The Echo of A Tune

A beautiful, ebony grand piano sits in a room fashioned for the grandeur of the magnificent instrument. You have known and heard what beautiful music could come from it. You could sit and look at it for hours, but in any one of those hours gazing at it, would you gain any knowledge or understating about the music that can come from it? The instrument itself can’t teach anything. You could buy a house full of pianos and could stare at them. You could even sit on the bench and play the keys, and you would never know one thing of the beauty of a Bach Prelude, or a Beethoven Sonata. I’m sure you can see where I am gong with this. To understand, to gain knowledge we have to be taught by a teacher, not the piano. The piano is just the instrument, in and of itself its just wood, plastic and strings.

One piece by Mozart moved me so profoundly, when I heard it, and played it, I had this thought of the weight of pain and suffering we sometimes endure in this life, and then at the end of the piece Mozart transitioned to a major key and the piece just ended glorious and that part made me think of our restoration that is found in Jesus. Now, I could not have been taught that from the piece alone. It just came through the piece. The piece did nothing to teach me that there is restoration and redemption through Jesus. I’m quite sure Mozart wasn’t thinking that when he composed it, but for me the music was.a perfect backdrop for the truth that had already been illuminated to me.

CS Lewis said, “The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”

What are we seeking to try to get to God? What path are we taking? No amount of nature walking, mountain climbing, book reading, degree earning, charity giving, will bring us to a greater knowledge of God. Jesus said, “I am the way” If we want to understand and know God, read the Bible, pray regularly, and worship and serve with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Any other path will get choked. Anything can become a religion, a set of beliefs and worship, but is that getting you any closer to God?

I don’t want the counterfeit that will just break my heart. I want the tune in my heart that sings of His praises and for His glory. We have beautiful echos here that God has given us, nature, music, literature, family, but these things are echos of the glory that awaits. May those things point us to the source of the beauty.

And The Answer Is………???

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How do Christians respond in such a polarized society?

What side do Christians take with sensitivities running high? 

The message is……….it’s the same as it’s always been! The answer is Jesus! The answer is the gospel. Forget trying to argue about which lives matter, whether or not white supremacy exists. If we stick to the message of the gospel and live our lives filled with the Holy Spirit, this is the main thing that will transform and produce change! 

No other message has the power like the gospel! 

Even Christians are dividing because we are getting off the main thing, the gospel. Is the gospel and the Word of God enough or not?

Who are we trying to please first? The world? Or God? 

Jesus said, “If the wold hates you, remember it hated me first.” John 15:18

The closer we get to the Lord and the more we preach Him, you can guarantee more backlash and heat coming up against you. It will make you question whether you are doing the right thing, with so many people coming up against you. We better keep our barometer in check. How are we measuring our actions…..by the way the world reacts, or buy His Word?

I don’t want to be rejected, I don’t want to be unliked, but the bottom line is, the more we stand up for Jesus the more enemies we will find. So then what? We love them! We keep speaking the truth in love. We show genuine kindness and care, because God loved me in all my sin and brokenness. In our love to God, we treat all with love and respect regardless of how they treat us. It’s a hard pill to swallow, and the only way is through his Spirit helping us in our weakness. 

Jesus was rejected, Jesus had many enemies and what did he do? Did he try to argue the latest political argument? No, He cut straight to the point. Just to name a few:

He said, “I am the way the truth and the Life no one comes to the Father but by me.” John 14:6

He said, “Your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more.” John 8:11

He said, “Father Forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

He said, “Come unto me, all you who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

He said, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17

He said, Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3

Jesus preached love, but he preached about sin and repentance. 

Kindness and love, everyone can agree with you on that..but when you start talking about sin, and that all of us are sinners, in need of saving, then the offense comes. The good news doesn’t have much value to us if we don’t first deal with the bad news.

If we approach all the problems in the world with the presupposition that everyone is basically good, then quickly everything falls like a house of cards. No one likes to admit that they are the problem, but it is indeed where the problem is. 

