Sunday, March 27, 2016

Two Favorite Easter Songs



The word of the week is CROSS
: a long piece of wood with a shorter piece across it near the top that people were once fastened to and left to die on as a form of punishment
When I was a little girl, my favorite hymn was “The Old Rugged Cross.” I knew all the words to the first verse and the chorus, and I just loved how beautiful it was (and, it still is, of course). Now that I’m older, the third and fourth verses of the hymn speak to me the most. Here are the words to the hymn:

Written by:  George Bennard, 1913

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Refrain
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

Refrain

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

Refrain

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

Refrain
In the third verse, it says, “For ‘twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died to pardon and sanctify me.” It was Jesus death on that cross that allowed me to be cleansed of my sins. He took the punishment that was meant for you and me.

And, then, in the last verse:  "Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away, Where His glory forever I’ll share." Because of my faith in Christ, and because I am trusting Him for the forgiveness of my sins, I will someday meet Him face to face in our home in Heaven.

Listen to this version of The Old Rugged Cross sung by Dallas Holm and his wife, Linda:


With today being Easter (Resurrection Sunday), we focus not only on the death of Jesus, but mostly on His resurrection. I am thankful that, even though Jesus died on that old rugged cross, the great news is that He didn’t stay dead. God rolled that huge stone away from Jesus’ tomb, and brought Him back to life!

Another one of Dallas Holm’s songs that I grew up with is one of my all time favorites:


Someday, He will be coming back again to take His people home. I am ready for that day to come. I hope you are, too. If you aren't sure if you are "ready," or you are needing more information about this, feel free to leave a comment, or send me an e-mail. My husband and I would be happy to answer your questions.



Sunday, March 20, 2016

It's Spring!


The word of the week is SPRING.
: the season between winter and summer : the season when plants and trees begin to grow
Spring is here! Hooray! Every season is beautiful in it own way, but I really love Spring. Some of my favorite things about this season are:
  • fresh, warm breezes
  • open windows
  • Spring cleaning
  • new life (flowers, trees, grass, and baby animals)
  • the sounds of birds and frogs
  • Easter/Resurrection Sunday
  • lots of pretty colors instead of dull grays and browns

What are your favorite things about Spring?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

We Must Make the First Move

The word of the week is: FEAR
~anticipation of the possibility that something unpleasant will occur
I remember a time when I had this kind of fear, and I wasn't really aware of it until the actions of a friend opened my eyes... 

A revised article that was originally published in The Moody Student in 1989 
*
I boarded the train, relieved to have found a seat next to the window. I sat down, situated myself to a comfortable position, and strongly hoped no one would sit in the seat next to mine. However, as I waited for the train to depart, thoughts of recent events began to change my mind. I realized it might not be so bad to have a “neighbor” for the ride after all.

As a student at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, I was heading home for a three-day weekend. The plan was to take a cab to Union Station. But, to bring assurance to a loving and protective father, I let my dad know I would try to find a friend who could drive me there instead. A good friend of mine generously agreed to take me; and I admit I did feel more comfortable with him along. I also felt thankful. Not only was I thankful for the ride, but also for him opening my eyes to an important issue:  Christians need to make the first move when it comes to sharing God’s love with others.

On the drive to the station, all I could think about was the train ride, the upcoming weekend, and spending time with my family. My friend, however, had other things on his mind. He pointed out the people sitting and standing around and said, “This would be a great place to come and hand out witnessing tracts.” I agreed, but quickly forgot about his comment. Then, as we were waiting for my boarding time, my friend noticed a little old man in a pea green suit standing in front of us. When the man turned around, my friend greeted him and began a brief conversation. I realized what he was leading up to when he asked the man, “Have you ever thought about where you will go when you die?” I don't remember the full conversation, but I listened as my friend encouraged the man to look more into what the Bible has to say about life after death. Unknowingly, he encouraged me as well. He reminded me that there is a world full of little old men in green suits. There is a world of people who need Jesus. That is why, even in our busiest times, we need to think of others and be willing to spread at least a ray of light into their lives.

When my thoughts brought me back to the present, I found I was still waiting for the train to depart. A friendly young woman took the seat next to mine and I knew this could be a good opportunity to share the Gospel message with her, just like my friend had done with the old man. But, as the train started to move, the woman began reading her daily newspaper, and I began to read my college publication, The Moody Student. We hardly spoke. During the entire three-hour ride, we must have said a total of two sentences to each other. I left the train without even knowing her name. Why didn’t I follow my friend’s example? Why didn’t I talk to the woman? It’s not because I didn’t want to. As I thought about it more, I realized it was because of fear. I realized we not only have a world full of people who need Jesus, we also have a world full of Christians who are afraid to make the first move - and that definitely included me.

