Tuesday, September 11, 2012

From Tragedy to Hope

11 years ago today, a terrible tragedy struck our nation.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  I had just the night before made a very foolish, life-changing decision.  That day, my whole world changed, and was completely turned upside down.  I feel sick when I look back on the devastation that was going on in my country and also in my own personal life.  Many heroes arose that day, and our nation pulled together with broken hearts, yet a united strength and determination to not let the horrific injustice of 9/11/01 pull us down.  I've wished many times that we could all just have a do over on that day... that I could have the chance to rethink, undo... that I wouldn't have made the horrible choices I was making in my life at that point... that we could as a Nation have somehow forseen the attacks on the World Trade Center, and prevented the horrific and devastating loss of so many lives.  The tragedy of that day still echoes within my heart like a silent scream of helplessness and mourning.

We cannot change the past.  We cannot allow ourselves to become stuck there either.  We must not live every day with loss, tragedy and defeat as our captors.  We must move forward.  Press on.  Allow hope to fill us with the promise of a new day.  I am guilty of subconsciously allowing myself to get stuck in the past, wallowing in depression and self-accusation.  In doing so, I was inadvertently stunting my own growth.  Yes, it is important to remember.  That is how we learn what not to do in the future.  While it is important to realize we are powerless to change the past, it so much more important to give all the brokenness to Jesus and trust that He will work ALL things together for our good.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

"And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."  2 Corinthians 9:8

With all the past personal failures and all the unwanted tragedies I have known in this life.... With all the changes going on in our world and all the ups and downs and possibilities and fears, I/we need to remember there is only one thing that will never, ever fail....  God's Love.  Things change.  Circumstances change.  People change.  God does not.  He stays the same, as does His love for us.  There is comfort and rest in that knowledge.

"But You [God] remain the same, and Your years will never end." - Psalm 102:27

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.  His Love endures forever." - Psalm 136:1

"Love never fails." - I Corinthians 13:8

"I trust in God's unfailing love forever and ever." - Psalm 52:8

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness." - Jeremiah 31:3

A song I know came to my heart yesterday, and I have been listening to it non-stop.  I am going to learn it on the keyboard today so I can teach it to my worship team, and we can sing it in church on Sunday.  It's called "Your Love Never Fails", and I just love it.  It's so true!  I am so thankful today, that even in my solemn moments of reflection, I can cling to the hope and peace which comes from knowing God's Love is unfailing.  He is the Comforter; the Great Healer.  And He has promised he will make ALL things work together for my/our good.  I believe that with my whole heart.  That belief transforms the anguish into hope.


Here is the link to "Your Love Never Fails" - performed here by Jesus Culture:


Saturday, September 08, 2012

The Gift is Acceptable

God blows my mind.  His unconditional Love and his ever abundant Grace are gifts that no price tag can ever be placed upon.  He has been working in me and through me in ways that are just so mind-boggling and surprising.  I have trouble understanding how God can take someone who is broken, and use them to spread a message of healing and love.  I am humbled by it, and so blessed.

The music practice with my worship team today started out rough.  We were short a few members, and instruments.  We were tired.  We were all kinda going through our own inner struggles.  The music just wasn't jiving or flowing, initially, and I began to really begin to sweat the concert we are putting on tomorrow.  I woke up feeling totally unworthy of this position God has called me to on the worship team, and I kept hearing this voice inside my head, "You're not a strong enough musician.  You're not a good enough singer.  You're not a whole enough person.  You shouldn't be up on that stage."  I opened up to my team about the thoughts and feelings of inadequacy I was struggling with, and we all decided we needed to pray.  The prayer time really helped.  And after that, the fogginess of the music kinda lifted, and things began to flow much better.  Instruments began to mesh, voices began to find harmony, and we could feel the Holy Spirit's presence with us.  It was so powerful, that after practice was finished and everyone left, I could not stop singing and playing for about another hour.  It was just me and God up there.  I was worshiping Him through song, and it was a really special time.  I heard his voice speak louder than the ones in my head.  He was saying to me, "I love you.  Do not be afraid.  I am with You.  I will use you to bless others and build My Kingdom, because you are willing."

