#HowToBuild: Standing Your Ground

One of my favorite shows used to be ALIAS! Awesome music, Jennifer Garner kicking butt and saving the world, and of course I can’t leave out it was one of the first shows where the writers decided it’s not really necessary to leave a dead person dead! So an important character dies, but somehow they are back in Season 4. Love it! But anyway…

On that show, there was an evil man named Alvin Sloane. Time after time, he was always showing up with manipulation and just enough truth to get his lies accepted by his co-workers. Mr. Sloane wasn’t genuinely trusted by the third season or so, but there were times the CIA needed to use his expertise anyway and he would be in the brainstorming room giving suggestions. In one particular scene, they were discussing a problem and he piped in with his suggestion rather strongly, and the heroine, Sydney Bristow, who especially was aware of his ability to trick people, said: “Excuse me, you have no authority in this room.”

Remember that.

We are waking up every morning to an opportunity to walk in the flesh or walk in the Spirit, right? Like it or not, and actually even believe it or not, we are also waking up to the presence of both light and darkness, Jesus and the enemy of our souls. If we are in Christ, we have His presence around us and His Spirit within us. We can awaken to it and acknowledge it, by worshipping, digesting His Word, praying…or we can do nothing and sink deeper into the flesh, which is more Satan’s playground than we like to think.

He’s having a blast wreaking havoc in us and around us when we have chosen to stay in the flesh, yet he never actually had the authority to do that. He does it simply because we didn’t tell him not to. We have to stand our ground.

It may look like a sudden sense of confusion, or a sudden line of thinking that brings you back to an old habit or addiction. It may be frustration and anger that just takes you by surprise, and you can’t believe you’re feeling and acting so ugly. It may be a habitual thing or an acute thing, but it’s negative, harsh, unforgiving, or fear-filled.

In those moments, I don’t always realize it is the enemy. And of course, sometimes it isn’t directly the enemy. Sometimes we have a process to work through to get where we need to be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. But thank God, it’s not always a big long process! Sometimes it’s just as simple as recognizing what is going on. Whether someone is coming at us with one of these negative, irrational, overreacting emotions or we feel it rise up in ourselves, we are the ones with the authority in the situation, not the enemy. The name of Jesus makes the enemy flee! He can’t fill us, he can’t control us, and he knows it. He can only make suggestions that turn to thoughts that turn to feelings that turn to words and actions and habits and sin!!! We must know his schemes but also his gaping weaknesses.

Speaking, singing, and praising the name of Jesus makes the grip of the spirit of fear, confusion, bitterness, unforgiveness, laziness, lust, and anger loosen. We don’t have to stay in that place, abused and oppressed. With the knowledge that “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4) and the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) we can know our place of authority over the enemy.

Here are some further scriptures on this, and just in writing this, I am so spurred on to ask the Holy Spirit to help me be aware when evil, un-peaceful, and divisive spirits are at work so that I can choose to not go along with them. We need a new normal, brothers and sisters in Christ, and that new normal is recognizing what is going on in the unseen and standing our God-given ground!

Ephesians 4:17-5:21

Colossians 2:13-15

James 4:7-8

1 Peter 5:6-11

Matthew 4:1-11


#HowToBuild: Worship!

The definition of worship is “the feeling or expression of adoration or reverence.” Yes!  I love this, and I love to worship!

Worshipping God can happen in just being happy, content, or thankful; it can happen in surrender and faith; it can happen in the words we say or sing; or it can happen in the quietness of a heart turned toward Him in utter dependence and desire to obey.

One of the greatest ways to stay in a spirit of worship, and thereby building yourself up in your most holy faith (Jude :20), is through music.

I remember as a teenager the big debate about whether or not we should be listening to “secular” or “Christian” music. Now I understand to just listen to whatever the Spirit will let me listen to, but back then I had not learned the sound of His voice. I don’t know if God told me to do this or not, but I remember throwing away all of my “secular” music (tapes, haha)…and I’m glad I did. I didn’t have to do so in order to be a Christian, but it wasn’t doing anything for my ability to grow in a personal relationship with Jesus either. There are so many avenues for our heart and mind to go down, every day, both then as a very impressionable young person and now. What I put in my head matters. I’m glad I sought out music that would speak life into my soul and teach me truths that would stick with me. Today, my family and I listen to all kinds of music, but we definitely have Christian, contemplative/lyric-less, and worship music on more often than anything else.

