Face to Face

When I was about 14 years old, my grandmother, my Mamaw, bought me a song book. By then, I was pianist at my church and playing for the gospel quartet my mom was singing with, but there was one song in this book that Mamaw wanted me to learn. So, she bought the book for $2.50 which was a lot of money from her black-lung pension existence. It’s called Songs of Faith and Hope. I’ve used this book for over 40 years now, and I knew it was the one I needed when I woke up this morning.

Face to face with Christ my Savior,
Face to face, what will it be?
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ who died for me.

Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

Written in 1898, these words were a poem written by a tone-deaf mother of five children who sent them to the composer asking him to set them to music. The result of Carrie Breck’s lyrics and Grant Tullar’s music became this old familiar hymn, Face to Face, which has been published in many hymnals and sung for generations. It has also been singing through my mind since I woke up this morning!

Hundreds of songs have been written about what it might be like when we see Jesus face to face. For those of us who have put our faith and trust in God, we know without a doubt that we WILL see our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ face to face some day. Our imaginations can’t begin to fathom that moment when we are ushered into the presence of God and Jesus welcomes us home with open arms and a holy hug. I can’t wait for that day!!

But until then, I want to be that hug for someone else. I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus here in my world. Until I see Christ face to face in my next life, I want others to see His face in me in this life. How am I doing with that? I have no idea, but I will keep trying. I will do good when it is in my power to do so. I will love others and love ON others… Love above all things. Because He first loved me.

Click here to listen to Face to Face.

There Is A Fountain

It’s not Thursday, but I have a throwback song in my head this morning… An old hymn that I grew up singing and playing called There Is A Fountain. It’s still one of my favorites to this day. I love contemporary music and expressing myself through it, but old hymns like this one are rich and forever embedded in my memory.

Hymns are so strong, so well written. They have lasted for hundreds of years for a reason. A lot of them were written out of places of pain and sorrow, yet there’s so much hope in them, and that resonates with people. – Allan Hall

So many people through the generations learned the basic tenants of theology through singing and hearing the old hymns. Personally, I’m excited that there’s a huge trend toward contemporary artists putting out new music based in existing hymnology… Bringing back old standards set to new tunes or in new arrangements. The one I’m hearing this morning was recorded by a group called Selah, and they’ve done many of the older hymns in a new way.

There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains

The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away

There, since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supplied,
Redeeming love has been my theme
And shall be till I die

Click here to listen to Selah sing this wonderful song. I just listened again, and ended up in tears of gratitude for our Saviors precious gift.

Click here to read about Selah and the way God has been with them through their struggles and tragedies in the middle of serving Him with their music.

Fuzzy Faith?

“Not that one… It’s blurly.” My three-year-old granddaughter has been using my phone to snap pictures early this morning. I told her that it was okay… “I’m kinda blurly myself this morning.” A little out of focus. A little fuzzy around the edges.IMG_0758.JPGI think that’s how our faith can get sometimes. Blurry. Out of focus. Fuzzy around the edges. We know we believe in God. We go to church. We pray. But maybe we’re on autopilot, just going through the motions. Maybe that’s why it’s called “practicing” our faith. Like this picture, we know what our faith is supposed to look like, but we have to squint to try to see it clearly. We fear that some of it is our imagination.

The Bible says otherwise!! Hebrews 4:12:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Romans 8:29 says that God’s children are “conformed to the image of his Son.” Somehow, I don’t think our faith can be “blurly” if we are made in HIS image. Jesus is not a fuzzy, out-of-focus, ethereal concept floating out there somewhere. He is real. He lived! He died, and He rose again. He will come back and bring us to himself!

Until that day, we must keep the lens of our minds focused and sharpened on God’s word. Live out our faith every day in the words we say and the things we do. Love above all things, so that our edges don’t have time to get soft and fuzzy. “Blurly, Grandmomma!”

The song in my head this morning is a very old choir anthem called With a Voice of Singing. “Declare ye this, and let it be heard, Hallelujah!!”

Make His praise glorious!!!

Anything is possible.

When I wake up every morning with this music in my head, I feel excited and awed at the same time. Excited about the music and writing my thoughts on it, but mostly awed by the fact that, while I sleep, God is singing these words over me. Today is no exception. At 3:00 in the morning for a nature call and again, when my clock went off, I was hearing Casting Crowns singing this bit from their song “Thrive!”

Joy unspeakable, faith unsinkable
Love unstoppable, anything is possible

I’ve written about this song before, (read previous post, THRIVE!, here) but this morning, I’m hearing a different piece of the lyric.

Joy unspeakable. What does unspeakable joy look like? How much joy must be in my heart for me to not be able to articulate how joyful I feel? When was the last time I felt that much joy?? How long since I was speechless with joy, overcome with emotion at how much joy I felt? I always imagine the joy of a little child when they’re so happy and excited they just scream and jump up and down.

