Tag Archives: MercyMe

Jesus and Holy Week – Day 8 – He is Risen! Resurrection Sunday

Blog - Easter - Empty Tomb

Photo Credit: TurnbacktoGod.com

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. – John 20:1 

Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”. John 20:18

On this Sunday, this most glorious day in all of history, death gave way to life. The grave could not hold Jesus. Those who loved Jesus most came to the tomb, guarded and sealed, and found it empty. Then ones, twos, small groups, and a crowd of 500 saw him alive. Jesus himself, bearing the wounds of the cross, walking with them, eating with them, teaching them again…as he promised.

He is alive! This man from Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel, the Lord of the world.

With the breath of creation, He speaks of peace, faith, and mission.

With lungs full of air, He breathes on His disciples and grants His Spirit. My Jesus – alive!

The eyes that saw the darkness of death now drink in the sunlight of Easter. My Jesus – alive!* – Trevin Wax

[Read the rest of Wax’s poem here.]

Oh the joy…the indescribable joy of that reality. He died and yet he lives. We were dead in our sins, and because of him, we have life.

Take the time to read this amazing story yourself. The Gospel writers all have given detailed accounts of the risen Christ ( Matthew 28:1-13, Mark 16:1-14, Luke 24:1-49, and John 20:1-29). The Apostle Paul also wrote about Jesus’ resurrection in his letter to the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 15).

Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive…

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
  O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Cor. 15:20-22, 55-57

Sadly, there are those who think the resurrection of Jesus a myth, or a fairy tale. Even his life is treated casually. Yet, for sure, anyone who does a careful examination of the life and teachings of Jesus would be radically changed.  This certainly was my experience. I know too well how wicked my heart can be…my thoughts and actions. God draws us to Himself, and in the drawing we recognize our desperate need for a savior, a strong arm to pull us out of the muck and mire of our own making. Jesus did that for me.

I know Jesus is alive from the historical accounts and the writing of eye witnesses, and because of his own word. I also know he is alive because of how he has transformed lives through the ages. He has changed my life, and he continues to do so.

For the past almost 20 years, during Lent, I have read Adrian Plass’ book The Unlocking. I would like to close with a portion out of his Easter reading.

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”John 20:19

“On that dark Sunday morning, Mary could never have guessed the cosmic significance of the empty tomb. When Jesus rose from the dead the ancient engines of order were fired once more and, in his body on earth, chaos was defeated. And what a wonderful moment for Jesus and his disciples. Neither locks nor fears could withstand the peace and security that the risen Saviour brought, and still brings to his people. It is the peace of knowing that, however rough the road may need to be (and it often is), we shall indeed, in the most real sense, live happily ever after.” – Adrian Plass**

Christ is risen! — He is risen indeed!

Holy Week – Day 8: Resurrection Sunday! – Thank you, Mary Fairfield for writing so well, so thoughtfully, and so thoroughly for Christianity.About.com.

Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ by Sean Davis

5 Reasons to Believe That Jesus Rose From the Dead – Adam4d

*My Jesus – Alive! by Trevin Wax

**The Unlocking – God’s Escape Plan for Frightened People (1994) by Adrian Plass

YouTube Video – Doxology – David Crowder

YouTube Video – Because He Lives – Matt Maher

YouTube video with lyrics – I Can Only Imagine – MercyMe

YouTube video with lyrics – Before the Throne of God Above – sung by Selah

Story Behind the Song Before the Throne of God Above

YouTube Video – Easter Song (Live) – Keith Green – (song starts 2 minutes in)

The Bridge Gospel Presentation

عيد القيامة يسوع المسيح مبارك وكلّ عام وانت واعئلتك بالف خير! المسيح فام! حقّاً قام!

Worship Wednesday – You Are Beautiful, God…and We Are Made in Your Image

Blog - Beauty of God - desertsendPhoto Credit: Desert’s End

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple.Psalm 27:4

Before coffee this morning, I stretched myself awake. No note-to-self was perched on my keyboard. No song to highlight on today’s blog had come to mind. In the dark of this morning, this moment, quiet in my bed, the thought “You are beautiful” came to mind. Oh God! You are so beautiful!

We are surrounded by beauty in this life of ours. The glories of nature that stop us in our tracks to take it in. The faces of those we love who incredibly love us. The great satisfactions of pay for our labor, work that can make a difference, and rest when we’re weary. So much beauty in life – even in the midst of suffering. In fact, it is sometimes in the midst of suffering that the beauty of God is most evident – as we discover His presence in the resilience of the human spirit, the community that rallies, and the reach of outstretched hands.

