What a Savior, What a Day!

I am going to keep this short and sweet (gasp! I know! Am I capable?) but I had to write a moment about today!

At church this morning, they did have Children’s Church but I felt led to keep my kids in church with us for worship and the baptisms. Our time worshipping together was so precious, so powerful! Gosh, I love to look to Jesus and sing His praise. He is WORTHY!! Sometimes, it is my only escape, my only way out of my worries, my fears, my mood, my SELF. As I was worshipping, I had these thoughts on my heart:

Words like grace, love, forgiveness…they are hard to explain, they aren’t concepts you could easily draw a picture of, but they took form and shape and being in the body of Jesus. In His day to day life. In His body being nailed to the cross for our sins. In who He was, because He was God…in skin and bones. I looked at the cross just steps away from me in the worship area, and saw grace, saw my rescue, saw all I would ever need. How can I not worship, how can I not raise my hands and sing my heart out?

Then I thought about how the body of Christ still today is to be the embodiment of these hard to define words. We, now, carry God…in skin and bones. He’s alive in us. His holiness abides in us…so when we have holy living, wise and kind living, it’s really just a matter of our selves–our skin–getting thinner and His light shining brighter. It’s a matter of Him increasing and us decreasing. It’s not us getting holier, ever. It’s us getting lesser and smaller and Him gaining more and more ground, more and more freedom, more and more invitation to take over and do what He wants to do in and through us. Loving and blessing the world as Jesus did won’t come through us trying to be better and do more, it’ll come through shriveling up and dying more and more each day to the old self, to the self-centered deserving-better wanting-more self…so that His life can take over in us.

Oh how I want this to be made manifest in me. All the time and not just for an hour or when I’m happy and “together” for goodness sake.

As I close I want to say, too, it was an incredibly special day for my family, because Yemi, my youngest (6 years old) decided to follow Jesus and was baptized! It was not planned, and I actually tried to keep her in her seat, but wow, I was reminded later of the verse where Jesus says, “Do not hinder the little children from coming to Me!” I’m very glad I didn’t force her to ignore that voice compelling her to go and be baptized, in her big fluffy new Easter dress and everything. So now both of my daughters have made public professions of their faith and you know, I don’t know all of what she will remember about this day (and the same for Selah who also asked Jesus into her heart at a young age) but I want to teach them something I didn’t realize until I was much older:

As believers, we are DAILY renewing our salvation! We are daily turning our faces back to Him, asking forgiveness, asking for His resurrection power to free us from the enemy’s clutches. This walk with God is not a one day thing…today Yemi just made the phone call. Now He’s on the line, not hanging up, until the day He sees her face to face in Heaven. As camp counselors, we used to joke about kids getting saved every summer or for the 27th time…Sure, they might not have completely gotten that right, but we sure didn’t either. What harm is it going to do to decide to follow Jesus every day, friends? What harm is it going to do to remember the cross, and thank Him and ask Him to come and take over yet again? He died once and for all, but nothing I, in my humanity, ever do is once and for all. Life is so daily. So is our salvation. We admit. We believe. We commit. I’m finding it’s an every day thing. We shouldn’t expect anything less. We shouldn’t expect a few landmarks in our timeline to guide our walk with Jesus…

I need Thee every hour. We need Him every hour. We need to plan on it…and guilt and confusion will melt away in just acknowledging our salvation is an active and living relationship, not a moment we prayed and hoped we got the words right. Jesus isn’t complicated, friends. He just says, “Come.”

#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.