Category Archives: steadfast love

Worship Wednesday – Unstoppable – David Crowder

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one...praying at all times. – Ephesians 6:11-16, 18

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” …His truth shall be your shield and buckler…Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you…for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”
Psalm 91:1-2, 4b, 9-11, 14-15

From the Creation story to present day, we are confronted by lies. Through the world’s influence, in our own fallen flesh, and from Satan and his emissaries. Maybe we don’t think much about it, because lies just become part of our worldview if we aren’t on guard. Weighing truth against what seems true or what might be true. Just yesterday, my son told me about his 8 y/o’s troubling thought that he didn’t really love God. What I know of the Holy Spirit, that thought did not come from Him. Satan is the father of lies and the accuser of believers. My son was able to comfort our grandson with the truth, both about God and how this precious child’s thoughts can wrongly condemn him. The talk about our enemy, the Devil, will come later.

Much is written about spiritual warfare, and too often, it is as if it’s us, rather me, against Satan. God is our victor. The battle is truly His, and Satan is no match for the Creator. The Scripture is full of encouragements for us to be strong and courageous, to stand against our enemies, and to trust the Lord. The battle does not depend on our winning, it is God’s to win. However, God calls us to plant our feet on the truth of who He is, who we are, and what He intends for our lives (John Mark Comer, Live No Lies).


In recent days, I’ve been digging into John Mark Comer‘s and Henri Nouwen‘s writings. “Beloved” is a small volume calling us to recognize our identity in Christ and to draw near to Him in prayer, away from what we think is the busyness of a significant life. Comer’s book’s Live No Lies is a substantial and serious read on recognizing and resisting the same temptations Jesus endured in the wilderness, at the beginning of His public ministry. Both authors refer to this experience as common to all of us.

Jesus had three temptations in the desert [Matthew 4:1-11]: to be relevant – turning stones into bread; to be popular – jumping from the tower and have angels catch Him; to have power to possess all the land. Jesus refused all that because He didn’t have to prove to anybody that He was loveable. He was already the beloved. That’s precisely what the Spirit revealed to Him after He was baptised in the Jordan. The voice came and said, ‘You are My beloved son, on You My favour rests’. That’s who you are; you are the beloved, so you don’t have to be busy proving it. You don’t have to run around. Immediately, that same Spirit who revealed to Him that He was the beloved sent Him into the desert to be tested….Solitude is listening to the voice who calls you the beloved. It is being alone with the One who says, ‘You are My beloved, I want to be with you’...Solitude is the place where we go in order to hear the truth about ourselves. Henri Nouwen, “Beloved”

Monday Morning Moment – Henri Nouwen on Leadership – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Heartlight

“The devil’s goal is to first isolate us, then implant in our minds deceitful ideas that play to our disordered desires, which we feel comfortable with because they are normalized by the status quo of our society. Specifically, he lies about who God is, who we are, and what the good life is, with an aim to undermine our trust in God’s love and wisdom. His intent is to get us to seize autonomy from God and redefine good and evil for ourselves, thereby leading to the ruin of our souls and society.” John Mark Comer, Live No Lies: Recognize and Resist the Three Enemies That Sabotage Your Peace

We are probably all familiar with Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness and Satan’s tempting Him. The Evil One has not changed his ways of beguiling since the beginning, when he similarly tempted Eve to distrust God. Ours is to follow and practice the way Jesus dealt with lies and with the accuser. With quiet prayer (in solitude), with seeking the truth (Scripture), with fasting. And in community. Satan attacks most when we are isolated from God and one another.

With the Spirit of God ruling in our hearts and lives, we need never fear. The battle is real, but God is present with us. We stand in His strength. Although our enemies are real and the world seems hostile to us, we have a greater Overcomer.

Singer/songwriter David Crowder tells this story in his rocking anthem Unstoppable. It puts in perspective that our God is invincible, and because we are in Him, we have the confidence and privilege of tasting His victory. Hallelujah!

Worship with me:

Devil’s playing fiddle
Demons coming like a missile
To my left, to my right
But I ain’t be dancing with ’em
I got angels watching over me
Fighting all my enemies
Wear ’em out, knock ’em down
‘Bout to taste that victory

Hey, hey
They can try to slow me
Thinking that they own me
They be thinking crazy
Hey
Welcome to the showdown
They about to find out

When I got You, I am unstoppable
When I got You, nothing’s impossible

No way I lose, I am unbeatable, powerful
Stronger than invincible
I feel bulletproof when I got You
When I got You

See these arrows in my quiver
Winner, winner, chicken dinner
If I’m bitten by the serpent
He’ll be sucking out the venom
I got someone watching over me
Fighting all my enemies
See that smile on my face
‘Bout to taste that victory

Hey, hey
They can try to slow me
Thinking that they own me
They be thinking crazy
Hey
Welcome to the showdown
They about to find out
A-a-amen

When I got You, I am unstoppable
When I got You, nothing’s impossible

No way I lose, I am unbeatable, powerful
Stronger than invincible
I feel bulletproof when I got You
When I got You

When I got You
When I got You

That’s my dad, I’m His son
He’s gonna make that Devil run

That’s my dad, that’s my dad
That’s my dad, I’m His son
Watch him make that Devil run
That’s my dad, that’s my dad

That’s my dad, and I’m His son
He’s gonna make that Devil run
That’s my dad, that’s my dad
That’s my dad, I’m His son
He’s gonna make that Devil run
That’s my dad, yeah, that’s my dad

When I got You, I am unstoppable
When I got You
When I got You, nothing’s impossible
When I got You
No way I lose, I am unbeatable, powerful
No way I lose
Stronger than invincible
I feel bulletproof when I got You
When I got You

When I got You
When I got You

*Lyrics to Unstoppable

Worship Wednesday – When We Pray – Tauren Wells – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – “Be Strong and Courageous” – a Good Word for These Days – Deb Mills

Top 10 Quotes from Live No Lies by John Mark Comer – Joshua Branham

Book Review of “Live No Lies” by John Mark Comer – Fran Hill

Live No Lies Podcast with John Mark Comer

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Worship Wednesday – Praise You Anywhere – Brandon Lake

Photo Credit: GodTube

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!Psalm 150:6

Rejoice in the LORD, O righteous ones; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him. Psalm 33:1

The Lord is faithful to all His words and merciful toward all He has made.
The Lord lifts up all who fall, and He supports all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look eagerly to You, and You give them their food at the proper time.
He opens his hand, and He satisfies the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all His ways and merciful toward all that He has made.
The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.
He grants the desire of those who fear Him. He hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord watches over all who love Him, but He will destroy all the wicked. My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord. Let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. – Psalm 145:13-21

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Revelation 5:13

Praise is a completely natural response to both the character of God and His marvelous works.

