Worship Wednesday – Let My Life be the Proof of Your Love – For King & Country

Blog - For King & Country

Proof

noun \ˈprüf\

: something which shows that something else is true or correct

: an act or process of showing that something is true

“Believe what you want to believe.” “That’s fine for you.” “I’m not convinced.” “You can’t really prove it.” “Whatever.”

What if our lives were the proof of God’s love? What if the existence…no, the very presence of God…could be shown irrefutably through our lives…by our love for God and for others?

I am so weary of the cultural call to tolerance and acceptance. It’s as if that is as high as we can aim in society. Even in the church, we can be lulled to sleep…groveling at the altar of “Live and let live.” May it not be so…never be so. The truth is that in the adage of “Live and let live”, in real life, some actually die. Unloved. Without a thought.

Living a smaller life is so attractive – taking care of my own, having plenty of time for me, preparing for my retirement…and so it goes. Being responsible in these ways is a good thing, of course, yet God calls us to a larger life…of true, and genuine, life-giving and life-saving love.

If we are true followers of Jesus, God transforms us into a people who can express His unwavering love to each other and each other and each other…not in our own strength, but His, as we daily give ourselves to His love and His purposes.

What a wonder if those around us see us not just as nice or moral but as proof of God’s love…that our very lives resonate with something altogether different…something so winsome that we are seen in shadow, and God is manifested in all His glory!

Oh to love like that….may it be so, God.

[Jesus taught them, saying] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:43-44

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  – John 15:13

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  – Romans 5:8

This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,  being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. – Philippians 1:9-11

We have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: as He is, so are we in this world. – 1 John 4:16-17  

Worship with me….

The Proof of Your Love

If I sing but don’t have love
I waste my breathe with every song
I bring, an empty voice
A hollow noise

If I speak with a silver tongue
Convince a crowd but don’t have love
I leave a bitter taste
With every word I say

(Chorus)
So let my life be the proof
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You
And what You’re made of
How you lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof
The proof of Your love

If I give to a needy soul
But don’t have love then who is poor
It seems all the poverty
Is found in me

Chorus

Ooh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
When it’s all said and done
Ooh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
When we sing our final song

Only love remains
Only love remains

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7, The Message)

Chorus

(Music & Lyrics: Joel Smallbone / Luke Smallbone / Mia Fieldes / Jonathan Lee / Fred Williams / Ben Glover)

The Proof of Your Love – Official Music Video

YouTube video of The Proof of Your Love with Lyrics

Inside Look at the Song and the Video

For King & Country Website

Definition of Proof

Photo Credit

 

The Season of Small Ones – Mothering, God, & Gandalf

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“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-9

All the years of mothering have stretching bits, but the season of small ones was my most challenging. I was struck all over again just this weekend at the exquisite work of parenting. At our house church gathering, there were all these little guys weaving in and out around the tree-like adults in their way. Little ones belonging to three moms, pregnant with their next precious babies. A houseful of life and love and breath-taking responsibility.

I woke up the next morning thinking about those moms and others like them – holding the future in their arms.  What a gift children are – a heritage of the Lord (Psalm 127:3) – and what an important charge we’ve been given in training them up (Proverbs 22:6).  As moms, every day is on-the-job training for us, too, as we sort out how to guide  our children in setting their feet on course with God. We disciples making wee disciples.

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When we brought our first-born home from the hospital, we basked in the miracle of her. Then a few days into mothering , I sat with her in my lap, crying my eyes out. Some of it, most probably, related to post-partum hormones, but mostly I was undone by the weight of responsibility of caring for her…and trying to do it “right”. My husband was sitting across the room, taking in all this mystery of a beautiful baby girl and a wife weeping. I asked him, “What if something happens to her?!” He leaned in, with newborn tenderness, and reasoned with me, “If we only had her for a week, it’s a week of more joy than we’ve ever known before. We have to trust her with God.” From that moment on, we have been daily doing that transaction with the Lord – praying for our children and laying them back in His arms. They are, after all, His.

