Category Archives: Lives Full of God

Worship Wednesday – Take You at Your Word – Cody Carnes & Benjamin William Hastings

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.Proverbs 30:5

God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?Numbers 23:19

“My word that proceeds from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and it will prosper where I send it.” Isaiah 55:11

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.Philippians 1:6

How amazing is it that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God!!! [Romans 8:31-39] Or that there is NO condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus! [Romans 8:1] And we don’t have to be afraid. [2 Timothy 1:7] Nor is it for us to do good works to be approved of God. [Ephesians 2:8-10]

The promises of God and the truths of God abound in His Word. It is our choice to take Him at His word.

This can be a battle for us when we find ourselves in the throes of life in a broken world. As I write, folks come to mind – brothers and sisters in Christ facing overwhelming circumstances. The family of a 5-year-old who is in aggressive treatment for a brain tumor. The wife and children who lost their husband/father to a sudden death a year ago, marking this difficult anniversary. A family broken by a deep rift now coming up on four years with no resolution. Way too many friends in floundering marriages.

When we look at these situations, we are tempted to doubt that God sees us, that He loves us, or that His word is trustworthy. He doesn’t promise healing this side of Heaven. He doesn’t promise His children won’t suffer (in fact, just the opposite). He doesn’t promise justice (again, this side of Heaven) when we are wronged.

However….and a big however…He does promise He will always be with us. He does promise that not only does He love us but He is Love itself. He does promise grace, comfort, strength, and mercy.

Last week, at Movement Church, our worship team introduced the song Take You At Your Word. It is written by Cody Carnes, Benjamin William Hastings, and Aodhan King. Although the song has been out for some time now, I’d never heard it. In the lyrics, you’ll hear many of the truths in God’s Word. Powerful!

When I pray for and sit with friends and family in tough situations, one Scripture passage often comes to mind. Jesus had experienced rejection from many who followed Him to serve their own interests. He turned to His disciples and this conversation followed:

Jesus asked the Twelve, “Do you want to leave too?”

Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.”John 6:67-68

This is where I hope to always plant myself. In hard times and easy. In burden and blessing. The world cries out against God when it sees suffering. As believers, we may sometimes cry out as well, especially when we see those we love suffer or those who are lost or languishing under the weight of a circumstance not of their own making.

Peter has given us testimony of the way forward. Jesus, only Jesus, has the words of eternal life. Life itself. He will get us through whatever we are currently facing. He alone gives us power for this life and provision of the next. In Him. In Him. Step by step. Enough light for each step forward as we keep our eyes on Him.

We can take Him at His word.

Worship with me.

Your word is a lamp unto my feet
Your way is the only way for me

It’s a narrow road that leads to life
But I want to be on it
It’s a narrow road but the mercy’s wide
‘Cause You’re good on Your promise

Come on

I’ll take You at Your word
If You said it I’ll believe it
I’ve seen how good it works
If You start it You’ll complete it
I’ll take You at Your word

Come on

You spoke and the chaos fell in line
Well, I know ’cause I’ve seen it in my life

It’s a narrow road that leads to life
But I want to be on it
It’s a narrow road and the tide is high
‘Cause You parted the water

I’ll take You at Your word
If You said it I’ll believe it
I’ve seen how good it works
If You start it You’ll complete it
I’ll take You at Your word

I’ll take You at Your word
If You said it I’ll believe it
I’ve seen how good it works
If You start it You’ll complete it
I’ll take You at Your word

You’re good on Your promise
Yeah, I know
You’re good on Your promise

You said Your love would never give up
You said Your grace is always enough
You said Your heart would never forget or forsake me

Thank you, Lord

You said I’m saved, You call me Yours
You said my future’s full of Your hope
You’ve never failed so I know that You’ll never fail me

I say sing it again

You said Your love would never give up
You said Your grace is always enough
You said Your heart would never forget or forsake me

Hallelujah

You said I’m saved, You call me Yours
You said my future’s full of Your hope
You’ve never failed so I know that You’ll never fail me

I’ll take You at Your word
If You said it I’ll believe it
I’ve seen how good it works
If You start it You’ll complete it
I’ll take You at Your word

I’ll take You at Your word
If You said it I’ll believe it
I’ve seen how good it works
If You start it You’ll complete it
I’ll take You at Your word