On a phone call earlier today, my mom-in-law was going down her prayer list, asking me the status of different ones for whom she has been praying. Over and over, she would say, “Answered prayer!” It was true. As we pause our lives and consider God, we can take hope, even rejoice, in all that He is doing in our lives and around us. This world feels broken, but He isn’t finished…not nearly so.

We may all have different ways we praise God and different preferences as to the setting of praise. In the expansive out of doors or inside in a “quiet time” chair. In the living room of a house church or a huge worship space. Alone or with others.

Photo Credit: Deb Mills, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Va.

The point is that we keep praise a priority in our daily lives. Even in valley experiences or a season of suffering, when we look for it, we will find reason upon reason to praise the Lord. A dear friend of mine finishes her cancer treatment this week. We are praising God for how He walked with her through this time such that she made it through a hard regimen and will ring the bell on Friday to celebrate the last day of treatment. We are also praising God as another friend is getting prepared to start cancer treatment; her cancer was found before she started having symptoms. We are trusting God for good outcomes for both. Praise. Praise. Praise. He is worthy.

Several months ago, I went with a friend to a concert that turned out to be so much more than just great music. It was church. Worship with a few hundred folks we didn’t know but shared a love for Jesus that would bring us to our feet, hands in the air, singing along with singer/songwriter Brandon Lake.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

There is something about Brandon Lake that reminds me of King David in 2 Samuel 6:14-22 when he was dancing in the streets at the return of the Ark of the Lord. He could not contain his joy and had no care for what others might have thought of him. Praising God, dancing before Him, taking great comfort in this moment of feeling God’s pleasure and provision.

God is worthy of praise, with complete abandon, our minds riveted on Him, both alone and in the company of the saints.

Worship with me…and Brandon. Stand on up. You will be in good company.
Sometimes you’ve gotta dance through the darkness
Sing through the fire, praise when it don’t make sense
Sometimes you’ve gotta stare down the giant
Worship from the lion’s den

Sometimes you’ve gotta shout it from the mountain
Louder in the valley, trusting that He’s gonna get you there
Sometimes you’ve gotta welcome the wonder
Wait for the answer, worship with your hands in the air
I’ll praise You anywhеre

Praise, give Him praisе, give Him praise in the highest
Praise, give Him praise, give Him praise in the highest
He is worthy, yes, He is worthy of all of the praise

Sometimes you’ve gotta praise in the prison
Cry out to heaven, shout it ’til the doors swing wide
Sometimes you’ve gotta stand on your shackles
Brave in the battle, worship with your hands held high
I’ll praise You anywhere

Praise, give Him praise, give Him praise in the highest
Praise, give Him praise, give Him praise in the highest
He is worthy, yes, He is worthy of all of the
Praise, give Him praise, give Him praise in the highest
Praise, give Him praise, give Him praise in the highest
He is worthy, yes, He is worthy of all of the praise

Faithful all my life, blessings day and night
Countless reasons why I’ll praise You anywhere
Every promise kept, goodness every step
Each and every breath, I’ll praise You anywhere
Faithful all my life, blessings day and night
Countless reasons why I’ll praise You anywhere
Every promise kept, goodness every step
Each and every breath, I’ll praise You anywhere

Praise, give Him praise, give Him praise in the highest
Praise, give Him praise, give Him praise in the highest
He is worthy, yes, He is worthy of all of the praise

Oh, I’ll praise you anywhere
Oh, mountain or valley, I know that You’re with me there
I’ll praise You anywhere*

Photo Credit: Heartlight

We’re not done! Years ago, when we lived overseas, in Cairo, Egypt, we would attend a monthly praise event called “The Cutting Edge” at Maadi Community Church. Our kids were young and just cutting their teeth on corporate worship. Those evenings, in the cool of hot days, we gathered in the courtyard of this international church and sang together – with other believers from many nations, all having different worship styles and preferences. It didn’t matter. What a grace to focus on Jesus and sing our hearts out!

One more song on this Worship Wednesday – “Praise” with Brandon Lake, Chris Brown & Chandler Moore. Somehow I had missed this song until a few days ago…we have so many reasons to praise the Lord. Let’s get after it!

Worship with these brothers:

Let’s go, 1, 2, hey
Let everything that has breath
Praise the Lord (You got it), praise the Lord
Let everything, let everything that has breath
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord
(Let everything) Let everything (Hey) that has breath (Hey)

[Verse 1: Brandon Lake]
I’ll praise in the valley, praise on the mountain (Yeah)
I’ll praise when I’m sure, praise when I’m doubting
I’ll praise when outnumbered, praise when surrounded
‘Cause praise is the waters my enemies drown in

[Chorus: Brandon Lake & Chandler Moore, Both]
As long as I’m breathing
I’ve got a reason to
Praise the Lord, oh my soul
Praise the Lord, oh my soul

[Verse 2: Chris Brown & Chandler Moore]
I’ll praise when I feel it, and I’ll praise when I don’t (Yeah)
I’ll praise ’cause I know You’re still in control
‘Cause my praise is a weapon, it’s more than a sound (More than a sound)
Oh, my praise is the shout that brings Jericho down (Yeah)

[Chorus: Brandon Lake & Chandler Moore, Both]
As long as I’m breathing
I’ve got a reason to
Praise the Lord (C’mon), oh my soul
Praise the Lord, oh my soul
I won’t be quiet, my God is alive
How could I keep it inside? (I gotta)
Praise the Lord, oh my soul
(Yeah, praise the Lord)

[Interlude: Brandon Lake]
C’mon let me see a dance, put a dance on it tonight (Yeah)
If you’re grateful, c’mon
Hey, hey, yeah

[Bridge: Brandon Lake & Chris Brown]
I’ll praise ’cause You’re sovereign, praise ’cause You reign
Praise ’cause You rose and defeated the grave
I’ll praise ’cause You’re faithful, praise ’cause You’re true
Praise ’cause there’s nobody greater than You
I’ll praise ’cause You’re sovereign, praise ’cause You reign (You reign)
Praise ’cause You rose and defeated the grave
I’ll praise ’cause You’re faithful, praise ’cause You’re true
Praise ’cause there’s nobody greater than You

