Tag Archives: Hillsong

“Answers From A Cross” (New Song #11)

In all this darkness there is a light,

A song from God, sung in the “night.”

“Where is God!” some men demand.

“Where was His, mighty, omnipotent hand?”

Sutherland Springs Texas

Devastation from stormy blast…

Stricken faces—still aghast.

“Where is God…” their whispered plea.

“Doesn’t He care? Doesn’t He see?”

~~~

“How could He care—and look away?”

“Where was His LOVE that autumn day?”

“Oh God, if You are Love; if You are Light…”

“Where was Your shield; where was Your might?”

~~~

“Dear child,” in whispers soft and low—

A Voice, now speaks, so men will know.

“This evil thing that men have done…

Is why I sent My ONLY Son.”

~~~

“Where is God? you ask of Me.

He’s hanging there—for all to see…

Upon a cross… sent by Me,

To die upon that gruesome tree!”

the price of God's grace

“For every scheme and wicked plan,

Formed and fashioned there by man,

The glory of that cross will shine,

And ‘gold’ from grief—shall be mined…

~~~

If in your deepest pain and loss,

You seek your answers at my cross?

Blood met with BLOOD—shall be redeemed!

Every… EVIL… WICKED… scheme!”

~~~

Broken hearts—now wet with tears,

Covered! Cleansed! Conquered here!

Touched with glory from above;

Sealed forever—by My LOVE…

~~~

So love conquers—death and hate;

So Love—never comes, too late!

My cross is victory’s conquering light!

