Category Archives: Wednesday Worship

Worship Wednesday – Unstoppable – David Crowder

Photo Credit: Heartlight

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

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

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

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


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

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

Monday Morning Moment – Henri Nouwen on Leadership – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Heartlight

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

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

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

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

Worship with me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I got You
When I got You

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

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

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

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

When I got You
When I got You

*Lyrics to Unstoppable

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

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

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

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

Live No Lies Podcast with John Mark Comer

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Worship Wednesday – Praise You Anywhere – Brandon Lake

Photo Credit: GodTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Heartlight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Heartlight

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

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

Worship with these brothers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Is Praising God Important?

12 Reasons God Is Worthy of Worship – Karen Hoffman

Photo Credit: Ullie Kaye Poetry, Facebook

Worship Wednesday – The Maker – Chris August

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Karen Walker, Facebook

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

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

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

Worship with me.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Bible App, Facebook

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

Private: The Maker-Creator

Story Behind the Song “The Maker”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rembrandt’s Prodigal – A Life Lesson – Stanton Lanier

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

Worship Wednesday – Holy Forever – Chris Tomlin

Photo Credit: YouTube

Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:

“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”
Revelation 4:6-11

After this I looked and saw a multitude too large to count, from every nation and tribe and people and tongue, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. And they fell face down before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”Revelation 7:9-12

It wasn’t my time. A few days ago, I turned into a neighborhood street near my house. On a fast errand, I returned on the same street within a couple of minutes max. There across the street was this huge fallen tree! It was a moment for me to think about the reality that a few seconds later entering that street or earlier returning, and my car could have been under that tree.

You can imagine, it gave pause. Thinking of all the times we are slowed down by red lights or long store lines or the distracted driver slowing us down. I believe in angels. How God protects us through these heavenly messengers who don’t make themselves known to us, but who may very well sometimes protect us from all sorts of calamity. I say sometimes, because we all know (and may even be experiencing right now) hard situations that God did not prevent. Yet, He knows and gives grace and works all things out for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

In the midst of every day life…both magnificent and mundane…God reminds us of Himself and the grandness of this life (and the next, of course). We forget…or we don’t notice…our heads too often down, looking at screens, rather than up and around at the beauty of God and those He places in our lives.

Sunday, our worship team closed out the service at Movement Church with the song Holy Forever. It is a familiar song but hit me different that day. It was a tiny snapshot of what it will be around the throne of God in eternity. All of us, singing, agreeing on the majesty of holy God.

Video – Movement Church – Holy Forever – at 1 hr., 3 min. in – Hallelujah!

What does it mean that God is holy. Got Questions, an online ministry, answers that question beautifully. Here is an excerpt:

“The holiness of God refers to the unparalleled majesty of His incomparable being and His blameless, faultless, unblemished moral purity (Isaiah 6:1–5; Revelation 4:1–8). Unlike His created beings, God is eternal, preeminent, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He was, is, and will be before all things. He is ageless, tireless, and faultless. He is beyond full human comprehension. Indeed, our language lacks the superlatives necessary to justly describe Him. Drawn to Him for His unequaled goodness and majesty, the psalmist wrote, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1, ESV). Nothing or no one satisfies like God, for He is altogether lovely to behold. Earthly treasures will pass away, but the Lord is our great reward and inheritance (Joshua 13:33)…God is holy. In Him, there is not even the faintest trace of evil. He is impeccably pure, wholly without fault, and uncompromisingly just. God cannot lie. He cannot make wrong decisions. He is blameless, timeless, and sinless. To the lost the holiness of God is a dreadful matter, but to the redeemed the holiness of God is our greatest good.”

What Does It Mean that God Is a Holy God? What Is the Holiness of God? – Got Questions

Pastor, writer Scott Savage has written a beautiful review of the song Holy Forever. He references songwriter Chris Tomlin‘s story behind the song. Tomlin wanted to communicate 3 elements, in particular: God’s transcendence, the idea of “eternal worship”, and God’s faithfulness in the face of our failure.

Savage goes on to say:

“If you need a reminder of God’s transcendence in your life, I want to encourage to get into God’s creation. Stargaze, hike, or get out on the water. Put your phone away and get alone, or get with people who will help you connect with God, not distract you from God. 

Be quiet before God – really listen for His still, small voice. Read Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4. Listen to the song “Holy Forever” and meditate on the bigness and holiness of God. 

