Category Archives: Fear

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

Monday Morning Moment – Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Photo Credit: Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Pinterest

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”Lamentations 3:22-23

“Let me hear in the morning of Your steadfast love, for in You I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8

“He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”Psalm 91:4

Holy Week of 2024 is finished. How glorious the annual recounting of what happened in those days for our sakes. Jesus faithfully lived each of those momentous days – holy living, sacrificially loving, dying with Eternity in view.

So here we are on Monday – ordinary start to another week. Or is it ordinary? No. For some, it is a crawling out of bed with every bit of will we can muster, facing a hard, an unknown, a breath-taking challenge.

The phrase “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” comes from a treasured hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” written by Thomas Chisholm. I was reminded of this in a Caring Bridge journal entry from a dear friend whose 6 y/o is in the throes of chemotherapy. She wrote this:

“Our God provides us with strength for today, and because He lives and has Risen…as we [celebrated] on Easter, we can also have and expect “bright hope for tomorrow.” May we be faithful and believe this! May we fear not and focus more on living life for eternity and not just the circumstances that occupy our present!” – [Niccole, not linking journal entry for the family’s privacy]

The History of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” – Eric Wyse

So this is for you, Dear Ones. That precious one confronting a shocking cancer diagnosis, and a young mom with a newborn and her own mom struggling with diminishing health leaning on this young mom, and a husband and father dealing with a fractured family, and…you can fill in the blank (God knows).

If you could use a deeper reminder of this old hymn and the Scripture-drenched truths of its message, here are the lyrics and a video you can sing them with. For this day, meditate on God’s faithfulness, not just for the nations and generations, but for you, Dear One.

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
 “Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
  Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
    “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Lyrics written by Thomas Obediah Chisholm – shared from
Hymnal.net

“Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” is ours…in Him.

Worship Wednesday – the Answer for the Sullen and Inconsolable – Great Is Thy Faithfulness – Deb Mills

Worship Wednesday – No Shadow of Turning – Great Is Thy Faithfulness – Austin Stone Worship – Deb Mills

Worship Wednesday – Gratitude Flattens Fear – Great Is Thy Faithfulness – Deb Mills

Worship Wednesday – Safe – Victory Worship [Ft. Isa Fabregas]

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Soon a violent windstorm came up, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was being swamped. But Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him and said, “Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing?” Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea. “Silence!” He commanded. “Be still!” And the wind died down, and it was perfectly calm.Mark 4:37-39

We are all ships in a storm, with Jesus onboard. He is our safe harbor. Not a place but a person. Safe in Him.

I follow this young man Ian Simkins. He does these succinct devotionals that are incredibly powerful. The one below inspired me to write on this topic today.

“Apart from the Holy Spirit, the Christian life isn’t difficult. It’s impossible…

We are sailboats. God is the wind. Even tattered sails do pretty well in a windstorm.

Take heart. Raise your sail.

How do we raise our sail?

Prayer. Scripture. Community. Silence. Stillness. Rest. Service. Sacrifice. Surrender.

Keep raising your sail, Friend.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” – John 3:8

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – John A. Shedd

“One cannot discover new lands unless they have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andrew Gide

A pastor at The Bridge Church in Nashville, Tennessee, Ian tells the story of an Indian couple whose home he visited while on a summer in India. They were poor, but in wisdom, very rich. The wife said to him, “We pray for you Christians in America. We can’t imagine trying to be with someone like Jesus in a place as distracting as America.”

A Kenyan pastor, after a violent attack, on a university campus a few years ago, left 150 people dead, responded:

“This attack has strengthened our conviction and resolve that the safest and securest place to be is at the center of God’s will. As it has been said, “Peace is not the absence of trouble but the assurance that God is with us no matter what.”

Where Can We Be Safe? – Heidi Carlson

We have this temptation to strive for safety. For ourselves and our families. What does it even look like to be “safe”? To build a perimeter between us and anything that might present a threat. What are we teaching our children and grandchildren? That we have to protect ourselves? From what?

With Christ within, no matter what happens, no matter the hardship or worry, we have a profound safe harbor in Him.

Just yesterday, I discovered that Tyler Staton, a young brother and spiritual father of mine, is in treatment for recurrent cancer. He is lead pastor for Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon and the author of the transformative book Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools.

