Worship Wednesdays #8 | Dream for You

The profile // about the artist

Casting Crowns - Thrive
Thrive (2014)

Casting Crowns

  • Contemporary Christian rock band
  • From Daytona Beach, Florida

The pull // why i like it

Casting Crowns has been one of my favorite bands for years. I heard “Dream for You” a few months ago, and I love that this song is refreshing and uplifting. When we follow God, we allow the space for His amazing plan to manifest itself in our lives.

The message // what it means

The God we read in the Bible is the same God today. This song incorporates the narratives of many well-known Bible figures like David, Mary, and Joseph, and although they each had different stories, God pulled them through great difficulty, remaining true to His character. It’s easy for us to separate ourselves from those we read in the Word, but this is our portion as well. Just as God acted on behalf of those who honored Him in the past, He does the exact same today.

“I’m stronger than you think I am

I’ll take you farther than you think you can

You sing and call me Great I Am

So take your stand”

The call // best to listen when

You need encouragement. Every time I hear this song, it not only puts me in a good mood, but it reminds me that no matter what’s going on, God is and has always been in control.

Worship Wednesdays #6 | Learning to Breathe

The profile // about the artist 

Switchfoot - Learning_to_Breathe
Learning to Breathe (2000)

Switchfoot

  • Alternative rock band
  • From San Diego, California

The pull // why i like it

I’ve been a long time Switchfoot fan, and “Learning to Breathe” has been one of my favorite songs. The song has relatable lyrics that speak about God as our ultimate source of peace.

The message // what it means

“Learning to Breathe” is a reminder that God is the God of all comfort. He hears us. He sees us. He cares for us individually. Try searching for this comfort elsewhere, and you’ll get lost. However, by His grace, even when we fall, God is there to restore us.

“I’m finding that You, and You alone can break my fall”

The call // best to listen if

You’re a Switchfoot fan or if you’re looking for a tranquil song that praises God for who He is.

Worship Wednesdays #4 | Shine

The profile // about the artist

Salvador - Dismiss the Mystery
Dismiss the Mystery (2006)

Salvador

  • Contemporary Christian band
  • From Austin, Texas

The pull // why i like it

Shine is another throwback worship song that I’ve loved for years. When I was younger, I’d hear the song on the radio over and over again, yet I never grew tired of it. It’s incredibly uplifting and has powerful, positive lyrics.

The message // what it means

There’s great fulfillment and joy that comes with serving God. As follows of Christ, we must follow His command to be a light for Him and share the gospel. Shine celebrates the “beauty” and “majesty” of our loving Savior and how much He deserves glory.

“Lord, let me shine, shine like the moon

A reflection of You in all that I do

Lord, let me be, a light for Your truth

Light of the world, I wanna be used to shine for You”

The call // best to listen

Whenever. There’s something about this song that makes you want to sing along and worship. It’s definitely a mood-booster, but most importantly, it’s such a wonderful song of praise.

Worship Wednesdays #3 | Shepherd of My Soul

The profile // about the artist

R&R - All Things New.jpg
All Things New (2014)

Rivers & Robots (R&R)

  • Worship music band and missionaries in the U.K.
  • From England

The pull // why i like it

My oldest brother, who happens to have great music taste, introduced me to Rivers & Robots. I only heard a minute or two of Shepherd of My Soul, but I loved it right away. The lyrics speak Biblical truth, and the song itself is composed so wonderfully. Also, have you seen the lyric video (below)? It completely captures the band’s cool aesthetic.

The message // what it means

God is a good God. Not only is He the Creator of the “mountains and seas,” but He cares and values you and has created a unique path for your life. He is a God of provision and peace. Remembering God’s sovereignty reminds us that we can lay down our lives and plans and have confidence of who He is.

Living for Him gives us stability in this ever-changing world.

You lead me by still waters

Lead me through the valleys

Lead me in Your wisdom

Shepherd of my soul”

The call // best to listen if

You love folk, indie, or acoustic music. However, if you don’t usually listen to these genres, the soothing melody and lyrics of this song may draw you in.