When you do, may you find your heart reset and your viewpoints recalibrated in light of the glory, majesty, and transcendence of God.” Scott Savage 

Faith Behind the Song: “Holy Forever” by Chris Tomlin – Scott Savage

One day, it will be my time…as it will be for all of us. What an amazing grace to stand before the One True God, in the righteousness of our Savior Jesus Christ, and be welcomed Home.

Worship with me.

A thousand generations falling down in worship
To sing the song of ages to the Lamb
And all who’ve gone before us, and all who will believe
Will sing the song of ages to the Lamb

Your name is the highest
Your name is the greatest
Your name stands above them all
All thrones and dominions
All powers and positions
Your name stands above them all

And the angels cry, “Holy”
All creations cries, “Holy”
You are lifted high, holy
Holy forever

If you’ve been forgiven, if you’ve been redeemed
Sing the song forever to the Lamb
If you walk in freedom, if you bear His name
Sing the song forever to the Lamb
We’ll sing the song forever and amen

And the angels cry, “Holy”
All creations cries, “Holy”
You are lifted high, holy
Holy forever
Hear Your people sing, “Holy”
To the King of kings, holy
You will always be holy
Holy forever

Your name is the highest
Your name is the greatest
Your name stands above them all
All thrones and dominion
All powers and positions
Your name stands above them all, Jesus
Your name is the highest
Your name is the greatest
Your name stands above them all
(Oh, stands above)
All thrones and dominions
All powers and positions
Your name stands above them all

And the angels cry, “Holy”
All creations cries, “Holy”
You are lifted high, holy
Holy forever (We cry, “Holy forever”)
Hear Your people sing, “Holy” (We will sing)
To the King of kings, (Holy) holy (Holy forever)
You will always be holy
Holy forever

You will always be holy
Holy forever*

*Lyrics to Holy Forever – Songwriters: Chris Tomlin, Brian Johnson, Jason Ingram, Jenn Johnson, and Phil Wickham

YouTube Video – Movement Church – Holy Forever – 1 hr. 3 minutes in.

The Meaning Behind the Song: Holy Forever by Chris Tomlin – Charlie Wall

Worship Wednesday – For Christ-Followers – It’s Surrender – Not Self-Improvement

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”Matthew 16:24

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:20

If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His footsteps. 1 Peter 2:20-21

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities and continue to grow in them, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever lacks these traits is nearsighted to the point of blindness, having forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, brothers, strive to make your calling and election sure. For if you practice these things you will never stumble.2 Peter 1:3-10

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.2 Corinthians 3:17-18

I’m an avid reader of non-fiction. Sometimes, oftentimes, that has included volumes of Christian self-help books. Self-improvement is very much the goal of New Year’s resolutions, and I am still in the thick of those made a few weeks back.

Then, last week, I read a chapter on improvement in Karen Swallow Prior‘s book, The Evangelical Imagination, and it has totally upended my whole understanding of improving my life – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Reading Prior’s book (and this chapter, at the moment) is a wake-up call on how we have taken on culture’s trappings, language, and ethics. Weaving them into our faith, as if they belonged. Such that we as Christians are merely improved humans, rather than the new creations God has made us.

Photo Credit: Highlight

The Evangelical Imagination: How Stories, Images & Metaphors Created a Culture in Crisis – Karen Swallow Prior

I realize my focus of late has been more self-improvement than sanctification. Why would we want to improve on the self, anyway, since Christ has told us to deny self? It’s not self that I want improved. It’s so much more than that. Sanctification is defined as being set apart. When we come to faith in Christ, we become His, set apart for Himself and for His service. Although we find in Scripture the command to work out our salvation, we must understand that we are not improving on what has already been done for us. Rather, we do what is needful to truly know Christ and to infuse every part of our being with His character. To what end? For His pleasure, for our good, and for the sake of those He places in our lives. For love’s sake.

This kind of work, discipline, habit formation is daily and full of God-shaped challenge. However, the goal is not to improve ourselves, but to become ever more His such that we manifest the very likeness of Christ in our relationships and circumstances. As believers, we aren’t just nice people…we are meant to be warriors on the ready for whatever confronts us or those around us, confident of His power at work in us.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

God calls us often to show up as peacemakers, too. To die to self, to refuse to think ill of others, to forgive (over and over at times), and to seek forgiveness when we’ve wronged someone.