God calls us to remember for a reason. In the remembering, He gives us the clarity to see that He is always with us and especially in this season of small ones. I want to write more on this, but for now, young moms, take courage. In all the craziness of your day, with all that pulls at your time and attention, God sees you. He stands in the battle for you. Be strong in the Lord. We fight for our children in an alien culture that we call home, and we are not alone. God is with us today, and He will be with them in their future. Remember that, and teach them that.

I picture us moms, in a small way, like Gandalf in the LOTR Fellowship of the Ring scene. He stands valiantly between his small band of “children” and the terrible Balrog. His words resonate with my heart to protect and prepare my children – not just for their sake but for their future – for the Kingdom purposes God has for them. At the end of that scene, when it appeared Gandalf lost his life in that battle, his charges, sad but safe, turned and pushed on with their mission.  They had learned well from their teacher. Moms, “you are braver than you think…for the Lord your God is with you wherever you [and your children] go.”

Lisa-Jo Baker’s Book Surprised by Motherhood

Youtube video of LOTR Fellowship of the Ring – Gandalf Faces the Balrog

 

 

Worship Wednesday – In the Hands of Our Redeemer, Nothing Is Wasted – Jason Gray

Blog - Nothing is Wasted - Worship Wednesday

 

I love the words of the old prophet Joel calling God’s people to repentance with the promise that He would restore the years destroyed by locusts. Read the passage (below) and allow rejoicing to take the place of regret… How thankful I am for the grace, mercy, and kindness of Almighty God.

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”

So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten… You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you;
and My people shall never be put to shame…I am the Lord your God
and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame.”                – Joel 2:12-13, 25a, 26, 27b

Jason Gray’s song Nothing Is Wasted is poignant in its message and melody. Listening to it takes me back to those years of locusts in my own life – years in my youth when I praised God on Sunday and went my own way the rest of the week. Truth be told, I was far from Him, taken in by the deceit of the world and the Evil One…and my own self-serving heart. How thankful I will forever be that God is such a great Restorer, a gentle Redeemer, and that, as Jason wrote, nothing is wasted in His hands.

As the years have passed since that time, I have seen God use those years of brokenness in my life to tender my heart toward others struggling with the pull of the world, drawing them away from God. Losses, failures, and disappointments abound in this world and can cloud our view of what is true about God and His Gospel. He wants to turn our “mourning into dancing” (Psalm 30:11), and He wastes nothing in doing so.

“There isn’t anything that happens that is beyond God’s reach to redeem. He gives us a place to bring our brokenness, our weakness, our sadness.” – Jason Gray
Blog Jason Gray
Whatever has happened in your past – whatever separates you from the hope and healing God desires for you – give it to Him. He alone is able to bear it. Then reach forward and upward…He is reaching out to you. I know…He reached very low for me, and I will love Him forever with the most grateful of hearts.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14
Worship with me…
Jason Gray, from the album A Way to See In the Dark
The hurt that broke your heart
And left you trembling in the dark
Feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie
But what if every tear you cry
Will seed the ground where joy will grow
(chorus)
Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted
It’s from the deepest wounds
That beauty finds a place to bloom
And you will see before the end
That every broken piece is
Gathered in the heart of Jesus
And what’s lost will be found again
(chorus)
Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted
(Bridge)
When hope is more than you can bear
And it’s too hard to believe it could be true
And your strength fails you halfway there
You can lean on me and I’ll believe for you
And in time you will believe it too
(chorus)
Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
Sometimes we are waiting
In sorrow we have tasted
But joy will replace it
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

20 Online Resources to Equip Us to Take the Gospel to the Nations – Through our Workplace

Blog - Marketplace Advance

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 15:58

We live in a new day of Gospel proclamation and demonstration. Is it possible that the church – that we all together – could fulfill the Great Commission in our lifetime? God has always meant for His children, every one of us, to be invested in His purposes…not just on Sunday, but Monday on…through our studies, our work, our circles of influence.