‘Cause You’re good on Your promise
Oh, You’re good on Your promise

I’ll take You at Your word

Let’s go

Hallelujah*

“The great enemy of the Christian is the sin of unbelief—the sin of refusing to accept what God says and the sin of refusing to do what God says. The great friend of the Christian is the joy of belief and the joy of obedience. Where is God asking you to simply take him at his word?”Tim Challies

*Lyrics to Take You At Your Word – Songwriters: Cody Carnes, Benjamin William Hastings, and Aodhan King

Take God At His Word – 21 Bible Verses About Taking God At His Word

Where Is God Asking You to Take Him at His Word? – Tim Challies

What It Looks Like to Take God at His Word – Colin Smith

Monday Morning Moment – Mom – a Lifetime Full of Love Notes – Her Birthday Just Ahead of Valentine’s Day

Mildred Jane Byrd Stephens McAdams – Feb. 2 1927-Nov. 2 2002

[Today is Mom’s birthday – 22 of them now in Heaven. This blog adapted from the Archives. ]

Our little family has never lived close to the grandparents. This was not easy…for any of us. Before I married, I lived close to home, and Mom was my best friend. She died 22 years ago, and I still miss her every day. To people who knew her well, I would often say  “when I grow up, I want to be just like her.” Still working on that.

Mom and I shared a weakness for words…they are probably excessively important to us, delivering both positive and (sometimes) negative weight. She was a consummate encourager. She rarely missed an opportunity to lift another’s spirit or to speak loving truth to someone desperate for God’s touch.

Mom pictures for website 012

When I moved away to take a teaching job, she and my dad helped me with the move. New Haven, Connecticut would be a 2-day drive from Georgia. At that time, it was the farthest I had ever lived from home. She stayed a week to help me settle in.  While there, she was such great company. We explored the city together and laughed over a new culture and cried at the missing that was ahead for us.

She filled my freezer with her baking, and, while I was at work, she wrote notes. Then she hid them everywhere. After she flew home, I began finding them. In my coffee mug. Under my pillow. In the pocket of my coat. Among my reference books. Behind my music books on the piano. She was with me in the love notes she left, and it made the distance between us…less.

My mom and I also had a weakness for bits of paper. I have kept every one of her notes. These from that move over 30 years ago are fading…red ink on pink paper. There is a lifetime of notes between Mom and me. The tradition she started on that first move has become a life-long tradition for our family. Our visits back and forth, across the US and then the globe, have been papered by little notes like these.

Our children, from the time they could write, entered into this tradition much to the joy of their grandparents. Before we would leave from visits with them, these three young ones would write of their affection for their grandparents and hide them all over their houses. I delighted in their cooperation in this conspiracy of love.

Mom always wrote notes…not just to us but to so many. She and her Sunday School Class ladies would send cards every week to the sick ones or the sad ones. She had a special burden for the elderly, for widows (including functional widows, deserted by husbands) and for fatherless children (again including those “orphaned” by still-living fathers). She inspired me by her humble ambition .

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. – James 1:27

I am so thankful for my mom’s bits of paper…for her love…and for her perseverance in encouraging and serving others. Her generation is sadly almost gone, and it is for us to pick up these traditions, or traditions like them. Passing them on somehow to the next generations…Maybe there won’t be bits of paper or love notes like in the past. I do hope we still take the time to write. Definitely, the call to serve and to encourage is as current as ever. My life continues to be rich with those, young and old, who reach out with words of kindness and encouragement. Written or spoken, they are love notes to the heart.

[Thankfully, our grown-up children continue to show love to their parents with words – both written and spoken.]

Thanks, Mom. After twenty-two years, many may have forgotten you for now. Many more won’t know of you this side of Heaven. Your life may have seemed small, but it was larger than life to me.

Thank you. Thank God for you.

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.1 Thessalonians 5:11

The 59 “One Anothers” of the New Testament

Sunday Grace – A Valentine’s Day Reflection of the Deep, Deep Love of God – Deb Mills

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 – Seasons – Benjamin William Hastings

[Some of our raised beds, winterized, resting and waiting their replanting]

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”Genesis 8:22

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

[I’ve written about seasons many times. If you have time…catch them again here.]

It’s winter here. Although our garden is quiet now, the promise of Spring is still visible.

[Japanese Maple seeds]
[Daffodils coming up]

[My beloved irises pushing through. Mom’s favorite flowers, thus they are mine as well.]

Most all my life, I’ve had the pleasure of living in four-seasons places. Except for Egypt when all the seasons we knew were hot and then a little less hot. Still the beauty surrounded us there…different yet still a witness to our Creator God.