My cross drives back your blackest night.

~~~

Come My child, here, you will find;

Rest for weary heart and mind.

Hope reborn—Dreams anew!

At My cross, Light shines for you.

The answer

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer;

I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33John 16:33
English: World English Bible - WEB

33 I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have oppression; but cheer up! I have overcome the world.”

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A Closer Walk: In My Suffering Just Give Me Jesus

The God-given-value of suffering is not a very popular subject, is it?

I remember once, when I was the editor of the newsletter for my church’s Women’s Ministry, I submitted some samples for a series of articles on the subject of suffering.

I wanted to use much of Isaiah and Jeremiah’s writing as an encouragement to the many women, whom I personally knew, were going through tough times.

(The idea was soundly rejected.)

Our leader at the time said, “We don’t want to hear about this stuff. Write about happy things.”

I thought at the time, “Hear that Isaiah? Just like your crowd who said, ‘speak to us smooth things’ even though Isaiah knew what was coming, and was trying to warn them; prepare them.

We’re not much different.

The subject of suffering is definitely not popular. Yet, look around you. This poor world is bleeding like never before. (And think of what is to come.) Do we not have an obligation to teach all of the Bible’s truth?

To help the hurting see the deep value of their suffering?

Not for sufferingI know our hearts and minds recoil at the idea, but don’t we do people a greater disservice, and perhaps even harm, to spoon feed them only “a saccharine-gospel” with heaping amounts of nothing but the syrupy sweet stuff piled on?

When is the last time you heard a sermon series on Jeremiah or Isaiah?

(I’m not talking about the once-over-lightly-touch.)

I mean an intense study of their books. When is the last time your pastor did an in-depth-series, on the life-transforming-power of suffering—from God’s point of view?

For myself, my answer, not once in the last thirty years!

And, you know what?

I am profoundly sick of all the sugar.

Sugar and sufferingI know sugar is very popular. (Oh, yeah.) Walk down the aisle of any Christian bookstore and the titles shout out to you from shelves (usually at eye level!) about a God whose love is demonstrated by giving you health, wealth and a painless journey.

Really?

(And what about the next time the bottom drops out of your life?)

Sugar and ashes?

Not a great combo.

Definitely, not!

For a decade before my accident, I had been listening to a steady stream of sermons made of candy-apples from cotton-candy churches. It all sounded so good—until I was living out my own private nightmare.

Then, I desperately needed substance—big heaping handfuls of tough-as-leather-hopeso I could grapple with my daily realities.

Sorrow & SufferingBecause, in the ashes?

Eyes swollen shut from tears?

Guts falling out on the floor?

Confusion and pain tearing your heart to pieces?

Trust me, you do not want sugar!

What did the old song say?

Oh, yeah… “Just give me Jesus.”

Why?

Because Jesus was on very intimate terms with sorrow and suffering.

And He’s on intimate terms with me—in mine.

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I SEE IT ALL DEAREST

Little One…

Do you think I don’t know what is happening in that heart of yours?

Child, come.

(…a little closer.)

Suffering & HopeI see it all Dearest, your pain, your confusion, those tears you think you hide (but not from Me.)

Oh, yes, a heart can weep. Your soul mourns.

I see it all—your suffering.

You wonder at My silence, don’t you?

How can I know about your pain, and seem, not to care?

(Is that about it?)

Ah, Dearest Child… your greatest growth comes through these times of silence and suffering. You come to Me. Search for Me… in your days of gladness. (Yes, I know.) But, never with the intensity; the fervency, that your suffering leads you to do.

When you hurt, ahhhh, then how you run to Me! How you seek Me out! How you grow, in depth, compassion, and understanding. Your repertoire of comfort is expanded, and therefore, you are a greater comfort to others.

(I know the cost is high.)

Worthwhile things are always born out of suffering.

(Think about it and you will see the truth.)

Suffering always precedes comfort.

Pain is always the price of purity.

How could you have the encouragement, without darkness, silence, and fear?

(I promise you.)

When suffering has polished, perfected, and purified?

Then, will come rivers of blessing for others.

(Is this not what you asked Me for?)

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“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed…”

Isaiah 41:10Isaiah 41:10
English: World English Bible - WEB

10 Don’t you be afraid, for I am with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.

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A Closer Walk: Redeeming Lamentations and Grief

I have tread the stony paths of grief more than once in my life.

Can I confess, again?

I never saw any redeeming value in these paths until very recently. Grief to me was always something to be avoided at best, or impatiently endured; gutting it out at it’s worst. I wanted to move swiftly through it; to just get it over with and be done; focusing on the finish line while ignoring the journey itself.

I mean, who thinks pain has any redeeming good?

We are taught in our Western Culture to abhor grief.

Grief is seen as something with no redeeming value, and we treat it as if it were a freakish and unwelcome enemy, when actually the very opposite is true.

I know, how could grief be a friend?

I was first introduced to this idea when I read the allegory, Hinds Feet On High Places.

