Songs For Sunday: Good Good Father.

Happy Father’s Day!

This is such a great song!

Good Good Father

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories
Of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper
Of love in the dead of night
And You tell me that You’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Oh, and I’ve seen many searching
For answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only You provide
‘Cause You know just what we need
Before we say a word

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Cause You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

You are perfect in all of Your ways
Oh, You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
Into love, love, love

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
You’re a good good Father

You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways

The song was written by Pat Barrett and Tony Brown, who are both members of the Atlanta based worship band Housefires. The band recorded their version of the song on their 2014 album Housefires II .  The song has been recorded by several artists, but Chris Tomlin’s recording is the one that most people recognize. It’s the first track on his 2016 album Never Lose Sight.

I am including three different videos in this post, and I hope you will take the time to watch all of them. The first one was uploaded to YouTube by Worship Together

Co-writers Pat Barrett and Tony Brown perform the song, and then they talk about how the song came about. The video is a little over twelve minutes long, but it’s worth your time to watch it.

In my post about God the Father, I said that people sometimes have trouble relating to God as Father because their father was “absent, emotionally distant, critical, or abusive.” Song Co-writer Tony Brown says in this video that he never had a dad, and that the only one he has ever called “Father” is God.

At the end of the video, Pat goes over the chord progressions for anyone wanting to play the song. From what I have seen, that is standard procedure for New Song Cafe. That’s kind of cool, in my opinion

 

The 2nd video was uploaded to Youtube by ChrisTomlinVevo. In it, Chris and Pat Barrett talk about the song, and Pat says more about his thoughts behind the song. I love that he addresses how Jesus talked about God, and how that causes us to change how we see God.

Finally, here is the “official video” also uploaded to YouTube by ChrisTomlinVevo

See you in church!

Connie

God, The Father

This is one of my favorite pictures. It’s my dad and I when I was about six months old. We were visiting my Mom’s grandparents in Colorado. The picture was taken at the Big Thompson River. My parents got divorced when I was four, and Dad moved halfway across the country two years later. That was 1970. We talk every Sunday evening, but I haven’t seen him in eight years. I hope to change that this summer.

Fishing with Dad

This Sunday is Father’s Day. It is a day that we have set aside to pay tribute to our fathers, grandfathers, and father figures. So, what better time to talk about God, the Father?

According to Bible Gateway, the word “father” is used 1103 times in the Bible. As you might imagine, many of those uses are “this person was the father of that person, and he was the father of the next person, etc”. I wondered though, how many times scripture refers to God as “Father”. Yes, I actually counted them, so my numbers might be a little off, but here is what I got.

Of the 753 times the word “father” is used in the Old Testament, it is used a reference to God only fifteen times. In the New Testament, 230 of the 350 uses of the word “father” refer to God.

That’s quite a difference.

God is YHWH (I AM), Elohim (Creator, Lord God), El Shaddai (The Almighty), and El Elyon (God Most High), but He is also Abba (Father). Let that sink in if you can.

For some of us, thinking of God as our Father doesn’t help us much. Some of us had fathers who were absent, emotionally distant, critical, or abusive. So the idea of having God for a father either doesn’t mean anything, because was have no experience, or it leaves us with a sickening sense of fear and dread.

So how do we get past that?

First ask God to open our hearts to what he wants us to know. Then get into His word. Ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit. Find believers who can share their experience with God the Father. I’ve also discovered that learning from people who have good earthly fathers, or are good earthly fathers can help me fill out that picture of God, the Father too.

For me, reading scripture out loud can help the words sink in better. Try it.

Let’s start here:

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts
(Psalm 103: 1-18)

Wait, there’s more.

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3)

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt 7:9-11)

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”(Rom 8:15)

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.(Proverbs 3: 11-12)

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. (Heb 13:5)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (1 Cor 1:3-4)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph 1:3)

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9)

Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts: 14:17)

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. (Psalm 36:5)

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lam 3:22-23)

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. (Psalm 10:14)

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling (Psalm 68:5)

In this parable, often called “The Prodigal Son”, Jesus depicts God as a father who lets his son make his own choices and reap the consequences for those choices. Yet He waits for him to repent and come back; not so that He can say “I told you so,” or berate him for his mistakes, but to forgive him and joyfully welcome him Home.

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” (Luke 15:11-32)

We could go on for days, but here is a final scripture.