Faith unsinkable. I’m a chef wanna-be, so my visual on this is olive oil in a pot of water. You CANNOT make it sink. It floats on the top of the water. Even after it’s been stirred to a frenzy, it separates itself out and rises to the top again, coming together and floating, unsinkable. That’s the kind of faith I want! Even when the devil stirs me to a frenzy, I want to have the kind of faith that pulls itself together and rises to the top, unsinkable in its resolve to follow Christ.

Love unstoppable. There have been people in my life that I thought loved me. They didn’t. They stopped. So was it really love they felt for me? Or something else? If we truly love, can we stop? Love unstoppable makes me think of my children. Nothing could make me stop loving my children. Period. And if I am a child of God, nothing can separate me from his perfect love. Romans 8:38-39.

Anything is possible. ANYTHING is possible. Anything IS possible. Anything is POSSIBLE. If I have this kind of joy, faith, and love in my life, then anything is possible. God already does. He expresses his joy as he sings over us, He has faith in us as His own, and His love is perfect… Poured into us.

Anything is possible with God.

Hope CAN change everything

Hope can change everything.

These are the words singing through my mind this morning as I sit in the pedicure chair at the salon, waiting for my turn to get my feet and hands beautiful. (One of my favorite things to do on vacation.)

I don’t know about you, but the word “hope” falls too easily off my tongue and out of my mouth. As in, “I hope it doesn’t rain.” Or, “here’s hoping!” Or, “I hope this color looks good on my toes.”

If hope CAN change everything, and I believe it can, then should I use the word so freely and carelessly?  Paul’s famous letter to the Corinthians says, “faith, hope, and love abide, these three.” They abide, they dwell, they live in us if we are in Christ. We don’t have to go looking for it… hope is already there, deep in our hearts!  Just when we wonder where it went, it reaches through the darkness and shines His light on us, showing us there is more. There is a future. There is a reason to sing.

Hope CAN change everything. Click here to listen to this song by K-love fan awards artists.

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Where feet may fail

Oceans. That’s the official title of the song in my head this morning. Here’s a link to hear an acoustic version… I love this one!! Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

This is a United song (formerly Hillsong United) and one of my favorites. Here are some of the lyrics…

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

(Chorus)
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh man is this one so packed full of what I need!!! For months and months I have felt God calling me to something else. But I haven’t yet gotten a definition for “else” or any sense of what “else” is going to look like. So when I hear this song, I just have to lift it as a prayer that God will lead me to whatever “else” is waiting for me. That the Holy Spirit will lead me to the place where my trust has no border, no limit. That God would take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, so that my faith will be all I have to stand on.

Even as I write that, it scares me to think about my faith being all I have to stand on because I love security. Having money in the bank and the bills paid. Food on the table and clothes in my closet. Being able to take a vacation every year if we want. Just the knowledge that these things are there and available is important to me. So if my faith is all I’m standing on, what happens next?

Then this line in the song jumps out at me… “In the presence of my Savior.” My faith is made stronger in the presence of my Savior. Not in my own strength or by actively doing anything… Except trusting. Without borders.

So I guess my job is to call on the name of Jesus and keep my eyes above the waves when they get too high. I love the promise in this song… My soul will rest in His embrace because I am His. And He is mine.

The Voice of Truth

I woke up late this morning. It was one of those nights when I didn’t feel well, didn’t sleep well, and every time I woke up I had a different song in my head. Maybe the songs were keeping me awake! Regardless, this morning when I finally did get up, these lyrics were constant and on repeat in my brain.

But I listen to the sound of Jesus singing over me.
And the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
And the voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I would choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

This is an older Casting Crowns song, and it begins with

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
On to the crashing waves

That’s where I am right now. In a boat that feels like it’s supporting me, but it’s taken on leaks and I’m faced with bailing and hoping for the best until things change. OR climbing out of the boat onto the waves and taking that step of faith “out of my comfort zone into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is.” But the “waves” in my world, the obstacles that get between me and Jesus sometimes, “call out my name and they laugh at me.”

Sometimes I just have this feeling deep down that I won’t ever win, that I’ve tried before and failed so many times. So, what makes me think this time will be any different? It depends. Who am I going to listen to?? I like to think I’m an intelligent person, but scripture warns against someone who is “wise in her own eyes.”

But the great thing is (to quote Pooh) that I get to choose whether I will listen to the gremlins in my life tell me that I will fail, that it will never work, that we can’t afford it, that the sky will fall IF. Or whether I will choose to listen to the voice of Truth… The One that tells me not to be afraid, the voice that sings over me while I sleep and tells me of His love and mercy. The same voice that prays for me even when I don’t know how to pray for myself. The same voice that raised the dead can raise me out of that boat so that I can walk toward Him in the middle of my storm.

He never promised that it would be easy, but He did promise that He would be with me. And if I keep my eyes on Him, I can step out of that boat and walk on the waves of fear and doubt, rejection and illness, toward the life He has called me to live.

listen to Casting Crowns, The Voice of Truth