Category Archives: Heaven

Worship Wednesday – Go Rest High on That Mountain – Vince Gill

Photo Credit: Emilys Quotes

I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you.Philippians 1:3

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you. Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.”Isaiah 49:15-16

“I can forgive, but I can’t forget”. We’ve all heard it, and maybe we’ve even said it. Forgetting is a tricky business. Too often we remember and keep the wounds open when forgetting could pave the road to healing. What if we decided not to forget, BUT chose to not forget that which is best remembered.

The offense can be taken down a notch if we remember the offender is a real person with terrible failings and maybe even regrets…maybe like me. Flesh and blood. Needing a savior just like I do.

I can forget details of an offense in the remembering of a person who mattered…to God, and to me.

Remembering people who are no longer in our lives is a beautiful thing. None were perfect but some came close in the sacrificial way they loved and the authentic way they lived. They may have failed us at times, but we will do the same to our children and grandchildren. Hopefully they will remember us kindly one day. I want to lead by example in remembering those who made a difference in my life.

What brought this to mind for me this week? A young woman, 21-year-old Megan Danielle, powerfully belting out a country song, the performance of which she dedicated to her late grandfather.

American Idol is a dazzling reality TV show, bringing incredibly talented young people from small-town obscurity into the spotlight of mainstream entertainment. It’s a competition over several weeks where contestants are coached and groomed for stardom. Megan, as of this week, is in the Top 8 of the contestants. I had never heard the song “Go Rest High on That Mountain” until she sang it for America’s vote.

So beautiful. For Megan, it was for her grandfather. As I listened to her performance, precious ones now gone came to mind. In recent years, we have lost several friends, colleagues, and family members. Twenty years back, we lost Mom. She did not have an easy life, but she reflected a life surrendered to God and was always willing to forgive and to show mercy. The last three years of her life were spent dealing with a rentless cancer and treatment that failed, but that was a darkness that did nothing to quench the light of her beautiful life. I am so thankful to be her daughter. I am also thankful she has entered her rest, but I want to remember her until the day we see each other again.

Thankfully not a day goes by that Mom doesn’t come to mind. Every. Single. Day. That is something I rejoice over. She was an incredible grace from God to her children.

Who’s that grace in your life? They may have failings…they may not even be in your life right now…but you know in your heart of hearts that you are known and loved by that person…as imperfect as the relationship may be. Remember. Be reconciled if possible. We have the exquisite witness of a loving God who remembers us…who knows us by name…He will never forget we belong to Him.

Worship with me to this beautiful Vince Gill song…as we remember those glorious souls who went before us.

[Verse 1]
I know your life on earth was troubled
And only you could know the pain
You weren’t afraid to face the devil
You were no stranger to the rain

[Chorus]
So go rest high on that mountain
Son, your work on earth is done
Go to heaven a-shoutin’
Love for the Father and the Son

[Verse 2]
Oh, how we cried the day you left us
We gathered round your grave to grieve
Wish I could see the angels faces
When they hear your sweet voice sing

[Chorus]
So go rest high on that mountain
Son, your work on earth is done
Go to heaven a-shoutin’
Love for the Father and the Son

[Verse 3]
You’re safely home in the arms of Jesus
Eternal life, my brother’s found
The day will come, I know I’ll see you
That sacred place on that Holy ground

[Chorus]
Go rest high on that mountain
‘Cause son, your work on earth is done
Go to heaven a-shoutin’
Love for the Father and the Son

[Outro]
Go to heaven a-shoutin’
Love for the Father and the Son*

*Lyrics to Go Rest High on That Mountain – Songwriter: Vince Gill

YouTube Video – Vince Gill Drops Devastating New ‘Go Rest High On That Mountain‘ Lyrics

Worship Wednesday – Scars in Heaven – Casting Crowns

Photo Credit: Providence Ministries

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came [after He had risen from the dead]. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them,“Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”John 20:24-29

When Jesus appeared to his disciples after his horrific death on a Roman cross, he was alive again. Not a ghost but in a glorified body. Jesus resurrected. Never to die again. As he confirmed his identify to Thomas, the struggling to believe disciple, he, knowing all things, offered the proof asked for.

Wound marks. From the nails hammered into his hands and the spear thrust in his side on the day he died for us. God the Father must have known these marks would form into necessary scars…for at least one to believe. The scars of a savior…the Savior.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

That’s us.

Yet we benefit from that brother Thomas who, in his grief, still needed a sign that Jesus was alive again.

We all bear scars of some sort or another. Scars of abuse or loss. Disappointment or betrayal. Scars from hating and being hated. Unforgiveness or caring too little. Even scars of victory, as were the scars of Jesus. Wounds we received, even standing, as the Lord fought our battles for us…and won. Jesus has such scars of victory.

What Does It Mean that God Fights our Battles? – Catiana NK

No Scars in Heaven? – Joni & Friends

“By His stripes, we are healed.”1 Peter 2:24

A friend of mine died this week. Becky Cole. We have known each other for over 35 years. We met in church in East Tennessee. I was pregnant with my first born, married to a good and Godly man, financially stable…in a really good place. She was pregnant with her first and would be only child. A son. She was a single mom who took herself out of an abusive home and away from a man who she feared would abuse her child as well. She had a heart full of love for that little boy now grown up into a gentle and accomplished man who made her proud.