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. (John 14: 8-10)

I don’t know about you, but reading the first sentence of Jesus’ answer to Philip gives me goosebumps. I wonder how Philip felt? At the time, he probably didn’t really understand. He, and the other disciples, had been with Jesus for three years. They had seen Him heal the sick, raise the dead, bless children, and reach out to hurting people with love and compassion. They had been watching God the whole time!

God is a tender, compassionate Father, who loves us beyond measure, blesses us with good things, and disciplines us when we need it. He loves giving us gifts, and spending time with us. He wants us to talk to Him and He wants to comfort us as only He can. He is kind, patient, faithful, and He is Love.

Connie

Songs For Sunday: Tell Me The Old Old Story – I Love To Tell the Story

I am always amazed when I research old hymns. I always find something interesting. I started looking for Tell Me the Old Old Story, which is similar to I Love To Tell The Story.

Researching this morning, I discovered that both hymns are based on one lengthy poem, written in 1866 by an English woman named A. Katherine Hankey (1834-1911). The poem called “The Old Old Story” is written in two parts; the first dated in January of 1866, and the second in November of the same year. You can read the whole poem here. It is said that she wrote the poem while convalescing after a serious illness.

A. Katherine Hankey, or Kate as she was called, was the daughter of a banker, and a member of the Clapham sect, which was both anti slavery and pro missionary. She taught Sunday school for girls as a teenager and later worked as a nurse in South Africa, while helping her invalid brother.

Tell Me the Old Old Story was taken from the first part of the poem. The music was written by William Doane, (1832-1915), who according to Cyber Hymnal.Org, heard the poem recited in 1867 by a Major General Russel at a men’s fellowship in Montreal. He wrote the music on a “hot afternoon while on the stage-coach between the Glen Falls House and the Crawford House in the White Mountains.”

Noting the years of Doane’s life, curiousity got the better of me. I wondered if he might have written music for any of Fanny Crosby’s lyrics. He did. Both “Near the Cross”, and “Safe in the Arms of Jesus” were collaborations between Doane and Crosby. All told, Doane composed over 2000 songs.

Tell Me the Old, Old Story

Tell me the old, old story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
Tell me the story simply, as to a little child,
For I am weak and weary, and helpless and defiled.

Refrain

Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story, of Jesus and His love.

Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in,
That wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin.
Tell me the story often, for I forget so soon;
The early dew of morning has passed away at noon.

Refrain

Tell me the story softly, with earnest tones and grave;
Remember I’m the sinner whom Jesus came to save.
Tell me the story always, if you would really be,
In any time of trouble, a comforter to me.

Refrain

Tell me the same old story when you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory is costing me too dear.
Yes, and when that world’s glory is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story: “Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”

Refrain

Here is a YouTube video uploaded by Gandalf1948, of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s recording of Tell Me the Old, Old Story.

William G. Fischer (1835-1912) took from the second part of the poem and wrote “I Love To Tell The Story” Fischer was an interesting character in that he began singing with the church choir as a child, where he learned to read music. He learned piano and organ as well . While learning book binding during the day, he practiced music in the evening. He directed choirs, taught singing and music theory. He finally opened a piano business which became extremely prosperous.

I Love To Tell The Story

I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

Refrain

I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

I love to tell the story; more wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story, it did so much for me;
And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.

Refrain

I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.

Refrain

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

Refrain

Here is another Tennessee Ernie Ford recording uploaded by Gandalf1948. This time, Ernie is singing I Love To Tell The Story

See you in church!

Connie

Family Devotions

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Although we aren’t always successful, my husband and I try to do a daily family devotion time with my daughter. The way it is supposed to work is that one of us reads the scripture for the day, and we have a discussion about what was read. We mention any new prayer needs, and the same person who reads, prays. Like I said, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

However, there seems to always be something that gets in the way. Usually, it’s our own tendency for distraction. Ed works nights, so on those days, we try to do it shortly before he goes to bed for the day. On his days off, we shoot for after breakfast, but sometimes we get side tracked. Usually, I remember that we didn’t do it when we aren’t in a position to go do it right then. By the time we are, it’s slipped our minds again. Yeah, I know. We’re pitiful. We do keep trying though.

I probably don’t need to tell you that my teenager is less than enthusiastic about the whole process.

If we miss a day or two, we spend the first ten minutes trying to remember what we read last (we work out of four books at once) and whose turn it is to read. Ed writes it down on his calendar, but sometimes it isn’t right, and we have conversations like “No, it couldn’t be Ezekiel 23* because I read last and I read Psalm 19, and so whoever is reading needs to be reading Numbers!”

