Going Forward

We are living in an exciting time to be a Christian! We are also living in a terrifying time to be a Christian. One of my favorite authors and teachers has written a timely and pointed blog post that I think is a must-read for anyone who calls themselves Christian. Please read Going Forward by author and teacher Beth Moore. And then go forward to church. Forward to scripture, forward to prayer, forward to loving the way Jesus loved and still does.

 

Still water

We came out early, McDonald’s in hand, to have breakfast on the beach. The water and sky are the same color. The Gulf is calm this morning. No waves to speak of, so the water is clear and smooth. As I wade out to my knees, I can see all sorts of life taking place right at my feet that I couldn’t yesterday because the surf was too high. Schools of fish skitter past, momma fish in the lead. Too many star fish to count. The sand in the shallow water perfectly formed into ripples that match the ones on the water’s surface. A dolphin meanders down the coast, relaxed and beautiful. Pelicans fly across the water’s surface, lazy and slow.

This is the kind of morning that can put your heart at peace, no matter what’s going on in your world. I love my quiet time in the morning anyway, so this is right up my alley. I wade knee-deep down the beach, coffee in hand, thinking how blessed I am to be here. Praying for whoever the Lord places on my heart. Listening to the water and the birds. Loving the feel of the breeze on my skin and the sand in my toes.

I think sometimes that the surf gets too high in my life. All the day-to-day stuff, the fires that have to be put out, the tyranny of the urgent, gets to be too much for me to see the life taking place right under my feet. My husband’s humming in the morning as he gets ready for work… A happy sound. Watering my flowers and appreciating their beauty. The smell of my coffee in the morning. Painting in my studio, no clock to watch. Practicing the piano. Cooking, reading a book… All these and more get set aside when the winds kick up and the surf gets high.

“Be still and know that I am God.” “Be still my soul. The Lord is on your side.” Both of these are running through my head. There’s a reason we are admonished to be still. To stop and listen to what God is saying to us, even if his voice sounds like my husband’s humming or the birds outside my studio window in the morning. Peace and contentment don’t come naturally in our world. We have to be still and look for it… Wait for it… Wade out into the water and see it underneath our feet. It was there all the time.  And if we are lucky enough to find a morning like this, hang on to it with every fiber of our being.

Hands

As a pianist, my hands are my most valuable asset I suppose. I’ve never been able to stand pain in my hands of any kind, and the thought of injury to my hands has always given me the shivers. Hands are both delicate and strong. With our hands, we give and take, push and pull, love and bless others. I’ve always been fascinated with hands, sketching them, photographing them. Baby hands are so very precious!! And my hands have become a way for me to communicate with my deaf friends through ASL.

Please read this article by Randy J. Guliuzza, P.E, M.D. called Made in His Image: The Connecting Power of Hands. After finishing the last bit, I will never look at my hands the same way again.  

 

Say AMEN!

I know God is able to do more than I could ever ask or think. Saying “Amen!” this morning and thanking Him for His goodness and grace.

Martha Robertson Art

If there’s anybody here who’s found Him faithful
Anybody here who knows He’s able
Say Amen
And if there’s anybody here who’s seen His power
Anybody here brought through the fire
Say Amen
Anybody here found joy in the middle of sorrow
Peace in the storm, hope for tomorrow
And seen it time and time again
Then just Say AMEN!

These are the words running through my mind this morning (really most of the night.) They’re from a song called Say Amen by a band called Finding Favour. When I heard this song in my head at 3:00 in the morning, I just started thanking God for all the good in my life, small and large. That’s how I fell back to sleep, in the middle of thanking God for his blessings one by one.

There’s a lot of stuff out there, including music, about finding grace, mercy, love, forgiveness…

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He. Is. RISEN!!

Easter overwhelms me. More than birthdays or summer vacation or fireworks on the Fourth of July or even Christmas, Easter gets to me. Every time. This year was no exception, and it’s taken me a couple of days to process it (partly because I’ve been sick through it all and the fog in my head is just now clearing.) The sheer JOY of Easter Day is uncontainable. Just like the grave could not keep Him from rising again, this mortal body of mine cannot contain the joy in my heart that Easter brings!

As a church musician, we go through it all. We Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence as we Go to Dark Gethsemane. We play and sing the songs of Lent, which are necessary, and because music is my worship, they drain me physically. I sing the words in my head as I play through the Lenten season, working my way to the cross. By the time I get to the JOY of HE IS RISEN and the songs that go with it, my heart is a wrung-out, dry sponge just waiting to soak up all that Christ died to give me.

And maybe that’s the point. How could I ever know and appreciate all that Christ did for me if I live only in the Easter days of my life? I must experience the grief and shame weighed-down of Christ’s Sacred Head, Now Wounded before I can truly appreciate the victory that came when Up From the Grave He Arose to conquer sin and death! Christ, The Lord, Is Risen Today so that I could have LIFE and have it abundantly!! “The head that once was crowned with thorns is crowned with glory now.”

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose over death He had conquered
Now He’s ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, OH GLORIOUS DAY!!!!

Click here to listen to Casting Crowns Glorious Day.

Featured image by my daughter in law, Emily Price. May your heart’s Easter basket be filled with the goodness of our glorious God!!

 

 

STAY!

Happy Easter y’all! HE IS RISEN!!!!! Please enjoy these thoughts from last year. They still resonate in my heart and soul and, I hope, in yours.