In Hurnnard’s story, the heroine, Little Miss “Much-Afraid” is longingly dreaming of leaving her home, The Valley of Humiliation, and going to the beautiful and majestic High Places. She is a member of the Fearing Family, and her bullying and unkind relatives torment her at their every opportunity, especially her cousin Craven-Fear.

Much-Afraid has recently given her heart to The Chief Shepherd, who mostly lives in the High Places, and Much-Afraid longs to go there to be with Him, but has little hope of ever making the difficult journey because her feet are crippled and she often stumbles.

She is convinced that visiting The High Places is only a distant and hopeless dream.

Well, I won’t spoil the story for you. If you haven’t read the book, suffice it to say, I recommend it highly. It uses wonderful imagery to portray many of the difficult realities in our discipleship journey.

Hinds Feet: Sorrow & SufferingI bring it up here, solely to make this point.

In the story, Much-Afraid finds the courage to ask the Shepherd to help her journey to The High Places, and He grants her request.

To make sure she gets there safely, He gives her two traveling companions: one named Sorrow, the other named Suffering.

The first time I read the book I thought, “What! What kind of love is that?” She asks to go to The High Places so that she can be healed, and thereby transformed. And so, The Shepherd gives her these two “friends” Sorrow and Suffering?

(Friends?)

Most of us find this idea repulsive.

Recoiling in shock, or fear and anger, when we are introduced to these traveling companions with grief as our teacher?

Why would God do such a thing?

Perhaps, it is because we pray to be changed… transformed? To become more like Jesus?

So God agrees, takes us at our words, and answers our prayers.

Unexpectedly, we are introduced to “…the fellowship of His (Jesus) sufferings” and because we are, we wail and rail against a God, who would allow such painful things to happen to us!

So I’ll ask again, “Why do we believe these songs of lament will never be ours to sing?”

God gives us the truth via our Bibles; spells it out for us.

His unchanging and ultimate goal is to remake us into the image of His Son… by any means, at any cost.

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ALWAYS

Have I not told you the witness of two is true?

What does the 73rd psalm tell you? “…you are holding my right hand… my health fails; my spirits droop, yet, God remains! He is the strength of my heart.”

And My word in Isaiah 41?

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. [vs. 10]

Come, I see you struggling with doubt and fear.

You think, “I am alone.”

You are not. I AM here, with you.

Hinds Feet quoteNot for one second since all this began have you been alone. Although, I know, many times you felt as though you were.

Ah, those feelings of yours! They sometimes lead you a merry chase!

But I wouldn’t have you without them.

No, no! I want you to bring them with you when you come to Me. Always, but you lead the way… the feelings will follow.

Meanwhile, keep those lovely eyes… (Oh, those eyes!) Keep them on Me!

I AM present child. The difficulties, the heartbreak, will pass. I remain. Everything, every. thing. you are going through, is preparing you. Do not reject your teachers. Do not fear them.

redeeming sorrowI AM upholding you with My victorious right hand.

(I AM here little one.)

You may stumble…

You may even fall…

But I have your hand.

(Always.)

Even when it hurts.


a closer walkAnd this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; 

Philippians 3:10Philippians 3:10
English: World English Bible - WEB

10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death;

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Believing Is Not About The Outcome

I used to struggle a great deal about this believing business. Mostly because my expectations and outcomes didn’t always match up with what I was believing for.

It is easy to say to someone, “You need to trust God.”

Oh yes, that part is easy!

building trust and believingBut, if our trust is tied to our beliefs for a certain kind of outcome, and then things seem to go haywire?

Then what are we supposed to do?

Was our believing at fault?

Should we have prayed more fervently?

Isn’t my faith supposed to move mountains?

I used to stumble over these questions wondering if there was something faulty with my faith, or my praying, or my believing, until I realized one day that I kept making a very strategic wrong turn in my understanding.

I began to see that if my beliefs were based on my expectations for a certain outcome, and if that was the foundation for my trust, I would always struggle—because my expectations were so often wrong.

I needed a better basis for my trusting.

And then I saw it!

The “wrong turn” I kept making was right here:

Jesus said in John 6:29John 6:29
English: World English Bible - WEB

29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

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, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

I needed to put my confidence and trust in who Jesus had proved Himself to be, not in what He would do for me—or not do for me.

My trust couldn’t stand on my outcomes.

No, my trust had to be based on who Jesus said He was—period.

The Bible says over and over, “We live by faith, not by sight.” [2 Corinthians 5:72 Corinthians 5:7
English: World English Bible - WEB

7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.

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walk by faithThe reality of this world is that sometimes bad things happen even if all of our faith is in good outcomes.

Therefore, if my faith and trust are to survive the storms of this life, then there will be times when I must trust in what I can’t see.

walking with JesusI must learn to “walk” with stability in the unseen with my trust based solely in the One God sent.

He is my Cornerstone.

If my confidence is in Him, and my trust is built solely on the character of God’s goodness, then no matter what the outcome to my faith, prayers, and believing—my TRUST will stand on a firm foundation.