She also loved Jesus which was clearly the biggest steadying force in her turbulent life.

We moved away from Tennessee in 1994 – almost 30 years ago, but we never lost touch. The phone would ring, and we would start up right where we left off. Did we always agree on things? Absolutely not. Still, I admired her tenacity so much. If something needed to be made right, she would not give up on it. She was a fighter. An activist. An advocate.

Did she have scars? Absolutely! She just wasn’t afraid of a fight.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

If there was ever a Mama Bear, it was Becky. Much of her mid-life she was what some might label a welfare mom, but as happens with stereotypes, she was so much larger than one who sought aid from the state. So much more.

She fought for her son to have the best life she could give him. Plagued with health problems, she wasn’t always able to work. That did not stop her from being deeply concerned and involved with her larger community, not just for her sake but for those around her. She tried to make life better; tried to help people with power and authority to do better. I know I was better knowing her…being her friend.

Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies – Hillary Morgan Ferrer

As she grew older, her health issues worsened, as happens in life. Her son became successful with work and married the love of his life. Becky kept fighting to make the world a better place…for her son…and she kept fighting to live…until this week when the fighting came to an end.

I was actually shocked when her son told me she had died. She had been at Duke University under evaluation for one more surgery that would have hopefully given her more time and more quality of life… but she just wasn’t a good candidate, they said. She was too far spent.

We talked before she traveled to Duke. She was hopeful. I committed to pray. We wouldn’t talk again. She texted me that the surgery wasn’t going to happen and she would be placed on hospice care. That was hard to hear about someone as full of life as Becky, although I knew she had been so sick. I called and texted through the last days of her life…she has never not picked up or answered a text…until now.

For Becky, the fighting was over. She would go Home. Once that was settled, I wonder what it must have been like for her to “lay down her weapons” for the last time. Thank You, Jesus.

All the week while she was at Duke, the Casting Crowns song “Scars in Heaven” seems to have been on auto-repeat on my Christian radio station. Listening to the beautiful truth of this song, I thought of Becky…and prayed.

“I know the road you walked was anything but easy
You picked up your share of scars along the way
Oh, but now you’re standing in the sun, you’ve fought your fight and your race is run
The pain is all a million miles away.”

Worship with me.

If I had only known the last time would be the last time
I would’ve put off all the things I had to do
I would’ve stayed a little longer, held on a little tighter
Now what I’d give for one more day with you
‘Cause there’s a wound here in my heart where something’s missing
And they tell me that it’s gonna heal with time
But I know you’re in a place where all your wounds have been erased
And knowing yours are healed is healing mine

The only scars in Heaven, they won’t belong to me and you
There’ll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new
And the thought that makes me smile now, even as the tears fall down
Is that the only scars in Heaven are on the hands that hold you now

I know the road you walked was anything but easy
You picked up your share of scars along the way
Oh, but now you’re standing in the sun, you’ve fought your fight and your race is run
The pain is all a million miles away

The only scars in Heaven, they won’t belong to me and you
There’ll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new
And the thought that makes me smile now, even as the tears fall down
Is that the only scars in Heaven, yeah, are on the hands that hold you now

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, for the hands that hold you now

There’s not a day goes by that I don’t see you
You live on in all the better parts of me
Until I’m standing with you in the sun, I’ll fight this fight and this race I’ll run
Until I finally see what you can see, oh-oh

The only scars in Heaven, they won’t belong to me and you
There’ll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new
And the thought that makes me smile now, even as the tears fall down
Is that the only scars in Heaven are on the hands that hold you now.

*Lyrics to Only Scars in Heaven – Songwriters: John Mark Hall, Matthew Joseph West

YouTube Video – Casting Crowns – Scars in Heaven (Story Behind the Song)

Significance in Your Scars – Keela Craft Ambrose

Beauty Marks: How God Turns Our Scars Into Something Beautiful – Linda Barrick

The Story Behind Your Scars – God’s Grace Revealed – Dana Rongione

Photo Credit: Pinterest, Henry van Dyke

Worship Wednesday – Everlasting God – William Murphy III

Photo Credit: William Murphy, Pinterest

“The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom should I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom should I be afraid?”Psalm 27:1

“But I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.”Micah 7:7

“I am certain that I will see the LORD’s goodness in the land of the living.”Psalm 27:13

“…godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying, worthy of full acceptance. To this end we labor and strive, because we have set our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, and especially of those who believe.”1 Timothy 4:8-10

“I wait for the LORD; I wait and put my hope in his word. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning— more than watchmen for the morning.” – Psalm 130:5-6

Are we to separate ourselves from the suffering of this world? Can we look away in good conscience?

Absolutely not.

Yet…the brokenness in this world weighs heavy on us. Too often the darkness pushes in and touches our own lives. We experience the evil in the pain of loved ones, in the images of war and suffering around our world. We long for it to be different.

Some blame God…such bold assertions when we don’t have to look far at all to see how our own sins (or the sins of our fore-fathers and mothers) have cut a path of destruction for others to follow.