Jesus prayed for us to be one with Him and with each other. To extend the fruit of the Spirit He means for the good of those around us. To confront our sin and to put down our idols. Self-improvement is by its nature self-focused…unless…

You Are Set Free from Self-Improvement – Lydia Brownback

Podcast: The False Messages Facing Women Today (Lydia Brownback)

Unless that working out we’re doing is to benefit others, even more than we are benefited. A self-abandonment. We have someone very close to us who has done a huge work in recent months to be as healthy as he can be. In all areas of his life. Some would call that a massive self-improvement effort, but I know him and I know his heart. He has taken a hard look at his life and made some decisions to stretch himself to love God and his family in deeper ways…rather than escaping into self-serving and escape when his daily work is done. Now could he fall into a lesser pursuit of self-improvement? Sure…we all can, but part of his effort is that sorting out of living the life of a new creation with access to the unfathomable grace, love, and power of God.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

I’m just at the start of figuring out this whole “dying to self and living to God” process. It’s so easy for me to choose comfort over sacrifice. To choose my preferences over His. How gracious the Lord is! He celebrates our small victories and does not condemn us when we falter. We are His, indwelt by His Spirit, with Christ Jesus interceding for us in the Heavenlies in this very moment.

This life is not a self-improvement journey for us as believers. It is a practicing the ways of Christ life. Immersing ourselves in His Word to know Him at a heart level, spending time with Him and others, believing Him to live His life through us, ruthlessly dealing with sin and deception in our lives, and then practicing (working out our salvation) His ways until they become our ways.

What joy! And freedom we discover in this Jesus life…a freedom and a hope that is only ours through Christ’s presence and power. Fleshing out His character in our frail lives, being made more and more like Him, as we work out our salvation, in truly knowing Him and being transformed into His likeness across our lifespan.

Let me close with the beautiful commentary below from Bibleref.com:

In the previous two verses (2 Peter 1:3-4), Peter summarized the enormous benefit we have received in knowing God through faith in Christ. We have been equipped to follow the example of Jesus’ glory and goodness. We’re not missing anything we need to lead the life He calls us to. More, through faith in Jesus, we have been granted the right to participate, right now, in God’s nature. We can partner with Christ in fulfilling God’s purpose on earth. We have been freed from the corruption of sin.

All of that sounds fantastic, but what does it mean for us today? Why does it seem that many Christians are so far away from participating in God’s nature, not living with Christ’s purpose, joy, and love? Why do some continue to live in the sin from whose corruption we’ve supposedly been freed?

This verse gives us a clue. God has given us all we need to live like Jesus, but now we must actually use those gifts. And that means work. Before we had received God’s gift of grace, we lacked both the ability and the desire to live in Jesus’ glory and goodness. Now that we have been empowered to do so, we must “make every effort” to add the following qualities [2 Peter 1:3-10] to, or “alongside,” our faith.

In other words, we must begin to live as if what we believe is really true.

By faith, we came to Christ. Now, with Christ’s power, we must work to add goodness to our faith, and to add knowledge to our goodness. The next two verses (vv. 6 & 7) will explore additional ideas about the chain of traits we as Christians should work to build into our lives.” Bibleref.com

#2. Add to Your Faith Goodness – (2 Peter 1:5-11) – 2 Peter & Jude Bible Studies – Ralph F. Wilson

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Practicing the Way website- John Mark Comer

Growth Is Not the Goal: Why We Need Habits of Grace – David Mathis, Desiring God

How Christian Is Self-Improvement – Marshall Segal, Desiring God

Sanctification – Bible Study Tools

The Most Important Cultural Book of the Year (Maybe Even Decade) – Review: ‘The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self’ by Carl Trueman – Andrew T. Walker

Worship Wednesday – Make You Known – Sherwood Baptist Church Worship Team

Photo Credit: Phil Ressler, Verse of the Week

For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus.2 Corinthians 4:5

How do we want to be remembered? Something one ponders as we get older, but better to live each day in a different sort of way. Not to be remembered, necessarily, but to be “known as” of “known for”.

Here is a brief story taken up in song of how one man is known. Michael Catt, previously a pastor from Oklahoma, came to Albany, Georgia, in 1989, as the new lead pastor for Sherwood Baptist Church. Albany, Georgia is a town deep in the Bible Belt of South Georgia, with dozens of churches from which to choose.

