Category Archives: Thanksgiving or Gratefulness

Independence Day Reflection – You Say I Am Free – Lauren Daigle

Photo Credit: My God and My Dog

[Adapted from Archives]

Today, we Americans celebrate our Independence Day.

Food, fireworks, and freedom. That’s what it’s all about. Family, too, and/or friends gathered. It’s a big day around here.

Photo Credit: Pixabay
Photo Credit: NeedPix, Martinique Le Prêcheur

In this early morning, I’m reflecting on freedom.

American Independence Day (4th of July) commemorates our declaration of freedom (July 4, 1776) from the rule of Britain. We declared our own freedom. On July 4, we celebrate the freedom we continue to have as Americans because of the many wars fought to hold onto or to obtain freedom.

How much more transforming when the Lord Himself declares us free!

Some time ago, we were in Dave’s family’s home church – Grace Church in Seaford, Delaware. One of their pastors was teaching a sermon series on Avoiding Colossal Mistakes. That Sunday’s sermon centered on the cross of Christ (podcast here).

During the worship service before the sermon, this lyric really penetrated my heart:

“You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free.”

When you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses. He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14

As we celebrate our Independence Day, we have a far greater celebration in the cross of Christ. Apart from receiving His death for our sin, His righteousness for our own unrighteousness, we would be dead in our sins today. Still in bondage, enslaved.

We, in the US, have a dark history of slavery. No matter how deeply we are grieved by it, the stain of that great sin is forever a part of our nation’s fabric. Try as we may, we cannot wash that stain out.

Those who lived as slaves in this country, like those who are enslaved today through human trafficking, did not bring their bondage on themselves. It was/is a wrong done to them.

Many anti-trafficking organizations have a key strategy:

Reach, Rescue, & Restore

This is exactly what Jesus has done for us. In our sinful state, He reached out to us. He rescued us through the cross, and He restored us to Himself.

As we think about the freedom we have in Christ and the freedom we have as Americans, I pray we don’t forget our own bondage, or that of others – spiritual bondage, and for some…the physical bondage of being trafficked, forced into slavery even today.

We must reach. We must rescue. We must restore.

Worship with me, as we celebrate freedom, to the Lauren Daigle song “How Can It Be“:

I am guilty
Ashamed of what I’ve done, what I’ve become
These hands are dirty
I dare not lift them up to the Holy one

You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be

I’ve been hiding
Afraid I’ve let You down, inside I doubt
That You could love me
But in Your eyes there’s only grace now

You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be

Though I fall, You can make me new
From this death I will rise with You
Oh the grace reaching out for me
How can it be
How can it be

You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be*

He himself [Jesus Christ] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world. 1 John 2:2

So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude. Colossians 2:6-7

*Lyrics & the Story Behind the Song “How Can It Be” performed by Lauren Daigle – Songwriters: Paul Mabury, Jason Ingram and Jeff Johnson

The Victory of the Cross – Chuck Smith Sermon Notes – Blue Letter Bible

Colossians 2:14-15 – Commentary – Precept Austin

Photo Credit: QuoteFancy

Independence Day in the USA – Celebrating the 4th of July and Remembering that Freedom is Not Free – Deb Mills

Conflicted Thoughts on Independence Day – Chris Turner

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

Monday Morning Moment – The 6 Sacrifices of Leadership – in Memory of Clyde Meador

Photo Credit: GOBNM

10 years writing this blog. I started 10 years ago this very month. The reason, in particular, was because I felt my memory clouding some, and there were memories and counsel I wanted to make sure were left for my children. As writing does, the blog cut its course through many topics – God, life, marriage, parenting, beauty, friendship, work, meaning, purpose, and reflections of all sorts. Now 10 years out, my memory is still hanging in there, and for that I’m thankful. Also for the having of words to share with those I love.

Our friend Clyde Meador started a blog himself 3 years ago this month. He may have had similar hopes – to leave something for his children and for the sake of a greater work.

Leadership was a topic that I studied for years (posting in my Monday Morning Moment). I learned so much from great leaders in my life, as well as some leaders who could have used some mentoring by our friend Clyde. That may not have been kind, but good leaders matter – in our lives and in the futures of organizations.

Photo Credit: Facebook, Stephen White, 2017 [Clyde and his beloved wife, Elaine]

In the first year of Clyde’s blog, he wrote a series of posts entitled 6 Sacrifices of Leadership. The topics were:

  • Loss of Constant Firsthand Involvement
  • Too Much Negative Knowledge
  • Constant Criticism
  • Leaving
  • Sacrifice, Isolation, Ostracism
  • Impact on Family Ties Due to Travel and Workload

Take the time to study those posts to learn from Clyde. In a recent tribute to him, a friend and colleague, Charles Clark wrote a brief summary of Clyde’s six sacrifices, their dangers and rewards. You find them in the image below:

Photo Credit: Clyde Meador from Charles Clark’s Facebook page, May 2024

In April 2024, Clyde Meador, this wise, humble, and insightful leader friend of ours, died, at 70 years of age. Complications of a long battle with cancer. He leaves a big hole, for his family, but also for the many people who have known him and loved him through the years. However, he would say something along the lines of God doesn’t leave holes.

We all have stories with Clyde in them – his lessons on life and leading. His legacy is that he never wavered in his faith walk, his love for his family, or his determination to do excellence in the work God had given him. He and Elaine have been a picture of constancy in our lives. Leading and loving.

In July of 2023, life and cancer treatment got in the way of Clyde continuing his blog. What turned out to be his last blog is so appropriate and beautiful. “To Those Who Come After Us”. Here are the last paragraphs.

“I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.”  (Psalm 89:1, ESV)  “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders that He has done.”  (Psalm 78:4, ESV)  This commitment of faithful followers of the Lord must be our commitment, also.

“So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”  (Psalm 71:18, ESV)  I am grateful that I have reached old age and gray hair, and pray that I will faithfully do all I can to communicate the truth of the Gospel to those who come after me.

Of all those things which we teach our children and those who come after them, nothing is more important, more urgent than the truth of the Gospel.  I have a less-than-perfect record of success in this endeavor, yet I seek to faithfully persist in sharing the Truth.  I challenge each of us to a major focus on sharing all we know about our Lord and Savior with the next generations! – Clyde Meador, To Those Who Come After Us

[Dave & Clyde, a few weeks before Clyde went to be with the Lord. So grateful. What a humble and wise mentor he was to so many.]

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 – 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

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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