“Heaven can’t contain the glory of the Son”

•April 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Thursday night, we planned our our set list for Valley View Mennonite Church’s Sonrise Service. Since then we have been practicing the songs, but the truth in these songs just cannot be practiced without an overwhelming feeling of God’s presence. I would like to share these songs, with parts of the lyrics, and my thoughts. 🙂

Above All

“Crucified
Laid behind a stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose
Trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
Above all”

This has been one of my favorites for a long time. I think I posted it last year for Easter. But it still hits home every time. That He would be crucified and laid in a borrowed tomb because of what I have done and continue to do everyday to Him, He still treasures me above all. Oh, to love like Jesus.

You Are So Good to Me

“You are my strong melody
You are my dancing rhythm
You are my perfect rhyme
And I want to sing forever”

I love this song. It’s upbeat and catchy. And so true. He is beautiful, our sweet, sweet song! He is the Father in Heaven, He is the Spirit inside me, He is the Jesus Who loves me!

Grace Like Rain

“Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, they’re washed away”

Another favorite. “Hallelujah” is my favorite word ever. I like the way that the Amazing Grace’s verses are completely intact.

The Saving One

“No fear can hold me down
Nor darkness steal my joy
For blood has been poured out
The enemy destroyed
Death could not hold Him down
The cross was not enough
To steal away His throne
For He is God”

Truth, only truth. This song is acoustic, which is lovely, but I like the real version too. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nd8ujAKZWik&feature=related)

Hosanna

“I see a generation
Rising up to take the place
With selfless faith, with selfless faith
I see a near revival
Stirring as we pray and seek
We’re on our knees, we’re on our knees”

This is my favorite part of the song. Starfield is the band we base our version off of, but the other versions are great too. 🙂 I love the fact that the words shouted as our Savior entered Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey are used in this song.

Amazing Love (You Are My King)

“Amazing love, how can it be
That You, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love, I know it’s true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do, to honor You”

We do the Newsboys version, but again, the other versions are awesome too. 🙂 This is such a simple song, but it’s just so true. There is no denying Jesus is King!

My Savior, My God

“That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior”

I love the hymn feeling of this song. It just feels so heartfelt and vulnerable. So beautiful.

Lead Me to the Cross

“Everything I once held dear
I count it all as lost”

Everything is summed up in those two lines. Reminds me of Philippians 3:7.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

We use the Seventh Day Slumber version here. You know the drill. 🙂 This is also the only song that we do entirely acoustic. Absolutely gorgeous.

I encourage you to dwell on the words of truth found in these songs. Most importantly, dwell on the words of Jesus Christ. We always say that Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, but He is the King of this season. He is risen!

Jesus Freak!

•March 28, 2011 • 1 Comment

“What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it’s true
[oh oh]
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain’t no disguising the truth”

 

Typically people think of “they” as the world, unbelievers. But what if the “they” is other believers? Sometimes other believers will condemn you if you’re a Jesus freak, for going all-out and just surrendering your whole world for Christ. I started thinking about this as we were worshiping God yesterday morning at the end of Valley View Mennonite Church’s 30 Hour Famine (which I participated in). We sang the song “Hungry” and I began to wonder what would happen if we asked ourselves to give up more than food for more than 30 hours. Can you imagine…

  • a day without clean drinking water?
  • a week without any food?
  • a month without a warm home or bed?
  • a year without any form of healthcare in an illness-ridden society?
  • a lifetime without any media (books, music, tv, magazines)?

Yet everyday, poverty-stricken communities and families in every nation live this way. While they struggle to find their next meal, we struggle to scrape together $15,000 for a new car. While they struggle to find clothing, we struggle to find the perfect size in the right brand name. What if everyday, we were asked to give up our comforts? I feel like a huge hypocrite right now, as I tap this out on the laptop I own, in a warm home, wearing clothes that come from my enormous wardrobe, as healthy as I’ll ever be, with a full stomach, employed at two jobs. But the point I am attempting to reach is the scorn that I may face when I give up my jobs, my income, my warm home, my wardrobe, my healthcare, even a meal or two when full-time ministry with StillWaiting calls me to join them on the road. I may be homeless and penniless, living on a bus with 4 men and 3 other women, desperately trying to make ends meet just to get to the next show. We pray that God’s grace will never lead us there, but we also prepare ourselves to be fully vulnerable to what trials God may lead us through.  And I also prepare myself that my Christian friends and acquaintances will forsake me for following the words of Jesus, because I am taking it one step too far. I’m just a little too passionate for the Gospel. I am a Jesus freak. Shouldn’t I be saving my money to buy a house? Shouldn’t I eat well? Shouldn’t I clothe myself a certain way? Shouldn’t I take care of my health by having insurance?