God is showing me that no matter how unworthy we "feel" (and in actuality, we are), He will use us right where we are and bless others through the gifts that He has given us.  We don't have to feel good enough or well enough or perfect enough or ready... we just need to be obedient to His leading, and give of what we have been given.  

"For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have." - 2 Corinthians 8:12

I pray that God speaks through us tomorrow as we sing and play for Him, and I pray that lives and hearts are touched through the lyrics and the music.  May HIS voice be heard.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Discrimination and Love

I wrote a sermon last night.  LOL.... no clue why I wrote it, but it came to me, and I had to get it out.  Crazy.   Not even sure what to do with it!  I'm not a pastor or a saint or anything remotely close, so why a "sermon" came to me is beyond me.  I was thinking, "What the heck am I gonna do with all this stuff I just wrote... Oh, wait... I have a blog!  Maybe I'll just post it on there."  Soooo, here it is.  Hope you don't stone me for writing it!


Discrimination.  It’s BIG no-no in our society.  We are supposed to be loving, as Jesus was loving.  Love is, after all, the whole point.  And yet, discrimination exists, even among (and sometimes most prominently evident in) Christian communities.  Discrimination because of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age or disability.... those are things that are unacceptable in today’s culture.  I’d like to make a bold statement and say that I agree that MOST discrimination is wrong.  But not all.  Discrimination means: “treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit... the power of making fine distinctions; discriminating  judgment... something that serves to differentiate”, according to the Dictionary.  So in reading the definition of the word, I would say there is actually a time and place for it.”

“Discrimination because of race, creed, color,
religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age or disability...”

I want to dissect this... It is biblically wrong to discriminate against the above, with exception.  Discrimination against someone’s God-given being (like race, sex, disability, age, ancestry, etc...) is wrong.  But biblically, there is discrimination that is justified, but must be tempered with love and wisdom rather than judgmentalism and condemnation... and that is one that a person is not born with, but chooses... such as: religion.  I believe that religion is the one thing about which we SHOULD be discriminatory.  Backing up off of that hot topic for a moment, let me say that God loves all races, colors, sexes the same.  None is better in His eyes than another.  Here’s how we know God is not partial to these things:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[a] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” 1 John 2:9

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.”  Romans 10:12

 “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”  James 2:9

“For God shows no partiality.”  Romans 2:11

“And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.”  Colossians 3: 10 - 11

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  Genesis 1:27

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.”  Acts 17:26

And a lot more references regarding race, color, sex, etc. exist... HOWEVER, here’s what the Bible has to say about religion...

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

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”  Colossians 2:8

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: ...”  1 John 2...

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ...”  I Peter 2

“Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”  2 Timothy 3:5

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect..”  I Peter 3:15

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”  Hebrews 11:6

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”  I john 4:9

“For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, ...”  I Timothy 2...

There are SO many more scriptures on that topic.  Race, color, sex.... those are all equal in the eyes of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit..... however, “religion” is not.  He is the one, true, only God.  And Jesus is the only “way” into the Heaven that we all want (or should want) to be a part of...

JESUS speaking: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: No man cometh unto the father, but by me.”  John 14:6

So this is where I have a slight problem with being “open” to all beliefs.  Because, clearly, God isn’t either...

“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”  Ephesians 4: 4-6

“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.  Isaiah 43:10

“Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”  I Corinthians 8:6

“For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,” says the Lord.“ Jeremiah 6...

Pretty clear.  Black, white, rich, poor, any and all walk of life... He LOVES you, and wants you to live in glory with Him in Heaven.  The only exception is... those who deny Him... Jesus... His diety... they make their own path.  And it is a dark one.  There are scriptures about that too.  But I’d rather focus on the positives, and hope and pray that those who deny Jesus Christ as the Way/Truth/Life will somehow awaken and see that He is calling them into Life.  And He wants all of mankind to accept that Love, and be a part of that eternal bliss.  Yes, there are boundaries, without which we would not be able to attempt to define and/or understand Love.  God’s Love.  Regardless of race, creed, color, religion, etc, etc, etc... God’s Love is the only thing that can save any one of us.  None of us are beneath God's ability to love and save.  Not one of us.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16