Seasons aren’t just studies in the growth cycles of plants, trees, and produce. They also mark periods in our lives. Some more fruitful than others. Some more filled with wonder and joy. Others remembered with some measure of regret and disappointment.

God is not surprised or taken aback by any of our seasons. He was there for all of it, and He loved us through every season.

A few weeks back, I heard the northern Irish singer/songwriter Benjamin William Hastings for the first time. He was one of the songwriters on “So Will I”. His song “Seasons” is a beautiful description of what it is like to be patient in our seasons, both with ourselves and with our God.

“You’re the God of seasons, I’m just in the winter
If all I know of harvest is that it’s worth my patience
Then if You’re not done workin’, God, I’m not done waiting.”

Whatever your present season, keep tilling the soil of your life (and that of your children), keep counting on God’s promises, keep trusting Him for the harvest. “Like a seed, believe that my (your) season will come.”

Worship with me.

Like the frost on a rose
Winter comes for us all
Oh, how nature acquaints us
With the nature of patience
So like a seed in the snow
I’ve been buried to grow
For Your promise is loyal
From seed to sequoia
I know

[Chorus]
Though the winter is long, even richer
Is the harvest it brings
And though my waiting prolongs, even greater
Is Your promise for me, like a seed
I believe that my season will come

So like the low winter sun
So it is with Your love
As I gaze, I am blinded
In the light of Your brightnеss
So like a fire to the snow
I’m rеnewed in Your warmth
Oh, melt the ice of this wild soul
Till the barren is beautiful

And I know

[Chorus]
Though the winter is long, even richer
Is the harvest it brings
And though my waiting prolongs, even greater
Is Your promise for me, like a seed
I believe that my season will come

[Bridge]
I can see the promise, I can see the future
You’re the God of seasons, I’m just in the winter
If all I know of harvest is that it’s worth my patience
Then if You’re not done workin’, God, I’m not done waiting

Well, You can see my promise even in the winter
‘Cause You’re the God of greatness, even in a manger
For all I know of seasons is that You take Your time
You could have saved us in a second, instead, You sent a child

[Chorus]
Though the winter is long, even richer
Is the harvest it brings
And though my waiting prolongs, even greater
Is Your promise for me, like a seed
I believe that my season will come
For one day, I’ll see my tree
‘Cause I believe there’s a season to come

[Outro]
Like a seed You were sown
For the sake of us all
And from Bethlehem’s soil
Grew Calvary’s sequoia, ooh-ooh-ooh
*

[Our tall maple tree and the waning winter moon]

*Lyrics to Seasons – Songwriters: Benjamin William Hastings, Ben Tan, & Chris Davenport

Worship Wednesday – Abandoned (in the Best Possible Way) – Benjamin William Hastings – Deb Mills

YouTube Video – Brandon Lake – MORE (Music Video) ft. Benjamin William Hastings, Leeland

Your Work Matters to God: Staying On Course Through Life’s Seasons – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – Word for the New Year – Strong (Nested in “Filled” – There’s a Story)

Photo Credit: Heartlight

In 2020 (the year of COVID), I read Debbie Macomber‘s book One Perfect Word. She tells fascinating stories of persons’ choosing a word to guide their year. Finishing her book and praying a bit, the word compassion became my focus. 2021 was a good year for that as we dealt with so many divisions over COVID, race, politics, etc. Compassion for all on both sides of each issue.

At first I wasn’t going to do “a word” for 2022, and then a rapid series of “coincidences” drew me to the word: joy. As that year ended, I had become negative and even a bit cynical. Still having faith in God but not so much in humans, including myself. Even after a year of compassion!!

Then 2023 followed, and I chose the word “wonder”. It was inspired by my study of Dr. Curt Thompson’s books. He encourages a pursuit of mental health and healing including staying “in the path of oncoming beauty”. This focus on wonder – in searching out beauty in the context of community and a loving God – brought me through a year tougher than I imagined it would be.

Monday Morning Moment – Word for the Year 2023 – Wonder – Deb Mills

Now we stand at the start of 2024.

The last several days of December 2023, I have pondered what word would be a fixed point for this coming year. New Year’s resolutions and habit formation are both great helps for my slightly scattered brain.

