He served God’s Purpose

In my lifetime, I have read dozens of “how to” books, full of advice for finding my best life. A stand-out that is memorable is Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.  Some were worth the time to read, if not memorable. Despite my best efforts and the good advice of others I know this:  I only live my best life when my will is aligned with the purposes of God.  This week I was struck by a line in the book of Acts – “When David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep.” (Acts 13:36, NIV)

It’s a question I ponder – am I living to serve God’s purposes for my time?  

 We cannot aspire to that lofty goal unless we are transformed by the Spirit. The Christian life is more than a self-help program. It is a Spirit experience, God working in us. When we are loved by God and love Him in return, trusting Christ Jesus with our life and destiny, letting Him be Lord, He promises something amazing: He will “do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power! ” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV) 

Let’s not confuse ‘serving God’s purpose in our generation’ with religiosity or serving on church committees.  It is quite possible to remain a miserable person living far below your God-given potential while sitting through church. God’s Church has an irreplaceable place in the Christian life but true change is personal, starting in the individual’s heart.

Only when we experience, by faith, the Gospel, the daily inner transformation of eternal life, will the purpose of God be revealed. We love God by surrendering ourselves to Him and accepting Christ’s love and mercy by faith, by pondering His mighty works worshipfully, and by allowing the Spirit to move deeply in us. That inner work will surely produce spiritual fruit – love joy, peace – the evidence of His life.

Receiving God’s grace and practicing the disciplines of the Spirit as taught in the Scripture opens the door to maximum living, making us into the best possible person we can be! Because of Christ, we can be forgiving, gentle, and loving. In Him we find that hope that is so critically important to keeping us from becoming bitter, broken, or cynical by life’s disappointments.  The Creator of the Universe points His Spirit in us and inspires us to be creative, part of the answer for the questions of this broken planet.

Are you trying to ‘make a life’ apart from God? Do your efforts come up short of your expectations?  Are you asking questions like that rich young noble asked of Jesus: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  The answer remains the same today as it was then – receive the kingdom of God by faith, making Jesus Lord of life and accepting His grace for each day.  We walk it out and if we are led by the Spirit, when our race is run, it will be said of us what was said of David: He “served God’s purpose in his own generation.”

Thank God for the potential He’s given you.
Ask Him to inspire you to be the best you can be in His grace.
Never just settle for what is easy, or natural!
Let God make a masterpiece of your life.

Our word from the Word,  is a prayer that Paul offered for those he loved in the church in Ephesus. I pray it for you. Receive it with your amen “I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength— that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.

Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19, The Message) Amen.
____________

MASTERPIECE

Heartbreak’s a bitter sound
Know it well, it’s ringing in my ears
And I can’t understand
Why I’m not fixed by now,
Begged and I have pleaded
Take this pain, but I’m still bleeding
Heart trusts you for certain
Head says it’s not working
I’m stuck here still hurting

But You tell me
You’re making a masterpiece
You’re shaping the soul in me
You’re moving where I can’t see
And all I am, is in Your hands
You’re taking me all apart
Like it was your plan from the start
To finish your work of art, for all to see
You’re making a masterpiece

Guess I’m Your canvas
Beautiful, black and blue
Painted in mercy’s hue
I don’t see past this
But you see me now, who I’ll be then
There at the end, standing there as
Your Masterpiece

You’re shaping the soul in me
You’re moving where I can’t see
And all I am, is in Your hands
You’re taking me all apart
Like it was your plan from the start
To finish your work of art, for all to see
You’re making a masterpiece

You’re making a masterpiece
Heart trust you for certain
Head says it’s not working
You’re making a masterpiece
You’re shaping the soul in me
You’re moving where I can’t see
And all I am, is in Your hands
You’re taking me all apart
Like it was your plan from the start
To finish your work of art, for all to see
You’re making a masterpiece
You’re making a masterpiece

I’ll be Your masterpiece

Danny Gokey

Sound the Alarm

Somebody said, “The problem with being a prophet is that nobody likes them.” That made me laugh. Prophets, those who hear the Lord’s Word and speak on His behalf, are given an unenviable task of calling for change and pointing out failure. We love the comforting words of the Gospel, the worshipful words of the Psalms, don’t we? But, oh those prophets.  They go on and on about judgment, death, and destruction.  Do you, like me, tend to leave them unread, unheard?  They do have a message for 21st century Christians: hard words, but important words, that make us sit up and take notice of the ways of our Holy God.

In my Scripture reading this morning, I went to one of those books, the work of Joel. He left us a little book, just 3 chapters, full of thunderous sermons. He lived in Judah about 800 years before Christ. The nation experienced a plague of locusts that stripped fields bare, leaving people and livestock on the brink of starvation. In those locusts, Joel saw a foreshadowing of a far worse plague, the invasion of foreign armies that God would allow.

He saw the decay of faith and, moved by the Spirit, cried out – “Sound the alarm in Jerusalem! Raise the battle cry on my holy mountain! Let everyone tremble in fear because the day of the Lord is upon us. It is a day of darkness and gloom, a day of thick clouds and deep blackness. Suddenly, like dawn spreading across the mountains, a great and mighty army appears. Nothing like it has been seen before or will ever be seen again.” (Joel 2:1-2, NLT)

As much as we may recoil from that type of words, we need them in our time, too. America, much like ancient Judah, hates those who raise their voices to call for a return to the Lord. “Shut up. Go home. Tell someone else your bad news.” But, the truth is, an alarm needs to be raised, a prophetic warning of the destruction that will inevitably follow rejection of the ways of the Lord God. When we are consumed with ourselves, without spiritual vision and values, we need brave souls who know God’s voice and fearlessly sound the alarm.

