Monday, April 24, 2017

When the Song Becomes Your Story

"O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth." 
Psalms 96:1

I've been stuck on "songs" lately it seems. Songs are a language all their own though. They touch the heart in special ways. People write songs, people sing songs. Songs can inspire, bring joy, conviction, and hope.

It's something to stand in a church service and lift your voice in praise with a congregation. We join together and sing unto the Lord on a regular basis. It's part of my life! I've been singing to the Lord since I was just a child. I remember riding along as we'd go to and from church, learning to sing harmony with my family. We'd sing. Dad was the choir director. (Mom played piano.) It's what we did! A way of life.  As I aged, different singing experiences presented themselves...and I just kept on singing.

There's something to be said about singing though: it's one thing to sing a song. It's an entirely different thing to sing your story

One of my favorite songs we sing at church today is entitled "Worth". (It's written by Anthony Brown if you'd like to YouTube it.) I thought I'd share the lyrics with you:

 You thought I was worth saving
So, You came and changed my life
You thought I was worth keeping
So, You cleaned me up inside
You thought I was to die for
So, You sacrificed your life
So, I could be free
So, I could be whole
So, I could tell everyone I know

Then there are other songs I could share with you.

What a Friend We Have In Jesus
It's My Desire
How Great Thou Art
I Give You Jesus
I Surrender All

...and many more!
When you're all alone, feeling hopeless and desperate for help, the song "What a Friend We Have In Jesus" becomes a song of desperation, of hope. You sing it from a deep heart level. When you're feeling worthless and you just want to know someone loves you, the song "Worth", which I shared above, takes on a deeper meaning. After you've experienced God in an amazing way, "How Great Thou Art" can be sung with such conviction! 

"And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, 
and fear, and shall trust in the LORD."  
Psalms 40:3

You see, as I've grown older and have had different experiences and trials in my life, as I've awakened to the goodness of the Lord who has extended His grace and mercy to me, these songs have taken on a completely different meaning  to me. They have become heart songs. They have become part of my story.

When a song becomes your story, it becomes new. You no longer just sing it. It becomes real. You pour your heart into it - and it pours out of you. It becomes your testimony! There's something to be said about that type of singing. It touches the singer's heart. It touches the heart of others. It also touches the heart of God. 

Think about it...what song are you singing differently these days? Do you have a new song? Sing it out, my friend.

Monday, April 17, 2017

That Changes Everything

"I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: 
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being." 
Psalms 104:33

Somehow I had learned the words all wrong. Oh, my! How had that happened?

I'd been on a Gaither Homecoming music binge. I love the new stuff, but the old stuff is what I've grown up on. Actually, I didn't really understand the exact meaning behind a lot of the songs when I was younger. However, songs like Just A Little Talk With Jesus and I Need Thee are the songs which have gotten me through the hard times in life as an adult. Those prayer songs!

Maybe it was because I was just singing it with my voice and not with my heart. Perhaps that's where I got off track as a youngster. Then came the day when my heart awoke to the words of this familiar favorite of mine, Leave It There:

Leave it there, leave it there,
Just take your burden to the Lord oh and leave it there.
If you trust him through your doubt, He will surely bring you out.
Take your burden to the Lord, leave it there.

It was just a typical day in my life. There had been burdens I was carrying. The load was a bit heavy. To be honest, I had even let a small amount of doubt filter into my heart somewhere along the way. I was weary. You know, we all get there on occasion, don't we? 

I was simply singing along that day when I realized I had been singing it all wrong. You see, I had learned to sing it "if you trust him and never doubt, He will surely bring you out." That always bothered me. I doubted more often than I cared to confess. How could God ever bring me out? I was already a sunken ship in that case! 
No, that's not what the lyrics had been after all, but rather "if you trust him through your doubt..." Wow! I know it's just a simple song and not the actual Word of God, but what a relief that realization brought to my heart. What a relief indeed! And right on time, too. I suddenly got a tad bit excited. That changes EVERYTHING.

My friend, I'm afraid we all might get the lyrics wrong sometimes. The enemy of our souls attempts to swap the words around on us; he tries to make us feel "less-than" or a hopeless case. Why? That's his trick for shutting off our singing spout all together. No song. No life. Be encouraged today though! It only takes a moment for God to make it all right. Even if you're singing in the wrong key! Now is the perfect time to keep singing anyhow. 

Don't be afraid of singing it wrong...just sing! That's the anecdote for any occasion which might bring about a bit of doubt or heaviness into our days. And...if you're singing it all wrong, it presents the perfect opportunity for God to whisper right into the middle of your situation....straight into your heart like He did mine. And...that changes everything. Sing it loud~

Friday, April 14, 2017

Hidden. In. Him.