In a video recently, Tyler gave a health update on how he is with treatment and in his walk with God through this cancer recurrence. He commented on how God is a master story-teller and is writing our stories. He calls us to “say yes to the story He’s writing” and step into/walk in that story. Tyler reported on how he was praying both Psalm 23 and Psalm 21. Psalm 23 reminds Tyler of “green pasture” and “still water” days and also days “in the shadow of death” – they are all part of our lives. Tyler expressed his desire “for God’s presence more than His power”. He also is praying Psalm 21 (“maybe hedging (his) bets with God”) which is a cry for God to lengthen his days – to grow old with his wife Kirsten and to see his children’s children.

From the time I first read Tyler’s book and returned to it many times since, I’m not at all surprised at how he has faced this cancer.

Does Tyler feel safe? I’m not even sure that is even the point for him. He wants to receive whatever God has for him, and if cancer is a part of that, then he receives it. Will he battle it? Absolutely. However you do not hear him recoil from God or question the His goodness in this. It is just part of the story of Tyler’s life.

Rather than safety as we might count it and go after it in this crazy world…let’s reconsider and deepen our understanding of how safe we are in Christ Jesus’ keeping.

Worship with me with Victory Worship‘s anthem “Safe”.

[Verse 1]
Under Your grace, Your mercy amazes me
Under Your wings, Your shadow covers me
Your promise of love, where my heart is safely undone

[Verse 2]
Speak to me, Lord, Your servant is listening
Over the noise, I hear You whispering
My hope has come and my heart is safely undone

[Chorus]
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
Forever safe

[Verse 2]
Speak to me, Lord, Your servant is listening
Over the noise, I hear You whispering
My hope has come and my heart is safely undone, oh-oh

[Chorus]
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name

[Post-Chorus]
Forever safe, forever safe
Forever safe, forever safe

[Bridge]
You are never far away
Always reaching out to save
My weakness covered by Your strength
And I am found forever safe
You are never far away
Always reaching out to save
My weakness covered by Your strength
And I am found forever safe

[Chorus]
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
Forever safe
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
Forever safe*

*Lyrics to “Safe” – Songwriters: Lee Simon Brown, Moira Dela Torre, Juan Winans & Justin Gray

On Feeling Secure in God – John Piper

How Should Christians View Safety? – Brooks Buser

[The video below is a scene from The Chosen. It is based on the account of Jesus walking on rough waters and Peter coming out of the boat to Him. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was safe. This passage, like the one in Mark above, speaks to our safety in the midst of a storm as long as He holds us. Lots more to this story…but the scene beautifully demonstrates it.]

Photo Credit: Julian of Norwich, Cedarfield Pinnacle Living Readings and Reflections for Lent 2019

Monday Morning Moment – On the Journey of Not Giving Up

Photo Credit: Elbert Hubbard, Success.com

[Before jumping into this, let’s take a moment to give space for those who tried for a long, long time…and then felt there was no recourse but to give up. I have given up, too, in some situations, with some relationships…either because I lost hope, or heart, or strength, or opportunity, or time. We all have such stories. Today, let’s pause and consider the large and life-affirming possibility of just NOT giving up.]

Have you said any of these things recently? “I quit!” “I’m tired of trying.” “I give up.” “It’s not fair.” “It’s not worth it.” “Why do I have to do everything?” “It won’t last.” “There’s no use.” “I’m just not good at it.” “What difference does it make?”

Words matter. They can move us toward positive outcomes or negative ones. The negative affirmations above, spoken or just thought, sound true. Some may even be factual. They move us to action. The problem is when we are moved to act in ways that make things worse instead of better.

Negative Affirmations: Why You Should Avoid Them – Sanju Pradeepa

13 Reasons Why You Give Up So Easily (+ How Not To) – Natasha MacFarlane

Whether it is your job, a lifestyle change, or relationship…we choose whether to be proactive or reactive. Whether we give up or keep at it. Bit by bit. Day by day.

All of life is a journey. We move toward one another or away. Our temptation is to self-protect…or protect someone we love thinking it requires pulling away from someone else. We can give up without even realizing it. Just in the disappointment…the distancing. We pull away from possible solutions. They are just too hard. Or are they?