No…my whole understanding of God is that He is good. His love is perfect. His mercies are fresh every day toward us.

So what do we do with this in-between? This not-yet? This dark before the dawn?

Photo Credit: AZ Quotes

What do we do in these days?

Photo Credit: KLove, Pinterest

What do we do? A friend recently reminded us of the walk with God that will eventually and victoriously take us home:

We humble ourselves (“and He will lift us up”James 4:10). Humility is having a right understanding of who we are in relationship with God and with each other. We need God and we need each other.

We keep our heads up, focusing our eyes on the One who saves, who loves us, and who will deliver us.

We hold our hands out to one another. God made us for community. Wide, far-reaching, loving, long-suffering, life-giving community. There is joy there.

Worship with me to the song, Everlasting God. The version below is 9 minutes long. Take the time. Stop the world to bask in the beauty of God…His goodness, His everlasting goodness.

[Leader:]
The Lord’s my light and salvation
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I be afraid?
The Lord’s my light and salvation
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I be afraid? [x2]
I will wait on you, I will wait on you
I will trust in you, I will trust in you
The Lord is my light and salvation
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I be afraid? [x2]

I will wait on you, I will wait on you
I will trust in you, I will trust in you

[Leader:]
I will remain confident in this I will see the goodness of the Lord

[Choir:]
I will remain confident in this I will see the goodness of the Lord
The Lord’s my light and salvation Whom shall I fear? Whom shall I be afraid [x2]
I will wait on you, I will wait on you [x2]
I will trust in you, I will trust in you [x2]
I will remain confident in this I will see the goodness of the Lord [x2]

[Leader:]
We set our hope on You
We set our hope on Your love
We set our hope on the One who is the Everlasting God
You are the Everlasting God, You are the Everlasting

[Choir:]
We set our hope on You
We set our hope on Your love
We set our hope on the One who is the Everlasting God
You are the Everlasting God, You are the Everlasting [x5]

[Leader:]
I will remain confident in this I will see the goodness of the Lord
[Choir:]
I will remain confident in this I will see the goodness of the Lord [x2]

[Leader:]
I will wait on you, I will wait on you
I will trust in you, I will trust in you

I will trust in the Lord, I will trust in the Lord
I don’t know about you, I don’t know about you
But I am goin’ to trust in the Lord
Till I I die
I will trust
In, In the Lord
Hey, Hey
I’m Gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna
Trust in the Lord
I will trust in the Lord
OH yes I will
I’ll trust in the lord
Till I
Till I die*

Worship Wednesday – Build My Life – Pat Barrett – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Worship Wednesday – Stand Firm – for We Are “Almost Home” – Matt Papa, Matt Boswell, & MercyMe

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…Ephesians 6:13-14a

My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber.Psalm 121:2-3

Stand firm. So what if the ground seems to tremble underneath our feet?

We have the great witness of the earth shaking (Matthew 27:50-51) on the dark day when Jesus died, for us, on that lonely cross. The earth shook again three days later (Matthew 28:2) – as the stone rolled away from the entrance to the tomb revealed it empty – a dead teacher now a risen Savior.

Clearly, there is a shaking going on right now, all around us. We can’t explain it away…nor can we be sure the meaning of it theologically. The mind and intention of God are beyond our human understanding. However, we know for sure that He is good and His love surpasses anything we can understand this side of Heaven.

Therefore, we stand firm. With hope, extending comfort, and showing His love as opportunity arises (which is a fairly constant experience). As His people, God means for us to ever come alongside.Photo Credit: Heartlight, George Swinnock

In Curt Thompson‘s book The Soul of Desire, the chapter “Trauma and Shame” reveals a word of wisdom for this time we find ourselves:

“Everywhere we turn the world appears to be enduring pathos without end…We know this not just because others “out there” are encountering pain or foisting it upon us: we carry it in the center of our own souls, and it courses through our own bodies…Perhaps this is why the Old Testament prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are so full of words of warning and judgment while offering, by sheer number, far fewer words of comfort and hope.”

Thompson goes on to explore how our thinking strays from the beauty God intended for us to create in this world and fixes onto analyzing, judging, and processing what’s going on around us. Rather than being attuned “to the present moment and being open to creating with God whatever may be in front of me”, we struggle with “the anxiety of the future or the regret of the past”.

As we ruminate on the losses of the past and a dread of the future, Thompson reminds us: God is literally in the middle of all places and events, not least those that are the most appalling, debilitating, and anguishing; he is never away from us but always willing and working (Philippians 2:13) to use even our most painful experiences to create beauty in the context of vulnerable community, the likes of which we are otherwise unable to imagine.”

In the last page of the above chapter, we are called to remember that we are an Easter people. For our sinful sakes, God provided a substitution for us – a Savior – to shake up eternity for us – in this life and the next.

What are we to do? We are to stand firm. To stay at the plow. To keep our eyes fixed on Him. To flourish in community. To hold fast to hope. To comfort in word and deed. To rest in the Lord…always.