"...Let me hide myself in Thee.."

Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. Captured my complete attention. They enraptured my soul for a few brief moments of my busy day. How I felt in that moment in time, I cannot for the life of me completely and accurately convey to you. And, that's probably alright since it was a personal encounter anyhow. I wanted to fall to my knees and cry out to my precious Savior. Tears welled up in my eyes as I lifted my head upward to my King. Conviction gripped my heart. A determined spirit sprung up like a well in my weary soul. It felt like a refreshing spring shower gently falling in my spirit: "Let me hide myself in Thee!!!" Ahh!

In a world that is filled with endless selfies, one-upping, climbing every proverbial ladder imaginable, seeking the gold, to attain status and rare it is to find someone whose goal is to remain hidden. Although I'm the type that would prefer to remain in the background than be hit by the spotlight, I sometimes feel the longing to be seen, to make a difference, and to stand out at times. Is it wrong? Not necessarily. The Lord calls us to shine at times...but, oh, to be hidden in Him!

Lord, as I go throughout my days, my prayer and most supreme desire is to be your hands and feet. To be used by You. To be bright. To shine for You! Yet, let me desire more than anything to be "hidden" in you. When others look at me, let them see you. When I speak to others, let them hear you. When I touch others, let them feel you. When I love others, let them feel Your love. Hide me in You!

My prayer since I was a young child was to somehow be used in the Lord's service. It didn't necessarily matter where. Lyrics to songs planted themselves deep within my young heart even then:

Make me a servant, humble and weak. Let me lift up those who are weak.
If you can use anything, you can use me.
I surrender all.
Let my life praise you.
I will give you all.
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.

Even one of the first songs I penned to the Lord:

Make me more like you, mold me and make me 
until my life's brand new.
I yield myself completely now, take my hands, take my feet, 
make me more like you.

There's a desire in my heart. And probably in yours too if you stop and strip away all the clutter. There's a renewed stirring in my soul today as I have found myself consumed with this single phrase from an old song sung countless times:

Let me hide myself in Thee

It caught me off guard. I wasn't prepared to be so moved, after all, I was folding laundry. It was the middle of the day. Yet, I stopped, "Please, Lord, let them see you. Hide me! You must increase and I must decrease. It's all about You, not about me." It was the sweetest, most intimate moment...but so worth sharing. I want you to have the same enlightening moment that I did.
There's a renewed calling going forth to all of us today. I don't believe for a moment that I'm the only one whose hearing it and longing to answer. Even as Easter is on the horizon, there's a call for us to allow Him the opportunity to do through us what He's been longing to do for a long time. Mighty and wonderful things...except sometimes we keep getting in the way. 

We're merely a tiny, insignificant part of the bigger picture, and an even more enormous and unfathomable plan designed exclusively by God. But we're necessary! Although He could be, He isn't a one-man-band. He wants to use us to bring about change, to reflect His light into a dark world, even to be His hands and feet. He has wonderful works for each of us to do as His coming draws nearer. We just have to stay in the correct position. Hidden. In. Him.

That's my prayer about you?

Dear God, use me.
Help me to be hidden in you so others can see YOU.
Forgive ME for getting in the way at times.
(Thanks for remembering I'm human.)
I want to be your hands and feet.
I want you to love others through me.
I want to reflect You, not me.
Hide me in You!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What We Can Do - Because He Did

 "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; 
but that the world through him might be saved."  
John 3:17

I watch closely as little, dressed up, bundles of energy line up to make a wild dash for tiny, colored, plastic eggs. With baskets in hand, they're almost trembling with the excitement of the hunt. There will be surprises hidden within each bright, oval package. Some will contain rewards of sweet (or sour) candy pieces, some would be filled with chocolate; yet, still there would be a few containing quarters or even a lonely gold egg containing a $10 bill. Oh, the excitement that fills the air!

The call is given, the children are ready...and off they go. Scurrying around like a colony of tiny ants busy at work. They run to and fro desperately attempting to gather as many of the prized eggs as they possibly can. They want to go home with baskets overflowing. They don't anticipate going home with baskets filled solely with Easter grass either. Every child intends on packing home an overflowing basket filled with sweet, syrupy or chocolate goodness -  and maybe even a bit of monetary pieces to boot. The filler grass just makes their rewards look a bit more enticing.

I think to myself, "Is this what Easter is all about?" 

I ponder this in my mind as I continue to watch. Such excitement. Challenge. Smiling faces. Satisfied hearts. Yes, this is what Easter is all about! "What?!", you might counter if you had been the one asking the question. "This can't be what Easter is all about!"