As I read Joel’s message I saw words of hope, too. He speaks of God’s faithfulness, His desire to save those who will turn to Him, leaving sinful ways. “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.” (Joel 2:12-13, NLT)

It is a terrible mistake to take stock of our spiritual poverty and decide that there is no future, that we are headed without remedy for the junk heap of history.  Instead of exclusively railing on the failures ‘out there’  I believe the better choice today is for Christians to return to prayer, to genuine repentance, so that they can lead the way to spiritual renewal.

This nation I love is intoxicated with Self, staggering like a drunk, consumed with pleasure, many of us bent on doing our own thing with no thought to what is ‘right’ or ‘just’ or ‘good.’ Our worst sins are Self-will and disregard of God. Justice is compromised. Corruption is rampant. We are indulgent of ourselves, in most every way imaginable.

Americans who enjoy unparalleled wealth and power have made things their idols, a materialistic people. We are pleasure mad, chasing happiness in ever more diversions. Should anyone even suggest that it might be wise to pause and reflect, that we could benefit from humility, that God waits for us to ‘come home,’ there are only insults and dismissive words for that prophet. 

My prayer is that God, the Spirit, will place the spirit of the prophets in His people, that we will let His words come alive in us, that we will, ourselves, turn to Him, leading the way to repentance. Then, we will be able to turn the corner from judgment to hope. “Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rains he sends are an expression of his grace. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring. The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with wine and olive oil.” (Joel 2:23-24, NLT)

The words of Joel I love most promise the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Who refreshes us like spring rains renew the earth. 

Here is a word from the Word. May we have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to us.  ““Then after I have poured out my rains again, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. In those days, I will pour out my Spirit even on servants, men and women alike. “I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth—blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon will turn bloodred before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives.

And anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. There will be people on Mount Zion in Jerusalem who escape, just as the Lord has said. These will be among the survivors whom the Lord has called.” (Joel 2:28-32, NLT)

_______________

Send Revival Start With Me

We’re looking to Your promise of old
That if we pray and humble ourselves
You will come and heal our land
You will come
You will come

We’re looking to the promise You made
That if we turn and look to Your face
You will come and heal our land
You will come
You will come to us

Lord send revival start with me
For I am one of unclean lips
And my eyes have seen the King
Your glory I have glimpsed
Send revival start with me

Matt Redman © 1996 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

Jeep Community

Ten years ago I bought my first Jeep Wrangler. When I drove past other Wrangler drivers they raised their left hand from the steering wheel, usually just the fingers, keeping their thumb hooked onto the wheel, and they waved. What was going on? Did I have a light out? Was something wrong with my vehicle? Soon I realized that there is a community among Jeep owners, particularly Wrangler drivers. That left hand wave? It’s a thing, really, called the “Jeep Wave.” (Go ahead, Google it.) Now I do it, too. See a Jeep headed my way?  Yep, I raise my left hand and with a wave I acknowledge my place in the Jeep Community.

Far more significantly, I belong to another community, the Church. I became part of that family through faith, at the invitation of Jesus. “So you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians—you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28, NLT)  This passage reveals God’s plan for His Church, a unique community in this world. Our affinity is not built around ownership, heritage, or race. We share God’s life in the Spirit, which erase the lines that too often separate people in this world.

We need to hear the voice of the Spirit in this time where so many things are tearing apart the world in which we live.
We are not white or black Christians. We are ‘in Christ.’
We are not rich or poor Christians. We are ‘in Christ.’
We are not male or female Christians. We are ‘in Christ.’ 
We are not politically progressive or conservative Christians. We are ‘in Christ.’ 

Honestly, I’ll admit that those statements are so much easier to write than to live. Deep suspicion about others and their motives is part of life these days. Power is worshipped as the means of gaining equality which makes authentic conversations impossible. If we attempt dialogue we will be viewed as a collaborator with the ‘other side’ no matter the issue. If you agree that black lives matter then you must be anti-police. But, it is equally true that if you say that blue lives matter your good faith in racial matters is suspect. If you say that you are committed to the sanctity of human life then you must hate women. And so it goes …  the greater tragedy being that the Church, God’s family, allows these issues to creep in and divide those who are called to be ‘one’ – people deeply committed to Him and to one another.

Christian community is radically important to our spiritual health. We cannot  be all that God intends without being in communion with His Body, sharing our spiritual gifts, living life together, supporting, strengthening, and living the Gospel of Christ in our world. The calling is just too big for one person to even attempt alone. The truth is that a solitary Christian just cannot be. “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:4-5, NIV)  

Post-COVID America has even less place for ‘church’ it seems than it did a year ago.  For reasons I have yet to understand, large numbers of people who claim faith in Jesus are attempting a faith without fellowship. That choice is one of spiritual peril. We do not just enjoy each other’s company, we need to be committed, working at sharing the life of God in our worship and service. Our unity must go beyond a polite nod or a convenient moment that we fit into our schedule.  

Yes, the Church and your church, has issues!  Politics has crept in, an ugly perversion of the mission of Christ. Corruption is too often allowed to go unchallenged. Misfocused missional statements turn Christians inward rather than outward to serve. Dysfunction makes some churches places of ongoing conflict to such an extent that we might wonder why bother at all?