What Michael Catt accomplished (credit of which he gives all to the Lord) is phenomenal. He and this great church, empowered by God, take the Gospel seriously and personally.

“Michael served as pastor of Sherwood from 1989 through 2021, when he retired to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In his over 31 years at Sherwood, the church grew into a multi-generational congregation with members from more than 20 nations. Michael led the church to establish numerous Crisis Pregnancy Centers, launched a Biblical Counseling Center, built a 100-acre Legacy Sports Park, and repurposed an old Coca-Cola bottling plant into a ministry center for the underserved of Albany.” – Celebrating the Life & Legacy of Michael Catt

Some of you may have seen the excellent faith-centered films by The Kendrick Brothers. These film-makers and their films come out of a collaboration with Sherwood Pictures, another ministry of this church and, for a long season, Pastor Michael Catt.

It’s not surprising then, when Michael Catt passed the 30-year mark of his ministry at Sherwood Church, that a great celebration was planned. It included a surprise song written in tribute to him and his heart to ever know God more deeply and to make Him known widely.

“Make You Known”.

Shortly after that celebration, I came across the song on social media, following one of his daughters and the church. It is song that points to God and crescendos in such a beautiful way that it isn’t hard to imagine what Heaven will be like as we surround His throne in worship. Michael Catt, who retired the next year and died in 2023, is there already, having lived to make God known. That’s the legacy right there.

Worship God with me to this beautiful tribute of a song to God and His faithful one, Michael Catt.

When they think of me, will they think of You?

Will this life I live unveil Your truth?

When they speak of me will they speak Your name?

Will my legacy reveal Your fame?

With every breath that I will breathe, I live to make You known.

With everything inside of me, I choose to finish strong.

With all of my heart, with all of my soul, with all that I am, with all that I have and all I own

I live to make You known.

So I take this road, looking to the sun.

By Your grace alone, every battle’s won.

I will make the most of my given name. Every circumstance I will bring You praise.

With every breath that I will breathe, I live to make You known.

With everything inside of me, I’ll choose to finish strong.

With all of my heart, with all of my soul, with all that I am, with all that I have and all I own

I live to make You known.

I’ll make my boast, I’ll make my claim in Christ and Christ alone.

All glory, honor, power, and praise arises to Your throne.

I’ll make my boast, I’ll make my claim in Christ and Christ alone.

All glory, honor, power, and praise arises to Your throne.

I’ll make my boast, I’ll make my claim in Christ and Christ alone.

All glory, honor, power, and praise arises to Your throne.

With every breath that I will breathe, I’ll live to make You known.

With everything inside of me, I’ll choose to finish strong.

With all of my heart, with all of my soul, with all that I am, with all that I have and all I own

I’ll live to make You known.

With all of my heart, with all of my soul, with all that I am, with all that I have and all I own

I’ll live to make You known.

I’ll live to make You known. I’ll live to make You known. I’ll live to make You known.

I’ll live for You alone.

I’ll live to make You known. I’ll live to make You known. I’ll live to make You known.

I’ll live for You alone. I’ll live to make You known.*

*Lyrics transcribed from the YouTube video with Worship Leader & Songwriter Mark Willard & others.

Michael Catt – 1952-2023 – Obituary – beautiful story

Make You Known album – Sherwood Worship

https://www.facebook.com/SherwoodBaptistChurch/videos/2812192468823572/Make You Known video

k

Photo Credit: Facebook, Sherwood Baptist Church

Photo Credit: Pete Briscoe, YouTube

Worship Wednesday – Crown Him With Many Crowns – Looking to Easter and the Resurrected Christ

Photo Credit: Jean-Marie Pirot, also known as Arcabas, The Lent Project, Biola University

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power.Revelation 4:10-11

During the season of Lent, leading up to Good Friday and Easter (Resurrection Sunday), I am inspired by reading, listening to music, and studying the beauty with which God surrounds us (including the sacred arts). Biola University combines all three resources for worship in its Lent Project which we can access online. The Arcabas painting above is the capstone of the March 21, 2024 devotional. The painting title is “The Humbled and Exalted Christ”. Christ is shown with the crown of thorns set painfully on His head prior to His crucifixion. Then, upon His resurrection/ascension, the angels are shown crowning Him with the golden crown as King of Heaven.

Below you’ll find excerpts from this day’s devotional written by Dr. David Merrill, theology professor at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology.