I am the problem, I’m a sinner, and I need Him every minute of day. He is the only one that is good and He is the answer to all our problems. He is the solution. but it starts by looking in the mirror and crying out to God as the Psalmist says, ” Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

Now this is where I get to preaching! Whoops! Sorry! Not sorry! ( I get it honest, preacher’s kid here)

Let us step down off our moral high horses and elevate the One who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! He is our answer! He is the only answer to peace and love. He is the definition of love and peace, all other is a fake. The answer is Jesus! The answer is, He saved me, He rescued me from the pit of despair. I was lost, without hope and He found me, and I am here to tell you about Him. He is inviting you too. There is reconciliation and it is through Jesus. There is healing and it is through the name above all names! To Him be honor and glory both now and forever. Amen!

Take hold of That For Which Christ Jesus Took Hold of Me

All have fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) This is the first step to progress. We can’t know the depths of forgiveness until we know the depths of sin. The reality of forgiveness will come when we face the reality of sin. Stare down sin in all of its fulness so you can know forgiveness in all of its fullness. We are full of sin. We are wretched. This is where the truth starts. The truth doesn’t start with forgiveness. What’s the value of forgiveness if there is no price for sin? We have to stare it down. Search my heart, Lord!

In Psalm 51, the Psalmist is staring down his sin. “For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.

When we have stared sin down in its face, it’s time to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. What is “that”? It says take hold of “that” The “that” is the gospel. The “that” is that I am a wretched sinner that was lost, but because of his death on the cross that paid my penalty and the power of this resurrection, I am raised with Him a new creation, no longer held by the chains of my sin. I am free in Christ! This is the “that” for which I am to take hold of.

Our progress has only one source and activator and it’s Jesus. Apart from him we can do nothing.  We, on our own, can’t produce and progress. 

When we lay hold to the Truth, that’s when progress is happening.  Psalm 51: 6 says, “Delight in the truth in the inward being.” The Truth is Jesus! If we are attached to the Root,  we will bear fruit.  If we aren’t attached to the Root, we will wither and dry up. 

Lord I thank you that you have washed me clean and brought me to life!

Difficult People

Run, run far away! Isn’t that what we want to do?  When we are dealing with difficult people, and situations, let’s just say, we’d rather not, but we can run, hide and avoid every time, and in a minute we are faced with another one. 

First, we are all fallible humans, with personality quirks, difficult pasts, stories and hurts. We also can be pretty selfish. We instinctively think of our selves first, our feelings, our hurts, our loves, and when one or all of these things gets infringed upon or we are put in an uncomfortable situation, we want to flee, do we not? Or we want to fight, but neither of these are the best answer.

Jesus said “love your neighbor as yourself.” 

He didn’t say, love only the neighbors that are easy to get along with.

“Jesus, you can’t really mean I need to love that person that is difficult?”

Yes he said, “love your neighbor as yourself”, and he said, “love your enemy.” Jesus must have got that one wrong, right? He must have meant, fight your enemy!

It’s a tall order, and no one does this instinctively, so how in the world are we able to?

He gives us the power to do it through His spirit. He is helping us in our weakness. The apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The key words are, “through Christ”

Try and do it on your own power, it’s too much! We can’t carry that. Jesus said, “Come unto me all you who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest.”

He will carry it and give us the grace to follow through. 

Try it! 

The next time you are approached by a difficult person, and it will be soon, pray, Lord help me in my weakness, give me grace to handle this person with love and care. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. You may not get a fuzzy feeling; most likely you won’t. Love is not a feeling it’s an action. Go against your own feelings, and act in the way you know is right.

God will bless it and work in it and through it. This is how walls of hostility are torn down. 

Second, I have been the “difficult person” in someone’s life, I can actually think of a several times right now. We’ve all been the difficult person.

When I am pointing the finger, I try to remember to look at myself first. That’s not easy though.

How are we difficult sometimes? It’s good to look at our own flaws and short comings. 

The good news is, God loves us in our messy difficulties. He loves us in our moaning and complaining. He loves us in our grumpiness. He is patient with us. God knows we are not capable of living this out perfectly, but if we will come to Him and let Him work in us, He will help us and give us the grace we need, but we must call upon Him. He won’t force His way. 

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Knock! Knock!