But, for all those problems, there is also a rich fellowship of Believers, real love, and the fulfilling work of redemption that is possible when we become His Body rather than a club or association. My challenge to you today is to renew your commitment to Christ and His Church. Work at it! Make gathering a priority. Begin conversations about BIG IDEAS of service and mission, daring to turn dreams into reality as the Spirit empowers.  Let’s repent for our pride, our desire to be served, our insistence on uniformity of conviction. Instead let us pray that we will learn how to be ‘one’ in Him.

Can you receive the directive of the Word? Will you humbly accept His call? “And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s people, let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:21-25, NLT)

Now that is real community, promising far more than the Jeep Wave!

_____________

We Will Stand

(I love this old 1980’s song with a timeless message.
Let Russ Taff’s artistry encourage you to stand together with other Christians.)

Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand
Why we pull away from each other so easily
Even though we’re all walking the same road?
Yet we build dividing walls
Between our brothers and ourselves.

But, I don’t care what label you may wear,
If you believe in Jesus you belong with me!
The bond we share is all I care to see,
And we’ll change the world forever,
If you will join with me,
Join and sing, sing.

You’re my brother, you’re my sister,
So take me by the hand.
Together we will work until He comes.
There’s no foe that can defeat us,
When we’re walking side by side,
As long as there is love,
We will stand!

The day will come when we will be as one
And with a mighty voice
Together we will proclaim that
Jesus, Jesus is King.
It will echo through the earth.
It will shake the nations.
And the world will see, see that;

You’re my brother, you’re my sister,
So take me by the hand.
Together we will work until He comes.
There’s no foe that can defeat us,
When we’re walking side by side,
As long as there is love,
We will stand!

James Hollihan | Russ Taff | Tori Taff © 1983 Word Music, LLC (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

God’s possibilities

I serve a God of possibilities! He made me in His image, capable of creativity, with abilities to build, to know, to love. In Him I find purpose, meaning, and hope.  He is not my ‘good luck charm.’ It is a tragic misunderstanding of God’s promises that causes some people to of God kind of like a lucky rabbit’s foot. Remember those?  In the past (does anybody do this anymore?) people sometimes carried a preserved rabbit’s foot. Allegedly the charm would bring ‘good luck’ to its owner. Silly? Of course.

Is God your good luck charm, only brought to mind when you need healing, or financial resources, or help with a wayward kid, or an advantage in some effort in life?  That is not faith, that is superstition. Let’s explore that together. Following a discussion about salvation and serving God, the disciples felt overwhelmed, aware of their inability. Jesus told them “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26, NLT)  That phrase finds its way into many a discussion when life is hard, when a new project is proposed. Often it is reset into a context of positive thinking, changed from “with God all things are possible” into “since God is with me, all things are possible…for me.”  The focus shifts from God’s leading to our desires, and HE becomes our good luck charm.

More than a few people have told me that their faith has collapsed, that they are giving up on God.  The conversation goes something like this. “Pastor, I have faithfully gone to church, tried to live by the teaching of the Bible, said my prayers, gave in the offering, and did my best to be good, but God let my _____ (fill in the blank with some major disappointment). So, I do not believe anymore.”  I feel their heartbreak, empathize with their disappointment, and wonder how they came to think that they should be exempt from the common human experiences that include things like sickness and death.

The God of possibilities invites you and me to know His will, to seek to be led by Him, to trust Him to create new things out of the rubble of life in which we sometimes find ourselves.

Did Daniel’s faith exempt him from ‘bad luck?’ Not at all. In fact, his faith caused him great difficulty in the short term when his prayer life made him a criminal, breaking the rule of the king!  Serving God led him into the lion’s den! But, he continued to trust and God used that horrible night to increase Daniel’s stature in the Babylonian empire.  

Paul’s faith caused him to become a traveling messenger of the Gospel.  God asked him to endure years of hard travel from one end of the Roman Empire to the other as he built the Church. As he faithfully served God, he also experienced persecution, shipwreck, and imprisonment.  Did he grow disillusioned?  Not at all.  In fact he declares, “we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:1-4, NIV)

God doesn’t exist to be our personal good luck charm. He asks us to make Him our “Lord of life” and promises to walk with us through each day leading us until we are welcomed into our eternal home.  IF we insist that God keep us from all troubling situations, if we attempt to use prayers to ward off every unpleasant thing, that ‘faith’ will fail because it is not really faith in God; it is faith in our ability to use God for our own purposes.   

Here is an amazing fact about true faith – God does do things in us, for us, and around us that are ‘impossible,’ in the words of one my favorite passages – “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”  (Eph 3:20)  This is the God of possibilities! 

Disciple, don’t allow your faith to be reduced to the status of a silly superstition! Make faith in God the center, that by which all things in your life are measured, from which all decisions flow. There will be moments when it will seem that God is not present, when prayers go unanswered, when nothing makes sense. Remain faithful!

Here’s a word from the Word. Meditate on the revelation of His majesty, praying for faith to let God truly be God.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:8-12, NIV)

________

Thrive (Casting Crowns reminds us that God is at work!)

Here in this worn and weary land
Where many a dream has died
Like a tree planted by the water
We will never run dry
So living water flowing through
God we thirst for more of You
Fill our hearts and flood our souls
With one desire

Just to know You and to make You known
We lift Your name on high
Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

Into Your Word we’re digging deep
To know our Father’s heart
Into the world we’re reaching out
To show them who You are
Joy unspeakable
Faith unsinkable
Love unstoppable
Anything is possible
We were made to thrive

Mark Hall | Matthew West © 2014 Atlas Holdings (Admin. by Atlas Music Publishing)Highly Combustible Music (Admin. by Atlas Music Publishing) House of Story Music Publishing (Admin. by Atlas Music Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

God’s Counsel for Monday morning

As I thought and prayed at the start of this new week,  the Spirit impressed me with the importance of choosing the direction of my thoughts.