Martha Robertson Art

He is Risen! Christ The Lord is Risen as He said. Up from the Grave He Arose with a mighty triumph over his foes. Christ is Risen from the Dead. Because He Lives I can face tomorrow. All the wonderful songs and hymns of Easter are running through my mind this morning.

Was it a morning like this? Outside my window the sun is rising and painting the sky baby blues and pinks, light wispy clouds float over a quiet earth. Birds are just beginning their morning songs.

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” “They have taken The Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him.” Peter and John saw the burial cloths lying where His body had been, the…

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Sing Your Song

As I write this morning, we are in the middle of a major thunderstorm. All night, lightning bright as day came in through the cracks in the bedroom window blinds, and thunder rolled across the sky. It’s still dark outside and the rain cries sad tears down my studio window. And still the thunder rolls.

Birds are beginning to sing outside my window, oblivious to the rain or the dark or the lightning and thunder. There, in the middle of dark and gray, rain and dreariness, comes a bright song. It’s so hopeful and routine, just another day in the life of a songbird. This bird can do nothing BUT sing as daylight approaches because that’s its nature. It would never “skip the song today because I don’t feel like it.” Good weather or bad, this bird must sing the song God gave it because that’s how God designed it.

So why not me? God created me in His image, and as a believer and Christ-follower, I have the mind of Christ. Shouldn’t I be singing in spite of the storm around me? Regardless of the rain in my life, crying those sad tears down the window of my heart, shouldn’t I be singing my song… the song God gave me?

Psalms 40:3 says, “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.” If I sing the song God created me to sing, others will see and hear and know that God is good!

Psalm 98:1 says, “Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things!”

Whatever your “song” is, sing it. Dance if you’re a dancer. Play your flute or piano or drum. Paint as to the Lord if you’re an artist. Are you a cook? Let the Lord smell the fragrant offering coming from your kitchen! However God designed you, give it back to Him no matter how dark or dreary… even in the middle of a thunderstorm.

 

Break the glass!

I’ve seen cardinals peck furiously at glass, almost fighting the enemy bird they see in the reflection. I’ve had mockingbirds on my windowsill, preening and keeping watch. But never a robin. Robins seem to me to be ground birds, or at least that’s where I usually see them hopping along, pulling at worms or whatever they happen to find in the grass.

There’s a robin on this same second-story windowsill this morning. Facing me, his long beak lightly kisses the glass almost as if he is testing the image to see if it’s real. After a time, he turns and looks out at the world, keeping vigil, slowly looking right to left. Then the whole process starts over again. This little bird has come and gone, repeating this cycle, 3 or 4 times in the last hour.   

I think, for some of us, our faith can be just like the robin and the glass. We face God, testing Him, pecking at His image to see if it’s real, if it can be trusted. If HE can be trusted. But we turn away and face the world, looking in all directions for something to sustain us. Finding nothing, we turn back to God and test His image again. The whole process repeats itself because there’s a glass wall between us and God Himself. We can see Him, and we want to get to Him, but something blocks us.

What is your glass wall… That invisible, yet very real, thing that keeps you from getting to the God you can see and Who loves you with an everlasting love? A past hurt that just won’t let you forget? A relationship you know God wouldn’t approve of so you turn away? An addiction that has you locked down, unable to break through the glass? Or is it the fear of breaking the glass itself? Of getting hurt in the process?

Break the glass, dear one! Power through and gut it out. Yes, you will get scraped up a little. You may even get cut, but Jesus is standing ready to hold you in His arms and heal your hurt. He has scars to match your own. He is watching us test the image in the glass. Don’t let Him see you turn away again. Break the glass! Tear it down and feel His grace and mercy.

Click here to listen to the song in my head, Cry Out To Jesusfrom Mac Powell and Third Day.

Drops in the ocean

Where do you go when you want to know? Most of us grab our smart phones and get any information we need in an instant. Is it going to rain tomorrow? There’s an app for that. How many times a day does someone ask a question or speculate on a topic and everyone in the group picks up their phone to look it up? 

Some things I need to know can’t be found on Google. Like how much my husband loves me, or whether my friend’s test results came out okay, or if another friend was accepted for the graduate program she desperately wanted. How about God’s love for me? Can I Google that or should I look elsewhere? The song in my head tells me where to look. It is Drops In The Ocean from Hawk Nelson.

If you want to know
How far my love can go
Just how deep, just how wide
If want to see
How much you mean to me
Look at my hands, look at my side
If you could count the times I say you are forgiven
It’s more than the drops in the ocean

It’s all about relationship. Do I want a relationship with my phone or with people? With God? Our Heavenly Father created us to love us, to be His children. To put down whatever is distracting us from Him and pay attention. How often have we done that with our own kids? “Look at me. What did I say? Pay attention.” This song reminds me of the promise in Romans 8:38-39…

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If I want to know about God’s love for me, I must go to the source and open my Bible. And read it. And reflect on what it says and remember what it says. I must look at the hands and feet of Jesus. I must fix my eyes on the wounds He suffered, the cruelty and shame He took on Himself so that I could live this life He gave me. Thousands of times he has forgiven me, even before I knew I needed forgiveness. More than the drops in the ocean. There’s NOT an app for that!!

Click here to listen to Drops In The Ocean from Hawk Nelson.

Featured image: Drop in the Ocean by David Ardley, 2012. Click here for more information on this artist.