How beautiful the works of God, but more beautiful God Himself. Mercy and justice perfectly blended. Love beyond anything of our understanding. Complete in the unity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Impossible for me to grasp and yet more real than anything else in this life.

Wednesday morning often includes a walk around my neighborhood, but not today. Without my notice, the rain came to wash away the rest of the snow. Stepping out of the house, and seeing the rain, I made a quick retreat back in…but not without taking in the sky and capturing a shaky panorama of that dense gray. Blog - Rainy Day - panoramaIf you click on the image, you notice a bird sitting atop a branch of one of those sturdy oaks. Like that bird, we are so small taking in the vastness of this beautiful world God has made for us. This created beautiful thing we call home for now. How much more beautiful is the One who created all this vastness – yet a tiny marble in His universe.

He is beautiful. You are beautiful, God…and You call us beautiful simply made in Your image and as we radiate Your glory.

I wrote before (here) about the beauty of God, focusing on the song You’re Beautiful by Phil Wickham. Another song that comes to mind, thinking of the beauty of God is MercyMe’s Beautiful. This song actually focuses on our beauty. How hard it can be to focus on the beauty of God when we feel so broken ourselves! He has made us beautiful… I wish we could hold up a mirror to each other, struggling in whatever our hard places are today, such that we could see ourselves as God sees us. MercyMe has done that in the song Beautiful.

Mark Altrogge wrote the song, I Stand In Awe of You, almost 30 years ago. I remember singing it during our years of living in Cairo, Egypt. We worshipped with other believers and seekers, foreigners and Egyptians together, (at Heliopolis Community Church). Blog - Heliopolis Community Church

Photo Credit: HCC Cairo

Hearing this song in various accents would remind me afresh of what it will be one day when we see God in Heaven, When our eyes of faith will be made sight…and we see Him as He is…”beautiful beyond description”.

Worship with me:

You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom?
Who can fathom the depth of Your love?
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty enthroned above

And I stand, I stand in awe of You
I stand, I stand in awe of You
Holy God to Whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You*

How have you experienced the beauty of God? Are there moments when you have had a glimpse of His beauty in your circumstances…or when He’s given you eyes to see how beautiful He’s made you? I would love to hear your stories (Comment below).

*Lyrics to I Stand In Awe of You by Mark Altrogge – as sung by Annie Herring

I Stand In Awe – Mark Altrogge, 1987 – at and Spiritual Songs

Story Behind the Song I Stand In Awe of You by Mark AltroggeBlog - The Beauty of God - the6cPhoto Credit: The6C

Worship Wednesday – The Story of God in the Acts of the Apostles – God with Us – MercyMe

Blog - Acts of the Apostles - film - YouTubePhoto Credit: YouTube.com

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. – Acts 4:13

I wasn’t born into the Christian faith. As much as it was possible to be alien from God, this was my experience as a child. When a neighbor invited us to her church, we went, essentially immigrants from a foreign land. The kindness of these strangers and the teaching from God’s Word were food and drink to this tired and hungry child’s heart. Even in the few years of my life, I knew the futility of trying to be good and the failure of relying on people for love (except for my Mom). I was a fairly messed-up 8y/o…and then I met Jesus.

That’s why the account of the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible is so riveting. These were not people who just believed in some religious leader or holy book. These were people who intimately knew Jesus. They had spent long days with him…they knew his habits; they saw him at his most tired; they witnessed how his living reflected the truth of his teaching. They were astonished at the miracles he performed and changed themselves by the love he lavished on both the poor and the proud. No wonder they were so bold in their witness, even to the point of death. “They had been with Jesus”.

A Greek physician named Luke penned the letter that we call Acts of the Apostles. In the first line of the letter he mentions another book he wrote, that being the Gospel of Luke. In the Gospel, he delivers a detailed story of the life and teaching of Jesus.

Between these two books, Acts and the Gospel of Luke, you can have a good start at understanding – who Jesus was/is and how the church began. Through the eye-witness accounts of Jesus’ followers.

All of Scripture is a revelation of God. He speaks of Who He is through all the stories – from the books of Genesis to Revelation.

David Teague wrote a profound piece on The Biblical Metanarrative. Written especially for post-moderns, Teague takes the reader, step-by-step through the unity of the story across the Bible – the story of God. I read his article a couple of times, first as a witness to the truth of what he’s saying and again as one who might be skeptical or ignorant of Scripture. I really encourage you to read this article, whatever your current thinking is on God. It’s an easy read, and you will find it profitable.

We are reading through the Book of Acts this month at Movement Church. I love reading out loud the case for Christ made by three followers of Christ in particular – Stephen, Peter, and Paul. Their boldness comes out of relationship not scholarship. They give a shoulders-squared, hearts-resolved first-hand account of Jesus – as Emmanuel, God with us.

