Sing Praise Back

My keyboard is often both a great friend and a stubborn mocker. For over two weeks now I have sought, unsuccessfully, for words ample enough to express what is in my heart. I sat down several times and began to type, then I would delete, then type some more, and, yes, you guessed it, delete again. This morning was no different. Yet, thankfully, my keyboard seemed a tad less cranky. So, I thought I would re-visit it once more. I wrapped up in my favorite, cozy blanket, made myself a cup of warm honey tea and ventured into the writing world one more time.

When I surveyed the Psalmist’s words, “sing to the Lord a new song…all the earth rejoice, and be glad…sing to the Lord a new song for He has done marvelous things…” I could not help but want to read it again, and again. So, of course, I had to mark it down. Tonite, we return there together.

These four Psalms bring me such hope, for He truly has remembered His mercy, and He is always ever-so-faithful. To know righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne, and His right hand and Holy arm will forever be victorious, causes me to truly tremble – tremble with rejoicing, tremble in awe and most certainly, tremble with gratitude.

As the almost-blank-page began to fill up with the letters and punctuation, my heart began to lighten a little. I knew the image at the top of the page (that had been patiently waiting in draft limbo) was finally going to make its way into the real world.

Sing soul, rejoice and be glad. Sing soul, tremble and be moved – you have seen His salvation!

When I was out on the Susquehanna that day, I didn’t know the Holy Spirit would bring me on a journey into the Psalms that would move me so. I’m sure thankful He always knows how to make good memories even better ones – and, how He is ever making my life new with His grace and mercy.

Elevation Worship team sings a song that echos my heart entitled, With You. They call on the Lord to consume all that they are with the glory of who He is. There truly is no place I would rather be than in His presence, knowing He is singing over me. The least I can do is sing praises back, He is certainly worthy!

With You by Elevation Worship

House Hunting

House hunting – two words that can unload buckets of stress into a person’s life. As you travel from domain to domain in search of the perfect fit for your family, sometimes discouragement has a tendency to creep in. Especially when you have seen 26 houses in just five short weeks – God love our realtor’s heart! Nonetheless, it is difficult to settle when your mind and heart are finicky, and you are terrified of making the wrong choice. What should be a time of excitement and fun with your spouse turns into frustration and unrest. But yesterday, my Father arrested my racing thoughts and calmed me with Psalm 37.

There is so much comfort in trusting Him to lead the way. Deciding to find our delight centered in His truth and grace brings a new joy and a hope that will never leave the seeker of God ashamed.

Taking refuge in the mercy of His omniscient way wraps one’s mind in a warm blanket of heavenly peace, and rest fills the soul full.

Teaching me to wait proves to be a full-time job for Him, I’m sure because I have this crazy tendency to be impatient. But, isn’t it just like the Potter to use everyday things in life to mold us to be more malleable ?!

This same Potter holds the clay, always. And, because He holds the keys to the Kingdom, why would I ever fret about an earthly home? He holds those keys too.

Life will forever be filled with “house hunting” type lessons, nevertheless, resting in the same hands that hold the heavens and me is more than enough to bring calm.

Knowing Him

Sometimes, the distant (and recent) past turn me into an incapacitated pillar of salt, much like Lot’s wife. Stormie Omartian says it like this, “…even the good things of your past can keep you from allowing God to do a new thing now. If we get locked into what we did before, we may miss what God wants to do now.” He has a divine plan for our lives; looking back, building our expectations either on past failures or past successes, only keeps us stuck.

The great hall of faith – Hebrews 11 – can refresh one’s perspective. These folks could have turned back to the country they came from, they had opportunity, yet they didn’t. I want to be like these great witnesses of faith, going out, serving Him, even when I don’t know where He is taking me (v. 8). Being willing to choose affliction, and daily esteem the reproach of Christ, knowing that what He has for me is far greater than anything this world has to offer (v. 25). Oh that I would learn to receive His plan for my life with peace (v. 30), resting in the sure promise that His will is always for my good.