After we get it straightened out, we decide how much will be read. Chapter and verse divisions were made by the translators, and are not, in any way, consistent. One chapter may have 30 verses and take up a half a page, and another chapter have 30 verses, and take up three pages. We use chapter divisions most often, but sometimes divide them up over several readings. The idea is not to read a lot, but to grasp what we do read and be able to discuss it.

Sometimes, we are able to draw parallels from life today. Sometimes, we are reminded of another part of scripture. Sometimes, we have to honestly say that we do not understand what a passage means, or why it says what it does. Sometimes, we don’t make connections until hours or days later. When we do have those delayed connections and insights, we always try to share them with each other.

Yesterday we read from Deuteronomy 3

21 At that time I commanded Joshua: “You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. 22 Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” 23 At that time I pleaded with the Lord: 24 “Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”26 But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. 28 But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” 29 So we stayed in the valley near Beth Peor. (Deut 3:21-29)

Look at verses 23-27, especially verse 26.

That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter…”

I know I’ve read this before, but it jumped off the page yesterday, and stuck with me.

God doesn’t always give us what we want, but scripture encourages us to keep asking until we get a definitive answer. I can’t think of another time when God says, “stop asking”.

Paul asked God three times to remove the thorn in the flesh, and God told him no.

8 three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:8-9)

Evidently, Paul stopped asking after the third time and changed his attitude toward his problem.

I wonder how many times Moses asked? What lead God to tell him to stop?

As a parent, who has been wheedled by a whining child, I can certainly relate to God’s response.

How many times have I said, “No, and don’t ask me again!”

Often God has used my relationship with my children to help me understand something about His relationship with me. The experience is usually quite humbling.

Yesterday afternoon, Ed and I were talking about something we need to start praying about. Ed said that he had already started praying about it, but more won’t hurt. I said, “No, I really don’t see God telling us to stop asking like he did Moses!”

Ed said, “You know, I kind of feel sorry for Moses.”

I do too.

*If you plan to read Ezekiel 23 aloud with teenagers, you might want to read it first, so that you will be prepared for whatever reaction they have. My then sixteen-year-old daughter looked up from the reading with the most dead pan expression on her face, and said something like “Really…wow…Alrighty then.” We then discussed how God doesn’t sugar coat anything, and calls things as they are, even if it makes us uncomfortable.

Connie

Songs for Sunday: Remind Me Who I Am

Yesterday, I wrote about our forgetfulness.

Remind Me Who I Am, by Jason Gray and Jason Ingram, addresses our  need to be constantly reminded of who God is and who we are in Him.  Jason Gray recorded the song and released it on his album A Way to See in the Dark in 2011.

Remind Me Who I Am

When I lose my way
And I forget my name
Remind me who I am
In the mirror all I see
Is who I don’t wanna be
Remind me who I am

In the loneliest places
When I cant remember what grace is

Tell me, once again
Who I am to You, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget
Who I am to You, that I belong to You
To You

When my heart is like a stone
And I’m running far from home
Remind me who I am
When I cant receive Your love
Afraid I’ll never be enough
Remind me who I am

If I’m Your beloved
can You help me believe it

Tell me, once again
Who I am to you, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget
Who I am to you, that I belong to You
To You

I’m the one You love, I’m the one You love
That will be enough, I’m the one You love

Tell me, once again
Who I am to you, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget
Who I am to you, that I belong to You

Tell me, once again
Who I am to You, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget
Who I am to You, that I belong to You
To You
To You…

See you in church!

Connie

Forgetful

I know I haven’t posted in a few weeks. Things just got away from me.

The week before Memorial Day, my daughter and I finished our homeschooling for the year. That Friday (May 26th), was her birthday, and we definitely needed some Mom and daughter time that didn’t involve school. We went to a movie, and then did some window shopping. We had a great day. I am so blessed to have a truly appreciative daughter. We spent Saturday cleaning house, getting ready for some of our extended family to arrive after church Sunday to “officially” celebrate her birthday. All that went well, and we had a nice visit with my mom, sister and nieces.  Yes, we also took the time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

Additionally, I’ve been dealing some health issues, including allergies that became an upper respiratory infection, and an umbilical hernia. I had surgery to repair the hernia on Wednesday. Trust me, pain meds and blog writing really do not belong together, so as much as I have been wanting to get back in here, I thought I should wait until my thoughts were a little more clear.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about rejoicing and giving thanks, and how those attitudes bless our lives and the lives of those around us. I would love to tell you that the epiphany lead to immediate and permanent change, but you would all know better.