“In this scene set in shadows
Like the night is here to stay,
There is evil cast around us
but, it’s Love that wrote the play.
…In this darkness Love can show the way.”David Wilcox

For the truth of the matter is we are almost home. The struggle won’t last forever. In fact, the battle belongs to the Lord. Period. Full stop.

Worship with me (Matt Papa‘s and Matt Boswell‘s Almost Home).

…and with another – MercyMe‘s Almost Home.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. 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 hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

MercyMe Share the Heartwarming Story Behind the Little Astronaut in Their ‘Almost Home’ Video – Deborah Evans Price

YouTube Video – On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand – Michael W. Smith

YouTube Video – Firm Foundation (He Won’t) [feat. Chandler Moore & Cody Carnes/Maverick City Music/TRIBL

YouTube Video – A Mighty Fortress Is Our God – Matt Boswell

Photo Credit: Fitting Farewell, Pinterest, Henry Van Dyke

Worship Wednesday – Temptation, Where It Leads, and How We Find Our Way – Before the Throne of God Above

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Encourage one another every day, as long as it is still called “today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. – Hebrews 3:13

No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to bear it.1 Corinthians 10:13

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.James 4:7

We don’t really talk much about temptation. It’s real, and all. Just not something we want to think about. Because we might miss out on something…even if it’s misery.

“Let us learn more about the power of temptation in order to avoid it.”John Owen

I don’t always resist temptation, but Jesus did. So…if we want to be more like Jesus, that Lover of our Souls, that Saviour who left it all on the cross for us…then we seek to live like Him.

We are not without power to do so. The Holy Spirit indwells us and moves us toward a pure heart, righteous living, sound thinking, and self-less love. When we are tempted to sin…or we are drawn to a desire we aren’t even sure is sin, God has made a way out of that situation or desire so we can endure. [1 Corinthians 10:13]

“Steadfastness in believing doth not exclude all temptations from without. When we say a tree is firmly rooted, we do not say the wind never blows upon it.”John Owen

Our struggle is that sometimes we want our way more than God’s way. We want pleasure, vindication, revenge, or the favor of others more than we want our holy God.

“Unwillingness to accept God’s ‘way of escape’ from temptation  frightens me. – What a rebel yet resides within.” – Jim Elliott

Photo Credit: Neil Anderson, Heartlight

Temptation to sin will come, and come again. It’s important for us to recognize it and deal with it with wisdom and restraint. We don’t want our hearts to be hardened by deceit [Hebrews 3:13], thinking it’s ok to sin…What does it hurt really? Or we’ve succumbed to the deceit of not even being sin. We’re saved and safe for eternity, right? Christ’s work on the cross covers us. We’re good to go!

Photo Credit: Charles H. Brent, Heartlight

The thing is God is holy and loving, merciful and just. Who would want to cozy up to temptation which draws us away from Him? Our Jesus is gentle and lowly. He endured every temptation without sin. Because we have the Spirit of God within, we can resist the pride of thinking our way is better and that we can handle what comes at us.

“The first step towards humility was to realise that one is proud…No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist.C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

When we wrestle with the reality of temptation and its grip on us, we don’t take comfort in our “fire insurance”, treating Christ’s salvation like a ticket into Heaven.

What then shall we say? Shall we continue in sin so that grace may increase? Certainly not!” Romans 6:1-2a

We live in the way He has called us to live – to submit our desires, our very selves, to God and resist the Evil One [James 4:7]. This isn’t by works, but by a mind and heart resolve…because we love Him.

Worship with me to the glorious anthem “Before the Throne of God Above” as sung by Selah:

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect Plea
A great High Priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me

My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upwards I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin

Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect spotless Righteousness
The great unchangeable I Am
The King of glory and of grace

One with Himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ, my Savior and my God
With Christ, my Savior and my God

One with Himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ, my Savior and my God
With Christ, my Savior and my God

*Lyrics to Before the Throne of God Above – Songwriter(s): Charities Lee Smith (1841-1923) and Vikki Cook of Sovereign Grace Music

Story Behind the Song Before the Throne of God Above – Kelli Kaufman

Worship Wednesday – Jesus & Holy Week – Day 4 – A Day of Quiet Before the Storm – & We Worship

Photo Credit: Baptist Press

[Adapted from the Archives – search blog under Holy Week for the description of the other days of this history-changing week.]

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” And all the angels…fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God.Revelation 7:9-11

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”  – Revelation 5:12

There appears to be nothing recorded in Scripture of events surrounding Jesus on the Wednesday before his crucifixion. Nothing. After two difficult days dealing with his enemies and accusers, it is quite possible that he took a rest. A Sabbath rest. Given the terrible nature of what was ahead of him, starting just the next day, he could surely use a day to rest and reflect. To remember how the Father had sustained him through all the strains of his public life. To refresh himself in prayer and in the company of those on earth who loved him most – his disciples, his friends, possibly his family. We know no details of that day.

Silent Wednesday.

