At the Cross

I don’t know where this pandemic finds you, but we are in a time of quiet. I know everyone isn’t in that space. My schedule has changed dramatically. I was supposed to be in Hungary for three weeks, starting April 1st, and my schedule was supposed to be pretty hectic leading up to that time.

So, here I am. Here most of us are. And, as I watch spring unfolding around me, I am thankful that God is always tweaking my perspective. He knows what I need and sometimes He makes us lie down in green pastures.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.
Psalm 23

Below is such an amazing song. I just love it! I hope it becomes a new favorite for you too!

At the Cross

Today, let’s pray for those who have wildly new routines that cause an incredible amount of stress in their lives. I am thinking of those families who have children with differing abilities that take extra care and planning and adjustments. My nephew has autism and he is just now adjusting to this major change in his schedule and life. ~ Liz

Together

One of the beautiful things that I am focusing on during these days are the ways people are working together and caring for one another. I mean, really, who would have ever thought that world leaders would be looking at one another for encouragement and strategies and solutions.

States, communities, neighborhoods — they are all looking out for one another. We each may have different rolls to play — some are larger than others — but we can each provide a helping hand, encouragement, some resources, a prayer —

Reach out to those you know and love. Check in with them. Start new traditions. Write letters. Share simple recipes. Share potential solutions to challenges people are experiencing.

For many years I was in choirs and bands and loved the way each part had a role — no one part sounded right without the others. And when everyone knew and sang their part, it was magical to me. I loved those days of harmony and being a part of something bigger than myself.

Last year, I spent a weekend at a retreat with Michael Card as the facilitator. It was a great weekend and I was reminded about his music. I know, another guy with a guitar — what can I say? Anyway, here is one of his songs and I hope you dig around and look for others!

Chorus of Faith

If you have you heard a great story of compassion during this time I would love to know about it!

Let’s pray for all the researchers who are working hard to find solutions to this crazy virus. I firmly believe their work is important for today but it may also address more issues that are bound to come up in the future. ~ Liz

Come

My music choices were very diverse when I was 13-16 and still are. I was influenced by my brothers, Top 40, choir music, band music, Casey Kasem, as well as a number of other people. But I am always drawn to guy singers and I love acoustic guitar.

I don’t remember who introduced me to John Michael Talbot but here he is and I would encourage you to explore his music. It is very meditative and simple. It is awesome for times of personal worship.

Come to the Quiet

I don’t know about you and your situation as we deal with all the complications this virus brings. But this time does beckon me to sit at the feet of Jesus and think and pray for a few things.

Let’s pray for the grocery store workers and the truckers and the warehouse people who are working hard to keep store shelves stocked. Here they are, on the front lines of this epidemic. Because we are all so much more dependent on everyone else for our food, they are our lifeline to nutrients. When you see them, say “thank you” or “we appreciate you”. They are putting their lives on the line every day.

Egypt

I don’t know who first introduced me to Keith Green, but I was pretty young, probably about 14 years old or so, when I first heard his music. It was the first time I really realized that God can use your personality and creativity for fun and music — it wasn’t all organs, stained glass windows, and liturgy.

And that was when I realized that God could use me as me. Of course, He has grown and shaped me in and through my life and experiences and He continues to do that for me. But the me who is me — my interests and personality and abilities — are a part of what He can use to reach others with His love, forgiveness, and grace.

In this time of restricted activities, I am thankful the opportunity to pray and fill my mind with good things is permitted! Have you been missing opportunities for Bible Study? There are some amazing options out there! And churches are working on offering sermons and Bible studies. And, believe it or not, we might miss church and gathering together but God’s Word is still the base of what we need. When it comes right down to it, the gathering is nice but The Word is what is essential! Find ways to surround yourself with God’s Word and use this time to dig deeper and discover more about His love and grace — how it applies to you and how it can be shared with others!

There are a lot of great, thoughtful, and meditative songs by Keith so be sure to check his stuff out on YouTube, but, three super fun but deep songs are linked here — LISTEN TO THE WORDS!

So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt

He’ll Take Care of the Rest

No One Believes in Me Anymore (Satan’s Boast)

Has God blessed you through a certain musician on musical group? I would love to know one of your favorite songs performed by your favorite artist!

Today, let’s pray for those who are bringing God’s Word in new ways to those who are desperate for some Good News! Hopefully, you are one of those people! ~ Liz

Jesus

Music soothes my heart and soul and Fernando Ortega always hits the spot. Of course, he is singing about Jesus and that is the main reason this song is amazing. If you need some Jesus in your playlist, I encourage you to look into Fernando.

And, quite honestly, we all need Jesus in our playlist.

How are you doing during these days of social distancing? We are taking it pretty seriously at our house. We are doing our part to minimize the spread of this crazy virus. I hope you are too!

I do think restrictions and downtime allow for more creative expression. Otherwise, people are just busy running to and fro. It has been great to see so much creativity and generosity showing up in my Facebook feed. This is the time when Facebook can really shine. And what a crazy situation that is bringing the whole world together even though we have to be very separate. What a dichotomy!

Today, let’s lift up in prayer those who are in the medical field and facing this virus every day. Pray they are able to thoroughly clean themselves before they enter their home so they don’t spread the virus. Pray the supply of medical supplies matches the needs. Pray for the researchers — that the world of researchers finds the solution.

For the time being, I will move to PrayerPoints every day instead of just once a week. And I will share some amazing songs by amazing artists each day so we can start the day with some perspective!

God’s peace to you today!