[Chorus: Chris Brown, Brandon Lake & Chandler Moore, All]
Praise the Lord, oh my soul
(C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon)
(I gotta) Praise the Lord, oh my soul
(Praise the Lord, oh my soul)
Praise the Lord, oh my soul
Praise the Lord, oh my soul
I won’t be quiet, my God is alive
How could I keep it inside? (How could I)
I won’t be quiet, my God is alive
How could I keep it inside? (I won’t keep quiet)
I won’t be quiet, my God is alive
How could I keep it inside? (I gotta)
Praise the Lord, oh my soul

[Outro: Chandler Moore]
Jump, jump, jump, jump, jump
Let everything that has breath
Praise the Lord (Hey, hey), praise the Lord
Let everything, let everything that has breath
(C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon)
Praise the Lord (C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon)
Praise the Lord (C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon)
(Let everything), Let everything that has breath
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, praise the Lord
(Let everything), Let everything that has breath
(Praise the Lord)
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, praise the Lord**

*Lyrics to Praise You Anywhere – Songwriters: Jacob Sooter, Brandon Lake, Ben Fielding & Hank Bentley

**Lyrics to Praise – Songwriters: Steven Furtick, Chandler Moore, Brandon Lake, Pat Barrett, Cody Carnes, Chris Brown

Worship Wednesday – the Wonder of God – Count ‘Em – Brandon Lake – Deb Mills

Why Is Praising God Important?

12 Reasons God Is Worthy of Worship – Karen Hoffman

Photo Credit: Ullie Kaye Poetry, Facebook

Worship Wednesday – The Maker – Chris August

Photo Credit: Paul Lee & Roger M. Smith, Heartlight

Do you not know? Have you not heard?…
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth….
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy….
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?…. Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. –
Isaiah 40:21-22,26,28

Thus says the LORD, “I made the earth and created man on it: it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host”…This is what the Lord says—He who created the heavens, He is God; He who fashioned and made the earth, He founded it; He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—He says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”Isaiah 45:12,18

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.Psalm 8:3-5

Wherever your thoughts are taking you right now…open the door, first chance you get, and walk outside. The world is so much larger than we are. Take it in. The sights, the sounds. Breathe in. From the expansive heavens above us to the packed earth under our feet. Teeming with life we can’t even see but must appreciate. This world…was made for us…and we were made for God and each other.

A dear friend of mine is going through cancer treatment. It is the hard, “going for cure” kind of treatment. Every day, my friend faces new struggle, and yet she remembers God, her Maker. Even in her searching, she always lands here…God is good; He loves her and He will make a way for her.

Photo Credit: Karen Walker, Facebook

When we are in the throes of struggle whatever the situation may be, we may question the goodness of God. Even when He told us to expect trouble, we think it will land somewhere else. In John 16:33, Jesus told his disciples, on the night before he died, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Jesus had to take courage Himself that night – wrestling with the will of God. Yet, as He prayed, His peace was restored. He remembered the goodness of His Father. He knew a battle for our souls was in front of Him, and He faced it triumphantly.

This beautiful God – the Maker of this universe and the Lover of our souls – is the focus of singer, songwriter Chris August‘s anthem. If your circumstances have hit hard, and you are struggling with seeing God as Victor in your life, I pray you let the words of this song wash over you. You are so loved…and will be forever. Take heart, Dear One. He is faithful.

Worship with me.


I see You in the sunrise
I see You in the rain
I see You in the laughter
I feel You through the pain.

Everything that You have made is beautiful
Oh, my God, I can’t believe my eyes
But in all of this to think that You
Would think of me
Makes my heart come alive.

Your love is like a mighty fire
Deep inside my bones
I feel like I could climb a thousand mountains
All at once
And I never have to wonder
If somebody cares for me
I love the Maker
And the Maker loves me.

I see You
You are creation
I see the grandness of Your majesty
The universe is singing all Your glory
I can’t believe You live inside of me.

Everything that You have made is beautiful
Oh, my God, I can’t believe my eyes
But in all of this to think that You would think of me
Makes my heart come alive.

Your love is like a mighty fire
Deep inside my bones
I feel like I could climb a thousand mountains
All at once
And I never have to wonder
If somebody cares for me
I love the Maker
And the Maker loves me.

More than just some words upon a page
You’ve shown me in a million ways
But there is one that stands above them all
Hands of creation on a cross.

Your love is like a mighty fire
Deep inside my bones
I feel like I could climb a thousand mountains
All at once
And I never have to wonder
If somebody cares for me
I love the Maker
And the Maker loves me.*

“Even in your old age I AM he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and I will save.”Isaiah 46:4

Photo Credit: Bible App, Facebook

*Lyrics to “The Maker” – Songwriters: Chris August, Ed Cash

Private: The Maker-Creator

Story Behind the Song “The Maker”

Chris August’s testimony on how he wrote “The Maker” – Soundcloud

More Than a Song Podcast – “The Maker” by Chris August

Worship Wednesday – Our Posture Before a Waiting & Loving Father – with Trevin Wax

Photo Credit: Prodigal Son by Eugene Burnand, article by James Ross Kelly

And Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry.

“Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’Luke 15:11-32

The following is a treasure by writer and researcher Trevin Wax, used with permission. We met only once, but I’ve been learning from him for several years. You are in for a treat – a life-giving infusion of truth, wisdom, and grace.

“Every now and then, a song brings me to tears.

Sometimes it’s an older song that stirs the heart in a new way. I’ve never been able to sing the last verse of Isaac Watts’s hymn, “There Is a Fountain,” because I’m too moved by that image of my “poor lisping, stammering tongue” lying “silent in the grave” before rising again to sing a “nobler, sweeter song” of Christ and his “power to save.”

Songs about the cross and resurrection strike that chord, such as the vision at the end of “O Praise the Name (Anástasis)” of resurrection hope when our gaze will be fixated on the Savior. Andrew Peterson’s “Well Done, Good and Faithful” builds on a Watts hymn and imagines the Father affirming the Son’s sacrificial work; I blubber every Easter season when I hear it. Other songs do the trick too, even simple ones like Steven Curtis Chapman’s “My Redeemer is Faithful and True” or Fernando Ortega’s “Give Me Jesus.”

But for all the times when glorious gospel truth has me fumbling for a Kleenex, there many times when I sing about amazing grace with dry eyes and a lukewarm heart. This has me wondering, What dries up the heart and keeps us from feeling and experiencing the marvelous, matchless grace of God? What keeps the tear ducts blocked?

For starters, there’s the posture of the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son: the self-righteous, self-sufficient one who remains “close” to the father, at least in terms of proximity, while his heart is far from home. The consummate rule-follower believes deep down that the only possible reason God would love us is because we’ve done something to deserve salvation.

