Worship Wednesday – Hallelujahs Multiplied by NeedToBreathe

Blog - Worship Wednesday - Need to Breathe - Multiplied[The LORD speaking] “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:19

I was so mad. Details aren’t important for this. Let’s just say, all it takes for me sometimes to rocket from baseline to ballistic is to be ignored. Especially when I think what I’m saying is important. Sigh. Not that I would do anything with my anger except to go all silent and fuming. Yet, it still happens…after all these years, walking with the Lord. Getting angry because I didn’t get the consideration “deserved”.

Entitlement is such an indictment of our heart – our all-out absorption with self.

En·ti·tle·ment – the fact of having a right to something; the amount to which a person has a right; the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

Thanks be to GOD, that He doesn’t leave His children wallowing in their muddled thoughts. Within minutes, the Holy Spirit’s kind reasoning broke through my anger. I came to my senses thinking of how GOD must deal with our ignoring Him. Nothing in what I’ve experienced of His character shows Him stewing in anger toward us. He is not surprised at our behavior. He knows our frailty when we stomp our feet and kick at the dust in whatever frustration we’ve allowed ourselves to focus on.

He does not retaliate. Even when He is silent, it never seems like the kind I perpetrated against my husband, for instance, in those early years of marriage. It would take me three days to return to normal conversation with him when he “made me mad”. How thankful I am that God has grown me well past those days. How thankful that He does not get angry at His children in ways that punish.

Now, in minutes, instead of days, God gently reminds me how to release the anger toward another, frail as me. He brings Himself to mind in the life and example of Jesus, who suffered long with those He loved. My entitlement falls in pieces at the foot of the Cross, where He died for me.

Bear and Bo Rinehart, brothers out of Seneca, South Carolina,  wrote Multiplied. They, along with Seth Bolt, make up the band NEEDTOBREATHE. The song Multiplied came to mind yesterday as I recovered from my fit, remembering Whose I am. His love, not judgment, helped me clear my head. How amazing that He (like the song says) comes to find us, wherever we are and whatever condition we put ourselves.

We have such a small life…such a short one here…God, please take all our “hallelujahs” and multiply them to Your magnificent glory.

Worship with me.

Multiplied

Your love is
Like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us
We cannot contain
Your love will
Surely come find us
Like blazing wildfires
Singing your name

God of mercy
Sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to your design
may this offering stretch across the sky
And these hallelujahs be multiplied.

Lyrics of Multiplied from the album Rivers in the Wasteland; written by Bear Rinehart and Bo Rinehart

YouTube Official Video of Multiplied

YouTube Unofficial Lyric Video of Multiplied

Story Behind the Song and the Band

Images – NeedToBreathe Website

Blog - Worship Wednesday - NeedToBreathe

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The Bond of Brothers – Gospel Transformation & Reconciliation

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“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers…For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” – Philemon 4, 7

Brothers. That word can vary greatly in its meaning, depending on the relationships it represents. For the apostle Paul, being “brothers” meant having Christ in common and loving each other as He intended. Also inferred is to follow Christ together, in obedience to His Word and through the grace of the Holy Spirit.

While imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote to Philemon, a brother in the faith, to ask a favor, or rather to ask his favor.  In this brief, carefully worded letter, Paul commended Philemon for his walk with the Lord and his Godly influence on the Colossian church that met in his home. Philemon had come to faith under Paul’s teaching, and his faithfulness was an encouragement to Paul.

In his letter to Philemon, Paul makes the surprising announcement that he is well-acquainted with a man who had severely wronged Philemon. The man, Onesimus, was a slave, or bond-servant, in Philemon’s household. Some time earlier, he had fled (stealing provisions) and made his way to Rome, where he met Paul. Under Paul’s teaching, he also came to faith in Christ. Two men, once in the same household, and then estranged, are now brothers. Could they be reconciled?

Philemon’s Dilemma – As a Godly believer, Philemon was most probably a benevolent master. When Onesimus ran away, Philemon could have easily felt betrayed and bitter at his loss, not just the loss of a servant or property, but the damage to his reputation or witness as a believer and leader in the church. Why would Onesimus leave unless he was mistreated, or so people would think. This rift between these two men would be what Paul addresses in his letter. Given the news that Onesimus had become a believer, could Philemon forgive him and receive him back, both as a slave and a brother?

[Paul doesn’t speak to the issue of slavery which was a common practice in the Greco-Roman world. This letter was not about the rightness or wrongness of Christ-followers having slaves in their households. Paul wrote to Philemon about relationship and Gospel transformation.]

Onesimus’ Dilemma – Onesimus’ costly decision to leave Philemon’s household would put him in a precarious situation with the authorities. He sought to hide himself in the bustling city of Rome, but he, in fact, was found by the Lord Himself. He thought he could save himself, but discovered the only Savior who could truly make him free. As Onesimus grew in his faith and in knowledge of Christ, he became a trusted friend and helper to Paul. The day came, however, that he and Paul must have agreed that an unresolved matter had to be made right. Onesimus must try to reconcile with Philemon.

Paul’s Dilemma – Paul was spiritual father to both of these men. In discipling Onesimus in being obedient to Christ, Paul must have been very clear about the need for confession of sin, God’s forgiveness, and then reconciliation – of the offense and with the offended. By the tone of Paul’s letter, Onesimus was ready and willing to return to Philemon. Paul could have been forthright in compelling Philemon to take Onesimus back. However, Paul wanted Philemon to desire it, not because Paul asked him, but because Onesimus was now his brother. “Receive him as you would receive me….Refresh my heart in Christ.” (Philemon 17, 20)

Do you think Philemon received Onesimus back…as a brother? We do not know from Scripture, but we can imagine, as we read this letter.

Often, if not daily, we encounter one or the other of the dilemmas these three brothers faced. We are the one who offends. We are the one offended. We are the brother who could intervene or intercede for the two others.

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There was a time when I gravely hurt a Christian friend of mine who finally confronted me with my wrong-doing. Shocked at my own insensitivity, I was immediately repentant and asked for forgiveness. The wound was still so raw, my friend momentarily refused to forgive me. I appealed with, “But you HAVE to forgive me.” As believers in Christ, we are obliged to forgive each other, if not out of obedience, then in gratitude to Him for our own forgiveness. I think if there had been a brother Paul in our lives, I would have seen my sin earlier and sought reconciliation more quickly, lessening the pain for that friend, who did, by the way, forgive me.

Take a moment with me to examine our lives. Is there a brother (or sister) whom we’ve wronged and we alone must take steps toward righting that wrong? Or are we in position to forgive another and to take the steps publicly to receive that one back into our lives? Or, lastly, and most counter-culture in today’s world, are there those with whom we have influence who need help reconciling. Do we love them enough to extend ourselves to them? Do we love God enough – to put ourselves on the line – for an Onesimus and a Philemon?

This bond of brothers – Philemon, Onesimus, and Paul – is one of life’s great lessons on how the Gospel transforms us. Reconciliation follows as we see each other as Christ sees us, and act accordingly – obeying Him in word and deed and lovingly encourage each other to do the same.

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Worship Wednesday – There is No One Else For Me – None But Jesus*

Blog - Sunrise by Alicia Bowman

Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” – John 6:67-69

I love the pink glow of the sky at sunrise…for me, it’s the reward of the early morning wake-up. Getting up before the birds begin their singing, and it’s still dark. That quiet, with my first cup of coffee, and only God and my thoughts. This morning it gave me pause to remember last night’s late conversation with a friend.

We were lamenting, brooding even, about the larger-than-life influence of college professors (on our children) and the sometimes narrow arrogance of higher education. How extraordinary that in a liberal arts education supposedly training the thinkers of the next tomorrow, the example of the life and leadership of Jesus is so often minimized, as to not even exist in history.

There was a time earlier in my life, during college actually, that I stepped away from my faith. If you knew me then, you might not have noticed. I was involved in church, more or less, and the goodness of God was still imprinted on many of my life choices…but not all, for sure. I stepped away…desiring the approval of my intellectual agnostic classmates (and colleagues, later) and the acceptance of my Friday night Happy Hour crowd. That was the peer group that drew me in like a child gazing up at a department store window filled with Christmas toys.

The problem with that is the toys break and they’re never quite enough fun. The search for more toys always follows. We are never satisfied.

During an amazing time in the life of Jesus, after He demonstrated Himself to have such power that He could only be God, even then, He had disciples to walk away from him…never to return. It was at that time He asked one of His closest disciples, Peter, if he would leave. Peter answered in a way that I would now, having regained my senses after my post-college wanderings.

“To whom would [I] go?” There is “none but Jesus.”

I have my own advanced degree, and decades of keeping company with highly educated, extraordinarily competent and accomplished people. We talk about all sorts of issues and we work to make a better world. When all is said and done, if I bring anything at all to the table, it’s because of knowing Jesus. He has changed me, my thinking and way of living, in profound and deeply satisfying ways.

What a great deceit and injustice to society that our culture has been swayed to disregard the wisdom, goodness, justice, mercy, and love of God as displayed through His Son. May we see the day that this turns…may we be part of the turning.

Worship with me…None But Jesus*

In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that You are God
In the secret of Your presence
I know there I am restored

When You call I won’t refuse
Each new day again I’ll choose

[Chorus] There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

In the chaos, in confusion
I know You’re Sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will

When You call I won’t delay
This my song through all my days

[Chorus]

I am Yours and You are Mine (x4)

All my delight is in You Lord
All of my hope, all of my strength
All my delight is in You Lord Forevermore (x2)

[Chorus]**

*YouTube Video of None But Jesus with Lyrics – Sung by composer Brooke Fraser

**Lyrics to None But Jesus

YouTube Video of None But Jesus – worship led by Hillsong

Brooke Fraser website

Chart of Religious Views of Jesus – Jesus is so much more than religion.

I Will Follow Him – Andre Rieu – Under the Stars, Maastricht V, the Netherlands – just for fun and the joy of thinking of Jesus while watching/singing with it

Photo Credit – Alicia Bowman

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10 Reasons Folks Show Up for Stuff – Something to Think About

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A good friend told me this weekend that I think too much. She may be right, and it set me to thinking….what else? I was reading this article by Ed Stetzer about trends in Christianity and the collapse of nominalism (i.e., being culturally Christian, or Christian “in name only”). This is not just an issue for Christianity but for many ideologies and organizations in today’s world. How we invest our time, money, influence, and social capital, in general, is very telling of who we are and what we value.

Stetzer points out that more and more people who may have previously considered themselves nominal in their beliefs are more straightforward in where they stand on faith. This is evident in the decline in church involvement among “nominal” Christians. This got me thinking about how we make decisions and what affects our choices in terms of “showing up for stuff”.

When we roll out of bed on a weekend morning (or any day, really), what motivates our choices? On a workday, you might be tempted to say, “Well, I have no choice.” Truth is, we choose all the time…sometimes, wisely, sometimes, not so much. What reasons most compel us?

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  1. Entertainment/Freebies/Perks – Adventure and travel are included in here, as well. So much to do….so little time. And the free stuff? We all know that “what’s in it for me?” voice in our heads. Nothing innately wrong with any of this, unless it becomes the driving force of our choices.
  2. Food/Fitness/Rest – Church potluck dinners are the best – like eating Sunday dinner at our grandmother’s (if she’s a great cook, that is). No food? Hmmmm…not as interesting. Same goes for sporting or other physical activities, for many of us. We thrive on stuff going on all the time. Rest can also be a draw, especially when we get to take a break from usual responsibilities (having access to a great children’s program, for instance).
  3. Good Cause/Purpose/Fulfilment/Right Thing to Do – We all show up sometimes for a good cause or because it’s the right thing to do (whether it’s working on a disaster relief team or going to see your folks at Christmas). For Christians, obedience to God’s Word comes in here.
  4. Learning, Training, Equipping – There are times, we don’t necessarily choose this (as in a job situation when we need a new skill whether it interests us or not). In a church setting, this is a draw if it’s meaningful for our particular life situation. This is also a choice out of our love for God and wanting to be equipped for His purposes.
  5. Inspired/To Be Inspired/To Be Inspiring – I love to worship God in the company of others who love to worship God. The sense of His presence and His pleasure during sincere, unified corporate worship is one of the dearest experiences of my life. Then there are the stories of God’s activity in people’s lives. This is definitely a reason that I choose to show up when the church gathers.
  6. Belonging – We all want to belong. Belonging is deeper and grander than community (although some may argue that they are one and the same). Belonging is knowing you have a place, that people receive you in with whatever quirkiness or imperfections you have. Belonging is being valued for the person you are without any frills and not needing to try to fit in. I choose belonging whenever I get the opportunity.
  7. Community – Community is a gathering of people who share similar loves or competencies or goals. Community is something we all need, as well, and we’re willing sometimes to do what we have to do to “fit in”. Community does not necessarily mean belonging in the deepest sense of that experience, but it’s a start in that direction.
  8. Desperation/Need – Sometimes we show up somewhere (church or wherever else) because we need what we hope to find there. Church should definitely be a gathering of people who are willing to be arms around the needy and kind hearts/clear heads for the sake of those in dire straits. We have all been there.
  9. Should Go/Show or Mandatory/Obligatory – Here’s a reason to show up that none of us want to acknowledge, and yet, it could be true. Can it be that there are days that the only reason we show for church is that icky feeling of “well, I guess I should go, since there’s nothing else really happening.”? Or, think of situations outside of church. Have you ever had a work retreat with “forced fun” built in? None of us really want to HAVE to choose an affiliation or activity out of guilt, shame, or obligation.
  10. Checklist/Approval/”Get Out of Hell Free” Card – and last is the grand experience of “checking it off my list”. Eat healthy – check. Pay the bills – check. Go to the gym – check. Call your grandmother – check. Some sort of religious activity? Check. Oh…there is no “Get Out of Hell Free” card, but you already knew that. Enough said here.

You hear it all the time about how short life is…if you have even read this far, you may very well forget the message by the time you next check your current social media. What I wish I could communicate better is that our lives matter – our choices matter – and where and how we show up matters.

[Joshua speaking] “If it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” So the people answered and said: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods… We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.” – Joshua 24:15-16, 18b

Blog Pics - Tim Howard Soccer

Belonging vs. Fitting In

Amy Lee Crawford writes on belonging & the disillusionment of community

4 Trends in Christianity that Could Scare You, According to Ed Stetzer

 

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A Prayer for Young Moms of Little Ones

2014 Phone pics July-December 034 Jesus declared, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Years ago, during a Nile Cruise with friends, we had the opportunity to visit a hospital in Aswan, Egypt.  Across the entryway into the maternity ward were these words, written in Arabic and English: “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” When Jesus spoke those words, I can’t help but think He also had young moms (and moms-to-be) in mind. The young moms in my life have been on my mind a lot this week.  [See previous blog.] Such a big job, and yet such a bigger God.

Would you pray with me for the young moms in your life?

Dear God,

Thank You for life…and for how You bring it to be through the bodies of Your daughters. These brave young women who carry little ones to term and then continue to carry them in their hearts forever. Keep them close to You, Lord, through all that takes their sleep, their energy, their breath. We are so grateful that You never leave us or forsake us – whether in the wee hours of morning feedings or the late nights of troubling fever. Wrap Your arms around these sweet mamas as they lean on You for help in these moments…moments when there’s no one else really to tag in for them to take their place.

Oh Father, give them wisdom…how to lead their little ones not just to be engineers or fire fighters or moms themselves, but to be followers of God. Help these moms to love You with all their hearts and to teach their little ones to do the same.

When You spoke through Moses to the children of Israel, You must have had young mothers on Your heart. You knew they would need all sorts of reminders to redeem teachable moments, for themselves and their/Your smallest disciples. God, help them to surround themselves with Your Word and remembrances of You. Refresh them with the Truth through their day in the relentless responsibility of caring for children. Restore the joy of their salvation, Lord.

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God, guard them from small lives and trivial pursuits. They are staking out the future of Your Kingdom through their investment in these little lives. Hannah comes to mind who prayed for a child and then gave Him back to You after he was weaned. God, may we remember always that these, our children, belong to You. Make them fit for Your Kingdom’s purposes. Help us all as moms, and especially young ones, have a long view of the future. Give us grace to see.

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Father, thank You that Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light. It doesn’t always seem so in the daily work of life – for moms working in the home and moms also working outside the home. Help us trust what You tell us about ourselves, Yourself and Your ways. In the midst of cooking, cleaning, and caring for these little ones, encourage Your young daughters with glimpses of glory. Help them to lean in to You, Father. Thank You, that You are there for them.

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And finally, God, I pray for the Church to be very real for these young moms. Help them to see that we are more like Jesus, with them, than without them. Help us to be there for them in concrete, life-giving ways. Call us to pray daily for the young families in our community. Lord, help us to serve them in ways that bring us all closer to each other and especially closer to You. Father, also, give these young moms clarity about how much we need them, too. How encouraged I am each week to hear their stories and to see them determined to be intentional in their walk with You, teaching their little ones to do likewise. Thank You, for the grace You give to them to continue to serve their church and community, even in seemingly small ways. God, I remember how hard this was when I had young children. Thank You for Your faithfulness in our lives. We marvel at Your love.

Lord, we know too well that this season of small ones is so brief. We have such a short time really to teach our children how to walk with You in this world. Thank You for these young moms who keep their eyes on You and on their little ones at the same time. Whew! It’s no small thing, Father. Thank You for their sake…and for ours.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Lisa-Jo Baker Surprised by Motherhood

Ann Voskamp A Holy Experience

Moms in Prayer

YouTube scene from film Moms’ Night Out – “You just be you, He’ll take care of the rest.”

 

 

 

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Worship Wednesday – Let My Life be the Proof of Your Love – For King & Country

Blog - For King & Country

Proof

noun \ˈprüf\

: something which shows that something else is true or correct

: an act or process of showing that something is true

“Believe what you want to believe.” “That’s fine for you.” “I’m not convinced.” “You can’t really prove it.” “Whatever.”

What if our lives were the proof of God’s love? What if the existence…no, the very presence of God…could be shown irrefutably through our lives…by our love for God and for others?

I am so weary of the cultural call to tolerance and acceptance. It’s as if that is as high as we can aim in society. Even in the church, we can be lulled to sleep…groveling at the altar of “Live and let live.” May it not be so…never be so. The truth is that in the adage of “Live and let live”, in real life, some actually die. Unloved. Without a thought.

Living a smaller life is so attractive – taking care of my own, having plenty of time for me, preparing for my retirement…and so it goes. Being responsible in these ways is a good thing, of course, yet God calls us to a larger life…of true, and genuine, life-giving and life-saving love.

If we are true followers of Jesus, God transforms us into a people who can express His unwavering love to each other and each other and each other…not in our own strength, but His, as we daily give ourselves to His love and His purposes.

What a wonder if those around us see us not just as nice or moral but as proof of God’s love…that our very lives resonate with something altogether different…something so winsome that we are seen in shadow, and God is manifested in all His glory!

Oh to love like that….may it be so, God.

[Jesus taught them, saying] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:43-44

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  – John 15:13

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  – Romans 5:8

This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,  being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. – Philippians 1:9-11

We have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: as He is, so are we in this world. – 1 John 4:16-17  

Worship with me….

The Proof of Your Love

If I sing but don’t have love
I waste my breathe with every song
I bring, an empty voice
A hollow noise

If I speak with a silver tongue
Convince a crowd but don’t have love
I leave a bitter taste
With every word I say

(Chorus)
So let my life be the proof
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You
And what You’re made of
How you lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof
The proof of Your love

If I give to a needy soul
But don’t have love then who is poor
It seems all the poverty
Is found in me

Chorus

Ooh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
When it’s all said and done
Ooh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
When we sing our final song

Only love remains
Only love remains

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7, The Message)

Chorus

(Music & Lyrics: Joel Smallbone / Luke Smallbone / Mia Fieldes / Jonathan Lee / Fred Williams / Ben Glover)

The Proof of Your Love – Official Music Video

YouTube video of The Proof of Your Love with Lyrics

Inside Look at the Song and the Video

For King & Country Website

Definition of Proof

Photo Credit

 

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The Season of Small Ones – Mothering, God, & Gandalf

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“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-9

All the years of mothering have stretching bits, but the season of small ones was my most challenging. I was struck all over again just this weekend at the exquisite work of parenting. At our house church gathering, there were all these little guys weaving in and out around the tree-like adults in their way. Little ones belonging to three moms, pregnant with their next precious babies. A houseful of life and love and breath-taking responsibility.

I woke up the next morning thinking about those moms and others like them – holding the future in their arms.  What a gift children are – a heritage of the Lord (Psalm 127:3) – and what an important charge we’ve been given in training them up (Proverbs 22:6).  As moms, every day is on-the-job training for us, too, as we sort out how to guide  our children in setting their feet on course with God. We disciples making wee disciples.

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When we brought our first-born home from the hospital, we basked in the miracle of her. Then a few days into mothering , I sat with her in my lap, crying my eyes out. Some of it, most probably, related to post-partum hormones, but mostly I was undone by the weight of responsibility of caring for her…and trying to do it “right”. My husband was sitting across the room, taking in all this mystery of a beautiful baby girl and a wife weeping. I asked him, “What if something happens to her?!” He leaned in, with newborn tenderness, and reasoned with me, “If we only had her for a week, it’s a week of more joy than we’ve ever known before. We have to trust her with God.” From that moment on, we have been daily doing that transaction with the Lord – praying for our children and laying them back in His arms. They are, after all, His.

God calls us to remember for a reason. In the remembering, He gives us the clarity to see that He is always with us and especially in this season of small ones. I want to write more on this, but for now, young moms, take courage. In all the craziness of your day, with all that pulls at your time and attention, God sees you. He stands in the battle for you. Be strong in the Lord. We fight for our children in an alien culture that we call home, and we are not alone. God is with us today, and He will be with them in their future. Remember that, and teach them that.

I picture us moms, in a small way, like Gandalf in the LOTR Fellowship of the Ring scene. He stands valiantly between his small band of “children” and the terrible Balrog. His words resonate with my heart to protect and prepare my children – not just for their sake but for their future – for the Kingdom purposes God has for them. At the end of that scene, when it appeared Gandalf lost his life in that battle, his charges, sad but safe, turned and pushed on with their mission.  They had learned well from their teacher. Moms, “you are braver than you think…for the Lord your God is with you wherever you [and your children] go.”

Lisa-Jo Baker’s Book Surprised by Motherhood

Youtube video of LOTR Fellowship of the Ring – Gandalf Faces the Balrog

 

 

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Worship Wednesday – In the Hands of Our Redeemer, Nothing Is Wasted – Jason Gray

Blog - Nothing is Wasted - Worship Wednesday

 

I love the words of the old prophet Joel calling God’s people to repentance with the promise that He would restore the years destroyed by locusts. Read the passage (below) and allow rejoicing to take the place of regret… How thankful I am for the grace, mercy, and kindness of Almighty God.

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”

So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten… You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you;
and My people shall never be put to shame…I am the Lord your God
and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame.”                – Joel 2:12-13, 25a, 26, 27b

Jason Gray’s song Nothing Is Wasted is poignant in its message and melody. Listening to it takes me back to those years of locusts in my own life – years in my youth when I praised God on Sunday and went my own way the rest of the week. Truth be told, I was far from Him, taken in by the deceit of the world and the Evil One…and my own self-serving heart. How thankful I will forever be that God is such a great Restorer, a gentle Redeemer, and that, as Jason wrote, nothing is wasted in His hands.

As the years have passed since that time, I have seen God use those years of brokenness in my life to tender my heart toward others struggling with the pull of the world, drawing them away from God. Losses, failures, and disappointments abound in this world and can cloud our view of what is true about God and His Gospel. He wants to turn our “mourning into dancing” (Psalm 30:11), and He wastes nothing in doing so.

“There isn’t anything that happens that is beyond God’s reach to redeem. He gives us a place to bring our brokenness, our weakness, our sadness.” – Jason Gray
Blog Jason Gray
Whatever has happened in your past – whatever separates you from the hope and healing God desires for you – give it to Him. He alone is able to bear it. Then reach forward and upward…He is reaching out to you. I know…He reached very low for me, and I will love Him forever with the most grateful of hearts.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14
Worship with me…
Jason Gray, from the album A Way to See In the Dark
The hurt that broke your heart
And left you trembling in the dark
Feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie
But what if every tear you cry
Will seed the ground where joy will grow
(chorus)
Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted
It’s from the deepest wounds
That beauty finds a place to bloom
And you will see before the end
That every broken piece is
Gathered in the heart of Jesus
And what’s lost will be found again
(chorus)
Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted
(Bridge)
When hope is more than you can bear
And it’s too hard to believe it could be true
And your strength fails you halfway there
You can lean on me and I’ll believe for you
And in time you will believe it too
(chorus)
Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
Sometimes we are waiting
In sorrow we have tasted
But joy will replace it
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted
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20 Online Resources to Equip Us to Take the Gospel to the Nations – Through our Workplace