God is stirring the hearts of men and women in all trades and professions to give witness to the love of Christ and the excellence of God’s Kingdom. From students to retirees, we can be equipped to daily display the Gospel, in our workplace and through our community, wherever we are.

Today you can get started…and the following resources will help you get where God would have you go.

Blog - Skybridge

Skybridge Community – asks the question: “Can You Imagine God Using Your Work for His Purpose in Reaching the Nations?” Skybridge is a global community of Kingdom professionals being intentional in joining excellence in the workplace, cultural sensitivity, and Gospel proclamation. You can become a member and have access to a wide range of resources and mentoring possibilities.

Blog - Marketplace Advance on blog

Marketplace Advance – Integrating Vocation and Mission – focuses on mobilizing and equipping Kingdom professionals and tradespeople to be a part of fulfilling the Great Commission all over the world, through their workplace.

Blog - The Gospel at Work

The Gospel at Work – [Helping Christians live extraordinary, gospel-centered lives in their workplaces] – is a network of churches and Kingdom professionals providing equipping toward Gospel intentionality in the workplace.

Blog - The High Calling

The High Calling – [Everyday Conversations About Work, Life, and God] – is an online community of professionals encouraging us all in the workplace to infuse our work with God – His love, His truth, and His purposes. Each week, The High Calling has a feature. written by people like you and me, focused being believers in the workplace.

Below are 16 other links to great resources to equip us as Gospel-bearers in the marketplace – wherever it is.  You may have a favorite of your own that I didn’t list. Please share that through the Comments.

Let’s be about the mission of God – through teaching, engineering, business, art, athletics, health care, construction, computer science. You fill in the blank of your vocation…He will empower you there…for the sake of your coworkers, your neighbors…and the nations.

A Better Way by Dale Losch – Disciples In Every Marketplace Making Disciples All Over the World

Business as Mission Resources Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University – Connecting Sunday Worship & Monday Work  — Also 24 Seven Faith

Center for Faith and Work – Redeemer Church (Pastor Tim Keller), NYC, NY

Christianity 9 to 5

Denver Institute for Faith & Work

Live/Right Blog – Integrating Faith into Everyday Life

Marketplace Leaders with Os Hillman – Today God Is First

Missional Marketplace 2014 Summit Media – Videos of Marketplace/Church Leader Talks

Patheos – Mission:Work

(Re)integrate – the center to reintegrate faith, life, and vocations (online magazine)

Re-Vocation: Working on Purpose – Upstream Collective

The Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture

Theology of Work Project – A Biblical Perspective on Faith and Work

Third Path Initiative – Accelerate Your Kingdom Impact – Third Path equips young professionals to have a Kingdom impact through profitable business in the global marketplace

Work Matters – Closing the Gap Between Faith and Work

Am I My Brother’s Keeper? – On Neglect – Part 2

Blog - Neglect - Orphan Girls in India

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. – Isaiah 1:17

Neglect – the word makes us cringe. If not, then it might do us well to examine our lives once again in the reflection of God’s Word. He is so clear in His teaching of how we are to live. I am so thankful for that because my tendency is to be fuzzy-boundaried – spreading myself too thin, giving precious little to anyone, and then retreating exhausted into the comfy fortress of my home sweet home.

Would you walk with me through this quick journey of sorting out what it is to NOT be neglectful? The one area I don’t intend to focus on is neglect of self – either body or soul. My sense is that when we lean into the urging of God’s Spirit in ministering to others, our own lives are so altered that we are the ones most benefitted by Him (Luke 6:38).