Since we also know what is coming for Jesus…and all for our sakes…we pause today, as well, to worship. He is the perfect lamb, without blemish, perfectly fit to be offered as a sacrifice for our sins. God provided a ram for Abraham to take his son’s place in that strange and amazing sacrifice on Mt. Moriah (Genesis 22:1-14). This was a foreshadowing of our own need for a Savior. We also can be saved by the blood of “the Lamb, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Photo Credit – Baptist Press

Jesus was not killed on that Friday, two days hence. His life was not taken. Not by the Jewish or Roman authorities. He gave his life…for us…there are no words adequate to respond…worship is all we have.

Photo Credit – Baptist Press

Worship with me:

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Holy, Holy, is He
Sing a new song to Him who sits on
Heaven’s Mercy Seat
[Repeat 2x]

(Chorus)
Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing:
Praise to the King of Kings!
You are my everything,
And I will adore You…!
Yeah!

Clothed in rainbows, of living color
Flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor, strength and
Glory and power be
To You the Only Wise King,
Yeah

(Chorus)

Filled with wonder,
Awestruck wonder
At the mention of Your Name
Jesus, Your Name is Power
Breath, and Living Water
Such a marvelous mystery
Yeah…

(Chorus)

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come,
With all creation I sing:
Praise to the King of Kings!
You are my everything,
And – I – will – adore YOU…

(Chorus)

(Repeat a cappella)

Come up lift up His Name
To the King of Kings…
We will adore YOU Lord…
King of heaven and earth
King Jesus, King Jesus
Aleluya, aleluya, aleluya!
Majesty, awestruck Honor
And Power and Strength and Dominion
To You Lord,
To the King, to King
To the King of Glory

Chorus (Repeats)*

*Lyrics to Revelation Song written by Jennie Lee Riddle

Story Behind Revelation Song – Jennie Lee Riddle’s vision of the Church wholly united in worship of God – here as we will be one day in Heaven

YouTube Lyric Video – Revelation Song – Kari Jobe – Passion 2013

Holy Week – Day 4: Silent Wednesday – Mary Fairchild

Spotify Playlist From Palm Sunday to the Resurrection – Beth Wayland

How is Jesus the Lamb of God?

Podcast – Easter and Hymns with Keith Getty – Rainer on Leadership

Holy Week Timeline Graphic

YouTube Video – Is He Worthy (feat. Chandler Moore & Nate Moore) – Maverick City/TRIBL

 Photo Credits – Baptist Press

Worship Wednesday – What If – Matthew West with Lathan Warlick

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Jeremy Taylor

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.Psalm 90:12

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make a profit.” You do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.James 4:14

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.Deuteronomy 6:6-7

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.2 Peter 1:3

The older we get the less surprised we are by the brevity of life.

Heaven keeps getting sweeter as more and more of our loves exit this crazy world. However, as much as we look forward to seeing Jesus, we want to stretch our days out with the joys of this life. Family, friends, our work and art, the every day splendors of life.

As we turn our thoughts to the day-to-day, we can shrink our view of forever. We soak up the sweet moments with our grandchildren and the beauty that surrounds us…even in a world scorched by war. Most of us live outside of the hard of that reality and can turn our thoughts to tending our yards and finding deals for family vacations.

Those are good things.

The dilemma is when good overrules what God is up to in our lives. God is about revealing Himself through us to a world that desperately needs Him…and we receive back the joy of being part of that loving, comforting, healing work.

The thing we face each day is whether we are willing to be part of that. God’s ways are higher than ours but are also scarier as well. But oh so satisfying!

I’ve lost four days this week to a cold. Just no energy added to complete brain fog. The keeping company with the couch was about the best I could do. Then hearing the song “What If” coincided with my day of starting to feel better. Joy!! That I have today to follow God.

It’s all we ever have, for sure. Today.

The official video of “What If” shows a series of family events around singer, songwriter’s Matthew West‘s birthday (with a little surprise ending). Fun times. Making memories. Going after experiences over material gifts. All the sorts of things that are large in our culture right now.

Larger still is the deeper meaning of West’ song. He is definitely communicating to be intentional about life, being that it is but a vapor. As video spells out, we squeeze all the good we can out of life, but that “good” is far more than just trips of a lifetime or every fun memory we can give our children.

If we’re hoping to orchestrate the “best version of our lives“, we have all we need…today…for that to happen.…as God defines it. His idea of that is so much larger than we imagine for ourselves. To bear witness to Him, to reflect the love of Jesus, to display joy, to give hope, to make a difference, to stand in the gap, to repair the breach.

Matthew West has given us many empowering songs including “Do Something”, “Forgiveness”, “Look What You’ve Done”, and “I’m Not Strong Enough” – all of which I’ve written about and taken hope from.

West talks about the story behind the song “What If”:

“You should do one thing a day that scares you…What if is a life-defining question. What if I made a change that I know I need to make, what if I sought help for an area of my life where I’m struggling, what if I stepped out and lived boldly for Christ, what if I stepped into the fullness of God’s plan for my life?  Or you can wait until the story is all but written, then you’re answering the question in the past tense. I want to answer that question now. While I still have a chance to change the things that can change. I don’t want to be answering the ‘what if” question when it’s all too late. Then it’s just about regret. I want to look back and know that I have no regrets. John 10:10 –Jesus said “I’ve come that they may have life and have it to the full”. The time is now. Live like today is the only day you’ve got. For the best version of your life, answer that “what if” question now.”Matthew West

What scary thing might God be calling you to endeavor today? He is with you. He is always with you. West reminds us to live today like it’s our last. A good word.