5 Friday Faves – New Year’s Resolutions, Habit Planner, Year-End Review, Word for the Year, and the Last Days of 2021 – Deb Mills

Here’s how it all came together, look toward 2024. In recent days, I’ve been lamenting behing older (i.e. Weaker, more frail). Having lost 2 inches in stature (just in the years of pounding on my vertebra) also made me feel small. I’ve decided to push back against the weakness and seemingly diminished nature of getting older. After all, what does that even mean?! I’m not that old. Right?

Then the passage in Joshua 14 came to my attention. First the back-story: During the years after God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, they wandered in the wilderness awaiting his timing on entering the Promised Land. In obedience to God, Moses had sent 12 spies to scope out the land. It was amazing, filled with much good but also peoples of formidable strength. Only Caleb and Joshua returned with good reports that, with God’s help, they could take the land as their own. The other spies terrified the people and they pushed back against God’s call to enter and conquer. [This historical account is found in Numbers 13 and 14.]

Because of their disobedience, those in rebellion would not receive their homeland. They would die in the wilderness. For forty years, Caleb and Joshua would patiently endure the punishment not their own, as they waited for God’s command to enter the land, along with all the Israelite children now grown.

40 years later, when Caleb was 85, he gives a beautiful and faith-filled declaration:

 “I am still as strong today as I was on the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim (giants) were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out just as the Lord has spoken.” [Joshua 14:11-12.]

Talking to Dave (that husband of mine), he commented that Caleb had that strength for which I am longing because he had “a different spirit in him” (Numbers 14:24). Whereas the 10 spies and the Israelites influenced by them were driven by a spirit of fear, Caleb was filled by the Spirit of God. In his determination to obey and follow wholeheartedly, his faith emboldened him. He demonstrated strength physically, mentally, and spiritually.

He would not be defined by age, aptitude, or ability…but by the great and gracious God he sought to serve.

That’s what I long for in this coming year. To be strong. In all ways possible. Including strong in my love for God and others. This can only be mine if nested in being filled with the very Spirit of God.

Let’s see what’s ahead that will require me to be strong. Is that a tad unnerving? Absolutely! Yet, again, I am reminded of the goodness of God. “For when I am weak (and it will happen), then His strength is manifested perfectly and completely!” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

How is God’s strength made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)? – Got Questions [Read this brief glorious article about how God moves in our weakness – like helping us choose a word for the year, in my case right now.]

Photo Credit: The World of Calvin & Hobbs, Facebook
Photo Credit: Heartlight

Worship Wednesday – First Things First – with Consumed by Fire

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Then the man and his wife [Adam and Eve] heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the breeze of the day, and they hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord called out to the man, “Where are you?Genesis 3:8-9

One day in a place where Jesus had just finished praying, one of His disciples requested, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” So Jesus told them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come… – Luke 11:1-2

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence [boldness], so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

What is it that keeps us from praying?

Is it shame or fear? Yet God calls for us to show ourselves to Him. He looks on us with deep compassion.

Is it not our practice? The disciples witnessed both Jesus’ pattern of prayer and His power to live a life pleasing to the Father. They didn’t ask what was His secret. They seemed to know it was his dependence on the Father through prayer.

Is it our sin that makes us too shy to talk to God? He is not surprised at our struggle. He knows our weaknesses and loves us still. We have a sinless mediator in Jesus and because of Him we have access to the Father.

Prayer can be hard for me for all the above reasons. Add to those the weight of so much need in the world, and I find myself too quickly distracted by the world’s chatter. Oh to stay in the quiet of His peace!

So I pray a bit then switch to over-thinking and worry, or drop out altogether to some other cheap substitute to prayer. Nevertheless, because of His long-suffering with His children, He draws us back to Himself, and I return often to that throne of grace. As a child running to my dad…the best dad we could ever hope to have. Father God.

Have you read Tyler Staton‘s Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools yet? It has been my guidebook (alongside the Bible) in recent months toward a deeper walk with the Lord.

Tyler Staton introduces his readers to writer teacher John Mark Comer. Comer is the founder of Practicing the Way. This is a website with the focus of offering a pathway to becoming like Jesus in community. All of the teaching and resources are free, and I’ve been grateful to God for how He is speaking to me in this space. My hope is to be part of a prayer community in our local church. Pray with me for this. Are you part of such a community?

Photo Credit: YouTube, John Mark Comer

Comer’s series on prayer is also available on YouTube. The first two messages are linked (the other two I will link when they come online).