Photo Credit: Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal, Stanton Lanier

This assumption can manifest itself in many ways, even among those who talk about grace all the time. The self-justifying tendencies of the human heart can lead us to stand on a pedestal of Christian teaching about grace and then look down on others who’ve not arrived at our level of doctrinal understanding or theological precision.

But we cannot weep before the majestic grace of God if we’re still searching for scraps of self-sufficiency. Tears of gratitude will never fall from eyes looking down on others, only from eyes looking up to God’s grace.

But there’s a second posture that keeps us from marveling at the grace of God: the desire to validate ourselves by doing away with sin.

The New Testament’s insistence on our need for redemption humbles us. But redefining sin removes the need for humility, leaving us affirmed in our natural state.

For many today, the problem isn’t the disease of sin, but those who’d diagnose the disease. So, instead of a father running to us with a heart overflowing with forgiveness and healing mercy, we want a father who runs to affirm us and tell us all is well, that what we’ve done either wasn’t that bad or wasn’t bad at all. We want a God to provide a spiritual presence, a transcendent dimension for the life we’ve chosen to live. God becomes the approver of our own self-validation.

This second posture is also rooted in self-righteousness, but it masks itself in false mercy. For some, sin is not that big a deal because God is merciful and it’s his job to forgive. For others, our focus on brokenness and suffering outstrips any notion of sin as transgression or treason against God. God’s mercy and help are there to make us whole, but this “wholeness” must ultimately be defined by every individual.

The first and greatest commandment is “Be true to yourself.” The second is like it: “Affirm whatever self your neighbor decides to be true to.” In this way, we rid ourselves of vice, not through forgiveness, but through redefining vices as virtues, as part of our authentic selves.

And so, the father runs to the repentant son, not to shower him with undeserved grace, but to follow him to the pigsty, where he insists the son’s rebellion was a bold and courageous act of independence, and the diet of pig food is really a feast for the self-actualized.

This posture strips us of the power to weep at grace. Sin is waved, not washed, away. To deny or minimize your sinfulness is to sever the root of gratitude for undeserved favor. Make favor deserved, a reward that showcases your innate worth and value and goodness, and you’ve gutted grace of everything that makes it amazing.

In both cases, whether it’s the elder brother who won’t lower himself to join the feast, or the younger brother who won’t come to his senses because he wants to be “free” to choose the pigsty, self-righteousness blocks tears of gratitude.

Only Jesus gives us grace that meets us in our darkest hour, grace that plumbs the depths of our cavernous hearts, grace that transforms the heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

Undeserved favor strips us of self-righteousness and shows up our paltry attempts at self-validation. Submit to that humble stripping away of all our pride, and then we can bask in the grace that makes us sing louder, shout for joy, and weep with gratitude. That’s the grace we see in the running feet of the father.” – Trevin Wax, Facebook, May 5, 2024

[If you have time, and want to sing praise to God for His great grace, click on any of the song links – old or new.]

Rembrandt’s Prodigal – A Life Lesson – Stanton Lanier

The Story of the Loving Father – William Barclay – James Ross Kelly

Worship Wednesday – Firm Foundation (He Won’t) – Cody Carnes & Chandler Moore with Maverick City

Photo Credit: Heartlight

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer. My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.Psalm 18:2

“And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”Deuteronomy 31:8

I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.Psalm 37:25

Last week, during a trip to see family and friends in my home state of Georgia, I was reminded often of what a firm foundation we have in Jesus. Spending hours in the car, driving from one house to another, the local Christian radio station had Cody Carnes’ song was played over and over again.

Now does this just happen? Firm Foundation was released over two years ago, but I must have heard it on the radio this week like ten times or more.

It came repeatedly to my attention during the perfect week. My family is hugely important to me. Within our large extended family, there are struggles, like with any family. Mom/grandma/memaw was our spiritual and emotional rock. She held us tightly together despite our big and sometimes disagreeable personalities. However, she has now been with the Lord over twenty years.

Now it is up to us to hold together and believe that God is for us…each of us, and all of us together.

We can’t just make that happen in our own strength, and we don’t have to. We have a firm foundation.

Believe me, if I could take away some of the pain in my family, I would. Praying, encouraging, trusting. God is kind to allow us to be in the battle for our loved ones, but it is not enough. The foundation we build our lives on is crucial. We can’t do that for each other…it is between each of us and a good God.

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

Cody Carnes’ Firm Foundation reminds me of another worship song. A great old hymn entitled “How Firm a Foundation”. Some of the lyrics are in the graphic below. Powerful and true!

Blog - How Firm - biblevisuals.org
Photo Credit: Biblevisuals.org

If you listen to Cody Carnes’ Firm Foundation on YouTube, read the comments. Testimony after testimony after testimony of people who have been in terribly hard places yet they stood firm in their faith. Crediting God for being with them, sustaining them, comforting them, fortifying their hope.

He won’t fail us. That is His promise. He will never leave us or forsake us. Again, His promise to His children. Rest in that. Lean into Him and each other.

Worship with me.

Christ is my firm foundation
The Rock on which I stand
When everything around me is shaking
I’ve never been more glad
That I put my faith in Jesus
‘Cause He’s never let me down (Yeah)
He’s faithful through generations
So why would He fail now?
He won’t (No, He won’t, no, He won’t)
He won’t (He won’t, He won’t, He won’t)

And I’ve still got joy in chaos
I’ve got peace that makes no sense
So I won’t be going under
I’m not held by my own strength
‘Cause I build my life on Jesus
Hе’s never let mе down
He’s faithful through every season
So why would He fail now? (Sing it out)

He won’t
He won’t
He won’t fail
He won’t fail
He won’t
He won’t

No, no, no, no, He won’t fail
He won’t fail (No)
He won’t fail (One more time, say it)

Christ is my firm foundation (Testify)
The Rock on which I stand
When everything around me is shaking (I’ve never been more)
I’ve never been more glad (Sing it now)
That I put my faith in Jesus (Yeah)
‘Cause He’s never let me down (He’s faithful)
He’s faithful through generations (So why)
So why would He fail now? (I need you to shout it out)
He won’t (Sing it out, say)
He won’t (No He won’t, no He won’t)
He won’t fail (No, no)
He won’t fail, no, no (One more time)
He won’t (Yeah-ayy-ayy-ayy, ayy-ayy)
He won’t (I’ve never seen You fail, no)
He won’t fail (No)
He won’t fail

I have a testimony
I have a story to sing
This is my story to sing my song
I have a testimony, you wanna see my testimony?