Before you get all "spiritually minded" on me, before you think I've totally lost all my religious scruples, let me explain it the way I see it. You see, Jesus came to earth...for what? His ultimate reason for coming was so lost, sinful, humanity could be rescued and saved from wages of sin. Right? Would you at least agree with me on that point?  And...that He did when He died a horrible death upon a cross. We all know what happened on that glorious, famed Sunday which followed. He rose again!

We celebrate that He is risen on every Easter Sunday. However, it's not just about Him coming back to life. 

It's about what WE can do 

because He DID!!! 

We each have our own "baskets" ready to be filled, you see. Not with candy, tiny prizes or money though; there are more important things to fill our baskets with as children of God. The hunt should be just as exciting however. Even more so! We should be scurrying to and fro, seeking. We should be thrilled and exhilarated to fill our baskets too. 

When Jesus rose again, He left us with something to be excited about. Something to share. His death, burial and resurrection are the steps for our salvation. Remember, the reason He came to earth in the first place? It's still happening today! He's still reaching out to humanity and He's using us to be His hands and feet. So what should we be filling our proverbial baskets with, you might ask? 

 that's what Jesus was all about!

Time is coming to an end, folks. The last grains of sand are falling from the top of the hour glass. We should be scurrying to and fro trying to gather as many souls into God's Kingdom as we possibly can. That's what He came for. That's what Easter is all about! It's true, we're not gathering plastic eggs like the children I was describing to you; however, our contents are so much more important and of eternal value. We shouldn't be content to let one "egg" remain hidden in the grass; our desire should be to see every egg safely in the basket - more literally, every soul saved from the basket of the enemy. That, my friend, is what Easter is all about. 

Kind of makes me look at the Easter eggs hunts with a little different perspective. I hope it does the same for you too. Are we impacting our world? Are we excited and passionate enough to do whatever it takes to see lives changed? Can we be bold enough to get our nice "Sunday best" a little wrinkled or soiled as we courageously seek for the lost and undone? Because remember this, It's about what we can do, because He did!

Happy Easter to all! Blessings upon you, and the "eggs" you bring into the basket this Sunday and hereafter. Our rewards will be the stars in our crowns!

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."
Acts 2:38-39

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Hang On Tight!

 Years ago I loved the back and forth, up and down, motion of swinging on a park swing. I loved the butterflies that would bump into each other inside my stomach by such activity. The thrill of soaring higher and higher with each pump of my lanky, knobby-kneed legs. Pure exhilaration! 

Then I became an adult...who can no longer tolerate the motion. 

Isn't life comparable to this at times? Let me explain...

Life happens - and we learn to be more cautious. We learn that things don't always turn out like we'd anticipated. We become wise to bumps in the road; of pot holes to be watchful for. We learn that there are both friends and enemies. We experience joy, hurt, happiness, disappointment, etc. Yes, some days "doing life" simply brings the buzzards out, instead of butterflies. Sometimes it's hard to stomach!

I've learned, and am trying to implement it even as I type out this post, that it's alright to be cautious. I just need to stay in the swing! It's like a pendulum, you see. It's got to swing back in the right direction eventually. It's a hard lesson to learn. I've been reminded of this by a dear friend on multiple occasions. It's also written in God's Word. It goes something like this:

"To every thing there is a season..." Eccl. 3:1

We sometimes just have to be bold enough to sit tight. Sometimes we have to hold on to the rope for all we've got; trusting that God is in control of all things. 

As sure as the swing goes backward, it will again go forward. As sure as it will bring you down, it will take you up again. Just hang on tight!

No matter what a day may bring, if we can enter it looking forward to the plan of God, relying on Him to make it all beautiful, and most of all determined to continue swinging - we'll be rewarded for our diligence. Simply because God always rewards our faithfulness. Because He is faithful!

  "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31 

We're God's children. He's in control of the swing, my friend. Daddy's pushing His little (and big) girls and knows just the right amount of pressure with which to push. The buzzards and butterflies may threaten, but we're designed to fly with the eagles. 
So grab hold tightly with me - no matter the season. Let's go higher.  Let's make this season one to remember even as we expect something BIG from God - today and every day.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Droopy Down Day

My own 2 Corinthians 12:9 version ...His strength is made perfect weakness.

On day "more-than-I-care-to-count-with-the-flu-bug", during one of many trips routing from the couch to the bathroom, I paused at my vanity long enough to take a split-second evaluation of myself in the mirror. "Eww! Not a pretty picture," I surveyed. Yeah, then this non-selfie, girl snapped a quick pic - for you.