When we get to the point of giving up, it’s not just giving up on that person, but giving up on ourselves in relationship to that person. Maybe even giving up on God to help us repair the rupture, thus opening one between us and Him.

You may think I am philosophizing or making this too simple. Believe me, I totally get how complicated “not giving up” can be. And painful. And even isolating. However, giving up is more isolating…and potentially more painful. We can bury the pain, cover it over, but it’s still there.

Photo Credit: Ullie Kaye Poetry, Facebook

Now, we may not be able to restore the relationship…or heal a family wounded by rupture…but when we quit on them, the door to repair, from our side, closes.

Photo Credit: Danielle Bernock, Possibility Change, Instagram

The day will come, I am hoping and believing, with God’s help, that we will see good come through this hard place. For me, I am NOT giving up.

Stories of feeling the need or desire to quit abound. It may be your story as well. There is no blame here. No shaming whatsoever. It’s what we do with our stories that matters.

Attorney, writer, coach Marelisa Fabrega offers 8 strategies for not quitting. Her commentary is thought-provoking so don’t miss reading the article. I’m listing her strategies and adding my own quick thoughts.

  1. Adopt an “I Won’t Quit” Mindset. Make that decision ahead of the situation. When Dave and I began talking about marriage together, we both stated pretty emphatically that, for us, divorce would be off the table. I grew up in a blended family and divorce impacted all my brothers’ adult lives. With Dave, it was extended family who experienced the pain of divorce, and his family felt that pain. Marriage has had its hard seasons for Dave and me, but we fought through together. [Not everyone gets that opportunity as the other spouse can ditch the marriage without your input. I get how painful that is.] Whether in marriage, friendships, work, or physical/mental health, an “I won’t quit” mindset gives you fortification in hard situations.
  2. Watch Someone Else Persevere. It is a beautiful and poignant thing to watch when loved ones refuse to quit. I’m not saying to be a doormat or to continue to take terrible abuse. What I’m talking about is when people keep pressing forward in tough work or relationships when everything in their being and all those around are screaming, “Quit!” Two women come to mind here. One friend went though a struggle early in her marriage when her husband had an affair. All our friends (but me) advised her to divorce him and make him suffer for what he did to her. I asked her, “Do you still love him? Because if you do, and you could imagine being willing to take him back…wait.” She did love him and she decided to wait. He came back, wholeheartedly repentant. They went on to have a beautiful marriage, children, and now grandchildren. Another friend is in the furnace of a difficult relationship right now. I am watching her persevere. She has strong faith in God and a few deep friendships who are cheering her on. I believe she/they will make it.
  3. Call Someone. This is huge! I’m thinking have more than one person you can trust to be with you (and for you) in this arena when quitting feels like all you want to do. If you’ve already decided up-front that you want to not give up, these friends and family can stand with you when the battle has exhausted you. They are for you. Hopefully they are also for your spouse and family member. It’s better to have folks who are fighting for you AND for your relationship. Not out of some scruple or moralistic platform, but because it’s your life and your battle. It’s what you want. [That may change at some point down the road, and if it does, these same people who love you will still be there.]
  4. Go Back to Your “Why”. It’s extremely important to have a why for not giving up. A list of why’s, even better. I have loved ones very close to me who, if treated badly or served poorly, will determine not to trust an individual or business anymore. They just won’t go back. This is a much smaller situation than a deteriorating relationship. However, I’ve never understood the why and, after reading Fabrega’s piece, I plan to ask. These same people do not quit on family relationships, for which I’m grateful. So…we need to go back to our “why’s” of staying in relationship, or in a job for that matter.
  5. Find a Different “How”. If a difficult boss is blocking the way for you to succeed at a job you once loved, figure out a respectful work-around. If the approach you have always used for managing conflict in your marriage isn’t working, think of a different way. If you continue to struggle with managing a healthy lifestyle or avoiding cycles of anxiety/depression, seek help (counseling, coaching/mentoring, medical advice, support groups). Find another way forward. Outlast the person or problem.
  6. Succeed at Something Else. If you have been immersed in a painful situation, determining not to quit, you may just need a respite. A brief reprieve. A focus elsewhere for a few hours or days will be refreshing. Not seeing success in an area important to us colors how we feel about our self globally. Even when success isn’t visible to us, it may be coming, so we don’t give up. For that second wind, we might be refreshed by setting our sights on areas where we are seeing success (work, health, hobbies). Preferably, we do both – staying in the battle and interspersing life-giving activities.
  7. Use Failure as a Stepping Stone. No retaliation. No victim mentality. You have already made the decision of what kind of character you want in life. Keep growing. Don’t let failure define you. It actually may not even be your failure at all. So, as much as you can yourself, live the life and be the person you want to be. It is a journey after all.
  8. Keep Chipping Away. Like Fabrega has already said so well…keep going. Keep doing what you know is right. This is part of your story. Whatever happened in the relationship or work situation, you are making a future for yourself, and maybe for your children or family. Again, who you are is much more than what you’ve come through. – How to Not Give Up – 8 Strategies For Not Quitting – Marelisa Fabrega
Photo Credit: Danielle Bernock, Instagram