To not be neglectful is to incline ourselves, to lean in, to carry through, to attend, to be intentional, to purpose to:

1) Love* the Lord our God with all our heart. – The Great Commandment

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” – Matthew 22:36-38

When our lives are infused by our love for God, we begin our day with Him and end our day with Him. As He speaks to us through His Word, the Spirit, the church, and our circumstances, we become more and more in tune with Who He is and how He is working in us and around us. It’s not ordering our lives as “God, then, family, then job” – it is all God – at the center and permeating all of life. Let’s savor that a moment…all God.

2) Love* your neighbor as yourself. – 2nd Part of the Great Commandment

“And the second [great commandment] is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:39-40

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” “Who is my brother?” “Who is my neighbor?” – these questions take us to the heart of NOT being neglectful. We want to choose who this neighbor is. We want to be done when we’ve taken care of “our responsibilities” – our family, our school debt, our house payment. How does that make a Christ-follower any different than a decent law-abiding atheist? God doesn’t define “neighbor” for us because He holds onto the right (as righteous, holy, loving God ) of directing our attention to those for whom He will intervene through us…through us. It could be our own parents or children or it could be that friend who continues to struggle with addiction. Or it could be Bonno, the soon-to-be-orphan son of a beautiful South African mother dying of AIDS.

HIV/AIDS

Blog - Neglect-Orphans

We, as God’s children, are to give God the freedom to love our neighbors through us, in whatever way He chooses… Why this is uncomfortable and convicting is a testament to our journey of being transformed into the image of Christ. What joy He means us to have in being His instruments of peace and redemption. [I am all kinds of prickly over this, myself. Praying for my own undoneness in this.]

3) Love* the Church

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:23-25

The church is flawed because it’s peopled by folks like us. Does it mean we get to desert it? Don’t need an answer for what the Word already states definitively. We’ve all heard the lament “I don’t go to church because it’s full of hypocrites.” What better place for us (hypocrites) to be?! It saddens my heart at how people have been hurt by “church folks”. I have had that experience myself. Church folks do not a church make. Church is the Body of Christ – the people of God – we’re His and on His mission until He takes us Home. If we are followers of Christ we don’t get to step away from His church. We need each other in very real, concrete, daily ways. There are no spectators in the Body of Christ, no second-string Christians, no one on the bench. God means us to be all-in, not just on Sunday, but every day – life on life, living Christ with each other and in our circles of influence. It’s messy, and uncomfortable, and other-worldly beautiful…when we wholly follow Christ together.

4) Love* the Nations – Fulfilling the Great Commission

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. – Matthew 28:16-20

The nations have come to us. Still, there are peoples who will never be near enough to the Gospel message unless someone takes it to them. Through both demonstration and proclamation. We can’t leave this only to some elite group of trained vocational Christians. We are all called to fulfill the Great Commission. Every one of us is commanded to go to our neighbors and to the nations. How does that work? By a daily personal surrender and a Holy Spirit-driven intentionality believing that He will open doors as we step up and grip the handles. By truly loving – in word and deed – neighbors and nations. Here in this post-Christian era we find ourselves, more and more of the church are taking seriously our role in fulfilling the vision Christ gave us in His command: “a multitude from every language, people, tribe and nation worshipping our Lord Jesus Christ” (Revelation 7:9). The Great Commission is not just for pastors or overseas Christian workers – it’s meant for all of us – health care workers, engineers, teachers, stay-at-home moms, store clerks, technicians, students, and retirees…in the marketplace, wherever we are.

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.  But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” – Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus doesn’t call us to save the world…He calls us to respond to Him in obedience, one moment at a time, one life at a time…as we take Him at His word, He saves a world.

Blog - Neglect #2 - Refugees

*Love – used in the fullest sense of that word – the Jesus sense of that word – not in the colloquial sense of that word – “Of course, I love my church, addict brother-in-law, controlling boss, lazy co-worker, Muslim neighbor…but…”

Family First! – Not a Biblical Viewpoint

Embracing the Biblical Tension Between Family and Church Ministry

What Does the Bible Say About Family?

World Hunger – Baptist Global Response

Overcoming Compassion Fatigue

What Does the Bible Say About Poverty?

A Neglected Grace – Family Worship – May I add Household Worship for Friends Who Share Housing?

Worship Wednesday – Call on Jesus – All Things Are Possible – Nicole C. Mullen

Blog - Worship Wednesday - Nicole Mullen

Jesus said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” – Mark 9:23

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

It’s not my usual practice in prayer to call on Jesus. I usually address my prayers to the Father, because that’s how Jesus taught us to pray…and it seems fitting. However, because of the magnificent Oneness of God, we pray to/through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Many times (if not all the time), the Holy Spirit moves us to pray. How thankful I am for that. When my fretful thoughts are corralled into prayer, my heart settles and my mind’s quiet is restored. Thanks be to God. Then there is the huge confidence that comes, knowing that Jesus is somehow One with the Father and His Spirit, and somehow also seated at His right hand, interceding for us. Always interceding for us…having walked this earth, filling his lungs with this air, seeing up-close the brokenness of humanity, and feeling the urge to act selfishly, sinfully…and yet didn’t. Knowing what it’s like to be us, and still wholly GOD. Holy GOD. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Perspective.

Thank You, God, for Your view. Sometimes, when I look at our world, I am overwhelmed. Then, as the Spirit moves in my heart and lifts my head, my vision clears, as You loom large. You care more about what’s happening around us than we ever could. Your arm is not too short to save (Isaiah 59:1).  Nothing is too hard for You (Jeremiah 32:17).  Your love endures forever, Lord (Psalm 136:12). Thank You, God, that You hear us when we call on You (Psalm 145:18; 1 Corinthians 1:2)…and that You never, ever leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8). Father, You are so good to Your children, calling us to Yourself in prayer, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Call on Jesus (from the album Talk About It)

I’m so very ordinary
Nothing special on my own
I have never walked on water
I have never calmed a storm
Sometimes I’m hiding away from the madness around me
Like a child who’s afraid of the dark

But when I call on Jesus
All things are possible
I can mount on wings like eagles and soar
When I call on Jesus
Mountains are gonna fall
‘Cause He’ll move heaven and earth to come rescue me when I call

Weary brother
Broken daughter
Little, widowed mother
You’re not alone
If you’re tired and scared of the madness around you
If you can’t find the strength to carry on

repeat chorus

Call Him in the mornin’
In the afternoon time
Late in the evenin’
He’ll be there
When your heart is broken
And you feel discouraged
You can just remember that He said
He’ll be there

Lyrics

YouTube Video of Call On Jesus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpHSGP6U1Ws

Nicole C. Mullen’s Story Behind the Song – http://www.todayschristianmusic.com/artists/nicole-c-mullen/audio/nicole-c-mullen-story-behind-the-song-call-on-jesus/

Biography of Nicole C. Mullenhttp://www.praisehymn.com/artist.aspx?ArtistCode=NCM

Call Upon the Name of the Lord Jesus

 

Am I My Brother’s Keeper? Hey, What if He’s Not My Brother?! – On Neglect – Part 1

Blog - NeglectThen the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” – Genesis 4:9

We must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?…Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. – Hebrews 2:1-3, 17-18

Neglect/Neglectful – to leave behind, to omit by carelessness or design, to slight, to omit to receive/embrace, to disregard, to be inattentive, to become accustomed to omit what may or ought to be done.

I don’t want a life riddled with gaping holes of neglectfulness. Nor do I want to leave a heritage of neglect. Who does? Yet it can happen ever so subtly in our pursuit of safety and security, circling our wagons tightly around what personally matters most to us. And the rest of the world?

Not My Business

Not My Problem

Not My Family

Not My Job

Not My Call

Not My Responsibility

Not My Fault

Not My Gift

Not My Calling

Not Worth My Time/Money

Not Worth Saving

The most winsome thing I know of God is that He loves the whole world (John 3:16). I don’t want to line out my life…set boundaries… such that some around me are more deserving of grace than others…that some are worthy of aid or intervention but others are not…that some are outside of the Gospel and others, by “accident” of geography or opportunity, are not.  As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we have been given a great salvation – “so great a salvation” that we cannot neglect His intent of it, for our sakes, and for those around us. There is no such thing as benign neglect.*

We, individually and corporately, can’t save the world, as much as we would like. However, our humanity,  with whatever perceived limited capacity we have, was meant to glorify God by our nature and pursuits. We can determine to live lives faithful and pleasing to God – “to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with  God” (Micah 6:8).

If you look at the list of “not’s” above, you may, like I do, see phrases we’ve used before for decisions made and actions not taken. Look now at some of the antonyms for neglect – what it is to not yield to being neglectful – intentional, diligent, constant, loving, inclined, conscious, determined, caring, keeping, dedicated, patient, carrying through, preserving, mindful, attending, cherishing, conserving, celebrating, listening, nourishing, obedient, inspiring, giving, remembering, redeeming, watchful, purposeful.

With so great a salvation that we have received, how could we choose to be any other way toward others?

“To fail to exhibit that we take truth seriously at those points where there is a cost in our doing so, is to push the next generation in the relative, dialectical millstream that surrounds us. ” Francis A. Schaeffer

Denzel Washington, Martin Luther, and Our Strange Neglect of the Bible

Francis A. Schaeffer – a modern-day prophet, author of How Shall We Then Live?

The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence

Do Not Neglect the Weightier Matters of the Law

Charles Spurgeon’s Sermon on Neglecting Our Personal Work in the Kingdom

 Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

Worst-Case Scenarios: The Problem of Neglect

*“Benign” neglect  – a noninterference that is intended to benefit someone or something more than continual attention would.

 

Worship Wednesday – I AM – by Mark Schultz

Blog - Worship Wednesday - I Am

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” – Exodus 3:14

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. – Isaiah 41:10

The I AM declarations of God have captivated humankind through the ages. We are dumbfounded to think of God as I AM – fully present in the forever past, and the forever future, and with us in this very moment as well. We are dumbfounded and awestruck…at the I AM nature of God.

For Jesus to speak of himself in this same way is both fantastic and preposterous, if it were not true. Many in the world think of Jesus as a mere man, or prophet at best, on this earth for only a little more than 3 decades. Yet, his life and his influence are completely in tune with God the Father, such that how One is described resonates with the Other. Not multiple gods, but One – fully God, and, for a brief moment in eternity, fully man. One. I AM.

So many discourses in God’s Word draw us into the moment when human reason collides with the Divine. Here is one:

Then the Jews said to Him…” Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?”  Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God.  Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word.  Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”  Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”  Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”  Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. – John 8:52a, 53-59

Another time, I personally was faced with what Jesus said about himself which conflicted with what I wanted to be true at that time of my life. I was in my 20s, deeply in love with a man of a different religion and path in life. An older friend (for whom I’m grateful forever) reasoned lovingly and courageously with me over my relationships with God and this young man. As much as my emotions wanted something to be so that could not be, her words bringing me back to an I AM passage (John 14:6, below) restored my sight and cleared my vision of what is true.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6

If I counted on this Jesus for myself, for my very life, and, at the same time, magically wished that another way would work for someone I loved, how can both be true? That night, on the floor of that older friend’s house, with the Bible open before us, my heart was filled anew with a fullness of love for the God I AM. [By the way, in that situation, that young man and I parted ways; he who had no use for Jesus married someone of his religion, and I eventually and joyfully married a Jesus-follower.]

In these days when having “no absolutes” is fashionable and logical to some, I am, more than ever, struck with the all-present Creator Redeemer God and our desperate need for Him. Not as a crutch…seriously? A crutch is not what we need…we need Him. As our very breath…our light for the next step…our strong arm in troubled times…our love forever.

