I've often recalled moments in church meetings - whether large or small - where people regularly prayed together for needs or even confessing struggles or, dare I say... sins. These were some of the most impactful and impressionable moments in my life and continue to be today...
"...The prayer of a righteous person is powerful & effective."
There is great strength & health in heartfelt confession to others when we have sinned. If you remember anything from this little note, remember that.
When we acknowledge our sin to each other (when we humble ourselves and trust our family and friends in Christ) we open a powerful, relational door, full of humility and practical encouragement and support. Yes, this can be risky, but with wisdom there are incredible perks and advantages.
God is faithful when we come to him privately, but He has made us family. We are a community that is meant to do life together.
I remember the churches that our family was a part of when I was growing up. (Yes, there were a few as my dad's jobs had us moving a lot. :)
They were communities who had regular times at the end of Sunday meetings where we were invited to come for prayer if we wanting support. Others, then, would come and buddy up with each person, respectfully ask what they would like prayer for and... pray.
Sounds simple, but in hindsight, they were some of the most memorable moments in church gatherings for me personally. Sometimes I was the one needing prayer and other times I was the one listening and praying for. We became family in these sacred spaces. They were personal, earned trust, and grew humility. We realized, just as James goes on to say in verse 17, that we were all humans on a challenging journey with a supernatural God. We needed Jesus and each other.
Confession is a beautiful, risky, powerful thing that gives great gifts in return. Healing, wholeness, support, and a bond in trusted community, to name a few. I think the greatest gift that it brings though, is humility. For where humility is, judgement is not.
We are the family of God. Should we not be able to come to each other with our struggles to pray, encourage, cheer or cry with one another?
I believe in a church like that... the family of Jesus, full of mercy and patience as we bring our struggles to the Lord, supporting each other in love.
We can be that church for each other.
PEACE. Where does it come from? Is it a state of being or a being itself?
I have only found one sustaining answer to these questions.
I've experienced peace in it's several forms - at the side of a lake, in a breathtaking sunset, rocking a baby to sleep, sleeping... But what happens when I wake up, or the baby cries or the sun sets?
I've also known the presence of peace in the most awful times in ways that are beyond explanation, defying the circumstances surrounding it. But where does peace come from?
Peace comes from knowing that my feet are on a solid floor and that my destiny is not flippant.
Peace is the calm under the the top side of a lake that is being battered in a storm, or the warm fire in a house while a storm is wrecking everything outside.
Peace is knowing that I am being held up by someone bigger, wiser and stronger than myself, when I feel like all hell is crashing down.
Peace is surety that isn't always felt. It's a trust. A knowing that we are somehow being taken care of by someone who is larger, yet more present in the details then we could ever be; someone who is greater than the sum of all trouble.
My only answer to this question is outside of myself. I have experienced and continue to know true peace regardless of what is swirling inside or around me. From the most minute disturbance to the deepest cut, peace has come to me when I have asked. Yes, peace has a name and this name could sleep in the middle of a storm.
God is peace. He is stable footing in any situation. He is there in the small, irritating times and in the 'monstrous, I feel like I'm suffocating and can't go on' times. He is here by his spirit, through his son, Jesus. Yes, this is why Jesus came so many years ago to live on earth...
He is peace. He is here for us. All we have to do is ask.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33, NIV)
I woke up this morning thinking about ...
I then thought of our recent trip to Sierra Leone. Even though I have never seen such poverty physically, it seemed that joy was just waiting around every corner of our trip! I was stunned. People of all ages would gather, pull out instruments, and song, smiles and dance would erupt as people took great pleasure praising Jesus!
My mind then flew over the past years and I started to wonder if I am still a person of joy. Have I become a bit complacent in my everyday @ home zone? Do I live joy? Am I fun to be around? Do I make others smile? How often do I come to Jesus in my day and just worship Him with the passion inside of me? Oh, such good questions to ponder! These are healthy ones.
I know that I find joy when I am with God, when I allow everything else in my world to be still and I turn the eyes of my heart and mind toward Him... and worship. Oh, such love and joy in those moments.
Joy is found in something other than myself. Joy is in community and in knowing the pleasure shared in relationship. Bruce and I have moments of great joy and, in essence, have a joy-full life together. Joy is a heart full of love spilling out its immense warmth and pleasure toward someone else.
In fact, it occurred to me that this is all about others! For example, look at all the fruit of the Spirit an you'll see that community is required. What good is kindness without someone to be kind toward or patience if you never have to wait for anything from someone else? Think of it, gentleness, faithfulness, love, all rely on someone or something other than ourselves. What a gift from the Father, that He would give us resources and fruit from and for community!
That is why we need, I need, to come and be with God in the secret place for it is there that joy is fully experienced. The bonus is that we can come and never worry about offending God with our volume, style, repetitiveness, skill level, or lyrical ingenuity. We will find Him entertained by our heart. His joy will be known.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
About this Track
This is a passionate cry that originated from an extremely disturbing dream I had a couple of years ago. I literally saw someone choose death over life. I watched a beautiful soul shrivel up and die. It was horrible! I was a mess...
I started asking myself what I was doing to help bring Jesus to those around me.
I could hear the words from Romans, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
And Isaiah 60, "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
And that's when I started writing my heart in this song.
I hate to admit this, but it's been too easy for me to focus on the negative, to see the darkness encroaching on our world. I've had to constantly give my discerning and compassionate heart to Jesus to turn toward hope and light. I did that again on this day and peace settled in along with a call to step into His mission of love. Maybe this song is just for me. Or, maybe you find yourself in a similar spot that needs encouraging.
God has already come in the form of Jesus Christ to bring His light, hope and salvation to those who would choose Him. This song is a call to His church. A call to have hope and remember that Jesus has come and given His light to the world. This song is a call to revisit and engage with the compassionate heart of God and to take the gospel of His kingdom to a hurting world.
Will you allow your heart to stir for those who are lost, your neighbours, co-workers, classmates, family?
"Go out, go out creation waits
It's raining outside this morning.
Fall is definitely upon us, not necessarily because it is raining but because the temperature has dropped to 0° Celsius and it is still dark at 7:30 am!
As I grab my morning coffee and settle into my secret spot to meet with God, I recall what I felt He showed me the day before. I was excited because I sensed Him leading me to meditate on what the purpose of music had been throughout Biblical history. I was particularly excited as I hoped for insight that would inspire me today as I stepped into my own spheres of influence.
I settled and opened the Bible app to start the adventure. My eyes caught the verse for today...
"The light shines in the darkness,
I stopped. I read it again... "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
This didn't have anything to do with the subject of music, but I felt instantly refreshed! I took another deep breath, read it again, and peace settled in.
Will you come down the side trail that happened as a result of this?
I was thinking today, family isn’t a status.
Please inquire for the word of the LORD today. 1 Kings 22:5