Why music? How can a song make such a difference in our hearts turning toward God?

1. We are stating truth, and God’s Word never returns void! Isaiah 55:11 says: “…so is My Word that goes out of My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which it was sent.”  Whether we are singing songs that are prayers straight to God, or singing songs that simply are statements of truth, we are strengthened by these reminders, because they are God’s holy, living, active Word. The truth goes in and begins to frame our lives and give us a renewed vision and hope, even if it is not immediate. Many times in my life, songs have lifted me out of darkness and were like a rope lowered down to me when other forms of truth were harder to connect with for some reason.

2. We are taking our eyes off of the wind and the waves of our circumstances, taking a break from our worrying and stressing, and turning our faces to the Lord. When we come back down from the mountain with Him, situations we are in are able to take on new meaning. We are always strengthened for the task ahead; we are given what we need specifically in His presence. Most of all, we are reminded He is with us and wants to abide with us every moment, not just in those somewhat rare times we stop “to worship.” He’s a refuge, He’s a cleft in the rock. Isaiah 26:3 says: “You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” The whole of Song of Solomon beckons us to look to the One who loves us! Look at this from SOS 2:14, when the Lover (the Lord) says: “My dove is in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” That’s Jesus talking to you! He invites us to come in and hide for awhile. Remember this hymn: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face…and the things of earth will turn strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” It’s true. We are transformed in His presence.

3. When we learn to gaze and meditate on the Lord and all His beautiful characteristics, His heart is filled with joy…and others are affected as well! Psalm 69:30-32: “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hoofs. The poor will see and be glad–you who seek God, may your hearts live!!” I love the joy on a person’s face when they are worshipping. I can only imagine the look on the Lord’s face as He receives our praises! And when others see our lives of worship, or us literally singing and enjoying His presence, they will experience a change in the atmosphere, too.

The definition of worship doesn’t just say a feeling of adoration, it says “an expression”! If there was one thing I could say to the Church today about worship it would be to stop being afraid to really express their adoration and thankfulness to God. We are all different in what we’re comfortable with, sure. No problem. But when the words on the screen in your worship service say “Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and has shed His own blood for my soul” and all we can do is stand there barely mouthing the words, what is going on? Will unbelievers walk in that place and see an adoration for Jesus? Or will they see people just getting through “the program”? Only God knows our hearts, but I know for me, He has said these words very clearly about corporate worship: “Give it to Me! Give me the worship I deserve! Don’t you hold back anything!” And that means confession of sin, laying down of worries, interceding, hearing next steps, lifting hands, singing out, or sometimes sitting in silence and tears as I listen. I cannot encourage you enough to enter in to this kind of daily experience with Jesus, and music is a wonderful door to get there.

Revelation 4 & 5 describes the Throne Room of Heaven…can I share just a brief moment of this scene, this example of worship?

“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, ten thousand upon ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever! The four living creatures said ‘Amen’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 5:11-14

I’m not waiting until Heaven to worship with all that is within me! “How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him!” Ps. 147:1

Great worship resources and my particular favorites:

Kansas City IHOP Prayer Room and Archives

Vineyard Campbellsville (iTunes)

Cageless Birds

All Sons and Daughters

Jesus Culture, Hillsong United, Bethel (YouTube)


Here is the song “Hallelujah” from my and Joanna Black’s worship CD, Beloved. All of my lyrics and chords are also available on this website, just click on lyrics on Home page. 🙂 Pray this song will bring you into the peace and reality of His presence!



New CD Coming Soon

New CDJust a quick word here to say that Joanna Black (www.mjblack.com) and I will be releasing a new EP this Fall! We worked on these songs over the summer–it is a collection of worship songs I have written over the past couple of years. Her husband, Matt, was the producer and sound engineer, and we recorded out in their farmhouse here in Elizabethtown, KY. It is simple and sweet, but I think powerful as well.

There are 6 new duets on it: It Is Well With My Soul, Hallelujah, Never Be Another, Take Me In, Wells, and Love So Sure

And 2 duets from previous recordings: We Come Out Shining, and When Faith Runs Deep

It is titled “Beloved”, and we hope to have it available both for order and on iTunes in October.