Do you know that you can direct your thoughts?  We cannot let our minds meander down the pathways where the World, the Flesh, or the Devil invite us to go. If we let the troubles of the world that we live in set the tone of our thoughts, we will most likely become anxious or angry given the chaotic situations of life. If we listen to the whining of the sinful nature that begs for indulgence, we will become slaves to the appetites of our bodies. If we listen to the whispers of demons, we will be doubtful, insecure, and without hope!  

What’s the option?  Tune into the Spirit of the Living God! 
The Psalm advises us to “Exult in his holy name; O worshipers of the Lord, rejoice! Search for the Lord and for his strength, and keep on searching.” (Psalm 105:3-4, NLT)  Right now, pray a sentence prayer with me:  “Lord, I thank You for the gifts You have prepared for me today. Amen.”

I closed the sermon at church yesterday with a familiar passage. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9, NIV)

First,  determine where you will go to find joy.  “Rejoice IN THE LORD always.”
Will you look for it in success, in a meal of fine food, or in fantasies of another place?  The Word tells us to celebrate our relationship with the Lord!  Remind yourself, “I am God’s kid! He’s a good God.”  Look up, past the problems, beyond the disappointment, higher – and sing a song that extols the wonder of our God.

Second, tame that urge to take control.  “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” 

Another version tells us to be “moderate.”  God’s tells us we should seek to be equitable, fair-minded, not quick to judge others. Conventional wisdom is that we need to ‘kick butts, power up, and make things happen’ when faced with challenges.  My natural response to life’s challenges is too often one that only increases stress when I attempt to force solutions on others or press them to act as I think best.  When I am not gentle, Jerry replaces Jesus and results are never for His glory. 

This is not an appeal to indifference. But, what a difference it makes for us and others if we are gentle like Jesus, if we start a hard conversation with “Tell me about …” rather than “You better do this now!”

Third, let prayer shape your thoughts.  “By prayer present your requests to God.”  

Make your concerns His concern, He cares for YOU. He will give wisdom, He will guide. Best of all, He promises that if we will pray He will  steady our minds and hearts with a gift of peace that guards us from the fear that will rob us of rest.

Fourth, choose to think the best, not the worst“Whatever pure, lovely, admirable, excellent praiseworthy  – think about such things.”

So of that difficult person at work, you can declare him a fool in your thoughts and create an adversary, or you can think of him as person in need of help and pray God’s grace in his life. Which creates the better outcome?  That hard reality that is part of your life right now can be something you whine about to anyone who will listen or you can go to God and ask Him for strength to carry the weight. Which choice will leave you in a better place by this evening?

God’s Spirit reminds us that we have a choice.  We can exercise faith and expect better things, see the best, and seek out the excellent.  Does this mean we cannot be honest in our evaluations? Not at all.  Are we forbidden from speaking truthfully about gaps and flaws? No.   Even then, we can destroy or build. We can help or hinder. We can encourage shared success.

Set the tone for a better life this Monday morning.  “Rejoice in the Lord.”  Sin and evil oppose the good of God, all the time.  Sickness comes. Heartbreak is inevitable. Friends fail us. Businesses take the hit of down economies. Temptation will roar from the shadows of your mind. Satan will prowl on the perimeter, looking for an opening to attack.  But, through Christ Jesus, we are ‘more than conquerors.’

Here is that passage again, this time from The Message, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible.

“Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (Philippians 4:4-9, The Message)

Come on, Christian, let’s do it, for Christ’s sake!

____________

Good God Almighty
(sing along, find joy in this happy praise)

I can’t count the times
I’ve called Your name some broken night
And You showed up and patched me up
Like You do every time
I get amnesia I forget that You keep coming around
Yeah ain’t no way You’ll ever let me down

Good God Almighty
I hope You’ll find me
Praising Your Name no matter what comes
‘Cause I know where I’d be
Without Your mercy
So I keep praising Your name at the top of my lungs

Tell me is He good (He’s good)
Tell me is He God (He’s God)
He is Good God Almighty

You say Your love goes on forever
That Your mercy never stops
So why would I assume
You’d be somebody that You’re not
Like sun in the morning
I know You’re gonna be there every day
So what on earth could make me be afraid

Praise Him in the morning
Praise Him in the noon time
Praise Him when the sun goes down
Love Him in the morning
Love Him in the noon time
Love Him when the sun goes down

Jesus in the morning
Jesus in the noon time
Jesus when the sun goes down
Jesus in the morning
Jesus in the noon time
Jesus when the sun goes down

Ben Glover | David Crowder | Jeff Sojka
© 2021 9t One Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

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CCLI License # 810055

Become rich in your thoughts

Someone donated several old Bibles to the church yesterday.  I could see that one of them had notes tucked between the pages. I curiously flipped through the old Bible and in addition to the notes I found three $2 bills. I chuckled as I wondered which most people would value most – the money or the Words in the Book?  

The Bible shaped the world I know. The Word has had a profound effect on America since her founding days. Even Thomas Jefferson, who was a skeptic that rejected the supernatural stories of the Scripture, regularly read from the Gospels every day.

Mark Noll writes that “at least until sometime in the late nineteenth century or early in the twentieth, the Bible existed as the most coherent, the most widely respected, and the most powerful of those means by which American ordered their daily existence and made sense of the universe in which they lived.