Rain came, wind blew
But my house was built on You
I’m safe with You
I’m gonna make it through (I feel somebody’s faith rising)
Rain came and wind blew
But my house was built on You (This is the reason you made it, ’cause)
I’m safe with You
I’m gonna make it through
(One more time, oh, rain came)
Oh, rain came and wind blew
But my house was built
on You (This is the reason I’m standing)
Oh, I’m safe with You
I’m gonna make it (I’m gonna make it)
Yeah, I’m gonna make it through (‘Cause I’m standing)
‘Cause I’m standing strong on You (I’m gonna make it)
Yeah, I’m gonna make it through (My house is built on)
‘Cause my house is built on You (One more time y’all, say it)

And Christ is my firm foundation (Ayy)
The Rock on which I stand
When everything around me is shaking (Oh, woah-oh)
I’ve never been more glad (Sing it out)
That I put my faith in Jesus (He’s never let me down)
‘Cause He’s never let me down (Faithful)
He’s faithful through generations (Oh, yeah)
So why would He fail now?
He won’t
He won’t
He won’t fail (Say it)
He won’t fail
He won’t (Oh-oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh)
He won’t (No, no, no, no, no, no)
He won’t fail (Woah)
He won’t fail

Never seen the righteous forsaken
And He won’t start now
Never seen the righteous forsaken
And He won’t start now
Rain came, wind blew
My house was built on You (This is how I made it)
I’m safe with You
I’m gonna make it through (Oh, rain came)
Rain came, wind blew (It tried to knock me out, it tried to shape me up)
But my house was built on You (But my house was built on You, oh-oh-oh)
I’m safe with You
I’m gonna make it (Yes, I’m gonna make it)
I’m gonna make it through (I’m standing strong on You)
‘Cause I’m standing strong on You (I’m gonna make it through)
I’m gonna make it through (‘Cause my house is built on)
‘Cause my house is built on You (‘Cause you’re gonna make it through)
I’m gonna make it through (‘Cause I’m standing strong)
‘Cause I’m standing strong on You (I’m gonna make it)
I’m gonna make it through
‘Cause my house is built on You*

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Blog-Firm-foundation-they-Lord-will-not-forsake-his-faithful-ones-Psalm-37-28-heartlight.jpg
Photo Credit: Heartlight

*Lyrics to Firm Foundation (He Won’t) – Songwriters: Cody Carnes, Austin Davis, & Chandler Moore

Worship Wednesday – How Firm a Foundation – Illustrated – Deb Mills

Blog - How Firm a Foundation - buff.ly - Laura Kranz

Photo Credit: Laura A. Kranz

Worship Wednesday – For the Love of God – Andrew Ripp

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Show us your steadfast love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation. Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.Psalm 85:7-9

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him! For if, when we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!Romans 5:7-10

The love of God is something I know and yet something I cannot comprehend.

From my childhood, He has held me close. In fact, because of Christ, somehow I am carved into “the palm of His hand” (Isaiah 49:15-16). Although these words were written by the prophet Isaiah, centuries before Jesus was born, they remind me of the Cross and the sacrifice of love displayed there.

God’s love is not the smarmy, hands-off, “do whatever we want” kind of love. He fights for us. He is always with us. He sees us at our worst, and yet with the eyes of a perfectly loving Father. Ever drawing us away from what will destroy us and into tender fellowship with Him. Rescued. Redeemed. Restored.

This blog has been a platform for me through the years to share the stuff I’ve learned in life, mostly for my children but you are welcome on the journey.

One thing I’ve known and tested over decades of decision-making and executing, for good and for not-so-good: God loves his children. When we choose to wisely – following Him – and when we choose poorly…serving self or seeking the approval of others. God loves us. He is long-suffering with us, helping us up off the floor and out of the ditch. He is our anchor and our shield. He is the source of everything good in our lives.

When I first heard singer/songwriter Andrew Ripp‘s “For the Love of God”, I was enthralled. It could be the soundtrack of my life. Whatever his story is, it resonates…and beautifully communicates…the love of God.

Photo Credit: Andrew Ripp, KLove

Worship with me.

I saw mercy
Mercy seated where the judge should be
Was guilty
Guilty and getting out of jail free
How could it be I didn’t get the life I deserved
And the only thing that He wanted was my heart in return
Every time I think about every time I thought was the end
I’m caught up wonder again

Where would I be
Where would I be
If it wasn’t for the love of God
This song of victory is
Now mine to sing
Hallelujah for the love of God
Has set me free

(Hallelujah
Hallelujah for the love of God
Hallelujah
Hallelujah for the love of God)

I was thirsty
But like a desert turning to a field of green
Started breathing
When heaven’s favor took ahold of me
How could it be I’m living with an infinite worth
Cuz the one I thought I chose had really chosen me first
Every time I think about every time I thought was the end
I’m caught up wonder again

Where would I be
Where would I be
If it wasn’t for the love of God
This song of victory is
Now mine to sing
Hallelujah for the love of God
Has set me free

(Hallelujah
Hallelujah for the love of God
Hallelujah
Hallelujah for the love of God)

If it wasn’t for my failures and mistakes
I would never know the depths of this grace
Now my heart is beating for heaven’s sake
And for the love of God
And for the love of God
If it wasn’t for my failures and mistakes
I would never know the depths of this grace
Now my heart is beating for heaven’s sake
And for the love of God

Where would I be
Where would I be
If it wasn’t for the love of God
This song of victory is
Now mine to sing
Hallelujah for the love of God
Has set me free

(Hallelujah
Hallelujah for the love of God
Hallelujah
Hallelujah for the love of God
Hallelujah
Hallelujah for the love of God
Hallelujah
Hallelujah for the love of God
Hallelujah
Hallelujah for the love of God
Hallelujah
Hallelujah for the love of God)*

Photo Credit: Heartlight

*Lyrics to For the Love of God – Songwriters: Andrew Ripp, Ethan Hulse

YouTube Video – Jesus Can – Austin French (Official Lyric Video)

Photo Credit: Heartlight
Photo Credit: Heartlight

Worship Wednesday – the Wonder of God – Count ‘Em – Brandon Lake

Photo Credit: YouTube, Lyrics X Scripture

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders You have done, and the plans You have for us—none can compare to You—if I proclaim and declare them, they are more than I can count. Psalm 40:5

He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.Job 5:9

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.James 1:17

Wonder has been my word for 2023. Some of our days can seem mundane until we shake off the mental fog and clear our eyes to what is most real – that God is ever present and moving in our lives and through our circumstances. Wonder at that!