Seeds for Trust #2:

believing for God's outcome

 

Never Losing the Light: Billowing Dust Beneath His Feet

terrors of cycloneI AM in every storm child.
Let that sink in…

(Selah.)

My word says,

“He shows His power in the terrors of the cyclone and the raging storms; clouds are the billowing dust beneath His feet.” (Nahum 1:3Nahum 1:3
English: World English Bible - WEB

3 Yahweh is slow to anger, and great in power, and will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. Yahweh has his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

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I re-arrange things by storm.

Is that not My sovereign right as Creator of it all?

Remember child, storms not only wreak havoc, they bring blessing.

I know it never seems that way at first—but, think. The fiercer the storm, the more stable everything becomes—afterward.

storm downed treeThe loose, the flimsy, the decayed, these are all removed.

Only that which:
First, is firmly rooted,
Second, with solid foundations…
⦁ Will remain steadfast and standing after the hurricane has swept by—yes?

The aftermath of storms causes everything to be re-evaluated.

Is this not a blessing in disguise?

It is the same in your life. The storm tests everything; removes the flimsy, and brings a re-evaluating.

tested by stormsThe lovely by-product is that you tend to run and embrace Me tighter than ever in a storm.

This is also a blessing in disguise.

(Well, disguised for you… not Me.)

Yes, all in all, I find great satisfaction in the storm.

I AM a Creator. I AM forever making things new. Storms are merely My servants. I send them to accomplish My will.

Your storms will save you child.

stormy seas

“My mercy and justice are coming soon; your salvation is on the way”

Isaiah 51:5Isaiah 51:5
English: World English Bible - WEB

5 My righteousness is near, my salvation is gone forth, and my arms shall judge the peoples; the islands shall wait for me, and on my arm shall they trust.

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C S Lewis quote

A Closer Walk: No Turning Back

This is one of my favorite things about God: He never wastes words. God can pack more punch, in less space, than the finest writers who have ever lived.

“Decide.”

On that one little word hung everything in my future.

I had come to some sort of fork in the road with God… and I knew it.

I remembered reading somewhere once, “The Lion of Judah is a WILD lion. Every time you try to cage Him, He will break loose in your life, and do the unexpected.”

The Lion of Judah

Was that what I had tried to do—cage God?

When I looked the idea square in the eye, it did seem ridiculous, in the extreme.

Did I still want the things I had prayed for?

Those things had sounded so wonderful when I had asked God for them. Healing hearts, encouraging the hopeless, gathering the broken, it had all sounded so good. But this road I found myself on was not the kind of road I had expected we would take to do all of that.

I hated what had happened.

Now there it was, the honest naked truth.

I was feeling like I had been mauled by that Wild Lion.

(That was honest, too.)

No head-faking-bull… that was our deal.

My heart felt frozen staring at my choices… my mind was reeling.

crossroads decisionWe used to sing a song at the church I served at. Every time someone was baptized and they would go down into the water, they would come up to the sounds of the church singing, “I have decided to follow Jesus… no turning back… no turning back.”

No turning back.

Yes, in my heart, I knew I was at a crossroads.

Whichever road I chose there would be no turning back.

From this point forward everything would be different…

(And it terrified me.)

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THE PATH

Child, seeing what you see now? Knowing what you know now? Would you forsake all your shame and suffering, and go back to that place of soft easy pleasure?

You have counted some of the cost to follow Me…

the right pathWould you change course; would you do things differently, if you could?

Before you go forward, these are questions you must honestly ask yourself.

Search your heart.

Think long and hard.

The path you’ve chosen is not an easy one. There are many stones along the way; jagged and cutting. There are briars and thorns. It is a narrow way, too. Many places along this path are wide enough for only two ~ you and I.

difficult paths & higher callings

I have been sifting you. (You already know this.) But, the time is fast approaching when I will begin to sift My Church.

(You will be more alone than ever.)

Can you… will you… still go with Me?

We have to decide this now, together.

What sets your soul on fire?

I have to know that you have looked at the danger and hardship, square in the face, and chosen freely, knowing what is to come.

You know Me well enough now to know that I will never leave you.

(I need to know the same about you.)

Make your choice.

a closer walk“It was by faith that Moses… refused to be treated as the grandson of the king, but chose to share ill-treatment with God’s people… he thought it was better to suffer…” Hebrews 11:24-26Hebrews 11:24-26
English: World English Bible - WEB

24 By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to share ill treatment with God’s people, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a time; 26 accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

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Never Losing the Light: Desperate Faith

caught in stormWhen I look at you I see a magnificent ship caught up in a desperate and fierce gale; broken mast; tattered sails; but still afloat!

This hurricane you’ve sailed into has brought it’s damage for sure. I would never deny what you have endured.

But… you are carrying such a rich cargo!

No wonder the enemy has tried to sink you.

I know there were times you thought he would.

Never mind—doubt arising is not a sin.