Do you know the Scriptures?
Does the revelation of God in those pages shape your life?
Is your life enriched by the Truth of God’s revelation of Himself?

Each morning, I open the Word to read – sometimes only a verse, other times a whole story, or an entire book. These CoffeeBreak reflections generally are expressions of those meditations. My mind returns to what I read through the day and I invite the Word to inform my choices, as I draw on the lessons and principles of the Bible. Some passages yield more treasure than others!  I live with a worldview shaped by the Scripture which forms my thoughts. The Bible is a source of guidance that helps me choose my way when I am faced with two roads.

The Psalmist asks – “How can a young man keep his way pure?”
Then, he answers –
“By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.” (Psalm 119:9-12, NIV)

The Bible, when properly read and studied, will transform us. When read often and with prayer for understanding from the Holy Spirit the Word will reach deep into our thought processes and speak to our daily conduct.  

Let me caution you about an approach to the Bible that is foolish, superstitious even. Some people open their Bible and find a single verse, drawn out of context, to justify an action or thought. That’s called ‘proof texting!’ It can lead to bizarre conclusions. Some study the Bible with a purely literary point of view. It is true that thoughtful study of the historical context and literary forms of the text can be interesting and enlightening. But, simply knowing the Book as one might study other great literature misses the power of the inspired Word.  

Thankfully, God gives us His Spirit to help us to understand the Bible.  If we open it prayerfully, ready to learn, He will teach us. One does not have to be an intellectual or have a degree in ancient Semitic languages to be enriched by the Word. Yes, there is a necessary place for scholarly study, for comparing our interpretation of passages with the understandings of others.  But we must never allow ourselves to be convinced that the Bible is beyond our ability to read and comprehend especially given the modern language translations that make the text more accessible.

There is a blessing that keeps many Believers from the Scripture. What is it?  There are thousands of Christian books available which cause many to read much about the Bible, without ever reading the Bible itself.  Others are content to hear a Sunday sermon from the Word (Oh, God help us to fill our pulpits with the Word!). Having help to understand what is written in the sacred Text is a blessing, but each of us needs to interact with the Word ourselves when possible.

Dr. Timothy Johnson in his book, Finding God In The Questions, relates how he was looking for Jesus Christ, even though he had been a Christian Believer for years. He went back to reading the Gospels carefully and found that the Jesus he discovered again in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John was a Man far removed from the pictures and concepts presented in many books and even sermons he had heard in church buildings. He found a new wonder over the “surprising teachings” of Jesus.

Believer, get the Scripture into your mind and heart. Make reading of the Bible text itself a daily practice. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find a sparkling gem of new understanding on the first day. Don’t try to read too much. Don’t go for the hard passages first. Instead, pray for the Spirit to be at work, and then sit down to read.

If you’re new to Bible reading, start with Luke‘s story of Jesus’ ministry.
Break away some mornings to read a Psalm, aloud, if possible. 
Read the story of the first generation of Christians told in Acts.
Learn the majesty of our faith in Christ Jesus from Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Get a modern translation (or two) of the Scripture: one like the New International Version (NIV) or the New Living Translation (NLT) that will eliminate the road blocks inherent in English that is 4 centuries old.

When you read a passage that defies a ready understanding or application, allow for some ambiguity! After all, the Bible is not a textbook, it is a revelation of the Almighty, Eternal God!

Here’s a word from the Word.   “There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another — showing us truth, exposing our rebellion,   correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.”  (2 Timothy 3:15-17, The Message)

By the way, there is a great app that is free for your smartphone or tablet. YouVersion™ will let you access many different translations of the Bible without charge. It will provide daily reading guides. If you’re not a good reader, many of the texts come with a voice option that will read the text to you aloud as you follow along.  I highly recommend it to you for Scripture intake.

_______________

Ancient Words

Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart
O let the ancient words impart

Words of life words of hope
Give us strength help us cope
In this world where’er we roam
Ancient words will guide us home

Ancient words ever true
Changing me changing you
We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart

Holy words of our faith
Handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice
O heed the faithful words of Christ

Martyr’s blood stains each page
They have died for this faith
Hear them cry through the years
Heed these words and hold them dear

We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart
O let the ancient words impart

Lynn DeShazo © 2001 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music, David C Cook))

CCLI License # 810055

Get real!

On my kitchen table there is a bowl of apples. More than once a guest in my home has reached out and picked one up only to realize they are not real. They look authentic, even close up, but they are just decorative. They serve no fruitful purpose!  Let me ask a pointed question – are you a real Christian?  I invite you to think about spiritual reality, becoming a fruitful Believer.

I drove past a local orchard and stopped along the road to look over the trees covered in white blossoms, the promise of fruit to come. The farmer has done his work, pruning, clearing away the underbrush, but it is the LIFE in the trees that will ultimately bring on the apples and pears that are the purpose of that place.  My untrained eye could not discern what kind of trees they are, right now. In a few months the fruit hanging from the branches will be irrefutable evidence if they are pear, peach, or apple trees.

Are you a fruitful Christian?  

Jesus says “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned for greater fruitfulness by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5, NLT)

IF we are intimately connected to Him, by faith, and ‘remain’ (abide) in Him consistently, the life that flows from Him will cause fruit to grow in us. What kind of fruit? “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT)  We need not stress, strain, or just try to ‘act like a Christian.’  Christ makes us alive and life shows, the development of character and faith coming into evidence from the inside out.

