved in America’s elections? Does He care who becomes president?

Here are some key verses in regards to God and government:

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” -Rom. 13:1

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord,
Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” -Prov. 21:1

“…He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” -Dan. 2:21

The scriptures make it clear: God is intimately involved with nations, governments and peoples. They are appointed by Him. I believe the Word concludes that God does care about who is king (or president, prime minister, etc) and so should we.

When we vote we are putting our beliefs into action. Our morals, ideologies and philosophies transcend our little chad punches into our nation’s direction. It’s such a great privalege to be able to be an advocate for God in this way.

What are your thoughts – should Christians vote?

Why God Desires 24/7 Worship

We just recently finished 24 hours of non-stop worship this weekend at the missions base. It was incredible. Nine different worship teams from local churches and ministries ministered to the Lord Friday and Saturday as we offered Jesus a 24-hour offering of adoration.

I strongly believe that God desires 24/7 worship and prayer to be found all over the earth. In fact, His Word promises it:

“‘After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up…" -Acts 15:16

In Rev. 4-5 we see a glimpse of what happens in Heaven. In the throne-room where God dwells, angels, creatures and elders sing incessantly, "holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty” forever.

Beyond the general affirmations of God’s desire to bring Heaven and earth together (Eph 1:10, Col 1:19, Matt 6:10, Luke 11:2-3), God makes it explicit that He desires earthly worship to mimic heavenly worship. In Exodus 24-25 God meets with Moses on Mount Sinai and commissions him to build a temple according to what he saw (Exodus 25:8-9). This as an earthly homage to a heavenly reality (I Chronicles 28:19).

Why 24/7 Worship?

24/7 worship and prayer simply cannot be understood apart from the purpose that stands as the ultimate end of everything in the Divine heart: the glory of God.  

The desire for Jesus’ indescribable glory to be seen must be the impetus upon which night and day prayer is founded and the main reason it continues each passing moment.  

  1. We seek to worship 24/7 because Jesus is worthy to be adored forever.
  2. We secondarily petition God to bring justice and make the wrong things right (Luke 18:7).

We, as believers, must focus our time, energy and finances (like king Cyrus) into building a place of 24/7 worship. This is not a new idea. For thousands of years God has found pockets of 24/7 worship.

Today, all across the earth, the Holy Spirit is impressing this reality onto thousands of individuals: Jesus’ unending glory warrants our unceasing praise. 

Read the history of 24/7 worship and prayer here »

Recommended Reading: 

The Worth of Jesus & Night and Day Prayer, Stephen Venable »

Living Life Without Regret (Going For the Gold)

At the end of every believer’s life, they will stand before Christ and their works will be judged. All of their actions will be laid out on the table and they will be rewarded according to them. This judgement seat is not the same as the Great White Throne judgement, where sinners are cast into the eternal lake of fire, but it is still equally devastating.

At this judgment seat, our salvation is not on the line, but our rewards are. In that day, some will feel deep sorrow and regret for the life they squandered and choices they made. Regret on that day will be a terrible, irreversible pain.

I know I have done things I regret. So has your mother and father, your best friend, your doctor – and I’m sure, you. Life is full of things we wish we could undo: a sarcastic remark that hurt a friend, a bad thought or action, even regrets of not doing enough good.

It would be nice if life had an undo button, but it doesn’t. The cold, stark reality is that our choices and actions affect us. There is, of course, forgiveness, but there are still repercussions to our actions.

Take King David for example: his sin with Bathsheba was forgiven, but his illegitimate child still died as a consequence.

“And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.’” 2 Sam. 12:13-14

How can a person live without regret?

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but I believe these to be fundamental cornerstones of living a life without regret:

  1. Write down your life vision/goals. We must view our lives as a whole, not just as a collection of here-and-now moments. When we write down our life vision and goals, our life becomes focused. The way we spend our time must fall in line with the vision.
  2. Plan your day-to-day, week-to-week schedule. Our life vision is meaningless if it doesn’t transcend from paper into our day-to-day life. iCal or Google Calendar are great tools to plan your day in 15-30 min segments. Get a weekly routine going and stick with it. You’ll find that you have so much time that you’ll have to intentionally think What do I want to do with all this extra time?
  3. Get it into your head: Your actions matter! We must live intentionally and not frivolously spend our time. If you think you can do whatever you want whenever you want and ‘figure life out’ later, then you’re in for a sad wake-up call!