I’ve had a few regrets in my life…not so many because Mom taught us to keep short accounts with God and people. Asking for forgiveness and forgiving others are two parts of that. As much as it is possible, live at peace with all men (women). No grudges. No regrets. It is a daily battle, but one filled with God’s purposes and promises, as we keep our minds on Him.

Keeping Short Accounts with God – Jonathan Kirby

Worship with me to West’s song “What If” featuring artist Lathan Warlick:

I’ve heard ’em say before to live just like you’re dying, yeah
Wish I could say that’s how I am but I been lying, yeah
Lying in my bed at night, and one too many times I’m thinking
What if, what if
My biggest fear is waking up to find what matters
Is miles away from what I spent my life chasing after
Is my story gonna have the same two words in every chapter?
What if, what if

But last I checked this heart
Inside my chest is still beating
Well, I guess it’s not too late

What if today’s the only day I got?
I don’t wanna waste it if it’s my last shot
No regrets in the end
I wanna know I got no what ifs
I’m running till the road runs out
I’m lighting it up right here right now
No regrets in the end
I wanna know I got no what ifs, yeah

See, I refuse to be a shoulda woulda coulda been
I can’t go back in time, I don’t have a DeLorean
What I’m trying to say is I don’t wanna say these words again
What if, what if

But last I checked this heart
Inside my chest is still beating
Well, I guess it’s not too late, no no

What if today’s the only day I got?
I don’t wanna waste it if it’s my last shot
No regrets in the end
I wanna know I got no what ifs
I’m running till the road runs out
I’m lighting it up right here right now
No regrets in the end (yeah)
I wanna know I got no what ifs (no what ifs)

I can see the clock is ticking and I’m tired of wasting my time
I’ma do it for today, so if tomorrow come, then I’m fine
Yeah, I’m far from perfect, I’ll be asking God to keep me in mind
And this life is shorter than we think, it’s really passing us by
I can’t be taking what’s going on for granted and when it get hard you won’t see me panic
Went through the storm and came out with scars but you don’t see me with no permanent damage
Yeah, this life is like a vapor, so go ahead and take advantage
Of what’s going on now, while you still got time to manage, yeah

‘Cause what if today’s the only day I got? (I’ve got it, got it)
I don’t wanna waste it (haha) if it’s my last shot (let’s go)
No regrets (no) in the end (in the end)
I wanna know I got no what ifs (I got no what ifs)
I’m running till the road runs out (whoa)
I’m lighting it up right (ah) here right now (yeah)
No regrets (no regrets) in the end (in the end)
I wanna know I got no what ifs (no what ifs, let’s go)

I wanna know I got no what ifs (no what ifs)
I wanna know I got no what ifs (no what ifs)*

*Lyrics to What If (Songwriters: AJ Pruis, Matthew West, Ran Jackson)

What If Bible Reading Plan – Matthew West

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Worship Wednesday – The Commission – Cain the Band

Photo Credit: Daily Verses

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20

When good news shakes up and transforms our very lives, we don’t keep it to ourselves. We can’t. In fact, in his last conversation with his disciples, the Messiah Jesus speaks of this in commanding terms.

The occasion for his words in the Gospel of Matthew was a gathering of Jesus’ followers with him. They were filled with both the comfort and joy of having come through His unwarranted death on a Roman cross and then having witnessed His resurrection from the dead. Nothing could keep Jesus in the grave. Nothing.

He took our sins to the cross. He died in our place. He gave himself for our sake that we could know His abundant life on earth and be with the Lord forever in Heaven.

In his commissioning (Matthew 28:18-20), he spoke to his followers but the words ring through the centuries to all of us and to those who come after us. Only he had the authority to speak them and to send us out. His authority came from the Father, we can speak the good news of Christ through his authority and the power of the Holy Spirit. He goes with us and is with us always.

So what is our commission?

  • Go – to our children, our larger families, our friends, our neighbors, our workplace, the marketplace, the world.
  • Make disciples – not by any coercion or bait-and-switch strategy. We live Christ before others and we speak the words of Christ to those he places in our path. We are not Christian from birth (as some think about Christians). We are also not saved by manipulation or parental persuasion. We are saved by reckoning with our sinful state and need for a savior. The Lord saves; we cannot save ourselves. “Making disciples” is to lay out the truth of our own experience in received salvation from Christ and inviting others to receive the same. It is not the Lord’s desire for anyone to die without an opportunity to come to faith in him (2 Peter 3:9). He has commissioned us to bring about that opportunity.
  • Baptize – in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus himself was baptized, (without need but as a witness for what he calls us to do). It is a public pronouncement of our faith in the sufficiency of Christ and our decision to follow him.
  • Teaching to obey. Obedience to Christ is not a peevish, demeaning thing. It is a beautiful alignment with all his promises, with all of who he is, and with all the good he brings out of our obedience – not just for ourselves but with a wide and generational ripple effect.

