Focus

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The chorus from a song called The One I’m Running To woke me up this morning. The song is from 7eventh Time Down, and the lyrics have me thinking… Do I run to Jesus or just look at Him occasionally? Do I walk in His general direction or run to Him like I’m being chased by the Devil himself? If I’m honest with myself, I’d say it’s more of a jog or a trot. Not exactly meandering on the path of my faith walk, but not running hard after Jesus either. 

Tonight I’m gonna fix my eyes
On the only Hope who satisfies, my heart
You are the One I’m running to
Everything that’s good and right and true
Jesus, I’m coming after who You are
You are the One I’m running to

The thing is, we are ALL being chased by the devil himself. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “…the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” If I’m just wandering along aimlessly on the path of life with no general direction, I am easy prey! But if I’m running after Jesus, if He is taking the lead in my race in this life and I am following His every step, every promise… Well, I believe the devil will have to work much harder than he wants to or is willing to, and just maybe will go after someone else for a little while. Until the next time I take my eyes off the only Hope that satisfies. Until I forget the enemy is hard on my heels and I get lazy. 

So, how do I keep my focus? I strap on my spiritual running shoes and look up!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. -Philippians 4:8

Click here to listen to The One I’m Running To.

“It doesn’t matter!” -Grace

cross of christ built into a brick wall

I hear a voice, and He calls me “redeemed” when others say I’ll never be enough.

This line from the MercyMe song, Greater, woke me up this morning. Just this line. Isn’t it a wonderful thing that God calls us “redeemed” no matter what anyone else says of us? Even ourselves. As this line played on a loop in my mind while I went about my wake-up routine, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said those same words…. Even ourselves.

I am my own worst enemy. I am self-everything… -Critical, -absorbed, -serving, -deprecating, -fillintheblank. Insert the word “self” in front of each of those words and many others. I have always been too quick to tear myself down. But that’s not what God says of me.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. -Romans 8:1

Like the song says, “there will be days I lose the battle. But Grace says that it doesn’t matter because the cross already won the war!” I love the full definition of the word redeemed at Merriam-Webster.com. Please read it and know that Christ has done this for you. And me!!!

Full Definition of REDEEM

transitive verb
1
a  :  to buy back :  repurchase

b:  to get or win back

2
:  to free from what distresses or harms: as 

a:  to free from captivity by payment of ransom


b:  to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental


c:  to release from blame or debt :clear


d:  to free from the consequences of sin

3
:  to change for the better :  reform
4
5
a  :  to free from a lien by payment of an amount secured thereby

(1):  to remove the obligation of by payment <the United States Treasury redeems savings bonds on demand>

(2)  :  to exchange for something of value <redeem trading stamps>

c:  to make good :fulfill

6
a  :  to atone for :  expiate <redeem an error>

(1):  to offset the bad effect of

(2)  :  to make worthwhile :  retrieve

Please have a listen to this wonderful song, be prepared to dance. Greater.
Please click here to read Greater from a different perspective written in August last year.

How Can It Be?

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Martha Robertson:

This song is on my mind again this morning. During the season of Lent, it makes me stop and ask, “How can it be that Jesus loved me enough to take that walk to Calvary?”

Originally posted on New Song Every Day:

You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be

These powerful lyrics are from a new song by Lauren Daigle called How Can It Be. Her equally powerful voice is stuck in my head this morning. Click here to listen to her amazing voice sing this song that puts me on my knees in worship.

How CAN it be that I am free to live my life, but Jesus Christ was beaten beyond recognition and subjected to dying a slow painful death on a cross of shame???

How can it be that this same Jesus would love me… broken and damaged and imperfect plain old me… so much that He would carry that same cross up the hill, knowing how it was going…

View original 119 more words

Captive Audience

February 2015

Snowmageddon. Snowpacolypse. The Great Blizzard of 2015. Our little bitty 15 or 18 inches of snow is nothing compared to the northeast with their several feet of snow. Everyone around here is tired of looking at it and talking about it. The best thing about a snowstorm like this? It has given people the opportunity to help others. Mr. B came and got us for church. Our neighbor brought his tractor and plowed our driveway down for a second time so that (hopefully) we can get our car out today. People checking on folks to make sure they’re okay and have what they need.

I had an entire week, from Sunday to Sunday, here at home with no thought or hope of going anyplace. My husband is a teacher, so he didn’t (and couldn’t) go anyplace either. We enjoyed just being in each other’s orbit for a few days with all the outside stuff out of the picture. Reading quietly in the same room. Playing chess. Chatting over a meal we cooked together. Watching a movie. Shoveling snow. You might say we were a captive audience for each other. No place to run!

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms

Jesus, He loves me, He loves me, He is for me

Jesus, how can it be, He loves me, He is for me

I have Chris Tomlin’s song, Jesus Loves Me, running through my head this morning. Jesus brings me back to himself. His love overwhelms me. There is no place I can go to escape His love for me. And why would I ever want to escape the love of a Savior who gave His own life for mine?? I am (gladly) His captive audience!!

Click here to listen to Jesus Loves Me.

The featured image is the result of one of my activities while snowbound this past week. “Windows” is oil on linen board, 8 x 10

Lamb of God

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I woke up with an old Twila Paris song in my head this morning… Early!! Lamb of God has always been one of my favorite songs of the Lenten season, and I still remember the first time I heard it. Back in 1988 or 1989, my dear friend was going to sing it for church, and I was to accompany her gorgeous and sultry alto voice. I have played it, or sung it, or accompanied it every year since then.

Your only Son, no sin to hide
But You have sent Him from Your side
To walk upon this guilty sod
And to be called the Lamb of God

Your gift of love they crucified
They laughed and scorned Him as He died
The humble King they named a fraud
And sacrificed the Lamb of God

Chorus
Oh Lamb of God, sweet Lamb of God
I love the holy Lamb of God
Oh wash me in His precious blood
My Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God

I was so lost I should have died
But You have brought me to Your side
To be led by Your staff and rod
And to be called a Lamb of God

Oh wash me in His precious blood
My Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God

I’ve been reading and re-reading the fourth and fifth chapters of the Book of Revelation for a couple of weeks now to try to regain that sense of awe and wonder at the sheer power and majesty of God. The description of the Lamb standing at God’s right hand gets me every time. Only the slain Lamb of God is worthy to redeem us. Revelation 5:9-10…

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”

I get very pensive during the Lenten season. It’s hard for me to imagine a gift of this magnitude. I spend the 40 days of Lent pondering these and other scriptures trying to fathom a Love so great. Practicing and playing songs that seem dark and sad as we walk the road to the cross. Oh, but Easter morning is coming!!!

Click here to listen to Lamb of God.

The morning after

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I love the morning after a big snow. Everything is blanketed in soft white, and all the world seems hushed and still. This morning, the sun is bright and it’s as though God bedazzled his creation with beautiful diamonds… Just scattered them across the top once He was satisfied with the way everything looked down here. After covering the earth’s scars with snow, and covering us with His forgiveness so that our old self is no longer visible, our precious Lord gives more… Little jewels of grace and goodness.

It renders me speechless and I can only stand at my window and stare. And thank God for His goodness.

The morning after
Jewels, diamonds on snow
A gift of God’s love

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Snowmageddon

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We are in the middle of what some are calling “snowmageddon.” We have three inches on the ground this morning and 10 to 12 more expected before tomorrow morning. Outside my studio window, the sky is gray and it’s hard to tell where the sky stops and the ground starts. The wind is so strong, the snow is “falling” sideways… So horizontal to the ground, that I wonder how any of it is actually ON the ground. Somehow, though, it has covered the brown muddy earth with all its ugliness, and made it clean. White. Pure. God’s Gesso!

As a painter, I use a product called Gesso to prime a surface or to start over. It’s a thick, heavy-bodied, white paint-like substance that seals and stiffens the canvas, covering anything on the surface I’m prepping. Sometimes I’ll use it on a practice painting that I know I won’t keep or need again. It’s a do-over. I can start again with new paint, new colors, even a new medium to create another painting. Anything can become a canvas with Gesso… A nice box with a magnetic closure, a wood panel.

I once read in a poem
That when snow covers the earth
That it hides the world’s scars
And gives nature new birth
And they say when a
Man turns from sin to the Lord
That forgiveness like snow
Covers him evermore

I love the lyrics to this song. Somewhere It’s Snowing. Isn’t it a beautiful thing that, just like snow falls and blankets the ground with pure white, clean and fresh, the grace of Jesus covers our sin. It disappears beneath the forgiveness and mercy of our Lord and Savior, and we are made new. All of our dark, ugly, gray, broken, scarred imperfectness is gone beneath the blanket of God’s goodness and grace.

1 Samuel 16:7 says this… “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” If my heart is covered by the grace of Jesus, the blood of His atoning sacrifice, then my heart is fresh and clean before God when He looks on it. He sees the snow-covered beauty within me, and I think maybe what’s underneath doesn’t matter any more.

Click here to listen to Somewhere It’s Snowing by Lynn Michael Coffey.

Featured image… I took the snapshot outside my window just now, trying to capture the sideways snow.