 

Christ does not say, “Follow me when you’re financially secure”, “follow me as long as you’re getting fed three square meals a day”, “follow me as long as you can comfortably”. He says, “Follow me. Now.” In Matthew 9:9, Matthew does not go home, pack his bags, say good bye to family and friends, fill his wallet, and then follow Jesus. He gets up from his workplace…and follows. And every time Christ gives instructions before asking a disciple to follow Him, it is to serve others by sacrificing their belongings.

 

But that’s a no-no. God is happy with you just doing your thing and doing “as much as you can” as long as you stay comfortable. He would never ask you to leave financial security to follow Him. That’s madness. You don’t give all of yourself and God won’t radically change your life and make you uncomfortable. That’s the way to do it.

 

You’re missing out.

 

Jesus freaks are just that: freaks. And others who say they know Jesus will shun you, admonish you, try to pull you back to your comfortable state of being. I say, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” for he is the one making lukewarm Christians, making us content with our comfortable lives, making us fear being Jesus freaks.

 

I want to live my life a freak. And if Christians despise that, then so be it. I’ll forsake my comfort to follow Him. I will leave what I have behind me to be His servant.

 

And what will they think?

Higher Ground 2010

•September 21, 2010 • 1 Comment

This year on our Higher Ground leadership team we had Kayla Hughes, Katie Hughes, Matt Hughes, Emilie Buhl, Eli Buhl, Noah Dietz, Peep Dietz, Sarah Cass (intermittently), Kayla Rossey (intermittently), Andy Fitzpatrick (speaker), StillWaiting, and Furthermore. Just a little bit of background. We were far more on the ball this year since we’d been through it once and I’d been to a couple similar youth events over the past year.

We started half an hour late since we were waiting on the ReaLife Assembly youth group — and they were well worth the wait. 🙂 We had about 50 kids in attendance this year. We started with Emilie opening with a small explanation and some Scripture and the introduction of Furthermore. We had the blessing of booking them at their EP release party in February, about 7 months in advance and they graciously accepted. Their set got the kids pretty pumped for the rest of the evening. Immediately afterward, Andy (Fitz) presented his message. I have heard several good reports about it so that was pretty exciting. Then we had a break. By this time, we were ahead of schedule (praise God!) and at the end of the break, we announced door prizes which turned out pretty good. And then it was my turn to speak.

Confession time: I wrote my message on the Monday of the same week. Didn’t touch it for the rest of the week. Friday night/Saturday morning, I had a 12:10 AM panic about it which Garrett King talked me through and gave me a lot of pointers which proved to be highly useful.

I presented my message and it turned out decent. People say they liked it, but of course that’s what they’re going to say to your face. 😛 We sent the kids outside for games, which Katie, Peep and Eli organized. They played one game, then pizza arrived and they were quite ready to eat. They ate then we sent them outside for a second game while StillWaiting soundchecked. Right on schedule, the boys started up.  In the middle of it, the ReaLife Assembly group had to leave. We were sad to see them go. 😦 After they rocked their set, they moved right into some worship. This was my favorite part of the whole event. Don’t be surprised if 10 minutes from now you’re still reading about it. 😛

The energy in the building was mind blowing. You could feel God flowing through the individuals and touching hearts. Arms of Love turned out to be the amazing. They played it during the altar call. I happened to sob through said altar call. Christ keeps His promise over and over again of giving me His heart. It was a breaking, compassionate heart at the time. And then just as quickly as it started, it ended. On schedule, perfectly.

I could not ask for a better 5 hours of my life. Yes, I know you’ve heard that before. But it truly changed my life. These experiences are shaping me into what I should be.

To God be the glory! May He reign in us!

