Archive for September 2017

from Prepare Yourself for Worship

Your Implanted Word
Matthew 13

As we worship, You will sow among us
Your Word,
Your precious, eternal, life-giving truth,
Your truth about Jesus Christ, Your Son.
Your Word will be read, sung, taught, and proclaimed.

O Father, help me receive it with an
open mind and
open heart.
Help me to listen as Your Spirit whispers it to me.
Help me to nurture Your implanted Word with
trust and
obedience.

Father, may the seed of Your Word
grow in my heart and life and
bear much fruit,
all to Your glory. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Bless This Seed
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

A Personal Reflection

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

I’ve been in full-time Christian ministry for forty-four years. I began in 1973, teaching at God’s Bible School in Cincinnati. Two years later I moved to Kansas City to work for Lillenas Publishing Company, where I spent 34 years. Since leaving there at the end of 2009, God has focused me on writing and publishing hymns and devotional material. All my adult life I’ve also been active in my local church, mostly teaching the Bible.

From my own experience, I offer this testimony:

God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed (2 Corinthians 9:8, NASB).

God has fully equipped me for absolutely everything He has ever called me to do. Every task, every time.

Have I always felt confident in myself? Heavens, no. Usually the opposite. Though I’ve been teaching for all these years, public speaking has never come naturally to me. But God uses me, enables me, and always gives me a message that I know is from Him. He shares His wisdom with me, and He shares His wisdom through me.

I’ve written over 600 hymns, a number of books, a regular blog, and articles for a variety of uses and formats. But every morning as I get up to write, I deeply feel my total inadequacy for that day’s task. Every single morning. Before I get out of bed, I pray, reminding God of my total dependence on Him. I make myself available to Him, telling Him that I can only do what He enables me to do.

For my part, I pray, study, prepare thoroughly, rest, exercise, try to take care of myself, and work hard. I do my best with everything I write, whatever the task. And at the end of the day, sometimes I feel comfortable with the results of that day’s writing. Sometimes I don’t. But I keep it committed to Him, and I trust Him to work in His own way and time.

Even though I am not confident in myself, I am confident in Him. And He never, ever lets me down. As long as I look to Him, He never abandons me to my own weakness and incompetency. Forty-four years and counting. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Speak Your Word, My Father
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

Immersed in God

Father, when I focus on myself,
I get lost in the darkness of my
childish fears and
frustrated desires.
I am a prisoner in my own smallness.

But when I look up at the night sky,
I am immersed in Your glorious immensity,
O Sovereign God,
Eternal Creator,
my Lord,
my Father!
You who guide all this universe
guide my life as well,
silently,
seamlessly,
as I simply trust You.

I am Your dear child,
Your treasure,
and You leave nothing to chance.
You embrace me every moment
in Your mighty arms and
in the blanket of Your perfect love.

O Father,
my Father,
I am Yours!
I rest
right here in You!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Speak, I Am Listening
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

from Prepare Yourself for Worship

The Reason We Sing

Father, we sing to
praise You,
to give You some meager portion of all
the gratitude and
glory that we owe.

We sing to focus our
minds,
bodies, and
spirits on You
in all Your
beauty and
magnificence.

We sing to
remind ourselves who You are, to
strengthen our faith in You.

We sing to
know You better, to
open ourselves more fully to Your Spirit’s teaching.

We sing to testify to others just how
good,
loving, and
faithful You are.

Father, here in Your presence
Your greatness compels us to sing.
May we let nothing hinder us.
Nothing, Lord.
No distractions.
No petty personal preferences.
No judgmental attitudes toward our brothers and sisters.
No hindrances, Lord.
Our reasons for singing are so much greater than
any reasons to hold back.
Help us sing of You and Your truth with all the
heart,
soul,
spirit, and
physical energy You deserve.

We will sing, Father, because
we sing of YOU!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: The Reason We Sing
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

When You Don’t Belong

You live far away from what feels like home,
far from those so dear to you.
You feel like
a foreigner,
an exile,
like you just don’t belong here.
Life has been unfair, and
the years continue to roll by with
your deepest longings frustrated.

You are in excellent company!
I have just described the life stories of
Joseph (coat-of-many-colors Joseph),
Daniel, and
Moses.
Their lives were riddled with
alienation and
hardship.

Yet because they lived in “a foreign land,”
God used them to introduce Himself
to many who otherwise would have never known Him.

Through their hardship,
God refined them.
He shaped them into
special servants,
uniquely His own.
Through their suffering, He showed the world just how
great and
good and
wonderful He is!

You are in the personal care of the
all-wise,
all-loving,
almighty God.
No matter what your situation,
He is right now working all things for
your good and
the good of countless others.
Smile!
Rejoice! 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: God Is Working All Around You
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

Complete in Jesus

John 14:4-11

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” (John 14:6-7, NASB)

Do you want to know God better?
Jesus is the Way.
Walk in His steps.