It’s Not About Me

oil on 140lb paper
2.5" x 3.5" ATC
January 2015

Satan wants you to quit praying. He wants you to believe God isn’t paying one whit of attention to you. That He’s moved on without you. That you don’t matter. There’s only one thing to do with that. Pray twice as much. With twice the faith. And a thousand times the thanks. -Beth Moore

This is one of those mornings that my mind is all over the map, but everything in it is screaming at me to pray. Focus on others. What is God calling me to? The song in my head is Start A Fire by Unspoken.

This world can be cold and bitter
Feels like we’re in the dead of winter
Waiting on something better
But am I really gonna hide forever?

Over and over again
I hear Your voice in my head
Let Your light shine, let Your light shine for all to see

Start a fire in my soul
Fan the flame and make it grow
So there’s no doubt or denying
Let it burn so brightly
That everyone around can see
That it’s You, that it’s You that we need
Start a fire in me

At the same time, I had words in my head that prompted me to write this verse…

It’s not about me
It’s not about me
It’s not about my fears and failures
It’s not about my hopes and plans
It’s not about what I want or need
It’s not about my desires or dreams
It’s not about who I want to be
It’s not about me

Cause if I know you, Lord
You know my every thought
And if I love you, Lord
Your love fills up my heart
If I remember You
You will remember me
And fill my every need

The above quote from Beth Moore came from an email I received this morning, after being awakened by Start A Fire and writing the verse. In that blog post, she also said, “Intercession for others becomes a guard against the narcissism of this present culture.” If I pray for others, it keeps me from thinking too much of myself, because it’s NOT about me.

It’s so incredible to me how God has thrown all this at me at the same time this morning!!! I can’t ignore it. Pray! Pray now. Keep praying. Pray for others. Pray for myself. Pray continually. Pray with thanksgiving.

Start a fire in me, Lord, because it’s not about me. Don’t let my prayers or my love for others grow cold, dull or boring. Light me up!!! Set my heart on fire for others who need You so desperately. Though it’s nearly overwhelming, thank You for throwing it all at me this morning. Help me not to let You down. Amen.

Click here to listen to Start A Fire by Unspoken.

Click here to read the full blog post on Prayer from Living Proof Ministries.

I chose the featured image because it reminds me of Matthew 6:26… “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” It is oil on 140 lb paper, 2.5″ by 3.5″, artist trading card.

Part The Waters

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I think every mother gets those moments in life when she feels overwhelmed with love for her child, about to pop her buttons with pride. “How was I lucky enough to be this kid’s mom?” I’ve had those moments through the years with all my kids. Watching my oldest graduate from the United States Air Force Academy. Sending my daughter off to the mission field, knowing she was following God’s call on her life. Reading my youngest son’s poetry does it every time. Too many to count.

I had another “momma moment” yesterday morning at church… The great privilege of accompanying my third child, Daniel, as he sang in worship. Now, I know every mom is proud of their children, and we all think ours are the perfect kids. That said, I will tell you that all my kids can sing, and they’re all musical in one way or another. They all grew up singing in church, and I encouraged them all to share their gifts with others. And Daniel did just that yesterday.

So this morning, the song in my head is the one he sang. Part The Waters/I Need Thee Every Hour. Originally recorded by Selah, it’s a powerful arrangement. It opens with these lyrics…

When I think I’m going under, part the waters Lord
When I feel the waves around me, calm the sea
When I cry for help, oh hear me Lord and hold out your hand
Touch my life… Still the raging storm in me

… And moves into the traditional hymn, I Need Thee Every Hour.

I need thee every hour most gracious Lord
No tender voice like thine can peace afford
I need thee, oh I need thee
Every hour I need thee
Oh bless me now, my savior
I come to thee

I need thee every hour in joy or pain
Come quickly and abide or life is vain
I need thee oh I need thee
Every hour I need thee
Oh bless me now, my savior
I come to thee

It is a very good thing that I was playing the piano and required to focus on the music. Otherwise, I’d have dissolved into a puddle of tears as I listen to my son’s powerful voice cry out these words to the God who loves him… who cared enough for him that He would send His only Son to die for him. Who among us does NOT need The Lord every hour of every day? Because the moment I think I don’t need God is the moment it all starts to fall apart.

When I climb out of the boat onto the waves to walk toward Jesus, my eyes are fixed on Him and I know I can do anything. But when I start to think how impossible my task is, or feel the waves of life rising up around me, I know that God can part the waters and give me a dry place to land. He hears me when I cry out to Him. Only He can calm my storm.

The quality is poor because it was recorded on an iPhone… But please…. Click here to listen to Daniel sing Part the Waters/I Need Thee Every Hour

Click here to listen to this arrangement from Selah.