Tag Archives: Casting Crowns

Worship Wednesday – You’re Here – Nichole Nordeman

Photo Credit: YouTube

Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, Lord. You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me. This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it. Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, even there Your hand will lead me; Your right hand will hold on to me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”— even the darkness is not dark to You. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to You. – Psalm 139:1-12

A friend of ours has been much on my heart and in my prayers of late. In our last conversation, as we were catching up after a few months separated by busy lives, he shared openly about his current thinking on God. This is a young man who the whole time we’ve known him has been deeply convinced of God, the validity of His Word, and His divine work in our lives and the world. Now…not so much. How can such a change occur in one’s thinking in so few months? I’ve been praying for him ever since, saddened that I let so much come between our friendship. Regretting.

This brings me to a recent encounter with God such that I know He will not let this dear friend of ours get too far from Him. I know because of His promises…and I know because He didn’t let me get too far…

Sunday was a tender time in our gathered church experience. New Year’s Eve. Pastor Cliff preached on going deep with the Lord and he used New Year’s resolutions as a tool for guiding us in that direction. [I just wrote about that here.]

One of the songs we sang during worship was Citizens & SaintsI Surrender All. This song is deeply meaningful to me because it was a favorite hymn in my early years in the church. We would often sing it after the sermon during the “altar call”. Photo Credit: Voice of Revolution

Those in attendance would be challenged to wrestle with God over whatever had been preached. If you sing the whole hymn you would say the words “surrender” 30 times and “all” like 45 times! It was sobering, and, in the end, brought great release, freedom, and joy. The band Citizens & Saints add the meaningful bridge which describes the realization that comes in surrender: – “Oh the joy of full salvation, sin and death defeated, glory to His name”.

As we sang, I was reminded of a time in my 20s that I was far from God. Oh, still going to church, you know…but in my heart, and my choices through the week…far. I will never forget one night, in particular, during a time I was really playing with fire, bedazzled by the world. After getting to bed very late, something gave me pause and I tried to pray. In that dark night, it was as if my prayers hit the ceiling and fell back to me. I was terrified.

From somewhere deep inside, the verse from Isaiah (59:2) came into my thoughts: “your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Now, that was written in context to a gravely disobedient people, and because of Christ we live in much grace today. Still…that was all I needed. That reminder. Had to have come from the Spirit of God Himself.

It helped me alter my course in life. There would be other times where I didn’t choose wisely, but God never let go of me. Never.

Back to the present: New Year’s Day morning and I was driving to a friend’s house. Tuned into my current favorite radio station, and three songs in a row took me to the very throne of God, as He spoke to my heart through those lyrics.

I know you’ve been in a place…at home or somewhere else (for me, this time, it was in the driver’s seat of my car, dealing with toll roads)…and God demonstrates He is there. It’s just amazing, right?

Nichole Nordeman‘s song “You’re Here” was new to me. Would you take a moment and listen to or sing this song with me? We can worship right where we are.

In my younger years
I found You beneath the steeple
In the faces of Your people
Could hear You in the hymns
In my younger years
Then later on
I met You on a road, once winding
Seeking but not always finding
With the building gone
You still loved me later on

[Pre-Chorus]
Anywhere You are is sanctuary
Everywhere You are is where I’m free

[Chorus]
You’re here, You’re here
The only invitation that You need
Is the very air I breathe
You’re here, You’re here
I will never be alone
You will be always be my home
‘Cause You’re here

In the same small room
Staring at the life I’ve chosen
Hoping that the door’s still open
To give my heart to You
In this same small room
What could separate
Me from all the ways You love me?
Nothing below or above me
Could get in the way
This is what You say

[Pre-Chorus]
Anywhere You are is sanctuary
Everywhere You are is where I’m free

[Chorus]
You’re here, You’re here
The only invitation that You need
Is the very air I breathe
You’re here, You’re here
I will never be alone
You will be always be my home…

[Bridge]
You were at the altar, preacher’s hand upon my head
You were in the water, when I came up clean instead
You’re still in my story, when my tears fall on the dirt
You’re there in the morning, wrapping grace around what hurts
You were in the questions, in the silence on the phone
You were paying cab fare, making sure I made it home
I believed in too far, I believed in my worst fear
But You were never moving closer, You were only always here!