He is with us still…

Worship with me.

Who are we, That You would be mindful of us
What do You see, That’s worth looking our way
We are free, In ways that we never should be
Sweet release, From the grip of these chains
Like hinges straining from the weight
My heart no longer can keep from singing

All that is within me cries, For You alone be glorified
Emmanuel, God with us
My heart sings a brand new song
The debt is paid these chains are gone
Emmanuel, God with us

Lord You know, Our hearts don’t deserve Your glory
Still You show, A love we cannot afford
Like hinges straining from the weight
My heart no longer can keep from singing

Such a tiny offering compared to Calvary
Nevertheless we lay it at Your feet.*

The Biblical Metanarrative – The Story of God in a Postmodern World

YouTube Video – The Acts of the Apostles (Visual Bible) – Script of film is all Scripture (NIV).

*Behind the Song God With Us – with Kevin Davis

Story Behind the Song God With Us (GodTube Video)

The Speeches in Acts

Worship Wednesday – On Heaven – You Hold Me Now – Hillsong United

Morocco sunset by Ingrid Pullar

Jesus answered them, “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” – John 10:28-30

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4

The older I get, the sweeter Heaven becomes. Part of that is all the people I love who are there now – my mom, my older brother, a dear nephew, a life-long friend… Part of that is the violence, struggle, and disorder of this world which too often gets blamed on God – cheap blame that avoids looking into the mirror of our own neglect and disregard of the needs of others. More even than those reasons, when I see glimpses of Heaven now, I am filled with hope of what lies ahead.

While living in Casablanca, Morocco, years ago, I was asked to teach a class on world religions. It was for one semester. The students were high schoolers from influential families – all Muslim except for one Hindu student. I knew all the students through their team sports and performing arts. It was a joy to teach them. At the end of the semester, one of their assignments was to choose a religion on which they would do a critical analysis and give an oral report.

As each student team give their reports, they talked about the religions’ beliefs about the afterlife. [It’s a fascinating study, if you’ve never considered it.] The beliefs ranged from reincarnation, to a hoped-for state of nirvana, to a state of nothingness or non-existence, or, finally, to either a Paradise or Hell. For Christianity, the students reporting said, cryptically, “When Christians die, they hope to be with God.”

That is it exactly. That is Heaven for me. That is Paradise.

Too great a thing to hope for? Too fantastic a thing to even believe? If I believe what Jesus says, then I believe what he says about Heaven: “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” [John 14:2-4]

“Where I am, there you may be also…You know the way.”

Those great students of mine did their homework. Their understanding of what Heaven is for Christians was spot on. I do look forward to the day my faith becomes sight. The glimpses of Heaven we have here…and there are many…will one day be His followers’ full eternal experience. Not because we deserve Heaven, for we don’t. Not because we worked hard enough or well enough for Heaven, because that’s not possible…but because of what God has done for us and because of His word to us…as we witness and believe Him here…for There.

Heaven…with Him…Hallelujah!

Worship with me:

On the day when I see
All that You have for me
When I see You face to face
There surrounded by Your grace

All my fears swept away
In the light of Your embrace
Where Your love is all I need
and forever I am free

Where the streets are made of gold
In Your presence healed and whole
Let the songs of heaven rise to You alone

No weeping
No hurt or pain
No suffering
You hold me now, You hold me now
No darkness
No sick or lame
No hiding
You hold me now, You hold me now

In this life I would stand
through my joy and my pain
Knowing there’s a greater day
There’s a hope that never fades

Where Your name is lifted high
and forever praises rise
For the glory of Your name
I’m believing for the day

Where the wars and violence cease
All creation lives in peace
Let the songs of heaven rise to You alone

For eternity
All my heart will give
All the glory to Your Name [x4]*

*Lyrics to You Hold Me Now

YouTube Lyric Video – You Hold Me Now – Hillsong United

What Did Jesus Say About Heaven?

Matt Chandler’s Gospel Presentation – Like You have Never Seen It!

The Gospel in 6 Minutes – John Piper

Coming Home 2015 New Heaven & New Earth TCG National Conference

YouTube Video – I Can Only Imagine (with lyrics) – MercyMe

Randy Alcorn Interview – Looking Forward to a Heaven We Can Imagine

Randy Alcorn on a Biblical View of Heaven – Will We Play Sports? What Age Will We Be?