I’d like to add a 9th strategy:

9. Look for Beauty. It is there. Just outside. Or just there within reach. Just in all the reasons you are you.

I’ve read all of psychiatrist Curt Thompson‘s books and he has inspired me to look for the beauty in front of us even in situations where we feel like giving up. He inspired Bill Haley to write an essay on beauty. Here is an excerpt:

“Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman from Holland, wrote one of the most truly amazing things I’ve ever read.  The context of her words makes all the difference.  She wrote them while imprisoned at Westerbork transit camp waiting to be taken to Auschwitz, where she died in 1943 at age 29.  Her diaries and letters were compiled into An Interrupted Life.

A very hard day.  But I keep finding myself in prayer.  And that is something I shall always be able to do, even in the smallest space: pray.  And I know for certain that there will be a continuity between the life I have led and the life about to begin…

I often walk with a spring in my step along the barbed wire and then time and again it soars straight from my heart — I can’t help it, that’s just the way it is, like some elementary force — the feeling that life is glorious and magnificent, and that one day we shall be building a whole new world.  Against every new outrage and every fresh horror we shall put up one more piece of love and goodness, drawing strength from within ourselves.  We may suffer, but we must not succumb…

Once you have begun to walk with God, you need only keep walking with Him and all of life becomes one long stroll.” – Bill Haley, “Why Beauty Matters Right Now”

What kind of people do we choose to be? With all my heart, I want to be one who is not giving up. My family (immediate and extended) knows I am for them. Also, hopefully other folks as well – friends and neighbors. I’m not going anywhere. This is not just a commitment. This is an issue of character that goes way beyond any circle I’m a part of. It’s the kind of person I want to be. It’s not a small thing. I get it. Probably a God-sized endeavor. God is for all of us. He does not give up. He is not going anywhere. He is in the room…and He is staying.

You may say…well, you haven’t reached your breaking point, and you are right, of course. We can’t know what it will take for us to get to the place that we want to quit. Sometimes, we have no other option but to let go, because the other person is, or appears to be, already gone. My hope and resolve is to hold out as long as possible. Who knows what difference that could make? I’m holding onto that.

Photo Credit: Dale Carnegie, Success.com

117 Never Give Up Quotes (+ My 5 Favorite Tips to Help You Keep Going) – Henrik Edberg

Photo Credit: QuoteFancy, Chester Nimitz

Worship Wednesday – Centering Prayer – The Potter’s Gate

“I want to be where my feet are.”

This curious little lyric comes from the album Sanctuary Songs. The song is Centering Prayer featuring Andrew Peterson & Leslie Jordan, a collaboration of The Potter’s Gate.

Centering Prayer calls us away from all our distractions, our plans, our worries, our over-thinking, our busyness…and calls us into a time of rest and focus on God whose presence we are never without.

Last week, I was checking out of our local free clinic with my Afghan grandmother friend. It’s always a stretching experience with trying to understand (even with an interpreter) what her health complaints are. Finally, we were finished with the doctor. As I stepped up to the counter to receive the forms for her bloodwork, specialist referral, and next appointment, I saw the sign (in the image above).

God is always with us. Period. Full-stop. That verse is one that brings to rest everything whirring around in our minds, remembering that God’s got this. Being present with a ever-present God transforms everything.