You see, I have a personalized "droopy-down-day" look. It's a look I cannot make happen on cue. In fact, I don't normally even think about it most of the time. However, on days like today, when I'm not feeling the greatest, when I'm sick, or when I'm tired and sometimes overly-stressed...I have a non-debatable "droopy-down-day" tell tale sign. Maybe it should be better called a souvenir. Or a gift. I don't know...

I can't remember if I've told the story here on my blog or not, so I thought this a perfect day to reflect and share. 

I have a photo album full of get-well cards and a letter written to me by my mom when I was only a little bitty girl. Seems like eons ago! I also have a permanent picture in my mind of my dad standing behind the pulpit when I was a teenager. I specifically remember him telling my story, completed with the "droopy-eye" look to the church congregation one Sunday between choir selections. Yes, it was a bit embarrassing at that point. Who wants to be "the girl with the droopy eye" anyhow? Goodness, I'm glad as I matured, I could see it a bit differently.

You see, when I was just a tiny thing, I developed a brain tumor which caused my vision to double. It was quite serious. I remember having my head put "inside a washing machine" at the hospital. This was my young interpretation of the machines they were using to take pictures of my head so they could see what was wrong with me. People prayed. God moved. The tumor disappeared and I was healed. Praise God!

I was left with a great testimony of God's power! eye that sags a bit even now on those "droopy-down-days".

Why? Sure, God could have healed me without leaving any proof that there ever had been a problem. I know He's more than capable. However, then on days like today, when I'm feeling extremely tired and sick, and little down-in-the-dumps, I wouldn't be able to look into that mirror and see my uniquely, individualized reminder of God's power and love for me - that He worked a miracle in my life. This little gift from the Lord reminds me that -

He hears our prayers, knows our needs, and loves us too much to leave us without the scars sometimes.  

So, that's my story to share. Even though I'm feeling sick and weaker than usual, I'm going to bed tonight with a smile. With my heart reminded and lifted a bit higher. He is a healer, even when I'm sick. And...I'm reminded of this simply because when I'm weak and tired my eye droops. Yet, when my eye droops, I'm reminded that He is strong. Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Life...It's but a Vapor

I've wanted to write. I haven't been able to gather my thoughts before now however. The last couple days have been quite eventful. Traumatic. Exhaustive. When I close my eyes, the images that show up are disturbing. A picture of a mother and child still brings tears to my eyes and an aching to my heart since I know that a little girl, a family, lost their mommy -  and someone lost a son, daddy or husband on Sunday in a sudden, fatal, automobile accident.

At the same time, I've desired to write. To share with you the goodness of God's protective hand upon my husband and myself. To testify of His goodness. Even while my heart still hurts, while I don't always quite understand "why" things happen, it rejoices at God's sovereignty also. We were on our way home from church. Only about 50 yards from our exit. And...we were also only the second car back when all the vehicles, an engine, rear view mirrors and other car parts stopped flying through the air. Cars had scattered everywhere trying to avoid collision.

An automobile going southbound veered off the interstate, hit a ditch and went airborne, clearing all northbound guardrails. Two lives were lost and multiple other injuries. And we were RIGHT THERE!
*If you'd like to watch the news video about the accident, you can do so here. This is the photo I took right after the wreck took place. I was standing at my vehicle.

I can't help but to thank the Lord for His protective hand upon us on Sunday...and every day. 

Then, on Monday, we had a bad band of storms come through Georgia. We were alerted by the weather services to take cover. We heard the wind, watched as eerie, mid-day darkness enveloped our surroundings, and heard the low, steady rumble in the distance. Then we took cover in our closet...and waited. 

Less then an eighth of a mile through the woods, trees were snapped, homes were damaged, and power lines were down.

I can't help but to thank the Lord for His protective hand upon us on Monday...and every day.

These past couple days have shook me to the core. Life is so fragile. Uncertain.

"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." James 4:14

While some would say we must be doing something wrong for all this stuff to be happening so close to us. I think different! It's helped make up in my mind and open my eyes to some things the Lord has been dealing with me about. 

Nothing in this life matters except what we do that's of eternal value. Possessions. Money. Status. Jobs. That all is counted for loss. People are losing their lives each and every second of every day. They are coming face to face with eternity. Ready or not! That's what matters. 

We're all going to spend eternity somewhere. How we live will be a deciding factor. How differently would we live out our lives today if we knew tomorrow would be the end? What would we do differently? What wouldn't matter any more?

Just a few thoughts I'm pondering. Won't you join me? Someone's salvation might depend upon it.