YouTube Video: Prayer – Talking to God – John Mark Comer

YouTube Video: Prayer – Talking with God – John Mark Comer

Photo Credit: YouTube, John Mark Comer

YouTube Video: Prayer – Listening to God – John Mark Comer

YouTube Video: Prayer – Being with God – John Mark Comer

Photo Credit: YouTube, John Mark Comer

As often happens, while thinking about the whole practice of prayer in my life, I heard the song below on the car radio. It preached!

Worship with me to the deeply intimate song “First Things First” by the band of brothers Consumed by Fire.

All the things that I have held dear
The vanities that whispered in my ear
What would I do if they all disappeared
Riches and fame and all that they could buy
I’ve come to find they never satisfy
What would I gain if my soul’s the price

I don’t wanna love what the world loves
I don’t wanna chase what the world does
I only want you
I only want you

First thing’s first
I seek Your will
Not my own
Surrender all my wants to you
Keep the first thing first
To live Your truth
Walk Your ways
Set my eyes
Lord, I fix my face on you
All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first

I give it all
My life an offering
My heart is yours
So have Your way in me
Your kingdom’s all I wanna seek

I don’t wanna love what the world loves
No, I don’t wanna chase what the world does
I only want you
I only want you

First thing’s first
I seek Your will
Not my own
Surrender all my wants to you
Keep the first thing first
To live Your truth
Walk Your ways
Set my eyes
Lord, I fix my face on you
All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first
To keep the first thing first
All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first, oh
To keep the first thing first, oh

First thing’s first
I seek Your will
Not my own
Surrender all my wants to you
Keep the first thing first
To live Your truth
Walk Your ways
Set my eyes
Lord, I fix my face on you
All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first, oh
To keep the first thing first, oh
To keep the first thing first

All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first*

Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

*Lyrics to First Things First – Songwriters: Jake Hess, Jordan David Ward, Caleb Paul Ward, Grant Timothy Bias

YouTube Video – Consumed by Fire – “First Things First” – (Acoustic + Story Behind)

Photo Credit: YouTube, J. C. Ryle, John Mark Comer

Let’s keep worshiping, y’all!

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 – One Day – Lynda Randle

Enoch walked with God; then he was not there because God took him.Genesis 5:24

By faith Enoch was taken away, and so he did not experience death. He was not to be found because God took him away. For before he was taken away, he was approved as one who pleased God.Hebrews 11:5

“His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’” – Matthew 25:23

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”2 Timothy 4:7

A dear friend of mine died last week. Nabila Massoud. I knew her by her family nickname FonFon. She was Egyptian, a widow and mom of two daughters, a physician, a beloved sister, a grandmother, and a beautiful friend. Most importantly, she was a faithful, devoted follower of Christ. From a very early age.

I can’t believe she is gone. I will never forget her. One day, because of Jesus, I will see her again.

We have known each other since 1995, when our family moved to Egypt and moved into her family’s building in Nasr City. She taught me so much about how to live well in a city that would become home to us. How to speak Arabic, how to understand and honor Egyptian people and their culture, how to do family life and hospitality, how to navigate around Cairo, how to pray and worship in another language, and how to trust God’s promises in hard days.

FonFon was a rock for me. I loved (love) her so much. She knew my mom and dad, and Dave’s as well. I also knew hers and spent time with her extended family. We celebrated our children’s birthdays and successes. We were family. Hers and ours.

This has been a really tough year for FonFon. Her daughter Dina (in image below on right) became very ill and would finally die. She, like her mom, had a beautiful way about her and a deep faith. FonFon was actually a patient in the same hospital as Dina in those days for she also had become ill. Three months after Dina died, FonFon would die.

What a Homecoming that must have been for her. To be with her Lord, with family who had gone before, and with her precious Dina.

[Sarah, FonFon (Nabila), and Dina – Beautiful mom and daughters]

Young Sarah, FonFon’s other daughter, would be there for both her sister and then her mom in those days of passing. Thanks to livestreaming, we were able to hear Sarah speak in tribute to both her sister and then her mom, with God’s strength to carry her through all the emotion. I was so proud of her.

My life has been so impacted by this family and especially this dear friend. Only one year older than me.

Enoch (in verses above) was spared dying. He walked with God through his life and then God just took him Home. Although FonFon had to endure through an illness that never abated, she went through it as she had passed through her whole life…with her Savior. Well done, Dear One! Welcome Home.

[Below is an excerpt from FonFon’s obituary.]