Worship Wednesdays #2 | Faithful

The profile // about the artist

Brooke Fraser - Albertine
Albertine

Brooke Fraser

  • Contemporary Christian Artist
  • From New Zealand

The pull // why i like it

An oldie but goodie, Faithful is one of the first Brooke Fraser songs that I discovered years ago. The song has a lovely melody, and it’s accompanied by her famously beautiful vocals.

The message // what it means

God hears you, and He has not forgotten you.

When we feel distant from Him, He’s still there. In quiet seasons, we should learn to seek Him and remain faithful, even though we can’t see the future.

“When I can’t feel you, I have learned to reach out just the same

When I can’t hear you, I know you still hear every word I pray

And I want you more than I want to live another day

And as I wait for you maybe I’m made more faithful”

The call // best to listen if

You’re a Brooke Fraser fan (though you’ve probably already heard this one). If you’re not a fan, this song might make you one.

He Heard You

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

1 John 5:14 (KJV)


At the beginning of the spring semester, a good friend from high school visited me at college.

We kept in contact as she traveled, but after she got off her last train, she sent me a frantic text:

I FORGOT MY PURSE ON THE TRAIN!

She fortunately had her phone in her hand, but everything else, besides her backpack, was left behind.

The first instinct I had was to pray, and I replied to her that I did afterwards.

In the meanwhile, an employee searched the train, and she had gone to the lost and found at the station, but nothing turned up. Despite this, she had a great attitude about the loss, and we still had a fun weekend together. Nevertheless, I was a bit bummed and confused that she hadn’t found the purse, especially since I did believe that God heard my prayer and would answer it.

A few weeks later, I got a message from my friend about something she had forgotten to tell me. Days after she had returned from the trip, she received a package in the mail from someone that contained her purse and everything (including money) still inside it.

When I heard the news, I was utterly shocked and overjoyed. I was happy that she found her purse, and even more in awe that God had answered the prayer–even though I had forgotten about it.

Even when we forget about what we have asked the Lord, He hasn’t forgotten our requests, so we must remain submitted to Him.

Submitting to God means that despite the outcome of our prayers, we will still trust and follow His direction. We can have peace in this, knowing that He knows our needs. He is taking care of us, although He might be doing so in ways we don’t expect.

I had no idea that my friend’s purse would be returned in such an uncanny way, yet the fact that it was completely unharmed made the situation a larger testimony of how God works. She could have found it at the station, but instead, the purse was returned in a way that was out of her control–proving that a bigger miracle was behind it.

God hears every one of our prayers. As we wait on Him, we can have confidence and excitement knowing that He is preparing a great testimony in our lives of His faithfulness.


Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

Hebrews 10:23 (KJV)

Worship Wednesdays

Looking for new worship music?


Every Wednesday, you can now discover tunes through #WorshipWednesdays!

Worship Wednesdays will be a blog post featuring a worship song or Christian artist I’ve been listening to lately. Here’s what you can expect:

The pull //

This is essentially why I like the song. What draws me to it, maybe how I found out about it.

The message //

This is the overall message of the song (at least what I gather from it). What about it makes it worship? What is it saying about God? About faith?

I may even throw in a favorite line or two of lyrics that are particularly powerful to me.

The call //

This is my overall recommendation. When is it best to listen to this song? Or if you’re not quite convinced that you want to check it out, I might include why else it’s my pick for the week.

Click here to check out all Worship Wednesdays posts!


Keep a look out every week for a new Worship Wednesdays post! Also, comment or send a message if you have any worship recommendations (bands/artists, songs, etc.)!

 

Obedience and Healing

And it came to pass, as He went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when He saw them, He said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And He said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Luke 17:11-19 (KJV)


When I was younger I learned quickly that my parents were “always” right.

It took time for me to realize this. I was always stubborn and wanted to do things my way. But soon I learned that if I obeyed my parents, something good happened, but if I disobeyed them, it typically resulted in something not so great.