Ah friend, we do not grow into the likeness of Jesus with mental gimmicks, by adopting a self-improvement program, or even through working at being religious. Oh, yes we may be morally upright, manage to avoid grosser sins, but the nourishing fruit of the Spirit’s life does not flourish from human efforts.  In ourselves the best we can manage is an imitation, real looking on the surface perhaps, but without the nature of true fruit!  
People can spot the difference between a ‘religious person’ and one who is alive in the Spirit as surely as I am able to determine if an apple is a plastic imitation or the real thing in a moment’s time.  In our present world, with so much chaos and uncertainty, I want, more than anything, to be a person who bears the real evidence of Christ’s life, filled with spiritual fruit.

So I will ‘remain’ in Him, opening my mind and heart to Him, through out the day.  Yes, we will find ourselves pulled from that place near His heart, tempted, tested, and depleted in spirit. But, there is renewal when we recenter ourselves in His loving grace.

Meditate on these words of promise, dear Believer.  “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,” (Colossians 1:9-10, NIV)  That’s reality!

___________

Since Jesus Came Into My Heart

What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought
Since Jesus came into my heart
I have light in my soul for which long I had sought
Since Jesus came into my heart

Since Jesus came into my heart
Since Jesus came into my heart
Floods of joy o’er my soul
Like the sea billows roll
Since Jesus came into my heart

I’m possessed of a hope that is steadfast and sure
Since Jesus came into my heart
And no dark clouds of doubt now my pathway obscure
Since Jesus came into my heart

I shall go there to dwell in that city I know
Since Jesus came into my heart
And I’m happy so happy as onward I go
Since Jesus came into my heart

Rufus H. McDaniel

© Words: Public Domain

When Life Disappoints

We all have expectations. That vacation we planned for a year will be the best ever, we hope. Sometimes reservations get cancelled, weather intervenes, plans get shuffled – and we experience disappointment!  People can delight us and they can disappoint us, too, when they change into a person we no longer recognize, or walk away without explanation. It happens all the time. Life is a mixture of delight and disappointment.  Are you wrestling with missed expectations, struggling to stay faithful to the Lord even as you are living in a plot you never anticipated for yourself? 

I never thought I’d be alone but the Lord allowed my wife of 41 years to step into His Presence 5 years ago and rewrote the script of life for me.  As I prepare to step away from the leadership of the local church after a lifetime of pastoral ministry, I pray that I will find new and fulfilling ways to serve Him and others. But, there is the real possibility that the road ahead has curves and hills I have not anticipated, too.

So, how do we deal with missed expectations and disappointment?

Many allow themselves to turn inward and become bitter.  

Who has not known someone who is miserable, sour in spirit?  Tragically, bitterness can grow to overtake all of life.  [Hebrews 12:15 (NKJV)] speaks of a “root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”  Have you turned into one of those people who can’t find a nice thing to say about anyone, cynical, withdrawn, and toxic to be around?

Spiritually and emotionally healthy people learn acceptance.
The Serenity Prayer includes this line – “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”  Acceptance is not passive, it is not resignation to fate, it is not cowardly!  It is a lot of hard work, a willingness to set aside Self and to learn to live with a less than desirable situation.  A Christian has God’s help in this work. That person is able to ask His strength to take life as it is, not as it was ‘supposed’ to be.  With faith, we can accept who we are, where we are, and the people with whom we live and find new opportunities in the unforeseen circumstances of life.

If we insist that the only path to joy is living a life that matches our expectations we are acting like a child. If we convince ourselves that people will always be good or act in ways that are noble, we are simply naive. A measure of our maturity is the ability to deal with people as they are, discerning the good and the bad in others and in ourselves, and acting appropriately. Accepting people become loving people.

Then, too, there is true joy to be discovered in honest acceptance of ourselves. None of us is all that we hoped to be in some way or another. We all fail, despite our best intentions. God equips us in various ways by His Spirit and when we know who we are and what we do best for Him, we find a wonderful centered peace in which to live.

Forgiveness is an important tool in dealing with disappointment, too.  

Forgiveness – does that mean we sweep away the other person’s offense as though what was done is without importance? We model our forgiveness on God’s forgiveness. Our sins broke His heart, offended His majesty, and earned us judgment. But He, at great expense to Himself, offered to forgive us and to create a path to reconciliation with Him for each one of us. His forgiveness is not partial nor conditional.

The Psalm celebrates His grace. “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:8-12, NIV)

We can know great inner peace IF we will forgive others in that way. We need not excuse offense or write off the wrong. Instead, by faith, we take that person’s actions to God and surrender judgment to Him, even as we choose to release the debt we feel is owed to us to Him. “Impossible,” you say?  No, friend, it isn’t. Hard, yes – impossible, no.

Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Matthew 18:21 (NKJV) Since the Law of Moses only required 3 instances of forgiveness thought he was being big-hearted to offer to forgive seven times! But you remember the Lord’s response, don’t you? Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.”

Finally, in faith we choose to keep hope alive!

There is one hope that will never disappoint – the hope of Glory! The day of the defeat of evil is coming with the revelation of the King. Oh, how I look forward to that day, when sin’s power over us is completely destroyed, when disappointment is wiped away. Won’t it be a great day? So, I live in hope.

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later.” (Romans 8:18, NLT)  “And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us. Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this freedom. For if you already have something, you don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently.” (Romans 8:23-25, NLT)

Disappointed?  
It’s just fine to feel broken, but never allow yourself to become bitter!

Here is a word from the Word.