Anyone who earnestly tries to walk with the Lord knows that there are a lot of missteps, stumbles, and falling flat on our faces. The best we can do this side of heaven is keep moving toward that goal, and trust the Lord to do what we cannot.

So why is it so hard?
Because we forget.

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Honestly, our forgetfulness is staggering. Think of the children of Israel, who watched the Egyptians experience the ten plagues while they remained unscathed. They crossed the Red Sea on dry land, were given manna and quail, and yet they had Aaron make them a golden calf. We shake our heads, and then we realize that we are just as forgetful.

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses recounts the entire story, from the time their rebellion caused them to wander forty years in the wilderness, until the day they were ready to take possession of the land, and Moses would be “gathered to his people”

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them (Deut 4:9)

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery (Deut 6:6-12)

Well, as you probably know, Israel did not heed Moses’ instructions and they forgot. The story is repeated over and over in the Old Testament. The people forget about God. God allows their enemies to attack them. The people remember God. God delivers them from their enemies. Some time passes. The people forget about God.

I can’t say much…I’ve done the same thing. I’m sure you have too. James says,

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (James 1:23-24)

Now, that’s forgetful.

I had been thinking about the whole frustrating topic of forgetfulness, as I was finishing Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts Devotional. On page 189 she says, “He keeps whispering to my trembling heart, to me who knows and then forgets:…” (Italics mine).

The phrase jumped off the page, and I wanted to say, “oh me too! I know…and then I forget.” Lord help me remember. I need to remember!

This is why it is so important to keep our heads in God’s word. We constantly need reminders of His goodness, His compassion, His forgiveness and His love. Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper so that we would remember what He did for us.

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.(Luke 22:19-20)

Peter understood the importance of reminders.

So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. (2 Pet 1:12-15)

We need to remember who God is and who we are in Him.

Connie

Songs for Sunday: King of the World

How many times do we ask God to direct our paths, but then fight Him for the reins.
For most of us, giving up control is hard. I know it is for me.  I often need to be reminded that He is God and I am not.

The Grammy nominated “King of the World” was written by Natalie Grant, Becca Mizell, and Sam Mizzel. Natalie Grant recorded it for her album “Be One”  that was released last year.

King Of The World

I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep you safely in between the lines
I try to put you in the box that I’ve designed
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world

Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough
When you’re the one who made me from the dust

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world

Ohhhh, you set it all in motion
Every single moment
You brought it all to be
And you’re holding on to me

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget you’ve always been the king of the world
You will always be the king of the world

See you in Church!

Connie

Songs for Sunday: Thank You Lord

First of all, let me say “Happy Mother’s Day” to all the moms out there. Thank you for everything that you do for your families.

This week’s song is a perfect expression of what we discussed in yesterday’s post. It’s about being thankful in all circumstances.

I found this YouTube video posted by the songwriter Dan Burgess, where he talks about writing the song, and then gospel recording artist Cynthia Clawson tells her own story about the song before she sings it.  I think I’ll just let them tell it.

See you in church!

Connie

Rejoice and Give Thanks!

I started working on this post last week with every intention of posting it last Friday afternoon. Obviously I didn’t, and just barely got “Songs for Sunday” out. Last week’s song fit the kind of week I was having. You know the kind; when it seems that nothing goes right, and everything you put your hand to turns to slop. I was really getting discouraged. We all have times like that, but how we handle them can make a big difference in our lives, and the lives of those around us. This week wasn’t that much better, but my attitude has been, and that has made all the difference.

Paul wrote his letter to the church in Philippi, probably when he was under house arrest in Rome. Philippians is a wonderfully encouraging letter from a man who was in difficult circumstances. If you haven’t read it recently, I encourage you to revisit. If you have never read it, you need to. God as a lot to say to you there. Toward the end of the letter, Paul writes,

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil 4:4-9)

This is about renewing our minds; changing the way we think. In Romans 12, Paul says,

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom 12:2)

That sounds challenging, doesn’t it?

Take another look at the passage from Philippians. While we are rejoicing, not being anxious, praying and petitioning, there is a little phrase that might get overlooked: “with thanksgiving”.  We’re supposed to be thankful.  In his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul said that they should be

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph 5:20)

and to the church in Thessalonica, he says,

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess 5:18)

I know what you’re thinking. Always giving thanks? Rejoice Always? Only think about good things? Are you crazy?