From “In the beginning, God” (Genesis 1:1) through the cross of Jesus when he prays “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing” to his apostle John’s inspired revelation of what is to come – it is all God and He calls us to Himself.

“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just.” Revelation 19:1-2a

If we miss the wonder of God, it is because we have filled our minds with humans as our idols. Frail, faulty humans. We judge God by those persons whom we, at some point, deemed worthy of a pedestal of honor. Should they fall or falter, we then pull away and think they represent a God who fails. Not so!

What is Christianity? If you think Christianity is mainly going to church, believing a certain creed, and living a certain kind of life, then there will be no note of wonder and surprise about the fact that you are a believer. If someone asks you, “Are you a Christian?” you will say, “Of course I am! It’s hard work but I’m doing it. Why do you ask?” Christianity is, in this view, something done by you—and so there’s no astonishment about being a Christian. However, if Christianity is something done for you, and to you, and in you, then there is a constant note of surprise and wonder. John Newton wrote the following hymn: Let us love and sing and wonder, Let us praise the Savior’s name. He has hushed the law’s loud thunder, He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame. He has washed us with his blood. He has brought us nigh to God. See where the love and wonder comes from—because he has done all this and brought us to himself. He has done it. So if someone asks you if you are a Christian, you should not say, “Of course!” There should be no “of course-ness” about it. It would be more appropriate to say, “Yes, I am, and that’s a miracle. Me! A Christian! Who would have ever thought it? Yet he did it, and I’m his.” Tim Keller, Hidden Christmas: the Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ

The wonder of God is that He is so many things that we are not, and yet He gives us a way forward to be more like Him, through the work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. How long-suffering He is; how loving!

Anyone who reads this blog probably knows (or has heard of) the old song “Count Your Blessings”. It is a sweet reminder to exercise our gratitude at all the Lord has done in our lives – “raising my Ebenezer” so to speak.

[I’ve written many times in the past on “stones of remembrance” – raising my own Ebenezer to a good and faithful God.]

Just one example of the wonder of God in my own life is portrayed in the picture below – of my beautiful mom, and precious daughter, and me. My mom had such a hard first marriage that I don’t remember her ever praying a husband for me. Until I was 5 or 6, we were unchurched. Mom had to work so hard providing for us in our childhood that weekends were her catch-up time with house, errands, and us. Church just didn’t happen. Then when neighbors drew us in and church became a beautiful thing in our lives, we all came to faith (and Mom back to her childhood faith which fast became a deep adult walk with God). She gave me a long look into the love of God and the difference knowing Jesus made in a person’s life. I did finally marry and remarkably had children, all of which points to God and His kindness. This picture of us three – all three safe and secure in His love and promises speaks to the wonder of God in our lives.

Just one glimpse of His wonder. Just one on a long list and counting.

God is worthy of our awe and wonder. No matter the situation we find ourselves. He is doing something beyond our imagining. Even in the broken nature of relationships in this world, even in the winding down of all that surrounds us…God is present. We can lean on Him and take hope and courage in Him.

Photo Credit: Heartlight, James Houston

Worship with me to singer/songwriter Brandon Lake‘s Count ‘Em. Get ready for some hard-hitting, Scripture-packed joy at the wonders of God!

Oh-oh-oh, oh
Oh-oh-oh, oh

You got thunder in Your vocal, You got flames in Your eyes
You got wonder-working power pouring out of Your side
Checked the tomb all the way through, the grave was empty inside
Ain’t no other pull the greatest miracle of all time

You got power, demons cower when they hear Your name called
You got power that still towers, make Goliath look small
You got power to devour any counterfeit roar
Even Your tongue is a sword, count up the score, You are the Lord

Holy
You are the Lord
Holy
You are the Lord
Holy
You are the Lord
Holy

Hey, hey
All those funerals You ruined when You made the dead rise
Heaven’s healer using spit and mud to open blind eye
You got wonders I can’t number, couldn’t count if I tried
Called the doctor and the doctor said, “I’m giving new life
Tell your enemies the victory is already here
More than sixty thousand angels, just the tip of the spear”
One day every knee will bow and every heart will be Yours
This is the end of a war, count up the score, You are the Lord

Holy
You are the Lord
Holy
You are the Lord
Holy
You are the Lord
Holy

How many enemies ended on bended knees, swallowed up in defeat?
Can’t count ’em
How many raging seas opened in front of me? How many victories?
Can’t count ’em
How many prophecies no one would dare believe? Now it’s reality
Can’t count ’em
How many broken men given a second chance? See all the lifted hands
Can’t count ’em

How many Thomases doubted Your promises standing here, now convinced?
Can’t count ’em
How many hospitals said it’s impossible? How many miracles?
Can’t count ’em
How many paralyzed living a different life? Go on and testify
Can’t count ’em
How many sinners saved? How many bodies raised? How many empty graves?
Can’t count ’em

Oh-oh-oh, oh
Oh-oh-oh, oh

You are the Lord
Holy
You are the Lord
Holy
You are the Lord
Holy
You are the Lord
Holy*

*Lyrics to Count ‘Em – Songwriters: Brandon Lake, Jacob Sooter, Hank Bentley

YouTube Video – Count ‘Em – Brandon Lake – Lyric Bible Verses

The Wonder of All We Have in Christ: Five Contrasts at the Heart of Hebrews – David Mathis

Death to Deconstruction – a Podcast by Joshua S. Porter – episode “with “Breakdown of the Christian Music Machine with Stephen Christian” – if you have little time, go to minute 54:30 where Stephen gives us rationale of why he did NOT walk away from God as a believer. Powerful!!!

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Phillips Brooks

Worship Wednesday – Walk on the Water – Britt Nicole

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Joni Eareckson Tada

“Come,” said Jesus. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus.Matthew 14:29

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God [in prison], and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly a strong earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. At once all the doors flew open and everyone’s chains came loose.Acts 16:25-26

“Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” – Jesus – John 14:12

Our frail human imaginations can’t often grasp the reality of a God as glorious as ours. That He would entrust us with “even greater works” than what Jesus displayed. What does that mean?

I’m no theologian, but maybe a bit means that in small hearts and faith, God can still work His mighty works in ways we can’t fully understand…as we live the day-to-day. Ours is to be attentive to His voice and to be ready to obey. How ever mundane we think our lives or common our circumstances, God must see things very differently.