“So reign, please reign in us/Come purify our hearts, we need Your touch/Come cleanse us like a flood and send us out/So the world may know You reign, You reign in us” (Starfield; Reign In Us)

Oh. Wow.

•June 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

38 hours is far too short a time to have so much fun. Yet I managed. 😀

I left home at 5 pm Tuesday evening. Departed from Spartansburg at 6-ish. Did not eat at Taco Bell in Meadville for fear of throwing it all up in the hippie van. But had a limeade instead. Worked on my certification tests. Saw fireflies around dusk blinking over the tall grass alongside the road. Pretty little things. Looked like God had dusted the landscape with glitter. Was very tired from all the fresh air being sucked through the van. (The A/C doesn’t work so we open all the windows that do open.) Arrived at the hotel in New Philadelphia, OH right around 10:30-11. Can’t really remember. Got in our rooms. Jess, Kate and Holly went swimming in the pool. Susan and I didn’t. I worked on my tests some more. The boys played guitar in their room. (I have amazing hearing abilities. I could hear it at the pool. :P) Headed upstairs to our room and got around. Went to bed. Fell asleep the first time. Had horrid nightmares about work. Woke up. Got paranoid about not hearing my phone alarm. Got out of bed and got my phone. I sleep better with it in my hand. 😛 Fell asleep the second time. Dreamed nicely until the alarm went off. 5 hours is not enough, interrupted or not interrupted. Got my shower and waited around for everyone to get ready. Threw my stuff in the van. Got breakfast. Ran to the van, so that they wouldn’t leave me behind. 😛 Took off for Alive. Went around and around in circles. Kept my mouth shut. Finally got on the right track. Took a few more detours. Discovered we should never trust phone GPSs. Made it to Alive nonetheless. Got in with little to no trouble. Felt bad for Bryan. Was mistaken for stage crew. Learned how to fold tarps. Corrected the mistake, praise the Lord. Waited for the boys to play. Stood in the front row and cheered them on. Sweated 60 gallons of sweat. 😛 Hung out and cheered Furthermore. on. Hung out some more while waiting for the hippie van to arrive. It arrived and I changed into a tank top. Walked all the way up to the main stage and vendor tents. Observed a strange being rolling in ice. (I swear, it was not my idea! :P) Watched set-up on the main stage. Walked back. Found food. Ate it. Mooched. 😛 Stuck around waiting for the storm to hit. Listened to House of Heroes during the wait. Storm hit. It got bad and we sat in the van and watched tents blow over. Then it settled down and we got out and helped keep water of the stage and canopies. Eavesdropped on some exciting conversations. Ate more food. Walked to the main stage again. Got my legs and feet covered in mud. 😀 Listened to a little bit of Seventh Day Slumber. Fell in love with the beginning of their altar call. Missed the rest of it, but had fun walking with Holly to her parents’ van and back. Ate again. 😀 Listened to Brandon Heath. He looks a little like Gerard Butler sometimes. But he also looks like a guy my dad used to work with. I liked how relaxed he was on stage. Royce observed that the drummer looks like Genie from Aladdin, and he did. Left for the hippie van. Stopped along the way to let the boys frog hunt in a puddle. Got to the van and embarked for home. Fell asleep for a little. Then stayed up the rest of the way. Stopped in Meadville again for food and drinks and bathrooms. They wouldn’t let us take the bathrooms with us. Continued on to Sparty. Got there about 1:30 am. Left for home-home at 1:40-ish. Got home about 2:15. Talked until 2:45. Went to bed at almost 3:30. Got up at 7:30. Thus ended the most incredible 38 hours of my life. 🙂

Politickles

•June 6, 2010 • 1 Comment

Right off the bat, I usually don’t dabble in politics. Can’t stand them. Drives me absolutely crazy. But I did have a thought this morning on the subject.

We can’t legislate morality. Actually, we can. It’s just not going to make much sense until the people want them. It’s more wise to disciple the American people, then the legislation of morality will follow. If we do it before, it’s basically no different than what we have now except it’s in our favor. And as much as we would like it that way, it’s still not right.