No I’m not, and neither was Paul. He had discovered something, and so have many others in the two millennia since. I think I’m just starting to get it…Sometimes the key for me isn’t getting it, but remembering it for more than 30 seconds, but that’s another blog post.

When I started writing last week, I just had an inkling of what God was trying to tell me, but I couldn’t quite grasp it. (I’m so glad God is patient!) We had one of those “one thing after another” weeks. We had plumbing issues, animal issues, home school issues and work schedule issues. We were all tired and getting snappy.

Then, a few days ago, I was reading the devotional book based on Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, when I caught a glimmer of understanding. She writes about a time when her sons were fighting at the breakfast table, and she was super angry (I can relate to that), and at the same time she’s asking God for guidance (I can relate to that too…when you just want to wring their little necks, but you’re pretty sure that isn’t part of God’s plan). For two or three pages, she relives the struggle and then the epiphany. She writes,

“How did Jesus do it again? He turned His eyes. ‘And looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave…’ (Matthew 14:19) He looked up to heaven, to see where this moment comes from. Always first the eyes, the focus. I can’t leave crowds for mountaintop, daily blur for Walden Pond – but there is always the possibility of the singular vision. I remember: Contemplative simplicity isn’t a matter of circumstances, it’s a matter of focus. I take a deep breath, say nothing to them, but I look up to heaven, and give thanks aloud, in a whisper: ‘Father, thank You for these two sons. Thank You for here and now. Thank You that You don’t leave us in our mess.’ My heart rate slows. Something hard inside softens, opens and this thanks aloud feels mechanical. But I can feel the heart gears working. ‘Thank You for toast. Thank You for Cross-grace for this anger, for the hope of forgiveness, and brothers and new mercies.’ I look for the ugly-beautiful, count it as grace, transfigure the mess into joy with thanks and eucharisteo leaves the paper, finds the way to the eyes, the lips.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts Devotional, p. 155. If you’re not familiar with Ann Voskamp, you can check her out here.)

I finished with tears in my eyes. I understood. When we give thanks, our circumstances may not change, but we do. I said, “Lord, thank you that I can sit here and read Your word, and this book. Thank you that I have eyes to see and a mind to understand. Thank you that I can sit here in freedom. Thank you for this table and chair, for the pen in my hand.” Yes, I felt a little silly, but I also felt better.

I knew I needed to share this insight with my husband, but I also knew that his week was going like mine. We had some exasperating plumbing problems, but I decided to put what I had read in Philippians and in Ann’s book to practice. I said, “Lord, I thank you that we have indoor plumbing and running water. Thank you that we have the tools we need to fix the problem and the hands to use them.”

Ed may have thought that I had lost it for a minute, but I think the Lord enlightened him too. A little while later, he said that when he was a kid, he lived in a house with “four rooms and a path”, and that our home is a mansion by comparison. Yes, we are incredibly blessed. Now, we’re both trying give thanks always. I have a feeling its going to be one of those things we need to constantly remind each other about, like being mindful of what comes out of our mouths (Ephesians 4:29).

However, we need to give thanks in all things, including those things that we might not normally be thankful for.  That’s challenging too. Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit to help us.

The following YouTube video, posted by Route66EBC, is an excerpt from The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. The video is about ten minutes long, but it is a remarkable story about how God honors gratitude.

Have a wonderful week, and remember to give thanks!

Connie

 

Songs for Sunday: Need You Now

Christian Artist Plumb wrote and recorded the song I Need You Now in 2013. In this recording she says she drew on her own experience with anxiety while writing the song.

Need You Now (How Many Times)

Well, everybody’s got a story to tell
And everybody’s got a wound to be healed
I want to believe there’s beauty here
‘Cause oh, I get so tired of holding on
I can’t let go, I can’t move on
I want to believe there’s meaning here

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Standing on a road I didn’t plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I’m trying to hear that still small voice
I’m trying to hear above the noise

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Though I walk,
Though I walk through the shadows
And I, I am so afraid
Please stay, please stay right beside me
With every single step I take

How many times have you heard me cry out?
And how many times have you given me strength?

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

I need you now
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.
I need you now
I need you now

For many of us, anxiety, depression, bi polar, and other disorders are an every day fact of life. For others, circumstances become overwhelming. Those of us who belong to the Lord often echo Plumbs words “God please take this!”  Some times he does. Sometimes he says “My grace is sufficient”, and it is.

See you in church. Remember that person sitting next to you in the pew might be hurting and need some encouragement. Maybe that’s why God sat you next to them.

Connie