Photo Credit: Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel, “Creation of Adam”, Arcwinchester

“Without having seen the Sistine Chapel, it is not possible to form an idea of what one man is capable of obtaining.”Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We know from the longer account of Peter’s leaving the boat and walking on water that he got distracted by the fierce wind whipping up the waves around him, and he faltered. Actually, beginning to sink, Jesus pulled him up and returned him to the boat…to safety.

That’s how we see it sometimes. The boat is what feels safe…rather than the safety of our eyes on Him wherever He takes us. Our temptation is to linger on the fact that Peter “failed”. His faith got him out on the water and he walked on top of those stormy waves toward his savior! Full stop! What encouragement to all of us! The event – both Peter walking on water and Jesus saving him and the rest of the apostles in the boat by calming the storm – grew their faith to the point of deep belief in Him as the Son of God.

God makes everything beautiful in its own time.Ecclesiastes 3:11

God Makes Everything Beautiful in His Time – David Buffaloe (a beautiful study – take time to come back and read it.)

I am guilty of thinking my life is small…and maybe insignificant. That my sin and poor choices set me up repeatedly for failure. Even writing this, the Spirit of God presses in to remind me (again!) that it is not so.

God is with us to always. The God of this whole universe. Beyond comprehension that He leans in to each one of His children. Ready to pull us out of the ditch and set us back on course…with a larger faith. Righting ourselves as we fix our attention back on Him. This God is the One who so thrilled the hearts of Paul and Silas that they should be worthy of the persecution that threw them into prison (Acts 16:25-26). Did they despair? Maybe…but not such that it kept them from praising the living God.

YouTube Video – Brandon Lake – Praise You Anywhere (Official Music Video) – Songwriters: Brandon Lake, Jacob Sooter, Ben Fielding, Hank Bentley

And an earthquake shook the prison such that all the doors opened.

We’ve all experienced shakings in our lives and water so deep we thought we’d drown. Rather than focusing on our own weaknesses and felt failings, we have it in our small faith (in a giant God) to grab hold of Him and to see doors open.

I am praying for this for you and me this morning.

Worship with me.

You look around
It’s staring back at you
Another wave of doubt
Will it pull you under?
You wonder:
What if I am overtaken?
What if I never make it?
What if no one’s there?
Will You hear my prayer?

[Pre-Chorus]
When you take that first step
Into the unknown
You know that He won’t let you go

[Chorus]
So what are you waiting for?
What do you have to lose?
Your insecurities try to alter you
You know you’re made for more
So don’t be afraid to move
Your faith is all it takes
And you can walk on the water too

[Verse 2]
So get out and let your fear fall to the ground
No time to waste, don’t wait
And don’t you turn around and miss out
On everything you were made for (gotta be)
I know you’re not sure
So you play it safe, you try to run away

[Pre-Chorus]
If you take that first step
Into the unknown
He won’t let you go

[Chorus]
So what are you waiting for?
What do you have to lose?
Your insecurities try to alter you
You know you’re made for more
So don’t be afraid to move
Your faith is all it takes
And you can walk on the water too

[Bridge]
(Step out) Even when it’s storming
(Step out) Even when you’re broken
(Step out) Even when your heart is tellin’ you
Tellin’ you to give up
(Step out) When your hope is stolen
(Step out) You can’t see where you’re going
You don’t have to be afraid
So what are you waiting, what are you waiting for?

[Chorus]
So what are you waiting for?
What do you have to lose?
Your insecurities try to alter you
You know you’re made for more
So don’t be afraid to move
Your faith is all it takes
And you can walk on the water
Walk on the water too*

*Lyrics to Walk On the Water – Songwriters: Dan Muckala, Britt Nicole, & Josh Crosby

YouTube Video – Britt Nicole – Walk On The Water – The Story Behind The Song

Worship Wednesday – Abide – Dwell Songs

Photo Credit: Pinterest

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”John 15:5

In the South, where I’m from, the small-time farmer (gardener really) strives to have at least one of his vine tomatoes ripe and red by July 4. That first delicious, sun-warm tomato for the Independence Day burger or BLT.

Dave did it! Out of all the huge green tomatoes bowing the vines down, one turned red just in time for July 4. Along with several cherry and grape tomatoes. Yum!

The branches bearing the tomatoes are so heavy that they pull the vines over. So much so that they must be staked up to hold the weight. If the branch is severed from the vine, for whatever reason, the tomatoes rot. Without the nourishment from the vine, they die.

In John 15, the Apostle is quoting Jesus speaking on our relationship to Him. He is the vine and we are the branches. As we stay close to Him, He will do in our lives what we need – to be sustained ourselves and to bear His fruit…much fruit as we stay close. It is pretentious for us to think we are responsible for all the good that comes from our lives. Anything of lasting value, anything with eternal significance, is produced through abiding in Christ. Praise God for that…we stay close and He does wonders!

Photo Credit: Pinterest

I think of those branches straining under the weight of the ripening tomatoes. They may break. The vines themselves may not be able to withstand the growth depending on them.

Not so with us or our Savior. As we follow and trust Him, receiving all He has for us…as we cling to Him, we will receive what we need to endure under the beautiful burden of much fruit. He will not bend or bow. He will do what only He can do in the Father’s vineyard. He will give us what we need always – from the first breath of the morning and through our rest in sleep each night.

A devotional written by Marshall Segal that accompanied the release of the song says, “Jesus did not mean that we would be unable to walk or work or watch Netflix without Him. He meant that we would be unable to do anything real or meaningful or lasting – anything that pleases God. We might live for sixty, seventy, or even eighty years, and yet accomplish nothing, live for nothing, die with nothing. Most people do.”

We can make it through a full day without once acknowledging the Lord. We can do our jobs well, we can love our families well, and we can be kind to our neighbors. However, the fact is, whether we acknowledge it or not, it is only by the grace of God that we have a job in the first place. It is only by the grace of God that we have been blessed with a family. It is only by the grace of God that He has put a roof over our head and ordained great friendships with those whose paths have crossed ours.

Marshall Segal goes on to write in his devotional, Sometimes abiding in Christ will feel like dying with Christ. But anyone who dies with Christ – who abides in and obeys the crucified King – will also be exalted with him.” (Philippians 2:9-11; Ephesians 2:6)

We have all experienced some type of hardship in this life. We have all experienced or been near friends and loved ones that have walked through heartbreaking trials. Some of us are experiencing more suffering than others. In John 16:33 Jesus reminds us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”Chris Jamison

Take heart. It’s harvest time. Hold on to Christ. He will hold us fast!**

Worship with me.