Nabila Massoud, or Fonfon as most people know her, was truly one of a kind. One of the most amazing people you could have ever met. She was always leading by example, putting others first, extending help to those in need no matter how big the sacrifice, and she had one of the most wonderful smiles ALL the time, in the toughest of times.

Fonfon, looking back at your life, the short years you spent with us on earth, makes us know that no one has an excuse to lead a miserable life or lose their faith no matter what hardships they face. And the reason is simple: you did it.

You endured the hardest of circumstances all through your life, and you always came out stronger, with more faith and with a big smile on your face. Your life and love for the Lord will always be an example and source of inspiration to many.

We love you and will always miss you, until we meet again!

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4Obituary of Nabila FonFon Massoud

Worship with me to a great Gospel song – One Day. One line especially reminds me of FonFon: “I wanna get so close to Him that is’ no big change, on that day that Jesus calls my name.”

Some days drag. Some days fly
Some days I think of the day I’ll die
Some days fill me and some days drain
And one day Jesus will call my name

One day Jesus will call my name
As days go by, I hope I don’t stay the same.
I wanna get so close to Him that it’s no big change,
On that day that Jesus calls my name

Most days I pray but some days I curse.
It’s that number of days I put myself first.
But it’s not what I do, the cross made that plain.
And one day Jesus will call my name

One day Jesus will call my name
As days go by, I hope I don’t stay the same.
I wanna get so close to Him that it’s no big change,
On that day that Jesus calls my name

One day Jesus will call my name
As days go by, I hope I don’t stay the same.
I wanna get so close to Him that it’s no big change,
On that day that Jesus calls my name

One day Jesus will call my name
As days go by, I hope I don’t stay the same.
I wanna get so close to Him that it’s no big change,
On that day that Jesus calls my name

One day Jesus will call my name
As days go by, I hope I don’t stay the same.
I wanna get so close to Him that it’s no big change,
On that day that Jesus calls my name

On that day that Jesus calls my name
On that day that Jesus calls my name*

*Lyrics to “One Day” – Songwriter: Phill McHugh

What to Do to Hear “Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant” – Clarence L. Haynes, Jr.

https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/christ-and-cancer

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/can-cancer-be-gods-servant

https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-cancer.html

https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-24-god-able-ephesians-320-21

Monday Morning Moment – Turning of One’s Attention

MomMom praying.

This week we have a special guest in our home. Dave’s mom. I don’t know about your relationship with your mother-in-law. Hopefully it is a good one. If not, I’m genuinely sorry. If there is any chance at all, don’t miss her…you never know what she would bring to your life if invited (back) in.

My mom-in-law prays. Her life has been one of serving others. Now, she is somewhat slowed down, but her devotion to God and others is still very much alive. Some might say hers is a small life…as my own mom’s appeared to be…to outsiders. This is not so for either of them. Where they lacked ambition to be known or powerful, there was/is no lack of love and wisdom. On the things that matter most.

When she comes to visit, we scramble to find the tv programming that she’s used to…encouraging to her. It’s nothing we watch really when she isn’t here, but when she is here, we catch some of the great music, teaching and reporting she listens to regularly.

Here’s an example. Tonight she was watching Kirk Cameron‘s Takeaways. He had two entertainers on his interview docket for this show. Mark Lowery and Zach Williams. I joined her for the Zach Williams’ interview. I’ve written about his music a couple of times. Gritty lyrics, great deep voice. He knows how to connect with his audiences – whether an arena of church folks or a prison cafeteria. He has stories to tell that touch people – a life going one direction with success as a musician, including drugs, fast living, and a marriage unraveling. Then his life turned quite a different direction.

The Takeaways interview isn’t linked yet, but below are two videos of Zach’s story.

We don’t have to keep going down a road leading nowhere good. I have that in my own life story. It’s for another day, but I’m thankful for my sweet mother-in-law who points us to life-giving attention-getters.

Prayer, focus on truth, and sacrificial love are three great gifts she gives us, whether sitting in our family room, or operating out of her own home.

Who or what helps you to shake off the doldrums and points you to a life of greater purpose and joy? Tonight my attention is captured by a a musician’s experience of a God who was never far from him. When Zach Williams was shaken in his tracks and turned his attention…God was there.

Thankful for a praying mom, mom-in-law, and grandmothers who remind us of a way to live that gives hope, joy, and real confidence. Enjoy some of Zach’s music below…and one piece by Brandon Lake about a praying grandma.

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