I Sing Because I'm Free!

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hands

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Do you ever wonder 

if God has hands?

And how He formed the face

of this beautiful land?

How He carved the mountains

and the valley below?

Did He hand-pick every green thing

and tell them all to grow?

Do you ever wonder?

Do you ever wonder if God has hands?

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17

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Do you ever marvel over the simplest things?  Like hands, for instance….

We totally take them for granted!  It’s AMAZING the things we can do with our hands!  The fact that I can sit here and type all these letters out, and all 10 of my fingers can work together independently is a miracle!

And how about-

Tying our shoes?

or lacing your fingers through someone else’s hand?

how about painting… or coloring?

or playing piano?

I am so thankful for the hands God gave me!

I have often thought back to my early days of taking piano lessons.  I was about 12, and my teacher was in his early 20’s.  I clearly remember him saying this during one of my early lessons-

“You know, you don’t really have “piano hands”…your fingers aren’t long enough…”

And I remember feeling a lump in my throat and a sinking feeling in my heart.

Because playing piano was the ONLY thing besides singing that I loved doing! So what that my fingers are short and stubby?

I didn’t let that stop me from doing what I loved.

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As I continued playing piano, I improvised when I needed to- like omitting those crazy chords that had over an octave span.  I learned that it was ok to not play every note on the page and that playing piano with passion could make up for any technical skills I was lacking.

And honestly, I hated playing piano in front of people.  Extreme “stage fright” came over me whenever I had a recital, or even when someone asked for me to play for them.  I have often said it felt like I was a pet being asked to do a “trick”.  So besides teaching lessons, I only played for my own enjoyment.

Until I completely gave my life to Jesus.  I told Him that day- even the music I played would be His!

That was a life-changing moment for me. Within a few months, I began leading worship.

And the most amazing thing happens to me every Sunday when I lead worship-it’s almost like He puts gloves on my hands.  I don’t even have to think about what I’m playing.  The worship music just flows-it’s like my fingers are dancing across the keys!   It is the most wonderful miracle that He allows me to play in such a way that I am able to be 100% focused on Him and worship when I am leading music at church.

So, no- I’m not the best pianist.  And singing? There are better out there.  But when we say YES to God, He takes whatever our limited talents are and He makes up the difference.

Our ability to be used is not limited by our short comings (or short fingers, in my case 😉

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me-  2 Corinthians 12:9 

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no turning back

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I have always loved hymns, and in particular, learning the stories behind how they were written.  The story behind I Have Decided to Follow Jesus is one that I found particularly moving…

“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” is a Christian hymn originating from India.

The lyrics are based on the last words of a man in north-east India, who along with his family, was converted to Christianity in the middle of the 19th century through the efforts of a Welsh missionary.

Called to renounce his faith by the village chief, the convert declared, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” In response to threats to his family, he continued, “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.” His wife was killed, and he was executed while singing, “The cross before me, the world behind me.” This display of faith is reported to have led to the conversion of the chief and others in the village.

The formation of these words into a hymn is attributed to the Indian missionary Sadhu Sundar Singh. The melody is also Indian, and entitled “Assam” after the region where the text originated.The fierce opposition is possible as various tribes in that area were formerly renowned for head-hunting.  

An American hymn editor, William Jensen Reynolds, composed an arrangement which was included in the 1959 Assembly Songbook.

SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Have_Decided_to_Follow_Jesus

Often when we sing these words, we think of leaving behind frivolous things- like selfishness, a life of partying, or other things like gossiping or gambling.  When I think of this missionary and the courage he had to sing these words as he watched his own family be taken from him- and then knowing that his own life would be taken, too- it takes on a whole new meaning.  Are you willing to give up everything for the sake of following Christ?  

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.  Luke 14:33

“No Turning Back”

I have decided to follow Jesus

No turning back, no turning back

Hallelujah, hallelujah!

The world behind me, the cross before me

No turning back, no turning back

Hallelujah, hallelujah!

Though none go with me, still I will follow

No turning back, no turning back

Hallelujah, hallelujah!

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Hungry

If we're not hungry for Christ, we're probably too full of ourselves — via @MurrJohnson
You, Lord, are all I want!
    You are my choice,
    and you keep me safe.
 You make my life pleasant,
    and my future is bright.
Psalm 16:5-6 (CEV)

If you’re anything like me, when I start making good “diet” choices, those are the things that I begin to crave.  Like drinking water- that’s not really something I like to drink, but when I am intentional to get in my 6-8 glasses, I notice how much better I feel when I make those good choices.

It’s like that with seeking the Lord, too. When we get sidetracked with life, we can easily forget how desperately we need a steady diet of Him… but when we are intentional to read the Word, to pray, and to seek His presence- He faithfully fills our cup.

For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Psalm 107:9

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get thee behind me

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“get thee behind me” 

everywhere I look

temptations lurk

seeking to derail

hoping I fail

and fall

into sin’s trap

sticky like sap

it clings to me

images of

the enemy

and what he

wants me to be

Get thee

behind me!