He is forever doing a new thing in our lives, He will even be doing a new thing when I am on my deathbed.

His creativity and power are endless. It is my call to, in faith, be a blessing to others – and, my great privilege as His child to worship Him. There is endless wisdom when we lean on Him in all situations for guidance and help (v. 21.)

Looking unto Jesus, the one who endured the cross joyfully, may I run the race that has been assigned to me – letting go of what I think I know, and taking hold of that which Christ Jesus has already taken hold of for me.

Robert J. Morgan asserts, “Relationships aren’t static. They are either growing richer or leaner with passing years.” Oh that my years with Christ would be more rich than lean – living in the fresh moments of His new mercies rather than my expectations and past experiences – getting to know my Savior more intimately day by day.

I am finding drawing more closely to Him than anything else is paramount in my walk this side of eternity. He is so much more than we can comprehend; it will take an eternal walk to even begin to know Him. I’m thankful He gave us that with Calvary.

At the end of my journey I long to be found among those precious names in the hall of faith – with His face always before me, His testimony in my heart, and His praise on my lips. And, as Abraham was, may I be counted a friend of God.

Elevation Worship

Stay Salty

The world’s pull is subtle. It’s insidious tendrils never appear as a Goliath in size but are just as mammoth in the potential destruction they hold. The world will siphon off our strength when we are looking to anything or anyone other than Christ. Whether you are a Pastor, Sunday School teacher, leader, mom, dad, lay-person, teacher, banker, any profession – all walks of life for a Christian are ministerial in nature – we are called to approach our lives from a Biblical perspective. Everything we do is to be filtered through the truth and will of His Word. His promises are directly related to our successes (and failures.) When we are obedient and walk in His ways, His promise is to provide, protect and bless. His promise is not to keep us from trials or hardships – only to strengthen us and keep us in tact as we face them. His strength is perfected in our weaknesses, and we are made more like Him through every circumstance when we look to Him and not to the world. When you keep bad company, it will rub off on you, eventually. When you are worldly-minded, your heart is focused on goals more than God and self more than service. Worldly-mindedness is a sneaky, controlling love that calls a person to be constantly endeavoring to attain and accomplish what the customs of man and his practices of life beckon for. It is totally devoid of the truest godly pursuits of peace, good and God’s glory and has none of Christ’s savor – none of His divine light. We are to be salt and light in this world. Losing His savor is easy to do when we change our perspectives from the truth and light of His great promises to the shadows and emptiness of the world’s deceit. Stay salty fellow laborers, serve and seek His way – it will be worth it! Leaving a legacy of surrender to the Lord, and His will is the best thing we can leave behind. Mark Batterson writes, “Every prayer we pray, every gift we give, every sacrifice we make, and every step of faith we take is an inheritance left to the next generation. And our prayers live on, long after we die, in their lives.” Oh that I would be that kind of woman, that kind of teacher, that kind of servant – Biblically minded and seasoned with His savor!

Sing Soul, Sing

Today is a new beginning, a chance to live free,

Not bound with bonds of sin and shame.

When the enemy taunts my soul these hours,

and dares to accuse my earthly name,

May I look to You,

my heart behold the empty Cross and vacant tomb,

and trust,

My pardon was paid.

I’m no longer a slave.

I’ve been cleansed by Your blood.

White as snow, no more condemned,

or ensnared by sin’s unholy arm,

I am a child of God, set free to live, blessed to sing a new song.

Sing soul, sing.

Sing to the One who bled and died and give Him all your days,

Glory and honor to the King of Kings,

my Friend,

Jesus, be always praised!

By Faith

By faith – two simple yet powerful words.

By faith the walls of Jericho fell.

By faith a harlot found redeeming life.

By faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice.

By faith Enoch found divine favor.

By faith Noah built an Ark of salvation.

By faith Abraham obeyed.

By faith Sarah conceived promise in her barren womb.

By faith Isaac and Jacob blessed nations.

By faith Joseph remembered.

By faith Jochebed hid Moses as a baby.

By faith Moses led His people.

By faith Abigail prepared.

By faith Esther found boldness.

By faith Joseph raised a son not his own.

By faith Gideon conquered an army.

By faith David slew a giant.

By faith John preached in the wilderness.

By faith the disciples followed Jesus.

By faith Paul proclaimed the gospel in the midst of persecution.

By faith the church was formed.

By faith kingdoms are subdued, promises are obtained, works of righteousness are accomplished, violence is quenched, ways of escape are made, weakness become strength, battles end in victory, resurrection of life happens.

Faith is not logical when approached with anything outside of a biblical worldview. It is the substance (hypostasis, substructure; foundation, assurance) of things hoped for and the evidence (elanchos, conviction; proof) of things not yet seen.

By faith we can be certain God’s word alone spoke the world into being, and He still molds clay into redemption.

When looking through the eyes of faith, struggles and trials hold as much joy as blessings do. Dreams find hope. Suffering finds meaning. Joy finds grateful hearts. Relationships find contentment. Faith births champions of grace. Faith is a producer of overcomers.

By faith – two simple yet powerful words, indeed.

It Is Written

It was a summer day, 4 years ago this past June, when the Lord gently reminded me His Word is always enough. My mind had been racing around the track of “what if.” With every turn, I felt the enemy trying to bump me into a head-on collision with despair. Nevertheless, I said to myself, “what time I am afraid, I will trust in You Lord.” I did what I could, I slowed down and asked my Father to take control.

I am thankful He is a divinely articulate conversationalist, because often I don’t know what to say.

His voice was gentle as He began to speak. Matthew 4 held sweet power and consolation for me that June morning – still does today. As I envisioned Christ being led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, I couldn’t help but feel an odd sense of relief. Friends, the Son of God understands what it is like to have the enemy racing beside you. He knows how it is when the onslaught of attacks are relentless. On this lone wilderness trail, Satan attempted to cause Christ to abandon the will of God – three different times. Yet, “It is written,” preceded each thing Christ had to say. By temptation number three, Jesus was over it! He claimed all authority saying, “Get thee hence satan, it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve,” and just like that, the enemy abandoned his lane of offense, and the angels came to minister to Jesus.

The beautiful truth is there is great power in the Voice of God. Anything the devil can throw our way is always subject to the authority of God.

Years ago when the Lord bled His resurrection power into my heart, I began to recall portions of His truth. Today, I recount them again.

I know that all things will work together for my good because I love Him, and I am called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28)
I know that He is faithful to establish me and will guard me from the enemy of my soul. (2 Thes.3:3)
I know that there is no place I can go that He will not be there. (Ps.139)
I know that when I lean unto Him, acknowledging Him in all my ways, He will direct my paths. (Ps. 3:5-6)
I know He will keep my foot from slipping; He never sleeps on the job. (Ps. 121:3)
I know my name is written in the palms of His nail-scarred hands. (Is. 49:16)
I know that the trying of my faith is a good thing – it molds within me perseverance and hope, and His hope is all I need. (James 1:3)
I know that I am to behave justly, love mercy and walk humbly before Him – this is what is required of me. (Micah 6:8)

I know how precious His thoughts are, they are so vast, we could never count them. And even when I come to the end, I will still be with Him. (Ps. 139)

This morning, as I fix my eyes on His Word, I can taste the powerful promises of God on my lips. I pick up my sword and exclaim, “Go away Satan, it is written – we will finish the race, and fight the good fight, for He who has begun a good work is faithful and just to complete it.” And, just like that, the presence of God ministers peace to my heart once again.

Let it Go

It appears to me I can take a long time in learning – even the simplest things. I am thankful my Father is a patient teacher. Lately (and by lately, I mean the past 8 years) there has been a common theme to these lessons – stop being a hoarder. Cease being an hoarder of negativity and fears and a packrat of past successes and defeats. Stop being a keeper of hurts and wrongs.There is beautiful consolation in knowing He loves us and is unwilling to let us stagnate in the muck of the past. God longs to make life a glorious adventure for us, if only we would “stop clinging to old ways.”