Consider God’s declarations of I AM in His Word and those words in Mark Schultz’s song. Worship with me.

 I Am by Mark Schultz*

I am the maker of the Heavens
I am the bright and morning star
I am the breath of all Creation
Who always was
And is to come

I am the One who walked on water
I am the One who calmed the seas
I am the miracles and wonders
So come and see
And follow me
You will know

Chorus:
I am the fount of living water
The risen Son of man
The healer of the broken
And when you cry
I am your savior and redeemer
Who bore the sins of man
The author and perfecter
Beginning and the end
I am

I am the spirit deep inside you
I am the word upon your heart
I am the One who even knew you
Before your birth
Before you were

Chorus:

Before the Earth (I am)
The universe (I am)
In every heart (I am)
Oh, where you are (I am)
The Lord of love (I am)
The King of Kings (I am)
The Holy lamb (I am)
Above all things

Chorus:

Yes, I am almighty God your father
The risen son of man
The healer of the broken
And when you cry
I am your savior and redeemer
Who bore the sins of man
The author and perfecter
Beginning and the end
I am

*Lyrics

YouTube video of I Am

Mark Schultz Music

Photo Credit – Album Cover – The Best of Mark Schultz

The “I AMs” of God Seeking Biblical Truth – The “I AM’s” of God

The “I Am’s” of Christ by Dr. Henry Morris

 

Here I Raise My Ebenezer* – Stones of Remembrance to a Faithful God

2014 Sep MomMom & PopPop Visit 002

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. – James 1:17

What a weekend we’ve had…whew! Over the course of a few days, we’ve seen God answer prayers that have been daily raised to Him for several months. His timing is perfect and I’m reminded of that every time His answers come at what seems, for us, the eleventh hour.

Above my kitchen sink is this small pile of stones. I’ve loved rocks since my childhood trailing around behind a mom who loved rocks. She has moved stones in and around our yard for years, making rock walls and garden paths. We’ve collected stones from around the world, weighing down our bags with precious finds from ocean beaches, mountain trails, forest streams, and rocky deserts. These became stones of remembrance from those trips.

My little pile of rocks has no particular answered prayers attached to the stones. They just remind me, every time I look at them, of the faithfulness of God. It’s not like I always need visual reminders of God because we are surrounded by them. These windowsill sitters do help me to remember His constancy in my life and His care of His people throughout history.

Here…above my kitchen sink…”I raise my Ebenezer*” (from 1 Samuel 7:12) – my stones of remembrance that say, to my heart, “thus far the Lord has helped us.”

You may be waiting for Him to answer a prayer of your own. Don’t let your circumstances blur your vision of God; keep your eyes and heart fixed on Him. Sometime in the days ahead, you will add a “stone” to your heap of gratefulness, as you see Him move…either in the situation, or in you, or both…most probably both.

I leave you with an old hymn written by Robert Robinson who, as a young man, would have destroyed his life, but God had a different plan for him. Robinson wrote beautifully of this faithful, loving God who does not let us go.

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing**

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer*;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

YouTube Video with Lyrics – Come Thou Fount – David Crowder Band

*“Here I Raise my Ebenezer” – origin of word and phrase – Ebenezer –  Hebrew words ’Eben hà-ezer (eh’-ben haw-e’-zer) –  “stone of help”

**Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing – Lyrics & Story Behind the Song

On Thankfulness

20 Bible Verses On Being Thankful – Jarrid Wilson

23 Bible Verses on Gratitude

 

Remembering 9/11 – and the Day Before – A Story of God and a Girl

 

Genessa & April

Today marks the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 bombings in the US, and 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 walking into the elevator, saying, “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 traveled instantly from the States about the 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, 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 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.

Genessa with team

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 13 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 for now, 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 Dennis Jernigan. 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)