You will always be my home
I don’t have to be alone
Don’t have to be alone
You will always be my home*

Seriously, it’s like Nichole Nordeman has known my walk with the Lord. Well, she definitely knows the Lord and her lyrics cross generations and touches our hearts with truth, no matter our situation.

I hope you’re encouraged. I don’t know what you’re going through, but God does (as trite as this could sound though true the same). He is with you, no matter what. He won’t let you go. This…I know.

*Lyrics to Nichole Nordeman’s You’re Here

YouTube Video – Nichole Nordeman – You’re Here (Song Story)

Worship Wednesday – I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day – Casting Crowns

Blog - I Heard the Bells - Worship Wednesday

Photo Credit: CastingCrowns.com

Adapted from the Archives

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord… And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” – Luke 2:10-11, 13-14

In December, 1863, American poet and scholar Henry W. Longfellow received his wounded son home from battle. It was Christmas time, and the U.S. Civil War raged on. Having already lost his wife years earlier, Longfellow nursed his son, Charley, back to health. His own thoughts, in turmoil over all that was happening around him, he poured out in the poem “Christmas Bells”.

Longfellow clearly took comfort from God as he wrote, ending the poem with this stanza:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
        The Wrong shall fail,
        The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men.”*

I Heard the Bells is a Christmas carol, not a worship anthem. Yet, given the continuing wars and hardships of our day, we must tend the fires of our hope. God is the “lifter of our heads” (Psalm 3:3). He is the One who gives strength to our “weak hands and shaking knees” (Isaiah 35:3). He will do as He’s promised. He is faithful. When you hear the bells ring where you are this Christmas season, take heart in that. We must continue to pray for His peace on earth…and in our own hearts.  We can be vessels of His good-will toward our neighbors, both very near…and far away.

Worship with me…

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (Lyric video)

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men

And the bells are ringing (Peace on Earth)
Like a choir they’re singing (Peace on Earth)
In my heart I hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men

But the bells are ringing (Peace on Earth)
Like a choir singing (Peace on Earth)
Does anybody hear them?
Peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep (Peace on Earth, peace on Earth)
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way

The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they’re ringing (Peace on Earth)
Like a choir they’re singing (Peace on Earth)
And with our hearts we’ll hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

Do you hear the bells they’re ringing? (Peace on Earth)
The life the angels singing (Peace on Earth)
Open up your heart and hear them (Peace on Earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men

Peace on earth, Peace on earth
Peace on earth, Good will to men

YouTube Video – Casting Crowns performing I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Casting Crowns’ Mark Hall On Christmas (Teaching Vignettes)

Christmas Carol Soldier – Story of Charley Appleton Longfellow & the occasion for H. W. Longfellow’s writing of the poem/lyric

The Story Behind I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day – Tom Stewart

*Longfellow’s poem Christmas Bells

Advent – Welcoming the Savior at Christmastime – Holding a Place For His Coming

blog-peace-at-christmas-crosswalk-25-joyful-prayersPhoto Credit: Crosswalk

So it begins. December 1. Turn around…and Christmas will be done. NOOOOO! There are those out there who respect no day over another (Romans 14:5). I get that. Still, Christmas is such a sweet time of year. What’s not to love about it? All the bright colors and shimmering lights in the dark of winter (granted, this is in the Northern Hemisphere). The many expressions of generosity (gift-giving among family and friends and kindnesses to strangers near and far). The secular and sacred observances that we share within this holiday and holy day.

“Christmas is too big for one day”, writes Andreas Köstenberger, and I agree. As the years go by, some Christmas observances deepen while others diminish. I’m becoming a lack-luster gift-giver, but cherish times together more than ever. December weekends full of parties just make the month fly by, but quieter more intimate times are the experiences I long for.

Connecting with people, savoring the beauty around us, remembering Christmases past, and pondering the wonder of what it all means. This Christmas miracle…this Child who would usher in a redemption only He could provide…from before Creation through a coarse cradle all the way to a Cross.