By the grace of He

and His mercy

I am now free

So to the enemy

I say-

make like a tree

Since He himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.  Hebrews 2:18

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dream a little dream

 

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I woke up the other morning with JOY just flowing through my veins!  I mean, I was so excited, I couldn’t contain it!  I had the most amazing dream- it was one of those dreams that was so real, it was being in a movie!  I literally sat up in my bed and cheered- “Woohooo!!!”

The hubs was already awake, so I went into the living room to share the excitement with him, lol.

“Oh.My.GOODNESS!  I had the BEST dream EVER”, I tell my husband.

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Now, mind you, he’s not a morning person… so he smiled and said not now.  Go write it down and tell me all about it later.  He handed me a few pieces of paper from the printer and a pen and I sat down and tried to write fast enough to capture all the juicy details.

About 10 minutes later, he turned around to me and said are you STILL writing?!

Yep!  Almost done!

I won’t bore you with all the nitty-gritty details of my dream, but the main focus was that I had found something special that belonged to a stranger.  I tracked down the stranger and was about to give them this item, and then I lost it while I was in the mall.  I prayed and prayed that I would find it, and I had all sorts of shoppers and salespeople looking for it.

I remember the feeling of expectation I had in the dream- I just KNEW I was going to find this thing!  And sure enough, I did!  I was so overjoyed that I jumped up and down and raised both arms in the air and shouted “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord!”

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And that’s how I woke up that morning!  I was on cloud nine!  I wanted to jump up and down and tell the whole world how much I loved the Lord.

But the coolest thing happened to me that day-  I had that feeling of joy inside me ALL DAY LONG! I started thinking about how awesome it would be to wake up praising the Lord like that EVERY DAY- simply because we have another day to enjoy life!

Life’s all about perspective.

How different our lives would be if we saw every moment as an opportunity to praise the Lord!

I will praise the Lord at all times.
    I will constantly speak his praises.  Psalm 34

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Wish I could take your place

I experienced something recently that any mother can identify with.  My 8 year old was in terrible pain and nothing I did made it better.  She had a horrible toothache and was running a fever.  I was sure she had an infection, and knew I had to take her to the dentist the next day.  Going to the dentist is her biggest fear, and just the mention of it makes her tremble.

She was up all through the night, crying and begging me not to take her to the dentist.  Honestly, I wanted to cry right along with her.  I hate seeing her in pain.  And I hate that she has this fear of going to the dentist. All I want to do is take the pain away from her.  I would do anything to sit in that dentist chair for her, and feel all the pain myself.

As I thought about how awful it is to watch your children go through pain, I began to think of Mary and imagine how she must have felt watching her Son, Jesus, experience the most horrible, terrible pain any human could imagine.  Right before her very eyes.  I wonder if she wanted to take His place on that cross.  I wonder if she knew that He was in fact, taking her place… taking my place.. taking all of our place on that cross.  There He hung, and bled on a tree, taking the pain of our sins away for all eternity. If our Heavenly Father’s grace is sufficient for Mary, surely His grace is sufficient for me.

He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. 1 John 2:2

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness  2 Corinthians 12:9

“Take Your Place”

Wide awake in pain
my baby’s up again
If I could take it away
I surely would
But I’ll do what it takes
and I pray for heaven’s sake
that He will give me strength
and make it good.
Cause I
cry a thousand tears
for every single drop
falling down your face
Cause I
wish that it were me
that I could shelter you
and I could take your place
that I could take your place

And when I visualize
the pain in Mary’s eyes
as she watched her Son
bleeding on the tree
Her baby He will be
for all eternity
and a Savior
for all the world to see
and I
cry a thousand tears
for every single drop
falling down your face
and I
wish that it were me
that I could shelter you
and I could take your place
that I could take your place.

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Helpless

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Most mornings I sit at the piano and sing whatever He puts on my heart…sometimes I sing my prayers.  One morning I wrote this song as I prayed to God.   So often I feel helpless- not knowing what to do, or what direction to go in.   It’s those moments like these  that I find comfort in knowing He is in control and He is with me.

 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  

Romans 8:26-27

Many times  I don’t even know how to pray or what to say… but this verse brings comfort to me-knowing that Jesus Himself is interceding and knows the deepest worries and desires of my heart.   As overwhelmed as life can get at times, I want to passionately pursue Christ and be obedient to all He asks of me.  He is everything my heart desires.

 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17

And I give thanks for these moments of complete helplessness, for He gently reminds me that I can do nothing without Him and that He is all that I need.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Helpless

Here I am in this moment waiting for You

To hear my cry, to hear my heart beating for You

and I have fallen so far

I don’t have the strength so I bow to all You are

I’m helpless without You

and I need You, come and fill my heart

I’m helpless away from You

You are everything that I desire

So I give to You my sacrifice of praise

I sing to You with everything I am

Lord, hear my voice, in this moment calling to You

I need You more than ever before.

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