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There is a knock at the door, you hear it, now what do you do? You may be like me, sneaking to the window to get a glimpse of who it is. “Oh no! It’s a salesman. Be quiet!” You wait. They knock again. “Shhh……..not a peep.” They finally go away. You hear another knock at the door…oh its your friend who happened to be in the neighborhood. You gladly open the door, “please come in!” You are so excited to see your friend.

Why do we hide from the stranger/salesperson, but welcome the friend? Don’t you think it might have a little something to do with trust? We don’t know that salesperson, we don’t know what they are selling, and we don’t want to get hung up in a long ordeal, in short we know they aren’t knocking because they care about us, they just want to sell us on something. We know our friends, we trust them, we know they love us, and we love them. We know they decided to knock because they care about us.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation 3:20 NLT

Jesus is knocking on the door of our hearts. In the morning he knocks, “Good Morning Johanna, let’s have a morning talk.” In the middle of the day, He knocks, “walk with me.” In the evening, He knocks, “lets dine tougher.” When I am sick, He knocks, “I am your healer.” When I am restless, angry, or sad, He knocks, “I am your shepherd, I am your strength.” When I am discouraged, disappointed, and burned out, He knocks, “I am your comforter.” He knocks again and again, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die.” John 11:25 N:LT

Will we open the door when he knocks. Do you trust Him? Is He your friend.? Are you hiding from Him? Open the door. He is waiting and He will continue to knock. He is patient, He wants your heart. You wouldn’t turn down your friend who happened to be in your neighborhood to come pay you a visit, so how much more should we not turn down the knocking on our hearts door, from the One who is Life.

“Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling
Calling for you and for me
See on the portals He’s waiting and watching
Watching for you and for meCome home, come home
Ye who are weary come home”

Prayer

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When we pray according to what we think is possible or impossible, we most certainly will determine what is worth praying about and our prayers end up being not much of a prayer, but our own proclamation. We have made a decision for God, when that was none of our business. I am writing this, because I experience this. I am guilty of this.

In O. Hallesby’s book titled “Prayer” he says, “….whether the fulfillment of our prayer is hard or easy for God. What we think or do not think about this has no bearing on the hearing and answering of prayer. Not only that, it has a blighting and destructive effect upon our prayer life, because we waste our strength which is not our concern, and which our Lord never asked us to be concerned about.”

When we get busy already determining the answers to our prayers, we won’t get very far in our prayer life. If we have decided the answers to our prayers, how can we have faith? It seems more like a conversation with ourselves than a prayer.

So it got me thinking….our prayer life will not deepen, if we don’t know who God is and keep reminding ourselves of who He is. I mean really know who he is, not our idea of him. We can have an idea about God, and then there is the truth about who God is. How do we know and determine who God is? Well we don’t come to know him from just looking on the inside and whatever feels right and sounds good. No cherry picking. Some say God can’t be known, but this is false. Romans 1:19 says, “They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.”

He can be known. He has made himself known to us, in two ways, through creation, and through His Word( the revealed Word, the Bible)

Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” So it’s impossible to have a rich prayer life if we don’t know who He is. When we come to Him acknowledging the truth of who He is, then we trust that he will answer according to His will and good timing.

Have you ever held back bringing up a difficult conversation with someone, because you already had decided how that person will answer? How foolish! It’s never our business to project how someone will answer. Let them do the answering. The difference with God is he gave us promises to stand on, we may not get all the details on how He answers our prayers, but we can trust that how and when He answers, it will be good. We can trust that He always hears and will answer according to his perfect will and for our good.

Prayer is not a chess game; I will make my move, but I have anticipated your moves, so I won’t go over here or over there because I know what you will do

We need faith. Why, because anyone who comes, must believe. What does he do when we come to him in faith? He rewards those who seek him in this faith; that means he answers. He will answer in His good and perfect will and timing. We can trust this. He will not fail.

Do you know the truth about who God is? God is not just some cosmic being out there somewhere that has no relational bearing on our every day life or one that we only come to a few times a year for things we think are prayer worthy.

How is your prayer life? What have you given up praying about, because you predetermined it was too hard for God. What have you not offered up in prayer because you thought it too petty and could just deal with it yourself?