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
’” (Matthew 6:9-13, NIV)

In those words we find the hope that defeats disappointment!

_______________

All My Hope

I’ve been held by the Savior
I’ve felt fire from above
I’ve been down to the river
I ain’t the same a prodigal returned

All my hope is in Jesus
Thank God that yesterday’s gone
(Yes) All my sins are forgiven
(Oh I’ve) I’ve been washed by the blood
(Come on and sing)

I’m no stranger to prison
I’ve worn shackles and chains
But I’ve been freed and forgiven
And I’m not going back I’ll never be the same
That’s why I sing

There’s a kind of thing that just breaks a man
Break him down to his knees
God I’ve been broken more than a time or two
Yes Lord then He picked me up and showed me
What it means to be a man
Come on and sing

David Crowder | Ed Cash
© 2016 Capitol CMG Paragon (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

Well, I wish I could

As we emerge from the dark year of COVID, I am seeing a terrible side effect – apathy about worship, fellowship, and discipleship leading to the slow spiritual death of many. As a shepherd of the flock of God, I feel responsible and I take it personally as I should! God tells me that I am “to watch over your souls, and (I am) accountable” to Him for the health of Christians in my care. (Hebrews 13:17, NLT)  

Christianity is not a stroll in the park on a sunny afternoon. It’s a race. Sad fact –  millions never finish. They drop out, get distracted, let doubts overwhelm them, or just decide that other things are more important than pursuing God.

How do we finish this race well? I read the story of a middle- aged man who decided that he would run a marathon after seeing his daughter finish one. He was out of shape, had never run at all, much less done anything as rigorous as running a 26.2 mile race. But, inspired by his daughter’s achievement, he wanted to match it. He began with a mile run. He felt like his chest was going to explode. Six months later, he finished a marathon! How did he do it? Daily training– focus, conditioning, eating healthy foods, and unwavering commitment to his goal.

The Christian life is a sustained series of daily choices. It is not a sentimental moment on Christmas and Easter. It’s not a ‘prayer to accept Jesus into my heart’ at Sunday School that is largely forgotten in adulthood. It isn’t even just a Sunday morning habit of church-going. Disciples of Christ are people who hear a different song, who respond to a higher call, who desire to know Jesus and to make Him known. Becoming a mature and productive Christian demands much of us and the idea that it is an easy road is a lie.

Many wish that they could love well, that they could know the joy of serving faithfully, that they could experience the inner peace of a relationship with God. Wishes won’t make it so. Let me pause here to restate a basic fact. The myth of the ‘easy Christian life’ is persistent in our culture. Somehow we think that we ought to have a spiritual awakening, an earth-shaking emotional moment that instantly relieves us of selfishness, laziness, apathy, …  but, the truth is that being Jesus’ follower is not for the faith-hearted. God has given us daily disciplines to build endurance and maturity in us. They enable us to live mature and complete lives, full of the Spirit, that defeat the Evil One, that create loving spaces in a hate filled world, and that cause others to say, “God be praised!”

A caution here – do not worship the disciplines more than the Lord to which they are to lead. Being incurably ‘religious’ we can become proud of our performance, which destroys the promise they have. That said we need to commit to  daily prayer, regular service, continual Scripture intake because these things open up channels through which the Holy Spirit flows into our lives. Where He lives, fruit follows.  

Let me underscore this- Salvation comes by grace alone. We cannot earn it!  But, there is training required for a solid, God-honoring Christian life. Said practically, if a person will not get to worship faithfully, contribute a portion of his income to God, practice forgiveness, participate in some kind of selfless service and love, meditate and pray each day;  he will be as incapable of doing great things for God as I am to run a marathon today!

Meditate on this passage – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  I hear those words quoted by so many, but not so much these that follow them in the next line –  “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NIV)

God has a plan and purpose for your life is that ‘immeasurably more’ than you can see with your natural insight. Great Christians need great vision. If you want to move out of apathy, start by praying to see the world, yourself, as God sees you.  Thank Him for the possibilities He creates and then pray for the wisdom and courage to start small, to practice until you’re matured, completed, and able to do what that thing that you could only dream about before your training began.

At the end of that race, there is a reward that is eternal, that does not tarnish, that no one can eclipse, or take away. Paul says “there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8, NIV)

Let’s take the challenge of the Word to “leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God.” (Hebrews 6:1, NIV) In short, “Let’s grow up and get on with the work of being a disciple!”

Here’s the wisdom of the Word about training. I pray it becomes your daily challenge.  “Train yourself to be godly. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it.” (1 Timothy 4:7-9, NLT)  Jesus says “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27, NIV)  His words, not mine!

_________________
King Of My Heart

(a simple and inspired presentation)

Let the King of my heart
Be the mountain where I run
The fountain I drink from
Oh He is my song

Let the King of my heart
Be the shadow where I hide
The ransom for my life
Oh He is my song

You are good good oh
You are good good oh

Let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh He is my song

Let the King of my heart
Be the fire inside my veins
The echo of my days
Oh He is my song

You’re never gonna let
Never gonna let me down
You’re never gonna let
Never gonna let me down

When the night is holding on to me
God is holding on

John Mark McMillan | Sarah McMillan

© Meaux Jeaux Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

The emotion nobody likes

Eventually you are going to experience that emotion nobody wants to know – grief.  Yesterday, I enjoyed a day filled with joyful moments.  We gathered in the church and it was wonderful to be among friends, looking upward, finding renewal in the Spirit. Some of my family gathered in my house for spaghetti at mid-day, bringing 4 energetic kids, noise, and warmth of human connection. I spent a couple of hours among my young friends at our church’s Awana (elementary Christian education) later in the afternoon, a thing that I deeply enjoy. 