(You have been mistaken about that.)

There are dark clouds of doubt in every storm.

dark clouds of doubt

The sin is in surrendering to them.

When the dark clouds of doubt surround you, you must listen for My footsteps. You must cry out for My aid. I will come bringing the Light of My word to guide you through the darkness.

Listen child. (hush) Be quiet now.

I AM coming, walking upon the waves of your storm, and when the time is right?

When patience has perfected you?

I will still the storm, never fear.

Doubt not Sweetheart, My love and care for you have not changed.

The storm has it’s purpose.

Lean on Me.

I AM your strength, remember?

I AM carefully observing all that is happening.

Nothing is beyond My righteous reach—nothing.

desperate faith

The damage you see is not as devastating as it looks.

Keep your eyes on Me.

Believe what you behold there.

I love your desperate faith.

(Really I do.)


we are all desperate

 

 

“Listen to Me, My people; listen O Israel, for I will see that right prevails… “

Isaiah 51:4Isaiah 51:4
English: World English Bible - WEB

4 Attend to me, my people; and give ear to me, my nation: for a law shall go forth from me, and I will establish my justice for a light of the peoples.

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A Closer Walk: Closet Control Freak

closet control freakI always believed, “I am NOT a closet control freak—I am a person of order.” A place for everything and everything in its place. That’s my motto. Chaos of mind or situation is NOT my thing. I have been accused many times of being a control freak, and to some of that I plead guilty, but guilty with good reason.

(She said smiling.)

I grew up in chaos, so I learned early in life, that if I was going to have any sense of peace or order I would have to create it myself.

my messy life

I have tried to come to some sort of truce with myself about all of this; to “give myself a break” because a child does the best they can with what life hands them, and sometimes—the coping mechanisims that were our friends in childhood—become our enemies in adulthood.

Ah, but giving them up… there’s the rub!

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with an orderly life. There’s actually a scripture that calls for us to live that way.

Again, the difficulty is that many times chaos in life is not the exception, it is the norm. Life, especially in our day and times, is full of unexpected catastrophes of endless variety. Control is only a cherished illusion. Much as I hate it, it is a truth that must be faced with honesty—but also with faith and hope.

Yeah, life goes crazy on us, but though we must acknowledge that we are not in control of anything, we can still place our faith and hope in a God who is in control of everything.

faith NOT fear(Selah?)

So, if God is in total control, then why did He allow my disaster to happen you might ask?

And to that, I give you one key word: AGENDA.

We have an agenda for our lives, but God has His, and when our agenda collides with His, well guess who wins every, single, time?

God is in control

I like what John Koessler said about agendas,

Jesus is an equal opportunity disappointer. Jesus was a disappointment, not only for people like those of Nazareth, where they drove Him out of the synagogue and tried to throw Him off a cliff, because He wouldn’t perform miracles for them, but for people in Korazin and Bethsaida, where He did perform miracles. Jesus was a disappointment to friends and foes alike… we are disappointed with Jesus because we do not see what He is really doing. It turns out that we have been laboring under a major misapprehension. Jesus came for us, but that does not mean He came to please us. Jesus came for us, but He does not answer to us. Jesus came for us, but He will not subject Himself to our agenda, no matter how good that agenda might be. Instead, Jesus demands that we submit ourselves to His agenda.   (Why Jesus Always Disappoints)

When I talk to others (like myself) who are struggling with disillusionment and disappointment with God, there is this reoccurring issue; this matter of control—God’s agenda vs. ours.

Oh, we don’t come right out and say that we think we know better than an Omniscient God. But scratch the surface of our best Christian facade, and you will find a closet control freak, fighting to get out.

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IT’S NOT MAN’S WAY

I know how much you hate it ~ being weak.

You want to conquer this thing you’re struggling with.

You want to be in control again, yes?

God in control

No… but “No.” with an explanation.

Listen My dear child, if strength were the best thing for you right now, would I not give it? You know I always do the best thing for your growth and perfection. (But, My definition of perfection, not yours.)

You want to be perfect—I want to: perfect.

(It’s not what you wanted Me to say.)

I know.

But you know Love does the best thing, not necessarily the easiest thing.

God in our ruins

(Yes, you’re right.)

It would be easy to give you this thing you’ve requested.

But, do you want the dream your way?

Do you know what the cost would be, to yourself, to others?

Do you want this dream to be less than it could be?

These are questions only you can answer. To be perfected from suffering you must yield to it ~ not clench your fists and stiffen your neck. You decide if you want everything you have asked Me for.

God's mission: partnership

I’ll wait right here, as I have been, since this tug-of-war started between us.

You must decide, whether you are to be powerful, or I AM to be powerful in you.

This is the way My Kingdom works.

It’s not man’s way, it’s Mine, Decide.”

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“…No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.”

2 Corinthians 12:92 Corinthians 12:9
English: World English Bible - WEB

9 He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me.

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