I need to stretch time in December…to go as deep as is humanly possible into the reality of this Savior King…to think long on the incredible truth of what happened there – To hold a place for His coming…“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
blog-advent-christmas-for-unto-us-a-child-is-born-youtubePhoto Credit: YouTube

Celebrating Advent (the “coming” of Christ) marks out the month of December in Sundays. If it’s not your tradition, you can search it out easily (here is one resource). For me, it doesn’t require prescribed readings and lighting candles…but I’m beginning to delight in those expressions of worship, as well.blog-advent-church-stage-design-ideasPhoto Credit: Church Stage Design Ideas

Advent, to me, incorporates prayer, meditation on God’s Word, worship in song…and quiet. A quiet that gives space for God to fill it with Himself. That is Advent. The coming of Christ into hearts made ready for Him.

Are there times in December when darkness attempts to extinguish the Light? Sure…I’ve known those times…that’s actually one reason I love Christmas so much…celebrating the coming of a Savior who shines light into the darkest of our nights…setting us free from what keeps us in darkness…because He came.

Not celebrate?

Your burden is too great to bear?
Your loneliness is intensified during this Christmas season?
Your tears have no end?

Not celebrate?

You should lead the celebration!
You should run through the streets
to ring the bells and sing the loudest!
You should fling the tinsel on the tree,
and open your house to your neighbors, and call them in to dance!
For it is you above all others who know the joy of Advent.
It is unto you that a Savior is born this day,
One who comes to lift your burden from your shoulders,
One who comes to wipe the tears from your eyes.
You are not alone,
for He is born this day to you. Ann Weems

In the hordes of shoppers and restaurants bursting with celebrants. In the packed candlelit churches and at boozy company parties. In the silence outside of celebrating Christmas as well as the quiet night within…

You are not alone,
for He is born this day to you.

Christmas Is Too Big For One Day – Why We Celebrate Advent – Andreas Köstenberger – Desiring God

Advent Begins Today – David Mathis – Desiring God

25 Joyful Prayers to Ready Your Heart for Christmas – Candace Crabtree

Good News of Great Joy – Daily Advent Readings – John Piper

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Advent Readings – John Piper

Why Advent Is As Important As Christmas – Veronica Neffinger

Hark! The Long-Lost Verses Sing – David Mathis – Desiring God

The Problem with Our Holly Jolly Christmas Songs – Russell Moore

Worship Wednesday – In the Midst of Our Storms, We Have a Good, Good Father – Chris Tomlin & Pat Barrett

Blog - good good father - timesofmaltaPhoto Credit: TimesofMalta

“For I proclaim the name of the LORD; Ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:3-4

When we lived in Morocco, we loved walking along the coast – along both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. There were sandy beaches aplenty, but my favorite parts were the rocky outcroppings which stood as sentinels against the crashing waves. I will never forget one time, walking with a friend who prayed aloud as we stood by the shore on a stormy day. He said, “Lord, may the storms of our lives break on the rocks of Your mercy.”

Storms come to all our lives…shocks, interruptions and losses that shake our faith and cause confusion in our understanding of good…and God. We want to explain how such things can happen in the presence of a good God. However, our attempts at explaining fall pitifully short. How can we explain our experience of that good Father in the midst of every storm? He is present, even in His silence…we lean in, and we find strong support…through every storm.

Blog - Good Good Father - godisgreatitstruePhoto Credit: GodIsGreatItsTrue

“Life is hard and God is good.” – Marshall Shelley

These words were spoken by a father whose tiny son, Toby, lived 2 minutes in this world. Toby is short for Tobiah which means “God is good”. Shelley goes on to describe more of his wrestling with Toby’s brief life in a Christianity Today article.

“Why did God create a child to live two minutes?

He didn’t.

He didn’t create Toby to live two minutes…He didn’t create me to live 40 years (or whatever number he may choose to extend my days in this world). God created Toby for eternity. He created each of us for eternity, where we may be surprised to find our true calling, which always seemed just out of reach here on earth.”