In Exodus 4:10, Moses was also apprehensive about speaking out for the Lord. He said to the Lord, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” He made excuses to keep from doing what God was asking him to do, because he felt inadequate and thought someone else could do a better job. But, the Lord did not excuse Moses for his perceived inadequacies. The Lord said in Exodus 4:12, “I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Instead of agreeing with Moses' complaints, He encouraged Moses, saying He would be there to HELP him.

Sharing God’s love with others is a task all Christians have been called to do. So, what should we do when we feel inadequate about it? We need to consider the words God spoke to Moses and realize He WILL help us as we speak out for Him. When we sense the need to share our faith, or even something as simple as an encouraging word, we should not let our fears or inadequacies deter us. Instead, we should fulfill what God is leading us to do, knowing He will be there to help us.

I thank God for people like my friend who deliberately shared his faith with a stranger. He was willing to make the first move. I hope we will all follow my friend’s example and allow God to help us as we intentionally share God’s love with others - through our words, and also through our actions.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

How To Praise the Lord at ALL Times

Think about this scenario for a moment: The storms of life are raging. You are feeling hopeless. It takes effort to just keep breathing. You are depressed, discouraged, disappointed, angry, or sad. Then you read Psalm 34:1 - “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” And, you think, “Bless the Lord at ALL TIMES? Praise Him CONTINUALLY? How can I praise the Lord through this? I just don’t feel like doing any praising.”

Settle your hearts, dear friends. Our praise of God should not be directed by our circumstances. We should praise God simply for WHO He is. So, when you praise the Lord, it doesn’t mean you are always happy about your circumstances. It’s not about jumping up and down with joy and excitement all the time. Did you know there are many different ways we can show our praise for the Lord?

So, let's define the word of the week: PRAISE
: to say or write good things about (someone or something) : to express approval of (someone or something) : to express thanks to, or love and respect for (God)
According to Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, words that are often used as synonyms with “praise” and help point to its meaning are: bless, exalt, extol, glorify, magnify, thank, and confess. In other words, praising God is calling attention to His glory, or giving Him the honor and respect He deserves, blessing His name even during our darkest times - simply because He is WORTHY of our praise.

Here are some ways, I found, we can praise the Lord in our difficult days. (By the way, this was the 2nd attempt to write this post. A computer glitch caused me to lose the first draft and I had to start all over again. When it happened, I was not happy. I was frustrated and disappointed. But, even in my disappointment, I was still able to praise the Lord.)

WE CAN PRAISE HIM 
THROUGH OUR PRAYERS
Psalm 66:17- I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue.

According to The Pulpit Commentary, this verse means:  I was so confident of being heard that a song of praise was already in my mouth, on the point of bursting forth.

When we pray, we are praising God, or calling attention to His glory (even when we don’t feel very cheerful), because we are acknowledging our need for God and showing we want Him in our lives. So, even when we aren't happy about our circumstances, we can praise God through our prayers when we:

1. Cry out to Him - “God, I need you.”
SONG: I Need You Now - by Plumb

2. Tell Him how we feel - worn, worried, tired, afraid.
SONG: Worn - by Tenth Avenue North

3. Ask Him to carry us through.
SONG: Footprints in the Sand - by Leona Lewis

WE CAN PRAISE HIM 
THROUGH OUR MUSIC
Psalm 147:7 - Sing to the LORD with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. (NIV)

Psalm 149:3 - Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp.

Sometimes, we just don't have any words to say, but we can still praise Him through music. We can do this by:
  1. Singing to the Lord (at least with our hearts, if not our voices).
  2. Focusing on the words when we listen to our favorite Christian music, or by playing it on a musical instrument.
  3. Dancing for the Lord.
SONGS:

WE CAN PRAISE HIM 
THROUGH OUR THANKS
Psalm 100:4 - Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

Even when life is hard, we can thank the Lord for being there to help us through it, we can focus on the good things in life, and we can especially focus on the fact that HE is always good.
SONG: Good Good Father - by Casting Crowns
I pray this has been an encouragement to you, and that you will remember you CAN praise the Lord at all times as you go about your week. You can praise Him through your prayers, through your music, and through your thanks. Even on your difficult days, He is always worthy of praise, because He is a good God, and our circumstances don’t change who He is.  
MORE SONGS:
Praise the Lord - by The Imperials
Praise You in this Storm - by Casting Crowns
10,000 Reason (Bless the Lord) - by Matt Redman
A special thanks to my husband, David, for helping me edit this post.