I am terribly guilty of hanging on to all kinds of junk. So believe me, I know how hard it is to let go. Nevertheless, with each peek into God’s word, I pray to get a little better at releasing all to the Father, so He may clean the dirtiest closet in my heart and unclutter the attic of my mind.

What a promise of sweet comfort it is to know the Holy Spirit is a fabulous collector and housekeeper. It amazes me how God takes all our brokenness – all our junk- and makes our testimony a treasure, if only we would let it go.

A Choice to Remember

If you have heard me speak, or known me for any length of time, you know I talk alot about perspective – probably because mine is constantly in need of re-adjustment. If I am to be honest with you now, my focus was in need of help today. These truths are what I found when the Lord shifted my gaze:

Marriage. It is a mix of ups and downs, wins and losses, tears and laughs, fights and kisses, conversations and silence, and it is most certainly full of surprises – good and bad.

Although we know better than to do so, it is easy to get caught in the “comparison trap” when it comes to certain areas of life. Many of us, sometimes, try to line our marriages up side by side with social media posts and the images of couples presenting their best selves to the public. I, too, have been guilty of only wanting others to see the good, because really, who wants to see my ugly anyway, right? Yet, admitting how we struggle, get upset, and still love each other at the same time is a beautiful thing.

Instead of lining our expectations up with what God says we are to be for one another, we are so easily distracted by what we think we are supposed to be. Envy and unrealistic expectations lead to error in judgement – and disgruntled spouses.

The Lord wants more goodness for our union than we could ever imagine. But friend, marriage is work. Love is arduous at times. I am finding marriage takes a creative kinda grit, the pursuit of remembering, and a surrendered soul of prayer. Micah gave wise instruction I am finding works in marriage as well – do what’s right, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

My yesterday began with “fights” but, thankfully, ended with goodnight “kisses” of forgiveness. And so, today as my sweetheart was away with our Senior, at her college orientation, I made a choice to remember how I love him and how he loves me – and, most importantly, how God loves us both.

Copy. Paste. Gone.

For a few weeks, I hadn’t written much, simply because I had been flailing and whining my way through a crazy tempest. My irrational mind and deceiving heart often cause me to drown in the deep sea of forgetfulness. I grow fixated on my own plan, my vision of what life is supposed to look like. It then becomes easy to lose sight of the many ways the Father has blessed me. And, in His perfect (and often challenging) way, He reminds me to slow down, and start all over at the beginning. So, it was no surprise when, after thirty minutes of struggling to type my thoughts out, all my writing disappeared.

Copy. Paste. Done. Easy concept, right?

Well, however easy it may be, one should be careful when attempting to perform the edits. Otherwise, she may lose all her work. And yes, the she is me. Those thirty minutes worth of labored thoughts vanished.

However, maybe, just maybe, losing it all is what it takes to gain a little perspective – at least this has been the case with me on my journey.

Learning how to navigate through a storm is often more about taking shelter than standing in the rain dancing like no one’s watching.

So, I put my typing gadets away, and sat with my Bible open. I was drawn over and over to verses and passages He had been giving me for over a year and a half. And, with each stroke of my pen to the paper, His promises etched deeper into my soul.

I love how He uses His Word to protect me, lead me, move me, calm me and, my oh my, how He uses it to remind I am His and He is mine.

He redirected my scattered mind and war-torn spirit back to the basics – behave justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

Remain steadfast in service to Christ.

Stay obedient to His ways.

I believe it was Pastor Paul Sheppard who said that we are only responsible for our obedience, not the result – that’s God’s job. I am thankful His mercy and grace are endless and that His plans for us are good. And, I’m thankful those plans sometimes include ‘copy, paste, gone.’ Those moments illuminate our desperate need for a Savior who is always a refuge of grace, and quite honestly, a fantastic editor.