Blog - Marketplace Advance

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 15:58

We live in a new day of Gospel proclamation and demonstration. Is it possible that the church – that we all together – could fulfill the Great Commission in our lifetime? God has always meant for His children, every one of us, to be invested in His purposes…not just on Sunday, but Monday on…through our studies, our work, our circles of influence.

God is stirring the hearts of men and women in all trades and professions to give witness to the love of Christ and the excellence of God’s Kingdom. From students to retirees, we can be equipped to daily display the Gospel, in our workplace and through our community, wherever we are.

Today you can get started…and the following resources will help you get where God would have you go.

Blog - Skybridge

Skybridge Community – asks the question: “Can You Imagine God Using Your Work for His Purpose in Reaching the Nations?” Skybridge is a global community of Kingdom professionals being intentional in joining excellence in the workplace, cultural sensitivity, and Gospel proclamation. You can become a member and have access to a wide range of resources and mentoring possibilities.

Blog - Marketplace Advance on blog

Marketplace Advance – Integrating Vocation and Mission – focuses on mobilizing and equipping Kingdom professionals and tradespeople to be a part of fulfilling the Great Commission all over the world, through their workplace.

Blog - The Gospel at Work

The Gospel at Work – [Helping Christians live extraordinary, gospel-centered lives in their workplaces] – is a network of churches and Kingdom professionals providing equipping toward Gospel intentionality in the workplace.

Blog - The High Calling

The High Calling – [Everyday Conversations About Work, Life, and God] – is an online community of professionals encouraging us all in the workplace to infuse our work with God – His love, His truth, and His purposes. Each week, The High Calling has a feature. written by people like you and me, focused being believers in the workplace.

Below are 16 other links to great resources to equip us as Gospel-bearers in the marketplace – wherever it is.  You may have a favorite of your own that I didn’t list. Please share that through the Comments.

Let’s be about the mission of God – through teaching, engineering, business, art, athletics, health care, construction, computer science. You fill in the blank of your vocation…He will empower you there…for the sake of your coworkers, your neighbors…and the nations.

A Better Way by Dale Losch – Disciples In Every Marketplace Making Disciples All Over the World

Business as Mission Resources Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University – Connecting Sunday Worship & Monday Work  — Also 24 Seven Faith

Center for Faith and Work – Redeemer Church (Pastor Tim Keller), NYC, NY

Christianity 9 to 5

Denver Institute for Faith & Work

Live/Right Blog – Integrating Faith into Everyday Life

Marketplace Leaders with Os Hillman – Today God Is First

Missional Marketplace 2014 Summit Media – Videos of Marketplace/Church Leader Talks

Patheos – Mission:Work

(Re)integrate – the center to reintegrate faith, life, and vocations (online magazine)

Re-Vocation: Working on Purpose – Upstream Collective

The Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture

Theology of Work Project – A Biblical Perspective on Faith and Work

Third Path Initiative – Accelerate Your Kingdom Impact – Third Path equips young professionals to have a Kingdom impact through profitable business in the global marketplace

Work Matters – Closing the Gap Between Faith and Work

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Am I My Brother’s Keeper? – On Neglect – Part 2

Blog - Neglect - Orphan Girls in India

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. – Isaiah 1:17

Neglect – the word makes us cringe. If not, then it might do us well to examine our lives once again in the reflection of God’s Word. He is so clear in His teaching of how we are to live. I am so thankful for that because my tendency is to be fuzzy-boundaried – spreading myself too thin, giving precious little to anyone, and then retreating exhausted into the comfy fortress of my home sweet home.

Would you walk with me through this quick journey of sorting out what it is to NOT be neglectful? The one area I don’t intend to focus on is neglect of self – either body or soul. My sense is that when we lean into the urging of God’s Spirit in ministering to others, our own lives are so altered that we are the ones most benefitted by Him (Luke 6:38).