“We see the reality that it is here in Christ’s humiliation, there is exaltation. Here slave and king, heaven and earth, God and man are brought together…The incarnation, suffering, and death, form the basis of his exaltation. What is also won of course, is our salvation and healing, for “with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). In gathering humanity and death into himself he defeats death and gives us new life…this truth must find a home in our own hearts. For what we exalt in our hearts becomes lord of our lives and what we deem as beautiful governs our loves and desires, and thus directs our lives.”Dr. David Merrill

Crown Him with Many Crowns – Rev. Colin Smith

Worship with me to this timeless hymn:

1 Crown him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon his throne.
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing
of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless king
through all eternity.

2 Crown him the Lord of life,
who triumphed o’er the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife
for those he came to save;
his glories now we sing
who died and rose on high,
who died eternal life to bring,
and lives that death may die.

3 Crown him the Lord of love;
behold his hands and side,
rich wounds, yet visible above,
in beauty glorified;
no angels in the sky
can fully bear that sight,
but downward bends their burning eye
at mysteries so bright.

4 Crown him the Lord of years,
the potentate of time,
creator of the rolling spheres,
ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail!
for thou hast died for me;
thy praise shall never, never fail
throughout eternity.*

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:68-69

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, as we look intently into Your face and attend to Your crucifixion, may You be exalted in our hearts. May our affections be captivated by Your beauty, and may we come to find that life is truly found in You alone. And where our loves have become captivated by the beauty of other lords, draw us back and lead us along the ancient path, the way of the cross. Amen. – Dr. David Merrill

*Lyrics to Crown Him with Many Crowns – Matthew Bridges (1851 – original lyrics, see below) and Godfrey Thring (1871, alterer of lyrics – shown above)

Casting of the Crowns – Commentary

[The lyrics below include all the verses, as written by Matthew Bridges (1851) – Anglican converted to Catholicism] and Godfrey Thring (alterer, 1871)

Crown Him with ma­ny crowns,
The Lamb up­on His throne.
Hark! How the heav’n­ly an­them drowns
All mu­sic but its own!
Awake, my soul, and sing
Of Him who died for thee;
And hail Him as thy match­less king
Through all eter­ni­ty!

Crown Him the vir­gin’s son!
The God in­car­nate born,
Whose arm those crim­son tro­phies won
Which now His brow adorn!
Fruit of the mys­tic rose,
As of that rose the stem;
The root whence mer­cy ev­er flows,
The Babe of Beth­le­hem!

Crown Him the Lord of love!
Behold His hands and side,
Those wounds, yet vi­si­ble above,
In beau­ty glo­ri­fied:
No an­gel in the sky
Can ful­ly bear that sight,
But down­ward bends his burn­ing eye
At mys­ter­ies so bright!

Crown Him the Lord of peace!
Whose pow­er a scep­ter sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease,
Absorbed in pray­er and praise:
His reign shall know no end,
And round His pierc­èd feet
Fair flow­ers of pa­ra­dise ex­tend
Their frag­rance ev­er sweet.

Crown Him the Lord of years,
The Po­ten­tate of time,
Creator of the roll­ing spheres,
Ineffably sub­lime.
All hail, Re­deem­er, hail!
For Thou has died for me;
Thy praise and glo­ry shall not fail
Throughout eter­ni­ty.

Crown Him the Lord of Heav’n,
Enthroned in worlds above,
Crown Him the king to whom is giv’n
The won­drous name of Love.
Crown Him with ma­ny crowns,
As thrones be­fore Him fall;
Crown Him, ye kings, with ma­ny crowns,
For He is king of all.

Crown Him the Son of God,
Before the worlds be­gan,
And ye who tread where He hath trod,
Crown Him the Son of Man;
Who ev­ery grief hath known
That wrings the hu­man breast,
And takes and bears them for His own,
That all in Him may rest.

Crown Him the Lord of life,
Who tri­umphed o’er the grave,
And rose vic­to­ri­ous in the strife
For those He came to save.
His glo­ries now we sing,
Who died, and rose on high,
Who died eter­nal life to bring,
And lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of lords,
Who ov­er all doth reign,
Who once on earth, the in­car­nate Word,
For ran­somed sin­ners slain,
Now lives in realms of light,
Where saints with an­gels sing
Their songs be­fore Him day and night,
Their God, Re­deem­er, king.

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

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