Another passage that reminds us to be still and stop fighting battles He means to fight Himself…for us…is Psalm 46. Below is the entire psalm. It is so worthy your stopping and reading along (or hear it read for you).

46 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear
,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

“Be still and know that I AM God.”Psalm 46

Psalm 46 is a glorious and victorious psalm to encourage and embolden a people beleaguered by hardship (we don’t have details but given the context it was war, or some sort of calamity or terror). The psalmist was reminding the people that God is with them (with us) and will pierce through the noise of battle, with His powerful and persevering presence. He is here today just as much as He was with His people in the psalmist’s day.

Our part, like theirs, is to turn our ears, and our hearts, our bodies to Him.

Psalm 46 begins, not with a lament or cry for help, but an anthem of praise. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear”. Then he goes on to talk about super fearful things…yet from a place of awe and certainty. Even as the psalmist speaks with great confidence about God’s presence and provision in times of catastrophe, the Lord Himself enters the psalm with the command “Be still!”

Not just “Be quiet” but “Be still”. Stop!

Stop. Come away (from the battle). Quieten yourself. Cease striving.

God calls both His people and our enemies to essentially “put down your weapons!”

Especially to His own people, He urges them (and us today) to ‘snap out of it,’ ‘wake up,’ ‘stop fearing’—acknowledge who God is—be in awe! For us to take His “Be still” and treat it as “be quiet” is not incorrect, it’s just not enough to describe what God is truly saying.

God is about His business in fighting for us and those we love. Fighting also those who would see to do us harm. We don’t know how it will go in the moments ahead of us (whether this battle will “seem” lost or won to us) but we do know His promises that hold us fast, even in battle, for now and forever.

It’s for us to “be where our feet are”. To quieten our hearts and slow our steps. To put down the phone. To find His beauty to focus our eyes on. To “breathe the life around me” and “listen as my heart beats. Right. On. Time.”

What Does “Be Still and Know That I Am God” Really Mean? – Liz Auld

Psalm 46 – Enduring Word Bible Commentary

Centering prayer prompts us to lay down our burden and determine to stop worrying. Not just as a mindfulness exercise but with the God who loves us in full view. To see the anxiety for what it is – a tool used against us to take our peace away. To recognize that the depression we experience can be lightened if we open ourselves to Him and to His people praying with and for us. To remember that all the things that distract us dull our senses to the most real relationship we have in this life and the next.

Breaking the Stigma of Mental Illness – One Song at a Time – Kathy Powell

“Centering Prayer,” written by Brian Eichelberger, Nicholas Chambers and Kate Bluett — and featuring Andrew Peterson and Leslie Jordan — invites the listener to a sense of groundedness with its calm melody. The lyrics give language to a clinically recommended practice of grounding that invites practitioners to reconnect with themselves in the present. The song, with lyrics asking for God’s help to “be where my feet are,” is itself a tool for calming anxieties and opening a more accessible prayer experience.Kathy Powell

Photo Credit: Corrie Ten Boom Quotes – Facebook

Worship with me…by just listening to this song, preparing to pray, or singing it with lyrics below:

I wanna be where my feet are

I wanna breathe the life around me

I wanna listen as my heart beats, right on time

I wanna be where my feet are

I chase my worries

I flee my sorrows

But what You give me

Is now

So take my burdens

And my tomorrows

I wanna be where my feet are, mmm, mmm

Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm

I wanna be where my feet are

I wanna breathe the life around me

I wanna listen as my heart beats, right on time

I wanna be where my feet are

I run to capture

The next horizon

But what You give me

Is here

I get no farther

And still I find You

I wanna be where my feet are

I wanna be where my feet are (on repeat)

The ground below me

Is how you Hold me

I wanna be where my feet are

The ground below me

Is how You hold me

I wanna be where my feet are

The ground below me

Is how You hold me

I wanna be where my feet are (on repeat)*

*Lyrics to Centering Prayer – Songwriters: Brian Eichelberger, Nicholas Chambers and Kate Bluett

The Porter’s Gate Hopes to Bridge Gap Between Mental Health and Faith With New Album – Kathryn Post

A Saturday Too Quiet…Then Clarity: Room For God…Be Still My Soul – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Corrie Ten Boom Quotes, Facebook

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

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 – Broken Things [Beautifully Restored]- Matthew West

Photo Credit: Heartlight

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:4-10

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”1 Corinthians 1:27-29

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”Hebrews 12:2-3

We hear the word broken almost daily – in descriptions of our world, a government, a system. Also on a more personal note: a marriage, a family, a friend. Maybe we’ve even used the word to describe some part of our own selves. Broken doesn’t have to be forever. My parents grew up in the Great Depression’s years of deep poverty. You didn’t throw anything away. Broken could always be fixed. In fact, even when not restored, sometimes broken things could still be used…well enough.

I heard this song, for the first time, today. Broken Things by Matthew West. It got me thinking about my own brokenness. Some things are obvious – weaknesses, timidities, and flaws of all sorts. Other things in my life I’ve probably done a good job of concealing, or deceiving myself that I have.

It doesn’t really matter in the end. What matters is what we do with our brokenness. Those things in our lives we consider broken are not a problem for God. He is a master re-shaper of broken. He turns those parts of us into some beautiful and good and even glorifying to Himself.

Matthew West describes the message behind the song Broken Things:

“We all have brokenness in our lives. Whether it’s a broken dream, a broken relationship, or just a broken piece of ourselves that we carry around. But God uses broken things. That’s what this song is about. It’s a reminder that God doesn’t look for perfection, He looks for a heart that’s willing to be used.

Photo Credit: Quote Addicts

Worship Wednesday – From Bitterness to Brokenness – Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Thomas Watson

Reflecting on brokenness takes me back to the account of Job’s life and losses. God allowed His faithful servant Job to experience such awful pain and sorrow that few (if any) of us will ever know. So devastated was Job, he was left only with a grief-weary wife and a few friends who taunted more than comforted him. Yet, Job did not turn from God. He cried out to God in his deep confusion, angry at times, grieving, complaining, trying to sort out the reasoning that brought him to the darkness of his life. God did not remove Himself from Job, nor did Job remove himself from God. In fact, God rebuked Job’s friends and told them to seek Job’s prayers for themselves to prevent God’s judgment on them. He also blessed and restored Job. [Job 42]

Some of our brokenness we can understand – consequences of our sin or that of others on us. Brokenness can also seemingly be without reason or justice. Job landed well in God alone. God was always his resting place, his sanctuary. Job knew the answers lay with a loving Father. He did not allow pride, pain, or shame keep him from the Lord. May we follow his example.

May we surrender the broken things of our lives into the hands of a God who won’t shame us for them but will restore us to be used of Him mightily here and to be kept for His kingdom forever.

Where else would we go?

Worship with me in the healing truth of Matthew’s West’s Broken Things:

If grace was a kingdom, I stopped at the gate
Thinking I don’t deserve to pass through after all the mistakes that I’ve made
Oh, but I heard a whisper as Heaven bent down
Said, “Child, don’t you know that the first will be last and the last get a crown”

[Chrous]
Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours

[Verse 2]
The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use
Oh, it’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
All the misfit heroes You chose, tell me there’s hope for sinners like me

[Chrous]
Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours
I’m all Yours

[Outro]
Grace is a kingdom with gates open wide
There’s a seat at the table just waiting for you
So, come on inside
*

*Lyrics to Broken Things – Songwriters: Matthew West, A.J. Pruis, Jason Houser

What Does the Bible Say About Brokenness? – Got Questions

God Uses Broken People – 4 Reasons God Uses the Weak to Do Amazing Things – Diane Shirlaw-Ferreira

Scorning Its Shame – Adam Moran

Scorning the Shame – The Disciple-Making Parent

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Lanny Henninger

Worship Wednesday – These Days – Jeremy Camp

Photo Credit: Faith Chapel

“Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”Esther 4:14

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”Jeremiah 29:11-13

For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good purpose. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world.Philippians 2:13-15

Singer/songwriter Jeremy Camp‘s song These Days first came to my awareness last week when it was playing on our Christian radio station (WPER). I searched for it on YouTube after stopping the car, and it wasn’t even posted yet. Nor could you find the lyrics anywhere. It was that new. Finally, it’s now posted. For such a time as this. The lyrics, simple but profound, stopped me in my tracks. He sings of us being born “in just the right place, at just the right time”. He encourages the listener not to be afraid because “maybe we were made for these days”.

When you think about it, of course, we were made for these days!

It’s how God does things. In the US, 2024 is an election year. No matter what side people politically align, everyone is squaring their shoulders in some sort of aggressive or protective maneuver. We measure the events of our world and the people attached to those events and we make the judgment: “You’re either for us or against us.” We as Christians may enlarge that to “for God, or against God”.

There is much more at work here…but much of it lies under the surface, or maybe even in the heavenlies.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

What is going on in our world today changes absolutely nothing about God’s promises, His claims, and His calling in our lives. He means for us to trust Him and to walk by faith in Him.

I’m often drawn to Paul’s passage to the persecuted church in Rome (Romans 5:1-5):

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Whatever news reports come to our attention, whatever doomsday commentary seems true, whatever terror feels too close by, we as followers of Christ are to respond in faith. Not in ourselves, or our country, but in Christ alone. We reach out in compassion to those in need, we pray for our country and others, we encourage one another with what is true, and we walk in faith, daily obedient to His Word, through the power of the Holy Spirit. To God be the glory!

Jeremy Camp gives the story behind his song: “I remember writing this and just thinking about what’s going on in our society — a lot of the chaos that’s going on and a lot of the fear. A lot of people are feeling like, ‘Why am I here? What’s my purpose? Why was I born at this time?’ [Like] Esther, back in the Old Testament, where it says she was born at ‘such a time as this’ to stand up for her people, God has given us a purpose and a reason for being here. I really do want to encourage you God has you here for a reason. He doesn’t make mistakes. He has a plan and a purpose for you. You were born for such a time as this to truly be a light in a dark world.”for K-Love Radio with Lindsay Williams

Worship with me.

These days my heart’s always on the run

These days the world’s spinning out of control

Ooh-ohh

These days are fast and they’re furious

Feels like the worst is ahead of us

Ooh-ohh

Ooh-ohh

Sometimes it’s hard to feel at home, but

I believe that you and I

Are in the right place, at the right time

God called us by name

And He doesn’t make mistakes

I know we were born to shine bright

In a dark world that needed some light

Don’t have to be afraid

Maybe we were made for these days

Maybe we were made for these days

What if the beauty isn’t crushed?

It just needs the hope that’s inside of us

Ooh-ohh

Ooh-ohh

What if it’s more than a destiny?

What if we’re part of a masterpiece?

Ooh-ohh

Ooh-ohh

Until our father brings us home

I believe that you and I

Are in the right place, at the right time

God called us by name

And He doesn’t make mistakes

I know we were born to shine bright

In a dark world that needed some light

Don’t have to be afraid

Maybe we were made for these days

Maybe we were made for these days

To stand when it gets hard

To love with open arms

It’s something to embrace

Maybe we were made for these days

I believe that you and I

Are in the right place, at the right time

God called us by name

And He doesn’t make mistakes

I know we were born to shine bright

In a dark world that needed some light

Don’t have to be afraid

Maybe we were made for these days

Maybe we were made for these days.*

Postscript: Even in the hard, God gives us reason to rejoice and live in a deep peace and steady hope. In YouTube’s recommendation column (beside Camp’s song above), I discovered Lauren Daigle‘s song “These Are the Days”. Very different to Jeremy Camp’s song, but…still thought-provoking and riveting. In Lauren’s story about the song, she wrote the lyric in the excitement post-COVID of returning to the stage, but greater still, Christ’s return being on the horizon. In her song of jubilation, this lyric stands out: “If it’s not good, then it’s not over!”. It reminded me of Hastings’ lyric in last week’s Worship Wednesday: “Then if You’re not done workin’, God, I’m not done waiting.”

We, as believers, have more reason than ever, in hard and confusing times, to wait on the Lord. To look, in readiness, to our Deliverer and our Conqueror…to the exquisite Lover of our souls. Hallelujah!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all. – from David’s Psalm 103

*Lyrics to “These Days” – Songwriter: Jeremy Camp

Photo Credit: Heartlight

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