For my waking breath
For my daily bread
I depend on You
I depend on You

For the sun to rise
For my sleep at night
I depend on You
Yes I depend on You

You’re the way the truth and the life
You’re the well that never runs dry
I’m the branch and You are the vine
Draw me close and teach me to abide

Where the Spirit leads
As I’m following
I depend on You
I depend on You

For the victories
Still in front of mе
I depend on You
I depеnd on You

You’re the way the truth and the life
You’re the well that will never run dry
I’m the branch and You are the vine
Draw me close and teach me to abide

Be my strength, my song in the night
Be my all, my treasure my prize
I am Yours, forever You’re mine
Draw me close and teach me to abide

When I pass through death
As I enter rest
I depend on You
I depend on You

For eternal life
To be raised with Christ
I depend on You
I depend on You *

*Lyrics to Abide – Songwriters: Aaron Keyes, Aaron Williams, Dee Wilson, & Jake Fauber

**YouTube Video – Keith & Kristyn Getty – He Will Hold Me Fast (Official Lyric Video)

Abide by Dwell Songs – Worship Song Analysis – Chris Jamison

Aaron Williams

What Is the Key to Bearing Fruit as a Christian? – Got Questions

Worship Wednesday – PrayerFULness – Heal Our Land – Kari Jobe

Photo Credit: Rachael M. Colby, Tattoo It On Your Heart

[Adapted from the archives]

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For I have now chosen and consecrated this temple so that My Name may be there forever. My eyes and My heart will be there for all time. – 2 Chronicles 7:14-16 

“Then let this be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone’. Salvation exists in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”Acts 4:10-12

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be offered for all men … Prayer of this kind is good and God our saviour is pleased with it — it is my wish that in every place men shall offer prayers with blameless hands held aloft, and be free from anger and dissension.1 Timothy 2:1–8

At every opportunity pray in the Spirit, using prayers and petitions of every sort. Pray constantly and attentively for all God’s people.Ephesians 6:18

Dave’s Mom, my sweet mother-in-law, prays. Every day. Through the day. In her 80s, Julia carries the baton of her own Godly mother who has long since gone to be with the Lord. She prays not out of duty or self-interest. She prays in obedience to God and out of love for Him, for her family, her church, her country, and the world.

As long as Julia lives, I know that daily our names echo in the great halls of Heaven before the God of the universe. When my own mom died, now 20 years ago, a silence sounded in our lives that I had never experienced before. She, like Julia, was a pray-er. Mom prayed faithfully for us, her children and grandchildren. She also had hope borne out of prayer for the church and our country. Since Mom died, I am trying to run the race she left for me…praying for those God has lovingly and strategically placed  in my life to lift up to Him.

Photo Credit: Kirtland AFB

In the US, we are moving into the season of political rallies with widely varying displays of patriotism, anticipating the 2024 election year. The news media is full of disheartening reports on our country’s status in the world, its moral and cultural decline, and partisan viewpoints on what’s the cause and who’s to blame.

God is not surprised by anything. Nor is He disinterested. He loves all peoples and He has certainly not forgotten those who call themselves Americans.

We as believers search for meaning in the chaos we see around us. We, too, are tempted to assign blame.

What if…what if the cause of our country’s racial and sociopolitical divides…the violence and opioid epidemic…abortion and poverty…related less to politics and more to prayerlessness?

God doesn’t seem to mind small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10). He is also a world-shaking finisher (Philippians 1:6).

What if two or more of us gather agreeing and pray (Matthew 18:20)? For each other, our church leaders, our country, the nations. God’s kingdom come, God’s will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10).

Movement Church has had many seasons of prayer…many small beginnings. For some time, we had a tiny ministry called Play ‘n Pray. It was moms and grandmothers with little ones who came together each week briefly to pray. During COVID, a handful of us sat outside, circled together, socially distanced, in singular mind, to pray down the Spirit of God on our church and community. This summer as a part of our local mission effort to know our city better and to pray with the city in view, we are all participating in a prayer scavenger hunt.

Many of the world’s spiritual revivals began with just a handful of believers. It can happen here…

“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” John Piper

Our vision at Movement Church includes a God-glorifying movement of prayer that will spread through our church, extending into our community, city, and the world. Small beginnings but with a great God. One day we believe that He will take the small embers of this many efforts over time and flame them up into a redeeming work only He can finish.

Prayerfulness does take some spiritual formation…habit formation. Last night, we had a friend over and we talked at length about the spiraling nature of our culture, the lack of true life-giving compassion, the anti-Christian sentiment, and the disinterest in a holy God (or any god outside of one’s own making). Our conversation was dark…and too familiar. What if…we prayed instead? Talking not ABOUT chaos to one another but praying WITH one another, taking those same things to God. Praying FULL of hope and faith.

As I write this morning, our dear praying mom, Julia, is sitting in her favorite spot, Bible open in her lap, praying. She knows the God who draws her to prayer is at work. One person, one of His daughters, trusting Him with what He lays on her heart. One by one…two or more…all over this country and this world…prayerFUL. Anticipating what God is about and what He will complete. To Him be all glory.

Worship with me to the Kari Jobe‘s call to prayer “Heal Our Land”:

You take our lives
Flawed, yet beautiful
Restore, refine
Lord, You’re merciful

Redeem, revive

Spirit of God
Breathe on Your church
Pour out Your presence
Speak through Your word
We pray in every nation, Christ be known
Our hope and salvation, Christ alone

New power, new wine
As divisions fall
One church, one bride
Jesus, Lord of all

With one voice we cry

Spirit of God
Breathe on Your church
Pour out Your presence
Speak through Your word
We pray in every nation, Christ be known
Our hope and salvation, Christ alone

So, God we pray to You
Humble ourselves again
Lord, would You hear our cry
Lord, will You heal our land
That every eye will see
That every heart will know
The One who took our sin
The One who died and rose
[x2]

And when Your kingdom comes
And when at last You call
We’ll rise to worship You alone

Spirit of God
Breathe on Your church
Pour out Your presence
Speak through Your word
We pray in every nation, Christ be known
Our hope and salvation, Christ alone

Spirit of God
Breathe on Your church
Pour out Your presence
Speak through Your word
We pray in every nation, Christ be known
Our hope and salvation, Christ alone*

*Lyrics to Heal Our Land – Songwriters: Scott Ligertwood, Brooke Gabrielle Fraser, Karie Jobe, Cody Carnes

YouTube Video – Heal Our Land – Kari Jobe (Song Story)

If My People – Tony Evans

Prayerfulness: A Grace to Seek – Claude Lopez

Character Traits of the Spiritual Life: Prayerfulness – Richard Hollerman

Photo Credit: AZ Quotes