To not be neglectful is to incline ourselves, to lean in, to carry through, to attend, to be intentional, to purpose to:

1) Love* the Lord our God with all our heart. – The Great Commandment

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” – Matthew 22:36-38

When our lives are infused by our love for God, we begin our day with Him and end our day with Him. As He speaks to us through His Word, the Spirit, the church, and our circumstances, we become more and more in tune with Who He is and how He is working in us and around us. It’s not ordering our lives as “God, then, family, then job” – it is all God – at the center and permeating all of life. Let’s savor that a moment…all God.

2) Love* your neighbor as yourself. – 2nd Part of the Great Commandment

“And the second [great commandment] is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:39-40

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” “Who is my brother?” “Who is my neighbor?” – these questions take us to the heart of NOT being neglectful. We want to choose who this neighbor is. We want to be done when we’ve taken care of “our responsibilities” – our family, our school debt, our house payment. How does that make a Christ-follower any different than a decent law-abiding atheist? God doesn’t define “neighbor” for us because He holds onto the right (as righteous, holy, loving God ) of directing our attention to those for whom He will intervene through us…through us. It could be our own parents or children or it could be that friend who continues to struggle with addiction. Or it could be Bonno, the soon-to-be-orphan son of a beautiful South African mother dying of AIDS.

HIV/AIDS

Blog - Neglect-Orphans

We, as God’s children, are to give God the freedom to love our neighbors through us, in whatever way He chooses… Why this is uncomfortable and convicting is a testament to our journey of being transformed into the image of Christ. What joy He means us to have in being His instruments of peace and redemption. [I am all kinds of prickly over this, myself. Praying for my own undoneness in this.]

3) Love* the Church

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:23-25

The church is flawed because it’s peopled by folks like us. Does it mean we get to desert it? Don’t need an answer for what the Word already states definitively. We’ve all heard the lament “I don’t go to church because it’s full of hypocrites.” What better place for us (hypocrites) to be?! It saddens my heart at how people have been hurt by “church folks”. I have had that experience myself. Church folks do not a church make. Church is the Body of Christ – the people of God – we’re His and on His mission until He takes us Home. If we are followers of Christ we don’t get to step away from His church. We need each other in very real, concrete, daily ways. There are no spectators in the Body of Christ, no second-string Christians, no one on the bench. God means us to be all-in, not just on Sunday, but every day – life on life, living Christ with each other and in our circles of influence. It’s messy, and uncomfortable, and other-worldly beautiful…when we wholly follow Christ together.

4) Love* the Nations – Fulfilling the Great Commission

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. – Matthew 28:16-20

The nations have come to us. Still, there are peoples who will never be near enough to the Gospel message unless someone takes it to them. Through both demonstration and proclamation. We can’t leave this only to some elite group of trained vocational Christians. We are all called to fulfill the Great Commission. Every one of us is commanded to go to our neighbors and to the nations. How does that work? By a daily personal surrender and a Holy Spirit-driven intentionality believing that He will open doors as we step up and grip the handles. By truly loving – in word and deed – neighbors and nations. Here in this post-Christian era we find ourselves, more and more of the church are taking seriously our role in fulfilling the vision Christ gave us in His command: “a multitude from every language, people, tribe and nation worshipping our Lord Jesus Christ” (Revelation 7:9). The Great Commission is not just for pastors or overseas Christian workers – it’s meant for all of us – health care workers, engineers, teachers, stay-at-home moms, store clerks, technicians, students, and retirees…in the marketplace, wherever we are.

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.  But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” – Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus doesn’t call us to save the world…He calls us to respond to Him in obedience, one moment at a time, one life at a time…as we take Him at His word, He saves a world.

Blog - Neglect #2 - Refugees

*Love – used in the fullest sense of that word – the Jesus sense of that word – not in the colloquial sense of that word – “Of course, I love my church, addict brother-in-law, controlling boss, lazy co-worker, Muslim neighbor…but…”

Family First! – Not a Biblical Viewpoint

Embracing the Biblical Tension Between Family and Church Ministry

What Does the Bible Say About Family?

World Hunger – Baptist Global Response

Overcoming Compassion Fatigue

What Does the Bible Say About Poverty?

A Neglected Grace – Family Worship – May I add Household Worship for Friends Who Share Housing?

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