Do you want to know and live the truth?
Jesus is the Truth.
See your life and your world entirely through Him.

Do you want all the fullness,
all the satisfaction,
all the fruitfulness that life can bring?
Jesus is the Life.
Live from Him, through Him, and to Him.

Jesus wants to bring us to God.
He wants to give us all that God is and all He offers.
He wants to make us complete in Himself.

Forget everything this world dangles in front of you.
Want Jesus.
Know Jesus.
Trust Jesus.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: My Life, My Love, My Joy
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

from Prepare Yourself for Worship

We Come Seeking You

We do not come for the music.
We do not come for the preaching.
We do not come for the people.

Father, we come hungry for You.
We come thirsty for You.

As we read,
speak, Father.
We are listening.
As we pray,
hear and answer.
We are looking up to You.
As we teach,
as we preach,
fill our minds.
Draw our hearts.
Reshape our lives.

Almighty God,
All-wise God,
God who truly, deeply, eternally seeks the very best for us,
we come seeking You. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: We Come Seeking You
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

Restlessness

Earth has nothing I desire besides you (Psalm 73:25, NIV).

Look at your shelves and closets. Think back, and be honest. How many of your purchases were driven by a vague restlessness, by an indefinable discontentment? How often were you reaching for something new to stimulate your life? Without even realizing it, were you searching for some spark that might make life just a little better, a little more fulfilling?

Purchasing is only one expression of that restlessness. How many of your desires – both the small, daily ones and those that are deeper and more long-term – are driven by that same searching? We reach for personal achievement or recognition; for personal pleasure, from eating to immorality; perhaps for travel or a new job. The possibilities are as endless as the varied facets of our personalities. I can’t discern your motivations, but I have seen it in myself: a wanting, a searching, an aspiring and dreaming. The desire usually enters unrecognized. I scratch without even realizing it itches.

As I look back, I see that I satisfy old desires only for new ones to take their place. Seldom do I gain any happiness – a bit of comfort sometimes, but not happiness. Such a pattern can stretch into a lifetime of chasing our tails. Our blind attempts at satisfying ourselves only make our lives more complex through addictions and cumbersome habits. We accumulate “conveniences” to repair and worry about, spending ourselves on “treasures” that just sit on the shelf and mock our weakness. We are only buying new dissatisfactions.

I’m not condemning all these things. I’m only sharing a bit of self-understanding that might help you as well. And I’m sharing a discovery: God does not fit this pattern. I have come to know Him as a real Being, an intriguing Person who is continually with me and lives within me. The more I turn to Him, the more He proves Himself fulfilling, on both deep and practical levels – beyond what I ever could have imagined. The more I know Him, the more I want to know Him and interact with Him.

I can’t tell you how to lose that restlessness, that itch that expresses itself in so many ways. But you can do what I’m doing: every time you recognize that restlessness, turn it on God. Look to Him instead of to anything else. The more you carry your needs and desires to Him, the more you’ll discover that He is your joy. He is that stimulation and inner spark. And He will be as satisfying and personal to you as you allow Him to be.

Loving Christ – truly loving Him – can simplify life. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: The Only Good Is Jesus
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

Feast on Jesus

God feeds His people –
lavishly,
abundantly.
We see it throughout the Bible and
throughout history.
As our Creator and Provider,
He gives us all the nourishment our bodies need.
Our original home was a garden,
rich with food.
He spread a banquet for His people
in the barren wilderness.
He fed the five thousand with more than they could eat,
all from a child’s lunch.

He cares about our physical well-being…
but, O, so much more!
He is eager to feed our complete selves,
our bodies, minds, and spirits,
not just to satisfy us for a few hours, but forever.

What is the banquet the Father spreads for His people?
The banquet He spreads is Jesus.
All God’s blessings flow to us through Him.
In Jesus He offers us all we could ever need:
His peace and joy,
His innocence before God,
His holy, unending life,
His sufficiency in every situation,
His beautiful, unbroken relationship with the Father.

Gather with God’s people and feast on Jesus.
Come feast on His Word,
His wisdom,
His Spirit,
His body broken and His blood poured out.

The feast is spread.
Come…feast on Jesus. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Come and Feast
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

from Prepare Yourself for Worship

This Is the One We Follow

Father, as I prepare for worship,
help me see Jesus hanging on the cross.
Help me see Him as He truly was:
the blood,
the nakedness,
the pain wrenching His body.
Help me see Him humbled,
repulsive,
dying,
abandoned.

Father, remind me –
remind us:
This is our God.
This is His passionate love.
This is our Leader,
our Shepherd,
the One we imitate.
This is our goal,
our ambition,
our Way,
our Truth,
our Life.
This is the standard that guides our
every day and
every decision.

This is the way we deny ourselves.
This is the cross we carry.
This is the One we follow. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Christ Crucified
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

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