Side note: while life is not a problem to be solved, but an adventure to be lived, we should still intentionally set up time-boundaries so we can maximize the adventure of life. We only have one life to live – why squander it? We must stop living life as if we have an undo button – we don’t! We only have reward or regret. Make the right choice.

Recommended resources:

5 Reasons Why You Should Commit Your Goals to Writing, Michael Hyatt

Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper

Living Life Without Regret, Mike Bickle

A Life God Rewards – 5 Myths About the Judgment Seat, Bret Mavrich

Choice by Choice

Question: What’s your greatest hindrance from writing down a life vision? Leave a comment »

How You Can Encounter God in His Word

Everyone does it; we all think it: I gotta get to the next chapter so I can be caught up on my Bible reading plan. It’s as common as my own bad analogies (which are as common as pie in an oven). What causes us to be so preoccupied with getting our 10 chapters in the New Testament finished, or reading our 5 Psalms and 1 Proverb a day? Jesus warned the Jews in His day, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (Jn. 5:39) The Word is what displays God’s character and nature so that we are driven to talking with, and encountering God.

Whenever I sit down in my quiet time with God I struggle to not think, “Where did I leave off and how many chapters do I have to read to catch up?” It’s as if God is more pleased with me cause I read 20 chapters today. 

Imagine if we had that kind of relationship with our spouse. Imagine if we read our spouse’s journal and then never really talked with them. Would you call that a relationship? In the same way we develop a relationship with our spouse – talking with, asking questions, growing in relational knowledge – that is the same way we grow in relationship with God.

3 practical ways to encounter God in His word:

  1. Position your heart to meet with God. When we approach the word in our times of prayer we should position our hearts to meet with God. The purpose of reading the word is to get to know Whom the word points to. Before you read, invite the Holy Spirit there to give you understanding of who God is. We should approach our times with the Word as if we’re meeting a living Person.

  2. Ask God for revelation about what You’re reading. The Bible is full of scriptures that show God’s character, but there are also some that require a bit of searching out to understand the meaning. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Pro. 25:2). If you feel God giving you revelation of Himself through a passage, pause and verbally thank Him for showing Himself to you, then ask for more understanding. Thankfulness to God tenderizes our hearts.

  3. Dialogue with Jesus: Ask specific questions. I remember the first time I read Matthew with the intention of talking with Jesus to know Him better. I remember reading Matt. 4:13, “And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea,” and asking Jesus “Why did you choose that city to start Your ministry in? Did you like that city? Do you like that it’s by the sea? Do you like the sea?” All of the sudden, my understanding of Jesus became much more real – He likes things. Does Jesus enjoy looking out to the sea? Did He like the architecture in Capernaum? Was He nervous at all starting His ministry?  

It’s important that we come to the Bible expecting to learn and grow in our relationship with God. In the same way we grow stronger in our relationship with our spouse or friends after a meaningful conversation, so it can be with God. Our study of the Bible must develop into an active dialogue with the Person of God. Scripture gives us the “conversational material” but it’s up to us to open up our mouths and have that conversation.

Recommended Resources: 

Why You Should Focus on Enjoying God

The question what are we created for has stuck with man-kind since the beginning of time. Our obvious meaning for existence is to glorify God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism states it best: “What is the chief end of man?” And, in response, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” They understood that glorifying God and enjoying Him were one in the same. What if enjoying God was the greatest way to glorify Him? 

Why You Should Focus On Enjoying God

In my own experience, I had previously viewed enjoying God as an added bonus to the true duty of a believer: rigorous obedience to Christian duties (eg. praying, evangelizing, serving), even if those duties are emotionless, loveless. But what does Jesus say? “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word" (Jn. 14:23). Love (delight) and obedience are directly related. Delight is not just a spin-off of obedience to God, but it is part of it.  The strongest type of obedience is affection-based obedience.

The concept of seeking to find our delight in God as a primary goal of a believer is not a new idea.

It goes back to Moses who said, “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart…therefore you shall serve your enemies” (Deut. 28:47-48). And to king David, who prayed, “Satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may…be glad all our days” (Ps. 90:14); and who promised that complete and lasting pleasure is found in God alone: “In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Ps. 16:11).

Even Jesus understood that delight is an essential part of a believer’s duty. Jesus said, “I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (Jn. 15:11); Jesus even endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” (Heb. 12:2).

3 areas impacted by delighting in God:
 

    1. Worship – Worship without delighting in God is nothing more than a religious duty that causes coldness in our hearts. When worship is reduced to a duty, it ceases to exist. Suppose a husband asks his wife if he must kiss her good night. Her answer is, “You must, but not that kind of a must.” What she means is this: “Unless a spontaneous affection for my person motivates you, your overtures are stripped of all moral value.”

      When our aim is to find our pleasure in God, worship becomes a motivated response of love upon seeing the beauty of God. It is a feast to our spirits and a delight to our souls.
    1. Money – America spends a lot of money on our own pursuit of pleasure. 10.5 billion dollars was spent last year on movies alone. Apple Inc’s annual revenue in 2009 was 42.9 billion (a majority of that is mobile devices). It’s clear that we seek our own pleasure as a primary goal in life. But when our primary pleasure is found and satisfied in God, our seeking of other pleasures lessons. We spend our money on entertainment because we are attempting to fill a desire for God. When God is our source of delight, we don’t need to attempt to fill that desire with entertainment.
  1. Relationships – God designed our relationships to be a partnership of support and encouragement in life. Not the source of life. The problem with seeking pleasure outside of God – in regards to relationships – is that we think the other person can fulfill us, and they’re thinking the same thing. Broken hearts, shattered dreams and disillusioned hopes are sure to follow.

    Seeking our delight in God as a primary focus in life causes our relationships to take their proper place: as a mutual partnership of helpers. 

To be clear: I do not mean that our happiness is the highest good. I mean that pursuing the highest good will always result in our greatest happiness in the end. We should not make a god out of our seeking of delight. But in reality, we make a god out of what we take most pleasure in. That ‘god’ should be God.

C.S. Lewis puts it like this:

“If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

What do you think: Is God most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him?

Recommended Reading:

Recommended Books:

Knowing the generation but not the hour

I’m not generally one to take advantage of current trending topics around the globe, but this seems like a good opportunity to get our minds thinking about the end times and the rapture. By now I’m sure you’ve heard: today is the end of the world. This group believes today is the day of the rapture and the beginning of a 5-month destruction of the earth. What does the Bible really say—can we know the day or the hour?

Knowing the trends and events related to the generation that the Lord returns

In Matt. 24 Jesus lays out an overview of the global scene in the generation proceeding His return. Jesus rebuked those who did not heed the prophetic signs that pointed to His coming (Mt. 16:1-4; Lk. 19:41-44). Prophetic signs serve the Church in the same way a weather station signals coming trouble so that people can prepare and save lives.

1 "The Pharisees…came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven…2 Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign…"  (Mt. 16:1-4)

1 “Concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you…4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness [ignorance] so that this Day should overtake [come on you unexpectantly] you as a thief…6 Therefore…let us watch.” (1 Thes. 5:1-6)

How can we know when Jesus is coming if He says in Matthew 24:36 that “no one knows the day or the hour”?

Jesus did not say we could not know the season or the conditions surrounding His coming. Neither did Jesus say that the Church would not know the day and hour in the generation the Lord returns. We have to humbly seek the Father’s word as to when this begins because only the Father knows. God did not want to make the day and hour known in the early Church, but Daniel and the Apostle John made it clear the Messiah would come exactly 1,260 days after the abomination of desolation (Dan. 7:25; 12:7; Rev. 11:2-3; 12:6, 14; 13:5). 

When does the rapture occur in relation to the tribulation? Getting a biblical mindset

A brief overview of the origins of the pre-tribulation rapture theory. 

In the early 1800’s the pre-tribulation theory was popularized by theologian John Darby. The basic theory states that Christ ‘secretly’ returns to rapture up believers before the 7-year tribulation, after which He openly comes with His saints to judge the earth (this is essentially 2 comings).