I am working on this in my own life. When I pray, I first and foremost give praise and thanks for who God is, and for his grace in my life. We would do good to spend a lot of time in this area of prayer, it will strengthen our faith when we make our requests known to Him. When we praise Him for making the sunset and the sunrise, and praise Him for the very breath that he gave me this morning, we begin to see the power of God and how BIG he really is. Get your microscope out and start praising God for every little thing, and then with boldness of faith make your requests known to God and leave the answering to God.

Psalm 34:1 “I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise will always be on my lips.”

BUT JOY COMES IN THE MORNING!

We have every reason to praise God and wait for Him. He has shown His great love and faithfulness! How do you deal with your sufferings? You endure them for a time, but it is not the last word!  All through scripture we see God working out good in the midst of suffering. So, when you are experiencing a trial or hardship, press on….because JOY comes in the morning, but it is only through Jesus that this is available; no other way. All other roads lead to death. There is only one way that leads to life. 

Yes we endure suffering for a time, BUT JOY comes in the morning! 

Jesus was despised…BUT JOY! 

Jesus was rejected….BUT JOY! 

Jesus was beaten…..BUT JOY! 

Jesus was mocked….BUT JOY! 

Jesus hung on a cross….BUT JOY! 

Jesus died……BUT JOY! 

He conquered sin and death! 

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to JESUS the founder and perfected 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 God. Hebrews 12:1b-2

What are you going through? 

Have you been rejected? …….BUT JOY!

Have you been beaten down, burned out, worn out?……BUT JOY!

Have you lost your job?……BUT JOY!

Have you gotten a cancer diagnosis?……….BUT JOY! 

Have you been treated unfairly?…….BUT JOY!

Are you experiencing broken relationships?………BUT JOY! 

Do you endure physical pain and exhaustion?………BUT JOY! 

We don’t know how long we have to endure, but the promise is, it isn’t the last word. We must run the race….and look to Jesus who endured the suffering for us so that we can say in the midst of our trials…...BUT JOY COMES IN THE MORNING! 

Weeping may tarry for a night, but JOY comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5b

I hope this is an encouragement to you, because I found it a great encouragement. 

The JOY of the LORD is your strength! 

Is He Enough?


What if you lost your job? Your money, your family, your health, your friends, your reputation? If one or all were lost, would God still be enough?
This really got me thinking, about what we really believe to be true. It all comes to the surface when we are put in the fire. When the pressure comes down on us, our beliefs are exposed. I think we have to get the understanding of “more than enough”; what it means and what it does not mean.

What do we normally associate the word “enough” with? You hear things like, “I’ve had enough.” This could mean I am finished with this, or I am putting an end to this. It could mean I am full, I’ve reached my max capacity or I don’t have room for more. If we put these meanings, with the meaning of God being enough, it doesn’t seem to fit. “Enough” is not synonymous with lacking in need. “Enough” does not mean we never hunger and thirst. “Enough” can’t mean that I am so full, I can’t have anymore.

So what does it mean? We are a needy people. We are a people that are created to worship. The apostle Paul says, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” God supplied the Israelites with manna every morning to supply their daily needs during the 40 year period in the desert. God provided. They couldn’t store it up for a month, they were only given what they needed right then and it sustained them, but you also know the story that they began to moan and groan about the manna not being satisfactory. They had set up idols in their hearts. They were focused on their circumstances and the present moment. They were looking at what was seen instead of what is not seen, the eternal things. When we take our eyes off of God we fall prey to looking to other things to meet the need, and we want more, more, and more of this thing, and it doesn’t really meet the need,. We need Him every moment of every day. The need is always there. The longing is always there. If you don’t fill up on Him, you can guarantee you will attempt to fill it up some other way, except you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. We were created for Him and Him alone, and only that will fit. It will be enough. “Enough” covers the whole picture, past present, and future. All the fullness of life, meaning, and destiny are wrapped up in Him. So is He enough, the God who causes the sun to rise and set, the God who calms the storm, the God who gives us breath? He is enough! He is more than enough. Not only is He the completion, he also never runs out! We can never tire of filling up on Him.