The Big Religion Comparison Chart (See Afterlife)

Photo Credit: Ingrid Pullar Photography

Worship Wednesday – Listening for His Voice through the Noise

Blog - MercyMeHe who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. – 1 John 4:4

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. – Romans 8:1

All kinds of voices bang around in our heads. Some of those voices belong to family and friends who say things which wound us, whether they meant to or not. There are voices belonging to society that call us “judgers” or “haters”, when we know it’s not true. There are voices from our workplace (sounding like our own voice sometimes) that say we aren’t doing enough or doing our jobs well enough. Then there’s the voice of the Evil One speaking in the first person, with my accent, saying, “I’m too fat. I’m not smart. I’ll never get it right. I’m going to fail…again.”

There are nights when I struggle to fall asleep wondering how to fix what seems wrong, at the time, in my life or relationships. Fear, anxiety, sadness crowd out rest…but worry finally collapses into prayer. It’s then that the Holy Spirit’s quiet voice breaks through the noise, and my head clears. Reminded of what’s true. Peace restored.

In worship, the voices in our heads are silenced by the Voice in our hearts, speaking His Word to us…reminding us of who He is, and who we are, in Him…that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”; we were chosen by Him; we are forgiven; His grace is sufficient for whatever comes; nothing can separate us from His love; and He will never leave us or forsake us…ever.

MercyMe’s song, Greater, from their Welcome to the New album (2014) describes this wrestling in the lives of believers. Until the day, we leave this place for Heaven, we will struggle against what the world says about God and about us, and we’ll cling to what God says…and what we know to be true in walking with Him.

God has used this song to lift my head, and, with joy and gratitude to Him and MercyMe, I invite you to worship with me, singing Greater.

Greater

Bring your tired; bring your shame; bring your guilt; bring your pain; Don’t you know that’s not your name. You will always be much more to me.

Everyday I wrestle with the voices that keep telling me I’m not right; But that’s alright.

‘Cause I hear a voice and He calls me redeemed; when others say I’ll never be enough. And greater is the One living inside of me than he who is living in the world. In the world. In the world.

And greater is the One living inside of me Than he who is living in the world.

Bring your doubts; bring your fears; bring your hurt; bring your tears There’ll be no condemnation here. You are holy, righteous and redeemed. Every time I fall, there’ll be those who will call me a mistake; well that’s ok.

(He’s greater, He’s greater)

There’ll be days I lose the battle; grace says that doesn’t matter ‘Cause the cross already won the war.

(He’s Greater, He’s Greater)

I am learning to run freely understanding just how He sees me and it makes me love Him more and more.

He’s Greater He’s Greater

My God is greater than he who is living in the world.

Mercy Me – Greater Lyrics | MetroLyrics

YouTube video of Greater with Lyrics

YouTube video of Bart Millard Telling Story Behind Song Greater

More of the Story

The Stupendous Reality of Being in Christ Jesus by John Piper

Worship Wednesday – Bring the Rain – MercyMe

Blog MercyMe

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12, ESV

MercyMe, the Christian band, has touched my worshipping heart in these recent seasons of my life. It started with Here Am I, Send Me, the first song of theirs that resonated with what God was already speaking to me at that time.

Then there was the song I Can Only Imagine, a favorite of both my mom and older brother. Each of them died early, at least from our standpoint, and I ache for the day we will all be together again.  That song has come on the radio often over the last few years, just for me…and maybe for you, too. To comfort me in my missing of family gone ahead…and to stir up my hope and confidence in the knowledge of our merciful God.

Bring the Rain is not a new song but it’s most recently come to me as a gift from God during a time of struggle. It is so easy for us to take our eyes off the Lord, even though we don’t want to and we know doing so takes us nowhere good. When this fallen world presses in on us, whether through illness, loss, or disappointment, we do well to remember that God is good through all of our circumstances. We are to hold on to Him, as He holds tightly to us…no matter what.

I hope you can take a moment to worship God through these lyrics.

Then watch the video at the end of Abigail Smith’s journey through a cancer that took her life but could not touch her love for Jesus.  I also rejoice at getting to meet and know her in Heaven one day. This same God who sustained Abby through a hard last year here is the God that MercyMe worships, too…and we with them.

Bring the Rain

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I’ve gone through

The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You

Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It’s never really ever crossed my mind

To turn my back on You, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times

So I pray
Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory

And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain

So I pray
Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings you glory

And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Is the Lord God Almighty

And I forever sing
Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Is the Lord God Almighty

Everybody sing it
Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Is the Lord God Almighty

You are holy, You are holy
Lord, You are holy
Is the Lord our God
Is the Lord our God Almighty, yeah, yeah, yeah

Everybody sing it
Holy, You are holy
Oh, holy, holy, holy, yeah, yeah, yeah
Is the Lord God Almighty
Is the Lord God Almighty, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Is the Lord God Almighty

Bring the Rain – Song Story

Amazing Abby – A Legacy of Hope