That said, I don’t think it’s wrong to elect the right officials. I don’t think it’s wrong to selective in whom we choose to lead our country. But whoever is elected is not going to change our country. It’s already headed there, the people just want it there faster. It’s a reflection, not an image to follow. The people lead. And you can easily see where we’re going. Getting angry with our government, our laws, our political leaders isn’t doing much. It’s your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers that are making these decisions. What are you doing to change their minds? What should you be doing to their minds? Putting up twice as many political yard signs? Handing out flyers? Telling them the horrible offenses or outstanding accomplishments of the individual candidates? Explaining what you believe they don’t understand about taxes or what-have-you? Or showing them a little everyday brotherly love, telling them about your God and the correct order of civil laws. Once transformed by Christ, the morality will come, then the legislation.

Morality cannot be forced on any one individual. We as Christians should know about someone’s religion being forced on us. We are angry that the Muslims are here, we hate that they force their morals and religion on others. We hate that the atheists ask that their “religion of evolution” be discussed and even taught, forced, on our children in public schools. They all have human rights to believe what they wish just as much as we do. But the more Christians we have in the nation, the more morality will be legislated.

That was pretty much all the thought I have into politics. 🙂

Black & White

•May 12, 2010 • 1 Comment

I wrote this last night at 11 PM. Just a little background. 😉

I just watched Speak. I read the book a couple months ago and the raw emotions of the story really haunted me. The unrefined feelings of pain and fear and apathy and simple joy…stories with these qualities capture my heart. Sure, the stories of hope and forgiveness and joy are dear to me, but what are they without doubt, agony, brokenness, and being lost. There cannot be a story of good with no evil to compare it to and make it good.

Maybe this all just relates to my own life and the life story we are all living. What is the love of Christ without the hatred of the world? What is His salvation without our perpetual and utter desperation of being lost? What is His forgiveness and redemption without the grudges and records of wrongs?

There must always be a comparison. A Satan exists because a God does. Hatred exists because love does. Pride exists because humility does. Emptiness exists because fullness does. There is no dark without light, no shadows without light. There is no black without white.

My heart longs to share the reality of these feelings as Laurie Halse Anderson has. These “ungodly” emotions exist because God offers the healing of them. They magnify and glorify His position in our lives.

That is why they are important. That is why they speak to me. They speak to be heard. They speak to be answered.

Can We Know God?

•March 19, 2010 • 4 Comments

This question has been tumbling around in my head recently. Can we really know God?

I John 3:6 tells us,

No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

That is blatant. If you sin, you don’t know God. If you knew God, you would be incapable of sin. That is how much knowing Him can transform you.

The apostle Paul states in I Corinthians 13:9,

For we know in part and we prophesy in part.

This would lead me to conclude, basically, that we cannot truly know God. We can know His attributes, but His whole Being is something finite man cannot grasp or comprehend. Perfection is something we have not seen since the Garden of Eden and since Christ’s time on earth.

Another thing that has been in the forefront of my mind is just how big and awesome God is. It dawned on me a couple weeks ago that He sees every single person ever to exist in all eternity. We think that however millions of people on this planet at this minute is a lot? He sees everyone from the beginning of time to the end of time, in the future. And He sees them all at once. Do you know how many millions upon millions upon millions of people that is? Yet, He knows every single one of them, desires a relationship with them, years to be their God. It gives new meaning to Romans 8:35-39:

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you read any portion of many of the Old Testament books, you will see many pictures of God’s love. How He always takes Israel back after she has been unfaithful to Him. When humans do this to each other, we wonder how stupid the other has to be to keep taking the unfaithful back. In some ways this is an unhealthy relationship, but in other ways, this is exactly how God treated/will treat Israel and how He treats us. Repeatedly we place something of absolutely no worth above Him. We chase cheap thrills and short-term emotions. We seek what we crave in things that can never live up to our expectations. The entire time, God is calling us back to Him, wooing us, breaking for us every time we turn our eyes to the filth of the world. And He is so persistent that eventually, we break. We fall to pieces and allow Him to take us back in His arms. We gaze into the face we couldn’t look upon before because of our guilt and we know that we are forgiven.

And so it continues, day after day, hour after hour. It never changes; God never grows weary of forgiving us and pursuing us.

We can never fully grasp or understand this concept. It baffles us and rightly so. We cannot know God. (Yes, I managed to tie all this together. ;)) We can only know what He does for us.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4)