What a contrast to the previous day, spent at that same church, but Saturday knew little joy while I grieved the death of a friend, choking on my tears in those hours invested to sit with that bereaved family.  

Grief is more than feeling sad or being blue. Grief is a range of emotions including sorrow, anger, and loss. We experience it much differently. For some it comes like a thunderstorm, a furious turbulence that last only for a short time. Some endure their grief like a hurricane that lingers, dark, stormy, and tearing at every relationship, every hope, in life. Grief is unpredictable. Even 5 years after the death of my wife, I find myself suddenly tearful or feeling that nauseous weight of sorrow when a song stirs my emotions or a picture rips up an old memory.  

Grief is usually thought of as being brought on by a death. In reality, there are many reasons we grieve. Aging is a hidden source of deep sorrow for many. A divorce, which some refer to as a death without a corpse, rips hearts open with grief. Changes in life, a loss of work, a serious illness, a child moving out, a relocation, will often provoke unanticipated grief, sometimes masked as anger or depression.  

We are not taught to manage our pain very well so some of us try to stamp out anything that “hurts” as quickly as possible, not realizing that pain is a signal of dis-ease and needs to be addressed.  Grief is hard so some prefer to do almost anything to ‘feel better’ as quickly as possible. Distractions can temporarily bury grief;  so we take a trip, or buy a car, redecorate the house, have an affair, or drink heavily.

Like it or not, grief is a universal human emotion; it is real; it is natural; and  it can help us to mature – emotionally and spiritually!  Grief, properly understood and endured with support, will break the grip that lesser things have on our lives, teaching us to value those things that are lasting and eternal. Knowing this, a wise person will endure grief, learn from it, and grow through it.

How?

Be willing to let yourself enter into the sadness. Don’t aim at quick relief
It hurts- badly!  Many of us refuse to let ourselves weep because we think others will see us as weak.  Jesus wept, not in self-pity, which is weakness, but because His heart was broken for those who had to endure life without the hope that was found in the love of His Father.  As one well acquainted with grief, let me tell you that it is hard, bringing a kind of darkness that makes us feel that we will never again see the light, but every night is followed by the dawn even in times of grief.

Walk with others in your grief. Don’t isolate yourself

We need our family, our  church, and our community to share our grief. In our mobile and busy society, many who grieve find themselves without the natural places of comfort and support of previous generations. That is why there are churches who sponsor grief recovery groups. They can be valuable. Actually, we need to learn how to let the grieving just talk. The most healing in my life came from a few people who were willing to listen to me ramble in memories, who were able to endure my stormy tears, who loved me when I felt unfocused anger. Families who allow their members to grieve, who talk together, pray together, and sometimes just walk it out together, with patient love, can be the source of healing for the grieving.

Pray about your grief.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:17-18, NIV)  It is true! No one understands like Jesus!  Your tears are a language for Him.  If all you do in prayer for days is cry, He will not turn away from you.  The wisdom of God is found in Jesus’ amazing words. “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” (Matthew 5:4, The Message) You’re probably more familiar with that passage in these words, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4, NIV)

Receiving those words demands deep faith! We would rather pray for a life free of things that make us grieve than to allow our hearts to be broken, wouldn’t we? Those who will not let their hearts be broken are doomed to living superficially, loving things that will slip through their fingers eventually regardless of their determination.

Put your hope in God!

Ecclesiastes tells us that there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4, NIV) When the sorrows come, find time to be with God. Read passages like 1 Corinthians 15, Psalm 23, or John 11 until they are etched in your mind. I sat for endless hours in the church sanctuary after Bev’s death. You may feel His Presence as you walk, or listen to music, or sit among friends. Actively choose faith, even when your emotions scream in protest. 

Hope in God! Make the decision to join others in worship.  “But, I’ll cry.” “Church reminds me of her funeral.”  “People there offer me platitudes that are painful.”  All true, perhaps, and more. But, there in the community of God’s people, your hope can find strength of numbers, especially if it a whole and loving community of faith.

Grief is hard, but it is not wasted. 

So here is the word from the Word – 
“Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. …
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.”
(Psalm 30:4-5, 11-12, NIV)

______________

“Turn It Over”

I spent so long
Living in the dark, living in the dark
ran so fast
Until it fell apart, until it fell apart

Now I’m on my knees
All my life I surrender
Throw my hands up the war is over
I am falling on the altar

I throw my hands up I need a savior
Oh I, oh I, oh I
I turn it over, I turn it over

I can’t go back
I’m done living in the past
I’m done living in the past
You know this man
Still you take me as I am,
oh you take me as I am

All my life I surrender
Throw my hands up the war is over
I am falling on the altar
I throw my hands up I need a savior

Oh I, oh I, oh I
I turn it over, I turn it over
I’m letting go of my pain all of my sin and my shame
Your blood has washed it away
All of my doubt and my fear I leave it all with You here
Where I am covered by grace

I’m letting go of my pain all of my sin and my shame
Your blood has washed it away
All of my doubt and my fear I leave it all with You here
Where I am covered by grace

Now I’m on my knees
All my life I surrender
Throw my hands up the war is over
I am falling on the altar
I throw my hands up I need a savior

Oh I, oh I, oh I
I turn it over, I turn it over
Oh I, oh I, oh I
I turn it over, I turn it over

Zac Williams