And that glorious promise: He is with us always. Glory!

[A note from my mom when we took a job outside the U.S. – she was a great pray-er.]

Have you received this Christ as your savior? Not an acknowledging of a form of Christ made popular across religions…but the One true God (three in one, in perfect unity). Not a “hope to get to Heaven” ticket…but through a personal relationship where God the Father sees us as we were meant to be – pure and beautiful sons and daughters, transformed by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Salvation – Explore God

For those of us who have experienced this incredible, undeserved, God-given adoption into his kingdom, we have our commission.

Worship with me (lyrics/music in the link).

See my hands and look at my feet
It’s okay if it’s hard to believe
I have faith that you will do greater things
It’s my time to go, but before I leave
Go tell the world about me
I was dead but now I live
I’ve gotta go now for a little while
But goodbye is not the end
Don’t forget the things that I taught you
I’ve conquered death and I hold the keys
Where I go you will go too someday
But there’s much to do here before you leave so
Go tell the world about me
I was dead but now I live
I’ve gotta go now for a little while
But goodbye is not the
End of the journey
The end of the road
My spirit is with you
Wherever you go
You have a purpose
And I have a plan
I’ll make you this promise
I’ll come back again
But until then
Go tell the world about me
For I was dead but now I live
Oh, I’ve gotta go now for a little while
Hey, but goodbye is not the end(Go tell the world)
Oh, go tell them about me
(Go tell the world)
I’ve gotta go
(Go tell the world)
For a little while
But goodbye is not the end*

*Lyrics to The Commission

YouTube – The Story Behind the Song The Commission by Cain

Cain the Band Website

YouTube – I Am with You Always: Matthew 28:18-20 – Desiring God – John Piper

Saturday Short – My Mom – a Lifetime Full of Love Notes – Her Birthday Just Ahead of Valentine’s Day

[Today is Mom’s birthday – 19 of them now in Heaven. This blog adapted from the Archives. ]

Our little family never lived close to the grandparents. This was not easy…for any of us. Before I married, I lived close to home, and Mom was my best friend. She died almost 20 years ago, and I miss her every day still. To people who knew her well, I would often say  “when I grow up, I want to be just like her.” Still working on that.

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

Mom pictures for website 012

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

She filled my freezer with her baking, and, while I was at work, she wrote notes. Then she hid them everywhere. After she flew home, I began finding them. In my coffee mug. Under my pillow. In the pocket of my coat. Among my reference books. Behind my music books on the piano. She was with me in the love notes she left, and it made the distance between us…less.IMAG2720 (2)

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Mom. Thank God for you.

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

The 59 “One Anothers” of the New Testament

Memory-of-Mildred Byrd McAdams

Remembering 9/11 – 20 years Later – and the Day Before – a Story about God and a Girl

Genessa (l) and April, Cairo, Egypt

[From the Archives – “Remember 9/11 – and the Day Before – a Story of God and a Girl”]

Today marks the eve of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 bombings in the US. We all have our stories of where we were when we heard that terrible news. I heard the news as an elevator door opened in a hospital emergency room in Cairo, Egypt. The surgeon watching for us to deliver the patient, walked into the elevator. His face strained (me thinking it related to the patient with me). Then he said, “I am so, so sorry.” I thought he was referring to the precious one on the stretcher beside me, so small and injured from a terrible bus accident the day before. It turns out he was talking about the news that had traveled instantly from the States about the 9/11 bombings. I’d like to go back to the day before. For us, it would help to go there, before I can ever process the grief of this day that we all share.

It was like any other Monday, that bright, warm September 10th in Cairo, Egypt…until the phone call. Janna was on the other end of the call, telling me that Genessa and April had been in a bus accident on the Sinai. April had called her and relayed their location, at a hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh. These were girls in our Middle Eastern Studies Program, and they were finishing their time with us, taking a vacation together. They would re-trace some of their experiences in Bedouin villages across the Sinai and then enjoy a few days on the Red Sea. They were to return that Monday of 9/10, traveling in on one of the over-night buses across the desert.

Details will have to wait for another time, but with this information, my husband, Dave, left immediately with Janna and a local Egyptian friend who was also one of our language coaches. He took these two women because of their relationship with each other and with all of us. He also understood that there were two injured friends hours away in a hospital who would need women to minister to their needs. I would be praying and on the phone the rest of the day with families, other friends, US Embassy people, and our other young people in the program. I can’t begin to describe the emotional nature of that day…not knowing, hoping, praying.

When Dave and our friends arrived at the hospital, he was directed to April. She had painful, serious injuries, but none life-threatening, praise God. Then he was escorted into the critical care area to see Genessa. To his horror, it wasn’t Genessa. It was another young woman, unconscious – an Italian tourist, who rode in the same ambulance with April. April, lucid and still able to communicate, had tried to comfort her on that long dark ride to the hospital. Personal belongings were all scrambled at the wreck site, and the authorities made the mistakened decision that because April was speaking to her, she was Genessa.