The Stain of Sin

I have been sinning since the beginning of my time. I still sin. It is a part of my human condition but I have been working on my stuff. I can say “I am sorry”. I can ask for forgiveness. I can work on not sinning, and yet, I still sin. I know God forgives me for the large and small sins and wipes it clean away but, in this world, the stain of sin can remain, for a lifetime.

And that can be a lifetime of me being needled by satan. He loves to try to condemn, particularly those who have been forgiven. The devil wants to wrestle away my peace that passes all human understanding and convince me that I am stained and unusable, that His healing work can’t possibly work through this mess.

This mess of me.

But God can and He does. He can do it for you too! Lord, let me focus on Your work of healing. Let me trust You to work on the stains of my sin. I know you see me through the beauty and perfection of Jesus, but sometimes the world can see my stains and I feel condemned all over again!

Thank you for your gift of Jesus and His sacrifice on my behalf! Amen.

From God the Father, virgin-born

From God the Father, virgin-born
To us the only Son came down;
By death the font to consecrate,
The faithful to regenerate.

Beginning from His home on high,
In human flesh He came to die;
Creation by His death restored,
And shed new joys of life abroad.

Glide on, O glorious Sun, and bring
The gift of healing on Your wing;
To eve’ry dull and clouded sense
The clearness of Your light dispense.

Abide with us, O Lord, we pray;
The gloom of darkness chase away;
Your work of healing, Lord, begin,
And take away the stain of sin.

Lord, once You came to earth’s domain
And, we believe, shall come again;
Be with us on the battlefield,
From ev’ry harm Your people shield.

To You, O Lord, all glory be
For this Your blest epiphany;
To God, whom all His hosts adore,
And Holy Spirit evermore.

Translated by John Mason Neale, 1818-66

Hark! The herald angels sing

Hail, the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”
*

We don’t use the word hark so much these days. But I could benefit from listening more. One of the things I love about this time of year is that there are so many reminders, mainly through song, of the Prince of Peace.

Even those who are struggling with their faith.

They hear the songs all over the radio. They might catch a line here or there that gives them something to ponder. These hymns have some great messages tucked inside.

Hark!

There are so many amazing Christmas hymns that are broadcast all over the radio and in stores. I love that it is the background music but I also need to let the messages come to the forefront and penetrate my heart. Thinking about some of these hymns, verse by verse, helps them sink in just a little more. I love to read a verse and then find one thing that strikes me in that verse and ruminate on it.

Do you have a favorite Christmas hymn?

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

* Words written by Charles Wesley 1707-88

Veiled in Flesh

Christ, by highest heav’n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as Man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel!
*

I love how God works! He often takes the ordinary and does something amazing with it.

Our Redeemer was veiled in flesh.

And He dwelt among us. Who would have thought to look in a stable, amongst the animals?

When I ponder this plan it is both simple and complex:

  • So very rich and yet, so very poor.
  • So very dirty and yet, so very pure.
  • So very quiet and yet, so very loud.
  • So very vulnerable and yet, so very protected.
  • So very loved and yet, so very pursued.

As I think about the events that led up to the birth of Jesus, it is hard not to consider my own culture and experiences and make my own applications. I relate as I can but it doesn’t mean I have an accurate picture. Of course these things happened so long ago that it is hard to imagine the circumstances.

And so I trust that the One who has created the earth and all stars was able to execute the delivery of the Christ Child.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

* Words written by Charles Wesley 1707-88

God and Sinners Reconciled

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With the angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
*

I enjoy listening to Christmas hymns and songs. When I hear Christmas music “out of season” (for me that is before Halloween), it is unusual, but not offensive. I love the familiarity of the songs and the reminders of what we are celebrating: the best songs call attention to the newborn King!

We are desperate for peace on Earth. Sometimes we are even desperate for peace in our homes. I think it is safe to say we all have something that is out of place or causes our heart to ache. It could be a strained relationship or a hope that is unfulfilled. And we seek peace — sometimes in places where peace cannot be found. Our peace can be compromised by what we have done and by what we have left undone. And yet God desires for us to be reconciled to Him so much that He has made the way, through Jesus. He is our Peace.

God providing a way for our peace and for sinners to be reconciled to Him is a pretty big deal. And singing the words (even if your heart struggles) feeds your spirit.

Thank you, Father, for providing peace and mercy through Christ. His birth ushers in our path for reconciliation to You. Let us make space for Your work to be done in and through us.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

* Words written by Charles Wesley 1707-88

Close the path to misery

Oh, come, O Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav’nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel
Translated: John Neal, 1818-66

There is a path to misery.

Sometimes I have been railroaded down it by circumstances mixed with the company I kept. Sometimes a bout with depression can send me on the path to misery, but it’s not a journey I wish on anyone. Sometimes, our life isn’t actually very miserable but we find ourselves feeling miserable and that is a often a choice. It would be important to get to the root of the misery.

I am not a psychologist. I know I have a positive temperament and I don’t know whether it is a nature or nurture thing. I watched my mom deal with difficult things and it was rare for her to show she was discouraged. Others I know take a tiny negative thing (yes, a very insignificant happening) and it triggers them to an outburst that makes it seem like their world is collapsing.

I do not get it.

I pray that God closes that path to misery for me. But He doesn’t promise that at all.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. [James 1:2-3. ESV]

Joy in the midst of devastating circumstances is not something I have perfected. God’s Word says to count it all joy but I think the best I can wrap my head around is give me peace in these circumstances. We do all have different definitions of trials but I look at the difficult things in my life and it pales in comparison to the difficulties of others.

Lead me to the path that leads on high!

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz