Rest and Refocus

After a busy six months or so, I am taking a much-needed vacation to rest and pray, as well as fellowship and veg a bit. I have been struggling physically and, because of that, have felt a need to get away and renew my mind.

It is easy to become discouraged and depressed when things aren’t going right, when you’re not feeling well, when life is moving faster than you can keep up with and you’re not getting done half the things you want or need to do. These are the times one must refocus, draw near to the Father, and ask Him what He desires of you. Some things we think we have to do, we don’t in reality. Or at least not in the time frame we think they need to happen.

Yesterday, I finished a book I was editing so I’m praying for more editing work but I’m also trying to rest in the fact that, if God doesn’t bring me more work right away, He may know I need a break or there may be something else on which He would like me to focus my time and energy. These are the things I’m striving to discern as I rest and refocus.

I realize you may not have the option to take off for a couple weeks, but I would encourage you to find time wherever you can to make sure you get the rest that you need so that you can better see things from God’s perspective. If you are overwhelmed, it is a sure sign that you are long overdue these things. They are important for your health and sanity, as well as your relationship with God and your family.

A Quick Post

  • August 27, 2014 at 12:33 pm in

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted on here. My brain is continually running but my energy has been struggling lately so I’ve not gotten around to putting my thoughts into a form anyone else can understand. :) Hopefully I will be back to posting regularly very soon. I just received Tribute Quartet’s latest CD so I want to review it before too long as well.

If God brings me to your mind, please keep me in your prayers. I need a lot of wisdom right now to know how to best take care of my body. I don’t feel like God is finished using me so I trust Him to restore my strength in due time.

Thank you to those who read my blog regularly. I am so grateful that God allows me to write and share what He is teaching me. I trust you are growing along with me to become more like Him. He is the reason I have a song to sing and a blog to write.

CD Review: You’re Everything to Me (Joel Lance)

Joel Lance is back with ten new Christian country songs, nine of which he wrote.

You’re Everything to Me is a song of testimony, thanking God for where He brought us from and praising Him for who He is.

Cross to Paradise reminds us that Jesus forgave all our sins when He was nailed to the cross. Because of Him, we will one day see Paradise.

How Long asks how long you’re going to wait to invite Jesus into your heart. “Life ain’t a fairy tale. It’s either Heaven or it’s Hell.” Please don’t wait too long.

His Still Small Voice is all I need to know my God is real.” A song of faith.

Songs that don’t need an explanation are I Love My Shepherd and Now You See Me, Now I’m Gone.

Too Ashamed to Die paints a picture of a man who receives the news that he is dying. Although not afraid to die, he begins to think of the things he hasn’t done yet. Don’t put off tomorrow what you need to do today.

This is followed by Packing Up and Going Home and Sunday Night Revival.

Broken is a cry for healing. “Heal me now so I may live again.”

Let Them Find Me Guilty

Every once in a while, when I’m listening to a CD, a line from a song will jump out at me. This morning, I was listening to The LeFevre Quartet sing, “If they ever judge me, let ‘em find me guilty of serving You all my days.” Pause a moment to think about that. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the worst thing someone could say about you is that you serve your Heavenly Father? Unfortunately, the only one who has lived such an exemplary life was Jesus, but He gave us an example that we are to follow.

You can make excuses all day long as to why you do the sinful things that you do but the reality is that we are sinners. That is why we sin. “Sin seems pleasurable for a time” and so we eat of “the forbidden fruit” and trust that God will forgive us, for, after all, He knows what sinful beings He created.

The fact is that God does forgive sin when a person truly repents but He will not overlook a lifestyle of sin. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2). I’m so glad that “He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I do ask God to “search me and try me and know my heart and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me to life everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, my paraphrase). I am thankful that He is not finished with me. The longing to hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant” has me striving to keep running with endurance the race set before me.

Yes, if they ever judge me, let ‘em find me guilty of serving You all my days!

Will the Real Christians Stand Up?

This is different than probably anything I have ever written. I have wanted my writings to be a means of encouragement to those who are struggling or who need a pick-me-up. I do believe, however, that God laid this on my heart so I hope you will bear with me for this very solemn post. I am sure most of you have heard about what is happening over in Iraq; however, if you can’t handle the details, feel free to skip to the second paragraph.

I have read a couple short articles on the atrocity that has been happening in Iraq the past few days. I didn’t read more than that because, honestly, I can’t handle it. My heart is breaking for those people, however, as I pray for their strength and comfort. Many watched their children beheaded or cut in two. They had to flee their homes which have now been taken over by this terrorist group. I am reminded that Christian persecution has not ended. For a while, it has been out of sight and out of mind, but I am endeavoring to begin praying for the persecuted church like never before.

Here in America, we have had it so easy. Any persecution we have faced has been really minor compared to what our Brothers and Sisters in many other countries have experienced. I am grateful for this but I don’t believe this freedom will last forever. We very well may live to see the day when our lives are in danger as well. If this doesn’t happen in my lifetime, my children and grandchildren may see that day. Would I stand firm as so many martyrs have done and boldly declare that Jesus is my Lord? The Sunday School answer is, “Yes!” I know that’s easier said than done though. I think I would probably have the boldness to die for Christ but what about being tortured day in and day out for months on end? Or what about seeing my children tortured in front of my eyes? Is my faith and devotion to Christ strong enough to withstand those things?

I am not trying to scare anyone. Life is plenty scary and uncertain without me adding to that. But I do want to tell you that this is the time to choose who you will serve. This is the time to get as close to God as you can without any compromise. If you are not fully surrendered to Him now and willing to do whatever He asks of you, you will not be instantaneously willing to suffer for Him if that day comes.

I am challenging myself as I challenge all of you. Whether you agree with me or not that America will see persecution, I hope you will at least agree that this is a wake-up call. Christians in other countries are being massacred while we live a life of extreme ease. If this doesn’t break your heart, it is way too hard. We do not live here because we are special. We have been the recipients of God’s gracious mercy. Every day that we wake up, we should be rejoicing and asking God how we can best serve Him with the time that He gives us on this earth. God told the lukewarm Church in Laodicea that He would spit them out of His mouth. I can’t imagine anything more dreadful.

God, give me a renewed determination to live for You wholeheartedly. Remind me daily to pray for my Brothers and Sisters who are being persecuted for Your name’s sake. Fill me with the fire of Your Holy Spirit so that I do not become lukewarm or mediocre. Continue the work that You’ve begun because You are faithful! And please give comfort and a special grace to Your people in Iraq who have lost their homes and seen friends and family members brutally murdered. No one could get through that with You. Let them feel Your presence in the midst of their grief more than ever before.

Since Jesus Passed By

I’m listening to the Nelons sing “Since Jesus Passed By,” and it has me thinking about that day. I have heard pastors say that, if you can’t name the day you met Christ, you probably have not been converted. I don’t hold to that view, as I know people who have “known” Christ all their lives and seem to truly have a relationship with Him. At the same time, I’m grateful that I remember many times when Jesus passed by. Sometimes it was to stretch out His healing hand. At other times, He provided comfort during grief. I’m also thankful that He didn’t just pass by but He continues to hold my hand. Life is not always easy but we serve an amazing God, who can calm storms with just a word.

Thank You, Jesus, for passing by when I needed You most. Thank You that You still hold my hand through every trial I face. You are so wonderful!

Still Learning

Today is an easy day to praise the Lord. The sun is shining, I can see God’s hand at every turn while feeling His love and protection. There are days it is not so easy though, yet praise is not an option. It is a necessity.

I wish I were better at consistently praising Him, even when everything around me looks like it’s falling apart. This is an area God does help me in though. He often reminds me that, even when I can’t see it, He is working. He loves me and, no matter what happens, I am still His beloved child.

I am so grateful to have the best Father in the world. His love for me is not measured by how successful I am. He simply wants me to trust Him and serve Him with all my heart. I am still learning how to do that as well, but I am thankful that He doesn’t give up. He constantly encourages me to try, try again.

I expect I will never stop learning until the day He takes me Home but I pray I will pass my tests with flying colors. He is so good!

CD Review: Difference (Brothers Forever)

I was introduced to Brothers Forever a number of years ago, so I was excited when their latest CD was finally released. Curtis Hagy and Gary Ballew did not disappoint me except for the fact that there are only six songs on this recording. They are worth the purchase though. Very well done. Good songs professionally recorded and arranged.

That’s Why I Pray This was the first song released to radio which was a great choice. The verses mention the negative happenings in our world today but the chorus reminds us that that’s why we should pray. “I’m begging for forgiveness. I wanna make a difference even in the smallest way. I’m only one person but I can feel it working. I believe in better days. THAT’S why I pray.”

Live to Love is a song about a couple who had a fight but the chorus is one of commitment to work it out. “If our hearts break, nobody wins.” Marriages are worth fighting for.

Difference talks about how short life is and the importance of letting “the world know who saved my soul and redeemed my heart.” No matter what others’ goals are, “I wanna make a difference.”

Changed speaks of the difference in a person’s life after coming to know Christ.

Fight talks about surrender. There is no good thing in us apart from Christ. If we surrender to Him, we receive His peace, love, and so much more. Why are you fighting Him and resisting the change that He desires to bring?

I Do is a beautiful love song. If you’re looking for a song to be sung at your wedding, this is a nice one.

There is Joy in Serving Jesus

Some churches still sing the old song, “There is Joy in Serving Jesus” but I wonder if they really believe what they are singing. Way too many go to church, sing the songs, hear the preaching, but still look as if they have the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Life is hard. There’s no doubt about it. But, for a Believer, joy should flow out of our hearts because we are sons and daughters of the King! He didn’t promise us that life would be all sunshine and roses but life is not all thorns either.

Don’t let Satan blind you to the many blessings you have received at God’s hand. Ask God to help you get your mind off of the negative and onto Him. You are called to be a Light, to radiate with His love. If you have lost your joy, you can’t do that. If you think you are joyful, ask yourself if others can see that joy. If they can’t, I doubt that you are as joyful as you think you are.

I hope you can sing with all your heart:

There is joy, joyJoy in serving Jesus
Joy that throbs within my heart
Every moment, every hour
As I draw upon His power
There is joy, joy
Joy that never shall depart

CD Review: Unashamed (Brian Free and Assurance)

The latest release from Brian Free and Assurance did not jump out and grab me. Musically, it sounds the same as their last two or three projects. I would really like to see them come out of their musical rut but I still appreciate their heart and there are some good songs on here.

This is the first I’ve noticed Ricky Free co-writing songs. He co-wrote half of the songs on this CD, including the leading song, God of Possibilities. Do you know this God who can part a sea and use a child to kill a giant? He’s the same God yesterday, today, and forever.

Unashamed is a commitment to boldly live for Christ.

Ricky Free teamed up with Ronny Hinson to write Tell It Like It Was. This is one song I like on the project. “Is it any wonder that we’re in the shape we’re in? The church will only say it if we’re sure it won’t offend.”

The tempo slows down as Bill Shivers sings Say Amen.
Brian Free sings He Still Saves, a new song with an old message.

Evidence in You talks about who we are in Christ after we come to know Him.

Jeremy Lile sings the toe-tapping A Little Bit of Me and You. Then the tempo slows down for One. In an ever-changing world where there seems to be no right or wrong, there is still one God.

Another song I like on the CD is Where There’s a Will, He Has a Way. Lauren Talley Alvey makes a guest appearance on the second verse. “Trust the One who holds you close, ’cause at the end of the day, where there’s a will, He has a way.”

Before the After talks about how easy it is to focus on the past but keep in mind that those things were before the after. We must remember the past in order to testify of how God brought us through. However, if that is no longer a part of your life, you must move on, realizing that that was before; this is now.