Then Dave went on the search for our dear one…somewhere else in the Sinai. He back-tracked toward the site of the accident, checking other hospitals where other injured were taken. At this point, he was also talking to US Embassy staff, as he drove through the desert. Just shortly before he arrived at the hospital where he would find Genessa, the staff person told him they confirmed her identification from a credit card she had in her pocket…in the morgue of that small village hospital.

Dave, our Egyptian friend, and Janna, that friend who received the first phone call, stood beside this precious girl’s body, to make the formal identification…to know for sure that this was Genessa. And it was…and yet not. She, the luminous, laughing, loving girl we knew, was gone. It was more than any of us who loved her could take in on that Monday evening in Cairo, Egypt…the day before 9/11.

http://debmillswriter.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Genessa-with-team1.jpg

As they left the hospital to return to April, two more friends joined them from Cairo to help. For any of you who have been completely spent in every way by such a day, you can understand what it was for them to look up and see Matt and Richard getting out of a car. God, in His great goodness, alerted them, stirred their hearts to drive all those hours…and then to arrive…just when they were most needed. So many arrangements had to be made…and most importantly, at that moment, to get April back safely and quickly to Cairo for surgery.

She came into Cairo on a plane near the middle of the day of 9/11. By the time we got her from the airport in an ambulance to the specialty hospital to get the further care she needed, a series of horrific events had begun taking place in the US. We would hear of them from this caring Egyptian surgeon…who had no idea how numb we were from losing Genessa and how concerned we were that April got what she needed as soon as possible. We were already so drenched by grief, this unfathomable news about the bombings washed over us without understanding the scope of it…the pain of it…for all the rest of America.

Later in that day, with April receiving the best care possible, and me watching by her side, I could take in some of the loss coming at us on the small t.v. mounted in the hospital room. Egyptians were telling us how so, so sorry they were for us (as Americans). If they only knew, they were our mourners for our loss of Genessa, too. In the din of world-changing news, and a country brought together in grief…we grieved, too, a continent away…for the losses of 9/11 and the day before.

That was 20 years ago…April healed from her injuries (only she and God know what all that took on the inside), the other young people in our program have gone on to careers and families across the US and around the world. We have also gone on…back to the US and to other work.

Two things have not changed…a beautiful girl, who fell asleep by the window of a bus in the Sinai night and woke up in Heaven… and the God who welcomed her Home. There is so much, much, more to this story, but I have to close with this. As her family back in the US were pulling the pieces of their lives back together, and going through Genessa’s things, they found a little cassette player on her bed…there left by her, two years before, as she left for Cairo. In it was a cassette where she’d made a tape of her singing one of her favorite songs, I Long for the Day, by singer/songwriter Dennis Jernigan. Toward the end of the song you can hear Genessa’s tears in her voice, singing to the Lord. We would sometimes have the opportunity of being in the room when Genessa led worship in those days. She couldn’t hold the tears back. So in a space just God and her.

If we look at Genessa’s life through the lens of some American dream, then we would think how tragic to die so young, so full of promise. Look through the lens of how much she loved God, and knowing Him was what mattered most to her…and all who knew her knew His love through her.

This God…and this girl.  Genessa

 I Long for the Day by Dennis Jernigan

I long for the day when the Lord comes and takes me away!

Whether by death or if You come for me on a horse so white

And anyway You come will be alright with me

I long to just hear You said, “Now is the time. Won’t you come away?”

And I’ll take Your hand, surrendering completely to You that day!

And no, I can’t contain the joy that day will bring!

Chorus:

When I get to see You face to face

When I can finally put sight to the Voice I’ve embraced

It will be worth all the waiting for that one moment I’ll be celebrating You!

When I get to feel Your hand in mine

When I can finally be free from this prison called time

When You say, “Child, I’ve been waiting for this one moment of celebrating, too!

For this one moment of celebrating you!”

O Lord, while I wait, I will cling to each word that You say.

So speak to my heart; Your voice is life to me, be it night or day.

And anything You say will be alright with me.

You see my heart’s greatest need

You and me, walking intimately.

You’re my only love, and I am waiting patiently for Your call.

When You call me to Your side eternally.

(Chorus Repeat)

Lord, I celebrate You!

Forever with You! No crying there.

Forever with You! No burden; no more worldly cares.

My heart is anticipating eternally with you celebrating You!

Forever with You I long to be;

Forever worshipping, knowing You intimately!

When You say, “Child, no more waiting” [No more waiting, children]

I’ll spend forever just celebrating You.

I’ll see all my loved ones gone before

I’ll get to be with them, laugh with them, hold them once more

There’ll be no more separating! [No separating]

Together we will be celebrating You!

Together we’ll worship You and sing.

Forever praising Lord Jesus, our Savior and King.

When You say, “Child, no more waiting” [No more waiting, children]

Enter your rest, and start celebrating, too.

Forever Lord, I’ll be celebrating You.

Chorus Repeat:

When I get to see You face to face

When I can finally put sight to the Voice I’ve embraced

It will be worth all the waiting for that one moment of celebrating You!

When I get to feel Your hand in mine

When I can finally be free from this prison called time

When You say, “Child, I’ve been waiting for this one moment of celebrating, too!

For this one moment of celebrating you!”

Dennis Jernigan, from the album I Belong to Jesus (Volume 2)