So whatever trial, suffering, or hardship that you may be walking in, God is more than enough to carry you through it. He will supply all your needs. He doesn’t lie. Look not to things that are seen, but look to the things that are unseen. He is preparing an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Going back to “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” We were created to worship and enjoy God forever. He is eternally rich, rich in love, rich in power, rich in wisdom, rich in grace, rich in goodness, rich in patience, rich in joy, rich in peace, rich in kindness, rich in mercy, rich in faithfulness. God is rich in righteousness and holiness. Nothing can compare, How do we have access to this? Through Jesus.. Jesus is our mana. He is enough. He will sustain us. We need to keep our eyes looking to Him.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

The Choice

A person is guilty, locked up in a prison cell on death row, no hope. The judge out of His mercy and grace unlocks the prison cell. This cell door is wide open, “You are free.” Now the man has a choice, he can decide to stay inside the cell; he might have gotten used to the cell, or he can walk out of the prison cell and accept this gift of exoneration. If he chooses to stay in the cell, that is of his own doing. If he walks out, it is of his own doing.  If he chooses to walk out, wouldn’t he give all the praise and thanks to the judge that set him free? He didn’t save himself. There was no hope for him if the Judge had not unlocked that door and opened it. The act of him walking outside the prison cell by no means gives himself glory, after all he is still guilty, the Judge has only declared him free by His grace and mercy. He is the only one with the power to do that. 

Now, there are many men/women locked up in that prison…the Judge walks down the hallway…does he choose which doors to unlock and open or does he unlock and open them all? Does he decide only a certain few get the mercy and how would he determine who gets the mercy? If this would be true it would be easy to suspect some are more special than the other, and the prisoner who was chosen might say, “he chose me and not you, I’m pretty special.” It would be easy to boast in this. But, if God opened all the prison door cells, extended the mercy to one and all; isn’t it  a gift to all regardless of anyone’s deeds circumstances, and status, etc. Would we not have any reason to boast but in the Judge that has set us free!

The question is what will  we do; take the gift through the mercy and grace that his been given, or pull the prison cell door shut and stay inside? There is a choice and each one is without excuse. Will you choose freedom or bondage? Will you choose life or death?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Kings and Kingdoms Will All Pass Away

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We are all waking up daily confronted with the crisis of our current global state, and if that weren’t enough, we have relatives fighting cancer and other illness and trials. It’s a rough state we are all in, people are losing their jobs and the stable life they knew. In short, people are walking around in fear and worry.

We get used to the idea that we’ve got it ALL under control. I work hard to make a living. I try to plan appropriately. I exercise and eat well, so I can remain healthy, Yesterday morning I walked a whopping 7 miles. One of the reasons I walk is to keep my back in shape because I have a herniated disc, that tends to go out now and again and produces excruciating pain. I was feeling confident after my 7 mile trek and then a few hours later at the grocery store, I picked up a heavy case of water the wrong way and was thrown to my knees in pain. Here I am debilitated again. For the last 24 hours I have been in complete surrender. I can do very little without help.

I am reminded of our frailty. Our health will eventually fail us. The bank account is not a sure thing. We can see how the world has been turned on its head in a blink of an eye. Yes, kings and kingdoms indeed will all pass away, but there is one King who reigns eternal, this Kingdom will not pass away. Jesus is my King. He is the only One who is the same yesterday, today and forever. He will not fail us. I believe that all that we are going through is a wake up call to our idols and dependency on the kingdoms of this world. The apostle Paul said “set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” CS Lewis said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”

I confess my aim gets off, and when I wander off, God in His loving grace and mercy takes his staff and gently, but firmly pulls me back into the fold.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, there is a sober and frank bit of wisdom, “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” ” Nothing is new under the sun.” I am so glad the story doesn’t end there. At the end of the book, the wise Solomon points us to where the meaning is, “Remember your creator in the days of your youth.”

A poem by CT Studd says it very clearly and put it into perspective:

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last”

I want my life to point to Jesus. The only Kingdom that stands is the Kingdom of God, and as a believer, I am part of that kingdom. My hope is built on Jesus! What are you putting your faith and trust in? If our trust is in Him, we have nothing to fear.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

Put your trust in Him!