Now, of course, I later realized my parents aren’t perfect. But they are older than I am and have gone through many of the things I will, and through god-given wisdom, they were able to handle them. So, obeying them as they obey God leads me in the right direction.

I will never forget a particular time when if I had listened to my mom, I could have avoided some painful results.

While shopping with our mom, my brother and I decided to play tag in the parking lot of the shopping center. My mom told us to stop running, but I wanted to sprint to the car–the designated “safe zone”–and win. So I did.

I was running so fast that as I tried to stop myself, I skidded and fell, scraping my knee on the pavement. As I felt the stinging sensation of my fresh cut, I realized that if I had just listened to my mother, I would have prevented the pain. Over time, the wound healed, but it left a scar on my knee–perhaps a little reminder of my childhood stubbornness.

While this example of disobedience did not result in tremendous consequences, there are times when disobedience leaves life-altering “scars.”

God gives us specific instruction on how we ought to conduct ourselves. Just as my mom gave me a warning to stop running to avoid falling, God gives us instructions to avoid harming ourselves. We don’t see the accident up ahead, but He does.

Isaiah 55:8 says that God’s thoughts and ways are above our own. He is more knowledgeable than we will ever be, and so His plan will always be much better and wiser than ours.

Jesus’ miracles are the result of obedience.

When we obey God, we can receive His blessings and wholeness. Luke 17:11-19 illustrates this, as Jesus heals ten men who have leprosy.

Problem | the illness:

And it came to pass, as He went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: (Luke 17:11-12)

Leprosy is a severe bacterial infection that deteriorates the skin, causing wounds that often lead to the loss of body parts. Particularly in Biblical times, it was so infectious that it separated those who were affected from those who were not, shunning them from society.

When the lepers see Jesus, they stand “afar off” (v. 12), knowing their position in society–outcasts. They suffer the emotional pain of isolation, and they experience the physical pain of decaying flesh. These are men in need of a great healing.

Solution | the command:

And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. (Luke 17:13-14a)

Before healing takes place, the lepers have faith. They go to Jesus, knowing who He is, and lift their voices to Him (v. 13). They know that Jesus is God and capable of healing them, and so they seek Him out and ask for a miracle.

Jesus immediately gives them a solution the moment he sees them. He instructs them to go to the priests.

Response | the obedience

And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, (Luke 17:14b-15)

Once Jesus gives them a solution, they listen and act upon it. Jesus could have healed them on the spot, but instead He gives them an instruction. Here is their opportunity to put their faith into action by obeying Him without question or hesitation. This obedience, based on their faith, allowed them to be cleansed.

Another response to note is that of one leper who returns to Jesus. The others depart, now healed, but this man shows his gratitude to Jesus. Although Jesus knows that the other nine men are not going to return to Him and thank Him, He still physically heals them.

This man’s faith set him apart from the others. He provides a model for us on faith and gratitude. Acknowledging his faith, Jesus tells him it is his faith that has made him whole (v. 19). This wholeness goes beyond physical healing–he received a spiritual healing due to his gratitude and obedience. He is now a new person, a whole man.

Afterwards, Jesus gives him a direction. He instructs him to go forward (v. 19). He can do so in  faith with a new appreciation for who Jesus is and what he has done in his life.

Obedience is faith put into action.

What can we learn from this man?

  1. God recognizes our gratitude, which reflects the state of our hearts
  2. He gives us direction and renewal
  3. He rewards our faith

As demonstrated in this passage, Christ came to heal us from our pains–physical, emotional, and otherwise. But how are we to expect to receive from Him if we are not obeying His commands? Just as He gave the lepers instruction which set them on a new path, through His word, he is instructing us also to set us on a new path of healing and restoration.

Whatever length of time the lepers may have been suffering, they still sought Jesus out in faith. If you have been praying for a long time for physical, emotional, or spiritual healing, continue to seek the Lord. Turning away from Him leaves scars.

The man who returned to Christ shows us that healing can be physical and spiritual if we allow God to do the work. I encourage you to remain in faith. Christ is the one that can wipe us clean from our pasts and our pain and make us whole. In the process, He is working on our hearts, and He is looking at our responses–our obedience.


But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

(Luke 11:28)

He Is Risen

“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

Matthew 28:6 (KJV)


This Easter Sunday, let us remember Christ’s great power and love for us. He loved us enough to die for our sins and then He rose from the grave and conquered death. He did what no man has ever done or could ever do. As followers of Christ, we can have confidence that we have victory in our challenges, as He Himself has already defeated them.


What Did Christ Do?

The Gospel | Clayton Jennings


What Do We Gain in Christ?

Citizens & Saints – Saved Secure



 

Perseverance, Part 2 – Who Do You Think God Is?

The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.

Psalm 145:18-19 (KJV)


(Read Part 1 here)

I’m an English major.

I knew I wanted to be one after the first English class I took in college. When the due date for our first research paper was near, my professor stressed to us the importance of finding valid sources for our topic. For clarification, he explained to us the differences between primary and secondary sources.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

Primary sources are the original accounts of a study. They’re usually written by people who had direct connection to the topic or event you’re looking at, and they were probably written at the time in which it occurred.

Secondary sources are secondary accounts of a study. While they can be helpful, you can come across secondary sources that may give inaccurate information, since they are based on interpretations or analyses of primary sources.

Depending on what you’re researching, it’s fine to use either one. But if you’re looking for some pretty reliable, first-hand information, a primary source is your best bet.

 

Over the past few weeks, I have been meditating on what it means to understand God as our primary source.

God calls us to cast all cares on Him. I thought this was a “simple” idea, but I didn’t know what it looked like to give Him every emotion, every concern, every dream, and every thought. I had to realize I couldn’t hide anything from Him.

Psalm 145 states that the Lord is near to those who call on Him in truth. Not only are we being encouraged to seek after God, but we are encouraged to seek after Him believing in the truth of who He is.

Now I ask the question–who do you think God is?

Is He nonexistent? Is He cruel? Unfair? Just? Loving?

I have good news. God is not a mystery. In fact, He has revealed Himself to us clearly in the Bible.

There are secondary sources that have painted a distorted image of God that is not based on what the Bible says. Based on its own interpretations and analyses, society has created its own image of God that has deviated from the truth–but the only way to know the true character of God is to go to the primary source, which is His Word.

2 Timothy 2:7 encourages us to think over what God says–through this we gain understanding. In order to think about what God says, we must know Him and know what He says. It’s impossible to know God if we’re running from Him. In fact, the further we go, the further we will be from the truth.

I’ve found that many have fallen into the trap of attributing the evil in this world to God. If we realize who God is, we will learn that evil is the result of a fallen world that has run away from God. Again, the further we run away from God, the further we go into confusion, darkness and destruction.

 

A great illustration of this is in the book of Jonah. God called Jonah to preach repentance to Nineveh, a city that had completely turned away from Him. Jonah knew that Nineveh was a wicked city, but he was stubborn and ran away from God (Jonah 1:3). Jonah sought out a ship heading to the city of Tarshish, away from Nineveh, but he was soon caught in a storm. The other sailors threw him overboard, believing he was responsible for the storm due to his disobedience.

Although God had allowed the storm, He shows grace to Jonah and provides safety for him–giving him an opportunity to acknowledge his sin and repent. Instead of allowing Jonah to drown, God provided a whale that swallowed him, and in the belly of the whale is where we see Jonah’s heart change. He cries out to God in prayer, asking for forgiveness (see Jonah 2). What’s incredible is that during this time he acknowledges that salvation comes from the Lord (Jonah 2:9). He saw what God was doing and that He provided grace even in his disobedience. After three days passed, Jonah was vomited from the whale and went to preach, as God instructed, to Nineveh–a city that desperately needed the truth. Because of this obedience, the people of Nineveh did repent and the city was not destroyed. God had compassion on them.

What we learn from Jonah’s story is that there is nothing we can hide from God. Jonah physically ran away from Him, but a lot of our running away is internal–in our heart. We also learn that despite our failings and our sin, God is incredibly patient with us and provides us with the opportunity to repent and come to Him. He’s so gracious that He still provides for us–just as He showed provision for Jonah. The message of repentance that God asked Jonah to preach to a lost city is still the same today.

Because of our sin, we live in a fallen world. Romans 3:23 states that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory–His standard. God is so loving, that although the world has fallen away from Him, He has provided salvation to bring us back to Him. God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. This way, we would not remain dead in our sins and have to suffer eternal punishment in hell. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we can have freedom and eternal life in Heaven.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10 (KJV)

This passage from Romans explains that in order to have eternal life, we must confess our sins with our mouths and believe that Christ has been raised from the dead. This is salvation. This is an eternal promise that shows God’s love for us. What’s amazing about God’s love is that while we have access to eternal life after death, He doesn’t abandon us during our time on earth.

God has a purpose for our time on earth. Unfortunately, sin and evil still exist in the world, so as a result, there are trials in this life. Nevertheless as followers of Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin–we no longer live under its power to control our lives.

When we follow God, He allows growth and fruit to bear in our lives, because it’s not in His nature to withhold. He is a God who gives. By giving His Son, He demonstrated His love for us. He serves as a model for us. He shows love is action. He is a God of action–that is, He is living and He is working–and all His action is of love. We were made to be image-bearers of Christ. If we get His character wrong, we’ll get ours wrong. In order to know our purpose, we must know Him first and foremost.

God is not the author of sin, but rather He is the solution to it. If He was an evil God who was the author of sin, He would have allowed us to suffer in this dark world–BUT He provided salvation. Therefore, His plan is not for us to suffer and stay in our sin but to be free from it. Through life’s trials, we can be perfected in Christ. Through these challenges we gain so much more of a clearer understanding about why it was necessary for Him to provide a way out of them in the first place.

It is a huge mistake to think we are “too far gone” for God. The blood of Christ is far more powerful than your sin. 1 John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins to the Lord, He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He gives everyone the opportunity to repent and be free from the bondage and shame of sin. To truly be free from sin, after we repent, we must live righteously and no longer in our sins. We’re given a new identity in Christ–a new life, separated from our past–so our actions should reflect this.

 

Now, knowing who God is, how have I personally learned to persevere?

Through God’s Word, I have been able to understand the character of God–and that through all things He is glorified. Through trials He is glorified. He works all things together for good to them that love Him. We will fail over and over again. There’s nothing that God doesn’t know. There’s nothing you can hide in your heart. Yet He still promises to comfort those who come to Him. Nothing can separate us from His love.

It’s important to understand our role in perseverance. We must seek God and obey Him. If we say we love Him, we will obey His commandments (John 14:15).

How do you expect to hear God if you’re not even trying to listen to Him? How do you expect to feel close to God if you’re not spending time with Him? How do you expect for God to take control if you’re not letting go of your control?

God gives us a choice to choose Him. John 1:12 says “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” He chose to choose us. He chose to give the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Understand this: God cares for you. He loves you. His only Son died for you. He has the best for you. How many times does He have to deliver us for us to learn to trust Him?

Here’s the thing: we don’t have to go through a terrifying lesson like Jonah had in order to understand the consequences of running away from God.

We don’t have to wonder about God. It is foolish to run to secondary sources in the world looking for Him. Instead of running to what the world claims God to be, find out who He is for yourself. Go to the primary source that actually reveals the truth.

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans 5:3-5 (KJV)

When we go through trials, we can react in two different ways. We can allow the trials to grow us and become closer to the Lord or we can succumb to sin. Understanding who God is gives us the foundation to have confidence that we will persevere through Him–because He loves us and wants us to persevere.


Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

John 8:31-32 (KJV)