I believe the main reason for the error found in the pre-tribulation rapture theory is due to incorrect interpretation of passages. It’s important to read the Bible with a mindset that the Word says what it means and means what it says. When we view the Bible as primarily symbolic we get a confused and jumbled mess. For example, in Revelation, when it says ‘Behold, a sign,’ then what follows is symbolic; everything else is to be read as literal. Keeping that in mind, the scriptures that supported pre-tribulation rapture no longer support it.

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor. 15:51)

Then the seventh angel [with the last trumpet] sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”" (Rev. 11:15) (This last trumpet occurs at the end of 7-year tribulation).

Some common lies against knowing the generation

Lie #1: We can’t know the day or hour so we shouldn’t try to know the generation the Lord returns. Jesus and Paul emphasized the know-ability of the signs of the end times (Mt. 24:32-34; Lk. 21:25-29; 1 Thes. 5:1-6; 2 Thes. 2:1-11). 

Lie #2:  Understanding the end times causes us to minimize our work in the kingdom. This is a criticism toward the escapist and defeatist mentality of some who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture. They conclude that they should not work hard to transform the culture since the Antichrist will take over everything anyway and since they may be raptured at any moment.

Lie #3: It will all pan out in the end. The question is, will it pan out well with you and your loved ones? It will only go well for those who are prepared. 

It’s important to never accept anything anyone says as doctrine. You have to search the scriptures yourself with a prayerful mind, seeking for the spirit of wisdom and revelation. People and traditions can lead astray so we must be rooted in the Word.

Recommended Reading: 100 FAQs about the end times

Florida House Passes Six Pro-Life Bills

Today was a historic day in Florida. Through lengthy and intense debates an amazing amount of pro-life bills passed the Florida House. The House passed all six pro-life bills ranging from having Floridians vote on the 2012 ballot to add an amendment to the FL Constitution banning publicly funded abortions – to requiring women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound, have it reviewed and explained to them.

Pro-life Democrats made their voices heard today in the debate of these bills and were strong voices for righteousness. Representative Julien (Dem. D 104) said in reference to the genocide of Africans in the days of slavery and in support of bill HB 97, "abortion is a genocide of the unborn.“ "Nothing is more essential to what we do than the preservation of human life,” said another Representative in reference to the notion that job-creating bills are a better way to spend the session. 

Here’s a look at the bills passed today:

HB 501 Relating to Choose Life License Plates – This bill allows for Choose Life, Inc. to distribute funds donated by Floridians choosing the Choose Life license plate to organizations that help pregnant women and adoption agencies – rather than the funds being distributed by individual counties.

CS/HJR 1179  Amendment Banning Public Funding of Abortions on the 2012 Ballot – This bill proposes an amendment to the State Constitution that would prohibit public funding of abortions (excluding rape, incest and life of the mother); It would also prohibit the State Constitution from being interpreted to create broader rights to abortion than those contained in U.S. Constitution.

CS/HB 97 Health Insurance – Prohibits certain health insurance policies & health maintenance contracts from providing coverage for abortions; provides that certain restrictions on coverage for abortions apply to certain group health insurance policies issued or delivered outside state which provide coverage to residents of state.

HB 1127 Required Ultrasounds – This bill requires that an ultrasound be performed before a woman can obtain an abortion. It also requires that the ultrasound be reviewed with the patient before she consents for abortion procedure. If she chooses to not review the ultrasound she must do so in writing and that she did so of her own free will and without undue influence; it provides exemption from requirement to view ultrasound for women who are victims of rape, incest, domestic violence, or human trafficking or for women who have serious medical condition necessitating abortion.

HB 1247 Parental Notice of Abortion – This bill would tighten requirements for parental notification when a minor seeks an abortion;  It would require minors seeking an abortion to have parental consent before the abortion may be performed. 

HB 1397 Third Trimester Abortions: This would expand prohibition on third-trimester abortions to include a ban if the fetus is viable. It would also require physician who offers to or performs abortions to complete continuing ethics education.

These bills aren’t just good ideas, they’re the beginning of abortion ending in the state of Florida and are evidences that Floridians do care about the unborn, women and families. Today is no minor day.

Copyright © 2018 Evan and Sarah Olsen. Site by Evan Olsen.