I can’t explain the goodness of God but I know it. He is a good, good Father. He has brought me through hard places; He is with me through dark nights when I can’t sleep. How can we bask in His goodness in hard times and not believe, even when our hearts are broken, that His goodness extends into the hard as well? Because of His comfort thus far in my life…and that of others near to my heart…I determine to trust Him in the present hard…and with the future.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations. – Psalm 100:4-5

What a blessing to read the Psalms and rejoice with those inspired writers who give us pictures of God present in our storms. Our hearts are also gladdened by modern-day hymn-writers who remind us of the truth of God’s goodness. Casting Crowns’ Praise You in the Storm and Just Be Held, and then David Crowder’s I Am all remind us of God’s presence with us in the midst of storms.

Chris Tomlin and Pat Barrett’s song Good, Good Father gives voice to my experience of the goodness of God. I hope you are encouraged by it, in whatever the storms are in your life today.

Worship with me.

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*

“This I recall to mind and therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses never cease. His compassions [his mercies] never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I have hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the person who seeks him.” – Lamentations 3:21-25

“Life is hard and God is good. Life is hard and God is good.” That is the meaning of Lamentations. That is the meaning of Job. You might say that is the meaning of the Bible. Life is hard and God is good…and many of you are right in the midst of proving it to be so now. At least if you would trust him, if I could persuade you that God is trustworthy in it, and if you held on to it, you would discover that life is hard and God is good.

O, that God would give us eyes to see his mercies in our lives and we would see them all the more clearly and know that they were mercies if we knew the price that he paid for them for us. He sent his son Jesus Christ into the world to die so that my guilt will be taken away, his wrath would be removed from me, and there would be a free, open course for his mercies to flow to me while he is just. Even though I am a sinner, I can be treated with mercy. That is a glorious thing that God has done in Jesus Christ. We would taste the mercies all the more sweetly if we knew the price.” – John Piper

BLog - Good good father - midspointofviewPhoto Credit: Midspointofview

Lyrics to Good, Good Father by Pat Barrett and Tony Brown

The God of Joyful Tears and Sorrow – Trevin Wax

YouTube Video – Good, Good Father – Housefires II (featuring Pat Barrett)

If This is Spring There Must Be a Tornado Somewhere – Tom Elliff

Blog - Good Good Father - onegirldesignshoppe

Photo Credit: OneGirlDesignShoppe

Worship Wednesday – An Incidental Finding Opens a Deeper Experience of God

Lebanese male doctor talking with patientPhoto Credit: Telegraph UK

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.…The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot.”  The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shakenPsalm 16:1-2, 5-8

An incidental finding. You are referred to a specialist for something that concerns your family doctor. While you find out that the new problem is nothing for concern, in the testing the specialist finds something else that demands further testing. Then you go deeper and longer into the medical processes that eventually provide a diagnosis.

BLog - Incidental Finding - en wikipedia (2)Photo Credit: en.Wikipedia

All through this waiting and wondering, you process much of it alone. It could be benign so why trouble those who love you. Still, the weeks turn into months working through to a diagnosis, and you want those prayers and the closeness that comes in times of struggle. So you decide to tell a few what’s going on. Along with this guarded sharing with some close to you, a deep and sure awareness develops – you were never alone, after all.

I am always amazed how when you need Him the most, God appears in those moments – so real it is as if you can touch Him, feel His breath, lean into His consummately strong shoulder.

Just this past Sunday at church, every single song chosen by our worship leader was meant for me. To know the nearness of God in a stretching season – hearing His voice in these songs: On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand, Lead Me to the Cross, Oceans, To the Ends of the Earth. What a comfort and joy!

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This time, I am the one with the incidental finding. Even in the scary bits of the day, God has been so kind in pointing me to Himself and away from any future unknown. Besides, He is there in that future unknown. He carries me now; He will carry me then.

Just last night, a dear friend reminded me to stay on this side of the bridge, because that is where I am. Crossing the bridge is still ahead, after more medical testing.  So much good comes through those who love us.Blog - Incidental Finding - mhsystemPhoto Credit: Memorial Health System

Starting on my way to one more doctor this week, as I turned the ignition, the radio came on as well, right in the middle of the most fitting song. Casting Crowns’ Just Be Held. I’ve written about it before here. Reminded again that God is right here with us…in every circumstance of life.

Worship with me, as we celebrate in the midst of a hard place, that God is near to His children. In these moments, “Just Be Held“.

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won’t let go.*

*Lyrics & Story Behind the Song Just Be Held

If You Don’t Have the Answer You Need – Wait – Just Be Held – and Let God Sing To You

Blog - Just Be Held - Psalm 46,1Photo Credit: LifeHopeandTruth.com

You know that experience of being face down, not knowing what to do, wet with sweat from wrestling with questions that seem not to have answers. Sometimes, I’m on my knees, praying. More than not, it’s laying across my bed, hot tears down my face or too weary to cry.

When we lived in North Africa and it was in the hottest part of summer, I would just lay stretched out on the marble floor, cool against my cheeks. Then there comes that moment in prayer…I know you know it…when, whether the answer comes or not, the peace comes. I roll over on my back. Looking up, and finally resting in God’s love and strength.

Whether I know what’s ahead or not, He knows and He wraps His arms around us and  infuses us with His strength, His confidence, His grace, His love.

It is enough for today.

Actually, at some point, we all have to make that decision, take the next step, fill in the check, or whatever it is that sends us to our knees. It’s huge for me that the decision pales in comparison to the relationship we have with God. That is what turns sorrow into joy…always.

Casting Crowns does this beautiful song, Just Be Held,  written by Bernie Herms and Matthew Joseph West. Lead singer, Mark Hall, tells an audience that they had sung that song for over a year when he finally realized it was a word from God TO HIM.

The lyrics follow, but one line, in particular, resonates today and makes my heart glad:

“Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held.”

Whatever your decision today or tomorrow, I hope you’ll be encouraged by the words and truth of this song – Just Be Held:

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won’t let go

Lyrics & Story Behind the Song

YouTube Video – Just Be Held – Story Behind the Song

Casting Crowns & the Album Thrive

Blog - Just Be Held - Casting Crowns

 

Worship Wednesday – Coming Clean, Starting Over, Making It Right – Lord, I’m Ready Now – Plumb

Blog - Worship Wednesday - Plumb - Burial Chamber Pyramids 2

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. – James 5:16

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.Matthew 5:23-24

Have you ever found yourself in a deep pit? With seemingly no way out? While living in Cairo, we visited the Pyramids of Giza many times. Just once did we climb down the steep stairs into the burial chamber of one of them. It was so dark, and I found it even hard to breathe in that small room. “Dead space” is how it felt down there. It was a place never made to sustain life. Although it was all mental, and breathing was really not a problem, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Sin and selfishness can put us in such a pit. Whether we talk about it or not in today’s culture, both exist and both create havoc in our lives – creating isolation between us and others, and especially us and God.

I am so thankful that I grew up in an era when even people who did not have a personal experience of God still wrestled with “right and wrong”. Today, our actions and their impact on relationships seem so relative. We can so easily justify our choices, no matter the fallout.

One night when I was in my 20’s, something must have really been bothering me. I don’t remember the reason now, but I remember the night well. I tried to pray and it was like being in that burial chamber. There was so much going on where I had chosen my own way. My relationship with God had become such a casual thing…even a cast-off thing. I was living in deceit. Still in church, still professing belief in Jesus (when it was convenient and cost me nothing). Yet I was all about my own pleasure and popularity – pleasing others and pursuing personal success….until that night.

Again, I don’t even know what I needed from God that night, but I needed Him. Trying to pray, but still so full of self, was like speaking words into a vacuum. The deadness of those moments was terrifying. God is within hearing always, but if I didn’t confront my own sin first, how could I expect a tender response from a holy God? It was terrifying to feel my prayers fall all around me “unreceived” by the God of the universe. That night was the beginning of the end of a life of total self-indulgence…and the new beginning of a life reaching toward true life. The life He has for all of us – loving Him, loving others, with grace sufficient for all that comes our way, and a peace that passes all understanding.

Singer/songwriter Tiffany Arbuckle Lee (aka Plumb) penned a song titled Lord, I’m Ready Now. She could have been looking right into my heart. Her lyrics came out of a painful but also redeeming place. Her marriage was a wreck from her pursuit of fame, and she had a similar wake-up call to reality. She repented of her self-serving choices (her sin essentially) and chose God again and His way for her life. Healing came – both in her relationship with God and with her husband.

If you find yourself in a pit, there is a way out…not into more deceit, but to real freedom and real life. Turn around and climb out of that situation. There is light for the climb. Reach your hand to God, and you will find Him there… Breathe…………

Blog - Worship Wednesday - Plumb - Burial Chamber of Pyramids

Worship with me:

I just let go
And I feel exposed
But its so beautiful
Cuz this is who I am
I’ve been such a mess
But now I can’t care less
I could bleed to death

Oh Lord I’m ready now
All the walls are down
Time is running out
And I wanna make this count
I ran away from you
And did what I wanted to
But I don’t wanna let you down
Oh Lord I’m ready now
Lord I’m ready now

[You called my name
I turned away
But now I
Am listening]
I was so caught up
In who I’m not
Can you please forgive me?

I’ve nothing left to hide
No reason’s left to lie
Give me another chance.*

YouTube Video – Lord, I’m Ready Now (Official Lyric Video) by Plumb

Story Behind the Song – Interview with Tiffany Arbuckle Lee (Plumb) by Kevin Davis, News Release Tuesday

*Lyrics to Lord, I’m Ready Now – KLove.com

YouTube Lyric Video – Need You Now – Plumb

YouTube Video – Who Am I? by Casting Crowns

YouTube Video – Drops in the Ocean by Hawk Nelson

How Do I Come Back to God?

Photo Credits: Boomvisits.com and RealityPod.com

Worship Wednesday – Thriving Through the Unknown Because of Who’s Known – Mark Hall of Casting Crowns

Blog - Mark Hall asking for prayer

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God.” – Isaiah 43:1-3

Don’t you love it when a familiar Bible verse takes on new importance for what you’re going through right now? Or the lyrics of a song that’s been out for months, all of a sudden, resonates with just what you’re currently going through? As if you were reading/hearing it for the very first time? Just a few days ago, I heard the song “Thrive” by Casting Crowns and I thought it was a new release. Out a year already, and the lyrics just registered on this hearing.

Later that same day, the news came out that Mark Hall, Casting Crowns’ singer/songwriter, had been diagnosed with a mass on his kidney. He would be undergoing surgery on March 11 to remove the mass and determine whether or not it was cancer. It seems after hearing that news, “Thrive” has played on the air and in my head repeatedly.

Mark Hall is presently dealing with this terrible unknown, yet what is known to him is a loving, merciful, Healer God. Whatever uncertainty he faces, he faces it certain of a God who loves Him and calls him, not just to survive what he’s facing, but to thrive within it… What I know of Mark, he will…because of Who he knows.

“Joy unspeakable, faith unsinkable
Love unstoppable, anything is possible.”

Blog - Casting Crowns - Mark Hall family

Pray for Mark, his family, his band and his church today…

and worship with me:

Here in this worn and weary land
Where many a dream has died
Like a tree planted by the water
We never will run dry

So living water flowing through
God, we thirst for more of You
Fill our hearts and flood our souls with one desire

Just to know You and to make You known
We lift Your name on high
Shine like the sun, make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

Into Your word, we’re digging deep
To know our Father’s heart
Into the world, we’re reaching out
To show them who You are

Joy unspeakable, faith unsinkable
Love unstoppable, anything is possible*

Blog - Casting Crowns - Mark Hall

*LyricsThrive – written by Mark Hall and Matthew West, Casting Crowns

Christian Post article on Mark Hall’s Situation

YouTube Official Lyric video of Thrive

YouTube video of Thrive – live performance by Casting Crowns

Story Behind the Song Thrive

Just Be Held & Mark Hall’s Testimony a Year Ago Reflecting Where God Has Him Today – Held.

#PrayingforMark

Mark Hall Twitter page

Mark Hall’s Full Testimony

Casting Crowns Website

Photo Credit – Mark Hall asking for prayer

Photo Credit – Mark Hall Family

Photo Credit – Casting Crowns band